What We Put Into Our Heads

Most of us simply don't care what we stuff in there. It's a moral failing.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/11/11 17:00

Stephen's Web ~ Believing without evidence is always morally wrong ~ Stephen Downes

In ‘The Ethics of Belief’ (1877)  William Kingdon Clifford gives three reasons for believeing that belief without evidence is morally wrong (quoted from the article):

  • every single belief has the capacity to be truly consequential
  • poor practices of belief-formation turn us into careless, credulous believers
  • we have the moral responsibility not to pollute the well of collective knowledge

I am always wary of arguments that conclude that we have a 'duty' or 'responsibility' because these are easily abused by others and almost always require that we act against our own self-interest, sometimes in devastating ways. But each of these can be seen in a way that aligns the collective interest with perosnal [sic] interest, and that's what gives them force.

I'm in agreement with Downes here, especially on the count of how statements about duty and responsibility are too often not about the cultivation of duty/responsibility within us and by us, but about the imposition of duty/responsibility as a proxy for other things, typically the preservation of asymmetrical power structures. (I almost typed "strictures", but that would work too.)

We often talk about how the artist needs to cultivate a sense of responsibility for what she chooses to put out into the world. The same goes for what they put into themselves, what they choose to let flower within themselves. Credulity is dangerous, especially when it comes in the guise of skepticism and is actually nothing more than cynicism. But we have few formal structures in our society to promote such things.

Most of us simply don't care what we put into our heads, and the history of trying to get people to be more conscientious about such things is rife with bad solutions. But I hold out hope that the chief reason for that is because we've only just now started to learn about how we might do it properly.


Tags: belief  society 


This Project Still Has No Title

But at least it now has a wiki.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/11/10 17:00

Last night I took the outline I'd created for the new, as-yet-untitled project and dropped it into a freshly created wiki. Still no title — I'm brainstorming those sidecar — but at least the project now has a formal home like others before it.

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Tags: Genji Press  future projects  projects 


Genji Press: Projects: Give It Away Now (November 9, 2018 Edition)

My all-new thriller/SF novel Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned is available as a free giveaway, for a limited time!

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/11/09 08:00

This is my once-every-so-often post about giveaways, freebies, promotions, and other must-haves from Your Friends At Genji Press, which appears for no particular good reason on Tuesday.

My all-new thriller/SF novel Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned is available as a free giveaway, for a limited time, by way of Prolificworks (formerly Instafreebie).

See other, similarly-themed books in the same giveaway.

Many other books from other authors are also available in those lots, so go check 'em out as well. There's a good chance an itch you didn't know you had may well be scratched.

If you snag a copy, a review on Amazon.com or Goodreads is greatly appreciated.

Also bear in mind my TYPO BOUNTY! If you find mechanical mistakes in the text (spelling, grammar, inconsistencies, editing blunders, etc.), collate as many as you can find, drop me a line and I'll fix it up, and throw you a goodie for your trouble. Limit one goodie per person per book.


Tags: Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned  giveaways 


Another Turn Of The Big Wheel

Call me a workaholic if you really want to. I just call it keeping ahead of the curve.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/11/08 08:00

Okay, fine, call me a workaholic if you really want to, but me, I just call it keeping ahead of the curve.

The other night, after several days away from the keyboard, I finished the first pass at an outline — maybe treatment would be a better word? — for the next book I'll be writing. No title yet; the provisional title I'd come up with before, held over from a previous incarnation of some of the same ideas in this project, doesn't fit anymore. 2019 Novel Title TBD, whatever.

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Tags: Genji Press  Milton Glaser  Tibor Fischer  future projects 


The Price Of Everything And The Value Of Nothing

The difference between a skeptic and a cynic is motives.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/11/03 13:00

Milton Glaser once said:

Everyone always talks about confidence and believing in what you do. I remember once going to a class in Kundalini yoga where the teacher said that, spirituality speaking, if you believed that you had achieved enlightenment you have merely arrived at your limitation. I think that is also true in a more practical sense. Deeply held beliefs of any kind prevent you from being open to experience, which is why I find all firmly held ideological positions questionable. It makes me nervous when someone believes too deeply or too much. I think that being sceptical and questioning all deeply held beliefs is essential. Of course we must know the difference between scepticism and cynicism because cynicism is as much a restriction of one's openness to the world as passionate belief is.

It's that last sentence that I find most important. Much of the distrust I see manifested at things like vaccines or the news media is not skepticism. It's not grounded in any kind of good faith about the underlying question — the sort of thing epitomized by Sir Karl Popper when he described his ideal of intellectual aspiration thus: "I may be wrong and you may be right, and between us we may find the truth."

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Tags: Karl Popper  Milton Glaser  Robert Anton Wilson  belief  skepticism 


Do(ing) The Right Thing

"moral action is also, inevitably, practical action, and immoral action is inevitably impractical..."

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/11/02 08:00

What Thucydides Knew About the US Today | by Edward Mendelson | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books

Historians argue among themselves whether Thucydides is a moralizing philosopher or, in a common phrase, “the first scientific historian.” What is radical about him, and gives him his unerring clear-sightedness, is that he is both. He understands morals, not as a set of arbitrary rules imposed or wished upon reality, but part of the fabric of reality itself, in the same way that Greek philosophy had begun to understand physical laws as inseparable from reality. Thucydides came to the same insight that Ludwig Wittgenstein recorded centuries later when he wrote that ethics “must be a condition of the world like logic.”

In Thucydides’s morally coherent universe, moral action is also, inevitably, practical action, and immoral action is inevitably impractical, no matter how insistently short-sighted [?] strategists pretend that it isn’t. ...

Emphasis mine. You'll want to read the whole piece, especially the giant chomped-out quote from Thucydides himself (it's chillingly accurate), but I want to touch on that passage in particular because of what else it reminds me of.

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Tags: Buddhism  Zen  morality  philosophy 


Spelunking The Inner Archive

Compiling that list of influences the other day was like performing archival research on myself.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/10/29 18:00

Compiling that list of influences the other day was like performing archival research on myself. Some of it involved rummaging through my own shelf; a lot of it was closing my eyes and winding my thoughts back to all the times I'd sat on the floor of my room transfixed in something, and trying to remember what that something was.

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Tags: creativity  influences 


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