Re: MD Is Morality Relative?

Date: Fri Dec 03 2004 - 08:09:09 GMT

  • Next message: Sam Norton: "Re: MD Is Morality Relative?"


    If you really want to know what I think, why do you apply all your energies
    in an attack mode? Surely, you can't expect to get the best from me with a
    stream of insults! If you'll check the various threads on this forum,
    you'll see that I happily answer all questions when there is at least a
    modicum of conciliation on the part of the questionner. After all, I'm not
    under an inquisition here. You've accused me of not reading enough of
    Pirsig. How much of MY thesis, I wonder, have YOU read?

    OK, let's be positive. Your persistence shows a strong desire for
    enlightenment, despite your deplorable tactics. I'll do my best to reveal
    what I think on the understanding that I will try to, although cannot
    always, support it with empirical evidence.

    Incidentally, let me correct myself regarding the application of
    "rationality" to the essence of man:
    > It was Aristotle, not Socrates, who defined "rationality" as the essence
    of man and, to
    > my knowledge, no one has since disputed him.

    My own thought on this -- which is what you asked for -- is that Value is
    the essence of man's reality.

    > What have you observed in the behavior of humans and other animals
    > that makes you think autonomy is unique to humans? And what makes
    > you think non-human animals are irrational?

    The ability to reason, it seems to me, includes the capacity to articulate
    ideas, evaluate properties and conditions of things experienced, to solve
    problems through the use of the intellect, and to control or modify one's
    behavior to a level beyond the instinctual or primitive level. Man learns
    by an exchange of questions and answers, and by applying his intellectual
    skills towards the improvement (betterment) of his surroundings. Animals
    exhibit none of these attributes. Their survival is totally dependent on
    instinct. They don't discuss philosophy, build bridges, or advance to a
    higher culture. Some mammals have tested at relatively high IQs, but you
    don't see them changing their habits as a consequence. I would not call
    animals "irrational"; I think most zoologists would agree that they are
    either non-rational or a-rational creatures. Only man can freely exercise
    his will. But "autonomy" implies something more significant to me. Man is
    innately free because his rational cognizance precludes the influence of
    non-rational absolutes. An "all-knowing" individual would not be a free

    > > ham:
    > > We are all selfish by nature; it is not a virtue but a description
    > > of man's position in a relational world.
    > >
    > I stand by my statement that man is naturally selfish.
     msh says:
    > But I've just provided an argument that refutes this.

    No you didn't, Mark. You described an incident of theft, a misdemeanor. So
    you've actually confirmed my point that man is selfish.

    In fact, I can
    > provide evidence and argument that other animals, as well as humans,
    > are not naturally selfish. What is your counter-argument?

    Selfish is not a very apt term for animal behavior because the concept of
    individuality in animals is not well established, if it exists at all. But
    if you say that animals can willingly overcome their instincts, I would have
    to disagree. (And don't give me your dog-training accomplishments.)
     msh says:
    > Well, I'm not sure what world you live in, but the fallacious "free-
    > enterprise" world I experience, day in and day out, constantly
    > offends my sensibilities. Deceit in the form of advertising alone
    > should and does offend almost everyone, I would say. And this is
    > only a small part of the fraud called free enterprise.

    I'm sorry that your sensibilities are offended by what most people consider
    normal everyday commerce. Having worked
    in the advertising field most of my life, I can say that any advertising
    program designed to deceive the public will fail, and the product or service
    will be left with a black mark that can never be completely erased. What
    you most likely take for "deceit" is a headline or proposition designed to
    lure or attract the customer. That's marketing's need and, if done
    effectively, it promotes sales. I dislike being harrassed by repetitive
    ads, too; but I manage to ignore them or simply change the station. On the
    other hand, I've seen some TV commercials that are more entertaining than
    the programs they sponsor.

     msh says:
    > In just your posts over the last few days, you have described your
    > "primary source" as a Universal Designer, the Unmoved Mover, the
    > Divine Creator, the Divine Planner, the Absolute Source, the
    > Uncreated Essence, the Master Designer. You've said that man's
    > rationality is "the gift of a supernatural Source."

    One has to identify the primary source by some name, Mark. These are all
    valid metaphors, and the variety allows an author to select one that
    communicates a particular function under discussion. Would you agree that
    the word "metaphysical" suggests "beyond the physical"? If so, then you
    should have no problem understanding that the primary source must be
    supernatural. Mr. Pirsig seems to have brainwashed his acolytes into
    believing that the concept of a supernatural divinity is not only out-moded
    but beneath their dignity. I can't endorse that kind of intellectual
    snobbery. If the philosopher is positing a supreme being, why not call it
    God? (It would certainly be a better name for the creator than Quality.)

    > Whether or not you use the word "God," your belief system is clearly
    > theistic. What I find intellectually dishonest is your unwillingness
    > to label it as such.

    Now that's the supreme insult, Mark, and you know it. You have read theism
    into my thesis because I've used descriptive terms typically applied to a
    personal god. Only a person who is paranoid about religious inferences
    would call me "intellectually dishonest". If you read my thesis, you'll see
    that I've scrupulously removed "Being" as an attribute of the creator; hence
    Essence is obviously not the Supreme Being of a theist. I've also
    referenced the creator as "absolute" and "infinite", which rules out a
    divine entity with an extra-terrestrial habitat. I've chosen Essence
    advisedly to identify the ineffable because it denotes "source",
    "permanence", "real", "ultimate nature", and "essential" -- all of which are
    attributes (or their equivalents) for the uncreated source I'm positing.
    Technically, Essence is neither a deity nor an "existent"; its transcendence
    extends to man, so its value is immanent. Finally, the reality I'm
    describing is anthropocentric -- certainly not theocratic.

    To sum it up, I'm no more "theistic" than Pirsig is. Additionally, I have
    the intellectual honesty to state that my Primary Source is supernatural.
    Where have you seen MoQ's author admit that his Quality is supernatural --
    despite the fact that he presents it as a heirarchy of transcendent patterns
    that have you all mystified?

    Enough for now.


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