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But, even given all of this, the point is that those tribal societies were brutal to live under. And, btw, what happened in Apocalytpo looked worse than the Inquisition by quite a bit.

Lessee...

Mayan= tied down, chest cut open, heart ripped out

Inquisition (lets say Spanish instead of Medieval since there were two distinct)= hung, joints dislocated, water torture, racked, then burned alive.

Frankly, I would rather be killed by the Mayans. :)

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Lessee...

Mayan= tied down, chest cut open, heart ripped out

Inquisition (lets say Spanish instead of Medieval since there were two distinct)= hung, joints dislocated, water torture, racked, then burned alive.

Frankly, I would rather be killed by the Mayans. :)

Okay, it's hard to tell which was worse, but that was not the thrust of my argument.

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It concretizes the consciousness referred to as Eywa as a physical being. The information exchange along the root system is explicitly identified in the film as analogous to the actions of axons and synapses in the human brain but at a scale several orders of magnitude larger.

But Eywa is another concrete, not an abstraction. Phrased differently, my question is: what is the purpose of describing this pheonomenon, in terms of the theme of Avatar?

It does, from an O'ist point of view. For others, religion/Spirituality provides comfort and sense of purpose. This is simply the way things are.

Strictly speaking, this is true, since "comfort" and "a sense of purpose" are subjective, emotional terms (someone could also claim that using drugs provides him with "comfort", and this would be true in the same sense). The real question is whether religion/spirituality (spirituality in the non-secular sense) can be good for a man's life, and the Objectivist position is that it can't.

Edited by Tenzing_Shaw
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The real question is whether religion/spirituality (spirituality in the non-secular sense) can be good for a man's life, and the Objectivist position is that it can't.

About religion you are correct however you are wrong regarding spirituality. While many seek spirituality in irrational ways true spirituality involves inner seeking of the truest self.

In The Fountainhead for instance, Roark was described as being very spiritual when being talked into doing the Stoddard Temple.

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But Eywa is another concrete, not an abstraction. Phrased differently, my question is: what is the purpose of describing this pheonomenon, in terms of the theme of Avatar?

To establish the premise that ignoring it is nonobjective! The corporate type calling the shots was willing to ignore inconvenient truths. Fortunately Jake Sully was there to speak truth to power. That means Jake is also the avatar of objectivity!

The incoherence of the film is subtle and many-layered.

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About religion you are correct however you are wrong regarding spirituality. While many seek spirituality in irrational ways true spirituality involves inner seeking of the truest self.

Yes, I know:

The real question is whether religion/spirituality (spirituality in the non-secular sense) can be good for a man's life, and the Objectivist position is that it can't.

(Emphasis added)

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To establish the premise that ignoring it is nonobjective! The corporate type calling the shots was willing to ignore inconvenient truths. Fortunately Jake Sully was there to speak truth to power. That means Jake is also the avatar of objectivity!

OK, I think this is a theme in Avatar, but I don't think that what you said is the whole story. If this were the only purpose of that concrete, it would not in any way explain why this concrete was chosen as opposed to the countless others that could have fulfilled the role. In other words, why Eywa and a biological network instead of anything else? Another way of saying this is to ask "what is it that is being ignored, and why is this significant?" I say that it is the (supposed) power of unexploited nature that is being "ignored". This would explain the particular nature of the concrete chosen (a connection between the Na'vi and nature on Pandora), and would connect this side-theme with the main theme. Otherwise, you would have to say that these are two unrelated themes.

Isn't this element of the film just representing the common environmentalist claim that their opponents are "ignoring" the supposed scientific facts which support their position?

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OK, I think this is a theme in Avatar, but I don't think that what you said is the whole story. If this were the only purpose of that concrete, it would not in any way explain why this concrete was chosen as opposed to the countless others that could have fulfilled the role. In other words, why Eywa and a biological network instead of anything else? Another way of saying this is to ask "what is it that is being ignored, and why is this significant?" I say that it is the (supposed) power of unexploited nature that is being "ignored". This would explain the particular nature of the concrete chosen (a connection between the Na'vi and nature on Pandora), and would connect this side-theme with the main theme. Otherwise, you would have to say that these are two unrelated themes.

Isn't this element of the film just representing the common environmentalist claim that their opponents are "ignoring" the supposed scientific facts which support their position?

In mystical terms, it would be an assertion of the intrinsic worth of the thing.

It had not entered my mind before that the idiot corporate guy could be taken as stand-in for atheistic disregard of religion. There is a good reason for that. It was not a symbolic stand-in of Moses returning with a pair of tablets that was disregarded but one several of his own scientist employees he blew off. The third person perspective the audience has presents things for objective consideration; objectively he blew off facts not revelations.

If Cameron really knew what he was doing he would have had Grace (Sigourney Weaver's scientist character) confront the boss with her hair all turned white and bearing some sort of token while raving about having encountered Pandora's God or something. Then the final exile of humanity from Pandora would symbolize the Isrealites cast into the desert for worshipping a false idol.

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It had not entered my mind before that the idiot corporate guy could be taken as stand-in for atheistic disregard of religion. There is a good reason for that. It was not a symbolic stand-in of Moses returning with a pair of tablets that was disregarded but one several of his own scientist employees he blew off. The third person perspective the audience has presents things for objective consideration; objectively he blew off facts not revelations.

I don't think I have mentioned religion thus far, and I certainly don't believe that Avatar seeks to promote religion (or only in the sense that religion and environmentalism are related examples of the same set of basic errors). I am curious whether you would agree with the final sentence of my last post: "Isn't this element of the film just representing the common environmentalist claim that their opponents are "ignoring" the supposed scientific facts which support their position?" In that case, it might be better to call the Eywa phenomenon pseudoscience, which I have been considering as a form of mysticism (distinct from religion).

If Cameron really knew what he was doing he would have had Grace (Sigourney Weaver's scientist character) confront the boss with her hair all turned white and bearing some sort of token while raving about having encountered Pandora's God or something. Then the final exile of humanity from Pandora would symbolize the Isrealites cast into the desert for worshipping a false idol.

Yes, this would have been much more consistent, but Cameron is a modern environmentalist, and the modern environmentalist movement is not that consistent (yet).

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I don't think I have mentioned religion thus far, and I certainly don't believe that Avatar seeks to promote religion (or only in the sense that religion and environmentalism are related examples of the same set of basic errors). I am curious whether you would agree with the final sentence of my last post: "Isn't this element of the film just representing the common environmentalist claim that their opponents are "ignoring" the supposed scientific facts which support their position?" In that case, it might be better to call the Eywa phenomenon pseudoscience, which I have been considering as a form of mysticism (distinct from religion).

The environmentalists' pseudoscience is not simply being ignored, it is being actively refuted. A valid symbolic correspondence would have corporate boss guy at least considering and then arguing against the scientist's conclusions. Maybe in Cameron's opinion there is a correspondence, but it is a subjective impression not an objective evaluation of what is actually happening. It is a poor and unpersuasive symbol that only works for the already converted.

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The environmentalists' pseudoscience is not simply being ignored, it is being actively refuted. A valid symbolic correspondence would have corporate boss guy at least considering and then arguing against the scientist's conclusions. Maybe in Cameron's opinion there is a correspondence, but it is a subjective impression not an objective evaluation of what is actually happening.

Well, there is a precise correspondence to the way most modern environmentalists in fact do "argue" with their opponents. They insist that the scientific facts are on their side, and accuse their opponents of ignoring them out of blind greed, while completely disregarding serious opposing arguments. This is exactly what happens in Avatar.

It is a poor and unpersuasive symbol that only works for the already converted.

You will get no argument from me there. It is poor and unpersuasive because modern environmentalism is poor and unpersuasive.

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That depends on how much further the representation of God goes beyond being merely the characteristic of a "real person". That also depends on whether you can define the concept God at all. In your hypothetical, what are all of the characteristics of the God you are talking about, and what are all the characteristics of the "real person" representing him in the movie? Come, fill out some context for me. Cameron gave me about 2 1/2 hours of context to go by, you are only giving me one sentence. :)

OK, here goes...

We are in the year 2110. The world is divided into two great cultures, the Alphas and the Omegas. The Alphas are pretty much like today's Americans but are 100% secular and capitalist. The Omegas live in tribes and do not have much material wealth, but are shown as having a happy and idyllic existence. They spend much of their waking time performing an activity known as "submitting," which consists of looking toward a certain point in the sky and waving their hands in circles. It is explained that this allows them to connect to entities known as the Shapes, which give them various benefits.

By submitting to the Shape of Health, for example, the Omegas can keep their bodies fit and cure their diseases. By submitting to the Shape of Plenty, they can dispel their hunger. By sumitting to the Shape of Art, they learn to hear the Song of the Trees and to appreciate the beauty of their surroundings. By submitting to the Shape of Knowledge, they gain wisdom about the world and come to understand things in a way that the Alphas have yet to learn ... And so on, with a number of other Shapes.

All these Shapes are themselves said to submit to the Shape of Love, which is the highest of the Shapes and the one from which all the other Shapes derive their powers.

The Alphas fly many space missions, and one of them happens to be in the direction in which the Omegas always look when submitting. When approaching a planet, the crew of this mission detects a great amount of electromagnetic radiation emitted from the planet towards Earth. (Why they didn't detect the radiation on Earth in the first place is left as a plot hole.) When they land, they are greeted by a female figure who introduces herself as the Shape of Romance. They subsequently meet many other Shapes on the planet, but cavalierly dismiss any possibility that they might have anything to do with what they consider to be the Omegas' superstition. The Shapes have a human form but are about ten times as tall as the Alphas and are always depicted in brilliant colors.

Eventually, the crew members get to enter the headquarters of the Shapes, where they see the Shape of Love sitting in a large control room and giving orders to other Shapes. The Shape of Love is a hundred times as tall as the Alphas and has a booming voice; he is so bright that the Alphas can only look at him in tinted glasses. The control room has millions of monitors in it, and the Alphas are surprised to find that each of them displays a live feed of what a human on Earth is doing. The monitors showing Alphas are black-and-white while the monitors showing Omegas are color. There are also a number of buttons, switches, and joysticks in the control room, with labels such as "Thunder," "Flood," and "Earthquake."

Alpha scientists on Earth subsequently establish clear correlations between the electromagnetic waves coming from this planet and the hormone, blood sugar, blood pressure, etc. levels of Omega individuals, but nearly all the Alphas continue to laugh off the Omegas' culture as stupid and primitive. Only a handful of Alphas switch sides, led by a guy named Paul Apostle, who was a crew member of the space mission and fell in love with the Shape of Romance.

The plot culminates in an armed conflict between the Alphas and the Omegas (how and by whom it is started is irrelevant to my point). Thanks to their vastly superior technology, the Alphas are easily winning, and the Omegas seem to be hopelessly doomed. Paul Apostle tries to get help by submitting to the Shape of Love, but the Omegas tell him that it is no use because the Shape of Love never takes sides. However, the fortunes of the battle soon change and the Omegas start winning; they discover that the Shapes are now on their side, and resoundingly defeat the Alphas by means of submitting.

If this kind of a movie was made by a director who was widely known to be an ardent Platonist, would you agree that the plot was obviously meant as an allegory of the Platonic supernatural dimension, with the Shape of Love intended as a symbol of God? Would you say that the attempt fails because the Shapes are real persons on a real planet and there is a real observable data flow from that planet to Earth? Aren't these elements precisely there for the purpose of suggesting that "God is real" and that "prayer works" ?

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CF,

I'm not sure what the Platonic supernatural dimension is so it's difficult for me to answer your first question. However, he may well have intended that, yes.

In order to determine if the attempt fails, I would have to understand more about this platonic supernatural dimension and what evidence correlates it's existence, and how the elements used in the story accurately represented the actual elements of the God of the platonic supernatural realm. What are the characteristics of this God?

Same for your last question. Nice story though.

I'm guessing, and I could be wrong, that you do not agree that Cameron failed to represent what he intended. Is that the crux of our disagreement here? You think he was spot on in his representation and I don't?

Have you ever seen 'Oh God!'?

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I'm not sure what the Platonic supernatural dimension is

Plato's World of Forms, of course. The Shapes are the equivalent of Plato's Forms, with the Shape of Love being the equivalent of the Form of Good, i.e. God.

I'm guessing, and I could be wrong, that you do not agree that Cameron failed to represent what he intended.

I think he wanted a symbol for capitalism and a symbol for Gaia, and he wanted to depict Gaia as being real and superior to capitalism. And sure, he did all of that.

Let me give you another analogy: Suppose that a director makes a movie where Americans fight against a fictional enemy that has a striking resemblance to Nazi Germany, including an allegorical equivalent of the Fuhrer, the Swastika, the Mein Kampf, etc., up to and including the concentration camps, but where the Americans are made out to be the aggressors, and the equivalents of the concentration camps are eventually discovered to be hospitals where they treat the victims of the Americans. In a nutshell, the movie creates a symbol for the Holocaust, then denies it. Can we really say that, even though the movie was clearly intended as Holocaust-denying propaganda, it has failed in this intent because the author has created a context in which the camps serve a very different purpose than they did in the Third Reich?

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I'm just going to keep this simple. In Avatar the Na'vi had a biological appendage that made them physically dependent on their environment, and in particular, the place(s) the humans wanted to destroy. In my opinion, there is clear, convincing evidence of this in the film with no other possible explanation (from within the film). From outside the film, we know Cameron intended this to represent a dependence of ours on our planet framed from within the modern environmentalist perspective. However, there is no clear, convincing dependence evidenced from within our world to support his belief. That is the basis for my assertion that his analogy fails.

If you disagree, I'm not sure I can explain my position or my noted disagreements with your earlier post any better so if you still do not understand it, I'm sorry. Please feel free to discard assigning any value to my opinion if you think I have not adequately supported or made clear my position.

I think that I'm capable of evaluating a movie on two different levels, one examining intent and the other examining the acutual content. I've found sometimes that the two do not coincide. Obviously you are free to disagree with that as well.

And I am not familiar with Plato's world of forms, of course. :)

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I am able to separate the two. To me, the film has a message Cameron may have not intended to be the main theme, but which is there nonetheless. You have to be able to overcome your preconceived conclusions based on the director's political views.

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I wish to present a different angle to this discussion.

Any collectivist society can rightfully be invaded by a capitalist society if it needs to. This is because such a society always exists as an evil slave pen, with no regard for individual rights. I don't see how the Na'vi in Avatar could be anything else.

And now for an Ayn Rand quote:

Dictatorship nations are outlaws. Any free nation had the right to invade Nazi Germany and, today, has the right to invade Soviet Russia, Cuba or any other slave pen. Whether a free nation chooses to do so or not is a matter of its own self-interest, not of respect for the non-existent “rights” of gang rulers.

Edited by blackdiamond
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They recognized individual rights?

Well apparently it went against cultural tradition to mate with the one not chosen for you, but the blue chick did, and while the community didn't much like it, they also didn't punish her for it.

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Well then Cameron is trying to have his cake and eat it too, because he has to present this as a nice society. In rreality, any society with such a deeply collectivistic culture can only maintain adherence to their beliefs by strict punishment of "offenders" and heretics. Hence, dictatorship.

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