Author Topic: Moral Realism vs Moral Relativism - Treatise and Discussion  (Read 1024 times)


Hello everyone. Recent discussions on the forum here and some other material I've come across have had me thinking about the question of Meta-Ethics. Do Good and Evil have any objective reality? Can universal claims be made about them? Moral Realism is the position that they do, and we can. Moral Relativism is the position that they do not, and we can not. In this thread, I am going to be attempting to argue for Moral Realism - but I encourage you to disagree! The point of this writing is to find the limitation and benefits of the paradigm. By the way, this is a super long thread so I don't expect anyone to respond to every point mentioned here.

Descriptive Moral Relativism is not a useful position here. Merely describing that people disagree about Moral Law and justice, does not say anything about the ultimate nature of Good and Evil, and the judgement about their objective existence.

I'm going to open us up with an excerpt from a lecture on the topic I recently listened to. It does not represent the full position outlined in this post, but it is a useful piece to respond to - and it sufficiently introduces us to the types of questions we will be asking here today.

Quote from: Illuminist Pythagoras - 1
Let's assume that a moral relativist is tied up, and tortured, until he can come up with a reason why his torturer should stop torturing him. If there are no moral absolutes, then of course he can't object to to being tortured. If he admits the torture is wrong, then he won't be tortured. At first, he'll be prideful, and will try to resist giving in and screaming out in pain. But in time, he will begin to scream. Soon afterward, he will beg his torturer to stop. But why? His pain is only subjective. But of course for him - it's the only thing that is real. Nothing else exists, but his mental experience of pain. And he wants it to stop. But why? Why should a person not value pain over pleasure? Isn't it all relative? Aren't all values merely the creation of humans? So why doesn't he choose to value pain over pleasure? If he did this everything would be fine. But he can't. Pain is bad. It just is. It is a fact of existence. Could it be otherwise? It doesn't matter. It is what it is. It is like this for everyone. Suddenly he understands: the torturer wouldn't want to be tortured either. A world in which torture is permissible, is a world in which the torturer could be tortured. The torturer doesn't want to be tortured. Therefore the torturer doesn't want to live in a world where torture is permissible. Therefore the torturer doesn't want to torture. Because to desire to torture is to desire to be in a world in which torture is permissible. But someone might object here and ask "Well, couldn't the torturer desire to live in a world in which it's permissable for him to torture others, but not permissible for other to torture him?"

But is such a world possible? More importantly, is this such a world? It is not. In this world, when a person violates moral law - that person incurs the wrath of others. ... So if someone wants to steal, without being stolen from; or if someone wants to murder, without being murdered; or if someone wants to do to others, what he wouldn't want done to him; he will need an army. He will need a monopoly on the use of violence. In other words, it is necessary for a government to exist. And it is necessary for him to run that government. He has to become a dictator. But he himself would not want to live under a dictator such as himself. Neither would anyone else. Everyone else would resist living under such a dictatorship. Maybe for a while, he will manage to hold onto power. But the longer he holds on, the more the pressure builds. And the more the pressure builds, the worse it will be when it explodes. I don't subscribe to any simplistic notions of karma. But every action, creates an equal and opposite reaction. Morality, is the study of cause and effect. It's interesting that many moral nihilists appeal to Hume's argument that you can never derive an Ought from an Is. Of course Hume also argued against causality in the same way. You can never prove causation based on correlation. And yet, every Ought is derived from an Is. Just as every fact, is derived from a cause. Reality is unconcerned with our inability to comprehend it's inner workings. The law of causality, in moral law, continue to govern the world in which we live. Whether or not you can provide a mathematical proof for the Pythagorean theorem, it still holds true. Whether or not scientists can prove what caused the big bang - here we are. In the same way, meta-ethical arguments are ultimately irrelevant to the existence of moral law.

Moral nihilists will sometimes say that Morality isn't objective, because it is referential. I say, it is objective because it is referential. Morality refers to objective truths about the conscious experience of suffering and well-being. If it weren't referential, it would be arbitrary. If someone pokes you in the eye with a sharp stick, the wrongness of the action is found in the reference to the pain it causes you, and the loss of vision that results. So, what? How does that prove moral relativism. Then I've also heard the stupid argument that morality is contingent. "It's only bad to poked in the eye with a sharp stick, IF you don't WANT to be poked in the eye with a sharp stick." This is simply idiotic. Who wants that? But I'm going to try very hard to play devil's advocate here. They might respond that, they don't want their eye poked with a sharp stick. But if I say that it's wrong for them to poke someone else's eye with a sharp stick, I'm wrong. They'll admit that poking someone else's eye out with a sharp stick will cause pain. The pain may be a fact. But this is merely a descriptive statement. And a descriptive statement cannot prove a prescriptive statement. But is this really so?

This is an interesting approach to arguing for Moral Realism. He is essentially invoking the Principle of Sufficient Reason and applying it to the moral sphere. The implicit claim is that any who desires to do harm or wrong to another, desires it only because they are ignorant of the consequences that their action would have, due to the inevitable reaction from this immutable sphere of causality. That due to the interpenetrated nature of all things, Justice is done to those who would transgress moral law, à la Ralph Waldo Emerson who prefers to say it more romantically:

Quote from: Ralph Waldo Emerson - 2
The same dualism underlies the nature and condition man. Every excess causes a defect; every defect an excess. Every sweet hath it sour; every evil its good. Every faculty which is a receiver of pleasure has an equal penalty put on its abuse. It is to answer for its moderation with its life. For every grain of wit there is a grain of folly. For every thing you have missed, you have gained something else; and for every thing you gain, you lose something. If riches increase, they are increased that use them. If the gatherer gathers too much, nature takes out of the man what she puts into his chest; swells the estate, but kills the owner. Nature hates monopolies and exceptions. The waves of the sea do not more speedily seek a level from their loftiest tossing that the varieties of condition tend to equalize themselves. There is always some leveling circumstance that puts down the overbearing, the strong, the rich, the fortunate, substantially on the same ground with all others. Is a man too strong and fierce for society and by temper and position a bad citizen, - a morose ruffian, with a dash of the pirate in him? - nature sends him a troop of pretty sons and daughters who are getting along in the dame's classes at the village school, and love and fear for for them smooths his grim scowl to courtesy. Thus she contrives intenerate the granite and the felspar, takes the boar out and puts the lamb in and keeps her balance true.

The farmer imagines power and place are fine things. But the President has paid dear for White House. It has commonly cost him all his peace, and the best of his manly attributes. To preserve for a short time so conspicuous an appearance before the world, he is content to eat dust before the real masters who stand erect behind the throne. Or do men desire the more substantial and permanent grandeur of genius? Neither has this an immunity. He who by force of will or of thought is great and overlooks thousands, has the responsibility of overlooking. With every influx of light comes new danger. Has he light? he must bear witness to the light, and always outrun that sympathy which gives him such keen satisfaction, by his fidelity to new revelations of the incessant soul. He must hate father and mother, wife and child. Has he all that the world loves and admires and covets? - he must cast behind him their admiration and afflict them by faithfulness to his truth and become a byword and a hissing.

This Law writes the laws of the cities and nations. it will not be baulked of its end in the smallest iota. It is in vain to build or plot or combine against it. Things refuse to be mismanaged long. Res nolunt diu male administrari.

And while this is a beautiful sentiment, I think that it is only a matter of argumentative convenience that we should insist on the efficacy of this hidden code that eventually serves it's wrath on all that oppose it. For while it is well known that each action we take every carries forth it's karma into the future, it is equally well known that the one who issues forth cruelty and violence is not always subject to the consequences of those actions. A government is not necessary for this. All that is needed is a slight imbalance in power relations between groups of people for one person to be able to exercise his will to manipulate others without being accountable for his actions. But even this is an unnecessary argument, because even if we assume that by supreme justice each person is led to this divine mean of balance before death - we must admit that the comfort in this is only based on the assumption that some amount of good repaid in whatever form, can account for and make up for the wrongs and suffering that one has been subjected to. And I don't believe that it ever really can. Nothing can ever undo the damage, or free you from all effects of it. The fact that you are no longer subject to evil does not erase the experience that existed in those moments. And that exists in every passing moment around us. Therefore every good moment is but a consolation for the reality of evil and suffering. (Just to be clear, this can also be reversed. Every moment of suffering is just a counterpoint to those of good experiences, and does not undo them in any sense.)

Therefore we should not place so much focus on the existence of Good and Evil in terms of obligation to our fellow man and even to ourselves, although convincing ethical arguments can be made in this spirit. Neither should we focus on the immutability of a divine law to enforce Good and Evil. Instead the fracture point between Moral Realism and Moral Relativism lies solely on the reality of Good and Evil as existing principles or phenomena of consciousness. But of course in order to argue along these lines it is necessary to attempt to define what we are talking about. For one cannot say that something exists without first describing or demonstrating what is meant to exist. It is always possible to squabble in the details of such definitions, but I think the description I am about to offer is sophisticated enough to withstand most such detours and provide a basic framework for addressing what is meant, when we speak of Good and Evil.

What I consider to be the four pillars of Evil are Torture, Imprisonment, Enslavement, and Rape. We can add other words to this definition, such as ignorance, falsehood, deprivation or greed. But it should be acknowledged that any of these others are on some level contained within the four. These four are not actually separate things, but different aspects of that which is truly one and the same. It can be called suffering - or more coldly non-consensuality.

We can contrast these against the four orbs of Good, which are Freedom, Bliss, Peace, and Truth - with a tentative fifth, which is Love, which is not directly reducible to the other four, but also does not fully exist without them. Then there are many smaller ornaments as well such as creativity, which deserves mention but is on a more subtle level part of Freedom, Bliss, and Truth. These might at first seem to be different, but again they point in the same direction, which is hard to name, but for now we can say that they point towards liberation.

I will attempt to further flesh out and expand any of these words upon request (capital words), but for now I trust the reader to sufficiently understand what is being pointed at by each concept and the distinction between these two categories.

Now let us attempt to test this definition with a stress case. Let us say that a man submits himself to be Tortured intentionally. We can say either that to some degree he enjoys it, or that he does not at all enjoy it but has soberly decided to exercise his Freedom in order to experience it anyways and learn about the depths of suffering. The conflict is that by my definition, Torture is an evil, yet Freedom is a good, and both are present in this scenario. I would say to this that the man who exercises his freedom to experience something has done it by choice and therefore is not Imprisoned by the action. But, the reply comes, we are not discussing the applicability of Imprisonment to this situation, but Torture, and therefore you have avoided the question. But this is where the singleness of Torture/Imprisonment/Enslavement/Rape/Suffering/Non-Consensuality really shows its face - because if one contemplates this further he will realize that Torture is not possible without Imprisonment. Because the very nature of Torture is such that it is not Torture unless the victim wants to escape from it, or in the contrapositive, that he doesn't want it to continue. I have previously posted a succinct thought experiment on this forum, one that is very similar to the one raised in the first quote I started us off with, that demonstrates the universal nature of this reality. I would like to repeat it to you now, in its fuller context.

Quote from: Olive Fontaine  - 3
[...]But if we look at evil/bad/suffering - we do not see the same ambivalence. Pain is very real - almost too real. We all experience it, and it is not subjective. We do not have to craft the negative meaning for ourselves in our experiences of pain, it asserts itself. There is no other way to react to it. Pain certainly has a positive existence, characterized by its presence in varying degrees of intensity, duration, location. This is very easy to prove, as we can take a person (any person) and subject them to suffering. Then we can increase the level of suffering until it is far beyond their degree of tolerance. At this point, they will admit two things readily:

1. Suffering is real.

2. Freedom is desired. (To move away from that suffering.)

And since Torture is by definition the extreme application of pain well beyond a person's capacity for tolerating it, this means that Torture has not truly been performed if the subject does not desire to escape from it, or in other words consents to it. And if he does not consent to it, and Torture is truly performed on him, then he is also Imprisoned, because he is unable to escape that Torture. (Challenge yourself to relate the 4 concepts I mentioned together this concretely in your mind. Understand for yourself how Rape is not possible without Torture, Imprisonment, and some level of Enslavement. How Enslavement is not possible without Rape and Imprisonment, and also a degree of Torture.)

Therefore the requested torture would be permissible on the grounds that the man who volunteers for it always has the ability to opt out of the torturing. The reason we cannot be satisfied with a one time consent with no additional opt-out, is because the man who requests the torture while at sober peace is a different being under different circumstances than that same man under agonizing pain far beyond what he can handle - and therefore we cannot allow the first man to speak for the second, or to rob the second man of his consent on behalf of the first. But what if we say that the Man desperately volunteers for a Torture experience from which he cannot escape. He consents to this totally and will even pay for it, ensure it, sign the contract, whatever you like. What then? Is it a denial of his Freedom to not allow this experience? Does the coerced torturer commit evil by accepting money for the job? Do you on some level Imprison him, by preventing him from fulfilling his wish? This is a very grey situation indeed, and it can possibly be argued either way that he should be allowed his freedom, or that he should be spared from the non-consensual experience. However, this is a prudent time to remind the reader that the existence of shades of grey does not indicate the nonexistence of white or black. We must remember that we are speaking on the fringe of this topic, and know that not all ethical problems can be solved in the abstract. Perhaps there are some that are so entangled they cannot be solved even in principle, or at any rate, to a degree that a human can understand. Sometimes judgments must be made on imperfect knowledge and imperfect understanding. This is life. However, in these situations I would apply the principle of Compassion. The principle of Compassion urges that one should help free his fellow man from pain and Suffering, but it does not require that you would give him pleasure instead. For pleasure in itself is not in fact what is Good; what is Good is Liberation - liberation from Torture/Imprisonment/Enslavement/Rape/Suffering/Non-Consensuality, and to liberate others from it, so that they may know and instantiate Freedom/Bliss/Peace/Truth and Love.

That being said, I'm going to reiterate now that the recognition of Good or Evil is not an obligation by divine law to action. However, Compassion that is written on the heart is and does become an obligation for those that truly understand the reality of Evil. Ultimately it is not only loving but also Wise, because it brings about the betterment of the human realm, it reconciles the spirit with the material and is the indication of a Son of God. If one is intimately familiar with the depths and nature of Evil, or Suffering, they will most likely want to stop it - even if they are only concerned about their own self interest. Because they would understand that Suffering always spreads and causes even greater Suffering for others.

e.g. A person who is fine, but then witnesses someone under intense Suffering, they too will Suffer. Perhaps greatly so. And even if only subtly, they carry the karmic influence (causal ramifications) of that event with them and continue to propagate negativity, unless they are skilled in techniques that deal with this influence such as Magic or Equanimity, or else Psychopathy and Sadomasochism.

e.g. A person who causes Suffering to another robs them of their mental well-being, and earns the wrath of both their victim and their loved ones, who are all grieved and filled with enmity about the consequences of your action, and may have to go to some terrible lengths themselves in order to survive because of what you've done.

And as stated earlier, nothing will ever redeem or wash clean or make up for this Suffering, even the Good which is its counterpoint that seeks to alleviate it. The Good can not redeem the Evil, the Evil does not destroy the Good. Because of this, every act of Evil contributes to the misery of the human race, forevermore. If anyone has any interest in not being a miserable creature thrust into a hateful world of Torture and damnation, with no possible solution to their situation except annihilation at death - then Reason will also reveal to them that they have an interest in promoting the uprightness of themselves, their communities, and their race as a whole. This does not mean that other motivations are not possible, but they are quite rare because almost everyone cares for themselves above all others, and seek to preserve themselves, and from this alone can spring the compulsion which births the practical Moral Law.

But again, this does not mean that there is truly justice in this reality. That all evils will be repaid in full, and every good deed taken account of. No, we have said already that this is impossible anyways. And therefore he whose motivations are such that he wants power for himself at any cost will by a careful study of this world realize that beyond the natural consequences of any Evil he may seek to commit in pursuit of his ambition, there is no Supernatural power that will punish him. And there is no divine force that will step in and save his enemies from being ruthlessly slaughtered like dogs if they do not have the power to defend themselves. The Law of this world is Might. The sad history of human affairs as well as evolutionary biology confirms that nature adores the vicious and the wicked, and rewards the strong. The very nature of embodiment in this realm is that Evil can never be fully avoided, because beings that exist here have very limited control over their circumstances. And these circumstances invariably lead, at the very least, to physical pain which they did not consent to and which they cannot escape from - and in many cases, the Torture/Imprisonment/Enslavement/Rape of their consciousness at almost all levels (Physically, Socially, Emotionally, Romantically, Mentally, Spiritually, etc). This transgression against the sovereignty of one's own being, is what we have defined as Evil, or Non-consensuality. (Not just being made to finish your dinner without consent, either. Up to and including the complete ruination of your own being on many or all levels.)

But just because it is possible to recognize this and to desire Evil rather than Good, or otherwise to disregard both as considerations, this does nothing to disprove the reality of Evil, which is the topic under discussion.

The Meta-Ethical Moral Relativist claims that there is no objective reality to what is called Evil, and therefore are not subject to truth conditions of any kind. Instead, Evil is contingent upon the traditions, belief systems, customs of a certain people. However, this is not a strong claim. Because while it can be said that the variations in these things have produced a wide diversity of different positions about what a certain person or group will consent to, or will subject themselves to, or choose to endure for the sake of survival, it is the violation of the limitations of their consent or endurance which has always and everywhere been recognized as Evil. It is a consequence of being an embodied individual. It naturally follows from the Law of Identity in this impure realm.

1. I am I.

i.e I am the one who is subject to the internal world of my experience. Or alternatively, I am identical to my perception and my will at a fundamental level.

2. I am always coming into a state of deficiency. If this is not addressed, my internal world will quickly become an agonizing hell until I am annihilated.

3. There is no other that can navigate my consciousness through external circumstances, that can address my deficiencies for me.

4. Therefore I must be the one who speaks for myself, who stewards over my internal world, who guides it through external circumstances.

5. Therefore no other should speak for me, reign over my fate, or use me for his own ends.

I believe that at this point we have sufficiently demonstrated that Evil is not merely a subjective specter, and that universal claims can be made about it. Although this does not mean that objective claims about Justice can be made, or that a universal Justice could ever be described or realized.

The Moral Relativist may object to my definition of the word Evil, and claim that while pain objectively does exist, it is not the same thing as Evil. I would agree with this. Evil is not the same as Pain, although they are often related.

They may then try again, and say that while Suffering does objectively exist, it is not the same thing as Evil. But I disagree. The reality of Torture/Imprisonment/Enslavement/Rape/Non-consensuality/Suffering is one and the same thing as that which I am addressing - Evil. This is what is meant by Evil, and not some separate, theoretical Evil which exists apart from all of these things.

It is almost as if the moral relativist has a chip on his shoulder. He is willing to admit that suffering is real, but won't say that it is not desired, or that it should be avoided or escaped - even though the reality of suffering is such that the only possible response to it is to seek to escape it, or else to avoid it altogether. Because if it is admitted that suffering is unsuitable, or not desired, then this is tautologically the same as saying that it is wrong. And if something is both existent and wrong, then it becomes clear that this is the same which has always been referred to as Evil, and that to deny one and affirm the other is nothing more than a game of semantics that does nothing to undermine the reality of the quality which is referred to by both.

Therefore the only option left to a Relativist, is to say that Suffering does exist, but that it is acceptable/necessary/important/good/moral/a part of life; or otherwise to deny the presuppositions of identity and deficiency, which cannot be easily done without descending into absurdity. But can we honestly hold this position? If someone is involved in an activity that causes them heavy suffering, and they are convinced, or have convinced themselves, that suffering is acceptable/necessary/good etc, then they will simply continue to do that activity and thereby continue to suffer. This will continue, and perhaps increase dramatically, unless the person is able to analyze their situation and realize that their position on suffering was ill founded, and that suffering is not acceptable/moral/good, but the opposite. They will realize that they had only been brainwashed to believe that suffering is good by those who wished to take advantage of them, or otherwise that they had reasoned themselves to that position without understanding the full depth of how extreme and irresistible suffering can be. Other arguments against the position that Suffering is acceptable/necessary/important/good/moral have already been made previously when I spoke about how suffering always spreads, that it is not in anyone's self-interest, that it affects the entire species, and that it can never be repaid, etc. I won't continue to belabor my points, but I will expand upon anything if I receive a question about it in particular.

And here we are, at the end of this topic of discussion. There is only one final objection that should be addressed more fully, that has followed us through this treatise and peaked its head out from several nooks and crannies already - and that is the subject of Sadomasochism. To what extent is it possible to flip the script, to desire Hell, to love the scourge? To make Evil one's own Good, as John Milton's Satan chose to do.

Quote from: John Milton - 4
Fall'n Cherube, to be weak is miserable
Doing of Suffering: but of this be sure,
To do ought good never will be our task,
But ever to do ill our sole delight,
As being the contrary to his high will
Whom we resist. If then his Providence
Out of our evil seek to bring forth good,
Our labour must be to pervert that end,
Which oft times may succeed, so as perhaps
Shall grieve him, if I fail not, and disturb
His inmost counsels from their destind aim.

And so, if a person is a true Sadomasochist that loves pain and suffering, how can there be any evil to such a person? And this is true to an extent. A person who desires all manner of Torture and Imprisonment and Rape and Enslavement, does not have their consent violated by any event - and therefore is totally immune to the effects of Evil. And so we see that Sadomasochism is a sort of dark Equanimity, the flip side to it's coin. Through Equanimity also, one can be largely freed from Suffering - not by loving misery, but by such a perfected and crystalline resolve that they are unmoved by any amount of Suffering, and can even submit unto death, although they are still subject to pain. But clearly these two things are extremely rare outliers of human kind, and their existence does not disprove the reality of Evil, but only shows that it is possible to change one's relationship to it. That stated, this is a good opportunity to contemplate what the difference between the two qualities of Equanimity and Sadomasochism is, and if both are equally Good, or equally removed from Evil.

I cannot answer this question in its entirety, but I do not think that they are. The sadomasochist has aligned his will with Evil, and therefore is not violated in the same way by it. But it can be argued that this person is not actually free from Evil in the way that the enlightened person is. For if he desires the scourge, he must crave it, and if he is always craving more Evil and Torture, can it not be said that he is actually imprisoned by Evil on a more subtle level, and must become its servant? Such a person will always realize more and greater Evil in his life, which will consume a greater and greater share of his Freedom and Peace, and will eventually destroy him - Unless he has found a way to enjoy truly inhuman amounts of pain in such a way that his mortality is not affected by it. If we compare this to a person who has mastered Equanimity, they will find peace and set aside all restriction and woe, cultivate their spirit, and form their reality into a perfected image of their soul - their self-idea, rather than taking on the grim visage of sin. Or otherwise, to go beyond Good altogether to approach Incorruptibility and Chaos, to know the unmanifest.

The perfect example of a True Sadomasochist comes to mind from a movie I was recently introduced to. The Cenobites and their victim Frank from Hellraiser 1987 are a prime example of what we are talking about. Pure Sadomasochism - unrestrained and inhuman. I recommend watching these clips to get an extremely visceral understanding of what is being talked about with the Sadomasochism critique of morality. (Warning: Very Violent/Disturbing)  (5)    (5)

(I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of this film to be honest with you. I would give it a shot if you have any love for classic horror movies. If so then I would also recommend  Suspiria (1977) , Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) and The Thing (1982)  -- but that's neither here nor there!  ;) )

A quote for those who can't watch the video (but you're really missing out.)

Quote from: The Cenobites  - 5

"The Box. You opened it - we came."

"It's just a puzzle box!"

"Oh no. It is a means to summon us!"

"Who are you??"

"Explorers - in the further realms of experience. Demons to some, Angels to others."

"It was a mistake! Agh! Go to Hell!"

"We can't. Not alone.

"You solved the box. We came! Now you must come with us. Taste our pleasures."

"Please, go away! Leave me alone."

"Oh, no tears please... It's a waste of good Suffering!"

"Please wait!"

"No time for argument."

"You've done this before, right? -"
"Many, many times."

"To a man named Frank Cotton?"

"Oh yes."

"He escaped you!"

"Nobody Escapes Us!"

"He did, I've seen him - I've seen him alive!"

"Supposing he had escaped us. What has that to do with you?"

"I can lead you to him! And you can take him back instead of me!"

"Perhaps we prefer you. -

"I want to hear him confess himself! Then, maybe, maybe...

"But if you cheat us -

"We'll tear your soul apart!"

It's really interesting to note how many of the ideas we have discussed here that are touched upon in this exchange. Of course, the Cenobites are not sensitive to moral arguments. They have no compassion in them whatsoever, and in fact cherish it's opposite, which is bloodlust and Sadism. They do not care about consent in the slightest. Your body is not sacred to you, it is theirs to desecrate and defile as they wish. You gave your consent when you solved the box, and there is no safe word for you now. Their victim only catches their interest, by offering another in her place - which really begins to hint at demiurgic themes of salvation by sacrifice.

This is certainly an interesting discussion to have, but whether or not such defiled beings truly exist among us is questionable - though I believe that it is possible to approach such a mindset at the very least. But even if they do exist, as stated, this does not all disprove the reality of Suffering; in fact it may actually further demonstrate such a reality and the possible states of freedom from it: when we compare sadomasochism to the normal condition, equanimity, and someone who is using methods like stoicism or witchcraft.

Ultimately we should recognize that while the existence of Good and Evil does not constitute an obligation toward specific action, or a divine law or justice, it does open our eyes to the potential cruelty of the existence we find ourselves in - and the problem of being tasked to preserve life, when life is by all means set against by the conditions of this reality. There is much that is beyond our control that is not merely indifferent to us; it would harm us, restrict us, spend our vital energies for its own profit, and destroy all of our peace. The discussion should rather be on how to identify, understand, respond to, and prevent Evil - and not to act as though it is unreal or irrelevant by making it disappear from our vision in a cloud of semantic smoke. If we acknowledge good and evil, we can properly cultivate in ourselves a sense of moral courage and compassion, and gain a more penetrating insight into the nature of the world - which will allow us to preserve our honor and uprightness in all situations, and remind us to offer our hand in charity to those who truly need it.


Now then, I believe we have adequately sketched the start of a defensible position of Moral Realism. If you disagree, feel free to post your arguments against any of the claims made here! Or instead, you can add your own thoughts, ask for further explanation of words, or comment on the construction of this post! I look forward to reading your feedback, the purpose of this writing is to provoke a philosophical response, and to find just where the limitations of Moral Realism lie. For anyone who took the time to read all of this, you have my personal thanks. I hope you were able to find something here of interest to you. Blessings to you all!



I do not endorse the stated opinions of any author listed here, or their character.

1. Illuminatus Pythagaros, MetaGod, MetaEthics, & Philophilosophists;

2. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Compensation, 1841 Essay

3. Olive Fontaine. I'm Done with Horus/RHP (rant), Xepera MaSet. (2018).

4. Paradise Lost, John Milton (1667)

5. Hellraiser (1987), Clive Barker
« Last Edit: June 20, 2018, 09:21:31 pm by Olive »
    Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing heaven, and gazing on the earth,
     Wandering companionless
Among the stars that have a different birth, -
And ever-changing, like a joyless eye
That finds no object worth its constancy?

-Percy Bysshe Shelley


Re: Moral Realism vs Moral Relativism - Treatise and Discussion
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2018, 08:09:57 am »
I gotta remind myself to tackle this later if I can. But holy crap 6,000 words. I get tired after about 2,000-3,000 (both reading and writing).

My religion is Satanism & Kashmir Shaivism via Vāmācāra

"We have none but evidence for the prosecution [against Satan] and yet we have rendered the verdict. To my mind, this is irregular. It is un-English. It is un-American; it is French." ... "We may not pay him reverence, for that would be indiscreet, but we can at least respect his talents." - Mark Twain
"God and the individual are one. To realize this is the essence of Shaivism." - Swami Lakshmanjoo


Re: Moral Realism vs Moral Relativism - Treatise and Discussion
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2018, 01:57:49 pm »
Haha thanks! And yeah, I might have gone a little overboard on this one :$

But I had done a lot of contemplation about this topic, and so yesterday I entered a powerful mood of synthesis, where I constructed this document to record my more subtle considerations on the topic. I wanted to provide the treatise I wish I had found when I was studying Meta-ethics; one that was as far as possible  secular, gnostic, philosophical, and honest.

I tried to make the entire thing as readable as possible, and there are some sections that are a little more fun - so hopefully it isn't too much of a slog to get through! If you do make it through I would love to hear your thoughts or comments, though of course I don't expect anyone to fully deconstruct this work here. Cheers all!  :)
    Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing heaven, and gazing on the earth,
     Wandering companionless
Among the stars that have a different birth, -
And ever-changing, like a joyless eye
That finds no object worth its constancy?

-Percy Bysshe Shelley


Re: Moral Realism vs Moral Relativism - Treatise and Discussion
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2018, 02:09:05 pm »
Perhaps a WR on a single post here. There were several thoughts that came to mind that I'll share in the next couple days.
"Some say Kos, others Kosm.
As you did for the vacuous Rom,
grant us eyes.
Grant us eyes."

-Micolash, Host of the Nightmare


Re: Moral Realism vs Moral Relativism - Treatise and Discussion
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2018, 04:37:19 pm »
I've been contemplating the comparison I made in this casual treatise between Equanimity and Sadomasochism. I think I've come to understand both a little better in the meantime.

At first, I described Sadomasochism as a sort of Dark Equanimity - because both provide immunity to Evil (Torture, Imprisonment, Slavery, Rape.) However, I think I understand now that the love of Evil is not actually on the same level as Equanimity. Because it is not truly free from Evil, and released from its power - it is has simply flipped its value categories. There are actually multiple possible levels on this - let's take a quick look.

Average Person, who has not truly developed moral understanding or psychopathy - Can not discern between good and evil. But seeks pleasure and the fulfillment of his desires, which will unfailingly lead him into greater and greater evil. (Both on himself, and on others.) [There is no real Good/Evil]

Morally Conscious - Can discern between good and evil. Recognizes the value of good and the terror of evil. Takes part in activism, tries to promote the greater good, and tries to avoid evil as much as possible. [Good is Good, Evil is Evil]

Sadomasochism - Can discern between good and evil. But gains the greatest joy, excitement, fulfillment, etc from the depths of Evil. Seeks out slavery, imprisonment, torture, and rape for himself, and for others. So he is immune to Evil to the extent that he loves it, and therefore consents to it. But now, a new type of evil arises: boredom, stagnation, peace, equality. Now he feels restrained (imprisoned) if he can not experience or propagate evil, and so Peace has become Imprisonment. Now he feels tortured by love and freedom, because they eliminate his chances to advance his goals and enjoy his own sick type of bliss. Additionally, he may also fear death, since death would be the ultimate Peace and would forever destroy his union with Evil. [Evil is Good, Good is Evil]

Equanimous - Can discern between good and evil clearly. But he is totally filled with desirelessness. In other words, he has such an unshakable inner experience of Peace/Freedom/Bliss/Truth that no evil can touch him. He can be captured, and physically harmed. But even here he is not imprisoned or tortured, because he does not have the desire to escape, and has an indestructible will. He is also not afraid of death, because he knows that it is totally beyond Freedom/Bliss/Truth/Peace and has probably already tasted it several times. [Good is Triumphant, Evil is powerless]

And spelling things out like this, it becomes hard to imagine a type of Psychopathy or Sadomasochism which is really the flipside of True Equanimity. Psychopathy is of course an incredibly powerful force in our world nonetheless, but it does not grant real freedom from this place. I'm not sure that Evil can ever be made "Triumphant" so to speak. We can try something like this

Dark Equanimity - Knowledge of Good and Evil. Has an indestructible Will. Loves Evil, but has a Stoic attitude which allows him to largely be free from the pain/desire that comes with the absence of evil. Or alternatively, he experiences such inner evil. (Inner Torment, Inner Imprisonment, Inner Slaver, Inner Rape) that Good never touches him, even when he cannot commit Evil on others. So he is always bathed in corruption, and never touches his enemy, which is the Good - even in his dreams which are perpetual nightmares of ecstasy. The only evil (good) for him in life might involve sedation, which causes him to lose his pain and tortured soul for a time. He might not fear death, if he believes that after death his soul will be cast into Hell where he may enjoy torment forever. But his vast experience with Evil may give him the intuition that this is not the case. Evil is an active thing, based on feeling, based on oppression, based on manipulation, based on the confines of the body. If he loses his body, if he loses his mind, if he loses his feeling, if he loses all distinctions at death -- Evil would be forever gone to him. [Evil has Won, but Good is inevitable]

But I think we begin to see the limitations of this path. I'm just speculating here, but it seems that Evil requires a world, an existence. And really, an impure and corrupted existence like this one, to really thrive. It seems that in nonexistence, Good is transcended (it goes beyond freedom, beyond bliss, beyond truth, beyond peace, beyond limitation), but Evil is destroyed. (There is no further possibility of Torture/Imprisonment/Slavery/Rape). This is probably also true of Nonduality, which is what true Equanimity is born from. So maybe it could be said that True Equanimity goes beyond both evil and good. But I think you would be hard pressed to really hold that position - because my definition of Good is based around passive and internal experience. It does not require anything or anyone else. Can we really say that an enlightened being is also without freedom, without peace? Maybe. But I think it would be more accurate to say he exemplifies the Good, or goes beyond it.

I'm really just spitballing at this point, but this was a really thought provoking consideration for me. I would be interested to hear some counter points, or other people's takes on this.
    Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing heaven, and gazing on the earth,
     Wandering companionless
Among the stars that have a different birth, -
And ever-changing, like a joyless eye
That finds no object worth its constancy?

-Percy Bysshe Shelley


Re: Moral Realism vs Moral Relativism - Treatise and Discussion
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2018, 11:07:08 pm »
If morality were objective, why would their be a need to for laws to enforce it? Why would parents try to tell their kids right from wrong?


Re: Moral Realism vs Moral Relativism - Treatise and Discussion
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2018, 12:53:35 am »
Why would something being real mean that every person knows about it and acts accordingly? Parents try to teach their children right from wrong because they are relatively complex ideas that require the use of reason to properly identify, which young children are not very strong with. But these teachings are not themselves moral law, they are merely prescriptive statements that try their best to cover as many scenarios as possible with simple phrases.

"If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."

"Thou shalt not steal."

"Don't do to others what you don’t want them to do to you."

But these are just simple guidelines that are restrictive and oversimplifying. It is not until the child becomes capable of Moral Reasoning that he can identify Good/Evil for himself.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2018, 01:33:56 am by Olive »
    Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing heaven, and gazing on the earth,
     Wandering companionless
Among the stars that have a different birth, -
And ever-changing, like a joyless eye
That finds no object worth its constancy?

-Percy Bysshe Shelley