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Post 280

Tuesday, October 11, 2005 - 9:53amSanction this postReply
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Going back over some of the posts on this thread, I came across this one, which I had missed. Daniel Barnes is responding to Andrew, who wrote:

"I have a friend who insists on this approach, so I put the question to him this way, 'If someone were to rape your girlfriend, would that act be totally evil, or would there be some small tinge of good in it? And when you and she make love, is it ever totally good?' Even with the controversy put in such stark, personal terms, he insisted that it's never black-and-white, just a muddled mixture of different shades of grey. Now that's an example of cultism."

Daniel then cites Laj's response:

"2. 'Totally good'? 'Totally evil'? Please, let me know what the word 'totally' adds." To which Daniel added:

"Yes, as a problem it is nothing but a silly word-game. It's not even an example of "cultism". Why Andrew, who is clearly *not* stupid, thinks it is an impressive question I can't say. Perhaps he needs some smarter friends to debate with."

Boy, I would have thought it obvious what Andrew meant by "totally good" and "totally evil." Nor is the question that he poses "nothing but a silly word-game," as Daniel alleges; it is highly relevant, for such evasive, "non-judgmental" attitudes do exist and are themselves a form of cultism. The fact that Laj and Daniel don't seem to recognize or to understand this is bewildering. My only explanation, after several exchanges with both of them, is that it stems from their antipathy towards Objectivism. In Laj's case, this may be a reaction to the dogmatism of the ARI supporters he's been involved with. Peikoff once said that Objectivists who try to ram the philosophy down their childrens' throats run the risk of creating anti-Objectivist rebels. Or, it could simply be that he and Daniel disliked her philosophy from the very start. Rand tends to inspire strong emotions either for her or against her. Very few people, if they understand what she is saying, remain neutral or indifferent.

- Bill



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Post 281

Tuesday, October 11, 2005 - 11:08amSanction this postReply
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What happened in that "totally" exchange was conflating evil in the moral sense with good in a practical sense. Totally bad means there is no room for any good, but "bad" was not the word used. Good and bad is not good and evil. Totally evil means there is no moral justification for the act, period. No moral good can come from it. "Good" simply has two meanings here--you must choose which one you are talking about and make that clear. Unfortunately, this clarity comes rather late.

--Brant




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Post 282

Tuesday, October 11, 2005 - 12:22pmSanction this postReply
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Brant,

Such clarity always came late.

But, if such clarity were actually discussed, I am sure that the nature of good and evil in moral terms would be split into so many overlapping categories and contexts that if you could not outright deny the existence of both, you could not prove it either, but maybe you could prove it under certain criteria, but that would be of little value as it would prove nothing.

//;-)

Michael




Post 283

Tuesday, October 11, 2005 - 1:24pmSanction this postReply
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Heh, Michael, I had great fun reading your doppelganger-style post above.

Bill, thanks for the support.




Post 284

Tuesday, October 11, 2005 - 2:04pmSanction this postReply
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Michael: Is that Beyond Good and Evil or Before or at The Same Time or are we in danger of being diverted into non-absolutism by your desire to do more laps in this swimming pool? I bonked you, but now I have to figure it out.

--Brant




Post 285

Tuesday, October 11, 2005 - 2:45pmSanction this postReply
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Bill - see my Daily Linz: Slime on SOLO.



Post 286

Monday, October 17, 2005 - 7:20pmSanction this postReply
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     Actually, adding the term 'totally' to any discussion on good/evil does add something; unfortunately, it's not something...good...usually.

     It adds an implicitly different framework/perspective which is anathema to moral-absolutists (religious or secular, O'ists or non)::: -> greyness.

     If the subject discussed is a single action, then the argument shifts to either "You don't mean in ALL cases, do you? I mean, what about...X?" or to "Well, there is the 'unintended-consequences' problem, right? There CAN  be a 'silver lining' resulting from Mengele's work, correct?"

     If the subject is a single person, then the argument looks at 'evil-bad/good' in terms of all past actions of the person, and considers them all weighable for some kind of 'net' moral-worth. To be accurate: each past (known) action is looked at as a discrete item to be morally weighed (all may have the same worth, or, some may be weighted more than others depending on the arguer), and the total presumably shows where the moral balance falls. There is no reference therein to principles, fundamentals, habits, or any of that ilk. Also, such balance may totally change with the next discrete action. Ergo, all people are a 'mix,' and none are 'fundamentally' evil/bad, or, good.

     How 'grey' can one (purposefully?) get?
     This is what adding the term 'totally' does to morality-discussions...usually.

     A caveat on the above: 'totally' CAN be relevent in some morality-discussions, IF one is not talking in the framework of fundamental. Consider: "Is it wrong to kill?" Sometimes yes, sometimes no; ergo, it's not 'totally' wrong (nor, 'totally' right). It...depends; ergo, it is not a fundamental subject. Such territory however, is not when an arguer usually brings in the term 'totally.' It's when one's talking about a person's worth (such as Hitler) or certain action/decision habit-behaviour patterns which have consequences, that the term gets brought in.

     An aside: there is something to discuss re the use of the term 'bad' vs 'evil' as each being opposed to 'good,' but, methinks that should be a separate thread. I do see the worth of both contradictories (hmmmm...contraries?) of good...for different perspectives in morality-discussions, but, as I said...another thread.

LLAP
J:D




Post 287

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 - 8:12amSanction this postReply
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In the General forum topic  "25 Words or Less", William A. Nevin III made this point:

3.) The description of Objectivism itself (rather than some particular group of people who happen to call themselves Objectivists) as a "cult" is also false and insulting. Considering the court rulings in the US that deny 1st Amendment protections to groups the government describes as cults, this is a dangerous characterization. I don't think an Objectivist is even morally obligated to mention to someone unfamiliar with the philosophy that there are people calling themselves Objectivists who exhibit cult-like behavior. To attribute it to the belief system itself when writing to someone who knows nothing else of its content is really wrong.

"Considering the court rulings in the US that deny 1st Amendment protections to groups the government describes as cults, this is a dangerous characterization."

So, what is really at stake here is that some people who claim to be willing to die for freedom blah blah blah --- oh, I  am sorry; I got that wrong: they are willing to see others die for freedom ---  are afraid that they will lose their First Amendment Rights if the government discovers that they are members of a cult. 

1.  The First Amendment is on pretty shaky ground if that is true.
2.  Consequential actions seem demanded if you care about what kind of nation you live in.




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