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About dedmetafor

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  1. dedmetafor added a post in a topic Evil Chinese Cat and Dog Eaters   

    I didn't like the way it was worded. Writing mid-insomnia and post-study probably isn't wise.

    I've decided to cut it all down, as well, to make it a little easier to respond to.

    If anti-slave arguments are going to influence in a debate about animal-captivity, then the difference between slaves and animals has to be superficial. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with the pro-slave arguments you mentioned; nothing in their form that is dangerous. It's in the substance and values. Slaves may have been better of in captivity than back in the society that was willing to sell them in the first place, but it doesn't make the slavery it advocated right. Lack of intelligence may imply lack of rights, but that doesn't make the slavery it advocated right. It may have been dangerous to release those slaves, but it doesn't make slavery right.... and so on.
    Establishing the moral principle comes first. It's not enough to say, "if we don't submit to the notion that all living beings are of equal worth we get to similar sounding arguments like those used in favour of slavery" because it doesn’t matter if they sound similar, unless we are already convinced that the difference between slaves and animals is in some fundamental way, superficial.

    I mean, if we take the statement ‘All humans are of equal worth’ that the anti-slavery arguments seem to rely on – something we’ve not necessarily shown, btw, just something we both believe – it’s easy to say ‘Why don’t we make it “all living things”?’ Then when the arguments against that sound the same as arguments in favour of racism, we become shocked, and say – “no way, this is just like racism”.

    But what happens again if we simplify the complex noun phrase, and take away ‘living’. If we don’t accept this notion, the arguments likewise sound like the slavery arguments, but we are placing equal value on toothbrushes and humans. Indeed, why not completely simplify the noun phrase? We fix the tenses and get to ‘All is of equal worth’. Any argument against that sounds suspiciously like the arguments in favour of racism too, but the extreme relativism it implies is quite dubious.

    The point is that the only way we can come to accept there being any power in your showing the similarities between the arguments in favour of slavery and the arguments in favour of captivity is if we already presuppose the hardest part of what you believe – that all living things are of equal worth. I still don’t think it’s enough to say “Well, if you don’t believe that, you rely on arguments that sound like pro-slavery arguments” because there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with pro-slavery arguments. If If I value humans more highly than animals, it’s just a statement of value. If you value humans more than toothbrushes, it’s just a statement of value – it doesn’t matter that arguments could be used in favour of toothbrush enslavement that sound like arguments in favour of slavery.

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  2. dedmetafor added a post in a topic Evil Chinese Cat and Dog Eaters   

    ... going to think again..
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  3. dedmetafor added a post in a topic Evil Chinese Cat and Dog Eaters   

    Stummel, I think in highlighting the similarities between the moral arguments for slavery and animal captivity you rely on humans and animals being in some way fundamentally the same. Then, however, when asked why you dont hold animals responsible for their actions in the wild, you rely on humans and animals being fundamentally different. This difference - that humans are fully conscious moral agents whereas animals are not or less so - is the very thing that makes the arguments against slavery so powerful. It seems to me, you can either expect more of humans or draw analogies between slaves and animals, but not both. That is not to say, though, that there arent arguments against animal captivity and cruelty, there certainly are - but you cant get to assign animals human worth while at the same time expecting more of humans. Now, you could escape this by thinking all living things are of equal worth, be they humans or animals. In that case, arguments about slavery are redundant because you first have to convince people all living things are of equal worth, or deserve human rights, before the analogy can make sense.
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  4. dedmetafor added a post in a topic Is philosophy mere criticism?   

    I think anything that precedes from the predominance of reason falls into this. The pathology of reason is that all it wants is contrast and comparison. The greatest philosophers, to which the critics respond, at some point made reason subordinate to vision. In other words, the closer philosophers come to poets, the better they are.
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  5. dedmetafor added a post in a topic Happy Birthday, TheBeast!   

    "Shorter of breath / one day closer to death" - happy b/day that man.
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  6. dedmetafor added a post in a topic Debates idea   

    I've only got a few seconds, as I'm so busy. But a decent first debate might be 'Does the internet need TGL?', or 'does learning in the modern world need the TGL paradigm?' or something of that sort. This would be good self promotion, and in taking both sides it would set a good precedent of self-criticism.
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  7. dedmetafor added a post in a topic Linksys Router Exploit   

    Wow, there are still IRC denial of service attacks. I mind the eth0++ one for modems.
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  8. dedmetafor added a post in a topic Tennessee Versus Germany: God Bless My Home State   

    With the slightest application of the principle of charity you could have gotten to the stronger case, which I think could be read as implied, that the state is, in this case, the exclusive arbiter of what constitutes a socially acceptable, legislatively legitimate, education. While kids are not being sent to North Korean indoctrination camps, they are nonetheless indoctrinated since education is ideological. The relegation of other ideological starting points for education - be they muslim, christian, apathetic or Illichian - to the hours outside school functionally deconstructs them. It takes, by power, an unarguable premise, the default position, the foundation of what constitutes education. It is now impossible to make God or learning unconcerned with examinations and grades the foundation of education; these are attitudes that have to be cultivated in the gaps, and against the grain. The politics of power make these possible ideologies, but not ideological starting points - and, yet, for them to have the kind of effect they seem to demand, they must be a starting point. You can tell your kid not to worry about their grades, and to engage with them on what they are learning, but every inch of every day in school is spent preparing for exams instead of actually learning. The reality of the situation makes a truly Illichian, say, starting point an impossible thing for a parent to achieve.

    As the rest of Deads post went on to argue, both sides of the debate agree that there are limits on what the state gets to decide is legitimate; what positions it can make default. In democratic systems, when the state says "Thou shalt not do this legitimately anymore" you get to ask why, and decide if the reasons are good. In my view, isolating this statement to yawningly point out what you have already pointed out ignores the rest of the post which tried to reconcile your positions on the issue of ownership, and refocus the debate on issues that can take it forward. I think this is a good move for the discussion. A citizens liberty that once was is now not. A parent who decides to homeschool their child is a criminal in Germany, sharing a class of persons with drug dealers, theives, and fraudsters. What is the justification for this? And is it good? I can understand your frustration with what you feel are poor objections to this occurring, but this perhaps avoids the political aspect - the need for evidence and justification lies with the outlawers. I think there needs to be evidence that homeschooling is harmful or irresponsible or impractical or immoral or some such thing before you can make somone a criminal for doing it. I think this is what Dead was asking for, and certainly what I would like to hear your thoughts on.

    My own view, for what its worth, is that I like the possibilities offered by extremes. Homeschooling offers depths and heights not really available in the current system and so its good to have it as an option. However, given that its these extremes that give it potential power, its not such a bad thing that its illegal; as those who are willing to deny the law over it must be so thoroughly ideologically commited as it make these extremes likely. The apathetic will be put off, and a mechanism for interfering in cultish religious teaching is at least available.
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  9. dedmetafor added a post in a topic Tennessee Versus Germany: God Bless My Home State   

    "What kind of human beings could homeschooling animate, and do I, and the sorts of things I like, want those sorts of humans?" seems to me the fundamental question being debated. It could animate humans with whacky beliefs about the age of the earth, and supply poor kids with a wanton excuse for an education - or could it animate humans with subtle, education-as-opposed-to-schooled approach to learning and give them originality and genuine space to critique existing power structures. I think some think of the former as a form of child abuse, more likely and not worth the risk; others think the latter is a right, not necessarily more likely, and when considering the relative poverty of current schooling think the latent potential is hence worth the risk. I dont think there is a lot of scope for evidence in there, other than perhaps in the word "likely" and, even then, the points of measurement would likewise be a reflection of taste. Perhaps secular education is religious conditioning as much as teaching your kids dinosaurs walked with man.
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  10. dedmetafor added a post in a topic Tory Education Promises   

  11. dedmetafor added a post in a topic Tory Education Promises   

    Hey TheBeast. Did the microwavable souffle recipe ever come to pass?

    I don't feel I need to bear in mind the warnings of the 'Discussing politics' thread because I really don't know what I think about it all yet. I'm becoming a little more interested than I was with all my Classical study, but I'm still reticent and skeptical. So I'll just draw loosely on experience and say what occurs. Bear in mind though that I'm Scottish, and not rich, so any overly overt and public support for anything Tory is something approaching overt and public support for paedophelia. I'm too young to really know why, but you feel it seeping out of the culture you inherit.

    I didn't go to a good school, and a high proportion of the teachers were certainly incompetent. Those who were once competent were probably just disillusioned by what they had to put up with by the time they got to teaching. I think I had, at a stretch, two good competent teachers in my whole time there. I think that there are a high proportion of teachers who become functionally incompetent (either owing to lack of intelligence, or as a consequence of what they are dealing with) at schools that take people from bad areas. Coming to think of it, even doing Highers and in Credit classes - where there was no burden of bad behaviour - there weren't many good teachers. I think a certain amount of that burden has to go on myself as a do-as-little-as-you-need-to-get-top-marks student. I would be tempted to lay quite a bit of it at the young pupil's door - if you want more out of your teachers put more in - but I do remember, even when asking questions and taking an interest, that none of the teachers were animated for their subject and just wanted you to go away. As a point of contrast, I used to go to the local college for some revision classes for the Standard Grade and Higher exams; I remember finding the difference incredible. Concepts, and their importance, were explained thoroughly, and I learned more comprehensively in those short few weeks than I had in a year at school.

    Now, to get back to the question, I don't think it's necessarily bad that headteachers get more freedom to monitor and remove weak teachers. It should be possible to do this, I think. However, one fundamental question is whether headteachers are necessarily more competent, and morally responsible, to use this freedom. I don't think all will be, but my bias sways towards giving the smarter people more freedom, conferring on them more responsibility, and hoping the resultant good of that power outweighs the inevitable incidents of misuse and abuse. I think the bigger question, though, is whether there would even be any point - there aren't millions of good teachers out there out of work, I don't think. I imagine in 99% of cases the headteacher will have the responsibility to fire an incompetent teacher and the freedom to replace them with a slightly less incompetent one. All the best teachers will go to the best schools, with a few exceptions, and the rest will be much of a muchness. I could be completely wrong in that, but that's my intuition.

    My boss gets to watch my performance without any forewarning. Don't think this unreasonable at all.

    I think it's helpful that teachers that aren't cutting it get fair warning of the areas they need to improve; though I think it's foolish to assume that three hours of scheduled observation is going to be enough to discern whether they've actually improved.

    Good move, I think. Some of the abuse, including physical, that I saw teachers endure was pretty crappy in retrospect. I do know of a few teachers who hit and, for that matter, still do hit, pupils when the situation is extreme enough. I think in many ways the laws that govern this are like peace treaties in war situations. They stumble across something that happened - IE teachers essentially being perma-molestors of children in the old school system - and realise it's Really Pretty Bad and then this intuition becomes manic so that the remotest possibility of it occuring again is so harshly legislated against that a million other things - like trusting the majority humans, or in this case teachers, to act responsibly when faced with an extreme situation - are lost in the process.

    Don't really see what harm this does, to be honest. I think in 90% of cases it will be deserved, but human fallibility makes some sort of independent panel a good level of redundancy, providing it functions well.

    I think there being consequences for false allegations is a good life lesson. I think this one is the thorniest. I think any claims of sexual abuse shouldn't have to be clear-cut immediately before teachers are protected; however, owing to this lack of protection, erring on the side of caution, the consequences for false allegations in this context should probably be huge.

    I'm not sure about this one. It quite conditions children to think the police should be able to do similar things, I think.

    Nah, it should be presupposed that dealing with disruption is just part of the skillset required to be a teacher. Not something that's incentivised. I think the desire for ex-military to train as teacher casts something of a sinister shadow over the rest of the legislation, actually - as though it were an attempt at a return to the days of the Great Tradition and that.

    Heh, it's funny that I never had that last thought until the end there. Pupils are arrogant and undisciplined, but they're also young and free. I think there's some good in there, and some that gives me the same sort of reservations you have.

    I think, in reality, the whole idea is a sham. Education can't save society. 90% of the people I went to school with were never, ever, ever, ever going onto college never mind university. Education has done absolutely nothing for them but keep them off the streets until they were 16; it's certainly not their salvation. As a set of practical changes that might make things a little bit better for some people, this all may work a bit - with some reservations - but the idea that we've somehow made progress in implementing or ignoring it seems to me nonsense.
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  12. dedmetafor added a post in a topic Recommend me a movie   

    Dead Man's Shoes - my favourite film ever.
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  13. dedmetafor added a post in a topic Ten Pieces of Literature that must be read.....   

    Not much massively original.

    1. Blake's illuminated works
    2. A'Rebours
    3. The Brothers Karamazov
    4. Crime and Punishment
    5. The life and opinitions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
    6. Portrait of the artist as a young man
    7. Notes from Underground
    8. The Dawn
    9. Confessions of an English Opium Eater
    10. Junky
    11. Read anything and everything by Blake (see 1.)
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  14. dedmetafor added a post in a topic God: refuted?   

    "I have discovered the God equation. God is not a kick. It is a way of life"

    If you want to understand man's relationship to God, I think there is no better metaphor than that of addiction. Though I think most of life is best understood as the machinations of addiction. Before I start thinking, and reasoning, and looking, and talking, there is an unsated lust for some sort of reference to God. It is twisted, dishonest, irrational, absurd, impossible, individual and indespensible - just as it is for those who don't believe. You will lie to others, and you lie to yourself. And once you believe in God, you are no further forward. You have no better idea how to live. Eternity is not necessarily appealing. God is not necessarily good, and belief in God is not necessarily good for you. But too much of yourself is bound up with it; it is as fundamental as the desire for air, and more life. As rationally crappy as life is, there aren't many people who have killed themselves as a point of reason. The addiction to air comes first, and reason follows along after it.

    Atheism is precisely the same. God is never a conclusion - whether you believe or disbelieve. The desire for something rational, tangible, is likewise best characterised as addiction - reason is pathological - evidence, as a notion, is a symptom of disbelief, not a cause. The disbelief started prior to analysis - it looked at the world and thought 'things couldn't be otherwise, there is no God, look at it'. The view of life that says 'Life is short, man is capable of much, after death is nothing, there are no absolutes' is intuition; the workings of something like the aesthetic sense. Reason can't get you to that view, but it can bolster it, verify it - you can invoke it, so you can pass the responsibility for your intuition onto something outside yourself. To give it some sensible, justified, form. There is nothing less attractive than an atheist saying 'I would believe if only there were evidence'. The lust for rational evidence is like Christians invoke the authority of scripture to get responsibility for their intuitions outside themselves, and to give them a coherent, authoritative form.

    As for experience of God, it's certainly never something that couldn't be explained another way, if you had the will for it. For me, belief in God is roughly equivilant to love of life - that it has meaning. It's probably also belief in the magical, anti-natural, power of goodness. Most people become infinitely entrenched in their hatred of life; it's usually introverted, and subtle. People become, by degrees, autonomous, selfish, uncharitable. As, as I've had too much experience of lately, life shows its harsher self - people close to you die untimely, random, pointless, meaningless deaths - these things become easier, more justified. By the time you meet a fully developed human they tend to have outgrown playfulness, worn out by Time. Experience of God is in the tiny things - the small acts of goodness have a seemingly impossible softening power. Man is the creator of meaning. Despite its relative tinyness, to the harshness of life, goodness and meaning spread and multiply far beyond where they seemingly ought to go. In looking at its workings, its small sublimity - small, but infinitely unlikely changes in people, say - you get an impression of the sublime, if you have the will for it, not unlike the appreciation of valleys and chopin. It is is a completely natural response, but belief in God is not super-natural.

    I don't think there's an extra set of feelings that could be called the God-feelings. Once addicted to God, all is God. Just like when addicted to nature, all is nature. It is not that God is superimposed on life; you just live out your life normally - it's just that life is that thing created by God. I'd love to stop believing in God. It's frankly tedious. But God exists, it couldn't be otherwise. Good has a redemptive power, life has meaning, we are creators, we are responsible for each other - these things are belief in God, I think. I couldn't get to atheism other than by conversion - something that involves far more than rational analysis. When someone has been a liberal for years, and they become a conservative (or vice versa), it is not rational analysis that has got them there. Their fundamental intuitions about The Way Things Are has changed - they have created them anew - and their reasons, and evidence, and arguments, follow along obediently. Even if God wrote 'I exist' in stars, it wouldn't help. My favourite atheist, other than Nietzsche and Camp, is a guy in my work named Boab. Back in my Christian-apologetic days I tried to talk to him about evidence for the existence of God. He said 'Mate, I don't give a flying f*ck about evidence - there is just no God, it's all a load of sh*te'. That's the most honest and responsible atheism that I love the most. Evidence of his existence couldn't convince you He was worth trusting, as the rest of how life works wouldn't change - it certainly couldn't convince you that you should re-arrange your life to glorify his, or any of that. If you are a decent, conscious, thinking atheist, just like if you are a decent, conscious, thinking theist, belief in the existence of God is utterly superfluous - it just is what it is and couldn't be otherwise. The harder questions - the ones you bind yourself up with answering - are the ones that follow.

    God is irrefutable, because all the worthwhile references to God (or the worthwhile complete lack of references to God) happen way before and way after the games where the word 'refuted' has any weight take place.
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  15. dedmetafor added a post in a topic Wolfhart Pannenberg's Christology   

    This sounds quite similar to something I've been trying to get my dad to understand for a while. To me, Christianity is back to front in many respects. They think that Jesus done all the hanging-with-the-scum, and healing-the-sick, and washing-of-the-feet, because he was God. In actual fact, they should think he is God because he done the hanging-with-the-scum, and healing-the-sick, and the washing-of-the-feet. They start with divinity, and see all the stuff he done as symptoms of that divinity. I think the people who followed him would have seen all the stuff he done and thought 'that's divinity', or, rather 'it's in that sort of thing I'm placing my highest hope'.

    Then statements like 'Jesus is God' make a sort of natural sense. It's not dis-similar to the statement 'Money is God'. It makes the statement a lived-truth; a truth that can be measured by the body. The theological statement 'Jesus is God' is a theological truth, and seems far too much like a fact to ever have moved anyone.

    Anyway, just a comment.
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