« Defining "Anti-Mormon" | Main | Church and State »

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Just to give Krakauer his own say, I'll give a link to a BYU NewsNet article that features several comments from Krakauer vis-a-vis his book and the Mormon Church.

It seems to me that the central problem with the faith-abdicates-rationality-which-leads-to-violence argument is that it mistakenly assumes that avoiding violence is primarily about rationality. This seems quite dubious to me. It seems to me that avoiding violence probably has much much more to do with very strong norms against violence. Norms, however, don't really seem to get established by rational argument.

I agree. I suspect reason is more often deployed in the justification of violence than its restraint. Except for rather rare circumstances I suspect avoiding violence is more instinctive.

Of course reasoning may begin from extra-rational premises and faith commitments that ultimately lead to religiously motivated violence, but it will be deliberate and rationally planned; it's not like even al Qaida types simply become uncontrollable raving lunatics.

Regarding violence and rationality, I recall reading years ago that it had been rather difficult in World War II to get soldiers to shoot at the enemy instead of over him. Similarly, soldiers in the Civil War were too prone to swing the butt of their rifles as a defensive club instead of stabbing with the bayonet. This problem was addressed in training for the Vietnam War by setting up more realistic practice for shooting at people. This training worked; soldiers in Vietnam were more prone to shoot to kill. It was suggested this improved training may have increased the psychological toll on soldiers in Vietnam compared to earlier soldiers. This is all vague remembrance of something heard or read years ago whose correctness I can't vouch.

Well, a lot of socialists were vulnerable to violent exploitation. Stalin is merely the tip of the iceberg. You might enjoy Karl Popper's The Open Society and Its Enemies, which discusses the problem of irrational knowledge claims that bolster power claims. Volume 2 engages socialism but there are already a lot of gems in volume 1.

While I share the concern of the libertarian blogger, I don't think that religion necessarily renders adherents vulnerable to exploitation. If religious people carefully distinguish faith and knowledge and do not allow faith to coerce themselves or others then they will be just fine.

I was going to bring that same point up Hellmut (minus the Popper reference). The problem is that "irrational" knowledge claims are part and parcel of acting in the real world. There's no way to effectively live if we only acted on what could be scientifically demonstrated.

Consider the following problem for Krakauer. How can he "rationally" defend that killing is wrong, or any other moral claim? Yes you can appeal to say utilitarianism. But ultimately to accept utilitarianism over some other ethical foundation one must make an irrational jump. Then there are the problems of determining what is ethical in the particulars.

While this problem certainly does plague religious people, and perhaps more so than others, it seems to me that the ultimate problem is less reason vs. irreason than simply countenancing breaking society's norms.

The problem is that "irrational" knowledge claims are part and parcel of acting in the real world. There's no way to effectively live if we only acted on what could be scientifically demonstrated.
I agree with that. People have to act despite ignorance. That's not Sandefur's concern, however.

The problem of knowledge claims is that they become power claims. Religious adherents who follow leaders who claim to possess knowledge beyond reason are vulnerable to exploitation.

But Hellmutz, you miss my point. We all, as we act treat knowledge claims as power claims.

The issue isn't whether we do this, but rather the degree to which these power relations are moderated and controlled by social norms. The issue is ultimately one of societal power and that power is ultimately irrational.

The difference is between the power of the individual and the group. In these cases, that of revelatory religion, the "danger" to the community is that the individual has power rather than the community. Normally that's less of an issue. When someone does something outrageous and violence like the Lafferties, then it is targeted. Yet, when a community does it, such as the "scientific" view of say Africans in the 19th century, people don't.

But Hellmutz, you miss my point. We all, as we act treat knowledge claims as power claims.

The issue isn't whether we do this, but rather the degree to which these power relations are moderated and controlled by social norms. The issue is ultimately one of societal power and that power is ultimately irrational.

The difference is between the power of the individual and the group. In these cases, that of revelatory religion, the "danger" to the community is that the individual has power rather than the community. Normally that's less of an issue. When someone does something outrageous and violence like the Lafferties, then it is targeted. Yet, when a community does it, such as the "scientific" view of say Africans in the 19th century, people don't.

Action implies neither knowlege nor power claims. Action implies only intent, other forms of behavior not even that.

Action must imply more than intent to be action. To act, as oppose to merely form an intent, I must have the power to act.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Now Reading

DMI Facebook Feed

T&S Notes From All Over

Blog powered by Typepad

General Books 09-12

General Books 06-08

General Books 04-05

About This Site

Mormon Books 2013-14

Mormon Books 2012

Science Books

Bible Books

Mormon Books 09-11

Mormon Books 2008

Mormon Books 2007

Mormon Books 2006

Mormon Books 2005

Religion Books 09-12

Religion Books 2008

Religion Books 2004-07