Obligations and Rights

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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby doogles on May 16th, 2019, 6:26 am 

Good day to you Nick_A.

Once again, thank you for a response, but once again I'm having trouble understanding the points you are making. You appear to be circumlocutory in your responses.

You seem to be saying that charity cannot be said to be a 'voluntary obligation' because you don't know what motivates each charitable act. So I will change my first question -- "Is there any type of charity motivation that could be described as a 'voluntary obligation'?"

My second question was "Could you please provide some 'feet-on-the-ground' examples of what you consider to be 'voluntary obligations'?" I will then know exactly what you are saying and I can research comparisons between secular and religious contributions in those fields.
...........................................................................
(Just as an aside, and please don't respond to this, because it will take this thread off topic. Your explanation -- "A priori knowledge, in Western philosophy since the time of Immanuel Kant, knowledge that is independent of all particular experiences, as opposed to a posteriori knowledge, which derives from experience." -- means that every neonate on the planet possesses some degree of a priori knowledge.

Take a sea turtle foetus as an example. It is deserted by its mother before it is born, but when hatching, it has not only the 'knowledge', but the muscle co-ordination, to peck its way out of its shell, climb up through the sand to the surface, waddle down in the direction of the beach, swim, identify suitable food for a turtle, mate when mature, and to find its way back to lay eggs (often to its own beach of birth), WITHOUT A SINGLE LESSON FROM ANOTHER TURTLE.

Just a comment for thought, but NOT A RESPONSE PLEASE)
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby Nick_A on May 16th, 2019, 10:14 pm 

Doogies

You seem to be saying that charity cannot be said to be a 'voluntary obligation' because you don't know what motivates each charitable act. So I will change my first question -- "Is there any type of charity motivation that could be described as a 'voluntary obligation'?"

My second question was "Could you please provide some 'feet-on-the-ground' examples of what you consider to be 'voluntary obligations'?" I will then know exactly what you are saying and I can research comparisons between secular and religious contributions in those fields.


A voluntary obligation is by definition not a forced obligation. Many charitable obligations are forced by the need for public acclaim. Giving to charity allows a person to feel important and superior to the one in need. A person may give $1000 to another for medical expenses and will be celebrated for their generosity. Giving is for the benefit of the giver.

However another person may give anonymously. Giving is not for their benefit but only for the one in need. It may be an acquired indoctrinated reaction or a voluntary act of conscience. The point here is that it is impossible to know motivation. What we do know is that actions of conscience are natural expressions of values we re born with so remain consistent. Forced reactions can change depending upon circumstances.

It is easier to experience this question of voluntary obligations in the context of voting. On election day in America a person has the voluntary obligation to vote and the temptation to stay home and avoid the aggravation of voting. A person can argue that their one vote won’t make a difference so just stay home or take care of errands. It can also be argued that if everyone felt this way free elections wold be impossible. How can we reconcile this contradiction?

A person can only reconcile the contradiction by feeling tht voting is a voluntary obligation to serve the community and not their personal needs. The voluntary obligation must be felt so it is stronger than selfishness.

Your description of the sea turtle is a good example of instinct or a priori mechanical knowledge. Gradually growing to experience the importance of higher human values and the adoption of voluntary obligations necessary to make freedom possible is the process of remembering values which have always been known just like the mechanical knowledge of the sea turtle has always been known.

Animal values serve the individual while higher human values reflect a respect for life the individual animal is unconcerned with. The question becomes how animal man caught up in animal values can evolve to a level where acts of conscience become normal.

"Be proud of being the mean between macrocosm and microcosm. Stand still and marvel. Try not to become a man of success, but a man of value. Look around at how people want to get more than he receives. Be creative, but make sure that what you create is not a curse for mankind.” Albert Einstein, in Einstein and the Poet – In Search of the Cosmic Man by William Hermanns (Branden Press, 1983, p. 143.)


He is right IMO but I see how the world is against adopting voluntary obligations. Indoctrinated animal values remain too strong in the world. I hope I am wrong but I don’t see how in the age of technology a person of values will be more influential than the person of success in the world. It will only be a minority who are motivated by the person of values and their influence will be vital if humanity is to survive.
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby doogles on May 17th, 2019, 10:22 pm 

Nick_A, thanks for the response. You did give me some substance to work with this time.

This site -- https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2 ... elections/ -- gave me some figures on the religious make-up of voters in mid-term 2018. It shows that 17% of voters were religiously unaffiliated, up from 12% in 2014 and 2010. Meanwhile, 47% of voters in 2018 were Protestants, down from 53% in 2014 and 55% in 2010. There was little change in the share of voters who identify as Catholic, Jewish or with other faiths. And the 26% of 2018 voters who were white and identify as born-again or evangelical Christians is similar to other recent midterm elections.

This needs to be compared with some census figures showing the percentage of the various belief systems in the population at large.

You will see from this Table that the 2014 census shows 22.8% of people were 'unaffiliated'
(secular) in the population in 2014. The trend is for this group to increase in percentage, so the 2018 figure would probably be higher than 22.6% when only 17% of 'unaffiliated' voted.

religious affiliation USA.jpg


I could research this further and more accurately, but I'm fairly sure that a chi-square test would show that slightly significantly more people of the various faiths used their voluntary obligation to vote than did the secularists.

So you could be marginally correct in that it looks as if a slightly higher percentage of secularists failed to exercise their voluntary obligation to vote than those of the various faiths in 2018.

Even so, it is not valid to sweepingly assert that 'secularists lack voluntary obligations'.
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby Nick_A on May 18th, 2019, 12:10 am 

Doogies
So you could be marginally correct in that it looks as if a slightly higher percentage of secularists failed to exercise their voluntary obligation to vote than those of the various faiths in 2018.

Even so, it is not valid to sweepingly assert that 'secularists lack voluntary obligations'.


I appreciate your effort but you missed the point I was making which is the distinction between acts of conscience or soul knowledge and reactions resulting from indoctrination. Many religious people are taught to be socially responsible so vote. But again this is being taught. IYO Can responsibility related to higher values be felt or must it be taught?

An action of conscience is the result of a recognition of higher value normal for the being of Man which we can awaken to. Conscience is "felt" while denial of indoctrination inspires fear and guilt. Unfortunately secularism relies on indoctrination to maintain its influence.

1948
"One never goes wrong following his feeling. I don’t mean emotions, I mean feeling, for feeling and intuition are one.” Albert Einstein, in Einstein and the Poet – In Search of the Cosmic Man by William Hermanns (Branden Press, 1983, p. 95. – conversation on September 14, 1948)


Many confuse feeling with emotion but they are different. Feelings are expressions of conscience while emotions are expressions of habits.
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby Nick_A on May 18th, 2019, 10:56 pm 

Here is another way of considering the question of voluntary obligations. You may find it disturbing only because you are involved with animal life so will feel the truth of what I am about to introduce.

We believe we have the right to use nature for our own interests and what we call progress but will you agree with me that we have an obligation to preserve the balance of nature in which all animal and plant life has value and worthy of protection and defense?

I believe we are born with the potential for respect for life and the process which enables it. It can be remembered as we mature. But at the same time it is obvious that the majority do not have respect for life sufficient to preserve and defend the balance of nature.

A mother bear loves her cubs. She lives by selective love. She may love her cubs but doesn’t love you. She doesn’t have a respect for life as a whole but is limited to selective love. I believe that a person with developed conscience is capable of a love for life as a whole. Such a person would “feel” the value of a rain forest for example and feel the need to preserve it. Most would justify cutting it down for the sake of “progress.”

Love of life as a whole is unnecessary for animal life living by survival of the fittest. Yot it is clear that some have opened to their conscience and the value of this living machine we call life as a whole and support its interactive purpose rather than destroy it for selfish reasons.

People claim the right to destroy and kill for selfish reasons yet others feel the voluntary obligation to support and preserve this living machine as a whole. Those justifying the selfish kill will never understand those whose conscience compels them to voluntarily support the living machine.
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby doogles on May 20th, 2019, 5:50 am 

Nick_A asked "IYO Can responsibility related to higher values be felt or must it be taught?"
I'm not sure what you mean exactly by 'higher values', but I'm going to guess that you mean qualities such as empathy and altruism. I've not given much thought to the question before, so what I'm about to say is 'off the cuff'.


I'm trying to recall my very early childhood. I'm fairly sure that as a little kid, I was happy if I got what I wanted and I can't recall any event in which I was empathetic or altruistic. Then I can remember that by the time I was reaching double digit figures I used to go camping with mates and we deliberately shared all of our supplies equally. I think I can safely say that I had NO higher values until I reached late single digit or double digits age.

Would this rule out empathy and altruism as being innate or would it mean that we did not have the opportunities to display those qualities?

Although, as I'm speaking, I'm recalling that during WWII in Grade 3 or 4, I used to often donate my lunch money to the war effort and go home to have some bread and dripping or whatever (My father was away at the war as a POW and my mother went to work before we went to school). I have no idea why I did that. Our teacher had a permanent blackboard keeping the score from our class, and a gold star was our aim. So you've got me wondering whether it was a sort of indoctrination to donate to the war effort. I know that I never felt deprived by giving up the money that would have purchased me a meat pie or a cream and jam bun, but I achieved satisfaction when we reached a 'gold star' level or whatever on our blackboard.

We did have an hour of religious education a week and maybe we were indoctrinated with the Christian philosophy of 'giving'. Who knows?

Whatever, by the time we were in our teens, the mob I used to knock around with, would never indulge in treats in front of others. Even if they had only one stolen cigarette left, they would share puffs with everyone else. Orchard fruit, stolen from the gardens of the richer people on the other side of the river, was shared to the last mouthful with everyone else. This was the 'norm' amongst my peers even though most were juvenile delinquents, and on some sort of probation.

me $ 6 footie.jpg


These are some of about 20-odd who were in our 'mob'. They would give their mates the shirts off their backs, so to speak. We had nil parental supervision. None were church-goers.

I can remember a distinct culture shock one day in my first year at University when one of my contemporaries from a middle class area, purchased a chocolate bar and devoured it in front of others without offering to share. As a University student, I didn't have the money or time to become involved in anything else, but in my later working life I never missed an opportunity to help others with individual problems or with working bees.

Before I retired from my country veterinary practice to do a PhD, I was Chairman or President of about five altruistic organisations and at a farewell function from that district, it was announced that a block of heathland forest that we had raised the money to purchase, had been named in my honour.

All I can say is that everything I did to help other people and our district's future just seemed to be the 'right thing' to do at the time.

I'm fairly sure that we are not born with empathy or altruistic tendencies. I would have to say that I was either indoctrinated from late single digits age onwards or else we automatically mimicked the traits of the others in the environment in which we grew up.

If I get a chance, I might see if there have been any sociological studies on empathy or altruism in human beings.
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby TheVat on May 20th, 2019, 9:30 am 

What we do know is that actions of conscience are natural expressions of values we re born with so remain consistent...



Nick, many posts from you make this assumption, and lead responders on a merry chase, trying to nail down some factual basis. But members are expected to do their own intellectual hod-carrying, and support assertions. Do you have evidence, from child development research (Piaget et al), to support this idea that we're born with some form of conscience and innate values? Otherwise starting a sentence, as you often do, with "What we do know..." is presumptuous and takes us away from real discourse and towards preaching. Please respond to challenges for evidence - like it or not, it is a basic rule here.
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby Serpent on May 20th, 2019, 10:18 am 

Nick_A » May 16th, 2019, 9:14 pm wrote:Many charitable obligations are forced by the need for public acclaim. Giving to charity allows a person to feel important and superior to the one in need. A person may give $1000 to another for medical expenses and will be celebrated for their generosity. Giving is for the benefit of the giver.

Two fails on definition, there.
Force is when an outside agency compels and unwilling action.
What you describe is a voluntary choice in response to inner motivation. (Response to an addiction, or irresistable impulse would be involuntary, but still not forced.)
It's also not an obligation: it can be turned off and on at the giver's discretion.
A voluntary obligation would be a contract entered into by a free agent, informed, aware, and without compulsion: a pledge, oath or promise, such as a parent cosigning a child's loan application, or membership in a public broadcasting facility.

What we do know is that actions of conscience are natural expressions of values we re born with so remain consistent.

When you see a 6-year-old putting her dime in the Humane Society jar, or a 60 year-old billionnaire paying off the student loans of all the graduates of his alma mater, how do you tell which one is motivated by inborn impulse and which has been taught good values?
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby Nick_A on May 20th, 2019, 11:57 am 

I didn’t realize this before but philosophy on this site is defined as Behaviorism. Philosophy as the love of wisdom has been reduced to psychology. Where philosophy seeks to deepen the essential human questions, behaviorism demands and argues answers. The traditional purpose of philosophy is to help us remember what has been forgotten.

"If men learn this, it will implant forgetfulness in their souls; they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks. What you have discovered is a recipe not for memory, but for reminder. And it is no true wisdom that you offer your disciples, but only its semblance, for by telling them of many things without teaching them you will make them seem to know much, while for the most part they know nothing, and as men filled, not with wisdom, but with the conceit of wisdom, they will be a burden to their fellows." ― Plato, Phaedrus


This is philosophy. Behaviorism argues the results of “external marks” while philosophy seeks the collective efforts towards remembrance.

My interest is in philosophy so remembrance as it relates to conscience is a natural question. It doesn’t matter to me if Susie Schwartz wrote a paper on it since I am concerned what the experience of conscience as opposed to indoctrination is. A Person like doogie raises an important question of how we can distinguish conscience from indoctrination. There are no papers on this. A person has to experience it. I would like to ask doogie if he were raised as a nazi if he would openly slaughter Jews. I don’t believe so. What is it in some that prevents them from being indoctrinated into hate? Behviorism cannot answer that but just writes papers. My guess is that people difficult to indoctrinate have experienced their conscience which knows the absurdity of hate.

A child is not born with the contents of consciousness. They are learned over time. A child is not born with the knowledge of conscience. They have the potential to remember it.

“Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.”
― George Orwell, 1984

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”
― George Orwell, 1984



The purpose of many modern studies in behaviorism seek to control present beliefs and to change the past so as to control the future.

The person of conscience knows it doesn’t make sense so looks for the environments in which 2+2 = 4 is still an accepted norm and work to verify it rather than deny it.

If arguing studies in behaviorism serves your love of wisdom, have at it. For those like me who appreciate the value of the human potential to awaken to conscience and the necessary efforts towards remembrance, we need something more.

The religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of religious feeling, which knows no dogma and no God conceived in man's image; so that there can be no church whose central teachings are based on it. Hence it is precisely among the heretics of every age that we find men who were filled with this highest kind of religious feeling and were in many cases regarded by their contemporaries as atheists, sometimes also as saints. Looked at in this light, men like Democritus, Francis of Assisi, and Spinoza are closely akin to one another.

How can cosmic religious feeling be communicated from one person to another, if it can give rise to no definite notion of a God and no theology? In my view, it is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are receptive to it.

-- Albert Einstein, Science and Religion, NY Times, November 9, 1930. <-- Click for complete essay.

1940
Now, even though the realms of religion and science in themselves are clearly marked off from each other, nevertheless there exist between the two strong reciprocal relationships and dependencies. Though religion may be that which determines the goal, it has, nevertheless, learned from science, in the broadest sense, what means will contribute to the attainment of the goals it has set up. But science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration towards truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion. To this there also belongs the faith in the possibility that the regulations valid for the world of existence are rational, that is, comprehensible to reason. I cannot conceive of a genuine scientist without that profound faith. The situation may be expressed by an image: Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.


There are those who will consider Einstein’s observation as preaching. I call it philosophy. I call it a genuine philosophical effort necessary to deepen the question of the human condition and why our species is as it is.. Can we collectively awaken to normality? There is such a powerful denial of the necessary efforts to remember what is necessary to establish the results of conscience, the potential balance of obligations and rights will remain just a potential.
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby Serpent on May 20th, 2019, 12:38 pm 

And there are those who respect words and insist that each one be accorded its rightful meaning.
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby charon on May 20th, 2019, 2:29 pm 

Thank you, doogles, real experience for a change.

I'm fairly sure it's in the human heart to feel sympathy or empathy for others, including animals or, in fact, any living thing. I think it's part of our make-up, although I think some are better at it than others.

Where there are those who seem to enjoy cruelty I suspect, if one traced their history, they'd been the victim of it themselves. But there are rare exceptions.

So it might turn out that there's no real norm. It's probably a question of nature and nurture, that old thing. And I expect nurture is by far the predominant factor.
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby PaulN on May 20th, 2019, 5:06 pm 

Nick writes....

I didn’t realize this before but philosophy on this site is defined as Behaviorism. Philosophy as the love of wisdom has been reduced to psychology. Where philosophy seeks to deepen the essential human questions, behaviorism demands and argues answers. The traditional purpose of philosophy is to help us remember what has been forgotten.


No one has defined philosophy so narrowly here. And no, it's not defined here as behaviorism. You were challenged to provide some tiny mote of evidence for your assertion about conscience being innate, and some might possibly be found in the cognitive sciences (a field much broader in scope than behaviorism), which is why that field might, as many do, be somewhat pertinent to a philosophical exploration. Philosophy has expanded and grown a bit since Plato.

Dogmatic assertions don't fly here. If you say that certain moral values exist a priori in humans, then you need to make that case and not just wave your hands and call anyone who challenges your thinking a "secularist." Or use "they just don't get it" as an argument.

Make a case that we "awaken" to conscience, rather than learn conscience, and bring some kind of logical and empirical basis for your case, even if it's highly introspective in its mode of observation. You don't have to be behaviorist, or treat the mind as a black box, but some kind of coherent argument derived from somewhere other than "I know this" or "I know wise people" is needed.
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby Nick_A on May 20th, 2019, 9:19 pm 

Paul


No one has defined philosophy so narrowly here. And no, it's not defined here as behaviorism. You were challenged to provide some tiny mote of evidence for your assertion about conscience being innate, and some might possibly be found in the cognitive sciences (a field much broader in scope than behaviorism), which is why that field might, as many do, be somewhat pertinent to a philosophical exploration. Philosophy has expanded and grown a bit since Plato.

Dogmatic assertions don't fly here. If you say that certain moral values exist a priori in humans, then you need to make that case and not just wave your hands and call anyone who challenges your thinking a "secularist." Or use "they just don't get it" as an argument.


First of all do you agree with this explanation of Behaviorism?

https://www.simplypsychology.org/behaviorism.html

Behaviorism refers to a psychological approach which emphasizes scientific and objective methods of investigation. The approach is only concerned with observable stimulus-response behaviors, and states all behaviors are learned through interaction with the environment.....................


Behaviorism measures the results of interpretations of sensory influences. There is nothing wrong with it and is a very useful study. However, it shouldn’t be confused with the purpose of philosophy. Philosophy hasn’t grown. It only has devolved into more arguments over behaviorism.

Are you accusing Einstein of making dogmatic assertions? I have been quoting him in relation to conscience

1948
"One never goes wrong following his feeling. I don’t mean emotions, I mean feeling, for feeling and intuition are one.” Albert Einstein, in Einstein and the Poet – In Search of the Cosmic Man by William Hermanns (Branden Press, 1983, p. 95. – conversation on September 14, 1948
)

You may call it a dogmatic assertion. I don’t. I am invited to consciously contemplate the actions of higher mind described as intuition, feelings, and conscience.

You seem to either believe or deny and limit yourself to sensory proofs. Philosophy invites the great “I don’t know” in which a person opens their mind to conscious contemplation and the effort to remember what has been forgotten. Why dogmatically deny its value?

But the bottom line is that both philosophy and behaviorism have their place. Why not be open to what they offer rather than blindly and dogmatically believe or deny the value of either.
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby charon on May 20th, 2019, 9:57 pm 

If the religions say conscience is god-given then why have religions made wars?

Why have the Christians, for example, not that it's confined to them, made war, tortured and burned the heretics, covered up paedophile priests, been unbelievably cruel to children, and all the rest of it?

It's not as though we're talking about a momentary slip here and there, we're talking prolonged, organised butchery and immorality over extremely long periods.

So apparently the conscience within these wonderful god-fearing folks

isn't

working

very

well.
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby Nick_A on May 20th, 2019, 10:16 pm 

charon » May 20th, 2019, 9:57 pm wrote:If the religions say conscience is god-given then why have religions made wars?

Why have the Christians, for example, not that it's confined to them, made war, tortured and burned the heretics, covered up paedophile priests, been unbelievably cruel to children, and all the rest of it?

It's not as though we're talking about a momentary slip here and there, we're talking prolonged, organised butchery and immorality over extremely long periods.

So apparently the conscience within these wonderful god-fearing folks

isn't

working


very

well.


Secularized Christianity or Christendom will exhibit the same hypocrisy as any other secular institution. It is the nature of the beast. That is why the teaching of the Christ can be corrupted into the Spanish inquisition.

In the Church, considered as a social organism, the mysteries inevitably degenerate into beliefs. Simone Weil


Those who understand Christianity know it is not a social organism but a means to become the New Man.
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby Serpent on May 20th, 2019, 10:20 pm 

Nick_A --- Behaviorism measures the results of interpretations of sensory influences. There is nothing wrong with it and is a very useful study. However, it shouldn’t be confused with the purpose of philosophy.


PaulN -- No one has defined philosophy so narrowly here. And no, it's not defined here as behaviorism.

That horse has died and floated out to sea.
Philosophy hasn’t grown.

PaulN -- Philosophy has expanded and grown a bit since Plato.

The second statement is true.
It only has devolved into more arguments over behaviorism.

There never was such an argument.
Are you accusing Einstein of making dogmatic assertions?

I believe he was addressing you, not Einstein.
And I, too wish you'd come out from behind those cutout-and-pastes, and make your own case.
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby charon on May 20th, 2019, 11:50 pm 

I'd say it was an absolute privilege to be secular.

1) The conversation is about conscience, not Christianity.

2) It is one of the essential, root teachings of Christianity that conscience is god-given, innate, and enshrined in the human spirit. It is not secular, if by secular we mean irreligious.

https://www.openbible.info/topics/conscience

3) The teachings of Christ and the actions of the church historically bear little or no relation to each other. It may therefore be said that all Christianity is secular. They believe in it but don't do it. Jesus, according to the book, said 'Love ye one another' but that's generally the very last thing they do. Belief is not love.

4) Apparently all those Christians, ancient and modern, millions and millions of them, weren't 'real' Christians since they apparently had little conscience in any sense we would understand it.

5) So either this god-given quality is extremely ineffectual or there's no such thing.

6) But since we know that most of us do have an 'inner voice' its provenance must be investigated. This is why it is foolish to come down on one side or the other and make dogmatic statements. That inner voice may simply be the result of society, of the environment.

7) Moslems, for example, have no problem having multiple wives. That means they must freely enter multiple relationships after having married once. Yet in Christendom it's considered a foul deed to be unfaithful to even one. So the guilt felt may not be divine at all but the result of social influence.

Thank god I have no religion.
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby charon on May 21st, 2019, 1:07 am 

Actually it can be both, can't it?

If we say there's something fundamental at the root of life then we've been 'given' this inner voice as part of our make-up, in the same way we've been given thought, knowledge, memory, or even arms and legs.

But when we get the feeling that something is wrong, or that we ourselves have done something wrong, is it truly the Voice of God or simply that something has gone wrong within the cultural environment we inhabit?

After all, there are plenty of cultures in the world who quite happily do things that we in the West would shrink from, and vice versa.

They boil dogs alive in Indonesia, presumably without conscience. They'd say it was their culture and it probably is.

And if that makes you feel sick, sorry.
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby Nick_A on May 21st, 2019, 2:05 am 

You were the one who brought up the word “Christians.” It is foolish to speak of a word if you can’t distinguish Christianity from Christendom. A Christian is one who follows in the precepts of Christ. How many do you know? There are very few Christians.

The essence of religion serves the need for meaning beyond what the world offers. If you are content with what the world offers you are right to avoid religious contemplation. It will just get in the way of the quality of meaning the world offers.

Why bother with these questions?

We agree that conscience is an innate quality. We agree that the secularized church doesn’t transmit the essence of Christ’s teaching. People content with a secularized church will not experience Christianity.

You are happy that you have no religion. This means you will reject Einstein’s church of conscience

"That is why the most beautiful Church for me is the church of conscience, found in the silence of one's own presence. Unselfishness, humaneness, service to your brother - these are the values which the Church should practice for once, instead of con­stantly trying to gather in more souls. A cosmic religion is the only solution - then there will be no more Church politics of supporting the mighty at the cost of the human rights of the poor." Albert Einstein, in Einstein and the Poet – In Search of the Cosmic Man by William Hermanns (Branden Press, 1983, p. 106.)

"We must make the individual man aware of his conscience so that he understands what it means that only a few will survive the next war. This man will be the cosmic man." Albert Einstein, in Einstein and the Poet – In Search of the Cosmic Man by William Hermanns (Branden Press, 1983, p. 99.)

I’m a chess player. I know a lost position when I see one and the world definitely looks like it is in a lost position. I’m aware of the value of conscience and see how it is sacrificed to all sorts of feelgoodisms and platitudes. We will need the cosmic men to survive. They will receive from above and give to below in order to do what is necessary. They will have both the quality of consciousness and conscience to make it possible. I hope I get to meet one before I kick off.

You prefer to reject the concept of religion and thank God you don’t have one. You may be thanking the wrong deity.

But when we get the feeling that something is wrong, or that we ourselves have done something wrong, is it truly the Voice of God or simply that something has gone wrong within the cultural environment we inhabit?



Why bring a personal God into it? A person usually feels guilt because of emotional conditioning. Yet at times person's conscience allows a person to feel they are losing something valuable for their inner life. They will feel remorse. it is a different experience altogether. But those who deny objective values cannot admit that conscience which remembers them can exist.
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby doogles on May 21st, 2019, 7:14 am 

I have mentioned my opinion in a couple of posts that in my opinion, 'obligations' and 'rights' are 'feet-on-the-ground' subjects and I have to admit that I personally see little value in the subject called 'Philosophy', because the terms and phraseology used are too vague. Conversations seem to go around in circles and achieve very little consensus -- at least that's my impression while attempting to follow chats in this forum.

I have to agree with you Nick_A that we have drifted into the fields of Behaviourism and Social Science.

Maybe I should have commenced a new thread on the topic under those banners, but then again a cross-disciplinary chat shouldn't do any harm. Other posters can assess the value of the different approaches.

I did have a look at Google Scholar under the headings of EMPATHY and ALTRUISM, assuming that both are 'higher' human values. The amount of literature turned out to be considerable. It was difficult to know where to start, but one book stood out. It was titled Empathy: A social psychological approach, by MH Davis (2018). He claims to have studied human empathy in one way or another for 15 years and is finally beginning to feel as though he has some understanding of the topic.

If it took him 15 years, I'm not going to start.

But his list of hundreds of references is impressive. There are over 250 of them. I scanned the titles of these references, and I could not find a single one that distinguished between the possession of the 'higher value' of empathy in secularists or people of a religious faith.

I'm happy enough to conclude that there is an even distribution of 'higher' and 'lower' values amongst the religious and the irreligious of our kind.
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby charon on May 21st, 2019, 7:17 am 

distribution of 'higher' and 'lower' values amongst the religious and the irreligious


Because it depends on the person, not their social standing. Somebody who has no belief may have far better values than one who does. In fact, it's often the case since most belief is the result of fear, childhood conditioning, or simple thoughtlessness.

When someone is described as a good Christian, for example, the saying is often that they would have been good even if they weren't a Christian. Simply because there are plenty of bad ones too.

Belief is no indicator of goodness, none at all.
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby charon on May 21st, 2019, 7:50 am 

But we're drifting perhaps. Obligations and rights...

I'm obliged to turn up to work on time, pay my bills, and so on. I do.

Rights like consumer rights? A shop refused to give my deposit back once when I decided not to buy their product after reserving it. So I went to the library, printed out the relevant consumer law, and waved it at them. Bingo, refunded in full.
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby Serpent on May 21st, 2019, 10:44 am 

I kind of missed a boat with this one, so I'll toss in an abbreviated version:

The hierarchical arrangement of mental processes as if they were a meritocracy, or arrangement by status suggests a system of valuation that can be very confusing.
Philosophers may rate their avocation above that of psychologists who might rate their discipline above that biologists. But does that attitude reflect reality?

Is a sense of duty a higher function than regulating adrenaline? Is imagination better than reason? Is the appreciation of beauty more important than pattern-perception?
I think there is a great danger of confusion in any hierarchical arrangement :
- We may not communicate the principle on which we built our pyramid - or worse, take for granted that we all have the same structure in mind.
- We may be leaving out, ignoring, neglecting crucial layers of function.
- We may be discounting the co-ordination of various functions in a state of mind, or even the making of a single decision.

Example: What brain activity is involved in the process of answering a subpoena?
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby Nick_A on May 21st, 2019, 1:48 pm 

Serpent » May 21st, 2019, 10:44 am wrote:I kind of missed a boat with this one, so I'll toss in an abbreviated version:

The hierarchical arrangement of mental processes as if they were a meritocracy, or arrangement by status suggests a system of valuation that can be very confusing.
Philosophers may rate their avocation above that of psychologists who might rate their discipline above that biologists. But does that attitude reflect reality?

Is a sense of duty a higher function than regulating adrenaline? Is imagination better than reason? Is the appreciation of beauty more important than pattern-perception?
I think there is a great danger of confusion in any hierarchical arrangement :
- We may not communicate the principle on which we built our pyramid - or worse, take for granted that we all have the same structure in mind.
- We may be leaving out, ignoring, neglecting crucial layers of function.
- We may be discounting the co-ordination of various functions in a state of mind, or even the making of a single decision.

Example: What brain activity is involved in the process of answering a subpoena?


Is a sense of duty a higher function than regulating adrenaline?


Is a sense of duty really an expression of a higher function? Suppose a woman does her duty by demonstrating in support of abortions? Is this really an expression of a higher function or just social conditioning?
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby Nick_A on May 21st, 2019, 2:24 pm 

Doogies

I have mentioned my opinion in a couple of posts that in my opinion, 'obligations' and 'rights' are 'feet-on-the-ground' subjects and I have to admit that I personally see little value in the subject called 'Philosophy', because the terms and phraseology used are too vague. Conversations seem to go around in circles and achieve very little consensus -- at least that's my impression while attempting to follow chats in this forum.


Jacob Needleman in his book "Lost Christianity" says the following after a lecture he had been giving took an unexpected turn:

Of course it had been stupid of me to express it in quite that way, but nevertheless the point was worth pondering: does there exist in man a natural attraction to truth and to the struggle for truth that is stronger than the natural attraction to pleasure? The history of religion in the west seems by and large to rest on the assumption that the answer is no. Therefore, externally induced emotions of egoistic fear (hellfire), anticipation of pleasure (heaven), vengeance, etc., have been marshaled to keep people in the faith.


The feet on the ground approach examines world history and must admit the answer is no for humanity as a whole. the desire for pleasure is far more important than the experience of truth as a necessary part of the need to experience objective meaning. Can philosophy show the way to experience meaning which is beyond the pleasure of facts?

Plato describes four cognitive states and/or modes of thinking. From highest to lowest, these are:

noesis (immediate intuition, apprehension, or mental 'seeing' of principles)
dianoia (discursive thought)
pistis (belief or confidence)
eikasia (delusion or sheer conjecture)


Philosophy then provides the means for the transition between feet on the ground dianoia and the experience of noesis or immediate intuition. Impartial dianoia can invite the contemplative states which enables remembrance. What is remembered enables a person to value the good of truth over transient pleasure.

The problem IMO is that only a small minority in the era of technology will be willing to make the transition between dianoia and noesis so the growing dissatisfaction with the lust for transient pleasure will create a catastrophe I do not want to be a part of. I hope I'm wrong but without recognizing the value of moving from dianoia towards noesis I don't see how the necessary balance between voluntary obligations and rights can be possible. It isn't logical for the dominant pleasure seekers.
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby Serpent on May 21st, 2019, 5:14 pm 

Nick_A » May 21st, 2019, 12:48 pm wrote:Is a sense of duty really an expression of a higher function? Suppose a woman does her duty by demonstrating in support of abortions? Is this really an expression of a higher function or just social conditioning?

How does that answer the problem of a hierarchical arrangement of brain functions?
Can you account for all the neurological processes involved in that single act?
Going to a demonstration in support of procreative choice? That's just as good an example as mine was - if a bit more tilted toward prejudice.
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby doogles on May 21st, 2019, 5:35 pm 

Nick_A » Wed May 22, 2019 4:24 am wrote:Doogies

I have mentioned my opinion in a couple of posts that in my opinion, 'obligations' and 'rights' are 'feet-on-the-ground' subjects and I have to admit that I personally see little value in the subject called 'Philosophy', because the terms and phraseology used are too vague. Conversations seem to go around in circles and achieve very little consensus -- at least that's my impression while attempting to follow chats in this forum.


Jacob Needleman in his book "Lost Christianity" says the following after a lecture he had been giving took an unexpected turn:

Of course it had been stupid of me to express it in quite that way, but nevertheless the point was worth pondering: does there exist in man a natural attraction to truth and to the struggle for truth that is stronger than the natural attraction to pleasure? The history of religion in the west seems by and large to rest on the assumption that the answer is no. Therefore, externally induced emotions of egoistic fear (hellfire), anticipation of pleasure (heaven), vengeance, etc., have been marshaled to keep people in the faith.


The feet on the ground approach examines world history and must admit the answer is no for humanity as a whole. the desire for pleasure is far more important than the experience of truth as a necessary part of the need to experience objective meaning. Can philosophy show the way to experience meaning which is beyond the pleasure of facts?

Plato describes four cognitive states and/or modes of thinking. From highest to lowest, these are:

noesis (immediate intuition, apprehension, or mental 'seeing' of principles)
dianoia (discursive thought)
pistis (belief or confidence)
eikasia (delusion or sheer conjecture)


Philosophy then provides the means for the transition between feet on the ground dianoia and the experience of noesis or immediate intuition. Impartial dianoia can invite the contemplative states which enables remembrance. What is remembered enables a person to value the good of truth over transient pleasure.

The problem IMO is that only a small minority in the era of technology will be willing to make the transition between dianoia and noesis so the growing dissatisfaction with the lust for transient pleasure will create a catastrophe I do not want to be a part of. I hope I'm wrong but without recognizing the value of moving from dianoia towards noesis I don't see how the necessary balance between voluntary obligations and rights can be possible. It isn't logical for the dominant pleasure seekers.


Nick_A, once gain I'm having trouble with your dogmatic assertions and circumlocution. You state "The feet on the ground approach examines world history and must admit the answer is no for humanity as a whole. The desire for pleasure is far more important than the experience of truth as a necessary part of the need to experience objective meaning."

Wherever do these assertions come from?

I've said that I have trouble getting a clear picture in my mind of the points you are making. I think you are knocking 'transient pleasure' but could be wrong. If anybody has that notion, I would like to point out that virtually all of us are here on this planet only as a result of what was most probably a transient pleasant interlude between our biological mothers and fathers.

I finished up my last post by saying "I'm happy enough to conclude that there is an even distribution of 'higher' and 'lower' values amongst the religious and the irreligious of our kind."

I'll rephrase my last concluding statement using Plato's terminology, but I know this is probably not your belief on the matter. I'm fairly sure that the main thrust of this thread is that those of us without religious faith are unlikely to achieve 'noesis'. This belief and confidence that you seem to have in your assertions, suggests that you are thinking at Plato's level of 'pistis'.

Until such time as a sociological study demonstrates otherwise, I'm happy enough to believe that there is an equal distribution of the cognitive states of noesis (immediate intuition, apprehension, or mental 'seeing' of principles), dianoia (discursive thought), pistis (belief or confidence) and eikasia (delusion or sheer conjecture) among the religious and irreligious of our kind.
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby Nick_A on May 21st, 2019, 7:31 pm 

Doogie

Nick_A, once gain I'm having trouble with your dogmatic assertions and circumlocution. You state "The feet on the ground approach examines world history and must admit the answer is no for humanity as a whole. The desire for pleasure is far more important than the experience of truth as a necessary part of the need to experience objective meaning."

Wherever do these assertions come from


Would you say that all the genocides and atrocities of our past are natural for human being or rather suggest that human being has become corrupt? All these wars suggest that the desire for pleasure and prestige suppress the need to answer the great questions inspired in us by witnessing obvious absurdity both in ourselves and in the world. Who am I? why am I here? What is the purpose of it all etc?

Maslow in his hierarchy of values describes the ascent of values beginning with basic needs a culminating

Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid. ... From the bottom of the hierarchy upwards, the needs are: physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualization.

The need for self actualization is the domain of philosophy. What does it mean to be self actualized? We don’t know. Is it Nietzsche’s overman, Plato’s philosophy king? Who knows. We can agree that it is more than what we are.

I don’t see why this seems absurd to you. As long as we are caught up in self esteem, there is no need to take seriously the great questions of the heart which form the foundation of philosophy. A moth is called to the light. When a person is called to wisdom they are attracted to another quality of light. When the attraction is strong enough they are willing to sacrifice their attraction to self esteem and prestige for the sake of the “pearl of great price.”

I've said that I have trouble getting a clear picture in my mind of the points you are making. I think you are knocking 'transient pleasure' but could be wrong.


I am not knocking transient pleasure. Look at it this way. If a person wants to be a concert pianist they have to put a lot of time into practice which takes away time for transient pleasure. If a person is a genuine seeker of truth they have to put themselves into positions in which it can be consciously experienced. One has to get down and dirty which is not pleasurable. If not they are better off going with the flow and trying to be acceptable.

I'll rephrase my last concluding statement using Plato's terminology, but I know this is probably not your belief on the matter. I'm fairly sure that the main thrust of this thread is that those of us without religious faith are unlikely to achieve 'noesis'. This belief and confidence that you seem to have in your assertions, suggests that you are thinking at Plato's level of 'pistis'.


No. You seem to be confusing faith IN someone or something with the faith OF Christ which is a human potential. Faith IN is a weakness while the faith OF Christ connecting above and below is our conscious potential and corresponds with opening to conscience.

Simone Weil — 'When a contradiction is impossible to resolve except by a lie, then we know that it is really a door.'


A minority become willing and able to experience their contradictions without the need to lie to themselves. They invite the quality of conscience and the corresponding quality of consciousness to reconcile the contradiction and invite noesis.

Nietzsche asked now that god is dead what will replace it? My guess is if is possible it will be the collective discovery of conscience those like Einstein and Simone were well aware of. I just cannot see any indication that the world is ready for it. It isn’t wanted. The struggle for prestige is too dominating. The glorified demand for rights cannot allow the value of voluntary obligations
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby doogles on May 22nd, 2019, 4:28 am 

Once again, Nick_A, you've used sweeping assertions freely as premises for any discussion.

"The defense of freedom requires recognition of the principles supporting it." We could look at this assertion a number of ways and come up with a number of possibilities. One for example -- It only requires a firearm and knowledge of how to use it. Another is to make sure everyone has an equal vote in issues affecting them. The principles don't matter.

"Principles depend on voluntary obligations while rights only depend on the intensity of the demand and political connections." I would put the first assertion in this sentence the other way around. Voluntary obligations depend on a person's principles, simply because they are voluntary. I believe rights have nothing to do with demand and political connections. IMO 'Rights' are spelt out by 'Rules' at every level of group living. For example, the rules in any given household are spelt out by the parents -- usually orally; children have a degree of 'freedom' that can vary from zero to equal depending on the degree that parents allow them to have a say in the household rules. Our rights at National level are spelt out in every Act of Parliament passed by our reps whom we voted in on the basis of one person, one vote. The only philosophy behind these 'rights' is to give everyone a 'fair go' and equal chance in life.

"Simone Weil understood the relationship of rights to obligations."This makes it sound as if she was an authority and that anything she said on the subject should be taken as Gospel. Wouldn't it be more open-minded and broad-minded to say that "Simone Weil expressed opinions about the relation of 'rights' and 'obligations' that suited your mode of thinking."? You can see from my last paragraph that I have my own opinions.

Your next sentence asserted that "... liberty without the moral influence is impossible." Now you obviously have something in mind when you talk about the 'moral influence', but without examples, I'm left to guess at what you are saying. If liberty is the 'right' to have an equal say with everyone else about the rules that govern you at each level of group living', then the moral 'wrong' becomes a failure to abide by the rules. Obviously I would agree with you that encouragement to adhere to the rules is helpful (moral influence). But the feet-on-the-ground fact is that many of our kind do not always abide by the rules at the many various levels. In spite of this, democratic freedoms survive. Therefore 'liberty' without the 'moral influence' is not impossible.

Can you see where I have difficulty in understanding what you are trying to say. I've only dealt with your first paragraph so far.

I did read your quote by Simone Weil, but she speaks in such vague terms and principles that I can't figure out exactly what she means. Some feet-on-the-ground everyday examples of what she meant would have helped a person like me, who can only make sense of language that describes real-life situations or which paints a visual image in my mind.

I did write an essay on freedom and rights about 20 years ago, as the terms apply in any form of group living, from very first principles, with everyday examples. Maybe I'll start a new thread. I'll check first whether we have one in the forum. The only way I can see that obligations are involved in harmonious group living is when a group establishes rules by the democratic principle of one-person-one-vote, each person is obliged to conform to those rules until such time as another vote on any issue arises.

This, of course, directly contradicts your Simone Weil's statement that "The notion of obligations comes before that of rights, which is subordinate and relative to the former." Rights, by my reasoning, come first as the rules spelt out by groups. Then we have the obligations and the responsibility to conform to these rules which spell out our rights..
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Re: Obligations and Rights

Postby Nick_A on May 22nd, 2019, 11:53 am 

Doogies


"The defense of freedom requires recognition of the principles supporting it." We could look at this assertion a number of ways and come up with a number of possibilities. One for example -- It only requires a firearm and knowledge of how to use it. Another is to make sure everyone has an equal vote in issues affecting them. The principles don't matter.


But these are not principles but just techniques

"Principles depend on voluntary obligations while rights only depend on the intensity of the demand and political connections." I would put the first assertion in this sentence the other way around. Voluntary obligations depend on a person's principles, simply because they are voluntary. I believe rights have nothing to do with demand and political connections. IMO 'Rights' are spelt out by 'Rules' at every level of group living. For example, the rules in any given household are spelt out by the parents -- usually orally; children have a degree of 'freedom' that can vary from zero to equal depending on the degree that parents allow them to have a say in the household rules. Our rights at National level are spelt out in every Act of Parliament passed by our reps whom we voted in on the basis of one person, one vote. The only philosophy behind these 'rights' is to give everyone a 'fair go' and equal chance in life.


You seem to believe in rules to create rights. Every tyrant believes the same. Who can be trusted to make these rules? Surely not a government whose only interest is in power made possible by the citizen’s obedience to rules. What other kind of secular government is there?

Preamble to the Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.


Rather than making rules, a government protects already established unalienable rights that are natural to universal existence: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Freedom doesn’t come from a government making rules but by a system which protects people from government rules and prevents feeling the value of universal rights.

"Simone Weil understood the relationship of rights to obligations."This makes it sound as if she was an authority and that anything she said on the subject should be taken as Gospel. Wouldn't it be more open-minded and broad-minded to say that "Simone Weil expressed opinions about the relation of 'rights' and 'obligations' that suited your mode of thinking."? You can see from my last paragraph that I have my own opinions.


She explained why rights in a free society require voluntary obligations to maintain. When voluntary obligations are abandoned, rule makers must take their place and woe be it to anyone breaking these rules. Sounds like slavery to me.

Obviously I would agree with you that encouragement to adhere to the rules is helpful (moral influence).


Adopting voluntary obligations doesn’t come from blindly obeying rules but by feeling the value of voluntary obligations and doing what is natural. This doesn’t come from government but from higher conscious influences which we perceive through our conscience. Then we are free to be normal rather than slaves to rule makers.

This, of course, directly contradicts your Simone Weil's statement that "The notion of obligations comes before that of rights, which is subordinate and relative to the former."Rights, by my reasoning, come first as the rules spelt out by groups. Then we have the obligations and the responsibility to conform to these rules which spell out our rights..


Simone is describing what is essential to maintain freedom. You seem to be describing the role of a good slave who is trained to follow rules. Adoption of voluntary obligations results in freedom. Obedience to forced obligations created by rule makers results in slavery. I’ll stick with Simone though I don’t think adoption of voluntary obligations is possible in the selfish world of technology making freedom impossible.
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