No objective moral truth without a Supreme Being?

Sep 2015
1,746
England
I suspect that much of 'goodness' is born in empathy, the habit of seeing other people as creatures like me, who also matter.
The opposite extreme is, I suppose, the psychopath or sociopath with no empathy for others' feelings or welfare at all.
Where the empathy comes from, I don't know, upbringing with certain examples, or hard-wired to varying degrees because it has had an evolutionary advantage in helping groups be cohesive?
This reminds me of a famous tweet by Gary Lineaker (the former English footballer) posted last year on Twitter, where he said the Right have "no empathy". Of course this is pretty funny, up to a point. Play football Gary, or appear on the tele and do you thang. But leave the intelligence and moral intelligence to others.

Empathy is common to the human race so it turns out, because quite simply the "insula" area of the brain is where empathy is processed, in the main, that can also form part of a triangular complex with two other areas, and our neuron connectors. He might have said people of the Right have "less" empathy than people of the left, but of course it might be that there is a very broad average quite similar across most people, and only a minority of people have lots of empathy (on the left?), and very little empathy (on the right?). Need to try and find out Gary?
 
Sep 2015
1,746
England
I've stated something of my own view in the preceding post. It can't be achieved by a pure effort of will, one has to develop an initial feeling for what is valuable in other people (and indeed for other people's interests in general) and then build on that, it is the development of a certain kind of sensitivity which in turn fuels its own growth, since one is then drawn toward that value rather than having to strain toward it. After all, it is not as if one is sacrificing anything by coming to care for other people as much as for oneself, one should become enriched by it because it provides the basis for richer relationships with others. It seems to me that one forms a false idea of the nature of moral merit if one thinks of it as primarily lying in a willingness to force one self to do things that one doesn't really want to do!
As an ethos for a people, or diverse people, how likely might this have ever been, is, or can be ???

There is upbringing, though that implies a certain amount of potential diversity. There is religion, but not all religion would be able to promote this kind of thing, and people tend not to believe more or less, but there it is nonetheless in society/culture. There is social engineering, but this can end up mainly superficial, (given what God made us; our broad human nature), and look more like a totalitarian attitude than a positive civilised ethos. There is lieing, to the broad average, but that will never be as influential as the objective. There is however plain reality that can be recognised by a broad mass.

So when we talk of how we are a civilised people, what are those things? Freedom, liberty, democracy, the rule of Law, equal opportunity, meritocracy, civil society. If a people can agree to such a culture then empathy may have an even chance.

Maybe not.
 

holoow

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
3,761
Vilnius, Lithuania
Oscar Wilde was a genius.

"Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike".
"Women represent the triumph of matter over mind, just as men represent the triumph of mind over morals".
 

Cepheus

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
2,125
I've stated something of my own view in the preceding post. It can't be achieved by a pure effort of will, one has to develop an initial feeling for what is valuable in other people (and indeed for other people's interests in general) and then build on that, it is the development of a certain kind of sensitivity which in turn fuels its own growth, since one is then drawn toward that value rather than having to strain toward it. After all, it is not as if one is sacrificing anything by coming to care for other people as much as for oneself, one should become enriched by it because it provides the basis for richer realtionships with others. It seems to me that one forms a false idea of the nature of moral merit if one thinks of it as primarily lying in a willingness to force one slef to do things that one doesn't really want to do!
This seems to be drifting towards Hobbes "instrumentality" of actions that are in our self interest.

Arguable the furthest from Kant out of the many reference points we have from philosophers such as Locke, Hume or Aquinas.

Of course, Kant seems to argue that the closer our actions favor our wishes, the further we are from morality. Of course, moral action being a duty more than a response to reason or self-interest.
 

Linschoten

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
16,021
Welsh Marches
There is a lot to be said, I think, for Aristotle's view of the matter, that the realization of virtue is the realization of our proper nature as a human being, and that must bring with it the fullest satisfaction that we can achieve; so even if it can be unpleasant to have to overcome our meaner impulses to achieve that, the end that one finally achieves is more satisfying than anything that has to be sacrificed in achieving it. I don't care for the idea that moral merit lies primarily in forcing oneself to do things that one doesn't want to do, because in so far as moral endeavour is a strain, that is a sign that one is only at an early stage in one's moral development.
 
Likes: Cepheus

Cepheus

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
2,125
As an ethos for a people, or diverse people, how likely might this have ever been, is, or can be ???

There is upbringing, though that implies a certain amount of potential diversity. There is religion, but not all religion would be able to promote this kind of thing, and people tend not to believe more or less, but there it is nonetheless in society/culture. There is social engineering, but this can end up mainly superficial, (given what God made us; our broad human nature), and look more like a totalitarian attitude than a positive civilised ethos. There is lieing, to the broad average, but that will never be as influential as the objective. There is however plain reality that can be recognised by a broad mass.

So when we talk of how we are a civilised people, what are those things? Freedom, liberty, democracy, the rule of Law, equal opportunity, meritocracy, civil society. If a people can agree to such a culture then empathy may have an even chance.

Maybe not.
An interesting take on this would be Johann von Herder's concepts on the development of societies and national identities. Which is to say, how a people come to view themselves through art, language, and as Herder would note, songs and stories. Of course, Herder, who apparently, not many people seem to be aware of, is arguably one of the most important philosophers of the modern age due to his impact on Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche and many others, to say nothing of his impact on Polish nationalism.
 
Last edited:
Sep 2015
1,746
England
dreuxeng said: There is upbringing, though that implies a certain amount of potential diversity. There is religion, but not all religion would be able to promote this kind of thing, and people tend not to believe more or less, but there it is nonetheless in society/culture. There is social engineering, but this can end up mainly superficial, (given what God made us; our broad human nature), and look more like a totalitarian attitude than a positive civilised ethos. There is lieing, to the broad average, but that will never be as influential as the objective. There is however plain reality that can be recognised by a broad mass.

So when we talk of how we are a civilised people, what are those things? Freedom, liberty, democracy, the rule of Law, equal opportunity, meritocracy, civil society. If a people can agree to such a culture then empathy may have an even chance.

Maybe not.
An interesting take on this would be Johann von Herder's concepts on the development of societies and national identities. Which is to say, how a people come to view themselves through art, language, and as Herder would note, songs and stories. Of course, Herder, who apparently, not many people seem to be aware of, is arguably one of the most important philosophers of the modern age due to his impact on Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche and many others, to say nothing of his impact on Polish nationalism.
What i said was, that it is probably a tricky business to successfully achieve the common goal of making a better world - through objective moral values which should include increased empathy. And that the values, which we might value, since they might be recognised as valuable, are the only known elements or means of so doing. And that since we are only a bunch of human beings, imperfect ("nobody is perfect" as the old saying goes), then things might not end up quite as well as we all might expect, or hope for; but that's the deal though, isn't it? Some old familiar way...