We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Steven Weinberg (Nobelist in physics) says this in the recent essay “Without God” in the New York Review of Books:
[T]he worldview of science is rather chilling. Not only do we not find any point to life laid out for us in nature, no objective basis for our moral principles, no correspondence between what we think is the moral law and the laws of nature, of the sort imagined by philosophers from Anaximander and Plato to Emerson. We even learn that the emotions that we most treasure, our love for our wives and husbands and children, are made possible by chemical processes in our brains that are what they are as a result of natural selection acting on chance mutations over millions of years. And yet we must not sink into nihilism or stifle our emotions.
Really – why not?
Indeed, the materialistic, "scientific," and utilitarian views of life are cold as ice. But real scientists aren't cold. They are as emotional and "spiritual" as everybody else.
Yeah, even if one want to follow a 'cold' perspective, scientifically, those chemical processes are the result of successful generations of creatures that succeeded in reproducing.
If it is all random, then I'm sure there were variants that had no emotional reaction to their children or themselves. And when they were threatened, those people did nothing. Their DNA trail ended inside the belly of an animal or at the tip of a spear.
My dad used to say this;
"There are no real pacifists. Do you know why? BECAUSE THEY ARE ALL DEAD! THAT'S WHY!"
-- and he was right.
Thomas Nagel wrote a good essay about this once. It was called "the absurd".
"An impersonal perspective doesn't necessarily lead to nihilism. It may fail to discover independent reasons to care about what subjectively concerns us, but much that is of value and significance in the world can be understood directly only from within the perspective of a particular form of life, and this can be recognized from an external standpoint. The fact that the point of something can't be understood from the objective standpoint alone doesn't mean it must be regarded objectively as pointless. "
"If sub specie aeternitatis [from eternity's point of view] there is no reason to believe that anything matters, then that does not matter either, and we can approach our absurd lives with irony instead of heroism* or despair. "
In other words, care about what you care about and do what needs doing. But don't take yourself too seriously.
Sounds like good advice to me.
* "heroism" - this isn't an argument against heroism in the normal sense of the word. He's using the term to refer to an attitude toward life recomended by the existentialist philosoper Camus.
CS Lewis noted that if you wished to look at Pointillist painting in a reductionist way, it would never be more than just dots of color. No one can prove there is an actual picture there, just blobs of paint. He then extended it to all paintings, which could all be reduced to mere blobs of paint if one chose, with no one able to prove you wrong.
Sure, you can have that world if you want it.
Assistant Village Idiot
Paul F. Schmidt, author of Religious Knowledge, pointed out that while drugs can induce religious experience, only the genuine article is free of hangovers.