News Bits

by Luke Muehlhauser on February 5, 2010 in News

I have spoken. Best films of the decade.

My Atheism Search Engine now searches 518 sites written by atheists.

I updated my History of Common Sense Atheism.

I keep adding to my list of Living Philosophers of Religion. The list now has over 200 names, with links to their most important works.

Battleground God, from The Philosopher’s Magazine, is a fun game for wannabe philosophers. The point of the game is to design a God that is logically consistent. You may find it surprisingly hard to succeed! Click here to play.

Also see the other philosophy games by TPM.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Justfinethanks February 5, 2010 at 9:47 pm

I have spoken. Best films of the decade.

Fantastic list. My number one is definitely Eternal Sunshine. I can’t think of another movie that more accurately portrays romantic relationships as most people experience them: a miserable gauntlet self doubt, bickering, and queasy instability, that nonetheless is a conduit for some of the most fulfilling experiences a human can have. It pulls off something really amazing in that it makes love look simultaneously completely horrible and completely worth it.

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Steven February 6, 2010 at 2:19 am

The list is lacking, I think. No Herzog? No “Inland Empire”? No *anything* European?

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Haukur February 6, 2010 at 3:04 am

You are a man of contradictions, Luke! You combine a sophisticated taste in film with an incredibly garish taste in women :)

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lukeprog February 6, 2010 at 3:33 am

Steven,

It’s only a top 10. :)

Of course Dogville is European, as are my choices for #11 and #12. The really bad part is I’ve got no Asian.

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Charles February 6, 2010 at 4:36 am

I really enjoyed Staying Alive and Morality Play. However, Taboo has one flaw. (It considers eating a cat and raping a chicken private actions. These are hardly private for the chicken and the cat!)

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Haukur February 6, 2010 at 5:01 am

I did the Battleground God thing and it told me, “You took zero direct hits and you bit 1 bullets”. The bullet came from answering this question (and a special case of it involving a serial killer):

It is justifiable to base one’s beliefs about the external world on a firm, inner conviction, regardless of the external evidence, or lack of it, for the truth or falsity of these convictions.

I answered ‘true’ but only because there were only two options. What I would really liked to have answered was “The question doesn’t make any sense to me”. The question assumes that there is some clear difference between “an inner conviction” and “a belief” but I don’t know what the difference is supposed to be.

There seems to be an assumption that I can have two sorts of input – “an inner conviction” on one hand and “external evidence” on the other. But I’m not a homunculus, I’m just me. And all of me abides in the same world affected by the same laws. How would a distinction between ‘inner’ and ‘external’ parts work?

Battleground God seems to assume a homunculus who can think things like: “Hmm, the input coming from Haukur’s brain indicates ‘p’ while the input coming from Haukur’s senses indicates ‘not-p’. I’d better go with the senses.” But that’s a preposterous model of how the mind works.

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Lorkas February 6, 2010 at 8:48 am

Charles: However, Taboo has one flaw. (It considers eating a cat and raping a chicken private actions. These are hardly private for the chicken and the cat!)  

They’re hardly in a position to care, since they’re both dead before the action takes place.

Haukur: Battleground God seems to assume a homunculus who can think things like: “Hmm, the input coming from Haukur’s brain indicates ‘p’ while the input coming from Haukur’s senses indicates ‘not-p’. I’d better go with the senses.”

I didn’t think so. Saying “I believe A because I have a strong, inner conviction that A is true” is like saying “I believe A because I believe A to be true”. You don’t have to assume a homunculus in order to see that that’s circular reasoning, and is therefore not a logically justified belief.

The question is asking whether or not it’s justified to hold beliefs just because you feel like they’re true, even though there is no empirical evidence that it’s true, or empirical evidence against its truth. I think the reason for the bullet in this case is that the person who answers yes no longer has any basis for telling anyone that they are wrong about anything. A Christian can no longer believe that a neopagan or Muslim is unjustified in his or her faith if the Christian believes that a strong inner conviction is enough to justify a belief.

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Lee A. P. February 6, 2010 at 8:58 am

Good call on Primer. Most complex movies spur me to “figure it out” upon multiple viewings. Watching that movie a couple of times, there is just no way. I knew I was watching something exceedingly complex and brilliant and I also knew I shouldn’t even bother figuring in out.

But…shame on you for no “No Country for Old Men”. Shame shame SHAME!

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lukeprog February 6, 2010 at 8:59 am

Charles,

Lol!

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Haukur February 6, 2010 at 9:48 am

Lorkas: I didn’t think so. Saying “I believe A because I have a strong, inner conviction that A is true” is like saying “I believe A because I believe A to be true”.

Exactly my point. (Well, one of my points, anyway.) The statement I quoted, and which you have reworded, just seemed like a tautology to me. And tautologies are true, which is why I answered the question with ‘true’ rather than ‘false’.

Gosh, what a bullet to bite. If Jack the Ripper was justified in killing people then he was justified in killing people. Oh noes, accepting that “A implies A” forces me to repugnant conclusions about serial killers!!

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Charles February 6, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Lorkas:
They’re hardly in a position to care, since they’re both dead before the action takes place.

I missed the part where it said the cat was hit by the car! I guess I answered incorrectly on that one. However, my point on the chicken still stands. When you buy frozen chicken in the store, you lend monetary support to an institution that makes its living killing chickens.

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Steven February 7, 2010 at 12:54 am

Dogville is “European” only by virtue of Lars Von Trier’s (for whatever reason) deciding never to make any films in America, though he uses American actors.

European films would be stuff from Godard, Herzog, and others. Fassbinder. Fellini. Bergman.

And I don’t blame you for not including Asian films. None of them that I’ve seen stick with me (except for ‘Sword of Doom’, which, if you haven’t seen it, I recommend).

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Tshepang Lekhonkhobe February 18, 2010 at 6:40 am

How come you are acting like you didn’t see Children of Men, Triplets of Belleville, City of God, or even Amores Perros :-)

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lukeprog February 18, 2010 at 7:16 am

Those are all good movies, and in fact Amores Perros just barely missed the list.

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Tshepang Lekhonkhobe February 18, 2010 at 11:57 pm

lukeprog: Those are all good movies, and in fact Amores Perros just barely missed the list.  

You inspire me to consider writing my own list of the decade. I’ll give ya a nod should such an opportunity arise… But for now ya can view my all-time list, which is in desperate need of updating.

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