Brent Meeker wrote:
> Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> >
> >
> > On 2/12/07, *Tom Caylor* <[EMAIL PROTECTED]
> > <mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]>> wrote:
> >
> >
> >      > Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> >      >
> >      > > Tom Caylor writes:
> >      >
> >      > >  > > > Brent Meeker
> >      > >  > > > "It does not matter now that in a million years nothing
> >     we do now
> >      > > will matter."
> >      > >  > > > --- Thomas Nagel
> >      >
> >      > >  > > We might like to believe Nagel, but it isn't true.
> >      >
> >      > >  > > Tom
> >      >
> >      > >  > That is, it isn't true that in a million years nothing we do
> >     now will
> >      > >  > matter.
> >      >
> >      > > Why do you say "we might like to believe Nagel"? Why would
> >     anyone want
> >      > > it to be the case that nothing we do now will matter in a
> >     million years?
> >
> >     In order to think in terms beyond a few generations, we need a basis
> >     for meaning that is more universal than explaining and controlling
> >     things in our immediate sphere of "care abouts", like our animal
> >     instincts.
>
> But what we care about right now, may include anything we think of - 
> including how things will be a million years from now, including an abstract 
> principle, even including a fine point of theology.

Sorry that I don't have much time.  I agree with your statement
above.  However, see below.

>
> >(Such a local basis does not support doing things like
> >     sacrificing your life for others even a couple thousand years in the
> >     future.)
>
> For the very good reason that one cannot foresee the benefits of such 
> sacrifice so far in the future.   But people sacrifice for others that they 
> know all the time.

This statement seems to be in conflict with your previous statement.
Theology (I'd rather say "being in communion with the personal God" in
from whom we have our personhood, rather than an academic pursuit) is
a way of enabling us to "see" things, expand our consciousness,
outside of the immediate sphere of "care abouts" that are defined by
animal instincts, the five senses, etc., and to see things such as the
nobility of giving our life for a cause that is greater that this
local, supposedly (but not truly) autonomous, sphere.

>
> > But if we reject the ultimate basis, then it feels good to
> >     say that it doesn't matter.
> >
> >     Tom
> >
> >
> > If we discovered some million year old civilization today I think wonder
> > at its achievements, however paltry, would far outweigh dismay at its
> > wickedness, however extreme. I'm not sure what the significance of this
> > observation is.
>
> I don't think it's true.  My exhibit A is the Aztecs.
>

I think the significance of Stathis' observation is this.  Our local
sphere of "care abouts" mostly has to do with "what can I get out of
it".  It is more immediately obvious that we could possibly gain
something from someone else's achievements or ideas, rather than from
their wickedness.  In fact, it is probably true.  Studying goodness is
more fruitful than studying wickedness.  (Rather lopsided isn't it?
How could such a thing be generated from Everything (or Nothing)?)
But whoever said that "what matters" is only about wickedness and not
goodness?

> Brent Meeker
> There is a certain impertinence in allowing oneself
> to be burned for an opinion.
>         -- Anatole France

This is precisely my point.  If all that exists is internal meaning
(i.e. opinion), then there is no true basis (even in the literal sense
of "true") for anything more than a dog-eat-dog world (unless the
other dog provides 1st person subjective gratification).

Tom


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