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Thread: Attempt to redeem the travesty that is modern epistemology

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    Default Attempt to redeem the travesty that is modern epistemology

    Within the past few decades post-modernists, whom I fail to distinguish from nihilists, have raped the definition of knowledge to such an extent as to cause epistemicl despair about, causing people to doubt their very EXISTENTCE, leading to viscious circles which turn leads such individuals no where. These developments, as I see them, are a perversion of what the post-modern theory SHOULD have been: namely, a re-examanition of one's axioms and the realization of how they relate to other systems while keeping in mind the pragmatic aspects, and hence, the value of many axioms which skeptics have now thrown into question.

    What I mean by this PRECISELY is that post-mdoernists have a tendancy to, despite their claim that they make no definative claim on any sort of topic, jump to conclusions that consist of assuming the NEGATIVE of two propositions; for example, skeptics will often assert the scenario of one being locked in a simulacron, or perhaps merely existing as a brain in a vat. Two points these individuals miss are, as I stated before, the pragmatic benefits of assuming such axioms and the relative meaninglessness of assuming otherwise, and that such do not invalidate the concept that what axioms we perceive to be true are just that: true.

    I recognize the possibility of such scenarios, and I also recognize the philosophical ground upon which their arguments are made; what I don't understand is why they insist on persisting going into circles in a matter which cannot be resolved. I would even claim that the axioms we assume to be true will, inevitably, allow us to results that WOULD be true within the system in which the axiom is assumed to be true; one need not work with true permises in order to come to conclusions that would be true if the premises themselves were true.

    Then there are the moral relativists, who are absurd in my opinion, who claim that morals are SUBJECTIVE and not ABSOLUTE. I would first contest if any sort of concept could EVER be a subjective one: would not one oftwo individuals whom come to opposite conclusion upon a matter be considered false? How can both of them have the authority to hold both as truths and be equally correct at the same time? Does that not seem the least bit nonsensical to you? Moral nihilists will go so far to claim that morals don't exist, without any conclusive evidence needed to back up this statement; they forget that the epistemic default value on whether or not a matter is true is NOT negative but neutral, and thus fail to recognize the possibility that moral absolutes exist, regardless of our ability to perceive that they do.

    The most absurd are the ones who try to challenge logic itself; they attempt to challenge logic by USING logic; does that not seem a bit odd to you?

    My epistemological platform is as so: systems can be true insofar that that their conclusions do not conflict one another, although the validity of said systems is not assumed. I handle the matter of "proof" as denoting proof to be that which its own system claims it to be; something may be "proof" to one person but not proof to another; a mystic may hold that spiritual intuition is a proof of their posited insights of the spiritual realm, while others of a more reductionistic philosophy would claim that such evidence is flawed on the erred ground that their conclusion rests on a circular premise, though their particular definition of what is circular is that which is not its own system's axioms and that which does not have any "evidnece."

    Criticisms of this short rant are welcomed; perhaps I will finally be able to put this issue to rest within my mind.
    "To become is just like falling asleep. You never know exactly when it happens, the transition, the magic, and you think, if you could only recall that exact moment of crossing the line then you would understand everything; you would see it all"

    "Angels dancing on the head of a pin dissolve into nothingness at the bedside of a dying child."

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    I have no clue what any of this means, but well said in anycase!

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    edited

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    I'm not very up-to-date on post-modernism, but I think I can help you with some of your problems.

    My epistemological platform is as so: systems can be true insofar that that their conclusions do not conflict one another, although the validity of said systems is not assumed.
    First of all, to be a nitpick, do you not mean your philosophical platform? Your proposition is purely a matter of logic, thus it is philosophical. Second, I would assume that you are right. Reworded, any system is logically true if it's conclusions are logically consistent, however this does not mean that the system is an accurate picture of reality.

    I handle the matter of "proof" as denoting proof to be that which its own system claims it to be; something may be "proof" to one person but not proof to another; a mystic may hold that spiritual intuition is a proof of their posited insights of the spiritual realm, while others of a more reductionistic philosophy would claim that such evidence is flawed on the erred ground that their conclusion rests on a circular premise, though their particular definition of what is circular is that which is not its own system's axioms and that which does not have any "evidnece."
    Any system is an abstract representation of another system, for instance, reality. "Proof" then is a logical consistency between the represented system and the system that represents it. In the case of your mystic, his insights are a representation of spiritual intuition, which are then a representation of the spiritual realm. But since it is impossible to know how the spiritual realm represents our most basic system of direct observation, we can never know if the mystic's insights are valid. In order for a "proof" to be valid, there must be a logical consistency between every successive representational system, to the point of the "base" system, which, as you have noted above, contains axioms that we must assume are true. However, the post-modernists have even denied the validity of our assumed axioms, on the grounds that since we don't know the system that reality represents, we cannot assume anything. That is to say, if there really is a more basic system than reality.

    Then there are the moral relativists, who are absurd in my opinion, who claim that morals are SUBJECTIVE and not ABSOLUTE. I would first contest if any sort of concept could EVER be a subjective one: would not one oftwo individuals whom come to opposite conclusion upon a matter be considered false? How can both of them have the authority to hold both as truths and be equally correct at the same time? Does that not seem the least bit nonsensical to you? Moral nihilists will go so far to claim that morals don't exist, without any conclusive evidence needed to back up this statement; they forget that the epistemic default value on whether or not a matter is true is NOT negative but neutral, and thus fail to recognize the possibility that moral absolutes exist, regardless of our ability to perceive that they do.
    What exactly do you mean by "absolutes"? Maybe like how logic cannot be broken down into simpler parts? Perhaps morality is nothing but a system built off of logic. I believe that it is nothing but a heuristic, a "should" or "shouldn't" that guarantees a favorable result, albeit not the best one. But then one could even say that morality could be innate, but that's a different story.

    I hope I helped.


    Your INTp friend,

    Cone
    Binary or dichotomous systems, although regulated by a principle, are among the most artificial arrangements that have ever been invented. -- William Swainson, A Treatise on the Geography and Classification of Animals (1835)

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    Then there are the moral relativists, who are absurd in my opinion, who claim that morals are SUBJECTIVE and not ABSOLUTE. I would first contest if any sort of concept could EVER be a subjective one: would not one oftwo individuals whom come to opposite conclusion upon a matter be considered false? How can both of them have the authority to hold both as truths and be equally correct at the same time? Does that not seem the least bit nonsensical to you? Moral nihilists will go so far to claim that morals don't exist, without any conclusive evidence needed to back up this statement; they forget that the epistemic default value on whether or not a matter is true is NOT negative but neutral, and thus fail to recognize the possibility that moral absolutes exist, regardless of our ability to perceive that they do.
    What kinds of universal morals do you think there are?

    Are you suggesting religon?

    Do you think you have the answers?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    It would be nice if everyone had good morals that they followed, but only in a perfect, utopian society.

    May I ask, what exactly are you getting at here?
    MAYBE I'LL BREAK DOWN!!!


    Quote Originally Posted by vague
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    "First of all, to be a nitpick, do you not mean your philosophical platform?"

    No; epistemology is the study of knowledge; I stated my position in relation to the said study. Philosophy, while encompassing the realm of epistemology, encompasses a much larger field then simply "the study of knowledge."

    "Reworded, any system is logically true if it's conclusions are logically consistent, however this does not mean that the system is an accurate picture of reality. "

    Of course not; note my statement that any system CAN be logically true, not that they ARE, if they meet my stated criteria.


    "However, the post-modernists have even denied the validity of our assumed axioms, on the grounds that since we don't know the system that reality represents, we cannot assume anything. That is to say, if there really is a more basic system than reality. "

    And here, I reassert that the DENIAL of such truths are baseless; instead, simply recognizing that said axioms CAN be true would be the most epistemically sound path.

    "What exactly do you mean by "absolutes"?"

    By absolute I mean TRUE. Am absolute moral doesn't neccessarily have to be one that is true in every situation regardless of the scenario; instead , an absolute moral's validity can merely be, and here I play a bit of semantics by redefiing the word "moral" to mean anything which helps guide one's behavioral pattern, and in turn add on to all of my moral statements "in x scenario in ordrer to achieve y", thus making it more of an observation of reality than a compelling force. However, my point stands that there are guidelines by which to live one's life by, ie morals, if one considers what I noted as morals.

    "What kinds of universal morals do you think there are? "

    I don't think there are any universal morals, but I don't deny their existence.

    "Are you suggesting religon?"

    No.

    "Are you suggesting religon?"

    If you mean: do you think you know which universal morals exist and which don't, then no, I don't, but if you mean: do you think you know whether or not a particular sort of moral exists so as long as I accept your definition of what a moral is, then yes, I do believe I know that such morals exist.
    "To become is just like falling asleep. You never know exactly when it happens, the transition, the magic, and you think, if you could only recall that exact moment of crossing the line then you would understand everything; you would see it all"

    "Angels dancing on the head of a pin dissolve into nothingness at the bedside of a dying child."

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    Of course not; note my statement that any system CAN be logically true, not that they ARE, if they meet my stated criteria.
    Damn, I need to read more carefully. I was getting "truth" confused with "consistency".
    Binary or dichotomous systems, although regulated by a principle, are among the most artificial arrangements that have ever been invented. -- William Swainson, A Treatise on the Geography and Classification of Animals (1835)

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    Isn't this what Ayn Rand's philosophy was all about?

    And also: what will happen when all of this is solved? What mysteries will we have to wonder about then?
    Binary or dichotomous systems, although regulated by a principle, are among the most artificial arrangements that have ever been invented. -- William Swainson, A Treatise on the Geography and Classification of Animals (1835)

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    These developments, as I see them, are a perversion of what the post-modern theory SHOULD have been: namely, a re-examanition of one's axioms and the realization of how they relate to other systems while keeping in mind the pragmatic aspects, and hence, the value of many axioms which skeptics have now thrown into question.
    Postmodern theory does rexamine axioms. It's not the process you are critiquing, it's the result you don't like. Postmodernists don't challenge the value of axioms per se. They assert that no axiom can have universal value. You reason out of your cultural background and I reason out of mine. There is a difference. It might be valuable for you, but you can't assume that it's valuable for others. So it's not about the value as such, it's about its universality.

    Two points these individuals miss are, as I stated before, the pragmatic benefits of assuming such axioms and the relative meaninglessness of assuming otherwise, and that such do not invalidate the concept that what axioms we perceive to be true are just that: true.
    They don't miss these points, they reject them. The pragmatic benefits you speak of are deconstructed in favor of not letting the linear and the rational cover up the other factors that go into our thinking (the social, the aethetic, the linguistic, etc.). You can assume all you want, but you can't say it's the universal truth. Did I misunderstand you here? I'm not sure.

    Then there are the moral relativists, who are absurd in my opinion, who claim that morals are SUBJECTIVE and not ABSOLUTE. I would first contest if any sort of concept could EVER be a subjective one: would not one oftwo individuals whom come to opposite conclusion upon a matter be considered false? How can both of them have the authority to hold both as truths and be equally correct at the same time?
    Your argument doesn't make sense. Again, morals, just like truth, cannot be universal. Again you are criticizing postmodernists for a crime they have not committed. They do not believe in a universal truth about a matter. These two people can argue and hold differing beliefs, but neither of them them holds the universal truth. There is no such thing.

    Moral nihilists will go so far to claim that morals don't exist, without any conclusive evidence needed to back up this statement; they forget that the epistemic default value on whether or not a matter is true is NOT negative but neutral, and thus fail to recognize the possibility that moral absolutes exist, regardless of our ability to perceive that they do.
    They don't forget that this is the epistemic default value, again, they reject it. Absolute morals cannot exist because morals cannot be reasoned through logical thinking and because they are bound to social and cultural contexts. Morals do exist, but they are not universal.

    The most absurd are the ones who try to challenge logic itself; they attempt to challenge logic by USING logic; does that not seem a bit odd to you?
    They don't necessarily challenge logic as such, but they strive to include other factors that influence our thinking. Things are not linear and they can't be reasoned. They are subjective.

    [/quote]

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    By absolute I mean TRUE. Am absolute moral doesn't neccessarily have to be one that is true in every situation regardless of the scenario; instead , an absolute moral's validity can merely be, and here I play a bit of semantics by redefiing the word "moral" to mean anything which helps guide one's behavioral pattern, and in turn add on to all of my moral statements "in x scenario in ordrer to achieve y", thus making it more of an observation of reality than a compelling force. However, my point stands that there are guidelines by which to live one's life by, ie morals, if one considers what I noted as morals.
    Look at your first sentence. It's very postmodern: No UNIVERSAL truth. Postmodernists don't reject the value something has for you and your life. They reject the notion that it has the same value for everyone else.

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    The thing is, though, I don't think it's anything to get bunched up about at this point. Nihilism never caught on on such a level that sociology has anything to worry about. We have yet to see social decay as a result of this movement. If the history of philosophy teaches us anything, it is that utilitarianism is the most successful morality - and the most successful axiom in understanding knowledge. Knowledge is useful so long as it work. I think your platform will prevail when people realize that morality and absolutes prevail because they just plain work.
    I agree that the merit of postmodernis, among other things, lies in the rapture it created because there can't be change without rapture. As far as ethics are concerned, utilitarianism it is not logically proven to be a "working"system whatever that means.

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    no offense but that is idiotic because you are excerting an axoim as a universal value while denying that this can be done. maybe you just misphrased what you meant to say... if so my apologies.
    Did you see that in anything I wrote?

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    I meant to say that postmodernists don't reject the value as such, they reject the notion that a value can be universal. So it's (the discussion of the validity of values) not about the value (and its validity) as such, it's about the claim that there is universality to a value's validity (or *truth*).

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    That's the inherent problem of postmodernism. The merit lies in the debate. Same with any theory.

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    I was just partly agreeing with you and partly disagreeing. Have a good day.

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    Since your entire argument rests upon the notion of universal truths being subjective I will address this last statement:

    "They reject the notion that it has the same value for everyone else."

    Why? On what grounds?
    "To become is just like falling asleep. You never know exactly when it happens, the transition, the magic, and you think, if you could only recall that exact moment of crossing the line then you would understand everything; you would see it all"

    "Angels dancing on the head of a pin dissolve into nothingness at the bedside of a dying child."

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    Since your entire argument rests upon the notion of universal truths being subjective I will address this last statement:
    No, it rests upon the notion that a truth can be subjective, but it can't be universal. And technically it can't be truth then. But that goes into semantics and I don't think that's necessary...

    "They reject the notion that it has the same value for everyone else."

    Why? On what grounds?
    Reality and the way it is created is not based on the logic and the linear and it cannot be deduced from perceived causalities (as in positivism).

    Reality is in flux because it is influenced by relationships and the world around you (and your place in this world, both on the local and the global level). Therefore values are at least partly grounded in the local. Your local is different from mine, which creates values that are different because we create, reject and accept values based on our subjective reality. Even if our values are the same, the don't signify a common thought process that would have lead to their existence. In addition, the very observation of a phenomenon or the reflection of a value is not a finite process. The process of observation and reflection in itself changes you. Therefore your own reality changes as you observe, which then changes what you perceive as truth.

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    On what grounds do you reject the idea of universal truths? Do you reject it simply because you wish to?

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    I'd also like to quote Pedro, as I believe he makes, perhaps, the strongest objection to the post-modernistic theory:

    "No axiom can have universal value... even this one.

    See what I mean now?"
    "To become is just like falling asleep. You never know exactly when it happens, the transition, the magic, and you think, if you could only recall that exact moment of crossing the line then you would understand everything; you would see it all"

    "Angels dancing on the head of a pin dissolve into nothingness at the bedside of a dying child."

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    Who is to say that an axiom is universal? What constitutes its universality?

    I agree with the point that Pedro raised. It seems like an oxymoron and appears nihilistic. But is that all you can raise to reject postmodernism? Do you see the merit in at least questioning the notion that values cannot be universal?

    Theories are rarely useful as theories. Their application and the debate constitutes their merit. Everything else is intellectual masturbation (but there is nothing wrong with that either).

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    Quote Originally Posted by MysticSonic
    "Are you suggesting religon?"

    If you mean: do you think you know which universal morals exist and which don't, then no, I don't, but if you mean: do you think you know whether or not a particular sort of moral exists so as long as I accept your definition of what a moral is, then yes, I do believe I know that such morals exist.
    You nailed it on the head. That was the kind of answer I was looking for. I agree with you.
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    Quote Originally Posted by vague
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    *in the voice of a drunken coconut* What is the meaning of this? (Please don't bother replying. I'm in one of my moods.)
    Ha, so I'm not the only one who has "those" moods.

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    I have those "moods" a lot too. In fact, it seems like the whole beta quadra has been in one of those moods in the past few days. Interesting.

    Sorry for this post; back on topic!
    , Se-sub
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    Lol, I think were the only ones that really understand eachothers random little outbursts. Everybody else just kinda stares.



    Not to intruse on your convorsation guys.... Sorry about that.

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    MysticSonic wrote:
    "Are you suggesting religon?"

    If you mean: do you think you know which universal morals exist and which don't, then no, I don't, but if you mean: do you think you know whether or not a particular sort of moral exists so as long as I accept your definition of what a moral is, then yes, I do believe I know that such morals exist.
    But can the morals be universal if your acceptance of someone's ELSE's definition is grounds for your belief in their existence? That already suggests that the thought process on which the adoption of a moral is based is higly subjective. That makes any claim to its universality subjective also. Hence morals can't be universal.

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    No, you beta people are really funny, in fact. But it's just my perception and it is, of course, purely subjective! :wink:

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    Baby,
    First of all, the drunken coconut really brightened my day! That was too funny! And please, do intrude!

    I think of utilitarianism as a concept that has the well-being (happiness or whatever - this is where the problem starts) of society, humanity - the majority in mind (and this is where the problem continues).

    Utilitarianism is a failsafe method - after all, we are here, aren't we? You can't deny that we see, we hear, we touch, we taste, we smell, we think. This is existence in the confines of this world. What is "useful" is what allows us to make our ends in this existence, whether we believe it or not.
    I would say that it cannot be considered failsafe because it can never benefit all. Who is to determine what makes people happy? Gay couples, for example, cannot marry legally because people deem it immoral. Who is to decide? How is that morally just? That proves that the problem with utilitarianism is that it's selective. On a global level, the prime example would be colonialim, among others. When atrocities can be justified by utilitarianism, then we can't really say it cannot fail. It has failed many times and it is failing still, I think.

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    I think Mystic's point was that people should respect your moral ideal, not to advise you to do it their way.
    MAYBE I'LL BREAK DOWN!!!


    Quote Originally Posted by vague
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    True. This makes sense to me. Maybe then we should modify utilitarianism so it works on the personal level rather than societal?
    The problem is that we can't detach the consequences of our actions from the context we live in. If it makes me happy to steal your cool car to drive it, it will make you sad because I stole it. So again, whose happiness deserves more attention? Unfortunately (?) we can't detach our actions from the context we live in.

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    I think Mystic's point was that people should respect your moral ideal, not to advise you to do it their way.
    So you are suggesting that he agrees with the postmodernists that moral ideals are subjective? (I like the phrase "moral ideal," by the way. That's a very useful way of putting it in this debate).

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    elbow tchaikovsky freezer burn

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    Quote Originally Posted by MysticSonic
    whether or not a particular sort of moral exists so as long as I accept your definition of what a moral is
    I think he means that people should have a mutal RESPECT and UNDERSTANDING for each others morals, and if you accept other people's morals then you should HONOR them.

    Think of it this way. You fly over to Japan, and they have a completly diffrent level of respect and presidence over there. The MORAL thing to do would be to respect their ideals. Then you fly back to L.A., you you realize that the enviorment there is much diffrent and you have to respect that.

    When dealing with certain people, you know that you can talk to some in a certain way but you wouldn't act the same around someone else.

    This is at least the way I see it, I don't know if Mystic has a diffrent view.
    MAYBE I'LL BREAK DOWN!!!


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    "Who is to say that an axiom is universal? What constitutes its universality?

    I agree with the point that Pedro raised. It seems like an oxymoron and appears nihilistic. But is that all you can raise to reject postmodernism? Do you see the merit in at least questioning the notion that values cannot be universal?"

    No, since it can't be proven either way; like how theists commonly apply the saying "absence of evidence does not indicate evidence of absence" in order to defend the existence of their God, so do I assert that "abscence of evidence" FOR universals is not "evidence of abscence" of such things.

    "Theories are rarely useful as theories. Their application and the debate constitutes their merit. Everything else is intellectual masturbation (but there is nothing wrong with that either)."

    Relevance?

    "But can the morals be universal if your acceptance of someone's ELSE's definition is grounds for your belief in their existence?"

    No, but if they accept someone ELSE'S definitino of what a moral "is" then we're obviously talking about two seperate things, and just simply confusing the matter via semantics; language is merely a tool by which to symbolize objects, be them abstract or concrete.

    "That makes any claim to its universality subjective also."

    I'll accept that it makes any claim to universality no more probable than the lack of said notions.

    "Hence morals can't be universal."

    Here is where the distinction between post-modernists and nihlists fade: on certain matters, especially ones considering morals, they, instead of noting that the "abscence of evidence is not evidence of abscence" notion, reject the the prospect of such a thing existing at all. While absolute truths may NOT exist, it is impossible to prove either way.

    "I would say that it cannot be considered failsafe because it can never benefit all. Who is to determine what makes people happy? Gay couples, for example, cannot marry legally because people deem it immoral. Who is to decide? How is that morally just? That proves that the problem with utilitarianism is that it's selective. On a global level, the prime example would be colonialim, among others. When atrocities can be justified by utilitarianism, then we can't really say it cannot fail. It has failed many times and it is failing still, I think."

    Interesting how you claim there are no moral absolutes, but claim that the failure of the system to agree with a certain sort of moral perspective, or in other words, the notion that killing is bad, in an absolutistic manner. In any event, I fail to see how utilitarianism is "selective." I also missed the part where what makes people "happy" is defined by someone else, although one must admit, at times people fail to recognize the difference between that which they want and that which would grant them the greatest amount of happiness. Such is the failure of the individual to think rationally, if a rational individual would be defined as a person whom chooses that which will grant them the greatest amount of happiness over a period of time. Of course, since humans behave most often in an irrational manner, applying this theory to society would be a dangerous experiment at best.

    "I think Mystic's point was that people should respect your moral ideal, not to advise you to do it their way."

    No, my statement was just providing an alternative definition for the word moral; if one accepts my definition, then the issue of moral relatvitiy is resolved; if one rejects it, and I can see very well why one would do so, then the problem remains.
    "To become is just like falling asleep. You never know exactly when it happens, the transition, the magic, and you think, if you could only recall that exact moment of crossing the line then you would understand everything; you would see it all"

    "Angels dancing on the head of a pin dissolve into nothingness at the bedside of a dying child."

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    I just thought of something.

    Quote Originally Posted by Baby
    This, in turn, leads to frustration because, well, what can we DO with a philosophy that negates all the axioms and pillars on which we build a practical existence?
    According to Ludwig Wittgenstein, philosophy is purely descriptive. It cannot do anything useful. Here's an excerpt of his Notes on Logic:

    In philosophy there are no deductions: it is purely descriptive.
    Philosophy gives no pictures of reality.
    Philosophy can neither confirm nor confute scientific investigation.
    Philosophy consists of logic and metaphysics: logic is its basis.
    Epistemology is the philosophy of psychology.
    Distrust of grammar is the first requisite for philosophizing.

    For me, and in turn, for all P-types, philosophy is nothing more than a fun game of thought, serving only the purposes of my amusement. I can play around with the ideas that nothing exists or nothing is proveable, because mind you, thought is much different than action. Action does not always follow thought. And that is the internal contradiction of perceivers, or at least it should be.

    And Pedro, having ideals is what destroyed Wittgenstein's life. Of course, he was an INTp.
    Binary or dichotomous systems, although regulated by a principle, are among the most artificial arrangements that have ever been invented. -- William Swainson, A Treatise on the Geography and Classification of Animals (1835)

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    Ok, let's see...

    Baby (I hope you are recovering from that cocktail. It sounds scary!)

    And this was what I was going for originally. In my personal opinion, morality evolved out of necessity - we didn't exactly sit around and abitrarilly decide what is or what isn't "correct." It evolved because it allowed for the majority (over the indivual) to be happy, most of the time.
    The majority or those in power. Hegemonic ideology is characterized by its claim to reflect what is best for the respective group. I agree that our perception of what is correct or not is arbitrary, but I also think that for most of history, we were made believe what is good for the masses by the hegemonic few. In that sense, unitarialism is oppressive.

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