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Old 06-29-2007, 12:00 AM #1
Mike Sendker
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I may be new to this forum but its ironic to me that there are only exremists on this board. Either you don't believe in god whatsoever or you believe in him to the point of rejecting science because it goes against him. I am personally what I call an "Existential Deist". Existentialism is a form of philosophy in which one believes they are endowed with the responsibility for finding meaning in their lives. They reject the concept of fate and all other forms of divine intervention or predestination. Existentialism became prominent in the 20th century with such writers as the Algerian Albert Camus. It's earliest writings come from Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. Deism is a form of religious belief that accepts that a god has created the universe in which we live in but does not believe he actively controls our world. They reject most holy scriptures and alleged miracles. Our founding fathers were in fact deists, a factoid which most people forget, as they seem to claim that this country was founded on Christianity.

One of my biggest personal philosophies is somewhat anarchic in it's basis. No matter who the person is, or what the concept, idea, or law is, I question it's basis. I aggravate people beyond humanly possible with my endless questions. You see, I have read a great deal into the dangers of blind adherence to authority. Anyone who believes "Faith alone" is a virtue on should live by should look up the Milgram Experiment.
The potential in such a personal philosophy could rival the Nazi extermination of the Jewish peoples. It is highly believed that the Nazi executioners did what they did because they merely "obeyed authority" a trait which manifested itself almost wholly in early and pre- 20th century Germany. This questioning of authority trait I have is a perfect example of existential and deist schools of thought. Existentialism and Deism seem to go hand in hand with the philosophy of Anarchy. Anarchy is the rejection of a higher authority, there is an extreme form of anarchy which most people accept as the definition, but as I define it, a participatory democracy is a form of anarchy. A form of government in which the people decide exactly what laws should and should not be enforced, rejecting any notion that a higher body of law-makers deserves more of a say.

This form of philosophy and ideology, in my opinion, is "The Enlighed Way". These schools of thought seem to manifest themselves in the greatest rulers in history, such as Julius Cesar and Napoleon Bonaparte, two men who can be labeled with the oxymoron of "Enlightened Despotism" because of their Socially liberal and economically conservative ruling philosophies. The Libertarian Party holds these who traits, and what you see in such a philosophy is freedom. It puts people's lives in their own hands and entrusts them to be smart enough to make rational decisions.

This thread isn't merely to tell you people how I feel, I simply want to find out how many people actually agree with this form of personal beliefs? How many of you like-minded Existential Deists are there on these boards?
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Old 06-29-2007, 12:10 AM #2
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Old 06-29-2007, 12:36 AM #3
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Old 06-29-2007, 12:51 AM #4
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Thanks guys, really great contributions.
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Old 06-29-2007, 01:34 AM #5
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What do you expect? The first sentence of your post is basically, "everyone who posts here is an idiot, because they hold extreme views" and then you go on to explain why you are awesome for believing in existentialism.

There are other existentialists on the board such as Tonysk83 and many other intelligent thinkers.

As to some of the substance of your post, a participatory democracy is not anarchy. Even if you look at a direct democracy, such as was present in Athens, the adherence to authority still exists. The authority in these cases is not just one man, but the majority of the citizen population. For someone who is not within this majority to follow the laws set forth, would be the antithesis of anarchy, it would be accepting a higher authority.
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Old 06-29-2007, 01:42 AM #6
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I know that participatory democracy is not true anarchy. But it seems more and more to be an anarchic form of government. The fact that the people choose what laws to obey seems anarchic to me.
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Old 06-29-2007, 01:49 AM #7
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Anarchy is the rejection of a higher authority
You can't say that is anarchy and then state that a system of government with a higher authority (either the majority of the populations itself or elected officials) is anarchy.

Sure democracy is more anarchic (or free) than other forms of government, but a higher authority still exists and since you define anarchy as being the absence of higher authority your assertion that a democracy of any sort is anarchy is illogical.
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Old 06-29-2007, 02:17 AM #8
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Do some actual reading. I don't mean to sound like a jackass, but your post reads like you just copied all that off wikipedia (or skimmed over it in a textbook). I've been looking through course lists all day I noticed that a lot of philosophy departments have a course on reading Nietzsche. Assuming you're in college, it might be a good place to start. Again, I don't mean to be a jerk, but I would hope that you base your life on ideas only once you have grasped them at their deepest level. One thing that constantly irritates me about religious folk is their claim to ultimate knowledge and truth, as revealed through their sacred books. Not because I find it obnoxious (well, that too), but mainly because they don't believe it themselves; as apparent by how many Christians have read the entire Bible (and made an effort to understand how each bit applies to their lives). Nietzsche and Kierkegaard are probably good places to start. Camus is great. Heidegger, and Sartre (who is probably of most interest to you), are notoriously difficult and probably better learned via classes.
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Old 06-29-2007, 08:42 AM #9
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Camus was an absurdist and while that philosophy branched out from existentialism, it is different from existentialism nonetheless.
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Old 06-29-2007, 09:11 AM #10
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I agree that blind adherence is a danger to true democracy. Remember the Mcdonalds case in the midwest last year? 15-17yo girls were sexually assaulted by their adult managers because a man called posing as a police officer and ordered a strip search of the female employees. Big surprise that it happened in the Bible Belt... That is nothing compared to what we have seen in the Milgram experiment and more importantly the Nazi regime.

However, not everyone on this board is an extremist. I myself have religion, but also recognize the importants of science and try to make all my decisions empirically. I am a naturalistic pantheist and I believe in balance in all aspects of life. Don't be so quick to pass judgements.
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Old 06-29-2007, 09:11 AM #11
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elTwitcho - isn't what he is referring to in general what most Buddhist traditions call the "middle path" in one fashion or another.
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Old 06-29-2007, 09:14 AM #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RamboPreacher View Post
elTwitcho - isn't what he is referring to in general what most Buddhist traditions call the "middle path" in one fashion or another.
No, the Middle Way is in a few words, the avoidance of extremes in terms of sensory indulgence.
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Old 06-29-2007, 09:44 AM #13
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Quote:
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No, the Middle Way is in a few words, the avoidance of extremes in terms of sensory indulgence.
exactly, but by extension, isn't that some schools of thought in religious experiential observation in understanding "ultimate reality" as well? I am not talking about what the OP said in regards to his philosophy and religion, but rather what he says about the extremes of religion and science.
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Old 06-29-2007, 10:01 AM #14
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Thanks for the insight Mike, I see that you would define most people (I'm assuming this includes me) as an "extremist", but I hold many of the same thoughts as you. You could consider me an Agnostic Atheist; honestly, we have no clue or no evidence whether or not there is a god, but I believe there is not. Much like how you are Deist and believe there is some sort of higher power, I am atheist and believe there is none. But I'm still open minded when it comes to science, like with the Big Bang theory and the Universe. I require a great deal of evidence and understanding to fully accept something. I just hope you won't take such a negative feel to all of us.
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Old 06-29-2007, 10:38 AM #15
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Quote:
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elTwitcho - isn't what he is referring to in general what most Buddhist traditions call the "middle path" in one fashion or another.
It depends. I believe the majority of different sects of Buddhism would consider the middle path much like Adema described it, although in some schools the term refers to holding the seemingly contradictory belief that things both do and do not exist in an absolute sense.

As to the original poster, I don't see much in his post that is too similar to Buddhism and I don't see that he really sticks to his own principles or the principles of existentialism in his beliefs either. It reads more like lip service to existentialism from someone who is still wrapping their head around it to me.

You cannot criticize adherents of "faith alone" and then proclaim your belief in something that requires that same faith in the next sentence (ie, deism).

In fact, taking it a step further, Camus believed that the absurdity of the human condition was that we had a desire for meaning in a world that was inherently impossible for humans to find a true objective meaning in. He believed that when presented with this realization of the absurd one of the wrong things to do was to make a leap of faith and just slot in convenient explanations (ie, god made the universe, or deism) because it implied abandonment of the existentialist thought that brought one to that conclusion in the first place. Put simply, if your search for meaning brings you to the absurd because you need to find an absolute meaning that is verifiable and true, it is contradictory and tantamount to just "giving up" to say at this point "you know what? actually... there must be a god" because it isn't verifiable and true.

And besides, I see a big huge contradiction in an existentialist calling any approach "the enlightened way". Existentialism implies a rejection of absolute reality (IMO) and to call one option "enlightened" or "better than" compared to another implies absolute truths which are comparable against each other.

I wouldn't consider it too similar to buddhism anyway
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Old 06-29-2007, 11:23 AM #16
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First off, I love twitcho's avvy.

And guys, I haven't learned any of this from wikipedia or classes. It is all from reading. I just graduated high school, and although I took the highest courses I could, the most in depth mention of Existentialism I've ever heard in class was simply to piont out that Existentialism started to crop up in early 20th century England. If I sound to official in my writing style thats simply because I'm not a very efficient writer yet, something I'm still trying to work on. And when I suggested Existentialism to be the "Enlightened way" I was implying that enlightenment is accepting the fact that it is impossible to be truly 100% enlightened. I accept that I cannot know which one is right until all the facts are in, and since they are not, I am making the enlightened choice by choosing a middle of the road stance. You see, I could never pull off being an atheist. Before I sat down and hammered out my beliefs with my (Fundamentalist Christian) parents I called myself agnostic. If I were simply to reject the idea of a higher power or an afterlife I'd wind up nihilistic. It may sound contradictory to my personal philosophy, but frankly I don't care.

I'm still relatively new into Existentialism, I'll admit that, but from the more I examine the basic philosophy, the more I'm committed to it. I've already got a stack of twenty or so books I'm trying to get through, but the trouble is committing myself to simply one. I've been cracking open Blowback by Chalmers Johnson on occasion, but last night I opened The 9/11 Commission Report, so I'll just keep trying.

And no, I don't have a negative feeling towards you all. The qualifier you added to atheist, agnostic, does a world of difference for me. I guess its a misconception of mine that I should try to shed, but when I see the word atheist I think of a radical nihilistic rebel, and when I see Christian, I think of a fat old guy shooting down anything progressive.
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Old 06-29-2007, 11:41 AM #17
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Quote:
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And when I suggested Existentialism to be the "Enlightened way" I was implying that enlightenment is accepting the fact that it is impossible to be truly 100% enlightened. I accept that I cannot know which one is right until all the facts are in, and since they are not, I am making the enlightened choice by choosing a middle of the road stance.
That really depends on whether you take a more traditionalist approach to ontology or not. I personally believe that since reality is an internal condition and not anything that exists in any meaningful sense external of a being to perceive it, anyone can be 100% enlightened. It's why I believe both atheists and christians are simultaneously correct in their knowledge and assumptions in the absolute strictest sense of being correct.
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