• Enrique
    Figured I'd post a controversial yet nonoffensive argument about ethics and get some feedback. What are your opinions about the following assessment of group behavior in modern civilization?

    Many pursue a less idealistic existence than is conceivable, a sort of antieudaimonia. The following is a summary of the basic notions, and while no life includes all of the following elements, most involve at least some of them. Information and theoretical advancement are a sideshow as far as the individual is concerned; while progress is potentially good and necessary to an extent, it is not inherently meaningful and only requires commitment of time, energy, and collective action if it furthers a career. Where the real action happens is in ideological and cultural combat: it does not really matter which side you take, whatever seems to be the most appealing, fashionable or convenient camp, and you do not really have to care about what you stand for, but fighting and destruction are the ultimate stimulation as long as they do not render civilization unsustainable, giving adrenaline rushes and peak exhilaration. If you do not want to partake of the thrills provided by at risk factionalism, it is perfectly acceptable to lay low and follow orders to stay solvent and safe, only making waves if it is essential to one’s livelihood. Whether you choose security or battle, it is alright to break the rules for some capricious fun if you can get away with it and it does not detract from the lives of anyone but subcultural rivals or some anonymous strangers. Take advantage of the opportunity for wealth and power because turning down a life of luxury is ludicrous. Work hard to cement optimum status if the opportunity is available, but if high achievement is hopelessly out of reach, pursue the hedonism that at least gives a dose of superficial pleasure, and hellraise if society has earned your ill will.

    As for principles, do what you have to and do not jeopardize your own well-being by sticking your neck out over ethical dilemmas which are meaningless in the long run, a futile encumbrance to place on oneself. If the institutions your circle depend on for survival require you to cause pain and lay waste to lives, this is unfortunate but unavoidable for most; immorality is an intrinsic aspect of subsistence we must resign ourselves to. If activism for improvement is to your liking, by all means pursue this and make the world a better place if practicable, but do not bust your balls merely for an unlikely ideal future, and do not give yourself up in the service of causes which are doomed from the getgo. As the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”. We have a realistic idea of what our chances of success are before we begin, and should not fight for the sake of chimerical ideals. If we are ordered to use ideals as a deception for exploiting the masses, we should not endanger ourselves in all out fighting even when we might tend to esteem these ideals or violating them is against our will, because if a scenario cannot be anticipated in which opposition will emerge triumphant while skirting rapid attrition in the process, these ideals were doomed from the start. The key is adaption: be malleable to what the environment demands, with principles employed as instruments to be mixed, matched, altered or discarded as conditions change, and your life will commonly get some kind of satisfaction.

    Within this framework, most have lives that give them enough pleasure and security to keep treading the path of least resistance, a radical pragmatism that embraces nihilism, getting as much enjoyment from it as possible or required. And many who have become dependent on the system end up destroyed by it when their fortunes plummet in an environment of complacency about the pains and exploitation of others. But some are castaways, rebuffed early or forsaken without being obliterated, and gain a rare independence from the mainstream rat race that allows them to make alternative plans.

    This mindset is disillusioned in regards to the benefit of having many casual acquaintances, forced by the school of hard knocks to confront the fact that most of these relationships will leave you rotting on the street with a run of bad luck. These human beings associate with those who genuinely care about the consequences of what they do, willing to stand for something and form strong bonds with like-minded individuals. They strive to establish a tight-knit network of citizens who can be trusted to respect them and cooperate in actualizing their views, learning from the knowledgeable and mentored by extraordinary competence. The scope of these allegiances tends to remain small, and group unity is of the utmost importance. Members try hard to avoid letting peripheralities of a nihilistic world distract them from the community’s needs and goals, for they believe a “go with the flow” life is bankrupt, a dead end for nonconformity that is anathema to their very survival.

    They are faced with the dilemma of maintaining idealism amongst the hypocrisy of distinguishing an in-group as more valued than those outside their circle. On occasion these individuals adopt a love for all humanity as the standard, but this outlook is susceptible to dying on the cross. It is more often the case that those uncommonly committed to a value system tolerate some immorality towards the outside world as an inevitable side effect of strong belief, for citizens who feel apathy towards them, despise or oppose them must of course be identified as a hindrance to their objectives. It is typically acceptable to neglect or even mistreat individuals who lack a comparably sincere cause, for they water down society’s solidarity. If a subculture is hostile to the coterie’s values, confrontation is permissible, and it usually seems reasonable for the severity of these conflicts to be proportional to the threat posed. If someone else feels affinity for one’s value system and meshes well with adherents, it makes sense to bring them into the fold, and if the group’s cause is to expand its influence, time is spent attempting to gain converts. Essentially, one renounces an existence of nihilism in favor of insular communality.

    The best facets of these two approaches to life, flexible practicality and community loyalty, each have merits, and movements which managed to effect a combination are some of the most successful in history. Christianity’s tolerance and proclivity for blending into local traditions conjoins with an emphasis on values such as love for one’s neighbor, a way of being that no reasonable person can disaffirm no matter how corrupt its institutions become, and the religion has reached one billion members. Islam converted much of the world with its front of proselytizing conquest, and like Christianity it has been modified to fit local practices everywhere. Buddhism is liberal in its acceptation of the personalized search for enlightenment, diversifying into numerous schools around the world and achieving an influence upon culture even in the historically Christian West. Academia’s promotion of intellectual freedom within institutions of research and pedagogy has drifted towards the core of culture. Martial arts with its plurality of styles and edifying ethic has spread to all corners of the globe. The diversity of team sports alongside the importance they place on comradery has gained millions of participants and fans in every country. It is obvious that middle paths incorporating both pragmatism and idealism are not only possible but precedential, so one wonders why the many common sense imminglings which developed over the centuries, winning great popularity, seem to be fracturing into a culture of unprincipled radicalism with cells of ultraprincipled extremism.

    Does this account seem to have any accuracy? What do you think?
  • Outlander
    If one can deal with what they dish out to others and expect them to deal with as normal, I suppose there's little to be concerned about. It's the circumstance that others who deal the brunt of what others deal, and the great circumstantial fortune (temporality) responsible for those being able to do as they do being removed or reversed is what most forget, and so seals the fate of those who do not repent. Which is how it always was. It's when those predetermined, insistent, or otherwise damned to do and suffer from a reversal. attempt to convince others whose fate is undetermined that doing so is "normal", "right", or otherwise "predetermined" in attempt to damn them as well, is when Others speak and act. This is 2020 in a nutshell.
  • Enrique
    Thinking about ethics recently, seems to me that the OP is becoming more true each day, at least in the US, especially the points about antieudemonia. The trend towards social arrangements of this type is proving a major hindrance to some of my own efforts as a citizen. Are our communities disintegrating in this way? Does anyone notice these dynamics in places outside the US? I'd be interested to get opinions on how apt this assessment of modern culture is, and if accurate, whether it can be countered.
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.