This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

diotallevi's Profile

diotallevi's Avatar Joined over 4 years ago
Gender: Male

Latest Discussions Started by diotallevi

More Discussions by diotallevi

Latest Comments by diotallevi

Go to: ‘How do atheists find meaning in life?’

diotallevi's Avatar Jump to comment 145 by diotallevi

Comment 141 by Chomolungma :

When you see how people talk about morality, in my opinion absolute morality is almost always what they are talking about, in that they imply that there are such things moral truths as opposed to mere moral opinions. For example they will talk about a minority of people standing up against the majority "for the sake of what's right". Doesn't that imply that they believe morality to be something that transcends the culture of a given time and place?

Absolute morality may be what they are talking about, but it does not make it so. For somebody in a culture to take a stand against the majority implies that morality is not universal (they do not share the same morals) or that others in the culture are prepared to act immorally. Again, an individual may belief that their morality is absolute, but this does not make it so.

Relative or personal morality isn't really morality at all, it's just cultural convention or personal opinion, no matter how sincerely or deeply held. When people say morality is a set of evolved instincts honed by reason or whatever it's kind of like when people try and claim that "God is love" or "God is happiness" and therefore they believe in God. Just word games really, trying to redefine what something is so they can carry on claiming to believe in it.

I don't get this. The set of behaviours and conventions we call morality is morality whether it be absolute or relative. If people have mistakenly conceived the nature of something, you can't dismiss the object by saying it differs from the misconception.

I think you have it backwards, when people call morality "absolute" it is like claiming God is love. Just because people attribute absolutes to things doesn't change the underlying nature of morality. Perhaps I have misunderstood your point.

The loss of moral absolutes is a real thing that can't be swept under the carpet.

Again I think the opposite, the assumption of moral absolutes is a real thing that can't be swept under the carpet.

Fri, 20 Jan 2012 06:56:30 UTC | #910078

Go to: ‘How do atheists find meaning in life?’

diotallevi's Avatar Jump to comment 144 by diotallevi

Shrodinger's Cat, thanks for the Camus quotes, they are quite beautiful. It seems to me that nihilism and absurdism share the view that life has no meaning, the difference being how people can react to that "truth".

This view is consistent with our rational understanding of the world - the question of meaning is itself an evolutionary byproduct of the reproductive advantages of both an organisms capacity to reason and an instinct for self-preservation. Evolution is a product of the matter and mechanisms of the universe. When we enter existence, we find ourselves with a natural desire to value life, and the ability to ask questions about it.

So I think the question of meaning in life is how we chose to react to the situation we find ourselves in. Theism is one response, Epicureanism and its descendents another.

Rationally, I agree with others in this thread, individual life is unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Luckily humans are not just rational, we experience a sometimes exhilerating, sometimes frustrating mix of messy biologically driven desires and some small measure of intellect. To allow the intellect to rule to the extent where the biological imperatives to live and experience pleasure would be silly.

We should embrace life, the irrational pleasures of the senses, of emotion and of the intellect: we should embrace living, because thats what we are, what we have evolved to do - and what we find pleasurable. It is not about rationality, it is about accepting what we are. The alternative is nothing.

A question: if pleasure is the meaning of life (however an individual might choose to derive it), if the application of intellect was not of itself pleasurable, would the effort be worthwhile?

If people find more pleasure in a particular belief than an alternative, is that enough to justify the belief? (Of course this ignores the negative impact a widely held belief can have on the pleasure of others).

I hope a small measure of that makes sense ...

Fri, 20 Jan 2012 06:35:55 UTC | #910075

Go to: ‘How do atheists find meaning in life?’

diotallevi's Avatar Jump to comment 41 by diotallevi

Surely the answer is that we invent/adopt meaning that is relevant to us based on culture, instinct etc, just like religionists do.

We are all wrong of course, we just accept differing levels of dissonance between perceived meaning and observed reality.

Thu, 19 Jan 2012 04:51:52 UTC | #909707

Go to: Could You Be A Criminal? US Supports UN Anti-Free Speech Measure

diotallevi's Avatar Jump to comment 57 by diotallevi

It seems there are already allowances for restrictions of free speech in US Constitutional law (from wiki, so please correct if necessary)

"Fighting words"

Chaplinsky v. New Hamshire 1941

"There are certain well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem. These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or "fighting words" those that by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace. It has been well observed that such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality."

"Incitement to violence" Brandenburg v. Ohio 1969

The per curiam majority opinion overturned the Ohio Criminal Syndicalism statute, overruled Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927), and articulated a new test — the "imminent lawless action" test — for judging what was then referred to as "seditious speech" under the First Amendment: “ …Whitney has been thoroughly discredited by later decisions. See Dennis v. United States, 341 U.S. 494, at 507 (1951). These later decisions have fashioned the principle that the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action. ”

although it is noted the outer limits of the Brandenburg test have been largely unchallenged.

The UN resolution would seem to have been reworded to fit what is already accepted US constitutional law, i.e that limitations to free speech based on the incitement to violence must be likely to produce imminent lawless action.

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 02:24:02 UTC | #905418

Go to: Richard Dawkins: "The tyranny of the discontinuous mind"

diotallevi's Avatar Jump to comment 12 by diotallevi

I don't really get this article? Surely categorisation of alike things is a basic and incredible enabling part of our basic mind. Categorising things into absolutes is an extension of this (and really each category we make is an absolute). The poverty line thing helps define a point where people can be classed as poor, and policy etc can be developed to alleviate it. Removing the distinction would leave an amorphous blob of people who may or may not be poor, hold on we'll investigate the details of every single case and make policy on the fly - meanwhile the money has been spent on junkets/war/bread and circuses.

As long as poeple people understand absolutes are largely artifical, and dedicate themselves to understanding the reasons for the distinctions, then its fine to use them - necessary in fact.

Tue, 20 Dec 2011 03:19:47 UTC | #901245

More Comments by diotallevi