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Author Topic:   Morals without God or Darwin, just Empathy
anastasia
Member (Idle past 4271 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 91 of 184 (381590)
01-31-2007 6:48 PM
Reply to: Message 85 by nator
01-30-2007 11:34 PM


Re: We've relied on our survival drive all this time, is it still used?
nator writes:

For the umpteenth time, ana, "Love thy neighbor" IS A PART OF SURVIVAL BEHABIOR, TOO!!!!!!!!!!!.

Groups are far safer in a dangerous existence than individuals.

"Love thy neighbor" is a way for groups to remain cohesive by facilitating cooperation. "Do unto others", in other words.

For the umpteenth time, why are those promoting 'survival' here, so full of 'hate thy neighbor', make fun of thy neighbor, talk down to thy neighbor, mock thy neighbor, ridicule, get revenge on, accuse of ignorance, and feel superior to thy God-fearing neighbor? I thought love was a 'natural' instinctual and/or learned behavior? Please do not continue to ignore the fact that we have the ability to HATE, and please do not make HATRED out to be another acceptable survival tactic.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 85 by nator, posted 01-30-2007 11:34 PM nator has responded

Replies to this message:
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Jon
Inactive Member


Message 92 of 184 (381630)
02-01-2007 11:30 AM
Reply to: Message 89 by Larni
01-31-2007 3:49 PM


The Path of Least Resistance
To experience this sense of power one must 'know' that the victim is powerless. This requires empathy.

This doesn't require empathy! All the rapist needs to concern him/herself with is whether or not there is resistance. When an animal of prey goes after the helpless injured deer before trying to take down the healthy and strong one, do you think that's empathy? The animal (like the rapist) is looking for the path to their goal (food for the animal, power for the rapist) that will offer the least resistance.

If the animal attempts the deer likely to put up the greater amount of resistance and it gets away, the animal doesn't get its meal. If the rapist attempts to rape the individual which is puting up the greatest amount of resistance, he/she doesn't get his/her power (or at least not as much). The only real difference here is that the rapist can't decide which individual will put up the greater amount of resistance until he/she has already begun the act--though this can be true of the animal as well.

J0N


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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anastasia
Member (Idle past 4271 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 93 of 184 (381636)
02-01-2007 11:50 AM
Reply to: Message 92 by Jon
02-01-2007 11:30 AM


Re: The Path of Least Resistance
I agree that for a topic entitled 'Morals Without God or Darwin, Just Empathy'...calling rape a product of this same empathy that is supposed to be so 'moral' is confusing at least.

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Replies to this message:
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Stile
Member
Posts: 3863
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 94 of 184 (381639)
02-01-2007 12:22 PM
Reply to: Message 93 by anastasia
02-01-2007 11:50 AM


Empathy does not equal Good
anastasia writes:

I agree that for a topic entitled 'Morals Without God or Darwin, Just Empathy'...calling rape a product of this same empathy that is supposed to be so 'moral' is confusing at least.

Empathy is not good or bad.
Empathy is simply the ability of one creature to read the feelings of another, and feel what they think the other creature is feeling.

Empathy can be about good feelings -> seeing someone smile and laugh.
Empathy can be about bad feelings -> seeing someone wince in pain.

Empathy is not a synonym for good or for moral. It is a tool, an ability which can be used to help discern good from bad, moral from immoral.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 93 by anastasia, posted 02-01-2007 11:50 AM anastasia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 95 by anastasia, posted 02-01-2007 3:52 PM Stile has acknowledged this reply
 Message 96 by Jon, posted 02-01-2007 4:31 PM Stile has responded

  
anastasia
Member (Idle past 4271 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 95 of 184 (381679)
02-01-2007 3:52 PM
Reply to: Message 94 by Stile
02-01-2007 12:22 PM


Re: Empathy does not equal Good
Yes, sorry, I was planning to re-write and my connection went down so it got through anyway.

Empathy IS a tool. Empathy alone does not cause morality. Our ability to empathize is not always used, and at other times it is used to help us enjoy immoral actions. The rape case is easy to dismiss; most of us can not relate to this enjoyment of another's pain. Ha, but we have all had our sweet revenge, which is a natural selfish survival tendency based on imagining our enemy's discomfort. It does seem that morality does not stem from empathy.

What I see is that loving ourselves is natural; then, loving our family, then, others like us, with loving our enemies and our neighbor in general last on the list. This tells me that whatever our survival mechanisms are, they are still geared to the small tribe. People don't write books reminding us to survive by stealing, lying, or murdering when we have to. We end up asking and reminding each other to be better than 'natural' with love for those outside of our tribe. Many political movements ask us to be better by looking to the global community, etc. Yet we are remaining the same by and large, waking today with the same old urge to yell at the kids and the dog, make fun of someone online, lust after someone on tv, etc.

Edited by anastasia, : No reason given.


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Jon
Inactive Member


Message 96 of 184 (381689)
02-01-2007 4:31 PM
Reply to: Message 94 by Stile
02-01-2007 12:22 PM


Re: Empathy does not equal Good
Empathy is not a synonym for good or for moral. It is a tool, an ability which can be used to help discern good from bad, moral from immoral.

But then you must show us how "moral" = "doing what is good for others." I believe that "moral" = "doing what we think is best," and how we arrive at that conclusion may be by taking a number of things into consideration, but not just the feelings of others.

J0N


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Doddy
Member (Idle past 4227 days)
Posts: 563
From: Brisbane, Australia
Joined: 01-04-2007


Message 97 of 184 (381792)
02-01-2007 10:35 PM
Reply to: Message 96 by Jon
02-01-2007 4:31 PM


Re: Empathy does not equal Good
Jon writes:

believe that "moral" = "doing what we think is best," and how we arrive at that conclusion may be by taking a number of things into consideration, but not just the feelings of others.

Very much so. Often the moral choice (the one that most people consider is the right course of action), isn't the best for others.

There is a well-known 'trolley dilemma' that indicates this.

quote:
Suppose you are standing by a railroad track. Ahead, in a deep cutting from which no escape is possible, five people are walking on the track. You hear a train approaching. Beside you is a lever with which you can switch the train to a sidetrack. One person is walking on the sidetrack. Is it O.K. to pull the lever and save the five people, though one will die?

Most people say it is.

Assume now you are on a bridge overlooking the track. Ahead, five people on the track are at risk. You can save them by throwing down a heavy object into the path of the approaching train. One is available beside you, in the form of a fat man. Is it O.K. to push him to save the five?

Most people say no, although lives saved and lost are the same as in the first problem.

Why does the moral grammar generate such different judgments in apparently similar situations? It makes a distinction between a foreseen harm (the train killing the person on the track) and an intended harm (throwing the person in front of the train), despite the fact that the consequences are the same in either case.



"Der Mensch kann was er will; er kann aber nicht wollen was er will." (Man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills.) - Arthur Schopenhauer

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Larni
Member
Posts: 3990
From: Liverpool
Joined: 09-16-2005


Message 98 of 184 (381824)
02-02-2007 6:58 AM
Reply to: Message 92 by Jon
02-01-2007 11:30 AM


Re: The Path of Least Resistance
Jon writes:

This doesn't require empathy!

Yes it does. Take sadistic rape for example:

My bolding.

Article writes:

Sadistic Rape: In this case, physical force (anger and power) becomes an erotic stimulant for the rapist. He takes intense pleasure in her torment and suffering (Groth and Birnbaum, p. 44). The offender is usually intensely excited; excitement is directly connected to the pain which he is inflicting upon his victim (Groth and Birnbaum, p. 45).

http://www.rapecrisisonline.com/articles.htm

To recognise the torment one needs empathy.

The rest of your post is about animals and not relevant to people.


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 Message 92 by Jon, posted 02-01-2007 11:30 AM Jon has not yet responded

  
Larni
Member
Posts: 3990
From: Liverpool
Joined: 09-16-2005


Message 99 of 184 (381825)
02-02-2007 7:07 AM
Reply to: Message 95 by anastasia
02-01-2007 3:52 PM


Re: Empathy does not equal Good
Ana writes:

What I see is that loving ourselves is natural; then, loving our family, then, others like us, with loving our enemies and our neighbor in general last on the list. This tells me that whatever our survival mechanisms are, they are still geared to the small tribe. People don't write books reminding us to survive by stealing, lying, or murdering when we have to. We end up asking and reminding each other to be better than 'natural' with love for those outside of our tribe. Many political movements ask us to be better by looking to the global community, etc. Yet we are remaining the same by and large, waking today with the same old urge to yell at the kids and the dog, make fun of someone online, lust after someone on tv, etc.

Damnit! I agree with you....;)


This message is a reply to:
 Message 95 by anastasia, posted 02-01-2007 3:52 PM anastasia has responded

Replies to this message:
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Larni
Member
Posts: 3990
From: Liverpool
Joined: 09-16-2005


Message 100 of 184 (381826)
02-02-2007 7:14 AM
Reply to: Message 96 by Jon
02-01-2007 4:31 PM


Re: Empathy does not equal Good
Jon writes:

But then you must show us how "moral" = "doing what is good for others."

Well this is not true so it does not follow that it has to be shown.


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Stile
Member
Posts: 3863
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 101 of 184 (381838)
02-02-2007 8:53 AM
Reply to: Message 96 by Jon
02-01-2007 4:31 PM


Re: Empathy does not equal Good
Jon writes:

But then you must show us how "moral" = "doing what is good for others."


Why? That is not what I think moral means, and it is not what I intended it to mean, and I don't think I even said that anywhere.

To me, moral = "doing what is good", which can include simply "not doing what is bad" as well. And "good" is just as subjective as it's always been. Which, of course, makes "moral" just as subjective. However, I don't see how anything affects my original statement:

quote:
Empathy is not a synonym for good or for moral. It is a tool, an ability which can be used to help discern good from bad, moral from immoral.

I do not think this is a complicated or involved idea. I think it's rather obvious, actually. Is there anything specific you think I'm glossing over?


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 Message 96 by Jon, posted 02-01-2007 4:31 PM Jon has responded

Replies to this message:
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Jon
Inactive Member


Message 102 of 184 (381888)
02-02-2007 11:05 AM
Reply to: Message 101 by Stile
02-02-2007 8:53 AM


Re: Empathy does not equal Good
To be entirely honest, I seem to have misinterpreted the point you were trying to make. This said, I seem to have no problem with what you've used to define moral. :) ;) :laugh: :cool:

J0N


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anastasia
Member (Idle past 4271 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 103 of 184 (381934)
02-02-2007 3:48 PM
Reply to: Message 101 by Stile
02-02-2007 8:53 AM


Re: Empathy does not equal Good
Stile writes:

I derived the morals in my life in two stages. First, by accepting what I was told by trusted authority figures (parents, priest, teachers...). And secondly moving on to a basic use of Empathy. If I feel that a certain action is evil, or good; generally by wondering if anyone is being hurt. Then I deem it as being bad, or right.

If you are the rapist in question, and you have used empathy to get enjoyment out of your actions, is this because you have had no trusted authority figures? Can I make an excuse for the rapist who has just not learned? I think not, unless he is deemed insane. This is because we are all rapists in a sense; we all love to make people squirm. Fellow debators, fellow employees, next door neighbors, whom soever we feel is our competitor. This IS natural behaviour, and for me, morality is about rising ABOVE natural behaviour and towards something which is just a bit more complicated than what we can express. The choices which you make are based on something more than what you have learned and your ability to empathize. You can see that what you have said in your OP about deriving good morals from empathy is not enough. Some people do not recognize 'hurting another' as evil, and you know as well as I do that there is more to this than learning.


To me, moral = "doing what is good",
This is what you say now, but again;

OP writes:

If I feel that a certain action is evil, or good; generally by wondering if anyone is being hurt. Then I deem it as being bad, or right.

sounds more like what Jon wrote;

Jon writes:

moral" = "doing what is good for others."

Not that I am picking on you at all, I am just so sure that these natural explanations for morality are most confusing and impossible to articulate.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 101 by Stile, posted 02-02-2007 8:53 AM Stile has responded

Replies to this message:
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Stile
Member
Posts: 3863
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 104 of 184 (381948)
02-02-2007 4:43 PM
Reply to: Message 103 by anastasia
02-02-2007 3:48 PM


Re: Empathy does not equal Good
anastasia writes:

If you are the rapist in question, and you have used empathy to get enjoyment out of your actions, is this because you have had no trusted authority figures?


I don't want to be pulled into an arguement I'm not ready for. I do not claim to understand, or know why other people do things. But, to attempt an answer to your question: It could be. The rapist may have had no trusted authority figures, they may have been trusted yet poorly directed, they may have been trusted yet numerous thereby giving confusing signals. It may have not been authority figures, it may have been any other aspect of the rapist's experience. It's all about learning. These feelings and reactions are learnt. Authority figures are one way to learn, they certainly are not the only way.

anastasia writes:

Can I make an excuse for the rapist who has just not learned? I think not, unless he is deemed insane.


Niether can we assume he "did not learn". It may be a possibility. It may not. Maybe he learnt just fine, but perhaps his particualar learning environment taught him differently from what we and society deem as good.

anastasia writes:

This is because we are all rapists in a sense; we all love to make people squirm.


We are? Are you sure? I don't love to make people squirm. I think you like it, and you don't want to be alone in that fact. You know it's hard to change, or maybe you don't want to change. So the easiest course for you to justify it to yourself is to say "everyone is".

I used to like making people squirm. Then, when I was in my early teens, I learnt that making people squirm made me feel horrible. I do not like to make people squirm at all anymore. Not a fellow debator, employee, neighbour, and especially not a fellow competitor. I have the utmost respect for anyone I get the chance to compete with, in anything.

anasasia writes:

This IS natural behaviour, and for me, morality is about rising ABOVE natural behaviour and towards something which is just a bit more complicated than what we can express.


I would call it basic behaviour. And that a part of morality is about rising above basic behaviour, towards making a world with as much positive feelings as we possibly can. I think it is complicated, very complicated at times. I very much doubt it is beyond our expression. It is, as far as I can tell, entirely natural.

anastasia continues and writes:

The choices which you make are based on something more than what you have learned and your ability to empathize. You can see that what you have said in your OP about deriving good morals from empathy is not enough.


No, kinda. The choices I make are not based on anything more than what I've learned. I admit that they are based on more then my learned ability to empathize. The "more" is my intelligence, it allows me to decide what actions I take. My intelligence allows me to rise above my basic drivers such as survival or my personal needs and wants in order to act in a way my intelligence tells me will most help the given situation. However, the intelligence itself is also learnt, and therefore remains natural.

anastasia's conclusion writes:

Some people do not recognize 'hurting another' as evil, and you know as well as I do that there is more to this than learning.


No, I don't. In fact, I don't see how it can possibly be anything other than learning. Since that is the only mechanism of doing things I have ever observed in anyone or anything. If you do know about "something more", please explain it to me, I would like to understand if I am indeed missing something.

quote:
Stile writes:

If I feel that a certain action is evil, or good; generally by wondering if anyone is being hurt. Then I deem it as being bad, or right.

sounds more like what Jon wrote:
Jon writes:

moral = doing what is good for others.


Yes, they do sound similar. But if you read my quote is uses the words "generally" and "anyone". Which is not all-encompasing and even I am included in "anyone". So still, if I wanted to shorten my description even more, I'd still say:

quote:
Moral = doing good

anastasia writes:

Not that I am picking on you at all, I am just so sure that these natural explanations for morality are most confusing and impossible to articulate.


I am glad for the picking. One of the reasons I started this thread, mentioned in the OP, was that I'd like to understand my own thoughts on the matter. "Picking", yours or anyone elses, helps me to do exactly that, and I thank you for it. However, not only am I even more confident that morality is natural now, I am also beginning to think that it is not impossible to articulate. Although "very difficult" would not be an understatement, for me, anyway.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 103 by anastasia, posted 02-02-2007 3:48 PM anastasia has responded

Replies to this message:
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anastasia
Member (Idle past 4271 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 105 of 184 (381950)
02-02-2007 4:45 PM
Reply to: Message 99 by Larni
02-02-2007 7:07 AM


Re: Empathy does not equal Good
Larni writes:

Damnit! I agree with you....

Larni, when I think about morality, it does me no good to imagine the wonderful workings of some sub-conscious survival of the species factor, when everything that I see and feel around me clearly shows that as a species, we are all for 'survival of the fittest'. This is natural, it is no different from what other animals do. They defend themselves, their offspring, and their social group. We wish at once to make ourselves the same as animals, and yet we ascribe to our nature some nobility of purpose that is belied by our very own consciences.

Here again, I say, loving our enemies is not natural. It IS taught, which is to say, that I DO have to invoke a higher power to discover this morality, and to keep it.

Btw, I did not mean to say that the threads were boring, but that the thought of morality without God is so empty. It sorta makes all of our sacrifice and all of our heroism just another possible outcome of biological stimulus; a learned behaviour, both replicable and mechanical.


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