Naturalism = Nihilism?
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
22-07-2014, 07:48 AM
RE: Naturalism = Nihilism?
It seems to me that this argument has strong parallels to the prime mover argument for the existence of God. You want to say that there is some ultimate foundation for morality, or motion, or existence, or some difficult property. You define a god who by definition meets the requirement for such a foundation. Then, you claim that god exists. It's a fairly circular argument and generally relies on special pleading for the god-being who for some reason doesn't require a foundation of their own.

Morality exists independent of religion, just as existence exists. It doesn't need to have a foundation to spring forth from fully formed. It can and has evolved and developed over time as the complexity of the universe and of society has developed.

I see morality as a synthesis of values interacting with reality. It is useful to seek some reasonably solid foundation for our values, but there is no need to go as far down the rabbit hole as requiring an unexplained god of no explanatory power. Most value judgements can be taken back to a simple principle such as the golden rule: If I understand that having something done to me is harmful then it is easy to express a judgement that doing that to anyone in a similar context would be contrary to the values one uses to define morality.

If you're looking for a primer on secular morality, consider QualiaSoup:



Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 3 users Like Hafnof's post
22-07-2014, 08:31 AM
RE: Naturalism = Nihilism?
(22-07-2014 12:48 AM)nietzsche101 Wrote:  The main question I'm concerned with is morality.. if "god is dead" then what does "morality" mean?

uhhh...the same thing it's always meant.


morality
mo·ral·i·ty
[muh-ral-i-tee, maw-] Show IPA
noun, plural mo·ral·i·ties for 4–6.
1.
conformity to the rules of right conduct; moral or virtuous conduct.
2.
moral quality or character.
3.
virtue in sexual matters; chastity.
4.
a doctrine or system of morals.
5.
moral instruction; a moral lesson, precept, discourse, or utterance.

Morality does NOT have to be directly connected to any God. Quality of character is dependent upon yourself in respect to others.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
22-07-2014, 09:42 AM (This post was last modified: 22-07-2014 09:46 AM by Reltzik.)
RE: Naturalism = Nihilism?
Good stuff from QualiaSoup, as usual.

(22-07-2014 01:37 AM)nietzsche101 Wrote:  Thanks for the reply.

I understand that in a certain sense "morality" refers to social constructs.. but unless these constructs are founded upon something real, they are ultimately meaningless (or at best... maybe a noble lie, to keep society together), nothing more than an appeal to authority...

This foundation would have to be something greater than the natural world - I don't see the difference between "god" and "dharma".. care to explain?


I've been an atheist all my life, but it has dawned upon me that I do (and it appears everyone eles) has some notion of a right/wrong that is beyond there mere subjective preferences.
I make many sacrifices in my life, just because it is the "Right" thing to do.... this is what my heart feels, although my head/atheism would say it is insanity.

A "god" is typically regarded as having a fairly person-like mind. It is something with things like personality, a will, decision-making capacity, memory, recognizable emotions, communication skills, preferences, and a sense of self. It's got things that a psychologist can study. It might be a relatively ALIEN psychology, but it is still a psychology.

This view of a god is hardly universal, but it's definitely the convention, and I view applying the word to something non-sapient as a poor word choice. Because too many of the assumptions attached to the word "god" would be violated in that case, it would not communicate my concept correctly, and I'd find another word to do the trick.

Dharma (at least in Buddhism) and the Tao are not regarded as being sapient in this manner, nor as being handed down from some sapient rule-giver. They're not (always) depicted as "natural" (contrasted with "supernatural") in the sense that they're part of the material, scientifically testable world, but they are "natural" (contrasted with "artificial") in the sense that their dictates exist and operate without sapient intervention. (Don't get me started on naturalism or grappling with the definition of natural vs supernatural, spiritual, or whatever you're contrasting it with. I think the entire dichotomy is ill-defined, incoherent, and useless.) Gods, if they existed, would be viewed as answering to the Dharma or Tao, not the other way around. I brought these up as examples to demonstrate that an objective (fundamentally truer) morality would not necessarily require a god to be objective in this sense.

I would note that social conventions ARE things that exist beyond individual, subjective whims... at least, outside of a dictatorship. In a way, a society is like a type of emergent intelligence. It too has a gestalt of personality, memory, desires, emotions, et cetera, and if this arises from the capacities of of its distinct members, recall that those too arise from the functions of distinct neurons. Similarly, morality based in, addressing, or arising from instincts or drives common to the entire human species is far removed from individual subjectivity.

If you're looking for more, let me share a bit about my philosophy of identity. I do not think that we really are our bodies. I view "us" as our memories, what we are aware of, and our predilection to make such-and-such decisions or actions under such-and-such circumstances. This might be wholly dictated by the arrangements of our brains, and if so, we arise from and our defined by that arrangement. I think this is likely the case. But that would be something neuroscience has discovered about who we are, rather than the definition of who we are. If that discovery about the brain were discovered to be in error, it would not change the nature of our identity. It would only change what we know about how that identity arises or where it is contained. I like to use the metaphor of a computer program (and its associated data files) versus the computer it's on. The two are not the same. Maybe there's no mechanism for porting the program from one computer to another. Maybe smashing the hard drive and frying the RAM will destroy the program irretrievably. But they're still distinct concepts. Maybe parts of that program were originally copied from another program on another computer, or from a template used to create many programs, but they're still an indelible part of THIS program. It might be very much like, other programs on other computers, perhaps differing only in their data files rather than their algorithms. But the distinction can still be drawn.

Okay, so what does that have to do with anything? This. If the decisions we make and our means of arriving by them are defining features of who we are, and if some particular morality is part of how we arrive at those decisions, then in a fundamental way the morality we hold is a part of us. To abandon a deeply-held value would be to cut away a part of ourselves, and thus engaging in morality, even sacrificing for our moral ideals, is an exercise in self-preservation.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Reltzik's post
22-07-2014, 11:02 PM
RE: Naturalism = Nihilism?
I agree with basically everything the video says.
causing suffering = wrong, alleviating suffering = right.

^ This is my basis for morality, this is what I call objective morality...
It's clear that science/reason are much better tools than any authority(be it a bible, a government, democracy ect) to help us discover the best ways to do what is "right", and avoid doing what is "wrong".

But, The question I'm asking is why is this the case??
Why do/should I(or anyone else) make this assertion; "suffering = wrong" in the first place?
Why not just stick to the assertion "that my suffering is wrong"?

Sometimes doing what is "right" in a universal sense, is directly against what is "right" for me as an individual.... Think of someone like; Galileo.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
23-07-2014, 01:31 AM
Re: RE: Naturalism = Nihilism?
(22-07-2014 11:02 PM)nietzsche101 Wrote:  I agree with basically everything the video says.
causing suffering = wrong, alleviating suffering = right.

^ This is my basis for morality, this is what I call objective morality...
It's clear that science/reason are much better tools than any authority(be it a bible, a government, democracy ect) to help us discover the best ways to do what is "right", and avoid doing what is "wrong".

But, The question I'm asking is why is this the case??
Why do/should I(or anyone else) make this assertion; "suffering = wrong" in the first place?
Why not just stick to the assertion "that my suffering is wrong"?

Sometimes doing what is "right" in a universal sense, is directly against what is "right" for me as an individual.... Think of someone like; Galileo.

We're presupposed to feel that way due to our genetic background.

Evolution has driven humans, and mostly all mammals, to care for the betterment of others in their group as well as themselves. It's the best way to sustain ones own generic lineage. Self sacrifice may occur for the aid of the group in cases such as Galileo.

"Allow there to be a spectrum in all that you see" - Neil Degrasse Tyson
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
23-07-2014, 03:58 AM
RE: Naturalism = Nihilism?
So altruism is merely a by-product of the instinctual desire for self preservation?

That doesn't really answer my question as to why I do/should care about anyone besides myself....
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
23-07-2014, 07:55 AM
RE: Naturalism = Nihilism?
(21-07-2014 11:29 PM)nietzsche101 Wrote:  It appears to me, that atheism/naturalism can only lead us to nihilism, when taken all the way to it's logical conclusions... yet I see almost no one who will acknowledge/address this.

What grounds can we stand upon when we wish to call something "wrong"?

Are right/wrong merely subjective preferences?

Right and wrong are indeed subjective preferences. But other judgments are not. "Harmful, benign and beneficial" are not subjective, for example.

It is correct to say that atheism can lead to nihilism. It is false, however, to say it can only lead to nihilism. I am an atheist, but I am not a nihilist. Case closed.

We call things "wrong" for a multitude of reasons. One is whether the action is harmful, either to the person taking the action or to others. It is beneficial to me to rob a bank. But it is harmful to others. So we label it "wrong."

It may be beneficial to someone to praise a "God." More power to that person. But when praising that God is manifested by stoning a man for the crime of picking up sticks on the Sabbath, that's harmful to the recipient of that action. It is therefore wrong, whether God commands it or not.

Theism has no monopoly on defining right and wrong.

Religion is proof that invisible men can obscure your vision.
Visit my blog
Follow me on Twitter @TwoCultSurvivor
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
23-07-2014, 08:27 AM
RE: Naturalism = Nihilism?
(23-07-2014 03:58 AM)nietzsche101 Wrote:  So altruism is merely a by-product of the instinctual desire for self preservation?

That doesn't really answer my question as to why I do/should care about anyone besides myself....

There are self-serving reasons to not be a jerk. Among other things, people will be more likely to cooperate with you. Cooperation makes life easier both in that you don't have to constantly fear the Huns scaling the wall to take your shit and also in that you get a higher standard of living. I'd rather spend my time writing software to earn money, some of which can be spent on Internet service and Taco Bell rather than busting my ass growing and hunting my own food until I eventually die of some infection in my early forties.

Also, there's empathy. At the end of the day, I have no desire to harm others. It's not who I am. But that's just me. I've talked to numerous Christians who claim they'd be serial killers or thieves if they weren't constantly under the surveillance of an invisible super-cop.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes RobbyPants's post
23-07-2014, 08:40 AM
RE: Naturalism = Nihilism?
(23-07-2014 03:58 AM)nietzsche101 Wrote:  So altruism is merely a by-product of the instinctual desire for self preservation?

That doesn't really answer my question as to why I do/should care about anyone besides myself....

Well I don't think you should care about others unless it pleases you.

There is no "should" about it. You care about people based on their virtues and the character that they have achieved. Your esteem, admiration and love are values that have to be earned by others just like any value. The currency of love is virtue.

Now I can't imagine going through life not caring about anyone but neither can I imagine going through life handing out my esteem indiscriminately and that is what altruism is all about. That is what Religions ask you to do and it is evil as far as I'm concerned. If you are asked to love everyone then what is your love worth?

The morality of altruism doesn't just tell you to care about others, it tells you to care more about others than you do yourself and that is unspeakably evil. It turns you into a sacrificial animal. Unfortunately, mostly because of religion, this anti-life moral code has been dominant for centuries even among those who are not religious and dictators like Hitler and Stalin have cashed in on it throughout history. They could not have done what they did except on the morality of self sacrifice.

Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. - Ayn Rand.

Don't sacrifice for me, live for yourself! - Me

The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of Subjectivism. - Dawson Bethrick
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
23-07-2014, 08:53 AM
RE: Naturalism = Nihilism?
If you go through life not caring about others to the extent that you become a danger to others, then others will, out of a need for self-preservation, isolate you (ignore you, throw you in jail, etc, depending on how you exhibit this trait). It is therefore in your self interest to care about other people.

Why is this hard?

Religion is proof that invisible men can obscure your vision.
Visit my blog
Follow me on Twitter @TwoCultSurvivor
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 2 users Like TwoCultSurvivor's post
Post Reply
Forum Jump: