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.
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.Immanuel Can wrote: ↑Fri Aug 23, 2019 3:54 pmGood, bad, right, wrong, important, unimportant, needed, not needed, appropriate, inappropriate are all value terms, that is, terms of relationship.
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.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).
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."
Yes.Immanuel Can wrote: ↑Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 amOh, 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?
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.
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.
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.
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 amI'm not sure what you mean by "happens to people."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 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 amIn 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 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:Immanuel Can wrote: ↑Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 amThen you are a stronger, better man than I. I find myself sharing Paul's view: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.
"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!"
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.
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).Immanuel Can wrote: ↑Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:29 amThank 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.Thanks for being reasonable and interesting in spite of our extreme differences. Very refreshing.
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 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.