View Full Version : Pragmatist Philosophy Thread
12-12-2000, 09:52 AM
Ok, here is the idea. At times various religious people have insultingly implied, or stated that without God, there can be no good or evil, therefore anyone who doesn't believe in God cannot be ethical, or good. Here, I want to turn that idea around. Although most of you know my religious beliefs fairly well, I am here in this thread to discuss philosophy, not faith.
Describe your philosophy of life, your ethical standards, your "rules of the road" for human decency. But do not rely on your God, your faith, or your religious sources. No biblical quotes, no Koran, or Lao T'su, or Rig-Veda. For the atheists this should be a piece of cake, since you are used to doing so. (No quotes from Rand, though, she qualifies for the sake of this argument as religious text.) For the religious, no reference to the bible, no justification by reason of God's will, no reward in an afterlife, no fulfillment of prophecy.
This is the pragmatist philosophy thread. How do you define right and wrong? What do you feel is worth living your life, or dying for? Is it worth even living without God? Are there limits on your behavior other than survival? Why? Do you feel the right to limit the behavior of others? Why? What limits do you place on others, and accept on yourself? Why? (note: Not a civics discussion. Law is another matter, we are talking about philosophy.)
As thread starter, I recommend that any attempt to hijack the thread into a religious argument be totally ignored, not even mentioned.
I am not going first. I will come back tomorrow, or late tonight, and see if the idea interested anyone. (I figure going first would be an unfair spin on the direction of the thread, which I wish to avoid.) (Or perhaps this is a drive by post by a poster who can never be named!)
12-12-2000, 10:54 AM
No quotes from Rand :P What about Kant? Does he count?
I think you'll need to be a bit more specific in this thread, unless you want people to type up pages and pages explaining their belief system. I'll address one part, however.
Right and Wrong are based largely on how one person should treat another person, which is then in turn based on how people are viewed period. I find all people to be "expendable," that is, no one is born with any right to a minimum level of existence. Everyone is required to live on their own talents. Now, I also feel that interaction between people must always be voluntary on behalf of both (or all) parties. Every person involved must agree to the terms set. This largely removes the desired objectivity of "right" and "wrong" but that objectivity is also not required for interaction. If you want to fight me and I want to fight you, then why shouldn't we fight? If I want to buy you a present and you want to receive it, why shouldn't we? So I guess, the only thing that is wrong is voluntarily subjecting another person or persons to an involuntary action/condition on their part.
The basis for this standard of "goodness" and not something more is that people aren't going to agree on good and bad. I don't want them to. This highest dichotomy allows a million and one subsets of good and bad to fit within it, which is also what I want. This allows for maximum freedom as a default, with no limit on restrictions people want to place on themselves. Can it be practiced? Sure, I do it every day. Can it be practiced by everyone? I don't know. People seem to fear freedom like the plague anymore.
12-12-2000, 11:16 AM
I think you'll need to be a bit more specific in this thread, unless you want people to type up pages and pages explaining their belief system.
I think this can be done quickly and easily.
"Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you."
Ok, that may be a quote from a religious document but I don't think it has to be religious in nature.
Except for some exceptionally whacked out people who might (for example) enjoy physical and/or emotional pain this catchall phrase seems to cover just about all of your day-to-day ethical dilemas. I suppose some gary areas might be found but on the whole this simple concept should get most people through 99% of their life and be deemed a good person at the end.
Oversimplified? Maybe but the simple solutions are often the best.
12-12-2000, 11:19 AM
as far as right and wrong, or good and bad, I don't believe there is a such thing as either. Those are words we've attached to actions/results/situations/feelings/etc... in order to define some sort of value. The "quality" of the situation so to speak. If we were to replace those words with a scale, getting rid of the extremes, there is no just good, or just bad, there is a degree of quality we associate with. Subject to object or vice versa, the quality or value we infer from the relation of one to the other is always subject to a personal concept or feeling, so there is no definition really on what could be good or bad. Instead, I hold to a philosophy that everything one does one should benefit from, and in order to benefit properly one must try in the process to benefit others in order that we all do so together. This comprises of letting go of selfishness, or benefitting strictly for the sake of benefitting, in that it will eventually lead to a dead end as far as "rules of the road" goes.
The ethics I suppose then are that there really is no right or wrong, and we can never know truly whether something we thought right will later have adverse affects or vice versa, so we must try to do what we feel is necessary in order to maintain a balance of harmony in the world around ourselves. This goes way too deep to explain fully, but that's it in a sense.
12-12-2000, 11:23 AM
I meant to say...
"I suppose some gray areas might be found..."
12-12-2000, 11:43 AM
"Do unto others," eh? I can't agree with that one, especially in modern life. The government would be even MORE on my shit list then! haha
Actually, I almost put that for myself, Jeff, because that's largely how I interact socially, with individuals. But I find holy wars fall well within the limits of both yours and mine. Ugh. Those damn things will never go away!
12-12-2000, 12:44 PM
Do unto others? are you sure that's what it really is supposed to be? Perhaps, Do not do unto others as you would not have done unto you... that seems a bit more logical...
oh yeah, Christianity... no logic.. *low blow* ;)
-sorry for the slight hijack/offtopic there Trisk-
12-12-2000, 01:17 PM
Actually, I almost put that for myself, Jeff, because that's largely how I interact socially, with individuals. But I find holy wars fall well within the limits of both yours and mine.
Holy wars? How so?
I mean, if some bible thumper who goes on a crusade to convert the heathens say, "Yeah...I'd love it if someone came and preached the bible to me," then you'd be correct.
However, to be fair, you'd have to ask the bible thumper how he would like it if a muslim came to his (predominantly) christian country, tried really hard to convert him and then killed him if he refused to convert. I think you'd see the bible thumper saying that would not be cool and would not like it one bit.
When put in the second context I think the "Do unto others" bit is still consistent and fairly strong. I know it seems ridiculously simple but if you start going through scenarios in your head you'll find that this philosophy generates a remarkable number of real-world answers.
I'm sure there are situations where it may not work (although I'm hard pressed to think of one) but for now I regard those as the exceptions that prove the rule.
12-12-2000, 01:24 PM
[A quick aside]
I know the OP wanted to avoid religion in this thread and I don't believe aynrandlover necessarily meant literally actual 'holy wars'. My example of the bible thumper and muslim were off-the-cuff.
Please take it as a simple example and not a commentary on religion one way or the other.
[/A quick aside]
12-12-2000, 02:49 PM
As far as "Do unto others" I can think of a number of real-world scenarios wherein escalation of violence occurs.
I am at peace with my neighbor. His damn dog pisses in my yard CONSTANTLY. I kill that dog. Now, I do not own a dog, but assert, "If I owned a dog that did that I'd understand if someone else shot the bastard."
Now, the neighbor gets upset, and clearly interprets "Do unto others" as "Once done unto me return unto thee" or some other kharma-like remark. However, since I have no dog, some property is destroyed instead.
I find this entirely unreasonable (it was that stupid dog in the first place, can't he understand?) so I haul off and return even more property damage, etc etc.
Next thing you know its the IRA all over the place.
"Do unto others" presupposes that everyone agrees on what is right or good in the first place, otherwise subjective morality wins the day.
My "morality" allows such events to occur as well, which is a shame, but I don't think there's a way to avoid it in the first place while allowing people to have seperate beliefs. I would hope the application of my "morality" would largely eliminate such problems, but if history is any judge of human character I doubt it. Time to buy an island ;)
I hear the Keys are lovely this time of year.
And you're right, I meant holy wars in the sense of a fanatical desire to show someone you are right about something. Not necessarily religion.
12-12-2000, 03:22 PM
To the extent that people can be irrational the "Do unto others" (henceforward referred to as DUO) bit certainly gets easily lost. Our real-world experience clearly shows people doing nasty things to one another on a regular basis.
However, to defend the DUO philosophy I offer the following:
In your example of the dog it is different to believe the dog deserved what it got than it is to suppose that I would wish the same thing to happen to me if the roles were reversed.
So, I have a dog pissing in the neighbor's yard. Even if I agreed that the dog deserved to be shot I would want the other homeowner to come and talk with me or find some other less drastic resolution. Hence, flipping the roles, I'd talk to the dog owner rather than shooting their dog.
Remember, in my idealized world, everyone follows the DUO philosophy. So, instead of being an unapologetic dog owner who tells the neighbor to piss off (pun intended) the neighbor would figure, "Gee, I'd sure hate it if I had someone's dog pissing on my lawn" so they would work to see that the problem was recitified to both our satisfaction and without resort to extreme and antagonistic measures.
Still in my idealized world I find my dog shot. While I'm pissed the DUP philosophy tells me that I would not like retribution if I snapped so perhaps I shouldn't respond in kind or escalate the situation. Perhaps another remedy exists and at the very least I should try to look for it.
Again, I know this is idealized and the world is a much different place in reality. I may espouse DUO philosophy but I'll be the first to admit I don't always adhere to it (I don't like to think what I'd do if the neighbor shot my dog). In the end though I don't believe the philosophy is as beholden to subjectiveness as you might think. It has gray areas but it's still a good guide.
12-12-2000, 03:38 PM
For me, I try to think in terms of how my actions affect society as a whole, balanced by the fact that my actions very rarely have any significant effect on society.
So, I try to live as I would want others to live, as an example to those around me.
I am not ashamed to put effort into purely selfish goals. "Everything in moderation, including moderation." - Seems a good idea for a healthy psyche.
I frequently will accept pain and suffering upon myself to protect others from the same, because I have a high tolerence for such things, both physically and emotionally. Not that I enjoy it, just that I think that such things affect me less than others and so the total suffering is less if I can take the brunt of it. If the person who is spared suffering sees fit to reward me, I accept with no qualms if I feel the person can easily afford the reward.
Reduction of total suffering and maximization of total joy. How's that for a philosophy?
I think that part of the religious peoples confusion with this is they don't understand my motivation for wanting to live this way.
One part IS somewhat selfish, and I think it may be something that came by way of evolution. People, at least I, feel good when they help others. Not as strong as the mother instinct to protect her offspring, there is an instinct to help and protect one's species.
Another part that I have never been able to explain fully to a religious person, is a feeling of personal responsibility. I am fully responsible for myself and my actions. Any result of my actions is my fault. Any result of my inaction is my fault. I have some ideas about what I want the world to be like. I feel responsible personally when my acts hurt the world. I'm once again not explaining this very well. If you're really interested, I think I did the best job of it in that atheist epiphany thread a while back. I'll dig it up if someone wants to see it and can't find it.
To keep away from portraying myself as a martyr, let me say that I do not hold human life sacred in any way and think that a human that is going to cause more suffering than joy should be killed if the killing isn't also likely to have a high cost in suffering. Thus, even if someone convinces me that a newly concieved fetus is human, I would still be pro-choice. And still pro-death penalty. etc. So, in the view of many religious people I AM evil. Oh, well. In my view, they cause a lot of suffering.
12-12-2000, 03:54 PM
I can agree with you there. Just wanted to give my reasons for not stating it myself ;) My society requires less idealism, but not a whole lot less, haha.
Maybe we non-religious types are hard-core dreamers?
"Everything in moderation, including moderation." :) Moderation is masturbation, eh? Ah, the wisdom of Stone Temple Pilots. Not to argue with the moderation at all, just that I consider myself a bit of an extremist. I know exactly what you mean about the somewhat martyr-like qualities...I find myself doing more work than is usually required of me in all the jobs I've ever had to 1)help people NOT get fired and 2)make sure the business is still running smoothly. However, if the business could run smoothly and they get fired? See ya!
Human life, in and of itself, has no claim on anything. Maybe this can be considered immoral. However, this is exactly where my morality begins, because you don't have a claim on me and I don't have a claim on you.
Now, if I can just get Spiritus or Collunsbury in here, I'd love to hear their opinions...
12-12-2000, 05:17 PM
You have a problem with masturbation?
Anyway, occasional extremes fiut perfectly into the moderation stricture. People forget that last phrase ("...including moderation") all the time.
The moderation bit was more about maintaining personal mental health. I was trying to encourage everyone to act to keep themselves healthy and happy in the long term.
I'd rather see comments on the "Reduce suffering and increase joy" idea.
I'm surprised that no one has said that without God we cannot be evil, but I guess we're all honoring the request of the OP to just state our own beliefs. Good. I like that.
Let me just point out that capitalism works fairly well with this idea. If one person has a surplus of time and talent and another has a surplus of money, then they can come to a mutually beneficial arrangement to trade one for the other. Thus improving things for both. If someone has little or nothing to offer, they either survive outside the system or they die. Since these people have negative value to my system, I feel no remorse. I do respect the value of family and love and such. And so would expect those who have feelings for someone to make efforts to support them.
12-12-2000, 05:47 PM
Of course I have a problem with masturbation. There are times when I'm obligated to do other things. As well, I mean that I was more than the "occaisional" extremist. Really. I almost always take an absolutist stand on everything. Its just a matter if I can be nice about it, which is tough to do :)
Actually, I didn't want to touch the "reduce suffering and increase joy" with a ten-foot pole. Its rare enough that I get to agree with people on something; I'd hate to ruin it!
But, since you asked ;)
That would be more of a goal than a philosophy, unless we're talking an ideal case where everyone finds similar things joyous and similar things distasteful. Clearly not the case. I dare say Marx had a good plan for reducing suffering and increasing joy, as well as Ayn Rand but suffice to say, I find a lot of people don't find those to be particularly inducive to reduction of suffering or promotion of joy.
But I find no problem with the idea anyway, provided the people you aid in this manner already agree with you. By my own rules stated above, some sort of permission would need to be given for such an interference. I mean, I see a chick tied up and howling, turns out she likes bondage, you know? ;)
The main problem with any extended form of morality is that you are absolutely going to find people who disagree with you. This is why I dind't pick "do unto others" though I use that daily, and why I also didn't take the "promote joy" hippie stance, though I take that every day too. Even still, in my weak morality there is still the ability of a person to feel that even that small restriction on absolute freedom is terrible. This is why I choose Randian-like ideals over other ones: no one is stopping a group from forming under free-market capitalism, for example, which feels that social welfare programs are great. Churches and other organizations can continue to flourish and serve the needs of people who find it necessary. Similarly, they can downright refuse to trade with me, who would find such practice somewhat reprehensible. Fine. No one has violated anyone else in such a case. In a completely regulated market, like communism, there is no "room" for the free man, however. You know?
But, like I said, I think we're all dreamers anyway. Man, keep talking like this and I'll end up listening to Lennon or something...[gasp]
12-13-2000, 12:25 AM
Well, an auspicious first day. Thanks to the contributors to date for more or less sticking to the parameters I suggested. I appreciate it. Now let's see if I can ride my own pony!
I find my own most valued times and experiences are those I have shared with others. Although I am not highly social in the sense of frequent engagements in public with groups, I do much love the bonds of common friendships and acquaintance. Among those, the long and reliable bonds of close friendship, those of love I treasure above all other things. I am not quick to form such bonds, but neither am I unwilling to gain new ones. It is a matter of effort, and risk, and I know it to be a matter of years.
So, I seek to be the sort of man who would be a good friend to have so that I might have a friend. To my friends I give respect for their selves, but honest words and forthright vision of who they are, and what they do. These things I wish to have as well. Greatest in my desire, and greatest in my wish to give is true and willing love for my friends. It seems to me that Love itself is the thing I am most likely to be able to give, that will have merit. It is, as well, that thing I most wish to have. It is also that which I think the world most needs. So simple a thing, and easily given by any one of us.
To those who do not wish my friendship, I hold myself to grant to them respect, and honesty, for that too I wish to have from them, even without their love. I have no desire to require, or even to convince others of my own beliefs. I think those things are within the heart, and cannot be imposed, only shared. It would be pointless to speak of love to anyone, unless they were listening.
I am in truth less concerned with the wide world than others seem to be. I care little for the commerce of nations and not much more for commerce in which I must myself engage. I own very little, and desire to own even less. Most of what I have is what was given to me by others, who did not want it anymore. Although I have learned that nations, states, and petty sovereigns in all sorts of guises are beyond my control, I have learned as well that their control over me is less than they might imagine. These forces act most often by controlling wealth, and property. Since I have neither, and am content without them, I have little concern for the vicissitudes of politics.
For these reasons my politics are simple. I comply with what I must, for I do not wish to live amidst rebellion and anarchy, neither as proponent, nor victim. I support that small part of government that gives care to the least able, and most needy. I oppose that part of government that heeds wealth, protects the wealthy, and seeks to make men servants of the state. I have no specific dislike for the wealthy, but they do not need protection by the state, they have power enough without it. The state should serve the people, not the desires of the powerful. Long ago, I was far more active in my opposition. In the end, I grew weary, seeing little in the way of changes, and most of that in symbols, and rhetoric. The real facts of social change are a grim business. I am a poor warrior, as the state and eventually I too, found out at last.
I served in the army, because I felt it a duty I owed my country. While I served, I learned the extremes that the military mind can reach, in justifying acts of war. I objected, and refused orders. Lunacy is not made into reason by patriotism. I did not deny that I should serve, only that I could not serve without my conscience intact, and that I accepted the right of the nation only within limits. In the end, my nation held my service to be acceptable within those limits. I certainly give to any other citizen that same respect. Duty is not the sole measure, in the relationship between man, and the state.
In the final analysis, I exist much more in the spaces between individuals than in the society as a whole. I am more of a neighbor, than I am an American. I have great pride, and some measure of faith in the Constitution, but I know it is far more fragile than some think it to be. I fear the direction of the society, but I enjoy the comfort of the people I meet in it. I still walk around my hometown, far more often setting at ease those who fear me, than being afraid of those I meet. I have much more than my pile of goods. I have peace, and am willing to share it.
12-13-2000, 12:38 AM
Originally posted by aynrandlover
I think you'll need to be a bit more specific in this thread, unless you want people to type up pages and pages explaining their belief systemHey, works for me!
No, really! I think pages and pages of personal beliefs would be great. Not pages and pages of dry quotes or references, but real human choices, and real life policies.
The philosophy of the mundane, grocery store checkout aisle morality. Pump your own ethics. Thirty-one flavors of legal precedent available. Millions served daily.
The real venue of good and evil is in our daily lives, and our commonest behavior. Is courtesy a dishonest ritual masking inherent human violence, or the highest expression of civilization in action, or both? Why not scream your head off whenever you don't get your way?
Go for it.
12-13-2000, 01:46 AM
Originally posted by Jeff_42
"Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you."
I don't mind the "religious" source. Especially since it comes from a number of religions. But that isn't the point. Discussing it from an secular point of view was the only limit I suggested. My own philosophy is certainly drawn from religious sources, but I discuss it from the secular point of view. I have no problem wit yours either.
I find the "golden rule" to be as usefull as most simple statements of ethics. A guide. But it is not exhaustive, because there is much which I do not want, yet I do not expect, or want other to feel the same.
I care nothing for cars. I would prefer that everyone decided tomorrow that learning to live in the place you are would be a better solution to seeking the ability to go anywhere you can think of. But I don't expect them to do that. I hate traffic, and refuse to be a part of it. Although I would love to see my attitude become more common, I know it will not happen. I do not feel that I am superior to others, nor do I wish them to treat me as I treat them.
I encourage pedestrianism. But I don't have much faith in the possibility of it becoming popular.
12-13-2000, 01:56 AM
No, no. I *like* gary areas.
12-13-2000, 02:05 AM
Originally posted by aynrandlover
I hear the Keys are lovely this time of year.
No, actually they suck excrement. Human excrement, through the tap. They've been pumping their waste products into their water supply for decades. The whole place will become uninhabitable in our lifetime.
Flamingo dude, former resident of Key Largo.
12-13-2000, 02:48 AM
I was on the Mayor's Y2K taskforce, this time last year. Another member, a valuable and engaged member of our community, (an author and poet and philosopher) said to me, before anyone else showed up: Everyone knows you're a hoaxster and a jokester and a hooligan. Why do you keep working for the homeless, the disenfranchised, the mentally ill?
I'm not completely non-introspective, but nobody had ever put it to me in those terms before. I had to do a quick review, then I blamed it on my Dad.
By nature, I dislike nearly ever hominoid thats ever dragged their rotting carcass across the face of this defiled planet. By nurture, I'll jump your car at 30 below, find you housing, bum you a cigarette, write a grant to get your teeth fixed. Even if you've just lost a kidney and no one expects you to see 2002.
So I'm rather conflicted, here. My avowed rules are "whatever" but in actual life, more often that not, tend to end up doing what Da taught me to do: do good.
(whatever the hell that is)
12-13-2000, 05:16 AM
Goodness Dr Pinky - I've just had my whole life explained to me. I feel liberated.
I'm a die-hard liberal who hates everyone and detests humanity.
Phew. Now that's clear. I'm off to campaign for higher taxes whilst loathing those on whom the taxes are spent.
Yes yes yes. I see it now.
12-13-2000, 10:07 AM
Just a little clarification on "Reduce suffering, increase joy" (RSIJ). I don't mean the same thing as DUO. Like I said, I take pain onto myself because I can take it with a minimum of suffering. This protects someone who WOULD suffer considerably. I wouldn't want them to take pain onto themselves for ME. That would be counterproductive. They should contribute however they are best suited. This is not to say I'm a masochist, though a masochist would do well to step in front of thrown punches or whatever.
12-13-2000, 11:18 AM
Originally posted by VileOrb
This is not to say I'm a masochist, though a masochist would do well to step in front of thrown punches or whatever.You play to your strength, huh?
Actually, I agree. I often point out to others that in some cases the unfortunate circumstances that loom in the future can be deflected. In some of those cases, you can tell that although it will be unpleasant to let the crap land on you, the available alternatives involve crap landing on people who are simply not gonna be able to handle it. So, you take a hit for the team. You do it because you know it's right. It still sucks when the crap lands, but you do it anyway.
Throwing masochists in front of punches, though, is not same at all. ;)
12-13-2000, 11:40 AM
Tris--I don't know that I like the implication in that last post...because a masochist might like it he can't be doing "good?" I hope that isn't what you meant!
Anyway, to carry on for my personals, I left off where I defined two things: man's inherent worthlessness and, notwithstanding, his "right" to act voluntarily in all things with all other men.
Now, there's already a paradox there, but I'd rather not get into it. I'm mad enough that I can't get rid of it as it is. Anyway...
"Good", then, is any voluntary action that the receiving party, likewise, agreed to. Kind of soggy, I know. Bad, obviously, is any action performed on another person that they didn't agree to. Of course, what if PersonA does something for PersonB that A thinks B will like?--like, oh, a suprise party?
Tricky tricky! I would dare say that at some point in A and B's friendship one would have mentioned to the other, "I just positively gush over suprise parties!" and A would get the hint forever more.
Nothing, as well, requires a person to please themself. That is almost a corallary of voluntary action: a person always agrees with themself.
I think the most important thing to mention here is it is the reception of the act that causes problems, NOT the intentions. To wit: the road to hell is paved with good intentions, or some such saying. In the end, it doesn't matter if you meant well at all because 1) its another person and 2) they probably don't think like you. Intention should never be a source of guilt ("But I did it because I loved you!") or a drain to sink blame into. How the action is perceived is paramount, always. This leaves the door open for "he said she said" arguments still, but again, it seems obvious to me that the reception of the act is far more important than the intention behind it.
12-13-2000, 12:08 PM
...it seems obvious to me that the reception of the act is far more important than the intention behind it.
I'm not sure how to wiggle this into a designed philosophy but I wish you were wrong aynrandlover. That people operate on how they perceive an action is the norm but a good philosophy of life should absolutely take into account other's intentions.
1) I walk up to you on the street and smack you in the face.
Likely Result: Aynrandlover wails on Jeff_42.
2) I'm pointing out to someone where the nearest McDonalds is and as I outstretch my arm I smack you in the face.
Likely Result: Aynrandlover gives Jeff_42 a dirty look and tells him to be more careful (or maybe wails on me anyway but with less enthusiasm).
I believe it is of huge importance in working my day-to-day life to guess other's intentions. I may be wrong but I have to try. Unfortunately many people only look to the affects on them and react instead of trying to get a bigger picture of the situation and then make a more appropriate and measured response. If you can't guess or don't believe you have enough info to make a good guess then you should try to gather more info before responding.
12-13-2000, 12:57 PM
Great point Jeff.
I agree, it seems only logical that one should attempt to interpret, if not outright ask, why another did a thing. But in the end, I must maintain that the effect is more important than the intention.
I mean this in a very critical way, as well. Consider punishing a child for doing something "wrong." Not illegal, there are no laws yet (apart from the one I mentioned) but merely what you feel is wrong. Now, you clearly mean well, but it doen't really matter what you mean, not to the receiver. Especially in a case like this. Only when you try to explin your intentions, or the reciever asks, is there going to be a reconciliation between act and intention. I am presenting it as a fact, basically, of co-existence.
For the record, existence exists, I exist, and other people exist, by the way. No solipsims for me.
Anyway, the cry "But that's not what I meant!" is so common for semantic reasons alone that it seems obvious to me to somehow grasp this dichotomy of action/intention by the horns and get to it. I don't like the result at all, but I can't allow myself to escape it.
Not only that, interpretation of other's actions leads to a huge struggle of morality in itself, no matter how well you know another person. Second guessing actions is so common that it largely goes unnoticed. And it is important to try to understand intentions, agreed. It is paramount to know what's going on around you. But if it comes down to accepting what happened or guessing why, I say always choose the latter.
To be able to correctly interprt actions the actor must think like you do, at least in as far as the action itself is concerned. To be able to accurately interpret actions, the views must be similar, and you must be aware of the differences. Most of the time, however, questioning actions always has as a result questioning the actor. Unless the action was very simple this leads to a whole regression of how this person views such-and-such. At least, to me it does. I always think about things to the umpteenth degree of pickiness. Tend to overthink all problems, but I also don't have many problems, so what can I say other than it works for me.
I also contest the idea that a philosophy should try to take into account other's intentions unless there is an absolute set of morals. Otherwise, its all detective work. I try to allow for the maximum number of personal morals to exist independant of mine, but I seriously doubt that there is even one thing that everyone agrees on. Besides that, even my detective work is usually seen as hostile, at least by some people. I put words in people's mouth because they aren't saying anything or are too vague, and then I get accused of strawman arguments. And that's fine, because that is how they see it. I can try and change that here, if anyone reads it, but in the end I accept that how I am to anyone BUT myself is exactly how I am perceived. Truly depressing to someone who loves to think :)
So, to summaraize for Tris:
1) no absolute set of morality exists
2) no individual person has any inherent claim on any other person
3) "Good" is defined as voluntary co-existence. "Bad" is defined by unwelcomed actions.
4) A person always agrees with him/herself.
5) Appearance outweighs thoughts-about-appearance; or, the definition of "truth" is observation. (it is, of course, an observation in itself to try and find out what the motive behind an action was through external questioning; internal questioning is never as valid)
I think that's all I've said so far. I cannot demonstrate conclusively that I exist, that the universe exists, that anyone but me exists, etc etc. I am asuming a sort of standard view of reality above. Clearly, since I can't even show that I exist for sure, I can say nothing about god. :D
12-13-2000, 01:02 PM
Originally posted by aynrandlover
But if it comes down to accepting what happened or guessing why, I say always choose the latter.
Damn it! What I mean to say, I hope it was clear, was that one should choose the former. Man o man, forget semantics, I can't even say what I mean enough for someone to try and figure it out! hahah
12-13-2000, 02:06 PM
Originally posted by aynrandlover
Tris--I don't know that I like the implication in that last post...because a masochist might like it he can't be doing "good?" I hope that isn't what you meant!
I wasn't questioning the masochist at all, I said throwing them in front of punches is not really the same as taking a punch yourself. You and the Masochist might accomplish a result that has some merit, by you have done nothing I find worthy if you make the choice for him. He can enjoy his pain if he wishes, and it makes his act no less worthy, if it is his act. If you make the choice, he is just another victim, albeit a happy one.
It is a fanciful example, but it overlies a serious point. The misinterpretation of the "Golden rule" to imply anything I think is beneficial or desirable is therefore a good thing for me to do to you ignores your will. I might want someone to become sexually intimate with me. That doesn't make it right for me to assume the feeling is mutual. The fact that I want them to "do unto me" real bad doesn’t change that. I want to make my own choices. That is the first test of every deed I do unto others. It might not be the only test in every case, but it weighs very heavily in every case.
12-13-2000, 03:38 PM
I had only suggested that the masochist could choose to throw their body in front of a punch meant for someone else, thus saving someone some suffering and perhaps enjoying themselves at the same time. Like I enjoy volunteering for youth camps. I help society and enjoy myself at the same time. I do not suggest we use the masochists as human shields at the next protest. That would not be the same. Really I think masochists need to see a psyciatrist, and perhaps develop some healthier urges.
12-13-2000, 03:50 PM
Originally posted by Triskadecamus
He can enjoy his pain if he wishes, and it makes his act no less worthy, if it is his act. If you make the choice, he is just another victim, albeit a happy one.
:D Wow, there is entirely too much agreement in this thread.
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