Regarding politics, I completely follow his argument: I don't identify with any party and like to think I'm evaluating each policy on its on merits and according to my personal beliefs. Which leads me to the other one.
I happen to be Catholic and strongly believe in the mental and societal framework put forth by that theology. However, I'm more than happy to discuss objectively with fellows of other faiths (including atheism) and will happily point out the common threads in seemingly opposite belief systems. Yet if others make arguments that I'm not in position to counter, I'm happy to let it go. My identity is deeply rooted as a Catholic, yet my security is not in being right.
There is a temptation on my part to put forth the argument that some religions foster greater amounts of insecurity, but I don't think that is fair to say. Pretty much every belief system has a version of the Golden Rule.
To take Paul Graham's argument just a little further, I would say that religion and politics can be misused as convenient mental shortcuts behind which to hide one's insecurities.
An agnostic believes it's not possible to be sure whether one or more gods exist.
Combinations are possibly; an agnostic theist believes in the existence of gods, but also thinks it's impossible to be sure.
There are also apathetic agnostics; they don't know nor care whether one or more gods exist. This usually seems to go with atheism.
I suppose there should also be a word like nontheists; those who have faith in the non-existence of gods.
Rather, an atheist believes in the non-existence of gods. We don't need a word like non-theist because we already have a word for it.
No. That would be a gnostic atheist. One who claims to know and doesn't believe.
Nearly every single atheist I know, and it is generally a safe assumption to make , is an agnostic atheist. One who doesn't believe but claims to not know for sure.
If you ask me if gnomes exist, I will tell you I am a gnostic atheist. I am certain in my knowledge that gnomes do not exist, and thus I have no reason to believe in them. If you ask me if god(s) exists, I will tell you I am an agnostic atheist. I am uncertain in my knowledge that a god does or does not exist, but I have no reason to believe that one does.
And yes - there can be agnostic theists too! Although they are the minority as most theists claim to "know" and that knowledge is why they believe. So theists are assumed to be gnostic theists unless they state otherwise. My grandmother is the only person I've ever known to claim to be an agnostic theist. She claims to not know but finds comfort in believing. She doesn't follow any major world religion and her god is not a god of any scripture.
 It's the vast majority and so "agnostic" is usually superfluous and unnecessary in conversation. I only ever see it brought up when a theist tries to claim the Atheist is really just a Theist who "believes in some opposite thing". Then the difference has to be pointed out like I've done in this post.
gnostic agnomist, I presume?
As for the rest, sorry, I don't subscribe to Smith's redefinitions as I'm not sure the distinctions make practical sense. More specifically, I don't support the definition of "agnostic theist" because in the context of religion, there is no distinction between "knowing" and "believing". An "agnostic theist" would be someone who still subscribes to the same religious identity and the distinction is therefore purely academic. Moreover, religions already have words to describe agnostics within their ranks: they're considered lost sheep, apostates or even heretics (depending on which religion and strength of its convictions).
Finally: the term "gnostic" has already been coined and does not mean the opposite of "agnostic". Gnosticism is a theist philosophy closely related to Christianity.
It's rather uncommon for any follower of faith to preface their beliefs with "I believe". If they preface them at all, they're much more likely to use "I know", or "$authority says".
All of them that recite the Nicene Creed or some derivative...
When given the choice between
"I believe that God doesn't exist"
"I don't believe that God exists"
>99% of atheists would choose the latter as better representing their personal stance on the matter. Further, almost all would additionally agree that if there were evidence for God's existence, they would believe.
The concept of "faith" is not one that resonates with atheists. Christians however, love to pretend that disbelieving requires just as much magical thinking as believing, and this is a classic example.
It's also not as if any two unsubstantiated and unprovable positions are just as likely to be true; see Russell's teapot.
I think what you refer to as atheism seems closer to antitheism than anything else. The difference here is the same as the difference between "asocial" and "antisocial".
One can be an agnostic christian, for instance, in which case one would believe that it is unknown or unknowable whether the divine or supernatural exists (and believe in it still).
What I'm relating to the difference between "asocial" and "antisocial" is the difference between "atheist" and "antitheist".
For example, many people are vegetarian for one subjective reason or another. Just because I'm not vegetarian doesn't mean I believe being vegetarian is wrong or isn't a thing -- it just means I like eating meat and don't have the same reasons as vegetarians to subscribe to vegetarianism. And I don't think about vegetarianism, like how some atheists don't think about god; this stands in contrast with those who subscribe to religion, which requires active belief / prayer / practice / absorption of certain ideals into your identity.
> the question of the relative merits of programming languages often degenerates into a religious war, because so many programmers identify as X programmers or Y programmers.
Also as another poster said, this works because he's been able to go his entire life choosing what to put in and take out of his identity because he is of the privileged class in his society. If someone perpetrated violence on him because of something he _couldn't_ choose, say, his skin color, I have a feeling he'd be less likely to conclude that "The more labels you have for yourself, the dumber they make you."
The people to whom this "labeling" is most important are those who were labeled. Not those who label themselves.
My action creates no obligation on your part to adopt the identity I've assigned to you. Your station in life has no impact on whether you will accept the label; you are a human capable of reason and you have free will - the choice is yours.
In literature, Tom of Uncle Tom's Cabin is a solid example of this. Tom, a heroic black slave, rejects the labels and associated moral principals others (both black and white) wish to assign to him. He acts in accordance with his self-selected moral convictions. And when confronted with an ultimate evil that demands the surrender of not only his body but also his reasoning mind - demands he accept an unchosen identity - he refuses.
I disagree. Each person reacts to circumstances differently. It might lead him to reject (what he perceives as) arbitrary labels all the more because others were using it as an excuse to hurt him.
And yes, these labels often come from outside of us, but I think his point is to resist internalizing them.
> The people to whom this "labeling" is most important are those who were labeled. Not those who label themselves.
I'm not quite sure what you are getting at. We all get labelled, we all have cultural scripts we are expected to follow. And yes, some have more negative labels. Are you saying such people are more justified in internalizing and defining themselves by their labels?
I guess I'm just curious as to whether you accept his premise that striving for a minimalist identity helps remain objective? Is it not worth analysing in our own lives what identities we have internalized that we could do without?
Arguably some black people label themselves.
But it does happen with JS, among others. Critical remarks on PLs are met with the most religious of fervour in HN threads.
What I don't get is who/what determines a threshold?
A university degree? 10 years of experience?
Perhaps Grahams identity leans towards anti-establishment/anti-religion/hacker-think, which by proxy of his argument, makes him partisan towards those opinions about religion and politics (see how the snake eats its own tail here?).
The way I read it, that's precisely the danger this essay is warning about.
If you can keep these things out of your identity it is much easier to shrug off other opinions about them. You can stay objective and have meaningful conversations about the benefits and consequences of it. Because it's just a thing, it does its thing and gives you something to think about when it doesn't.
Identity is personal: Identity is what you choose to care about. Some things should become part of your identity. Studies find that in most successful relationships partners see each other as part of their own identity. But most things probably don't belong there.
I wish this "who can know for sure?" relativist hands-in-air sort of sentiment were less prevalent on HN.
It's like trying to convince someone that you're not crazy when they already think you are. It doesn't mater, anything you say or do just reinforces their belief.
We all hold biases and prejudices for just about everything from concepts, ideas, products, institutions, and especially one another based on their history, race, creed, social status, clothing, voice, stature, hometown, manner of speaking, educational background, career field, job title, wealth, attractiveness, political beliefs, the list goes could go on for pages. But trying to equate these kinds of biases to being *-ist in any meaningful sense is missing the forest for the trees.
It can't be some property of them, because believing that would be racist, right? If it's not them and it's not us (I'm white) then what is it?
But I'll bite anyway: historical racism clearly still plays a significant role. Whatever the level of present-day racism, I'm sure we can agree that it's orders of magnitude lower than it was historical. The plight of people of colour today can be attributed to historical widespread institutional racism independently of whether any such racism exists today. Also, your model fails to account for the possibility that racism can exist and be harmful without being widespread, and that people of colour can make bad decisions without that being a "property" of their colour (shaming people for "acting white" strikes me as particular counterproductive).
That's not saying that's the whole explanation (or even that it is the explanation), just that your model ("it's not them and it's not us") is a false dichotomy and generally too limited to be likely to yield a satisfactory answer.
I think your argument is sound. Axiom: there's actually not that much racism. Theorem: the remaining racism is confined to a small number of people.
I just disagree with your axiom.
Why does it need a different explanation then why many people of the white persuasion keep having a bad time? When you selectively group people together, you will always get an identifiable pattern. But you can't then claim that the pattern is universal, since the pattern was predefined in your selection.
I also collect explanations for why there is so much violence against white people. I think a lot about violence against men lately. But that doesn't stop me from thinking there are some instances of violence that are best explained as violence against women.
You can see that arguments of that form aren't effective. I don't think that's a compelling argument for anyone other than those who have similar beliefs to you. Arguments from the left like that are the reason for the resurgence of the right.
He must not spend a lot of time on Slashdot, or Hacker News, for that matter.
For example, the question of the relative merits of programming languages often degenerates into a religious war, because so many programmers identify as X programmers or Y programmers.
Remember it was 2009. Surely Chrome had come out by then a few years, with the much improved JS engine, but IE still had the dominant market share. And so I doubt there were so many JS frameworks as today. Surely there was jquery and also things like GWT already, and I am sure quite some other frameworks.
Also if I look at the context of what he is trying to say, that mention is not important. Its about wearing labels or not. Or in other words about being open to think, because of not tying ourselves down with published identities.
For politics, I try not to feel too strongly about Trump and the electoral process. I would still vote, but I know it would have a minimal impact, no matter how strongly I feel.
Instead, I focus my energy on my business, which I can change.
> God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
> Courage to change the things I can,
> And wisdom to know the difference.
God, I love Kurt Vonnegut.
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
The first is shorter, less abstract and easier to remember.
People waste so much energy trying to change others when they could change themselves with practically no effort.
Seriously on point. A lot of the former happening on the internet, probably because it's easier to complain.
The greatest takeaway I've gotten from the stoic philosophy: For obstacles we face we can either accept them or work on changing them. Worry and complaint are unnecessary, for if we accept, then we are at peace, and if we work to change them, we are on the right path.
I don't feel like you grasped the article clearly.
Edit: Just now, someone showed me a video which claimed drinking apple cider vinegar helped prevent cancer. I tried to say that this is billshit because nobody can really say drinking something prevents cancer without a long-term study that I doubt this YouTube celebrity had done.
I don't claim I don't have a bias. But I don't think we should be sin free to cast the first stone on ideas.
Now I can pretend to cheer but I don't really care as much.
You might also say that people have identity and religion and politics use those to advantage. But is it wrong to have identity? I'd argue it as a basic human requirement.
Religion can be considered a technology of group identity which was refined over millennium to be most effective at generating a unified form. Like all technology it was disrupted by something better and more efficient at transmitting shared consciousness.
That definition also fits the web which is the most powerful method of transmission yet invented, and is the fruit of the science religion.
This piece reads like a person who has never had to deal with that, or at least never had to think about it.
An application by Buchheit (and others!) that improved my life: Gmail.
Two books by Krishnamurti that improved my life: Think on These Things and The First and Last Freedom.
It not just applies to religion and politics but many other things in life. We might be wasting too much of time on certain thing with very little impact. It is hard to not to fall in that trap but trying surely saved a lot of time.
Though really, It's pretty shallow to draw like for like comparisons between religion/politics and JS discussions. JS is trivial. Most tech discussions are trivial the day after they've been had.
You could keep going, stripping yourself of all labels via the discovery that labels are neither good nor bad in a qualitative sense. But this begs the question "what is good?" And then you might conclude that you know what is good, and then form your labels as such.
Having labels isn't dumb; not being mindful of your labels is dumb.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.
TLDR: paul graham is sofa philosopher.
I understand the quote as meaning that we should speak out even when groups we do not identify with are being oppressed.
But you seem to understand the quote as meaning that we should identify with as many groups as possible.
I very much doubt the author of the quote meant it the way you do, and even if they did it just sounds very wrong. It's expected and accepted to not care about any other group than the ones you identify with then? I do not identify as LGBT or as a woman, so I should not speak out for LGBT and women's rights? What about groups that will remain small because you can't just decide one day to identify with them, they're screwed?
Even if you are not a jew, why couldn't you have a discussion about jews? In fact, isn't that Paul Graham's entire point, that if it's not part of your identity (i.e. you're not a jew), you can have a much more reasonable conversation about it?
The point is not that this person should have expanded his identity till he was a Socialist. The point is that there are principles that you should stand up for in the defense of people outside your identity group.
A socialist, a trade unionist, and a Jew are still all people. You should be a human being, and treat others as such. If your identity is, as per your example, "right-wing", "German", "Christian", "pagan", "working class", or "member of the NSDAP", then you may not feel that your shared humanity is more important than your other identities.
I don't know which reading is correct, but I prefer mine.
I do not believe this author had much experience discussing JS on forums.
As a consequence, we see many "I'm leaving Nodejs for Go" and virtually zero "I'm leaving Rhino for Python".
Sometimes you get to choose what you identify with. Other times, people choose for you. For instance, you don't get to wake up one morning and decide not to be black, or gay, or a woman. You don't get to simply shed those categories and avoid the increased violence that comes your way apropos of nothing.
I know, you're already thinking, "but this essay is about religion and politics!", but the thing is, for a lot of people, politics are not abstract.
I'm also a straight white cis guy living in America, and so I have the luxury of choosing or choosing not to support gay rights, or feminism, or racial justice. I can choose or choose not to make those things a part of my identity. In fact there's incentive for me to choose not to, because if the balance of power were re-arranged in society, and poverty and violence were more evenly distributed, my life might not be so easy.
But for a lot of people, making "politics" a part of their "identity" is a necessary defense mechanism, because the society we live in implicitly sanctions violence against anybody who shares characteristics of their identity they can't do anything about.
"Politics" is not some separate sphere you can disconnect yourself from. Politics are embedded in everything. Choosing not to "identify" with any political orientation is implicitly choosing society's defaults, and those defaults implicitly condone a specific power structure and make acceptable a certain amount of violence against certain people.
This is not to say that you shouldn't participate if you feel compelled to, but unless you have an issue, isn't it mostly just a waste of time? What if you want to enjoy life and not feel angry all the time? If you have options, does that mean you should never ever exercise them in solidarity with those who have fewer?
Does not PG's advice apply to people without the ability to choose some aspects of their identity given that they have a universe of other traits they do have control over? Sure, one may be a dominant problem, but you can help yourself out by not adding more problems to your problems.
>On Thursday morning, a San Francisco police sergeant shot and killed a woman who was driving a suspected stolen car near the Bayview neighborhood, officials said. There was no immediate indication that the 27-year-old woman had a weapon or was trying to run down the sergeant before the shooting, police said.
There's a vigil tonight at 8:30 at Shafter Ave and Elmira Street in San Francisco, and if you're nearby and you're reading this, you should be there.
Um, Graham is more than a little off here.
Like, by a country mile.
I believe you are thinking of people arguing over JS frameworks or whether JS sucks or not. Both are identity related.
When it comes down to arguing the specific mechanics of comparing how framework X uses MVC vs how framework Y uses it, you don't see so much conflict because it is expertise, not identity driven.
> For example, the question of the relative merits of programming languages often degenerates into a religious war, because so many programmers identify as X programmers or Y programmers.
It doesn't much matter, though, because the important point holds: arguments about JS became more like religious arguments when people started to identify for and/or against being a JS programmer. The same could become true about baking; there's nothing stopping people from identifying with anything.
I think it has to do more with the potential impact it has on us and others. Not to mention how much broad appeal there is.
People have a lot of opinions on baking. You don't need to be an expert to blog about it (e.g. probably 1/2 the mommy blogs out there). But again, who cares if you add organic cheese to your chili or sour cream? Very few. And most would remove it if not important.
Now vim and emacs users can both mock my child-like ignorance of real text editing.
Also, you Limeys need to learn how to spell.
(There, that should get the conversational juices flowing...)
> (There, that should get the conversational juices flowing...)
Sane people here know when to engage in a conversation, no trolling needed.
And I don't get "religious" about editors except in jest...
(Speaking of, behold another holy war: IDEs versus command-line development...)
(Am I doing it right?)
I frequently have two files open side-by-side.
If I want to copy the current line in the left file to the right file, the keystrokes are:
(/s. All the /s in the world.)
[EDIT: yes, I know both editors very well and have config files for both; does this make me "worse" than someone who has not taken the time to learn how to configure his/her editor?]
No, you're using Atom
And his comment about the problem being a threshold for expertise is equally laughable. People feel perfectly happy to comment on anything catching their fancy, expertise or not. (Add to that Dunning Kruger...)
Again, have you read the spam online about different frontend frameworks?
You can be more passionate and have more logic.