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Was Hitler really a Christian as he tried to convi

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opsimath
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#26 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 06/15/08 - 2:12 PM:

I checked out the monkey-sphere site. It seems that the writers have come to several hasty conclusions regarding the "nature" of human beings. It's too easy to find analogies within the primates to explain things like alienation and apathy. I really don't know much about monkeys, but I have read a few books where anthropology and zoology join up to answer some perplexing questions. Such authors like to rely on analogies to find "solutions" when in fact they are begging the question the whole time. "Why don't we care if the milkman dies?" is not a perplexing question. Neither is: "Why don't we feel moved by the story of 15,000 dead in an earthquake?" The answer is: if we did, we'd be nervous wrecks. There are people in asylums who actually have this problem. They can't sleep because a single child is starving in Africa. They are loonies.

The monkey writers seem to think that all is well within the sphere. Why when we know people commit the worst crimes within the sphere. In fact, most homicide victims know their murderer intimately. Most rapes are committed by so-called friends. Anyway, I'll try to attach this to the genocide thread: current reflection on the Rwanda massacre and the Nazi Holocaust try to theorize how masses of people go nuts. How killing becomes a kind of sport. Some theorists argue that nothing could have stopped the Nazis from their killing spree because a kind of mass bloodlust took control over everybody. That sounds more plausible than the used-up notion that everybody was obeying Hitler. Once the killing spree gets going, there really is no stopping it. Tutsis and Hutus live together as neighbors again after the genocide, we know this, but how? It seems that the victims realize that their neighbors were simply insane when they chopped off the heads of infants. Now that's over, so they can go back to everyday business. Remember Rwanda is a pretty small country made up villages (monkey-spheres?), and they still went haywire.

The best way to preserve "respect for human life" is to make sure no one, and no group, has too much power. When everyone relies on everybody else, murder becomes rather unattractive. I visited Taiwan a couple of years ago and saw something very interesting: a teenage boy was caught stealing an antique clock from a shop. Instead of punishing him, or even reporting it to the police, they locked him up for an hour until all of the village elders and most of the grown ups had heard about it. Then they all gathered around this young thief and apologized for being such lousy neighbors, such lousy parents, aunts, uncles, fellow citizens, etc. And they meant it. They were ashamed of themselves, not the thief. You see their logic was this: if this boy feels he has to steal an old clock and fence it, that means he has no connection to us, his community, and thus we have failed him, we have driven him to becoming a criminal. They begged his forgiveness. The boy understood. He then made a tearful testimony to his motives for stealing the clock; he needed quick cash to help his friend buy a moped, which he needed for his job, etc... and the village came up with a solution to the problem for the thief, his friend, etc, without punishing anyone. This doesn't support the monkey-sphere business at all. Taiwan is an ancient culture and the sense of community was so intact there, in this village at least, that theft can be seen as a general social malfunction, not as an evil deed carried out by a deviant. A system very different than what is known in the post-industrial west, where the organs of coercion and control are there to serve an elite minority and have only a nominal connection to common sense, not to speak of community ethics.







libertygrl
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#27 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 06/16/08 - 8:19 PM:

opsimath wrote:
Tutsis and Hutus live together as neighbors again after the genocide, we know this, but how? It seems that the victims realize that their neighbors were simply insane when they chopped off the heads of infants. Now that's over, so they can go back to everyday business.

hi opsimath! another welcome to you smiling face

einstein reportedly called the holocaust a "psychic illness of the masses". massive insanity seems the simplest manner of trying to grasp the scope of such genocides, although such an idea is abrasive to the causally-oriented mindset of western culture which would purport that everything has a cause and is therefore susceptible to control.

smokinpristiformis wrote:
It's a bit of a trick question for me.
I'm at least as much interested in quality of life than life as such.

Killing is always a horrible, scary thing, but I imagine there are some extreme situations where a death is not the worst option.

these are good points. we have to consider what it means to respect life, as such a question varies from individual to individual, and from culture to culture. there are some who feel that a respect for life means preserving the quality of life in terms of whatever values they hold most dear. then there are some who feel that respect for life means preserving life itself, no matter what the circumstance - even if it is the life of a serial killer, or the life of a terminally ill person who doesn't want to live anymore. even among this latter group, it seems to be generally agreed that killing someone in self-defense is exculpable. so there are a lot of variables to consider when we talk about a respect for life.

cheers,
smiling facelib
opsimath
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#28 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 06/17/08 - 7:29 PM:

The West rationalizes itself into madness. Maybe we need some kind of irrational education to replace the gangrenous mass of dialectics and dichotomy. The very notion of the irrational terrifies the western mind. "Irrational" is usually an insult or an epithet reserved for cultures we don't understand, or people we don't respect, but I think (or is it feel?) that most of our good instincts are in fact "irrational."
Genocide is carefully constructed by those who see their goals as utterly rational and humane. Over a million Iraqis are dead because of "rational" decisions, now more commonly perceived as deeply irrational. I think, in our era, this has more to do with mass amnesia than mass psychic illness. The Germans may have willfully forgotten the horrors of WWI so that they could be lead into WWII, just like America has forgotten that Vietnam was just a business deal for the guys at the top, who rationalized the war as a profit machine while making appeals to fear and patriotism to the public. The people running the show didn't have a moral cell in their bodies. Yet they were thoroughly rational in achieving their irrational goals.
Ditto Iraq. America will (eventually) go down in History as a country that attempted genocide, with a certain degree of success, against the Arabs (among other things, of course. Historians in 2700 AD will definitely mention the birth of Jazz, I hope).
It didn't start with Iraq! The US has been manipulating mass bloodshed for over sixty years in the middle east, guided by rational strategies for world domination, of course. The rational leads to madness; it's Mephisto's unending refrain. The usual tropes of duality, like a bloodthirsty America fighting for peace or a brave German "Homeland" preemptively assaulting Europe in its own defense, require a massive amount of rationalization before they are widely accepted. Goebbels knew this from Mussolini: The bigger the lie, the more people will believe it. You just have to keep repeating it. Repeating=Rationalizing.
Just consider how long it took even the educated classes in America to accept the fact that European newcomers (dubbed pilgrims and pioneers for different political purposes) almost completely eradicated thousands of North American native cultures.
So if it's true that Einstein "called the holocaust a "psychic illness of the masses", I'd say sure, he's right, however I find the cultural process leading up to mass psychosis more intriguing philosophically, because systemic slaughter on an enormous scale (Iraq, Cambodia, East Timor, Dafour, Manifest Destiny, the Holocaust, etc...), which seems to merit the description "psychotic" or "mad" requires rationally thinking, well-organized, disciplined people to get the job done.
opsimath
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#29 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 06/17/08 - 7:48 PM:

Oh yeah, I wanted to say something about killing. Well, it's a can of worms, isn't it? You probably know the thought experiment where you are in an elevator with another person and you have a gun with exactly one bullet in it. Now the elevator jams and eventually the air supply will run out on you both. The other person takes a sleeping pill - he or she refuses to make a decision, so it's up to you. If you kill that person, you may win a couple of hours of air and get rescued, but maybe not. If you kill yourself, you may save that person instead. So what do you do?

This is probably more useful in psychology as an evaluation test. Introverts with low self esteem are supposed to commit suicide and winners are supposed to blow the other person's brains out - you get the picture. Killing in self-defense could be legit, depending on the circumstances. But this logic has already lead certain people to legitimize all acts of aggression as some form of self defense, so...OK somebody is coming at you with a hacksaw and you kill him, right? A hardcore Buddhist would argue that you have to at least try and disarm the maniac, even at great personal risk.

Anyway, I feel that sane people have the right to suicide and abortion, plus it's OK to kill politicians, insurance agents, corporate lawyers, mass media executives, neo-nazis, techno DJs or people who listen to them, especially if I have to hear the crap through my wall, and deadly insects or snakes you might find in your home. whee


libertygrl
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#30 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 06/18/08 - 1:05 AM:

opsimath wrote:
The West rationalizes itself into madness. Maybe we need some kind of irrational education to replace the gangrenous mass of dialectics and dichotomy. The very notion of the irrational terrifies the western mind. "Irrational" is usually an insult or an epithet reserved for cultures we don't understand, or people we don't respect, but I think (or is it feel?) that most of our good instincts are in fact "irrational."

i totally agree. i prefer to think of "emotional" (or perhaps "intuitive", in some cases) as being the opposite of "rational". doesn't quite have the stigma of irrationality, although to some it still does. it's so strange to me to deny that aspect of ourselves as being invalid somehow. on the other hand, perhaps it needed to be ignored for a time (like, 500 years or so) so we could explore the depths of rationality through science. i believe global culture is now moving in the direction toward integrating eastern and western thought, which hopefully will bring about this "irrational education" you mention, along the lines of re-discovery and validation of our emotional selves.

opsimath wrote:
So if it's true that Einstein "called the holocaust a "psychic illness of the masses", I'd say sure, he's right, however I find the cultural process leading up to mass psychosis more intriguing philosophically, because systemic slaughter on an enormous scale (Iraq, Cambodia, East Timor, Dafour, Manifest Destiny, the Holocaust, etc...), which seems to merit the description "psychotic" or "mad" requires rationally thinking, well-organized, disciplined people to get the job done.

indeed. will humanity ever grow out of its bloodlust? i believe it will someday. but not in my lifetime.

opsimath wrote:
But this logic has already lead certain people to legitimize all acts of aggression as some form of self defense, so...OK somebody is coming at you with a hacksaw and you kill him, right? A hardcore Buddhist would argue that you have to at least try and disarm the maniac, even at great personal risk.

yesterday i saw in the news that a police officer in a town here in california shot and killed a man who was beating a toddler to death (later determined to be the man's 2-year-old son). the man explained to one of the witnesses who tried to stop him that the child was full of demons. did the police officer do the right thing? i certainly couldn't bring myself to condemn him for killing the man.

full report:

http://www.startribune.com/nation/19987319.html

opsimath
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#31 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 06/24/08 - 8:33 AM:

It's always easier to negotiate with your enemy when s/he is dead.

It sounds like that man had more than his share of troubles, whether he deserved death I can't say. Two wrongs make a right? Not really. And trigger happy cops are a big problem in this country because the courts refuse to punish them. In France, this would amount to a national scandal, even in today's police state France where people are put in jail for talking back to police officers who verbally abuse them. The real is issue state power and its misuse: we are supposed to get used to brutality. Kill 'em all! Then we stand by politely as the meat trucks carrying our neighbors off to the gulag roll by. The ultimate goal of the current regime is to set up a state where spontaneous executions, interminable jail sentences, torture and daily intimidation are the norm. So that you shut up and get with the program. So that you rat on those who don't. It's how the nazis got started: first we'll take care of foreigners, crooks, the insane, jews, criminals, communists, and other pests...then we'll take care of you! It's inevitable when violence is all the state has to offer.
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#32 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 06/24/08 - 9:58 AM:

opsimath wrote:
whether he deserved death I can't say

nor could i. but it's easy for us to talk about what people deserve in the comfort of our living rooms, when we're not out there being confronted by the sight of a 2-year-old child being bloodied to a pulp. thought experiments are good in practice but it's far easier to uphold our ideals when not being confronted with actual violence.

a couple of recent films come to mind in relation to this topic; one is "the brave one" in which jodie foster plays a vigilante who goes on a killing spree after falling to a victim to brutal assault which leaves herself in a coma for several weeks and her fiance dead. another is "gone baby gone" in which casey affleck plays a private investigator who shoots a pedophile in the head after a grisly scene of finding an 8-year-old boy dead in the man's bathtub.

interestingly this also relates to nexus' thread in the dust bunnies forum about people getting a fair trial. certainly the idea of empowering the vigilante to run amok wielding a gun, executing an individual perception of justice is not a good direction for us to head as a society. at the same time, i can still look at these scenarios and understand why people did what they did. i guess that's why they call them crimes of passion. doesn't make it right, but i still empathize.
opsimath
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#33 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 06/25/08 - 8:45 AM:

I agree with you 100%. My issue is however something else: when we sit and chat about killing, well, that's all there is to it. Chatting. We aren't persecuting people who may have a legit cause in killing someone, like a child murderer. The State, on the other hand, does exactly that. The State doesn't empathize, or feel pain, or really care about a thing except asserting its power. And the State routinely benefits from emotionally charged anecdotes by swaying people's opinion, by blinding them with rage or fear so that they make irrational decisions. When states have the authority to kill, they also have the power to use that authority as a political weapon of intimidation, which of course they do with bravura. The police officer who killed that deranged man is a murderer, period. Now if the mother had plugged the guy, I'd say well done, but the State would have her put on death row!
opsimath
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#34 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 07/14/08 - 3:38 PM:

anybody home?
I hope I wasn't being utterly reprehensible in the above statements. This chat has been a little quiet lately. Maybe we should move away from the subject of murder/killing and go back to the thread about religion and ethics and killing? Any Dawkins fans/foes here?
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#35 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 07/14/08 - 4:55 PM:

opsimath wrote:
I hope I wasn't being utterly reprehensible in the above statements. This chat has been a little quiet lately.

hi opsimath, no worries. smiling face this is a pretty quiet place most days.

opsimath wrote:
Maybe we should move away from the subject of murder/killing and go back to the thread about religion and ethics and killing? Any Dawkins fans/foes here?

can't say i'm a fan or a foe, but i do think the concept of the meme is simply brilliant. what are your thoughts on dawkins?
opsimath
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#36 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 07/18/08 - 7:20 PM:

I find Dawkins' desire to be a public figure interesting. The scientific community can't help but be on his side, yet scientists have learned to live below the violent wavelengths of coarse religious discourse. Here's a brilliant guy who is fed up with dummies always having their say while the intelligent minority is relegated to classrooms and research facilities accessible to only a select few. I appreciate his populism and courage.

The populism and snappy rhetoric aside, there's nothing really, really new and fabulous (compared to The Selfish Gene and other works) about his "God Delusion" book, at least not for anybody who doesn't believe in supernatural deities. But that mass appeal is certainly worth something. We need more brave intellectuals, now more than ever. There are a few YouTube vids of him giving public lectures and fielding Qs from stupefied redneck college students who think they're just great for getting into Bullshit U. There you can see that he's an educator and not a polemicist.
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#37 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 08/22/08 - 6:16 PM:

opsimath - i moved your post about the dark knight to its own thread. it looks like you were not aware of other discussions that are going in the forum (please visit http://www.thecouchforum.com to see the main index for the forum).
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