Thursday, November 15, 2012

429: The Art Not to be an Egoist 4

Let's look at our present picture. We know the difference between good and bad and we all want to be good. This is because morality is part of human nature.

Thus we have to find out how morality is embedded in human nature. Plato, about 400 B.C., made us believe that there exists the Good, a something which is independent of human nature.

We only have to follow the right path, that of the virtues and away from lust, to acquire knowledge of the Good, which then can be the standard for the morality of our  actions.

But every religion and ideology claims to know what the Good is. However, they all have different opinions and besides that we discover soon enough that what is good for me, isn't necessarily also good for you.

Therefor Plato made a mistake. There does not exist a universal and independent Good. But should that force us to an absolute relativism? That's doesn't feel acceptable either.

Then let us look at the counterpart of good: evil. There happen bad things in our world, small and big ones. We all agree about that. So where does that come from?

"One day is enough to determine that a person is evil; it takes a life to see that he is good." according to 
Th̩odore Simon Jouffroy (6 July 1796 Р4 February 1842), a French philosopher. Harsh words !

So, maybe it is the case that we are basically bad, that what we call good and moral behavior is only a thin varnish, put over our true bestial nature by culture.

When we look at the history of philosophy then most philosophers are optimists in their assumption that man is inherently good.

The assumed champion of the idea, that man is by nature bad, is perhaps the philosopher, Thomas Hobbes (1588 - 1679) with his "homo homini lupus".

Words that weren't Hobbes at all, but a quote from the Roman comedy poet Plautus, who died 184 B.C.

In a condition which Hobbes calls the state of nature, which is the state when there is no government, 

each person would have a right, or license, to everything in the world. This, he argues, would lead to a "war of all against all" (bellum omnium contra omnes).

It is, however, a mistake to assume that Hobbes regarded man being a bestial creature, like a wolf. Not to mention that wolves actually are very social animals.

What he meant was that man as such is nothing, good nor bad. Good and Bad come into being through the actions of man.

Good is, what is in my interest and bad is what conflicts with my interests. As this is so for everybody, it will be a war of all against all unless we organize ourselves by a social contract.

So, we create evil, not because we are evil by nature but because of the eternal conflict of interests we experience among each other.

Let's look for another witness, who can testify that we are evil, animals, deep down inside. How about Thomas Henry Huxley (1825 - 1895), a supporter of Darwin's theory of evolution.

In 1893 Huxley held a lecture at Oxford University with the title "Evolution and Ethics". His point: Man is inherently bad.

Man is an a-moral animal like all other living creatures. His natural interest is the struggle for life at all costs.

Only much later in evolution man "invented" morals. It is not an invention of nature but of culture. Nature and morality relate to each other in deep contradiction. 

To be continues next Thursday…….
Thank you ^_^

The Discussion

[13:23] Daruma: ok;-)
[13:24] Framdor: Thanks Prof Herman - most stimulating as usual
[13:24] herman Bergson: The floor is yours...
[13:24] Lizzy Pleides: Thank you professor! Brilliant!
[13:24] Daruma: but isnt evil also created in a society?
[13:24] Daruma: not only by one person?
[13:24] herman Bergson: We are society Daruma
[13:24] Daruma: yes, but it sounds
[13:24] herman Bergson: Yes collective evil...
[13:24] Mick Nerido: I don't think culture and nature are in contradiction...
[13:25] Daruma: that only one person is creating the evil for himself alone
[13:25] herman Bergson: like soldiers at war acting collectively
[13:25] Daruma: or the good
[13:25] WhiteCityKitty: good and evil dwell in each of us and it is our choice moment by moment which to choose.
[13:25] Daruma: thats right kitty
[13:25] Daruma: but as herman said
[13:25] Daruma: good and evil is different to each person^^
[13:25] herman Bergson: Yes that may be so White...but when and why do we choose?
[13:26] Framdor: We need a sense of meaning in this world. The social contracts ensure that we can act out our lives against a backdrop of society.
[13:26] herman Bergson: The answer to that question answers our question of today
[13:26] Framdor: within the contracts, good and bad are easily judged
[13:26] WhiteCityKitty: in order to choose, we must find our 'watcher' and from there be guided by the source and not the ego.
[13:26] herman Bergson: are we just animals with a thin varnish of morality
[13:26] Daruma: thats my opinion also, herman;-)
[13:27] WhiteCityKitty: morality comes from lessons learned by mistakes
[13:27] Mick Nerido: we are animals with the chance to choose good or evil...
[13:27] Daruma: when we loose food, safety and electricity i guess
[13:27] Daruma: we all turn into beasts^
[13:27] herman Bergson: The idea IS tempting Daruma....
[13:27] Framdor: Morality comes from fitting into your social environment.
[13:27] herman Bergson: I was shock years ago by the war in Yugoslavia….
[13:28] Daruma: and i gues most ppl do not think about their acting in society
[13:28] herman Bergson: It was a country where we went on vacation....etc...
[13:28] herman Bergson: and all of a sudden such bestialities, mass murders, concentration camps
[13:28] Daruma: they do not know what they do and how society is reacting to them
[13:28] Daruma: or better why others act as they act to them
[13:29] Lizzy Pleides: there's a group dynamic behavior too
[13:29] Daruma: no self reflection i mean
[13:29] herman Bergson: So morality a product of culture?
[13:29] Mick Nerido: culture is like rule of the game without it we don't play well together
[13:29] Framdor: Yes. bad things happen when the social contracts are broken.
[13:30] WhiteCityKitty: morality is not a product of only culture
[13:30] herman Bergson: So you believe that we are inherently evil, Framdor...
[13:30] Framdor: and to fit into a society, you need to adopt the moral rules.
[13:30] WhiteCityKitty: it also is a product of our personal development over time
[13:30] Framdor: Like don't kill each other.
[13:30] WhiteCityKitty: it can be against culture
[13:30] WhiteCityKitty: culture is not what we should follow
[13:31] Framdor: I agree that morals are also formed at an individual level.
[13:31] WhiteCityKitty: our hearts and intuition tell us what is right and what is wrong.
[13:31] WhiteCityKitty: and sometimes that doesn't agree with culture.
[13:31] herman Bergson: Yes but the question is….aren't they a pert of our nature?
[13:31] Framdor: I speak of society. the process of living together in a small world
[13:31] herman Bergson: Was Huxley right or not?
[13:31] Daruma: i guess it has to be a balance between good and bad
[13:31] Mick Nerido: yes we are part of nature...
[13:32] Daruma: nothing can live without the other side
[13:32] WhiteCityKitty: posititve and negative are always present in each moment
[13:32] Daruma: where is light, there also a shadow is
[13:32] Daruma: true kitty
[13:32] WhiteCityKitty: they remain in balance
[13:32] Mick Nerido: We are heard animals, we need each other to survive
[13:32] Framdor: Huxly was wrong. man is not inherently bad.
[13:32] Lizzy Pleides: we are a part of the nature but our intelligence allowed it to cultivate it
[13:33] WhiteCityKitty: and lust is not evil
[13:33] Daruma: as birth is important but also death
[13:33] Framdor: Sometimes we are very misguided.
[13:33] herman Bergson: You are all good today ...
[13:33] Framdor: But overall we are a kind and long suffering species.
[13:33] herman Bergson: good remarks!
[13:33] Daruma: ;-)
[13:33] herman Bergson: Let's continue on Thursday..
[13:33] WhiteCityKitty: but...
[13:34] Mick Nerido: a week from thursday?
[13:34] WhiteCityKitty: :)
[13:34] Daruma: oh next time i will be here in 2 weeks;-(
[13:34] herman Bergson: and yes Debbie I agree..the idea of Huxlley is very questionable
[13:34] Framdor: ;)
[13:34] herman Bergson: So..
[13:34] Framdor: I like to try and see the best in people all the time.
[13:34] herman Bergson: thank you all for your participation again....
[13:34] Daruma: yw herman
[13:34] Framdor: and mostly I find the best people ....
[13:35] WhiteCityKitty: you can the best in ppl only if you already love yourself.
[13:35] Mick Nerido: Thanks, Herman!
[13:35] WhiteCityKitty: then you will find no judgment in another becasue you find no judgment against yourself.
[13:35] herman Bergson: It is there Debbie, but you have to keep an sharp eye on things :-)
[13:35] herman Bergson: laughs..
[13:35] Framdor:  ✧✩**✩✧ G I G G L E S ✧✩**
[13:35] herman Bergson: what do I man evil yet?
[13:35] herman Bergson: smiles
[13:35] Framdor: I think I'm off to bed.
[13:35] herman Bergson: ok....
[13:36] Framdor: cu all on thursday
[13:36] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ^_^
[13:36] Daruma: so see u soon. and thank u for the lesson!
[13:36] herman Bergson: You were really inspiring again today
[13:36] Beertje Beaumont: thank you Herman
[13:36] Framdor: great lecture thanks herman... night all.
[13:36] Lizzy Pleides: good night Herman
[13:37] Beertje Beaumont: goodnight
[13:37] Merlin Saxondale: Bye everyone
[13:37] herman Bergson: Bye

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