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James Woolley
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Feb 12 2007 11:47
cantdocartwheel wrote:
Athiesm is inneffecably connected to progressive politics? What is this the 17th century? Just because someones athiest doesn't make them in the slightest bit 'progressive' whatever 'progressive' means in your book i don't know, to me it sounds supiciously liberal to me.

Well yeah. But then again bar Tolstoy find me an anarchist philosopher who wasn't against religion.

cantdocartwheels wrote:
The brights quite openly invoke the enlightenment, and i dislike bourgeois enlightenment rationalism, which is what their ideology pretty much is.

Please tell me what bourgeois enlightenment rationalism is. I suppose you're a hardcore medievalist who thinks that reason is wrong and stupid?
Why do you dislike it?

cantdocartwheels wrote:
A rather stupid reply, but anyway i'll appraoch it from another angle, in your opinion why do you think people still turn to religion ro continue in 'supersticious beleifs' in the UK or US?

Slavery to tradition? Fear of reality?

My reply wasn't stupid, it was merely pointing out that you had no basis whatsoever to your opinion that Dawkins does what he does exclusively for financial gain.

Just curious as to why you take such an anti-rationalist and anti-atheist stance, are you religious?

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cantdocartwheels
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Feb 12 2007 14:03
James Woolley wrote:
Well yeah. But then again bar Tolstoy find me an anarchist philosopher who wasn't against religion.

I wouldn't say Tolstoy wasn't an anarchist. Generally anarchism tends to be dogmatically athiest to the point of idiocy, much like bakunin.
However, among the broader elements of the radical end of the workers movement you'll find people with all sorts of religious beleifs. I suppose the IWW would be a classic example of where religious ideas and socialism walked hand in hand, what with father haggerty and all that.

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Please tell me what bourgeois enlightenment rationalism is.

The enlightenment was basically the idea that science would argue injustice out of existence. Since supposedly injustice only stemmed from religion and irrationality. Which of course is nonsense.

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cantdocartwheels wrote:
A rather stupid reply, but anyway i'll appraoch it from another angle, in your opinion why do you think people still turn to religion ro continue in 'supersticious beleifs' in the UK or US?

Slavery to tradition? Fear of reality?

You make going to church sound terrible lol what does secular liberalism have to offer thats so much better?

Quote:
My reply wasn't stupid, it was merely pointing out that you had no basis whatsoever to your opinion that Dawkins does what he does exclusively for financial gain.

I never said it was exclusively for financial gain and status i'm sure he beleives in his own shit to a certain degree aswell.

Quote:
Just curious as to why you take such an anti-rationalist and atheist stance, are you religious?

I'm not anti-rationalist, i just said i dislike bourgeois brands of rationalism. Such as that practiced by secular liberals like the brights or stalinists. And no while i'm not technically athiest in the sense of being a hardcore there-is-nothing-more-than-atoms-period type i'm not religious.

Steggsie
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Feb 12 2007 14:04
James Woolley wrote:
cantdocartwheel wrote:
Athiesm is inneffecably connected to progressive politics? What is this the 17th century? Just because someones athiest doesn't make them in the slightest bit 'progressive' whatever 'progressive' means in your book i don't know, to me it sounds supiciously liberal to me.

Well yeah. But then again bar Tolstoy find me an anarchist philosopher who wasn't against religion.

But there's surely a difference between liberal atheism and the anti-theism more characteristic of radical ideologies?

Also, 'bourgeois rationalism', while a crude shorthand, is meaningful in the sense of rationalism in the service of individualism and capitalism.

James Woolley
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Feb 12 2007 17:54
cantdocartwheels wrote:
I wouldn't say Tolstoy wasn't an anarchist.

I didn't say he wasn't an anarchist. I said he was an anarchist.

cantdocartwheels wrote:
Generally anarchism tends to be dogmatically athiest to the point of idiocy, much like bakunin.

But why is this idiotic? Bakunin and many others have made extremely perspicacious insights into how religion by its very nature is used to prevent freedom in all its aspects.

cantdocartwheels wrote:
However, among the broader elements of the radical end of the workers movement you'll find people with all sorts of religious beleifs. I suppose the IWW would be a classic example of where religious ideas and socialism walked hand in hand, what with father haggerty and all that.

That may be so but it doesn't make it any more valid. I don't know how they reconcile their religious beliefs with anarchism. Tolstoy basically had his own ideas about society, violence etc. and simply invoked religion to describe it or justify it without paying all too much attention to Christianity itself.

cantdocartwheels wrote:
The enlightenment was basically the idea that science would argue injustice out of existence. Since supposedly injustice only stemmed from religion and irrationality. Which of course is nonsense.

You mean science and reason - not just science
Well have you got a better idea? Are the Bible or the Qu'ran better moral codes?

There's no point in criticising something if you can't offer an alternative. That is the main flaw of the Foucaultlian criticism of the enlightenment - as well as surreptitiously using argument techniques derived from the enlightenment.

cantdocartwheels wrote:
you make going to church sound terrible lol what does secular liberalism have to offer thats so much better?

Freedom from superstition, more progress from the overwhelmingly conservative tendencies of religion. I mean, the main religions still follow a book written hundreds upon hundreds of years ago.

cantdocartwheels wrote:
I never said it was exclusively for financial gain and status i'm sure he beleives in his own shit to a certain degree aswell.

So how do you know Dawkins does it for the money any more than someone like Chomsky does it for the money?

cantdocartwheels wrote:
I'm not anti-rationalist, i just said i dislike bourgeois brands of rationalism. Such as that practiced by secular liberals like the brights or stalinists. And no while i'm not technically athiest in the sense of being a hardcore there-is-nothing-more-than-atoms-period type i'm not religious.

'Bourgeois brands of rationalism'? Subjectivism is incompatible with rationalism, so there can only be one 'type' of rationalism.
Some people are wrong and some people are right. Rationalism is an intellectual approach to problems. Some people may use the rationalist approach and come out with wrong conclusions. The advantage of rationalism is that these conclusions can be more easily proven fallacious.
Stalinists I do not think can be classed as rationalists - Stalinist Russia showed all the signs of a nation indoctrined with religion, i.e. extremely dogmatic, violent, irrational and a great amount of inculcation.

Frankly I don't care whether Dawkins is a liberal - I am not so furiously dogmatic in my intellectual approach that I admonish anyone who is not an anarchist. Many people on this forum have been greatly influenced by reading Marx who needless to say was not an anarchist. And so it is with Dawkins that some of his arguments can be adapted by anarchists and taken further to a more radical position.

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Joseph Kay
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Feb 12 2007 18:26
James Woolley wrote:
You mean science and reason - not just science
Well have you got a better idea? Are the Bible or the Qu'ran better moral codes?

the point is the idea that injustice can be argued out of existence and is rooted in irrationality is idealist, reactionary pish.

James Woolley wrote:
Subjectivism is incompatible with rationalism, so there can only be one 'type' of rationalism.

eh? rationalism that sees antagonism rooted in irrational beliefs is idealist and reactionary - bourgeois rationalism - rationalism that sees antagonism and irrationality rooted in social relations is materialist and communist.

James Woolley wrote:
There's no point in criticising something if you can't offer an alternative. That is the main flaw of the Foucaultlian criticism of the enlightenment - as well as surreptitiously using argument techniques derived from the enlightenment.

well i hear these charges levelled a lot. firstly you don't need to have a blueprinted alternative to reject something, not every worker who strikes has a fully formed vision of libertarian communism in their head - hell i don't know exactly how we'd co-ordinate a global gift economy - negation is a starting point. and secondly foucault - particularly in lectures like society must be defended - offers up a pretty much rational marxist analysis, which would suggest he's rejecting bourgeois rationalism rather than rationalism per se - though i haven't read his critique of the enlightenment (is that in 'the order of things'?), so i dunno, he might be a hypocrite as well as a dead ringer for the button tongue

petey
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Feb 12 2007 18:36
James Woolley wrote:
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Generally anarchism tends to be dogmatically athiest to the point of idiocy

But why is this idiotic?

becuase it's dogmatic: it isn't argued, it's asserted, and then backed up with a load of vitriol. btw same goes for belief, generally.

James Woolley
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Feb 12 2007 18:51
Joseph K. wrote:
the point is the idea that injustice can be argued out of existence and is rooted in irrationality is idealist, reactionary pish.

How is it reactionary? I was under the impression that the reactionary thing is to get rid of injustice by brute force.

Joseph K. wrote:
eh? rationalism that sees antagonism rooted in irrational beliefs is idealist and reactionary - bourgeois rationalism - rationalism that sees antagonism and irrationality rooted in social relations is materialist and communist.

Well like I said - someone has to be wrong and someone has to be right.
The idea that antagonism is irrational predicates on the notion that the status quo is the sum of everything rational which is frankly ridiculous.
I am aware that rationalism isn't necessarily left-wing but its advantage is that it creates a discourse in which things can be challenged and discussed without recourse to dogmas like holy books.

James Woolley
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Feb 12 2007 18:54
newyawka wrote:
James Woolley wrote:
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Generally anarchism tends to be dogmatically athiest to the point of idiocy

But why is this idiotic?

becuase it's dogmatic: it isn't argued, it's asserted, and then backed up with a load of vitriol. btw same goes for belief, generally.

Oh really.

http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/goldman.htm

http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/goldman413.htm

http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/russell0.htm

posi
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Feb 12 2007 18:56

YA RLY

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Joseph Kay
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Feb 12 2007 19:06
James Woolley wrote:
How is it reactionary? I was under the impression that the reactionary thing is to get rid of injustice by brute force.

well because it suggests we need to just sit down with the boss and explain how surplus-value extraction isn't really fair. you can characterise class struggle as "brute force" if you like, i mean i'd like it to be as non-violent as possible but strangely enough the bosses are wont to ignore proletarian reason, and respond to proletarian direct action with repression. fundamentally reason can be deployed by both bourgeois and proles - which is right and which is wrong depends whose side you're on. i mean marx 'proves' capitalist exploitation, milton friedman denies it, ultimately the truth in this case is a matter of choosing sides. i'm not generally a relativist, but i don't see an alternative here, except the dialectic approach that it's a contradiction between bourgeois freedom (of rights, the labour market) and dispossesed wage slavery existing at the same time, meaning both are right, but looking from a different perspective with an irreducible gap between them. actually that works, than you zizek.

James Woolley wrote:
The idea that antagonism is irrational predicates on the notion that the status quo is the sum of everything rational which is frankly ridiculous.

frankly ridiculous, but the unspoken assumption of many a bourgeois rationalist (i haven't read dawkins)- or the explicit statement of such (bourgeois) enlightenment luminaries as hegel. zizek's pretty good on the interplay of religious fundamentalism and bourgeois rationalism, the former being a displacement of social antagonism, the latter a denial of it's legitimacy.

James Woolley
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Feb 12 2007 19:11
Joseph K. wrote:
well because it suggests we need to just sit down with the boss and explain how surplus-value extraction isn't really fair. you can characterise class struggle as "brute force" if you like, i mean i'd like it to be as non-violent as possible but strangely enough the bosses are wont to ignore proletarian reason, and respond to proletarian direct action with repression. fundamentally reason can be deployed by both bourgeois and proles - which is right and which is wrong depends whose side you're on.

Fair enough, but I meant things like executions.

Joseph K. wrote:
frankly ridiculous, but the unspoken assumption of many a bourgeois rationalist (i haven't read dawkins)- or the explicit statement of such (bourgeois) enlightenment luminaries as hegel. zizek's pretty good on the interplay of religious fundamentalism and bourgeois rationalism, the former being a displacement of social antagonism, the latter a denial of it's legitimacy.

Dawkins doesn't say anything about it.

I don't know what you mean by the displacement of social antagonism.

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EdmontonWobbly
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Feb 12 2007 19:12

As an amusing side note today is Darwin's birthday.

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Joseph Kay
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Feb 12 2007 19:20
James Woolley wrote:
I don't know what you mean by the displacement of social antagonism.

i mean that antagonism is immanent to capitalist society; tolerant liberal multiculturalism seeks to deny this in a united colours of beneton love-in, whereas religious fundamentalism reacts against said liberalism (there being antagonism, but it being directed at modernity, rationalism, 'the west' etc). Zizek goes into it at length in 'the parallax view', particularly talking about US politics and how downsized poor workers often form the core support for christian conservative reactionaries who then implement policies which further attack working class conditions.

Flint
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Feb 12 2007 19:36

I'm late coming into this thread, but the discussion on socio-biology reminded me of this interesting essay by Thomas Martin: Anarchism and the Question of Human Nature

Quote:
In these first years of the new century anarchism, as a philosophy and as an ongoing praxis, is faced with a number of disconcerting adjustments. Chief among these is the growing evidence that we, along with most other ideologies on the Left, have based our theory on a mistaken concept of human nature. We have learned over the years to distrust words like sociobiology, evolutionary psychology, cognitive science, and above all that dreaded buzzword, “hard-wired” — yet we can no longer ignore the fact that these sciences are probably right about human nature. It does exist; it has biological roots; and while it does enjoy a large measure of free will, its most basic drives and emotions are indeed hard-wired. The Left has long resisted and denied these facts, on the grounds that they might justify discrimination based on heredity, or that they militate against the possibility of radical social reform, or both. I hope to demonstrate that these fears are groundless.

petey
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Feb 12 2007 20:11
James Woolley wrote:
Oh really.

i said generally. just look around here.

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Feb 12 2007 20:41
Quote:
I'm late coming into this thread, but the discussion on socio-biology reminded me of this interesting essay by Thomas Martin: Anarchism and the Question of Human Nature

The article has a nice beginning but once you get into it it totally falls apart. The author, who is an historian, is, frankly, almost completely ignorant of contemporary philosophy and provides a rather inaccurate picture of "cognitive science." He says that Dewey's pragmatism is at the heart of "cognitive science." This is completely implausible since the "naturalist turn" in philosophy, which is closely related to "cognitive science," tends to reject the sort of extreme empiricism and idealism you find in Dewey. The "naturalist turn" in philosophy has more to do with the undermining of the traditional Kantian categories, like apriori/aposteriori and analytic/synthetic, which were used for over 150 years to erect a tight wall between science and philosophy. This tight wall is now mostly rejected. That's part of what the "naturalist turn" refers to. His remarks about "reason" shows a rather inaccurate understanding as well. Also, the author writes as if Merleua-Ponty's phenomenological method were uncontroversial. Such is not the case at all.

His point that there are "hard wired" aspects to humans, that there is a biological human nature, is uncontroversial. But that nature hasn't changed since humans lived in hunter/gatherer bands 10,000 years ago. It can actually provide us with an argument against the class system, and forms of oppression, since a case can be made that human nature includes a biologically based need for self-management.

I'm at work right now and don't have time to do a more extensive critique.

t.

makaira
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Feb 12 2007 20:58
gatorojinegro wrote:
Quote:
I'm late coming into this thread, but the discussion on socio-biology reminded me of this interesting essay by Thomas Martin: Anarchism and the Question of Human Nature

The article has a nice beginning but once you get into it it totally falls apart. The author, who is an historian, is, frankly, almost completely ignorant of contemporary philosophy and provides a rather inaccurate picture of "cognitive science." He says that Dewey's pragmatism is at the heart of "cognitive science." This is completely implausible since the "naturalist turn" in philosophy, which is closely related to "cognitive science," tends to reject the sort of extreme empiricism and idealism you find in Dewey. The "naturalist turn" in philosophy has more to do with the undermining of the traditional Kantian categories, like apriori/aposteriori and analytic/synthetic, which were used for over 150 years to erect a tight wall between science and philosophy. This tight wall is now mostly rejected. That's part of what the "naturalist turn" refers to. His remarks about "reason" shows a rather inaccurate understanding as well. Also, the author writes as if Merleua-Ponty's phenomenological method were uncontroversial. Such is not the case at all.

His point that there are "hard wired" aspects to humans, that there is a biological human nature, is uncontroversial. But that nature hasn't changed since humans lived in hunter/gatherer bands 10,000 years ago. It can actually provide us with an argument against the class system, and forms of oppression, since a case can be made that human nature includes a biologically based need for self-management.

I'm at work right now and don't have time to do a more extensive critique.

t.

Great post, very insightful. Although your post isn't incredibly long it seems to have hit the nail on the head in regards to Thomas Martin's article, but I would definitely be interested in hearing more of what you have to say.

petey
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Feb 12 2007 21:11
gatorojinegro wrote:
His point that there are "hard wired" aspects to humans, that there is a biological human nature, is uncontroversial. But that nature hasn't changed since humans lived in hunter/gatherer bands 10,000 years ago. It can actually provide us with an argument against the class system, and forms of oppression, since a case can be made that human nature includes a biologically based need for self-management.

i symapthise with all these sentiments, but we'd have to know what hunter-gatherer bands were like 10,000 years ago. it's reasonable to compare that (necessarily hypothetical) society with the structure of h-g bands today, but not conclusive. it's also hard to know just from archaeology what the content of human nature was back then. there can be obvious novelties - burying the dead with goods, or facing east, or the production of artworks - that can point to cognitive changes, but how about the construction of monumental works (walls, temples, irrigation systems)? do these signal changes in human nature, or changes only in social structure?

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gatorojinegro
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Feb 12 2007 21:44

I don't think we need to know what hunter/gatherer bands were like to reject the idea that human nature can be inferred from characteristics of capitalist society, as conservative commentators often try to do. that's because capitalism hasn't existed long enough to change human nature to "fit" it to what we find under this social order.

t.

petey
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Feb 12 2007 21:49
gatorojinegro wrote:
I don't think we need to know what hunter/gatherer bands were like to reject the idea that human nature can be inferred from characteristics of capitalist society.

but there's no reason to privelege the social relations of any society just because we think fits with our politics, whether libertarians using h-g societies, or capitalists using current ones. neither one is "more real" than the other, esp. if we don't know the quality of those 10,000 year-old h-g bands.

EDIT: let me emphasize that i'm in complete agreement that the characteristics of capitalist society do not reveal human nature. i think there is a human nature, but the list of items that goes into it is very short. attaining security of resources is obviously an item on that list, and neither a horizonatal nor a vertical social structure (h-g vs capitalist) is "more natural" in the quest to attain said resources. i would say that a horizontal structure, where one can work one's life out for oneself, gives a far fuller experience of life, as i'm sure everyone here does.

john
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Feb 12 2007 22:20
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i'm in complete agreement that the characteristics of capitalist society do not reveal human nature.

I'm struggling to see how there can be some kind of inherent human nature, particularly if it's not revealed. If it's capable of not being expressed, then surely it isn't real human nature?

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Feb 12 2007 22:22

but evolutionary psychology doesn't propose to work by using a time-machine to go back to 10,000 years ago, and neither does cognitive science.

but let me go back to the article by Thomas Martin. First of all, "cognitive science" came into being in the '60s and '70s as an interdisciplinary cooperation of people from a variety of disciplines, including philosophy, pscychology, linguistics, etc. To suppose that it all flows from the brains of George Lakoff and Mark Johnson is ridiculous. the cooperation of some philosophers in this endeavor derived from what i called the "naturalist turn" in philosophy, which meant that philosophers became more interested in finding out what the actual cognitive capacities and knowledge methods of humans are, rather than trying to develop epistemology (study of what constitutes knowledge) from principles that ignore actual human capacities.

this has not been the only "trend" in philosophy over the past 30 years. there's also been an anti-realist trend, which takes a variety of forms, such as those influenced by the linguistic idealism of Sausure, the various French relativists and anti-realists like Derida, and in its more American form, you have anti-realist pragmatists like Rorty and Putnam. There is no direct relationship between these "naturalist" and "anti-realist" trends, tho some may try to use cognitive science premises for anti-realist conclusions, i suppose.

Writes Martin:

Quote:
Like Dewey and Merleau-Ponty, Lakoff and Johnson start from the assumption, now pretty much proved by late-Western science, that there is no dichotomy between mind and body.

these are the three central findings of cognitive science:
The mind is inherently embodied.
Thought is mostly unconscious.
Abstract concepts are largely metaphorical.

This completely trivializes cognitive science. Take the second statement. Let's say i ask you a series of 5,000 questions. At the end i will have assayed some thousands of beliefs you possess. But at no time are you consciously thinking all of these thousands of beliefs. Those beliefs still exist, they're stuck in some way in your brain, but you're not conscious of them. This is one of the senses in which much of your "thought" isn't "conscious." But this has been known for a very long time, and "cognitive science" wasn't needed to reveal it.

More:

Quote:
The most prized possession of Western philosophy has always been Reason: that
capacity we supposedly have to look at the world, marshal and analyze what we see
according to certain simple rules, and come up with an accurate representation in
our minds of what is “out there.” Cognitive science disposes of traditional “reason”
rather easily, and undercuts the entire foundation of Western philosophy. The Western view, going back to the pre-Socratics and reinforced by Aristotle, Aquinas,
Descartes and many others, is that “reason” is a edifice of thought — a set of rules for thinking — that exists quite independently of our physical selves. It goes on
in our minds, but is not of our minds — this is another way of saying that the world is just as we perceive it to be, or that it would be just as it is now if we
weren’t in it to perceive it. This view underlies the blank-slate theory.

This is all really quite silly. Inference is one of the sources of knowledge. Philosophers usually talk about "reason" in reference to reasonings, inference as a way of finding out things. Now it is true that we can investigate the actual reasoning capacity of humans and we can try to determine how accurate it is. For example, one of the studies of the psychology of reasoning has shown that there is a certain inferential strategy that humans are inclined to use that will often lead them into error. This is called the Exemplar Strategy. So, if you encounter a new thing that you regard as an X -- a cat or whatever,
and you want to know, How likely is it that X has trait F? What you may do is try to think of a "typical" X, and if your conception of a typical F has that property, you'll infer that this new example is probably F. This is a method that works in a very rough way when dealing with natural flora and fauna, plants and animals and minerals. That's probably where it comes from, from an evolutionary point of view, but it is notorious that when this method is applied to complicated social realities, it leads to the kind of error called "stereotyped" thinking, for example, it can support racist thinking.

Now, ask yourself the question, how do the psychologists know that this inferential method fails sometimes? They know because they know what it is to make a valid inference. A valid inference method is one that doesn't tend to lead you astray, wondering from true premises to false conclusions. That is a basic principle of "reason" and nothing in "cognitive science" or talk about the "embodied mind" upends that.

The bit about the world being as we perceive it to be is an anti-realist tidbit that Martin seems to throw in gratuitously. He's confusing two different issues: How do we acquire knowledge? and, does the physical world that appears to us in our perceptual experience exist or not?

We can be led astray, as my previous example shows, but we also have the methods to find that out. It suggests Martin doesn't have a good grasp on what "reason" is.

t.

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Devrim
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Feb 13 2007 12:11

There seems to be a lot of venom against Dawkins. Some of his work is superb, 'The Ancestors Tale' for instance. I also read 'The God Delusion', and thought it was a bit weak. I think that a lot of the people arguing against him have probably never read his work, and are arguing against whatever constructs of him they have encountered.

The 'Ancestor's Tale' is in my opinion a fascinating explanation of evolutionary history. It is strange that he is attacked so much. Nobody attacked Hawkins' 'A Brief History of Time' for not having a class analysis.

Devrim

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Feb 14 2007 01:54

I've read "Selfish Gene" and it is shit. Dawkin's misrepresents or omits factors in evolutionary processes such as genetic linkage, pleitropy and drift to spin his ideology. He uses a lot of mathematical modelling, which is ultra dodgy coz he factors in things like a monkey scratching another's back as a "cost". Do the ones doing the scratching really get predated more coz they're not looking around for predators as much? I seriously doubt it. In fact it turns all such models on their head coz another troupe member is just as likely to get nailed by a loss of a pair of eyes on the look out. And of course energy expenditure in grooming should be considered negligible. Mathematical ecologists truly are dicks.

I think he's a dodgy biologist who got famous coz his individualist interactionist approach dovetails nicely with the dominant ideology of capitalist individualism.

And contray to assertions made earlier on this thread Dawkins says quite specificaly that his aim was to explain altruistic behaviour in humans. He argues that this requires explaining coz it is counter intuitive behaviour given that the selective pressures at the genetic level should make people selfish. He ends up with a 20th century psuedo-scientific Hobbesianism.

What is seriously lacking is a proper presentation of evolution, which means he can manipulate science for whatever preconcieved notions he has.

Which, incidentally, is common across the board. I've just opened Hahnel's "ABC of political economy" and what do I get? Some liberal economist justifying the possibility of a better society on the basis of evolutionary psychology. Pathetic.

People interested should look up and comment on the "Selfish Gene" reading group we had on these forums. They're probably somewhere in thought.

And lastly and most telling, Dawkins looks and talks like a vampire. Given that vampires don't exist, I can only assume that he's a serial paedo.

makaira
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Feb 14 2007 03:40
jason wrote:
Given that vampires don't exist...

Oh great. Another one who thinks he knows it all...

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Feb 14 2007 07:56
Quote:
I've read "Selfish Gene" and it is shit. Dawkin's misrepresents or omits factors in evolutionary processes such as genetic linkage, pleitropy and drift to spin his ideology.

See what I mean about people attacking him though. I have read it, and I don't even see this 'ideology' that you say he is spinning.

And what on earth does this mean?:

Quote:
And lastly and most telling, Dawkins looks and talks like a vampire. Given that vampires don't exist, I can only assume that he's a serial paedo.

Devrim

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Feb 14 2007 08:40
Devrim wrote:
There seems to be a lot of venom against Dawkins. Some of his work is superb, 'The Ancestors Tale' for instance. I also read 'The God Delusion', and thought it was a bit weak. I think that a lot of the people arguing against him have probably never read his work, and are arguing against whatever constructs of him they have encountered.

1.Special report in which he whines about how bush supposedly believes in god. The sort of 'point your finger at america' crap that the labour-left hae specialised in for the last 60 years.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/alqaida/story/0,12469,919618,00.html

2.Letter where he whinges about american voters
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uselections2004/story/0,13918,1326066,00.html

3.Letter in which he reveals his rather rabid true colours over GM http://observer.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,6903,372515,00.html

You don't think these letters and reports among other things reveal quite accurately sections of his ideology. He's not exactly the most reactionary indiidual in the world, but i don't see why we can't have a go at him when he's clearly a rather nasty smug oxford don.

And serioulsly why are you so bakuninist over religion? Its like when you had a go at the US IWW for haing a unitarian priest as a member, which quite frankly i thought was an the sort of absolutely barmy criticism that only the most indiidualist anarchist would consider making. It doesn't seem to fit with your usual somewhat dour marxist sentiments tongue

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Devrim
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Feb 14 2007 09:02
cantdocartwheels wrote:
You don't think these letters and reports among other things reveal quite accurately sections of his ideology. He's not exactly the most reactionary indiidual in the world, but i don't see why we can't have a go at him when he's clearly a rather nasty smug oxford don.

Yes, but these are clearly political letters. He has political opinions, and we don't agree with them. So what? I don't see this ideology shinning through the 'Selfish Gene'. I think that what is being suggested is that there is some 'nasty' right wing ideology coming through his work on evolution. I don't think that there is.

cantdocartwheels wrote:
And serioulsly why are you so bakuninist over religion? Its like when you had a go at the US IWW for haing a unitarian priest as a member, which quite frankly i thought was an the sort of absolutely barmy criticism that only the most indiidualist anarchist would consider making. It doesn't seem to fit with your usual somewhat dour marxist sentiments tongue

I have never been called a Bakuninist before, and I don't know his work on religion, so I don't really understand what this means. I think that part of the reason probably comes from being involved in political work in a country where religion is much more powerful than in the UK. Religion does have a strong hold over the working class in Turkey whereas in England it is much weaker. Yes, I do have a thing about religion (other people in our group have more of a thing about it than me). The thing about the IWW preacher though was as much about whether the IWW was actually a union, or not, and the relationship of the preacher to his employers as it was about him being a preacher.
Devrim

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Feb 14 2007 10:08
quint wrote:
A purely rationalist attack on religion will inevitably be elitist because religion is what people turn to get some community in an alienating isolating world. Marx once wrote, "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions." It displaces hopes for change onto the afterlife. Rationalism is incapeable changing this. An up turn in class struggle would make it seem possible to change things here and now. The communities created by working class people in struggle, are the real threat to religion.

Yes, I'd agree with Feight and EdWobbly, Quint has probably made the most important point on this thread so far, which goes in the same direction as a recent article written by one of our sympathisers on how capitalism uses religion,

Quote:
Although the question of religion has importance for the working class, the bourgeois framework of the debate offers nothing to the proletariat. Religion is not simply the product of ‘ignorance', ‘stupidity' or errors of epistemological method. Although these are factors, religion in the final instance is the product of a social system that reifies humanity's own social powers into objects beyond our control. Religion cannot be combated on a purely intellectual terrain as Dawkins tries with his rationalist ideology. It can only be fought through the development of the class struggle. Only the proletarian struggle can unite human beings to a sufficient level to allow them to become conscious of their social powers and begin to dominate and control them rather than being unconscious slaves of their own activities.
http://en.internationalism.org/wr/301_religion-under-capitalism

edit - I'd also agree with revol's last post that the ruling class are going to make as much use of religion and irrationality as they can to confuse the working class and to seek to maintain their dominance, although it is a double edged sword as the development of fundamentalism of all types brings in new problems. The strength of the religious right in the US is causing real problems for the bourgeoisie there.

B.

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Feb 14 2007 10:09
revol68 wrote:
Quote:
I have never been called a Bakuninist before, and I don't know his work on religion, so I don't really understand what this means. I think that part of the reason probably comes from being involved in political work in a country where religion is much more powerful than in the UK. Religion does have a strong hold over the working class in Turkey whereas in England it is much weaker. Yes, I do have a thing about religion (other people in our group have more of a thing about it than me). The thing about the IWW preacher though was as much about whether the IWW was actually a union, or not, and the relationship of the preacher to his employers as it was about him being a preacher.

spot on.

It's very easy to be ambivilent about religion when your biggest worry is a gay anglican bishop looking over his glasses at you for using bad language at a youth club disco, it's quite another if you come from a culture in which religion is an explicit means of social control, tied up with institutional or coercive power. Don't you think young women from religious muslim or catholic communities might have take issue with religion.

Clearly we have to understand it as a product of alienated circumstances but at the same time it is not passive, it is also an active agent in producing, propping up and propagating alienation and as such needs to be opposed when it raises it's head above the pulpit of private theological ponderings.

Its one thing to hae an 'issue' with religion, its quite another to attack an organisation solely because a unitarian preacher. Now while devrim claims it was because of the preachers reltionship with his employers, it was fairly obious that WP wasn't organising a union within his church so i'd say his accusation was fairly sspect on these grounds.
Not meaning any offense but i would say that as regards religion you do both sometimes teeter on a bakuninist analysis. Condemning an organisation for having religious members, and not being able to differentiate between fundamentalism such as opus dei or something, and more moderate forms of religion such as unitarianism are a bit of a problem. Serious question like, as regards ENgland or the US, do you not think the somewhat rabid approach to religion displayed by certain anarchists puts a fair number of people off?