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

CoS Priest

Registered: 06/28/01
Posts: 10146
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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#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: 10146
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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#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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#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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#146581 - 02/20/06 11:48 AM Re: "What If?" [Re: Hagen von Tronje]
Maya Offline
CoS Member

Registered: 04/21/05
Posts: 1447
Loc: New England
Excellent post, Warlock Leviathan, and thank you for it. I too find the vast majority of these "What If?" type of questions to be useless and transparent. Too often the only purpose of such questions is to validate the asker, to make him/her feel like his/her opinion is the right one. Such need of external validation seems to me to be rather un-Satanic.

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#146582 - 02/20/06 11:55 AM general satanism discussions [Re: Hagen von Tronje]
Robert Offline


Registered: 07/10/04
Posts: 10
Loc: San Diego,CA
I would like to know what does the peacock have to do with satanism?
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#146583 - 02/20/06 03:30 PM Re: "What If?" [Re: Hagen von Tronje]
Bill_M Offline
CoS Magister

Registered: 07/28/01
Posts: 11570
Loc: New England, USA
>>This is beneath contempt, to pose moronic fantasy
>>questions in order to bait those you ask.

Thank you for posting this! "What if" questions were fun when I was maybe 14, sitting around with other bored 14 year-olds and starting to build a mind for philosophy. And those little "If..." can be fun at parties. But such questions really serve no purpose here.

I've noticed that most of the time, people who ask such questions are out to play the old "loophole" game. You know, present a hypothetical situation where the circumstances are so bizarre that belief "A" would seemingly contradict belief "B". Then such shit-disturbers claim themselves as the victor if they win the "I found a contradiction" game. Pathetic.
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#146584 - 02/21/06 12:18 AM Re: "What If?" [Re: Bill_M]
uncleherpe Offline


Registered: 03/22/05
Posts: 499
most of the time when a 'what if' comes up its to try and prove a point, and I wouldnt really mind as long as the comparisons werent so crappy.

for instance- at another board I started a topic called 'why is adoption considered more responsible than abortion?" and I got a 'what if you were on a sinking ship and you could either let your baby drown with you or give it to a family in a life boat??" um. yeah. Its just a crappy comparison.


the what if game is slightly annoying, but I dont think its always a bad thing. I think its done poorly most of the time and so its actually prety natural to roll your eyes when you see the first two words of a post that begin like that. its somewhat neccissary when you are trying to figure out what to do in real life situations.
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#146585 - 02/21/06 04:51 PM Re: "What If?" [Re: Hagen von Tronje]
Demonika Offline


Registered: 02/21/06
Posts: 16
Loc: U.S.
I'm new here, so I'm going to jump in with my thought regarding "What If".

I find that question to be tangibly fruitless, true, but I also find it to be paramount to forethought.

One must exercise the available options within a controlled environment (the mind) to weigh out a viable direction one might choose to proceed. There's nothing wrong with pipe dreams unless nothing is done to pursue them.

The Be All/End All of Satanism is about bringing one's desires into fruition. I would be disappointed to find that (Satanic) people were running headlong into situations without regarding the consequences. This would seem like an uneducated disregard for the desired outcome. "What If" is a much needed question of the mind, yet its results should only further the construction of tangible outcomes.
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#146586 - 02/21/06 05:03 PM Re: "What If?" [Re: Demonika]
Hagen von Tronje Offline

CoS Priest

Registered: 06/28/01
Posts: 10146
I don't suggest by a long shot that a Satanist should not question possible outcomes, what I suggest is that the only situations in which the outcomes ought to be considered are those with some relevance to reality.

Asking yourself what might happen if you take a certain course, or even applying it to situations outside yourself ("What if Iran develops nukes," for example) is useful.

Asking, "What if I were God, would you kiss my ass" is a stupid question.
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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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#146587 - 02/21/06 06:03 PM Re: "What If?" [Re: Hagen von Tronje]
Demonika Offline


Registered: 02/21/06
Posts: 16
Loc: U.S.
I agree, it would be stupid. If you were God, I would ONLY kiss your ass if it were a HOT ass. And then, you wouldn't even have to be a God at all! That was easy.
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#146588 - 02/22/06 11:24 AM Re: "What If?" [Re: Hagen von Tronje]
crackergirl Offline


Registered: 11/15/05
Posts: 323
Loc: Kansas
Sometimes dealing in hypotheticals can really save your ass. Buying insurance for example. That's one big fat chunk of your paycheck that deals exclusively with the "what if" aspect of life. I see your point though. As long as the "what if" has to do with something pertinent that could actually happen (for example, a devastating car accident although most are just fender benders), it's a valid question to pose. If it has something to do with the Nazis coming to steal my goldfish, however, it's best not to waste valuable time pondering this query.

I had to put this Shel Silverstein Poem in here.


Last night as I lay thinking here,
Some Whatifs crawled inside my ear.
And pranced and partied all night long.
And sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I'm dumb in school?
Whatif they've closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there's poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don't grow tall?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won't bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don't grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems swell, and then . . .
The nighttime Whatifs strike again!

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#146590 - 02/23/06 08:28 AM Re: "What If?" [Re: Hagen von Tronje]
DarkApollyon Offline
CoS Member

Registered: 10/18/05
Posts: 581
Loc: Brighton, England
The problem, as I see it, with most "what ifs..." is they are either stupid questions, or so obscure and unlikely it is not possible (for me anyway) to answer in a true or realistic manner.
Hypotheticals like "What if you where attacked by a knife wealding maniac", or "What if you found an intruder in your Home", are for me, unless I've actually been in that exact same situation, impossible to answer - In most cases like these where an instant, instinctive response is necessary, and where there is no time for considered thought or reason, I ultimately do not know how I would react, it would all be down to the heat of the moment and how my 'fight or flight' instincts were fired up at that particular moment!
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