• TheMadFool
    13.9k
    Don't forget the daoist 'yin-yang'. Imbalances cause oppositions-reversals (i.e. complementary effects ... not unlike Hegelian/Marxist dialectics). Laozi's "harmony" (balance, wu wei) is analogous to Aristotle's "golden mean" (arete).180 Proof

    Yep. I want your opinion on something that's bothering me for as long as I can remember. The Taoist harmony principle between opposites (hot-cold, good-bad, and so on), to my reckoning, implies the existence and, shockingly, the necessity for disharmony (the counterbalancing force of harmony). This, as far as I can tell, means there should be discord/strife/struggle/chaos in the universe. If so, what's the point at all of seeking balance/equilibrium?
  • SophistiCat
    2k
    The question is unclear, which is why I think the responses are all over the place. What sort of an answer to do you expect? Is this a scientific question? Normative? Metaphysical? What do you assume at the outset? (E.g. do you assume that moral behavior is an evolved trait and then wonder why other species did not evolve it as well?)
  • 180 Proof
    9.8k
    What's the most baseline intrinsic behaviour there is? Survival, no?Hermeticus
    That is an extrinsic benefit.
    So all these extrinsic benefits were adopted for an intrinsic purpose.
    Surviving =/= thriving (i.e. surviving is necessary but not sufficient for thriving). To thrive – self-cultivate – is an intrinsic benefit.
    Can altruism ever be non-reciprocal?[ Even if there is no immediate return -
    Yes, as you point out: no quid pro quo.
    helping others inevitably raises my standing with the helped.
    Helping a dying person die doesn't raise your standing with the dead.
    Does Hillel urge us not to hate for the sake of goodness, or does he urge us because he does not want to encounter hate himself?
    The rabbi reminds us, I think, not to do anything we know is hateful to another so that we avoid that our 'hating' becomes a (self-immiserating) bad habit, or vice.

    Have you even read the Daodejing? What "opposites"? The yin-yang are complementaries entwined with each and not separate, discrete, "opposites". Imbalance is the diagnosis – rigidly fixating on one complementary and neglecting the other; seeking balance (via effortless (fluid, flowing) activity) is the treatment.

    When imbalance is absent balance is present. When balance is absence, imbalance is present.

    (Imbalance : illness :: balance : good health & diet :: seeking balance : medicine.)

    Still not clear? Read Laozi, Fool. :sweat:
  • TheMadFool
    13.9k
    That's simply due to how we define good and evil.Hermeticus

    So, I could then define your joy and suffering away?

    The other view is that death is a part of life just like anything else and there is nothing inherently evil about it.Hermeticus

    A variation of the naturalistic fallacy. Remember, morality is about oughts and not ises, the latter is a cause of much dissatisfaction (dukkha).

    Furthermore, I believe morals fail immediately once we take them to the extreme.Hermeticus

    Again, you're flip-flopping between oughts and ises. Because you're stuck in the ises, the oughts appear extreme.

    This is good and evil:
    Good, someone who I can trust. Bad, someone who is a threat to me.

    Everything else, the varied aspects of morals and ethics simply evolved from there.
    Hermeticus

    This doesn't make sense. God is a threat to the devil. So, is God bad? A gang of thieves can trust each other, are they good?
  • TheMadFool
    13.9k
    Have you even read the Daodejing? What "opposites"? The yin-yang are complementaries entwined with each and not separate, discrete, "opposites". Imbalance is the diagnosis – rigidly fixating on one complementary and neglecting the other; seeking balance (via effortless (fluid, flowing) activity) is the treatment.

    When imbalance is absent balance is present. When balance is absence, imbalance is present.

    (Imbalance : illness :: balance : good health & diet :: seeking balance : medicine.)

    Still not clear? Read Laozi, Fool. :sweat:
    180 Proof

    :ok:
  • Hermeticus
    181
    That is an extrinsic benefit.180 Proof
    Care to explain how survival is an extrinsic benefit?

    Surviving =/= thriving (i.e. surviving is necessary but not sufficient for thriving). To thrive – self-cultivate – is an intrinsic benefit.180 Proof
    Still means that extrinsic benefits have been adopted for intrinsic purposes (thriving rather than surviving in this case).

    Helping a dying person die doesn't raise your standing with the dead.180 Proof
    Very good point. But in regards to myself: The reason I'd help a dying person die is because I think it's "the right thing to do". I think it's the right thing to do because if I ever were in the same situation, I'd hope someone would help me die in the same way.

    To be clear with my point here: I don't really think there is any good behaviour that is good just for the sake of being good. I may act as a saint throughout my life and never expect anything in return. Why? To make the world a better place? Why do that? Because >I< want to live in a better world.

    Even the Buddhists who have this sort of expectation to be selfless do this - but they do this in a brilliant way. Instead of assuming that >I< am the self, everything is the self. So if one is to truly adopt this idea, their inherent selfishness is still caring for the entirety of the world.



    So, I could then define your joy and suffering away?TheMadFool
    No, you can not define my joy and suffering away because my joy and suffering depend on my definition.
    You can however, define your own joy and suffering away.

    Remember, morality is about oughts and not ises, the latter is a cause of much dissatisfaction (dukkha).TheMadFool
    You've got it the wrong way around, Fool! There is no dukkha in what is. Dukkha arises from desire and expectation - the oughts.

    Again, you're flip-flopping between oughts and ises. Because you're stuck in the ises, the oughts appear extreme.TheMadFool
    We're all stuck in the ises. Ises is what is. Oughts is dreamland. It doesn't exist. Ises is what is important. If I can't run an ought through any given scenario, what's the point of having an ought?

    This doesn't make sense. God is a threat to the devil. So, is God bad? A gang of thieves can trust each other, are they good?TheMadFool
    You're just demonstrating the subjectivity of good and evil. Of course the devil thinks God is evil and of course the thieves think that their mates are good.
  • TheMadFool
    13.9k
    No, you can not define my joy and suffering away because my joy and suffering depend on my definition.
    You can however, define your own joy and suffering away.
    Hermeticus

    So, I define my joy as the feeling that I get when someone punches me in the face, that punch on the face will magically transform in terms of the accompanying sensation into something else? Remember, snow doesn't change color if I decide to describe it as black.

    You've got it the wrong way around, Fool! There is no dukkha in what is. Dukkha arises from desire and expectation - the oughts.Hermeticus

    So, a person who's being tortured severely is unhappy because he can conceive of a world in which he isn't tortured? :chin:

    We're all stuck in the ises. Ises is what is. Oughts is dreamland. It doesn't exist. Ises is what is important. If I can't run an ought through any given scenario, what's the point of having an ought?Hermeticus

    Some of us aren't. The world has changed all because of the oughts our ancestors and contemporaries have thought up in their minds.

    You're just demonstrating the subjectivity of good and evil. Of course the devil thinks God is evil and of course the thieves think that their mates are good.Hermeticus

    But, are they? if your claims are not objective then why are you trying to convince me of your views.

    That's it! Our discussion is over. Thank you and good luck..
  • Hermeticus
    181
    So, I define my joy as the feeling that I get when someone punches me in the face, that punch on the face will magically transform in terms of the accompanying sensation into something else?TheMadFool
    Precisely. Masochists do exactly that, associating pleasure with pain.

    So, a person who's being tortured severely is unhappy because he can conceive of a world in which he isn't tortured?TheMadFool
    Yes. More accurately, the person is unhappy because they knew happiness before. You've actually inquired about this just earlier.

    The yin-yang are complementaries entwined with each and not separate, discrete, "opposites".180 Proof

    This is (non)duality. This is yin-yang. Without knowing suffering, I can not know happiness. Without knowing happiness, I can not know suffering. Nothing has any meaning on it's own. Everything needs a complementary to put it into context.

    Some of us aren't.TheMadFool
    I don't understand how anyone wouldn't be "in the is". "Ises" as you say, that what is, is simply reality - or do I misunderstand something about the words you use?

    But, are they? if your claims are not objective then why are you trying to convince me of your views.TheMadFool
    I'm not saying my claim is not objective. I'm saying objectively, good and evil are subjective.
  • Athena
    2.2k
    There is not a big difference between human and animal moral behavior. Our wiring for that is the same as for all social animals. The only thing that sets us apart from the animals is language and the ability to label our behavior and therefore think about it. Desmond Morris was a zoologist and wrote several books explaining animal and human behavior as the same. His best-known book may be "The Naked Ape". Later Michael Shermer wrote "The Science of Good & Evil".
  • Athena
    2.2k
    This doesn't make sense. God is a threat to the devil. So, is God bad? A gang of thieves can trust each other, are they good?TheMadFool

    Yes, loyalty to our group is good. Socrates would have us expand our consciousness so our group includes others and the Athenian Oath was loyalty and duty to all Athenians. Even Hebrews had group loyalty and those outside their group were not treated the same. Just about everyone had slaves with the rule that those outside the group could be made slaves, but not those inside the group.

    Religion tended to make one's group much larger than we would naturally understand our group. Now that does separate us from animals, who can not imagine such large groups. Because we do think of ourselves as members of very large groups, we do have some problems. Do I have to feed a homeless person who most certainly is not in my social group?
  • TheMadFool
    13.9k
    Precisely. Masochists do exactly that, associating pleasure with pain.Hermeticus

    In sadomasochism, the experience of pleasure/pain, no matter how weird, doesn't change because you changed the meaning of a word. It should if we could define away the experience. For instance, if I redefine the word "pain" as the feeling you get when you're not being whipped, it doesn't now make the masochist feel pain when he's not being whipped.

    Yes. More accurately, the person is unhappy because they knew happiness before. You've actually inquired about this just earlier.Hermeticus

    Dukkha arises from desire and expectation - the oughts.Hermeticus

    So, how is that this happiness before (an is) make a person who's being tortured unhappy? Fae wishes fae ought to be in that previous state of happiness. No?

    I don't understand how anyone wouldn't be "in the is". "Ises" as you say, that what is, is simply reality - or do I misunderstand something about the words you use?Hermeticus

    Some of us aren't stuck in the ises - they've managed to actualize some oughts to their great satisfaction I might add.

    I'm not saying my claim is not objective. I'm saying objectively, good and evil are subjective.Hermeticus

    If good and evil are subjective, how can you be objective about them? :chin:
  • TheMadFool
    13.9k
    Yes, loyalty to our group is good.Athena

    So, a group of genocidal maniacs who are loyal to each other are good? Why the hell then are they put on trial and sometimes sent to the gallows?

    Something's off. You need to rethink your idea of good & bad. Looks like it might get really interesting very fast.
  • TheMadFool
    13.9k
    Clarification

    Some here are of the view that good and bad (morality) is an issue of definition. This, in my opinion, implies that if I were to swap the meanings of the words "good" and "evil", stealing, raping, and murdering, other acts presently considered evil would become good. However, someone who claims this is merely equivocating: First, let's take murder as the type specimen, such a person claims murder is good (meaning has changed) and second, this same person asserts that murder is good in the original sense of the word "good" (meaning hasn't changed)
  • 180 Proof
    9.8k
    Care to explain how survival is an extrinsic benefit?Hermeticus
    The beneficial conditions or requirements of survival are external to the survivor.

    Still means that extrinsic benefits have been adopted for intrinsic purposes (thriving rather than surviving in this case).
    Okay. "Purposes", however, are not synonymous with "benefits".

    I don't really think there is any good behaviour that is good just for the sake of being good.
    Agreed. One is altruistic in order to fulfill one's immediate (conditioned) sympathic responses (needs) and not in exchange for something the patient can do in return. In the main, for example, nurturing children and caring for debilitated elders, feeding the hungry and donating blood or organs, etc, are not 'acts of reciprocity'.
  • Athena
    2.2k
    So, a group of genocidal maniacs who are loyal to each other are good? Why the hell then are they put on trial and sometimes sent to the gallows?

    Something's off. You need to rethink your idea of good & bad. Looks like it might get really interesting very fast.
    TheMadFool

    Not stealing because it could lead to going to jail, is not a very high standard of morality. There are many legal ways to take advantage of people. And calling a band of thieves genocidal maniacs is a bit hyperbolic don't you think?
  • Nickolasgaspar
    724
    This fallacious question (poisoning the well fallacy) is a great example on why we should never attempt to do Philosophy by skipping science (the second fundamental step of the philosophical method).
    The answer is that all social animals display moral judgments and inform their actions in their groups.
  • Nickolasgaspar
    724
    Whether "murder" is a moral or an immoral act(good or bad if you prefer it depends on the consequences in a group. Our societies have left behind absolute evaluations since they do not serve the goal of morality.
    To be clear calling the act of "killing an other human" murder is cheating.
    Its better to take a generic act (killing other humans)and apply the legal term after we have found his act to be immoral.
    Not all killings are immoral.
  • TheMadFool
    13.9k
    Not stealing because it could lead to going to jail, is not a very high standard of morality. There are many legal ways to take advantage of people. And calling a band of thieves genocidal maniacs is a bit hyperbolic don't you think?Athena

    You're evading the question. You said, all that matters to goodness is loyalty and hence my question about a band of genocidal maniacs people who are loyal, let's even say deeply loyal to each other and whether they qualify to be counted among the ranks of, say, the Buddha or Jesus?
  • Nickolasgaspar
    724
    It always amazes me why people confuse good and bad with a moral or immoral act!
    Its possible that a bad act might be the moral thing to do for your society.
  • Athena
    2.2k
    You're evading the question. You said, all that matters to goodness is loyalty and hence my question about a band of genocidal maniacs people who are loyal, let's even say deeply loyal to each other and whether they qualify to be counted among the ranks of, say, the Buddha or Jesus?TheMadFool

    I am quite sure I did not say "all that matters to goodness is loyalty". Because I did not list all the things that are important to goodness, it is understandable how you could interpret what I said to mean that. I said what I said to open the discussion. I think your mention of Buddha and Jesus opens it further. I do not believe any other species contemplates those men and what they said.

    The question is if we need morals and ethics and animals do not? All social animals depend on each other for survival so they need a mechanism for getting along. They just don't label things and talk about them. As far as we know they do not imagine another reality and talk about people who talk about a different reality. Would I be a better person if I believed life on earth is only an illusion and there is a better life waiting for me if I qualify?

    I am not sure what you think is good about Jesus or Buddha? The story of Buddha is he darn near starved to death because he was caught up in a movement of self-torture and deprivation. A nutty idea. Not any better than being a hermit monk. Give me a scientist or a teacher with practical knowledge. I am questioning the value of morality that may have nothing to do with our survival. On the other hand, understanding morals as a matter of cause and effect can lead to good government and the advancement of human potential.
  • TheMadFool
    13.9k
    This is good and evil:
    Good, someone who I can trust
    — Hermeticus

    Yes, loyalty to our group is good.Athena

    I am quite sure I did not say "all that matters to goodness is loyalty"Athena

    :chin:
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.9k
    But is it inevitable that humans with a complex language would always have constructed such formality? [ I.e., moral and ethical systems, I guess. ] Why when animals are able to form order and organisation without this does the human stand alone.David S

    I take it "is it inevitable" here means something like "Do we really have to? Couldn't we just not do this and be fine?" Which suggests human fretting over morals is a sort of mistake. Maybe we could just stop or maybe it's a mistake we can't help but make, because we are cursed with self-awareness. (Or cursed with some other property other animals lack -- there've been a lot of candidates for that over the years, usually something to do with thinking too much. Other animals live in a state we have in some sense fallen from, that sort of thing. "I think I could turn and live with animals ...")

    On the other hand, your question could point in what amounts to the other direction. Other animals manage to have social organization without all this ethics business, but evidently we cannot, we need it -- which suggests humanity is kindof awful but making up for it with lots of thinking and talking. And that view too has been pretty common, although usually without the claim that other animals are just fine. (Usually the pitch would be that all animals are awful -- we're not special in that respect -- but we lucky devils have thinking and talking to make up for that. Or, if not awful, then certainly "amoral" -- seems to be a common view -- they're living their lives infra-morally, as children are infra-linguistic.)

    There is another option, namely that we are simians through and through, but we also talk and wear clothes and build cities, all stuff we happen to do in addition to behaving like textbook simians.

    My question then, is this: what exactly needs explaining?
  • David S
    39
    Yep. I want your opinion on something that's bothering me for as long as I can remember. The Taoist harmony principle between opposites (hot-cold, good-bad, and so on), to my reckoning, implies the existence and, shockingly, the necessity for disharmony (the counterbalancing force of harmony). This, as far as I can tell, means there should be discord/strife/struggle/chaos in the universe. If so, what's the point at all of seeking balance/equilibrium?TheMadFool

    I missed this response from the original but had not been visiting the forum. I consider myself a Taoist. Taoism isn’t implying a necessity for imbalance but that there exists a duality, the Yin and Yang and also interestingly suggests that there is no absolute of one over the other so each has the seed or the potential of the other. The I Ching book of changes describes the 64 Hexagrams composed of the combinations of the 8 trigrams. Each trigram has a meaning related to it’s construction and assignment to basic assignments. Each hexagram has changing lines Yang to Yin or vice Versa. There is the mention of the 10,000 things but this just a way of describing all things. What Taoist tries to explain is that nature naturally seeks a balance.

    There may be extremes but everything naturally finds a balance. This is true in general when we look at nature and animals. Humans however do not normally work with nature. Early civilised society probably did so e.g. Native American Indians but man has always worked to control and change nature, you can argue overall for the better but lately the debate with global warming and burning fossil fuels. It is not that there should be disharmony but it exits after all chaos (increasing entropy) exists. At first I found that counter intuitive as gravity you can argue increases order because from e.g gas you have stars form and planets but the overall entropy apparently is still higher as there is ‘information’ lost in this ‘apparent order’.

    This is an aside but it is true in general nature will achieve balance. An eco system if left undisturbed balances itself predators and prey for example. Mankind has always had an impact on natural order. In pre history this did not have an impact but arguably since the industrial revolution it has. I strayed a bit but the message of Taoism is to try and follow the Tao which means letting the natural flow of things happen and balance and recognise extremes of Yang or yin and let them balance each other, after hard work Yang, rest yin.

    On topic - if you follow the Tao you don’t need morals. Acting in accordance with the Tao (with nature).
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    In my humble opinion, animals, you can say, are moral/ethical beings. The objective is to find out why?

    A tidbit to chew on while you're at it: Animal Trial
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