back to the beginning: morality

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Mon Aug 03, 2020 5:41 pm

Is an Existentialist Ethics Possible?
Does Sartre’s philosophy give us any clues about how we should live? Yes, says Jonathan Crowe – he showed us that we can’t avoid choosing.

The early French existentialists, such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, were very much public figures. They involved themselves in political and social debates, applying their philosophical views to current issues and events. Given this practical approach to philosophy, it seems paradoxical that philosophers continue to be sceptical about the possibility of constructing an ethical theory based on existentialism. In this article, I want to explore two of the main reasons for this scepticism and suggest that there is a way around them.


First of all, the French existentialists formulated their moral and political philosophies at a historical juncture that included the French Resistance to Hitler and the Nazis, as well as a world in which the Soviet Union and Communism were still construed by many as ascending historically around the globe. Back then to speak of living "authentically" was on a different level of magnitude than the circumstances we face today.

On the other hand, the components of my own moral philosophy are argued [by me] to be ever and always present in every and all historical and cultural context. In all human communities. I merely assume a No God universe.

The first reason frequently given for doubting the possibility of an existentialist ethics is that existentialism is merely descriptive. The main thrust of existentialist philosophy has always been ontology – that is, existentialist philosophers have sought to describe and categorise the elements of the world as it appears to them.


So, is the world of human interactions at the existential juncture of identity, value judgments and political power able to be grappled with and grasped objectively -- ontologically? teleologically? I don't believe so. And no one of late has managed to demonstrate to me that what they believe here, all reasonable men and women are in turn obligated to believe.

More to the point, it's not just a matter of how the world around us is described, but how and why different individuals come to describe it in so many conflicted ways...and precisely when value judgments come into conflict. Facts about the world can be established, but not how, morally and politically, reality necessarily constrains our reaction to them.

This part:

However, ontology, or describing the world as it is, is quite different from ethics, which asks how the world ought to be. To construct an existentialist ethics, it seems, one would have to bridge the seemingly insurmountable chasm between ‘is’ and ‘ought’, made famous in modern moral philosophy by David Hume. Most philosophers now accept that one cannot validly reach conclusions about what ought to be the case based solely on descriptions of how things are.


Here of course my own interest revolves not around the conclusions philosophers come to in exchanges of "general description intellectual contraptions", but how their "technical" conclusions are relevant in regard to sets of circumstances in which even advocates for philosophers like Kant can come to opposite moral convictions given any particular issue "in the news".
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Thu Aug 13, 2020 4:21 pm

Is an Existentialist Ethics Possible?
Does Sartre’s philosophy give us any clues about how we should live? Yes, says Jonathan Crowe – he showed us that we can’t avoid choosing.

The second reason for being sceptical about the viability of an existentialist ethics arises from the widespread perception of existentialism as a form of moral subjectivism. According to moral subjectivism, morality is simply a matter of individual preferences. There is no objective way of judging one person’s moral preferences to be better or worse than those of another.


Once again, we can attempt to pin down "technically" as "serious philosophers" the extent to which this is in fact what being a "moral subjectivist" encompasses. Defining both words with just enough precision to make them practically useless in regard to particular subjects as individuals discussing their own moral values as existentialists.

Me, I acknowledge right from the start that there may well be an objective, universal, essential morality. Be it derived from 1] God 2] being "at one" with the universe 3] one or another deontological assessment [re Kant] or 4] by way of attaching political economy itself [as Ayn Rand did] to a "metaphysical" embrace of capitalism.

Or as some insist 5] from nature itself.

My point, instead, is to take whatever moral narrative/political agenda that any particular individual subscribes to [philosophically, spiritually or otherwise] and explore/assess it in regard to a specific set of circumstances.

You call yourself an existentialist? Okay, what do you believe that all rational and virtuous men and women are obligated -- or most obligated -- to pursue in the way of behaviors when confronted by others who share in the conviction that reason must prevail here, but come to conflicting conclusions regarding which behaviors actually are the most rational. And thus most virtuous.

In this way, existentialism is often portrayed as promoting a view of morality where anything goes. This picture fits in well with popular perceptions of existentialist philosophers as trenchcoat-wearing nihilists solemnly proclaiming the death of God in cafés on the Parisian Left Bank. While hanging about in cafés in Paris is certainly an important part of the existentialist tradition, I would argue that the existentialist view of morality is more complex than this picture suggests.


However existentialism might be portrayed in this manner a more sophisticated understanding of it in my view revolves around the idea of "authenticity". Living one's life in a more or less "authentic" or "inauthentic" manner.

In other words, to the extent that you attempt to objectify either yourself or others, you are being inauthentic. Why? Because you are basing your behaviors less on the existential trajectory of your own life and more on the "received wisdom" of others. Hell becomes other people to the extent that they objectify you and see you only in relationship to their own authoritarian dictums.

Where I then part company from existentialists of this sort is in the manner in which I include that my own self -- "I" -- is "fractured and fragmented" to the point that making a distinction between behaving authentically or inauthentically is in turn just another "existential contraption" rooted in dasein.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Wed Aug 19, 2020 4:38 pm

Is an Existentialist Ethics Possible?
Does Sartre’s philosophy give us any clues about how we should live? Yes, says Jonathan Crowe – he showed us that we can’t avoid choosing.

Sartre contends that valuing other people’s freedom is necessary to maintain ‘strict consistency’. Since I cannot avoid recognising that I am inherently free, any decision not to value freedom amounts to self-deception. However, this argument has been criticised on the basis that Sartre’s appeal to ‘strict consistency’ is unjustified. Sartre seems to assume there is moral value in behaving consistently with human reality, without offering any justification for this view. As such, he appears to be drawing an unwarranted inference from description to value.


Yes, valuing other people's freedom in an intellectual cloud like this is easy enough. But what happens when what they wish to pursue freely collides with that which you wish to pursue freely instead. Joe wants to own and operate automatic weapons. Jim wants to live in a world where owning them is against the law. Bob loves his steaks. Jane insists that eating the flesh of animals is immoral. Tom wants his unborn baby to live. Mary wants to abort it.

And on and on in context after context where actual conflicting goods renders "maintaining strict consistency" anything but...possible? Thus deciding whether it is justified or not can be seen as, well, moot. In my view, embracing it as either one or the other is no less rooted in "I".

In other words, neither Sartre nor others of his philosophical ilk ever really confront the arguments that I make about "I" coming to embody freedom as an existential fabrication derived from living a life in one particular way rather than another.

Instead, it is back up into the clouds:

It is important to note that Sartre’s reasoning only involves an invalid inference from description to value if he is interpreted as trying to prove that freedom is valuable. In other words, the above objection understands Sartre as advancing an argument something like the following: freedom is a fundamental feature of human reality, therefore humans ought to value freedom.


Pick a set of circumstances involving conflicting goods. Then reconfigure this point into that which you believe the author is trying say about Sartre's existential freedom. As that engenders an existentialist ethics.

However, I think there is another way of reading Sartre’s argument in Existentialism and Humanism that does not involve such an invalid inference. Perhaps, rather than attempting to prove that freedom is valuable, he is arguing that the worth of freedom is self-evident; that is, if we carefully examine our ethical beliefs, we will find that we are already aware of freedom’s inherent value.


Okay, assume that the "worth of freedom is self-evident". So: Whose freedom to do what coming into conflict with someone else's freedom to do something entirely the opposite? And even when the discussions encompass "serious philosophy" in an epistemological debate over [technically] that which actually can or cannot be known, or whether words should be defined this way instead of that, such exchanges can go on and on and on with neither side [any side] budging an inch. And even here assuming some measure of autonomy is involved.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Wed Aug 26, 2020 4:36 pm

Is an Existentialist Ethics Possible?
Does Sartre’s philosophy give us any clues about how we should live? Yes, says Jonathan Crowe – he showed us that we can’t avoid choosing.

...Sartre is pointing out that, since the value of freedom is self-evident to anyone who carefully considers the nature of ethical action, it would be inconsistent for us to act in a way that undermines freedom’s moral value. In other words, any attempt to deny freedom’s worth is unsustainable because it goes against moral values that anyone would recognise, upon reflection, to be correct.


The value of freedom is self-evident if you wish to argue that in a world where free will is assumed to exist, we can hold others to be morality responsible for anything they do as long as they were not forced to do it by events beyond their control. Instead, once again, things become problematic when those who believe that they are exercising their own free will embody "moral values" that deny you the possibility of acting out your own free will. Or precipitate consequences that result in pain and suffering for others.

Then all these highfalutin intellectual contraptions bent on pinning down the meaning of "moral values" philosophically, just go around and around in circles. The internal logic embedded in the assumption that the way you define the words "moral" and "values" reconfigured into the meaning of "moral values" together becomes just one more example of "definitional logic".

At this stage, the reader will no doubt be asking why she or he should accept the assertion that the value of freedom is simply self-evident. She or he may even be thinking that this appeal to self-evidence is a bit of a philosophical cop-out. It is true that disputes about self-evident values have an unfortunate tendency to disintegrate into mere exchanges of claim and counter-claim, with each disputant baldly asserting the obviousness of the values upon which she or he relies. However, this is not the only way to conduct such arguments.


No, at this stage this reader is wondering when "worlds of words" of this sort are actually going to be about something that triggers all manner of conflicting moral and political agendas. And, from my frame of mind, that which is deemed to be "self-evident" in regard to moral values is more a reflection of "I" derived from dasein than from any theoretical assessment of this kind.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Wed Aug 26, 2020 7:54 pm

σάτυρος wrote:
Morality is herd psychology.
It is how individuals attempt to integrate within the group, i.e., collective.


This is something I like to come back to in regard to pedantic intellectuals of his ilk. Call it, say, the Ayn Rand Syndrome

It's the manner in which he fails to recognize the extent to which he has come to tend his own flock of sheep. The sheer irony of it all!

Ayn Rand had hers, and, on a much, much smaller scale, σάτυρο's has his over at KT. Only a considerably more truncated rendition of it now. Remember the days when σάτυρο and lyssa [invented by him or not] had a rather fierce following of many, many more clique/claquers.

Anyway, the irony here revolves around "the leader" pontificating about any and all human interactions such that if you don't think exactly like he does about them you are being irrational. And, for them, this is tantamount to being immoral.

They are their own herd and they completely fail to recognize it!

Go ahead, become a part of the KT community and dare to challenge their own herd mentality/morality.

See how fast you're dumped into the dungeon.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Tue Sep 01, 2020 5:25 pm

Is an Existentialist Ethics Possible?
Does Sartre’s philosophy give us any clues about how we should live? Yes, says Jonathan Crowe – he showed us that we can’t avoid choosing.

Existentialism and Humanism contains a famous anecdote that is sometimes cited in support of an interpretation of existentialism as moral subjectivism. The story concerns a student who approached Sartre for help with a moral quandary. The student was faced with a choice between going to England to join the Free French Forces and staying in France to care for his aging mother. As each option held a different type of moral attraction for him, he asked Sartre for advice as to how he should resolve this practical dilemma.

After considering the student’s situation, Sartre responded with what must have seemed a very unhelpful suggestion: “You are free, so choose.”


First of course the inevitable assumption that human beings are in fact free to choose behaviors they know are going to be judged by others. And here I suggest that we make these judgments based not on what can be known about moral obligations here but on what we think we know about any particular set of circumstances in which the question of moral obligations might be raised.

Thus, to assert that "you are free, so choose", in not taking that into account, is basically giving the student carte blanche. In other words, it would seem to matter less what he does and more that the choice is derived merely from the fact that he is fee to make it.

At first glance, Sartre’s response may seem to support an interpretation of his ethical theory as a form of subjectivism. However, Sartre’s recognition that, in this type of situation, no theory of morality could help the student decide how to act does not necessarily entail that there are no objective values. It may simply be that moral values are such that they do not always point to a single course of action.


In other words, in accepting that no "theory of morality" is around to advise him it then comes down to how extreme one wants to be in regard to what does advise him.

As extreme as my own assessment? This extreme:

If I am always of the opinion that 1] my own values are rooted in dasein and 2] that there are no objective values "I" can reach, then every time I make one particular moral/political leap, I am admitting that I might have gone in the other direction...or that I might just as well have gone in the other direction. Then "I" begins to fracture and fragment to the point there is nothing able to actually keep it all together. At least not with respect to choosing sides morally and politically.

Subjectivism is one thing, a fractured and fragmented subjectivism another thing altogether.

You know, if I do say so myself.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Tue Sep 08, 2020 5:47 pm

Is an Existentialist Ethics Possible?
Does Sartre’s philosophy give us any clues about how we should live? Yes, says Jonathan Crowe – he showed us that we can’t avoid choosing.

According to some philosophers, all moral values can be reduced to a small set of foundational principles – perhaps even a single, overarching principle, such as Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative or a utilitarian principle requiring the greatest possible proportion of benefit to harm. Other philosophers, such as John Finnis and Charles Taylor, recognise that not all moral values are part of the same overarching theory. In fact, we often find ourselves in situations where we are called upon to choose between several attractive courses of action, each of which appears to represent a different type of moral value. In these situations, as Sartre makes clear, there is nothing left to do except choose.


Or, as someone once noted [probably me], "the agony of choice in the face of uncertainty". So, by all means, create one or another deontological scaffolding, worship one or another God, pledge allegiance to one or another ideological calling, render unto nature the final word, and subsume all that agony in the one true path.

As for different types of moral values, that's what different types of rationalizations are for. No need for one size to fit all if you need a little wiggle room in some new situation.

This sort of approach to ethics enables us to explain how it might be that freedom is self-evidently valuable. On this view, choice is an essential component of moral deliberation. It is impossible to engage in genuine ethical reflection without recognising the central position of choice in moral experience. This goes some way to explaining why one cannot consider ethical questions without receiving practical reinforcement of the moral value of freedom.


Which brings us back to the assumption -- and that is apparently all it can be as of now -- that Sartre and the rest of us possess at least some capacity to choose freely. After that, it would seem to come down to the complex interacting of genes and memes intertwined in all of us out in any particular world at any particular time. Then the components of my own frame of mind in the world of conflicting goods derived from dasein and embedded historically in political economy.

Thus the part about "genuine ethical reflection" is no less problematic than the behaviors we choose as a result of what that comes to mean to us at any particular time and place.

So, when someone [like me] insists that we must be "practical" about this, we are immediately bombarded with all of social, political and economic variables that went into, go into and will go into our understanding of the world around us. I merely point out that any number of them may well be beyond both our understanding and our control.

Then what? Well, for me it's a fractured and fragmented personality more or less impaled on "the agony of choice in the face of uncertainty".

Though not for you? Okay, given a set of circumstances in which others might contend with your behaviors, how is it for you?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:03 pm

Is an Existentialist Ethics Possible?
Does Sartre’s philosophy give us any clues about how we should live? Yes, says Jonathan Crowe – he showed us that we can’t avoid choosing.

Conclusion

Our awareness of the value of freedom arises from our practical experience of ethical choice. However, the core subject-matter of moral choice concerns our relationships with other inhabitants of our moral universe. In this sense, moral deliberation is invariably outward-directed; it is a response to a question issued to us from a source external to ourselves. Since the value of freedom is experienced most directly as an element of our interactions with other sentient beings, it is impossible to regard it as something of purely subjective importance.


In other words, imagine that you are a castaway on an island in which you are the only inhabitant. What of ethics then? Unless you believe in God, right and wrong comes to revolve solely around you and nature. If you survive another day then you have done the right things. If you don't then, well, obviously.

It is only if another castaway arrives on the island, that ethics becomes "for all practical purposes" a part of your life. Suddenly your behaviors in your own little universe might be challenged by this newcomer. You do this, he thinks you should do something else instead. Then you become acquainted with the means employed to resolve such "conflicting goods": might makes right, right makes might, moderation, negotiation and compromise.

The modern world of human interactions is just this basic reality writ large. It is merely reconfigured above into what for some will be construed as an obtuse intellectual contraption that certain philosophers like to employ. To sound like philosophers perhaps?

The idea of freedom has played an important role in many influential modern moral theories, including those of Kant and G.W.F. Hegel. Rarely, however, has it been argued that freedom’s importance means everything is permitted. Rather, freedom has been seen in terms of realising one’s moral potential.


The idea of freedom. Theoretically as it were. You say this about it, others say that. Then you both go after the meaning that is imparted to the words given the definitions that you may or may not be able to agree on.

And, sure, sometimes the intellectual contraptions come to revolve around the interpretation of freedom as construed by moral nihilists or sociopaths: Do what you want when you want and where you want to do it. Period. What's in it for me?

But my point is that there does not appear to be either a theoretical or practical argument from ethicists able to rebut this. Given the assumption [mine] that we live in a No God world. No God and all is permitted.

Then back up into the clouds:

Sartre’s conception of human self-realisation centres on the need to recognise the capacity for meaningful choice in both ourselves and others. This picture of our moral potential is liberating, as it emphasises the need for each person to adopt her or his own set of moral priorities. However, our moral choices are not unrestricted. In the end, we must choose, but we cannot choose to deny freedom.


Well, there was once a time in his life when this "conception of human self-realization" revolved around resisting the Nazis in Vichy France. So, given your own moral and political prejudices was he doing the right thing or the wrong thing?

Period?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Sun Sep 20, 2020 7:47 pm

Thought I'd include my examination into the controversy surrounding the film Cuties: https://www.ilovephilosophy.com/viewtop ... 4&t=196000

This part in particular:

Now, for me, the tricky part revolves more around those who will tap me on the shoulder and say, "well, iambiguous, are you saying that this sort of behavior is rooted subjectively in dasein? That it is not objectively immoral?"

And, sure, a part of me rooted existentially in my own particular "I" rooted in my own particular life...the part that on a visceral level condemns the exploitation and abuse of children...reckons that maybe there is a philosophical argument that pins this down objectively once and for all. That maybe this is the "real me" in sync with "the right thing to do".

But another part has to reckon with the fact that I can never really demonstrate that this is true. And then the arguments and the behaviors of the sexual sociopaths who honestly believe that in the absence of God all things -- including this -- are permitted. They only have to be rationalized in terms of what existentially they have come to construe as gratifying their own selfish wants and desires.


It is to avoid a disintegrating "self" here that, in my view, sustains most objectivists. If only on a subconscious level. On the other hand, what psychological factors might be sustaining my own narrative here? If only on a subconscious level.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Mon Sep 21, 2020 5:29 pm

Darwin On Moral Intelligence
Vincent di Norcia applies his mental powers to Darwin’s moral theory.

"There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers… from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have… evolved.” Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species

“Moral concepts are embodied in and partially constitutive of forms of social life.” Alasdair MacIntyre, Short History of Ethics.

Darwin had an evolutionary view of ethics ‘from the side of natural history’ which connects with MacIntyre’s insight into morality’s connections with social life.


This is the part that takes us to the moral philosophy that some embed in naturalism:

In philosophy, naturalism is the idea or belief that only natural laws and forces operate in the universe. Adherents of naturalism assert that natural laws are the rules that govern the structure and behavior of the natural universe, that the changing universe at every stage is a product of these laws.

Now, in regard to the individual in the is/ought world, this can be derived from determinism such that morality is, like everything else, merely the consequence of natural laws unfolding only as they must. Thus producing only the psychological illusion in mere mortals of "resolving" conflicting goods when in fact even this is unfolding only as it every could have.

And then there are those like Satyr over at KT who assume the existence of free will and then, of their own alleged volition, argue that human ethics is far more in sync with biological imperatives than in MacIntyre’s "insight into morality’s connections with social life".

The ghastly "memes" to Satyr.

Thus if you wish to understand rational human behaviors in terms of such things as race or gender or sexual orientation, you'll agree to accept whatever Satyr and his ilk insist is "natural". And it is from grasping nature as it really is that one reconfigures what is deemed rational into what is deemed moral.

And then around and around they go:

1] I am rational
2] I am rational because I have access to the objective truth
3] I have access to the objective truth because I grasp the one true nature of the objective world
4] I grasp the one true nature of the objective world because I am rational

This article will show how Darwin argued in The Descent of Man that the moral sense evolved from a combination of social instincts and well-developed mental powers. If this is so, moral philosophers will need to pay more attention to Darwin’s views, and in response, rethink morality along naturalistic lines. The result, I suggest, can be a rich concept of moral intelligence.


In other words, ever and always the part where biological imperatives meet the minds of the only species on earth able to reconfigure their behaviors in any number of conflicting moral and political directions given an endless evolution of historical and cultural and circumstantial contexts. Yes, the genes play a fundamental role in providing a scaffold that is applicable to all of us. But over and over and over again nature becomes entangled in those nurturing memes that have resulted in any number of diverse "rules of behaviors" in any number of communities.

Ah, but the author has already spilled the beans. Philosophers here are to "rethink morality along naturalistic lines". But, apparently, only in order to enrich the concept of moral intelligence.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Mon Sep 21, 2020 7:22 pm

Satyr wrote:For the nihilist to place the standard for evaluating self, and other, outside himself- to make it independent from his subjectivity, is an intolerable, if not incomprehensible - motive.
He cannot endure being seen, as who and what he is, by another - like a dog can be known and understood by a primate, such as man, more than it can ever know and understand itself. But a canine has no self-coisnciuosnes to suffer from the prospect - it is why it defecates and fornicates shamelessly - a fact the nihilist secretly - often openly - emulates.
To return to a state of shameless is to return to a state of nil self-cosnciuosness - reversion/inversion of know thyself, is to un-know thyself; a return to an animal state....to become a manimal, and proud of it, entirely absorbed by the need/desire to gratify and satiate itself.

Blah blah blah


Just for the sake argument, this being posted by Satyr 15 minutes ago at KT, let's suppose he read my post above and this reflects his reaction to it.

My point of course is that when it comes to human interactions, we evaluate our selves through a profoundly complex and problematic entanglement of genes and memes. And only a fool, in my view, would argue that he and he alone knows how to untangle them definitively such that, given a set of circumstances in which behaviors come into conflict over value judgments, he is able to explain precisely where the genes end and the memes begins.

Of course this almost never becomes a factor for him. Why? Because he almost never brings his own intellectual contraptions down to earth. The messy entanglements embedded in individual daseins confronting conflicting goods in one or another rendition of political economy is simply avoided altogether by sustaining arguments contained wholly in a "world of words". Like the one above.

The closest he'll come to actual existential interactions is when he goes here:

"But a canine has no self-coisnciuosnes to suffer from the prospect - it is why it defecates and fornicates shamelessly - a fact the nihilist secretly - often openly - emulates."

Okay, so what does this tell him about human beings shitting and fucking? The fact that, unlike dogs, we are considerably more self-conscious when we do shit and fuck. The dog's behavior is entirely natural.

And what we "moderns" demand of people when they are shitting and fucking? How much of that is out of sync with nature?

For example, is it nature's way that men dominate women? Is, say, rape merely a manifestation of nature? Are feminists who protest it vehemently bucking the natural world by attempting to foist their own memetic narratives on men. To make them soft and "effeminate"?

Perhaps he is reading this. And "over there" he will address the points I raise.

How are the nihilists different from others when it comes to shitting and fucking? And what constitutes a "natural morality" for him when he shits and fucks?
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Mon Sep 21, 2020 10:34 pm

Again, assuming Satyr is reading my posts here [and the chimp video certainly seems to confirm it] here is what I noted for him above:

The closest he'll come to actual existential interactions is when he goes here:

"But a canine has no self-coisnciuosnes to suffer from the prospect - it is why it defecates and fornicates shamelessly - a fact the nihilist secretly - often openly - emulates."

Okay, so what does this tell him about human beings shitting and fucking? The fact that, unlike dogs, we are considerably more self-conscious when we do shit and fuck. The dog's behavior is entirely natural.

And what we "moderns" demand of people when they are shitting and fucking? How much of that is out of sync with nature?

For example, is it nature's way that men dominate women? Is, say, rape merely a manifestation of nature? Are feminists who protest it vehemently bucking the natural world by attempting to foist their own memetic narratives on men. To make them soft and "effeminate"?


And here is his latest exercise in pedantry:

Satyr wrote:Awareness of self goes through phases. It begins as error - mistaking ones own reflection for another - then confusion - unable to comprehend how this self-reflection is occurring - then anger - at what it perceives - and finally acceptance - recognition.

Only one known primate - homo sapient - can go a step further and take on the perspective of the mirror itself - indifferent.

I went through the various levels of cognition somewhere on this forum, from first-person, all the way to third-person twice removed...as the gradual movement towards higher stages of objectivity.

blah blah blah


Okay, let him connect the dots between this intellectual contraption, nihilism, gender relationships, and rape.

And, in particular, how he himself connects the dots existentially here between nature, rationality and value judgments. The part where genes necessarily trump memes.
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Tue Sep 22, 2020 5:36 pm

Again, in regard to fucking, his point below is as close as he is willing and/or able to go in making a distinction between natural chimp behaviors and a far more complex intertwining of genes and memes embedded in human behaviors. Both over time historically and across the globe culturally. Not to mention all of the vast and varied experiences that any one particular individual might come to accumulate over the years in regard to his or her own sexual mores.

To wit:

https://youtu.be/azGmZrsqJGo

Satyr wrote:Witness the implied moral rule in this behaviour.
Requiring subterfuge. When discovered causing a ruckus of disapproval.
What rule has been broken?
Do chimpanzees have commandments - a god, or do they invent their ethical codes?
No, of course not.


Now, note the sheer enormity of all the conflicting assessments of human sexuality that exist precisely as a result of the fact that the evolution of life on earth has produced a species fully capable of thinking up and then acting on all of the countless memetic permutations that have been passed down through the ages. And not just in regard to heterosexual relationships but homosexual relationships as well.

It is because the human species, unlike chimps, can and do invent conflicting Gods and religious denominations and conflicting philosophical moral contraptions and conflicting political ideologies and conflicting assessments of nature, that the relationship is far more complex within our own species than other here on planet Earth.
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Tue Sep 22, 2020 7:54 pm

Right on cue, I post here and over at KT Satyr "responds". In fact, I suspect that he responds more because he is hoping that I will copy and paste one of his intellectual contraptions here. That way his pedantic "message" actually goes beyond the confines of what is left of KT itself: him and only him.

So, in regard to my points here...

Again, in regard to fucking, his point...is as close as he is willing and/or able to go in making a distinction between natural chimp behaviors and a far more complex intertwining of genes and memes embedded in human behaviors. Both over time historically and across the globe culturally. Not to mention all of the vast and varied experiences that any one particular individual might come to accumulate over the years in regard to his or her own sexual mores.

Now, note the sheer enormity of all the conflicting assessments of human sexuality that exist precisely as a result of the fact that the evolution of life on earth has produced a species fully capable of thinking up and then acting on all of the countless memetic permutations that have been passed down through the ages. And not just in regard to heterosexual relationships but homosexual relationships as well.

It is because the human species, unlike chimps, can and do invent conflicting Gods and religious denominations and conflicting philosophical moral contraptions and conflicting political ideologies and conflicting assessments of nature, that the relationship is far more complex within our own species than others here on planet Earth.


...we get this:

Satyr wrote: Given everything that was stated we can conclude that nihilists refuse to clarify and to illuminate - to bring ideas 'down to earth' and build upward - Bottom<>Up reasoning - they prefer to maintain the ambiguities of ideological abstractions, where everything is vague, obscure, occult - Top<>Down emoting - a realm where anything goes, because there are no foundations.
In fact all words must be detached from their grounding in reality - in the world - from nature....therefore nurture must become independent form nature, as the sum of all past nurturing, and must remain novel, free, so as to provide a salvation myth to replace the ones being lost - decline of Abrahamism.

blah blah blah


Culminating in this...

Satyr wrote: The source of nihilistic dogmas and ideologies = self-consciuosness refusing to be seen as it, secretly, sees itself.
Narcissism, and cynicism are symptoms - hyperbolic self-love, trying to hide self-loathing, or hyperbolic skepticism that refuses any perspective that insults, or reveals, or threatens the psychological well-being of the individual.


On the other hand, maybe there is an actual gene that compels some to ever remain up in the abstract clouds when discussing human interactions involving moral and political value judgments in conflict.

He has it, I don't.

Or, if he is really lucky, both ends of this exchange are wholly compelled by nature.

Note to phoneutria:

Help him out. :wink:
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Tue Sep 22, 2020 8:22 pm

Way back when I thought like this about abortion:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/21/opin ... e=Homepage

'In a floor speech in July, Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, issued an ultimatum on future Supreme Court fights.

'“I will vote only for those Supreme Court nominees who have explicitly acknowledged that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided,” Hawley said. He would require on-the-record evidence that the next Republican nominee “understands Roe to be the travesty that it is.” Absent that, he said, “I will not support the nomination.”

'The day after Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, Hawley reiterated this commitment, and called on his fellow Republican senators to do the same.'


This is conservative/rightist objectivism. The unborn are human babies. So, aborting them must be deemed murdering them.

Liberal/leftist objectivism: the political right of women to choose abortion transcends the alleged "natural right" of the unborn to come to term. To be born.

Many/most on both sides adamant that morality is on their side. Sometimes through God sometimes not.

And, many, on the left, rationalize abortion by insisting that up to a point the unborn is just a "clump of cells". And that, even after that point, the physical and psychological health of the pregnant women must take precedence.

The crucial thing here being that not even medical science can demonstrate beyond all doubt when the unborn [starting at conception] does in fact become a "human being".

Today, of course, having rejected moral objectivism as beyond the reach of scientists and philosophers and ethicists, I find myself "fractured and fragmented" such that both sides make compelling arguments given one set of assumptions rather than another.

And it is this very disintegrated "I" that the objectivists fear most of all. Not to know for sure that their "real self" is in fact in sync with the right thing -- the only thing -- to do when someone is confronted with an unwanted pregnancy.

So, here I am on this thread hoping either to be convinced that my thinking is wrong, or, if right, I am able to find others who share my own frame of mind.
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Wed Sep 23, 2020 6:10 pm

Note to Satyr:

Until you take what I construe to be hopelessly obtuse intellectual contraptions like this...

The gifted mind simplified - seeing an underlying pattern, underlying patterns. What for the simpler mind appears complex, is simplified by a sophisticated mind.

But the nihilist does not want to see, or cannot see, or refuses to even look, because he fears what he may see, or because of what he may fail to see. He wants complexity, to hide his own simplicity.

Like a artist with no talent begins painting abstract nonsensical 'art', because he cannot paint what can be validated by other minds as the product of talent.

To simplify/generalize is to conceive patterns in the patterns, other do not see.

Complexity, as was noted, is a secular form of mystification, obscurantism, occultism - an excuse a justification for absurdity, a concealment of ignorance, an allusion to what fails to materialize.

blah blah blah


...down out the clouds of abstraction and actually address the points I raise here...

Again, in regard to fucking, his point...is as close as he is willing and/or able to go in making a distinction between natural chimp behaviors and a far more complex intertwining of genes and memes embedded in human behaviors. Both over time historically and across the globe culturally. Not to mention all of the vast and varied experiences that any one particular individual might come to accumulate over the years in regard to his or her own sexual mores.

Now, note the sheer enormity of all the conflicting assessments of human sexuality that exist precisely as a result of the fact that the evolution of life on earth has produced a species fully capable of thinking up and then acting on all of the countless memetic permutations that have been passed down through the ages. And not just in regard to heterosexual relationships but homosexual relationships as well.

It is because the human species, unlike chimps, can and do invent conflicting Gods and religious denominations and conflicting philosophical moral contraptions and conflicting political ideologies and conflicting assessments of nature, that the relationship is far more complex within our own species than others here on planet Earth.


...in a context of your choice, there will be no more "contributions" from you here on this thread.
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Wed Sep 23, 2020 7:25 pm

Nope.

Two more posts from him in which his own moral and political values are entirely obscured in clouds of abstractions.

But not to worry: If he ever does make an actual attempt to address the points I raise above given a particular context you can trust me to bring it to your attention. At least on the Nil thread.

Note to others:

For those who read other posts in other threads by him at KT, please note any instances where he does bring his own groots down out of the clouds. As they pertain to conflicting goods.
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Wed Sep 30, 2020 4:45 pm

Darwin On Moral Intelligence
Vincent di Norcia applies his mental powers to Darwin’s moral theory.

The Social Instincts

The social instincts, Darwin wrote, are “the prime principle of man’s moral constitution” (p.106). The moral sense “is aboriginally derived from the social instincts, for both relate at first exclusively to the community.” (p.97). Darwin offered extensive evidence that we are social animals, and that we share our moral sense with our primate evolutionary predecessors.


Okay, but then folks like Marx came along and thought up "political economy". This was a historical account embedded in the evolution of social communities down through the ages. The bottom line being that social interaction in more "primitive" communities -- nomadic, slash and burn, hunters and gatherers, early agricultural societies -- were in some crucial respects very different from social interactions in the modern post-industrial world. Even "village" communities today around the globe put far more emphasis on the community rather than the individual.

But: Once capitalism prevailed and the individual with his or her access to freedom become of greater and greater importance, it was easy enough for many to insist that this reflected not just a historical account but in terms of "political science", the most rational or ideal manner in which the species can interact.

As though a thousand years from now we will still be interacting as we do today because it is not possible to interact more rationally. And, thus, any criticisms leveled at the "free enterprise system" will be subsumed in the assumption that it is the most reasonable of all the political economies to date... or at any rate that it reflects the "best of all possible worlds".

After all, what might have changed or stayed the same with Darwin, if he were still around today?

The social instincts, Darwin held, have evolved through “numerous slight, yet profitable variations.” Associating in groups improves the chances of survival compared with solitary existence.


On the other hand, this does not fully account for the historical configuration of "we" to "me" as encompassed in Marx's exploration of the actual organic relationship between how the means of production is sustained in any given community and how that becomes translated into social and political interactions/institutions. After all, the advent of socialism was supposed to reconfigure "me" back to "we".

Only that has not exactly happened. Indeed, if anything in nations like Russia and China, "me, myself and I" are increasingly more likely to be the frame of mind most preferred. So, does that confirm capitalism as the most rational rendition of the "human condition". Or, maybe, as the "best of all possible worlds"?

Only how exactly would that be pinned down objectively given that we don't have access to the future a hundred or a thousand years from now?

Sometimes, he admitted, one can not determine whence a specific social instinct originated – natural selection; other instincts such as sympathy; reason; imitativeness; or ‘long continued habit’. Moreover, different instincts have different degrees of strength – but the social instincts are stronger and more enduring than many others.


Again, the inherent difficulty in pinning down with any real precision, where genes give way to memes here. And the foolishness of supposing that it has got to be either more one or the other. There are simply too many variables in play here...and in a world that never stops being in thrall to contingency, chance and change.

Darwin said the social instincts are not like instinctual behaviour, viz, a bird’s drive to migrate and build nests. However, he added, the disposition to associate may be innate in the higher animals. In evidence he observed that many animals are unhappy if long separated from their fellows, also noting “man’s dislike of solitude and his wish for society beyond that of his own family.” Indeed an individual who showed no trace of social feeling would be “an unnatural monster.”


And yet my own preference for solitude "here and now" demonstrates to me that, given my own particular life, my own particular sequence of experiences, "I" seem to have become an outlier if, as some insist, social instincts are on par with biological instincts.

And while there may well be powerful genetic predispositions for our species to interact as we do in terms of things like race, gender, sexual preference etc., the history of the species itself clearly confronts us with the role that, historically, culturally and circumstantially, social and political memes can have an equally powerful impact on how any one of us as individuals thinks and feels about the behaviors we choose.
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby Dan~ » Thu Oct 01, 2020 7:46 am

iamb, do you believe that values are real things?
Are thoughts real things?
They are obviously not objects,
but it seems to me that they really do have an existence.

A lot can happen when values meet with the world.
Sometimes they grow, sometimes they die, sometimes they change or mutate.
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Thu Oct 01, 2020 7:39 pm

Dan~ wrote:iamb, do you believe that values are real things?
Are thoughts real things?
They are obviously not objects,
but it seems to me that they really do have an existence.

A lot can happen when values meet with the world.
Sometimes they grow, sometimes they die, sometimes they change or mutate.


From my frame of mind, these are questions that would come from someone who has read almost nothing of what I have posted here over the years. Or if they have read much of what I do post [in the philosophy forum], they are so far removed from understanding the answers I would give to these questions that it is almost certainly futile for me to attempt to answer them again now.

If you are in the former category let me know and I will make the attempt to answer them as best I can.
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Thu Oct 08, 2020 4:41 pm

Darwin On Moral Intelligence
Vincent di Norcia applies his mental powers to Darwin’s moral theory.

The Moral Sense

The moral sense, Darwin claimed, “first developed, in order that those animals which would profit by living in society, should be induced to live together”. It is “fundamentally identical with the social instincts”.


Social instincts. Now there's an oxymoron for some. If human instincts revolve far more around sustaining the least dysfunctional social interactions, then the reality of memes would seem to be of considerable more importance than the emphasis that some place on the "selfish genes". Of course, they will insist, nature revolves around the survival of the fittest individual. Capitalists, for example. Memes are only along for the ride.

Come on, how smart do you have be to be to note that going back to the caves, human social, political and economic interactions are both profoundly and problematically intertwined in both genes and memes. To say where nature stops and nurture begins given any particular context is, from my frame of mind, a clear signal that someone is far more concerned with first embodying and then sustaining the "psychology of objectivism". Rather than displaying a willingness to acknowledge how ineffably and inextricably "I" and "we" and "them" are compounded in a world in which a mixture of both is nothing short of seething at times given all the variables involved.

Furthermore, Darwin interpreted “the imperious word ought” not just as a Kantian sense of duty, but also as reflecting an instinct, be it innate or acquired. This moral sense is essentially utilitarian, reflecting the greatest happiness principle, being directed as it is to the general good of the community. Moreover, over time “man [regarded] more and more not only the welfare but the happiness of his fellow-men” (p.103). This social utilitarianism, Darwin added, was reinforced by psychological factors such as the “strong retentiveness of former states of pain or pleasure,” which helped humans to participate in the pleasures of others, care about their sufferings, and to develop social emotions like love and sympathy.


Okay, so how is this then squared with the way it basically works between all other animal special on the planet: survival of the fittest, make makes right, the law of the jungle. Well, first by noting that within any particular species itself that is often very strong social bonding. Thus while some animal groups include a fierce hierarchy and even cannibalism, others far more oriented toward the other end of the spectrum. But the bottom line is that no other species of animals comes even remotely close to that which we call memetic interactions. Even among the most intelligent creatures -- https://www.ilovephilosophy.com/search. ... 921c6f66e4 -- you don't find scientists and philosophers and psychologists and sociologists. You don't find anthropologists examining the culture of the species or historians examining the species down through the ages.

In stressing the importance of beneficial outcomes, Darwin’s utilitarian social ethic utilizes but goes beyond subjective factors such as motives and intentions. Darwin did momentarily lapse into proto-idealism, in stating that “the highest stage of… moral culture” lies in controlling our thoughts, but he never reconciles this aside with his core utilitarianism, naturalism or his support of altruism. How ever, morality does require significant mental powers.


And, sure, since no philosophers have come close to reconfiguring deontological intellectual contraptions into actual day to day human interactions in a community of any real size, why not accept that "for all practical purposes" a utilitarian approach to conflicting value judgments may well be the "best of all possible worlds". Not counting those who, for whatever reason, philosophical or otherwise, prefer "might makes right".

And, in my view, the most "significant mental power" in regard to morality is to recognize its limitations.
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Thu Oct 08, 2020 6:29 pm

iambiguous wrote:Nope.

Two more posts from him in which his own moral and political values are entirely obscured in clouds of abstractions.

But not to worry: If he ever does make an actual attempt to address the points I raise above given a particular context you can trust me to bring it to your attention.


Nope again. Two weeks later and he is still posting numbingly abstract/abstruse "assessments" like this:

satyr wrote:When the objective is a hedonistic ideal, men attempt to attain pleasure parity through the control and manipulation of resources, via their supply/demand distribution; when the objective is a moralistic ideal, men attempt to attain judgment parity through the control and manipulation of consequences, via their positive/negative distributions.


Still, if anyone here would care to take a stab at it, note how, in regard to a conflicting good most will be familiar with, this plays out regarding the behaviors that you choose.
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Thu Oct 15, 2020 5:03 pm

Darwin On Moral Intelligence
Vincent di Norcia applies his mental powers to Darwin’s moral theory.

Darwin did see the moral sense as inherited and evolutionarily transmitted. But moral conduct is also greatly influenced by social approval. He cited Herbert Spencer’s view that experiences of utility were consolidated over the generations, adding that morality is first learned from habit, following on beneficial expression, instruction, and example. Indeed the repeated performance of moral actions would, Darwin wrote, make them indistinguishable from an instinct. But this Lamarckian-like explanation is not compatible with the core principle of natural selection.


On the other hand, where in the "core principle of natural selection" is the information and knowledge able to provide us with a definitive account of where nature ends and nurture begin. Let alone the part where it can be shown when and where and how and why social, political and economic memes are actually able to trump genes.

Then the the part where childhood indoctrination begins to break down and adult autonomy begins to take over. The part where children become part of a peer group. Those able to provide them with new realities at odds with what they have been for all intents and purposes brainwashed to believe as "just kids."

In other words, the part where "the repeated performance of moral actions would, Darwin wrote, make them indistinguishable from an instinct" would be clearly more applicable to "primitive" human communities than the postmodern world we live in now.

How to intertwine an understanding of biological imperatives, social instinct and, say, "pop cultural, mass consumption and the worship of celebrity" which is such a big part of the world that most of us live in "here and now".

Human cultures and animal species each follow widely different notions of morality, but the ‘most important’ social virtues must be practiced if association is to be possible. Darwin distinguished between higher, social virtues, and lower, ‘self-regarding’ virtues. He held that individuals would gratify their desires unless they “interfere... with the good of others”.

Morality makes society possible, Darwin explained, by minimizing criminal behavior and social conflict:

“No tribe could hold together if murder, robbery, treachery, &c., were common; consequently such crimes within the limits of the same tribe ‘are branded with everlasting infamy’; but excite no such sentiment beyond these limits.”


So, that would seem to eliminate the dog eat dog, law of the jungle, survival of the fittest mentality that many associate with Darwin's theory of evolution. And, to the extent that "morality makes society possible...by minimizing criminal behavior and social conflict" this would seem to be more favorably inclined toward socialism. After all, capitalism basically revolves around dog eat dog competition rooted in the market. And thus, to a large extent, so does morality. Show me the money. The Gordon Gekko mentality writ large.

"Social virtues" vs. "self-regarding virtues"? Which frame of mind most clearly reflects, say, Trumpworld? Also, we don't live in "tribes" anymore.
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Tue Oct 20, 2020 6:52 pm

satyr wrote: There is no act - no choice expressed in action - which is intrinsically good/bad, or morally good/evil.
There are only actions causing consequences which either offer a benefit or a detriment in regards to a specific outcome.
This positive/negative consequence is only in relation to the desired outcome, i.e., goal, objective, ideal, and have no universal meaning beyond this triangulation.


Here we are both on the same page. I basically share this assessment. In a No God world, "anything can be rationalized". And, in fact, historically, what human behaviors haven't already been?

But the objectivists of Satyr's ilk don't stop there. Given what I call the "psychology of objectivism" they need to think themselves into believing that there is in fact a way to judge human behavior. A way that allows them to make that crucial distinction between "one of us" [the masters] and "one of them" [the slaves].

For him it's the nature/nurture divide. Genes trump memes. So it's only a matter of grasping the biological imperatives that nature has provided the human species in the evolution of life on Earth. Some behaviors are natural and some are social.

Thus:

satyr wrote: For example, certain sexual choices either reduce or increase the probability of an offspring - this is then established as a moral code limiting behaviours - programmed into genetics, e.g., incest increases the probability of undesirable mutations and so it is gradually programmed out of sexual options in the form of repulsion.


Therefore, as well, homosexual behavior is necessarily unnatural. That human beings engage in sexual relationships for reasons other than reproduction is moot. It's either that or nothing.

Then he takes "nature" to other indisputable conclusions as well. In regard to gender and race and ethnicity. In regard to moral and political prejudices.

But, again, above all else, nature becomes the font into which he can anchor a sense of identity able to divide up the world between the shepherds and the sheep.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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iambiguous
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Sun Oct 25, 2020 8:07 pm

Kvasir wrote: When morality is equated to social civility, the floodgates are opened for the tolerance of any form of humanity to be accepted in the ideological context of "natural rights".


This from the only other member of Know Thyself who still posts in the Agora. The new Lyssa? He's responding to something that Satyr just posted on the Morality thread.

You tell me what it has to do with the manner in which you yourself have come to understand morality given your day to day interactions with others in a world awash in conflicting goods.

I would like to personally invite him to post here if he has not been permanently banned. To explain what he means above "given a particular context".

And, if he does, he can then attempt to translate Satyr's own intellectual contraptions into descriptions of the world that we actually live in.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
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iambiguous
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