Refuting "the problem of evil"
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20-08-2014, 02:53 AM
RE: Refuting "the problem of evil"
(19-08-2014 08:41 PM)Vosur Wrote:  I'm afraid to say that I'm not particularly interested in getting into a lengthy discussion about whether this distinction is warranted in so far that one can exist without the other (i.e. whether suffering can exist without pain and vice versa). You can rest assured that if you use the word "pain" in your response, I will be thinking of the objective phenomenon of pain that even other animals experience, not the subjective (negative) feelings associated with it.

The distinction is warranted because it's fact there is a distinction, in that that "pain" and "suffering" are different words with subtly different dictionary definitions and therefore different meanings.

I understand that you may be uninterested in exploring the distinction, but if that's true then I will respectfully decline to continue our discussion of this topic because I can't see how it could go anywhere meaningful except from the premise of a clear differentiation of these two concepts.

Phil
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20-08-2014, 03:11 AM
RE: Refuting "the problem of evil"
(20-08-2014 12:45 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  I've literally explained this already in one of the earliest posts. Facepalm

So let me quote myself, from page 3, post 30.
(18-08-2014 03:22 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  Evil is attributed to intelligent causation. Animal are not evil, because they generally lack the intelligence required for moral contemplation. Moral accountability extend only as far as your knowledge.

OK thanks for that, yes - I think that's a reasonable definition.

We expect animals to lack compassion so we're not surprised by their lack of compassion in reality.

My claim would be that we tend to project our own capacities on to other humans though, other humans look like us physically so we assume they have equivalent mental capacities, and that's the source of the "intelligent causation" perception of "evil".

Are you familiar with any developmental psychology models?

Here's an overview of Robert Kegan's model regarding how cognitive complexity develops in adults

Here's an overview of psycological development from a slightly different perspective, that of moral development.

Some Integral thinkers have spotted that the specific stages in these different perspectives of adult psychological development resonate with each other, e.g. that Kegan's 3rd order is roughly synonymous with Kohlberg's Level 2. As a general rule of thumb, we can assume a rational thinker is also an ethical human.

However, what's also been spotted is that there can in fact be quite a big mis-match between cognitive development and moral development.

E.g. Joseph Mengele is an example of a human at pre-conventional levels of moral development and post conventional (e.g rational) levels of cognitive development.

So he was rational and scientific, just not very moral.

His lack of moral development is not evidence of presence of "evil", defining evil as "intelligent causation", simply because (against Kohlberg's model) he lacks moral intelligence.

Phil
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20-08-2014, 03:19 AM
RE: Refuting "the problem of evil"
(20-08-2014 02:53 AM)phil.a Wrote:  The distinction is warranted because it's fact there is a distinction, in that that "pain" and "suffering" are different words with subtly different dictionary definitions and therefore different meanings.

I understand that you may be uninterested in exploring the distinction, but if that's true then I will respectfully decline to continue our discussion of this topic because I can't see how it could go anywhere meaningful except from the premise of a clear differentiation of these two concepts.

Phil
I could cite one or two dictionaries whose definitions indicate that these terms are more or less synonymous because they refer to each other, but there are few things more tiresome than arguments about semantics.

I have already acknowledged that your distinction is warranted; what I disagree with is the Buddhist assertion that suffering is always optional, i.e. that it's always possible for pain to exist without suffering. That is the discussion I'm not particularly interested in getting into.

I would like to emphasize that my original question was about physical pain and nothing else. As per your distinction, that would be "pain."

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20-08-2014, 03:38 AM
RE: Refuting "the problem of evil"
(20-08-2014 02:45 AM)Revenant77x Wrote:  
(20-08-2014 12:47 AM)phil.a Wrote:  That is in fact, one way of framing my argument.

Phil

So you remove a magical being capable of suspending the laws of physics? Then yes the Problem of evil is a non-factor without a space wizard aka god.

Correct!

In my opinion, the God defined as a "magical space wizard" does not exist. If someone were to define god in those terms, then I would take a strong atheist position against his argument.

The laws of physics area real, they cannot be ignored.

Phil
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20-08-2014, 04:01 AM
RE: Refuting "the problem of evil"
(20-08-2014 03:38 AM)phil.a Wrote:  
(20-08-2014 02:45 AM)Revenant77x Wrote:  So you remove a magical being capable of suspending the laws of physics? Then yes the Problem of evil is a non-factor without a space wizard aka god.

Correct!

In my opinion, the God defined as a "magical space wizard" does not exist. If someone were to define god in those terms, then I would take a strong atheist position against his argument.

The laws of physics area real, they cannot be ignored.

Phil

Congratulations this means that your version of god #25,115,275,111 is not subject to the Problem of Evil as it only refers to Omnimax gods.

(31-07-2014 04:37 PM)Luminon Wrote:  America is full of guns, but they're useless, because nobody has the courage to shoot an IRS agent in self-defense
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20-08-2014, 04:04 AM
RE: Refuting "the problem of evil"
(20-08-2014 03:19 AM)Vosur Wrote:  
(20-08-2014 02:53 AM)phil.a Wrote:  The distinction is warranted because it's fact there is a distinction, in that that "pain" and "suffering" are different words with subtly different dictionary definitions and therefore different meanings.

I understand that you may be uninterested in exploring the distinction, but if that's true then I will respectfully decline to continue our discussion of this topic because I can't see how it could go anywhere meaningful except from the premise of a clear differentiation of these two concepts.

Phil
I could cite one or two dictionaries whose definitions indicate that these terms are more or less synonymous because they refer to each other, but there are few things more tiresome than arguments about semantics.

I have already acknowledged that your distinction is warranted; what I disagree with is the Buddhist assertion that suffering is always optional, i.e. that it's always possible for pain to exist without suffering. That is the discussion I'm not particularly interested in getting into.

I would like to emphasize that my original question was about physical pain and nothing else. As per your distinction, that would be "pain."

OK, well I think my opinion here is that unless "pain" and "suffering" are clearly differentiated, then they will be necessarily conflated in any discussion of either concept. That sounds like a discussion which has the unwelcome potential to go round in circles!

To take a purely objective perspective on "pain" and other negative emotions, I would suggest that from an objective perspective, they are not of and by themselves a good thing or a bad thing (e.g. they just are, negative feelings like positive feelings are just objective facts of the human condition). I think that, for me, is how "pain" looks when clearly differentiated from "suffering".

"Suffering" is pain that has been personalised. Suffering occurs when pain is interpreted by my mind as "happening to me" and is "bad" or "unacceptable" or "unwelcome". These are psychological relationships with the underlying phenomena, e.g. they are stories told about the underlying phenomena.

Phil
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20-08-2014, 04:06 AM
RE: Refuting "the problem of evil"
(20-08-2014 03:11 AM)phil.a Wrote:  
(20-08-2014 12:45 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  I've literally explained this already in one of the earliest posts. Facepalm

So let me quote myself, from page 3, post 30.

OK thanks for that, yes - I think that's a reasonable definition.

We expect animals to lack compassion so we're not surprised by their lack of compassion in reality.

My claim would be that we tend to project our own capacities on to other humans though, other humans look like us physically so we assume they have equivalent mental capacities, and that's the source of the "intelligent causation" perception of "evil".

Are you familiar with any developmental psychology models?

Here's an overview of Robert Kegan's model regarding how cognitive complexity develops in adults

Here's an overview of psycological development from a slightly different perspective, that of moral development.

Some Integral thinkers have spotted that the specific stages in these different perspectives of adult psychological development resonate with each other, e.g. that Kegan's 3rd order is roughly synonymous with Kohlberg's Level 2. As a general rule of thumb, we can assume a rational thinker is also an ethical human.

However, what's also been spotted is that there can in fact be quite a big mis-match between cognitive development and moral development.

E.g. Joseph Mengele is an example of a human at pre-conventional levels of moral development and post conventional (e.g rational) levels of cognitive development.

So he was rational and scientific, just not very moral.

His lack of moral development is not evidence of presence of "evil", defining evil as "intelligent causation", simply because (against Kohlberg's model) he lacks moral intelligence.

Phil

Did Mengele know that his actions were causing suffering and harm? If not, then it wasn't evil, just ignorant. If so, then it was evil; if he intentionally and knowingly caused harm and suffering to another conscious creature without sufficient justification. It's not evil for a doctor to break an improperly healing fracture to make sure it sets properly; the suffering was done in the best interest of the victim (and almost always with their consent). Actions and intent both help color how we perceive and judge morally.

He may not of thought of himself as evil, people like that rarely do. There are plenty of psychological tools people can use, like demonetization of the other and in-group-out-group think that they can use to distance themselves from their victims. Given the Nazi propaganda and their modus operandi, I imagine it could have been very easy in that environment to makes those justifications. In his mind, he probably saw his Jewish victims as less than human and deserving of whatever they got in repayment for all of their perceived 'past evils' against the German people; and that their suffering at the hands of his experiment was serving the greater good.

It is very rare to find someone who raises their hand and self-identifies as being evil.


Animals lack the capacity (near as we can tell) to make the moral judgement we do.

When a baby hits you, it's not evil, because its lacks moral understanding and intent.

Someone born developmentally challenged who accidentally causes harm isn't evil, if once again they seem to lack the capacity to have known what they did had moral consequences.

On the other hand, a corporate executive that green-lights the production of children's toys knowing that they'll be made with a more dangerous, but cheaper material (like lead paint)? Yeah, that's evil, in the form of neglect.

The Big Tobacco executives that lied to Congress about the links to cigarettes and lung cancer, when they knew full well what their own research had shown for decades? Yeah, that's very evil.

Whereas a lower level tobacco executive, who wasn't privy to the research that Big Tobacco was doing their best to keep buried, who was just tasked to speak to the press and tow the company line? Ignorant, and perhaps lacking in due diligence; but not evil unless he knowingly lied and was aware of the consequences.

As for Mengele, we'd need to know more. Form our perspective, yes his actions were evil; and of course he needed to be stopped. He might argue what his justifications were, but did he consider himself evil? I think that if he truly thought his actions were justified, why run away? Of course the point can be made about Allied bias or being afraid of getting a fair trail at the hands of your former enemies; but plenty of other scientists not involved with human experimentation made the jump and became Allies in the post-war. I also don't mean to minimize this, especially not given how the Untied States has treated Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. But I'm fairly confident that he knew enough about what exactly he was doing to realize it was wrong, but he thought he had sufficient justification so that it wasn't evil. Clearly the rest of us disagree, and his justification was not sufficient for us. So from our perspective, what he did was evil; even if he thought it wasn't. He does appear to have been aware of the consequences of his actions.

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20-08-2014, 04:25 AM
RE: Refuting "the problem of evil"
(20-08-2014 04:04 AM)phil.a Wrote:  
(20-08-2014 03:19 AM)Vosur Wrote:  I could cite one or two dictionaries whose definitions indicate that these terms are more or less synonymous because they refer to each other, but there are few things more tiresome than arguments about semantics.

I have already acknowledged that your distinction is warranted; what I disagree with is the Buddhist assertion that suffering is always optional, i.e. that it's always possible for pain to exist without suffering. That is the discussion I'm not particularly interested in getting into.

I would like to emphasize that my original question was about physical pain and nothing else. As per your distinction, that would be "pain."

OK, well I think my opinion here is that unless "pain" and "suffering" are clearly differentiated, then they will be necessarily conflated in any discussion of either concept. That sounds like a discussion which has the unwelcome potential to go round in circles!

To take a purely objective perspective on "pain" and other negative emotions, I would suggest that from an objective perspective, they are not of and by themselves a good thing or a bad thing (e.g. they just are, negative feelings like positive feelings are just objective facts of the human condition). I think that, for me, is how "pain" looks when clearly differentiated from "suffering".

"Suffering" is pain that has been personalised. Suffering occurs when pain is interpreted by my mind as "happening to me" and is "bad" or "unacceptable" or "unwelcome". These are psychological relationships with the underlying phenomena, e.g. they are stories told about the underlying phenomena.

Phil
I can agree with all of that, though I'm not entirely certain if and to what degree humans create these relationships consciously. I don't think it would be too controversial to claim that at least some of the non-human animals that are capable of experiencing pain are also able to experience suffering (e.g. other primates and social animals). In my view, it's important to keep in mind that the "problem of evil" (and its variations) does not only pertain to humans. Another thing to remember is that the extend of pain I referred to in my earlier posts goes beyond its biological function. To put it another way, unlike the pain you feel when you touch a hot stove, there is nothing you can learn or gain from the pain of, say, cluster headaches (and that's not to mention that this kind of pain is unavoidable).

That being said, now that we have established what we do and don't agree on, what's the next step?

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20-08-2014, 04:47 AM
RE: Refuting "the problem of evil"
EvolutionKills:

Thanks for the considered post! As I understand your argument, in a nutshell you're saying that developmentally, a corporate executive is not a baby so his actions cannot be viewed in the same light as those of a baby.

I agree with that, although did you understand my point above about levels of cognitive development not necessarily indicating levels of moral development?

In my opinion, Mengele showed evidence of being at a pre-conventional level of moral development, e.g. Kohlberg's level 1. Even though (by his medical knowledge) he showed evidence of being at stage 3 or 4 in Kegan's model of cogntive complexity.

A healthy individual in the modern world is expected to go beyond Kohlberg's level 1 by the time they are about 5 years old, so I am saying - when considering his stage of moral development, Mengele was, mentally speaking, somewhat below the age of 5.

I don't know if you have any kids under the age of 5, or perhaps relatives or friends with kids that age?

If so, can you possibly imagine how dangerous and disturbing they would be if they had advanced capacities for rational thinking and could not therefore be reasonably contained by their parents superior thinking skills?

Can you imagine if they had guns?

Here's a clip from the film "Cabaret".

It's a really, really insightful view of "Nazi", not from the outside (where we are used to looking at it from) but from the inside! This perspective isn't often presented in western culture, but it's a really interesting and important perspective.

Watch the clip and see if you can get a taste of it. "Nazi" looks ugly from the outside, but not from the inside. From the inside it occurs as beautiful, powerful, true, and a rightful destiny.

In my opinion, that's where the attention of the nazis actualy was - I would claim the horrors of the holocaust occured as collateral damage, the nazis weren't even looking at the jews they were looking at their own "rightful destiny".






Phil
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20-08-2014, 05:36 AM
RE: Refuting "the problem of evil"
(20-08-2014 04:25 AM)Vosur Wrote:  
(20-08-2014 04:04 AM)phil.a Wrote:  OK, well I think my opinion here is that unless "pain" and "suffering" are clearly differentiated, then they will be necessarily conflated in any discussion of either concept. That sounds like a discussion which has the unwelcome potential to go round in circles!

To take a purely objective perspective on "pain" and other negative emotions, I would suggest that from an objective perspective, they are not of and by themselves a good thing or a bad thing (e.g. they just are, negative feelings like positive feelings are just objective facts of the human condition). I think that, for me, is how "pain" looks when clearly differentiated from "suffering".

"Suffering" is pain that has been personalised. Suffering occurs when pain is interpreted by my mind as "happening to me" and is "bad" or "unacceptable" or "unwelcome". These are psychological relationships with the underlying phenomena, e.g. they are stories told about the underlying phenomena.

Phil
I can agree with all of that, though I'm not entirely certain if and to what degree humans create these relationships consciously.

I agree fully with that, in fact - if someone is suffering then that's evidence they haven't consciously created the relationships (why would anyone choose to suffer?)

My experience of being human is that I find myself located inside a psychology that I myself didn't consciously design. However my experience has also been that if I start simply exploring these relationships as they exist in myself, the process of enquiry and reflection can set me free of their chains. Sometimes quite abruptly and in significant ways. At other times, I might know I'm creating drama in my life but simply find myself unable to see a way out of it, so the suffering just happens anyway. There is still suffering in my life, so I'm not yet in a position to claim that suffering may in fact be entirely transcended. Buddhism suggests it's possible, I will remain skeptical until I have achieved it for myself.

Quote:I don't think it would be too controversial to claim that at least some of the non-human animals that are capable of experiencing pain are also able to experience suffering (e.g. other primates and social animals).

Yes I agree with that - I do think distinctions between human and non-human life are somewhat fuzzy, there are relative differences to our nature but not absolute differences.

Quote:In my view, it's important to keep in mind that the "problem of evil" (and its variations) does not only pertain to humans. Another thing to remember is that the extend of pain I referred to in my earlier posts goes beyond its biological function. To put it another way, unlike the pain you feel when you touch a hot stove, there is nothing you can learn or gain from the pain of, say, cluster headaches (and that's not to mention that this kind of pain is unavoidable).

Yes I accept that - the only way I can see out of it might be to say that life has a responsibility to euthanise itself (as it exists in self and others) when it's rationally clear that it's in a hopeless situation, e.g. when pain has become too prevalent and continuous to allow for a reasonable quality of existence and there's no reasonable expectation of a solution in the future. Obviously there's a moral minefield here, one which we are currently working our way through I feel, e.g. here in England the issue of euthanasia is currently up for discussion.

Quote:That being said, now that we have established what we do and don't agree on, what's the next step?

I'm not sure! Where specifically do you still see disagreement?

Phil
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