ISO...

Jul. 17th, 2017 01:28 pm
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[personal profile] mizarchivist
Fairy Spa Parent.
Need to go deal with maintenance on all the femme things. My epidermis, cuticles, and follicles are deeply under-cared for, but to go do ALL THE THINGS might require a small business loan. So, please send Fairy Spa Parent, stat.

Enlightenment apostasy

Jul. 15th, 2017 12:09 pm
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[personal profile] dpolicar
(A friend recently posted about feeling depressed at the extent to which people seem perfectly content to embrace beliefs about the world that fly in the face of our observations of it. This started out as a comment and got out of hand.)

Yeah, I hear that.

That said: I find it really helps me, when I'm disoriented in the way you describe, to remember that the Enlightenment is fairly recent, historically speaking.

The idea that we can arrive at accurate beliefs about the world by observing it, studying it, experimenting with it, taking careful records, making predictions and checking to see whether our predictions are accurate... that idea is just a few centuries old.

The idea that we can converge on beliefs about the world through that process...
That the same experiment can be expected to get the same result whether performed by Christians or Jews or Pagans or atheists, by conservatives or liberals, by materialists or spiritualists...
That the observable world itself can be the source of a set of shared self-reinforcing beliefs...
That reliance on that process can form the cornerstone of a community just as reliance on a set of stories about God that we inherited from our ancestors does...

...these are really new ideas, historically speaking. Our culture has not fully assimilated them, not even close. Most of us weren't raised in the community of believers in the process of observing our surroundings and reasoning about them rigorously and communicating about them reliably. We don't really have social practices that reinforce that process.

So, sure, we often reject it. We often stray from that path and return to the older practice of performing culturally endorsed beliefs about reality in order to reinforce group boundaries and affirm group loyalty without reference to a shared observational practice.

That's unsurprising. Humans have been doing that before we have records; probably since before we were recognizably human.

And the alternative is genuinely hard! And honestly, as community-centering practices go, it lacks a lot: it de-centers individuals, it doesn't directly address moral issues, it doesn't distinguish between emotionally satisfying and emotionally alienating claims, it doesn't speak to our fears about nonexistence and loneliness, etc.

The one thing it has going for it is a promise to converge on shared truths if followed assiduously.

And for a lot of us that just isn't enough, or isn't always enough. We may embrace the tangible benefits of the practice, the tools and medicines and crop yields and cherry-picked theories that reinforce our culturally endorsed beliefs, but we tend to reject the practice itself. Heck, even the thing we call "science" is riddled with those practices, like any other human institution. Those habits run deep.

So, sure, of course we continue to practice the old ways, choosing the practice of performing cultural beliefs despite contradictory observations over the practice of centering and converging on observable patterns in reality.

We will continue to do that for a long, long time. It's a natural consequence of being the sort of systems we are.

So anyway, as I say, remembering that helps me approach Enlightenment apostasy with compassion during periods where I start to fear it as the end of the world. And I find that helps.
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[personal profile] mizarchivist
OMG, you guys. I'm living in a house that I (co-)own. I admit I'm having some sense of denial and some imposter syndrome, and wondering what MY stuff is doing in Jeanne's house, but whatever. We're getting there. I went out this morning and picked black raspberries before breakfast. I keep re arranging stuff that can't be put away yet. But my bed is in a frame and there are some movable drawers with my clothes in them in my room. I have an office with a door that shuts. It's a box maze, but it's mine. [personal profile] fubar set up the TV and it works! I set up Pandora and hung out in the living room listening to music with [livejournal.com profile] samuraizergling last night. It was so civilized! I got to help new neighbor Anne Michelle rescue her car. She watched The Kid on Sunday for a few hours. It's like... a THING. I chatted with my next door neighbor, who's really nice. It's quiet. So... yeah. I have survived.

Please ping me if you want my new street address. I'm going to be sending out an update email here soon.

Also: Tomorrow the kid has eye surgery. I'm only a bit nervous about that.

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