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Old 09-27-2013, 08:00 AM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
41,082 posts, read 18,589,435 times
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NoCapo
Quote:
Not to put words in mordant's mouth, but I think the point is that even in the absence of "tall" or"short" I would still be the same size.
Well, that was my point.....it would all be the same size and the entire concept of tall or short would evaporate. Just as if there was no such thing as unhappiness, we could not distinguish what was happy. So how can you write the above where you demonstrate an understanding of what I have been arguing, then follow it with:

Quote:
The idea that we cannot have good without evil, in any sense other than labels for use in comparison, is just wrong.
...which makes it appear that you are not understanding.
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Old 09-27-2013, 08:19 AM
 
3,404 posts, read 2,252,114 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander View Post
NoCapo

Well, that was my point.....it would all be the same size and the entire concept of tall or short would evaporate. Just as if there was no such thing as unhappiness, we could not distinguish what was happy. So how can you write the above where you demonstrate an understanding of what I have been arguing, then follow it with:


...which makes it appear that you are not understanding.
If you eliminate unhappiness, then everyone is happy, or at least content. Like I said, does eliminating infant mortality make a mother love her child less? Even if she has never known the pain of losing a child, does that somehow diminish her joy in her children?

The fact that we could not label "happy" because we don't have an alternative to compare it with doesn't change the underlying reality, just the label. To believe that if you eliminate sadness, you eliminate joy in any real sense of the word ( as opposed to just labeling something) seems to me a really scary concept. I mean by that logic, doing anything to reduce suffering in any way might be morally wrong or at least morally neutral,because every bit of pain and suffering you eliminate saps that much joy and wonder from the world. That just doesn't make sense to me.

I do understand if every one had a perfectly uniform experience, including mental states and physical response, then we would have no basis for comparing anything with anything else. There would be nothing to compare, and thus no relative judgement. This is the sort of "heaven" state. To achieve the uniformity that one would need to eliminate comparison, the individuality that makes us human, would be stripped away. But all we are talking about is comparison. We would be equally without choice or comparison in eternal torment, but that doesn't change the fact that eternal torment is just that, torment. It would remove our ability to talk about or even thing about it in a meaningful way, but wouldn't change the experience.

-NoCapo
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Old 09-27-2013, 08:25 AM
 
12,215 posts, read 9,900,677 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoCapo View Post
If you eliminate unhappiness, then everyone is happy, or at least content. Like I said, does eliminating infant mortality make a mother love her child less? Even if she has never known the pain of losing a child, does that somehow diminish her joy in her children?

The fact that we could not label "happy" because we don't have an alternative to compare it with doesn't change the underlying reality, just the label.

This. The ability to compare is a communication tool. The ability or inability to use that tool does not change reality.
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Old 09-27-2013, 08:29 AM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
41,082 posts, read 18,589,435 times
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NoCapo
Quote:
If you eliminate unhappiness, then everyone is happy, or at least content. Like I said, does eliminating infant mortality make a mother love her child less? Even if she has never known the pain of losing a child, does that somehow diminish her joy in her children?
If you were understanding what I have been writing, you would recognize that the mother doesn't need to lose a child, she only needs to know that there is a potential for losing her child. The fear of losing a child would certainly be an element in a mother's love.

Quote:
The fact that we could not label "happy" because we don't have an alternative to compare it with doesn't change the underlying reality, just the label.
But it would completely change that reality. You are trying to have it both ways. If we postulate a hypothetical world where there is no unhappiness, then you cannot, as you have been doing here consistently, continue to treat happiness as though we are not in that hypothetical world, you have to treat it according to the reality of the hypothetical. It would be massively altered, how could it possibly not be? In a world of no unhappiness, people would be incredibly different from what we are now and you could not assume that the nature of anything, including the manner in which mother's love their children, would be the same as it is now.

Quote:
I do understand if every one had a perfectly uniform experience, including mental states and physical response, then we would have no basis for comparing anything with anything else.
Well, you write this, but then keep writing other things which contradict it.
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Old 09-27-2013, 08:39 AM
 
7,802 posts, read 5,283,771 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander View Post
If you completed the sentence, how would those be my words?
Again: My point was clear. I do not need you to give me words to use to explain it. I am not finishing your sentences for you. I have enough words of my own without you putting them in my mouth for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander View Post
My purpose was to demonstrate that every moral decision has a positive and negative aspect, that every choice to do good is simultaneously a choice to not do something else which you regard as less moral or immoral.
If you want to look at it that way then go right ahead. It does not change my point that the things we label as "good" are the things that we find conducive to the kind of society we ourselves want to live in. The things we label "bad" are the opposite.

Is there any part of that which you need explained further or is it clear now?
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Old 09-27-2013, 09:15 AM
 
Location: Windham County, VT
10,628 posts, read 4,949,968 times
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I'm an atheist and I have a conscience (empathy, emotion, sentiment)-with the addition of logic,
so I behave based on earthly consequences (which are more than adequately threatening to keep me in line).
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Old 09-27-2013, 09:42 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
14,197 posts, read 9,091,096 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoCapo View Post
Too often people excuse actual suffering as necessary for actual happiness, and not just point out that without distinct labels we cannot evaluate or discuss the concept.
Yes. I would love to have to struggle to discuss how happy and fulfilled I am. I'd love to be hobbled with not having a generally well known antonymic experience to contrast happiness with.

But I would still be able to describe the exact same experience. As you suggest, the experience of a mother holding her child, a pair-bonded couple holding each other, or viewing a beautiful vista would still have the same features and feel the same way, except better. Better because we would not always mentally be waiting for the other shoe to drop. A mother could for example hold her child without clinging in part because of the possibility that the child could get squashed by a bus tomorrow. Instead the mother could freely explore her love and the perfect symmetry of the child's fingers and the depth of those startling green eyes or whatever -- just for what they are, not as something that could be taken from her for any reason or no reason at any moment.
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Old 09-27-2013, 10:07 AM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
41,082 posts, read 18,589,435 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nozzferrahhtoo View Post
Again: My point was clear. I do not need you to give me words to use to explain it. I am not finishing your sentences for you. I have enough words of my own without you putting them in my mouth for me.



If you want to look at it that way then go right ahead. It does not change my point that the things we label as "good" are the things that we find conducive to the kind of society we ourselves want to live in. The things we label "bad" are the opposite.

Is there any part of that which you need explained further or is it clear now?
Yes, it is quite clear that you did not understand what was written. If you did, you would not be writing the above yet again.

Asking you a question is not putting words in your mouth, it is asking that you produce some words from your mouth.
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Old 09-27-2013, 10:21 AM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
41,082 posts, read 18,589,435 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mordant View Post
Yes. I would love to have to struggle to discuss how happy and fulfilled I am. I'd love to be hobbled with not having a generally well known antonymic experience to contrast happiness with.

But I would still be able to describe the exact same experience. As you suggest, the experience of a mother holding her child, a pair-bonded couple holding each other, or viewing a beautiful vista would still have the same features and feel the same way, except better. Better because we would not always mentally be waiting for the other shoe to drop. A mother could for example hold her child without clinging in part because of the possibility that the child could get squashed by a bus tomorrow. Instead the mother could freely explore her love and the perfect symmetry of the child's fingers and the depth of those startling green eyes or whatever -- just for what they are, not as something that could be taken from her for any reason or no reason at any moment.
I have to blow the same foul whistle here as I did with NoCapo. You are incorrect with the above because you are altering the hypothetical.


To wit:

We are postulating a world where happiness does not exist. You are treating this premise as though the only thing different is that unhappiness does not exist, and everything else still operates along the same familiar dynamics.

That would not happen, would it? If we removed unhappiness as a concept, what would that do to other concepts such as ambition? If no one was dissatisfied with anything ( a consequence of removing unhappiness) then where would the impulse to improve things or improve oneself come from? Remove unhappiness and we would be living in whatever world was created by people who were not very ambitious. Not only would the world be different, we would be different, radically so.

So, when you and NoCapo write that even without unhappiness we would still do this and mothers would still do that....you are actually in no sort of position to know such things because you would be in no position to know what the nature of people in that world was. It would no longer be the world you know with the familiar rules, it would be an alien world with rules based on the different realities stemming from the absence of unhappiness.

What we are now is very much a product of the prevailing elements of life, including unhappiness. Remove it and we become something else. This all goes back to the discussion of how we could not be ourselves in a heaven which provided nothing but bliss....that would be utterly alien to our present natures which have been formed in an atmosphere where bliss is fleeting and periodic rather than eternal and unchanging.

That is why it follows that our present conceptions of happiness, are based on our realities, which include, and require, the concept of unhappiness. And to be clear...I do not mean require in the sense of "it had to be this way", I mean in the sense of it being a necessary element for producing the results which we have. (The result isn't necessary, alternative results could be workable, but in order to produce what we have now, it was necessary.)

Is this making more sense now?
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Old 09-27-2013, 10:27 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
14,197 posts, read 9,091,096 times
Reputation: 6081
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander View Post
I have to blow the same foul whistle here as I did with NoCapo. You are incorrect with the above because you are altering the hypothetical.

To wit:

We are postulating a world where happiness does not exist. You are treating this premise as though the only thing different is that unhappiness does not exist, and everything else still operates along the same familiar dynamics.

Is this making more sense now?
Maybe it would help you to look at it all as a continuum:

Abject suffering & misery --> Ordinary suffering --> Minor annoyances --> Contentment --> Happiness --> Joy

I am simply suggesting that if we could lop off everything to the left somewhere between "minor annoyances" and "contentment", we would still have the choice / comparison / contrast you are wanting but without the human misery. Maybe "Minor annoyances" would be the new "suffering". If it would help you, we could leave mortality and death in the picture just to bookend life and keep it from being too compelling -- or perhaps we could have biological immortality, where there's no aging or disease but you can still fall out a window or crash in an airplane. Feel better? It's really not a question of removing all suspense and drama, it's just a question of limiting the lower end of the range.
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