Showing posts from September, 2023

Response to Alvin Plantinga

First off, I will say that, of all of the arguments in favor of the existence of God that I've ever heard, this one is the most powerful and the most interesting and the most difficult to overcome.  In fact, I will not even attempt to overcome it.  The concern that Plantinga raises is fascinating and worth thinking about deeply, because it points to the deepest questions of epistemology: what is reason?  What is knowledge?  How can we know what rationality is?  How do we distinguish between a rational argument and a non-rational argument?  How should we?  I won't pretend to have all of the answers to these questions.  Instead of debating Plantinga's question and trying to shut it down, to put it to rest, I hope to respond in a way that leads to an open-ended and fruitful discussion.  Plantinga's problem points to an abyss, a world.  In my small way, I want to encourage this problem to flourish. I'll start by pointing out that Plantinga's argument does not really
I consider the "Realists" to be even more my enemy than the neoconservatives. The problem with "Realism", in a nutshell, is that they aren't realists.  They may use the word "realist," they may even think that they are realists (although I wonder...), but they're not realists.  They're die hard, delusional, ideological fanatics.  They're idealists who are so completely in the grips of a dogmatic ideology that it doesn't feel like ideology anymore.  It just feels like reality.  And anyone who questions this absolute reality is a heretic.  And they have the institutional backing to enforce this.

"Stupid" does not mean "False"

I want to make it clear before we go any further that stupid is not a synonym for false.  Not at all.  There are plenty of ideas that are stupid, but true.  There are also plenty of ideas that are smart, but false. It's also worth acknowledging that what is a stupid idea for a human might not be stupid for a non-human, such as an A.I..  It may even be the case that what is stupid for one human may not be stupid for another.  This is not to say that stupidity is purely subjective and it's up to you what's smart for you and what's stupid for you - it is, at least to a very large degree, an objective fact which kinds of ideas will be more effective for you to use and which will be less effective.  But this ordinal ranking may vary from one person to another.  It's like blood type: yes, blood type varies from person to person, yet it is nonetheless a knowable, observable fact.  Just as there are blood that compatible and incompatible with you, that would be potentially
Some people say there are two distinct things: sex and gender.  I disagree.  I think one can and should make finer linguistic distinctions, delineating 6 levels of identity: 1. Genotypic sex 2. Phenotypic sex 3. Culturally assigned gender 4. Internally felt gender identity 5. Gender expression 6. Essential gender Just because I distinguish these meanings linguistically does not mean that I consider all of them equally empirically real.  Of these, in my own opinion, I would say I believe in the first 5 of these, but not in the sixth.  To me, the sixth is a kind of fiction, or myth.  Again, though, that is merely my own opinion.  If someone else feels strongly that the sixth level is real, I think that's perfectly fine, and indeed I celebrate and encourage their exposition of their own conception of reality as they see it.  I'm not using the words "myth" and "fiction" as pejoratives here - if people want to use their creativity to explore the possibilities of

The problem with conspiracy theory is that it is insufficiently radical

How can one avoid descending into conspiracy theory?  The key is avoiding moralism - the illusion that individuals are responsible for oppression and thus that the problems can be fixed when evil people in decision-making positions are replaced with good people. Once one understands that it is the structures themselves - and the economic dynamics which determine those structures - that must be replaced, rather than the people who happen to occupy them, one can fully integrate this into one's analysis. That is what is fundamentally necessary to transform conspiracy theory into radicalism. Conspiracy theory is a form of scapegoating.  The problem with conspiracy theory is that it leads to inaction and passive acceptance of control and oppression.  It does this in two ways: first, in making the enemy seem so huge and powerful that nothing can be done to stop them.  There is a quote I've seen attributed to Umberto Eco and to Karl Popper - I'm not sure who said it first -