Absolutes vs. relativism/perception

Posted by flanap 8 years, 4 months ago to Philosophy
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An original comment from a prior post to give this some flavor:

I am so thankful that this forum is more inclined toward those that can think vs. emote.

That being said, perhaps we can step up above the tangible solutions and think more about where this behavior starts (the behavior of the taking of innocent blood, then immediate subsequent suicide).

Doesn't it start with the thinking? Why would the perpetrator's thinking be this way? Are we all capable of this, or only those we deem are "insane," or "mentally ill?" Are all those who take innocent blood "mentally ill?"

I will say, and likely will get vehement disagreement, that since we are further and further from believing and acting as though there are absolutes, this type of behavior is entirely possible and accepted.

What do I mean "accepted?" Well, when children are taught more and more that they evolved from primordial stew based on chance time and circumstances, then all we are is a bag of reacting and responding chemicals which means the setting of standards for behavior are societal and cultural and not from an extraneous source such as God.

You cannot have it both ways. Even when Ms. Rand promoted objectivism, she stated the highest ideal is the value of man's ability to think and must always act in consistency with what his thinking lead him to. Well, doesn't that mean that if this perpetrator sought to destroy innocent blood as his highest ideal, isn't that okay? Who is to say that isn't okay, especially if we are just a bag of chemicals.

All in all, you have to either believe there are absolutes, or not and if so, they cannot come from yourself because no one's determination of an absolute from himself can be applied to others since how is one to know what absolute is suitable for another and what is suitable right?

Only absolutes come from God and when you start there and believe that man has the highest living value in this world because he is in God's image and only God, which is the Creator and can legitimately add or remove life, then you can begin to build a society who realizes that taking innocent life, no matter how many and how often, is (and may I be so bold to say it) simply wrong.


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  • Posted by HazelChaser53 8 years, 4 months ago
    I think you're trying to rationalize the irrational. While society and its values do play a lot into what is considered acceptable and decent, I don't know that murder is, even in the mess we have now, considered "acceptable." Only an irrational mind can make it so.
    I agree with jmlesniewski's explanation of why it isn't okay. It goes back to Jefferson's statement, "I have a right to nothing which another has a right to take away." You have the right to life--that is an absolute. Infringing that right, no matter how much thinking one does to explain it, is not okay.
    I do believe in God, but your explanation confuses me a bit. Atheists don't necessarily think that people determine absolutes. Just replace the word "God" with "Nature" and you have the same argument.
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      Posted by 8 years, 4 months ago
      Ok...so for the sake of argument, if Nature can be equated with God, then where is its complete revelation whereby we can know the absolutes by which to make law and live by? If by experience, then we will never have enough experience because at any point, experience B can provide contradictory evidence to prior experience A. With God, you get revelation through His Word, unchanging, perfect, and Holy (set apart and determined outside of man). Man is part of nature so we need absolutes derived outside of nature; else, if nature is all there is, then you have to default to evolution, then you have just chance and time.
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      • Posted by HazelChaser53 8 years, 4 months ago
        I'm only suggesting that they can be equated in discussing things.... Things that don't have to do with religion. Obviously, in a religious discussion, they are not the same thing.
        However, when you're talking about something such as rights, you can use the words interchangeably depending on your audience. For example, if I were describing them to you, I would prefer to say God-given rights. When discussing them with an atheist, it would be more efficient to say natural rights.
        And I don't mean nature as in pretty trees and waterfalls and all that. I mean... what is, what exists. You would say God. I think someone else referred to "reality." I always like the term "Natural Law." It's hard for me to explain. I'm sorry.
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        • Posted by UncommonSense 8 years, 4 months ago
          What are "Natural Rights" based on? Acts of weather? Someone's perception of reality? What if that person's perceptions are clouded due to using drugs? Is it still a valid perception? The limited experience of our lifetimes? Just asking, looking for some clarification.
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          • Posted by $ ObjectiveAnalyst 8 years, 4 months ago
            Greetings UncommonSense,
            Natural rights are those that are inherent in your existence. You exist. You have the right to your existence and you have a right to defend your existence, all that it takes to sustain that existence, and all the production of your existence. Others have the same. They are therefore individual. They are not collective.
            “Rights” are a moral concept—the concept that provides a logical transition from principles guiding an individual’s actions to the principles guiding his relationship with others—the concept that preserves and protects individual morality in a social context—the link between the moral code of man and the legal code of society, between ethics and politics. Individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law.” Ayn Rand, TVOS, p.108.
            Natural rights do not depend upon any one persons perception they are universal; they are not subject to delusions of impaired persons. They are not dependent upon law, beliefs, or culture. They are independent, universal and inalienable. They are recognized by every rational person, and based on reason and the rights of all, to exist, to life and liberty.
            Respectfully,
            O.A.
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            • Posted by UncommonSense 8 years, 4 months ago
              Things that make you go "hmmmm". Interesting points. May have to pack my tobacco pipe and venture deep into the cerebral sphere's for further pondering. And yes, I'll go walk my million miles from humanity to enjoy my tobacco. Oh wait, never mind, I'm in the Gulch..
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          • Posted by HazelChaser53 8 years, 4 months ago
            If you just magically materialized in the middle of the forest with absolutely nothing, what would you have? That's how I always think of natural rights. You have life; you have your thoughts, and the ability to act on them. You have the ability to acquire property, if you work for it, and the ability to defend what's yours. These are self-evident. You have them regardless of any person or object or situation.
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            • Posted by khalling 8 years, 4 months ago
              you'd have a cold. :)
              You might have the ability to acquire property, and defend what you see is yours, but without an organized society that protects those rights or has a system to settle disputes you and yours will go through generations of smacking against the Malthusian trap. Exponential increases in knowledge and wealth happen in societies where they organize to address those issues.
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              • Posted by HazelChaser53 8 years, 4 months ago
                Yes, absolutely. I was assuming you were alone in the forest... with your cold. :)
                Once you enter society, responsibilities accompany those rights. Namely, self-restraint. You might have the right to yell fire in a crowded theater, but that doesn't mean you should.
                You're absolutely right. We need a justice system.
                Out of curiosity, when you say an organized society needs to protect those rights, are you referring to individuals or to the role of government? Or both? I'm not disputing either, I was just wondering, to better put that in context.
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                • Posted by khalling 8 years, 4 months ago
                  "self restraint" this is starting with the assumption that we are inherently evil and we have to stop ourselves from doing things.
                  The role of government must include such-or you end up in the Trap. Most of the African nations. They are constantly dealing with famine. This is not due drought, lack of resources or even lack of education. This is a lack of property rights. why build a road when someone can come along and destroy it? why farm, why build a medical clinic, why become a doctor? If what you build is not protected from looters, you will eventually stop building or you will never start. I guess some might say, well what about the noble savage? There is no evidence to support such. Look at the two words-they are a contradiction in themselves. you have to suspend one set of assumptions about what a savage is to call him noble. You have to suspend another set of assumptions in order to see a savage as noble. A is A
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      • Posted by itisntluck 8 years, 4 months ago
        There are no absolutes derived outside of nature; If you know of any, prove it.
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          Posted by 8 years, 4 months ago
          The heavens declare the glory of God. If you don't agree, not much I can say. If you do agree, then we can talk.
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          • Posted by itisntluck 8 years, 4 months ago
            I never agree with irrational people.
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            • Posted by 8 years, 4 months ago
              Who's irrational?
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              • Posted by WWJGD 8 years, 4 months ago
                Well, I suppose we could start with people who have imaginary friends...

                and maybe add in those who believe that we are surrounded by invisible beings that have supernatural powers....
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                • Posted by 8 years, 4 months ago
                  I am curious...assuming evolution is true, then why does man develop the concept of God? A survival mechanism as part of the fittest? Since it would seem that evolutionists argue that the concept of God comes from simpler beings and complexity development eventually squeezes God out of the picture, then shouldn't the concept of God been washed away with the "unfit."

                  I would argue that those shutting themselves off from the idea that God may exist (to them...to me God does exist) are taking a weaker philosophical position in any discussion.

                  Doesn't Objectivism's reasoning have the ability to develop God as a concept and perhaps a reality? Why does man's ability to reason within himself have to restrict his conclusions to only that which is within the realm of man? There are a lot of things that were undiscovered at certain points in history which are outside of man, but now "reason" would claim them because they happen to be discovered now.
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  • Posted by $ jmlesniewski 8 years, 4 months ago
    (I'm bringing my reply over here too):

    "What do I mean "accepted?" Well, when children are taught more and more that they evolved from primordial stew based on chance time and circumstances, then all we are is a bag of reacting and responding chemicals which means the setting of standards for behavior are societal and cultural and not from an extraneous source such as God."

    You have created a false dichotomy. The "setting of standards of behavior" is not only done by society/culture or god.

    "Even when Ms. Rand promoted objectivism, she stated the highest ideal is the value of man's ability to think and must always act in consistency with what his thinking lead him to. Well, doesn't that mean that if this perpetrator sought to destroy innocent blood as his highest ideal, isn't that okay?"

    No, it's not ok because it takes away another person's ability to think.

    "Who is to say that isn't okay, especially if we are just a bag of chemicals."

    I say it based on reality. Your second clause is completely unnecessary to your first. Why slide it in there? It makes it seem like you are snidely deriding anyone who opposes you as seeing life as meaningless.

    "Only absolutes come from God and when you start there and believe that man has the highest living value in this world because he is in God's image and only God, which is the Creator and can legitimately add or remove life, then you can begin to build a society who realizes that taking innocent life, no matter how many and how often, is (and may I be so bold to say it) simply wrong."

    Absolutes come from reality because there can be no reality without absolutes. A tree is a tree. When it snows, it is snowing. Where did those rules come from? They always were because there could nothing without them,
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    • Posted by 8 years, 4 months ago
      I will sum up my response this way...objectivism, which you seem to be using to respond philosophically, is self-contradictory and this is why...if you are saying that man's highest ideal is his ability to reason, but place limits on what constitutes valid and invalid reasoning conclusions, then you have yourself circular logic and invalidity within the thought system. It is either all open, or all closed and this is why man cannot come up with a philosophy outside of the mind of God without being self-contradictory.
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  • Posted by 8 years, 4 months ago
    Oh, the other thing I wanted to point out is that perception is the most relative ability man has because it is basically like finger prints that change with emotion.
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  • Posted by itisntluck 8 years, 4 months ago
    >>>>All in all, you have to either believe there are absolutes, or not and if so, they cannot come from yourself because no one's determination of an absolute from himself can be applied to others since how is one to know what absolute is suitable for another and what is suitable right?<<<<

    No. Not right.

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    • Posted by 8 years, 4 months ago
      Why not right? Also, for clarify, I am not speaking of natural absolutes (a tree is a tree, etc...), but of moral absolutes...right and wrong in terms of man relating to man.

      How about this?

      There is a man and a woman on the earth and only them two (have to have a man and a woman for procreative purposes). If they both agree that murder is wrong, then is that an absolute intrinsically or extrinsically? If you say intrinsically, then you are saying that murder is wrong absolutely because it just is; if you say extrinsically, then you are saying since they both agreed to it, then it is absolute.

      I think you would say it is just as absolute either way; however, I would not because who is to say that the next day they change their mind? You cannot; however, assuming God made it wrong and He never changes, then regardless of their decision making, then it is still wrong.
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      • Posted by khalling 8 years, 4 months ago
        Ethics is a code by which you lead your life. Every logical system has at least one assumption. It is intrinsic once you make the extrinsic assumption that human life is good. Defining what is good and what is evil requires an assumption or a choice not divine commandments. A species that does not value its own existence will not be long on the earth.
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      • Posted by itisntluck 8 years, 4 months ago
        "Every argument for God and every attribute ascribed to Him rests on a false metaphysical premise. None can survive for a moment on a correct metaphysics." *Leonard Peikoff

        "Faith in the supernatural begins as faith in the superiority of others." *AR




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