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Freedom Of Thought Or Right To Decide?


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#1 hazelm

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 11:07 AM

I think I will put this here and let the powers that be decide if it needs to be moved.  I am not sure where I picked it up.  I am thinking someone on this forum mentioned the book and I ran it down.  Reading it is raising a multitude of questions.

 

http://www.criticalt...-of-thought/649

 

"Freedom of Thought and the Forces Against It" by John Bagnall Bury. 

 

The author starts with the idea that no one can stop us from thinking our own thoughts and having our own opinions.  The problem rises from the fact that most of us, having an opinion, feel it absolutely necessary to express it.   The problem rises because everyone else also has his own opinions and feels a need to express those - and, obviously, a need to impose them on others. 

 

So, the first question is where do we draw the line?  There are those who feel that a person with a new idea or opinion should be silenced.  (The Inquisition?  A discussion among a group of people?)  We've overcome the notion of inquisitions.  Have we overcome the need to silence the person in the group who wants to present a new idea or question an old one?

 

I have not yet read all of the book.  I may find an answer that has been bouncing around my head for some time.  Is it appropriate in rreference to this book?  The question:  How do we deal with the person who feels that, if he finds a law or rule "unfair" (in his opinion), he does not have to obey it? 

 

We have all seen such situations but what has me thinking about it is how the Supreme Court is having to decide about a lot of new ideas that certain groups have implemented against society's rules.  What philosophy enables us to accept new ideas of which we definitely do not approve or which we consider totally out of bounds?  Because, if we are going to allow the new ideas and let them survive despite our wishes, we definitely need a new philosophy that makes us comfortable. Otherwise we see the wars of words or worse.

 

I hope I am making sense with this because I'd like much to hear some opinions from those who  may read or have read this or a similar book.  I think Chapter I is a good starting point.

 

 



#2 Buffy

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 11:42 AM

We have a history of hosting book discussions here, most welcome when, as with this one, the book is in public domain and easily accessible, so please proceed! :cheer:

 

As a discussion of principles, it definitely falls into Philosophy, so this is the right section, but you've already touched upon a lot of topics in a short post and at some point it may make sense to split some topics off, not all of which may be Philosophy!

 

I'm going to read a bit of it before joining in.

 

Have fun!

 

 

Most beliefs about nature and man, which were not founded on scientific observation, have served directly or indirectly religious and social interests, and hence they have been protected by force against the criticisms of persons who have the inconvenient habit of using their reason, :phones:

Buffy


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#3 exchemist

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 11:44 AM

I think I will put this here and let the powers that be decide if it needs to be moved.  I am not sure where I picked it up.  I am thinking someone on this forum mentioned the book and I ran it down.  Reading it is raising a multitude of questions.

 

http://www.criticalt...-of-thought/649

 

"Freedom of Thought and the Forces Against It" by John Bagnall Bury. 

 

The author starts with the idea that no one can stop us from thinking our own thoughts and having our own opinions.  The problem rises from the fact that most of us, having an opinion, feel it absolutely necessary to express it.   The problem rises because everyone else also has his own opinions and feels a need to express those - and, obviously, a need to impose them on others. 

 

So, the first question is where do we draw the line?  There are those who feel that a person with a new idea or opinion should be silenced.  (The Inquisition?  A discussion among a group of people?)  We've overcome the notion of inquisitions.  Have we overcome the need to silence the person in the group who wants to present a new idea or question an old one?

 

I have not yet read all of the book.  I may find an answer that has been bouncing around my head for some time.  Is it appropriate in rreference to this book?  The question:  How do we deal with the person who feels that, if he finds a law or rule "unfair" (in his opinion), he does not have to obey it? 

 

We have all seen such situations but what has me thinking about it is how the Supreme Court is having to decide about a lot of new ideas that certain groups have implemented against society's rules.  What philosophy enables us to accept new ideas of which we definitely do not approve or which we consider totally out of bounds?  Because, if we are going to allow the new ideas and let them survive despite our wishes, we definitely need a new philosophy that makes us comfortable. Otherwise we see the wars of words or worse.

 

I hope I am making sense with this because I'd like much to hear some opinions from those who  may read or have read this or a similar book.  I think Chapter I is a good starting point.

I've skimmed Chapter 1.

 

My first reaction to the issues you raise is that I do not see why the wish to express one thoughts has to lead to "a need to impose them on others". It may lead to a wish to persuade others of the value of them, but impose? Surely not?

 

It also seems to me worth keeping in mind Oliver Wendell Holmes's dictum about free speech not extending to falsely shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theatre. There are codes of conduct in society that are necessary to keeping the peace.   


Edited by exchemist, 16 September 2017 - 11:44 AM.

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#4 hazelm

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 12:37 PM

Thank you Buffy and exchemist.  Exchemist,  might I suggest that whether or not it is imposed depends on who is doing the thinking.  No?  Imposing is not as common today but I doubt the act is dead.  Then there are those "war of words" we sometimes see where someone expresses his idea and an objector gets carried away with his  opposition.  Someone with a "that's stupid" attitude.  Those really bother me. 

 

I've also read only chapter I.  Chapter II is for tomorrow.  I am sorry the book is out of print because I'd love to have it in my library.  Still, as Buffy said, it is great to have it in public domain.  I guess we can't have it both ways.

 

I shall return. 



#5 exchemist

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 02:59 PM

Thank you Buffy and exchemist.  Exchemist,  might I suggest that whether or not it is imposed depends on who is doing the thinking.  No?  Imposing is not as common today but I doubt the act is dead.  Then there are those "war of words" we sometimes see where someone expresses his idea and an objector gets carried away with his  opposition.  Someone with a "that's stupid" attitude.  Those really bother me. 

 

I've also read only chapter I.  Chapter II is for tomorrow.  I am sorry the book is out of print because I'd love to have it in my library.  Still, as Buffy said, it is great to have it in public domain.  I guess we can't have it both ways.

 

I shall return. 

I would not confuse someone who is intemperate in arguing for his views with someone actually imposing them, by coercion. What Bury is talking about is physical coercion by institutions such as the state or the Church, or at the very least social ostracism. Someone shouting a bit at a dinner party isn't what he has in mind. 


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#6 hazelm

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Posted 17 September 2017 - 05:41 AM

I agree with you.  I must not be saying it right.  Let it simmer a while.  I did read Chapter II.  A very good summary of the birth of western history.  I wanted to add one last sentence.  "And from that came the Dark Ages."  To be continued?



#7 exchemist

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 08:11 AM

I agree with you.  I must not be saying it right.  Let it simmer a while.  I did read Chapter II.  A very good summary of the birth of western history.  I wanted to add one last sentence.  "And from that came the Dark Ages."  To be continued?

Yeah but we now know the so-called "Dark Ages" weren't really dark at all. I remember attending Easter Sunday mass in Charlemagne's octagonal chapel in Aachen a few years ago, built in 800, and thinking that these guys had quite a civilisation going. 


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#8 hazelm

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 10:27 AM

Yeah but we now know the so-called "Dark Ages" weren't really dark at all. I remember attending Easter Sunday mass in Charlemagne's octagonal chapel in Aachen a few years ago, built in 800, and thinking that these guys had quite a civilisation going. 

Or, if a Steve Berry book that I read (historical fiction) has any truth to it, Charlemagne was working terribly  hard to open people's eyes to a few truths.  I mustn't get into that now as I'd have to review the story.  I only remember that he was having a hard time of it.  Now, of course, he is much honored for his efforts.



#9 exchemist

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 11:42 AM

Or, if a Steve Berry book that I read (historical fiction) has any truth to it, Charlemagne was working terribly  hard to open people's eyes to a few truths.  I mustn't get into that now as I'd have to review the story.  I only remember that he was having a hard time of it.  Now, of course, he is much honored for his efforts.

Yes there is fairly balanced-seeming review on Wiki here: https://en.wikipedia...(historiography) which indeed speaks of a "brief but brilliant" Carolingian renaissance. But the overall tenor of the article calls into question the use of the term Dark Ages, due to its connotations of collapse of civilisation and rule by superstition rather than reason, which modern history of the period does not really any longer support.  

 

Anyway, this is all a digression. I suppose I now need to read chapter 2 of Bury in order to keep up with you. :)


Edited by exchemist, 19 September 2017 - 11:42 AM.


#10 hazelm

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 01:20 PM

Yes there is fairly balanced-seeming review on Wiki here: https://en.wikipedia...(historiography) which indeed speaks of a "brief but brilliant" Carolingian renaissance. But the overall tenor of the article calls into question the use of the term Dark Ages, due to its connotations of collapse of civilisation and rule by superstition rather than reason, which modern history of the period does not really any longer support.  

 

Anyway, this is all a digression. I suppose I now need to read chapter 2 of Bury in order to keep up with you. :)

Better hurry.  I am on chapter III.  :innocent:  Seriously, if you know your history, chapter II may be a bit boring, although I didn't find it so.  I rather enjoyed the review.



#11 hazelm

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 12:45 PM

I have just finished Chapter III and read a most interesting question.  After talking about how the laws and punishments used in the Old Testament influenced the laws and punishments used by the Christian church leaders, Bury wonders if things might have been different had the Christian leaders omitted the Old Testament from their sacred books and based their religion solely on the teachings in the New Testament.

 

I wonder also.  The New Testament teachings are much more spiritual, requiring deeper thinking than most  people are given to.  It also requires more compassion and less vengefulness than the Old Testament requires.  I can't think of the words I want to distinguish between the two life styles but I think the NT asks a lot more of the individual than does the OT which lays down the law very specifically.

 

Does anyone have a better idea?  Would things have been different had the church fathers omitted the Old Testament from their Bible?  There is a lot of speculation involved in the answers.  But, basically, what is mankind as a whole able to handle?

 

 



#12 hazelm

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 12:07 PM

From Chapter IV, I have this:  "Galileo de’ Galilei demonstrated the Copernican theory beyond question. His telescope discovered the moons of Jupiter, and his observation of the spots in the sun confirmed the earth’s rotation."

 

Question for a clear-headed thinker:  Could not the sun spots just as well have confirmed the sun's rotation?  If you are sitting stationery (planet Earth) while observing a sphere (Earth's sun) with spots in one location and the spots keep disappearing and returning, could you not assume that sphere is rotating?



#13 Buffy

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 12:41 PM

Yah I don't think the quote is right. Pretty much what Galileo concluded is what you wrote: that the movement of the spots proves it rotates, which was pretty controversial. How could anything that big move?

 

 

The modern observations deprive all former writers of any authority, since if they had seen what we see, they would have judged as we judge, :phones:

Buffy



#14 DrKrettin

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 12:44 PM

From Chapter IV, I have this:  "Galileo de’ Galilei demonstrated the Copernican theory beyond question. His telescope discovered the moons of Jupiter, and his observation of the spots in the sun confirmed the earth’s rotation."

 

Question for a clear-headed thinker:  Could not the sun spots just as well have confirmed the sun's rotation?  If you are sitting stationery (planet Earth) while observing a sphere (Earth's sun) with spots in one location and the spots keep disappearing and returning, could you not assume that sphere is rotating?

 

Galileo must have noticed the rotation of Jupiter at the same time he observed the moons, and the sunspots showed the rotation of the sun. From this he could build a model in which the Earth rotated as well. The quotation cannot be strictly correct, but only indirectly.



#15 hazelm

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 01:27 PM

Yah I don't think the quote is right. Pretty much what Galileo concluded is what you wrote: that the movement of the spots proves it rotates, which was pretty controversial. How could anything that big move?

 

 

The modern observations deprive all former writers of any authority, since if they had seen what we see, they would have judged as we judge, :phones:

Buffy

Good for us.  Our logic prevails.  Thank you.



#16 hazelm

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 01:30 PM

Galileo must have noticed the rotation of Jupiter at the same time he observed the moons, and the sunspots showed the rotation of the sun. From this he could build a model in which the Earth rotated as well. The quotation cannot be strictly correct, but only indirectly.

Maybe he was trying too hard to keep the Church in a good mood.  I got the feeling he wanted to do that anyway.  Save his skin if nothing else.

 

Thanks.



#17 exchemist

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 03:16 PM

I have just finished Chapter III and read a most interesting question.  After talking about how the laws and punishments used in the Old Testament influenced the laws and punishments used by the Christian church leaders, Bury wonders if things might have been different had the Christian leaders omitted the Old Testament from their sacred books and based their religion solely on the teachings in the New Testament.

 

I wonder also.  The New Testament teachings are much more spiritual, requiring deeper thinking than most  people are given to.  It also requires more compassion and less vengefulness than the Old Testament requires.  I can't think of the words I want to distinguish between the two life styles but I think the NT asks a lot more of the individual than does the OT which lays down the law very specifically.

 

Does anyone have a better idea?  Would things have been different had the church fathers omitted the Old Testament from their Bible?  There is a lot of speculation involved in the answers.  But, basically, what is mankind as a whole able to handle?

 

Maybe he was trying too hard to keep the Church in a good mood.  I got the feeling he wanted to do that anyway.  Save his skin if nothing else.

 

Thanks.

Galileo was never in any danger of losing his life. He was put under house arrest, nothing more, and that was all because he went too far politically, writing a piece in which he made the pope at the time, who had been conciliatory towards his ideas, seem a fool. He seems to have been rather a tactless individual. The Copernican (heliocentric) system, which he advocated, had been quite freely discussed for a while. Copernicus himself, who originally put it forward, had attracted the interest of the pope and cardinals, seemingly without incurring any displeasure from them. But it was the time of the Counter Reformation, when the church was very twitchy about heretical views and the rise of Protestantism. Galileo seems to have fallen victim to that. 


Edited by exchemist, 26 September 2017 - 03:16 PM.