Have to say I hate linguistic arguments. But that last sentence is
full of charged words. "Believe in"...as in "value" or accept the
existence of? I certainly accept the existence of "good" - but that is
also so charged a word. I believe (!) that the existence of the
universe, of earth, of life itself can be deemed to be "good". I value
all the above. I prefer that they exist than that they not exist. I
relish the beauty and the vigour and the excitement of life etc. I
want to be part of it as long as possible. I think all but the most
unhappy people feel likewise. I know this is "goodness" in a sentient
or cerebral sense - as opposed to the moral or philosophical or
theological sense you may (?) have in mind.
Evil? People do evil things, unforgiveable things. But - again - I
don't "believe" in the existence of evil as some kind of extra-
Evolution and nature are indifferent to suffering,
> indeed letting it be a part of life. Our current life's situations
> complete with greed, competition, survival of the fittest? would not
> appear any different than all of history ever has been, according to
> the naturalist.
I think today we - most of us -are more aware of the "other" as
people, of their feelings etc. Any perusal of past regimes in
education, military life, work etc etc shows utter insensitivity to
children, employees, slaves etc. It is a small hope.
So how is your current predisposition toward
> compassion any more objectively justifiable than, say, Mueller's
> eugenic program of sterilizing the poor ? or putting them out of their
Tough question. Objectively justified? No, can't be. No outside force
to justify it. It's a choice. It's a decision based on a valuation of
life - as above - and of our role in life and our potential as a
species. I say in the web-site that we are "the mind of matter". I
think this confers a huge obligation. But even if this were not true I
think the foregoing decision about how we should live would still be
my wish. I also think it would be the wish of the vast majority of the
human race. This is not a statement that will stand any philosopical
scrutiny. It is akin to the observation above that life etc is good. I
feel...I hope...I think... that I - we - can base a comprehensive view
of life on these banal facts. They have none of the majesty of past
fabrications. They are a quiet valuation of life generally and us
The world has seen environmental calamities that make
> anything we have done to the world so far look like an innocent picnic
> in the park. And evolution simply responded and adapted each time,
Absolutely right. So do we just submit to this reality? Or do we
recognise our very special ability, first, to see this, and second,to
impose some order of our choosing on it. I suggest the latter. It will
happen anyway. www.humanisation.org is an attempt to impart some
direction to this process. Spread the word, baby!
Thanks for your well thought out posts. As soon as I'm able I'll
check your web site. The ? of good and evil is one I've bounced
around within myself with some vigor. I feel on the edge of more
understanding of it and think discourse with others is helpful.
I'll throw out some loose thoughts to you. Individuals seem like a
complex relationship of many different forces that have been harnessed
together both consciously and subconsciously by one (for lack of a
better term) will. These forces like the different forces of nature
have no moral quality, however the individual does.
Sort of like a hurricane. Wind and water combined in a destructive
force, but when seperated also a beneficial force.
Anyway, just throwing this out. Forgive the intrusion if it is too
We call something "good" if it meets a real need we have as individuals,
society, or species. Air, food, and water are essential to us. Without them
we experience discomfort, and if we go without them for too long, we die.
The necessary "means" to these essentials are also really needed. We require
freedom to hunt and gather food, and find water, or work to earn money to
buy food and shelter. Cooperation is good because it makes specialization
possible, improving quality and quantity of the things we need.
"Morality" is about finding ways to achieve good, for ourselves and others.
"Principles" are called "moral" if they normally advance good and/or reduce
harm. A principle like "x is wrong" implies that x interferes with achieving
good and/or causes harm. A person's intent is called "moral" if the person
intends to achieve good and reduce harm, for others as well as for himself.
An "immoral intent" seeks selfish desires, even at the expense of others. If
we are to distinguish an "evil intent", it would perhaps be the preference
to satisfy oneself at the expense of others. And yes, we all have good and
evil within us.
> ... Individuals seem like a complex relationship of many different forces
> that have been harnessed together both consciously and subconsciously by
> one (for lack of a better term) will. These forces like the different
> forces of nature have no moral quality, however the individual does. ... <
I don't think it is random, like a storm. Each of us is moved, by life
itself, to seek out our real necessities, that is, those things which are
good for us. But we often develop desires for things which are not so good.
Sometimes the thing we desire (like a cigarette, for example) may be very
bad for us. The key thing to remember though, is that we all need the same
basic things, even though our desires float in many directions. So it is
possible for each of us to steer a moral course which will meet our
essential needs and allow others to meet their needs as well. And this
willingness to pursue the general good, and not just our own, is the key to
morality. So, morality is not random, but has a specific goal, to achieve
the best possible good for everyone, and though we often disagree upon how
to get there, we share the same objective.
By your definition, morality is incompatible with capitalism and
democracy. Capitalism says that everyone is by nature selfish and
seeks own self-interest and profit, mostly at the expense of others.
Democracy, which is group oriented, says that every group should seek
political power in order to promote its "selfish" ideology, usually at
the expense of others. Therefore both capitalism and democracy are by
your definition immoral.
> By your definition, morality is incompatible with capitalism and
> democracy. Capitalism says that everyone is by nature selfish and seeks
> own self-interest and profit, mostly at the expense of others. Democracy,
> which is group oriented, says that every group should seek political power
> in order to promote its "selfish" ideology, usually at the expense of
> others. Therefore both capitalism and democracy are by your definition
> immoral. <
Interesting spin. Well, actually, cyncism is so common in newsgroups these
days that it's not that interesting anymore.
Anyway, there was this book on Systems Analysis I read long ago, and it was
describing how one should document an existing system before designing a new
one. It said you want to identify the "good" or benefit the organization or
business provided to the community, because that is what orients all of it's
activities. Hospitals treat people with illness or injury, restoring, as
possible, their good health. Grocery stores provide necessary goods to local
communities. Manufacturers produce useful goods for people. People with
capital, the owners or banks or investors, supply startup money to create
Now you can choose your moral orientation in these matters. You can run a
grocery store with the intent of driving all other grocery stores out of
business, to establish a monopoly, and then raise prices to the maximum that
people can bear. Or you can run the same grocery looking to provide good
products at reasonable prices, competing more on the basis of quality
service. Now the problem is that if one grocer choose the immoral path, it
forces the others to compete with similar methods, just to survive. And
that's where Democracy comes in. Democracy is the voice of all of us setting
rules for commerce, like minimum wage, 40 hour work week, anti-monopoly and
fair trade legislation.
Of course, you can also choose your moral orientation to politics, perhaps
being a predatory as our aspiring monopolist grocer. But you can only get so
far with that. The benefit of a democracy is that you are limited by the
rest of us. And it is the whole of us that makes the rules. So, like the
wise man said, we get the government we deserve, which is the one we choose