• Moliere
    2.4k


    A good scene for reflecting upon truth and Truth -- the kind of Truth Paul seeks in this scene has nothing to do with truth, in the small sense.

    An ubermensch, or a slave? Hard to say.
  • Joshs
    4k
    Simply put, I read Nietzsche or Peirce or Wittgenstein against the likes of Foucault, Lyotard, Derrida & Rorty whereby the latter, IME, flounder in 'discursive relativisms' (i.e. sophistries) from deliberately mis-reading the various conceptual-pragmatic doubts raised by the former.180 Proof

    I think Putnam stands as a transitional figure between
    the realisms espouses by analytic philosophy up through Davidson and Quine and a full-fledged relativism. He has one foot in the postmodern world but didnt dare cross the threshold. I think Putnam’s conceptual relativism quantifies as a ‘discursive relativism’. He was only a realist when it came to empiricism and valuative criteria of rightness. I’m curious as to whether you, like Banno, side with Davidson against Putnam.
  • 180 Proof
    10.2k
    Understood. However, I think it's important for each of us to push through all of one's influences and sources to one's own (boring) thoughts, to thinking for oneself. As Freddy says:
    Now I go alone, my disciples. You, too, go now, alone.
    Thus I want it.
    Go away from me and resist Zarathustra! And even better: be ashamed of him! Perhaps he deceived you.
    The man of knowledge must not only love his enemies, he must also be able to hate his friends.
    One repays a teacher badly if one always remains nothing but a pupil.
    — Ecce Homo, Preface
     
    :fire:
  • Moliere
    2.4k
    Heh. But the problem we have here is that everyone wants to be the teacher! :D So I have to find another kind of way to talk through the problems -- else, incoherence, meaningless, nothing (or ego, back-and-forth, gridlock). We don't even have thoughts to share!

    We are all students, but of no one in particular.

    And as the anarchist in my would say: no gods, no masters -- including me.
  • 180 Proof
    10.2k
    I’m curious as to whether you, like Banno, side with Davidson against Putnam.Joshs
    IIRC, I favor Putnam over Davidson. (I'm not as conversant in either of their works as I once was in 1990s, so don't ask why.)
  • Moliere
    2.4k
    Honestly, this post is still relevant to the thread's topic...

    Ethics, at its core, is how we interact with others.

    There we are in agreement. And I may be tripping over words here so excuse me if that's the case: I feel that post-modernism has no normative ethic. And I think that's a *feature*, rather than a bug.

    Post-modern philosophy questions truth, in my analysis -- so I think we agree there.

    And I think I agree that truth is important for the left. Especially now -- truth, coherence, communication... these things are becoming more than threats. I often find myself feeling alienated, even in day to day life.

    I suppose, given all that, I wonder -- what's the use of moral realism? I am uncertain that a statement of my convictions is really any different from a statement of fact... but only because both are words spoken to some end.

    "Moral realism" is another philosopher's dream. A dream people who are not philosophers use to feel good about living in bad situations.

    So, to bring it back to post-modern ethics (at least as I have outlined it thus far) -- whilst we lose truth, we gain responsibility. We are the ones who are responsible for the world we live in, fascism and all.

    What post-modern philosophy does is refuse its readers the excuses we come across, in bad faith. It demands the reader accept their role.
  • Moliere
    2.4k
    Finally managed to bring it back around. Not sure if it's acceptable, but -- there it is. Some thoughts on post-modern philosophy and morality.
  • 180 Proof
    10.2k
    "Moral realism" is another philosopher's dream.Moliere
    Consider this variation on "moral realism" expressed in an old post:
    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/679623

    Explain how is the following not an instance of moral realism (i.e. ethical naturalism)
    What you find [harmful], do not do to anyone. — Hillel the Elder
    :chin:
  • Moliere
    2.4k
    Well... I mean, ethical naturalism already dithers the fact/value distinction. Right? That's why MacIntyre went back to Aristotle to demonstrate that ethics can be done without the distinction... at least, I'll admit here, this is purely memory.

    Casebeer is the person I sort of use as the best modern representative of ethical naturalism, but I'll admit that's probably outdated at this point. He had a real sense for what mattered though -- he used Quine's attack on synthetic/analytic as a means for undermining Moore's naturalistic fallacy/open-question argument and establishing that factual matters... well, matter.

    With the Hillel quote, it's a boring explanation -- since the quote is in the form of a demand, it does not fit the criteria for a fact. But you could reformulate the sentence to say something like:

    "What any person finds harmful, if that person does the harmful thing, then they are bad" or something like that.

    It relativizes morality to the individual, but it's at least in the form of a fact.

    But that relativity... well... for many it doesn't matter: for us, for example, I think we're mostly interested in this stuff because we'd like to be happy, and happy with others too.

    That relativity is seen as a threat is worth mentioning.

    ********


    More in the spirit of what I wrote on modern/post-modern, the natural facts about our desires aren't really bad things. After all, I immediately went to desire as a frame for talking with one another. I am pretty close to epicurus in my way of looking at the world, in terms of ethics. However, post-modern ethics only ask you realize that your desire is yours -- there is no good, even of a natural kind, there is simply you and me and everyone who has these feelings to navigate. And, on top of that, there is no me per se -- there is, but I'm connected to others. So the others I'm connected to matter, in spite of our phenomenal disconnection.
  • Joshs
    4k


    I like Woody Allen’s take on reality:

    “Can we actually 'know' the universe? My God, it's hard enough finding your way around in Chinatown. The point, however, is: Is there anything out there? And why? And must they be so noisy? Finally, there can be no doubt that the one characteristic of 'reality' is that it lacks essence. That is not to say it has no essence, but merely lacks it. (The reality I speak of here is the same one Hobbes described, but a little smaller.)”
  • 180 Proof
    10.2k
    ... ethical naturalism already dithers the fact/value distinction. Right?Moliere
    I don't know what you mean. What "fact/value distinction"? There aren't any value-free facts for a naturalist (of my persuasion). For instance, suffering (e.g. harm, deprivation, bereavement, etc) is a functionally disvalued fact, no?

    As for Hillel's maxim: "what you find hateful" – whatever is harmful to your kind – "do not do to anyone" – your kind. It's not a "command", it's a normative observation.
  • Moliere
    2.4k
    I don't know what you mean. What "fact/value distinction"? There aren't any value-free facts for a naturalist (of my persuasion).180 Proof

    This is what I mean -- dithering the distinction between fact and value means there aren't value-free facts. Where Hume states the logic between the copula and "ought" creates a non sequiter, the ethical naturalist will say it creates a condition of satisfaction, or something like that -- a natural, ethical fact.

    For instance, suffering (e.g. harm, deprivation, bereavement, etc) is a functionally disvalued fact, no?

    Yes, I agree.

    As for Hillel's maxim: "what you find hateful" – whatever is harmful to your kind – "do not do to anyone" – your kind. It's not a "command", it's a normative observation.180 Proof

    I just mean the form of the sentence -- it's in the form of an imperative, rather than in the form of a statement.

    "If you and yours functionally avoid harm, then you ought to avoid harm"

    So the first part of this conditional is a statement, and the second part is also a statement that switches out "is" for "ought" - what Hume calls into question. One response to Hume is to point out that this is exactly how one would "derive" an ought from an is within our logic, and point out that a conditional is in the form of a statement -- that is, it's functionally truth-apt, regardless of how we might feel about "ought" being spooky.

    And, as you note, there is certainly regularity in nature -- a regularity that, as long as we're not obsessed with universality, is still pretty dang regular: human beings, on the whole, seem to want remarkably similar things when we consider the formal possibility within existential ethics, whereby master can smash the old table of values and posit new ones in their place.

    ***

    It sounds funny to our ears which have been trained on Christian ethics, but I'd say one thing in favor of Epicurus' ethics is that it's actually hard to be happy. It takes effort. We have an irrational aspect to ourselves which allows us to attack our natural desires, or create desires which run away with themselves.

    As scientists these divergences are as important as the convergences: there's nothing ethical or good about any one path except insofar that a path helps that person become happier.

    But if that's the case, then we're back at the problem Hume pointed out: just because there are many humans who are happy by being married, with children -- not all humans want to be married, with children. It may be the case that Man, as posited by modernity, is the master of his destiny, but should he be?


    Basically Moore's open question argument still punches, for me, in spite of all the attempts at making a natural ethics.
  • Moliere
    2.4k
    “Can we actually 'know' the universe? My God, it's hard enough finding your way around in Chinatown. The point, however, is: Is there anything out there? And why? And must they be so noisy? Finally, there can be no doubt that the one characteristic of 'reality' is that it lacks essence. That is not to say it has no essence, but merely lacks it. (The reality I speak of here is the same one Hobbes described, but a little smaller.)”Joshs

    What is this from? I want to know more! :D
  • 180 Proof
    10.2k
    We're talking past each other. I don't understand your replies to what I've written.
  • Moliere
    2.4k


    It wouldn't be the first time on this forum, or for myself. :)

    I'll give a direct response instead.

    I don't know what you mean. What "fact/value distinction"? There aren't any value-free facts for a naturalist (of my persuasion). For instance, suffering (e.g. harm, deprivation, bereavement, etc) is a functionally disvalued fact, no?180 Proof

    It is.
  • 180 Proof
    10.2k
    So the "distinction" simply abstract and not existential or practiced, thus irrelevant to ethics (i.e. ethical naturalism).
  • Moliere
    2.4k


    I think it shows itself to be relevant, but I'm fine with dropping it for now.

    Explain how is the following not an instance of moral realism (i.e. ethical naturalism)
    What you find [harmful], do not do to anyone.
    — Hillel the Elder
    180 Proof

    I'm fine with this counting as moral realism and ethical naturalism. My charge is that moral realism nor ethical naturalism are ultimately helpful in making decisions -- Moore's open question argument still works, even dropping fact/value.
  • 180 Proof
    10.2k
    Moore's open question argument still workMoliere
    After agreeing with my – conceding my point about – ethical naturalism, why do you still think so?
  • Moliere
    2.4k


    Let's take the tetrapharmakos:

    The Gods do not care about your life (so do not try and appease them with your actions)
    There is no afterlife (so live the life you have, and not for a life hereafter)
    What is good is easy to get (all you need are the basics to be happy)
    What is painful is easy to endure (so you need not worry about the diseases you might experience later)

    A simple enough set of beliefs meant to target what Epicurus saw as sources of anxiety in people's lives.

    But one that only makes sense if you want to be happy, first and foremost. You have to care about living a tranquil and happy life in order for it to matter at all.

    And it may sound strange, but not everyone seems to care about that. The choice remains, and people frequently choose unhappiness over happiness. I think Epicurus points out some of the ways in which we can hedge that choice off -- and, if we're dedicated Epicureans, the cure is more important than what some other person wants or wills.

    But surely you see how people make choices other than an Epicurean life. Seems to me the diversity of choices, of ethics, makes the question make sense: you can say this will bring you happiness, but is that happiness good?

    Sometimes, yes. Actually, almost always yes, given my perspective.

    But one can be lulled by sweets and feel good while living badly, I think. What else to make of a person who owns people and lives blissfully, for instance?
  • 180 Proof
    10.2k
    I don't follow you.
  • Gregory
    4.4k
    I like Woody Allen’s take on reality:

    “Can we actually 'know' the universe? My God, it's hard enough finding your way around in Chinatown. The point, however, is: Is there anything out there? And why? And must they be so noisy? Finally, there can be no doubt that the one characteristic of 'reality' is that it lacks essence. That is not to say it has no essence, but merely lacks it. (The reality I speak of here is the same one Hobbes described, but a little smaller.)”
    Joshs

    Referring to Schelling, "On his account, we have to think of reality as an original unity (ursprüngliche Einheit) or a primordial totality (uranfängliche Ganzheit) of opposites that is internally differentiated in such a way that every particular item within reality can be seen as a partial, incomplete, or one-sided expression, manifestation, or interpretation of the most basic dynamic opposition characteristic of the whole of reality."

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/idealism/#GermIdea

    This sounds like post modernism except that there is a center of comprehension to the system. The world is so relative that it comes around full circle and is absolute. This is how it must be. As Aristotle and Aquinas said, an infinity must have a ground. They may have been wrong about a physical infinity, but in terms of knowledge and systems they are correct. Contingent facts alone will always be solely a relative interrelation of instability, just like the ouroboros, unless there is truth as the anchor
  • Moliere
    2.4k

    Oh, that's not your fault. I have more than a few threads I'm thinking through :D


    Let's take Jeff Bezos. The man seems to be doing well for himself. I doubt he feels anxiety. He very likely has more good days than bad. While he doesn't follow the model of Epicurean bliss, I doubt that he needs to. He's probably feeling quite dandy.

    But his life requires others to suffer, at least in our way of looking at the world: there's no free lunch, and the rich get rich on the backs of the poor.

    So he's an example of a man living in equanimity, who doesn't worry -- but because the social system is set up in a way where others must labor for him.

    That's hardly fair.

    But by a bio-ethics, Bezos is basically a good person. Specifically, Aristotle's bio-ethics would say he's not just a good person, but the pinnacle of ethics -- and that being good is reserved to those like Bezos who are among the elite. (or, at least, he serves as an example -- due to the nature of ethics, of course we could posit someone else or interpret Aristotle differently, but I'm trying to use a real person due to the concern you brought up about philosopher inventions)

    Moore's open question argument still punches because I can ask -- while Jeff Bezos is living a good life, is he good?

    Just that the question works is all that matters, from the meta-ethical point. But I can understand that such things are rarified in relation to how one lives their life.

    So, from my perspective -- and not because it is true -- I say Jeff Bezos shouldn't be allowed to exist in the first place, that his life is a bad life because it's not fair, even though he's living a naturally happy life (I doubt tranquility is his M.O., which is where the Epicurean would criticize him -- but the Peripatetic could very well say, yes, Bezos is the pinnacle of human goodness, and we are justified in so saying due to our biological nature)
  • 180 Proof
    10.2k
    Non sequitur. After all, drunks are "happy" while they are drunk. That's not a "good life". Bezos is not a Peripatetic paragon if only because he is not a stateman or involved in governance (à la zoon politikon). His "equanimity" is only apparent, just good PR for the benefit of Wall Street investors; we (the public) know nothing about his psychological or ethical state. IMO, Bezos is living neither an Epicurean nor an Aristotlean "good life".
  • Joshs
    4k
    His "equanimity" is only apparent, just good PR for the benefit of Wall Street investors; we (the public) know nothing about his psychological or ethical state. IMO, Bezos is living neither an Epicurean nor an Aristotlean "good life".180 Proof

    I agree with that. As far as we know, Bezos could be as much of a psychological mess as Steve Jobs or Elon Musk. It may come with the territory.
  • Moliere
    2.4k
    I mean, in terms of actual access to psychological states of the elite, then I'd have to say I'm pretty dry on that. You agree that the elite are what Aristotle considers good, though, yes? Just of the political variety?
  • Moliere
    2.4k
    If that were so, then It'd almost make the point for me -- that there are two naturalisms here, and even with natural ethical facts, the ethical choice remains. Almost, because @180 Proof doesn't see Bezos as Aristotelian, so we can drop him. I have to wait to hear more about what sort of examples would even count, given the suspicion for philosopher's inventions.
  • 180 Proof
    10.2k
    You agree that the elite are what Aristotle considers good, though, yes? Just of the political variety?Moliere
    Maybe as a class but not, by definition, as individual members of the elite. Bezos et al are "business elites" with corrupting influences on matters of state and not engaged in daily statecraft for the good of the polity – they are not 'virtuous persons' striving for eudaimonia. Doing well =/= doing good (pace A. Smith).
  • Moliere
    2.4k
    Sure, no problem.

    So, who counts?

    Aristotle and Alexander the Great?

    Anyone alive today?
  • Moliere
    2.4k
    Or, sans an example... it should be enough to say, here are two naturalisms: Aristotle and Epicurus. So it makes sense to ask: Which naturalism is good? If there is a choice in the matter, then the facts are important to our judgment, of course: but the question still makes sense in light of the judgment between naturalisms which posit different goods. Clearly both were motivated by the facts, but what counts as good wasn't the same.
  • Moliere
    2.4k
    Linking it back to Post-modern philosophy and ethics, Aristotle would serve a modernist, and Epicurus would serve as post-modernist because of their relationship to truth and knowledge. For Epicurus, while he certainly didn't deny truth, the value of truth is relative to what it can be used for -- or, to what extent it can be used to cure the soul of anxiety.
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