On love and purpose

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On love and purpose

I was talking to a good friend of mine... and before this has happened, but the question "what is love" has come up. And I always reduce MYSELF to "a title we humans like to attribute to a certain set of feelings we get". But for some reason that doesn't seem good enough. What do you think RRS?

 

Also

 

What do you think the "purpose of life" is. I realize there is no perfect answer but I am just opinion seeking.


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Love - 1. a profoundly

Love - 1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.

Christians usually rationalize God and love by saying that real love is doing what's best for other people. Thus, God punishes us because it's what's best for us. The thing is, if you move outside dictionary definitions, then the term is simply up for subjective interpretation. 

My purpose in life is to be happy. Your purpose can be something different.

 

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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Love is just another term

Love is just another term that is hard to define outside of a dictionary. We can quantify love and we can compartmentalize love depending on the object of our affection. However, love as most would define it, is a series of chemical reactions in the brain. New found love (lust) is easily recognizable as a hormonal response to stimuli. Old love (established love) comes about through mutual respect and understanding IMHO.

People give themselves purpose for life. Biologically we can deduce that the purpose of life is too procreate and pass our genetics on to our offspring. I know that sounds cold, but when one doesn't define "purpose of life" I tend to go there. The idea that god somehow gives us purpose in our lives does not make any sense to me. We as human beings have a need to find purpose in everything for some reason. Why can't our purpose for life just be, because that we are here?

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Love= A biological reaction

Love= A biological reaction whose purpose is to ensure to continuation of our genes and the protection of said gene carrying offspring.

Purpose..Personally I don't think there is any purpose to life other than continuing the species.That's all we're here for. I don't know why most people, notably theists, insist on assigning some higher amazing purpose to life. We are just advenced animals.We live, we die.Get over it.

Psalm 14:1 "the fool hath said in his heart there is a God"-From a 1763 misprinted edition of the bible

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I consider "love" to be one

I consider "love" to be one of those concepts that is more or less impossible to define because it is relative and conditional. It's like asking what is good or what is justice.

Love is further complicated by magical woo-woo stuff that is often attached. (e.g. "soul mates" etc).

My short answer is that the romanticized idea of love, though fun, is mostly bullshit.

A place common to all will be maintained by none. A religion common to all is perhaps not much different.


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 Did everyone else get the

 Did everyone else get the techno music in their head after reading "what is love?" Was that just me? Anyway ...

The problem with the word is that it's now so incredibly loaded. Goethe's Young Werther is still the iconic version of love that many see as definitive: a monomaniacal passion for another person. Occasionally, the version of love that's closer to caring for someone's well-being is deemed less important or powerful. That's probably because drama and storytelling have become powerful industries in our culture, and the simple act of caring for someone else can't compete for air time with a dramatic spiral of passionate self-destruction. It's just not as exciting. So culturally speaking, you may be stuck with an industrially reinforced definition of the word whether you'd like an organically accurate one or not.

As for the purpose of life, I thought that one should be obvious: to beget more life. Maybe you're asking what an individual's purpose in their life should be?

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In my opinion there are

In my opinion there are three kinds of love all of which are to help in procreation. The first of them is lust which quite obviously is a physical attraction between two people. This is what makes sex happen which is of course the necessary first step in making babies. The second kind of love is a long term relationship. By making us want to be with the person's whose children we helped create it is guaranteed that there will be at least two adults to take care of the children. This increases the likely hood of survival during the infantile years substantially. The third kind is what I call romantic love. This is either a want for something you cannot have or the process of wooing someone into lust or a long term relationship.

As for the meaning of life I would say that it is not just to personally procreate and pass on your own genes but also to ensure the survival of the group. This explains why we feel the need to care for disabled, ill or simply weaker people. I also believe that people are not only driven to pass on their genes but also their ideas and skills and create some sort of intellectual offspring that can then pass on your ideas after you have died and so on like genes (sorry if this sounds a like memetics).

 

[edit: fixed some spelling errors]


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HisWillness wrote: Did

HisWillness wrote:
Did everyone else get the techno music in their head after reading "what is love?" Was that just me? Anyway ...

Baby don't hurt me.  Don't hurt me, no more.

Love, like most quirks about humans that psychologists and philosophers have been trying for hundreds if not thousands of years to explain, to me becomes so much simpler to understand if you just look as us as nothing more than animals.  Apply observations and ways of analysing things that you would normally use for animals on us too.  Give the false ego about what we are a break for once.

Personally I would say love most likely is a result of the human pack mentality.  Lust which is moreso chemical releases in the brain, endorphins etc subside to to the empathy that holds us together in our pack and can be found to be stronger with certain members of the pack than others.

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According to Robert G

According to Robert G Ingersoll:

Love is the only bow on life's dark cloud.
It is the Morning and the Evening Star.
It shines upon the cradle of the babe,
and sheds its radiance upon the quiet tomb.
It is the mother of Art,
inspirer of poet, patriot, and philosopher.
It is the air and light of every heart, builder of every home,
kindler of every fire on every hearth.
It was the first to dream of immortality.
It fills the world with melody,
for Music is the voice of Love.
Love is the magician, the enchanter,
that changes worthless things to joy,
and makes right royal kings and queens of common clay.
It is the perfume of the wondrous flower -- the heart
and without that sacred passion, that divine swoon,
we are less than beasts;
but with it, earth is heaven
and we are gods.

 

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Ambrose Bierce's "The

Ambrose Bierce's "The Devil's Dictionary" from 1911 is always the first place to look when confronted with one of those words that has most people you ask disappearing up their own rhetorical arses when asked to define them. He however normally got it in one.

 

The entry for "love"?

 

LOVE, n. A temporary insanity curable by marriage or by removal of the patient from the influences under which he incurred the disorder. This disease, like caries and many other ailments, is prevalent only among civilized races living under artificial conditions; barbarous nations breathing pure air and eating simple food enjoy immunity from its ravages. It is sometimes fatal, but more frequently to the physician than to the patient.

 

Does me in any case ... and while we're at it here's the entry for "religion";

 

RELIGION, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.

 

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 As for the purpose part of

 As for the purpose part of the question, read this:

For New Atheists: Is This Really All There Is?

It starts out debunking NDE's and life after death, but the second half is about meaning and purpose.

As for love, there are two distinctly different types of answer to the question, and they're both right.

Scientifically, love is he state of attachment we feel to members of our social group that causes us to desire their companionship, wellbeing, approval, and reciprocation.  We can break it down into various chemicals and talk about the biology behind love, but that's not what most people are after.

Culturally, love really is a many splendored and many faceted thing, and it simply doesn't mean the same to everybody.  In the end, it is what it is to you.  Some people experience deeper attachment than others.  Some people get butterflies in their stomachs after twenty years of marriage while others never feel "fireworks."  

For much of human history, we haven't had the concept of marital love that we do now.  Men and women moved in together to have and raise children.  Even in much of American history, wives were considered helpmates more than soulmates.  When we read of chivalrous love from the Rennaissance, we're not reading about the stuff we have today.  We see the word love and think of our own conception, but it was quite different.

In the end, all we can say is that human brains haven't had long to adapt to post-industrial global societies, and the best we can do is recognize the biology behind love and try to adapt as well as we can to a world that's very different from the one in which we evolved.  Love is a fundamental evolutionary trait, but we just aren't prepared to deal with the vast number of mating, living, and childrearing options available to us.

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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We're on this planet by

We're on this planet by chance, by not LOVE IT?  Deep emotional connections to people and  things are what keep us going. It's a strong bind to someone, something or a place. It's what drives us to keep living and fighting.

I like to simplify it. It's not the result of god or jesus or any supernatural force. I think that idea takes away the beauty of it.

 

*Our world is far more complex than the rigid structure we want to assign to it, and we will probably never fully understand it.*

"Those believers who are sophisticated enough to understand the paradox have found exciting ways to bend logic into pretzel shapes in order to defend the indefensible." - Hamby


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Love is a psychological

Love is a psychological process of attachment that is activated as a sort of emotional program in the brain.  It is hard wired into our nervous systems and it is built on three basic components (according to Helen Fischer - an anthropologist who does functional MRI's on the brain in love).  they are:

 

Lust - sexual response system that is more or less free floating and doesn't need to be associated with any specific person.  It is the basic reproductive urge.

 

Love - the process of intense emotional arousal and obsession with a specific person.  This is characterized by sexual jealousy and often a willingness to die for the other person.  It is also characterized by a tendency to exaggerate the positive qualities of the love object (aka "the illusions of love&quotEye-wink.

 

Attachment - the process of bonding with a specific person in such a way that you are willing to accept their limitations and shortcomings in favor of finding someone new.  This process is also associated with bereavement when the attachment ends - this is a sort of psychological punishment that our brain inflicts on us to prevent us from ending the relationship.  This serves the function of helping the couple stay together to raise children over time.

 

These three brain systems together have evolved in order to help us to reproduce, bond with our sex partner, and stay with them throughout the extended childhood of our species.  They are activated as behavioral programs in response to a verity of behavioral and cultural cues.

 

Pretty cool if you ask me.


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Nordmann wrote:Ambrose

Nordmann wrote:
Ambrose Bierce's "The Devil's Dictionary" from 1911 is always the first place to look when confronted with one of those words that has most people you ask disappearing up their own rhetorical arses when asked to define them. He however normally got it in one.

Thank you for that tip! Never heard of it before. I found this one:

INDIGESTION, n.  A disease which the patient and his friends
frequently mistake for deep religious conviction and concern for the
salvation of mankind.  As the simple Red Man of the western wild put
it, with, it must be confessed, a certain force:  "Plenty well, no
pray; big bellyache, heap God."

 


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Purpose = sex then die

Purpose = sex then die


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When you ask about the

When you ask about the purpose or meaning of life you imply there's some consciousness that means for us to be here and do things in the first place. Without god, the only consciousness that remains to attribute any meaning or purpose to anything is ourselves. So really, just try your best to be happy, and hopefully that includes making other people happy too.

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Chaos

On love I have to say it's merely an emotional response tied to pleasure and comfort responses in our brain. Nonetheless the only thing I love for.

On purpose, I have to agree with anyone who says life has no purpose, or someone who sardonically retorts something simple about human nature. But, I have to go a step further and make it clear how and why I think so: life is the product of chaos. Chaos is merely the compilation of meaningless events clashing in a convoluded pandemonium. However, just because life has no purpose does not mean it cannot be experienced to the greatest of possible lengths.

Ignore conventional morality. Think for yourself. Live well.


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Love is a chemical, and

Love is a chemical, and sometimes a chemical burn.


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Love is a battlefeild.

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Its the drive to keep bonds

Its the drive to keep bonds close within a social species. Our chances of survival reduce when solitary. All feelings, desires and sensations can be explained when we consider our needs for survival.

The purpose of love is clear depending on the relationship(friendship or mate)...

Friendships keep us fed and sheltered while solidifying assistance with young or other necessary tasks to ensure safety.

With our mate, a strong bond will see us through the many years it takes for our offspring to mature. As with many organisms, maturity means breeding. With social animals, it obviously means a  time to fill different social role/status.

 

That to me is a stronger and more meaningful than lame ideals. Love as a force of nature is much stronger than a form of feeble psychology. Our bonds are necessary for survival, otherwise love would not have a dictionary meaning or a place in our biology.
 

 

The purpose of life is to survive.

 

We are BORN with morals and the drive to protect and assist others. Those who are not are the minority(naturally experience can alter these traits either way) ...Good and bad are also easily defined. Good is coexisting with other people and organisms. Bad is the opposite... Basically people are our friends and all other organisms are our neighbours.

We are a social species. Act accordingly...


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Existentialists

Inpsychotive wrote:

The purpose of life is to survive.

Although I agree with your viewpoint about love and your refreshingly logical reasoning, saying that the purpose of life is to survive seems very much to me an incongruity. It is a common existentialist view that life has no meaning, but that fighting death somehow gives life meaning. I think this is bullshit. If life has no meaning then why would you bother trying to find any? This conclusion is really just a rationalization for the fact that people don't tend to desire death, and existentialists might think if life is meaningless then there's not point to living. Which is also bullshit.

I realize there's a difference between "meaning" and "purpose," but in the end it seems to me to be the same rationalization. As I see it, we are all the product of chaos, thus we do not have purpose. We only exist because of the evolutionary logic that things which accomplish survival and reproduction most effectively will do so. However, just because we are the product of chaos and thus do not have purpose this does not mean we should not experience our short, convoluded lives as best as we desire.

In the end, we're going to anyway.

Ignore conventional morality. Think for yourself. Live well.


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Put succinctly, Love is the

Put succinctly, Love is the overwhelming desire to unite with the love object.


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Asking the purpose of life

Asking the purpose of life is somewhat like asking if one's thoughts have been putting on weight. It doesn't make any sense. "Purpose" is, by it's very nature, a subjective and arbitrary term. There is no intrinsic purpose in a rifle to shoot and kill. You can use the butt of the rifle to hammer nails. Someone may have built the rifle with the express purpose of shooting and killing someone, but that's a totally different matter to saying that "killing" is the innate purpose of the rifle. There is no such thing as innate purpose. Even if there were some sort of all-pervading conscious entity controlling the material universe, it wouldn't change that fact. That entity might decide that certain objects have certain purposes, but that is still arbitrary and subjective, and does not give any meaning to the term "intrinsic purpose". That the term is contradictory is inescapable. You, as a biological entity, have no purpose whatsoever outside the designations of various other conscious entities. If you are in the military, a commander might decide that your purpose is to defuse mines. If you are in the corporate sector, your purpose might to be compile reports. If you are a factory worker, your purpose might be to assemble machines. You get the idea. Where do these labels come from? From other people. Are the meaningless? No. But they are not intrinsic. Any attempt to attach the label of "purpose" would be just as arbitrary and extrinsic.  This renders the term "purpose of life" meaningless, since purpose is defined by entities which are conscious and alive and have the capacity to consider the concept. For the concept of purpose to exist at all, conscious life must be present, rendering the term "purpose of life" ridiculous.

And please do not say that the purpose of life is "to procreate". Biological life by definition procreates and possesses the functional capacity to procreate. The former is nonsense. The latter is correct.

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

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deludedgod wrote:And please

deludedgod wrote:
And please do not say that the purpose of life is "to procreate". Biological life by definition procreates and possesses the functional capacity to procreate. The former is nonsense. The latter is correct.
I wish this was said more often and pointed out as clearly.  It's often frustrating to hear arguments against homosexuality that use the former to show that homosexuals are unnatural.  'Well, they don't reproduce.  That's the purpose of life, after all.'  I admit, though, it's funny to hear a fundie use that line of argument when from the other side of their mouth that same person 'attacks' the science of biology.

 

BigUniverse wrote,

"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."


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 Synchronicity!I was just

 Synchronicity!

I was just about to post a rant about a commercial I just saw.  There's a spiffy new version of the IUD being advertised all over TV.  I saw two different ads for it this morning.  During the disclaimers at the end, the lawyer voice said, "Candidates for [name of the device] have had at least one child, have blah, blah, blah, etc, etc..."

I've run into this before.  When I got a vasectomy, I had to call several places before they would allow me past the initial screening.  You see, I am childless, and would like to remain so.  To that end, I got a vasectomy.  Smart, right?  Really logical.  Rational.  Pragmatic.  And also discouraged by pretty much every health professional in the world.  

The same thing goes for this new IUD.  There's no health reason why a woman needs to have had a child before getting an IUD.  It's all ideological.  I'm fucking tired of this cultural myth that people are "supposed" to reproduce.  

And don't get me started on the hypocricy of fundies who don't like the "unnatural" union of gays, and would freak the fuck out at them going to a fertility clinic, but are ok with straight women spending a hundred thousand dollars trying to get themselves knocked up by a test tube.

 

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'I would like to get an

'I would like to get an IUD.'

'Have you had a child?'

'No.  I don't want to have any children.'

'How do you know that?  Have you ever had a child?'

'Wha- No.  I don't want any children.  Look, I might want children in the future.  An IUD is practical and I don't have to worry about taking pills.'

'Are you married?'

'N-'

'Oh, sorry, then.  Look, when you've thought this through further, get married and have a child, then maybe you can get an IUD.  I doubt there's anyone who'd implant the device for you otherwise.'

BigUniverse wrote,

"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."


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That shit should be illegal.

That shit should be illegal. I heard of that happening to women wanting a tubal ligation - they won't do it to women under 30 that don't have kids. Don't they get some people don't want kids (or even can't STAND children? )

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What is the meaning of life:

 

Before answering this question, I would like to start at the beginning.  What is life?  Life is an ongoing series of processes, that give rise to other processes.  So you are a bunch of processes and when you reproduce, you are starting a new bundle of processes.  When you die, the processes that are you stop, and new processes take over (called decomposition). this is a simplistic point, but I am making it to lay a foundation for an argument.

 

We tend to naturally think of ourselves as constant solid things.  This is an illusion.  A trick of psychology.  As Richard Dawkins pointed out, there is not a single molecule in your body now that was there 7 years ago.  You are not a solid thing, you are more of a standing wave.  In fact, even your consciousness cuts in and out and is a very transient thing - You just don't notice when you are unconscious because you have no memory of the events (usually we call this sleeping).  Because our only experience of ourselves is as a conscious person, we naturally assume that our consciousness is the base-state of our existence.  This is why religious people think that your consciousness outlives your body - they can't imagine what the universe would be like without them, because they have never experienced a universe without themselves in it.

 

When you ask the question "what is the meaning of life"  You are operating under a false perspective.  There is a false assumption built into the question.  It goes something like this:

 

"I am a conscious being - that is what it means to be an 'I.'  If 'I' am living then there must be a reason for it, or why should I even get out of bed in the morning?"

 

This is exactly backwards.  The order of development is - life exists as a series of self-perpetuating processes, life gives rise to awareness as a strategy for competitive survival, awareness gives rise to consciousness, consciousness gives rise to a sense of self and agency.  A sense of self and agency gives rise to meaning.

 

So the real question is "what is the life of meaning?"

 

When you turn this question on it's head, you now have a valid question - What is the life of meaning?  It seems to me that there are many ways to build a life that has meaning in it.  What are they?  A very different perspective, no?

 

It seems to me that one of the functions of religion (going back to a different thread topic I was working on), is to provide people with ways to build a life of meaning.  This is an admirable goal, but it is always couched in the backward terms that assume that the meaning comes first.  It does not.  Life comes first, meaning is what we build into it.

 

In just the same way that life is an emergent process of matter and energy, and consciousness is an emergent process of life, meaning is an emergent process of consciousness.  We bring meaning to life, life does not bring meaning to us.


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 Nicely put, Susac.  I

 Nicely put, Susac.  I said something similar in my essay on purpose.  To quote myself:

Quote:
There is no final judgment, but there is constant judgment while we're alive. There is no divine forgiveness of sins, and no wiping clean of the slate. If we screw up our own lives, there is not always a way to fix it. In one sense, we can do whatever we like with our lives, but we are constantly beholden to those around us. When we die, we will no longer exist, and none of it will matter to us. What greater motivation is there for living the best life possible? What other purpose do we need than the realization that we only get one chance, and if we mess it up, there are no mulligans? Life, then, is its own purpose, and we, as individuals, have the chance, but not the obligation, to live happily.

I like the way you flip meaning around so that it comes last -- after life, not before.  I'm going to shamelessly borrow the concept and put it to my own good use. Smiling

 

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I'm honored!  Plagiarism is

I'm honored!  Plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery!


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I was listening to

I was listening to Christopher hitchens in a debate last night (on the RD website), and the reverend he was debating kept asking why be moral if there is no god?  What difference does it make if you kill someone if there is no there is no god and no afterlife?

 

It seems to me that the root issue here is meaning.  What meaning does morality have in an uncaring universe?  Hitchens made his usual reply about how horrible it is to think that human beings will only be good because they fear the  creator, but I think this is both a week argument on his part and a non-sequiter.

 

Human beings are moralizing creatures.  We have psychological and emotional response systems that effect both our behavior and our subjective sense of self.  These systems are evolutionary equipment that serve the function of helping me to live with my fellow human beings.  Does the universe care if I kill my neighbor?  No, but I care.  I care because I have cognitive systems of empathy, and fairness.  I care because I want the people around me to trust me and feel that I am safe.

 

Let's say I do kill my neighbor.  I am risking my own health and safety by doing so.  I am risking these things because I have a support system of other people who don't want to live around a murder, and who will toss me into prison with other murderers.

 

Let's say I get away with it.  I now have to live with being a murderer.  This becomes a part of my psychology.  killing my neighbor has wounded me, because I have psychological systems that cause me psychological and emotional pain for taking another life.  In addition to this, I can see the damage that my act has caused to the people around me - my neighbor's family and friends.  My empathy causes me pain as well.

 

The people around me see the pain I am in.  They pick up the non-verbal cues I am giving off.  I start to give them the creeps, because at some deep level I am communicating my crime to those around me.  This effects my relationships.  My self-esteem is damaged.  Over time I choose other damaged people to hang out with.  My relationships degrade and become less healthy unless I am able to find a way to heal my wounds.  Note that talking about the killing is probably an important part of the healing process, so now I am on the horns of a dilemma, one that causes me more pain.

 

These psychosocial and social processes  are all part of a package deal that comes with killing my neighbor.  Does the universe care if I kill him?  No.  But I do.

 

Consider war.  A soldier is a person who is given the role of killing other people for the benefit of the society.  One of the things we do in war is the society honors it's soldiers.  We all say we honor them for risking their lives.  This is true, but we all know, down inside, that we also honor them for doing the killing.  For making the sacrifice of killing another human being. 

This support and appreciation doesn't remove the wound the soldier suffers from killing other people, but it at least removes the stigma of being a murderer.  We are basically telling the soldier "I know you are a killer, but you killed for us, and we still love and trust you."  This does the soldier the service of at least giving them an emotionally safe place to work on healing their wounds.

War is an act of killing in the context of social support.  We are now in the middle of what many consider to be an unjust and immoral war, but none of us condemn our souldures for killing in this war.  So you can see how important context is in determining the morality of an act.  Conversely, in Vietnam we DID condemn  the soldiers, and we as a nation, have agreed that failing to support our soldiers was an immoral treatment of the people who killed for us.

 

Do the rocks care if we go to war?  No.  But we do.

 

Meaning comes from us.  Morality comes from us.  God comes from us.  

 

We are a complex series of processes embeded in a nested hierarchy.  Quantum mechanics -> Atoms -> Molecules -> Cells ->  People -> Families -> Neighborhoods -> communities -> Nations -> International Coalitions.

 

The rules at each level of the hierarchy is built on top of the rules from the the lower levels, and the rules at any given level operate in the context of the levels above.  An atom makes a molecule depending on the kinds of other atoms it finds itself associated with.  A cell's behavior is determined by it's neighboring cells and the molecules it is bathed in, which are all part of the organism as a whole.  A person's behavior is influenced by his biological capabilities in the context of his social culture, a nation's behavior is determined by it's resources (both economic and human) in the context of the other nations it finds itself with etc.

 

These nesting hierarchies are the context in which human moral systems operate.  If you go "UP' or "Down" too many levels, morality becomes meaningless.  Theists argue that without morality going "all the way down" it's meaningless, but the universe has shown us again and again that basic processes can and do give rise to complex systems that cannot be understood by the rules of the lower order systems.  Inorganic -> Organic -> Consciousness is an example of emergent systems giving rise to capabilities that cannot exist without historicity and emerging complexity.

 

Theists base their morality upon a "top down" model.  They assume that god made us and god is moral therefore if I follow god then I am moral.  This is bullshit on several levels.  First, any honest reading of the bible will tell you that god is NOT moral.  Second, it doesn't follow that just because I am following god that I am moral.  Third, obedience to authority is a lousy standard for morality.

 

Most educated theists are smart enough to know this stuff, although they may be systematically ignoring it.  So what's really going on here?  Why do they object to bottom-up morality, and why do they so often do so with such emotional furor?

 

I want to hazard some guesses:

1)  They are afraid that if they are not getting their morality from god, then they are immoral.  They don't want to lose their reason for not being the bad person that the doctrine original sin tells them that they are.

2)  They don't want to loose the authority they get from using god as their sock-puppet.

3)  They fear that without "objective morality" their lives will have no meaning.

4)  They have built a career and/or sense of self around the idea of serving others and doing god's will, and they realize that it will take a lot of personal work on their identity to reconstruct a functional sense of self without the meaning that this imaginary relationship gives them.

5)  Having bought in to the "top-down" model of the universe, they lack the flexibility of mind to recognize a bottom up understanding of the universe.

 

Just some thoughts.  Please feel free to comment.


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JillSwift wrote:Love is a

JillSwift wrote:

Love is a battlefeild.

WE ARE YOUNG!!!!!!!!!   HEARTACHE TO HEARTACHE, WE STAND!!!!  NO PROMISES, NO DEMANDS!!!!!!!  LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD!!!!!!!!!

look who's gay now, jill...

"I have never felt comfortable around people who talk about their feelings for Jesus, or any other deity for that matter, because they are usually none too bright. . . . Or maybe 'stupid' is a better way of saying it; but I have never seen much point in getting heavy with either stupid people or Jesus freaks, just as long as they don't bother me. In a world as weird and cruel as this one we have made for ourselves, I figure anybody who can find peace and personal happiness without ripping off somebody else deserves to be left alone. They will not inherit the earth, but then neither will I. . . . And I have learned to live, as it were, with the idea that I will never find peace and happiness, either. But as long as I know there's a pretty good chance I can get my hands on either one of them every once in a while, I do the best I can between high spots."
--Hunter S. Thompson


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You.(That song rocks!)

You.

(That song rocks!)


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Thomathy wrote:You.(That

Thomathy wrote:

You.

(That song rocks!)

no kiddin'.  and yes, as i'm sure you guessed, i was screaming out those lyrics as i typed them.  i also love to belt out "warrior" by scandal and "what about love" by heart.  oh shit, here i go again...

WHAT ABOUT LOVE??????  DON'T YOU WANT SOMEONE TO CARE ABOUT YOU????

"I have never felt comfortable around people who talk about their feelings for Jesus, or any other deity for that matter, because they are usually none too bright. . . . Or maybe 'stupid' is a better way of saying it; but I have never seen much point in getting heavy with either stupid people or Jesus freaks, just as long as they don't bother me. In a world as weird and cruel as this one we have made for ourselves, I figure anybody who can find peace and personal happiness without ripping off somebody else deserves to be left alone. They will not inherit the earth, but then neither will I. . . . And I have learned to live, as it were, with the idea that I will never find peace and happiness, either. But as long as I know there's a pretty good chance I can get my hands on either one of them every once in a while, I do the best I can between high spots."
--Hunter S. Thompson


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 Good post, susac.I'd like

 Good post, susac.

I'd like to add a bit of an addendum, though.  Killing is not always a wounding experience, and that is also an evolutionary trait. To quote myself from my ESSAY ON MORALITY :

Hambydammit wrote:
Our ability to recognize pain in others, and our aversion to seeing it, is rooted in our social nature. Remember that our ancestors lived in small tribal groups, and were probably all closely related. They also depended upon each other for their survival. If the group weakened, the chance of each individual to survive lessened. Those of our ancestors who developed a negative response to pain in their kin were more likely to try to help prevent or alleviate this pain. When everyone in the tribe had this tendency, a sort of mutual protection pact resulted, even though it would be millenia before such a thing would ever be written down.

 

Why, then, do we fight wars? Why do soldiers experience excitement, jubilation, and even sexual pleasure when they take the life of an enemy soldier, or worse, an enemy civilian? Again, the answer lies in our genes. To the eyes of natural selection, the tribe is almost like an organism itself. Each member, like an individual cell in a large organism, contributes to the survival of the whole. As we've seen previously, natural selection is driven by several competitive forces – interspecies, intraspecies, parasitic, and environmental. The superorganism, that is, the tribe, is at a state of relative equilibrium, competing within itself for mating, power, and social status, but the ultimate goal is the survival of the tribe. With limited resources in any patch of land, the encroachment of another tribe meant the threat of death by starvation. Those of our ancestors who were instinctively driven to drive off or kill members of other tribes were able to protect their own resources, ensuring survival of the tribe.

Remember that pleasure is nature's way of encouraging a behavior, and pain is its way of discouraging it. Also remember that our brains are the same today as they were in the days when a small grove of fruit trees might be the difference between survival and starvation. Cooperative pacts and international treaties were simply not possible because there were neither the resources, the language, or the advanced abstract thought necessary to conceptualize such things. Like all the other animals who lived in small social groups, the choice was clear. Either drive the competitors away, kill them, or die.

Ancient humans, then, developed what seems to us to be a contradictory nature. They were appalled at pain experienced by their 'fellow man,' and delighted with pain inflicted on 'the enemy.' Once we understand that these feelings are normal, natural, and instinctive, we can begin to look at the question of murder in the same way that we approached the question of sugar intake. We can recognize that in a post-industrial world, our instinctive desires are not necessarily to our advantage. We can look at the real, scientific picture of what the world is, and make decisions about what our laws should be, and what our own actions should be, based on our goals. In other words, we can say, IF we want a society that accomplishes X, then we SHOULD or MUST have Y laws about killing other human beings.

Furthermore, I make a point about modern culture that shouldn't be glossed over:

Hambydammit wrote:
The answer to the question of morality is that there is no single, immutable answer, but there are the realities of nature. Like all social animals, we have individuals who try to further their own goals at the expense of other members of the group. Sometimes they succeed, and other times they fail. Depending on our own perspective, sometimes we approve of deviants, and sometimes we disapprove. We love Dirty Harry for killing the bad guys, and we despise Ted Bundy. This is instinctive, and is based on that apparent contradiction we saw earlier. Our ancestors survived by killing outsiders and protecting insiders. Ted Bundy killed insiders. Dirty Harry killed the enemy. Where things get trickier is when the enemy is not so clear cut. When American soldiers killed civilians in Vietnam, they were killing people who had the same desires, goals and instinctive drives as everyone else. To the Vietnamese families, the Americans were the enemy, and rightly so.

So, we have to deal with the reality that not only is killing not always wrong to humans, it's not always harmful to the killer, either.  I don't think you have stressed enough the fact that soldiers are not just given a free couch in the psychologist's office.  They are given ticker tape parades.  Groups of young men crowd around them to hear stories of killing.  Men join the army because they want to kill.  Killing is part of being human.  It's in our genes.

I recommend that you read a book called "The Lucifer Principle" by Howard Bloom.  One of the main premises is that humans have a falsely dichotomous view of good and evil.  What we often call evil is a force for progress as well.  Like it or not, from a socio-anthropological level, we can't deny that the Roman conquests advanced society, as did the Viking invasions, as did the Crusades.  War drives innovation and technology and it unifies states or countries or kingdoms in ways that simply aren't available in peacetime.  Our moon landings were driven by war, remember.

In short, any discussion of morality is incomplete if it doesn't deal with the reality of evil as part of human nature.  Part of why I think atheists have been so unsuccessful at communicating the true nature of human morality is that we are not honest with theists or ourselves about it.  Theists are afraid of the implications of godless morality, and they are right to be so.  Where they are wrong is in thinking that god-centered morality is any different.  They are afraid of something that really exists so they are framing it with a mythology that makes it easier to explain away.  The real concept is harder to explain, but I think the effort is worth the trouble.

As a side note, I'm glad you think Hitchens' morality argument is weak.  I have always thought so myself, and part of the reason for my extensive writing projects is to try to provide a better one.

 

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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 Susac, check out this new

 Susac, check out this new book page, partially inspired by your thoughts in this thread.

Godless Morality and Fear

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Loved both posts! 

Loved both posts!  Awsome!

 

I have this idea that we have these biologial sub-routines that get activated in response to our interpretation of the situation we find ourselves in.  I am working on this idea that narrative is a fundimental component of both identity formation and of determining which emotional response "module" is getting activated.  Culture can train us into having specific emotional responses to specific narratives.  I'm "thinking out loud" right now, but it seems to be a workable model for explaining some things. 

 

I need to get some work done right now, but I'd like to kick these ideas around some more.


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Susac wrote: Before

Susac wrote:

 

Before answering this question, I would like to start at the beginning.  What is life?  Life is an ongoing series of processes, that give rise to other processes.  So you are a bunch of processes and when you reproduce, you are starting a new bundle of processes.  When you die, the processes that are you stop, and new processes take over (called decomposition). this is a simplistic point, but I am making it to lay a foundation for an argument.

 

We tend to naturally think of ourselves as constant solid things.  This is an illusion.  A trick of psychology.  As Richard Dawkins pointed out, there is not a single molecule in your body now that was there 7 years ago.  You are not a solid thing, you are more of a standing wave.  In fact, even your consciousness cuts in and out and is a very transient thing - You just don't notice when you are unconscious because you have no memory of the events (usually we call this sleeping).  Because our only experience of ourselves is as a conscious person, we naturally assume that our consciousness is the base-state of our existence.  This is why religious people think that your consciousness outlives your body - they can't imagine what the universe would be like without them, because they have never experienced a universe without themselves in it.

 

When you ask the question "what is the meaning of life"  You are operating under a false perspective.  There is a false assumption built into the question.  It goes something like this:

 

"I am a conscious being - that is what it means to be an 'I.'  If 'I' am living then there must be a reason for it, or why should I even get out of bed in the morning?"

 

This is exactly backwards.  The order of development is - life exists as a series of self-perpetuating processes, life gives rise to awareness as a strategy for competitive survival, awareness gives rise to consciousness, consciousness gives rise to a sense of self and agency.  A sense of self and agency gives rise to meaning.

 

So the real question is "what is the life of meaning?"

 

When you turn this question on it's head, you now have a valid question - What is the life of meaning?  It seems to me that there are many ways to build a life that has meaning in it.  What are they?  A very different perspective, no?

 

It seems to me that one of the functions of religion (going back to a different thread topic I was working on), is to provide people with ways to build a life of meaning.  This is an admirable goal, but it is always couched in the backward terms that assume that the meaning comes first.  It does not.  Life comes first, meaning is what we build into it.

 

In just the same way that life is an emergent process of matter and energy, and consciousness is an emergent process of life, meaning is an emergent process of consciousness.  We bring meaning to life, life does not bring meaning to us.

Brilliant post, Susac. I'm definitely going to use that idea that meaning comes after life and so we should be asking what's the life of meaning. Really puts things in perspective for those who simply assume that meaning is primary. Also, it doesn't avoid the question of the meaning of life, because it illustrates in a succinct phrase the way naturalists look at their lives: how can I make my life meaningful?

Also, I really liked your metaphor of the standing wave. That illuminates some other ideas I've had for a while, based on information, stability, and survival. If you imagine that some standing waves are able to adapt to situations to remain stable, then you understand intelligence and survival. If you imagine that some standing waves can induce more-or-less faithful copies of themselves, then you can easily understand evolution of information (i.e both genetic and also other forms such as memetic and algorithmic (genetic algorithms for example)).

By the way, regarding standing waves -- and this is something I've noticed before -- if you want to understand what a New Ager means when they talk about 'energy' and 'vibrations', they usually use these as metaphors for your idea of standing waves, and my analogous idea of information. But the standing wave concept puts it into a clear visual metahpor, that links the two. Next time I talk to a New Ager I'm going to try explaining my ideas that way.

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