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mdegges

Mysticism, (Huh), What is it Good For? Absolutely Nothing (But Relativ

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I stole the title of this thread from a Canadian blogger, but only because it's so darn cute, and also because the blogger who used it didn't actually answer the question posed in the title.. (or to be fair, he did- but I don't agree with his answer).

At best a mystical (or even trans-mystical) state reveals a deep Compassion/Love/Awareness of the larger process of Life and its creatures and their inherent moral and existential value.

'Inherent moral value'.. now there's a phrase that would make Rand roll over in her grave.

But that glimpse/mystical vista needs to be practiced in the world in some way that actually practically makes that vision become real and concrete. Not just going for another round of such experiences 6 months later when you have a weekend free from work, as a kind of spiritual release valve or “timeout” from the brutalities of existence.

No, I don't agree with Dierkes' conclusion, but I do wonder: has mysticism (or religion) done any good? I don't just mean personal experiences, either (like people seeing the light, or praying and having things go their way). No, I wonder if there's any good left in the field.. or rather, was it ever there to begin with?

I've read Hitchen's famous book, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, and it's famous for a good reason.. but what's the other side? Absolutely nothing, or relatively something?

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All that mysticism crap exists to take away the suffering that comes with wanting things. By deconstructing their minds, they stop caring about things, and that leads them to not worrying about anything. They act like its a mystery, but it isn't.

I learned a few things from the Dao De Jing though. Mostly I learned about non-linguistic thought and being efficient at work. The reason that this is a mystical text is because it would be hard to prove to your that the Dao De Jing was talking about any of that stuff at all.

That is the only mystical text that I have read that is worth reading. The Bhuddists, Gnostics, and Hindus are bankrupt. Neo-Pagans and Satanists (ALL TYPES) are totally fucked. Stay away from people who believe in magic. They follow no rules.

Edited by Hairnet

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Historically mysticism and religion was an early attempt by man to develop a philosophy and explanation of the world. So that is a positive in the historical context.

But mysticism as a concept is willful evasion of reality. If someone gets something good out of decidedly ignoring the facts and inserting their wishes (or someone else’s), any positive would have to be accidental – A broken clock is right twice a day syndrome.

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Well, the Hitchens book is about religion, not mysticism. They're not the same thing, so, if you're looking for counter-arguments against his position, there are plenty.

Religious people help others, in the name of their religion, all the time. That help is "good" for the people being helped. But it's not good for the helpers (not because helping others is bad, but because acting for irrational reasons, no matter what the action, is bad).

By Objectivist standards, religion isn't good for anything, because we define the good to mean "that which furthers an individual's own life qua man". But Hitchens wasn't an Objectivist, he was an altruist. By his standards, religion didn't poison everything. Religion does plenty of good, in the altruist sense of convincing or forcing people to sacrifice for others.

Secular altruists don't have a case against religion, because their morality is mystical too (attempts to rationalize their mystical beliefs notwithstanding).

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 Neo-Pagans and Satanists (ALL TYPES) are totally fucked. Stay away from people who believe in magic. They follow no rules.

Actually, I think there are some Satanists (if you look at it from a philosophical angle) who're struggling blindly to rebel against the noose of altruism; they just haven't identified exactly why.

Look at it this way.  Let's say you're raised seriously, fanatically Christian, and spend your entire childhood thinking that whatever God says to do is good and whatever He says not to do is evil.

Then, as a teenager, if you had a sudden epiphany in which you realized that maybe God ISN'T good and that, if "me" is the standard of good and "non-me" is the standard of evil; whoever that applies to will be perfectly good, by definition!!  (That standard could be applied to Hitler; if so then he was a saint)

So after that, if you were to suddenly start reading the Satanic Bible and really getting into Satan- not as the icon of evil, but as the icon of selfishness and freedom- but you couldn't quite put your finger on WHY you felt that selfishness and freedom were so important; all you could really articulate would be that it's wrong to be a slave and wrong to be a slave-driver; I think you'd be struggling in the right direction.

 

(Don't get me wrong; Satanism, in all its variants, is an evil philosophy.  But I've personally known people who've adopted it as part of a blindly groping, confused sort of rebellion against mysticism-altruism-collectivism)

Other than that, no; I don't think religions are good for anything.  Any short-term benefit (charity, et cetera) are absolutely outweighed by their anti-reason influence.

People who believe in magick have abandoned their minds and in that aspect, each and every one of them are equally guilty.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

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  When I realized that the Christian god was evil, I decided that Christians couldn't know anything about a God and I became a deist (for like three months). Then I looked into Objectivism. 

 

  Anton LaVey's satanism combines some very superficial themes from Netzsche and Rand with a focus on secular ritual and occultism. It was a bad idea and I think it was poorly executed. The other satanists get worse from their, diving into a serious belief in magic and conspiracy theories. 

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Well, the Hitchens book is about religion, not mysticism. They're not the same thing, so, if you're looking for counter-arguments against his position, there are plenty.

Religious people help others, in the name of their religion, all the time. That help is "good" for the people being helped. But it's not good for the helpers (not because helping others is bad, but because acting for irrational reasons, no matter what the action, is bad).

By Objectivist standards, religion isn't good for anything, because we define the good to mean "that which furthers an individual's own life qua man". But Hitchens wasn't an Objectivist, he was an altruist. By his standards, religion didn't poison everything. Religion does plenty of good, in the altruist sense of convincing or forcing people to sacrifice for others.

Secular altruists don't have a case against religion, because their morality is mystical too (attempts to rationalize their mystical beliefs notwithstanding).

Wow, when did I post this? It's pretty silly.

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How has your position changed?

It hasn't changed. I knew that the case against religion is epistemological, not moral, back then too. I don't know why I said that secular altruists don't have a case against religion.

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  When I realized that the Christian god was evil, I decided that Christians couldn't know anything about a God and I became a deist (for like three months). Then I looked into Objectivism. 

 

  Anton LaVey's satanism combines some very superficial themes from Netzsche and Rand with a focus on secular ritual and occultism. It was a bad idea and I think it was poorly executed. The other satanists get worse from their, diving into a serious belief in magic and conspiracy theories. 

 

Humanists made a religious ethics secular.

LaVey turned a secular ethics religious.

 

Apparently history doesn't repeat, it mirrors.  :stuart:

 

Also thats two things stolen, political (tarians) and moral maxims, any takers for the metaphysics epistemology or aesthetics?

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Anton LaVey's satanism combines some very superficial themes from Netzsche and Rand with a focus on secular ritual and occultism. It was a bad idea and I think it was poorly executed. The other satanists get worse from their, diving into a serious belief in magic and conspiracy theories. 

Indeed.

The proto-philosophy, itself, is evil; some of its practicioners are sadly and somewhat understandably misguided.  (I guess a nearly perfect test for which Satanists are struggling to identify their beliefs as Objectivism and which aren't, would be to simply introduce them to it and watch their reaction)

 

Humanists made a religious ethics secular.

LaVey turned a secular ethics religious.

 

Apparently history doesn't repeat, it mirrors.  :stuart:

 

Also thats two things stolen, political (tarians) and moral maxims, any takers for the metaphysics epistemology or aesthetics?

Metaphysics/Epistemology- Intelligent Design

Aesthetics- Rap (stolen pretense of music)

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I just heard Ricky Gervais with a great line on God:

-I was raised religious. I also believed in Santa as a kid.

-So, what did you stop believing in first, God or Santa?

-God. Santa took me a couple years longer, because at least he is possible.

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It hasn't changed. I knew that the case against religion is epistemological, not moral, back then too. I don't know why I said that secular altruists don't have a case against religion.

 

You got it right first time, I thought. The epistemology of each (of a mystic and of a secular humanist) is so deeply flawed, it results in the moralities, respectively, of mystical-altruism and collectivist-altruism. Rand showed how both sides - mystical intrinsicist, and skeptic - are different sides of the "same fraudulent coin", with the latter merely a disappointed mystic. Roughly: when knowledge is not "revealed" to one, the false alternative is that knowledge is not possible (except to the 'collective authority').

Historically, societies and individuals have bounced between the two perceived poles, never discerning their commonality..

Edited by whYNOT

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Metaphysics/Epistemology- Intelligent Design

Aesthetics- Rap (stolen pretense of music)

 

  I don't think that is a fair description of rap music at all. Just because you don't like the sounds doesn't mean it is not music.

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  I don't think that is a fair description of rap music at all. Just because you don't like the sounds doesn't mean it is not music.

 I know. . . But can you find this alleged music?  =P

Nothing against people who like rap, but it's sort of something against people who like rap.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

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I forget why I originally created this thread. I think at the time I was wondering 'why does religion still exist, what is its purpose, is any part of it GOOD or worth redeeming' etc. I think I also wanted to understand the huge personality differences between theists and atheists, like 'what makes man A need religion and man B shun it in all forms, never giving it any thought or time of day.' In regards to this last part, I found some useful information in Philosophy: Who Needs It. There are also some good posts about this in Christianity and Objectivism.

 

Edit: More on these personality differences. In general I've found two categories of people: 1. those who are arrogant, abrupt, opinionated about everything, threatened by other points of view, and unable/unwilling to fully explain or validate their points of view, which they cling to so desperately- what I would call closed minded (and Rand calls passive). Then there are those who are more open (what Rand calls active). 2. These people are eager to learn and hear other points of view, listen- accept or reject- and give reasons why, able to understand and admit when they're wrong about an issue, and most importantly, they actually care about the truth no matter how small it may be.

 

You'd think that people in category 2. would be atheists and in 1. would be theists, but I usually find the opposite is true. I don't know if atheism is the cause (ie: is an important human element missing?), or if it just attracts a certain type of person. (whyNot said somewhere on here that theists have character. Maybe that is the more accurate word to describe the difference between 1. and 2.)

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  If you look at the "New Atheist" authors and see how smug they are it isn't uprising that so many people who are influenced by them are similar. 

 

  As far as rap music goes, its just as mixed as any other genre in terms of quality. My favorite rapper right now is Kendrick Lamar. The whole album "Good Kid M,A,A,D City" is pretty good, it is a concept album about his experience of his brother was murdered and fighting the urge to kill the guy who did it. (He didn't... he became a famous rapper instead). 

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As far as rap music goes, its just as mixed as any other genre in terms of quality.

 I would dispute that it's only as bad as other genres but, yes; some music from each and every genre can hardly be defined as music.

I'm actually hugely partial to classic rock, except for The Policemen, whose songs strike me as random notes and noises without discernible pattern.  Also, when "We are never ever ever getting back together" was on the radio twelve times an hour, it made me wonder about Van Gogh. . .

Anyway.  Huge tangent.

 

Mdegges, are you really implying some correlation between closed-minded people who aren't interested in truth, and atheism?

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I was raised a theist. After high school I told my self that college would probably teach me a great many facts after which I could make an informed decision about religion. Working on a Ph.D requires ones total focus, so it was only after that that I could think deeply about religion. For some time I felt that religion was useful for two reasons: It provides a ready set of moral values, and 2) It provides a social group. Both of these are quite appealing.

Ultimately, I decided that a rational morality was possible independent of God. Also, I didn't need to socialize as much as in my youth. Religion lost its hold on me. My children thought religious meetings were stupid. (They are.)

In conclusion, religion served some purposes for me, but none survived the test of time. Religion served as early training in argumentation and critical thinking. However, all of the time I spent on religion could have been spent on better activities.

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Maybe the correlation is just between closed-mindedNESS and people- which in my experience has been mainly atheists.

I am sympathetic to your claim that it is mainly atheists that are closed-minded. Perhaps that particular attribute applies to "humans" who act defensively while lacking a good argument. It is remarkable how few direct answers there are to your post.

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I am sympathetic to your claim that it is mainly atheists that are closed-minded. Perhaps that particular attribute applies to "humans" who act defensively while lacking a good argument. It is remarkable how few direct answers there are to your post.

I didn't respond because I agree. And I'm proud to be closed minded. I despise people who's minds are open to mysticism.

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 It is remarkable how few direct answers there are to your post.

I didn't respond further because, to be completely honest, I find the assertion offensive.

 

As someone who struggled for years to realize that morality is separate from and independent of God (and several more years to realize that God probably doesn't exist), to imply that such a conviction correlates with intellectual SLOTH is, well, offensive.

I didn't care to start an argument over it because I don't think that's what Mdegges actually means.

 

But if you'd like a direct response then mine would be this:

I WORKED my frontal lobe OFF in order to figure out the logic behind atheism.  If I were closed-minded I would still be a Christian, because that was the path of least resistance for me.

 

And while I can only speak for myself, I would guess that this holds true for the majority of nonbelievers as well.

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Perhaps that particular attribute applies to "humans" who act defensively while lacking a good argument.

That definitely has some merit to it.

I only think we should be careful not to confuse those who do have a reasoned argument, but not in explicitly technical terms, with those who are deliberately evade.

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