Polytheism and monotheism

Does God exist? Is Allah God? Creation vs. evolution.
Is Religion needed? Logic vs. faith. Morality and ethics.
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Equestrian
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by Equestrian »

crazymonkie_ wrote:Hmm. Good and evil are funny things.

That these things exist, in the sense that they are categories, is undeniable. Yet the idea that they are somehow divorced from events or actions or thoughts seems, to me, kind of odd. Yet that is one of the aspects of many religious beliefs- that there is some evil or good 'out there,' usually in the form of supernatural powers (call them what you will). Good or evil lose their meaning outside of their context.
Where do you get the idea that good and evil is divorced from events and actions?
"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" ~Carl Sagan

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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by crazymonkie_ »

I said *others believe* they are.

As in- there are lots of people out there who believe good and evil are from beings. I'm thinking especially about Christians, who say all good things come from god. And that there is some sort of general 'good' separate from thoughts and actions, some abstract utter 'good.'

Note, I said "Yet the idea that they are somehow divorced from events or actions or thoughts seems, to me, kind of odd." Emphasis mine.

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Equestrian
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by Equestrian »

crazymonkie_ wrote:I said *others believe* they are.

As in- there are lots of people out there who believe good and evil are from beings. I'm thinking especially about Christians, who say all good things come from god. And that there is some sort of general 'good' separate from thoughts and actions, some abstract utter 'good.'

Note, I said "Yet the idea that they are somehow divorced from events or actions or thoughts seems, to me, kind of odd." Emphasis mine.
Understood, but where do you get the notion that Christians detach good and evil from thoughts and actions? I don't see a problem with Christians holding to the belief that goodness is a thing and that all good things originate from God. God as the ground of being is perfectly good, along with everything he created into being. This goodness is a property that comes in varying degrees. Evil does not exist in the sense that it is a thing. I don't see an inconsistency.

Frankly I do see an inconsistency in your assertion that good and evil are things that exist, while at same time holding to the position that there exists no objective point of reference to contrast good from evil.
"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" ~Carl Sagan

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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by Quills »

Quills wrote:
CuteCoot wrote: Because he's such a bad bloke, you can't let him be a god, just a fallen angel, and that way you also get to keep your monotheism pure.
But yet the scriptures clearly identify Satan as the god of this world, or system of things.
Are you suggesting here that Paul was positing Satan as a second deity? Surely he was referring to how people saw "this world". Surely he himself saw "this world" as insubstantial or unreal and therefore its "god", Satan, as similarly so. Not a "real" god at all.
I was just pointing out that the scriptures reveal Satan to be much more than just a fallen angel.
"Woe to those who are saying that good is bad and bad is good, those who are putting darkness for light and light for darkness, those who are putting bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter." Isaiah 5:20

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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by crazymonkie_ »

Equestrian wrote:Understood, but where do you get the notion that Christians detach good and evil from thoughts and actions?
That there is The Good- in God, and that there is The Evil- in Satan and the demons. That there is absolute good and evil, separate from thoughts and actions, in Christianity, is undeniable.

Which isn't to say that Christians ALWAYS do this, or that it's even mostly, the case. Just that it's done.
I don't see a problem with Christians holding to the belief that goodness is a thing and that all good things originate from God. God as the ground of being is perfectly good, along with everything he created into being. This goodness is a property that comes in varying degrees. Evil does not exist in the sense that it is a thing. I don't see an inconsistency.
I should probably be more clear here: God and evil are degrees. There are not real absolute good or evil acts or thoughts- though at certain points, due to our cultural upbringing, it may seem that way. Like the history of 'sodomy:' from being the world's worst thing that just can't be named, to being obliquely named during the Oscar Wilde trial, then becoming pathologized homosexuality, which was then de-pathologized.... At every point during its history, sodomy and its place in the hierarchy of good and evil was seen as static. Yet, it's changed over time, dramatically.

Goodness and evilness are properties, yes. But they don't emanate from anywhere besides humans. It is in how we react to external stimuli- to events, to objects, to other people- and how it all relates and makes us feel, that give us the idea that something is good or evil. Divorced of relationships, good and evil are meaningless; in a void.

I really disagree with your belief that evil is the absence of good, however. Evil is the word for the negative results or reactions to external stimuli. It isn't the absence of anything. Neutrality is the absence of good (and evil.)
Frankly I do see an inconsistency in your assertion that good and evil are things that exist, while at same time holding to the position that there exists no objective point of reference to contrast good from evil.
I don't see how this is inconsistent. Good and evil are ABSTRACT CONCEPTS that exist. They are tied to events and thoughts, and are ways of talking about these events and thoughts. There are few, if any, completely static (and definitely not any objective) points where events or thoughts are definitively, for all time, good or evil. Parent/child incest is definitely one of those static points; certain types of cannibalism (not ritualistic, not eating the dead, but a far less common eating of live flesh while the person is alive) may be another. Beyond that- 'question mark.'

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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by Equestrian »

crazymonkie_ wrote:That there is The Good- in God, and that there is The Evil- in Satan and the demons. That there is absolute good and evil, separate from thoughts and actions, in Christianity, is undeniable.
Right, morality is objective. Moral laws are independent from humans, just as the laws of logic or natural laws are independent from humans. But again, I don't see how you conclude from this that morality is separate from thoughts and actions. Morality, like logic, is a human function, meaning that we as humans bring our moral intuition, as we do our logical intuition, to the situation.

Now I understand that you do not hold to this position, but there is no inconsistency.
crazymonkie_ wrote:I should probably be more clear here: God and evil are degrees. There are not real absolute good or evil acts or thoughts- though at certain points, due to our cultural upbringing, it may seem that way. Like the history of 'sodomy:' from being the world's worst thing that just can't be named, to being obliquely named during the Oscar Wilde trial, then becoming pathologized homosexuality, which was then de-pathologized.... At every point during its history, sodomy and its place in the hierarchy of good and evil was seen as static. Yet, it's changed over time, dramatically.

Goodness and evilness are properties, yes. But they don't emanate from anywhere besides humans. It is in how we react to external stimuli- to events, to objects, to other people- and how it all relates and makes us feel, that give us the idea that something is good or evil. Divorced of relationships, good and evil are meaningless; in a void.

I really disagree with your belief that evil is the absence of good, however. Evil is the word for the negative results or reactions to external stimuli. It isn't the absence of anything. Neutrality is the absence of good (and evil.)
And what is the absence of neutrality? better yet, what is neutrality? There is no such thing as neutrality. The only way one could be neutral is by never interacting with the essential reality, which is not possible.

crazymonkie_ wrote:I don't see how this is inconsistent. Good and evil are ABSTRACT CONCEPTS that exist. They are tied to events and thoughts, and are ways of talking about these events and thoughts. There are few, if any, completely static (and definitely not any objective) points where events or thoughts are definitively, for all time, good or evil. Parent/child incest is definitely one of those static points; certain types of cannibalism (not ritualistic, not eating the dead, but a far less common eating of live flesh while the person is alive) may be another. Beyond that- 'question mark.'
If Good and Evil are abstract concepts then they don't exist in the sense that they are things, because what I perceive as Good may be Evil to you and both are equally legitimate, which makes them equally illegitimate. Good and Evil does not exist if they are subjective to the individual.
The jihadist that calls for the death or enslavement of the infidel is morally equal to one who calls for peace and freedom, as good and evil are abstract concepts.
You claim that there are a few cases where good and evil are absolute, how is that possible if these terms are dynamic abstractions? If the cardinal value is that all values change, then the cardinal value must change as well.
"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" ~Carl Sagan

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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by CuteCoot »

Quills wrote:I was just pointing out that the scriptures reveal Satan to be much more than just a fallen angel.
So you're not suggesting that Satan is "a god" or divinity. Nor is Satan a mere fallen angel. What lies between the two?

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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by crazymonkie_ »

Equestrian wrote:Right, morality is objective.
No, no, no, no, no, no.

Morality is SUBJECTIVE.

Moral codes have changed so much, even in cultures that supposedly come from the same source, that saying this just flies in the face of facts.
Moral laws are independent from humans, just as the laws of logic or natural laws are independent from humans.
Uh, no.

Moral laws come from humans; morality is humanity making sense of itself as a totality- social creatures making consensus and figuring out how not to make their social groups implode.

Laws of logic are another set of abstractions also not independent of humans. They were invented by humans, and while the explanation which is 'laws of logic' reflect reality, they are not, in and of themselves, independent of human beings.

Natural laws, however, are independent of humans- mainly because those laws act upon things outside of humanity, even outside of living things. How we express those natural laws, though, is human-centered.
But again, I don't see how you conclude from this that morality is separate from thoughts and actions.
I said Christians believe that *good and evil* are separate from thoughts and actions.

I never said that morality is separate from thoughts and actions. I said Christians tend to divorce good and evil from thoughts and actions. Not morality from thoughts and actions. And I DEFINITELY never said that morality is separate from thoughts and actions.
Morality, like logic, is a human function, meaning that we as humans bring our moral intuition, as we do our logical intuition, to the situation.
Very true.

Which means that, like 'pure reason,' morality- if it is not based upon some sort of objective assessment- is severely limited, and sometimes downright wrong. Intuition *can* be important, but more often it is utterly incorrect. Take for instance the ancient Greek atomists. Their theory was that matter was composed of indestructible components known as 'atoms.' This wasn't based on knowledge, it wasn't based on investigation- it was based on hypotheses which were more in opposition to other thinkers of the time who believed that the Universe was a totality (kind of like Pantheism). That the atomists were right was a complete fluke.

There are many other examples in history of how 'pure reason' fails; it's the reason why hardly anyone (except, oddly enough, theologists) use it any more.

Really, though, the most difficult part with taking that sort of approach with morality is that there are almost no 'hard' moral codes. I mentioned this in my last post; incest is sometimes a hard limit, sometimes cannibalism is, but that's about it. Murder depends on the circumstances, stealing has undergone a bewildering amount of changes, etc.

Ultimately, what tends to be the case is this: Moral codes get much harsher when you talk about what one does to one's extended family or cultural unit. Killing your 'neighbor' or stealing from another person in your village is often heavily frowned upon. Such disapproval is rarely extended to outsiders. And this is a reflection of our basic nature as primates whose basic social unit is the extended family (or sometimes, a collection of extended families.)

Saying that we have an objective moral code, again, flies in the face of the facts.
And what is the absence of neutrality?
It depends on the circumstances. It can be good or bad, or shades thereof, depending on what is happening and how people interpret the events or their feelings about the events.
better yet, what is neutrality? There is no such thing as neutrality. The only way one could be neutral is by never interacting with the essential reality, which is not possible.
Point well taken. I was just trying to say that evil is not the absence of good; that the the only absence of good is neutrality.

You are correct that neutrality- pure neutrality- isn't possible.
If Good and Evil are abstract concepts then they don't exist in the sense that they are things, because what I perceive as Good may be Evil to you and both are equally legitimate, which makes them equally illegitimate. Good and Evil does not exist if they are subjective to the individual.
Now you're catching on.

This is all true. Ultimately, all morality is subjective; there is no one code to which we humans can turn and say 'That is right.'

HOWEVER, this does not mean that we are not allowed to make moral codes and follow them. Nor are we particularly bound to extreme liberalism and say 'You've got yours and I've got mine.' Rights are inventions- great inventions, but inventions nonetheless. They, like all morality, are a case of consensus. Sometimes the consensus is based on more objective evidence, and sometimes the consensus is based on less objective evidence.

And sometimes the consensus *seems* to be based on more objective evidence, but is really based on terrible data collection methods. Like with the 'objectively true' inferiority of black people in the 19th century, well into the 20th. Most of the major scientists of the world were absolutely sure that blacks were less intelligent than whites, that this was something they were born with, and that the whites were therefore justified in lording it over them.

Really, it's an incredibly complicated issue that I can barely argue myself. Hardly anyone can, really: Many people claim to be able to explain why certain things are 'right' and others are 'wrong,' yet when it comes down to it, we're all pretty well in the dark.

However, one fairly easy-to-understand (yet often very hard to implement) is a credo: "The greatest good for the greatest number." This doesn't mean '...and screw the rest.' With this credo, one aims for the highest percentage of satisfaction: 100%, if at all possible. Expediencies should be avoided, if at all possible; minorities should be respected, if not elevated. And so on.

The jihadist that calls for the death or enslavement of the infidel is morally equal to one who calls for peace and freedom, as good and evil are abstract concepts.
This is, sadly, true.
You claim that there are a few cases where good and evil are absolute, how is that possible if these terms are dynamic abstractions? If the cardinal value is that all values change, then the cardinal value must change as well.
There may be none, really. Psycho_bunny pointed out on the thread about the child molesters that bonnobos hump their young, from time to time. That child molestation is seen as one of the big cardinal 'no-nos,' and yet is still a part of our closest relatives (and a part of us- granted a very small part) says that it's possible that *that* might not be a hard limit.

See the text above, however, for one method of thinking about morality.

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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by CuteCoot »

crazymonkie_ wrote:
The jihadist that calls for the death or enslavement of the infidel is morally equal to one who calls for peace and freedom, as good and evil are abstract concepts.
This is, sadly, true.
This is, sadly, nonsense. Sure, good and evil are abstract concepts but that doesn't suddenly make them inapplicable. The whole purpose of these particular abstract concepts is to apply them in judging human behaviour, in this case describing one call as "evil" and the other as "good". And yes, they are subjective human constructs but that's no reason to trash them.

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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by Equestrian »

crazymonkie_ wrote:
Equestrian wrote:Right, morality is objective.
No, no, no, no, no, no.

Morality is SUBJECTIVE.

...I said Christians believe that *good and evil* are separate from thoughts and actions.

I never said that morality is separate from thoughts and actions. I said Christians tend to divorce good and evil from thoughts and actions. Not morality from thoughts and actions. And I DEFINITELY never said that morality is separate from thoughts and actions.
Again, I understand that you don't hold to objective morality. I think I made that quite clear. The purpose of my argument was to refute your understanding of objective morality. I was not making the case (at least, in my last post) that it is true. I've adequately demonstrated that you are in error in your understanding of objective morality, however it appears that you are having trouble following the argument.

I'll make this simple. Moral law is independent of humans. Right and wrong, good and evil applies to all humans. We as humans apply moral law to the given situation.

There is no inconsistency with this view.


Now, lets move to your argument for Moral relativism.

You claim that morality is relative and up to the individual. Different cultures have different morals, and morals change. People disagree on morality.

First, it doesn't necessarily follow from the mere fact of disagreement that morals are relative. After all, it could very well be the case that people disagree about the nature of certain moral things and somebody is right. So the mere fact of disagreement does not evince moral relativism, this is a non sequitur. You assert that cannibalism can be morally right to one person and morally wrong to another, but just because something is viewed as morally right to one person does not make it morally right. Beliefs are not always necessarily true as I'm sure you would agree.

In a relativistic world view, at best you can say that you do not prefer to eat humans, but you can never say that another person that finds eating the flesh of humans morally justifiable, is wrong. And that sums up your relativistic position:

You don't (or can't) find cannibalism, rape, pedophilia, or slavery wrong.

Whats going on here, lady's and gents, is the power of an idea, and that idea is relativism. It's the view that when it comes to morality, there are no rules, or no objective point of reference to delineate right from wrong. When it comes to moral claims, crazymonkie asserts that it is not a function of knowledge, but rather of belief. And that everybody's belief is equally valid. When it comes to moral questions, you hold to your "right and wrongs" and I hold to mine, and we don't judge each other. The truth is relative to the subject, and morals are reduced to individual preferences.

Crazymonkie claims that the moral values of the cannibal is equal to his own. Yet if monkie actually witnessed the cannibal feast on a young child, he would of considered the cannibal barbaric and either intervene or call the police. This shows that when we're not pondering the truthfulness of morality (or not applying "pure reason" which monkie claim to be bogus), our moral common sense or intuition rises immediately to the surface and accurately informs our actions.

Crazymonkie makes a series of truth claims which undermines the very core of his relativistic position. If truth is merely an abstract concept and relative to the individual, then it would make his argument true only for him, not for me. His truth claims are his truths, not mine. This then begs the question of why he is trying to persuade me to accept his truths. Why even make your case at all crazymonkie? Abstract concepts like truth are relative, remember?
"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" ~Carl Sagan

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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by crazymonkie_ »

Equestrian wrote:Again, I understand that you don't hold to objective morality. I think I made that quite clear. The purpose of my argument was to refute your understanding of objective morality. I was not making the case (at least, in my last post) that it is true. I've adequately demonstrated that you are in error in your understanding of objective morality, however it appears that you are having trouble following the argument.
My understanding of objective morality is very solid. People who believe in objective morality, particularly theists, believe it comes from *somewhere*, generally in a sort of emanational or revelatory manner; top-down, basically.

My view of morality is bottom-up.

Never the twain shall meet.
I'll make this simple. Moral law is independent of humans. Right and wrong, good and evil applies to all humans. We as humans apply moral law to the given situation.

There is no inconsistency with this view.
I know this, and I also know that there is no inconsistency. I never called you inconsistent. You, however, called *me* inconsistent. Several times.
You claim that morality is relative and up to the individual. Different cultures have different morals, and morals change. People disagree on morality.
Incorrect. I claim it is up to the culture. Show me a culture that hasn't changed its morals, ever, and you'll have a case for moral absolutism.
First, it doesn't necessarily follow from the mere fact of disagreement that morals are relative. After all, it could very well be the case that people disagree about the nature of certain moral things and somebody is right.
It could be, but then the question becomes, "What is the final arbiter of morality?" A god-believer would say "It's my god that makes morals." I work from the position that, if there is some god, it certainly doesn't seem to invest itself in human events enough to make a good source of morality.
So the mere fact of disagreement does not evince moral relativism, this is a non sequitur. You assert that cannibalism can be morally right to one person and morally wrong to another, but just because something is viewed as morally right to one person does not make it morally right. Beliefs are not always necessarily true as I'm sure you would agree.
Yeah, I know. That's why I added on that "Best of all possible livelihood for all possible people," and said "You aim for 100% satisfaction." If it makes a group, no matter how small, miserable- it is not right.
In a relativistic world view, at best you can say that you do not prefer to eat humans, but you can never say that another person that finds eating the flesh of humans morally justifiable, is wrong. And that sums up your relativistic position:
I can actually say it's wrong, because it's my cultural beliefs. Does that make them objectively right? No. Not any more than it makes the subjugation of women in Islamic countries objectively right from their standpoint.

Best of all possible livelihood for all possible people.
You don't (or can't) find cannibalism, rape, pedophilia, or slavery wrong.
Yes I do. Get off your pulpit.
Whats going on here, lady's and gents, is the power of an idea, and that idea is relativism. It's the view that when it comes to morality, there are no rules, or no objective point of reference to delineate right from wrong.
There isn't an objective point of reference. That you'd *like* there to be one, doesn't make it so. Hell, that *I'd* like there to be one (I've got a few pet projects of my own) doesn't make it so.
When it comes to moral claims, crazymonkie asserts that it is not a function of knowledge, but rather of belief.
No, that's not what I'm saying at all. What I'm saying is that it IS a function of knowledge. How can we know what is the best possible livelihood for the highest number (aiming for all, remember) when we don't have knowledge?

Belief, in many cases, *stops* this process. Doctrine, for instance- slavery in the Bible (book of belief) used to justify U.S. slavery; what we know today as pseudoscience, based upon belief (phrenology, for instance) used to show 'scientifically' the hierarchy of the 'races.' What was this but belief- belief that cloaked itself in the garb of knowledge, but which, like many other systems of belief, worked backward from a conclusion to find justification for itself.
And that everybody's belief is equally valid.
See, here's the thing: Until a more objective, scientific methodology can be used to ascertain the validity of such claims, this is true. Afterward, well.... gone the way of phrenology.

[quote[When it comes to moral questions, you hold to your "right and wrongs" and I hold to mine, and we don't judge each other. The truth is relative to the subject, and morals are reduced to individual preferences.[/quote]
Are you reading the same responses I've been writing?!?
I just wrote:This is all true. Ultimately, all morality is subjective; there is no one code to which we humans can turn and say 'That is right.'

HOWEVER, this does not mean that we are not allowed to make moral codes and follow them. Nor are we particularly bound to extreme liberalism and say 'You've got yours and I've got mine.' Rights are inventions- great inventions, but inventions nonetheless. They, like all morality, are a case of consensus. Sometimes the consensus is based on more objective evidence, and sometimes the consensus is based on less objective evidence.
Please do pay attention next time.
Crazymonkie claims that the moral values of the cannibal is equal to his own. Yet if monkie actually witnessed the cannibal feast on a young child, he would of considered the cannibal barbaric and either intervene or call the police.
Uh, yeah, no kidding- culturally, that's not acceptable to me. It was also one of the 'maybe' hard rules I mentioned earlier. Which I think is why you tried to bring it up?

Regardless, in the broadest view possible- even outside of the morality I mentioned (greatest good for greatest number; try for all), it ISN'T immoral- in that there is no good or bad in reality. That we think it is, based upon what we want morality to be, just shows what we believe.
This shows that when we're not pondering the truthfulness of morality (or not applying "pure reason" which monkie claim to be bogus), our moral common sense or intuition rises immediately to the surface and accurately informs our actions.
Nah, it just shows our cultural background, really. It informs our beliefs, which inform our actions. We work off belief, particularly when it comes to gut instinctual reactions of things that we find culturally repulsive. Yet a physical reaction can be a reaction to many things- as I've learned through cognitive behavioral therapy, a visceral reaction need not even be to whatever is currently in front of you; it could be a reaction to an association with that thing, or some other reason entirely.

Pure reason is bogus, BTW. It's been banned from polite company in philosophy, so to speak, since Kant's time.
Crazymonkie makes a series of truth claims which undermines the very core of his relativistic position. If truth is merely an abstract concept and relative to the individual, then it would make his argument true only for him, not for me.
Not really. If truth is relative, then relativism isn't relative. Savvy?
His truth claims are his truths, not mine. This then begs the question of why he is trying to persuade me to accept his truths. Why even make your case at all crazymonkie? Abstract concepts like truth are relative, remember?
I'm not making any case for it- I'm explaining. And you're misrepresenting my points and trying to make me seem ignorant about your Platonic-style morality.

I'd also appreciate it if you actually addressed me in your responses, rather than some theoretical audience that's going to back you up and laugh at my apparent ignorance.

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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by IoshkaFutz »

Psycho_bunny pointed out on the thread about the child molesters that bonnobos hump their young, from time to time. That child molestation is seen as one of the big cardinal 'no-nos,' and yet is still a part of our closest relatives (and a part of us- granted a very small part) says that it's possible that *that* might not be a hard limit.

There is no hard limit precisely because of man's nature. What the bonobos do in terms of "no-nos" is of little import, because man can be / has been, infinitely crueller, kinkier, perverse, murderous, pain-giving. And in ways you'd be hard-pressed to find or explain away by parallels in the animal kingdom, except by waxing poetic or involving animals of all different species / types. The reason for this is precisely what is particular to man.

Some of the acts of man show no parentage whatsoever... perhaps because man is not only different in degree, but in kind.

Monkeys did not begin pictures and men finish them; Pithecanthropus did not draw a reindeer badly and Homo Sapiens draw it well

A very strange animal precisely because he has a creative / moral dimension. We may also be evolving, but we are in a position to creatively change our evolution because of awareness. The very awareness of our detachment from nature is the beginning of the creative / moral realm, and what separates us from the beasts.

The detachment probably coincided with very simple and inchoate notions of what good and bad was and from there a desire for "better" as opposed to blank acceptance... The beginning of a creative / moral realm was a celebration/rebellion of sorts, and from there came the pursuit of knowledge, organization. This detachment probably coincided with art (cave paintings and suchlike). To represent is to celebrate / idealize.

The tendency especially among bottom up materialists, is to get stuck on man the brute, but one thing is certain: only man creates art. Everything else about what happened in the cave might be speculation, but the cave was decorated. A gratuitous thing.

So we might see parallels with supposed simean relatives, but the creative/artistic/moral dimension unique to man (difference not of degree but in kind) is what makes those parallels ultimately absurd except in a poetic sense. We can create a link between sending a space ship to the outer reaches of the solar system with a monkey hurling a stick as far as it can into some distant bushes and call them both "curiosity"... both might be done hoping / expecting to find something... But the real difference IMO is knowledge for the sake of knowledge... a gratuitous / creative quality which is also - negatively - responsible for evils, "no-nos" and "bad-bads" unimaginable to bonobos.

The materialist outlook rarely does justice to primitive man. The key is not in the few scattered tools, skulls, bones, but in the rock and cave drawings. That man like most any animal gets hungry and then "driven" goes out and clobbers something to eat is interesting, but that man from primal need then goes on to create "gastronomy" or "fasting" is far more interesting. That he lives in a lair like many an animal is fine, but that he decorates that lair is probably much more connected to why he's no longer living in a lair, but in a home... and ultimately in a space station.
“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer - German Lutheran Pastor and Theologian. His involvement in a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler led to his imprisonment and execution. 1906-1945

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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by sword_of_truth »

You claim that morality is relative and up to the individual. Different cultures have different morals, and morals change. People disagree on morality.


Incorrect. I claim it is up to the culture. Show me a culture that hasn't changed its morals, ever, and you'll have a case for moral absolutism.
Culture isn't the whole story. Some people argue for some kind of platonic sense of morality because they confuse it with certain natural tendencies that we have. They look at everyone they know, and they see that everyone would agree that it's not nice to go and beat up 5 year old kids with a baseball bat. They see it as culture-independent. I think culture could have the potential to override this natural instinct, but it's not just an arbitrary thing that people just decided was a good idea. So, in some sense, I think human nature may actually point to something like a Platonic morality. It's actually not a matter of philosophy alone, I think, but also psychology. I reject the notion that the morals are valid independently of humans and human minds, but within human psychology, we may find certain trends, which I think this "Platonic" morality is really trying to get at.

Morality is not purely a cultural construct. For example, we have mirror neurons that allow us to feel other people's pain. So, there is a physiological component to morality.

So, to the extent that absolute morals exist, (and I don't think they do, independently of us) it's human nature. Culture can override tendencies, but that doesn't change the fact that they are there.
"...if you want my personal preference say I found out that my wife was cheating with me flogging would be too good a punishment."

--fudgy

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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by sword_of_truth »

You don't (or can't) find cannibalism, rape, pedophilia, or slavery wrong.
This is one of the most irritating arguments I hear all the time. There's really no substance to it at all. Just some kind of arbitrary declaration. We do find it wrong. It's like saying there isn't a table in front of me when I can see perfectly well that there is a table in front of me. I don't see the point of even uttering it.

"You don't believe God is going to put you in hell for rape, therefore you must necessarily think it's okay to rape women." False statement. You may as well just say, "I like to make false statements for no reason. Circles are square. Up is down. Black is white."

Yeah, it is just a preference, not a truth, but it exists, AND we also want it to apply to everyone else, not just ourselves. To say that rape is wrong MEANS that we don't approve of it, and our culture doesn't approve of it. It doesn't MEAN that it has to be objectively wrong, unless you are an advocate of map/territory confusion or are linguistically dishonest.

Perhaps these people think it adds sport to the debate to make a deliberately false and obviously false statement, so they will have to work harder to win the argument.
"...if you want my personal preference say I found out that my wife was cheating with me flogging would be too good a punishment."

--fudgy

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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by crazymonkie_ »

You know- every once in a while on this site I read a reply that I'm just incredibly glad to see written. Usually this is something that helps me to learn something I didn't know before. Everyone's got huge gaps in knowledge, and I'm definitely no exception. Thank you sword_of_truth, for pointing out that fact about mirror neurons; I'd forgotten about them.

My only real issue with the idea of a Platonic-style revelatory morality is with the idea that the morality comes from 'somewhere' often viewed as above or beyond 'this' world, and that there is some utter, absolute, perfect Ideal of Right and Wrong of which our world's right and wrong are shadows or projections. Otherwise- yea- I don't believe in totally subjective morality in the Objectivist sense. That's more the mirror image of Platonic morality, really. Both are equally wrong for the opposite reasons. Still, in the main, I do believe that moral systems are basically arbitrary.... kinda. Mirror neurons help us to understand why moral systems seem to make the same general patterns in human morality tends to make the case for *less* supernatural involvement, if in fact there is any at all; they also help to explain how, in a sense, there *is* a baseline (much weaker than most religious systems would have us believe, however). And it also helps to explain how I'm not being contradictory.
"You don't believe God is going to put you in hell for rape, therefore you must necessarily think it's okay to rape women." False statement. You may as well just say, "I like to make false statements for no reason. Circles are square. Up is down. Black is white."
One of my favorite jokes about this attitude is to say about that particular type of debater's phrases, "Words don't mean what words mean!"
Or: "I'm so crazy, I noun verbs!"

Love em both.

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Equestrian
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by Equestrian »

crazymonkie_ wrote:I'd also appreciate it if you actually addressed me in your responses, rather than some theoretical audience that's going to back you up and laugh at my apparent ignorance.
Relax, funkymonkie. I'm not trying to make you look ignorant, however you do display considerable ignorance on the subject of moral relativism, which is the position you maintain and are advancing in your argument. Let me explain:

I argued that in a relativistic world view (one who genuinely holds to moral relativism), you can not say that rape, pedophilia, slavery, child molestation, etc..., is objectively wrong.

Where you replied by saying "Yes I do. Get off your pulpit."

I know you think these things are objectively wrong, and I'm certainly not telling you that you don't. But the point I made had obviously eluded you. You, as a moral relativist, have no justification to say that rape, slavery, or pedophilia is objectively wrong without defeating your own argument for moral relativism, and consequently the moral relativistic position you maintain.

According to your argument, morality is subjective, not objective. If morality is subjective, then "right and wrong" are just personal preferences. The moment you say "I can actually say it's wrong," you surrender your relativistic position.

You claim that a culture determines what is good and what is bad. Morality is relative to the culture. So what is considered moral is what a majority people in a given culture think. Moral consensus in culture.

First, there was a time that slavery in American culture was considered morally right (this applies to practically all cultures). By American cultural standards, slaves at one time were property and not considered human. So according to your logic, when slaves, by law, were not considered human beings in American culture, it was morally right. That would make Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement morally wrong. If morality is subjective to the consensus of the majority culture, then things like Human Rights for slaves are subjective. If Human Rights are subjective, then there was no objective reason to abolish slavery and discrimination.

Furthermore, if what is morally virtuous is up to the culture, then things like intolerance, genital mutilation, slavery, discrimination, misogyny...all of these things are morally validated by the culture. The culture determines whats right and wrong. There is nothing objectively wrong with something like slavery. The act of enslaving another human being is not actually wrong. If this is true, then you (we as humans) are not justified to claim that another culture is morally wrong for enacting slavery into law. There is no justification to stop the jihadists from carrying out terrorist attacks, or saying that terrorism is wrong, because thats their cultural morals. Who are we to say Sharia Law is wrong? We have no right to impose freedom and Democracy on Muslims in Saudi Arabia, just we have no right to impose freedom and Democracy on Muslims in America.
crazymonkie_ wrote:That's why I added on that "Best of all possible livelihood for all possible people," and said "You aim for 100% satisfaction." If it makes a group, no matter how small, miserable- it is not right.
Notice here, you make a series of absolute moral claims:

"If it makes a group, no matter how small, miserable- it is not right."

Its not right according to whom, you? If morals are subjective, then who cares if you think its not right. Why should I subscribe to your morals? If I say "people should live in abject misery-its the right thing to do," my moral notion is equal to yours. It doesn't matter whose notion of morality becomes law, because they are equal in value. You, as a moral relativist, should have no problem living under either condition as morals are equal.

Here you say:

"Best of all possible livelihood for all possible people"..."You aim for 100% satisfaction."

Where does this moral dictate come from? this is your abstract moral notion, its just your personal preference. Your not arguing that this moral dictate is objectively true for everyone, are you?
You agreed that not all beliefs are true, and then you proceed by asserting your own moral notion as if its necessarily true.
crazymonkie_ wrote:I'm not making any case for it- I'm explaining.


No, you are not explaining:
crazymonkie_ wrote:No, no, no, no, no, no.

Morality is SUBJECTIVE.
You are making a truth claim. You are arguing that moral relativism is true. And since according to you truth is relative, your argument is self-defeating.
"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" ~Carl Sagan

crazymonkie_
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by crazymonkie_ »

Equestrian wrote:
crazymonkie_ wrote:I'd also appreciate it if you actually addressed me in your responses, rather than some theoretical audience that's going to back you up and laugh at my apparent ignorance.
Relax, funkymonkie. I'm not trying to make you look ignorant, however you do display considerable ignorance on the subject of moral relativism, which is the position you maintain and are advancing in your argument.
You were talking over me and preaching. Don't do it again.
And YOU are the one showing ignorance on my position, trying to make it into something it's not.
I argued that in a relativistic world view (one who genuinely holds to moral relativism), you can not say that rape, pedophilia, slavery, child molestation, etc..., is objectively wrong.
No, you said "You don't (or can't) find cannibalism, rape, pedophilia, or slavery wrong." Note the lack of "objectively" in the quote.
Again: You are WRONG about my position.

I don't believe in objective right and wrong, but in SUBJECTIVE wrong, even subjective wrongness that is almost objectively wrong. Such as with pedophilia, etc.

If it causes harm to the great majority of people, it is wrong. Child molestation or pedophilia objectively (in terms of what we can observe empirically) is harmful. Therefore, wrong.

But please, harp on how I don't have moral authority to say this is so. Point out, again, that without some sort of spiritual being, I can only say 'you've got yours and I've got mine' even though, each and every time I talk about moral codes I show how it is possible to be moral without any sort of god.
You, as a moral relativist, have no justification to say that rape, slavery, or pedophilia is objectively wrong without defeating your own argument for moral relativism, and consequently the moral relativistic position you maintain.
Once again: You miss my point.

See, that's why I talked about that whole "Greatest good for the greatest number, aim for 100%." If you want to know where that comes from (I know you do because you ask later) it's kind of a Utilitarianist position. With the addendum of "trying for 100% satisfaction." The main point is: Pay attention to your fellow human beings. Listen to what they want and need. Raise them up, if they are down. Don't treat them like second- or third-class citizens.

And let's also clear the air on another matter: Moral relativism plus Utilitarianism is NOT a self-defeating position. It is only so if, as you have done, one starts with the baseline of ostensibly objective morality (generally some strain of theist morality) and, moving forward, sees some sort of 'lack' in terms of 'moral authority.' Whereas the subjective position lets it known early that absolute objective morality is impossible, it also does not (save in the case of nihilism or the most extreme relativist system) say that something approaching objective morality is impossible.

So these extreme cases that most (save those caught up in older, crueller, often religious moral systems) can agree upon as wrong are not a good example of how relativism is wrong. Not in all cases of relativism, anyway. Certainly not in mine. Though you'd have a case against me if I actually took the position you were arguing against.
According to your argument, morality is subjective, not objective. If morality is subjective, then "right and wrong" are just personal preferences. The moment you say "I can actually say it's wrong," you surrender your relativistic position.
Again: You're arguing against someone else here.

Though I'll go off on a tangent here and ask: If morality isn't subjective, if it isn't based on consensus (which, in your post, you almost spit out like an invective) then where does it come from? If it comes from god, you've got a problem.

Let's give you god, for a moment. The general, supernatural, outside of the Universe and essentially beyond understanding god. Okay. How has this deity communicated? If you're some sort of theist, one that isn't that strong a believer in pure reason and doesn't entirely rely on that to make a moral code, then they're probably looking at some 'holy book.'

In these books are undeniably cruel and barbaric acts: Men being stoned for working on the Sabbath, people getting their heads lopped off for worshiping the wrong god, etc. If one is literalist, all these are good things. Yet today we know, more objectively, that these are bad things. So what is it? If one is a cherry-picker, one can be moral today. If one is not, one can be truly, objectively moral in the text-literalist sense.

Moral authority from a god, again, depends upon culture. It is consensus, in fact, cloaked in absolutism. Which really says more to the general human tendency to try to control other human beings than it does to any superior source of morality.
You claim that a culture determines what is good and what is bad. Morality is relative to the culture. So what is considered moral is what a majority people in a given culture think. Moral consensus in culture.
... and then I tack on "Greatest good for the greatest number, aim for 100% satisfaction." How dare I undermine your argument against my position that I never really took!
So according to your logic, when slaves, by law, were not considered human beings in American culture, it was morally right.
Here's the funny part: Without objective evidence (empirical) you're right about my potential position. HOWEVER, we know that it was wrong, why? Because when the sciences FINALLY stopped working backward from a conclusion to the evidence (took a LONG TIME) and acknowledged that race is a construct, and (even more recently) that maybe, just maybe, blacks weren't inferior intellectually to whites, and that intelligence is far more a fact of nurture rather than nature, the lie was uncovered.

I touched on this a bit in another post, but I'll make this clear: This is why science comes before ethics. Ethics are important, yes, but they often need an empirical base (if they can, which they often can) BEFORE any solid truthful assertions can be made. Well, if any can be applied to social units (IE- states; or even groupings of individuals, like 'all women' or 'all Asian-Pacific Islanders.')

Your assertion is correct if all I have is pure reason and some neat ideas. But I don't. I have access to painstaking efforts based in solid scientific methodology and years of peer review; and I have it right at my fingertips, considering I have free access to JSTOR. So again: You're arguing someone else's position, ignoring HOW I got to my position and only pointing out the 'errors' of a portion of what I believe about morality and ethics.
You are making a truth claim. You are arguing that moral relativism is true.
And you're making a truth claim that moral absolutism is true. Well, actually, you haven't made the case for it; you've only gainsayed my position and argued against a 'pure reason' heavy moral relativist position.

Without empirical evidence, without solid scientific methodology to make sense of various claims, we're just blowing air. And the methodology MUST be solid; otherwise we'll end up with spiritualism and phrenology as valid methods. Relativism without this latter piece is what you're arguing against.
And since according to you truth is relative, your argument is self-defeating.
Only in an absolute sense. Again, you're working backward from the assumption of a 'lack' of 'moral authority' in various relativist systems- only one of which you're arguing against (not mine)- and then saying 'you see, you see; it doesn't make sense!'

Yet if you do NOT start with the question-begging assumption of theist belief and say there is some 'source' of moral authority- one which, BTW, is FAR more arbitrary than consensus, reflexivity, and knowledgeable (usually I say "enlightenened," but I don't feel like having Ioshka jump my bones on this one) self-interest- then the 'problem' with some search for objective morality disappears.


Anyway, we've strayed from the topic, AGAIN.

Equestrian, I'd like to know your position on the polytheist/monotheist debate. Well, I guess I should say poly/mono/atheist debate, that's more correct.

I'll let you have the last word on morality, because it's a subject I'm barely versed in myself- I'll admit, I sometimes take for granted my post-war U.S. liberalism and don't think about it, so this tangent, while very annoying, has been helpful to me.

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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by sword_of_truth »

Performing logical acrobatics will not take away the moral relativist's morals. It's a practical matter.

It doesn't matter if rape is objectively wrong or not. It's empty to go to all this effort to put an inconsequential label on a belief. It accomplishes nothing, other than to put a label on it. What DOES matter is that if we have a chance to prevent a woman from being raped, we will do everything in our power to stop it. I have software in my brain that says to do that. Why wouldn't I do that? I can go against the software, but why?

Theists spend so much time trying to undo common sense by running in logical circles, it's unbelievable.

It's not up to the individual because people will not find certain moralities socially acceptable, so they reinforce other people's morals.

If I wanted to, I could try to force my favorite choice of ice cream on other people. That's my CHOICE. If I choose to do it, I can. I don't have to have a logical justification for it. If you say I do have to have a logical justification, then I have two words for you: watch me. Similarly, it is my RIGHT to force my own subjective choice of morals on other people as well. The difference is that human psychology makes it possible to force our morals on others because there are certain things that are very widely accepted. So, it's socially acceptable to force certain morals on other people. I don't like slavery. Therefore, I CHOOSE to tell people it's wrong (subjectively). Saying I have no basis for saying that so and so is moral will not stop me from doing it. Furthermore, that's all the so-called objective moralist cares about as well. Because he cannot tell the difference. I could lie and tell him I believe in his objective morality and that's why I denounce rape, but secretly I just think it's my preference that I object to rape. So, the whole discussion is empty and futile.

The other problem is that there simply is no objective morality that applies in all situations. How do you know that the robber should get 4 years in the slammer, rather than 5? Does anyone honestly believe there is some objective way (whether or not we know what it is) to figure this out? Yeah, the secret objective code of morality says that the correct sentence is exactly 4.93246782345634785346578 years. That may seem a trivial example, but anyone familiar with the concept of a moral dilemma know it's not always clear what's moral and what's not. So, we don't have an objective standard to judge things by. Even if it did exist somewhere out there, we obviously don't have access to it.
"...if you want my personal preference say I found out that my wife was cheating with me flogging would be too good a punishment."

--fudgy

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Equestrian
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by Equestrian »

crazymonkie_ wrote:You were talking over me and preaching. Don't do it again.
And YOU are the one showing ignorance on my position, trying to make it into something it's not.
First, I don't think its possible to talk over someone when the platform for debate is an online forum where we exchange dialogue through written text. Secondly, preaching entails an oration on religious matters. Religion is not relevant to the subject, and I didn't introduce it in our discourse. Thirdly, If I'm ignorant with regards to your position, then it's hardly any fault of my own. How can I possibly know your position on morality when you don't even know where you stand?

I offered a critique on moral relativism because it is very apparent that moral relativism is the position you espouse. After all, you did proclaim that "Morality is SUBJECTIVE," and then followed with an argument for relativism. You alternated between moral relativism and cultural relativism, and then mixed in some form of utilitarianism. But I don't see how this changes anything.
crazymonkie_ wrote:I don't believe in objective right and wrong, but in SUBJECTIVE wrong, even subjective wrongness that is almost objectively wrong. Such as with pedophilia, etc.

If it causes harm to the great majority of people, it is wrong. Child molestation or pedophilia objectively (in terms of what we can observe empirically) is harmful. Therefore, wrong.

But please, harp on how I don't have moral authority to say this is so. Point out, again, that without some sort of spiritual being, I can only say 'you've got yours and I've got mine' even though, each and every time I talk about moral codes I show how it is possible to be moral without any sort of god.

See, that's why I talked about that whole "Greatest good for the greatest number, aim for 100%." If you want to know where that comes from (I know you do because you ask later) it's kind of a Utilitarianist position. With the addendum of "trying for 100% satisfaction." The main point is: Pay attention to your fellow human beings. Listen to what they want and need. Raise them up, if they are down. Don't treat them like second- or third-class citizens.

And let's also clear the air on another matter: Moral relativism plus Utilitarianism is NOT a self-defeating position. It is only so if, as you have done, one starts with the baseline of ostensibly objective morality (generally some strain of theist morality) and, moving forward, sees some sort of 'lack' in terms of 'moral authority.' Whereas the subjective position lets it known early that absolute objective morality is impossible, it also does not (save in the case of nihilism or the most extreme relativist system) say that something approaching objective morality is impossible.
From what I gather here, it appears that you're advancing the idea that morality is determined by utility; that it's socially advantages to behave what we consider moral. Morality is measured by maximizing happiness. Although this position does not necessarily conflict with relativism, it still does not absolve your argument from self-refutation.

The problem with this view is that it presumes that we ought to be concerned with the health of the group. It presumes that "Greatest good for the greatest number, aim for 100%," and "trying for 100% satisfaction" is objectively good, or actually good for everyone. This presumes a moral dictate that applies to everyone, and that everyone holds to it as moral law.

When you equate morality with what is advantages for society, what then of the act when what is advantages for society is actually morally wrong. If it's morally good to do something that fosters social welfare, what if what fosters social welfare comes at the detriment of someone else or another society? Because what you're asserting is that whatever benefits society or maximizes happiness, cannot be morally wrong.

You keep on asserting that morality is derived from the "greatest good, for the greatest number." To know what good is, you must know what bad is before you can say something is actually good. To delineate between good and bad morals, you need an objective point of reference. Hence absolute morality. Because you're not asserting that the "greatest good" appeals only to crazymonkie, your asserting that the "greatest good" appeals to everyone. The "greatest good" is absolute.
crazymonkie_ wrote:If morality isn't subjective, if it isn't based on consensus (which, in your post, you almost spit out like an invective) then where does it come from? If it comes from god, you've got a problem.

Let's give you god, for a moment. The general, supernatural, outside of the Universe and essentially beyond understanding god. Okay. How has this deity communicated? If you're some sort of theist, one that isn't that strong a believer in pure reason and doesn't entirely rely on that to make a moral code, then they're probably looking at some 'holy book.'

In these books are undeniably cruel and barbaric acts: Men being stoned for working on the Sabbath, people getting their heads lopped off for worshiping the wrong god, etc. If one is literalist, all these are good things. Yet today we know, more objectively, that these are bad things. So what is it? If one is a cherry-picker, one can be moral today. If one is not, one can be truly, objectively moral in the text-literalist sense.
Wow, your aversion of God is unhealthy. No wonder your freaking out in this debate. Here's a little secret, buddy. If morals are objective, it does not necessarily follow that God exists. Moral objectivism certainly lends credence to theism, but it does not validate it. In fact, most of the arguments for the existence of God do not involve objective morality. So don't despair, you can hold to moral objectivism and still be an atheist. There are many atheists that are moral objectivists. In fact, most of the leading atheist philosophers are moral objectivists. Moral relativism has been bunked long ago.

I lean more toward theism. It's not that I think atheism is stupid, but rather that theism explains more than atheism can. The belief that there is an agent behind the diversity and order of the world seems much more explanatory than simply seeing matter itself as brute fact.
crazymonkie_ wrote:Here's the funny part: Without objective evidence (empirical) you're right about my potential position. HOWEVER, we know that it was wrong, why? Because when the sciences FINALLY stopped working backward from a conclusion to the evidence (took a LONG TIME) and acknowledged that race is a construct, and (even more recently) that maybe, just maybe, blacks weren't inferior intellectually to whites, and that intelligence is far more a fact of nurture rather than nature, the lie was uncovered.

I touched on this a bit in another post, but I'll make this clear: This is why science comes before ethics. Ethics are important, yes, but they often need an empirical base (if they can, which they often can) BEFORE any solid truthful assertions can be made. Well, if any can be applied to social units (IE- states; or even groupings of individuals, like 'all women' or 'all Asian-Pacific Islanders.').

Your assertion is correct if all I have is pure reason and some neat ideas. But I don't. I have access to painstaking efforts based in solid scientific methodology and years of peer review; and I have it right at my fingertips, considering I have free access to JSTOR. So again: You're arguing someone else's position, ignoring HOW I got to my position and only pointing out the 'errors' of a portion of what I believe about morality and ethics.
First of all, how exactly does science work backwards? Science is not a sentient being. Humans wield science. Humans are responsible for wielding science ethically or unethically. An unethical scientist wielding science can validate whatever he wants. A classic example is that "backward" science of Nazi eugenics you referred to. What I find perplexing is that you actually think that science empirically proved that Nazi eugenics was wrong. Now that's disturbing. What if Nazi eugenics turned out to be proven true, would that make Nordic superiority morally good? You hold to Darwinian evolution, what if humans branch into two separate categorical species in the future, and one species turns out to be physically and intellectually inferior to the other. Well according to you, science decides what is morally good and what is not.

The fact is science cannot prove or disprove morality. The Scientific Method can't even prove itself. Philosophy validates science. Morality is not even in the realm of science. Good and bad, right and wrong are philosophical questions that science can not account for. For example, prove to me, using the scientific method, that the Nazi's were wrong during the Holocaust. You can't. There are so many common sense problems with your argument that I have trouble understanding why you can't see them. I suggest you delve through your free subscription to JSTOR a little harder, and this time do some genuine research. Be honest with yourself and don't just find the material that validates what you already believe, find stuff that challenges your beliefs as well.
"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" ~Carl Sagan

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IoshkaFutz
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by IoshkaFutz »

Ciao Equestrian,

Magnificent post.

You are making a truth claim. You are arguing that moral relativism is true. And since according to you truth is relative, your argument is self-defeating.

The only area in which I disagree with you is in calling it "self-defeating"... it is also "self-victorious."

In the end it is all about self.

Crazymonkie said
Whereas the subjective position lets it known early that absolute objective morality is impossible, it also does not (save in the case of nihilism or the most extreme relativist system) say that something approaching objective morality is impossible.

This is a parasitical approach. Meanwhile they'll do their utmost to kill the host.

But what if the host were to decide to "kill" the parasites?

One could then imagine the parasites becoming quite principled! "Hey, what about your "thou shalt not kill!" - "Hey what about the "we hold these truths"... etc. etc.

But even here, the approach is not principled. The biggest sin is hypocrisy, in other words, those with principles (which can only be religiously / illogically based and therefore "delusional") not living up to their own principles.
“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer - German Lutheran Pastor and Theologian. His involvement in a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler led to his imprisonment and execution. 1906-1945

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