Archive for the ‘Danny Shahar’ Category

[Update] Gene Callahan, objectively unreal: If a blog comment is deleted, did it ever exist? And is the indignation I feel based on a moral code that has an "objective" existence?

July 16th, 2009 No comments

Your foolish reporter, having rushed in where even angels like Bob Murphy fear to tread, now reports the latest “unreal”, or at least the rather unbelievable, turn of events (and non-events), at Gene Callahan`s Crash Landing blog.

Readers may recall my earlier report regarding  Mr. Callahan`s blog post on the intriguing topic of whether “morals are objectively real”, which blog post oddly “disappeared” and was subsequenty resurrected (after my report here).

The latest news is that our philosopher king has, rather startlingly, slammed shut and bolted the windows and doorson the subject blog post, after uttering a stream of grumpy and dismissive comments,  “The Doctor Is In” sign has been yanked, and replaced with the sign

“New comments have been disabled for this post by a blog administrator.”

Comments are now closed on THIS thread – even though they remain open on ALL OTHER posts by Gene, from as far back as June 8.

That the proprietor added a parting shot (misdirected at a strawman, of course) after yours truly responded to prior comments is not particularly surprising, but what is very stunning is that my response itself has been DELETED, so that it appears as if, after being castigated by my superior,  I sinply tucked in my tail and slinked off.

[Update:  I note that I was alerted to the fact that comments had been turned off when Bob Murphy kindly sent me and email (cc`d to Gene) that indicated Bob`s willingness to take up  this subject on his own blog; when I asked why he hadn`t made this offer on the blog thread, he replied that he coul dn`t as comments had been closed.]

It was only after Mr. Callahan declined to respond to my email request for an explanation that I decided to remark here on this rather sad  state of affairs.]

This type of behavior may lead some to question Mr. Callahan`s maturity and sense of honor.  Is this how one treats “friends” or other invited guests, especially someone purportedly interested in a conversation about “truth”, simply because one does not like what others have to say?

Others may simply ponder whether Gene, fuelled not by dispepsia by by a fit of youthful good fun on a post regarding the “objective” nature of morals, has simply playfully tried to raise the questions of (a) whether blog comments, if removed by the blog proprietor, indeed ever existed, (b) if not, whether judgments as to his`s behavior can have any objective basis whatsoever and, of course (c) whether morals themselves have any objective reality.

But while others may disagree on how to evaluate such behavior (I have my own conclusions, but insist there is no objective moral order that makes me right and Gene and others wrong), I am confident, at least, that my now non-existent comment was objectively real.  For the benefit of others, I post below my complete comment (typos and all), in precisely the form I received it in my Inbox from “”, Gene`s blogging platform (one gets these little messages by suscribing:to the comments on particular posts)..

This、I hope, demonstrates that thoughts, however evanescent, are real.

Which leaves inquiring minds to ponder just what, if anything, Mr. Callahan hope to accomplish or demonstrate by his apparently petulant and ungentlemanly behavior, and whether he is satisfied with the results.  (Discussions of whether there is an objective moral order – one not relative to man or to particular societies and individuals – will have to be left to another day and, alas, a venue other than Crash Landing, which sems to be crashing and burning.)

Here`s the comment (which was initally posted before Gene`st last word); readers can check the blog post itself for context.

from TokyoTom <[email protected]>
to [email protected]
date Wed, Jul 15, 2009 at 3:09 PM
subject [Crash Landing] New comment on Morals Are Not Objectively Real and Neither Is….
TokyoTom has left a new comment on the post “Morals Are Not Objectively Real and Neither Is…“:

“As thoughts?! And thoughts consist of mass and energy?”

There are no diembodied thoughts. “Thoughts” is a word that describes
our perception of physical activty in our brain. We might record or
communicate our thoughts, which communications also have a physical

“No, Tom, he’s speaking of mental age”

Is he your sock puppet, or are you dissing me on your own?

“most people get through their materialist stage by about 20.”

I disagree – most people never seriously think about thinking. And all cognitive scientists are older than 20.

“”discussion” doesn’t exist since it’s not made of matter and energy”

says? Not me. Discussion and dialogue – communication – definitely
exist and have a material basis. Is the “freshman philospohy BS” I`m
parroting so difficult that even you can`t follow it?

“I know, there is no “point” to anything, as it’s all just a bunch of atoms colliding”.

might know this, but I certainly don`t. I appreciate the helpful
attitude, but maybe you can let me put my own thoughts in my own mouth?

really is no sense trying to “discuss” … things with “someone” …
who can keep such rubbish in their head is really quite “pointless””

get your drift despite the grammar, but if all of this is so easy AND
pointless, why do you have such difficulty actually describing what I
say (that freshamn philosphy BS), why didn`t you dispose of it months
adgo on your peaen to Danny Shahar (who seems to agree with me, BTW),
why did you even bother with post, and why have you still, after all of
this time, failed to respond to my questions above (about whether the
objective order is something that exists apart from mankind, and is
universal to all men and all life)?

Too easy? Too boring? Too pointless?

I had thought that if I came here, I would get to kill the English. Have I come to the wrong place, then?

“I hope your electrons thrive in the future, Tom!”

thayks; that`s the nicest thing I`ve heard all day. Not to look a gift
horse in the mouth, but electrons don`t thrive – and even though they
may be get excited, they never get disappointed!

Post a comment.

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Posted by TokyoTom to Crash Landing at 2:09 AM


A further remaining question is whether Charlie Brown will ever again accept Lucy`s invitation to kick a proffered football.


[Updated] Are blog posts by Gene Callahan Objectively Real? Perhaps not

July 13th, 2009 No comments

[Update:  Happy news!  The subject blog post, once non-existent, has (been) resurrected!  Discussions, with a decided acerbic philosopher-king, continue!]

[Update part Deux: Unfortunately, as noted elsewhere, our ill-humored host has closed out his blog post, after deleting my response to a string of comments and adding a coda of his own.]

In a blog post in mid-May, libertarian wisdom-lover Gene Callahan articulated the thesis that there is an objective moral reality.  I copied here my discussion on the comment thread with Gene.  In the ensuing months, Gene has maintained strict radio silence, despite a few subsequent efforts by me to engage him.

At last however, it seems that on July 10, Gene posted a follow-up post, entitled “Morals Are Not Objectively Real and Neither Is …”.

“It seems”, I say, because the blog post, which I distinctly recall, no longer exists.  Google reports faint emanations from the post in various web pages, including the following cache of the apparent post:

Morals Are Not Objectively Real and Neither Is…

My friend laughed. “If morals
are objectively real, where are they?”

“Hmm,” I thought, good point. “So, the only things that are
objectively real are those located in space and time.”

“But, wait… the physical universe is not located in space and time,

“The physical universe is not objectively real!”

posted by Gene Callahan @ 3:35 PM

(emphasis added)

The contents of the non-post, and the lack of its current existence, lead me to wonder, as I wander out under the sky, the thoughts pondered in my post title.

I note that my Gmail inbox contains messages from the Twilight Zone, which indicate that I, Bob Murphy and Gene might have made the following comments on Gene`s non-post:

TokyoTom has left a new comment on the post “Morals Are Not Objectively Real and Neither Is…“:

Gene, thanks for revisiting this topic, but it doesn`t seems you`re
really exerting yourself, other than to make light of what you purport
to take seriously.

You might be the only guy chasing his tail who fooled himself into thinking he caught it.

existence is proof that the universe exists in space and time. But
where do morals objectively exist, apart from the individuals thinking
about them? Do other species have “morals” that govern their behavior,
or is there no objective moral order apart from man? Is the human
“objective” moral order universal, for all individuals, across all

Inquiring ants want to know!


Bob Murphy has left a new comment on the post “Morals Are Not Objectively Real and Neither Is…“:

TT, I don’t think most physicists (at least most cosmologists) would agree with you. The physical universe itself does not have particular space-time coordinates; relative to what?

rather than giving such a grandiose example, can’t you pick something
easier, like the Pythagorean Theorem or a pun? I grant you, no matter
what you pick, TT or other critics will find some reason to throw out
your remark as silly, but still it might be helpful.

For the
record, folks, I used to be a materialist and Gene talked me down from
the ledge. I didn’t even realize how much importance I was vesting with
the physical world until I debated him about it on anti-state.


TokyoTom has left a new comment on the post “Morals Are Not Objectively Real and Neither Is…“:

Bob, the fact that the universe itself is not a turtle sitting on the
back of another doesn`t mean that the universe and matter/phenomena
within it are not OBJECTIVE.

question, assuming Gene is not asserting the lack of objectivity of the
universe, is just what the heck Gene MEANS by “objective”, and just how
it is that there is an moral order to the universe that exists just as
objectively as, say, Saturn, the Tokugawa bakufu ot Gitmo.


Gene Callahan has left a new comment on the post “Morals Are Not Objectively Real and Neither Is…“:

“Our existence is proof that the universe exists in space and time.”

that’s ridiculous. Think about what you’re saying — the universe
cannot be “in” space! Just where in space do you think it’s located?


Gene Callahan has left a new comment on the post “Morals Are Not Objectively Real and Neither Is…“:

“Bob, the fact that the universe itself is not a turtle sitting on the
back of another doesn`t mean that the universe and matter/phenomena
within it are not OBJECTIVE.”

Exactly right, Tom — the fact that something is not located in space and time does not mean it’s not objective.

Gene`s implication appears to be that, just as the universe does not
exist in space or time, but is objective, so there exists an objective
moral order, that does not exist in space or time. 

If so, inquiring minds want to know (1) whether the objective moral
order is a part of the universe, (2) what methods can we apply to
confirm the existence of and explore the objective moral order, (3)
whether such methods are distinct from the scientific method, and (4)
just what the heck Gene means by “”objective”, anyway.

I`m not half as smart as I think I am, but I am now thoroughly
befuddled, not only as to what Gene believes is “objective”, but also
how to continue a non-existent discussion.