Dennett: rights and education

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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Asparagus on January 22nd, 2018, 2:13 pm 

Serpent wrote: We don't dump the rest of the Dewey decimal system on 5-year-olds, either.

Exactly. Per Jefferson, we teach them to read so they can inform themselves.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Serpent on January 22nd, 2018, 4:25 pm 

Asparagus » January 22nd, 2018, 1:13 pm wrote:
Serpent wrote: We don't dump the rest of the Dewey decimal system on 5-year-olds, either.

Exactly. Per Jefferson, we teach them to read so they can inform themselves.

That's it? Age 8, Grade 2, graduate, go work in the mines or sweatshops for 12 hours a day, then read by candle-light in those generous leisure hours after helping your mama carry the laundry up from the basement and chopping wood for the stove?
Unless your parents can afford private school, in which case you can sleep in a cold dormitory, be shouted shaken awake at 6 to sing hymns in a cold church, and be caned if you're caught with forbidden literature?
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Lomax on January 23rd, 2018, 7:37 am 

Well most of what I know about theology is autodidactic too. If we're just teaching children to read then we need not teach them about Christianity. If we're teaching them about culture then we'll do just as well to teach them about Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and Hinduism. And no, we don't have to drop an impossible burden of learning on them. Most adult Christians I know are unable to cite chapter and verse, are unaware that the Bible gives two discrepant accounts of the genealogy of Adam and three discrepant versions of the Ten Commandments, and are unable to recall the theological dispute underpinning the Catholic notion of the Immaculate Conception. The point is that grade schoolers are given a grade school version of theology - something they can understand. If this suffices for one religion it suffices for another.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Asparagus on January 23rd, 2018, 9:12 am 

Lomax wrote: If we're just teaching children to read then we need not teach them about Christianity.

Dennett justified his agenda by claiming that it's in line with the requirements of democracy. In the US, mandatory education is indeed linked to the goal of preparing future citizens, but that doesn't go too far beyond reading, a little history, and information about the US government. Dennett proposes that we add something to that small list. My point is that we have no idea what today's children will be voting on during their lives. If we picked something pertinent, it would probably be by accident. We satisfy the goal of preparing children to vote by teaching them to educate themselves.

I don't believe Dennett was in earnest in picking that justification. If he was, he's a dim bulb.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Lomax on January 23rd, 2018, 3:17 pm 

What does a person know of the Second World War if they are unaware of Shintoism, let alone Judaism? And of course we don't know what the future veils, but it's likely to involve religion. Trump wants to ban immigration for Muslim countries. The Middle East is experiencing a civil war within Islam. The country with the worlds largest population has customs which derive largely from Buddhism and Confucianism. Putin considers the fall of the Soviet Union - an officially atheistic, yet quasi-religious and strategically reliant on the Orthodox Church, regime - to have been the greatest geopolitical disaster of the twentieth century. India and Pakistan are two separate countries because of religious differences, and the reliably inane Dalai Lama encourages India to deal with its border antagonism by going nuclear. These problems aren't going to go away by 2035. If we don't understand religion we cannot understand history, or - you can bet - the future.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Braininvat on January 23rd, 2018, 4:42 pm 

My point is that we have no idea what today's children will be voting on during their lives. If we picked something pertinent, it would probably be by accident.


Well surely we have some idea. The religious issues (and related bioethics!) will certainly be there as Lomax noted. Also they will vote on policies to handle water shortages, ecological damage, the need for replacing fossil fuels, the effects of severe crowding in many areas where people flee from wars, ecodisasters, rising sea levels inundating cities, job losses due to AI, and many other changes quite visible on our horizon. And ongoing issues of net neutrality, citizen surveillance, social effects of virtual reality, and so on. And the rise of China, a huge non-democracy, will be a major area where educated citizenry is needed. Our children will definitely be voting on what kind of relationship we want with the big red tiger. And that gets us back to religions and quasi religious doctrines of state.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Asparagus on January 23rd, 2018, 5:16 pm 

@Lomax and Braininvat

Thoughtful posts. I would have thumbed them up, but I can't find the thumb-up button.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Serpent on January 23rd, 2018, 6:26 pm 

Asparagus » January 23rd, 2018, 8:12 am wrote:Dennett justified his agenda [??] by claiming that it's in line with the requirements of democracy. In the US, mandatory education is indeed linked to the goal of preparing future citizens, but that doesn't go too far beyond reading, a little history, and information about the US government.

If this is so, it explains why American school standards keep falling so far behind other "developed" countries.
Actually, the last figures I checked (2014, I think), the US ranked 15th, which was a slight improvement over the previous years, up from 17th. Better at science and math; still very poor on history, geography and overall literacy.
My point is that we have no idea what today's children will be voting on during their lives.

All the more reason they should be broadly informed, especially on matters relating to the rest of the world - as well as their own nation's cultural and ethnic makeup.
If we picked something pertinent, it would probably be by accident.

Consult the educators, not the bigots!
We satisfy the goal of preparing children to vote by teaching them to educate themselves.

To that end, they need access to all kinds of reading material, guidance in choosing informative, factual and age-appropriate reading material, and judging its quality. IOW, critical thinking.
None of those will be available to home-schooled fundamentalist children, until they're well past the formative age.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Braininvat on January 23rd, 2018, 8:48 pm 

Asparagus » January 23rd, 2018, 2:16 pm wrote:@Lomax and Braininvat

Thoughtful posts. I would have thumbed them up, but I can't find the thumb-up button.


No thumbs up in Lounge. I think the idea being this is where we perch on our barstools and offer insupportable opinions. If anyone was thoughtful, we should probably relocate the thread immediately! ☺
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby wolfhnd on January 23rd, 2018, 10:38 pm 

I thought the thread was about Dennett :-) I'm very found of the man but on the topic of religion I simply believe he is slightly obsessed.

I have friends from former communist countries and their morals seem equal to or superior to most people I know with a religious background. I would never make the argument that religion is necessary for a moral population, although I do see that Nietzsche has a point about Christianity as an ordering force in Western Civilization. That however is not the line of reasoning that Dennett is pursuing. I believe he is saying that the trauma of a strict religious upbring can lead to confusion and stress in childern. The fire and brimstone parents are probably engaged in a form of child abuse but child abuse can take many forms and the state cannot intervene in every case. The confusion resulting from conflicts between scientific reality and religious doctrine is also not evidently limited to religious teachings. Many people who are not religious have harmful beliefs such as those surrounding vaccinations and GMO foods, not to mention post modernist ideas about the nature of reality.

My position is that Dennett's talents would be better used to teach how to apply evidence and reason in all areas of a child's education instead of focusing specifically on religion.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Serpent on January 24th, 2018, 12:25 am 

I imagine he sees the new wave of religious aggression (chiefly Christian vs Muslim, but also US fundamentalist vs secularism and science) as a clear and present danger, with too few outspoken opponents.
I find it somewhat concerning, too, that the reasonable people have such small voices, compared to the unreasoning promulgators of hate and paranoia. Concern over a big, looming problem might seem like obsession or hysteria to people who underestimate the size of it, or don't take it seriously, or haven't yet acknowledged its existence.

A better way than making snap judgments about the person raising an alarm is to examine what it is they're alarmed about. Get the facts. Compare projections. Put the available information in perspective.
Don't - for heaven's sake! - rely on the opinion of a guy who literally owned his children, and who's been dead nearly 200 years.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby wolfhnd on January 24th, 2018, 5:15 am 

When I was about ten I lost faith in religion. I was raised in a highly religious family and attended a religious school. What made me lose faith in religion was a nagging question. Why do the people at the church down the street not have God's grace? Don't confuse faith in religion from faith because the latter requires a different level of maturity to contemplate.

You would think my experience would make me sympathetic to Dennett's proposed religious education scheme to reduce the religion delusion, not really. Here's why. There is a good chance that nobody in this discussion has an IQ under 130. That means 98 percent of the population would struggle to understand the more subtle points being made. As they say you can't get blood from a turnip or the ability to apply evidence and reason from those less gifted than Dennett. Dennett to his credit has faith in people but is somewhat delusionally egalitarian.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Forest_Dump on January 24th, 2018, 9:47 am 

There are a number of posts with some interesting ideas so I will try to be brief with some of my thoughts. I like some of Dennett's stuff, and am currently reading Darwin's Dangerous Idea, but do find he (and Dawkins) can be inconsistent on some things.

As an "evolutionist" I find it impossible to discount that religious belief must many positive attributes or it would not have expanded and survived so much. Dennett and Dawkins, like many extremists IMHO, don't consider that their views might work for some individuals in some contexts and seem to want to spread their "trait" throughout the entire population at the exposnse of the alternatives and take numerous tacts to try to accomplish this. And some of the tactics they employ are obiously adopted from their competition. Fair enough I suppose.

The topic of religious instruction in education, specifically among First Nations communities, was mentioned. Being acquainted with an increasing number of remote (i.e., "fly in" communities) FN communities, there is definitely increased local control over the local educational system(s) including goals and content in order to deal with local conditions and problems, etc. While I may not be overly comfortable with some of the choices made (to steal a meme from Dawkins, I find reverence for the down the line evolution of a mountain god worshipped by middle eastern Bronze Age pastoralists to be odd), I can't avoid seeing that there appears to be local benefits from mixing Christianity with some local traditionalist myths, beliefs and practises. And I would note that, perhaps paradoxicly, I am familiar with a number of "Ralph Rowe" communities including some of the worst hit (100% - and Google Ralph Rowe if you need more detail).

So one problem I see here is that people like Dennett seem to think. act and believe in a kind of homogenizing, unilineal evolution of our species (culture?) while I think they donwplay or ignore "selective" factors in local conditions and the history of evolutionary pressures in creating and encouraging diversity. Up in my neck of the woods, most of this stuff would be instantly dismissed and "first world problems", "suburban white people problems", etc. In fact, of the communities I deal with most directly, the ones that seem to be working the best (fewest problems and those are dealt with the best) are those that are more isolated in some ways and therefore most cohesive while also being more unified and conservative in terms of being Christian. There are many aspects I can expand upon and hopefully I will be able to find some time this week.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Asparagus on January 24th, 2018, 10:44 am 

Forest_Dump wrote:
So one problem I see here is that people like Dennett seem to think. act and believe in a kind of homogenizing, unilineal evolution of our species (culture?) while I think they donwplay or ignore "selective" factors in local conditions and the history of evolutionary pressures in creating and encouraging diversity.


One problem with Dennett's perspective on the history of religion is that he's unconsciously being anachronistic with the use of the word "religion." That word means something where there is diversity of religion or a secular vantage point. Meanwhile, the medieval cathedral was the town hall, the university, the library, the theater, the clock that signaled workers in the fields to go home and, having been built by the community, it was a symbol of the community and community itself (in contrast to the manor).

You mentioned the Bronze Age mountain god. The divinity in the story of the Exodus is believed to be a storm god. Judaism is eclectic. A theory is that Judaism is a fusion of diverse groups who coalesced sometime after the Bronze Age collapse. Think about homo sapiens emerging in Africa from a soup of assorted groups: dividing off, rejoining, dividing off again to mix with those others across the way. The development of worldview in the fertile crescent becomes something like that after the devastation of the Bronze Age collapse.

Dennett is an eliminative materialist who believes consciousness is an illusion. I think he probably equivocates in the majority of statements he makes. My OP was expressing irritation that he's doing that with a concept that's actually pretty important to me: rights.


Forest_Dump wrote: Up in my neck of the woods, most of this stuff would be instantly dismissed and "first world problems", "suburban white people problems", etc. In fact, of the communities I deal with most directly, the ones that seem to be working the best (fewest problems and those are dealt with the best) are those that are more isolated in some ways and therefore most cohesive while also being more unified and conservative in terms of being Christian. There are many aspects I can expand upon and hopefully I will be able to find some time this week.

I'd love to hear more.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Serpent on January 24th, 2018, 2:16 pm 

wolfhnd » January 24th, 2018, 4:15 am wrote:... There is a good chance that nobody in this discussion has an IQ under 130.

One way to raise people's IQ in adulthood is to let them learn things in childhood; to let them exercise their minds. Religious education does the exact opposite: like political indoctrination and commercial marketing, it thrives on dumbing people down.
(I wouldn't be surprised if the average IQ had dropped ten points since 1950.)
And yet, I think I you consistently underestimate the general population and children in particular.

That means 98 percent of the population would struggle to understand the more subtle points being made.

Everybody doesn't need the subtle points. Every child over five can understand: This is our story. This is their story. Can you see the similarities? Can you see the differences?
Anyone who can be taught history, arithmetic, grammar and biology can be taught anthropology and philosophy. It's just a matter of introducing subjects in the right order to build on knowledge. Each student will go as far as their abilities take them, and then stop.

Dennett to his credit has faith in people but is somewhat delusionally egalitarian.

I don't think so. I've taught both ESL and critical thinking to a range of adult students. How much you can get across to each one, at what rate, depends on more factors than the studen't IQ.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby wolfhnd on January 25th, 2018, 4:12 am 

I want to point out that my heart is not in this discussion but I'm a fan of Dennett. My first inclination would be to defend his suggestions. Unfortunately I think at times you can strengthen another person's argument by pointing out what they got wrong. That said I like Dennett because as Asparagus points out "he probably equivocates in the majority of statements he makes". The topics that Dennett addresses do not have right and wrong answers. Issues such as freewill and consciousness are beyond the scope of today's science.

I'm glad and appreciate that Forest dropped in to clarify and or correct references I made to native Americans and how Dennett's suggestion may effect them. Having known a few native Americans they are very sensitive about cross cultural education. Having been victims of forced reeducation native Americans tend to see suggestions such as Dennett's as little more than a sneaky continuation of cultural genocide. I don't agree with them but I understand their suspicions. Science no matter how much multiculturalists may want it to be is not racist or sexist nor is the fact that white males have traditionally dominated it relevant. Dennett's suggestion however because of cultural sensitivity is in my opinion in conflict with Canadian law as regards to native Americans. Something I suspect he had not considered.

To keep up are long standing tradition Serpent and I seen at odds over the question of how IQ effects education. My suggestion is that you cannot bring people with an IQ less than 130 up to level where they can appreciate the concepts that people like Dennett engage in. You can "teach" them" the concepts but they will never be able to articulate then in a way that is transformative at the level Dennett desires. Dennett to his credit rarely uses philosophical jargon to elaborate his ideas but even if he wants his work to be accessible to the average person that can only happen after it has been simplified by science, something I don't expect to happen in my life time.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Lomax on January 25th, 2018, 8:50 am 

Forest_Dump » January 24th, 2018, 2:47 pm wrote:As an "evolutionist" I find it impossible to discount that religious belief must many positive attributes or it would not have expanded and survived so much.

I am not denying (as Dawkins does) that religion has some benefits but I think you give us a simplistic reading of evolution here. The common cold survives and spreads: its advantage is not to its host. Our cultural evolution is also rapidly outpacing our biological evolution, which means that an instinctual tendency to wish-thinking, authoritarianism, conspiracy theory and simplistic, impermeable moral codes may not be as useful to us as they once were. Nobody really argues for rape on the grounds that it happens always, the world over, and probably aided reproduction in simpler, more savage times, do they?
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Lomax on January 25th, 2018, 8:59 am 

Sorry if that was a derailment of your threat by the way, Asparagus. I am not fully clear on the concept of rights anyway (for example, opponents of animal rights say that rights must be asserted by their owners; but we do not expect this of babies. Paine says that our rights are natural and inalienable, but how do we test the truth of such a proposition? Everyone seems to have their own notion) - I take them to be a shorthand for "things people should not be allowed to deprive us", which I think is what Dennett seems to mean. But that "reduces" the matter to rule-utilitarianism, which I know Dennett is not happy with, and I don't think many other proponents of natural rights would either. So I can't make head nor tail.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Forest_Dump on January 25th, 2018, 9:36 am 

Coincidentally, yesterday I had the opportunity to hear from an octogenarian (by way of a translator - she never learned any english and never went to school) about the appearance of white people and Christianity (I wanted to hear about the traditional religion). I found it interesting that she pointed out that the traditional ways need to be learned as an infant and can't be adopted later in life. She felt the language is the same but I also know that there are some who are finding some success refinding and/or reinventing the older ways. The key point here, and related my point about the educational system, is that FN communities see it is more important who controls the educational system, etc., than what is necessarily contained within it. And so it is with so much of our discussions here.

As I see it sometimes, Dennett (and virtually every other critter in the world now, in the past and future) is trying to improve the fitness of his trait variant (in this case philosophy) at the expense of the competition. But lacking a crtystal ball, I find it difficult at best to predict whether it will be successful, however I might want to agree with it. And this is a key point, IMHO. Whatever I might think of the content of any specific religion metaphysically, religion has been demonstrated to be a significant behavioural variant and I don't see any end to it in the foreseeable future. Despite flaws some may point out, religion has been far too valuable to our species to expect to see it disappear any time soon. Sure the ideas might be of different value to different groups, depending on local context and history, etc., but how can we expect to be able to predict how and why different groups will make use of it?
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Asparagus on January 25th, 2018, 3:01 pm 

Lomax » January 25th, 2018, 8:59 am wrote:Sorry if that was a derailment of your thread by the way, Asparagus.

Not at all. What I hear you saying is that his proposal makes sense as stated. If it does, then my objection to his language isn't important. I'm not convinced that it isn't meant as an attack on religion echoing real cultural attacks such as the use of public education by the Germans to assimilate Jews and Czechs, and the attack made on the Lakota Sioux by both the US and Canadian governments.


Lomax wrote: I am not fully clear on the concept of rights anyway (for example, opponents of animal rights say that rights must be asserted by their owners; but we do not expect this of babies. Paine says that our rights are natural and inalienable, but how do we test the truth of such a proposition? Everyone seems to have their own notion) - I take them to be a shorthand for "things people should not be allowed to deprive us", which I think is what Dennett seems to mean. But that "reduces" the matter to rule-utilitarianism, which I know Dennett is not happy with, and I don't think many other proponents of natural rights would either. So I can't make head nor tail.

I think rights take on reality via praxis. For instance, imagine the population becomes demoralized and begins to wonder why God has turned against us. Their eyes fall upon atheists as the problem. Of course this is what happened to Socrates, but the Roman concept of rights was yet to emerge. If (as is true in the US) the right to be an atheist was guaranteed by the constitution, Socrates' trial might have ended differently.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Serpent on January 25th, 2018, 3:54 pm 

wolfhnd » January 25th, 2018, 3:12 am wrote:I'm glad and appreciate that Forest dropped in to clarify and or correct references I made to native Americans and how Dennett's suggestion may effect them.

It doesn't have to affect them at all. Nor does Dennett need to factor that in when making making suggestions about general public education. First nations, being nations, can retain their cultural autonomy, without making any difference to public education in the mainstream.
There is nothing to force the same reading material on Nunavut or Wind River WY as are used in Chicago or Halifax schools, any more than there is a need to teach sophisticated theological argumentation in primary school.
If the children in Sunday school are expected to understand the story of David and Goliath, they can be expected to understand the story of Siddharta, or the Coyote and Raven stories.
I just don't see the great big insurmountable challenge of teaching all the kids that other kids are learning different world views, and it doesn't turn them into enemies or immoral people.

My suggestion is that you cannot bring people with an IQ less than 130 up to level where they can appreciate the concepts that people like Dennett engage in.

So what? They don't all have to debate Dennett.
Very few people understand all the nuances of their own religions - and they don't need to.
Very few people understand - or give a damn about - the entire body of western philosophy - and they don't need to. The basic concepts are simple. Sometimes childishly simple. Sometimes laughably simple.

The central question, asaics, is whether a democratic nation can function adequately if large segments of its citizens are isolated from one another by religious doctrine, prejudice and ignorance.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby doogles on January 25th, 2018, 4:25 pm 

Asparagus - "The central question, asaics, is whether a democratic nation can function adequately if large segments of its citizens are isolated from one another by religious doctrine, prejudice and ignorance."

Brilliant and concise summary of the central question Asparagus! Bravo! I see where we could possibly substitute the words "a united world" for "a democratic nation".

I think it's worth framing.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Serpent on January 25th, 2018, 4:44 pm 

doogles » January 25th, 2018, 3:25 pm wrote:Asparagus - "The central question, asaics, is whether a democratic nation can function adequately if large segments of its citizens are isolated from one another by religious doctrine, prejudice and ignorance."

Brilliant and concise summary of the central question Asparagus! Bravo! I see where we could possibly substitute the words "a united world" for "a democratic nation".

I think it's worth framing.

Ummm... sir --- minor point re. attribution?

Anyway, I doubt everyone is on board as to the desirability of a united world. Many fear moral homogenization and the loss of cultural diversity. They fear it will be done through intimidation and coercion; that letting children see the flaws and weaknesses in their own tribe's world view will somehow make them subservient to some other world-view.
Well, one thing all nations and tribes and factions have in common: those in power hate to relinquish any of it. Dixie will rise again; the sleeping kings will come out from under all their barrows across Europe and Asia! All the former glory of all the ancient empires will flower once more, and they'll all get their slaves, eunochs and concubines back, just so long as their children comply with the old laws.
No, they won't.
Empires decline; religions fall into disuse and are relegated to mythology. Things change. The agents of change may be Dawkins and Dennett, or Trump and Putin, or a phalanx of tsunamis.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Asparagus on January 25th, 2018, 8:20 pm 

@doogles

World peace through social studies? I'm totally in favor of that.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby wolfhnd on January 25th, 2018, 8:32 pm 

When people speak of the need for a well educated population in a democracy I get the feeling they think they are in the majority. The U.S. constitution was carefully crafted to avoid the tyranny of the majority. Included in that concept is the freedom of religious observance. I doubt very much that the issue of the rights of children were seriously entertained.

The problem with Dennett's suggestion is that it does not deal with the complexity of rights and their conflicts. As I have tried to point out it is impossible to teach most children religious diversity and tolerance without at least to some degree leading them towards atheism. Which is of course Dennett's religion of choice.

Teaching children is to some degree always indoctrination because for most of them evidence and reason are skill sets they have not attained. Most likely it is not until people reach their mid to late 20s that they have the experience to contemplate such complex topics as rights and obligations.

Even if we agree that leading children towards atheism is a laudable goal using the power of the state to achieve that goal sets a dangerous precedent. When the good guys are in control there would seem to be no need for freedom of expression but it will never be the case that the good guys are in control. Free speech and a diversity of ideas are the only barrier to one form of totalitarian government or the other.

Like most difficult questions religion should be tackled in the market place of ideas not in the necessarily rigid environment of primary and secondary education. Change may be painfully slow but that is why I said it is a question of priorities. The damage done by parental religious indoctrination does not seem a crisis to me. At this point in history it seems that Orwell's 1984 is more of a real and present danger than a theocracy.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Serpent on January 25th, 2018, 10:41 pm 

wolfhnd » January 25th, 2018, 7:32 pm wrote:When people speak of the need for a well educated population in a democracy I get the feeling they think they are in the majority. The U.S. constitution was carefully crafted to avoid the tyranny of the majority. Included in that concept is the freedom of religious observance. I doubt very much that the issue of the rights of children were seriously entertained.

Not necessarily well educated; just informed as to the makeup of their own society - the one they're responsible for electing representatives to govern.
No, children had no rights in the 18th century. Nor did indentured servants, slaves, natives, women or men without property.
The US constitution was carefully crafted to preserve the privilege of the privileged. Over time, it had to be amended because the majority demanded changed; eventually, it was amended so much that the framers probably wouldn't recognize it. So what? They're dead and you're not - you're affected by what your fellow citizens decide, and the forefathers are not. Besides, they made the amending formula, knowing that things must change.


The problem with Dennett's suggestion is that it does not deal with the complexity of rights and their conflicts.

I didn't think it was his job to do that. It's yours. It's every citizen's.

As I have tried to point out it is impossible to teach most children religious diversity and tolerance without at least to some degree leading them towards atheism.

For my part, I came to atheism directly through reading the bible.
I also went to school during the ecumenical mid-20th century, when there was quite a lot higher degree of religious tolerance and lower level of fear and loathing than there is now. And we were okay with that; commerce, transport, education and energy generations all worked, even while people went to different churches and celebrated their holy days in different ways.
Do you sincerely believe it's better to have bigotry and strife than to lead children some way toward atheism - with the option to reject it?

Which is of course Dennett's religion of choice.

You know better than this.

Teaching children is to some degree always indoctrination because for most of them evidence and reason are skill sets they have not attained.

Have you met any children? The single most annoying trait they all have in common (besides singing in septum-cracking voices) is the tendency to ask awkward questions. Adults generally respond with some well-reasoned argument like: "Because I said so!" In fact, all humans come with the native ability to reason, and it takes five to ten years to brow-beat it out of them. That's why the owners so desperately want to control their sources of information.

Most likely it is not until people reach their mid to late 20s that they have the experience to contemplate such complex topics as rights and obligations.

If that were so, you shouldn't let them vote, drink, drive or bear arms until age 30.
But it isn't so. It takes ten years of independence to divest oneself of the mental shackles imposed by early indoctrination, so as to regain the power of reason.
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Re: Dennett: rights and education

Postby Lomax on January 26th, 2018, 10:38 am 

wolfhnd » January 26th, 2018, 1:32 am wrote:At this point in history it seems that Orwell's 1984 is more of a real and present danger than a theocracy.

The closest real-life example we have to 1984 is North Korea. The state tells its starving citizens that immortality is possible through endorsement of the official ideology. The president is the long-dead Kim Il Sung, whose term of office is proclaimed infinite. Everything about North Korean life is built around a cult of this dead-but-eternal man's personality: the books are all about him and his successors; the only two flowers that still grow widely are named Kimjongilia and Kimilsungia. Their main public holidays are the "Day of the Sun" and the "Day of the Shining Star" - the birthdays of their former leaders. Children are taught at school that when Kim Il Sung was born at Mount Paekdu (which he was not) the nearby birds sang in human voices. The successive leaders are not just billed as the descendants but also as the reincarnations of the first in this trinity - a confusion between lineage and identity that will, I hope, sound familiar to you. The region's historical Confucianism has also been leveraged to develop a cult of family.

So I am afraid your 1984 example proves Dennett's point. If totalitarian pseudo-Marxist nuclear states can learn from religion in this way, then we need to learn about it, for our own survival. One cannot be ignorant of the one without being ignorant of the other.
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