J Thomas on October 01, 2010, 01:53:34 pm
There wasn't exactly a peace. Israel had refused to make peace. Israelis thought the arabs were too cowardly to continue fighting, so they preferred to officially stay at war.

You are insane.  The only peace Islam will accept is the death or submission of all infidels - a position that is most strikingly evident with Israel, because Israel is the front line. 

In retrospect, I think the Israelis were insane. They were way too overconfident because of their great victory in the 1967 war. Their plans to respond to a renewed attack were utterly inadequate.

They didn't win in 1973 until after the USA resupplied them with the necessary supplies they'd used up, and threatened the USSR with nuclear destruction. To resupply them we stripped our frontline troops in europe. Luckily, the USSR didn't attack western europe. But NATO was never the same after that. It was hard to keep the europeans real scared of a Warsaw Pact invasion after we set up the perfect opportunity and they didn't do it.

Brugle on October 01, 2010, 04:13:28 pm
Lots of art requires empathy too, but not all.

Art that deals with ethical subjects requires some ethical understanding, so it may involve empathy.  If your assertion that lots of art requires empathy happens to be true, that only means that lots of art deals with ethical subjects.  It doesn't change the fact that art as art does not require empathy at all.

You have pointed out that people without empathy would probably get different ethical results from people with empathy.

That is a blatant lie.

they care about different things, and lack the sense of beauty connected to empathy

Bullshit.

When you arbitrarily stick the phrase "the sense of beauty connected to" in front of X, it does not create evidence that X comes from aesthetics.  For example, I could write about "the sense of beauty connected to magnetohydrodynamics", but that would not be evidence that magnetohydrodynamics comes from aesthetics.

You invalidate the ethical results of people whose sense of beauty and rightness is different from yours,

Another blatant lie.  I said nothing about invalidating ethical "results".  I said nothing about people whose sense of beauty is different from mine.

I'm not sure it's worth arguing about this point.
Certainly not, if you're going to lie about what I say.

given that I believe in ethical relativism while it appears you do not.
I have seen definitions of ethical or moral relativism with which I disagreed, and I have seen definitions which seemed too vague for me to tell.

However, that question is orthogonal to the discussion we've been having.  I can easily imagine a hard-core ethical relativist who would consider your assertion (that ethics comes from the same source as aesthetics) to be idiotic.

Brugle on October 01, 2010, 04:18:05 pm
You are insane.
Psychological projection?

NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on October 01, 2010, 06:12:53 pm
You are insane.

And from another thread:

You are a vicious bigot, whose bottomless ignorance is filled with murderous hate filled lies, and I am no Christian.

I see a pattern of emotional and irrational response by jamesd to the suggestions that either Christianity or Judaism (more accurately Zionism) are subject to the same criticisms (currently or historically) with Islam, or that Islam has no redeeming value.

Whether true or, false, either whole or in part, these responses lack the coherence and reason that I, for one, value in this forum. 

As such, I propose that, by definition, that jamesd is himself (or herself, male pronouns used hereafter) displaying the qualities of being a "bigot".  I also strongly suspect that he is unaware of this personality trait.  I hope it does not persist, at the very least in this forum.

J Thomas on October 01, 2010, 07:34:32 pm
Lots of art requires empathy too, but not all.

Art that deals with ethical subjects requires some ethical understanding, so it may involve empathy.  If your assertion that lots of art requires empathy happens to be true, that only means that lots of art deals with ethical subjects.

No, there can be empathy that doesn't involve ethical questions. So for example, lots of literature requires empathy with the imagined characters or it seems pointless. Lots of represetational art is about people, and viewers imagine what the subjects of the painting, sculpture, etc are feeling, and that is a big part of what happens there. But not necessarily all. So for example:

http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/1130
Here is a sculpture that has an entirely different feel if you consider the point of view of the subject, versus merely think of it as one more bit of porn.

http://picturinghistory.gc.cuny.edu/?p=1045
This bronze appears to be lost, perhaps melted down. You can see something of the power of it from the reproduction of the lithograph. I expect part of its relative lack of success was that many people did not *want* to empathise with the subject, for reasons apart from the art.

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It doesn't change the fact that art as art does not require empathy at all.

It depends, doesn't it?

http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=29812613
If you listen to this without empathy, it's kind of a nice song. Its power comes from the meaning. And I don't see that it's particularly about ethics.

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You have pointed out that people without empathy would probably get different ethical results from people with empathy.

That is a blatant lie.

Pardon me. I did not intend to lie, I have misinterpreted what you said. Did you mean that people without empathy can't do ethics at all?

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When you arbitrarily stick the phrase "the sense of beauty connected to" in front of X, it does not create evidence that X comes from aesthetics.  For example, I could write about "the sense of beauty connected to magnetohydrodynamics", but that would not be evidence that magnetohydrodynamics comes from aesthetics.

I didn't intend that to be a proof. Proofs follow logically from statements we agree to be true, and on a fundamental level we seem to disagree. I base my conclusions on my own experience, but it's impossible for me to separate that experience from my interpretations of it. You have your own experience and your own interpretations. How could either of us prove much to the other on that basis?

jamesd on October 01, 2010, 07:42:02 pm
I see a pattern of emotional and irrational response by jamesd to the suggestions that either Christianity or Judaism (more accurately Zionism) are subject to the same criticisms (currently or historically) with Islam, or that Islam has no redeeming value.

Jews are not issuing death threats against people like me.  Muslims are.  Anyone who claims that the two are similar is on the side of people who are trying to kill me.    People who are trying to kill me, need killing.


quadibloc on October 01, 2010, 09:02:15 pm
either Christianity or Judaism (more accurately Zionism) are subject to the same criticisms (currently or historically) with Islam, or that Islam has no redeeming value.
I've avoided responding to jamesd's recent post about Xenophon, because I'm worried I have no polite way of expressing my criticism.

I think that some of the criticisms of Islam do only apply historically to Christianity and Judaism. However, the obsession of the Islamic world with Israel is easy to understand - the U.S. would get pretty obsessed if Rhode Island were under Russian occupation. The U.S. was shocked by 9/11 partly because it thought that people getting killed in political violence was something that happened in places like Africa or Asia. Dar-al-Harb versus Dar-al-Islam, anyone?

But while I do think that the history of Israel in the Middle East does favor it from a moralistic viewpoint, morals are hardly my primary concern when it comes to the War on Terror.

People who have the power to do something about it do not sit back with equanimity when someone is trying to kill them or their loved ones.

The United States definitely has a lot of power - what is difficult for them is distinguishing the few terrorists from the civilian populations they hide within.

I absolutely do agree that it would be a horrible thing if, for example, the United States nuked the world's one billion Muslims. So I would like to prevent it from happening. I think this is the fire the terrorists are playing with. If the terrorists aren't crushed soon, they might have the chance to pull off a much bigger attack than 9/11, and the possible response of the Western world to such an attack... is unpredictable.

So what I would like to see is the leadership of the world's Muslim nations being less concerned with keeping Islamic extremists in their own countries happy by bribing them with concessions... and instead concerned with showing the United States that they're a nice country and not at all on the side of those bad terrorists.

What it boils down to is that they're too terrified of the terrorists - and not terrified enough of us. This is not just inconvenient for us, it's bad for their own long-term survival.

wdg3rd on October 01, 2010, 09:06:27 pm

http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/1130
Here is a sculpture that has an entirely different feel if you consider the point of view of the subject, versus merely think of it as one more bit of porn.

I hope I get a better owner than the last one.
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http://picturinghistory.gc.cuny.edu/?p=1045
This bronze appears to be lost, perhaps melted down. You can see something of the power of it from the reproduction of the lithograph. I expect part of its relative lack of success was that many people did not *want* to empathise with the subject, for reasons apart from the art.

If I lick his shoes, maybe "The Great Emancipator" will actually free me.  (Since Lincoln never freed a single slave, north or south).
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It doesn't change the fact that art as art does not require empathy at all.

It depends, doesn't it?

It might Depends on which brand of adult diapers you prefer, but that emotionial stuff is a crapshoot.

I'm not known as seriously into empathy.  I'm into reason.  So my main "black" (actually a dark shade of brown, as I've never met a black or white person) hero is still Carver.  But I'm not into groups, I prefer to deal with individuals.  I even treat the Witlesses who knock on my door as individuals.  (Never sure if it's my nudity, the bloody knife [on a Saturday morning I'm generally cutting meat for chili] or my offer to bring the virgin out in an hour after we finish).  They run away.

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http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=29812613
If you listen to this without empathy, it's kind of a nice song. Its power comes from the meaning. And I don't see that it's particularly about ethics.

I've known the songwriter Jordin Kare even longer than I've known El Neil.  Jordin is as against NASA's control of access to orbit as I am.  But like me, he is also extremely attached to the pioneers.  And he's a lot better singer than the guy that did that cover of the song.

I had several nieces and nephews in grade and middle school in New Hampshire when Challenger didn't make it to orbit.  Fortunately, I wasn't there to give my opinion or the little snots would have been far more traumatized than they actually were.  (She wasn't their teacher).

« Last Edit: October 01, 2010, 09:10:34 pm by wdg3rd »
Ward Griffiths        wdg3rd@aol.com

Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.  --  Denis Diderot

J Thomas on October 02, 2010, 11:22:43 am

http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/1130
Here is a sculpture that has an entirely different feel if you consider the point of view of the subject, versus merely think of it as one more bit of porn.

I hope I get a better owner than the last one.

Yes.

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Quote
http://picturinghistory.gc.cuny.edu/?p=1045
This bronze appears to be lost, perhaps melted down. You can see something of the power of it from the reproduction of the lithograph. I expect part of its relative lack of success was that many people did not *want* to empathise with the subject, for reasons apart from the art.

If I lick his shoes, maybe "The Great Emancipator" will actually free me.  (Since Lincoln never freed a single slave, north or south).

Oops! I wanted the second picture, the powerful half-naked black man. Holding a representation of the Emancipation Proclamation, which was a great piece of propaganda even though it didn't actually free anybody that day. The one you're talking about with the kneeling freedman is still prominently in Lincoln Park in DC. The one with the triumphant freedman may still exist but I haven't found it.

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Quote
http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=29812613
If you listen to this without empathy, it's kind of a nice song. Its power comes from the meaning. And I don't see that it's particularly about ethics.

I've known the songwriter Jordin Kare even longer than I've known El Neil.  Jordin is as against NASA's control of access to orbit as I am.  But like me, he is also extremely attached to the pioneers.  And he's a lot better singer than the guy that did that cover of the song.

Sorry about the quality, I picked the first version I found. My claim is that this is a very different song if you listen with or without empathy. And I don't see that it's particularly about ethics.

So I say there is art where empathy matters. And the reason the empathy matters is not always because ethics has gotten into it.

 I could be wrong. Maybe empathy has no place in art except from contamination by ethics. But I think I have examples.

Also I say that ethics isn't just about empathy. It looks to me like you agree, you are more interested in reason for that than squishy feelings.

However, I say that ethics is about choice. Reason helps you make logical choices about means, but it doesn't tell you what ends to choose. People choose their goals by gut feel, the same feel that tells them about great art or interesting mathematical proofs or definitive scientific experiments etc.

When their gut feel tells them an ethical conclusion is wrong, they will search for something to say that conclusion cannot be correct. They will keep looking until they find something to use. But when that feel tells them it's OK they won't much look for reasons to invalidate it.

J Thomas on October 02, 2010, 12:17:11 pm

I absolutely do agree that it would be a horrible thing if, for example, the United States nuked the world's one billion Muslims. So I would like to prevent it from happening. I think this is the fire the terrorists are playing with. If the terrorists aren't crushed soon, they might have the chance to pull off a much bigger attack than 9/11, and the possible response of the Western world to such an attack... is unpredictable.

.... This is not just inconvenient for us, it's bad for their own long-term survival.

So your message is: All the muslims had better police themselves and make sure none of them attack us, or we'll nuke them all. Of course it would be a horrible thing if that happened, just horrible. We don't like to make threats like that because really we're good people. So please everybody do what we want so we won't have to make such crazy threats and then carry them out.

There are some problems with this approach. One problem is that massive nuking is not really credible. Here's why -- a long time ago, some civilian scientists got the idea that a US attack on the USSR might put so much dust in the air that we'd get big (temporary) climate changes from it, as we occasionally have from volcanoes that put a whole lot of dust in the air. The US military had been publicly speculating that we could make a successful first-strike against the USSR, destroying them without suffering significant losses ourselves. But "nuclear winter" looked like a potentially bad result for us from that.

So they put a whole lot of effort into debunking the idea, and after years of work they decided that it might not be that bad, maybe a "nuclear autumn", depending on various factors like what time of year we attacked.

But this was just one thing that some civilian scientists came up with, that our military had not considered at all until it turned into a political football. Our military was not looking for reasons why a nuclear strike using thousands of low-radiation high-blast weapons would blow back on us. How many other problems are there, that nobody has thought of? We won't find out until we try.

It would be idiotic of us to try to kill a billion people with nukes. We don't know what to expect. Before we do that we need to start small. Start with one single city and measure the results, and then a few million people, and then maybe a few tens of millions, and work our way up slowly and gradually. And stop if it looks like something is going wrong.

I appreciate your attempt to make a mealy-mouth threat that doesn't quite come out and say what you mean. If we made that threat plainly, it would have big consequences. Imagine that Obama said it. "From now on the USA will hold every muslim in the world responsible for what any other Muslim does. If any of you do something that bothers us too much, we will kill you all quickly. You have been warned."

That would have consequences. There are various other nations that take the threat of international terrorism seriously, and are doing something about it. This speech would change the world in less than one minute. Pretty much everybody would see that the threat of international terrorism is a tiny little pimple on the backside of the threat of the insane USA. Likely it wouldn't be a year before they had us under sanctions.

However, your idea could perhaps be applied in various smaller situations. For example, consider the problems of street gangs in our inner cities. We could announce that if any street gangs are observed in one inner city, we will kill everybody who lives there. They would surely police themselves, at least after the first couple of examples.

And we could use it in the drug war. If anyone is found with drugs we not only kill him, we kill the 100 families that live closest to him, unless they turned him in. We could eliminate the drug problem. People would be breaking into each other's houses to search for drugs, and they'd have every right and reason to. It's their lives on the line.

We could put transponders on all the automobiles, and if somebody breaks a traffic law and nobody turns him in, and he does get caught, then everybody close enough to have seen it gets a ticket. Just a ticket? I dunno, it seems kind of extreme to kill them over traffic tickets. But it would work better that way -- really show them we mean business.

And on the large scale, it might be kind of risky but if we do it why limit it to muslims? We could threaten every nonnuclear nation. "Do anything we tell you not to, and we just might nuke you." World hegemony! Somebody's got to be in charge. Better us than them. And our money problems would be over if the other nations all paid their taxes to us.

OK, I've given this idea some thought now. I really, really don't like it. I've seen some incredibly stupid ideas before, but I can't remember an idea this stupid and this grandiose together.

Brugle on October 02, 2010, 01:29:13 pm
No, there can be empathy that doesn't involve ethical questions.
That is correct. :) I was wrong. :( Sorry.

However, your first two examples support my (incorrect) earlier statement.  The impact of the artworks depend on recognizing that they are about slavery (to at least some extent).  The evil of slavery is obviously an ethical matter.  But those poor examples don't change the fact that I was wrong and you were right.

Did you mean that people without empathy can't do ethics at all?
No.  I try to say what I mean, and I didn't say that.

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When you arbitrarily stick the phrase "the sense of beauty connected to" in front of X, it does not create evidence that X comes from aesthetics.  For example, I could write about "the sense of beauty connected to magnetohydrodynamics", but that would not be evidence that magnetohydrodynamics comes from aesthetics.

I didn't intend that to be a proof. ... How could either of us prove much to the other on that basis?
I asked because (as far as I could tell) that was the only thing you wrote that might be considered evidence.  The rest appeared to be either bald assertions or bullshit or irrelevant (although sometimes mildly interesting) material.

Reason helps you make logical choices about means, but it doesn't tell you what ends to choose. People choose their goals by gut feel, the same feel that tells them about great art or interesting mathematical proofs or definitive scientific experiments etc.

Assuming that you define reason as conscious thought and gut feel as emotion, then I call bullshit.  People choose their goals using both conscious thought and emotion.  People choose their means using both conscious thought and emotion.  Perhaps you have limited your cognitive abilities by rejecting conscious thought when choosing goals and rejecting emotion when choosing means, but don't expect other people to have done the same.

When their gut feel tells them an ethical conclusion is wrong, they will search for something to say that conclusion cannot be correct. They will keep looking until they find something to use. But when that feel tells them it's OK they won't much look for reasons to invalidate it.
I assume that this is a description of your mental process when considering an ethical question.  I don't doubt that some people are that way, for both ethical and non-ethical questions.  It might even be a reasonable process for a person whose conscious thought is extremely error-prone.

However, not all minds work the same as yours.  I expect that some people are the opposite and tend to distrust their emotions in some situations.  When their emotions conflict with their conscious thoughts, they try to shift their focus away from whatever is generating the emotions.

And there are some of us who use both conscious thought and emotion, and when there is a conflict distrust (and usually try to dig deeper into) both.  Of course, it is easily possible for both conscious thoughts and emotions to be wrong, but I both think and feel that using both helps me to be more correct than using either alone.

Once again, you have introduced something extraneous into the discussion.  First, you asserted that ethics comes from the same mental processes as aesthetics.  Then you threw in the question of moral relativism.  Now you throw in the question of reason (which I assume means conscious thought) versus gut feel (which I assume means emotion).

This is getting tiring.  I'll probably not respond to whatever you post on these subjects.  Have fun!
« Last Edit: October 02, 2010, 01:30:55 pm by Brugle »

quadibloc on October 02, 2010, 02:49:39 pm
There are some problems with this approach.
I absolutely agree: it is profoundly immoral to engage in collective punishment, particularly on that scale.

The problem is, though, that the United States is a democracy. It isn't run in perpetuity by one man who can say, "This is wrong, and I will not do it".

So I think that the likely consequence of a big enough terrorist attack in the future will be that the United States will get mired deeper and deeper into conflicts within the Islamic world. Plus, the fact that the United States was unable to use conscription to put more manpower in Afghanistan and Iraq - despite being able to do so for Vietnam, which had a much weaker social consensus behind it - seems to me to be a very bad sign. It means stuff like nukes might well end up being used sooner than otherwise.

When mired deeper and deeper in these conflicts, eventually the U.S. might well reach the point - not of collective punishment for terrorist attacks - but of using nuclear weapons if Muslim nations don't say "Ready, aye, ready" when the United States says to jump. Imperfect cooperation, like the United States is receiving from Pakistan, wouldn't be tolerated.

So it still wouldn't be nuking a bunch of countries in retaliation when a terrorist attack happens. It would be nuking countries that don't consent to being occupied.

The idea is, though, as the cliche says, "this isn't a threat, it's a promise": I'm not the one who has the red button in front of me. And Obama wouldn't be likely do do stuff like that himself. But the American people aren't saints, and when their patience is tried too much, like anyone else, they will be likely to behave badly.

The terrorists, of course, want America to behave badly. But what's the rest of the Islamic world's excuse?

People choose their goals using both conscious thought and emotion.  People choose their means using both conscious thought and emotion.  Perhaps you have limited your cognitive abilities by rejecting conscious thought when choosing goals and rejecting emotion when choosing means, but don't expect other people to have done the same.
Since goals play the same role in behavior as postulates do in a mathematical system, as a first approximation, goals are indeed "givens" that can't really be explained in terms of a more basic reason, and behavior to achieve those goals is most effective if it is directed by calm reason, undisturbed by emotion.

But, of course, you are still right. The actual goals of a real human being are normally far too complex to set down in words on a piece of paper.

This means that there has to be a continual feedback between goals and actions. If I am emotionally uncomfortable with an action I am taking to achieve one of my goals, there are two basic possibilities:

I could be being overly influenced by things like proximity or squeamishness or rationalized self-interest, and therefore heeding my emotions would be a mistake, or

I could have omitted from conscious awareness some of my real goals, and therefore my logical deduction of how to achieve my goals was built on a false premise.

In the latter case, emotion is operating as a fail-safe - reason, operating unchecked on a defective and imperfect finite summation of my goals, as is necessarily the case, may at times produce wrong and even outrageously wrong results.

The idea, therefore, isn't to try to become hyperrational - but to discipline one's thoughts and to try to be a bit more rational than is ordinarily the case is still a good thing. Acknowledging our own limitations is the reason we must reject the hyperrational mode of behavior.

(Yes, I watched too much Star Trek as a kid. How could you tell?)
« Last Edit: October 02, 2010, 05:07:05 pm by quadibloc »

Brugle on October 02, 2010, 02:51:01 pm
-- a long time ago, some civilian scientists got the idea that a US attack on the USSR might put so much dust in the air that we'd get big (temporary) climate changes from it, as we occasionally have from volcanoes that put a whole lot of dust in the air. The US military had been publicly speculating that we could make a successful first-strike against the USSR, destroying them without suffering significant losses ourselves. But "nuclear winter" looked like a potentially bad result for us from that.

So they put a whole lot of effort into debunking the idea, and after years of work they decided that it might not be that bad, maybe a "nuclear autumn", depending on various factors like what time of year we attacked.

I don't think that's right.  As I remember it, the scientists who popularized the disastrous scenarios of nuclear winter realized very early on that their calculations were wrong and that nuclear winter wouldn't be nearly as bad as they first thought.  They presented the initial (erroneous) results anyway.  But, as was to be expected, their paper was discovered to be bogus (which any competent scientist who went through the calculations could verify) almost as soon as the paper was published.  They claimed (and I don't doubt) that they lied to the public in an effort to make nuclear war less likely, but I doubt it had that effect since their credibility was destroyed.

By the way, I was shocked to read (in one of his books) that Freeman Dyson had sympathy for the scientists who lied about nuclear winter.  Perhaps he thought those scientists would have had no effect on the public unless they lied, and that throwing away their credibility didn't really matter.  In any case, I respected Dyson enough to think more about scientific integrity.

jamesd on October 02, 2010, 04:18:21 pm
So your message is: All the muslims had better police themselves and make sure none of them attack us, or we'll nuke them all. Of course it would be a horrible thing if that happened, just horrible. We don't like to make threats like that because really we're good people. So please everybody do what we want so we won't have to make such crazy threats and then carry them out.

What is happening is that Muslims are threatening us, and demanding we obey and submit, and we are obeying and submitting, as for example, the pastor who was fined two hundred thousand dollars for threatening to burn Korans.

If, to remain free, we have to kill all Muslims, we should kill all Muslims.  It is their fault for trying to make us submit to them.  I rather think we could remain free by killing less than all Muslims.  I observe that the Cronulla Beach riots decisively and seemingly permanently ended efforts to impose Sharia law on Cronulla Beach, and would suggest therefore a little little teensy weensy pogrom - to be followed by a slightly bigger pogrom if the first problem failed to stop them threatening us.  Proceed with bigger and bigger pogroms until they stop threatening us, or there are no Muslims left.


J Thomas on October 02, 2010, 04:27:47 pm
No, there can be empathy that doesn't involve ethical questions.
That is correct. :) I was wrong. :( Sorry.

However, your first two examples support my (incorrect) earlier statement.  The impact of the artworks depend on recognizing that they are about slavery (to at least some extent).  The evil of slavery is obviously an ethical matter.  But those poor examples don't change the fact that I was wrong and you were right.

I wasn't thinkiing of them that way, since the Greek Slave would be more a theoretical issue -- nobody had enslaved Greeks for a long time, except of course Turks. I should have compared the Greek Slave to the Dying Gaul.

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Quote
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When you arbitrarily stick the phrase "the sense of beauty connected to" in front of X, it does not create evidence that X comes from aesthetics.  For example, I could write about "the sense of beauty connected to magnetohydrodynamics", but that would not be evidence that magnetohydrodynamics comes from aesthetics.

I didn't intend that to be a proof. ... How could either of us prove much to the other on that basis?
I asked because (as far as I could tell) that was the only thing you wrote that might be considered evidence.  The rest appeared to be either bald assertions or bullshit or irrelevant (although sometimes mildly interesting) material.

I'm not at all sure what sort of evidence you could accept. Let me try an example of an ethical question.

Should people be allowed to own land, and do whatever they want with their own land?

Obviously not. You shouldn't have the right to do things to your own land that hurt other people without their permission. There are obvious questions of water rights. And if you turn your land into a dustbowl, that can damage your neighbors. Some people believe that if you grow dandelions on your lawn that damages their lawns, because you keep reseeding dandelions that they must dig up. I'm unclear on that. Undisturbed ecosystems mostly don't grow dandelions. It's a pretty shaky biome that can't keep them out.

But then I once had a neighbor who grew kudzu. His trees, his windows, everything  was covered with it. Every day a hundred vines grew one more foot into my yard, after I cleaned the place up. I asked him about it. "I like my privacy." People told me I could stick one vine into a bottle of Roundup and kill everything it was connected to. Did he have a right to grow kudzu in my yard? Did I have a right to kill his kudzu?

What if your neighbor kept big piles of flammables on his property and then insisted that you not send him the tiniest spark because of the damage you could do?

We're just beginning to get the first fruits of the new biotechnology. Eventually we will be ready to read genomes and understand them. Each surviving species will carry a record of the climates it has survived over the last 30,000 years or so, with genes that will be useful for designing new species for specific purposes. Destroy that wealth now and we'll never find out how valuable it would have been. Landowners have a collective responsibility to preserve those species. I'm not at all clear how to put a money value on it ahead of time, or how to distribute the responsibility. Probably what will happen is that we will destroy a whole lot of wealth with little forethought, and later we will figure out how to use what's left.

In an ethical sense, landowners have a lot of responsibilities to all the people they may harm. But I expect a lot of people will strongly disagree with that. They have a gut sense that says Mine! Miiiiine!. And then they can agree on practical things like water rights, because it's obviously necessary.

It comes from the gut. And also what people imagine is not quite what they say. I say you have a responsibility not to hurt other people when you do things on your own land. (Except if they're trespassers etc, of course.) In reality, a lot of people are stupid and irresponsible and do bad things to their own land that hurt their neighbors. But who's going to teach them better? The government? Get the government to monitor everything they do and decide whether it's good or bad? Let everybody make lawsuits against everybody else about the bad things they find out about early enough to stop?

Ethically, you have a responsibility not to hurt them and they have a responsibility to be tough enough not to get hurt easily. I see no way to enforce it. But people get different ethical results depending on where they're coming from. I hope some of us got that "Hell no" sense from the beginning, and got to notice that it came first and the thinking came later.

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Reason helps you make logical choices about means, but it doesn't tell you what ends to choose. People choose their goals by gut feel, the same feel that tells them about great art or interesting mathematical proofs or definitive scientific experiments etc.

Assuming that you define reason as conscious thought and gut feel as emotion, then I call bullshit.

No, not thought and emotion. Something that comes first before either of them, and distorts the thought and the emotion.

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People choose their goals using both conscious thought and emotion.  People choose their means using both conscious thought and emotion.  Perhaps you have limited your cognitive abilities by rejecting conscious thought when choosing goals and rejecting emotion when choosing means, but don't expect other people to have done the same.

Yes, I sometimes get in trouble assuming other people are like me. Still I say the goals come first, and then you think in terms of the goals and feel in terms of the goals.

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When their gut feel tells them an ethical conclusion is wrong, they will search for something to say that conclusion cannot be correct. They will keep looking until they find something to use. But when that feel tells them it's OK they won't much look for reasons to invalidate it.
I assume that this is a description of your mental process when considering an ethical question.  I don't doubt that some people are that way, for both ethical and non-ethical questions.  It might even be a reasonable process for a person whose conscious thought is extremely error-prone.

It appears to be the norm. Usually, people make their choices first and afterward they rationalize them.

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However, not all minds work the same as yours.  I expect that some people are the opposite and tend to distrust their emotions in some situations.  When their emotions conflict with their conscious thoughts, they try to shift their focus away from whatever is generating the emotions.

If they first make their choice and then get uncomfortable emotions, I see they're likely to shift their focus away from the feelings. They can for example make complex technical rationalizations to explain why their choice is right and they are wrong to feel uncomfortable.

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And there are some of us who use both conscious thought and emotion, and when there is a conflict distrust (and usually try to dig deeper into) both.  Of course, it is easily possible for both conscious thoughts and emotions to be wrong, but I both think and feel that using both helps me to be more correct than using either alone.

That sounds like a good plan to me. If you have a bad feeling and you can't quite say why, that's worth careful attention. Maybe you'll see what's bothering you. And if you think it out and it doesn't make sense, that's a sign that it deserves deeper thought. Likely your conclusions are sometimes right and sometimes wrong, and you can figure out which is which. But all of this comes after you choose what you will consider to be important and "right".

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Once again, you have introduced something extraneous into the discussion.  First, you asserted that ethics comes from the same mental processes as aesthetics.

Yes, I think it does. Most people most of the time, choose first and justify their choice later. Advertising is based on the theory that they can manipulate those choices and the later rationalizations, on average.

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Then you threw in the question of moral relativism.

People seemed to instinctively reject the idea that it's esthetic. I guessed that people who are not moral relativists will tend to reject that it's an esthetic choice because they tend to believe there's a right answer that careful thought will reveal for everybody who thinks carefully. At first sight that's incompatible with my claim.

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Now you throw in the question of reason (which I assume means conscious thought) versus gut feel (which I assume means emotion).

I tried saying "gut feel" because "esthetic sense" didn't seem to communicate. But that didn't either. You confuse it with emotion. Wdg3rd brought up "reason" and I tried to go with it.

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This is getting tiring.  I'll probably not respond to whatever you post on these subjects.  Have fun!

No problem. It's frustrating when we keep misunderstanding each other. And there's no need to reach an understanding this week instead of next week or next month or whenever it clicks.