General Question

zensky's avatar

What are some of the intellectual thoughts and perhaps religions or philosophies you respect but disagree with?

Asked by zensky (13283 points ) February 17th, 2013

And why, of course. Or it’ll just be a list.

Inspired by a very prominant ex-political figure, an interesting woman whom I generally disagree with, saying I respect some of the interesting things my brother says that I might disagree with.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

61 Answers

RandomGirl's avatar

I believe that we’re created by a loving God. I know this is a rare stand to take. I stand firm on it. But at the same time, I respect atheists. It takes even more faith – and faith in fallible human logic, at that – to believe there is no God orchestrating our lives. I can’t imagine believing that we’re just here to fend for ourselves for a few years on this random speck of dust and water in a vast universe. I can’t imagine not having the comfort of being able to reach out and say, “Lord, help me!”. But most of all, I can’t imagine trying to make a difference or leave my mark in the world around me of my own substance. I’m nothing. I’ll only be here for about 80 or 90 years, if I’m lucky. A few years after my death, not many people will be thinking about me any more. That’s a horrible thought for some people. They try to leave a lasting mark on the world, all by themselves. Some, like movie stars, politicians, or (as we see more and more every day) mass murderers, manage to leave a mark on the world that lasts a bit longer. But in the end, we’re all just humans. We don’t matter that much. I may not be known for a long time any way, but I know I make a lasting difference in the world when I’m working for the Lord and giving him the glory. It takes a lot of faith and courage to look up at the stars, say to the air, “There is no god!” and try to make a go of life on our own two feet. I respect atheists for that.

Rarebear's avatar

I respect religious intellectuals who do not deny science.

JLeslie's avatar

I respect theists even though I am an atheist. I don’t think there is anything negative about believing. I think anything negative has to do with organized religion and how a person follows a particular religion.

@RandomGirl When I read your frist sentence I had no idea you were going to talk about atheists, I thought you were going to talk about a loving God compared to a spiteful and mean one.

ETpro's avatar

@zensky I do not have any evidence to believe that the Universe is a vast intelligence, but I respect those who think it is. The belief, though founded in faith (holding true what you have no evidence to support) is an innocuous one. And, there is at least a smattering of evidence in quantum entanglement at this point to suggest that I could be so.

@RandomGirl I don’t know if @zensky will welcome debate here, or wants this restricted to statements of personal opinions alone. But if allowed, I’d like to take issue with your characterization of atheists. Your assessment is shot through with fallacious assumptions. An atheist does not have to assert faith of any kind. Faith is belief in things that have no evidence to support them. Simply not believing in unsupported assertions requires no faith whatsoever, It requires no claim of human logic being superior to that of a unicorn, or a tooth fairy, or a sky daddy.

Why is it so horrible to think you are just here for your appointed time. In it, you feast on the flora and fauna and energy of the Universe for your sustenance. You grow, and prosper, and wither, and die. You then feed your energy and nutrients back to the Universe to resurrect new life. The flora and fauna that fed you now eat you and feed others of your kind. What is so horrid in that?

And leaving a mark. Does your sky daddy enhance yours? Do you know who was Pope in 1172? Who was the Grand Mufti of Islam? I submit that every living human leaves some mark, and each, in its turn, advances human understanding. But how a sky daddy of any religious stripe fits in that is a mystery to me.

Finally, atheist do not “look up at the stars, say to the air, ‘There is no god!’”. it would take faith to say that, because there is no way to ever prove god cannot exist. Atheists, instead, “look up at the stars, say to the air, “I see no compelling evidence of a God, but I shall live my life in a way that if a God exists, I hope s/he approves of it!”

RandomGirl's avatar

@ETpro: “An atheist does not have to assert faith of any kind. Faith is belief in things that have no evidence to support them.”

This is where you and I differ. I think you would agree that we all are working with the same facts, but have different interpretations of those facts. Facts are not for one belief or another; they are simply the way things are. How do you know all your beliefs are correct? How do you know every assumption you’ve ever made about the world around you is true?

Let me simplify this a bit: How do you know a car is a car? One you’ve never seen before, but is similar to others. The four wheels, the basic shape, the windows, and all that is how you know a car is a car. But a car is a complex thing. You would have to study it intently to know it really is like other cars you’ve seen before. You can’t just assume it’s the same – you have to do research and gain knowledge of the facts to know that it doesn’t have an important difference in the engine or structure. Sure, it may look the same, but you don’t know that for sure.

Now, I’m sure you’re scratching your head as to what exactly I’m going to make of this.

My point is this: We make assumptions every day. Small ones are inconsequential. But what about bigger decisions, in which we can’t know all the facts? How can we know we’re making the right decision when there are unknowns? Certainly, a person doesn’t know every little thing their SO did before they met. Sure, their partner can tell them about their past, but how does a person know this person isn’t a murderer or a fake? They observe their current behavior and make assumptions. They take a leap of faith. You may call it taking a chance or trusting. This is what faith is: Making observations and taking those observations as truth. There comes a point – in all aspects of life – when we always have to say, “OK, this information is good enough for me.”

Now, let’s apply this to the world view debate.

When you were deciding there was no God, what were the influencing factors in your life? Chances are, a person, perhaps a science teacher or professor, or perhaps the author of a book(s) you read, was a large part of that. They presented the facts with their interpretation and you said, “You know what, you’ve convinced me. There is no god.” Did you learn every piece of information about the universe? Of course not. No one ever could. So no matter what, it all comes down to this question: In whom am I going to put my trust? Fallible humans and their interpretation of the facts, or the perfect God who has told us how He created the world?

The difficult thing about this decision is that both choices are hard to swallow.

What I said about leaving a mark is more personal to me than anything. I, personally, couldn’t live with myself if I thought this were all there was. I have to feel like I’m living for something, something bigger than myself. I hate the feeling that I’m wasting my time. People probably won’t remember me even if I live for Christ, but at least I don’t feel like I’m wasting my time.

By the way, just about everything I said here is from a video series from Answers in Genesis by Ken Ham. If I didn’t articulate it well (it’s late at night and I’m all jumbled up), I suggest looking at their stuff for yourself. Wow, that’s a lot of writing.

ETpro's avatar

@RandomGirl The hour is late, so I will rush through this. According to Merriam Webster Dictionary “faith is defined, among other ways, as:

“a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion
 b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust”

It is crystal clear this is the meaning of faith in the biblical texts, because we have this confirmation from Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

I spent a great deal of time reconciling my beliefs and my lack thereof. I delved into numerous religions, took a course in comparative religions, read a number of sacred texts from competing faiths, and went to Bible College. Your theists heroes seem to be erecting atheists straw men they find it easy to skewer.

Let’s turn the tables and look at how you came to your faith. Had you been born in ancient Mayan culture, or in Egypt, or in Caesar’s Rome, would you have had faith in the God of the Abraham or in some other god everyone around you told you was the king of heaven? How many Druids were secretly Christian? How many Muslims or Hindus today? I submit that it is the typical atheist who has actually thought this through, and the typical theist, regardless of stripe, has just accepted what their culture told them.

zensky's avatar

Loving this thread.

whitenoise's avatar

@RandomGirl
Those are nice words, even though I stand somewhat with ETpro on your interpretation of atheism. However… that’s fine they are yours.

One thing you say, makes me wonder why you say it: “I believe that we’re created by a loving God. I know this is a rare stand to take.”

Why would you think that? It seems to me actually, that there are far more people believing in god than there are atheism. In fact, I believe, that being religious is the norm for far over 80% of the people on this planet.

zensky's avatar

That – and the millions upon millions of Jews et al in the Holocaust, not to mention the many other atrocities and disasters that have befallen mankind. A loving God? How?

trailsillustrated's avatar

Uh, Mormonism? I met many in Uni and they were just like anybody else pretty much- I don’t get the underwear thing or the no caffeine thing- and more than a few of my Mormon classmates were cheaters just like me- that I don’t get. Whatever. It’s ok and I respect all beliefs. And this wasn’t high school either it was pre-med just sayin.

Elm1969's avatar

I find it hard to imagine that humans will be segregated at death, depending on their life beliefs.
However I do think that everyone should be allowed to have there own ideas about their life.

gorillapaws's avatar

@RandomGirl ” In whom am I going to put my trust? Fallible humans and their interpretation of the facts, or the perfect God who has told us how He created the world?”

I think this is where your argument goes off the rails a bit. You’re actually putting your faith in the original authors/assemblers of the Bible and that events actually took place the way the gospels and other books claimed they did. You are also putting your faith in the accounts of the various gospels that (despite sometimes contradicting each other) are held to be (by many) flawless narratives of the events of Christ’s life even though they were written long after his death. You are assuming that those who started the early church didn’t insert their own agenda into the Bible “for the greater good” if it was seen to help the church spread, despite not being completely accurate.

You are putting your faith in those humans and yet there are many other religious books written by humans who you have no faith in, but have just as much logical credibility (they claim to be touched by God, and millions/billions of people believe them). Why do you have absolute faith that Athanasius of Alexandria got everything exactly right over 350 years after Christ’s death, but think Mohhamed, or Joseph Smith, or Guru Nanak was either, delusional, misinterpreting their experiences or outright deceptive? You are kidding yourself if you think faith in God doesn’t include faith in “fallible humans.”

I’m not saying Atheists/Theists are wrong/right, but I think you’re mischaracterizing the logical leaps being made on both sides of the fence.

More to the original question, I found Buddhist philosophy to be interesting, even though I ultimately disagree with the whole detachment mindset (although I do think being less materialistic is a very healthy thing).

Shippy's avatar

I loved @RandomGirl s answer. I don’t have the patience to analyse or write so much. But for me too that pretty much sums up my view point. I respect any belief or philosophy. But it does not mean I own it. I also do not try to pick fault in a persons belief. Just for me putting faith in human beings is not realistic. Humans let one down, they die, they expire, they move on, they lie to us, cheat on us. Not all but most. Can I put faith in me, myself? No, I am bipolar I also fallible to myself. So I need a perfect image being or entity that is better than me. Wiser than me. That is eternal. A being that offers peace (in my tumultic mind) that surpasses all understanding. I studied the social sciences, I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I shall hold on to that which brings me peace. Even if I cannot explain it. I also have no desire to explain it. As I trust all people are where they are meant to be. Or have chosen to be. So for me its none of my business. I wish I cared enough to try and shove my beliefs onto people I am sorry I just don’t!

Seek's avatar

I’ll write more when I’m not on my phone, but I have to say… ‘Answers in Genesis’? Seriously?

For future reference, that is the one source I’ll allow you to never cite, if you plan on your words being taken seriously.

I’ve said before that I respect Wicca and other pantheist religions. Mostly because even though they’re still patently wrong,the followers of these faiths
Aren’t mucking about trying to get random people at the mall to join their covens, or petitioning for the moon goddess creation story to supplant science classes. They generally wait until their kids are grown before introducing them to the religion and let them choose their own paths. And ultimately, if you remove the supernatural aspect from Wicca, you’re left with a group of tree huggers who light candles occasionally, and their one commandment: an harm ye none, do as ye will. I can find no fault with that, beyond personal delusion. And people have the right to delude themselves, as long ad they’re not bringing others into it.

Shippy's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I can see USA is a very different culture. Here everyone is out for themselves. No one would do that at a Mall for sure. No one actually gives a shit. I wish people did actually.

Elm1969's avatar

@gorillapaws I share your view that it was indeed man that created the first books and scriptures. These men, I imagine, must have been educated and had some wealth in order to have writing implements at their disposal and the ability to put them to use.

They would have complete control of the books/scriptures’ content.

I don’t think that the human race has changed in the way that it report current events.
Huge, wealthy newspaper companies still produce news of their own views.

Luckily we are here to verify in some kind of way their reports.

I don’t think that todays news is much different to the past. I just think that the readers of today are equally as educated, if not more than the writters, and can address what appears to be questionable.

JLeslie's avatar

@whitenoise I am going to assume @RandomGirl ia an evangelical Christian in America and that is why she thinks that. They often preach here, litterally the ministers during church services, even weddings, that Christians are persecuted and that in America it has become unpopular and politically incorrect to be a Christian. Drives me crazy that the heads of these churches are putting this idea in their heads. They talk, even beleve, they are a minority and everyone hates them.

But, that is just a guess, we will see what she says.

@trailsillustrated Me too, I don’t get why people hate the Mormons so much. All my friends who are Mormon are some of the nicest people I know. I have Catholic friends who say the Mormon belief is just ridiculous. Well, to me there is ridiculousness inost religions, so who am I to pick and choose what is more ridiculous?

jca's avatar

I respect everyone’s religion and personal philosophy. As long as nobody tries to preach to me or convert me, I’m ok with whatever people believe.

AdamF's avatar

If a philosophical or religious position was deserving of respect, I’d like to think I’d already agree with it.

Presumably the disagreement would arise from that position conflicting with available evidence, being unsubstantiated by evidence or reason, or by being immoral. In which case, I’d hardly find myself respecting such a position.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@jca Same here. Respect is the key word for me in any discussion.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca But for some a big part of their philosophy is to spread the word.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@jca You nailed it. I’ll respect anyone’s views as long as they let me have mine and don’t try to convert me.

RandomGirl's avatar

Everyone here: I’ll respect you, and I won’t try to shove anything down your throat. But at the same time, my faith has made my life worth living. I feel like I have an amazing gift, and I know other people feel the same way. Do you really expect me to keep this to myself? It’s your loss if you won’t listen to me, but after seeing Christ change so many people’s lives (including my own), I can’t help but share the good news.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@RandomGirl Interesting. But I have a tremendously strong faith, in myself, not anything else. I get frustrated at times, but I like what I believe in. It feels right to me.

JLeslie's avatar

@RandomGirl I challenge the idea that it is simply it had has helped you in your life and you want to talk about it. Your faith I am guessing emphasizes telling other people. You are told to do it. You probably sit in church and people tell stories of how they resisted God and going to church and finally someone convinved them to go to church and then their life changed. The message is; keep bugging peope to come to our church. I know you think you are helping them, maybe it does help some people, but real respect for other people’s beliefs would be not trying to convince them your way is the best way.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@RandomGirl How can you respect people who constantly attack and belittle Christ and all His followers, and the Bible, Priests and anyting to do with religion? It is difficult for me, I’ll admit.

JLeslie's avatar

@KNOWITALL People who simply say keep your religion to yourself; are they belittling Christ?

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie Not in my opinion, no.

RandomGirl's avatar

@JLeslie No, I don’t sit in church and listen to the pastor talk about how we need to be recruiting people. The churches that have evangelism as their main purpose, while they have good intentions, rub me the wrong way. Those churches are the ones I have a feeling you’ve come in contact with, and you think all churches must be like that. (Which is a reasonable and sad conclusion.) I sit in church and learn and discuss the Bible, and how I can apply it to my life. My church is very education-oriented. “Real respect for other people’s beliefs would be not trying to convince them your way is the best way.” I don’t shove it down anyone’s throat. I don’t really even bring it up all that often in my day-to-day life at work or with my non-Christian friends. All I do is to live a life that makes people wonder, “She’s got something I don’t have. I wonder…” and then when people ask questions, I answer them. It isn’t hard to do.

@KNOWITALL: It’s been a learning curve for me. There was a time when I bristled at the mention of atheists or the “Freedom From Religion” people or anything like that. But I’ve learned that we all have to decide one thing: Whether to take the Bible at its word, or people at their word. It’s a hard decision to make, and sometimes people take the other path. I, personally, just can’t imagine a life without Christ. Maybe it’s just me. I honestly feel sorry for them, because I can only imagine how many times they must have rejected Christ. Other people might have a hard time understanding why I feel this way.

JLeslie's avatar

@KNOWITALL In that case, I would agree it is hard to respect people who belittle my beliefs or assume things about me because of my beliefs.

JLeslie's avatar

@RandomGirl I don’t think all churches do that. But, what you wrote led me to believe yours did. Someone asking you about your beliefs is totally different than you bringing up your beliefs when not solicited.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie @RandomGirl What really gets to me is like the Q’s joking about the Pope, or dumb jokes in a serious Q about religion.

I was taught that class was about making other people feel comfortable so I would never mock a tree worshipper any more than I would mock a Satan-worshipper or anything that was important to another person, it’s just not polite. Different strokes for different folks I guess.

Seek's avatar

@RandomGirl I used to believe people looked at me and wondered “What does that girl have that I don’t?” and wished they knew what I knew. Turns out, they just thought I was a self-righteous snob. Which I was.

burntbonez's avatar

I respect people for the struggles they face, if not for how they face them. I respect people for trying to cope with trouble, although I may think their specific coping techniques are not very effective.

jca's avatar

@JLeslie: On the few occasions that people have tried to preach to me, I usually listen to them and if they go on, or try to convert me, I tell them politely that I’m not interested, and that I have my own religion.

YARNLADY's avatar

My answer to the original question: I do not believe there is such a thing as evil or absolute good/bad. These are human constructs to describe undesirable behavior. I do respect people who subscribe to the theory that there are some ethical concepts that are Universal.

I just found this quote: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” —Daniel Patrick Moynihan

bolwerk's avatar

Religious “philosophy” is mostly a historical curiosity, as most religious claims can’t survive even superficial examination. Much of western theology – arguably, the most theological of theology – exists because intelligent medieval Christians detected the absurdities (e.g., Christ’s nature, and why his sacrifice on the cross somehow brought salvation) of their own professed beliefs, and had to rationalize them. Modern fundamentalism, in a way, can be defined as the refusal to even bother doing that. Positions like @RandomGirl‘s don’t hold up to intellectual scrutiny at all. The idea of a loving, omnipotent God simply raises more moral issues than it solves answers. If there is a God and it’s a loving being, it sure is bumbling – if it’s omnipotent, it becomes a monster by the professed ethics of most of the “civilized” world. God, in short, philosophically isn’t much of an answer to most philosophical questions.

In theory, I respect the ideology known as conservatism, though I don’t really agree with it. Like its cousin communism, however, it never really worked except on paper. Self-identified conservatives often segue toward gross forms of authoritarianism or even totalitarianism – ceasing to be conservative in the process.

fundevogel's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr “I used to believe people looked at me and wondered “What does that girl have that I don’t?” and wished they knew what I knew. Turns out, they just thought I was a self-righteous snob. Which I was.”

I remember that nuggat. I wonder if anyone ever wonders that though, about anyone, let alone asks it. On occasion I’ve had people ask me how I got smart (super flattering) and a lot more ask where I get my hair cut (flattering and less awkward) but I’ve never heard anyone ask anyone else about their spiritual je ne sais quoi.

antimatter's avatar

One thing about Christianity I do not agree on is that the world was created in six days.
It is not possible, we all knot that the world is billions of years old.
I don’t think the great flood was remotely possible, it’s simply impossible to fit all those animals in the ark. And it’s genetically impossible that only a few humans could make 9 billion people.
I don’t agree on the fact that a loving God that is so powerful and so perfect that he send his son Jesus to sort out sinners.

Rarebear's avatar

@antimatter actually about 70,000 years ago, Homo sapiens were reduced to 1000–10000 breeding pairs (estimates vary based upon genetic evidence).

antimatter's avatar

@Rarebear I did not know that, where did you find that information?

SavoirFaire's avatar

Platonism is the one that comes to mind for me. Plato was an excellent philosopher, and my disagreement with him on most issues does not blind me to this fact. Indeed, I think many of his arguments for what would have to be true given certain premises are spot on. It’s just that many of the premises turn out to be false.

Moreover, Plato mapped out the intellectual landscape in quite a bit of detail for many important issues and highlighted the pitfalls anyone wishing to disagree with him must avoid. He often had good reason for believing what he did, even if we now have reason to think otherwise. Plus, he wasn’t afraid to change his mind or draw attention to where even his most treasured arguments had holes.

DancingMind's avatar

I respect, generally, beliefs that do not cause others harm. This includes most in the religion-et-cetera category, like many have discussed above.

I respect people who have/had children, particularly those who made the decision carefully and lovingly. I will not be having any myself, for reasons that are difficult to articulate.

I respect those who choose to eat certain foods I won’t, wear certain clothes I won’t, on and on—the more material-existence decisions.

I respect those who smoke, do drugs, (it’s their choice,) so long as they respect my wish not to, enough to not exhale into air I’m immediately to inhale.

I respect those who use Google, although I prefer Bing

Unbroken's avatar

My that was interesting reading. What a lovely discussion.

My own approach on the matter is I endeavor to act respectful of people in general.

There are a few people past and present that I have come to respect in spite of differing philosophical, religious, or life choices.

Some of them I may not understand. And will usually be curious about them. That does not necessarily mean I want to learn more so I can be converted.

LostInParadise's avatar

There are aspects of Buddhism that I find appealing. There is an emphasis on being mindful and living in the moment. As someone who tends to get caught up in abstractions, this is good advice. I find that 20 to 30 minutes of meditation in the morning is a good way to start the day. There is also something to be said for the idea that suffering comes from attachment to the ephemeral.

On the other hand, I do not much care for the idea of reincarnation found, for example, in Tibetan Buddhism, particularly the idea that life is unpleasant and that one’s goal should be to end the reincarnation cycle. I also do not much like that there are relatively few Buddhist charitable organizations. The advice many Buddhists give to end suffering is to convert to Buddhism.

AdamF's avatar

I find it interesting that some commenters don’t seem to distinguish between respect for other people’s right to hold a differing belief/philosophy, and respect for the philosophical/religious position itself (which seems to be the question being asked?).

To be honest I don’t actually understand what it means to respect a belief I disagree with? In such cases, what exactly is one respecting?

ETpro's avatar

@AdamF I agree. But I further have a problem respecting people who hold beliefs that are patently absurd, and rife with logical contradictions. To claim that one respects all beliefs equally, in my opinion, demeans the meaning of respect till it has no meaning beyond that of preserving and respecting life, itself. In that sense, I respect all living things, and all that have lived; but hey, I eat some of them. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

AdamF's avatar

Agreed. I don’t respect people who hold ridiculous or dangerous beliefs, just their underlying human right to do so (ie freedom of conscience, etc.).

I think there is a pervasive and naive belief that there is something virtuous about showing respect for everyone’s beliefs. Frankly I find such “tolerance” indistinguishable from apathy.

Seek's avatar

@AdamF – I don’t ‘believe in belief’ as it were. I believe in knowledge. I believe in evidence, I believe in truth.

If you want to hold a belief that is patently, testably false, that is your prerogative, and I can’t be arsed to care. But when that belief leaves ‘you’ and starts preying on the mind and lives of others, including children not yet of an age to think critically, I start caring.

And I think saying I ‘respect’ Wicca is a little strong. More accurately, I willingly tolerate Wicca, and it is low on my list of religions to actively discourage.

AdamF's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Absolutely.

It makes perfect sense to prioritize ones emotional or active investment in challenging ridicuous and harmful beliefs. Homeopathy can be dangerously stupid, but it doesn’t deserve the priority that challenging the claim that ‘condoms contribute to AIDS’ deserves. Likewise, some religions are more pervasively harmful than others.

that said..if homeopathy really gives someone the shits, hats off to them for taking it on. Any effort to drag more of society into the light of rationality has gotta be a good thing..

Seek's avatar

@AdamF I find that it often takes little more than a single conversation to turn someone off of homeopathy, unless they’re hardcore.

I was introduced to homeopathy while in a religious identity crisis, and heavily pregnant. Suffice it to say that the Pulsatilla homeopathic treatment did not, indeed, help to position my son in a more birth-friendly place. He still got stuck. Nor did massage, burning sage leaves, or meditation help to bring on active labour. And the place had probability on their side – I was two weeks post-dates. I was bound to go into labour at some point. Nope.

So… I still find herbal medicine to be valid to an extent (I’ll drink a cup of chamomile tea before taking an Ambien, for instance), but homeopathy is for people who don’t actually care whether they get better. Or, you know, don’t mind paying out the nose for exactly 0% of an active ingredient.

AdamF's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I have no problem with herbal medicine when broadly defined, for the simple reason that plants contain biologically active compounds that can have wonderful medicinal benefit. Taxol, cyclosporin, and of course asprin..all come to mind.

The only obvious caveat being:

“You know what they call alternative medicine that’s been proved to work?....Medicine.” Tim Minchin

ETpro's avatar

@AdamF & @Seek_Kolinahr This short video from Penn Jillette gets at the heart of why that sort of “All paths are true” tolerance is actually condescending.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@AdamF I am not part of the “all paths are true” crowd. Indeed, it seems to me that it must be impossible to be part of both the “all paths are true” crowd and the “I respect but disagree with X” crowd. When I say that I respect but disagree with Platonism, I am saying that I think Platonism is false. Thus it cannot be the impulse behind “all paths are true.” There the idea is something more like “I respect X, but it’s not for me.”

When I say that I respect Platonism, I don’t mean just that I respect the rights of others to be Platonists. I respect the rights of others to join the Westboro Baptist Church insofar as I do not think anyone should be forcibly prevented from doing so, but I certainly do not respect what the church stands for or the people who join it.

So what do I mean when I say that I respect Platonism, despite the fact that I think it false? I mean that I can understand why an intelligent person might think it is true. I mean that the arguments that can be offered in its favor are reasonably impressive, even if they are not—for me, at least—persuasive. I mean that I admire the ingenuity that went into devising the system.

Platonism is an impressive piece of intellectual work. This is especially true given the information Plato had to work with, but remains the case without such considerations. It is philosophically deep, and has the resources for responding to many seemingly fatal objections. Plato was even good enough to highlight for us all the places where he himself thought there was reason for doubt. Quite respectable.

ETpro's avatar

@SavoirFaire That’s exactly what I was trying to express, and what I think Penn Jillett was saying. As he noted, he thinks solipsists are wrong. But he freely admits that he cannot falsify their claims, and that a reasonable person might thoughtfully come to the conclusion that solipsism is true.

AdamF's avatar

@SavoirFaire Thanks for the clarification. So I guess we differ in where we draw the line at what aspects of a philosophy/religion we’re talking about when we discuss respect.

You seem to include what I would see as peripheries; historical context, intricacies, effort, etc. all things that I too can respect (so in that regard we agree). But personally I see it as useful to distinguish between those aspects and the philosophy/religion itself.

For me it’s the concept alone that I am evaluating; and if a philosophical/religious position lacks supportive evidence, reasoning, or empathy, I personally wouldn’t say that I respect it. (defining respect as deferential regard for, admiration, holding in high esteem, or appreciation).

The only thing I would add is that many intelligent people believe nonsense. The brightest among us are capable of falling for group think, wishful thinking, confirmation bias… So I actually don’t see how an “intelligent person might think it is true” is any kind of a real or useful threshold for identifying a respectable philosophical/religious position.

Either the position is justifiable by evidence, reasoning etc.. or it isn’t.

If not, I see no reason to pay it the honor of respecting it.

Actually…when I look over the definition of respect, I don’t think even claims that are likely to be true should be respected.

I don’t want any philosophy/religion to be respected. I want them to be challenged. And frankly I think the concept of respect has the capacity to be in opposition to that principle.

We don’t approximate truths by holding ideas in high regard, we get there by beating the shit out of ideas and seeing what remains unscathed.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@AdamF There are still Platonists. Indeed, I have a colleague who is one. And please note where I explicitly stated that historical context is unnecessary for my respect in this case. I find it odd, though, that you think one can evaluate an idea without regard to its intricacies—particularly given that “intricacies” is just your gloss for what I called “arguments that can be given in its favor or to defend against objections.” Few ideas—if any—can be evaluated purely on the basis of a thesis statement. Intellectual rigor requires us to go deeper.

I would also reject the notions that respect involves deference and that challenging an idea is not a form of respect. The proper response to someone who is flatly mistaken is correction: provide the relevant information that explains their error, and move on (in the understanding that the truly deluded are often beyond help). Attempting to engage in reasoned discourse, on the other hand, says, “I believe you are an intelligent and reasonable person, and I wish to see the best case that can be made for these beliefs that I do not hold.”

Finally, I don’t see what is gained by saying that a position is either justifiable by evidence and reasoning or it isn’t. The statement is surely true—indeed, trivially so—as it is an instance of the law of the excluded middle. But what does it tell us? Reasoning and evidence are not infallible. It is often the case that more than one position can be justified on the basis of the reasons and evidence we have available. That something fails, however, is not itself reason to withhold respect from it.

My brother once trained for a marathon, determined to win first place his first time competing. In the end, he came in third. That’s still a remarkable achievement for one’s first attempt, however, so I see no reason to withhold respect merely because he fell short of his goal. Perhaps you will object that athletic achievements are not comparable to academic ones, but I see no reason to force a normative distinction into place here. Indeed, it seems unnecessarily combative and suspiciously defensive to withhold respect from an idea merely because one disagrees with it—as if our beliefs are so sacred that no rival could ever be worthy of anything but scorn.

AdamF's avatar

@SavoirFaire “There are still Platonists. Indeed, I have a colleague who is one.”

I take it that’s just an interesting aside.

“I find it odd, though, that you think one can evaluate an idea without regard to its intricacies—particularly given that “intricacies” is just your gloss for what I called “arguments that can be given in its favor or to defend against objections.”

It’s only “odd” and “gloss” if you define it to make it so. By intricacies I was referring to respect for an idea based on issues I see as peripheral to its validity, not those “arguments that can be given in its favor or to defend against objections”.

“Few ideas—if any—can be evaluated purely on the basis of a thesis statement. Intellectual rigor requires us to go deeper.”

Sure, go deeper.

“I would also reject the notions that respect involves deference and that challenging an idea is not a form of respect.”

Fair enough. But deference is part of dictionary definitions of respect. And regardless of what you define as respect, or whether you agree with dictionary definitions, it makes sense for me to be clear about what definition I’m using.

That said, if you define challenging an idea as part of respecting it, then great.

“The proper response to someone who is flatly mistaken is correction: provide the relevant information that explains their error, and move on (in the understanding that the truly deluded are often beyond help). Attempting to engage in reasoned discourse, on the other hand, says, “I believe you are an intelligent and reasonable person, and I wish to see the best case that can be made for these beliefs that I do not hold.”

I agree with all that, but I guess I need to restate the point I made earlier that we need to distinguish between respect for the idea itself, and the people who adhere to those ideas. I’m not responding to anyone, nor am I engaging in discourse, when deciding not to respect an idea.

“Finally, I don’t see what is gained by saying that a position is either justifiable by evidence and reasoning or it isn’t. The statement is surely true—indeed, trivially so—as it is an instance of the law of the excluded middle. But what does it tell us? “

Well it tells me whether I agree with the idea or not, and thus whether I respect it. It seemed kind of relevant at the time, considering the discussion topic. =)

“Reasoning and evidence are not infallible.”

Never said it was.

“It is often the case that more than one position can be justified on the basis of the reasons and evidence we have available.”

Yupp.

“That something fails, however, is not itself reason to withhold respect from it.”

You’re more than welcome to respect ideas that fail. I just happen not to.

“My brother once trained for a marathon, determined to win first place his first time competing. In the end, he came in third. That’s still a remarkable achievement for one’s first attempt, however, so I see no reason to withhold respect merely because he fell short of his goal.”

Of course not, and you’re switching back to people again.

“Perhaps you will object that athletic achievements are not comparable to academic ones, but I see no reason to force a normative distinction into place here.”

Actually my objection was with the switching between people and concepts…and trying to see the relevance.

“Indeed, it seems unnecessarily combative and suspiciously defensive to withhold respect from an idea merely because one disagrees with it—“

=) Then don’t. It obviously doesn’t agree with you. But it just so happens to matter to me whether I think an idea is justified or not. So if I disagree with the idea, I fail to see for what possible reason I would respect it.

Being deep and sophisticated and wrong, is still wrong…it’s just wrong with sugar on top.

“as if our beliefs are so sacred that no rival could ever be worthy of anything but scorn.”

Or not; there are other options you know.

LostInParadise's avatar

I have been following with interest the discussion between you two guys. I have two points I would like to make.

Firstly, especially in philosophy, you can make a major contribution by asking an important new question. Plato’s great question is, “What are ideas and how do they relate to everything else?” You may not like Plato’s answer, but you have to admit it is one heck of a great question, which can still spark much debate.

Secondly, among philosophers of mathematics there is a division between Platonists and non-Platonists. Nobody quite knows what to make of mathematics. Is it discovered or invented? If it is invented, how is is that so many mathematical theories predate scientific discoveries to which they can be applied? The physicist Eugene Wigner famously talked about the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther