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David Simon
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When we don't have any such desires that don't have an answer (e.g. hunger) then I think it does indicate that such an answer exists. I don't think it makes much sense otherwise. [...] Well I think it's probably very debatable whether naturalism best accounts for art / beauty and particularly, morality [...] Human beings like finding interesting and appealing ideas because we're naturally curious. Culture is a mechanism which propogates interesting ideas around. Why does art and philosophy need anything besides this as an explanation of origins? Morality has obvious benefits: if you can assume your neighbour will be... Continue reading
Posted Dec 28, 2009 at David Simon's blog
Alright, I've enabled HTML in comments now. Don't know why TypePad disables that by default. Chris French: Google says " Prejudice is an unreasonable dislike of a particular group of people or things, or a preference for one group of people or things over another." I don't agree with this definition, because it doesn't include things that are clearly prejudicial, like assuming an Asian guy is good at math before you know him. To my understanding, "prejudice" means literally "pre-judging", is a judgement about a person made in advance based not on actual knowledge of that person, but on bullshit stereotypes instead. That definition fits the way I generally hear people using the word, and it also matches the definition D quoted in the Daylight Atheism thread. However, I'm fine with backing off the use of the word "prejudice" from here on if the alternative is more arguing about dictionary definitions. The main point I'm trying to make is about not pissing off your potential audience for no reason. She-who-chatters: Your statement about a lone atheist at a party doesn't strike me as prejudicial, either. You didn't say that all atheists were like that, you didn't say that starting arguments is a bad thing, and you didn't use it to tell me what to do. Here's my example statement again: "The idea that we should always be starting heated arguments with others, like a lone atheist at a party, is a modern aberration." It doesn't explicitly say all atheists are like that, but the implication is "A typical lone atheist at a party will start heated arguments." The key word here is "typical"; a stereotype is about what would be expected in a typical member of a group, it doesn't have to categorically be about every single member of the group to qualify. The image the statement is trying to invoke is: "Imagine a typical party, where there's one typical atheist and a bunch of other typical theists. What happens? The atheist starts a heated argument about religion." It doesn't have to be a negative stereotype to be insulting (again, consider the "Asians are good at math" stereotype), so whether or not it's a "bad thing" is not relevant. So: who cares if something could be interpreted as mildly insulting? Let's say I'm reading somebody's blog. I don't have any prior information on what the author knows or thinks about atheists and the blog doesn't have anything to do with atheism (so, there's no context for me to think they're "lovingly joking" or "being satirical" about atheism or whatever). I run across the example statement above in one of their posts. I then think the following things, in order: 1. This author thinks typical atheists tend to start pointless heated arguments. 2. This author has no basis for thinking this about me (an atheist), and the fact that they think this about me is somewhat insulting. This author's kind of a jackass! 3. However, let me consider their main point about not always starting heated arguments. How is it helpful to send me through #1 and #2 before I get to #3? If the author wants me to think #3, why are they writing in a way that evokes #1 and #2 first? Why are they even sending #1 across at all when it's (a) bullshit and (b) has not one thing to do with their point? Your statement that some people might get offended by it adds precisely zero to the discussion, because some people might get offended by anything and everything. You have to show more than that to make your case that Ebonmuse was doing anything that was in any way out of line at all. Yeah, there are people out there who get offended at anything. I don't care about them being offended, because you're right: nothing can be done to make content clean enough for them. However, my argument is about justifiable offense, so let's talk about how to determine if a statement is justifiably offensive. [...] it's very easy to simply steel yourself against an insult and look through to the content, then choose how to respond from there. I'd be insulted by the example statement because (a) it's directed at a group I belong to and (b) part of the content is obviously wrong and no attempt is made to justify it. If the content were justifiably true, it wouldn't be an insult in the first place. Insult = personal + bullshit. If I'm reading a blog post and I feel insulted by their propogation of stupid bullshit stereotype ideas (not just ideas that are wrong, but ideas that are wrong, personal, and have no attempt made to justify them), my estimation that that blogger has anything to say at all that I should read drops. After enough instances of this, I unsubscribe. If a blogger wants me to read their stuff, it's not unreasonable for me to expect not to have to wade through stupid bullshit stereotypes. I, personally, am very deeply offended by supercilious shit-heads who think that there's a way to talk that won't step on anybody's toes, and I'm also offended by attempts to do so. If you call somebody a supercilious shit-head (nice alliteration, by the way), do you think they still have an obligation to their own intellectual honesty to pick through your insults for valid content? To cut off a potential argument that starts out with a link to a study finding that older women are more likely to go to tea parties and avoid arguing with anybody (or for that matter, a study finding that atheists are more likely to start heated arguments at parties), I'd like to point out that in order for that to make the respective meme stop being a bullshit stereotype and start being actual content, it would have to show a correlation so strong that an argumentative grandmother or a quiet atheist is not just not the mode, but so unusual as to be downright noteworthy and non-typical. Fuck but this comment is way too long. Whatever, it's my blog. :-)
Toggle Commented Dec 6, 2009 on Prejudice? at David Simon's blog
This thread is to continue the conversation I was having with D on Daylight Atheism. Go ahead and comment here, D. Continue reading
Posted Dec 4, 2009 at David Simon's blog
This thread is to continue the conversation I was having with D on Daylight Atheism. Go ahead and comment here, D. Continue reading
Posted Dec 4, 2009 at David Simon's blog
Here's a somewhat relevant and very cool link I've found about Islamic reform and reviving the tradition of Islamic intellectualism: I'm slightly irked that they invite non-Muslims to participate but implicitly define this to mean "people of non-Muslim religions" and exclude atheists and agnostics. However, I still think the project overall is an awesome idea.
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Nov 21, 2009