Thursday, March 29, 2018

PHI 101 Part 5 Free Will Spring 2018

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Orai - Public Speaking App, 2:07

Part 5: Free Will

Free Will

Each group will answer their appointed questions next Thursday. Each group should take no more than ten minutes each for their presentation. If the ideal group arrangement is met we will have four members in each group; thus, each colleague with have two minutes to present for a total of eight minutes leaving two minutes for questions and answers.

Before the group presents on Thursday (send by Tuesday) in the subject line of an email identify their selection from Part 5: Free Will, Thomas Nagel, etc.; in the body of the email list the students who answered and discussed their assignment and attach any materials presented (PowerPoint, Snap chat, etc.). Designate one person from your group for this task. 

After the organizational meetings during class if you have not been assigned to
a group be prepared to answer a question if someone is absent.

It is important that you attend class, arrive on time, and work cooperatively
with a group to earn discussion credit for participation.

Pick out three last names from the "magical cup of knowledge" (and, unless you picked out your own last name), call the names out so your colleagues can see you, return the last names to the bottom of the stack, and hand it to the next person until everyone is paired with three colleagues. If you have already been partnered with a colleague just hand the stack of names to the next person. Finally, find your colleagues for the Discussion today and answer the questions.

Each of the textbook selections in Part 5, Free Will, should have four questions (check and if not, assign two colleagues to one question). You should be paired with three other colleagues for a total of four in a group. Each colleague should be prepared to answer a question in the selection assigned. Each group will arrange who will answer which question within their group. 

Free Will
Thomas Nagel
Free Will and Determinism
W. T. Stace
Freedom or Determinism?
Steven M. Cahn
The Principle of Alternative Possibilities
Harry Frankfurt
The Capacities of Agents
Neil Levy
An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
David Hume
The Dilemma of Determinism
William James

Compatibilism: Crash Course Philosophy #25, Stop, 8:02

As we continue explore free will, today Hank considers a middle ground between hard determinism and libertarian free will: compatibilism. This view seeks to find ways that our internally motivated actions can be understood as free in a deterministic world. We’ll also cover Frankfurt Cases (we have a selection by Frankfurt in Part 5: The Principle of Alternative Possibilities
Harry Frankfurt) and Patricia Churchland’s rejection of the free-or-not-free dichotomy and her focus on the amount of control we have over our actions.

Was that man's really horrible behavior a matter of free will? Or, was it determined: by what turned out to be a medical condition? Was it neither, both?

What are two options?

What is the third option?

What is soft determinism?

What do compatibilists say?

How are examples about mental illness or alcohol instructive?

What is Harry Frankfurt's challenge? What are these called?

Are you responsible without being able to do otherwise?

What does Churchland point out? How much control do I have?

What do libertarians point out?

Libertarian Free Will - the belief that some actions are freely chosen.

Hard Determinism - the belief that all events are caused by past events such that nothing other than what does occur could occur.

Compatibilists believe, somewhat like hard determinists, that the universe operates with law-like order, and that the past determines the future.

Compatibilists say that action is determined--that is, it couldn't not happen--but when the action of an agent is self-determined or determined by causes internal to themselves, the action should be considered free.

Internal factors vs. External factors

Deterministic Nature of the Universe vs. Subjective Feeling of Freedom

Feeling free = having control

Free Will
Thomas Nagel

Thomas Nagel (born July 4, 1937) is an American philosopher, currently University Professor of Philosophy and Law Emeritus at New York University in the NYU Department of Philosophy, where he has taught since 1980. His main areas of philosophical interest are philosophy of mind, political philosophy and ethics.

Nagel is well known for his critique of material reductionist accounts of the mind, particularly in his essay "What Is it Like to Be a Bat?" (1974), and for his contributions to deontological and liberal moral and political theory in The Possibility of Altruism (1970) and subsequent writings. Continuing his critique of reductionism, he is the author of Mind and Cosmos (2012), in which he argues against a reductionist view, and specifically the neo-Darwinian view, of the emergence of consciousness.

Freedom of Will, the issue that Nagel addresses, 5:13

- Free will, determinism, and predetermination are encountered by Perceiving Reality. The structure of our "I" is explained as embedded within four factors that determine our characteristics and behavior from within our genes and from our environment.

Why don't we know which of our actions are actually free?

What are the four factors?

What can we learn from a seed of wheat?

What is our single point of freedom?

Kabbalah (Hebrew: קַבָּלָה‎, literally "parallel/corresponding," or "received tradition") is an esoteric method, discipline, and school of thought that originated in Judaism.

We are blind to the laws and forces that manage us.

Four factors: first factor, the bed, second factor, the cause and effect that stem from itself, thirdly, the inner cause and effect and how well the stalk of wheat grows depends on specific external factors that work directly on its essence, finally our family and upbringing.  

Free Will and Determinism
W. T. Stace

Walter Terence Stace (17 November 1886 – 2 August 1967) was a British civil servant, educator, public philosopher and epistemologist, who wrote on Hegel, mysticism, and moral relativism. He worked with the Ceylon Civil Service from 1910-1932, and from 1932-1955 he was employed by Princeton University in the Department of Philosophy. He is most renowned for his work in the philosophy of mysticism, and for books like Mysticism and Philosophy (1960) and Teachings of the Mystics (1960). These works have been influential in the study of mysticism, but they have also been severely criticised for their lack of methodological rigor and their perennialist pre-assumptions.

W.T Stace - Soft Determinism, 5:06

Freedom or Determinism?
Steven M. Cahn

The Principle of Alternative Possibilities
Harry Frankfurt

Harry Gordon Frankfurt (born May 29, 1929) is an American philosopher. He is professor emeritus of philosophy at Princeton University, where he taught from 1990 until 2002, and previously taught at Yale University, Rockefeller University, and Ohio State University.

The Capacities of Agents
Neil Levy

Neil received a PhD in Continental Philosophy in 1995 and a second PhD, this time in analytic philosophy, in 2006. He was a Research Fellow at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, University of Melbourne, from 2002 to 2009. In 2010 he moved to the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, where he was Head of Neuroethics and an ARC Future Fellow. From 2006 onwards, he has held appointments at the University of Oxford, where he is currently Leverhulme Visiting Professor. From 2016, he will be half time at Oxford and half time at Macquarie.

The nature of luck - Neil Levy, podcast, 8:40

Let us consider "Pistol Pete" Maravich's floppy socks. 

Peter Press Maravich (June 22, 1947 – January 5, 1988), known by his nickname Pistol Pete, was an American professional basketball player. Maravich was born in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, part of the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, and raised in the Carolinas. Maravich starred in college at Louisiana State University (LSU) and played for three NBA teams until injuries forced his retirement in 1980. He is the all-time leading NCAA Division I scorer with 3,667 points scored and an average of 44.2 points per game. All of his accomplishments were achieved before the adoption of the three point line and shot clock, and despite being unable to play varsity as a freshman under then-NCAA rules. One of the youngest players ever inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Maravich was cited by the Hall as "perhaps the greatest creative offensive talent in history". In an April 2010 interview, Hall of Fame player John Havlicek said that "the best ball-handler of all time was Pete Maravich"

Are you lucky? What is the nature of luck? What is our understanding of luck? What can we control? Is skill involved? How? Where does the idea of luck come from? Are there unseen forces in the universe? Are forces random? Is luck self-fulfilling? What about superstition? Are athletes superstitious? Do rituals bring luck? 

Associate Professor Levy was recently interviewed on ABC 612 Brisbane Afternoons by Kelly Higgins-Devine on the nature of luck.

An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
David Hume

An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is a book by the Scottish empiricist philosopher David Hume, published in English in 1748. It was a revision of an earlier effort, Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature, published anonymously in London in 1739–40. Hume was disappointed with the reception of the Treatise, which "fell dead-born from the press," as he put it, and so tried again to disseminate his more developed ideas to the public by writing a shorter and more polemical work.

The end product of his labours was the Enquiry. The Enquiry dispensed with much of the material from the Treatise, in favor of clarifying and emphasizing its most important aspects. For example, Hume's views on personal identity do not appear. However, more vital propositions, such as Hume's argument for the role of habit in a theory of knowledge, are retained.

This book has proven highly influential, both in the years that would immediately follow and today. Immanuel Kant points to it as the book which woke him from his self-described "dogmatic slumber". The Enquiry is widely regarded as a classic in modern philosophical literature.

David Hume: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding Part 1, 2:55

In this two part series, we will examine David Hume’s treatise titled An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. In this first lecture, we will discuss Hume’s empirical epistemology and the problem of induction. In the second lecture, we will explore the consequences of Hume’s theory of knowledge.

David Hume: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding Part 2, 4:49

In this two part series, we will examine David Hume’s treatise titled An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. In this first lecture, we will discuss Hume’s empirical epistemology and the problem of induction. In the second lecture, we will explore the consequences of Hume’s theory of knowledge.

The Dilemma of Determinism
William James

William James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910) was an American philosopher and psychologist who was also trained as a physician. The first educator to offer a psychology course in the United States, James was one of the leading thinkers of the late nineteenth century and is believed by many to be one of the most influential philosophers the United States has ever produced, while others have labeled him the "Father of American psychology".

Along with Charles Sanders Peirce and John Dewey, James is considered to be one of the major figures associated with the philosophical school known as pragmatism, and is also cited as one of the founders of functional psychology. A Review of General Psychology analysis, published in 2002, ranked James as the 14th most eminent psychologist of the 20th century. He also developed the philosophical perspective known as radical empiricism. James' work has influenced intellectuals such as Émile Durkheim, W. E. B. Du Bois, Edmund Husserl, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Hilary Putnam, and Richard Rorty, and has even influenced Presidents, such as Jimmy Carter.

Born into a wealthy family, James was the son of the Swedenborgian theologian Henry James Sr. and the brother of both the prominent novelist Henry James, and the diarist Alice James. James wrote widely on many topics, including epistemology, education, metaphysics, psychology, religion, and mysticism. Among his most influential books are The Principles of Psychology, which was a groundbreaking text in the field of psychology, Essays in Radical Empiricism, an important text in philosophy, and The Varieties of Religious Experience, which investigated different forms of religious experience, which also included the then theories on mind-cure.

Who Was William James? (Famous Philosophers), 3:58

William James: Founder of Pragmatism, Father of American Psychology, and One of the Most Influential American Philosophers Of All Time. This video offers a brief introduction to William James's positions.

William James, Star Trek's Data, and the Question of Free Will, 2:54

Does Data have free will?

REL 205 Spring 2018 Zoroastrianism Background

Rowan College Blackboard

“Follow your bliss.
If you do follow your bliss,
you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while waiting for you,
and the life you ought to be living
is the one you are living.
When you can see that,
you begin to meet people
who are in the field of your bliss,
and they open the doors to you.
I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid,
and doors will open
where you didn't know they were going to be.
If you follow your bliss,
doors will open for you that wouldn't have opened for anyone else.”

― Joseph Campbell


Orai - Public Speaking App, 2:07

Freddy Mercury as a Zoroastrian and Parsi, 2:19

Kashmira Cooke about his brother Farrokh Bulsara and his identity.




Each group will answer their appointed sections next Thursday. Each group should take no more than ten minutes each for their presentation. If the ideal group arrangement is met we will have four members in each group; thus, each colleague with have two minutes to present for a total of eight minutes leaving two minutes for questions and answers.

Before the group presents on next Thursday (send by Tuesday) in the subject line of an email identify their selection from Zoroastrianism, The Avesta, etc.; in the body of the email list the students who answered and discussed their assignment and attach any materials presented (PowerPoint, Snap chat, etc.). 

Designate one person from your group for this task: 

After the organizational meetings during class if you have not been assigned to a group be prepared to answer a question if someone is absent.

It is important that you attend class, arrive on time, and work cooperatively
with a group to earn discussion credit for participation.

Pick out three last names from the "magical cup of knowledge" (and, unless you picked out your own last name), call the names out so your colleagues can see you, return the last names to the bottom of the stack, and hand it to the next person until everyone is paired with three colleagues. If you have already been partnered with a colleague just hand the stack of names to the next person. 

The textbook selections on Zoroastrianism has at least four sections. You should be paired with three other colleagues for a total of four in a group. Each colleague should be prepared to address a selection in the assigned section. Each group will arrange who will answer which section within their group. 

291 Zoroastrianism
291 Introduction
297 The Avesta
297 Zoroastrian Creed
299 Dualism
300 Removal of Hair and Nails
301 Removal of the Dead
304 The Daily Prayer
305 Pahlavi Writings
305 The Chinvat Bridge, Heaven and Hell
308 Creation and the Millennia
311 Life of Zarathushtra
313 Coming of Saoshyant
314 The Final Judgment and Restoration of the Universe
317 Six Ritual Obligations
318 Virtues and Social Obligation
319 Zurvan Writings
319 Zurvan and his Twin Sons

What Is? 1:33

Zoroastrianism,[n 1] or more natively Mazdayasna,[1] is one of the world's oldest religions, "combining a cosmogonic dualism and eschatological monotheism in a manner unique... among the major religions of the world."[2] Ascribed to the teachings of the Iranian Prophet Zoroaster (or Zarathustra),[3] he exalted their deity of wisdom, Ahura Mazda, (Wise Lord) as its Supreme Being.[4]

Leading characteristics, such as messianism, heaven and hell, and free will influenced other religious systems, including Second Temple Judaism, Gnosticism, Christianity, and Islam.[5] With possible roots dating back to the second millennium BCE, Zoroastrianism enters recorded history in the 5th-century BCE,[4] and including a Mithraic Median prototype and Zurvanist Sassanid successor it served as the state religion of the pre-Islamic Iranian empires from around 600 BCE to 650 CE.

Zoroastrianism was suppressed from the 7th century onwards following the Muslim conquest of Persia.[6] Recent estimates place the current number of Zoroastrians at around 2.6 million, with most living in India and Iran.[7][8][n 2] Besides the Zoroastrian diaspora, the older Mithraic faith Yazdânism is still practised amongst the Kurds.[n 3]

The religious philosophy of Zoroaster divided the early Iranian gods.[9] The most important texts of the religion are those of the Avesta.[10] In Zoroastrianism, the creator Ahura Mazda, through the Spenta Mainyu (Good Spirit, "Bounteous Immortals")[11] is an all-good "father" of Asha (Truth, “order, justice,")[12][13] in opposition to Druj (“falsehood, deceit”)[14][15] and no evil originates from "him".[16] "He" and his works are evident to humanity through the six primary Amesha Spentas[17] and the host of other Yazatas, through whom worship of Mazda is ultimately directed. Spenta Mainyu adjoined unto "truth"[18] oppose the Spirit's opposite,[19][20] Angra Mainyu and its forces born of Akəm Manah (“evil thinking”).[21]

Zoroastrianism has no major theological divisions, though it is not uniform; modern-era influences having a significant impact on individual and local beliefs, practices, values and vocabulary, sometimes merging with tradition and in other cases displacing it.[22] In Zoroastrianism, the purpose in life is to "be among those who renew the make the world progress towards perfection". Its basic maxims include:
Humata, Hukhta, Huvarshta, which mean: Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds.
There is only one path and that is the path of Truth.

Do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, and then all beneficial rewards will come to you also.
The most important texts of the religion are those of the Avesta, which includes the writings of Zoroaster known as the Gathas, enigmatic poems that define the religion's precepts, and the Yasna, the scripture. The full name by which Zoroaster addressed the deity is: Ahura, The Lord Creator, and Mazda, Supremely Wise.
He proclaimed that there is only one God, the singularly creative and sustaining force of the Universe. He also stated that human beings are given a right of choice, and because of cause and effect are also responsible for the consequences of their choices.

Zoroaster's teachings focused on responsibility, and did not introduce a devil, per se. The contesting force to Ahura Mazda was called Angra Mainyu, or angry spirit. Post-Zoroastrian scripture introduced the concept of Ahriman, the Devil, which was effectively a personification of Angra Mainyu.[23]

Biography, 1:22


Zoroastrianism was founded by Zoroaster (or Zarathustra), later deemed a prophet, in ancient Iran. The precise date of the founding of Zoroastrianism is uncertain. Zoroaster was born in either Northeast Iran or Southwest Afghanistan. He was born into a culture with a polytheistic religion, which included animal sacrifice[69] and the ritual use of intoxicants, quite similar to early forms of Hinduism in India. Zoroaster's birth and early life are little documented. What is known is recorded in the Gathas—the core of the Avesta, which contains hymns thought to be composed by Zoroaster himself. Born into the Spitama clan, he worked as a priest. He had a wife, three sons, and three daughters.

Zoroaster rejected the religion of the Bronze Age Iranians, with their many gods and oppressive class structure, in which the Karvis and Karapans (princes and priests) controlled the ordinary people. He also opposed animal sacrifices and the use of the hallucinogenic Haoma plant (possibly a species of ephedra) in rituals, but held the rooster as a "symbol of light"[70] and associated it with "good against evil"[71] because of his heraldic actions. Vision of Zoroaster

According to Zoroastrian belief, when Zoroaster was 30 years old, he went into the Daiti river to draw water for a Haoma ceremony; when he emerged, he received a vision of Vohu Manah. After this, Vohu Manah took him to the other six Amesha Spentas, where he received the completion of his vision.[72] This vision radically transformed his view of the world, and he tried to teach this view to others. Zoroaster believed in one creator God, teaching that only one God was worthy of worship. Some of the deities of the old religion, the Daevas (Devas in Sanskrit), appeared to delight in war and strife. Zoroaster said these were evil spirits, workers of Angra Mainyu.

Zoroaster's ideas were not taken up quickly; he originally only had one convert: his cousin Maidhyoimanha.[73] The local religious authorities opposed his ideas, considering that their faith, power, and particularly their rituals, were threatened by Zoroaster's teaching against over-ritualising religious ceremonies. Many did not like Zoroaster's downgrading of the Daevas to evil spirits. After 12 years of little success, Zoroaster left his home.

In the country of King Vishtaspa in Bactria, the king and queen heard Zoroaster debating with the religious leaders of the land and decided to accept Zoroaster's ideas as the official religion of their kingdom. Zoroaster died in his late 70s. Very little is known of the time between Zoroaster and the Achaemenian period, except that Zoroastrianism spread to Western Iran. By the time of the founding of the Achaemenid Empire, Zoroastrianism was already a well-established religion.


Cartoon Zoroastrianism
A video that the life of the Iranian prophet Zoroaster and the essence of his teachings.

This is a product of Mexus Education Pvt. Ltd., an education innovations company based in Mumbai, India.,

Brief History of Zoroastrianism, 3:28

The roots of Zoroastrianism are thought to have emerged from a common prehistoric Indo-Iranian religious system dating back to the early 2nd millennium BCE.[33] The prophet Zoroaster himself, though traditionally dated to the 6th century BC, is thought by many modern historians to have been a reformer of the polytheistic Iranian religion who lived in the 10th century BC.[34] Zoroastrianism as a religion was not firmly established until several centuries later. Zoroastrianism enters recorded history in the mid-5th century BCE. Herodotus' The Histories (completed c. 440 BCE) includes a description of Greater Iranian society with what may be recognizably Zoroastrian features, including exposure of the dead.

The Histories is a primary source of information on the early period of the Achaemenid era (648–330 BCE), in particular with respect to the role of the Magi. According to Herodotus i.101, the Magi were the sixth tribe of the Medians (until the unification of the Persian empire under Cyrus the Great, all Iranians were referred to as "Mede" or "Mada" by the peoples of the Ancient World), who appear to have been the priestly caste of the Mesopotamian-influenced branch of Zoroastrianism today known as Zurvanism, and who wielded considerable influence at the courts of the Median emperors.

The Zoroastrian Achaemenid Empire at its greatest extent was the largest ancient empire in recorded history at 8.0 million km2 (480 BCE).[35]

Following the unification of the Median and Persian empires in 550 BCE, Cyrus the Great and, later, his son Cambyses II curtailed the powers of the Magi after they had attempted to sow dissent following their loss of influence. In 522 BCE, the Magi revolted and set up a rival claimant to the throne. The usurper, pretending to be Cyrus' younger son Smerdis, took power shortly thereafter.[36] Owing to the despotic rule of Cambyses and his long absence in Egypt, "the whole people, Persians, Medes and all the other nations" acknowledged the usurper, especially as he granted a remission of taxes for three years (Herodotus iii. 68).

Darius I and later Achaemenid emperors acknowledged their devotion to Ahura Mazda in inscriptions, as attested to several times in the Behistun inscription, and appear to have continued the model of coexistence with other religions. Whether Darius was a follower of Zoroaster has not been conclusively established, since devotion to Ahura Mazda was (at the time) not necessarily an indication of an adherence to Zoroaster's teaching. A number of the Zoroastrian texts that today are part of the greater compendium of the Avesta have been attributed to that period. This calendar attributed to the Achaemenid period is still in use today. Additionally, the divinities, or yazatas, are present-day Zoroastrian angels (Dhalla, 1938).

According to later Zoroastrian legend (Denkard and the Book of Arda Viraf), many sacred texts were lost when Alexander the Great's troops invaded Persepolis and subsequently destroyed the royal library there. Diodorus Siculus's Bibliotheca historica, which was completed circa 60 BCE, appears to substantiate this Zoroastrian legend (Diod. 17.72.2–17.72.6). According to one archaeological examination, the ruins of the palace of Xerxes bear traces of having been burned (Stolze, 1882). Whether a vast collection of (semi-)religious texts "written on parchment in gold ink", as suggested by the Denkard, actually existed remains a matter of speculation, but is unlikely. Given that many of the Denkards statements-as-fact have since been refuted among scholars, the tale of the library is widely accepted to be fictional (Kellens, 2002).

The religion would be professed many centuries following the demise of the Achaemenids in mainland Persia and the core regions of the former Achaemenid Empire, most notably Anatolia, Mesopotamia, and the Caucasus. In the Cappadocian kingdom, whose territory was formerly an Achaemenid possession, Persian colonists, cut off from their co-religionists in Iran proper, continued to practice the faith [Zoroastrianism] of their forefathers; and there Strabo, observing in the first century B.C., records (XV.3.15) that these "fire kindlers" possessed many "holy places of the Persian Gods", as well as fire temples.[37] Strabo furthermore relates, were "noteworthy enclosures; and in their midst there is an altar, on which there is a large quantity of ashes and where the magi keep the fire ever burning."[37] Through and after the Hellenistic periods in the aforementioned regions, the religion would be strongly revived as a major thing.

Most of the Sassanid Empire was overthrown by the Arabs over the course of 16 years in the 7th century. Although the administration of the state was rapidly Islamicized and subsumed under the Umayyad Caliphate, in the beginning "there was little serious pressure" exerted on newly subjected people to adopt Islam.[43]

Because of their sheer numbers, the conquered Zoroastrians had to be treated as dhimmis (despite doubts of the validity of this identification that persisted down the centuries),[44] which made them eligible for protection. Islamic jurists took the stance that only Muslims could be perfectly moral, but "unbelievers might as well be left to their iniquities, so long as these did not vex their overlords."[44]

The Arabs adopted the Sassanid tax-system, both the land-tax levied on land owners and the poll-tax levied on individuals,[44] called jizya, a tax levied on non-Muslims (i.e., the dhimmis). In time, this poll-tax came to be used as a means to humble the non-Muslims, and a number of laws and restrictions evolved to emphasize their inferior status.

Under Abbasid rule, Muslim Iranians (who by then were in the majority) increasingly found ways to taunt Zoroastrians, and distressing them became a popular sport. For example, in the 9th century, a deeply venerated cypress tree in Khorasan (which Parthian-era legend supposed had been planted by Zoroaster himself) was felled for the construction of a palace in Baghdad, 2,000 miles (3,200 km) away.

In the 10th century, on the day that a Tower of Silence had been completed at much trouble and expense, a Muslim official contrived to get up onto it, and to call the adhan (the Muslim call to prayer) from its walls. This was made a pretext to annex the building.[45]

Another popular means to distress Zoroastrians was to maltreat dogs, as these animals are sacred in Zoroastrianism. Such baiting, which was to continue down the centuries, was indulged in by all; not only by high officials, but by the general uneducated population as well.

The first edict, adapted from an Arsacid and Sassanid one (but in those to the advantage of Zoroastrians), was that only a Muslim could own Muslim slaves or indentured servants. Thus, a bonded individual owned by a Zoroastrian could automatically become a freeman by converting to Islam. The other edict was that if one male member of a Zoroastrian family converted to Islam, he instantly inherited all its property.

Despite economic and social incentives to convert, Zoroastrianism remained strong in some regions, particularly in those furthest away from the Caliphate capital at Baghdad. In Bukhara (in present-day Uzbekistan), resistance to Islam required the 9th-century Arab commander Qutaiba to convert his province four times. The first three times the citizens reverted to their old religion. Finally, the governor made their religion "difficult for them in every way", turned the local fire temple into a mosque, and encouraged the local population to attend Friday prayers by paying each attendee two dirhams.[48] The cities where Arab governors resided were particularly vulnerable to such pressures, and in these cases the Zoroastrians were left with no choice but to either conform or migrate to regions that had a more amicable administration.[48]
Due to Islamic oppression and bigotry, Zoroastrians have fled to India, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Persia, and an expatriate community has formed in the United States (some from India), and to a lesser extent in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.

Spread, 1:26 (watch)

See the spread of the religion known as Zoroastrianism. It also includes Manichaeism but not any of the other religions that are associated with Zoroastrianism.

Zoroastrianism is often compared with the Manichaeism. Nominally an Iranian religion, it has its origins in the Middle-Eastern Gnosticism. Superficially such a comparison seem apt, as both are dualistic and Manichaeism adopted many of the Yazatas for its own pantheon. Gherardo Gnoli, in The Encyclopaedia of Religion, says that "we can assert that Manichaeism has its roots in the Iranian religious tradition and that its relationship to Mazdaism, or Zoroastrianism, is more or less like that of Christianity to Judaism".[66]

They are however quite different.[67] Manichaeism equated evil with matter and good with spirit, and was therefore particularly suitable as a doctrinal basis for every form of asceticism and many forms of mysticism. Zoroastrianism, on the other hand, rejects every form of asceticism, has no dualism of matter and spirit (only of good and evil), and sees the spiritual world as not very different from the natural one (the word "paradise", or pairi.daeza, applies equally to both.)

Manichaeism's basic doctrine was that the world and all corporeal bodies were constructed from the substance of Satan, an idea that is fundamentally at odds with the Zoroastrian notion of a world that was created by God and that is all good, and any corruption of it is an effect of the bad. From what may be inferred from many Manichean texts and a few Zoroastrian sources, the adherents of the two religions (or at least their respective priesthoods) despised each other intensely.

Morgan Freeman's Story of God, 6:42

Zoroastrians believe that there is one universal, transcendent, supreme god, Ahura Mazda, or the "Wise Lord". (Ahura means "Being" and Mazda means "Mind" in Avestan language).[25] Zoroaster keeps the two attributes separate as two different concepts in most of the Gathas and also consciously uses a masculine word for one concept and a feminine for the other, as if to distract from an anthropomorphism of his divinity. Zoroaster claimed that Ahura Mazda is almighty, though not omnipotent.

Other scholars assert that since Zoroastrianism's divinity covers both being and mind as immanent entities, it is better described as a belief in an immanent self-creating universe with consciousness as its special attribute, thereby putting Zoroastranism in the pantheistic fold where it can be easily traced to its shared origin with Indian Brahmanism.[26][27] In any case, Ahura Mazda's creation—evident is widely agreed as asha, truth and order—is the antithesis of chaos, which is evident as druj, falsehood and disorder. The resulting conflict involves the entire universe, including humanity, which has an active role to play in the conflict.[28]

In Zoroastrian tradition, the "chaotic" is represented by Angra Mainyu (also referred to as "Ahriman"), the "Destructive Principle", while the benevolent is represented through Ahura Mazda's Spenta Mainyu, the instrument or "Bounteous Principle" of the act of creation. It is through Spenta Mainyu that transcendental Ahura Mazda is immanent in humankind, and through which the Creator interacts with the world. According to Zoroastrian cosmology, in articulating the Ahuna Vairya formula, Ahura Mazda made His ultimate triumph evident to Angra Mainyu. As expressions and aspects of Creation, Ahura Mazda emanated the Amesha Spentas ("Bounteous Immortals"), that are each the hypostasis and representative of one aspect of that Creation. These Amesha Spenta are in turn assisted by a league of lesser principles, the Yazatas, each "Worthy of Worship" and each again a hypostasis of a moral or physical aspect of creation.

Zoroastrian theology includes a duty to protect nature. This has led some to proclaim it as the "world's first ecological religion." Scholars have argued that, since the protections are part of a ritual, they stem from theology rather than ecology. Others have responded that, since the scripture calls for the protection of water, earth, fire, air, as once of its strongest precepts, it is, in effect, an ecological religion: "It is not surprising that Mazdaism (another term for Zoroastrianism) is called the first ecological religion. The reverence for Yazatas (divine spirits) emphasizes the preservation of nature (Avesta: Yasnas 1.19, 3.4, 16.9; Yashts 6.3-4, 10.13)." [29]

Towers of Silence Trailer, 4:55

Selects from Zoroastrian Rituals (Towers of Silence): Rituals, 2:22


Zoroastrians Celebrate Fire Festival in Iran: Fire Festival, 2:31

One of the worlds last and largest communities of Zoroastrians celebrates its annual fire festival in Iran, where the government has recently been more accepting of its pre-Islamic Persian heritage. WSJ's Bill Spindle reports.

Prayer, 2:31

"Zoroastrian rituals and prayers are solemnized in the presence of a Fire, which is scrupulously tended with sandalwood and frankincence and kept buning in a silver urn in the inner sanctum of every Zoroastrian "fire-temple" also called a Darbe Mehr (door of devotion). Fire is revered as a visual symbol of the Inner Light, the devine spark, that burns in each and every heart; a physical representation of the Illuminated Mind, Enlightenment and Truth. It is important to note that Zoroastirans do not "worship fire" as the religion denounces the worship of any idols or dieties." The mobed (priest) wears a mouth veil to prevent contamination of the fire. "Ashem Vohu, vahishtem asti, Ushta asti, ushta ahmai Hyat ashai, vahishtai ashem -To think a good thought, to speak a good word, to do a good deed, is the best. Everlasting happiness to those who follow the Path of Asha" The World Religions class observing this prayer are wearing hats and head coverings as a sign of respect to the sanctity of the place of worship. It is very special and rare for nonpractitioners to be allowed into the inner sanctum.

Saving the Zoroastrians (The Feed): Saving 3:53

BBC News Keeping Zoroastrianism alive after 3,000 years


Creation of the universe

According to the Zoroastrian story of creation, Ahura Mazda existed in light in goodness above, while Angra Mainyu existed in darkness and ignorance below. They have existed independently of each other for all time, and manifest contrary substances. Ahura Mazda first created seven abstract heavenly beings called Amesha Spentas, who support him and represent beneficent aspects, along with numerous yazads, lesser beings worthy of worship. He then created the universe itself in order to ensnare evil. Ahura Mazda created the floating, egg-shaped universe in two parts: first the spiritual (menog) and 3,000 years later, the physical (getig). Ahura Mazda then created Gayomard, the archetypical perfect man, and the first bull.[74]

While Ahura Mazda created the universe and humankind, Angra Mainyu, whose instinct is to destroy, miscreated demons, evil yazads, and noxious creatures (khrafstar) such as snakes, ants, and flies. Angra Mainyu created an opposite, evil being for each good being, except for humans, which he found he could not match. Angra Mainyu invaded the universe through the base of the sky, inflicting Gayomard and the bull with suffering and death. However, the evil forces were trapped in the universe and could not retreat. The dying primordial man and bull emitted seeds. From the bull's seed grew all beneficial plants and animals of the world, and from the man's seed grew a plant whose leaves became the first human couple. Humans thus struggle in a two-fold universe trapped with evil. The evils of this physical world are not products of an inherent weakness, but are the fault of Angra Mainyu's assault on creation. This assault turned the perfectly flat, peaceful, and ever day-lit world into a mountainous, violent place that is half night.[74]

Zoroastrianism Music, 14:37

Music from Feza Radio - Fire loop by Michael Edwards -

Freddy Mercury as a zoroastrian and parsi, 2:19

Kashmira Cooke about his brother Farrokh Bulsara and his identity.