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Old 07-11-2006, 03:21 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by verte76
One night I was watching the news with my mother and I had this impulse to pick up a volume of St. Augustine that was on a nearby shelf.
Was it the Confessions, by chance? That really would be wild, what with the "Take the book and read" epiphany he has in it.
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Old 07-11-2006, 07:39 PM   #17
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Skepticism may be confused with cynicism or nihilism, but how often do you see a person honestly describe themselves as a cynic or nihilist? It seems that one can adopt the label “skeptic” to avoid the negative image carried by the terms “cynic” or “nihilist”. When asking a question, you can either be seeking an answer or providing condemnation in another form.
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Old 07-11-2006, 07:58 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
Skepticism may be confused with cynicism or nihilism, but how often do you see a person honestly describe themselves as a cynic or nihilist? It seems that one can adopt the label “skeptic” to avoid the negative image carried by the terms “cynic” or “nihilist”. When asking a question, you can either be seeking an answer or providing condemnation in another form.
Likewise, how often do you see a person honestly describing themselves as a religious fanatic?

It goes both ways, which goes back to the point I last made.

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Old 07-11-2006, 08:58 PM   #19
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Anybody know any nihilists?
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Old 07-11-2006, 09:25 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon


Likewise, how often do you see a person honestly describing themselves as a religious fanatic?

It goes both ways, which goes back to the point I last made.

Melon


I'm not sure what you mean by "it goes both ways"

Are we discussing an issue from two sides?
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Old 07-11-2006, 09:27 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by BonosSaint
Anybody know any nihilists?
The Germans from Big Lebowski
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Old 07-11-2006, 10:06 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader


I'm not sure what you mean by "it goes both ways"

Are we discussing an issue from two sides?
Quote:
As such, a healthy dose of skepticism, coupled with a healthy dose of certainty is a good thing. Hardline skepticism (nihilism) and hardline certainty (stubbornness) are both disastrous, historically speaking.
Excuse me for making an assumption in plural subject pronouns.

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Old 07-12-2006, 12:10 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland

Was it the Confessions, by chance? That really would be wild, what with the "Take the book and read" epiphany he has in it.
It was a volume with Confessions, City of God and On Christian Doctrine.
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Old 08-29-2006, 09:50 AM   #24
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Not quite the same thing as "skepticism," but since we were blending definitions anyhow...
Quote:
What Is the Latest Thing to Be Discouraged About? The Rise of Pessimism

By ADAM COHEN
The New York Times (editorial), August 28, 2006


The early stages of the Iraq war may have been a watershed in American optimism. The happy talk was so extreme it is now difficult to believe it was sincere: “we will be greeted as liberators”; “mission accomplished”; the insurgency is “in the last throes.” Most wildly optimistic of all was the goal: a military action transforming the Middle East into pro-American democracies.

The gap between predictions and reality has left Americans deeply discouraged. So has much of what has happened, or not happened, at the same time. Those who believed New Orleans would rebound quickly after Hurricane Katrina have seen their hopes dashed. Those counting on solutions to health care, energy dependence or global warming have seen no progress. It is no wonder the nation is in a gloomy mood; 71% of respondents in a recent Associated Press-Ipsos poll said the country is on the wrong track.

These are ideal times for the release of Pessimism: Philosophy, Ethic, Spirit by Joshua Foa Dienstag, a U.C.L.A. political theorist. Mr. Dienstag aims to rescue pessimism from the philosophical sidelines, where it has been shunted by optimists of all ideologies. The book is seductive, because pessimists are generally more engaging and entertaining than optimists, and because, as the author notes, “the world keeps delivering bad news.” It is almost tempting to throw up one’s hands and sign on with Schopenhauer.

Pessimism, however, is the most un-American of philosophies. This nation was built on the values of reason and progress, not to mention the “pursuit of happiness.” Pessimism as philosophy is skeptical of the idea of progress. Pursuing happiness is a fool’s errand. Pessimism is not, as is commonly thought, about being depressed or misanthropic, and it does not hold that humanity is headed for disaster. It simply doubts the most basic liberal principle: that applying human reasoning to the world’s problems will have a positive effect.

The biggest difference between optimists and pessimists, Mr. Dienstag argues, is in how they view time. Optimists see the passing of time as a canvas on which to paint a better world. Pessimists see it as a burden. Time ticks off the physical decline of one’s body toward the inevitability of death, and it separates people from their loved ones. “All the tragedies which we can imagine,” said Simone Weil, the French philosopher who starved herself to death at age 34, “return in the end to the one and only tragedy: the passage of time.”

As politicians, pessimists do not believe in undertaking great initiatives to ameliorate unhappiness, since they are skeptical they will work. They are inclined to accept the world’s evil and misery as inevitable. Mr. Dienstag tries to argue that pessimists can be politically engaged, and in modest ways they can be. Camus joined the French Resistance. But pessimism’s overall spirit, as Camus noted, “is not to be cured, but to live with one’s ailments.”

President Clinton was often mocked for his declarations that he still believed “in a place called Hope.” But he understood that instilling hope is a critical part of leadership. Other than a few special interest programs—like cutting taxes on the wealthy and giving various incentives to business—it is hard to think of areas in which the Bush administration has raised the nation’s hopes and met them. This president has, instead, tried to focus the American people on the fear of terrorism, for which there is no cure, only bad choices or something worse.

Part of Mr. Bush’s legacy may well be that he robbed America of its optimism—a force that Franklin Delano Roosevelt and other presidents, like Ronald Reagan, used to rally the country when it was deeply challenged. The next generation of leaders will have to resell discouraged Americans on the very idea of optimism, and convince them again that their goal should not be to live with their ailments, but to cure them.
The funny thing about this piece is that it basically amounts to a pessimistic appraisal of pessimism--Cohen doesn't even hint at what an (non-"wildly") "optimistic" political agenda for the future, one which "applies reasoning to the world's problems," might look like. Of course, if one is to get people to "rally" around such an agenda, then presumably you need some sort of consensus first as to what the underlying causes of those problems are, and in some ways I think that's more what's lacking right now than faith in the possibility of solutions per se. Perhaps it's significant that Reagan and Roosevelt didn't have the mushrooming of partisan analysis and criticism courtesy of the Internet to contend with. Or perhaps it's simply that the USSR was in some sense a less complicated enemy than terrorism...or that it was easier to build a "New Deal coalition" against the backdrop of war and the Great Depression than it would be today.
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Old 08-29-2006, 10:28 AM   #25
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^ or is optimism the anomoly, especially American-style optimism?

i'm reminded by a great Sopranos quote from Svetlana, the one-legged Russian:

[q]"That's the trouble with you Americans. You expect nothing bad ever to happen, when the rest of the world expects only bad to happen, and they are not disappointed.” [/q]
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Old 08-29-2006, 11:27 AM   #26
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If life seems jolly rotten,
There's something you've forgotten,
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
When you're feeling in the dumps,
Don't be silly chumps.
Just purse your lips and whistle. That's the thing.
And...

Always look on the bright side of life.
[whistling]
Always look on the right side of life,
[whistling]
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Old 08-29-2006, 09:06 PM   #27
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Re: The Modern Skeptic

Quote:
Originally posted by AEON


It’s hard to believe this was written in 1908 – it seems it could have easily been written today…It seems "The Modern Skeptic" evolved only slightly when he became "The Postmodern Skeptic."

Within Christian circles, I am still seen as a bit of a skeptic. Not because I "question everything" - because I do not easily accept an answer without doing some of my own research.

However, before I was a Christian this quote above was an accurate description of who I was: A Walking Contradiction.

Anyway, I just wanted to read some other impressions of this quote. Are you a recovering skeptic? Still have a healthy amount of skepticism? Skeptical about skepticism?
I find no contradictions in skepticism, I find contradictions in dogmatism and pessimism which are two things that I avoid like the plague. Treating skepticism as a dogma and one where pessimism and even nihilism results is predicated on the belief that the skeptic is dissapointed in the absence of the supernatural; which is a fallacy because it takes an innate need and love for God to be a given, which it is not.

I have never had a crisis of concience over my own atheism, I have changed the way I have thought on a good many issues and developing a sense of reason and skepticism was gained through growing up and learning.
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Old 08-29-2006, 09:50 PM   #28
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Skeptical? I tend to believe that there is a scientific answer to everything, no matter how improbable. Spirituality is an individual relationship with ideas or things that you find meaning in, be it a book or nature. My spouse believes in all kinds of things that I can't give any credence to- he thinks his open-mindedness makes him a better person, I think my logic and reason is equally helpful in life.
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