Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by juantoo3, Jul 22, 2004.
*wry smile* I'm reasonably certain that this got lost in my other posts today, so I'll re-post it:
LOL, Soup will be made for dinner. Why? On any given day on earth it rains somewhere. It may not be where one that made the statement lives, but by the very statement, they intend to make soup because of the inevitable rain that will fall somewhere on the surface of our home planet...
Anyone else want to take a stab at it?
I choose 4. If it's nice out we might go for a hike instead.
I *like* that answer!
To put this into more familiar terms for anyone who has taken logic classes (and thereby, I hope, clarify):
If A, then B.
If not-A, then _______
The answer is "No way to tell".
So, back to the Rede. Again:
"An it harm none, do as you will".
If A, then B.
If what you're considering doing won't cause harm, don't waste any brain-sweat on it, just do it, if that's your will.
That's the "If A, then B".
But what about not-A?
The Rede is silent about that. It has no guidance to give about causing harm/doing harmful acts.
You're on your own. It's your choice. It's your responsibility. You will own the consequences.
Sounds simple, right? *evil grin*
Re: The Moral Animal
I think it's important to *recognize* our animal nature; if we don't, then we may be very confused not only by the behavior of our fellows, but by our own behavior.
Certainly we have more than the hard-wired pack animal behaviors from which to choose. Choice is the defining characteristic of humans, I think. We have automatic hard-wired initial reactions to things...and we also have the capacity to analyze those reactions for appropriateness, and the capacity to choose to ignore or override them, or channel the energy of them into socially productive actions.
IMO, though, pretending that those reactions don't exist does not serve us.
Animals are hard-wired with survival techniques. Humans have this hard-wiring too, but it's not enough to guarantee our survival. We're not strong enough, or fast enough, or fierce enough to compete based on those characteristic alone. We have to think our way through things, and we have to learn and remember what works.
A LOT of our survival depends on accumulated information and the ability to apply it. So from a purely survival standpoint, it's a good idea to protect and support members of our societies who have gained that knowledge. In addition, we have a need, for some reason, for things that don't directly contribute to pure physical survival - the things that uplift us (although I could make a good case for these being a needed componenet for survival, as those things that give us a feeling of confidence, or worthwhileness, or a goal to reach could be seen to contribute to survival - as in something to survive/life *for* rather than surviving just to live long enough to pass along genetic material).
I think that this has expanded into the idea that every human is worthwhile investing in.
So in human socieities we nurture members of the group that would be culled out, or passively allowed to die, in other animal groups.
A harsh and judgemental one; when there is little wiggle room for survival, our perception of "God" reflects that, IMO. Which may be a contributing factor in the variety of ways in which people living in different places perceive the Divine. Or not. But I think it does.
This begs the question:
Is morality not to be found in societies without "a great history and culture and religion"? And who deterines the "greatness' of same?
Well, I'm a theist of a type (panentheist) and I don't share that view either.
We can divide religious views a lot of different ways, using different razors to make the divisions.
One of them is this:
In some religions the Divine is separate from Nature, Man is separate from Nature, and the Divine is separate from Man.
In some, there is no separation of Man and Nature, but there *is* separation of the Divine from both Nature and Man.
And in yet others, there is no separation.
I'm very much enjoying catching up with this discussion, but it's turning into a monologue, from my perspective.
I have things to do away from the house today...hopefully when I get back there will be dialogue happening.
Kindest Regards, Kathe!
I am a little pressed for time, so I will respond to a bit and come back later. I re-read thru a few pages last night, refreshing my mind.
If I begin with the presumption that all Christians have a basic code of conduct (the 10 plus the two), still I see all too often those who skirt the code, looking for loopholes as it were. "Just stick a couple of bucks in the offering plate and ask a prayer of forgiveness." I can see how this presents a contrary image to others. It never sat quite right with me. I cannot claim to be loving of my neighbor if I am acting hateful towards him. So I think I understand the basic idea you are presenting.
Yet, when viewed correctly, there is truth in the saying "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven." The catch is, do we (Christians) continue in our imperfection, or learn our lesson and carry on with a sincere attempt to avoid those mistakes in the future? This seems to me a subtle but significant point of disagreement among various denominations.
Even with this in mind though, I am thinking it is difficult to justify heinous acts. How does one "ask forgiveness" for genocide? Yet, it seems historically apparent that it can happen.
I am hesitiating, but I think one place this shows well is in war. To be clear, I do not view all war as genocidal. I suppose, hypothetically, genocide could be carried out without war (through a legal system, for example), but I am inclined to think the nature of genocide is at root a form of war. In other words, genocide equals war, but war does not equal genocide, if that makes sense.
I agree. If I may borrow your "red of tooth and claw" comment, and continue with my war analogy:
We kill. Everyday. We must, to survive. We have since the first simple organism absorbed another for sustenance. In this sense, war is an integral part of our being.
Now, we may relegate the actual slaying of a creature (animal or vegetable) to another, but each of us is innately responsible for the taking of life. It seems to me darn near impossible not to (the possible exception of frugivores, strict fruit eaters). Even then, if we live in a wooden house, we are responsible for the death of trees. If we use pottery (bricks, plates, vases, whatever), we are responsible for consuming the earth. We consume minerals in varied forms as medicine and materials. War, in my mind, stems from our survival needs, our "consumption" as it were.
Of course, even in looking at war *philosophically* (personally I refuse to entertain discussion on any particular ongoing war), there are mitigating factors like love and compassion. I cannot help but think these things are focused on those we include within our "group," be it family, herd or tribe. It is when we look outside of our group that things like love and compassion can get a little cloudy, especially if we are hungry and cold.
There are other components of our animal nature I am pretty certain you are more aware of than I: the effect of the moon on the human body's water, for example.
So yes, I agree there is humans do have an animal nature about them.
If I may provide a quote from yet a different thread:
I think my response here says things about as well as I think I see it. Morality on an animal level seems to me lacking. It is certainly not sufficient to accomodate civilization. That is to say, I fail to see how our modern moral codes could have stemmed *only* through biological evolutionary development.
ah, you've hit on something important here, imo.
As soon as there are "do this, don't do that" rules, people, being people, will start playing those games with the rules. I'm sure you are familiar with this kind of thing: "Ah, but when it says Thou shalt not kill, does that apply in *this* situation....what if thus and so.....but what about"....blah blah blah.
It's just human to do this.
I think that the rules of behavior that we follow most consistantly are those we establish for ourselves, as a result of dealing with the consequences of our actions.
And that's the beauty of the Rede, as far as I'm concerned.
There are no specific rules about harmful behavior against which to rebel or with which to find exception.
You have to decide for yourself, and deal with the results.
Of course, if you want advice, you'll always get it if you ask; about what the Rede means, about what "harmful" is, etc. But ultimately you and you alone must choose in your own life to do or not do harmful things, and live with what your actions bring into being.
IOW, There's no Divine punishment for doing harmful things, and no Divine reward for doing good.
What there *is* is the lesson of consequences.
To be honest, I've never "gotten' that whole forgiveness thing you talk about here. If I harm someone, I need to make it right with them, personally. Or I need to decide that I'll live with what I've done (looking it straight in the eye) without making it right.
Who I need forgiveness from is whom I've harmed, not anyone else. And I quite probably need to make reparations so I can look myself in the mirror without flinching.
I just don't know. I don't know how you can ask forgiveness for something as heinous as genocide, from the people whom you've essentially tried to wipe out. And asking forgiveness from anyone else would be useless, I think. I don't even know how one could make reparation, which would be a requirement in my ethical system.
One other thought, before I go back to, uh, page 11, I think, of this topic:
There a thing I've seen over and over again, and it always makes me shake my head in perplexity. Someone (I'll assign names to make this easier to follow), oh, Danny.
Danny does something intentionally and avoidably harmful to someone else (er, his best friend Jim). When Jim confronts Danny with his action(s), Danny goes into a big thing in which he declares himself to be horrible and awful and sinful and so on. He goes on with this until the focus becomes *his feelings* rather than the harmful action he did. And Jim winds up forgiving Danny and, fergoshsakes, comforting[//i] him.
This is a sublime form of egoism. It's also a subtle way to avoid dealing as an adult with what one has done.
It makes me question our ability to look what we do straight on, ever.
I don't think that human ethics arises completely from biological evolutionary development - and I do think it plays a large part.
I agree - the human animal is torn by two opposing sociobiological forces - survival of the group, and survival of the individual.
Survival of the group requires that everyone understands their positions, and are held to account by the group in the interests of the group.
Survival of the individual plays out in the dynamics of social inequalities - by nature, social groups have heirarchies and increasing the chances of survival tends to relate to increasing social standing, ie, access to resources, mates, protection, etc.
I think it's especially worth suggesting that the lower social classes - where social advancement is less of an option - may be more prone to positive moral judgements with regards to the group element. The need to stick together due to the vulnerability of being alone. The reverse is that the higher social standing, the the greater the opportunity of flouting social rules for personal gain.
I especially see this latter part at work in business, where having morals is not equivalent to good business, but being aggressive and predatory for gain is.
This is quite good.
That's all I've got for today. Perhaps after various and sundry tasks, and dinner and more dog-walking I'll feel ready to tackle page 13 of this topic.
Actually, there ain't no such thing as not killing, if you're alive.
We kill things by breathing, by drinking water. I don't have a moral stand on this, except as to unnessary killing, and wasting of life (as in letting food spoil and throwing it away(, and in my tradition we dn't thank the divine for the food, we thank the animals and plants that gave up their lives so that we may live.
Indeed. Tribal behavior is NOT extinct, even in the most citified person.
I'll come back to this - dinner prep time in around 5 minutes. And that'll give me time to mull stuff over.
Kindest Regards, Kathe!
Thank you for your posts!
In the end, I think you are correct, experience is probably the best teacher.
Come to think of it, isn't that a motivation for following a particular faith walk, at least now in places where a specific walk is not mandated by government or culture? That is to say, so many people "switch" to a different faith walk that seems to "work" better for them, and provides them with a better experience. In my own case, I stay with my path because it works for me, by experience.
In the end, is this not essentially true for everybody that does not have their faith walk mandated?
Of course, one must be careful of who they ask advice from...
May I conclude that, at least in your walk, you do not acknowledge the Divine? If so, then it would seem your path does closely parallel Buddhism.
Actually, I agree, and I believe Christianity teaches as much to deeper scholars. We simply include forgiveness from the Divine, our Creator as well.
Forgiveness from outside parties is in my mind, silly. No one else can walk my walk for me. I am beholding to no (wo)man, outside of the party I have harmed.
I guess my point was about justification, from a governmental or political POV.
I agree. I think many feel entitled to outside justification for their actions. I see it as "enabling" behavior that otherwise would not be acceptable. "Oh, the poor kid had such a rough life..." Yet, such enablement can potentially lead to very destructive behavior to self or others if it is not checked somewhere.
Good posts, BTW. Gotta go for now. I am enjoying my discussions with you!
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