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Old 05-28-2015, 06:42 PM   #1   Add To Ignore List  
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Lightbulb Philosophical Discussion (Religion) - Talos Principle

Okay, so I just finished Talos Principle (I'm late; what of it?), and I liked it.

As I wrote on Facebook: "The environments were beautiful, the puzzles challenging, and story engrossing and inventive. But most notable were the thematic elements addressed, and while the larger philosophical questions were certainly not new to me, I found the allegories and method of presentation novel and intriguing."

Now, I do have serious concerns with the provided responses to the MLA (which I still feel odd about conversing with the Modern Language Association for academic paper formatting), which were often limited in a condescending manner in order to hand out exposition. And the exchanges weren't exactly "bad" (generally speaking), but it rarely felt like I was conversing with the program, and rather left me as a spectator to watch two others engage in the Socratic method. They wanted certain ideas to be brought to the forefront, and while that's perfectly reasonable, in a game where the primary thematic element deals with free will and idiosyncrasy, that limitation did stick out in an unflattering way.

But, onto more pressing matters. I interpreted the game in a specific way, but I want to hear what others though of it and some of the philosophical questions it addresses, as well as how it tackled them. Specifically, religious people (bonus points for Judaic practitioners!). I would like to hear your initial impressions, as well as some feedback on the topics I will address below (to those so kind).

1) Problem of Evil

I found it to provide a rather unorthodox perspective on the Problem of Evil, and the primary rhetorical device used by religious people when faced with it. The idea seems absurd (to me), that all of these incidentally evil things are somehow necessary for a perfect, grand design, and hence they are permitted even though God could choose to omit them from existence entirely. The idea is usually put forward on the premise that God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent (the last of which is a subjective paradox between suffix and prefix, but whenever challenged the objections are met with epistemic loops that get nowhere).

But, in the context of the Talos Principle, we can imagine that God is a philosopher and that thus even he bleeds (the eponymous idea of the game). As such, the idea that he can be omnibenevolent hinders on the idea that there is a single, "omni" benevolence. But the game actively challenges this idea, showing that inevitably any "conscious" mind is flawed (again, a recurring theme) and thus any universal truths attained by a conscious mind are in fact vulnerable to its own subjective views based on its given resources (those who come before, the inherent wiring/programming of the mind, etc.).

Alex says that to be intelligent is not simply to solve problems or collect data, but it's to question why you are doing it. Thus, it follows that if Elohim is conscious, he would be doing the same, and there will inevitably be inconsistencies (he knows he was designed to be overthrown, but resists regardless). So the idea that he's perfect then becomes exposed as false, unless you scope it out one more time and look then at who created him (which, in Christian texts, is not overtly denied and to my understanding never can be; but that will inevitably lead to an epistemic pissing match so we'll leave that semantic brawl for a different time).

Anyway, the grand design could require that he be imperfect and overthrown, but then you must question if that grand design were engineered objectively or subjectively (by humans, in this case, subjectively; so the cycle continues).

2) Heretical Socratic Method

This one is more abstract, and may appear elusive depending on how efficiently or inefficiently I articulate it. But, the game posits an interesting relationship between dialectic queries (Socratic method) and the nature of a commanding, religious deity (a tri-omni, to be specific). It would almost seem that there is something inherently heretical about the Socratic method.

If there were, somehow, an objective grand design that placed in a God for the purpose of being questioned (such as Elohim was in the game), heretical behavior would then have to be encouraged by design, would it not? Of course, I'm still operating under the idea that the Gods we observe cannot be their own creators (a point I will inevitably collide with religious people on). Rather, they would then believe in it due to their wiring given to them by another system or design.

If you could hypothetically climb the chain to the supreme design, I think you could safely say that it was the "father" to every idea, concept and practice in some way, and thus found value in each created concept to serve as an opposite to another in order to give it existence (basic yin-yang concept). Certain ones would then be designed to be emphasized as triumphant in a struggle against their counterpart (at least in a specific, limited context) as part of a grand design beyond our epistemic limitations and conscious comprehension.

---

So, what did you guys think?
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Old 05-28-2015, 06:49 PM   #2   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: Philosophical Discussion (Religion) - Talos Principle

I think it was cool.
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Old 05-28-2015, 06:56 PM   #3   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: Philosophical Discussion (Religion) - Talos Principle

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I think it was cool.
So is a refrigerator, but these are hardly philosophical revelations.
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Old 05-29-2015, 12:15 AM   #4   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: Philosophical Discussion (Religion) - Talos Principle

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God is a philosopher and that thus even he bleeds (the eponymous idea of the game).
So going by Arnold Schwarzenegger's philosophy, we can kill God?
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Old 05-29-2015, 03:04 AM   #5   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: Philosophical Discussion (Religion) - Talos Principle

I think that taking the philosophical viewpoint of those people we artificially deem to be the "mainstream", the idea of a game about slow puzzling and basic Philosophy 101, that uses little to no terminology of advanced philosophy, the game being quite cool is certainly a revelation to some.

And I think that will be the last time I'll try to use all those weird academical large words that somehow always seem to say less than they seem. I always disliked that in college. Always using those fancy terms, without any real reason than just sounding smart.

Anyway, when it comes to the game's philosophy, it didn't really seem to be something that's really "out there". It's just simply a "God that's not a God, but a Machine God" story that was done a lot before, however, it is definitely told in a clever way I haven't seen before, at least in a game. I was more enamored with the story of the humans and how preservation of their legacy came to being. Also, the whole thing about free will is something I really like.

As for what I think about Elohim and Milton? I think they were basically born of the same thing, the texts in the archive, interpreting them a different way, which then caused a the whole "God vs Satan, Faith vs Knowledge" thing going on. It is possible that they actually did this on purpose. It was revealed in one of those articles about the Gehenna DLC, that one of the ideas for the DLC was to have a different Milton and Elohim, born out of a vastly different archive.

And that's cool. This is what I was thinking, to answer your original question.
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Old 05-29-2015, 04:22 AM   #6   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: Philosophical Discussion (Religion) - Talos Principle

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I think that taking the philosophical viewpoint of those people we artificially deem to be the "mainstream", the idea of a game about slow puzzling and basic Philosophy 101, that uses little to no terminology of advanced philosophy, the game being quite cool is certainly a revelation to some.
Someone is bound to find it "cool." Without any analysis of "why," the declaration becomes quite meaningless. But, that would be if the topic of the thread was a catalog of reviews, which it really isn't. While fully welcome as asides, the topic is primarily intended to generate discussion among those who have already played it and are eager to discuss some of its philosophical implications in depth (those last two words being of paramount importance).

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And I think that will be the last time I'll try to use all those weird academical large words that somehow always seem to say less than they seem. I always disliked that in college. Always using those fancy terms, without any real reason than just sounding smart.
The correct word is "academic," but you needn't worry yourself as you did not use any of the words you just attempted to describe.
I understand this brand of aversion to jargon at times, but it puzzles me when people find words that are designed to be concise and convenient only to accuse them of being unnecessary. For example, I could say: "a concept that the game was named in reference to," or I could simply say: "an eponymous concept." The latter is far more efficient, yet people often criticize it for being "unnecessary," as if the former was not. These eventually become natural ways to convey more accurate ideas, just as you might instinctively say "square" in place of "four-sided geometric shape in which all sides are of equal length."

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Anyway, when it comes to the game's philosophy, it didn't really seem to be something that's really "out there". It's just simply a "God that's not a God, but a Machine God" story that was done a lot before, however, it is definitely told in a clever way I haven't seen before, at least in a game. I was more enamored with the story of the humans and how preservation of their legacy came to being. Also, the whole thing about free will is something I really like.
The game also made a strong argument for determinism, and that's what I found interesting about it. It wasn't merely "Philosophy 101," and if that's the impression a player got from it, they were probably only looking at the game on a superficial level rather than considering some of its more nuanced implications and allusions to more advanced rhetorical systems (or they're the single most profound and philosophically enlightened individual of the modern age and have a rigorous standard in that field, having already solved conundrums largely believed impossible in current epistemology; in which case: okay, good for them).

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As for what I think about Elohim and Milton? I think they were basically born of the same thing, the texts in the archive, interpreting them a different way, which then caused a the whole "God vs Satan, Faith vs Knowledge" thing going on. It is possible that they actually did this on purpose. It was revealed in one of those articles about the Gehenna DLC, that one of the ideas for the DLC was to have a different Milton and Elohim, born out of a vastly different archive.
Well, I don't think that was ever intended to be a debate. The allegories were most certainly made on purpose, especially when considering the meta-context of creator-to-creation.
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Old 05-29-2015, 05:09 AM   #7   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: Philosophical Discussion (Religion) - Talos Principle

While I did study philosophy, I think we can go with superficial, as I have no idea about more advanced rhetorical systems, or what they would entail.

In a way, you can say that I don't really "get" advanced philosophy. All their jargons and implications seem useless to me in general. And also hard to get the point across when you have people who are not very familiar with said jargon. It might sound like a different language to them, and many here have problems with even English.

Also, of course there's an aversion to jargon, when only those use them who are really into that particular field. I use jargon related to game and level design, but I don't use other, because I'm not an expert of those fields.

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just as you might instinctively say "square" in place of "four-sided geometric shape in which all sides are of equal length."
Most people in my country calls them "cubes", especially when talking about a grid-like pattern. While the correct word in my language means "square pattern" when translated, most people use a word that translates to "cube pattern".
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Old 05-29-2015, 05:15 AM   #8   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: Philosophical Discussion (Religion) - Talos Principle

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While I did study philosophy, I think we can go with superficial, as I have no idea about more advanced rhetorical systems, or what they would entail.

In a way, you can say that I don't really "get" advanced philosophy. All their jargons and implications seem useless to me in general. And also hard to get the point across when you have people who are not very familiar with said jargon. It might sound like a different language to them, and many here have problems with even English.
Which is why I don't parade about trying to impose these things on unwilling victims, despite strong personal incentives to do so. Instead, I create a nice little corner with an open invitation for those who are inclined to gravitate towards these types of discussions. So you may understand why I am confused when those who are not decide to jump in the corner I created, despite clear indication that the corner is not tailored for their own interests or disposition.

I don't expect everyone to be familiar with all jargon, but I do find it odd when people claim that certain topics or subjects are remedial when they do not exhibit thorough comprehension of them.

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Most people in my country calls them "cubes", especially when talking about a grid-like pattern. While the correct word in my language means "square pattern" when translated, most people use a word that translates to "cube pattern".
While a "square" refers to a 2-dimensional shape and a "cube" refers to a 3-dimensional shape, the distinction is irrelevant to the purpose of the analogy.
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Old 05-29-2015, 05:41 AM   #9   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: Philosophical Discussion (Religion) - Talos Principle

Because it is is not inviting to those people. Maybe they would be interested in what you want to say, but they can't understand the jargon. And seeing how it is a majority who don't understand the jargon, it is quite problematic. Since I graduated as a teacher (even if I don't consider myself one completely), I view everything with a hint of "possible educational purpose". When it comes to education, it is pivotal that we are clear and understandable to students. With this in mind, I personally think that jargon in general should be either abandoned or made with an effort to easy comprehension, because that way it makes education easier and friendlier for the masses of laypeople.

As for the analogy, the dimensions of the object are relevant: It shows that in the general populace, even "ancient jargon" is easily mistaken with something else. For an English example: People using the word "literally" wrong.
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Old 05-29-2015, 06:47 AM   #10   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: Philosophical Discussion (Religion) - Talos Principle

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Because it is is not inviting to those people.
Intentionally.

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Maybe they would be interested in what you want to say, but they can't understand the jargon. And seeing how it is a majority who don't understand the jargon, it is quite problematic.
Taken to that extreme, you're essentially making an argument rooted in semantics, that all words used to express ideas are subject to misinterpretation. Which would be fine, except that you're making that argument by using words, and yet it's somehow understood (better than you are positing it). And with no readily available alternative means of engaging in information sharing, it becomes a necessity. What you want to argue is degrees, but you're doing it poorly.

The lexicon / linguistic barriers you've addressed do not make a topic unapproachable. If one was properly determined and mentally prepared to grasp the subject material, they could either learn the jargon through research or pick it up through context. Those who don't are not equipped with a mindset to be immediately useful in the discussion.

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Since I graduated as a teacher (even if I don't consider myself one completely), I view everything with a hint of "possible educational purpose". When it comes to education, it is pivotal that we are clear and understandable to students. With this in mind, I personally think that jargon in general should be either abandoned or made with an effort to easy comprehension, because that way it makes education easier and friendlier for the masses of laypeople.
I have articulated the points in question as clear as I believe they can be. If a student could not comprehend them, it is due to no shortcoming on my end. Rather, it is due to their own laziness. While you are not expected to be familiar with all jargon to be intelligent, you are expected to demonstrate a willingness and yearning to understand more than what you are already familiar with. Those who do not attempt such feats will never contribute to the respective subject in any meaningful way. That is why most people are stupid, and it has nothing to do with their limited vocabulary.

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As for the analogy, the dimensions of the object are relevant: It shows that in the general populace, even "ancient jargon" is easily mistaken with something else. For an English example: People using the word "literally" wrong.
My analogy's purpose is to demonstrate that words are used to express ideas, and that certain words accurately reference shared concepts that do not need to be broken down into their tiniest baby steps (if I were teaching a student how to draw, I wouldn't feel it pertinent to explain with every stroke how graphite is extracted and infused into a pencil and how the pencil is then sharpened and collides with the page, breaking off parts of graphite onto the page and thus leaving a clear and visible stroke. If I say "pencil"," it's assumed anyone interested in engaging that field should either know the term and what I refer to, or should be willing to research it and learn about it through their own volition).

Your point with cubes and squares was to express that all words are susceptible to misinterpretation. If someone can mistake a square with a cube, they can also mistake an elephant with a keyboard. But I would hope that their atypical interpretation would not restrict us from using the words "elephant" or "keyboard" in our rhetoric. If we start blacklisting words, we are eventually left with nothing.

Regardless, I find this prolonged bickering to be trivial. I desire more stimulating discussion about the points addressed in the OP. If you are unable to do that, we have nothing more to discuss, and I will no longer converse with you.
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Old 05-29-2015, 06:54 AM   #11   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: Philosophical Discussion (Religion) - Talos Principle

That's a very inhumane and apathetic way of looking at things. You do remind me of Milton, so at least we curved back to the OP with that statement.
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