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Author Topic: Diego Destroys Western Philosophy: The Thread  (Read 560 times)

Robert Neville

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Re: Diego Destroys Western Philosophy: The Thread
« Reply #20 on: June 02, 2018, 08:43:57 pm »
Part 2: CreateAForum stated my original post exceeeded the 20,000 character limit.

Then, the argument about (im)mutability of philosophies, which soon morphs into this:

The only definitions of morality we can conceive of stem from one thing-- the human mind. Every moral system we can develop is limited by it. In fact, if it were not for our advanced minds, we would be incapable of understanding the concept of morality in the first place. It stands to reason, then, that the human mind and morality must work together rather than against one another. Any philosophy that makes statements about how humans should behave is inherently illogical, as it has nothing to compare human instinct to. This is one of many reasons why I find normative philosophies to be brainwashing cults. Unless your normative statement is "humans should act according to their nature," you're building your philosophy on a foundation of sand; an external ideal for human behavior that does not exist in nature.

One on hand, this is logical. On the other hand, I think you (and Treet too, for that matter) overestimate the degree to which a moral system can "work against the human mind" in the first place. If a system is completely antithetical to the human mind, that mind simply wouldn't adopt it in the first place; indeed, a hypothetical philosophy that is antithetical to all human minds couldn't even be invented by any human mind. Hence, any philosophy that exists, and is adopted by people, must work with at least some part of the human mind. (or rather, works for with at least some neurological arrangements of the human mind.) "Brainwashing" is itself a loaded propaganda term; moreover, it must work with at least some elements of the human instinct to work; if it cannot latch onto to any instinct, it'll fail, and never be absorbed. The statement "humans should act according to their nature" becomes a "set of all sets" kind of dilemma, because adopting some form of a normative philosophy is itself part of that very human nature for a very large number of humans, as we have seen time, and time, and time again.

The human mind is responsible for human nature, so let's discuss human nature itself. Humans are many things-- empathetic, cruel, humorous, vindictive, neurotic-- but our defining trait is our pure selfishness.Unless our minds have been bleached out with some collectivist chemical (religion, military hierarchies, veganism), we are inherently self-interested. It is this trait, I would argue, that has given us the advancements you described as the ultimate goal of your philosophy. Technology, literature, engineering, medicine, and so on-- they all stem primarily from our selfish desire to succeed, improve our own lives, and assert our supremacy. And in our messy race to the top, we've created the most advanced civilization the world has ever seen. I would expect nothing less from a structure as wonderful as the human mind. Ironically, being concerned for the well-being of others (a central tenet of utilitarianism) comes into direct conflict with this rational selfishness. But then that's a discussion for another time.

The bolded part happens to be pure ideological interpretation of the data, rather than accepted conclusion. If a philosophy needs to "fit human nature", it should be one as scientifically observed, not a singular conception on it. The observational evidence is clear: people are often subconsciously primed to sacrifice themselves, and it may be a genetic trait. (Which also does not imply it would be "bred out", or the like, since a lot of the traits are "riders" that crop up only alongside other traits when particular genes combine, rather than be linked to a specific gene that can be cleanly eliminated while leaving everything else unaffected.) Again; if something is a "fundamental" part of human nature, a mere man-made ideology cannot make it go away.

The goal in constructing an ethical system, therefore, is to create one that fits the human mind like a glove. There is no empirical justification for doing otherwise (forcing a square peg into a round hole; changing human nature in order to impose some imagined external morality). The ideal system, as I see it, would conform fully to the mold of human nature, infringing on self-determination as little as possible. If individuals infringe on one another's self-determination, then it is certainly morally correct to punish them accordingly. But if their actions do not directly affect others (damaging their own bodies with substance abuse), there is no moral grounds for changing their behavior through coercion.

Like I said, human nature can only change if it "wants" to be changed - i.e. if it happens, it's only when a person chooses to make one part of it that's already present stronger over another.

Most importantly, someone who is both logical and selfish (the two great traits of the human mind) will infringe on the rights of others as little as possible. They will understand that any action they take could be reversed and turned on them-- if they can censor speech they disagree with, those they disagree with can censor them. If they can take property from others, others can take property from them. Rational egoists know that actions set precedents, and will avoid harming others-- not out of some respect for the bogus "golden rule," but out of their own innate self-interest.

This idea assumes that every person has an equal chance of both taking an action towards someone, and being affecting by an identical action towards themselves. (Later on, you say that you don't imply an "equal" possibility in response to Treet, but I think that's just you not fully understanding the implications.) In practice, it doesn't work that way. Rational egotists who have nothing to say for themselves have no logical reason not to censor the speech they disagree with, because all they need is for the speech they do agree with to be broadcast ever louder. Those who have little property now, and little chance of obtaining more in the future normally, have little to lose by taking it from others - even someone takes it away down the line, they'll at worst be back where they started, and no-one can take away their subjectively good memories of their experiences they already had with the things they have taken.

The man in your scenarios has every right to harm himself regardless of the environment. His wife and children are not owed his labor. They are individuals as well, not objects for him to look after. This is why I prefer egoism-- it is immutable from situation to situation.

And it is also entirely in the wife's and children's self-interest to make sure they are owed his labour, and that the man's right to harm himself is denied to him. In fact, it would actually be altruistic of them to allow the man to harm himself at their own expense, and it would be both rational and egotistic to deny that opportunity to him, especially if they have no intent to ever harm themselves in this manner. Once the society has significantly more "wives" and "children" then the "self-harming men" (i.e. practically always outside of times of great upheaval like civil wars), then the right to self-harm gets naturally curbed in full accordance with human nature.

So, do you see it now? Your philosophy is the one that naturally destroys itself.

Now, you have already decided to address Treet's comments point-by-point, so you saved me the trouble of quoting it. Instead...

It is extremely incorrect to say that morality and the human mind must "work together". It is equally incorrect to say that because only the human mind is capable of realizing what morality is that morality should not wish to change the human mind.  In the study of science, we don't care much about what "works together" with the mind. If science yields a position and the mind refuses to accept it, the mind is wrong. The mind must conform to findings in science and mathematics. Reality constructs itself in a way and we are forced to accept it, whether we "like it" or not. The "lesser minded" on science aren't granted relevance in the scientific debate. The same should be true with morality.

Morality, like anything else, can be approached with a scientific eye. As we understand more about psychology, neuroscience, and human evolution, you will see that certain principles, such as collective well-being, are very evolved into us. Collectivism can be seen everywhere in nature, and we can study the benefits of it on animal civilization. Therefore, all facets of moral questions don't purely rely on the human mind for creation. They, like science, only rely on observation and interpretation of the evidence.

Except unlike science and math, there is no morality found in nature. The human mind creates it. Science and math do not have to conform to the mind because in both fields, there is an external truth that we are capable of reasoning out. When such an external truth does not exist, the only thing we can rely on is the human mind.

Any argument against this would effectively have to claim that morality is as objective as math, which is demonstrably untrue.

It is true that I do not think morality is objective, or can ever be objective, but the reasons are a little different. Mathematics, or any other hard science, has a range of objective constants in it, and much of the work in developing any hard science lies in figuring out said constants, be they e=mc2, or pi=3.14159... Like you said, morality comes from the human mind, and there little-to-no constants in the human mind. People are born different, and I don't think there's any philosophy that can actually be accepted by all human minds without exception. Any one that tries will simply be rejected by those people whose minds it can never fit: at most, they might be coerced into pretending to follow it, while their mind twists it into something somewhat acceptable for them.

There are several champions of these subjects that I'm rather fond of. Sam Harris, a proponent of maximizing well-being, makes compelling arguments that morality entirely falls into the domain of science, and while I partially disagree, I do agree that as we know more about neuroscience and psychology, more about the mechanisms of morality will become less metaphysical and more scientific, thus expanding the glove you think should fit perfectly. Once again, humanity will have to reshape its mind to fit the evidence.

That being said, the evidence yielded from the fields mentioned above does not list humanity's primary function as self-interested. Rather, that is mostly a cultural indoctrination stemming from individualistic societies, like the one you and I live in. I also would like to add that the large amount of historical evidence that can be examined across all generations showing how subservient human beings can be yields the same skepticism in regards to your statement.

What I said to you also applies to Treet: I think he rather overestimates the degree to which the mind can be reshaped in the first place as well. He also overestimates the power of "cultural indoctrination", because again, culture can only change minds if it already fits at least some parts of said mind. Some "individualism" is always present (bar some mentally abnormal edge case or two), and same goes for "collectivism."


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