Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,875
Todd and Chuck,

I believe Helen is putting into words what some of the other readers of this message board are thinking. I was worried from the beginning about people having this response. That is why I have been encouraging you to do something different than what you have been doing so far.

I think there is an important set of philosophical implications in what has been happening, and I am glad that you have been posting, so that we can look more deeply into the phenomena involved.

Chuck, you and I have both written books. There is admittedly the difference involving the fact that yours are for sale and mine are free to everyone. But I am the atypical one in that regard. I don't see any problem in your making money off of your books. And I also do not see a problem with your making your books known to the world (google) by talking about them on message boards. Some message boards regard this as "spam," and react negatively. That is not my response.

But there appears to be a big difference between you and me, and between Todd and me. And I believe the difference is an important one, And with regard to this difference, I think I am perhaps the more abnormal one, though I do not know. What is that difference?

Okay, both of us have written books, so there is no difference there.

Both of us, it would seem, believe that what we have written is very accurate. No difference there.

Both of us believe that what we have written about is extremely important and of great value to our species. Again, no difference.

But the difference has to do with our beliefs about the above beliefs and with our expectations of others.

Now I will have to make an "educated" guess as to what is in your mind, recognizing that I could be wrong, and requesting, if I am wrong, that you let us know. By "educated" I mean only that what I am concluding is from my perception and interpretation of the evidence, namely, what you (and Todd) have so far posted (and is being reacted to by Helen and I would imagine others).

You are making the assumption that the strong feeling of certainty that you are experiencing about what you have written is evidence that you are indeed correct in what you have written. I, on the other hand, believe that that feeling of certainty that I also have is not good evidence that I am correct. If you make observations regarding differences of opinion among humans, you will see how often two (or more) people will have a difference of opinion such that if one is correct the other can't be (law of non-contradiction), and yet each of them has that feeling of certainty that they are correct. This is very clear evidence that that feeling of certainty is not a good criterion for determining correctness of belief.

So what would be better evidence? I think it would have to be conscientious, thorough exploration of the differences between those beliefs, with the effort to have as clear communication as possible (meaning using words the same way so that the incorrect illusion of agreement or disagreement is avoided), and with the effort to determine exactly at what point divergence of opinion occurs and what would be necessary to decide upon which belief was correct, or what other belief, different from those two, was correct. And this is what I have been encouraging you and Todd to engage in.

So that is my discussion of the first difference between us.

There is also the expectation of others as to how they should respond to what you and I have written.

There comes across a strong feeling (enunciated by Helen) that you are looking down upon and disapproving of others for not agreeing with you, even before they actually are understanding what you are saying. This would be taking what you are saying "on faith," that is, believing that you must be right simply because of how the words and phrases sound (often due to the use of familiar metaphor) and because of the confidence with which you offer them. This use of enigmatic language, the meaning of which cannot be grasped even though the words and phrases sound familiar, along with speaking with great confidence (as religious leaders are unusually good at), tends to induce in many a conviction that the speaker must be correct and that the listener must use the lack of comprehension as evidence of the listener’s inferiority to the speaker and therefore as evidence that it would be inappropriate to question or doubt the speaker. What results is belief as an act of obedience, the ultimate example of which is hypnosis. (Part of hypnotic induction includes making with great confidence statements that can’t be understood by the subject, disabeling thereby the critical function of the subject.)

Well, I do not have any such expectations of my listeners. I expect anything I write to be questioned by anyone, and I expect of myself to answer such questions if indeed I can understand the questions. And I always know that it may turn out that I am wrong (whereupon I will have benefited).

I note that Todd is an advocate of some variety of Christianity, and that he believes that a deity exists and is, I guess, somewhat like that portrayed at some points in the Bible. Our group is composed of a fair number of people who are non-theistic.

My observation is that when Christians learn that they are talking to “non-believers,” they currently just change the subject and/or walk away, and that is, of course, far better than during times when Christians tortured and killed such people, but it still is not, I believe, the very best way. This tendency to cut off communication is not limited to Christians, or even theists. My experience with Objectivists has been the same. I think that it is a fairly general phenomenon, but that we are, in at least Western culture, gradually moving in the direction of greater need to explore difference of opinion more deeply. The ultimate alternative is murder and war.

Several things Todd has said seem to imply that he has no need to question his own beliefs in response to the questioning of them by others. I hope that he sees our message board as a resource of a different kind, and that he will try to state things as clearly as possible, rather than using enigma. And I hope you will do the same.

So the above has been my current best attempt to put into words my understanding of what has been happening on our message board. And Helen, I hope this has been an adequate answer to your request that I offer a comment. I’m glad you are hanging in there and keeping us on our toes.
A former member
Post #: 14
There several points here that I would like to address. The least of which is that I was not invited and the most of which is that I have been properly chastised for breaching my own creed, "If you're not asked, don't offer." With that it mind I would offer my apologies to Bill and Helen. Philosophy has been a minor point for me, my main focus has been, and always will be, the human condition. It is to that end that I return. I do wish the group the best of luck and it has been a challenge, one that I appreciate.

Lastly, and at no charge, I've asked Todd to post my final essay on the essaysonorder.com web page. The title of the essay is, 'Why the Essays on Order'. I believe this essay will answer Bill's questions as to what I am about. It may take him a day or so to get it up there but it will be there. Bill you take care old son, it's been a pleasure.
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,877
Well, Chuck, I'm sorry to see you go. I did visit the website and read the last essay, explaining why you had written the essays. What I have interpreted what I read to mean is as follows:

The essays are essentially poems, consisting of metaphors and basically ambiguous statements, that can be interpreted in various ways. They are for parent and child primarily, but also for adults. The purpose of them is to promote discussion about important concepts and principles without the deterioration into hostile conflict, and this is because there is no obvious "right" way of interpreting what is written. So because the discussants cannot come to the conclusion as to who is "right," the distressing threat of turning out to be "wrong" is avoided, and thus a sense of defeat is avoided. So the essays are a tool to help people think more profoundly by virtue of discussion about something external to themselves and their relationship, and that is a valuable tool for parent and child especially, but really for anyone.

I think that if this were understood from the beginning, the responses of the group would have been different.

It is indeed an interesting issue, namely, how can we have discussion the purpose of which is to increase wisdom without stimulating the anger and hostility that seems to be generated by the awareness of difference of opinion. I believe this problem is highly related to the standard model of child rearing, in which the parental model for identification is one that entails the importance of always being right. ("Because I said so!" "Don't talk back!" "Are you questioning my judgement?" "Be quiet and listen to me!" "Go to your room until you are ready to listen!" "Do as I say or you'll be sorry.")

I see no reason why some of our topics could not be discussions of that nature, namely, our associations to ambiguous material, whether Chuck Bynum's essays or any other material that was for such a purpose. But I also think there is a place for analysis of difference of belief, in the effort to arrive at that which we can all (tentatively) agree to. I think that is much needed also. And that is an important part of Humanianity, having to do with the development of an effective, prosocial, shared basic ethical philosophy.
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,878
And now, Todd, you have left.

You have made some contributions, and I believe we have learned some things.

It is an unfortunate fact that when people have strongly held belief systems, they usually cannot engage in in-depth discussions with others about those ideas when the others have different belief systems or at least do not agree.

So we have a history of people walking away because their belief systems were challenged. This has included Objectivists, Christians, Gnostics, and now Chuck/Todd (Todd apparently being Christian).

I am sure that others have also walked away (or stayed away from the beginning).

I see this difficulty as being one of the most central difficulties of our species. And we have a history of not just walking away (or banning), but even murdering and going to war.

Is it possible that I am right that we are just beginning to undergo our third exponential change and will ultimately become (by virtue, in part, of a drastically different model of child rearing) strongly motivated to make sure that all beliefs that are important in decision-making are adequately challenged, and yet will have a substantial body of basic beliefs that we all agree to (i.e., the time of "Homo rationalis")? A time when life will be drastically different than it ever has been so far?
A former member
Post #: 31
And now, Todd, you have left.

You have made some contributions, and I believe we have learned some things.

It is an unfortunate fact that when people have strongly held belief systems, they usually cannot engage in in-depth discussions with others about those ideas when the others have different belief systems or at least do not agree.

So we have a history of people walking away because their belief systems were challenged. This has included Objectivists, Christians, Gnostics, and now Chuck/Todd (Todd apparently being Christian).

I am sure that others have also walked away (or stayed away from the beginning).

I see this difficulty as being one of the most central difficulties of our species. And we have a history of not just walking away (or banning), but even murdering and going to war.

Is it possible that I am right that we are just beginning to undergo our third exponential change and will ultimately become (by virtue, in part, of a drastically different model of child rearing) strongly motivated to make sure that all beliefs that are important in decision-making are adequately challenged, and yet will have a substantial body of basic beliefs that we all agree to (i.e., the time of "Homo rationalis")? A time when life will be drastically different than it ever has been so far?
My apologizes Bill. I am here and enjoy being a member of your discussion board group. I will eventually get the hang of Meetupsmile
A former member
Post #: 32
I also want to apologize to you and your members for any posting Chuck and I may have made if any found them offensive or impressive and in any way to sell a book. I would rather discuss philosophy on your forum to help me better understand what I know or what I think I know. You are entitled to an explanation and I will work on providing such. I will be more than happy to continue the discussion on infinity and follow your forums ethics.
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,879
Great, Todd! You're back! I really appreciate your continuing to contribute. I wish Chuck were willing to do so also, but I understand he has to have his priorities and he has already made quite an effort to participate (driving that long distance to come to a meeting being an impressive example).
A former member
Post #: 34
I will pass on your kind comments to Chucksmile
A former member
Post #: 1
I just passed on to Todd the biggest question of all and you and your book have no room in its answer. You have made a life out of the study of people and yet you know nothing, yes I mean nothing. Tell you what big guy, spring for the books, actually read something of worth and then get back to me. Am I dripping with smugness and superiority, well yes I am. In Billville you are the top dog, in Chuckville you are another tourist. Time to step up Bill, read what you don't know or just don't know. It's all good to me, and no this time I won't bail. I've determined that if I can just talk to you, I can talk to anyone. So the storm presses on, ignorance or knowledge, if you don't read the books, you only offer ignorance.

If you believe yourself above the books you are simply an educated dirtbag, let's dance....
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,898
Good to see you back, Chuck. So I sense a subtle implication of challenge in your presentation. That's good.

But I gather, perhaps erroneously (after all, what do I know?), that the books you want me to read are the ones you have written, that I can purchase from Amazon.com. I don't generally buy books unless there is a good reason. When I "looked inside," what I read did not seem like it was going to be meaningful to me. Also, the things that you have said so far have had almost no meaning.

I have the impression that you are purposely ambiguous and enigmatic. My effort is the exact opposite. I wish to be as clear as possible.

So we have some sort of standoff, where you say my only hope of getting out of my self-imposed (I gather?) ignorance is to read your books and become inducted into that small society of people who are right and know it. But in my self-imposed ignorance, I fail to have the motivation to buy the books.

But I agree that it will be self-improvement on your part to talk with me, and on my part to talk to you. And I treat my tourists well, I assure you.

Of course I do have a suggestion. We could each start out with some initial statements that we believe the other should be able to understand. You could read some of what I post and I could read some of what you post, and we could see whether there is evidence of intelligibility on the part of either of us. You could post the beginning of a synopsis or a first chapter, without charge. I have already done that with the Mind-Body Problem book. I could respond to what you present, and vice versa. And you could invite some people from Chuckville to offer their comments about our discussion, and maybe there will be a few people rattling around in Billville that might do the same. What do you think?

On another note, Todd was talking about the existence of "alphas," not to be confused with "alpha mega" (sic), and my impression is that you are an "alpha," using his terminology. I asked him about this, but he is (I am assuming, but then again, what do I know?) too busy trying to read my book on the mind-body problem, and has not answered yet. If you are an "alpha," then perhaps I should be more obedient. So I should find out.

Anyway, I hope the above double reverse double overspin is not to complicated a dance step for you and that my lead is sufficient.

Your educated dirtbag, waiting in grateful anticipation...

P.S. Don't suppose you could share with us that (secret?) super-question you asked Todd, could you?
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