[ExI] The mosque at Ground Zero.

darren shawn greer dgreer_68 at hotmail.com
Tue Aug 17 13:10:53 UTC 2010

> Not really. It's a judgement, but one of a different type. If you ask
> me what color chairs are, and I say that chairs don't have an intrinsic
> color, I'm not "actually" saying that they have a color and that color
> is colorlessness.

I agree with you. Just trying to point out that it does get tricky. I've been reading a lot of posthumaist critical theory--Harroway, Bridotti, Nickols -- and questions of whether things are subjective or objective is an argument that they don't seem to wish to have. I have been less influenced by them than believing it myself for a number of years and having their assertions fit with mine. I even read the Unibomber Manifesto, which is, in my opinion, a posthumnist document, despite its paranoid denigration of technological-industrial society.

After 9/11, the editor of Vanity Fair magazine pronounced it the "end of the age of irony." I remember thinking what a silly thing that was to say. What he was referring to too, I think, was F. Scott's Fitzgerald's assertion that modernism was the " age of the holy ghost of irony." But as Donna Harroway says (about pop science writers and not Vanity Fair editors, I'll grant you), He got it wrong. But he was on the right subject.

9/11 may have been the final nail in the coffin not of modernism but of post-modernism, which deconstructed grand narrative and the idea of universal belief, as a reaction to such atrocities as the holocaust and Stalinism, which relied on sweeping world narrative to suck people in (and as Fred Moulton pointed out last week, the Muslim Brotherhood is still doing vis-a-vis Islam and the West.) It is my opinion that 9/11 illustrated the dangers of the apathy that results from relativism and rampant individualism. 9/11, in addition to being a failure of security, was also a failure of community. My father once played me the song The Night Chicago Died. I was a kid and he explained to me the events that inspired the song. I ask him--I was only eleven or twelve at the time-- how a few men with guns could over-power a large crowd. "Couldn't they just jump them?" I asked.

"They were too worried about getting killed themselves," he told me.

This stuck with me. I'm not sure where I'm going with this. Perhaps just that if the traditional ontology or chain of being (the idea of God, arch-angels, angels, spirits, kings, nobels, gentry,) has been abolished, the one next in line is the actual idea of human. Instead of social order we sink back into a kind of natural disorder while maintaining intellectual rigor and arming ourselves with the knowledge of the power and influence of evolutionary psychology on human behavior and accepting technology as an evolutionary and inevitable outgrowth of the development of the species. This also makes room for the much-contested idea of a singularity, though I recently read a few writers who believe we will never get there, as it is a "horizon" event. We will either pass through a number of critical times that appear to be singularities, or that we will never notice the true singularity as it will require an objective view of human development as a whole, which is not possible when you're caught in the  swift current of that development.

Of course, post humanist critical thinkers also reject scientism and the scientific method as inadequate tools of the enlightenment. About that I am not so keen. The argument seems to be that since neither disorder nor order are fundamental properties of the universe, only perspectives, then logic is only a property of human subjectivity and it too is extremely limited. Any model that attempts to use logic to know the universe will be flawed, because it is subjective. They suggest no alternative, other than to accept this dubious assertion.

It seems that for many of them situational objectivity is enough, and in fact no more is possible or ever will be possible, given the limitations of the observer.

I'm not saying I believe this.

But it is fun to think about.

> It's a pretty interesting question. A related one is, "why do we fight
> so hard to prove other people on the internet wrong"?

I had exactly the same thought while writing my last response to you. Perhaps because the ideological wars are now being fought on the Internet as well as in the "real" world. They are much more fun here, because we have access to more information and we can talk back. It's not very effective, or much fun, to argue with your TV. You can get high blood pressure.


'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.

-Alfred Lord Tennyson

> Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2010 23:47:03 -0500
> From: jebdm at jebdm.net
> To: extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
> Subject: Re: [ExI] The mosque at Ground Zero.
> On Mon, Aug 16, 2010 at 3:33 PM, darren shawn greer
>> wrote:
>>> in conclusion, there is no objective morality
>> . . . is a morally objective statement.
>> Nope, but it is an objective one. Just not *morally* objective
>> statement. It'd be morally objective if I said "belief in objective
>> morality is evil", which I didn't.
> Yup. I thought twice about putting "morally" in the above objection,
> and then decided it was, as well as being objective, also morally
> objective. Reasoning: if guy A says bananas are good. And guy B says
> bananas are bad, and guy C comes along and says that bananas are
> neither good nor bad, they only seem that way to guy A and B because of
> their perspectives.
> But guy D. He says, then bananas are neither good nor bad? They are
> objectively tasteless? tastlessness is in fact their objective nature?
> Isn't tastlessness also a taste? A kind of judgement and perspective as
> well, made from inside a system with an opposite view waiting to be
> aired from inside another system?
> Not really. It's a judgement, but one of a different type. If you ask
> me what color chairs are, and I say that chairs don't have an intrinsic
> color, I'm not "actually" saying that they have a color and that color
> is colorlessness. Person D isn't saying (or shouldn't be, given that
> it seems you're saying that I am to him as morality is to bananas) that
> they are tasteless (and I'm not saying acts don't have a morality),
> just that acts aren't good or bad objectively and that the assignment
> of a value depends on your perspective. Just like in relativistic
> physics, where objects don't have a velocity absolutely, only relative
> to a certain perspective.
> This is where things get tricky for relativism. I agree that once you
> use logic to extricate yourself from the base-level moral system(
> bananas are good or bad) you can say you're done. Any further
> discussion about it is just a semantics/logic game.
> The problem is we keep playing it anyway.
> Even once you've said that there isn't a universal moral system, there
> are plenty of interesting things left to do. You can examine
> correlations between systems and backgrounds, you can convince people
> to convert to your system, you can relate your system of morality to
> your system of values in general, you can devise new moral systems with
> maximal acceptance for a group or even humanity as a whole, etc.
> Flawed as they are (I sometimes wish we could circumvent morality
> entirely and just use our "true" values directly to make judgments), a
> sense of morality seems to be built-in by evolution, so I say we figure
> out the best way to use it. Just like any other tool.
> When I first joined this group I suggested that any discussion about
> God's existence --pro or con-- was in fact a huge waste of time. I
> believe the same thing about relativism vs objectivism. Another way to
> frame that argument is fundamentalism vs modernism. It's been raging
> for thousands of years and maybe longer.
> I think I've answered most of the questions with regard to my form of
> relativism pretty convincingly. Convincingly to me, at least, as well
> as to other people around me. And I've been able to convince others to
> believe it.
> And I don't think it's a matter of stubbornness; I came from a very
> absolutist Christian background, and have changed my view many times in
> response to other peoples' logic, as well as my own. But perhaps I've
> become stubborn in my old age and not realized it.
> In practically every intellectual discipline known to man.
> Everyone keeps refining their arguments based on the last guy's try
> 'till the original question, the one everyone should be asking, is
> lost: why in the hell do we care how other people frame their beliefs
> anyway if it doesn't interfere with my way of life? I still think
> evolutionary psychology offers some clues: we're still operating in a
> brand new world with very old survival programming.
> It's a pretty interesting question. A related one is, "why do we fight
> so hard to prove other people on the internet wrong"?
>> Or alternatively, just have one guy take over the world with absolute
>> power,
> Seriously suggested not only as a possibility, but as an inevitability,
> by U.S. foreign policy thinker Robert Kaplan in his book "The Coming
> Anarchy."
> I definitely think it's a possibility, perhaps an inevitability. And I
> believe it could, at least potentially, be a good thing. I'll have to
> read the book.
> --
> Jebadiah Moore
> http://blog.jebdm.net
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