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Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Plotinus, Feb 13, 2007.

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  1. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    mott1:
    Thanks for this.
     
  2. Duke of Marlbrough

    Duke of Marlbrough The Quiet Moderator Retired Moderator

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  3. Mott1

    Mott1 Chieftain

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    Point taken, however I think that "moral standards," in the definition I have provided, leaves no room for ambiguity. Hans concept of Global Ethics functions on the principle of the Golden Rule, meaning that a set of principles, ideals and values (moral standards) are all adjudicated by this axiom. Although I agree that Hans is very explicit on the conditional differences that exist between the religions such as interpretation, the application of diverse philosophies and ethical systems, essentially he seems convinced that the origins of the great religions all share the same inherent absolute (Golden Rule) that determines morality. He is basically saying that all the great religions are different in form, but in substance they are the same. If Hans is not maintaining this apriorism then I don't think he would have drafted the concept of Global Ethics in the first place, logically it would have no chance in succeeding. I think his paradigm theory is entirely dependant on it.
    It seems we are both in accordance and misunderstanding eachother at the same time, if thats possible. Perhaps the misunderstanding lies in your indroduction of secondary principles, ideals and values (secondary moral standards?). Regardless I think your evaluation of Hans lecture is quite accurate here, I got the same impression with his ambigious approach on the usage of "ethical standards." To me, it seemed as if he was directing his presentation to an audience not familiar with the ethic of reciprocity and its application. He was tiptoeing around certain polemics and skirting important issues that rendered his presentation obtuse. Instead of assertiveness he showed caution and relied on subtlety which demonstrates a lack of confidance in his project.

    Agreed.

    I think the Golden Rule is named as such because it is precieved to be an unerring principle. Two terms that are characteristically bound to the Golden Rule are equality and fairness which in their own right, can also be precieved as self-evident. But one could argue that these two terms are definitively bound to morality which is of course a relative term. Morality is the quality of being that is in accordance with the standards of right or good conduct. But these standards vary from culture to culture and religion to religion which is the point of my initial question to you. Now from my understanding, Hans Kung infers the ethic of reciprocity as the axiom which determines morality, morality being the subjective interpretation of this ethic, on which the concept of Global Ethics functions.

    I had no intention of being harsh. If I possessed a fraction of the eloquent and hermeneutic writing skills you do I would have doubt used them, alas I do not possess such talent so I must rely on my crude and tactless capabilities. So in spite of my inadequacy, I prefer candor at the expense of sensibilities.;)
    At any rate, I think here we are in disagreement because you are employing the Golden Rule as if this principle has other versions. The principle of the Golden Rule ceases to be the Golden Rule when it is no longer applied universally, in essence the principle would violate itself if employed as such. Again Hans Kungs concept of Global Ethics functions on the Golden Rule, the ethic of reciprocity is the fundamental principle which legitimizes the commonality of the great religions. That the great religions are partners in principle proves the universalism of the ethic of reciprocity. If the principle that is suppose to prove their partnershipship does not apply universally then Hans point no longer stands, on the contrary his concept of Global Ethics fails miserabley.

    How can you univeralise a principle that by its very nature is not universal? a principle is firm, absolute and unchangable. If the basic principle itself mandates tribalism or parochialism which is the antithesis of universalism, how is it possible to extract a universal principle from a parochial one?
     
  4. Mott1

    Mott1 Chieftain

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    Sorry, I did not neglect your prior post intentionally, I wasn't paying close attention. I must have by passed your post assuming that it was part of the recent playful banter. Anyway I think I answered your question in my previous post.
     
  5. ironduck

    ironduck Chieftain

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    I can see how it makes sense to appreciate the concept of the golden rule in non-universal human confines. Think of it this way: Do you apply the golden rule to include orangutans? If not, why not? They are sentient beings. Similarly, people in the past have seen other ethnicities as 'sub-human' and not applied the golden rule to them, even though they would to people of their own 'kind'. Along this line easily follows only applying it to people of one's tribe/religion.

    It does somewhat invalidate the beauty of the concept the more narrowly it's applied, but even those who argue the strongest in favour of the golden rule tend to apply it only to one or a select few species, not truly universally.
     
  6. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    We have trouble believing that the other apes (as a species) would reciprocate the Golden Rule.

    Mott1: I was geniunely thanking you. I didn't realise that the Islamic golden rule was so weak. Now I have to determine whether to disabuse Muslims of the notion that it applies to everyone or not.
     
  7. ironduck

    ironduck Chieftain

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    So? Do you expect a severely mentally ******** human to reciprocate the golden rule? Or a small child?
     
  8. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Of course a speech is always going to be like that, as opposed to a written piece where he would be more precise and give more detail. Although I'm not sure why subtlety shows a lack of confidence; I'd have thought that subtlety is always to be preferred to simplicity!

    I don't really see why that should be the case. On the contrary, any ethical principle can be applied with varying scope. You could say, for example, that "Do not kill" is an ethical principle which can vary in scope: you could apply it to all living things, as Jainists do, or restrict it to human beings, as most people do, or restrict it further to only some human beings, as countries with capital punishment do. The same thing with the "Golden Rule". If we state that as "Do to others as you would have them do to you" then the scope of "others" could be anything you like. There's nothing in that formulation that demands that it has to be universal, so there's nothing contradictory about defining it in a restricted way. Now we might think that the rule is better if applied universally, or at least to all human beings. But as ironduck points out, it becomes controversial when you consider applying it to other species too. I'm sure that Jesus didn't mean to tell his disciples to do to orang utans as they would have done to themselves - or to dogs - or to gnats. Indeed, Jesus' record on animal rights wasn't great, at least as the Gospels portray him (making all those pigs leap many miles through the air into the lake, for example), suggesting that his version of the "Golden Rule" did not apply to all living things. And I should think that most people's version of the rule would be equally restricted. So if there's nothing inherently contradictory about restricting it to some degree, there's nothing inherently contradictory about restricting it to a greater degree too. We might think that a less moral attitude, or something, but it's not more contradictory.

    Easily! The reason is the same as I gave above: the principle itself does not state its scope. The version of the rule that Küng quoted from the Hadith did not specify that it applied only to other believers. You only get that limited application by reading it in the light of the Koran, as you showed. So there's nothing in the nature of the principle that makes it parochial, only the wider ethical context in which it is placed. There's absolutely nothing stopping you taking it out of that context and universalising it.

    Besides, even if the hadith had explicitly limited its scope to other believers, why would this prevent anyone from saying, "Well, this is a nice principle, but it's too parochial, so let's make it universal in scope"? You can change principles as much as you want. You say that they're firm and unchangeable, but I don't see why that should be. Not, at least, if you're like Küng and you think that the various moral traditions provide, as it were, the raw materials for the construction of a synthesising "Global Ethic". If you were some kind of religious conservative who thought that you shouldn't change anything in your tradition then perhaps you couldn't tinker with the principles, but obviously Küng isn't.

    Judging from this speech, Küng thinks that we can distinguish between the good moral principles in a religious tradition and the unfortunate parochialism which partially obscures them; and he wants to universalise the former and banish the latter. Surely the hadith's formulation of the "Golden Rule" on the one hand, and the Koran's distinction between the rights of believers and those of the infidel on the other, are a prime example of such a case. Küng would say that we should universalise the former and try to move beyond the latter. And what's wrong with that? It seems a pretty good programme to me. Perhaps he's over-optimistic about the possibilities of everyone agreeing on what should be universalised and what should be discarded, but that's a problem of practicality rather than of ideal.

    As ironduck implied, the "Golden Rule" contains no caveat stating that you should only do as you would be done by when dealing with people who also follow the "Golden Rule". Or rather, perhaps you could formulate such a version, but I think most people would regard it as fairly defective, and I've never heard of such a version. Why should the fact that a being does not or cannot reciprocate the "Golden Rule" invalidate them from enjoying having it applied to them? Jesus said that we should love our enemies, didn't he?

    The problem with the "Golden Rule", though, is that it's fairly obviously defective as stated. Would you want a masochist to live by this rule, for example? I think it needs a lot of qualifications to be workable as a viable moral principle.
     
  9. ironduck

    ironduck Chieftain

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    I think this is only really a problem if you play the devil's advocate. The spirit of the rule seems to be easy for others to understand.

    Do to others as you would have them do to you -> do not do anything to others that would violate them.

    As long as it is understood that people have different needs, the rule works. A masochist can understand that other people may not be masochists, and by appreciating that their needs differ he follows the golden rule.
     
  10. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    That's why I specified 'species'.
    I'm pretty sure that once reciprocal kindness was deemed possible, it would be casual to slate in the chimps.

    Keep in mind that I use the variant on the Golden Rule that judges someone else's viability (as a victim) based on whether I could become that person (in basic terms).

    So, brain damage could reduce me to the intellect of a chimp and so I'm quite happy to treat all chimps the way I want to be treated (considering I could become like them through a bad accident). However, if I was reduced to the intellect of a fetus, I would be essentially gone and thus I will not treat a fetus the way I want to be treated (or, I treat the fetus the way I'd want to be treated if I was rendered to a 'fetus like' state)
     
  11. ironduck

    ironduck Chieftain

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    I'm not really sure where you're going with this.. several intelligent non-human animals can easily be observed to show reciprocal kindness (orangutans for instance), yet most humans do not extrapolate that to them as a species with the result of applying the golden rule - would you?

    I don't really understand why it's important to make the species definition. If a computer can be shown to be highly sentient, emotional, and reciprocating kindness, then should it not be treated with such in return?

    Are you saying that you will extend the golden rule to individual members of other species/life forms on a per case basis once they have fulfilled certain criteria, but only to humans on a general scale?
     
  12. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    My problem is that I'm mixing my specifics and generalities.

    I personally include much more than humans when I apply the Golden Rule. However, in general, people don't include chimps. In response, I believe that most people aren't aware that chimps can reciprocate kindness, and thus don't deem chimps worthy (disregarding them as a species out of ignorance). They include children and the handicapped in their application of the Golden Rule because they already know that the human species qualifies.
     
  13. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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    I have to dispute that. Every country, regardless of whether it has capital punishment, follows the rule that killing is wrong under most circumstances but suspends it in a few. For instance, I don't know of any country that doesn't authorize its police to kill under certain conditions, or that has no military.
     
  14. ironduck

    ironduck Chieftain

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    The police here is only allowed to kill in order to protect lives (their own or others). That does not suspend the golden rule in my view.

    Capital punishment has nothing to do with protecting lives.
     
  15. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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    Its proponents argue that it does. Let's not turn this into a capital punishment debate, but there are people who believe in both the golden rule for all humans and capital punishment. I mean, if I committed any crime, I wouldn't want to be punished even by being sent to jail, but tough cookies.
     
  16. ironduck

    ironduck Chieftain

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    Really? If I for some reason should go completely bazonkers and threaten the life of some innocent person for no justifiable reason I think it would be right of the police to kill me if they were left with no other choice, and certainly to pacify me.
     
  17. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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    And I agree. I mean, now, in my right mind, I can say that I should be punished. But very few people, having once committed a crime, feel that it is right that they be punished. This is true of all forms, not just capital punishment. I mean, "though shalt not lock a person up in a small room against their will" is rarely explicitly stated but generally understood - except when it may be justified.

    Again, I don't want to debate capital punishment, just to say that it doesn't violate the golden rule any more than any other form of punishment.
     
  18. ironduck

    ironduck Chieftain

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    It does if one deems it an unnecessary violation of another person. I deem it unnecessary.
     
  19. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    I don't think so. I don't see how "do to others as you would have them do to you" means the same thing as "do not do anything to others that would violate them". On the contrary, the latter is a completely different principle. Now you may wish to qualify the first principle by the second, but they are obviously not the same. If you only had the first principle, then someone who enjoyed being violated would be obliged to break the second.

    The fact that people have different needs or desires, and that one should respect that, is precisely the reason why the "Golden Rule" doesn't work or at the very least should be modified. We don't even need to think of masochism to show that. For example, when the Dominicans founded one of their first houses in Bologna, a wealthy local donated property to them. When Dominic got there, he tore up the deeds. The rich man believed he was helping the order by giving them property, the sort of thing he liked to have done to himself; Dominic, however, believed that if the order started owning property it would ultimately harm them. There's a case where "do as you would be done by" resulted in precisely the wrong action.


    What a peculiar variant of the "Golden Rule"! In fact I don't think this is really a variant of that rule at all - it's a completely different principle that you're tagging onto it. Personally I can't see the slightest justification for the claim that one is morally obliged only to entities that you could become. I can't become a little girl but that doesn't remove my moral obligations to little girls.

    Well, that's true. I was just giving a clearer example. But there are plenty of people who would say that all killing of human beings is wrong, including all war.

    Anyway, we're not really meant to be debating ethics here...
     
  20. Mott1

    Mott1 Chieftain

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    Plotinus:
    It seems we are approaching this particular argument from separate platforms. Also It appears you have neglected to address the central point of my argument in your previous post. Let me once again explain my position for clarity, this time I will be more elucidative Allah willing.

    The concept of Global Ethics functions on the Golden Rule, accordingly Global Ethics depends entirely on this principle. Global Ethics asserts that the partnership of the great religions is evinced by the shared principle of the Golden Rule. We must concede then, that the ethic of reciprocity must be universal in order for Global Ethics to hold true. The concept of Global Ethics ultimately relies on this single principle, that conjoins the great religions, to apply universally. Hence the term "Global." If anyone of the great religions maintains a similar ethic (different version of the Golden Rule) that is void of universalism, then logically, the said religion must be omitted from the Global Ethic equation or else the concept is in error. In layman's terms: the concept of Global Ethics just won't work without first acknowledging the Golden Rule as a universal ethic. The six great religions must acknowledge, in practice and in principle, the *same* Golden Rule observed by the concept of Global Ethics. I am convinced that Hans Kung understands this premise, so either he truly believes that the six great religions all share this universal ethic that governs morality or he is simply trying to convince/mislead his audience to accept this belief.

    You said:
    Here you are describing moral imperatives such as "Do not kill" or "Do not steal" as individual ethical principles which can vary in scope. I agree, moral imperatives (which you describe as ethical principles) can in fact vary in scope, however the moral imperatives are governed by an axiom which in itself cannot vary in scope, it must be absolute. So the moral imperatives (relative) which vary in scope cannot be compared to an axiom (absolute) which does not. An absolute governs the relative moral imperatives.

    You then say:
    Suppose we both agree that the Golden Rule can also vary in scope (different versions), and that it is relative. We must then concede that this presupposition proves Hans Kung's concept of Global Ethics fallible. Hans is employing the Golden Rule as the axiom (absolute) which governs morality and it is the universal ethic which all six religions employ. So if the moral systems of the six religions are governed by the ethic of reciprocity then the moral imperatives must be uniform throughout the religions as well. "Do not kill," "Do not steal," "Do not lie," etc. are imperatives that must resonate throughout the religions, the moral precepts must be universal and extend to all of humanity. All of them must exhibit universalitic ethics, or group-membership-neutral spiritual goals and practices. The variables you describe, such as the Jainists understanding of the "Do not kill" imperative applying to all living things or the ambiguity of the Golden Rule with regards to animals, are the conditional differences which Hans refers to. The "restrictions" of the Golden Rule are not a product of the principle but a result of the conditional differences imposed by the religions, i.e. diverse ethical teachings and philosophies. Essentially you maintain the premise that the Golden Rule is relative. It is open to interpretation and is defined by the individual religious ethical teachings, whereas Hans maintains that the Golden Rule is absolute and all six religions conform to it.
    I don't believe it is easy as you think! Yes, you stated that moral imperatives as well as the Golden Rule is relative and subject to interpretation, but as I've demonstrated, according to the concept of Global Ethics, the Golden Rule as an axiom can not vary in scope. Hence the "version" of the Golden Rule quoted in the hadith does not coincide with the "version" of the Golden Rule that is observed by Global Ethics. One "version" is universal while the other is not. I certainly admire your determination to prove the extraction of universal principles from parochial ones, but it is simply not possible unless your intention is to transform the religion itself which basically equates to subverting it. It may resemble its former doctrine but it will not be the same. Somehow I highly doubt this is what Hans has in mind unless he has a death wish in the form of jihad. Again, either Hans truly believes Islam contains THE Golden Rule, or hes attempting to convince the Islamic populas into believing: "Hey! your doctrine also contains the Golden Rule! Now follow it."

    You must agree that if the above is actually what Hans believes, he has got to be very very naive. Admirable but naive nonetheless. If this is his intention then he should present it boldly and without any apprehensions. However in all honesty, the fact that he avoided the polemics instead of driving right into the heart of the issues speaks volumes about his confidance in the concept of Global Ethics.
    Nothing! but your argument here is simply based on an appeal to emotion. If we were to discuss the success rate of this mission in the realm of fairies and dragons where rationality and logic have no place, then I would say the probabilties are high. However realistically, nothing short of subverting Islam will make this mission possible.
    Your right, subtelty was a very poor choice in words (a result of my mediocre writing skills no doubt). I think 'evasiveness' or 'sophistry' were the words I was looking for.
     
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