Author Topic: Moral Nihilism  (Read 453 times)

Hapu

Re: Moral Nihilism
« Reply #15 on: September 09, 2019, 07:52:51 pm »
I've read those before, and I find them not less confusing than I did then.
I remember quite clearly when I shifted from stage 1 to stage 2 - I think I was about 5 years old at that time. But I don't remember having ever been on level 2 or level 3. With the definitions it's a bit vague but if I go by that example here, stage 2 is the only one that makes sense to me: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinz_dilemma

Not surprising, going by what you've written about yourself on these boards.

I can kinda understand some of the arguments on stage 3, 5 and 6, but I don't find them fully convincing.
Whatever that says about my psychological development ;)

Kohlberg's levels imply that moral reasoning is a function of socialization. Level 3 has to do with striving to fit in by following society's rules. Level 4 has to do with seeing society's rules as objective moral truths. Level 5 has to do with seeing society's rules as normative but also negotiable. Level 6 has to do with seeing society's rules as arbitrary and seeking elsewhere for rules that aren't arbitrary.

I did level 3 and level 4 before I hit my teens. I did level 5 in my teen-age years but I did it by trying to reconcile society's rules with reason. I failed at that. I then stumbled into level 6 and failed at that too. Yet I couldn't go back to level 4. I had questioned too much and answered too little. So for a long time I just floundered about in level 3 but in an unsatisfying way that Sartre would call bad faith.

And then I came to the realization that I could make up my own rules and choose to follow them for no other reason but the simple fact that they were mine. I became my own lawgiver and my own judgment seat by the power vested in me by all the forces of life and love and hate.

 
 
Not charity nor timidity but INDIFFERENCE.
Through INDIFFERENCE, strength.
Through strength, power.
Through power, victory.
Through victory I break my chains.
INDIFFERENCE sets me free.

Frater Sisyphus

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Re: Moral Nihilism
« Reply #16 on: September 10, 2019, 03:45:20 am »
Are you a moral nihilist?  If so, how does this influence your spirituality?

I'm both an anti-nihilist and a nihilist. It is something that I am stuck infinitely deliberating. The fact remains though, when it comes to morality, that objective morality can only come from the Absolute (call it "God" or "Dharma", I really don't care about your terminology).
I tend to not be a moral nihilist inasmuch as a person that realizes that the world post-20th century has indeed become this, even if it is not self-aware enough to know.

I tend to be more of an ontological nihilist, in the sense of misinterpreting Buddhism. I'm more likely to say that "nothing at all exists or has any reality" than to say that morality doesn't exist. This is may appear to be a paradox but it's not.

I generally tend to see Nihilism as a path towards attaining gnosis (when actually traversed as a path) rather than an end position. The thing is that Nihilism itself in it's various manifestations, always tends to be rather a toolkit for realizing that everything has meaning and nothing is random, to the Jungians here, in a manner of understanding that synchronicity is not merely the things you notice.

Also, when it comes to things like anthropology and even psychology, I think there is the fallacious tendency to equate trends with a kind of universal or objective confirmation, which is wrong. Through anthropology and psychology, we can only confirm commonalities between groups of people at observable points in time, but there is nothing in either that set in stone that the ways people have tendencies to act are actually moral.
Without accepting some form of Absolute, morality is inevitably only a set of conveniences. When it comes to views of morality within Dharmic, Abrahamic etc traditions, it's clear that the role of morality itself is beyond the simple customs we ascribe to it and that their inward meanings really justify their outward discipline.
In recent centuries though, we've definitely come to water down our understanding of the role of morality, ethics and related customs within both traditions.

Outside of that, within philosophical movements like Existentialism and Absurdism, it is clear that the issue of morality and meaning is definitely a struggle for humans to understand as a thing in itself. Because if there is any truth in morality, then it's function is not self-serving etc.


And as I've said, I swing both ways.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2019, 04:39:49 am by Frater Sisyphus »
"It is a lie, this folly against self."

Liu

Re: Moral Nihilism
« Reply #17 on: September 10, 2019, 04:40:49 am »
And then I came to the realization that I could make up my own rules and choose to follow them for no other reason but the simple fact that they were mine. I became my own lawgiver and my own judgment seat by the power vested in me by all the forces of life and love and hate.
Close enough to my own approach (except that I went there straight from stage 2). Just, I wouldn't call this (nor stage 2) a form of morality as it doesn't make any claims of objective right or wrong.
Also, I would consider that a form of stage 2, or how does it fundamentally differ from it?
Quote
Level 3 has to do with striving to fit in by following society's rules.
If you phrase it like this I also follow stage 3 principles now and then - but based on stage 2 reasoning.

The fact remains though, when it comes to morality, that objective morality can only come from the Absolute (call it "God" or "Dharma", I really don't care about your terminology).
I tend to not be a moral nihilist inasmuch as a person that realizes that the world post-20th century has indeed become this, even if it is not self-aware enough to know.
Could you elaborate on this? I don't understand what you're referring to.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2019, 05:09:32 am by Liu »

Hapu

Re: Moral Nihilism
« Reply #18 on: September 10, 2019, 09:34:47 pm »
And then I came to the realization that I could make up my own rules and choose to follow them for no other reason but the simple fact that they were mine. I became my own lawgiver and my own judgment seat by the power vested in me by all the forces of life and love and hate.
Close enough to my own approach (except that I went there straight from stage 2). Just, I wouldn't call this (nor stage 2) a form of morality as it doesn't make any claims of objective right or wrong.
Also, I would consider that a form of stage 2, or how does it fundamentally differ from it?

I define morality as any system of rules that I voluntarily either do or don't follow. Even stage 1 fulfills that definition, since instead of following the rules I could break them and accept the punishment.

I realize my definition would include following the rules of some game like baseball or poker. I fully intend that.

Stage 2 is following the rules to reap a reward. My self-given and self-judged morality has to do with following my own rules because they're mine. It's self-actualization in the moral domain. 
Not charity nor timidity but INDIFFERENCE.
Through INDIFFERENCE, strength.
Through strength, power.
Through power, victory.
Through victory I break my chains.
INDIFFERENCE sets me free.

Liu

Re: Moral Nihilism
« Reply #19 on: September 11, 2019, 07:34:35 pm »
I define morality as any system of rules that I voluntarily either do or don't follow. Even stage 1 fulfills that definition, since instead of following the rules I could break them and accept the punishment.

I realize my definition would include following the rules of some game like baseball or poker. I fully intend that.

Stage 2 is following the rules to reap a reward.
That's the underlying reason but it doesn't feel like a rule to me, it's just how decision making works.
If I invent specific rules (like not doing something during a certain time of the day) in order to guide my behavior into directions more beneficial for myself, then those are built on stage 2 logic but are rules set on top as strategies - and they can also be malleable if unexpected situations come up. I don't call that morality, though. For me, morality would be believing that something is objectively right or wrong from everyone's perspective.

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My self-given and self-judged morality has to do with following my own rules because they're mine. It's self-actualization in the moral domain.
But you wouldn't make a rule for yourself that you don't think is good for yourself. Even if you make a rule that would harm you in some way you would make it because it's good in some other way, even if just by making you feel good about yourself.

Hapu

Re: Moral Nihilism
« Reply #20 on: September 11, 2019, 11:06:07 pm »
That's the underlying reason but it doesn't feel like a rule to me, it's just how decision making works.
If I invent specific rules (like not doing something during a certain time of the day) in order to guide my behavior into directions more beneficial for myself...

More on this below, but let me say here that "directions more beneficial for myself" are not inherent to the rules I've made for myself.

For me, morality would be believing that something is objectively right or wrong from everyone's perspective.

Why? Why is objectivity required and why is consensus required? I say neither is required nor even desirable. I repudiate objective reality as mindless, which it is, by definition. I repudiate consensus reality as anti-idiosyncratic, which it is, by definition. I submit myself morally to nothing but idiosyncratic mind.

But you wouldn't make a rule for yourself that you don't think is good for yourself.

I would make rules that are indifferent to the outcome to myself. I answer to a higher authority than pragmatic consequence. I answer to the principle of self-actualization, which is the highest authority I know.

Now of course I may wimp out and behave immorally. But that doesn't negate the validity of the rules. It just means I'm a wimp.

Even if you make a rule that would harm you in some way you would make it because it's good in some other way, even if just by making you feel good about yourself.

This is where we bring in Maslow, though I don't subscribe to the whole of his theory. I subscribe to this much: self-actualization is humanity's highest value. We can't do better. I also subscribe to the distinction between self-esteem and self-actualization and to the idea that the former opens the door to the latter. First I esteem myself, then I actualize the self that I esteem.

Where I break with Maslow is his idea that I must feel comfortable, safe, and loved before I can self-actualize. I call bullshit on that. The poet, starving, freezing, and abandoned, can curse death with a sonnet.
 
 




Not charity nor timidity but INDIFFERENCE.
Through INDIFFERENCE, strength.
Through strength, power.
Through power, victory.
Through victory I break my chains.
INDIFFERENCE sets me free.

Liu

Re: Moral Nihilism
« Reply #21 on: September 12, 2019, 05:06:42 am »
More on this below, but let me say here that "directions more beneficial for myself" are not inherent to the rules I've made for myself.
I don't get why it wouldn't be inherent.
The very fact that you establish those rules means that it's in line with your will at that point in time, and following one's will feels good.

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Why? Why is objectivity required and why is consensus required? I say neither is required nor even desirable. I repudiate objective reality as mindless, which it is, by definition. I repudiate consensus reality as anti-idiosyncratic, which it is, by definition. I submit myself morally to nothing but idiosyncratic mind.
Which in my books makes you amoral.
But perhaps I just wanna call moral those forms of morality that I don't understand.



Quote
I would make rules that are indifferent to the outcome to myself. I answer to a higher authority than pragmatic consequence. I answer to the principle of self-actualization, which is the highest authority I know.

Now of course I may wimp out and behave immorally. But that doesn't negate the validity of the rules. It just means I'm a wimp.
In other words, you are making those rules because doing so is in line with your values, which makes you feel good about yourself.

Quote
Where I break with Maslow is his idea that I must feel comfortable, safe, and loved before I can self-actualize. I call bullshit on that. The poet, starving, freezing, and abandoned, can curse death with a sonnet.
I agree, and that poet would still act by stage 2 reasoning because they would consider that behavior most in line with their goals among the options they have available.
Unless they do so because of some ideal they believe in that they deem universally true - the underlying motivation would be stage 2 still whereas the reasoning might be some different stage.

Hapu

Re: Moral Nihilism
« Reply #22 on: September 12, 2019, 11:37:15 am »
More on this below, but let me say here that "directions more beneficial for myself" are not inherent to the rules I've made for myself.
I don't get why it wouldn't be inherent.
The very fact that you establish those rules means that it's in line with your will at that point in time, and following one's will feels good.

My will is not indivisible and uniform. I have divergent threads of will that conflict with one another. This forces me to pick one thread over another. I suppose there's a positive feeling associated with the selected thread but there's also a negative feeling associated with the rejected thread.

If I wanted to pretend there was such a thing as objective moral truth, I could then develop a thread of will that pursued the fulfillment of some allegedly objective moral truth. This thread would be one of many competing for my ultimate volition. If I select for ultimate volition the thread that's tied to some allegedly objective moral truth, I suppose there will be a positive feeling associated with that selection, but there will also be a negative feeling associated with any competing thread that I rejected.

Let's say I pretend "You shall be forthright" is an objective moral truth. A situation arises where not being forthright would be easy and being forthright would be hard. Let's say my ultimate volition is to be forthright. I suppose I'll get a positive feeling from being forthright but I'll also get a negative feeling that arises from whatever factor made being forthright hard. Maybe I'll be embarrassed due to exposing some element of myself to someone I preferred to remain opaque to. Embarrassment is a negative feeling.

The same exact scenario would play out if I held "You shall be forthright" to be a self-chosen and self-judged moral truth. I would still, if I chose to be forthright, experience (I suppose) a positive feeling from being forthright, but also a negative feeling from being embarrassed.
 
Following a moral code more often feels bad rather than good when all feelings are accounted for and the arithmetic of pluses and minuses is tabulated. Many people throughout the ages have followed their consciences and cursed the gods, their lives, and their very selves with vehement fury. Being moral sucks from a feelings perspective.

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Why? Why is objectivity required and why is consensus required? I say neither is required nor even desirable. I repudiate objective reality as mindless, which it is, by definition. I repudiate consensus reality as anti-idiosyncratic, which it is, by definition. I submit myself morally to nothing but idiosyncratic mind.

Which in my books makes you amoral.

Taking objective reality as one's moral arbiter is an available path - IF objective moral truth can be identified and successfully defended against skeptics, which has never happened and never will. Objective moral truth should be self-evident as soon as it is thoroughly described and clearly explained. Never, not once, has self-evidence been the outcome of any philosopher proposing an allegedly objective moral truth. Always, without exception, either immediately or eventually, there have been skeptics, and these skeptics, once their voices are raised, are never silenced. It's time we give up and just accept as axiomatic that objective moral truth is impossible.

Taking, on the other hand, consensus reality as one's moral arbiter is likewise an available path - IF we're willing to submit ourselves to the consensus of people we may not know (which is most of them) or may not respect (which is many of them). Does it make sense for such as we, who probably don't concern ourselves with any consensus where attire is concerned, or diet, or pastimes, or music, or metaphysics, or occult practices - does it make sense for such as we to concern ourselves with consensus where morality is concerned?
 
But perhaps I just wanna call moral those forms of morality that I don't understand.

Interesting.

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Where I break with Maslow is his idea that I must feel comfortable, safe, and loved before I can self-actualize. I call bullshit on that. The poet, starving, freezing, and abandoned, can curse death with a sonnet.

]I agree, and that poet would still act by stage 2 reasoning because they would consider that behavior most in line with their goals among the options they have available.

I think you broaden stage 2 well beyond what it was meant to encompass. At every stage there are goals. Stage 3, stage 4, stage 5, stage 6, there are always goals that one aspires to. Whenever we behave morally, we are doing so because we have a goal associated with acting morally. Without some sort of goal, we would never move at all. We would stand or sit paralyzed forever. Goals are why we move, whether morally, immorally, or amorally.

Unless they do so because of some ideal they believe in that they deem universally true - the underlying motivation would be stage 2 still whereas the reasoning might be some different stage.

I think you're saying that nothing is moral unless the impetus comes from outside oneself. Why would that be? In any case, there is no such thing as an impetus outside oneself. All impetus is internal. External phenomena occur, and we either respond or we don't, and our response is either this or that or some other thing. Deity appearing before me and issuing me a command would be an external phenomenon. It would be up to me whether to respond or not, and, if I choose to respond, what form that response will take, all driven by internal impetus.
 
« Last Edit: September 12, 2019, 11:40:04 am by Hapu »
Not charity nor timidity but INDIFFERENCE.
Through INDIFFERENCE, strength.
Through strength, power.
Through power, victory.
Through victory I break my chains.
INDIFFERENCE sets me free.

Liu

Re: Moral Nihilism
« Reply #23 on: September 12, 2019, 05:40:53 pm »
My will is not indivisible and uniform. I have divergent threads of will that conflict with one another. This forces me to pick one thread over another. I suppose there's a positive feeling associated with the selected thread but there's also a negative feeling associated with the rejected thread.

If I wanted to pretend there was such a thing as objective moral truth, I could then develop a thread of will that pursued the fulfillment of some allegedly objective moral truth. This thread would be one of many competing for my ultimate volition. If I select for ultimate volition the thread that's tied to some allegedly objective moral truth, I suppose there will be a positive feeling associated with that selection, but there will also be a negative feeling associated with any competing thread that I rejected.

Let's say I pretend "You shall be forthright" is an objective moral truth. A situation arises where not being forthright would be easy and being forthright would be hard. Let's say my ultimate volition is to be forthright. I suppose I'll get a positive feeling from being forthright but I'll also get a negative feeling that arises from whatever factor made being forthright hard. Maybe I'll be embarrassed due to exposing some element of myself to someone I preferred to remain opaque to. Embarrassment is a negative feeling.

The same exact scenario would play out if I held "You shall be forthright" to be a self-chosen and self-judged moral truth. I would still, if I chose to be forthright, experience (I suppose) a positive feeling from being forthright, but also a negative feeling from being embarrassed.
The negative feelings may be more than the positive feelings due to the general suckiness of existence ;)
Therefore, following your will would be choosing the best of all the bad options if there are no good options.
But I don't think that things are that bad; I tend to get more positive feelings from the threads I choose than negative feelings from the threads I neglect.
 
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Following a moral code more often feels bad rather than good when all feelings are accounted for and the arithmetic of pluses and minuses is tabulated. Many people throughout the ages have followed their consciences and cursed the gods, their lives, and their very selves with vehement fury. Being moral sucks from a feelings perspective.
I guess I can be glad that I have no idea why people would act like that.
I mean, I can also convince myself of specific beliefs (more or less successfully) in order to support desires that seem beneficial and get rid of desires that seem harmful. But I always know that those beliefs come from my own reasoning and/or emotions. I may also blindly trust some claim of something being beneficial or harmful. But it still would be a matter of pragmatics.

Taking, on the other hand, consensus reality as one's moral arbiter is likewise an available path - IF we're willing to submit ourselves to the consensus of people we may not know (which is most of them) or may not respect (which is many of them). Does it make sense for such as we, who probably don't concern ourselves with any consensus where attire is concerned, or diet, or pastimes, or music, or metaphysics, or occult practices - does it make sense for such as we to concern ourselves with consensus where morality is concerned?
Ah that's what you mean by consensus - I was talking about claims of objective moral truth, not about consensus morality.
 
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I think you broaden stage 2 well beyond what it was meant to encompass.
Quite possible - I've been on that stage for long enough to do some furnishing and renovating ;)

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At every stage there are goals. Stage 3, stage 4, stage 5, stage 6, there are always goals that one aspires to. Whenever we behave morally, we are doing so because we have a goal associated with acting morally. Without some sort of goal, we would never move at all. We would stand or sit paralyzed forever. Goals are why we move, whether morally, immorally, or amorally.
Yes - which is why stage 2 seems the purest one to me, only have the goal as the goal, with no false beliefs as distractions as inherent in the later stages.

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I think you're saying that nothing is moral unless the impetus comes from outside oneself. Why would that be? In any case, there is no such thing as an impetus outside oneself. All impetus is internal. External phenomena occur, and we either respond or we don't, and our response is either this or that or some other thing. Deity appearing before me and issuing me a command would be an external phenomenon. It would be up to me whether to respond or not, and, if I choose to respond, what form that response will take, all driven by internal impetus.
I'm saying that morality means believing that the impetus would come from outside oneself even though, as you explained, it comes from the inside.

Hapu

Re: Moral Nihilism
« Reply #24 on: September 12, 2019, 07:16:42 pm »
I'm saying that morality means believing that the impetus would come from outside oneself even though, as you explained, it comes from the inside.

So morality is self-deceit. And of course I agree that morality is self-deceit if it's masquerading as objective fact.

The only other kind of fact would be subjective fact. If subjective fact is rejected as a basis for morality then morality is impossible.

Which leaves us with nothing but pragmatism.

There have always been exactly three choices:
1. Self-deceit
2. Pragmatism alone
3. Allowing subjective fact to be the basis of morality

I consistently find that no one will entertain number 3. I find this unremarkable when talking with RHP people but inexplicable when talking with LHP people.

If I am my own god then it should go without saying that I can establish my own moral law.

Yet no one - no one ever - agrees with this.

Odd, since taking this position makes LHP morality impossible. The only available choices would be RHP morality (also known as self-deceit) or pragmatism alone.
Not charity nor timidity but INDIFFERENCE.
Through INDIFFERENCE, strength.
Through strength, power.
Through power, victory.
Through victory I break my chains.
INDIFFERENCE sets me free.

Liu

Re: Moral Nihilism
« Reply #25 on: September 12, 2019, 07:45:33 pm »
There have always been exactly three choices:
1. Self-deceit
2. Pragmatism alone
3. Allowing subjective fact to be the basis of morality

I consistently find that no one will entertain number 3. I find this unremarkable when talking with RHP people but inexplicable when talking with LHP people.

If I am my own god then it should go without saying that I can establish my own moral law.

Yet no one - no one ever - agrees with this.

Odd, since taking this position makes LHP morality impossible. The only available choices would be RHP morality (also known as self-deceit) or pragmatism alone.
In practice I am utilizing "subjective fact" - I just don't consider it "fact" as I know that it's subjective and therefore also don't call it morality.
But it is a good technique for self-development.

Hapu

Re: Moral Nihilism
« Reply #26 on: September 12, 2019, 09:25:49 pm »
In practice I am utilizing "subjective fact" - I just don't consider it "fact" as I know that it's subjective and therefore also don't call it morality.
But it is a good technique for self-development.

It occurs to me that I could repackage what I'm talking about as Greater Black Magic. Imagine a ritual where I say to the universe (and to myself) in a stentorian voice, "Let there be justice. Help for the helpful, harmlessness for the harmless, harm for the harmful."

Having said it, it would now be law by my divine fiat, at least in so far as the ritual is concerned. From my mouth has come forth the Logos.

Not charity nor timidity but INDIFFERENCE.
Through INDIFFERENCE, strength.
Through strength, power.
Through power, victory.
Through victory I break my chains.
INDIFFERENCE sets me free.

Liu

Re: Moral Nihilism
« Reply #27 on: September 13, 2019, 04:55:44 am »
In practice I am utilizing "subjective fact" - I just don't consider it "fact" as I know that it's subjective and therefore also don't call it morality.
But it is a good technique for self-development.

It occurs to me that I could repackage what I'm talking about as Greater Black Magic. Imagine a ritual where I say to the universe (and to myself) in a stentorian voice, "Let there be justice. Help for the helpful, harmlessness for the harmless, harm for the harmful."

Having said it, it would now be law by my divine fiat, at least in so far as the ritual is concerned. From my mouth has come forth the Logos.
Pretty much what I meant by the respective technique in my list of four.

Except that I don't do formal rituals like that, I got my own methods.