Nirvanam wrote:The dogma thing...that my belief that nothing is intrinsically right or wrong itself is a dogma...its a belief right, so it will have some characteristics of dogma. But it may not be as dogmatic as some ideological things which are like carved in stone.
True enough. You are clearly not inflexible in your beliefs. You are able to change your mind. But I suppose what I was trying to get at was that your belief that one person's "opinion and concept of reality is no more true or false than anyone else's" could end up being a kind of argument stifler, an intellectual cul-de-sac, a trump card that can be played to stop the flow of debate just when it might be starting to lead to the changing of minds. But I see that here you're talking about your belief that nothing is intrinsically right or wrong. By "right" and "wrong", do you mean "true" and "false" or do you mean morally or ethically right and wrong? If you're talking about ethics, then perhaps our views are closer than I'd realised. I have more sympathy with moral relativism than I do with ontological relativism or truth relativism. It's the stuff about concepts of reality that I struggle with.
Nirvanam wrote:Whether it is sustainable or not...well its a value system, life-view that is continuously changing because I myself am changing continuously...the way I think, new experiences, new perspectives on old experiences. This thing about no intrinsic right or wrong, that belief has kinda grown in me since the last 5-6 years. I notice I have become more forgiving or things, more understanding of why people behave the way they do (I may not agree with it though however I endeavor to understand their perspective), which has made me more tolerant, ultimately I have become less judgmental of things.
Again, if you're talking about moral rightness and wrongness, then I do understand what you mean. Although I wouldn't quite call myself a moral relativist, I do lean in that direction. (And I know I've mentioned this book many times before, but can I take the opportunity once again to recommend Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong
, by J.L. Mackie?)
Nirvanam wrote:if you meant sustainability as in it'll paralyze me from acting upon things...no that way no it doesn't. I mean I have my ethical value system and I have my beliefs about what is right and what is wrong, and I try not to act in a way in which is wrong as per my ethical value system.
No, I didn't mean that, but I know that's a common criticism of moral relativists. When I said I thought your view might be unsustainable, I was still thinking about your view that one person's "opinion and concept of reality is no more true or false than anyone else's". And I felt that it was unsustainable because it was somehow self-contradicting. Let's say that my concept of reality is that there is one true reality, and although none of us ever has more than a partial perception of that reality, and we often get distortions of it, nevertheless some perceptions of reality are closer to the truth than others. If that is my concept of reality, then how can it be no more true or false than your concept, when your concept is completely different to mine? I couldn't see how it would be possible to sustain a belief in the equal truth of opposing views.
Nirvanam wrote:The practice of Sati/Jowar was the "right" thing to do for the Rajputs during the first few centuries of Islamic invasion of India ... Today that practice is "wrong"
There is a lot of debate about the origins of Sati, and your version is disputed. (The Wikipedia article on Jauhar
and Saka says: "Despite occasional confusion, this practice is not related to "Sati". While both practices have been most common historically in the territory of modern Rajasthan, Sati was a custom performed by widowed women only, while Jauhar and Saka were committed while both the partners were living and only at a time of war.") In any case, I would be very wary of saying that a particular practice at a particular time was the "right" thing to do. One of my objections to certain formulations of moral relativist views is what seems to me to be an assumption that everyone who lived in a particular place at a particular time felt the same way about a particular practice. That might, I suppose, be the case. But what if it wasn't? What if just one person felt that it was the wrong thing to do? I've heard people say that Aristotle's view of slavery was not wrong, given the particular cultural context. But what would the slaves have felt about this? History is rarely written by the vanquished or the victims. If we're going to espouse moral relativism, then I think we should avoid broad brushstrokes. We shouldn't define a practice as being "right" for one entire culture, or one era, or one place, and "wrong" for another. Cultures, eras and places are heterogeneous and changing. If morality is relative, it is relative at the level of the individual. But in any case, I am uncomfortable with the pure idea that "Morality is relative" because it seems to me to be too absolute a statement. I think relativism is of partial value. It's not the whole story.
Nirvanam wrote:Murder is wrong and the guilty must serve a sentence, the murderer party was wrong. The context under which the murder happened was that, the victim assaulted a vulnerable person, say a woman was sexually assaulted and to defend herself she had to use the knife. Some people will find the act is not wrong given the context, some people find the act wrong. Forget what the law says that is immaterial to what we are discussing. Or ok, in country A's legal system the woman is found guilty, in country B's legal system the lady holding that weighing thing (what's it called?), does not wear a blindfold. Which system is right?
That weighing thing is called "the scales of justice". But this is moving further and further away from what you were talking about before. We're getting into the details of what constitutes extenuating circumstances for murder. Forget the detail. Let's stick to basics. If nothing is intrinsically right or wrong, why is murder wrong?
All the examples you have provided, Nirvanam, have been about whether something is ethically right or wrong. You have moved away from the idea of concepts of reality being equally valid. Although I'd be happy to discuss moral relativism, it's your belief in the relativity of reality
that I'm more interested in trying to understand.