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Old December 30th, 2016, 06:03 AM   #1
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Pathagoras, Socrates and morality


Let us see if we can speak of morality with no mention of religion since it appears speaking of religion and morals gets a thread closed. But nothing is more important than understanding good moral judgment. If you can please begin with listening to beautiful light music, to encourage a good mood. (we might discuss what music and entertaining mass media have to do with our mood and perspective on life.)

How do we determine what is moral and what is not?

My understanding of moral comes from an ancient Greek notion that moral is to know the law, that is universal law, and the Greeks explored this both with math and through dialogue, such as Socrates discussions with his peers and young men. Many were exploring what things were made of before Aristotle, and Socrates declined on going there, because this lead to the notion of atoms, and that train of thought didn't interest him as much as politics and how we get along with one another. However, especially with today's science, it is obvious that science plays a very important role in good moral judgment. This would be the path Pythagoras, Leucippus of Miletus and his student Democritus of Abdera followed, and music was thought to be a part of math and connected with morality.

In an argument about justice, Socrates said if we exploit others, sooner or later those others become a problem we have to deal with. Examples of this would be racism and slavery, such as Sparta's practice of holding helots as state-owned slaves, and Athenian slaves or the poor. What is just is also what is moral, and we discover this by exchanging thoughts until there is a consensus on the best reasoning.

I must add, the Greek notion of moral also meant knowing good manners. Call this an experiment if you will. Let us attempt to respect and honor each other while we also seek truth and an understanding of morality. What do you think will happen if we want everyone to feel good about being here?

Last edited by athena; December 30th, 2016 at 06:06 AM.
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Old December 30th, 2016, 12:58 PM   #2

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Moved to philosophy.

Do not let this become another attempt to circumvent a closed thread.
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Old December 30th, 2016, 01:04 PM   #3

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In a few words, if Greeks were right about morality, today we would be all Greeks ... it seems that Ancient Greece philosophy has been almost forgotten.

This, in human environment, means that it doesn't work ... it's an utopia.

Human beings are well far from what ancient Greek philosophers idealized.
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Old December 30th, 2016, 05:02 PM   #4
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I suppose people are far from what most moralists theorized, Greek or later.

In some ways, though not many people read Greek philosophy now I suppose, it seems to me quite relevant to our modern situation.

As the OP says, unlike later religious (are we allowed to use that word? Sorry if not) systems it is less about adherence to a list of rules from above, and more about the individual's relation to society and other people in it. (Though they tended to place the polis as more superior to the person than we mostly would).

I think these are two basic ethical approaches - as I posted before, imagine someone alone on a desert island, their actions can't affect anyone else, can they do anything really immoral (rather than, perhaps, distasteful)? If your ethics is about one's effects on others and society you might think 'no' (I tend to that), whereas they could still break religious moral rules (suicide eg).

Now we have societies including a variety of faiths, and people with none, perhaps ethics could be more of the societal kind. This might even favour qualities that have not been significant virtues before (tolerance perhaps?)

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Old December 30th, 2016, 08:05 PM   #5

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Let's carry on with this discussion without reference to religion insofar as possible, and definitely without discussion of the merits or otherwise of religious doctrine.

Johnminitt, consider the actions of the survivors of the Uruguay Andes air crash. That is almost the desert island scenario you describe.
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Old December 31st, 2016, 02:28 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Naomasa298 View Post
Let's carry on with this discussion without reference to religion insofar as possible, and definitely without discussion of the merits or otherwise of religious doctrine.

Johnminitt, consider the actions of the survivors of the Uruguay Andes air crash. That is almost the desert island scenario you describe.
I don't know a lot about that crash, I suppose there is a similarity. Though the survivors' actions would affect each other I suppose, and friends and families at home?

I thought I had talked about two rather different approaches to ethical ideas, without really calling one better or worse than the other (at the most more suitable for a particular situation).
I think discussing ethical ideas in the past without reference to religion could be a bit limiting (considering how important it has been), so I'll leave it there.
Is this a general policy re religion, or just for this thread? The discussion of the merits/demerits of all sorts of ideas/beliefs seems quite common around here.

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Old December 31st, 2016, 05:57 AM   #7

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Religion will invariably descend into the merits or otherwise of belief in religion. It won't be permitted in this thread and it if it goes there, this thread will be closed.
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Old December 31st, 2016, 10:58 AM   #8

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Isn't the basis of morality treating others as with the same regard that you, your friends and kin want to be treated?

Everything beyond that simple precept is extraneous detail.
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Old December 31st, 2016, 04:52 PM   #9

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Isn't the basis of morality treating others as with the same regard that you, your friends and kin want to be treated?
If so, then so long as the wealthy miser believes he would be content being left to starve alone in a cold alleyway were he less industrious, then he is morally justified in ignoring the plight of a homeless man right outside of his manor, and some libertarian-inclined individuals truly hold such beliefs. If so, then the Church inquisitor who truly believes he would be willing to suffer torture in his service to his God is morally justified in torturing others to a similar end, and people have held such beliefs. If so, the suicide bomber is justified in part because he treats himself as he treats others: with annihilation. Or to use an even more striking example based upon a interview I once saw, there was a fellow in Africa whose society believed that raping a woman gave a man special potency in combat, so of course he attempted to take advantage of that special potency by raping women. He was asked by his interviewer if he would accept the same happening to his sister, and ultimately he said yes, so long as the need was truly there. Is it, then, moral of him to rape in accordance with his beliefs, simply because he'd be willing to see his kin on the same side of that treatment?

If the sole standard of morality is the Golden Rule, then man is justified in behaving horribly to the exact extent that he's willing to endure horror, which does not seem like a very uplifting standard. If that's all morality is and all it can ever be, then it's not a very meaningful standard. I suspect that it's not without reason that every moral thinker who articulated the Golden Rule failed to limit their views on the matter merely to said articulation.

Last edited by Fox; December 31st, 2016 at 04:56 PM.
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Old December 31st, 2016, 07:12 PM   #10

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It looks like I was wrong,
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