Individualism vs. Collectivism

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RCSaunders
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by RCSaunders » Sat Aug 24, 2019 3:01 pm

Hi IC,

I'm only going to comment on a couple of things that perhaps have been misunderstood, or not made clear. Otherwise, you've made you points, and I've made mine, and where we do not agree, I don't think we're going to, which of course is not so important as keeping the discourse cordial and interesting.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Aug 23, 2019 3:54 pm
Good, bad, right, wrong, important, unimportant, needed, not needed, appropriate, inappropriate are all value terms, that is, terms of relationship.

Something can only be good, bad, right, wrong, etc. in relationship to some objective, goal, end, purpse, or standard toward which or about which a thing has such a value. To be good, a thing must be good to someone for something, or to be bad, a thing must be bad to someone for something (in some way).
Not quite, RC. It' is true that some of these terms can be instrumental terms, as in "bad for _____." It is not true that that's all they can be, nor is it so that this is the way people often use them. Values are not all relative to the purposes of the actor. If it were the case, then theft would be right; for it achieves the purpose which I intend, which is to acquire your property expeditiously and without your knowledge.
You are right, most people use value terms as though they identified absolutes--things are just good or bad for no other reason than that is what one believes, but it is just plain epistemological confusion. Something cannot not just be big, slow, or cold, though we use those terms that way all the time. Something is only big relative to something else or some standard (a measurement), and something is only slow relative to something else or some standard (a velocity), and something is only cold relative to something else (or a specific temperature). Whenever we use relative words like that, the standard measurement, or velocity, or temperature is implied or understood.

Unfortunately, people use value terms all the time with no idea whatsoever why a thing is good, bad, right, wrong or important to what or in what way. You are wrong that values are not relative to the purpose of the actor (or the one making the value judgement). If one one seeks to acquire the unearned, relative to that objective, whatever achieves the goal is good. You are assuming the objective is not good (and you are right), but is not just, "not good," without a reason. The basic reason any chosen objective is not good (when it isn't) is because while it might fulfill some immediate short-term objective, fulfilling it prevents the fulfillment of more fundamental long-term objectives. Nobody takes drugs with the objective of becoming a drug addict, but for the immediate experience. One's immediate objective might be to acquire their next fix. Relative to that objective getting the fix is good (to which any drug addict will attest). Relative to the long term objective of living a successful life, every fix is a bad.

You provided the perfect example:
The goal in itself can be "good" or "evil," for instance, regardless of the efficacy of the measure in achieving it. "Good" gas chambers are still instruments of evil. And those who want to make gas chambers still have a moral defect in their characters, and desires for that which is evil.


The objective of making gas chambers is only evil if one's objective is to preserve the life of the innocent and prevent the wanton murder and torture of other human beings. If your moral principals allowed the use of individuals for the sake of the collective for example, as all of collectivism does, it would be very difficult to make the case that gas chambers are evil, so long as it was for the sake of "society as a whole," or "mankind," or "the environment."
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
Oh, I see. So you're agreeing that there is such a thing as a sin of thought or a sin of intention, as well as a sin of action; you're just saying that you don't think the source of the thoughts or the actions is a feature intrinsic to the human character.

Have I got that right?
Yes.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
If so, I would ask where these thoughts, these preludes to action, originate, if not in the human character? If there is sin (or evil) in the world, and sin in people's thoughts and actions, from whence does this come?
I have honestly never understood this question. Wrong behavior (sin) comes from the same place every other human thought and action comes from. Human creative thinking and imagination has virtually no limit. Anything that anyone can possibly do someone can imagine doing. Every invention, every work of fiction, every kind of program or practice is the invention of men. Before they can be judged as either good or evil they must first be thought, because until they exist in someone's mind, there is nothing to judge. Where does sin come from? It comes from the human imagination when the product of the imagination is wrongly evaluated. "Oh, I could do such'n'such. Should I do it? Well, I'd like it and don't see why I shouldn't." But if one shouldn't, because it is immoral, the judgment, "I don't see why I shouldn't," is wrong and will result in a sinful act.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
Everything a human does, every choice, thought, and act must be consciously chosen.
Would you be a disbeliever in the unconscious?
If by the, "unconscious," you are referring to that Freudian invention (which was really Anna's claim to fame) and which is usually referred to as the "subconscious" today, I certainly deny that there is any such thing.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
Or would you contest the possibility of uninformed or semi-informed choice-making? Is it really true that everything humans do is consciously chosen?
Most of the choices most human beings make are, "uninformed." Everything a human does must be consciously chosen and every wrong choice is because one is ignorant of what is required to make a right choice. The necessity and ability to consciously choose everything does no mean choosing correctly. Volition is only the necessity and ability to choose, knowledge and reason are the means to choosing correctly. One's ability to choose correctly is limited by the limits of their knowledge and their ability to reason.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
I think all the rest of our difference on the nature of sin can be reduced to this one major difference: you believe sin is something that happens to people, (as well as perhaps what they choose and do,) I think sin is something one does and only what one does, and that nothing imposed on a human being by birth, or any other way is sin or contributes, in any way, to sinful behavior.
I'm not sure what you mean by "happens to people."
Whatever nature you are born with, about which you have no choice (and anything else that occurs in one's life over which they have no choice) is what, "happens to people," versus everything in ones life which is determined by their own choice (what they do and make of themselves). I have an old saying, "your life consists in what you do, not what happens to you. Things happen to a rock."
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
In this sense I believe Christian teaching of a sinful nature is just another of those teachings that human behavior is determined, curbed, or limited in some way, by one's heredity, social influences, instinct, brain chemicals, DNA, evolution, or sinful nature.

Christian teaching doesn't make the sinful nature an "excuse" at all. Calvinism might, perhaps. But the Bible doesn't support Total Depravity doctrine, or the idea that people do not know what they are doing and could not have chosen to do otherwise.

Here again is where the distinction between "sins" and "sin" is useful. "Sins" are optional: any individual action could have been resisted, or something else could have been chosen. Nobody is forced into it. However, "sin" is a general, penetrating quality of the realm in which we live, and our nature responds to it; so at some point, we're all going to be touched by "sin." Which "sins" we will commit, that's up to us; but that we will not escape the creeping, defiling work of sin in the world and the inclination to it in ourselves, that's something we cannot beat.
I'm sorry IC, but if something is inevitable and there is nothing I can do about it, when the inevitable occurs, it is something that happens to me, not something I did. I know Christians do not mean for the sinful nature to be an excuse for sin, but if something is inevitable, there really is no reason to struggle against it.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
Nothing makes any human being what they are as individuals. Every human being is, within the limits of their physical and psychological ability, whatever they choose to be.
Then you are a stronger, better man than I. I find myself sharing Paul's view:

"I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am!"
I considered using this passage up myself. [It is one of the first major contradictions I found in the Bible.] I would have used the entire passage:

7:17-23 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

This entire passage says what you deny, that one cannot choose not to sin, that there is something about the physical constitution of men (flesh, members) that compels them to sin, even if they choose otherwise. That much, as far as I'm concerned, only contradicts other clear passages that teach sin is something chosen. The worst contradiction is in these words, "Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me." If someone commits sin they may rightly be called a sinner, but if an individual does not commit sin, but something inside him does, he is not a sinner; whatever the thing inside him that commits the sin is the sinner. That, of course is absurd. Now you may say that's not what Paul meant, but I will regard that as just an attempt to explain away what is obviously wrong.

Personally I cannot conceive of what it would be like to believe my own life was out of my control, that something else, in any way, was in control of my behavior. It sounds Kafkaesque, like a passage from Dostoevsky's Note's From Underground.

On the other side I get this kind of criticism, "you think someone can be perfect? You mean you never do anything wrong?" which is equally as absurd. No human being is infallible, without weaknesses, has perfect knowledge, or never makes mistakes, but whatever a human does, good, bad, or indifferent, if it is not by his own conscious choice, he is out of control (because something else is controlling him), which makes him either a slave or a psychotic.

Perhaps no one ever lives without ever doing anything morally wrong, but there is nothing in human nature that makes that inevitable. I think those who believe it is impossible to live without ever doing what is morally wrong do not understand what moral principles are. They are not restrictions on behavior, they are those principles one must live by to live successfully and happily in this world. To violate a moral principle, to intentionally do what one knows is wrong is self-defeating and self-destructive. One who knows that is not going to choose his own destruction, no matter how strong a desire (feeling) he has to do what is morally wrong.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
Thanks for being reasonable and interesting in spite of our extreme differences. Very refreshing.
Thank you also. This is the ideal of what this forum should be, and what I wish it were at all times: two people showing mutual respect and decency to each other, while they discuss ideas important to them in a rational and civil way, and liking the persons their discussion makes them into.

It's a distinct pleasure whenever it happens. And whether we end up agreeing or not is not the decisive factor of whether or not this has been a good conversation: what seems to me to be the test is whether you and I are able to feel benefit by our exchange of ideas, and to part feeling that we are not ashamed of our behavior, and would be happy to sit down to a beer together at the pub if such an eventuality were ever possible.
I'm not sure how much benefit you will gain from my arguments beyond the pleasure of a good rigorous discussion. I enjoy the mental exercise, because it helps me refine my understanding of how others think and come to their conclusions. How dull life would be if everyone were like me, (though there is very little danger of that).

I really liked the way you put it, that we can "part feeling that we are not ashamed of our behavior, and would be happy to sit down to a beer together at the pub." I would very much enjoy that, if I can bring my wife.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can » Sat Aug 24, 2019 5:51 pm

RCSaunders wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 3:01 pm
Hi IC,

...not so important as keeping the discourse cordial and interesting.
Quite so. Point taken.
...something is only cold relative to something else (or a specific temperature). Whenever we use relative words like that, the standard measurement, or velocity, or temperature is implied or understood.
Oh, I see now. You mean "relative-to-standard," not "relative-to-perspective" or rather, "relative-to-utility."

Yes, I agree. A standard defines the "good" or "bad" of a thing. It's the legitimacy of the particular standard that has to be settled.
You provided the perfect example:
The goal in itself can be "good" or "evil," for instance, regardless of the efficacy of the measure in achieving it. "Good" gas chambers are still instruments of evil. And those who want to make gas chambers still have a moral defect in their characters, and desires for that which is evil.


The objective of making gas chambers is only evil if one's objective is to preserve the life of the innocent and prevent the wanton murder and torture of other human beings.

I can't see how a gas chamber would be employed to prevent murder. Indeed, just having the darn thing around makes it almost inevitable that one day, given enough time and human nature being what it is, the thing's going to get employed for its most efficient usage, which is turning numbers of human beings into corpses quickly and quietly.

I would think gas chambers are a good example of a technology that is just ultimately never good to have around.

Or did you mean rather to say, "One would only know gas chambers were evil if one knew already that not-murdering was good?" The wording there is capable of both readings.
If your moral principals allowed the use of individuals for the sake of the collective for example, as all of collectivism does, it would be very difficult to make the case that gas chambers are evil, so long as it was for the sake of "society as a whole," or "mankind," or "the environment."
Exactly so.

The irony is that the alleged "greatness" of the cause to which the collective summons its members is proportional to the evils to which that collective is able to mobilize those members.

What I mean is this: people might balk at killing folks for the sake of a cause like "more frequent ice cream," but would entertain doing it if the cause was "justice," "equality" or "the ideal state," let alone "the historical destiny of the nation or race." When gas chambers were employed most famously, it was at the hands of those committed to the utopian dream of human genetic perfectibility.

For such a lofty cause, the collective will do any wickedness, it would seem.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
Oh, I see. So you're agreeing that there is such a thing as a sin of thought or a sin of intention, as well as a sin of action; you're just saying that you don't think the source of the thoughts or the actions is a feature intrinsic to the human character.

Have I got that right?
Yes.
Great. Thanks for clarifying.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
If so, I would ask where these thoughts, these preludes to action, originate, if not in the human character? If there is sin (or evil) in the world, and sin in people's thoughts and actions, from whence does this come?
I have honestly never understood this question.

Well, it's simple, really.

We all agree that whatever "evil"is, it's a bad thing. That's what the word means. But given that it's a bad thing, we should all just be sensible and realize that it's not worth doing, and then not do it.

However, we do. Not only that, we even do things we know and would publicly acknowledge as evil -- things we would forbid other people to do, or would evince shock and horror and seeing them do. People smoke, even though everybody knows it produces the great evil of cancer. People watch pornography, even though they know they are thereby funding and enabling sexual exploitation of horrendous types. I might be appalled at your lack of character if you coerced your subordinate into sexual favours...and yet, if I did it, I would tell you that my secretary was willing, that we are both adults, that I didn't directly threaten to take her job, that I no longer love my wife and that she no longer loves her husband (the children? Well, who cares)...and so on. For my sin, I will have a million excuses; but for yours and others', perhaps none. And that too is a sin: the sin of hypocrisy, of which we are all sometimes guilty.

So where does this impulse to do evil and then excuse it come from? It's not in the natural world anywhere, so far as I can see. It looks to me like it's a product of my mind working on what's available to me in the world. But then, that means that the element that makes sin happen is me. If it were not, then sin simply would not exist. Why is it that I use my "imagination" and "invention" to do evil?
Where does sin come from? It comes from the human imagination when the product of the imagination is wrongly evaluated. "Oh, I could do such'n'such. Should I do it? Well, I'd like it and don't see why I shouldn't." But if one shouldn't, because it is immoral, the judgment, "I don't see why I shouldn't," is wrong and will result in a sinful act.
Quite right.

But as I say, my problem is not generally "lack of information." I'm not merely "wrongly evaluating" what I'm doing. I know very well what I'm doing if I were to surf pornography or drink away my pay check and give my wife and children nothing. I know I'm lying when I lie about my achievements and puff myself to others. It's just that I want to do those things anyway.

What is this faculty I have of making "evil" decisions that I know to be "evil"? Decisions, even, that I would roundly condemn in sanctimonious terms, if they should appear in you instead of me? Why are we capable of that, if we humans are so well-organized?
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
Everything a human does, every choice, thought, and act must be consciously chosen.
Would you be a disbeliever in the unconscious?
If by the, "unconscious," you are referring to that Freudian invention (which was really Anna's claim to fame) and which is usually referred to as the "subconscious" today, I certainly deny that there is any such thing.
Wow. Interesting.

I'm reading Jung right now. I think he's about as crazy on that point as a bedbug. Freud's wild, but Jung's absolutely lunatic. However, I would have to give both men their "limited" due, and say that there is something called "the unconscious." There's too much evidence for it, I think.
Most of the choices most human beings make are, "uninformed."
This is a good point.

In fact, we could say that every decision everyone ever made is uninformed, if perfect information is what we mean. I guess we'd have to say "sufficiently informed." But even then, there's the old critique of Consequentialism: namely, that we don't know what "outcomes" will come out of the things we choose, even when we suppose we do.

In that case, what does it mean to have "choice"? Clearly, it doesn't mean, and can't mean, that we have perfect information. That never happens. There is an element to our volition that is beyond controlling and beyond knowing. So what makes volition "genuine"? That's a searching question.

I'm not angling for a particular answer, I'm just pondering here...
I'm not sure what you mean by "happens to people."
Whatever nature you are born with, about which you have no choice (and anything else that occurs in one's life over which they have no choice) is what, "happens to people," versus everything in ones life which is determined by their own choice (what they do and make of themselves). I have an old saying, "your life consists in what you do, not what happens to you. Things happen to a rock."
:) True.

However, things do "happen" to us as well, at least in part. We might think we're in control of what we do, and in some measure, I believe we clearly are. But it's not a perfect thing, that's for sure. It's not the case that "choice" or "volition" are fully informed, free of exigencies and without unforeseen side effects.
Here again is where the distinction between "sins" and "sin" is useful. "Sins" are optional: any individual action could have been resisted, or something else could have been chosen. Nobody is forced into it. However, "sin" is a general, penetrating quality of the realm in which we live, and our nature responds to it; so at some point, we're all going to be touched by "sin." Which "sins" we will commit, that's up to us; but that we will not escape the creeping, defiling work of sin in the world and the inclination to it in ourselves, that's something we cannot beat.
I'm sorry IC, but if something is inevitable and there is nothing I can do about it, when the inevitable occurs, it is something that happens to me, not something I did. I know Christians do not mean for the sinful nature to be an excuse for sin, but if something is inevitable, there really is no reason to struggle against it.
It's not inevitable. In Christian thought (as opposed to Calvinist Determinism as well as Materialist Determinism) the human story begins with an unimpeded choice between good and evil. It continues with the stories of people who had that option to do the right thing, and had the option to do the wrong thing, and tells what they did. But moral freedom is written throughout. People are held responsible because they are response-able, if you get my pun. They could do the right thing or the wrong thing. That's not Determinism.

However, that only accounts for "sins," not for "sin." That is, it does not explain why human beings are ever attracted (often quite knowingly, too) to evil choices. It's not that all their choices are bad: some are clearly good. We often choose good things, and sometimes even for the right reasons. And this fact shows that choice is genuine -- we are not, contrary to Total Depravity doctrine, demons beyond even consciousness of sin, devoid of volition and incapable of awareness of God. But there's also that other element that enables us not to do good things, or to act contrary to them.

"Sin" is not a natural feature of our characters. It's an invading side effect, so to speak; it's the byproduct of alienation from God. Prior to the fall, human beings are simply called "good." But now, this inclination toward sin is embedded in us from the start -- nobody sits us down and asks us when we'd like to get started sinning; we just all do it. At some point, we make the first selfish, knowing decision to harm or mislead another person in some way. And it seems that after that, it gets easy to do the rest.

It turns out that we are the kind of people who do that kind of thing. That is not the totality of the story on us, but it's an element that cannot be written out of the story. So two problems exist, Biblically speaking: the evil that men do, and the evil in men that leads them to do the evil that men do.

Again, nowhere in this story does Determinism come into play.
7:17-23 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

This entire passage says what you deny, that one cannot choose not to sin,
In a sense, you're right; but not in another sense.

When you say, "one cannot choose not to sin," we would have to add the word "always." There is not the implication in this passage that ALL one can do is sin. In fact, Paul says he knows the good (Calvinists say he couldn't.) And clearly, when we look at the life of Paul, he DID good. The Biblical record says he performed charity and delivered great messages of hope, and travelled widely for the good of others, among other things. He wasn't just a nice guy, he was a guy everybody else looked to as a high Christian standard. And it's not the case, as per Calvinism, that Paul has no good intentions. Here even says, "when I would do good."

But here Paul's not talking about merely the possibility of doing something good once or twice, but rather of the universal standard of righteousness. That means, among other things, "the way things should be, if all were as it should be." It means perfect rightness. It's also associated exclusively with the character of God.

Paul's saying, "When I try to be the kind of perfect I ought to be to meet God's standard, I fail." And he's saying that in him is a principle -- I have used the word "sin," as opposed to "sins," to describe it -- it's a "falling short" (literal meaning) of the standard of the righteousness of God (Romans 3:23). And Paul's good intentions and volitions are not getting him where he knows he should be.
The worst contradiction is in these words, "Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me." If someone commits sin they may rightly be called a sinner, but if an individual does not commit sin, but something inside him does, he is not a sinner; whatever the thing inside him that commits the sin is the sinner. That, of course is absurd. Now you may say that's not what Paul meant, but I will regard that as just an attempt to explain away what is obviously wrong.
Actually, there is a good explanation. It's simply this: Paul is speaking in that passage of the experience of any man -- Christian or not -- who turns to his own abilities ("the flesh") to make him righteous. What any such man finds is that the resources to achieve this are simply not there. You can't make yourself good. You can do good sometimes, but then you're going to do bad at other times: and just as a lie is a composite of truth and falsehood, so too sin is a composite of the good and the corrupt. This corrupting force that exists inside every person is the thing over which Paul is meditating.

But what happen when, like Paul, you've recognized your sinful state and repented of it? What happens when you know the law of God (as Paul says he did, "agreeing that it is good"), and when you try to be totally righteous, you fail? Worse than that, every single time you try to do the right thing, you find it's already being rained with some admixture of selfishness, greed, lust, etc.?

Now, how miserable is that, Paul? You know the right thing, but you're hung up as to your own ability to do it. You're strung up between heaven and earth, so to speak. You are taught by righteousness that you are a failure, but this knowledge does you no good at all, because you can't meet the standard or excuse your own sins...no wonder, then, he cries out, "O wretched man that I am; who will set me free from the body of this death?"

But his answer? "Thanks be to God, through our Lord Jesus Christ." In Christ, not only are sins forgiven, but the sin nature is addressed as well. It remains the case that in our flesh is no resource for righteousness; but to the extent that we know Christ, there is freedom even from the worst of this. Moreover, there is the future promise of absolute deliverance, even if now we still struggle in a fallen world, with fallen natures.

It is in this sense that Paul is able to separate himself from "the thing inside him," as you call it. He comes to realize that "it" is not him. It is the temporary effects in his flesh of a fallen world, one to which, in Christ, he owes nothing and from which he is destined to be relieved. One day, it will have no hold on him at all. There will be a "Paul," Paul's genuine self, but no suffering with sin at all. And it is in that fact, that he is not doomed to sin, that he is delighted, and writes, as the chapter continues into Romans 8:

"For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God"

Here, the way out is described fully. And very clearly, in context, that is what Paul has in mind. He's not excusing himself based on saying, "I didn't do it; something else did." He's saying, "That failure is not the final fact, or ultimate truth, about me." There's more to say, especially by means of the mind set on the spirit through Christ. I'm forgiven, I'm being progressively freed, and one day, I'm going to be totally free of that." So my "obligation" is not to "live according to the flesh," but to walk "according to the spirit," from here on. When I fail that's taken care of; and when I succeed, I am acting like a true "son of God."
Personally I cannot conceive of what it would be like to believe my own life was out of my control, that something else, in any way, was in control of my behavior. It sounds Kafkaesque, like a passage from Dostoevsky's Note's From Underground.
What Paul's saying is that that is a reality for anyone who thinks they can make themselves righteous without Christ. They are out of options. Then there are only two ways to go: be one of the people who denies that righteousness is important, or be one of those people who pretends they have it when they don't. And both are really slaves, because they can't face the reality of what they are. They will simply do what that thing he calls "the flesh" tells them to do, and they will never know freedom from that, because freedom only comes when one's identity can be legitimately separated from "the flesh," by some means that still meets the standard of righteousness. Absent that, there's no freedom from it at all.
On the other side I get this kind of criticism, "you think someone can be perfect? You mean you never do anything wrong?" which is equally as absurd. No human being is infallible, without weaknesses, has perfect knowledge, or never makes mistakes, but whatever a human does, good, bad, or indifferent, if it is not by his own conscious choice, he is out of control (because something else is controlling him), which makes him either a slave or a psychotic.
Ah, I can see that you clearly have a conception of what Paul meant by "righteousness."

The people who say, "Yeah, well, you're not perfect," and so on, have the idea that God has some sort of scale in his hand, to balance off the good and bad things about us; and that like a corrupt Judge, he will let us have a walk on our sins if we've done enough other stuff. But righteousness is not like that: it's like a pane of glass -- break it at one point, and it's broken. The hole may be big or small, but it's broken. And God is not an unrighteous Judge who winks at sin. All will be answered: either with the answer in Christ, or with whatever answer one can fabricate for the choices one made.
Perhaps no one ever lives without ever doing anything morally wrong, but there is nothing in human nature that makes that inevitable.
It's not in "human nature," because one can be "human" without having it. We're told Adam did. He was "human," but at one time, innocent. So "fallible" is not necessary to the definition "human." But empirically, it's the easiest fact on earth to establish, that human beings are now fallible -- and worse, often unrighteous or sinful.
I think those who believe it is impossible to live without ever doing what is morally wrong do not understand what moral principles are. They are not restrictions on behavior, they are those principles one must live by to live successfully and happily in this world.

"Successfully"? "Happily"?

Would that morality were that simple! Would that good deeds were inevitably rewarded with success and happiness in this world. Would that our well-being were so easy to locate, and would that we could see our destruction coming in every evil decision. It would make morality so simple!

But it is not so. Here, the good often suffer and the bad...become politicians. :wink:
I'm not sure how much benefit you will gain from my arguments beyond the pleasure of a good rigorous discussion. I enjoy the mental exercise, because it helps me refine my understanding of how others think and come to their conclusions. How dull life would be if everyone were like me, (though there is very little danger of that).
Well, I feel benefit. And please, feel free to use any exchange with me to drill down and refine your own thinking about things. It's how I feel benefitted by yours, really; you make me think harder about why I believe what I believe. And maybe you'll change my mind about something. That too would be a gift.
I really liked the way you put it, that we can "part feeling that we are not ashamed of our behavior, and would be happy to sit down to a beer together at the pub." I would very much enjoy that, if I can bring my wife.
I have an excellent one too. We'll make a party of it.

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RCSaunders
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by RCSaunders » Sun Aug 25, 2019 4:08 am

I'll begin with where we agree, IC
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 5:51 pm
Yes, I agree. A standard defines the "good" or "bad" of a thing. It's the legitimacy of the particular standard that has to be settled.

The goal in itself can be "good" or "evil," for instance, regardless of the efficacy of the measure in achieving it. "Good" gas chambers are still instruments of evil. And those who want to make gas chambers still have a moral defect in their characters, and desires for that which is evil.
Yes.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 5:51 pm
The objective of making gas chambers is only evil if one's objective is to preserve the life of the innocent and prevent the wanton murder and torture of other human beings.

I can't see how a gas chamber would be employed to prevent murder. Indeed, just having the darn thing around makes it almost inevitable that one day, given enough time and human nature being what it is, the thing's going to get employed for its most efficient usage, which is turning numbers of human beings into corpses quickly and quietly.

I would think gas chambers are a good example of a technology that is just ultimately never good to have around.

Or did you mean rather to say, "One would only know gas chambers were evil if one knew already that not-murdering was good?" The wording there is capable of both readings.
I meant the latter. The confusion was my fault.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 5:51 pm
If your moral principals allowed the use of individuals for the sake of the collective for example, as all of collectivism does, it would be very difficult to make the case that gas chambers are evil, so long as it was for the sake of "society as a whole," or "mankind," or "the environment."
Exactly so.

The irony is that the alleged "greatness" of the cause to which the collective summons its members is proportional to the evils to which that collective is able to mobilize those members.

What I mean is this: people might balk at killing folks for the sake of a cause like "more frequent ice cream," but would entertain doing it if the cause was "justice," "equality" or "the ideal state," let alone "the historical destiny of the nation or race." When gas chambers were employed most famously, it was at the hands of those committed to the utopian dream of human genetic perfectibility.

For such a lofty cause, the collective will do any wickedness, it would seem.
We totally agree here.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
If so, I would ask where these thoughts, these preludes to action, originate, if not in the human character? If there is sin (or evil) in the world, and sin in people's thoughts and actions, from whence does this come?
I have honestly never understood this question.

Well, it's simple, really.

We all agree that whatever "evil" is, it's a bad thing. That's what the word means. But given that it's a bad thing, we should all just be sensible and realize that it's not worth doing, and then not do it.
It's not how I'd say it, but essentially that is correct, except that most people do not know which things are evil or bad and certainly do not understand that choosing wrong is never in one's own self-interest. If they knew that evil (or the immoral) was, in every way, detrimental to themselves, they would not do it. It is because they are deceived about the nature of evil or immorality that they practice it.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
However, we do. Not only that, we even do things we know and would publicly acknowledge as evil -- things we would forbid other people to do, or would evince shock and horror and seeing them do. People smoke, even though everybody knows it produces the great evil of cancer. People watch pornography, even though they know they are thereby funding and enabling sexual exploitation of horrendous types. I might be appalled at your lack of character if you coerced your subordinate into sexual favours...and yet, if I did it, I would tell you that my secretary was willing, that we are both adults, that I didn't directly threaten to take her job, that I no longer love my wife and that she no longer loves her husband (the children? Well, who cares)...and so on. For my sin, I will have a million excuses; but for yours and others', perhaps none. And that too is a sin: the sin of hypocrisy, of which we are all sometimes guilty.
Please do not be offended, but who is the "we" you refer to. It does not include me and it does not include many I know or have known. Perhaps you spend your time with the wrong people.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
So where does this impulse to do evil and then excuse it come from? It's not in the natural world anywhere, so far as I can see. It looks to me like it's a product of my mind working on what's available to me in the world. But then, that means that the element that makes sin happen is me. If it were not, then sin simply would not exist. Why is it that I use my "imagination" and "invention" to do evil?
I actually have no idea why most people make the choices they do. Much of what others choose seems almost insane to me, but when I talk to them, they seem fairly rational. I know in principle what is required for making choices. One cannot do what is physically impossible (although some idiots actually try to make such choices). One cannot choose what one does no know there is to choose. One cannot choose to do what they do not have the knowledge to do, like being a chemist, surgeon, or historian with no knowledge of chemistry, human anatomy, or that past. One cannot make choices which require thinking that is beyond their ability to think. Since most people are quite ignorant (have little knowledge beyond that required to survive from day to day), and are also stupid, (unable to think of anything more difficult than what to have for breakfast or wear that day), I am much more surprised when people make right choices than wrong ones.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
But as I say, my problem is not generally "lack of information." I'm not merely "wrongly evaluating" what I'm doing. I know very well what I'm doing if I were to surf pornography or drink away my pay check and give my wife and children nothing. I know I'm lying when I lie about my achievements and puff myself to others. It's just that I want to do those things anyway.
No matter how much you want or desire to do something, that want or desire cannot force you to do it. If you do any of them, you either lie to yourself or are deceived in some other way into thinking the thing is not going to have unforgivable consequences, that somehow, you'll get away with it, (or perhaps the consequences are worth it), because if you were certain your act would have permanent disastrous consequences you would like less than whatever "pleasure" your sin would provide, you would not choose to do it.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
What is this faculty I have of making "evil" decisions that I know to be "evil"? Decisions, even, that I would roundly condemn in sanctimonious terms, if they should appear in you instead of me? Why are we capable of that, if we humans are so well-organized?
Who said humans are well-organized. Most people's psychologies and lives are total disasters. If you think you make evil decisions that you know are evil, you have simply deceived yourself, most likely about the nature of evil itself and that it is the one thing that can only hurt you and never benefit you, no matter how nice and desirable it seems.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
I'm reading Jung right now. I think he's about as crazy on that point as a bedbug. Freud's wild, but Jung's absolutely lunatic. However, I would have to give both men their "limited" due, and say that there is something called "the unconscious." There's too much evidence for it, I think.
There is, in fact, no evidence of the, "unconscious," or, "subconscious." I have written two articles about the subconscious, a short one, "No Subconscious," (with a nice picture of Anna and her father), and longer one, "Dr. Edith Packer's, Lectures on Psychology, The "Subconscious" Fallacy."
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
In that case, what does it mean to have "choice"? Clearly, it doesn't mean, and can't mean, that we have perfect information.
Why would it?
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
"Successfully"? "Happily"?

Would that morality were that simple! Would that good deeds were inevitably rewarded with success and happiness in this world. Would that our well-being were so easy to locate, and would that we could see our destruction coming in every evil decision. It would make morality so simple!

But it is not so.
Moral principles are simple, though the details are complex and working them out is the most difficult thing there is in life but also the only thing worth living for. There are no short-cuts to success and happiness, but they are available to everyone who chooses to pursue them.

There are no guarantees in life. One must earn everything and be the best one can possibly be as a human being and even then there will be failures and disappointments, but anything short of being the best one can be in all things does guarantee a life, that at best, will be disappointing, but more likely a life of suffering and regret.

One quick question: What is sin?

I have to get to bed. Enjoyed as always. I'd love to meet your wife, but I have to warn you, I fall in love with almost every woman I meet. I'm a helpless romantic. Beautiful music, women, and children make cry, and my wife adores me for it. I'm very fortunate.

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RCSaunders
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by RCSaunders » Sun Aug 25, 2019 3:18 pm

RCSaunders wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 4:08 am
I'll begin with where we agree, IC
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 5:51 pm
Yes, I agree. A standard defines the "good" or "bad" of a thing. It's the legitimacy of the particular standard that has to be settled.

The goal in itself can be "good" or "evil," for instance, regardless of the efficacy of the measure in achieving it. "Good" gas chambers are still instruments of evil. And those who want to make gas chambers still have a moral defect in their characters, and desires for that which is evil.
Yes.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 5:51 pm
The objective of making gas chambers is only evil if one's objective is to preserve the life of the innocent and prevent the wanton murder and torture of other human beings.

I can't see how a gas chamber would be employed to prevent murder. Indeed, just having the darn thing around makes it almost inevitable that one day, given enough time and human nature being what it is, the thing's going to get employed for its most efficient usage, which is turning numbers of human beings into corpses quickly and quietly.

I would think gas chambers are a good example of a technology that is just ultimately never good to have around.

Or did you mean rather to say, "One would only know gas chambers were evil if one knew already that not-murdering was good?" The wording there is capable of both readings.
I meant the latter. The confusion was my fault.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 5:51 pm
If your moral principals allowed the use of individuals for the sake of the collective for example, as all of collectivism does, it would be very difficult to make the case that gas chambers are evil, so long as it was for the sake of "society as a whole," or "mankind," or "the environment."
Exactly so.

The irony is that the alleged "greatness" of the cause to which the collective summons its members is proportional to the evils to which that collective is able to mobilize those members.

What I mean is this: people might balk at killing folks for the sake of a cause like "more frequent ice cream," but would entertain doing it if the cause was "justice," "equality" or "the ideal state," let alone "the historical destiny of the nation or race." When gas chambers were employed most famously, it was at the hands of those committed to the utopian dream of human genetic perfectibility.

For such a lofty cause, the collective will do any wickedness, it would seem.
We totally agree here.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
If so, I would ask where these thoughts, these preludes to action, originate, if not in the human character? If there is sin (or evil) in the world, and sin in people's thoughts and actions, from whence does this come?
I have honestly never understood this question.

Well, it's simple, really.

We all agree that whatever "evil" is, it's a bad thing. That's what the word means. But given that it's a bad thing, we should all just be sensible and realize that it's not worth doing, and then not do it.
It's not how I'd say it, but essentially that is correct, except that most people do not know which things are evil or bad and certainly do not understand that choosing wrong is never in one's own self-interest. If they knew that evil (or the immoral) was, in every way, detrimental to themselves, they would not do it. It is because they are deceived about the nature of evil or immorality that they practice it.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
However, we do. Not only that, we even do things we know and would publicly acknowledge as evil -- things we would forbid other people to do, or would evince shock and horror and seeing them do. People smoke, even though everybody knows it produces the great evil of cancer. People watch pornography, even though they know they are thereby funding and enabling sexual exploitation of horrendous types. I might be appalled at your lack of character if you coerced your subordinate into sexual favours...and yet, if I did it, I would tell you that my secretary was willing, that we are both adults, that I didn't directly threaten to take her job, that I no longer love my wife and that she no longer loves her husband (the children? Well, who cares)...and so on. For my sin, I will have a million excuses; but for yours and others', perhaps none. And that too is a sin: the sin of hypocrisy, of which we are all sometimes guilty.
Please do not be offended, but who is the "we" you refer to. It does not include me and it does not include many I know or have known. Perhaps you spend your time with the wrong people.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
So where does this impulse to do evil and then excuse it come from? It's not in the natural world anywhere, so far as I can see. It looks to me like it's a product of my mind working on what's available to me in the world. But then, that means that the element that makes sin happen is me. If it were not, then sin simply would not exist. Why is it that I use my "imagination" and "invention" to do evil?
I actually have no idea why most people make the choices they do. Much of what others choose seems almost insane to me, but when I talk to them, they seem fairly rational. I know in principle what is required for making choices. One cannot do what is physically impossible (although some idiots actually try to make such choices). One cannot choose what one does no know there is to choose. One cannot choose to do what they do not have the knowledge to do, like being a chemist, surgeon, or historian with no knowledge of chemistry, human anatomy, or that past. One cannot make choices which require thinking that is beyond their ability to think. Since most people are quite ignorant (have little knowledge beyond that required to survive from day to day), and are also stupid, (unable to think of anything more difficult than what to have for breakfast or wear that day), I am much more surprised when people make right choices than wrong ones.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
But as I say, my problem is not generally "lack of information." I'm not merely "wrongly evaluating" what I'm doing. I know very well what I'm doing if I were to surf pornography or drink away my pay check and give my wife and children nothing. I know I'm lying when I lie about my achievements and puff myself to others. It's just that I want to do those things anyway.
No matter how much you want or desire to do something, that want or desire cannot force you to do it. If you do any of them, you either lie to yourself or are deceived in some other way into thinking the thing is not going to have unforgivable consequences, that somehow, you'll get away with it, (or perhaps the consequences are worth it), because if you were certain your act would have permanent disastrous consequences you would like less than whatever "pleasure" your sin would provide, you would not choose to do it.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
What is this faculty I have of making "evil" decisions that I know to be "evil"? Decisions, even, that I would roundly condemn in sanctimonious terms, if they should appear in you instead of me? Why are we capable of that, if we humans are so well-organized?
Who said humans are well-organized. Most people's psychologies and lives are total disasters. If you think you make evil decisions that you know are evil, you have simply deceived yourself, most likely about the nature of evil itself and that it is the one thing that can only hurt you and never benefit you, no matter how nice and desirable it seems.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
I'm reading Jung right now. I think he's about as crazy on that point as a bedbug. Freud's wild, but Jung's absolutely lunatic. However, I would have to give both men their "limited" due, and say that there is something called "the unconscious." There's too much evidence for it, I think.
There is, in fact, no evidence of the, "unconscious," or, "subconscious." I have written two articles about the subconscious, a short one, "No Subconscious," (with a nice picture of Anna and her father), and longer one, "Dr. Edith Packer's, Lectures on Psychology, The "Subconscious" Fallacy."
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
In that case, what does it mean to have "choice"? Clearly, it doesn't mean, and can't mean, that we have perfect information.
Why would it?
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
"Successfully"? "Happily"?

Would that morality were that simple! Would that good deeds were inevitably rewarded with success and happiness in this world. Would that our well-being were so easy to locate, and would that we could see our destruction coming in every evil decision. It would make morality so simple!

But it is not so.
Moral principles are simple, though the details are complex and working them out is the most difficult thing there is in life but also the only thing worth living for. There are no short-cuts to success and happiness, but they are available to everyone who chooses to pursue them.

There are no guarantees in life. One must earn everything and be the best one can possibly be as a human being and even then there will be failures and disappointments, but anything short of being the best one can be in all things does guarantee a life, that at best, will be disappointing, but more likely a life of suffering and regret.

One quick question: What is sin?

I have to get to bed. Enjoyed as always. I'd love to meet your wife, but I have to warn you, I fall in love with almost every woman I meet. I'm a helpless romantic. Beautiful music, women, and children make me cry, and my wife adores me for it. I'm very fortunate.

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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can » Sun Aug 25, 2019 3:41 pm

Thanks again for your thoughts, RC, even at the expense of bedtime.

I see we agree on an awful lot. I'll simply "nod" at all that, and move to things that we can still work over, if that's fine with you. I don't fail to note the agreement with some pleasure, though.
RCSaunders wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 4:08 am
If so, I would ask where these thoughts, these preludes to action, originate, if not in the human character? If there is sin (or evil) in the world, and sin in people's thoughts and actions, from whence does this come?

We all agree that whatever "evil" is, it's a bad thing. That's what the word means. But given that it's a bad thing, we should all just be sensible and realize that it's not worth doing, and then not do it.
It's not how I'd say it, but essentially that is correct, except that most people do not know which things are evil or bad and certainly do not understand that choosing wrong is never in one's own self-interest. If they knew that evil (or the immoral) was, in every way, detrimental to themselves, they would not do it. It is because they are deceived about the nature of evil or immorality that they practice it.
Okay: but why are we the kinds of creatures that can be deceived in that way? How is it, we might ask, that we are so often wrong in our relation to moral judgments, to others, and to the world? How has it become so?

Animals do not experience this. Their relations to the world are instinctive, and they have no moral qualms. But we do. That is really worth pondering. And equally worth puzzling over is why our moral judgments are so bad sometimes.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
However, we do. Not only that, we even do things we know and would publicly acknowledge as evil -- things we would forbid other people to do, or would evince shock and horror and seeing them do. People smoke, even though everybody knows it produces the great evil of cancer. People watch pornography, even though they know they are thereby funding and enabling sexual exploitation of horrendous types. I might be appalled at your lack of character if you coerced your subordinate into sexual favours...and yet, if I did it, I would tell you that my secretary was willing, that we are both adults, that I didn't directly threaten to take her job, that I no longer love my wife and that she no longer loves her husband (the children? Well, who cares)...and so on. For my sin, I will have a million excuses; but for yours and others', perhaps none. And that too is a sin: the sin of hypocrisy, of which we are all sometimes guilty.
Please do not be offended, but who is the "we" you refer to. It does not include me and it does not include many I know or have known. Perhaps you spend your time with the wrong people.
I've spent a lot of time with a lot of people, actually. My career has been one of that sort. Some have been "the right sort," and some "the wrong." But it's not always easy to tell which is which, because people who represent themselves as very respectable may be secretly not, and people who are known for huge mistakes they've made may otherwise be fine people. It's a tricky business to know, actually.

I have met celebrated people of society who were secretly narcissists and remorseless exploiters of others. I have met a motorcycle-riding drug courier from a background of child abuse and alcoholism, who "went good" and became a very fine human being. Shakespeare was right: "There's no art to find the mind's construction in the face."

I should say that I'm not implying you are one of these: the "we" I mention was the human race in general, not persons in specific. But I don't think it's questionable that people do all the things I've listed above. You can probably think of specific cases, as I know I can. But I do not make myself out to be better than these -- for hypocrisy is the one sin that afflicts all of us, it seems, at least in some measure. We know standards we should have attained but did not; and we're reluctant to reveal to people that we have not been what we feel we should have been.

What Paul said is true: we know what is right to do; we just sometimes don't find we have the personal resources to do it. Or rather, we are not willing to put forth the sacrifice required to do it.
I am much more surprised when people make right choices than wrong ones.
This is precisely the kind of fact to which I am pointing.

If the world were a morally neutral place, and human beings were morally neutral or good, then we not only would be surprised when anybody did anything wrong, we'd be totally surprised if anybody ever did. That, in itself, would be a fact in need of explaining: how has this "good" (or neutral) creature, operating in a "good" (or neutral) world, suddenly manufactured a "wrong"? :shock: Very surprising.
No matter how much you want or desire to do something, that want or desire cannot force you to do it.
This is true. I agree.

However, when desires are strong, we need some strong counter-incentive to keep us from merely following the desire. Threats and fear work, to a limited extent; law-enforcement uses such things all the time. But law-enforcement doesn't catch most of what is going on, and we know it won't.

I saw a poster that had the words, "What do you do, when no one's watching?" That's the acid test of the character. When you know that what you want to do isn't really a good thing, but you really want to do it, and you're really sure nobody's going to know, what do you do? Unfortunately for us all, we tend to lapse morally when we don't feel we're watched.
If you do any of them, you either lie to yourself or are deceived in some other way into thinking the thing is not going to have unforgivable consequences, that somehow, you'll get away with it, (or perhaps the consequences are worth it), because if you were certain your act would have permanent disastrous consequences you would like less than whatever "pleasure" your sin would provide, you would not choose to do it.
Really?

Does the smoker not know he can induce cancer, or the gambler not know he's playing with his family's livelihood? Does the glutton not know she's destroying her own body? Does the pornographer not know he's exploiting adults and children, and does he not know he's defiling his own soul? Again, I don't think lack of information is the cause of most sin. We're pretty aware that what we do sometimes is wrong. And we are often well aware of the consequences. But we choose proximal satisfactions at the expense of even very profound evils.
Most people's psychologies and lives are total disasters. If you think you make evil decisions that you know are evil, you have simply deceived yourself, most likely about the nature of evil itself and that it is the one thing that can only hurt you and never benefit you, no matter how nice and desirable it seems.
I completely agree.

But how come we humans just don't 'get' that? Why are we the kinds of creatures who miss that obvious truth so often?
There is, in fact, no evidence of the, "unconscious," or, "subconscious." I have written two articles about the subconscious, a short one, "No Subconscious," (with a nice picture of Anna and her father), and longer one, "Dr. Edith Packer's, Lectures on Psychology, The "Subconscious" Fallacy."
Thanks: I will take some time with these. I have heard a lot of people enthuse about Jung. Personally, I find him speculative, in the first place, unscientific in all his methodology (despite his occasional bows at the shrine of academic rigour) in the second, and wildly unpredictable in his interpretations as well. He takes for granted the unconscious, and then "unpacks" it in the most bizarre ways. He reminds me of the Gnostics and occultists, who always have a "secret" meaning for things that was never obvious to anyone, and which common sense would not discover in a million years, and then pronounce on it with the all the confidence of priests.

I really must be missing some aspect of Jung, because I cannot figure out why this man got any attention at all. And he sure got a ton. But I'm going to keep looking. He must have something to offer.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
In that case, what does it mean to have "choice"? Clearly, it doesn't mean, and can't mean, that we have perfect information.
Why would it?

Well, some people think we're not genuinely "free," because to them, "free" would mean "absolutely unencumbered by influences other than personal will." Then they declare, "There's no such thing as freedom," and rule arbitrarily in favour of Determinism on that basis.

But I see no reason why "freedom" is ever absolute. We can all admit we come into this world with genetic, social and environmental constraints upon our choices, and yet, in the relevant sense, those choices can still be "free," in that we have some power to resist these pre-ordained influences, and to respond to them or not.

I would say that in that latter sense, we are indeed free, and choice is real. But it does not mean choice is easy or unencumbered by these things.'

Likewise, if human beings have a sin nature, that does not imply it's ALL they have. Like genetic, social and environmental influences, the sin nature can be something we are capable of resisting at least partially. And sometimes more. Sometimes we successfully resist it on particular points altogether, perhaps. But we do not win the war against it over the long haul, because it is tireless and we are not. And it is consistent, and we are not. And it is attracted to the selfish and expedient, and so are we.

So when the Bible says, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," it is not saying (as per Calvinism) that nobody ever does anything good. It's saying that, at some point, we're all going to lose the war. After that, we have become violators of the Law, and unrighteous, without exception.

But whenever that happened, that particular action was our choice. We were "free." We did not need to do that particular act. Yet we did. And the fact that we did also shows we were not, morally speaking, "up to the mark" in our personal attitudes as well.
There are no short-cuts to success and happiness, but they are available to everyone who chooses to pursue them.
It depends on what we define as "success" and "happiness." It's certainly not the case that we are guaranteed that if we pursue, say, economic fulfillment and personal emotional delight we are going to get them. Too many counterexamples abound.
One quick question: What is sin?
I thought perhaps I'd said this. Perhaps I did not.

Biblically, the word translated "sin" means literally "missing the mark," as in an arrow falling short of the bullseye. It means "not up to the standard of righteousness." And it doesn't specify degrees of that. There's only "hitting the mark," and "not hitting the mark," in this idiom.

But I also pointed to a distinction between the quantitative "sins," plural, referring to particular actions, and "sin" as a qualitative property, meaning that quality of persons or actions that are "short of the mark, not adequate to righteousness." Human beings commit sins, but are also inhabited by sin. A loose analogy might be that a drunk drinks a drink at a particular time and place, and maybe only once. But an alcoholic is more than a drunk: it's one for whom that action has an inner correspondence not present to one who is a mere drunk.

What "sin" (qualitative, singular) means, is that we are all not just "drunks" (i.e. committers of an individual "sin" or infraction) but alcoholics-in-waiting (or "sinners by nature").
Beautiful music, women, and children make cry, and my wife adores me for it. I'm very fortunate.
Aesthetic temperament. Well, there's nothing wrong with that. What does Lewis say in The Abolition of Man? I think it goes, "“For every one pupil who needs to be guarded against a weak excess of sensibility there are three who need to be awakened from the slumber of cold vulgarity."

It is a feature of the last century's "scientific" dogma that any response to these sensitivities is not only suspect, but must be eliminated for the sake of "objectivity." But God put beauty in this world. It too is an aspect of reality. And when we ignore it, we don't get better science, just colder hearts.

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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by f12hte » Sun Aug 25, 2019 4:36 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Aug 23, 2019 5:21 pm
f12hte wrote:
Fri Aug 23, 2019 4:56 pm
Have you ever heard of epigenetics?
Yes, but two problems: one is that at present, it's speculative.
It's just about as speculative as The Standard Model of Particle Physics. Observed epigenetic effects have been traced traced to changes in the expression of DNA.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Aug 23, 2019 5:21 pm
The second is that it's a method, not a moral. If epigenetics worked, it would not show that what we were "culturally transmitting" thereby was good, or right, or desirable. It might equally be bad, stupid or homicidal. Cultural transmission will not be guaranteed good by mere Collectivism: it would merely entail we would all be equally deluded, if things went bad.
Creatures which have not evolved to survive in the changing environment ultimately die out of natural causes. So genetic transmission of cultural traits which do not support survival in the prevailing environment are pruned away.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Aug 23, 2019 5:21 pm
It's bad enough that collectivists are over self-confident about "managing" masses of individuals within their own generation; it's unbelievably hubristic for them to imagine that they can "engineer" the cultural learning code, and thus "manage" the future generations. That's an Orwellian nightmare of the first order, really.
Don't you think that constantly equating my ideas to tyrannical, murderous dictatorships is a bit disingenuous? I am not advocating any rule or moral code. I don't believe that a just law is possible for a human or group of humans to come up with. What I envision is not based on objective rules, but on additional learning. Learning that the self and that the morality or lack thereof, which the self enforces is, in the end, wholly subjective ,and that we can not know what is objectively right. We build an image in our mind of an uncooperative world
which is out to curtail our pursuit of what we know is right. Empathy borne of self control and mindfulness is key. Everyone is going about their own righteousness in their own way. There is no ground for cooperation unless everyone surrenders some of his view of what is right and proper. Some will surrender more and some less, and some will not budge from their principles. But evolution will prune away those who do not yield their worldview to something that promotes enough cooperation to survive the prevailing environment.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can » Sun Aug 25, 2019 5:40 pm

f12hte wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 4:36 pm
Creatures which have not evolved to survive in the changing environment ultimately die out of natural causes. So genetic transmission of cultural traits which do not support survival in the prevailing environment are pruned away.
You realize, of course, that "organisms evolve" is one proposition, but "cultures evolve" is a totally different one, right? "Survival of the fittest" applies only to organisms; there's no similar mechanism for cultures. Cultures can be bad or good indefinitely, because they are not subject to predation or "selection" by any particular force.

And there's zero evidence for collective moral evolution. Rather, we seem to get both better and worse as our technologies are developed. We make cures and super-viruses at the same time, make bloodier warfare as we increase contact among countries, and as we develop our transportation we threaten the environmental future of the planet.

Collectivism just means that our next big mistake will be bigger.

But be that as it may, whatever the "collective" decides to do, it will have to be judged from a position outside the collective. If just being in a collective makes people "more right," then the Third Reich would have been "more right" than the people who hid Jews in their homes.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Aug 23, 2019 5:21 pm
It's bad enough that collectivists are over self-confident about "managing" masses of individuals within their own generation; it's unbelievably hubristic for them to imagine that they can "engineer" the cultural learning code, and thus "manage" the future generations. That's an Orwellian nightmare of the first order, really.
Don't you think that constantly equating my ideas to tyrannical, murderous dictatorships is a bit disingenuous?

Not really. That's the way Collectivism has always worked out in the real world. The more "collective" they get, the more tyranny and murder you find. You can't find a single exception, actually.

Look at countries like Sweden or Canada: mild socialism, heavy taxation, increasing political correctness and increasing elimination of individual rights. Then look at Cuba: significant collectivism, many human rights violations, restrictions on almost everything and equal poverty in the masses. Then look at China: massive collectivism, few freedoms, and mountains of corpses.

And you think we should be moving in that direction?
Empathy borne of self control and mindfulness is key.

Actually, "empathy" is vastly overestimated. Paul Bloom's written compellingly on this.

Much "empathy" is misguided and dangerous. To give an example, many silly people write fan letters to murderers in jail. Some even want to marry them. That's "empathetic" to them, no doubt: but it's completely crazy. Or read the book, "When Helping Hurts," which shows how badly misguided charity has harmed the Developing World..."empathetic," sure: but totally counterproductive.
There is no ground for cooperation unless everyone surrenders some of his view of what is right and proper.
Hey, any despot will agree with you. He will say, people must not be allowed to dissent anymore. Freedom of speech and criticism of public policy must be suppressed.

That's not a recommendation.

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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by f12hte » Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:11 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 5:40 pm
f12hte wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 4:36 pm
Creatures which have not evolved to survive in the changing environment ultimately die out of natural causes. So genetic transmission of cultural traits which do not support survival in the prevailing environment are pruned away.
You realize, of course, that "organisms evolve" is one proposition, but "cultures evolve" is a totally different one, right? "Survival of the fittest" applies only to organisms; there's no similar mechanism for cultures. Cultures can be bad or good indefinitely, because they are not subject to predation or "selection" by any particular force.

And there's zero evidence for collective moral evolution. Rather, we seem to get both better and worse as our technologies are developed. We make cures and super-viruses at the same time, make bloodier warfare as we increase contact among countries, and as we develop our transportation we threaten the environmental future of the planet.

Collectivism just means that our next big mistake will be bigger.

But be that as it may, whatever the "collective" decides to do, it will have to be judged from a position outside the collective. If just being in a collective makes people "more right," then the Third Reich would have been "more right" than the people who hid Jews in their homes.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Aug 23, 2019 5:21 pm
It's bad enough that collectivists are over self-confident about "managing" masses of individuals within their own generation; it's unbelievably hubristic for them to imagine that they can "engineer" the cultural learning code, and thus "manage" the future generations. That's an Orwellian nightmare of the first order, really.
Don't you think that constantly equating my ideas to tyrannical, murderous dictatorships is a bit disingenuous?

Not really. That's the way Collectivism has always worked out in the real world. The more "collective" they get, the more tyranny and murder you find. You can't find a single exception, actually.

Look at countries like Sweden or Canada: mild socialism, heavy taxation, increasing political correctness and increasing elimination of individual rights. Then look at Cuba: significant collectivism, many human rights violations, restrictions on almost everything and equal poverty in the masses. Then look at China: massive collectivism, few freedoms, and mountains of corpses.

And you think we should be moving in that direction?
Empathy borne of self control and mindfulness is key.

Actually, "empathy" is vastly overestimated. Paul Bloom's written compellingly on this.

Much "empathy" is misguided and dangerous. To give an example, many silly people write fan letters to murderers in jail. Some even want to marry them. That's "empathetic" to them, no doubt: but it's completely crazy. Or read the book, "When Helping Hurts," which shows how badly misguided charity has harmed the Developing World..."empathetic," sure: but totally counterproductive.
There is no ground for cooperation unless everyone surrenders some of his view of what is right and proper.
Hey, any despot will agree with you. He will say, people must not be allowed to dissent anymore. Freedom of speech and criticism of public policy must be suppressed.

That's not a recommendation.
So, you evidently feel that mankind has passed its azimuth and is headed for extinction; ill suited for survival in this environment? You feel that what we have, is the best we could have done? Or do you feel that the current world is as good as it could ever be, or at least good enough? What has your life taught you besides 'any attempt at collectivism is always met with repression and bloodshed.''? Anything positive? Have you given up on your species? Is that the right thing to do, in your experience? You bat away ideas very nicely, but do you have any of your own? But I do appreciate your sticking with me on this topic and I'm ready to move on. Your discomfort with collectivism is attributable to your experiences, just as my comfort with it is attributable to my worldview. But, in the end, a collective never hurts anyone; individuals do.

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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can » Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:32 pm

f12hte wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:11 pm
So, you evidently feel that mankind has passed its azimuth and is headed for extinction; ill suited for survival in this environment?
Where did you get that idea? It's not from something I said.

I only said that the ideas of "moral/cultural evolution" were illegitimate additions to the idea of naturalistic evolution, additions that have no empirical basis.
You feel that what we have, is the best we could have done? Or do you feel that the current world is as good as it could ever be, or at least good enough?
I said none of these things either.
What has your life taught you besides 'any attempt at collectivism is always met with repression and bloodshed.''?
It's not "my life" that taught us that: it's history. That, and present evidence as well, of course, because it's still happening in places like Hong Kong right now. Collectivist nightmares are multitudinous.

Meanwhile, you've been able to provide not a single example of the collectivist idea working, so you know the same history I do, apparently.
But, in the end, a collective never hurts anyone; individuals do.
Outstanding! One rarely sees such a manifestly untrue statement offered with such conviction. :D

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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by RCSaunders » Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:00 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:32 pm
But, in the end, a collective never hurts anyone; individuals do.
Outstanding! One rarely sees such a manifestly untrue statement offered with such conviction. :D
You answered to quickly, IC. f12hte is right. It is only individuals that do harm. It is only individuals that do anything. The collective view is just a way of seeing the sum of all individual behavior while ignoring the individuals that actually do it.

f12hte's observation is really quite stunning. It rips away the cloak of innocence from all collective evil, revealing all the horrible things done in the name of saving the community, society, the world, the environment, or future generations is nothing more than the sum of individual choices to make the world what they think it ought to be no matter what harm it does to anyone else.

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henry quirk
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"It is only individuals that do harm."

Post by henry quirk » Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:12 pm

There's the guy who waylays me on the street, demanding money and threatening violence if I don't comply.

There's the guy, sittin' in an office, demanding the gov's share of my money (a share determined by folks 'in' the gov, not me) and threatening violence if I don't comply.

Two individuals: worlds apart.

One, driven (in the wrong direction) by individual need; the other, a proxy for collective demand (institutionalized theft).

Seems to me: I have more to worry about from 'collective' than 'individual'.

Sure, 'collective' is just like-minded individuals. Consider, however, that 'one' is self-motivated while the organized many are other-motivated. That fellow in the office, on his own, won't come after me. He only targets me cuz he was told to by folks who were told to by folks who were told to by folks who were...

'Collective' is a kind of short circuit: self-direction (and self-responsibility) go out the window in favor of bein' automation.

Not sayin' the guy in the office isn't responsible for himself. Only sayin' you can't ignore the unfortunate feature of the psyche that makes 'collective' so attractive to so many folks.

It's the crux of so much that's crappy; the line between those who go out of their way to self-direct and those who'd direct or be directed.

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less wordy

Post by henry quirk » Sun Aug 25, 2019 8:19 pm

The soldier rapes a village, sez 'I was followin' orders'.

He's responsible for his crime but what about 'collective' is so attractive that he tosses out his compass and does what ordinarily he wouldn't?

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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Nick_A » Mon Aug 26, 2019 3:13 am

Man is analogous to a green plant. A healthy plant requires both healthy roots and sufficient sunlight to develop. The roots of a plant can flourish as long as it is nourished in rich soil. But soil is not enough. Healthy plant needs sunlight.

Man is like a green plant. A healthy culture serves the needs of soil for a plant. Without healthy soil or culture, the plant or the lower parts of the human soul becomes stunted and cannot grow properly.

Where sunlight nourishes the plant, the light of grace nourishes Man’s higher parts. It is what enables man to experience higher meaning and the quality of values necessary to support freedom.

The fact that an artificial divide remains between science and religion is really just proof of Man’s collective stupidity. It is the same with the artificial divide between the collective and the individual. A healthy society with healthy roots and receiving sufficient sunlight will serve the purpose of creating healthy individuals who inspire society to remember the balance between facts and values.

Secular culture becomes corrupt and denies grace. The result is that any of the goals of secularism manifest their opposite. The corrupt collective denies healthy individuality.
Humanism was not wrong in thinking that truth, beauty, liberty, and equality are of infinite value, but in thinking that man can get them for himself without grace. Simone Weil
How true. Rejecting the light of grace which nourishes our higher parts assures a sick culture in the same way that rejecting sunlight assures a sick plant. It is called progress.

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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by RCSaunders » Mon Aug 26, 2019 2:49 pm

Dear IC,
Just to observe a little propriety, which is so much missing these days. I'll get right to the point,
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 3:41 pm
Okay: but why are we the kinds of creatures that can be deceived in that way? How is it, we might ask, that we are so often wrong in our relation to moral judgments, to others, and to the world? How has it become so?

Animals do not experience this. Their relations to the world are instinctive, and they have no moral qualms. But we do. That is really worth pondering. And equally worth puzzling over is why our moral judgments are so bad sometimes.

I believe you have answered your own question. The animals cannot make mistakes because they have instinct, which provides them with the exactly right behavior required by their nature to live successfully as the kind of organisms they are. Instinct is exactly what human beings do not have. They have no automatic patterns of behavior because they have an entirely different conscious nature from the animals. Where animal have instinct to guide them, human beings are born with no "built-in" guides to behavior. The basic requirement of human nature is the requirement to learn how they must live to live successfully as the kind of beings they are. Where an animals every act is determined by their instinct, a human beings every act must be consciously chosen. In stead of instinct, human beings have minds which consist of three attributes, volition, intellect, and reason. While volition is the requirement and ability to consciously choose all one thinks and does, the intellect is the necessity and ability to gain and store knowledge, and reason is the necessity and ability to use that knowledg to make the judgements and evaluations necessary to make choices.

The necessity and ability to learn, think, and choose is not infallibility (like instinct). The volitional, intellectual, rational nature necessarily means one can be mistaken in what one learns, how one thinks, and what one chooses. Instinct provides the animals what many people wish for, some automatic way of having infallible knowledge, a guide to automatic right choices. It is a desire for the nature of an animal to relieve one of the necessity of doing the hard work of learning, thinking, and making right choices.

Why are human beings so easily deceived? Simply because they are too lazy to learn the truth (it's easier to believe what some authority teaches, or what everyone else believes, or what they, "feel," is right, or what some guru tells them. It makes them feel safe and secure. Reason is difficult requiring time and difficult mental gymnastics which for most people is just too hard when millions of experts are in the world to teach them short-cuts to knowledge and success, and that they are just as good and important as (or no worse than) anyone else, and that no matter what, "they'll be forgiven."
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
People smoke, even though everybody knows it produces the great evil of cancer.
In addition to the Bible you also accept government pronouncements as truth? Smoking does not cause cancer. There are disease causing organism, like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites, and disease causing vectors, like mosquitoes, sandflies, ticks, triatomine bugs, tsetse flies, fleas, aquatic snails, and lice. If one is infected with any of the disease causing organism or injected with a disease organism by a disease vector they will have the disease. It's not statistical, it's absolute. That is what "cause" means.

Almost every adult I knew growing up smoked and not one of them had lung cancer. I've smoked since I was fourteen. I do not have lung cancer. Even if there is a statistical correlation between smoking and cancer, to call that a cause is simply a lie. There is almost nothing one can consume or do that is not potentially a source of harm or disease.

Why would the government condemn a simple, inexpensive (before government imposed taxes), and harmless pleasure that made life a little more enjoyable for millions, when the welfare of individuals is the last concern of government, since "... the living God ... giveth us richly all things to enjoy." (I Tim. 6:17.) It is easier to repress people with empty promises when they are not already satisfied and enjoying their lives.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
I've spent a lot of time with a lot of people, actually. My career has been one of that sort. Some have been "the right sort," and some "the wrong." But it's not always easy to tell which is which, because people who represent themselves as very respectable may be secretly not, and people who are known for huge mistakes they've made may otherwise be fine people. It's a tricky business to know, actually.
Why would we need to know, unless a person's character directly relates to some business we have with them? What other people are, or are not, is not really our business, it it?
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
No matter how much you want or desire to do something, that want or desire cannot force you to do it.
This is true. I agree.

However, when desires are strong, we need some strong counter-incentive to keep us from merely following the desire. Threats and fear work, to a limited extent; law-enforcement uses such things all the time. But law-enforcement doesn't catch most of what is going on, and we know it won't.
You've switched from considering how individuals resist temptation to how others can be controlled to resist theirs. How others choose to live their lives is frankly no one else's business, unless what they do has a direct relationships to oneself.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
Does the smoker not know he can induce cancer, or the gambler not know he's playing with his family's livelihood? Does the glutton not know she's destroying her own body? Does the pornographer not know he's exploiting adults and children, and does he not know he's defiling his own soul? Again, I don't think lack of information is the cause of most sin. We're pretty aware that what we do sometimes is wrong. And we are often well aware of the consequences. But we choose proximal satisfactions at the expense of even very profound evils.
I'll only say that the Bible clearly teaches that sin is deceitful, that sinners are deceived, and it is ignorance of the truth that is the source of all sin. (References supplied on request.) I also believe it is impossible to intentionally choose what one is sincerely convinced will amount to a loss greater an any possible gain, that is, that what he chooses is really the worst possible choice he could make.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
Most people's psychologies and lives are total disasters. If you think you make evil decisions that you know are evil, you have simply deceived yourself, most likely about the nature of evil itself and that it is the one thing that can only hurt you and never benefit you, no matter how nice and desirable it seems.
I completely agree.

But how come we humans just don't 'get' that? Why are we the kinds of creatures who miss that obvious truth so often?
But we aren't that kind of creature. You and I obviously see it, and many others have seen it. Why do most people not see it? Because they are ignorant, superstitious, and too lazy to make any effort to be anything else. It's not imposed on them and not some inherent flaw, it's what they've chosen to be.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
I have heard a lot of people enthuse about Jung. Personally, I find him speculative, in the first place, unscientific in all his methodology (despite his occasional bows at the shrine of academic rigour) in the second, and wildly unpredictable in his interpretations as well. ... I really must be missing some aspect of Jung, because I cannot figure out why this man got any attention at all. And he sure got a ton. But I'm going to keep looking. He must have something to offer.
I'm afraid you are going to be disappointed, though the exercise itself might enlightening.

That Jung received and receives so much attention should not surprise you. He, like most philosophers, offers an excuse for every vile belief and practice of human beings. The excuse, "it's not my fault, the devil made me do it," has been secularized and made scientific by psychologists, "it's not my fault, my psychology made me do it."
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
There are no short-cuts to success and happiness, but they are available to everyone who chooses to pursue them.
It depends on what we define as "success" and "happiness."
Yes it does. Here's my view: Success is being and achieving all that one can possibly be as a human being. Happiness is knowing one is being all one can be and that everything he does conforms to the requirements of reality and his own nature as a human being, and that he is competent to live successfully in this world. While gladly accepting the consequences of his wrong choices and actions, and learning from them, the successful individual enjoys the rewards of his right choices and actions with the knowledge that all he is and all he has are rightly his because he has earned them by his own effort. Happiness is living the view that life is a grand romantic adventure to be enjoyed to the fullest of one's ability.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am
One quick question: What is sin?
I thought perhaps I'd said this. Perhaps I did not.

Biblically, the word translated "sin" means literally "missing the mark," as in an arrow falling short of the bullseye. It means "not up to the standard of righteousness." And it doesn't specify degrees of that. There's only "hitting the mark," and "not hitting the mark," in this idiom.

But I also pointed to a distinction between the quantitative "sins," plural, referring to particular actions, and "sin" as a qualitative property, meaning that quality of persons or actions that are "short of the mark, not adequate to righteousness." Human beings commit sins, but are also inhabited by sin. A loose analogy might be that a drunk drinks a drink at a particular time and place, and maybe only once. But an alcoholic is more than a drunk: it's one for whom that action has an inner correspondence not present to one who is a mere drunk.

What "sin" (qualitative, singular) means, is that we are all not just "drunks" (i.e. committers of an individual "sin" or infraction) but alcoholics-in-waiting (or "sinners by nature").
You did say most of those things before, but they certainly do not answer the question of what sin actually is. Saying sin is, "missing the mark," without identifying exactly what the "mark" is explains nothing. Listing things that are supposed to be sin also does not explain what sin is, they are only examples of sins. You can say dipsomania, or producing pornography, or violating others are sins, but what makes them sin? What needs to be explained is why they are examples of sin. "Not adequate to righteousness," just makes the question murkier, because we now have to know what righteousness is.

The question seems simple enough. Put it in your own terms, what is the, "mark," that sin misses? What is the standard or principle that can be applied to something that identifies it as sin?
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 am

Aesthetic temperament. Well, there's nothing wrong with that. ... It is a feature of the last century's "scientific" dogma that any response to these sensitivities is not only suspect, but must be eliminated for the sake of "objectivity." But God put beauty in this world. It too is an aspect of reality. And when we ignore it, we don't get better science, just colder hearts.
I regard aesthetics as that aspect of philosophy that defines exactly what makes life worth living. It is worth living, just because beauty, bliss, and ecstasy can be found and appreciated in this world. You may not appreciate this, but Dostoevsky wrote in the final line of "White Nights," "My God, one moment of ecstasy (or bliss), why is that not enough for a lifetime?" He had just kissed a girl he was never going to see again. The answer to his question is, it is.

The opposite view was once described by George Bernard Shaw in his, "Maxims for Revolutionists," appended to the play, Man and Superman, which I've rephrased: "Some men's view of a lifetime of happiness with a beautiful woman is like trying to enjoy the taste of wine by keeping his mouth always full of it."

The next maxim explains it: "The most intolerable pain is produced by prolonging the keenest pleasure."

Just thoughts. Dostoevsky was only an author of fiction, an epileptic and chronic gambler. Shaw was only a playwright and critic, a socialist (of sorts) and a bit of a crank. Both were, however, intellectually original, interesting, and thought provoking, and at least for me, extremely entertaining.

So, thanks to you too, for making life a little more enjoyable and interesting.

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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can » Tue Aug 27, 2019 1:44 pm

RCSaunders wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:00 pm
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:32 pm
But, in the end, a collective never hurts anyone; individuals do.
Outstanding! One rarely sees such a manifestly untrue statement offered with such conviction. :D
You answered to quickly, IC. f12hte is right. It is only individuals that do harm. It is only individuals that do anything. The collective view is just a way of seeing the sum of all individual behavior while ignoring the individuals that actually do it.
In a sense, you're right, RC. I take your point.

However, I would resist the implication that a collective is harmless. Just the action of forming one precipitates the de-moralization of action.

A remarkable effect of the mob is this: that they will often do what no individual among them would do, were he by himself. The curious effect of the collective is to "spread out" any sense of moral responsibility, until no individual in that group feels himself addressed by any moral concerns at all. It's more than conformity, and more than the well-documented "bystander effect." It's a kind of collective madness.

In that sense, a collective is far more than the sum of the individuals in it. It is far, far more dangerous than any of them can hope to be, by reason of its size, and far less moral than any of them would grant themselves to be, by reason of this feeling of abatement of accountability.

However, I agree with you this much: that the only way to "break" the moral trance of the collective is to cause the individuals within it to feel themselves once again addressed as individuals by moral imperatives.
f12hte's observation is really quite stunning. It rips away the cloak of innocence from all collective evil, revealing all the horrible things done in the name of saving the community, society, the world, the environment, or future generations is nothing more than the sum of individual choices to make the world what they think it ought to be no matter what harm it does to anyone else.
In this, I entirely agree with you.

What your comment does is just what I suggested above: it breaks the appearance of collectives into the reality of individuals, and thus destroys the trance. It reminds the collectivists that they are not morally excused in any way by the fact that they have amassed many yea-sayers to support their evil. Rather, morally speaking, they 'wear' what they done, and what they have contributed to through the collective.

Well said.

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