Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Quiz Apr14

Let's not forget to do last time's quiz first.

1. Russell says belief in a future life is caused by what?

2. Our view of the universe as good or bad depends on what?

3. Why can there be no experience of a Deity?

4. When Russell looked back at "A Free Man's Worship" a quarter century after publishing it, what did he "still believe"? What had he abandoned?

5. What attitude does Russell detect in God's answer to Job?

6. What unites humanity?

Everybody post at least one, please, and be prepared to say a few words about it.

  • What more is there to a person than "a series of experiences connected by memory and ...habit?" 89
  • Does belief in Paradise reinforce pugnacity? 91
  • COMMENT: "Those who have the best poison gas will have the ethic of the future and will therefore be the immortal ones." 92
  • COMMENT: If the world is "the outcome of deliberate purpose, the purpose must have been that of a fiend." 93
  • Should philosophy seek to give "comfort and consolation"? 95, 100
  • Is the concept of timeless Reality relevant to life? 97
  • Do you take Spinoza or any other philosophers "aesthetically"? What does that mean? 100
  • Does our ability to examine, criticize, know, and create make us "superior"? 107
  • "Shall we worship force or shall we worship goodness." 109 False dichotomy?
  • Platonist Russell said we should "live constantly in the vision of the good." 110 What does that mean? Do you have to be a Platonist to do it?
  • What do you think of Stoic resignation? 110
  • COMMENT: "We must learn... that the world was not made for us." 111
  • What's sacred about the "inexhaustible mystery of existence"? 113 
Earth Week is coming, good time to listen to E.O. Wilson-

“Would I be happy if I discovered that I could go to heaven forever? And the answer is no. Consider this argument. Think about what is forever. And think about the fact that the human mind, the entire human being, is built to last a certain period of time. Our programmed hormonal systems, the way we learn, the way we settle upon beliefs, and the way we love are all temporary. Because we go through a life's cycle. Now, if we were to be plucked out at the age of 12 or 56 or whenever, and taken up and told, "Now you will continue your existence as you are. We're not going to blot out your memories. We're not going to diminish your desires." You will exist in a state of bliss - whatever that is - forever. [...] Now think, a trillion times a trillion years. Enough time for universes like this one to be born, explode, form countless star systems and planets, then fade away to entropy. You will sit there watching this happen millions and millions of times and that will be just the beginning of the eternity that you've been consigned to bliss in this existence.”

“It often occurs to me that if, against all odds, there is a judgmental God and heaven, it will come to pass that when the pearly gates open, those who had the valor to think for themselves will be escorted to the head of the line, garlanded, and given their own personal audience.”

Image result for e o wilson


  1. "It is only when we think abstractly that we have such a high opinion of man. Civilized states spend more than half their revenue on killing each other's citizens" (93).

    Is being optimistic about humanity in the past, present, or future unrealistic? Is human nature savage, and is this an changeable facet of human existence within our lifetimes? In the coming generations? Ever?

  2. Here is a link to a YouTube video about dieing in a game. I find it relevant because it stipulates how we might be able to survive death.

  3. Do you think we could survive death? If so would be like in the video or something else?

  4. COMMENT: "We must learn... that the world was not made for us." 111

    I think this is something we could talk about. I was actually walking to class this morning and thinking to myself how could one possibly believe that this world was not made for us? When you really look around...

    1. I would second the motion to have this discussion. For instance, when I look around I see many things that we made for us, but no evidence that the world itself was made for us.

  5. What more is there to a person than "a series of experiences connected by memory and ...habit?"

    Everything else. For those who believe wholeheartedly in the practice of mindfulness and being wholly in the present, one cannot distill oneself to a set of memories and acquired actions. Oneself is both of and in the present moment. The collection of memories and habits do not abide in this moment, though we can choose to perpetuate them.
    On the other side, human beings are known not just for what they are but also what they can do. Russell's definition does not account for potential. But I think our potential makes up just as much of who we are as does our past. I'm a completely different person when I believe there is a likelihood or even a possibility that I can achieve something. The notion of ability and potential are inextricable aspects of humanity. So then, only if the experiences Russell is accounting for includes both those gone by and those yet to come, can I be persuaded to the proximity of the notion that we are the sum of our experiences.

  6. Discussion Question

    Comment: "Brief and powerless is Man's life"

  7. Quiz Question

    Why does "Man create God, all-powerful and all good"?

    1. The way the universe is is different from the way in which most of mankind believes it should be. Power and goodness are essential to a god worthy of modern worship, because influence and morals are important to mankind.

  8. Do you agree with the Bishop of Birmingham that it would be "unintelligent, having made man, to let him perish"?

  9. COMMENT: "We must learn... that the world was not made for us."

    I think his idea here is simply to say that people's lives could be improved if they were to stop believing that they are necessarily entitled to anything. He states, "[t]o every man comes, sooner or later, the great renunciation." He isn't necessarily talking about the idea of whether a god created the Earth for the purpose of people and animals to live in a harmonious system. He's talking about how things in which the way the world functions allow people to find out that the world doesn't work "perfectly," for anyone. There are goods and desires that are going to be out of reach or disappointing, but by not focusing on things as "vain regrets," we can become wiser.

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