• intrapersona
    555
    Would the absence of a universal system or morals and meaning make life absurd? I would of thought meaning and morals are emergent from an objective universe meaning you need meaning or morals to exist objectively before it can exist subjectively? For meaning and morals to just pop out of subjectivity seems a bit queer.
  • Barry Etheridge
    349
    But if the prior fact is that existence is absurd surely morality becomes necessary to maintain some vestige of order in the chaos and limit the damage? Such a morality would indeed be emergent from subjective assessment of the human condition and the perception of possible improvement.
  • DTK
    3
    I don't believe that such a thing should make existence absurd. Not at all since without it, we wouldn't be able to function normally. The only objective reason to moral and meaning is that it allows the human society to work. Morals and meaning itself should stay subjective.

    If we were to find an objective meaning or moral, it would complicate things further. Wouldn't knowing that there is a moral or meaning out there that is universal for us all create an irrelevant state of mind? Having something so universal would make human progress much slower as we all then know what existence is meant to be.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    Given the human propensity to ask "why" questions, existence seems to becomes irrevocably absurd.
  • wuliheron
    440
    Whether existence is ultimately nonsensical or not, the fact it can be objectively perceived as such means meta-ethics, rather than ethics or morality, must apply because, obviously, life still makes a great deal of sense even if it is ultimately nonsensical! If life is nonsensical than we are nonsensical and its pointless to ask the question unless, somehow, nonsense can make sense! Everything being context dependent means whether anything including life, the universe, and everything appears to make any sense to us simply depends upon the context.
  • Terrapin Station
    3.7k
    Would the absence of a universal system or morals and meaning make life absurd?intrapersona

    From Wikipedia:

    In philosophy, "the Absurd" refers to the conflict between (1) the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life and (2) the human inability to find any. In this context absurd does not mean "logically impossible", but rather "humanly impossible".[1] The universe and the human mind do not each separately cause the Absurd, but rather, the Absurd arises by the contradictory nature of the two existing simultaneously.

    Accordingly, absurdism is a philosophical school of thought stating that the efforts of humanity to find inherent meaning will ultimately fail.

    So yeah, per that definition, which is the sense of "absurd" that Camus was using for example, the absence of objective morality or meaning makes existence absurd.

    I would of thought meaning and morals are emergent from an objective universe meaning you need meaning or morals to exist objectively before it can exist subjectively? For meaning and morals to just pop out of subjectivity seems a bit queer.intrapersona

    It might help us help you sort through the idea if you were to flesh out a bit why you thought that or why it seems queer to you.
  • Ashwin Poonawala
    54
    Murder is unethical for a civilian, but is ethical for a soldier. Cutting some one open is unethical for most of us, but not for a surgeon. Similarly, in a given situation, lying to a dying person or a child can be merciful, while telling the truth may be cruel. How can morality not be subjective to the person, and to the situation? Compassion should be better parameter of morality than any other.

    Society derives its ethical rules from the average level of compassion of its members. Society calls this justice. Social rules help members live in harmony, with the benefit of the collective ability. But when these rules achieve merciless rigidity in a particular instance, or due to changing times, they have to be opposed and modified. Can you see us stoning adulterers to death, or throwing those into fire who steal from burning houses?

    If mercy is the base of morality, then its core has to be personal, with the shell made of ethics and justice. Again ethics are subjective to the society in question. Otherwise we would be the same as some cruel cultures in the world that we hear about.
  • TheMadFool
    2.4k
    Would the absence of a universal system or morals and meaning make life absurd?intrapersona

    This is a complex question. You've clubbed two different ideas (morality and meaning) in one question. This notwithstanding I think we can still answer the question in a meaningful way.

    When people talk about meaning of life they're usually looking for an objective purpose in their lives. This quest has proven itself to be futile, spawning the philosophy of the absurd.

    Morality is the science and art of creating and sustaining a harmonious social organization. There are different strains of moral philosophy. The one I find relevant to your question is Kantian(?not sure). Kant expressly states that persons are ends in themselves and should never be used as means to an end. In other words persons shouldn't be used as instruments to achieve a desired goal.

    If you agree with me so far then you should feel the tension of an imminent inconsistency in such a worldview. On one hand we desire meaning, which is another way of asking ''to what ends do our lives serve as means?'' And on the other hand a subset of morality (Kant) categorically states that a person should never be used as a means to an end.

    Thus, inevitably, either we have a purpose or we don't.
    If we have purpose then Kantian morality shows that to be bad.
    If we have no purpose then life is absurd.

    So, either we're bad or life is absurd. Make your choice.
  • Wayfarer
    6.5k
    Kant expressly states that persons are ends in themselves and should never be used as means to an end. In other words persons shouldn't be used as instruments to achieve a desired goal.TheMadFool

    That is indeed a Kantian maxim, and a good one. However it certainly doesn't follow that:

    If we have purpose then Kantian morality shows that to be bad.TheMadFool

    because 'having a purpose' is not the same as 'being used for a purpose'.
  • TheMadFool
    2.4k
    because 'having a purpose' is not the same as 'being used for a purpose'.Wayfarer

    I beg to differ because a couple of steps behind, hidden from view (thus unseen), from the idea of purpose of life lies our dissatisfaction with subjective purpose (otherwise why all the fuss?). We seek an objective purpose and most people (given that religion is still selling like hot cakes) believe in a divine purpose in their lives. God, for all its worth, provides us with an objective purpose. This divine purpose is not ours but god's and we're simply a means to achieve it.

    Doesn't it then follow, given the Kantian maxim, that we're used as instruments to achieve this divine purpose. And isn't this bad on Kantian grounds?
  • Wayfarer
    6.5k
    That is just such a dreadful mashup of poorly formed ideas that it's not worth responding to.
  • TheMadFool
    2.4k
    That is just such a dreadful mashup of poorly formed ideas that it's not worth responding to.Wayfarer

    You're avoiding the issue. All you have to do is show me how divine purpose does not lead us to the conclusion that we're but means to achieve god's objectives (ends).
  • S
    6k
    Would the absence of a universal system or morals and meaning make life absurd? I would of thought meaning and morals are emergent from an objective universe meaning you need meaning or morals to exist objectively before it can exist subjectively? For meaning and morals to just pop out of subjectivity seems a bit queer.intrapersona

    What do you mean by "absurd"? Why would you have thought that? And why does it seem a bit queer to you? Also, why have you switched from "emerge" to "just pop out"? Are you attempting to appeal to emotion with loaded language?
  • SophistiCat
    465
    Would anyone actually take a crack at explaining what "objective meaning" or "objective morals" are? It's not a trivial question.

    For meaning and morals to just pop out of subjectivity seems a bit queer.intrapersona

    Interestingly, one of the classic arguments for the so-called error theory of morality (which perforce denies that moral truths can be objective, since it rejects any moral truths), advanced by Mackie, is known as "the argument from queerness." It basically says that mind-independent immanent moral properties would be metaphysically queer and epistemically inaccessible without some equally queer faculties for perceiving those properties.


    Murder is unethical for a civilian, but is ethical for a soldier. Cutting some one open is unethical for most of us, but not for a surgeon. Similarly, in a given situation, lying to a dying person or a child can be merciful, while telling the truth may be cruel. How can morality not be subjective to the person, and to the situation? Compassion should be better parameter of morality than any other.Ashwin Poonawala

    Of course moral prescriptions often come with some qualifications. That's not what is usually meant by moral subjectivity (although what exactly is meant is rather hard to tease out, as I mentioned above).
  • Ashwin Poonawala
    54
    I will try.

    Brain is a part of the mind, and is not be ignored in the process of figuring things out. My reservation comes from the fact that widely accepted definition of objectivity is associated only with brain. Brain only knows the parameters derived from our past experiences. If this type of objectivity is correct, then highly intelligent persons should be most successful in their endeavors. But we see many extremely intelligent people falling flat on their faces. Normally very intelligent people rise to the governing levels of nations. And still history is full of examples of politicians plunging their nations into self-created disasters.

    Our total mind is much more than brain. It contains our instincts and deeply buried emotions/desires. A relaxed mind talks to us. Engaging the whole mind takes us to higher and more correct objectivity.

    Of course! logic is the same all over the creation. Question is how many dimension we involve in our decision-making. Maxwell raised questions about validity of Newton's model of the universe, and Einstein went farther than the both of them, by adding more dimensions in the reasoning.

    Brain gives us answers quickly. It should be used to filter and validate the answers coming from deep mind, because deep mental distortions can give wrong answers. For instance, if some guru tells us that human sacrifice will make us happy, then right away we know that the idea has to be wrong. If a super computer comes up with an answer, which contains some where in it, that "2 + 2 = 5", we can use our calculator to check that part, and know that the overall answer is based on a wrong premise. If our brain disagrees with what our deeper mind tells us, then walk away from the answer. The only advantage of using the whole mind is that we are liable to get more correct answers. And by such trials and errors we identify distortions in our own mind, continuously cleansing it.

    Morality is based on personal objectivity. Normally personal reasoning is labelled as subjective, but to me it is higher objectivity.
  • SophistiCat
    465
    I was at first confused by your talk about the brain, until I realized that you meant something like rational deliberation, as opposed to intuition/subconscious. OK, so rationality vs. intuition, I get it. But, except for the rather cryptic conclusion, I don't see how this connects with objective vs. subjective morality. More importantly, I don't see how this connects to the OP question.

    I should make it clear, I wasn't asking for someone to just make up something based on any associations evoked by the words "objective"/"subjective". The notions of objective vs. subjective morality are commonly invoked in discussions of morality everywhere from academic works to public speeches to forum discussions. People who use these terms seem to mean something specific by them - or at least they think they do. So I want to understand what it is that the OP and those here who argued for or against "objective morality" meant by that.
  • ralfy
    22
    Probably, but localized systems manage to make life meaningful, especially when that life is also localized.
  • Ashwin Poonawala
    54
    Sounds like my write up was confusing. I apologize. My excuses are that English is my third language and that at times my mind races way ahead of my pen. Let me try once more.

    Brain is only a small part of the whole mind. For simplicity I call the rest of the mind heart. Brain obeys the heart at each moment and decides on how to apply

    The right way to reason things out is to gather all the facts that we can obtain with reasonable effort, and than apply all the dimensions we possess to the logical process. When we consult our calm, integrated heart, and not just temporary emotional surges, like anger or infatuations, we get all of our dimensions into the play. Our heart is an ocean of emotions. An emotion is nothing but a conceptual thought. A concept is a pyramid of thoughts, like the word "city" is a concept comprising of people, houses, buildings, roads, traffic, businesses, schools, emergency services, and so on. That is how clear minded persons come up with correct answers quickly. We all have met people with chain-lightening thinking process.

    For example, when after having received a bad news, a loved one shows irrational anger over trivial things, our brains tells us that "I don't deserve this". If we follow up on this thought we would wind up making the situation worse, and both of us would suffer more. But looking deeper in the heart you realize that sympathy and tolerance should be the order of the day. Then we both gain.

    Our method of reasoning is very personal. Only that, It is better to involve the whole faculty at our disposal (the brain plus the heart), rather than only a part of it. People who only use the heart are emotional fools, and the ones who only use the brain are liable to fall into devilish ways, acquiring a painful life. We need to use our whole mind. Let the heart speak as well as the brain.

    Is this objectivity or subjectivity? I am willing to be taught, if some one wants take the trouble. I am not a "philosopher" or a scholar. Whatever thoughts I have are learned from the streets of life, not from any school.
  • Ashwin Poonawala
    54
    I am still learning how to pin point the aims of reply. I may have posted my response in a wrong place earlier.

    Here it is:

    It sounds like my write up was confusing. Sorry. Let me try once more.

    Brain is only a small part of the whole mind. For simplicity I call the rest of the mind heart. Brain only obeys the heart and decides on how to navigate through the world to fulfill the heart’s commands. Brain is empty at the birth. For each occurrence in life, it stores the details of the associated people, things, circumstances, and the remedies applied. This is how we identify the correct strategies for the future. A crude analogy would be that brain is the navigator, and heart is the captain of the ship, or if you like brain is the GPS system and heart is the driver. The brain does not understand the aim of the command or the possible outcomes of the effort. In effect heart is the only part of the mind that thinks. In addition, brain has the ability to interpolate and extrapolate between the known facts, and to apply the strategies to the immerging unknown circumstances.

    Again successive similar emotions build our liking and disliking, or habits if you like. Greed, caring, slickness, cruelty, laziness, industriousness all are habits. I normally like to apply myself fully. I remember, on a job we had almost no work for about three months. After the work arrived, it took an effort to pull myself out of the habit of laziness. Fortunately, the required effort was small, because the habit of hard work was already deeply entrenched in the mind.

    A selfish person drifts further and further on the road of selfishness, and so does a lazy person become progressively lazier, unless some deep pain makes them soul-search. Similarly, positive habits (the ones that add to our happiness) can be broken by sudden large changes, like an industrious person winning a big lottery.

    Our heart is an ocean of emotions. An emotion is nothing but a conceptual thought. A concept is a pyramid of thoughts, like the word "city" is a concept comprising of people, houses, buildings, roads, traffic, businesses, schools, emergency services, and so on. Many times we know that we like someone or something without clearly knowing why? That particular emotion can be a giant pyramid, in the case of a reasonably coordinated mind.

    Happiness is having the feeling of no shortage. Ego always wants more, dwelling on the feelings of shortages. The feeling of shortage causes us pain, and when the shortage is filled we feel pleasure. When we are at the crest of a wave we feel pleasure, and at the trough we feel pain. Relief is the pleasure; it comes only after the pain. Our hearts are churning. The intensity varies from time to time and from person to person; it is a question of degree.

    Introspection (soul-searching) increases our self awareness. When our self awareness is stronger than the temptation, we get saved. When we introspect, we travel back to reach the fork, from where we took the wrong road. Many times we are in grief, or are overwhelmed by a problem, and after enough introspection the right answers pops up in our mind out of nowhere. That is how clear, calm minded persons come up with correct answers quickly. Their emotions are aligned.

    One combined human cell in the embryo knows how to make a human being, and what the parents look like. It creates all the organs and body functions and provides immunities. Single cell-life evolved into tress, fish, birds and mammals. This is life force. The deeper we look higher the intelligence of life we see. Why couldn’t such a thing be true about mind? What if we travel back to the earlier correct forks? It is like travelling from one of the millions of leaves towards the stem or the root. Does the ultimate happiness, ultimate truth, (some call this God) lie at the bottom of the mind? I don’t know. But I know that as I go deeper I find more effective tools of happiness. Some of the things that used to irritate me, and frustrate me, no longer bother me. My tolerance and forgiveness are increasing. That makes my world better, making me happier. I suspect that is how enlightened ones found high levels of happiness. That is how; I suppose the lord of wisdom came up with gems like ‘Do unto others as you would have done unto you’. I don’t know how deep I will be able reach, and I don’t care. Each baby step on this road brings me more happiness. When the journey is so beautiful, why worry about the destination?

    The right way to reason things out is to gather all the facts that we can obtain with reasonable effort, and then apply all the dimensions we possess to the logical process. Engaging more of the heart gets us better answers. For example, when after having received a bad news, a loved one shows irrational anger over trivial things; our brain tells us that "I don't deserve this". If we follow up on this spontaneous emotion we would wind up making the situation worse, and both of us would suffer more. But looking deeper in the heart you realize that tolerance and sympathy should be the order of the day. Then we both gain.

    Our method of reasoning is very personal. Only that, the more of the heart we involve the more correct answers we get. People who only use the spontaneous surges of emotions are emotional fools. And the ones who only follow their emotional habits without any doubt (searching deeper into the heart) are liable to fall into pain causing ways. The people who think that they are thinking only with their brain are in reality obeying a small part of the heart, continuing with their emotional habits.

    Tell me whether this is objectivity or subjectivity? I don’t know what the correct label is; I am not a literary scholar or a philosopher.

    I hope I have addressed the issue, without talking too much.
  • SophistiCat
    465
    No, no, no. I wasn't looking for "the right way to reason things out." My question was not about life, the universe, and everything. I asked a specific, contextual question about the topic of discussion. But those who started and took part in the discussion have drifted off, so...
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