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Oism and Pantheism

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"It is not me who lives anymore. It is Christ who lives in me", says Paul in the New Testament.

"It is not me who lives anymore. It is reality (from which I am part) who lives in me" would say an Objectivist, meaning that he doesn't live out of whims and fantasies, but that every single thought and action is guided by reality. This is honesty, integrity. Do you want to be a saint? Live a life of unbreached integrity.

Wow, I definitely don't agree with this characterization of Objectivism. That first Biblical quote clearly communicates a destruction of personal identity by completely integrating it with Christ. That is the polar opposite of how an Objectivist should deal with identity and individualism. A life if unbreached integrity is great, but if you ever find yourself thinking that you're just some piece of a greater reality living through you, you've veered far off course.

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@Hotu Matua, perhaps that was partially the point I am hinting at, as far as pantheism is concerned. That 'God' is not necessarily something supernatural, or a deity with the face of a man, but is something 'bigger' than our scope of all present understanding-- it is, say, the Universe -- or, metaphorically speaking, the heartbeat of our own existence. I'm not suggesting it is superior to the individual in consciousness and self-awareness, but that it contains all knowledge within it. Pantheism, perhaps, is a realization of one's place with regard to Nature. I make the parallel for sake that the Universe is (presumably) eternal, whereas we are only temporary. Now, this may or may not be consistent with Spinoza's Pantheism. Also, to be clear, I do not think we owe anything to the Universe-- nothing more than a rational pursuit of knowledge and self-interest. Therein lies my purpose for this thread, more or less.

@Dante, I agree with everything you said RE: Hotu's point.

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Wow, I definitely don't agree with this characterization of Objectivism. That first Biblical quote clearly communicates a destruction of personal identity by completely integrating it with Christ. That is the polar opposite of how an Objectivist should deal with identity and individualism. A life if unbreached integrity is great, but if you ever find yourself thinking that you're just some piece of a greater reality living through you, you've veered far off course.

Well... I knew my statement would raise some eyebrows. I was using the same poetic license that Christians take for that verse. Christians do not interpret this as the "destruction fo personal identity" but just as a metaphoric way to express an intimate union with Christ (whatever that means) so that every step you take, every thought you generate is in line with Christ teachings/wisdom/love/whatever.

Taking the same metaphor, I meant that in a truly rational life you don't act just out of nothing, guided by the desire of the moment, or your fears, whims or genes, but you always act out of consideration of reality. When you act rationally, you are integrating reality into your daily life. That is all I meant. In rationality there is harmony with the universe, since you act according to the law of identity to achieve your purpose. In irrationality the harmony is broken. You get into contradictions: your acts are separated, contrary to what reality mandates. You get alineated, isolated... destroyed.

For those yearning the mystic glamour of "becoming ONE with the Universe", I would say that the only way to be in harmony with universe is through focus in thought, which naturally results in the concepts, emotions, and actions that go along the Universe. When you go against the grain, against the universe, you deny the Law of Identity, deny cognition, and then get yourself in "HELL": the state of contradiction, of false, self-inflicted separation from the universe.

Edited by Hotu Matua
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That 'God' is not necessarily something supernatural, or a deity with the face of a man, but is something 'bigger' than our scope of all present understanding-- it is, say, the Universe -- or, metaphorically speaking, the heartbeat of our own existence.

What does "bigger" even mean? "Bigger" than your sum of knowledge is completely vague. Your concept of a pantheistic god does not help anything and at worst permits a person to treat reality as something to be served. That you have to be self-interested for reality's sake, that you your success in life is provided by reality. If you don't think you owe anything to the universe/existence/reality, then there is no issue to flat out reject a pantheistic god on account of it being a useless concept.

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@Hotu Matua, perhaps that was partially the point I am hinting at, as far as pantheism is concerned. That 'God' is not necessarily something supernatural, or a deity with the face of a man, but is something 'bigger' than our scope of all present understanding-- it is, say, the Universe -- or, metaphorically speaking, the heartbeat of our own existence.

I think it is simply the fact that MOST are ignorant of the concept "synergy", and how it operates in Universe. Synergy means behavior of whole systems unpredictable from examining ONLY the parts of the system. One should not be "in awe" of synergy, i.e., when one discovers gravity between two things, but not in any one thing, it does not mean their is a ghost in the machine -- it's simply how things work. Another way of seeing it is that systems have INTEGRITY, and that is a holistic thing, can't be broken down into pieces, by definition. And the integrity of systems is GREATER THAN the sum of the parts. Not magic; SYNERGY.

- ico

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An understanding of the role of synergy in Universe is essential to devising efficient problem solving strategies. It's sort of like "don't drop context", where the context not to be dropped is the integrity of the system under consideration, i.e., that it IS a system, not a grab-bag of unrelated parts.

If you understand synergy, you will be able to see that micro->macro design strategies, otherwise known as "building-block approaches", only work in the absence of significant synergy. For example, building block approaches don't work at all when attempting to deduce the properties of water by considering the properties of hydrogen and oxygen separately. In math, 1+1=2; in reality, 1+1>=2.

The alternative, which DOES work efficiently, is a macro->micro strategy of starting with the observable properties of the whole system, plus the properties of SOME of its parts, and using that information to deduce the properties of the rest of the parts. This is how nuclear physicists are able to interpret scattering experiments, because they KNOW that energy is conserved and can use that fact to be certain that any niggling bit of missing energy must be SOMEWHERE, so they give it a name. Hence the standard model's particle zoo.

Or, if you prefer a jock's perspective: "I grab the whole backfield and throw 'em out one by one until I find the guy with the ball." -- Too Tall Jones describing his strategy on defense.

- ico

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@Eiuol, I am troubled in reconciling an idea such as "the map is not the territory", in terms of my position as an individual with regard to reality. I am inclined to believe (perhaps irrationally) that the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. That the Universe is something greater than the sum of all matter, energy, etc. I think ico hit the nail on the head, and 'synergy' is what I am trying to describe. Perhaps I was mistaken in trying to find similarities between O'ism and Pantheism, when synergy is what I was looking for.

Thanks all.

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I think Pantheism is a good place for me to start. I agree with you and Zoid, that it does cause confusion for a fully-fledged Oist, but for somebody who has grown up as a Christian, it's not incredibly confusing and important for me to grasp if I am to make a transition to Oism.

I may be misinterpreting what you are saying here, but to me it sounds like you have to have some other "God" in which to believe in order to take an epistemological step away from a "God" you no longer want to believe in to make the transition easier. Does that sum it up?

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@Biker, that's probably the psychological/emotional aspect of my question, yes. And with reference to the previous posts, where it says: "Why interchangeably use "universe", "nature", "reality", and "god" to describe the same concept?" That is probably the answer I would give, on a very simplistic level.

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You've had a lot of emotional investment in the idea of a "god" for a whole long time in your life and now you're looking for a new place to put all that investment, right? It is a known thing around here that one common reason a lot of atheists have trouble getting people to accept atheism is that they only tell them what not to believe in without giving them something else to go on instead from now on. That can be hard and even scary for people, to feel like they've just taken some big loss and are now kind if adrift. You do see how Objectivism though doesn't leave you flailing directionless in life, fortunately. As for what to do about all that emotional investment you had in "god", I know of a book I really like which may interest you. It's written by somebody who is not religious. I think you may be interested in the book's treatment of the phrase "Thou art god" in the story. It's called Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein. :) Just a thought. I could give you a very condensed version of the meaning of the phrase, but the book does a nice job developing on it over the course of the story.

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At the end of the day, however, God is a postulate with no evidence, i.e., an arbitrary postulate. And one can, if one cares to, realize that even the postulate of God may not contradict the facts of Existence without becoming invalid; however, that is NOT the sort of "God" that traditionally is associated with the sound/symbol "G-O-D". THAT God, the God of the various monotheistic philosophies, contradicts him/her/itself, and therefore Existence, in some fashion. Contradictions not only cannot exist, they do not exist, period!

So, if you create the perfect God in the image of Existence, all you have done is reflected Existence back onto itself, which while at least not destructive of other people's time, neither does it aid others; and it is a waste of yours, too, because neither does it give you engineering advantage over planning your future (success).

Basically, you end up wasting time and phrasing things awkwardly to preserve an idea that has no useful function that is not already covered by some other idea. God is irrelevant. That is why faith is a matter of choice and may not be restricted; but knowledge, by the same token, may not be a function of faith.

Yup.

- ico

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