[ExI] Cosmopolitanism, collective epistemology and other issues

William Flynn Wallace foozler83 at gmail.com
Fri Jul 15 20:00:38 UTC 2016

anders -  Bruno got there first in a way.

Yes, he did.  I've read about old Giordano.  So sad.

Great good comes out of great evil.  The Roman church was so evil that it
finally shook up the Western world so badly that it failed (and is still
failing, though pretty powerful at that).  The Reformation is still going
on, and needs to be.  The Renaissance it spurred could not have happened
unless that church had been so corrupt.  (will take opinions from those who
know more history than I do - that is, probably most of you - my taste in
history runs to Jacques Barzun).

But that there is some validity to all points of view is silly. Listen to
them, yes.   I would listen to Flat-earthers just to study their minds, not
their views.  But again, many too liberal Eastern profs seem to take it
seriously that all cultures are equal in importance, which is sheer hogwash
- sheep dip.

Re Principle of Mediocrity - Is there anyone anywhere who would argue that
today is not the best of times?  Look at knowledge and our ability to
communicate it to others in terms of raising food, health care and many
many others.  We are the best and it has been Western civilization that has
gotten us to this point.

I argue that we are unique in history and while we have raised mammoth
problems along with our solutions, nobody would go back even one year to
where something is better.  Not when the ability to cure something seems to
happen every day.

And maybe all of this would not have happened, or happened much more slowly
had not the Roman church been so bad.  As Bruno, among others, showed us.

bill w

On Fri, Jul 15, 2016 at 12:24 PM, Anders <anders at aleph.se> wrote:

> On 2016-07-15 17:38, William Flynn Wallace wrote:
> David Brin suggested that the unique aspect of Western culture was not
> just fascination by other cultures (that can be found elsewhere) but a
> deeply ingrained idea that other cultures might have figured out things we
> haven't, might have better solutions we ought to pick up on, or that we
> need to reinvent ourselves to avoid being bad.  anders
> Speaking only for the USA, yes, we are fascinated by other cultures and
> often, very often, we assume that they are better than we are at certain
> things.  ...
> I don't know that Anders is correct re science and technology, or form of
> government.  I think we think that we have the best there.  I also very
> much doubt that most of us feel inferior in the moral department (being
> bad).
> You think too small. Think western culture, where US culture is one of the
> offshoots.
> Most cultures have been a bit curious about exotic things - upper class
> Romans threw around Greek quotes to show their erudition, and paid fortunes
> for silk and other products from near-mythical Sinica. But they would never
> have entertained the thought that those cultures had anything to teach them
> in statemanship: Romans were the best, manifesto. Same thing over in China:
> lots of myths about the exotic Occident, but there is nothing truly
> important to learn from it. Sure, some cool art and tech, but living like
> *them*?! Outrageous! The Romans would completely have agreed. So would
> nearly all societies across time and space.
> Brin's excellent essay can be read here:
> http://www.davidbrin.com/dogmaofotherness.html
> His claim is that there is a set of interlocking beliefs and behaviors in
> our culture. One is that there must be no dogmas. Another that no expert
> can know all the answers. The Dogma of Otherness insists that all voices
> deserve a hearing, that all points of view have something of value to offer.
> He claims it might be a liberal Western, even American doctrine. I think
> it goes deeper; Brin suggests that maybe the Copernican principle of
> mediocrity might have been the start, but Bruno got there first in a way.
> He argues that the otherness doctrine came as a reaction to the religious,
> mechanistic and romantic worldviews, which I think is half right - it
> became so powerful thanks to their failures. Yet it builds on a base of
> skepticism and universalism going back to the Greeks (humans are social
> animals with a common nature) and Christianity (and they have the same kind
> of souls - all the rest is contingent), the
> renaissance/enlightenment/liberal discovery that people in different
> cultures actually thought differently and that different life projects
> could be valid (and should be protected).
> Note that this is not a claim that every western person believes certain
> things. Rather, it is a claim that there are certain ideas that are as
> pervasive in our world as machismo or reverence for the family in other
> cultures. We don't notice it because we are embedded in it (although it is
> notable that western culture invented professional anthropology to study
> other cultures, and then began to turn the critical anthropological eye on
> itself).
> Note the link to our kind of cosmopolitanism: an interest in exploring and
> interacting with the Other (not just other cultures these days, but nature
> and maybe also different mental states), the willingness to see if the
> Other has something of value or can show that we are wrong about something.
> This in turn requires tolerance and open societies: without them it is not
> possible to actually meet the Other or update ones own society in the light
> of the new information.
> --
> Dr Anders Sandberg
> Future of Humanity Institute
> Oxford Martin School
> Oxford University
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