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Re: [stoics] Re: Vegetarianism and Pacifism

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  • robin
    ... Possibly, but in practice we cannot be certain whether either of these are true. The passengers on UA93 saved thousands of lives by concluding correctly
    Message 1 of 13 , Jul 1, 2006
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      Adam Ophir Shapira wrote:
      > alicorn1976 wrote:
      >
      >> So you mean you really can't imagine a situation where morality would
      >> /require/ you to use violence? Hmm that's rather odd to me. If a Stoic
      >> is to seek Justice then you must realize that not all those who would
      >> work against Justice will come quietly.
      >>
      >
      > In Stoicism --- the NUMERO UNO priority is that which is
      > within your own control. If you aint got that, you aint
      > got squato.
      >
      > It is that which is within your own domain that is
      > either good or evil. That which is outside your
      > domain (part of the domain of others - or the domain
      > of nature) is indifferent (whether a preferred
      > indifferent, a dispreferred indifferent, or a neutral
      > indifferent).
      >
      > It is our obligations, when we see a dispreferred
      > indifferent on the horison, to do our part to stop
      > it. But we must also be prepared to realize and
      > accept when our part has been done -- and we have
      > no choice but to watch things unfold. And when
      > that point comes, we must do so with tranquility.
      >
      >
      >> You are honestly saying that you believe it better to watch your
      >> mother/wife/ daughter be raped rather than lift a finger to protect them?
      >>
      >
      > I don't know if there are any sages here. If there
      > aren't any, then we would most likely all instinctively
      > revert to violence in such a situation.
      >
      > A sage, however, will only revert to violence if
      > violence can stop the rape while no other measure
      > can.
      >
      >
      >> Can I also understand that you are honestly saying that it would have
      >> been immoral of you (being a pacifist and all) to have used violence to
      >> stop the hijackers on 9/11? You would have rather sat back and watched
      >> while 3000+ people died rather than commit violence to stop that?
      >>
      >
      > The same story here --- violence is the right answer if
      > and only if the following two conditions *both* apply.
      > (1) You can stop the hijackers by using violence (2) you
      > can *not* stop the hijackers *without* using violence.
      >
      > If either of these statements is false, then the
      > situation does not call for violence.
      >
      Possibly, but in practice we cannot be certain whether either of these
      are true. The passengers on UA93 saved thousands of lives by concluding
      correctly that both these conditions applied, but if they'd acted before
      this was certain and attacked the hijackers immediately, they might have
      saved their own lives as well.

      We also need to fine-tune the conditions. In case (1), we do not need to
      be certain that violence will stop the hijackers, since there are other
      benefits that may be gained through violent resistance (e.g. presenting
      a good example to others in similar situations). In case (2), I would
      still use violence if other effective means would still result in
      dispreferred indifferents while violence would not. All things being
      equal, defeating an enemy without violence is obviously preferred, but
      can be a bit of a luxury. To return to the case of the groper, it would
      be preferable to prevent his groping through peaceful means such as
      persuasion, complaints to a supervisor or whatever, but if these are
      long processes during which the groping will continue, and kneeing him
      in the balls will stop it immediately, then I'd say go for the balls.

      Robin


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    • the.dude6752000
      ... The general Stoic view, which I am indeed inclined to agree with, is that animals simply do not have the hegimonikon , the ruling faculty that humans do
      Message 2 of 13 , Jul 1, 2006
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        --- In stoics@yahoogroups.com, "reb_el" <bamford@...> wrote:
        >
        > > Jan: "There are modern thinkers who combine vegetarianism and
        > pacifism."
        >
        > I am one, although I don't know if it is accurate to say that I
        > combine them. Rather, they both spring from the same source; the
        > desire not to kill, at least inasmuch as I can reasonably avoid any
        > involvement in killing. I think there are two sources of this
        > desire; emotional and rational.
        >
        > The emotional source is kindness and compassion. This is by far the
        > stronger reason for me. I respect and value all conscious beings,
        > not just human beings, and do not wish them to suffer. I know I
        > cannot take away their suffering, but I can at least avoid
        > contributing to it.
        >
        > The rational source is the reciprocal golden rule extended to all
        > sentient beings, not just confined to human beings as is customary.
        >
        > Regarding pacifism, I do not wish to be killed. Thus, what right
        > have I to kill other human beings, if killing other human beings can
        > reasonably be avoided? Just because I can?
        >
        > Regarding vegetarianism, I do not wish to be eaten. Thus, what
        > right have I to eat other conscious beings, if eating other
        > conscious beings can reasonably be avoided? Just because I can?
        >
        > I know I hold minority views regarding both 'isms. But as Stoicism
        > teaches... I cannot change the world, I can only change myself.
        >
        > Best,
        >
        > -Rick
        >
        The general Stoic view, which I am indeed inclined to agree with, is
        that animals simply do not have the "hegimonikon", the "ruling
        faculty" that humans do that makes them truly "sentient" and aware
        beings. Really, can you ever imagine a gazelle suing a lion that bit
        it? Of course not, because neither the gazelle nor the lion operates
        on that intellectual level.
      • the.dude6752000
        I don t know if there are any sages here. If there aren t any, then we would most likely all instinctively revert to violence in such a situation. A sage,
        Message 3 of 13 , Jul 1, 2006
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          I don't know if there are any sages here. If there
          aren't any, then we would most likely all instinctively
          revert to violence in such a situation.

          A sage, however, will only revert to violence if
          violence can stop the rape while no other measure
          can.
          -----------

          That brings up a very good point. If violence is ever permissable,
          WHEN is it all right? The situation of taking a slap to the face is
          used extensively by both Epictetus and Jesus; in both cases, the
          answer is don't respond. Jesus says to turn the other cheek; Epictetus
          says to go on as if you had accidentally run into a statue.

          At another point, he says

          ---------
          How, then, is there left any place for fighting, to a man who has this
          opinion [i.e., the Stoic opinion]? Is he surprised at anything which
          happens, and does it appear new to him? Does he not expect that which
          comes from the bad to be worse and more grievous than what actually
          befalls him? And does he not reckon as pure gain whatever they may do
          which falls short of extreme wickedness? "Such a person has reviled
          you." Great thanks to him for not having, struck you. "But he has
          struck me also." Great thanks that he did not wound you "But he
          wounded me also." Great thanks that he did not kill you. For when did
          he learn or in what school that man is a tame animal, that men love
          one another, that an act of injustice is a great harm to him who does
          it. Since then he has not to him who does it. Since then he has not
          learned this and is not convinced of it, why shall he not follow that
          which seems to be for his own "Your neighbour has thrown stones." Have
          you then done anything wrong? "But the things in the house have been
          broken." Are you then a utensil? No; but a free power of will. What,
          then, is given to you in answer to this? If you are like a wolf, you
          must bite in return, and throw more stones. But if you consider what
          is proper for a man, examine your store-house, see with at faculties
          you came into the world. Have you the disposition of a wild beast,
          Have you the disposition of revenge for an injury? When is a horse
          wretched? When he is deprived of his natural faculties; not when he
          cannot crow like a cock, but when he cannot run. When is a dog
          wretched? Not when he cannot fly, but when he cannot track his game.
          Is, then, a man also unhappy in this way, not because he cannot
          strangle lions or embrace statues, for he did not come into the world
          in the possession of certain powers from nature for this purpose, but
          because he has lost his probity and his fidelity?
          ---------

          Not that I have any real answers, just food for thought ;).
        • Alan Ross
          Hi,friends. I m new to this forum. My name is Alan. I live north of the San Francisco Bay Area and I make a living working a very low status job that provides
          Message 4 of 13 , Jul 1, 2006
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            Hi,friends. I'm new to this forum. My name is Alan. I live north of the San Francisco Bay Area and I make a living working a very low status job that provides a very modest income. Since I've come to the conclusion that I'm not likely in my lifetime to become rich or famous (those enormously seductive indifferents), I've decided that I might as well expend the greater part of my efforts toward cultivating a life of inner dignity and moral integrity. Hence my interest in Stoicism.
             
            I've been following this thread with great interest. I'm sympathetic with those who argue for total pacifism. I like to think that in a world where everyone was committed to Stoic principles, violence would be unnecessary. Unfortunately, in the world we actually live, circumstances could arise that require a violent response. Excellent examples have already been given. I believe that taking no action while rape, murder, or an act of terrorism is taking place is to allow injustice to flourish. Marcus Aurelius points out in Meditations 9:5 that "Injustice results as often from not doing as from doing." (Hicks and Hicks)
             
            It's my understanding that the actions of others--presumably including rape, murder, and acts of terrorism--are classified as "indifferents," but our responses to those indifferents are not indifferent. I believe that a minimally violent response where absolutely necessary can be considered "good" when prompted by courage and the requirements of justice (two cardinal virtues), as long as vices such as rage and hatred can be avoided.
             
            The Epictetus quote seems to apply particularly to revenge for a presumed injury. I believe that violence for the sake of revenge is definitely crossing the line of what I would consider justifiable. My preference is to follow MA's advice (6:6): "The best revenge is not to do as they do."
             
            Alan
             
            ----- Original Message -----
            Sent: Saturday, July 01, 2006 3:49 PM
            Subject: [stoics] Re: Vegetarianism and Pacifism


            I don't know if there are any sages here. If there
            aren't any, then we would most likely all instinctively
            revert to violence in such a situation.

            A sage, however, will only revert to violence if
            violence can stop the rape while no other measure
            can.
            -----------

            That brings up a very good point. If violence is ever permissable,
            WHEN is it all right? The situation of taking a slap to the face is
            used extensively by both Epictetus and Jesus; in both cases, the
            answer is don't respond. Jesus says to turn the other cheek; Epictetus
            says to go on as if you had accidentally run into a statue.

            At another point, he says

            ---------
            How, then, is there left any place for fighting, to a man who has this
            opinion [i.e., the Stoic opinion]? Is he surprised at anything which
            happens, and does it appear new to him? Does he not expect that which
            comes from the bad to be worse and more grievous than what actually
            befalls him? And does he not reckon as pure gain whatever they may do
            which falls short of extreme wickedness? "Such a person has reviled
            you." Great thanks to him for not having, struck you. "But he has
            struck me also." Great thanks that he did not wound you "But he
            wounded me also." Great thanks that he did not kill you. For when did
            he learn or in what school that man is a tame animal, that men love
            one another, that an act of injustice is a great harm to him who does
            it. Since then he has not to him who does it. Since then he has not
            learned this and is not convinced of it, why shall he not follow that
            which seems to be for his own "Your neighbour has thrown stones." Have
            you then done anything wrong? "But the things in the house have been
            broken." Are you then a utensil? No; but a free power of will. What,
            then, is given to you in answer to this? If you are like a wolf, you
            must bite in return, and throw more stones. But if you consider what
            is proper for a man, examine your store-house, see with at faculties
            you came into the world. Have you the disposition of a wild beast,
            Have you the disposition of revenge for an injury? When is a horse
            wretched? When he is deprived of his natural faculties; not when he
            cannot crow like a cock, but when he cannot run. When is a dog
            wretched? Not when he cannot fly, but when he cannot track his game.
            Is, then, a man also unhappy in this way, not because he cannot
            strangle lions or embrace statues, for he did not come into the world
            in the possession of certain powers from nature for this purpose, but
            because he has lost his probity and his fidelity?
            ---------

            Not that I have any real answers, just food for thought ;).

          • robin
            ... Welcome to the forum! I think what you write sums up the Stoic position pretty well. Robin -- No virus found in this outgoing message. Checked by AVG Free
            Message 5 of 13 , Jul 2, 2006
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              Alan Ross wrote:
              > Hi,friends. I'm new to this forum. My name is Alan. I live north of
              > the San Francisco Bay Area and I make a living working a very low
              > status job that provides a very modest income. Since I've come to the
              > conclusion that I'm not likely in my lifetime to become rich or famous
              > (those enormously seductive indifferents), I've decided that I might
              > as well expend the greater part of my efforts toward cultivating a
              > life of inner dignity and moral integrity. Hence my interest in Stoicism.
              >
              > I've been following this thread with great interest. I'm sympathetic
              > with those who argue for total pacifism. I like to think that in a
              > world where everyone was committed to Stoic principles, violence would
              > be unnecessary. Unfortunately, in the world we actually live,
              > circumstances could arise that require a violent response. Excellent
              > examples have already been given. I believe that taking no action
              > while rape, murder, or an act of terrorism is taking place is to allow
              > injustice to flourish. Marcus Aurelius points out in Meditations 9:5
              > that "Injustice results as often from not doing as from doing." (Hicks
              > and Hicks)
              >
              > It's my understanding that the actions of others--presumably including
              > rape, murder, and acts of terrorism--are classified as "indifferents,"
              > but our responses to those indifferents are not indifferent. I believe
              > that a minimally violent response where absolutely necessary can be
              > considered "good" when prompted by courage and the requirements of
              > justice (two cardinal virtues), as long as vices such as rage and
              > hatred can be avoided.
              >
              > The Epictetus quote seems to apply particularly to revenge for a
              > presumed injury. I believe that violence for the sake of revenge is
              > definitely crossing the line of what I would consider justifiable. My
              > preference is to follow MA's advice (6:6): "The best revenge is not to
              > do as they do."
              >
              Welcome to the forum! I think what you write sums up the Stoic position
              pretty well.

              Robin


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            • robin
              ... More specifically (as someone here pointed out) in the Stoic view, animals do not have patheia but only perhaps propatheia. I m reminded of an essay by
              Message 6 of 13 , Jul 2, 2006
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                the.dude6752000 wrote:
                > --- In stoics@yahoogroups.com, "reb_el" <bamford@...> wrote:
                >
                >>> Jan: "There are modern thinkers who combine vegetarianism and
                >>>
                >> pacifism."
                >>
                >> I am one, although I don't know if it is accurate to say that I
                >> combine them. Rather, they both spring from the same source; the
                >> desire not to kill, at least inasmuch as I can reasonably avoid any
                >> involvement in killing. I think there are two sources of this
                >> desire; emotional and rational.
                >>
                >> The emotional source is kindness and compassion. This is by far the
                >> stronger reason for me. I respect and value all conscious beings,
                >> not just human beings, and do not wish them to suffer. I know I
                >> cannot take away their suffering, but I can at least avoid
                >> contributing to it.
                >>
                >> The rational source is the reciprocal golden rule extended to all
                >> sentient beings, not just confined to human beings as is customary.
                >>
                >> Regarding pacifism, I do not wish to be killed. Thus, what right
                >> have I to kill other human beings, if killing other human beings can
                >> reasonably be avoided? Just because I can?
                >>
                >> Regarding vegetarianism, I do not wish to be eaten. Thus, what
                >> right have I to eat other conscious beings, if eating other
                >> conscious beings can reasonably be avoided? Just because I can?
                >>
                >> I know I hold minority views regarding both 'isms. But as Stoicism
                >> teaches... I cannot change the world, I can only change myself.
                >>
                >> Best,
                >>
                >> -Rick
                >>
                >>
                > The general Stoic view, which I am indeed inclined to agree with, is
                > that animals simply do not have the "hegimonikon", the "ruling
                > faculty" that humans do that makes them truly "sentient" and aware
                > beings. Really, can you ever imagine a gazelle suing a lion that bit
                > it? Of course not, because neither the gazelle nor the lion operates
                > on that intellectual level.
                >
                More specifically (as someone here pointed out) in the Stoic view,
                animals do not have patheia but only perhaps propatheia. I'm reminded of
                an essay by Alan Watts where he muses on a seagull trying to peck open
                the shell of a crab. He decides there is no point in getting upset about
                the whole "nature red in tooth and claw" thing, because even if crabs
                have feelings, a crab would simply love life when it was eating, and
                hate it when it was being eaten. What it wouldn't do was go round
                thinking "It's awful having to keep looking out for those bloody seagulls."

                Now this view certainly doesn't invalidate vegetarianism, but it might
                lead to the view (which is co-incidentally that of most people in a wide
                variety of cultures) that it is OK to kill animals for food, but not to
                inflict pain on them without good reason. This is actually written into
                some religious laws (Judaism and Islam come to mind).


                Robin


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              • reb_el
                ... indeed inclined to agree with, is that animals simply do not have the hegimonikon , the ruling faculty that humans do that makes them truly sentient
                Message 7 of 13 , Jul 2, 2006
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                  > Dude in post 13268 said: "The general Stoic view, which I am
                  indeed inclined to agree with, is that animals simply do not have
                  the "hegimonikon", the "ruling faculty" that humans do that makes
                  them truly "sentient" and aware beings. Really, can you ever imagine
                  a gazelle suing a lion that bit it? Of course not, because neither
                  the gazelle nor the lion operates on that intellectual level."

                  I realize that this is the prevailing view among most people; that
                  because animals lack our cleverness, they are not entitled to any
                  rights. (or, at least, only entitled to significantly curtailed
                  rights at the sufferance of humans.) It's a bit like Asimov's 3 laws
                  of robotics, only applied to animals instead of machines. If we
                  don't need their flesh, or their skin, or the power of their muscle,
                  or the land they live on, then they are free to live as they like.

                  What strikes me as irrationally and un-compassionately inconsistent
                  is that most humans apply this standard with blatant bias. They
                  value and 'humanize' certain animals they see as worthy of respect
                  and rights; such as dogs, cats, horses, talking birds, etc. But
                  they devalue and 'dehumanize' certain other animals they view merely
                  as meat propped up by calcium sticks; such as cattle, pigs, fowl,
                  etc. This is a prejudice that was perhaps once born of necessity,
                  but it is a prejudice nonetheless, and no longer necessary in most
                  cases.

                  This "ruling faculty" seems a bit overrated anyway. What has reason
                  given us? The ability to wage war on both ourselves and animals
                  with greater and greater efficiency. We talk of vicious and violent
                  people 'acting like animals', but we insult animals by saying so.
                  Animals very rarely act with cruelty for the pleasure of it, or
                  revenge, as humans often do. I have yet to see a group of animals
                  hoist a banner and form a phalanx to attack another group of animals
                  that do not share their religion, or their form of government, or
                  their economic system, or some other intangible concept for which we
                  humans have drained so much of our blood. War did not enter our
                  history until reason did.

                  For me, the more important difference between human beings and the
                  rest of our fellow earthlings is the "ethical faculty" (there's
                  probably some long Greek word for that). That is, while we are
                  undeniably more clever than other earth beings, the real difference
                  is that we are capable of making and acting upon (often abstract)
                  moral choices.

                  I think this is because of two things...

                  Firstly, we humans seem to have the ability for unconditional
                  universal compassion, even if it is rarely employed. For animals
                  complex enough to display compassion at all, this compassion seems
                  conditional; restricted to the animal's mate, offspring and/or
                  immediate group members. Perhaps some highly developed animals can
                  feel compassion for ALL members of their own species. This would
                  put such a 'beast' on an ethical par with most human beings.

                  Secondly, and somewhat less important IMO, is that we have the
                  ability to reason through the potential consequences of our actions
                  and gauge that 'immoral' choices will harm us and/or others in the
                  long run.

                  > Robin in post 13278 (quoting Watts): "...even if crabs have
                  feelings, a crab would simply love life when it was eating, and hate
                  it when it was being eaten. What it wouldn't do was go round
                  thinking "It's awful having to keep looking out for those bloody
                  seagulls." "

                  Perhaps. I cannot explain how the minds of my fellow humans work,
                  let alone crabs. But I see a small rabbit in my yard almost every
                  day, and he is clearly on the lookout for danger at all times. I
                  don't know if we can bestow the human concept of 'worry' upon a
                  rabbit, but he sure acts like a worried person. Whether the rabbit
                  (or a crab) thus views life as 'awful' or not is probably beyond its
                  ken. My assumption is that nearly all of their limited faculties
                  are employed for the goal of surviving to the next moment, and they
                  probably don't consider whether surviving is worth it or not.

                  > Robin continues: "Now this view certainly doesn't invalidate
                  vegetarianism, but it might lead to the view (which is co-
                  incidentally that of most people in a wide variety of cultures) that
                  it is OK to kill animals for food, but not to inflict pain on them
                  without good reason."

                  It seems to me that what people find 'OK' or 'not OK' is based on
                  what they value or do not value, and to what degree. I doubt many
                  people make much introspection into what they value and what they do
                  not. I suspect they mostly inherit their values from their family
                  and society, and give them little consideration most of the time. I
                  think perhaps this is a major difference between conservative people
                  and liberal people. Liberals are more willing to question their
                  inherited values, while conservatives more or less just accept them
                  at face value.

                  I also doubt that people can be reasoned into, or out of, valuing
                  something. I think valuing other sentient life comes from some
                  compassionate spark within, not from the cold calculations of pure
                  reason. I personally believe that the potential for such a
                  compassionate spark lies with each of us, but to what extent it
                  glows, if at all, is different for each of us, and is probably
                  mostly unconsciously conditioned by both our genes and our
                  experiences.

                  But, as always, what the Hades do I know? Just my two drachmas,
                  adjusted for inflation.

                  Best,

                  -Rick
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