• Habermas and rationality: Who's being "unreasonable"?
    For Heidegger, overcoming metaphysics doesn't mean leaving it behind. Like Derrida, he recognizes that it is a matter of revealing what is left unsaid by metaphysics. Metaphysics is ontotheology, the twin features of the ontic, in the form of beings, and the theological, in the guise of the Being of beings, the manner of disclosure of beings as a whole. What metaphysics conceals is the establishment (and re-establishment) of the grounding of Beings as a whole in the uncanniness of the displacing transit of temporality. As long as there are beings there will
    be metaphysics.

    I understand this, mostly, having just read The Onto-Theological Constitution of Metaphysics and Iain Thompson's essay on this to help me out. But no, I was thinking the way Heidegger described this "place" of the "suprasensory" as the object of Nietzsche's intended target of his God Is Dead episode in The Gay Science. Not what is called "Heidegger's Nietzsche" that claims Nietzsche to be a metaphysician despite his insistence to the contrary.
  • A poll regarding opinions of evolution
    I can very much respect this point of view in certain respects - especially when it comes to interpretations such as those of Social Darwinism. Nevertheless, I could present the case that the metaphorical bouncer at the bar is the constraints of objective reality itself, such that that life with is most conformant to objective reality (else least deviates from its requirements) will remain present to the world. But I'm not sure if this very abstract way of thinking about evolution is a worthwhile avenue to here investigate - especially since it makes use of the notion of an objective world which, on its own, can be a very slippery thing to identify. Yet tentatively granting this, it will be true that the possibilities of what can be will be qualitatively indeterminant, but this only in so far as these myriad possibilities nonetheless yet sufficiently conform to objectivity. Hence, as one physiological example, why there has never been an animal with binocular vision whose eyes are vertically (rather than horizontally) aligned: such positioning would be contrary to the objective world's constraint of needing to optimally detect stimuli against the horizon (best short example I could currently think up).javra

    Constraints on reality itself is an interesting thought. I imagine genetic research will one day be able to determine if DNA and its molecular combinatory possibilities has such a limit. I imagine AI will one day be able to say whether or not a binoculared animal would be possible, that is, whether it is conceivable that there be a genetic counterpart to the physical idea of being binocular. I can't see why not, though this would be something only occurring in an environment that allowed for such a thing to manifest, that is, once the series of genetic accidents leads to a generational tendency, and this tendency is further encouraged by the survival advantages it produces, sure; why not? AI could do this is a lab in some future world in which the human genome is mastered and surpassed?

    Just a bit of musing, but I think the matter would have to be framed not in terms of actual familiar environmental conditions we that evolution deals with in trying understand our own evolved constitution, but in terms of what is molecularly possible for the self replicating DNA. This, I suspect, has no limits, though this would be for a geneticist to say.

    Very true. I nevertheless yet find natural selection to be very intertwined with much of the human phenotype, behavioral as well as physiological. As an undergraduate I did some independent research (with human participants) regarding the evolutionary history of human non-verbal communication via facial expressions. Specifically, back then there was a prevalent notion among ethologists and cognitive scientists alike that the human smile evolved from out of the primate fear-grimace (in short, we smile so as to show fear and thereby appease those we smile to, taking away presumptions of aggression, and thereby reinforcing friendships). The experiments I conduced gave good reason to support the conclusion that our human smile evolved from the primate play-face (in short, an exposing of weapons (for primates these being teeth and esp. canines) in playful mock-aggression—basically, this with the intent of expressing “I’ve got you’re back” when done not as a laugh but as a sincere smile). The details will not be of much use here (though I relish them), but the issue remains: either way, our human smile (and, for that matter, all our basic and universally recognizable human facial expressions) evolved from lesser primate facial expressions, and together with the expressions so too the emotions thereby expressed. Although this does not play into human’s far superior magnitudes of cognition, it does illustrate just how intimately many a defining feature of being human is associated with our biological past from which we’ve evolved as a species. Hard to think of a more prototypically cordial human image than that of a smiling face.javra

    Or that of a tortured face, on the noncordial side of it. Weird to keep in mind that our conception of what the "smile" was way back before it evolved into what it is now is an interpretative imposition produced by our current phase or order of evolvement. One way that confounds this conversation about evolution is to see that whatever we say, we ourselves are doing so from a position of endowed evolved features, which will move on as the geologic ages do (unless, as I suspect will happen, AI takes the steering wheel away from evolution and replaces it with genetic engineering. Talk about everything changing!). Our very thinking about things has no privileged pov on access to "objective" statements about what is the case in the world. Not that the smile did not undergo its transformation as you are convinced it did, or that this is not a good theory. It is deeper than this. Thinking itself and the meanings of things is IN the evolved hard wiring, so being right and being a good theory simply issues from this. Odd to say this, perhaps, but to think the idea of evolution rigorously, following through, leads only to one place, which is a radical relativity and hermeneutics.

    But that aside, I think the face is a window to the soul. Truly and no kidding. But this is not a ridiculous religious idea learned in catechism. It comes out of a proper analysis of our existence. Long story, though. I think of that smile, and I am led to joy, pleasure, eustasy, bliss, and all the rest, behind it. I think overt features are incidental. One has to drop the physicalism and make the move toward the psyche, and its evolution.
  • Habermas and rationality: Who's being "unreasonable"?
    Habermas himself called the process "transcendental-pragmatic."J

    Doing a bit of reading. Ill get back to you.
  • Habermas and rationality: Who's being "unreasonable"?
    I remember hearing a lecture by Rorty (early 2000's) He said something like - 'If life has a meaning it is to make things better for our descendants.' How would he provide justification? I tend to think that Rorty, despite the Irony and anti-metaphysics, was essentially a romantic figure.Tom Storm

    Never a romantic in, say, the transcendentalist (Emerson, et al) or Wordsworthian (Ode to Intimation of Immortality) way, for these are, in their own way, metaphysicians, not simply dwelling on the joy an rapture of the world, but elevating this to a higher order of existence, the suprasensory world. But he did move to teaching literature, later on, and yes, he was certainly no cold impassionate detached intellect (not like he wasn't trying, though). My thoughts on the matter are tough to say. Rorty and the pragmatists are right, I think, the "forward looking" view of our existence. But I have rather radical views on ethics: value is "given" (shown to us, as Wittgenstein put it) but its nature is transcendental. I am Rorty's opposite, really: loosely speaking, he says nothing is metaphysical. I say everything is metaphysical!
  • A poll regarding opinions of evolution

    Read the response. You may find some ground of agreement.
  • A poll regarding opinions of evolution
    Do you understand the role that natural selection plays in evolution, and that natural selection is not random?wonderer1

    Not entirely, no. But I would suggest an apriori argument, and as such has nothing to do with the nuances of evolutionary thinking, in the same way a philosophical critique of science has nothing to do with any particular science. Simply put, prior to ANY talk about how evolution is explained, there is the foundational concept in place, which is the random mutation of genes. Even if traits are produced and the survival of which is determined by nonrandom conditions, like the attractiveness of food or a sexual feature leading to overt behavior of choosing, comparing, and so on, this nonrandomness itself has its basis in randomness. Non randomness occurs within the more basic assumption of random events. At root what is determinative is the nature of traits themselves, and natural selection has nothing to do with these possibilities. An inquiry into the nature of human affectivity is not informed by the way generational groups' genetic and manifest features survive or disappear. They in fact DO survive and disappear, but this says nothing about what it is.
  • A poll regarding opinions of evolution
    That all evolution is in essence entirely accidental is a mischaracterization of evolution via natural selection. In short, NS is the favoring of certain varieties of lifeforms by natural constraints—such that this metaphorical favoring by Nature is itself not a matter of chance. The following is a more longwinded but robust explanation that to me amounts to the same:

    Natural selection is the differential survival and reproduction of individuals due to differences in phenotype. It is a key mechanism of evolution, the change in the heritable traits characteristic of a population over generations. Charles Darwin popularised the term "natural selection", contrasting it with artificial selection, which is intentional, whereas natural selection is not.

    Variation of traits, both genotypic and phenotypic, exists within all populations of organisms. However, some traits are more likely to facilitate survival and reproductive success. Thus, these traits are passed onto the next generation. These traits can also become more common within a population if the environment that favours these traits remain fixed. If new traits become more favored due to changes in a specific niche, microevolution occurs. If new traits become more favored due to changes in the broader environment, macroevolution occurs. Sometimes, new species can arise especially if these new traits are radically different from the traits possessed by their predecessors.

    The likelihood of these traits being 'selected' and passed down are determined by many factors. Some are likely to be passed down because they adapt well to their environments. Others are passed down because these traits are actively preferred by mating partners, which is known as sexual selection. Female bodies also prefer traits that confer the lowest cost to their reproductive health, which is known as fecundity selection.

    I do see the sense of this, of course. But my comment brought to light the "qualitative features of our existence": it seems right to say that genotypical "errors" that produce phenotypical features are affected by the actual behavior these features encourage and produce. If a gene, accidently modified in the process of meiosis, for, say, stronger muscles, is present in an offspring, and this exceeds the abilities of competitors in survival and reproduction, then the intentional acts of this organism will allow for this trait to dominate, and a new gene pool will arise, and on and on. So yes, it is not as if intent, will, even "choosing" and the like are absent from an analysis the evolutionary process simply because genotypical accidents or errors produce phenotypical tendencies.

    But this is not what I want to consider. Evolution dos not determine what it is that stands as a possibility for a manifest characteristic. It is like the bouncer at a bar, say, that denies admittance for some while denying others. The principle of acceptance or denial certainly is determinative, but, if you can stand the analogy, who comes forward seeking admittance is not at all determined at the front gate. Those possibilities are qualitatively indeterminate. So when evolutionists (and all reasonable people are. The point here steps beyond science) attempt to talk about what a human being is, they have nothing to say about the basic givenness that "made it past" the gate bouncer. Our ability to reason, feel, understand, experience the world in all its qualitative richness is a matter for analysis entirely beyond the reach of evolution in a qualitative analysis.
  • Habermas and rationality: Who's being "unreasonable"?
    I don't have philosophical background but you've concisely summarized a reaction I had to Rorty which I assumed might have been my lack of philosophical sophistication. How do you imagine Rorty might respond to this frame of his ideas? Surely it was put to him as it seems an obvious critique.Tom Storm

    Rorty, and I don't want to just throw names at you, so I won't, mostly, is postmodern, and this follows the critique of "modern" thinking that says it is not just the replacement of an old idea with a new, more reasonable one that will accomplish our philosophical search for a foundational theory. Rather, it is a flat out rejection of "the place" where these foundational ideas have their existence: metaphysics (in case you are interested, a great look at this comes from Heidegger's The Word of Nietzsche; God Is Dead, where he calls N a metaphysician because "will to power", he claims, is just a continuation of the "place" of metaphysics). To see the post modern move, think of metaphysics as a completely empty concept! As meaningless as 'ummgablgdt'. Just nothing at all. It is not only God and Christian platonism that goes down the drain, but the possibility itself of making sense of the context in which these occur. A really strong position, beyond Hume's atheism (or his ambiguity on the matter). Rorty said truth is propositional, and didn't believe in any metaphysics AT ALL. But consider how his thinking goes, and if you take the time to look at its simplicity, it is, well, a little more than just curious. Keep in mind that his favorite philosophers are Dewey, Heidegger and Wittgenstein, and that makes him....complicated. So truth belongs to propositions, but does this commit him to the rational structure of thought, like Kant, as the bottom line for understanding things at the basic level? No. For Rorty there IS no bottom line. Not turtles all the way down, for there is no sense at all in "down".

    He once presented the epistemological question, how does anything out there get in here? The more you think about something like this, the more you go a bit mad philosophically. We are all "scientists" and physicalists in our default orientation in the world, because of public education. Rorty was simply making clear that this model demonstrates nothing of the way knowledge claims, the foundational presupposition of everything! I may know there is a fence post over there, but one thing I do not know is how this knowledge is possible. An odd insight, to say the least, given how busy we are circulating through knowledge assumptions in our everydayness of affairs. Causality has NOTHING about it that is epistemic.

    So you get an idea of Rorty's epistemology. He doesn't have a meta-epistemology, you might say. He is not a meta-physicalist or a meta-anything. What about values, or "value"? He agrees that "cruelty is the worse one can do." But there are no metaphysical basics for this. Just ideas, that "are made, not discovered." Hume was not aware of the post modern philosophy that rose out of the 20th century's analytic and phenomenological lines of thinking. So he couldn't really understand what Rorty is on about. Hume never read Heidegger. How could he?
  • A poll regarding opinions of evolution
    Where did you get that impression?wonderer1

    Are you saying the random mutation of genes that leads to superior survival and reproduction is intentional in some way??
  • Habermas and rationality: Who's being "unreasonable"?
    The overriding idea here is we can only know what is ethical – what ought to be valued, what is worth valuing – by discovering whether certain procedural criteria can be fulfilled using the concept in question. For Kant, the criteria involved universalizability; for Rawls, they begin with fairness in an ideal “state of nature” situation (his Original Position). Habermas is in this tradition, and I’ve by no means mastered his theory of communicative action, which is complicated and has a lot of “rules of discourse.” But it is also procedural in that ethical values follow rationally from an understanding of what rationality itself is. And remember, for Habermas this understanding is not merely strategic or contextual.J

    But what is missing from these procedural criteria is the one that does not sit apart from the existential engagement. Kant wrote that judgment that is motivated by desire cannot be moral. I argue that desire is the one true authentic motivation, desire, that is, that arises from the "pure pathos" or "pure affectivity" of ethical decision making ("pure" stands in need of elucidation. The thinking here comes from Michel Henry's phenomenology). Outside of this is pragmatics. Procedural ethics spelled out in terms of utility or duty are inherently amoral, turning the tables on the likes of Kant and Mill. Rawls made a good case, I thought, for a system that gives to the least advantaged based on self interest, but this is not what ethics IS. Kant was right about the "good will" but to determine such a thing as a rational rational agency is absurd. What makes a good will must issue from the ethical/aesthetic (Wittgenstein thought these to be the same. He was right) "good". Of course, if the notorious "good" and "bad" (thinking here along the lines of G E Moore's non natural property) were not so massively divergent in their affective prescriptions, rationalism in ethics would be entirely superfluous. But my point is that because people's sense of what is valuable do not align with one another in often radical ways, a rational procedural ethics, like Habermas' (I have a vague understanding. I read him once) tries to find what is not so ambiguous to do the work of settling things, reducing ethics to principles. But this, I think I mentioned above, makes the procedure of ethics pragmatic, a working out of how to explain and convince, but, and this is an important point, this only replaces what failed in the original ethical problematic, which is the response of care, the "originary" procedural ethical remedy to issues where value is in play.

    “the conclusions that Rorty and Derrida draw” from the failure of more traditional rationalist projects.)J

    Just to mention, after reading Caputo's Tears of Jacque Derrida and Derrida's Violence and Metaphysics, I am convinced Derrida takes the matter considerably further than Rorty. Not sure I can explain this. Derrida deals in metaphysics, meaning he talks about it like Levinas does, and this really goes to the discussion of ethics I find important. Levinas "face" of the Other is the kind of nonrational ethical foundation talk I think is right. I don't think Rorty takes Levinas seriously.

    I know, there’s always the temptation to urge a kind of radical freedom, including freedom from the constraints of rationality. But Habermas is trying to make that position even less appealing. To commit a performative contradiction isn’t merely illogical, it also begins the process of cutting you off from community, and communication. I suppose the challenge from radical freedom can simply be repeated ad infinitum – So what if I go a little mad? So what if no one listens to me? So what if . . . -- but I think we enter somewhat fantastical territory at that point.J

    I don't think crazy people are irrational. They just work in a world of nontypical challenging circumstances. Behavior cannot be irrational, I would argue. It may be deemed irrational, but this is according to a standard of general understanding that never witnesses the true problem solving matrix at work.
    Fantastical territory? Assuming the norms that are the cultural features of a society, then yes, one can wildly violate those norms. I wonder, does LGBTQ count as this?

    You mentioned Wittgenstein and ethics. Do you have the time to say more about his views? I haven’t read his Lecture on Ethics. Is the idea that values would not be found among the facts about the world?J

    See the Tractatus: ethics is transcendental. The world is mystical. Russell though he was a mystic and Wittgenstein said goodbye. Why did he think like this about ethics? Because ethics deals with value, and value is impossible to talk about AS value. What makes something good or bad in ethics? It is not like a good couch or a bad knife. These are contingent goods and bads, and one can talk about sharpness, balance, comfort, etc. But ethics, this is off the charts: put your finger under a lit match for a few seconds. NOW you understand the prohibition against doing this to others. Nothing rational about this. It is not an attitude or an opinion. This is, if you will, IN the presence of the world.

    I am a moral realist, based on this reasoning.
  • Habermas and rationality: Who's being "unreasonable"?
    Now Habermas asserts that, within rationality, (at least) two stances create performative contradictions. One is (borrowing from Rawls) the “first-person dictator” stance, in which I claim that trying to get my own way, as far as possible, is a perfectly rational position. The second is the familiar “free rider” stance, in which I claim that there is nothing contrary to reason in my letting everyone else do some necessary task that is difficult or tedious and requires near-total communal participation; my absence won’t be noticed, and I’ll get the benefit of the results.J

    A few things, but starting here: A rationalist position like Habermas' has to discover first the universality of rational judgment, and regarding ethical affairs, this gets very messy, for such affairs are not logical constructions but refer to the world, and the world is not reducible to this, facts, that is. I am reminded of Wittgenstein's refusal to talk about ethics: it is not because of the dignity of logic put at risk, but that of value and ethics, for these are not to be found in the factual states of affairs (see that big book of all things in his Lecture on Ethics).

    Kant's rationalism is egregiously mistaken in its failure to recognize the non rational nature of ethics as, the value at stake. Value is the essence of ethics, I mean, it is such that were it to be removed from an ethical issue, the issue itself would simply vanish.

    But Habermas is like Rorty and his insistence on the "solidarity" of our existence, yet not really having this solidarity evidenced in his basic philosophy; just the opposite: truth is made not discovered, he writes in Irony, Contingency and Solidarity. From whence comes this allegiance to reason given that reason itself, as Hume said long ago, has no ethical content, no content at all. Reason as such would just as soon wipe out all humanity without flinching. No, it is not reason that compels one, for, putting it plainly, who cares what reason says, for it has always been in the service of value. So what, I commit a performative contradiction. Am I a piano key? asks Dostoyevsky.
  • A poll regarding opinions of evolution
    I must say this is a cop-out somehow more ridiculous than the "God made the Big Bang then pissed off".Lionino

    Worse than this. Before one is a deist, one has to affirm that world was made by God at all, then one is stuck with defining terms, terms like 'god' and divine will of intent (for what is creation without intent?), the conditions of creation that are otherworldly (certainly God did not create as we do, out of wood and steel and electronics.

    The point is prior to complaining about something absurd, one has to see that the absurdity assumes a more fundamental absurdity, a metaphysical one: Is one even making any sense at all in the question? A bit like complaining that the measurements for a flat earth lack symmetry, or the like.
  • A poll regarding opinions of evolution
    I'm really curious what the thinkers here think of evolution.flannel jesus

    Then I invite you to consider that evolution is in essence entirely "accidental". The randomness of the mutation of genes that bring about an organism's constitution that may or may not encourage survival or reproduction has no "evolutionary dimension" to it, and so to talk about human existence in terms of evolution is to say only that whatever we are, it is simply fortunate enough to have survived and reproduced through the geological ages.

    There is nothing beyond this that evolution can speak to regarding qualitative features of our existence, and therefore evolution is not at all a useful tool of discovery as to the nature of what we really "are". This is good news for those who want to take issue with the scientific reductionism that plagues our understanding of what it means to be human. Evolution is vacuous at doing so.
  • Camus misunderstood by prof John Deigh?
    and not essays about philosophy in the proper sense of the technique.javi2541997

    I think existentialism and phenomenology are terms that overlap. Heidegger didn't like the term, I don't think Sartre objected. But the whole movement was an attempt to return to existence from rationality as a grounding for philosophy. You might find the way Heidegger originally puts this in Being and Time. A brief passage:

    By this time we can see phenomenally what falling, as fleeing, flees in the face of. It does not flee in the face of entities within-the-world; these are precisely what it flees towards—as entities alongside which our concern, lost in the “they”, can dwell in tranquillized familiarity. When in falling we flee into the “at-home” of publicness, we flee in the face of the “not-at-home”; that is, we flee in the face of the uncanniness which lies in Dasein—in Dasein as thrown Being-in-the-world, which has been delivered over to itself in its Being. This uncanniness pursues Dasein constantly, and is a threat to its everyday lostness in the “they”, though not explicitly.

    You don't have to have read Being and Time to get the basic idea. Dasein is our human existence. When we go about our daily affairs so thoughtlessly, it is as if those affairs are blindly carried out and run themselves. Heidegger calls this verfallun, our throwness and lostness in the world, this just going-along never stopping to "resolutely" determine our own destiny. Lost in the "they" as we get caught up in "idle talk, curiosity and ambiguity." When one is in this sort of default condition of existing, one is fleeing AWAY from what one really IS. And this is freedom and awareness. When one becomes aware of one's freedom, one no longer can be a mere player on a stage, for the performance has now lost its spontaneity. The question (the piety of thought!) undoes one's "tranquilized" existence of just going along.

    See where Heidegger gives nihilism itself analysis:

    The saturation of existence by nihilative behavior testifies to the
    constant though doubtlessly obscured manifestation of the
    that only anxiety originally reveals. But this implies that
    the original anxiety in existence is usually repressed. Anxiety is
    there. It is only sleeping. Its breath quivers perpetually through
    Dasein, only slightly in those who are jittery, imperceptibly in the
    “Oh, yes” and the “Oh, no” of men of affairs
    ; but most readily in
    the reserved, and most assuredly in those who are basically

    Heidegger had little interest in the world in which people were not very aware of their own existence. Those who are, he calls "daring." Sound familiar? See what Kierkegaard said a hundred years earlier:

    Innocence is ignorance. In innocence the human being is not characterized as spirit but is psychically characterized in immediate unity with its natural condition. Spirit is dreaming in the human being. This view fully accords with that of the Bible which, by denying that the human being in its innocence has knowledge of the difference between good and evil,* condemns all Catholicism’s fantasies concerning [Adam’s] merit.15 In this state there is peace and repose, but at the same time there is something else, something that is not dissension and strife, for there is nothing against which to strive. What, then, is it? Nothing. But what effect does nothing have? It begets anxiety. This is the profound secret of innocence, that at the same time it is anxiety. Dreaming, spirit projects its own actuality, yet this actuality is nothing, but innocence always sees this nothing outside itself.

    What Heidegger calls repressed, sleeping, Kierkegaard calls dreaming. Camus had read all of this, of course. It is in the way the "nothing" is treated that makes all the difference. Raise one's head out of the sand of mindless participation, and realize that one is there, thrown into existence, and indeterminacy all around, saturating being in the world, here lies absurd faith, or absurd pessimism. Camus wants to treat this as a true nothing, but he just doesn't see that this not possible, literally. Why? because one literally has never even witnessed this nihilism, one is NEVER free from what Heidegger called attunement: the affectivity of judgment, the caring. There has never been witnessed a true nihilism. Such a thing is just an abstraction from the palpable world of valuing things. Even as the self proclaimed nihilist announces her position, she stands in a performative contradiction, caring as she does about the very saying.
  • Camus misunderstood by prof John Deigh?
    I always threw out ethics with reason and truth and all the rest that was suspended and upended by the existentialists, and I paid less attention to whatever ethics were recovered and more attention to what wisdom or truth could be recovered. Ethics was like their vehicle for delivering metaphysics and secondary to me.Fire Ologist

    AS I try to argue, before one can talk about the nature of ethics, one has to first observe actual ethical cases: what makes something ethical at all! It is not the rules, as Kierkegaard thought, for rules are in practical matters as well, I mean, there is nothing of what ethics is in a rule or principle. It must be somewhere else that we find "the ethical" in these daily affairs (for at this point there is no metaphysical assumption in place). What remains is the good and the bad. It is such an odd thing to say in this climate of confidence in natural science, but there is a metaethical dimension of ethics. The ethical "good"?? What IS this? This is nothing to someone like Camus, and I dare say most people who think such matters through, these days.

    There is a nihilism that runs through popular culture because those who give this culture its voice, our intelligencia, are devoid of metaethical understanding, for ethics cannot be "seen". Pain, being bad, is not, in its badness, observed like one observes a cup or a lamp shade. The badness is all the same there, what G E Moore called a non natural property.

    To understand Camus, one needs to see what he is NOT. And he is not a metaphysician. He's just a very talented naturalist.
  • Camus misunderstood by prof John Deigh?
    The notion of "suffering" makes sense as a uniting theme, even if there are more joyful existentialists (or, if we prefer, post-existentialists -- thinking Derrida and Levinas now more than categorical classifications)Moliere

    When you mentioned Levinas and Derrida, my thoughts went to exactly the place where this issue is expressed so well, if mysteriously, as you can expect with someone like Levinas. It is this essay by Derrida called Violence and Metaphysics and it is a kind of review by Derrida of Levinas' Totality and Infinity. This issue is the way Levinas labors to explain this impossible impasse that occurs when inquiry confronts metaethical boundaries. One has to hold on tight for a discussion that wants to go where language's possiblities have no place, which is, as Levinas puts it, "prior to the unveiling of Being in general, as the basis of knowledge and meaning of Being, there is a relation with the extant which is expressed; before the ontological level, the ethical level.: Derrida concludes, "Ethics is therefore metaphysics. The absolute overflowing of ontology----as the totality and unity of the same: by the other occurs as infinity because no totality can constrain it."

    Levinas finds the moral dimension in our existence in the encounter with the other person, the face that reveals "what cannot be an object or a simple 'objective reality'. Philosophy cannot forget that we exist, says Kierkegaard, and our existence is the setting for ethical experiences. Camus' biggest trouble lies with his own lack ethical experience. He would simply say to Levinas, What "Other" are you talking about? because he doesn't understand anything beyond what is in plain sight, and what is in plain sight has NO Other. E.g., the Arab nurse in The Stranger "has a bandage wrapped around her face, which has no nose; she is virtually faceless."

    I think Camus' absurd is a manifestation of his plain, journalistic psychological constitution. Ethics is NOTHING in this plain description of our affairs. Ethics is literally nothing without metaphysics and Camus simply notes this to be the case. This is Levinas' point. I would add that Wittgenstein knew this, too. The world and ethics is "mystical" for him. Ethics is transcendental in its essence.
  • Camus misunderstood by prof John Deigh?
    It is very strange how some people consider Kierkegaard a nihilist. When I read this OP, I decided to search for information to back up my points, and surprisingly, Kierkegaard appeared as an example of a nihilist. Very disappointed with this! I think K was a lover but pessimistic about how Christianity was ruling in Denmark. In his diary, K confessed he was a true Lutheran. If he was that religious and a believer in faith, how could some people label him as a nihilist? For a nihilist, life is meaningless and there is no despair about choosing the right decision because everything is pretty absurd (as Camus points out).javi2541997

    One of the basic tenets of Christianity has always been that the world is essentially evil. Buddhists think like this as well if you accept suffering as evil. I don't know of any other way to define evil than this. Most want to reserve the term for describing behavior, but then, it begs the question, what is it about bad behavior that makes it evil? One has to then turn to the world and its human and animal afflictions. But the concept of evil in the biblical sense raises suffering to metaphysics. Our familiar term of things being merely bad seems without controversy, but call it evil, and we are taken into a new order of things. This is Moby Dick's Ahab's world---recall how it is not the white whale that is the object of Ahab's revenge, but what lies behind it, the unnamable source that is being itself that belongs to eternity.

    I bring this up so as to identify the nature of metaphysical nihilism. Ahab was not a nihilist, for he affirmed the meta-status of our familiar term, the (aesthetic/ethical) bad. He blamed God; after all, the whale that embodies the evil was God's color (in standard thinking), white, and the sea is abyssal, like eternity. Were Ahab an ethical nihilist, he would have just gone for a swim, for the ocean is just water and there is no higher order of things. But what of the leg viciously torn off? How can the nihilist simply ignore this dimension of human existence? Ahab was right to complain. It is Camus who misses the point: One CANNOT be this kind of nihilist that Camus boasts about, because this is not a genuine response to the fundamental problematic of our existence. We are thrown into existence to suffer and die and this comes to us in an interpretative vacuum, to hang in space without a peg. One, I argue, has to look very close at this, because it is there to find that suffering INSISTS on a remedy with the same doxastic insistence one finds in logic, apodicticity, that is, the necessity of a metaphysical remedy. This is something even Kierkegaard does not argue.

    On the other hand, I personally believe that a true nihilist doesn't recognize the existence of a sacred authority. For example, the quote of 'without God, everything is permitted' by Vania Karamazov. This phrase is wrongly connected to nihilism, but what Dostoevsky goes beyond just that.javi2541997

    I agree. Philosophical nihilism refers to the absence of an absolute in our visible affairs. This not only is compatible with metaphysical ethical affirmation, it is the basis for validating such affirmation. Only in the presence of the world's miseries do we discover the need to overcome.(Of course, Camus adores this kind of rationalization, which seems to him blatantly indefensible.)

    What I attempt to say is that while K and D are true existentialists for dealing with ethical dilemmas, Camus is a nihilist because he doesn't bother to debate about this issue.javi2541997

    Well, the reason the word existentialism caught on lies where Kierkegaard responded to Hegel by saying the latter had, in his radical rationalism, forgotten that one exists, thereby turning all attention to the distance between reason and the world. See how this is so well played out in Sartre's Nausea in which the world of existing things are set loose from the meanings we have about them. The world is not bound to logical necessity. It CAN do anything, and logic wouldn't blink.

    Camus falls in line here. There is nothing rational about our existence. because existence is not rational. One is confronted by the question, is ethics rational in its essence? Kierkegaard said yes to this. They both, he and Camus, look to the world and one's existence in it.
  • Camus misunderstood by prof John Deigh?
    Again, there is plenty of room left to talk about ethics. But the backdrop, where Dionysian instinct for Nietzsche lives, where either/or matters and matters not the same, the abyss, where existence precedes…, where Sisyphus absurdly climbs again. Precise in its starkness, yet somehow setting the widest stage. I love that stuff.

    At this lonely place of separation, you build an ethics of authenticity, something intimately tied to a “self” and need foremost one’s lonely disconnected will, to chose, and only then be ethically.
    Fire Ologist

    Rather brilliantly put, Ologist. I, too, love this stuff. It is about our existence, and so all that is affirmed or denied has its validity in the "impossible" world that stands outside of language possibilities. Referring to the "metaphysics" of our existence, and this kind of things finds it objective expression in phenomenology.

    Here is where I might take issue, where you say,

    The OP drew a line between the metaphysical and the ethical components of existentialism, and leaned towards the metaphysical. I’ve been staying on this to highlight the metaphysical backdrop in which existential ethics sits. It has to be an ethics that addresses not only the fact of our reasons and choosing, but also the fact of the absurd.

    The metaphysics of the absurd is never a mere factual account because there is nothing absurd about facts. The absurd is essentially bound to value, the caring that there is this foundational indeterminacy in our existence. Why does one care at all? Caring is in the nature of the absurd, I mean, if there is no caring, there is no existential absurd. It is not about some division between the finite and the infinite, phenomena and noumena apart from the caring and valuing IN the friction between these. So as I see it, one has to look at the "fact" of the absurd in a different light, for the concept hangs on affectivity of caring.
    And this affectivity of caring is central to ethics, for one cannot imagine ethics without it. As in, one cannot be in an ethical issue regarding the killing of an arab on the beach if one simply does not care at all about killing the arab. Others may be very ethically engaged, but not this on, not Meursault, and this is part of Camus' point. His "metaethics" is an existence without caring, and therefore without the dimension of existence that drives ethics, value. Notice how little his protagonist cares, and how descriptions of his affairs are so lacking in vigor and excitement. This IS what kills the arab.

    One has to wonder how the metaphysics of absurdity by its own nature leads to this. Why not have Meursault blissfully engaged in everything? That smile on Sisyphus' face is disingenuous. To me Camus' perspective a reduction to his psychology. It lacks the ethical because the ethical can only survive if it is affirmed in metaphysics, and I think Camus would agree with this. Only Camus was simply a single-dimensioned person. He reminds me of Hemmingway, and going darker still, Baudelaire. javi2541997;895669 rightly brings in Dostoevsky and Kierkegaard. But it is not the objective fact of the absurd in play here, but the proposition that values, as Wittgenstein put, have no value (and Witt was a very interesting person. Passionate, like these others. He aligned with Kierkegaard in affirmation. Value has no value because one cannot SAY what value IS. Not because the world as such was absent of "value" like Camus).

    I guess I am saying that the metaphysics cannot be removed from the ethics. The question then is, if one is pursuing this, what does the "presence" of value-in-the-world mean? Wittgenstein aside, value is, after all, IN the world.
  • Camus misunderstood by prof John Deigh?
    quote="javi2541997;895669"]despair about life and choosing from it the values and principles by which one will live. I thought about other authors or thinkers. My opinion is that Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky can fit in the 'despair' of choosing the right code of conduct to live.[/quote]

    I appreciate the way you put this, the despair of choosing. I think to question that defines this unique despair is better expressed Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky than Camus. K and D understand that this is metaphysical despair, and they will not reduce this to psychology. Once one leaves the familiarity of plain events, like Meursault's mundane life that is enjoyed so mundanely (reading The Stranger and the way Camus presents his own values one gets a real feel of disappointment: it is an aesthetically deflationary account of life, not just an intellectually responsible rejection of unearthly spirituality, but a miserable pale abstraction from the fullness of living that spirituality brings, and by spirituality I certainly do not refer to churchy trivialities and religious superficialities. One must think as Emerson did, as he put it:

    TO go into solitude, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society.
    I am not solitary whilst I read and write, though
    nobody is with me. But if a man would be alone, let him look at the
    stars. The rays that come from those heavenly worlds, will separate
    between him and vulgar things. One might think the atmosphere was
    made transparent with this design, to give man, in the heavenly bodies,
    the perpetual presence of the sublime. Seen in the streets of cities, how
    great they are! If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years,
    how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations
    the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every
    night come out these preachers of beauty, and light the universe with
    their admonishing smile.

    Contrast a passage like this to this one Camus writes in Absurd Walls:

    ....absurdity. The absurd world more than others derives its nobility from that abject birth. In certain situations, replying “nothing” when asked what one is thinking about may be pretense in a man. Those who are loved are well aware of this. But if that reply is sincere, if it symbolizes that odd state of soul in which the void be-comes eloquent, in which the chain of daily gestures is broken, in which the heart vainly seeks the link that will connect it again, then it is as it were the first sign of absurdity. It happens that the stage sets collapse. Rising, streetcar, four hours in the office or the factory, meal, streetcar, four hours of work, meal, sleep, and Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday

    Not so much an argument, not a rigorous discursive analysis here. It is an appeal to an "encounter" with the world at the most basic level. And words literally, in the two cases above, construct what this is about. The French are notoriously pessimistic (Baudelaire comes to mind, and his flowers of evil) while Americans have a long history of Christian optimism.

    But for the matter to be more carefully presnted, I think your mentioning Kierkegaard is perfect. Not the rosy optimist nor a celebration of despair. But then, not a middle grounder either. There is no sign that K can do what Emerson could do and make a genuine "leap" toward affirmation. But note Emerson is not arguing! Like Camus, he is describing. Both he and Camus do not argue well. For this see Heidegger, who drew from K his description of human existential despair in anxiety. H's salvation comes from art.

    Just a few ideas I thought you might find interesting
  • Camus misunderstood by prof John Deigh?
    Once we realize the absurd, specific acts are never a “should” (so not really ethical). You can do anything or nothing at any time or all of the time. The sole quasi ethical component is merely realizing that whatever you do, if you think it is not ultimately absurd, you are doing it wrong.Fire Ologist

    I think "quasi-ethical" is probably where this lies. But then, if one is "doing it right," where is the standard to determine this? Certainly it is not self evident, for there is no "evidential standard" for anything. Nihilism is nothing across the board!

    It could be argued that the only evidence there is, is the world itself, and in this world things matter, as in being in love, avoiding guillotines (unlike poor Meursault). and the rest. But how, one asks Camus, does this world's ethics fail to register metaphysically?
  • Camus misunderstood by prof John Deigh?
    But to me it seems Camus is making no claims about what anyone should do. In my reading, Camus is making a metaphysical claim rather than ethical - the world IS absurd, regardless of what anyone thinks.
    Everything might seem stable and understandable until all of a sudden:

    "Of whom and of what indeed can I say: "I know that!" This heart within me I can feel, and I judge that it
    exists. This world I can touch, and I likewise judge that it exists. There ends all my knowledge, and the rest is construction. For if I try to seize this self of which I feel sure, if I try to define and to summarize it, it is nothing but water slipping through my fingers." (Ibid. p 7)

    And therefore, i suggest, Prof Deigh may have misunderstood Camus in a pretty drastic way. Am i right?
    Jussi Tennilä

    Nice OP. I thought everyone had forgotten about Camus since existentialism is so out of fashion. The fear Husserl had that modernism was leading to a loss of meaning, and Heidegger as well in his Concerning Technology essay (and "the they" that rules dasein's inauthenticity), I mean, they did see this coming, the flattening out of human existence to dull interest in "standing reserve" mentality toward the world. But to speak of Heidegger brings up the point you raise regarding the making of an metaphysical claim rather than an ethical one. One could argue that the two are not separable. After all, in The Stranger, Meursault may be indifferent to the affairs around him so important to others, but his indifference put him under the guillotine for murder. Isn't Camus telling us something about ethics: kill and arab, don't kill an arab, who cares? Metaphysical nihilism is after all metaethical nihilism. And it certainly can lead to bad consequences.
    Reading his essays, I am struck by the very conceptions of the absurd forged by the prose themselves: Camus is not arguing so much as constructing a rhetorical narrative out of what I would call "terms of despair". It is not an objective work, and one could claim not a metaphysical work either, for it is mostly a vivid exposition of the "mood" of metaphysical dispossession that occurs when one all religious hope is lost. See the way his prose works here:

    Men, too, secrete the inhuman. At certain moments of lucidity, the mechanical aspect of their gestures, their meaningless pantomime makes silly everything that surrounds them. A man is talking on the telephone behind a glass partition; you cannot hear him, but you see his incomprehensible dumb show: you wonder why he is alive. This discomfort in the face of man’s own inhumanity, this incalculable tumble before the image of what we are, this “nausea,” as a writer of today calls it, is also the absurd. Likewise the stranger who at certain seconds comes to meet us in a mirror, the familiar and yet alarming brother we encounter in our own photographs is also the absurd.

    Don't get me wrong, I think his writing is compelling, and he knows how to write persuasively, but what we are witnessing here is more psychological than philosophical.

    In my opinion Camus didn't understand our existence very well because he never understood metaethics.
  • Are there things that aren’t immoral but you shouldn’t want to be the kind of person that does them?
    Yep. Not sure what's being missed here, but for clarity (as this may meean me ignoring much of your response in light of this):

    - I understand this is what you are putting forward;
    - I also understand you are attempting to defend the thesis above;
    - I am of the view that you have entirely failed to do so, and that your entire position boils down to an arbitrary move. I figured I had been very clear about this, so it's possible I will need to continue pointing out where i Believe you are either ignoring me, or perhaps misunderstand if the above is how you're reading, currently.

    Well if you think I have entirely failed to do so, then I assume you have spoken clearly against this apriori argument of value and ethics stated several times. This is the first premise of the argument. You haven't done this. Just tell me how it is that ethics and value are not as I have argued? You haven't touched this.
    Wrong. It's not alien. It's incoherent.AmadeusD

    Well, you don't seem to getting something obvious, and very often those who have taken classes in anthropology or biology come out thinking they know something about philosophy, because they have opinions and textbooks. But philosophy deals with the analysis of the presuppositions that are found in familiar knowledge claims, not so much in those familiar knowledge claims themselves.

    Philosophy is not incoherent, but if you read it, something like Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, then I suspect it will sound alien to you. If you have actually read this, then you can borrow from the Kant's method of discovery to apply it here, for the same insight applies regard method. Take the ethical case, any will do. Ask yourself, what is in this case that were it to be removed from the case, the case would lose it meaning as ethical. This is value-in-being. This you have not even begun to do, despite all of your protestations to the contrary. And it is the essential feature! I don't get it. I hate to labor the point, but just don't be shy about it. Tell where this goes wrong if you want to send me packing.

    No. There isn't. ANd so far, you've don't nothing to defend this. All you've done is told me that I don't get it. I get it. It's wrong (is my position). It is a really common attempt to ensure one is making good decisions, based on some framework that isn't arbitrary. But, it is, at base. THe maths works. THe basis is false.AmadeusD

    This is a case in point. I think you think you have argued the point. But there is more to it than "No. There isn't." Apriority, what is this? Generally we associate this with the inviolability of logically structured propositions. Analytic propositions are apriori, but then vacuous in terms of content. But what if there is a palpable feature of the actual world that that demonstrates the apodicticity of apriority, that is universal and necessary? (And putting aside the argument that even logic is not air tight, so to speak. After all, logic is constructed IN language, and language cannot be shown to be apriori. That is a longer story).
    This is the fascinating thing about ethics. For there is G E Moore's "non natural" property that is an amazing part of this world. I invite you to read about this in his Principia Ethica. Easy to find on the internet. The issue is the notorious "good" of ethics. I can't remember if I talked about this already, but you have been so busy arguing against the obvious, I haven't had the chance.

    But you have to get to first base, first. All you have to do is say something like, Okay, if an ethical problem is divested of the value that is in play, as when I borrow a valued tool like an ax, keeping in mind that if the ax in question has value to the borrower and the owner, then the ethics of the case simply vanishes. You SEE this, don't you?? You should simply say yes, and be done with it. You protest too much, methinks.

    This, is also incoherent. You are presupposing that there is some objectivity about ethics to be found. There isn't, you've not provided anything that indicates there is other than the assertion. So, i'm left with not much to say.AmadeusD

    IT is not incoherent. The hard part hasn't even begun. By necessary and sufficient I am simply defining ethics. Not... what are you talking about? What are the necessary and sufficient condition for a circle? For a pizza? I am telling you about the procedure of discovering what it means for something to be ethical. All you have to do is say, well, this is not a necessary condition.... or a sufficient condition for such and such reasons. IS value a necessary condition or not, in defining ethics?? Just spill it.

    Err, no. That's an empirical fact. If you are taking this to be the case, either you're a hard-line physicalist or you're making things up to suit your position, me thinks. I did provide an out for the former. THe latter, not so much.AmadeusD

    I am just listening to you tell me what you think. By all means, disabuse me on what you hold to be the case. Sounds like you are somewhere in the vicinity of being a physicalist.

    No. Not in any way, and you have literally not even bothered to discuss my point. You have just reasserted some Nietzschean/Wittgensteinian misleading statements. It's poetics not philosophy so say pain is "in the world". Your mind is in the world, sure. If you want to ignore that part, have hte cake and Eat it.AmadeusD

    Your point about what the world is? Just say it. I'm listening.

    Yeah, but you're wrong. So, what are you trying to do here except just in other words restate your position with no argument? "in the world" is absolutely meaningless in these passages, as they are. It may be something you grasp in your mind, but you've not said anything that fills the empty vessel that phrase provides me.AmadeusD

    So "in the world" is the issue. What is in the world? In order address a question like this, it might be best to say what is not in the world, since most of what we can think of is unproblematically in the world, like dogs and cats and people and fence posts. But there is an problem that instantly arises: to speak of something not in the world is going to be an event IN the world. Speaking is IN the world. I don't think this is to be doubted. But one can speak OF things not in the world, can't one? The speaking in the world, the spoken of not in the world, like a unicorn. But the trouble with imagined things like this is that they comprise parts of real things, and so even though there are no unicorns, there are horses and horns. But why are these unproblematic? Because they are experienced in observation. BUt then, if this is a standard for being in the world, being observed, do we not observe an emotion? A pain? Not in the same way as we observe a fence post.

    A pain is "there" but has limited predicative possibilities. But does this dismiss it from the world? This is where you come in, I think. I don't think it can be argued that a pain isn't "there" at all. That is impossible. But it can be argued that a pain is not a physical object. But you would have show why only physical objects are allow to be both there AND in the world, while pain is not. Keeping in mind that if you are a physicalist, pain is at least given the status of being reducible to physicality. Though if you do this, you deprive the pain of its overt observable feature of being what it is. Nerve cells, c fibers, or however you would like to characterize a brain event, are not pain.

    Pain is often called a phenomenon, or an epiphenomenon by physicalists. But here is the rub: how is it that dogs and cats and the rest are not themselves phenomena? After all, the only thing a person can experience is a phenomenon. One cannot step outside of phenomena, for to do so would require a position outside of experience. This is never possible. Sorry, but this is Wittgenstein's idea.

    So "being in the world" I think, even if the matter comes down to understanding pain as a phenomenon along with all things, has some limited exposition here. Phenomena are in the world because they are there at all! And "being there" is sufficient.

    This is hte exact opposite, and it is now clear that you're not engaging with the Physicalist position I'm mentioning, and that you've misread what I've actually said.
    Your position could be supported in strict Physicalist terms. C-fibres firing would constitute pain on that account. You could then claim the pain exist in the world. But, if you're not taking that line, the move isn't open. My understanding of your position here is that you do not know what you're discussing very well, as these things are directly conflicting in your passages.

    Well, I haven't talked about anything except the argument about value and ethics. I haven't given you a single clue beyond affirming that pain is an inherent part of ethical statements that involve pain. If you want MY ontology just ask. See the preceding paragraphs. I read phenomenology. this is Kant through Derrida and beyond. What is real is phenomena. I only bring up physicality because you did, and I was surmising what you might think. Me? I am miles from this kind of naive thinking. C-fibres are themselves phenomenologically reducible to phenomena.

    This is a mere side-step of the clear distinction. It doesn't need answering, as the possible disagreement in this passage has been covered at least twice in this exchange: The mind is in the world. The Pain is in the mind. Claiming that your house is in (insert country) and nothing more doesn't help anyone locate it.AmadeusD

    So you're saying that saying something is somewhere, like a house, doesn't locate the house? Confusing, at best.

    Then you're flat-out wrong and I need not engage further. This is against the empirical understanding of what Pain is and how it operates.

    It also seems you've jettisonned most of your position now, instead giving me the basis for ethics as:

    Physical pain. Alrighty. I reject that. And we're good :)

    You are missing the point. It is not that pain cannot be medically of otherwise mitigated. Are you kidding? One cannot mitigate the pain qua pain by contextualizing pain. Let's say you have a choice between to terrible alternatives. Consider simple contingent conditions of a knife being a good one, sharp, balanced, etc. But use this knife for Macbeth, and the sharpness becomes bad. What if the real knife were used by accident? Then one could say the duller the knife the better. But the sharp knife being used could be mitigated if it were in fact dull. The point is that contingent values like Good sharp knives and Good comfortable couches, are not like the ethical Good. this Greek arete, standing for excellence is not suitable for ethics in this sense. Why? Because with pain, and dreadful pain makes the case more vividly, there is no mitigating the, well, the "badness" of the pain. A twisted arm behind the back cannot be undone not matter what the context. It cannot be undone, that is, when weighed in any circumstance, it remains what it is. This makes pain like logic, apodictic.

    You know, this is jumping to the chase. You first have to get beyond simply admitting the analytic union of value and ethics.
  • Are there primitive, unanalyzable concepts?
    You don't think concepts are determinate? How is the concept of a circle not determinate?Bob Ross

    Because in order to establish determinacy of the kind you suggest requires there to be an agreement between the circle and the language that is "speaking" the features of the circle and its features. Note that there certainly IS determinacy in the general way we use this term in many contexts. But for philosophy, we require an account that brings inquiry to a level of presuppositions, that is, even though the a quantitative amount is designated by a number, say, and a number is a determinate concept (the radius of a circle, perhaps) this designation presupposes the language that is used to speak the determinacy. One has to establish the determinacy of this in order to achieve the, as you put it, primitive and unanalyzable concept of the circle or modus ponens, or anything else you can think of.

    But language is presupposed in an analysis of the nature of language, as is logic. You see the problem. This finds it strongest expression in Derrida.
  • Are there things that aren’t immoral but you shouldn’t want to be the kind of person that does them?
    They communicate, and there is a structure to their language, just as there is to ours. The language of dogs consists of sounds, body stance, gestures of head, paws and tail, facial expressions, ear and hair erection. They are quite capable of reprimanding one another for rule breaking, status offenses and breaches of etiquette - and of responding appropriately to such a reprimand.Vera Mont

    But....THIS is incidental to the issue. I mean, seriously?
  • Are there things that aren’t immoral but you shouldn’t want to be the kind of person that does them?
    Getting from a state of affairs to a claim about what action ought follow from that isn't something you've established here. You've merely asserted there's a grounding in states of affairs, and then popped off to shop around your ethical values without establishing any move from one to the other. I have merely rejected that you've done the above. Which you have not. You have indicated that your view of ethics is not in line with your own reasoning.AmadeusD

    Very important to see that these are not MY personal ethical values. Anything I bring up is just to serve as an illustration.

    True, I have asserted there is a grounding for ethical state of affairs, but you entirely lose me after this. Popping off? It suggests an arbitrary move. But i have done exactly the opposite. I am saying ethics is NOT arbitrary, and that it DOES have a foundation in actuality. This is the philosophical discovery of value-in-the-world.

    I think this is alien thinking to you, because most popular thinking these says looks to scientific methods of discovery to determine justified belief in philosophical issues. You seem to have fallen prey. This is not an empirical argument. It is an analytical argument. Usually analytic matter turn on logical agreement. Here, there is a priority discovered in the world's existence. Rather momentous really. But you first have to pry yourself lose from interfering thinking from other quarters. One has to think purely analytically, as if the matter were of an entirely logical nature. Think of ethics, any situation will do. Ask what it IS for something to be ethical. And ask this looking for necessary and sufficient conditions for ethicality. See, it is conceptual. Value is inherent to ethics. So we look at value, and ask what this is. This moves to episodic actualities.

    I did not do so. This is a rather extreme misinterpretation I find it hard to understand. I have put forward the empirical fact that the pain exists in your mind, and no where else. You don't deny this, but still for maintain the positions which it precludes.
    Pain has a causal relationship with your physical body. Nothing in this suggests the 'toothache' is invented, other than the language... More below, in some sense..

    Okay, more below. But just to be clear, are you saying the mind is distinct from the body? I find this rather hard to understand from a self professed physicalist. When I said you said pain is something we invented, I was referring to where you said it was only in the mind. It didn't occur to me that you might think the mind not a being a bodily entity. This does confuse. Look here:

    Me: The pain in my sprained ankle IS in the world. Where else?
    You: It is literally, figuratively and metaphorically in your mind. It is not in your c-Fibres. It is not in your ankle bone. It is not anywhere outside of your body. It exists solely in your mind.

    Not even my c fibers?? Hmmmm. "Where" again is pain? Pain is only one "place": in the world.

    Hmm.. I don't think my position and reasoning says any such thing. The pain, in your scenario exists in the person's head. That is a fact, not an inference or a 'position' that I hold uniquely somehow. It is a basic, clear reading of the facts of how pain works (again, unless you are a strict physicalist and claim that pain IS the firing of c-fibres in response to overstimulation - So your final two lines of this post are likely because you haven't grasped what I'm saying clearly). Further, I can't ascertain what your case would show. That someone is insensitive? Sure. Feeling pain sucks. Doesn't mean it exists anywhere but the mind. Mental anguish is the same. Where does that live?AmadeusD

    When I observe the dreadful pain, or bliss, and say it is in the world, I mean it is there. The world is all there is. I can see how a "strict physicalist" might try to push this out of existence, but you say you are not one of these. Now I don't really know where you stand ontologically. But the premise I would ask you to accept is simple: If it is there, then it is in the world. Even imagined things have a status of being in the world AS imagined things. Only this spear in my kidney (the agony, that is) is not imagined. Just the opposite: it is the least imagined thing one can conceive.

    Insensitively has nothing to do with it. It can, however, play an important role in the mind of a policy maker in government where laws are made. Some would be fine reintroducing the Roman gladiatorial back into our entertainment. But nothing can mitigate pain. It is not an attitude about something that sucks. It is the Real foundation for ethical possiblity. This is where the argument lies. Value and ethics are like modus ponens and its conclusion: therefore, Q. This IS the point.
  • Are there things that aren’t immoral but you shouldn’t want to be the kind of person that does them?
    For the - what? Fifth? - time: it's about SURVIVAL. I'm reasonably sure you'll let your bottle of wine and deck furniture be taken rather than your life.Vera Mont

    But for the fifth time, survival is question begging. To survive as such has no ethical meaning. One survives FOR or motivated BY, but never in itself. In itself survival serves NO purpose at the level of basic questions.

    So, let Philosophy inquire to its tiny heart's content, it won't find anything deeper than survival as a basis of basic values. Once you're dead, you stop asking questions.Vera Mont

    Well, if the issue is about doubting the point of asking philosophical questions, then you have other issues entirely. Odd you would be in a "philosophy" club, though.

    By the 'one' who can't conceive, I have to assume you mean yourself. The value of things is tertiary. The value of civic responsibility is secondary; the value of social cohesion is primary. The value of keeping peace in the community - whether through the protection of property or of institutions or of traffic laws or of civil deneanour - is far more important than how anybody feels about their stuff.Vera Mont

    So be it, if by important you mean simply attending to pragmatic challenges in society and the like. Philosophy is more about understanding the questions that underlie such things, so that before one steps into action she has understood the full depth of the issue. One has to have a curious nature for basic questions.
    Something being important entirely depends on the context of the discussion.

    The internet.
    But I think it's had more than a fair run.
    Vera Mont

    I think you question the value of philosophy, which is understandable given that anglo american analytic thinking has turned serious foundational ideas into nihilistic dead ends. But consider that, as a practical function of critical thinking at the basic level, philosophy serves to disabuse society of it's misguided religious absurdities.

    Asking questions about the nature of ethics, tha t is, metaethics, is to ask about the metaphysics of value, and this is important because as long as popular religions rule the minds of people, the more inclined people are to be held in the sway of dogmatic thinking in ethics, and this leads to policy making that is not grounded in well reasoned thought. Foundational issues like this go to the basic rationality of the things you rightly take to be important. Religion deals with the basic indeterminacy of our existence, and the ethical indeterminacy especially, that is, people really don't have a grasp of why we are all born to suffer and die. This is an ETHICAL problem in the metaphysics of our existence. Sound thinking here can make the difference between a holy war and policies of equality and acceptance.
  • Are there things that aren’t immoral but you shouldn’t want to be the kind of person that does them?

    Not "to structure" in the above; rather "NO structure." No structure, No talking (talking understood as having the logical form familiar language use has. Dogs and cats don't "talk" in this.....or do they?).
  • Are there things that aren’t immoral but you shouldn’t want to be the kind of person that does them?
    They were two irrelevancies among many. Ethics isn't about your preference or what you happen to value at any given moment. It's about interpersonal transactions conducted in such manner as to promote the cohesion of a social unit.Vera Mont

    Yes, but you see, this begs the question: what is this social cohesion all about, essentially? We are a cohesion that has its ethical cement, if you will, in this feature of our existence referred to by the general term 'value'. So, philosophy wants to inquire as to the nature of value. It may be that pain and bliss as such and the like have no analysis (as I hold), that they are irreducible (Wittgenstein, notably). But then, this has to be acknowledged, and if this is true, it has strong implications for metaethical theory.

    It doesn't need an 'ethical dimension' - whatever an ethical dimension is - because survival is the root cause of the need for social systems, moral codes, ethical and legal frameworks.
    Whether you value something or not is irrelevant to the prohibition against stealing. The point of a prohibition is that if people take one another's stuff without the owner's permission, it causes strife within the community. If a supplier of meat sells tainted meat, it hurts the members of the community. If a soldier skives off for an assignation while on guard duty, he puts his comerades in danger. If a carrier of disease breaks quarantine, he endangers everyone he meets. If a man seduces his colleague's daughter, that causes conflict in the workplace.
    It's not about how you feel about your things - it's about the welfare of the polity.
    Vera Mont

    MY feelings?? I thought this clear. These are just examples. And when you say "Whether you value something or not is irrelevant to the prohibition against stealing" you stand in contradiction, for one cannot even conceive of a moral prohibition without conceiving value."

    To see this, you have to have an interest that goes to a more basic level of inquiry. Philosophy deals with the most basic sense, so if questions are begged, here is where analysis begins. I mean, if I say NO value, NO ethics, this is serious. It's like saying no language, no speaking; or, no logic, no reasoning. It is not a historical proposition determined by what people have done in organizing themselves (unless you are Heidegger and hold that language is innately historical. But this is a different matter), or a cultural anthropological statement that notes how the species creates institutions of survival. All of the things you mention are true! But the philosophical question remains: In all of the ethical dealings with "strife" and the rest, what is the underlying basis that makes this discussion even possible? Like asking in all the talking and language use we deploy in living our everyday lives, what is it that provides the structure for things to be at all intelligible? So, Kant steps of (in the heels of Aristotle and others) and does an analysis of pure reason. You don't have to agree with him, but at least see the point: To talk requires structure. To structure, no talking. Because in our talk is evidenced a non arbitrary disclosure.

    You could turn to Kant and give, say, an evolutionary account or language, or reduce language use to basic biology or physics (Quine thought ALL things re reducible to physics), and, had he known of such things, would say no problem! He is not talking about these alternative fields of inquiry. He is talking about the phenomenological analysis of judgment.

    Same here, only it is value, not reason. All you say is not wrong at all. It is simply not philosophy.
  • Are there things that aren’t immoral but you shouldn’t want to be the kind of person that does them?
    Sorry; I see no case to answer.
    If you have made a case for something or against something, I can't follow what it is. I sincerely do not believe that your taste in wine, or concern for your lawn-chair is the basis of an ethical system.
    Vera Mont

    Those are simply examples, the wine and the chairs. This was clear, I thought. The lounge chair, an example of how the term 'survival' is of no help in explaining ethics. It is a term with no ethical dimension to it. Things survive, don't survive. Qua survival, it matters not. This is the point. Clear, I think.

    Taste, or some appetitive indulgence, taste being one of many. This, too, I thought clear. When one seeks an understanding of the nature of ethics, one must look to things like this in order to understand how it is even possible for, say, the ethical issue of taking another's wine (who values it for its taste and other qualities--it's just an example, and not about my love of wine. You see this, right? Nothing to do with my personal distaste for brussel sprouts, either. These illustrate a point) has any meaning at all.

    I am frankly a bit at a loss, here. The reasoning seems without argument. A person loves wine, cares about this bottle, and this creates the material basis for the defeasible moral prohibition against stealing it. Of course, it is only a prime facie obligation not to steal it, and I am guessing you know what this means; it is not absolute, but subject to being defeated by a conflicting obligation (perhaps the wine is stolen to protect the other owner from her alcoholism, or the like. You get the idea).

    All I am saying is that the concrete ground for there to be an ethical situation at all, for it to even be possible, regarding this example regarding the wine, is for there to be caring and valuing in place. No valuing, no ethics. Something so transparently obvious I hardly see the need for clarification. So all analytic eyes turn to this actuality, this love of something, adoration of something, interest, repugnance, revulsion, and so on. And terms like this take us directly to episodic affairs: the actual experiences of the revulsion, and the rest. This ties ethical obligation to actuality, and the strongest way possible: analytically! How? NO value; therefore, NO ethics!

    Now, I don't think it is possible that, as you say, you "can't follow what it is." There simply is no ambiguity.
    Unless, of course, you see an ambiguity. I would like to hear this. It would philosophically interesting.
  • Are there primitive, unanalyzable concepts?
    So, do you agree that some concepts are absolutely simple, and thusly unanalyzable and incapable of non-circular definitions, but yet still valid; or do these so-called, alleged, primitive concepts need to be either (1) capable of non-circular definition or (2) thrown out?Bob Ross

    On circularity, consider the way this philosopher addresses the problem of defining what art is:

    But how are we to be certain that we are indeed basing such an examination on art
    works if we do not know beforehand what art is? And the nature of art can no more be
    arrived at by a derivation from higher concepts than by a collection of characteristics
    of actual art works. For such a derivation, too, already has in view the characteristics
    that must suffice to establish that what we take in advance to be an art work is one in
    . But selecting works from among given objects, and deriving concepts from principles, are equally impossible here, and where these procedures are practiced they are a
    self-deception. Thus we are compelled to follow the circle. This is neither a makeshift nor a defect.
    To enter upon this path is the strength of thought, to continue on it is the feast of
    , assuming that thinking is a craft. Not only is the main step from work to art a
    circle like the step from art to work,but every separate step that we attempt circles in
    this circle.

    All concepts are like this, circular, that is, empirical, apriori, it doesn't matter, because when the matter as to a concept's ontology is raised, there is this dynamic that looks to the concept, and looks back at what the concept is "about" and tries characterize the relation. But this never yields something definitive. It continues on, for all concepts are ontologically indeterminate. They are works always in progress, so to speak. Try finding something definitive is like looking for Moses' stone tablets.
  • Are there things that aren’t immoral but you shouldn’t want to be the kind of person that does them?
    You all require miracles and pretend you don't. I have actually been very clear about this. The fact that no one is mentioning it supports my claim about their positions.AmadeusD

    Buthow is what I require is miracles? This is the question. And what about the idea that ethics is analytically bound to value? This was the major thesis! But you never mention it. Look, I wrote quite a bit that you had nothing to say about. I think you should at least say something like, here is where you go wrong. Here is a brief exchange:

    Showing that these are part of the essence of ethics, I mean, it is analytically true the ethics IS what ethics is about.
    — Astrophel

    YOU: Sure. But it gives us no reason to care, other than our own discomfort.

    And such things are not invented.
    — Astrophel

    YOU: They are. You're giving me states of affairs. Morality is not states of affairs.

    But if it is not grounded in a state of affairs, it is nothing! You just said that the pain of a toothache (I think it was) is invented! I mean, it is impossible to hold such a monumentally absurd idea. There you are, stricken with plague, you fingers black with gangrene, vomiting endlessly, writhing in a a dark corner begging for death! And you reasoning steps in, "well, not to bother so much. It is after all, all in your head." Do you realize the patent stupidity of such a position?; not that you, dear Amadeus, are stupid. Nothing personal. But the "position" is wildly off the charts ridiculous!

    And the argument that shows without a speck of doubt that IF, in a given ethical situation, this value dimension is withdrawn, THEN the ethicality vanishes!. THIS remains untouched in your thinking so far. You have to deal with this. The essence of something is that such that the thing is no longer what it is if this were to be removed.

    SAYING you are a physicalist says nothing. Anyone can do this. Deals with nothing the argument raises. I am a flat-earther--- So there.

    I mean, look at this argument. Air tight!
  • Are there things that aren’t immoral but you shouldn’t want to be the kind of person that does them?
    That's because it's been around a whole helluva lot longer than ethics; the concept of ethics comes long after animals with brains big enough to think of it. They couldn't have got there without surviving the evolutionary steps that precede it. Nor will you have children, wine and Brussels sprouts without having survived to get them. (Also, I fail to see the ethical component of Brussels sprouts, but that's just me. )Vera Mont

    But you are not arguing the case put before you. As to the brussel sprouts...really?
  • Are there things that aren’t immoral but you shouldn’t want to be the kind of person that does them?
    I say: No, what hte hell, Its literally in the mind of the actor. There is no value 'in the world'. Value is a function of cognitive judgments. I agree, this is philosophy, and if you want to settle for one free miracle, that's fine. My point is this is not acknowledgedAmadeusD

    I think this is disingenuous. The pain in my sprained ankle IS in the world. Where else? And referring to a miracle, well, this is just strawman arguing, construing the argument in blatantly indefensible terms, and announcing that this is where it fails. No one but you is talking about miracles. UNLESS, that is you can show, that is argue, how what I am saying can be rightly construed as miracle mongering. If you can't do this, then you are simply being, as I said, disingenuous.
  • Are there things that aren’t immoral but you shouldn’t want to be the kind of person that does them?
    See? It's probable we're not disagreeing. But there's no way to ascertain some objective ethical consideration without arbitrarily deciding what is worth caring about. There's an inference that one can be ethically 'wrong' which begs the question as to what 'wrong' is.AmadeusD

    But this is philosophy. If we were talking about reason, we would move past that-which-is-reasoned-about and on to reason as such, or logical form as such. One can argue that reason is, say, an evolutionary phenomenon, and they would not be wrong in that context. But philosophy takes value as thematic, or it can do this.
    The wrong and right will always be indeterminate. Because this refers to actions, and actions are entangled in facts. My sister loaned me her car. Fact. I dented the fender. Fact. I am obligated to tell her. Now wait a minute...She would get very angry and she just got divorced and maybe I should fix the dent myself and say nothing....But then, if she finds out...
    But the engine that drives the whole affair is this caring about something, and the value in play. And this value is solidly IN the world. If I am enraged, or someone is pulling my fingernails out, this is real. I mean, what could be more real that this? And the moral obligation not to pull someone's fingernails out is grounded in just this dreadful reality.
  • Are there things that aren’t immoral but you shouldn’t want to be the kind of person that does them?
    This, to me, is prevaricative poeticism. There's nothing in this statement. It is just empty concepts. Nothing gives me any reason to think Ethics exists, at all, outside of Human deliberation.AmadeusD

    No one said ethics exists outside of human deliberation. It is a matter of what human deliberation is grounded in. Any ethical rule, law, principle we DELIBERTATE about has its final meaning grounded in our existence in this world. This is essentially what has been said. Our existence, the conditions of our being in the world. There is nothing poetic about this. Purely descriptive: what is our existence in the world? This is easy. We love, hate, struggle, suffer, rejoice, celebrate, despair, etc., ABOUT the things we are attached to. All of these relations are value relations, the taste of fine wine, the love of a child, the revulsion of eating brussel sprouts. If one wants to talk about the nature of ethics, one MUST talk about this kind of thing. Period! It is analytic. You can only commit an ethical offense to me regarding brussel sprouts if I CARE about brussel sprouts. So what is this caring about? It is the palpable revulsion I have when I get within ten feet of them, that's what. Ethics is "made of" this existential counterpart to caring.

    Not clear why this is not clear.
  • Are there things that aren’t immoral but you shouldn’t want to be the kind of person that does them?
    For some people, it's no use at all. But for the majority of living things, it's the primal drive. It doesn't need a specific utility: it is the rock-bottom foundation of awareness and effort; the first cause by which all things needful, useful and beneficial are measured.Vera Mont

    But the term as "the rock bottom foundation of awareness" has no value in a discussion about ethics if there is nothing IN the term that is inherently ethical. I would argue that it is not the primal drive at all. This concept of survival is just general term for something more primordial, which is found only in the conditions of actual engagement. Take someone reaching to overcome in a case where survival is threatened. In the drive to survive there is the deeper analysis of caring and all of the affectivity in play in the desperate move that can see a possibility, and hope emerges, but is dashed and misery reasserts itself, a deepens as the physical pain or the the dread comes over one. Compared to this living reality, a term like survival is a mere abstraction, used in discussions about how traits in one species survived over others, or, as with your account, the primal drive that thrusts the organism into struggles to overcome. But there IS no such primal drive any more than there is the Freudian libido. This are theoretical terms that are constructed out of the living realities so we can talk about things.

    Take General Motors, the car company. Does GM "exist"? Of course not. It is a pragmatic concept that we treat AS IF it existed so we can organize our affairs. One could argue that all of our cultural institutions are like this.

    So the attempt here is to arrive at what does exist in ethics that makes it more than just a mere organizing principle, like GM. Existence in the "hard" sense of the term. Is there such a thing? Yes. It is found in the value dimension of our existence.

    Pink herring, conflating a careless figure of speech with the primal instinct. The lawn chair was never alive. You might go out into the storm to save your neighbour or your dog, because life matters - fence-posts don't.Vera Mont

    But whatever I do, it is going to be a matter of importance to me. If this importance is absent, then all motivation is lost and the possibility of it as an ethical issue is lost. This is the point: ethics is "made of" value, and value has its essence in the actualities of our engagements.

    That's backward. What makes anything ethical is its contribution to survival.Vera Mont

    Then show how survival qua survival does this. This is why I opened with the lounge chair. Survival AS SUCH has nothing of the analysis of what constitutes an ethical matter.

    I don't think it needs to be exposed any more times than I've already done.
    If you have a more convincing source for the concept, by all means, expose away!
    Vera Mont

    Done already.
  • Are there things that aren’t immoral but you shouldn’t want to be the kind of person that does them?
    The concreteness of our existence is that we have physical and mental requirements and an innate will to survive. In isolation, very few humans can survive on their own in adulthood; none at all from infancy. So ethics and morality are constructed on the requirements for survival in groups.Vera Mont

    This seems right to me, and I have no issues with this kind of thinking at all. Just as I have no issues with science. But then, what good is survival? What is in this will to survive that is really at stake?. Survival as such applies to anything, as in, I hope the lawn chair survives the storm. But lawn chairs are not agencies of ethics, that is, they don't, given what they are, generate ethical possiblities. Nor can a rock or a fence post. Our survival is different in that it IS capable of ethicality. The ideas expressed above try to show what it is that makes our survival (and those of animals) ethical at all. For that the essence of ethics has to be exposed.
  • I am deeply spiritual, but I struggle with religious faith
    For Derrida an element of meaning, an ‘identity’, can only be what it is by relying on something absolutely foreign to it and outside of it. But this outside doesn’t sit alongside an inside of meaning but inhabits it , belongs to the inside itself.

    "The iterability of an element divides its own identity a priori, even without taking into account that this identity can only determine or delimit itself through differential relations to other elements and hence that it bears the mark of this difference. It is because this iterability is differential, within each individual "element" as well as between "elements", because it splits each element while constituting it, because it marks it with an articulatory break, that the remainder, although indispensable, is never that of a full or fulfilling presence; it is a differential structure escaping the logic of presence.”

    I am reminded of Zeno's paradox of the arrow never arriving at its target. The iterable "moment" itself analytically reducible to constitutive iterability, thereby rendering the iteration an endless a never ending cycle. I want to be Diogenes and walk across the floor and then consider the matter refuted. But as I see it, there is only one thing that can make it all the ways across the room, and that is value-in-being (as I call it, grasping for the right way).

    This not sitting "outside" and "along side" is to me, extremely insightful, for the silence of meditative gelassenheit, if you will, shows that what one seeks, in this pursuit of a profounder wisdom than thought can think, has been there all along, in the eye that "sees" the seeing, the cogito that thinks the cogito.

    And the repetition in the discover of the "repetition" as Derrida lays it out, is itself thereby annihilated. There is in this what in Zen is called satori, a jolting realization.
  • Are there things that aren’t immoral but you shouldn’t want to be the kind of person that does them?
    Except clearly, there is no consensus on this and it has changed over time. If you want to claim that the vast majority of history has been Ethically "wrong", I would have to chuckle.

    So, if the language of Ethics is 'good' and 'bad', lets say, prior to their enunciation and being understood to agents (i.e justification) ... it is useless. And Im fine with that. There is no such thing as absolute good and bad. Im fine with that.

    But it is not a historical claim, that is, it is saying nothing about ethics as it is entangled within a culture, generating rules of behavior and speaking. This analysis is logically prior to this. When one receives a culture and thrown into a whole body of institutionalized norms, the question I am talking about here is something presupposed by this. Here is a simple line of reasoning: Laws tell me not to speed on the highway. Why should I obey? Not because it is the law, and say no more. Rather because it is practically efficacious in many ways, for me, for others. It works, and this seems to be the bottom line, but there is still a more basic question yet again: why should one do what works? Here one encounters a stumble for facile thinking. To ask such a basic question seems at first absurd. One doesn't want a ticket, doesn't want to live in a dangerous world of insane driving with no limits, doesn't want harm to come to anyone, especially children, and so on. But this simply brings the question into focus, which is, why don't I want harm to come to myself of others? ALL of a culture's institutions are analytically reducible to this in the discovery of their ethical foundation.

    Cultures are different and can't agree on things, this we know. But this reduction takes the matter closer and closer to the bottom line which is universal. Kant did this with reason, not that he was right about everything, but the point is, this is what philosophy does. It seeks the universal essence of things that we encounter when the questions run out and we face "the world," the basic givenness of experience.

    Or look at it like this: Take a given ethical rule or law and ask what is this in the most basic analysis? Looking here for that which, if it were to be removed, the possibility of being a rule/law at all would vanish. In ethics, that essential feature is value found in the concrete value of a thing, like the taste of good food or the pain of being assaulted. The point is clear: take this dimension of our existence away and ethics vanishes. Therefore, an inquiry into the nature of ethics must look here, in the concreteness of our existence for the essence of ethics.

    But this concreteness is not born of language. Ethics' essence lies in this existential primordiality, the pure givenness of the world. Hence, the arguments for the relativity or contingency of ethics appears to have failed to follow through, stopping at the way common entanglements create discord. One has to make the last final step toward essence.
  • Are there things that aren’t immoral but you shouldn’t want to be the kind of person that does them?
    Except clearly, there is no consensus on this and it has changed over time. If you want to claim that the vast majority of history has been Ethically "wrong", I would have to chuckle.

    So, if the language of Ethics is 'good' and 'bad', lets say, prior to their enunciation and being understood to agents (i.e justification) ... it is useless. And Im fine with that. There is no such thing as absolute good and bad. Im fine with that.

    But it is not a historical claim, that is, it is saying nothing about ethics as it is entangled within a culture, generating rules of behavior and speaking. This analysis is logically prior to this. When one receives a culture and thrown into a whole body of institutionalized norms, the question I am talking about here is something presupposed by this. Here is a simple line of reasoning: Laws tell me not to speed on the highway. Why should I obey? Not because it is the law, and say no more. Rather because it is practically efficacious in many ways, for me, for others. It works, and this seems to be the bottom line, but there is still a more basic question yet again: why should one do what works? Here one encounters a stumble for facile thinking. To ask such a basic question seems at first absurd. One doesn't want a ticket, doesn't want to live in a dangerous world of insane driving with no limits, doesn't want harm to come to anyone, especially children, and so on. But this simply brings the question into focus, which is, why don't I want harm to come to myself of others? ALL of a culture's institutions are analytically reducible to this in the discovery of their ethical foundation.

    Cultures are different and can't agree on things, this we know. But this reduction takes the matter closer and closer to the bottom line which is universal. Kant did this with reason, not that he was right about everything, but the point is, this is what philosophy does. It seeks the universal essence of things that we encounter when the questions run out and we face "the world," the basic givenness of experience.

    Or look at it like this: Take a given ethical rule or law and ask what is this in the most basic analysis? Looking here for that which, if it were to be removed, the possibility of being a rule/law at all would vanish. In ethics, that essential feature is value found in the concrete value of a thing, like the taste of good food or the pain of being assaulted. The point is clear: take this dimension of our existence away and ethics vanishes. Therefore, an inquiry into the nature of ethics must look here, in the concreteness of our existence for the essence of ethics.

    But this concreteness is not born of language. Ethics' essence lies in this existential primordiality, the pure givenness of the world. Hence, the arguments for the relativity or contingency of ethics appears to have failed to follow through, stopping at the way common entanglements create discord. One has to make the last final step toward essence.