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Re: Choice and Action

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  • james tan
    i tend to think that nazis failed because of hitler in the later days; he was too self-confident and self-obsessed to heed the advice of his military
    Message 1 of 21 , Feb 23, 2002
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      i tend to think that nazis failed because of hitler in the later days; he
      was too self-confident and self-obsessed to heed the advice of his military
      strategists. but then, what u envisaged, that they could have first
      consolidated power first before confronting in a few generation's time the
      resource-rich america is also not workable. around 1944, america already has
      the atomic bomb coming, which hitler's nazis did not have. this would make a
      big difference as far as power and military might is concerned, if power is
      the final deciding matter, and not morality, of hitler's nazis staying on.
      the moment america invented successfully the atomic bombs, hitler's nazis is
      practically history. of course, if hitler had the atomic bomb and not the
      rest of the world, at least half the world today will be saluting "hail
      hitler!!".

      james.


      From: "swmaerske" <SWMirsky@...>
      Reply-To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com
      To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [WisdomForum] Re: Choice and Action
      Date: Sun, 24 Feb 2002 01:21:10 -0000

      Ah, now we're getting somewhere. You are right in terms of real
      history. Nazism for Germany was a mistake because of their size
      relative to the rest of the world. But they came mighty close, didn't
      they? Had they shrewder leaders, they might have successfully carved
      up the world in the near term while laying the groundwork for long
      term domination in the future. Hitler went too far and didn't have
      the muscle to see it through. The USA was too rich in resources,
      population and economic capacity (and too far from his reach) to have
      been swallowed in one gulp. What he and his partners needed to do was
      to swallow Europe and parts of Asia (with the USSR firmly in his
      camp) in the first go-round and beat us down over a couple of
      generations thereafter. He chose wrongly and the rest, as they say,
      is history. But it didn't have to go that way and I guess my point is
      that had they made different choices and succeeded, there would be
      less to say against Nazism, aside from the fact that to many of us it
      is a reprehensible ideology. And that is the rub. Is it reprehensible
      only because we don't like it, approve it, or are threatened by it?
      Or is it reprehensible because of some real moral deficiency?

      I am interested in the idea of morality in itself. Now your point
      about moralities being the result of societal competition is an
      interesting one. It could very well be that human beings, as social
      creatures with language and rational faculties, naturally
      develop "moral systems" as Popper seems to be suggesting, sets of
      social rules, conventions, which are seen to carry a certain
      authority within their systems. Since all human beings exist in some
      society and societies relate to one another, it follows that moral
      systems and rules can then be discussed and transferred between
      societies. In our modern world, where societies all get jumbled
      together on a shrinking planet, moralities are then in a kind of flux
      as differing systems encounter and collide with one another. But then
      this leads to a new problem: how do we determine the "right" morality
      among the competing players?

      Back then again to Nazism. On an historical basis, it lost out, as
      did the Marxist-Leninst ethos and as have many others in history.
      (Note, I am assuming here that such systems carry particular moral
      viewpoints, or systems, within their larger ideologies.) But, today,
      there are certainly others, including radical Fundamentalist Islam
      which clearly hold a different worldview than our western one and is
      part and parcel of the larger Islamic tradition. (Whether it comes
      ultimately to define that tradition is an issue of historical
      contingency but I would argue that, at least today, it is clearly a
      significant part of mainstream Islamic thinking, which, itself, is
      quite distinct from the view of mankind and the worldview we harbor
      in the so-called West.)

      (Friday's Wall Street Journal had an interesting argument likening
      the developing post-Communist mainland Chinese state to the
      corporatocracy of fascism rather than to the democratic system of
      capitalism, suggesting that we are seeing the development of a new
      alternative model to our western systems: a model of fascism based
      not on energetic, charismatic revolutionaries but on a pre-existing,
      entrenched bureaucracy. The author suggests that we have never yet
      seen such a system and that it may prove to be more stable than its
      early twentieth century predecessors. In that case its viewpoints and
      institutions may genuinely challenge ours, especially in light of the
      fact that China is a bigger, more substantial nation than either
      early twentieth century Germany or Italy were.)

      But back to the point about competing moralities. With the various
      social collisions that arise in a world where contact between nations
      is so speedy and easy, how do we choose between competing moralities?
      Are they all equal and do they only have validity within the context
      of the particular societies and worldviews from which they spring? Or
      is there something more, a way of getting at morality which is
      somehow universal, which allows moral judgements that transcend
      societies and the particular worldviews of particular human groups in
      the world?

      I'd like to argue for a universalism but I'm not yet convinced one
      can. Like you, I see the very relativistic aspect of morality (in
      that much of what we call morality is societally based) but, unlike
      you, I am not convinced that it is ultimately just a matter of what's
      best for the longevity of a particular society or group of people. I
      come back to the view that history is not pre-ordained and the bad
      guys can, and often do, triumph.

      By "bad" I mean the ones whose viewpoints are both antithetical and
      harmful to mine. And there, again, is the relativistic rub since to
      Osama et al, I am the bad guy. As are you and, most probably, the
      vast majority of correspondents on this list. I like to think that
      they won't win but I'm sure they're thinking the same about me.
      (Remember Mullah Omar's prediction that America will fall in a matter
      of months?) And thinking someone will lose is not a guarantee they
      will, despite some people's beliefs that we "make our own reality".
      Again, witness the emptiness of this Mullah's apparently wishful
      thinking.

      Now I try to be pluralistic and respect others' views but some of
      those views are, themselves, ruthlessly exclusionary. They wish me
      dead and cannot be said, in any manner of speaking, to respect my
      views. (Of course, I recall in the early days of the Afghan
      situation, that a mullah in Pakistan, when asked by a journalist if
      there was any way, in his mind, George Bush could avoid further
      problems with radical Islam, replied there was, if he converted to
      Islam! Hardly a pluralistic viewpoint but at least it offered an
      alternative to extinction!) The issue, then is whether or not there
      is an argument for democratic pluralism as a moral value that goes
      beyond particular societal viewpoints. And whether we can say that a
      Hitler or a bin Laden or a Milosevic is morally wrong. Or if they are
      only wrong if and when we can beat them.

      SWM


      --- In WisdomForum@y..., "Christopher Bobo" <cbobo@m...> wrote:
      SWM: "Or is it just that we don't want to be their victims? If so,
      then why should we not, ourselves, be Nazis (or the like)? That's one
      way to avoid being their victims, right? Or, if we can protect
      ourselves from them, then what do we care what they do to
      others?"

      Cbobo: " . . .From an evolutionary point of view, it has become
      popular to argue that cooperative schemes of social interaction work
      better and ensure survival of the bearer better than non-cooperative
      schemes. A moral system that leads one into violent conflict with
      the world has, IMHO, a very low survival probability. However, a
      system based on mutual respect, cooperation and reciprocal benefit is
      much more likely to ensure the survival of its adherents and to
      ensure that it is passed along and propagated. I really think that
      materially, it was highly unlikely that the Nazi's could prevail in
      their scheme. Germany is a small country with limited resources,
      hubris can carry one only so far. One reason that it is not good to
      be a Nazi because to be a Nazi is to be committed to the belief of
      untruths--e.g., the racial superiorty of the Aryan race. Next, one
      is committed to the view that Arryans deserve more than others--i.e,
      lebensraum. Attached to these beliefs is a commitment to the use of
      violence. The use of violence certainly violates our intuition that
      a proper ethical system requires empathy toward others.

      As for which ethical system is correct--deontological, utilitarian,
      emotive empiricism, teleological--I think the correct approach is
      pluralistic. Each systems appropriately and usefully describes an
      aspect of the human moral experience. Each one will have its
      beneficial applications, but also each one will have its drawbacks.
      For instance, with respect to the issue of torture, a
      consequentialist or teleological ethic would seem to permit torture
      under certain circumstances while a deontological a la Kantian ethic
      would seem to oppose the use of torture under all
      circumstances."











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    • james tan
      i understood ur point, but i quite disagree with it. u know, i tend to think that hitler the school yard bully and his gang had managed to win half the school
      Message 2 of 21 , Feb 24, 2002
      • 0 Attachment
        i understood ur point, but i quite disagree with it. u know, i tend to think
        that hitler the school yard bully and his gang had managed to win half the
        school yard. consider the land of europe that was taken in by the nazis. if
        we were to put the atomic bomb out of the picture, i believed hitler might
        just pull it off to win the entire school yard, if he was realistic about
        the limit of his then resources and had strategised in long terms vision. i
        don't believe that his failure is due to the unethical nature of his nazis
        ideology; no, morality can be twisted en mass, and people under a strong
        leadership can be 'brainwashed' as to what constitute right and wrong.
        hitler's failure is due to military, logistic, resource strategy, not
        morality, in my opinion. with more careful planning, realistic evaluation of
        her resources, a more viable plan that caters to her then present resource
        limitation, a less hasty and impatient temperament of hitler, nazis's
        germany might not suffer such defeat. i really dont think a military defeat
        has anything to do with morality. it is the victor who define what is right
        and wrong. against the advice of his military officers and advisors, some of
        whom are great strategists, hitler made a number of strategic blunders, one
        of which was to attack russia when she was not really ready. another 10
        years of maintainence (physical, economic, logistic, number of fighting
        men), and another 10 years of preparation might just pull him off to face
        russia and america (after having spent about 8 years? in conquering all of
        europe).

        apart from hitler's own blunder and impatience, it is the nuclear weapon
        that make a difference. even with better planning and strategy by hitler's
        team, america's atomic bomb more or less set america as the superior might
        over germany. it was a race of technology, not morality. if hitler's team
        were the one that came with the nuclear weapon, america would have no
        chance; a few of these nuclear bombs on the major cities of america would
        have force her into submission. if any country is the sole possessor of
        nuclear weapon, it can force other countries into submission. not persuade
        by moral argument, but FORCE. with the invention of atomic bomb by america,
        hitler had no chance. it is the atomic bomb, and not hitler's morality, that
        sealed his fate absolutely as the loser. but he already lost without having
        to use the atomic bomb on him; he lost by his strategic blunder. it is not
        inconceivable that a mighty bully take over the entire school yard in due
        time if he plan carefully. i.e. if he plan carefully and realistically. a
        bully may be defeated not because he is immoral, but because he is stupid.
        the overwhelming majority of germans under hitler never questioned hitler;
        most were contented to be told what constitute german-ness (yes, a clear
        case of bad faith, but it did occur anyway), and under that context and
        'grounding', all germans accepted hitler's actions. morality was given a new
        interpretation. morality was never a problem that plagued hitler's
        conscience, if he has a conscience as u and i understand it. it is power and
        sheer military might, and not morality, that decide who has the final say.

        james.


        From: "Christopher Bobo" <cbobo@...>
        Reply-To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com
        To: "Wisdom Forum" <WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com>
        Subject: Re: [WisdomForum] Re: Choice and Action
        Date: Sat, 23 Feb 2002 19:45:25 -0800

        To borrow a simple analogy. The school yard bully who picks a fight with
        the entire playground is bound to get pummeled. Nazism is a form of racial
        hubris that picked a fight with the entire world. I think it is both
        physically and logistically impossible for Hitler's Germany to have fought
        Russia, America and England at the same time that it had to occupy all the
        rest of Europe with his troops, even if those other nations were pretty
        sheepish. Germany didn't have the resources or the population to pull this
        off. But isn't that the nature of hubris as the ancient Greeks described
        it. It's a character flaw, a form of vice, that eventually leads to the
        downfall of its possessor. I think that was my only point.

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: james tan
        Sent: Saturday, February 23, 2002 6:31 PM
        To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [WisdomForum] Re: Choice and Action


        i tend to think that nazis failed because of hitler in the later days; he
        was too self-confident and self-obsessed to heed the advice of his military
        strategists. but then, what u envisaged, that they could have first
        consolidated power first before confronting in a few generation's time the
        resource-rich america is also not workable. around 1944, america already has
        the atomic bomb coming, which hitler's nazis did not have. this would make a
        big difference as far as power and military might is concerned, if power is
        the final deciding matter, and not morality, of hitler's nazis staying on.
        the moment america invented successfully the atomic bombs, hitler's nazis is
        practically history. of course, if hitler had the atomic bomb and not the
        rest of the world, at least half the world today will be saluting "hail
        hitler!!".

        james.








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      • Eduard Alf
        james, I tend to agree with Christopher. There is no way in which Hitler could have taken over the whole school yard. Germany just did not have the resources
        Message 3 of 21 , Feb 24, 2002
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          james,

          I tend to agree with Christopher. There is no way in which Hitler could
          have taken over the whole school yard. Germany just did not have the
          resources in material and people. In any case, the end for the Germans was
          known as early as 1942 when Rommel was beaten in Egypt. The battle for
          Stalingrad ended with a massive German defeat in February 1943. In order to
          take over the world, Hitler would have had to reverse those defeats, build
          up his forces and still try to get over to the Americas. Impossible. The
          wonder of it is why did Hitler continue when he already had Austria and the
          Sudentenland with no protest from the Allies. Can you image what a
          powerhouse Germany would be today if he had stopped at that point, instead
          of going for Poland.

          As to the atomic bomb, it was not needed against German. They were already
          being fire-bombed to nothing. The bomb was needed against Japan in order to
          obtain a surrender rather than to lengthen the war with a conventional
          landing. Everyone looks at the atomic bombing of Japan and thinks how
          terrible it was. But they forget the tremendous loss of life that took
          place in the Americans moving from one island to another, with Japanese
          resistance to the last man.

          As to morality in war, I think that this is more or less put on hold. There
          is nothing moral in a war.

          eduard
          -----Original Message-----
          From: james tan [mailto:tyjfk@...]
          Sent: Sunday, February 24, 2002 4:47 AM
          To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: [existlist] Choice and Action



          i understood ur point, but i quite disagree with it. u know, i tend to
          think
          that hitler the school yard bully and his gang had managed to win half the
          school yard. consider the land of europe that was taken in by the nazis.
          if
          we were to put the atomic bomb out of the picture, i believed hitler might
          just pull it off to win the entire school yard, if he was realistic about
          the limit of his then resources and had strategised in long terms vision.
          i
          don't believe that his failure is due to the unethical nature of his nazis
          ideology; no, morality can be twisted en mass, and people under a strong
          leadership can be 'brainwashed' as to what constitute right and wrong.
          hitler's failure is due to military, logistic, resource strategy, not
          morality, in my opinion. with more careful planning, realistic evaluation
          of
          her resources, a more viable plan that caters to her then present resource
          limitation, a less hasty and impatient temperament of hitler, nazis's
          germany might not suffer such defeat. i really dont think a military
          defeat
          has anything to do with morality. it is the victor who define what is
          right
          and wrong. against the advice of his military officers and advisors, some
          of
          whom are great strategists, hitler made a number of strategic blunders,
          one
          of which was to attack russia when she was not really ready. another 10
          years of maintainence (physical, economic, logistic, number of fighting
          men), and another 10 years of preparation might just pull him off to face
          russia and america (after having spent about 8 years? in conquering all of
          europe).

          apart from hitler's own blunder and impatience, it is the nuclear weapon
          that make a difference. even with better planning and strategy by hitler's
          team, america's atomic bomb more or less set america as the superior might
          over germany. it was a race of technology, not morality. if hitler's team
          were the one that came with the nuclear weapon, america would have no
          chance; a few of these nuclear bombs on the major cities of america would
          have force her into submission. if any country is the sole possessor of
          nuclear weapon, it can force other countries into submission. not persuade
          by moral argument, but FORCE. with the invention of atomic bomb by
          america,
          hitler had no chance. it is the atomic bomb, and not hitler's morality,
          that
          sealed his fate absolutely as the loser. but he already lost without
          having
          to use the atomic bomb on him; he lost by his strategic blunder. it is not
          inconceivable that a mighty bully take over the entire school yard in due
          time if he plan carefully. i.e. if he plan carefully and realistically. a
          bully may be defeated not because he is immoral, but because he is stupid.
          the overwhelming majority of germans under hitler never questioned hitler;
          most were contented to be told what constitute german-ness (yes, a clear
          case of bad faith, but it did occur anyway), and under that context and
          'grounding', all germans accepted hitler's actions. morality was given a
          new
          interpretation. morality was never a problem that plagued hitler's
          conscience, if he has a conscience as u and i understand it. it is power
          and
          sheer military might, and not morality, that decide who has the final say.

          james.


          From: "Christopher Bobo" <cbobo@...>
          Reply-To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com
          To: "Wisdom Forum" <WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com>
          Subject: Re: [WisdomForum] Re: Choice and Action
          Date: Sat, 23 Feb 2002 19:45:25 -0800

          To borrow a simple analogy. The school yard bully who picks a fight with
          the entire playground is bound to get pummeled. Nazism is a form of racial
          hubris that picked a fight with the entire world. I think it is both
          physically and logistically impossible for Hitler's Germany to have fought
          Russia, America and England at the same time that it had to occupy all the
          rest of Europe with his troops, even if those other nations were pretty
          sheepish. Germany didn't have the resources or the population to pull
          this
          off. But isn't that the nature of hubris as the ancient Greeks described
          it. It's a character flaw, a form of vice, that eventually leads to the
          downfall of its possessor. I think that was my only point.

          ----- Original Message -----
          From: james tan
          Sent: Saturday, February 23, 2002 6:31 PM
          To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: [WisdomForum] Re: Choice and Action


          i tend to think that nazis failed because of hitler in the later days; he
          was too self-confident and self-obsessed to heed the advice of his
          military
          strategists. but then, what u envisaged, that they could have first
          consolidated power first before confronting in a few generation's time the
          resource-rich america is also not workable. around 1944, america already
          has
          the atomic bomb coming, which hitler's nazis did not have. this would make
          a
          big difference as far as power and military might is concerned, if power
          is
          the final deciding matter, and not morality, of hitler's nazis staying on.
          the moment america invented successfully the atomic bombs, hitler's nazis
          is
          practically history. of course, if hitler had the atomic bomb and not the
          rest of the world, at least half the world today will be saluting "hail
          hitler!!".

          james.








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          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Bill Harris
          Morals are the rules we make to restrict others. A clever trick whose time has passed. Bill ... From: Eduard Alf To:
          Message 4 of 21 , Feb 25, 2002
          • 0 Attachment
            Morals are the rules we make to restrict others. A clever trick whose time
            has passed. Bill
            ----- Original Message -----
            From: "Eduard Alf" <yeoman@...>
            To: <existlist@yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Sunday, February 24, 2002 12:40 PM
            Subject: RE: [existlist] Choice and Action


            > james,
            >
            > I tend to agree with Christopher. There is no way in which Hitler could
            > have taken over the whole school yard. Germany just did not have the
            > resources in material and people. In any case, the end for the Germans
            was
            > known as early as 1942 when Rommel was beaten in Egypt. The battle for
            > Stalingrad ended with a massive German defeat in February 1943. In order
            to
            > take over the world, Hitler would have had to reverse those defeats, build
            > up his forces and still try to get over to the Americas. Impossible. The
            > wonder of it is why did Hitler continue when he already had Austria and
            the
            > Sudentenland with no protest from the Allies. Can you image what a
            > powerhouse Germany would be today if he had stopped at that point, instead
            > of going for Poland.
            >
            > As to the atomic bomb, it was not needed against German. They were
            already
            > being fire-bombed to nothing. The bomb was needed against Japan in order
            to
            > obtain a surrender rather than to lengthen the war with a conventional
            > landing. Everyone looks at the atomic bombing of Japan and thinks how
            > terrible it was. But they forget the tremendous loss of life that took
            > place in the Americans moving from one island to another, with Japanese
            > resistance to the last man.
            >
            > As to morality in war, I think that this is more or less put on hold.
            There
            > is nothing moral in a war.
            >
            > eduard
            > -----Original Message-----
            > From: james tan [mailto:tyjfk@...]
            > Sent: Sunday, February 24, 2002 4:47 AM
            > To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com
            > Subject: [existlist] Choice and Action
            >
            >
            >
            > i understood ur point, but i quite disagree with it. u know, i tend to
            > think
            > that hitler the school yard bully and his gang had managed to win half
            the
            > school yard. consider the land of europe that was taken in by the nazis.
            > if
            > we were to put the atomic bomb out of the picture, i believed hitler
            might
            > just pull it off to win the entire school yard, if he was realistic
            about
            > the limit of his then resources and had strategised in long terms
            vision.
            > i
            > don't believe that his failure is due to the unethical nature of his
            nazis
            > ideology; no, morality can be twisted en mass, and people under a strong
            > leadership can be 'brainwashed' as to what constitute right and wrong.
            > hitler's failure is due to military, logistic, resource strategy, not
            > morality, in my opinion. with more careful planning, realistic
            evaluation
            > of
            > her resources, a more viable plan that caters to her then present
            resource
            > limitation, a less hasty and impatient temperament of hitler, nazis's
            > germany might not suffer such defeat. i really dont think a military
            > defeat
            > has anything to do with morality. it is the victor who define what is
            > right
            > and wrong. against the advice of his military officers and advisors,
            some
            > of
            > whom are great strategists, hitler made a number of strategic blunders,
            > one
            > of which was to attack russia when she was not really ready. another 10
            > years of maintainence (physical, economic, logistic, number of fighting
            > men), and another 10 years of preparation might just pull him off to
            face
            > russia and america (after having spent about 8 years? in conquering all
            of
            > europe).
            >
            > apart from hitler's own blunder and impatience, it is the nuclear weapon
            > that make a difference. even with better planning and strategy by
            hitler's
            > team, america's atomic bomb more or less set america as the superior
            might
            > over germany. it was a race of technology, not morality. if hitler's
            team
            > were the one that came with the nuclear weapon, america would have no
            > chance; a few of these nuclear bombs on the major cities of america
            would
            > have force her into submission. if any country is the sole possessor of
            > nuclear weapon, it can force other countries into submission. not
            persuade
            > by moral argument, but FORCE. with the invention of atomic bomb by
            > america,
            > hitler had no chance. it is the atomic bomb, and not hitler's morality,
            > that
            > sealed his fate absolutely as the loser. but he already lost without
            > having
            > to use the atomic bomb on him; he lost by his strategic blunder. it is
            not
            > inconceivable that a mighty bully take over the entire school yard in
            due
            > time if he plan carefully. i.e. if he plan carefully and realistically.
            a
            > bully may be defeated not because he is immoral, but because he is
            stupid.
            > the overwhelming majority of germans under hitler never questioned
            hitler;
            > most were contented to be told what constitute german-ness (yes, a clear
            > case of bad faith, but it did occur anyway), and under that context and
            > 'grounding', all germans accepted hitler's actions. morality was given a
            > new
            > interpretation. morality was never a problem that plagued hitler's
            > conscience, if he has a conscience as u and i understand it. it is power
            > and
            > sheer military might, and not morality, that decide who has the final
            say.
            >
            > james.
            >
            >
            > From: "Christopher Bobo" <cbobo@...>
            > Reply-To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com
            > To: "Wisdom Forum" <WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com>
            > Subject: Re: [WisdomForum] Re: Choice and Action
            > Date: Sat, 23 Feb 2002 19:45:25 -0800
            >
            > To borrow a simple analogy. The school yard bully who picks a fight
            with
            > the entire playground is bound to get pummeled. Nazism is a form of
            racial
            > hubris that picked a fight with the entire world. I think it is both
            > physically and logistically impossible for Hitler's Germany to have
            fought
            > Russia, America and England at the same time that it had to occupy all
            the
            > rest of Europe with his troops, even if those other nations were pretty
            > sheepish. Germany didn't have the resources or the population to pull
            > this
            > off. But isn't that the nature of hubris as the ancient Greeks
            described
            > it. It's a character flaw, a form of vice, that eventually leads to the
            > downfall of its possessor. I think that was my only point.
            >
            > ----- Original Message -----
            > From: james tan
            > Sent: Saturday, February 23, 2002 6:31 PM
            > To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com
            > Subject: [WisdomForum] Re: Choice and Action
            >
            >
            > i tend to think that nazis failed because of hitler in the later days;
            he
            > was too self-confident and self-obsessed to heed the advice of his
            > military
            > strategists. but then, what u envisaged, that they could have first
            > consolidated power first before confronting in a few generation's time
            the
            > resource-rich america is also not workable. around 1944, america already
            > has
            > the atomic bomb coming, which hitler's nazis did not have. this would
            make
            > a
            > big difference as far as power and military might is concerned, if power
            > is
            > the final deciding matter, and not morality, of hitler's nazis staying
            on.
            > the moment america invented successfully the atomic bombs, hitler's
            nazis
            > is
            > practically history. of course, if hitler had the atomic bomb and not
            the
            > rest of the world, at least half the world today will be saluting "hail
            > hitler!!".
            >
            > james.
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
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          • Bill Harris
            James, Russia had the bomb, yet they failed to survive. National Socialism had deterioriated into nothing more than dictatorship. Perhaps it never was more
            Message 5 of 21 , Feb 25, 2002
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              James, Russia had the bomb, yet they failed to survive. National Socialism
              had deterioriated into nothing more than dictatorship. Perhaps it never was
              more than that. How would Hitler have delt with the problem of succession?
              Right now democracy with all it`s troubles seems our best system. Something
              new will evolve but we cannot see the future. Bill
              ----- Original Message -----
              From: "james tan" <tyjfk@...>
              To: <WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com>
              Sent: Saturday, February 23, 2002 8:30 PM
              Subject: [existlist] Re: Choice and Action


              >
              > i tend to think that nazis failed because of hitler in the later days; he
              > was too self-confident and self-obsessed to heed the advice of his
              military
              > strategists. but then, what u envisaged, that they could have first
              > consolidated power first before confronting in a few generation's time the
              > resource-rich america is also not workable. around 1944, america already
              has
              > the atomic bomb coming, which hitler's nazis did not have. this would make
              a
              > big difference as far as power and military might is concerned, if power
              is
              > the final deciding matter, and not morality, of hitler's nazis staying on.
              > the moment america invented successfully the atomic bombs, hitler's nazis
              is
              > practically history. of course, if hitler had the atomic bomb and not the
              > rest of the world, at least half the world today will be saluting "hail
              > hitler!!".
              >
              > james.
              >
              >
              > From: "swmaerske" <SWMirsky@...>
              > Reply-To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com
              > To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com
              > Subject: [WisdomForum] Re: Choice and Action
              > Date: Sun, 24 Feb 2002 01:21:10 -0000
              >
              > Ah, now we're getting somewhere. You are right in terms of real
              > history. Nazism for Germany was a mistake because of their size
              > relative to the rest of the world. But they came mighty close, didn't
              > they? Had they shrewder leaders, they might have successfully carved
              > up the world in the near term while laying the groundwork for long
              > term domination in the future. Hitler went too far and didn't have
              > the muscle to see it through. The USA was too rich in resources,
              > population and economic capacity (and too far from his reach) to have
              > been swallowed in one gulp. What he and his partners needed to do was
              > to swallow Europe and parts of Asia (with the USSR firmly in his
              > camp) in the first go-round and beat us down over a couple of
              > generations thereafter. He chose wrongly and the rest, as they say,
              > is history. But it didn't have to go that way and I guess my point is
              > that had they made different choices and succeeded, there would be
              > less to say against Nazism, aside from the fact that to many of us it
              > is a reprehensible ideology. And that is the rub. Is it reprehensible
              > only because we don't like it, approve it, or are threatened by it?
              > Or is it reprehensible because of some real moral deficiency?
              >
              > I am interested in the idea of morality in itself. Now your point
              > about moralities being the result of societal competition is an
              > interesting one. It could very well be that human beings, as social
              > creatures with language and rational faculties, naturally
              > develop "moral systems" as Popper seems to be suggesting, sets of
              > social rules, conventions, which are seen to carry a certain
              > authority within their systems. Since all human beings exist in some
              > society and societies relate to one another, it follows that moral
              > systems and rules can then be discussed and transferred between
              > societies. In our modern world, where societies all get jumbled
              > together on a shrinking planet, moralities are then in a kind of flux
              > as differing systems encounter and collide with one another. But then
              > this leads to a new problem: how do we determine the "right" morality
              > among the competing players?
              >
              > Back then again to Nazism. On an historical basis, it lost out, as
              > did the Marxist-Leninst ethos and as have many others in history.
              > (Note, I am assuming here that such systems carry particular moral
              > viewpoints, or systems, within their larger ideologies.) But, today,
              > there are certainly others, including radical Fundamentalist Islam
              > which clearly hold a different worldview than our western one and is
              > part and parcel of the larger Islamic tradition. (Whether it comes
              > ultimately to define that tradition is an issue of historical
              > contingency but I would argue that, at least today, it is clearly a
              > significant part of mainstream Islamic thinking, which, itself, is
              > quite distinct from the view of mankind and the worldview we harbor
              > in the so-called West.)
              >
              > (Friday's Wall Street Journal had an interesting argument likening
              > the developing post-Communist mainland Chinese state to the
              > corporatocracy of fascism rather than to the democratic system of
              > capitalism, suggesting that we are seeing the development of a new
              > alternative model to our western systems: a model of fascism based
              > not on energetic, charismatic revolutionaries but on a pre-existing,
              > entrenched bureaucracy. The author suggests that we have never yet
              > seen such a system and that it may prove to be more stable than its
              > early twentieth century predecessors. In that case its viewpoints and
              > institutions may genuinely challenge ours, especially in light of the
              > fact that China is a bigger, more substantial nation than either
              > early twentieth century Germany or Italy were.)
              >
              > But back to the point about competing moralities. With the various
              > social collisions that arise in a world where contact between nations
              > is so speedy and easy, how do we choose between competing moralities?
              > Are they all equal and do they only have validity within the context
              > of the particular societies and worldviews from which they spring? Or
              > is there something more, a way of getting at morality which is
              > somehow universal, which allows moral judgements that transcend
              > societies and the particular worldviews of particular human groups in
              > the world?
              >
              > I'd like to argue for a universalism but I'm not yet convinced one
              > can. Like you, I see the very relativistic aspect of morality (in
              > that much of what we call morality is societally based) but, unlike
              > you, I am not convinced that it is ultimately just a matter of what's
              > best for the longevity of a particular society or group of people. I
              > come back to the view that history is not pre-ordained and the bad
              > guys can, and often do, triumph.
              >
              > By "bad" I mean the ones whose viewpoints are both antithetical and
              > harmful to mine. And there, again, is the relativistic rub since to
              > Osama et al, I am the bad guy. As are you and, most probably, the
              > vast majority of correspondents on this list. I like to think that
              > they won't win but I'm sure they're thinking the same about me.
              > (Remember Mullah Omar's prediction that America will fall in a matter
              > of months?) And thinking someone will lose is not a guarantee they
              > will, despite some people's beliefs that we "make our own reality".
              > Again, witness the emptiness of this Mullah's apparently wishful
              > thinking.
              >
              > Now I try to be pluralistic and respect others' views but some of
              > those views are, themselves, ruthlessly exclusionary. They wish me
              > dead and cannot be said, in any manner of speaking, to respect my
              > views. (Of course, I recall in the early days of the Afghan
              > situation, that a mullah in Pakistan, when asked by a journalist if
              > there was any way, in his mind, George Bush could avoid further
              > problems with radical Islam, replied there was, if he converted to
              > Islam! Hardly a pluralistic viewpoint but at least it offered an
              > alternative to extinction!) The issue, then is whether or not there
              > is an argument for democratic pluralism as a moral value that goes
              > beyond particular societal viewpoints. And whether we can say that a
              > Hitler or a bin Laden or a Milosevic is morally wrong. Or if they are
              > only wrong if and when we can beat them.
              >
              > SWM
              >
              >
              > --- In WisdomForum@y..., "Christopher Bobo" <cbobo@m...> wrote:
              > SWM: "Or is it just that we don't want to be their victims? If so,
              > then why should we not, ourselves, be Nazis (or the like)? That's one
              > way to avoid being their victims, right? Or, if we can protect
              > ourselves from them, then what do we care what they do to
              > others?"
              >
              > Cbobo: " . . .From an evolutionary point of view, it has become
              > popular to argue that cooperative schemes of social interaction work
              > better and ensure survival of the bearer better than non-cooperative
              > schemes. A moral system that leads one into violent conflict with
              > the world has, IMHO, a very low survival probability. However, a
              > system based on mutual respect, cooperation and reciprocal benefit is
              > much more likely to ensure the survival of its adherents and to
              > ensure that it is passed along and propagated. I really think that
              > materially, it was highly unlikely that the Nazi's could prevail in
              > their scheme. Germany is a small country with limited resources,
              > hubris can carry one only so far. One reason that it is not good to
              > be a Nazi because to be a Nazi is to be committed to the belief of
              > untruths--e.g., the racial superiorty of the Aryan race. Next, one
              > is committed to the view that Arryans deserve more than others--i.e,
              > lebensraum. Attached to these beliefs is a commitment to the use of
              > violence. The use of violence certainly violates our intuition that
              > a proper ethical system requires empathy toward others.
              >
              > As for which ethical system is correct--deontological, utilitarian,
              > emotive empiricism, teleological--I think the correct approach is
              > pluralistic. Each systems appropriately and usefully describes an
              > aspect of the human moral experience. Each one will have its
              > beneficial applications, but also each one will have its drawbacks.
              > For instance, with respect to the issue of torture, a
              > consequentialist or teleological ethic would seem to permit torture
              > under certain circumstances while a deontological a la Kantian ethic
              > would seem to oppose the use of torture under all
              > circumstances."
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > _________________________________________________________________
              > Join the world's largest e-mail service with MSN Hotmail.
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            • james tan
              swm, i think the most convenient way of finding absolute and ultimate justification for ethics & morality is through religion. but what is most convenient is
              Message 6 of 21 , Mar 4, 2002
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                swm,

                i think the most convenient way of finding absolute and ultimate
                justification for ethics & morality is through religion. but what is most
                convenient is not necessarily correct. god gave moses the ten commandments,
                and that was it; the world now had the contents of what constitute morality,
                it seems. when u see how worshippers bow most piously in supplication to
                their god, pray for god's will in their lives, beg for forgiveness of their
                sins, u know that the answer has been found. the bible say jesus is god, the
                koran says allah is god (& mohammad is his prophet), buddha says he was god.
                jesus, mohammad, buddha certainly seems dead, but nietzsche said god himself
                is also dead. nietzsche might be wrong (might not), but suppose he is not
                wrong, how then do we know what is right and wrong? the russian novelist
                dostoyesky said: if there is no god, all things are permissible. clearly,
                there is nothing objective about ethics, and i think this for the
                existentialist constitute in part the absurd. i believe man is built in with
                a strong psychological need for the eternal, the absolute, but yet there is
                none; man yearn for foundation, but he is standing on quicksand; all in all,
                it is absurd. he wants to know absolutely what is good and bad, but he is
                bombarded with a diversity of 'absolutes', in the end he is still reduced to
                himself: he still has to choose a 'absolute'. he hopes he could have a guide
                to choose, but alas what then is the guide of choosing that particular
                guide? he can regress forever in this way, and if he is to live at all, he
                has to stop somewhere at some point; guess what, that point is not god, it
                is himself. for even a god will cease to be god if he dont believe in him;
                kierkegaard said that truth is subjectivity. if i am not wrong, that is the
                stance of the existentialist, the 'plight' of man. the man who think that
                morality is objective is merely projecting his subjective into the objective
                and then funnily mistaken it for objective; such projection is all too
                common, all too human; u see it in everyday life and psychoanalysis all the
                time. but when the existentialist says that the world is absurd, the term is
                a pejorative one only for those who need to think that there are definitive,
                objective answers to human questions. the world make sense, but not in the
                way orthodox philosophy supposes that it does. u see, the existentialist,
                who believe in the implication of radical freedom (rightly or wrongly), do
                not think there is a so-called essence to goodness or badness, so that it is
                enough for the true and good to exist to prevail, and indeed they prevail
                precisely to the extent to which we allow them to be, without interference
                on our part. we got so used to such way of thinking that it does not strike
                us as odd that the good is always there, and evil sould be considered not to
                exist apart from its manifestation, such as hitler's holocaust or the sep 11
                attacks. but maybe simone de beauvoir would dismiss that as a phony
                explanation: it is not a mysterious essence of germanness or islamness,
                goodness or badness, that propel them to act that way. hitler and bin laden
                was responding to a concrete situation in their own way which they have
                freely chosen and fully responsible; one could hardly blame the jews or the
                essence of germanness in regards to hitler's action, or the koran or the
                american for bin laden's choice. jean-paul sartre's "being and nothingness"
                suggests the possibility of an action for the first time authentic in that
                it refuses to be deflected from its immediate purpose by consideration for a
                non-existence Absolute or Essence, which echo nietzsche's thought.

                but sartre's book is at most the foundation for an ethics and not a treatise
                in ethics in the way g.e. moore's "prinicpia ethica" is. sartre's ontology
                cannot give us a set of values that says it is universally valid, and any
                claim to it would be 'bad faith'. sartre's radical freedom values the
                individual to a high degree. but he did give a foundation for values in his
                analysis of human relationship, bad faith, etc, and provide not so much
                moral values as what kiekeggard would call 'existential values'. it is not
                so much the specific values that concern sartre, but the manner of making
                those choices. while moore might have give specific principles & concrete
                prescription instructing us what to do, or what ought to do, sartre 'merely'
                set up a framework within which we can make those judgement (and not helping
                us to make those judgement). sartre is the last kind of person who would
                tell u what u ought to do, his "being and nothingness" precludes any
                possible defense of normative ethics. this attitude of sartre is the same
                nihilism we have seen in kierkegaard, nietzsche, heidegger, camus, de
                beauvoir. to all of them, there can be no ultimate justification for
                normative ethics. what concerned heidegger, for example, is authenticity,
                i.e. the manner in which u make those choice, and not the choice itself. (it
                is curious but not entirely surprising that heidegger should have endorsed
                the nazi ideology). i.e., what normative system of values one chooses is not
                open to judgement, but whether or not he chooses it in freedom is open to
                judgement. it doesn't matter if one is muslim or christian or a nazi, the
                concern for the existentialist is whether u are forced (by tradition or
                cultural and social expectation or parental pressure, or religious
                authority, or political demands, or whatnots..), or, whether u choose it
                freely, congurently with your sense of who u are. a person cannot,
                therefore, make a wrong choice of values, but he can make his choice
                wrongly. kiekegaard said: it is not what u choose, but how u choose that is
                important. in "ethics of ambiguity", de beauvoir said: to will oneself
                moral, and to will oneself free are one and the same thing. although
                existentialim does not tell us what to do (it must be obvious by now why
                this is so), it is not empty; for it says that not only we are free, we muct
                act, i.e. must commit ourselves.

                is it then possible to criticize hitler or bin laden? seems not. the
                existentialist will not criticise specific course of action, but in the
                manner he choose it. did hitler choose his purpose and committment in all
                clearness and in all sincerety, whatever that purpose may be it is
                impossible for him to prefer another.. other than psychoanalysing hitler
                whether he deceived himself, there is no ground or higher authority of
                goodness or badness or some system of normative ethics on which to criticize
                him his actions. one can say he is 'obviously' evil, but what is obvious to
                one may not necessarily be accepted by another. one can say there is a
                consensus in humanity what is the good and bad, but that is falling back to
                essence and absolute; besides, the 'consensus' of german nazis and the
                overwhelming majority of german citizens at the time is supportive of the
                nazi ideology - without such consensus among the german citizens, hitler
                could not do what he was doing. (the same thing cannot be said of bin
                laden's action among the world's muslims; in fact, the overwhelming majority
                of muslims disown him as a 'true' muslim, and such consensus is comforting
                to hear; essence of a 'true' muslim is possible here because all the dogmas
                are contained in the koran). the insistence upon freedom from authority is
                what sharply distinguish the existentialist from kant, who taught that there
                clearly is a rational standard of behaviour, that man were casually free to
                choose but not rationally free to choose their own values ("posit their own
                ends"). sartre, however, retorts in his existentialism that there is no
                standard of correctness for one's choice (even though he was himself a
                resistance fighter in practical life): if reason is argued to be the
                ultimate justification of morality, one is nevertheless free to be
                'irrational'. if god is posited as the ultimate source of all true values,
                one is free to be irreverent, and if human nature is cited as supported for
                a principle, then one is free to behave 'unnaturally'. (this is not to say
                one is free from the consequences of rejecting a value; one will still be
                hanged if one freely choose to murder, for example). u may judge that hitler
                is morally wrong; but he would not recognise the validity of ur judgement
                even if u could catch him and blow his head off point blank - he would only
                feel his freedom is being interfered by a superior power, his only regret is
                his military failure, not moral deprivation. hitler, therefore, cannot be
                punished by an 'authority' even though he could be forced to endure pain and
                inconvenience that would otherwise constitute punishment.

                with kant, sartre teaches that "the only thing unqualifiedly good is a good
                will". but for sartre, the good will is not one that makes correct
                (rational) choice; but one that sees itself as always making choices. a bad
                will is not one that chooses incorrectly (irrationally), but one that does
                not see itself as a choice. for sartre, there is no point in talking about
                free responsible choices if the values that are chosen are 'a priori given',
                whether given by one's govt, society, culture, parents, religions. there is
                no excuse for sartre, and the last thing he would want is someone who says,
                "i couldn't help it,..."; his 'ethics' is the very antithesis of an ethics
                of arbitrariness and irresponsibiity, in that the choice, action and
                responsibility has to be fully bored by the individual.

                for merleau-ponty, to be a dictator, or a student, or a pimp, or a lecturer,
                or a prostitute, a jew, a chinese, is already a source, not only of
                'facticity' upon which we base our choices, but of intentions and interests
                and possibilities. he thought that one's situation cannot be separated from
                his perceptions, and one's choices cannot be separate from his interests.
                finding myself as a dictator is already finding myself 'thrown' into a set
                of choices and preferences. everyday values are strictly 'given', nor are
                they strictly chosen, since one is 'thrown' into them before one has any
                chance to 'choose'. it is somewhat akin to a muslim becoming a muslim
                because he is born in a strongly muslim family and society, and much as he
                could choose not to become a muslim, the severe and intense social
                repurcussion that is sure to occur is too much to bear emotionally. the same
                could be said for some of the germans living in hitler's nazism??! in a
                sense, ponty re-introduces hegel's notion of 'sittlichkeit' as a substitute
                for both the notion of 'given values' and sartre and kiekegaard's
                exaggerated notion of existential choice. to ponty, one can not, in sartre's
                terms, "wrench himself away" from his situation, but must always make
                less-than-absolute choices within the perspective and the prejudicial
                atmosphere of his situation.

                does existentialism open the way to all manners of horror? does chaos break
                loose? sartre was optimistic: man will choose to be humane as well as human.
                sartre placed its highest confidence in man. it is just those philosophies
                and moralities that depend on sanctions, authority, and 'given' values that
                presume man will naturally kill, plunder, rape, molest. traditional
                christianity is not so optimistic about man: it explicitly see man as
                pathetically unable to resist temptation to 'evil' without the most horrid
                of threats, such as burning in hell forever and ever. the freedom that man
                have and allowed to have, sartre, nietzsche, kierkegaard and the likes
                believe, will not lead to chaos and moral deprivation, but to artistic
                sensitivity, deeply felt religion, new conscience. man will, without being
                ordered, instructed, forced by man or nature, choose to be humane. and what
                is forced is not necessarily followed also (many religions have very strong
                sanction against premarital sex, for example; ironically, what is sanctioned
                is not necessarily obeyed - the number of incidents of premarital sex among
                those who profess to be in a religion is much higher than those who profess
                without religion - this happens in my country but may just be a coincidence
                with no strong correlation). to give up belief in 'morality' as a set of a
                priori is not to take the role of a moral depraved, rather, it is to set
                aside invalid justifications and become moral for the right reasons -
                because one commit himself. nietzsche's superman or overman is not a nazi
                prototype. why should we suppose man will do evil if we remove the forces of
                authority of 'good'? is man so degrading?

                james.


                From: "swmaerske" <SWMirsky@...>
                Reply-To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com
                To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com
                Subject: [WisdomForum] Re: Choice and Action
                Date: Sun, 03 Mar 2002 01:55:41 -0000

                Hmmm, so Hitler did what he did and therefore THAT made it good?

                Is anything anyone does good because they do it? If so, then the
                term "good" must be meaningless because the point of it is to use it
                to delineate between competing possibilities, to apply it in such a
                way that it guides our choices between competing actions.

                But from what you have said re: the Sartrian definition (if yours is
                a fair rendition of it), then any old action is good for the person
                who does it.

                Of course, as we've said before, everyone thinks that what they are
                doing is good or they wouldn't be doing it. Hitler and his minions
                didn't rub their hands together and say "boy, are we evil, the
                world's gonna hate us for all the rotten things we are doing." Rather
                they said that they were doing what had to be done to save and purify
                civilization and the superior race of mankind who rightfully owned
                it. In fact, they believed mankind would thank them for what they did
                some day.

                By your definition, this understanding they had was as good as
                Churchill's, that they were human monsters, so long as both they and
                Churchill believed and acted upon their beliefs fully and in all
                sincerity.

                I'm sure there must be more to the existential (and Sartrian)
                definition of good than that!

                But I would make one further point here. Over the weekend I began to
                re-read G. E. Moore's PRINCIPIA ETHICA, a book I found most edifying
                in my college days. Have not gotten very far into it but he does
                raise an interesting point in the very beginning and that is there is
                a difference between asking what is good and what good means. The
                first is to ask what is it that we should strive to obtain or do? The
                second is to ask what is (are) the characteristic(s) about anything
                that would make it good. He states, early on, that this is part and
                parcel of a serious logical error made by many philosophers
                throughout history, going back to Aristotle, involving the confusion
                of "the good" with "good". Philosophers have routinely claimed that a
                certain thing or state or condition was "the good" and that for
                anything to really be deemed good, it would have to have this within
                it or be part of the thing deemed to be the ultimate good.

                Thus, some philosopher's held that pleasure was the good and
                therefore defined good. Others had other suggestions, e.g.,
                happiness. Moore's point was that any time one could ask, in a given
                circumstance, if a thing were good, then it could not be the same
                thing as good, itself, since it could also not be good (or we
                wouldn't be able to ask if it were good). For instance there are
                conditions in which pleasure manifestly is good, but also conditions
                in which it is not.

                He called this the naturalistic fallacy and proceeded to claim that
                good was a simple notion akin to our notion of a sense datum like the
                color yellow. It was not subject to definition, one could only point
                at it and say the name. In this he was suggesting that we intuit (in
                the Kantian sense) our knowledge of good.

                "I can't explain it to you but I know it when I see it."

                Of course, "good" does not designate a sense datum so there is, in
                fact, nothing to point to. Or to "see". If there were, by his
                analysis, then the thing we sensed would be subject to the same test,
                i.e., "it is X but is it good?"

                Later philosophers were dissatisfied by his early twentieth century
                formulation and discarded it in favor of claiming that the
                term "good", because it really designated no discernible thing in the
                wrold, was nonsense, at worst, emotivist, at best. Still later, after
                Wittgentein, people began to re-think the uses of language and to
                conclude that all language usage did not have to adhere to the
                scientific/empirical model of designating things in the world. So R.
                M. Hare, for instance, asserted that to make value statements (and
                moral claims, a sub-set of all value statements) was really to use
                language in its prescriptive mode as opposed to its denotative mode.
                So saying a thing was good, he pointed out, was tantamount to saying
                one should seek to obtain it or to do it. Though the statement had
                the form of designating a thing, it really did not do that at all.

                (By the way, I think, that if we understand that all things are not
                based on sense data in the physical world, then the ordinary usage
                of "good" does make sense, i.e., saying a thing is good is really
                designating a relationship between the thing and the speaker as
                follows: "X is good" equals the more complex statement that "there is
                something about X which is also a reason to obtain X", but this is a
                technical issue and, I'm sure, of little interest to most folks here.
                But I do not see a reason to revert to Hare's denial of content to
                the word "good", since the word really designates that particular
                relationship between speaker and thing.)

                While this all restored a rationale for the legitmacy of value
                language, it didn't do much for asserting a basis for moral claims.
                Hare, in his follow-up book, FREEDOM AND REASON, went on to revert
                back to the Kantian principle of universalizability, but I must admit
                I never found it very convincing. Certainly Osama bin Laden would
                hold that what he does warrants universalizing, i.e., that everyone
                ought to do it (submit to Islam and destroy those who, in failing to
                submit, pose a "threat" to the Umma, while fully dominating all those
                that don't). Since he doesn't recognize the value of a heterogeneous
                world, his application of the principle of universalizability would
                not yield the kind of morality we think (intuitively?) is right.

                Hitler, too, would have applied this principle in a way that does not
                yield morality as we understand it since he would have excluded from
                the universe a whole class of "sub-humanity" (and, in fact, he
                attempted to actually make that a reality).

                My interest here is in how we can explore the moral questions to
                determine what constitutes moral goodness. And to figure out what we
                ought to do. Existentialism may have something to offer so I look
                forward to your additional comments from that standpoint.

                SWM

                --- In WisdomForum@y..., "james tan" <tyjfk@h...> wrote:
                >
                > if i don't understand sartre wrongly, there is no absolute or
                metaphysical
                > validity to what is 'good' except in man, more specifically in the
                freedom
                > of man; ie, it is defined by man. it is therefore not so much that
                we do
                > something because it is good, but it is good because we do it (i.e.
                define
                > it by our choice and action).
                >
                > james.
                >
                >
                > From: "swmaerske" <SWMirsky@a...>
                > Reply-To: WisdomForum@y...
                > To: WisdomForum@y...
                > Subject: [WisdomForum] Re: Choice and Action
                > Date: Fri, 01 Mar 2002 22:33:39 -0000
                >
                > Although you are missing my point in the way I am using the term, I
                > will not belabor it. In the interests of kicking this discussion off
                > and moving onto some substantive issues, I will accept your desire
                to
                > avoid the term "game" for now. Let's roll. What's a right? What
                > is "good"? What is moral? How do we add content to these terms and
                > which content is the correct content? And how do we know? And can we
                > ever really know? -- SWM
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                > _________________________________________________________________
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                http://explorer.msn.com/intl.asp.









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              • Bill Harris
                James, Icompletely read your wellthought out post. I have often stated a preference for law over morals. We all agree that complete personal freedom is
                Message 7 of 21 , Mar 5, 2002
                • 0 Attachment
                  James, Icompletely read your wellthought out post. I have often stated a
                  preference for law over morals. We all agree that complete personal freedom
                  is impossible in the real world. Law derived from a democratic process would
                  seem as good as we can do. Theistic religion may take centuries to fade
                  away, it may destroy us in the interum. We must teach science and it`s
                  foundation as the progressive tool of mankind. The weight of personal
                  choice is bearable if an individual can deduce his relative place in the
                  cosmos. It is a huge order to supplant all the misinformation that pervades
                  so much of society. When I saw I am crass I mean I wish to live my life
                  well. I would not martyr myself for some ideal. None of this will transcend
                  this universe, nor will we. The affairs of man may be impossibly snarled so
                  as to make Bookdocs absurdist principles the operant mode. If he is correct
                  then the time and will we expend in attempting to order our situations are
                  wasted. I take a middle course, not a martyr nor one bent only on personal
                  gratification. You might call me a traitor to my personal freedom as I bend
                  to democratic law, you may call me crass as I pursue my personal wellbeing
                  rather than supposed ideals. I wish to live in the light of the possible,
                  that turns out to be a big job. It is an everchanging job. I think it is the
                  job that does the most good. Bill
                  ----- Original Message -----
                  From: "james tan" <tyjfk@...>
                  To: <WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com>
                  Sent: Monday, March 04, 2002 11:36 PM
                  Subject: [existlist] Re: Choice and Action


                  >
                  >
                  > swm,
                  >
                  > i think the most convenient way of finding absolute and ultimate
                  > justification for ethics & morality is through religion. but what is most
                  > convenient is not necessarily correct. god gave moses the ten
                  commandments,
                  > and that was it; the world now had the contents of what constitute
                  morality,
                  > it seems. when u see how worshippers bow most piously in supplication to
                  > their god, pray for god's will in their lives, beg for forgiveness of
                  their
                  > sins, u know that the answer has been found. the bible say jesus is god,
                  the
                  > koran says allah is god (& mohammad is his prophet), buddha says he was
                  god.
                  > jesus, mohammad, buddha certainly seems dead, but nietzsche said god
                  himself
                  > is also dead. nietzsche might be wrong (might not), but suppose he is not
                  > wrong, how then do we know what is right and wrong? the russian novelist
                  > dostoyesky said: if there is no god, all things are permissible. clearly,
                  > there is nothing objective about ethics, and i think this for the
                  > existentialist constitute in part the absurd. i believe man is built in
                  with
                  > a strong psychological need for the eternal, the absolute, but yet there
                  is
                  > none; man yearn for foundation, but he is standing on quicksand; all in
                  all,
                  > it is absurd. he wants to know absolutely what is good and bad, but he is
                  > bombarded with a diversity of 'absolutes', in the end he is still reduced
                  to
                  > himself: he still has to choose a 'absolute'. he hopes he could have a
                  guide
                  > to choose, but alas what then is the guide of choosing that particular
                  > guide? he can regress forever in this way, and if he is to live at all, he
                  > has to stop somewhere at some point; guess what, that point is not god, it
                  > is himself. for even a god will cease to be god if he dont believe in him;
                  > kierkegaard said that truth is subjectivity. if i am not wrong, that is
                  the
                  > stance of the existentialist, the 'plight' of man. the man who think that
                  > morality is objective is merely projecting his subjective into the
                  objective
                  > and then funnily mistaken it for objective; such projection is all too
                  > common, all too human; u see it in everyday life and psychoanalysis all
                  the
                  > time. but when the existentialist says that the world is absurd, the term
                  is
                  > a pejorative one only for those who need to think that there are
                  definitive,
                  > objective answers to human questions. the world make sense, but not in the
                  > way orthodox philosophy supposes that it does. u see, the existentialist,
                  > who believe in the implication of radical freedom (rightly or wrongly), do
                  > not think there is a so-called essence to goodness or badness, so that it
                  is
                  > enough for the true and good to exist to prevail, and indeed they prevail
                  > precisely to the extent to which we allow them to be, without interference
                  > on our part. we got so used to such way of thinking that it does not
                  strike
                  > us as odd that the good is always there, and evil sould be considered not
                  to
                  > exist apart from its manifestation, such as hitler's holocaust or the sep
                  11
                  > attacks. but maybe simone de beauvoir would dismiss that as a phony
                  > explanation: it is not a mysterious essence of germanness or islamness,
                  > goodness or badness, that propel them to act that way. hitler and bin
                  laden
                  > was responding to a concrete situation in their own way which they have
                  > freely chosen and fully responsible; one could hardly blame the jews or
                  the
                  > essence of germanness in regards to hitler's action, or the koran or the
                  > american for bin laden's choice. jean-paul sartre's "being and
                  nothingness"
                  > suggests the possibility of an action for the first time authentic in that
                  > it refuses to be deflected from its immediate purpose by consideration for
                  a
                  > non-existence Absolute or Essence, which echo nietzsche's thought.
                  >
                  > but sartre's book is at most the foundation for an ethics and not a
                  treatise
                  > in ethics in the way g.e. moore's "prinicpia ethica" is. sartre's ontology
                  > cannot give us a set of values that says it is universally valid, and any
                  > claim to it would be 'bad faith'. sartre's radical freedom values the
                  > individual to a high degree. but he did give a foundation for values in
                  his
                  > analysis of human relationship, bad faith, etc, and provide not so much
                  > moral values as what kiekeggard would call 'existential values'. it is not
                  > so much the specific values that concern sartre, but the manner of making
                  > those choices. while moore might have give specific principles & concrete

                  > prescription instructing us what to do, or what ought to do, sartre
                  'merely'
                  > set up a framework within which we can make those judgement (and not
                  helping
                  > us to make those judgement). sartre is the last kind of person who would
                  > tell u what u ought to do, his "being and nothingness" precludes any
                  > possible defense of normative ethics. this attitude of sartre is the same
                  > nihilism we have seen in kierkegaard, nietzsche, heidegger, camus, de
                  > beauvoir. to all of them, there can be no ultimate justification for
                  > normative ethics. what concerned heidegger, for example, is authenticity,
                  > i.e. the manner in which u make those choice, and not the choice itself.
                  (it
                  > is curious but not entirely surprising that heidegger should have endorsed
                  > the nazi ideology). i.e., what normative system of values one chooses is
                  not
                  > open to judgement, but whether or not he chooses it in freedom is open to
                  > judgement. it doesn't matter if one is muslim or christian or a nazi, the
                  > concern for the existentialist is whether u are forced (by tradition or
                  > cultural and social expectation or parental pressure, or religious
                  > authority, or political demands, or whatnots..), or, whether u choose it
                  > freely, congurently with your sense of who u are. a person cannot,
                  > therefore, make a wrong choice of values, but he can make his choice
                  > wrongly. kiekegaard said: it is not what u choose, but how u choose that
                  is
                  > important. in "ethics of ambiguity", de beauvoir said: to will oneself
                  > moral, and to will oneself free are one and the same thing. although
                  > existentialim does not tell us what to do (it must be obvious by now why
                  > this is so), it is not empty; for it says that not only we are free, we
                  muct
                  > act, i.e. must commit ourselves.
                  >
                  > is it then possible to criticize hitler or bin laden? seems not. the
                  > existentialist will not criticise specific course of action, but in the
                  > manner he choose it. did hitler choose his purpose and committment in all
                  > clearness and in all sincerety, whatever that purpose may be it is
                  > impossible for him to prefer another.. other than psychoanalysing hitler
                  > whether he deceived himself, there is no ground or higher authority of
                  > goodness or badness or some system of normative ethics on which to
                  criticize
                  > him his actions. one can say he is 'obviously' evil, but what is obvious
                  to
                  > one may not necessarily be accepted by another. one can say there is a
                  > consensus in humanity what is the good and bad, but that is falling back
                  to
                  > essence and absolute; besides, the 'consensus' of german nazis and the
                  > overwhelming majority of german citizens at the time is supportive of the
                  > nazi ideology - without such consensus among the german citizens, hitler
                  > could not do what he was doing. (the same thing cannot be said of bin
                  > laden's action among the world's muslims; in fact, the overwhelming
                  majority
                  > of muslims disown him as a 'true' muslim, and such consensus is comforting
                  > to hear; essence of a 'true' muslim is possible here because all the
                  dogmas
                  > are contained in the koran). the insistence upon freedom from authority is
                  > what sharply distinguish the existentialist from kant, who taught that
                  there
                  > clearly is a rational standard of behaviour, that man were casually free
                  to
                  > choose but not rationally free to choose their own values ("posit their
                  own
                  > ends"). sartre, however, retorts in his existentialism that there is no
                  > standard of correctness for one's choice (even though he was himself a
                  > resistance fighter in practical life): if reason is argued to be the
                  > ultimate justification of morality, one is nevertheless free to be
                  > 'irrational'. if god is posited as the ultimate source of all true values,
                  > one is free to be irreverent, and if human nature is cited as supported
                  for
                  > a principle, then one is free to behave 'unnaturally'. (this is not to say
                  > one is free from the consequences of rejecting a value; one will still be
                  > hanged if one freely choose to murder, for example). u may judge that
                  hitler
                  > is morally wrong; but he would not recognise the validity of ur judgement
                  > even if u could catch him and blow his head off point blank - he would
                  only
                  > feel his freedom is being interfered by a superior power, his only regret
                  is
                  > his military failure, not moral deprivation. hitler, therefore, cannot be
                  > punished by an 'authority' even though he could be forced to endure pain
                  and
                  > inconvenience that would otherwise constitute punishment.
                  >
                  > with kant, sartre teaches that "the only thing unqualifiedly good is a
                  good
                  > will". but for sartre, the good will is not one that makes correct
                  > (rational) choice; but one that sees itself as always making choices. a
                  bad
                  > will is not one that chooses incorrectly (irrationally), but one that does
                  > not see itself as a choice. for sartre, there is no point in talking about
                  > free responsible choices if the values that are chosen are 'a priori
                  given',
                  > whether given by one's govt, society, culture, parents, religions. there
                  is
                  > no excuse for sartre, and the last thing he would want is someone who
                  says,
                  > "i couldn't help it,..."; his 'ethics' is the very antithesis of an ethics
                  > of arbitrariness and irresponsibiity, in that the choice, action and
                  > responsibility has to be fully bored by the individual.
                  >
                  > for merleau-ponty, to be a dictator, or a student, or a pimp, or a
                  lecturer,
                  > or a prostitute, a jew, a chinese, is already a source, not only of
                  > 'facticity' upon which we base our choices, but of intentions and
                  interests
                  > and possibilities. he thought that one's situation cannot be separated
                  from
                  > his perceptions, and one's choices cannot be separate from his interests.
                  > finding myself as a dictator is already finding myself 'thrown' into a set
                  > of choices and preferences. everyday values are strictly 'given', nor are
                  > they strictly chosen, since one is 'thrown' into them before one has any
                  > chance to 'choose'. it is somewhat akin to a muslim becoming a muslim
                  > because he is born in a strongly muslim family and society, and much as he
                  > could choose not to become a muslim, the severe and intense social
                  > repurcussion that is sure to occur is too much to bear emotionally. the
                  same
                  > could be said for some of the germans living in hitler's nazism??! in a
                  > sense, ponty re-introduces hegel's notion of 'sittlichkeit' as a
                  substitute
                  > for both the notion of 'given values' and sartre and kiekegaard's
                  > exaggerated notion of existential choice. to ponty, one can not, in
                  sartre's
                  > terms, "wrench himself away" from his situation, but must always make
                  > less-than-absolute choices within the perspective and the prejudicial
                  > atmosphere of his situation.
                  >
                  > does existentialism open the way to all manners of horror? does chaos
                  break
                  > loose? sartre was optimistic: man will choose to be humane as well as
                  human.
                  > sartre placed its highest confidence in man. it is just those philosophies
                  > and moralities that depend on sanctions, authority, and 'given' values
                  that
                  > presume man will naturally kill, plunder, rape, molest. traditional
                  > christianity is not so optimistic about man: it explicitly see man as
                  > pathetically unable to resist temptation to 'evil' without the most horrid
                  > of threats, such as burning in hell forever and ever. the freedom that man
                  > have and allowed to have, sartre, nietzsche, kierkegaard and the likes
                  > believe, will not lead to chaos and moral deprivation, but to artistic
                  > sensitivity, deeply felt religion, new conscience. man will, without being
                  > ordered, instructed, forced by man or nature, choose to be humane. and
                  what
                  > is forced is not necessarily followed also (many religions have very
                  strong
                  > sanction against premarital sex, for example; ironically, what is
                  sanctioned
                  > is not necessarily obeyed - the number of incidents of premarital sex
                  among
                  > those who profess to be in a religion is much higher than those who
                  profess
                  > without religion - this happens in my country but may just be a
                  coincidence
                  > with no strong correlation). to give up belief in 'morality' as a set of a
                  > priori is not to take the role of a moral depraved, rather, it is to set
                  > aside invalid justifications and become moral for the right reasons -
                  > because one commit himself. nietzsche's superman or overman is not a nazi
                  > prototype. why should we suppose man will do evil if we remove the forces
                  of
                  > authority of 'good'? is man so degrading?
                  >
                  > james.
                  >
                  >
                  > From: "swmaerske" <SWMirsky@...>
                  > Reply-To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com
                  > To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com
                  > Subject: [WisdomForum] Re: Choice and Action
                  > Date: Sun, 03 Mar 2002 01:55:41 -0000
                  >
                  > Hmmm, so Hitler did what he did and therefore THAT made it good?
                  >
                  > Is anything anyone does good because they do it? If so, then the
                  > term "good" must be meaningless because the point of it is to use it
                  > to delineate between competing possibilities, to apply it in such a
                  > way that it guides our choices between competing actions.
                  >
                  > But from what you have said re: the Sartrian definition (if yours is
                  > a fair rendition of it), then any old action is good for the person
                  > who does it.
                  >
                  > Of course, as we've said before, everyone thinks that what they are
                  > doing is good or they wouldn't be doing it. Hitler and his minions
                  > didn't rub their hands together and say "boy, are we evil, the
                  > world's gonna hate us for all the rotten things we are doing." Rather
                  > they said that they were doing what had to be done to save and purify
                  > civilization and the superior race of mankind who rightfully owned
                  > it. In fact, they believed mankind would thank them for what they did
                  > some day.
                  >
                  > By your definition, this understanding they had was as good as
                  > Churchill's, that they were human monsters, so long as both they and
                  > Churchill believed and acted upon their beliefs fully and in all
                  > sincerity.
                  >
                  > I'm sure there must be more to the existential (and Sartrian)
                  > definition of good than that!
                  >
                  > But I would make one further point here. Over the weekend I began to
                  > re-read G. E. Moore's PRINCIPIA ETHICA, a book I found most edifying
                  > in my college days. Have not gotten very far into it but he does
                  > raise an interesting point in the very beginning and that is there is
                  > a difference between asking what is good and what good means. The
                  > first is to ask what is it that we should strive to obtain or do? The
                  > second is to ask what is (are) the characteristic(s) about anything
                  > that would make it good. He states, early on, that this is part and
                  > parcel of a serious logical error made by many philosophers
                  > throughout history, going back to Aristotle, involving the confusion
                  > of "the good" with "good". Philosophers have routinely claimed that a
                  > certain thing or state or condition was "the good" and that for
                  > anything to really be deemed good, it would have to have this within
                  > it or be part of the thing deemed to be the ultimate good.
                  >
                  > Thus, some philosopher's held that pleasure was the good and
                  > therefore defined good. Others had other suggestions, e.g.,
                  > happiness. Moore's point was that any time one could ask, in a given
                  > circumstance, if a thing were good, then it could not be the same
                  > thing as good, itself, since it could also not be good (or we
                  > wouldn't be able to ask if it were good). For instance there are
                  > conditions in which pleasure manifestly is good, but also conditions
                  > in which it is not.
                  >
                  > He called this the naturalistic fallacy and proceeded to claim that
                  > good was a simple notion akin to our notion of a sense datum like the
                  > color yellow. It was not subject to definition, one could only point
                  > at it and say the name. In this he was suggesting that we intuit (in
                  > the Kantian sense) our knowledge of good.
                  >
                  > "I can't explain it to you but I know it when I see it."
                  >
                  > Of course, "good" does not designate a sense datum so there is, in
                  > fact, nothing to point to. Or to "see". If there were, by his
                  > analysis, then the thing we sensed would be subject to the same test,
                  > i.e., "it is X but is it good?"
                  >
                  > Later philosophers were dissatisfied by his early twentieth century
                  > formulation and discarded it in favor of claiming that the
                  > term "good", because it really designated no discernible thing in the
                  > wrold, was nonsense, at worst, emotivist, at best. Still later, after
                  > Wittgentein, people began to re-think the uses of language and to
                  > conclude that all language usage did not have to adhere to the
                  > scientific/empirical model of designating things in the world. So R.
                  > M. Hare, for instance, asserted that to make value statements (and
                  > moral claims, a sub-set of all value statements) was really to use
                  > language in its prescriptive mode as opposed to its denotative mode.
                  > So saying a thing was good, he pointed out, was tantamount to saying
                  > one should seek to obtain it or to do it. Though the statement had
                  > the form of designating a thing, it really did not do that at all.
                  >
                  > (By the way, I think, that if we understand that all things are not
                  > based on sense data in the physical world, then the ordinary usage
                  > of "good" does make sense, i.e., saying a thing is good is really
                  > designating a relationship between the thing and the speaker as
                  > follows: "X is good" equals the more complex statement that "there is
                  > something about X which is also a reason to obtain X", but this is a
                  > technical issue and, I'm sure, of little interest to most folks here.
                  > But I do not see a reason to revert to Hare's denial of content to
                  > the word "good", since the word really designates that particular
                  > relationship between speaker and thing.)
                  >
                  > While this all restored a rationale for the legitmacy of value
                  > language, it didn't do much for asserting a basis for moral claims.
                  > Hare, in his follow-up book, FREEDOM AND REASON, went on to revert
                  > back to the Kantian principle of universalizability, but I must admit
                  > I never found it very convincing. Certainly Osama bin Laden would
                  > hold that what he does warrants universalizing, i.e., that everyone
                  > ought to do it (submit to Islam and destroy those who, in failing to
                  > submit, pose a "threat" to the Umma, while fully dominating all those
                  > that don't). Since he doesn't recognize the value of a heterogeneous
                  > world, his application of the principle of universalizability would
                  > not yield the kind of morality we think (intuitively?) is right.
                  >
                  > Hitler, too, would have applied this principle in a way that does not
                  > yield morality as we understand it since he would have excluded from
                  > the universe a whole class of "sub-humanity" (and, in fact, he
                  > attempted to actually make that a reality).
                  >
                  > My interest here is in how we can explore the moral questions to
                  > determine what constitutes moral goodness. And to figure out what we
                  > ought to do. Existentialism may have something to offer so I look
                  > forward to your additional comments from that standpoint.
                  >
                  > SWM
                  >
                  > --- In WisdomForum@y..., "james tan" <tyjfk@h...> wrote:
                  > >
                  > > if i don't understand sartre wrongly, there is no absolute or
                  > metaphysical
                  > > validity to what is 'good' except in man, more specifically in the
                  > freedom
                  > > of man; ie, it is defined by man. it is therefore not so much that
                  > we do
                  > > something because it is good, but it is good because we do it (i.e.
                  > define
                  > > it by our choice and action).
                  > >
                  > > james.
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > From: "swmaerske" <SWMirsky@a...>
                  > > Reply-To: WisdomForum@y...
                  > > To: WisdomForum@y...
                  > > Subject: [WisdomForum] Re: Choice and Action
                  > > Date: Fri, 01 Mar 2002 22:33:39 -0000
                  > >
                  > > Although you are missing my point in the way I am using the term, I
                  > > will not belabor it. In the interests of kicking this discussion off
                  > > and moving onto some substantive issues, I will accept your desire
                  > to
                  > > avoid the term "game" for now. Let's roll. What's a right? What
                  > > is "good"? What is moral? How do we add content to these terms and
                  > > which content is the correct content? And how do we know? And can we
                  > > ever really know? -- SWM
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > _________________________________________________________________
                  > > Get your FREE download of MSN Explorer at
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                • Eduard Alf
                  Bill, The problem with religion is the religion. My own view on the thing is that there is a need for something different which is not only understandable,
                  Message 8 of 21 , Mar 6, 2002
                  • 0 Attachment
                    Bill,

                    The problem with religion is the religion. My own view on the thing is that
                    there is a need for something different which is not only understandable,
                    but also user friendly. Religion of itself is not inherently evil. It is
                    the people who run the religion who are often the instigators of our
                    suffering.

                    I see the 21st century as the era in which a new religion is developed.
                    Something on the lines of eastern philosophy. The oneness of the universe
                    and all that stuff. I hope to be alive long enough to witness its beginning
                    ...

                    Stay tuned.

                    eduard
                    -----Original Message-----
                    From: Bill Harris [mailto:bhvwd@...]
                    Sent: Tuesday, March 05, 2002 3:42 PM
                    To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
                    Subject: Re: [existlist] Re: Choice and Action


                    James, Icompletely read your wellthought out post. I have often stated a
                    preference for law over morals. We all agree that complete personal
                    freedom
                    is impossible in the real world. Law derived from a democratic process
                    would
                    seem as good as we can do. Theistic religion may take centuries to fade
                    away, it may destroy us in the interum. We must teach science and it`s
                    foundation as the progressive tool of mankind. The weight of personal
                    choice is bearable if an individual can deduce his relative place in the
                    cosmos. It is a huge order to supplant all the misinformation that
                    pervades
                    so much of society. When I saw I am crass I mean I wish to live my life
                    well. I would not martyr myself for some ideal. None of this will
                    transcend
                    this universe, nor will we. The affairs of man may be impossibly snarled
                    so
                    as to make Bookdocs absurdist principles the operant mode. If he is
                    correct
                    then the time and will we expend in attempting to order our situations are
                    wasted. I take a middle course, not a martyr nor one bent only on personal
                    gratification. You might call me a traitor to my personal freedom as I
                    bend
                    to democratic law, you may call me crass as I pursue my personal
                    wellbeing
                    rather than supposed ideals. I wish to live in the light of the possible,
                    that turns out to be a big job. It is an everchanging job. I think it is
                    the
                    job that does the most good. Bill


                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Bill Harris
                    Eduard, At the core of Buddist teaching is the concept of oneness of creation. A modern man who has correctly realised his relative place in this construct,
                    Message 9 of 21 , Mar 6, 2002
                    • 0 Attachment
                      Eduard, At the core of Buddist teaching is the concept of oneness of
                      creation. A modern man who has correctly realised his relative place in this
                      construct, could fulfill that Buddist goal of achieving oneness. He would
                      accomplish it in an intellectual state, not a contemplative state. One has
                      a real basis, the other an imaginary mind set. Religion rests on the
                      imagined, the unreal. It is not our future because the construct is not a
                      cartoon. Bill
                      ----- Original Message -----
                      From: "Eduard Alf" <yeoman@...>
                      To: <existlist@yahoogroups.com>
                      Sent: Wednesday, March 06, 2002 10:21 AM
                      Subject: [existlist] new religion


                      > Bill,
                      >
                      > The problem with religion is the religion. My own view on the thing is
                      that
                      > there is a need for something different which is not only understandable,
                      > but also user friendly. Religion of itself is not inherently evil. It is
                      > the people who run the religion who are often the instigators of our
                      > suffering.
                      >
                      > I see the 21st century as the era in which a new religion is developed.
                      > Something on the lines of eastern philosophy. The oneness of the universe
                      > and all that stuff. I hope to be alive long enough to witness its
                      beginning
                      > ...
                      >
                      > Stay tuned.
                      >
                      > eduard
                      > -----Original Message-----
                      > From: Bill Harris [mailto:bhvwd@...]
                      > Sent: Tuesday, March 05, 2002 3:42 PM
                      > To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
                      > Subject: Re: [existlist] Re: Choice and Action
                      >
                      >
                      > James, Icompletely read your wellthought out post. I have often stated a
                      > preference for law over morals. We all agree that complete personal
                      > freedom
                      > is impossible in the real world. Law derived from a democratic process
                      > would
                      > seem as good as we can do. Theistic religion may take centuries to fade
                      > away, it may destroy us in the interum. We must teach science and it`s
                      > foundation as the progressive tool of mankind. The weight of personal
                      > choice is bearable if an individual can deduce his relative place in the
                      > cosmos. It is a huge order to supplant all the misinformation that
                      > pervades
                      > so much of society. When I saw I am crass I mean I wish to live my life
                      > well. I would not martyr myself for some ideal. None of this will
                      > transcend
                      > this universe, nor will we. The affairs of man may be impossibly snarled
                      > so
                      > as to make Bookdocs absurdist principles the operant mode. If he is
                      > correct
                      > then the time and will we expend in attempting to order our situations
                      are
                      > wasted. I take a middle course, not a martyr nor one bent only on
                      personal
                      > gratification. You might call me a traitor to my personal freedom as I
                      > bend
                      > to democratic law, you may call me crass as I pursue my personal
                      > wellbeing
                      > rather than supposed ideals. I wish to live in the light of the
                      possible,
                      > that turns out to be a big job. It is an everchanging job. I think it is
                      > the
                      > job that does the most good. Bill
                      >
                      >
                      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > Our Home: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/existlist
                      > (Includes community book list, chat, and more.)
                      >
                      > TO UNSUBSCRIBE from this group, send an email to:
                      > existlist-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                      >
                      > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                      >
                      >
                    • iambiguously
                      Ed, The problem with religion is that, sooner or later, a God gets attached to most of them and they devolve into the mental mush Nietzsche spoke of. As for
                      Message 10 of 21 , Mar 6, 2002
                      • 0 Attachment
                        Ed,

                        The problem with religion is that, sooner or later, a God gets
                        attached to most of them and they devolve into the mental mush
                        Nietzsche spoke of.

                        As for religion [or, for that matter, phlosophy] being or not
                        being "inherently evil", that is exactly the sort of thinking I'm
                        talking about, eh? The only way you can express something in here
                        that is inherently good or evil is if there's an actual omniscient
                        and omnipotent vantage point out there somewhere who is ready,
                        willing and able to co-sign intellectually for you.

                        Look, there must be hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of renditions
                        of The One And Only Really Really TRUE Truth. Why in the world would
                        you go through your days waiting for someone to think up one more??!!!

                        Biggie


                        --- In existlist@y..., "Eduard Alf" <yeoman@v...> wrote:
                        > Bill,
                        >
                        > The problem with religion is the religion. My own view on the
                        thing is that
                        > there is a need for something different which is not only
                        understandable,
                        > but also user friendly. Religion of itself is not inherently
                        evil. It is
                        > the people who run the religion who are often the instigators of our
                        > suffering.
                        >
                        > I see the 21st century as the era in which a new religion is
                        developed.
                        > Something on the lines of eastern philosophy. The oneness of the
                        universe
                        > and all that stuff. I hope to be alive long enough to witness its
                        beginning
                        > ...
                        >
                        > Stay tuned.
                        >
                        > eduard
                        > -----Original Message-----
                        > From: Bill Harris [mailto:bhvwd@n...]
                        > Sent: Tuesday, March 05, 2002 3:42 PM
                        > To: existlist@y...
                        > Subject: Re: [existlist] Re: Choice and Action
                        >
                        >
                        > James, Icompletely read your wellthought out post. I have often
                        stated a
                        > preference for law over morals. We all agree that complete
                        personal
                        > freedom
                        > is impossible in the real world. Law derived from a democratic
                        process
                        > would
                        > seem as good as we can do. Theistic religion may take centuries
                        to fade
                        > away, it may destroy us in the interum. We must teach science and
                        it`s
                        > foundation as the progressive tool of mankind. The weight of
                        personal
                        > choice is bearable if an individual can deduce his relative place
                        in the
                        > cosmos. It is a huge order to supplant all the misinformation that
                        > pervades
                        > so much of society. When I saw I am crass I mean I wish to live
                        my life
                        > well. I would not martyr myself for some ideal. None of this will
                        > transcend
                        > this universe, nor will we. The affairs of man may be impossibly
                        snarled
                        > so
                        > as to make Bookdocs absurdist principles the operant mode. If he
                        is
                        > correct
                        > then the time and will we expend in attempting to order our
                        situations are
                        > wasted. I take a middle course, not a martyr nor one bent only on
                        personal
                        > gratification. You might call me a traitor to my personal freedom
                        as I
                        > bend
                        > to democratic law, you may call me crass as I pursue my personal
                        > wellbeing
                        > rather than supposed ideals. I wish to live in the light of the
                        possible,
                        > that turns out to be a big job. It is an everchanging job. I
                        think it is
                        > the
                        > job that does the most good. Bill
                        >
                        >
                        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • Eduard Alf
                        Biggie, My point was that it is time in the 21st century to get away from Gods, or at least ones that others wish to use to condone evil. It is not
                        Message 11 of 21 , Mar 6, 2002
                        • 0 Attachment
                          Biggie,

                          My point was that it is time in the 21st century to get away from Gods, or
                          at least ones that others wish to use to condone evil. It is not
                          necessarily the case that all religions devolve into mental mush, if any.

                          I don't understand your second paragraph.

                          Actually there are only a few renditions ... Brahman, Dharma-kaya or
                          Tathata, Tao.

                          What I see is a further evolution on these lines which it would be nice to
                          witness in my lifetime. Why not spend my days in this manner. I cant think
                          of a more worth while thing to do.

                          eduard
                          -----Original Message-----
                          From: iambiguously [mailto:george@...]
                          Sent: Wednesday, March 06, 2002 6:54 PM
                          To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
                          Subject: [existlist] Re: new religion


                          Ed,

                          The problem with religion is that, sooner or later, a God gets
                          attached to most of them and they devolve into the mental mush
                          Nietzsche spoke of.

                          As for religion [or, for that matter, phlosophy] being or not
                          being "inherently evil", that is exactly the sort of thinking I'm
                          talking about, eh? The only way you can express something in here
                          that is inherently good or evil is if there's an actual omniscient
                          and omnipotent vantage point out there somewhere who is ready,
                          willing and able to co-sign intellectually for you.

                          Look, there must be hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of renditions
                          of The One And Only Really Really TRUE Truth. Why in the world would
                          you go through your days waiting for someone to think up one more??!!!

                          Biggie


                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • james tan
                          mr khadaied, well, i have never gone deep into theological matters, but what my christian friends told me is that jesus did claim something to the effect that
                          Message 12 of 21 , Mar 6, 2002
                          • 0 Attachment
                            mr khadaied,

                            well, i have never gone deep into theological matters, but what my christian
                            friends told me is that jesus did claim something to the effect that he is
                            god - but i am not about to spend my time debating with them or the muslims
                            about this. while it might be interesting to hear a inter-faith dialogue
                            between the christian and muslim, it is beside the point of my argument in
                            the previous post on this. admittedly, it is true that buddha did not claim
                            he is god, (but claimed that he is 'awakened' to the ultimate truth,
                            whatever that means). but those theological points are not really the main
                            trust of my presentation, and the reason they were brought out is each
                            present a kind of 'absolute' in their own rights. also, i have no doubt that
                            human and his intellect is not infinite, but within the limit he tries to
                            comprehend - that is all he could do, no more or less. but what is not
                            comprehended is not about to be explained by the concept of god either - to
                            posit god to explain the taste of salt does not really further our knowledge
                            of how we are able to taste salt, and at best it is pseudo explaination that
                            may only please the more gullible and 'faithful'.

                            james.

                            From: khadaied <khadaied@...>
                            Reply-To: Fateha@yahoogroups.com
                            To: Fateha@yahoogroups.com
                            Subject: Re: [Fateha] Re: Choice and Action
                            Date: Wed, 06 Mar 2002 14:15:19 -0800

                            Mr James

                            Jesus never say that he is God. Budha too never said that he was God. As
                            much as I respect yr beliefs that the human mind is superior and that it,
                            the mind is the vechile of determination, I must beg to difer as the mind is
                            incapable of even explaining the taste of salt










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                          • Eduard Alf
                            Bill, I agree. The new religion would have to come out of Buddhism ... actually Zen or Ch an Buddhism ... or perhaps neo-Confucianism ... whatever. Something
                            Message 13 of 21 , Mar 7, 2002
                            • 0 Attachment
                              Bill,

                              I agree. The new religion would have to come out of Buddhism ... actually
                              Zen or Ch'an Buddhism ... or perhaps neo-Confucianism ... whatever.
                              Something which is not a cartoon.

                              eduard
                              -----Original Message-----
                              From: Bill Harris [mailto:bhvwd@...]
                              Sent: Wednesday, March 06, 2002 11:59 AM
                              To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
                              Subject: Re: [existlist] new religion


                              Eduard, At the core of Buddist teaching is the concept of oneness of
                              creation. A modern man who has correctly realised his relative place in
                              this
                              construct, could fulfill that Buddist goal of achieving oneness. He would
                              accomplish it in an intellectual state, not a contemplative state. One
                              has
                              a real basis, the other an imaginary mind set. Religion rests on the
                              imagined, the unreal. It is not our future because the construct is not a
                              cartoon. Bill
                              ----- Original Message -----
                              From: "Eduard Alf" <yeoman@...>
                              To: <existlist@yahoogroups.com>
                              Sent: Wednesday, March 06, 2002 10:21 AM
                              Subject: [existlist] new religion


                              > Bill,
                              >
                              > The problem with religion is the religion. My own view on the thing is
                              that
                              > there is a need for something different which is not only
                              understandable,
                              > but also user friendly. Religion of itself is not inherently evil. It
                              is
                              > the people who run the religion who are often the instigators of our
                              > suffering.
                              >
                              > I see the 21st century as the era in which a new religion is developed.
                              > Something on the lines of eastern philosophy. The oneness of the
                              universe
                              > and all that stuff. I hope to be alive long enough to witness its
                              beginning
                              > ...
                              >
                              > Stay tuned.
                              >
                              > eduard
                              > -----Original Message-----
                              > From: Bill Harris [mailto:bhvwd@...]
                              > Sent: Tuesday, March 05, 2002 3:42 PM
                              > To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
                              > Subject: Re: [existlist] Re: Choice and Action
                              >
                              >
                              > James, Icompletely read your wellthought out post. I have often stated
                              a
                              > preference for law over morals. We all agree that complete personal
                              > freedom
                              > is impossible in the real world. Law derived from a democratic process
                              > would
                              > seem as good as we can do. Theistic religion may take centuries to
                              fade
                              > away, it may destroy us in the interum. We must teach science and it`s
                              > foundation as the progressive tool of mankind. The weight of personal
                              > choice is bearable if an individual can deduce his relative place in
                              the
                              > cosmos. It is a huge order to supplant all the misinformation that
                              > pervades
                              > so much of society. When I saw I am crass I mean I wish to live my
                              life
                              > well. I would not martyr myself for some ideal. None of this will
                              > transcend
                              > this universe, nor will we. The affairs of man may be impossibly
                              snarled
                              > so
                              > as to make Bookdocs absurdist principles the operant mode. If he is
                              > correct
                              > then the time and will we expend in attempting to order our situations
                              are
                              > wasted. I take a middle course, not a martyr nor one bent only on
                              personal
                              > gratification. You might call me a traitor to my personal freedom as I
                              > bend
                              > to democratic law, you may call me crass as I pursue my personal
                              > wellbeing
                              > rather than supposed ideals. I wish to live in the light of the
                              possible,
                              > that turns out to be a big job. It is an everchanging job. I think it
                              is
                              > the
                              > job that does the most good. Bill
                              >
                              >
                              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              > Our Home: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/existlist
                              > (Includes community book list, chat, and more.)
                              >
                              > TO UNSUBSCRIBE from this group, send an email to:
                              > existlist-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                              >
                              > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to
                              http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                              >
                              >


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                              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            • Eduard Alf
                              james, khadaied is correct. Jesus never said that he was God. But regardless of what might or might not have been said, the saying of it is what is written
                              Message 14 of 21 , Mar 7, 2002
                              • 0 Attachment
                                james,

                                khadaied is correct. Jesus never said that he was
                                God. But regardless of what might or might not
                                have been said, the saying of it is what is
                                written by others. When Jesus was walking around
                                on earth, you did not have a CNN reporter taping
                                his comments. The same applies to Islam and any
                                other religion for which there is some kind of
                                written record. The reality is that some
                                considerable years after the event, the followers
                                of the religion get together and put down what
                                they think he/she might have said. And then they
                                bless it and declare it to be the word of God.

                                As to the taste of salt, it is unfortunate that
                                the post does not explain the reasoning behind
                                this point. However, no matter what you do, the
                                explanation of this taste still remains that of
                                humans, not of God. The words of God are produced
                                by those who are creating the written record.
                                Thus it still is a human explanation.

                                eduard

                                -----Original Message-----
                                From: james tan [mailto:tyjfk@...]
                                Sent: Wednesday, March 06, 2002 11:15 PM
                                To: Fateha@yahoogroups.com
                                Subject: [existlist] Choice and Action



                                mr khadaied,

                                well, i have never gone deep into theological
                                matters, but what my christian
                                friends told me is that jesus did claim something
                                to the effect that he is
                                god - but i am not about to spend my time debating
                                with them or the muslims
                                about this. while it might be interesting to hear
                                a inter-faith dialogue
                                between the christian and muslim, it is beside the
                                point of my argument in
                                the previous post on this. admittedly, it is true
                                that buddha did not claim
                                he is god, (but claimed that he is 'awakened' to
                                the ultimate truth,
                                whatever that means). but those theological points
                                are not really the main
                                trust of my presentation, and the reason they were
                                brought out is each
                                present a kind of 'absolute' in their own rights.
                                also, i have no doubt that
                                human and his intellect is not infinite, but
                                within the limit he tries to
                                comprehend - that is all he could do, no more or
                                less. but what is not
                                comprehended is not about to be explained by the
                                concept of god either - to
                                posit god to explain the taste of salt does not
                                really further our knowledge
                                of how we are able to taste salt, and at best it
                                is pseudo explaination that
                                may only please the more gullible and 'faithful'.

                                james.

                                From: khadaied <khadaied@...>
                                Reply-To: Fateha@yahoogroups.com
                                To: Fateha@yahoogroups.com
                                Subject: Re: [Fateha] Re: Choice and Action
                                Date: Wed, 06 Mar 2002 14:15:19 -0800

                                Mr James

                                Jesus never say that he is God. Budha too never
                                said that he was God. As
                                much as I respect yr beliefs that the human mind
                                is superior and that it,
                                the mind is the vechile of determination, I must
                                beg to difer as the mind is
                                incapable of even explaining the taste of salt










                                __________________________________________________
                                _______________
                                Join the world’s largest e-mail service with MSN
                                Hotmail.
                                http://www.hotmail.com




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                              • Bill Harris
                                Eduard, I know you still believe there is a need for that translational inner reality. I do not doubt you feel that need, many do. I do not, but my life has
                                Message 15 of 21 , Mar 7, 2002
                                • 0 Attachment
                                  Eduard, I know you still believe there is a need for that translational
                                  inner reality. I do not doubt you feel that need, many do. I do not, but my
                                  life has forced me to be a cold bastard and I probably am outside the
                                  median group in this regard. Bill
                                  ----- Original Message -----
                                  From: "Eduard Alf" <yeoman@...>
                                  To: <existlist@yahoogroups.com>
                                  Sent: Thursday, March 07, 2002 9:53 AM
                                  Subject: RE: [existlist] new religion


                                  > Bill,
                                  >
                                  > I agree. The new religion would have to come out of Buddhism ... actually
                                  > Zen or Ch'an Buddhism ... or perhaps neo-Confucianism ... whatever.
                                  > Something which is not a cartoon.
                                  >
                                  > eduard
                                  > -----Original Message-----
                                  > From: Bill Harris [mailto:bhvwd@...]
                                  > Sent: Wednesday, March 06, 2002 11:59 AM
                                  > To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
                                  > Subject: Re: [existlist] new religion
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > Eduard, At the core of Buddist teaching is the concept of oneness of
                                  > creation. A modern man who has correctly realised his relative place in
                                  > this
                                  > construct, could fulfill that Buddist goal of achieving oneness. He
                                  would
                                  > accomplish it in an intellectual state, not a contemplative state. One
                                  > has
                                  > a real basis, the other an imaginary mind set. Religion rests on the
                                  > imagined, the unreal. It is not our future because the construct is not
                                  a
                                  > cartoon. Bill
                                  > ----- Original Message -----
                                  > From: "Eduard Alf" <yeoman@...>
                                  > To: <existlist@yahoogroups.com>
                                  > Sent: Wednesday, March 06, 2002 10:21 AM
                                  > Subject: [existlist] new religion
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > > Bill,
                                  > >
                                  > > The problem with religion is the religion. My own view on the thing
                                  is
                                  > that
                                  > > there is a need for something different which is not only
                                  > understandable,
                                  > > but also user friendly. Religion of itself is not inherently evil.
                                  It
                                  > is
                                  > > the people who run the religion who are often the instigators of our
                                  > > suffering.
                                  > >
                                  > > I see the 21st century as the era in which a new religion is
                                  developed.
                                  > > Something on the lines of eastern philosophy. The oneness of the
                                  > universe
                                  > > and all that stuff. I hope to be alive long enough to witness its
                                  > beginning
                                  > > ...
                                  > >
                                  > > Stay tuned.
                                  > >
                                  > > eduard
                                  > > -----Original Message-----
                                  > > From: Bill Harris [mailto:bhvwd@...]
                                  > > Sent: Tuesday, March 05, 2002 3:42 PM
                                  > > To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
                                  > > Subject: Re: [existlist] Re: Choice and Action
                                  > >
                                  > >
                                  > > James, Icompletely read your wellthought out post. I have often
                                  stated
                                  > a
                                  > > preference for law over morals. We all agree that complete personal
                                  > > freedom
                                  > > is impossible in the real world. Law derived from a democratic
                                  process
                                  > > would
                                  > > seem as good as we can do. Theistic religion may take centuries to
                                  > fade
                                  > > away, it may destroy us in the interum. We must teach science and
                                  it`s
                                  > > foundation as the progressive tool of mankind. The weight of
                                  personal
                                  > > choice is bearable if an individual can deduce his relative place in
                                  > the
                                  > > cosmos. It is a huge order to supplant all the misinformation that
                                  > > pervades
                                  > > so much of society. When I saw I am crass I mean I wish to live my
                                  > life
                                  > > well. I would not martyr myself for some ideal. None of this will
                                  > > transcend
                                  > > this universe, nor will we. The affairs of man may be impossibly
                                  > snarled
                                  > > so
                                  > > as to make Bookdocs absurdist principles the operant mode. If he is
                                  > > correct
                                  > > then the time and will we expend in attempting to order our
                                  situations
                                  > are
                                  > > wasted. I take a middle course, not a martyr nor one bent only on
                                  > personal
                                  > > gratification. You might call me a traitor to my personal freedom as
                                  I
                                  > > bend
                                  > > to democratic law, you may call me crass as I pursue my personal
                                  > > wellbeing
                                  > > rather than supposed ideals. I wish to live in the light of the
                                  > possible,
                                  > > that turns out to be a big job. It is an everchanging job. I think
                                  it
                                  > is
                                  > > the
                                  > > job that does the most good. Bill
                                  > >
                                  > >
                                  > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                  > >
                                  > >
                                  > >
                                  > > Our Home: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/existlist
                                  > > (Includes community book list, chat, and more.)
                                  > >
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                                • Eduard Alf
                                  Bill, Don t worry. When I get this thing together, you will like it. It will be an equal opportunity religion; open to even cold bastards. Stay tuned ...
                                  Message 16 of 21 , Mar 7, 2002
                                  • 0 Attachment
                                    Bill,

                                    Don't worry. When I get this thing together, you will like it. It will be
                                    an equal opportunity religion; open to even cold bastards. Stay tuned ...
                                    but it may take me 10 or 15 years, so don't hold your breath.

                                    eduard
                                    -----Original Message-----
                                    From: Bill Harris [mailto:bhvwd@...]
                                    Sent: Thursday, March 07, 2002 12:42 PM
                                    To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
                                    Subject: Re: [existlist] new religion


                                    Eduard, I know you still believe there is a need for that translational
                                    inner reality. I do not doubt you feel that need, many do. I do not, but
                                    my
                                    life has forced me to be a cold bastard and I probably am outside the
                                    median group in this regard. Bill
                                    ----- Original Message -----
                                    From: "Eduard Alf" <yeoman@...>
                                    To: <existlist@yahoogroups.com>
                                    Sent: Thursday, March 07, 2002 9:53 AM
                                    Subject: RE: [existlist] new religion


                                    > Bill,
                                    >
                                    > I agree. The new religion would have to come out of Buddhism ...
                                    actually
                                    > Zen or Ch'an Buddhism ... or perhaps neo-Confucianism ... whatever.
                                    > Something which is not a cartoon.
                                    >
                                    > eduard
                                    > -----Original Message-----
                                    > From: Bill Harris [mailto:bhvwd@...]
                                    > Sent: Wednesday, March 06, 2002 11:59 AM
                                    > To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
                                    > Subject: Re: [existlist] new religion
                                    >
                                    >
                                    > Eduard, At the core of Buddist teaching is the concept of oneness of
                                    > creation. A modern man who has correctly realised his relative place
                                    in
                                    > this
                                    > construct, could fulfill that Buddist goal of achieving oneness. He
                                    would
                                    > accomplish it in an intellectual state, not a contemplative state.
                                    One
                                    > has
                                    > a real basis, the other an imaginary mind set. Religion rests on the
                                    > imagined, the unreal. It is not our future because the construct is
                                    not
                                    a
                                    > cartoon. Bill
                                    > ----- Original Message -----
                                    > From: "Eduard Alf" <yeoman@...>
                                    > To: <existlist@yahoogroups.com>
                                    > Sent: Wednesday, March 06, 2002 10:21 AM
                                    > Subject: [existlist] new religion
                                    >
                                    >
                                    > > Bill,
                                    > >
                                    > > The problem with religion is the religion. My own view on the thing
                                    is
                                    > that
                                    > > there is a need for something different which is not only
                                    > understandable,
                                    > > but also user friendly. Religion of itself is not inherently evil.
                                    It
                                    > is
                                    > > the people who run the religion who are often the instigators of our
                                    > > suffering.
                                    > >
                                    > > I see the 21st century as the era in which a new religion is
                                    developed.
                                    > > Something on the lines of eastern philosophy. The oneness of the
                                    > universe
                                    > > and all that stuff. I hope to be alive long enough to witness its
                                    > beginning
                                    > > ...
                                    > >
                                    > > Stay tuned.
                                    > >
                                    > > eduard
                                    > > -----Original Message-----
                                    > > From: Bill Harris [mailto:bhvwd@...]
                                    > > Sent: Tuesday, March 05, 2002 3:42 PM
                                    > > To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
                                    > > Subject: Re: [existlist] Re: Choice and Action
                                    > >
                                    > >
                                    > > James, Icompletely read your wellthought out post. I have often
                                    stated
                                    > a
                                    > > preference for law over morals. We all agree that complete
                                    personal
                                    > > freedom
                                    > > is impossible in the real world. Law derived from a democratic
                                    process
                                    > > would
                                    > > seem as good as we can do. Theistic religion may take centuries
                                    to
                                    > fade
                                    > > away, it may destroy us in the interum. We must teach science and
                                    it`s
                                    > > foundation as the progressive tool of mankind. The weight of
                                    personal
                                    > > choice is bearable if an individual can deduce his relative place
                                    in
                                    > the
                                    > > cosmos. It is a huge order to supplant all the misinformation that
                                    > > pervades
                                    > > so much of society. When I saw I am crass I mean I wish to live my
                                    > life
                                    > > well. I would not martyr myself for some ideal. None of this will
                                    > > transcend
                                    > > this universe, nor will we. The affairs of man may be impossibly
                                    > snarled
                                    > > so
                                    > > as to make Bookdocs absurdist principles the operant mode. If he
                                    is
                                    > > correct
                                    > > then the time and will we expend in attempting to order our
                                    situations
                                    > are
                                    > > wasted. I take a middle course, not a martyr nor one bent only on
                                    > personal
                                    > > gratification. You might call me a traitor to my personal freedom
                                    as
                                    I
                                    > > bend
                                    > > to democratic law, you may call me crass as I pursue my personal
                                    > > wellbeing
                                    > > rather than supposed ideals. I wish to live in the light of the
                                    > possible,
                                    > > that turns out to be a big job. It is an everchanging job. I think
                                    it
                                    > is
                                    > > the
                                    > > job that does the most good. Bill
                                    > >
                                    > >
                                    > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                    > >
                                    > >
                                    > >
                                    > > Our Home: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/existlist
                                    > > (Includes community book list, chat, and more.)
                                    > >
                                    > > TO UNSUBSCRIBE from this group, send an email to:
                                    > > existlist-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                                    > >
                                    > > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to
                                    > http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                                    > >
                                    > >
                                    >
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                                    >
                                    > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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                                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                  • james tan
                                    oh i see. james. From: Eduard Alf Reply-To: existlist@yahoogroups.com To: Subject: RE: [existlist] Choice
                                    Message 17 of 21 , Mar 7, 2002
                                    • 0 Attachment
                                      oh i see.

                                      james.


                                      From: "Eduard Alf" <yeoman@...>
                                      Reply-To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
                                      To: <existlist@yahoogroups.com>
                                      Subject: RE: [existlist] Choice and Action
                                      Date: Thu, 7 Mar 2002 11:51:52 -0500

                                      james,

                                      khadaied is correct. Jesus never said that he was
                                      God. But regardless of what might or might not
                                      have been said, the saying of it is what is
                                      written by others. When Jesus was walking around
                                      on earth, you did not have a CNN reporter taping
                                      his comments. The same applies to Islam and any
                                      other religion for which there is some kind of
                                      written record. The reality is that some
                                      considerable years after the event, the followers
                                      of the religion get together and put down what
                                      they think he/she might have said. And then they
                                      bless it and declare it to be the word of God.

                                      As to the taste of salt, it is unfortunate that
                                      the post does not explain the reasoning behind
                                      this point. However, no matter what you do, the
                                      explanation of this taste still remains that of
                                      humans, not of God. The words of God are produced
                                      by those who are creating the written record.
                                      Thus it still is a human explanation.

                                      eduard

                                      -----Original Message-----
                                      From: james tan [mailto:tyjfk@...]
                                      Sent: Wednesday, March 06, 2002 11:15 PM
                                      To: Fateha@yahoogroups.com
                                      Subject: [existlist] Choice and Action



                                      mr khadaied,

                                      well, i have never gone deep into theological
                                      matters, but what my christian
                                      friends told me is that jesus did claim something
                                      to the effect that he is
                                      god - but i am not about to spend my time debating
                                      with them or the muslims
                                      about this. while it might be interesting to hear
                                      a inter-faith dialogue
                                      between the christian and muslim, it is beside the
                                      point of my argument in
                                      the previous post on this. admittedly, it is true
                                      that buddha did not claim
                                      he is god, (but claimed that he is 'awakened' to
                                      the ultimate truth,
                                      whatever that means). but those theological points
                                      are not really the main
                                      trust of my presentation, and the reason they were
                                      brought out is each
                                      present a kind of 'absolute' in their own rights.
                                      also, i have no doubt that
                                      human and his intellect is not infinite, but
                                      within the limit he tries to
                                      comprehend - that is all he could do, no more or
                                      less. but what is not
                                      comprehended is not about to be explained by the
                                      concept of god either - to
                                      posit god to explain the taste of salt does not
                                      really further our knowledge
                                      of how we are able to taste salt, and at best it
                                      is pseudo explaination that
                                      may only please the more gullible and 'faithful'.

                                      james.

                                      From: khadaied <khadaied@...>
                                      Reply-To: Fateha@yahoogroups.com
                                      To: Fateha@yahoogroups.com
                                      Subject: Re: [Fateha] Re: Choice and Action
                                      Date: Wed, 06 Mar 2002 14:15:19 -0800

                                      Mr James

                                      Jesus never say that he is God. Budha too never
                                      said that he was God. As
                                      much as I respect yr beliefs that the human mind
                                      is superior and that it,
                                      the mind is the vechile of determination, I must
                                      beg to difer as the mind is
                                      incapable of even explaining the taste of salt










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                                    • Eduard Alf
                                      what do you see??? ... From: james tan [mailto:tyjfk@hotmail.com] Sent: Thursday, March 07, 2002 8:58 PM To: existlist@yahoogroups.com Subject: RE: [existlist]
                                      Message 18 of 21 , Mar 7, 2002
                                      • 0 Attachment
                                        what do you see???

                                        -----Original Message-----
                                        From: james tan [mailto:tyjfk@...]
                                        Sent: Thursday, March 07, 2002 8:58 PM
                                        To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
                                        Subject: RE: [existlist] Choice and Action



                                        oh i see.

                                        james.


                                        From: "Eduard Alf" <yeoman@...>
                                        Reply-To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
                                        To: <existlist@yahoogroups.com>
                                        Subject: RE: [existlist] Choice and Action
                                        Date: Thu, 7 Mar 2002 11:51:52 -0500

                                        james,

                                        khadaied is correct. Jesus never said that he was
                                        God. But regardless of what might or might not
                                        have been said, the saying of it is what is
                                        written by others. When Jesus was walking around
                                        on earth, you did not have a CNN reporter taping
                                        his comments. The same applies to Islam and any
                                        other religion for which there is some kind of
                                        written record. The reality is that some
                                        considerable years after the event, the followers
                                        of the religion get together and put down what
                                        they think he/she might have said. And then they
                                        bless it and declare it to be the word of God.

                                        As to the taste of salt, it is unfortunate that
                                        the post does not explain the reasoning behind
                                        this point. However, no matter what you do, the
                                        explanation of this taste still remains that of
                                        humans, not of God. The words of God are produced
                                        by those who are creating the written record.
                                        Thus it still is a human explanation.

                                        eduard

                                        -----Original Message-----
                                        From: james tan [mailto:tyjfk@...]
                                        Sent: Wednesday, March 06, 2002 11:15 PM
                                        To: Fateha@yahoogroups.com
                                        Subject: [existlist] Choice and Action



                                        mr khadaied,

                                        well, i have never gone deep into theological
                                        matters, but what my christian
                                        friends told me is that jesus did claim something
                                        to the effect that he is
                                        god - but i am not about to spend my time debating
                                        with them or the muslims
                                        about this. while it might be interesting to hear
                                        a inter-faith dialogue
                                        between the christian and muslim, it is beside the
                                        point of my argument in
                                        the previous post on this. admittedly, it is true
                                        that buddha did not claim
                                        he is god, (but claimed that he is 'awakened' to
                                        the ultimate truth,
                                        whatever that means). but those theological points
                                        are not really the main
                                        trust of my presentation, and the reason they were
                                        brought out is each
                                        present a kind of 'absolute' in their own rights.
                                        also, i have no doubt that
                                        human and his intellect is not infinite, but
                                        within the limit he tries to
                                        comprehend - that is all he could do, no more or
                                        less. but what is not
                                        comprehended is not about to be explained by the
                                        concept of god either - to
                                        posit god to explain the taste of salt does not
                                        really further our knowledge
                                        of how we are able to taste salt, and at best it
                                        is pseudo explaination that
                                        may only please the more gullible and 'faithful'.

                                        james.

                                        From: khadaied <khadaied@...>
                                        Reply-To: Fateha@yahoogroups.com
                                        To: Fateha@yahoogroups.com
                                        Subject: Re: [Fateha] Re: Choice and Action
                                        Date: Wed, 06 Mar 2002 14:15:19 -0800

                                        Mr James

                                        Jesus never say that he is God. Budha too never
                                        said that he was God. As
                                        much as I respect yr beliefs that the human mind
                                        is superior and that it,
                                        the mind is the vechile of determination, I must
                                        beg to difer as the mind is
                                        incapable of even explaining the taste of salt










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                                      • james tan
                                        mr rahman, in the name of humanity, most ...... i appreciate u taking the interest to join in the debate. it has been fun for me listening to ur views, and i
                                        Message 19 of 21 , Mar 7, 2002
                                        • 0 Attachment
                                          mr rahman,

                                          in the name of humanity, most ......

                                          i appreciate u taking the interest to join in the debate. it has been fun
                                          for me listening to ur views, and i think i will have some fun replying to
                                          u.

                                          u asked:
                                          >>>Through the suppositions and theories laid out by those names you have
                                          >>>quoted, such as satre, heidegger, kierkegaard ? And how were these
                                          >>>theories and suppositions derived by them?<<<

                                          what are provided by sartre, heidegger, etc are not exactly theories, rather
                                          phenomenological description of human consciousness and situation. if u have
                                          really understood my post, u would have known that those views by sartre,
                                          etc, are precisely about the impossibility of finding ultimate justification
                                          for ethics universally valid (other than one's - individual or societal -
                                          choices and committment).

                                          u said:
                                          >>>If none of us believe that we are speaking to you now, does that mean
                                          >>>that you don't exist ?<<<

                                          ur urge to dispel this notion is understandable; in fact when i wrote that,
                                          i am already waiting for someone (in the wisdomforum; but none did; it seems
                                          they know what i was referring) to pounce on that. i anticipated this
                                          response esp when i did not bother to elaborate what i meant by saying that
                                          truth is subjectivity. of course, any man of minimal intelligence & mental
                                          development is able to tell that rahman exist even if i don't believe he
                                          exist; my disbelief does not make u disappear. common sense. i :) need to
                                          elaborate (to entertain u): the category of being of a god and the
                                          'mundance' being such as chair, stone and rahman, for examples, are
                                          different. of course, if god already exist, my disbelieving in him exist
                                          does not make him non-exist. but there is no way to know whether god exist
                                          or not other than by faith; i cannot intuit god as i can intuit a chair;
                                          ontologically, god does not have the same status as a chair. when i said,
                                          "for even a god will cease to be god if he dont believe in him", the full
                                          explication de texte is this: one never knows god as one know the properties
                                          of say, matter and energy. while it is a objective truth that the chair
                                          exist, this knowledge is impersonal. knowing objective, impersonal truth
                                          does tell u something about the world, but it does not tell u how to live.
                                          what i am to know, and how i am to live, are separate issues; most people do
                                          not make that distinction. consider a muslim: he prays 5 times a day, he
                                          spends considerable time learning about islam, he learns arabic words and
                                          memorise verses from the koran, he wants to go to mecca, the ladies feel
                                          obliged to wear the headscarf, all manners of activities center around what
                                          they understand to be god's will to them. all these are activities that are
                                          intensely meaningful to him; but a non-muslim will not do any of them
                                          because it has no meaning at all to him. there are 'truths' which cannot be
                                          determined as valid for all men, or even a group of men, but can only be
                                          determined by the subjective individuals. these truths, and it is this sense
                                          of truth which i meant in the quote, are expression of individual commitment
                                          rather than objective detached truth which can be established by any
                                          rational impartial observer. belief in god, as i meant it, is a matter of
                                          passion (the passion to pray 5 times a day!! for example), not knowledge (no
                                          one can prove god's existence logically). if u think i am saying that faith
                                          is wrong, then u have misunderstood me yet again; on the contrary, what i am
                                          saying is, god is something intensely personal, and not objective; just
                                          because i dont believe doesn't mean it is not real to u, and just because u
                                          believe doesnt mean it is meaningful to me. (but living in a multi-racial
                                          and multi-religious country like singapore, we can respect each other's
                                          decision to believe whatever they want to believe or disbelieve, tolerance
                                          is we all believe). one cannot prove that god exists; one must simply commit
                                          himself to god in the face of the absence of such a proof. it is the manner
                                          and intensity of one's belief, and not the object or objective necessity of
                                          belief, which determines truth. if u think that god is the kind of issue
                                          which can be finally and disinterestedly settled by clear reflection and
                                          understanding, u are in illusion. u may not be aware of ur own illusion; ie
                                          to be deluded about ur own illusion. god is something that is true only
                                          insofar as u believe in him, and ur belief determined not by scientific or
                                          philosophical proofs, but by choices and commitment. god either exist or he
                                          does not; there is no way we can know empirically. we can, however 'know' he
                                          exist by faith - i.e. choice. we can only reason from existence, not towards
                                          existence; we do not, for example, prove that a stone exists, but that
                                          something existing is a stone. a person who does not believe in allah will
                                          not pray 5 times a day and take the trouble to learn arabic - in practical
                                          terms, it is meaningless to him, and he will not give it meaning by doing
                                          those things; as far as he is concerned, allah does not exist. as far as u
                                          are concerned, allah exist. neither provide proofs (it is impossible to
                                          prove existence), and both are happy in their own respective worlds.

                                          u asked:
                                          >>>How do we know for a fact that Hitler, or anyone else who is unable to
                                          >>>recognize the validity of the argument against him or her, cannot be
                                          punished by an authority?<<<

                                          hitler did not recognise the moral authority of the one who punished him,
                                          but he did (have to) accept that he was in front of a superior power with
                                          enough ability to destroy his third reich. a military might and moral
                                          authority is different. i am a non-muslim, but if i am punished by islamic
                                          law (say in malaysia or saudi arabia) for staying in the hotel with my
                                          girlfriends, i may not recognise their moral authority over me though i am
                                          totally powerless to resist their arrest and 'punishment'. punishment as a
                                          word do imply that one accept the moral rights of the entity who inflict
                                          pain on u. do u know what i am saying? it is a matter of words used, which
                                          reflect attitudes. consider the distinction different criminal and traitor:
                                          the criminal accepts the value system of his society and intentionally
                                          breaks what he recognises to be a valid law. therefore he accept his
                                          punishment as a fair and 'natural' consequences of his act. the traitor, on
                                          the other hand, rejects the values themselves. he need not break the laws
                                          which codify these values in order to be traitor. if he does, he may be
                                          caught and punished, but he does not recognise their validity (but he still
                                          suffers the punishment anyway whether he accept or not). u may say i am hair
                                          splitting here, but there is a difference.

                                          u inquired:
                                          >>>You may argue that I am falling back on an absolute. But my answer would
                                          >>>be : If one sits on a fence on any subject ? Has one come to a conclusion
                                          >>>? NO. Therefore has one found the answer to the question he/she was
                                          >>>asking in the first place ? NO. Therefore one must make a stand on the
                                          >>>matter.<<<

                                          well, of course if u are interested in my stance on the matter, i wouldn't
                                          mind sharing with u my point of view. but the discussion was not about my
                                          views, or anyone's; it was a discussion about the possibility of finding a
                                          universally valid normative ethics irrespective of races, cultures,
                                          religions, society, countries, etc. it is about finding ultimate
                                          justification. are u still interested in my view? i am not sitting on the
                                          fence if u want to know.

                                          u commented:
                                          >>>If he is unhappy with that status quo and chose to leave the status quo
                                          >>>but he feels pressured by family/society not to leave the status quo,
                                          >>>does that mean that he is subjected to their will ? NO. It means that he
                                          >>>chose not to make a choice and remain in the status quo by the act of not
                                          >>>making any choice. Whether it is too much to bear emotionally or not, is
                                          >>>a subject that only the particular individuals themselves will be able to
                                          >>>answer and my opinion is that no science or study of human psychology
                                          >>>should base their FACTS on their assumptions on what and why people make
                                          >>>or choose not to make a choice...<<<

                                          excuse me, but really, there is no such thing as not making a choice. even
                                          for what u said about "he chose not to make a choice" is in itself a choice.
                                          choosing not to choose. man is condemned to choose all the time. it is only
                                          the manner he choose it, and choosing not to choose is one of the manner.
                                          what i was saying is, a choice is defined to a certain extent by his
                                          situation, and i have learned from my muslim friends that choosing to
                                          disbelieve in islam among the malay/muslim community is considered a
                                          earth-shaking, sea-boiling decision. one malay friend i know from college
                                          was actually disowned by his own parents, ostrazied by his own relatives,
                                          and not before he was intensely 'counselled' by islamic authorities from
                                          being 'deceived' by the 'evil one'. he was chased out of the house, totally
                                          condemned. the chinese families are more 'democratic' in that sense; no one
                                          force no one to believe or disbelieve what they want or don't want with no
                                          fear of such social repurcussion the muslim faces. not much of a question
                                          asked except for curiosity. although it is true that there are individual
                                          differences in their ability to cope with such emotional stress, it is a
                                          fact that it is a much more dead serious matter for the muslim malays than
                                          say a chinese buddhist to renounce his faith, and such 'cultural' and
                                          'emotional' environmental factors do have a influence on choices or the
                                          process of making those choices, like it or not.

                                          u asserted:
                                          >>>Unfortunately, the only "authority" that psychologist agree with to have,
                                          >>>if any, an effect on the actions and behaviour of a person is his/her own
                                          >>>mind.<<<

                                          nay, it is more complicated than that. ur rendition on psychology is a bit
                                          simplistic. (i have degree in psychology, so i know what i am talking
                                          about).

                                          u say:
                                          >>>However does the fact that a contravention of a law has happened "proof"
                                          >>>that the law is void orunsustainable or inappropriate ?<<<

                                          of course not. but what i was trying to say is, just because there is a law
                                          does not always necessarily mean it is obeyed (with consequences). it was
                                          man's freedom that i was talking about, not that the laws are invalid.
                                          reading in the straits times i can't remember dated when, teen aged
                                          pregnancies among muslim malays in singapore seem much higher than, say,
                                          chinese, although chinese are, as a group, generally non-religious. although
                                          i wouldn't say there is a inverse correlation between professing in a
                                          religion and teen aged pregnancy, the irony attested that professing to
                                          believe in a religion (as a independent variable) in predicting behaviours
                                          (dependent variable) is not valid and reliable. of course, no one is saying
                                          that professing will automatically mean actual practising, and that is
                                          precisely my point: the freedom of man.

                                          u asked:
                                          >>>How does one commit oneself to morality if one is unfamiliar with what
                                          >>>one is trying to commit oneself to ?<<<

                                          again, the topic is not about individual commitment. i am sure u have urs
                                          and i mine, and we as citizen of singapore have our pledge. i am not arguing
                                          this. it is a general discussion about the possibility of finding
                                          metaphysical validity of ethics other than what is relative to the
                                          individual or society.

                                          u said:
                                          >>>The theory that one's own mind alone is capable of moral actions, without
                                          >>>the need for the "forces of authority of good" is a rosy and simplistic
                                          >>>view of the whole situation of human morality. It propagates the notion
                                          >>>that humans are self-subservient and is not in need of a controller of
                                          >>>their actions. Wishful thinking, don't you agree ? The statutes of
                                          >>>Singapore and other man-made laws are proof that it
                                          is otherwise......<<<

                                          no body is saying that society does not need laws. i did not say that, and i
                                          am not sure if u are intentionally misreading what i said. and, what is
                                          legal is not necessarily moral (vice versa); the post was about the
                                          metaphysical validity of morality. the legal aspect is a consensus of
                                          society that every body in that society accept.

                                          u said:
                                          >>I seek only clarifications and friendly discourse. Not to seek any
                                          favour, name or glory from anyone of what I have said. So, if I have
                                          offended, please forgive me.<<

                                          i hope i have clarfied something, and doesn't sound too unfriendly. one
                                          thing is for sure: it was fun. and no offense intended too on my part.

                                          james.


                                          From: "Rizal Bin Abdul Rahman" <Farizal1@...>
                                          Reply-To: Fateha@yahoogroups.com
                                          To: <Fateha@yahoogroups.com>
                                          Subject: Re: [Fateha] Re: Choice and Action
                                          Date: Fri, 8 Mar 2002 03:25:24 +0800

                                          In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.



                                          Mr James Tan,

                                          How are you. I hope you have had a good day. I seek to make the
                                          following clarifications for a better understanding of your perspective.
                                          Therefore, please allow me to begin.

                                          > i think the most convenient way of finding absolute and ultimate
                                          > justification for ethics & morality is through religion. but what is most
                                          > convenient is not necessarily correct.

                                          True. What is most convenient is not necessarily correct. What is most
                                          difficult is also not necessarily correct, if I may rephrase these words.
                                          Therefore, where and how do we find "absolute and ultimate justification for
                                          ethics and morality" besides through religion ? Through the suppositions and
                                          theories laid out by those names you have quoted, such as satre, heidegger,
                                          kierkegaard ? And how were these theories and suppositions derived by them?

                                          > dostoyesky said: if there is no god, all things are permissible. clearly,
                                          > there is nothing objective about ethics, and i think this for the
                                          > existentialist constitute in part the absurd. i believe man is built in
                                          with
                                          > a strong psychological need for the eternal, the absolute, but yet there
                                          is
                                          > none; man yearn for foundation, but he is standing on quicksand; all in
                                          all,
                                          > it is absurd. he wants to know absolutely what is good and bad, but he is
                                          > bombarded with a diversity of 'absolutes', in the end he is still reduced
                                          to
                                          > himself: he still has to choose a 'absolute'. he hopes he could have a
                                          guide
                                          > to choose, but alas what then is the guide of choosing that particular
                                          > guide? he can regress forever in this way, and if he is to live at all,
                                          he
                                          > has to stop somewhere at some point; guess what, that point is not god,
                                          it
                                          > is himself. for even a god will cease to be god if he dont believe in
                                          him;

                                          I felt an urge to dispel this notion. Let me make an attempt......
                                          If none of us believe that we are speaking to you now, does that mean that
                                          you don't exist ? To suppose that God's existence is dependent on people
                                          believing in him in order for Him to exist is similar to suppose that there
                                          is no James or Rizal or anyone else in this forum simply because no one
                                          believes that the postings posted under a particular name actually belongs
                                          to a person named James or Rizal. Therefore if I post an email in this
                                          mailing list under the name of Rizal A Rahman and no one believes that the
                                          email came from me therefore I do not exist ? Even if all of the people were
                                          like the most pious among the people, it will not increase His Kingdom a
                                          little bit and even if all of the people were like the most disbelieving
                                          among the people, it will not decrease His Kingdom a little bit.

                                          > u may judge that hitler
                                          > is morally wrong; but he would not recognise the validity of ur judgement
                                          > even if u could catch him and blow his head off point blank - he would
                                          only
                                          > feel his freedom is being interfered by a superior power, his only regret
                                          is
                                          > his military failure, not moral deprivation. hitler, therefore, cannot be
                                          > punished by an 'authority' even though he could be forced to endure pain
                                          and
                                          > inconvenience that would otherwise constitute punishment.

                                          How do we know for a fact that Hitler, or anyone else who is unable to
                                          recognize the validity of the argument against him or her, cannot be
                                          punished by an authority? Not submitting to a superior power, whether
                                          explicitly or implicitly does not exempt a person from acknowledging or
                                          disavowing the existence of the "superior power". Either he acknowledges the
                                          existence or he says that it does not exist. He and anyone else surely
                                          cannot be sitting on the fence on this matter. You may argue that I am
                                          falling back on an absolute. But my answer would be : If one sits on a fence
                                          on any subject ? Has one come to a conclusion ? NO. Therefore has one found
                                          the answer to the question he/she was asking in the first place ? NO.
                                          Therefore one must make a stand on the matter. Whether to go left or right.
                                          If one stays put at a junction without making a left or right turn or
                                          without going forward, does that mean that the person has made a choice ? It
                                          simply means he has NOT made a choice. Perhaps to some people, NOT making a
                                          choice is a choice. However, not making a choice in response to a question
                                          that originates from the person himself is an absurb proposition. For
                                          example, I ask myself - Should I stand outside my house or should I stay
                                          indoors. I decided not to make a choice. Ultimately, if I was outdoors when
                                          I did not make that choice, technically speaking I am already standing
                                          outside my house. If I was indoors when I did not make that choice,
                                          technically speaking I am already inside. Coming back to the topic, Either
                                          Hitler acknowledges the fact that he is bound by a "superior power" or he
                                          does not acknowledge that fact. The next question here is - if he does not
                                          acknowledge that he is bound by a "superior power", does that mean that the
                                          "superior power" does not exist and therefore he cannot be punished by that
                                          "superior power" ? It simply means that he chose not to think about it.
                                          Whether not thinking about it will cost him dearly or not is a question that
                                          will be answered surely on the day when no soul will be able to aid another
                                          soul.

                                          > it is somewhat akin to a muslim becoming a muslim
                                          > because he is born in a strongly muslim family and society, and much as
                                          he
                                          > could choose not to become a muslim, the severe and intense social
                                          > repurcussion that is sure to occur is too much to bear emotionally.

                                          My example above-mentioned should apply to this also. If he chose not
                                          to
                                          make a choice on the matter, and he happens to be born into a strongly
                                          muslim family and society, does that not mean that he has made any choice at
                                          all or that he was unable to make any choice due to the pressures of the
                                          family and society. Equally correctly, can we also say that he made an
                                          unconscious decision, by not making a choice, to remain within the status
                                          quo? What is his status quo ? He is a muslim. If he is unhappy with that
                                          status quo and chose to leave the status quo but he feels pressured by
                                          family/society not to leave the status quo, does that mean that he is
                                          subjected to their will ? NO. It means that he chose not to make a choice
                                          and remain in the status quo by the act of not making any choice. Whether it
                                          is too much to bear emotionally or not, is a subject that only the
                                          particular individuals themselves will be able to answer and my opinion is
                                          that no science or study of human psychology should base their FACTS on
                                          their assumptions on what and why people make or choose not to make a
                                          choice...

                                          > presume man will naturally kill, plunder, rape, molest. traditional
                                          > christianity is not so optimistic about man: it explicitly see man as
                                          > pathetically unable to resist temptation to 'evil' without the most
                                          horrid
                                          > of threats, such as burning in hell forever and ever. the freedom that
                                          man
                                          > have and allowed to have, sartre, nietzsche, kierkegaard and the likes
                                          > believe, will not lead to chaos and moral deprivation, but to artistic
                                          > sensitivity, deeply felt religion, new conscience. man will, without
                                          being
                                          > ordered, instructed, forced by man or nature, choose to be humane.

                                          Unfortunately, the only "authority" that psychologist agree with to have, if
                                          any, an effect on the actions and behaviour of a person is his/her own mind.
                                          This theory however does not explain "Who controls the mind then ? " If the
                                          mind does not need a control factor for it to work, therefore the next
                                          question posed would have to be "Then who determines when the mind should
                                          stop functioning - i.e. when we die ?" If we say that it is the mind itself
                                          that determines all of this, then the next logical question to ask would be
                                          "Then why doesn't the mind tell itself not to stop functioning and to
                                          continue on and on and on and on for eternity "

                                          > is forced is not necessarily followed also (many religions have very
                                          strong
                                          > sanction against premarital sex, for example; ironically, what is
                                          sanctioned
                                          > is not necessarily obeyed - the number of incidents of premarital sex
                                          among
                                          > those who profess to be in a religion is much higher than those who
                                          profess
                                          > without religion - this happens in my country but may just be a
                                          coincidence
                                          > with no strong correlation).

                                          Similarly, there are clauses in the constitution that are not being
                                          followed. There are people who commit theft, house-breaking, in
                                          contravention of the Statutes of the country. However does the fact that a
                                          contravention of a law has happened "proof" that the law is void or
                                          unsustainable or inappropriate ?

                                          > priori is not to take the role of a moral depraved, rather, it is to set
                                          > aside invalid justifications and become moral for the right reasons -
                                          > because one commit himself. nietzsche's superman or overman is not a nazi
                                          > prototype. why should we suppose man will do evil if we remove the forces
                                          of
                                          > authority of 'good'? is man so degrading?

                                          How does one commit oneself to morality if one is unfamiliar with what one
                                          is trying to commit oneself to ? How are you to commit yourself to the fact
                                          that "We the citizens of Singapore, Pledge ourselves as one united people"
                                          when you are unfamiliar with the definitions of what is the concept of unity
                                          ? or what is the concept of honouring a pledge ? Therefore, who teaches a
                                          person what is the concepts of morality that are correct ? Our own mind ? I
                                          beg sincerely to differ ........The theory that one's own mind alone is
                                          capable of moral actions, without the need for the "forces of authority of
                                          good" is a rosy and simplistic view of the whole situation of human
                                          morality. It propagates the notion that humans are self-subservient and is
                                          not in need of a controller of their actions. Wishful thinking, don't you
                                          agree ? The statutes of Singapore and other man-made laws are proof that it
                                          is otherwise......

                                          I have included the full text of your email below for anyone else to read if
                                          they are unable to follow my postings regarding the matter as I have stated
                                          above. May these exchanges bring about better understanding of the matters
                                          at hand. I seek only clarifications and friendly discourse. Not to seek any
                                          favour, name or glory from anyone of what I have said. So, if I have
                                          offended, please forgive me.


                                          Rizal Bin Abdul Rahman











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                                        • james tan
                                          swm, for one, i highly suspect ur average man will think u are a better person than hitler or bin laden on the basis of normative pt of view to which i am
                                          Message 20 of 21 , Mar 10, 2002
                                          • 0 Attachment
                                            swm,

                                            for one, i highly suspect ur average man will think u are a better person
                                            than hitler or bin laden on the basis of 'normative' pt of view to which i
                                            am committed. but one individual's (or culture, or society, or religion's)
                                            pt of view may be too subjective, let me try a route (other than religion)
                                            towards a universally valid and definitive moral statement against which i
                                            could make 'objective' judgement. i am not sure if chris will think i am
                                            taking a step back towards the 'absolute' or 'universal'. i will just drop
                                            jean-paul sartre, and will instead pick up charles darwin and maybe
                                            merleau-ponty for my purpose.

                                            i suspect that evolution has the key to the idea of an ethics that is
                                            universally valid. one area that is 'universally valid' is our biology, we
                                            have generally the same biological and physiological configuration as humans
                                            whether we are muslim, nazis, african, or american, so that qualified muslim
                                            doctors could treat a chinese just as well as a fellow muslim or american.
                                            in "the merchant of venice", shakespheare, shylock asked, "if u cut me (a
                                            jew), would i not bleed just as a christian would? if u insult me, would i
                                            not feel just as hurt as a christian would?". and whether the man is a
                                            religious teacher, a honourable politican (clinton), monk, ur family man
                                            with a loving wife, so long as he is healthy, ALL man would appreciate (very
                                            likely desire as well) the 'feminine charm' of a pair of supple, young
                                            breasts of a young lady
                                            and her long, slender legs doing those catwalks - of course he would not act
                                            on his id if his ego and superego is intact (freud). the point is, there are
                                            something which is universally valid regardless of race, culture, religion,
                                            even time, so long as u are talking about humans. u don't 'choose' to get an
                                            erection when u see a striptease by your sweetheart (erection could be
                                            offered as a kind of valuing - u say it is good enough for u to 'stand up'
                                            and 'applause'); u just get it. u don't 'choose' to feel hurt when someone u
                                            respect insult u, u just feel u are less of yourself, ur self-esteem just
                                            got shaken, if only a little bit or a little while. 'humaneness' could
                                            possibly be something that is hard-wired into us, not by choice, but by
                                            evolution; just like our sexual desire. it seems it is a fact we All
                                            appreciate respect and unconditional positive regards from others, esp our
                                            significant others; i think a univeral ethics could be built and constructed
                                            on this peculiar fact about the humans. i would suspend my speculation about
                                            the dogs, cats and the goldfishes.

                                            what i am to say is just speculation. now, kant set out to prove hume wrong
                                            by demonstrating that some truths were not based on subjective experience
                                            alone. kant proposed that humans make sense of the world by categories of
                                            thoughts, such as time, space, causation. he did not deny the the importance
                                            of sensory experiences, but he thought the mind must add something to that
                                            data before knowledge can be obtained, that something is ur a priori
                                            categories of thoughts. i speculate that values such as love, peace,
                                            humaneness, sympathy, duty are a kind of a priori categories of thoughts
                                            that enable us human to perceive morally. these ability to perceive morally
                                            both ourselves and others may have helped us to survive as social animals.
                                            and surviving is something that human wants, at least according to
                                            schopenhauer (and freud, the life-instinct): in his book, "the world as will
                                            and idea", he claimed that the only reality is a universal will, and this
                                            will has no other purpose other than to continue itself - to survive. man is
                                            a meaning-seeking creature, and the world has no more meaning to the
                                            non-existing man (dead).[is it any wonder that man actually project his
                                            existential fears into the world, such as positing a heaven or even hell
                                            where he would go after death? even a hell where he will be tortured
                                            forevcer is better than his total non-existence or oblivion. of course he
                                            can always package it in the form of religion - and this explains also why
                                            religions has such powerful draw for man, no matter what is his academic
                                            qualification or social or financial status - it is the only entity or
                                            construct that answer to his existential needs]. we all want to live and
                                            survive on, and our will arises from that. morality has her part to play in
                                            that will.

                                            but why bother to perceive morally? i believe it has evolutionary values;
                                            ie, it serves the function of surviving the human kind. consider the nazis:
                                            they may have killed about 6,000,000 jews but these people (nazis) know how
                                            to love their own children, relishing the hope that the third reich will
                                            last a thousand years - a indication of the correlation between love and
                                            survival on 2 pts: 1, their hatred for jews and disregards for others
                                            'elicit' a counter-attack and destruction from a superior force, 2, they
                                            don't hate their children to want them to survive, ie they 'know' love is
                                            important to the survival of humans. darwin talked about the survival of the
                                            fittest; but survival can be long termed or short termed. daily lives and
                                            normal interaction with others will be impossible without a sense of what is
                                            right or wrong. for example, we often hear, how would u like it if someone
                                            did the same to u?; leave him alone, he is not doing u any harm; come on, u
                                            promised; i will respect u if u respect me. we see these kinds of things not
                                            only between individuals (educated or not), but between nations as well; it
                                            seems they are all understood and unwritten rules. no philosophical
                                            discussion bringing up darwin, sartre, or popper is about to begin when such
                                            universal norms are being expected from one nation or individual to another,
                                            or "to hell with ur point of view and standard; u have ur commitment and i
                                            mine". a war is to break up and we have to 'justify' it to the world,
                                            justifying words such as "terrorists", "axis of evil", "corrupt". these
                                            words immediately ring a bell among free people of all nations, they
                                            immeidately know that some violation of universal human decency has
                                            occurred. bush kept stressing that islam is a religion of peace, his war is
                                            against terrorist, so that on the one hand he is morally justified among
                                            free countries to destroy al-queda and teleban in the eyes of most people in
                                            the world, on the other hand he is appealing to the universal notion that
                                            peace is a acceptable value in an attempt to defend islam; i guess he
                                            wouldn't have bothered to say islam is peace if peace has no value in the
                                            eyes of the world, regardless of race, religions, cultures; not least some
                                            misled americans venting their anger at american muslims. there is some
                                            values that are simply universal, and we may call it as ethics or morality,
                                            about which we all really agreed. if there is no agreement, then there will
                                            be fights like animals, but they would not argue or try to reason or quarrel
                                            in the human sense of the word. when u argue, u try to reason out on some
                                            common ground (of what is meant by right or wrong, or common values)that the
                                            other person is wrong. there will be no foul in nba if there is no rules to
                                            basketball. taking the human race as a whole, there is indeed a human idea
                                            of what constitute behaviours that is obvious to all (whether or not he
                                            choose to do it is another story); if not, indeed, i dont why smw is more
                                            decent than a nazi officer who order children to be buried alive or conduct
                                            grisly human experiments or to kill thousands of human everyday. against
                                            this backdrop of universal human decency, i believe the nazis or bin laden
                                            rationalise their behaviours, ie, putting forth false reasons (with which
                                            they convince others, even themselves) to justify their behaviours so that
                                            they would not feel the cognitive dissonance as a result of their behavours.
                                            they may even have manipulated their 'categories of thoughts' so that such
                                            choices and actions are totally consistent with their 'new moralities', so
                                            much so that for muslims not to kill americans or jews will not be true
                                            muslim, for nazis not to kill jews means impurity in the blood of that
                                            german. such manipulation of 'categories of thoughts' is nothing less than
                                            brainwashing.

                                            when we look at different religions, or cultures, or nations, we see that
                                            there are some slight differences in their moralities, but these hve never
                                            amount to anything like a total difference. compare the teaching of the
                                            jews, muslims, chinese, europeans, greeks, what really impress is the
                                            similarity. think of a country where people were praised for betraying their
                                            country, or killing the man who has been kind to him, or ... u may as well
                                            have 2+2=5. different cultures have different construct as to what is
                                            modest, or what is good, or what is kind, but all would want to be modest,
                                            good, kind. a japanese may bow, a american may shake hands, but the idea is
                                            to greet and respect for both cultures. such is the differences, such is the
                                            similarity. men have differed as to whether u should have one wife or four,
                                            but they have always agreed that u must not simply have any woman u liked.
                                            as for the man who insist that there is no definite moral statement, u will
                                            find that even he will appeal to it. say, he break his promise to u, but
                                            trying breaking ur promise to him, he will complain, "it's not fair". sartre
                                            believed in freedom and dignity of human being, and what are those things if
                                            there are no human decency? nietzsche may talked about overman, but i
                                            believe what he have in mind is not someone who has military or political
                                            victories, but someone who has incredible self-control. someone who
                                            overcomes himself, he who masters (through sublimation) all of the beastly,
                                            destructive; esp self destructive drives within himself; the all too human
                                            passions and fears will lead him to be comfortable and secure rather than
                                            creative. hitler is not what he had in mind of his overman. in fact, he
                                            intended that the power and strength he lauded were as often as not to be
                                            found apart from strength over others.

                                            the existentialist is right that there is no ultimate court of appeal by
                                            which any moral conception can be justified (other than one's subjective
                                            commitment). but what i feel is, morality as a social or human construct
                                            does keep him surviving as a species of humankind, and this alone might be
                                            enough to uphold it. in the long run, it does not pay to be immoral in terms
                                            of individual (or social) happiness, or well-being, physical or
                                            psychological (in part, i believe, due to our biological hardwiring that
                                            propense us towards morality to be happy, and this particular biological
                                            genetic inclination, in turn, decided by the 'wisdom' of evolution).
                                            actually, what is more ultimate than mankind surviving? there is no world
                                            (no need for ultimate justification anymore) when there is no man. when
                                            evolution give us sexual desire, it does not care about metaphysical
                                            validity; its concerns is brute and pragmatic: survival of the species. for
                                            all u know, morality as a invention of man serve precisely the same purpose.
                                            man's wisdom, dictated by evolution, can be instrumental in his survival as
                                            a species.

                                            james.



                                            From: "swmaerske" <SWMirsky@...>
                                            Reply-To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com
                                            To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com
                                            Subject: [WisdomForum] Re: Choice and Action
                                            Date: Thu, 07 Mar 2002 00:41:23 -0000

                                            I guess, James, I feel that there ought to be some way of making
                                            definitive moral statements, that this is important within our very
                                            human experience. But I admit I am stymied by this issue. I have
                                            found no firm philosophical grounding for any of this and religious
                                            dogma just doesn't work for me. Certainly an existentialism that
                                            endorses pure relativism, as I think you were offering, and which
                                            seems to lead into nhilism, doesn't satisfy me either. I am
                                            interested in Chris' exposition of morality and values, generally, as
                                            a kind of social construct but I am not yet fully convinced. I think
                                            even this Popperian view leaves us without the ability to tell people
                                            they should not do certain things and should do others. And that, I
                                            think, is a critical need or else guys like Osama bin Laden and Adolf
                                            Hitler are no worse than the rest of us. And I do have a problem with
                                            that. Because if it's so, then why shouldn't we all do what they did
                                            if that's what we want to do or if it's in our interest? -- SWM


                                            --- In WisdomForum@y..., "james tan" <tyjfk@h...> wrote:
                                            >
                                            > oh yes, intentionally or unconsciously, i have committed something
                                            i have
                                            > talked about in the presentation itself: i have projected my
                                            subjective pt
                                            > of view onto the objective. indeed, at the end of my previous post,
                                            i have
                                            > presented humaneness as if it is the good, universally valid. that
                                            was a
                                            > flop, a blunder; it is clear that it is not neutral. it has no
                                            basis other
                                            > than my point of view. but i am fuzzy about what u meant by: "leave
                                            me
                                            > unmoved as it (existentialism, as i render it) does not answer the
                                            real
                                            > question (the content of ethics?)"; if u have in mind that
                                            existentialism
                                            > should provide a set of moral values universally valid, or even
                                            something
                                            > remotely what moore has done, i guess existentialism as i
                                            understand it is
                                            > gonna disappoint u. existentialism, strictly speaking, is not even
                                            a
                                            > philosophy, rather it is an attitude; it does not provide u with
                                            the 'what',
                                            > rather it is infinitely more concerned with the 'how'; it is
                                            process more
                                            > than content. if there is one word that may sum up, it is
                                            heidegger's
                                            > "authenticity", in the broadest sense of the word, and authentic
                                            relative to
                                            > each individuals. i am sorry to have introduced that contradiction
                                            u pointed
                                            > out. u said that chris said morality is a social artifact; well,
                                            anything
                                            > that is not in the objective is a artifact, or construct, be it
                                            social or
                                            > personal; it serve a very human function of predicting and
                                            understanding the
                                            > world for any course of action (independently of the metaphyical
                                            validity).
                                            >
                                            > james.
                                            >
                                            > From: "swmaerske" <SWMirsky@a...>
                                            > Reply-To: WisdomForum@y...
                                            > To: WisdomForum@y...
                                            > Subject: [WisdomForum] Re: Choice and Action
                                            > Date: Wed, 06 Mar 2002 01:31:16 -0000
                                            >
                                            > So existentialism, as you have described it, offers us the ultimate
                                            > form of moral relativism? And yet I note that, at the end of your
                                            > presentation, you talk about man choosing humaneness, when he is
                                            free
                                            > to choose and when he recognizes that freedom, as
                                            though "humaneness"
                                            > were obviously a good thing. But without a concept of "good" how do
                                            > we know "humaneness" is a good thing? Why is not inhumanity a good
                                            > thing then, as well? How can you assume that this is preferable, or
                                            > at least the more desirable outcome, since there is no basis for
                                            this
                                            > claim? At bottom, though you argue for moral relativism, you promise
                                            > a humaneness of values which, if nothing else, is certainly not
                                            > neutral.
                                            >
                                            > Certainly your argument offers the proposition that a person
                                            > espousing what we deem to be "bad" or "evil" will not see himself as
                                            > bad, i.e., Hitler and bin Laden would both deny our
                                            charactersization
                                            > of their views and actions as bad or wrong! And I agree with you,
                                            > they would do that indeed! But my question is would they be
                                            justified
                                            > in doing so? Though your explanation of the Existentialist view
                                            > suggests they would, your claim ends with the implicit assertion
                                            that
                                            > they would not. (At least not if humaneness is to be preferred.)
                                            >
                                            > And yet you seem to be asserting that they would be justified, if
                                            > they did what they did sincerely and out of a sense of their freedom
                                            > to make such choices.
                                            >
                                            > Similarly, Popper, per Chris, would have held they would have been
                                            > justified within their own terms of seeing the world, though that
                                            set
                                            > of terms may be shown, on the Popperian view, to be wrong
                                            empirically
                                            > (though until it is shown to be wrong definitively, based on the
                                            > evidence or a convincing empirically grounded argument, there is no
                                            > reason to suppose it is wrong, hence there is no way to argue about
                                            > the moral rightness or wrongness of their actions).
                                            >
                                            > In the case you present, it seems to me you are trying to have it
                                            > both ways: you say there are not and cannot be moral standards and
                                            > that the only good is to act in good faith, whatever you do, whether
                                            > you kill millions wantonly or try to overrun the world, and yet, in
                                            > the same presentation, you praise the result of such actions as
                                            > leading, in the end, to humaneness, a clearly moral value. That is
                                            > you are suggesting that people who act in good faith will,
                                            > ultimately, choose not to wantonly destroy millions or to overrun
                                            the
                                            > world. In an argument based on contradiction and paradox, such as
                                            > Existentialism seems to love, I guess this makes sense. But it
                                            > clearly doesn't stand up to careful analysis of what has been said.
                                            >
                                            > I do agree with you that religion is one of the historical bulwarks
                                            > of morality though I think morality may actually pre-exist religion,
                                            > or at least religion as we understand it today. Certainly, a
                                            morality
                                            > that depends on a particular religious belief is highly problematic
                                            > and suspect. In fact I think, like Chris and his idol, Popper, that
                                            > morality is a social artifact, though I'm not sure I can agree with
                                            > their ultimate formulation of it. But, certainly, Existentialism as
                                            > you've sketched it out, while sounding intriguing for all its
                                            > apparent contradictions and mysteriously obscure formulations,
                                            leaves
                                            > me unmoved as it does not answer the real questions. In fact, it's
                                            > clear to me that the moral premises that concern us in these sorts
                                            of
                                            > discussions are already embedded quite deeply in the bedrock of the
                                            > Existentialist argument and are there to be mined by the careful
                                            > prospector.
                                            >
                                            > SWM
                                            >
                                            >
                                            >
                                            >
                                            >
                                            >
                                            >
                                            >
                                            >
                                            > _________________________________________________________________
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                                          • james tan
                                            From: swmaerske Reply-To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com Subject: [WisdomForum] Re: Choice and Action Date:
                                            Message 21 of 21 , Mar 10, 2002
                                            • 0 Attachment
                                              From: "swmaerske" <SWMirsky@...>
                                              Reply-To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com
                                              To: WisdomForum@yahoogroups.com
                                              Subject: [WisdomForum] Re: Choice and Action
                                              Date: Sun, 10 Mar 2002 02:49:30 -0000

                                              I think the question of the reality of rights an interesting one.
                                              Note that I was not denying that rights and duties exist. I was
                                              trying to say something about their nature, namely that they exist
                                              because individuals acknowledge them. My pet cat is unaware that she
                                              has any rights and yet one might say that the laws prohibiting
                                              certain kinds of cruelty to animals affords her some protection in
                                              our society and thus, in a sense, some rights. If she cannot
                                              recognize or enforce them by taking me to court or invoking
                                              governmental oversight and authority, certainly my neighbor could if
                                              he caught me torturing her or otherwise treating her inhumanely.

                                              My point is that rights exist as artifacts of society. They are a
                                              social phenomenon. If one takes away society, rights go as well. In
                                              the case of Gyges' ring, it is not a question of whether he is a
                                              thief (as you seem to be suggesting) but 1) whether the ring has
                                              enabled him to step outside of society and 2) whether he now feels
                                              that he has stepped outside of it and is no longer bound to act
                                              within the realm of society's rules.

                                              Today I put in a little time reading a philsopher named Alexander
                                              Sesonske. He is little known and did not make a huge contribution to
                                              the world's philosophical opus, as I recall. But his little book,
                                              Value and Obligation, is an interesting (if rather dry) one. He
                                              suggests in it that moral valuing has two components: valuing and
                                              obligation (should have figured, huh, from the title?). He argues
                                              that valuing words in the English language can be used in both
                                              senses, in most cases, but not in all cases. Therefore he concludes
                                              that the two functions, "value" and "obligation" are largely
                                              different. But he views them as co-equal. (Haven't finished the book
                                              yet so I don't know how it turns out!)

                                              After doing a little thinking about his points I have concluded that
                                              they are not co-equal. I think the valuing function precedes the duty
                                              function. In other words, it seems to me that the concept of rights
                                              (the corollary of obligations and duties) is very clearly an artifact
                                              of social entities. Societies exist because individuals come together
                                              to cooperate. In the context of such cooperation, systems of rights
                                              and duties arise between social members and may become quite
                                              sophisticated. But if you take the individual out of the social
                                              context, these things (rights and duties) evaporate. Now when an
                                              individual remains physically within a society and chooses to break
                                              these ties, to no longer follow the rules, he or she becomes a threat
                                              to the integrity and very viability of the social entity. Therefore,
                                              either implicitly (through religion and taboo) or explicitly (through
                                              legislation of leaders or assemblages), society acts to enforce these
                                              rules.

                                              Valuing, on the other hand, is inherent in our mode of rational
                                              thinking about our world (that is we couldn't do very much if we
                                              didn't have the ability to distinguish between better and worse aims
                                              to pursue, or things to do). Thus, while rights and duties arise as a
                                              consequence of our social institutions, valuing is already embedded
                                              in our language which makes the kind of relations which define human
                                              societies possible in the first place.

                                              I would argue further that the decision to adhere to certain rights
                                              and duties, for instance, and to disregard others, is based on a
                                              person's decision that doing so will or won't help to sustain a
                                              particular society and its viewpoint. Therefore, the individual
                                              decides that doing so is a good thing and therefore acts to sustain
                                              that society by accepting the rights and duties that come with being
                                              in it. So valuing, on my view, precedes accepting and discharging
                                              duties (the essential condition for rights to exist).

                                              Now this, I think, starts to get to your Popperian viewpoint, unless
                                              I miss my guess!

                                              Your suggestion has been that Popper argues that this is the basis of
                                              morality, if I am reading you right. In other words a system of
                                              implicit values (and here I mean standards or principles of
                                              behaviour) is inherent in each society. One cannot argue about these
                                              values because they are a social "given". If one participates in the
                                              society, one accepts them. That is why ethical rules are often
                                              portrayed as god-given. But, in fact, sets of written rules, such as
                                              the Ten Commandments, do not initiate the existence of such moral
                                              codes, they merely present them in a new medium (in writing where
                                              before they may have been only recited or consensually acted upon).
                                              However, the idea that they come from above evokes the sense of
                                              special authority they must have as social givens. Of course
                                              different societies offer different authorities. In Chinese
                                              Confucianism it's the Mandate of Heaven (the rightful order of the
                                              universe), in Taoism, it's the Way (the natural flow of all things),
                                              in Buddhism it's the Law of Karma. In the West, it's the Bible or the
                                              Koran. The point is that all these societies generate a "tale" to
                                              represent the embedded givenness of their fundamental principles of
                                              behaviour.

                                              Now there will be differences from society to society but given that
                                              humans are largely the same and tend to combine in similar ways and
                                              develop similar social institutions throughout the world, it follows
                                              that there will be great similarities in underlying values. Lying and
                                              theft would generally be wrong. Honor and affection generally right.
                                              Differences would exist, of course, e.g., some societies will honor
                                              aggressiveness more than others, some will countenance cannibalism or
                                              polygamy or even suicide bombers while others won't. The point is
                                              that the moral viewpoints of these societies will have quite a few
                                              similarities but also some differences.

                                              Given this, how are we to argue between societies or, in a world such
                                              as we now find ourselves in where societies collide so readily, even
                                              among ourselves? I think you have been telling us that Popper's
                                              formulation, while stating that one cannot argue about values within
                                              social frameworks (except on a factual basis, i.e., is this or that
                                              thing an example of this or that value?) and cannot argue across
                                              societies because the different members cannot "hear" the others'
                                              points, that one can still argue about the relative values of the
                                              societies themselves and that this is a factual matter worthy of
                                              discussion. Thus Popper argues for the "Open Society" and all those
                                              values that are inherent in it. Your point earlier was that one can
                                              say that bin Laden or Hitler are wrong because their values are
                                              inconsistent with this preferred form of society and that one can
                                              argue for the relative merits of this society as opposed to the
                                              presumed merits of the societies their values belong to.

                                              This means, of course, that while we cannot argue about values per
                                              se, we can argue about facts which values somehow adhere to. Open
                                              societies are better as a matter of fact because they are more likely
                                              to advance their members in knowledge and wealth and they are better
                                              (more comfortable) to live in, therefore the values that belong to
                                              them are the values we should support.

                                              Now this also means that there is no reason why we should choose an
                                              open society if a better mousetrap came along, i.e, if it could be
                                              shown that a closed system like the Byzantines, for instance, was
                                              superior, then that's what we should adopt. Or a corporate state that
                                              somehow proved more advanced and effective than our sloppy
                                              democracies. (In fact, the Byzantines, though they got a rough press,
                                              really lasted about a thousand years and were, for most of that
                                              period, a singularly successful civilization in the world they found
                                              themselves in, for all the oppression and narrow mindedness they
                                              espoused. So, on this view, in their time and place, an open society,
                                              with its concomittant values, would not have been right for them and
                                              therefore one could not have espoused our ethical viewpoints, and all
                                              that these entail, in that time and in that place.)

                                              Have I about got it, Chris?

                                              SWM


                                              --- In WisdomForum@y..., "Christopher Bobo" <cbobo@m...> wrote:
                                              > SWM commented:
                                              > >>They are external in the sense that they
                                              > depend on enforcement either through contractual arrangements or
                                              > through the oversight of a social authority. Take these away and all
                                              > rights go up in smoke. Yet one could argue that we still have
                                              certain
                                              > moral sensibilities and that these, at bottom, drive and inform
                                              right
                                              > action. That is, the intention to do no harm to another may not be
                                              > enforced (though it may be required in the external aspects of the
                                              > actions we perform in certain social contexts) and yet it may still
                                              > be laudable and praiseworthy.<<
                                              >
                                              > Rights are not external in the sense that they require an authority
                                              to enforce them before they come into existence. Even in the absence
                                              of enforcement, the claimant of a right would still have the claim,
                                              and the one who owed the duty would still have the duty. It is not
                                              merely our "moral sensibility" that is at issue. The person's whose
                                              rights have been violated will feel that he or she has been wrong,
                                              even if the law does not recognize their rights. Similarly, the one
                                              who owes them a duty will perceive that he or she is causing and
                                              injury to the person, even if he or she believes that there is no
                                              requirement to respect the other person's rights. Thus, far from
                                              going up in smoke in the absence of a contract or where civil
                                              authority is lacking, our intuition that rights exists is what fuels
                                              our desire to right contracts and to create civil authorities to
                                              enforce the existing rights. The facts that rights are pre-
                                              institutiotional is borne out historically. In The Declaration of
                                              Independence, it is declared that all men have the right to life,
                                              liberty and the pursuit of happiness. (In the Declaration of
                                              Independence, men were endowed with these rights by their creator,
                                              but we need not concern oursevles with the initial supernatural
                                              grounding of rights. Even if God falls away as the foundation, that
                                              doesn't mean that there is no such thing as a right, any more the
                                              denial of the divine creation of the world entails the non-existence
                                              of the world.) The fundamental point here is that we experience
                                              rights just as we experience the world.
                                              >
                                              >
                                              > SWM also said:
                                              > >>Given Gyges ring, would we still be
                                              > obliged to honor the rules which rights imply? If not, then the
                                              > concept does not yield a justification for the idea of morality. If
                                              > we would, then the existence of socially recognized and enforceable
                                              > rights doesn't suffice to justify morality itself. I think the real
                                              > issue is what is good and how does that drive our understanding of
                                              > anything, including the concept of rights and duties. <<
                                              >
                                              > The ring of Gyges did not prove that Gyges was not a thief, only
                                              that it would be hard to catch him at it. Thus, simply because one
                                              can get away with not following the rules or recognizing one's
                                              duties, does not mean that rules to not exist or that one has no
                                              duties. We can easily agree what rights people have reflecting upon
                                              what rights we think that we ourselves have. Some fundamental rights
                                              we have simply by being a human being with a certain constitution or
                                              condition.
                                              >
                                              > I concede that merely being human entails the existence of some
                                              primary human goods, which are goods that people have simply by
                                              virtue of being human beings.










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