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Part I: Morally Evolved (Pages 1 - 58) 
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Brilliant

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No body has yet claimed themselves a Vaneer Theorist because no one really is! I highly doubt that you could convince many half educated people to admit a belief that man is inherently selfish or bad as a result of genetic relationship to animals.

Genetic fallacy has a mass in this discussion, its gravity altering debate, pulling dissimilar ideals and ideas into an unnatural, non-realistic alliance. A naturalistic perversion.

Morality has become too sacred, it blinds and binds as if it were beyond, as if it was ideal, as if in practical sense it were not a thing of man. A quantity or quality rather then a value. I am not moral I am a man who moralizes.

The ape a metaphor, a device, the tool, the base of other men's towers. The child forgotten, at birth incomparable except in ways that cannot be observed. Difference, forgotten as well in a view that takes the sum of parts as an understanding for the entire system.

Metaphoric verbs pandered about in bites too bitter to swallow whole, and so I ruminate, becoming increasingly skeptical - or so convince myself that I should - unfortunatly few are able to do much better.

:book:



Last edited by Grim on Thu Jul 23, 2009 7:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.



Wed Jul 22, 2009 10:01 pm
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Grim, I think you're trying too hard to sound like Neitzsche, you should come back down to Earth.



Wed Jul 22, 2009 10:24 pm
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Grim wrote:
few are able to do much better.


:book:



Wed Jul 22, 2009 11:33 pm
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Unless the goal is verisimilitude. :bananadance:



Thu Jul 23, 2009 12:58 am
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Robert Tulip wrote:
I’ve been meaning to comment on this post from DWill, and now Grim has reminded me with his post just now, so thank you Grim. My feeling is that emotion is primarily genetic while reason is a mix between genetic, memetic and logical sources. Of course, emotion can be manipulated by reason, but raw emotions such as anger or sympathy seem to arise from instinctive reactions rather than from thought-out responses. This emotion/reason divide could well match the 98%/2% ratio of how many of our genes are common with the apes to how many are uniquely human. If our emotions are largely in common with the primates, and if emotion is a primary source of morality, then we can see how much of our morals are from monkeys. However, I do think it is possible to see reason as a veneer, a surface code that seeks to control irrational emotional instincts. The memetic and logical content of reason is seen most clearly in law codes, which evolve by precedent as a form of social control. As DWill noted, adhering to rational morality requires strenuous effort. This observation seems to me to contradict the “Russian Doll” model of human identity that de Waal proposes. Our ethics are not at the core of our genetic identity, but are a learned adaptive response to our environment.

This interesting perspective is an example of the many this topic can generate. I haven't seen any disputes about facts in de Waal's book or in the discussions we've had, I think. We are firmly in the territory of perspective, which is also firmly the territory of philosophy. I would hope we could agree that there isn't a correct perspective to be sought, just more conversation to be engaged in. This may smack of relativism to you, Robert, but it is a proper relativism. When you think about it, how self-explanatory that de Waal, observing primates most of his life, would so value the emotional similarities between us and them, and ground our morality in these similarities. His debate partners, all philosophers, unsurprisingly see rational thought as a far more crucial element of our morality.

In my own perspective, the element of conflict has the highest profile. We can know that situations present conflicts between what we want and what we should do. Other animals have only momentary conflicts between two desires--the chimp who holds out his food to share without even looking at the receiver, or the dog who comes to his master though she would really like to sample that delicious smell. Our, more significant, moral conflict is what often goes on on our surface, contrary to what Veneer Theory supposedly says. The surface in VT is morality, actually moral hypocrisy, since we just use morality to give a good name to our selfish goals. But that is rubbish. We obviously do resolve our conflict sometimes in favor of what we think we should do rather than what would feel best. The surface in my view is the interplay between morality and our desire to get advantage for ourselves. This is not always a conflict, though, since getting advantage for ourselves is also demonstrably a good thing. In other words, sometimes I should be selfish instead of thinking about others.

The other problem I have with moral reasoning as a veneer over our irrational emotional instincts is that I feel, as de Waal does, that it must be "down there" in some way as well as on top. I could agree with the metaphor of a flowering plant with extensive roots, or maybe a spring with its origin deep underground, to express this.[/quote]



Thu Jul 23, 2009 7:53 am
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Grim wrote:
DWill wrote:
when it comes to morality, knowing is not enough.

I not sure what this is supposed to mean, when it comes to psychology I would agree that knowing is not enough. But morality...ethics, these are both very knowledge filled forms of value.

I thought that in its context the statement was clear enough, though maybe not true. Perhaps "acting morally" instead of "morality" would have been better. As far as your own statement, if you imply that knowledge or information is essential to moral action, I'd need clarification on that. Being well versed in the field of ethics or morality is not necessary for, and may not even have anything to do with, moral behavior.



Thu Jul 23, 2009 8:30 am
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DWill wrote:
Being well versed in the field of ethics or morality is not necessary for, and may not even have anything to do with, moral behavior.


Yes, but I would still argue that "moral behavior" is beyond the scope of the debate. It's such a human notion. There is moral and there is behavior. A view that does not adequately acknowledge this is in my opinion intrinsically misguided as to the nature of the topic.

:book:



Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:31 pm
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I don't see there being any debate over the use of the phrase "moral behavior". It's simple enough to be almost analytic. If I tip a waitress, that is a moral behavior.



Thu Jul 23, 2009 3:33 pm
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Interbane wrote:
I don't see there being any debate over the use of the phrase "moral behavior". It's simple enough to be almost analytic. If I tip a waitress, that is a moral behavior.


I'm sorry, you've lost me with calling tipping a waitress moral. A tip is a reward for good service. Leaving a tip for poor service when you know that the waitress is under great stress is moral.



Thu Jul 23, 2009 5:26 pm
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To not tip a waitress who has delivered good service is not doing unto others as you would have others do unto you.



Thu Jul 23, 2009 5:54 pm
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I suppose then it would be useful to define what it means to be a man. In my opinion a man (as opposed from the animal) is a rational, deliberate thinker whose thoughts have a meaning which are understandable to other men. These men would form a population which could then be identified at varying of levels of detail. Obviously there would be a minimum amount of similarity required for consideration within the group as their would be a maximum point of correlation at which redundancy, irrelevance, and non-relationship would become factors and no further relationships should be concieved. This is examining the difference between men. These similarities are abstract and can be percieved in a variety of ways within agreeable or opposing context. In an abstract sense I would suppose that the minimum similarity needed to be included with the context of man would be the potential alone for shared understanding of conceptual meaning. The ability to assimilate truth as it is defined at this moment in history. A man who cannot be understood is an invalid, a non-man, a savant - taken as problems that are addressed, not as solutions to man's identity problem. Likewise the monkey could never be a solution for man's question because the monkey is man's problem. Unless, of course, the question had significance as a answer, but even so this "inquiry-answer" supposes a higher order rationality regarding the situation, and several alternative higher order questions associated to the question-as-answer (Why does man need to identify himself with animals? What type of animal is man?). In another sense it is the inability to see the seperation of moral questioning and the philosophical questioning of morality as fallacy. Not only is their no final answer determining the nature of our moral connection to apes, there is no piece of evidence that is not a value statement; as such every shred of normally objective state becomes morally subjected to philosopical analysis and reduction as aliquid stat pro aliquo. As the ape that stands for man.

:book:



Last edited by Grim on Thu Jul 23, 2009 7:14 pm, edited 3 times in total.



Thu Jul 23, 2009 7:05 pm
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Grim wrote:
No body has yet claimed themselves a Vaneer Theorist because no one really is! I highly doubt that you could convince many half educated person to admit a belief that man is inherently selfish or bad as a result of genetic relationship to animals.

Genetic fallacy has a mass in this discussion, its gravity altering debate, pulling dissimilar ideals and ideas into an unnatural, non-realistic alliance. A naturalistic perversion.

Morality has become too sacred, it blinds and binds as if it were beyond, as if it was ideal, as if in practical sense it were not a thing of man. A quantity or quality rather then a value. I am not moral I am a man who moralizes.

The ape a metaphor, a device, the tool, the base of other men's towers. The child forgotten, at birth incomparable except in ways that cannot be observed. Difference, forgotten as well in a view that takes the sum of parts as an understanding for the entire system.

Metaphoric verbs pandered about in bites too bitter to swallow whole, and so I ruminate, becoming increasingly skeptical - or so convince myself that I should - unfortunatly few are able to do much better.

:book:


I assume that the above is free-form poetry or poetic prose. It preaches and proclaims, wrapping its preconceptions and assumptions in silvery bows and flowery paper. I find that I'm not inclined to open the package for fear that hyperbole might spring forth with stunning certitude and throttle my gentle ganglion to tears.

-smile-



Thu Jul 23, 2009 7:06 pm
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Please don't hesitate on some elaboration....



Thu Jul 23, 2009 7:20 pm
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Odd Greg wrote:
I find that I'm not inclined to open the package for fear that hyperbole might spring forth with stunning certitude and throttle my gentle ganglion to tears.

It is a bit odd quoting oneself, I admit, but my self-quotation is germane to the point in this case.

I apologize if I wasn’t clear, Grim. Perhaps my tangential humor is too vague or unappreciated here. While I am able to elaborate at some length on a number of discussion points, I find that I am unwilling to make the effort to parse, decode and interpret your meaning in the post in reference. It’s not that I can’t - or at least I’m fairly certain that I could - it just seems like too much work. Perhaps you could summarize with less metaphor (etc) and clearer phrasing.

Or (with no disrespect) at least in terms less condescending.



Thu Jul 23, 2009 8:15 pm
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Grim wrote:
it would be useful to define what it means to be a man. In my opinion a man (as opposed from the animal) is a rational, deliberate thinker whose thoughts have a meaning which are understandable to other men.
Your distinction between man and animal ignores the commonality between humanity and animals, and also ignores the large spectrum of human behaviour which does not fall under the ‘rational, deliberate thinker’ rubric. You idealise a rational symbol while ignoring that most human activity, determined by genes and conventions, is not deliberate in the terms you specify.
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These men would form a population which could then be identified at varying of levels of detail. Obviously there would be a minimum amount of similarity required for consideration within the group as their would be a maximum point of correlation at which redundancy, irrelevance, and non-relationship would become factors and no further relationships should be concieved. This is examining the difference between men. These similarities are abstract and can be percieved in a variety of ways within agreeable or opposing context. In an abstract sense I would suppose that the minimum similarity needed to be included with the context of man would be the potential alone for shared understanding of conceptual meaning.
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.
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The ability to assimilate truth as it is defined at this moment in history. A man who cannot be understood is an invalid, a non-man, a savant - taken as problems that are addressed, not as solutions to man's identity problem. Likewise the monkey could never be a solution for man's question because the monkey is man's problem.
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.
Quote:
Unless, of course, the question had significance as a answer, but even so this "inquiry-answer" supposes a higher order rationality regarding the situation, and several alternative higher order questions associated to the question-as-answer (Why does man need to identify himself with animals? What type of animal is man?).
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.
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In another sense it is the inability to see the seperation of moral questioning and the philosophical questioning of morality as fallacy.
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?
Quote:
Not only is their no final answer determining the nature of our moral connection to apes, there is no piece of evidence that is not a value statement; as such every shred of normally objective state becomes morally subjected to philosopical analysis and reduction as aliquid stat pro aliquo. As the ape that stands for man. :book:
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.



Thu Jul 23, 2009 11:05 pm
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