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About mererdog

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  • Birthday 12/31/2016

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  1. Numbers to a “good life”

    There is a nail that needs to be hammered. A hammer is a thing you can use to make hammering easier. But hammering is something you can do with whatever is handy. So if a man has competence in hammering, pretty much everything is a hammer. If everything is a hammer, what does it really mean to say you need a hammer?
  2. Quiz-one topic

    Most people do not define the terms they use unless they assume the usage may not be understood. As such, most terms dont get defined until after someone has expressed a misunderstanding. When I use the term "free will," I use a meaning more closely represented by this definition from the Oxford English Dictionary "The power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one's own discretion." Even that definition lacks the nuance needed to properly describe the term. You can look at this for more depth. A sample- "Philosophers who distinguish freedom of action and freedom of will do so because our success in carrying out our ends depends in part on factors wholly beyond our control. Furthermore, there are always external constraints on the range of options we can meaningfully try to undertake. As the presence or absence of these conditions and constraints are not (usually) our responsibility, it is plausible that the central loci of our responsibility are our choices, or 'willings.'"
  3. Numbers to a “good life”

    Consider the difference between "having shelter" and "having the ability to shelter."
  4. Numbers to a “good life”

    I actually started to pie on the list. I decided to go with cake. Why? The cake is a lie. That is a joke you probably won't get, but there are a couple of forum lurkers who are chuckling right now.
  5. Numbers to a “good life”

    Civilization requires a common language, a shared commitment to a social structure, and an econcomic surplus. Everything else is details, situational necessities, and gravy. While I do not believe that civilization is necessary for a good life, I do believe it holds clues for what humans need. A common language allows us to connect with one another. As social animals, this is vital to our long-term health. A shared commitment to a social order provides us with a sense of connection to the future and to "something bigger than ourselves". It provides us with purpose, and with confidence in our ability to cooperate with others. Important stuff. An economic surplus provides the ability to look beyond the problems of the day. It provides free time for rest, or play, or esoteric research. It also provides assurances that our children will survive the winter, allowing us the emotional room to enjoy the summer. But note that an economic surplus is not about money. Its about stockpiles of grain, but also the knowledge of how to make bread. It is about what you have available, but mostly about what you have the ability to do with it
  6. Numbers to a “good life”

    A man who thinks he needs money is like a man who thinks he needs a hammer. What he really needs is the realization that there is more than one tool that can do the job. A man who thinks he doesnt need beauty is like a man who thinks he doesn't need dental care. Let him go long enough without it and he'll change his mind. If you think about it, you can substitute mobility for shelter and achieve the same results, because shelter is only needed if you aren't somewhere hospitable....
  7. Numbers to a “good life”

    Speaking of things that are funny... You have to wonder how twenty-somethings could possibly think they know the answers to this kind of question. Yet they all do, and we all did.
  8. Numbers to a “good life”

    Goals. Dental care. Positive social interaction. Food security. Hygeine. Moral courage. Perspective. The ability to ignore instructions. Cake.
  9. Quiz-one topic

    It is. The proof is in all the people who have chosen to sacrifice themselves in this and other ways. If we do not recognise that it is a choice, we rob heroes of the recognition they deserve. After all, if self-sacrifice is not a true choice, there can be no glory in choosing to sacrifice yourself for a worthy cause. If there is no possibility of makong a bad choice, no choice can be good. If there is no possibility of negative consequences for our choices, our choices don't really matter.
  10. Quiz-one topic

    More than one definition of the term exists, just as more than one dictionary exists. I consider that particular definition to be faulty. Actions exist as the interaction of our will and our environment. To define free will the way you propose ignores that interactive nature of existance. Intention and outcome are different, right? Your mind can be free when your body is not. Your body can only be free if your mind is. I consider these to be important truths. Free will is a refutation of the concept of fate, not an assumption that we are all-powerful.
  11. Quiz-one topic

    Always. Every choice you make limits the choices you have available in the future. There are always consequences and there is always a price that must be paid. It is only really a question of how dire the consequences and how dear the price. Because when the price is easy to pay, it is easy to overlook.
  12. Quiz-one topic

    I believe there is more to it than that. At the core, forgiveness is about short-circuiting the desire for justice. It is about allowing things to be unfair without feeling a need to balance them out. Because suffering cannot be measured or undone, we either forgive or we endlessly reprosecute the crimes of the past. When you forgive someone, you grant them permission to prosper, despite their crimes. When you forgive yourself, you see yourself as deserving of happiness, despite your failings. This allows for the release of anger but, perhaps more importantly, the release of guilt and shame. I would caution that if you attempt to release your anger without making the fundamental change in perspective that is forgiveness, the anger is destined to return.
  13. Quiz-one topic

    There is nothing for me to forgive. My initial reaction was to agree with you about absolution. But then I noticed something odd. You asked for fogiveness while saying there is no absolution. That made me ask myself, "What is absolution, if not forgiveness?" That led me to the dictionaries, and they told me that absolution is just a formalized process of forgiveness for wrongs. So I had to rethink my position... and I'm still not sure where I'm going to end up landing on this. I am a firm believer in the power and importance of forgiveness. I dislike formality and tend to see it as useless and wasteful. But honesty requires acknowledging that it can be helpful, especially when dealing with strangers. I want to say that absolution is just a poor substitute for actual forgiveness. I want to say that it is just a way to con ourselves into feeling better. But that isnt really ringing true. A song I like has a refrain that includes the lyric "I'm more than just a little curious how you're planning to go about making your amends to the dead." I find it haunting. Perhaps absolution is the answer to that question. Perhaps by establishing formal ways to atone, we give ourselves ways to earn forgiveness from society, when the individuals we have harmed are unavailable (or maybe just unwilling?). I can see a potential for real value in that. But I still want to call it a con. It still feels fake. Thank you for sending me down this rabbit hole. I suspect there is room for self-improvement here.
  14. Quiz-one topic

    Well, no. A woman can have a choice, and it can still be rape. The choice between struggling and submitting always exists and is often the most important decision we can make. While it may have no discernable effect on outcomes, it will shape our psyches on a fundamental level. Note that "rape" is a word used to label an action but "slave" is a word used to label a person. Your choices do not define the other person's actions, but they do define you. I took a self-defense class in high school that was designed for girls (but not advertised that way). The thing they stressed the most was the need to not be passive. The advice was basic- If you can't fight, scream. If you can't scream, memorize details. If you can do all of that, do all of that. Acknowledging that victims have choices is not meant to lessen, excuse, or justify their victimization. It is meant to empower victims to take whatever control of their own lives they can. This is sometimes expressed by refusing to label the self as a victim, instead using words like survivor. You dont have to be a slave. You dont have to let your husband beat you. You dont have to accept less than you deserve. You can fight. You can struggle. You won't always win, but you can try.
  15. How do you tell the difference between being inspired by God and being fooled by the Devil? The thought process normally goes like so- Can I believe that? I believe this. This supports that. So I can believe that. But should I believe this? Well, I believe that. And that supports this. So I would be stupid to doubt this. Now shut up. It seems obvious that if we admit that we can be fooled, we admit that we can't tell when we are being fooled. It is painful to look at straight-on, so we rarely do.