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What constitutes Freethought?
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Ajita Kamal Offline
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Post: #1
What constitutes Freethought?

In todays cultural environment there is obviously a need for a broad strategy to combat all types of irrational thinking. But there are problems with labeling and brand identity when it comes to the movement. Traditionally the movement used the word 'rationalist' to talk about someone who embodied the scientific mindset, but this term has some limitations.

In this debate taking place all over the world, 'Freethinker' has become the preferred term to encompass all philosophies that are critical of untested, failed and untestable claims about reality.

So, here is the question. What exactly constitutes 'Freethought'? And is there a better word that expresses what we want? Ideally, the word must include people who subscribe to labels such as atheist, skeptic, naturalist, rationalist and agnostic. If you don't like the word 'Freethinker', please share why not. If you do, then please share that thought with us Exclamation

"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
(This post was last modified: 05-04-2010 08:12 AM by Ajita Kamal.)
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Lije Offline
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Post: #2
RE: What constitutes Freethought?

I think Freethinker is a better label than atheist. Atheism rejects theism but that doesn't mean that it encourages freethought. Communist dictatorships of the previous century are a good illustration of that point. They were atheistic, but at the same time they suppressed freethought.
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Ajita Kamal Offline
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Post: #3
RE: What constitutes Freethought?

(10-04-2010 01:29 PM)Lije Wrote:  I think Freethinker is a better label than atheist. Atheism rejects theism but that doesn't mean that it encourages freethought. Communist dictatorships of the previous century are a good illustration of that point. They were atheistic, but at the same time they suppressed freethought.

Thanks Lije! I completely agree with your point about the communist dictatorships. That is a great example of how simply rejecting god is insufficient in the general scheme of things. I've been hearing recently about how those former communist countries have seen a resurgence in religious fervor. Scary, but a good lesson!

BTW, I love your response on the sci-fi thread, and will reply to that soon Cool

"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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iconoclastmolotov Offline
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Post: #4
RE: What constitutes Freethought?

(05-04-2010 08:09 AM)Ajita Kamal Wrote:  Traditionally the movement used the word 'rationalist' to talk about someone who embodied the scientific mindset, but this term has some limitations.
I think the obvious drawback with the term 'rationalist' is not a limitation but a preconception. Rationalist does make the world-view sound short-sighted, process-oriented and monolithic. It looks as if we're solving a Mathematical problem, which alone can mean disastrous things.

(05-04-2010 08:09 AM)Ajita Kamal Wrote:  So, here is the question. What exactly constitutes 'Freethought'? And is there a better word that expresses what we want? Ideally, the word must include people who subscribe to labels such as atheist, skeptic, naturalist, rationalist and agnostic. If you don't like the word 'Freethinker', please share why not. If you do, then please share that thought with us Exclamation
Even if there were better words for the labels that deal with theism to varying degrees, I think 'freethinker' gains superiority plainly because of the vast range of topics it can cover, and IMO must cover. Everything from democratization to better non-exploitative economies (including strengthening the local market), human and animal rights and the will to preserve natural history and heritage while maintaining a road towards progress can safely nest themselves into a sort of global ideal.

While religion offers the timber for dissonance in human relations, what really set the sparks are issues of foreign policies, various degrees of exploitation that are aided by all sorts of things such as globalization and political ideals. It's seems almost implausible for a sustainable future to be built on just one strengthened foundation while others are neglected by the global "raised consciousness," and I think the Soviet Union, as Lije pointed out earlier, is the perfect example of this. We all here want certain changes, but reality is, we need alot of changes.

A tangible example would be the Zeitgeist movement, although nothing but a sick joke in the face of reality as a movie, it shows that there are people wanting change and ready to devote themselves to it. If myth-making and whitewashing could be so attractive, why can't reason?
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dsriharsha Offline
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Post: #5
RE: What constitutes Freethought?

(10-04-2010 01:29 PM)Lije Wrote:  I think Freethinker is a better label than atheist. Atheism rejects theism but that doesn't mean that it encourages freethought. Communist dictatorships of the previous century are a good illustration of that point. They were atheistic, but at the same time they suppressed freethought.

some shameless blog promotion here but the last paragraph has something to say on this notion.. http://dsriharsha.blogspot.com/2009/06/a...e-out.html

Btw.. I happened to call "rationalists" pretentious.. please know that I have changed my stance since.. I am now a moderator on a "rationalists" forum now.. so duh

"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

http://dsriharsha.blogspot.com
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Ajita Kamal Offline
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Post: #6
RE: What constitutes Freethought?

(12-04-2010 01:14 AM)dsriharsha Wrote:  Btw.. I happened to call "rationalists" pretentious.. please know that I have changed my stance since.. I am now a moderator on a "rationalists" forum now.. so duh

Rationalist could be pretentious if used solely by itself in lieu of any actual substance. But it depends on your definition of 'Rationalist'. You may have read Manoj's excellent article on the subject.

I have justified my use of the term in the comments section of that post, saying:
Quote:I think there is an immediate strategic need for us to get behind the rationalist movement. Naturalism is too complicated for a general popular uprising to take place in its name. It takes a more philosophical person to appreciate the fact that naturalism is the philosophical underpinning of the scientific method- that it is the basis of the reasoning behind atheism. I intend on promoting naturalism in India in the future, through positive means such as promoting naturalistic activities and presenting opportunities for students to learn about naturalism, but for now the rationalist movement is going strong and I fully support the efforts made to advance it in our culture. After all, one cannot get to the objective truths if one cannot even think rationally, let alone objectively!

"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
(This post was last modified: 12-04-2010 02:10 PM by Ajita Kamal.)
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mvish
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Post: #7
What is Freethought?

Can anyone give me a summary of what a free thought stands for? I am asking this question because, those who claim to have free thought are actually propagating and enforcing their own ideology on another.

If there is such things called free thought, then list down what it stands for!

Thanks.
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Ajita Kamal Offline
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Post: #8
RE: What is Freethought?

(30-07-2010 12:35 PM)mvish Wrote:  Can anyone give me a summary of what a free thought stands for?
Google is your friend: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freethought
Its 'Freethought', not 'Free Thought'.

Quote:I am asking this question because, those who claim to have free thought are actually propagating and enforcing their own ideology on another.

Freethought is the opposite of ideology. It is the belief in evidence-based science and reason.

"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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mvish
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Post: #9
RE: What is Freethought?

Ok you said freethought is opposite of ideology...

Then what is an ideology? The same wikipedia article says that:

“An ideology is a set of ideas that discusses one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things (compare worldview)...“

Will that mean freethought is opposite of "ideas", "worldview" or "way of looking at things"?

Will that not make a person do not possess an idea, worldview or a perspective (way of looking at things)?

Logically it do not make sense as everyone in the world irrespective of what they say, is a perspective. It is just that, the so called "freethinker" or someone claims to hold "freethought" is not admitting or shying from the fact that his or her view is a perspective or idea too.

Then you said "it is the belief in evidence-based science and reason.". Yes as you said it is also a "BELIEF"... that mean instead of believing on one thing you believe on another thing. Thus it is one viewpoint vs. another viewpoint -- there is nothing "free" here as far as thought is concerned!!

Let’s look at one example about the so called believe in "evidence-based science and reason" as of today versus a Hindu view. I am giving one example to illustrate...

Let’s take the subject of "rebirth".

What is the contemporary scientific community adhere to?

They do not believe in rebirth while the Hindu view point is that there are many births.

From a scientific perspective (which is based on physical evidence) there is no such thing called rebirth.

But if you look carefully, it is also true that there is no scientific evidence to proof that there is only “single birth” or “there is no possibility of rebirth”.

Then what made the contemporary scientific community to presume that the humans have only "single-birth" instead of "many-births"?

Well the reason behind is, the Judeo-Christian perspective or beliefs is used as the default paradigm by the western scientific community.

A scientist who was raised from a Judeo-Christian background, "many-births" is something unheard therefore it requires a proof for him or her to believe. Similarly if the scientist is raised from a Hindu background, "single-birth" is also something unproven for him or her to believe in it.

Thus here the argument is not about science itself as an endeavor, but rather about the "worldview" that a scientist forms the opinion from -- whether it is Judeo-Christian or Hindu.

That’s why we have many Sanskrit literature on scientific subjects and they never contradict "many-birth" view while the western based scientific theories evolve around "single-birth" view as it default paradigm.

This is just one example, but there are many such instances. So if we look carefully, many of the argument of the so called freethought is not independent of any idea or ideologies. But rather differing worldviews adapted whether "Judeo-Christian" or Hindu etc. and appropriating it with science. Since today the Judeo-Christian worldview is dominant, many are unaware of the fact that their perspectives are also based on a worldview or ideology. The difference is the person has internalized a particular worldview to his or her viewpoint to an extent that he or she could not see it as just an another ideology versus any other.
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mvish
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Post: #10
RE: What is Freethought?

I have personally not encountered anyone who is truly possessing “freethought”. It is yet to be seen. I find that it is one of the most abused words used by many to further their own ideology or agenda in the guise of “freethought”. These are some instances:

1. Came across an Indian lady who claims to have “freethought” and asked if i am also someone like her. I said no, and do not consider myself to have “freethought”. Later I came to know that this lady is a Christian missionary who tries to convert people. Thus literally do not possess a “freethought”, but uses it as a means to target people who considers to have “freethought” as it will be a easy victim. The catch here is... if you are having “freethought”, you are bound to listen or participate in Christianity propaganda and activities... without opposing it...

2. Many self-styled Marxist, Secularist or atheists have no reservation when it comes to claims to have “freethought”. Such claims are in contradictions as they are furthering their own Marxist, Secular or atheists’ ideology or agenda on the expense of the perceived other ideology.

3. I have also come across people who indulge in anti-social elements but claims to have “freethought”. Since they are not accepted by social norms -- they take an escapist route by taking shelter under the name “freethought”. It does not mean they do not have any ideas or thoughts, but rather using it to justify their anti-social activities.

Well there are many more of such instances.... who takes refuge in “freethought” to serve their own selfish agenda and ideology, rather than truly practicing it.

Having said all these let me also state what my understanding of “freethought” is in its true sense...

A person who is truly practicing “freethought”,

1. Will not claim to have “freethought”
2. Respects another’s viewpoint or ideology and will not attempt to oppose or demean them – even if they do not agree.
3. Will be in a state of indifference to diverse viewpoints or ideologies.
4. Do not attempt to prove his or her views as better than the other.

However, I have yet to see anyone who claims to have “freethought” -- having these attributes!!
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siddharth Offline
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Post: #11
RE: What is Freethought?

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mvish
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Post: #12
RE: What is Freethought?

Thanks for the clip. Let me further illustrate my point based on the points given in the clip...

"Critical Thinking" – Do you think, people in different fields do not have critical thinking other then what the contemporary scientist do?

"Evaluating Information" – it is dependent on data, if the data is wrong, the result will be wrong. In my above example of rebirth, if one works on the premise that there is only single birth, all their analysis will be wrong if the single birth theory is wrong.

Reducing Biases from Culture and Upbringing – I gave the example of Judeo-Christian upbringing that causes the western scientist conclude in single-life worldview.

My question is if “freethought” is based on science, then the next question is -- is it based on a Judeo-Christian upbringing or Hindu upbringing for example?

"Guided by Knowledge and evidence that fit with reality even if it refutes our cherished beliefs" -- Lets do a reality tests, why do you think the contemporary scientist rely on the premise of single-birth theory even though it has no evidence? Why not the possibility of rebirth? Don’t you think they have a hard time to refute their cherished Judeo-Christian beliefs? Or are we not supposed to question scientist? – oops then it contradicts “freethought” right?

The reason I am giving this example is, today what we see is, the scientific perspective based on Judeo-Christian upbringing is taken for granted and any other perspective is opposed in the name of science or “freethought” which is purely nonsense and a sign of ignorance.

Another point of highlight is, science as it is known today has its many limitations. It works on invariable theories which do not have evidences. Thus a small shift in the base theory can break the whole foundation.... that even includes the possibility of shift from single-birth to many-birth viewpoint. Same goes to the evolution theory and the linier time model.

In contemporary science, human = body+mind, and they work on these premise, however the Hindu model is, human = athma(conciousness)+mind+body -- while the mind and body is perishable the athma do not. The scientific view (based on Judeo-Christian model) if flawed many of the existing scientific theories will collapse. This includes the evolution theory.

Thus talking about Analysis again, if the data is wrong (even if it is based on the current scientific theories) the conclusion is wrong.

So if you are talking about “freethought”, it is based on what data? Even scientific theories / data as it is known now are not perfect!!
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