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Dustin Baker
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On 2008-05-09 18:54, GlenD wrote:
There are no knowable absolutes... Are you absolutely certain?

HA! I had a professor that tried to feed me that trash, I responded with exactly what you have here. He stopped talking, stared straight forward, and just stood there.

He also told us that "No one is wrong, because everyone has a different perspective."
I answered, "My perspective disagrees with yours."
"That's fine." he said.
"So you're wrong then."
"No. No one is wrong." He repeated
"My perspective says that since our perspectives disagree and couldn't possibly co-exist, you must logically be wrong, since I believe mine to be right - or it wouldn't be mine in the first place."
"That's a very close minded view. It's much better to be open minded." he replied.
"My perspective thinks that being open minded is overrated. Secondly, isn't it rather close minded of you to assume that being open minded is inherently better?"
He did that whole stare at the wall thing again.
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Magnus Eisengrim
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Dustin, you must have gone to a really bad college.

John
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.--Yeats
stoneunhinged
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Just as I said in the other thread: certainty is an impossibly high standard.

(The word "absolute" is completely inappropriate for discussing moral ethics.)

The better question is whether there are ethical truths which are applicable to human beings as human beings and which are not relative to time or culture. I think there are, and I think I could convince the vast majority of you that there are--but I would need to sit with you in a bar and have a few hours at my disposal. I even think I could convince Payne.

All it requires is the simple step of moving from the rather obvious statement that it I smash a hammer on my hand laid flat on the table, it would hurt and cause damage and be ungood for me, to the less obvious statement that moral ungoodness can also hurt and cause damage to individuals and societies, and that some kinds of moral ungoodness are ungood for all human beings as human beings, i.e., not particular human beings in a particular time or place or culture.

It should be obvious why the word "absolute" doesn't apply here: some people, due to genetic deficiency or training or whatever, can smash their hand with a hammer without doing damage. The precision of physical laws--like that of gravity--cannot be reached in moral ethics. But neither can it be reached in psychology or sociology or history or any other of the sciences we have dealing with human behavior. Aristotle, of course, pointed out 2,500 years ago.

But this failing precision does not prove that the study is not valuable. Polling sometimes gets an election prediction all wrong. Polling also is fairly consistent and reliable--it works VERY well. It just doesn't work as well as astronomy or physics, because human beings are involved.

The problem is that any study of moral ethics--or, just for fun (though I'm not at all kidding), moral science--is that we move into an even more difficult level of precision. But I am thoroughly convinced that to infer from this difficulty of precision that all moral opinions are relative and logically untenable or purely subjective or otherwise "just" mere opinion is ridiculous. (And I chose that last word with care: it's worthy of ridicule.) Just because we in the west have given up on the study of moral science does not mean it cannot teach us.

Otherwise very intelligent people will look me in the face and say the most stupid things when defending their relativism. They won't have read a single philosophic text in their entire life. Their opinion, in this regard, is based not on studies done in college or graduate school or further studies, but on what some junior high school teacher convinced them of.

But: I have yet to meet a single person who would defend the Holocaust.

(Just thought I'd bring Hitler into it. This is the internet after all. Rules applie. Smile)

Obviously this subject bothers me. But I ain't gonna convince anyone on the Café. Wrong forum for this kind of brain work.
stoneunhinged
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Sorry about that post. Way too long. Sometimes I get carried away. I should have posted this:

One time my wife said, "there is no such thing as truth."

So I slapped her.
Payne
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I accept that there are "moral" standards that can be generally accepted as "truths". Sets of "moral" or proper behaviors that are agreed upon by society to be beneficial to the population at large.
It's only the concept of absolute moral truths that I object to. They could very well exist and perhaps someday we could figure out a way to determine what they might be. but for right now they are unknowable and can only be speculated at, at least on this plane of existence.
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
Doug Higley
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What if what you think are moral absolutes don't mesh with what someone else thinks are moral absolutes?

Good questions all Payne (as usual)

But I don't give a rats *** what anybody else's absolutes are. I am responsible for only mine and I have only one...The Golden Rule. If I break it (even by accident,) I accept the outcome. I am not greedy and know when I have thoughts of such and when to back off...I am not vindictive...I do not always have to win (especially when it violates the Golden Rule).

What anybody else thinks or does is out of my circle of influence. While I treat anyone with that rule, I don't treat everyone based on their response. (i.e.: Some people can just kiss my ***.)

D
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Dustin Baker
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On 2008-05-09 23:38, Magnus Eisengrim wrote:
Dustin, you must have gone to a really bad college.

John


Okay? Did you want to add something relevant?

The story mirrors similar ones from colleges all over the country. Professors teach ludicrous garbage because it’s part of their personal agenda.

By the way, I forgot to mention that it was English 221 (aka “Advanced Composition”)? Why are we talking about the professor’s philosophical views in a composition class?
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Magnus Eisengrim
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Quote:
On 2008-05-10 07:27, Dustin Baker wrote:
Quote:
On 2008-05-09 23:38, Magnus Eisengrim wrote:
Dustin, you must have gone to a really bad college.

John


Okay? Did you want to add something relevant?

The story mirrors similar ones from colleges all over the country. Professors teach ludicrous garbage because it’s part of their personal agenda.

By the way, I forgot to mention that it was English 221 (aka “Advanced Composition”)? Why are we talking about the professor’s philosophical views in a composition class?


OK. I'll modify my comment. If your story accurately reflects your professor's comments, (s)he was philosophically incompetent.
John
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.--Yeats
Magnus Eisengrim
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On 2008-05-10 02:15, stoneunhinged wrote:
Sorry about that post. Way too long. Sometimes I get carried away. I should have posted this:

One time my wife said, "there is no such thing as truth."

So I slapped her.


Jeff, this is the first time I've found one of your comments painful to read. Not funny on this guy's monitor.

John
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.--Yeats
Steve_Mollett
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>"Professors teach ludicrous garbage because it’s part of their personal agenda."

Acidic comments like that reflect a dogmatic agenda on the part of the speaker. Beware of philosophical thin ice. Smile
Author of: GARROTE ESCAPES
The absurd is the essential concept and the first truth.
- Albert Camus
stoneunhinged
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Quote:
On 2008-05-10 09:39, Magnus Eisengrim wrote:
Quote:
On 2008-05-10 02:15, stoneunhinged wrote:
Sorry about that post. Way too long. Sometimes I get carried away. I should have posted this:

One time my wife said, "there is no such thing as truth."

So I slapped her.


Jeff, this is the first time I've found one of your comments painful to read. Not funny on this guy's monitor.

John


Yeah, maybe the humor in it isn't funny. Sorry. But I still think it makes the point that there is a very wide gulf between the professed relativism of so many people and their actual beliefs. People claim to believe in moral relativism in the Right or Wrong forum all the time, yet none of them would publicly profess to their approval of wife beating.

This form of humor (bad or not) is very old. I was actually making an admittedly very oblique reference to Aristophanes' Clouds. In that play, not wife beating but beating one's father is symbolic of how philosophy corrupts young people.

John, next time I'll just cite Aristophanes and save you some pain.

And Payne, once more I think you and I are on just about the same wavelength.

Doug, I've said it before and I'll say it again: in my estimation, your posts are the closest on the Café to approximating wisdom. Maybe you aren't as wise as I think, but you sure seem that way.

Jeff
Doug Higley
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I am wise beyond my means...whatever that means. Smile

Besides, wisdom is just a matter of paying attention.

Thank you for reading.
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stoneunhinged
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On 2008-05-10 15:31, Doug Higley wrote:
Besides, wisdom is just a matter of paying attention.


See, that's my point. That sentence is worth more that 17 university degrees. It gives me goosebumps.

I'm very thankful to have met you at the Café.

Jeff
Dustin Baker
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On 2008-05-10 09:38, Magnus Eisengrim wrote:
OK. I'll modify my comment. If your story accurately reflects your professor's comments, (s)he was philosophically incompetent.
John

Ah, now that we can agree on.

By the way, I'd like to apologize for the way I worded my previous post. It was written hastily, and upon reading it again I see that it’s rather snippy.
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Dustin Baker
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Quote:
On 2008-05-10 15:31, Doug Higley wrote:
Besides, wisdom is just a matter of paying attention.


BAM!!! That's the big one folks!
As I've said before Doug, "The more posts of yours I read, the more I wish I had said it first."

A wise man once said, "I am not a genius, but I have what is most commonly confused with genius - an accute understanding of the obvious."
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Patrick Differ
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Faced with choices of this nature, I don't try to think of an answer, I don't try to reason out and answer, and I don't even try to quantify an answer.

The answer just comes to me. I know the difference between right and wrong because I can feel it.
Will you walk into my parlour? said the Spider to the Fly,
Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I've a many curious things to show when you are there.

Oh no, no, said the little Fly, to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair
-can ne'er come down again.
stoneunhinged
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The answer just comes to me. I know the difference between right and wrong because I can feel it.


ANOTHER BORING RANT

The word "ethics" is pretty interesting. Originally it meant something like "habit" or "behavior" as in, "Hey that guy likes to bet on the horses." That's his ethos.

Later this developed into something like "manners". Someone might have the habit of giving freely to friends or the poor, for example. So the Greeks would have said that a generous person had the ethos of generosity.

Then the philosophers came along. Socrates challenged everyone (if the sources are at all accurate), Plato got all metaphysical and everything, and ARISTOTLE created the idea of ethics as we know it today.

For Aristotle, "ethics" (or "ethoi") were simply the habits or manners which had an effect on a community. (Remember that this term was, back then, completely neutral. A guy with bad manners was still being "ethical".)

So Aristotle gave a system of lectures which later were collected and are today known as the Nicomachean Ethics. (There's another book known as the Eudemian Ethics, which I don't want to get into, but will refer to so that some college philosophy student won't come here and say, "Jeff, you don't know what you're talking about....) This is the book usually referred to as Aristotle's Ethics. It remains, other than the Bible, the single most important treatise [judged by cultural impact] regarding what is ethical and what is not.

Exactly what *is* ethical isn't the point of this thread (I don't think). The question is How do you decide?

For Aristotle, your ability to decide is based on habituation. Simply. One's education, one's upbringing, leads to certain habits. That's it. You decide because that's the way you were brought up to decide. You don't think about it any more. You feel it.

Patrick's answer is 100% Aristotelian.

It's a good answer. Hell, it's a GREAT answer. But it obviously doesn't protect us in the modern world--a world in which we no longer live in tight communities, but are left to fend for ourselves as individuals. No, today everyone must decide for themselves.

Which is cool until some maniac comes along.

Sorry for the history lesson. But I'm trying to make it up to John for my previous sins.
Dustin Baker
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Quote:
On 2008-05-10 12:55, Steve_Mollett wrote:
>"Professors teach ludicrous garbage because it’s part of their personal agenda."

Acidic comments like that reflect a dogmatic agenda on the part of the speaker. Beware of philosophical thin ice. Smile


That particular professor had no problem admitting that it was part of his personal agenda.

On a side note: Colleges consider free speech very important, as long as your speech agrees with what they think.
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Leland Stone
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Isn't it necessary to define 'right' and 'wrong' before asking, "How do you decide what [action] is [qualified as] right or wrong?"

Cast my vote, for whatever it counts, with those who claim that such terms require a transcendent basis, as without transcendency -- it seems to me -- the most so-called noble or vile human acts can no more be deemed 'right' or 'wrong' than can be earthquakes, electromagnetism, or metosis.
Magnus Eisengrim
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I don't think so, Leland. Inquiry usually begins with vague notions and aims to clarify them in the process. Think for example of the distinction between planets and stars. Ancient astronomers had no idea what planets and stars were, but they noticed

a) they look a little different,
b) stars' relative positions appear to be fixed, but planets "wander" about the sky.

It took a long time for our current understanding of planets and stars to develop, but if the ancients had waited for clarity before inquiry, they never would have gotten anywhere.

Back to the thread, we have some clear cases of right and wrong, but there are lots of ambiguous and difficult ones as well. This seems to me to be a very good place to begin inquiry. Maybe clear ideas of "right" and "wrong" can emerge from the discussion. Maybe it will take longer than we have to live...

John
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.--Yeats
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