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official moral

Postby Emma_85 » Mon Sep 15, 2003 5:44 pm

In the last few months I've noticed just how much people are influenced by our 'official' moral principals. The more if other people are around - the pressure grows. Politicians here are just incapable of some reforms, because of these principals, which are of course greatly influenced by Christianity (as it is the ancient Greeks (the Stoics) ‘invented’ most of these principals).<br />Even in smaller circles this happens. If they don’t believe the moral values are correct they still find themselves acting on them time and time again, just because everyone else does.<br />Can we easily ignore these moral guidelines, which regulate the actions of ourselves and others, or is it nearly impossible to do so?<br /><br />What are your opinions on the subject?
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Re:official moral

Postby klewlis » Mon Sep 15, 2003 5:49 pm

could you be more specific? I'm not sure I know what you mean by "official" morals. Examples?
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Re:official moral

Postby Emma_85 » Mon Sep 15, 2003 6:36 pm

<br />I'm talking about how we nearly always act anywhere public, and that tends to be in a Christian sort of way (help everyone whoever). Charity for example - we send load of aid to countries, which use the food we send to feed their starving people (but the reason they starve is that we send them food, allowing them to spend billions on new war tanks and helicopters to use in war). Of course no one wants them to starve, and so these dictators are being helped to fund a war and everyone knows this. <br />Africa won't be able to get rid of it's problems if people continue to fund their wars... even if it was meant to help the people, not feed the army. The view is: we help wherever we can, it's not our fault if they what happens then. <br /><br />Now that's an example where I think politicians should just at least say that they think this is wrong, because with dictators all around the word see the west as a bunch of nations that give whatever...<br /><br />But no one would ever dare to say thing against giving starving people food, and I think if it was up to me to say give them the food or let them starve (even if in the end just as many would starve as would be killed in war) I would still give them the food. A hard decision....<br /><br />This is an example to show you what I mean, but really I'm talking about day-to-day life as well. Another example: the teachers at my school have to decide who is allowed to stay at my school and who is not at the end of every year. Now if something terrible has happened in someone’s family or something else like that, the teachers all vote that they stay at school, even though they're marks may be really bad. They do this because it's like: we must help in any possible way.<br />The thing is that some teachers don't think that some pupils should be allowed to stay on at school, like if they had bad marks before or just because they say terrible things happen to every one, but other pupils just worked anyway and had an even harder time and it would be unfair towards them. These teachers still vote for them to stay on though in the open vote...
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Re:official moral

Postby Emma_85 » Mon Sep 15, 2003 6:39 pm

Sorry for my grammar and spelling, I'm in a bit of a hurry and I have headace :P
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Re:official moral

Postby klewlis » Mon Sep 15, 2003 6:53 pm

Well, as far as your first example and situations related, I don't think it's a moral issue at all... that is, yes it's good to feed starving people but that is not usually the motive behind our methods and reasons for "helping" poor countries. It is all about politics and economics.. the politicians aren't generally thinking about what is actually *best* for other countries (there are a few noble ones but in general...) but what will help *us* in the long run. It's all very self-serving. We want to help poor countries because they will bring us business... and if that business comes in the form of weapons and wars, so be it... if it comes in more peaceful ways, that's ok too. We just want the money. And SO many politicians are influenced by the rich and powerful citizens and corporations rather than by honest motives. So they turn a blind eye to unfair business practices (sweatshops, et al). On that note I'm glad to see some of the less powerful countries standing up for themselves at the WTO meetings this weekend and forcing the rest of us to pay better attention.<br /><br />As for your second example, I'm unfamiliar with that practice, since we don't do that here. A student doesn't get kicked out unless they really do something bad or really refuse to make any effort. <br /><br />In general I don't have problems with the types of social customs that give the underdog the benefit of the doubt. I'd rather have mercy and compassion than perfect but heartless justice.
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Re:official moral

Postby Emma_85 » Mon Sep 15, 2003 7:49 pm

It's not just the politician, I'm talking about other organisations, too. Like the UN for example or generally any other carities, it's them, too. People ignore the consequences of their actions, and it seems to me it's because they are just unable to do anything that is agains the moral principals of our society. And charity does have something to do with moral, as it's part of our Christian moral beliefs to give as much as we can and love everyone.
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Re:official moral

Postby Emma_85 » Mon Sep 15, 2003 7:54 pm

In general I don't have problems with the types of social customs that give the underdog the benefit of the doubt. I'd rather have mercy and compassion than perfect but heartless justice. <br /><br />What you just said is a perfect example of what our moral system is like and what I'm trying to point out. The thing is that compassion is sometimes harmful or useless if you don't use your brains, too.
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Re:official moral

Postby klewlis » Mon Sep 15, 2003 9:21 pm

[quote author=Emma_85 link=board=13;threadid=645;start=0#6073 date=1063655343]<br />It's not just the politician, I'm talking about other organisations, too. Like the UN for example or generally any other carities, it's them, too. People ignore the consequences of their actions, and it seems to me it's because they are just unable to do anything that is agains the moral principals of our society. And charity does have something to do with moral, as it's part of our Christian moral beliefs to give as much as we can and love everyone. <br />[/quote]<br /><br />That's not necessarily *christian* beliefs... most (all?) religions share the same types of values. <br /><br />I have a great deal of respect for the UN... sure, they make stupid decisions sometimes but I do think they try. When they go out and feed poor countries, and when charities do the same, they are not necessarily ignoring or missing the larger issues at play. They are well aware of the long-term repercussions of funding certain governments, etc, and the US in particular is a potent example of some of these things coming back to bite you later. However, the fact remains that you cannot do anything for a population when they are starving... you cannot educate them or change them or motivate them to work for better government if they are starving and dying in the streets. It's true that sending food is not the final answer... but starving people don't care about politics (unless they're about to revolt) and the millions of AIDS orphans in africa don't give a damn about who is ruling them or why or how... they are looking for food and medicine. Only once those basic needs are met can you start to look at more longterm, beneficial solutions. That's why organizations like World Vision work on not just feeding people but also building communities, providing education, etc... it is a more long-term and healthy vision. <br /><br />As for why we continue to support it, in most cases it is because we feel guilty and need to assuage that in some way. We feel bad that we live so well while others live so poorly, and especially that it is largely our fault that so many others are suffering. So we try to atone for our own lives by sending money and food... and we don't think about anything beyond that immediate gratification.<br /><br />I still don't think it has much to do with any general social morality.... aside from basic human kindness (or guilt, however you want to spin it...)
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Re:official moral

Postby mingshey » Tue Sep 16, 2003 1:51 am

"A mouse driven to the corner will bite the cat" is an old saying in Korea. You might have a similar proverb.<br /><br />Competition is a strong drive for social development. But too harsh a competition would drive the losers to look for another -- usually anti-social -- exit from their miserable situation. So the whole thing is not merely from sympathy, but also from a kind of social intelligence. Sympathy may be, to say, kind of motivation for individuals to serve the social need to reduce the potential crime rate. But I won't say it is intended to be that on purpose. You might say it's the result of social evolution, or whatever.
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Re:official moral

Postby Keesa » Tue Sep 16, 2003 12:31 pm

I used to be a volunteer for an organization here in Alabama called SIFAT, Servants in Faith and Technology. They were a missionary organization, but they had two favorite sayings; first, that a starving belly has no ears, and second, the old saying "Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day; teach him to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime." SIFAT trains missionaries in "Appropriate Technologies," so that the people can learn to feed themselves, rather than relying on handouts. They have invented things like rope-and-washer pumps, solar cookers made from local trash...many, many other things, all that can be made easily and inexpensively, often from junk, and they teach the people in third-world countries how to make them, even how to sell them, so that a family can start a small business, if they want to. And while they work, they share their message. It's a wonderful concept, I think-teaching people to help themselves. <br /><br />Keesa
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Re:official moral

Postby Keesa » Tue Sep 16, 2003 12:35 pm

Here's a link that explains Appropriate Technologies much better than I can. <br /><br />http://www.cjpeters.com/ATSTUFF/at.htm<br /><br />So, you see, not everyone just goes around handing things out, regardless of what's best for the people. There is hope! :)<br /><br />Keesa
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Re:official moral

Postby Bert » Wed Sep 17, 2003 12:27 am

[quote author=klewlis link=board=13;threadid=645;start=0#6080 date=1063660874]<br /> As for why we continue to support it, in most cases it is because we feel guilty and need to assuage that in some way. We feel bad that we live so well while others live so poorly, and especially that it is largely our fault that so many others are suffering. So we try to atone for our own lives by sending money and food... and we don't think about anything beyond that immediate gratification.<br /><br />I don't think I understand you. What do you mean by continue to support it. It being what. Both types of organizations are helpful but in different circumstances.<br />Emergency relief generally is of the 'feed a man a fish' variety, while continued help should concentrate on 'teaching the man to fish'. I don't think I should have to second guess the motives of the people running the organizations that I support.<br />I also don't think we have to feel guilty for living so well.<br />Us living in poverty is not going to help them either.<br />We should feel thankfull for what we have, and be willing to use it for the benefit of others (and not in order to receive immediate gratification).<br /><br />I still don't think it has much to do with any general social morality.... aside from basic human kindness (or guilt, however you want to spin it...)<br /><br />However you want to spin it? You don't mean that they refer to the same thing do you?<br />[/quote]
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Re:official moral

Postby klewlis » Wed Sep 17, 2003 2:38 am

sorry, I may not have been as clear as I should be... so tired and life is wild right now! <br /><br />What I meant was the people's motives in supporting charities is generally mixed... even the motives of charities themselves are mixed... there are many genuine charities and genuine givers... but there are also those who do it for less than honorable reasons.<br /><br />I agree with you that we do not need to feel guilty about living well. I'm not sure how to explain the sense of what I'm thinking... there is this underlying feeling in western society that we need to be helping the poor (maybe this *is* emma's "social morality") because we are better off... and so often our way of life instead directly or indirectly harms others... and so we feel the need to do something about it... whether those motives are pure and honorable is for each person to figure out. But I think that in many cases we give a fish because it's a quick and easy way to feel like we've done our duty, without really making a sacrifice. I can send $33/month to world vision and say, "there, I've done my part for social justice" and leave it at that. It is easy, cheap, and non-sacrificial, but it makes me feel nice that I've done something. Thankfully many of these organizations go the extra mile on the money we send, so it's not wasted. <br /><br />Does that make more sense? It springs from my frustration at world injustice and how entangled my way of life is with the pain of others. I can hardly shop at walmart or buy mutual funds or drink coffee without someone, somewhere suffering for it... and there's nothing I can do about that and no easy answer. And fortunately awareness of such things is growing and certain businesses are being called into account for their business practices, but there is still so much more to be done. I do struggle with how easy my life is, when I go and hang out with street kids and see how *their* lives are, and the things they deal with every day. Where is the justice? And as a Christian I have to ask God some of these tough questions and trust that the scales do balance in the end. <br /><br />Maybe *I* am the one assuaging my guilt... although I hope my motives are more pure than that ;)<br /><br />Sorry if that's off topic... I'm just rambling :)
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Re:official moral

Postby Bert » Wed Sep 17, 2003 10:21 am

Right. Your rambling clarified it.Thanks
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Re:official moral

Postby Hamilton » Sat Sep 20, 2003 4:42 am

Natural Law is a useful starting point for these type of discussions.
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Re:official moral

Postby Emma_85 » Sat Sep 20, 2003 11:43 am

I'm not entirely sure I understand you, Hamilton. It is not natural for people to care for others they've never seen or met before in their lives. Take a look at Greece... they didn't got to a lot of bother to just help any foreigners, until Alexander came along and suddenly they no longer lived in just one polis, but in a small part of a huge empire. Even though the empire didn't outlast his death, the impact it had on the minds of people was still incredible. That was the start of cosmopolitan thinking in Greece, and also of this idea, which Christianity took up, to love and help everyone, whoever or wherever they are, not just the people you know and not just your city.
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Re:official moral

Postby Hamilton » Sat Sep 20, 2003 12:19 pm

Have you read Greek Ways by Bruce Thornton? Natural Law itself is a fascinating study. While it has traditionally been considered an RC thing, there are several non-Catholics working in Natural Law today.<br /><br />I disagree with your assertions about the Greeks and strangers. I believe that Bernard Knox's intros to Fagles' translations of the Iliad and Odyssey, as well as M.I. Finley's World of Odysseus have a different synopsis of the Greeks and strangers.<br /><br />I've read Victor Davis Hanson's works on Alexander and I believe that Alexander was a homicidal maniac who bastardized Greek Ways in service of theocratic Macedonian aims.<br /><br />I'm feeling pretty peppy today, as you can tell.
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Re:official moral

Postby Emma_85 » Sat Sep 20, 2003 12:26 pm

I don't think Alexander was 'great' in that way, but it was certainly through his empire that people first started to think of themselves as people of the kosmos and not just of their polis.
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Re:official moral

Postby klewlis » Sat Sep 20, 2003 2:49 pm

<br />It is not natural for people to care for others they've never seen or met before in their lives.
<br /><br />It may not seem natural at first glance. However, I was recently reading about mini-societies with which some sociologists have been experimenting via computers--ie, creating tiny programs to interact in simplified societies like little people. The experiments continually show that at higher levels of evolution, it does prove beneficial for an organism to cooperate with and help other organisms even though they may not seem directly connected... this is because it benefits the society as a whole and therefore the various individuals.<br /><br />Of course, this was all done by computer and not by any real life study of people, and I do question the unquestioned authority of computers in matters of humanity. ;)
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Re:official moral

Postby Emma_85 » Sat Sep 20, 2003 3:03 pm

The thing is that our human mind is not made for thinking big. We can imagine what the consequences of our actions will be, but only on a small scale. We wouldn't be so stupid with our resources or the environment if we could just realise what we're doing, even though we know for sure that someone will be cross with us if we don't keep a promise. The things we do that will affect humanity in the long run or the country or the world as a whole... it's something our mind can't handle, thinking big like that. <br />Small circles, small timescales that's where our brain does it's job right. So of course humans help each other for the good of the community, but for example only the good of the family or town, not for the good of the whole race. It's something we're not capable of doing naturally, only something that we do, when we take time to think about things.
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Re:official moral

Postby klewlis » Sat Sep 20, 2003 4:31 pm

again, it's a matter of evolutionary status. We *are* capable of seeing the big picture... but even when we are not, our instincts are to protect the race. We *are* changing for the better in regards to environment and such, or at least trying to. The hindrance is big corporations and their so-called "globalization", who act in the interests of a few people rather than the betterment of race. But that is another story ;)
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Re:official moral

Postby Emma_85 » Sat Sep 20, 2003 5:08 pm

No, that's not true, it's not just big cooporations. If we really cared we wouldn't use the car, but mass transit, we would by in the expensive health food shops and fair trade shops, and wouldn't buy shoes and jeans that are made in places like Bangladesh and so on....
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Re:official moral

Postby klewlis » Sat Sep 20, 2003 6:45 pm

[quote author=Emma_85 link=board=13;threadid=645;start=15#6344 date=1064077710]<br />No, that's not true, it's not just big cooporations. If we really cared we wouldn't use the car, but mass transit, we would by in the expensive health food shops and fair trade shops, and wouldn't buy shoes and jeans that are made in places like Bangladesh and so on....<br />[/quote]<br /><br />But there are many of us who *do* those things that you mention. I do my best to buy clothing that I know is made fairly (such as New Balance shoes and clothing made in Canada). I eat healthy food and shop at the local farmer's market for fresh food. I support local and canadian businesses whenever possible and avoid abusive giant stores like walmart. When I finally get enough money to buy a new car, I plan to buy a hybrid that uses part electricity and therefore less gas (or a diesel that can be converted to bio-diesel...hmm.... ). <br /><br />And I know plenty of other people who feel and do the same.
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Re:official moral

Postby annis » Sat Sep 20, 2003 7:18 pm

There are several subtly different threads going through this conversation right now, and I'd like to touch on them lightly.<br /><br />First, evolution works at the level of the individual. There are no "instincts to protect the race." Most recent books on evolution will discuss this misconception. I tried to find a quick, short web reference but was unable.<br /><br />Next, oikeosis is the term the Stoics used to describe the development of ethics starting from oneself, to the family, the city, the state and finally to the world. In Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism Martha Nussbaum discusses this idea in depth, with an aim to show that patriotism subverts ethics.<br /><br />Finally, on the subject of environmental awareness, we have a giant problem with this in the United States, and since the US is the largest economy in the world this problem is spread across the planet. The problem is that something like 40% of U.S. citizens identify as evangelical Christian of some sort. Many, many of them - and this includes the people they vote into office - feel that even if the End isn't imminent, the countdown has certainly begun. Thus, there's no reason to worry about the environment because the problem will cease to exist within this or the next generation.<br />
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Re:official moral

Postby Emma_85 » Sat Sep 20, 2003 8:29 pm

I'm not as optimistic as you are...<br />Things are getting worse, and even if they do get better in the US, there'd India and China to think of... <br /><br />klewlis, eventhough you may know many people who do care, I do to, when you think of it in terms of the gerneral public, you'll find hardly anyone cares. Most people don't care you know, or if they do, then in a strang sort of way. They say they do, but think they can't do anything against all that anyway and just don't think on it anymore. <br /><br />As to the evolution of altruism there are several different theories at the moment. I wouldn't rule out anyone, just because it's not the favoured one right now. Just think about the problems evolutionary biologists are having working out mortality...
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Re:official moral

Postby benissimus » Sat Sep 20, 2003 10:32 pm

Well, I think that the mere fact that there are examples of people who go out of their way to try to lessen an impending problem disproves your theory that human beings are incapable of seeing "the big picture".
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Re:official moral

Postby klewlis » Sun Sep 21, 2003 12:23 am

[quote author=benissimus link=board=13;threadid=645;start=15#6362 date=1064097132]<br />Well, I think that the mere fact that there are examples of people who go out of their way to try to lessen an impending problem disproves your theory that human beings are incapable of seeing "the big picture".<br />[/quote]<br /><br />I agree. The fact that we can even ask this question says that we are able to see past ourselves to the larger context of our actions. The masses may not be catching on yet, but that is because we are generally blinded by other motives. If we could disjoin ourselves from our techno-frenzy long enough to look around at its effects, we would see things much differently!
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Re:official moral

Postby Hamilton » Sun Sep 21, 2003 12:47 am

Martha Nussbaum...Patriotism subverts Ethics
<br /><br />This is twaddle. Given that the Founding Fathers were all classically trained, I find the statement that Patriotism subverts Ethics just more Trojan Horse leftism, masquerading as illumination.
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Re:official moral

Postby annis » Sun Sep 21, 2003 1:08 am

[quote author=Hamilton link=board=13;threadid=645;start=15#6366 date=1064105227]<br />
Martha Nussbaum...Patriotism subverts Ethics
<br /><br />This is twaddle.<br />[/quote]<br /><br />Would you perhaps care to justify that with a solid argument?<br /><br />
Given that the Founding Fathers were all classically trained, I find the statement that Patriotism subverts Ethics just more Trojan Horse leftism, masquerading as illumination.<br />
<br /><br />Unless I missed their apotheosis, I fail to see how the education of the Founding Fathers is relevant to the ethical status of patriotism.<br />
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Re:official moral

Postby Hamilton » Sun Sep 21, 2003 2:27 pm

Certainly! But first I have to test the waters to see if there is anyone interested in crossing swords. Rhetorically speaking of course.<br /><br />And there is!<br /><br />So, to begin, with definitions as Socrates would insist:<br /><br />(1) Patriotism<br />(2) Ethics.<br /><br />OED satisfactory?
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Re:official moral

Postby Emma_85 » Sun Sep 21, 2003 2:34 pm

*fetches a bag of popcorn* ;)
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Re:official moral

Postby annis » Sun Sep 21, 2003 2:53 pm

[quote author=Hamilton link=board=13;threadid=645;start=15#6388 date=1064154467]<br />Certainly! But first I have to test the waters to see if there is anyone interested in crossing swords. Rhetorically speaking of course.<br />[/quote]<br /><br />Certainly. Just keep in mind that my sword strokes will take rather longer during the work week.<br /><br />
<br />So, to begin, with definitions as Socrates would insist:<br /><br />(1) Patriotism<br />(2) Ethics.<br /><br />OED satisfactory?<br />
<br /><br />It is start, though I hope you don't plan to haul up the full histories of these words in English.<br /><br />My suspicion is that "subvert" is going to be the difficult point.<br />
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Re:official moral

Postby Emma_85 » Sun Sep 21, 2003 3:14 pm

You could just use the Oxford dictionary difinitions, that'll save you some time.
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Re:official moral

Postby Hamilton » Sun Sep 21, 2003 4:04 pm

Agreed. During the week I will be "Socrates light", if at all. I was going to use a tiny $9.95 OED, without going into all the etymological niceties.<br /><br />Viewing your website, I'm sure that would be a fascinating digression, but, I don't believe, necessary to the argument.<br /><br />Since I am the fellow who asserts, without proof, that atheism v theism or theology or philosophy can be debated with level heads, then it seems the best way to proceed is with a prototype discussion.<br /><br />For a ready reference I will be using Sister Miriam Joseph's recently reissued THE TRIVIUM, available from Paul Dry books http://www.pauldrybooks.com
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Re:official moral

Postby Emma_85 » Tue Sep 23, 2003 3:12 pm

Oh, I just re-read my post, no wonder no one has any idea what I mean :-\<br /><br />I'll try again ;) <br /><br />In Christianity there is one main principal that stands above everything else - love. Now this is something totally different to the one that was highest and most important in the ancient world - justice. Now these two do not exclude one another, though it is often the case that you often cannot be fair while following the Christian pricipal.<br />Now of course I'm not saying justice should be really ridged and strict and you should never stray from it, because there are cases (very few but they do exist), when it really is necessary to ignore it, but I think it should really be the main principal. And with justice you do have a certain 'space' in which to operate. Like it's different if a small child throws a tantrum and kicks you or if a sober grown up does.
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Re:official moral

Postby klewlis » Tue Sep 23, 2003 4:25 pm

[quote author=Emma_85 link=board=13;threadid=645;start=30#6560 date=1064329934]<br />In Christianity there is one main principal that stands above everything else - love. Now this is something totally different to the one that was highest and most important in the ancient world - justice. Now these two do not exclude one another, though it is often the case that you often cannot be fair while following the Christian pricipal.<br />Now of course I'm not saying justice should be really ridged and strict and you should never stray from it, because there are cases (very few but they do exist), when it really is necessary to ignore it, but I think it should really be the main principal. And with justice you do have a certain 'space' in which to operate. Like it's different if a small child throws a tantrum and kicks you or if a sober grown up does. <br />[/quote]<br /><br />That's a very interesting concept. I have a couple of thoughts (by no means comprehensive):<br /><br />- a system based on justice would *have* to be balanced by a sense of mercy, or it would become rigid and legalistic<br />- it would have to include justice for *all* people, whereas roman justice was only for roman citizens<br />- it would be really tough to find some objective standard of justice that applies to everyone. on what would it be based? how do you define "justice" without using religion or secular humanism as a basis? <br /><br />-yes it's true that christianity focuses on love... however, we sometimes forget a very clear biblical fact which should be kept in mind at all times as well: the God of the Bible focuses quite a lot on justice and is a just God... and the work of Christ was in fact not just about love, but ultimate justice and ultimate mercy coming together into one act--and only through the culmination of both of those things is a righteous God satisfied.<br /><br />
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Re:official moral

Postby Emma_85 » Tue Sep 23, 2003 8:21 pm

On the subject of love in Christianity I suggest you read up on Augustinus. Now he must be one of the most important people in Christian history. His ideas had a great influence and without them I think Christianity might not even have survived all this time. Even though I'm not religious (that means I don't agree with anything he has to say really), I do think that he was a very intelligent man, and that any Christian should at least listen to what he has to say, as he really knew what he was talking about. <br />Let me give you an example (something for William here): The Stoics were all about justice as the highest principal, and thought that forgiveness was letting someone off, when really he deserved punishment. They say you must always punish someone, who is guilty, but should do so moderately. There's a difference...<br />Now I don't agree with the Stoics in many things, and as I also said above, think that sometimes you just have to put other things in front of justice, but I do think the general direction should be justice.<br />As to what this justice should be... well that is a more difficult question. Because it can't be just the laws, the whole society would have to have a common sense of what's right and wrong. Now I don't think you need religion for that. You can easily explain to people why some things are wrong or right, as they are not just random, there is always a reason and it doesn't have to be: 'Just do this or you'll have to suffer endless pain in Hell in your afterlife', if you know what I mean (that's a threat not a reason).
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Re:official moral

Postby klewlis » Tue Sep 23, 2003 8:50 pm

but there has to be some standard by which we judge what is "just" and "good" as opposed to what is "bad". christian morality is based on the nature of God, not on going to hell--love is good because God is loving and good... justice is good because God is just...lying and murder are bad because God is Truth and Life... etc. <br /><br />without a religious basis for such a thing, what basis do we have? nature has no morality in itself... animals kill each other based on whether or not they are hungry or threatened or whatever. There is no "right" and "wrong", only the instinct to survive. And if we try to go by people's "common sense" or instinct, we will get wildly different results... some cultures consider human sacrifice to be good and just, some don't... and there are so many things that we consider normal and natural, but that are really just cultural. So should our cultural climate determine what is justice? Even then, we will have problems, since that is constantly fluctuating and diverse. <br /><br />So how should it be done?<br /><br />By the way, I have read Augustine's Confessions, though not any of his other theological works. While I agree that he was a key player in the early church, he was certainly not the *only* one... and the church definitely would have survived with or without him... but he did help a lot ;) Remember that he only came along in the fourth century, by which time Christianity was already widely spread and developing its future directions.
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Re:official moral

Postby Emma_85 » Tue Sep 23, 2003 9:15 pm

That's what I've been trying to explain... you don't need God to say what is good or bad. Do you honestly think I go around killing people or that I'm an immoral person? Or that I am and do so because of a God I don't believe in? Common sense, which our parents and the society we live in teaches us, tells us that we can't go around killing people. You don't need a God to know that it's wrong. There are good reasons why we shouldn't do so, better ones than just because God doesn't want us to do it. <br />Quite a lot of the Soviet Union was all atheist. They still have moral values and don't go around killing each other like wild animals. <br />Now murder is an extrem example, of course, but believe me, you don't need the Church to teach people moral values.<br /><br />Now human sacrifices are nothing anyone could think of as right, only if you believe that in doing so you serve a God or some other high deity can you believe that. There would still be differences from culture to culture, but they would be smaller ones. Not human sacrifices or not type of things.<br />
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Re:official moral

Postby annis » Tue Sep 23, 2003 9:47 pm

[quote author=klewlis link=board=13;threadid=645;start=30#6586 date=1064350239]<br />without a religious basis for such a thing, what basis do we have? nature has no morality in itself... animals kill each other based on whether or not they are hungry or threatened or whatever. There is no "right" and "wrong", only the instinct to survive. And if we try to go by people's "common sense" or instinct, we will get wildly different results...[/quote]<br /><br />On the contrary, there are quite a few systems of ethics which make no recourse to the supernatural. They rely on reason rather than common sense, though some may make reference to that. Some are more successful than others of course. :) It is true that these don't compel ethical behavior in the same way a threat of eternal agony does, but they offer very sound reasons to a thinking person about why he or she might choose to be moral.<br /><br />In "A New Stoicism" Lawrence Becker makes a very interesting argument in favor of cultivating virtue which drops the the Late Stoic view that the universe was a purposive being (God, Zeus, etc.) but at the same time makes an argument for virtue that reflects the history of Greek philosophical thinking on the subject.<br /><br />The word usually translated "virtue" into English (via Latin) is in Greek [face=SPIonic]a)reth/[/face] arete, which is usually best translated "excellence."<br /><br />Becker, like the old Stoics, makes the cultivation of arete central to ethics. Unfortunately I've still not completely unpacked my books, so my copy of Becker isn't handy. Jan Garrett has a quick overview of the argument at his web site: http://www.wku.edu/~jan.garrett/stoa/sbeckr1.htm. Unfortunately, this list assumes you have already read other parts of the book.<br /><br />I believe utilitarianism argues for ethics in the complete absence of reference to a god, but I don't really know much about that.
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