Re: Moral relativism.

I'm not a real doofus, but I play one at a national laboratory. (
Tue, 19 Aug 1997 1:24:21 -0500

> Wow, it was kinda neat to see Wayne discuss moral relativism rather
> than merely anagrammatize it.

And he gets a philosophical response from CobraBoy, without a hint of
Spice Gurls lyrics! This is almost too weird. And you thought Tim only
did clock speeds!

> Pay attention-there's a quiz!
> (Yes, I noted the subtle '!' on Cheers! on your Bordeaux post, as a
> deviation from the usual comma, as above :-)

Straight A's for Ron! Quite observant.

> > And aside from being constitutionally silly,
> That's your best trait of course, Wayne :-)

Ah, you're pandering now!

> Amazingly enough, the neo-Austrians could be the thing to bring this
> whole discussion full circle back to FoRK's usual technology related
> topics. Ie, that the economic model we're groping for in the 'free bit'
> webspace seems to have a lot to do with neo-Austs.

Yeah, I've noticed that from the dcsb posts, eg.

> Maybe. I haven't really figured out any of it. To tell the truth, I don't
> expect to. I just know that existing Faiths, including the one I was
> raised into, seem to tightly couple their ethical basis with a lot of
> ritual. And I guess I just can't take the rituals anymore.

I have a fair amount of sympathy for you there, although in a slightly
backwards way. I can't stomach most of the modern trends in church
music. Give me Bach, please. So, I'm rather split between the rituals
of the more high-church side, which can be exquisitely beautiful, or an
utterly empty shell, and the more up-to-date, low-church, protestant,
roll-your-own type, which can be trite and shallow, with no regard for
the historical roots.

And I have little patience with "we don't smoke, and we don't chew"
legalistic trappings.

> Even in the very small
> doses of it I still endure, such as major holidays assembled with family,
> I find it stifling.

Many here find Christmas to be a very depressing season, for a variety
of reasons, not the least of which is that materialism doesn't satisfy.
Or the batteries ran out.

> I'm not sure what an acceptable ritual-free system might
> be, for me.

You've made a huge start, getting as far as you have. It's not easy
going. I urge you to continue to think about it. What you like, what
you don't, what hurts. And talk about it. But that's far easier said
(or emailed, rather) than done, in my experience.

> in "the inherent dignity of people and in working together to achieve
> harmony and understanding."

Laudable goals. I'm not convinced they're attainable without the
bearded characters, though. Where we've come from has a great deal to
do with who we are, whether in matters of faith or in relationships.
One might expect that a faith in an eternal being would have a good
deal of history behind it, not to mention a bunch of bearded nonsense
like the seasonal holiday trappings.

Similarly, though way off topic, family systems are multigenerational.
You cannot simply decide "I don't like the way my parents are" and
automatically be different. It takes a good deal of work,
introspection, and in the end, knowledge and appreciation for what they
are and aren't to become wholly ourselves.

> Counterproductive to whom?

To the ones getting murdered, and to the society deprived of the
murdered's energy, thoughts, passions, et cetera. Certainly the wicked
prosper for a while, as some of the old bearded ones have noted. But
the rest of us don't generally benefit as a result, at least not in
ways we're proud of.

> And, from the perspective of the Universe itself, what do words
> like 'productive' and 'counterproductive'
> mean anyway? But we're going around in circles, I think.

Yeah, sort of. If the world's got no God behind it, it doesn't matter.
Or even if it's got a God who doesn't care (like the Deist's). The best
you've got is some concepts like enthalpy, CP violations and symmetry
breaking. Hardly worth getting up for on a fine, sunny morning (er, I
mean during the hours immediately following the rotational positioning
of a particular earthly locale such that solar photons in the so-called
visible light range impinge upon that locale, some of which reflect off
the skin and "hair" (a strange form of spent protein growth) of
certain mammalian denizens and into the ocular orbs of their mates,
producing a pattern of nerve excitations which frequently leads to
ejaculations like "you're beautiful in the morning light", and other
lies), as if it mattered.

But seriously, seeing my kids, backlit by afternoon sunlight, or
pondering the intense physical and especially emotional aspects of
sexuality, it seems unbelievably odd to think of these as mere random
chance. If it's all going to be wiped out for a hyperspace bypass, what
was the point? BTW, the answer's 137 now.

> the Universe as a whole (my substitute for my missing Deity) hasn't
> indicated a disposition to care one way or the other as to whether
> that 'if' clause holds.

Well, yes the cold old universe is a harsh mistress.

> Hey, we're all in this boat together! Start bailing.


> because we recognize the fatality of life from its outset. 'Birth' is
> tragedy, for birth ends in death. 'Love' is tragedy, for it ends in betrayal
> or, at best, in faint memories of what was.

I was hoping for something better than that, myself.

> When's the 'end'? Do we finally get off the merry-go-round then?

A not inconsiderable part of faith is concerned with the end of all
these questions, the summing up, the reckoning. One has to believe in
some kind of end to it all. A personal end at death, a long series of
reincarnations until you achieve nothingness, a big crunch to match the
big bang, or a quiet fizzling expansion, complete cooling, and the
ultimate proton decay in perhaps 10**30 years. Whatever, things will
end. For some of us, we believe it's ultimately the good part, the
wiping away of tears. The final accounting of rights (however few) and
wrongs. And the final filling of a God-sized hole in the center of our
beings. That's how I see it, anyway. Pretty much textbook Christianity
101, really.

> Obvious examples might include
> Saddam's Iraq or Zaire. Saddam seems to have made institutional
> murder & terror a most workable set of values indeed! Should we bring
> in Stalin, or Mao here?

Oh these have an air of stability, in the same way that a morgue can be
a calm place. Not the kind of place I'm looking for. Even relatively.

> about *all* societies are based in no small measure on violations of
> their supposed ethical codes. Whether you think Whitewater is a scandal
> or not, can you really doubt that lying & stealing go on routinely in
> Washington,
> or Ottawa, or Jerusalem, or in any corridors of power? Maybe the 'murder'
> part is rare, but not these 'lesser' ethical breaches.

Quite routine. As I said, it's a broken universe. But as far as
societies' being based on ethical violations, I don't think so, except
for Louisiana, maybe. ;-) We acknowledge that they're likely, and put
checks and balances and grand juries and special prosecutors in place
to keep a lid on it at least. We do seem willing to trade freedom for
something masquerading as security, to a depressing degree, though.

> That's a curious mix - a Calvinist who wants to decriminalize pot! Definitely
> sounds like a FoRKer to me ;-). We're so bloody non-conformist, the only
> things we conform to is nonconformity itself!

Glad to be a curiosity to you! It was destined to be so. :-O

> Well that is an interesting statement. The question has to be, based on
> that, does the almighty power really care two about a mortal finite soul?

Two cents? Bits? Figs? Whatever, I get the point. And yes, I think
so, strangely enough.

> It's blowing up a balloon in a two dimensional world.

I'm not sure I follow the analogy here. Is it that the higher cannot
stoop to the lower in your view? Or that the higher cannot communicate
concern in a way that the lower would be able to grasp? I look at our
situation as being characters in a book, written by God. It's an
interesting and compelling story, but the Author's far beyond the book
in wisdom and understanding. The Author also has the advantage of being
able to flip to any point in the book at any time, which is to say that
the Author is beyond the space-time of the story. The Author knows the
end from the beginning. And most inexplicable of all, He actually cares
about the characters in the story. To the point of writing Himself into
it, for real, and a grisly part at that (not without a triumphant
ending, you understand). But it's chock-full of bearded characters,
some of whom mock Rohit.


immortal revisal ~ ream mall visitor ~ I'm Mrs. Alleviator ~ I rival Maelstrom
Mr. Emil Salivator ~ I'm alarmist lover ~ immortal as liver ~ ravel immoralist