• Relativist
    999
    What really drove individuals to explore nature?
    — Relativist
    You're not getting that observing/exploring nature is not what modern science does.
    tim wood
    You're mincing words. I described the various reasons why I believe it's impossible to know how western society would have developed had Christianity not developed as it did. (The hypothetical is: what if Christianity hadn't developed as it did? And you seem to be claiming that we would not have modern science).
    Tenuous except where and when it's a matter of recordtim wood
    Sure, but that's pretty sketchy. But there isn't what one would need to truly understand ancient world views, and how and why world views evolved over time, but you seem to think you have a strong handle on this. Are you a historian? Have you researched this?
  • tim wood
    3.6k
    I described the various reasons why I believe it's impossible to know how western society would have developed had Christianity not developed as it did.Relativist
    Neither a question nor an issue with for for me. It's yours by yourself. I merely bring forward the arguments and descriptions of those who have studied.
    And you seem to be claiming that we would not have modern scienceRelativist
    This so much a misreading that I have to wonder - well, never mind. In any case, it had not and would not occur to me to opine that we wouldn't have modern science but for "modern" religion. But at least in this, you're imo correct: it would be too much in the way of speculation, and the speculating at best not very good, even if as an exercise in fiction.

    And you evaded my parenthetical question. I'm satisfied there was an historical person corresponding to the literary creation of the Bible, but I am under the impression there is no evidence outside the bible of such a person. And certainly none outside the bible that recounts what the bible says about that person. On this, however, I accept correction providing the sources are generally accepted as authoritative.
  • Relativist
    999
    Tim - I re-read our earlier exchages and I now see that I misinterpreted your position. Sorry about that, and going off on what was apparently a silly tangent.

    And you evaded my parenthetical question. I'm satisfied there was an historical person corresponding to the literary creation of the Bible, but I am under the impression there is no evidence outside the bible of such a person. And certainly none outside the bible that recounts what what the bible says about that person. On this, however, I accept correction providing the sources are generally accepted as authoritative.tim wood
    I think you're asking about Jesus, so I'll respond accordingly.

    Yes, I think it much more likely than not that there existed a man of that approximate name, upon whom a religion developed. There IS some limited extra-biblical record of his having existed, but probably the best evidence is the fact that Paul discusses his own interactions with Jesus brother (James), and his #1 disciple Cephas/Peter.
  • ZhouBoTong
    665
    Any time you act, you're trying to benefit yourself in some way.frank

    This MIGHT be true for someone who is unaware of the meaning of what you said above. However, once I am aware of this tendency...I can certainly choose to go against it...right?

    I just stabbed myself with a pencil. I can come up with a couple of bat-shit crazy reasons that the action benefited me...but I would rather you do it :razz:

    I could reduce this to a challenge that seems easily overcome... I challenge anyone to do anything that does not benefit them...

    Unless we change the meaning of language, wouldn't most people think up all sorts of actions that have no personal benefit? Hell, we could do it objectively for a third party...then just follow our own instructions.

    A good thing is an effective thing or a beneficial thing.frank

    This sounds like an attempt at objective morality...? If we know what "good" is, then we know how we ought to act...? I think I confused you and the Thomists again. This quote is about the Thomists? Does not seem very nihilistic is the only reason I mention it.

    It's close to this: for Aristotle, it's like you're a vector and "good" is a name for the direction you're trying to go in. "Evil" is what you're trying to leave behind.frank

    Unfortunately that is meaningless in English. So during the depression California was "good" and Oklahoma was "evil"? I know, I know. You meant it more on a personal emotional level. Fine, so gaining knowledge is "good" while the ignorance I used to possess is "evil"? So becoming severely obese is "good" while the skinny me I left behind was "evil"? So the serial killer is "good" while the troubled youth of the past is "evil"? This probably made more sense in Greek??

    I've never been a fan of any version of virtue ethics I have ever heard...but obviously you should listen to Aristotle over me...so consider me unconvinced more than you are wrong (I doubt that was an issue, haha).

    I think the challenge you're presenting is that if we say slavery ultimately imparted the precious gift of wisdom, then we're saying it was ok that a pregnant African woman was bound face down on the dirt in Brazil and whipped. It's ok that a Jamaican woman sat on a beach with the body of her dead infant in her arms, having killed it because she couldn't face having it grow up in the world she lived in. It's ok that somebody's son was tortured as he hung from a tree in Tennesee before being burned alive. It's ok that generations of our brothers sisters were systematically stripped of dignity until they learned to despise themselves for what they were.frank

    Not only, "ok", but definitively "good". And you forgot to mention how slavery transforms the slave owner into an atrocious shadow of their former selves.

    No. It's not ok. And if it hasn't become part of our flesh and bones to know it's not ok, then no wisdom was imparted. No good came from it. They all suffered and died in vain.frank

    This is the crux of the issue. Do I really need a holocaust to consider mass killings wrong? History shows we often do not learn and it certainly repeats. We all justify "good" from our own perspective and once it is "known" to be "good" any means are justified to achieve it.

    And this logic defines "evil" as a "necessary good". We could not possibly learn this "knowledge" any other way than atrocities?

    What's your view?frank

    Probably got lost in one of my walls of text :grimace: ...but I said enough for this conversation (I think) here:

    I have enough nihilist tendencies (objectively, I am a moral nihilist as well, but subjectively I choose to believe that most of Hitler's actions should be condemned based on the goal of a well functioning society - I used "well functioning" in an attempt to avoid "good", but it is still a bit vague), along with my general belief that we have a very limited "free will" (if any), so I can get that Hitler was a product of his environment as much as any of us. But regardless of whether I "blame" Hitler I can still condemn him as "sinful" or how we should not act (I did not bring the word "sin" into this...but I am not sure you did either...when I hear "sin", I just think "ways we should not behave"...just to clarify as that word brings a lot of baggage).ZhouBoTong

    I can answer the rest of your post later.frank

    Well I get a bit long winded, haha...so don't feel obliged.

    Always great talking with you.frank

    And here I thought I was being my typically annoying self. You may just be a polite human, but I appreciate it anyway :smile:
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.5k
    Aristotle and Aquinas don't accept that a person can sin intentionally.frank

    Of course they accepted that. It was well described by Plato, accepted by Aristotle, and described even more thoroughly by Augustine. The solution to this issue involves free will. We can freely choose to do what we know is wrong.

    t's not about will, it's about how Aristotle defined good and evil. Strip your concept of goodness down to something mundane, mechanical, and naturalistic. A good thing is an effective thing or a beneficial thing. Any time you act, you're trying to benefit yourself in some way. It's really more than that, though. It's close to this: for Aristotle, it's like you're a vector and "good" is a name for the direction you're trying to go in. "Evil" is what you're trying to leave behind.frank

    Aristotle provided a distinction between real good and apparent good, which Aquinas developed further.


    This sounds like an attempt at objective morality...? .ZhouBoTong

    If you believe in God, there is an objective morality, objectified by God. This is the basis for the "real good". But this brings up Plato's Euthyphro question. Is the good a real good because it's what God wants, or does God want it because it's good? In monotheism this is not a significant issue, but for Plato it was, because the different gods might want different things, resulting in incompatible goods, if "good" is defined by what a particular god wants. So to maintain a truly objective good we must say that God wants it because it's good. This places "the good" as external to God. But if the real good is necessarily external to God, why do we need "God" to objectify morality?
  • frank
    4k
    I just stabbed myself with a pencil. I can come up with a couple of bat-shit crazy reasons that the action benefited me...but I would rather you do it :razz:ZhouBoTong

    Because you're afraid you're in a dream and you wanted to wake yourself up.

    For the Thomist, Aristotle provides a nice solution to the old problem of evil. I say "old" because their are two different ones. The old POE is about the apparently unreconcilable dualism (not substance dualism, just duality) that seems to be attached to good and evil.

    The old Neoplatonic conception of divinity was that everything is God. This is the original meaning of the trinity. The Neoplatonic trinity is:

    1. The One (the Father)
    2. Nous (the Son)
    3. Anima Mundi (the Holy Spirit)

    I'm writing from memory, btw. Take it with a grain of salt. Anyway, your existence as a human is the result of a series of emanations from the One. Imagine a slow motion explosion that eventually turns and implodes back in on itself. That's how Neoplatonists saw God and humans are just bits of the explosion. You are on a journey back to the One, and everything you do (including stabbing yourself with a pencil) is coming from this underlying need you have to be re-integrated with your creator. It's like a wound you're trying to heal. You're part of a stream of living beings all headed toward the same sea, and some of the water swirls around and temporarily goes in the wrong direction, but it's all self-correcting.

    So what's fascinating to me is that we've arrived at a feature of Stoic ethics: that all evil is self-correcting. And through Aquinas we're integrating Aristotle and Plato. There's a famous painting of the two of them in the Vatican with Aristotle gesturing downward and Plato point up. This is the meaning of that painting: the fusion of heaven and earth. The fusion of the form and matter.

    I could reduce this to a challenge that seems easily overcome... I challenge anyone to do anything that does not benefit them...ZhouBoTong

    Why would someone take you up on that challenge? Answer that, and you'll have the over-riding benefit.

    Unfortunately that is meaningless in English. So during the depression California was "good" and Oklahoma was "evil"? I know, I know. You meant it more on a personal emotional level.ZhouBoTong

    Yes, California was the direction of goodness. All good action was in the direction of California. And no it's not personal. Aquinas is more naturalistic.

    Not only, "ok", but definitively "good". And you forgot to mention how slavery transforms the slave owner into an atrocious shadow of their former selves.ZhouBoTong

    Plus per Lincoln, slavery threatened the Vision of the Free Society. When people get used to having someone else do their work for them, they lose sight of what freedom means. IOW, if you're a slob living off somebody else, you are not free and you don't know what freedom is.

    History shows we often do not learn and it certainly repeats.ZhouBoTong

    This is close to Schopenhauer's ethics, a totally different beast, but closer to my own perspective. I guess we could ponder what problems Schopenhauer doesn't address that Thomism does. I'd have to think about it.

    Well I get a bit long winded, haha...so don't feel obliged.ZhouBoTong

    Me too, when I'm writing about something that interests me like different cultural takes on ethics. A fun thing: take something like Sauron from the Lord of the Rings or the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and ask how different ethical frameworks would explain it. What would Aquinas say? Marcus Aurelius? Moses? Jesus? Zoroaster?
  • ZhouBoTong
    665
    If you believe in God, there is an objective morality, objectified by God. This is the basis for the "real good". But this brings up Plato's Euthyphro question. Is the good a real good because it's what God wants, or does God want it because it's good? In monotheism this is not a significant issue, but for Plato it was, because the different gods might want different things, resulting in incompatible goods, if "good" is defined by what a particular god wants. So to maintain a truly objective good we must say that God wants it because it's good. This places "the good" as external to God. But if the real good is necessarily external to God, why do we need "God" to objectify morality?Metaphysician Undercover

    I am not sure I am getting all this...so I am going to go through it, and you can tell me the parts I am missing:

    If you believe in God, there is an objective morality, objectified by God.Metaphysician Undercover

    Makes sense so far.

    But this brings up Plato's Euthyphro question. Is the good a real good because it's what God wants, or does God want it because it's good?Metaphysician Undercover

    Still good. I just asked a related question in a far less academic manner in another thread.

    So to maintain a truly objective good we must say that God wants it because it's good. This places "the good" as external to God.Metaphysician Undercover

    This is what I have always felt...but as someone who does not believe in any gods, that may be more normal.

    But if the real good is necessarily external to God, why do we need "God" to objectify morality?Metaphysician Undercover

    Assuming morality is external to god then we would not need god to objectify morality, but how could we ever define morality objectively? I would also think that the Christian/Muslim version of god would be objective in relation to the goal of entering heaven (although why is that goal desired? seems to become subjective). I guess any version where god=nature creates objectivity as god is no longer a subject (sort of)...but those versions of god rarely mandate morality??

    I get I am a bit wishy-washy on this, but I think I am generally in agreement with what you are saying.

    Maybe I was a bit flippant with my use of "objective"? I agree it is complicated.
  • ZhouBoTong
    665
    Because you're afraid you're in a dream and you wanted to wake yourself up.frank

    That would be a possible reason, but it would be wrong in this case.

    We can do better than that. How about because I wanted to prove you wrong? But notice this quickly becomes circular where from one perspective, you (the Thomists) are always right. But from any other perspective, it makes almost no sense??

    I'm writing from memory, btw. Take it with a grain of salt. Anyway, your existence as a human is the result of a series of emanations from the One. Imagine a slow motion explosion that eventually turns and implodes back in on itself. That's how Neoplatonists saw God and humans are just bits of the explosion. You are on a journey back to the One, and everything you do (including stabbing yourself with a pencil) is coming from this underlying need you have to be re-integrated with your creator. It's like a wound you're trying to heal. You're part of a stream of living beings all headed toward the same sea, and some of the water swirls around and temporarily goes in the wrong direction, but it's all self-correcting.frank

    I think I finally get it. Thomism is a religion? (my ignorance shows I obviously won't mind you discussing these points from memory, haha) I don't see anything attempting to rationally convince me in that paragraph, but I can see dogma. If when I read that it fit my view of the world, I would like it. Since it doesn't, it just sounds like another religion. Sorry if I have been discussing this from the wrong perspective.

    So what's fascinating to me is that we've arrived at a feature of Stoic ethics: that all evil is self-correcting.frank

    The connection is interesting, but the phrase "all evil is self correcting" is too much mumbo jumbo for me...I am not sure I believe in evil other than as a vague descriptor of severely negative behavior. And "self-correcting" seems a dangerous way to label "a concerted effort by a large portion of society to create a better world for most humans and other forms of life". It takes intentional positive effort to spite the natural tendency for negative actions to create negative results.

    All good action was in the direction of California.frank

    Sure, but that is very different from "California is good". And "good" being very subjective we can't say "all good" about anything (except some hypothetical heaven or utopia). I just feel like the Thomists are going to jump through a lot of hoops just to prove their circular definition is correct.

    Plus per Lincoln, slavery threatened the Vision of the Free Society. When people get used to having someone else do their work for them, they lose sight of what freedom means. IOW, if you're a slob living off somebody else, you are not free and you don't know what freedom is.frank

    Sounds good. But that last sentence suddenly sounds like libertarian (american) propaganda. Surely we are all "living off somebody else" to some extent?

    This is close to Schopenhauer's ethics, a totally different beast, but closer to my own perspective. I guess we could ponder what problems Schopenhauer doesn't address that Thomism does. I'd have to think about it.frank

    I am happy to join in the discussion, but my philosophy education is lacking (decent history education, but less on philosophy). Does the poster named Schopenhauer1 have similar views to the actual Schopenhauer? I have read a lot of his writing here, haha. I will happily do some short readings if it helps, but just know you are not talking to an expert (shocking, I know :smile:).

    A fun thing: take something like Sauron from the Lord of the Rings or the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and ask how different ethical frameworks would explain it. What would Aquinas say? Marcus Aurelius? Moses? Jesus? Zoroaster?frank

    Sounds interesting. I get especially interested when noticing the issues where all the answers are the same...we must be on to something :smile:
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.5k
    This is what I have always felt...but as someone who does not believe in any gods, that may be more normal.ZhouBoTong

    The way I laid it out, I omitted some key points which add complexity, that I will now try to elucidate. As demonstrated by Plato and Aristotle, we define "good" as the thing wanted, the good is what is wanted. In human beings, this manifests as a situation described by, "the thing is said to be good because it is what is wanted". If in God, we invert that to say, "God wants the thing because it is good", and this would mean that its goodness is independent of God, we need to be able to account for how the goodness of a thing makes God want the thing. This is explained by rationality. The intellect apprehends the goodness of the thing, and this is why it is the thing is wanted. The thing moves the rational intellect towards it, because it is good.

    Now we still have to deal with the complexity that free will adds. In human beings, the intellect can apprehend something as good, yet the will might still move us in a different direction. So when we say that "the good" is what moves the will, as the thing wanted, and cause of human action, we call this the "apparent good". The "real good" is the thing which the omniscient intellect would apprehend as good. But the intellect doesn't have the capacity to necessarily move the body toward that thing, because the will, which is free, is what moves the body. If I understand the Thomistic argument correctly, if an intellect apprehends the real good (and this might require an omniscient intellect independent from a body), it would also be apprehended as the apparent good, and the individual would be incapable of acting otherwise.

    Assuming morality is external to god then we would not need god to objectify morality, but how could we ever define morality objectively? I would also think that the Christian/Muslim version of god would be objective in relation to the goal of entering heaven (although why is that goal desired? seems to become subjective). I guess any version where god=nature creates objectivity as god is no longer a subject (sort of)...but those versions of god rarely mandate morality??

    I get I am a bit wishy-washy on this, but I think I am generally in agreement with what you are saying.

    Maybe I was a bit flippant with my use of "objective"? I agree it is complicated.
    ZhouBoTong

    I think the issue is that it would require an omniscient intellect to accurately determine the "real good". Any time that a human being, or human beings attempt to determine the real good, they are actually only determining the apparent good, what is wanted by them. It is determined as "good", because it is what they have decided that they want, and a good which is determined in this way, good because it is what is wanted, rather than wanted because it is good, is an apparent good. Human beings haven't got the capacity to determine what is good independent of what they want, because this would require separating themselves from their desires. That's why Aquinas argues that only an independent intellect, one separate from, and not influenced by the body, could make such determinations.

    So, we can say, and assume that there is a real good, independent from human wants and desires, and try to use this as the basis for an objective morality, but it doesn't do us any good. We haven't got the capacity to separate ourselves from our wants and desires, so we haven't got the capacity to determine the real good. As different human beings attempt to dictate this real good, it would rapidly become corrupted by these individuals' wants and desires. Therefore we would have to determine a "God's perspective", which we could agree on, and attempt to determine the real good from this "God's perspective". But isn't assuming "God's perspective" the same thing as assuming God?
  • ZhouBoTong
    665
    The way I laid it out, I omitted some key points which add complexityMetaphysician Undercover

    Haha, I don't doubt that in this discussion. So many factors to consider (many of which have various popular interpretations...like free will).

    The intellect apprehends the goodness of the thing, and this is why it is the thing is wanted. The thing moves the rational intellect towards it, because it is good.Metaphysician Undercover

    Does this mean that dumb or irrational people primary do "bad"? Or good or bad, they just got lucky because they can't understand good? I know there is the Socrates (I think) quote that says something like, "there is only one good, knowledge. and one evil, ignorance." (I may have got that from Civ 5 so hopefully it is right, haha) So this may be what you are suggesting, and that is exactly how I like to think I subjectively select my morals. But I don't see that leading to an objective morality (I am not even certain that is what you are arguing to be fair).

    The "real good" is the thing which the omniscient intellect would apprehend as good.Metaphysician Undercover

    Even with total omniscience, I would still only see objective "real goods" in relation to somewhat specific goals. Sorry, as you can tell, I just really struggle with any sort of moral being absolutely right. There is always another "why?".

    If I understand the Thomistic argument correctly, if an intellect apprehends the real good (and this might require an omniscient intellect independent from a body), it would also be apprehended as the apparent good, and the individual would be incapable of acting otherwise.Metaphysician Undercover

    Dang I am really trying. But with no goal, I am struggling to understand why exactly anything is "good" (real or apparent). An omniscient intellect would know the "good" behaviors for the ideal society. But if I don't add "for the ideal society" what do we even mean when we say "good"? How would perfect knowledge solve this?

    So, we can say, and assume that there is a real good, independent from human wants and desires, and try to use this as the basis for an objective morality, but it doesn't do us any good. We haven't got the capacity to separate ourselves from our wants and desires, so we haven't got the capacity to determine the real good. As different human beings attempt to dictate this real good, it would rapidly become corrupted by these individuals' wants and desires. Therefore we would have to determine a "God's perspective", which we could agree on, and attempt to determine the real good from this "God's perspective". But isn't assuming "God's perspective" the same thing as assuming God?Metaphysician Undercover

    Well even if I don't exactly understand what a "real good" might be (part of your point may be that omniscience would be necessary to understand the "real good" and that is why I don't get it), I can entirely agree that at the very least we would need this omniscient perspective for objective "real goods" and, as you say, we are long way from any sort of godly perspective (if such a thing is even possible).

    Thanks for trying to clear this up for me.
  • jorndoe
    809
    Neither logic, mathematics nor the scientific methodologies have any inherent dependencies on Christianity.
    That's just hijacking. ("if you can't beat them, join them"?)
    Archimedes (-287 — -212), for example, predated Christianity, and contributed significantly to mathematics and physics; in a sense he showed that we can indeed understand things thus, for the benefit of later generations.
    Aristotle (-384 — -322) had already expressed basic logic some years earlier.
  • 180 Proof
    616
    Neither logic, mathematics nor the scientific methodologies have any inherent dependencies on Christianity.
    That's just hijacking. ("if you can't beat them, join them"?) ...
    jorndoe
    Yeah, true, but ...

    Give not that which is holy unto the dogs,
    neither cast ye your pearls before swine,
    lest they trample them under their feet,
    and turn again and rend you.
    — Matthew 7:6
    ... just saying :roll:
  • jorndoe
    809
    I suppose we can be grateful to some of the Arabs and Muslims for attempting to keep ancient Greek writings alive during the Middle Ages, the Islamic Golden Age (largely prior Omar Khayyam (1048-1131)). They also made discoveries during those times.

    Pathfinders: The Golden Age of Arabic Science (2010) by Jim Al-Khalili
  • Wayfarer
    9.2k
    Neither logic, mathematics nor the scientific methodologies have any inherent dependencies on Christianity.jorndoe

    In the early days of Christianity, theology absorbed a great deal of what was important from Greek philosophy. Subsequently logic, science, mathematics, the university system, the hospital system, many fundamental elements of the concept of human rights, and indeed even the concept of the 'secular state' all came out of that. And Christianity has a coherent story, even if you can never figure out what it's about despite thousands of posts ;-)

    Pathfinders: The Golden Age of Arabic Science (2010) by Jim Al-Khalilijorndoe

    God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science James Hannam.
  • 180 Proof
    616
    e.g. Wayfarer :yawn: ...
  • frank
    4k
    Neither logic, mathematics nor the scientific methodologies have any inherent dependencies on Christianity.jorndoe

    No, they were all Christians all the way back to Adam. I can't believe you'd suggest otherwise. What's wrong with you?
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