Tag Archives: opinion

Supreme Court Declares That the Second Amendment … – NRA-ILA

Posted: July 18, 2016 at 3:30 pm

Supreme Court Declares That the Second AmendmentGuarantees an Individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms — June 26, 2008

Fairfax, VA Leaders of the National Rifle Association (NRA) praised the Supreme Courts historic ruling overturning Washington, D.C.s ban on handguns and on self-defense in the home, in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller.

This is a great moment in American history. It vindicates individual Americans all over this country who have always known that this is their freedom worth protecting, declared NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. Our founding fathers wrote and intended the Second Amendment to be an individual right. The Supreme Court has now acknowledged it. The Second Amendment as an individual right now becomes a real permanent part of American Constitutional law.

Last year, the District of Columbia appealed a Court of Appeals ruling affirming that the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms, and that the Districts bans on handguns, carrying firearms within the home and possession of functional firearms for self-defense violate that fundamental right.

Anti-gun politicians can no longer deny that the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental right, said NRA chief lobbyist Chris W. Cox. All law-abiding Americans have a fundamental, God-given right to defend themselves in their homes. Washington, D.C. must now respect that right.

Read the opinion (1 MB)

Highlights From The Heller Decision

On March 18, 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in District of Columbia v. Heller.

Listen to the audio recording of the oral arguments (RealPlayer required)

View the transcript

The Court announced its decision to take the case in which plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of the District’sgun ban last Fall. The District of Columbia appealed a lower courts ruling last year affirming that the Second Amendment of the Constitution protects an individual right to keep and bear arms, and that the Districts bans on handguns, carrying firearms within the home, and possession of loaded or operable firearms for self-defense violate that right.

In March, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held that [T]he phrase the right of the people, when read intratextually and in light of Supreme Court precedent, leads us to conclude that the right in question is individual. The D.C. Circuit also rejected the claim that the Second Amendment does not apply to the District of Columbia because D.C. is not a state.

The case marks the first time a Second Amendment challenge to a firearm law has reached the Supreme Court since 1939.

Briefs filed on behalf of Heller and Washington D.C.

Amicus brief filed by the United States

Amicus briefs filed in support of Heller

Click the links below to read recently filed amicus briefs in support of Dick Anthony Heller in the upcoming case District of Columbia v. Heller.

Click the links below to read recently filed amicus briefs in support of Washington D.C.

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Supreme Court Declares That the Second Amendment … – NRA-ILA

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Q&A: On David Icke, Expectations, Unconditional Love, Deja …

Posted: July 3, 2016 at 6:41 pm

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In this video, Sudevi answers the following questions:

T_MJ12 asked, via Twitter:

What do you think of David Icke’s way of explaining the Illuminati agenda?… He talks about a reptilian agenda.

crabcookswhoredust asked, via YouTube:

I found your channel 2 days ago, and I’m so glad I did. You gave me a reinforced grounding that learning to always be in tune is a place I can be. I wish I had a really good question. I’m also glad that I’m not currently stuck by any obstacles. Is there any advice you can give for moments that just seem dead? Not pushing anything but no desire for excitement. When I don’t know what to do, what do I do?

michelleee94 asked, via YouTube:

hello! i was hoping you might be willing to share your opinion of the teacher drunvalo melchizedek. i tend to be very skeptical of whose information i can trust and depend on, and so far you have given absolutely no sign of misleading information. every on of your videos I watch continues to help me on my path, so i truly respect your opinion and advice. this man seems untrustworthy, but i may be wrong.

snipecor2000 asked, via YouTube:

do you get a lot of people asking where they have met you before?

bhaugart asked, via YouTube:

Sometimes I feel like alive dead. No thoughts, no feelings, just empty, but i do think that it’s because of my anxiety and fear. how do i cope with this?

MyLaundryRoom asked, via YouTube:

Do you have to detox/ water fast to transform into the real you?

alykasa asked, via YouTube:

I have a question I’ve been wondering about for a while. Are we supposed to love and respect all people, no matter how mean spirited they are? Are some people inherently bad? If someone were to say, kill my family, am I supposed to have love and compassion for that person, and not wish for justice?

cigiss asked, via YouTube:

I have a question that is sort of linked to alykasa’s: is it ok to have expectations of people? sometimes you feel that they mistreat or disconsider you. are you supposed to just accept them as they are, and just limit the time you spend with them if they hurt you? can you tell me why they hurt you, or is that not delicate? i want to be honest with myself and the one who is hurting me. i usually build things up inside and deeply suffer and i can’t seem to find balance with some.

JyAppeljoos asked, via Twitter:

Do you have any take on the concept of entheogens? New video topic, maybe?

Please note: the order in which these questions are listed here differed from the order in which they are answered in the video. Also, my camera ran out of batteries towards the beginning of the response to Jy’s question about entheogens, so… he was right: it became the topic of a new video! I’ll link that video here once it’s fully uploaded.

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Q&A: On David Icke, Expectations, Unconditional Love, Deja …

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Mind uploading – RationalWiki

Posted: June 30, 2016 at 3:35 am

Mind uploading is a science fictional trope and popular desired actualization among transhumanists. It’s also one of the hypothesised solutions to bringing people back from cryonics.

It is necessary to separate reasonable extrapolations and speculation about mind uploading from the magical thinking surrounding it. Several metaphysical questions are brought up by the prospect of mind uploading. Like many such questions, these may not be objectively answerable, and philosophers will no doubt continue to debate them long after uploading has become commonplace.

The first major question about the plausibility of mind uploading is more or less falsifiable: whether consciousness is artificially replicable in its entirety. In other words, assuming that consciousness is not magic, and that the brain is the seat of consciousness, does it depend on any special functions or quantum mechanical effects that cannot ever be replicated on another substrate? This question, of course, remains unanswered although, considering the current state of cognitive science, it is not unreasonable to think that consciousness will be found to be replicable in the future.

Assuming that consciousness is proven to be artificially replicable, the second question is whether the “strong AI hypothesis” is justified or not: if a machine accurately replicates consciousness, such that it passes a Turing Test or is otherwise indistinguishable from a natural human being, is the machine really conscious, or is it a soulless mechanism that merely imitates consciousness?

Third, assuming that a machine can actually be conscious (which is no great stretch of the imagination, considering that the human brain is essentially a biological machine), is a copy of your consciousness really you? Is it even possible to copy consciousness? Is mind uploading really a ticket to immortality, in that “you” or your identity can be “uploaded”?

Advocates of mind uploading take the functionalist/reductionist approach of defining human existence as the identity, which is based on memories and personalities rather than physical substrates or subjectivity.[1] They believe that the identity is essential; the copy of the mind holds just as much claim to being that person as the original, even if both were to exist simultaneously. When the physical body of a copied person dies, nothing that defines the person as an individual has been lost. In this context, all that matters is that the memories and personality of the individual are preserved. As the recently murdered protagonist states in Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, “I feel like me and no one else is making that claim. Who cares if I’ve been restored from a backup?”

Skeptics of mind uploading[2] question if it’s possible to transfer a consciousness from one substrate to another, and hold that this is critical to the life-extension application of mind uploading. The transfer of identity is similar to the process of transferring data from one computer hard drive to another. The new person would be a copy of the original; a new consciousness with the same identity. With this approach, mind uploading would simply create a “mind-clone”[3] an artificial person with an identity gleaned from another. The philosophical problem with uploading “yourself” to a computer is very similar to the “swamp man” thought experiment in which a clone is made of a man while the “original” is killed, or the very similar teleportation thought experiment.[4] This is one reason that has led critics to say it’s not at all clear that the concept mind uploading is even meaningful. For the skeptic, the thought of permanently losing subjective consciousness (death), while another consciousness that shares their identity lives on yields no comfort.

Consciousness is currently (poorly) understood to be an epiphenomenon of brain activity specifically of the cerebral cortex[5]. Identity and consciousness are distinct from one another though presumably the former could not exist without the latter. Unlike an identity, which is a composition of information stored within a brain it is reasonable to assume that a particular subjective consciousness is an intrinsic property of a particular physical brain. Thus, even a perfect physical copy of that brain would not share the subjective consciousness of that brain. This holds true of all ‘brains’ (consciousness-producing machines), biological or otherwise. When/if non-biological brains are ever developed/discovered it would be reasonable to assume that each would have its own intrinsic, non-transferable subjective consciousness, independent of its identity. It is likely that mind uploading would preserve an identity, if not the subjective consciousness that begot it. If identity rather than subjective consciousness is taken to be the essential, mind uploading succeeds in the opinion of mind-uploading-immortalist advocates.

Believing that there is some mystical “essence” to consciousness that isn’t preserved by copying is ultimately a form of dualism, however. Humans lose consciousness at least daily, yet still remain the same person in the morning. In the extreme, humans completely cease all activity, brain or otherwise, during deep hypothermic circulatory arrest, yet still remain the same person on resuscitation,[6] demonstrating that continuity of consciousness is not necessary for identity or personhood. Rather, the properties that make us identifiable as individuals are stored in the physical structure of the brain.

Ultimately, this is a subjective problem, not an objective one: If a copy is made of a book, is it still the same book? It depends if you subjectively consider “the book” to be the physical artifact or the information contained within. Is it the same book that was once held by Isaac Newton? No. Is it the same book that was once read by Isaac Newton? Yes.

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Mind uploading – RationalWiki

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Scathing Dissent in Fourth Amendment Case

Posted: June 24, 2016 at 7:26 am

In a so-far-sleepy Supreme Court term, Justice Sonia Sotomayor let loose a scorching dissent in a case involving the Fourth Amendment and police conduct on Monday. The majority opinion, Sotomayor wrote, “says that your body is subject to invasion while courts excuse the violation of your rights.”

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the court’s opinion on behalf of five justices, including all of the other Republican appointees and Democratic appointee Justice Stephen Breyer. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined most of Sotomayor’s dissent, as well as a separate dissent by Justice Elena Kagan.

Sotomayor’s remarkably direct dissent went far beyond the specific question of the case, tapping directly into the zeitgeist of the Black Lives Matter movement and criminal justice reform. It cites the Department of Justice’s report from Ferguson, Missouri, on police misconduct and books like Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow,” Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me” and James Baldwin’s 1963 classic “The Fire Next Time.”

Related: Supreme Court Won’t Consider Challenge to Assault Weapons Ban

Of people “routinely targeted by the police,” Sotomayor wrote, “Until their voices matter too, our justice system will continue to be anything but.”

The case concerns Edward Strieff, who was stopped while leaving a house a police officer was watching on suspicion of drug activity. When the officer discovered Strieff had an outstanding warrant for a minor traffic violation, he searched Strieff and found methamphetamine. The court had to decide whether the drugs found on Strieff could be used as evidence or whether such evidence was disqualified by the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

Evidence in the Strieff case, Thomas wrote for the majority, was “admissible because the officer’s discovery of the arrest warrant attenuated the connection between the unlawful stop and the evidence seized incident to arrest.”

Sotomayor retorted, “The Court today holds that the discovery of a warrant for an unpaid parking ticket will forgive a police officer’s violation of your Fourth Amendment rights. Do not be soothed by the opinion’s technical language: This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants even if you are doing nothing wrong.”

Early in her career, Sotomayor worked as a prosecutor in Manhattan not exactly the redoubt of the soft on crime. Still, she wrote, in the only portion of the dissenting opinion Ginsburg didn’t join, “Writing only for myself, and drawing on my professional experiences, I would add that unlawful ‘stops’ have severe consequences much greater than the inconvenience suggested by the name.”

She added that the fact that the officer did in fact find drugs on Strieff didn’t matter: “A basic principle lies at the heart of the Fourth Amendment: Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

She described at length all the encroachments a police officer can lawfully make on an individual, from invasive physical searches to handcuffing to a lasting arrest record.

Strieff is white, Sotomayor noted, but that doesn’t mean racial profiling isn’t at the heart of this case. “The white defendant in this case shows that anyone’s dignity can be violated in this manner But it is no secret that people of color are disproportionate victims of this type of scrutiny For generations, black and brown parents have given their children ‘the talk’ instructing them never to run down the street; always keep your hands where they can be seen; do not even think of talking back to a stranger all out of fear of how an officer with a gun will react to them.”

Validating “the talk” under color of law, Sotomayor concluded, “implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged.”

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Scathing Dissent in Fourth Amendment Case

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Singularity on Steam

Posted: June 22, 2016 at 11:41 pm

I’ve played this game back in 2010 when it first came out, and I liked it. I bought it on steam few months ago and decided to replay it, and there’s no wonder i liked it even more. First off, the gameplay mechanics are very interesting and well executed. Making crumble with TMD glove is great, and on the other hand you have around 10 weapons to choose in the game, and design of them is pretty good i would say. Atmosphere is good overall, there is noise all the time, you hear wind blows outside and moving , you hear monsters eating corpses and that makes you feel frighten. So like i said, good atmosphere overall, from the point of sound at least. The design of environment does not fall behind either. First act of the game stands out on that point especially. I’m not saying that the second act is bad with environment design, just that the first is a little better in my opinion. Destroyed Kathorka 12 island looks very creepy. For example, at the beginning of the game there’s a primary school made for children whose parents came to work on Kathorka, which was destroyed and left to rot with rest of the island. You can find tape recordings all over the place. Some of them are from the period before the catastrophe, and some are after. Number of recordings makes you feel bad for people left to die there, you hear them talking about ‘waiting for help to arrive’ and then realize, that corpse lying by recorder is the person which recorded it on the first place. The story is good, it has a good plot, interesting details and multiple endings (which is great). I won’t get further into the story ’cause of spoilers… At the end 7.5/10 for me, maybe even 8/10, but game has a few cons, and one of them is 6 hours campaign, which is short as long as i’m concerned. Short but really enjoyable experience.

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Singularity on Steam

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Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick …

Posted: June 21, 2016 at 11:13 pm

Is the surface of our planet — and maybe every planet we can get our hands on — going to be carpeted in paper clips (and paper clip factories) by a well-intentioned but misguided artificial intelligence (AI) that ultimately cannibalizes everything in sight, including us, in single-minded pursuit of a seemingly innocuous goal? Nick Bostrom, head of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, thinks that we can’t guarantee it _won’t_ happen, and it worries him. It doesn’t require Skynet and Terminators, it doesn’t require evil geniuses bent on destroying the world, it just requires a powerful AI with a moral system in which humanity’s welfare is irrelevant or defined very differently than most humans today would define it. If the AI has a single goal and is smart enough to outwit our attempts to disable or control it once it has gotten loose, Game Over, argues Professor Bostrom in his book _Superintelligence_.

This is perhaps the most important book I have read this decade, and it has kept me awake at night for weeks. I want to tell you why, and what I think, but a lot of this is difficult ground, so please bear with me. The short form is that I am fairly certain that we _will_ build a true AI, and I respect Vernor Vinge, but I have long been skeptical of the Kurzweilian notions of inevitability, doubly-exponential growth, and the Singularity. I’ve also been skeptical of the idea that AIs will destroy us, either on purpose or by accident. Bostrom’s book has made me think that perhaps I was naive. I still think that, on the whole, his worst-case scenarios are unlikely. However, he argues persuasively that we can’t yet rule out any number of bad outcomes of developing AI, and that we need to be investing much more in figuring out whether developing AI is a good idea. We may need to put a moratorium on research, as was done for a few years with recombinant DNA starting in 1975. We also need to be prepared for the possibility that such a moratorium doesn’t hold. Bostrom also brings up any number of mind-bending dystopias around what qualifies as human, which we’ll get to below.

(snips to my review, since Goodreads limits length)

In case it isn’t obvious by now, both Bostrom and I take it for granted that it’s not only possible but nearly inevitable that we will create a strong AI, in the sense of it being a general, adaptable intelligence. Bostrom skirts the issue of whether it will be conscious, or “have qualia”, as I think the philosophers of mind say.

Where Bostrom and I differ is in the level of plausibility we assign to the idea of a truly exponential explosion in intelligence by AIs, in a takeoff for which Vernor Vinge coined the term “the Singularity.” Vinge is rational, but Ray Kurzweil is the most famous proponent of the Singularity. I read one of Kurzweil’s books a number of years ago, and I found it imbued with a lot of near-mystic hype. He believes the Universe’s purpose is the creation of intelligence, and that that process is growing on a double exponential, starting from stars and rocks through slime molds and humans and on to digital beings.

I’m largely allergic to that kind of hooey. I really don’t see any evidence of the domain-to-domain acceleration that Kurzweil sees, and in particular the shift from biological to digital beings will result in a radical shift in the evolutionary pressures. I see no reason why any sort of “law” should dictate that digital beings will evolve at a rate that *must* be faster than the biological one. I also don’t see that Kurzweil really pays any attention to the physical limits of what will ultimately be possible for computing machines. Exponentials can’t continue forever, as Danny Hillis is fond of pointing out. http://www.kurzweilai.net/ask-ray-the…

So perhaps my opinion is somewhat biased by a dislike of Kurzweil’s circus barker approach, but I think there is more to it than that. Fundamentally, I would put it this way:

Being smart is hard.

And making yourself smarter is also hard. My inclination is that getting smarter is at least as hard as the advantages it brings, so that the difficulty of the problem and the resources that can be brought to bear on it roughly balance. This will result in a much slower takeoff than Kurzweil reckons, in my opinion. Bostrom presents a spectrum of takeoff speeds, from “too fast for us to notice” through “long enough for us to develop international agreements and monitoring institutions,” but he makes it fairly clear that he believes that the probability of a fast takeoff is far too large to ignore. There are parts of his argument I find convincing, and parts I find less so.

To give you a little more insight into why I am a little dubious that the Singularity will happen in what Bostrom would describe as a moderate to fast takeoff, let me talk about the kinds of problems we human beings solve, and that an AI would have to solve. Actually, rather than the kinds of questions, first let me talk about the kinds of answers we would like an AI (or a pet family genius) to generate when given a problem. Off the top of my head, I can think of six:

[Speed] Same quality of answer, just faster. [Ply] Look deeper in number of plies (moves, in chess or go). [Data] Use more, and more up-to-date, data. [Creativity] Something beautiful and new. [Insight] Something new and meaningful, such as a new theory; probably combines elements of all of the above categories. [Values] An answer about (human) values.

The first three are really about how the answers are generated; the last three about what we want to get out of them. I think this set is reasonably complete and somewhat orthogonal, despite those differences.

So what kinds of problems do we apply these styles of answers to? We ultimately want answers that are “better” in some qualitative sense.

Humans are already pretty good at projecting the trajectory of a baseball, but it’s certainly conceivable that a robot batter could be better, by calculating faster and using better data. Such a robot might make for a boring opponent for a human, but it would not be beyond human comprehension.

But if you accidentally knock a bucket of baseballs down a set of stairs, better data and faster computing are unlikely to help you predict the exact order in which the balls will reach the bottom and what happens to the bucket. Someone “smarter” might be able to make some interesting statistical predictions that wouldn’t occur to you or me, but not fill in every detail of every interaction between the balls and stairs. Chaos, in the sense of sensitive dependence on initial conditions, is just too strong.

In chess, go, or shogi, a 1000x improvement in the number of plies that can be investigated gains you maybe only the ability to look ahead two or three moves more than before. Less if your pruning (discarding unpromising paths) is poor, more if it’s good. Don’t get me wrong — that’s a huge deal, any player will tell you. But in this case, humans are already pretty good, when not time limited.

Go players like to talk about how close the top pros are to God, and the possibly apocryphal answer from a top pro was that he would want a three-stone (three-move) handicap, four if his life depended on it. Compared this to the fact that a top pro is still some ten stones stronger than me, a fair amateur, and could beat a rank beginner even if the beginner was given the first forty moves. Top pros could sit across the board from an almost infinitely strong AI and still hold their heads up.

In the most recent human-versus-computer shogi (Japanese chess) series, humans came out on top, though presumabl
y this won’t last much longer.

In chess, as machines got faster, looked more plies ahead, carried around more knowledge, and got better at pruning the tree of possible moves, human opponents were heard to say that they felt the glimmerings of insight or personality from them.

So again we have some problems, at least, where plies will help, and will eventually guarantee a 100% win rate against the best (non-augmented) humans, but they will likely not move beyond what humans can comprehend.

Simply being able to hold more data in your head (or the AI’s head) while making a medical diagnosis using epidemiological data, or cross-correlating drug interactions, for example, will definitely improve our lives, and I can imagine an AI doing this. Again, however, the AI’s capabilities are unlikely to recede into the distance as something we can’t comprehend.

We know that increasing the amount of data you can handle by a factor of a thousand gains you 10x in each dimension for a 3-D model of the atmosphere or ocean, up until chaotic effects begin to take over, and then (as we currently understand it) you can only resort to repeated simulations and statistical measures. The actual calculations done by a climate model long ago reached the point where even a large team of humans couldn’t complete them in a lifetime. But they are not calculations we cannot comprehend, in fact, humans design and debug them.

So for problems with answers in the first three categories, I would argue that being smarter is helpful, but being a *lot* smarter is *hard*. The size of computation grows quickly in many problems, and for many problems we believe that sheer computation is fundamentally limited in how well it can correspond to the real world.

But those are just the warmup. Those are things we already ask computers to do for us, even though they are “dumber” than we are. What about the latter three categories?

I’m no expert in creativity, and I know researchers study it intensively, so I’m going to weasel through by saying it is the ability to generate completely new material, which involves some random process. You also need the ability either to generate that material such that it is aesthetically pleasing with high probability, or to prune those new ideas rapidly using some metric that achieves your goal.

For my purposes here, insight is the ability to be creative not just for esthetic purposes, but in a specific technical or social context, and to validate the ideas. (No implication that artists don’t have insight is intended, this is just a technical distinction between phases of the operation, for my purposes here.) Einstein’s insight for special relativity was that the speed of light is constant. Either he generated many, many hypotheses (possibly unconsciously) and pruned them very rapidly, or his hypothesis generator was capable of generating only a few good ones. In either case, he also had the mathematical chops to prove (or at least analyze effectively) his hypothesis; this analysis likewise involves generating possible paths of proofs through the thicket of possibilities and finding the right one.

So, will someone smarter be able to do this much better? Well, it’s really clear that Einstein (or Feynman or Hawking, if your choice of favorite scientist leans that way) produced and validated hypotheses that the rest of us never could have. It’s less clear to me exactly how *much* smarter than the rest of us he was; did he generate and prune ten times as many hypotheses? A hundred? A million? My guess is it’s closer to the latter than the former. Even generating a single hypothesis that could be said to attack the problem is difficult, and most humans would decline to even try if you asked them to.

Making better devices and systems of any kind requires all of the above capabilities. You must have insight to innovate, and you must be able to quantitatively and qualitatively analyze the new systems, requiring the heavy use of data. As systems get more complex, all of this gets harder. My own favorite example is airplane engines. The Wright Brothers built their own engines for their planes. Today, it takes a team of hundreds to create a jet turbine — thousands, if you reach back into the supporting materials, combustion and fluid flow research. We humans have been able to continue to innovate by building on the work of prior generations, and especially harnessing teams of people in new ways. Unlike Peter Thiel, I don’t believe that our rate of innovation is in any serious danger of some precipitous decline sometime soon, but I do agree that we begin with the low-lying fruit, so that harvesting fruit requires more effort — or new techniques — with each passing generation.

The Singularity argument depends on the notion that the AI would design its own successor, or even modify itself to become smarter. Will we watch AIs gradually pull even with us and then ahead, but not disappear into the distance in a Roadrunner-like flash of dust covering just a few frames of film in our dull-witted comprehension?

Ultimately, this is the question on which continued human existence may depend: If an AI is enough smarter than we are, will it find the process of improving itself to be easy, or will each increment of intelligence be a hard problem for the system of the day? This is what Bostrom calls the “recalcitrance” of the problem.

I believe that the range of possible systems grows rapidly as they get more complex, and that evaluating them gets harder; this is hard to quantify, but each step might involve a thousand times as many options, or evaluating each option might be a thousand times harder. Growth in computational power won’t dramatically overbalance that and give sustained, rapid and accelerating growth that moves AIs beyond our comprehension quickly. (Don’t take these numbers seriously, it’s just an example.)

Bostrom believes that recalcitrance will grow more slowly than the resources the AI can bring to bear on the problem, resulting in continuing, and rapid, exponential increases in intelligence — the arrival of the Singularity. As you can tell from the above, I suspect that the opposite is the case, or that they very roughly balance, but Bostrom argues convincingly. He is forcing me to reconsider.

What about “values”, my sixth type of answer, above? Ah, there’s where it all goes awry. Chapter eight is titled, “Is the default scenario doom?” and it will keep you awake.

What happens when we put an AI in charge of a paper clip factory, and instruct it to make as many paper clips as it can? With such a simple set of instructions, it will do its best to acquire more resources in order to make more paper clips, building new factories in the process. If it’s smart enough, it will even anticipate that we might not like this and attempt to disable it, but it will have the will and means to deflect our feeble strikes against it. Eventually, it will take over every factory on the planet, continuing to produce paper clips until we are buried in them. It may even go on to asteroids and other planets in a single-minded attempt to carpet the Universe in paper clips.

I suppose it goes without saying that Bostrom thinks this would be a bad outcome. Bostrom reasons that AIs ultimately may or may not be similar enough to us that they count as our progeny, but doesn’t hesitate to view them as adversaries, or at least rivals, in the pursuit of resources and even existence. Bostrom clearly roots for humanity here. Which means it’s incumbent on us to find a way to prevent this from happening.

Bostrom thinks that instilling valu
es that are actually close enough to ours that an AI will “see things our way” is nigh impossible. There are just too many ways that the whole process can go wrong. If an AI is given the goal of “maximizing human happiness,” does it count when it decides that the best way to do that is to create the maximum number of digitally emulated human minds, even if that means sacrificing some of the physical humans we already have because the planet’s carrying capacity is higher for digital than organic beings?

As long as we’re talking about digital humans, what about the idea that a super-smart AI might choose to simulate human minds in enough detail that they are conscious, in the process of trying to figure out humanity? Do those recursively digital beings deserve any legal standing? Do they count as human? If their simulations are stopped and destroyed, have they been euthanized, or even murdered? Some of the mind-bending scenarios that come out of this recursion kept me awake nights as I was reading the book.

He uses a variety of names for different strategies for containing AIs, including “genies” and “oracles”. The most carefully circumscribed ones are only allowed to answer questions, maybe even “yes/no” questions, and have no other means of communicating with the outside world. Given that Bostrom attributes nearly infinite brainpower to an AI, it is hard to effectively rule out that an AI could still find some way to manipulate us into doing its will. If the AI’s ability to probe the state of the world is likewise limited, Bsotrom argues that it can still turn even single-bit probes of its environment into a coherent picture. It can then decide to get loose and take over the world, and identify security flaws in outside systems that would allow it to do so even with its very limited ability to act.

I think this unlikely. Imagine we set up a system to monitor the AI that alerts us immediately when the AI begins the equivalent of a port scan, for whatever its interaction mechanism is. How could it possibly know of the existence and avoid triggering the alert? Bostrom has gone off the deep end in allowing an intelligence to infer facts about the world even when its data is very limited. Sherlock Holmes always turns out to be right, but that’s fiction; in reality, many, many hypotheses would suit the extremely slim amount of data he has. The same will be true with carefully boxed AIs.

At this point, Bostrom has argued that containing a nearly infinitely powerful intelligence is nearly impossible. That seems to me to be effectively tautological.

If we can’t contain them, what options do we have? After arguing earlier that we can’t give AIs our own values (and presenting mind-bending scenarios for what those values might actually mean in a Universe with digital beings), he then turns around and invests a whole string of chapters in describing how we might actually go about building systems that have those values from the beginning.

At this point, Bostrom began to lose me. Beyond the systems for giving AIs values, I felt he went off the rails in describing human behavior in simplistic terms. We are incapable of balancing our desire to reproduce with a view of the tragedy of the commons, and are inevitably doomed to live out our lives in a rude, resource-constrained existence. There were some interesting bits in the taxonomies of options, but the last third of the book felt very speculative, even more so than the earlier parts.

Bostrom is rational and seems to have thought carefully about the mechanisms by which AIs may actually arise. Here, I largely agree with him. I think his faster scenarios of development, though, are unlikely: being smart, and getting smarter, is hard. He thinks a “singleton”, a single, most powerful AI, is the nearly inevitable outcome. I think populations of AIs are more likely, but if anything this appears to make some problems worse. I also think his scenarios for controlling AIs are handicapped in their realism by the nearly infinite powers he assigns them. In either case, Bostrom has convinced me that once an AI is developed, there are many ways it can go wrong, to the detriment and possibly extermination of humanity. Both he and I are opposed to this. I’m not ready to declare a moratorium on AI research, but there are many disturbing possibilities and many difficult moral questions that need to be answered.

The first step in answering them, of course, is to begin discussing them in a rational fashion, while there is still time. Read the first 8 chapters of this book!

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Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick …

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What Is a Liberal – What Is Liberal Bias

Posted: at 6:46 am

The most familiar and influential national party for liberals in the US is the Democratic party.

A few definitions from dictionary.com for the term liberal include:

You’ll recall that conservatives favor tradition and generally suspect things that that fall outside traditional views of “normal.” You could say, then, that a liberal view (also called a progressive view) is one that is open to re-defining “normal” as we become more worldly and aware of other cultures.

Liberals favor government-funded programs that address inequalities that they view as having derived from historical discrimination. Liberals believe that prejudice and stereotyping in society can hamper the opportunities for some citizens.

Some people would see liberal bias in an article or book that seems sympathetic to and appears to lend support to government programs that assist poor and minority populations.

Terms such as “bleeding hearts” and “tax and spenders” refer to progressives support of public policies that are designed to address perceived unfair access to health care, housing, and jobs.

If you read an article that seems sympathetic to historic unfairness, there could be a liberal bias.

If you read an article that seems critical of the notion of historical unfairness, there could be a conservative bias.

How do you know if a media presentation or book has a liberal bias?

When critics claim that the press is too liberal, they are often basing the claim on the belief that the press is voicing a view that is too far outside outside traditional views (remember that conservatives value tradition) or they are supporting policy that is based on the idea of “fixing” an injustice.

Today some liberal thinkers prefer to call themselves progressives. Progressive movements are those that address injustice to a group that is in the minority. Liberals would say that the Civil Rights Movement was a progressive movement, for example. However, support for Civil Rights legislation was, in fact, mixed when it came to party affiliation.

As you may know, many people were not in favor of granting equal rights to African Americans during the Civil Rights demonstrations in the sixties, possibly because they feared that equal rights would bring about too much change. Resistance to that change wrought violence. During this tumultuous time of change, many pro-Civil Rights Republicans were criticized for being too “liberal” in their views and many Democrats (like John F. Kennedy) were accused of being too conservative when it came to accepting change.

Child labor laws provide another example. It may be hard to believe, but many people in industry resisted the laws and other restrictions that prevented them from putting young children to work in dangerous factories for long hours. Progressive thinkers changed those laws. In fact, the U.S. was undergoing a “Progressive Era” at this time of reform. This Progressive Era led to reforms in industry to make foods safer, to make factories safer, and to make many aspects of life more “fair.”

The Progressive Era was one time when government played a large role in the U.S. by interfering with business on behalf of people. Today, some people think the government should play a large role as protector, while others believe that the government should refrain from taking a role. It is important to know that progressive thinking can come from either political party.

Conservatives lean toward the belief that the government should stay out of the business of individuals as much as possible, and that includes staying out of the individual’s pocket book. This means they prefer to limit taxes.

Liberals stress that a well-functioning government has a responsibility to maintain law and order, and that doing this is costly. Liberals would lean toward the opinion that taxes are necessary for providing police and courts, ensuring safe transportation by building safe roads, promoting education by providing public schools, and protecting society in general by providing protections to those being exploited by industries.

Conservative thinkers might see bias in an article that expresses a favorable view to taxes or to increasing government spending for initiatives like those mentioned above.

For more information on liberal or progressive values, go to Liberal Politics.

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What Is a Liberal – What Is Liberal Bias

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Atlas Shrugged

Posted: June 19, 2016 at 2:45 pm

Published in 1957, Atlas Shrugged was Ayn Rand’s last and most ambitious novel. Rand set out to explain her personal philosophy in this book, which follows a group of pioneering industrialists who go on strike against a corrupt government and a judgmental society. After completing this novel Rand turned to nonfiction and published works on her philosophy for the rest of her career. Rand actually only published four novels in her entire career, and the novel that came out before Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, was published in 1943. So there was a pretty long publishing gap there.

It might seem a bit odd to use a work of fiction to make a philosophical statement, but this actually reflects Rand’s view of art. Art, for her, was a way to present ideals and ideas. In other words, Rand herself admitted that her characters may not always be “believable.” They are “ideal” people who represent a range of philosophies. Rand used these characters to show how her philosophy could be lived, rather than just publishing an essay about it.

Rand’s personal philosophy, known as Objectivism (to read more about it, check out our Themes section) was, and remains, really controversial. Objectivism criticizes a lot of philosophies and views, ranging from Christianity to communism, and as a result it can be very polarizing. Rand herself was a devout atheist, held very open views about sex (which definitely raised some eyebrows in 1950s America), and was a staunch anti-communist.

Rand’s anti-communism stems from her personal history. She was born in Russia in 1905 and lived through the Bolshevik Revolution, which is when communists overthrew Russia’s monarchy and took over, establishing the Soviet Union. The Revolution was a bloody affair, and the new communist government was very oppressive; as a result Rand developed a lifelong hatred of communism and violence of any sort.

Rand fled the Soviet Union in 1926 and came to America, where she quickly became a fan of American freedom, American democracy, and American capitalism, all of which greatly contrasted to the experiences she’d had in the oppressive Soviet Union. Rand’s personal philosophy developed around these American ideas, in opposition to the type of life she saw in the Soviet Union.

Given that Atlas Shrugged is a statement of Rand’s personal philosophy, the book expresses many of her views on religion, sex, politics, etc. When it was published, it received a lot of negative reviews. Many conservatives hated the book for its atheist views and its upfront treatment of sex. Many liberals hated the book for its celebration of capitalism. The book also confused a lot of people. But the novel sold, and it has remained popular since; it’s actually never been out of print since it was first published over fifty years ago. Atlas Shrugged was kind of like one of those blockbuster movies that gets horrible reviews but still does really well at the box office. Something about this book intrigues people, whether it’s the characters, the ideas, or just the mystery plot itself.

In fact, Atlas Shrugged has even seen a renewed surge in popularity lately, coinciding with the recent financial crisis. (If you want to see some of the news coverage of this, check out our “Best of the Web” section.) The book does deal with industrialists and hard financial times, so this popularity boom is not too surprising. In recent years the news media has often classed the novel as ber-conservative, which is funny, since a lot of conservatives hated the book when it first came out. At any rate it’s still a very controversial book just check out the hundreds of varied reviews it has racked up on Amazon.

In an old episode of South Park, a character who reads Atlas Shrugged declares that the book ruined reading for him and that he would never read another book again. (If you want to watch this hilarious clip, head on over to the “Best of the Web” section.) There’s a reason this book is so often made the butt of jokes. It’s long. Crazy long. We’re talking Tolstoy levels of longness. It’s also a book that’s about politics, philosophy, 30-something business people, and more philosophy. Frankly, this book can seem downright off-putting. Even the title is confusing.

So why should you care? Well, for one thing, putting aside all the Deep Thoughts and Profound Ideas in this book, we have a bunch of characters who are challenging the establishment. Seriously. At its core, this book is about individuals who go against the crowd, individuals bold enough to speak their minds, do their own thing, and seek their own happiness. And in trying to do so, these bold individuals face a heck of a lot of peer pressure. In fact, pretty much everyone in the whole world disapproves of these people, who are trying to make better lives for themselves by embracing things like liberty and self-esteem.

It’s like high school times a billion. The world is filled with the snobby popular crowd and our intrepid band of misfit heroes is outnumbered, but never outsmarted. Turns out all that philosophy we mentioned earlier has a lot to do with all of this individualism and going against the crowd, too. Whether it’s a high school cafeteria or a high-powered business meeting, some things seem to stay pretty universal. This book shows that there are always people who want to march to the beat of their own drum and who are bold enough to risk mass disapproval in order to do it. Kind of cool and inspiring really, regardless of your opinion of their particular philosophy.

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Atlas Shrugged

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CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Rationalism – NEW ADVENT

Posted: at 3:34 am

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(Latin, ratio reason , the faculty of the mind which forms the ground of calculation, i.e. discursive reason. See APOLOGETICS; ATHEISM; BIBLE; DEISM; EMPIRICISM; ETHICS; BIBLICAL EXEGESIS; FAITH; MATERIALISM; MIRACLE; REVELATION).

The term is used: (1) in an exact sense, to designate a particular moment in the development of Protestant thought in Germany; (2) in a broader, and more usual, sense to cover the view (in relation to which many schools may be classed as rationalistic) that the human reason, or understanding, is the sole source and final test of all truth. It has further: (3) occasionally been applied to the method of treating revealed truth theologically, by casting it into a reasoned form , and employing philosophical Categories in its elaboration. These three uses of the term will be discussed in the present article.

The German school of theological Rationalism formed a part of the more general movement of the eighteenth-century “Enlightenment”. It may be said to owe its immediate origin to the philosophical system of Christian Wolff (1679-1754), which was a modification, with Aristotelean features, of that of Leibniz, especially characterized by its spiritualism , determinism , and dogmatism. This philosophy and its method exerted a profound influence upon contemporaneous German religious thought, providing it with a rationalistic point of view in theology and exegesis. German philosophy in the eighteenth century was, as a whole, tributary to Leibniz, whose “Thodice” was written principally against the Rationalism of Bayle: it was marked by an infiltration of English Deism and French Materialism, to which the Rationalism at present considered had great affinity, and towards which it progressively developed: and it was vulgarized by its union with popular literature . Wolff himself was expelled from his chair at the University of Halle on account of the Rationalistic nature of his teaching, principally owing to the action of Lange (1670-1774; cf. “Causa Dei et reilgionis naturals adversus atheismum”, and “Modesta Disputatio”, Halle, 1723). Retiring to Marburg, he taught there until 1740, when he was recalled to Halle by Frederick II. Wolff’s attempt to demonstrate natural religion rationally was in no sense an attack upon revelation. As a “supranaturalist” he admitted truths above reason, and he attempted to support by reason the supernatural truths contained in Holy Scripture. But his attempt, while it incensed the pietistic school and was readily welcomed by the more liberal and moderate among the orthodox Lutherans, in reality turned out to be strongly in favour of the Naturalism that he wished to condemn. Natural religion, he asserted, is demonstrable; revealed religion is to be found in the Bible alone. But in his method of proof of the authority of Scripture recourse was had to reason , and thus the human mind became, logically, the ultimate arbiter in the case of both. Supranaturalism in theology, which it was Wolff’s intention to uphold, proved incompatible with such a philosophical position, and Rationalism took its place. This, however, is to be distinguished from pure Naturalism, to which it led, but with which it never became theoretically identified. Revelation was not denied by the Rationalists; though, as a matter of fact, if not of theory, it was quietly suppressed by the claim, with its ever-increasing application, that reason is the competent judge of all truth. Naturalists, on the other hand, denied the fact of revelation. As with Deism and Materialism, the German Rationalism invaded the department of Biblical exegesis. Here a destructive criticism , very similar to that of the Deists, was levelled against the miracles recorded in, and the authenticity of the Holy Scripture. Nevertheless, the distinction between Rationalism and Naturalism still obtained. The great Biblical critic Semler (1725-91), who is one of the principal representatives of the school, was a strong opponent of the latter; in company with Teller (1734-1804) and others he endeavoured to show that the records of the Bible have no more than a local and temporary character, thus attempting to safeguard the deeper revelation, while sacrificing to the critics its superficial vehicle. He makes the distinction between theology and religion (by which he signifies ethics ).

The distinction made between natural and revealed religion necessitated a closer definition of the latter. For Supernaturalists and Rationalists alike religion was held to be “a way of knowing and worshipping the Deity”, but consisting chiefly, for the Rationalists, in the observance of God’s law. This identification of religion with morals, which at the time was utilitarian in character (see UTILITARIANISM), led to further developments in the conceptions of the nature of religion, the meaning of revelation , and the value of the Bible as a collection of inspired writings. The earlier orthodox Protestant view of religion as a body of truths published and taught by God to man in revelation was in process of disintegration. In Semler’s distinction between religion (ethics) on the one hand and theology on the other, with Herder’s similar separation of religion from theological opinions and religious usages, the cause of the Christian religion, as they conceived it, seemed to be put beyond the reach of the shock of criticism, which, by destroying the foundations upon which it claimed to rest, had gone so far to discredit the older form of Lutheranism. Kant’s (1724-1804) criticism of the reason, however, formed a turning-point in the development of Rationalism. For a full understanding of his attitude, the reader must be acquainted with the nature of his pietistic upbringing and later scientific and philosophical formation in the Leibniz-Wolff school of thought (see PHILOSOPHY OF KANT). As far as concerns the point that occupies us at present, Kant was a Rationalist. For him religion was coextensive, with natural , though not utilitarian, morals. When he met with the criticisms of Hume and undertook his famous “Kritik”, his preoccupation was to safeguard his religious opinions, his rigorous morality , from the danger of criticism. This he did, not by means of the old Rationalism, but by throwing discredit upon metaphysics. The accepted proofs of the existence of God, immortality, and liberty were thus, in his opinion, overthrown, and the well-known set of postulates of the “categoric imperative ” put forward in their place. This, obviously, was the end of Rationalism in its earlier form, in which the fundamental truths of religion were set out as demonstrable by reason . But, despite the shifting of the burden of religion from the pure to the practical reason , Kant himself never seems to have reached the view –; to which all his work pointed –; that religion is not mere ethics , “conceiving moral laws as divine commands”, no matter how far removed from Utilitarianism –; not an affair of the mind , but of the heart and will ; and that revelation does not reach man by way of an exterior promulgation, but consists in a personal adaptation towards God. This conception was reached gradually with the advance of the theory that man possesses a religious sense, or faculty, distinct from the rational (Fries, 1773-1843; Jacobi, 1743-1819; Herder, 1744-1803; all opposed to the Intellectualism of Kant), and ultimately found expression with Schleiermacher (1768-1834), for whom religion is to be found neither in knowledge nor in action, but in a peculiar attitude of mind which consists in the consciousness of absolute dependence upon God. Here the older distinction between natural and revealed religion disappears. All that can be called religion the consciousness of dependence is at the same time revelational, and all religion is of the same character. There is no special revelation in the older Protestant (the Catholic) sense, but merely this attitude of dependence brought into being in the individual by the teaching of various great personalities who, from time to time, have manifested an extraordinary sense of the religious. Schleiermacher was a contemporary of Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, whose philosophical speculations had influence, with his own, in ultimately subverting Rationalism as here dealt with. The movement may be said to have ended with him in the opinion of Teller “the greatest theologian that the Protestant Church has had since the period of the Reformation”. The majority of modern Protestant theologians accept his views, not, however, to the exclusion of knowledge as a basis of religion.

Parallel with the development of the philosophical and theological views as to the nature of religion and the worth of revelation , which provided it with its critical principles, took place an exegetical evolution. The first phase consisted in replacing the orthodox Protestant doctrine (i.e. that the Sacred Scriptures are the Word of God) by a distinction between the Word of God contained in the Bible and the Bible itself (Tllner, Herder), though the Rationalists still held that the purer source of revelation lies rather in the written than in the traditional word. This distinction led inevitably to the destruction, of the rigid view of inspiration , and prepared the ground for the second phase. The principle of accommodation was now employed to explain the difficulties raised by the Scripture records of miraculous events and demoniacal manifestations (Senf, Vogel), and arbitrary methods of exegesis were also used to the same end (Paulus, Eichhorn). In the third phase Rationalists had reached the point of allowing the possibility of mistakes having been made by Christ and the Apostles, at any rate with regard to non-essential parts of religion. All the devices of exegesis were employed vainly; and, in the end, Rationalists found themselves forced to admit that the authors of the New Testament must have written from a point of view different from that which a modern theologian would adopt (Henke, Wegseheider). This principle, which is sufficiently elastic to admit of usage by nearly every variety of opinion, was admitted by several of the Supernaturalists (Reinhard, Storr ), and is very generally accepted by modern Protestant divines, in the rejection of verbal inspiration . Herder is very clear on the distinction the truly inspired must be discerned from that which is not; and de Wette lays down as the canon of interpretation “the religious perception of the divine operation, or of the Holy Spirit, in the sacred writers as regards their belief and inspiration, but not respecting their faculty of forming ideas. . .” In an extreme form it may be seen employed in such works as Strauss’s “Leben Jesu”, where the hypothesis of the mythical nature of miracles is developed to a greater extent than by Schleiermacher or de Wette.

Rationalism, in the broader, popular meaning of the term, is used to designate any mode of thought in which human reason holds the place of supreme criterion of truth; in this sense, it is especially applied to such modes of thought as contrasted with faith. Thus Atheism, Materialism, Naturalism, Pantheism, Scepticism, etc., fall under the head of rationalistic systems. As such, the rationalistic tendency has always existed in philosophy, and has generally shown itself powerful in all the critical schools. As has been noted in the preceding paragraph, German Rationalism had strong affinities with English Deism and French Materialism, two historic forms in which the tendency has manifested itself. But with the vulgarization of the ideas contained in the various systems that composed these movements, Rationalism has degenerated. It has become connected in the popular mind with the shallow and misleading philosophy frequently put forward in the name of science, so that a double confusion has arisen, in which;

This Rationalism is now rather a spirit, or attitude, ready to seize upon any arguments, from any source and of any or no value, to urge against the doctrines and practices of faith. Beside this crude and popular form it has taken, for which the publication of cheap reprints and a vigorous propaganda are mainly responsible, there runs the deeper and more thoughtful current of critical-philosophical Rationalism, which either rejects religion and revelation altogether or treats them in much the same manner as did the Germans. Its various manifestations have little in common in method or content, save the general appeal to reason as supreme. No better description of the position can be given than the statements of the objects of the Rationalist Press Association. Among these are: “To stimulate the habits of reflection and inquiry and the free exercise of individual intellect . . . and generally to assert the supremacy of reason as the natural and necessary means to all such knowledge and wisdom as man can achieve”. A perusal of the publications of the same will show in what sense this representative body interprets the above statement. It may be said finally, that Rationalism is the direct and logical outcome of the principles of Protestantism; and that the intermediary form , in which assent is given to revealed truth as possessing the imprimatur of reason , is only a phase in the evolution of ideas towards general disbelief. Official condemnations of the various forms of Rationalism, absolute and mitigated, are to be found in the Syllabus of Pius IX.

The term Rationalism is perhaps not usually applied to the theological method of the Catholic Church. All forms of theological statement, however, and pre-eminently the dialectical form of Catholic theology, are rationalistic in the truest sense. Indeed, the claim of such Rationalism as is dealt with above is directly met by the counter claim of the Church: that it is at best but a mutilated and unreasonable Rationalism, not worthy of the name, while that of the Church is rationally complete, and integrated, moreover, with super-rational truth. In this sense Catholic theology presupposes the certain truths of natural reason as the preambula fidei, philosophy (the ancilla theologi) is employed in the defence of revealed truth (see APOLOGETICS), and the content of Divine revelation is treated and systematized in the categories of natural thought. This systematization is carried out both in dogmatic and moral theology. It is a process contemporaneous with the first attempt at a scientific statement of religious truth, comes to perfection of method in the works of such writers as St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Alphonsus, and is consistently employed and developed in the Schools.

HAGENBACH, Kirchengesch. des 18. Jahrhunderts in Vorlesungen ber Wesen u. Gesch. der Reformation in Deutschland etc., V-VI (Leipzig, 1834-43); IDEM (tr. BUCH), Compendium of the History of Doctrines (Edinburgh, 1846); HASE, Kirchengesch. (Leipzig, 1886); HENKE, Rationalismus u. Traditionalismus im 19. Jahrh. (Halle, 1864); HURST, History of Rationalism (New York, 1882); LERMINIER, De l’influence de la philosophie du XVIIIe sicle (Paris, 1833); SAINTES, Hist. critique du rationalisme en Allemagne (Paris, 1841); SCHLEIERMACHER, Der christl. Glaube nach der Grundstzen der evangelischen Kirche (Berlin, 1821-22): SEMLER, Von freier Untersuchung des Kanons (Halle, 1771-75); IDEM, Institutio ad doctrinam christianam liberaliter discendam (Halle, 1774); IDEM, Versuch einer freier theologischen Lehrart (Halle, 1777); STADLIN, Gesch. des Rationalismus u. Supranaturalismus (Gttingen, 1826); THOLUCK, Vorgesch. des Rationalismus (Halle, 1853-62); BENN, History of Rationalism in the Nineteenth Century (London, 1906).

APA citation. Aveling, F. (1911). Rationalism. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12652a.htm

MLA citation. Aveling, Francis. “Rationalism.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. .

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Douglas J. Potter. Dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. June 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

Contact information. The editor of New Advent is Kevin Knight. My email address is webmaster at newadvent.org. Regrettably, I can’t reply to every letter, but I greatly appreciate your feedback especially notifications about typographical errors and inappropriate ads.

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CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Rationalism – NEW ADVENT

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The Zeitgeist Movement – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted: June 17, 2016 at 4:53 am

The Zeitgeist Movement was established in 2008 by Peter Joseph and advocates a transformation of society and its economic system to a non monetary system based on resource allocation and environmentalism.

Originally, the ideas were based on a societal model by Jacque Fresco a social engineer with The Venus Project.[1][2] In the Venus project machines control government and industry and safeguard resources using artificially intelligent earthwide autonomic sensor system super-brain connected to all human knowledge.[3]

The Zeitgeist Movement was formed in 2008[4] by Peter Joseph shortly after the late 2008 release of Zeitgeist: Addendum, the second film in the ‘Zeitgeist’ film series.[5][1] In its first year the group described itself as “the activist arm of The Venus Project.[6] In April 2011, the two groups partnership ended in an apparent power struggle, with Joseph commenting, Without [The Zeitgeist Movement], [The Venus Project] doesnt exist it has nothing but ideas and has no viable method to bring it to light.”[1] Jacques Fresco in an interview said that although the Zeitgeist movement wanted to act as the ‘activist arm’ of Venus project, Peter Joseph never clarified what that would entail. In addition Fresco’s ideas of how to change society were not followed, leading to Fresco dropping participation in the Zeitgeist Movement.[7]

VC Reporter’s Shane Cohn summarized the movement’s charter as: “Our greatest social problems are the direct results of our economic system”.[5]

Samuel Gilonis describes the movements opinions as wanting to replace all private property with for what Joseph refers to as “strategic access” as well as replacing democracy with a form of technocracy whereby the ruling class would comprise technical experts in control of their relevant domains.[8]

The group is critical of market capitalism describing it as structurally corrupt and inefficient in the use of resources. According to The Daily Telegraph, the group dismisses historic religious concepts as misleading and embraces a version of sustainable ecological concepts and scientific administration of society.[9][10][11][12][13][14]

In January 2014, the group published a book, The Zeitgeist Movement Defined: Realizing A New Train Of Thought, composed of eighteen essays on psychology, economics, and scientific theory written by the ‘TZM Lecture Team’ and edited by Ben McLeish, Matt Berkowitz, and Peter Joseph.[15]

The group holds two annual events: Z-Day (or Zeitgeist Day), an “educational forum”[16] held in March and an artivist event called Zeitgeist Media Festival.[3] The second Z-Day took place in Manhattan in 2009 and included lectures by Peter Joseph and Jacque Fresco. The organisers said that local chapters also held sister events on the same day.[16] The Zeitgeist Media Festival was first held in 2011. Its 3rd annual event took place on August 4, 2013 at the Avalon Hollywood nightclub in Los Angeles, California.[17][3]

An article in the Journal of Contemporary Religion describes the movement as an example of a “conspirituality,” a synthesis of New Age spirituality and conspiracy theory.[18]

Michelle Goldberg of Tablet Magazine called the movement “the world’s first Internet-based apocalyptic cult, with members who parrot the party line with cheerful, rote fidelity.” In her opinion, the movement is “devoted to a kind of sci-fi planetary communism”, and the 2007 documentary that “sparked” the movement was “steeped in far-right, isolationist, and covertly anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.”[19]

Alan Feuer of The New York Times said the movement was like “a utopian presentation of a money-free and computer-driven vision of the future, a wholesale reimagination of civilization, as if Karl Marx and Carl Sagan had hired John Lennon from his Imagine days to do no less than redesign the underlying structures of planetary life.”[16]

In Socialist Unity magazine and also Tablet Magazine the films relationship to anti-Semitic texts is claimed and it is claimed that those theories are made to look left-wing or liberal. A relationship between the film and a book called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, along with the films use of other anti-Semitic tropes is claimed.[20][21]

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The Zeitgeist Movement – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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