Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Evolution of Conflict Resolution: The Case to Outlaw War (1.2.09)

[The following essay was begun during the 2006 Israel/Lebanese War, but it applies right now to the Gaza bombing by Israel.  Some of the terms are a bit dated, but the analysis is still all too sadly applicable.  And the proposed solutions aren't really new - just hard to implement, because they'd have to be agreed to by both sides.  I provide these ideas as food for thought and discussion.]

The human brain operates on many different levels.   And whether world leaders can ever unite to bring about peace may well depend on which brain areas they choose to utilize.  Will it be those giving rise to raw emotion, those stirred by propaganda, those which assume fight or flight?  Or will leaders strive to promote reality-testing, delay of gratification, and the wisdom inherent in spiritual or philosophical modes of thinking and being?  Since different areas of the brain evolved at different times, it is an interesting exercise to categorize our current national and international strategies and coping mechanisms in terms of this evolution.  Once we have done that, I suggest, we arrive at an interesting choice-point:  The case to outlaw warWar, it seems, is very old brain.
So I pose these questions:
  • To what extent are strategies, tactics, and goals of factions or nations  - or of any of us - consistent with the most primitive brain systems versus the most highly evolved brain potentials? 
  • And, if evolution gave us advanced brains, why are we so reluctant to use our potential?
  • And finally, what would it look like to put our highest potentials into practice?
There are a number of different ways to succinctly categorize brain function - and the conflict resolution activities arising from them.  We can observe the characteristics of how information is processed in the two hemispheres of the brain.  We can look at the midbrain and it's tendency to urge fight versus flight.  And we can observe the development of the frontal lobes, whether during adolescence or as the latest stage of evolution in the human brain.

If we begin with the fight or flight response, a very early midbrain process, one we share with nearly all members of the animal world, we can see the analog in the simplified alternatives posed in Iraq, Israel, etc.  Instead of fight or flight, we hear terms like "bring it on" versus "cut and run" or "terrorism" versus the "right to self-defense" etc.  But consider this fact about such simplistic mantras:  Our four-legged friends have the same limited options.  So, there is little room to maneuver, if humans rely on the midbrain  (no matter how hard-wired such reactions may be), because all "fighters" are assuming they can provoke "flighters."  In ever-escalating chess moves.

Terrorism along with "shock and awe" bombing may be calculated to reach the midbrain.   And it must be midbrain thinking (on the part of aggressors) that assumes these tactics will automatically result in flight or capitulation - a rare occurrence. What is currently happening in the Israel-Gaza situation (as well as in Israel's 2006 incursion into Lebanon) seems explainable by an escalation of midbrain actions and reactions.   Like a series of knee jerks, or a fight between cats or dogs, we see little evidence of higher-level brain function - unless it is in the sophistication of the weaponry or the (imagined) brilliant military plans.  Certainly we see little except more escalation.  No sitting down and negotiating.  Like kids on the elementary playground there is little evidence that frontal lobes have evolved at all.

Now let us look at how the different hemispheres of the brain play into this.  Our right hemisphere is specialized to take in information all at once.  It could be said to process information digitally both in terms of imagery as well as overall emotional tone.  Indeed, images presented to the brain, so fast that your eyes cannot identify them, nevertheless result in emotional reactions.  So the right hemisphere really swings into gear in the face of images, particularly images, which evoke strong emotions.  We all recall images of emaciated Jews from the Holocaust.  But we are also moved by images of the dead and wounded, the tortured, or the frail elderly left amidst the rubble, the children and medical personnel in Gaza (in southern Lebanon and in Iraq or Afganistan, etc).  Such images powerfully and immediately impact the right hemisphere of our brain - and prompt the well-known adage that "one picture is worth a thousand words."   Which brings us to the left hemisphere - the site of the thousand words, an area, which processes information in analog fashion, bit by bit.

It is via our left hemisphere that we can use words, seemingly without emotion, as if wars, tactics, suffering were simply like pieces on a chessboard, devoid of humanity, but laid out one by one in a lovely pattern or rearranged at will in order to bring about "the new Middle East."  This would perhaps all work well, in terms of propaganda, were it not for actual events on the ground, all too often initiated by these verbal flights of fancy logic.  For the right hemisphere, that digital wonder of the brain, codes the information (even if it is only visualized based on detailed news reports) in terms of an emotional and visual whole.  And if the imagery carrying the "news" is not in accord with the advertised propaganda, then the message arrives in a package of untrustworthiness.  And that is precisely what we see happening - in the world or our nation - when leaders today seek to justify the "midbrain-rationalized" but "frontal lobe-generated" goals, tactics, and strategies of war.   Whether rendition and torture, bombings or land invastions - Iraq, Gaza, Lebanon - it all plays on a world stage.   In the end, the strategists who try so hard to frame midbrain war plans in terms of propaganda seem only to reach those whose right hemispheres have not yet made up their minds emotionally.  And even then, the unconscious may, over time, subvert even the most die-hard adherents who profess a strategy of punishing enemies - due to the current 24 hours news cycle - as ultimately, even these may not be able to live with the vivid photo-heartrending consequences or the world's condemnation.

Now let's consider the frontal lobes.  Our frontal lobes mature late.  They allow for planning and assessing (even reassessing) one's current situation in terms of projected plans.  They allow for flexibility, the formation of new and more sophisticated methods of analysis and problem solving.  They allow us to reflexively think about ourselves, second-guess our motives and behavior, and monitor ourselves in terms of ethics and morals.  At the same time our frontal lobes can be subverted by unconscious processes (prompted by the midbrain's fight or flight urges or other conflicts), thus interfering with sound judgment, flexibility, reflexive self-criticism, or the adaptive inhibition of action .  These subversive and unconscious processes are what we psychologists call "defenses" and we categorize these defenses in terms of the degree of dysfunction, if they become characteristic ways of handling information, particularly information which is deemed threatening.

The midbrain exercises a powerful pull.  It's like something pulling us back to being two-year olds or rebellious teenagers.  But it's possible for individuals to resist that pull (via good advisers, methods of meditation, etc).  And I suspect it's up to us voters to find leaders who can do that.  Leaders, both in government as well as in industry, finance etc. who are able to formulate strategies and make decisions based on long term good rather than just short-term pandering (to the market or the voters).  I'd suggest that so many of our current financial woes and governmental/international problems are related to leaders who use maladaptive defenses (just think of bush for one example) rather than higher level coping mechanisms.  But of course that also means we voters need to exercise those frontal lobe powers as well, resisting attempts to bring us down to our lowest level of midbrain functioning - just like our four-footed friends.

I also wonder if "war" is actually becoming something altogether new in our digital age.  So that it's not just about weapons that explode and harm people or buildings.  But the information age, the web, the rapidity of the news cycle itself may be changing the dynamics - as more and more people "see" what's happening from the perspective of the "victims."  And the idea of an "enemy" as someone subhuman becomes harder and harder to justify in terms of tactics of extermination.  And thus, "shock and awe" have now been exposed as another form of terrorism.

What I mean is that for a while the distance between armies, and the use of high tech killing machines, was able to detach the killer from the act of killing.  But now, with cell phones and digital cameras, every civilian can be a reporter and the whole world can see the results - the humanity of the victims.  And thus supposed "surgical strikes" (from the perspective of the war planners) become heartrending stories on the evening news and only further the intransigence of the other side - while gaining sympathizers across the world.  The visual images tug at hearts - and that does not necessarily lead to "flight."  Indeed, it may lead to worldwide condemnation - as the battleground becomes more the battle for the hearts and minds of viewers - not just in the home country, but across the world.

So the effort to bring people to their knees, to make them flee in terror, not only can lead to a hardening of positions (rather than the "defeat" intended by the attackers), but  it may be less and less productive as a strategy in our age of instant media.  Indeed, it may turn out to be altogether counterproductive as a strategy going forward.

So therein lies the trap.  For those who would utilize brute, overwhelming force, in a world, which can "see" the results almost immediately, become the victims of their own assault - as the whole world looks on.  And thus the media may become an accessory to the frontal lobes - a kind of collective, monitoring conscience - prompting us all to not only reconsider the strategies of war, but to reconsider war itself.   

Today, winning is not just about destroying the enemy.  It is also about winning the PR war.  And the former seems increasingly to negate the latter.

Our midbrain, fight and flight, responses work in zero-sum situations:  War is zero-sum.  But the frontal lobes seem highly specialized to work out win-win situations.  To do that, however, you need to talk to your enemies.

Talk Therapy.  I guess that's what I'm proposing.  But, as I always tell people in couples' therapy, it takes two to make a relationship, but only one to break it.  I suspect it takes more than just leaders doing the talking.  I think it takes people in groups - over a long time.  Getting to know each other.  Finding out what they have in common.  Working to try and solve common problems.  And ultimately finding out what Harry Stack Sullivan, a man who worked with schizophrenics a long time ago said:  "We are all more simply human than anything else."



Your always three blocks ahead of me TheraP. Or is it miles? You know, PR is the key to all of this.
Start a ridiculous war, for no good national reason, then keep it going by telling the citizens that if we pull out too soon, the dead soldiers will have died for nothing. When they died for nothing in the first place.
It was CarolG's blog and then your blog on Israel that really got to me. Why the hell do we do this?
So many people, so many elected officials, so many corporations make so much money off of war.
This article at The Guardian dovetails in so many ways with my own post:
Your cite site makes me weep. I have nothing to add.
If I did they would have to give me a Nobel Prize.
To bury your family while a friend is on the phone.
I have no words. Me.
No words. That's why I put up that Guernica post.
dickday, Bush went to war with Iraq out of pure revenge for 9/11/01, to prove something to his father (re Saddam's plan to assassinate Bush 41), and because Cheney and the neocons massaged his adolescent ego as the decider-in-chief. Cheney and the corporatocracy made much money, the unitary presidency advanced, and our oil over there stayed protected.
Why we allowed it has to do with the way our "frog" brain parts were engaged by fear-mongering and false patriotism from 2001 through November 2006.
Now who says I'm not cynical. Forgive me, my friend.
Start a ridiculous war, for no good national reason, then keep it going by telling the citizens that if we pull out too soon, the dead soldiers will have died for nothing. When they died for nothing in the first place.
(They died for bush.... ask not for whom the bell tolls.... it tolls for bush... it's all about bush, you see!)
That was one kick butt post, Mom! GREAT job.
I commented earlier today on bslev's post that we are acting like the animals we claim to be better than. You put it in real grown up words!
Thank you for your kind words. :)
Yes, I saw what you wrote there... while I was literally working on this... synchronicity!
See Stilli, That is why I like you.
And why I love you both!
I thought it was her sparkling wit.
Well, there's that too!
Ack, ack, ack. Bwak you have been hiding from me. But I hired a private detective and found you.
By the way, I owe him twenty bucks. have you got twenty bucks?
I will be re reading this all week.
"So therein lies the trap. For those who would utilize brute, overwhelming force, in a world, which can "see" the results almost immediately, become the victims of their own assault - as the whole world looks on. And thus the media may become an accessory to the frontal lobes - a kind of collective, monitoring conscience - prompting us all to not only reconsider the strategies of war, but to reconsider war itself."
They now actually 'connect' people's brains to computers. They can 'think' the cursor into position.
War is so clean when its ten thousand miles away.

You've actually said about 5 things today that weren't laced with demented humor...I'm impressed...funny and smart, not just funny and smart-assed. (ooops! did I just say a-s-s? rats!)
Sorry, Mom...and we were playing so nicely! (evil grin!)
Is TheraP really your mother?
That goes back to dickday terming me like a "den mother" and then stillidealistic taking it even further.... nope.... no relation except TPM.
Heck, it's not war! Enjoy yourselves!
Thank you for this post Thera. It's a lesson our current president never learned. Leave yourself an 'out': a way to save face. Chimps know when to back down, and reassess their position, when members of their troop form coalitions against them. I've always maintained that you're in real trouble when you begin to believe your own PR. I think we as a nation have suffered from an extreme case of believing our own PR. We subscribed to the USA-Number-1 channel for too long. We believed in our own invincibility, and now we have the world looking askance at us and beginning to espouse the belief that the emperor has no clothes. The Beta and lower chimps have begun to instruct us. It happens when your alpha, (w), is way off base, and it's a good thing. I think our new alpha may be cut out for the upcoming job of reviving if not restoring our national position in the troop of humanity. Again... Great post.
And beautiful comment, amigo!
There is no greater threat to corporate power then the immediacy of the internet. It must remain open to the public at all costs. This is the epitome of Freedom of Speech. To have it any other was is simply un-American.
Amen! Excellent point.
TheraP, thanks for this post -- particularly the detail. It's one that I will re-read many times. I hope this kind of information and message gain a wide audience.
You know, sometimes a person writes something and the ideas get "out there" and circulate, even becoming so common that no one knows where they really came from. So that would be my hope. That some ideas or hypothesis are considered, even put into practice - without people even realizing how they came to consider them.
Thanks for your comment. :)
I love Jung. His theory of individuation really struck a chord with me. We come into this world with certain preferred ways of dealing with the world. If we are wise, we use our youth to really get to know those strengths. And then as we age, we begin, again if we are wise, to try to understand our less preferred ways of taking in information and making decisions based on that info. In other words, we try to get into other people's shoes and understand how they perceive the world. We begin to see that we are all of one body but with different gifts. We begin to see ourselves through other people not despite them.
In David korten's The Great Turning" he says that most of our "leaders" haven't evolved past the imperial consciousness of a 10 year old. Do it to somebody else before they do it to me. These people understand that it is easier to steal things from people who trust you. You lose friends that way, but then you can always find new friends. These are the master manipulators and people who can justify their selfishness with all kinds of elaborate arguments.
Korten also says that as a nation we should acknowledge our "shadow", another Jungian concept. We must face our dark side. It is the sign of maturity.
But instead we have been manipulated with images of a strong father figure landing on the deck of a ship or climbing out of an airplane. A relatively small elite control the images. So I hope that Thera P is right and that the real images are getting through to us despite the wish by the political elite to control us.
I'm far more skeptical than I wish to be. I read Sheldon Wolin's "Democracy Inc: Managed Democracy and Inverted Totalitarianism" and I fear that we are living in a managed place. Our choices usually are In Your Face Fascism or Smiley Faced Fascism. But maybe, just maybe the financial meltdown will bring us back to an earth community and away from empire.

What a lovely, thoughtful comment!
Jung was interesting. He had a theory that was more than a way to explain psychopathology. He wanted to explain how people could become "whole." If anyone wants a good place to start, Jung's book "Memories, Dreams, Reflections" is an excellent introduction.
I am not a Jungian. However I espouse a type of personality theory which is very much in line with what Jung was trying to do. How can we foster our better selves? How can we face and integrate inner and outer, the fact that we are mortal, the basic humanity we all share, finding our way to be creative and contribute, recognizing our limitations and the limitations of being together - sharing one planet? So I'm interested in not just psychology but spirituality, politics - fostering our highest and deepest aspects as humans.
Actually, your comment touches upon another post I plan to put up once I've revised it. Another essay I started during the 2006 Lebanese war - a concept of how we can work on ourselves, even using really terrible events, to foster inner peace - and contribute on a psychic, even spiritual, level. To do what I hint at in the post above. But I will sketch it out a bit more.
Because unless we all undertake what you are urging - what you have long been committed to - we cannot expect the same of our leaders. We will get the leaders we deserve - and I hope we can stretch ourselves and thus demand more of our leaders.
Again, thank you for your wonderful comment, which deepens this discussion. And keep plugging away with that!
Thanks, Thera P. I was a Psych major in college, but then decided to do post grad work in theater and film instead. It was a different way of studying mankind and its myths and storytelling. But I've always loved psychology and never quite grow tired of it. What I like about Jung is what you identified. It's about making oneself whole. It's what I like about Isabel Myers and her mother Catherine Briggs work in psychological type. These two women, yes women, wanted to figure out how to prevent wars. It was one of their motivations.
Some tools are useful for working on our unhealthy sides. The Myers Briggs is much more of a positive instrument in your toolbox. It deals with ways to be healthy, wealthy, and wise. But you have to be fairly healthy to take advantage of it. Unfortunately we have a lot of unhealthy people living in and around Washington who reinforce each others very bad behavior and perpetuate bad myths.
Speaking of myths, what do you think about so many people and many of them young people who have watched the internet movie "Zeitgeist"? And then speak of it in hushed and often times frightened tones?

I haven't seen the movie "Zeitgeist" - thought I studied German and I know the meaning of the word. So I'm afraid I can't comment on your question.
Do you work in theater and film? What a powerful medium! How much good you can do! I think all our interests and everything we study can be integrated into whatever we do, whether as a career or an avocation. I honestly think we are making a difference by what we do here on this blog. By our comments, the books we share and the camaraderie here.
I want to thank you for confirming for me the value of editing and extending the next blog I'll be putting up. It is heartening to see that many people are thinking along the same lines - how we can work on ourselves to better our world.
TheraP, I am an admirer of Jungian analyst James Hillman, who wrote "The Soul's Code." His thesis is that each of us has an individual destiny in life, about which we get hints very early on. We resonate at a deep level with our experiences when we are on the right path.
Others would call it living an authentic life, being all you were always supposed to be. That kind of mindfulness takes hard work, honesty, and right brain perceiving in coordination with left brain logic, as you so beautifully detail.
The leaders I admire seem to have a sense of who they were supposed to be combined with acting in good faith. Bad faith is easy to spot. Author after author is now getting on the best seller lists by documenting the past eight years of monumental bad faith. There are rational reasons why we recoil from war and violence.
Writing, holding the leaders we admire to being their best, supporting the discouraged, etc., there will be much to do after Jan. 20.
What a lovely comment, Carol. To be honest, I tried to read Hillman without success, long ago to be sure. Nevertheless I subscribe completely to his thesis as you lay it out so beautifully. I personally believe that at very early ages, possibly as early as age three, we make important choices in our lives - based on our responses to events and people - and we literally choose values to live by, which empower our lives. Yes, there is no doubt that when we are on the right path we resonate at a deep level with our experiences - and our choices, I might add. I think we need to take time out - frequently - to stay in touch with our deepest selves, so that indeed we can maintain that contact we need to resonate with what is "most authentic." (I would even say sacred.)
Blessings upon you.
I have Hillman's book, but it is still in a pile of unread psychology books. When I turned to politics in 2004, I left a lot of unread books in my Psychology pile. Even though I haven't read Hillman, I sometimes muse to myself and others that there must be a reason that I ended up on a cattle ranch in a very conservative part of Montana. I thought maybe it was politics. But politicians are a relentlessly mediocre bunch,so I'm done with the party politics part of it for now. And they are boring. At least my Hollywood friends are fun and many are still willing to buck the system a bit. Watch Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire". He refuses to take big studio movie money. He's made a stunning Dickensian story for 15 million.
George Lucas took his inspiration from Joseph Campbell whose inspiration was Jung. There is nothing better than the bar scene in "Star Wars". It's where everybody in the Universe comes to drink before warp speeding into the Galaxy. The TPMCafe is the milder gentler version and I like it. But sometimes I do need a brawl.
Montana! Oh, that reminds me of lovely memories. Interesting camping trips.... A distraction from the rancor that's appearing here....
We had the most interesting afternoon, having stopped for gas in one small town, and finding there was to be a rodeo... which we'd never seen. I'm imagining you live on this ranch where they were training rodeo horses....
I wish I was rich and I could build one of those ranch type mansions on tons of acres in Montana.
(sorry folks, I'm indulging myself here...)
Many Montana memories. Would you believe on the way back from the same trip (all the way to the Canadian Rockies and that island off Washington etc) we stopped in Montana small town at a tiny supermarket - and there in that market, the clerk had had for an orthopedic surgeon a former colleague of mine here in the midwest!
Small world.
Wish it were a peaceful small world.
Beautiful post. I am about to disagree with you, but in the interest of discussion, not spite.
I think you might be too brain-centered. Consciousness is woven into our entire body. Every piece of us thinks, feels, and remembers. The brain interprets and contemplates, but is not the sole throne of thought. Thus, war is not a lower brain function, but a systemic communal act that uses multiple layers of thought. War is intellectual, creative, abstract, emotional, and artistic. One's entire being can and has expressed itself in warfare.
Human nature can expend its vast potential in the highest and lowest acts. One can wage war, craft poetry, raise a family, and ponder abstractions with equal felicity. It is not a matter of evolution. War has evolved along with our consciousness. Indeed, war has surpassed the Ancient Greeks, yet we all live under Plato's shadow.
Therefore, I posit that violence is not a concept that evolution can erase. Violence can be erased by the most primitive faculty: faith. Faith that we are all, universally, equal creations that live under one mighty sun. That we all float in the vast indifference of space and no one is more special in the face of this emptiness.
Violence is a tribal mechanism. Civilization is so new that tribal tendencies are still part of our cultural values. Tribes have been reduced to families, families reduced to wage slavery, and violence (along with taboo) unites us as a tribe and leaves us feeling less alone.
Faith in love, love of our neighbor that forges brother/sisterhood, love of the world that sustains us... That love and faith alone can transcend tribe and truly make us civilized.
See my next post. And thanks for your comments. I'm not sure I'd agree that we think with every cell in our body. And yes we actually have more neurons attached to the gut than we have in the brain.
I'm not really very 'brain-focused.' It's a way of thinking about this that provides another avenue to present what it seems you agree with in any case. I'm not sure that "faith" alone will change anyone. But using it to work on yourself, yes, that can change you.
New post is here. Tell me what you think:

I will be sure to read it.
I don't believe we thonk with every cell, but with every sacral point (chakra and nodes). Try dancing with just your brain or writing with just your brain. We think and learn with our fingers and feet, and the knowledge is retained subconsciously. Mirror therapy has shed some light in this direction.
I simply believe that to hold the brain responsible for all thought is like viewing history as the actions of leaders. A kind of flat-Earth thinking that ignores centuries of Eastern research the way mapmakers use to ignore spherical maps.
And faith, individual and collective, is responsible for tremendous suffering and tremendous blessings. Faith lets us invade Iraq because our national virtue will bring freedom withs guns and butter. Faith also allows us to have a dream and overcome bigotry. Faith is the marriage of belief with will. It is the most powerful human trait.

Ah, faith! Yes, THAT will get rid of warfare!
Would that be the faith that led to the Inquisition? Or the faith that promotes jihad? The faith that tells the suicide bomber that his god will reward him for blowing up the pizza parlor full of families, with 70 virgins -- oh -- not THAT faith?
Faith is nothing more than an excuse to be superior to those who don't share your particular faith: a recipe for violence if there ever was one.
The antidote to violence and war: RATIONALITY (the polar opposite of faith)
A rational government does not need war in a rational world.
I was waiting for thie. What is civil rights but faith? There is no rational basis for equality, because reason reveals that equality is not possible in a heirarchy. Plato's republic, Huxley's brave new world, and despotism are all rational pursuits into governance. Civil equality is a dream of faith, an ideal we are striving towards. There are high ideals and low ideals.
To dismiss faith is the height of ignorance. It takes faith to cross the street, eat your meals, and write on blogs. Faith is a sustaining force. You are conflating faith with dogma and lashing out without understanding. To deny faith because of the inquisition is to deny reason because of the atomic bomb. They serve as examples of the power of these attributes.
Oh, brother!
Civil rights is completely rational because it produces a peaceful way to live. Just as paying jointly for education so that we can live in a society of educated people, is rational.
Rationality does not exclude hierarchies, in fact, a rational way of thinking takes into account that some people are more gifted than others, and endeavors to make use of all who want to contribute to the whole, which is an entirely rational construct.
Trust me. When I cross the street, it is not an act of faith; I check out the light. But if wanted to use faith, I would close my eyes and go into the intersection, ignoring the blaring horns and praying that god (who surely has nothing better to do in this complicated and hell-bent world) would be paying attention and stop the on-going car which, by the way -- had the right-of-way. What arrogance! To waste faith like that shows how little value it has!
Oh, and:
To deny faith because of the inquisition is to deny reason because of the atomic bomb...
To make a statement like that is to define the non sequitur!
Levity, thy name is CVilleDem!
TheraP, have I told you lately that I love you?????????
Glad to have you chime in here! Thanks.
Pas de qua.
Plus... I love you back! Yes, I have faith in you!
No not you. CVille Dem. I figure that kid is more accurate than jerk. And yes, conflating faith in general to suicide bombers and the inquisition is an attack. I am a man of faith, a liberal man of
faith. I will not be compared inaccurately to this or have what I cherish condemned in ignorance.
I join you in being a person of faith. But honestly I think its meaning changes over time. As a kid I thought faith was "believing" in doctrines. That's what I was taught. Now I view it as trusting... trusting a process in relation to Holy Mystery/the Sacred. (however you want to term it)
I still think you might do an interesting blog by posing that question, however.
You are defining faith to serve a very narrow purpose... Making it a thing that can be eliminated. You are being disingenuous.
Faith is not closing the eyes. Faith is believing that all the signs are there for you to cross, and you cross the streets assuming a car won't hit you. You believe your senses and trust your perceptions. Faith underpins thought.
How about, instead of picking an argument with me, we define our terms. What is faith to you? My definition of faith is belief that cannot or has not yet been justified as true. This encompasses guesses (does god exist?) to educated guesses (will a Bush presidency be a worldwide disaster?), and reason can only get you so far in answering many queries.
Maybe you and I can reach a better understanding. I have faith that you will be less of a jerk next time.
Though you didn't challenge me to define it, I'd say to me faith is more like "trust" - trust in a relationship. Different than how you view it. So my idea of faith is trust in someone or you could say in life, not a doctrine or a philosophy. Maybe you should do a blog asking that question: What is your view of faith?
I walked in here not thinking that people hold such disparate definitions of faith. Yes, TheraP, trust is faith. But I would add that faith is a word that has a definition and deep reservoir of discussion. Faith is not orthodoxy, although orthodoxy is faith.
I came here in good faith... I presume CVille did as well. But I have put too much effort into trying to understand our world to put up with kids who equate faith with extremist freaks. I find it to be a bigoted view that lumps me in with Fred Phelps.
I love deep discussions... The deeper the better. But the discussions should be free from bigotry and without loaded images like dead vets or suicide bombers to shock the dialogue into submission. I hope we can do this in the future.
Who are these kids you're suddenly attacking? I'm lost.
I replied in the wrong spot. Smooches!
Ok. Smooches back. :)
OK, I'll bite. Faith, to me is believing in something that you, or others have dreamed up. Faith is by definition, a belief in something that can't be proved.
Could you give me an example of anything I have said that qualifies me to be what you have termed, a "jerk" or is that just your faith in putting down anyone who does not agree with you.
Specifics please, because calling me a jerk kinda shows me that you are being defensive and don't have a leg to stand on unless it is a faith kind of thing that I wouldn't understand. Enlighten me.
How did I miss this?
Faith is not closing the eyes. Faith is believing that all the signs are there for you to cross, and you cross the streets assuming a car won't hit you. You believe your senses and trust your perceptions. Faith underpins thought.
You CROSS THE STREET ASSUMING THE CAR WON'T HIT YOU! So every person who gets run over, or who has other bad luck, including the poor bastards who are getting killed in Iraq every day just don't have enough faith...
You have GOT to be kidding!
Ask Bristol Palin if her faith kept her from getting knocked up!

You don't understand. I didn't say what you are suggesting, and your definition of faith suits your selfish purposes. I am listening to you, and you are distorting me.
We make countless assumptions and value judgments every day. Every discussion requires premises, every experiment requires an hypothesis. Faith underscores thought. Kant deals with this in his Critique of Pure Reason. Hume discusses it. Spinoza denies free will altogether, making reason a sham. I am not telling you that Jeebus or Allah is missing from your life, I am telling you that faith is a necessary and vital ingredient in life. Faith should be understood, because our lives are saturated with it. Faith allows us to cope with the future.
You think faith is responsible for suicide bombings? Many times it is loss of faith, and direct confrontation with nihilism, that drives destructive suicide. The only hope is to escape violently from the oppression. And as a vet, I take umbrage with using casualties to buttress your argument. Many of my fellow Marines and many Iraqis get by every day through their faith and their irrational hope that life will improve.
"A rational government does not need war in a rational world."
That is a faith-based statement. It is a major premise that cannot be proven. Define rational. Define world. Tell me what would constitute a rational world, and how this scenario is an antidote to warfare.
Please, convert me to the church of pure reason.
Your analysis reminds me of phrenology. You assign attributes to anatomical structures. It may feel good for a moment or two, but it's otherwise a mistake.
"War is hell" it's not "zero sum". Rather war tends to be "lose-lose" in the long run, which is worse than "zero sum" in most cases.
I agree that PR has been very important, not only in war in the usual sense (viz. WMDs in Iraq) but in all kinds of confrontation, as your article may suggest. Is PR itself war? Who needs PR if there is no division, no "us vs. them"? Americans perhaps accept too readily the efforts of what used to be called Madison Avenue -- promotional hype is now the expected but not only parsed out or felt for its superficial partisan falsity. So when Bush lies, we sorta know he's probably selling something, but we turn away from the hard work of finding the effective fine distinctions in the context of insufficient facts.
Ideological wars can be driven by "higher brain" thinking. So this phrenological analysis strikes me as limited. It's not about old vs. new brain. It's a wholistic challenge. Making distinctions is valid, but we should aim to make distinctions which enlighten, inform, and empower, not merely amuse or make us feel good.
I agree about good vs. pandering. Perhaps ironically I find much of your article to amount to pandering. Nonetheless I commend you for posting it.

I assume it is a misstatement, but it is categorically wrong to equate the study of brain function to phrenology. I would agree that the manner the science was used in the post was not optimal.
Incidentally, re: "zero-sum": -100 - -100 = 0.
That would be your category error not mine. And subtraction is not a "sum". Thus I am left wondering at your sense of humor!
BTW, phlogiston is similar to phrenology, in my view. Interestingly, Priestly who gets credit for first publishing the discovery of Oxygen continued to believe that he had discovered "de-phlogisticated air" long after Lavosier established what we now consider to be the truth of the science.

Ok, I'll buy war as lose-lose. Even if the war makers enter it with a zero-sum idea.
TheraP, I think the extremely simplistic portrayal of the "process" followed by those initiating aggressive acts does your argument a disservice. It also seems you never really tied in your outlawing idea, either.
An anecdote from Tuesday: early at a gathering, the TV was on, showing a documentary about Scott and Amudsen's race to the South Pole. At some point, they discussed the fact that Scott had shot several of his dogs at one point, to feed the men and the remaining dogs and to reduce further consumption. The reaction to this by several people prompted a channel change. The remaining time, "Saving Private Ryan" played.

That is exquisite irony. Thank you!
Well, since I wasn't writing a book, but a blog, of course it had to be simplistic. I'll take the hit!

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