• Enrique

    A person intending to harm might consider themselves good, but it contradicts the conventional meaning of the word itself excepting maybe in cases of self-defense. That's the way it seems to me, we can refine these ideas of course.
  • I like sushi
    That simply doesn’t ring true. Would you stand by and watch someone beat several children to death because causing harm is bad? Of course not. Context is everything. I’m just trying to point out, as Nietzsche did, that the eagle eating a lamb doesn’t do so because it’s ‘evil’ even though it may seem ‘evil’ to the lamb.

    You may say it’s better not to kill anyone, but if all but a few follow your view strictly then the few can kill without any fear of resistance accept from each other. It is ‘immoral’ to follow the law without question and more moral to act against the law regardless of repercussions to self. The hero kills the child killer and happily goes to prison as a murderer. The coward follows the law and watches the children die.

    I’m not saying anything strange here am I?
  • I like sushi
    Just to be clear. The ‘conventional’ use doesn’t fall outside of what I’ve said at all. A person ‘good’ at murdering is ‘good’ at murdering. It is a false assumption that ‘murder’/‘killing’ is inherently not good in a moral sense - which is nonsense. It just so happens that there a few circumstances where ‘killing’ someone could be deemed ‘good’. I’d say ‘rape’ is an item almost impossible to sell as ‘good’ though because I can only dream up completely ridiculous scenarios that would never actually happen.
  • Enrique

    I can't disagree that it all depends on context. Its unbelievable how many bizarre scenarios are possible, and that's why the law is so complex. But the whole point of law is to protect the innocent, because the instigator usually has the initial advantage, to an extent that the level of crime would be astronomical without at least minimally enforcing the "innocent is good", common sense tradition. Its either that or unceasing feuds. Without the wussy definition every sober citizen would be in lifelong misery. Comparing this ideal to actual historical and present conditions yields some interesting insights into human nature if one wants to venture that way. I think Nietzsche's concept of resentiment explains a lot, how even legal systems that have been refined for centuries can still get co-opted to cruel, corruptive, unjust ends. Is there really good and evil anymore? Maybe we've transitioned to resentiment and nihilism, with millions of commendable "good and bad" dissentions. Getting all wild and crazy tonight.
  • I like sushi
    I’d say the ‘innocent’ are naive, dangerous and/or irresponsible. I don’t quite see how that qualifies as ‘good’ in any context. Of course the problem is then exactly what context we’re talking about ‘innocent’ in? I think the manner I have outlined the term is specific yet probably at odds with exactly what you had in mind when you said ‘innocent’.

    I don’t think the law is there to protect the ‘innocent’ either way. The law is fluid so if it is in place to protect some ‘innocent’ group/s then who is ‘innocent’ is always shifting with the times too - as the law does change.

    Being ‘innocent’ is effectively ‘not knowing better’ about a situation. It is being ‘naive’ without any understanding of what ‘naivety’ is. If we’re instead saying ‘innocent’ means not having the ‘power’/‘capacity’ to protect yourself then is it ‘good’ to encourage this by offering protection. Much like raising children do we lock them in a room to ‘protect’ them. In this sense the ‘law’ is about freedom of choice befitting each person - the pursuit of an optimal set of rules that furnishes society with an overall, and gradual, increase in personal freedom. For me the crux of the issue is more about creating rules that allow the progressives to increase overall freedoms whilst reducing freedoms for those that lack a capacity to handle uninhibited freedom. The masses and the individual necessarily suffer for mutual benefit - basically I’m talking about the social contract here.

    All that said the law is there to ‘protect the innocent’ only in the sense that we’re all ‘innocent’ to some degree and that ‘protecting innocence’ isn’t akin to encouraging people to be innocent - which is a difficult problem.

    What is more every extension of my freedom necessarily inhibits someone else’s somewhere in some way. None of us are ‘innocent’ so for this reason I am against ‘protecting the innocent’ because I don’t believe they actually exist. I am for protecting the ‘naive’ though but only if it is combined with action to decrease ‘naivety’ rather than foster a culture of juvenile attitudes that have no mature attitudes to balance them. It is here that I would say education is the key factor. Generally we’re taught to be ‘more mature’ yet when we get older the quest is to return to our more ‘juvenile’ youth in order to reap the benefits of both (to explain further I mean systematic and structured thought is the general attitude of modern education - structure is undoubtedly important - yet once we progress further in education we’re asked to resort to a more freewheeling mindset and to rekindle that ‘juvenile’ flame and be creative).

    The ‘law’ is merely a institionalised means of indoctrinating the public rather than creating greater over all freedom. I certainly don’t live my life in accordance with the law. I regard people who do as monsters in the making, yet I can’t honestly say I have a better alternative that is easy/possible to implement. The law is an expression of governmental power and of public attitudes - both concern me but I don’t adhere to either with anything like a dogmatic grip. When push comes to shove my sense of morality is tested by the extent of the punishments dished out by the law I am willing to suffer for what I inherently feel to be ‘good’. The extreme end of such an attitude does lead us to another dark place too as if one is under the impression that their own beliefs are better than the law then they’ll be willing to suffer a great deal and no doubt cause great suffering under the ‘delusion’ of arrogance.

    As I believe in humanity at large, and generally like being human, I side with increased freedom at the cost of a loss of innocence because I think humans are ‘good’. I guess if you think humans are ‘bad’ then you would be inclined to say the ‘innocent’ need protection at all costs. I prefer more freedom than more innocence, and I cannot see how one doesn’t necessarily counter the other.

    We should, and can, do as we please. As it turns out what we do do is create laws that express our ‘average’ attitudes, but no one is ‘average’. Given that we all mostly agree than under most circumstances ‘killing’ is ‘bad’, and we’re constantly discussing under what circumstances ‘killing’ is sometimes necessary, then we’re pointing roughly in the right direction as this has happened alongside more and more people possessing more and more freedom.

    If we push to ‘protect the innocent’ with more vigor then freedoms will be inhibited and the idea of ‘evil’/‘bad’ assumed by ‘innocent minds’ will inevitably cause more ‘lawful killing’, ‘lawful imprisonments’ and such based on naive assumptions about who should and shouldn’t have freedom. This would give the most opposed members of society the impetus to bring a greater extent of tyranny into the human social sphere.

    Either way I’m not too bothered. There are dangers, but I don’t think we’re heading toward a dark age. Those days are done as far as I can figure out.
  • Enrique

    I don't think we're in very good shape as a society, but it really depends on your background. Some people are doing well, I'm in a torture chamber. Whether you get tortured or not depends on your willingness or inclination to conform, not whether you abide by the social contract, not infringing on anyone's freedoms. The modicum of freedom humans ever had is being revoked in very deliberate ways, but a delusional veneer inhibits most citizens from acknowledging it. Citizens seem to be satisfied saying, whether they actually believe it or not, "I'm not doing anything unusual, I'm simply living a life like everyone else, so why would I get in any sort of trouble?" That's the pernicious sort of innocence you were talking about, not the respecting freedom sort of innocence. We have to determine whether current freedoms are being curtailed for the sake of future increases in freedom, or whether freedom is under attack, and the truth is manifestly evident because we don't have enough freedom to even talk about the issue without getting tortured, I can personally vouch for that. As far as I can tell, freedom is illegal or at least becoming so.
  • I like sushi
    I think we naturally fear freedom too. We do at least have freedom to speak here. The site rules don’t allow for literally anything but it’s pretty liberal.

    If you’re in a torture chamber they at least allow you internet access. Sounds like you’re accepting the torture against your better judgement. Why?
  • Enrique

    No legal or community resource exists for dealing with it, no options that I know of. The more you try to advocate for yourself, the more some sectors of society rally around threatening you. What's sad is that some people have had it much worse, maybe not for as long and as all-consuming of their lives, but this country's institutions aren't working for many. A lot of citizens are in a similar situation. The wisest approach is probably to stay low profile, but that was made impossible for me and I basically got crucified psychologically. This society isn't friendly to diversity unless its turned into some kind of bizarrely amoral comedy act, and even then it can all fall apart at any moment. That's somewhat vague, not sure exactly what to say, but maybe you have some insights.
  • I like sushi
    I’ve no idea what ‘this country’ is. I mostly try to view such questions as it plays out for humanity at large than focus only on this or that particular group/nation. I imagine Venezuela wouldn’t be the best place to live at the moment and North Korea doesn’t look great either.
  • 3017amen
    Assuming we can adequately define reason, did rational thinking make human beings more ethical in the past, perhaps in Plato's era, and is this still the case?Enrique

    I don't know if the ancients were more ethical, though if I were to guess I would say less ethical in some areas. For example, violence was obviously popular in Gladiatorial games.

    Ironically enough though, I was having a nice conversation with a lady friend/dinner date yesterday about how relevant Aristotelian ethics are, and still somewhat applicable in the 21st Century. Aristotle outlines many of these virtues that we should practice to achieve happiness, including:

    •Intelligence and scientific (or certain) knowledge.
    •Practical wisdom: the ability to “deliberate well about what is good and expedient for [oneself].”
    •Temperance: restraint, usually with regard to pleasurable activities.
    •Generosity and friendship.
    •Courage: The tendency to act in order to achieve some good even when facing the risk of physical harm.
    •Contemplation: reflection on eternal truths.

    I think the distinctions between happiness being a static (end-goals) or dynamic activity is an interesting argument to have. Or, as an alternative, if one can be happy simply in a state of Being, it begs the questions of how that can be achieved.

    One may argue that say gaining intellectual wisdom in and of itself would provide for contentment or happiness in this case. Another person may argue that achieving end-goals is a better method. While still other's would say it's the activity itself (the journey; not destination) that should bring happiness-doing things but not just thinking/talking about things.

    So there seems to be at least 3 or 4 ways of Being... . And they all contribute to some level of happiness. Ultimately though, we are hardwired for doing.

    I think other intriguing answers might lie in parsing boredom, anger, fear, anxiety...

    What is boredom?
  • Enrique

    That's the way it is: if you hit the socioeconomic jackpot great, if you get the shaft, sucks to be you. Ethics aren't tied to any particular standard besides whatever works, and we contradict ourselves as much as ever-changing local conditions seem to require of us, with no regard for humanity as composed of human individuals with an intrinsic value that transcends their functional niche. And this highlights one of our many contradictions, because we are commonly empathetic despite our rejection of humanity as in general worthy of empathy. Why I say we may be living in a post-ethics world, all cheesy punning aside. Whatever morality humans may have been marginally capable of is transforming into "what I like" and "what works".
  • Enrique

    When corporations spend years and billions of dollars of someone else's money trying to force one guy into vomiting eight times every second meal, anger, fear and anxiety get involved with ethics real quick.
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.