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Re:official moral

Postby klewlis » Tue Sep 23, 2003 10:23 pm

emma, I know what you are trying to say, but I am arguing that you cannot find an objective standard to morality without basing it on *something*. And I don't see anything to base it on aside from the nature of God (more on that in a minute). <br /><br />You say it's common sense that murder is wrong. But it's *not*. How many african and south american indigenous tribes would disagree with you? Murder is ok in some cultures and in some contexts. Even in western "developed" society, murder is ok if you call it capital punishment or self defense... but only if your particular government says it's ok. It's *all* cultural without an objective standard. Don't assume that what you think is common sense morality really is outside of your cultural borders. This is a big, big world with so many different kinds of people and they will each give you a different definition of common sense morality. <br /><br />So back to other standards on which to base "justice" and morality. William says that reason is one source. But whose reason? On what premises? Sure I can logically think, "ok, it's better not to murder people because... " and come up with lots of reasons, but I can also logically (and heartlessly) say, "Murder of certain types of individuals in society can be beneficial for the group as a whole..." and get right into communism et al. So what's most important? Myself? The group? The general dignity of humanity? If so, why should I care about the general dignity of humanity, or the survival of the group? What are the premises to a "rationally" based morality?<br /><br />The answers to *all* of these questions will be embedded in one's worldview, and therefore could never be agreed upon by everyone without some objective standard.
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Re:official moral

Postby benissimus » Tue Sep 23, 2003 10:33 pm

I think you are replacing morals with religion. It is entirely possible to have a philosophy that is not reliant on any god for its moral guidelines. Rather than having God as a standard, you can have your common beliefs as a standard for behavior. Even within Christianity, God is not where the morals come from. Nobody actually receives direct communication from God, it is all in the Scripture. The Scriptures are more or less instructions and demonstrations of what is right and wrong, and the consequences for each. Even Christianity sets people's common belief in the Bible's teachings as a moral basis and not God himself.
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Re:official moral

Postby annis » Tue Sep 23, 2003 11:13 pm

[quote author=klewlis link=board=13;threadid=645;start=30#6603 date=1064355784]<br />You say it's common sense that murder is wrong. But it's *not*. How many african and south american indigenous tribes would disagree with you? Murder is ok in some cultures and in some contexts.[/quote]<br /><br />It is not.<br /><br />The sorts of situations you are describing (I assume - a wide brush has been used here) can probably all fall under the heading of "retribution" whether this be the killing of someone who has committed some crime against them (or perceived to be a crime) or a war. There is a difference between rational and rationalizing.<br /><br />I doubt very much we could find a culture that would agree that walking up to a total stranger and throttling them is OK. If the complete stranger is perceived as belonging to some hostile group, then the throttling will be thought of as vengance or self-defence, not murder.<br /><br />Until recently I harbored a pretty strong hostility to philosophy. This turns out to have been a serious mistake, so please do not take my arguments in favor of a rational, non-supernatural ethics as the best case for them. Many a college ethics class will cover them, and there are plenty of books on the topic, too.
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Re:official moral

Postby klewlis » Wed Sep 24, 2003 2:14 am

[quote author=benissimus link=board=13;threadid=645;start=30#6605 date=1064356410]<br />I think you are replacing morals with religion. It is entirely possible to have a philosophy that is not reliant on any god for its moral guidelines. Rather than having God as a standard, you can have your common beliefs as a standard for behavior. Even within Christianity, God is not where the morals come from. Nobody actually receives direct communication from God, it is all in the Scripture. The Scriptures are more or less instructions and demonstrations of what is right and wrong, and the consequences for each. Even Christianity sets people's common belief in the Bible's teachings as a moral basis and not God himself.<br />[/quote]<br /><br />Perhaps. I am not convinced, and will need some examples of "rational", coherent and consistent ethical philosophies that are based on completely natural premises and which can apply to everyone. :)<br /><br />as for Christian morality, well yes it is based on Biblical teachings but those teachings explicitly state the nature of God as the basis for morality (I can give examples if you like). <br />
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Re:official moral

Postby Hamilton » Wed Sep 24, 2003 2:32 am

Greetings everyone,<br /><br />The best online free resource to moderate metaphysical realism is Mortimer Adler's partner Jonathan Dennehy's http://www.radicalacademy.com<br /><br />I think that folks are confusing Moral Philosophy with Moral Theology and misconstruing the doctrines of heaven, hell and purgatory.<br /><br />It would be best to unpack them. Discussing heaven, hell and purgatory before establishing the immortality of the soul won't get anyone very far.<br /><br />Incidentally, the word translated "Love" from the New Testament is the Greek agape -- roughly equivalent to Charity in English. There are 4 Greek words for love -- written up splendidly by CS in his book called The Four Loves.
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Re:official moral

Postby Emma_85 » Fri Sep 26, 2003 1:46 pm

[quote author=klewlis link=board=13;threadid=645;start=30#6660 date=1064369699]<br /><br />Perhaps. I am not convinced, and will need some examples of "rational", coherent and consistent ethical philosophies that are based on completely natural premises and which can apply to everyone. :)<br /><br />as for Christian morality, well yes it is based on Biblical teachings but those teachings explicitly state the nature of God as the basis for morality (I can give examples if you like). <br /><br />[/quote]<br /><br /><br />That's what philosophy is all about... trying not to lean on tradition and (religious) customs. If all they did was say that their religion was the answer, then they'd be priests and not philosophers. So really you can read any philosopher, who deserves that name, and find that they all tried to develop their principals on natural premises (or at least they thought, that was what they were doing).
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Re:official moral

Postby annis » Fri Sep 26, 2003 2:22 pm

[quote author=Emma_85 link=board=13;threadid=645;start=45#6937 date=1064583977]<br /><br />That's what philosophy is all about... trying not to lean on tradition and (religious) customs. If all they did was say that their religion was the answer, then they'd be priests and not philosophers. So really you can read any philosopher, who deserves that name, and find that they all tried to develop their principals on natural premises (or at least they thought, that was what they were doing).<br />[/quote]<br /><br />It is also important not to assume that just because some philosophers accept the existance of god (variously defined) that they base ethics on that. On the contrary, both Aristotle and Epicurus thought god did exist, but that it was completely impersonal and had no role in human life except perhaps as a model of bliss in the Epicurean case. If I recall correctly, Aristotle wasn't sure if god, busy as it is contemplating its own perfection, even notices we exist!
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Re:official moral

Postby klewlis » Fri Sep 26, 2003 3:08 pm

[quote author=Emma_85 link=board=13;threadid=645;start=45#6937 date=1064583977]<br />That's what philosophy is all about... trying not to lean on tradition and (religious) customs. If all they did was say that their religion was the answer, then they'd be priests and not philosophers. So really you can read any philosopher, who deserves that name, and find that they all tried to develop their principals on natural premises (or at least they thought, that was what they were doing).<br />[/quote]<br /><br />This is coming from a very *modern* worldview. It has not always been thus. The ancient philosophers were steeped in their own worldviews, and even Descartes would have come to different conclusions had he not already been a theist. It's only modern, western society which tries its hardest to cut itself off from its own history and tradition--to its own demise.<br /><br />Guess what? Tradition is not bad, nor is factoring it into your decisions. *Every* philosopher, no matter how hard he/she may try, starts with certain assumptions that are inextricably tied to his worldview, and there is no escaping that.
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Re:official moral

Postby klewlis » Fri Sep 26, 2003 3:11 pm

[quote author=William Annis link=board=13;threadid=645;start=45#6942 date=1064586165]<br />It is also important not to assume that just because some philosophers accept the existance of god (variously defined) that they base ethics on that. On the contrary, both Aristotle and Epicurus thought god did exist, but that it was completely impersonal and had no role in human life except perhaps as a model of bliss in the Epicurean case. If I recall correctly, Aristotle wasn't sure if god, busy as it is contemplating its own perfection, even notices we exist!<br />[/quote]<br /><br />I don't think anyone here is in danger of this assumption. I have carefully kept deism in the back of my mind throughout ;)
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Re:official moral

Postby Emma_85 » Fri Sep 26, 2003 3:36 pm

We are all influenced by the society we grow up in. Even today in this modern world... as were the ancient philosophers. <br />In order to think objectively (as much as is possible for a human) we must try and distance ourselves from our traditions and our upbringing, as philosophers that is. As members of a society it's a different thing all together. Though I would definitely not say that our culture is in demise because we no longer live in a society that values tradition very highly. <br />In fact I don't think I could stand living in such an oppressive society. Although it's sad to see some old traditions go, I would be terrible if some hadn't gone (traditionally a woman's place is in the kitchen...). <br /><br />You must also remember that philosophers used to have to accept the supremacy of the church or face a painful death. Now I'm not saying they were all atheists, but they couldn't just go around saying god didn't exist in a big style. Anyway, as William already pointed out, even if they did believe in God, that doesn't mean that they tried to base their ethics on God. Take Kant for example... he believed in God, and yet his ethics model has nothing to do with God.
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Re:official moral

Postby klewlis » Fri Sep 26, 2003 4:33 pm

[quote author=Emma_85 link=board=13;threadid=645;start=45#6950 date=1064590601]<br />We are all influenced by the society we grow up in. Even today in this modern world... as were the ancient philosophers. <br />In order to think objectively (as much as is possible for a human) we must try and distance ourselves from our traditions and our upbringing, as philosophers that is. [/quote]<br /><br /><br />The obsession with "objectivity" is itself a modern creation. Even if it were possible to be objective (and I don't believe that it is), what purpose does it serve? What is the value? <br /><br /><br />
<br />As members of a society it's a different thing all together. Though I would definitely not say that our culture is in demise because we no longer live in a society that values tradition very highly. <br />
<br /><br />Be careful here--history is circular and already we see the beginnings of a return to tradition and history as we become disillusioned by modernity. Hence all these young people wanting to study classics, a change which is especially noticeable in North America where the classics have been in dire straits--we are now seeing revival of classical methods of education. We are also seeing more people drawn to orthodox religion, which in itself is a fascinating shift. <br /><br />
<br />In fact I don't think I could stand living in such an oppressive society. Although it's sad to see some old traditions go, I would be terrible if some hadn't gone (traditionally a woman's place is in the kitchen...). <br />
<br /><br />Are you equating tradition with oppression??? Wow... I don't think I have anything to say to that. <br /><br />
<br />You must also remember that philosophers used to have to accept the supremacy of the church or face a painful death. Now I'm not saying they were all atheists, but they couldn't just go around saying god didn't exist in a big style. Anyway, as William already pointed out, even if they did believe in God, that doesn't mean that they tried to base their ethics on God. Take Kant for example... he believed in God, and yet his ethics model has nothing to do with God.
<br /><br /><br />Again, atheistic philosophy is a relatively new thing. As we all know, the ancients were mainly polytheistic, and until the so-called "enlightenment", western philosophy was always more or less monotheistic--whether or not ethics was based on their theism is another question.<br /><br />Don't get too comfortable with modern philosophy... it is already on its way out ;)<br />
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Re:official moral

Postby Emma_85 » Fri Sep 26, 2003 4:54 pm

I prefer physics to philosophy, but anyway...<br /><br />Not all traditions are oppressive, but quite a lot were. So yes, I suppose I do think that traditions are a form of oppression. Just think back in history a 100 years or so. People hated culture and often longed to live in the middle of nowhere to get away from it. There was quite a lot of culture scpetism around. Nowadays that has all but vanished - because our culture is an open one, which is no longer oppressive and I am very glad that this is so. <br /><br />And I don't think people study classics because they liked the ancient traditions or because it's a traditional American subject. It's more to do with history, wanting to understand what life was like then, what thoughts they had then and so on.<br /><br />And do you really think that Plato or Aristotle were polytheists?
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Re:official moral

Postby annis » Fri Sep 26, 2003 5:02 pm

It's only modern, western society which tries its hardest to<br />cut itself off from its own history and tradition--to its own<br />demise.
<br /><br />Demise? Are we demising? I hadn't noticed.<br /><br />I realize this is a very common view - I succumb to it myself on some<br />days - but I'm not sure it's justified. Moralists have been decrying<br />the moral state of contemporary society for as long as people have<br />recorded their complaints. This is doubtless justified. Humans<br />aren't perfect, and improvement is always possible, and very possibly<br />always advised. But the idea that each generation has been uniquely<br />depraved is also a common complaint, and this I feel is less justified<br />most of the time. I don't believe in Golden Ages. Not in a million<br />years would I choose to live in the time of Homer, or of Christ, or of<br />the Buddha, or indeed any other past age. (Of course, brief visits to<br />satisfy linguistic curiosity would be more than welcome. :) )<br /><br />But much of the history of western society is about crisis-driven<br />renewal. The fundamental idea of Christianity is quite explicitly a<br />radical break from the past: a new covenant for all, ending in the<br />total annihilation of this bad world and the construction of a new,<br />just, humane world. This idea has driven so much intellectual and<br />political history of the west: peasant movements in the middle ages,<br />the foundation of religious orders, the reformation and<br />counter-reformation which had such vast political impact. Many<br />political movements from the 1700s until now on are framed in<br />chiliastic terms.<br /><br />Even Marxism, though shorn of specific religious reference, is clearly<br />of Judeo-Christian parentage: an ever more evil world run by depraved<br />oppressors leading to a time of terrible persecution followed by a<br />historically inevitable vast and bloody battle between Good<br />(workers) and Evil (capitalists), in which Evil will necessarily be<br />vanquished and after which the Good live in a new, just world free of<br />suffering and oppression.<br /><br />Even certain branches of environmentalism frame their warnings in<br />apocalyptic terms, but have opened their definition of the Elect to<br />all life on earth, not merely humans, and more radical conceptions<br />omit humans from the elect entirely. But the catastrophism is<br />basically the same, including a tendency to contemplate the suffering<br />of the non-elect with unseemly relish.<br /><br />But there's nothing uniquely modern about people trying to break with<br />the past. Everyone who has lived with injustice probably wants to<br />break with the past.<br /><br />
Guess what? Tradition is not bad,
<br /><br />Nor is there any reason to insist it is necessarily good.<br /><br />As you say, each generation is influenced deeply by the culture and<br />traditions into which it is born. I freely admit that I accept one<br />cultural idea from the Western tradition which owes its origin to<br />religious beliefs and that is this:<br /><br />Progress is possible. Humanity can, through its own toil and<br />good-faith effort, improve itself.<br /><br />Please note that I take this to mean that progress will always be<br />possible as long as there are humans around to worry about things. I<br />would not dare to suggest that we've got everything right in 2003, or<br />even that we'll have everything right in 3003. For 1000s of years<br />slavery was acceptable to most people. Until not too long ago<br />citizens of the United States voted for pro-slavery presidents. Most<br />would not, I suspect, do so in the 2004 election if such a candidate<br />becomes available.<br /><br />Some traditions are awful. I've been in parts of Texas where instead<br />of saying "thank you" to someone for passing the salt they say "mighty<br />white of you." I was stunned the first time I heard that, and<br />apparently my facial expression was quite the thing. I didn't have to<br />say anything. The face I made was enough to get the person I was<br />dining with to actually think about what he'd just said, for<br />the first time in his life.<br /><br />As part of humanity's long-term project of self-improvement, every<br />generation is going to challenge some traditions. Some will be<br />accepted. Some will be discarded, including some many people hold<br />dear. Traditions are part of our history, and should certainly be<br />included in deliberations about Life, the Universe and Everything - it<br />let's us see where people have gone before - but there's no reason to<br />give it any unique status in our deliberations.<br />
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Re:official moral

Postby annis » Fri Sep 26, 2003 5:16 pm

[quote author=klewlis link=board=13;threadid=645;start=45#6957 date=1064594009]<br /><br />The obsession with "objectivity" is itself a modern creation. Even if it were possible to be objective (and I don't believe that it is), what purpose does it serve? What is the value? <br />[/quote]<br /><br />So is a modern doctor's obsession with preventing death from a perfectly controllable pneumonia. I don't see how a modern obsession is immediately suspect in ways other sorts of obsessions are not.<br /><br />The purpose is to help us keep in mind our own disposition to see the world in the way we're used to seeing it. I don't believe a perfect objectivity is possible, but as a goad to viewing the world as it really is - and not the way we want it - is a good way to counteract our own prejudices. Does it always work? Clearly not. Is it still a positive ethical goal? Yes.<br /><br />
Be careful here--history is circular and already we see the beginnings of a return to tradition and history as we become disillusioned by modernity. Hence all these young people wanting to study classics, a change which is especially noticeable in North America where the classics have been in dire straits--we are now seeing revival of classical methods of education. We are also seeing more people drawn to orthodox religion, which in itself is a fascinating shift.<br /><br /><snip><br /><br />Don't get too comfortable with modern philosophy... it is already on its way out ;)
<br /><br />Are you actually suggesting that the number of people who believe something changes the truth?<br /><br />Between this contigent view of reality and the disbelief in objectivity I suddenly find I have to confront the idea the post-modernism has made its way to church. <br /><br />Please say it ain't so! :o
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Re:official moral

Postby Emma_85 » Fri Sep 26, 2003 5:54 pm

I agree with you William, and I too hope that postmodernism isn't sitting in church and praying.
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Re:official moral

Postby Hamilton » Sat Sep 27, 2003 3:17 am

Even Marxism, though shorn of specific religious reference, is clearly<br />of Judeo-Christian parentage: an ever more evil world run by depraved<br />oppressors leading to a time of terrible persecution followed by a<br />historically inevitable vast and bloody battle between Good<br />(workers) and Evil (capitalists), in which Evil will necessarily be<br />vanquished and after which the Good live in a new, just world free of<br />suffering and oppression.<br /><br /><br />Marx's thought was Hegelian. I know of no reference source, including the former Marxist turned Thomist, Alasdair MacIntyre who wrote the famous After Virtue who would agree with you that Marxism was Judeo-Christian in origin.<br /><br />Dostoevsky was adamant that Marxism was the fusion of Nihilistic French and German Enlightenment thinking with utopian Hegel.<br /><br />For a chilling expose, read the precis of Dostoevsky's Demons intro here at http://www.incommunion.org/pevear.htm<br /><br />
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Re:official moral

Postby Hamilton » Sat Sep 27, 2003 3:19 am

And if you wish to really understand the battle against Marxist thought, Leo Strauss' On Tyranny is required reading.
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"Mighty white of you"?

Postby mingshey » Mon Sep 29, 2003 1:00 am

"mighty white of you."
<br />What does it mean, or doesn't mean??? (I'm not from an english-speaking culture)<br /><br />
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Re:official moral

Postby benissimus » Mon Sep 29, 2003 4:25 am

I would think that it is meant to appeal to the sense of the color white as that of virtue and purity, but it obviously has racial connotations now. It's probably along the lines of "very kind of you".
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Re:official moral

Postby Bert » Tue Sep 30, 2003 12:12 am

[quote author=benissimus link=board=13;threadid=645;start=45#7191 date=1064809503]<br />I would think that it is meant to appeal to the sense of the color white as that of virtue and purity, but it obviously has racial connotations now. It's probably along the lines of "very kind of you".<br />[/quote]<br /><br />It does not only have a racial connotation but it is steeped in racism. It does indeed mean "very kind of you" but not because white is the colour of virtue and purity.<br />It means "that's how a white man would act as opposed to a black man"<br />
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Re:"Mighty white of you"?

Postby annis » Tue Sep 30, 2003 1:23 am

[quote author=mingshey link=board=13;threadid=645;start=45#7171 date=1064797214]<br />What does it mean, or doesn't mean??? (I'm not from an english-speaking culture)<br />[/quote]<br /><br />As Bert said, it's an awfully racist thing to say.<br /><br />I should pay closer attention to the international popularity of Textkit when I make extended declamations.<br />
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Re:official moral

Postby mingshey » Wed Oct 01, 2003 1:27 am

Racism is not only between different colors. It's almost everywhere. We have several pejorative expressions for people from nearby countries.
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