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Wednesday, May 30. 2007
MIT prof Alex Byrne takes on the subject of meta-ethics in the Boston Review. Byrne is of the view that moral law is built into the structure of nature itself (which I would hear translated as "the Creator made it that way"). One quote:
Is pleading "nature" a cop-out, or profound? The piece is a heck of a good summary of the current and past basic thinking about meta-ethics, but you have to put your Thinking Cap on before reading.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:50 | Comments (11) | Trackbacks (0)
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I like it. The epigram "man is the measure of the universe", so often derided as nonsensical given the disparities in every metric, could as easily mean just what BD quoted, that if right-and-wrong are derivative concepts, then they must have non-notional precursors somewhere.
Whatever it is we address with our notions of morality, God or nature, it must be hard-wired in accordance with the laws of the universe, else we wouldn't be here.
Spinoza said that the first proof of God is His appearance inside our minds.
A 'scientific' rationale for Natural Law? What will they come up with next? Nothing new under the sun.
sorry off-thread, but I recall some folks here were concerned about this very thing.
"In particular, morality is a natural phenomenon." Oh?
Obviously, the 100 million or so victims of Soviet and Chinese communist genocide in its varied horrid forms must have missed out on what circulates for thought at MIT. As did those unfortunate enough to have been trapped within Nazi German territory who offended their sense of Aryan natural morality. As did the screaming victims of the Aztecs so glorified now in the annals of LaRaza's delusions. And so forth down that hall of history--where babies were boiled, and sacrified, and drowned and eaten...and today in Clinton's America--are aborted to the happy liberal-libertarian tune of 45,000,000 since 1973 and counting. Including being murdered just as they are leaving the womb. And we count on professor Peter Singer of Princeton and his ethcs--may also be eliminated through natural morality up till one month old and expanding.
Meta-ethics my derriere. Get a job!
About to post,then read JH, and can only say that we live in a fallen world. The existence of evil does not mean that morality is not a natural phenomenon. Saying "get a job" in response to the problem of evil, is an understandable human reaction, but it's throwing out the baby with the bath (boiling?) water, I think.
This from the article was interesting:
"Do the gods love good things because they are good, or are good things good because the gods love them? Surely the former—if Zeus, Uranus, and the rest started loving pointless suffering that would not make pointless suffering good. No doubt God, if there is one, enjoins us to avoid pointless suffering, but that is not why pointless suffering is bad. It is bad anyway—that is precisely why God enjoins us to avoid it."
Compare this with 1 John 1:5 "This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all."
But what about this from Isaiah 45: "I am the Lord, and there is no other,
Besides me there is no God …
I am the Lord and there is no other.
I form light and create darkness,
I make weal and create woe,
I am the Lord, who do all these things. (Is 45:7)"
I suppose I could lamely repeat the Narnia refrain that "Aslan is not a tame lion."
Anyway, am reprinting the article for the teen Bible study. Let's see what they have to say. They are each bringing in a poem, story or passage from Scripture with an image of God at work in the world, that they think sums Him up. We shall see...
Meanwhile, they are smart and young,but I am feeling old and dumb and tired, browsing and came across this, somewhat related
From Antigone, Creon’s comment:
“Of evils current upon earth ?The worst is money. Money 'tis that sacks ?Cities, and drives men forth from hearth and home; ?Warps and seduces native innocence, ?And breeds a habit of dishonesty. ?But they who sold themselves shall find their greed ?Out-shot the mark, and rue it soon or late.”
And then the famous chorus:
CHORUS ?(Str. 1) ?Many wonders there be, but naught more wondrous than man; ?Over the surging sea, with a whitening south wind wan, ?Through the foam of the firth, man makes his perilous way; ?And the eldest of deities Earth that knows not toil nor decay ?Ever he furrows and scores, as his team, year in year out, ?With breed of the yoked horse, the ploughshare turneth about. ?
(Ant. 1) ?The light-witted birds of the air, the beasts of the weald and the wood ?He traps with his woven snare, and the brood of the briny flood. ?Master of cunning he: the savage bull, and the hart ?Who roams the mountain free, are tamed by his infinite art; ?And the shaggy rough-maned steed is broken to bear the bit. ?
(Str. 2) ?Speech and the wind-swift speed of counsel and civic wit, ?He hath learnt for himself all these; and the arrowy rain to fly ?And the nipping airs that freeze, 'neath the open winter sky. ?He hath provision for all: fell plague he hath learnt to endure; ?Safe whate'er may befall: yet for death he hath found no cure. ?
(Ant. 2) ?Passing the wildest flight thought are the cunning and skill, ?That guide man now to the light, but now to counsels of ill. ?If he honors the laws of the land, and reveres the Gods of the State ?Proudly his city shall stand; but a cityless outcast I rate ?Whoso bold in his pride from the path of right doth depart; ?Ne'er may I sit by his side, or share the thoughts of his heart. ?
What strange vision meets my eyes, ?Fills me with a wild surprise? ?Sure I know her, sure 'tis she, ?The maid Antigone. ?Hapless child of hapless sire, ?Didst thou recklessly conspire, ?Madly brave the King's decree? ?Therefore are they haling thee? ?[Enter GUARD bringing ANTIGONE] ?
Roger. I take it you're a 'red in tooth and claw' guy? Conscience is natural.
High-end comments today, tending towards the "divine spark" direction, I sense. Is the "divine spark" "natural" or supernatural?
After a day of fly-fishing amongst bird song, babbling brook, a cheerful Mr. Sun, and delightful companions, I am hard put to find a disctinction between the two.
I think this may be On Topic, I could be wrong.
I think I mentioned up post that 'morality' precedes modern history. Good and bad were discovered long before any organized effort. At least in my extremely humble opinion.
Wow! Cool link! Thanks Luther! I loved it! Will print it out for my kids.
I worked at one point in a hospital where I spent a lot of time with patients recovering from strokes and comas. Again and again they spoke of hearing and seeing the nurses, doctors, cleaning people and relatives talking about them as if they (the patient) weren't there because they were in a coma, supposedly vegetative states. Many cited specific things, minutiae that were later proved to be right. I saw the changes also in some patients in comas when we would pray with them. Was it the familiar rhythms? Words? A warm hand holding theirs? Their soul leaping at hopeful message when their brain was hurting? Our clumsy willingness to be channels of God's power to heal? Who knows, but grace was present and it transcended the assumed biological processes.
And then there are the other ones who are not healed, and do not ever wake up. Passed over for miraculous healing. Someone near and dear to me. Your link revived my hope that his soul is alive even tho his brain only functions now at the lowest reptilian level, keeping him breathing and digesting...
I am always recommending this now probably dated book, not because it is the last word, but because it is so thought-provoking: Julian Jaynes "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind." It has cool examples, even if some of his theories are woolly. And nice use of literature...
That title was getting lots of attention some months back --something in it about how the ancients, the Homeric Greeks, had one fewer level of consciousness than we? Their gods were thus immediate and intimate? I needs to read it--