Monday, September 11, 2006

Greatest hits

I actually wrote this in an e-mail to a couple of my friends, but I had planned on posting this story anyway, so I just copied and pasted. (I left the first part because I liked the segway).

Anyway, evil is a history professor assigning a freshman ESL (English as a Second Language) student an essay on Aristotle's Ethics. I swear I spent an hour with this poor student trying to figure out what the hell Aristotle was going on about. I've seen ESL essays that made more sense than this thing. (And I probably shouldn't have told the poor kid that I didn't actually bother to read anything when I took philosophy 101). Anyway, I've come to the conclusion that Aristotle's English skills were a little weak (yes, that was supposed to be funny. It was like the comments that English was good enough for Jesus. Speaking of Jesus, I had 9-11 jesus freaks at the door today. No, it wasn't nine to eleven of them--they just wanted to take anvantage of a national day of mourning to convert the godless heathens. Anyway, I was late for class and Mom had sworn several times that the best way to get rid of door-to-door missionaries is to just tell them that you are a secular humanist. She says it worked better than telling them you are an athiest or satanist. Anyway, I told the old broads that I was a secular humanist and waited for them to recoil in horror. No such luck! The main woman looked at me blandly and said that she didn't know what a secular humanist was! Agh! Fu*k fu*k fu*k! Moral of the story: Next time missionaries knock on your door on 9-11, throw on a head scarf before answering the door and tell them you are a Muslim.)


At 6:08 PM, Anonymous Anna said...

What a tangled web we weave, when at first we intend to deceive.

At 8:20 PM, Blogger STAG said...

So ARE you a secular humanist?

At 3:19 PM, Blogger Ovonia Red said...

Stag, I'm maybe partially a SH.

I coped off the tenents of secular humanism from Wikipedia:

Secular humanism describes a world view with the following elements and principles:[4]

"Need to test beliefs - A conviction that dogmas, ideologies and traditions, whether religious, political or social, must be weighed and tested by each individual and not simply accepted on faith."

-->Yup, but just for me personally. I would not force another person to confront their beliefs (unless I saw that their beliefs were hurting another person). Basically, I would not force my beliefs on another and I expect that others would not force their beliefs on me.

"Reason, evidence, scientific method - Commitment to the use of critical reason, factual evidence, and scientific methods of inquiry, rather than faith and mysticism, in seeking solutions to human problems and answers to important human questions."

-->Yes and No. I believe in the scientific method, but I don't think that is the only tool that should be used to solve all problems. I can't deny that faith plays an important role in some people's lives and how they solve problems. Instead of telling them they are wrong, I think it is more important to ask what faith gives them that science cannot provide.

"Fulfillment, growth, creativity - A primary concern with fulfillment, growth, and creativity for both the individual and humankind in general."

-->Yup. No-brainer.

"Search for truth - A constant search for objective truth, with the understanding that new knowledge and experience constantly alter our imperfect perception of it."

-->Yup, the key being that we have an imperfect perception of truth. I don't believe that human beings can ever be totally objective.

"This life - A concern for this life and a commitment to making it meaningful through better understanding of ourselves, our history, our intellectual and artistic achievements, and the outlooks of those who differ from us."

-->Yup, but I don't think we can force our interpretation of our history and acheivements on others. Each individual's understanding of history is going to be different (and never objective).

Ethics - A search for viable individual, social and political principles of ethical conduct, judging them on their ability to enhance human well-being and individual responsibility.

-->Ethics is always a tricky thing, I think. Sure, there are the obvious ones (don't kill your parents), but then there are the hazier ones (to kill or not to kill convicted psychopaths?). I wonder sometimes if principles of ethics are based on an ideal of objectivity that human beings just do not possess.

"Building a better world - A conviction that with reason, an open exchange of ideas, good will, and tolerance, progress can be made in building a better world for ourselves and our children."

-->Yes, but... the word "reason" always gives me pause because I think reason is culturally determined. Thus, my idea of reason is going to be very different from a Baptist's idea of reason (or a German's idea of reason, or a Hindu's idea of reason).

Anyway, those are just some of my rambly thoughts on SH. I'm (obviously) not a philosopher or a whatever, so these are maybe just the ramblings of an average person.


At 8:50 PM, Blogger Luqman لقمان said...

Telling them your Muslim won't work, trust me. I've had the missionaries (especially Jehovah's Witnesses) wip out entire magazines dedicated to converting Muslims. The Jesus painter has a file marked 'Islam' that he keeps on his person just in case some Muslim should object to what he's saying. Ahhh... I remember when I was a secular humanist of sorts (never liked the official Secular Humanists though; they're a bit too much to the Right for my tastes). I hope every thing's going for the best in your life my friend.


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