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Part I: Morally Evolved (Pages 1 - 58) 
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Robert Tulip wrote:
You idealise a rational symbol while ignoring that most human activity, determined by genes and conventions, is not deliberate in the terms you specify.

While you describe well the metaphorical even hypothetical hominind in us all I feel you miss adequately describing the men we actually are to any significance. Perhaps this is a vaneer, perhaps the vaneer is the only relevant part of who we are, as we have been raised to become.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Unfortunately this definition of humanity puts many of the demented, the deluded and the disabled outside the boundary. It is better, as per de Waal, to start from empirical observation and build definitions which are in accord with reality.

I would disagree with anyone who would attempt development of broadly relevant forms of savant morality.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Sorry Grim, but there is a certain Niezschian pomposity to your comments here, especially your statement that people who cannot be understood are not human. I do not follow your reasoning regarding monkeys, as it seems obvious to me that study of the other primates is an important part of human self-understanding. People are monkeys’ biggest problem.

Pomp is one thing I suppose, the man as civilized and moral is used in a different sense than human. More metaphor perhaps? I suppose in the same way one would feel different towards the term: trained chimp, then one would toward: monkeys.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Your term ‘Significance’ here reminds me of Derrida and deconstruction. But your question ‘Why does man need to identify himself with animals?’ is very good, and is central to de Waal’s book. We share blood and earth with the other animals of our planet, having branched from the apes very recently in genetic terms. Understanding how our genes form our morals is an important contribution of science to philosophy, with many instructive lessons to be found in the study of the apes.

I'm not familiar with Derrida, perhaps you would like to include a quote or something...anything? I'm not sure if identifying with animals is de Waal's point, I thought that de Waal was creating the moral animal (human), identifiably sourced out of concepts normally relating to men observed in the behaviors of chimpanzees.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Sorry, I don’t understand this comment. It seems like your earlier statement that explaining part of morality by genetics is inherently fallacious. Would you care to explain the distinction between moral questioning and the philosophical questioning of morality?

Well there is the genetic fallacy which denies the possibilty of moral genes. The discussion of morality is a purely philosophical matter, the philosophical questioning of morality, as such it would seem that even apparently objective evidence that supposes an emperical solidification of morals as physical are still just value statements and therefore subject to deconstruction and definition.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Evidence is objective and factual. What we choose to do with that evidence is where values come into the picture. I think you are right though with your nice piece of Latin Mediaeval Semiotics. A commentary is at http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/semiotics-medieval/ . De Waal does indeed use the ape as a sign for man, suggesting we can understand human morality by seeing its inner core as displayed in our genetic bond with our simian cousins.

But the evidence we are dealing with here is anything but objective and factual. The so called emperical observations are the ones supposing that they can determine the metaphysical origin of morality, that morality can be compared physically in an objective and factual manner using terms like emotion and empathy!! That pesky genetic bonds nags at my skepticisms, what kind of bond? to what relevance? what are we really seeing? what type of animals are we really? do we really exemplify the chimp? I don't feel that these questions were properly addressed by de Waal or in this forum expressio unius est exclusio alterius. Where the expression of similarity between man and ape is at the exclusion of difference.

Please excuse grammatical, factual, and recitation mistakes!! My last post was a bad one in these respects.

:book:



Fri Jul 24, 2009 12:38 am
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Grim: "Well there is the genetic fallacy which denies the possibilty of moral genes."

That a proposition resembles a fallacy denies nothing. I could say that using the expression "rule of thumb" is bad since it started with picking a stick to beat people with no larger than the thumb. That would be a pristine example of the genetic fallacy. Then, I could turn around and say that lynching is bad because it was originally used to hang black people. If you claimed that this was also an example of the genetic fallacy, you'd be wrong, even though it fits the mold perfectly. Lynching is bad because mob murder is bad.

If you claim that the idea that there is a moral gene commits the genetic fallacy, perhaps you can provide evidence that it is indeed a fallacy? I personally doubt there is such a thing as a 'moral gene', but I do believe the mechanism for moral behavior is genetic. There is likely a combination of hundreds/thousands/... of genes which cooperate to provide this altruistic mechanism; via feelings of guilt and shame as negative controls and empathy as a positive control.

If you're going to gain a better understanding of morality Grim, you should read a book such as "The Selfish Gene" to better understand the influence of genetics on morality. There is a connection, and it can't be 'denied' by the inappropriate invocation of a fallacy.



Fri Jul 24, 2009 2:57 pm
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Grim wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
You idealise a rational symbol while ignoring that most human activity, determined by genes and conventions, is not deliberate in the terms you specify.

While you describe well the metaphorical even hypothetical hominid in us all I feel you miss adequately describing the men we actually are to any significance. Perhaps this is a veneer, perhaps the veneer is the only relevant part of who we are, as we have been raised to become.
The hominid in us shares most of its genes with the apes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_evol ... y_genetics states that over 70% of our genetic material is common – far less than the 98% figure that is bandied about. Language is a big part of the difference, and is at the core of our veneer, but our moral feelings have deeper roots than language, and form part of our old genetic inheritance.
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Robert Tulip wrote:
Unfortunately this definition of humanity puts many of the demented, the deluded and the disabled outside the boundary. It is better, as per de Waal, to start from empirical observation and build definitions which are in accord with reality.

I would disagree with anyone who would attempt development of broadly relevant forms of savant morality.
Please define what you mean by savant morality.
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Robert Tulip wrote:
Sorry Grim, but there is a certain Niezschian pomposity to your comments here, especially your statement that people who cannot be understood are not human. I do not follow your reasoning regarding monkeys, as it seems obvious to me that study of the other primates is an important part of human self-understanding. People are monkeys’ biggest problem.

Pomp is one thing I suppose, the man as civilized and moral is used in a different sense than human. More metaphor perhaps? I suppose in the same way one would feel different towards the term: trained chimp, then one would toward: monkeys.
You distinguish here between man and human. Does this equate to a distinction between the ideal and the real? It seems wrong to me to develop a vision of man as the ideal rational moral being without integrating this idea of man with the observation of what it is to be human.
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Robert Tulip wrote:
Your term ‘Significance’ here reminds me of Derrida and deconstruction. But your question ‘Why does man need to identify himself with animals?’ is very good, and is central to de Waal’s book. We share blood and earth with the other animals of our planet, having branched from the apes very recently in genetic terms. Understanding how our genes form our morals is an important contribution of science to philosophy, with many instructive lessons to be found in the study of the apes.
I'm not familiar with Derrida, perhaps you would like to include a quote or something...anything?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacques_De ... .80.931972 states “Derrida contributed to the understanding of certain deeply hidden philosophical presuppositions and prejudices in Western culture, arguing that the whole philosophical tradition rests on arbitrary dichotomous categories (such as sacred/profane, signifier/signified, mind/body), and that any text contains implicit hierarchies, by which an order is imposed on reality and by which a subtle repression is exercised, as these hierarchies exclude, subordinate, and hide the various potential meanings. Derrida refers to his procedure for uncovering and unsettling these dichotomies as deconstruction.” As such, Derrida is the high priest of relativism, with his view that such categories as sacred/profane, signifier/signified, mind/body are subjective rather than objective.
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I'm not sure if identifying with animals is de Waal's point, I thought that de Waal was creating the moral animal (human), identifiably sourced out of concepts normally relating to men observed in the behaviors of chimpanzees.
De Waal does suggest that identification with animals is a better way to support them than seeking to provide animals with legal rights. Here we see the morality of empathy at play.
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Robert Tulip wrote:
Sorry, I don’t understand this comment. It seems like your earlier statement that explaining part of morality by genetics is inherently fallacious. Would you care to explain the distinction between moral questioning and the philosophical questioning of morality?
Well there is the genetic fallacy which denies the possibility of moral genes. The discussion of morality is a purely philosophical matter, the philosophical questioning of morality, as such it would seem that even apparently objective evidence that supposes an empirical solidification of morals as physical are still just value statements and therefore subject to deconstruction and definition.
Your term ‘purely philosophical’ ignores how philosophy draws from evidence as well as reason. You cannot deconstruct evidence, except by showing that it is skewed by values or assumptions of the compiler. Deconstruction refers to ideas which are assumed to have objectivity, such as the sacred and the profane, but which conceal implicit cultural values. Yes, de Waal has implicit cultural values, but his evidence about ape morality operates more at the level of fact than value.
Quote:
But the evidence we are dealing with here is anything but objective and factual. The so called empirical observations are the ones supposing that they can determine the metaphysical origin of morality, that morality can be compared physically in an objective and factual manner using terms like emotion and empathy!! That pesky genetic bonds nags at my skepticisms, what kind of bond? to what relevance? what are we really seeing? what type of animals are we really? do we really exemplify the chimp? I don't feel that these questions were properly addressed by de Waal or in this forum expressio unius est exclusio alterius. Where the expression of similarity between man and ape is at the exclusion of difference.
De Waal is not primarily engaging in metaphysics. Rather, he seeks to show that our actual bond with the apes can be shown to underpin our moral sentiments. Hence his approval of Hume’s view that morality is more a function of passion than reason. Where I disagree with de Waal and Hume is that I think we can form an idea of the ultimate good (eg the Sermon on the Mount) and use that as a framework for moral reasoning.



Fri Jul 24, 2009 10:49 pm
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Robert Tulip wrote:
Language is a big part of the difference, and is at the core of our veneer, but our moral feelings have deeper roots than language, and form part of our old genetic inheritance.
Language as a vaneer...wow, what irrelevance what reductio ad absurdum, what a genetic fallacy. Even if you were able to teach a monkey to communicate with man, the chimp would still possess the mind of a ape!! Moral sentiment changes through time, as not only expressed, but in no small measure, influenced by language, by our attitude towards certain words and thoughts. The mechanism as genetic, a metaphor, a rationalization, an excuse - ultimately a misunderstanding of the relevance of morality, a misunderstanding of the true nature of morality - expressed as a grave genetic fallacy.

Robert Tulip wrote:
You distinguish here between man and human. Does this equate to a distinction between the ideal and the real? It seems wrong to me to develop a vision of man as the ideal rational moral being without integrating this idea of man with the observation of what it is to be human.
Haha, no, man is less than ideal. Even as a metaphor this view does disservice to the true nature of morality. As if it were apart from man, as if it is also the morality in man which is real. What is it to be human?

Robert Tulip wrote:
“Derrida contributed to the understanding of certain deeply hidden philosophical presuppositions and prejudices in Western culture, arguing that the whole philosophical tradition rests on arbitrary dichotomous categories (such as sacred/profane, signifier/signified, mind/body), and that any text contains implicit hierarchies, by which an order is imposed on reality and by which a subtle repression is exercised, as these hierarchies exclude, subordinate, and hide the various potential meanings. Derrida refers to his procedure for uncovering and unsettling these dichotomies as deconstruction.” As such, Derrida is the high priest of relativism, with his view that such categories as sacred/profane, signifier/signified, mind/body are subjective rather than objective.
De Waal tells us to disreguard relativism. Morality relative to the man...of course. man/morality as dichotomous...perhaps in a certain abstract sense, but generally a dichotomy is any splitting of a whole into exactly two non-overlapping parts. I think that I was pointing to the human-ness of morality after all it is e re nata, e vestigio.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Your term ‘purely philosophical’ ignores how philosophy draws from evidence as well as reason. You cannot deconstruct evidence, except by showing that it is skewed by values or assumptions of the compiler. Deconstruction refers to ideas which are assumed to have objectivity, such as the sacred and the profane, but which conceal implicit cultural values. Yes, de Waal has implicit cultural values, but his evidence about ape morality operates more at the level of fact than value.
Depending on the nature and context of the evidence. Evidence pointing to the relevance of chimp morality is actually a value statement. Behaviorisms seem less than factual within the context of a primarily psychologically verified debate.

Robert Tulip wrote:
De Waal is not primarily engaging in metaphysics. Rather, he seeks to show that our actual bond with the apes can be shown to underpin our moral sentiments. Hence his approval of Hume’s view that morality is more a function of passion than reason. Where I disagree with de Waal and Hume is that I think we can form an idea of the ultimate good (eg the Sermon on the Mount) and use that as a framework for moral reasoning.
Simia quam similis, turpissimus bestia, nobis! - Cicero

:book:



Sat Jul 25, 2009 3:30 pm
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Not really of relevance I suppose?

:book:



Last edited by Grim on Fri Jul 31, 2009 7:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Jul 28, 2009 1:45 am
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http://www.springerlink.com/content/934 ... a2548&pi=0

:book:



Fri Jul 31, 2009 7:01 pm
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I have the full text of the above paper if anyone is interested in accessing a copy. Please just PM me with your e-mail address. It is a well researched and written read that is both highly relevant to the topic and insightful in a professionally critical (scholarly) sense.

:book:



Thu Aug 06, 2009 2:07 pm
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Grim wrote:
http://www.springerlink.com/content/9346hq6788710x50/?p=cefc5a754e174ed6ab56612afa6a2548&pi=0

:book:


Thanks Grim. They say
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We argue, in particular, that (a) evolutionary psychology is not entitled to assume selectionist accounts of human behaviors, (b) the assumptions necessary for the selectionist accounts to be true are not warranted by standard criteria for theory choice, and (c) only confusions about levels of explanation of human behavior create the appearance that understanding the biology of behavior is important.


This is absurd. Of course behaviour is constrained by natural selection. Biology is the foundation upon which cultural interpretation should be based.



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Robert Tulip wrote:
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(c) only confusions about levels of explanation of human behavior create the appearance that understanding the biology of behavior is important.

Biology is the foundation upon which cultural interpretation should be based.

No, I don't think so. Not to any relevance at least. Or are you referring to Interbane tipping the waitress as an expression of biological behavior? The primal need to instinctively tip? Haha, I think not. Even seemingly common situations such as these are far too complex to be explained away with a single causal factor alone, much less when using obscure, undoubtedly abstracted and inherently biased rationalizations such as our own psychological evolution, or biology qualiter plurrimi relevant speculatio officina.

quae non prosunt singula multa iuvant - Ovid

:book:



Fri Aug 07, 2009 10:37 am
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Grim wrote:
The primal need to instinctively tip?


:laugh: :laugh:



Fri Aug 07, 2009 10:58 am
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Yes, only not quite as funny as you seem to think.

Michael Ignatieff in 'The Rights Revolution' wrote:
We need family values all right, but the ones we actually need must be pluralistic. We need to understand that the essentially moral needs of any child can be met by family arrangements that run the gamut from arranged marrages right through to same-sex parenting. Nautre and natural instincts are poor guides in these matters. If good parenting were a matter of instinct, families wouldn't be the destructive institutions they so often are...
The point is not to invalidate one type of parent. Instead, it is to insist that ideology will not help us here.


I believe that this is sufficiently self-explanatory to be relevant.

:book:



Thu Aug 27, 2009 3:08 pm
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I also think that ultimately it should be recognized that no amount of analysis regarding our realtive relationship to apes within the frame of a relative understanding of their true animal nature is any substitute for the absolute knowledge we have of ourselves.

I could cite scholarly examples, but I'm sure that no one would take the time to do any actual research. I am disappointed that those who are seemingly so sophisticed in their own opinions were not at all interested in accessing relevant information, contradictory to their views or otherwise, as presented within the format of an informal debate.

:book:



Thu Sep 03, 2009 1:01 pm
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I've read many books on the topic, I believe you're not quite grasping what I've posted. Like I said before, repost what you think I mean and I'll engage in discussion.



Thu Sep 03, 2009 2:09 pm
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Why would I want to do that? You are assuming that somehow it is your opinion that focuses this debate. That it is somehow your input that I am interested in specifically.

Don't be such a cheeky monkey!!

:book:



Fri Sep 04, 2009 11:40 am
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