5/2/12 questions and discussion
1-is it better to be happy or to be healthy?5
2-should we enable people to drop out?6
3-is evolution entirely dependent upon greed or desire?2
4-why is/is not same sex marriage a good idea?5
why is it so hard to learn from ideas and people we find unlikeable?
Jon: although hard, I believe exposure to ideas, even people we find unpleasant, even vile, cam make us more useful and more alive. My favorite poet is the Austrian (?) Ranier Maria Rilke who wrote (methinks in his Letters to a Young Poet) -- I paraphrase -- perhaps it is the most monstrous parts of ourselves that need the most attention. I think this extends to the most monstrous parts of humanity as well as nature. Defining monstrous is relative, let's discuss our monsters, the people and the ideas we dislike the most, and how much we really understand them.
jeremy: is it possible to be too open minded?
Jon: yes but only if we aren't willing to be discerning. I don't expect to like monsters, but I do hope to understand them. What was that thing thar Patty Hearst did? Where she ended up identifying with her captures? Is that the Stockholm Syndrome?
Danny: there is no way we can be too open minded. People erroneously get the impression that their enemies own their knowledge. If we look at knowledge as universal it doesn't seem preposterous to listen to ideas I don't like, people I don't like. It's the difference between the "domesticated" ego and the spiritual mind. In order to find "the way" you have to look at all the ways (-- a paraphrase of Hagakure, a Samurai training text).
Jeremy: given that our lives grant us a limited amount of time, shouldn't we avoid the Star magazine?
Danny: it depends. We're trying to define ourselves; what god "whispered in our ears when we were born."
Mike T.: sometimes you don't find anything worth learning! I read a Rush Limbaugh book once, I've read Hitler's Mein Kampf. Limbaugh is completely dishonest. He presents truistic ideas as major topics -- things most everyone agrees on -- yet there under he wrote assaults on civil rights in the names of those topics. The major point is easily agreed to; the minor points are crazy. He's a "spin master." Reading Mein Kampf, I saw it as a person's pathology (Hitler's). All I got were trivial observations. One can be too open minded if one expects to find something good and meaningful in this stuff.
Mike M.: I am a conservative and don't listen to Limbaugh. I don't like bombastic showmen. I support the NRA but don't join because of their take on gun violence. I went to Jesuit school and we all hated our teachers but learned a great deal from all of them.
Sean: look up Al Qaeda on wikipedia: you get Islamist. Then look Islamist up, etc. This must be done in order to avoid calling them crazy, or stupid. Even if flawed, they have an argument. Identifying causes and family trees of ideas makes one not totally perplexed. Then one can understand -- at least intellectually -- why people would fly airplanes into buildings. The point: if you disagree with something/someone and don't attempt to understand them, you will suffer.
Art: if you don't like somebody does that mean you can't listen to them?
Jon: I recently read about a technique I've seen used in therapeutic settings before but was apparently an ancient device used by philosophers. The goal is for two people who disagree to debate constructively. The way it's done is that each participant is not allowed to present their idea/argument until they can convince their opponent that they fully understood what that opponent just said. Once accomplished, the next/opposing idea is presented and a response to thar isn't allowed until understanding is established, and so on.
Art: I have trouble with misogynistic philosophies talking about equal rights for men. There are whole cultures that make liberalizing claims with misogynistic premises. Muslim cultures/Sharia Law, for example.
Mike T.: it's hard for me if I don't have empathy for the other. If I don't have a context for walking in their shoes. Disrespect prevents me from getting what they're talking about. An example is Rick Santorum. There are a lot of people who don't think they'd do well in college, nor their children, and Santorum was speaking to them when he claimed Obama was a snob for wanting all children to go to college. Santorum is saying to them that the world of Barak Obama doesn't have a place for them. Usually I wouldn't do this. I wouldn't find a way to understand someone I don't respect like Santorum.
Eric: I'm a liberal who is driven crazy by other liberals. They're such whiners!
Danny: why does the whining bother you?
Eric: sometimes they're shooting themselves in the foot. Fairness about the 2000 presidential election, for example. They've spent far too much time bemoaning that event's unfairness and nowhere near enough time learning history and studying the US Constitution.
Danny: what would it take for two groups to work together?
Sean: the threat of what happens if they fail to come to terms.
Eric: the mindset of the liberals who whine is of being so involved in advocating their ideas they never think something bad could happen. A good idea is a good idea.
Danny: hypothetical question: who was the worst person ever? If that person invented the light bulb, would you use it?
Sean: the answer seems to be emotion; emotional intelligence.
Danny: is there any room for emotion in an intellectual conversation? I say no!
Mike M.: [to Jon, in response to the claim made to Jon by his brother-in-law that only one fact was necessary for his determination that Barak Obama was a bad president: "I hate the son-of-bitch!"] You and your brother-in-law could be coming from completely different perspectives. To have a thoroughly intellectual conversations one ought go to a court trial and avoid at all costs such conversations with relatives, especially over a meal! As to Rick Santorum; because I'm a conservative I get painted by other's with his nuttiness, as if I too were a nut.