News:

The default theme for this site has been updated. For further information, please take a look at the announcement regarding HAF changing its default theme.

Main Menu

Moral Nihilism

Started by xSilverPhinx, January 27, 2020, 02:41:49 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

billy rubin

#15
nm


Given that most people struggle with legible handwriting already, the added complexity of cursive is an unnecessary burden. It is more practical and efficient to stick to standard print writing.

Recusant

As I was typing a reply, I see that there's been an edit above. I'll carry on and post what I wrote (basically attempting to provide a definition of morality), then will consider any new material.

No theists presenting their position here, so I'll put the god hypothesis aside. With that in mind, I think it can be said that all ethical systems known to humanity are human creations. Morality is a set of variable principles and guidelines that color and to some extent govern the interactions of our species.

Considering the question of existence, I think that we exist most significantly as a species, just as any other organism does. By that I mean, individual members of the species are evanescent manifestations. They can affect the course of the species' existence, but the existence of the species as a whole doesn't depend on any individual. Rather, the individual's existence depends on that of the species.

I think it's realistic to describe Homo sapiens as a conscious social species. As such, we describe and understand interactions between individuals and groups on a level we call morality. Some actions are "worthy," "proper," or "good" while others are not. This seems integral to the functioning of the species. Certainly, moral values vary widely over the planet and over time, but where there are human beings, there are moral values. In our species this understanding overlays (and to some extent has supplanted) instinct, which governs most other species. Just as instinct is a real thing, so is morality.

I would also say that each individual person operates within society in accordance with ethical principles. In some cases there's a single principle that the only genuine moral good is gratification of the individual's personal needs and desires. Such a single-minded person might not acknowledge the existence of any moral principles, but their actions take place in a moral context, given that is how the species works.
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


billy rubin

#17
the post i deleted was just distracting from the interesting stuff.

let me make sure i understand, recusant. i think you're asserting that human societies are shaped by evolution for sociality, and also exhibit modifications due to individual variation. and that the result is what we call morality, which in the end is defined a posteriori as being whatever behavioural mores a society exhibits.

if that is true, then the society that gassed the jews in auschwitz has as justifiable a moral underpinning as the society which today repudiates it. not meaning to choose a callous example, but the anniversary of its liberation has brought it to mind. then the decision today as to what constitutes moral or immoral behaviour would appear to be based strictly on whether the behavior departs from currently and locally accepted standards.

this has implications for whether it is right or wrong to impose behaviors on other societies. if that's what morals are, and no more, then there would appear to be no right or reason to interfere in foreign genocides or social oppression, since those things are demonstrably moral there by virtue of being accepted practice. yet we do that all the time, citing moral imperatives.

how would your definition address that question?

by the way, i wouldn't say that morality "overlays" instinctive human behavior. i think most all of our intraspecific relationships are behaviorally identical to those we describe as "instinctive" in other organisms. we just dress up our own instincts in an intellectual roccoco that we don't grant other animals.


Given that most people struggle with legible handwriting already, the added complexity of cursive is an unnecessary burden. It is more practical and efficient to stick to standard print writing.

Siz

#18
Quote from: Recusant on January 28, 2020, 05:51:06 PM
As I was typing a reply, I see that there's been an edit above. I'll carry on and post what I wrote (basically attempting to provide a definition of morality), then will consider any new material.

No theists presenting their position here, so I'll put the god hypothesis aside. With that in mind, I think it can be said that all ethical systems known to humanity are human creations. Morality is a set of variable principles and guidelines that color and to some extent govern the interactions of our species.

Considering the question of existence, I think that we exist most significantly as a species, just as any other organism does. By that I mean, individual members of the species are evanescent manifestations. They can affect the course of the species' existence, but the existence of the species as a whole doesn't depend on any individual. Rather, the individual's existence depends on that of the species.

I think it's realistic to describe Homo sapiens as a conscious social species. As such, we describe and understand interactions between individuals and groups on a level we call morality. Some actions are "worthy," "proper," or "good" while others are not. This seems integral to the functioning of the species. Certainly, moral values vary widely over the planet and over time, but where there are human beings, there are moral values. In our species this understanding overlays (and to some extent has supplanted) instinct, which governs most other species. Just as instinct is a real thing, so is morality.

I would also say that each individual person operates within society in accordance with ethical principles. In some cases there's a single principle that the only genuine moral good is gratification of the individual's personal needs and desires. Such a single-minded person might not acknowledge the existence of any moral principles, but their actions take place in a moral context, given that is how the species works.
I can't disagree with any of that.
However, all of the above refers only to the practical functioning of an evolving society - still a work in progress. Contemporarily valid and pragmatic as that is, looking beyond our flawed, animal programming, it is the understanding and practical acceptance of universal truths that will help humanity - as individuals and collectively. Discarding the notion of an unassailable set of arbitrary, fluid and subjective codes* is a worthy, proper and good endeavour. And it is to that end that I plead amorality.
(*oxymoron intended - that's morality! )

When one sleeps on the floor one need not worry about falling out of bed - Anton LaVey

The universe is a cold, uncaring void. The key to happiness isn't a search for meaning, it's to just keep yourself busy with unimportant nonsense, and eventually you'll be dead!

Magdalena

Quote from: billy rubin on January 28, 2020, 06:55:47 PM
the post i deleted was just distracting from the interesting stuff.
...



:grin:

"I've had several "spiritual" or numinous experiences over the years, but never felt that they were the product of anything but the workings of my own mind in reaction to the universe." ~Recusant

Bad Penny II

Quote from: Magdalena on January 29, 2020, 04:20:52 AM
Quote from: billy rubin on January 28, 2020, 06:55:47 PM
the post i deleted was just distracting from the interesting stuff.
...



:grin:

"Distract me. Please"





Those donkeys are cute, I say they are and so does Google as do all right thinking people.
Have donkeys judged by some to be cute got anything to do with nihilism?
Of course they do, nihilists hate cute donkeys.
Nihilists shouldn't hate anything.
Yet they do.
Take my advice, don't listen to me.

Siz

Quote from: Bad Penny II on January 29, 2020, 10:48:51 AM
Those donkeys are cute, I say they are and so does Google as do all right thinking people.
Have donkeys judged by some to be cute got anything to do with nihilism?
Of course they do, nihilists hate cute donkeys.
Nihilists shouldn't hate anything.
Yet they do.
We're all only human!

When one sleeps on the floor one need not worry about falling out of bed - Anton LaVey

The universe is a cold, uncaring void. The key to happiness isn't a search for meaning, it's to just keep yourself busy with unimportant nonsense, and eventually you'll be dead!

billy rubin

you think donkeys are cute? maybe they are when they're young, but as they age they turn into . . .

barnyard nihilists!



^^^this is dude, an ethical nihilist. he's not a cute baby equine any more. dude is around 25 years old, and he doesn't take kindly to people projecting that his morals have some hoity-toity underlying foundation of truth and meaning. dude knows that what is important is much simpler: eating, and shitting.

eating and shitting is all that dude does. i tried to ride him once when i had too much to drink, to see whether he had a purpose, and he planted a horseshoe-shaped bruise in the middle of my chest to signify his unwillingness to participate in a life with meaning. although he is supposedly broke to both riding and driving, he prefers to spend his time eating and shitting. and cooperating grudgingly for the camera. and sometimes running out his 18-inch pecker to amuse the occasional strangers driving by his fence.



dude is king in his own barnyard. he hates dogs and coyotes, and doesn't like baby goats jumping on him when he's trying to sleep. because he considers kindness meaningless, he occasionally loses his temper and chases after the baby goats, which they enjoy until he catches them.



among the other barnyard nihilists he tolerates is susan, who is queen of the goats



and her daughter THX



both susan and THX are existential nihilists, and see no meaning in the barnyard beyond hay, water, and occasional debates about whether they would be better off trying to figure out david hume. in the end they conclude that it doesn't matter anyway, and eat more hay.

although both susan and THX don't believe that their lives have meaning, they do observe a system of good and evil to exist in the world, and question whether their lives would be philosophically more coherent if they lived on the other side of the barnyard fence. so when i bring them all hay in the evening and open the gate, susan and THX burst out to the road, exulting in the symbolic triumph of discovering a purpose in life other than the repetitive cycle of just eating and shitting that they share with dude.  once they are on the outside of the gate, they discover that the hay i just brought is now on the inside, and dude is eating their share. once clamoring for lives of freedom and purpose, they soon begin clamoring for penal meaninglessness again, having discovered that a life with meaning but no dinner is inferior to one with dinner and no meaning. like sisyphus, they turn once again to their purposeless lives, ones of empty philosophical debates, dinner, and futile and repetitive plots to escape. perhaps someday someone will drive by as they burst into the road and they will be able to answer the most important nihilist  question of all, which is whether suicide is preferable to dinner.

and all the while the turkeys look on, and judge.







Given that most people struggle with legible handwriting already, the added complexity of cursive is an unnecessary burden. It is more practical and efficient to stick to standard print writing.

Magdalena

Bad Penny II and billy rubin...Donkeys and barnyard nihilists!


:lol:

"I've had several "spiritual" or numinous experiences over the years, but never felt that they were the product of anything but the workings of my own mind in reaction to the universe." ~Recusant

Siz


When one sleeps on the floor one need not worry about falling out of bed - Anton LaVey

The universe is a cold, uncaring void. The key to happiness isn't a search for meaning, it's to just keep yourself busy with unimportant nonsense, and eventually you'll be dead!

Recusant

Quote from: billy rubin on January 28, 2020, 06:55:47 PM
the post i deleted was just distracting from the interesting stuff.

let me make sure i understand, recusant. i think you're asserting that human societies are shaped by evolution for sociality, and also exhibit modifications due to individual variation. and that the result is what we call morality, which in the end is defined a posteriori as being whatever behavioural mores a society exhibits.

if that is true, then the society that gassed the jews in auschwitz has as justifiable a moral underpinning as the society which today repudiates it. not meaning to choose a callous example, but the anniversary of its liberation has brought it to mind. then the decision today as to what constitutes moral or immoral behaviour would appear to be based strictly on whether the behavior departs from currently and locally accepted standards.

this has implications for whether it is right or wrong to impose behaviors on other societies. if that's what morals are, and no more, then there would appear to be no right or reason to interfere in foreign genocides or social oppression, since those things are demonstrably moral there by virtue of being accepted practice. yet we do that all the time, citing moral imperatives.

how would your definition address that question?

by the way, i wouldn't say that morality "overlays" instinctive human behavior. i think most all of our intraspecific relationships are behaviorally identical to those we describe as "instinctive" in other organisms. we just dress up our own instincts in an intellectual roccoco that we don't grant other animals.

Is there any reasonable basis for morality at all? Is it merely whim and happenstance?

Given the foundation I attempted to construct above, I think that morality can reasonably be based on the well-being of the species and the ecosystem upon which it depends. In our species systems of morality serve at least part of the function taken by instincts in most other species. I'd say that instinct's overall purpose in other species is improving chances of survival of the species. (I say "most other species" because there are indications that other intelligent social species may have rudimentary forms of morality.)

I would acknowledge that reasoning from well-being of the species and ecosystem to narrow moral questions is not straight-forward. However, I think that it makes sense to work in the other direction: Is any given moral precept likely to promote well-being of the species?

In your example of genocidal fascists, their local moral system did indeed view the mass slaughter of groups that the fascists have deemed harmful as a moral good. The rest of humanity disagreed. The fascists may say that they think they're promoting well-being of the species with their actions, but there is no scientific basis and no rational basis for the prejudices upon which they make that judgement.

On the other hand, an attempt to exterminate a group of people merely because of their bloodline could in fact be harmful to the species. Diversity in a species is an important element in the toolbox the species can make use of to promote its survival. Secondly, in intelligent social species, I'd say that mental health is an important part of the continued survival of the species. I think a species that believes that it's a moral good to kill each other en masse because of irrational prejudices is not mentally healthy. If such a belief were to rule the day unopposed, I think the species may not have much of a future. In this light, opposing those who promote that belief appears to be a reasonable thing to do.
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


billy rubin

#26
Quote from: Recusant on January 29, 2020, 09:13:38 PM

Is there any reasonable basis for morality at all? Is it merely whim and happenstance?

i think ^^^this sums it all up. in my opinion, the answer to the question is proximataly tbat morality is whim, religion, or evolution, and ultimately that we are all  just making shit up. there is no basis for any moral system that is more reasonable than for any other. i say this because i can find no independent scale of values that could be used to judge one system against another, and so all are equally valid or invalid. to judge one system as morereasonable than another, or more real, or more valid, and so on, requires that i first establish what i am going to call "reasonable," or "valid," or good," and assert that my scale is " better "than others. the result is inevitably that morality is no mo9re than what  i say it is, today, and maybe something else tomorrow.

Quote
Given the foundation I attempted to construct above, I think that morality can reasonably be based on the well-being of the species and the ecosystem upon which it depends. In our species systems of morality serve at least part of the function taken by instincts in most other species. I'd say that instinct's overall purpose in other species is improving chances of survival of the species. (I say "most other species" because there are indications that other intelligent social species may have rudimentary forms of morality.)

I would acknowledge that reasoning from well-being of the species and ecosystem to narrow moral questions is not straight-forward. However, I think that it makes sense to work in the other direction: Is any given moral precept likely to promote well-being of the species?

In your example of genocidal fascists, their local moral system did indeed view the mass slaughter of groups that the fascists have deemed harmful as a moral good. The rest of humanity disagreed. The fascists may say that they think they're promoting well-being of the species with their actions, but there is no scientific basis and no rational basis for the prejudices upon which they make that judgement.

On the other hand, an attempt to exterminate a group of people merely because of their bloodline could in fact be harmful to the species. Diversity in a species is an important element in the toolbox the species can make use of to promote its survival. Secondly, in intelligent social species, I'd say that mental health is an important part of the continued survival of the species. I think a species that believes that it's a moral good to kill each other en masse because of irrational prejudices is not mentally healthy. If such a belief were to rule the day unopposed, I think the species may not have much of a future. In this light, opposing those who promote that belief appears to be a reasonable thing to do.

sure. all this makes perfect sense, after one decides that " the continued survival of the species" is the good that the moral system is intended to maximize. and i think that many moral systems aredesigned to do just that. social evolution created it, kin selection refines it, religious and legal systems are set in place to enforce it, and most all of us accept it as axiomatic, unquestionably. after all, anything that enhances our survivability is going to be favored by natural selection.

i think any moral queztion can be reduced to adaptive fitness, either directly or as a rezult of linkage wuth zomething else that doez increase fitness.

but if i decide that morality must be based on survival of a planetary ecosystem, rather than the continued survival of my own species, then the greatest moral act i could perform might be the extinction of the human race. after all, human beings are not good for a balanced, self-sustaining natural ecology. and so on.


Given that most people struggle with legible handwriting already, the added complexity of cursive is an unnecessary burden. It is more practical and efficient to stick to standard print writing.

xSilverPhinx

Quote from: Siz on January 27, 2020, 03:26:11 PM
1. I live under the assumption that what I perceive (sense) IS reality. That is pragmatism stripped to it's most naked state!
2. There is no objective meaning within or for existence within a multi-/uni-versal context.
3. "Morality" and "existential meaning/purpose" are human/animal abstracts informed by organic firmware and social software.
4. I am limited by my human/animal programming.

:chin:

In the case of your first premise would you say that when you perceive (external stimuli translating to subjective experience) someone doing something you feel is the right thing to do in a certain situation then such 'moral action' is real? If yes, then what are the implications for moral nihilism?
I am what survives if it's slain - Zack Hemsey


Siz

#28
Quote from: xSilverPhinx on January 30, 2020, 12:13:01 PM
Quote from: Siz on January 27, 2020, 03:26:11 PM
1. I live under the assumption that what I perceive (sense) IS reality. That is pragmatism stripped to it's most naked state!
2. There is no objective meaning within or for existence within a multi-/uni-versal context.
3. "Morality" and "existential meaning/purpose" are human/animal abstracts informed by organic firmware and social software.
4. I am limited by my human/animal programming.

:chin:

In the case of your first premise would you say that when you perceive (external stimuli translating to subjective experience) someone doing something you feel is the right thing to do in a certain situation then such 'moral action' is real? If yes, then what are the implications for moral nihilism?
The action isn't moral. I might subjectively agree or disagree. I might diasgree on a primary, immediate personal level, but accept the validity of the action in light of secondary or tertiary implications with which I do agree/accept.

I percieve the notion of morality to be unacceptable (where morality is considered inherrent). However good or bad I judge an action, my subjective experience does not preclude a belief that there are better modes of existence (both personally and as a species). I do not appreciate being the subject of the prejudice associated with another's opinions where they assume those opinions to bare the weight of some higher authority (predominantly objective morality or god). I recognise the need for social cohesion, which requires a fair code of behaviour. The Golden Rule is the fairest code there can be (notwithstanding it's own contentions). I simply seek to make The Golden Rule understood to be the authority, instead of a presumed autocratic higher authority which trumps subjective opinion by default. The new, preferred Golden Rule World Order then becomes my reality.

Contrary to Recusant's theist-like comparison, surely it is the moralist whose codes of conduct exist in some exalted realm?!

I do not assume a superior position as an amoralist - there is no superior. But there is equity, parity and fairness.

Or, I can do WTF I choose as it suits and risk exclusion or penalties.

When one sleeps on the floor one need not worry about falling out of bed - Anton LaVey

The universe is a cold, uncaring void. The key to happiness isn't a search for meaning, it's to just keep yourself busy with unimportant nonsense, and eventually you'll be dead!

Bad Penny II

Quote from: billy rubin on January 29, 2020, 10:17:17 PM
Quote from: Recusant on January 29, 2020, 09:13:38 PM

Is there any reasonable basis for morality at all? Is it merely whim and happenstance?

i think ^^^this sums it all up. in my opinion, the answer to the question is no. there is no basis for any moral system that is more reasonable than for any other. 

Yes there is, I want a moral system that serves my interests, that's quite reasonable I think.
No eating your neighbour's children.
It takes a lot of effort to raise a child and there isn't much meat on the neighbour's kids anyway.

   
Quote from: billy rubin on January 29, 2020, 10:17:17 PMi say this because i can find no external scale of values that could be used to judge one system against another, and so all are equally valid or invalid.
I couldn't give flying fork about external scales of value, I want a system that best serves me.
Here in 2020 I have a view of many past societies that I am external to and I pass judgement on them as is my right as being external to them, apparently.  So I think I'll apply these judgements to my now.

     
Quote from: billy rubin on January 29, 2020, 10:17:17 PMto judge one system as morereasonable than another, or more real, or more valid, and so on, requires that you first establish what you are going to call "good," and assert that your "good" is better than other "goods."

No, fk "good" I want what was serves me and it's reasonable to expect compromise will be necessary.

Quote from: billy rubin on January 29, 2020, 10:17:17 PM
morality is a sticky subject, and in my opinion no system is more meaningful than any other. some are more useful, once one decides what "useful" means, and some are more congenial to whatever animal drives we might indulge. but whether any one has a fundamental reality that others lack is something iwould deny, based on my lack of belief in abstract "good" or "evil."

Wait wait wait, I never put meaningful in my cart, useful yes, NO! I didn't put no fundamental reality in, what the fk is that anyway?
Take my advice, don't listen to me.