Tuesday, November 6, 2012

426: The Art Not to be an Egoist 1

Is it true that the human being basically is a selfish animal and that everything else is just a thin layer of culture? Is that us,  as Ayn Rand and Josef Kirschner claim?

The greedy bankers are depicted as the bad boys in this world and there is a call for new ethics. Aren't we in essence moral beings?

The competition between capitalism and socialism  brought us motivation: us against them. Capitalism was good, socialism bad. 

And now we have to discover that capitalism is bad too. No morals at all. Just look around. We live in a world where we influence the climate.

We build industries, like chemical plants or nuclear power plants, that bring some profit, but if things go wrong, we aren't able to handle the ensuing disaster.

We live in an almost unlimited information society and are manipulated by information on a daily basis. We live in a world of unequally distributed resources.

And there we are amidst all this trying to decide what is good and what is bad.  But how much do we know about ourselves, how we function morally.

What do we really know in our age of science about the moral nature of man? What is the relation between our Self and ethics? 

When do we act ethical and when not? Why aren't we all good, as we actually would like to be? How can we make our world "better" in the long-term.

What is morality anyway? It is the way we interact with each other. Morality divides the world in two parts: the good and the bad.

Apparently we agree pretty much among each other, when we make an inventory of the Good: honesty and truth, friendship, loyalty, faithfulness, care and helpfulness, empathy, consideration, friendliness, manners and respect, bravery and citizenship.

All this we call good one way or an other but yet we have no absolute definition of Good. Being honest is one thing, but always being absolutely honest leads to hell.

Philosophers have developed many theories of what we ought to do, but nowadays we understand that we have to know more about human nature to understand morality.

But what is "human nature" exactly? For David Hume (1711 - 1776) there were two possible answers. On the one hand you can study human nature as an anatomist.

That is what the neuroscientists, evolutionary psychologists and biologists, sociologists and behavioral economists do.

On the other hand we can look at our human nature as an artist does, discovering the beauty of it. This is how theologians and philosophers of ethics do.

But it is nice to discuss virtues, but we need the scientists to explain why we not always act according to all these virtues, which we find so truly human and good.

Every era has its own way of describing human nature. Thomas Aquino (1225 - 1274) believed that the 'natura humana' was God's spirit, like God had given it to Adam.

In the 1970s to 1990s evolutionary biologists have "biologized" moral philosophy as is expressed by a title as "The Selfish Gene" (1976) by Richard Dawkins.

Attention was focused on characteristics like self-interest and selfishness. These seemed to be the "silent hand" behind our social life. It showed to be an incomplete picture.

So let's dig into morality and human nature and try to find out why we all want to do good and yet as often do bad.

The Discussion

[14:21] herman Bergson: Our present project....thank you ^_^
[14:22] herman Bergson: If you have any remarks or comments...the floor is yours :-)
[14:22] Alaya Chépaspourquoi (alaya.kumaki): mmm, i think that the competitions model, have got into our way of social cohesion.. somehow
[14:22] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): again a lot think about
[14:22] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I am a fan of Dawkins and I would like to say that The selfish Gene means the Gene is selfish....
[14:22] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Not that it is a gene for selfishness in the person
[14:22] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): just the gene????
[14:22] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Yes
[14:23] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): how
[14:23] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): The gene tries to replicate itself
[14:23] herman Bergson: The idea is older than Dawkins...
[14:23] herman Bergson: he only popularized it...
[14:23] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Yes I know
[14:23] Alaya Chépaspourquoi (alaya.kumaki): yes the behavior is a pattern that replicate itself
[14:23] Alaya Chépaspourquoi (alaya.kumaki): transmitted pattern
[14:23] llStopAnimation: Script trying to stop animations but agent not found
[14:24] herman Bergson: We live in a competetive society indeed Alaya...
[14:24] herman Bergson: Hi Shynu
[14:24] Shyne Hui: gives the professor a rose
[14:24] herman Bergson: Have a seat plz
[14:24] Shyne Hui: its Shyne
[14:24] Shyne Hui: gigals
[14:25] Bejiita Imako: hi Shyne
[14:25] Shyne Hui: pulls on ur pipe a bit
[14:25] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): lol
[14:25] Bejiita Imako: ehe
[14:25] Shyne Hui: u look vewy smawt
[14:25] Shyne Hui: hms
[14:25] Shyne Hui: sitsit
[14:25] herman Bergson: you disturb a class Shyne
[14:25] Shyne Hui: oo
[14:26] Shyne Hui: sowei
[14:26] Shyne Hui: moment i sit
[14:26] Shyne Hui: oki
[14:26] Shyne Hui: go on
[14:26] herman Bergson: thank you...
[14:26] Shyne Hui: moans:you welcome
[14:26] herman Bergson: ok...
[14:26] herman Bergson: this new project will be about morality and human nature...
[14:27] Shyne Hui: coughs lightly
[14:27] herman Bergson: It is based on the work of Richard David Pecht...
[14:27] herman Bergson: one of you mentioned him...
[14:27] herman Bergson: time ago...
[14:27] herman Bergson: A young german philosopher
[14:27] Bejiita Imako: ok
[14:28] herman Bergson: Today it all was still introductory...:-)
[14:28] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): and still you gave us a lot to think about..
[14:29] Bejiita Imako: hehe yes
[14:29] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): is he on the internet??
[14:29] Bejiita Imako:
[14:29] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): information about him i mean
[14:29] herman Bergson: Most important observation is that in the 70s t0 90s selfishness and self interest were accepted topics...
[14:29] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): maybe Wiki Gemma
[14:29] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[14:29] Alaya Chépaspourquoi (alaya.kumaki): and not now herman?
[14:29] herman Bergson: Lot of Pecht on the internet and youTube....Gemma
[14:29] herman Bergson: In a way self interest is discredited Alaya....
[14:30] Jaelle Faerye: i have to run alas
[14:30] Jaelle Faerye: thank you
[14:30] Jaelle Faerye: bye all
[14:30] herman Bergson: due to the greedy behavior of the bankers it brought our system almoast to a collapse and breakdown...
[14:30] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): bye Jaelle
[14:30] Bejiita Imako: ok bye¨
[14:30] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): plus tard
[14:30] Vadaman: Bye
[14:30] Mick Nerido: Bye everyone
[14:30] llStopAnimation: Script trying to stop animations but agent not found
[14:30] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): Bye Mick
[14:30] herman Bergson: So we look for another morality
[14:31] herman Bergson: and other understanding of human nature....
[14:31] herman Bergson: an answer to the question....where does this greed come from?
[14:31] herman Bergson: was it the basis of our evolution?
[14:31] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I thought this course was going to be about Egoism?
[14:31] herman Bergson: or was cooperation the basis?
[14:32] herman Bergson: Yes Merlin....
[14:32] Birgie Breck: Neitzsche admired the ancient Greeks and was interested in their view of tragedy ... one way they dealt with it was to look toward what is ideal
[14:32] Annie Brightstar (anniebrightstar): wb Lizzy
[14:32] herman Bergson: about the Art Not tobe an Egoist ^_^
[14:32] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): ok Yes
[14:32] Birgie Breck: morality fits into the ideal
[14:32] Lizzy Pleides: ty :-)
[14:32] Birgie Breck: which also is an aspect of existentialism when you accept life as it is
[14:33] herman Bergson: Yes Birgie....
[14:33] herman Bergson: We are a constant stream of choices and judgements about what is good and bad, acceptable and unacceptable...
[14:33] herman Bergson: That is what we have to try to understand...
[14:33] herman Bergson: how does it work?
[14:34] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I put this pic on my FB... http://sphotos-a.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/550352_214622795336363_1154454781_n.jpg
[14:34] Birgie Breck: idealism is also an aspect of Christianity
[14:34] Alaya Chépaspourquoi (alaya.kumaki): mayby the greed comes from the lack, created, among some social groups.. and the privation during war .
[14:34] Alaya Chépaspourquoi (alaya.kumaki): as a neurosis
[14:35] Birgie Breck: in the painting at the back of the room, one greek philosopher in the center points heavenward (ideal to come)
[14:35] Birgie Breck: the other gestures that this world is all there is
[14:35] Birgie Breck: where is the ideal
[14:35] Birgie Breck: lived out
[14:36] herman Bergson: is it about an ideal life?
[14:36] Birgie Breck: I don't think so
[14:36] Birgie Breck: it is about accepting that life is not ideal... it is tragic
[14:36] Alaya Chépaspourquoi (alaya.kumaki): maybe the ideal that having much, will last  and no lack would come anymore
[14:36] herman Bergson: We are part of evolution and what we try is to understand in what way we are
[14:37] Alaya Chépaspourquoi (alaya.kumaki): but all new things last less and we become very dependent of less lasting thing
[14:37] herman Bergson: Well...I suggest that we'll wait and see how we get forward with this project ^_^
[14:38] Birgie Breck: we need a way to overcome the tragic...deal with it... idealism is one way
[14:38] herman Bergson: maybe it will bring a clearer view on morality and human nature...
[14:38] Alaya Chépaspourquoi (alaya.kumaki): tragico comic yeah
[14:38] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): I need to go...excuse me Herman
[14:38] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): or the usual..... more and more questions
[14:38] Bejiita Imako: ok cu Beertje
[14:38] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Bye Beertje
[14:38] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): bye :))
[14:38] Shyne Hui: byee
[14:38] Vadaman: See you.
[14:38] herman Bergson: ok Beeertje.... ^_^
[14:39] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your pinterest and participation again today....
[14:39] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!!
[14:39] herman Bergson: class dismissed :-))
[14:39] Qwark Allen: AAHH!!!
[14:39] Lizzy Pleides: Thanks to you Herman!
[14:39] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): hopes teh class is big for this project
14:39] Qwark Allen: ty
[14:39] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): and all come next week