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  1. #1
    Senior Member UniqueMixture's Avatar
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    Default moral dualism vs. yin/yang

    It seems like many people in life tend to view people, events, and actions in black and white moral terms (ie things are either good or evil with no in between). Personally the philosophy of moral holism appeals to me greatly. Seeing things not in terms of good and evil, but as part of a larger process that requires each contradictory "flow" within it to be sustainable. What do you guys think about this?
    For all that we have done, as a civilization, as individuals, the universe is not stable, and nor is any single thing within it. Stars consume themselves, the universe itself rushes apart, and we ourselves are composed of matter in constant flux. Colonies of cells in temporary alliance, replicating and decaying and housed within, an incandescent cloud of electrical impulses. This is reality, this is self knowledge, and the perception of it will, of course, make you dizzy.

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    Senior Member Nicodemus's Avatar
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    I think it is yet another pair of perception glasses. If it makes you happy, wear it.

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    I think it's meaningless babble and irrelevant to any interesting ethical problems.
    A criticism that can be brought against everything ought not to be brought against anything.

  4. #4

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    The yin/yang concept emotionally appeals to me. I have a sense that this concept is a better description of what happens in the world. To me, emotions are to ethical issues, what the senses are to matters of physical existence. In this way, I think books like the I Ching can help bring all the relevant emotions of a situation to mind.

    However, when I need to act, I can either do or not do something. For this, I crave a moral calculus of some sort. Unfortunately, I have yet to find or devise such a thing.

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  5. #5

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    Well, if we go with the idea that each person is part of a greater whole - of the "all that is" - then everyone is inherently part of both "good" and "evil." We each play our own tiny part in the whole of existence. With that in mind, is Charles Manson's left pinky toe evil?

    On another level, Morality is a construct of man (some would argue God) loosely based on principles that used to promote the survival of the species. e.g. do not kill. With the apparent success of the species, the needs have changed a bit. Perhaps that's why as the population grows we, at the "molecular" level, see a "decline" in morality.

    I think it's all part of a greater whole and looking at one infinitesimal piece can be misleading (e.g. The pinky toe).

  6. #6
    Senior Member UniqueMixture's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicodemus View Post
    I think it is yet another pair of perception glasses. If it makes you happy, wear it.
    How do you experience ethics Nicole? I am genuinely curious. I think I have some grasp on the logical underpinnings of where you're coming from, but do you find it has an effect on affect? As I've noted for myself before thinking in deterministic ways about people/morality tends to negatively impact my affect. I know part of this is because of my religious background, but for me viewing life in terms of a battle for survival tends to keep me operating in an "emotionally low" space that impacts my function. I wish the "spiritualists" would value science/determinism more so we could directly deal with systemic error in affect (which is how I view the waves function of phenotypical mood expression in populations), but I wish the scientists/rationalists would allow themselves to connect with the irrational positive symbology we all have within us that I believe is correlated to basic emotionally charged experiences in childhood which are encoded in image-sound-tactile-smell-tastes before we learned to partition experience with language.

    Quote Originally Posted by reason View Post
    I think it's meaningless babble and irrelevant to any interesting ethical problems.
    Such as? I think ignoring moral problems by describing them as inherently evil so that individuals/groups feel no sense of indentity with those who behave in non-prosocial ways is much more boring. I mean shouldn't it be obvious that if you apply stress to a system (even the human body) that energy has to go somewhere and if it is not handled in a responsible way that allows for diffusion of the energy in positive outlets over time it will impair functioning for both the individual (who begins to act in non-prosocial ways and reaps negative consequences) and society (who has to now deal with the behavior)?
    For all that we have done, as a civilization, as individuals, the universe is not stable, and nor is any single thing within it. Stars consume themselves, the universe itself rushes apart, and we ourselves are composed of matter in constant flux. Colonies of cells in temporary alliance, replicating and decaying and housed within, an incandescent cloud of electrical impulses. This is reality, this is self knowledge, and the perception of it will, of course, make you dizzy.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Nicodemus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UniqueMixture View Post
    How do you experience ethics Nicole? I am genuinely curious.
    Today I experience most of what is called ethics as a tedious exercise in rationalization.

    Quote Originally Posted by UniqueMixture View Post
    I think I have some grasp on the logical underpinnings of where you're coming from, but do you find it has an effect on affect?
    I believe it is possible to train one's brain to change, though not fundamentally, the way it reacts to certain stimuli. Ethics is one means to determine the direction in which to change and, if studied for a significant amount of time, probably even a means to train said reactions. I suppose physical practice is more effective, though.

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    Senior Member UniqueMixture's Avatar
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    Fair enough. I agree with you to a large extent. I guess I feel a sense that 1) it is something within my power to change and 2) a sense of responsibility to do so. I'm an optimist though and I still hold out hope for the unification of humanity/sentience while at the same time recognizing that on some level it is an attempt to try to control my mortality by reproducing my "information"/patterns.
    For all that we have done, as a civilization, as individuals, the universe is not stable, and nor is any single thing within it. Stars consume themselves, the universe itself rushes apart, and we ourselves are composed of matter in constant flux. Colonies of cells in temporary alliance, replicating and decaying and housed within, an incandescent cloud of electrical impulses. This is reality, this is self knowledge, and the perception of it will, of course, make you dizzy.

  9. #9
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    I cant be arsed thinking about it. Regardless of what my moral stance Is, others will differ, and that will always be a cause or conflict within society. I can know my own preferences but I cant force them upon others so my preferences (or morals) are applicable only to me and my conduct. From that stance it hardly matters whether morals are genuinely believed to be dualistic or holistic in nature.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by UniqueMixture View Post
    It seems like many people in life tend to view people, events, and actions in black and white moral terms (ie things are either good or evil with no in between). Personally the philosophy of moral holism appeals to me greatly. Seeing things not in terms of good and evil, but as part of a larger process that requires each contradictory "flow" within it to be sustainable. What do you guys think about this?
    The only social system where this is applicable that i can think of, is in Terry Prachette's fictional Ankh-Morpork under Vetinari's rule within the DiscWorld series, where the thief guild have a licensed quota, a person can only be robbed a limited number of times a month, and the assassins & murderers have paperwork to fill...

    i can't think of any real world example of social structures or ethical systems that actually comes close.

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