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Old 2009-09-26, 00:56   Link #2041
ChainLegacy
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Well, humans do possess some instinctual altruism. It is an evolved trait that linked together hunter-gatherer tribes and today applies to society and extended groups of contacts (to varying degrees, depending on the individual). You can even see altruism in chimps. So, there are some natural tendencies towards what you call 'good.' This doesn't discount other, more selfish tendencies that humans possess, though, so it is more of a gray area than something with a definite answer.

Last edited by ChainLegacy; 2009-09-26 at 01:10.
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Old 2009-09-26, 01:29   Link #2042
Cipher
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Originally Posted by ChainLegacy View Post
This doesn't discount other, more selfish tendencies that humans possess, though, so it is more of a gray area than something with a definite answer.
Pardon my perhaps rude commentary, but I really suggest you look at things more flexibly. This is not the only issue that lacks definite answers. There are limitless other indefinite answers---science probably having most of them.

The only way we can find the more *reasonable* answer is by creating a ratio between its negatives and positives. Thus, my last "draw".

We have society, order and peace now because of that *natural* "goodness" of man. Yes, It is definitely true that some are "evil", but that does not remove the fact that *most* people are "good".(the fact that we're still retaining society and order, and not the other way, is clear evidence of this).

My only explanation to as to how humans become evil is either through *some* "bad" *nurture* or a mental illness.(I'm not so sure about this, I'm hoping someone else could share their ideas, thank you.)
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Old 2009-09-26, 02:44   Link #2043
Ascaloth
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Originally Posted by Cipher View Post
Pardon my perhaps rude commentary, but I really suggest you look at things more flexibly. This is not the only issue that lacks definite answers. There are limitless other indefinite answers---science probably having most of them.

The only way we can find the more *reasonable* answer is by creating a ratio between its negatives and positives. Thus, my last "draw".

We have society, order and peace now because of that *natural* "goodness" of man. Yes, It is definitely true that some are "evil", but that does not remove the fact that *most* people are "good".(the fact that we're still retaining society and order, and not the other way, is clear evidence of this).

My only explanation to as to how humans become evil is either through *some* "bad" *nurture* or a mental illness.(I'm not so sure about this, I'm hoping someone else could share their ideas, thank you.)
Why are you so absolutely certain that society, order and peace is the result of an innate good nature of humanity? Why are you so insistent on rejecting all other possible explanations of the origins of the human society?

Let's start with an established philosophical take on the nature of human beings, and the origins of the human society as we know it today:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
2. THE FIRST SOCIETIES

THE most ancient of all societies, and the only one that is natural, is the family: and even so the children remain attached to the father only so long as they need him for their preservation. As soon as this need ceases, the natural bond is dissolved. The children, released from the obedience they owed to the father, and the father, released from the care he owed his children, return equally to independence. If they remain united, they continue so no longer naturally, but voluntarily; and the family itself is then maintained only by convention.

This common liberty results from the nature of man. His first law is to provide for his own preservation, his first cares are those which he owes to himself; and, as soon as he reaches years of discretion, he is the sole judge of the proper means of preserving himself, and consequently becomes his own master.

The family then may be called the first model of political societies: the ruler corresponds to the father, and the people to the children; and all, being born free and equal, alienate their liberty only for their own advantage. The whole difference is that, in the family, the love of the father for his children repays him for the care he takes of them, while, in the State, the pleasure of commanding takes the place of the love which the chief cannot have for the peoples under him.

(.........)

6. THE SOCIAL COMPACT

I SUPPOSE men to have reached the point at which the obstacles in the way of their preservation in the state of nature show their power of resistance to be greater than the resources at the disposal of each individual for his maintenance in that state. That primitive condition can then subsist no longer; and the human race would perish unless it changed its manner of existence.

But, as men cannot engender new forces, but only unite and direct existing ones, they have no other means of preserving themselves than the formation, by aggregation, of a sum of forces great enough to overcome the resistance. These they have to bring into play by means of a single motive power, and cause to act in concert.


This sum of forces can arise only where several persons come together: but, as the force and liberty of each man are the chief instruments of his self-preservation, how can he pledge them without harming his own interests, and neglecting the care he owes to himself? This difficulty, in its bearing on my present subject, may be stated in the following terms:

"The problem is to find a form of association which will defend and protect with the whole common force the person and goods of each associate, and in which each, while uniting himself with all, may still obey himself alone, and remain as free as before." This is the fundamental problem of which the Social Contract provides the solution.

The clauses of this contract are so determined by the nature of the act that the slightest modification would make them vain and ineffective; so that, although they have perhaps never been formally set forth, they are everywhere the same and everywhere tacitly admitted and recognised, until, on the violation of the social compact, each regains his original rights and resumes his natural liberty, while losing the conventional liberty in favour of which he renounced it.

These clauses, properly understood, may be reduced to one — the total alienation of each associate, together with all his rights, to the whole community; for, in the first place, as each gives himself absolutely, the conditions are the same for all; and, this being so, no one has any interest in making them burdensome to others.

Moreover, the alienation being without reserve, the union is as perfect as it can be, and no associate has anything more to demand: for, if the individuals retained certain rights, as there would be no common superior to decide between them and the public, each, being on one point his own judge, would ask to be so on all; the state of nature would thus continue, and the association would necessarily become inoperative or tyrannical.

Finally, each man, in giving himself to all, gives himself to nobody; and as there is no associate over whom he does not acquire the same right as he yields others over himself, he gains an equivalent for everything he loses, and an increase of force for the preservation of what he has.

If then we discard from the social compact what is not of its essence, we shall find that it reduces itself to the following terms:

"Each of us puts his person and all his power in common under the supreme direction of the general will, and, in our corporate capacity, we receive each member as an indivisible part of the whole."

At once, in place of the individual personality of each contracting party, this act of association creates a moral and collective body, composed of as many members as the assembly contains votes, and receiving from this act its unity, its common identity, its life and its will. This public person, so formed by the union of all other persons formerly took the name of city,4 and now takes that of Republic or body politic; it is called by its members State when passive. Sovereign when active, and Power when compared with others like itself. Those who are associated in it take collectively the name of people, and severally are called citizens, as sharing in the sovereign power, and subjects, as being under the laws of the State. But these terms are often confused and taken one for another: it is enough to know how to distinguish them when they are being used with precision.
From "The Social Contract, Or Principles of Political Rights" by Jean-Jacques Rousseau.


From this reasoning, it is not impossible to imagine that the reason we have society and civilization today is the result of a "social contract" that our forefathers made in the early days of humanity: namely, to give up the natural rights that each individual have in their state of nature, in order to gain the civil freedoms that we enjoy today; the right to life and individual liberty, amongst others. In that sense, the innate nature for humanity is not really "good" or "evil", but merely pragmatic.

Of course, I do not put forth the Social Contract Theory as the inalienable truth; I merely present it as the most academic embodiment of the viewpoints we have presented in opposition to yours. So, let me hear your thoughts on this; I wish to see what level of understanding of the human society you have beyond your religious paradigm, so that I may better understand on what level of intellectual maturity to debate this issue with you.
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Old 2009-09-26, 03:02   Link #2044
Cipher
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Originally Posted by Ascaloth View Post
Why are you so absolutely certain that society, order and peace is the result of an innate good nature of humanity? Why are you so insistent on rejecting all other possible explanations of the origins of the human society?
Does it seem like I'm so absolutely certain humanity is "good" in nature? Truth be told, I (and humans in general) am never certain of virtually *anything* except their own existence--the opposite would be irrationality(mentally ill). I am also not rejecting other possible explanations, what I'm try to do is create a more *optimistic* view of things for people. We've already acknowledged all the negatives but why don't we also acknowledge the positives?


Quote:
Let's start with an established philosophical take on the nature of human beings, and the origins of the human society as we know it today:



From "The Social Contract, Or Principles of Political Rights" by Jean-Jacques Rousseau.


From this reasoning, it is not impossible to imagine that the reason we have society and civilization today is the result of a "social contract" that our forefathers made in the early days of humanity: namely, to give up the natural rights that each individual have in their state of nature, in order to gain the civil freedoms that we enjoy today; the right to life and individual liberty, amongst others. In that sense, the innate nature for humanity is not really "good" or "evil", but merely pragmatic.

Of course, I do not put forth the Social Contract Theory as the inalienable truth; I merely present it as the most academic embodiment of the viewpoints we have presented in opposition to yours. So, let me hear your thoughts on this; I wish to see what level of understanding of the human society you have beyond your religious paradigm, so that I may better understand on what level of intellectual maturity to debate this issue with you.
Indeed, the innate nature of humanity is merely pragmatic or based on "selfish" concerns, but this is exactly what creates the "tendency of 'good' of humanity" of which I'm trying to describe. The tendency itself being natural creating *it*,"goodness", natural.

Pardon me if my explanations and informational relations to your opinions seem lacking, honestly, I only read the bold parts of Rousseau. I'm pretty much getting exhausted of all these arguments so I'm close to resigning.

Last edited by Cipher; 2009-09-26 at 03:37.
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Old 2009-09-26, 03:14   Link #2045
Vexx
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I don't tend to think of it as "good" vs "evil" so much as "short-term selfishness" vs "altruism". There are other labels that could be applied as well but someone who looks out for the "group" and treats others well is generally labeled as more "good" than someone who looks out only for their self.
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Old 2009-09-26, 03:22   Link #2046
Cipher
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Originally Posted by Vexx View Post
I don't tend to think of it as "good" vs "evil" so much as "short-term selfishness" vs "altruism". There are other labels that could be applied as well but someone who looks out for the "group" and treats others well is generally labeled as more "good" than someone who looks out only for their self.
Practically, that is how it's usually organized. But those *two* persons' origins of motivation is one and the same: selfishness. Its only a matter of one type of *selfishness* being more logically helpful for survivability: helping others=helping selves.

Last edited by Cipher; 2009-09-26 at 05:53.
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Old 2009-09-26, 04:18   Link #2047
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Originally Posted by Ascaloth View Post
Why are you so absolutely certain that society, order and peace is the result of an innate good nature of humanity? Why are you so insistent on rejecting all other possible explanations of the origins of the human society?

Let's start with an established philosophical take on the nature of human beings, and the origins of the human society as we know it today:



From "The Social Contract, Or Principles of Political Rights" by Jean-Jacques Rousseau.


From this reasoning, it is not impossible to imagine that the reason we have society and civilization today is the result of a "social contract" that our forefathers made in the early days of humanity: namely, to give up the natural rights that each individual have in their state of nature, in order to gain the civil freedoms that we enjoy today; the right to life and individual liberty, amongst others. In that sense, the innate nature for humanity is not really "good" or "evil", but merely pragmatic.

Of course, I do not put forth the Social Contract Theory as the inalienable truth; I merely present it as the most academic embodiment of the viewpoints we have presented in opposition to yours. So, let me hear your thoughts on this; I wish to see what level of understanding of the human society you have beyond your religious paradigm, so that I may better understand on what level of intellectual maturity to debate this issue with you.
The theory of the social contract is always meant as a hypothesis, not an actual account of history. Rousseau wasn't the one who came up with it, he just altered it so that it was compatible with his own view on human nature, which was in fact supposed to be very noble. Given the post you quoted, I'd say you shot yourself in the foot by using Rousseau's version, instead of Hobbes', which would have supported your argument. No offense.

I'd say some degree of "goodness" is required to form a stable society. A Hobbesian society would still collapse, probably, because while society can be formed by reason, it needs something more to remain in place. That's why Locke and Rousseau really improved the theory by adding an account of human goodness.
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Old 2009-09-26, 04:20   Link #2048
monster
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Originally Posted by SeedFreedom View Post
But that's under the assumption i need to believe in god, hence i need faith. If you must label what created this universe, god might be a fitting title, but i don't believe it is some omnipotent being worthy or desiring praise. More likely it is some mass of energy.
Well you did started it by stating
Quote:
If god is really all powerful or has some sort of master plan then there is no point in me going against his will and i should remain an atheist as it was how i was raised. If for his plan i needed to believe in him it would be very simple. For me to believe in god i simply need to see a miracle that can't be explained by science. Something that brakes every rule. Since he has not done so, even when the amount of people who consider themselves religious is on a decrease, it means having a faith isn't that important to his plan.
That already assumes that God exists and he has a plan which involves faith. I was trying to counter the last statement I bolded; that of faith loosing its worth with the absence of a modern day, physics defying miracle. Whether or not you need to believe is up to you. It has no effect on God's plan or the role of faith in it (as far as the plan being successful).

That brings me to the other statement I bolded. As one who believes in the Bible, it states that God's plan is to save those who believe in him. Now while that does bring up faith (which is another reason why I think faith is important in God's plan), it doesn't mean he needs for anyone in particular to believe in order for his plan to work. Any need is on the human's part to decide in this life whether to believe. So faith is important, but either way a person decides, the plan continues on until it's done.
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Old 2009-09-26, 04:43   Link #2049
Xrayz0r
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I hope we can agree that the purpose of religion is not to give an account of reality.

Either we're going to discuss the universe, or we're going to discuss a social construct known as religion. Make up your mind. Omnipotence, omniscience, and the fall of man are an inconsistent set. The moment we start debating these things, it'll be a tapdance match, where people use their lamest sophist tricks to talk their way around logical fallacies. Religion serves it's purpose in the context that kierkengaard provides, I'll respect that. But it's been about 350 years since religion's purpose was to explain the universe.
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Old 2009-09-26, 05:47   Link #2050
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Originally Posted by Xrayz0r View Post
I hope we can agree that the purpose of religion is not to give an account of reality.

Either we're going to discuss the universe, or we're going to discuss a social construct known as religion. Make up your mind. Omnipotence, omniscience, and the fall of man are an inconsistent set. The moment we start debating these things, it'll be a tapdance match, where people use their lamest sophist tricks to talk their way around logical fallacies. Religion serves it's purpose in the context that kierkengaard provides, I'll respect that. But it's been about 350 years since religion's purpose was to explain the universe.


The issue I was trying defend was my religion's supposed "inconsistencies". As far as I'm concerned, I believe there are none. For if there are, I wouldn't be in this religion. And to argue that, we had to go alll the way to this here...
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Old 2009-09-26, 05:52   Link #2051
Ascaloth
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Originally Posted by Cipher View Post
Does it seem like I'm so absolutely certain humanity is "good" in nature? Truth be told, I (and humans in general) am never certain of virtually *anything* except their own existence--the opposite would be irrationality(mentally ill). I am also not rejecting other possible explanations, what I'm try to do is create a more *optimistic* view of things for people. We've already acknowledged all the negatives but why don't we also acknowledge the positives?

Indeed, the innate nature of humanity is merely pragmatic or based on "selfish" concerns, but this is exactly what creates the "tendency of 'good' of humanity" of which I'm trying to describe. The tendency itself being natural creating *it*,"goodness", natural.
Since you have acknowledged and agree with me that the "innate goodness" of humanity is merely pragmatism, then what exactly about it is "innate" or "good"? Yes, perhaps it is "innate" in the sense that individual humans will naturally gravitate towards actions which is beneficial to themselves in the long run, but if the motivations of these actions are merely pragmatic and "selfish" as you may so, can you really say that it's really "goodness" as you seem to take the term to mean?

The way I see it, "goodness" is simply a social construct, something which has meaning because it is people and society who ascribe the meaning to it, not because it is something "innate" in itself. In other words, from what you've said, does that mean you agree with my viewpoint?

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Originally Posted by Xrayz0r View Post
The theory of the social contract is always meant as a hypothesis, not an actual account of history. Rousseau wasn't the one who came up with it, he just altered it so that it was compatible with his own view on human nature, which was in fact supposed to be very noble. Given the post you quoted, I'd say you shot yourself in the foot by using Rousseau's version, instead of Hobbes', which would have supported your argument. No offense.
If I were attempting to prove that humanity were innately "evil" and formed the social contract because they required draconian control over their lives, then yes, you may have been right. However, I was merely attempting to put forth the viewpoint that humans are by nature "pragmatic", which is a neutral term, and not "evil", which is a negative term. Therefore, Rousseau serves my purposes quite sufficiently.
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Old 2009-09-26, 06:02   Link #2052
Cipher
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Originally Posted by Ascaloth View Post
Since you have acknowledged and agree with me that the "innate goodness" of humanity is merely pragmatism, then what exactly about it is "innate" or "good"? Yes, perhaps it is "innate" in the sense that individual humans will naturally gravitate towards actions which is beneficial to themselves in the long run, but if the motivations of these actions are merely pragmatic and "selfish" as you may so, can you really say that it's really "goodness" as you seem to take the term to mean?
Yep...Selfishness isn't as negative as you think it is. It results into "good" morality after all.
Quote:
The way I see it, "goodness" is simply a social construct, something which has meaning because it is people and society who ascribe the meaning to it, not because it is something "innate" in itself. In other words, from what you've said, does that mean you agree with my viewpoint?
Yes and no. The fact that its tendency is clear makes it an "automaton". In a sense, its "natural". Just like how TV and air-crafts are "natural".


(you sound like a lawyer btw.)
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Old 2009-09-26, 06:11   Link #2053
monster
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Sorry about this second post, I was focused on your reply to me first.
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Originally Posted by SeedFreedom View Post
Ignoring all of that, if god gives me a tool,say free will, and doesn't help me use it properly, say by allowing me to give into temptation or be fooled by a false prophet, and punishes me when i had no chance to do the right thing, then why should i praise him and follow a religion?
The Bible states that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. But the Bible also states that God loves us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 3:23 and 5:8

So that is one reason why anyone who believes should praise God. John 3:16 is a verse from the Bible you might know about.

As for temptation, the Bible states that it tests your faith to develop perseverance. But it is not God who tempts you, rather your own desire who entices you. - James 1:3 and 1:13-14

Now why God would allow you to give in to temptation? Well, he lets you follow your desire, that's why it's called free will. So I think that falls under proper use.

I can't say much about punishment, although Romans 3:23 mentioned earlier has to do with it. But even believers are not free from discipline and punishment by God in this life.

God disciplines those he loves and punishes those he accepts as his children. - Hebrews 12:6
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Old 2009-09-26, 06:12   Link #2054
Ascaloth
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Originally Posted by Cipher View Post
Yep...Selfishness isn't as negative as you think it is. It results into "good" morality after all.

Yes and no. The fact that its tendency is clear makes it an "automaton". In a sense, its "natural". Just like how TV and air-crafts are "natural".
I see. In effect, you are agreeing with me that "goodness" is really a human construction, instead of being "divine" in nature. Noted.

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(you sound like a lawyer btw.)
Oh, you are not the first, and I don't think you will be the last, to say that of me.
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Old 2009-09-26, 06:32   Link #2055
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I see. In effect, you are agreeing with me that "goodness" is really a human construction, instead of being "divine" in nature. Noted.
I believe that everything originates from divinity and then from there creates *grand* tendencies. The smaller ones are probably left to individual choosing.

I do believe that God has a *grand* plan for the entire humanity, but I don't believe in him using too much "micromanagement". That would contradict too much with why he created "heaven and hell" and why he created our ability to choose.
Quote:
Oh, you are not the first, and I don't think you will be the last, to say that of me.
I may sound like a religious nut-job but... Insha'Allah (May God make that 100%)

Last edited by Cipher; 2009-09-26 at 06:42.
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Old 2009-09-26, 06:50   Link #2056
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but I don't believe in him using too much "micromanagement". That would contradict too much with why he created "heaven and hell" and why he created our ability to choose.
I don't know about the contradiction or level of micromanagement you're thinking of, but as one who believes in the Bible, I do believe God continues to work with his creation. That is why Genesis said God rested on the seventh day, not that he retired.
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Old 2009-09-26, 06:54   Link #2057
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I don't know about the contradiction or level of micromanagement you're thinking of, but as one who believes in the Bible, I do believe God continues to work with his creation. That is why Genesis said God rested on the seventh day, not that he retired.
Hehe, ...I've actually been wondering why you haven't responded quickly enough to this "extreme" and "absurd" statement of mine. Please, read this.

Last edited by Cipher; 2009-09-26 at 07:11.
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Old 2009-09-26, 06:55   Link #2058
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As an aside to all this discussion on the notion of the Social Contract which I find quite fascinating, I find it strangely ironic that it is this very same notion of the ideal Social Contract espoused by both Hobbes and Rosseau where they both seem to be in agreement (to a certain extent at least) that the ideal comes in the form of a strong central government chosen by the people that is for all intents and purposes cannot be challenged when set in place. Hobbes suggested that for anarchy to be avoided, this central government had to be close to being supreme and thus, rights to rebellion and similar rights had to be disallowed, an idea revived and put into popularity by Rosseau.

The irony? It's based on this same notion that certain actions now deemed evil could be perpetrated by the state under the justification that it is the will of the government duly elected by the people. Rosseau even mentions (can't remember where in the Social Contract it is, but he mentions it fairly early) that once the strong government is in place, people can pretty much surrender their rights to the exercise of political will. This is of course, all under the assumption that the general population knew what it was doing in the first place. In that sense maybe Shaw was right, people deserve the government they elect.

The main problem with trying to figure out the origins of good and evil, or morality a more proper term, is that no one can really agree if if there's a single, universal truth to the boundaries and classifications of morality. "Man in the state of nature" is at best a hypothetical existence in man's early days formulated by Hobbes and Rosseau, and Nietzsche tried to make sense of it all in his A Genealogy of Morals. Even though he doesn't exactly take definite sides in his work, it is fairly evident in the writings (which is itself based a lot off of conjectures and deductions, not a lot of it is even based on evidence) that the notion of morality changes. Morality itself is affected and shaped by those in "power" at the time, and can likewise shift again when the position of power changes.

Quote:
The way I see it, "goodness" is simply a social construct, something which has meaning because it is people and society who ascribe the meaning to it, not because it is something "innate" in itself. In other words, from what you've said, does that mean you agree with my viewpoint?
A social construct it is, but as I stated mostly due to the fact that there really isn't a universally accepted truth to morality. One of the aspects of religion was to put a definitive separation and classification to the entire morality play by stating that "God" has the authority to say what is good and what is evil, and thus define what the innate nature of man is. In a sense, religion was an answer to this eternal question of man as to what defines good and evil.

The only way to have a definite end to the argument is to have said Creator come down from the heavens, tell everyone what's cool and what isn't, and smite with bolts of high-level chain lightning the foolish unbelievers.

Oh wait... sounds very much like Moses and the ten commandments...

Religion, at least I know those of the Abrahamic line, have their own versions on the origin of morality most of which of course are scientifically unverifiable obviously. This in turn is where faith again comes in, which returns itself to the original problem: how can you verify truth without evidence?

(For the record of this thread, I'm a devout Roman Catholic.)
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Old 2009-09-26, 08:05   Link #2059
Xrayz0r
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For all those who feel threatened by science's monopoly on truth, there's Hans Georg Gadamer.
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Old 2009-09-26, 08:11   Link #2060
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Originally Posted by MeoTwister5 View Post
A social construct it is, but as I stated mostly due to the fact that there really isn't a universally accepted truth to morality. One of the aspects of religion was to put a definitive separation and classification to the entire morality play by stating that "God" has the authority to say what is good and what is evil, and thus define what the innate nature of man is. In a sense, religion was an answer to this eternal question of man as to what defines good and evil.

The only way to have a definite end to the argument is to have said Creator come down from the heavens, tell everyone what's cool and what isn't, and smite with bolts of high-level chain lightning the foolish unbelievers.

Oh wait... sounds very much like Moses and the ten commandments...

Religion, at least I know those of the Abrahamic line, have their own versions on the origin of morality most of which of course are scientifically unverifiable obviously. This in turn is where faith again comes in, which returns itself to the original problem: how can you verify truth without evidence?

(For the record of this thread, I'm a devout Roman Catholic.)
There are many things that aren't definite other than morality. But what's important is the percentages of each answers, this is really because its so dependent on situations. We *can* accept answers because of its greater tendency towards one way than the other. This doesn't make it definite, what it does is make sense....

Definiteness is a useless argument that lacks practicality.

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For all those who feel threatened by science's monopoly on truth, there's Hans Georg Gadamer.
Please don't present that as direct information, describe it, state your opinions, and we'll state ours----that way, it'll make it more meaningful(that's only my opinion however).
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