Morality and Reality

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jeeprs
 
Reply Thu 18 Jun, 2009 05:40 am
I notice that there is a popular opinion that 'we don't need God [or 'the Church' or 'the Bible' etc etc]' for morality and that we are quite capable of moral conduct in our own right.

Question: what is the relationship, in this view, between 'morality' and 'reality'? ('Morality' being 'how we should behave' and 'reality' being, 'the sun comes up in the morning' etc).

It would seem to me that in the olden days there was a contract (then known as a 'covenant') between 'God' (i.e. 'Maker of all that is') and Man (i.e. you and me) viz-a -viz how we should behave, what we should do, and so on. And that, furthermore, what we did, how we behaved, etc, had consequences 'unto all eternity' (or words to that effect). In other words, we had a REAL CONNECTION with reality, in that what we did mattered in the great scheme of things.

Whereas, now, the question of how we should behave seems more like a matter of contract law, in that, now the connection between 'maker of all that is' and 'us', is deemed to be null and void, then there is no real, compelling reason IN REALITY why any of us should do anything, other than behave like decent citizens and not rip each other off and kill each other. In other words, our obligation is no longer to the Maker of All that Is, but only to each other, and only for items that can be itemised under common law.

The question remains, however, what we should do in the privacy of our own home, when there is no social obligation, no property rights or social duties at stake. I suppose the question is: if I have discharged my duties as a conscientious citizen, not ripped anyone off, paid my taxes, reduced my carbon footprint, and so on, then there seems no other purpose towards which I might aspire. There is nothing in reality ennobling or inherently worthwhile in my moral betterment, or even in my being, for that matter, beyond this point. We gaze out upon those starry skies and are supposed, by our secular brethren, to take comfort in the fact that it is all enacted with no particular purpose, that we are each the captains of our soul, with no especial destination, it would seem, other than a satisfactory balance of funds in our super account, or that we have advanced the cause of science, and perhaps the solace of knowing that kind words will be spoken at our funeral.

Hence my question. Is there any relationship between morality and reality?
 
hue-man
 
Reply Thu 18 Jun, 2009 01:51 pm
@jeeprs,
I believe that human beings ultimately define our own purpose. The purpose of conducting ourselves morally is not only for its social utility, but also for its personal utility. The purpose of morality is to achieve the good in life (eudaimonia), and avoid pain and suffering. There are two extremes of this purpose. One extreme is asceticism and the other extreme is hedonism. I believe that Aristotle's golden mean, the ethic of the moderation of natural appetites, is the best way to achieve goodness and happiness.

There is no relationship between morality and reality. Moral statements, like whether something is good or bad, do not represent objective facts about nature, they represent subjective sentiments and perspectives of perception. Perceptions of goodness and badness will exist with or without the idea of God, and so the utility of morality is not undermined by the death of God or moral realism.
 
richrf
 
Reply Thu 18 Jun, 2009 03:39 pm
@hue-man,
Hi there,

There are so many ideas in your post to discuss, it is tough to know where to begin.

Let me attempt to keep it short by saying this:

Despite the fact that life may seem absurd (Camus), most people, but not all, seem to have a desire to keep living. This drive, from where ever it may come from (a different discussion), pushes us to form relationships with people. Through relationships we share information (knowledge), protect each other, support each other, etc. So, maintaining relationships is a big thing. Babies learn this early on when they cry for milk. Smile

The way we create and maintain relationships, is what might be called ethics and morality. I for one do not believe there is one set strategy. Coming together under one roof as a group to pray and agree on certain tenets is certainly one way to do it. But there are others. Each individual sort of figures it out for himself/herself. Some may be more successful than others. Smile

Rich
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Thu 18 Jun, 2009 06:33 pm
@jeeprs,
Quote:
There is no relationship between morality and reality


Boy that's a big statement. I will come back to it.


So - no such thing as karma, then?
 
Yogi DMT
 
Reply Thu 18 Jun, 2009 06:48 pm
@jeeprs,
I think i understand your question, morality in it self seems like something that's is all together real. Morals are made up in our minds and commonly understood by most people. Reality includes anything that is real and definite. There is some room for interpretation when establishing morals. I think that ethics by itself does not require an unrealistic higher being such as religion. Morals are not reality in essence but are reality within our minds. Reality conflicts with a huge section of some religions but agrees with a ethical point of view. The difference between the two seems to be that one cannot include the another in a literal sense but possibly in a theoretical sense.
 
The Start Online
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 10:23 pm
@jeeprs,
Hello

We all have a different outlook on the relationship between morality and reality. Probably even the theists believe in different ways. In my opinion, morality has almoust nothing to do with emotions and/or happy life. Also, I would say I agree with Yogi's statement: "Morals are not reality in essence but are reality within our minds."

jeeprs;70056 wrote:
In other words, our obligation is no longer to the Maker of All that Is, but only to each other, and only for items that can be itemised under common law.


I wonder if I undestood your question. I think this is true when we are talking about altruistic ethics, not egoistic or deontological ethics, but I'm not so sure about the latter. Why should an egoist feel and see any responsibility towards others or common law? (Or is it even possible that egoistic ethics could have relationship between reality and morality?) Egoist tries always to get the best utility for itself, whether he was among people or not. He has no problem, how he should act in different (social) situations. Egoists have no primary social obligations.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 11:16 pm
@jeeprs,
Well what I am saying is that in a 'religious' society, such as Western society once was, there was a consensus about the basis of morality, which was a covenant, as I said elsewhere, between 'God as creator of universe' and human society. This covered all moral and ethical questions, including your fate in the afterlife - whether this belief was true or false. One felt that one was beholden to God, who saw and knew everything you did. These were things that 'everyone knew' - hence the idea of 'social fabric', I suppose.

So in the absence of this common understanding, in a 'secular' society, what then is the basis of morality, really? I think, to all intents and purposes, it amounts to property rights and other things definable in common law, and to not harming anyone or being violent.

But the question remains - in traditional society there is a fundamental link between morality, the creation story (why we are here), and our ultimate destiny - in other words, between morality and reality.


To which the secular, or at least the anti-religious, answer is, welll we just evolved, for no particular purpose, as a result of natural processes, into an uncaring universe, and we live out our lives, and create our own individual purposes, and then we die. This is very close to the existentialist attitude to life - Camus and Sartre. In this context, morality is a matter of individual and social consensus; it has no basis 'in nature' or 'in reality'.

And I am questioning that.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Mon 22 Jun, 2009 12:03 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;70976 wrote:
Well what I am saying is that in a 'religious' society, such as Western society once was, there was a consensus about the basis of morality, which was a covenant, as I said elsewhere, between 'God as creator of universe' and human society. This covered all moral and ethical questions, including your fate in the afterlife - whether this belief was true or false. One felt that one was beholden to God, who saw and knew everything you did. These were things that 'everyone knew' - hence the idea of 'social fabric', I suppose.

So in the absence of this common understanding, in a 'secular' society, what then is the basis of morality, really? I think, to all intents and purposes, it amounts to property rights and other things definable in common law, and to not harming anyone or being violent.

But the question remains - in traditional society there is a fundamental link between morality, the creation story (why we are here), and our ultimate destiny - in other words, between morality and reality.


To which the secular, or at least the anti-religious, answer is, welll we just evolved, for no particular purpose, as a result of natural processes, into an uncaring universe, and we live out our lives, and create our own individual purposes, and then we die. This is very close to the existentialist attitude to life - Camus and Sartre. In this context, morality is a matter of individual and social consensus; it has no basis 'in nature' or 'in reality'.

And I am questioning that.


I believe that the basis for morality is and always has been social cooperation, and mutual benefit within a group. I don't believe that religion or the idea of God has a substantial affect on how moral a society is. Most people find that they can get along quite well without the Gods.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Mon 22 Jun, 2009 05:05 am
@jeeprs,
I accept that this is what you think (and indeed many people think) and also that it is a reasonable position to take. Basically this says that moral laws are of the same kind, and have a similar origin, to traffic and property laws, namely, social convention or perhaps 'the social contract' as articulated by liberal philosophy.

Is it fair to say, then, that the secular society recognises objective realities governed by scientific law and, in the sphere of human afairs, agreements between citizens as to how to behave?

What I am exploring is whether over and above this, there is a moral law similar to the laws of nature, such as gravity, but that govern human acts and (I suppose) destinies. This does not necessarily mean accepting that the law is devised by, or imposed by, a diety; certainly from a Buddhist viewpoint, dharma and karma are understood as natural laws which work the same way as scientific law, but in the realm of ethical behaviour and its consequences rather than with regards to material objects.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Mon 22 Jun, 2009 08:11 am
@jeeprs,
Most secularists don't believe in a mystical or supernatural force that guides human actions and motives. There is really no way to justify morality as a 'law of nature' similar to gravity. Nature is not an agent, and nature is most certainly not moral. The only moral laws are the laws of man, and there's nothing wrong with that.
 
Dearhtead
 
Reply Mon 22 Jun, 2009 09:11 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;70056 wrote:
I notice that there is a popular opinion that 'we don't need God [or 'the Church' or 'the Bible' etc etc]' for morality and that we are quite capable of moral conduct in our own right.

Question: what is the relationship, in this view, between 'morality' and 'reality'? ('Morality' being 'how we should behave' and 'reality' being, 'the sun comes up in the morning' etc).

It would seem to me that in the olden days there was a contract (then known as a 'covenant') between 'God' (i.e. 'Maker of all that is') and Man (i.e. you and me) viz-a -viz how we should behave, what we should do, and so on. And that, furthermore, what we did, how we behaved, etc, had consequences 'unto all eternity' (or words to that effect). In other words, we had a REAL CONNECTION with reality, in that what we did mattered in the great scheme of things.

Whereas, now, the question of how we should behave seems more like a matter of contract law, in that, now the connection between 'maker of all that is' and 'us', is deemed to be null and void, then there is no real, compelling reason IN REALITY why any of us should do anything, other than behave like decent citizens and not rip each other off and kill each other. In other words, our obligation is no longer to the Maker of All that Is, but only to each other, and only for items that can be itemised under common law.

The question remains, however, what we should do in the privacy of our own home, when there is no social obligation, no property rights or social duties at stake. I suppose the question is: if I have discharged my duties as a conscientious citizen, not ripped anyone off, paid my taxes, reduced my carbon footprint, and so on, then there seems no other purpose towards which I might aspire. There is nothing in reality ennobling or inherently worthwhile in my moral betterment, or even in my being, for that matter, beyond this point. We gaze out upon those starry skies and are supposed, by our secular brethren, to take comfort in the fact that it is all enacted with no particular purpose, that we are each the captains of our soul, with no especial destination, it would seem, other than a satisfactory balance of funds in our super account, or that we have advanced the cause of science, and perhaps the solace of knowing that kind words will be spoken at our funeral.

Hence my question. Is there any relationship between morality and reality?


First I think without the idea of God -of the truth- it is impossible to say what is good, or not. God is the criterium of the morale.

It is a fact that in many countries the morality is no more based on God.
So the problem: can we founded a morale based on the earthly reality? We can't. It will be a false morale - a relative one- not a real morale.

In this case, why the morale based on God had failed? Because we have a false conception of God.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Mon 22 Jun, 2009 09:30 am
@Dearhtead,
Dearhtead;71066 wrote:
First I think without the idea of God -of the truth- it is impossible to say what is good, or not. God is the criterium of the morale.

It is a fact that in many countries the morality is no more based on God.
So the problem: can we founded a morale based on the earthly reality? We can't. It will be a false morale - a relative one- not a real morale.

In this case, why the morale based on God had failed? Because we have a false conception of God.


These are some pretty baseless assumptions and claims that are not well thought out. It is not impossible to say what is good without God. Firstly, if someone says that God wants us to be good, they have to prove that God actually exists. There is no evidence for the existence of a supernatural being, and so it is 'divine morality' and revelation that is false, not humanistic morality. Humanistic morality is based on the essential values of the human animal and the positive progression of a society. I say that morality is a result of humanity, and unlike God, I can prove that humans exist in the first place. The validity of the claim that God wants us to be good in no more valid than the claim that God wants us to be bad. The positive belief in factually baseless claims can be dangerous. We don't need God for moral viagra; we can keep it up on our own. Believing that we cannot be moral without God is a result of indoctrination, and a lack of self-confidence - not to mention that it is contradicted by observable evidence of secular societies that function morally.
 
Dearhtead
 
Reply Mon 22 Jun, 2009 10:19 am
@hue-man,
hue-man;71069 wrote:
These are some pretty baseless assumptions and claims that are not well thought out. It is not impossible to say what is good without God. Firstly, if someone says that God wants us to be good, they have to prove that God actually exists. There is no evidence for the existence of a supernatural being, and so it is 'divine morality' and revelation that is false, not humanistic morality. Humanistic morality is based on the essential values of the human animal and the positive progression of a society. I say that morality is a result of humanity, and unlike God, I can prove that humans exist in the first place. The validity of the claim that God wants us to be good in no more valid than the claim that God wants us to be bad. The positive belief in factually baseless claims can be dangerous. We don't need God for moral viagra; we can keep it up on our own. Believing that we cannot be moral without God is a result of indoctrination, and a lack of self-confidence - not to mention that it is contradicted by observable evidence of secular societies that function morally.
 
The Start Online
 
Reply Mon 22 Jun, 2009 10:20 am
@Dearhtead,
(In common) if any God or Gods existed, we could still ask why the supernatural power would have any ethical influence on us. Is God's moral objective or is it subjective?

Why we should believe that God had the most true moral theory, if he was only able to use the extreme supernatural force to contor the whole universe and our lives? Eternal punishment, all he could do?

If God existed, he would likely know whether there was objective morality or not. And if he knew, he wouldn't tell us the answer.
 
Zetetic11235
 
Reply Mon 22 Jun, 2009 10:39 am
@Dearhtead,
Dearhtead;71080 wrote:


Do you define it to be relative because there is not some ethereal mysticism behind it? If so, your question is moot since it presumes the answer. If not, I suppose the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would be an example? Bill is an atheist as far as I can tell from his response to the occasional religious questions, but he does tend to dodge those questions pretty well. The foundation has done a lot of good charity work.

Now, to get to the base of this problem, what is it about a religion such as Christianity that dictates our actions? Well, the twelve commandments are a good start. The further detailed teachings of Jesus and situations in the Old testament are all sources for 'moral' actions. So clearly we just need a document and a reason to follow it.

In many jewish families and communities there is a very strong sense of ethics that are often more socially and culturally developed than religiously developed. So an atheist from a jewish family might still have a strong sense of ethics, simply from the social/cultural development he went through.

My point? Social norms are sufficient motivators for an ethical foundation. There is plenty of reason behind ethics, for instance, 'I do not steal, for I would consider it an unjust and despicable act if my things were stolen', so there is a projection of your sentiment onto another person. The only reason this might work better with a religion is because there is a standard, but this can be developed as a social mechanism.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Mon 22 Jun, 2009 10:53 am
@Dearhtead,
Dearhtead;71080 wrote:


It is good to be kind to someone who is kind to you. This is not a proposition, though.
 
Dearhtead
 
Reply Mon 22 Jun, 2009 11:04 am
@Zetetic11235,
Zetetic11235;71084 wrote:
Do you define it to be relative because there is not some ethereal mysticism behind it? If so, your question is moot since it presumes the answer. If not, I suppose the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would be an example? Bill is an atheist as far as I can tell from his response to the occasional religious questions, but he does tend to dodge those questions pretty well. The foundation has done a lot of good charity work.

Now, to get to the base of this problem, what is it about a religion such as Christianity that dictates our actions? Well, the twelve commandments are a good start. The further detailed teachings of Jesus and situations in the Old testament are all sources for 'moral' actions. So clearly we just need a document and a reason to follow it.

In many jewish families and communities there is a very strong sense of ethics that are often more socially and culturally developed than religiously developed. So an atheist from a jewish family might still have a strong sense of ethics, simply from the social/cultural development he went through.

My point? Social norms are sufficient motivators for an ethical foundation. There is plenty of reason behind ethics, for instance, 'I do not steal, for I would consider it an unjust and despicable act if my things were stolen', so there is a projection of your sentiment onto another person. The only reason this might work better with a religion is because there is a standard, but this can be developed as a social mechanism.


An action is morally relative when it can be considered good or bad. For me, without the idea of God, all action is morally relative, because we have no criterium to judge.

Of course if we morally judge an action relatively to (comparatively to)God, we can clearly say if this action is good or bad. That is not the case if you judge an action without the idea of God.

---------- Post added at 07:12 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:04 PM ----------

hue-man;71089 wrote:
It is good to be kind to someone who is kind to you. This is not a proposition, though.



Sure, because you don't hurt his life.

But if God were not the principle (at the origin) of the life, the life were not a criterium of the morale.
 
Zetetic11235
 
Reply Mon 22 Jun, 2009 11:33 am
@Dearhtead,
Why does there have to be a strict logical foundation to ethics and morality? there is no such thing as far as anything else goes. Science works, it allows for technology, technology gives us some benefit or perceived benefit. There is no strict logical necessity behind science, we observe, notice a pattern, formulate a hypothesis, try to show that it is wrong, and if it still stands after rigorous testing then we use it as if it were certain fact(although there is always the possibility that it could change in the future or that the pattern was not totally accurate).

Just as we approach science in practical terms, so must we approach everything. Total certainty is delusional(except in the case of a definition, which comes totally from man), it is in fact always dogmatism.

Ethics and morality develop out of social utility (many of the laws in the Old testament testify to this:sarcastic:) and emotive influence, and the ideals that arise out of this morality develop into social norms when the social utility of some set of principals is generally accepted. That is generally how a sense of ethics seems to develop in a person. It is primarily a social matter.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Mon 22 Jun, 2009 11:41 am
@Dearhtead,
Dearhtead;71093 wrote:
Sure, because you don't hurt his life.

But if God were not the principle (at the origin) of the life, the life were not a criterium of the morale.


Without God, there is no criterion of the morale for you. No offense, but that says something about you, not me. As I said earlier in this thread, perceptions of goodness and badness will exist with or without the idea of God, and therefore the utility of morality still stands. In fact, the utility of morality is made stronger with a humanistic justification. Saying that something is good because God said so is more than an inadequate reason to value morality. If saying that God said so is a good reason to justify a moral statement, what stops me from saying that God wants me to kill a Hindu?
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Mon 22 Jun, 2009 03:24 pm
@jeeprs,
Quote:
There is no such thing as far as anything else goes.


So - there no Truth, with a capital 'T'?
 
 

 
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