Kurieuo wrote:Nils wrote:Page 6 by Kurieuo » Sun Oct 29, 2017 8:19 pm (note that this is local time).
"Now, the question is, for someone who believes in Materialism, why do we have this moral conscience? Given we have the power to ignore it, and do contrary to it, even desensatise ourselves to it, why should we continue listening to it? You can't say because it is "good" or "honourable" to do so, for it is neither more good and honourable that a lion kills off another lion to protect its territory and pack. It just is the way of nature. If humans are the way of nature too, nature is all there is, then why should we transcend nature, even think we can do so, if indeed nature is all there is? Unless we can transcend the natural order, then there is no more good or honourable, just perhaps something like survival and a protective instinct when it comes to one's way of life."
Why we have this moral conscience is clear, because it is beneficial to our society. To me it is good and honourable to work for my family and other persons to give them a good life. As a materialist I have no wish to transcend natural order.
- First, I can picture how not having a moral conscience is also beneficial for society (it often works in the animal kingdom, of which human sentience is apparently the latest development). Please give an example of how it is beneficial to society, where the opposite wouldn't be just as beneficial or moreso?
It seems that you are thinking that there is a big difference between instincts and conscience. To me it is just a matter of degree. An instinct makes the animal mother not to eat her offspring and it is the same to the human mother but she can also consciously reflect about what she has learnt about what you should or shouldn't do. This makes it possible to widen the morality outside the family to a bigger group and to a society. In that process I think a conscious conscience is useful. It's a way to make intuitive what you are feeling and have learnt.
However note that my last sentence is only a speculation. The human brain is extremely complex with hundreds (at least) processes going on in parallel so it's certainly risky to try describe psychological features.
Second, it seems to me you may be defining what is "good" or "honourable" by that which is "beneficial to society", or does what is "beneficial to family" take a higher priority? Nonetheless, I disagree. It does not seem to me when we call someone good or honourable that we simply mean they're doing what is beneficial to society or family.
To be a bit more explicit: I think that the base is the feelings of how I want to be treated. That I transfer to my family, my friends, neighbours, etc to my fellow citizens and all people. I assume that they generally want what I want and I that acting morally is to treat them as I want to be treated. (The golden rule). This is supported by the neurological emphatic system that helps us to understand how other persons feel. (Again, this is very sketchy).
But I agree that when we call someone good we don't simply mean that "they're doing what is beneficial to society or family". It's more complicated than that. We all think that there is a moral rule of conduct or a moral law and that is what we refer to when we talk about morality. The difference between a theist and a materialist is that the former can refer directly to the Bible where the moral law is stated - for instance in the commandments. To a materialist it is more complicated. We have to explain why there is a need of a moral rule and how to create it for instance by referring to the usefulness to society. But that explanation we don't use in the everyday talk. In fact, I don't think many materialists have ever thought about a need to explain morality.
For example, if we take China's one child policy (now two), then it is good and honourable for a woman who gives birth to a child beyond their "child quota" to dash their baby against rocks. Or, should a society need to increase in number, then it is good and honourable for women to dedicate themselves to birthing lots of babies. If these examples, which I came up with quickly off the top of my head, aren't satisfactory to demonstrate that what is good and honourable isn't necessarily that which is beneficial to society, then I'm sure many examples can be produced from history where Marxist beliefs once reigned.
"Honourable" is perhaps not the best word when describing morality. Honour cultures emphasises honour perhaps too much which causes murder of daughters that socialise with wrong men. (We have had a few cases in Sweden among immigrants from The Middle East).
But honour culture apparently serves some purpose in the original environment.
Regarding the Chines woman it is too much to ask a mother to kill her own child to implement a nation-wide birth control program. There are better methods. But the question is not only theoretical. Jared Diamond in his book Collaps (highly recommended if you are interested in anthropology) describes the society on the small isolated island Tikopia in south east Pacific (relatively close to you). On about five square kilometres a population of about 1200 persons have lived for 3000 years without any possibility to get support from outside. To them it was critical to limit the population size and one method among others was killing babies if there were too many. Can we blame them? Was that wrong?
Third, it remains to be seen how you are not transcending the natural order when you label behaviour, which is otherwise quite natural in terms of any other animal species, as not "good" or not "honourable" when it comes to human species.
I am sorry, I am not certain about what you mean. Please give an example.
I have noticed that you think that C. S. Lewis' book Mere Christianity is of interest. I have now started to read the first chapters again. (The Doodle Youtubes are amusing but I prefer reading the book. It's easier to follow the arguments in a book).
One important point is in chapter three (page 19 in my edition) where he tries to prove that a position like mine is false:
"Now, of course, it is perfectly true that safety and happiness can only come from individuals, classes, and nations being honest and fair and kind to each other. It is one of the most important truths in the world. But as an explanation of why we feel as we do about Right and Wrong it just misses the point. If we ask: "Why ought I to be unselfish?" and you reply "Because it is good for society," we may then ask, "Why should I care what's good for society except when it happens to pay me personally?" and then you will have to say, "Because you ought to be unselfish"—which simply brings us back to where we started."
But there are better answers then the final "Because you ought to be unselfish":
- You will probably feel better if you are not selfish because evolution has made us such.
- If you are acting selfish other persons may notice that and dislike you.
- In cases where you need help other persons may refuse helping you or your near.
- You may miss the opportunity to be able to say that you contributed to a better society, which in the long run is very nice to you.
So there is no circularity.
Nils wrote:PS How do I get the exact "start" number in the links? The link is now pointing at the start of the page not to the actual post. I would be nice to have the posts numbered so one can use them for reference.
It would be a good feature, and one many non-phpBB boards support. Today, people use all other sorts of technology, social media and the like, such that boards are lesser utilised. So rather than switch to another board which has many more features, which has also been discussed here and there in the past, we may ride out this board until it just fades out. My statements here represent my opinion and feelings only, and not the opinion of any other moderator here, nor direction this board might take in future.
I was not complaining, I was only asking. In some case you have links that refer to a specific post, not only to the page head. Is there a clever method to find out the post number or do you count manually?
Besides, asking questions, where do I change the language of the spelling check of the comment field? Currently it uses Swedish, not so useful on this forum. I tried to find it on my personal file but didn't find it.