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Re: No subject
Jan 2, 2007, 14:40
60.
Re: No subject Jan 2, 2007, 14:40
Jan 2, 2007, 14:40
 
Entirely true, yes. I'm not sure that answers the question, however.

Again, I had reached the point in the day where I didn't have the energy to do a full response. What you've quoted is about half of what I was thinking of, but to be honest I'm happy to leave it where it is.

a logical argument does not equal proof.

Yes, but morals supported by logical argument are, in my opinion, inherently superior to morals supported ex cathedra, or supported by logical fallacy. Consider Commmunism for example, Marx and Engels tried to demonstrate that Capitalism was built upon contradictions, such as a Social Means of Production but a Adversarial Means of Exchange. Their belief was that if you could eliminate contradictions that existed in the system, you could have a more perfect system. They of course didn't anticipate some of the contradictions that exist in Communism, but I think the idea of trying to remove contradictions from the principles that organize your life and society is entirely sound.

Despite the fact I can make a very logical argument about charity, there is no reason to conclude that someone can't make an equally logical argument to the contrary

We would need to explore examples of this, but the most likely reason why you'd have two contradictory arguments is that there is a fallacy at work in one or both of them. It is very, very rare that you can get two contradictory statements that are logically sound, and even then finding a new line of argumentation will almost always resolve the contradiction.

Indeed, I think your example with Socrates demonstrates that very nicely.

Well that would be the danger of posting an excerpt without giving proper context. A Father (whose name escapes me) has a son who is 12 or so, and he wants to ensure that his son can be educated in virtue. There is a man in Athens teaching weapons training, and the Father wonders if such training might help his son to be brave, something that almost all Greeks agreed was virtuous. Bravery was important to the Greeks because their were no professional armies (except in Sparta, but everything was different there) and warfare was endemic. Every male citizen of a polis would see battle as an amateur soldier and half of all men that survived infancy would die in battle before the age of 30. Most casualties in ancient warfare happened not when opposing phalanxes clashed together, but when a line broke and routed. Hence, why bravery was agreed to be important by the Greeks and why this Father wants his son to have it. He therefore turns to two Athenian generals, Liches and Nicias, to ask their opinion of whether or not weapons training would help his son be brave. Liches and Nicias disagree with each other, but Socrates happens to be walking by so they pull him into the discussion to help resolve the disagreement. Socrates argues that in order to give advice on something you really need to be an expert on the subject. For example, when you need advice on your health you would be a fool not to turn to a doctor. Likewise, if the father wants advice on bravery he needs to ensure that Nicias and Liches are experts on bravery. As such, Socrates begins to examine what they know of bravery, and in the case of Liches not much. Later in the dialogue, Nicias offers a definition but it too is shown to be inadequate. The dialogue then ends at an impasse.

The point of this is that Socrates does not believe that bravery itself is bad (his and everyone else's intuition suggests it is a fine and noble thing) but that certain conceptions of bravery are bad, such as Liches. If one were to live by Liches' definition of bravery then one would often find oneself in situations where one is living by Liches's definition of bravery but one is doing something that is intuitively not brave. Socrates wants to find a more precise, and more conceptually sound definition of bravery. Plato's intent with the dialogue as philosophical instruction is to get the reader to examine his or her (although in classical times only men) own concept of bravery and only accept it if it is without contradiction. In the likely event that it is contradictory, then one should try to formulate a more precise, more true definition, or at least one that has fewer contradictions. In other words, morals can be objectively ranked by the degree to which they are self-contradictory. What this means is that almost all of morality is a sham, and we shouldn't be afraid to label it as such. That does not mean that all morality is EQUALLY a sham, but that some morals will have more conceptual problems then others and we should accept and reject them accordingly. Ideally, through philosophy, we can arrive at a conceptually sound moral but in all likelihood we will have to reluctantly settle for sound-ER morals that have the fewest conceptual problems. However we can still continue to philosophize and try to workout the truth of what the sound, REAL moral will be.

Was the universe created with morality already in place?

Morality is almost certainly a human invention. The universe itself is too unconcerned with the happiness of life for it to moral. That said, that does not mean a human invention cannot achieve objective, conceptual purity. A liberal education afterall is designed to free you from the constraints of your culture and identity, to view the world anew. All subjectivity cannot be erased, we are invariably attracted to certain opinions by our own biases, but education can help us to recognize those biases and act accordingly. I am of course making the assumption that logic is not a subjective enterprise, that it is an objective cure to our subjective selves. That may be a flawed assumption, but at the very least logic is able to make us as objective as is possible. I suspect, although this is pure subjective intuition on my part, that as we work out more and more of logic we will eventually reach a point where pure objectivity will be possible. If such a thing is possible, we can truly have objective, conceptual purity.

All that said, I'm willing to hold out the possibility that at some dimension there exists the conceptually pure forms from which our universe derives. I forget the exact break down of what degree of potentiality dwells at which dimension, although I do recall that all potentiality, infinity is a single coordinate on a plane of the tenth dimension. If human existence, and therefore morality, is a potentiality, which it clearly is given our existence, then at one of the higher dimensions there will exist the form of all human potentiality. It is possible that at some level you have the form of potentiality of certain human creations, such as morals. That form could be conceptual purity, that somehow the synthesis of all potentiality of bravery, for example, would be the form of bravery in it's conceptually pure state. This is of course all metaphysics and is more a thought experiment then something that we can prove, but if a metaphysician were to work out such a claim it could be a potentially true possibility. Again, just something to think about.

Oh a quick sidenote, Plato believed that there were objective, conceptually pure forms existing in a metaphysical realm beyond ours. These forms were what were really real, and our physical universe is only the temporal imitation of these eternal, pure forms. For him, the intelligible was more real than the physical, and philosophy existed to try to gain a brief glimpse at those intelligible forms.

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