Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ongoing Criticism of Philosophers: Steve Pavlina

In contrast to many of my posts, this time Steve's done something pretty admirable.

He's taken a real, most likely irrevocable risk for what he believes in.

He's written a concise, clear and blunt critique of a very common mental trope. By criticizing religion, especially in general, and double especially with the actual heart of the problems of religion, he risks alienating not only some of his traffic, but society at large. He's brought out the moral dimension, and he's not pulling punches. If you read this, there's no honorable way to retreat, extemporize or ignore. It is not polite, it is not socially accepted, even as an eccentricity.

Yet, it is something that many, many people need to think about. Steve's using his A-list traffic as a weapon against dishonesty and corruption, and he's not being shy about it.

Though unfortunately somewhat lacking in actual supporting evidence, the missing evidence is common enough that you can supply your own.

Note also that his core argument isn't actually moral. It's functional; if you want to be highly conscious, you can't hang around self-contradictory frauds. "Those who try to mentally process such glaring contradictions as coherent truth invariably suffer for it."

Steve somewhat manages to hold himself back pure insults, at least at first. "Seriously, if you have insomnia, try reading religious texts before bedtime." It's a shame that the second half of the article doesn't live up to the promise of the first. Steve gets bogged down somewhat in common complaints, like the well-known Church pedophiles. I don't really care about that; I want to hear him talk about how religions inherently interfere with conscious living. The Church could just be having a bad time, which would be a strictly engineering complaint. I can imagine a Church that prevented such things, the fact that it apparently isn't is probably due to general malaise rather than the Church specifically.

If you're going to write a polemic, you need to use polemic arguments, and stay on topic. Anything else is a weakness to be exploited. Don't insult unless you really can't help yourself; it makes you look weak as well. If your arguments stand on their own, why attack your opponents emotionally? Hate is an emotion, not an argument. I'm actually wondering if Steve has had a really off day, considering how long he usually goes on about love and understanding, as indeed he does again later in the article.

It's nice to know that he's apparently aware of the actual consequences of his subjectivity-first doctrine. "First, there’s the idiocy option. You can willingly swallow all of the contrived, man-made drivel that’s fed to you. Accept that the earth is only 10,000 years old. Believe stories about dead bodies coming back to life. Learn about various deities and such. Put your trust in someone who thinks they know what they’re talking about."

Clearly, just because reality can be construed as subjective, it doesn't mean outright contradictions can exist. Good job Steve! (No, you can't intention-manifest flight.)

I would really like to put Pavlina and Molyneux in a room and watch them have it out. I think their thrashings would be extremely instructive - I would learn a great deal about both of them.

Finally, "God isn’t going to smite you for not formally worshipping him. If he didn’t smite me by now, it’s a safe bet you’ll slide beneath the radar as well." So there's half a point to insulting everyone who the article is aimed at. It isn't an excuse, however.

1 comment:

Alrenous said...

Even if I have to work, I will fairly represent the other side.

Through (some) digging I've found Steve's justification for this article.