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Re: [stoics] my understanding of good and evil

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  • Keith Seddon
    ... acting on the belief that their actions are appropriate. For instance, Palestinian suicide bombers are condemned as evil. What is lost is that they believe
    Message 1 of 7 , Aug 10, 2002
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      Charles wrote:

      >>>The reason people act in a way that is irrational is because they are
      acting on the belief that their actions are appropriate. For instance,
      Palestinian suicide bombers are condemned as evil. What is lost is that they
      believe they are acting in a way that is congruent with virtue. This is
      perceived as being the most effective way to liberate their homeland and
      improve the lives of their people. But the Israelis and President Bush
      condemn these people as being evil. Is this a correct judgment?<<<

      Yes, of course. Everyone acts as they do because, for one reason or another,
      they think their actions are appropriate.

      They may even think their actions are virtuous, when they are neither
      virtuous nor appropriate (as appears to be the case with the Palestinian
      suicide bombers).

      Their cause has a large degree of justice on its side, but their methods are
      immoral.

      Some people make cases for just wars, and possibly the killing of combatants
      can be consistent with virtue. But clearly this cannot apply to suicide
      bombers who attack non-combatants. And it is extremely doubtful that anyone
      apart from the suicide bombers and those close to them think that what they
      are doing is the most effective way to liberate Palestine. What they are
      doing makes an independent Palestine less likely rather than more likely.

      Altho they are motivated by a sense of injustice, what they do is entirely
      unacceptable. Those Israelis who support using helicopter gunships on
      civilian targets (even firing missiles at a school a month or two back, I
      seem to recollect) are no better, or possibly worse. For it is in the hands
      of the Israelis to take steps to solve this crisis by recognising the
      legitimacy of the Palestinian position. But they don't do that, and they
      don't need to because they have the world's only superpower on their side
      which means, effectively, that they can do whatever they like, which indeed
      is what they are doing.

      So the last thing we should be surprised at is that young Palestinians in
      sheer desperation strap bombs to themselves and let them off in acts of
      violent hatred. But no amount of understanding that desperation can
      legitimise such actions.

      Some Jews make a big point about how Jews throughout history have been the
      objects of hate. Hatred can never be morally acceptable, but on some
      occasions it will be understandable and explicable -- I think we have one of
      those situations, here.

      If, as a nation, the Israelis will accept that the Palestinians deserve
      exactly the same as what they, the Israelis, are demanding for themselves
      (homeland, freedom from occupation, political independence and such like)
      then progress can be made.

      Personally, I remain pessimistic.

      Live with honour,

      Keith
      Visit the Stoic Foundation
      http://www.btinternet.com/~k.h.s/stoic-foundation.htm
    • levichi
      Dr. Keith wrote: I disagree, I think they are making it more
      Message 2 of 7 , Aug 11, 2002
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        Dr. Keith wrote:
        <<What they are doing makes an independent Palestine less likely
        rather than more likely.>>

        I disagree, I think they are making it more likely. Remember their
        goal is not an independant Palestine existing side by side with
        Israel. Their goal is first and foremost the distruction of Israel,
        for which the Palestinian State is to be a launching ground. They
        don't blow themselves up in desparation as you said. That's
        redeculous. They blow themselves up, because they are taught to
        believe, that they would be rewarded for such an action by directly
        ascending into heaven, and having thousands of heavenly concubines
        serve on them, while in this life they are unemployed, uneducated
        losers. Indeed they undergo a long process of conditioning and
        brainwashing that starts at childhood. Rich arab nations, give
        monetary rewards to the families of martyrs.

        Now who are palestenians? Prior to the formation of the state of
        Israel, there where very few people living in Palestine. After the
        formation of Israel, many arabs where drawn to the newly prospering
        state from neighboring Arab countries to seek better life. It is
        their children and grandchildren, who are the modern day
        Palestinians. They have as much right to own Israel as Mexicans have
        to own Washington.

        levichi
      • levichi
        ... Back to the point, the only way out for Israel is complete segregation from the Palestenians. They must give them the Gaza strip, and fence them off with a
        Message 3 of 7 , Aug 11, 2002
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          --- In stoics@y..., "levichi" <levichi@y...> wrote:
          > Dr. Keith wrote:
          > <<What they are doing makes an independent Palestine less likely
          > rather than more likely.>>

          Back to the point, the only way out for Israel is complete
          segregation from the Palestenians. They must give them the Gaza
          strip, and fence them off with a huge wall. That's the only way to
          prevent history from repeating itself: As soon as palestenians see
          that they had much better life as Israeli citizens, they will try to
          cross the border into Israel again. And then their children will
          start the suicide bombings all over again like a never ending cycle.

          So in fact I think the suicide bombings were quite effective in
          getting them independant Palestine. But that was not their goal -
          one, it was the total distruction of Israel. Two - they will soon
          become economically the peers of North Korea.
        • tom_paines_ghost
          ... Israel, ... Here you make a number of errors. First, you lump all Palestinian s together in one group, essentializing them to their most extreme elements.
          Message 4 of 7 , Aug 11, 2002
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            --- In stoics@y..., "levichi" <levichi@y...> wrote:
            > Dr. Keith wrote:
            > <<What they are doing makes an independent Palestine less likely
            > rather than more likely.>>
            >
            > I disagree, I think they are making it more likely. Remember their
            > goal is not an independant Palestine existing side by side with
            > Israel. Their goal is first and foremost the distruction of
            Israel,
            > for which the Palestinian State is to be a launching ground.

            Here you make a number of errors. First, you lump all Palestinian's
            together in one group, essentializing them to their most extreme
            elements.

            Although most Palestinian's probably desire an end to Israel (and
            who would not, in their shoes?) the cast majority realize it is not
            going to happen. There are some extremist groups who may not realize
            that, but they are a minority.

            There are exteremists on the ISraeli side who have no desire for
            peace either, Sharon being a prime example. It is interesting that a
            day after Hamas announced it would reconsider their policy of
            destroying Israel if Israel ended the occupation the IDF used an
            American made F-16 to drop a American made 2000 LB laser guided bomb
            into a residential area to kill one of their leaders-and dozens of
            civilians and children, as well...

            There are several issues in contention. The easiest to address is
            the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and the illegal
            settlements there. Israel has no right to these lands under any
            principle of international law, and should withdraw into their 1967
            borders as soon as possible (with some adjustment around Jerusalem.)
            Further Israel and the United States should work at nation building,
            helping the Palestinians develope a modern infrastructure.

            Jerusalem is another issue of contention. Some equitable settlement
            much be reached, perhaps with binding arbitration from a third
            party. The original idea of Jerusalem as an open city should perhaps
            be considered.

            THose two are relatively easy..

            BNow for the toughy; the right of return. When Israel fought its war
            of independance, they engaged in ethnic cleansing, driving some 700-
            900000 Palestinian Arabs from their homes. The then seized these
            peoples lands and properties.

            There are now some 4.5 million refugees, the survivors of this
            diaspora and their descendants, and they want to return to their
            homes. Most of their lands are outside of the land awarded Israel in
            the 1948 partition, an illegally conquered and held by them.

            Clearly these people have a right to return to their land, but this
            poses a problem for the ISraeli's; the demographic shift of having
            another 4.5 million Palestinians would put Israel's nature as
            a "Jewish State" in question. (Indeed, the very reason that they
            massacred and drove the Arabs off in the first place..)


            They
            > don't blow themselves up in desparation as you said. That's
            > redeculous. They blow themselves up, because they are taught to
            > believe, that they would be rewarded for such an action by
            directly
            > ascending into heaven, and having thousands of heavenly concubines
            > serve on them, while in this life they are unemployed, uneducated
            > losers. Indeed they undergo a long process of conditioning and
            > brainwashing that starts at childhood. Rich arab nations, give
            > monetary rewards to the families of martyrs.

            None of which changes the fact that strapping a bomb to yourself and
            pulling the fuse is clearly an act of desperation. That their is an
            ideology rewarding such desperate actions, in theory, does not
            change the fact the act is one of a desperate person.

            Further, the idea that a Palestinian needs "brainwashing" to hate
            Israeli's is bizzare. Every time he is beatwen by theuir army, his
            family home violated, every day of the occupation teaches hatred.
            And every Israeli military opperation in the occupied lands is a
            recruiting drive for the extremist groups.


            >
            > Now who are palestenians? Prior to the formation of the state of
            > Israel, there where very few people living in Palestine. After the
            > formation of Israel, many arabs where drawn to the newly
            prospering
            > state from neighboring Arab countries to seek better life. It is
            > their children and grandchildren, who are the modern day
            > Palestinians. They have as much right to own Israel as Mexicans
            have
            > to own Washington.
            >
            > levichi

            This lie has been disproven many times; a "land without a people for
            a people without a land" is one of the biggest lies in Israel's
            grand narrative. If you like, I can provide for you links to
            extensive documentation refuing this canard. Palestine has been
            occupied continously since antiquity. It was a major agricultural
            producer LONG before Zionism brought European Jews back to ISrael.
            And Arabs fled the newly created ISrael, an estimated 7000000-
            9000000, as a result of ethnic cleansing by the Zionists-an exodus
            spurred on by the massacre of Arab civilians, as the ISraeli's
            themselves admit.

            Palestinians have a right to self determination. They have a clear
            right to all of the occupied lands, and to large portions of Israel
            inside the Green Line as well. Far from the Arabs being newcommers,
            the Israeli's are acting as colonialists. The idesa that Arabs
            flocked in to be oppressed is such sophistic drivel that I wonder
            you dare offer it forth.
          • tom_paines_ghost
            Typical imperialist methodology, the reservation strategy. Shameful. Take all their land and give them the worst of it. I think you will find a wall won t
            Message 5 of 7 , Aug 11, 2002
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              Typical imperialist methodology, the reservation strategy.

              Shameful. Take all their land and "give" them the worst of it.

              I think you will find a wall won't work; Israeli and Palestinian
              cultures and society are too interwoven. Plus there is no way they
              are going to displace from the West Bank; not to mention lot of
              Arabs live in Israel.

              And when the wall and reservation scheme don't work, what next?

              Israel has done a great job of recreating the conditions of their
              abuse, with themselves as the victimizer instead of victim, like a
              child who was abused and perpetuates the cycle by becoming abuser.

              A two-tier legal system, ghettos, pogroms...

              They have it all. And when your scheme fails, what then?

              A final solution for the Palestinian problem?

              Maybe the Germans can help them out with a deal for some "showers"
              and ovens?

              --- In stoics@y..., "levichi" <levichi@y...> wrote:
              > --- In stoics@y..., "levichi" <levichi@y...> wrote:
              > > Dr. Keith wrote:
              > > <<What they are doing makes an independent Palestine less likely
              > > rather than more likely.>>
              >
              > Back to the point, the only way out for Israel is complete
              > segregation from the Palestenians. They must give them the Gaza
              > strip, and fence them off with a huge wall. That's the only way to
              > prevent history from repeating itself: As soon as palestenians see
              > that they had much better life as Israeli citizens, they will try
              to
              > cross the border into Israel again. And then their children will
              > start the suicide bombings all over again like a never ending
              cycle.
              >
              > So in fact I think the suicide bombings were quite effective in
              > getting them independant Palestine. But that was not their goal -
              > one, it was the total distruction of Israel. Two - they will soon
              > become economically the peers of North Korea.
            • Steve Marquis
              Charles wrote: _______________ Here, Epictetus speaks of people who make incorrect judgments. He cautions us not to compound the error by making additional
              Message 6 of 7 , Aug 11, 2002
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                Charles wrote:
                _______________

                Here, Epictetus speaks of people who make incorrect judgments. He cautions
                us not to compound the error by making additional incorrect judgments.

                But the Israelis and President Bush condemn these people as being evil. Is
                this a correct judgment?
                _________________

                I think Jan has shown conclusively that the classical Stoics would indeed
                classify people as either good or bad theoretically (I am reluctant to use
                the word evil; it is a very 'passion' laden word). But for us to judge
                others practically is highly problematic: we know very little of the facts
                (especially motivation) and we see others through the distortion of our own
                ego attachments. In effect, we condemn others to justify our own
                unconsidered positions. We agree here.

                Still political leaders must motivate to gain support. We tend to make the
                enemy evil in order to justify our violence. The appeal is to passion, not
                reason. It is also pragmatically true in that it works.

                Charles continues:
                _________________

                All people act in what they perceive to be their best interest. This is
                axiomatic. It is the one constant that you can count on in all situations
                with dealing with people.
                _________________

                I believe what you are referring to here is psychological egoism. If
                people cannot act otherwise, then all our discussions of morality and
                ethics are irrelevant. I will agree that this is almost always the case.
                Here is the issue of average and normal again: Even if all observation
                (ie, history) shows this to be the case, it does not prove that it is, in
                fact, true. That little out gives us all the maneuvering room we need.

                But, yes, motivation appears to be relative to the person.

                Charles again:
                ________________

                But the idea of moral responsibility is packed with too much that smacks of
                superstition and theonomy.
                _________________

                Perhaps in judging others, maybe not when it comes to personal moral
                responsibility (what is under our control).

                Below is rather lengthy quote from Long & Sedly, 'The Hellenistic
                Philosophers' (Cambridge 1987 pp 392-394). This entire section on the
                Stoics is entitled 'moral responsibility' and might be interesting to you
                (as might the entire book).

                '[The Stoics] are often called "compatibilists" by scholars. This however,
                may understate the position. On the Stoic view determinism and moral
                responsibility are not merely compatible, they actually presuppose each other.

                And although [Chrysippus] seems to have accepted that fate in some sense
                necessitates, his more interesting tactic, emphasized in Cicero's "On
                Fate", was that of trying to separate causal determination from
                necessitation. His method was to retain a notion of counterfactual
                possibility.

                A man's moral character is the primary cause of his performing good or bad
                acts. Each act additionally requires a triggering cause, normally in the
                form of sense-impression, since all acts are somehow responses to external
                circumstances.

                Now what kind of causation is exerted by fate? From a cosmic perspective,
                fate is the entire conjunction of causes. But from the point of view of
                the human individual, there is a sharp divide between himself, comprising
                his beliefs, moral qualities, etc., and the external world with which he
                interacts.

                He must, especially when the apportionment of responsibility is at issue,
                distinguish himself from the chain of external influences. Thus fate, from
                [the moral agent's] point of view, is the set of external causes which, by
                acting on him, work to being about their destined effects. But since these
                external causes are no more than triggering causes, he cannot hold them in
                any strong sense responsible for his actions, let alone sufficient to
                necessitate them. The primary cause is himself.

                For actions to be 'in our power' is simply for us to be their principal
                causes. Fate can be said to bring them about through us.

                Now, if the dominating causal nexus were purely mechanical, as in an
                atomistic universe, Chrysippus might accept that his theory did not
                vindicate morality, but merely accounted for the illusion of it. On the
                Stoic view, however, morality belongs first and foremost to the entire
                cosmic plan. It is from here that it filters down to individual human
                lives . . .

                Far from conflicting with morality, fate is the moral structure of the
                world. Our minds are fragments of the divine mind, and by lining up our
                own impulses with the pre-ordained good we can achieve individual goodness,
                and the only true freedom.'

                Charles listed an argument of what he calls the 'Theonomic Perspective":
                ____________

                1. My position is right . . .
                2. Those who oppose my position are wrong . . .
                3. [Those who oppose my position] are evil and need to be stopped . . .
                _____________

                Ah, good ol' ego attachment. We can argue the specifics of an issue (ie,
                the content) until the end of this cosmic cycle, but until we address ego
                attachment (ie, the context) it is very difficult to make any progress.
                Maybe not making those wrong who disagree with us is a way to start.

                Charles, an excellent post.

                Steve
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