Response to “this is water”

This is water by david foster


I really liked the video and message. I don’t know his background or worldview,  however, I wanted to share a couple of observations: (I might be “overthinking” this)

  • It is wonderful to hear someone calling us out to start thinking critically.
    • We do tend to go through life and sometimes NOT think about the BIG questions and the things that actually matter the most. We either follow a social script or we subconsciously act on what we believe is true without having analyzed our belief’s validity or warrant.
  • In my opinion, some of these big questions are: who am i? why am I here? Is there an over-arching human condition or meta-narrative? Are we good? Are we bad? Both? Is there truth? What is it? etc…
  • Socrates said “the unexamined life is not worth living”. I would tend to agree but say that “the unexamined life is a cheap substitute for a fully examined one and can lead to negative consequences for everyone including yourself”.
  • We do have choice and free will!
    • The interesting thing about this assertion is that it only works in certain worldviews.  Only in a universe that has teleology or purpose would we not be pre-determined machine-like creatures without free will or choice. I am assuming, of course, that a soul cannot emerge from natural unguided processes. If this were true, our will/actions would still be completely dependent upon physical inputs, which would nullify the idea of libertarian free-will. The available worldviews that allow for libertarian free-will are limited.
  • He does tend to undercut his own argument near the end of the speech.
    • I understand where he was trying to go with it but it stood out to me when he said three things:
  • The whole theme is asserting that we DO have free will and choice and we ALL KNOW that there is a (capital “T”) truth that exists regarding the nature of humans. This seems to be a transcendent truth that is the same for ALL of us.   Then he goes and says that this new awareness of our ability to choose does not require us to have DOGMAS, or Religion, (in other words beliefs about reality or philosophies WHICH everyone has)…
  • If he is saying it is true that we can have choice without believing in DOGMA THEN his statement contradicts itself because it is a TRUTH claim that is incontrovertible.  I understand that he might not want people to be thrown off by the apparent “religious” sound of his argument, but why did he have to attack the idea of truth?
  • He then goes on to say something like, “as long as we believe it, it must be true for us and that is all that matters”. This does not sound like a world in which there is a capital “T” truth for everyone.
    • It is wrong to think that something can be true for two people if the truths that each person believes contradict each other.
  • At the very end he say that our choices are NOT KNOWLEDGE but an AWARENESS.  How does he KNOW that?  Knowledge is required for propositional thought and rationality.  He is using language that definitely sounds religious and it sounds like an eastern philosophy but I cannot put my finger on which one.

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