Wednesday, April 3, 2013

265: The Art Not to Be an Egoist 30

When I was a 22 year old philosophy student at the university I kept notebooks to write down all my brilliant philosophical ideas.

When I specialized in Analytical Philosophy in the second half of my study, I had to discover that all my "brilliant" thought had already been thought!

And that 20 to 50 years before I even was born. Was this my big disappointment? No. It was my discovery that I fit into a philosophical tradition. One which now happens to dominate scientific thought.

Now 40 years later it happens again. It is not that I now think, that I have brilliant thoughts, but in the course of this project on human nature I discover, that I am not alone in the scientific and philosophical society with my ideas. On the contrary.

"For those who believe that morality comes straight from God the creator, acceptance of evolution would open a moral abyss. 

Listen to the Reverend AI Sharpton debating the late atheist firebrand Christopher Hitchens: "If there is no order to the universe, 

and therefore some being, some force that ordered it, then who determines what is right or wrong? 

There is nothing immoral if there's nothing in charge., Similarly, I have heard people echo Dostoevsky's Ivan Karamazov, exclaiming, "If there is no God, I am free to rape my neighbor!,

Perhaps it's just me, but I am wary of any persons whose belief system is the only thing standing between them and repulsive behavior. 

Why not assume that our humanity, including the self-control needed for a livable society, is built into us? 

Does anyone truly believe that our ancestors lacked social norms before they had religion? Did they never assist others in need, or complain about an unfair deal? 

Humans must have worried about the functioning of their communities well before current religions arose, which occurred only a couple of millennia ago. Biologists are unimpressed by that kind of timescale."
-end quote-

Apes are not machines, they have the same emotions as humans like us have and act according to ethical principles. 

That is the central message of the book, "The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates" by Frans de Waal (Mar 25, 2013) and my quote was from page 2 of this book.

Who is looking for the origin of morality ends up with an animal, with the monkey. With that view, based on his personal, unique experience with chimpanzees and bonobos, De Waal goes into battle against multiple opponents. 

Firstly against ethicists who think that ethics is a matter of rational thought, and thus uniquely human, which is a misconception, as I have  pointed out already several times.

Second, against the followers of Richard Dawkins, who shout that our behavior is determined solely by our genes, 

and that animals and human beings essentially are cynical egoists, who only help each other if they (genetically) benefit from it.

Nonsense, says De Waal, a dutch primatologist, who lives and works in the United States. But he fights in particular  against believers who think that all morality comes from above, 

and that a godless society is doomed to perish by crime and lust. With respect  to his opponent the believer, De Waal keeps his gunpowder dry for a long time.

He emphasizes the value of belief, and attacks hard on fierce neo-atheists like Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, 

in the final chapter the believers are firmly taught a lesson, however. Who sees religion as the origin of morality "is completely wrong." 

And: "The big challenge is a step forward, beyond religion, and especially beyond the morality from above. The origin of morality is apparent in the behavior of other animals, "says De Waal.

Thence I come to the conclusion, that some 40 years later I may discover again to be a part of a philosophical and scientific interpretation of our  our world and that a positive interpretation of human natur is justified.

The Discussion

[13:20] herman Bergson: Thank you ^_^
[13:21] herman Bergson: If you have any questions or remarks....the floor is yours :-))
[13:21] herman Bergsonherman Bergson smiles
[13:22] Bejiita Imako:
[13:22] herman Bergson: Could be I told you the obvious :-)
[13:22] Merlin: I really think you have got Richard Dawkins wrong Herman
[13:22] herman Bergson: That may be the case merlin...sure
[13:23] Merlin: He does not say we are entirely determined by our genes
[13:23] Dain Shan: Well its kinda obvious, I don't think in an Atheist family is no Morality at all.
[13:23] Merlin: He has a very balanced and deep understanding
[13:24] herman Bergson: Indeed Dain.....
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: well i don't know if i believe in a god but i know ow u should behave anyway
[13:24] herman Bergson: Well Merlin...maybe Dawkins deserved a more detailed presentation here then
[13:24] MerlinMerlin smiles
[13:24] herman Bergson: to clarify what he meant with his selfish gene
[13:24] Oceane: sometimes it helps to believe in a god - if nobody´s around to give you any solace..
[13:25] herman Bergson: True ...there is a general opinion about him, as you hear from de Waal here too....
[13:25] herman Bergson: Yes Oceane.....
[13:25] Oceane smiles and listens
[13:25] herman Bergson: It is nonsense to fight beliefs....
[13:26] herman Bergson: We are a vessel full of beliefs.....
[13:26] .: Beertje :.: I have to go..sorry...have a goodnight
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: cu Beertje
[13:26] herman Bergson: We believe that the sun will rise again tomorrow and that we'll wake
[13:26] .: Beertje :.: bye
[13:27] herman Bergson: We believe that coincidences are not coincidences...
[13:27] herman Bergson: we have lots of beliefs...
[13:27] herman Bergson: the only problem is what you claim with your belief..
[13:28] herman Bergson: if you claim the monopoly on morality, you are on the wrong track
[13:28] herman Bergson: As Dain is ridiculous to assume that a family of atheists has no morality :-)
[13:29] Oceane: wonder what will happen if morality is a concept that can be negotiated... somehow or are all values immovable?
[13:29] herman Bergson: the moral values are always related to a social context
[13:30] Dain Shan: Also .. the example about Animals impress me here. In a pack .. wolves for example, they have their own Moral. But they have no god for sure.. Gods are a Human thing .. we invented that
[13:30] herman Bergson: so there cant be an absolute Good
[13:30] herman Bergson: I agree Dain....
[13:30] Karsten Runningbear: who knows that, maybe animals got a god?
[13:31] Merlin: Yes the question of 'Absolute Good' has been questionable to me for some years
[13:31] herman Bergson: That is a questionable idea Karsten.....
[13:31] Dain Shan: That would mean that they have a higher understanding of the world. Something they dont have
[13:31] herman Bergson: For the idea of a god needs a lot of abstract thinking to get to it...
[13:31] Oceane: do you mean absolute as in monotheistic, Merlin?
[13:31] Karsten Runningbear: could be a kind of master plan, only humans call it god
[13:31] Merlin: No I was not referring to god
[13:31] herman Bergson: no animal has so far shown that quality except the human being
[13:32] Oceane: ah okay
[13:32] herman Bergson: the idea of a master plan is also just a mental construct....
[13:32] Dain Shan: Hmm a master plan. don't we run off into an argument about religion now ^^
[13:33] Merlin: hehe
[13:33] Karsten Runningbear: ^^
[13:33] herman Bergson: No on religion I am quite clear....
[13:33] Merlin: Well.. 1 we go off topic a lot
[13:33] Merlin: and 2 Religion is involved in this IMO
[13:33] herman Bergson: morality existed before religion among social de Waal also said
[13:33] herman Bergson: We invented religion....
[13:34] herman Bergson: it has a social function....
[13:34] Merlin: Man the Creator!
[13:34] herman Bergson: for instance....
[13:34] Merlin: We made god, not the other way round
[13:34] Merlin: We made god in OUR image
[13:34] herman Bergson: you feel bound to your primary family....
[13:34] herman Bergson: not to people you don't know....
[13:34] Merlin: An old man in the sky with a beard. YES
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: hahahah yes thats a classic image of god
[13:34] herman Bergson: so religion my be the binding force in a wider social circle...
[13:35] Merlin: It says in the bible that god resembles us
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: sitting on a cloud
[13:35] Bejiita Imako:
[13:35] Merlin: lol yes
[13:35] herman Bergson: ye s..the old man image....
[13:35] Merlin: BUT they say WE are in the image of GOD
[13:35] Merlin: in fact, it is the other way round
[13:35] herman Bergson: Why not an old woman...
[13:36] Karsten Runningbear: old men should be wise men
[13:36] herman Bergson: It has to be the other way around Merlin :-)
[13:36] Merlin: Well a perfect god should not have gender but HE is male in the Bible
[13:36] Merlin: Yes Herman
[13:36] herman Bergson: yes...a questionable issue...but irrelevant here
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:37] Merlin: well there could be translation issues but the bible in English clearly uses He as the pronoun for God
[13:37] herman Bergson: what we discuss here in this project is the question "what is human nature" and thence "Where does morality com from or are we just blunt egoists?"
[13:38] herman Bergson: and in that respect religion is a marginal aspect in the discussion to me
[13:38] Merlin: Im not sure how the topic came up
[13:38] Merlin: Im pretty sure it wasn't me
[13:39] Dain Shan: Somehow we drifted into it
[13:39] herman Bergson: And the book I bring to your attention....published recently gives good arguments for a specific interpretation of human nature
[13:39] Dain Shan: I think if the talk comes to God .. there will be religion involved
[13:39] Karsten Runningbear: living beings got 2 aims: survive and reproduce
[13:39] Merlin: Yes Karsten
[13:39] herman Bergson: Yes Dain....and it is a sensitive issue.....
[13:39] Karsten Runningbear: there is no room for god
[13:40] Merlin: You only need look at animals ... I think you said that
[13:40] herman Bergson: not even a seat Karsten :-))
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: I believe in science
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: when science tells me there is a god i believe it
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: cause i have never seen or experienced anything godlike ever
[13:40] Oceane: anytime Bejita?
[13:40] herman Bergson: To quote de Waal....
[13:40] Karsten Runningbear: science told people earth is a plate some years ago
[13:41] herman Bergson: Whether there exists a god or not is irrelevant for morality.....that is born into our nature
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: yes but then they had never seen it from space, now we know its round cause we have actually seen that that is the fact
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: and other planets as well
[13:41] herman Bergson: No Karsten..the lack of knowledge told people that the earth was flat....
[13:42] herman Bergson: With the increase of astronomical observations this idea became more and more implauseble
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:42] Karsten Runningbear: i agree, but people believed the wrong theory a long time
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: when u see the earth from a satelite or space in general u don't see a disc, u see a sphere
[13:43] herman Bergson: To correctly interpret the observations they had to assume that the earth had to be round...
[13:43] Merlin: I notice the gender balance here has taken a dive
[13:43] Merlin: lol
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: so u see fact and then u can 100 % believe it
[13:43] Merlin: (only joking)
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: hehehe
[13:43] herman Bergson: and that assumption explained immediately a lot of other observations
[13:44] herman Bergson: THAT is a correct observation,Merlin :-))
[13:44] Merlin: hehehe
[13:44] herman Bergson: Should I be worried about that ? ^_^
[13:44] Bejiita Imako:
[13:45] herman Bergson: Well...are there any questions left torturing your soul?
[13:46] Merlin: Is this course getting near the end?
[13:46] herman Bergson experiences a solemn silence
[13:46] Oceane: chuckles
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: hahaha
[13:46] herman Bergson: yes I would say so Merlin....
[13:46] herman Bergson: Since there are no questions left....
[13:47] Merlin: There is another meeting at this time on Tuesdays and I would like to see this one through to the end
[13:47] herman Bergson: I see...
[13:48] herman Bergson: But I think maybe one or two lectures....and then the new project on Eastern Philosophy
[13:48] Dain Shan: Definetely gave me food for thought
[13:48] Bejiita Imako:
[13:48] Oceane: great class herman :)
[13:48] Merlin: aaah Eastern Philosophy huh?
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: yes:)
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: that will be interesting
[13:48] herman Bergson: Thank you Oceane
[13:48] Bejiita Imako:
[[13:48] Merlin: Well no doubt I would still follow it on the web site if I dont come every time
[13:48] Karsten Runningbear: great, thank you herman
[13:48] Oceane: you are welcome herman :)
[13:49] herman Bergson: I gonna try to make it a kind of comparative philosophy....
[13:49] herman Bergson: Looking with our Western eyes at Asian thought.....
[13:49] Merlin: Well I am interested in Confucianism
[13:49] Dain Shan: Now that's an interesting topic ^^
[13:49] Merlin: and Taoism
[13:49] Bejiita Imako:
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:50] Oceane: :)
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: looks forward to this
[13:50] herman Bergson: Confucius is indeed interesting....
[13:50] Merlin: Its a pity that it all happens at this time. Actually as Oceane will know there is yet another meeting at this time too
[13:50] Merlin: thats Three
[13:51] Oceane: yes I know Merlin- but one has to make up his or her mind, Merlin :)
[13:51] herman Bergson grins
[13:51] herman Bergson: I dont mind..I am in for the competition ^_^
[13:52] Merlin: yes. well I prefer this to the DS Academy at present but I have another one on supernatural things to interest me too
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: supernatural stuff is cool as well
[13:52] herman Bergson: no primate ever needed supernatural things for his evolution :-)
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: lot of stuff in this category that is really nice
[13:52] Merlin: yes, all these things are related
[13:53] Merlin: Hmm ... Except one Herman?
[13:53] Merlin: Man
[13:53] herman Bergson: Yes..maybe man has more fears than other primates
[13:54] herman Bergson: for instance the fear of death...
[13:54] herman Bergson: We KNOW that we are going to die....
[13:54] Merlin: Yes, well as I have said I find it very informative to consider other animals
[13:54] Merlin: The biologists seem to have the best understanding of philosophy imo
[13:54] herman Bergson: there is a vague indication that chimpanzees have some understanding of death....
[13:55] Oceane: well sometimes we push this thought aside, herman, and pretend that we don´t see...
[13:55] herman Bergson: in the sense that the dead one will never return again
[13:55] Merlin: hmm yes
[13:56] herman Bergson: as I said Oceane....we have more fears than the other primates
[13:56] OceaneOceane nods
[13:56] Merlin: I could belive that too
[13:56] herman Bergson: One cause is our knowledge of time...
[13:56] Merlin: Some animals can be amazingly courageous
[13:57] Merlin: but perhaps they are just ignorant of the dangers?
[13:57] Dain Shan: The line between know courage and unknown courage is very very thin
[13:57] herman Bergson: Could be merlin...
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:57] Karsten Runningbear: most of our fear is acquired
[13:58] herman Bergson: Yes Karsten....
[13:58] herman Bergson: Some even claim that our fear of snakes and spiders go back to our prehistoric anscestors
[13:59] Karsten Runningbear: hmm, we should have fear of cats ^^
[13:59] Karsten Runningbear: she have eaten us
[13:59] Bejiita Imako: hahaha why ? they are so cute
[13:59] Oceane: lol
[13:59] Merlin: we fear things that are no danger to us, and yet we do not fear the things which are a danger
[13:59] Bejiita Imako: unless its a lion u mean
[14:00] Bejiita Imako:
[14:00] Dain Shan: tell that a nearly 200 kg heavy hungry tiger ^^
[14:00] Merlin: Oh well. Its time for me to go home
[14:00] Dain Shan: Have a good one Merlin
[14:00] Oceane: good night Merlin
[14:00] Bejiita Imako: cu Merlin
[14:00] Merlin: Goood night everyone
[14:00] herman Bergson: Now we are off to the zoo it is a good moment to conclude this session :-)
[14:00] Karsten Runningbear: bye merlin
[14:01] Bejiita Imako: hehehe
[14:01] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your participation....
[14:01] Bejiita Imako: well time for an event for me
[14:01] Bejiita Imako: cu soon all
[14:01] Bejiita Imako:
[14:01] herman Bergson: Class dismissed :-)

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