Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Nobody Wants A Falsifiable Religion

Spandrell was talking about Jordan Peterson yesterday:

And as I had expected, Sam Harris trounced Jordan Peterson. Completely. The podcast got into a complete bog down on epistemology, where Jordan Peterson tried to define the word “truth” as “good”, and Harris wasn’t buying it, explaining 30 times how it’s very useful to have a concept of truth which is separate from the concept of good. Peterson stood his ground and confronted with volley after volley of sheer logic, refused to concede the point.

But Spandrell likes Peterson, mostly because Spandrell knows we need a new religion.

Now, I am not going to listen to a Harris podcast, but I did comment, because I know there is a category of knowledge that you can't really defend. Like when I realized how so many people hold the past and future as existent. It causes all sorts of problems. It means, for instance, that people generally tend to think the category of what is is much larger than it actually is. If you analyze the logic of this unfortunate impression, what exists would be infinite.

But anyway, an idea like truth=good would collapse things down considerably, and this is particularly hard for people to take. Much has already been thought of and imagined, and what can you say?

So this is what I was trying to get across to Spandrell, that sometimes it is just going to suck. Especially if you want a religion.

I am not sure that Peterson is right on this one; it just reminded me about other truths- about suddenly having an insight and seeing this whole area of thought sort of collapse, and then realizing I was fucked because there was no way I was going to explain that to anyone. They have the thoughts. They perceive them as real.

It occurred to me that this is why religions have practices and liturgy. Isegoria mentioned Jordan Peterson yesterday too- apparently Peterson has a practice called self-authoring. I have Peterson's book, but I haven't gotten to the particulars of this yet. But Spandrell thinks Peterson needs to be able to verbally defend this idea that good=truth. I don't think so. If it is valid, but unexplainable, then a practice is the sort of thing you need. Things can be accepted as provisionally true- you can act as if it is true. You can discover the truth through the practice.

In the midst of this, I realized Karl Popper was so very massively wrong. Well, he didn't really care about religion, so for his purposes, perhaps he wasn't wrong. But for those who figure out religion is important- you don't want falsifiable statements. You want to improve. You don't want anyone testing whether or not you are still mortal, especially not while you are still mortal.

If Peterson is wrong about truth=good, he's probably wrong because he still wants to be an atheist. He'd rather delineate via known and unknown rather than created and uncreated. You can't really get there while still being an atheist. Peterson is heading in a good direction, but right now his practice is mostly psychological. Modern psychological therapy is like a sad, stunted version of what confession used to be, so I suspect his self-authoring exercise will be similar.

Certain truths will continue to be unobtainable by mere explanation. Practice, liturgy, willingness to not poke at the unlikely stories- because that will be tempting no matter the circumstances- hierarchy.

The main thing broken in Christianity is hierarchy.

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