gib wrote: Yes, and this is what I've been saying. My theory belongs squarely in the field of metaphysics. It's a theory on consciousness, on the relation between mind and matter, and also perception and reality. It is only loosely connected to questions of politics and morality.
My interest however revolves more around the extent to which any theoretical speculation about human consciousness becomes applicable to
a particular consciousness in a particular existential context. As this pertains to conflicting value judgments.
Which is why [in my view] more folks are not subjectivists/relativists/moral nihilists. They need to believe [psychologically] that their value judgments are not just leaps of faith, political prejudices, existential fabrications/contraptions rooted in dasein.
They need to believe that when goods come into conflict, their own values reflect the most rational and virtuous manner in which to embrace an issue. As a "cause" for example.
They need to believe that "right makes might" reflects the noblest approach to political economy.
So, to what extent are your own values put to the test in conflicts with others? To what extent are you forced to live with consequences that trouble you, impale you, enrage you?
gib wrote: Drug use is the first thing that comes to mind, but even that is quite indirectly related to my core philosophy. My philosophy only really promotes the exploration of alternate mind states--and not even as a moral imperative, but more as something that one can do if it pleases him. It's on par with how a scientist probably thinks of his right to conduct controlled experiments or a Christian his right to attend Church.
And that being said, there are methods of exploring alternate mind states without drugs (so they say), so it's not like such explorations hinge on drug use. I'd be perfectly open to alternatives.
My reaction here however doesn't really change. In a particular context where values come into conflict, how would any "alternative mind states" effectively transcend the manner in which I construe the meaning of dasein, conflicting goods and political economy?
I could achieve an alternative mind state through drugs or meditation or some other method, but in interacting with others socially, politically and economically, how would conflicts be resolved other than re 1] might makes right 2] right makes might or 3] democracy and the rule of law.
gib wrote: What I'm telling you is that, given what my subjectivism actually says, it, like empiricism, is not as easily defeated just by the the implications of prong #2--namely, that it is an existential contraption/fabrication (hint: an existential contraption/fabrication, to me, is not "unreal"--it's just "invented").
The bottom line [mine]: How this actually plays out "in reality" when value judgments come into conflict. Given a particular frame of mind, you choose to behave in a particular way in a particular context and this triggers particular [positive/negative] reactions in others. How then would the manner in which you embrace "subjectivism" obviate the dilemma that [as a moral nihilist] I would find myself in?
Thus when you suggest...
gib wrote: Sure, I understand that, but what I'm saying is that in order to understand how the practices of a particular "ism" pan out in such conflicts, you first need to understand what such "isms" are saying (in general, apart from context)--otherwise, there's no way of knowing what behaviors a particular "ism" will prescribe--if religion A says "defeat your enemies" while religion B says "submit to your enemies"--knowing this makes the behaviors of adherents to each religion very predictable--but if you want to jump straight to the context of conflict, without understanding what the "isms" involved are saying, you will be missing vital pieces of information that won't allow you to make such predictions nearly as easily.
....I am unable to grasp how this might be applicable to any particular context in which values [religious, political or otherwise] do come to clash. Not in the manner in which thngs become clearer [for me] given the components of my own dilemma.
That "clarity" [for the moral nihilist -- this one] becomes hopelessly entangled in ambiguity and ambivalence.
iambiguous wrote:And out on the metaphysical branch we come to grapple with such imponderables as determinism. If we live in a wholly determined world this exchange itself is only as it ever could have been. Out towards the very end of that metaphysical branch, all of us are forced to acknowledge this:
There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.
Only this: Things become all that more problematic once we shift gears from either/or to is/ought.
gib wrote: Yes, I can see how that would heighten the imperative to be sure we know what the moral facts of life are (and even when we feel we know them all, the question remains whether there are any moral secrets hidden in the unknown unknowns). But before we go there, please run by me once more how going to the extreme ends of metaphysics leads to knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns?
What, in any particular context, does it mean to speak of "the moral facts
" from the persective of a mere mortal ensconced in a particular historical, cultural and experiential context? A particular set of personal experiences, personal relationships, personal interactions with particular ideas and knowledge?
Now, from the perspective of an omniscient God there are no unknowns. Mere mortals however are far, far, far, far from being omniscient.
Thus, regarding an issue like abortion, there appear to objective truths that can in fact be established as applicable to all -- human biology, the sexual libido, becoming pregancy, the medical act of aborting a fetus.
But what are "the facts" regarding the ethics of abortion? Given the vast and the varied contexts in which any particular abortion might occur --- and the vast and the varied intellectual and emotional reactions to it --- how [realistically] could all that would need
to known in order to render an objective assessment be accumulated?
What would that argument sound like?
And then how would that particular assessment be integrated into what would also need to be known regarding the nature of Reality and Existence itself?
iambiguous wrote:What I often ponder here is this: What if I had come to embrace moral nihilism right from the start? Could I have managed then to take that political trajectory from the RCP and the SWP, to NAM, DSOC and finally DSA?
gib wrote: The what now? Sorry, I don't know what those acronyms stand for.
Revolutionary Communist Party, Socialist Workers Party, the New American Movement, the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee and the Democratic Socialist of America. Those were groups I was once a member of. My political trajectory before I abandoned objectivism.
The Camus/Sartre "split" pertained by and large to the extent to which human interaction revolved more around "I" or "we". Mary's abortion is embedded in this...1] I was raised in the belly of the working class beast. My family/community were very conservative. Abortion was a sin. Both in and out of church.
2] I was drafted into the Army and while on my "tour of duty" in Vietnam I happened upon politically radical folks who reconfigured my thinking about abortion. And God and lots of other things.
3] after I left the Army, I enrolled in college and became further involved in left wing politics. It was all the rage back then. I became a feminist. I married a feminist. I wholeheartedly embraced a woman's right to choose.
4] then came the calamity with Mary and John. I loved them both but their engagement was foundering on the rocks that was Mary's choice to abort their unborn baby.
5] back and forth we all went. I supported Mary but I could understand the points that John was making. I could understand the arguments being made on both sides. John was right from his side and Mary was right from hers.
6] I read William Barrett's Irrational Man and came upon his conjectures regarding "rival goods".
7] Then, over time, I abandoned an objectivist frame of mind that revolved around Marxism/feminism. Instead, I became more and more embedded in existentialism. And then as more years passed I became an advocate for moral nihilism.
And Supannika introduced me to folks like Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard, Baudrillard, Adorno.
And, in particular [for me], Richard Rorty and ironism: * She has radical and continuing doubts about the final vocabulary she currently uses, because she has been impressed by other vocabularies, vocabularies taken as final by people or books she has encountered;
*She realizes that argument phrased in her present vocabulary can neither underwrite nor dissolve these doubts;
*Insofar as she philosophizes about her situation, she does not think that her vocabulary is closer to reality than others, that it is in touch with a power not herself.
Then it all comes down to what this is applicable to. And this [again, for me] lies in distinguishing the world of either/or from the world of is/ought.
gib wrote:Yes, if what's ultimately driving the theist is to convert the atheist. Keep in mind my example was really a Mickey Mouse example--I don't think that would actually work in the real world (unless the theist was an absolute push over)--but it's the kind of approach one might take that would play on what the opposition already believes, not on what one's self believes in an attempt to push it on the opposition as a replacement for what the opposition believes (which is why I was saying that arguing for proof of God's existence would work against this approach). In the real world, an atheist who decides to use this approach would have to come up with something a lot more sophisticated than "conflicting with me isn't very loving" but it would be in the same vein of utilizing what the theist already believes.
But let's say, for argument's sake, that the theist was hell bent on converting the atheist (probably not the most appropriate choice of words). I think my approach would still work but you'd really have to embrace a subjectivist frame of mind in this case. In other words, you would have to allow yourself to be convert (at least temporarily) and then begin work on utilizing the theist's beliefs (which you now also believe) to accomplish your goal (if the goal is not accomplished already--i.e. the conflict is ended now that you've been converted). The reason this requires being a thorough going subjectivist is that, for the subjectivist, there is no absolute truth, and therefore one wouldn't feel he is going against the truth, or his values, by switching over to another's view (it would be like an Einsteinian relativist, who begins by saying that it is we who are moving when we walk down the street, deciding to switch perspectives in the middle of a conflict with someone who insists that it's really the street moving backwards; the Einsteinian should have no problem with this since his own beliefs say that either perspective is valid). Of course, there may still be more work to be done after this point (if the conflict is really serious, then it's most likely over something of far more reaching consequence than whether or not God exists, most likely over moral obligations to do something in the world), but in getting over the conflict of conversion, the (former) atheist can now work with the theist to arrive at a conclusion about how to act in the world that works more smoothly with his original goals (it's easier to reason with someone who believes you are on their side rather than in conflict with them).
And yes, there is the possibility that the conversion itself may change the former atheist's ultimate objective, but this shouldn't be taken for a foregone conclusion; and furthermore, the subjectivist approach that I'm imagining would allow for an active process of submitting to conversion--by which I mean a psychological process that the subjectivist can control and customize (thought systems are very much like computer programs--they are incredibly versatile); the subjectivist, in other words, can adapt his beliefs in such a way that it satisfies the opposition's need to have him converted while at the same time maintaining the feasibility of attaining his original goal.
I'm not really sure how to react to this because my own focus is always on the extent to which an analysis [a set of assumptions] of this sort is applicable to prong #2.
gib wrote: But the whole thing was about how it applies to prong #2.
Then the problem revolves around my failure [yet] to grasp it. In particular the practical implications of it re prong #2. And as that pertains to the dilemma in which I am entangled.
Perhaps we will never succeed in closing this gap. But that often happens in exchanges of this sort here. We are puzzled as to why others are not able to understand that which seems so perspicuous to us.
With God you have that crucial transcendental font that [ultimately] renders subjectivism either moot or enables subjectivists to defer to God when their value judgments come to clash.
gib wrote: That's one of the features of my subjectivism that isn't shared in common with other forms of subjectivism (or idealism in this case). Yes, my subjectivism leads to a certain conception of "God", but it doesn't hinge on God like classical idealism does--God, in my subjectivism, is more of a conclusion, an end point, more than a starting point or a premise which, if rejected, results in the entire edifice collapsing.
Again, my reaction is always the same: How does your "certain conception of God" become applicable for all practical purposes out in the world of human interactions that come into conflict over values?
How do you take him "out of your head" in order to convey a meaning to someone who challenges a particular behavior of yours?
Also, how can you really trust what your subjectivism "says about him"? How do you move beyond the extent to which this too is embedded in dasein --- in the particular trajectory of your lived life that precipitated particular experiences, relationships, ideas etc.. Existential variables that [from my perspective] become largely a fabricated
frame of mind? A frame of mind that, given the manner in which I construe these things, is always subject to further change given new experiences, relationships, ideas etc.
When you note...
gib wrote: ....I will say that the closest my God comes to being omniscient is to say that all knowledge that happens to exist (in the minds of intelligent beings) is had by it. But does my God know everything? To me, that's an incoherent notion. (I do believe that this God feels everything, but I draw a sharp distinction between feeling and knowing.
If all knowledge [of all things?] is had by your God, how do you reconcile this with human autonomy?
And again: How would you be able to take this belief out of your head and to demonstrate why it is a frame of mind that all reasonable men and women ought to subscribe to.
Is it possible that you believe this because, emotionally, psychologically, it is a comfort and a consolation of sorts? Something [finally] to anchor the subjectivist "I" to?
iambiguous wrote:Of course this might fall into that category we call "the best of all possible worlds". Acknowledging that this is always expressed "here and now" and as a political prejudice.
gib wrote: Are you saying that it is reasonable to hold out for the hope that, one day, we will have a universally applicable moral standard that can be absolutely and objectively demonstrable?
I am merely pointing out that, of late, I have not come across an argument that might persuade me to believe that such an objective moral standard does in fact exist.
As for whether this might be a "good" thing or not, what counts first and foremost is that it does in fact exit. If in fact it does exist. Here of course what counts is the extent to which there are consequences for choosing not to abide by the standard demonstrated to in fact exist.
That's why many ecclesiastics embrace Hell, and many secular ideologues embrace reeducation camps and prison and execution.
iambiguous wrote:What I cannot accept [so far] is any argument that might possibly resolve this.
gib wrote: What does this mean? You cannot accept any argument that might possibly offer the ideal solution? So you don't want the ideal solution? Again, I am confused as to what your dilemma is.
No, by "accept", I simply mean to agree with. And my dilemma is rooted in this. If my dilemma were in fact resolved with an argument that convinced me of one or another objective standard, that would not necessarily resolve it for others.
One would have to reach the point where [for all reasonable men and women] rejecting the objective moral standard would become the equivalent of rejecting 1 + 1 = 2, or rejecting the laws of nature, or rejecting the logical rules of language.
This in my view is right around the corner from, "why does anything exist at all?", or, "why is existence this way and not some other way"?
gib wrote: Which means what? That the question is meaningless? That it's too complex? That it's unrealistic to expect a answer?
Well, this sort of imponderable evokes Donald Rumsfeld's unknown unknowns again.
How does the mind [whether "subjectivist" or "objectivist"] even begin to grapple with the very essence/nature of Existence
itself? In fact one of the unknown unknowns might well revolve around the extent to which the human mind is even capable of
And I don't argue that ideal/natural solutions don't exist, only that "here and now" I don't believe that they do.
gib wrote: You realize that could be taken as an oxymoron.[/color] But that in itself is still just a frame of mind "in my head".
Don't we all go to the grave oblivious to The
Answer here? Don't we all go to the grave clinging instead to that which we believe or think we know "in our head"?