Monday, November 04, 2002

Two Items

One in epistemology, one in philosophy of language.


Do you have a belief that you cherish, a belief that you won't give up, even though the evidence runs against it? Do you spend all your time looking for evidence for your belief because there seems to be none but you don't want your belief to be false? Do you spitefully lash out at others who reject your belief? Do you ever examine the basis of your belief? What do you do when you can find no basis? How do you react? Ignorance and falsehood are dark places. Avoid them at all costs by avoiding dogmatism. Vow to accept only those beliefs that have sufficient evidence. Submit yourself to the possible fate of relinquishing the beliefs that your cherish. False beliefs are worthless.


The meaning of this word depends upon how the speaker means it. There are no meanings written in the fabric of nature. "Lemon" can mean a citrus fruit or a bad car. For the most part, Muslims mean by "jihad" the central duty of a Muslim to kill non-Muslims. There are a few Muslims who mean more benign things by the word: suppressing one's irreligious feelings, for example. The latter group simply cannot plausibly argue that those benign meanings are what "jihad" really means. There is no such thing as what a word really means in some cosmic sense. Or, if they mean that the benign meanings are what most Muslims mean and have meant by the term, then this is just false. When a jihad is called, the Muslim world doesn't start introspecting. They scream bloody murder. So, let us use stipulative definitions. "Islam" is a cult, a dysfunctional religion. One of its central duties is to kill everyone else. It is a social disease. (To call it "Islamicist" in effort to distinguish it from "Islam," as the media does, obfuscates these facts.) Now, let's use "Izlam," to refer to what is often called "moderate Islam" (the latter term, by the stipulation I'm presenting here, being an oxymoron). Izlam rejects the dysfunctional parts of Islam, thus forming Izlam. We should tolerate Izlam, but not Islam. Of course; you can't tolerate people who want to kill you. The problem is that a member of Islam, as a subversive, when confronted on his beliefs, will be likely to claim to be a member of Izlam. If he wants to kill all non-Muslims, he will not tell them this in polite company, since this would impede his cause. So, if anyone says that he is Muslim, I have no way of knowing whether he is a member of Islam or Izlam, until I have observed his behavior for decades. Sleeper cells, you know. Of course, members of Izlam should be tolerated. It's just that you hardly can tell who they are unless you know them well. But at least we can have different words for the two different religions. This will be useful. (Also, "jihad" and "jikad" might come in handy for the two meanings of "jihad".)

By the way, if a Muslim were insulted by this argument, I'd have to assume he was a member of Islam, not Izlam. If he thought I'd smeared the whole religion, then he'd be trying to trick me into assuming that "jihad" has an objectively non-violent meaning, no matter how the term is used. But this is to misunderstand language; usage determines meaning. "But the true Islam has no violent jihad!" is obviously false. So, as I've indicated that Izlam is a perfectly valid religion in principle, if he construed what I've said here as a vicious attack, then I would have to conclude that he was defending Islam. That's the only religion I've attacked. "Islam is a religion of peace" is either deeply confused or a lie. In any event, it's false (oxymoronic, in fact). But Izlam is a religion of peace. Any reasonable member of Izlam, since benevolent, should have no objection to any of this.