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  1. #16
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Some choices are non-choices. No one is better than the next with regard to the harm that might come.

    But the choice to intervene when you can help? That's a choice that requires serious thought. We can all rise to the occasion when nothing personal is at stake. It's when we or our loved ones, or our interests are in jeopardy by our action, that it becomes a moral decision, no?

    Altruism? No such thing. There's always gratification. Even the gratification of assuming that there's no personal gratification. But that's another issue.

    Why do movies and books and situations that depict heroic actions move us so? What value do we intuit in those actions? Are we just taught to appreciate sacrifice and honor and courage? Are these real things?

    Hitler's Germany operated on a different agenda. Mao's China operated on a different agenda. Both systems had visions of the future and developed moral rubrics around those visions. Within the context of those visions, euthanasia was appropriate, as were many other policies that we find inhuman now.

    In today's society, is prolonging life the ultimate goal? At what expense?

    I have a vague sense of how I come to moral decisions. I try to be consistent. I try to do the right thing. But we all deceive ourselves, and confirmation bias is strong.

    Nietzsche proposed theories. Some were brilliant. Some were, in fact, mind altering. But practically, the path to the Superman was littered with what we'd consider totally immoral actions today. Philosophy is theory. Philosophy is not practice.

  2. #17
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NYC Philosopher
    Philosophy is theory. Philosophy is not practice.
    In the vernacular, bullshit! Philosophy is prescriptive and, therefore, practical.
    If philosophy were strictly theoretical, an exercse of the mind, it would become precisely what its most vituperous critics refer to: another means of navel-gazing.
    Nietzsche proposed theories.
    This seems to me be taking philosophy as an undertaking conducted via the scientific method: hypothesis, experment, theory, law. As a compilation of your pertinent threads demonstrates, there are no philosophical laws and no undisputed facts. At best, we get Flung Poo's averages making modern philosophy a statistical investigation.
    I'd counter with: Nietzsche proposed answers to the big questions, answers that seemed wholly valid to Nietzche. That they don't seem wholly valid to everyone else is another one of them irritating statistics.

  3. #18
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    I think, HE, that they seemed 'valid' to many, but not practical.

  4. #19
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    I guess you are making the claim that the Categorical Imperative is less practical than the Golden Rule? Why would that be?

    Whoo hoo! The first head-up-my-butt post of the year. It was bound to happen and it's nice to get it out of the way.
    Last edited by Hereford Eye; January 6th, 2009 at 09:34 AM.

  5. #20
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    I think the categorical imperative sucks, personally.

  6. #21
    I don`t think prolonging life is the goal of most. (Just look at the unhealthy things we like to do - smoking, drinking, overeating.... mmm.... Timbits...)

    Rather, I think it is making life easier. Many of us are stuck in our routines, working to make life easy for ourselves, and we are relucent to take risks to help others. We might take risks (start up business, lottery, etc), but the goal of these risks is to be successful or make money in order to create a better life for ourselves or those we support.

    Fewer are those who work hard to make life better for others without receiving money in return.

  7. #22
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    If people did not practice philosophy, none of your threads would exist, Gary.

    Perhaps you should define "practice" to centre the debate.

  8. #23
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Well then, let's take Nietzsche's eternal recurrence theory. Go ahead, make it practical??

  9. #24
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Very well, I shall.

    Done.

    Again: how are you defining "practice"?

  10. #25
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Executing, in real life, the ideas that are expressed.

  11. #26
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Given your usual biases, am I correct in suspecting that you're making theory synonymous with the subjective and practice with the objective? And presumably thinking that subjective and objective are distinct?

  12. #27
    All that is true, and they chose inaction because of those reasons. They paid a horrific price.

    You sound very close to saying it was their fault. They (at least the Jews) were conditioned by thousands of years of persecution to believe that submitting meant survival. They’d been forcibly uprooted and moved from place to place all through the Middle Ages. When they got on those trains they had no reason to disbelieve that this wasn’t just one more forced migration or that the camps wouldn’t be just a stopover. Until it was too late.

    Eventually a lot of them did arm themselves and get organized, well into the Holocaust, and they did a lot of heroic things. But that was only after they’d been pushed to the limit.

    From the safety of my armchair it’s easy to say: at least they’d have died fighting and taken a couple of Nazis with them and maybe saved others down the road. But again, early on the Nazis gave them a false hope of survival if they just obeyed. And in large parts of Europe – especially eastern Europe – they wouldn’t have been allowed to arm and organize at all, which makes the point moot.

  13. #28
    bmalone.blogspot.com BrianC's Avatar
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    To return to the original question (and quickly, as I need to get back to work) about the difference between theory and practice, and would we sacrifice our own family to help another. I'll be honest. No way. My daughter and my wife come first, period. If helping someone else endangered them, then there's now way I would help. I guess I'd feel bad about that, but there it is. Maybe its a biological imperative. I must protect my family, my offspring. Maybe that makes it possible for a man to stand in front of a hungry lion with nothing but a sharpened stick in his hands. It makes us capable of doing amazing things, and it makes us capable of standing on the sidelines while someone else is cut down. We are only animals, after all. We cannot rise above our evolutionary imperatives.

  14. #29
    and I like to party. Seak's Avatar
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    This question makes me think of how the USA is seen throughout the world. So many Americans have the outlook that, "We are the best and we should only protect our own." Look at Rwanda in the 90s, and I guess this doesn't just apply to Americans.

    This is not a popular outlook, but applied personally it seems to work for people. I'm still a little undecided and I guess I would need a Red Badge of Courage to find out.

  15. #30
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    I'm looking at this on a purely individual level. If i'm out in the street or on the subway and the person next to me is threatened by some crazy person, should I help, at the risk of my own safety? Is there a barometer for this that we can use to measure? I don't care if the person in danger is American or Middle Eastern or Australian or African. I wouldn't make my decision based upon that at all. But I need some means to make a decision, and I'm pretty sure that our responses, after a certain point in life, become hard-wired. What sets that wiring though in the first place? And can we progam people to risk more at the expense of their own safety and welfare if the cause is just or noble? Or is it always simply self interest?

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