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Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9658 Posts

Posted - 12/18/2017 :  13:34:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil

Philo:
As should be clear from these quotes, Loxton views skepticism as an discipline or occupation (like dentistry, as he himself gave as an example), and identifies on a personal level with humanism. Do you share Loxton's views on this?

I do. Yes. Skepticism is a tool. A method. Atheism and humanism are beliefs. Skepticism sometimes informs beliefs but it does so as a tool.
I think that's a simplification though.
Atheism isn't a belief as such, but rather a philosophical standpoint on religion? A lack of belief.

Skepticism is a tool, out of the science tool-box.

Humanism is the philosophical and ethical stance of egalitarianism(?) of humans?


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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13433 Posts

Posted - 12/18/2017 :  19:31:11   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Mab:
Atheism isn't a belief as such, but rather a philosophical standpoint on religion? A lack of belief.[

I see atheism as a metaphysical conclusion to the proposition, is there is a god? It gets to that conclusion by way of empirical evidence (or the lack of it, in this case.) It's a belief that there is no god. In other words, atheism resides at one end of the belief scale, and belief in god, where empirical evidence is not a requirement, is at the other end of the same scale.

No biggie but perhaps it's because I see atheism as one possible answer to a metaphysical question that I see it as a belief. Definitely not a belief in god, but a belief about god. I don't think a belief about god must presuppose that a god exists.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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bluewaves
New Member

USA
7 Posts

Posted - 12/19/2017 :  05:25:11   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send bluewaves a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'd like to believe that I am.

Tony Lane
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Taymaskha
Spammer

1 Post

Posted - 12/28/2017 :  12:20:04   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Taymaskha a Private Message  Reply with Quote
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Spam link edited by Kil.
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Philo
Skeptic Friend

62 Posts

Posted - 02/20/2018 :  13:19:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Philo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Steven Pinker has recently, last week actually, published a book called Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. In it, he touches upon humanism, as the name implies:

Science is not enough to bring about progress. “Everything that is not
forbidden by laws of nature is achievable, given the right knowledge”—
but that’s the problem. “Everything” means everything: vaccines and
bioweapons, video on demand and Big Brother on the telescreen. Something in
addition to science ensured that vaccines were put to use in eradicating diseases
while bioweapons were outlawed. That’s why I preceded the epigraph from
David Deutsch with the one from Spinoza: “Those who are governed by reason
desire nothing for themselves which they do not also desire for the rest of
humankind.” Progress consists of deploying knowledge to allow all of
humankind to flourish in the same way that each of us seeks to flourish.
The goal of maximizing human flourishing—life, health, happiness, freedom,
knowledge, love, richness of experience—may be called humanism. (Despite the
word’s root, humanism doesn’t exclude the flourishing of animals, but this book
focuses on the welfare of humankind.) It is humanism that identifies what we
should try to achieve with our knowledge. It provides the ought that supplements
the is. It distinguishes true progress from mere mastery


While science and reason are obviously within the skeptic's ballplank per definition, I think that quote illustrates why humanism should go hand in hand with skepticism. Not in the sense of the two movements merging, but rather why they go hand in hand for so many skeptics. I agree completely with Pinker's assessment above.

In the book, Pinker describes not onl religiously based morality as the opposite of humanistic morality, but also populism and fascsim, movements that have recently made inroads in Europe and the US, unfortunately.
Edited by - Philo on 02/20/2018 13:20:02
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25944 Posts

Posted - 02/20/2018 :  20:14:47   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It is quotes like that from which people derive the idea that atheism implies humanism, since without a deity to pronounce what's right or wrong, it's up to us alone to draw the lines. A very lefty idea.

Which makes it bizarre that it came from Pinker, who of late has been proclaiming that the alt-right is full of people who have been "radicalized" by the alleged (by Pinker) fact that certain topics are forbidden from discussion on liberal college campuses, such topics being the thinnest of veils over racist, sexist and classist claims. He also apparently dismisses the notion that to be "politically correct" is to be polite to those with less political power than oneself, since he uses "politically correct" as a derogatory term. These are not the actions of a humanist.

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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25944 Posts

Posted - 02/25/2018 :  10:39:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Pinker's book does not impress:
...The Enlightenment may seem an ambitious topic for a cognitive psychologist to take up from scratch. Numerous historians have dedicated entire careers to it, and there remains a considerable diversity of opinion about what it was and what its impact has been. But from this and previous work we get intimations of why Pinker thinks he is the person for the job. Historians have laboured under the misapprehension that the key figures of the Enlightenment were mostly philosophers of one stripe or another. Pinker has made the anachronistic determination that, in fact, they were all really scientists - indeed, "cognitive neuroscientists" and "evolutionary psychologists."

In short, he thinks that they are people like him and that he is thus possessed of privileged insights into their thought denied to mere historians. The latter must resort to careful reading and fraught interpretation in lieu of being able directly to channel what Enlightenment thinkers really thought...

...[T]hroughout the book reason is treated as an unproblematic given, as if we all know what it is and are happy to sign up to Pinker's version of it. Alas, reason is a notoriously slippery notion. Problematizing it and challenging its authority turns out to be one of the signal achievements of the Enlightenment. Pinker seems blissfully unaware of this...

...
[C]ontra Pinker, many Enlightenment figures were not interested in undermining traditional religious ideas - God, the immortal soul, morality, the compatibility of faith and reason - but rather in providing them with a more secure foundation. Few would recognise his tendentious alignment of science with reason, his prioritization of scientific over all other forms of knowledge, and his positing of an opposition between science and religion...

...If we put into the practice the counting and gathering of data that Pinker so enthusiastically recommends and apply them to his own book, the picture is revealing. Locke receives a meagre two mentions in passing. Voltaire clocks up a modest six references with Spinoza coming in at a dozen. Kant does best of all, with a grand total of twenty-five (including references). Astonishingly, Diderot rates only two mentions (again in passing) and D'Alembert does not trouble the scorers. Most of these mentions occur in long lists. Pinker refers to himself over 180 times...

...Pinker never seems to see the force of the question: How do we know that all this did not take place in spite of, rather than because of, the Enlightenment? In fact, he doesn't even pretend to go to the trouble of establishing a causal connection between his contentious version of the Enlightenment and the various improvements that he imagines follow in its wake.
Post hoc, ergo propter hoc seems to be the operative principle.

For the sceptical reader the whole strategy of the book looks like this. Take a highly selective, historically contentious and anachronistic view of the Enlightenment. Don't be too scrupulous in surveying the range of positions held by Enlightenment thinkers - just attribute your own views to them all. Find a great many things that happened after the Enlightenment that you really like. Illustrate these with graphs. Repeat. Attribute all these good things your version of the Enlightenment. Conclude that we should emulate this Enlightenment if we want the trend lines to keep heading in the right direction. If challenged at any point, do not mount a counter-argument that appeals to actual history, but choose one of the following labels for your critic: religious reactionary, delusional romantic, relativist, postmodernist, paid up member of the Foucault fan club...

...Burke is mentioned twice; Adorno and Horkheimer once, in a list of enemies of the Enlightenment...

...A final remarkable feature of Pinker's vision is his teleological view of history - the idea that historical events are destined to unfold inexorably in a single direction. This is perhaps the only instance where he has genuinely succeeded in emulating what a good number of Enlightenment thinkers actually believed. This conviction is manifested not only in the downplaying of the horrors of much twentieth-century history, but in his touching faith that nothing will reverse the trend lines repetitively and graphically illustrated in the second part of the book...

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Philo
Skeptic Friend

62 Posts

Posted - 02/26/2018 :  14:54:12   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Philo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Oh come on. Don't unnecessarily politicize. And whatever mistakes Pinker may have done (like being insufficiently left-wing for you), would that invalidate the quote in question?
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25944 Posts

Posted - 02/26/2018 :  20:26:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Philo

Oh come on. Don't unnecessarily politicize.
Oh, come on. The idea that "humanism should go hand in hand with skepticism" is political. Is this an "it's okay for me, but not for thee" thread, Philo?

And whatever mistakes Pinker may have done (like being insufficiently left-wing for you)...
Yes, because Pinker stands obviously right-of-center makes him insufficiently left-wing for me.

...would that invalidate the quote in question?
You're accusing me of an ad hominem? I thought I made it clear: I was surprised that someone as far right as Pinker would put such a leftist idea anywhere near his own book. In other venues, like speeches and panel discussions, Pinker has demonstrated that he is not a humanist when it comes to women, brown people, poor people, and edifices of higher education. Within the book itself, according to the review I linked to, Pinker self-refutes any humanism he might aspire to by betraying humanist values with regard to the agency of Enlightenment figures. Pinker doesn't seek the truth about their thoughts, he provides his own "truth" and calls it theirs.

Following the examples of other political disputes, I'm going to label Pinker a HINO: Humanist In Name Only.

The gist of the quote you pulled from the opening paragraphs of chapter 23 of Pinker's book should be reworded and publicized massively, so that its import is rescued from the fetid stench of Pinker's anti-humanism before it becomes permanently tainted.

Is that political? You're damn tootin' it's political. The idea that "political" means "bad" is anti-factual. The idea that skeptics, atheists and/or humanists should refrain from politicizing their positions is laughable, since merely stating a position and hinting that other people should agree with it is a political act. Any suggestion, however tiny, that we should leave the personal politics of skeptical, atheist, and/or humanist "leaders" out of any discussion of their statements is just another political act, implying that some moral values are more important than others when it comes to the "vision" of "the movement" as a whole.

Fercryinoutloud, Pinker's entire book is a massive politicization of the whole Enlightenment for his own ends regarding science and morality. Yet I am the one accused of "unnecessarily politiciz[ing]" the topic under discussion. There really aren't enough rolls-eyes icons to express my feelings about your response, Philo.

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Philo
Skeptic Friend

62 Posts

Posted - 03/03/2018 :  20:58:20   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Philo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, Pinker is generally considered by other humanists to be a humanist. He received the Humanist of the Year award in 2006. To insist that he is not a hhumanist because not being sufficiently left-wing seems a bit small-minded to me. I think humanists, to a degree at least, can be in favor of more market-based approaches, as well as more collectivist approaches. Again, to a degree. The varuous humanist manifestoes and definitions are silent on the exact details, for good reason I think. There must be some wiggle-room.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25944 Posts

Posted - 03/04/2018 :  17:23:31   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It's been 12 years since 2006, Philo. Pinker is saying things now that humanists wouldn't say. I don't think he's a HINO because he's right-wing, it's because he's saying things that humanists should disagree with. Or did I miss the part of the humanist philosophy where it says that treating people with less political power than oneself with respect is a bad thing? Is "attribute to others positions that they do not hold, truth be damned" part of the Manifesto?


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Philo
Skeptic Friend

62 Posts

Posted - 05/30/2018 :  11:29:18   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Philo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
From here: http://freethinker.co.uk/2018/01/17/humanist-denied-uk-asylum/

As a descriptive term a humanist can be someone who has simply rejected religious belief but holds some positive conception of human values.


For many, the broad descriptive ‘humanist’ is just a softer way of saying atheist, especially if you come from a place where identifying as atheist may be regarded as a deeply offensive statement.


These quotes come from organized humanists, so I assume that they know what they are talking about. To me they indicate that humanism is either an atheist who is not a dick, or an euphemism for atheism.

I can see the need for euphemisms for atheism in some circumstances. But is it really necessary to have a word to describe an atheist who is not a dick? That implies that the default for atheists is to be dicks.
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returned1
New Member

9 Posts

Posted - 06/15/2018 :  04:34:49   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send returned1 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I suppose in the sense that when it comes to values, morality and the how to best organize our lives, individually and collectively, we ought to acknowledge that there is no power beyond humanity itself that is going to intervene or provide direction (theistic moralities are a mixed bag at best; theocratic societies are notoriously awful).

Do I have much hope for humanity? Not really. I would tend to believe that much of what is called "human nature" can be explained by personality and acculturation, rather than as innate, universal traits, but those who are violent, greedy, shortsighted and amoral seem to be the most adept at obtaining and maintaining power in the long run. Yes, I am a moral realist and yes I do believe in moral progress, but we have achieved too little of it to keep us off of a disastrous trajectory. Humanist yes, but one who also believes that we lost our right to rule the planet long ago (if we ever had it to begin with). Of course, nothing will ultimately stop us but our own stupidity, too bad we will probably take most other living things with us.

I hope that I'm wrong. My desire to make things better is one reason why I am here.

"Man's most valuable trait is a judicious sense of what not to believe." --Euripides
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ThorGoLucky
Snuggle Wolf

USA
1440 Posts

Posted - 06/18/2018 :  11:03:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit ThorGoLucky's Homepage Send ThorGoLucky a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Indeed the universe is not fair, but we as thinking and social beings can work towards having a semblance of justice.

My hope for humanity waxes and wanes. There are times when I think that a giant earth-destroying meteor cannot come soon enough, but then again that would harm all life and not just the smarmy humans.
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Philo
Skeptic Friend

62 Posts

Posted - 07/19/2018 :  11:13:39   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Philo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
From an interview with Eugenie Scott: https://centerforinquiry.org/blog/eugenie_scott_cfi_summit/

PF: The CFI Summit is a little different from most conferences of late, in that it emphasizes a coming-together of atheists/humanists and skeptics, which of course implies there’s something a division between them. Now, you’re someone who seems to swim in these two ponds with no problem, so I wonder what you see as the nature of that division, if any. In other words, are all of us skeptics, humanists, atheists, naturalists, or what have you, all really in the same boat and part of the same movement, or is there really a divide that needs bridging?

ES: There are two boats, and there’s no need to bridge any divide. Humanists, atheists, naturalists and what-have-yous are one group, and skeptics are in another. Skeptics are interested in science, and in applying critical thinking to extraordinary claims. They include both nonbelievers and people of faith, as well as people who don’t especially care about philosophy/religion. Humanists/atheists, etc., are people with a nontheistic philosophical view (though I’m not sure that atheism really is a philosophy. When atheists wax philosophical, they mostly channel humanist thinkers or values). Do not assume that humanists are necessarily interested in science or necessarily apply science in their everyday reasoning. I know religious skeptics and
new-age humanists.

I don’t see a need for a bridge. If I want to think about philosophy, I’ll go to a humanist meeting. If I want to think about science, I’ll go to a skeptics’ conference. In fact, a bridge hurts skepticism. Skepticism is the larger boat, open to all who are interested in science. If we conflate skepticism and humanism, we are chopping off the end of the boat occupied by theists and those disinterested in religion. I’m more interested in keeping as many people in the critical thinking boat as I can, so I see no value in combining the two movements. If you belong to both, fine. But they are not the same movements.


It seems a little strange, given the support for science and reason that you can find in various humanist documents and manifestos. But I guess it is true in practice.
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