T Nation

Skepticism

I have run across a lot of self described skeptics on this here forum. There is only one tiny problem I have noticed. Most of them don’t realize that skepticism cuts both ways. You cannot just be skeptical of the things you don’t like, you have to be skeptical of the things you hold near and dear as well. Otherwise, how do you know your right? Somebody else being wrong in no way means you are right.

It’s easy to point out other people’s flaws or see things wrong in the beliefs of others, but if you don’t question yourself, you don’t really know shit. That’s the inherent flaw I see when I look at people’s arguments, they did a lot of work finding out what’s wrong with the other side, but they have no idea if they are right or not, because they did not apply the same scrutiny to themselves or their beliefs. You know who you are… :slight_smile:

Discuss, or not. It’s up to you.

I am guilty of that at times. I’m aware that your Deism ends at what you feel is the necessary existence of a Creator, but I’m curious to know why it ends there. What in your eyes are the inherent problems in freethinking philosophies (Deism, Pantheism, Pandeism, Agnosticism) that Catholicism (Or Christianity in general) addresses adequately? I apologize if this is off topic.

I am going to humbly assert that I have thousands of posts that are not susceptible to this criticism Pat. Skepticism has been one of my main targets AND I have spent I don’t know how many untold numbers of hours constructing the best defense of the system of thought I hold that I am currently capable of.

[quote]Tiribulus wrote:
I am going to humbly assert that I have thousands of posts that are not susceptible to this criticism Pat. Skepticism has been one of my main targets AND I have spent I don’t know how many untold numbers of hours constructing the best defense of the system of thought I hold that I am currently capable of.[/quote]

You most certainly do have a gift for looking at your own system of belief through others eyes and that’s why I think it’s so consistent.

So how do you do it?

Fletch YOU have a gift for asking seemingly simple, innocent questions that require tons of thought on my part. Thank you btw. I’ll have to think about how to answer this properly. For now. I argue all sides of any debate I participate in with myself first. Jealously defending my opponents positions TO myself as if they were my own before uttering a word to him. I have intellectual rules and tools that I’ve learned over the years.

[quote]Legionary wrote:
I am guilty of that at times. I’m aware that your Deism ends at what you feel is the necessary existence of a Creator, but I’m curious to know why it ends there. What in your eyes are the inherent problems in freethinking philosophies (Deism, Pantheism, Pandeism, Agnosticism) that Catholicism (Or Christianity in general) addresses adequately? I apologize if this is off topic.[/quote]

It is a bit off topic. So I really don’t want to spend a whole lot of time on it in fear of derailing it. First of all, there is no such thing as a ‘freethinking’ philosophy because as soon as you impose limits, it loses it’s ‘freedom’ they are all constricting. Each philosophical system as a standalone, has some merit. It always starts with casual obeservation and draws conclusions based on that. But what most do, is answer only some questions while negating others.
For instance, you mention Deism. While deism does give due credence to causation and it’s inevitable end (or begining, depending on how you look at it) it ignores will and more importantly, freewill. So it answers the cosmological question, but does not answer how will plays into it.
Or Pantheism, that this idea is that God is in everything and that everything is God, is not totally without merit. It makes some good observations, but it does not explain static metaphysical laws that control everything. In fact that there is a dualism in physical reality, there is the physical thing and then there are the laws or rules that control it, that the physical thing cannot violate.
Or the much maligned ‘moral relativism’ that I am trashing in another thread. Relativism, accounts for the fact that man imposes rules in the guise of moral law, but it does not take in to account the core of morality. It also fails to recognize that man imposed moral law is loosely tethered to the natural moral law which is static. For instance, as some believe in society that scantily clad women is immoral. That may or may not be true, but it’s tether is in sexual immorality, which is hurtful to people. The tether works something like this… Scantily clad women peak sexual interest, this sexual interest may take you dark places like adultery or other heinous sexual acts. Now, that may or may not be true, but the tether to the natural law is there.
What I am saying is no single system alone is complete. To say “I am a deist” or “I am an agnostic” without regard for that fact that those philosophies alone do not answer all the questions, is a limited and incorrect view of reality as a whole.

Catholicism, is a religion. While, like all religions, is based in a philosophical precept, is not a philosophy. Religion is a means by which to have a relationship with the Creator. They may be right or wrong in their ideas and methodologies, but they are not alone philosophies, but they are based on them. All things are based in philosophy.

And I don’t mean that all people have not given thought to everything and that all ‘skeptics’ are one sided in the skepticism. But many are, I see it all the time. In that they are able to criticize another’s argument, but incapable of proving their own points.

Nietzsche was right about the need to “philosophize with a hammer”.
but too many people do that with a warhammer.

Hammer probes are more useful.

[quote]kamui wrote:
Nietzsche was right about the need to “philosophize with a hammer”.
but too many people do that with a warhammer.

Hammer probes are more useful.

[/quote]

Probes?

this kind of hammer :
http://www.etdinc.ca/sites/default/files/imagecache/gallery_image/products/Ryodoraku-hammer.jpg

or this one :

In other words : skepticism should be used to find structural weaknesses. First and foremost.

[quote]kamui wrote:
this kind of hammer :
http://www.etdinc.ca/sites/default/files/imagecache/gallery_image/products/Ryodoraku-hammer.jpg

or this one :

In other words : skepticism should be used to find structural weaknesses. First and foremost.

[/quote]

Ouch!
and, precisely…

[quote]Tiribulus wrote:
Fletch YOU have a gift for asking seemingly simple, innocent questions that require tons of thought on my part. Thank you btw. I’ll have to think about how to answer this properly. For now. I argue all sides of any debate I participate in with myself first. Jealously defending my opponents positions TO myself as if they were my own before uttering a word to him. I have intellectual rules and tools that I’ve learned over the years. [/quote]

Some of my professors have hated it and others loved it lol. Now… if only I knew more answers. But maybe not because for every answer I have, I have a dozen more questions. It’s like the more I know the dumber I feel.

Well it shows you have an active mind, which is certainly no vice. Lemme ask you to clarify what you mean by “looking at your own system of belief through others eyes” before I answer what you don’t mean.

Oh sure. You seem know exactly what criticisms or questions concerning your worldviews are. Even when discussing these types of things with Kamui who is trained in this type of thing, I get the feeling you know where the stalemate is and where things will eventually wind down to.

I hope that clafifys what I said and didn’t just muddle it more.

[quote]Fletch1986 wrote:
Oh sure. You seem know exactly what criticisms or questions concerning your worldviews are. Even when discussing these types of things with Kamui who is trained in this type of thing, I get the feeling you know where the stalemate is and where things will eventually wind down to.

I hope that clafifys what I said and didn’t just muddle it more. [/quote]Here are some key to my method of debate.
Above all else seek to glorify God and not myself.

  1. Be absolutely persuaded of the truth of the position/propositions you are defending. And therefore…

  2. Be absolutely versed, prepared and expert in the position/propositions you are defending. OR…

  3. Be no more dogmatic in your defense than you are confident in the strength of your position/propositions.

  4. In the case of my system of belief, what specifically the attacking system holds is not really all that important so not being a human geneticist or astrophysicist is not a liability. The educational status of my opponent is not an advantage to them and in many cases is actually a hindrance due to the nature of both my system itself and the method required by that system for it’s own defense. All the way up the scale from ignorant to erudite I approach every opponent basically the same.

  5. Master every conceivable attack upon my own system by genuinely pretending to be the most unstoppably formidable opponent I could ever meet and arguing as if them against my own system. Which leads me to…

  6. Never underestimate an opponent and assume and treat him as if he were ten times more capable than myself even though it doesn’t matter if he is or not. At this late date The attack, as I say, is always the same. however clumsy mistakes are avoided when assuming my opponent is far superior to myself.

  7. Be very careful and deliberate in hearing my opponent’s representations of his position/propositions and answer only after I’m sure I understand. OR, ask him to explain in more detail so as not to carelessly misrepresent him and convey a dismissive or disrespectful attitude. (that needs work sometimes.)

  8. Don’t be too quick either to answer OR to divulge an observed vulnerability. Patience in the context of a debate is a virtue indeed.

^

I’m not going to lie. That sounds very time consuming. Does it become faster with practice?

Also, you’re responding to multiple people on multiple threads. How do you keep it all straight?

It’s actually routine with most people anymore to be honest. Theological debates are MUCH more time consuming. 99.5% of people I run across, even the highly educated ones, have never even one time considered the HOW and or WHY, that dictates the WHAT, of everything they believe. The inescapable epistemology that EVERYone unavoidably holds IS their key to everything indeed and they’ve never even realized it, nevermind actually tried to pursue it.

So, the discussion often goes pretty much nowhere because the people I’m talking to, while highly intelligent and very well educated have been literally schooled into an intellectual corner by whatever their discipline might me. They see everything in those terms and their self confidence derives from their own capability and expertise in that discipline. Try to lead them out of their house (discipline) to look at the foundation (which belongs to my God and therefore to me as his son and ambassador) and they won’t go.

Both because they can’t see that there is a foundation AND because intuitively KNOWING that there is, they don’t WANNA see it. It might force them to refurnish their house OR even build a new one. Of course building a new one in truth can only be done by God Himself. (See, you were willing to build a new one as long as YOU got to build it yourself. ;] )

Men like Kamui are exceptions. He HAS very thoroughly considered his foundation which changes this situation instantly. With someone who is as highly capable, highly educated AND who not only sees that there is a foundation, but enthusiastically pursues it’s definition, “time consuming” is the understatement of the year. Depth of thought and linguistic precision are paramount with someone like him and both accordingly take time. Other exceptions to varying degrees, include Groo, squating_bear, Cortes and the great Elder Forlife who has been both my vitriolic foe and unwitting ally. Sometimes in the same post.

Your respect is an honor Fletch and I’m always humbled, but I must confess that I DON’T always keep things straight, especially when it’s late and I’m tired. I also unintentionally leave people hanging far more than I’d like to which makes me feel guilty sometimes.

People I absolutely MUST eventually answer are, my brother JoabSonofZeruiah (captain of the armies of David), DrMatt and Mattyg35. I feel especially bad when someone like Mattyg35 surprises me by taking what I’m sure was a couple hours reading and writing and I don’t have the time to give the response that that effort deserves. I’m sorry Matty, if you see this man. Theological debates, taken seriously, are another ridiculous universe of time consuming research and response altogether.

[quote]Fletch1986 wrote:
But maybe not because for every answer I have, I have a dozen more questions. It’s like the more I know the dumber I feel. [/quote]

This is the curse of those that think and see. Someone who thinks they have it all figured out is never going to get past where they are. Someone who has to try and tell you how bright they are typically aren’t the brightest in the room.

As long as you keep this perspective, you will “make it” in what you choose to do.

[quote]countingbeans wrote:

[quote]Fletch1986 wrote:
But maybe not because for every answer I have, I have a dozen more questions. It’s like the more I know the dumber I feel. [/quote]

This is the curse of those that think and see. Someone who thinks they have it all figured out is never going to get past where they are. Someone who has to try and tell you how bright they are typically aren’t the brightest in the room.

As long as you keep this perspective, you will “make it” in what you choose to do.[/quote]

Well, I was only kinda kidding in my post. But yeah, I’m a total add knowledge whore when I have free time. I just keep looking stuff up, then get drawn to other thing related with the new questions I have. In academia, it’s been my best friend and worst nightmare at the same time.

[quote]Tiribulus wrote:
It’s actually routine with most people anymore to be honest. Theological debates are MUCH more time consuming. 99.5% of people I run across, even the highly educated ones, have never even one time considered the HOW and or WHY, that dictates the WHAT, of everything they believe. The inescapable epistemology that EVERYone unavoidably holds IS their key to everything indeed and they’ve never even realized it, nevermind actually tried to pursue it.

So, the discussion often goes pretty much nowhere because the people I’m talking to, while highly intelligent and very well educated have been literally schooled into an intellectual corner by whatever their discipline might me. They see everything in those terms and their self confidence derives from their own capability and expertise in that discipline. Try to lead them out of their house (discipline) to look at the foundation (which belongs to my God and therefore to me as his son and ambassador) and they won’t go.

Both because they can’t see that there is a foundation AND because intuitively KNOWING that there is, they don’t WANNA see it. It might force them to refurnish their house OR even build a new one. Of course building a new one in truth can only be done by God Himself. (See, you were willing to build a new one as long as YOU got to build it yourself. ;] )

Men like Kamui are exceptions. He HAS very thoroughly considered his foundation which changes this situation instantly. With someone who is as highly capable, highly educated AND who not only sees that there is a foundation, but enthusiastically pursues it’s definition, “time consuming” is the understatement of the year. Depth of thought and linguistic precision are paramount with someone like him and both accordingly take time. Other exceptions to varying degrees, include Groo, squating_bear, Cortes and the great Elder Forlife who has been both my vitriolic foe and unwitting ally. Sometimes in the same post.

Your respect is an honor Fletch and I’m always humbled, but I must confess that I DON’T always keep things straight, especially when it’s late and I’m tired. I also unintentionally leave people hanging far more than I’d like to which makes me feel guilty sometimes.

People I absolutely MUST eventually answer are, my brother JoabSonofZeruiah (captain of the armies of David), DrMatt and Mattyg35. I feel especially bad when someone like Mattyg35 surprises me by taking what I’m sure was a couple hours reading and writing and I don’t have the time to give the response that that effort deserves. I’m sorry Matty, if you see this man. Theological debates, taken seriously, are another ridiculous universe of time consuming research and response altogether. [/quote]

Well put. And your posts here have been so very highly relevant to the OP too now that I’ve taken a look at it again.

[quote]countingbeans wrote:

[quote]Fletch1986 wrote:
But maybe not because for every answer I have, I have a dozen more questions. It’s like the more I know the dumber I feel. [/quote]

This is the curse of those that think and see. Someone who thinks they have it all figured out is never going to get past where they are. Someone who has to try and tell you how bright they are typically aren’t the brightest in the room.

As long as you keep this perspective, you will “make it” in what you choose to do.[/quote]

Deep.