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#510834 - 07/17/03 09:32 PM Re: aliens and christianity.
Joe Zabel Offline
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Registered: 11/23/98
Posts: 2546
Loc: Cleveland Heights, OH 44106
My apologies, Charles-- As a check I took the passage you cited into a text editor and did a find on 'moral' and nothing showed up, but I must've made a typo in the process. I should have exercised greater care (in all seriousness).

Actually, I read over your passage a couple of times, genuinely curious to find something that contradicted my earlier statements.

Of course, it wasn't at all clear what about my previously stated position you were disagreeing with, only that:
Quote:
Neither you nor Joe, evidently, knows what you're talking about. Can I get a witness? How about The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy


Well, this must be something else embedded in the quoted passage. For the life of me I can't find anything in there that justifies the statement that I and the other party know nothing whatsoever about the topic of morality. Is it a well-founded principle of philosophy that having lived a life with other people is completely irrelevant to having an understanding of morality?

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That Jeaoure suggests intentional pursuit is the main point of a section entitled "Goodness and the question of ends" can only be interpreted as willful casuistry, remedial reading skills, or a blinkered reactionary position, unwilling to concede the most minor of points...


Why is it necessary to engage in personal attacks just because Jeaoure disagrees with you? Is cruelty a necessary ingredient in the good and moral life?

As far as his reading skills go, he certainly read your post more carefully than I did!

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Note, that a pursuit (not the intention to pursue, I might add, but the pursuit) will be good only insofar as it is for a good end/state/outcome.


Since you use the phrase 'for a good end/state/outcome' and not the phrase 'resulting in a good end/state/outcome', presumably you are talking about a hypothetical outcome, not the actual outcome. What distinction is there, then, between the outcome you refer to and the intended outcome?

Assuming the meaning of 'pursuit' in this context is:
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2 : to find or employ measures to obtain or accomplish : SEEK


--how can you engage in a pursuit without having intention?
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#510835 - 07/18/03 09:12 AM Re: aliens and christianity.
Charles Reece Offline
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Registered: 08/18/99
Posts: 10013
Loc: us of fuckin' a
Joe, I didnít go back and search for whatever definitions you provided (and that was a couple of weeks ago, so they werenít fresh on my mind). Instead, I directly responded to Jesseís current claim regarding those definitions:

Quote:
To attribute morality to an event or circumstance is a misapplication of the word "morality." Morality, as the definitions Joe provided point out, pertains to intents, not results. Harmful events are not "immoral"; they're merely tragic.


Thatís why I said neither he nor you, ďevidently,Ē knows what youíre talking about. Iíve now proved that the history of moral philosophy sees ends as being moral or immoral. I even went as far as talking with my friend working on his dissertation in philosophy after I posted that definition, and he says you guys donít know what youíre talking about. (That is only to say it's not me that's misinterpreting that passage from Cambridge).) I donít know what else I could do outside of finding a standard philosophical reference which quotes the posts in this thread and then explicitly argues against them. (Maybe I could get John E. Williams to ask his dad, who's a professional moral philosopher, but that probably wouldn't mean much to Jeaoure.) If youíre now claiming that morality is more than intention, then fine, but thatís not what you were saying a few weeks ago to the best of my memory. (If you were saying it was more than intentionality, then you weren't arguing with me at the time.) I certainly know thatís not what the fundamentalists were saying, for theyíre still saying itís all intention. How do you talk about moral ends if itís all intention? Answer, plain and simple: you canít! Thatís why Jesse comes up with his goofy definition of tragedy, as if immoral ends had nothing to do with making certain intentions immoral. (Itís simply dumb to say the death of Jews was tragic, only the intention to gas them was immoral. If the gassing didn't cause death, it wouldnít be near as ďtragicĒ would it? Not to mention, the Nazis would've intended to use some other more effective means to bring about the "tragic" death of the Jews. I trust the sophistry in Jesse's ad hoc definition is readily apparent.)

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Since you use the phrase 'for a good end/state/outcome' and not the phrase 'resulting in a good end/state/outcome', presumably you are talking about a hypothetical outcome, not the actual outcome. What distinction is there, then, between the outcome you refer to and the intended outcome?


Well, the former is the probable outcome and/or, if good, the outcome we should pursue (an Ďoughtí), whereas the latter is the actual outcome we've pursued (an Ďisí). (I tease some of this out in my example of knowledge as a moral end.) Furthermore, a moral principle isnít an intention, itís only an intention to follow the moral principle ("don't kill innocents" doesn't say what you do intend, but what you should intend, the intention being moral only if it follows the principle). Saying all morality is intentional entails that moral principles are not themselves moral. Thatís patently absurd and I should think pretty obvious as to why.

As for cruelty, I donít see any other option as to why Jeaoure would insist on saying that section is about intentionality. Itís explicitly not about intentionality, but about ends. I tend to think heís just unwilling to concede any point, however minor (the third possibility). Yíall can continue to think morality is just intentionality, but Iím siding with the philosophical tradition (mainly because it obviously makes more sense than your position does).

Intentionality is definitely part of morality (cf. Kant), it's just not all of it (also cf. Kant).
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#510836 - 07/18/03 09:19 AM Re: aliens and christianity.
Fufu Offline
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Registered: 05/23/03
Posts: 223
Now look who's back from the dead! It's the "aliens and christianity"-thread!
...resurrected by the evil necromancer Jesse.
Sorry, but I really don't have the time and inclination to go over all of your remarks, since for the most part that would only lead to repeating what already has been said various times on this thread.
But here's what I have to say:

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Originally posted by Jesse Hamm:

quote:
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Jesse: Dawkins himself would tell you that evolution is unintentional and
undesigned.

Fufu: How do you know what Dawkins would say? Well, I don't, but I seriously doubt he would say anything in favor of your point.

Jesse: A familiarity with his thinking is how I know what he would say. In his book River Out of Eden, Dawkins states: "The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design,
no purpose ... nothing but blind pitiless indifference."
------------------------------------------------------------------------


Yeah, and I think he's right. I don't really understand what you're aiming at. It seems kind of bizarre to try to disprove the theory of evolution (or Memetics) by giving a quote that actually supports it. I'm not calling into question that evolution is unintentional and undesigned, I'm doubting that our own thoughts and feelings are independent and not a product of that selfsame unintentional and undesigned (but nevertheless chaotic and unpredictable) process.
Plus, the theory of Memetic evolution was first introduced in Dawkins' own book "The Selfish Gene", and he still supports it, for example he wrote the foreword to Susan Blackmore's "The Meme Machine". So I still doubt he'd say anything that supports your point.


Quote:
Originally posted by Jesse Hamm:

quote:
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Jesse: our thoughts and their communication are clearly neither unintentional nor without design. The spread of ideas is therefore not analogous to evolutionary theory.

Fufu: Modern psychology and brain research has come up with serious doubts if something like an "intentional thought" even exists.

Jesse: I already demonstrated repeatedly that this notion is self-refuting. For one, determinism and/or materialism would rule out the possibility of objective thought, trapping us in a subjective prison of biological influences. Second, if intent did not exist, we could not have invented any notion of it. Intent is inconceivable to intentionless mechanisms, like images are to an eyeless worm.
But even if our thoughts were intentionless, their communication is clearly designed. This entire thread is composed of communications designed by the participants. Since organisms aren't said to design their evolution (see
Dawkins: "no design"), your analogy between communication and evolution is false.
------------------------------------------------------------------------


Again, I find it strange that you tray to refute what I say buy pointing to a thinker who supports it...
And I do not see why the notion I stated is self-refuting. As far as I can see it is only refuting notions that seem to be essential to your world-view and which you therefore can't get past.
I don't believe in absolutely objective thought. I do, however, think that evolution has provided us with a quite efficient apparatus of senses and cognitive organs that allows us to construct a pretty good virtual model of the meso-cosmos surrounding us and determine ways of acting in it that lets us survive for as long as possible. This may well mean were livig in a "subjective prison of biological influences." The illusion of intent is very well conceivable by a process devoid of intent if that illusion is advantageous for an evolving system.
No self-refutation here.
The second part of your reply proves that you don't or don't want to understand what this is all about. Our ability and drive to communicate is also a product of the interaction of memetic and genetic co-evolution, the genes providing the organic and behavioural framework and the memes being the content of communication.
No need for design here.

Quote:
Originally posted by Jesse Hamm:

quote:
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Fufu: Any ideology pretending to be in the possession of "The Truth" immanently delivers easy justification for punishing unbelievers. ... It is our job to figure out what system of beliefs is the most reasonable and gets
closest to what might be called "the truth".

Jesse: Now that's scary.
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Note that I said "...gets closest to the truth" and not "IS the truth". And I really don't understand what's so scary about admitting that it is impossible to KNOW the absolute truth about the universe... but on the other hand, given how desperate many people are to have a faith that tells them what's good and what's evil, who's the lord and what's going to happen when you die... I think I actually do understand why that scares you.


Quote:
Originally posted by Jesse Hamm:

quote:
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Fufu: it doesn't make sense to treat Christianity and atheism as equal ideologies, like you would Capitalism and Communism, because the former is a specific system of beliefs, whereas the latter is by definition not an ideological claim but actually the negation thereof.

Jesse: The negation of a claim can be as consequential as a belief in that claim. The negation of the Jews' right to live is far less ideologically complex than a positive affirmation of the Jewish faith; that doesn't make said negation less dangerous. Similarly, your admitted disbelief in the concept of evil throws the doors wide open to all kinds of unsavory behavior.
------------------------------------------------------------------------


Your pairing of antagonizing ideologies speaks for itself.
So is the contrary of positive affirmation of the christian faith wanting to kill all christians?
This shows how far the christian dualism of good and evil has permeated your thinking.
I for one am sick of hearing over and over again that denying that ultimate transcendental moral values exist automatically leads to mayhem and chaos. And I think this notion results from an ignorance of the history of philosophy. (see Charles' latest mails)

Quote:
Originally posted by Jesse Hamm:

quote:
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Fufu: the bible is far from being the only origin of today's christian movements; most of christian theology was ripped off from Platon between 300 and 1000 a.d. and from Aristotle during the middleages.

Jesse: Interesting assertions. Any proof?

Fufu: Ask any theologian (he'd probably say "influenced by" instead of "ripped off").

Jesse: Sorry; I've read plenty of theologians who would say your assertion is incredibly ignorant.
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quote:
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Fufu: The writings of Augustine ... are heavily influenced by Plato and the
scholastic philosophy of St. Thomas of Aquinas builds on the writings of Aristotle. The Hebrews didn't provide a very strong metaphysical heritage, so christianity adapted many of thedeeper notions about god from the "pagans".

Jesse: Ibid.
------------------------------------------------------------------------


OK, this is from the "Catholic Encyclopedia" (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/)

"II. THE SCHOLASTIC PERIOD

The period extending from the beginning of Christian speculation to the time of St. Augustine, inclusive, is known as the Patristic era in philosophy and theology. In general, that era inclined to Platonism and underestimated the importance of Aristotle. The Fathers strove to construct on Platonic principles a system of Christian philosophy.
...
The taking of Constantinople in 1204, the introduction of Arabian, Jewish, and Greek works into the Christian schools, the rise of the universities, and the foundation of the mendicant orders -- these are the events which led to the extraordinary intellectual activity of the thirteenth century, which centered in the University of Paris. At first there was considerable confusion, and it seemed as if the battles won in the twelfth century by the dialecticians should be fought over again. The translations of Aristotle made from the Arabian and accompanied by Arabian commentaries were tinged with Pantheism, Fatalism, and other Neoplatonic errors. Even in the Christian schools there were declared Pantheists, like David of Dinant, and outspoken Averroists, like Siger of Brabant, who bade fair to prejudice the cause of Aristoteleanism.
...

III. THE SCHOLASTIC METHOD
...
A. Theology and Philosophy

Christian thinkers, from the beginning, were confronted with the question: How are we to reconcile reason with revelation, science with faith, philosophy with theology? The first apologists possessed no philosophy of their own. They had to deal with a pagan world proud of its literature and its philosophy, ready at any moment to flaunt its inheritance of wisdom in the face of ignorant Christians. The apologists met the situation by a theory that was as audacious as it must have been disconcerting to the pagans. They advanced the explanation that all the wisdom of Plato and the other Greeks was due to the inspiration of the Logos; that it was God's truth, and, therefore, could not be in contradiction with the supernatural revelation contained in the Gospels. It was a hypothesis calculated not only to silence a pagan opponent, but also to work constructively."

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#510837 - 07/18/03 10:11 AM Re: aliens and christianity.
Charles Reece Offline
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Registered: 08/18/99
Posts: 10013
Loc: us of fuckin' a
Don't have much to add to FuFu's post. The influence of Plato and Aristotle on Christian thought is well-established. (It's in part due to the Christians that so much of their thought remains intact; God bless 'em.) For example St. Anselm was clearly a Platonist (his famous argument doesn't work very well without his Platonism), and St. Thomas continually referred to Aristotle as "The Philosopher."

Don't much like memes, but I don't see determinism as self-refuting, either. If it were, I wouldn't have to continually have to put up with it among my friends. Given what we know of biology and neuroscience and physics and the methodologies we have for studying those subjects, it's actually people who believe in true free will that are always on the defensive. It's easy to see why; a self-causative agent is much more difficult to argue for than a causative chain. Nonetheless, I still buy into the notion of the Existentialists and the Libertarians that we are capable of making an undetermined choice. I'd call that faith, though.
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#510838 - 07/18/03 06:14 PM Re: aliens and christianity.
Joe Zabel Offline
Member

Registered: 11/23/98
Posts: 2546
Loc: Cleveland Heights, OH 44106
Quote:
Charles: Joe, I didnít go back and search for whatever definitions you provided (and that was a couple of weeks ago, so they werenít fresh on my mind). Instead, I directly responded to Jesseís current claim regarding those definitions:

To attribute morality to an event or circumstance is a misapplication of the word "morality." Morality, as the definitions Joe provided point out, pertains to intents, not results. Harmful events are not "immoral"; they're merely tragic.


Charles, I guess we're even; I claimed that your quote never used the word 'moral,' and I was obviously wrong. You included me in your attack on Jesse, without checking what I'd originally said, and that was obviously reckless.

I'm not sure if this is what Jesse is referring to:

Quote:
'Moral', from Merian-Webster Online
1 a : of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior : ETHICAL b : expressing or teaching a conception of right behavior c : conforming to a standard of right behavior d : sanctioned by or operative on one's conscience or ethical judgment e : capable of right and wrong action


--but if so, it would seem to contradict both of you, because the author consistently links morality with behavior. Of course, developing an intent is a specimen of internal behavior. But I think one traditionally makes a distinction between the behavior and the result of that behavior; a dead body is not the behavior of the murderer, it's a separate product.

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Itís simply dumb to say the death of Jews was tragic, only the intention to gas them was immoral.


I would say rather that the behavior of gassing them was immoral.

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If the gassing didn't cause death, it wouldnít be near as ďtragicĒ would it?


No, but the behavior of attempting to gas them would be equally immoral.

Quote:
Not to mention, the Nazis would've intended to use some other more effective means to bring about the "tragic" death of the Jews.


This only seems to support linking the intention and the behavior to morality, rather than the results. If the intention is present, the results will likely come about sooner or later.

If somebody points a gun at you and pulls the trigger, and the gun happens to jam, are you going to be less condemnatory towards the gunman than you would be if he put a bullet in your chest? There would certainly be no rational reason for you to regard his behavior differently.

My view of morality differs from Jeaoure's and Jesse's in two ways, assuming I understand them.

1) Their standard of what is moral and immoral is based on the bible. My standard is based on the likely outcome of behavior. I begin with an assumption that all life and especially human life is valuable, and that human freedom and happiness are valuable; of course, I also assume that death is inevitable and killing is necessary, and that freedom must be curbed in some ways to allow for a greater freedom for all (to briefly summarize!) The principles I adhere to, such as being truthful, are supported by me because of my understanding of how they relate to outcomes.

2) They seem to be much more concerned than I am with the possibility of immoral thoughts. I think that to judge thoughts is to infringe on our most important freedom; but I concede that some thoughts are immoral, because they are quite likely to lead to immoral actions. Immoral behavior must, it seems, be preceded by immoral intentions.
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#510839 - 07/18/03 07:27 PM Re: aliens and christianity.
Charles Reece Offline
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Registered: 08/18/99
Posts: 10013
Loc: us of fuckin' a
Joe,

There's nothing in that definition that contradicts what I've said. I've been arguing very specifically that intentionality is not all there is to morality. What I quoted from Cambridge is but one section of over 3 pages of definitions. My sampling of it wasn't intended on being inclusive. I've not claimed, nor would I, that behavior isn't involved in morality (in fact, the quote does bring up "right action"). Behavior can be moral or immoral based on the ends towards which it's directed or leads and the principles on which it's based (or isn't based). Neither the ends nor the principles are intentional, but they do guide and help us evaluate the morality of the intentions behind the behavior. I think that's all I really want to say about this issue. If you're still having a problem with my position, we'll just leave it as a irreconcilable difference. Salaam.
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#510840 - 07/18/03 07:32 PM Re: aliens and christianity.
Charles Reece Offline
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Registered: 08/18/99
Posts: 10013
Loc: us of fuckin' a
My first attempt didn't show up, but it did once I attempted to post a second time. The foundation of this thread is getting shakey, I suspect.
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#510841 - 07/18/03 08:38 PM Re: aliens and christianity.
Joe Zabel Offline
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Registered: 11/23/98
Posts: 2546
Loc: Cleveland Heights, OH 44106
Ok, Charles.

If anyone wants to post more to this thread, I strongly suggest starting an 'Aliens and Christianity 2'. I agree with Charles that this thread is becoming unstable, probably because of the sheer number of messages.
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