Gottfried Leibniz, Writer, Philosopher

Leibniz was the last major figure of seventeenth-century rationalism who contributed heavily to other fields such as metaphysics, epistemology, logic, mathematics, physics, jurisprudence, and the philosophy of religion; he is also considered to be one of the last “universal geniuses”. He did not develop his system, however, independently of these advances. Leibniz rejected Cartesian dualism and denied the existence of a material world. In Leibniz’s view there are infinitely many simple substances, which he called “monads” (which he derived directly from Proclus).

Is the Universe a Simulation?

2016 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: Is the Universe a Simulation?
American Museum of Natural History

What may have started as a science fiction speculation—that perhaps the universe as we know it is a computer simulation—has become a serious line of theoretical and experimental investigation among physicists, astrophysicists, and philosophers.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium, hosts and moderates a panel of experts in a lively discussion about the merits and shortcomings of this provocative and revolutionary idea. The 17th annual Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate took place at The American Museum of Natural History on April 5, 2016.

2016 Asimov Panelists:

David Chalmers
Professor of philosophy, New York University

Zohreh Davoudi
Theoretical physicist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

James Gates
Theoretical physicist, University of Maryland

Lisa Randall
Theoretical physicist, Harvard University

Max Tegmark
Cosmologist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The late Dr. Isaac Asimov, one of the most prolific and influential authors of our time, was a dear friend and supporter of the American Museum of Natural History. In his memory, the Hayden Planetarium is honored to host the annual Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate — generously endowed by relatives, friends, and admirers of Isaac Asimov and his work — bringing the finest minds in the world to the Museum each year to debate pressing questions on the frontier of scientific discovery. Proceeds from ticket sales of the Isaac Asimov Memorial Debates benefit the scientific and educational programs of the Hayden Planetarium.

Christopher Hitchens destroys religion

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If anyone thinks that there’s a question

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having once heard me thinks is a
question I answered poorly or adequately

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or badly or failed to answer at all i
would like to challenge me

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I’d happily give them five minutes but
I’ve i have so say shot my build

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otherwise it is there anyone who would
like to charge me

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yes Peter

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if you spend your whole life trying to
convince people that there is why don’t

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you just stay all was the repeat that
was the country and the question is if

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there if there is no God why spend
you’re watching career are trying to

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refute that when I just leave it alone
and stay home

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fair enough well it’s it’s not my it
isn’t my whole career for one thing it’s

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become a major preoccupation of my life
though in the last eight or nine years

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especially since September 11 2001 to
try and help generate an opposition to

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theocracy and it’s depredations
internationally that that that is now

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probably my main political reputation to
help people in afghanistan in somalia in

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Iraq and Lebanon Israel to resist those
who sincerely want to encompass the

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destruction of civilization and
sincerely believe they have got on this

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side in wanting to do so the thing maybe
i will take the few minutes just to say

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something that I find repulsive about
especially monotheistic messianic

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religion in it with a large part of
itself it quite clearly do wants us all

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to die

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it wants this world come to an end you
can tell the yearning for things to be

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over whenever you read any of its real
text or listen to any of its real

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authentic spokesman not the sort of the
pathetic apologies to sometimes

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masquerade for those who talk

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there was a famous spokesman for this in
in Virginia until recently about the

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rapture say that do those of us who’ve
chosen rightly will be gathered to the

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arms of Jesus

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leaving all the rest of you behind if
we’re in a car

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it’s your lookout that car won’t have a
driver anymore if we’re if we’re pilot

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that’s your lookout that plane will
crash

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we will be with Jesus and the rest of
you can go straight to hell

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the the eschatological element that is
inseparable from Christianity if you

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don’t believe that there is to be an
apocalypse there is going to be an end

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as a separation of the sheep and the
goats a condemnation final one

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then you’re not really a believer and
the contempt for the things of this

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world shows through all of them it’s
well put in an old rhyme from a an

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English exclusive brethren sector says
that we are the pure and chosen few

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and all the rest of jammed there’s room
enough in health for you

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we don’t want heaven crammed you can
tell it when you see the extreme Muslims

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talk

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they cannot wait they cannot wait for
death and destruction to overtake can

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overwhelm the world they can’t wait for
for of what i would call without

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ambiguity a final solution when you look
at the israeli settlers paid for often

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by American tax dollars decide if they
can steal enough land from other people

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and get all the Jews into the Promised
Land and all the non Jews out of it then

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finally the Jewish people we will be
worthy of the return of the Messiah and

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there are Christians in this country you
consider it their job to help this

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happen so that Armageddon can occur so
the painful business of living as humans

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and studying civilization and trying to
acquire learning and knowledge and

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health and medicine and to push mother
can all be scrapped and and the the cult

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of death can take over that to me is a
hideous thing in an eschatological terms

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in end times

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terms on its own hateful idea hateful
price

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doctors and hateful theory but very much
to be opposed in our daily lives where

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there are people who sincerely mean it

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who want who want to ruin the good
relations that could exist between

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different peoples nations and races
countries tribes ethnicities

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whoo-hoo say openly say they love death
more than we love life and who are

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betting with God on their side

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they’re right about that so when I say
in is the subject of my book that I

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think religion poisons everything I’m
not just doing what publishers like and

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coming up with the provocative subtitle

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I mean to say it effects us in the in
our most basic integrity it says we

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can’t be moral without Big Brother
without a totalitarian permission means

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we can’t be good to one another as we
can’t do with without this we we must be

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afraid we must also be forced to love
someone who we fear the essence of

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sadomasochism at the essence of
abjection the essence of the

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master-slave ranger and that knows that
death is coming and can’t wait to bring

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it on

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I say this is evil and though i do some
nights stay home

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I enjoy more the nights when I go out
and fight against this ultimate

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wickedness and ultimate stability

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thank you

Define: Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism is the doctrine that actions are right if they are useful or for the benefit of a majority or if an action is right if it promotes happiness. The greatest happiness of the greatest number of people should be the guiding principle of conduct.


Utilitarianism is an ethical theory that states that the best action is the one that maximizes utility. “Utility” is defined in various ways, usually in terms of the well-being of sentient entities, such as human beings and other animals. Jeremy Bentham, the founder of utilitarianism, described utility as the sum of all pleasure that results from an action, minus the suffering of anyone involved in the action. Utilitarianism is a version of consequentialism, which states that the consequences of any action are the only standard of right and wrong. Unlike other forms of consequentialism, such as egoism, utilitarianism considers all interests equally.

Proponents of utilitarianism have disagreed on a number of points. Should individual acts conform to utility (act utilitarianism)? Or, should agents conform to ethical rules (rule utilitarianism)? Should utility be calculated as an aggregate (total utilitarianism) or as an average (average utilitarianism)?

Though the seeds of the theory can be found in the hedonists Aristippus and Epicurus, who viewed happiness as the only good, the tradition of utilitarianism properly begins with Bentham, and has included John Stuart Mill, Henry Sidgwick, R. M. Hare and Peter Singer. It has been applied to social welfare economics, the crisis of global poverty, the ethics of raising animals for food and the importance of avoiding existential risks to humanity.

Jeremy Bentham

Jeremy Bentham was an English philosopher, jurist, and social reformer. He is regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism. Bentham’s book An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation was printed in 1780 but not published until 1789. Bentham’s work opens with a statement of the principle of utility:

Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do… By the principle of utility is meant that principle which approves or disapproves of every action whatsoever according to the tendency it appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question: or, what is the same thing in other words to promote or to oppose that happiness. I say of every action whatsoever, and therefore not only of every action of a private individual, but of every measure of government.

David Hume

Although utilitarianism is usually thought to start with Jeremy Bentham, there were earlier writers who presented theories that were strikingly similar. In An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, David Hume writes:

“In all determinations of morality, this circumstance of public utility is ever principally in view; and wherever disputes arise, either in philosophy or common life, concerning the bounds of duty, the question cannot, by any means, be decided with greater certainty, than by ascertaining, on any side, the true interests of mankind. If any false opinion, embraced from appearances, has been found to prevail; as soon as further experience and sounder reasoning have given us juster notions of human affairs, we retract our first sentiment, and adjust anew the boundaries of moral good and evil.”

Kant, Immanuel

Immanuel Kant (1724–1804)
Kant is one of the central figures of modern philosophy and set the terms by which all subsequent thinkers have had to grapple. He argued that human perception structures natural laws and that reason is the source of morality. His thought continues to hold a major influence in contemporary thought, especially in fields such as metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and aesthetics.

Kant named his brand of epistemology “Transcendental Idealism”, and he first laid out these views in his famous work The Critique of Pure Reason. In it, he argued that there were fundamental problems with both rationalist and empiricist dogma. To the rationalists he argued, broadly, that pure reason is flawed when it goes beyond its limits and claims to know those things that are necessarily beyond the realm of all possible experience: the existence of God, free will, and the immortality of the human soul. Kant referred to these objects as “The Thing in Itself” and goes on to argue that their status as objects beyond all possible experience by definition means we cannot know them. To the empiricist, he argued that while it is correct that experience is fundamentally necessary for human knowledge, reason is necessary for processing that experience into a coherent thought. He, therefore, concludes that both reason and experience are necessary for human knowledge. In the same way, Kant also argued that it was wrong to regard thought as mere analysis. In Kant’s views, “a priori concepts” do exist, but if they are to lead to the amplification of knowledge, they must be brought into relation with empirical data”.

Metaphysical naturalism

Metaphysical naturalism, also called ontological naturalism, philosophical naturalism, and scientific materialism is a worldview, which holds that there is nothing but natural elements, principles, and relations of the kind studied by the natural sciences. That is, those required to understand our physical environment by mathematical modeling. Metaphysical naturalism rejects the supernatural concepts and explanations that are part of many religions.

Metaphysical naturalism, also called “ontological naturalism” and “philosophical naturalism“, is a philosophical worldview and belief system that holds that there is nothing but natural elements, principles, and relations of the kind studied by the natural sciences, i.e., those required to understand our physical environment by mathematical modeling. Methodological naturalism, on the other hand, refers exclusively to the methodology of science, for which metaphysical naturalism provides only one possible ontological foundation.

Metaphysical naturalism holds that all properties related to consciousness and the mind are reducible to, or supervene upon, nature. Broadly, the corresponding theological perspective is religious naturalism or spiritual naturalism. More specifically, metaphysical naturalism rejects the supernatural concepts and explanations that are part of many religions.

Naturalism (philosophy)

Naturalism is the “idea or belief that only natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the world.” – Oxford English Dictionary Online

In philosophy, naturalism is the “idea or belief that only natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the world.” Adherents of naturalism (i.e., naturalists) assert that natural laws are the rules that govern the structure and behavior of the natural universe, that the changing universe at every stage is a product of these laws.[1]

“Naturalism can intuitively be separated into an ontological and a methodological component.”[2] “Ontological” refers to the philosophical study of the nature of reality. Some philosophers equate naturalism with materialism. For example, philosopher Paul Kurtz argues that nature is best accounted for by reference to material principles. These principles include mass, energy, and other physical and chemical properties accepted by the scientific community. Further, this sense of naturalism holds that spirits, deities, and ghosts are not real and that there is no “purpose” in nature. Such an absolute belief in naturalism is commonly referred to as metaphysical naturalism.[3]

Assuming naturalism in working methods is the current paradigm, without the unfounded consideration of naturalism as an absolute truth with philosophical entailment, called methodological naturalism.[4] The subject matter here is a philosophy of acquiring knowledge based on an assumed paradigm.

With the exception of pantheists—who believe that Nature and God are one and the same thing—theists challenge the idea that nature contains all of reality. According to some theists, natural laws may be viewed as so-called secondary causes of god(s).

In the 20th century, Willard Van Orman Quine, George Santayana, and other philosophers argued that the success of naturalism in science meant that scientific methods should also be used in philosophy. Science and philosophy are said to form a continuum, according to this view.


[1] "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Naturalism". 21 November 2009. Retrieved 6 March 2012. Naturalism is not so much a special system as a point of view or tendency common to a number of philosophical and religious systems; not so much a well-defined set of positive and negative doctrines as an attitude or spirit pervading and influencing many doctrines. As the name implies, this tendency consists essentially in looking upon nature as the one original and fundamental source of all that exists, and in attempting to explain everything in terms of nature. Either the limits of nature are also the limits of existing reality, or at least the first cause, if its existence is found necessary, has nothing to do with the working of natural agencies. All events, therefore, find their adequate explanation within nature itself. But, as the terms nature and natural are themselves used in more than one sense, the term naturalism is also far from having one fixed meaning.

[2] Papineau, David (22 February 2007). "Naturalism". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

[3] Kurtz, Paul (Spring 1998). "Darwin Re-Crucified: Why Are So Many Afraid of Naturalism?". Free Inquiry. 18 (2).

[4] Schafersman, Steven D. (1996). "Naturalism is Today An Essential Part of Science". Methodological naturalism is the adoption or assumption of naturalism in scientific belief and practice without really believing in naturalism.

[5] Jonathan Barnes's introduction to Early Greek Philosophy (Penguin)

Sam Harris Vs Noam Chomsky

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Recently Sam Harris was answering some
questions from his fans and he spoke a

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bit about his disagreements with noam
chomsky can you comment on your spat

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with noam chomsky your initial critique
of him in the end of faith you stand by

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it i’m a big fan but I just don’t get
this

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well i’m not aware of having a spat with
him I he’s actually taking a few shots

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at me online and but I we’ve never met
and i’m not aware of him having read the

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end of faith or having notice what I’ve
said about his politics so to some

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degree we could just be talking on
parallel channels here but i just think

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there is a kind of moral confusion
expressed in his political writing which

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ignores intention as a basis upon which
to evaluate certain human behavior at

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the end of the day he’s he simply wants
to use body count as the only metric to

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discuss the moral stature of two sides
in a conflict

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so if we kill a dozen children
unintentionally well that’s every bit as

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bad as doing it intentionally to that i
think is a bad way to look at human

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conflict

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I think the people who are intending to
kill children are different than the

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people who are intending to kill the
people who are killing children and our

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accidentally killing children in the
process

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it’s a huge difference you have to ask
yourself what kind of world is any group

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or society want to create how do they
want the world to be what would they do

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if they had all the power and when you
ask that question you get very different

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answers for specific groups

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no matter how much misery and death is
happening on both sides of a conflict

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when you look at World War two

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he was just a horrific wastage of human
life but the difference between the

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Allies and the Nazis was absolutely
categorical what sort of world that the

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Third Reich want to create ok

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and what did we want to create on our
side we did horrible things the

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firebombing of dressed in the atomic
bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

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absolutely grotesque acts of violence
where hundreds of thousands of people

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millions of people over the course of
the war died but what sort of world are

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we trying to build what

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and what were your intentions with
respect to the Germans and the Japanese

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really well you

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our intentions because after the war we
did not murder everyone

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we helped rebuild their societies so it
were not perfect but we were different

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from the Nazis

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so you can’t just look the body count
merely to judge the rightness or

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wrongness of human behavior and and
Chomsky seems to discount intentions

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across the board and only look at body
count

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and if you do that in any given instance
you come away with a perverse

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description of what’s happening in the
world and you come away believing the

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kinds of things that people influenced
by Chomsky tend to believe that your

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whether it’s glenn greenwald ER and the
other person who’s drunk this kool-aid

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and you can end up saying things like
the United States is the greatest

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terrorist state in human history right
or some other such nonsense

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there’s a difference between the dick
cheney’s of the world and the AL

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Baghdadi’s of the world and it is
crucial that people on the Left

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understand that

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and as far as i can tell Chomsky has
been a source of pure moral confusion on

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this point

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alright so as often happens when we
discuss these issues

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I’m in the unfortunate position of being
a fan of harris and Dawkins and the new

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atheists as well as a fan of Chomsky and
Greenwald and Scahill and people like

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that

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so inevitably when I talk about these
issues are yet people lash lashing out

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at me from both camps where they say I’m
too much of an apologist for Harrison

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the new atheists are people say I’m too
much of an apologist for Greenwald

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Chomsky

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so that’s definitely going to happen
I’ve accepted that at this point it is

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what it is no matter what I can’t please
everybody when I talk about these things

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I’m just breaking it down as i see it

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so first of all let’s go directly to his
main criticism is that a legitimate

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criticism of Noam Chomsky that noam
chomsky of focuses more on quantitative

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00:04:06,005 –> 00:04:08,084
issues than qualitative issues

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I’d say yes I think that’s a fair
criticism of Noam Chomsky

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I mean I also have other disagreements
with Chomsky I think he’s way to the

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left of me on domestic and economic
policy but on the idea that he focuses

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00:04:23,021 –> 00:04:26,030
too much on the quantitative and not
enough on the qualitative

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00:04:26,081 –> 00:04:32,102
I think that’s a fair point but the
thing that frustrates me about Paris is

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that he seems unaware that the criticism
of him is the polar opposite

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and I think that’s also merited so I do
think it’s a legitimate criticism of

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Chomsky that he focuses too much on the
quantitative and qualitative but Harris

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focuses too much on the qualitative and
not the quantitative so up here – let’s

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back up Paris for a second so harris is
. is basically yes if you tally up the

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body count

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it’s true that America has killed more
people than Isis but does that mean that

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America is worse than Isis course not
that’s ridiculous

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so I agree with him in that respect is
making a good point in that respect but

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the deeper idea here the harris is
getting at is the idea that America is

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basically altruistic

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so in his mind when we kill civilians

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it’s always an accident but what people
like myself and i would guess no chance

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you’re trying to get across to harris
and other people is that that’s not true

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that’s empirically not true we know that
that’s not true i mean we’ve covered

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stories on this show just to give one
example where we did drone strikes of a

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funeral when we knew that women and
children were at the funeral but we also

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knew the Taliban operatives wrap the
funeral and they just decided that

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fucking I mean we’ll get the Taliban
guys so there’s some collateral damage

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we know we’re going to kill the
civilians fucking let’s do it

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so the idea that like it’s always an
accident when we kill civilians

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that’s just not correct and those are
issues that Chomsky uh focuses on and

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issues that unfortunately I think Karis
doesn’t discuss nearly enough and also

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to again to attack the idea that it’s
like well we mean well so therefore it’s

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totally different

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it is different for sure but it’s not
totally different so for example the US

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has openly supported dozens of fascist
dictators during the cold war and after

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the Cold War and we didn’t do it because
we’re

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benevolent and we want a better system
of government for the people in South

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America for example know what we did it
because we wanted more geopolitical

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power and control and we wanted natural
resources

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I mean the term banana republic comes
from the fact that we overthrew the

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government so that our banana
corporations can come in and take the

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fucking bananas

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so it’s not the case that were all were
altruistic and we mean well and then

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once we accidentally killed civilians

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no it’s more the case that our focus is
primarily on geo political power and

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control and maintaining a grasp on these
things and keeping the order as it is

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right now and it taking natural
resources for ourselves

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so when we support these fascist
dictators who did all these horrible

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things it wasn’t like we expected that
they were going to set up a better

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system in that all were helping the
people in these places because of that

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we knew that they were doing fucked up
shit and we often looked in the other

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direction because our main concern was
not humanitarian and also what Harris is

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getting at is the idea of murder vs
manslaughter and what he’s saying is

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Chomsky disregard the fact that there’s
a difference between murder and

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manslaughter he may Chomsky makes it
seem like America is the worst by far

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and away because we murder more people
that then you know regimes that were

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outwardly the terrible weather it’s the
Nazis or Isis Sergey other jihadist or

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whoever and like I get that Sam I
understand what you’re saying and there

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is a fair point there that sometimes
Chomsky might go too far in his

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criticism of america and he might not
make a distinction between intentions

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but my response to that is Sam both of
those things are crimes murder is a

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crime and manslaughter is a crime

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so when no charge he comes out and
speaks more about what we do in the

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world

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the reason he’s doing that he’s spoken
about this before he mentioned in his

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debate with William F Buckley a long
time ago

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the reason he’s doing that is because he
says we are responsible for our actions

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I’m paying for that i’m paying for it
when we do something fucked up

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that’s why I’m focusing on this because
i don’t want us to be involved in any

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way shape or form with anything like
that whether it’s murder manslaughter or

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anything else that might be negative and
affect people in

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in a in a bad way I just want Sam to
recognize that

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okay we’re good guys they’re bad guys is
not a sufficient explanation

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that’s not enough for an Iraqi mother
who lost his son her son or her daughter

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or some other family member that’s not
consoling you can’t just throw this

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giant blanket this generalization over
what the u.s. does as well we meant well

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so it’s okay

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no since its us doing it we are
responsible for those actions

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so we can at the same time as we slammed
the actions of Isis and al-qaeda and

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other jihadist and christian
fundamentalist in the KKK we could slam

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all those actions and then also at the
same time say hey the thing we did in

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Vietnam when we used Agent Orange and
napalm and killed civilians that was

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fucked up

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hey when we overthrew the Iranian
government that was fucked up hey when

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we support occupation israel-palestine
that’s fucked up

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hey what we did in South America that’s
fucked up were able to have this

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conversation in a more nuanced way where
it shouldn’t be just us versus them it

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should be

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these actions they did are fucked up and
these actions we did our fucked up and

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let’s just cut out all the areas where
we fucked out so i think what we need

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here is a more nuanced conversation and
not just a conversation about us versus

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them and intentions were good intentions
versus bad intentions and we shouldn’t

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boil it down to the most base-level
conversation because it doesn’t help

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anybody

Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS (18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970) was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, social critic and political activist. At various points in his life he considered himself a liberal, a socialist, and a pacifist, but he also admitted that he had “never been any of these in any profound sense”. He was born in Monmouthshire into one of the most prominent aristocratic families in the United Kingdom.

In the early 20th century, Russell led the British “revolt against idealism”. He is considered one of the founders of analytic philosophy along with his predecessor Gottlob Frege, colleague G. E. Moore, and his protégé Ludwig Wittgenstein. He is widely held to be one of the 20th century’s premier logicians. With A. N. Whitehead he wrote Principia Mathematica, an attempt to create a logical basis for mathematics. His philosophical essay “On Denoting” has been considered a “paradigm of philosophy”. His work has had a considerable influence on logic, mathematics, set theory, linguistics, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, computer science (see type theory and type system), and philosophy, especially the philosophy of language, epistemology, and metaphysics.