A Pragmatist's Guide to God
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13-04-2017, 10:53 PM
RE: A Pragmatist's Guide to God
(13-04-2017 10:52 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(13-04-2017 10:50 PM)RearViewMirror Wrote:  I've done a myriad of drugs in my time. Never saw god there. Did wake up once and saw a shit ton of crickets crawling all over me. Fucking acid...

Close enough.

I believe in crickets though

I get to decide what my life looks like, not the other way around.
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13-04-2017, 10:55 PM (This post was last modified: 13-04-2017 10:59 PM by Robvalue.)
RE: A Pragmatist's Guide to God
It's such a loaded and vague word that it's important to be clear what is even being discussed.

I can't decide to believe things, but I can act as if they are true if it is pragmatic to do so. I don't see any benefit at all in acting like this world is created, since it makes no difference to me at all.

I can marvel at how incredible everything is without having to pretend a bunch of magical shit is going on. In fact, if I pretend something designed all this for us, it loses all its majesty and seems like an utter failure.

If it was set in motion from a point in the distant past with a load of rules and no particular aim (maybe an experiment), then this also makes no difference to anything. Just gotta get on with it.

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
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14-04-2017, 12:40 AM
RE: A Pragmatist's Guide to God
So you're saying I'm practical? Gasp

Crazy talk. Also what I got out of this is that nihilism sucks, so there's that. The problem with this audience is that as soon as god enters the conversation attention leaves. Probably should also have some background music.




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14-04-2017, 01:32 AM
RE: A Pragmatist's Guide to God
(13-04-2017 08:54 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  ...
This is a very good concise description of James philosophy if you're interested in it. But consider my bias that I agree with him.

So do I.

(13-04-2017 08:06 PM)Stephen Pedersen Wrote:  So the burning question is, is the pragmatic belief in god worthy of a principle in one's life or does it fall short.

As it stands, it's just a variation on Pascal's Wager.

The worthy principle of pragmatism is worthy, but James hit upon something useful with a false premise.

As George Box wrote:
Quote:For such a model there is no need to ask the question "Is the model true?". If "truth" is to be the "whole truth" the answer must be "No". The only question of interest is "Is the model illuminating and useful?".

What I like from the Pragmatists is the clarity regarding 'truth' although whether that comes from James himself or from later analysis, I'm unaware...
True: A label given to propositions in accordance with an epistemology.

That's the clarity I like.
From this we can say that Pragmatism deals with True/Not True... nice and binary which can appeal to programmers.
And we can clarify further by asking the Scientific Method to deal with reality.

Note that TRUE does not equate to REALITY.
Reality: The sum of all 'real' things; the entirety of existence
Internal reality: Subjective perceptions (memory, vision, emotional states etc.)
External reality: Everything beyond one's immediate sensory perceptions.
True: A label given to propositions in accordance with an epistemology.

Truth and reality are not the same. If truth was simply reality, then truth cannot be known as there is no way of knowing what is objectively true.

But all this is 'is'. What about the 'ought'? The path to take?

(13-04-2017 08:37 PM)Thoreauvian Wrote:  ...
1) The utility of the concept has nothing at all to say about whether God actually exists or not.

2) It's like you're saying that trilobites had to exist for a couple hundred million years or else there could be no modern world. It doesn't necessarily follow.
...

Nailed it. The cart of god before the horse of pragmatism..

(13-04-2017 09:23 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  ...
That's gotta be some sorta gradation, some sorta distinction.

Here's your gradation (and distinction):

[Image: dikw.jpg]

As I've been merrily pointing out on every Jordan Peterson lecture that appears in my inbox, he, as a pragmatist, like James, confuses Truth ™ with Wisdom.

The wise path to take is the 'ought' but no gods or goddesses are necessary ... even though they may be useful as a heuristic when insufficient data/information/knowledge is available.

“We dismiss your religion because it is not true; we do not dismiss it because it is not wise”.

Now, will someone turn that into a meme, or do I have to do it myself?

Dodgy

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14-04-2017, 02:13 AM
RE: A Pragmatist's Guide to God
"All disputes are idle"?! This asshole clearly has never logged in.

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14-04-2017, 06:53 AM
RE: A Pragmatist's Guide to God
(13-04-2017 07:04 PM)Stephen Pedersen Wrote:  Back to the path in the woods now. If you were given a chance to live in a vibrant world of meaning, hope, and Beauty, would you choose that belief, the belief out of the woods, or would you rather live in a world based on the probablism of physics, which may seem mechanistic in its stiff materialistic stance?

In other words, would I choose to live in a fantasy of how I might like the world to be or would I prefer to deal with reality on its own terms. For me the choice is clear.

By the way, when I find a path in the woods I have physical evidence that something has passed that way and reason to believe that following the path would be a quicker way to reach a place where I can find what I need than stumbling around a forest. It is funny that that you use an example that completely counters your argument as support for that argument.

Atheism: it's not just for communists any more!
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14-04-2017, 06:57 AM
RE: A Pragmatist's Guide to God
(13-04-2017 07:04 PM)Stephen Pedersen Wrote:  There are many reasons to believe in God, some of which aren't very good. However, there are patterns and designs that suggest there might be a god, but this isn't the place for natural theology. What I would like to discuss is William James' pragmatism which attempts to make judgements and relieve the mind from problems that are otherwise indeterminable. We have to find a way to get on with the day without paralyzing hamletian indecision, don't we? William James' pragmatism is just that, so let's dive in and understand what William James has to say about pragmatism in his own words:

The pragmatic method is primarily a method of settling metaphysical disputes that otherwise might be interminable. Is the world one or many?—free or fated?—material or spiritual?—here are notions either of which may or may not hold good of the world; and disputes over such notions are unending. The pragmatic method in such cases is to try to interpret each notion by tracing its respective practical consequences. What difference would it practically make to any one I these notion rather than that notion were true? I no practical difference whatever can be traced, then the alternatives mean practically the same thing and all disputes are idle. Where a dispute is serious, we ought to be able to show some practical difference that must follow from one side of the others being right. …Theories thus become instruments, not answers to enigmas in which we can rest.

James gives us a concrete illustration on how pragmatism works. Here it is:

If I am lost in the woods and starved, and find what looks like a cow-path, it is of the utmost importance that I should think of a human habitation at the end of it, for if I do so and follow it, I save myself. The true thought is useful here because the house which is its object is useful. The practical value of the true ideas is thus primarily derived from the practical importance of their objects to us.

So truth on pragmatic grounds is not an abstract principle or idea, but a consequence that is in the concrete world here being the house that would save him from starvation. It’s anchored to reality. “Truth happens to an idea. It becomes true, is made true by events”

Let’s march backwards for a moment and look at the metaphysical dispute of whether there is a god or not. God’s existence is an interminable metaphysical problem, which the tender-minded and the tough-minded wrestle over. We can’t see a god empirically, but it seems we may be able to prove its existence rationally. James wrestled with this question himself. Remember, his father was a theologian which had deep resonance in James’s life. Before we decide if god exists though, let’s examine the philosophy of the absolute a little closer. The ‘absolute’, which is unimaginable to the human mind, creates a block-like universe of fixed eternal laws leaving free will and individuality impossible to fathom as James understands it. Of the philosophy of the absolute James says:

The “through and through” philosophy, as it actually exist… seems too buttoned-up and white chokered and clean shaven a thing to speak for the vast slow-breathing Kosmos with its dread abysses and its unknown tides.

Everything is in its right place within this absolutist cosmos. The drama has already been written, and the characters are left to play their predestined parts. On pragmatic grounds, James rejects the ‘absolute’ in favor of a pluralistic universe, with a temporal, finite god. James chooses to believe in god on pragmatic grounds because the spiritual life can bring with it rich meaning and hope, hope in one’s future and in humanity. So, if James were in the woods he would choose the path that leads to God. However, his god is not the traditional omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent entity given in Hegelian or scholastic philosophy. James has this to say about his concept of god:

He [God] need not be an all-including “subjective unity of the universe” ... all I mean is that there must be some subjective unity in the universe which has purpose commensurable with my own, and which is at the same time large enough to be, among all the powers that may be there, the strongest. … In saying “God Exists” All I imply is that my purposes are cared for by a mind so powerful as on the whole to control the drift of the universe.

He continues:

[T]he truth is too great for any one actual mind, even though that mind be dubbed “the absolute,” to know the whole of it. There is no point of view absolutely public and universal. … the practical consequences of such a philosophy is the well-known democratic respect for the sacredness of individuality.

James pragmatism creates the foundation for his vision of a pluralistic universe. Pluralism leaves the noble nature of the democratic respect for the sacredness of individuality, something which is engrained into his American mind.

We perceive the universe as partly unhinged, James believes. We see ugliness and evil in the world, and a cosmos with exploding stars and dead planets. With pluralism, a drama is going on, but one which we can edit some of our own lines and change the course of our character so to strive for a better destiny. In a pluralistic universe there are conflicting purposes such as God’s will, religion, evolution, the laws of physics, human interests and our aims etc.

The world as the physicist sees it, in mathematical equations and abstract concepts, is only a mental substitute for how we actually perceive the world. The world as we perceive it is much messier. The ‘absolute’ of the Hegelians would suggest that there is a complex equation that would have universal explanatory power for the cosmos. It of my personal view that what we try to do as physicists is to discover patterns and designs which hold some explanatory power. However, what we actually do is roughly graph laws, laws are only true to a certain capacity. The proof of the messiness of how we percieve the cosmos is given in the fact that physic’s very foundation is built upon probablism. So, I believe there is room for James view of a pluralistic universe which might be partly unhinged with conflicting, cross purposes of evolution, physical laws, and for James belief in God’s will.

I see the struggle in James’s heart. Nietzsche and James were roughly born during the same period and both were trying to wrestle with scientific discoveries and the impact they had on faith. Nietzsche goes one route and James takes the other. James accepts scientific discoveries and concrete facts, but he weaves his way through the corridors of the tender-minded rationalists and the tough-minded empiricists to give reason to believe in god. It’s quite extraordinary what he is accomplishing. His accomplishment is a synthesis between the two dominant perspectives that oppose each other vehemently. He isn’t just another empiricist or rationalist, he is a paradigm shift. As for his concept of god, he’s accounted for the dappled world, and has brought God closer to reality, and I think that is noble and I think there is wisdom in this.

Back to the path in the woods now. If you were given a chance to live in a vibrant world of meaning, hope, and Beauty, would you choose that belief, the belief out of the woods, or would you rather live in a world based on the probablism of physics, which may seem mechanistic in its stiff materialistic stance?

All arguments are welcome. Smile

Are you implying truth is based or related to human survival or well-being? Because that would be common pragmatist nonsense.

"I think part of the appeal of mathematical logic is that the formulas look mysterious - you write backward Es!" - Hilary Putnam
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14-04-2017, 06:57 AM
RE: A Pragmatist's Guide to God
[T]he truth is too great for any one actual mind, even though that mind be dubbed “the absolute,” to know the whole of it. There is no point of view absolutely public and universal. … the practical consequences of such a philosophy is the well-known democratic respect for the sacredness of individuality.

Lazy man's theology. And a dose of the God is inscrutable, incomprehensible nonsense. No, truth is, God is a concept that soon is bogged down in a thousand puzzles, contradictions, logical difficulties and paradoxes, that concept obviously isn't right.

When I shake my ignore file, I can hear them buzzing!

Cheerful Charlie
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14-04-2017, 07:06 AM
RE: A Pragmatist's Guide to God
(14-04-2017 01:32 AM)DLJ Wrote:  As George Box wrote:
[quote]For such a model there is no need to ask the question "Is the model true?". If "truth" is to be the "whole truth" the answer must be "No". The only question of interest is "Is the model illuminating and useful?".

Thumbsup

"Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful."

--- Box, George E. P.; Norman R. Draper (1987). Empirical Model-Building and Response Surfaces, p. 424, Wiley. ISBN 0471810339.

Maps I should think are a good example, very useful but cannot be 100% correct.

*You are on your own as far as creating a meme. Cool

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
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14-04-2017, 07:40 AM
RE: A Pragmatist's Guide to God
May I suggest that OP pragmatically get bent?

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If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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