Honor Society

Everyone loves a healthy debate. Post an idea or comment about a current event or issue. Let others post their ideas also. This area is for those who love to explore other points of view.

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Postby GreatCarouser » Fri Jun 23, 2006 11:54 am

"Laws are partly formed for the sake of good men, in order to instruct them how they may live on friendly terms with one another, and partly for the sake of those who refuse to be instructed, whose spirit cannot be subdued, or softened, or hindered from plunging into evil."
Plato


There lies the crux of it; what is 'evil'? How and what you lump under its heading will expose what you believe is 'good'. If it is so for us can it not be so for our 'enemies'? Isn't this one of the ways we define/decide who those enemies are?

Evil and Good are like History. They are written by the Victors. Where would our religions be if one of the 'tyrants' who chose to challenge them had succeeded in wiping them out? What would we be teaching our kids was 'good' had the Axis won WWII?

Whenever this country has gone to war we've been told it is the only/best way to protect our 'way of life' which we want to believe is a 'moral' or 'good' way. Why then is it so difficult for us to understand that our 'enemies' are just doing what we are doing, only they value aspects of things rather differently than we do? Maybe some of the problem is that many of the 'truths' we believe are (or should be) self evident are anything but to people who view things from a vastly different perspective and once we begin to consciously 'remember' (because I believe this is one of the things we 'know' but allow to slip off the table in the heat of this 'argument') this and choose to empathize with our adversaries' point of view we may have begun to find a way out of our troubles. I use 'empathize' in the above sentence in the sense of 'seeing' things through anothers eyes. Whether or not one chooses to be 'sympathetic' to that 'point of view' is another issue.
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Postby Shapley » Fri Jun 23, 2006 12:14 pm

Let me try to set the record straight on something that seems to be misinterpreted from one of my previous posts: When I said that I believe that we have an internal sense of right and wrong from birth, I was not advocating a 'let your conscience be your guide' approach to morality or law and order.

What I am saying is this: It is my belief that, if you took a child at birth and seperated him from human contact, 'raised by wolves' as it were, the child would still grow up with some basic sense of right and wrong. That is not to say that he could function in society with no adjustment, but that he would undestand that certain things are wrong.

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Postby BigJon@Work » Fri Jun 23, 2006 12:28 pm

GC, you seem to be saying that there are no absolutes of right and wrong, is this true?
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Postby jamiebk » Fri Jun 23, 2006 1:09 pm

What I am saying is this: It is my belief that, if you took a child at birth and seperated him from human contact, 'raised by wolves' as it were, the child would still grow up with some basic sense of right and wrong. That is not to say that he could function in society with no adjustment, but that he would undestand that certain things are wrong.


Shap...even wolves have societal laws and order. There is a lot of structure in packs. The child would learn those customs/rules and he/she would learn also from his/her own experience through cause/effect. "Right and wrong" would only be realized as either complying (or not) with the order and laws of the pack or what he/she has learned through his/her cause/effect experiences.
Jamie

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Postby BenODen » Fri Jun 23, 2006 1:11 pm

I'm with GC and Jamie, we've totally gotten away from empathizing with others. I think part of it is that there are some real crises that need immediate attention and some situations that don't deserve that lable that are being called crises.

The environment may be hanging by a thread demanding immediate action, terrorism threatens to make our country into an unsafe place like Israel, the laws of our country threaten to exclude any law not based in secular reasoning, the country is letting people in across our borders who have no right to be here, our cities are becoming more dangerous places, our rights are being eroded in support of one or more of these crises, etc. Depending on who you are, one or more of these issues most likely rises to extreme importance, and there is always a polar oposite that someone else is fighing for. How do you compromise or even empathize with others in a climate of crisis? It seems to me that this is where we are...

The culture wars are but one aspect, where a group of people seeks to change the basis of our sense of right and wrong, and another fights against this change. It ups the ante a lot that it has been happening gradually over the past 40 years and that it feels like the last stand for the old way of determining what's right and what's wrong. Gay marriage may indeed weaken the religious meaning of marriage (call it a civil union and have government only act on civil unions) but marriage itself has been devastated over the past century or century and a half, evidenced by the high divorce rate. They can't instantly make healthy marriages, but they can certainly try draw a line in the sand and say marriage is between man and woman, keeping it from being diluted even further. Add to those people ones that say that the government shouldn't be rewarding people who have homosexual unions, and you have two groups of people that disagree in the details who stand against gay marriage, and may compromise some to stand as one against it... The last stand of those that have differing understandings of how we treat homosexuals... There are many other "last stands" being played out as we speak.
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Postby GreatCarouser » Sat Jun 24, 2006 3:13 am

BigJon@Work wrote:GC, you seem to be saying that there are no absolutes of right and wrong, is this true?


I suppose you might make that argument by extension. What I actually was trying to say is that any 'absolutes' are learned and the learner(s) decide what is absolute. If there is any historical truth to the Old Testament story of the destruction of the followers of Moloch, for example, we may certainly posit that Moloch's followers felt absolutely moral while sacrificing children to their deity. It was 'right'. I forget whether they were 'purged' completely but if there were any survivors I would think the 'absolutes' changed for them. They were at any event willing to fight for their beliefs.

The Hebrews killed them primarily because the Baa'lites were idolators and because they believed that God (good) had instructed them to do so. Isn't this a case where what one would think of as an absolute, the Commandment 'thou shalt not kill', is superseded? If so it appears some moral 'absolutes' are rather fluid under certain circumstances although someone who believes he is in direct contact with God would certainly feel empowered to do anything he believed was ordered by his deity and would surely feel it was right or good to do so.
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Postby Giant Communist Robot » Sat Jun 24, 2006 11:40 pm

Shapley said:
but I'm an advocate of local control. If that means the local people vote to cut their own throats, educationally speaking, so be it.


Doesn't the truth count for anything? Are you telling me just because a majority of people in a school district want to teach creationism and deny evolution its ok? Is it ok to withhold facts and substitute some religiously satisfying dogma? Maybe everyone in that district is not on the same wavelength when it comes to 'creation science.' Too bad for them, though. How fair is it to the kids?

I remember reading that one time the Indiana legislature wanted to round off pi, but the measure didn't pass. 3.15 if I recall correctly. If it had passed, would that have been ok?


And so on.
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Postby Giant Communist Robot » Sat Jun 24, 2006 11:45 pm

Bigjon said:

GC, you seem to be saying that there are no absolutes of right and wrong, is this true?



I think Ruth Benedict touted this line once. Something about judging another cultures' values by your own cultures'. She changed her mind after WW2 when the Nazi and Japanese atrocities became known.
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Postby GreatCarouser » Sun Jun 25, 2006 2:30 am

Giant Communist Robot wrote:
Doesn't the truth count for anything?


Depends on whose 'truth' you are speaking about. If we are talking about abstracts such as 'good' or 'evil' the 'truth' is very much in the eye of the beholder. If we posit that someone believes in a supreme being who is all powerful then why is it such a leap for us to understand that said person could easily find it 'true' that this supreme being could suspend scientific principles at will? Understanding that point of view in no way commits us to believing it; it only allows us to 'empathize' with someone who does believe it and perhaps to even understand how it can be as true to them as whatever 'truths' we believe are to us.
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Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Sun Jun 25, 2006 5:10 am

OK, folks, you're getting passionate again. If you'll just separate the philosophy (which is where creationism, Intelligent Design, and solipsism belong) from the science (which is where the biology goes) you'll discover that you have no problem.

Sheesh. Next there'll be somebody trying to apply logic to grammar and spelling. :shock:
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Postby Serenity » Sun Jun 25, 2006 7:53 am

I wouldn't equate creationism and Intelligent Design with Philosophy, the love and pursuit of wisdom by intellectual means. They're more of a protestant fundamentalist knee-jerk reaction to secularism and Darwin's evolution theory.
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Postby barfle » Sun Jun 25, 2006 10:26 am

Selma in Sandy Eggo wrote: Insofar as your beliefs are part of your character, they are part of your voting decisions. Selection of candidates for public office based on their religious agendas sounds like a bad idea to me.

A person's religious belief is an indication of how they feel in many other aspects of life. Although religion is not necessarily a make/break point for me, it certainly can be a point I consider when making my decision.
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Postby shostakovich » Sun Jun 25, 2006 12:28 pm

The following comes from Dai Bread, who is having difficulty getting through.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Re "Honour" societies.

I've been uneasy about this topic since I started reading the thread, and watching a Brazilian film "Behind the Sun" last night.

Whenever someone talks to me of honour, it is always to his advantage and to my cost. Always.

The movie is about a couple of feuding families. "Honour" features prominently, as does murder.

Dai Bread
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Postby jamiebk » Sun Jun 25, 2006 1:04 pm

If you want to see something of "honor" societies...watch Syriana. Viewed it last night. I think it is very close to the truth of the way things work over there and here.
Jamie

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Postby DavidS » Sun Jun 25, 2006 1:41 pm

Wow, heavy stuff!
Shouldn't we be analysing this issue in terms of "back to basics" - the right of a human being to freedom, livelihood, protection from tyranny and injustice, and the pursuit of happiness (provided it is not at other people's expense)?
That is my conception of *honour* and *righteousness*; like dai bread, I am uneasy about other constructions of this matter.
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Postby Shapley » Sun Jun 25, 2006 2:27 pm

GCR,

In answer to your question: Yes, it is okay if it is legally decided at the proper level.

The alternative to that would be that the Federal government establishes the curiculae for all school districts. Fine, if we assume that only qualified and reasonable individuals will be appointed to the positions that make that determination. As it is, The State of Indiana could make that decision, and about 1/50th of the population would go to school learning that pi = 3.15. If, however, President Dan Quayle should appoint to the Department of Education a majority of the those people from the State of Indiana, and we've placed that power at the Federal level, then the entire population learns that pi = 3.15.

The lower down the chain we establish the power to decide, the fewer people will be affected by bad decisions.

V/R
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Postby shostakovich » Sun Jun 25, 2006 4:51 pm

There's no question global warming does not affect Hell. I've just agreed with Shap AGAIN!
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Postby Giant Communist Robot » Mon Jun 26, 2006 11:10 am

Depends on whose 'truth' you are speaking about


Sounds like equivocation. Pi is pi, not some other number. I admit not knowing much about religions, but the idea of an omipotent God seems absurd. There must be limitations to his power:

Can he create a rock so heavy even he can't lift it?

If sin is an act against God's will, can God sin?

and so on.
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Postby Giant Communist Robot » Mon Jun 26, 2006 11:18 am

Shapley said

In answer to your question: Yes, it is okay if it is legally decided at the proper level


From a practical viewpoint, I think you are correct. Overall, it makes little difference if a small number kids learn the incorrect value for pi, or anything else.

Personally, I feel sorry for the kids who have been misled.
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Postby Shapley » Mon Jun 26, 2006 11:51 am

Giant Communist Robot wrote:Personally, I feel sorry for the kids who have been misled.


I agree. However, living as we do in an imperfest world, I think the system I advocate minimizes the level of damage such decisions can cause.

I attended parochial school through grade eight, then went to public high school. I can assure I received as much misinformation in the four years of high school (outside of religion, which I won't discuss, since I see no practical end to doing so) as I did in eight years of parochial school. Most of it was not institutionalized (i.e. established) curiculae so much as teachers trying to teach beyond their knowledge level. Apparenlty the idea of telling a bunch of students "I don't know the answer" was considered more damaging than making up an answer. If the teachers in parochial school were stumped by a question, they would attempt to look up an answer (most of them, at least), even though our resources were limited (pre-internet days and all...), and most of our encyclopaedias were at least ten years old. Public school teachers (for the most part) apparently wanted to 'wow' us with their ability to have an answer to everything without having to look it up, and so they simply rattled off whatever came to mind.

I guess my point is that kids are going to be fed misinformation in school, no matter who sets the educational criteria. Our goals should be two-fold: first, teach the kids how to research and identify the correct answers, rather than expecting teachers to be able to impart them. second, allow the educational criteria to be determined at a local level, so that adjustments can be made easily and misinformation does not become institutionalized.

V/R
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