Friday, September 26, 2008

Stupid Fonts

Ok, the last post looks retarded with the font issues. Every time I copy text from Microsoft Word in gets all weird on me. Anyone know a way around that?


Ok, I've been reading Charles Sanders Peirce's Some Consequences of Four Incapacities and here are some thoughts I had.

(Look, I realize that there is no explanation of the content of the article, that I give no background information to acclimate you to the discussion. Get over it, I'm that lazy. You get what you get. If you want more info, ask me some questions and I'll either give unsatisfactory answers or none at all. Your lucky day!)

Peirce makes a claim that we have no ability to introspect. If we have no power of introspection, if we cannot know anything without reasoning from external facts, how do we approach religious knowledge that is described as inherently introspective? There are several options: 1. Peirce is wrong about introspection. 2. Religious knowledge is not knowledge after all. 3. Religious knowledge does not come through introspection.

Considering the first: Could Peirce be wrong? Sure, but it sure doesn’t seem like it. He persuasively explains that everything we know is from external facts, down to our very existence. If we do not have introspection about our own being, can we have introspective knowledge of other things?

Second: Perhaps, as many have suggested, religious knowledge is not knowledge after all, but merely delusion or false hope or what have you. This may be so. Perhaps religious knowledge is a hope for knowledge, a desire for something better. This certainly requires a different stance to be taken on how we approach religious knowledge, but does not necessarily make it obsolete or bad.

Third: A more interesting idea to think about. When we as mormons speak of learning things through the Holy Ghost, is it always introspection. Surely not in the cases of inspiration where the faculties of reason are increased, where those under the influence of the spirit are able to quickly put things together. But what of those cases where we just “know”? Where the knowledge comes from the “inside?” Does it really? Or do we approach it externally? Perhaps we’ve been taught that the spirit feels a certain way in certain situations… when we feel this feeling, we attribute it to the spirit, an external fact. Perhaps religious knowledge is never actually introspective the way we think it is…

Peirce makes an interesting point when he argues that emotions are known through external facts as well. Anger, for instance, seems to always be pointed at an object. Do we ever have un-directed anger? Peirce admits that some emotions, melancholy, for instance, are non-directional, but goes on to show that these emotions do not manifest themselves spontaneously but are shown through objects of thought. I feel melancholy ABOUT things in the world, ABOUT my life, ABOUT life. Is it ever just melancholy? Another good case seems to be the existential angst referred to by Sartre, Kierkegaard and others. I’m in no position to fully define this “angst”, neither do I intend to for this line of thought. It has been described as a general feeling of unease, a feeling in inadequacy or a general feeling of meaninglessness in life. Does this manifest itself through objects of thought as well? When and how do I feel the angst?

Peirce says that we discover our own existence through error. It is not until we do something “wrong” that we discover the being that erred. This is interesting in light of Heidegger’s ideas on things being broken. Heidegger argued that we use things as tools, not noticing their qualities or being until they “break.” When things no longer work as usual, when our routine is disturbed, we start to notice the objects themselves, no longer mindlessly using them. Is this how we discover our own being as well? Do we only really discover our being through our being broken? Perhaps this is why we tend to disappear to our consciousness when life is running smoothly and our the fact of our existence (bodily or otherwise) comes forcefully back to us when we run into issues? Is this where the afore-mentioned angst steps in? When our existence breaks? All of a sudden we become an “I”, as in “I’m sick,” “I hurt,” “I screwed up,” or even “I don’t know why I’m here (existence, not location)”

Friday, September 19, 2008


I lost a friend today.

I was not friends with Mike Hess for long, I never had his cell phone number and I never even added him as a friend on facebook. We were "just" coworkers who joked around a few times a week. All the same, I treasured my friendship with him. Today, as I sat on the lawn, enjoying the glorious sunshine and reading Terry Pratchett, I realized something important.

Last night, Mike and I both lived and loved. We cared about people, we enjoyed life and we smiled. Two days ago, we laughed together and joked about burnt food, 50 cent raises and grocery. Last week, he beamed and told me about how he finally reached level 70. Three months ago, Mike said hi to me in his particularly "Mike-ish" way and made me particularly happy.

And now? Mike still lives and loves. He still cares, he enjoys and he certainly smiles. And so must I. I feel no remorse for Mike's passing. He lived well and died well. I do not mourn his loss. I feel pain that he is no longer here, I wish to share that with all those that knew him. To be true to Mike, we must be Mike for someone who never got the chance to meet him. We must smile, we must greet, we must sing and talk and laugh and joke like Mike. We have the chance to affect people the way he did us. May we never forget that.

Thank you Mike, for showing me how to treat people. Thanks for the happiness. I'm glad you hit level 70 before you left, I'm glad you found love and married before you left, I'm glad I met you before you left, and I hope there are others wherever you are that can meet you. Keep burnin' the butterscotch!

See you later!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Recent Paper

I've been trying to get informed about politics lately so as to be able to make an informed decision in the upcoming election. I figure if I'm gonna vote I may as well know what on earth is going on and what my options are...

Simultaneously, my first major assignment in my writing class was to write a quick one-page paper that makes and argument. The papers are not masterpieces, just quickies to give the professor an idea of what he's dealing with in his students.

In light of a recent interview I saw between Bill O'Reilly and Barack Obama, I chose to write my argument about income redistribution. I'm not sure I agree with myself, but I haven't satisfactorally answered my own questions brought up in the paper, so I thought I'd post it for all to see (that is, the select few that occasionally check this recently scant blog.) What do you think? Am I off base in my concerns? Why?

Without further ado:

Income redistribution has recently arisen as a topic of debate. Proponents of the system suggest taxing the rich at a considerably higher rate than others in order to reallocate their wealth to the lower and middle classes. Income redistribution, although noble in its aims, is not just. This oft-nicknamed “Robin Hood” procedure seems like a great way to help the less fortunate, but, like its namesake, eventually boils down to stealing from the rich.

There are many wealthy people in the United States. On the other hand, there is a large contingent of Americans that fall under the poverty line. Many have suggested that the rich can afford to be taxed more heavily in order to assist the under privileged. To tax the rich at a greater rate than others, however, reeks of theft. Those voluntarily giving to the poor should be lauded for their altruism, but if a mob were to come and take money from them, even if the mob were to give its spoils to the poor and hungry, it would turn the “givers” into victims. Onlookers would be outraged to hear of such an event and would rightly clamor for justice.

Similarly, if the middle and lower class were to decide to forcibly take money from the upper class, although through democratically chosen and seemingly legal taxation, does not the same ethical problem arise? The rich cannot be forced to “donate” their money to others, no matter how needy the poor may seem. It is their choice to do what they please with their property.

Simply put, the rich cannot be over-taxed to benefit the lower and middle classes. We are beyond our rights to impel them to give aid if they are not willing to do so. Income redistribution, no matter how much it helps, cannot be ethically upheld.