The Relevance of the Concept of God

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Syne, Oct 15, 2013.

  1. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Gautama Buddha rejected the existence of a creator deity,refused to endorse many views on creation and stated that questions on the origin of the world are not ultimately useful for ending suffering.

    Rather, Buddhism emphasizes the system of causal relationships underlying the universe which constitute the natural order and source of enlightenment. No dependence of phenomena on a supernatural reality is asserted in order to explain the behaviour of matter. According to the doctrine of the Buddha, a human being must study Nature in order to attain personal wisdom regarding the nature of things.

    Where exactly do you see anything "mythical" in that synopsis? Not all god concepts include ideas of "redemption or final disposition". Neither does mine rely on either of these as an "operating principle".

    Who said anything about "governing"? I specifically assumed a god does not exist, so there would be no entity to "govern" anything.

    You need to learn something about moral relativism. It is not about the variety of morals, but only how those who espouse it approach questions of morality. Since you seem to be saying that you view these various moralities as equal, you do espouse moral relativism, but each of these moralities do not share your sense of equality. Moral relativism is how a person views all morals, not just those they espouse.

    You only associate "depravity" with a concept of god because you conflate it with religion.

    This post is the best I have ever seen from you. And yes, I was fully aware of the natural hurdles of such a discussion. I do not really expect any atheist to get it.

    I see you have finally read enough of my posts in this thread to find "more detail" yourself, so I will address your comments to those below.

    Why not? Is it not true that a large majority of atheists, who claim morals to be valid at all, assume that the basis for those morals are largely dependent upon circumstances and/or culture? Is this not how they view most moralities?

    Now you may think that understanding a god concept is only coincidental, but that does not change the general trend.

    It is trivially true from a moral relativism point of view, especially considering in-group vs out-group.

    Again, I have specifically assume that a god does not exist, so there would be nothing to believe in. I will repeat for your benefit. Moral relativism is how a person views all morals, not just those they espouse. While you may very well view a variety of moralities as relative, I assure you those who espouse any give religious morality do not. "Religious relativism" is thus a nonsense phrase.

    Again, why? You seem to like opining without backing it up in the least little way. Are you saying that human institutions can instill conscience? How, other than by threat of consequences?

    Without alternative explanations your opinions are vacuous.

    Really? You are the one who said conscience was innate. So how can you not understand the relationship between the self and conscience? Would it not simply follow that, if conscience were innate, the better one understands themselves the better they utilize conscience?

    You seem to be sketchy, even on your own beliefs.

    Again, no assumption of an existing god, thus no "believing in the existence of a god".

    You do not seem to know what you are talking about.

    Again, your philosopher name-dropping simply makes you seem like you have no idea what you are talking about. Elaborate or do not bother. Justification is easy, most people do it all the time. Personal objectivity must be cultivated and can often run counter to our desires.

    The objectivity is cultivated through a pattern that is not liable to human limitations. Belief is not necessary, but perhaps expedient, especially considered the trouble atheists seem to have with things like conscience and universal ethical principles (in contrast to moral relativism).

    So you seem to be affirming a moral relativism ("culture-specific"), but idealistically ignoring moral relations to out-groups. If your vague "virtues" were as ubiquitous as you imply, then why does that not explain why morals often do not apply equally to out-groups?

    And I have already said, repeatedly, that things like empathy and compassion have social pressures/motivators.
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  3. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    One specific point to atheists discussing theism and morality:

    The moral development of a particular person may not be even in all areas of life. For example, the same person can be on stage four in matters of work, but be on stage five in matters of interpersonal relationships. They might even be on different levels.

    It is also conceivable that when people feel pressured, threatened, they sometimes regress to a lower stage of moral reasoning.

    It seems that when some atheists engage in conversations about theism and morality, they feel threatened, and regress (bad experiences from earlier in life probably play a role in this regression as well). This would explain why they are decent, mature people in ordinary worldly matters, but become childish when talking about "God."
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  5. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    But for all practical intents and purposes, no person is ever actually in a position where they would not be liable to human limitations.

    While we can temporarily resort to the ivory tower, nobody can actually live in it (hence the derogatory connotation of the "ivory tower"). Instead, we have to engage with the world - breathe, eat, work, interact with other people and other beings, etc. etc. - and in all these, our human limitations are the defining factor.
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  7. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    since an incredible amount of the basis of western thought was contributed by the greeks (who had all kinds of animistic, religious and spiritual ideas), aquinas, and a bunch of deists, lutherans and unitarian types i shudder to think what the west would be without those people. An argument for a purely secular morality is going to take a long time to have historicity. It hasn't started yet. A joint morality has sensibility, any other view is not supportable. You simply cannot judge what religious influences were being tapped when these people had an idea that wasn't quoted from a religious document.
    this is unfounded. trying to separate secular morals from religious ones is impossible. Many of the great minds who made your so-called secular values accessible intellectually to the masses were religious people operating from religious principles. In modern times, racial equality has been in a large way, advanced by church groups (the link between protestant whites and black church groups in the south was a huge driver towards racial equality in the usa). Not sure how you separate out "love thy neighbor" from pretty much any of the common positive regards people share for each other. To suggest that secular humanism, a very recent development, is the ideological birthplace of morality is as spurious as someone claiming that people without religion will necessarily lack morality.
    Higher principles are not necessarily religious morals. As i have pointed out earlier, i am arguing for the value of higher principles vs mob rule. Maybe this thought will connect later more directly to the op, but for now i am just working with some things that seem obvious to me, rather than speculating and playing with maybes.
    well of course there is no human action that doesn't have at least one human involved, but i am assuming a person can be assumed qualified to have at least one (their own) religious interpretation just based on basic human rights. If you are talking about the need for all religious ideas to be interpreted by others, there are plenty of mystics who had interpretations of scripture or personal experience that were inconsistent with commonly "imposed" religious ideas. If you are talking about the politics involved with dealing with masses of people who need to feel they all agree with each other, and how the human post-primate applies social domination (just like their non-religous primate ancestors do) then maybe we should talk about politics.
    i would say that in the U.S. the appeal to the higher authority of the law is the only thing that protects minorities (such as gays) from the mobs.
  8. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    so why should people in california respect gay marriage when the majority had passed a law opposing it? Again, I am not talking about god, although some ideas attributed to god could certainly be used as a mandate.
    again you guys keep suggesting that i am saying a higher principle must come from god, and that isn't what i have argued for here, as i've already pointed out. In fact, in matters of state, religious people should be a lot more concerned with matters of state and not religion. Perhaps in some metaphysical or "behind the scenes" sense it could be said that god requires x, or that morality comes "from god", but a person most certainly wouldn't be able to show that. Also, if you believe people are basically logical you need to meet more people.

    so when people kill and steal and do the wrong thing? When groups of people commit genocide, is their "inner moral sense" justified? Because those people also have an "inner moral sense", it is just different from yours or mine. You present this as if the majority of people are good, loving, helpful people, and i would say you need to look around at our planet and realize we have a very dangerous balance of good and evil happening here. The mob couldn't even acknowledge gay rights in california (california!) a few years ago, and i'm sure many people were actually oppressed in important ways and suffered, before the state courts had to fix the problem.

    this is of course entirely incorrect. A very tiny group of appointed elite experts interpreted the law (the higher principle) and another elite forced the southern states to comply, by commanding either an army (in the case of slavery), or threat of legal punishment.

    P.S. Also, as i've pointed out before, the jews were soft on slaves, compared to the romans who didn't consider their slaves as human beings, but rather property, and completely abusable.

    EDIT - oops i had some more time and then i guess i went back too far and answered an older post and then missed your newer post - my moral actions, and immoral ones, are a matter of self-responsibility, but i am very much influenced by existential philosophers, and nietzsche is actually an intellectual hero of mine (who thought the nazis were idiots BTW).
  9. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    i am just saying that when people are defined in such a manner, they are often not afforded the same human rights as the "us" group. Which has the problem of abandoning one clear basic principle (equal rights), without which simple logic is abused, for another more esoteric one. And the "us" group seems to have the problem of eventually defining itself into so small a minority that they would have to be considered historically negligible. The "anti-immigrant" policies of republicans are an example of how this can become a problem. It is great to have an enemy for these people, until they have too many enemies, and then they are not so happy.
  10. Seattle Valued Senior Member


    Why should people respect Methodists in a place where the majority are Catholics?
  11. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    i hope you read that question i posted knowing that i am arguing for the imposition of higher principles (such as human rights) over mob rule and was using that as an example of the "majority as mob" not affording people their basic human rights.
    And catholics should respect methodists for the same reason they should respect any minority when the mob doesn't want to - human rights, a higher principle than imposing your theology. (bad theology to impose a theology anyway, even the worst religious nuts generally only forced confessions of sin, as opposed to confessions of faith.)
  12. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    My mistake

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    Too much reading (or rather not enough)

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  13. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I think that the fact that the details of social mores and moral codes differ pretty dramatically from culture to culture, and from historical period to historical period, is an empirical observation based on history and ethnography. That's accepted by pretty much everyone familiar with these fields, atheist or not.

    But I think that most people familiar with these things do see broad underlying similarities in human nature underlying these more superficial differences. Again, that's widely accepted whatever the observer's religious adherence happens to be or not be.

    In other words, I don't see any dramatic differences between atheists' and non-atheists' views of these matters. It typically isn't possible to discern an author's religious adherence, or lack of it, simply by reading the author's books or journal articles, unless the author explicitly reveals it.

    The Oxford Guide to Philosophy' begins its discussion of ethical relativism this way:

    "Relativism, ethical. The view that moral appraisals are essentially dependent upon the standards that define a particular moral code, the practices and norms accepted by a social group at a specific place and time. Given that there is in fact a plurality of social groups, with differing mores, the relativist argues that there exists no point of view from which these codes can themselves be appraised, no 'absolute' criteria by which they can be criticised." [p.800]​

    My point was that religious groups are social groups. It's probably true that most members of religious groups do share ethical norms native to their particular group in common with other members of the same group. The problem is that members of different religious groups probably embrace a number of different norms, native to their own groups. In the absence of clear and objective revelations from an actually existing supernatural moral authority, 'absolute' and non-culturally-specific means of appraisal don't seem to be any more available in religion than they are in the rest of human culture. Whatever problems of relativism afflict the relationship between ethics and culture generally, remain present if we turn our attention specifically to religious ethics and to religious culture.

    Turning to religion doesn't offer a way out of the problem.

    "A pattern that is not liable to human limitations"? Where can such a thing be found? How can human beings like ourselves recognize it if we do encounter it?

    Obviously members of a particular culture, whether secular or religious, often do believe for no particular reason beyond their own membership in their culture, that the norms they are familiar with are both natural and right, and that everyone else's are both bizarre and wrong. The issue of relativism might not arise very often in these people's thinking.

    Problems only arise when these individuals encounter other people whose cultural norms are significantly different than their own. That's when the shortage of culture independent assessment criteria makes itself felt. In these problem cases, people have the choice of either launching themselves into conflict, or else centering themselves at a more fundamental level of shared humanity where they might be able to agree on actions that they all perceive as fair, compassionate and humane.
  14. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Thanks for conceding that God or the belief in God isn't necessary for morality. So why should people in California respect gay marriage? Because the majority of Americans, expressed in the majority opinion of the Supreme Court, ruled in favor it. And if you look at the polls, the majority of Californians now SUPPORT gay marriage, as do the majority of Americans. So once again, the laws reflect the majority moral sense of the people. The growing swell of support for gay marriage over the past decade indicates a bottom-up sea change in our cultural morality that is occurring without anyone commanding it from the top. The people are way ahead of the "higher authorities" on this one.

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    I confess I may have misconstrued what you meant by "higher authority", seeing that among men there really IS no higher authority on what is moral. So who ARE these higher authorities from whom we supposedly derive all our morality? And where do THEY get their morality from?

    If you'll notice the only times people kill and commit genocide en masse is precisely WHEN they are commanded to by a higher authority. Nazi germany is one example. The Crusades is another. These people would not normally go on war campaigns to commit such atrocities. It took the specific ideology, propaganda, and commands of a higher authority to spur them into this madness. For the Crusaders there was even the guarantee of eternal life by the Vatican if they participated in the war campaign to invade the Holy Land. Obviously then there is no guarantee that a commanded morality is ever really a true morality in any sense if this can happen. How do you account for this?

    I DO look around the planet and I see the majority of the people living their lives dutifully and raising families and peacefully coexisting with each other. I see a human race that is overall much more advanced in its moral sense than in the past. A moral sense that does not have to be commanded by some political power structure or restrained by police state restrictions. I guess I'm just not a cynic like you are. Sure not everyone is moral. We hear on the news about people that kill and steal and cause suffering. I never said that doesn't happen. I'm talking the majority overall moral status of the people.

    So then you admit you do not have to be commanded by a higher authority to take moral action? Don't you think that is true for just about everyone else?

    PostScript--So what do you think of Nietzsche's distinction between "master morality" (power-based) and "slave morality" (empathy-based)?

    "Master–slave morality is a central theme of Friedrich Nietzsche's works, in particular the first essay of On the Genealogy of Morality. Nietzsche argued that there were two fundamental types of morality: 'Master morality' and 'slave morality'. Slave morality values things like kindness, humility and sympathy, while master morality values pride, strength, and nobility. Master morality weighs actions on a scale of good or bad consequences unlike slave morality which weighs actions on a scale of good or evil intentions. What he meant by 'morality' deviates from common understanding of this term. For Nietzsche, a particular morality is inseparable from the formation of a particular culture. This means that its language, codes and practices, narratives, and institutions are informed by the struggle between these two types of moral valuation. Master–slave morality provides the basis of all exegesis of Western thought.

    It is disputed whether Nietzsche advocated either of the two moralities."---–slave_morality
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2013
  15. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    The phrase "mob rule" seems to be cole grey's personal perjorative that he uses to refer to what both you and I would rather term 'democracy' or 'individual liberty'. He appears to me to be arguing against these ideals in favor of some sort of Iran-style religious totalitarianism.

    I think everyone would agree that injustices do arise in free societies, but democracies seem to have been pretty good about addressing them. Our societies are imperfect works-in-progress. As somebody (Winston Churchill?) once said, 'Democracy is the worst system there is... except for all the others'.

    Right. Systems where ethics supposedly come from God instead of man might (arguably) be plausible provided that God truly is good (the Euthyphro problem) and provided that God reveals his ethical principles clearly, unambiguously and indisputably to everybody. Unfortunately, the first condition is questionable and the second obviously doesn't pertain.

    What we have instead is a planet in which religious diversity is the norm, and where supposedly higher religious truths are mediated through a host of emphatically human preachers and social institutions. They assert the transcendent and unchallengeable truth of incompatible doctrines whose divinely guaranteed validity is only discernable through the eyes of their own faith.

    That's a situation where Syne's problem of moral relativism moves front and center. While it's true that devotees of individual traditions might believe that their own tradition possesses unique divine revelations and occupies a unique position from which to judge everyone and everything else, not everyone else agrees. And there isn't any tradition-independent criterion that we can use to adjudicate rival religious claims.

    So the supposedly superior religious rulers who believe that they possess the one true revelation that must rightfully guide everyone and everything else, would-be rulers who stoutly insist that they represent the only true alternative to moral relativism and to 'mob rule', seem to be left with little alternative to maintaining their divinely-ordained hegemony by force.

    It's a dynamic that we can all watch being played out as we speak in the Middle East, with the rise of militant Islamism.

    I don't think that's a model that we should emulate.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2013
  16. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    you obviously don't know how the gay marriage thing played out in California. The voting majority insisted gays should not be married. The state Supreme Court said, "not ok." You literally cannot even know how many Californians changed their minds because they were told by the higher authority that their idea was unfair.

    and stopped your ears from listening as I stated multiple times I have not been arguing for claims of a divine morality! I tried to explain that in most of my posts. My claim continues to be, despite all the massive arguments you are having with someone other than me obviously about divine command, that higher principles are necessary, mob rule is not our system, nor should it be.
    like I said before, a system which violates first principles is corrupt, and the people should revolt. I am certainly not a proponent of following blindly.
    I propose that for every hundred good people there is enough bad in one person to ruin 100 lives, or at least damage them. If 99 good people "stand aside and do nothing" when the one bad guy acts, are they good? Seeing the balance we have here on earth between good and evil is pretty obvious to me. I definitely wouldn't get into a real argument proposing the basic goodness or badness of humanity. Like bonobos and dolphins maybe are basically good, if they were to be considered responsibly sentient (I have a hard time with that idea) and still acted the way they do. Humans are a balance.
    I not only admit it, I have been saying that from the beginning. And no, I don't think that is true for "just about everyone else". I see a lot of people handing over their personal responsibility to their church leaders or social group leaders, or gods, or whoever else they can find.
    of course pulling a short quote isn't going to give anyone an explanation of Nietzsche. My opinion is that his main point in all his discussion of morality, from which everything else was derived, was to claim personal responsibility for actions. Any other method was seen by him as immoral basically. His opinion was that weak slaves get along with each other, while noble strong people actually choose their friends or who they will give aid to, and so are actually morally superior. I don't know that he actually got past, "destroy irresponsibility", whether he ever got to a decent definition of stage 2 of being a super human. He seems to have expended his energy and sanity working on stage 1. BTW, I believe he is the most thoroughly misrepresented philosopher of all time, and he had some very important points.
  17. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    So I take it you are retracting your preliminary point made in your first post on this topic?

    Note in my last post I referred to exactly what you referred to: "higher authority". Are you saying you no longer believe this to be true, that higher authorities are needed to impose morality from above to avoid mob rule?
  18. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    anyone who can read can tell I am not in favor of any kind of totalitarianism, religious or otherwise. This is just too weird. I certainly didn't make up the word "ochlocracy", or the phrase "mob rule". Look up nomocracy. This is old stuff, back in the founding fathers time they knew about this stuff. I cant remember which of the founding fathers favored a pure democracy, but we didn't get one. We certainly didn't have one in 1776 when a few smart people set this thing up. Our great experiment has been riding the rails ever since. Democracy has its place, but as I have been trying to point out, the minority should be protected by higher principles, and if only 30%, or even whatever % the Supreme Court represents, wants to protect the minority, that is still what needs to be done. Hopefully everyone understands by now what I am saying.
    Let me offer an example. If 85% of the people want buffalo hides for rugs, and 15% of the people need the buffalo to be maintained as a viable food source, should we go with the higher principle, or the democracy? If everyone can answer this question fully before arguing with me about things I haven't said, that would be great.
    i am pretty sure they don't have a pure democracy in england either but I am certainly not an expert on England.
    good, the more we let people make their own judgments about their own souls, or lack of souls, the better.
    you and syne need to decide whether or not religious relativism even exists.

    horrible. And actually a good representation of what happens when the first principles of a religion are abandoned due to interpretation of 2nd or 3rd tier principles.
    Let Me break it down for you - what we know is that we are all here needing air food water. If your religion, or science, or mob, interferes with that, you are immoral.
  19. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Ok..then how about this?

    "Master morality

    "Nietzsche defined master morality as the morality of the strong-willed. Nietzsche criticizes the view, which he identifies with contemporary British ideology, that good is everything that is helpful; what is bad is what is harmful. He argues that this view has forgotten the origins of the values, and thus it calls what is useful good on the grounds of habitualness - what is useful has always been defined as good, therefore usefulness is goodness as a value. He continues explaining, that in the prehistoric state, "the value or non-value of an action was derived from its consequences"[1] but ultimately, "There are no moral phenomena at all, only moral interpretations of phenomena."[2] For these strong-willed men, the 'good' is the noble, strong and powerful, while the 'bad' is the weak, cowardly, timid and petty. The essence of master morality is nobility. Other qualities that are often valued in master moralities are open-mindedness, courage, truthfulness, trust and an accurate sense of self-worth. Master morality begins in the 'noble man' with a spontaneous idea of the good, then the idea of bad develops as what is not good. "The noble type of man experiences itself as determining values; it does not need approval; it judges, 'what is harmful to me is harmful in itself'; it knows itself to be that which first accords honour to things; it is value-creating."[3] In this sense, the master morality is the full recognition that oneself is the measure of all things.[citation needed] Insomuch as something is helpful to the strong-willed man it is like what he values in himself; therefore, the strong-willed man values such things as 'good'. Masters are creators of morality; slaves respond to master-morality with their slave-morality.

    Slave morality

    Unlike master morality which is sentiment, slave morality is literally re-sentiment—revaluing that which the master values. This strays from the valuation of actions based on consequences to the valuation of actions based on "intention".[4] As master morality originates in the strong, slave morality originates in the weak. Because slave morality is a reaction to oppression, it villainizes its oppressors. Slave morality is the inverse of master morality. As such, it is characterized by pessimism and cynicism. Slave morality is created in opposition to what master morality values as 'good'. Slave morality does not aim at exerting one's will by strength but by careful subversion. It does not seek to transcend the masters, but to make them slaves as well. The essence of slave morality is utility:[5] the good is what is most useful for the whole community, not the strong. Nietzsche saw this as a contradiction. Since the powerful are few in number compared to the masses of the weak, the weak gain power by corrupting the strong into believing that the causes of slavery (viz., the will to power) are 'evil', as are the qualities they originally could not choose because of their weakness. By saying humility is voluntary, slave morality avoids admitting that their humility was in the beginning forced upon them by a master. Biblical principles of turning the other cheek, humility, charity, and pity are the result of universalizing the plight of the slave onto all humankind, and thus enslaving the masters as well. "The democratic movement is the heir to Christianity."[6]—the political manifestation of slave morality because of its obsession with freedom and equality.

    "...the Jews achieved that miracle of inversion of values thanks to which life on earth has for a couple millennia acquired a new and dangerous fascination--their prophets fused 'rich', 'godless', 'evil', 'violent', 'sensual' into one and were the first to coin the word 'world' as a term of infamy. It is this inversion of values (with which is involved the employment of the word for 'poor' as a synonym for 'holy' and 'friend') that the significance of the Jewish people resides: with them there begins the slave revolt in morals."[7]

    This struggle between master and slave moralities recurs historically. According to Nietzsche, ancient Greek and Roman societies were grounded in master morality. The Homeric hero is the strong-willed man, and the classical roots of the Iliad and Odyssey exemplified Nietzsche's master morality. He calls the heroes "men of a noble culture",[8] giving a substantive example of master morality. Historically, master morality was defeated as the slave morality of Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire.

    The essential struggle between cultures has always been between the Roman (master, strong) and the Judean (slave, weak). Nietzsche condemns the triumph of slave morality in the West, saying that the democratic movement is the "collective degeneration of man".[9] He claimed that the nascent democratic movement of his time was essentially slavish and weak. Weakness conquered strength, slave conquered master, re-sentiment conquered sentiment. This resentment Nietzsche calls "priestly vindictiveness", which is the jealousy of the weak seeking to enslave the strong with itself. Such movements were, to Nietzsche, inspired by "the most intelligent revenge" of the weak. Nietzsche saw democracy and Christianity as the same emasculating impulse which sought to make all equal—to make all slaves.

    Nietzsche, however, did not believe that humans should adopt master morality as the be-all-end-all code of behavior - he believed that the revaluation of morals would correct the inconsistencies in both master and slave morality - but simply that master morality was preferable to slave morality, although this is debatable. Walter Kaufmann disagrees that Nietzsche actually preferred master morality to slave morality. He certainly gives slave morality a much harder time, but this is partly because he believes that slave morality is modern society's more imminent danger. The Antichrist had been meant as the first book in a four-book series, Toward a Re-Evaluation of All Morals, which might have made his views more explicit, but Nietzsche was afflicted by mental collapse that rendered him unable to write the latter three books.[citation needed]

    In other philosophy

    The notion that the strong-willed is not kind or helpful contrasts with the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, who holds charity[10] as "the greatest of virtues."[11] According to Aquinas, a charitable man is happy and virtuous.[12] Aquinas holds that the class of virtues denoted by fortitude is compatible with charity, and not in opposition to it.[12][13]

    An extreme notion that a virtuous man is "value-creating" contrasts with Aquinas's conception of a last end. According to Aquinas, man's last end is not determined by man: "all men agree in desiring the last end, which is happiness."[14] Aquinas holds the choice of useful means to reach this last end as determined by man's free will, although he holds that certain habits are virtuous and thus predictably lead to happiness, provided that they are not pursued to excess.[15] According to Aquinas, free will is thus a means to an end, but not the last end, as it can be helpful or unhelpful to the pursuit of happiness:[16][17][18][19] those who choose to perform non-virtuous acts "turn from that in which their last end really consists: but they do not turn away from the intention of the last end, which intention they mistakenly seek in other things."---
  20. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    certainly not. Higher authorities definitely need to oppose mob rule. In the USA that is thankfully what we already do. Let's just say there were 75% of people who thought we take evolution out of schoolbooks in Texas. Do we just drop the texts or do we rely on the higher authority to insist evolution should be in the book? I am confused as to why people are going to such great lengths to defend something I see as indefensible, I.e. Ochlocracy, and how it is at all difficult for learned people to know how our government works in general and in the specific case of California. Higher principles have to come from, or are made legitimate by someone claiming to "know better". Some small group of people has to ultimately pull the trigger, even on ideas that come from the public. Luckily I believe our founding fathers actually knew better, and took that responsibility. If we had called American Indians, and black slaves, (and actual Asian american citizens in ww2), human citizens of the USA from the beginning, I think our system, based on the rule of law, would have been really incredibly exemplary, a true work of art.
  21. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    You've drifted from morality to law all the way to politics now. Nice of you to change the goal posts like that. We WERE discussing where a society gets its moral values from and then you decide to start talking about how the democratic process doesn't exactly work in all cases necessitating a top down decision by "higher authorities." We all know that. But that has nothing to do with where a society derives its sense of right and wrong. Perhaps you agree with Nietszche that democracy is a morality of weak slaves? Who exactly then is going to step up to the role of playing superman to decide for us what is right and wrong in the end? I still want you to define who these "higher authorities" in morality are that we are supposed to just listen to and obey. The philosophers? Which one? Marx? Nietszche? Bakunin? Rousseau? Confuscius? Jesus?
  22. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    Re Nietzsche - I am certainly not going to defend every word the guy said, he had cancer of the brain or syphilis or whatever, but I will still say that he was mainly writing about personal responsibility.
    The dude attacked anything that hinted at lack of personal responsibility. I have to say that his attacks on Christianity are quite valid, although I consider myself a Christian. Any lack of personal responsibility is bad.
    I don't know if the part in bold was made bold by you, but directly following it is actually some Nietzsche expert saying some of what I just said about Nietzsche.
    thanks for making me feel like I know what I am talking about, even though i am not a specialist.

    Did you have a specific point here?
  23. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Do you agree with him that democracy is mere mob rule--a slave morality of the weak and the jealous?

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