• Metaphysician Undercover
    12.4k
    What I meant was, for those who know, belief is no longer necessary, but that up until then, it has to be taken on faith.Wayfarer

    I think that's a good point. To learn requires faith in others, teachers, and all that surrounds you, in the capacity to educate you. Without that faith, knowledge is impossible. But when the desired knowledge is obtained, that faith is no longer necessary.

    But this only demonstrates how epistemology is on shaky ground, as knowledge rests on faith.
  • Tom Storm
    8.4k
    Churches have always been (and they still are) a place where people feel they belong to.javi2541997

    It might be better to put it: where some people feel they belong. There are probably just as many people (perhaps more?) who find churches cold, intimidating, unremittingly vulgar or simply unsafe on account of having been abused (or know people abused) by religious clerics and laypeople. Just saying. :wink:
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2k


    I am open to relativism, so this concern doesn't really bite for me.

    Some degree of relativism is one thing. Most thoughtful thinkers are relativists in some manner or another, e.g., Aquinas' "all knowledge is received in the manner of the receiver." However, it seems problematic to say that truth is completely relativized, even vis-á-vis introspection —that people cannot look back on past events and say "that was a bad decision," with any more validity than their thoughts at that given moment. It's not moral relativism that is at stake when practical reason is reduced to emotional claims, but a thoroughgoing relativism for all claims.

    This was the point of the reference to the drug addict. Not that "heroin is an objective bad," but rather that someone whose drug problem has ruined their life can claim, with good warrant, "it was not good for me to begin doing drugs."

    Showing that notions of truth are affected by language, social practice, etc. is of course different from showing that they are nothing but social practice, "all the way down." Unfortunately, positivism, a very short lived philosophical movement, has become a sort of ready made strawman such that pulling the rug out from underneath it is made to seem solid grounds for dismissing the concept of truth.

    My view would be that conceptions of truth are prephilosophical. They show up when your mechanic fails to have fixed your car, or when your child claims they didn't throw a rock you just saw them throw, etc. There are some very good studies on the phenomenology of truth, the basic aspects of experience from which the notion emerges. Good metaphysical explanations of truth then need to explain this, to explain this adequately, which is easier said than done.
  • javi2541997
    5k
    The meta-ethics will assuredly heal your "spirit," but you are (respectfully) unwittingly using "spirit" when you mean Mind..
    ENOAH
    The malaise you reference is a construct of the Mind.ENOAH

    It is another way to approach this issue. Honestly, I haven't thought about my mind once since I started expressing my anxiety in this thread. This is due to the fact that I consider the mind as a part of the problem. When I didn't act accordingly, I ended up with the conclusion that my mind was flawed because it didn't stop me. A big sense of free will which my mind provides drove me to a sense of guilt later on. For me, the mind, it is where rationality is allocated. What I learnt after some experiences was that the mind does not always act ethically. The spirit goes beyond this. Who is the part of my body which suffers from guilt or despair? I am talking about intangible states. Does rationality go to despair or 'sins'? I think not...


    The system works. It doesn't have to be religion. You feel bad. Fix it. Apologize and henceforth be honest.ENOAH

    You are referring to apologise, but I am referring to confess. I can say sorry for not acting accordingly, but will this act heal my spirit? As far as I understand this, confessing only heals the spirit because the latter is sacred, religious, etc. I mean, they are different concepts with different results. Don't you think?
  • javi2541997
    5k
    It might be better to put it where some people feel they belong. There are probably just as many people (perhaps more?) who find churches cold, intimidating, unremittingly vulgar or simply unsafe on account of having been abused (or know people abused) by religious clerics and laypeople. Just saying. :wink:Tom Storm

    You are right, Tom. It is true that churches can be intimidating for some. I will not lie and say every sacred temple is friendly. Here is another big difference between the groups inside Christianity. While Gothic churches are tenebrous, Lutheran churches are friendly, minimalist, transparent, etc. And they give a sense of peace. This is what I felt when I was in Denmark at least. :sweat:
  • Astrophel
    435
    Sorry Astrophel, annihilation? Would you accept, a rest, vacation, respite? I think I know what you mean, but meditation is a simultaneous turning away from "existence" and turn toward Reality, or True Being.ENOAH

    Here is a question: what is the self? There is the thick theory and the thin theory, as a philosopher might put it (discussing issues like euthanasia or abortion, say). Heidegger's is what you could call a thick theory, meaning a self is a social construct, a historical self, a cultural entity whose existence is the collective body of meanings that circulate through the institutions that fill our interests (obviously there is a lot more to it, but for now...). So a self is this constant going to the grocery store, getting married, gossiping about friends and movies, and on and on. Kierkegaard's great complaint was that even the church had yielded to this, reduced to the rituals, assuring sermons and the entire "finitude" of social possibilities related to this institution. I think when it comes to defining what a self is, this "thick" self is what we have available, I mean, ask who I am, and I will tell you what I do, where I work, that I am married with kids, and so forth. So serious meditation is a method of discovery and liberation FROM this mundane self. The more you turn off these sources of interest, the less they possess you.

    Of course, if the idea is simply to live a less stressful life, then fine. But this is not what Gautama Siddhartha had in mind so long ago. I have read the Abhidharma which I understand to be as close to the ancient thoughts as it goes, though I know nothing of Pali and the issues of transliteration that keep me from basic meanings, but anyway, I have read a lot of it, and it is a VERY radical doc.

    I think, like Abraham's temporary suspension of the ethical ( specifically the law against infanticide, broadly, "existence," our world) meditation as we are using it here, is a temporary reprieve from our world, which removes its obstructions and allows brief glimpses of Truth. But the world has become the inescapable* default setting for humans in human existence.

    *I think there might theoretically be a "meditative" process which might allow one to exist in a permanent state of Truth, hence "annihilating" existence; but, man, is that unlikely.

    Have I misunderstood? Intruded?
    ENOAH

    Misunderstood, intruded? Of course not. I only come online in the first place so I can hear what others have to say and see how well I can respond. As I see it, this is how we test, modify our thinking.

    Is it temporary? And I think Abraham's faith is abiding. Certainly he went back to tending sheep and goats, and thinking in casual and familiar ways, But you're right, he didn't just stand amazed for the rest of his life. But he did likely stand in "divine grace," which is very different from the familiar. This is where I think Kierkegaard went too far. The "movement" to qualitatively affirm the existence of the self is not a movement that cancels ethics, for the body of rules K wants be subsumed under and defeated by God's authority are themselves of God. This is a long argument. It goes to defining the essence of religion and "metaethics" that is, the essence of ethics.
  • Joshs
    5.2k


    However, it seems problematic to say that truth is completely relativized, even vis-á-vis introspection —that people cannot look back on past events and say "that was a bad decision," with any more validity than their thoughts at that given moment. It's not moral relativism that is at stake when practical reason is reduced to emotional claims, but a thoroughgoing relativism for all claims.Count Timothy von Icarus

    The world ‘relativism’ is a kind of misnomer, isn’t it?
    Relative doesn’t have to mean arbitrary. It clearly doesn’t mean this when we are navigating through the reciprocally integrated elements of a system of relations. Within the bounds of our understanding of the nature of the relations between the components of the system, relativism can imply intricacy, intimacy, coherence and intelligibility. It is only when we compare two systems and deem their relation to be incommensurable and arbitrary that relativism dissolves relate into incoherence.

    One could argue that the good relativism of intimate correlation only becomes the bad relativism
    of arbitrariness and incoherence when we prematurely halt the progress in our understanding of the relatedness of aspects of the human world by forcing them to conform to a true ground or origin. This is the moment when meaningful relation becomes the arbitrariness of the unconditioned absolute. Emotivism is one form of absolutizing, since it treats affectivity as arbitrary beginning. But affectivity doesn’t have to be understood this way. It can instead be linked directly to sense-making , as the expression of the relative success or failure of inteliigibility. Thus, , when we say something felt good or bad, we don’t mean that we were overcome by a fleeting, random bit of meaningless information, but that the events we have been attempting to make sense of either fit neatly into our expectations or were discordant with respect to them.

    My view would be that conceptions of truth are prephilosophical. They show up when your mechanic fails to have fixed your car, or when your child claims they didn't throw a rock you just saw them throw, etc.Count Timothy von Icarus

    To know whether the mechanic has fixed your car, you have to know how a car works, not necessarily the details of engine mechanics but how to operate it and the general
    principles by which that machine runs. That relational system of knowledge belongs to a wider social network of functional relations that pertains not only to specific knowledge of the car , or motorized machines in general , but many other aspects of culture that ground the intelligibility of ecosystems within which we drive cars.
    But this knowledge ecosystem is not its own ground. It is not arbitrary. It evolved from previous ecosystems and those from prior ecosystems of knowledge. The change from one to the next is neither arbitrary and random, nor is it fixed by conformity to pre-existing causal truths, which would be arbitrary also. Rather, the evolving changes in knowledge ecosystems are future oriented, aiming asymptotically at a kind of knowledge that sees all the elements of our world within intercorrelated
    relations that are profoundly intimate. So the engine works or it doesn’t, but as our machines evolve with us , what it means to ‘work’ changes in ways that point towards this interconnectness. The capacity to understand the world in this way preceded us , but not the content. No pre-existing causal laws or substantive absolutes of any kind ground knowledge absolutely. This thinking would just keep us from arriving at the relational truths , which are neither invented out of whole cloth nor discovered as ready-made absolute grounds.

    Understanding your child is like understanding your car. The superficially question is whether your child lied., but the evolving question is why he needed to lie, what breakdown in understanding made them feel they had to misrepresent their actions. They wanted to avoid punishment, and they will be punished because of a breakdown in the relationship. You make recourse to moral right and wrong, short-circuiting the relational possibilities of understanding by imposing an arbitrary truth.
  • NOS4A2
    8.3k


    I don't think a strict religious adherence could be considered "spiritual", at least insofar as that word means anything. The conscience is often latent. Everyone has a conscience but not all of them are active to the extent that they could be, or they have ossified around this or that practice or teaching or ideology. In my mind the more religious one is, the less spiritual he has become.

    The concept of moral development suggests the conscience, that unseen witness to all an individual does, is the individual. It grows, develops, and ages along with him and expresses itself according to what has been learned by his corporeal form as he makes his way through the world and being with others. This includes living and acting through moral dilemmas, or considering morality as our fellows have understood and articulated them.

    If one assumes the concept of moral development, I would argue that the lack of progress towards an active moral conscience correlates to the lack of variation in one’s exposure to morality and ethics as practices and principles. In other words, it is the lack of variation in one’s life experience (ie. the trial and error of a moral dilemma, like whether it was right or wrong to lie to your parents), and a lack of variety in the consideration of other moral principles and practices as found in the record of moral literature, that inhibits the growth of the conscience. As a parable, how might the Buddha have come to suggest the middle way or reach enlightenment if he himself hadn't lived through a variety of extremes?

    In my mind the development of the conscience requires one to consider all ethical systems, to survey every extreme, maybe even to dabble in practicing them: to sin, to make mistakes, to fail morally, and also to succeed and to do right. It requires one to consider both good and evil, to expose oneself to them, if not to read and learn about them, then to pit them against the armor of one's own conscience.

    This sort of trial and error is requisite to spirituality, in my mind, so I consider your own spiritual practice to be superior to that of the religious man. At any rate, if you cannot be wholly good, at the very least be interesting.
  • Astrophel
    435
    Kierkegaard didn't want to be a philosopher in the literal sense, and he, in opposition to Hegel, didn't preach Christianity as an illusion. K also considered himself an undoubtedly Lutheran, etc. I personally think Kierkegaard felt more comfortable debating about theology, the Bible and Christian Ethics. He became a philosopher accidentally. I see him as one of the representatives of existentialism. I really like K and I always like to get deeper in his thoughts. I think this has already been discussed here but Kierkegaard, apart from other things, is dialect! He used specific words in Danish which are difficult to translate into our languages, like 'anfægtelse' which means 'spiritual trial'. Kierkegaard shows the anguish inherent to the authentic God-relationship and also the dangerous possibility of the individual imagination's. It is here that Kierkegaard's emphasis upon individual responsibility.javi2541997

    I don't think this is all right. Just a few things: He did his dissertation, The Concept of Irony, on Socrates, and he was completely aware of the philosophical issues of his day. He was a "religious writer" but analytic through and through. So I don't think it was accidental. The Concept of Anxiety is written by a very strong academic if with an idiosyncratic style. But on the other hand, he was not a typical dry humorless intellectual. You can see why he loved Socrates so much: irony is the soul of wit. And Luther. Consider what he says here:

    The Smalcald Articles expressly teach: hereditary sin is so profound and detestable a corruption in human nature that it cannot be comprehended by human understanding, but must be known and believed from the revelation of the Scriptures. This assertion is perfectly compatible with the explanations, for what comes out in these are less terms of reasoned thinking thinking than the pious feeling (with an ethical intent) that vents its indignation over hereditary sin, takes on the role of accuser, and now, in something like a feminine passion and the intoxication of a girl in love, is concerned only with making sinfulness and its own participation in it more and more detestable, itself included, so that no word is harsh enough to describe the individual’s participation.

    Not a very flattering account of Luther regarding his position on original sin. But I haven't read everything he said on Luther, and I am sure he appreciated the 95 theses posted on Wittenberg's door. Luther was a very sincere rebel, as was Kierkegaard.

    But yes, K was very disturbed in his struggles with faith, his long nights of inner struggle. Good thing he didn't marry Regina Olsen.

    But the idea I was trying to offer is, how does a "deeply spiritual" person proceed? I am certainly not against such a thing, but I think one has to rethink Kierkegaard as a model for spiritual guidance. The existential revolt against Hegel's rationalism puts all eyes on existence, one's personal existence. There is a fascinating discussion of this in phenomenology. I think those like you, committed and in earnest, would do well to read the French post Husserlian movement in theo-ontology. Perhaps read a bit of Jean Luc Marion or Michel Henry. Or Emanuel Levinas, who is devilishly abstruse. But this is the power of language, to open ways to understand the world. Really, Heidegger is a must. Not that he was so "spiritual" but that he takes the entire human existence up in such a new light that it can be breath taking. There is a LOT of Kierkegaard in Heidegger's Being and Time. If you want to see how K's original thinking is laid out in massive exposition that breaks away from tiresome metaphysics, then this is the work to read.

    As I read H, I come closer to what I want to understand about human spirituality.
  • ENOAH
    288
    As far as I understand this, confessing only heals the spirit because the latter is sacred, religious, etc. I mean, they are different concepts with different results. Don't you think?javi2541997

    Yes. I like "confession" for healing the "spirit" more than apologize. You're right. Or repent. Repent and sin no more. If we want to think religiously.

    But still I think we are talking about healing one and the same thing. Whether we call it Mind or Spirit. It might be convenient for discourse to think of the Mind as, for e.g., the seat of reason, and the spirit, for e.g., as the seat of the sacred, and thus of guilt and despair. They are not divided, but the same thing.

    You suggest that the Spirit alone can be healed by confession. Yet many forms of psychotherapy involve speaking out your mind's issues to a qualified other. As long as it needs healing by apologizing, confessing or repenting it's "sins" we are speaking of the Mind, the psyche, the whole of human consciousness, and not the Truly Spiritual, which is the Organic body uninvolved with such inventions, but rather carrying on with the life God is giving it.
  • ENOAH
    288
    if the idea is simply to live a less stressful life, then fine. But this is not what Gautama Siddhartha had in mind so long ago.Astrophel

    Totally agree. This is not what Buddha had in mind; i.e. the relief from stress. But he did have in mind that the root of all stress, suffering, is the attachment to this profane, including the Ethical (the universal) etc. But while one might argue that Buddha was calling for the annihilation of this "self" who is so attached, I believe he was calling more for its "recognition," as its annihilation is likely impossible.
  • javi2541997
    5k
    Hello NOS, thanks for your feedback.

    Firstly, spirit means something to me. I understand this concept created a big debate in the thread because I read that most fellows don't give this word the credit it deserves. Some argue it is about the mind, and you claim it is the individual behavior after learning for making mistakes. All of these arguments are perfectly taken to improve my knowledge, but what is the cause of behaving accordingly then? Here is my second point in this thread:

    I personally believe that every sin, lie or bad action has consequences. I don't tend to see them as a quick response. I lied to my parents but I learned the lesson and I keep living. No... It goes deeper than that and at least this is how I see it. One person doesn't end up with this anxiety because of just one mistake. It is about very corrupt behavior for a long time. When these actions are repeated, the spirit could be dying, getting rotten, putrefacted. If I didn't feel this way, I think I would be an AI. It is not too easy to learn the lesson, or furthermore, to emerge unscathed.

    That is what it is about... Suffering from the anxiety of being aware that I had done terrible things. How can I heal this? Some say to go to a therapist, others to see a priest, etc. The only way is to confess. This action goes deeper than just apologizing.

    My intention is not to be wholly good. I just don't want to fail in temptations... If I lied to my parents is due to trying to flirt with a woman. Nature surpassed my innocent spirit. But now I understand this clearly: I haven't taken this into account because I was ignorant about taking care of my spirit! I thought there was no soul! No rotten experience! No corruption of the essence! Because without God everything is permitted' as Dostovesky would say... Well, I would say: Without a spirit, everything is permitted.
  • Astrophel
    435
    f one assumes the concept of moral development, I would argue that the lack of progress towards an active moral conscience correlates to the lack of variation in one’s exposure to morality and ethics as practices and principles. In other words, it is the lack of variation in one’s life experience (ie. the trial and error of a moral dilemma, like whether it was right or wrong to lie to your parents), and a lack of variety in the consideration of other moral principles and practices as found in the record of moral literature, that inhibits the growth of the conscience. As a parable, how might the Buddha have come to suggest the middle way or reach enlightenment if he himself hadn't lived through a variety of extremes?NOS4A2

    I tend to agree with most of this. But I would just add that it is just a beginning. Certainly, ethics emerges out of a culture full of nuanced thinking and behavior. But there is in this a question of ontology: what IS ethics? This is about the nature of ethics and looks into whether or not there is something about ethics that is absolute. I, for one, am a moral realist, meaning I think that after the incidental features of a society's entanglements, features that are not ethical in themselves, like the rules that settle ethical matters that are spontaneously accepted and in play, are suspended, there is a, call it a residual value-in-being. Case in point: I am ethically prohibited from knocking the old woman down and taking her money. We have laws against this, and we could argue about how the laws might apply, how mitigating circumstances might apply, how analysis that reveals justification might "defeat" the principle prohibiting the action, as so on. But these entanglements conceal the nature of ethics itself for the question is not raised here if there is anything indefeasible about these affairs.

    It is commonly accepted that one has a prima facie obligation to obey the law, and generally, to behave decently. But what is decent is a contingent matter, each social world having its own ways of living. But the Real the underpins ethical entanglements and makes ethics what it IS, is value, and by value I mean the good and the bad that generates obligation outside of, logically prior to, the language constructs we use. Remove the dimension of value, and ethics vanishes.
  • javi2541997
    5k
    But yes, K was very disturbed in his struggles with faith, his long nights of inner struggle. Good thing he didn't marry Regina Olsen.Astrophel

    There is an interesting debate about what would have happened to Kierkegaard if he got married to Olsen!


    I am certainly not against such a thing, but I think one has to rethink Kierkegaard as a model for spiritual guidance. The existential revolt against Hegel's rationalism puts all eyes on existence, one's personal existence.Astrophel

    It is a great guidance to feel myself better. But, sadly, I don't always understand Kierkegaard. This is due to my lack of knowledge about religious topics. Thus, th content of the Bible or Christian dilemmas. Being a spectator of K coming from an atheist background is fascinating, but I assume I lack key points that maybe a person with a religious background would have. For example: An atheist background would affect me in the sense of denying the existence of a spirit. Thanks to K, I learned this actually exists, and I can experience a tormenting trial of the soul because I often suspended my ethics.
  • Astrophel
    435
    as its annihilation is likely impossible.ENOAH

    Buddhists are a strange bunch. I have read of those who are buried alive breathing through straws. There is that story of the sequestered monk asked by an intruding reporter if he was ever lonely, replying, not until you showed up.
    Solitude is an extraordinary thing.
  • ENOAH
    288
    not until you showed up.Astrophel

    :up: :up: :up:
  • ENOAH
    288
    not until you showed upAstrophel

    While it's likely there was deliberately no logic. If there was, I'd wager this:

    While sequestered he was not alone, but with his Body, and thus one with everything.

    The reporter reminded him of his Subject (because Subject requires Other) and thus the seeming utter isolation/alienation.

    But ultimately, we are utterly not alone; neither in Body where we are one with Nature/Reality, nor in Mind where we are one with History/Maya.
  • javi2541997
    5k
    But still I think we are talking about healing one and the same thing. Whether we call it Mind or Spirit. It might be convenient for discourse to think of the Mind as, for e.g., the seat of reason, and the spirit, for e.g., as the seat of the sacred, and thus of guilt and despair. They are not divided, but the same thing.ENOAH

    This point is very fascinating... Then, according to your argument, the mind can experience the anxiety about not acting accordingly as well. I wonder this because the mind is where the ration is allocated, and the latter helps us to see the problems and ethical dilemmas more objectively...

    You suggest that the Spirit alone can be healed by confession. Yet many forms of psychotherapy involve speaking out your mind's issues to a qualified other. As long as it needs healing by apologizing,ENOAH

    Thank you for your help, understanding and support. But I don't feel I am ready to go into therapy yet. I choose to confess because I feel it is more personal. It is like a redemption with myself.
  • ENOAH
    288
    I choose to confess because I feel it is more personal. It is like a redemption with myselfjavi2541997

    Sure! And why not? If it works, it works. I just say, that "it works," is the workings of Mind.

    But, ultimately, who am I?
  • Tom Storm
    8.4k
    I personally believe that every sin, lie or bad action has consequencesjavi2541997

    Why? What demonstration of this do you have? This sounds more like an odd compulsion.

    That is what it is about... Suffering from the anxiety of being aware that I had done terrible things. How can I heal this?javi2541997

    There's nothing to heal. You have chosen to view it like this.

    Because without God everything is permitted' as Dostovesky would say... Well, I would say: Without a spirit, everything is permitted.javi2541997

    But as Zizek points out, believers in god commit unspeakable atrocities in its name. Dostoevsky (if he wrote this) is wrong. It should be: 'If there is a god, then anything is permitted.'

    Of course Dostoevsky didn't really put it like this, Sartre did in a paraphrase of Dostoevsky. In Dostoevsky the line closest is in The Brothers Karamazov a character asks: “But what will become of men then?” I asked him, “without God and immortal life? All things are permitted then, they can do what they like?”

    If I lied to my parents is due to trying to flirt with a woman. Nature surpassed my innocent spirit.javi2541997

    I often found it useful to lie to my parents. It made life easier. I have no regrets and now they are dead. Game over. :wink:

    An atheist background would affect me in the sense of denying the existence of a spirit.javi2541997

    What is spirit?

    Remember too that some atheists believe in reincarnation, ghosts and other supernatural stories. Atheism is just about the god belief.
  • Tom Storm
    8.4k
    This was the point of the reference to the drug addict. Not that "heroin is an objective bad," but rather that someone whose drug problem has ruined their life can claim, with good warrant, "it was not good for me to begin doing drugs."Count Timothy von Icarus

    And the person for whom the drug has made it possible to continue living by making life bearable has a differnt perspective. I don't think its so easy to avoid from the perspectival nature of most matters.

    There are some very good studies on the phenomenology of truth, the basic aspects of experience from which the notion emerges. Good metaphysical explanations of truth then need to explain this, to explain this adequately, which is easier said than done.Count Timothy von Icarus

    I have no metaphysical explanation of truth. Truth seems to be an abstraction and clearly means quite different things in different contexts.
  • ENOAH
    288
    The Brothers Karamazov a character asks: “But what will become of men then?” I asked him, “without God and immortal life? All things are permitted then, they can do what they like?”Tom Storm

    I am a little bewildered at how often I've heard versions of this in response to submissions that God either doesn't exist, or if It does, is beyond good and bad, right and wrong, (and all other dualisms arising only to a species like us who have constructed difference.)

    Why do we need God to cooperate (which is ultimately the drive behind morality)? Do people not see that ultimately matters such as these fall only to their "functionality"?

    If we, not God, permit murder, people will die. If we steal, there would be chaos. Etc etc etc.
  • ENOAH
    288
    But these entanglements conceal the nature of ethics itself for the question is not raised here if there is anything indefeasible about these affairs.Astrophel

    But the Real the underpins ethical entanglements and makes ethics what it IS, is value, and by value I mean the good and the bad that generates obligation outside of, logically prior to, the language constructs we use.Astrophel

    Asking you authentically, not to set up some argument (sorry, I have learned that some think queries are concealed gotchas):

    1. Are you saying there is an ontological "Real" for Morals/Ethics, and that that "Real" is good vs bad? That these are what is indefeasible, or, absolute?

    2. Why aren't "good" and "bad" also just "features of a society's entanglements"? Granted, I see that good and bad speak to the pith and substance of ethics. But why isn't Ethics itself, right down to its pith and substance, a functional construct?

    Addendum: simplified illustration. In prehistory/prelanguage/preconstruction, X 's mate is killed by Y, X feels the negative feelings which arise from the lost bond. Y might feel the satisfaction of protecting her offspring. Y feels the positive feelings of that. Where is the prehistoric, ontological value? Where does it fall? I say, post history, good and bad were constructed to displace those natural feelings. Only they are ontologically real and prehistoric, because they are organic.
  • Wayfarer
    20.7k
    I am a little bewildered at how often I've heard versions of this in response to submissions that God either doesn't exist, or if It does, is beyond good and bad, right and wrong, (and all other dualisms arising only to a species like us who have constructed difference.)ENOAH

    Recall that question I asked you about 'biological reductionism'. Here you are deploying that again. The ability of a 'species like us' to understand the fact of mortality, and to understand that there are moral and immoral acts, is what differentiates us from animals. And that difference is not only biological, it is also existential.

    You might recall I mentioned Alan Watts' book, The Supreme Identity, earlier in this thread. The 'supreme identity' means realising one's identity as being beyond life and death. I think this is what is mythologised by popular religion, as clearly it is something that seems inconceivable. (There is, however, a 2011 book by an analytical philosopher named Mark Johnson, called Surviving Death, which approaches a similar point but from a more technical and ostensibly naturalistic perspective.)

    The problem arises from appealing to Darwinism as a philosophy of life. Darwinism, or more properly, the neo-Darwinian synthesis, is not a philosophy of life. It's a biological theory dealing with the origin of species. So viewing existence purely through the lens of Darwinian theory is inevitably reductionist, which is one of the unfortunate characteristics of today's culture. This is why appeals to Darwinism feature so prominently in new atheist polemics from the likes of Dennett and Dawkins - were are gene machines, blindly following a survival program that dictates our existence in the service of survival of the species. It's actually the complete opposite of philosophy.

    Here are a couple of opinion pieces which tease out some of the implications - It Ain't Necessarily So, Antony Gottlieb, Anything but Human, Richard Polt.

    I have no beef with entomology or evolution, but I refuse to admit that they teach me much about ethics. Consider the fact that human action ranges to the extremes. People can perform extraordinary acts of altruism, including kindness toward other species — or they can utterly fail to be altruistic, even toward their own children. So whatever tendencies we may have inherited leave ample room for variation; our choices will determine which end of the spectrum we approach. This is where ethical discourse comes in — not in explaining how we’re “built,” but in deliberating on our own future acts. Should I cheat on this test? Should I give this stranger a ride? Knowing how my selfish and altruistic feelings evolved doesn’t help me decide at all. Most, though not all, moral codes advise me to cultivate altruism. But since the human race has evolved to be capable of a wide range of both selfish and altruistic behavior, there is no reason to say that altruism is superior to selfishness in any biological sense. — Richard Polt
  • Tom Storm
    8.4k
    I am a little bewildered at how often I've heard versions of this in response to submissions that God either doesn't exist, or if It does, is beyond good and bad, right and wrong, (and all other dualisms arising only to a species like us who have constructed difference.)ENOAH

    I guess it is a vested interest of many religious views to imagine that only the right god/spiritual belief can provide morality. Of course religious folk, just like secular folk, have no access to an objective morality. Morality is always an act of either interpreting or creating what we believe to be right.
  • ENOAH
    288
    And that difference is not only biological, it is also existential.Wayfarer

    I submit it is not biological, but only exisistential. Does that change anything?

    viewing existence purely through the lens of Darwinian theory is inevitably reductionist, which is one of the unfortunate characteristics of today's culture.Wayfarer

    I presume you have read my various related posts to be claiming that all we really are is a set of feelings and drives. Hence, biological reductionism.

    You would be correct, except that, you have either missed, or--and this I admit, is more likely--I have failed to communicate a seemingly subtle, but actually significant variation. I'll do my best (note Real=ultimate truth or reality, universal shared irrespective of species, and not just, as i submit, that reality constructed by that anamolous species, us--I know you are already straining, indulge me):

    1. Yes, the Real human organism is the Body with its drives and feelings, plus whatever is our organic aware-ing of that. The reason, "whatever is," is because that's the very "problem" we face as humans. That Real and organic consciousness is displaced so we cannot access it via the mediator/displacer.
    2. Call that reductionism if that's what it is. I'm not sure labeling ideas is always helpful but I respect that it can be. But note,
    a) I am not suggesting a lump of flesh in any derogatory way, not even dumb flesh. For all we know, that organic aware-ing is, especially for us super sophisticated humans, an ecstatic state of bliss, etc.
    b) accept that (only maybe, until recently) the entire history of metaphysics and religion has been our desperate effort to do the opposite: to suppress the flesh and silence Real organic being, for the sake of glorifying the very thing displacing it.
    3. My personal query (of course I do not know) is, what am I really? Not the I who is asking, nor the I that I want it to be. I am that Organic body (Descartes confusion was remaining with the I that wants). That is the consciousness I share with the rest of Nature. So what is all this other stuff? This stuff unique to the I who (thinks) hopes it is (real) Real. It is not some Reality occupying the Spiritual realm. Why would it be? Does that not reek of wishful thinking? Ockhams razor. How are our dualistic explanations not overly complex fantasy?
    4. Yet there truly seems to be a dualism. What is Mind? Yes, there seems to be one, because there is. Mind is something other than the organism, unique to humans. It exists, but only in the billions of images stored in our memories. And here's where I've already occupied more than my fair share and must end. But though those images exist, they are empty representations. Reality for us, like all beings, is in our magnificent and cherish able nature: matter. Not the Fiction we write. Final note: lest I further confuse into "nihilism". Yes human existence beyond its Organic Truth, is constructed. But so what? It, like the beehive and beaver dam, serves many great (and harmful) functions. Let it be.

    As a lame courtesy to this overall post, this ties in because I am suggesting that a "sick" spirit is just maladjusted Narrative which can be corrected narratively. No need to fret. Find your True Spirit by breathing presently. By the self inhabiting Being, and not becoming. Not new age. Philosophy.
  • ENOAH
    288
    Morality is always an act of either interpreting or creating what we believe to be right.Tom Storm

    :up:
  • Wayfarer
    20.7k
    the entire history of metaphysics and religion has been our desperate effort to do the opposite: to suppress the flesh and silence Real organic being, for the sake of glorifying the very thing displacing it.ENOAH

    'Entire history', eh?
  • ENOAH
    288
    Ha! Whatever
  • Wayfarer
    20.7k
    'Whatever' sounds about right.
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