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Early factual mistake in “The Moral Landscape”
Posted: 31 January 2011 02:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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No, thats fine. I wasn’t confused. I assume by “moral instinct” that you mean our tendencies to believe our cultural-societal moral programming. I often remind myself of the instruction “always go contrary to the world”. In other words, do not merely believe the program about “world” as presented to us, emotionally as much as philosophically or scientifically (in a nutshell, psychologically).

I agree that science and, therefore, knowledge will change inevitably however slowly it could well seem. And so we could all become human one day. Maybe within the next 500 years, but 500 years is really only a blink on an evolution scale. It will happen and is happening. It is merely process and process is all we actually are. Process has built within it what appears to be a series of outcomes. I think life can still be viewed optimistically from the viewpoint of the human brain. With optimism comes excitement. Literature and inquirey in the direction of a true human society is exciting. It stands to reason that during such process we will confront what may appear to be obstructions (old patterns of thought and dogmas) but ultimately any obstruction or problem is merely an opportunity or solution in disguise. The masks will inevitably be revealed as only that. Masks. And masks are not real. With each new understanding they become only more transparent. As it becomes clear that every object is made of light, light will make transparent every object—including obstructive ones.

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Posted: 31 January 2011 04:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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gragor - 31 January 2011 07:27 AM

No, thats fine. I wasn’t confused. I assume by “moral instinct” that you mean our tendencies to believe our cultural-societal moral programming. I often remind myself of the instruction “always go contrary to the world”. In other words, do not merely believe the program about “world” as presented to us, emotionally as much as philosophically or scientifically (in a nutshell, psychologically).

What I had in mind for moral instinct is that it equates to reacting emotionally when insulted, whether it arrives via cultural programming or inherent neurological form.

We are all raised into a world in which insult gets tolerated only in very narrowly defined circumstances. Perhaps for this reason (or it might be the more fundamentally neurological one—or more likely, some combination), a teacher who gets insulted by a child is likely to feel a strong moralistic response. Moral indignation, being morally outraged, feeling a need to meet out punishment of some form even if it’s only contained in words . . . these are the feelings we respond to when unreasonably insulted, especially by a willful child.

And the “approach” works, just about every time. When I was a child in the classroom, I never once insulted a teacher, or at least not on purpose. I felt like doing so quite a few times, but knew very well that if I were to tell Mr. Hager, for instance, to “Please stop telling us gruesome stories about the battlefields of various wars you willingly participated in, and help me to gain some minimal understanding of biology,” which was the subject, he’d not have reacted well to my request. I felt no need to challenge this fact.

What I’m referring to amounts to ancient morality. Many birds have it in large doses.

But to return to the OP for a moment—schizophrenia and other brain/mind aberrations can generally be lived with if we learn about alternative ways of reacting to people so afflicted. When our response relies on communication of strongly negative emotion, day after day and year after year, some new form of the aberration gets born.

I have a feeling that Thomas Szasz was saying something like this, but I’m not sufficiently well read to know for sure.

gragor - 31 January 2011 07:27 AM

I agree that science and, therefore, knowledge will change inevitably however slowly it could well seem. And so we could all become human one day. Maybe within the next 500 years, but 500 years is really only a blink on an evolution scale. It will happen and is happening. It is merely process and process is all we actually are. Process has built within it what appears to be a series of outcomes. I think life can still be viewed optimistically from the viewpoint of the human brain. With optimism comes excitement. Literature and inquiry in the direction of a true human society is exciting. It stands to reason that during such process we will confront what may appear to be obstructions (old patterns of thought and dogmas) but ultimately any obstruction or problem is merely an opportunity or solution in disguise. The masks will inevitably be revealed as only that. Masks. And masks are not real. With each new understanding they become only more transparent. As it becomes clear that every object is made of light, light will make transparent every object—including obstructive ones.

I think there’s plenty of room for optimism as well as my cynicism. I see much to celebrate when I look for it.

By the way, please consider joining some discussions at Sam Harris’ PR forum here:
http://www.project-reason.org/forum/

It’s a more active collection of conversations, and you’re already registered there, just by being here.

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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: 31 January 2011 04:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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I may do that. In regard to a scenario whereby a child insults a teacher, I will say this. No child insults a teacher. A teacher chooses to take offence. No-one gives offence. It is always taken. People attempt to project their own fear and general lack of understanding, therefore, try to equally upset an other, but, if the other takes offence from the initial attempt at projection, then the other is simply agreeing with it. They are playing the same game. Objectivity of one’s own emotional state (as proposed, I feel, by Sam Harris’s book, among many other books by others I have read) ultimately creates a situation whereby we do not need to engage with these “lower” games (of a denser dimension). We instead play a different and “higher” game (of a free-er dimension. A dimension that consists more of space than objects. “Objectivity” observes our objects and our objectives, and the “object” we falsely assume to be our selves).

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Posted: 01 February 2011 05:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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gragor - 31 January 2011 09:16 PM

I may do that. In regard to a scenario whereby a child insults a teacher, I will say this. No child insults a teacher. A teacher chooses to take offence. No-one gives offence. It is always taken. People attempt to project their own fear and general lack of understanding, therefore, try to equally upset an other, but, if the other takes offence from the initial attempt at projection, then the other is simply agreeing with it. They are playing the same game. Objectivity of one’s own emotional state (as proposed, I feel, by Sam Harris’s book, among many other books by others I have read) ultimately creates a situation whereby we do not need to engage with these “lower” games (of a denser dimension). We instead play a different and “higher” game (of a free-er dimension. A dimension that consists more of space than objects. “Objectivity” observes our objects and our objectives, and the “object” we falsely assume to be our selves).

Yes. For such a result to take place (trending toward objectifying emotional reaction), a teacher first needs to be able to distance herself somehow, emotionally.

My interpretation is that we need at some point to be able to understand the utility of emotion in order to intuitively identify its place in the world. Without some level of such understanding/insight, we tend not to be able to deal productively with our feelings. A pre-insight (in the narrow way I describe above) teacher both reacts and responds to disruptive students without much mediation. A post-insight teacher, on the other hand, is able to see the folly of her reaction if it occurs within a context that logically precludes such a reaction, and her response ends up being a considered response, part of her training, or self-training. Soon she no longer even feels those kinds of reactions, unless they seem to her to be valid. This way of operating mentally tends to generalize into other areas of the teacher’s life, I suspect. It would seem to, anyway.

For the purpose of this discussion, I’m referring to “reaction” as being mostly involuntary, and “response” as being what we think of as within our control.

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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.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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Posted: 01 February 2011 09:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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nonverbal - 01 February 2011 10:38 AM

For the purpose of this discussion, I’m referring to “reaction” as being mostly involuntary, and “response” as being what we think of as within our control.

It is my experience that objectivity of one’s own tendency to react begins as an intelllectual excercise (therefore a discipline or principle) and then actually progresses into a whole new state of being (or “well-being”). This actualised “new state of being” is a becoming one of no actual reaction whatsoever. Ultimately it is a Feeling state rather than a feelings state (plural). “feelings” (range of emotions) are a limitation on “Feeling” (a Feeling of one with everything). I would qualify the state that I am advocating as Human, and I would qualify the prior emotional state as pre-Human in that it still has many primate tendencies (tribal imperatives). In other words, reactions (if this principled human intelligent excercise is undertaken) eventually will not any longer be involuntary. They will merely be peripheral background sensations that have little or no effect on a decision making process. As an Emotional State is in fact the “self”, the “whole new Feeling state” that I advocate here, becomes, ultimately, a Selfless state. A selfless state is a humane state because it ultimately recognises that “humanity” is One being due to the fact that, as individual emotional selves we are merely reflections of each other and, therefore (as individuals) are only separate projections of One Self. “Separation”, however, is an illusion. And believing in the indiviual self (“self-belief”), as if it is real, is a “pre-human” state of delusion.

So the main principle of my advocating is Objectivity which is also referred to as “Self Observation”. It is a technique that Sam Harris, in “The Moral Landscape”, only lightly touches on. In effect it is a spiritual practice. I would go so far as to say, it is THE spiritual practice. Eckhart Tolle with his book “The Power of Now” alludes to this technique (as one of many examples in my personal library).

(I did take a look at the other forums you mentioned but I found them no less adolescent)

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Posted: 06 February 2011 08:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]  
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gragor - 01 February 2011 02:18 PM

(I did take a look at the other forums you mentioned but I found them no less adolescent)

But Project Reason is Sam Harris’ main web site these days. He created it on his own—it wasn’t his publisher’s marketing project like this one is.

Gragor, if you’re able on some ordinary level to comprehend emotions—how they’re used (variously) as well as how they’re commonly misunderstood—doesn’t such insight allow you not to feel the blunt impact of comments from others intended to be insulting or sneering? Sure, you might feel some bit of discomfort. That risk is always present, no matter what. But such comments, if you feel anything up to the confidence you portray here on this forum, can’t really touch you. I actually look forward to being insulted on that forum, assuming I’ve successfully refrained from bullshitting beyond my means in my recent comments. When I haven’t, I just apologize or admit defeat. They’re a cordial bunch, really. Bark. . . bite, all of that . . . nothing of consequence.

You seem unusually able to figure things out, Gragor, which is why I’m pestering you this evening.

[ Edited: 06 February 2011 08:36 PM by nv]
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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.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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