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  #1  
Old 09-03-2006, 05:36 AM
coberst coberst is offline
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Intellectual Acuity

Intellectual Acuity

I think that reality is multilayered like an onion. We live our life on the surface rarely penetrating the surface of reality. To seek a comprehension beyond the surface requires some kind of intellectual acuity.

Most people are familiar with the arts as a form of intellectual acuity but far fewer have any recognition of self-learning through books as a means of developing an intellectual acuity that can penetrate the surface reality.

What do you think of this opinion?
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  #2  
Old 09-03-2006, 05:45 AM
FrantzJ FrantzJ is offline
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I'm going to poke you with a few questions, not because I disagree, but because I think that what you said is kind of vague, and I need more ideas.

What kind of books are we talking about?

And what is this reality that we are talking about?
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  #3  
Old 09-03-2006, 06:11 AM
ParentalAdvisory ParentalAdvisory is offline
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The "arts and books" you speak of is only a fraction of reality. There is so much more going on in the real world. If you limit it to only arts and books, you're missing out on other kinds of intellects. In which there are many.
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  #4  
Old 09-03-2006, 07:50 AM
coberst coberst is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrantzJ
I'm going to poke you with a few questions, not because I disagree, but because I think that what you said is kind of vague, and I need more ideas.

What kind of books are we talking about?

And what is this reality that we are talking about?

The books depend upon the interests of the individual. I prefer non fiction but others may well prefer quality literature and poetry. It is important that the individual is motivated by a search for understanding that which s/he desires to comprehends.

I might use movie as my analogy. I think that our day-to-day lives are like watching a movie. We can go a step beyond that reality by examining backstage to see how a movie is made. Then we can seek understanding of a deeper level by searching out how the director and producer put together a movie with the writers. Then we might find a deeper reality by examining the reality of the movie studios or the independent makers of movies.

In the world of physics we might study Newton and his laws. Or we might go further and try to comprehend Relativity. Then we might go further and seek to understand QM.

We might study one million other things in our quest for understanding our world beyond its appearance.
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Old 09-03-2006, 07:55 AM
coberst coberst is offline
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Originally Posted by ParentalAdvisory
The "arts and books" you speak of is only a fraction of reality. There is so much more going on in the real world. If you limit it to only arts and books, you're missing out on other kinds of intellects. In which there are many.
I agree completely. Just recently I examined the book "Frames of Mind" by Gardner. Gardner speaks of multiple intelligences; Linguistic, Musical, Logical-Mathematical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Spatial, and Personal.
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  #6  
Old 09-03-2006, 07:56 AM
Idlewild Idlewild is offline
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One can use books to learn and increase one's understanding of the world? You don't say!
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  #7  
Old 09-03-2006, 01:25 PM
Smeghead Smeghead is offline
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Originally Posted by Idlewild
One can use books to learn and increase one's understanding of the world? You don't say!
Not only that, but he's taking the bold and radical stance that learning and increasing one's understanding is a...get this...GOOD thing!! I'm quite frightened by such forward-looking thinking, and I think I'll go watch American Idol until any urge toward self-improvement has gone away.
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  #8  
Old 09-03-2006, 01:57 PM
zelie zelerton zelie zelerton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Idlewild
One can use books to learn and increase one's understanding of the world? You don't say!
That was my initial thoughts also but I have the feeling he is veering towards something more complex but perhaps not being able to state it quite yet.

For my take, I read a lot of fiction on varied subjects. And from this I have learned things which in later years I have come to need. Others have studied a subject or read non-fiction on a subject but their knowledge wasn't particularly greater than mine on the subject.* So if the OP is saying 'Can we learn when we are not actively trying to do so' then i'd have to say yes.



*I'm not talking things like quantum physics here!
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  #9  
Old 09-03-2006, 02:00 PM
Marienee Marienee is offline
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I think that reality is not like an onion at all. I think it takes on the appearance of having layers of varying levels of importance and subtlety by virtue of how we perceive it -- and of course by how we have to talk about it.

The thing that is like an onion (or to be more precise, the thing that it is useful to talk about as though it were like an onion) is between your ears. And only the intellect thinks that intellectual acuity is of paramount importance.

Self learning through books seems to me as good a place as any to start, especially for a person given to approaching life primarily through the intellect.
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  #10  
Old 09-03-2006, 02:21 PM
chappachula chappachula is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coberst
I use movie as my analogy. I think that our day-to-day lives are like watching a movie. We can go a step beyond that reality ...
well, there was this philosopher guy who once said somethin' similar back in Ancient Greece, ya see--some guy named Plato. But he didn't know too much 'bout 35-mm movies, so he talked about a cave with shadows and stuff.....

http://faculty.washington.edu/smcohen/320/cave.htm

(and now for a serious comment: )
I loved taking philosophy 101 when I started university. It really did improve my intellectual actuity.
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  #11  
Old 09-03-2006, 03:56 PM
coberst coberst is offline
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Zelie


In general I read history, science, and light philosophy (I generally do not try to read original stuff but read from a secondary source).

For example I have been trying to understand the meaning of 'understand' for a long time and I think I now have an answer. I will stop the effort but I constantly am prepared to take it up again should something reignite my doubt as to my answer or that I find something that will add to my understanding.

I have been working at understanding "Philosophy in the Flesh" for months and I now feel that I understand the fundamentals of the theory but I will continue to work on 'rounding out' my understanding. I think that this theory defined in this book will become the first paradigm for cognitive science. It is a revolutionary theory that I recommend at every opportunity.

I also have read a bit of Dewey. I like Dewey especially his “Habits and Will” which focuses on the importance of habit in our character development and in our development of an intellectual life. I got started in the matter of understanding while studying empathy. Empathy is a process of imagination constructing something that will help a person to understand another person.

For example one might try to construct in imagination something about the life of a terrorist so as to understand why that person could do such a thing. The caring is associated with the desire to understand because in understanding ones enemy can best combat that enemy.

The terrorist need not be the object of caring. The caring is associated with combating the terrorist. I care enough about fighting terrorism that I will make the effort of empathy.
I do not mean caring to be necessarily or even occasionally associated with caring for the well being of some one. I use the word care to mean that I care about understanding this domain of knowledge.

I am a great fan of CT (Critical Thinking) and the effort to introduce this subject into our schools and colleges. CT is the fundamental requirement for self-actuated learning, I think.
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  #12  
Old 09-03-2006, 03:58 PM
coberst coberst is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marienee
I think that reality is not like an onion at all. I think it takes on the appearance of having layers of varying levels of importance and subtlety by virtue of how we perceive it -- and of course by how we have to talk about it.

The thing that is like an onion (or to be more precise, the thing that it is useful to talk about as though it were like an onion) is between your ears. And only the intellect thinks that intellectual acuity is of paramount importance.

Self learning through books seems to me as good a place as any to start, especially for a person given to approaching life primarily through the intellect.
Just recently I examined the book "Frames of Mind" by Gardner. Gardner speaks of multiple intelligences; Linguistic, Musical, Logical-Mathematical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Spatial, and Personal.
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  #13  
Old 09-03-2006, 04:01 PM
coberst coberst is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chappachula

(and now for a serious comment: )
I loved taking philosophy 101 when I started university. It really did improve my intellectual actuity.
I graduated as an engineer and after about 10 years I decided I wanted to teach and deided to get a graduate degree in philosophy. This study of philosophy was a major happening for me. Although I did not get my PhD and went back to engineering my life was effected signifiantly as a result of that study.
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  #14  
Old 09-03-2006, 04:16 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coberst
signifiantly
Signifiantly. You mean both significantly and defiantly? If so, that would explain a lot.
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  #15  
Old 09-03-2006, 04:52 PM
Key Lime Guy Key Lime Guy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coberst
I might use movie as my analogy. I think that our day-to-day lives are like watching a movie. We can go a step beyond that reality by examining backstage to see how a movie is made....
Yes but by the same token, seeing "The Making of..." usually ruins one's ability to suspend disbelief and enjoy the film. I expect this problem extends to life in general as your metaphor suggests. I often think I'd be happier if I were dumber.
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  #16  
Old 09-03-2006, 07:40 PM
PastAllReason PastAllReason is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chappachula
well, there was this philosopher guy who once said somethin' similar back in Ancient Greece, ya see--some guy named Plato. But he didn't know too much 'bout 35-mm movies, so he talked about a cave with shadows and stuff.....

http://faculty.washington.edu/smcohen/320/cave.htm

(and now for a serious comment: )
I loved taking philosophy 101 when I started university. It really did improve my intellectual actuity.
Well, damn me for not showing up sooner today. You said what I was going to!
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  #17  
Old 09-03-2006, 11:24 PM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coberst
Intellectual Acuity

I think that reality is multilayered like an onion. We live our life on the surface rarely penetrating the surface of reality. To seek a comprehension beyond the surface requires some kind of intellectual acuity.
Since you were an engineer, you know that things can be viewed on various levels - system, sets of components, sets of subcomponents, etc. Reality is the same way. At the highest level we're just specks on a planet, at the lowest level we're composed of atoms and quarks and, perhaps, strings.

Each level can be viewed in different ways also. A ruler can be seen as a straightedge, or as something to measure with, or something to whack someone with.

Do you have any particular levels you're looking at? No one has the capacity to hold them all in our heads at one time.
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  #18  
Old 09-04-2006, 03:51 AM
coberst coberst is offline
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Originally Posted by Key Lime Guy
Yes but by the same token, seeing "The Making of..." usually ruins one's ability to suspend disbelief and enjoy the film. I expect this problem extends to life in general as your metaphor suggests. I often think I'd be happier if I were dumber.
Intellectual acuity is for the purpose of suspending belief in the cape being held by the Matador. The bull needs to believe less in the wiggling cape. Do not believe 'ignorance is bliss', that is the motto of the bull just before the knife.
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  #19  
Old 09-04-2006, 04:06 AM
coberst coberst is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Voyager
Since you were an engineer, you know that things can be viewed on various levels - system, sets of components, sets of subcomponents, etc. Reality is the same way. At the highest level we're just specks on a planet, at the lowest level we're composed of atoms and quarks and, perhaps, strings.

Each level can be viewed in different ways also. A ruler can be seen as a straightedge, or as something to measure with, or something to whack someone with.

Do you have any particular levels you're looking at? No one has the capacity to hold them all in our heads at one time.
What interests me most, at this time, is our bifurcated world that is created by our great ability to reason in matters of technology but our inability to reason well in matters of living together without destroying our self. We rate an A+ for instrumental rationality and an F for communicative action rationality. And it is the gap between these two forms of rationality that is going to be the death of us if we do not find some answers.

But I think that if enough people pursued the learning that interests them we could began to really use our great brain to find a solution. We need more people who can synthesize. Wisdom is in the ability to synthesize.
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  #20  
Old 09-04-2006, 09:42 AM
glee glee is offline
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We can clearly see that there is no bi-univocal correspondence between linear signifying links or archi-writing, depending on the author, and this multireferential, multidimensional machinic catalysis. The symmetry of scale, the transversality, the pathic non-discursive character of their expansion: all these dimensions remove us from the logic of the excluded middle and reinforce us in our dismissal of the ontological binarism we criticised previously. A machinic assemblage, through its diverse components, extracts its consistency by crossing ontological thresholds, non-linear thresholds of irreversibility, ontological and phylogenetic thresholds, creative thresholds of heterogenesis and autopoiesis. The notion of scale needs to be expanded to consider fractal symmetries in ontological terms.

I think that settles it.
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  #21  
Old 09-04-2006, 10:05 AM
twickster twickster is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glee
I think that settles it.
And not a moment too soon.
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  #22  
Old 09-04-2006, 10:06 AM
Tapioca Dextrin Tapioca Dextrin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glee
I think that settles it.
I disagree. There are many natural scientists, and especially physicists, who continue to reject the notion that the disciplines concerned with social and cultural criticism can have anything to contribute, except perhaps peripherally, to their research. Still less are they receptive to the idea that the very foundations of their worldview must be revised or rebuilt in the light of such criticism. Rather, they cling to the dogma imposed by the long post-Enlightenment hegemony over the Western intellectual outlook, which can be summarized briefly as follows: that there exists an external world, whose properties are independent of any individual human being and indeed of humanity as a whole; that these properties are encoded in ``eternal'' physical laws; and that human beings can obtain reliable, albeit imperfect and tentative, knowledge of these laws by hewing to the ``objective'' procedures and epistemological strictures prescribed by the (so-called) scientific method.
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  #23  
Old 09-04-2006, 12:21 PM
coberst coberst is offline
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I recently had occasion to hang out in the waiting area of St Joseph Hospital in Asheville for a few hours. I was free to walk many of the corridors and rest in many of the waiting areas along with everyone else. It was early morning but it was obvious that the hospital functioned fully 24/7.

A person can walk the corridors of any big city hospital and observe the effectiveness of human rationality in action. One can also visit the UN building in NYC or read the morning papers and observe just how ineffective, frustrating and disappointing human rationality can be. Why does human reason perform so well in some matters and so poorly in others?

We live in two very different worlds; a world of technical and technological order and clarity, and a world of personal and social disorder and confusion. We are increasingly able to solve problems in one domain and increasingly endangered by our inability to solve problems in the other.

Normal science is successful primarily because it is a domain of knowledge controlled by paradigms. The paradigm defines the standards, principles and methods of the discipline. It is not apparent to the laity but science moves forward in small incremental steps. Science seldom seeks and almost never produces major novelties.

Science solves puzzles. The logic of the paradigm insulates the professional group from problems that are unsolvable by that paradigm. One reason that science progresses so rapidly and with such assurance is because the logic of that paradigm allows the practitioners to work on problems that only their lack of ingenuity will keep them from solving.

Science uses instrumental rationality to solve puzzles. Instrumental rationality is a systematic process for reflecting upon the best action to take to reach an established end. The obvious question becomes ‘what mode of rationality is available for determining ends?’ Instrumental rationality appears to be of little use in determining such matters as “good” and “right”.

There is a striking difference between the logic of technical problems and that of dialectical problems. The principles, methods and standards for dealing with technical problems and problems of “real life” are as different as night and day. Real life problems cannot be solved using deductive and inductive reasoning.

Dialectical reasoning requires the ability to slip quickly between contradictory lines of reasoning. One needs skill to develop a synthesis of one point of view with another. Where technical matters are generally confined to only one well understood frame of reference real life problems become multi-dimensional totalities.

When we think dialectically we are guided by principles not by procedures. Real life problems span multiple categories and academic disciplines. We need point-counter-point argumentation, we need emancipatory reasoning to resolve dialectical problems. We need critical thinking skills and attitudes to resolve real life problems.

How to build the atomic bomb is a technical problem. Whether to build the bomb or what to do with it after it is built is a real life problem.

The critically self-conscious learner is a person who has developed a passion for rational solutions to problematic ends. Instrumental rationality is designed to solve problems of means when the end is clear. Normal science, the science of means, is guided and controlled by paradigms. Paradigms are single dimensional structures that insure that means solutions do not stray from the straight and narrow.

Such systems are designed for puzzle solutions that are perfectly acceptable for single dimensional problems. The problematic situation that presents itself is just how to approach the determination of ends when such matters are mostly multi-dimensional without paradigms and generally demanding the agreement of two or more reflective agents. There are no paradigms for multi-dimensional problems.

Instrumental rationality is not a method suitable for developing ends. Dialectical rationality is the only mode of reasoning suitable for arriving at satisfactory ends.

In a criminal jury trial each juror ideally begins hearing the case as a mental blank slate. The witnesses engage in a controlled and guided dialogue wherein each witness communicates to the jury their particular truth regarding the matter under consideration. Each juror modifies his or her blank slate as the witness’s parade through; each providing his or her view of the truth. A dialogue takes place for the benefit of the juror who is not a member of the dialogue.

Each juror is required to reason dialectically. Dialectical reasoning is a process wherein the opinion of the juror is molded and remolded based upon the truths presented. The blank slate becomes slate A after witness A and then becomes slate A-B after witness B and then becomes slate A-B-C, etc.

At the end of the trial the jurors assemble in isolation to determine a verdict. Generally the members are polled to determine if all agree upon the truth of the case. If one or more jurors dissent from the others a new dialogue must take place. The jurors begin a dialogue in an attempt to reach a unanimous decision.

In this stage each juror is engaged in communication in dialogue while simultaneously each juror is engaged in a rational dialectic.

A jury trial might be a useful example of a problem engaged by many reflective agents with a multiplicity
of frames of reference. In such a situation the jury must utilize communicative techniques to enter into a dialogue wherein there is a constant dialectic until a unanimous solution is reached or deadlock prevails.

Communicating by dialogue together with reasoning dialectically is a technique for attempting to solve multi-dimensional problems. Problems that are either not pattern like or that the pattern is too complex to ascertain.

Most problems that we face in our daily life are multi-dimensional in nature. Simple problems that occur daily in family life are examples. Each member of the family has a different point of view with differing needs and desires. Most of the problems we constantly face are not readily solved by mathematics because they are not pattern specific and are multi-dimensional.

Dialogue is a technique for mutual consideration of such problems wherein solutions grow in a dialectical manner. Through dialogue each individual brings his/her point of view to the fore by proposing solutions constructed around their specific view. All participants in the dialogue come at the solution from the logic of their views. The solution builds dialectically; from a thesis and a contrasting thesis, a synthesis is constructed that takes into consideration both proposals. From this synthesis, a new thesis has developed.

When we are dealing with single dimensional problems well circumscribed by paradigms the personal biases of the subject are of small concern. In multi-dimensional problems, without the advantage of paradigms, the biases of the problem solvers become a serious source of error. One important task of dialogue is to illuminate these prejudices. These biases may be quite subtle and often out of the consciousness of the participant holding them.

Dialogic, the combination of dialogue and dialectic, is the only form of rationalization available for multilogical problems. Induction and deduction are aspects of the act of dialogic but are not sufficient alone for this needed communication form of rationalization.

Our schools have decided that our children should learn to be critical thinkers. I agree with their judgement. This disciplined form of thought is important to each child and is vitally important to our society. I have attempted to relay to you my sense of the importance of critical thinking in the hope that you may share that judgement and lend your support to the school system in this vital matter.
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  #24  
Old 09-04-2006, 12:36 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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coberst, you originally posted the above post (#23) at another website in December 2005. Here: http://www.shadowsinthecave.com/foru...3f712006eb2279

Your habit of quoting your old writings is very off-putting. The least you can do (for the sake of intellectual honesty) is let us know that you just cut and pasted the thing from elsewhere, and that it's not composed just now by you in response to other replies in this thread.
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  #25  
Old 09-04-2006, 12:41 PM
Tapioca Dextrin Tapioca Dextrin is offline
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To be totally accurate, he originally put it online here. We're only good enough for the third repost. It's a movie about a three legged onion or something.
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  #26  
Old 09-04-2006, 01:15 PM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is offline
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I think that self-help books are a scam to give people practice in obfuscating issues enough to allow them to get away with doing whatever it was they were trying to help with in the first place. That's what I think, Coberst.
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  #27  
Old 09-04-2006, 01:53 PM
twickster twickster is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan
The least you can do (for the sake of intellectual honesty) is let us know that you just cut and pasted the thing from elsewhere, and that it's not composed just now by you in response to other replies in this thread.
Actually, I don't think he's making any particular effort to pretend he's responding to us as individuals.
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  #28  
Old 09-04-2006, 02:10 PM
coberst coberst is offline
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It seems to me that there are three basic subjects for discourse, people, things, and ideas. Try focusing the intellect upon ideas and you might discover how invigorating that can be.
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  #29  
Old 09-04-2006, 02:22 PM
chappachula chappachula is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coberst
It seems to me that there are three basic subjects for discourse, people, things, and ideas. Try focusing the intellect upon ideas and you might discover how invigorating that can be.
What, only three basic subjects? Um... aren't you forgetting about the fourth one: SEX. It has a lot in common with what the OP is looking for: "invigorating" discourse.

Because, you see,coberst--- just like sex, discourse is better when you're not just wanking.

Now, if you have something serious to say, something that actually leads to an invigorating conclusion.... we'd love to hear it.
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  #30  
Old 09-04-2006, 02:33 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twickster
Actually, I don't think he's making any particular effort to pretend he's responding to us as individuals.
I think you're right.
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  #31  
Old 09-04-2006, 05:02 PM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coberst
Try focusing the intellect upon ideas and you might discover how invigorating that can be.
Invigorating or not, the world doesn't go well when you ignore it to swim in your own mind, hiding.

Perhaps you really have just smoked too much weed, but if you're trying for a call for help your current course isn't the way to get people to realise that. You can read all the self-help books you want, but in the end you're going to have to be the one to change. You're not going to be able to convert the rest of the world into being nice happy people who will stop scaring you.
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