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barney tearspell
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In response to recent exchanges with +Heretic and +Nate Broady, I offer a definitive "Bert Poole" substitute for strawmen on the topics of the burden of agnostics like +Steve McRae, the definition of atheism and abuses by American Atheists, and how speech-acts plays a part in deriving what ought be the case.

Relevant links:
Three Black Heathens with Maute-meatball:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jx2FABoddg0

Explanation of Speech Acts by Ozy:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCz11E1t54o

Nate's claim to clarifying 5 years of confusion:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4i_IcZiZ6NA

Heretic's unwatchable video full of strawmen:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11jypsdkduY
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A very interesting case about bible studies in public schools and tangentially implied persecution of atheism. (My daughter is at the moment in the very same situation, one of only two kids in her class whose parents opted out of BS)

+Steve McRae +Nate Broady +Ozymandias Ramses II and likely many others would likely be very interested in this. It'd be exceptionally great if we could get Leonard to guest somewhere in the community.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vejWCvVRKoU&t=949s
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Merry Christmas to you all, dear friends. Whatever it means to you individually.
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This is relevant... for more than code

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZM9YdO_QKk
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Midnight accidentally starts a new youtube show: "Athena randomly reads..."

It looks promising

I suggested "stoicism" and it's really interesting to hear him read and react in real time.

+Athena Goddess of Wisdom and Warfare if you make this a regular show I'll be very interested in watching, even patreoning it.
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A few words about totems.

I think mankind is fundamentally religious (I think even atheists are religious in my idiosyncratic sense). Some obviously deny supernatural agents and the traditional religious views that accompany them, but that doesn't exhaust the landscape of religious belief nor do I think that picture of religious belief adequately captures what's happening. I think religion is by far the most complicated social phenomenon humans exhibit, and I think religious belief is found in our reliance on totems, which I'll try and explain.

I think social behavior is ultimately predicated on a more primitive kind of religiosity, and our language betrays this through its reliance of communally created axioms, or totems if you will (borrowing from Durkheim), which identify which in-group one is a part of(and hence provide a distinction between in-group and out-group). These totems are represented through certain words or phrases in the language we use when discussing a topic at hand (or in Wittgenstein's words, playing a language game). These representations serve to provide a skeletal structure to the language a group uses. An example I think would be the heuristics many people use to ridicule the ideas of an out-group. These heuristics don't actually charitably represent the views of the out-group, nor do they adequately refute them, but instead I think they serve to signal publicly which group one is a part of. Take atheists' common use of "word salad" when discussing theology. A lot of times this is just a very sloppy dismissal of an apologetic. This doesn't address the argument at all, but to other atheists who share the same disdain for apologetics it provides a linguistic standard by which they can orient their discourse. Things they like are called "rational", and things they don't like are "irrational", "illogical", "word salad", etc. Illogical isn't ordinarily used to denote an actual fallacy being committed, but just one's un-articulated objection to the conclusion of an argument. Others who share that reluctance for a conclusion will usually agree that such an argument is illogical, and hence illogical is now used as one representation of the totem of the group, which denotes which conclusions the group likes, and which ones they don't.

A totem, in this sense, is the thing signified by the group's identity and is that which is evoked through its representations in language. Sports teams are very simple examples. The totem of the team is the team's avatar, usually an animal, and obviously one identifies as a fan by what they wear, and how they discuss the teams. "Team X sucks" is obviously not an argument but it's a rallying cry for each group, signifying their opposition to another totem, and hence identifies an out-group. I think most of our language, even when we pretend we're being super rational, is of this tribal variety.

Through the construction of multiple language games, a group arrives at a variegated series of representations of their totem which constitutes the identity of group, in an abstract sense. I think you can recognize the totems by which concepts a group defends most tenaciously and aggressively, the inspection of which produces the most animalistic responses. Political memes are a good example. Nobody really thinks a shitty meme is an adequate substitute for an argument, but it's a very effective way of aligning your in-group against the out-group. It's a signaling mechanism. If you find this meme agreeable, funny, whatever, then I can likely consider you a member of my in-group, whatever that may be. Just look at how zealously many secular humanists defend science, to the point of being dogmatic. The "I fucking love science" crowd is just an abyss of cargo-cult atheists worshiping their counterfeit trinity of Science, Reason, and Logic. They claim to be logical but can't distinguish a modus ponens from a modus tollens, so obviously "logical" to them isn't connoting a grasp of logic. It's a representation of the totem.

Cultural Marxism is another good one. For those on the right, it's a nebulous and pervasive force that driving the collapse of the western world, for those on the left it's some paranoid conspiracy with no philosophy behind it. Whether or not someone accepts such a phrase without interrogating it, in conversation, often indicates where they lie politically. It's another form of the group's totem. The totems themselves aren't to be questioned, otherwise the group identity disintegrates.

Wittgenstein had the seeds of this idea in On Certainty I believe, when he claimed that certain words provide the grounding of an entire discourse, and without such words the possibility of meaning disappears. "I know" was his example. If you begin to question how you know whether you know something, and so on, you no longer have a cartographic method to build your map of reality. Without a communally understood notion of knowledge, language is empty. I think totems serve the same purpose, but in a broader social context than just epistemology.

To return to the claim that people are fundamentally religious, I would contend that this religiosity is demonstrated through the use of totems, as this kind of belief underlies the most elementary forms of religious life (Durkheim's book of the same name is where I'm getting most of this from). If you were to examine the religious structure of aboriginals for example, you'd find evidence of these totems and their representations at work. Our social signaling mechanisms at work today are just highly evolved forms of these religious architectures. I don't think we can escape said architectures given that they regulate our emotions in the sense of providing us with in-groups and out-groups. These groups lend us the components of our individual identity that we piece together to construct the self, and are often our way of navigating the world around us. It's one of the reasons I think secular humanism is stupid, because the in-group is all of humanity. Humanity isn't an in-group though, it's an abstraction. There is no set of humans that constitutes humanity, so these people often identify by opposition to their out-group rather than membership of their in-group, the out-group basically being anyone with religious convictions or a spiritually determined purpose in life. They do this while claiming to be operating through rationality alone, despite them shitting all over the rational inheritance philosophy has given them (see the mind-numbing inability of the "I fucking love science" crowd to understand Hume's problem of induction for example).

Because of all of this, I've ultimately lost a lot of faith in our ability to persuade through arguments, and have given that up on G+ and elsewhere by and large. Talking someone out of a position rarely happens through arguments or reason or whatever pretentious word you want to use to describe persuasion, but more often through adopting some representations of another's totem to demonstrate yourself to be partially aligned with their in-group. The fact that almost no one has ever been persuaded out of a firm conviction through the presentation of syllogisms is evidence that we don't operate rationally. We're social creatures, and to quote Durkheim, "If religion has given birth to all that is essential in society, it is because the idea of society is the soul of religion."
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I've talked previously how in Croatia we have catechism classes in schools and you have to write a formal request to have your child not take the class.

My daughter is the only one in her class not taking catechism.

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She wrote this short story:

An orchid seller gave two orchids to his friend as a gift. One was ping and the other one blue. The orchids were scared because they were so far from home. When they arrived in the unfamiliar backyard, they wondered where they are.
The cat said: "Look! Who is this in my yard?"
The dog said: "They look ugly, they don't belong here."
The orchids said in one voice: "But... we are flowers, and that is why we look different!"
"You think?" Say the cat and the dog.
"Yes we do" Say the Orchids.

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The other day she came home and proclaimed her belief in God and said she wants to go to catechism classes.

She is 7.
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All my life I've been developing a personal philosophy, as a way of thinking and approaching everything in life. Always improving it and polishing it, and failing to communicate it to others. In a sense expecting that it's idiosyncratic to me and scantily communicable.

But, alas there is nothing new under the sun.

Over the last few days I've dug into stoicism (as I've heard it thrown about as a relevant philosophical position) and found that I am indeed a natural stoic. So much so that I don't think that any label fits better to what I am (as opposed to what I happen to be).

If you are interested in understanding me and my personal philosophy Pigliucci's lectures on stoicism nail me down to a T in how I think and approach problems (so much so that it's disturbing to be that exposed).

There's even a Tedx talk for those that don't want to spend too much time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yhn1Fe8cT0Q
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