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Posted: 20 February 2007 10:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]  
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[quote author=“Parable”]Instead of avoiding the question by asking one that is not relevant to your system of ethics, (i.e. my definition is not part of your system) feel free to use your definition of “ethical” to explain how your definition of “authenticity” leads to your standard by which you live.

I referred to authenticity in conjunction with happiness. Other than that, I am typically more concerned with what is than with what should be. Sam Harris has some ideas about how happiness/suffering might be worth looking into in developing standards for ethical conduct; HampsteadPete’s remarks about Confucian reciprocity got me farther into this thread. I have already expressed some opinions about these ideas. I tend to agree with them.

Here’s how you and I got into this tiff:

[quote author=“Parable”]SaltCreek,

Many of us think it should be easy to come up with morality which improves on the dyspeptic ruminations of a bunch of sheepherders and weed eaters barely out of the Stone Age.

What are your suggestions for a viable morality, in a nutshell?

Pete responded to you, and you picked a fight with him.

Why the eff are you bringing in viability, as if somehow you are the judge of what might be “viable”? My remarks are not about “viability” but about improvement, meaning something which “improves” on the Bible’s “dyspeptic ruminations”. You pick your fights in subtle ways, Parasite, but that doesn’t make you any less of a prick, oozing absolutist sanctimony like some case of philosophical blue balls.

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Posted: 20 February 2007 01:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]  
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Salt Creek,

Pete responded to you, and you picked a fight with him.

I responded to his comments by quoting him in the context of his suggested moral code, then asked him how his moral code was “better”, and to cite his reference. 

Why the eff are you bringing in viability, as if somehow you are the judge of what might be “viable”?

Viability is the idea that something that looks good in principle actually works in practice.  In a previous post, you mentioned self-restraint.  I see this as part of a viable system of ethics.  But is viability the only reason to exercise such control, or might there be other reasons to refrain from, for example, venting your spleen at someone?

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Posted: 20 February 2007 02:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]  
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I responded to his comments by quoting him in the context of his suggested moral code, then asked him how his moral code was “better”, and to cite his reference.

Yes, you certainly did, and I have been busy.  This thread has gone long past where I dropped in before, but here is my overdue response:

Let’s first consider your golden rule.  It’s deeply flawed, as can be seen without too much difficulty.  Suppose I’m a barroom brawler who enjoys nothing more then a good fight.  I always obey the golden rule, ‘cause I only do to others what I would have done unto me.  Do you want to talk about masochists? 

I’ve been paraphrasing, now I am going to quote Steve Hagen, an American Zen master:

“It’s not a rule that’s required, but seeing….What’s required is to see the whole.  Through seeing, it’s possible to reformulate the golden rule without creating problems like those described above.  Of course, in this reformulation, it’s no longer a rule – a frozen directive- at all.

It so happens, however, that the way the awakened would put it is one of the formulations Western philosophy has rejected:  “Do not do unto others what you would not have done unto you.”

The reason this formulation has been generally overlooked in Western philosophy is because the positive formulation is thought to be more…well, positive.  While the positive formulation would have us get out there and do something, the negative formulation seems passive.

Yet this habitual response overlooks the fact that the positive formulation always presents us with intractable problems, problems that simply don’t occur with the negative formulation at all.  Why?  What’s the difference?  It has to do with will, motive and intention.  These are all deeply entangled in the positive formulation.  The positive formulation tells you what you should do.  The negative formulation is not prescriptive.

There can be no final moral authority to tell you what to do, for no such authority can lie outside your own will.  In other words, in order for you to be a moral agent, you must have the final authority….”

As Steve says, we can’t have a rule stating what we should do or how we should do it.  When we say we do, we have a narrow, inflexible morality that removes us from the position of being a moral agent.

So, I say again, if your brittle, thousand-year-old moral code is what you think is keeping you from murdering my grandchildren, by all means keep it.  But it isn’t at all.  You know the difference between right and wrong, and you do your best to practice it on a daily basis.  If you awakened some day, and actually observed your actions and motives, you would doubtless find that you are operating with a fluid moral code, based upon your view of the next right thing.

I know this because this is why good men have been good men for the last 2 million years.

Oh, here is one source with an approximate date from Wikipedia:

Surely it is the maxim of loving-kindess: Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you. (Analects 15:23 about 500 BCE)

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Posted: 20 February 2007 04:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]  
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hampsteadpete,

Nice to hear from you. 

Let’s first consider your golden rule. It’s deeply flawed, as can be seen without too much difficulty. Suppose I’m a barroom brawler who enjoys nothing more then a good fight. I always obey the golden rule, ‘cause I only do to others what I would have done unto me. Do you want to talk about masochists?

I was wondering how long it would take before someone mentioned masochism.  The biblical perspective anticipates this objection. 

In its original context, the so-called “Golden Rule” is a paraphrase of the the second greatest commandment, i.e. to love others as you love yourself.  However, this second commandment is viable only in the context of the first and greatest commandment, i.e. to love God with all that you are.  This is because one cannot know how to love oneself, as your masochist example illustrates so well, unless one knows how God loves us, because he is the example for us to emulate.  The interesting part is that by loving him we learn how he loves us.  This makes sense if you consider that loving another is a willingness to put them before yourself.  By loving God, we express a willingness to put him first before ourselves, and it is in this context that we understand what it means for him to do this for us.  This is the framework of understanding that the bible would have us live by.


As for the formulation “do not do unto others as you would not have them do unto you”, consider the inference, “if A then B”. 

The only logical inference that one may draw from this is called the Flip and Negate, i.e. “if not B, then not A”.  (The validity of the flip and negate is widely accepted by logicians.)

In the case of the Golden Rule, it can be formulated as

1) “if you would want A done to you, then you may* do A to another”. 

(*In my usage here, the term “may” means ethically permissible, not merely possible.)

The flip and negate is

2) “if you may not do A to another, then you would not want A done to you”. 

In the case of the negative formulation, it can be stated as

3) “if you don’t want A done to you, then you may not do it to another.” 

The flip and negate is

4) “if you may do it to another other, then you would want it done to you.”

Here’s where this is going…

In ON JESUS, Dr. Goothuis examines the two situations in which Jesus says “if you are not with me, you are against me” (Matthew 12:30) and “if you are not against me, then you are with me” (Mark 9:38-41) Some have argued these statements are inconsistent, but Groothuis argues (p.7) the “two statements are made in different dialogical contexts and serve different purposes”.  That is,  in Matthew 12 Jesus is speaking those outside his ministry working against his purposes and in Mark 9 Jesus is speaking to those inside his ministry about others who are serving his purposes.  In Matthew 12 Jesus is identifying his detractors and in Mark 9 he is identifying his followers.

The point is, since statements 1-4 above are so similar as to be practically indistinguishable, I submit they represent essentially the same truth, but from different perspectives.  I submit that the “Golden Rule” is based in mercy and grace, while the “negative formulation” is based in justice.  Because of that, I submit that Jesus would not disagree with the negative formulation of the Golden Rule, so I propose that we adopt both.

Amen.

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Posted: 20 February 2007 04:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]  
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Well that was a twisting in the wind kind of narrative from Parable, it just shows us the lengths and the nonsense one must endure in order to accept christianity.  I really feel like that last backflip (accepting both) actually hurt my brain!

Hampsteadpete just posted a perfectly lucid account of why the negative version (let’s call this Confucian version The Golden Un-rule) is unquestionably superior to the biblical one accorded to Jesus the positive version of The Golden Rule.

Then in comes Parable to save the day for the one he/she loves - Jesus!  Now we need to take the Jesus version and wedge it into 2 of the 10 commandments and the ultimate foundation now becomes ” to love God with all that you are” (barff!).  So we’ve gone from a purely humanist directive to not cause anyone to suffer (Confucius), Parable has twisted us this way and that, spun us around several times, stood us on our heads, and attempted to cause us brain damage (anyone suffering?), and suddenly, the Golden Rule is just as good as the Golden Un-rule (even though the prime directive is now to love god with all your heart).  How the hell did we get to this?

The post from Parable is proof of one thing, you’d have to be crazy to believe a word of it! Complete christian nonsense!

Bob

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Posted: 20 February 2007 05:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]  
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CanZen,

Come now, it wasn’t all that.  Granted, the symbolic logic requires some concentration to follow, but it certainly wasn’t quantum mechanics.

...the ultimate foundation now becomes ” to love God with all that you are” (barff!).

Actually, in the Christian perspective, the ultimate foundation was revised to be “love each other as I (Jesus) have loved you.”  John 15:12

By the way, my purpose is not to convert you, but merely to describe my understanding of what the bible teaches so the merits of those positions may be considered in the context of what Sam Harris has written.  The accusation that my purpose here is to prosyletize is inaccurate and just so much red herring.

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Posted: 20 February 2007 05:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]  
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[quote author=“Parable”]Viability is the idea that something that looks good in principle actually works in practice.  In a previous post, you mentioned self-restraint.  I see this as part of a viable system of ethics.  But is viability the only reason to exercise such control, or might there be other reasons to refrain from, for example, venting your spleen at someone?

Parable, in a sense I am just serving as a mirror, sacrificed on the altar of looking bad, in order to serve the purpose of reflecting just who it is you really are.

But enough ad hominem for the present. A few words about viability, and then I’m off to dreamland (which I, unlike you, Parable, most emphatically do not confuse with my wakeful state.)

Let me examine for a moment, as the others have done, the viability, or rather, brittleness, of your tired theology’s moral prescription. Let’s start by examining the viability of stoning adulteresses to death.

Nope, let’s not, and say we did. Now let us be touched by The Noodly Appendage and be forgiven for our temporary outbursts and random spleen ventings, as long as we suck long and hard on said noodly appendage as an homage to loving its Owner with all our might. Suck hard, now folks, and suck that moral code into rigid viability. Woo hoo!

[quote author=“Parable”]Actually, in the Christian perspective, the ultimate foundation was revised to be “love each other as I (Jesus) have loved you.”  John 15:12

Even were this formulation not directly sensible as having ourselves nailed to the wall in a cosmic game of follow the leader….

Love, the kind you clean up with a mop and bucket
Like the lost catacombs of Egypt only god knows where we stuck it…

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Posted: 20 February 2007 05:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]  
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Parable wrote:

The accusation that my purpose here is to prosyletize is inaccurate and just so much red herring.

I agree.

. This is because one cannot know how to love oneself, as your masochist example illustrates so well, unless one knows how God loves us, because he is the example for us to emulate. The interesting part is that by loving him we learn how he loves us.


That points out the very thing about Christianity which is most offensive. It states that we are incapable of love. What a horrid condemnation of humanity, that it must be taught to love.

But we don’t learn human love. We learn an emulation of how God might love. Why would we even want such a thing?

I see the fundamental flaw of theism as its condemnation of a perfect circle for not being a perfect square.

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Posted: 20 February 2007 05:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]  
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Honestly Parable, I think you should re-read the hampsteadpete post and the quote.  There actually is a substantive difference between the application of the two versions.  And your post proves that there is a difference, even though you don’t appear to see it.

I understood the symbolic logic - that was a required course in UnderGrad study.  My point was more in the context of “why did you need to take us on that journey?”  Logic works fine but when propositions are applied in the real, practical world, there are differences that result from the actualization that the logic would not catch.

Golden Rule . . . the agent becomes the authority for what is good for everyone, thus the agent becomes the center of the moral universe.  The ‘I’ prescribes what is universally good.

Golden Un-rule . . .  the agent is responsible for deciding what is bad for everyone, thus the agent understands what no one should be required to endure at the hands of another.  There is no prescription for what should be done, people decide by their common consent.

Sorry I didn’t realize that the ultimate foundation had been revised? Perhaps I should’ve just quoted you, (“this second commandment is viable only in the context of the first and greatest commandment, i.e. to love God with all that you are.”) instead of putting that “greatest commandment” thing as the “ultimate foundation” - my fault.  So now, we should love one another as Jesus has loved us . . . well, that doesn’t give us much guidance.  How did he love those people who surrounded him during his apparent life on earth? He even rebuked his own mother at one point.  He gathered a bunch of young lads about himself, encouraged them to leave their homes and their families and travel around the countryside as his public relations persons and staging crew.  Where is the love? How does he love us now?  Where is that love?  He gives us one moral directive, and the damn thing is defective when compared to the Confucian original . . . that’s his love? 

And finally, I never thought for a second that you were trying to convert us?  Where did you get that idea?  It seemed to me that you were indeed trying to show us your understanding of what the bible teaches, and that uncomfortable journey on which you took us showed quite directly that you have kept with the contradictory and convoluted ways of the bible.  I wasn’t surprised at all by your consistency on that score.  So the red herring is a straw-herring (please deposit ‘x’ dollars in Salt Creek’s bank account for me).

Bob

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Posted: 20 February 2007 06:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]  
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[quote author=“CanZen”]And finally, I never thought for a second that you were trying to convert us?  Where did you get that idea?  It seemed to me that you were indeed trying to show us your understanding of what the bible teaches, and that uncomfortable journey on which you took us showed quite directly that you have kept with the contradictory and convoluted ways of the bible.  I wasn’t surprised at all by your consistency on that score.  So the red herring is a straw-herring (please deposit ‘x’ dollars in Salt Creek’s bank account for me).

I am returning this installment of my royalties, just to be on solid legal ground. You never implied or stated “proselytizing”, Bob. Here’s what I wrote:

[quote author=“Salt Creek”]Look, Parasite: It’s plain that you see your presence among us here as living your life in Christ. Not very authentic to begin with. Your further ambition to live other people’s lives in Christ is a superfluous and unwelcome frill. In fact, it’s downright Parasitic.

Yes, one could suggest this carries the imputation that someone here is proselytizing. But no one ever actually used the word until Parable did. Parable can say all he wants that his purpose is to test his moral code against the foibles of the atheists. It seems a bit disingenuous, to say the least, but I suppose we “ought” to take him at his Word.

One more thing. If I have to read one more word from Dr. Doug Groat-Cluster, or whatever TF his name is, I really am gonna barf. :D

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Posted: 21 February 2007 02:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]  
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Salt Creek,

...in order to serve the purpose of reflecting just who it is you really are.

That explains why your posts are so skewed.  The mission of this forum has nothing to do with “reflecting” who anyone really is.  You presumed to do this, your own personal crusade.  Hmmm, I think Sam said something about The Crusades, now what was it….?

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Posted: 21 February 2007 03:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]  
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Joad,

It states that we are incapable of love. What a horrid condemnation of humanity, that it must be taught to love.

I agree completely.  It is horrid because left to ourselves, the depravity of humanity knows no limits. 

Thankfully, we also have unlimited capacity for nobility, righteousness and all things good, but according to the Christian view, we can only realize that by transcending depravity.  Sam describes how he thinks that can be done, while Christianity offers a different approach.

But we don’t learn human love. We learn an emulation of how God might love. Why would we even want such a thing?

“how God might love” is the star Christians steer by.  How to love others is not intuitively obvious, indeed, it often is contrary to one’s interests, making it a difficult thing to do.  But isn’t that usually the case?  That is, doing what is right and doing what is easy are almost never the same. 

I see the fundamental flaw of theism as its condemnation of a perfect circle for not being a perfect square.

Here’s my take on that:

We are loved by God as we are, unconditionally, and this is the example we are to follow with ourselves and others.  In the context of this kind of love, and only this kind of love, people will grow into the people they were created to become.  The idea is we are loved as we are, yet we are not fully what we were created to become.  If we choose not to grow in this direction, we will no doubt grow in another, or not grow at all.  In those cases, we often grow in ways that are not good, or we stagnate, which leads to accumulation of toxins of one sort or another.

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Posted: 21 February 2007 03:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]  
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CanZen,

I think you should re-read the hampsteadpete post and the quote. There actually is a substantive difference between the application of the two versions. And your post proves that there is a difference, even though you don’t appear to see it.

I do see the difference, and that difference combined with Hagen’s interpretation makes all the difference.  He will never be able to admit the “positive formulation” has any real merit, while I readily admit the “negative formulation” serves a meaningful purpose.

The difference may be found in Hagen’s conclusion:

There can be no final moral authority to tell you what to do, for no such authority can lie outside your own will. In other words, in order for you to be a moral agent, you must have the final authority….

I respond “one cannot act with authority unless one is under authority”  while at the same time, I quote the anonymous artist Banksy: “some people exercise authority without having any of their own.”

The ultimate question, then, is “from where do we get our own final authority?”

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Posted: 21 February 2007 04:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]  
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[quote author=“Parable”]The ultimate question, then, is “from where do we get our own final authority?”

Great, you used “ultimate” to describe a question about “final authority”. You’re slick, you are. There isn’t one, unless it’s the imaginary one you’re pressing on us. Maybe you will want to consult with Humpty Dumpty on this one.

[quote author=“Parable”]I quote the anonymous artist Banksy: “some people exercise authority without having any of their own.”

And what makes Banksy such an authority on the subject? :D

You are really hung up on this “authority” sh!t, aren’t you, Parable. Which assists my point about the pent-up absolutist oozings you have been “gracing” us with, lately. Now you’re on the right track, but you’re wanking in public:

[quote author=“Parasite”]The idea is we are loved as we are, yet we are not fully what we were created to become.  If we choose not to grow in this direction, we will no doubt grow in another, or not grow at all.

I get it, Parasite. You don’t see these words as your own, and you don’t want to. They are yours, and your correspondents already recognize this. Your inauthenticity knows no bounds.

It’s the stink of “not being fully what we were created to become” (a pile of nonsense, an imagined stench) that fills your nostrils, and I think in the end you rather decline to recognize anyone’s capacity for good, and simply lubricate your dogma with the words. You have a set definition of our capacities, one that is wrapped in the masochistic scourgings of your deity’s wet noodly appendage. You see what best invites you to administer the corrective, and that happens to be doctrine that whacks everyone you feel so, uh, pastoral, towards with that noodly shepherd’s crook.

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Posted: 21 February 2007 04:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]  
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Salt Creek,

It was Hagen, quoted by hampsteadpete, who talked about “authority”, as a central feature of his argument.

Am I not permitted to refer to what others write and add my own thoughts without you verbally assaulting me at every turn?

Regarding your view on our own final authority:

There isn’t one…

So you’re implying Hagen is mistaken?  He said:

...in order for you to be a moral agent, you must have the final authority…

And if he is mistaken, it is not possible to be a moral agent? 

Is that what you conclude?

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