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Is genuine altruism possible?

 
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Nov, 2003 01:04 am
rufio,

twyvel asked you that very qustion six pages ago!

This all goes back to the "Tree in the Forest" scenario in which the naive realists "forget" that THEY are "still seeing it" in their minds eye. One solution to "objectivity" is that it is transmitted (together with the concept of self) through language/socialization. Thus "conceptual seeing" is a sub process of "languaging", but in the case of "altruism" there is a lack of general consensus as to the status and range of the "event window".

Now of course, for the sake of "hearing yourself talk", you could shift your attack to "where did language come from ?" etc, but thats not the point ,which is that "perception" is active not passive and this is especially significant at the level of ethics or moral judgement.
0 Replies
 
rufio
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Nov, 2003 01:26 am
I don't see why twyvel would ask me that question, unless she was putting words in my mouth.

But animals and small children, who lack the complete developement of language skills, still see and interact with objects. and people who speak different langauges don't see objects in different ways. On top of that, I can understand objects quite well, perhaps better, without language.

Perception may be somewhat active on a more complex level, in terms of perceiving abstract things such as situations, actions, objectives, etc. Those will all be perceived as different, I agree. But simple facts, objects, and other concrete, solid things, will be perceived the same way every time. (All of this is given that all observers are in the same proximity to the observed as each other. Naturally, clarity plays a part here too.) I agree that there is always something impeding direct perception - I would say that the only thing you can directly perceive, that is, perceive without being impeded in some way, is yourself, and we all agreed earlier that we can't really call that "perception". Since perception is incomplete, we form mental images of things which are more complete - these exist only in our head, and we create them. However, the thing we perceive really exists, and we do not create IT's properties. This is why people can see something and imagine it one way, when it is actually quite different. Their original perception was incomplete, and their mind filled in the gaps - incorrectly.
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Nov, 2003 06:37 am
rufio,

The Piagetian concept of "de-centration" does support your view that "language " is not a priori, but this must be taken against the total background of his epsitemology, which is "non-causal" and which asigns the concept of "reality" to mutual equilibrium states between observer and observed.

The strong form of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis IS the view that language "decides" reality, but this is often dilluted somewhat into the weak form of "influences" reality. However the influence is strongest on abstract concepts such as moral issues.

Itsa pity you do not give references such as these to your unilateral ideas (which somewhere you claim "your professors like"). In my occasional capacity as a marker of graduate papers I was instructed to fail a student who gave unreferenced arguments.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Nov, 2003 09:31 am
twyvel wrote:
When I say altruism is relative I mean the basic concept is shared but interpreted differently in terms of how it's applied and what it is applied to. Unless you're a solipsist it is recognized that there has to be some common ground, and objective ground, in order for us to coexist. If there were zero agreement on what altruism was there would be no communication.

So far, so good.

twyvel wrote:
If the understanding of altruism in it's most basic form is a, "willingness to do things which benefit other people, even if it results in disadvantage for yourself", and it is not agreed upon then where is the agreement? Where is the common ground? Is there an agreement on a common definition?

Here's where you go very seriously wrong, twyvel. You want to start with a universal agreement before examining the concept. But that's the exact reverse of what we have to do. We need, instead, to examine the concept as a means to arriving at a universal agreement.

Until we reach a universal consensus, however, we can still talk intelligibly about the concept. Granted, much of the discussion will inevitably be on a definitional level, but that's how universal consensuses are reached.

On the other hand, if you merely object to the initial phrasing of the question ("does genuine altruism exist?") because it presupposes a notion of "altruism," then that problem is easily remedied. We can always adopt a "working definition" of a concept, even if we eventually decide to reject the definition. Approach the topic, then, in this fashion: "is there such a thing that is commonly referred to as 'altruism?'"

twyvel wrote:
The question is can X and Y be

Yes, X and/or Y can be mistaken. And the "we" who determine this are the "we" (or "they") who are correct. The question, then, becomes how do we determine who the "we" (or "they") are.

twyvel wrote:

If you're saying that there is, on many occasions, no "right" because there's no consensus, then I'd say you are mistaken. If you're saying that all "opinions" are equally valid, then I'd say you are sadly mistaken.

twyvel wrote:

What is that meaning?
0 Replies
 
rufio
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Nov, 2003 12:51 pm
Fresco, do you have any opinions that you didn't learn out of some tome? Because I do. I never claimed that anyone liked my philosophical ideas (in fact, they'd probably all hate them). When I take philosophy classes, I take them to learn about other philosophers, not to express my own personal opinion. On the other hand, when I come here, I'm expressing my personal thoughts, not an in-depth study of someone else's philosophy. I've never read half of what you cite as a basis for my opinions, so how can I reference someone I've never read? Just because someone happened to come to the same conclusions a few centuries ago that I did now doesn't mean that I'm plageurizing them.
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twyvel
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Nov, 2003 03:26 pm
joefromchicago

Quote:
Here's where you go very seriously wrong, twyvel. You want to start with a universal agreement before examining the concept. But that's the exact reverse of what we have to do. We need, instead, to examine the concept as a means to arriving at a universal agreement.

Until we reach a universal consensus, however, we can still talk intelligibly about the concept. Granted, much of the discussion will inevitably be on a definitional level, but that's how universal consensuses are reached.


No, I'm not looking for a universal agreement yet. I am asking, What is the concept?

Quote:
On the other hand, if you merely object to the initial phrasing of the question ("does genuine altruism exist?") because it presupposes a notion of "altruism," then that problem is easily remedied. We can always adopt a "working definition" of a concept, even if we eventually decide to reject the definition. Approach the topic, then, in this fashion: "is there such a thing that is commonly referred to as 'altruism?'"
Quote:
Yes, X and/or Y can be mistaken.
Quote:

And the "we" who determine this are the "we" (or "they") who are correct. The question, then, becomes how do we determine who the "we" (or "they") are.


There is no, "correct" universally speaking. There is only "correct" as considered by an individual or group, as in the committee above. But that committee can be wrong according to another committee, etc.
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fresco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Nov, 2003 05:02 pm
rufio,

I think a few smiles have been generated in the audience when we now learn you consider yourself to be "a philosopher" and that you take classes "to learn about the others". Most of us took the classes to learn what philosophy is about, how to construct a balanced argument and set our own ideas within the framework of its historical evolution which provides the current semantic tools and nuances for philosophical discourse. These aspects seem to have escaped you.
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Nov, 2003 05:38 pm
truth
Rufio, you are obviously a smart guy or gal; that's not my complaint at all. But when you call us closed minded, I would repeat what Tywvel or Fresco noted: that we have evolved to our anti-naive realism/objectivism. We WERE naive realists, so we understand your position, but you do not understand ours. Everyone is a naive realist before he studies epistemology. But we have earned a perspective that you DO lack. I would strongly recommend that you study Fresco's Post 429108. When you really understand the principles it points to, you will have made a quantum leap forward, a new freedom with which to express your intelligence. But--I know--it's more comfortable to compete, and in so doing, maintain a closed mind.
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Nov, 2003 09:23 am
twyvel wrote:
If we take one dictionary diffinition of altruism as, "Performing a beneficial act for others with little or no regard for self."

The meaning of each term/word has many variants, so the statement can be interpreted in many ways.
If everyone on this thread disagrees as to what altruism is, where does the disagreement reside?

Quite likely at the definitional level, where many philosophical disagreements reside. But if you're saying that we can't discuss a concept unless we have a universally accepted definition of that concept, you're saying that we are incapable of discussing anything.

twyvel wrote:

Quite right. Are you, then, suggesting that there can never be an agreement on the concept of "altruism" because the concept is inherently subjective?

twyvel wrote:
But lets say we are on a committee and we have to come to a decision. The first agreement, full of compromises no doubt, has to be on the definition of the word "altruism" otherwise we are not talking about the same thing. After that we decide whether an act fits the definition. Of course another committee might come to agreement on another definition. If boths committee are to decide on situation Y the outcome will stand in relation to there referent definitions.

That's how things normally proceed.

twyvel wrote:
Can X and Y be mistaken?

Why not?

twyvel wrote:

Certainly you can be wrong in that situation.

1. You could be lying.
2. You could be mistaken about the nature of "roses."
3. You could be mistaken about the nature of "liking" something.
4. You could be mistaken about the nature of "I."

twyvel wrote:
If I say I feel X committed an altruistic act, is it a question of right or wrong?

"Right or wrong" in the sense of "correct or incorrect" or in the sense of "good or bad"? Clearly, it can always be analyzed in the sense of "correct or incorrect," but it is open to debate whether it is a question of "good or bad."

twyvel wrote:
There is no, "correct" universally speaking. There is only "correct" as considered by an individual or group, as in the committee above. But that committee can be wrong according to another committee, etc.

So are you saying that all truths are relative?
0 Replies
 
rufio
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Nov, 2003 12:04 pm
I used to be relativist too, JL.

Fresco, anyone can think, no matter how many classes they take. Learning about what other people thought makes you take their opinions into consideration, nothing more. If we aren't all philosophers than what are we? Walking reference books? What one person can think, others can too. Do you have a problem with people thinking without first being told what to think?
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fresco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Nov, 2003 01:11 pm
Its no good JLN, there will be no leaping today !
(...the terrier won't let go of my sleeve Laughing )
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JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Nov, 2003 02:58 pm
truth
We're not referring only to relativism, Rufio. Were you also a contructivist, one who sees how ideas, morals and values are constructed?
I DO like your phrase, that all men are philosophers. This is true in the sense that all people try to make sense of their experience. But there are good and bad philosophers. I hope that you will become better by "leaping" out of the naivete of objectivism. But, then, it doesn't really matter to the world. Do what you will, but don't subject me to it.
Sorry.
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rufio
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Nov, 2003 03:24 pm
"I DO like your phrase, that all men are philosophers."

All women too. I get the feeling fresco will contest that.

"But there are good and bad philosophers."

Isn't that all relative though?

"Were you also a contructivist, one who sees how ideas, morals and values are constructed?"

How can you look at reality and take into account why people think what they do? For god's sake, I'm an anthro major. What the hell do you think I'm interested in if not that? I really don't like your denial that these things exist (therefore concluding that they can't be studied).

"Do what you will, but don't subject me to it."

No one's subjecting you to anything. You're perfectly free to never talk to me again, if you don't want to.
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JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Nov, 2003 03:50 pm
truth
Rufio, I apologize for my snide comment that I am being subjected to you. That was uncalled for. The fact is that if I did not get something out of our dialog I would have simply left the thread, as I have with others. Part of the reason I hang around, though, is that I like to follow the thinking of Tywvel and Fresco. But they (and I) would have nothing to talk about if it were not for your assertions. You serve to convince us of the validity of our positions. By the way, if you persist in the study of anthropology you will eventually experience either a great appreciation for "constructivism" (that all worldviews are constructed, that they are artificial in the sense of man made "artifacts") or you will suffer a major train wreck and change majors.
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rufio
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Nov, 2003 11:06 pm
Just because worldveiw is constructed doesn't mean that the world itself doesn't exist.
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JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Nov, 2003 11:14 pm
truth
Who said otherwise? I've only read people to say that our experience and understanding of the world is our construction.
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twyvel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Nov, 2003 11:23 pm
joefromchicago

Quote:
Quite likely at the definitional level, where many philosophical disagreements reside. But if you're saying that we can't discuss a concept unless we have a universally accepted definition of that concept, you're saying that we are incapable of discussing anything.
Quote:
Can X and Y be mistaken?

Quote:
Why not?


That I think what I think is indisputable.
A belief that god exists is not mistaken if the truth is unknown. If I say altruism doesn't't exist I'm not wrong if my definition and understanding of what altruism is cannot be found to be applicable to any human behavior.


Quote:
Certainly you can be wrong in that situation.



The way I phrased my statement you are quite right.


Quote:
So are you saying that all truths are relative?


In reference to your statement:…

And the "we" who determine this are the "we" (or "they") who are correct. The question, then, becomes how do we determine who the "we" (or "they") are.
0 Replies
 
rufio
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Nov, 2003 11:54 pm
That was what it looked like to me, JL.
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JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Nov, 2003 09:39 am
truth
Rufio, I know people--extreme idealists or "mentalists"--who feel that there is nothing but experience. To them the world IS our experience; we do not have experience OF it. In a sense this is correct, if by "the world" we are referring to the PHENOMENA comprising what we call "the world." I prefer the interactionist approach that acknowledges an objective reality but feels that that reality is without meaning or essences other than what we ascribe to it. We may think of "it" as composed of the actions of "atoms," "quarks," "strings," "gravitational forces," etc. etc. but these are "constructions" (not fairy tales because they do have some basis in experience, as indirect as it may be). But the WORLD AS I CONCEIVE IT is--as Schopenhauer argued-- my idea, or more accurately, a "cultural" construction of all the people involved closely or distantly in my mental development, as well as the contributions I have made to it. I hope this shows my view in a more balanced way.
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Nov, 2003 09:51 am
Current respondents are cordially invited to the "Philosophy of Self" thread.
0 Replies
 
 

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