Opinions on my Spirituality essay

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by DT Strain, Feb 10, 2005.

  1. DT Strain

    DT Strain Spiritual Naturalist

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    Many of you may have read my thread in this forum "Your opinion of my religion essay" and I thank you for your helpful responses!

    I've decided to call that essay "Diversity" and make it the first of a five part collection of essays I am calling "The Noble Conspectus". The second essay will be called "Spirituality" and is a rough draft is as follows. As before, I am very grateful for anyone who would like to tell me what they think!

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    Spirituality

    What is Spirituality?
    For many, the term spirituality refers to religious and supernatural beliefs. You may practice your own personal form of spirituality as related to your beliefs. But there is also another type of spirituality along side that - a shared spirituality between all human beings.

    The word itself hails from the Latin word spiritus, which means wind or breath - essentially the "essence" of something. Spirituality, then, need not refer only to the supernatural, but can also mean those things beyond the mundane, which have deeper and more profound meaning than our simple material needs and shallow concerns.

    These deeper and more meaningful things of life include friendship, virtue, contentment, compassion, beauty, and many other notions which are certainly a part of the physical universe we all share.

    Perspective
    Perhaps a foundational aspect of spirituality would be a healthy perspective of the universe, beginning with a continual quest to become knowledgeable about it. This includes the aforementioned effort to become familiar the basics of science and its method.

    It also includes learning about different understandings and opinions regarding the workings of the universe. It is not necessary to agree with every opinion about the universe in order to understand them, nor would this be logically possible, as many of them contradict one another.

    But second only to learning and exploration of nature, is that we experience awe, appreciation, and humility before it. Whether they believe the universe is the product of an intelligent creator, has always existed, or was the product of natural forces, it is beneficial to have sense of wonder before its magnificence. It is possible to have a spiritual experience before the beauty of a sunset, the luminous nebulae in a telescope, the grace of a flying bird, or when communing with the ocean womb of life on a sandy beach.

    The universe is a stunning marvel of complex patterns on the boundary of complete order and complete randomness. For ages, various peoples and traditions have drawn connections between the different patterns and forms in the universe. The Taoists refered to these patterns in nature as "Li". New emerging sciences of chaos and complexity are revealing the shared underlying mathematical basis between such seemingly disparate things as galaxies and sea shells, economies and ecologies. This is a sort of organic pattern that isn't perfectly sequential, but isn't random either. It has a sense of balance and form that is unpredictable yet recognizable.

    Some might refer to this holistic order as God, infused throughout creation as the stoics did. Others may refer to it as some other cosmic force. Still others may simply marvel at its naturalistic complexity. In all of these cases, we gains insight and perspective through appreciation of the intricacy and wholeness of the universe.

    This same sort of awe and reverence is expressed by scientists and the religious alike. It can inspire art, motivate learning, and encourage preservation and respect for the natural environment. This perspective on the universe is one foundational element of our shared spirituality.

    Contentment
    Another element to our shared spirituality is a demeanor and a mind-set of contentment with life and the universe. This does not mean inaction or a lack of desire for continual improvement of the world and one's self, but it does mean a sense of calm and mature acceptance of those things which are part of the natural order and beyond our control.

    We should always keep the larger picture in mind. We should try to see the span of one life in the context of the span of human history, and humanity's life span in the context of the span of the universe. We should not be petty or self consumed, or exaggerate fortunate or unfortunate events, wallowing in self pity or reveling in gluttonous pride.

    Contentment means realizing that much of our lives are affected by our focus. Much like the ancient Stoics, we should realize that external conditions cannot always be controlled, but that our reaction to them can be. Therefore, we can be forward looking by choosing to focus on what can be done rather than what cannot.

    Through the will of focus, one should take note of those things which he or she has and what he or she can work with. We should make an active effort every day to appreciate that which is good while it lasts. Those things which are transient are to be valued especially, for transience does not render a thing pointless or hopeless. Like a sand castle, an ice sculpture, or like even the Tibetan sand mandala, that which is transient is appreciated for the moment it exists, and not as a means to some other end. This includes relationships, wealth, health, youth, employment, and life itself.

    Whether expecting a continued supernatural existence after death or not, each of us can look on death as a natural part of life. Rather than focusing on the last moment of a life (its end), we can shift our focus to the life as a whole, and appreciate what existed in that unique time. Never once did we mourn the fact that we did not exist in any of the billions of years that came before us. Why then, would we mourn the billions of years of absence which are to come after our material life? Of course, we are all human and will experience emotions of loss and sorrow, but this positive and broad perspective helps us to face life with a contented acceptance, not consumed by passion.

    Meaning
    While we all may receive ultimate meaning through our various beliefs, religions, or philosophies, there are concurrent sources of meaning in life which are common to all of us. There is the previously mentioned appreciation of the universe. There is also the challenge to continue learning, growing, and improving ourselves. This includes continual improvement of knowledge, wisdom, self control, and of course, virtue.

    But we should also realizes that a finely tuned moral agent is meaningless unless he or she is capable of spreading good in the world. He or she also realizes that we are happiest when doing good, helping others, and generally helping to make the world a better place. This offers great meaning in life. It is something we can all share in, and it also makes a fine compliment to our individual belief systems' sources of meaning.

    And lastly, a source of meaning lies in what we pass on to others. Regardless of whatever nonphysical components of the intellect we may or may not believe in, it is clear that the mind also resides in the neural architecture of the brain, as it has formed through life experience. To whatever degree this architecture can be thought of as "us", portions of these patterns are replicated in the brains of others when we teach, when we interact with others, and when we live by example. In the sense of the meme, we literally pass on, reproduce, or even reincarnate portions of ourselves in others. This may be taken literally or figuratively but in either sense, it can be a profound source of meaning for anyone.

    These forms of perspective, contentment, and meaning easily fit within all major religious and philosophic traditions, and are born out of observations of the physical universe we all share as human beings. For this reason, these realizations form the basis of our shared spirituality.
     
  2. Sacredstar

    Sacredstar New Member

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    Dear DT

    Thank you for sharing beautifully written.

    This is the only sentence that I disagree with. The mind is in every cell and every cell as a mind of its own, every cell carries its own memories and its own dynamic soul energy. The brain is a mechanism nothing more the action that triggers it comes from elsewhere. Try to imagine the brain as the hard drive not much happens without the software.

    I had a lovely message this week 'the meaning of life is to work out the meaning of life' love it!

    Blessings in abundance

    Kim
     
  3. DT Strain

    DT Strain Spiritual Naturalist

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    Sacredstar,

    Thanks very much for reading and for your response. I would like to quote again the portion you mentioned, along with a bit more that was connected with that quote. I have bolded some important qualifiers that were included...

    So, perhaps people may refer to these other components as spirit, soul, or even other parts of the mind as you have, but what I am saying in the above is that, while we may believe in various things such as this, certainly a portion of our minds resides in the neural architecture as well.

    So, for instance specific memories can be located in the physical structure of neural connections and even effected, and our decisions have an effect on the neural architecture. This much has been observed directly.

    When you say that "The mind is in every cell" then I would think that what I am saying would be consistent with this notion since neurons are cells too. So, I'm saying that regardless of your other beliefs, it would also be the case that at least part of the mind resides in that neural architecture.

    Do you see what I mean?
     
  4. Sacredstar

    Sacredstar New Member

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    Dear DT

    Yes I accept

    Please forgive my impatience it as been a very heavy week indeed and it is not over yet.

    being love

    Sacredstar
     
  5. DT Strain

    DT Strain Spiritual Naturalist

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    No problems Sacredstar - I just wanted to make sure I was communicating effectively. Thanks again for the input and all the best on your week :)
     
  6. Blue

    Blue Member

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    A good piece DTS; well expressed I thought.

    BUT....

    "Through the will of focus, one should take note of those things which he or she has and what he or she can work with. We should make an active effort every day to appreciate that which is good while it lasts."

    and so we should, but who decides what is unequivocally 'good'? What is this unifying 'goodness'?
    Seeing 'good' in the actions you cite is even upto the very personal perceptions you speak of.
    ======

    The collective 'mind' does seem to have some objective evidence, but who is to say that a collective spirituality, or whatever, has any moral dimension at all that might suit us? Where is the evidence for that?
    Behaving in accord with humanity's basic greed and selfishness seems to be mirrored even in our genetic structures... is this the true moral dimension of which you speak, for where is the evidence in an altruism that always has to be striven for against our basic biological nature?
    And that altruism seems to be in very short supply.

    You use the term "a healthy perspective of the universe,", but what is that?

    'healthy' is a personal judgemental term from your own affective nature and nurture and doesn't seem to have any other basis beyond self. What is the nature of an healthy perspective of the universe? The Universe is just what it is, and surely an healthy perspective upon that is to investigate it and ascertain its objective qualities - be forever questioning?

    To you it is intended to invoke similar feelings of your own about the universe in others. It is a term which is used as propaganda here for the general view you are promoting... one which has much to recommend it for its 'healthy'(!) 'humanitarianism', but isn't, in all honesty, a healthy view of the Universe, one which recognises the Universe isn't some entity that cares whether it is healthy or not... it just exists and our healthy view, our perceptions, of it, should perhaps be that we need a rational, cold assessment of it... not one that seems to suggest that some vague 'goodness' is inherent in it and/or ourselves rather than the chaos and meaninglessness of it all (which I presume you would consider 'unhealthy'). You do seem to suggest to me that the Universe in our perceptions should be perceived as 'healthy', but for the life of me, I cannot see the relevance of that... far better to see it as what it is, so far as we so far know.

    Your conclusion highlights the problem with the piece for me:
    "These forms of perspective, contentment, and meaning easily fit within all major religious and philosophic traditions, and are born out of observations of the physical universe we all share as human beings. For this reason, these realizations form the basis of our shared spirituality."

    They are not "born out of observations of the physical universe we all share". The only observations of any import are those that demonstrate its inherent nature as materially, objectively, examined and determined. People can feel what they like, affectively, about what they observe, and to imagine that they would or could agree is very unlikely indeed. Far better to put one's understandings in what can be objectively determined and validated beyond self.... seeing things for what they are.

    A developed collective consciousness based in what is, and hard reasoning, rather than what one feels as an individual or collectively, seems to me a far more unifying objective and humanitarian one. To exalt some kind of unifying spirituality seems to me to miss the point entirely. As I say above, what on earth(?) could such a shared spirituality be like, and is it ever going to be likely, given the grasping nature of humanity?

    I used to think that it might be possible, but with the exercise of reason and giving due consideration to the findings concerning our objective existence and our psychological and neuro-logical make-up, I have come to see that the our subjective desires, and our affetcive nature is a two-edged sword.

    Only when the affective is balanced with reason and perceptions of what actually IS in the material domain, will we truly work towards a humanitarian lifestyle we can all enjoy, better than what we have perhaps now.

    "A finely tuned moral agent..." sounds absolutely horrible to me, and denies the actual humanity we all like to think we have.

    The only finely tuned moral agency I can envisaged is one that denies its own very existence, forcing people to reason their way to 'good' rational behaviours in a logical manner, rather than be dependent upon vacillating and generalised, often blind, feelings.

    An affective universal harmony, as you seem to portray it, would be not in keeping with what we actually are like.

    To put it bluntly, why should everyone share a "contentment' when perceiving the universe? I perceive something that is very little understood, in fact, which is probably chaotic, which has little regard for even its minor stars, which simply are what they are, and ourselves as a very short-lived excrescence on the surface of a minor heap of earth in a not very special arm of galaxy.

    The universe is there for us to investigate, to unravel its unknowns, to quantify its nature and see it for what it is.

    Affectively, we can marvel at it, even worship it in its complexity, macro and micro, but shouldn't our state in perceiving it be questioning and discontent at not knowing yet what there is to know? Contentment? Never!

    (Apologies for any typos, etc... haven't time to edit!)
     
  7. DT Strain

    DT Strain Spiritual Naturalist

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    Blue,

    In talking about "appreciating what is good", I am not speaking of identifying that which is ethical. I'm talking about a perspective of appreciating the positive things in your life (i.e., it is good that I have a wife that loves me - bad that I have a sore knee). This is a subjective matter of what gives us pleasure or pain. This has nothing to do with the "ethical good" - I'm merely talking about focusing on the positive for mental well being.

    When you speak of a "collective mind" this is completely foreign to what I'm trying to say, so that's why no evidence was provided. When I say "shared spirituality" what I'm saying is that there are certain aspects of spirituality which we all have in common. I'm not talking about any sort of collective link.

    You ask what a "healthy perspective" of the universe is. Everything following that phrase in my original post, that starts "...beginning with..." is my answer to that question.

    When I say that these thoughts are "born out of" the universe we all share, I am not saying that they themselves are empirically observable within the universe. I'm saying it is a perspective that is based on and compatible with the observable physical universe, as opposed to being based on a particular supernatural model.

    Therefore, because we can all see the physical universe (as opposed to the supernatural), a philosophy of spirituality that does not depend on anything outside of the physical universe should be compatible with the spiritualities of peoples of various religions. These perspectives, then, are like a compliment to religious spirituality (or suitable for those without a religious spirituality). And, indeed, when I ask many people from vastly different faiths their thoughts on these statements, many of them have found them appealing, despite their ontological differences with the others.

    I also think you've misunderstood what I mean by contentment, as you seem to have disreagarded this sentence: "This does not mean inaction or a lack of desire for continual improvement". I would also not advocate worship, personification, or ideologizing the universe.
     
  8. Blue

    Blue Member

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    That is all very well, DTS, but you haven't actually - it seems - understood the points I made at all.

    You say here:

    "I'm saying it is a perspective that is based on and compatible with the observable physical universe, as opposed to being based on a particular supernatural model."

    and I am saying this is nonsensical. Your perspective and similarities with other human beings' perspectives has to have regard not just for affective response, but a cognitive and material one. The observable universe can give rise to a myriad of personal affective responses, some very dissimilar... and the latter are no less valid to any particular individual than any others. The true determinant is the nature of that perceived physical universe. The only truly unifying concern is the one that desires to see what it is in itself... not what anyone particular person or group of people might feel about it through affective response as a result of their affective perceptions.

    There is no inbuilt necessity for people to have compatible feelings about the physical universe... some will, some won't, seems to be the fact. You are saying there is some unifying factor in their perceptions which you judge are 'good' rather than 'bad'... a qualitative matter arrived at subjectively.

    What you suggest about people's perceptions is false... you just do not know whether there is or is not a universal perceived conception of the universe affectively. The likelihood is there is not and never will be. The objectively valid perception is the one based in reason and objectivity and that has nothing to do with the affective, unless, as you do, you try to simply 'make it so' by declaring/hypothesising it.

    You are actually saying here that there could be a unified affective perception of the universe. I am saying that is not only unlikely, but probably impossible for human beings as we can be demonstrated to be.

    A further misunderstanding is reinforced by your comment re: contentment.
    This term implies stasis.... it does NOT allow for what you say it does: it is 'inaction' and 'lack of desire for improvement'. If you had those qualities, you would NOT be content. Contentment means you are content with things as they are... you have no desire or lust for anything different, you are content for things to remain as they are... because you ARE content!

    The fact is we are dynamic creatures with a self-regarding faculty and I maintain we will hopefully be forever discontent and continue to reason and question everything without letting feelings get in the way too much.

    A morality based in rationality is the only way forward in my opinion, not vague concepts of 'contentment' regarding some unified spiritual view based in the affective.

    All one can say, in my opinion, is that evidence seems to suggest we all share a potential for spiritual response, but the nature of that response will be forever variable according to the affective nature and nurture of the individual... and like it not, that will involve many in a supernatural basis for their concepts within themselves.

    BTW... human moral conceptions give rise to ethical doctrines, along with what is perceived as social necessities, laws and dogmas. The moral concerns come first... ethics afterwards. There is no necessity though for an ethic to be actually 'moral' in any universal sense... it could involve an 'immorality' to someone's moral conceptions and ethical conceptions if translated into law.... is that not the case?
     
  9. Blue

    Blue Member

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    Also, BTW, one person's 'positive' can easily be a 'negative' to others! Think about it... :)
     
  10. DT Strain

    DT Strain Spiritual Naturalist

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    It's true that the physical universe can give rise to a myriad of affective responses. I am not saying my approach is the only response to the physical universe. I'm saying that it is one response, but that it is a response to the physical universe and nothing else.

    X comes from Y
    - is not equal to -
    all Y leads to X

    Furthermore, when you say that "the latter is no less valid... than any others" I would also differ. While it's true that multiple responses may be equally valid in a logical/structural sense, they are not all of equal worth.

    Affectual responses to the universe guide our thoughts and actions and perspective of life in general. Some of these will lead to greater or lesser levels of stress, happiness, well being, interaction with others, and so on. These matters of subjective affectual perspective have real and objective consequences on people's quality of life.

    What I am proposing is one affective response to the universe which seems to me to provide a positive benefit to people's lives. Now, maybe I'm wrong, but my point is that I am indeed right or wrong about that.

    Arrived at through observation.

    You're speaking as if this "universal perceived conception" is some object floating out in space somewhere that one can "believe exits". I am merely saying, "here are some concepts which seem helpful to people's lives, and should be logically consistent with most people's religious views."

    The efficacy of affective responses and perceptions on improving quality of life is objective and measurable, regardless of any human being's knowledge of it.

    Not every single knook and crany of our perceptions, no. But there can be (and are) perceptions which are helpful and spread between large numbers of people. That's all I'm doing. When I say "shared" that doesn't imply that it must be shared by every single human being.

    Also, "shared" simply means that it's based off of what we all can observe together - the physical universe (as opposed to the supernatural).

    Again, you are overgeneralizing. Saying someone is happy, for example, doesn't mean they're happy all the time, for all eternity, in every concievable situation. A person with a generally content demeanor is not constantly weighted down with misery and discontentment. This doesn't mean that they won't act when such is required. It means that they are patient and willing to act at the appropriate time and in the best possible way. Not before the best time or after it. Much of this point relies on your own subjective interpretation of the connotations regarding the word "content" so I would just ask you to look at the content of what's being said and not get hung up on semantics.

    I agree - and that is not incompatible with what I'm saying. I could take what you said here and equally twist it to a ridiculous extreme saying, "If we are discontent we will be miserable people wallowing in depression, commiting suicide in droves." But if I did that I would be focusing exclusively on the semantics of the word "discontent", applying it as I see fit instead of trying to actually understand the meaning behind what you're attempting to communicate.

    This isn't about morality - it's about spirituality. Morality will be a different essay. And when it comes to that then I agree - morality should be based on rationality.

    Yes it will - i agree. My essay is not a documentation of "is", it's an appeal for "ought". It is not descriptive, it is prescriptive. You are countering a prescriptive appeal with a descriptive argument, so it doesn't apply.

    But, like I said, even though people will differ, there is greater potential for agreement when you base affectual responses to spirituality on the physical universe, which is compatible with concerrent spiritual perspectives based on individual's supernatural-based perspectives.

    This may not be a complete system, but it outlines a few components of potential agreement.

    This paper has to do centrally with spirituality, not with morality or ethics or law. But certainly laws can be both immoral or unethical in themselves. I don't see how this pertains to this topic though.
     
  11. DT Strain

    DT Strain Spiritual Naturalist

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    bah, my update not showing on the main page again - maybe this will do it :)
     
  12. Blue

    Blue Member

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    Thankyou for the reply, DTStrain.

    You say:
    "I would also differ. While it's true that multiple responses may be equally valid in a logical/structural sense, they are not all of equal worth."

    'worth' is a matter of value judgement. This means that any estimate of 'worth' is judged in terms of value to an individual or group. I would maintain therefore that we are dealing here with a relativity where any individual's or group's judgement carries equal value... even when they conflict with any other individual's or group's view.
    We make our personal value judgements affectively in the main... "how we feel" about something, an issue or whatever. Often reason goes out of the window, and such judgements can be often found to be 'unreasonable' on objective and logical grounds.
    -----------
    What one conceives of as 'positive benefit to human kind' is not necessarily so for all humankind, just because it is declared so by some individual or group. That too is just a value judgement.
    -----------
    This, if I may so, is a nonsense:

    "The efficacy of affective responses and perceptions on improving quality of life is objective and measurable, regardless of any human being's knowledge of it."

    If no human being has knowledge of it... there are no affective responses to consider and no objective assessments can be made!
    Their 'efficacy' will only be a further value judgement based in no objectivity at all... feelings will guide the judgement instead of objective reasoning.

    Judgements of the "efficacy" of any affective judgements put into actions by individuals or a group, have to focus upon the behaviours... the affective responses that gave rise to them are immaterial. It is the behavoiurs that count. It doesn't matter what someone declares as their reason to murder another human being, what matters is that a human being has been deliberately killed by another. Any number of various declarations may be made as to why.

    Behaviours can be examined rationally, and having reasoned about them objectively, decisions can be made. It is always better to exercise a measure of reason to affective matters....
    The affective responses are based purely in feelings.... and if reason does not temper them... the usual result is disaster.

    Judgements of affective responses should be based in reason... not just another set of emotive reactions and further value judgements.

    -Think of the wisdom of a Solomon in ascertaining the factual truth by saying he would have the baby chopped in half. He was exercising reason and not passing judgement affectively... he was concerned to demonstrate the factual truth.
    ---------
    You further say:

    "Yes it will - i agree. My essay is not a documentation of "is", it's an appeal for "ought". It is not descriptive, it is prescriptive. You are countering a prescriptive appeal with a descriptive argument, so it doesn't apply."

    and this is the first time you openly admit to what I object so much!

    As soon as someone starts offering prescriptive solutions, they are being judgemental instead of objective.

    You are indeed suggesting what "ought" to be the case; something founded in your own value judgements.

    This is especially so in spiritual and moral concerns.... Oh... and in that connection to say I concentrated upon the moral... well please explain how one has an 'immoral' spirituality? All religions focus upon a prescribed morality. All spiritual responses embody affective moral attitudes and judgements.
    ---------
    I have no objections to your initial thesis, which I thought was about identifying matters such as "virtue, contentment, compassion, beauty, and many other notions which are certainly a part of the physical universe we all share."
    But you see, that statement again ends with the fallacy: " part of a physical universe we share". The Universe has no 'friendliness', it has no demonstrable 'compassion' or 'beauty'... they are judgements and concepts imposed upon the universe through affective responses to what is perceived, by human beings. They are not 'physical' at all! They are affective judgements. I am not belittling such judgements. I am only asking for reason to be given its proper place in all decision making... especially those regarding spiritual matters.

    The rest of your Paper suggests the impositon/prescription for some unified view; am I not correct?

    This intention of recognising the similarities, across spiritual reponses, and religions, if you like, is worth doing... because it demonstrates that a murderer can also express love and affection, perhaps, or a Muslim can demonstrate he is as compassionate as a Christian, (though how you would devise a measure for the latter, I do not know), but to go further and suggest that a murderer can be anything other than a murderer or someone else deny their spiritual responses which are affectively individual to them, be they Christian or Islamic (or Pagan), gets no one very far at all.

    I too have always been struck by the similarities between different individuals' and groups' spiritual responses, but to me it seems you were prescribing some objective that would claim to be 'ultimate', and that doesn't appear valid to me... in reason, for it denies our humanity, as selfish, greedy and territorially possessive and jealous animals, with a capacity to sometimes act altruistically.

    I too would claim there is a spiritual aspect to many human beings' responses to the Universe, but I would never claim they might lead to some 'ultimate' of spiritually similar understandings... because the seat of spiritual response is the affective nature and nurture of the individual, and will vary as much as human individuals vary.

    The spiritual responses of some ancient peoples took them as far as eating the brains of their enemies, or destroying the enemies of their tribe's spiritual creed... but they are equally valid responses as saying we should love one another because a blood sacrifice upon a cross supposedly took place.

    Your conclusion that a shared meme has somehow the inbuilt necessity of 'truth' is just not valid by any measure. Memes attempt to justify themselves whatever logical reasoning is brought to bear.

    "These forms of perspective, contentment, and meaning easily fit within all major religious and philosophic traditions, and are born out of observations of the physical universe we all share as human beings. For this reason, these realizations form the basis of our shared spirituality."

    The fact is that what you describe does NOT "fit within all major religious and philosophic traditions", especially 'contentment' as any overview of different spiritual responses and religions will demonstrate, and many do not depend upon the physical and objective nature of the Universe, but run counter to it... yet are equally valid.

    I think you have confused having a personal/individual spiritual response, with some notion of 'shared spirituality' between individuals on a universal scale. The only thing we seem to share is 'greediness', selfishness... survival at any cost.

    All that matters is that any particular action performed by an individual or a group can be considered rationally in accordance with some defined affective notions of 'good' and 'bad'.
    Did the actions produce objective benefit to the individual or group is the key question? The reasons do not matter... as motivations, the actions do, because they had observable effects upon the physical being of others.

    The starving person does not care in my experience where the food comes from, or for what feelings or reasons it was made available. He or she only cares for the fact that they can eat, when before they couldn't.

    Metaphysics, affective judgements, even logical reasons do not matter... what matters is the food provided.
     
  13. DT Strain

    DT Strain Spiritual Naturalist

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    Correction - that MAY be a value judgment, or it may happen to be objective fact. While some things may not necessarily be a benefit to all of mankind and only a part, other things may indeed be a benefit to the entire species - and objectively so.



    So, saying that it's just a value judgment, is no different that saying, "says you!" but only more adult-sounding. These concepts either are or are not beneficial to the overall species, and we can talk about arguments for or against each one.



    In other words, some value judgments can potentially be objectively correct. If I lived in a world where we didn't know about bacteria, but I happened to notice my mouth felt better after brushing my teeth and I said, "brushing teeth is good for people" this might be a value judgment, but it would also be objectively correct.



    If the principles I laid out were adopted by people, I am asserting a good likelihood that they would be beneficial on the whole. I am either correct or incorrect in that judgment.







    This is an absurd overstatement. You are saying that if nukes went off all over the world in our major cities just as a deadly virus were released all over the planet, that our belief that we were worse off would just be a subjective "feeling"? I'm sorry, but I believe that people are ALSO capable of coming to conclusions by looking at their situation, which reflect objective fact.



    In the very same way, we can look at the effects of various behavioral norms and study their effects on the society. It's not all just smoke and mirrors and matters of subjective opinion. That notion is foolishness.







    I disagree. While the behaviors matter, ultimately the reasons for the behaviors must be looked at. If everyone on the planet believes that a purple dinosaur knows all and thinks that bathing is naughty, then you won't have much luck affecting people's willingness to bath regularly. So, affective responses lead directly to objective effects. To ignore them is insanity.







    First of all, what in the world ever made you believe that being judgmental was a bad thing? People are capable of making judgments and it is a good thing that they do make them. Some judgments are objectively correct, some objectively incorrect to various degrees, but judgments are crucial.



    Secondly, why would you believe that judgments are hopelessly subjective and therefore irrelevant, or that judgments cannot be objectively correct? Behaviors have objective effects. If Behavior X leads to a positive effect, then X is something that we objectively ought to do. Observing the evidence we have, we can come to the conclusion that X is something that ought to be done and then declare that. We might be wrong but someday doctors may discover that brushing teeth has some harmful unknown effect and then reverse their declarations that we ought to brush our teeth. The situation is no different.



    You act as though the only things that are objective are descriptions of what "is". This is grossly incorrect and a severe misunderstanding in my view.







    Spirituality is completely different from morality. There is so little overlap that it's hard to know where to begin in answering your question. It's like as if you asked why orange juice and communism weren't connected.







    You misunderstand. I do not say that the universe has friendliness or anything like that. What I say is that, by the nature of the things in this universe, one can determine that friendliness, compassion, etc. when practiced by humans will have an objective effect of x, y, and z. This can be observed and studied objectively and scientifically. Therefore, no supernatural or otherworldly phenomena is needed to discuss the objective effects of these practices. My toothbrushing analogy is not mere analogy - it is the very same situation. The fact that many religions have historically been involved in ethics is no more relevant than if they had been saying things about brushing teeth.







    So you are saying that I somehow am claiming...

    1) a murderer can be anything other than a murderer

    2) people should deny their spiritual responses which are affectively individual to them



    Both of these seem to come from nowhere and are not in any way related to anything I posted. Nor would I ever suggest such a bizarre thing.







    Again, you approach what I've written as though it were meant to be an anthropological study of how humanity IS. This is an incorrect approach, as no attempt has been made by me to describe the nature of human beings as it exists.







    I make no claims as to where anything might "lead" in the future. I also make no claims about anything "ultimate" or superceding.







    These responses are equally valid, but what you fail to recognize is that they are equally without grounding in physical reality. Not all "oughts" are such.







    So you're claiming that I'm saying...

    "a shared meme has the inbuilt necessity of 'truth'"

    False. Again, you seem to think I've claimed something I didn't and never would (as this would be a ridiculous assertion). I'm not even sure where to start in response, other than to ask that you please re-read the original post.







    Can you give me a specific example of what you're talking about here with contentment (as I clarified to you - not as you mistook my meaning of the word)?







    I do not claim that they depend upon the physical and objective nature of the Universe - it is quite obvious that they do not. What I am claiming is that the particular spiritual values which I am highlighting can be shown to be wise, using arguments that do not require any assumptions about reality beyond the physical universe - AND (as a completely separate notion) - that these spiritual values happen to be shared between many faiths. The fact that they may hold these spiritual values because of their different belief systems about reality is irrelevant to me or my point.







    False. We do share these things, but we also share many other traits. If we didn't then whole institutions, activities, and cultural elements that now exist would not. Your value judgments about humanity are lacking, inaccurate, and unrealistic in my view.







    Yes, and what I am saying is that if some are a Christian that believe in compassion because of their beliefs, and if others are Buddhists that believe in compassion because of theirs, then the reasons why they believe in compassion is irrelevant. The fact is that they both do and so they can both promote compassion - it is a shared value.







    You are correct on that, and nothing I wrote contradicts that. But the fact remains that there ARE objective reasons why compassion is a wise value for human beings to hold, and these reasons have nothing to do with phenomena outside the physical objective universe. If these reasons exist, then they should be examined. It is my assertion that they do exist.
     
  14. Blue

    Blue Member

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    Correction - that MAY be a value judgment, or it may happen to be objective fact.
    ================
    If it is an objective fact, then you won't mind posting the objective evidence to show it is no loger a value judgement.

    You show a peculiar disregard of terms.

    A value judgement is just that.
    An objective statement is equally just that.

    An objective statement with available evidence is NOT a value judgement.

    Value judgements that may or may not result in an objective enquiry are neither here nor there!

    The benefits or otherwise of any value judgements are subject to objective assessments of their worth after the event.

    Subject your own to objective assessment... and then, I agree, they will no longer be just personal value judgements.

    I trust in what IS, not what might be in metaphysical terms, value judgements, personal affectivity, that are notoriously unreliable to be used as reasons for performing actions. Human history demonstrates that perfectly well... whether the values used were nationalistic, religious and spiritual, or otherwise.

    We obviously differ in that you hope people will act on 'principles' rather than sound reasoning. History shows 'principles' to be the major cause of wars, cruelty and horrors perpetrated in the name of those many and various 'principles'.

    That is the attitude (acting in the name of principles) of preferring 'Unreason' over humane, factually based discussions, diplomatic and rational disputation in human affairs.
     
  15. Blue

    Blue Member

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    You may or may not appreciate this quotation, DTS, though others may find it interesting:

    Sengstan:
    "The Great Way is not difficult
    for those who have no preferences.
    When love and hate are both absent
    everything becomes clear and undisguised.
    Make the smallest distinction, however,
    and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.
    If you wish to see the truth
    then hold no opinions for or against anything.
    To set up what you like against what you dislike
    is the disease of the mind." ?

    Do note the last two lines.

    ---------

    It is interesting is it not, that these two lines are also relevant:

    "If you wish to see the truth
    then hold no opinions for or against anything."

    As Huang-Po and others the appeal is to reason. In reason and logic is clarity.... Opinions are dangerous. Let's stick with what IS, not might-be's and may-be's. Let's stick with the objective, and realise that all else is bound up within making value judgements that could or could not have objective relevance behind them.

    :)
     
  16. Blue

    Blue Member

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    Huang-Po said:

    "This pure mind, which is the source of all things, shines forever with the radiance of its own perfection.  But most people are not aware of it, and think that mind is just the faculty that sees, hears, feels, and knows.  Blinded by their own sight, hearing, feeling, and knowing, they don't perceive the radiance of the source."

    The source is the rationality... REASON itself, as compared with the personal "sight, hearing, feeling, and knowing" affectively.

    In REASON there is no dualism, only what he called "clarity".

    He also argued that perceiving the 'source' is to realise the essential fault of affectively categorising and conceptualising.... Clear logic and meditatively sourced rejection of affectively based concepts, was the route to clarity perceivable in the 'source'.

    Reason shines with the radiance of its own perception. It does not 'judge', it does not 'love', it does not 'hate', it simply is essential clarity and logically incorruptible, having rejected all moral conceptualisations, seeing everything as what it IS.
    Science ultimately seeks the source and objective truth of all things. It seeks the 'source' as surely as Huang-Po's personal techniques.


    :)
     
  17. DT Strain

    DT Strain Spiritual Naturalist

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    Blue,

    I am speaking only of what can be objectively measured. When we take on different perspectives, attitudes, or even ethical norms if you like, this has an objective effect on humanity one way or the other, and this can be measured empirically through sociological and historical study.

    For instance, we can compare states with and without the death penalty, who share a good deal of other demographic and social traits in common and then make estimates as to the effects of the practice on crime rates. We can also look at before and after statistics of the same state. It may be more akin to meteorology than to physics - but it is a science.

    In exactly the same way, you can look at historic, statistical, and sociological evidence to gather an overall theory on the effects of various ethical or spiritual cultural norms.

    Science is not so limited as you would seem to think. The scientific method can be applied to many things effectively.
     

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