Happiness and Blessedness as ethical values

 
 
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nv
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25 February 2007 04:08
 

Parable, what if general consensus disagrees with your a priori assumption that supernature contains powerful entities concerned about things here on earth, and will continue to disagree more and more with each passing century? If so, isn’t your point moot?

Would you at least agree with me in saying that empathy, admittedly a general concept, contains great potential for helping disparate people to get along together? As I see things, theistic religions are gradually falling away from humanity as a device to assist people in getting along with each other. Universal rules derivable from religions may have assisted humanity in past centuries. But the illusion of powerful and caring supernatural entities probably won’t last forever. What can substitute for God in connecting disparate peoples? If we are not eventually able to answer that question, civilization may not be durable enough to stay together. The centre cannot hold indefinitely. (My apologies for mangling Yeats.)

Correct me if my assessment so far is mistaken. For instance, if you see new churches being built in your community rather than old ones being converted into condos, please tell us about this trend.

Empathy is something that can be taught to children at home and/or in school, but empathy therapy in our schools is even more rare than armed police officers patrolling the hallways. The lack of empathy instruction will continue for as long as religion-inspired leaders enforce their ancient taboos and biases.

 
 
 
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CanZen
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25 February 2007 04:59
 

I completely agree homunculus that the teaching of empathy is the crucial, yet greatly ignored, idea aimed directly at the betterment of humanity.  In fact, as you know, I feel that if we deeply examine the roots of our linguistic natures it will reveal to us our implicit but essential and powerful empathic capacity. (Those who know how to speak must already know what the other is going to think.)

On the term ‘happiness’ as a scale by which moral values might be decided, I feel that the idea of a ‘lack of suffering’ might be a better way of measuring the intended action.  If the prime goal is to “lessen the suffering” rather than to “increase the happiness” a much clearer moral system might be established.  (And how better to describe happiness than as a lack of suffering - or at least a lessening of it?)  And even in regard to the word ‘blessedness’ - perhaps a lessening of suffering is also a blessing?

Bob

 
 
 
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JustThis
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25 February 2007 10:50
 

I am sort of in agreement with Burt on possibility of consciousness being a’priori and universal, of course it’s all speculation anyway. But what if consciousness did exist first and it is only the ‘self’ which is the product of evolution. Burt used the nervous system in his post but I prefer to think of it as ‘self’, maybe self=nervous system.

I once read an amusing tale about consciousness (God) spltting into selves and then He cast a spell of forgetfulness over the individual selves. Why? Have you ever tried playing chess or poker against yourself, it just doesn’t work. 

Since I have been reading about some the early pioneers of the ‘new physics’ here is a quote which relates to this matter.

So, in brief, we do not belong to this material world that science constructs for us. We are not in it; we are outside. We are only spectators. The reason why we believe that we are in it, that we belong in the picture, is that our bodies are in the picture. Our bodies belong to it. Not only my body, but those of my friends, also of my dog and cat and horse, and all the other people and animals. And this is my only means of communicating with them.
Erwin Schrodinger

 
 
 
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nv
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25 February 2007 11:51
 

[quote author=“JustThis”]I am sort of in agreement with Burt on possibility of consciousness being a’priori and universal, of course it’s all speculation anyway. But what if consciousness did exist first and it is only the ‘self’ which is the product of evolution. Burt used the nervous system in his post but I prefer to think of it as ‘self’, maybe self=nervous system.

I once read an amusing tale about consciousness (God) splitting into selves and then He cast a spell of forgetfulness over the individual selves. Why? Have you ever tried playing chess or poker against yourself, it just doesn’t work. 

Since I have been reading about some the early pioneers of the ‘new physics’ here is a quote which relates to this matter.

So, in brief, we do not belong to this material world that science constructs for us. We are not in it; we are outside. We are only spectators. The reason why we believe that we are in it, that we belong in the picture, is that our bodies are in the picture. Our bodies belong to it. Not only my body, but those of my friends, also of my dog and cat and horse, and all the other people and animals. And this is my only means of communicating with them.
Erwin Schrodinger

That’s a great quote, JustThis, though if I were a cat living in Schroedinger’s house, I’d be a bit concerned. JustKidding.

I think Erwin left out a crucial part of the equation: Humanity has yet to overcome its theistic upbringing. It’s as though we’re only now entering our adolescence. But if our species is able to survive long enough, maybe we’ll eventually fully become the animals we actually are once again. I think we’re capable of crawling back into the space we once inhabited, but I suspect we’ll instead just die out.

 
 
 
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burt
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25 February 2007 12:37
 

[quote author=“CanZen”]I completely agree homunculus that the teaching of empathy is the crucial, yet greatly ignored, idea aimed directly at the betterment of humanity.  In fact, as you know, I feel that if we deeply examine the roots of our linguistic natures it will reveal to us our implicit but essential and powerful empathic capacity. (Those who know how to speak must already know what the other is going to think.)

On the term ‘happiness’ as a scale by which moral values might be decided, I feel that the idea of a ‘lack of suffering’ might be a better way of measuring the intended action.  If the prime goal is to “lessen the suffering” rather than to “increase the happiness” a much clearer moral system might be established.  (And how better to describe happiness than as a lack of suffering - or at least a lessening of it?)  And even in regard to the word ‘blessedness’ - perhaps a lessening of suffering is also a blessing?

Bob

I agree that “lessening suffering” is preferable to happiness as a basis for moral values, but also note that in terms of the individual (at least according to Socrates) happiness is the result of moral behavior.

 
 
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CanZen
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25 February 2007 13:56
 

That’s a compelling thought, burt (and Socrates).  I guess it does make a person happy when he acts to lessen the suffering of another (if that’s the ultimate measure on a moral scale). Also it seems that such a happiness is what utilitarianism is aiming at,  if we are aiming at producing that happiness in the future we are then compelled to be morally good.  Maybe a true utilitarian system would aim at making both the sufferer and the agent happier in the face of some decisive action affecting both of them?

Bob