• unenlightened
    3.5k
    Namby-Pambism is more of an ideology than a culture.Metaphysician Undercover

    Ask yourself, what is "a culture", what differentiates one culture from another. Unless you're an archeologist who only has physical artifacts to go by, you'll most likely refer to some ideologies.Metaphysician Undercover

    I don't need your contradictions, I have my own. :razz:
  • unenlightened
    3.5k
    Don't ignore Plato's Republic. Get yourself out of that dank world of darkness, the cave, and we'll welcome you to the world of philosophy.Metaphysician Undercover

    That's awfully big of you and Plato, but in my culture Plato is the original colonialist, secure in the knowledge of his own superiority and the primitive blindness all but 'philosophers'.
  • Moliere
    1.6k
    I suspect that I'm not quite in the culture you describe, just to be up front about that. Or perhaps I'm like an adopted son who still has memories of another family -- so I'm just trying to wrap my mind around the difficulty that perhaps I do not quite feel, but trying to remain sensitive to too.

    Here's something about that though -- perhaps your culture is not the only culture that sees itself as a culture. There is a kind of thought that I think I can empathize with in that there are people who don't see their own culture. But I think I'd posit that this is the case in all cultures -- that there are people who don't have a kind of self-awareness of their milieu, and there are people who do have that self-awareness. As early as Herodotus we have people who began to recognize that mores are relative to one's culture. Not everyone, and not even on the whole given what evidence we have ,but it was not unheard of either.

    The real horn of your dilemma comes from not just recognizing oneself as a culture, but as you put it wanting both weak cultural relativism and rejecting radical cultural relativism and nihilism. Perhaps this conflict couldn't come about without an awareness of oneself as culturally conditioned, though, so perhaps that aspect is distinctive to your culture -- in that there are more people who are reflexively aware of themselves as inhabiting a culture.

    What if what is good for us is not what is good for them? In which case we are not radical relativists, but perhaps our absolute moral propositions are context-sensitive.
  • ep3265
    23
    We must come up with some sort of moral absolutes. I understand your points a little clearer now. A moral absolute is one where you treat others as they treat you. It's in our biology, no denying it. They kill us, we kill them. Period.
  • unenlightened
    3.5k
    Or perhaps I'm like an adopted son who still has memories of another family -- so I'm just trying to wrap my mind around the difficulty that perhaps I do not quite feel, but trying to remain sensitive to too.Moliere

    That'll do, it's not the culture of people who agree with unenlightened in every detail, or the culture of people who understand this thread.

    I'm watching the news about the first conviction in the UK for female genital mutilation. It's not part of 'our' culture, but it is part of the culture of some parts of Africa. We don't put bones in our noses, but we do put silicone in our tits, and we do sanction male genital mutilation. We are a bit inconsistent, and in large part it is simple myopia, rathe than any lack of insight.
  • Harry Hindu
    1.8k
    They are not aware that their judgements of culture are culturally conditioned, or to the extent that they are, they are fanatics convinced that they have the one true culture - colonialists.unenlightened

    Wrong. Natural selection designed us to be territorial. So it is naturally conditioned.
  • csalisbury
    1.7k


    I don't think its melting-pot. Or colonialism. Exactly, anyway. "let the world become a melting pot" - sure, but the reading group on conrad still assumes you've read conrad, or at least have a good excuse, this week anyway.

    They have the right to defend themselves, we don't.

    Back to social security, which I think we oughn't leave. (Back me up, Naipaul!)

    You're breaking it all apart, but I think it's clear what it is - The schemers in the other room know just as well as the namby-pambys that culture is relative - Kissinger made trendy 'realpolitik' after all. The anthropologists have been consulted.

    If the reading group is safe, there's sympathy. If it feels threatened, the fangs will show.

    Only -- reading groups are sentimental, but we, philosophers, have the (post-cave platonic) concepts that allow thorough self-abuse. (or the twice-distanced post-cave platonic concepts that function the same)

    What do 'namby pambys really want?'

    [real question ]
  • csalisbury
    1.7k
    One answer:

    As it always is with the british empire, and its epigones - they want the 'world' to remain a resource, accessible from home.
  • unenlightened
    3.5k
    What do 'namby pambys really want?'

    [real question ]
    csalisbury

    Hah! They want the same kind of shit as anyone else, you know, stuff they haven't got, stuff that is impossible. They want everyone to be middle-class, conflicted and peaceful. It doesn't come over as a friendly inquiry. "What do Brexiteers really want?", I say - the answer 'Brexit' is no answer, and any real answer will be partial. In Hull they want the fishing, in Rotherham, something else entirely.

    In terms of the theme of this thread, the Namby-Pamby wants above all to transcend his own culture, and to stand outside it in a judgement of perfect impartiality.

    One answer:

    As it always is with the british empire, and its epigones - they want the 'world' to remain a resource, accessible from home.
    csalisbury

    That is the Brexit nostalgia, and the Trump nostalgia, and the Namby-Pamby is a firm Remainer. He wants to put Britishness on equal footing with Frenchness and Germanity and Italiosity. He wants a negotiated settlement, and free movement.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.5k
    don't need your contradictions, I have my own.unenlightened

    See how we have similar culture, but different identity. How could two people have the very same culture, such that we could identity a person by classing one in a group determined as "a culture"?

    That's awfully big of you and Plato, but in my culture Plato is the original colonialist, secure in the knowledge of his own superiority and the primitive blindness all but 'philosophers'.unenlightened

    Oh I see, you're laying claim to the culture now, excluding me from your "culture" just because I interpret Plato differently from you. You're the one expressing superiority with your exclusionary tactics.. And not only are you expressing superiority, but you're also intimidating me, implying that you have the backing of a group, your "culture". Your intimidation won't work though. I know that you are just an individual, and you are not expressing the will of any group. You remind me of a whiny child: "play the game my way or my daddy will kick your daddy in the arse".
  • unenlightened
    3.5k
    You're the one expressing superiority with your exclusionary tactics.Metaphysician Undercover

    Yes I am. That's the paradox. Everyone thinks they are right, even the ones that realise they are probably not. I am defending that Namby-Pambies are superior to other cultures although they are not anything but another culture, just as humans are superior to other animals although they are just another animal. But you don't interpret Plato differently; it is impossible to interpret the idea of philosopher kings as other than cultural superiority and colonialism. I am even condescending to re-enter the cave to try and convince you to come out - that is the extent of my total hypocrisy. But the only disagreement we have is that you want to disagree.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.5k

    Here's something to consider unenlightened. There is a natural human tendency to learn other cultures. You and I, with education and resources can pick up books, or travel, and expose ourselves to the vast variety. Some people are denied this capacity due to natural circumstances, lack of resources, or the power of authority. But if you accept this basic premise, that this tendency exists as a natural will of human beings, you may see where the problem is in the op.

    So where do you get this idea to "protect" an isolated culture? What would be the purpose of maintaining this distinct and isolated culture, as exemplified in the op? You seem to be considering the idea that it's a good thing to keep particular cultures, like the Sentinelese, excluded and living in their own isolated little way, without integrating with other cultures. How could this be a good thing? Isn't this contrary to the human will explained above? I believe this is where the problem is. There is no reason why such exclusion could be good, because it's a matter of going against the will of the people. The only way that such a culture could be maintained would be to deny the freedom and rights of the individuals within that culture to learn and practise what is available to them from other cultures. So this idea of protecting a culture is part of the very same ideology of building walls. To maintain that culture would require denying its individuals the freedom of access to other cultures.
  • unenlightened
    3.5k
    So where do you get this idea to "protect" an isolated culture?Metaphysician Undercover

    I get the idea from the Indian government, whose policy it is. I get the idea from the Welsh government that has a policy of protecting the Welsh language, I get the idea from the general post-colonial notion that indigenous cultures that have been invaded, oppressed and suppressed should be afforded protection.

    So this idea of protecting a culture is part of the very same ideology of building walls. To maintain that culture would require denying its individuals the freedom of access to other cultures.Metaphysician Undercover

    Yes, you're getting it. This is the contradiction inherent in the position that I am pointing out in the op. I'm so glad we agree thus far.

    Unfortunately, you seem to think that the solution is to abandon the principle.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.5k
    Unfortunately, you seem to think that the solution is to abandon the principle.unenlightened

    Yes I think that this idea of "protecting" is just a veiled form of oppression. When you see that there is a natural will of the individual human being to learn and understand alternative cultural principles, and diversify oneself, then you'll see that any attempts to protect a culture cannot get beyond the fundamental requirement of denying its members the freedom to choose otherwise.

    Take the example of the Welsh government "protecting" the Welsh language for example. I am not familiar with this practise, but how could it possibly be successful without some form of suppressing the will of the people to use other languages?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.5k
    Are you familiar with the Inquisition?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.5k
    You identify with the culture rather than with the individual, and this justifies oppression of the individual for the sake of the culture.
  • unenlightened
    3.5k
    You identify with the culture rather than with the individual,Metaphysician Undercover

    You mean I, as an individual, identify with the culture rather than with the individual that identifies with the culture?

    Take the example of the Welsh government "protecting" the Welsh language for example. I am not familiar with this practise, but how could it possibly be successful without some form of suppressing the will of the people to use other languages?Metaphysician Undercover

    Well it couldn't, any more than the protection of people from slavery could be successful without suppressing the will of the people to own slaves.
  • Harry Hindu
    1.8k
    So where do you get this idea to "protect" an isolated culture? What would be the purpose of maintaining this distinct and isolated culture, as exemplified in the op?Metaphysician Undercover
    It seems to me that a more advanced culture would want to preserve a more primitive one for the purpose of science - something a more primitive society might not understand.

    In terms of the theme of this thread, the Namby-Pamby wants above all to transcend his own culture, and to stand outside it in a judgement of perfect impartiality.unenlightened
    Then Namby-Pamby needs to be a human raised by machines and never see or make connections with humans and be taught about humans as if they are just another animal that engages in different types of social behaviors than other animals. Or better yet, Namby-Pamby needs to be a machine observing humans in an objective light. A human being could never obtain that sort of objectivity because every one of them is a product of their culture (and their DNA - and it is in our DNA to be a social creature (for most of us at least)).
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.5k
    Well it couldn't, any more than the protection of people from slavery could be successful without suppressing the will of the people to own slaves.unenlightened

    Right, maybe you're starting to understand. Notice in your example of slavery, the individual who has the will to own slaves does not actually have the power to own slaves. So we don't really need to suppress the will to own slaves, that desire is already suppressed by natural conditions. Slavery is only a problem if it is culturally sanctioned. It requires a like-minded group, with power, to enslave others. So removing slavery is not a matter of suppressing the will to own slaves, it is a matter of annihilating that cultural. The will to own slaves might always exist in some impotent form. suppressed by natural circumstances, when it is not sanctioned by a culture.

    If you want to characterize law and punishment as suppressing the will of the people, for the sake of "the culture", then we would need to negotiate moral principles to justify such suppression. But where would we start, the good of the individual people, or the good of the culture? Individual people have solid material needs. What kind of needs does a "culture" have, other than needing people?

    It seems to me that a more advanced culture would want to preserve a more primitive one for the purpose of science - something a more primitive society might not understand.Harry Hindu

    Of course this all becomes an issue of moral principles. How would preserving a primitive culture for the purpose of science be fundamentally different from keeping slaves?
  • unenlightened
    3.5k
    Right, maybe you're starting to understand.Metaphysician Undercover

    Fraid not.

    Notice in your example of slavery, the individual who has the will to own slaves does not actually have the power to own slaves.Metaphysician Undercover

    What does this mean? An individual has no power at all without society, since the individual is born helpless. With the relevant society the individual has the power to own slaves, just as with the relevant society and not otherwise, the individual has the power to paint a cave, or open a facebook account.

    If you want to characterize law and punishment as suppressing the will of the people, for the sake of "the culture", then we would need to negotiate moral principles to justify such suppression.Metaphysician Undercover

    I don't want to, I'm responding to your characterisation as best I can. I want to characterise law and punishment and the will of the people as aspects of the culture along with the moral principles and negotiations that 'we' need, according to you.
  • Moliere
    1.6k
    I'm watching the news about the first conviction in the UK for female genital mutilation. It's not part of 'our' culture, but it is part of the culture of some parts of Africa. We don't put bones in our noses, but we do put silicone in our tits, and we do sanction male genital mutilation. We are a bit inconsistent, and in large part it is simple myopia, rathe than any lack of insight.unenlightened

    My immediate reaction was to think of the differences between these and other practices, but I think I would say that, hey, a solution of context-dependency doesn't always work.

    I'm tempted to say myopia is a part of the human condition. When we set out to work out a broader vision we can do so in conversation or thought -- but we have yet to figure out how we can do so as a group. Has any culture really done so? Maybe, maybe not. But at least our collective culture has a problem planning for the long-term -- we are like an adolescent chasing after the ephemeral now without any effective means for self-control.

    And we are defensive about this too. Hence the claims to cultural superiority -- "The greatest country on Earth"


    But I believe I've started to grasp the knot you're pointing out, at least, so thanks for that. How to untie it? I don't know right now.
  • unenlightened
    3.5k
    But I believe I've started to grasp the knot you're pointing out, at least, so thanks for that. How to untie it? I don't know right now.Moliere

    Well that is the problem I seem to be having a lot, that I am describing a knot and folks will keep trying to untie it for me and explain why it is a knot in my thinking and not theirs, as though their primitive individualism is in any way consistent.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.5k
    An individual has no power at all without society, since the individual is born helpless.unenlightened

    I agree.

    With the relevant society the individual has the power to own slaves, just as with the relevant society and not otherwise, the individual has the power to paint a cave, or open a facebook account.unenlightened

    Do you agree that the individual has freedom of choice to decide whether or not owning a slave, or opening a facebook account is a good thing to do, regardless of whether or not the person proceeds in such activities. In other words, a person could live within a culture which strictly forbids owning slaves, the state declaring it a bad thing and illegal to own slaves, yet the person still believes it's a good thing to own slaves, in the mind, disagreeing with the culture.

    I want to characterise law and punishment and the will of the people as aspects of the culture along with the moral principles and negotiations that 'we' need, according to you.unenlightened

    If you agree with the principle I sated above, that the person's belief could run counter to the person's culture, how can you characterize the will of the people as aspects of the culture? The person chooses to believe, of one's own free will, moral principles which are contrary to one's own culture. For instance, imagine a person born and raised within a particular culture, being taught that slavery is not good. That person at a later age, in adulthood, may read various materials, or be exposed to other believes with elements of "counter-culture", and decide that slavery is good. The person need not act on this belief, but still the will of that person is not consistent with the culture, having chosen to believe principles contrary to those of the culture, so the will of that person cannot be characterized as an aspect of the culture.
  • unenlightened
    3.5k
    Do you agree that the individual has freedom of choice to decide whether or not owning a slave, or opening a facebook account is a good thing to do, regardless of whether or not the person proceeds in such activities. In other words, a person could live within a culture which strictly forbids owning slaves, the state declaring it a bad thing and illegal to own slaves, yet the person still believes it's a good thing to own slaves, in the mind, disagreeing with the culture.Metaphysician Undercover

    Yes.

    If you agree with the principle I sated above, that the person's belief could run counter to the person's culture, how can you characterize the will of the people as aspects of the culture?Metaphysician Undercover

    I'll put it as plainly as I can. The will of the person is one thing that pertains to the individual, whereas the will of the people is a plurality or aggregate of wills and therefore pertains to a culture.
  • frank
    2.4k
    whereas the will of the people is a plurality or aggregate of wills and therefore pertains to a culture.unenlightened

    In a way, yes. But just as one moment of being an asshole doesn't define you, unenlightened, one episode of scapegoating in the centuries long history of a culture only tells you that the culture gives rise to occasional stupidity. Since all cultures do, this really tells us nothing at all about a particular culture.

    Look at pottery shards. That's what the experts do.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.5k
    I'll put it as plainly as I can. The will of the person is one thing that pertains to the individual, whereas the will of the people is a plurality or aggregate of wills and therefore pertains to a culture.unenlightened

    OK, since you clearly acknowledge a distinction between "the will of the person", and "the will of the people", then how can you identify the individual through reference to the group, in relation to moral issues? Moral issues involve matters of will. The "will of the person" cannot be identified within "the will of the people" so "the person", in the context of morality, cannot be defined through reference to the culture.
  • unenlightened
    3.5k
    The "will of the person" cannot be identified within "the will of the people" so "the person", in the context of morality, cannot be defined through reference to the culture.Metaphysician Undercover

    Suppose the mores of your society are that Christian colonial racism that finds it moral to keep slaves and has a moralistic talk that justifies that. but you see past the economic convenience of the thing and reject it because you are enamoured of the dignity of the person or universal human rights. So you campaign, perhaps you are part of the underground railroad, and you do what you can. Now you surely understand that when you say 'slavery is wrong', and your neighbour says 'slavery is fine' you are both taking a moral stand, and that you are opposed. Now if you are truly alone in your opposition, you will likely be ignored, reviled, locked up or killed - as mad sad or bad. You will be in this regard external to the culture, and if there are others to form a resistance, you will be part of a counter-culture.

    You seem to be opposing this sort of talk, and I think you have an ideological reason, which is odd, because nothing about what I am saying there is ideological in intent. Let's go back to the beginning, where I said 'the individual is made of social relations'. All this means is that the campaigner against slavery - the very descriptive definitional term - describes the person's relations to his society. It defines the society he lives in and his relation to it (opposition).

    It is exactly the same for the animal rights protester. We have described her in terms of her relation of opposition to the culture. If she is a doctor, we have described her as having been given a certain role in society; if we say she is tall, she is tall in relation to the other members of society - indeed she might be nicknamed Miss Giraffe in Hong Kong, and then move to the US and be called Shorty Pants. A revolutionary is just a conservative in the wrong society.

    None of this privileges society as the moral priority, or removes the freedom of the individual, which I think is what you are objecting to, it simply points out that these relations of opposition and conformity, of resistance and cooperation are the substance of individuality. From my point of view it is as banal as saying that the human body is formed by the environment it inhabits. if we lived in the sea, we'd have flippers not legs. One cannot be a dodo hunter when there are no dodos to hunt.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.5k
    Suppose the mores of your society are that Christian colonial racism that finds it moral to keep slaves and has a moralistic talk that justifies that. but you see past the economic convenience of the thing and reject it because you are enamoured of the dignity of the person or universal human rights. So you campaign, perhaps you are part of the underground railroad, and you do what you can. Now you surely understand that when you say 'slavery is wrong', and your neighbour says 'slavery is fine' you are both taking a moral stand, and that you are opposed. Now if you are truly alone in your opposition, you will likely be ignored, reviled, locked up or killed - as mad sad or bad. You will be in this regard external to the culture, and if there are others to form a resistance, you will be part of a counter-culture.unenlightened

    I have nothing to oppose here. What I oppose is identifying the individual in reference to the existing culture. So consider the individual in this example, who is alone in opposition to the norms of society. That person has an identity which is distinct from the culture. We do not know that person's values so we cannot even discuss them, it's just been stipulated in the example that the values are distinct from those of the culture. This person is known in the example as distinct from the culture. That person has the choice of remaining silent, having one's values which are distinct from the culture, never come to light, or, the person may associate with others, to build support. If that person chooses to associate, the identity of that person is built upon the ideas expressed. The person, is the starting point of identity, and this is the same for any person. The person expresses ideas and an identity is produced accordingly. We may compare those ideas to the values of the culture, if we desire.

    Let's go back to the beginning, where I said 'the individual is made of social relations'. All this means is that the campaigner against slavery - the very descriptive definitional term - describes the person's relations to his society. It defines the society he lives in and his relation to it (opposition).unenlightened

    The problem here is that the person has an identity even prior to being "the campaigner against slavery". This identity is associated with the values that the person holds, and it is very important to identify the person as "campaigner for X values" rather than "campaigner against our culture". The difference is very evident, and well documented, if you consider someone like Jesus. You might identify Jesus as the campaigner against Jewish culture. But if you supported his cause, you would not identify him in this way, you'd identify with the values and ideas that he professed, and he would be known to you by what he promoted, rather than by what he was against. Looking back posteriorly, we can identify Jesus according to the culture which came from him, Christianity, but at the time when he was campaigning against the Jewish culture, that later culture Christianity, did not exist. So there was not such an option. At that time you could either identify him as campaigner against the Jewish culture, or campaigner for X values. The difference is magnificent, and only Saul (Paul), in an epiphany, saw the means for reconciliation. The problem though is that the reconciliation is not real, as there is no real reconciliation for that difference of identity. The two identities are magnificently distinct. So Saul's reconciliation raises Jesus to the level of divinity, assigning to Jesus the false identity of Son of God.

    None of this privileges society as the moral priority, or removes the freedom of the individual, which I think is what you are objecting to, it simply points out that these relations of opposition and conformity, of resistance and cooperation are the substance of individuality. From my point of view it is as banal as saying that the human body is formed by the environment it inhabits. if we lived in the sea, we'd have flippers not legs. One cannot be a dodo hunter when there are no dodos to hunt.unenlightened

    What I am objecting to is the false identity which identifying the individual in relation to the existing culture, rather than identifying the individual according to the values and ideas which one holds, creates.
  • Harry Hindu
    1.8k
    Of course this all becomes an issue of moral principles. How would preserving a primitive culture for the purpose of science be fundamentally different from keeping slaves?Metaphysician Undercover

    :gasp: Mu, if you don't know the difference between simply observing someone's normal behavior to acquire knowledge, and beating someone to make them do your bidding, then you have bigger problems that can't be helped on a philosophy forum. You need to go to a psychology forum. You observe other people everyday in order to acquire information or knowledge about them. If you think that is any where close to being morally equivalent to owning slaves then I just don't know about you.
  • Harry Hindu
    1.8k
    What I am objecting to is the false identity which identifying the individual in relation to the existing culture, rather than identifying the individual according to the values and ideas which one holds, creates.Metaphysician Undercover

    The problem with both of you is that you both don't seem to understand that this simply a revamp of the nature vs. nature debate in which I already showed that nature and nuture are the same. An individual is an amlgam of culture and its genes.
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