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About imurray

  • Birthday 04/22/1977

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    Ian M.
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    Graduate student primarily interested in rhetorical studies and theory. I'm not an Objectivist, Existentialist, Structuralist, Post-Structuralist, Deconstructionist, Liberal, Conservative, Libertarian, Modernist, Post-Modernist, or a two by four.
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    Rhetoric, philosophy, literature, sports, woodworking, etc.

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  1. Adonis, I don't want to get into a "my missile is bigger than your missile" debate, but it must be acknowledged that if the US is desperate or our economic survival is seen as desperate then the US has other options rather than nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons - namely remote guided/unmanned aircraft. Public opinion towards such devices is unfavorable at the moment, but I can see that changing. I must say that I am dead set against any war as I believe, in war, nobody wins. However, I don't think we can look to Vietnam or our recent wars as examples of what a war with Iran would look like. Iran is viewed, and you make a good case for it being true, as a capable and well armed "enemy" - the US and its allies will get public support for using a level of force that wasn't acceptable against nations who were viewed as weak or vulnerable. That said, I hope we never find out who is right.
  2. The option would be that countries will either openly or covertly support a US victory. The global financial situation will benefit or at least not suffer (as much) if the US "wins" or comes out of it "okay" than if Iran "wins" or does grave damage to the US economy. Just my theory - I simply think that, when push comes to shove, developed nations will make the rational choice, that is, to protect their economic interests over irrational religious or even political differences.
  3. Adonis, I may not be an expert in Iranian politics or in touch with the thoughts and feelings of Muslims in the region and around the world, but I think you're missing a big part of this - the global economy. While on the face of things, China, Russia, etc. may appear to not be taking sides or hoping for the US to stumble - they are not stupid. I don't believe any of those countries would favor an Iranian victory over an economic collapse in the US. The global economy is a temperamental thing and no matter what you think or others may say - the US still plays a dominant role as importers/consumers of foreign goods. Oil, on the other hand, is going to be in the ground regardless of who is in power, who pumps it out, who lives on the surface above it , or the religion that people practices. A speedy end to the war would be in most everyones favor with stakes in Iranian resources - and since I don't believe they'd actually sit around and watch the US collapse, that leaves only one other option...
  4. Xray, I know what a tautology is, if I didn't I wouldn't have used the term. You do not come across as a seeker, in all honesty. Frankly, you hijack discussions and lead them way off course with your so-called "questions". Ian
  5. I'd be happy to. You just did it again: Rich Engle and Panoptic, It looks like neither of you read my post thoroughly enough to notice the carefully placed modifiers. The result was a misunderstanding on your part. I wrote (bolding mine): "Believers often see oppressive governments as sinners who violate God's law." If I had left out the 'often', only then could it be called a 'sweeping generalization'. This passage contains many errors: The error lies in your assuming that it is just my personal opinion unsupported by facts. I base my conclusion on both personal experience and history. I have had encounters with many believers, and the "sin" motive when we were discussing oppressive governments was of course present in many cases, whether it was Jehova's witnesses pointing out that "Satan" is at work here, or the Catholic nuns in my school who spoke of the "godless" communist leaders of the USSR. Just two examples of believers who brought up the "sin" motive. As for historical events - let's take a fairly recent one, the Iranian Revolution led by the believer Khomeini. What do you think he saw in the Shah's regime? I suppose you will agree that the premises held by the believer Khomeini leave no doubt that he regarded the Shah and his supporters as sinners against Allah's will. Or take the Christian liberation theology: "Liberation theology proposes to fight poverty by addressing its supposed source: sin." Here we have it again. Panoptic, with all due respect, but this makes no sense. I can provide evidence to support my claim, a claim hich - I'm a stickler for preciseness - does not state that every believer behaves that way. As for the term "tautology", it does not apply here at all. I'm interested in the "transcendence" element, for the principles listed above (with a few modifications) could as well be listed in an "atheist manifesto". From the Wikipedia Article on UU: Rich E. - I have some questions about your idea of god. Do you believe in the doctrine of original sin? I'm strictly arguing by premises here: since the Jesus figure is based on the idea of original sin, if you don't believe in original sin, it follows that a belief in Jesus is flushed down the drain as well. Agree? Disagree? If the latter, please explain why. Xray: You've missed my whole point. George is discussing a specific period of American history. You continue to use examples from other periods and places. The events he's discussing have already happened and George is looking at all the data available to him to create an objective picture of what took place. You, on the other hand, are not. Sure you can find a bunch of historical examples to prove your thesis, buy who here cares? We are not discussing those events here. And yes, the word "tautology" applies to a majority of your arguments. You already have all the answers, it's just a simple matter of making history fit them. Right? I'm afraid the misunderstanding here is yours - perhaps when several intelligent people disagree with you, you should reassess your position instead of repeating the same thing over and over and...
  6. Indeed it does. Nice Galileo reference. Ian
  7. I'd be happy to. You just did it again: This is your opinion of how believers think and how they behave. It is not based on what actually happened (i.e., supported by rigorous research of historical events), instead it is based on what you think should happen if believers behave and think the way you say they do - your whole argument is a tautology. George is dealing with real people and real historical artifacts, not theorizing off the top of head or fitting historical events to his own way of thinking.
  8. Dennis and Xray: I think you're both falling into the same "trap". George has tried to piece together an accurate, objective, account of what was actually happening in the given historical period, to include: what people where reading, what people did, what people wrote/ said, who people interacted with, etc. He has obviously, necessarily, made some "subjective" leaps, but they are based on the facts that he has gathered through his reasearch. On one hand we have George who is trying to show what did happen through "objective" research and on the other hand we have Dennis and Xray telling him/us how it should have happened based on their own preconceived beliefs. In my opinion, despite claims that George is not being logical or that he is somehow going against Objectivism - he is the only one that is actually attempting to be objective in his analysis. What Dennis and Xray are saying could surely have happened, but George is showing us that they, in objective reality, did not actually happen that way. We can either sit here and continue to debate what religion should have or could have done or, like George, try to get at what it did do. From my reading I think George is showing us that the standard Objectivist interpretation of religion/Christianity was not the interpretation used by the Founding Fathers. It is therefore wrong to assume that they considered or interpreted religion/Christianity in the same way Objectivists do today or that they followed religious doctrine in the stereotypical way that Objectivists assume people do. Ian
  9. George and Dennis: I am enjoying the exchange immensely. I don't have much to add to the conversation so I've been relatively quiet, but I have been reading every word. Xray: Of course you have the right to comment, but we have already had a discussion about altruism where you, George, and others went back and forth. The fascinating thing about this thread is that both George and Dennis have done an amazing job of contextualizing 'abstract' ideas within a well-researched 'concrete', historical, discourse. While it is true that the "debate on altruism" is relevant to the conversation and there is a fair amount of 'abstract' theory-work being done in the 'background', this thread is about Christianity and Liberty and, in my opinion, should not be hijacked by rehashing the general debate on altruism that has cropped up in a number of other threads. Ian
  10. George, Wow. I am truly looking forward to reading your new book once it is published. We have disagreed in the past and I'm sure we will disagree again in the future, but either way I can and hopefully will learn a lot from the way you think. It is rare to see someone who is adept at working with abstract ideas and is able to represent them in a clear and intelligable way; devoid of the pomposity of so-called "academic" writing. It is a combination any serious scholar aspires to. I have observed the same capacity for working with abstraction (accross multiple disciplines) in Foucault, but only in his most heralded works (like Discipline and Punish) are there shimmers of the clarity seen here. Ian
  11. Unfortunately this line of argumentation will go full circle: Barbara may accuse Chris of echoing the left's party line against Beck and she'd be mostly correct and, in turn, Christopher may accuse Barbara of echoing the right's party line in favor of Beck and he would be mostly correct. This won't resolve the problem and, in my opinion, speaks to our collective myopia when in comes to the media. I'm currently thinking through what I think is a stronger argument against Beck and his cohorts on both the right and the left. To fully understand the problem we must take a full step back and look at the metadiscourse in which they are all enmeshed. It is from this wider perspective that we can see what this form of "infotainment" is doing to the public. Here are a couple of hints: it goes beyond the politics and "we get the government we deserve" (and it's only going to get worse no matter which party is in office so long as we support infotainers who work for a handful of corporations who are all a part of the very same system, despite claims to the contrary: when and for how long they get the public's attention is based on their looks and their market value which is part and parcel of their ability to entertain an audience with a shortened attention span). Interestingly enough - I just heard Keith Olbermann say that his job is to give us a fresh perspective on the facts that we already know.
  12. Need I say more? Not a single original thought in that whole diatribe. Look at it: she uses a few sources - the same sources that every one of Beck's followers use - because he provided them for them. Can't you see that supporting Beck IS supporting the status quo? You let yourself be manipulated into following "great men." How can you be a libertarian or for small government when you want and think you need great leaders just as much as those on the left? You just want leaders you agree with - and will fight for them as hard as the left fights for their own great men. The only way around this is to educate people to see through the rhetoric which these men use to manipulate them - to teach them to become great men and women themselves. The best part is you don't need a great man to teach you these things - you need to use your own rational mind. It's not that I disagree with the points Beck is trying to make - it's that he's using manipulation to get people to believe him. If he can do it, you'd be naive to think that he's the only one who can. Doesn't it worry you when everybody is reading the same books and will rabidly defend their profit? If we can see through the rhetoric and get to the message, we will revolt against people like Beck, Obama, Olbermann who wish to manipulate us with appeals to irrational fears and emotions. The fancy rhetoric accompanying the message will become superfluous and extraneous - as it is to anyone who knows how to think now. I don't need my emotions jolted to know what's right. Wake up!!! So it's not on the basis of political ideology that I dislike Beck (although I don't always agree with him) - I find it disheartening that smart people want leaders who use manipulation. The truth doesn't need embellishment. Ian I got to thinking over what you said in this response to my response to Michael Stewart Kelley and I'm puzzled by a lot of it. 1) I can't see the "diatribe" in my response - it felt calm and reasonable to me. Why does it feel like a diatribe to you? 2) You point out that my response contains "not a single original thought." I agree with that. I'm not an innovator - not in my career in IT, not in my philosophical thinking, not in my understanding of human psychology. Everything that I know, I learned from the innovators who made their thinking available to the world. I do consider myself to be pretty darned good at using and applying what I've learned from others. That describes the great majority of people. Great men and women appear in history less often that average men and women. 3) You suggest that I use only sources that Beck has presented. I met Ayn Rand and her early Objectivists in 1965. Beck would have been in diapers if he had even been born by then. Also, I've never heard Beck recommend that we all listen to Barbara Branden's "Principles of Efficient Thinking" or Nathaniel Branden's "Basic Principles of Objectivism". He never held up David Kelley or Tara Smith or Ed Yourdin, or Ludwig von Mises. Not that I used those last four sources in this thread, but you could watch for them on the Beck show. 4) I am not trying to be a libertarian (small or capital L) - I'm trying to be an Objectivist. I am not for "small government" - I am for government that is of a size that allows it be a proper government for the free men of a given country. That might include a large complex body of laws and a large court system that help keep us free. 5) I don't "let myself be manipulated into following "great men"". I look to great men and women, and even not so great but innovative men and women, to enrich my understanding of my human existence in the universe. What's wrong with that? 6) I won't live long enough to become a great woman on my own, using nothing but my own rational mind. When I discovered Ayn Rand, for instance, I discovered issues that I had not even known were issues. I know that the earth orbits the sun because Galileo et al figured it out. I don't have the skills to build a telescope, let alone make the judgments that they made. 7) I don't rabidly defend my "profit". I don't even consider Beck to be prophet. He is someone who is getting the message out loud and clear with supporting details. When he wanders off into the world of faith, hope and charity, I turn the radio or TV off, or just do some dusting until he gets past it. The big thing is that his researchers have saved us a lot of time and effort that those of us who are working long hours would not have to devote to the study of the "here's what happened." 8) You've joined two ideas together that puzzle me - that "we want leaders who manipulate", and "the truth doesn't need embellishment". I gather that you think that Beck is embellishing the truth through manipulation. I can't seem to pull up a concrete example of that to help me grasp your juxtaposition of these concepts. Can you provide one? 9) Given the nature of this site, why do you avoid acknowledging my mention of Ayn Rand or Objectivism in your discussion of Beck? Mary, First, I was only commenting on what you wrote and what I read here. It would be foolish of me to think that it constitutes any more or less than a small window into your way of thinking. I'm not surprised to find out that you have many positive qualities. I will address two of your nine comments from above. 8. I don't think Glenn Beck uses "false" information. If he did, I'm sure he wouldn't last very long - I don't think that his audience is "stupid". I do, however, think he manipulates facts through his interpretations of them. The proofs he provides for his interpretations are usually deductive and tautological. In other words, he only presents certain facts in certain ways (by "certain ways" I primarily mean the ways in which he orders and re-contextualizes facts) which are always already proof of his initial premise. In addition to this he imbues his discussion with rhetorical appeals to emotion (usually fear or "quiet" anger) and authority (usually God or the Founding Fathers). This is why you will find that nobody can dispute his "facts", but what people often forget is that it doesn't necessarily follow that his interpretations are also facts: even the best deductive argument cannot prove the truth of its premise, unless, as in Beck's case, it is also tautological. Watch today's show for an example - it's his modus operandi. 9. I didn't think it was relevant to the discussion, I wasn't purposely avoiding it. I honestly don't think Beck's methods or even his ideas are analogous to the values of Objectivism (and not just because of his talk of hope, faith, and charity). I will write more on this when I have time. The thesis of my argument is that when analyzing Beck's show within the meta-discourse of contemporary politics and entertainment (and even epistemology) it becomes clear that rather than serving as a panacea for apathy and irrationality, the show is constitutive of and by the very same intellectual somnambulance that perpetuates it. Ian
  13. Great article, George. Something for me to think about. I'll be back with a more substantive response later if I can think of anything to add. I certainly can't see anything to criticize, but I may tie it back to the Beck discussion since that was part of the reason you reproduced this here. Ian
  14. My apologies. I didn't intend for this to be 'Branden Bashing", but it's your site and I respect your interpretation. My apologies to Barbara also - I didn't intend to disrespect you. I am aware of your contributions and accomplishments. I was born and raised just outside of Concord/Lexington/Boston and the feelings that are conjured in me when I walk on that historic ground are nothing like the the feelings that I get when I hear Glenn Beck. To me, and this is only my opinion of course, comparing Paul Revere to Glenn Beck dishonors the former to a degree that is incommensurate with what one gains from even making such a rhetorical gesture. I hope that puts some perspective on my last comment. Ian
  15. What's to be blown up next? A suicide dog? Suicide fish? Michael When these animal bomb carriers have human casualties you might not find it so amusing. Ba'al Chatzaf I'm going to go ahead and defend Michael for a change - not that he needs my defense mind you, but I always like to agree with him when I can because we disagree enough about a certain other topic. Hahaha. Michael started his post by saying: I agree, I don't know what they will think of next. Sometimes the only response immediately available to us is to shake our heads and laugh - and then, once it sinks in, cry. I have all but given up on trying to empathize with Islamic terrorist. I will never be able to fully comprehend the feelings, experiences, or ways of thinking that would drive a person to this. This is so foreign to my way of thinking that I'm often not equipped to respond, at least initially, except to say "that's absolutely ridiculous!" Ian