Immortality

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Would you like to be immortal?

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Re: Immortality

Post  Guest on Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:49 am

I wasn't saying it wasn't intriguing (I didn't mean it as a critic)... but just what you said about Kant sounds frustrating

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Re: Immortality

Post  Andy on Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:55 am

Oh yeah, that part.
You know, one of the things that really is interesting in philosophy is that things don't go obsolete the same way they usually do in science.
Whenever a scientific theory proves to be no longer tenable, it will loose more or less all its authority. Except maybe for the historian of science.

In a philosophical setting - and I would like to use that term because as far as I'm concerned what we usually call science is simply part of it -, ideas tend to have a more lasting nature. They may be forgotten and resurface centuries later, offering interesting concepts to new problems.
If you want to write a groundbreaking were in geomtry, it's probably not a very good idea to choose Euclid as your main compass.
It is, on the other hand, possible to write a valid philosophical treatise using Plato as your guide.

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Re: Immortality

Post  Guest on Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:51 pm

Vera Cruz wrote:My mother is a bit strange, I think, because she believes in God and she also believes that death is the end (and it doesn't worry her). I ask her "why do you have a God then?". She answers that she likes to think there's someone helping us. She doesn't say anything about moral, I think, because she knows we don't need a God for that.

Andy wrote:But after finishing his Kritik der reinen Vernunft, he became aware of the fact that something was missing - one of the conclusions one could draw from it is that men, like all other elements, is entirely determined and as such no need of any ethics. What use would ethics have if how you act in reality is entirely determined?
Enter his second Kritik, in which he will have to study human freedom - that means: ethics.
Kants theory of ethics is original and influential, but comes with its own oddities and difficulties. For one: his rigid system almost forced him to postulate the existence of a God and the immortality of the soul as a final justification of the very existence of ethics.

confused
Looks like I had the answer too easy...


So how can there be ethics in a determined world? (If I'm not entering a too difficult ground)

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Re: Immortality

Post  Andy on Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:07 am

Vera Cruz wrote: confused
Looks like I had the answer too easy...

So how can there be ethics in a determined world? (If I'm not entering a too difficult ground)

I don't think you will find any theory of ethics that doesn't presuppose the existence of at least a limited form of free will.
If you consider humans to be restlessly causally determined by principles, there simply is no room left to define a theory about the principles by which ther actins should be guided. A gun that kills dozens of people can never be said to be morally 'bad', it just does what it was made to do. The moral qualification lies on the person holding the gun in his hands, as we suppose he might just as well have chosen not to kill anyone.

Now, Kant made a very substantial effort to develop an ethical theory that was founded in this notion of human freedom.
You have to understand the notion of freedom correctly here: it's not to negative form that's all too popular today - 'Everbody can do whatever the fuck they want' -, but a positive form of freedom - you are free to choose the right course of action.
The criterium to determin what the right course of action is, is reason itself: there's a very strong unity between freedom - reason and proper moral conduct in Kant. One doesn't realise his or her freedom until one proves to be able to accept (universal) reason as his or her sole guidance in moral matters.

Kant than sets out to develop a more specific description of these moral guidelines and in doing so formulates his famous categorical imperative.
All this is done in a relatively short book called Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten - Groundwork to the metaphysics of morals in English, I believe. Later on he extrapolates on this work in his 2nd volume of critical philosophy, Kritik der praktischen Vernunft as well as in the actual Metaphysik der Sitten. I'm sorry that I'm constantly refering to the German titles, but I am not always familiar with the exact English titles and hope that refering to the original titles will make it easier for people who speak various languages to find the right title in their own native tongue, should they be willing to read any of this.

Anyway, one of the difficulties Kant is facing is that his system is radically rigid. Only these actions which are solely motivated by the understanding of their reasonable character apply for true moral behaviour. Even the leastest trace of other motives - emotions, expectations, desires, etc. - will disqualify a particular course of action. Acting a certain way because you hope this will lead to a better world is not truly moral in Kant, because you seek the justification of your actions in their (hoped for) effects instead of being motivated by them being entirely reasonable. To make things worse: Kant doesn't actually believe humans are really capable of this, due to their feeble will.
Which of course inevitably leads you to ask: what use is there than for ethics anyway? One could even say ethics understood in a Kantian way is itself unreasonable. Which is how it leads Kant to formulate the postulates of practical reason - the existence of God and an immortal soul.

It's odd to notice how Kant's initial attempt to create an entirely non-theistic ethical theory - following the 'Ten commandments' because you believe God gave you those rules is as anti-Kantian as things will get - and yet ends with having to postulate an order of things which is suspiciously reminiscent of classical religious worldviews.
There's a nice story to go with it though: it is said that Kants servant was deeply let down by the Kritik der reinen Vernunft because he was a very devote man and therefor found it hard to accept that his master had seperated reason from God. Some say Kant set out to write his Kritik der praktischen Vernunft to make up for that. Kant is often portrayed as a very boring, non-engaging, staunch man. So I actually appreciate such a hint of human tenderness in the Great Thinker!

Another element that might interesting here is that Kant also had to conclude that Jezus was not divine.
He sees Jezus as a historical example of a person choosing to let his actions be guided by the categorical imperative.
But as the will is the key notion of his entire theory - the source of all trouble to plague man -, it's is critical that we assume Jezus to have had a human and not a divine will. Otherwise he couldn't serve as an example at all: people could just say they would act as ethically as Jezus did if only they possessed such a divine will too.

Hope that's not too messed-up. Embarassed

Andy
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Re: Immortality

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:28 am

I think I need to re-read that confused

Thank you Andy, for explaining me so many things I love you

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