• Jack Cummins
    990

    The reason why I have not replied to this thread so far is that I think the perfect questions should be reserved for creating threads. Throwing all the ideas into this one, without even exploring them properly seems a bit futile, but what I would think is worth exploring is the nature of perfect questions: areas not considered enough and processes for the generation of ideas.
  • Possibility
    1.8k
    There is a deliberate ambiguity to my question that gives freedom to the faculties of imagination, understanding and judgement.
    — Possibility

    Which is no help at all.
    Brett

    You insisted on a question within the grounds of the OP. Are you looking for truth in the form of a question, or a reductionist methodology from which to orient your own perspective?

    FWIW, I agree with both questions you posited - I think they are different ways of approaching the same contradiction. I don’t think the answer to either is necessarily affirmative, but in answering ‘yes’ we are at least relating to faculties that could improve existing methodologies for determining action.

    It is the possibility of the answer being ‘no’ that you haven’t addressed.

    Maybe we could turn the whole idea around and find the perfect answer, then work out what question must have been asked in order to elicit this answer, sort of like the quiz show Jeopardy.Garth

    The perfect answer is apparently ‘yes’.

    Just out of interest what would your question be? It has to be one that is answered by a simple yes.Brett
  • Brett
    3k


    The perfect answer is apparently ‘yes’.Possibility

    Only in the sense that it must be unequivocal.

    For instance if the question was ‘Is there an objective morality?’ and the answer is ‘Yes, if there is a Higher Power?’ then the morality question follows the question of a Higher Power.

    If the question was ‘Is there wisdom?’ then the answer cannot be ‘What is wisdom?’. It must be yes.

    Of course you would not ask a question that would have no as an answer. The question would be one you believe is essential to creating a better future. It must almost be, if not necessarily be, a first cause.

    If my question is about objective morality and the answer is yes, it’s true, it exists, then what reason could we as ethical creatures chose to ignore it. And if there was an objective morality then the behaviour of people, all people, would be according to those morals, the rewards would be apparent. Would people go against it? I don’t know. If the universe was moral then I would assume we are moral. But as a beginning the knowledge that an objective morality existed is a beginning to a better future. Governments would operate on those morals, justice would operate on those morals, treatment of others, treatment of animals or the environment.

    You may have other ideas about how this state could be reached. I’m assuming that we on this forum all have some aspect of philosophy we believe that if applied would make for a better future.
  • Brett
    3k


    The reason why I have not replied to this thread so far is that I think the perfect questions should be reserved for creating threads. Throwing all the ideas into this one, without even exploring them properly seems a bit futile,Jack Cummins

    But that’s not the purpose of my OP. Why not throw all your question in here and then address their strengths and weaknesses at contributing towards a better future?
  • Brett
    3k


    Maybe we could turn the whole idea around and find the perfect answer, then work out what question must have been asked in order to elicit this answer,Garth

    How would you do that?
  • Benj96
    277
    Could we maybe consider that the perfect question is also it’s own answer?

    I ask because as many of you have pointed out already a question supposes the seeking of knowledge or truth that is missing. It suggest an absent or unknown facet (the answer) which would complete/ go to form the total resolution of the question.

    I would think that the best/perfect question is answered within or by itself. That it requires no external answer or supplementary information.

    In this sense it seems to be rhetorical In nature - that is to say a question that requires no answer because the question itself provides the profundity or wisdom or truth/ knowledge/ awareness necessary to understand its own supposition.

    This is weirdly reminiscent of, or at least similar to, descartes “I think therefore I am” However that is a statement not a question and assumes a definition for “thought” which many are unsure about as it is left ambiguous as to what he meant by “I think”.

    So what if we considered a simplified version of this statement posited as the question “Am I?” (Roughly equivalent to but not quite the same as “Do I exist? -because again “exist“ assumes a pre-determined definition open to ambiguity of interpretation.)

    This is also reminiscent of Shakespeare’s “To be or not to be? That is the question.”

    The question “Am I?” or even “Do I?” or “Be I?” (Though this one sounds grammatically incorrect compared to “am”) is answered by the act of pondering it in the first place.

    “Awareness” In this sense is the capacity to both ask and be answered simultaneously by the same action.

    The reason I didn’t suggest “Who am I?” Or “What am I?” Or “why, where, when am I?” Is because all of these words assume more than I can know without other questions or information or definitions and assumptions - for example subjects and objects, substances, causes and effects, times and locations etc.

    “Am I?” On the other hand is a question that can only arise from the state of “I am”.

    I could reduce this further to simply “I?” Which is answered by the “I” that asked in the first place. But many would argue this isn’t a question. I would note that questions can be a singular word by itself. Such as the request “Please?”. In the end I prefer the “Am I?- I am!” couple as the perfect question and answer simultaneously. It would encompass all things related to “I” Which is anything within the realm of distinction of things by an awareness or conscious entity and formulation of definitions by this virtue and therefore all possible questions that could be by evolution of the complexity of “I am”.
  • TheMadFool
    8.4k
    wisdomBrett

    Perhaps you'll detect a slight change in my position but it's a work in progress. So, view this is an improvement on my earlier conception of wisdom as that which is both true and good. It appears, on further analysis for what it's worth, that wisdom is a state of mind in which a person can handle/tackle anything and everything in the best way possible and what I mean by that a person who has wisdom can, given any circumstance, always make the right/best decision and choose the best course of action as allowed by the constraints and freedoms present therein.

    As you can see, I've not put any restrictions on circumstance - it could be one in which the wise person has complete or incomplete or no knowledge of the situation that demands faer attention. Each epistemic state (complete knowledge, incomplete knowledge, or no knowledge) for a given circumstance will, for sure, have a best course of action given these limitations and the wise person will both find it and perform it. I suppose it all boils down to knowing how to think than anything else at all.

    As for how morality, for a better world I suppose, relates to wisdom all that seems permissible is to assert is a negative statement viz. a wise person won't make a moral blunder or, if you feel that's hyperbole, a wise person won't commit serious moral offenses.

    What say you?

    What a nice compliment! I must return a compliment that often enjoy your posts as they are questions very few people ask. I think you bring a life to these boards that it would not have if you were not here.

    As for why it is rare to encounter someone with wisdom...I believe that is because there is a difference in being told the road one should take, versus the action of actually walking it.

    A curious mind: You've been on these boards enough to know the closed minded individuals. They have found what they wanted, are tired of questioning, or are full of their own ego. How many times in the past have we done this ourselves?

    An honest heart: An honest heart will often show your beliefs to be wrong. An honest heart critically examines your own self and does not avoid the flaws it finds. How many of us truly like to admit we are wrong even to ourselves?

    An ear to other opinions: How many of us listen to only that which we want to hear? When another opinion repulses you, do we still have an ear open to understand it before judging or dismissing it?

    A rational viewpoint: Some are blessed with this as a potential, but this also takes years of dedication to cultivate. I believe our default is to rationalize, not be rational. It is difficult to break yourself of this and approach discussions with rationality.

    To become a master of these four traits, you must be tested. And if you are tested, you will fail many times. There might be people who laugh at you when you fall. That want you to stay down. That hate you for walking it. You may get help from others, but in the end, you must make the decision to follow such a path yourself.
    Philosophim

    Excellent! :up: :ok:
  • Brett
    3k


    What say you?TheMadFool

    What say I? Total agreement.

    As for how morality, for a better world I suppose, relates to wisdom all that seems permissible is to assert is a negative statement viz. a wise person won't make a moral blunder or, if you feel that's hyperbole, a wise person won't commit serious moral offenses.TheMadFool

    This is the crux of the OP. The thing chosen, being wisdom in this case, will address all questions or dilemmas in this state of mind. Why would wisdom chose to hurt others, why would it ignore a set of morals that contribute to the wellbeing of others, why would wisdom go to war, why would wisdom destroy the environment? Those with wisdom would

    handle/tackle anything and everything in the best way possible and what I mean by that a person who has wisdom can, given any circumstance, always make the right/best decision and choose the best course of action as allowed by the constraints and freedoms present therein.TheMadFool

    And that being so then all decisions made in this state of mind contribute to a better future. What else could be the consequences be?
  • Todd Martin
    139
    @Brett “why would wisdom hurt others?” Had you known what Hitler or Stalin was going to do, would it not have been wise to put a bullet in his head?

    “Why would wisdom go to war?” To defend its country in a just cause?

    And what is this assumption of yours that a perfect morality or wisdom or higher power would necessarily result in a “better future”? You have given some hints as to what your idea of this better future is, but that is all—just bare bones with no flesh. What flesh you have put to the bones is just contemporary liberal propaganda: a cleaner environment or immunity to natural disaster—how can a higher power or a perfect morality insure that we avoid natural disaster? It would seem rather that that higher power either allowed disaster to occur or was impotent to prevent it...

    Maybe your idea of god and morality are incomplete and limited, or prejudiced, because it certainly doesn’t correspond to the world I am familiar with.
  • Brett
    3k


    And what is this assumption of yours that a perfect morality or wisdom or higher power would necessarily result in a “better future”? You have given some hints as to what your idea of this better future is, but that is all—just bare bones with no flesh.Todd Martin

    Because I can’t state what a better future is for everyone. But I assume you have some idea of what you would like for the future, so that’s what you would like to work towards. My intention is not to define a better future, which is why you find it to be just bare bones.

    how can a higher power or a perfect morality insure that we avoid natural disaster? It would seem rather that that higher power either allowed disaster to occur or was impotent to prevent it...Todd Martin

    Read my posts. I said an objective morality would only have an affect on suffering caused by others, not acts of god. How could a higher power insure we avoid disaster? Because a higher power, if it existed, would be perfect, there would be no reason for such a world of suffering to exist.

    The theory of wisdom is that no one would see any value in war. Logically it would make no sense. Therefore there would be no invasion to fend off. I’m not just talking about wisdom existing in your street.

    Maybe your idea of god and morality are incomplete and limited, or prejudiced, because it certainly doesn’t correspond to the world I am familiar with.Todd Martin

    Of course they’re incomplete or limited. But if you have all the answers then pass them on.

    Edit: by the way, read my posts a little more carefully. For a better future I referred to more that your “liberal propaganda”. I included an end to suffering caused by others, better government, better laws and justice, more care of communities, and a better response to disasters. Would you be against any of those. Or did you just cherry pick my posts to serve your vague purpose? What was that anyway?
  • Possibility
    1.8k
    If my question is about objective morality and the answer is yes, it’s true, it exists, then what reason could we as ethical creatures chose to ignore it. And if there was an objective morality then the behaviour of people, all people, would be according to those morals, the rewards would be apparent. Would people go against it? I don’t know. If the universe was moral then I would assume we are moral. But as a beginning the knowledge that an objective morality existed is a beginning to a better future. Governments would operate on those morals, justice would operate on those morals, treatment of others, treatment of animals or the environment.

    You may have other ideas about how this state could be reached. I’m assuming that we on this forum all have some aspect of philosophy we believe that if applied would make for a better future.
    Brett

    There are a lot of IFs being thrown around. We don’t have enough knowledge, and no way of knowing, if an objective morality exists, let alone how such knowledge might be expressed in the affirmative. It’s all very well positing a question that, if the correct answer is known, would lead us to a ‘better’ future, but I’m not quite sure what you’re trying achieve with it.

    If an objective morality exists, then we don’t have sufficient access to information in order to know this. If a Higher Power exists, then again, we don’t have sufficient access to information to be sure of the correct answer. As TheMadFool suggested, what we’re striving for is wisdom in a practical sense - not necessarily knowing the answers, but capable of finding and applying them for the benefit of all. What I thunk this amounts to - as a beginning - is a commitment to increasing awareness, connection and collaboration. I think this would suffice in place of a resounding ‘yes’ to any question you might pose here.

    But I will reiterate my concern that you won’t entertain a ‘no’ answer to the question, which defeats the purpose of positing a question in the first place. You’re assuming that ‘yes’ being the correct answer would render it the only answer, but I think you’re being naive here. We need to recognise that existence is fragmented, and that much of it is a result of insufficient awareness, connection and collaboration - a ‘no’ answer that increases ignorance, isolation and exclusion. There is no wisdom in exclusion, for instance.
  • Brett
    3k


    Okay, maybe this will make it easier. Imagine there’s an election, which candidate would you chose to make a better future?

    For this exercise/game just substitute a philosophical position for the candidate. Which would you choose if you were given the chance for it to be a truth and to see it happen and consequently create a better future?
  • 180 Proof
    2.2k
    You have the last word. No use going on talking past each other like this.
  • TheMadFool
    8.4k
    My concern, as my post shows, is whether there's a necessary link between wisdom and morality.

    Let's begin our investigation, if you could call it that, at an obvious locus - the perfection of morality and, as will be relevant, knowledge - God. God is defined as all-knowing (omniscient), all-loving (omnibenevolent) and all-powerful (omnipotent).

    That god isn't seen as all-wise is a big hint as to the nature of wisdom and how it differs from knowledge. The former is, as I mentioned earlier, about how does one know? and the latter is what does one know?.

    The distinction between the two can be summed up with the quote:
    If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” — Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie

    The fish stands for knowledge (what does one know?) and the art of fishing is wisdom (how does one know?)

    God's omniscience makes wisdom obsolete (for God that is) because being all-knowing, god doesn't need a method of discovering knowledge. God knows everything. Period. End of story. It must be that wisdom exists in an environment of partial or total ignorance for on such occasions it becomes imperative that we have a tried and true method of discovering knowledge and that's to say getting our hands on a method that's the answer to the question, "how does one know?" becomes critical when we're working in domains with some unknowns. In the simplest sense wisdom is the ability to be perfect or, negatively, to be least imperfect, in terms of understanding and responding to situations that involve gaps in our knowledge.

    Coming to the issue of morality, why is it that omnibenevolence is mentioned separately as a divine attribute? Doesn't goodness follow naturally from knowledge? Isn't omnibenevolence a necessary consequence of omniscience? If the answers to the questions posed is "yes" then there's no need to mention omnibenevolence as a distinct attribute of god and there's a necessary connection between goodness and knowledge in the sense if one is knowledgeable, one is inevitably also good. Perhaps the answer is "no" - knowledge doesn't always lead to goodness - and thus the need to mention goodness (omnibenevolence) over and above knowledge (omniscience) but this situation could've arisen simply because we ourselves, in our ignorance, fail to see how knowledge and goodness share a deep connection. Given that we don't have this piece of information, the wisest thing to do would be to mention omnibenevolence as divine quality in addition to omniscience. This is wisdom in action - given our ignorance on the matter and given we want a "better future" as you said, this is the wisest of all possible actions.
  • Todd Martin
    139
    @TheMadFool Excellent question! Does knowledge necessarily conduce to what is good (and I admit I have paraphrased what you actually said)?

    And the obvious answer is no, it doesn’t, and a multitude of examples appear before my mind...

    Who knows best how to forge strong works of iron or steel? Is it not the blacksmith? Yet he is also the one who knows best how to compromise the integrity of his product, and cause seemingly sturdy rails or tresses or cables to collapse...

    Who knows best how to cut the meat of a pig or cow? Is it not the butcher? But he is also the one, because of his knowledge, who knows just how to deliver the inferior parts of the carcass as though they were “high on the hog” to unsuspecting customers...

    Finally (to cut short a series of examples that might stretch to eternity), who best knows how to heal a sickly body? Is it not the physician? But he is also the one most adept at poisoning me, for who knows more about poison than a doctor?
  • TheMadFool
    8.4k
    Does knowledge necessarily conduce to what is good (and I admit I have paraphrased what you actually said)?

    And the obvious answer is no, it doesn’t, and a multitude of examples appear before my mind...
    Todd Martin

    Two words, one person, "Immanuel Kant". I was on another thread titled 'Freedom And Duty" started by @tim wood on Kantian ethics. What a lucky coincidence!

    Kant, to the extent that I'm aware, set out to put ethics on a solid rational foundation that prescribes duties, the failure to fulfill them entailing a logical contradiction based on our values, the things we hold dear like life, truth, personal property, dignity, and whathaveyou.

    It appears that there is a profound relationship between omniscience and omnibenevolence. The former, recognizing what humans value and also being perfectly rational, inexorably progresses to the latter, Kantian in character, a moral system in which immoral = irrational. Is it just another coincidence that the decalog is deontic in spirit and in letter? :chin:
  • Possibility
    1.8k
    Why is omniscience recognising only what humans value, only logical rationality? Kantian ethics is constructed within a limited human perspective of value, based on the primacy of human life, logical statements of truth, human and commercial property, human dignity, etc. But Kant was still bound by pre-Darwinian limitations of perspective - we are not. Kantian aesthetics points to the possibilities of increasing awareness, connection and collaboration beyond this perspective of ‘logical’ or ‘moral’ through the faculty of judgement. The faculty of imagination extends beyond what is ‘logical’, the faculty of understanding extends beyond what is ‘moral’, and the faculty of judgement extends beyond what is ‘pleasing’. This is how we gain wisdom.
  • Brett
    3k


    I like this post very much. Thanks for persevering. I have one thing I need to clarify.

    Perhaps the answer is "no" - knowledge doesn't always lead to goodness - and thus the need to mention goodness (omnibenevolence) over and above knowledge (omniscience)TheMadFool

    This is because the wisest choice is to say goodness exists and must be added to God’s omniscience, because what other than goodness would benefit us? So we must chose goodness.

    Or by adding goodness to God’s knowledge we then determine that goodness, being an attribute of God knowledge, must be a truth to live by.
  • TheMadFool
    8.4k
    This is because the wisest choice is to say goodness exists and must be added to God’s omniscience, because what other than goodness would benefit us? So we must chose goodness.Brett

    Given that morality has been key to the apparently fragile peace among people, tribes, cultures, nations and other social entities, it's the low-hanging fruit and thus the obvious choice when it comes to finding a interim measure to forge and sustain peaceful coexistence and peaceful coexistence is what we all have in mind when we say "better future", right? It's quite evident when you approach it from that angle why we've chosen goodness for a "better future" as it were.
  • Brett
    3k


    I have a bit of a problem with how we may have known what good was. Is good the result of morality, or is morality the result of goodness?

    For morality I see it as when faced with an ethical decision about what one should do then the answer is the morality.

    One of these, goodness or morality, contributed to our wellbeing and success as a community. Unless you think they’re the same.
  • TheMadFool
    8.4k
    Is good the result of morality, or is morality the result of goodness?Brett

    Morality is our understanding of good and bad. Goodness is just one side of this coin (of morality).

    Understanding morality, in our case, doesn't always lead to goodness but this may reflect misunderstanding rather than true understanding. If Kant is right, if one really grasps what morality means in terms of what our values are, immorality (bad) is, at its core, irrationality. That's to say, goodness is a mark of a rational mind and badness is, simply put, illogical.
  • Brett
    3k


    That's to say, goodness is a mark of a rational mindTheMadFool

    Yes, because we can imagine consequences, something happening in the future.
  • TheMadFool
    8.4k
    Yes, because we can imagine consequences, something happening in the future.Brett

    :up: Remember about how I said Kant views immorality as irrationality. There's another side to the story though. For certain you must've heard someone saying, "he's so naive" words with which they refer to someone innocent and by logical extension someone incapable of, or unlikely to, resort to immorality. This pronouncement that people who are good are naive i.e. foolish or oblivious to the ways of the world suggests that all is not well with our planet but, most importantly, this opinion is at odds with Kant's view that to be immoral is irrational. If people who pass such comments are to be believed, it's irrational to be moral.

    However, this particular brand of criticism leveled against goodness can be interpreted as an attempt to err on the side of caution rather than fall for every trick in the book of morally-bankrupt folks and put oneself in danger.

    Too, treating goodness as a trait only a village idiot would possess (goodness is irrational) overlooks the fact that the very existence of people who think and talk this way wholly depends on the goodness they have a dim view of. Just saying.
  • Todd Martin
    139
    @TheMadFool how does your response to my last post follow from what I said? The question was whether knowledge conduces to the good, and I gave examples of how it could lead to good or evil, identifying three examples of ppl with certain sorts of knowledge, and pointing out how they could use their particular knowledge for either good or evil.

    I will give another example: knowledge of nuclear fission can be used to deliver electricity to the masses, or blow them to smitherines.

    Assume I am unacquainted with Kant or “the decalog” or deontics, am just an ordinary inquisitive soul offering what comes most naturally from his ordinary experience to the question: do you deny that the man knowledgeable in a particular sphere is the one who is able to do evil as well as good in it? Can you think of any field of knowledge in which this is not true? If you cannot, how can you believe that knowledge conduces to the good?
  • TheMadFool
    8.4k
    You're talking of knowledge in a narrow sense - a particular speciality like nuclear physics is knowledge alright but it isn't the kind of knowledge wisdom is associated with. A wise person isn't confined to specific disciplines but has a fair if not complete grasp of all that can be known and the hope is that with such a broad understanding of the world, fae will provide the best possible answer/solution to the questions/problems that the world has to deal with.
  • Pantagruel
    1.2k
    I like Aristotle's description of wisdom. We regard as wise the man who can grasp things which are difficult, not easy, to comprehend.
  • Todd Martin
    139
    @TheMadFool You say that “a wise person isn’t confined to specific disciplines but has a fair if not complete grasp of all that can be known...” Would you say then that a good analogy to him would be the decathlete, who, performing “fairly” well in several track and field endeavors, by combining his ability in each comes out superior in the skill of the total endeavor we call “track and field” to all those specialists in it, the sprinters and long-distance runners; the putters of the shot and discus throwers; the long- and high-jumpers? Would you say the decathlete comes off superior to all these specialists by being, as it were, second-best to them in their specialties?—but by combining his inferior skill in each into a sort of comprehensiveness, embracing all particular athletic endeavors under one head, proves superior in the overall category “athletics”?

    Likewise the wise man, knowing a lot about a lot of different things, though not as much as the specialists in their particular fields, comes off superior to them: he knows less about medicine than the doctor, less about farming than the farmer; but because he knows so much about so many things he proves superior to all the others because of the BREADTH of his knowledge...

    Is the wise man the “decathlete” of knowledge?
  • TheMadFool
    8.4k
    You say that “a wise person isn’t confined to specific disciplines but has a fair if not complete grasp of all that can be known...” Would you say then that a good analogy to him would be the decathlete, who, performing “fairly” well in several track and field endeavors, by combining his ability in each comes out superior in the skill of the total endeavor we call “track and field” to all those specialists in it, the sprinters and long-distance runners; the putters of the shot and discus throwers; the long- and high-jumpers? Would you say the decathlete comes off superior to all these specialists by being, as it were, second-best to them in their specialties?—but by combining his inferior skill in each into a sort of comprehensiveness, embracing all particular athletic endeavors under one head, proves superior in the overall category “athletics”?Todd Martin

    I couldn't have put it better. Wisdom exists only in an environment of imperfection, imperfections of knowledge (varying levels of ignorance), imperfections in methods of gaining knowledge (uncertainties regarding logic, observational methods, etc.), imperfections of a personal nature (hang ups, biases, habits, etc) and others.

    Is the wise man the “decathlete” of knowledge?Todd Martin

    More or less, yes.

    Notice that once we have comprehensive knowledge on an issue. all that remains to be done is to mechanically apply the rules of logic - even a simple desktop computer can manage that. It's when unknowns are a part of the game we're playing that there's a high, almost desperate, demand for wisdom for wisdom is the ability to function, and function well, given uncertainty and gaps in our knowledge and function in the sense arrive at the best of all possible solutions/answers to problems/questions given existing constraints.
  • Todd Martin
    139
    @TheMadFool Let me see if I understand what you are saying about wisdom and the wise man. He is needed when our knowledge fails, when we are uncertain as to what is true and false; for example, when the doctors don’t agree on a diagnosis? Is that the sort of situation you are referring to? or the medical researchers are unsure how to interpret their findings? then they ought to call in the wise man to interpret them for them?

    Likewise, when the trainers and dietitians disagree as to how to properly exercise or feed a body, the wise man ought to be called in to set them straight?

    Similarly, concerning the things of the soul, when the judges disagree how they ought to judge and punish or reform the citizenry, the wise man is called in, just as he is when the teachers are not certain what or how to teach, and the politicians are not sure what laws to legislate? Is this the idea of the wise man you are promoting, or something else?
  • jgill
    985
    A wise person isn't confined to specific disciplines but has a fair if not complete grasp of all that can be known and the hope is that with such a broad understanding of the world, fae will provide the best possible answer/solution to the questions/problems that the world has to deal with.TheMadFool

    A fictional character.
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