morality within evolution

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by juantoo3, Jul 22, 2004.

  1. RJM

    RJM God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    It's not directed at either of you, lol. It's quite intense and so I'm not following closely. But I am enjoying the fearless back-and-forth. It's was really a general type of outsider observation
     
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  2. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ....whys guy.... ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Oh, and for the record:

    AGENCY:
    noun, plural a·gen·cies.

    an organization, company, or bureau that provides a particular service: a nonprofit agency for the poor.

    a company having a franchise to represent another: perhaps we should be looking for a new advertising agency.

    a governmental bureau or administrative division, or an office that represents it: My internship at the FDA led to job opportunities with other federal agencies.

    the place of business of an agent: If you stop by the agency tomorrow, we can go over the details of the land sale.

    Indian agency.

    the duty or function of an agent.

    the relationship between a principal and his or her agent: Investment firms must incentivize proper agency so that fund managers prioritize the investor’s interests over their own.

    the state of being in action or of exerting power; operation: the agency of divine Providence.

    the capacity to act or exert power: We may have our free agency, but we are responsible for our choices.

    a means of exerting power or influence; instrumentality: nominated by the agency of friends.



    So I stand by my assertion that "'Agency' is yet another fraught word with multiple meanings, pending context." It is a very vague term. :p

    ref: Agency Definition & Meaning | Dictionary.com
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2022
  3. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ....whys guy.... ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Contrary to the tone of the current discussion, I am capable of a much more civil tone.

    I would be happy to discuss, as long as you understand I am reserving the option of disagreeing. I will attempt to be polite.
     
  4. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ....whys guy.... ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Shall we try again?

    Pleased to meet you, thank you for the thoughtful reply.

    Now that I've had some time to consider, I don't think "religion" is such a vague term at all. The differences are in application, the fundamental basis remains the same for essentially all of the variants.

    The brief I looked into (and quoted previously) suggests to me this is a continued state of paranoia. Just because you are paranoid, doesn't mean they are not out to get you. Since safety is a significant step in Maslow's hierarchy, it makes sense it would be deeply ingrained, even genetic. It would seem all prey animals or potential prey animals would continue in some semblance of this. With the development of fire (not only warmth and cooking, but to ward off predatory animals at night) and weapons, humans gained a half step up from this, as long as they cooperated (as would be expected in a herd or pack situation).

    As demonstrated above, "agency" holds multiple, non-congruent meanings. The one most close to my understanding of what you have written here suggests outside intent, implied supernatural intent. If this is not correct, then what is it you mean using this term in this context?

    I'm not so sure what they would have "hear(d) in (their) head." When did humans acquire language? This is a crucial question that remains fundamentally unanswered. Did they communicate? Yes, I would think they did, even considering various simian examples, all communicate, but those communications are grunts and howls and screams. Certainly there is a different cry for "danger" than there is for "happy to see you!," but would this qualify as language, and would these echo in the mind in the same sense as "hearing their loved one in their head?" I don't think the human mind was quite there yet, I don't think what we call consciousness, which requires symbolic thought, had developed until the dawn of agriculture. Prior to this we thought in images, pictures in the mind, as a human child does now until they enter school and learn alphabets and numbers and replace the image system in their minds with a symbol system.

    Circa 100kybp, we were well on our way as a species, but we did not yet have a "conscious" mind. Symbolic thought allows us now to use our minds in ways that other animal minds have not developed. So I seriously think "self-talk," that little voice in our heads, did not yet exist in anything close to what we are familiar with.

    I'm not seeing it. It doesn't make rational sense to me how paranoia leads - automatically - to seeing rivers having minds of their own. If by sky you mean or intend say gathering storm clouds or stars / moon across a night sky, I still don't see the connection.

    The history of various faiths and their development are reasonably well understood by now, so I don't contest that. There are those that raise certain objections, no doubt, but by and large all go back into the mists of pre-history into what most closely resembles animism. And from there all developed their own culturally meaningful and significant adaptations. However, all were reaching for / striving to / grasping at the same thing. That hasn't changed.

    The quandary for me has always been, why? If, as vaunted science has told us for so long G-d does not exist, why has humanity on the whole expended so much time, effort and energy reaching out to this invisible to the eye "something?"

    Is this "something" that animals, or at least higher order animals, also intuit? Is this an evolutionary development? I can't climb inside the mind of a Bonobo to say, but I will not emphatically say "no way!" when I have no way to know. Denial doesn't mean it doesn't exist any more than belief means it does exist. We have no "scientific" way to say one way or the other; there is no "proof," the only evidences are circumstantial and subjective, and not reliably recreatable.

    OK, but I think for the most part this would be after the Agricultural Revolution. It was then that "tribes" (families) could now band together for mutual aid. By the time of Ur, and other important walled cities in the Fertile Crescent, the Ag Rev had already brought about an exponential leap in mental capacity. I've gone over the Ag Rev before here, in other threads. The effect of the natural opioids in grain, which is not a human foodstuff (we did not evolve to eat grain), "expanded" our minds. In a very short time historically, perhaps 2 or 3 thousand years, we learned to work metal and stone blocks (and dolmens), we developed early alphabets and numbers...and learned to use them. Writing was developed. Astronomy was developed. The wheel was developed. Law was developed and codified. Institutional religion developed. And War as an art was developed - hence the reason for walled cities, for protection from our worst predators, ourselves.

    So yes, by the time of walled cities, social cohesion in the manner you speak of became a necessity, and no doubt religion played a significant part. While I think it is fair to say pre-historic peoples had a culture, I think culture in the sense we are more familiar with began in the walled cities.

    OK, but where did all of that come from? This point is crucial to the entire puzzle. I contend it came from deep in the caves. Again, this was not the living space, the paintings were never simple decorations. Their locations, the other artifacts found in situ, the dearth of footprints (these places were not commonly used, only occasional use) and other aspects indicate to me and many, many other researchers that these were ceremonial places. So what was it that drove these not yet fully conscious humans into the bowels of the Earth against everything their "primitive" psyches screamed warnings about to develop and conduct these rituals? If there is nothing there, why did they do it???

    Sympathetic magic was mentioned. I agree, and said so many years ago right here at this site. The thread I linked to had even more information to that end, as well as the additional psychological components long known and understood (even exploited by the likes of the "ancient" Greeks and Romans) regarding the inducement of altered states of consciousness to see visions and hallucinations.

    I seriously don't think these induced altered states of consciousness were accidental or recreational, it was intentional and deliberate.

    And what evidence exists shows the shaman came way late in the game, almost the end of the Ice Age.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2022
  5. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ....whys guy.... ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Abstract for a paper written in 1989:

    A Middle Palaeolithic human hyoid bone - PubMed (nih.gov)

    It also includes several links to related papers

    Abstract from one of the referenced papers, written in 2021:

    The vocal tract as a time machine: inferences about past speech and language from the anatomy of the speech organs - PubMed (nih.gov)

    These seem to imply human anatomy (including Neandertals, which would have existed contemporaneously) were capable of vowel formation during the time in question, so speech would seem to be possible during this time. However it must also be considered that possible, probable and likely do not absolutely mean done. As with any evolutionary morphology there is a learning curve, which suggests that speech and the hyoid bone developed together over time. Which is to say the hyoid bone had no need to develop without speech, and speech couldn't develop without the hyoid bone.
     
  6. Ella S.

    Ella S. Logoic Logician

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    I'll be honest: I haven't even glanced at the replies above me. I've actually been giving this discussion a lot of thought offline.

    I recently deconverted from my religion. I'm currently nonreligious and an atheist. I do hold to a few guiding secular philosophies, but not really much that I think is pertinent to interfaith dialogue anymore. I've been wondering what the point would be in continuing to browse forums for religious discussion when I'm no longer religious and no longer find any use for religious ideas in my private life.

    I thought that discussion might still be productive in broadening my horizons with diverse perspectives. Maybe this would help me understand the point of view of other people. However, I don't really see much of a use in this, beyond learning what I already knew; not everyone will agree with me on any given topic.

    Sometimes this disagreement might be rational, but rarely have I actually learned anything from an online discussion. What little I do hear tends to turn out to be untrue. Forums like these are incredibly unreliable means of obtaining information, partially due to the fact that it has such a wide range of diverse perspectives. The diversity that I thought was a strength is actually a major weakness.

    This brings me to this discussion in particular. What is the point of two laymen discussing a topic that neither one has any expertise in? I can't think of one. I can only think that, if one were seriously dedicated to learning about something, there are many better avenues for that than arguments with hostile anonymous strangers. Attending the lecture of professors in that given field, for instance. If someone else were to be interested in learning that information, then they, too, would be better off attending such a lecture than hearing my second-hand account of it. After all, I'm not a professor with expertise in any field.

    As such, I realize that I simply don't have the credentials to have an opinion on topics like these. I also realize that discussing such a topic on a forum is thoroughly unproductive and will get me absolutely nowhere. There's no point to it. If I have questions about the field of, say, the evolutionary psychology of religion, then I will seek out the opinions of scholars in that field to form my own, private judgment. There's no sense in me trying to defend arguments that aren't my own, especially when I lack the expertise to articulate them well.

    So I'm not going to continue this argument and, honestly, I think this entire thread is quite silly. It's like we're kids playing pretend, mimicking the voices of the more educated adults. Are we really hoping to contribute something to the field of evolutionary psychology here in this thread? I doubt it. Are we trying to educate the other person on consensus opinions in that field? If so, I've already pointed out how silly that is. This isn't the appropriate space for that sort of higher-level learning. Something like that should be done in a college classroom, not an online discussion board.

    It does make me wonder what the point of such forums actually are, in general, though. I think they function well to give a diverse range of lay opinions, but how valuable are lay opinions, really? I certainly don't feel like much stock should be put into them. That seems unreasonable to me. What is it that a layperson is truly able to give insight on?

    Perhaps a forum like this might be useful for political or ideological rhetoric, calling other people to action and debating the nitty-gritty of what the everyman should do. That's not really what this thread is, but even if it was, I don't really care to discuss such things with other people. Usually, we're just going to spend a great deal arguing over whether objective morality exists, and if it does, what system of morals should we adhere to, all before we could get to any useful discussion about what my particular ethical philosophy would demand of me.

    Lay people might make rudimentary and common defenses of their own ethical positions that I don't share, but they're just going to be watered-down versions of the more rigorous arguments that professional political commentators and ethicists have already made or addressed. I already study a diverse range of those opinions to form my own beliefs, so online discussion on them is not only redundant but of a lower quality.

    Now, originally, I entered this thread expecting it to be about ethical questions, which it wasn't, really. Instead it's about evolutionary psychology, which is not a field that I have any expertise in. I do know the opinions of evolutionary psychologists on religion; namely, that hyper-active agency detection and mind-body dualism lead to animism, from which most religions have their roots. Why should I expect to have any meaningful elucidation on that topic on an internet forum with non-experts?

    ...I can't, that would be insane. Either they are an expert themselves and are better off trying to change the consensus opinion of that field without my input and, if they succeed, I will then accept the new consensus they formed. Or they're not an expert, like you, and are pontificating wildly about topics that they have no real understanding of. Either way, the rational response is to just avoid the argument altogether and follow the consensus opinion of experts, unless it's an issue that I care deeply enough about to pursue formal education in at some university or another. Only then, after I have been thoroughly educated on the topic and received my degrees, should I then feel comfortable enough to speak as a representative of that field and expect to have meaningful dialogue with my peers on the subject.

    Unfortunately, all of this means that I'm not changing my opinion on this topic, which might appear mightily closed-minded, but it's the only logical course of action that I can surmise for the above reasons. I will no longer try to evangelize about it, though, and leave that to the experts and science communicators, instead. I doubt that my beliefs about the psychological evolution of early religion are really going to have much of an impact on my life, anyway.
     
  7. Ella S.

    Ella S. Logoic Logician

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    I have now skimmed the other replies and they have not changed my mind. I still stand by my above post.
     
  8. RJM

    RJM God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    I've learned a tremendous amount from this and other websites. Whether or not what I've learned is useful, websites like this have increased my breadth of knowledge and encouraged me to research and explore into regions I would normally not consider
    Important for a discussion forum to avoid becoming an echo chamber, imo
     
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  9. Ella S.

    Ella S. Logoic Logician

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    Fascinating. I'm glad that you're able to get something from them, then.
     
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  10. RJM

    RJM God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    I joined a Science Fiction writer's forum ten years ago, and from that was triggered to learn all I could as a layman about relativity and quantum theory, etc. It opened me up completely.* Same here: it has taken me far beyond my box. That's the security blanket in my avatar. And as @juantoo3 said elsewhere: one doesn't have to agree or accept the views of others, but one has to tolerate them. There are going to be views far different from my own, but being exposed to them is a very important education, imo.

    *That Sci-fi forum is run by the person who started this IO site 20 years ago.
     
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  11. Ella S.

    Ella S. Logoic Logician

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    Unfortunately, I'm coming at things from the total opposite end. I'm already interested in learning about a wide variety of topics. I've been on a wide variety of forums since I was 8, pretty much growing up on them. They've always been my source of socialization, since I'm a massive shut-in and have chronic health issues.

    And, to me, forums have never done this for me. They've never opened me up to new opinions that I hadn't already considered and studied in-depth. I go to forums to talk about subjects that I'm already interested in, for the most part, and I find that most forums never really go beyond constantly hashing out the same introductory information on one topic or another with the newbies. I have been invited to more specialized private forums and chatrooms where slightly higher-level discussion can be had, but those also turn into echo-chambers.

    The only way that I've been able to obtain consistent high-quality information is through scholarly and academic avenues. Which... honestly, shouldn't be that surprising. I can see how forums can serve as a method of introducing entirely new topics for research, but I already read encyclopedias in my spare time. I've already encountered most of those topics and I've already chosen which ones I want to devote my time to studying deeper.

    I do go out of my way to read the key political theory and philosophy of movements that I disagree with. Unlike internet forums, this sort of book reading has actually changed my mind a lot and in very dramatic ways. However, I don't think being exposed to views far different from the scientific consensus is ever really a good idea. It's mostly discounted pseudoscience and you're just going to end up being confused and misinformed. I learned that one the hard way.

    It is interesting to me that your experience with internet forums has been so much more productive. Maybe you're the right kind of person to gain something from them and I'm just not the kind of person that has any use for them.
     
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  12. RJM

    RJM God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    Evolution is usually a hot potato in 'religious' discussions. Probably the people who most need to absorb the objective science, are the ones who deliberately choose not to. I believe in fact-checking anything I get from the web that sounds strange or unlikely. A lot of folks probably do not -- and that's just lazy because it's so easy nowadays to do a quick check online. Otherwise it can become an endless rabbit hole.

    Again, apologies for sidetracking thread @juantoo3
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2022
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  13. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ....whys guy.... ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Thank you RJM, for trying to play peacemaker.

    And for the record (as can be seen across all of my essays), I pull my information from the fields, from scholarly journals and as close to the source as I can get. I don't cherry pick, but I do analyze knowing full well that the politics rife in the world of science cloud many subjects. While there are some echo chambers, there are also equally vociferous echo chambers that oppose. This is as it should be in true science. That is the only way science is cajoled into changing, as I point out frequently by referencing Thomas Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions."
     
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  14. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    Me, I'm here for the companionship. Us all being able to form a community regardless of our very diverse outlooks on life, the universe, and everything. This place is one of the reasons I keep my faith in humanity.
     
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  15. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ....whys guy.... ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    I actually invite fact checks, and am the only poster here I think that routinely provides reference links to source material. And if "dot"edu sites are not acceptable as reference, nothing ever will be.

    I'm tickled to watch Morton's Daemon in action...
     
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  16. RJM

    RJM God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    @juantoo3
    I don't think anyone who knows your style questions your attitude towards proper scholarship in debates
     
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  17. RJM

    RJM God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    I believe every individual has a personal code of morality which may differ from those of others or from the laws and regulations of the state.

    A soldier might believe it moral to kill to defend his country but not to shoot a man in the back; a Jain might believe it immoral even to crush an ant. A professional thief may believe it fair to steal from strangers, but not from friends or family. The list is endless.

    It is only when a person goes against his/her own personal moral code that he believes himself in his own mind to have offended and to need to be forgiven.

    But it is the one who has no personal moral code whatsoever that is a truly scary individual, imo

    Tribal or national mores are really just a tacit agreement to accept the pervading regulations for good of the tribe. But a person from outside the tribe does not come under the same agreement; in fact is not really even a person.

    When consideration extends beyond the tribe, and for its own sake -- only then can it really be called morality, imo? It is Christ's parable of the good Samaritan?

    (Again, sorry if this is not quite on-topic)
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2022
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  18. Ella S.

    Ella S. Logoic Logician

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    I think a distinction should be made between moral intuition, morality, and ethics.

    Morality describes cultural norms such as mores and taboos. It is a sociological construct.

    Ethics describes a code of conduct or philosophy that prescribes what one ought to do according to reason. It sometimes contradicts morality.

    Moral intuition is the general feeling of what one should and shouldn't do, which often conflicts with both cultural morality and ethical philosophy. I think this is more along the lines of what you're describing here.

    That isn't to say that it's wrong to use the word "moral" in the sense that you have, but it is a little confusing to me in particular
     
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  19. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ....whys guy.... ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    @RJM I think your examples are valid. In different words I said the same in the "Master of my Fate" essay. It seems people all over the world agree morality is a good thing, they disagree on the details and get hung up on "if my way works, you need to follow my way" when the other side of the conversation is thinking the exact same thing. And so they butt heads.

    This entire discussion goes back to a conversation I had with someone over whether morality is objective or subjective. Clearly there are subjective components, but it would appear there is an objective overlay - a raison d'être - that functions as the foundation of all the subjective moralities, formal and informal.

    As I peered back further and further into prehistory trying to peel away the layers of the "moral onion," I've landed in the painted caves.

    Bit of a sticky wicket as there are competing glimmers. Elemental morality in herding and pack animals and purposeful burial of the dead for example. Purposeful burials by Homo Naledi date perhaps as far back as 300kybp (essentially before the harnessing of fire), though this one is still being sorted out. There are purposeful burials recorded among Cro Magnon in the Levant about 100kybp, and Neandertal burials 20k *before* that (Glenn Morton covers these two quite extensively, as do other scholars). Purposeful burials, with grave goods or stained with red ochre, demonstrate so much more than just dumping a dead body in a hole in the ground. These people that performed these burials were cognizant, but not yet conscious. I realize that can be difficult to grasp, but the cognitive development had not reached the point of symbolic reasoning, the same reasoning we take for granted every day so it can be difficult to look back well into your own preschool age childhood and tap into how your own mind operated. It wasn't in written words, numbers and symbols...it was in pictures. That was the only way pre-historic persons' brains operated, because they had not yet developed symbolic reasoning.

    There are other corollaries particularly among the "alternative" religions that coincide with this, and if one considers that during the Dark Ages most of the population of Europe was illiterate this tendency to think in pictures is still strongly latent. It is closely related to "imagination." What I have been saying regarding this is no stretch, we still do these things today in greater and lesser degrees depending on culture and education.

    It is easy to suggest "imagining" this "unseen something," and if it were a chance occurrence, one or maybe two individuals, or spotted here and many thousand years later there...that would make a good argument. But every single cave that was painted was to connect with this "unseen something." It spanned species, families, time and distance. I fail to see how "everybody" imagined the same thing, unless of course there is something actually there.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2022
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  20. RJM

    RJM God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    Oh, now I get your drift
     
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