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Nicholas Lukowiak

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Virtue Epistemology: Is there such a thing as a positive/negative spectrum of thinking in pursuit of obtaining knowledge?

Epistemological Ethics or Virtue Epistemology is pretty straight forward - it is the concern of being ethical while pursing knowledge and understanding.

My questions are:
Where is the line between 'positive' and 'negative' thinking? *This also calls into question: morality and ethics.

What would a positive spectrum of thinking look like?

What does positive thinking mean to you. and does your determination consider [religious] faith as a negative?

Is it really negative, if the actions (prevention of actions) in the longevity' prove positive?

Are actions (prevention of actions) not louder than words?
+ No harm no foul, is a rhyme for a reason!

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This conversation is about epistemology. What is knowledge? How do we know 'truth'? When is knowing = believing and believing = knowing?

Faith can be called in this debate. Knowing, in the sense 'knowing' without 'proof' - but KNOWING.
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An example of a debating issue; inspired by another conversation: I have found the ideal of 'faith' has negative associations. Yet I believe the distaste comes from 'religious dogma' rather than simply 'faith'.

Why religious dogma proves irrational in epistemological ethics: In longevity of actions, religious faith in thought - proves irrational and biased - while - consciously refusing alternative considerations to 'said' thought(s).

Yet, why does that argument have a negative connotation? Don't people have faith about things that are not religious? Can't we be faithful about thoughts in nonreligious subjects?

The biggest problem with the religious faith came from the negative in the actions.. Harming others, being arrogant, getting angry when someone disagrees with you/them, not listening to someone because they do not share this fundamental dogma...

Disclaimer: NOT all are intrinsic features in modern fundamental religion, historically; more so.
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So when is your knowledge virtuous (or in the positive spectrum)?

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    Sep 19 2012: My Dear Nicholas,
    This is very simple....like all your other questions and comments!!!! LOL:>)
    I really love how you explore ideas:>)

    "Virtue Epistemology: Is there such a thing as a positive/negative spectrum of thinking in pursuit of obtaining knowledge?"

    Positive and negative are subjective "labels" when refering to "thinking", are they not?

    With that in mind, would the "line between 'positive' and 'negative' thinking" also be subjective depending on an individual's personal morality and ethics?

    "What would a positive spectrum of thinking look like?".......It would look like Colleen and most of her comments:>)

    "What does positive thinking mean to you. and does your determination consider [religious] faith as a negative?"

    Positive thinking to me, means looking for solutions.
    I do not perceive religious faith as negative. I think/feel it is very important how one uses the information provided by religions. HOW we do something, is often more important than WHAT we do. I am more impressed with religious people who actually walk their talk. Not at all impressed when the actions of religious people are not consistant with their words.

    Yes, I believe that actions speak louder than words.

    I agree that distaste for religions often comes from " 'religious dogma' rather than simply 'faith'."

    Personally, I know many very devoted, religious people who do not need to impose their beliefs on others. That is annoying and sends the message that I am not intelligent, or informed enough to make my own decisions. I find the insistance to try to convince me that their belief is the one and only "right" belief very distastful.

    "So when is your knowledge virtuous (or in the positive spectrum)?"

    In my humble perception, information is "virtuous" (morally excellent) and "positive", when we can share information with an open mind, open heart, respect, and realize that others have virtuous, positive information which may not agree with ours:>)
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      Sep 19 2012: First person to really answer! Lol that all i wanted. To find parallels of what everyone thinks is virtuous in knowledge.. Of course this is all subjective. Knowledge doesn't become knowledge until consensus is created and deemed absolute or objective.
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        Sep 19 2012: Well thank you Professor Lukowiak:>) I am learning a lot from you. Do I get a gold star?

        I agree...knowledge does not become knowledge until consensus is created and deemed absolute or objective. Up to that point, it is theory....conjecture.... speculation....desire...projection.... Whatever!
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    Sep 19 2012: Firstly, let it be clear that the human mind is not completely ruled by reason. We all have faith in one thing or another even though a few people mock others whose faith is based on religion.

    When a bungee is tied to someone's feet, even though his/her reason is convinced that bungee jumping is safe(and his or her faith is based on reasoning), such a person may fear because of emotions and imagination.
    Not everything can be termed irrational for lack of evidence because not every real thing has evidence(as if the purpose of life and nature is to answer our questions and satisfy our curiousity by presenting every evidence that we need).
    It is usually conmen and fraudsters who try too hard to make all evidence available in order to be convincing, because such an evil soul knows the reasoning of his or her victim.

    Usually the wise human being is aware of the double-edged quality of knowledge. But most of us know the good use and the bad use. If good and evil are subjective, why is it that no serial killer has been given national honours, rapists are not presented as mentors; liars,traitors and terrorists are not approved.

    This is simply because there is a real right and wrong; and there are basics of right and that most right thinking human being know.

    Knowledge should be aimed at improving the human condition.
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    Sep 23 2012: Perhaps there are at least a couple of dimensions.

    Is a claim true or correct. You can go down all rabbit holes here if you go to extremes and absolutes. We are limited by our senses and perception, but some things are reasonably verifiable where we might say I know something. I know I have a sofa.

    Is a claim or belief useful, whether it is a correct interpretation or verifiable or not.

    I guess religious beliefs does offer consolations like believing you will meet your loved ones in the afterlife whether reasonable to believe or not.

    The flip side of supernatural intuitive beliefs is when they have negative consequences but you have little basis for debate because they are a protected species of belief. You might do more due diligence hiring a gardener, that you can see and touch and have a 2 way human conversation and check references, then some religion you tithe 10% to and dedicate your life too. Odd. But probably partly explicable via evolutionary and cognitive scientific understandings.

    How do you debate when someone believes they have received the absolute truth from the creator of the universe.
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      Sep 23 2012: You debate by allowing even the slightest bit of denial and doubt to become apart of even your most faith filled thoughts.
  • Sep 21 2012: What are lines between positive and negative thinking hmmm... interesting question this all depends on how we are defining positive and negative and in what context you are using them? Positive and negative for whom? Theres a large amount of intuition and feeling associated with thought and i'm not sure if at any point one has control over these emotions/feelings. I think the nature of this question bothers me on some level. Its a bit of a dangerous road to go down when attempting to judge ones thoughts as positive or negative, after all it is the action which counts. However i've just run into a problem with my last sentence, if it is the action which counts then at some point, consciously or unconsciously, I have deemed a thought worthy of action and thus judged my thoughts. I think the real question is how can you bring your impulses and thoughts into the forefront of consciousness so they can at least be observed and then acted upon or suppressed. My belief is that the brain only allows certain thoughts to enter the conscious mind as it must abide by the pleasure principle. If certain thoughts are to painful or cause to much conflict then they shall remain unconscious yet still can be acted upon. I think theres a case to be made that its impossible to see ones own thoughts as positive or negative, they are influenced so deeply by unseen forces.

    I started a thread a while back that has some relation to this.
    http://www.ted.com/conversations/11840/is_introspection_possible.html
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      Sep 21 2012: One of my questions is: Is it really negative, if the actions (prevention of actions) in the longevity prove positive?

      Of course, the introspective nature of decisions is apart of their ethical implications. By recognizing this, Brian, I hope you are more prone to understanding what would be positive in light of epistemological ethics!

      "I think the real question is how can you bring your impulses and thoughts into the forefront of consciousness so they can at least be observed and then acted upon or suppressed."

      Then you go on to assert that positive and negative emotions can alter perception... So there we go that is where I am getting at, 'positive spectrum' of thought - is it really positive if you just reacted and did not reflect, pause and/or question your reactions? If so, why?

      Indeed, part of virtuous thinking is to be self defeating and to self actualize about one's own decision making and thought processing - constantly.

      Where can we draw lessons of what is virtuous?

      History more than anywhere else.

      It is not impossible to know whether we are in a good or bad pursuit of knowledge - since the beginning of philosophy in both customs of East and West, the question of ethics is as more profound than God(s).

      In a consensual environment of any number of people, the following will always be the result of negative thinking: murder, rape, irrationality, lying, stealing, manipulating and but not limited to, ignorance.

      At times, on ocassion, these actions may be acceptable, even if a million people are okay with them. However, in longevity, these actions will prove negative always.

      There is no clear cut line between negative and positive thinking - which is why I asked this question! But at the same time, there are apparent natures to the positive spectrum of thinking.
      • Sep 24 2012: Nicholas, these types of questions make me wish I could just speak with you directly, as there is much to discuss and dissect here.

        "is it really positive if you just reacted and did not reflect, pause and/or question your reactions? If so, why?"
        As outlined in "Civilization and i'ts Discontents" our primal reactions seem to defeat us in a society. So what is the nature of "defeat" in a society, well, i guess it would best be characterized as damaging the self or damaging ones social standing. Often these two examples go hand in hand. Robert Sapolsky clearly outlines that the size of your cortex is in direct relation to social navigating and the size of your clan. We need a more potent frontal lobe in order to restrain instinct. However there are many examples where reacting with instinct may prove to be very positive, mostly for imminent survival purposes. So if one deems survival important and as a living creature I certainly do, I guess unrestrained and unquestioned instinct can be positive.

        I wish I could say an individual can recognize a good or bad pursuit of knowledge simply by intuition or feeling associated with the thought. If you have ever had a cathartic introspective breakthrough you know exactly what I mean. There is a feeling associated with that, which is similar to hearing a beautiful piece of music, or creating something which you are proud of. I cringe to lump this feeling in with other pleasures, such as intoxicants or the pleasure of releasing certain instincts. If one is attempting to look inward and decipher his/her train of thought through feeling this is a very, very, deceptive and messy road.

        "in a consensual environment of any number of people, the following will always be the result of negative thinking: murder, rape, irrationality, lying, stealing, manipulating and but not limited to, ignorance."
        Has there ever been a consensual environment in the history of humanity?
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          Sep 24 2012: " So if one deems survival important and as a living creature I certainly do, I guess unrestrained and unquestioned instinct can be positive. "

          I often consider 'survival' to be the meaning of life. Happiness, knowing, rationality, contention, etc. are all derived from the instinct to want to survive and dominant reality - both individually and as a species.

          So, yes I agree with your statements entirely, but we are in no way limited to our natures. We can supersede even the most innate instinct. Unrestrained and unquestioned instinct is a constant in our cognition, it requires metacognition to be more than what we are instinctually.

          Of course we cannot 'know' without 'knowing' - we must be taught, and most likely experience what it is to be virtuous. However, at the same exact time, it does not take life altering lessons to learn virtue, but it does take reflection. Knowing what is good and bad will never come from just 'knowing' but trying to 'know'.

          A consensual environment: religious organizations, governments, scientific enterprises, and/or variations of all three.
      • Sep 24 2012: What do you think is intrinsic in positive thought? Is it the loss of self serving instinct that is intrinsic in these pursuits? Is it possible to not serve the self, some may say no ,but that does not mean that one cannot have two motives simultaneously. What do you think?
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          Sep 24 2012: What will be intrinsic in positive thinking is a combination of culture, humanism beliefs and family values. What is considered positive will not necessarily be the best traits of any of the three. But rather those traits relating to one another significantly - for the improvement of the future.

          Method:
          - Not accepting you are right/correct because others tell you, rather investigating for oneself the longevity of your decision making - in both thoughts and actions.

          Defeating oneself in self actualization... Will be the struggle between man and man's instinct. When am I naturally being biased, irrational, and ignorant? How can I prevent that?

          Altruism... That seems to make people happy, yet, they do it selectively, is it possible to not be selective in the pursuit of catering for/to others?

          You already know your own answers Brian.

          At the point society dictates that community is no greater than the weakest member in the society, we will be constantly working to make sure we are the greatest society. When everyone is taught and trained to be genuinely concerned about one another, then their will be humanitarianism that is not biased.

          This multiculturalism (plus existentialism) in ideology is part of what Natasha suggest 'collective consciousness' - like a singularity point of evolution for humans to strive for.

          We can be selfish and be selfless at the same time. We can worry about self improvement while not harming one another. Also we can have everything we want, while never taking away from anyone else.

          Ironically the system we live in today contradicts every word I suggested here. But we all want the same things at the end of the day.

          What those basic desires are, become crafted by societal norms. Change the norms, change how people think together, for themselves and overall for the future.

          I guess that is my theme, future thinking, concerning oneself not with the most beneficial in the moment, but for every moment we have left to experience.
  • Sep 19 2012: what does a virtuous thinking look like?

    Maybe we should remember that thinking is nothing more than creating a map. Sure, it is more desirable to have a 'right ' map not a 'flawed' one, so it should be tested against direct life experiences and measured by its usefulness in reducing conflict and sorrow in the world. I agree with somebody who said : It's more important to be kind than right :)
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      Sep 19 2012: So then what is your map of virtuous thinking look like?
      • Sep 19 2012: While thinking we are creating belief system, i think, it's inevitable, but we should keep it lightly without the emotional attachment to it. If you strongly believe in something, be it a religious or scientific version of explanation you cut yourself from the possibility to analyze the new input which may not fit to your belief system rationally. What knowledge could be gained ? Mind will be busy with calibrating and selfconfirming something which it calls 'knowledge' by its own definition .
        It's just a map :)
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          Sep 19 2012: Sounds Vulcan mythology-like lol.

          I find this would be excellent. What if I was to say that there existing belief systems that are aligned with your critique?

          Check out religious naturalism and see if you can relate! Get back to me!
      • Sep 19 2012: Re : "what is a good standard for ethical gaining of knowledge?"
        I guess, the direct experiences should be the primary data. For that you need to be truly attentive to those. We tend to confuse knowledge gained with knowledge told .
      • Sep 20 2012: Hi, Nicholas ,
        I have never heard about Religious naturalism, so googled it a bit yesterday and no way can claim for the true deep understanding of the phenomenon. As far as i understand, the term is recent but the ideas have been here ( let's call it collective consciousness/unconsciousness ) quite a while.
        Zeno, Spinoza, Lao Tzu to name the few of the contributors to the idea that shaped the attitude and i do share it. But i wouldn't support the idea to make it a new age religion.
        Do we learn anything from history ? When people start to sing together they tend to forget about the song.
        So look here :
        "Religious naturalists will be known for their reverence and awe before Nature, their love for Nature and natural forms, their sympathy for all living things, their GUILT for enlarging the ecological footprints, their PRIDE in reducing them, their sense of gratitude directed towards the matrix of life, their CONTEMPT for those who abstract themselves from natural values, and their SOLIDERITY with those who link their self-esteem to sustainable living " ( the emphasis is mine )
        Here is the trap : the division into 'us' and ' them '.
        No, thanks, we have enough of this stuff already :)
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          Sep 20 2012: Well then you missed the mark on the ideal! Not simply an us or them thing... but rather what you began to suggest.

          Its a collective consciousness ideology. Religious naturalism is without borders. Unless the individual decides to create them.
      • Sep 21 2012: Dividing into ' us' and ' them' is what religion eventually does; initially aiming to bind together ( re ligare ) it separates . And no wonder , two opposites always come into existence together. That's why I've suggested not to convert a natural reverence into a religion. That's what thinking, language and words can do , the sum of it all creates a virtual reality and it can be easily hijacked and misused and that becomes real with quite real consequences.
        And i don't quite understand "collective consciousness ideology " Do we mean Jung ' collective consciousness ' ? " A part of the unconscious mind, expressed in humanity and all life forms" Doesn't it go beyond ideology ?
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          Sep 21 2012: A lot more than religion behaves like religion does in groupthinking...

          I have found those recognize themselves as actively aware they are being submitted to groupthought prove more aware of how that group affects/effect their ability to think and respond to others.

          Example: This 'atheist' trend is no religious movement, but at the same time those who are actively atheist, tend to act and behave like other more popular atheist. Dawkins and Harris are two of the biggest idols in the young atheist community. It appears we cannot escape religious thought...

          By the above example: Religious naturalist anticipate the fact we are prone to religious behavior as apart of human nature. With this anticipation follows ignosticism, the platinum rule, humanism, naturalism and, but not limited to, multiculturalism.

          I cannot see how the virtual reality of constant inspection, would be a bad one - especially since it was your response to what virtuous thinking would look like.

          "Collective consciousness" - I do not want to infringe a definition, however, the idea is as old as philosophy itself. Our souls are the divine instrument in which wisdom is collected. That by reaching and understanding oneself and [human] nature, one can tap into greater knowing and understanding.

          It does go beyond ideology because we do have very real instincts that create bias, irrational and ignorant pursuits of understanding the world. To recognize these real factors, is to become a better human being - arguable - and that doesn't come from any dogma or superstition.

          In no way am I converting you to religious naturalism Natasha, lol, because you are already one by understanding the nature of religion.

          Just remember, 'religious behavior' is not limited to those who necessarily believe in religion or are actively being religious in the moment.
      • Sep 21 2012: You are right about groupthinking, it's difficult not to notice. Is there such a term ' collective ego ' ? If not , it's time to introduce it :) And atheists and religious believers are two sides of the same coin, though they do not care to discuss it
        The only thing that warns me in Religious naturalism is ' guilt ' ' pride' 'contemp' 'solidarity '. Those four can be glued to one, easily recognizable pattern.
        Can we do without organization or movement ? What is natural is the sense of beauty, it is downloaded in our DNA , if you see the beauty of nature in all its forms and feel as a part of it, you can't harm it, it would be unnatural. This feeling deeply colours the thinking and influence the behaviour. And i think, it's enough, it's what you are responsible for. If you start to condemn and fight against those who don't share your 'good' 'right ' attitude in noble attempt to save the planet you don't know where it can lead you.
        Sure, I could be wrong here, only future can tell. And whatever you choose it's a right choice :)
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          Sep 21 2012: Lol, I am assured 'collective ego' can be easily understood in groupthought theory..

          While at the same time groups seem problematic, they are mainly so because they believe the group mindset is superior to other individuals or mindsets...

          Having a group mentality that recognizes it's entire situation of what it is - a groupthought. Then it can be better.

          Yes, it is still religious-like - but we cannot escape this reality, rather we should work with it!
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    Sep 19 2012: Is there such a thing as negative and positive really?

    What is this: thinking?

    What is meant by knowledge?

    Bodily knowledge that knows everything necessary is progressively neglected as we value and trust more and more often mental knowledge: that which can be put into words.

    Does thinking include feeling or is it just the comparison of images from which we calculate or recombine to suit our need.

    What is positive to one can be negative for someone else. In fact there is none of these that doesn't contain its opposite.

    Faith is important to build and go forward as is lack of faith destructive on both. Some religions however have institutionalized that faith by presenting images of the psyche as real stories. Now faith has becomes believing.
    As we had to choose between more and more religious versions one had to ask: "What do you believe?" It changed from the word beloved as people did to the generator of life into what words do you trust to be true.
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      Sep 19 2012: - OF course there is such a thing as good and bad; where each stem from in time and place is a constant concern.
      - Thinking = metacognition v. cognition
      - Knowledge is the claim to understand and have reason. Justified true belief = knowledge.

      Fran,

      The debate here is not knowledge itself, but of course it is foundational - the debate here is what does a virtuous thinking look like?
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        Sep 19 2012: Virtuous thinking is no thinking at all.
        In thinking we are judgmental, valuing and revaluing while acceptance and forgiveness are virtuous.

        Do you know anything bad that wasn't good in some way or vice versa?

        To know is to understand you say and understanding is to formulate to yourself what you couldn't grasp before, so to know you need words but what you need to know has no need for them. Hence knowledge can deceive, knowing doesn't as any living creature shows. Therefore it is virtuous to not think but feel for feelings don't deceive.
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          Sep 19 2012: So valuing and revaluing - judgements while accepting and forgiving - virtue, cannot inhibit the same stream of thought? Virtuous thinking would require extra efforts of thought!

          " Do you know anything bad that wasn't good in some way or vice versa?"

          Repeating (and not learning from) history as individuals and society is never good.

          I would say feelings deceive more often than thought does, but at the same time they are no mutually existing entities involved in the psyche. Cognitive bias theory suggest this claim intrinsically; that humans are irrational due to emotions blinding us from looking at something in retrospectives and in relation to the future (longevity).
        • Sep 19 2012: Hi, Frans !!!
          'no thinking at all ' would be ideal, but it's what we do , we think. I don't think, anybody would give up this entertainment while alive :)
          I guess the trick is to think without judgement . Is it humanly possible ?
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        Sep 19 2012: Learning from history always happens either easy or the hard way. It can take some time though.

        I don't know theory but in my way of seeing emotion is the physical expression of feelings. They only deceive as we check them with reason or want to have control on them.

        We can manipulate our feelings by our thoughts because the body responds to any input. If the source of input isn't actual reality but thoughts we put over it, project on to it, the response of the body won't be accurate and thus not trustworthy.

        With our thinking we always live in the past that we project in to the future, always missing the moment we live.
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          Sep 19 2012: Does another empire really need to fall before we learn from history? Do wars need to be broken out because of classic misunderstandings? Must bigotry exist solely because of misinterpretation?

          That to me sounds negative, indeed, when learned from it will prove beneficial, but in the mean time it is nothing positive... Being ignorant of history and repeating mistakes is in no way a positive spectrum of thought. Considering what might/will happen doesn't dismiss fault.

          The difference between thought and emotion are purely argumentative, in cognition they are one of the same. Emotions store memory and react to stimuli with feeling in order to react with thought and action... Conscious and unconsciously.. There is no real dividing line between thought and emotion.
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    Sep 19 2012: Those who view faith from the outside see it as a negative, because it seems blind to reality.

    Those who do subscribe to a faith appear almost forcibly positive (and therefore unrealistic). All negativity, which some would say gives a sense of balance in one's worldview, is all but banished - or smothered by the teachings within that faith.

    On the other hand, one who takes a negative view is less likely to be bound by external doctrine. He/she would have the freedom to think beyond faith and belief, into the realities of their own (and maybe even others') existence. Unfortunately the negative view is closely connected to depression and other 'mental health problems', which incidentally, we seek to medicalize into an acceptable state suited to a world full of faith and belief systems!

    Personally, I would much rather keep as robust a sense of reality of the world I live in as I can, even though it entails negativity and sometimes depression. Being positive and 'happy' within the comfort of a faith would be too saccharine sweet for me, and would mask the true taste of life.

    Having said all that, I do understand those who have the need to subscribe to religious faith. If that faith is free from politics and commercialsm, then I have no problem with it. I would go so far as to say that faith, belief and possibly even religion, are ingrained in the evolution of the human psyche. It has just become prominent in some, but dormant in others.

    If a 'faith' has ulterior aims in politics or commercialism, then I become fiercely atheistic. This is because the rich seam of knowledge, virtue and ethics once contained in religion has become all but invisible in a poisonous fog of politics, greed and materialism.
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      Sep 19 2012: So the pursuit/effort of never holding religious faith is positive?
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        Sep 19 2012: I can only speak for myself when I say that I have no need to pursue a religious faith. To do so would be completely unnatural for me.

        To have no rigid faith or belief means that there is more likelihood in having an openness to all of knowledge in science, religion and philosophy - and even mythology. Such accumulated knowledge (often bound up in metaphor in religion and mythology) is far more reflective of our own psychology, rather than having a dictatorial doctrine eliciting a narrow response to a miniscule part of our thinking potential.
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    Sep 19 2012: You said, "Faith can be called in this debate. Knowing, in the sense 'knowing' without 'proof' - but KNOWING."

    Knowing without proof is NOT knowing. It is believing. Two different things.

    You said: Where is the line between 'positive' and 'negative' thinking? *This also calls into question: morality and ethics.

    This makes little sense. You get to choose what is positive thinking and what is negative thinking or what walks the line. And I cannot fathom how this instinctively calls into question morality and ethics. These are also subjective things.
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      Sep 19 2012: "Knowing without proof is NOT knowing."

      Not true, many will claim their belief in God as 'knowing' and not simply 'believing'. It's not simply cut and dry because that avoids the question prior - when is knowing = believing and believing = knowing?

      - The entire conversation is based on subjectivity - hence a debate.

      Also, sometimes we may think we are choosing the right type of thinking, but it is really in the long run until we find out if our thoughts were good or bad.
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        Sep 19 2012: Words do have meanings - just as numbers do.

        Just because people say that faith is knowing, does not mean that faith is knowing. A claim does not a fact make.
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          Sep 19 2012: Then this argument is purely semantics.

          "The purpose of words is to convey ideas. When the ideas are grasped, the words are forgotten."

          - Chuang-Tsu

          By this ideal, words have no intrinsic meaning, but rather are culturally and individually adaptable. Knowing is relative as well as it's application of faith.
      • Sep 19 2012: Nicholas,
        don't you think, that debating about 'virtuous thinking ' is like killing for peace ? :)
        Maybe we should develop a new genre , something like ' thinking thought together ' , but for the lack of a proper word , let it be a conversation.
        If you don't mind :)
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          Sep 19 2012: Lol, I would say no because 'virtuous thinking' is what religious debate is all about anyways.

          And I guess my question here is, "what is a good standard for ethical gaining of knowledge?"
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        Sep 20 2012: You said, words have no intrinsic meaning, but rather are culturally and individually adaptable

        Yes, cultures agree on core meanings of words, so if you want to redefine the word faith and have it be understood as meaning knowledge, then perhaps you should have this conversation on a christian site, because it makes no sense in the real world.
    • Sep 19 2012: As to my experience , 'knowing' is always without proof , it's too much for a mind to handle.
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        Sep 21 2012: Certainty exists without proof. That can always be the case. But knowing cannot exist without adequate evidence.

        I speak of a conversation where someone says, "I know there is a God", when in fact, the person means, "I believe or I am convinced that there is a God". Such misuse of the word " know" establishes unnecessary conflict, because many quantum physics enthusiasts are convinced that if there is a God, it is nothing like the God of the Bible, and it's probably not "a" being.. So the term "know" is threatening in its misuse.

        The phsycists are on the verge of declaring that we live in a multiverse as opposed to a universe, and with the explanation that comes with that, the Biblical God dissolves.

        So better to use commonly understood meanings for words. It eases tensions and makes interesting conversations possible.
        • Sep 21 2012: Hi, TL !
          "...knowing cannot exist without adequate evidence."

          That's maybe true , but we perceive the reality differently , what is evidence for me, for somebody else can be my subjective twist of mind :)
          I would suggest to distinguish ' knowing ' from ' knowledge " Knowing comes from insight and it's very personal and often unlanguageable , while the latter is always ' to know about ' and comes from the information provided by the culture; these two are connected but not the same .
          And talking about QM God , the Whole, it is not so different from the biblical God. I am not an expert in theology and even not a believer but it always puzzles me, why Christians believe in the Holly Other when it was said : God is within. Did Jesus claimed to be God or the anointed one, a Messiah ? As to my understanding he is Jesus of Nazareth a great teacher, enlightened who brought the message ' love each other ' clear simple and deep, which supposed to be practiced not believed in. He said " fallow me " not warship me. He is God's son as we all are , he is part of the Whole as we all are.
          Sorry, i guess i am a bit off topic here :)
          Thanks for respomding !
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        Gail . 50+

        • +1
        Sep 21 2012: Your and my views on the god-concept equivalent are the same, it appears. The semantics problem is perhaps a cultural one.

        there is a popular spiritual teacher here in America, and he speaks of "a" knowing, and I think he says that it comes from sanskrit, but I'm not sure of the source.

        Non-chrirstian Americans tend to be on-guard about christians changing the meaning of words and then hijacking them for their cause --the oppression of non-christians and their anti-intellectual stance. They keep trying to bring christianity (fundamentalist in form) into public schools, and as a result of their shenanigans, have been too successful in bringing it into government legislation. If we don't stay on-guard, America will be just another fundamentalist theocracy.

        Thanks for responding. I love the teachings of Jesus. I do try to live my life by them and did life ever turn wonderful when I realized that Jesus and Christianity have nothing left in common!
        • Sep 21 2012: "knowledge" in Sanskrit is véda . I know that, because in Russian ' ведать ' ( vedat ) means to know .
          Just in case you are interested :)
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    Sep 19 2012: "Where is the line between 'positive' and 'negative' thinking? *This also calls into question: morality and ethics."

    Something that has positive/negative qualities implies that there's also an origin/standard to compare to. That standard can be defined as the societal norms or mainstream standards. But the standard is more/less different to each person because in the end, a positive/negative thing is also a subjective thing.
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      Sep 19 2012: WE have many standards to compare good and bad thinking in history, and modern day, do we not?

      I never dismissed the fact subjectivity was apart of this conversation (knowledge v. ethics - innately are subjective). That's not the concern, the concern is what do you find to be a good mode of thinking in the positive spectrum? When is your knowledge being virtuous?

      We do not need society to dictate that our actions are right and wrong, and vice versa. So dictate what you think is universal.
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        Sep 19 2012: Sure there are many standards, just like how slavery was an acceptable standard in the past, but not really so now.

        "I never dismissed the fact subjectivity was apart of this conversation (knowledge v. ethics - innately are subjective)."
        Well, I never accused you of dismissing that fact.

        You're right that we shouldn't be dictated by society and that we need to think for ourselves, but to deny that society has no real standard and has no influence or has a small influence sounds delusional to me.

        If you were the only homosexual in the world, and everyone else around you are homosexual-haters, would your actions be different if you lived in a society where homosexuals are accepted and valued in society?

        "the concern is what do you find to be a good mode of thinking in the positive spectrum? When is your knowledge being virtuous?"

        In that case, I guess the good mode of thinking is just thinking for yourselves and formulating your own opinions. Imo, any opinion is a valuable opinion, even the perceived "bad" opinions.
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          Sep 19 2012: I do not deny society's ability to alter morality - however, this question isn't for society it is for you as an individual. The ability to existentially nitpick between cultures, philosophies, religions, and movements in thought is required, not necessarily the concerns of what already exist.

          - I like your final statement.

          Indeed, all education is worth something even if the means of learning were not favorable.

          Also - your own opinions are combinations of self thought and social thought, and thinking for yourself is 'selfish' no?

          Is it really virtuous to be inclined to think with your society? Is it okay to worry about yourself first then, at the same time?
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        Sep 19 2012: "I do not deny society's ability to alter morality - however, this question isn't for society it is for you as an individual. The ability to existentially nitpick between cultures, philosophies, religions, and movements in thought is required, not necessarily the concerns of what already exist."

        Well I mean the question asked where you draw the line between something considered positive/negative, I was using the standard of society/mainstream as a commonly used line.

        "Also - your own opinions are combinations of self thought and social thought, and thinking for yourself is 'selfish' no? "

        Yeah, it pretty much is selfish, but is selfishness really as bad as people make it out to be? I mean selflessness can be just as detrimental to society as selfishness.

        "Is it really virtuous to be inclined to think with your society?"

        Do we have a choice? lol I mean you'd have to be a total recluse who never communicates with society at all.

        Those questions are pretty subjective, so if you want my opinion, I don't think it's wrong. But again, just a friendly reminder, it is still you who makes the final judgment call on your own opinions, not me or anyone else.