Suggested Answers to the Short Quiz

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johnkarls
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Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2007 8:43 pm

Suggested Answers to the Short Quiz

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Suggested Answers to the Short Quiz - Re-Inventing The Golden Rule

Question 1

Is Steven Pinker a psychology professor rather than a philosophy professor?

Answer 1

Yes.

Question 2

As a psychology professor, does Steven Pinker have a PhD?

Answer 2

Yes. He earned a PhD in Experimental Psychology from Harvard in 1979.

Question 3

What does “PhD” mean?

Answer 3

“PhD” means “Doctor of Philosophy” or, since “philosophy” is the study of “how one knows WHAT ONE THINKS ONE KNOWS,” then “PhD” means “Doctor of how one knows WHAT ONE THINKS ONE KNOWS” about whatever (biology, astrophysics, chemistry, etc.).

Question 4

If “PhD” means “Doctor of Philosophy” of whatever (biology, astrophysics, chemistry, etc. – even psychology), is a “Doctor of Philosophy of Psychology” best situated to be our guide vis-à-vis “The Case For Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress” (the sub-title of his book)?

Answer 4

Yes, “PhD” means “Doctor of Philosophy” of whatever (biology, astrophysics, chemistry, etc.).

Re whether a “Doctor of Philosophy of Psychology” is best situated to be our guide – What do you think??? Let’s discuss!!!

Question 5

Does Steven Pinker posit that “progress” (the fourth element of his sub-title) is the goal of “reason, science and humanism?

Answer 5

Yes.

Question 6

Focusing on the first of Steven Pinker’s “Big Three,” is it distressing that “Big Tech” is, as we discussed at length in our Jan 13 meeting, trying to impose censorship on the nation?

Answer 6

What do you think??? Let’s discuss!!!

Question 7

Have we been witnessing for several decades now the eradication of “freedom of speech” in our nation’s leading universities?

Answer 7

What do you think??? Let’s discuss!!!

Question 8

Is the war against “freedom of speech” getting even nastier in the next evolution of censorship – “cancel culture”?

Answer 8

What do you think??? Let’s discuss!!!

Question 9

Turning to the second of Steven Pinker’s “Big Three,” is “science” effectively a “wholly-owned subsidiary” of “humanism” or “enlightenment” – or is it often diametrically opposed such as, for example, when it is used to create weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, radiological, chemical, biological, etc.)?

Answer 9

What do you think??? Let’s discuss!!!

Question 10

Isn’t then the key to Steven Pinker’s “progress” the ethics of the nation’s and the world’s leaders?

Answer 10

What do you think??? Let’s discuss!!!

Question 11

And shouldn’t the “bed rock” principle on which the other principles are built be “reason” for which the sine qua non is “freedom of speech”??? And not the censorship and “cancel culture” into which our nation has descended???

Answer 11

What do you think??? Let’s discuss!!!

Question 12

If our nation is able to restore “freedom of speech,” then is Steven Pinker correct that we should be guided by “humanism” which Steven Pinker summarizes most succinctly (p. 410) with a quotation from Spinoza – “Those who are governed by reason desire nothing for themselves which they do not also desire for the rest of humankind”?

Answer 12

Please read the remaining Q&A’s in formulating your answer about “humanism” and your answer about Spinoza’s summation of the essence of “humanism.”

Question 13

Is this nothing more than a long-winded re-statement of “The Golden Rule” – “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You”?

Answer 13

Of course, Spinoza’s “summation” of the essence of “humanism” is a long-winded re-statement of “The Golden Rule.”

Question 14

Is “The Golden Rule” the basis of all of the world’s major religions – defined as more than one billion adherents – Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism?

Answer 14

Yes.

Question 15

Does Steven Pinker want to promote “humanism,” which he describes (also on p. 410) as “good without God” because so many of the world’s religions have been occasionally used by evil people to promote temporal goals?

Answer 15

What do you think??? Let’s discuss!!!

Question 16

For example, Buddhism has perhaps the greatest reputation among the world’s major religions for being peaceful, but wasn’t more than 90% of the Japanese population Buddhist when Japan engaged in “the rape of China” kicking off World War II and when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor making World War II a truly “world war”?

Answer 16

Yes, more than 90% of the Japanese population was Buddhist –

(A) when Japan engaged in “the rape of China” kicking off World War II, and

(B) when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor making World War II a truly “world war.”

There is occasional confusion over the fact that Japan has also been historically more than 90% Shinto.

Shintoism is, essentially, ancestor worship. There is nothing inconsistent with being simultaneously a Buddhist and a Shintoist. Indeed, at least 50 years ago most Japanese who were getting married had a Shinto wedding but when death arrived, Japanese almost invariably had a Buddhist funeral.

Indeed, the first time Yours Truly visited Japan 50 years ago, the most popular tour included a “marriage factory” comprising perhaps 30 acres of beautiful gardens and buildings, which included many Shinto wedding chapels, a few Buddhist wedding chapels and one Christian wedding chapel. Each couple and their guests were assigned a given number of minutes in a reception hall, a given number of minutes in a wedding chapel, a given number of minutes in a dining room and then whisked off (sans guests) to a 747 which would whisk all of the wedding couples that day on a charter flight to Hawaii.

[For the curious, my most recent trip to Japan was occasioned by an injury to one of my favorite ballerinas, Irina Dvorovenko, which caused her to miss an entire ABT Spring Season at the Metropolitan Opera House. Accordingly, I dropped off a bouquet each Friday during that ABT season with the concierge where she and her husband (ABT star Maxim Beloserkovsky) resided – the first with a note explaining that she should not be deprived of her bouquets because of an injury and I would toss a bouquet for her first performance after she recovered. A few months later I received an e-mail from Irina that was very apologetic. Her first performance after her recovery would be with ABT in Tokyo. Apologetic because she didn’t want me to feel obligated to travel to Tokyo simply to toss a bouquet but, on the other hand, she didn’t want me to discover later that I had missed her first post-recovery performance. So what could a gentleman do??? I made the round-trip to Tokyo which served no other purpose than tossing the bouquet.]

*****
The Japanese combination of Buddhism and ancestor worship is very similar historically to China being predominantly Buddhist before the Chinese Communist Party was able to suppress religion in general and Buddhism in particular.

Because the Chinese historically have also been famous for venerating their ancestors.

Though, so far as I am aware, nobody has ever given the Chinese version of ancestor veneration a label, or tried to call it a religion.

BTW, China instituted a “one child per family” policy in 1979 – three years after the demise of Chairman Mao but 10 years after Chairman Mao instituted a “two children per family” policy – both policies comprising attempts to control population growth without relying on contraception, etc.

Both policies were extremely unpopular because of the general horror that “there will be no one to sweep my grave!!!”

It is interesting that the Chinese popular reaction ASSUMED that off-spring would venerate ancestors sufficiently to “sweep their graves”!!!

Question 17

Does Steven Pinker think that human beings are basically “good” so that promoting a new quasi-religion of “goodness” can’t possibly be perverted and can’t possibly fail to succeed in making this “vale of tears” a “heaven on earth”?

Answer 17

So it would appear.

Question 18

Does Steven Pinker mention “Lord of the Flies” – a 1954 novel by Nobel Prize-winning British author William Goldring – whose thesis is that human beings are basically evil as he illustrates with a fictitious story of British school boys who are marooned during World War II on a deserted island when their airplane crashes killing all of the adults – and the British school boys immediately descend into murder, cannibalism, etc.?

Answer 18

No – he ignores the possibility that human beings are basically evil.

Which is surprising because “Lord of the Flies” was written a mere 9 years after World War II and the 70-80 million deaths it produced, including the millions in Hitler’s concentration camps.

Though “Lord of the Flies” was written approximately 2 decades after Stalin killed 25 million Soviet peasants in his attempt to “collectivize” Soviet farms. [NB: Stalin admitted to Churchill at Yalta that he had killed 10 million Soviet peasants in the collectivization effort, but Stalin’s solution to the disaster was to forcibly re-locate 25 million city dwellers to Kazakhstan to become farmers and, as the famous maxim goes – “actions speak louder than words”!!!]

HOWEVER, “Lord of the Flies” was written before Chairman Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” killed between 33 million and 55 million human beings 1958-1962.

AND “Lord of the Flies” was written before Chairman Mao’s “Cultural Revolution” killed as many as 20 million human beings 1966-1976.

AND “Lord of the Flies” was written well before post-Mao China’s brutal suppression of the millions of Tibetans and China’s on-going brutal suppression (including modern-day concentration camps) of its approximately 25 million Muslims.

BTW, there have been some famous psychology experiments purporting to prove that human beings are basically evil.

One would think that as a “Doctor of Philosophy of Experimental Psychology,” Steven Pinker would have conducted his own psychology experiments to prove --

(1) that Stalin, Hitler, Chairman Mao and the modern-day suppression of Tibet and China’s Muslims, etc., etc., are not so evil after all; or

(2) that in the cases of Stalin, Hitler and Mao, their actions were NOT supported by anyone else in their power structures; or AT THE VERY LEAST

(3) that ordinary people selected at random will not descend into the kind of uncivilized behavior exhibited by the characters in “Lord of the Flies” (and the kind of evil exhibited by Stalin, Hitler, Mao, modern China, etc., etc.)!!!

Question 19

So why does Steven Pinker think that human beings can be made to do “good” without being motivated by “The Fear of God” (or “The Fear of Allah” since “Allah” is the Arabic word for the God of Abraham and Moses)?

Answer 19

God only knows!!!

Question 20

Or at least the “Fear of Re-Incarnation” DOWN the animal chain rather than UP THE ANIMAL CHAIN TOWARD NIRVANA (NB: re-incarnation is basic to both Hinduism and Buddhism which is not surprising since the first Buddha died still thinking he was a Hindu monk)?

Answer 20

God only knows!!!

Question 21

Is Steven Pinker also anti-intellectual in his omnipresent attacks throughout “Enlightenment Now” on religions of any kind?

Answer 21

Please read Q&A-22 through Q&A-36.

Question 22

Going back to Steven Pinker’s PhD of Psychology (i.e., “Doctor of Philosophy” of psychology), isn’t the reason why “PhD” is a mark of a modicum of knowledge in a particular field such as astrophysics or chemistry that philosophy is the study of how one knows WHAT ONE THINKS ONE KNOWS about anything such as astrophysics or chemistry???

Answer 22

Yes.

Question 23

Is “existentialism” a branch of philosophy which homes in on “how one knows WHAT ONE THINKS ONE KNOWS” about anything?

Answer 23

Yes.

Question 24

BTW, is “existential” as in “existential threat” a modern-day perversion of the historical term for the “existentialism” branch of philosophy WHICH PERVERSION HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH EXISTENTIALISM??? In other words, one of the many pseudo-intellectual perversions of words and their meanings???

Answer 24

Yes. Yes.

Question 25

Is René Descartes the most-famous “existentialist” philosopher?

Answer 25

Probably.

Question 26

Was/is he famous for his statement – “I think, therefore I am”?

Answer 26

Yes.

Question 27

Does everybody overlook his next sentence (both sentences appear in both his “Discourse on Method” and his “Principles of Philosophy”) – and I am paraphrasing since I don’t have his works in front of me at the moment – “Even if I am deluded into falsely believing that I am thinking, nonetheless there has to be something that is capable of being deluded, so I still exist”?

Answer 27

Yours Truly doesn’t overlook Descartes' second sentence.

But since “Yours Truly” is a “nobody,” it is still possible that “everybody” overlooks Descartes’ second sentence.

Question 28

Does existentialism and Descartes teach that the only way you know anything about the rest of the world is through your five senses – sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell?

Answer 28

Yes.

Question 29

And then do existentialism and Descartes go on to ask whether you have ever awakened from a “nightmare” in a cold sweat?

Answer 29

Yes.

Question 30

And, if so, whether the “nightmare” seemed real??? And if you claim it didn’t, what was the reason for “the cold sweat”???

Answer 30

Yes. Yes.

Question 31

Do existentialism and Descartes then point out that EVERYTHING you experience could be a dream??? And you have only seized upon a subset of your dreams that seems to have some consistency, and labelled them “reality”???

Answer 31

Yes. Yes.

Question 32

Do existentialism and Descartes point out that you can NOT prove that the subset of your dreams that you have labelled “reality” in fact exists??? And you may, in fact, be the only thing that exists??? And you will not know until you have “died”???!!!

Answer 32

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Question 33

BTW, were the wildly-popular “Matrix” movies starring Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne based on the real world NOT being real and another simultaneous totally-unimaginable world being real???

Answer 33

Yes.

Question 34

But, putting Hollywood aside, is it possible that all those things that the scientists have claimed to “know” in the subset of your dreams that you have labelled “reality” are merely a figment of your imagination???!!!

Answer 34

Yes.

Question 35

The same as everything else except you, which is the only thing according to existentialism and Descartes that you can be certain does exist?

Answer 35

Yes.

Question 36

Which is NOT to argue that you should NOT follow science in leading your life in the subset of your dreams that you have labelled “reality”!!! Come on, be fair you pseudo-intellectuals who always want to misrepresent a position and then treat the misrepresentation like a piñata!!!

Answer 36

Beware!!!

Question 37

So back to Steven Pinker – is he an atheist?

Answer 37

Absolutely.

After bashing religion in general and several religions in particular (pp. 420-443), Steven Pinker turns his attention to authoritarianism calling it (p. 443) the “SECOND ENEMY” of his beloved humanism!!!

Thereby saying in a back-handed way that religion is the NO. 1 ENEMY of his beloved humanism!!!

BTW, Steven Pinker bashes Islam in particular (pp. 439-443) but didn’t President Obama teach us that it is POLITICALLY INCORRECT to criticize Islam???

Question 38

Isn’t atheism (the belief that there is no deity) ANTI-INTELLECTUAL because existentialist philosophers would say that THE ONLY INTELLECTUALLY-HONEST POSITION IS AGNOSTICISM (the belief that the existence of a deity can be NEITHER proved NOR disproved)?

Answer 38

Yes.

Question 39

So why does Steven Pinker think that the lack of “reason” that our nation is currently experiencing in the form of the LACK OF FREE SPEECH and the growing omnipresence of “cancel culture” does not mean that we are doomed?

Answer 39

What do you think??? Let’s discuss!!!

Question 40

And shouldn’t Steven Pinker welcome “The Fear of God” (aka “The Fear of Allah”) to support human beings in their “humanistic” quest to compel other human beings to “do good”?

Answer 40

What do you think??? Let’s discuss!!!

Question 41

And shouldn’t Steven Pinker also welcome the Hindu/Buddhist “Fear of Re-Incarnation” DOWN the animal chain rather than UP THE ANIMAL CHAIN TOWARD NIRVANA???

Answer 41

What do you think??? Let’s discuss!!!

Question 42

In other words, doesn’t “humanism” need all the help it can get???

Answer 42

What do you think??? Let’s discuss!!!

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