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#146566 - 02/18/06 09:33 PM "What If?"
Hagen von Tronje Offline

CoS Priest

Registered: 06/28/01
Posts: 10133
In the many years I've read Letters to the Devil, I've observed countless threads of the "what if" variety. To be sure, this is a common argument in person-to-person discussions as well, but I think it has severe flaws.

A "what if" presents a scenario of pure fantasy in a lame attempt to get at some deeper "truth." Such as:

"What if Nazis kidnapped your wife, kids and goldfish and said you had to kill a politician to get them back, would you do it?"

"What if your life depended on being a moron, would you give yourself brain damage?"

"What if someone offered you a billion dollars if you would sacrifice ten years of your life?"

We ought to be asking, "What if you had to think of something realistic in order to make a point, could you do it?"

The problem with this kind of argument is that it often masks an agenda; that is, the person inquiring believes he knows the common answer among his audience and wishes to prove it so. Often the person will want to suggest that the audience would be willing to commit crimes or do otherwise unacceptable things if they had "no choice." This is beneath contempt, to pose moronic fantasy questions in order to bait those you ask.

The other possibility is that the person has the debating skills of a child and can only relate his points through impossible scenarios, not real world points. What someone speculates they might do in movieland has no bearing on reality or real ethics.

If you want to prove something, the only way to do it is by remaining firmly grounded in reality. Philosophical masturbation with false scenarios only leads to false conclusions. This sort of debate falls firmly into the category of "spiritual pipedreams."

That is all.
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"The devil I'll bring you," answered Hagen. "I have enough to carry with my shield and breastplate; my helm is bright, the sword is in my hand, therefore I bring you naught."

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#146567 - 02/18/06 09:39 PM Re: "What If?" [Re: Hagen von Tronje]
Assabrah Offline
CoS Warlock

Registered: 01/17/05
Posts: 2062
I really think this post is important. thank you.

Quote:

Philosophical masturbation with false scenarios only leads to false conclusions. This sort of debate falls firmly into the category of "spiritual pipedreams."




Yes, exactly. This is when the sheeps play their favourite little games, so proud and thinking this belongs to the "question everything".

Once they know, they go on to question. What a bunch of ......
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#146568 - 02/18/06 11:58 PM Re: "What If?" [Re: Hagen von Tronje]
man_mind Offline
Banned

Registered: 01/29/05
Posts: 957
Within the context of a completely irrational and fantasy based answer, yes to all four questions.

Especially for the gold fish. I'd kill millions. I just don't see life going as smoothly if skipper were not there any more.

Realistically, yes to the last.

Excellent point/post.
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#146569 - 02/19/06 03:34 AM Re: "What If?" [Re: Hagen von Tronje]
MagdaGraham Offline
CoS Priestess

Registered: 06/23/04
Posts: 13369
Loc: Scotland
Congratulations, LeviathanXIII. This should be in the must-read top items.
Hail Satan!
Magda

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#146570 - 02/19/06 08:24 AM Re: "What If?" [Re: Hagen von Tronje]
DarkApollyon Offline
CoS Member

Registered: 10/18/05
Posts: 581
Loc: Brighton, England
Well said LeviathanXIII!

I think as Satanists we should be very aware that this type of enquiry is often followed, as you have said, by those with an agenda. I think it is very important not to get drawn into hypothetical situations where one could be perceived as condoning illegal activities, as this is, in my experience often what the questioner is looking for!

I'm sure someone posted something similar to this awhile back (it may have even been yourself), but think it worth restating in my own words as there are a lot of new people around this forum recently!

HAIL SATAN!!
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#146571 - 02/19/06 10:57 AM Re: "What If?" [Re: DarkApollyon]
man_mind Offline
Banned

Registered: 01/29/05
Posts: 957
Magister Nemo wrote about it, I think, and it was well stated then. Some people I guess can't help but attempt to go about breaking forum rules by beating-around-the-bush, so to speak; and now it needs to be a specific reenstatement of the forum rules. Kind of sad really.

I thought "No talk of violence" was pretty clear. Even hypo-(pa)thetically.
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#146572 - 02/19/06 11:03 AM Re: "What If?" [Re: DarkApollyon]
Hagen von Tronje Offline

CoS Priest

Registered: 06/28/01
Posts: 10133
It is correct, Magister Nemo has warned against asking others if they would hypothetically commit crimes; however, I wish to add that besides being a form of baiting it is also the worst kind of debate technique, even when it does not ask if you would commit criminal acts.
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"The devil I'll bring you," answered Hagen. "I have enough to carry with my shield and breastplate; my helm is bright, the sword is in my hand, therefore I bring you naught."

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#146573 - 02/19/06 01:44 PM Re: "What If?" [Re: Hagen von Tronje]
Jack_Lantern Offline
CoS Member

Registered: 07/06/05
Posts: 2785
Loc: America
What if we lived in a world where people didn't ask "What if" questions, how many glasses of champagne would you drink?

Thank you for that quick and well stated point.
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#146574 - 02/19/06 04:34 PM Re: "What If?" [Re: Hagen von Tronje]
Tex_Talionis Offline
CoS Member

Registered: 10/06/05
Posts: 420
Loc: Amarillo, TX
Great post LeviathanXIII. Now the only question is to ask "What if the morons actually got it?"
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#146575 - 02/19/06 05:06 PM Re: "What If?" [Re: Tex_Talionis]
False_Messiah78 Offline
Banned

Registered: 12/27/04
Posts: 1449
Loc: New York State
Quote:

Now the only question is to ask "What if the morons actually got it?"




Come on now, you know the morons never get it!

Proof: A post alomost exactly like Warlock Leviathan XIII's was posted before I came to LttD. It is even a sticky post: yet "What If" questions are still asked.

If only there was a way to mandate that new users read ALL sticky posts before being able to make any posts of their own. But that, of course, is just a pipe dream.
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#146576 - 02/19/06 05:36 PM Re: "What If?" [Re: Assabrah]
TrojZyr Offline
CoS Witch

Registered: 07/25/01
Posts: 12990
Loc: The Solid State
Philosophical masturbation with false scenarios only leads to false conclusions. This sort of debate falls firmly into the category of "spiritual pipedreams."
+++++
Yes, exactly. This is when the sheeps play their favourite little games, so proud and thinking this belongs to the "question everything".


Which is to say, the hypothetical is not the real, and should never be mistaken as such--especially if the hypothetical situation is so bizarre or fantastical that you'll most likely never have to encounter anything like it.

Fantasy and philosophy are well and good, provided one recognizes their use (say, if you're a novelist, or a professional philosopher)--and conversely, recognizes where they are *not* useful on a practical level.

I also concur with Leviathan's point that there is almost always an agenda beneath the question that the questioner may be trying to hide, and might as well be honest about (especially since, 9 times out of 10, it's pretty transparent anyway.)
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#146577 - 02/19/06 09:19 PM The Senses Taker & The Terrible Trivium [Re: TrojZyr]
Quiddity Offline
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Registered: 05/26/04
Posts: 2021
Loc: CA
I agree entirely. I would also add that it is tempting to get caught up in trying to reason through what is rediculous on the face of it. I think this is what makes this so commonplace--the force behind the method is to get us to waste our time, rather than a reasoned exposition of the questioner's own views. Are you familiar with "The Phantom Tollbooth" by Norton Juster? It was a real favorite of mine as a child, and I consider it to be easily one of the wisest and most uncomplicated elaboration of personal development ever. The type of tactic under discussion here, to me, smacks of the names of the demons in The Mountains of Ignorance. The Senses Taker and Terrible Trivium spring unbidden to mind--although I don't think it's an exact analogy. We may have to invent one here. On balance and comparison, there is definitely room for one.


Edited by Quiddian (02/19/06 09:20 PM)
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#146578 - 02/19/06 09:30 PM Re: "What If?" [Re: False_Messiah78]
Tex_Talionis Offline
CoS Member

Registered: 10/06/05
Posts: 420
Loc: Amarillo, TX
Well, the "What if" question is supposed to be one of fantasy, or something highly unlikely. I thought I'd try my hand at it
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You can be what you will to be."
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"The things that come to those who wait may be things left by those who got there first!"

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#146579 - 02/20/06 01:20 AM Re: The Senses Taker & The Terrible Trivium [Re: Quiddity]
TrojZyr Offline
CoS Witch

Registered: 07/25/01
Posts: 12990
Loc: The Solid State
Oh! I haven't read that book in years! I've got to do it again sometime, because I remember how great it was. Thanks for reminding me of it, Quiddian.

But yes, The Phantom Tollbooth did do a particularly good job of showing how absurd, bureaucratic, bogged down, and/or illogical people and systems get.
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"Gentlemen, the verdict is guilty, on all ten counts of first-degree stupidity. The penalty phase will now begin."--Divine, "Pink Flamingos."

"The strong rule the weak, and the cunning rule over all." HS!

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#146580 - 02/20/06 05:40 AM Re: The Senses Taker & The Terrible Trivium [Re: TrojZyr]
Quiddity Offline
CoS Member

Registered: 05/26/04
Posts: 2021
Loc: CA
I just found out that Amazon sells this book for seven bucks, so I thought, "What the hell." I've sent a gift certificate to your email listed on your profile for a copy of the book, including shipping. I've never used this service before, so I'm not sure what to expect. I think it will simply send you an email address with a claim code, and then you tell Amazon where to send it. Let me know if this works.


Hail Satan!
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