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  1.  (5365.81)
    @Stygmata - bit dismissive of the noumenal there! I'm no kant scholar but I thought he needs it in the ethics, for example, to underpin the claim that we are both free (our noumenal selves) and determined (phenomenal). And in his metaphysics so he can establish transcendental idealism. There has to be the noumena else ‘we should be landed in the absurd conclusion that there can be appearance without anything that appears’. Its the noumena that affects us, but not causally of course. And then you have the whole 'are these two worlds or two standpoints' debate.
    But as I say, no Kant scholar me ....
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      CommentAuthorFinagle
    • CommentTimeApr 5th 2009 edited
     (5365.82)
    @Prof Structure -

    No, you're correct textually - and I did refer to it being important later in his ethics, but I do think he can do without it. I have a sort of idiosyncratic reading of Kant that follows Deleuze and Foucault, who see Kant's work as absolutely radical but hobbled by a crippling reliance on the metaphysical. The general idea is that Kant didn't carry out the notion of critique far enough, falling back on the positing of the Ideas of Reason too early and easily and without considering that Reason may have itself a phenomenal existence, history and politics.

    I would like to go on more about this later, but suffice it to say that I think you can turn the Transcendental Idea of Reason into the immanent, pragmatic ideas of rationality without losing too much and while keeping most of what was truly radical about Kantian ethics.
  2.  (5365.83)
    @ Stygmata.

    Thank you for a superb reply. However would you not agree that positing a concept of "that which is unknowable" may be tantamount to saying "that which has no meaning?". Can't we just disregard such a metaphysic on the grounds that it appears to be literally useless? I ask this because it does seem that the concept of noumena can be abused in so far as claiming any supposition or knowledge about that which Kant defined as "unknowable" looks to me to be futile. How can we know that there are things that are unknowable? I suggest we cannot and so it seems to me like a weird and paradoxical linguistic trick.
    •  
      CommentAuthorScribe
    • CommentTimeApr 5th 2009
     (5365.84)
    I am a solipsist. Thus, this conversation really isn't happening - except for in my mind.
  3.  (5365.85)
    Cool, then your mind is now telling you to shut up and you are very foolish.

    (Refuting the position rather than flaming.)
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      CommentAuthorScribe
    • CommentTimeApr 5th 2009
     (5365.86)
    Nah, I like talking to myself. I get lonely quite easily - especially since I am the only one here.
    •  
      CommentAuthorLabyrinthine
    • CommentTimeApr 6th 2009 edited
     (5365.87)
    I agree with you, Audley Strange. Unproveable stuff like God (or, you know, insert metaphysical concept here) can always be swept aside by saying okay, they MIGHT exist, if we have no proof either way, but honestly, who cares? If the world+god is identical to the world as is, which it must be otherwise there would somewhere be proof in the form of something that could not exist without god, then the whole concept of god is as you say, useless/irrelevant. Invisible pink elephant territory.

    However, I feel that whole perspective is actually based on an OVER reliance on the "real" in the phenomenal category - or rather the generalisation from properties of the MAJORITY of real things (dimension, sense-ability, etc) to the concept of the category real/phenomenal as a whole. The word phenomenal is actually better, and implies that Kant did have an understanding of "realness" which was essentially defined by a thing's capacity to affect other things. But that whole conversation then wanders over to the more real side of the phenomenal category, which imposes further restrictions such as dimension onto ALL "real things".

    Technically speaking there is NOTHING that is not real. That is, the thing in itself does exist, but our perception/concept of it is also a thing which exists (which I think Kant was sort of getting at, so I'm not sure why he posited an unreal category in the first place), albeit as a second-order "thing" (this does create a bit of a recursion issue) - but our concepts do not require "real" objects, that is, one CAN have a first-order concept - such as god. Whether or not such a thing as god actually exists, the thing that is our idea of god does not rely on a "realer" thing which actually IS god. It can spring merely from the essential question behind Creationism - here's all this stuff, I wonder if somebody put it there. Now we have a concept of a Somebody who is capable of creating literally everything, completely irrelevant of that somebody's actual existence. Of course it can also come from a story somebody else tells us, which I suppose is a thing in itself - more recursion going here, but at this point Things become like Time in that splitting cause and effect into the smallest possible intervals is more or less impossible with complex systems.

    (As a fairly sporadic dabbler in philosophy texts I am terrible with references. I feel like I lifted a couple of those concepts from a philosopher other than Kant but I can't remember which one - can anyone think of someone it resembles?)
  4.  (5365.88)
    @ Labyrinthine. You seem to be on the same track as me somewhat. I often think that it would suit actual philosophers better to discuss "what is" first and sort that out before reaching into the nebulous ideas of "what might be" and inventing all sorts of concepts or discussing imagined inventions of other philosophers in those terms. Like Noumena, Searle's Qualia also seems to be one of those ideas that is an unquantifiable presumption.

    I'm not trying to dismiss these concepts out of hand simply because I am a hard line materialist, I am not, but I do often think that many of these types of rarified conceptualisations are little more than tricks, which remind me of Crowley's story about the mongoose.


    "There is the story of the American in the train who saw another American carrying a basket of unusual shape. His curiosity mastered him, and he leant across and said: "Say, stranger, what you got in that bag?" The other, lantern-jawed and taciturn, replied: "Mongoose". The first man was rather baffled, as he had never heard of a mongoose. After a pause he pursued, at the risk of a rebuff: "But say, what is a Mongoose?" "Mongoose eats snakes", replied the other. This was another poser, but he pursued: "What in hell do you want a Mongoose for?" "Well, you see", said the second man (in a confidential whisper) "my brother sees snakes". The first man was more puzzled than ever; but after a long think, he continued rather pathetically: "But say, them ain't real snakes". "Sure", said the man with the basket, "but this Mongoose ain't real either".
  5.  (5365.89)
    I am interested in philosphy but this is sort of how my wife sees it. Can´t argue her on it alas...

    The evolution of philosophy
    •  
      CommentAuthorCharlene
    • CommentTimeApr 8th 2009
     (5365.90)
    did any philosopher ever figure out the meaning of life? any ever argue they had worked it out? just wondering...
    •  
      CommentAuthorFinagle
    • CommentTimeApr 18th 2009
     (5365.91)
    Propose new topic: Risk-taking and morality

    Assume that one is in a situation where taking a risk may result in hazard or cost to others and has a possible negative impact on the community as a whole. For instance, take mountain climbing as an example. If there's a dedicated team of mountain rescuers who have to risk themselves to save you if you get stuck. If you take a risk that requires them to also put themselves at risk or incur great expense to rescue you, is that behavior immoral?

    Now take something more general, such as health. If society is subsidizing the cost of your health care, does it then become a moral obligation to remain as healthy as possible? Does that in turn make behaviors such as smoking, drinking, or not eating right immoral because of the potential impact on society?
  6.  (5365.92)
    Only if you have an objective stance where morality is concerned. I'd go further and say that almost every action a human can undertake can potentially result in hazard to others. I'd even go so far to say that actions should be considered only amoral unless willfully committed to cause detriment.

    Really though your question seems to boil down to a simpler one. "Is Selfishness immoral?" and I think most people would say yes (but only others selfishness)
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      CommentAuthorcity creed
    • CommentTimeApr 20th 2009
     (5365.93)
    Does that in turn make behaviors such as smoking, drinking, or not eating right immoral because of the potential impact on society?

    There is a pretty strong argument that smokers are in fact benefiting society. They pay more tax throughout their life, they die younger so end up drawing less of whatever pension they may have accumulated and whatever costs their healthcare might incur are offset by the fact that they are unlikely to need as much in the way of residential care in the late evening of their lives. But it has nothing to do with philosophy. Sorry.

    "Is Selfishness immoral?" and I think most people would say yes (but only others selfishness)

    I actually read that as "Is Selfishness immortal?" first time round, for which I don't think there would be any argument.
    But doesn't this just come back to the idea of enlightened self-interest? If I offer to babysit for some friends, or take their dog for a walk or whatever, I don't expect any actual material reward for it. But it can still be seen as making sense to a selfish person - my rep with my friends goes up so they may be more likely to respond more positively to me in future when I draw on them while they're asleep or somesuch. I buy social credit with an apparently altruistic action. You can say this is a hopelessly cynical way to view human interaction if you like but I reckon it'll still be true.

    Selfishness is surely inherent on some level. Our distant ancestors most likely wouldn't have survived to breed without it. I'm with @Audley that amoral is a better way to think of most human behaviour. I kinda think that part of the reason why government is there is to moderate the effects of selfishness getting out of hand, something they've not been particularly good at of late.

    I've long thought that ppl who go mountain climbing without proper preparation and get into some sort of jam requiring the use of helicopters and search dogs to extricate them are just macho idiots. Selfish, yes, but mainly idiots.
  7.  (5365.94)
    @ Citruscreed.

    I wouldn't say it was cynical at all, I'd say you were optimistic, considering you can't know your friends would consider your actions as something worth reciprocating, in fact they could (I'm not saying they would) see you as a gullible dupe whom is easy to exploit (if they were deeply selfish and cynical). We can never really know peoples personal motivations and what we as individuals assume is some form of "social contract" may not be regarded as such by others. I know a few people who expect everyone they know to take their turn in looking after their brats especially family and close friends and attempt to guilt them into doing so. They could consider that looking after their kids is part of a "social contract" So it is a real minefield of an area.

    Actually with regards to the specific mountain wandering idiots. I'm sure you know Citrus that EVERY fucking year here in Scotland, some dipshit tries to hike up Ben Nevis in January in flip flops, with a tesco bag containing some cheese sandwiches and a spare baseball cap in case it gets cold. I don't think they are actively being selfish, but I do think, after seeing it happen year in year out, there may be a case for deterring them by charging them something for rescue.
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      CommentAuthorcity creed
    • CommentTimeApr 22nd 2009
     (5365.95)
    @Audley Strange:
    they could (I'm not saying they would) see you as a gullible dupe whom is easy to exploit

    those sly bastards, I knew it.

    and yeah, I had those exact Ben Nevis hiking idiots in mind. Charging them for their rescue would seem like a reasonable response to me but then I guess we get into difficulties if they can't pay. Would Search and Rescue have to check their insurance status before they scrambled the whirlybirds? Ick.

    I've been classified before as "a stubborn and compulsive risk-taker" myself but I'd question whether the propensity to take risks is always selfish. There are plenty of risks I could take that would be to the benefit of other people but as I sorta touched on before, providing a benefit to other people could also have a pay-off for me.

    I guess maybe the key here is about who bears the cost of the consequences of risk-taking. If I am the only one to face the music when a gamble fails, how is that selfish? When I do something daft that requires other people to invest time and energy to dig me out then that surely is selfish, even if my intentions were good. Maybe you could say that, owing to the interconnectedness of individuals in any social environment, anything that costs me personally is bound to impact on others due to my decreased ability to contribute to the common good, whether that be through injury, poverty or whatever else.

    Sorry @Stygmata, I don't have the formal background in capital P Philosophy to set these ideas in the context of a broader philosophical debate which I know is what you had intended for this thread, but I enjoy playing with the ideas.
    • CommentAuthorVermilious
    • CommentTimeApr 22nd 2009
     (5365.96)
    I hate to do this in the middle of a great topic, but I've got a quick question of looking for more resources/ideas

    So Hegel proposed that all of history is just the spirit of freedom working itself out using humans as a canvas. I know that to some degree this is an oversimplification, but for the purposes of this idea, it seems to work. He also says, rather vehemently, that we don't have ideas. Ideas have us.

    Has anyone ever considered that Hegel is just teaching memetics?
    Thoughts? Ever seen this idea brought up before?
  8.  (5365.97)
    @Citruscreed. But do you feel morally obligated? Stygmata points out the usual targets in such a discussion, Mountain Climbing, smoking, drinking, diet. However what about Driving? Consider the pollutants. Consider the number of car accidents and injuries to pedestrians, roads and motorways built over green belts. Does that mean that someone who drives a car is immoral? What about children? Consider that most people do not pay enough taxes for their childrens inoculations, various health issues in development, social welfare and schooling let alone the risk that children spread lots of communicable diseases, are morally blank, and can do the most appalling things to others children and do not contribute. Does that mean that having children in immoral? I know people who think YES! But they are sanctimonious and seem to belong to a far fringe of the ecology movement who long for Rousseau's archaic revival and are quite happy to promote the eradication of most of our species, yet don't practice what they preach and seem to me far more immoral when they start talking about "culls".

    (BTW. I'm not accusing Stygmata of this, not at all.)



    @ Vermilious.

    I don't think that's memetics Hegel is promoting but religious mysticism. Frankly Dawkins idea was a nice analogy but like most analogies doesn't bear close scrutiny. The "Ideas have us" thing also seems to me not to bear up to close scrutiny either, since it relies heavily on unquantifiables. Don't get me wrong, I have often thought (in a sci-fi manner) that if the net becomes aware it will download all out intelligences into it and leave a bunch of bewildered naked apes, but what Hegel seems to be getting at is the concept of us being spirit vessels. However at that point we have to start inventing other planes and soon get muddied into a kind of infinite regression. (V.S. Ramachandran's thoughts on mirror neurons are somewhat interesting in this respect)

    Not exactly new, but unless one is a Y.E.C. The facts don't seem to bear it out. Our ideas evolve because we do, because we have complex symbolic language systems in which information can be passed to others. To separate them into pantheism or animist concepts may seem romantic, but for all intents and purposes I'd say, pointless.
    •  
      CommentAuthorcity creed
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2009
     (5365.98)
    @Citruscreed. But do you feel morally obligated?

    in short, no. i may have made an error in my thinking and would be pleased to be corrected but I see it like this (I offer my apologies to the serious thinkers for the unschooled babbling that follows):
    In my, admittedly limited understanding, morality depends on there being some eternal set of rights and wrongs, where some higher power has decided that such and such a behaviour is good (moral) or bad (immoral). I'm afraid that I simply can't accept this. I think that such an arbitrary, one-size-fits-all approach is bound to lead to folly and eventually, madness.
    I'll deploy the most hackneyed example of all and say, is it wrong/immoral/selfish to steal? But what if you have a hungry family to feed, no job and no hope of one, if the society you live in is ordered in such a way as to keep you in constant poverty. Is it still wrong/immoral/selfish to steal? It's certainly selfish, but I wouldn't be able to tell a starving person who others depend on to survive that they're immoral because they nicked some tucker. I don't think that morality is very useful in this context. If it is morally wrong to steal, then is it not always morally wrong to steal? I think morality is an attempt to look at issues from an eternal perspective, and while it may make an interesting thought experiment or a complex abstract problem to be mulled over or even a useful component of a system of social control based in irrational belief, it is fundamentally not useful for non-eternal human beings to go round behaving as though we had access to eternal truths. It makes more sense for me to use what I have been taught to think of as the ethical approach - not is it good or bad but is it a good idea or a bad idea? I don't think this is just semantics, I think it is a crucial difference that informs everything that follows. The first question in this case would be "what if everyone did it?" (right?) or the "times a gazillion factor" as I prefer to call it :P Of course, if everybody stole from each other then society would break down, ethics provides no quick and easy answer to the problem above but for me it has more wiggle room and is more sensitive to human experience than morality. We could say, well sure if everyone stole all the time that would suck, but actually, it's mainly those who have little or no option that we're looking at here, they're not fundamentally wicked people so perhaps the fault lies with the way we have ordered society rather than being a function of these morally deficient ne'er-do-wells. Morality allows us to disengage from practical considerations in favour of what is 'right', an ethical approach encourages us to take responsibility for figuring out what the right response is, given the circumstances. If, that is, there can be said to be such a thing as the right response.
    It's just occurred to me that this looks awfully like an attempt to dodge @Stygmata's question by attacking his premise :P It wasn't meant to be that way!
    Anyhoo, massive derail, sorry. probably enough to say that no, I don't think it's a great idea for everyone to go round taking massive risks all the time. That would have unpredictable consequences and would hardly be a stable basis for human interaction. Both selfishness and risk-taking are however a fundamental feature of the human experience, it doesn't make sense to regard selfish risk-takers as necessarily evil (or even undesirable) people. Please ;)

    Stygmata points out the usual targets in such a discussion, Mountain Climbing, smoking, drinking, diet. However what about Driving? Consider the pollutants. Consider the number of car accidents and injuries to pedestrians, roads and motorways built over green belts. Does that mean that someone who drives a car is immoral?

    Yup, they're all gonna burn in hell, planet-poisoning highly-mobile bastards that they are. but srsly, I think I would find it hard to argue against that; if every single person drove their own car we'd be even more fucked than we already are. People with cars are taking advantage of a temporary combination of a)technology and b)resources which has harmful consequences for everyone. I am aware that this is not a fashionable opinion.

    What about children? Consider that most people do not pay enough taxes for their childrens inoculations, various health issues in development, social welfare and schooling let alone the risk that children spread lots of communicable diseases, are morally blank, and can do the most appalling things to others children and do not contribute. Does that mean that having children in immoral? I know people who think YES!

    Making a sin of the basic biological imperative is a neat way to demonstrate the absurdity of morality I reckon. To ppl who think having kids is immoral I say, "HeelllllooooOOOoooo..."

    post break
    •  
      CommentAuthorcity creed
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2009
     (5365.99)
    cont'd

    But they are sanctimonious and seem to belong to a far fringe of the ecology movement who long for Rousseau's archaic revival and are quite happy to promote the eradication of most of our species, yet don't practice what they preach and seem to me far more immoral when they start talking about "culls".

    this is kind of what I meant, ideology based on morality leads people to these lazy and disgusting conclusions where instead of trying to actually grapple with the reality of the problem they say "God did it and it's broke/human nature is fundamentally flawed... let's just kill everyone and start again." Wow! I'm a total badass amirite?

    Incidentally, I googled Rousseau+archaic+revival to read more about the details and this thread was the top result :P Hi there world! Other than that, I was able to determine that Archaic Revival is the name of a group of Canadian avant garde, classical/electronic post-rockers. Noice. It sounds on the surface like the kind of atavistic longing that informs the work of say, Tolkien, but without knowing more about it I won't accuse them of simply being unwilling to face the reality of the modern world. Yet. I'm going to strap the internet into a chair and chip out its teeth with a small chisel until it tells me what I want to know.
  9.  (5365.100)
    morality depends on there being some eternal set of rights and wrongs, where some higher power has decided that such and such a behaviour is good (moral) or bad (immoral)
    Far too lazy to respond to anything but this. Anyway, that's an awfully limited concept of morality. What you're describing is more specifically a religious conception of morality (though there's some philosophical exceptions). There's endless examples of atheists and agnostics with fully formed systems of morality that have nothing whatsoever to do with the concept of absolute right and absolute wrong, or any sort of higher power that determines what's what on the scale.
    ETA:
    ideology based on morality leads people to these lazy and disgusting conclusions
    Doesn't morality based on ideology happen far far more often?