Author Topic: Discussing Beliefs  (Read 488 times)

Xepera maSet

Discussing Beliefs
« on: September 23, 2017, 12:56:15 am »
Reasoning for Specific Beliefs

INTRODUCTION

Hello, and thanks for taking the time to read this. It’s always a win when philosophers choose to look into abnormal positions rather than focusing on popular ones or low hanging fruit, so hopefully I can make this worth your while. Religious belief isn’t as simple as “I believe X because Y,” there are numerous variable that all sway us one way or the other. Does the material world exist? Is there a god? Do humans have a purpose/meaning? How can we obtain knowledge? Only when we answer these questions, on top of many others, do we get a full worldview. I would like to address some of these big questions, especially since I’ve been asked like ten times in the last 24 hours what my reasons are for being a theist, and all I’ve had to provide are tons of links.

SECTION I: AXIOMS

So, let’s start from the absolute ground up – logical axioms. The Law of Identity is probably one of the most important philosophical discoveries of all time, even if most would see it as rather obvious. The Law is that A is A, or A = A, or A has identical characteristics to itself. A is A because both have identical traits, there is no difference between them, and like all things they get their identity through characteristics. There is no situation were A can be Non-A, because then we have different characteristics and therefore two distinct identities which are not identical. Since it’s an axiom it’s actually not even possible to argue against the Law of Identity, for it must be true for anything to make sense or be known. If A can be both itself and not itself, then our ability to know anything about A has been utterly decimated. Even trying to argue A = Non-A requires both A and Non-A to have specific characteristics, which do not match. 

The other axiom I want to touch on for Setianism is that of self-existence. Any self-aware and conscious being will find it hard to deny that they exist. Our own conscious existence is actually the one thing we can truly be certain of, though this by no means suggests we should accept Hard Solipsism as true (more on this later). “I exist” is an axiomatic statement for anyone making the statement. Like with the Law of Identity, there is no situation where one could state “I exist” while not existing. It is also impossible to argue against self-existence, as it requires a self to take in, process, and then debate the topic itself. Indeed, “I don’t exist” would immediately lead us to contradiction, for if you don’t exist who is there to make the statement?

Moral axioms are a little different than logical axioms. A moral axiom is a starting point that is accepted even though we cannot prove that morality valid. “Murder is wrong” is a common moral axiom in our culture, for most find murder to be a bad action but it’s near impossible to prove that this is somehow an objective fact about the universe and not preference in some way. A friend of mine put it well to his class: you would never post on facebook “is it REALLY bad to murder babies,” because most people will think you’re a psychopath, but in philosophy this is an important question because the fact is moral axioms just kind of float there, we have no real way of proving them unless they’re somehow discoverable by physical science or through direct, worldwide, divine revelation. The moral axiom of Setianism, to me at least, is that each conscious being is a discreet entity with full ownership of their body, life, and property, and this stems out of the fact that discreet individual existence is logically axiomatic. So for example, consent is key in sexual encounters as one has self-ownership of their body. Theft is wrong because you have ownership of your property. Murder does not allow one control of their own life/destiny. I still accepted that I cannot show this to be objective morality, but at least it comes from logic as opposed to an old text or reactionary thinking.

 SECTION 2: DUALISM

When we are looking for a complete metaphysical worldview, we come down to about three options: material monism, immaterial monism, and dualism/pluralism. Monism is a stance that believes all the cosmos reduces to one substance – for material monism this substance is matter, and for immaterial monism this is generally a form of experience/consciousness. Dualism and pluralism believe that there are more than one substance, and reductionism doesn’t allow us to fully understand, describe, or explain the cosmos which we live in.

Material monism certainly has some support for it, which we obviously need to address. For example, there is an insanely obvious correlation between mental events and the activity of the brain. Medications from opiates to SSRIs a physiological and can effect mental states, so clearly the two are connected. Technology has gotten so crazy that we can even guess what emotion people may be experiencing by what points of the brain are lighting up. Further, when the body is shut down we have no way of accessing consciousness, like with death or a coma, so it’s not hard to see why many would conclude that this implies consciousness depends on the brain. There are issues with these points as well though. For example, there’s the obvious issue that correlation does not imply causation. That consciousness cannot be accessed by others without a brain/body that functions could easily compared to how a broken television won’t play any stations for you, but this doesn’t mean we conclude the stations have ceased to exist. There’s also the problem of property dualism, which we will get into more below, but since mental and brain activity have different characteristics they cannot be identical things without violating the Law of Identity (see first section).

What about immaterial monism, perhaps better called idealism? It also has some support for it that we need to look at. For example, the self is the only thing we can know directly (see section I), and all else is known through that conscious, self-aware being. This means that we may be able to accept the existence of the self while doubting the existence of an external, or at least material, world. Some argue that such a world as ours needs a continuous consciousness to keep the universe ordered. The entire eastern concept of Maya – illusion – is based on the idea that this world of matter is simply an illusion. But to me, all this ignores the massive amounts of evidence we have for the physical world. Sure we can only know it through the self, but if we go that route we are just going to end with Hard Solipsism anyways, or at least a form of it (theistic solipsism? Idk). Science has shown that we can consistently predict material events, and psychology has shown that most of us share experiences, see the same reality, and so forth. Two amazing artists drawing the same tree will come up with a similar image, you’re not going to get a drawing of a unicorn with a drawing of the white house, because it appears there is something there which we truly observe. The idea that this is due to some ultimate consciousness who sustains the world is a far greater assumption than that the external world actually exists.

This brings us now to dualism, which by far seems to have the most support for it. It addresses the failures of both monisms while making less assumptions, and is far more supported by the evidence than monism. For example, if both the inner and immaterial self, and the outer material world exist, this is a form of dualism. Of course we cannot reject the axiom of self-existence, but it is so obvious and evidenced that there is a consistent world of matter that we need to accept both if for no other reason than pragmatism. It also allows for us to accept the TV stations still exist when the TV is broken, or in our discussion that it is possible for consciousness to continue without the physical body. Maybe not even without it, but simply that the mind and the brain are not identical in the sense that A = A. Dualism explains why drugs effect our mental state, and why mental states effect our physiology such as in cognitive behavioral therapy, visualization, etc.

Perhaps the biggest issue is what is known as property dualism, which in philosophical terms means that between X and Y there are varying characteristics, they are not identical. Again this shows the massive importance of the seemingly simple Law of Identity. If two things are non-identical then they must be discrete things. As far as dualism goes, we see this with the characteristics of the mind compared to those of the brain. For example, the brain is something physical that we can directly access, but the mind is something which appears to be immaterial and which nobody but the person themselves has direct access to. To illustrate, we could cut open your head right now and poke around your brain all we want, but the only way to know what’s in your mind or what your experience is is to rely on your own testimony of it. This is what makes fields like psychology so damn difficult. Another difference is that the mind has autonomy whereas the brain does not. The brain is a machine, you introduce something like opiates and the brain simply changes how it acts, there is not thought process behind that, its mechanical. However this is not the case with the mind, which can recognize what the brain is doing and willfully overcome it, which we see with things like self-regulation, placebos with or without deception, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Events in the brain are spacial, whereas those in the mind are not. The brain takes up a very specific amount of space, but mental events and activity do not use up any space at all, which makes sense if the mind is non-physical because something must be physical to take up space. Another issue which we’ve already slightly touched on is that it is possible that matter is an illusion, but impossible that consciousness is an illusion (see section I). Mental events are also private whereas material events like in the brain can be accessed by anyone under proper circumstances. The mind also deals with abstract objects, such as an imagined and envisioned perfect circle compared to the rarely perfect circles we can see/draw in the real world. Further, the brain would be the only thing we know of where subjective experiences accompanies matter, but subjective experience always accompanies mind. The list of property dualism can go on for a very long time, and I think there is enough here to suffice.

So what we see here is that there is a rather obvious divide here between mind and brain, one which can be confirmed through experience, reason, and even scientific investigation in some cases. No form of monism can explain how two obviously existent and separate things can co-exist like this, because it needs to reduce either mind or matter into the other, a violation of the law of identity and, in the case of material monism, a violation of axiomatic self-existence as well.

SECTION 3: KNOWLEDGE

The question now becomes how we can know things, to what extent? Obviously beyond axioms any skeptic could argue it is impossible to know anything, and they may be right. But we can set this aside for pragmatic reasons if nothing else, and our knowledge often seems rather consistent. One of the big problems with knowledge for us is that we exist in a material world of never ending change. Our planet is always in a different location, every moment we evolve as a person due to more and more experience and wisdom, hell even our bodies have been entirely replaced by new cells several times in our lives. This is a problem because we cannot really obtain knowledge on anything that’s in a constant state of change. Imagine you’re holding an apple, and at any moment that apple can turn into any other fruit. How can we really know the object when its characteristics are able to change? This would violate the Law of Identity because the characteristics of the former object would not match the current object, and we would be stuck with the paradox of 1 object = 2 objects.

Well human beings, and the material world as a whole, are in constant states of change. No these aren’t as dramatic as an apple turning into an orange, but we can certainly say that even perhaps moment to moment, the present self and the past self are non-identical. And yet we recognize ourselves as a discrete and continuous individual, a seeming violation of the Law of Identity. Further, we can recognize 2 non-identical things as being part of the same category based on what their traits are. Like say we draw two different triangle, with different angles and different side lengths, clearly non-identical. Why and how, then, can we recognize both these things as the same category? Another example to use would be a chair. We can recognize a chair as a chair if it has four legs, if it has no back, if it is just a bag filled with beans. We can even recognize a chair as a chair even if it changes and one of its legs fall off – it’s now still a chair just broken. Since we cannot know things in constant states of change, how can we recognize and know all of this?

An updated version of Plato’s Theory of Forms gives us, by far, the best explanation of how knowledge can be and is attained despite constant change. For example, when we look at different triangles we recognize the same Form in them – that of a three sided, three pointed shape that can be flipped twice and rotated three times. Not a literal, material triangle of course, but an abstract/immaterial Form, one that all triangles partake in, giving them certain identical characteristics without the objects actually being identical (as in A = A). A better way to illustrate this is to look at a characteristic triangles share with something else entirely. For example we can look at a triangle, a rectangular coffee table, our front door, a knife, or even a writing utensil, and see that all of them contain at least one similar characteristic: points. They are “pointed.” None of those points are identical with each other, and yet they are identical characteristics. This is due to the fact that they all partake in a Form of Points, that abstract essence all points must partake in, similar to the Form of Triangles. Thing-In-Itself, in other words.

The Forms themselves, unlike everything in our material universe, do not change. Let us again look at our triangle and its Form. If we change the word we use for triangle, it is true that the name of the Form (Form of Triangles) would change to match the new word, but this does not in any way effect the Thing-In-Itself of the object in question. If we draw a triangle, then erase a line to make it into a “V”, this does nothing to change the Thing-In-Itself either, it simply stops the image from partaking in one Form, and makes it partake in another.

1.   We can know things about ourselves and reality.
2.   We cannot know about something if it is in a constant state of change.
3.   The material world is in a constant state of change.
4.   So, we cannot know something from the material world alone.
5.   The Forms are unchanging.
6.   So, we can know the Forms.
7.   Therefore, the Forms are a better source of knowledge than the material world.

SECTION 4: POLYTHEISM

It is my understanding that the existence of Forms supports the position of Polytheism. The Forms we have addressed like those of Points and Triangles are simple, they describe physical characteristics. But if there are Form for everything this includes more complicated Forms. For example, things exist such as consciousness, love, desire, growth, knowledge, …, which are themselves not material (see section II). The Form of a Triangle cannot partake in itself, for then it would have to become a specific, physical manifestation, and therefore no longer a Form. Similarly, the Form of Large Objects cannot be large itself, for that is a physical characteristic. But with immaterial things, the Forms can partake in themselves without contradiction. To illustrate, a defining part of higher consciousness is self-awareness, desire, rationality, and things of that nature. Since there is no physical trait here, the Form of consciousness itself can be aware, desirous, rational. Knowledge itself is another example, for knowledge includes things like self-awareness, rationality, driven effort, etc.

The reason I see these Forms as deities is that they seem to match with the actually views on original gods before monotheism. Such polytheistic gods were never thought to be all-knowing or all powerful, they weren’t perfect and they could have vastly different goals and personalities. They were immaterial, abstract, unchanging, and could partake in things like knowledge, desire, love and hate, etc. In other words they share identical characteristics to polytheistic gods (A = A, see section I).

When we are looking at theism, polytheism is actually far more logical and likely than most forms of monotheism. Many sects of “Abrahamic” religions believe that God is all-loving and all-powerful, which brings about massive problems from the problem of evil. Throughout history, different groups of humans have had vastly different religious experiences and cosmologies. For monotheism this is a big issue because one essentially must be “an atheist to every other god.” Yet obviously with polytheism this is not a concern, because it inherently accepts that other gods exist. In fact, polytheism tends to come with henotheism, an acceptance of many gods but a focus on/preference for one or a small group of those deities. On the other hand, atheism simply does not work because the Forms must exist, and certain forms are identical to polytheistic gods.

Another point for polytheism is that the universe has a clear plurality of substances and things. Humans for instance have a discrete and individual experience, rather than some unified mind/experience like a “collective (un)consciousness.” We recognize a vast amount of species, of elements, of atoms and particles. We have also already discussed many of the biggest reasons why monism does not work (see section II).

SECTION 5: MORALITY

An important aspect of any worldview is morality. Many religions simply try to claim their morality is objective due to the fact that their deity/deities have made it so. On the other hand, it seems more and more common to believe that there are no objective morals at all. While I may agree that we can never fully prove and moral system beyond a reasonable doubt, I think we can come to some systems rational enough to treat as objective. The best place to start as with all things are the axioms, in this case the fact that all is founded within self-existence (section I). It then makes sense to infer that the “right” thing to do is to use self-existence as the foundation for our moral system.

So we have these discrete, individual beings living within a big shared universe. The next logical step is to look for things that protect and foster self-existence, and avoid things which work against or even to destroy self-existence. A focus on self-actualization, for example, is beneficial to self-existence because it provides for one’s needs and allows them to find their place as a solid individual within society. On the other hand, a submission and destroying of individual selfhood, such as with brainwashing, ego destruction, all such things work against a health self-existence. When we investigate self-existence a bit more, we come to concepts such as consent and self-ownership. From this a very simple moral system can be build, based around protecting individual freedom and self-ownership. Murder is immoral because it violates an individual’s right to choose whether they live or die. Rape is immoral because it violates one’s right to control of their body, not to mention is often works heavily against self-existence and degrades the individual in physical as well as psychological ways. All this in only a few steps, rooted in logical fact, without the need for a god to command it.

SECTION 6: LIFE FIELDS

Perhaps the best scientific evidence for both/either Forms or Gods is the existence of Life Fields discovered by Dr. Harold Saxton Burr. Dr. Burr wondered how the body was able to recreate itself almost perfectly every few weeks/months (as discussed in section II). The cells even adjust to addresss things such as scars and tattoos. He wanted to know what preserved the design. At that point the answer to this question was still entirely unknown. In the end Dr. Burr discovered that what preserved the design was what he came to call Fields of Life.

Dr. Burr and his peers ran literally thousands of experiments showing that physiological changes can be predicted by measuring what they called the Life Field or L-Field. One such example was the ability to predict cancer before any symptoms showed up, predicting ovulation cycles, accurately predicting the layout of future nervous systems in eggs, the list went on and on. Put simply, the Life Field was discovered to act as a blueprint for physical and even mental development.

Following Dr. Burr was Dr. Leonard Racitz, who discovered that Life Fields not only predict physiological changes, but mental changes as well. Time preferential for focus and time where one would be less effective at their jobs could be predicted. Flare ups in mental disorders could be predicted as well, and it was even discovered that cycles such as that of depression could be mapped out rather well using L-Fields. Edward Russel stated that “L-Fields are the “bridge”… between the mental and the physical. Thus they offer evidence that the mind and body are quite separate…”

Dr. Burr and many of his followers believed that L-Fields, as a type of blueprint, were evidence specifically of a creator God. As Dr. Burr said, “…Life Fields are the links in a ‘chain of authority’… upwards to an infinite, ultimate authority, about which we can only speculate.” Indeed it seems reasonable to think a blueprint would need a creator, but does it necessarily imply a classical creator God?

Using the Theory of Forms (section III and IV), Dr. Michael A. Aquino suggested that the L-Field is actually part of a field connecting the individual to the Form of the individual itself. Since the Form of the individual would be outside of space and time, the Form would be aware of any impending changes to the body or the mind. Rather than everyone having a blueprint laid out by a God, Dr. Aquino suggests that the L-Field is simply a byproduct of the present self partaking in its Form.


SECTION 7: WRAPPING UP

We are on page 8 according to Word, so I think this is probably far past a good place to stop! The beliefs I have attempted to defend and discuss here are:

1.   A is A (Law of Identity).
2.   Self-Existence is axiomatic.
3.   Dualism is far more plausible than any form of Monism.
4.   The Theory of Forms is true and the only real way to attain knowledge.
5.   The Theory of Forms suggests polytheism through the Law of Identity.
6.   That we can come up with a logical moral system based on premise 2, without the need for any deity, but without resorting to moral relativism.
7.   Life-Fields support both Forms and a Teleology of the human body. They are essentially a blueprint that the Self adheres to.
AKA: Three Scarabs, 1137

"You look up into the night sky - whether as a child or an adult - and if you open yourself honestly, then it is a gateway to mystery, to the unknown."

pi_ramesses

Re: Discussing Beliefs
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2017, 08:23:05 pm »
Your thread on Occam's Razor helps me to make sense of the section on dualism. I, for one, have had suspicions that the Razor is misused in ways that William of Occam himself would not have granted. A glorified cop-out.
Pro omnis dominos viae sinistra, sic itur ad astra
Nylfmedli14

Kapalika

Re: Discussing Beliefs
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2017, 06:23:50 am »
I didn't read all of this as I was just browsing but this really stuck out to me:

When we are looking for a complete metaphysical worldview, we come down to about three options: material monism, immaterial monism, and dualism/pluralism.

Why those are our 3 options you never explain, you just claim it. Also there is more to nonduality than just those 2 monisms.

Without boring anyone, things like emenationalism, neutral monism and realistic idealism aren't accounted for in that. Also I don't see why dualism would necessitate it be pluralist too. I think you meant it in another sense but pluralism is the idea that there is more than one reality. This is distinct from non-plural duality. And in many ways realistic idealism is basically nondual pluralism.
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My religion is Satanism & Trika via Vāmāchāra (LHP)
"God and the individual are one, to realize this is the essence of Shaivism.” - Lakshman Joo

Xepera maSet

Re: Discussing Beliefs
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2017, 09:16:07 pm »
That's a good point, I'm sure there are theoretically infinite possibilities actually. Will fix that in later drafts.
AKA: Three Scarabs, 1137

"You look up into the night sky - whether as a child or an adult - and if you open yourself honestly, then it is a gateway to mystery, to the unknown."

Setamontet

Re: Discussing Beliefs
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2017, 05:37:39 pm »
Why is it that such a heavily guarded Black Magical principle is so heavily attacked and defended?

"Arise in your glory, behold the genius of your creation, and be prideful of being,
for I am the same - I who am the Highest of Life." - The Word of Set

Xepera maSet

Re: Discussing Beliefs
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2017, 05:39:27 pm »
"Our own conscious existence is actually the one thing we can truly be certain of, though this by no means suggests we should accept Hard Solipsism as true (more on this later)."

I'm wrong. Along with "I exist" comes "non-I exists", which itself disproves hard solipsism.
AKA: Three Scarabs, 1137

"You look up into the night sky - whether as a child or an adult - and if you open yourself honestly, then it is a gateway to mystery, to the unknown."

pi_ramesses

Re: Discussing Beliefs
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2017, 05:50:14 pm »
Being and non-being. Not unlike the Way of Virtue.
Pro omnis dominos viae sinistra, sic itur ad astra
Nylfmedli14


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