Tuesday, April 30, 2013

471: The Art Not to Be an Egoist 36

Ghana is one of the largest producers of cocoa, but it has a price. Children of 5 to 7 years old are working on the cacao plantations in appalling living conditions.

A New York cacao broker boosted , that he made big money with speculating with cacao. Then he was confronted with the fact 

that kids of 5 to 7 years old were poisoned by pesticides, working on the cacao plantations, exploited and underfed.

Yes, that was a sad thing to hear,  and personally he hated such situations, but in the cacao broker business there is no room for such sentiments.

In India and Bangladesh there are tens of thousands of children exploited in the textile industry. It is a known fact and we go to the department store and buy ourselves a nice summer outfit, made in India.

We all know these facts. Then, how is it possible that we can live in these two worlds without being emotionally torn apart.

On the one hand the world of our personal interests and experiences and on the other hand the world of our profession, economic cycles and free market rules? 

Think also of bankers, who see individual clients been thrown into deep financial misery due to their actions. And still the show goes on.

How is it possible, that we can store two such contradictory facts in our mind, where they don't seem to meet, not even create a cognitive dissonance? Amazing, isn't it? Our self-image stays unharmed by it.

To understand this we have to listen to Talcott Parsons (1902 - 1979), an American sociologist who served on the faculty of Harvard University, who published his "The Social System" in 1951.

- quote -
The fundamental starting point is the concept of social systems of action. The interaction of individual actors, that is, takes place
under such conditions 

that it is possible to treat such a process of interaction as a system in the scientific sense and subject it to the same order of theoretical analysis which has been successfully applied to other types of systems in other sciences.
- end quote -

A highly abstract statement, but what does it mean? The old way of looking at society was to divide it into nobility, clergy, citizens and workers and to use this model to interpret social structures.

Parsons however suggests to understand society as a total of social systems of action, which you can organize according to their social function: performing religious ceremonies, administer justice, handling money and savings, educating children, taking care of the sick, and so on….. These systems are our society.

All these contexts have their own structure and become rather independent systems. Surgery has its specific place…a hospital. Mathematics don't belong there. That is a part of the educational system, for instance.

In all these systems we play roles. A broker at the New York Exchange has to make profits. That is the main rule of the system. What he thinks about exploited children in Ghana is not relevant for the system.

His moral insights belong to his personal social system. They don't fit in in his professional system. Like bankers, who knew that they caused financial disaster for some clients, justified their products by saying "There is no law who forbids selling them".

We have a serious issue here. Every social system has its own rules and goals and it is not a law of nature that these rules and goals are related to ethics.

Don't you know that drill? "What do you want with your moralizing about exploiting children or destroying rain forests and chancing away natives from there land?
You want me to close my factory and make hundreds of people loose their job? 

Besides that, when we don't buy thiese low cost produced textiles, that country won't have an economy at all anymore. You only can count on starvation for those people then!"

We may consider two fundamental questions.
1. Why in particular should I be the one, who tries to make the world a better place?

2. Can I, even when I really wanted to, really put any weight on the scale?

Let me give you one example of colliding social systems. Big department store companies in the Netherlands were forced to remove clothes from their collection, which were produced in India and Bangladesh due to public pressure.

And there still are organizations like Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch. We didn't have those in the Middle Ages, so I would say, we are learning, slowly but steadily.

Main Resources:
Richard David Precht, Die Kunst kein Egoist zu sein (2012)
The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition

The Discussion

[13:21] herman Bergson: Thank you ^_^
[13:21] Lizzy Pleides: Thank you herman
[13:21] Mouse Moorlord: claps
[13:21] herman Bergson: I guess I yet managed to shot circuit Scors' antenna:-)
[13:22] Bejiita Imako: heheh
[13:22] .: Beertje :.: lol
[13:22] herman Bergson: the basic point here is sociology.....or...how to analyze society
[13:23] herman Bergson: and in a way it is a bit shocking if you follow Parsons
[13:23] Lizzy Pleides: if we only would pay a few more cents for our cloths the people in Bangladesh would have a better life
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:23] Gemma Allen: it is a hard judgement
[13:23] herman Bergson: A German sociologist. Niklas Luhman (1998+) went even further....
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: aaa
[13:24] seekerp: so is our fault?
[13:24] Gemma Allen: because it IS true in some of these countries they would have no job for that person earning so little for so much time
[13:24] herman Bergson: Morals isn't a part of these systems of social action alt all....morals belong only to the personal system....
[13:25] seekerp: what you guys think the solution is ?
[13:25] Gemma Allen: i wonder how the factory owners in bangledesh will justify MakIng the workers enter the building that fell down by saying no pay for a month if you dont
[13:25] herman Bergson: Well, like the argument....not selling these products will cost us jobs here...
[13:25] Gemma Allen: I think eventually the people will rise up
[13:25] Gemma Allen: and force changes in their own countries
[13:25] herman Bergson: In fact it is already happening Gemma
[13:25] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:25] Gemma Allen: today big demonstrations
[13:25] herman Bergson: Like in the Netherlands....
[13:26] Lizzy Pleides: these countries are extremely corrupt
[13:26] seekerp: hank do u know anything about that?
[13:26] herman Bergson: the Big stores were scared like hell by the actions agains INdian and Bangladesh clothing
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: true
[13:26] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:26] Gemma Allen: same here with walmart
[13:26] Gemma Allen: and other stores
[13:26] Hαηk: i kno alot bout netherlands because im from there lol
[13:26] Hαηk: XD
[13:26] herman Bergson: there....! So it is happpening.....still on a small scale perhaps....
[13:26] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:27] Gemma Allen: but i am I'm Sorry! to say i still buy clothing from those countries
[13:27] Gemma Allen: I sorry..
[13:27] seekerp: but what is it that we want
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: lets just hope it gives results also
[13:27] herman Bergson: Yes Seekerp....a good question....
[13:27] seekerp: what should our goal be?
[13:27] herman Bergson: and there is an answer to it....
[13:28] herman Bergson: we want what you want.....
[13:28] seekerp: so what do we do?
[13:28] seekerp: nothing?
[13:28] herman Bergson: I suppose you like to live a rewarding and fulfilled life....
[13:28] herman Bergson: to say ...life is worth living...
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: however i think that when we go and buy something we don't think about the situation for the ones that made them , see a good looking clothing with a good price so we buy it
[13:29] Gemma Allen: oops
[13:29] seekerp: but if we r talking other countries do we intervene or not?
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: eee what happened
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: aaa there I am
[13:29] herman Bergson  frowns at Bejiita
[13:29] Gemma Allen: hit a trigger
[13:29] Mouse Moorlord: yea but its different to every single person...
[13:29] .: Beertje :.: why not make your own cloths?..instead of buying what a child has made?
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes
[13:29] herman Bergson: Yes Mouse
[13:29] seekerp: no mouse
[13:29] seekerp: u r wrong mouse
[13:29] Gemma Allen: I think the only way we can intervene is by not buying
[13:30] seekerp: is the same for all
[13:30] herman Bergson: It makes no sense to start a discussion on details indeed...
[13:30] Gemma Allen: and using the large banks
[13:30] herman Bergson: but there are some basics every human being needs
[13:30] Gemma Allen: go to smaller local banks
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: the prob with that is we stopped do that when the industrial revolution came and the clothing factories sprung up in the 1800 s everywhere
[13:30] Gemma Allen: or credit unions
[13:30] Mouse Moorlord: well if you happy with less or if you happy with the most ...depends on the person right
[13:30] herman Bergson: Like food and shelter to begin with
[13:31] Gemma Allen: i wish i could sew my own clothes but then where does the material come from lllll same contries
[13:31] herman Bergson: People need a family and the safety of its family for instance
[13:31] Lizzy Pleides: the cotton pluckers are starving too
[13:31] Gemma Allen: cant make my own shoes either ...
[13:31] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: yes and we don't have weaving looms at home anymore or the general knowledge how to use them, that knowledge only those working in the factories making fabric ect have nowadays
[13:32] herman Bergson: Yes Gemma the world has become too complex for such wishes
[13:32] Gemma Allen: yep
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: and todays machines are to expensive also to have at hope, huge computerized things requiring certified training to operate and so
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: home
[13:32] Gemma Allen: during the summer i support local farmers and buy their produce
[13:33] herman Bergson: The main issue here is that we all are playing roles.....
[13:33] herman Bergson: you as a citizen Gemma, but on your job you play another role...
[13:34] herman Bergson: among friends again another one....
[13:34] herman Bergson: We love to think of ourselves as being one person....
[13:34] herman Bergson: In a way we are, I guess
[13:34] seekerp: sure herman but its been like that forever
[13:34] herman Bergson: but we are also a collection of roles
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:35] Lizzy Pleides: and we are having inter role conflicts sometimes
[13:35] herman Bergson: Yes Seekerp...nothing wrong with that
[13:35] herman Bergson: Yes Lizzy...
[13:35] Gemma Allen: yep
[13:36] herman Bergson: and what we may see more perhaps is an increase of conflicts between systems of social action
[13:36] herman Bergson: Like the banking system is really in conflict with other systems today
[13:37] herman Bergson: even the personal system of individuals where morals is a basic issue
[13:37] seekerp: but all this seems to me its due to the fact that we as humans don't have a clue what we want and how to get it
[13:38] seekerp: sometimes i think that we act like unicellular beings
[13:38] seekerp: just running away from pain towards pleasure
[13:38] herman Bergson: True Seekerp....
[13:38] seekerp: running from death towards life
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: aha
[13:38] seekerp: but is that it?
[13:39] herman Bergson: We are products of evolution....a random process without a goal
[13:39] seekerp: this is all
[13:39] seekerp: ?
[13:39] herman Bergson: Well...we have our fantasies Seekerp....
[13:39] seekerp: so if there is no goal then if everything its chaos its ok
[13:40] seekerp: since there is no clear goal
[13:40] Lizzy Pleides: are you sure that evolution has not a goal?
[13:40] herman Bergson: I don't see the logic in that Seekerp...
[13:40] herman Bergson: What is there is causality...
[13:40] herman Bergson: not chaos
[13:40] seekerp: that is the question
[13:40] Gemma Allen: hope not
[13:40] seekerp: we dont know
[13:40] herman Bergson: To be sure that evolution has no goal is impossible of course
[13:41] seekerp: and think about before there was life on the planet
[13:41] seekerp: so there was no evolution then ?
[13:41] herman Bergson: but the more difficult question is...what is meant by "GOAL"
[13:42] seekerp: a propose
[13:42] seekerp: is god playing with us
[13:42] seekerp: or do we come from nothing
[13:42] seekerp: r we gods?
[13:42] herman Bergson: we come from matter
[13:42] seekerp: or nothing at all
[13:42] seekerp: sure
[13:42] seekerp: but even matter they say it came to be
[13:43] Gemma Allen: regardless we are all involved with ethics
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes what did all those sub atomic particles come from in the beginning
[13:43] seekerp: yes
[13:43] herman Bergson: yes...like any organic or chemical reaction can come to be
[13:43] seekerp: but is ethics separate from matter
[13:44] herman Bergson: not if you mean that ethics is produced by our mind
[13:44] seekerp: i dont think that
[13:44] herman Bergson: and it is the result of living together as social animals
[13:44] seekerp: social is too recent
[13:44] herman Bergson: A way to survive
[13:45] herman Bergson: we have no knowledge about that...
[13:45] seekerp: yes
[13:45] seekerp: but when we try to solve problems now
[13:45] herman Bergson: there may have been dinosaur species which lived in groups....so as social animals
[13:45] seekerp: we need those answer
[13:45] seekerp: if we dont have them
[13:45] seekerp: then we have the world we have now
[13:46] .: Beertje :.: sorry I have to go...have a goodnight all
[13:46] Lizzy Pleides: TC Beertje
[13:46] Gemma Allen: Bye, Bye   
[13:46] Gemma Allen: beetjie
[13:46] Mouse Moorlord: ni ni
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: bye then Beertje
[13:46] .: Beertje :.: bye
[13:46] herman Bergson: Well Look at the wallThe comic......
[13:46] seekerp: we must go too guys
[13:46] Gemma Allen: i bought the gown she had on last week
[13:46] seekerp: have to go back to the other game
[13:46] Gemma Allen: her gown that is
[13:46] Gemma Allen: LOL
[13:46] Gemma Allen: there is another game???
[13:46] seekerp: thank u guys
[13:47] seekerp: rl
[13:47] Gemma Allen: looool
[13:47] Gemma Allen: ok
[13:47] herman Bergson: ok Seekerp...:-)
[13:47] Lizzy Pleides: bye Seekerb
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: bye seeker
[13:47] Mouse Moorlord: bye for now
[13:47] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your participation....
[13:47] Lizzy Pleides: TC Mouse
[13:47] seekerp: its a game but we have no clue why we r playing it
[13:47] Gemma Allen: herman came on line to say sorrry he is so tired went to bed
[13:47] Gemma Allen: ♪♫♩ ((-:  QWARK  :-))  ♪♫♩
[13:47] herman Bergson: if you have no further remarks or questions you may return to all your games ^_^
[13:47] Gemma Allen: he is working too long hours and busy
[13:48] Gemma Allen: alll day
[13:48] Gemma Allen: 12 hours
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: aaaw
[13:48] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: I miss him
[13:48] herman Bergson: Yes so I heard Gemma ....poor guy...
[13:48] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:48] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ^_^

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