Time Heals All Wounds.. And Then Kills the Patient
<Previous Next>
Mon Aug 16 09:15:35 2004
Straight Path Closed. Multiple detours available

Sometimes the simple, desirable path for things just isn't there, and we find ourselves choosing between a number of more complex routes with unknown destinations. So goes my personal life. Accidentally relates to the main part of this entry..

Here's yet another restatement of my philosophy, this time in response to an article by Christians that I was sent and more or less asked to comment on. The topic was the traditional "Can people be good without a belief in our god" kind of thing. The specific title of the thing is "Can We Be Good Without God", by J Budziszewski.

I guess I might as well give this thing a title too. I'll call it

Virtue and Self-Insight by Pat Gunn Distribution is unlimited, and provided notice of any modifications is made, modification is also kosher.

Good is a useful social and personal construct, but like 'tasty', it is ultimately a human judgement that, while having great practical use and meaning in our day-to-day existence, ultimately boils down to values rather than fact. There are, of course, things that are common between most people, just as we might say that sugar is sweet, but these things in values are born of common self-interest and instinct, the latter being emergent of selection. Good and Evil are useful social constructs in that they allow us to pretend to universalize some societal-concensus-reached principles so as to argue for their acceptance by people who otherwise would adopt different, perhaps societally damaging viewpoints. This use is merely propoganda, however, and when the curtain is pulled back, we lose our hold on them. It can be unfortunate, but as people who value truth above all else, it is duty to give up this control over people when it is dishonest. Good and Evil, as ideas, are slavery to days past, a representative of value systems which we are asked not to question. Virtue (Here, note, I'm starting to speak of my philosophy, and not meta-philosophy, which you see above) does not come from following others. The christians, and anyone else who submits to value systems of ages past, actually have the worst understanding of values. By simply adopting someone else's value system as their own, and adopting notions of 'sin' against those values, they acquire an unnecessarily adversarial understanding of themselves and their desires, and prevent really understanding what it means to be human. As philosophers who are open to inquiry, we can eventually understand the numerous desires in ourselves, from the societally unacceptable and ugly to the sublime and cooperative. We don't need to pretend that the origin of any of these lie outside our own mind, nor shall we say "I want to do this, but I just cannot help myself". Instead, we can say, "I have conflicting desires -- how can I best deal with them?". Self-understanding is a prerequisite to virtue. When we hear people talk of helping the poor because of their god, all we can say is "they're suited to be a slave, and their act has little other meaning". Instead, the most meaning is found among those who can say, "I help the poor because I value their human experience", that is the sign of someone whose values we admire, someone we call virtuous.

Where does that value for the poor come from? Why is it virtuous? It can come from many life experiences, with soul-searching and instinct. We build, rearrange, and drop values over life. It is virtuous, but only from our perspective, as people who first adopt the metaphilosophy - our understanding of values free of advocacy of a particular configuration, and then adopt some set of values that more or less resembles our own on some rough level. The first is suitable for all, providing a framework for people to place their individual worldview in the second.