"Beyond Good and Evil"

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by MISSunderstanding@, Mar 28, 2004.

  1. MISSunderstanding@ Registered Senior Member

    I am interested in philosophical thought. I have a tiny bit of knowledge of it.
    This is my first time that I am on this forum.
    I was reading that without God , there is no logical and philosophical reason to do good or to avoid evil.
    Is it really so? Does doing good becomes logically and philosophically meaningless when there is no God?
    Does "good and evil" find its true place in religious thought?

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  3. jps Valued Senior Member

    In short,
    God is often used as a justification not only for morals but for everything, as without him, there is no clear way to solve the epistemic regress problem(the fact that you can always ask "why?" to any explanation for something).

    I do not believe there is any way to justify moral judgements without ultimately having to appeal to god, but I also do not think that an appeal to god is sufficient justification for a moral judgement(or anything else for that matter).

    I say this because when you reach the point where god is the explanation:
    "Why is X?"
    "Because god willed it"
    you're expected to just have faith as to the truth and rightness of gods will, if you don't have faith in gods perfection, then even the existence of god is not sufficient as you can always ask "Why did god will this? Couldn't god be wrong?"
    to which there is no answer besides faith.

    This does not mean there can be no morality at all, just that there can be no objective morality that can be proven as the morality everyone should follow. Instead, you're left to decide for yourself what you think is moral, or latch onto someone else's moral system for that matter. With no outside justification and just one's own personal preference, no system is better than any other.
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  5. Dr Lou Natic Unnecessary Surgeon Registered Senior Member

    Religious right and wrongs become meaningless without god.
    The 10 commandments and teachings of jesus are irrelevent.
    But just about every animal seems to have a natural ethical code. We probably have one somewhere as well.
    The fact murdering strangers is probably acceptable in this code makes it hard for some people to see how it is anything but anarchy. But this is because god's rights and wrongs are accepted as real by even the most staunch atheists(thousands of years of religious ancestry is hard to escape)
    The best way to find out what the ethical code is would actually be to watch a naturally anarchistic community in action. But this would be something that is practically impossible to find, as the human animal is partly shaped by experience so finding a pure example of the homo-sapien as it should be would be near impossible. Cultural evolution has swayed us all in artificial directions.
    A time machine would be usefull, to see the culture of early homo-sapiens, the first culture, the one all others branched off of. I would deem its ethical code as correct, true to the animal we are. I suspect it contradicted the 10 commandments in many ways, but ironically this would naturally mean the 10 commandments were wrong, even evil if you like.

    To answer your question i think there is a right and wrong, a real ethical code for our species. It would be odd if, as a social mammal, we didn't have one.
    I don't think religion invented decent conduct, I think it merely molested it and made it indecent.
    I have a strong feeling that the tolerance preached by jesus, for example, is technically very immoral.
    The instructions of what is good and evil found in religious literature have no place in the real world, but that is not to say there is no "good and evil".
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  7. jps Valued Senior Member

    What makes adhering to our natural impulses any more moral than rejecting them?
    Are trained animals immoral because they are not acting as they would in nature?
  8. Dr Lou Natic Unnecessary Surgeon Registered Senior Member

    I'm curious how anything other than rejecting natural impulses could be seen as wrong.
    And how embracing natural impulses could be seen as anything but right.
    It is infact the ONLY real thing we have to go by.
    At least from my perspective.
  9. jps Valued Senior Member

    I just don't see any justification for it.
    On top of that, who's to say what's natural? In a sense, everything can be viewed as natural behavior, an animal in the wilds behaviour depends on what it encounters, and if what it encounters is a person who trains it, then isn't it still doing what comes naturally in being trained and obeying? In the same sense isn't it natural for a person to base their beliefs on the information available to them, and thus, for example, for a person who is raised christian to adhere to christian beliefs?
  10. Nebuchadnezzaar Registered Senior Member

    No, good and evil come from within.

    Would you feel guilty if you killed a person and you knew nobody would ever find out about it? I think so.
  11. jps Valued Senior Member

    So guilt determines right and wrong?
  12. Nebuchadnezzaar Registered Senior Member

    no not really......????
  13. A4Ever Knows where his towel is Registered Senior Member

  14. Dr Lou Natic Unnecessary Surgeon Registered Senior Member

    I would have no problem beating someone to death with a hammer just because they were homeless, or had red hair, or wore funny shoes, so i can't really relate.
  15. Xev Registered Senior Member

    Dr Lou:
    Because rejecting natural impulses (or at least justifying them) is the basis of all contemporary forms of morality.
    Just as rejecting the dominion of nature is the basis of contemporary civilization.

    If a culture did not demand that it's members reject their natural impulses, law enforcement would be impossible - the social contract would be destroyed and we'd revert to the state of nature (not that anything's really wrong with that)

    As for morality, we'd cease to be "moral" and revert to a state such as the Vikings lived in: "beyond good and evil"

    That said, people would still act in ways considered "moral" - they'd defend their kin, form groups in which one was loyal to the group, they'd exhibit altruism. But they wouldn't be "moral" in our sense.

    Morality = social control

    But even those like you and I, who would benefit most from a state of nature, still are benefitted by the current system.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2004
  16. guthrie paradox generator Registered Senior Member

    Xev, any biologist can point out that the social contract is natural anyway. You try finding any higher animals or mammals without a social contract.
  17. water the sea Registered Senior Member

    "Is this the right question?"
    Asking oneself this is sometimes a useful tool to come to new findings.
    Maybe there is a totally different way to think about "good and evil" ...
    Just a thought.

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  18. Rogue Consciousness Registered Member

    Our behavior right now is natural. We humans have the ability to change our environment on a massive scale, though. This is exactly what our natural behavior is.

    Also: ideal morals would be what would be taught to the general public to ensure the longest survival of mankind, taking into account variations for individual fluctuation to said morals. Once that survival extends to the end of time, select the one with highest general happiness rating and implement.
  19. letitbe2 Registered Senior Member

    bon Jour:
    I think, right and wrong are relative. Our societies and our own choice decide what is evil and what is good. What might be right in my society might be evil in yours and what is good in your society might be evil here.
    Here I would like to quote Hamlet: to be or not to be, that is the question.
  20. fadingCaptain are you a robot? Valued Senior Member

    There is no objective good and evil. Any casual study of nature/history makes this easily apparent. Therefore any rendering of a positive morality vs. negative morality is purely subjective. This does not render it meaningless. It simply means that appealing to a higher form of morality is false and misleading.

    I suppose you could hold evolution to a higher moral standing and posit that nature is the true morality. All the animals do have a harmony with the world. But, evolution has also led to mankind and our ability to manipulate the world around us.
  21. boombox scumbucket Registered Senior Member

    There is no reason to debase all notions of morality to the realm of meaninglessness...and I don't think Nietzsche would have had it that way anyway.. nobody wants to feed babies into a human blender. It's just wise to determine morality rationally instead of with arbitrary religious blada. If somebody I like smiles at me, that = good. If somebody hits my girl friend in the face with a hammer for no reason, that = evil. evil can mostly be explained in psychological terms, actually.
  22. e-bow Registered Member

    It can be argued that without god we cannot have objective moral values, but this has its own problems:

    1) If there were not any objective moral values, how would you act? If you would cease being good, then something is wrong with your moral character...you're saying that without these ontologically-suspect objective values, you would turn serial killer on us. That's not a good thing.

    2) What exactly is an "objective moral value"? And how do our actions "correspond" to these objects? Are they Platonic? Can you touch them?

    3) God's position on the nature of good and evil seems suspect because of his actions in history. Ex: If cruelty is evil, then how do we justify cruel acts linked to god's demands as being "good"? Is the good simply whatever god says to do?
  23. jps Valued Senior Member

    The problem is that there is no rational basis for morality. Psychology can explain to some degree what beliefs or values can be considered mentally healthy, as its often the case that people who behave in ways that violently conflict with those held by society(i.e. feeding babies into a blender) do have psychological problems. However, this can not be said to be morality, as its possible for people to be mentally healthy and rational and still not accept society's moral standards.

    Here you are defining morality using moral terms.

    An objective moral value would simply be a moral value that was demonstrably true.

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