• Benkei
    5.9k
    @180 Proof This was a brainfart under the shower today. And since I've seen you regularly post on Artistotlean eudaimonia I guess this starts as a direct question to you.

    Is there a sensible way to extend the application of eudaimonia to the environment and future generations? And I mean not in a way that a healthy and nice environment increases my own eudaimonia but that I have a duty to have the environment flourish, like a caretaker?

    Some thoughts that were linked to it is how in a sense profit there are two types of profit, freely obtained and obtained through extraction. If I use wood materials from a forest but don't use more than the forest can regenerate, I increase wealth (goods) without diminishing the forest. This is freely obtained. If I deplete the forest because I use too much, I'm diminishing the forest. This is then wealth extraction and we are not creating wealth but just changing its form and expending energy to do so - e.g. in essence always inefficient.

    Similarly, after paying a fair wage, which allows the labourer to flourish and take care of his family, I can still make a profit selling a product is then freely obtained profit, if I pay him too little, it is extraction again - his family has less where someone else bought more goods. Again, we're not creating wealth just moving it from one place to another and inefficiently expending energy on it. (On a side note, I think the only way to calculate a fair wage is through profit sharing).

    Given the above, the only way to truly increase wealth is only using what the regenerative abilities of environments offer us or by supporting those renegerative abilities by becoming a caretaker, thereby increasing the amount of resources we could use, without diminishing the environment.

    From that approach, economic activity should be aimed at maintaining or increasing the regenerative capabilities of our environments, making nature flourish, in order to reach actual material growth.

    A bit of a ramble but was wondering whether this makes sense to someone else.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    Fab! An intriguing business model - base your company on nature's surplus (there surely are/were more trees than necessary for a healthy ecosystem; the same for other living resources).

    Eudaimonia (live well) is then nothing but building a life around the excess in nature - instead of harming then you benefit (aurea mediocritas). A win-win situation if you ask me. The current approach is basically barbarism - pillaging/looting/plundering and isn't sustainable beyond a certain point.

    By the way I feel this was exactly what was happening up until the mid-1990s. From then on the biota has been in continuous decline with some confirmed extinctions.
  • 180 Proof
    9.8k
    Interesting. :chin:
  • unenlightened
    7k
    I immediately thought of this:

    This song was originally written by Leon Rosselson in response to the Aberfan Disaster of 1966 in which a coalmine’s spoilheap collapsed on to a school in Aberfan, Wales, killing 116 children and 28 adults. The National Coal Board was found to have behaved negligently.
    https://genius.com/Martin-carthy-palaces-of-gold-lyrics

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lwkg2QUo9AU

    That was 1966. And this is 55 years later:
    The data, based on exhaustive surveys, showed the regional spread of legacy coal tips and graded them according to the risk they present to the public from landslides, with nearly 300 of 2,456 categorised as being at “high risk”.
    https://www.ft.com/content/94a08a9e-8579-4586-8940-ccd86df28ea7

    All due respect etc, but I don't feel another new philosophical, moral or economic theory is required, so much as the implementation of the very basics of common decency.
  • I like sushi
    3.9k
    From that approach, economic activity should be aimed at maintaining or increasing the regenerative capabilities of our environments, making nature flourish, in order to reach actual material growth.Benkei

    Yes. The key terms here being ‘aimed at’ rather than immediately implemented at all costs.

    The issue is people have to get out of severe poverty prior to such a ‘caretaker’ role becomes non-detrimental. Meaning using resources passed the point where the environment ‘looses out’ in the short term is likely necessary in order to get people out of poverty - ie. Cheaper energy to allow people to flourish more easily.

    It is clearly a double-edged sword though! The environment can, and does recover. The worry is more or less how much damage it can sustain alongside how much damage those in poverty will inflict upon their immediate environment simply to survive another day.

    As for eudaimonia my understanding is that it builds upon Socrates “an unexplored life is not worth living” … that is a Philosophical life is really what is meant by ‘eudaimonia. Not merely some ‘pursuit of happiness’ nor some ‘end goal’. The beauty (or kalos) of life is in the struggle rather than in the discovery. This reminds me of how one of our resident antinatalists spoke as if having to ‘work’ and ‘suffer’ were somehow abhorrent. The kalos of life for me is precisely in that that many wish to avoid, and in many cases they have good reason to be fearful of ‘suffering’ for nothing because they will suffer for nothing if they expect some reward or gift. The ‘work’/suffering is where the focus of our attention should probably lie.

    Anyway, that is my ramble :D
  • Fooloso4
    3.7k


    Xenophon, a contemporary of Plato and student of Socrates, wrote a Socratic dialogue called "Oeconomicus", on household management.
  • Benkei
    5.9k
    The problem as I see it, is that common decency is not measurable and very few people are inclined to act upon it as they're generally too busy surviving.

    And "decency" apparently nowadays involves considering sacrificing butterfly races because farmers have been farming for generations and it's a "family business" and it would be so-so sad for them to quit. Except of course nobody is asking them to quit, they're demanding to farm in such a way that it doesn't destroy our biosphere.

    People have their ethics backwards because economic activity has become an "interest" to be weighed against other interests. So we're willing to do something about the climate crisis as long as it's not too much of a sacrifice.

    I guess by attempting to distinguish between real profit and a shift of wealth and embedding ethical decision making in economic decision making, I'm trying to change the dynamic from a weighing of interest into changing the goal of economic activity in the first place. If profit only exists in terms of increasing resources, instead of diminishing them then a lot of economic activity becomes unviable. Simply tax every non-profitable at 100% as an immoral theft from the environment.
  • coolazice
    54
    The concept you are looking for is less likely to be a Greek word and more likely to be something derived from the many indigenous groups across the world who practice custodianship of the land. It's a key aspect of the traditional culture of many groups here in Australia...
  • L'éléphant
    851
    From that approach, economic activity should be aimed at maintaining or increasing the regenerative capabilities of our environments, making nature flourish, in order to reach actual material growth.Benkei
    Good insight. I'm with you.

    If profit only exists in terms of increasing resources, instead of diminishing them then a lot of economic activity becomes unviable.Benkei
    Fossil fuel, as an example.
  • I like sushi
    3.9k
    A problem I have heard from farmers is people buying up land cheap making it impossible for farmers to start up a business. This also effects the environment as the land can sit there without being maintained, farmers are forced into a corner where they have to specialise (further effecting soil quality and pest control).

    I think a lot could be done in terms of allowing people to buy up land in order to start farming and restrictions in place that force crop rotation rather than relying so heavily on fertilisers and such.

    Of course this is just one area of the economy. In other areas of industry there does seem to be a common pattern of monopolies currently squeezing out the little fellows.

    In this case the efficiency of ‘specialising’ can actually harm the environment even though the yield is better overall. Sometimes producing less is actually more. This is going to be hard to alter without new laws though.
  • Benkei
    5.9k
    Thank you. Custodianship is indeed what I mean. Too bad Europeans killed most of those indigenous people. Are you aware of any decent books describing their ethics?
  • god must be atheist
    4.7k
    Is there a sensible way to extend the application of eudaimonia to the environment and future generations? And I mean not in a way that a healthy and nice environment increases my own eudaimonia but that I have a duty to have the environment flourish, like a caretaker?Benkei

    I liked your opening post, Benkei. Immediately I thought this:

    We, humans, and all energy-consuming things have lived off sunlight-energy since day one -- since the first photosynthetic being was formed.

    Just very recently in history have we started to use other sources of energy to power our biological and mechanical engines. We, as humans, discovered the energy in nuclear fission. But prior to that, it has all been based on solar light energy.

    The solar light energy reaching the Earth is more-or-less constant; if we chop down more trees than can regenerate, we can either try to plant trees, and if that does not work, then we must find other ways to harness the energy of solar light, such as with solar electric generators.

    Because the problem is that quite a few very large areas on Earth get sunshine but they don't convert it into useful energy. I am talking about areas with no photosynthetic activity, i.e. where there are no green plants.

    It does not take any genius, but a few calculations to find out what is the maximum energy reaching the Earth in a given period and which we can harness, and if we use more energy than that in the same period, then we are doomed. Unless, of course, we supplement the amount with fission energy.
  • Benkei
    5.9k
    Have you read it? First few pages start off really weird.
  • Fooloso4
    3.7k


    Yes, many years ago.

    If you are reading from perseus.tufts.edu it is corrupted. After the first page it switched to his Apology.

    The difficulty of reading Xenophon lies in its simplicity. He was a favorite of Machiavelli.
  • god must be atheist
    4.7k
    Are you aware of any decent books describing their ethics?Benkei

    I think the Maya ethics consisted of waging war until both parties bled to death. The Aztec ethics involved people being murdered ceremoniously to assure the crop will be okay. I don't know much about the Inka ethical code.

    Think of it, it looks like I don't know much about aboriginal ethics, but just skeletal remnants of hearsay I picked up here and there.

    I remember some instances, like the Maya ethics of custodianship involved tying warriors of both the home team of the winning army and men of the opposing army into a huge ball and then rolling them down the jagged, stair-type long slope on the temple of the gods.

    I also remember the custodianship of the North American Indigenous First Nations who constantly warred against each other for lebensraum, and fiercely exploited the natural resources around them for food, water, clothing. Before White man arrived.

    ------------------------

    Between you and me, Benkei, this custodianship myth has only developed since the European imperialism, and the hapless natives had been praised ever since for their brave fight to save the Green Earth-- whereas they just did not have the technical resources to exploit the natural resources.

    I believe, and burn me on the stake if you like, that greed, good heart, ability and wish to advance on the social scale, to marry good looking people, to hate minorities, to have empathy for the downtrodden singly and in groups, the wish to help the broken-hearted, to kill your enemies, the blood thirst, the vengeance, the happiness over a newborn baby, the sailing and discoveries of new lands, all are included in human nature, regardless of race, nationality, colour of skin etc.

    So to say that the natives have more propensity to be standing up to save nature and be custodians, is a myth. I am not denying that they are. But not any more so than Europeans, Africans, Asians or penguins of Antarctica.
  • L'éléphant
    851
    Are you aware of any decent books describing their ethics?Benkei
    Wrong question. Ethics is the examination of principles that govern the moral behavior of an individual. There's no individuality in tribal relations.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    Too bad Europeans killed most of those indigenous people.Benkei

    This used to hurt me, but then I realized the natives were killing each other anyway. Now that isn't too bad, it's worse!
  • 180 Proof
    9.8k
    Sustainability (e.g.circular economics), not eudaimonia (aretḗ); the latter is the intrinsic benefit of a person living ethically and the former is the extrinsic benefit of a community living ecologically.
  • god must be atheist
    4.7k
    Ethics is the examination of principles that govern the moral behavior of an individual.L'éléphant

    So why can't books be written on this? That's A. B. is that ethics has no formal definition. It can mean morals. (Many subscribe to that.) It can mean social, individual, group morals. The author is supposed to identify how he or she uses that word.

    What you say is also true: it can mean what you said it means. But that does not exclude "ethics" meaning all kinds of other things. (As above.)

    It's one of those irksome things in the English language.
  • god must be atheist
    4.7k
    The difficulty of reading Xenophon lies in its simplicity.Fooloso4

    Without pretending to offer any true criticism, I think this sounds a bit quantum-mechanic-ish. The simpler the writing is, the more difficult it is to understand it. The more convoluted or complex a writing is, the easier it is to understand it. The shorter the writing, the longer it takes to read, and the longer the writing, the shorter it takes to read. The more original concepts included, the less insightful it becomes, and the fewer original concepts in it, the more insightful it is.
  • god must be atheist
    4.7k
    Too bad Europeans killed most of those indigenous people.Benkei

    Yes, the natives normally welcomed the European conquerors and conquistadors, until the Euros started to eat their food they stored for the winter months, rape their women and dismantle their homes to take the parts made of precious metals with them.

    Habitable land in human history and before has always been at a premium. Even animals like lions and bears and wolves fight with each other for territory. Heck, even household cats will. The fight continues as long as there are times when the territory can't support all individuals occupying it.
  • Benkei
    5.9k
    Living ecologically is unfortunately considered optional and something to be weighed against economic interests. I don't know. I feel rather strongly that we need to move away from an expression of profit solely in terms of money. A labour theory of value is already a step up but that still misses the point. If it doesn't improve the world we're living in, why should we be bothering?

    We've had racists point out that there never were "real" civilisations in Africa. The other view is these people were so far evolved in their natural niche and living in equilibrium with nature they had no need to learn how to do bullshit jobs just to survive. In that view modern civilisation is a devolvement away from what we could be. But then I'm sure that view is again tainted by ideas of noble savages.

    I've got kids man. It's like everybody is just focused on making marshmallows above a fire, while forgetting their house is burning.
  • Fooloso4
    3.7k
    The simpler the writing is, the more difficult it is to understand it.god must be atheist

    What is true in the case of Xenophon is not true in general. His writing is deceptively simple. There is much more there than meets the eye.
  • Fooloso4
    3.7k
    I feel rather strongly that we need to move away from an expression of profit solely in terms of money.Benkei

    This is one of the things Xenophon talks about. What is of profit is not the money or the possessions, but their right use.

    If it doesn't improve the world we're living in, why should we be bothering?Benkei

    Another of Xenophon's themes. He discusses it in terms of the estate. Those who deplete it, those who maintain it, and those who increase it. There is a turn from the estate being beneficial to the manager to the manager being beneficial to the estate.
  • god must be atheist
    4.7k
    What is true in the case of Xenophon is not true in general. His writing is deceptively simple. There is much more there than meets the eye.Fooloso4

    So it's tricky reading in a simple form. I get it now. It is not REALLY simple...only the form. Right on.
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