Objectivism and Christianity


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Ted,

Here is a quick copy/paste.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/perverse

per·verse

Pronunciation: pər-ˈvərs, ˈpər-ˌ\

Function:adjective

Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French purvers, pervers, from Latin perversus, from past participle of pervertere

Date:14th century

1 a: turned away from what is right or good : corrupt b: improper, incorrect c: contrary to the evidence or the direction of the judge on a point of law <perverse verdict>

2 a: obstinate in opposing what is right, reasonable, or accepted : wrongheaded b: arising from or indicative of stubbornness or obstinacy

3: marked by peevishness or petulance : cranky

4: marked by perversion : perverted

synonyms see contrary — per·verse·ly adverb — per·verse·ness noun — per·ver·si·ty\pər-ˈvər-sə-tē, -stē\ noun

Online Merriam-Webster does not have "pervert" as a noun. So let's jump dictionaries.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/perverse

per·verse

(pschwa.gifr-vûrsprime.gif, pûrprime.gifvûrslprime.gif)

adj.

1. Directed away from what is right or good; perverted.

2. Obstinately persisting in an error or fault; wrongly self-willed or stubborn.

3. a. Marked by a disposition to oppose and contradict.b. Arising from such a disposition.

4. Cranky; peevish.[Middle English pervers, from Old French, from Latin perversus, past participle of pervertere, to pervert;

see pervert.]per·verseprime.gifly adv.per·verseprime.gifness n.hm

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2003. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

See the word "perverted"?

Here is pervert.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/pervert

per·vert

(pschwa.gifr-vûrtprime.gif)

tr.v. per·vert·ed, per·vert·ing, per·verts

1. To cause to turn away from what is right, proper, or good; corrupt.

2. To bring to a bad or worse condition; debase.

3. To put to a wrong or improper use; misuse. See Synonyms at corrupt.

4. To interpret incorrectly; misconstrue or distort: an analysis that perverts the meaning of the poem.

n. (pûrprime.gifvûrtlprime.gif) One who practices sexual perversion.

[Middle English perverten, from Old French pervertir, from Latin pervertere : per-, per- + vertere, to turn; see wer-2 in Indo-European roots.]

per·vertprime.gifer n.per·vertprime.gifi·ble adj.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2003. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

So the lesson is that words have more than one meaning. Both of us are right and both of us are wrong, depending on which definition you choose.

I don't know if I made myself clear up to now, so let me be even more clear.

I object to snarkiness because you disagree with someone not an Objectivist, not to any insinuation of sexual misconduct. I do not think you were accusing GS of sexual misconduct. An accusation of corruption, peevishness, etc. is just as bad in that context. Just as bad as you accusing me of dishonesty right at the outset.

The sexual part doesn't matter to me. The insult does.

I hate this kind of discourse and I think you were being snarky. So I humbly request you think twice before starting a discussion with an insult.

I can get clearer if need be.

Michael

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Maybe everyone on Olympus can put down the thunderbolts and be proportionate and fair. There are a separate issues getting snarled together: righteous English usage -- and plain old argument-by-insult.

People who do perverted things are perverts. That's the way people understand it. They don't care if you use the word pervert or perversion.

I care. I care that perverse reasoners are not at the same time perverts full stop. And I am people. I understood that Ted was not calling Thomas a pervert, he was calling him perverse -- obstinate in opposing what is right, reasonable, or accepted. Ted used the word perverse quite carefully, I believe.

That's one thing.

Ted is right on the narrow issue of whether or not he is using an English term correctly . . . in the pronouncement against Thomas: You have to be pretty perverse to ignore the obvious, that I was using "laws of science" to mean "the way reality behaves" rather than "our formulation of our understanding of how reality behaves."

That is a horrible way to start any discussion.

That's another thing.

It is indeed a horrible beginning if Ted wants a civil discussion and respectful replies. It starts off in the key of contemptuous disdain and invites a bellicose retort.

In any case, it wasn't obvious to Thomas (or to me) that Ted was using the term 'laws of science' as he exactly intended it to be read. In which case it was a bit equivocal, so it perhaps OK for Thomas to read it the way he did, or at least understandable.

Wasn't it Ted's turn to be charitable, maybe by saying he meant the underlying regularities rather than human estimations, like "I meant the underlying realities, you stupid, igorant, fool"?

To my eyes, 'laws of nature' may be unchanging while 'laws of science' can be subject to adjustment. I say it is error to insult someone ("you have to be nuts if you don't understand") and it is error to rant on about the word pervert and so on . . .

As for the word pervert, who used the word pervert in the Jim Peron thread, regarding those who smear-campaigned against him? -- "Those who practice this pervert Objectivism and all it stands for"?

I think there might be a couple of very proud and opinionated people who choose to pretend that gander drippings differ muchly from the drippings of a goose.

That said, I hope Ted may accept that the offending phrase wasn't necessary to advance discussion and understanding. Michael, perhaps you could take Ted to task not for a particular word and its heavy emotive load . . . but for a dismissive, belligerent attitude. Take him to task the way I take you to task when you jump down someone's throat. Er . . .

It's the lordly heights and the untrammelled rectitude that gets me. We can all be like this of course. Most times it's not pretty.

[Edit: I see Michael has now made the distinction between insult and usage. Thanks]

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Michael, perhaps you could take Ted to task not for a particular word and its heavy emotive load . . . but for a dismissive, belligerent attitude.

William,

I am overworked. I fired in the right direction, but used the wrong bullet. Problem of haste.

I still think the word perverse carries a highly negative connotation and I don't like it at the start of a discussion. For instance, you wrote: "I think there might be a couple of very proud and opinionated people who choose to pretend that gander drippings differ muchly from the drippings of a goose."

If I say this comment is a perverse attempt at rhetoric and expresses a total distortion of reality, what other words come to mind? Pathetic? Irrational? Evasive? Contemptible? Boneheaded? (To coin a phrase. :) )

What words don't come to mind if I call it perverse? How about reasonable? Clever? Colorful? Valid? Spot-on?

What's worse (and this is the real tragedy), what other words don't come? How about something to think about?

Of course, a reader is not going to believe the phrase (or you) is pathetic, irrational, evasive, contemptible, or boneheaded just because these words come to mind from being the standard put-downs in circumstances similar to my bash, but what will usually happen is that the reader's attention will get deflected from the idea and placed squarely on me. Me Micheal. The Great! The All Powerful! Yay me!

I can then be a snark, clown or hero in the person's mind. It doesn't matter. The idea has been shot dead in his mind. In short, he is highly unlikely to think about the idea as he moves on to other things to read. Exit Socrates and enter Jerry Springer when he remembers the post.

So much lost for so little in return...

Michael

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Michael,

I think your letter to Sarah is a very thoughful attempt to communicate with these people. However, my impression is that many of them don't know what Objectivism truly is.

For example, on one blog I took the author to task stating that a person cannot be a Christian and Objectivist at the same time and outlined why using Ayn Rand's outlook on religion and later quoting from Leonard Piekoff's statement in OPAR.

I suggested instead that they may want to consider themselves Christian Libertarians since libertarianism draws from the writings, ideas and activism of religious and non-religious philosophers.

One person from this group angrily responded that Christianity is objective and pointed me to a book written by a Harvard-educated attorney who used the federal rules of evidence as a way to prove the existence of Jesus/God.

One blogger bluntly stated that an Objectivist Christian is not a contradiction.

I have no doubt in my mind that, in their heart of hearts, they believe in some semblance of freedom.

However, I think as Objectivists we have an obligation to point out their error in judgement and, yes, go so far as to tell them they cannot be Objectivists while stating they embrace religious beliefs, mysticism or a belief in the paranormal since, by their doing so, they prefer faith over reason.

Objectivism and Christianity

A Letter to a Christian Objectivist

Recently, while keeping on top of posts on another forum because of an issue presently being vented between the two forums, I came across this lettered example of philosophical erudition:

I'll be buggered ... The Christian Objectivists no less

The thread was in reference to a blog called Christian Objectivists, where a person called Lilybeth is working out her thoughts on God, Objectivism and the why of it all in general. I don't think I need to say that there was a bunch of mockery and pompous sanctimonious crap on the pseudo-Objectivist forum. They didn't even know this person, but apparently they knew enough about her to despise her or pity her or have contempt for her. Objectivism must have given them the wisdom to do that. Right?

Frankly, this kind of thing ticks me off.

I don't know Lilybeth either, but I bet if she is writing her thoughts on a blog, she is sincerely seeking to put the best in her soul on display. Starting from that default, I believe this merits an initial attitude of respect, not derision. If she turns out to be a bonehead, then there is always time for derision or whatever. But I saw no signs of boneheadedness. I saw a sincere person seeking wisdom. What's contemptible about that?

I clicked on a link on that blog and it led me to a Google Group called Christian Objectivists. It is not too active, but I saw a real spark of intelligence in a girl named Sarah.

The more I thought about all this, the more I began to wonder who I would trust my children in the care of. There was no contest. The Christians won that one hands down. (I would not be able to say the same thing if the forum were OL or a couple of other places in Objectivism-land, but it definitely holds true with respect to Solo Passion).

I seek the life of the benevolent universe and I will take it where I get it. Where I find it is where I want my children to go. It's that simple and I don't care what who says Ayn Rand wrote. Let the nasty folks stew in their own bile.

At any rate, I wrote Sarah a long letter out of the blue. I since received a reply and she is a marvelous person. Ditto for that group of Christian Objectivists. I found it interesting that she has received just as much persecution from Christians as she has Objectivists.

Of course I have philosophical differences with these people, but I simply cannot demonize them, imagine that their efforts will undermine Objectivism or cut short the saving of the world from orgies of God knows what or whatever. On the contrary, if there were more folks like these folks, the world would be a hell of a lot better place.

I don't think we have to agree with people like this to call them our friends. I think we would do well to look at them, see their manner of being and learn this aspect from them. That's a hell of a thing, to look at someone and say, "I disagree with you, but I want to be like you."

It's a premise. And it's a check. And it needs doing.

Here is my letter to Sarah.

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Mike,

The name doesn't really matter. If I were concerned about the name, I would have buckled under pressure from several quarters about the name of OL when it became evident that I was not going to sing a party line. The fact is no one owns the name Objectivism and Rand's work is in no way diminished by any one group using it, not even one run by a nasty vicious soul like Perigo. If Solo Passion under his leadership has not killed or diminished Objectivism by now, nothing will. :)

Look at it from another angle. Isn't it far better for these Christians to be concerned with individualism and individual rights and capitalism and so forth than with a heavy focus on altruism or even fundamentalism? Rather than quibble over the name, I suggest nudges on specific ideas if you want to influence them. And I suggest listening. Really listening. There might be some very wise people among them.

I believe (and believe intensely) in the inherent good of a person using his own mind. You should find several people like that among the Christian Objectivists. Those who use their own minds will gradually come to certain conclusions. They can't help not to. There is only one reality and it is the same for us all. As the saying goes, both prince and pauper have the same 24 hours in a day.

But people who use their minds independently usually have a characteristic I appreciate. If you push them, they push back. They don't cave in. So I suggest no pushing. Be friendly and nudge. :)

I see the real problems happening if they transpose certain Christian traditions on Objectivism, like missionary work and tithing. :)

Joking aside, if you come across a really intelligent Christian Objectivist, I believe you will gain much by trying to engage his arguments qua arguments to the best of your ability as he will make you check some deep premises. But before you debate him, you really should try to understand where his head is at and how he understands Objectivism (and Christianity for that matter).

One of the people I have been reading on the Google Group had Objectivist parents, yet became an Objectivist Christian. Wouldn't it be fascinating to find out why that happened and what his head is about? He grew up Objectivist but he shrugged. What led to the questioning? Robert Jones who writes for The New Individualist is in a similar boat.

That guy (or another, I can't remember) is writing a book on the soul of Atlas from an Objectivist Christian perspective. I will be curious to read it later. I have no doubt it will be interesting if not challenging. I don't have to agree with it to gain value from it. In fact, I don't expect to change my way of thinking from my contact with these folks, but I do expect to gain some great interaction from good people in my life from them.

One piece of advice. As Sarah mentioned, these are people who are used to being ridiculed by Objectivists and Christians alike. If they appear to be defensive, they have good reason to be. So friendly is really the only way to go if you are interested in contact with them. And agree to disagree is a great policy when incompatibilities arise.

There is no reason on earth why we cannot be good neighbors with these folks. I vastly prefer them to Nazis or Islamist terriroists. :)

Michael

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Ted is right on the narrow issue of whether or not he is using an English term correctly . . . in the pronouncement against Thomas: You have to be pretty perverse to ignore the obvious, that I was using "laws of science" to mean "the way reality behaves" rather than "our formulation of our understanding of how reality behaves."

I can see the different shades of meaning of 'perverse' and I maintain that none of them applied to me :)

My point (which Ted has not addressed), is that there is no such thing as "the way reality behaves", all we have is models. Think about it. We have a theory about some phenomenon which has been validated for hundreds of year (like addition of velocities) and one day the theory doesn't work (with lightwaves). Has the "way reality behaves" changed or have we found a problem with our model?

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I said non-technical, Odontopter. How many words in your Dutch dictionary are non-technical?

The dictionaries I mentioned are non-technical, Van Dale, Duden and Robert are general dictionaries, just like Collins. These are the dictionaries you'll find in any educated family.

Et je crois que toutes les phrases que tu m'as dit <<encore, jusqu'ici, jusqu'à présent, toujours, de nouveau, une fois de plus>> sauf que le mot <<encore>> soient phrases, et pas de mots.

Now that is really a silly argument. Those phrases are used as words. That a Frenchman writes "tout de suite" where an Englishman uses "immediately" does not imply that English is superior to French. There isn't any reason that using a term consisting of more than one word can convey less nuances than a term consisting of one single word. That the Englishman writes "whatsoever" instead ("in stead") of "what so ever" where the Frenchman writes "quel(le) que", "quoi que", "tout ce qui", "n'importe quel(le)" etc., is completely irrelevant, except for the number of spaces used.

Satis dixi. Tacebo.

We'll see...

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Only in mathematics is certainty possible.

GS,

Is that a complete condition or can it be improved? Are you certain?

:)

(Sorry. I couldn't resist...)

Michael

Don't apologize Micheal, that's a very good point. A few posts ago I raised this very issue. When you make a proposition about propositions it cannot have itself as an argument.

When Whitehead and Russell were working at the foundations of mathematics,

they came across endless paradoxes and self-contradictions, which, of course, would

make mathematics impossible. After many efforts they found that all these

paradoxes had one general source, in the rough, in the expressions which involve

the word ‘all’, and the solution was found by introducing ‘non-allness’, a semantic

forerunner of non-identity. Consider, for example, ‘a proposition about all proposi-

tions’. They found that such totalities, or such ‘all’ statements, were not legitimate,

as they involved a self-contradiction to start with. A proposition cannot be made

legitimately about ‘all’ propositions without some restriction, since it would have to

include the new proposition which is being made. If we consider a m.o term like

‘propositions’, which we can manufacture without known limits, and remember that

any statement about propositions takes the form of a proposition, then obviously we

cannot make statements about all propositions. In such a case the statement must be

limited; such a set has no total, and a statement about ‘all its members’ cannot be

made legitimately. Similarly, we cannot speak about all numbers.

Statements such as ‘a proposition about all propositions’ have been called by

Russell ‘illegitimate totalities’. In such cases, it is necessary to break up the set into

smaller sets, each of which is capable of having a totality. This represents, in the

main, what the theory of types aims to accomplish. In the language of the Principia

Mathematica, the principle which enables us to avoid the illegitimate totalities may

be expressed as follows: ‘Whatever involves all of a collection must not be one of

the collection’, or, ‘If, provided a certain collection had a total, it would have

members only definable in terms of that total, then the said collection has no total’.1

The above principle is called the ‘vicious-circle principle’, because it allows us to

evade the vicious circles which the introduction of illegitimate totalities involve.

Russell calls the arguments which involve the vicious-circle principle, ‘vicious-

circle fallacies’.

As an example, Russell gives the two-valued law of ‘excluded third’, formulated

in the form that ‘all propositions are true or false’. We involve a vicious-circle

fallacy if we argue that the law of excluded third takes the form of a proposition,

and, therefore, may be evaluated as true or false. Before we can make any statement

about ‘all propositions’ legitimate, we must limit it in some way so that a statement

about this totality must fall outside this totality.

Thus I can make the statement "all physics is uncertain" as long as this itself is not considered a physics statement.

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I can see the different shades of meaning of 'perverse' and I maintain that none of them applied to me :)

My point (which Ted has not addressed), is that there is no such thing as "the way reality behaves", all we have is models. Think about it. We have a theory about some phenomenon which has been validated for hundreds of year (like addition of velocities) and one day the theory doesn't work (with lightwaves). Has the "way reality behaves" changed or have we found a problem with our model?

Let me state that your meaning was quite clear to me, and if there might be a misunderstanding there is still no reason to call you "pretty perverse" = "awkward, contrary, difficult, unreasonable, uncooperative, unhelpful, obstructive..." There is still such a thing as the principle of charity, but that seems to be unknown in the Objectivist world.

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Thus I can make the statement "all physics is uncertain" as long as this itself is not considered a physics statement.

Does this mean that any statement about "all of physics" must be made from outside of physics? Does this then mean that any rational general statement about all of physics might be a philosophical statement? Does this then mean that the laws of physics might rest on metaphysical statements? Does this then mean that the principles that guide our metaphysics might be important in shaping the context for our understanding of physics?

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Does this mean that any statement about "all of physics" must be made from outside of physics?
Yes.
Does this then mean that any rational general statement about all of physics might be a philosophical statement?
I suppose, not quite sure what you mean by 'a philosophical statement'.
Does this then mean that the laws of physics might rest on metaphysical statements?
No, it only concerns "illegitimate totalities". I think we should avoid the expression 'laws of physics' as it implies some unchanging "reality". If we think of physics as a physical model then we imply something that is under constant scrutiny in an effort to maintain it's accuracy and predictability.
Does this then mean that the principles that guide our metaphysics might be important in shaping the context for our understanding of physics?

Again no, I think that's a different issue. This is strictly about ‘vicious-circle fallacies’ . I made a certain statement about the uncertainty of physics, which is ok, but if I made a certain statement like "all statements are uncertain" then the question arises whether this applies to itself or not. It cannot or else we contradict ourselves.

PS - An example that might make this clear is the statement "all my statements are lies". It is obvious that in order to be legitimate it must be restricted to "all my statements are lies, except this one" or "all my previous statements were lies". :)

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See also here. It probably won't stop endless "I couldn't resist" posts in the future, however...

Dragonfly,

Of course I could resist. I have free will. Sometimes it's fun not to resist. Tongue was definitely planted firmly in cheek.

Paul

PS- I'm not a "scoffing Objectivist." I am more someone who's thinking includes some Objectivist principles and who's way of interpreting the world includes an Objectivist orientation (and more).

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Of course I could resist. I have free will. Sometimes it's fun not to resist. Tongue was definitely planted firmly in cheek.

I wasn't thinking of you...

Ooops! I see my cunning plan to reality test my assumptions worked. Now that I know my initial assumptions, which I assumed were true, were truly incorrect, I am free to make new assumptions that may be incorrect, but I will assume are true until conflicting evidence arises.

I guess acting as though one's assumptions are true, leads to actions that reality test the assumptions. Is this what Dragonfly means on the thread "A Few Kant Quotes" by "the practical thing to do?"

In science there is no such immutable "truth", only a best guess. So the practical thing to do is to state our best guesses and call them the truth, knowing that we might be wrong...
Could the truth then be described as the particular narrative of observed and assumed events that we judge to be the best description based on such criteria as: the fewest assumptions, the assumptions making possible the integration of all the available evidence into a consistent narrative, the assumptions and narrative being consistent with all of the available evidence, and the assumptions and narrative being consistent within the context of all other things we assume to be true?

Paul

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In science there is no such immutable "truth", only a best guess.

Paul,

Sorry to use an embedded quote and not quote your words, but if that statement does not say LOUD AND CLEAR that philosophy is far more important than science, I don't know what does.

According to Dragonfly above, his statement of philosophy is true while science can never be.

I find that ironic...

:)

Michael

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Sorry to use an embedded quote and not quote your words, but if that statement does not say LOUD AND CLEAR that philosophy is far more important than science, I don't know what does.

According to Dragonfly above, his statement of philosophy is true while science can never be.

This is a classic example of a non sequitur. Is philosophy more important than science because science knows from experience its own limitations and you interpret this knowledge as "philosophy"? You must be desperate...

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Dragonfly,

Desperate?

Heh.

I don't hold philosophy as more important than science.

You do.

:)

(And I don't, either.)

You said so the moment you give philosophy the power of truth that you deny science.

I learned in elementary logic that something (like your philosophy statement about science) cannot be true and not true at the same time. I learned that this is called a contradiction.

Maybe you have different thoughts or would like to qualify your edict? Or maybe your idea of logic entails contradictions as valid? I don't see how, but I am listening...

Michael

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I don't hold philosophy as more important than science.

You do.

:)

Oh, I didn't know that telepathy was one of your skills.

You said so the moment you give philosophy the power of truth that you deny science.

Nonsense. This assumes that an absolute truth is automatically more important than a tentative truth. In fact absolute truths are often quite banal, for example "a bachelor is not married" is absolutely true, but is this truth really more important than the discovery of the top quark? "Power of truth"... it exists only in your imagination!

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Dragonfly,

Telepathy?

Nice try, but there was a continuation to my post you conveniently left out.

You are sidestepping the issue and it won't go away no matter how many times you say "nonesense" or try to derail it.

Is the following statement true or false?

In science there is no such immutable "truth", only a best guess.

That is a whole different ball game than "a bachelor is not married."

Michael

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DF said ;

I do not attach great importance to endless definitions of what the "real" meaning of "true" is. In mathematics a statement is "true" if you can derive it from the axioms used. That kind of "truth" is immutable. In science there is no such immutable "truth", only a best guess.

He said "true" propositions were possible in mathematics, NOT philosophy, or anywhere else. 2-valued logic (ie. "true or false" ) only works absolutely in mathematics, anywhere else it only works relatively.

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Dragonfly,

Telepathy?

Yes, because you're telling me that I hold philosophy as more important than science. You cannot know that, that's only how you interpret my statement, which in itself says nothing whatsoever about the importance of philosophy versus science.

Nice try, but there was a continuation to my post you conveniently left out.

No, it was an accurate comment, as I've shown above.

Is the following statement true or false?

In science there is no such immutable "truth", only a best guess.

That is a whole different ball game than "a bachelor is not married."

Of course the statement is true, but it's not a big deal. It's another way of saying that we are not omniscient, a rather trivial truth. Only a philosopher can think that this is something Very Deep and that such trivialities make his profession important.

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So, Michael, did you ever get a reply to your letter to Sarah?

Judith

Judith,

In fact I did. She said she was going to publish it in the Google Group and I have been waiting for her to do that before presenting it here. Since she is taking so long, I will email her and request permission to post it first.

There were also a few posts on the thread in their group where she posted my letter expressing great satisfaction with my attitude.

Michael

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