back to the beginning: morality

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Mon Oct 26, 2020 5:20 pm

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

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

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


This is true. Historically hundreds and hundreds of cultures [big and small] have come up with their own more or less one-size-fits-all moral transcripts. And it does work in providing the community with "rules of behavior" that act as a fundament for depositing "I". First "the gods". Then a God, the God. Later these were replaced in some parts of the world by secular facsimiles. Political ideologies and the like.

And, of course, there have been those down through the ages who "deduced" philosophical arguments into existence. The Intellectual scaffolding from which all rational men and women could "theoretically" note their actual obligations when confronting conflicting value judgments.

In truth, social life does wither in regions of high crime and violence, as people tend to avoid high a risk interactions and threatening situations. In prohibiting harm to others, and in condemning and punishing criminal conduct, the moral sense reduces the risks and encourages association. With the help of such ‘moralistic aggression’, the moral sense enables the wider spread of reciprocal altruism.


In truth, none of this really changed just because the economic base allowed for the existence of the surplus labor we call philosophers. The need for "rules of behaviors" in any community is just plain commonsense. And these rules revolved more around the arguments from folks like Margaret Mead, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Marvin Harris and Karl Marx than from Plato, Aristotle, Descartes and Kant.

Altruism, like egotism is hard wired into the human brain. What brings them out is embedded in any number specific contexts.

The result is that in normal functioning social life, violence and criminal conduct are relatively rare. Indeed, our sense of justice and fairness may be an evolutionary result of reciprocity supported by a socially-interactive moral sense. Of necessity everyday social life must be low risk. The incidence of aggressive behaviour is much lower in social animals than the shop-worn Hobbesian myth about an allegedly ‘natural’ tendency to warlike violence would lead one to predict. The countless peaceful interactions of everyday social life far outweigh the incidence of violently aggressive behaviour, as even the most rudimentary observation shows.


The results speak for themselves for most of us. We go about the business of interacting with others from day to day to day given any number of rules accepted by all parties. And, in fact, to the extent that the objectivists are able to persuade large swaths of the population to accept their own moral narratives and political agendas, those rules can be made to seem as natural as breathing in and out.

But what are those rules? And who decides they should be the rules? And who is able to enforce them? How about "normal functioning social life" in the midst of a world wide pandemic? Or in times of war or economic calamity? Or, for any number of reasons, your personal life goes through a tumultuous change? Situations in which you are forced to take a closer look at how morality comes to be what it is in the world around you.

Situations in which you see the way things are and you don't like them. Situations that need to be changed. But changed to what?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Mon Nov 02, 2020 6:52 pm

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

For Darwin, morality is altruistic. Trivers defines altruism as “behaviour which benefits another organism, not closely related”. Individuals, Darwin felt, would risk their lives and endure torture for the welfare of the group/


Think about how this clearly seems to be an appropriate description of some people you know. And yet how profoundly inappropriate for others. Think about Donald Trump being brought up in Fred Trump's household. An altruistic environment do you suppose?

No, the evolution of biological life on planet Earth has culminated to date in a species in which individuals are hard wired genetically to embody a selfless, altruistic regard for the welfare of the group. But also hard-wired genetically to embody just the opposite behaviors.

You tell me if very different historical, cultural and experiential contexts didn't predispose one frame of mind over the other?

And it's not for nothing that the capitalist political economy clearly rewards those willing to emulate the Donald Trumps of this world: me, myself and I. And then all the way to the bank. Or in his case perhaps bankruptcy

Now, sure, what apologists for this dog-eat-dog, survival the fittest political economy -- so far removed from altruism -- will insist is that it's all perfectly "natural" behavior. Capitalism comes the closest to "human nature".

Or, as phoneutria puts it:

"nature is hierarchical
people are selfish"

Deal with it.

Self-sacrificing hard-core altruism, like selfish egoism, cheating and violence, neither encourages nor rewards social interaction. On such harsh, punitive bases as these, social relationships could not emerge, would not be sustained, and would not have survived and evolved as they have. Any hard-core-altruistic social animals that emerged would soon become extinct. It follows that hard-core altruism is not a viable, or intelligent, social option. Altruism needs to be mutual.


Over and again, both sets of behaviors are possible because our brain is hard-wired biologically by the evolution of life on earth such that some will embody one set more than the other...depending in large part on how as children they are indoctrinated to view themselves out in the world with others. But the bottom line is that unlike these creatures -- https://www.thedodo.com/21-animals-bein ... 68711.html -- humans are social beings. But we are not so much "hard core" altruistic or selfish...shaped and molded genetically through instinct...as shaped and molded instead by a far, far more complex, profoundly problematic admixture or both genes and memes.

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

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Thu Nov 12, 2020 6:43 pm

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

Morality and Intelligence

The moral sense, Darwin held, requires extensive mental powers:

“The following proposition seems to me highly probable – namely, that any animal whatever, endowed with well-marked social instincts, would inevitably acquire a moral sense or conscience, as soon as its intellectual powers become … nearly as well developed, as in man” (pps.71-2).


Here's what I reconfigure this into: subsistence, survivial.

As with all other creatures on earth, the human species of necessity must acquire the means to sustain its very existence: food, water, shelter, defense, the capacity to reproduce.

But: Unlike all other creatures, the human species has acquired this extraordinary capacity to communicate all of this through language able to convey the sort of memetic complexities that are simply unknown to lions and tigers and bears.

Or even to our closest relatives the chimps. After all, how many philosophy forums do they have? So, we have the same basic needs as all other creatures, but we also have the capacity to "think up" particular "rules of behavior" to regulate our wants and needs. Let's call this morality.

But: how social are we?

Again, unlike other creatures, the manner in which we make distinctions between "I" and "we" and "them" involves considerably more variables. Variables that become entangled in historical and cultural contexts. Variables that evolved into the modern industrial state...and now the postmodern industrial state.

What of, "well-marked social instincts" that "inevitably acquire a moral sense or conscience" then?

“Conscience,” he said, “is by far the most important… of all the differences between man and the lower animals”. Still, he said dogs may have a conscience.


Yes, you know what's coming: We'll need a context of course.

Something that dogs never get around to broaching.

Indeed, Darwin held that there were differences in degree rather than in kind between man and the higher animals in their mental faculties. He reiterated the point a few pages later. The standard of morality improved “as man gradually advanced in intellectual power and was enabled to trace the more remote consequences of his actions; as he acquired sufficient knowledge to reject baneful customs and superstitions … as from habit... instruction and example”. Moral actions, then, need not all be deliberate: they can also be habitual, and even impulsive.


Improved? Or, rather, became far more complicated given the gap in evolution between the human brain and the chimp brain and the monkey brain and the brains of all the "lower" creatures. And what is the word that most separates us from them? How about this one: memes. And then, memetically, the gap between human interactions on the level of the "village" and on the level of the "postmodern industrial state".
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Tue Nov 24, 2020 6:12 pm

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

A Sense of Darwin’s Morality

Darwin’s theory of the moral sense, its close connection with the social instincts, and the extensive mental powers it demands, is well-argued, and based on extensive study and observation.


Okay, but my reaction to this revolves around those who think they do understand and share Darwin's sense of morality...and are willing to explore that with me here in regard to conflicting value judgments that are well known around the globe.

How are "social instincts" applicable to the abortion wars, or to the red state/blue state conflagrations? Or to the extremely contentious capitalism vs. socialism political and economic agendas?

The moral sense, one is led to conclude, is not only a product of evolution, it also implies an objective normative ethic (that is, practical knowledge about right and wrong). If the moral sense, like sociability, is innate, it might be something like a predisposition due to a deep moral code. That deep code would include only a few general ethical norms, such as care for the survival, reproduction and well-being of oneself, others, one’s community and one’s habitat, and a bias for reciprocity. It might be said to constitute a minimal objective normative ethic.


And then when I react here with "we'll need a context of course", some act as though I don't really get philosophy at all.

As though philosophers/ethicists, in exploring the "innate moral sense", are not [like all the rest of us] all over the board with respect to their own moral and political value judgments. Yes, it appears we come into the world with a biological propensity to make distinctions between right and wrong, good and bad behaviors. But how on earth would that be manifested if a child really was raised by wolves or kept completely isolated from others? History, culture and experiences are all profoundly embedded in the end results here.

Instead, the "deep code" here is not all that far removed from we describe as "instinct" in all other animals.

Thus:

Such an evolutionarily-grounded deep moral code would not imply that evolutionary adaptations or advantages either determine or justify specific moral choices. On the contrary, individual decisions reflect complex, intelligent interactions between individuals, their cultures, and the changing environments and situations in which they operate.


In other words, "in general". But: how exactly would we go about exploring this relationship existentially...in regard to that "particular context"? How are the points I make regarding "dasein", "conflicting goods" and "political economy" not also pertinent in regard to the reactions of specific individuals out in a particular world viewing it in a particular way?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Wed Dec 02, 2020 6:00 pm

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

A weak link in Darwin’s moral theory is that the extensive mental powers he correctly indicates as essential to the moral sense’s operations seem inadequate to the complex social tasks required by the social instincts. Interpreting and assessing the moral significance of others’ behaviour and negotiating mutually-beneficial relations, requires additional, specifically social abilities beyond the essentially reflective moral powers required by Darwin: social skills such as verbal communication, interpreting another’s body language, empathetic projection, and understanding other’s social mores, customs and norms, and negotiating good relations with others.


And all of this unfolds given ever evolving changes in human interactions as a result of, among other things, scientific advances, technological changes, the stuff Marx spoke of in regard to the "dialectical material" evolution in political economy. Verbal communication, body language, empathy, a grasp of social mores, customs and norms, negotiating good relationships with others, etc., ten thousand years ago is not likely to overlap with those things today. Not to mention the components that I propose in my own signature threads here.

These social competences go beyond any private thinking. Instead, they call for socially-oriented developmental flexibility in the brain and mind.


Yes, but clearly how this all plays out over the years and decades, will depend in large part on the actual "situation" that any individuals find themselves in. Thus "private thinking" is likely to pop up over and again. In this thread for example. Who is to say which point of view is the most "competent"?

Reciprocal altruism, a central component in human morality according to most naturalistic theorists – this writer, for instance – therefore requires a set of complex cognitive and social powers. Dealing with violations of reciprocity such as violence, theft, and cheating, by, for example, imposing sanctions or negotiating reconciliation, represents further complex challenges. It requires all the above social powers, and moral aggression, to direct our emotions and actions to identifying, and correcting, injustices.


Again, are we to imagine that how these components played out historically in communities in which "we" took precedence over "me" are not going to change [even dramatically] in a modern world in which as a result of the ascendency of capitalism "me" is often likely to be the starting point instead for many.

And that those who champion socialism are just intent on bringing it all back around more to "we" instead.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Wed Dec 09, 2020 5:27 pm

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

Conclusions

Darwin has presented an elegant naturalistic ethic, whose lineage goes back to Aristotle, Hume and Spinoza. His evolutionary understanding of human morality does not entail its reduction to anything simpler, living or inorganic. On the contrary, human morality’s social and mental complexity implies an unpredictable emergence from earlier primate morality and intelligence. As Darwin showed, our moral intelligence is part of humankind’s evolving social nature as an animal species.


Still, if this isn't argument that revolves around not knowing when, morally, genes give way to memes and then back again, what else is it?

It's like arguing about when sheer futility gives way to sheer stupidity among those who insist that they actually do grasp when and where and how and why genes and memes are intertwined. If only in every possible human interaction. Yes, regarding all of this philosophers can put in their two cents. But take their own intellectual contraptions down out of the clouds and focus in on an actual discussion and debate relating to race and gender and sexuality and every other set of circumstances where value judgments come into conflict. Won't they pop up all along the political spectrum...just like all the rest of us?

There "natural" ethics can become anything but elegant as those on all sides scream at and curse each other.

Darwin also claimed, presciently, that the moral sense should extend beyond humans to care for ‘the lower animals’ and ‘all sentient beings’. It has taken over a century for us to learn how profoundly right he was. Morality, we now understand, should reinforce the ecological interdependency of humans and other species.


The "moral sense" in the best of all possible world? The "moral sense" in which those who choose to use and abuse and slaughter animals for profit come to "see the light" and stop doing so because objectively it's the "right thing to do"?

And that this is somehow to be understood as also the "natural" thing to do given a true understanding of the evolution of biological life on planet earth? Of course that also includes the part where nature has left all the other animals on earth engaging in the daily spectacle of "kill or be killed". Literally survival of the fittest. All genes, no memes. Which is what the Satyrean ubermen among us want to insist is also the case for the human species. Memes or not.

The time has come for philosophy to fully recognize the depth and grandeur of Darwin’s naturalistic view of morality, society, intelligence and evolution. For it can help us understand our moral obligations, not only to each other but also to the “endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful” that evolve around and within us.


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

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Fri Dec 18, 2020 7:45 pm

Crimes and Misdemeanors
Terri Murray gets to the core of ethics with Socrates and Woody Allen

“I remember my father telling me, “The eyes of God are on us always.” The eyes of God. What a phrase to a young boy. What were God’s eyes like? Unimaginably penetrating, intense eyes, I assumed. And I wonder if it was just a coincidence that I made my specialty ophthalmology.”
– Judah (in Crimes and Misdemeanors)


It's not for nothing, in my view, that any discussion of morality/ethics must begin with God.

Why? Because, from my own frame of mind, if there did in fact exist an omniscient and omnipotent entity then how could the components of my own moral philosophy not be subsumed in Him? Anymore than the moral philosophies of everyone else.

Indeed, given an omniscient God, how could any of our moral narratives actually be derived from free will? Everything and anything existing could only be an inherent, necessary manifestation of God.

“O my friend, why do you who are a citizen of the great and mighty and wise city of Athens, care so much about laying up the greatest amount of money and honor and reputation, and so little about wisdom and truth and the greatest improvement of the soul, which you never regard or heed at all? Are you not ashamed of this?”
– Socrates (in Plato’s Apology)


Wisdom? Truth? Improvement of the soul? How I would love to have spent a few hours -- days? -- with him [and Plato] discussing those things. Out in a particular context for example. Moral and political idealism only make sense to me given the existence of one or another rendition of an omniscient and omnipotent God. And, in their own way, didn't they mange to define and to deduce one into existence.

Since the mid-Sixties, Woody Allen has graced our screens with humorous, quirky films. From his oeuvre of more than sixty movies, one in particular stands out as a philosophical masterpiece. Crimes and Misdemeanors was released in 1989, but the question it poses is as old as the hills: whether living an ethical life is worthwhile in itself. The higher the cost of doing the right thing (or avoiding doing the wrong thing), the harder the choice. Allen addresses this conflict between egoism and altruism by drawing a realistic character who is forced into a dilemma between protecting his happiness and reputation through committing an evil deed, or renouncing the evil deed, knowing that this will cost him his social status and happiness.


After Another Woman, this is my favorite film of his.* And precisely because it explores the moral parameters of human interactions given a God or a No God world. And aside from whether living an ethical life is a good thing in and of itself, in the absence of God which of us as mere mortals get to say what that actually consists of when push comes to shove and particular behaviors in particular sets of circumstances are either rewarded or punished.

* https://www.ilovephilosophy.com/viewtop ... s#p2398418
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Sat Dec 26, 2020 7:53 pm

Crimes and Misdemeanors
Terri Murray gets to the core of ethics with Socrates and Woody Allen

In a sense, even to ask the question ‘Why should I be moral?’ presupposes an amoral, self-interested outlook, since asking ‘What’s in it for me?’ totally negates the idea that virtue might be its own reward and discounts any motive other than a selfish one.


And I go on and on about this. Why? Because the only thing that is possibly more disturbing than the human suffering caused by dueling objectivist -- Hitler/Stalin -- is the suffering caused by the "show me the money" moral nihilists that own and operate the global economy. And the sociopaths who will use and abuse others based solely on the assumption that the center of the universe morally revolves around their own self-interests.

Intuitively it seems that anyone who has to ask what he will get in return for a good deed is probably not a virtuous person, since the question itself presupposes that a self-interested calculation of reward is the only motivator.


That's not the point from my perspective. For the egotists, the narcissists, the sociopaths etc., the world is not divided up between those who are virtuous and those who are not. It is divided up between what they want and desire [for whatever reason] and anyone who stands in the way of them getting it. For them virtue revolves only around having or not having options. And not getting caught when those who do deem their behaviors immoral come after them.

If push comes to shove, in a dilemma between his own interests and the interests of others, the egoist will always look out for Number One. An ethical life, if it is to be distinguished from selfishness – which seems the opposite of an ethical life – must involve altruism performed from a genuine regard for one’s fellow human beings.


And then of course there are those like John Galt. The supreme egoist. But cut more in the mold of Nietzsche's Uberman. Ego determines the course of his action. But it is an ego attached to "right makes might". It is an ego attached to philosophical principles that sets him apart from mere might makes right thuggery.

Selfishness is not problem, only the source from which it is derived.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Sun Jan 03, 2021 8:23 pm

Crimes and Misdemeanors
Terri Murray gets to the core of ethics with Socrates and Woody Allen

The Greeks

Yet, it still seems to make sense to ask how being good benefits us. If there is no benefit to being good, then moral rules are unfounded and would appear altogether unreasonable. Crimes and Misdemeanors wrestles with this paradox, in ways redolent of ancient Greek attempts to deal with situations in which there was a conflict between moral duty and self-interest.


Here though "good" is just a word that we invented because, for all practical purposes, in any given community, certain behaviors are going to be either rewarded or punished. And clearly to the extent that you are rewarded [in whatever manner] for doing this instead of that that is a good thing and not a bad thing.

It's just that going back to the pre-Socratics, the Greeks are thought to have come up with a new way of thinking about and then exploring this. Let's call it philosophy. Here in the "West" for example.

Yet here we are, thousands of years later, and, just like the Greeks, still squabbling ferociously over which behaviors really are the good ones and not the bad ones.

Why? Well, cue the arguments I make in my signature threads here. Or provide us with arguments of your own.

In Book II of Plato’s Republic, an affluent Athenian called Glaucon attacks Socrates’ view that justice is intrinsically preferable to injustice. On Glaucon’s view, justice is nothing but a social convention that arises from human weakness and vulnerability: since we can all suffer from injustice, we make an implicit social contract to be decent towards one another. We only allow these constraints on our freedom because we know we would stand to suffer even greater losses in their absence. He argues that justice is not something practiced for its own sake, but is something one engages in out of fear and weakness, or prudence. He claims that most persons act justly not because they think it’s better to do so but really because they lack the power to act unjustly with impunity.


Now, imagine a "human condition" where the overwhelming preponderance of men and women around the globe thought like Glaucon. So, of course one or another rendition of God or political ideology or deontology or true "natural" behaviors had to be invented. Social interactions had evolved from the brute facticity embodied in might makes right, had gone through any number of right makes right historical creations, and, with the advent of capitalism, had "settled" on one or another variant of democracy and the rule of law.

But: the right makes might objectivist are always around to wrench that back. We've got any number of them right here. Most being reactionaries. Some fancying themselves as one of Nietzsche's Ubermen. A few practically Nazis.

And then the moral nihilists who figure that "show me the money" is as good as it gets in their own best of possible worlds.

Now, in Crimes and Misdemeanors, we know the trajectory that Judah Rosenthal chose. Or, rather, given a new experience revolving around a new relationship... stumbled into?

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

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Mon Jan 11, 2021 6:31 pm

Crimes and Misdemeanors
Terri Murray gets to the core of ethics with Socrates and Woody Allen

To illustrate his point [that most persons act justly not because they think it’s better to do so but really because they lack the power to act unjustly with impunity], Glaucon tells the story of Gyges the Lydian, who discovered a ring with magical powers that allowed him to be invisible on command. Possessing the ring gave Gyges the power to commit injustices with complete impunity. He exploited its powers to the full, seducing the queen, killing the king and seizing the throne. Glaucon concludes his story by claiming that anyone in possession of such powers would be a fool not to use them, and that the only reason anyone would pretend to disagree with this is for the appearance of social respectability. Given the magic ring, not even the most ardent moral idealist would be able to resist the temptation to use it to their advantage.


This is another example of the hypothetical "what would you do?" Given one or another "situation". Everyone has their own frame of mind, many of them in conflict. Then the philosophers among us shift the discussion to that which all virtuous men and women ought to do. To that which all rational men and women are obligated to do.

Then I note my own arguments which suggest that such discussions are ultimately futile in a No God world. That what actual flesh and blood human beings end up choosing to do has less to do with philosophy and more to do with the complex intertwining of personal experiences, relationships and a particular sequence of knowledge, information and ideas that no two people are likely to ever share in common.

And then the sociopaths among us who scoff at such intellectual/hypothetical arguments altogether and insist that right and wrong revolve solely around whatever gets them that which satisfies and fulfills their wants and needs. For example, these folks: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machiavel ... psychology)

Socrates takes exception to this outlook and tries to refute it. He wants to demonstrate that the supreme object of a man’s efforts, in public and private life, must be the reality of goodness rather than its mere appearance.


Exception noted. But what never changes is that the objectivists among us take exception to every argument that refuses to accept their own frame of mind as the starting point. And then the sociopaths who are always ready, willing and able to take advantage of those who live their principled lives like an open book.

As for pinning down Goodness itself, Socrates left that part to Plato. Plato in and out of the cave, Plato inventing a "world of words" Republic owned and operated by the philosopher-kings.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Thu Jan 21, 2021 5:47 pm

Crimes and Misdemeanors
Terri Murray gets to the core of ethics with Socrates and Woody Allen

Socrates takes exception to this outlook and tries to refute it. He wants to demonstrate that the supreme object of a man’s efforts, in public and private life, must be the reality of goodness rather than its mere appearance .

Socrates’ main adversaries to this point-of-view were the Sophists. These teachers of rhetoric were the ancient Greek counterparts to modern-day marketing experts and spin-doctors. They specialized in the art of persuasion, and their aim was to win public favour for their client, irrespective of whether this was beneficial or harmful. To Socrates, their skill consisted largely in “making the worse cause appear the better”.


For me of course any attempt to demonstrate that there is in fact "the reality of goodness rather than its mere appearance", comes down to a demonstration that an omniscient and omnipotent God does in fact exist. Otherwise, mere mortals contend with "good and evil" given the manner in which I encompass that in my signature threads.

So, Google "socrates and god's existence" and you get this: https://www.google.com/search?source=hp ... ent=psy-ab

Google "plato and god's existence" and you get this: https://www.google.com/search?source=hp ... HIQ4dUDCA0

You tell me.

If either or both of them believed in the modern equivalent of a God/the God/my God, then in the absence of definitive evidence that He does exist, I would bring their arguments here: https://www.ilovephilosophy.com/viewtop ... 5&t=186929

As for the Sophists, how would they be differentiated from what today we would call sociopaths? Any argument that allows you to sustain that which is perceived to be in your own best interest is the right argument. And the sociopaths [and moral nihilists] have, in my view, always posed the biggest obstacle to the objectivists and the deontologists among us.

Plato’s Gorgias provides what is probably the clearest attempt by Socrates to answer the Sophists’ opposition of nature and law. Callicles is Socrates’ third and final opponent in this dialogue. He refuses to grant Socrates’ premise, that doing wrong is more base than suffering wrong. Callicles claims that Socrates has erred in assuming that the ethical truth is consistent with conventional social rules. In reality, he says nature’s laws of survival and self-protection are superior to man-made principles. Laws encoding justice and fairness are inconsistent with nature’s laws, even if Socrates’ previous two opponents were ashamed to say so.


Here of course we encounter a frame of mind that is in the general vicinity of Satyr and his ilk. Memes may seem persuasive but, in the end, it all comes down to genes. Your behaviors are either more in sync with Nature or with whatever "social constructs" happen to be in vogue when you're around.

Ah, but how do we pin down with any degree of certainty what Mother Nature intends for us? Here, the distinction is between "might makes right" and "right makes might". Between those who read and understand Nietzsche and those who don't. In other words, for the Übermensch among us, their own assessment of nature revolves around their vastly superior intellect. In regard to, among other things, race and gender and sexual preference, they, as "serious philosophers", concoct these dense thickets of intellectual contraptions to explain all of that to us.

Here, for example: https://knowthyself.forumotion.net/f6-agora
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Sat Jan 30, 2021 7:30 pm

Crimes and Misdemeanors
Terri Murray gets to the core of ethics with Socrates and Woody Allen

The Movie

There is no better modern cinematic illustration of Socrates’ argument than Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors. Allen uses the predicament of Judah Rosenthal (Martin Landau), a successful and happily married ophthalmologist, to bring the issues into focus, offering viewers an opportunity to consider whether or not Socrates is correct. Does injustice pay only hollow rewards? Allen revisited these themes again in his 2005 psychological thriller, Match Point, but Crimes and Misdemeanors remains his most elegant and enduring exploration of these questions first posed in Plato’s dialogues.


Still, Judah's predicament only plays out given this particular set of circumstances. And construed only from the different points of view that Allen examines. And most of us will still be more intent on deciding whether or not he did the right thing or the wrong thing.

Few will come to the conclusion that I do: that these predicaments are themselves rooted in the existential parameters of profoundly problematic "subjects" going about the business of creating a reality from all of the countless variables that come to make up their own unique lives. The part I embed in dasein.

And Plato's dialogues are merely part and parcel of the "methodology" those who embrace "serious philosophy" espouse so as to convince themselves that it actually can be determined "whether or not Socrates is correct".

To me, this is only even possible in a God world. Sans God, mere mortals interact given the assumptions I make in my signature threads.

So, in the film, we have this particular set of circumstances:

Having engaged in a long-term extra-marital affair, Judah’s somewhat neurotic mistress, Dolores (Angelica Houston), has grown weary of being sidelined and now wants him to fulfil past promises made to her by leaving his wife. From the start of the film we find Judah struggling to keep a lid on the situation – calmly at first, then desperately – while Dolores persistently threatens to expose the affair, as well as some of Judah’s financial misdeeds. From an ordinary perspective, Judah stands to lose everything – his marriage, the love and respect of his wife and family, his financial comfort, his hard-earned prestige as a medical professional, and his domestic bliss.


So, what would you do? And, in fact, this sort of thing happens often enough that many of the episodes featured on programs like Dateline, 48 Hours and 20/20 [here in America] revolve precisely around murders that have taken place in order sustain one or another clandestine relationship. Or to keep the "the other woman" from spilling the beans. Even "the other man" from time to time. Only on these episodes you don't have characters like Ben and Jack delving into and deconstructing the unfolding drama from philosophical or religious or sociopathic perspectives on the age-old battle between good and evil.

Instead, there are only saintly victims and the evil perpetrators. And determining whether or not the evil get caught. Keith Morrison is always there to put the right words into the mouths of all the characters and [usually] the "denouement" is exactly as scripted.

And certainly with no assessments like mine here.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Wed Feb 10, 2021 5:44 pm

Crimes and Misdemeanors
Terri Murray gets to the core of ethics with Socrates and Woody Allen

At the height of his crisis, Judah confides in a close family friend, the rabbi Ben. Ben says he couldn’t live if he didn’t think there were some sort of a moral structure and genuine forgiveness. He advises Judah to confess the wrong to his wife Miriam and hope for forgiveness from her. Judah cannot imagine that Miriam could forgive him, and admits that he can’t bear the thought of the consequences for himself, as well as for Miriam’s pride. Eventually Judah’s desperation leads him to call his brother Jack, who has a history of dirty business, such as eliminating unwanted nuisances.


So, basically, he is confronted with the frame of mind that revolves around a belief that there is in fact an objective morality available to human beings. Ben happens to be a Rabbi, but it could be anyone convinced that there is a way to differentiate good from evil. God or No God. Theistic or Humanistic.

Whereas Jack embodies the frame of mind that is embedded in the sociopath. If you want something done [for whatever selfish reason], you do it. Or you pay someone else to do it. Either way, "morality" comes to revolve solely around not getting caught. If you can get away with that which Ben would call "evil", then that's a good thing. For you. If not for Dolores.

Thus...

Like Socrates’ interlocutors Glaucon and Callicles, Jack has a hard-nosed approach to life. He defines real life in terms of sheer power over others, and real men know how to wield it when necessary. The only plane of existence he acknowledges is the pragmatic: the world where forgiveness and ‘justice’ belong to those who have the political or physical power to dispense them. Abstract notions of moral duty or personal integrity are irrelevant.


And, as I have noted before, this always strikes me as the grimmest reflection of moral nihilism. At least with the conflicting moral objectivists there is always the possibility of reasoning them over to your own point of view about right and wrong behavior. With the sociopaths there is almost no possibility of that. Everything comes down to the brute facticity of power itself. You want something? Okay, figure out a way to get it. And if it results in using and abusing others, just don't get apprehended and punished for it.

In a moment of particularly poignant ‘bad faith’, Judah adopts Jack’s outlook to rationalize his decision to hire a hit man to eliminate his mistress and the threat she poses to his comfortable lifestyle.


Bad faith? You can almost hear Jack snorting his reaction. In fact, his true feelings come out when it appears as though Judah's conscience is nudging him in the direction of turning himself [and Jack?] in. Then Jack basically reminds him of what the consequences of that might be.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Sat Feb 20, 2021 7:52 pm

Crimes and Misdemeanors
Terri Murray gets to the core of ethics with Socrates and Woody Allen

...having gone through with the murderous deed [of having Delores killed], Judah is then plagued by guilt. Not convinced by his own rationalization, he begins to have deep misgivings, even to the extent that he questions his atheism.


And that's where these things often end up: morality here and now, immortality there and then.

And that means a frame of mind relating to God and religion. If you are able to think yourself into rejecting them, then any possible guilt you might feel comes to revolve more around the consequences of getting caught. Your eternal soul isn't part of the unfolding drama, but if you are caught how to explain what you did to those who know and love you. Not to mention those who knew and loved the person you hired someone to gun down.

And even the most committed atheist is likely to acknowledge that when push comes to shove there is no way in which to be absolutely certain that a God, the God does not exist. But here this can all only unfold from the perspective of dasein. Some things you may be able to communicate to others, but any number of things can easily remain beyond a divide rooted in lives lived in very, very different ways.

In a nostalgic reverie -- https://youtu.be/xubKqMY2tPg -- we are transported back in time to Judah’s childhood memory of a dinner table conversation between his father, a rabbi, and his aunt, a cynical teacher who insists that this world is governed by ‘might makes right’. To bolster her argument, she cites the Nazi mass murderers who escaped justice and went on to live contented lives free of punishment or hardship. Her brother balks at the suggestion that there is no over-arching moral authority, and insists that those who do wrong will pay, whether in this life or the next.


Here morality clearly revolves around one's capacity to ground it in one or another objectivist font. It can be either God and religion or atheism and a Marxist-Leninist political ideology.

On the other hand, murdering Delores would not be condoned by either frame of mind. Instead, Judah must be reconfigured into Woody Allen's own rendition of a sociopath. Though a cultured, intelligent and sophisticated sociopath. Like, say, Hannibal Lector. From this amoral perspective, there is no ethical foundation upon which mere mortals can anchor their behaviors. There is only what "here and now" you have come to believe furthers your own best interests. And then finding an option to bring it to fruition.

And then not getting caught.

Can there then possibly be a grimmer, more cynical way in which to construe the "human condition"?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Wed Mar 03, 2021 5:59 pm

Crimes and Misdemeanors
Terri Murray gets to the core of ethics with Socrates and Woody Allen

His father's [a Rabbi] appeal is to a metaphysical realm beyond the conventions of human laws and their imperfect dispensation of justice. Judah is left wondering which of his relatives is right. The answer has huge implications for his own soul (if indeed there is any such thing).


Clearly, if the Jewish God does in fact exist, having set into motion a series of events that resulted in Delores being murdered doesn't bode well for Judah's soul. On the other hand, from the perspective of any number of Humanist ideologies, murder is surely the secular equivalent of a mortal sin. His soul may be irrelevant but his behavior is still thought to be objectively immoral. And he shall be punished accordingly if caught. And, if not caught, the deed will still weigh heavily on his conscience.

What then makes his Aunt's "cynical" approach to acts of murder -- even genocide! -- so ominous is that the implications of moral nihilism for the "human condition" becomes brutally clear. And, in the end, Judah "goes on with his life" -- a satisfying and fulfilling life -- as though Delores had never existed at all.

But: all the more ominnous is that Judah is still shown to be a cultured, civilized, decent and accomplished man. The incident with Delores was a stark exception.

What then of moral nihilism in the minds of those who were and are brutal and savage down to the core?

For a time Judah is consumed by self-doubt, to the point that he becomes alienated from his family and suffers constant anxiety and depression. He has saved his reputation and his family, but feels hollow. He is with his loved ones but feels absent at a deeper level because he has become a stranger to himself. As an escape from his bad conscience, he begins to drink unhealthy amounts of alcohol, and his once warm and buoyant demeanor is replaced by cantankerous irritability.

Alongside his fear for his soul there is the equally pressing fear that he will be found out by the police. But after a time, a drifter with a criminal record is arrested for the crime and Judah’s fears of being discovered fade away. He has gotten away with murder. Allen explores the question of how a man like Judah can live with himself, knowing that he has committed a great evil.


I think what is crucial here is how it depicts my point about "I" in the is/ought world reconfiguring given new experiences. There is before and after the murder of Delores. Just as there was the before and after the affair itself. But it's one thing to rationalize adultery, another thing altogether to rationalize a cold blooded murder.

Or, perhaps, not? Over time, Judah manages to rationalize both. Others may not manage to rationalize either. It's all embedded in one's own existential trajectory. Some sociopaths start out given one or another moral compass, while others can experience a childhood in which there never really is a moral compass at all.

There are as many possible paths here as there are particular human beings out in particular worlds understood in particular ways.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Fri Mar 12, 2021 8:09 pm

Crimes and Misdemeanors
Terri Murray gets to the core of ethics with Socrates and Woody Allen

To explore the issue of selfish and unprincipled versus unselfish and principled in more depth, Allen includes a lighter sub-plot that runs parallel to the main plot and opposes two characters with completely different values and life-goals. On one hand is Judah’s brother in-law Clifford (played by Woody Allen himself), a struggling artist who makes serious documentaries about philosophical issues. Meanwhile, Clifford’s other brother-in-law Lester (Alan Alda) is a hugely successful commercial television producer/director. While Lester has fame, wealth and romantic success, Clifford is unemployed, professionally unsuccessful, and unhappily married.


Morality light? After all, what is Clifford losing Halley to Lester next to Judah hiring a hit man to kill Delores? It might be analogous to comparing Woody Allen's relationship with 21 year old Soon-Yi Previn to those who allege that he sexually molested and abused 7 year old Dylan Farrow. And, in fact, some will argue that, as a moral nihilist -- sociopath? -- himself, Allen was more than capable of rationalizing both behaviors.

And, sure enough, in regard to this lighter sub-plot, I found myself becoming viscerally angered when Halley chose Lester over Clifford. It was the "wrong" thing to do given my own attachment to Clifford's more substantive character. But this is something I am only able to attribute to dasein. Others are equally able to attach themselves to Lester for their own reasons.

That's simply how human interactions can unfold. And we often find ourselves judging them based on our own assessment of good and bad choices.

Instead, my focus is always on the extent to which any value judgments in the form of moral narratives and political agendas are within reach of those ethicists who claim that the only legitimate path to wisdom here is through philosophy.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Mon Mar 22, 2021 5:48 pm

Crimes and Misdemeanors
Terri Murray gets to the core of ethics with Socrates and Woody Allen

In the final act, Allen brings the two plot threads together by having a family wedding at which Clifford and Judah find themselves alone in a room and share a quiet chat. Judah covertly ‘confesses’ his crimes to Clifford by pretending they’re an idea for a movie. The ending of Judah’s ‘film’ sees the murderer reconciled with his deed: after much time has passed, his feelings of guilt abate, and he is able to go on with his life as normal. Clifford mulls this over and responds that he would change the ending to have the murderer confess the wrong, because “in the absence of a God or something he is then forced to assume that responsibility himself, and then you have tragedy.” Judah responds that “that’s movies and not reality” – echoing the Callicles’ and Glaucon’s retorts to Socrates, accusing him of promoting rarified ideals incompatible with the real world.


Next up [of course]: What would you do? And, more to the point in a philosophy venue, is there a way to, deontologically, come up with the definitive argument that establishes what all rational and virtuous men and women ought to do.

It's like our individual reactions to the "real world" that seems to have successfully wrecked Woody Allen's movie career. Flagrantly slanted documentaries like Allen v. Farrow -- https://www.worldofreel.com/blog/2021/2 ... q35lf3cgkw -- are able to create a reality/"reality" in which facts/"facts" are able to be assembled to sustain one point of view.

But the tricky thing here is that, facts or not, many assume that Allen is capable of rationalizing even the sexual abuse of his own daughter. That, in being a moral nihilist himself, his own psychological defense mechanisms are never all that far removed from the behaviors of a sociopath. He wants something, he goes after it. As with Judah and Dolores, nothing is not okay if it sustains his own perceived self interests. In other words, scrap all that "philosophical" crap some seem to obsess on.

The film ends with a flashback voiceover by Professor Levy, the subject of Lester’s documentary (who has committed suicide). An existentialist, he explains that we all make decisions throughout our lives, large and small: “Man defines himself by the choices he has made. We are, in fact, the sum total of our choices,” he explains.


All I do here is to note how, in regard to our moral and political value judgments, the choices we make seem to be derived more from the arguments I make in my signature threads than from the arguments any number of moral objectivists here make in rooting the resolution of conflicting goods in God or deontology or ideology or nature. And how those decisions are derived in turn from any number social, political and economic contexts down through the ages.

Then, in acknowledging the existential implications of this, others are either more or less "fractured and fragmented" themselves.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Thu Apr 01, 2021 6:27 pm

Crimes and Misdemeanors
Terri Murray gets to the core of ethics with Socrates and Woody Allen

Choose Well, Choose Life

In extreme situations, such as war, individuals are forced back into the age-old Socratic dilemma: whether it is better to suffer evil or to inflict it.


On the other hand, historically, every war finds itself intertwined in very different contexts/sets of circumstances. Was it better to suffer the evil that many saw embodied in a Nazi victory in World War II, or to inflict what they saw as evil in our own moral and political agenda. When does it become morally okay -- even obligatory -- to inflict pain and suffering on others in a particular war.

Then fast forward to Korea or Vietnam or Afghanistan or Iraq. How do the moral parameters here become, say, more ambiguous?

In Crimes and Misdemeanors, suppose Dolores was shown to pursue behaviors that many feel are immoral. Would it be more appropriate to inflict evil on her in order stop her from inflicting it on others. Could Judah have come to think of himself as the hero instead?

It's all, well, existential...

One’s choices could be narrowed to a terrible dichotomy between collaboration with powerful persecutors or dissent and victimisation by them. A radio interviewer once asked German philosopher Hannah Arendt about exactly this type of situation. Arendt replied that Socrates had maintained that there was no proof that a man must conduct himself one way or the other. Rather, there’s an existential commitment to be made – and the decision one way or the other, says Arendt, is based on how we choose to live with ourselves.


Okay, but how is that not rooted subjectively/subjunctively in the manner in which I construe human identity here as the embodiment of dasein?

For Socrates, this meant not acting against his own conscience or what could be construed as his ‘better nature’. At the core of this existentialist vision is a realistic admission that the universe does not offer us an over-arching moral order, nor does it protect us. Nevertheless, we are charged with the responsibility, and the opportunity, to fashion lives for ourselves that are worthy of the freedom we uniquely possess.


No, in view, for Socrates, Plato [and the author], meaning here becomes more "formal". It is linked to conclusions about the self and morality that, in my view, are more intellectual contraptions...philosophical assessments that allow them to avoid the more "down to earth" arguments I make here in my signature threads.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Mon Apr 12, 2021 5:11 pm

The Ethics of Ambiguity
Charlotte Moore freely subjects de Beauvoir’s ethics to a discerning scrutiny.

In her 1947 book The Ethics of Ambiguity, Simone de Beauvoir outlines an existentialist ethics. She was inspired by Jean-Paul Sartre ’s promise to do so at the end of Being and Nothingness (1943); a project for which he wrote many notes but which he never completed. The Ethics of Ambiguity is one of de Beauvoir’s most intriguing and original philosophical works. But is the theory it contains defensible? And does it give us practical guidance for how to live our lives?


More to the point [mine] the parts that some do find defensible theoretically...what then becomes of that defense when "for all practical purposes" they find themselves in a situation where their own assessments of ethical behavior are challenged by others?

In The Bonds of Freedom, a careful analysis of de Beauvoir’s ethics, Kristana Arp asks whether de Beauvoir’s ethics of ambiguity is actually a form of ethical subjectivism.


To which I point out that, given the many, many, many very different experiences any particular individuals might have over time historically and across the globe culturally, how could value judgments not be profoundly subjective intellectually and profoundly subjunctive emotionally? And if subjective and subjunctive how do we reach the point where as philosophers/ethicists our arguments become less and less ambiguous.

My condition here is only that the theoretical conclusions be taken down out of the intellectual contraption clouds and be explored, well, existentially.

Arp examines a set of possible existentialist ethical perspectives, particularly those that deal with freedom and values, to try to tell whether or not they can be undermined by this charge. Although Arp sees great value in de Beauvoir ’s ideas on ethics, she says the answer remains somewhat unclear. However, I would like to argue that de Beauvoir’s ethics of ambiguity is definitely not a form of ethical subjectivism. To this end, I’ll begin by outlining the ethics of ambiguity; then I’ll define ethical subjectivism, describe Arp’s position, and finally explain why I don’t think de Beauvoir’s ethics fall to this charge of subjectivism.


Okay, but how would this distinction be made in regard to moral values that come into conflict? From my vantage point the ambiguity here is derived from the fact that based on sets of experiences that can be radically different each individual subject is going to come away with different moral and political predispositions.

On the other hand, moral and political values that are not construed ambiguously/subjectively are anchored to religious or secular fonts that are said to encompass the only rational frame of mind.

Let's call this ethical objectivism.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Wed Apr 21, 2021 5:03 pm

The Ethics of Ambiguity
Charlotte Moore freely subjects de Beauvoir’s ethics to a discerning scrutiny.

Ambiguity and Ethics

The Ethics of Ambiguity begins with the central existentialist premise that ‘existence precedes essence’. Basically, this means that we humans create our own essence or nature through our choices and actions.


Okay, but how far removed is essence and nature from objective? It still comes down to the extent to which whatever you call your ethical values is construed by you as that which all rational and virtuous men and women are thought by you to be obligated to share if they wish to be thought of by you as both rational and virtuous.

And then the part where the creation of an ethics, however it is thought be by one as an individual, is still rooted more or less in one's historical, cultural and circumstantial interactions. And in the ever evolving interaction of contingency, chance and change.

When de Beauvoir discusses human essence, she refers not only to this general notion, but also to Heidegger’s assertion in Being and Time that our creation of ourselves in the present is based both on our past actions and on the choices that we make while projecting ourselves into the future.


Meaning, from my frame of mind, that there really is no essence involved here. After all, we all don't become who we are in the present based on the same past or projecting into the same future. Instead, one by one by one, our values are likely to be profoundly existential fabrications instead.

The aspect of de Beauvoir’s ethics dealing with choice stems from Sartre’s distinction in Being and Nothingness between the ‘in-itself’ and the ‘for-itself’ – but with de Beauvoir’s own twist. The in-itself is the category of material things, such as rocks and tables, which have an inherent, pre-determined essence (Being and Nothingness. The for-itself is the category of beings (or ‘existents’) with consciousness, who are inherently without a pre-determined essence, continually recreating themselves through their choices and actions.


Here, of course, I make the distinction between aspects of our self derived from our genes, out biological predisposition, our demographic profile in which any number of factors related to our identity are the human equivalent of rocks and tables. They reflect objective facts about ourselves which are far more easily communicated to others as "things" about us. And then the "self" that comes to embody particular value judgments rooted far more subjectively/subjunctively in dasein.

De Beauvoir agrees with Sartre that both these aspects are found in humans. Unlike Sartre though, de Beauvoir believes that tensions between the two aspects contribute to the ambiguity of human existence. She uses this idea in her ethics in terms of what William Schroeder has called a “felt ambiguity between antecedent limits (facticity) and future possibilities (transcendence).” In other words, for de Beauvoir there is an ambiguity between an individual’s past as a given thing determining the nature of the present, and the future they’re about to freely create. Given that the future effects of our present choices cannot yet be known, we feel the ethical weight of each decision we make. But this is only one aspect of the ambiguity de Beauvoir suggests people face.


Again, there is what all of this is said to mean technically given the tools at the disposal of "serious philosophers", and how ambiguity here is understood by me given the arguments I make in my signature threads.

That's the part I wish to explore here. Given a particular context.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Sat May 01, 2021 6:37 pm

The Ethics of Ambiguity
Charlotte Moore freely subjects de Beauvoir’s ethics to a discerning scrutiny.

Humans also experience ambiguity regarding our dual nature, which de Beauvoir sees as composed of both matter and thought (or body and consciousness). For de Beauvoir, human consciousness is dependent upon the bodily or material aspects of our being, but not identical with it.


Here of course the assumption must be made that, for reasons we still are unable to grasp, the mind is able to "transcend" the body and discuss this distinction with some measure of free will, autonomy, volition...or whatever word is preferred in circumventing hard determinism. If the relationship between nature and nurture, genes and memes is entirely embedded in the laws of matter then, well, your guess is as good as mine.

So, here...

The body is yet another inescapable aspect of human facticity; or as Arp puts it, “Rooted as they are in the earth, humans can transcend their material origin in thought, but they can never escape it.” Our ability to transcend our physical limitations through thought is what gives rise to both freedom and moral obligation.


...we are back to all agreeing that the author is not noting only that which she was ever able to note and we are not reacting to it in the only possible manner in which nature compels us to.

I merely reconfigure this point in the general direction of the arguments I make in my signature threads. The nature of our being rooted "out in the world" given the components of my own intellectual contraption given descriptions, assessments and judgments passed regarding our existential freedom and moral obligations.

However, like many other feminist thinkers, de Beauvoir sees as problematic the tendency embedded in the Western philosophical tradition to prioritize one side of an apparent dualism, such as spirit over matter, or self over other, or the individual over the collective. De Beauvoir says that the tendency to perceive duality is as “primordial as consciousness itself.” Yet part of the ambiguity of human existence is that we possess a combination of these polarities, including a reciprocity between self and other. And when our ambiguities are examined, it becomes apparent that although human perception seeks dualisms, no prioritization of any one over the other need be established.


Again, how bogged down are we going to become in language such as this in discussing our own moral and political value judgments? It's less a question of priorities in my view than in recognizing that sooner or latter our theoretical or technical conclusions are going to have to take on the mind and the matter, the self and the other, the individual and the society in regard to experiences and interactions that necessary intertwine the id and the ego and the superego. What of them then?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Mon May 10, 2021 5:07 pm

The Ethics of Ambiguity
Charlotte Moore freely subjects de Beauvoir’s ethics to a discerning scrutiny.

The urge to oppress others is at least in part a result of treating the ‘other’ as though he or she is only a material thing, rather than a free and thinking human being. De Beauvoir argues in The Second Sex that women have historically been made the ‘other’. In The Ethics of Ambiguity, she emphasizes that we must recognize the dual nature of the human condition not only in ourselves, but also in those we perceive as other. This idea provides the vantage for de Beauvoir’s views on freedom as the basis of moral obligation.


On the other hand, it's only oppression if that's what others are able to talk you into believing that it is. After all, for Sartre, "hell is other people" not only because the objectify you but because they think themselves into believing that they can tell you the one and the only way in which to embody moral and political value judgments. My point is merely to suggest that any number of existentialists fail to grasp the extent to which they are more than capable of objectifying themselves. By, for example, making a "philosophical" distinction between authentic and inauthentic behavior.

And not just in regard to gender roles. Only, for someone like me, the further I get away from authenticity the closer I get to fractured and fragmented. And eventually I reached the conclusion that it is almost impossible to say which is worse.

These views are consistent with general existentialist takes on freedom and responsibility. Sartre makes the famous statement in Being and Nothingness that people are “condemned to be free.” He is talking about an aspect of the human condition. We are thrown into this world and can’t avoid being confronted by choices. Should we act this way or that? Even the decision not to act at all is still a choice.

We can try to fool ourselves that this freedom isn’t there (this is what Sartre calls ‘bad faith’), but we can’t get rid of it, and the realization of just how free we really are is often accompanied by anguish. Being free, we each create our meaning through our choices and subsequent actions.


Again, "condemned" only to the extent that we are able to think ourselves into believing that we understand what he means by this. And, if we do think that we do, agree that it's true. The part about being born to make choices is certainly the case. Not many exceptions there. But the part about choosing ethically and/or authentically seems rooted more in the assumptions that I make. As the "fractured and fragmented "I".

On the other hand, is this just another example of "bad faith"?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Thu May 20, 2021 6:20 pm

The Ethics of Ambiguity
Charlotte Moore freely subjects de Beauvoir’s ethics to a discerning scrutiny.

De Beauvoir draws upon this principle of freedom as a foundational premise for her ethical theory. As Arp agrees, “De Beauvoir’s thesis is that human freedom is the source of moral obligation. Because we are free … we should completely realize our freedom by accepting its burdens rather than running from them ”.


Here, however, I always go back to the existential parameters of freedom in a No God world. If you think yourself into believing that sans God freedom becomes the embodiment of "in the absense of God all things are permitted", then you can choose to behave as, say, the sociopath does. And, more to point, justify that frame of mind...philosophically? If there is no omniscient/omnipresent entity able to grasp everything that you do and, in being omnipotent, able to punish you for doing objectively wrong -- sinful -- things, then why not choose a morality that revolves around "what's in it for me"?

You can still choose to fit into a community based on the accepted mores of that community...if it is to your advantage. But then choose not to if it is not to your advantage. You merely shift gears so as to focus more on not getting caught.

However, de Beauvoir’s stance on this issue of freedom and moral obligation differs from Sartre’s, in that for de Beauvoir, realizing one’s own freedom does not negate others’ ability to do the same; in fact the freedom of others is required for our own freedom to be preserved.


Again, back to this: In what particular context? We would have focus in on this clash between assessments of freedom and moral obligation, given a set of circumstances in which moral and political value judgments come into conflict. How would someone who embraces de Beauvoir's reaction differ from someone who embraced Sartre's?

De Beauvoir sensed a contradiction in Sartre’s thinking. A summary of her argument might read: Humans are inherently free; to be moral is to will oneself free; but not every human acts morally: so is it not a contradiction to suggest that all humans are free? De Beauvoir resolved this contradiction by drawing a distinction between two kinds of freedom: ontological freedom and moral freedom, such that though we are always ontologically free, we aren’t always morally free. It is moral freedom which forms the basis for de Beauvoir’s ethics of ambiguity.


Inherently free, perhaps. But only given the assumption that the exercise of this freedom is always going to be situated within the parameters of the particular worlds experienced existentially in particular historical and cultural contexts. Isn't it the fact of this that precipitates philosophical discussions that revolve around ethics either construed or not construed to be within the rational and virtuous parameters of deontology?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Sat May 29, 2021 6:04 pm

The Ethics of Ambiguity
Charlotte Moore freely subjects de Beauvoir’s ethics to a discerning scrutiny.

Moral freedom is a response to one’s condition of ontological freedom. De Beauvoir writes, “to will oneself moral and to will oneself free are one and the same decision”


You know, in a universe that has unfolded over billions of years resulting in, among other things, the evolution of biological life on planet Earth culminating [thus far] in a species -- us -- that may or may not have the capacity to intertwine these important components of the "human condition" of our own volition.

And, given free will, moral freedom can be explored in any number of particular, existential contexts. But ontological freedom? What on Earth is that? Has anyone even come close to pinning it down other than in a world of words?

In an effort to clarify de Beauvoir’s statement, Kristana Arp writes that “although one cannot will oneself not to be free, because freedom is an ontological structure of human existence, one can fail to choose to will oneself free.” I understand this to mean that we gain access to moral freedom by actively engaging with the process of transcending our facticity and projecting ourselves into future possibilities, or put simply, by accepting responsibility for our choices.


As I understand this, the ontological component then revolves around the assumption that we do have free will. We cannot not choose a point of view regarding moral conflicts because even if we choose not to "get involved" that in and of itself is a choice.

Something along the lines of the Objectivist band Rush:

"You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that's clear, I will choose Freewill"

So why does de Beauvoir assert that “to will oneself free is also to will others free”? Arp attempts to sort out the meaning of this phrase by referring back to de Beauvoir’s statements that both meaning and the world itself are ‘disclosed’ through ‘conscious freely acting agents’ – in other words, values are revealed through human beings.


Through human interactions. Such that, as Sartre noted, "hell is other people". Why? Because they do refuse to accept our own moral freedom...and, instead, objectify us. Everything comes back around to their own moral and political prejudices seen instead as the objective truth "in their head". I merely suggest that to the extent we become like them and insist others are obligated to share our own values, we objectify ourselves as well.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby Sculptor » Sat May 29, 2021 7:27 pm

iambiguous wrote:I believe what many would construe to be two seemingly conflicting [even contradictory] things:

1] that aborting a human fetus is the killing of an innocent human being
2] that women should be afforded full legal rights to choose abortion

1 is false.
2 is obvious, within guidlines respecting timely terminations that minimised stress to the woman and pain to the unborn.

As a result, the first thing many point out is that, regarding this issue, I am insisting women should be permitted legally to kill innocent human beings. And that doing so is in this particular context not immoral.
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