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Happiness and Blessedness as ethical values
Posted: 07 February 2007 04:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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[quote author=“Parable”]woofy,

[
The assumption implied by the Golden Rule is that we know how to love ourselves. Yet this is not always true.  This is why it is important to interpret the Golden Rule in the context it was presented by Jesus, i.e. Matthew 22. 

The golden rule is the second part of Jesus’ answer to the question “...which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  He said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind….and the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

According to the generally accepted Christian perspective, the logic is: by loving God, we open ourselves to experiencing his love for us, which is the standard by which love is defined because God is love (1 John 4:8 ).  Without the example of his love for us, we are hard pressed to know what love is, for ourselves and for others.  Even if we do know intellectually, we struggle with living out that understanding on our own strength, and again the Christian experience is that we can only do it through the power of God living in us.  That’s the doctrine. 

If the God of the Christian scriptures is the standard by which love is defined, then I, for one, am very hard pressed to know what love is.  The way God shows his love in the scriptures is horrifying to me—for example, showing his love for the Israelites by sending the plagues to Egypt; showing his love for mankind by delivering his son to be murdered.  A very twisted love.  Not one that I want to emulate. 

In Sam’s example of living ethically, i.e. acting in a way that is consistent with the happiness of others, is there a non-theistic analogy for the source of strength or wisdom that we mere mortals can call upon to so live? 

The non-theistic source of strength and wisdom that I use to get through the day is my own conscience, and consultation with my fellow human beings. 


Assuming that we accept the significance of love and compassion as ethical motivators, the more important question is why they seem so important to the betterment of the human condition.

I think love and compassion are important for the betterment of the human condition because they move us to help eachother.  Sometimes, we can give help, other times we can receive it.  Is this too obvious?  Am I misunderstanding your question?
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Posted: 07 February 2007 04:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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The Agnostic Gnostic,

Keep in mind that almost all of self-consciousness and culture (including religion and politics) is arrayed against those feelings of love.

Culture is just a reflection of individuals, and an individual reflects the content of the heart.  The Christian perspective on the heart of man is that it is desperately wicked and in order to be free from this, it must die to self.  This is not unlike other traditions in which the centrality of self is eschewed as illusion, etc. 

This view of self as the source of deception, illusion or wickedness interests me. 

What is it about the self that seems to be so problematic?

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Posted: 07 February 2007 04:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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[quote author=“Parable”]
What is it about the self that seems to be so problematic?

It promotes its own advantage, which is impossible to reconcile with the feelings of “connection” or “unity” that we consider spiritual/mystical.  Balancing an awareness of “self,” which is also a linguistic/cultural construct, with the innate feelings of connection that upon reflection seemed to take us outside of social reality and our “self” identity, is what every mythology is about.  It’s what art and poetry are all about as well.  Concretizing the poetry of mythology into the dogmas and theologies of religion, however, serves the purpose of controlling those feelings by rooting them to a cultural identity - limiting the expansion of recognition of “self” in “other” so that one will submit to the selfish ends of particular cultural institutions and their group identities.

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Posted: 07 February 2007 06:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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[quote author=“Parable”]The reason “love and compassion are good, in that they connect us more deeply to others” is because love and compassion are indeed deeper than “mere happiness”, in that our most profound connections to others are formed not through shared moments of happiness, but rather through shared trials and suffering.  This is because happy times require little in the way of love and compassion, whereas trials and suffering are the context in which love and compassion have meaning.

If that were true, then if one day we manage to abolish suffering, those who want to be able to continue to feel love and compassion would have to find some way to bring suffering back into the world. I would think that was a very cruel thing to do, not an expression of love and compassion.

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Posted: 07 February 2007 08:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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SaulOhio,

If that were true, then if one day we manage to abolish suffering, those who want to be able to continue to feel love and compassion would have to find some way to bring suffering back into the world. I would think that was a very cruel thing to do, not an expression of love and compassion.

Agreed.  But even if suffering were abolished, we would still have to deal with death, so there would still be a need for love and compassion.  If even death could be overcome, then perhaps there would no longer be a need for love and compassion, and that would be paradise, no?  (Of course, in Christian theology, the significance of Jesus’ resurrection is his victory over death.) 

At that point, we could get on with the business of living abundantly, without all the distractions that come from living in this painful world.  So much of our energy is spent overcoming adversity, I wonder what we as a specie could do if we lived morally, ethically, righteously, etc, essentially free to do as we wish.

Parable  

P.S. I was born in Ohio and lived in Salem, Gambier and Elyria!

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Posted: 07 February 2007 08:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]  
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Yeah—maybe in this brave new world which is free of pain and suffering, we can focus on the fun stuff, like learning how to walk through walls, and on water, and talking to the animals.  And learn the names and positions of all the stars in the sky.  And perceiving the vibrations of electrons and stuff.  That would be pretty awesome.  I don’t see if happening any time soon… but hey… maybe someday.  It could happen.

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Posted: 07 February 2007 09:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]  
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[quote author=“woofy”]Yeah—maybe in this brave new world which is free of pain and suffering, we can focus on the fun stuff, like learning how to walk through walls, and on water, and talking to the animals.  And learn the names and positions of all the stars in the sky.  And perceiving the vibrations of electrons and stuff.  That would be pretty awesome.  I don’t see if happening any time soon… but hey… maybe someday.  It could happen.

Notice that I was speaking hypothetically. I don’t believe it is possible to completely abolish suffering, though I think we CAN make a huge dent in it. The point is that this altruist concept of love and compassion can make some people actually eager to see others suffer, so that they might feel love.

I see love as a response to positive values in another person. I like seeing another person healthy, happy, successful. Compassion doesn’t mean feeling only another person’s pain. The literal meaning of the word is “to feel with”, so it could also mean feeling another person’s happiness. We don’t need suffering in order to feel a spiritual connection with other people. At least I don’t. I prefer to deal practically with the problems that cause suffering and premature death, and save my emotions for the good things in life.

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Posted: 07 February 2007 10:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]  
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SaulOhio,

...this altruist concept of love and compassion can make some people actually eager to see others suffer, so that they might feel love….I see love as a response to positive values in another person.

The first case clearly does not qualify as love, and the second is not unconditional, which is part of the meaning of love, at least in Christian theology. 

What you describe as a “response to positive values in another person” seem more like affection, admiration or respect.  If that is the model, then what is the response when a person has little positive to offer, or worse, when they are utterly despicable?

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Posted: 07 February 2007 10:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]  
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Parable—Do you accept Christian scriptural depictions of love—blood sacrifice and all?  Do you think the concept of love described in the Christian scriptures is the best that can or ever will be?

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Posted: 07 February 2007 11:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]  
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[quote author=“Parable”]If that is the model, then what is the response when a person has little positive to offer, or worse, when they are utterly despicable?

You just answered the question in asking it. If someone is despicable, then they are despicable.

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Posted: 07 February 2007 11:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]  
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[quote author=“SaulOhio”][quote author=“Parable”]If that is the model, then what is the response when a person has little positive to offer, or worse, when they are utterly despicable?

You just answered the question in asking it. If someone is despicable, then they are despicable.

Even if they are seen as despicable due to an immeasurable IQ?

I don’t expect you to answer this, based on your unwillingness to debate with me according to my offer last night.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
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Posted: 07 February 2007 04:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]  
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woofy,

Parable—Do you accept Christian scriptural depictions of love—blood sacrifice and all? Do you think the concept of love described in the Christian scriptures is the best that can or ever will be?

The OT rite of blood sacrifice is about legalism, not love.  Yet, the Christian view of love does involve this aspect of the jewish law, in that Jesus on the cross is understood by Christians to be the epitome of love on his part, especially in light of the fact Jesus’ trial and execution were conducted in a highly irregular if not illegal manner.  In the case of Jesus on the cross, he willingly fullfilled the requirements of the law on behalf of mankind by offering himself as an atoning sacrifice.  It is this act which defines for the Christian the best example of love, for according to the doctrine, Jesus was absolutely innocent of any crime or sin and there was no justification for his execution whatsoever.

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Posted: 07 February 2007 04:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]  
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SaulOhio,

Parable wrote: If that is the model, then what is the response when a person has little positive to offer, or worse, when they are utterly despicable?

You just answered the question in asking it. If someone is despicable, then they are despicable.

If someone is despicable, then in your model of love, they are unlovable.  In the Christian view of love, they are just as worthy of love as any other, for their worth in this respect is not derived from their attributes, but rather from the fact God loves them, despite their attributes.

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Posted: 08 February 2007 09:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]  
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[quote author=“Parable”]SaulOhio,

Parable wrote: If that is the model, then what is the response when a person has little positive to offer, or worse, when they are utterly despicable?

You just answered the question in asking it. If someone is despicable, then they are despicable.

If someone is despicable, then in your model of love, they are unlovable.  In the Christian view of love, they are just as worthy of love as any other, for their worth in this respect is not derived from their attributes, but rather from the fact God loves them, despite their attributes.

So what does love mean, in that case?
What is True Love? by Gary Hull   (February 8, 2007)

Love, we are repeatedly taught, consists of self-sacrifice. Love based on self-interest, we are admonished, is cheap and sordid. True love, we are told, is altruistic. But is it?

Imagine a Valentine’s Day card which takes this premise seriously. Imagine receiving a card with the following message: “I get no pleasure from your existence. I obtain no personal enjoyment from the way you look, dress, move, act or think. Our relationship profits me not. You satisfy no sexual, emotional or intellectual needs of mine. You’re a charity case, and I’m with you only out of pity. Love, XXX.”
...
It is the view that you ought to be given love unconditionally—the view that you do not deserve it any more than some random bum, the view that it is not a response to anything particular in you, the view that it is causeless—which exemplifies the most ignoble conception of this sublime experience.

The nature of love places certain demands on those who wish to enjoy it. You must regard yourself as worthy of being loved. Those who expect to be loved, not because they offer some positive value, but because they don’t—i.e., those who demand love as altruistic duty—are parasites. Someone who says “Love me just because I need it” seeks an unearned spiritual value—in the same way that a thief seeks unearned wealth. To quote a famous line from The Fountainhead: “To say ‘I love you,’ one must know first how to say the ‘I.’”

So if love is not a response to the good in another person, what is it? What do you mean when you say God loves us all equally? What does that mean God does?

Oh, and BTW, I forgot to ask the most important question in any issue: How do you know? How do you know God loves us?

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Posted: 08 February 2007 09:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]  
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[quote author=“SaulOhio”]The nature of love places certain demands on those who wish to enjoy it. You must regard yourself as worthy of being loved. Those who expect to be loved, not because they offer some positive value, but because they don’t—i.e., those who demand love as altruistic duty—are parasites. Someone who says “Love me just because I need it” seeks an unearned spiritual value—in the same way that a thief seeks unearned wealth. To quote a famous line from The Fountainhead: “To say ‘I love you,’ one must know first how to say the ‘I.’”

So if love is not a response to the good in another person, what is it? What do you mean when you say God loves us all equally? What does that mean God does?

All, I can say, Saul, is that you, like your mentor, have taken the already-tarnished and dented icon of love and battered it beyond all recognition, until it looks like the discarded core of a spent lead-acid battery.

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