• Isaac
    They think, rather feel, it's wrong to kill animals because they know, through empathy, how it feels like to suffer or die.TheMadFool

    Firstly, knowing how it feels to suffer is not sufficient cause to think something is morally wrong. It also requires that one hold a belief that causing this suffering in others is wrong.

    Secondly, I don't want to be make too big a deal of it, language being a flexible tool and all, but you do keep defining empathy as 'knowing what another person is feeling', and in psychology 'empathy' has quite a specific meaning and that isn't it. Empathy, in psychology is feeling what another person is feeling, not just knowing it, or caring about it (which is 'sympathy').

    Thirdly, I don't see any evidence for your assertion. If vegans become vegans because they know what it's like to suffer then why are there suddenly so many of them?
  • Billy

    Authority, I believe, is established in the following way:

    For person A to become an authority to Person B,

    1)Person B must believe that Person A is better than them at something, and
    2)Person B must believe Person A will not use the fact that they are better than them at something to hurt them.

    That’s basically it. There are some smaller points, like:

    3)Once an authority is established, it can remain, even if the superiority of the authority doesn’t remain.
    4)Two people can be authorities to one another, if they are both better than the other at something.
    5)Authority is of degrees, depending on a)how much better Person A is than Person B, b)what they're better at, and c)how much Person B believes that Person A will not try to hurt them.
    6)Person A can be an authority to Person B, if Person C is an authority to Person B, and Person C tells Person B that Person A should be an authority to them.

    However, all of these points, I think, are tangential to the main thrust of my original question. The main thrust, I think, is:

    “Is what our conscience tells us is right or wrong, simply the result of what certain people (authorities or something else) have complimented us for, or scolded us for?”

    This, I think, is a question with potentially extremely important implications. Whether I'm right or wrong about what I makes an authority an authority, or whether it's even an “authority” at all that's at play here, doesn't so much bother me. In fact, I'm willing to adopt whatever term or definition anyone would like to use here, so long as it gets us to what I believe is the meat of my question, that being: “Is what we think is “right” and “wrong” only what someone else (whoever they are) has told us to do or to not do?”

    You asked what I think the things I've said have in relation to certain passages you quote from the Tao Te Ching. Frankly, I don't see how they relate much. The “3's” and “4's” that you quote are ethical in nature, yes, but the reasoning behind them is that it is in your own self-interest to adhere to them, independently of whether your conscience tells you to or not. The “6's” seem to me to be about memory--namely, what kinds of things remind you of other kinds of things. What I've been talking about I think is emotion--namely, what is the source of the peculiar emotions related to conscience. These things, memory and emotion, I think, are two mostly unrelated things.
  • TheMadFool
    I'm not an expert on the subject so bear with me.

    Thanks for the psychological definition of empathy. I may have used the wrong word ''knowing'' instead of ''feeling'' but it's not that great an error so as to make my view totally pointless.
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