Sunday, January 23, 2011

Maxims

I have always believed that it is important to have rules to live by - a set of principles that I can fall back on whenever things get hazy or complicated. A core group of ideas which permeate and affect every decision I make. These maxims I have developed slowly over time, morphing and changing and adding to them as time goes on. I decided that it is probably worthwhile to put these maxims to paper, so to speak, so that I might be able to rely on them in a larger fashion. Are they all perfectly formed? No. Do they have flaws? I'm sure. But this is less for an audience and more for my own use. Even so, feel free to read and consider them as you please.

1. Act in the name of truth, consequences be damned. This is what I call "hope".

2. My favorite color is grey, in a metaphorical sense. Often, the middle ground is the best place to be.

3. Life, as a whole, is full of pain and suffering and sadness. Within this negativity, the goal is to find happiness and latch onto it.

4. If you cannot admit that you might be wrong, you aren’t worth having a conversation with.

5. There are no absolutes; everything has an exception - ironically, this included.

6. Everyone has a bone to pick with something. Most people are afraid to voice it. This is closely related to #1 and #3.

7. My heart's desire is to love and be loved, passionately and freely.

And so on...

12 comments:

  1. 1. personal truth, community truth, or Absolute Truth? Seems like the first two lead to chaos while acting in the name of Absolute Truth leads to, well, Truth. This is what we call "reality." Oh by the way, that would also make this contradict number 5.

    2. Not when the "middle ground" allows for a contradiction. Basic logic tells us there is a "Law of the Excluded Middle" that we just can't get around (bummer!)

    4. Do you think you could be wrong about this?

    5. This is called a self-refuting statement ... which means that there are, in fact, absolutes ... Like this one: "Maxim number 5. is false"

    Three out of seven ain't bad though!

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  2. Anyone who hides behind "Anonymous" rather than making their identity known loses a great deal of respect in my book. And it means I don't really care about what you have to say. But, in order to act charitably toward your "objections"...

    1. I've had many discussions about truth in this space. Feel free to read them. Long story short, I don't believe that truth is always absolute, and I've made that clear many times. Feel free to disagree; won't bother me at all. Your disagreement doesn't do anything to hurt this maxim...and the maxim certainly doesn't contradict #5. Nice try though.

    2. If you read maxim #5 (which you claim to have done), you would realize that I allow for exceptions; the middle ground isn't always ideal. However, more often than not, staying closer to the middle rather than extremes will create a better result.

    4. Yes. I fully allow that I might be wrong about everything I believe. Doesn't change my passion about my beliefs though.

    5. Self refuting? Not at all. If you read the whole maxim (which I can't believe you didn't...poor reading comprehension on your part), you would see that I allow for exceptions to the "no absolutes" rule; i.e. some things are absolute. Not many though. And the goal of a maxim is to find a rule to live by which applies more often than not. It won't always apply...like I said, everything has an exception.

    Good try, but you fail in your attempt to 'one-up' me. In your rush to try and out-intellect me, you end up looking petty and jealous. Maybe next time you might think about not hiding behind an anonymous tag while trying to shoot somebody else down.

    (If that was Bob, then no worries about the anonymous thing. If not, man up.)

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  3. Oops! My apologies. I'm on a different computer and was not logged into Google when I commented. I didn't realize it had been posted as "Anonymous" until I read your response. Don't blame you for the slam about that but I can assure you it was unintentional. The last thing I care about is identifying myself in discussions like these.

    1. Not to belabor it but you may have missed my point. I actually agree with your maxim -- if truth is absolute. But, knowing that you have previously claimed adherence to a relativistic "truth," I thought I'd just point out the difference between relative truth and absolute truth. With a relative truth, we can pursue whatever we choose and claim it's good because it's "our truth." That leads to chaos. My contention is that Absolute Truth does exist and that to align ourselves to it is to conform to reality. Seems to me that should be our goal, "consequences be damned."

    2. Your maxim says: "the middle ground is the best place to be." Your response to my comment says: "the middle ground isn't always ideal." Not sure how to reconcile those two statements.

    4. Me either.

    5. Again, the maxim says: "There are no absolutes, everything has an exception," while your response to my comment says, "some things are absolute, not many though." Do you not see this is a contradiction? The contradiction arises because the maxim is self-refuting (and therefore false).

    So anyway, I'm not trying to "one-up," or "out-intellect" you. "Petty and jealous"? C'mon. I hope those were just angry responses to the anonymous thing. It seems to me that if you are really adhering to Maxim Number 1, you would see the challenges here as an attempt to hone both our thinking in the pursuit of truth. No need to be so defensive.

    Cheers ...

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  4. Your writing style made me think it was you. So no worries. But my word choice was definitely geared toward the "anonymous" thing, as you hadn't identified yourself.

    And I'm not being defensive...if I know who is challenging me, I welcome it. If it is done anonymously, I reject it. Pretty simple.

    With regard to the maxims...

    1. We aren't going to agree on this one. We've already discussed relative truth versus absolute truth to a great extent, and I doubt that either of us will change our minds. Which is fine.

    2. Perhaps a simple addition of a word to the maxim will suffice to reconcile what I meant. See the post above for the changed wording.

    4. I wouldn't expect anything less.

    5. It isn't a contradiction if you read the entire maxim. You keep quoting part of the whole, but leaving out an important piece. To paraphrase my maxim: "Everything has an exception, including this; there are a few exceptions to the rule that there are no exceptions. Therefore, some things do not have exceptions, they are absolute."

    I hope that makes sense; that's what I meant all along.

    Anyway, if anyone else had made the comment you did, it likely wouldn't have been for the same reasons you did. In other words, I appreciate your motives. But if someone else had said what you said, it likely would have been to cause trouble or be petty. Hopefully that makes sense as well.

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  5. No worries here either. I detest the 'anonymous' commenters who show up on my blog at times, so I get it.

    1. Yes we'll have to disagree ... UNLESS Truth is absolute, of course :-)

    2. Fair enough.

    5. Sounds like a convoluted way of getting around the fact that there are either absolutes or there aren't -- like you're trying to have it both ways. In effect: "There are no absolutes, except for the ones I agree with."

    I appreciate you cutting me slack in the motive department. My ONLY intent is to make all involved think "better" and more clearly.

    All the best ...

    (BTW, CCS came from behind to beat CHCA in a game that went down to the wire last night. Very exciting and satisfying to win in their gym)

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  6. One more thing though. I have to point out that our previous discussions on absolutes had to do with moral relativism. Your claim in Maxim 1. is about Objective (Absolute) Truth, not objective morality. This is a far different topic.

    You cannot escape the existence of objective truth. The definition of truth is "correspondence to reality." To deny the existence of absolute truth is to deny the real world.

    As a Christian, it also runs up against the statements of Christ that he came to "testify to the truth" and claimed that he was "THE way, THE truth, and THE life." He didn't say, "A" truth, he said "The" truth.

    So, was he referring to a relative truth or an absolute truth when he said that? There certainly isn't any Biblical support for the concept of relative truth. Such an idea wasn't even in their heads.

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  7. 1. That is more or less what we are disagreeing about. So we will have to disagree.

    5. I'm not trying to get around anything. It is a fact of life that some things are absolute, while many more are not. In my experience, I have found that the things which are absolute are the exceptions and fairly rare, rather than being the rule.

    By the way, I'm enjoying the fact that since your original "3 for 7" comment, I am up to 5 for 7. Cheers.

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  8. You evaded the direct question about Christ’s truth claims, but that aside …

    I admire your spunk and confidence, but I think you’re giving yourself a little too much credit re: the “5 for 7” tally. I’m not sure which 5 you think you’ve defended but my “3 for 7” count was about your original set of maxims. Since you’ve change at least one of them (#2), you can hardly take credit for having defended that one.

    1. I guess you think you’ve defended this one but the fact remains that it can only be valid if truth is absolute … and I’ve already said I agree with you if truth is absolute. Unfortunately, it cannot be defended if truth is relative. This is not my opinion, it is an unmistakeable conclusion of basic logic. If everyone is acting in the name of a different version of “truth,” I don’t think we could call it hope … we would have to call it chaos (as I said at the outset). So, just saying we “disagree” is not a sufficient defense of an illogical statement regarding relative “truth.”

    2. I’ve already pointed out the direct contradiction you created between your original maxim and your defense of the original. That’s why you added the word ‘often.’ Maybe you didn’t realize that the “simple addition of a word," completely changes the sense of the original claim, but it does.

    I want to be fair about this one. Maybe you’re thinking politics. If so, our differences would just be subjective, and so be it. But what I’m talking about is the fact that propositions regarding ethics and truth do not have a “middle ground.” To say, “The Earth orbits the Sun,” is either true or false. To say, “Killing innocent, defenseless human beings without justification,” is either true or false. These kinds of things have no “middle ground.”

    5. This one is getting a bit on the ridiculous side. Let me break down your original maxim:

    ”There are no absolutes …” ‘No’ means none, zero, nada, which makes this phrase an absolute claim. When this absolute claim is applied to itself, it is a contradiction, thereby rendering this phrase “self-refuting.”

    ”Everything has an exception …” The word “everything” also makes this an absolute claim which makes it self-refuting and meaningless.

    I pointed out that combining two self-refuting statements doesn’t save the maxim, so you resorted to: “Everything has an exception, including this; there are a few exceptions to the rule that there are no exceptions. Therefore, some things do not have exceptions, they are absolute.”

    But there is an easier way to phrase this convoluted statement. It goes something like this: “There are absolutes.”

    Please notice that none of this is my “opinion.” Each one of these is just a plain dissection of the claims you made with respect to basic logic.

    The fact that you seem awfully reluctant to admit these are wrong (especially #5!), makes me wonder how seriously you really take maxim #4.

    Cheers ...

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  9. Honestly, Bob, it seems like you care way too much about this.

    Of course I am reluctant to admit that I am wrong. I don't believe that I am wrong, so why would I admit that? Doesn't make any sense. Seems like you still aren't reading my maxims very well. #4 implies that I should allow for the possibility of my being wrong...which is why I haven't slammed any of your critiques. By changing the wording of #2, I allowed that my original wording wasn't ideal. You can't have it both ways...either you can claim that I changed maxim #2, or you can claim that I don't take #4 seriously. Pick one.

    I find it funny that "none of [what you write] is [your] 'opinion'", as if I should just concede that everything you write is correct. It seems like you need to take a look at maxim #4 yourself and think about what it means...and the fact that in this context it is beginning to apply to you.

    For the record:

    1. I'm not counting this as one that I have defended as "true". Instead, I recognize that we disagree about it...and I am comfortable with that fact. It appears that you are not, as you keep coming back to it and trying to prove your point.

    2. I did change the wording, admitting that my original phrasing did not convey what I meant in the best way possible. I think it is well within my rights to alter word choice as I see fit, considering that I am always looking to improve the rules and maxims I live by.

    Of course scientific ideas and simple addition have a right or wrong answer...clearly, those aren't the things I am referring to with the maxim. Why would I need a maxim to govern my relationship with algebra or to define my belief that ethnic cleansing is wrong? The simple answer is that I don't, and that these are not things I am referring to with #2.

    5. So you're bothered by the phrasing and word choice. Okay, that's fine. Again, I am not bothered by disagreement. What I am bothered by is those who cannot accept disagreement and instead feel the need to push and push and push to make others agree with them. Unfortunately, repetition and loudness don't sway me. The phrasing of this maxim is completely based on simple wordplay; the goal of the wording isn't to have it hold up in court. Rather, the goal is to convey a certain idea, an idea that I think the phrasing does uphold. And again, if you disagree, so be it.

    The point of these maxims isn't to convince you or anyone else to follow them or hold them dear like I do. If you disagree, fine. Like I've said many times, that doesn't bother me, and I am willing to listen to what you have to say about them, precisely because I take maxim #4 so seriously. But #4 does not say that I have to cringe in the face of my detractors...rather, it means that I should listen to them with an open mind, consider what they have to say, and go from there. As such, I chose to reword maxim #2 based on a reasonable objection you raised concerning it's phrasing. I chose to reword it in order to achieve a maxim closer to the meaning I originally had in mind. If you want to nitpick about phrasing or wordplay, fine, but you aren't going to get under my skin or enlighten me to your line of thinking. I respect you and I appreciate the time you take in reading and considering my words, but at some point you need to let disagreement be disagreement and move on from there.

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  10. Kevin,
    Actually, I don't care all that much about your maxims or about proving anything to you. This isn't about you; it's about relativism. I think you're a smart guy and I like you so I thought I would point out the logical flaws I saw here with the hope that you and others would recognize the foolishness of relativism. That isn't "nitpicking," it's adhering to maxim #1.

    But ... It's your blog so I'll butt out. Sorry to have offended.

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  11. I never said you offended. Rather, I have repeatedly stated my appreciation for your bringing your point of view to the table.

    But, bringing up the same point over and over gets us nowhere. I would hope that once we acknowledge each other's views and disagreement about them we can step back and move forward rather than hashing out the same point over and over again.

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    ReplyDelete