Some people prefer to leave the past alone for different reasons. Some prefer to concentrate on problems and issues of the present and those that we shall face in the future; and such people don’t see how the past is relevant to current issues. But some prefer to ignore the past because they prefer to cover up the past insofar as events of the past do not present humans and human society in a good light. But generally those who prefer to ignore past history are those for who do not apply the lessons of history; and history surely has lessons to teach us.
Do people sometimes confuse fiction for fact? Yes. Do they sometimes confuse fantasy or myth for fact? Yes (see ‘religion’)
Do governments lie to their citizens and others? Yes, of course. Does all this lead to undesirable consequences? Yes.
Would a healthy does of skepticism and critical thought help to remedy the situations? Probably.
I know that it is madness to deny that the world which we inhabit and in which we interact is real. I’m not even sure that one can make sense — when we analyze things carefully — of a subject reflecting on reality without assuming that he himself and the world which he inhabits are real. Since their reality is what makes any reflection on those questions possible.
Occasionally someone brings up the challenge to theism brought by the well-known atheist, Richard Dawkins and proceeds to show that it is a weak challenge. Recently, an email correspondent, Spanos the man, brought up Dawkins’ denial of God as an example of a weak atheistic argument. It is an interesting exercise to show that this downgrading of Dawkins does not succeed.
I don’t want global warming to be real! I don’t like the gloomy prospects that some scientists forecast for the future of our planet. I am unhappy that current conditions—more severe heat, fires, droughts, intense storms, floods, etc. — are exceeding predictions from sophisticated computer models. All of this doom and gloom is not what I want to hear. However, I respect science and this issue is important. I am unwilling to bury my head in the sand and ignore reality because it might make me feel better. I am also motivated by concern about the eroding public confidence in science and sad state of scientific literacy in our country.
One can issue explanations (scientific, neurological, psychological, quasi-psychological) of the processes (neural processes, workings of the sensory faculties) which under lie sense perception. These result in analyses or breakdowns (e.g., reducing things to neural processings) of the processes that underlie a person’s perception of the world. It could be called an “examination of the machinery the makes perception possible.”
But nothing about this work refutes the common-sense proposition that we perceive (see, hear, touch, taste, smell) aspects and objects of the real world.
I learned early upon arrival in Vietnam that rice farmers, eking out a bare bones living without modern conveniences, endured a hard life. However, none of this hit home until I entered this modest hooch and took the time to observe and absorb my surroundings; and allow reality to sink in. This humble family and their quaint home made a lasting and deep impression upon me. I felt an overwhelming sense of humility, and recall thinking that in many ways this ‘peasant’ was a better man than me! If I had to trade places with him I would be in way over my head
You say that European philosophers with their dark views of humanity devoid of a transcendent order to keep them in check display more courage than their contemporaries who don’t emphasize that view of things. Maybe, who knows? But a realistic, existentialist view of humanity need not fall into the nervous “fear and trembling” that is displayed by those who need the big “parent in the sky” to guide and reassure them. Many existentialists who were atheistic did not fall into that kind of cowardly despair.
I read with disgust the article in the November Time Magazine about the My Lai incident. What kind of person would fire a magazine of 16 rounds into a little boy? I’ve seen guys, who after seeing their buddies get blown away, feel like shooting at anyone with slanted eyes, but they didn’t because their reason dispelled their emotions. During the day, the farmers we see plowing their fields are innocent civilians. At night, however, some of them are out setting booby traps. But, we cannot hold an entire village, especially children, responsible for those among them who are VC. Many of the civilians that we believe are VC sympathizers may just be scared civilians who pay taxes to and are harassed by the VC who come at night to the villages. Most of these people are loyal only to themselves and their families. They live in fear of destruction by VC and GI.