Re: MD Is Morality Relative?

From: Platt Holden (
Date: Sat Dec 04 2004 - 14:06:57 GMT

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    Hi again, Ham --

    > > > "Everything is Quality" is axiomatic. You can't deny it without
    > admitting
    > > > it, for your denial will assert the quality of truth.
    > >
    > > I don't follow your logic here, Platt. If I deny that everything is
    > > Quality I am admitting it? How so?
    > > Wouldn't you agree that your denial is true, and that truth is a value,
    > > i.e., a moral quality?
    > As I didn't mean "self-evident", axiomatic was obviously the wrong word.
    > Aphorism, or possibly even cliche, would have been a more proper term.
    > (You see, I don't put much stock in such sayings.)

    Call it whatever you want, you can't escape from making value judgments. I
    would take a wild guess and posit that you believe your essentialist
    philosophy is true, good and beautiful -- in other words, replete with
    Quality. No matter how often or how hard you try, you cannot deny Quality

    > The only connection I can see between morality and Rachmaninov's 3rd
    > Concerto is that it would be immoral to attempt to play it without a very
    > able pianist on the bench -- I would suggest resurrecting the late
    > Sviatoslov Richter, whose recording I own.

    I would love to own that recording. The best one I have is by Martha
    Argerich although the one by Yefim Bronfman is also right up there.

    > Platt, this insistence on
    > attributing morality to biology, physics and arithmetic will be the death
    > of me yet! Man may be constructed from many levels, but morality expresses
    > man's values, not the laws of the universe.

    Yes, this is the common understanding. Pirsig has blasted the way into new
    territory, much to the consternation of traditionists. But then, all great
    new ideas were met with stiff resistance from the entrenched authorities.

    > Are you aware of any other
    > philosophers who have extended morality to non-human entities? I'm simply
    > not able to make that connection, so I guess it's an area where we part
    > company.

    I know of no other philosopher who has done such, but whenever I make this
    claim, others on the forum come back with the names of philosophers who
    also extended morality beyond the usual confining walls.

    > > Maybe it would help to bring your philosophy and Pirsig's closer together
    > > if we all could agree with him that Quality, morality and value all mean
    > > the same thing, i.e. some things are better than others.
    > Again, I would exclude morality from this trio. And Quality also, if --
    > and I'm still not clear on this -- it is meant to infer a primary source.
    > Quality must be born of an absolute source in which attributes like
    > "quality" do not (yet) exist. [Why I chose Essence as the Source.]

    As I understand it, Pirsig's Quality is simultaneously an infinite
    transcendent and immanent source. In other words, it can neither be
    created or destroyed. Sounds a lot like what science says about energy
    doesn't it? (Energy is the "source" for nature-bound, pragmatic
    scientists.) As you and I have previously discussed, all worldviews posit
    a mysterious something as the source of everything. The nice thing about
    Quality as a source is that it's not all that mysterious; we encounter it
    every moment of our lives.

    > > You probably are familiar with his "categorical
    > > imperative" -- "Act only on the maxim whereby thou canst at the same time
    > > will it should become universal law."
    > Is this not the same as "Contextualism" which you defined for Steve? I
    > see little real difference between Kant's moral imperative and the Golden
    > Rule. Would you call either of these morality systems "absolutist"?

    Sure. They are absolutist. That's what "categorical imperative" means. ( I
    wouldn't call them morality "systems." They are no-questions-asked

    Incidentally, perhaps you can explain to me why everyone is so averse to
    admitting to absolutes. Every time I mention the concept it's like I flew
    an airliner into Buddhist monastery. :-)


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