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Offline Augusto

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Re: still here. still working it through.
« Reply #180 on: October 10, 2016, 11:59:03 PM »
augusto, many people violate thr moral principles of others.

This is acceptable, as long as it is in our own benefict. You must understand benefict here as an emotional reward, a reinforcement in our self-steem.

people in my country used to assist escaped slave in their flight, against the morals of their community.

people did the same in wartime with european jews.

Here is the thing, Kevin. Our morality is something that we adquire when we are very young. It is very maleable, tho, but it becomes part of who we are. In this sense, morality is mainly driven by the standarts of our society.

The cases you offer, tho, are against social rules. Sure, but take into consideration that those people had the chance to do something amazing for other human beings, thus becoming heroes. Here you can also see how empathy (the ability to identify oneself with others) plays a role. It is no different from people fighting against animal abuse. They empathize with their misery and decide they can be "more noble" than the rest (thus better human beings) by arguying or working in favor of animals. Doing something for fellow human beings is even a greater opportunity.

Now, you should also take into consideration how those "heroes" were a very insignificant minority when compared with the rest of the population. This shows just how important is social conditioning to morality, when compared to empathy. In any case, the majority is adapted to their enviroment, so they feel "socially competent" and can benefict from it, while the minority feel "visionary", "heroic" or "enlightened", which is good enough reason to go against the rest of the population, not only behind doors, but even openly, as long as they keep perceiving a positive balance in the equation.

conscientios objectors to war are often punished.

where did their morals come from?

I'm not really sure I understand this part, but let me give it a try: they usually avoid going to war, or at least they try to, while at the same time they feel they're not part of the herd. They're special (not cowards), they're free, and they want to remain alive. This is a great reason to be against war, but there are several other posible reasons, depending on each case.

Offline QuestionMark

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Re: still here. still working it through.
« Reply #181 on: October 11, 2016, 01:25:44 AM »
Kevin, you have kind of an unorthodox theology, so don't let me put words in your mouth, but wouldn't you say that many of the actions of god (particularly in the OT), would be considered immoral by modern standards?  Noah's arc, several genocides, Job etc are all pretty questionable actions from a deity that most people call "Omni benevolent, and or all loving". Again, I don't want to put words in your mouth- but is t that excusing god from morality?
The problem is bigger than that, the central acts of the Bible are the painful death of Jesus and his resurrection. All of the other events like the flood, the exodus, the babylonian captivity, the slavery of Joseph etc etc etc are just reflections of the same story.

God permits subjection to futility in order to demonstrate his glory in salvation. The name Jesus says it all, The LORD salvation. Something cannot be saved unless it was first permitted to be vulnerable and fail.
καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει

Offline Garja

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Re: still here. still working it through.
« Reply #182 on: October 11, 2016, 03:10:39 AM »
^see, that's the s**t I'm talking about.
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Offline Kiahanie

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Re: still here. still working it through.
« Reply #183 on: October 11, 2016, 06:29:24 PM »
To answer your question directly: yes: there are moral values that nearly all people share, and there are many values that are nearly universal in specific communities (large and small) that are not broadly shared by humans in general.

There are moral values nearly all people share in common, the preservation of one's life being maybe at the top of the list. The welfare of one's family is another. The belief that "what's mine is mine and keep your hands off it" is another. Many values are not quite so universal, but may be broadly shared generally or in local cultures.
kiahanie, you appear to base your moral system on what is evolutionarily adaptive, given the application of inclusive fitness. does this mean that you believe morals are phenotypes that have evolved to favor survival of related groups?

No. That is possibly one input into the formation of morals, but social/cultural conditioning is another possibly dominant input. Other elements also help construct a ready-made package of morals, but there is also the personal aspect of choosing one's moral standards, a process involving reflection, discernment, decision.

I'm not sure about my having a "moral system." I do have a "moral practice" and that is what I am describing.

Quote from: kevin
Quote from: Kiahanie
It is these shared values and their varied valuation that allow us to negotiate the expression of all values in a society. We do not (hopefully) negotiate the moral standards themselves, but rather the ways they can be behaviorally  expressed. (With the consent and agreement of the faithful, we limit the freedom to stop one's car on the freeway and kneel east for midday prayers.) Ethics (the application of fundamental principles to conduct) may be negotiable, morals ought not be.
why should morals not be as subject to modification as ethics? if they are based on adaptive fitness, then they should be re-negotiated at each change in the environment that might modify their selective value.

added:

morality based on the selection pressure of evolution is as close to a perfect example  of situational ethics as i can imagine.

I think I exempted myself from having to respond to the "adaptive fitness" comment.

The "ought" above references the oughts from my own standards.

I believe morals to be the principles and values by which we live our lives and determine what actions are appropriate. I see ethics to be a list of actions and/or practices maximally consistent with the moral basis. For those reasons I do not accept "situational morality" but I do accept "situational ethics" as an appropriate mode of mediating between conflicting moral claims.

"Ethics," the implementation code of a moral system, can be negotiable in its details to provide maximum Moral Freedom (whatever that may be) within the constraints of variable moralities. Two examples of these negotiations are the anti-abortion/pro-choice arena and the death penalty debate, all sides of which claim reverence for life but express it in radically different ways.
If there were a little more silence, if we all kept quiet … maybe we could understand something. --Federico Fellini

Offline QuestionMark

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Re: still here. still working it through.
« Reply #184 on: November 07, 2016, 06:40:42 AM »
what's happening, kevin?

Interesting. What makes one believe in a divine presence at one point and then later, it seems to be gone? Was it ever really there? What made you think it was there? Why is it no longer there?

the leadings and connections which were once present no longer occur. in the past, they were common enough that i was forced to accept a supernatural source. since they don't occur now, they were either mistaken interpretations, or god has withdrawn, which are functionally equivalent, really.

Quote
As to an explanation of right and wrong, to me, i don't think there needs to be any. It is what it is. There is no real explanation, because I believe that we as humans define what is right and wrong according to where we are in life and who we are as a person.

if that is the case, then our standards here should not be applicable to the lives of someone else, elsewhere. yet we routinely condemn torture, human trafficking, and war crimes among people who do not share our belief that they are wrong. and we impose our beliefs on them. are we wrong to do that?

Quote
I'm glad you still have a community that can accept you in your time of soul searching. I wish that it was the same for me. My dad recently passed away (8/22), and it would have been easy to go back to a religious way of life to cope and answer the questions I had. Instead, I realized that we all die and that one day I will be the one that passes on as my family watches and mourns. It's what we know. It's what we do.

I wish I could be the gloating anti-theist who said "I told you so" but I'm not. I know what it means to lose something that had been a part of me for decades. Real, imagined, or just cleverly hidden, it does not matter. It's still a hole that either has to be filled or overcome.

I can't pray for you, but I can wish you well. I hope that is enough.

i'm sorry to hear of your father. my parents have been dead some years now, so i'm the leading edge of the wave now. thank you for your kind words, kevin. seriously.

but as an agnostic, i haven't lost anything, really. non-theism is as old a thread in quakerism as quakerism itself, and people come and go across the boundary.

in my own case, it is my fundamental quakerism that holds the nature of god accountable to the characteristics he is said to possess. if he is alive, he should be aware. if he is concerned, he should be responsive. if he is neither, then he is non-existent or of a different nature than commonly supposed.

so its a continuation of the same principles. and i was an atheist for the first half of my life, anyway, so it's a familiar niche.
I might have to get out of bed to plug this up now that I've found the source of this nonsense.
καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει

Offline QuestionMark

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Re: still here. still working it through.
« Reply #185 on: November 07, 2016, 07:29:51 AM »
Ok, a keyboard is before me. None of this touch-screen piddly. For the last little while I've been thinking about how you're finally realizing that you are lost in the dark and not guided by light as you have bragged and boasted all these years. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.

I am thankful that you recognize that Quakerism is a philosophy so that the Word of God is shown aright that your faith was not in a person but in wise arguments, as philosophy is the love of wisdom. My speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

And it is not the love of the wisdom of God, but the love of worldly wisdom: understanding and perception.
Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony.

With Quaker philosophy, a man can live with no faith in God, because faith requires trusting another person rather than one's own wisdom, understanding, and perception. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

With worldly wisdom, worldly things are brought to light, and that is how a Quaker can completely avoid the light of Christ: For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.

All these years you have judged your brothers. Judge not, that you be not judged.

According to the light of your own wisdom rather than the word of God, and now it has left you in darkness.
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools,

It pleases me to tell you, that we are not left to our own devices to discover the truth. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away.

The Father saves his children from their hopeless estate. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

The race of men is precious in the sight of the Creator because they are his image-bearers. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

They are his flock. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts,


He loves them as a perfect husband loves his bride. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

What kind of sheep doesn't know the shepherd's voice? What kind of child doesn't know his father? What kind of bride doesn't recognize her husband?
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
I write to you, children, because you know the Father.
Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’"


You did not build your house on the rock. “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

You should have built your life on the words of Jesus. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

You should have meditated on the Scriptures. Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Then you would not have forgotten the LORD. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει

Offline Garja

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Re: still here. still working it through.
« Reply #186 on: November 07, 2016, 01:38:22 PM »
OR. Realize that you are not sheep, there is no Shepard.
“Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, then that of blindfolded fear.”
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Offline kevin

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Re: still here. still working it through.
« Reply #187 on: November 07, 2016, 06:11:36 PM »
adam, in your haste to contradict and correct me, you have forgotten that this is the testimonial board, where disagreements are not appropriate, implied or otherwise.

i haven't done more than skim your posts, and won't address them here. if you would like a conversation about what i believe, i welcome it.

if you just want to misrepresent what i have said for rhetorical purposes of your own, or preach at me in the same vein, please take it somewhere else.
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming 'WOW-What a Ride!'" ---yellow dog racing

Offline Jamestr

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Re: still here. still working it through.
« Reply #188 on: January 09, 2017, 02:52:17 PM »
this presents a problem for me, because i guide my life by morality, by my understanding of right and wrong as one conforming to a divine relationship that pre-existed. without that over-arching moral framework, i no longer have a firm ground to assert the existence of good and evil, right and wrong, truth or falsehood, war or peace. so i'm still working that through.

i have never yet heard a non-theist explanation for right and wrong that made any sense, and i've heard a lot of them.

Kevin, I have never believed in God, never had experience or sense of that divine relationship, so it's hard for me to imagine losing it. It sounds hard. I feel for you.

I have struggled as much as anyone to distinguish right from wrong, and struggled to choose what I think is right when it involved sacrifice, but I have never needed to struggle to grasp the reality of right and wrong itself.

I do see right and wrong, in fact all values, as relative and subjective, not absolute and objective. But relative and subjective does not mean arbitrary or unimportant. It just means it is founded on personal experience (like Quakerism, like your previous faith in God). The reason it is not arbitrary is because we are all in relationship with each other, we all share qualities of being human. And going beyond humanity all of us sentient creatures share qualities of being sentient creatures. We all have experiences, some of which are bring us joy and well-being, and others which bring us pain, fear, suffering and insecurity. It only requires a little bit of a stretch to care not only about my joy and well-being, but the joy and well-being of others. That is a real and experiential foundation for morality, for right and wrong. What's right is what brings more joy, well-being and fullness of life into the world we share; what's wrong is what brings suffering and fear into the world. The ground is not firm but slippery, but it is real.

We cannot escape suffering and fear--such feelings are a fundamental part of the human experience. Nor can we always find ways to act that bring nothing but joy and well-being into the world. Often, maybe always, the best action or inaction we can discern also causes some suffering to someone somewhere. It's a flawed world. But the more seriously we take the challenge, the harder we work for the good, the better our chances of making the world a little better for as many of us as possible.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2017, 03:01:47 PM by Jamestr »

Offline kevin

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Re: still here. still working it through.
« Reply #189 on: January 09, 2017, 11:33:21 PM »
We all have experiences, some of which are bring us joy and well-being, and others which bring us pain, fear, suffering and insecurity. It only requires a little bit of a stretch to care not only about my joy and well-being, but the joy and well-being of others. That is a real and experiential foundation for morality, for right and wrong. What's right is what brings more joy, well-being and fullness of life into the world we share; what's wrong is what brings suffering and fear into the world. The ground is not firm but slippery, but it is real.

dunno, james. there are assumptions involved in most ways of answering the question that are often taken for granted.

i can understand a morality based on a framework of joy and well-being being contrasted with pain, fear, suffering and insecurity. but i don't clearly see the next step, which is to care about those parameters when they concern anybody else. we're very close to defining morality as anything that supports a harmonious social fabric here, and while that works, it doesn't answer the question of why that should matter.

i can make an argument that right and wrong should be defined as whatever benefits or harms me, directly, with no consideration for the immediate welfare of anybody else. that system is very different fromt he one you suggest, but can be argued for just as strongly, i think.

except in a biological manner, but then we're defining right and wrong as whatever tickles our brainstem in one direction or another.

an easy way to narrow the question is to ask about selfishness, since much of what we call moral seems to be associated with self-control-- or societal control-- of selfishness.

is complete selfishness immoral? to act only for my own benefit, with no thought or regard for the benefit of others?why is th ebenefit of others important at all, except to keep them from harming me?

"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming 'WOW-What a Ride!'" ---yellow dog racing

Offline Jamestr

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Re: still here. still working it through.
« Reply #190 on: January 09, 2017, 11:56:04 PM »
dunno, james. there are assumptions involved in most ways of answering the question that are often taken for granted.

i can understand a morality based on a framework of joy and well-being being contrasted with pain, fear, suffering and insecurity. but i don't clearly see the next step, which is to care about those parameters when they concern anybody else. we're very close to defining morality as anything that supports a harmonious social fabric here, and while that works, it doesn't answer the question of why that should matter.

i can make an argument that right and wrong should be defined as whatever benefits or harms me, directly, with no consideration for the immediate welfare of anybody else. that system is very different fromt he one you suggest, but can be argued for just as strongly, i think.

except in a biological manner, but then we're defining right and wrong as whatever tickles our brainstem in one direction or another.

an easy way to narrow the question is to ask about selfishness, since much of what we call moral seems to be associated with self-control-- or societal control-- of selfishness.

is complete selfishness immoral? to act only for my own benefit, with no thought or regard for the benefit of others?why is th ebenefit of others important at all, except to keep them from harming me?

To me it all comes down to the centrality of relationship to being human. The idea that we are just ourselves in isolation is not just selfish, it is flat-out wrong, a profound and dangerous error. Being human means being in relationship with others; the more deeply we enter that reality the more human we are. A world in which everyone, or even most people, seek only to do what is good for them, is a horrible world, barely worth living in. There are times in history and places on earth when that sort of perspective has been exceedingly common, and no sane person would want to live in those times or those places if they had the choice of living in times and places where relationship and community is valued highly. Generosity is simply better--it makes everything better, including my own life. I am happiest when I behave most generously, and saddest when I behave most selfishly. (I don't mean *excluding* my own well-being from consideration; but not *limiting* my consideration to what benefits only me.)

Complete selfishness is not only immoral, it is insane. It doesn't even work for one's own benefit, not in the long run or the large scale. A world of utter selfishness is utter hell.

The impulse to expand beyond pure selfishness is quite natural, though limited. The vast majority of humans feel compelled to be generous, at least at times, to our children, our life partners, to a lessening degree our more distant family members, our neighbors, our tribe, our church, our city, our state, our nation, our species. Higher morality consists in expanding our awareness and our willingness to honor relationships to wider and wider circles. This has largely been the process of becoming civilized. It has a very long way to go but for the most part, with some terrible missteps, that has been the direction humanity has been traveling.

I think I have mentioned before, when I hear the most thoughtful theists talk about God, it sounds very much like the way I feel about relationship. To love God is to become more deeply aware of the importance of relationship to being our best selves. (I wouldn't put those words in anyone else's mouth; it's just a sense I get when some people talk about God.)
« Last Edit: January 10, 2017, 12:01:28 AM by Jamestr »

Offline Kiahanie

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Re: still here. still working it through.
« Reply #191 on: February 09, 2017, 06:53:12 PM »
Hiya, James. Good to see you again. Even better to see you in conversation with Kevin, two of my favorite Online Quakers.
If there were a little more silence, if we all kept quiet … maybe we could understand something. --Federico Fellini

Offline Emma286

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Re: still here. still working it through.
« Reply #192 on: February 16, 2017, 07:11:47 PM »
To me it all comes down to the centrality of relationship to being human. The idea that we are just ourselves in isolation is not just selfish, it is flat-out wrong, a profound and dangerous error. Being human means being in relationship with others; the more deeply we enter that reality the more human we are. A world in which everyone, or even most people, seek only to do what is good for them, is a horrible world, barely worth living in. There are times in history and places on earth when that sort of perspective has been exceedingly common, and no sane person would want to live in those times or those places if they had the choice of living in times and places where relationship and community is valued highly. Generosity is simply better--it makes everything better, including my own life. I am happiest when I behave most generously, and saddest when I behave most selfishly. (I don't mean *excluding* my own well-being from consideration; but not *limiting* my consideration to what benefits only me.)

Complete selfishness is not only immoral, it is insane. It doesn't even work for one's own benefit, not in the long run or the large scale. A world of utter selfishness is utter hell.

I can totally appreciate where you're coming from. And don't get me wrong, being helpful/generous to others is something that makes me feel far better than when I'm not.

But I think it's worth making the point that, when it comes to wanting to be generous, it's important to be somewhat selective/wise about how to approach this. If one is too quick to trust others/be good to them that can make one very vulnerable to being taken advantage of.

Like in New York recently when I was there on a trip. There was one point when, because a couple of guys (in passing) called out to me get my attention (in an apparently nice friendly way and it's my usual nature to feel bad about blanking people/ignoring them when they communicate like that as I see it as rude) I allowed myself to give them the time of day (when others were ignoring them) and fast found myself get sucked into an unwanted conversation with them. They were out to make money by selling CD's via pressure sales tactics. My boyfriend tried to warn me not to engage with them in advance, but we were caught up in such a big rush of people (I think I felt half asleep at the time too which didn't help my judgement ability at the time) I barely took it in and he and I both ended up being sucked into this talk with them and my boyfriend ended up getting the CD's from them (as we reached a stage we didn't know how to get rid of them with no likely harm being done without doing this). My boyfriend was pretty annoyed over the whole thing and I can't say I blame him. I ended up having to get extra cash out at the time to give back to him. Afterwards I felt like such a naive idiot! I should have known better as that kind of thing happens over here (in England) too - but as it hasn't happened to me in such a long time I kind of forgot to be on the look out for it also. *pulls embarrassed face*

I'm not planning on ever making that mistake again! Not for so long as I continue to be of reasonably sound mind anyways.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2017, 07:21:55 PM by Emma286 »
"If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed."

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Offline Jamestr

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Re: still here. still working it through.
« Reply #193 on: February 16, 2017, 07:29:55 PM »
Hiya, James. Good to see you again. Even better to see you in conversation with Kevin, two of my favorite Online Quakers.

Thanks, Kiahanie, good to hear from you, too!

Offline Jamestr

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Re: still here. still working it through.
« Reply #194 on: February 16, 2017, 07:33:52 PM »
But I think it's worth making the point that, when it comes to wanting to be generous, it's important to be somewhat selective/wise about how to approach this. If one is too quick to trust others/be good to them that can make one very vulnerable to being taken advantage of.

Of course. I completely agree. Discretion and self-care are called for. I would say that's covered where I say "I don't mean *excluding* my own well-being from consideration; but not *limiting* my consideration to what benefits only me."

 

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