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Re: Morality & God

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  • james tan
    it varies with the insight of the individual.... james. From: swmaerske Reply-To:
    Message 1 of 66 , Dec 31, 2002
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      <<The question is, should one!>>

      it varies with the 'insight' of the individual....

      james.





      From: "swmaerske <swmirsky@...>" <swmirsky@...>
      Reply-To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com
      To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [WisdomForum] Re: Morality & God
      Date: Sun, 29 Dec 2002 12:20:35 -0000

      I agree w/your point about torturing babies and similar actions. We
      are not genetically predisposed to this. I think there is much in our
      bedrock emotional being that is genetic in nature in this way. The
      question, then, is to what extent we can argue for any of this and
      how much is just a matter of what instincts we are born with?
      (Insofar as we are just born or not born with any of this, there are
      no grounds for argument which is a critical aspect of moralizing,
      i.e., being able to make a case for or against something, in which
      case moral valuing is not the issue, just emotional reaction and
      articulation of those feelings).

      The Wittgensteinian idea of bedrock forms of life gets at some of
      this in that it supposes that there are certain sets of rules
      inherent in our games of life and that these rules are not subject to
      discourse but, rather, enable discourse by establishing the
      parameters within which we actually operate. To some extent I accept
      this though I am of the opinion that, for the moral game to function
      smoothly, there must be content to it as well, even if it is only
      reflective of the bedrock rules themselves. If the rules are
      genetically predetermined (as they may be in part) then that is one
      thing. If they are the result of pre-rational choices made by humans
      on a non-individual (social or, at least, non-private) level, this is
      another thing. But whatever they are, I think we need to see how they
      are reflected in a moral content that lets us talk about and argue
      for or against moral ideas.

      On the matter of Genghiz Khan, I whole-heartedly agree. There are
      many different models of self. I think that we are drawn to consider,
      assess and improve what we are and that this is the impulse behind so-
      called morality. But this only means that we must determine what the
      best self we can be, is. Certainly we may be drawn to power or
      strength. These imply certain ideas of an improved self. The question
      is, are they the best ideas? My suggestion is that a fuller
      understanding of "self" leads away from the self founded in power
      alone, say, and toward a different kind of self, one more like the
      Buddha or Gandhi, a self that can transcend the inherent limitations
      of being rooted in the concrete.

      I would suggest, further, that even those who have operated in the
      world in terms of this orientation, can do better for themselves, by
      taking this more expanded view of self.

      Of course, it, too, is a matter of judgement and decision. Certainly
      a person can choose to be a Genghiz Khan or a Hitler instead of a
      Buddha or Gandhi. The question is, should one!

      As I've already noted, this is a matter of insight which one can have
      or not. Although I think the impulse to self-improvement, to self-
      growth is in all of us, that is we want to be better (which may only
      mean, on some understandings, having more!), yet we still need to
      understand what being better means. I think this part is the non-
      rational part, i.e., it requires an insight that cannot be argued
      for, it just must be seen. But, once having had the insight,
      rationality comes back into play. I would also add that one can get
      the insight through rational inquiry and discourse, though this is
      not the only way.

      Is this mystical? I think only in one sense, in the sense that one
      recognizes this is a private kind of knowledge (though it can be
      talked about) and that one way to come to it is non-verbal in nature.

      SWM

      --- In WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com, "james tan" <tyjfk@h...> wrote:
      >
      > there may be two senses to the word "should":
      >
      > 1, one absolutely must do something.
      >
      > 2, one would want to do something if one agrees with it, such as
      morality.
      >
      >
      > if one wishes to be a moral person, then one indeed SHOULD do what
      is moral
      > TO BE SELF CONSISTENT. this is "should" in the 2nd sense. we have
      no problem
      > with what is understood to be moral. this "should" is in the 2nd
      sense, in
      > the sense of logical necessity. over here, there is
      an 'existential' choice
      > by the individual concerned to be moral.
      >
      > morality do not have so much binding power in the 1st sense of the
      word
      > "should". the person can always understand what it is to be moral,
      but
      > choose not to be moral, totally disregarding the "should" tt is
      inherent in
      > any morality. a man can say, "i choose to be immoral; why should i
      be moral?
      > and what is the use of ur theoretical shoulds if it is not acted
      upon
      > concretely in real life? SO WHAT if i am immoral?". a lot of
      ancient
      > historical figures who founded empires and conquer large lands
      never
      > bothered about "moral shoulds"; they live just 'as well' and their
      lives
      > dont seem any less 'meaningful'; it is just a DIFFERENT meaning
      from those
      > who are morally conscious. they slaughtered enemy civilians and
      soldiers
      > like they would slaughter sheeps. over here, there is 'existential'
      choice
      > for the individual concerned to be immoral, totally disregarding
      the
      > 'shoulds'. try telling genghis khan tt he ought to be a buddha. so,
      swm says
      > the khan is immoral; the khan could look at him and say, "so what
      if i am
      > immoral? so what?? i SHOULD be moral, but so what if i am not????
      so what??
      > u can call me a immoral person and i am perfectly ok with tt!!".
      >
      > swm says:
      >
      > [[Spiritual matters (or whatever else you
      > might want to call this) deal with what we should be, how we should
      > orient ourselves in the world. Should we be litttle
      > selves, "contained" within our skulls, our bodies, or should we be
      > larger, expansive selves, connected to the broad range of being that
      > characterizes our actual experience of the world? ]]
      >
      > i imagine a genghis khan might reply:
      >
      > {{the way i orient myself to the world is to conquer the world. the
      way i
      > expand myself is to be the conqueror of nations and countries, and
      to be the
      > khan.}}
      >
      > swm says:
      >
      > [[I am saying, moreover, that we make the choice about selves for
      > actual reasons rather than just as an arbitrary exercise in
      > existential choice so maybe this is where we do find some
      > disagreement. ]]
      >
      > there are actual reasons why people make choices in the sense tt
      they do
      > WANT to be a certain kind of self. but what constitute reason for
      one person
      > is NEVER universally valid; it is only right for tt individual.
      >
      > swm says:
      >
      > [[Instead I have offered a third
      > principle, that of exemplars, as the operant valuing principle
      here. ]]
      >
      > i am saying and critiquing the paradigm of exemplars u proposed for
      the 6th
      > time here: exemplar simply begs the question, for WHO SHALL I USE
      AS A
      > EXEMPLAR? never once have u recognised tt exemplar implicitly
      presuppose a
      > standard, and it is which standard tt we are dealing with here tt
      is the
      > question. buddhists will use buddha as a exemplar, christians
      christ, the
      > nazis hitler, muslims mohammad, iraqi saddam hussein, etc. exemplar
      is just
      > another layer on the onion.
      >
      > swm says:
      >
      > [[ In this case, applying this third principle, we value selves by
      > figuring out what they are, at bottom, and then seeking that idea of
      > self, that model, that is most in accord with what it, in fact,
      is.]]
      >
      > man does not already have a self in fact. he is not born with a
      self intact.
      > he is not born with the idea of good or bad. he just assimilates
      into
      > 'himself' from his environment. if he is born into a society tt eat
      human,
      > he will never think it is immoral to be eating human. there is no
      self tt he
      > could use as a reference to decide what is 'good' or 'bad'. the
      concept of
      > 'moral', 'good', 'evil' is some values he internalises from his
      society or
      > from the books he chooses to read.
      >
      > swm says:
      >
      > [[Thus the best self is the one that recognizes
      > its phenomenological nature, a nature that defines it and not a
      > nature that shrinks from this recognition.]]
      >
      > if one really do a phenomenological analysis as sartre did, then
      the
      > conclusion is that 'self' is really illusory, and if swm is to hope
      to find
      > morality in self, then the origin of morality is even more telling.
      >
      > swm says:
      >
      > [[In the final analysis, then, I am suggesting that the self that
      views
      > itself (and other selves) in this expanded way, that understands the
      > intricate linkages that exist throughout all being, is the ideal
      > self, the one we need to be. ]]
      >
      > this CLAIM to intricate linkages tt exist throughout all being is
      truly
      > mysterious, a claim tt is similar to religious claims of jesus and
      buddha.
      > for jesus, he claimed tt he is in the father, and the father in
      him, and all
      > who believes in him are like branches and vines interwined. for
      buddha, he
      > claimed tt we are all part of a giant web of oneness, so tt he is
      the
      > universe, and the universe is he. the problems with all these
      claims is tt
      > it is not empirically verifiable, which is fine if there are other
      ways. do
      > suggest ways "so tt it can be 'experimentally verified or
      experientially
      > repeated or insightfully discovered or invented'". else, they are
      just
      > claims, and while u may be right, there are million of other hopcus
      pocus
      > claims already on the market.
      >
      > swm says:
      >
      > [[my exposure to
      > Wittgenstein did teach me to think in other categories than the
      > merely empirical, to accept the insights of the idealists and the
      > phenomenologists (even if I do not fully embrace any particular
      > idealistic or phenomenological formulation).]]
      >
      > fine, i dont think too the empirical paradigm hold the only key to
      truth.
      > but how would u expect anyone to take ur insight? just ur word for
      it? u
      > have to suggest ways, even if it means to employ faith as a way to
      accept
      > it.
      >
      > swm says:
      >
      > [[...we ultimately make our selection based on a
      > realization of what selves really are. ]]
      >
      > there just isnt a real self borned. it is partly decided as one
      grow and
      > experience the world, it is partly socially internalised.
      >
      > swm says:
      >
      > [[True not everyone consciously
      > comes to this insight and it can be argued about or denied. And that
      > is fine. My only claim is that it is real, it can be achieved and
      > that, once achieved, it changes the way we think about our
      actions. ]]
      >
      > u say ur insight is real. is it real only for u? do u claim to
      speak for the
      > objectivity of ur insight? god is also real, in fact very real to
      some
      > individuals. in what sense is it really real? is it really,
      actually
      > subjectve in nature? perhaps like what kierkegaard said: truth is
      > subjectivity. genghis would have a different 'truths' from a
      american who is
      > swm.
      >
      > swm says:
      >
      > [[ moral valuing has a content, one that we
      > can know and discuss and have the potential either to disagree or
      > agree about.]]
      >
      > well, we can define a content. it may or may not be accepted.
      values are
      > just ontologically different from facts. no body can disagree tt
      there is a
      > pen on the table, but not everybody will agree tt one should be
      concerned
      > for others.
      >
      > james.
      >
      > ps: imagine an offer: to torture a baby to death for fun. i would
      imagine tt
      > even genghis khan would not do it. i would also suppose tt most
      normal and
      > emotionally healthy people will not do it. why? because they have
      learn
      > somewhere tt one SHOULD be moral? i doubt so. it just does not make
      sense to
      > do something like tt, and i think genetically, we will all be
      repulsed and
      > feeling sick at anyone doing it. hume said tt morality rest on
      > sentimentality. i think he is right. swm said tt morality ought to
      be based
      > on some mystical interconnection, but if i dont torture the baby to
      death
      > for fun, it isnt because i have a prior insight to such
      interconnection. i
      > dont do it because it repulses me. why would it repulses me? maybe
      i am
      > conditioned by social values. but i will still feel sick if someone
      torture
      > a animal just for the fun. why this negative feeling? i can only
      say tt
      > evolution has genetically programmed me and most people i think to
      feel sick
      > at such behaviors. hume was right tt it is based on sentimentality,
      and
      > sentimentality itself is based on genes. but it is not just MERE
      > sentimentality, because there is nothing 'mere' about certain
      sentiments. as
      > pascal once said: there is truth tt is blind to reason, tt only the
      heart
      > could know. maybe, swm's insight is something tt can be grasped by
      the
      > heart, less so by the mind. but surely, it is the content in our
      genes tt
      > set the precondition and parameter for any appreciation, moral or
      otherwise.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > From: "swmaerske <swmirsky@a...>" <swmirsky@a...>
      > Reply-To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com
      > To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: [WisdomForum] Re: Morality & God
      > Date: Wed, 25 Dec 2002 13:43:58 -0000
      >
      > Maybe this is really a semantic problem between us! Of course I am
      > agreeing that we can choose not to be moral. The whole process
      > doesn't work if choice is not possible. That's the reason we offer
      > arguments and have disagreements. All I am arguing for is the
      > possibility of agreement based on something more than just the
      > contingent fact that our feelings may be the same at any given point
      > in time. I am suggesting that we can argue for or against having
      > particular feelings based on more than the fact that we have those
      > feelings ourselves!
      >
      > On my view, we can say "you SHOULD have such and such a feeling" and
      > we can make this claim based on a description of what a person ought
      > to be. In other words, I am suggesting that we argue for what we
      > ought to do, by saying, at bottom, "but you ought to be this kind of
      > a person and not that kind." The actions that we recommend are those
      > which are consistent with, and conducive to developing, the better
      > model of self. The second statement, the one about what kind of self
      > we should be, is not moral per se but what I have called "spiritual"
      > for want of a better term so that one can say here that the moral is
      > grounded in the spiritual.
      >
      > Are these two "levels" of statements qualitatively different? I
      think
      > they are on the level on which we are actually dealing with them,
      > though they may not be distinct at their core. Morality deals with
      > actions, what we should do. Spiritual matters (or whatever else you
      > might want to call this) deal with what we should be, how we should
      > orient ourselves in the world. Should we be litttle
      > selves, "contained" within our skulls, our bodies, or should we be
      > larger, expansive selves, connected to the broad range of being that
      > characterizes our actual experience of the world?
      >
      > I am saying, moreover, that we make the choice about selves for
      > actual reasons rather than just as an arbitrary exercise in
      > existential choice so maybe this is where we do find some
      > disagreement. I am proposing that we recognize ideas of the self,
      > both in ourselves and others, and, as such, objectify the "self"
      such
      > that it becomes an object of observation and thus of valuing, like
      > anything else we view objectively in the world.
      >
      > But because of the special status of the self as an object, that is
      > it is not contained in any finite agglomeration of sensory data but,
      > in fact, may be said to contain that data, that input, it cannot be
      > valued in the way we normally value objects. Neither the principles
      > of preference nor utility apply. Instead I have offered a third
      > principle, that of exemplars, as the operant valuing principle here.
      > In this case, applying this third principle, we value selves by
      > figuring out what they are, at bottom, and then seeking that idea of
      > self, that model, that is most in accord with what it, in fact, is.
      > Thus, a self, if it is really a range of consciousness, should not
      be
      > thought of as a mental construct with borders or limits. It contains
      > and is not contained. Thus the best self is the one that recognizes
      > its phenomenological nature, a nature that defines it and not a
      > nature that shrinks from this recognition.
      >
      > In the final analysis, then, I am suggesting that the self that
      views
      > itself (and other selves) in this expanded way, that understands the
      > intricate linkages that exist throughout all being, is the ideal
      > self, the one we need to be. And this very recognition entails
      > certain kinds of actions and not other kinds, hence the moral
      > judgements about actions that we apply.
      >
      > Now all of this is very un-Wittgensteinian, I must add. But I have
      > said before that I am not a Wittgensteinian but that my exposure to
      > Wittgenstein did teach me to think in other categories than the
      > merely empirical, to accept the insights of the idealists and the
      > phenomenologists (even if I do not fully embrace any particular
      > idealistic or phenomenological formulation).
      >
      > Wittgentein, I think, showed the way to understanding the idealists
      > and phenomenologists without enrolling in an apparently non-common
      > sense view of reality. So everything I have said here about selves
      > and being should not be construed as contra-common sense but as just
      > another way of speaking about the actual experience of being that we
      > have.
      >
      > With Chris, I think that the overly narrow and inflexible ways of
      > speaking that the Wittgensteinians undertake is less than helpful in
      > dealing with some issues (e.g., morality). If one adopts their
      > approach exclusively there is not much to say and little help in
      > arriving at an understanding of certain phenomena of our experience
      > after a certain point. Yes, one can describe some things and come
      > down, in the end, to statements that tell us "that's just the way it
      > is" but after the initial insight this provides, I don't think it
      > gets us any real understanding of the processes we are really
      engaged
      > in. Moral valuing, for instance, is just left there as another thing
      > that is, another game we play. But HOW do we play it and what is the
      > basis for playing it? This, the classical Wittgensteinian approach
      > doesn't get us (at least as far as I can see at this point).
      >
      > My approach says, yes the Wittgensteinian insight is valuable and
      > profound but one can't stop there. One should then go on to explore
      > and talk about things that are not easily talked about in light of
      > the understanding that Wittgenstein brought to the table. One can
      > talk about the odd and the ineffable in a certain way, as long as
      one
      > realizes, in one's talk, that this is not about physical phenomena.
      > Where I part company with the Wittgensteinians is in my attempt to
      > engage the metaphsyical in an affirmative way. But I do it in a
      > special sense, recognizing the powerful Wittgensteinian insight
      about
      > the limits of language.
      >
      > As to morality and the disagreement you and I seem to have
      > encountered, I think it boils down to this: you hold that at bottom
      > there are certain "values" that we just adopt for no other reason
      > than it pleases us to do so and that it is the way we adopt them,
      > either authentically or inauthentically, that determines
      > the "goodness" of that adoption and the rightness of the adopted
      > values.
      >
      > On the other hand, I am suggesting that the bedrock values of a
      moral
      > system are not just anything we choose to adopt but what we choose
      > AFTER seeing things in a certain way, after having a certain
      insight.
      > I am arguing that valuing selves is as much a part of our experience
      > as valuing actions and that, while we can differ as to what is the
      > best self to be, we ultimately make our selection based on a
      > realization of what selves really are. True not everyone consciously
      > comes to this insight and it can be argued about or denied. And that
      > is fine. My only claim is that it is real, it can be achieved and
      > that, once achieved, it changes the way we think about our actions.
      > In this sense, on my view, moral valuing has a content, one that we
      > can know and discuss and have the potential either to disagree or
      > agree about.
      >
      > SWM
      >
      >
      >
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    • Robert Keyes
      Hypothesis: Concepts exist independent of Humans. I think the concept of Rational thought exists like Math for instance This cause s many crazy thoughts. For
      Message 66 of 66 , Sep 23, 2005
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        Hypothesis: Concepts exist independent of Humans. I think the concept of
        Rational thought exists like Math for instance This cause's many crazy
        thoughts. For one how can a concept exist which can only be recognized by
        the byproducts of Earth's Evolution over Billions of Years. (and what a path
        that was). It is Odd but I still think it is true. Some Concepts Like
        Religion are not real and do not exist like the concept of Rationalism.
        Because Rationalism is Linked to the Physical world it happens to be part of
        it.

        Speculating. Now Time for Chess.

        Bob..



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