Individualism vs. Collectivism

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Nick_A
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Nick_A » Tue Aug 20, 2019 3:07 pm

Whhen I read this I get a glimpse of the distinction between emotions and feelings and the harm done to the cause of religion by misguided emotion.
We can only know one thing about God - that he is what we are not. Our wretchedness alone is an image of this. The more we contemplate it, the more we contemplate him. Simone Weil
In many expressions of secularized Christianity the concept of wretchedness inspires guilt. People believe themselves bad. All this does is create a lot of neurotic people.

Being part of fallen Man doesn't make a person bad. "Bad" is just misuse of the power of emotion. Fallen Man is a condition like having a broken leg. It creates a situation which puts us in opposition with ourselves. It should inspire compassion but often it only inspires guilt. Becoming capable of true compassion is really conscious rather than selective animal love.

People with an appreciation for the purpose of religion seek to outgrow the power and control of acquired negative emotions like guilt in order to experience "feelings" which is our potential and a natural part of "awakening" to what we ARE. Of course it is opposed by religious corruption and secularism needing to use negative emotions to acquire power and control. The seeker of truth must guard against both. Not an easy thing to do.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can » Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:14 pm

Nick_A wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 3:07 pm
We can only know one thing about God - that he is what we are not. Our wretchedness alone is an image of this. The more we contemplate it, the more we contemplate him. Simone Weil
Yeah, see, Nick...I don't think this is remotely true. I think it's not just a wild, wild overstatement, it's also obviously wrong.

We "contemplate God" by "contemplating our wretchedness"? No. All we get from contemplating our wretchedness is more wretchedness. Contemplating only one pole of anything shows you only that pole. You don't learn anything about where you're going from looking only at where you are.

To contemplate God, we have to know God. To go beyond our wretchedness, we must also turn and see God, and recognize His greatness. Only after we see the distance between our wretchedness and His mercy, graciousness and kindness do we learn anything at all about where we really are, and where we need to go.

f12hte
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by f12hte » Tue Aug 20, 2019 6:59 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Aug 19, 2019 4:14 pm
f12hte wrote:
Mon Aug 19, 2019 3:32 pm
I think that we are headed in the right direction, towards collectivism. I think that it is necessary for the survival of humanity. Collectivism yields better use of scarce natural resources, and it will not take long for 7 billion of us to become 14 billion or 28 billion. Most utilities, police and fire departments are collectives, established for the maintenance of societies. Each person cannot build an interstate highway system , or a rocket to go to the moon. Each person can not take his own appendix out. Life is better when we work together; each person dedicating his life to the well being of others....
I don't know... :?

This is surely the "sunny side" of Collectivism. And when practiced in a limited way, collectives have done some good. Local voluntary societies, for example, have been hugely helpful in improving social conditions. And of course you're right: nobody builds roads and airports alone.

But when Collectivism is practiced on a broader scale it seems the results are never good, and they get worse the more Collectivism is practiced. Take the Soviet Union -- very "collectivist," to be sure; but look what happened to the rights of minorities and dissenters there. Heck, look at what happened to whole nations that were submerged in that Collectivist project.

And that's far from a lone case. We could look at China -- again, very Collectivist. Or Cuba. Or Venezuela. Or North Korea. Or Cambodia. Nowhere in the world has advanced Collectivism ever produced anything but tyranny and death, it seems. So why would we think it was a good idea now?
I must admit, you make a powerful argument against collectivism, and I'll bet that you could be just as convincing in your argument against individualism.

Of course you are right, Emmanuel. There is ample proof that collectivism doesn't work well, as it has been practiced in modern times. But we haven't been doing it right, and we have only been working on it for a couple of hundred years. But what I'm talking about is a collectivism which begins at the bottom and flows up to the governing body. I don't believe that human nature is invariably programmed to take advantage of others. I believe that this is learned, because I believe that there is pitifully little that is not learned; pre-birth experience and genetically programmed things mostly. Laws don't work. People have to learn the benefits of collective behavior and so come to desire to serve the collective.


Collectivism hasn't worked in the past because it was always attempted from a top-down perspective, with a powerful person or group, who forcibly bent the will of the populous towards the goals envisioned by the authority. People want to be free, so a forced altruism is not possible. If it's forced, it's not altruistic, and it carries no subjective reward.

What I envision, however, is a bottom-up sort of collectivism, driven by the will of the masses. The collective is realized by the concern of the individuals for the group. You really should look at some of the papers that have been written on the connection between altruistic behavior and individual happiness. It's a fact. The only way to obtain true happiness is through selfless service to our fellow man. People do not tend to believe that they will be happy when they lose concern for their individual self. So, like everything else, the fruits of altruism must be learned. Altruism will not happen if people don't experience it's benefits before embracing it. Churches have always been founded with altruism in mind, but they do not seem to be able to stand the tests of time, and always end up as books of rules enforced from upon high under threat of punishment.

Research on the benefits of altruism to the individual doing the selfless act needs to be conducted thoroughly and carefully, with all of the 'objectivity' that can be brought to bear. Then a lot of research has to be done on the best methodology to instill altruistic values in our children, by a practicum in selflessness, so they can lose their self-absorption and experience the thrill of living for others. As a side benefit, such an educational path will cure the scourge of loneliness that plagues the Western world. Nobody would worry for his own needs, because there would always be someone at hand to help.

This would take a long time, but are you going to say that it's impossible? Based on what? Are you going to say that only low creatures, like bees and ants, can live in a collective? Are you going to say that altruism does not yield a lasting joy to the altruistic person? Write a paper disproving the research. Are you saying that it is not a goal worth pursuing? World peace, and individual happiness? It's probably worth a thousand years of effort to achieve such goals. Yes it's idealistic from my point of view, and past attempts have failed, but I believe that it is the only way forward for a world which soon will not be able to support individualistic ideals. And, if we survive the transition from individualism to collectivism, where will evolution take us? I believe that communication will increase in accuracy wit people always mindful of others' needs. It's possible that man machine interfaces will be developed to further increase the accuracy and speed of communication. And, if nature sees fit, 7 billion people can come together as a sort of Über·mensch. Single celled organisms were the genesis of higher animals once. Why shouldn't it happen again, at a higher level as 7 billion people-cells come together in perfect harmony. Reading these articles, it seems likely that we we were made for that.

https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/disc ... ur-health/

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-09- ... -real.html

http://www.stonybrook.edu/bioethics/Alt ... 202005.pdf

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-03- ... ruism.html

f12hte
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by f12hte » Tue Aug 20, 2019 7:04 pm

Nick_A wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 2:55 am

Hi f12hte

While I agree that society as a great collective is capable of many things. Unfortunately I've learned that society is capable of both the greatest compassion and abominations.
Please see my reply to Immanuel Can in this thread.

Nick_A
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Nick_A » Tue Aug 20, 2019 7:18 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:14 pm
Nick_A wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 3:07 pm
We can only know one thing about God - that he is what we are not. Our wretchedness alone is an image of this. The more we contemplate it, the more we contemplate him. Simone Weil
Yeah, see, Nick...I don't think this is remotely true. I think it's not just a wild, wild overstatement, it's also obviously wrong.

We "contemplate God" by "contemplating our wretchedness"? No. All we get from contemplating our wretchedness is more wretchedness. Contemplating only one pole of anything shows you only that pole. You don't learn anything about where you're going from looking only at where you are.

To contemplate God, we have to know God. To go beyond our wretchedness, we must also turn and see God, and recognize His greatness. Only after we see the distance between our wretchedness and His mercy, graciousness and kindness do we learn anything at all about where we really are, and where we need to go.

This is one of these great ideas that some will get and the majority won't. It includes the question of what it means to pray from our personality and to pray from our essence. Normally a person prays from their personality and the essence of the person is never touched.

"Absolute unmixed attention is prayer. " ~ Simone Weil

Another Simone gem fro an essay on the value of attention. Absolute unmixed attention allows our essence to ask for what it needs by getting out of or own way It is a higher form of intellect.

Simone is saying that when we witness ourselves for what we are, we ask for help from the depths of our being rather than from a superficial expression of our worldly personality. God is the source of the potential for human "being." The more we witness what we are the more our soul asks for help from what its consciousness contemplates.

"Grace fills empty spaces, but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it We must continually suspend the work of the imagination in filling the void within ourselves."
"In no matter what circumstances, if the imagination is stopped from pouring itself out, we have a void (the poor in spirit). In no matter what circumstances... imagination can fill the void. This is why the average human beings can become prisoners, slaves, prostitutes, and pass thru no matter what suffering without being purified."

"That is why we fly from the inner void, since God might steal into it. It is not the pursuit of pleasure and the aversion for effort which causes sin, but fear of God. We know that we cannot see him face to face without dying, and we do not want to die."
Simone Weil -- Gravity and Grace
Nothing cutsey pooh here. It is getting down to the basics of what Christianity is. The efforts of the Christ together with the energy of the Spirit makes it possible for Man to defeat death by allowing the unreal in us to die

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RCSaunders
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by RCSaunders » Tue Aug 20, 2019 7:35 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:30 am
In fact, without human freedom and choice, I would argue we could have no human responsibility either -- and unless I miss my guess, you're on that page too.
Yes, exactly!
Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:30 am
The fact that the Bible states that everyone sins can easily be attributed to God's foreknowledge.
Well, yes: but not exclusively. After all, when one has a free choice, why would one ever do what was sinful, if sin is just a bad idea? There must be some attractiveness to it, and that attractiveness cannot but be located in the one being tempted. Of course, we could refer again here to James 1:14-15 here. But Jesus also develops this doctrine in the famous Sermon on the Mount. There, he extends the understanding of the Law beyond mere action, and gets to intention and inclination, particular in things like hatred and lust. (Matthew 5:21-30) He further says that these things come from inside the man, not from outside (Matthew 15:18, for example).

I could go on, of course, but swapping references can quickly become tedious ...
Of course, IC, unless we have a disagreement that depends on what a particular passage says, I think we both are familiar enough with Scripture to know what we are referring to.

I agree with you, "After all, when one has a free choice, why would one ever do what was sinful, if sin is just a bad idea? There must be some attractiveness to it." I also agree that sin pertains to all choices including one's thinking, as per your references, and especially Mat. 5:28, and 15:19. I do not agree that the, "attractiveness," is itself sinful. I know you agree that sexual desire is a God-given good desire, and the desire itself is not sinful, even when when fulfilling the desire would be wrong, as when seeing another man's attractive wife. It is not a sin to be tempted. It is only a sin to yield to temptation (desire) either in overt action (adultery) or in one's thinking (Mat. 5:28).

I think James is correct that temptation is being drawn to something by one's own natural God-given desires (which are not corrupt or sinful) which if indulged in a particular context (forbidden by the law) would be sin.

The things we think of as perverse desires, are actually consequences of sin. One is not attracted to anything without first being conscious of it and judging that it is desirable. The sexual perversions are not natural desires, they are desires produced by wrong thinking about the fulfillment of natural desires, but that wrong thinking must be chosen. What sometimes appears to be a natural inclination to certain evil acts, is self-developed. "For as he thinketh in his heart, so his he."

I go back to what you said, "In fact, without human freedom and choice, I would argue we could have no human responsibility either." A "bent" or "inclination" toward a particular class of behavior (sin) is not free choice, but a kind of prejudiced choice.

Because everyone is different with different natural strengths, abilities, interests, etc., what kinds of desires can ultimately be a source of temptation will be different for everyone. There are many kinds of sin others fall into that I never could, because I have no interest in them or I am revolted by them. There are things that could easily tempt me, because I find so much pleasure and interest in them, but I do not yield to such desires, or mentally entertain yielding to them, if they are contrary my principles. I could very easily rationalize yielding to such desires, which is what I believe most sin is the result of.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:30 am
Consider sociopaths and psychopaths. They have no sense of guilt. But they ought to. They would be better people if they did. And their lack of a sense of the moral status of what they've done speaks to something wrongly developed in their brains and characters. But that does not mean they have not done evil. It just means they aren't recognizing what they've done. And we don't feel any guilt ourselves when we lock them up; in fact, we're even more relieved than in the cases of those who had a sense of guilt.
I think you have somewhat left the path of discussion in Biblical terms, which is OK with me. Psychologists' descriptions of sociopaths and psychopaths are very unreliable. The essential problem with the pseudo-science, "psychology," is that it cannot examine the one thing it is suppose to study: human consciousness. It relies entirely on the testimony of those deemed neurotic or psychotic. (There is much more wrong with it, but that is fundamental since Wonk.) The only thing wrong with so-called sociopaths is their chosen thinking. [I'm excluding those who actually have brain defects which are not a psychological problem, but a physiological (neurological) problems.]

I have known individuals who have been described or diagnosed as sociopaths. Their feelings are often quite different from most other people. As discussed earlier, those feelings you would call conscience are different because conscience is determined by what one believes and thinks, and it is the thinking of those call sociopaths that is different. Some of the sociopaths I have known have been very effective in their chosen professions, but most have problems caused by their unusual thinking, and some are dangerous, or even criminal. It is not their feelings or lack of them that explain their behavior, it is how they think, especially about other people and their relationships to them.

I think we'll just have to accept the fact we disagree about the nature of those feelings called conscience, but at some point I would like to discuss the nature of feelings and desires, from a philosophical perspective.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:30 am
No, it's true that even a good or natural desire can be twisted into evil. But sometimes the desire is, indeed, evil. Sin's a complex thing, to be sure. But here's the real question: from where does the "twist" come? It doesn't come from God, so where? If mankind's nature is just good, or even merely neutral, how is it that evil has any appeal at all? That "twist," to say nothing of something like burning hatred or delight in others' suffering, has to have a cause, a source, an origination point of some kind. Where's that bad energy coming from, if not from, as Christ said, "within the man"?
I've already explained where desires for that which is evil comes from, perfectly natural desires twisted by one's own wrong thinking. I think your question, "how is it that evil has any appeal at all?" assumes what is not true. The desire to do something evil is not a desire for evil itself or because it is evil. In most cases, the one who desires the evil thing does not even think it is evil.

Micah 2:1 describes one version of the process. "Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds. When the morning is light, they practice it, because it is in the power of their hand." First comes the desire, the thinking about having what one wants, then when one is convinced they can get away with what they've been thinking, then they do it. The thinking always comes first. (Most verses dealing with this refer to the thoughts of the heart. It makes a difference what you think the heart is. You might want to consider that, because I suspect we will not agree on what the heart refers to in the Bible.)
Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:30 am
Most Methodists I have known believe in both a sinful nature and eternal security, but also believe in sanctification (as separate form salvation) and that one can, "fall away." I think there is a lot of Scripture evidence for both.
Right. I think the Methodists have a deficient view of sanctification, too. They fail to see that Scripture uses the term three particular ways, and so they use it only one. And this causes them to make some serious errors, like "fall away" doctrine.

But that's a big topic too. I think I'll let you take the conversation in the direction you prefer, rather than fleshing that out at the moment.
It'll keep for now. I think we have bigger fish to fry.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:30 am
I do not have direct evidence that Augustine derived his dualistic views from Manichaeism, though he was one.

Yeah, that's the correlation-causality thing I was pointing to. It would be very hard to say that the latter caused the former. But if it did, Augustine is not God. He's just another guy trying to systematize his ideas about God. If he failed in some way, it troubles me not at all; I would expect it. It would simply be on me to correct it, if I came across it.

Fair enough!
Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:30 am
Verses 17-19 of Romans 2 make it clear this entire passage, from Romans 1 on, was being written to the Jews in Rome,
Well, no. I see why you think that, but what about everything up to 2:17? All of that is earmarked to Gentile believers: see verses 4-7, 13-16, 18...repeatedly, the passage is explicitly directed to them. What he's doing in 2:17-19 is dealing with the objection that all the things he said earlier were ONLY true of Gentiles, and NOT of Jews. That's why he says, "But if you bear the name 'Jew,' and rely upon the Law..." and so on. Note the IF, the hypothetical there: Paul is saying, "If you say to me that you are different, you are sadly mistaken." He then goes on to show, for about a chapter, that Jews are not a special category of holier-than-thou folks, simply because they had the Law, the covenants and the promises. But he ends that section sharply in 3:9

"What then? Are we (the Jews) better than they (the Gentiles)? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written,“There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless, There is none who does good, There is not even one.”


Paul's going to return to the special problem of convincing Jewish believers that they aren't above Gentile believers. He'll come back to that in chapters 9-11, and really give it full treatment. But it will remain a theme softly playing in the background in all he says to the Gentiles as well. In chapter 12, he's speaking again to the entire group of Christians in Rome, without Jew-Gentile distinction. And that's how he finishes.

Anyway, that's how I see the breakdown. I refer to the markers Paul uses when referring to his audience(s), and to track his thought-flow. It's clear to me that the addresses to the Gentiles and the combined Jewish-Gentile believer group in Rome bracket the specific remarks he directs to "Israel," or "my brethren according to the flesh," (as distinct, obviously, from "my brethren according to the Spirit").

But now we're getting into specific exegesis. Are we too far into it?

Not at all. It's a controversial passage. I understand why you interpret it as you do and certainly do not insist on my interpretation. There are more certain passages on all these points.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:30 am
I get it. I'm very interested in Atheists and agnostics in precisely the same way. I don't agree with them, but I get a kick out of figuring out how they're processing things.
Most of them don't process much, actually. Just for the record, I am not an atheist (or any other kind of "-ist." I think it is silly to identify oneself in terms of what one does not believe. There are endless things taught and believed in this world which I do not believe. If I identified myself in terms of all the things I don't believe in, it's all I'd do. I also have no desire or intention of changing anyone's else's beliefs, first because it is rarely possible, and second, because how others choose to believe and live is just none of my business.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:30 am
I'm reading Jung right now, as a matter of fact. And I've always enjoyed Hardy, and Beckett, and Camus, and Rand. I've read a fair bit of Nietzsche, and found that interesting as well. And Freud. And some of Marx. And so on. I've tried to do some diligence in that regard.

I was a big Narnia reader as a kid. I just read his space trilogy recently. It doesn't age well, but it was very inventive for his time. What I really enjoyed were his essays. He's got in common with people like Chesterton and Orwell a real ability to turn a phrase.
If there is such a thing as an external evidence of a first rate intellect it is erudition. It shows up in every aspect of one's life. So long as you enjoy what you read (even if it is work) everything is worth reading, almost. Jung is pretty bad, but if you do not take him seriously, he can be inadvertently entertaining. Nietzsche I personally disliked which made reading him difficult. Freud is pure evil, as was his daughter Anna. Still it's good to know the enemy.

Have you Read Lewis' Miracles? I think it contains one of the best argument there is for volition against determinism.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:30 am
I have long been bewildered by the fact that so many people claim the Bible as their authority, but have never bothered to read, much less study it, even once, all the way through. Doesn't that amaze you?
No, it saddens me. The greatest work of Western literature, the key document of Western civilization, really, is not read well, even by many of the people who claim most affinity with it -- or so the surveys tell me. However, I attempt to do my best to not add my name to the list of those whose familiarity with it is cursory, shallow or zero. There are enough of those already.

Good talking to you.
[/quote]
Same here!

Nick_A
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Nick_A » Tue Aug 20, 2019 9:42 pm

f12hte
Of course you are right, Emmanuel. There is ample proof that collectivism doesn't work well, as it has been practiced in modern times. But we haven't been doing it right, and we have only been working on it for a couple of hundred years. But what I'm talking about is a collectivism which begins at the bottom and flows up to the governing body. I don't believe that human nature is invariably programmed to take advantage of others. I believe that this is learned, because I believe that there is pitifully little that is not learned; pre-birth experience and genetically programmed things mostly. Laws don't work. People have to learn the benefits of collective behavior and so come to desire to serve the collective.
I must respectfully disagree and assert that you are suggesting the impossible. I say so because rather than altruism the real motivator of human behavior is prestige. What society eventually does is determined by its nature and I believe that the struggle for prestige is part of human nature.

Of course it is a mixed blessing. A lot of what are suggested to be good works are motivated by the need for prestige – to feel important. The collective you refer to isn’t wanted. It gets in the way of the struggle for prestige.
Matthew 6:

24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
The secular collectives will have money as their master and prestige is measured by money. It is through money that the collectives can acquire the prestige associated with power.

Man has the potential for the type of collective which attracts you but as of now what we are makes it impossible. Can we change what we are so as to open to another quality of hierarchy not based on power and prestige? I believe an individual can but society cannot. It cannot change what it collectively is. Since we are as we are, everything is as it is. Wonderful thoughts and platitudes cannot change what we are.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can » Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:13 am

f12hte wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 6:59 pm
I must admit, you make a powerful argument against collectivism, and I'll bet that you could be just as convincing in your argument against individualism.
I could make some points against individualism. Anybody could. But when it comes to a comparison, the lesser of two evils is individualism. At least individualism limits the scope of evil that can be done.
Of course you are right, Emmanuel. There is ample proof that collectivism doesn't work well, as it has been practiced in modern times. But we haven't been doing it right, and we have only been working on it for a couple of hundred years.
Well, we "worked on it" to the tune of 148 million dead in the last century alone. I think it's time we assessed whether "working on it" anymore was a good idea.
People have to learn the benefits of collective behavior and so come to desire to serve the collective.
Problem: Collectivism has never worked. And it makes people dead. So who are you going to get who knows this "other way" that Collectivism could be, (but that admittedly, it has never yet been), and thus is qualified to tell people for sure that the next version of Collectivism will not issue in pogroms, gulags and body bags? And why should we believe them, if they tried?
What I envision, however, is a bottom-up sort of collectivism, driven by the will of the masses.

That's what Marx envisioned: the rule of the Proletariat. And look what that has caused.
The only way to obtain true happiness is through selfless service to our fellow man.

There's a half truth in this. Happiness is difficult for individuals; but happiness is definitely not assured by Collectivism. Neither extreme is the road to anything good, actually. We are not monads, isolated individuals. That's one critique of individualism. But it's far from obvious that Collectivism is any better, and in fact, is not significantly worse. That's what all the dead bodies are about.

So you're right to think there's got to be a middle position: one in which the freedoms of the individual are not destroyed by the collective, but the collective is not excessively fractured by the interests of the individuals in it. However, we would need an ideology that rationalizes this balance: something that respects individual value, but also speaks intelligently about the benefits of respecting others...

If only we had such a book... :wink:

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can » Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:19 am

Nick_A wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 7:18 pm
Nothing cutsey pooh here. It is getting down to the basics of what Christianity is. The efforts of the Christ together with the energy of the Spirit makes it possible for Man to defeat death by allowing the unreal in us to die
That's not my Christianity, Nick. It might be Weilism. It might be just one version of Weilism. But I think I see where you're coming from at the moment on that, and I thank you for sharing it. Best wishes.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can » Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:00 am

RCSaunders wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 7:35 pm
I do not agree that the, "attractiveness," is itself sinful.
Well, could I test that?

Do you think that when a gambler is attracted to the table, or an alcoholic to the bottle, that's good? Or when a pedophile is attracted to children, is that neutral? I suspect you'd say not. I think there is something fundamentally wrong in the disposition of someone who finds joy in hurting other people; and no matter how "attracted" he is to it, I don't think either of us would say that's a matter of indifference.
It is not a sin to be tempted. It is only a sin to yield to temptation (desire) either in overt action (adultery) or in one's thinking (Mat. 5:28).
Is that so? Or is to be tempted one evidence of a sinful disposition, and to act on that attraction a second manifestation of sin? I would say it is.
...wrong thinking must be chosen....
Hmmm...how can that be, though? How can someone who has no -- zero -- inclination to sin "choose" to do something toward which he has no attraction at all? It's surely evident that a man who is not attracted to the wrong things will have no inducement or likelihood whatsoever to take part in them. And what do you do with Christ's claim that a man who has called his brother "worthless" has already committed a sin, even if he never raises a hand against him? That's surely a sin of attitude.
A "bent" or "inclination" toward a particular class of behavior (sin) is not free choice, but a kind of prejudiced choice.
No, I don't think this is true. "Free" does not mean "free of inclination." It simply means "able to chose one or the other -- good or evil -- in a given situation. And a person who is even strongly drawn to a bad decision, (like say, embezzlement he thinks he can hide) but who overcomes his inclination for the sake of doing the right thing, is he not a noble character? And was his freedom not the basis of his right choice? Indeed, if he had not been drawn to the wrong choice, what would be laudable about his restraint, in this case?
Because everyone is different with different natural strengths, abilities, interests, etc., what kinds of desires can ultimately be a source of temptation will be different for everyone.
Yes, I have to agree.

Personally, I find gambling utterly uninteresting. But I accept that it is a harsh temptation for some others, and I must empathize with their plight as much as I can. I have other temptations, to be sure. But surely this fact, the differences in what one is tempted by, also argues against the idea that people are desire-neutral or free of inclination in these regards. In fact, we all seem to have our own special set of sinful inclinations, don't we?

Maybe everyone shares some. The inclination to lie, or to omit the truth, is a pretty general temptation, for example.
I think we'll just have to accept the fact we disagree about the nature of those feelings called conscience, but at some point I would like to discuss the nature of feelings and desires, from a philosophical perspective.
Sure. Why not. Let's do it when the time is right.
I think your question, "how is it that evil has any appeal at all?" assumes what is not true. The desire to do something evil is not a desire for evil itself or because it is evil. In most cases, the one who desires the evil thing does not even think it is evil.
Well, I'll give you this: someone can believe he is doing good and do evil. That's true. But it's not always. And you seem to consider this, for you only write "in most cases," not "always."

In quite a few cases, in fact, both the desire is known to be evil and the action associated with it is known to be evil. Surely it's evil to abuse the neighbour's children. But it's not healthy and neutral to sit in one's window and fantasize about abusing the neighbour's children, whether one eventually does it or not. Some things are just bad to want, and bad to do.
Micah 2:1 describes one version of the process. "Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds. When the morning is light, they practice it, because it is in the power of their hand." First comes the desire, the thinking about having what one wants, then when one is convinced they can get away with what they've been thinking, then they do it. The thinking always comes first. (Most verses dealing with this refer to the thoughts of the heart. It makes a difference what you think the heart is. You might want to consider that, because I suspect we will not agree on what the heart refers to in the Bible.)
I'm guessing we might. I'm aware of the difficulties in translating the "heart" concept directly into modern usage. ("Liver" or "bowels," originally it was.) I'm assuming that's what you're referring to, no?

But you are right about the association between thinking and doing. I'm suggesting both the thinking and the doing are evil; if I understand your position, you're suggesting the thinking is not evil, but the doing is. But I don't think Micah 2:1 would help that case, if indeed that's what you're advocating.
Not at all. It's a controversial passage. I understand why you interpret it as you do and certainly do not insist on my interpretation. There are more certain passages on all these points.
Okay.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:30 am
I get it. I'm very interested in Atheists and agnostics in precisely the same way. I don't agree with them, but I get a kick out of figuring out how they're processing things.
Most of them don't process much, actually.
Yeah, I hate to agree, but I think that's true.
Just for the record, I am not an atheist (or any other kind of "-ist." I think it is silly to identify oneself in terms of what one does not believe.
I'd agree.
Jung is pretty bad, but if you do not take him seriously, he can be inadvertently entertaining. Nietzsche I personally disliked which made reading him difficult. Freud is pure evil, as was his daughter Anna. Still it's good to know the enemy.
I can't disagree. Jung has some very dark corners. Nietzsche is a rhetorician, it's true; but I find him very interesting for the reason that he took the implications of Atheism farther than most Atheists ever will. Freud...well, I find him pretty tame, actually, because his main arguments that impinge on faith are pretty bad. They can all be retooled and turned quickly against Atheism. For example, his talk of religion being a wish-fulfillment fantasy -- that we only want a God because we desire a "father figure," can be quickly reframed as "The only reason people are Atheists is they are wish-fulfilling a fantasy that they do NOT have a cosmic Father." And the argument works either both or neither way. So that's pretty useless.

I would say Freud is not up to much, at least as far as being a good critic of "religion" would go. I don't worry about him much anymore, if I ever did.
Have you Read Lewis' Miracles? I think it contains one of the best argument there is for volition against determinism.
I have. But it was a little while ago. To which of the essays in that volume are you alluding? I must revisit it.

My personal favourite is probably The Abolition of Man, too. His essay on "Historicism" is really good as well. He said a lot of good things.

What else do you read, RC?

Nick_A
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Nick_A » Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:40 am

I C
That's not my Christianity, Nick.
Obviously not. The World would not hate your Christianity as it does Christianity
John 15:18-25 New International Version (NIV)
The World Hates the Disciples
18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’[a] If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’

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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by f12hte » Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:05 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:13 am

F12: "The only way to obtain true happiness is through selfless service to our fellow man."

There's a half truth in this. Happiness is difficult for individuals; but happiness is definitely not assured by Collectivism. Neither extreme is the road to anything good, actually. We are not monads, isolated individuals. That's one critique of individualism. But it's far from obvious that Collectivism is any better, and in fact, is not significantly worse. That's what all the dead bodies are about.

So you're right to think there's got to be a middle position: one in which the freedoms of the individual are not destroyed by the collective, but the collective is not excessively fractured by the interests of the individuals in it. However, we would need an ideology that rationalizes this balance: something that respects individual value, but also speaks intelligently about the benefits of respecting others...

If only we had such a book... :wink:
I'm sorry if you find my views disturbing. I am not advocating for another revolution. Heaven knows we've had enough of those. I am advocating for a collectivism wrought of love for one's fellow man. I point to research which illustrates that altruistic service to one's fellow man yields a lasting joy to the giver. I think, 'if bees and ants can do it, why can't humans do it?'. I think 'Man's subjective morals are not up to the task. The way we learn to get along is through cooperation. Maximum cooperation is when each receives joy for serving the other. Surely you see that I am not advocating for dictatorship. And, no, we don't need a book of various people's subjective opinions of morality. We all just need to experience the documented benefits which accrue to the giver, in the practice of selfless living.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can » Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:21 pm

f12hte wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:05 pm
I'm sorry if you find my views disturbing.
Not at all. Don't worry.

I find what Collectivism has done disturbing. But having a discussion is never a problem. In fact, one of its chief advantages is that it possibly could give a few individuals at least a twinge of conscience before they just jump into the next bout of Collectivists madness. And I'm all for that.
I am advocating for a collectivism wrought of love for one's fellow man.
I see that. And I would wish that you could get it.

But too often, the cries of "love" have been used to fuel murder. It's the belief that Communism is an ultimate good, and ultimately "loving" way to free the worker that has given people the sense of moral superiority while they shot prisoners into a ditch. After all, "those people" were evil -- they were "holding back utopia," by being kulaks, or Jews, or capitalists, or intellectuals. To "remove" them was the only "loving" thing to do for the sake of "humanity." It was tough, but it "had to be done"; and those who did it, afterward pride themselves, like unrepentant Nazi guards, on their willingness to "do the tough work" for the revolution. (No doubt a tear of "love" formed in their eye when they thought of their "self-sacrifice" for the common good.)

If you're going to have a collective, you need a lot more than just a "loving impulse," because unguided by morality, that can go very wrong, and just end up sanctifying evil.
I think 'Man's subjective morals are not up to the task.

Agreed.

Now, we 'd have to admit that there was such a thing as a bad thought-to-be-objective moral standard. That would not help us create a good or safe collective. Objectivity in morality would not be enough, unless the objective moral standard to which the collective was committed was itself genuinely good.

So which one should we use?
We all just need to experience the documented benefits which accrue to the giver, in the practice of selfless living.
But I'm afraid it's obvious that this is not really true.

In the first place, if I only "love" others for the "documented benefits that accrue to [me]," I am being selfish, really, not altruistic. I'm pretending to "love" others, while really only loving myself. My altruism is a fake. It's just an instrument I employ to get myself what I want -- my own happiness. But when being altruistic genuinely stands to upset my own self-interest and hurt my personal happiness, why should I persist in being altruistic beyond that point?

In the second place, there are so many situations in which altruism actually hurts me. A mother with a difficult child to raise, one who may never thank or repay her love." A clergyman whose wages don't nearly compensate for the emotional, psychological and spiritual burdens laid on him by the congregation. A soldier, who marches against a despotic enemy to protect the freedom of his nation, knowing he will probably end up dead in the effort. A teacher whose students are surly and thankless, and who leave and graduate without so much as a "thank you" for all his hard work. A policeman who tries to arrest a drug dealer, and is stabbed for his efforts to make a safe arrest instead of shooting the man. How are these to be told, "Don't worry -- the happiness you will get will amply repay your suffering."

Altruism is not fun. When it's really done, it's sacrifice, and often sacrifice with absolutely no prospect of reward or happiness in return. What incentive have we, then, to do it, if happiness is unavailable?

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can » Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:24 pm

Nick_A wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:40 am
Obviously not. The World would not hate your Christianity as it does Christianity
Heh. :)

Look on this website, Nick. See who catches more flak than a Christian.

Nick_A
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Nick_A » Thu Aug 22, 2019 12:15 am

Immanuel Can wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:24 pm
Nick_A wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:40 am
Obviously not. The World would not hate your Christianity as it does Christianity
Heh. :)

Look on this website, Nick. See who catches more flak than a Christian.
You are describing exoteric Christianity which is directed at Man's personality. It is often hated because of the damage it has caused to sensitive people, Jesus describes a different quality of Christianity. It touches the soul rather than the personality of Man. Since a person's life is primarily lived in their personlity, Christianity as Jesus describes, must be hated since it is threat to the dominant personality.

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