Moral Quandaries

juantoo3

....whys guy.... ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb
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Moral Quandaries

Kindest regards to all!

I would like to begin a thread dealing with moral quandaries. My purpose is not to solicit condescending platitudes, but to engage discussion of genuine philosophical conflicts of the everyday variety. This is an exercise in exploring the psychology that drives us morally, in an attempt to discover why we do what we do. It is easy to claim a moral high ground, and even strive to attain it. It is another matter altogether to live up to those same claims. I suspect some questions have no answers, and certainly not easy answers. Additional conflicts are encouraged to be submitted for discussion.

For instance, why is it that we (in the collective, general sense) seem to vent our most violent psychological and physical hatred on those we love the most? Does it stem from such constant close proximity? Is it because we feel most comfortable with these people, and therefore feel free to express in ways we wouldn't dare consider in polite (read: moral) society? Is it that love is subjective and fleeting, that we no longer "love" these same people? Is there a direct relationship between love and hate?

What drives hatred? Is it endemic, and part of our natural inclinations? Why are we disposed to dissociate from those that are not like us, especially those who do not fit comfortably into our clique or group? Why, even with the best intent, do we still hold certain prejudices? For example, we may hold as intent the admirable goal of not being judgmental, yet find ourselves turning away from and avoiding a person with the misfortune of being horribly scarred from some accident.

Another intriguing conflict that has come to my attention involves a concept labeled in German "Schadenfreude." I've afraid my German leaves a great deal to be desired, and my source is but one article, so I may be incorrect in this, but the concept has no English term to label it. The concept is that we delight in seeing the misfortune of others. Let a friend step on a rake and have the handle rise up and smash him in the mouth, and you cannot help but laugh at him. Situation comedies are rife with this form of humor, and judging by the ratings received, we are not offended but rather seek more of the same. But to step back from the situation is to realize that that individual has received very real pain from his misfortune, and rather than empathize with that person's suffering and seek to alleviate it, we instead find a source of glee. Of course, when similar things happen to us, we realize the pain, and then suffer the humiliation of embarrassment. Is this moral?

Since religion, including pseudo-religion, has as its goal the promotion of morality, why is it there are so many conflicts of morality that we overlook or make light of? It would seem that morality is the promotion of society for the benefit of the individual. Yet morality seems at times subjective, and regardless of explicit benefit, gets ignored or contravened. Some of these conflicts seem average (as opposed to normal) behavior, so I wonder if we are predisposed or "hard-wired" for such responses. Therefore, is morality contrary to human nature? Would one act morally if morality were not taught and stressed? And ultimately, who was the first to teach morality? At what point in human social development were the benefits of morality realized?

Sticky questions, but then, that is the purpose of this discussion.
 
juantoo3 said:
Should Artificial Intelligence be considered and treated as "life?"

Namaste juantoo,

it would depend, for me at least. as soon as the machine starts to exhibit the "requirement for life" such as reproduction, awareness of it's surroundings via senses and the like, then i'd be inclined to call it "life".

my real concern here is if we are creating a life form that will eventually doom us, ala Matrix.

that is a real, legitimate concern amongst the technologists that i've heard speak on the subject.
 
Kindest Regards Vajradhara!
that is a real, legitimate concern amongst the technologists that i've heard speak on the subject.
What then, in their (technologists') view, distinguishes AI and makes it "alive?" Does it gain a "soul?" Or perhaps "spirit" is the better term?

Related somewhat, does a dog or cat have a spirit/soul?

Do animals in general have spirit/souls?

Do plants have spirit/souls?

Do rocks have spirit/souls?
 
juantoo3 said:
Kindest Regards Vajradhara!

What then, in their (technologists') view, distinguishes AI and makes it "alive?" Does it gain a "soul?" Or perhaps "spirit" is the better term?

Related somewhat, does a dog or cat have a spirit/soul?

Do animals in general have spirit/souls?

Do plants have spirit/souls?

Do rocks have spirit/souls?

Namaste juantoo,

what makes them alive is their ability to sense their surrounds via their sense organs and respond and adapt to them, their ability to reproduce, i.e. make more machines. of course... things may have changed since i don't keep up on this field... my brother-in-law has a PhD in Artifical Intelligence so i ask him quite a few of these sorts of questions. i do find it very interesting... it just doesn't grab me as say, cosmology or quantum theory does. :)

er... i don't believe that any being has a soul or spirit, that is one of the things that is specifically refuted in the Buddhist teachings :) but, for people that do have that belief... i think those are good questions.
 
Kindest Regards, Vajradhara,
And Namaste to you!

er... i don't believe that any being has a soul or spirit, that is one of the things that is specifically refuted in the Buddhist teachings :) but, for people that do have that belief... i think those are good questions.

Forgive my ignorance please. I realize Taoism and Buddhism are separate entities, yet are complementary in certain regions. "Chi", what I understand loosely to be "lifeforce", is taught by Taoism to be all pervading. In effect, everything has a soul/spirit. Including rocks. With absolutely no offense intended, I can see that one branch of Buddhism may not acknowledge this component. But do other branches, those that have merged with Taoism? And what is their view, if you are aware?
I ask that I may learn, if I am mistaken please correct me.
 
"For instance, why is it that we (in the collective, general sense) seem to vent our most violent psychological and physical hatred on those we love the most? Does it stem from such constant close proximity? Is it because we feel most comfortable with these people, and therefore feel free to express in ways we wouldn't dare consider in polite (read: moral) society? Is it that love is subjective and fleeting, that we no longer "love" these same people? Is there a direct relationship between love and hate?"


This is the part of the question that holds the most interest for me, having been involved in abusive relationships in the past, and having worked for a time in a domestic violence shelter. It seems that people tend to view their loved ones, particularly close family members, like wives and children, but also 'significant others,' as some extension of themselves in some way. They seem to feel freer to act and react at them in ways they often would not think of doing to other people they know (so, a wife abuser can be charming to his friends and a horror at home.) I don't believe there is a lack of love, rather that the individual has never learned to love properly, having had few or no examples of this in their own lives .. their spirit, or psyche, whatever, has become distorted, probably as a result of former abuse, since this is usually the pattern, and they now love to the best of their ability. There is often a great fear of abandonment and a need to control the loved one at all costs.
Abusers are often some of the saddest individuals you will come across, though one cannot fully pity them because they do have a choice, whether they choose to recognize it or not. However, it is not unusual for them to turn their destructive tendencies on themselves if they lose their victims (often this is going on all along in the form of substance abuse for example.) They do tend to regret their actions afterwards and try to make up for them, so they do recognize the moral implications, but they often seem powerless to rise above the cycle they've created for themselves.

These people are extreme examples, of course, but it does point to some of the complexities of the situation. It does not seem enough to know right from wrong or the correct moral choice, as most of us do .. there seem to be compelling reasons to resist the proper choices in many people. So many people take a helpless stance in their lives and are carried along by their emotions and impulses and refuse to make a considered choice at all. In this fashion the line between human and non-human animal is further blurred, since some non-humans do seem to act with more charity than some humans.

I've always found this situation fascinating since, in my own life, I find it is entirely possible to take control of oneself and become whatever one wants. However, many people I've talked to claim otherwise, that they are truly helpless in this. Is there a basic difference in ability in this area or do some people simply refuse to acknowledge their power to change?
 
Namaste Juan,

thank you for the post.

my apologies for not seeing it sooner :)

juantoo3 said:
Forgive my ignorance please. I realize Taoism and Buddhism are separate entities, yet are complementary in certain regions.
quite correct.

"Chi", what I understand loosely to be "lifeforce", is taught by Taoism to be all pervading. In effect, everything has a soul/spirit.
Chi has a lot of meanings... it's difficult to confine it in the way that we like to do. nevertheless, there is a distinction, in my view, between, say an impersonal force like Chi and a very personal soul or spirit. recall, that the Taoist teachings are fairly explict in their teachings of spirit... which is not the same as Chi, per se.

Including rocks. With absolutely no offense intended, I can see that one branch of Buddhism may not acknowledge this component.
again.. it depends on how we are using the word. Chi, as a force of life energy, is talked about quite a bit in Taoist literature... however, the manipulation of Chi through the WaterWheel exercise is considered to be a minor byway... not the heart of the praxis.

so... keeping that in mind... it would be likely that Buddhists in general would have no dispute with Chi as understood to be energy. some would dispute that it means "spirit" (depending on how that word is defined) and all would dispute that it means "soul".

But do other branches, those that have merged with Taoism? And what is their view, if you are aware?
there really isn't a school of Buddhism that merged with Taoism, per se. there are several schools that have been influenced by Taoist thought and vice versa. Typically, these are the Ch'an and Pure Land schools and a few less popular and well known schools.

again... it really comes down to how we define the terms. if we define spirit or soul as a static, unchanging entity, Buddhists would not agree.
 
Theory and practice of...

Namaste Vajradhara:

You should have come across this question from me elsewhere.

What do you say:

Compared to astigmatism, Buddhism, Taoism, and your current miff, Scientology, are speculative systems.

Now, with astigmatism, our knowledge is not speculative, so that if you don't go to the ophthalmologist and the optometrist for your astigmatism, you are going to miss something in life which is crucial to seeing the world as you certainly would like to see it.

But with Buddhism, Taoism, and Scientology, you can go through life comfortably and feasibly without them.

In their place I would suggest the standard guidance counsellor in school, if you feel that you should have some orientation in life that such speculative systems claim to be able to satisfy.

Pachomius2000
 
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