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doing good

D

Dr Mantis Toboggan

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hello

so i was wondering what makes a person 'good' or not. so much of the supposed good deeds we do aren't truly altruistic, bible says we should do good and good things will happen to us. that means most acts are committed for your own benefit. the most selfless decisions are kinda selfish in reality. have we subconsciously adopted the idea that we should 'treat others as u want to be treated'? are any acts truly good, and altruistic? dying for a cause perhaps? if we can sacrifice ourselves for a cause or a person, is that the only true altruism?

was wondering about arguments too, they always seem to be about winning, about making oneself appear better and putting another down. that's cause we aren't very good beings. if we believe whole-heartedly that our opinion is the right one, then shouldn't all arguments be not about winning or losing or putting people down or elevating our own positions, but about accepting our own innate biases, our prejudices and how we got to an opinion, and helping others understand how u got to yours?

i was thinking about how we handle conflict, and it is backward. it shouldn't be about making US appear smarter and THEM appear dumb. it should be about the issue. present the issue how u see it and leave ourselves out of it. i dunno, it just seems morality is a bit backwards. discourse too. going back to the first point, of sacrifice being good. going into a debate, letting a few people call u c*** and appear witty and u appearing dumb, but ultimately presenting your view in a calm, coherent way, and allowing others to understand the path u took to reaching that point of view, that sounds like 'good' to me

cause it's all about the ego and winning innit? sacrifice the ego it's not good
 

smat

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I like it when people post on Facebook about how they gave a homeless guy some money or stood up to a bully on a train. I'm like "you are a saint, take my like".
 
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Captain Scumbag

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I think the problem is, we're brought up to think opinions about morality, politics, religion and so forth are essentially rationalistic – i.e. positions we've worked our way to through some kind of rational thought process. So when we argue about them we chuck arguments and counterarguments back and forth, and we proceed on the understanding that the better arguments will win.

But that's probably bollocks. I suspect even the cleverest among us "pick sides" on a fairly instinctive/intuitive level, and all the reasoning we do to support our opinions is merely an exercise in post-hoc justification. A person with a conservative worldview doesn't start with a blank slate (no experience, no biases, no presuppositions) and then reasons their way to a conservative viewpoint. They pick the conservative side because it just seems right on a very intuitive level. All the arguments used to support that position are formed afterwards – perhaps to give it semblance of intellectual credibility and rigour.

I think this is why political, moral and religious debate is so frustrating. Everyone is working backwards. Some people are more aware of it than others, but essentially we're all trying to justify our preconceived opinions rather than, say, work towards the truth in the spirit of honest enquiry. It's why we're all prone to applying ridiculous double standards. It's why people often blithely ignore counterarguments they can't answer. It's why we opt for worse case interpretations when opponents have erred and why we're more generous/understanding to those we see as allies. It's why people resort to straw man arguments and various forms of ad hominem.

Jonathan Haidt wrote a book called The Righteous Mind, which to my knowledge is the best written on this subject. If I were in charge of 1FF, folk would be prohibited from posting in the politics forum until they'd proven they'd read (and understood) it.
 
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JimJams

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I once saw a woman drop a tenner in Heathrow, so I picked it up and gave it to her.


That's how male prostitution works.
 
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smat

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ordered

great, that will go alongside 'the frackers' and 'capital in the 21st century' as complicated books i will never read
 
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Captain Scumbag

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^
It's not complicated at all. One of the best examples of how to make moral and experimental psychology accessible without completely dumbing it down.
 
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Dr Mantis Toboggan

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if i found it an easy read u will have no problem smat
 

smat

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you both underestimate how stupid i am

BUT THANKS. I added it to Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari and Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond on my Amazon order, which I think is a clean sweep of books people on 1FF have recommended.

Fancy that!
 
D

Dr Mantis Toboggan

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guns, germs and steel has been on my wishlist for years i might join u there
 
F

Freakyteeth

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hello

so i was wondering what makes a person 'good' or not. so much of the supposed good deeds we do aren't truly altruistic, bible says we should do good and good things will happen to us. that means most acts are committed for your own benefit. the most selfless decisions are kinda selfish in reality. have we subconsciously adopted the idea that we should 'treat others as u want to be treated'? are any acts truly good, and altruistic? dying for a cause perhaps? if we can sacrifice ourselves for a cause or a person, is that the only true altruism?

was wondering about arguments too, they always seem to be about winning, about making oneself appear better and putting another down. that's cause we aren't very good beings. if we believe whole-heartedly that our opinion is the right one, then shouldn't all arguments be not about winning or losing or putting people down or elevating our own positions, but about accepting our own innate biases, our prejudices and how we got to an opinion, and helping others understand how u got to yours?

i was thinking about how we handle conflict, and it is backward. it shouldn't be about making US appear smarter and THEM appear dumb. it should be about the issue. present the issue how u see it and leave ourselves out of it. i dunno, it just seems morality is a bit backwards. discourse too. going back to the first point, of sacrifice being good. going into a debate, letting a few people call u c*** and appear witty and u appearing dumb, but ultimately presenting your view in a calm, coherent way, and allowing others to understand the path u took to reaching that point of view, that sounds like 'good' to me

cause it's all about the ego and winning innit? sacrifice the ego it's not good

That would be an ecumenical matter.
 

sl1k

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Most things that we do have some degree of influence from the reptilian brain, which is the source of our more naturally inherent traits as human beings (or animal) such as tribalism, alpha male tendencies, survival 'dog eat dog' nature etc. What essentially makes us different to animals is how we utilise intelligence so suppress these traits in our day to day lives in favour of rationality and how well we individually do this obviously varies. Looking at the state of the world though you can't help but feel we're far from were we'd ideally want to be as a people and this is evident throughout general society, politics and the double standards/inconsistencies most people are guilty of when it comes to morality. There are just too many distractions in the world that especially necessitates the use of a primitive part of our brain.

Spirituality is another thing that seperates us from animals but its' popularity is in decline in the modern world. Sad really.
 
A

Alty

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I think the problem is, we're brought up to think opinions about morality, politics, religion and so forth are essentially rationalistic – i.e. positions we've worked our way to through some kind of rational thought process. So when we argue about them we chuck arguments and counterarguments back and forth, and we proceed on the understanding that the better arguments will win.

But that's probably bollocks. I suspect even the cleverest among us "pick sides" on a fairly instinctive/intuitive level, and all the reasoning we do to support our opinions is merely an exercise in post-hoc justification. A person with a conservative worldview doesn't start with a blank slate (no experience, no biases, no presuppositions) and then reasons their way to a conservative viewpoint. They pick the conservative side because it just seems right on a very intuitive level. All the arguments used to support that position are formed afterwards – perhaps to give it semblance of intellectual credibility and rigour.

I think this is why political, moral and religious debate is so frustrating. Everyone is working backwards. Some people are more aware of it than others, but essentially we're all trying to justify our preconceived opinions rather than, say, work towards the truth in the spirit of honest enquiry. It's why we're all prone to applying ridiculous double standards. It's why people often blithely ignore counterarguments they can't answer. It's why we opt for worse case interpretations when opponents have erred and why we're more generous/understanding to those we see as allies. It's why people resort to straw man arguments and various forms of ad hominem.

Jonathan Haidt wrote a book called The Righteous Mind, which to my knowledge is the best written on this subject. If I were in charge of 1FF, folk would be prohibited from posting in the politics forum until they'd proven they'd read (and understood) it.
I think that's probably true of some people in certain situations. Or maybe even all people at some junctures. But people's political, moral and religious leanings can change very significantly on the basis of further rational enquiry and a wider range of experiences. I started university 11 years ago and my views on most things have changed a lot since then. I like to think that's because I opened my mind to ideas and acknowledged other people's experiences.

Remember the story a few years back of the Tory parish councillor who used to be in the IRA?
 
C

Captain Scumbag

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People can, and do, change their minds, but IMO it's more likely that experience rather than rational discourse will effect the change. For example, the progressive-to-conservative transformation that many people undergo as they get older is quite a slow and subtle process. As we get older, we get grumpier and more resistant to change. We suffer various disappointments and become more sceptical about progress. When you have children your strong protective instinct towards them makes you more amenable to the more authoritarian and/or moralistic strands of conservative ideology – censorship of the arts, support for the military and the police, the state having greater powers to fight terrorism, a "hang-em-high" approach to criminal punishment, etc. This is the stuff that matters. There is no Road to Damascus moment listening to Melanie Phillips on Radio 4.

Just to be clear, I'm not arguing this as a biological determinist. Though I think the neurological aspects are relevant (how could they not be?) and hugely interesting, it's not my contention that people are just wired to be progressive or conservative, and therefore all rational argument about politics, morality and religion is a kind hubristic charade in which the participants are wasting their time. My central point is that people, on the whole, don't participate in those arguments in a spirit of open-minded, rational enquiry. People generally don't start or participate in online debate when they want to learn something. If I want to learn more about, say, theosophy, I'm not going to start a thread here. I'll make some kind of independent, studious effort to learn more about it. When someone participates in online debate, they've usually made up their mind. They are committed to a position. Their primary objective is to defend that position and reinforce (principally to themselves) that the worldview they intuitively hold is the correct one. That's what I mean by people working backwards.

You and I have been regulars in the TFF/1FF politics forums for years. Ask yourself: how often have you seen someone change their mind? Obviously some people will have changed their politics over the years, but how often have you seen someone argued into a dramatic volte-face through rational argument alone? Let's be frank: 99.9% of the 'debate' on the politics forum consists of people aggressively (and often witlessly) asserting their preconceived opinions at each other. No progress is made. No one changes their mind. Concessions are rare and usually grudging. Participants get frustrated. Ad hominem usually follows. We all like to think we're pursuing some kind of objective truth, some kind of understanding about why the world is how it is. But we all partcipate looking to assert and defend a preconceived view. And we all get frustrated and pissy when no progress is made. It's silly.
 

JimJams

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It's not. Wanna argue about it?
 

Renegade

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Cheers for the book recommendation CS.
 

Aber gas

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People can, and do, change their minds, but IMO it's more likely that experience rather than rational discourse will effect the change. For example, the progressive-to-conservative transformation that many people undergo as they get older is quite a slow and subtle process. As we get older, we get grumpier and more resistant to change. We suffer various disappointments and become more sceptical about progress. When you have children your strong protective instinct towards them makes you more amenable to the more authoritarian and/or moralistic strands of conservative ideology – censorship of the arts, support for the military and the police, the state having greater powers to fight terrorism, a "hang-em-high" approach to criminal punishment, etc. This is the stuff that matters. There is no Road to Damascus moment listening to Melanie Phillips on Radio 4.

Just to be clear, I'm not arguing this as a biological determinist. Though I think the neurological aspects are relevant (how could they not be?) and hugely interesting, it's not my contention that people are just wired to be progressive or conservative, and therefore all rational argument about politics, morality and religion is a kind hubristic charade in which the participants are wasting their time. My central point is that people, on the whole, don't participate in those arguments in a spirit of open-minded, rational enquiry. People generally don't start or participate in online debate when they want to learn something. If I want to learn more about, say, theosophy, I'm not going to start a thread here. I'll make some kind of independent, studious effort to learn more about it. When someone participates in online debate, they've usually made up their mind. They are committed to a position. Their primary objective is to defend that position and reinforce (principally to themselves) that the worldview they intuitively hold is the correct one. That's what I mean by people working backwards.

You and I have been regulars in the TFF/1FF politics forums for years. Ask yourself: how often have you seen someone change their mind? Obviously some people will have changed their politics over the years, but how often have you seen someone argued into a dramatic volte-face through rational argument alone? Let's be frank: 99.9% of the 'debate' on the politics forum consists of people aggressively (and often witlessly) asserting their preconceived opinions at each other. No progress is made. No one changes their mind. Concessions are rare and usually grudging. Participants get frustrated. Ad hominem usually follows. We all like to think we're pursuing some kind of objective truth, some kind of understanding about why the world is how it is. But we all partcipate looking to assert and defend a preconceived view. And we all get frustrated and pissy when no progress is made. It's silly.
I agree with most of that . There are definitely times when I react to posts out of blind left wing rage. It's more to provocative nonsense though ( it shames me maybe) . I can read posts by and interact with people who have a different political views to mine though. For example I appreciate your posts and Altys even though I'm miles away from you on the political spectrum. I like the politics section because it gives me a chance to try and understand other points of view outside of my normal echo chambers. Hope that made sense.
 

blade1889

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People can, and do, change their minds, but IMO it's more likely that experience rather than rational discourse will effect the change. For example, the progressive-to-conservative transformation that many people undergo as they get older is quite a slow and subtle process. As we get older, we get grumpier and more resistant to change. We suffer various disappointments and become more sceptical about progress. When you have children your strong protective instinct towards them makes you more amenable to the more authoritarian and/or moralistic strands of conservative ideology – censorship of the arts, support for the military and the police, the state having greater powers to fight terrorism, a "hang-em-high" approach to criminal punishment, etc. This is the stuff that matters. There is no Road to Damascus moment listening to Melanie Phillips on Radio 4.

Just to be clear, I'm not arguing this as a biological determinist. Though I think the neurological aspects are relevant (how could they not be?) and hugely interesting, it's not my contention that people are just wired to be progressive or conservative, and therefore all rational argument about politics, morality and religion is a kind hubristic charade in which the participants are wasting their time. My central point is that people, on the whole, don't participate in those arguments in a spirit of open-minded, rational enquiry. People generally don't start or participate in online debate when they want to learn something. If I want to learn more about, say, theosophy, I'm not going to start a thread here. I'll make some kind of independent, studious effort to learn more about it. When someone participates in online debate, they've usually made up their mind. They are committed to a position. Their primary objective is to defend that position and reinforce (principally to themselves) that the worldview they intuitively hold is the correct one. That's what I mean by people working backwards.

You and I have been regulars in the TFF/1FF politics forums for years. Ask yourself: how often have you seen someone change their mind? Obviously some people will have changed their politics over the years, but how often have you seen someone argued into a dramatic volte-face through rational argument alone? Let's be frank: 99.9% of the 'debate' on the politics forum consists of people aggressively (and often witlessly) asserting their preconceived opinions at each other. No progress is made. No one changes their mind. Concessions are rare and usually grudging. Participants get frustrated. Ad hominem usually follows. We all like to think we're pursuing some kind of objective truth, some kind of understanding about why the world is how it is. But we all partcipate looking to assert and defend a preconceived view. And we all get frustrated and pissy when no progress is made. It's silly.

Agree and disagree tbf. Posters on the politics forum tend to be opinionated enough to post so by default will be harder to persuade otherwise. I do know I've changed my views on some things as a result of others arguments though and have seen others change theirs as a result of mine...not often like but it does happen.

All views we have we believe to be objective, absolutely. If we get a new view we think that'll be objective...ain't that just the way we work though? We wouldn't have a certain view if we didn't think it were objective!?

Personally I like the politics forum for two other reasons than just asserting my own biases'...as AberG mentions above its interesting to read how people get their views, even if they aren't persuasive to me and are different to mine. Different to the echo chambers you get on many parts of the internet. And secondly to read views and arguments on things I dont have an opinion on.

Bur maybe that's just my preconceived view that the politics forum isn't a complete hell hole :lol:

As for altruistic behaviour...i dont think anybody can be completely altruistic in any decision. Any decision we make we make for a reason and I don't honestly believe that any behaviour lacks an element of us 'wanting' to do it...be that want from stereotypically selfish reasons or a want for the feeling of doing good (I know I've not explained that very well). But at the same time I do think some people can be more/less stereotypically selfish which can come across as more/less altruistic.
 
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Captain Scumbag

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My waffle in this thread is just an attempt to explain why I think debates about religion, politics and morality are often so frustrating. I personally think everyone, to some extent, is in the grips of a rationalist delusion. The point is not that people are incapable of being open-minded, rational, logical, intellectually honest, etc. It's that we don't use those abilities anywhere near as often as we think, and that when we do use them we don't use them anywhere near as effectively as we think.

It's a general point rather than a TFF/1FF-specific one, and if I've dumped on our Politics forum here it's because it provides an easy point of reference. Though I don't like that forum very much and now rarely post there, I do recognise that it could be considerably worse. You're both right to point out it's not an echo chamber, and if some people enjoy and gain something from its plurality of opinion, that's great. It's never been my contention that rational discourse is a waste of time.
 

blade1889

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My waffle in this thread is just an attempt to explain why I think debates about religion, politics and morality are often so frustrating. I personally think everyone, to some extent, is in the grips of a rationalist delusion. The point is not that people are incapable of being open-minded, rational, logical, intellectually honest, etc. It's that we don't use those abilities anywhere near as often as we think, and that when we do use them we don't use them anywhere near as effectively as we think.

It's a general point rather than a TFF/1FF-specific one, and if I've dumped on our Politics forum here it's because it provides an easy point of reference. Though I don't like that forum very much and now rarely post there, I do recognise that it could be considerably worse. You're both right to point out it's not an echo chamber, and if some people enjoy and gain something from its plurality of opinion, that's great. It's never been my contention that rational discourse is a waste of time.

I totally understand your point and am sure you're right that that's often the case. I was just using the politics forum as a reference back to my lazily worded point that its not always the same. Exception to prove the rule n all that BS
 

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