# Back to basics — rationality (not rationalism) 101 . . . including moral common sense

It seems necessary — in the teeth of too much obfuscatory rhetoric spread out like a squid escaping behind a cloud of ink — to lay out some basics of reasoning in general and about morality in particular for record, yet again. This time, by clipping, slightly adapting and highlighting an in-thread comment here:

________________________

>> Try (as a first example and slice of the cake with all the key ingredients):

3 + 2 = 5

||| + || = |||||

This is self evident, as one who understands what it asserts (in light of conscious experience of the world) will see it to be true and that it must be true on pain of immediate, patent absurdity.

Similarly, for “error exists” [just try to deny this and see where it gets you!], or “I am conscious” — as rocks have no dreams and those who dream, even if deluded, are conscious.

Notice, these are first truths, one does not have turtles all the way down or turtles in a circle or let’s arbitrarily pick a turtle and call it no 1.

They are not grounded on other claims and chains of arguments, but on insightful rational understanding of the world as we experience it.

Nor is it circular to accept such, so any arbitrary “turtle” will do.

These, we understand and we see — if we are willing — that to deny is patently to be absurd. Which, we are also going to be directly aware of.

Try:

3 + 2 = 4

||| + || = ||||

Take away 4 both sides:

| = __________, i.e, absurd.

When it comes to start-points for reasoning, we have self-evident first principles of right reason.

A good beginning is a bright red ball on a table, A.

This effects a world-partition, W = { A | NOT_A }

Once we understand that distinct identity, it immediately follows that the law of identity, that of non-contradiction and that of the excluded middle obtain. A is itself, LOI. A cannot be simultaneously ~A, LNC. Anything, x in W, will be A, or ~ A but not both or neither.

These are self evident to the point where the attempt to deny and utter or even think such will have to use the same principles. And don’t even bother on trying Q-mech. To get to Q-mech and to assess results in Q-mech, we have to be based on the laws all the way. (If you want more details, cf the Weak argument correctives.)

Then, we look at the weak form principle of sufficient reason: for any A we can ask, why A and seek/hope to find a good answer. Which has as corollary, cause and effect, especially the issue of on/off enabling causal factors — think, Boy Scouts fire triangle.

SETs are important and ground rationality.

Period.

Now, the pivot of debate is moral SETs.

The same principles and context apply, noting that a key feature of normal consciousness is conscience.

Normal to the point that if one asserts that it is essentially delusional in asserting that we are governed by ought, that would put us in a Plato’s Cave absurd world of shadow shows that would bring our general rationality under hyperskeptical doubt.

In short, the simplest reply is, anything that implies general delusion of a major feature of rational consciousness undermines the foundation of rationality and refutes itself. Errors are particular, not global.

And of course we come to: it is SET that it would be wrong to kidnap, torture, rape and murder a child. With corollary, that if such is in progress we are duty-bound to intervene to save the child from the monster.

Just try to directly deny it: no takers, the game is to try to obfuscate, undermine, divert, etc.

All are absurd and speak volumes.

There are moral SETs, we are quite aware of many of them, and we have to reckon with our being under moral government, as testified by the normally functioning conscience — as that we live in a world of light, sights and sounds is testified to by other senses.

The best explanation is that we live under a moral governor.

That is, there is a world-foundational IS that adequately grounds OUGHT.

The only serious candidate, being the inherently good, Creator-God.

And to me, that is the real root issue, as that cuts across major worldview tastes, preferences and assertions; some of them dressed up in lab coats.

So, let’s just cut to the chase scene.>>

________________________

And so, the challenge becomes, to take rationality seriously, including about moral concerns.

Especially in the teeth of the sort of radical relativism and amorality dressed up in the lab coat that we for instance see here in an August 1995 Sci Am article by dean of the New Atheists, Richard Dawkins:

Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This lesson is one of the hardest for humans to learn. We cannot accept that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous: indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose [–> It escapes Dr Dawkins that we may have good reason for refusing this implication of his favoured ideological evolutionary materialism] . . . .

In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference [–> As in open admission of utter amorality that opens the door to nihilism] . . . . DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. [“God’s Utility Function,” Sci. Am. Aug 1995, pp. 80 – 85.]

With that on the table, common sense about morality becomes even more important to bear in mind. END

## 18 Replies to “Back to basics — rationality (not rationalism) 101 . . . including moral common sense”

1. 1
kairosfocus says:

F/N: It seems necessary to revisit first principles of right reason in light of self evident truths, including for morality yet again. So, I headline as above based on no 41 in the ongoing Ubermensch thread. KF

2. 2
Graham2 says:

self evident truths, including for morality … and which morality ? why mine of course.

3. 3
Mung says:

Graham2 believes that it’s self-evidently true that morality is not objective and shared but that it’s personal and subjective. I’m sure he has an objective reason for this belief. Or not.

4. 4
Graham2 says:

I find it rather frightening when anyone (especially the religious) claim to possess moral truths that are ‘self evident’.

5. 5
kairosfocus says:

G2:

I think you need to think again, very soberly.

As in, given the post above, your direct words actually imply that you find this following to be a “frightening” — as in repulsive, to be feared, a threat — truth claim . . . one, BTW, that has been repeatedly used as a key example for months now (so you can hardly plead innocent ignorance):

And of course we come to: it is SET that it would be wrong to kidnap, torture, rape and murder a child. With corollary, that if such is in progress we are duty-bound to intervene to save the child from the monster.

I could easily shout gotcha, you have proved yourself a moral monster.

But if that were likely the truth, I would find myself in pain, wondering what could have gone so wrong with you. Maybe you don’t know, but the above is a slightly modified description of a certain Nero Caesar, in light of Suetonius’ description. (Except Nero was worse.)

Something is indeed very wrong, but I don’t think it is you advocating helping out in murderous pedophilia. I think you are sufficiently normal that if you were to come upon such a scene you would cry out in disgust and try to rescue the child, Which is a NORMAL reaction to such. (One that speaks volumes about what has been stamped deep in our hearts and consciences.)

I think, instead, you have just revealed your inner propagandised hostility verging on hate and irrational fear of those who in your mind commit the intellectual crime of believing in an inherently good God who calls us to love neighbour as self, with the Good Samaritan reaching out to help a victim across lines of hostility as the role model.

Only, I doubt you realise even that much.

No, what is quite obvious is that you most likely did not seriously read or ponder before firing off half-cocked in a fit of propagandistic stereotyping and scapegoating rage and ill advised spleen venting.

You need to get yourself over to a mirror and look yourself in the eye and ask yourself hat has so filled you with bigoted false stereotypes and blinding rage.

Then please think again, far more soberly.

Good evening,

KF

PS: The rest of us need to think very soberly about the level of bigotry, stereotyping, scapegoating and hatred being stoked up and directed against especially Christians who take the scriptures and Christian ethics seriously. Frankly, it reminds me uneasily of the attitudes being cultivated in Germany in the 1920’s and 30’s based on the propaganda being spread at that time.

6. 6
kairosfocus says:

giving trouble — test

7. 7
kairosfocus says:

F/N: Lets proceed to a historically important case of those “frightening” self-evident moral truths that are giving G2 the vapours.

EXHB A: The US Declaration of Independence, 1776:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, [cf Rom 1:18 – 21, 2:14 – 15], that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That [–> still, held self-evident!] to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government [–> right of judicious reformation and innovation, if necessary backed by the right of just revolution in the face of unyielding tyranny when remonstrance fails and threats or actual violence manifest in “a long train of abuses and usurpations” indicates an intent of unlimited despotism . . . ], laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security . . . .

Where does this come from?

Locke (especially), as he drew from the wells of Christian thought and scripture. For instance, we see how in his second essay on civil gov’t, in Ch 2 sect 5, he cites “the judicious [anglican canon Richard] Hooker” from his 1594+ Ecclesiastical Polity:

. . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80]

How horrible!

Those wicked, right wing Christofascists and would-be theocrats!

Enemies of liberty!

(Or, is that, in reality, principled objectors to license and libertinism?)

But, where did Hooker get such strange, dangerous notions of equality, value of the person, duty to love and cherish neighbour and the like from?

Let’s try, first, Jesus and his apostles in, shudder, the New Testament:

Matt 7:12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets [the peak point of the Sermon on the Mount, the central core of Christian ethics]

Matt 22:34 But when [–> during Passion Week, after several attempts to trap Jesus with public, barbed questions] the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Acts 17: 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,[c] 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for

“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;[d]

as even some of your own poets have said,

“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’[e]

Rom 2:14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them . . .

Rom 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world . . . . 2:8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

1 Jn 4:20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

[ . . . ]

That is a good cross section of core Christian theistic ethics, and it pivots on the hebraic Old Testament teachings that God made us in his image as morally governed conscience guided creatures responsible to love Creator [who gives us moral instruction “for our own good”] and our fellow man. Indeed, let us hear that Bronze age prophet and founder of the Commonwealth of Israel on what we have come to know as the golden rule . . . taking due note of how he uses concrete cases to build up to it:

Leviticus 19:9 “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. 10 And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.

11 “You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another. 12 You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.

13 “You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning. 14 You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.

15 “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. 16 You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life[a] of your neighbor: I am the Lord.

17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

This is the core, the controlling pivot — as Jesus noted in the Sermon on the Mount. That is, nothing else is to be understood save by this light.

So, we should have the sense to take due note, with respect and reject red herrings led away to strawman caricatured stereotypes set up to be soaked in ad hominems and set alight to cloud, confuse, obfuscate, poison and polarise.

But also, let us see how this brings out what is in the cited case above in the OP:

And of course we come to: it is SET that it would be wrong to kidnap, torture, rape and murder a child. With corollary, that if such is in progress we are duty-bound to intervene to save the child from the monster.

That little child is of one blood, one life, with us, s/he is our moral equal of effectively infinite worth [remember Jesus compared the value of one’s soul to the wealth of the world]. We have a duty to love that one of equal nature and worth as we love and cherish our own selves and want nay properly expect to be respected as being made in God’s image. So, to despoil, defile and destroy such is a horrible thing — and we are assured that whether we do it with thoughts and words or with horribly demonic deeds like those of a Nero does not make a fundamental difference. And, that child therefore has unalienable rights that we reject or abuse only on pain of not only absurdity but outright blasphemy. Those rights being proper expectations of being treated in accord with her or his nature as made in God’s image.

But all of this is theistic and susoect in the hostile, propaganda-tained minds we are dealing with.

Let us go back to Hooker and the core principles.

We know and know that we know, the fundamental, blatant equality of human beings. We know and know that we know, that others bear duties of care to us, of benevolent fairness — just look at how we quarrel. That is we know ourselves to be of great value and worth, due appropriate treatment. Simple reciprocity as an immediate corollary requires the same in response to others who are of like nature.

Which, as Hooker notes, Aristotle well understood and stated in his Nicomachean ethics:

my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ]

G2 (or another of like ilk) needs to explain to us just what is so “frightening” — why — about such self-evident moral first principles.

We are waiting . . .

KF

8. 8
Mung says:

Graham2:

I find it rather frightening when anyone (especially the religious) claim to possess moral truths that are ‘self evident’.

But you have no reason for feeling frightened. You’re being irrational.

If you had a reason, then you could argue that no one should claim to possess moral truths that are ‘self-evident,’ especially the religious because

Heck, maybe you even have a self-evident reason. But I doubt it.

9. 9
Mung says:

kf:

“…in light of Suetonius’ description…”

You’re really asking Graham2 to stretch now! Suetonius, Tacitus, what will you come up with next!?

10. 10
Mung says:

kairosfocus:

The rest of us need to think very soberly about the level of bigotry, stereotyping, scapegoating and hatred being stoked up and directed against especially Christians who take the scriptures and Christian ethics seriously. Frankly, it reminds me uneasily of the attitudes being cultivated in Germany in the 1920?s and 30?s based on the propaganda being spread at that time.

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

True then. True now. True forever.

“the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church”

– Tertullian

11. 11
Mung says:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal …

But surely these are not moral truths, penned by religious men.

I can only wonder what Graham2’s “Declaration of Dependence” would look like.

p.s. thanks for the reminder of the basis of our great nation upon self-evident truths.

12. 12
kairosfocus says:

Mung:

Thanks for thoughts, it is sadly interesting how G2 has decided to snipe and run.

I think a full generation of cynical censorship of history driven by anti-Christian bigotry has seriously dumbed down the level of thinking — especially on morality — of your great nation. (This has been presented and sold to the public in the name of separation of church and state translated into a phobia about our Creator and Risen Saviour — never mind 500+ eyewitnesses, millions transformed through personal encounter . . . a whole dimension of experienced reality being hyperskeptically pretended away — and our Eternal Just Lord and Dread Judge.)

Suetonius is unfortunately sadly apt — including to things now being pushed as “equality.” Lives of the Twelve Caesars, on Nero (here in context) . . . in a context of murders of adoptive brother, mother [he was probably complicit in the murder of her husband, the Caesar he thereby succeeded], wives and more:

Book Six: XXVII His Increasing Wickedness

Gradually, as the strength of his vices increased, he no longer hid them, or laughed them off, but dropped all disguise, and indulged freely in greater depths of wickedness [–> an inadvertent testimony to the restraining, governing roles of conscience and shame, both of which are manifestations of our conscious interior life even as we live in community].

His revels lasted from noon to midnight. If it were winter he restored himself by a warm bath, or in summer plunged into water cooled with snow.

Occasionally he would drain the lake in the Campus Martius, and hold a public banquet on its bed, or in the Circus, waited on by harlots and dancing-girls from all over the City. And whenever he floated down the Tiber to Ostia, or sailed over the Gulf of Baiae, temporary eating and drinking houses appeared at intervals along the banks and shores, with married women playing the role of barmaids, peddling their wares, and urging him on, from every side, to land.

He extracted promises of banquets from his friends too; one spending forty thousand gold pieces on a dinner with an Eastern theme; another consuming an even vaster sum on a party themed with roses.

Book Six: XXVIII His Sexual Debauchery

Nero not only abused freeborn boys, and seduced married women, but also forced the Vestal Virgin Rubria. He virtually married the freedwoman Acte, after bribing some ex-consuls to perjure themselves and swear she was of royal birth.

He tried to turn the boy Sporus into a woman by castration, wed him in the usual manner, including bridal veil and dowry, took him off to the Palace attended by a vast crowd, and proceeded to treat him as his wife [–> this is after he probably kicked his pregnant wife and killed her by miscarriage, Sporus closely resembled the wife]. That led to a joke still going the rounds, to the effect that the world would have been a better place if Nero’s father Domitius had married that sort of wife.

Nero took Sporus, decked out in an Empress’s regalia, to all the Greek assizes and markets in his litter, and later through the Sigillaria quarter at Rome, kissing him fondly now and then.

He harboured a notorious passion for his own mother, but was prevented from consummating it by the actions of her enemies who feared the proud and headstrong woman would acquire too great an influence. His desire was more apparent after he found a new courtesan who was the very image of Agrippina [–> his mother’s name], for his harem. Some say his incestuous relations with his mother were proven before then, by the stains on his clothing whenever he had accompanied her in her litter.

Book Six: XXIX His Erotic Practices

He debased himself sexually to the extent that, after exploiting every aspect of his body, he invented an erotic game whereby he was loosed from a cage dressed in a wild animal’s pelt, attacked the private parts of men and women bound to stakes [–> If from 64 on and/or 66 on, probably including Christians blamed for the fire in Rome and Jewish captives from the uprising], and when excited enough was ‘dispatched’ by his freedman Doryphorus. He even became Doryphorus’s bride, as Sporus was his, and on the wedding night imitated the moans and tears of a virgin being deflowered [–> in obvious mockery of the virtue of chastity . . . and plainly with the intent [by making loud imitative cries and noises] that this mockery and debauchery would be heard and reported].

I have been told, more than once, of his unshakeable belief that no man was physically pure and chaste [–> notice the inadvertent testimony to the law inscribed on conscience], but that most concealed their vices and veiled them cunningly. He therefore pardoned every other fault in those who confessed to their perversions . . .

As you can see, this is directly parallel to the self-evident moral truth being cited above and not only gives historical context for both Romans and Revelations, but it tells us about where the systematic undermining of moral fibre in a culture ends. In this case, in the office of life-long dictator . . . though as there was an uprising in the end, that was curtailed to 54 – 68 AD, Nero dying at “his” own hand at 31 (actually he found he could not bring himself to stab himself and had to order someone to do it for him).

And so sadly sick is our day that what would have been unmentionable or only discreetly hinted at now has to be cited in full.

Nero is the absurdity, on steroids.

Let us see if the objectors to self evident moral truths guiding conscience will realise the self-referential infinite regress of delusions implicit in ruling the sense of being subject to moral governance sensed thereby, a delusion. (In short, once a major aspect of mind linked to our conscious mindedness is viewed as generally delusional, it spreads without limit.)

But then, we don’t have to argue that ourselves, let us simply cite Provine in his well known 1998 U Tenn Darwin Day keynote:

Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . . The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . .

Provine cannot have thought through the implications. The rebuke by our own WJM to such self referentially absurd thought is apt:

If you do not [acknowledge] the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not [admit] the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If you do not [recognise] libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not [accept] morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place.

KF

13. 13
Alan Fox says:

I find it rather frightening when anyone (especially the religious) claim to possess moral truths that are ‘self evident’.

It becomes a worry when those possessed of such a(possibly religious, but not exclusively)zeal and certainty that they feel entitled to impose their “truths” on everyone else.

14. 14
kairosfocus says:

AF:

Kindly tell us how it is an IMPOSITION (presumably by force) and DELUSIONAL (given your scare quotes) to assert that certain core truths of moral character are self-evident, shown by the absurdities patent in their denial in statement or — as with Nero — practice. Multiplied by the underlying premise that once one genuinely understands what is asserted in such a truth in light of our common experience of the world as conscious, minded enconscienced creatures, we will see that they are true without need for resort to an infinite regress or circle of proofs. (That is, such truths are start points for common good sense and more formal reasoning.)

In particular, kindly explain to us how it is a manifestation of nefarious theocratic tyrannical intent, to highlight:

And of course we come to: it is SET that it would be wrong to kidnap, torture, rape and murder a child. With corollary, that if such is in progress we are duty-bound to intervene to save the child from the monster.

Then, similarly, kindly explain to us how the following historically significant case in point led on to ever increasing tyranny and the rise of some sinister new Magisterium that imposed a new inquisition and tyranny:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, [cf Rom 1:18 – 21, 2:14 – 15], that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That [–> still, held self-evident!] to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government [–> right of judicious reformation and innovation, if necessary backed by the right of just revolution in the face of unyielding tyranny when remonstrance fails and threats or actual violence manifest in “a long train of abuses and usurpations” indicates an intent of unlimited despotism . . . ], laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security . . .

When you have done so, then explain how the following history of ideas antecedent from Canon Richard Hooker’s Ecclesiastical Polity cited by Locke in Ch 2 sect 5 of his second essay on civil Government as a pivotal insight, grounds a theocratic tyranny:

my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ]

(FYI, the Pope of the day openly praised this work.)

As of now, it looks to me that we are seeing here, a phobia, Theophobia, fed by a one-sided litany of the sins of Christendom, and driven by amorality dressed up in a lab coat.

AF, if you and your ilk have a case, kindly make it on the merits. (I do not mean slanders such as your longstanding false and invidious association with nazism.)

Otherwise, this is looking like irrational fear, rage and hostility leading to unwarranted smearing, stereotyping and scapegoating of those who commit what is in your eyes the intellectual crime of seriously believing in the reality of the inherently good Creator-God, Just Lord and Dread Judge.

KF

15. 15
Alan Fox says:

I have Aristotle’s Ethics in my hand, (J. A. K. Thomson’s translation). Book Eight ison Philia friendship, love, fellow feeling. It would appear that is something KF finds rather difficult to understand when it extended to those with whom we seriously disagree.

[AF: That projection is rather two-faced, coming from a man who has been serially associated with slander by unwarranted invidious association with nazism, targetting both me and this site as a whole. In the above, you have insinuated, falsely and in the teeth of direct historical evidence, that those who “hold . . . truths to be self-evident” in a theistic context are menacing threats to be viewed with fear. It is therefore in order for me to suggest that you take a look in a mirror before hitting the send key next time around. KF]

“Live and let live” is a very simple rule that easily extends to a good ethic for a culture to adopt. All are equally protected from the oppression of other individuals. Private life and thought are sacrosanct until they impinge on the rights of others. From this i contend you can develop a very fair and equitable plan for social living.

Nothing you have written makes me suspect you comprehend what I am saying.

16. 16
kairosfocus says:

AF:

Sadly, predictably, unfortunately, you have simply gone on to further ad hominems.

Why do you so predictably insist on such?

FYI, I am not the one implying tyrannical fanaticism on the part of those who merely believe that certain moral truths are self-evident, with particular cases in point.

FYFI, you are.

That is an extreme thing to imply, and there is a duty on your part to adequately and fairly warrant it — or else to withdraw, apologise and refrain in future.

FYSYFI, the specific yardstick case — which you have so studiously avoided in haste to cast aspersions — is:

And of course we come to: it is SET that it would be wrong to kidnap, torture, rape and murder a child. With corollary, that if such is in progress we are duty-bound to intervene to save the child from the monster.

This is the asserted self evident moral truth that you insinuate by snide remarks, is a mark of the sort of fanaticism that sets up tyrannical councils and kangaroo courts. You simply refused to touch the second example — the US DOI, 1776, that cuts clean across that caricature.

That is a strawman tactic on your part.

One I can for cause say is laced with vicious implied ad hominems and is being set alight to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere of discussion.

I have, therefore, very reasonably required of you that you justify such extreme insinuations, or reveal yourself to be a part of a wave of what may properly be described as Theophobia. An irrational, toxic fear.

Further to all this, this is not a day of live and let live — with the manifest threat within our civilisation [cf. current e.g. here] coming from those of your ilk. If you doubt me, kindly read the just linked. and I can give more on this, much more.

Going yet further, you speak so blithely about “rights,” as though we can take such as an in common.

But, given the acknowledged amoral import of evolutionary materialism and the moans of the ghosts of 55 million unborn children in just the USA (and shockingly more elsewhere), we cannot.

Those ghosts remind us, this is most certainly not, live and let live.

Let me remind you of the case I have cited in the OP, from the dean of the so-called New Atheists, Dr Dawkins, writing in Sci Am Aug 1995:

Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This lesson is one of the hardest for humans to learn. We cannot accept that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous: indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose [–> It escapes Dr Dawkins that we may have good reason for refusing this implication of his favoured ideological evolutionary materialism] . . . .

In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference [–> As in open admission of utter amorality that opens the door to nihilism] . . . . DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. [“God’s Utility Function,” Sci. Am. Aug 1995, pp. 80 – 85.]

What is a right, whence come such, and why do we have an obligation of respect?

In short, a right — as the US founders summarised, is a binding moral obligation owed to the individual reflective of his moral worth and equality regardless of his access to might or not to act in his defence.

That is, it a moral claim.

It is an OUGHT.

As such, it cries out for a world-foundational IS capable of bearing that weight.

Absent which, it is easily shown — cf. Dr Dawkins — that the door lies open to the nihilist’s dictum and practice, might and manipulation make ‘right.’

So, neat little rhetorical talking points that slip in the language of rights and tolerance without properly founding such, make no impression on me. Worse, when such are presented in the direct context of seeking to undermine the concept of foundational and even self evident moral truths.

And so also, proper tolerance, mutual respect across disagreement, has proper limits. As the duty of rescue in that example of a moral SET shows.

Now, essentially all of this, you full well know or should know.

Indeed, you full well know or should know that I have argued and stood up for such, in fact at points at risk of life, limb and career.

You should be deeply ashamed of your snidely dissmissive words and insinuations.

Now, back on the subject in the main, you have a challenge of grounding of the objectivity of morals.

Where OUGHT by definition is binding or it is nothing, nothing more than preferences backed up by power.

With Nero as case no 1 on where that can end up — as in lessons from history that we neglect at our peril.

So, now, kindly, go back to the primary case above and explain to us why such is not self evidently true, and why believing that such is SET is grounds for reasonable fear.

I freely say, you have no cogent case on the merits — or you and your ilk would long since have made it.

If you do have such a case, notwithstanding, simply do us all the favour of proving me wrong by laying it out.

Otherwise, it seems rather, that — sadly — you have become an enabler and spreader of an unfortunately widespread vicious Theophobic smear that is now poisoning our civilisation.

KF

17. 17

I find it rather frightening when anyone (especially the religious) claim to possess moral truths that are ‘self evident’.

I find it rather frightening when anyone claims that it is not self-evidently immoral for anyone to torture infants for personal pleasure.

18. 18
kairosfocus says:

WJM:

That is a serious point, and one that needs reflecting on.

In addition, I think the issue is that this matter is pivotal. It is fairly clear from Dawkins, Provine and others that evolutionary materialism is in the end amoral, and relies on the verdict and prestige of ideologised a priori materialist science to prop that up.

But, perhaps the most directly felt worldviews issues are ethical ones. And the testimony of conscience is clear: we are under moral obligation, under moral government.

So they have to undermine that, to sustain their view.

The solution proffered is that the sense of obligation is purely subjective in the end. That is, it is a delusion — a socially useful fiction, at best a way we feel a message about survival.

But that just does not fit.

And, it points to the issue that if the human conscious intellectual faculty is so delusional on a major aspect of our existence, the whole life of conscious mindedness is put under a self referential shadow.

Which sounds a lot like the same issue on the reliability of reasoning and knowing on materialist premises.

As in, we see here central experiences of reality through which we access the world and can come to reason and in parts know and understand. These do not fit well — if at all — with the dominant evolutionary materialism. A challenge of sheer factual adequacy and coherence implying a serious breakdown of explanatory adequacy. To the point where a serious person could very reasonably reject evolutionary materialism on these alone.

But, to the ideologues for which this system and/or its fellow travellers are a religion substitute, a pivot for worldviews and socio-cultural as well as policy agendas, that will not do.

So, given common attitudes on that side, too often red herring diversions and the oh so familiar attack attack attack set up and burn an ad hominem laced strawman to poison, cloud and polarise the atmosphere mentality come out.

Here, quite plainly, how dare you impose your frightening theocratic agenda tyrannical self evident moral ‘truths’ on us.

But if the truths above and similar ones are self evident they are not imposed, save by the import of what is being said in light of our common conscious experience, and the absurd worldview, logical and practical consequences of trying to deny the truths.

Which, you have so aptly highlighted.

The silence following speaks volumes.

KF