Monday, July 27, 2009

A) Belief, B) Disbelief, C) None of the above

For the last three days, I've been writing a piece attempting to nuance my definition of nihilism. And it was brilliant! Marvellous metaphors, jolly japes, pretty pictures, and even a little alliteration. But in amongst the frivolity I had some questions about that mumping villain Nietzsche and dipped into Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy. Dear oh dear, how little I know. Never mind Nietzsche, whatever clever guff I had to say on the subject of, let's call it scepticism, I was perpetually being beaten to the punch by the Greeks of two millennia ago. Bloody Greeks! How dare they reach out from the past and shatter my illusions of me as great sage and equal of heaven!

Happily, the nature of monkey is irrepressible, so here I am blathering on with another 1000 words that hopefully I won't have to junk. (Hmm... perhaps 'happily' is the wrong word what with Monkey being on a mission to abandon his monkey nature 'self', but never mind). Anyway I'll start again and fingers crossed none of those rotten ancients gate-crash the party.

And so on to the grand topics! Take belief. Please! Any number of people will tell you that belief is a wonderful thing and without it we're all doomed or somesuch. That's all very well, but my problem is that there are so many beliefs, half of which are completely at odds with the other half, that one's necessarily forced to pick one or t'other, or some combination thereof. Sure enough, in choosing what one believes, one automatically rejects any number of other beliefs. Which is to say, a person who extols the rightness of belief is ipso facto simultaneously condemning the falseness of it. Or to put it another way, they're asserting that a false belief is better than none at all.

To be honest it never works that way. The epic majority of proponents of belief are not so much keen to have me, as unbeliever, believe in something-anything-as-long-as-I-believe, so much as to have me believe in their specific version of that-which-must-be-believed. It seems it's less about belief per se, but rather about whether or not one has chosen a belief that accords with that of the commentator. Hmm... perhaps belief is not so very different from teenage fashion sense, ie. it's little more than an expression of peer group pressure, which is to say 'fear'. And a fig for that.

What then is a self-described nihilist (that would be me) to do about otherwise credible people telling me stories completely beyond my ken and otherwise requiring my belief? Ha ha ha, is everyone here familiar with the phrase 'beg the question'? 'Beg the question' does not mean 'prompt the question'. Rather, it means to ask a question in which something is assumed or taken for granted that really oughtn't to be. And that sentence at the beginning of the para is a classic example. It assumes that one must either believe a thing, or reject it in its entirety. Which is to say, take it holus-bolus or throw the baby out with the bath water.

What's that clippety-clop noise? Is it some philosophical knight on horseback come to rescue me from my dilemma? Oh wait, it's the Buddha banging two coconuts together - a Python fan obviously. Says he, ever sensible, we may choose the middle way. Both belief and rejection are two diametric extremes. If one is convinced that belief is fraught with paradoxes why should it follow that disbelief is automatically the correct position? It's the equivalent of a nine year old in a car swerving from one over-correction to another.

So, er... what are we meant to do exactly? Neither believe nor disbelieve? Sure why not? Subsequently yours truly, otherwise full of loud-mouthed opinions, will upon hearing mind-boggling stories hold no opinion at all. Like I've said elsewhere, I dismiss nothing. I hear a thing, I hold it in my head, and I turn it this way and that: maybe I make something of it and maybe I don't. Do, don't, it doesn't really matter - whatever it is I've been told merely 'is', and nothing more.

Thus for all manner of things, from my friend John's curious preternatural encounters (Hey John), to Les' messages from the Devic Realm (Hey Les), I choose to form no opinion. The only thing I can say with complete certainty is that I have no experience of these things. And between what I have experienced and what I haven't, one makes the other look like Charles Atlas' 97lb weakling. For me to make declarations about what they tell me would say as much about me as them. Besides, here I am conveying thoughts to you the reader in spite of the fact that we're separated by hitherto unimaginable distances. 'Hitherto' is the key word there - when those smarty-pants Greeks were kicking around to even suggest that such things were possible would have been laughed off as a lunacy, or otherwise something belonging to the gods. And now we just take it as read.

Speaking of the Greeks, I'm off now to finally read Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy. I'm keen to see if any of those marbled ancients knew karate. Okay, perhaps not the thing itself but at least the intent that inspired its name. For those who don't know, it means 'empty hand', which I might paraphrase as 'with no pre-conceived idea'. And the Japanese didn't call it that for nothing. It's an acknowledgement that in a meeting between two entities, no one can know what the stimuli will be, nor the response. And crucially (not wishing to beg the question again) - nor if one is even necessary. It's a simple fact that within the concept of the open hand is the perforce possibility that one may do nothing at all. Hmm... I'm pretty sure the Greeks mastered the concept. Well, it would certainly explain why they all turned into statues, ha ha.


Justin R. said...

The nature of monkey is indeed irrepressible my good sir nobody.

su said...

Will opt for c.
Not sure if you have heard of the British illusionist Derren Brown.
He does some amazing things and has astounding capacities.
He is so good that he is banned from every casino in the UK.
Absolute phenomenal usage of the mind to create situations that he wants to.
Definitely a master of his world.
Someone once interviewed him and asked to what he attributed this gift and his clear cut answer was that he had absolutely no beliefs.
And when he caught swinging into adopting one he knew he was in trouble and would challenge that assumption until he realised it could not possibly warrant his attention or verification.

On the other hand my most profound belief is that bread is definitely better if it has two risings.

By the way the pic of the baby alongside the sink of dirty dishes is great.
It reminds me of a time that the kids stacked shredded newspaper on either side of the fireplace and then proceeded to make a super hot fire. By the time I entered the kitchen the fire was everywhere and spreading - and my biggest bitch which I was vocalizing foully was that I could not get to taps due to a build up of dishes.
That picture reminded me of that day - the innocence and the chaos existing side by side.

Von Curtis said...

'The epic majority of proponents of belief are not so much keen to have me, as unbeliever, believe in something-anything-as-long-as-I-believe, so much as to have me believe in their specific version of that-which-must-be-believed. It seems it's less about belief per se, but rather about whether or not one has chosen a belief that accords with that of the commentator.'

Just believe in Nature and Life NB you don't have to define it , annalyze and dissect it like many humans want to do , I know you love birds.
Sometimes make yourself feel as transparent as you can as though you are just a spirit and merge with nature and the whole life force in the world - make yourself one with it - it is a wonderful feeling.
A lot of human religion and belief is revolting in its pursuit of power and control. As we have found out a lot of the Christian church has nothing to do with Jesus , it has more to do with the dark side apparently - charming.
And now we have the global warmers religion with the sea level rising to drown us - its all boring and I rang up the ABC Country Hour and told them their endless drone about carbon trading was boring me to tears. They told me emminent scientists said it was true.
Phony science is the new religion - it is soooooooo boring.

Destiny said...

"In the worlds before Monkey, primal chaos reigned. Heaven sought order. But the phoenix can fly only when its feathers are grown. The four worlds formed again and yet again, as endless aeons wheeled and passed. Time and the pure essences of Heaven, the moisture of the Earth, the powers of the Sun ( consciousness ) and the Moon ( subconscious hidden aspects of nature ) all worked upon a certain rock, old as creation. And it became magically fertile.

That first egg was named "Thought" Tathagata Buddha, the Father Buddha, said, "With our thoughts, we make the World".

So it is important to keep an open mind and incorporate as many different perspectives as possible :) Which is exactly what you do when you choose the middle way :)

nobody said...

Hello, sorry, bit busy yesterday.

Hey Justin. Monkey, eh? Was that my favourite TV show? I found them on second hand DVD a while back and watched them again and they were really brilliant. What I've never seen anyone comment on was the delicious translations in the sub-titles. For mine they were clearly done by an Englishman. Had it gone to Hollywood it would have been virtually unwatchable. Anyway that kids will want to watch action (yours truly, guilty as charged) and that being the case, something like Monkey is as good as it gets. Not forgetting Miyazaki, of course.

Hey Su. Now I'm curious. I'll check that guy out. As for you on fire, ha ha ha ha. I figure it's alright to laugh since all's well that ends well. It did end well didn't it?

Just a note on photos for anyone who's curious. Everyone knows that none of them are mine, yeah? They're all stolen. I figure that if anyone is unhappy with me using their photos they can tell me so and I shall remove it. I figure since no one made any money out of it, and otherwise no harm was done, then, um, no harm was done. And if they're not unhappy, then they're not unhappy. I don't see a problem with it.

Mind you, if you see some something you may suspect of having been photoshopped, then it was me what done it. In this piece, monkey, bouncer, Arthur/Buddha, and Aristotle all got shopped.

Hey VC - Aargh! Between you and Les over at the origami, I'm feeling guilty about not meditating. Why do I put it off? No good reason. I'm getting there though.

Destiny! Another monkey fan!

Anyway, speaking of Hollywood, give me a day or two and there'll be a new piece over at the cinema. It's a death match between me and Quentin Tarantino. What with it being my blog, I kick his arse sure enough.

Penny said...

can you just believe nothing, until it is proven you should believe it?

"If you chose not to decide, you still have made a choice"

kikz said...

;) monkey see... monkey do?

since i've been grown, or old.. whichever.. i've utilized pike's old standard...

take what you will, leave the rest' as 'acid test'.

ya can tell a lot about a system/institution - by their dogma.

>:) woof!

nice russell society site online, lots of good reading...

Von Curtis said...

You know NB Joh really believed and loved Queensland , a lot of corporate elite and their supporters hate nationalism - today we are supposed to be 'global citizens' and don't dare to stray from that.
I said this on 'I wonder why Fitzgerald didn't go back to Goss concerning corruption , maybe it was too close to when they threw Joh out and he wanted to make it look as though his Royal Commission cleaned it up for a while.' and got this blast and a whole lot more -' Any QLD gov corruption since then pales into insignificance compared to that which was rife under the last 10 years of Joh's rule.'
I suspect the globalists took over in the early 90's and have been in power ever since - they cannot stand nationalism.
I also suspect Joh would have realized The Queen and The Crown Corporation were much much darker force than he ever knew previously.
I suspect the owner of the Agmates site is NOT on the farmers and is in bed with Labour and Liberal corporates.

john said...

If something inexplicable happens I usually laugh a bit, shake my head and get on. If nothing else you might possibly be left with an amusing story although Wittgenstein said, in one of his famous bits; "What can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence."

I did have to read some philosophy a long time ago and although I've forgotten most of it now I still have a soft spot for the Pre-Socratics, Heraclitas in particular.

Reservoir Dogs was one of the most unpleasant experiences that I've had movie wise although I seemed to be in the minority in not 'enjoying' it.

On the plus side I downloaded a bootleg of the secret GoldmanSax program from Limewire or Pirate Bay that some kind person had popped up and I am now making $100 million a day! I'm running it on an old laptop that I found. It's a piece of piss.

nobody said...

Thanks folks, fans of the cinema should head over because Death Proof is now up.

You know that New York Times thing about 'all the news that's fit to print'? Well, this ain't that, ha ha.

su said...

This defies belief.

Have a history teacher explain this----- if they can.

Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.
John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.

Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860.
John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960.

Both were particularly concerned with civil rights.
Both wives lost their children while living in the White House.

Both Presidents were shot on a Friday.
Both Presidents were shot in the head

Now it gets really weird.

Lincoln 's secretary was named Kennedy.
Kennedy's Secretary was named Lincoln .

Both were assassinated by Southerners.
Both were succeeded by Southerners named Johnson.

Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln , was born in 1808.
Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.

John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln , was born in 1839.
Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy, was born in 1939.

Both assassins were known by their three names.
Both names are composed of fifteen letters.

Now hang on to your seat.

Lincoln was shot at the theater named 'Ford.'
Kennedy was shot in a car called ' Lincoln ' made by 'Ford.'

Lincoln was shot in a theater and his assassin ran and hid in a warehouse.
Kennedy was shot from a warehouse and his assassin ran and hid in a

Booth and Oswald were assassinated before their trials.

And here's the kicker...

A week before Lincoln was shot, he was in Monroe , Maryland
A week before Kennedy was shot, he was with Marilyn Monroe.

Von Curtis said...

this time nothing can prevent good from prevailing

Our wicked overlords have for eons honed the skills required to be able to convince ordinary people that killing and brutalising other ordinary people is a good thing. They are so adept at it that many ordinary Joes will volunteer for such service.

The wicked have created a raft of different belief systems to support this mockery of humanity. Religion, nation, race, fear of attack, even "business interests"! They have control over and direction of all of the tools necessary, from the education system and educational publishing to the mainstream media and via shills the informal media of the internet (not yet complete).

But not this time.

We are, as a species, becoming fed up with all of this. The more we talk with people of other religions and races and belief systems the more we realise that we ordinary people have a lot in common. And this, dear racists, includes the ordinary Jew. We share an unfulfilled desire for justice, for peace, for caring, for love. We most of us wish to be happy and to raise our children in a place of safety.
This is not beyond the wit of man and as the veil is lifted, and as the truth becomes known by more and more each day, so the end of this ridiculous state of affairs looms ever nearer.
Mankind is finally sussing it all out. The evil ones will try every trick in their book, but will not prevent us now building a brave new world without their influence.
They're finished.
It will not be easy. We have to beware of more lies, false prophets (the "Religion" card), pestilence, famine, war and death. There will be much pain, but we should know that this time nothing can prevent GOOD from prevailing. Hang on to your hats, fear nothing, strive for the perfect world we can create.
There are 6.5 billion souls waiting for the chance to "Start Again".

slozo said...

Su - fantastic numbers, crazy the obsession they have with the numbers . . . nice dig up.

Von Curtis - I really, really like your style. Your last post is great, but let me talk about your first comment, and refer it to Nobody.

I think you have it bang on when you talk about believing in nature and life . . . love of things. In some ways, talking about peace and love itself has been co-opted by the PTB to sound silly, contrived, and without much meaning . . . and yet, to spread the message of love and peace around is probably the most noble and beautiful thing we can all do, besides helping your fellow man. Stripping away all the inticacies of the plots and conspiracies, it all comes down to simple principles . . . be good, do right . . . love nature and respect it . . . help others . . . promote peace and love . . .

Let's not buy into the bullshit that this society has thrust upon us, and let's help each other, one by one, person by person, to all come to a better understanding to further promote those ideals.

Good write-up, great comments.

nobody said...

Not forgetting Su, that if you go hunting for coincidences you'll find them. They both had seven letters in their names each of two vowels and five consonants.

But that aside, it is pretty weird. Mind you, we talk about this as if it was all a matter of chance. The WTC attacks occurring on the very day that (in America) shares it's name with police emergency number wasn't an accident. Also keeping in mind that Oswald didn't actually shoot Kennedy. Perhaps the people who settled on Oswald as a patsy had the same kind of bent for imaginative coincidences that the people who scheduled 9/11 had?

Von Curtis said...

Thank-you Slozo for your kind words - What do you think when I said this on ' The Great Crash begins in September 2009'

'I must say a lot of my friends , family etc have to be hit hard right between the eyes to make them see sense - the way they live is just over the top - they are so wasteful - chuck everything out , don't look after things, buy new all the time and expect everything - they are over the top and the world is supposed to keep them that way - in some ways a good downturn is the only way they will come back down to earth. '

As this lady says a lot of us in our western culture are 'bad apples'
So many don't care.

He did not say "a few bad apples". He insinuated that your ways are organized, methodical and deliberate...

A few bad apples in uniforms ? Hell no !

You are all a basket of rot and decay.

Anonymous said...

From Belgium,

Hmm, belief, no belief, the opposite belief; or even part belief or part non belief, hmm? They tend to meet around the back don’t they? Apart from communists and Trotskyites having more issues with each other than with fascists and Catholics; Protestants; Methodists; Perspirations etc all having more issues with each other than they ever had with Atheists’ what you are proposing does tend to be points along a sliding scale. Where should that point be or should there be no point? Personally, I think this is an argument in favour of creeping Hegelianism. But what would I know, even Bertie Boy had problems coming to terms with it?