View Poll Results: What should be done with the Founders' ideas?

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  • We should build upon them, but not completely transform them.

    50 70.42%
  • They need to be fundamentally transformed.

    6 8.45%
  • They're dead. Who cares what they thought?

    7 9.86%
  • Other (please elaborate)

    8 11.27%
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Thread: Our Founding Fathers' Ideas

  1. #11
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    Re: Our Founding Fathers' Ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by molten_dragon View Post
    The legal documents that they wrote (i.e. the constitution, bill of rights, declaration of independence, etc.) provide a framework for our government, but beyond that their opinions/thoughts/etc. are meaningless to the world of today. Once they no longer held official government positions (or at the very least once they were dead), their opinions on how the constitution/etc. should be interpreted ceased to be relevant.
    So if I sign a contract for a loan then the banker who signed dies, I shouldn't have to pay the bank?

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    Re: Our Founding Fathers' Ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by 1984 View Post
    You said, "Their theories are incomplete."

    1. Which theories are you talking about, specifically? Could you cite them?

    2. Why are they incomplete?

    You also bring up our advanced knowledge of neuroscience, as if this renders their incites into basic human nature obsolete. Why would an increased understanding of our neural makeup render their incites into basic human nature obsolete?
    Ok. The good old natural law discussion that I seem to have over and over (and over and over and over and over and over, its getting a bit tiring really, but I will go through it again)

    Natural law as usually stated: Man without the influence of society seeks to own himself (life), his surroundings (property), and exercise his will (liberty, pursuit of happiness). Ok. I will focus on one of the aspects of the problems I have with this theory since the others have not been brought up.

    Will (liberty).

    1. Our will is not completely free. We know this. For example, if this was not true, we would not have disciplines like behavioral psychology. A market expression of this discipline would be advertising. It is pretty easy to influence human behavior to get what you want and it is easy to be influenced. Because of this flaw in our brains, our will becomes less free. Also we have to contend with our animal instincts for things like hunger, need for socialization, etc.

    Because of this problem, we can easily be at the mercy of sophisticated and immoral people. Natural law does not formally recognize this issue and I cannot find where it was even considered back in the 1700s since it seems to be a relatively recent phenomenon (propaganda being around 100 years old).

    2. Discontent. People tend to be happier when they are around others who have similar economic means as them. Poor people are happiest when they are around other poor people. Tribal societies have been shown to be less happy as they find out that there are other societies with far greater amounts of technology and wealth. This discontent can harm the social fabric and create unrest. Now we can argue all day about the morality of this phenomenon, but the fact is that it happens and it will continue to happen. But it was not something that was understood very well in the late 1700s. Natural law does not account for this because of its strong stance towards property.

    Quote Originally Posted by 1984 View Post
    You see, I have a problem with people who assume increased technology automatically translates into increased intelligence or perceptiveness. Humans are pretty simple creatures at the end of the day. We like to marvel at our own so-called knowledge, but we're really just a bunch of intelligent primates; fundamentally, we're no different than the first humans.
    I agree, we have not evolved that much from the first humans but we understand ourselves a lot better.

  3. #13
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    Re: Our Founding Fathers' Ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Man View Post
    So if I sign a contract for a loan then the banker who signed dies, I shouldn't have to pay the bank?
    No, but if there were some ambiguity in the contract, then it would be up to a judge today to rule on it, the opinion of the man who drafted the contract would be irrelevant, just as the opinions of the founding fathers on how the documents they wrote should be interpreted are irrelevant.

    I'm not saying we should ignore the constitution, I'm saying that when it comes to interpreting it, the opinions of people alive today matter and the opinions of people who died 200 years ago don't.
    If you build a man a fire, he'll be warm for a day.

    If you set a man on fire, he'll be warm for the rest of his life.

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    Re: Our Founding Fathers' Ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by molten_dragon View Post
    No, but if there were some ambiguity in the contract, then it would be up to a judge today to rule on it, the opinion of the man who drafted the contract would be irrelevant, just as the opinions of the founding fathers on how the documents they wrote should be interpreted are irrelevant.

    I'm not saying we should ignore the constitution, I'm saying that when it comes to interpreting it, the opinions of people alive today matter and the opinions of people who died 200 years ago don't.
    Actually, if the dead man's opinions were written down, the judge should find much interest in them to decide on some perceived ambiguity.

    What is ambiguous in the Constitution? It is clear and well-written.

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    Re: Our Founding Fathers' Ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by megaprogman View Post
    Ok. The good old natural law discussion that I seem to have over and over (and over and over and over and over and over, its getting a bit tiring really, but I will go through it again)

    Natural law as usually stated: Man without the influence of society seeks to own himself (life), his surroundings (property), and exercise his will (liberty, pursuit of happiness). Ok. I will focus on one of the aspects of the problems I have with this theory since the others have not been brought up.

    Will (liberty).

    1. Our will is not completely free. We know this. For example, if this was not true, we would not have disciplines like behavioral psychology. A market expression of this discipline would be advertising. It is pretty easy to influence human behavior to get what you want and it is easy to be influenced. Because of this flaw in our brains, our will becomes less free. Also we have to contend with our animal instincts for things like hunger, need for socialization, etc.

    Because of this problem, we can easily be at the mercy of sophisticated and immoral people. Natural law does not formally recognize this issue and I cannot find where it was even considered back in the 1700s since it seems to be a relatively recent phenomenon (propaganda being around 100 years old).
    I'm not sure where you're getting this. Of course the Founders understood that people were subject to the influence of others; again, this is just basic human psychology, something they accounted for in their writings. For instance, Thomas Jefferson said:

    Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day.

    As you can plainly see, Thomas Jefferson understood quite well that people are subject to the ill influence of sophisticated and immoral people. This is just one example of literally thousands that I could show you, demonstrating the Founder' ability to perceive exactly what you say they cannot.

    Perhaps you should, I dunno, sit down and read them at length, instead of trying to encapsulate the culmination of hundreds of years of political and ethical philosophy into these convenient soundbites. I'm not trying to be rude, but you don't seem to understand their "theories" very well.

    Also, where in the world did you get the idea that "propaganda" (which is nothing more than the deliberate 'propagation' of information or ideology) is only a 100 years old!? For as long as ideas have existed, humans have sought to propagate them; this is certainly not a recent phenomenon.

    2. Discontent. People tend to be happier when they are around others who have similar economic means as them. Poor people are happiest when they are around other poor people. Tribal societies have been shown to be less happy as they find out that there are other societies with far greater amounts of technology and wealth. This discontent can harm the social fabric and create unrest. Now we can argue all day about the morality of this phenomenon, but the fact is that it happens and it will continue to happen. But it was not something that was understood very well in the late 1700s. Natural law does not account for this because of its strong stance towards property.
    Oh, you're railing against private property now. I can see where this is going...

    I agree, we have not evolved that much from the first humans but we understand ourselves a lot better.
    We understand the mechanisms better, but we certainly don't understand "ourselves" any better than the Founders or even the ancient Chinese did.

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    Re: Our Founding Fathers' Ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by molten_dragon View Post
    No, but if there were some ambiguity in the contract, then it would be up to a judge today to rule on it, the opinion of the man who drafted the contract would be irrelevant, just as the opinions of the founding fathers on how the documents they wrote should be interpreted are irrelevant.

    I'm not saying we should ignore the constitution, I'm saying that when it comes to interpreting it, the opinions of people alive today matter and the opinions of people who died 200 years ago don't.
    This is the most absurd thing I've ever heard.

    You think the people who ACTUALLY WROTE the legal document in question should be disregarded when trying to interpret its meaning? Do you have any idea how absurd that sounds?

    I suppose we should just throw our past into the dustbin, eh? Look towards the glorious future of "progress" and "change", right?

    You liberals, man. You really creep me out sometimes...

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    Re: Our Founding Fathers' Ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by 1984 View Post
    I'm not sure where you're getting this. Of course the Founders understood that people were subject to the influence of others; again, this is just basic human psychology, something they accounted for in their writings. For instance, Thomas Jefferson said:

    Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day.

    As you can plainly see, Thomas Jefferson understood quite well that people are subject to the ill influence of sophisticated and immoral people. This is just one example of literally thousands that I could show you, demonstrating the Founder' ability to perceive exactly what you say they cannot.

    Perhaps you should, I dunno, sit down and read them at length, instead of trying to encapsulate the culmination of hundreds of years of political and ethical philosophy into these convenient soundbites. I'm not trying to be rude, but you don't seem to understand their "theories" very well.

    Also, where in the world did you get the idea that "propaganda" (which is nothing more than the deliberate 'propagation' of information or ideology) is only a 100 years old!? For as long as ideas have existed, humans have sought to propagate them; this is certainly not a recent phenomenon.
    I am sorry, but the mechanisms for propaganda are by far more sophisticated than a mere newspaper from the 1700s.

    Today we have advertisers who are hooking people to MRI machines to study their effectiveness and while industries that are dedicated to deception, not some editor of some broad sheet. It is a huge difference.

    Sure, there was some problem back than. But it is nothing like it is today.

    Quote Originally Posted by 1984 View Post
    Oh, you're railing against private property now. I can see where this is going...
    What do you foresee?

    Quote Originally Posted by 1984 View Post
    We understand the mechanisms better, but we certainly don't understand "ourselves" any better than the Founders or even the ancient Chinese did.
    I disagree. We are our mechanisms. The more we understand how we work, the more can undermine ourselves.

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    Re: Our Founding Fathers' Ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by megaprogman View Post
    I am sorry, but the mechanisms for propaganda are by far more sophisticated than a mere newspaper from the 1700s.
    But that's not what you said. You said "propaganda" was only 100 years old. Obviously, you have no clue what you're talking about, as it has existed for as long as ideas themselves.

    Furthermore, you ignored the fact that your premise was totally wrong. The Founders obviously DID understand that people were subject to the influence of sophisticated and immoral people.

    It's plainly obvious that you haven't read nearly enough of their writings to presume to know whether or not their "theories" are "incomplete".

    Today we have advertisers who are hooking people to MRI machines to study their effectiveness and while industries that are dedicated to deception, not some editor of some broad sheet. It is a huge difference.
    Funny, because advertisements have little to no effect on me; in fact, I absolutely hate most commercials and advertisements. Why don't these amazing techniques have any effect on me?

    Sure, there was some problem back than. But it is nothing like it is today.
    Again, you are resorting to ridiculously over-simplified platitudes to make your case. Comparing the relative effectiveness of "propaganda" from two different time periods is going to require a lot more leg work than two measly sentences.

    What do you foresee?
    A bunch of socialist BS. Talk about outdated...

    I disagree. We are our mechanisms. The more we understand how we work, the more can undermine ourselves.
    Are you honestly trying to say that Buddha or Socrates or Benjamin Franklin didn't understand themselves as well as you do? HA!

  9. #19
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    Re: Our Founding Fathers' Ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by 1984 View Post
    You think the people who ACTUALLY WROTE the legal document in question should be disregarded when trying to interpret its meaning?
    Yes, I do. If they wanted it to be interpreted in a particular way, they should have written the document so that it could be interpreted in ONLY that way.

    Quote Originally Posted by 1984 View Post
    Do you have any idea how absurd that sounds?
    Doesn't sound at all absurd to me. Certainly no more so than the idea that the opinions of men who've been dead for 200 years should count for more in how we run our country than the opinions of people alive today who actually have to live here.

    Quote Originally Posted by 1984 View Post
    I suppose we should just throw our past into the dustbin, eh? Look towards the glorious future of "progress" and "change", right?
    I didn't say that.

    Quote Originally Posted by 1984 View Post
    You liberals, man. You really creep me out sometimes...
    Your views creep me out just as much.
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  10. #20
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    Re: Our Founding Fathers' Ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by 1984 View Post
    But that's not what you said. You said "propaganda" was only 100 years old. Obviously, you have no clue what you're talking about, as it has existed for as long as ideas themselves.

    Furthermore, you ignored the fact that your premise was totally wrong. The Founders obviously DID understand that people were subject to the influence of sophisticated and immoral people.

    It's plainly obvious that you haven't read nearly enough of their writings to presume to know whether or not their "theories" are "incomplete".
    Yes and I stand by that. Propaganda as a political tool is about 100 years old I think. This does not mean some editor of some newspaper didn't tailor articles to their view on things. Those are two completely different animals. Jefferson was addressing one, but not the other.

    One is an applied discipline while the other is just editing or writing with a viewpoint.

    Quote Originally Posted by 1984 View Post
    Funny, because advertisements have little to no effect on me; in fact, I absolutely hate most commercials and advertisements. Why don't these amazing techniques have any effect on me?
    If you believe that than I doubt you understand the nature of advertising. I very much doubt that it has not affected your prejudices one way or another.

    Quote Originally Posted by 1984 View Post
    Again, you are resorting to ridiculously over-simplified platitudes to make your case. Comparing the relative effectiveness of "propaganda" from two different time periods is going to require a lot more leg work than two measly sentences.
    Dude, seriously, I am not going to write a 50 page master's thesis in a forum. I believe this website is best utilized with short writings and I will continue to use it that way. I do not care if you do not think I am giving this subject matter the respect it deserves because I am giving it the respect I think it deserves and I am doing the writing.

    Quote Originally Posted by 1984 View Post
    A bunch of socialist BS. Talk about outdated...
    I am not a socialist. I think the market economy is a very useful thing for society.

    Quote Originally Posted by 1984 View Post
    Are you honestly trying to say that Buddha or Socrates or Benjamin Franklin didn't understand themselves as well as you do? HA!
    No I am not. I am saying that science trumps philosophy.

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