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Old 28th May 2013, 11:58 AM   #3081
Dani
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
Belief in demons persists, in part, precisely because it is so wonderfully self-consistent, and consistent with observation, as a way of viewing the world.

Bad things happen because demons make them happen. God is good, so God didn't make them happen, so demons do.

People who don't believe in demons are themselves controlled by demons, or they wouldn't be trying to fool others into thinking that demons don't exist, thereby exposing them to possession by demons.

You can live your whole life under that rubric without ever encountering a contradiction.
While your last sentence is true, the fact that a person can believe in demons without ever encountering a contradiction doesn't mean that there wasn't ever a contradiction. In fact, we can see how the position that leads to belief in demons is far from the most consistent one. It just takes digging a little, epistemologically.

Step one: is there any conceivable explanation for why "bad things" (whatever they are, exactly) happen, other than "because demons make them happen"? The answer is, obviously, "yes".

Step two: among the different conceivable explanations for why these so called bad things happen, which one do we prefer, and on what grounds?

Here's where consistency enters the picture. Is there an intuitive reasoning tool at play when we're faced with different conceivable explanations for a same phenomenon? In fact, is there a limit to how many different explanations we can conceive for a same phenomenon? Why not fairies instead of demons? Why not my old right shoe from the 20th dimension?

As the saying goes, "if you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras". Of course, no one stops you from replying "why not Bruce Lee on a flying saucer coming right from the Sun?", but how many times are you going to be willing to discard the explanation that requires the least number of unwarranted assumptions, and on what grounds are you going to build a consistent way of choosing your preferred answer that allows you to safeguard belief in demons? "Demons" is a non-starter, epistemologically, for these reasons. That's why Occam's razor is a useful philosophical thinking tool, and why applying it consistently is... well, consistent, even if fallible.

Sure, you can say that someone can philosophically rationalize belief in demons. While this is trivially true, it's irrelevant to the question of whether we can philosophically determine which tools work and which don't. In fact, good philosophy can be ignored as easily as science if someone really wants to believe in demons or whatever other nonsense. The difference is that bad philosophy is still called "philosophy" while on the other hand, bad science is called "pseudoscience" (i.e., not really science). It may appear that, unlike with philosophy, invoking the name of science puts us in a safe place, only that it doesn't either, because even if the restrictions for what we can call "science" are much more severe, its borders are not that clear-cut, and because trust in science (let alone trust in the term "science") is not the same thing as science. We still have to work out if that stuff is good stuff some way or another.
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Old 29th May 2013, 05:10 PM   #3082
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annnnoid, that was very helpful, to bring it around to a home base, so to speak, that I can identify with.

And you know what, you've actually changed my mind. And I'm not being sarcastic, you have.

I've actually been wrong about this one.

You're right, what I wanted was wrong.

Thanks.

That feels better, actually.

I owe you one.

I imagine you've opened up opportunities for some wonderful reading over the next few years.
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Old 30th May 2013, 12:14 AM   #3083
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
OK, so let's have an answer to the question.

If philosophy can't itself determine which philosophical tools work and which don't, then what DOES determine that?
People determine that.

Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
Belief in demons is remarkably consistent.
The word demon can be substituted for people. It is people that do philosophy, know things, have understanding, do science and logic. These are all subjective objects in the minds of people.
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Old 31st May 2013, 03:00 AM   #3084
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Originally Posted by annnnoid View Post
To wit… you exposed the flaw in your own argument. Precisely what Dani was pointing out. The epistemic systems that you used in your post…and that everyone on this planet utilizes in every variety of thought process that occurs…rely on internal structures for consistency, coherence, and comprehension. The landscape of these internal structures are explored and examined through the lens of philosophy…and their conflicts exposed (to the degree that they can be).
Exactly, rationality etc, is something which happens in the subjective world. Indeed so is science, as without this subjective world to perform science both the processes involved in science and the understanding of what science is and does would be impossible.

Quote:
I think what annoys you…is that you want a rational system that is impregnable. Like science (this weighs that much and nothing else). You, of all people, should know (based on your experience with the political system), that human beings are not rational creatures. There is an alternate (and very legitimate) epistemology at work in human affairs. One that is far more powerful than our rational tendencies. Thus…we have folks who can quite comfortably believe in demons…and who can easily rationalize the situation. Partly because they are compelled by an alternate epistemology…partly because rationality disappears in its own understanding (IOW…rationality cannot understand itself). …and partly because rationality is only as rational as those who use it. What remains is a vocabulary of existence that precedes representation (which, if I recall, you appealed to quite successfully in your earlier political campaigns).
Yes nice point, existence precedes representation. Existence, whatever that is, precedes the subjective world of humans, which are a recently emerged produce thereof.

One of the first tasks of philosophy is to illuminate the mind of the thinker to the nature of his/her own (and therefore humanity's) limitations. Thus refraining from the confining of existence to the naive notions of human thought.
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