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Moral Skepticism: The Honest Conclusion of Moral Relativism and Moral Language

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posted on Jan, 26 2017 @ 01:02 AM
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a reply to: Talorc

I do not follow your reasoning.

You wrote



Good and bad lies only in the sphere of will, judgement, and conscious choice.


Then you wrote



Doesn't matter if something was the result of ignorance or not entirely "purposeful".



These seem to be completely contradicting statements to me.
Perhaps you could be more concise on what the word "purposeful" means for you?
I read it as referring to intent, or "will". So to say your basis for objective morality hinges on will, then say will is irrelevant, is irrational to me.

As well as the assertion that judgement and choice are determining factors, but that ignorance is irrelevant, also seems completely irrational.

Being ignorant of some elements means the ability to judge will be impacted, therefore the choices will be impacted.

So ignorance and cognizance are necessarily important factors in the objective morality you defend...

There must be some part of your discours or vocabulary that I am misunderstanding.




posted on Jan, 26 2017 @ 02:16 AM
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originally posted by: ketsuko
a reply to: Bluesma

Not really.

Even if you want to excuse him for getting rip-roaring drunk,


-Which I wouldn't do, considering my view that intent is not reliable for judgement of anothers moral nature...



A responsible or moral person takes steps to insure such does not happen, so that the only person suffering for him having gotten rip-roaring drunk is himself.


To use our example here to illustrate the problem of using knowledge and ignorance in determination of morality (perhaps to aid the other person I am exchanging with see my point on that)

If the drunk person got in the car to take their backwoods road which leads only to their isolated home,
assuming that no one else would be on it (a rational presumption if it is night time, and no one else but he/she lives out there)
but there was an unknown element in the situation - a lost tourist had accidently taken that road, and turned around, and was coming out of it .

The drunk person may have made a choice which he believed would only endanger himself and no one else,
based upon the information available to him and known.

Does that change the immorality of the act for you?

(couldn't help percieving this as one of the potential scenarios because I live in an area where this is a common occurance - people who live in such isolated places often tend to think they have a much wider freedom of choices that effect only themselves...)

edit on 26-1-2017 by Bluesma because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 26 2017 @ 01:31 PM
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a reply to: Bluesma

Ok, we can sort this out easily now.

What I mean is like a 'misapplication' of the will, the will misleading itself, we can say.

So first lets establish that doing wrong only truly harms the perpetrator-- the person who's done wrong. No one, for example, can cause you to be a bad person, only you can do that to yourself. No one can morally harm you without some kind of consent on your part, or some complicity.

Next, that no one willing harms themselves or seeks out "bad" for themselves. Everything that everyone does is guided by the belief, mistaken or not, that this is somehow good for them at this time. Everyone wants good for themselves, without exception. Everyone wants the truth, everyone desires justice, even if their notions of the things are actually false and self-serving distortions of it.

Then the conclusion is that when people do wrong, they do it out of the mistaken belief that it's good. The will is still involved here, they've still made a decision, but the problem is that they are confused about what constitutes good and bad. They don't understand the proper application of good and bad, they don't know what things are truly good and what's truly wrong.

So there's no contradiction at all; there's still a choice here, but it's a choice between being deceived and knowing the truth. People don't willingly do wrong, but they do choose, in a way, to deceive themselves.



posted on Jan, 26 2017 @ 03:29 PM
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originally posted by: Talorc
a reply to: Bluesma

Ok, we can sort this out easily now.


I'm afraid it still doesn' tmake sense to me.




So first lets establish that doing wrong only truly harms the perpetrator-


That is a very curious premise. I have never heard it before - in fact the most common ideas about ethics turn around ideas of ones effect upon others. If I pinch your arm, it does no harm to me whatsoever. It might leave a large bruise on you, however.




Next, that no one willing harms themselves or seeks out "bad" for themselves.


This too, is quite different a view! I percieve self destruction to be a very common thing in humans. Many have feelings of low self esteem, self judgement and shame, even self hatred, which motives self destructive behaviors.




Then the conclusion is that when people do wrong, they do it out of the mistaken belief that it's good.


Though that might be true in some cases, I can't see that as a general rule. Sometimes people don't think before acting, they just go on reflex or emotion. Sometimes they feel they are doing something "bad" but do it anyway (because of strong physical or emotional drives and addictions, for example).




They don't understand the proper application of good and bad, they don't know what things are truly good and what's truly wrong.


I can't comprehend here, in the sense of putting myself in your shoes, because I don't have any idea of your concept of what is "truly" good and "truly" wrong. That circles back to some sort of objective pre-existing good and evil, which I do not believe in.
It's like when people use the argument "X is true because the Bible said so".

But I appreciate you trying anyway. We don't share the same premise about the nature of humans and the universe, so we won't come to any agreement on this particular subject. But that's really no big deal. I appreciate the discussion and exchange.



posted on Jan, 26 2017 @ 05:06 PM
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originally posted by: Bluesma

That is a very curious premise. I have never heard it before - in fact the most common ideas about ethics turn around ideas of ones effect upon others. If I pinch your arm, it does no harm to me whatsoever. It might leave a large bruise on you, however.



These premises aren't mine. They're from people who were a lot smarter than I am.

In keeping with the same standpoint, the only true harm is moral harm. Physical harm is indifferent. Pinching someone doesn't really hurt them, however you are harming yourself by being malicious.


This too, is quite different a view! I percieve self destruction to be a very common thing in humans. Many have feelings of low self esteem, self judgement and shame, even self hatred, which motives self destructive behaviors.


Even people who do things like self-mutilate or kill themselves do it because they think it's right, at that time, for whatever reason. Seems strange and highly unorthodox but that's how it is, according to this view. To frame it in modern psychological terms, don't people often self-harm to release repressed emotions, or to stimulate some kind of feeling that assuages of temporarily masks whatever emotional turmoil they're feeling? It seems to fit.


Though that might be true in some cases, I can't see that as a general rule. Sometimes people don't think before acting, they just go on reflex or emotion. Sometimes they feel they are doing something "bad" but do it anyway (because of strong physical or emotional drives and addictions, for example).


If they feel they're doing something bad, but do it anyway, then don't actually think it's bad. They've justified it to themselves in some way to reconcile the thought and the action. If they KNEW it was bad, I.e. real harm, there would be no compulsion whatsoever. As an analogy, look at evolutionary theory: no species, ever, would engage in a behavior to expressly bring about its own demise (or the demise of its genetic lineage). Everything is to perpetuate the species. Even in the animal kingdom, you'll see them sometimes engaging in behaviors which might, at first, seem self-destructive; but it's not so. At least, the animal is not purposely intending harm for itself.

A very very oversimplified analogy to what I'm talking about, but maybe that makes it easier to understand.


I can't comprehend here, in the sense of putting myself in your shoes, because I don't have any idea of your concept of what is "truly" good and "truly" wrong. That circles back to some sort of objective pre-existing good and evil, which I do not believe in.
It's like when people use the argument "X is true because the Bible said so".

But I appreciate you trying anyway. We don't share the same premise about the nature of humans and the universe, so we won't come to any agreement on this particular subject. But that's really no big deal. I appreciate the discussion and exchange.


As I already said, what's truly wrong is only for a rational creature to behave irrationally, judge wrongly, shirk reason. It goes against nature, therefore bad. Why did nature give us reason, if not to use it?


edit on 26-1-2017 by Talorc because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 27 2017 @ 01:37 AM
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originally posted by: Talorc

In keeping with the same standpoint, the only true harm is moral harm. Physical harm is indifferent. Pinching someone doesn't really hurt them, however you are harming yourself by being malicious.


You totally lost me with "moral harm". I have no idea what you are referring to!



Even people who do things like self-mutilate or kill themselves do it because they think it's right, at that time, for whatever reason. Seems strange and highly unorthodox but that's how it is, according to this view.


No.... I don't see this at all. Have you never done something you are simultaneously saying to yourself, "oh man, I shouldn't be doing this, it is so wrong!!" ?
A lot of times physical urges are at odds with ones morals or ethics. For example, many smokers with nicotine addiction find themselves with this dillema. They don't tell themselves it is right or good to do, they simply cannot withstand the suffering they feel physically if they abstain.

Emotional release can exist simultaneously with moral sense of the action as wrong.




If they feel they're doing something bad, but do it anyway, then don't actually think it's bad. They've justified it to themselves in some way to reconcile the thought and the action.
If they KNEW it was bad, I.e. real harm, there would be no compulsion whatsoever.


I kind of already approached this, but often physical desires, drives, and addictions are contrary to ones morals. Even someone who knows very well something is "bad" might have difficulty overiding such impulses. This is why religious practices exist which aim for control of the body, and traditionally are considered long and challenging, in a search for "purity" .





As an analogy, look at evolutionary theory: no species, ever, would engage in a behavior to expressly bring about its own demise (or the demise of its genetic lineage). Everything is to perpetuate the species. Even in the animal kingdom, you'll see them sometimes engaging in behaviors which might, at first, seem self-destructive; but it's not so. At least, the animal is not purposely intending harm for itself.


I don't know how we can deduct intention from observation of animals. That suggests they "think about" what they are doing, and make choices - which I am not sure they do.

But fitting in the sense of my description of human subconscious behaviors - they might be acting totally contrary to their moral beliefs, because of some instinctual drives.


Systems do atrophy -especially when they are closed. Be it a biological system, or a social system.
We can observe this on the level of individuals, or of a group. The person who closes their self off from exchange with their environment, or the nation that closes their self off from their environment.
When that happens, is it the organism that has consciously, willingly chosen to self destruct? That they have decided it is moral to do so (making up excuses or rationalisations)?

Perhaps in some cases, but I can't observe this to be so sure.




As I already said, what's truly wrong is only for a rational creature to behave irrationally, judge wrongly, shirk reason. It goes against nature, therefore bad. Why did nature give us reason, if not to use it?


So... you consider animals as creatures with a conscious reasoning and critical mind?
I do find this view very curious... behavior that are regarded as moralities normally involve avoiding and preventing harm to others - that's the closest we can ascertain to a "universal" characteristic of morals.
It might value harm to others outside the group, but usually focus on altruistic and cooperative avoidance of harm to other members. (don't kill, torture, maim...)

Beyond that base, we get into "small morals" which are more etiquette and vary greatly between cultures. They can "harm" your reputation, your social status, if not respected, but are still focused within a goal of effective cooperation and communication between members (which furthers the groups survival as a whole)

You say this view is one other "greater minds" came up with...can you refer me to some of them? I have always been fascinated with the subject and studied a lot of philosophers, and find this totally incomprehensible!
In particular, I am very interested in understanding this concept of "moral harm" as you described it?


edit on 27-1-2017 by Bluesma because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 27 2017 @ 09:19 AM
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Moral harm is simply becoming morally worse, more vicious (vice-prone).

The smoker having some demurring thoughts running through their head, as they pick up another cig, doesn't really matter. That smoking is wrong is obviously not an actual conviction they possess if they go ahead and do it anyway, neither is self-control a virtue they actually posses. The few dissenting thoughts they might have would be a poor indicator of much of anything beyond that they 'do' have a moral sense, I guess. Doesn't mean that moral sense is properly "calibrated." As the saying goes, "actions speak louder than words (or thoughts)". Their body told them the cig would feel good, they picked up the cig because they judged it would be good right now. That's what we can determine by their actions. The impulse, though it can't be stopped from occurring, is under their control to assent to, act upon, or to deny; they chose to assent and smoke the cig. Not difficult at all to understand.

I shouldn't have used the animals as an analogy. I'm not assigning intent or choice to animal behavior, it's just a rough analogy. Like, animals are not genetically programmed to engage in behavior which is evolutionarily disadvantageous. In some weird case that they are, it's a huge outlier and defect which is snuffed out quickly. Anyway forget the animals, bad choice of analogy.



originally posted by: BluesmaSo... you consider animals as creatures with a conscious reasoning and critical mind?


.....What? Where did you get that from? Animals are irrational and necessarily live according to nature, they're not capable of right and wrong like we are.


You say this view is one other "greater minds" came up with...can you refer me to some of them? I have always been fascinated with the subject and studied a lot of philosophers, and find this totally incomprehensible!
In particular, I am very interested in understanding this concept of "moral harm" as you described it?


It would make no difference at all if you approached those writings the same way you're approaching this now. They used certain words in a very different way, if you went into it with all the modern interpretational BS it would seem just as unintelligible.
edit on 27-1-2017 by Talorc because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 27 2017 @ 10:18 AM
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originally posted by: Talorc
Their body told them the cig would feel good, they picked up the cig because they judged it would be good right now. That's what we can determine by their actions.


I guess in this case, you might lack experience and that could cause a misinterpretation.
We have not only a instinctive drive towards pleasure, but also an instinctive drive away from pain and discomfort. A person who is physically addicted to a substance suffers physically when they abstain. Picking up the substance is not just the brain saying it is good, the brain may be totally in judgement of the act, but overcome by the physical suffering and in need of relieving themselves from it.





.....What? Where did you get that from? Animals are irrational and necessarily live according to nature, they're not capable of right and wrong like we are.


Sorry, I guess the use of the animal analogy, added to the statement that not using rational thought as being "against nature" made me come to that conclusion. Nature = animal behavior, which you used to illustrate "moral behavior". I don't know, it confused me. Sorry.




It would make no difference at all if you approached those writings the same way you're approaching this now. They used certain words in a very different way, if you went into it with all the modern interpretational BS it would seem just as unintelligible.


I researched "moral harm", and found it is a newish term being introduced to refer to shame and guilt. It was brought about mostly to refer to what people in the military suffer from after being in combat and having witnessed or taken part in actions they have a deep feeling of being immoral. (killing, torturing....)

In that sense, I can kind of understand using the vocabulary like, "nothing you do can harm another" (surely we want to say that to men and women we hire to kill other humans and subsequently feel shame about that... ). Nor do we want them to think anyone else made them do it (better they carry the responsibility alone for what they did, we don't want fingers pointing back at us).

I tell you what, there is a way of approaching things that is different according to your patient. For example, my parents (both shrinks) always said that a large proportion of claims of incest and child molestation are actually false memories. But that for them, who must treat these people, it doesn't matter. Whether a memory is false or true, it still produces the same traumatic effects. So you treat all those with such memories the same.

The only place where determining the difference comes in (trying to find the objective truth) is in a court of law, where someone risks being punished for something they didn't do. But healing is a different thing. It seems to me the path of approaching "moral harm" this way is engineered to help heal ex military with PTSD. Not to determine the philosophical truth about reality.

Because in reality, most of us know you CAN be forced to do something you feel is immoral by another (that is why waterboarding exists); and things we do to another CAN do them harm (that is why war exists).

Taking this approach out of it's context, is what makes "snowflakes" more consumed with avoiding "moral harm" than actual physical harm.
Just my opinion, of course.

On the subject of individual conscience versus societal-constructed ethics-

We can be conditioned to integrate the societal ethics so that they become interiorized conscience.

I found this out when I moved to another country where the ethics are not the same. I assume responsibility for my moral objection as if it is only mine...but most times, it is very clearly American morals I am carrying inside. Here, being alone in my objection, it seems to them they are my individual morals. But when I go back home, I am just like everyone else, we all feel the same, and then it can be labelled "collective morals".

I guess "moral harm" is something I experience on such a daily basis, it just doesn't mean much to me anymore. You can only stay shocked and scandalized for so long before you realize you are just wasting energy.



posted on Jan, 27 2017 @ 11:20 AM
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a reply to: Bluesma

I used to smoke cigarettes, I just don't attribute that addiction to an irresistible physical urge that can't be overcome. Suffering comes with the territory, and smoking is still your choice. So what if it hurts? Lots of things are painful-- still doesn't mean physical pain has the capacity to dominate the will. Nothing can do that without your own consent and willingness.

Ok, that is absolutely not the same "moral harm" I'm referring to. My concept is not modern at all, more like very ancient.

About being "forced" to do something immoral: absolutely false in my view. No one can force you to do anything you don't want to do, without exception. Say you're even threatened with death? It's still your choice between dying and doing something you know is wrong. Maybe it's better to choose death, and I don't say that lightly. Lots of people have done it in the past, whether they be martyrs, fanatics, or truly acting from righteous conviction, so even the threat of death isn't this magical mystical irresistible compulsion you keep referring to.

No one does wrong for the sake of doing wrong; no one actually says to themselves, "this is wrong and will harm me and I should not do it, I'm going to do it for that reason." That's just a ridiculous things to believe. Everything people do is for some perceived benefit to themselves, fully conscious or not, misguided or not.

Also doesn't matter if most people think they "know" something. Most people are dead wrong and hopelessly confused about many things, this is one of those things.

Also, pardon my frank assumption here, but I think the different cultural norms and the "culture shock" you experienced in France have nothing to do with morality, nothing at all.

I found a good webpage detailing what I'm talking about, it will hopefully explain this stuff better than I could: www.socraticmethod.net...
edit on 27-1-2017 by Talorc because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 28 2017 @ 01:37 AM
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Will

The belief that at the base, all forms of so called wrong doing are motivated by (good ) self interest is not a problem for me, as long as we include the desire to relieve or escape suffering, and phenomena like a person identifying with another (as in a mother who projects her self upon her child or mate, so that their well being is the equivalent of her well being, and so sacrifice so that the other will be well happens).

This here, for me, is an argument against the question of will as a factor in discerning good or evil. There is no longer any reason to question the intent of the "wrong doer", as I have explained. If we agree on this premise, we can drop any further reference to will.
(hence my focus on pragmatic discernment of ones danger to others solely instead )


Character
But we run into the question of harm to character, which is exactly why I left off the belief in universal and inherent good and evil.

I found out that the word "character" exists in French (caractère). It is, like in our language, considered a quality to develop and nurture.

The funny thing is, it does not refer to the same types of behaviors.
A person of character here gets angry often, and shows it with loud, strong, and violent behaviors. They yell, they shout insults and vulgar language- they scare others with the force of their emotion.
Lying is not a fault or "bad" thing to do here. It is considered often very necessary and refraining from doing it when necessary is a lack of character, intelligence, and social conscience.

The well being and survival of the group is dependant upon cooperation and productivity, everywhere. Their view is that, when a leader does not use this force of emotion to scare their followers, they become lazy, unproductive, petty and mean. They enter into conflict with each other over petty complaints and productivity is hampered.

The strong show of hostile emotion has the effect of causing them to transfer their negative emotions upon the leader, in a cathartic type of way. The emotions are projected upon him and the group members suddenly feel less hostile towards each other. They begin to cooperate with each other better. They feel more calm and relieved of discomfort.

Lying is considered especially necessary for a leader to use, because sometimes in their own ignorance, the followers will use knowledge of the truth as excuses to not work. They will start protests and conflicts on issues they actually do not understand the full scope of due to their position and lack of experience at the level of grand responsibility. So the leader MUST lie often, in order to avoid such events and increase the important cooperation and productivity.


Now, my own shock at this was to see leaders, teachers, bosses which would spend a lot of time flying off the handle in irrational fits of insults and vulgarity. They wouldn't even bother making sense - that was not their goal. I watched them lying in such extreme ways at times! From my point of view, coming from another culture, this was evidence that the person was not to be trusted or respected. I couldn't even understand why they would put their position in jeopardy like that, giving their followers reason to believe they are irrational, lacking in reason and self discipline.

What shocked me worse was seeing that the employees or students would be filled with admiration for the leader when they did that! He has character, thank god. they would say. He cares, he gets things moving, and he is paying attention to the collective. He is an example to follow.

The person obsessed with their own purity, who refrains from taking on negative emotion, or lying, in the name of protecting their own soul is seen as egotistical, selfish, and lacking in social conscience. He is separating himself from the good of the whole, in an attempt to feel himself superior to all others at the expense of the collective.


The leader that screams irrational lies here isn't lacking in self discipline or control- he is not trying to refrain from lying or irrational fury. On the contrary, he makes effort to create those and manifest them, perhaps sometimes if he didn't actually feel them at first or want to do them- but he understands the well being of the group is important. Even to him as individual member of that group.

This actually works for them, because it fits in with their particular values and world views. This behavior would not at all work the same in the US.
Look earlier in this thread, the comment about anger or hatred as being evil- we don't have the same idea of it as beneficial. I still feel moral objection with this daily, despite my comprehension of it , and I cannot seem to trust or respect such leaders.

But the difference in culture goes further and means that I do not develop and use as much emotional intelligence as they do, due to my education and background... I don't have need of someone to take on my strong emotions, I don't often have them.



I do not intend to argue with Socrates, I think he was right. Though I think those who interpret him now fail to apply what he said to societies that differ from the one they were raised in. He even specified that honesty and reason creates constructive relationships within a culture that values those things. In a culture that does not, they get in the way of relationships!

In some terms you and I can easily grasp, the question I'd like to pose is- when one puts their own "purity" ahead of the well being of their group.... searching to be high in their own esteem instead of a constructive member of their group, how virtuous is that, if one considers Socrates perception of individual well being and survival being intrinsically interdependent on that of the group?

edit on 28-1-2017 by Bluesma because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 28 2017 @ 02:17 AM
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a reply to: Bluesma

If you really get down to it, at the most fundamental level, it seems to me that evil and wrong for these Greek thinkers is simply being less human, more like an animal. Having less control over your own mind, over your own thoughts and behavior, being swayed and controlled by sensations, perceptions, and impressions which are often deceptive and misleading. Selling yourself short as a rational being, shirking reason and responsibility, which we all have an innate capacity for and, actually, a duty to abide by and live by. As the saying goes, "a wise man doesn't lift a finger without reason." To me, this is really what they meant by vice and evil.

I think they have a good point and after reading so much of this stuff, in many ways I've come to despise the way modern thinkers try to explain human behavior. It's like they want to convince us of our own helplessness and hopeless entrapment. What use is that? Notice, too, that modern psychology is mostly analytical and passive. No psychologist I know of has ever come up with, or even tried to come up with, a watertight system that purports to guarantee a path to happiness, whereas these guys do (successful in that endeavor or not, at least they tried).

As for putting your "purity" ahead of the group-- that just sounds like someone's self-aggrandizement, in which case their claims to moral rectitude are probably, in part, just fake pretensions. Everyone has an obligation to other human beings, to help them wherever possible, but at the same time your own happiness and well-being is not my province. Every adults well-being and happiness is ultimately their affair and their responsibility alone, no one else's.



posted on Jan, 28 2017 @ 02:56 AM
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originally posted by: Talorc
a reply to: Bluesma

Selling yourself short as a rational being, shirking reason and responsibility, which we all have an innate capacity for and, actually, a duty to abide by and live by. As the saying goes, "a wise man doesn't lift a finger without reason." To me, this is really what they meant by vice and evil.


I guess I might agree. Only that evil as having any other descriptive qualities, as in specific types of acts, has no real existence. That's why I don't feel we can judge anothers acts as evil or good. Just as my perception of one persons irrational emotional behavior was false - they had a reason for acting that way, it was thought out, and chosen with reason. Choosing to say illogical things, and to put forth negative emotion before logic, is still a choice... and might be made with good reason.




Notice, too, that modern psychology is mostly analytical and passive. No psychologist I know of has ever come up with, or even tried to come up with, a watertight system that purports to guarantee a path to happiness, whereas these guys do (successful in that endeavor or not, at least they tried)
.

I don't know, on one hand, psychoanalysis IS analytical and passive, precisely because of the premise that only the individual can truly heal their self. We can observe, study, try to understand, but in the end, each individual holds the key to change.

Psychology and psychotherapy, however, does attempt to find treatment that can be applied from the outside to aid the individual make changes. But the extremely wide variations in individual personalities makes it impossible to come up with universal type treatments - it's almost a question of luck- finding the type of therapist that has a similar mind and an approach appropriate to you.

My dad is a psychoanalyst who uses his own theory which is based on philosophy (also a Dr. of philosophy). In my crude description, he believes most of our problems can be solved through using reason to create our own philosophies and perceptions which are coherent and structured . That it is the internal conflicts of values and intents which are the cause of problems. While chasing one moral, you could be offending another (like a soldier working on developing the virtue of loyalty might run into a conflict with his ideas of virtue on not harming others).




Everyone has an obligation to other human beings, to help them wherever possible, but at the same time your own happiness and well-being is not my province. Every adults well-being and happiness is ultimately their affair and their responsibility alone, no one else's.


I think this is very representative of American values in particular. We tend to think that individuals are islands, and what happens to the collective they are part of does not effect them. We like to believe we have the power (if we choose) to not be effected. That feels good to believe. I tend to think along those lines.

Because I repeatedly find myself thinking this way, I can't help questioning and challenging it as well.
Can you live and thrive in a society that is falling apart? I guess that's why we make shows like "Walking Dead" and a multitude of books and movies on dystopian societies and individuals trying to survive within them. We have a bit of a perverted obsession with this idea.

Can a person retain a moral sense and behavior without any society or collective to support and reinforce it?

I don't know. I feel as if I put myself in such a situation - I am alone in my particular morality, no one will agree with it here, it gets in the way of relations and constructive action. (even if it is totally appropriate in my country of origin).
It loses it's rational reasoning here - there is no longer any rational concrete way to say honesty on my part is good in relation to myself nor others around me. And yet, I cannot seem to lie, even if it is for my own and others' good.
I guess, as in your description, we could say I am choosing to be immoral, in continuing to be honest. Though experiencially, I don't feel I have much choice in the matter. My conditioning is deep - it seems impossible to do something that continues to feel self destructive, even if the context around me tells me it isn't.




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