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[Xmca-l] Re: Habits (Greek: ethos)
You just misunderstood me, because we are dealing with a duck-rabbit.
I'll try again. Sorry for the length, but I feel I have to slow down to explain it, and make some repetitions.
For me, and I say for me (not everyone will agree and that is fine) how I see it, there is an order here in the world. Some others like to say there is no order and everything is arbitrary, and some others say something else along that continuum between order and chaos. But I prefer to say there is an order here that follows laws that we may or may not understand.
Something like gravity. Gravity is outside human desire. No matter what I desire to do or not, gravity will do as it will do. No matter how much pollution that humans make on this planet the planet will do as it will do. The moon will do as it will do, the universe will do as it will do, pretty much unaffected. There is something of an order larger than us, and it will function accordingly, which is only partially visible (knowable) to us. Since we are inside this order, we are not only part of it, but are subject to it. We cannot exist outside of it.
If I jump off a cliff, I am subject to the laws of gravity, no matter who is President of the United States, no matter my gender, or social standing. I do not have to change my species to figure this out.
Because we live in an infinite universe, there can be no conclusions made that can be said to be final. If we did, inevitably something within the universe would change, and it would negate our conclusion, since that conclusion was derived from a now non-apparent universe. That is why we have brains and minds, and we use them to understand the changing and forever novel world. Otherwise, if this were not the case, we could just go on autopilot and enjoy the world, much like animals do, or more mechanically, like the hand that travels over the face of a clock while time passes. So we must always try to evaluate our environment and our place in it, without making any ultimate conclusions, and yet we must create ad hoc standards so that we can remain together in harmony for the time being. Until we become borg-like or hive-like, (if that should happen, but I'd prefer not), we have to create standard to live by, so we can get along, not just between ourselves, but with this larger order greater than ourselves.
In the same way we come to understand gravity (experientially, as well as scientifically with math formulas and all that), we come to understand this underlying (moral) order, but it is not ever going to be conclusive, because it exists outside of us, beyond us, and yet it permeates us and our society. Yet we try to make our conclusions, relative to ourselves, so we might survive another day, and enjoy an ice cream cone with a friend. But no matter who gets to enjoy the ice cream, we must balance it on the cone, otherwise it will fall off, even if I am President of the United States.
Perhaps I am not being precise in my thinking, that is why I am posting so that I can try to be more precise about this, to explain how I see it.
There are going to be new moral standards to discover that are outside of us, again because we live in an infinite universe that is constantly changing. Consider the new moral standards that are being discovered through the use of cell phones. They (phones and their consequent moral standards) did not exist before. No one could make a final conclusion about how to use a technology that did not exist in 1920. But the material order is no different today than it was then, it's just that a new technology configured the material of the universe in a particularly new configuration that now extends to an apparently new order. But really, the order hasn't changed, because that original order is what determines how a technology manifests in the world, just to us it seems like something new, because we don't have a standard to go by. The laws of that order are outside of us and it is likely we don't understand them, until we are forced to deal with the order, because it has pushed itself into our awareness.
So if there is a connection to cell phones and bee colony collapse, then in response the existing moral standard has to change, if we want to remain in harmony with the larger order, an order that we evolved into, through, and because of that order. If that order changes the environment too much from that basis of our own evolution, we will not survive. Period. If we value ourselves enough we will create standards to follow, so we can survive.
Consider climate change as an aspect of that larger order. A hurricane created from rising ocean temperatures as-if creates in us its own moral standard in that it abides within the universe at a given point in time and space. A moral is not arbitrary. Neither is a standard. It arises from change and an awareness of that change. They both are always being evaluated, tested, decided upon. When a moral does not work as a standard (for everyone), or a standard is no longer moral (creates harm), the moral standard is discarded and a new one must be determined.
For me, a moral standard is something we adopt in a moment of time, it is never conclusive. How can it be? Like a surfer rides the force of water, balanced atop a surf board, atop the wave. This order always is evaluated and reconsidered, and even rediscovered by us. That is why our morality (in us and in the environment) changes over time. I think so.
The appearance is that those in power force an order upon others, but that force exists in a larger order that will respond accordingly, like the hurricane, like the bee colony collapse, like the sentiments behind the perpetrators of the Dallas shootings. It is amazing to me that police officers, judges, and legislators believe that they can contribute to this kind of persecution of innocents without something blowing back. It's not something I want to see, in terms of the violence and harm, but it is very well within the larger order that it is manifesting. Something in all of us accepts the reasons behind the push back. At the same time, something in all of us wants to see the harmony respected, which will make us act. That is the larger order at work in all of us.
To be moral is to be in harmony, how to be in harmony is up to you, because that is an expression of your freedom.
Morality in the total picture is NOT a product of power and power relations, unless you mean a power beyond ourselves, and our relationship to that power. Morality is the order, but I don't mean humanly derived order or human derived morality. I'm not talking about God, just forces of the world that we find ourselves. If we live in complete harmony with the total, with all that exists outside us, including all that is beyond our human desire, then it can be quite easy to live in harmony with each other.
When we don't, then the larger order sets it straight, maybe not right away, but eventually.
So I had a nice chuckle at what Bertrand Russell said, because he's right, though I'm not sure he understood why. So yes, I do agree with Russell, but I don't think he would agree with me. I could be wrong, but I'd say that's because he wanted to live inside a world made of human desire with no moral and no standard. That is impossible to do.
Thanks for reading my post and letting me share my thoughts.
And thanks Paul, for sharing yours.