INFORMATION

This website uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some of these cookies are essential to make our site work and others help us to improve by giving us some insight into how the site is being used. For further information, see our Privacy Policy. Continuing to use this website is acceptance of these cookies.

Are you a humanist or what?

Any topics that are primarily about humanism or other non-religious life stances fit in here.
Post Reply
Message
Author
Marian
Posts: 3985
Joined: August 23rd, 2009, 2:25 pm

Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#341 Post by Marian » January 18th, 2010, 12:33 am

Latest post of the previous page:

Thank you Lord Muck. I've started reading already :)
Transformative fire...

Hundovir
Posts: 806
Joined: June 21st, 2009, 3:23 pm

Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#342 Post by Hundovir » January 18th, 2010, 8:00 am

Marian wrote:
Hundovir wrote:I find it amusing that many atheists lambast Christians for needing "God's will" to justify acting "morally", but then feel the need to justify their own actions by claiming that they (the actions) are "good".
I have absolutely no idea how to respond to this other than to say that everything becomes relative then? All actions are open to being interpreted expediently?
Not "expediently", I think. That implies that one acts consciously for one's own advantage. I think it's more irrational and emotional than the word "expediently" would suggest.
I think I understand what you're saying about rejecting language. So how do you approve/disapprove of things, torture and racism, in particular?
Now, I know this sounds repetitive, but I'm not doing it to be annoying, honestly...
I disapprove of racism because I don't like it, I don't like its effects on people, it upsets me. It's the same with torturing kittens etc. etc. Now, I do not feel that I need to justify that reaction by also claiming that racism and torture (and the inherent suffering of others) is "wrong". The fact that I don't like it is justification in itself.

But how do we decide who's likes/dislikes we actually support in society? Now, it happens that most people have the same likes and dislikes as I do. We support the likes/dislikes of those who agree with us! We band together, we vote, we enact laws. We use force against those who disagree with us and won't change their behaviour after a nice little chat. (That's what arrest and imprisonment are - the use of force.) How can we justify that use of force? We don't need to. We can "dress it up" in moral language, true, but that's all it is - dressing.

Hundovir wrote:The Hellenistic idea of eudaimonia - flourishing (as articulated by Paolo and Ikiru) is interesting and has a lot of mileage I think. But, again, human flourishing is only significant if it is something we want.
I've ordered a book on Nicomachean Ethics from the library; I am curious about it too. Well, I suppose forcing you to like the idea isn't really helpful :wink: What is it about flourishing that has mileage?
I've tried to read Aristotle's Ethics, but I can't get very far. Concerning "flourishing", I find the Stoics much more accessible, particularly the writings of Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. Also taking a broadly similar approach are the neo-Confucians. The "flourishing" approach uses the idea of certain "virtues" that we value. We value them because of the effects they have on individual and social life. They lead to "wider" and "deeper" possibilities for human life.

Er... I'm sounding rather vague I fear.
Here's a fave quote of mine from a neo-Confucian. I've posted it before, but it fits here (and will perhaps reassure you that I'm not a complete monster :hilarity: )

from Zhang Zai's "Western Inscription":
Heaven is my father and Earth is my mother. I, this tiny being, find an intimate place in their midst. Therefore what fills Heaven and Earth, I regard as my body, and that which directs Heaven and Earth I regard as my nature.

All people are from the same womb as I, and all creatures are my companions.

...All persons in the world who are exhausted, decrepit, worn out, or ill, or who are brotherless, childless, widowers, or widowed, are my own brothers and sisters who have become helpless and have none to whom they can appeal.

Wealth, honour, good fortune, and abundance will enrich my life. Poverty, humiliation, grief, and sorrow will discipline me and make me complete.

In life I shall serve compliantly and in death I shall be at peace.
Mencius (a very important Confucian) said that the mark of "true" human is "the inability to bear the suffering of others".
PS. Sorry if my crack about the 3 year old caused upset; sometimes I am too blunt.
:kiss:

Marian
Posts: 3985
Joined: August 23rd, 2009, 2:25 pm

Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#343 Post by Marian » January 20th, 2010, 1:25 am

Hundovir wrote: Not "expediently", I think. That implies that one acts consciously for one's own advantage. I think it's more irrational and emotional than the word "expediently" would suggest.
Oh crap! I've let my paranoid view of people peek through using that 'expedient' word. Whatever will I do now?
But doesn't acting in an irrational/emotional manner potentially cause more disruption? I'm not saying be unemotional but isn't some rational consideration of one's feelings important. Or am I missing the boat again?
Hundovir wrote:Now, I know this sounds repetitive, but I'm not doing it to be annoying, honestly...
I disapprove of racism because I don't like it, I don't like its effects on people, it upsets me. It's the same with torturing kittens etc. etc. Now, I do not feel that I need to justify that reaction by also claiming that racism and torture (and the inherent suffering of others) is "wrong". The fact that I don't like it is justification in itself.
Your repetition is helpful for me to understand your ideas...sometimes it takes awhile what with all that empty space up there in between my ears :)
I don't like racism or torture or suffering either so we agree on this. That's hopeful.
Questions: isn't using the word 'disapprove' imply that whatever action is in question is at least mildly 'wrong'? Ok, you say that not liking something is the justification. What if I like murdering people? Does that make it ok?
Hundovir wrote:But how do we decide who's likes/dislikes we actually support in society? Now, it happens that most people have the same likes and dislikes as I do. We support the likes/dislikes of those who agree with us! We band together, we vote, we enact laws. We use force against those who disagree with us and won't change their behaviour after a nice little chat. (That's what arrest and imprisonment are - the use of force.) How can we justify that use of force? We don't need to. We can "dress it up" in moral language, true, but that's all it is - dressing.
It seems to me that majority rule is how our society functions (sort of) but that doesn't mean the decision is correct/useful/right. (I still need to use this language :) ) Isn't voting merely popular consent? Not every single person is going to agree What about Jim Crow laws? Or not giving women the vote?

Some people subvert majority rules for their own benefit. is George Bush and cronies re: torture at Guantanamo/Abu Gharaib
We've made rules against this type of thing. ie Geneva convention but there hasn't been an arrests/imprisonment for these people. How does that fit in here?
Hundovir wrote: The "flourishing" approach uses the idea of certain "virtues" that we value. We value them because of the effects they have on individual and social life. They lead to "wider" and "deeper" possibilities for human life.
But how are these 'virtues' different from morals? Isn't it just another word?

Not a complete monster... :) :kiss:
Hundovir wrote:from Zhang Zai's "Western Inscription":
Heaven is my father and Earth is my mother. I, this tiny being, find an intimate place in their midst. Therefore what fills Heaven and Earth, I regard as my body, and that which directs Heaven and Earth I regard as my nature.
All people are from the same womb as I, and all creatures are my companions.
...All persons in the world who are exhausted, decrepit, worn out, or ill, or who are brotherless, childless, widowers, or widowed, are my own brothers and sisters who have become helpless and have none to whom they can appeal.
Wealth, honour, good fortune, and abundance will enrich my life. Poverty, humiliation, grief, and sorrow will discipline me and make me complete.
In life I shall serve compliantly and in death I shall be at peace.
Oh, I like this Inscription. Thanks for sharing! Any others you want to share?
Hundovir wrote:Mencius (a very important Confucian) said that the mark of "true" human is "the inability to bear the suffering of others".
True 'nuff.
Transformative fire...

Ikiru
Posts: 273
Joined: December 26th, 2009, 7:19 am

Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#344 Post by Ikiru » January 20th, 2010, 1:53 am

Marian wrote:It seems to me that majority rule is how our society functions (sort of) but that doesn't mean the decision is correct/useful/right. (I still need to use this language :) ) Isn't voting merely popular consent? Not every single person is going to agree What about Jim Crow laws? Or not giving women the vote?
Good points. And this also raises the question of not only present day issues but how we judge the past. There was a time (not so long ago) in the southern US where lynching black people was the norm (to the point that you could buy postcards of men and children standing with pride around the corpse of a hanged man). If this was OK back then, then are we justified in judging such deeds as horrendous? Apartheid in South Africa was once OK until it simply became unfashionable? And where is the tipping point where (for example) Martin Luther King, Jr. is no longer just a subversive troublemaker and Jim Crow laws and so on are in the wrong?

Even if ill-defined, there is some overarching principle that is more than a mere numbers game. Common in the struggle for human rights has been the appeal to empathy (which is badly put in the so-called "Golden Rule"-- this doesn't require an absolutist ethics, but it does demand response-ability.)
Sketches from Life
“The materials for poetry are all about you in profusion.” ~ Masaoka Shiki

Marian
Posts: 3985
Joined: August 23rd, 2009, 2:25 pm

Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#345 Post by Marian » January 20th, 2010, 1:54 pm

Marian wrote:It seems to me that majority rule is how our society functions (sort of) but that doesn't mean the decision is correct/useful/right. (I still need to use this language :) ) Isn't voting merely popular consent? Not every single person is going to agree What about Jim Crow laws? Or not giving women the vote?
Ikiru wrote:Good points. And this also raises the question of not only present day issues but how we judge the past. There was a time (not so long ago) in the southern US where lynching black people was the norm (to the point that you could buy postcards of men and children standing with pride around the corpse of a hanged man). If this was OK back then, then are we justified in judging such deeds as horrendous? Apartheid in South Africa was once OK until it simply became unfashionable? And where is the tipping point where (for example) Martin Luther King, Jr. is no longer just a subversive troublemaker and Jim Crow laws and so on are in the wrong?

Thank you.
I think we are justified in judging these deeds as wrong and horrendous. In fact, if we don't categorically renounce these acts with appropriate laws (which we do, thankfully) and consequences (which we often don't, depending on whom we're dealing with), we are, in effect, giving a tacit approval to them, imo.

We need to look at how laws are actually made and by whom and for what purpose. While I like to kid myself that we're looking out for each other, experience shows me that quite often, it's a matter of political gain, personal favors, popularity, business interests etc and way down at the bottom is the little voice of human rights.

Leaving out the words 'right' and 'wrong' and substituting 'like/dislike' makes me very nervous. My cynicism says that even with actions clearly defined and codified in law, we're still killing each other so would changing the words create a free-for-all in actual practice?

Sometimes, it kinda looks that way to me with the laws and ethics propped up as window dressing and we pay lip service to human rights but that's only on my better days... :wink:
Ikiru wrote:Even if ill-defined, there is some overarching principle that is more than a mere numbers game. Common in the struggle for human rights has been the appeal to empathy (which is badly put in the so-called "Golden Rule"-- this doesn't require an absolutist ethics, but it does demand response-ability.)
I like the idea of response-ability. Talk to me about why the appeal to empathy is badly put in the Golden Rule.
Transformative fire...

Ikiru
Posts: 273
Joined: December 26th, 2009, 7:19 am

Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#346 Post by Ikiru » January 22nd, 2010, 4:41 am

The common formulation of the so-called "golden rule" is from the Bible: Do unto other as you would have them do unto you. But this rule of thumb simply doesn't work in certain instances, and not just in jokes about sado-masochism!

For instance, I've worked in a drug rehab project in New Orleans and now I work in the ER (I'm just a lowly clerk). In the ER, we get the occasional drug-seeker who has come for the express purpose of getting hold of pain meds, even when it is not needed. We get the occasional "regulars" that come in as well who are drug seeking. The golden rule simply doesn't work in such an instance.

The problem is that what *I* would want and what the drug seeker wants are two very different incompatible things. Me, being a rational person, might say in theory that I would not want to be given drugs that might only further my addiction to pain meds. "This is for you own good," etc. But would I be thinking that if I myself were actually addicted to pain meds? No, of course not. As a hypothetical drug seeker, I would want to be given the drugs, my overall well-being be damned. The golden rule makes no sense here whatsoever.

Sometimes there are incompatibilities with what *I* would want and what someone else would want. That incompatibility makes the golden rule not the best formulation of empathy. Its not bad, per se, but its not perfect either.

I sometimes like to use the term response-ability to highlight some of the implications of the word "responsibility" (I'm not sure if someone else has used this term before, no one that I'm aware of or that I can recall, though I am sure its not an original idea) No one exists in a vacuum, we aren't just a bunch of monads acting independently from one another. Everyone and everything is interconnected. We all have the ability to respond (as opposed to merely react) to our environment-- the question is whether this ability is cultivated or not, whether we value that ability or not. Its really just a matter of being lucid of one's surroundings, being aware of the interconnection between oneself and the larger environment. Hundovir's Mencius quote is a good expression of this. If you are unable to see someone suffer, then what can you do to contribute to reducing, if not stopping that suffering? And even when that is not possible, how can you at least express some sense of sympathy and solidarity? And I don't mean just some sort of hallmark card platitudes, of course.

There was something I saw in the news late last year if I recall, about a programme in the UK teaching young children about caring for insects. The point is not to turn these kids into a bunch of Jainists LOL but simply to help foster a sense of empathy. Its a good idea I think. Even other animals have been known to show empathy, even to animals of other species. Of course, it could be pointed out that animals are can also be cruel-- the natural world isn't all butterflies and roses. But do we want "social darwinism"? There are only a few people who would really benefit from that (i.e. the rich-- which is why conservativism and social darwinism always go hand-in-hand). Certainly the world is a better place to be when we cultivate empathy rather than a "f***-you-I-got-mine" mentality, even if it means making some degree of sacrifice (the very thing social darwinists don't want, particularly if they are riding high on the hog).

None of this has to do with a set of absolute moral rules, but about an awareness of others. The problem with conventional (and usually religious based) morality is that it has absolutely nothing to do with facing any individuals but with conforming to a set of external rules, which are in fact, quite rigid. The world however, is much more flexible and complex, and is not just a series of "thou shalts" and "thou shalt nots." An extreme example of this kind of thinking where the hiding Jews from Nazis comes into conflict with the "morality" of lying. Seriously-- this is a point Christians have actually made-- and even for those who really did in fact do such tried to justify it internally so that they weren't really telling lies, just not telling the whole truth. It is bizarre to me that anyone would even think there was some sort of moral quandary here.

On the other hand, I have read of those who did hide Jews (some religious, some not) who didn't have to go through mental gymnastics to justify anything. It was not unusual for people who had hid Jews to simply say "I don't think I could have done otherwise," etc. It was unthinkable to do the alternative. It had nothing to do with a moral code but simply responding to the concrete situation before them. Empathy and response-ability had more to do with this than morality or metaphysics. There was nothing external to turn toward-- in fact it was unnecessary, if not downright counterproductive. (this isn't to say that there are no such thing as being between a rock and a hard place, but I find it hard to imagine someone would think this was one of those situations, all because lying is "evil."). Response-ability is driven internally, whereas morality is something imposed externally.
Sketches from Life
“The materials for poetry are all about you in profusion.” ~ Masaoka Shiki

Compassionist
Posts: 3487
Joined: July 14th, 2007, 8:38 am

#347 Post by Compassionist » January 23rd, 2010, 2:46 am

:)

Hundovir
Posts: 806
Joined: June 21st, 2009, 3:23 pm

Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#348 Post by Hundovir » January 23rd, 2010, 2:59 pm

@ Marian: Sorry for the delayed reply. I'll address a couple of points.
Marian wrote:Ok, you say that not liking something is the justification. What if I like murdering people? Does that make it ok?
I suspect you are implying "does that make it morally good?" I've already said that I believe such language is superfluous. What if you do like murdering people? I am under no "obligation" to have the same likes as you.
Marian wrote:It seems to me that majority rule is how our society functions (sort of) but that doesn't mean the decision is correct/useful/right. (I still need to use this language :) ) Isn't voting merely popular consent? Not every single person is going to agree What about Jim Crow laws? Or not giving women the vote?
Yes that is how it functions - the majority view is enforced by might.
Marian wrote:Some people subvert majority rules for their own benefit. is George Bush and cronies re: torture at Guantanamo/Abu Gharaib
We've made rules against this type of thing. ie Geneva convention but there hasn't been an arrests/imprisonment for these people. How does that fit in here?
But labelling those things "wrong" doesn't stop people doing them either does it?

"Put your hands up, I'm robbing this bank."
"But robbing banks is wrong!"
"Oh, I'm sorry, I had no idea. I'll stop immediately." :laughter:

Marian
Posts: 3985
Joined: August 23rd, 2009, 2:25 pm

Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#349 Post by Marian » January 23rd, 2010, 8:24 pm

Ikiru wrote:The common formulation of the so-called "golden rule" is from the Bible: Do unto other as you would have them do unto you.
Does this mean we can beat abusers senselessly since that's how they're behaving? :twisted: That's terrible.
Ikiru wrote:Sometimes there are incompatibilities with what *I* would want and what someone else would want. That incompatibility makes the golden rule not the best formulation of empathy. Its not bad, per se, but its not perfect either.
Not to mention that quite often the 'rule' is only paid lip service or followed at one's convenience. And if one is a psychopath, all bets are off! :)
Ikiru wrote: We all have the ability to respond (as opposed to merely react) to our environment-- the question is whether this ability is cultivated or not, whether we value that ability or not. Its really just a matter of being lucid of one's surroundings, being aware of the interconnection between oneself and the larger environment.
Spot on!
Sadly, reaction seems to be a common behaviour of choice. More wars are started that way...

The issue of valuation and cultivation are intertwined in the sense that each one reinforces the other. What we value, we tend to cultivate and vice versa. However, it seems that empathy (as defined by dictionary.com: the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another) is a rare commodity and we'd be well off cultivating more.
When our will is jump-started (ie. Haiti), we do respond, although it tends to come most quickly from those intimately connected to those suffering, at least at first. I'd love to do an informal study of those medical providers who respond virtually instantly yet who have no intimate connection to sufferers. What makes someone do that? I have a few ideas...

Lucidity: that which religion, politics and education seek to stomp out. :) Our culture here seems to make a profession out of avoiding reality. Though you might not know it with all the 'reality' shows out there. As an aside, when people start talking about the show 'Survivor', I have a hard time biting my tongue to stop myself from saying: 'I think those guys should get dropped in the middle of Nigeria or Afghanistan for a week so they can appreciate real survival!' Needless to say, I've burst their denial bubble...I am so bad!

Ikiru wrote: Hundovir's Mencius quote is a good expression of this. If you are unable to see someone suffer, then what can you do to contribute to reducing, if not stopping that suffering? And even when that is not possible, how can you at least express some sense of sympathy and solidarity? And I don't mean just some sort of hallmark card platitudes, of course.
Hallmark has made millions off that triteness...bastards! Wish I'd thought of it first. :) Sadly, many people are quickly able to justify someone else's suffering. 'Oh, they are lazy', Or 'they must have done something to deserve that', or they're not Xians, Muslims or whatever group you want to fill in the blank with. As if that somehow erases the pain.
Or the most common one is 'don't talk about it', usually implied. Denial does not make a problem disappear but it can fit under the rug for a while.
Ikiru wrote: There was something I saw in the news late last year if I recall, about a programme in the UK teaching young children about caring for insects. The point is not to turn these kids into a .bunch of Jainists LOL but simply to help foster a sense of empathy. Its a good idea I think. Even other animals have been known to show empathy, even to animals of other species.

This is a program for young offenders to work closely with abandoned dogs. Both the two-legged and four-legged ones benefit. http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/s ... enDocument
Brilliant idea, imo.

Ikiru wrote: Of course, it could be pointed out that animals are can also be cruel-- the natural world isn't all butterflies and roses. But do we want "social darwinism"? There are only a few people who would really benefit from that (i.e. the rich-- which is why conservativism and social darwinism always go hand-in-hand). Certainly the world is a better place to be when we cultivate empathy rather than a "f***-you-I-got-mine" mentality, even if it means making some degree of sacrifice (the very thing social darwinists don't want, particularly if they are riding high on the hog).
I agree with what you've said here. Although I often think humans are the cruelest of all especially since they are capable of doing it consciously.
Social Darwinism and its mutant off-spring 'eugenics' are horrifying. Carnegie, Rockefellers and Kellogg cannot erase their ties to Cold Water Harbour or to the Nazi's Mengele. Hitler was not the first to implement eugenics although he did take it to an extreme. Social Darwinism and eugenics are probably the main reason why I think we have to tread carefully with respect to language and ethical behaviour. Language is very powerful.

Ikiru wrote: None of this has to do with a set of absolute moral rules, but about an awareness of others. The problem with conventional (and usually religious based) morality is that it has absolutely nothing to do with facing any individuals but with conforming to a set of external rules, which are in fact, quite rigid. The world however, is much more flexible and complex, and is not just a series of "thou shalts" and "thou shalt nots."
I am reminded of Pirates of the Caribbean where the young woman says: 'What about the code?' The reply by the pirate captain is: They're more like guidelines! :) So true though. Absolute rules don't take into consideration individuals or their circumstances. In terms of xian religion, it's not really about caring for others, it's about trying to guarantee a spot in an imaginary place. Not to mention, it's far easier to fall back on a set of prescribed rules than to think for oneself.

Ikiru wrote: An extreme example of this kind of thinking where the hiding Jews from Nazis comes into conflict with the "morality" of lying. Seriously-- this is a point Christians have actually made-- and even for those who really did in fact do such tried to justify it internally so that they weren't really telling lies, just not telling the whole truth. It is bizarre to me that anyone would even think there was some sort of moral quandary here.
I agree. Where is the moral quandary in that situation? There isn't one...I'd have reported them straight away to the proper authorities...NOT! Did I tell you that I got to see the building where Anne Frank stayed in Holland? Historical buildings fascinate me when I know the story behind them. Sadly, I was also taken to a tank museum in Finland :( Those guys liked to hang out with the Nazis. I ended up sitting outside the musuem as I couldn't stand being viscerally reminded of WWll.
Ikiru wrote:On the other hand, I have read of those who did hide Jews (some religious, some not) who didn't have to go through mental gymnastics to justify anything. It was not unusual for people who had hid Jews to simply say "I don't think I could have done otherwise," etc. It was unthinkable to do the alternative. It had nothing to do with a moral code but simply responding to the concrete situation before them. Empathy and response-ability had more to do with this than morality or metaphysics.
Ultimately, it comes down to our actions but if we, generally speaking, aren't able to(or refuse to) assess a situation beyond the rigid rules of a particular time and place, we'll fall back on moment to moment feelings which fluctuate depending on mood, childhood upbringing, our stress level/ how tired we are. It's helpful to at least understand what empathy and response-ability are all about. I think we've got to teach these skills, imo. I'm not saying there isn't some built-in proponent toward empathy but it needs cultivation as we said before.

Ikiru wrote:Response-ability is driven internally, whereas morality is something imposed externally.
But if we are teaching children/young offenders empathy, then the ability to respond could potentially be driven externally too, no?
Transformative fire...

Ikiru
Posts: 273
Joined: December 26th, 2009, 7:19 am

Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#350 Post by Ikiru » January 23rd, 2010, 10:47 pm

Marian wrote:Lucidity: that which religion, politics and education seek to stomp out. :) Our culture here seems to make a profession out of avoiding reality.
Ouch. But all too true...

Unsurprisingly, religion and politics must often resort to Manichean-type thinking to maintain its power. In such thinking, one must always alienate their perceived enemies rather than see them as living, breathing human beings.

I think absolutism and authoritarianism and are perhaps the two biggest deliberately erected barriers to empathy (in the US, that would mean most of the Republican party, and most forms of conservativism). In most educational systems too, there is a strong tendency to authoritarianism and conformity.

Like MLK said: "Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle." And, sadly, history shows this time and again. What was really unique about MLK and Gandhi's approach to non-violent resistance was to awaken empathy in those who often sat on the sidelines -- they were able to awaken within them a human connection and therefore gained their support, whereas beforehand they often tacitly accepted the status quo.
Marian wrote:But if we are teaching children/young offenders empathy, then the ability to respond could potentially be driven externally too, no?
I would prefer to say something like "awaken an empathic response," where an appeal could be made to recognise in themselves their own response-ability. Of course I say this not having children too! I wonder how early children pick up on more strict authoritarian child-rearing methods and how it affects their ability to interact with others? I'm sure there is a connection, but I wonder how early this might register with the child on some level.
Compassionist wrote:Isn't responsibility directly proportional to one's ability to respond?
Yes, that's really all we really can do. Otherwise we could simply drive ourselves crazy. You can only try to strike a balance. I think giving everything away really isn't a solution any more than being stingy. Becoming just like the homeless, for example, doesn't solve anything (which is why I have a real problem with Jesus' injunction to give away everything to the poor). It is only by a society pooling together its resources that can offer any help.

I don't think the world can be made into a perfect utopia, but that doesn't mean we should throw in the towel and not give a damn (some people will use this as a justification for their own greed).

I think also, not through legislation, but through lifestyle and culture, we need to get away from consumerism. If people in developed countries lived more frugally, it would make a difference. The third world exists basically for the sake of the developed countries. Its a good thing having labour laws and regulations on corporations, but they just move overseas to take advantage of people elsewhere who would, out of desperation, take a job regardless of the conditions.

We CAN live with less. I was fortunate enough to find an wee apartment right next to the hospital where I work. So far this year, I have driven 25 miles (40 km)-- which is still more than I intended. Of course, I am trying to save money as well, but I find that living with less is quite liberating (granted, in my situation, I have no children, just a cat!). But I do think we could all examine our spending habits. I forget who it was that said this, something to the effect that the real enemy of capitalism was not Marx but Thoreau. There are many ways we can live with less and still live quite comfortably. Of course it helps when you live in an environment condusive to that sort of thing. I don't think I've ever lived in any city that had bicycle lanes, for example.

But as far as this goes, this isn't something to be legislated, but to be a part of culture, where excess is frowned upon and people could enjoy things in a way that is not dependent on buying the Next Big Thing.
Compassionist wrote:In the movie the 'Iron Man' Tony Stark said "Peace means having a bigger stick than the other guy."
You mean US American foreign policy? :wink:

If we choose to look at things only in the short term with of our current lifestyle and policies and narrow interests, future generations WILL suffer tremendously in the long run, along with the other inhabitant of this planet. There have been people who have pointed this out again and again, but if no one listens, well, we won't have anyone to blame but ourselves. No god will save us, there is no afterlife to right any wrongs-- we've got no guarantees about anything, no deus ex machina to save the day. We are alone. The best we've got is the ability to empathise, and a really important tool called reason, which so many people are still so unwilling to use. To be honest, its amazing that we have not yet destroyed ourselves!
Sketches from Life
“The materials for poetry are all about you in profusion.” ~ Masaoka Shiki

Marian
Posts: 3985
Joined: August 23rd, 2009, 2:25 pm

Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#351 Post by Marian » January 26th, 2010, 2:44 am

Ikiru wrote: Unsurprisingly, religion and politics must often resort to Manichean-type thinking to maintain its power. In such thinking, one must always alienate their perceived enemies rather than see them as living, breathing human beings.
Just like military training.
Ikiru wrote:I think absolutism and authoritarianism and are perhaps the two biggest deliberately erected barriers to empathy (in the US, that would mean most of the Republican party, and most forms of conservativism). In most educational systems too, there is a strong tendency to authoritarianism and conformity.
I think the Founding Fathers would be horrified. It certainly is easier to govern conforming robots though. Don't think, do! Many times people feel more comfortable with the illusion of security that comes with absolutism/authoritarianism.
Ikiru wrote:Like MLK said: "Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle." And, sadly, history shows this time and again. What was really unique about MLK and Gandhi's approach to non-violent resistance was to awaken empathy in those who often sat on the sidelines -- they were able to awaken within them a human connection and therefore gained their support, whereas beforehand they often tacitly accepted the status quo.
Without struggle, complacency sets in. Human connection often changes the dynamics betweeen people and it's part of the reason why religions often want their adherents to remain with similar type folk. Less chance of seeing the 'other' as human.
There was a program I saw some time ago regarding a group of Jewish girls who played basketball with their Palestinian counterparts. Once they figured out what was common between them, things became easier.

Ikiru wrote:I would prefer to say something like "awaken an empathic response," where an appeal could be made to recognise in themselves their own response-ability. Of course I say this not having children too! I wonder how early children pick up on more strict authoritarian child-rearing methods and how it affects their ability to interact with others? I'm sure there is a connection, but I wonder how early this might register with the child on some level.
So you think it's possible that empathy is inherent in people but is often dormant? I'm not so sure about that but I'd like to hear more. Got any good books to read on the subject?

I can tell you don't have children :wink: because you'd know they have got to be the most self-centered creatures ever! It takes a long time before they can even think about empathizing. Usually, it's all about ME ME ME and unfortunately many people never get out of that type of thinking. What's curious though is that some people appear to be more empathetic than others. What do you make of that?

I would say young children pick up on authoritarian methods very early at least subconsciously. The older they get, the more obvious parenting styles become but it depends on the personality of the child in question.

Ikiru wrote: It is only by a society pooling together its resources that can offer any help.
Are you suggesting co-operation is in order here? What an outrageous statement. :wink:
Transformative fire...

thundril
Posts: 3607
Joined: July 4th, 2008, 5:02 pm

Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#352 Post by thundril » January 26th, 2010, 2:54 pm

Marian wrote: So you think it's possible that empathy is inherent in people but is often dormant? I'm not so sure about that but I'd like to hear more. Got any good books to read on the subject?

:
Might I suggest 'How babies think' by Alison Gopnik? A revelation, especially for anyone with an interest in philosophy..
Oh, or an interest in children, I s'pose!

Marian
Posts: 3985
Joined: August 23rd, 2009, 2:25 pm

Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#353 Post by Marian » January 26th, 2010, 4:50 pm

thundril wrote:
Might I suggest 'How babies think' by Alison Gopnik? A revelation, especially for anyone with an interest in philosophy..
Oh, or an interest in children, I s'pose!
Could you by any chance outline how the author(s) indicate that empathy is dormant? I read some articles on the book and I'm having a hard time jumping from the idea that an infant can know something about statistics because they focus more on white balls than red balls, or something like that. They don't know jack sh** about stats but they aren't blind. They aren't stupid either. They observe a difference. Ok, I can buy that.

While I agree with this article that many adults tend to block out much of what goes on around them, I would suggest it's from learning over time that to say how things really are is 'dangerous'. They've, for the most part, been conditioned to ignore reality to a greater or lesser degree. Just a theory.
Transformative fire...

Lord Muck oGentry
Posts: 633
Joined: September 1st, 2007, 3:48 pm

Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#354 Post by Lord Muck oGentry » January 27th, 2010, 1:36 am

Hundovir wrote:I find it amusing that many atheists lambast Christians for needing "God's will" to justify acting "morally", but then feel the need to justify their own actions by claiming that they (the actions) are "good"
Hundovir,
I suspect we've been here before. You are making heavy weather of a simple matter: how we use the word good. To call an action ( or anything else) good is pretty much just to commend it. It is not to attribute some special property to it over and above what we are commending it for.

A simple example from a nonmoral context: I say that I've just bought a good knife. You ask me what's good about it, and I reply that it's sharp. I have just commended the knife for being a sharp knife ( and, by implication, other knives for being sharp knives). What I have not done is say or suggest or imply that the knife has some property ( " goodness") over and above its being sharp.

Now, let's try an example from a moral context: I say that's it's good to give money to a beggar in my street. You ask me what's good about it, and I reply that it relieves his misery. I have just commended the action for relieving misery etc., etc. What I have not done is say or suggest or imply that the action has some property (" goodness") over and above its relieving misery.

If your objection to the atheist's use of good in a full-blooded moral sense is that it implies some objectionable or mysterious property, I think you have simply misunderstood how the word good works.
What we can't say, we can't say and we can't whistle it either. — Frank Ramsey

tea_ismynewjesus
Posts: 60
Joined: March 21st, 2010, 4:16 pm

Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#355 Post by tea_ismynewjesus » April 28th, 2010, 7:22 pm

Atheist and Naturalist firstly.

Agnostic about god but only in the sense that I'm agnostic about tooth fairies.

I yearn for a more Secular government and I love Humanist ethics. Oh look: Secular Humanist.

Probably not a freethinker, thinking too much gives me headaches and nosebleeds.

For religious, I can understand the understand Einsteinian religion standpoint... and the Celestial Teapot, obviously.

Johnnywas
Posts: 53
Joined: May 7th, 2010, 12:20 am

Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#356 Post by Johnnywas » May 10th, 2010, 12:11 am

Atheist, yes. I don't believe in God. I can't call my self an agnostic because I have no doubt

Humanist, yes. I think it is important to have discuss and share values. those values are part of our humanity.

Secularist, yes. its important that the church and state are separate

Pantheist, yes its important that as humanists we recognises the importance of nature and that we relate better to nature, the environment and the cosmos. its also important that we can draw inspiration from nature and feel part of it. but no, nature is not embued with a supernatural force

West Ham Supporter

mines a pint of fosters, please.

User avatar
coledavis
Posts: 369
Joined: August 17th, 2008, 6:29 pm

Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#357 Post by coledavis » May 10th, 2010, 2:10 am

I notice the 'Golden Rule' is back, re. the experience in the drug rehabilitation. Yes, the 'do as you would have done' is full of holes, but have you considered the negative Golden Rule?
don't do to others what you wouldn't have done to yourself (see Rabbi Hillel)
http://www.coledavis.org - insight analyst, specialist in the interpretation of surveys for charities and education

http://www.careersteer.org - careers quiz helping people to choose their career direction

Gottard
Posts: 1306
Joined: October 3rd, 2008, 3:11 pm

Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#358 Post by Gottard » May 10th, 2010, 10:51 am

The "Golden Rule" is to be used with hindsight. No rule is inherently self-fulfilling. If you drive a Ferrari judicious conduct is your own responsibility.
The only thing I fear of death is regret if I couldn’t complete my learning experience

Compassionist
Posts: 3487
Joined: July 14th, 2007, 8:38 am

#359 Post by Compassionist » May 12th, 2010, 10:25 pm

:)
Attachments
compassionist.png
compassionist.png (176.23 KiB) Viewed 2428 times

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 24062
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#360 Post by Alan H » May 12th, 2010, 11:17 pm

Not sure why you'd think I'd find that intriguing!
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

Compassionist
Posts: 3487
Joined: July 14th, 2007, 8:38 am

Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#361 Post by Compassionist » May 13th, 2010, 7:32 pm

:)

Post Reply