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Passions in Poetry

Those Silly Absolutes

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Philmont
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0 posted 06-04-2005 08:03 PM       View Profile for Philmont   Email Philmont   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Philmont

I don't understand why people expect of me to follow certain rules where there are no absolutes.  Who will stop me if I do what I want to do?  It seems as thought I live in a society of hypocrites who want me to bend to their wishes but at the same time hold that there are no absolutes.  Many of the hypocrites are weaker than myself which implies immediately that I am in no way obligated to bow down to their rules.  What will they do to me?  I am stronger.

I think that my whole question/rant boils down to this.  Can you claim that someone is behaving well or behaving badly in a world where there are no absolutes?  Furthermore, the good is relative to the individual.  So what's good for me may not be good for you.  But at the same time we aren't allowed to push our good on others.  So where do the weak hypocrites get off on pushing their good on me?
serenity blaze
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1 posted 06-04-2005 08:19 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

smile...

and here I am, having trouble finding anything that is absolute.

all those silly "ephemerals"...
Stephanos
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2 posted 06-04-2005 11:04 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
I think that my whole question/rant boils down to this.  Can you claim that someone is behaving well or behaving badly in a world where there are no absolutes?  

Uh, technically you can do anything in a world where there are no absolutes.  In such a universe, someone judging behaviors as right or wrong would be fundamentally no different than you judging that believing in absolutes is wrong.


But it is you who would be behaving hypocritically, if there were no absolutes.  Because any time you come along dropping "oughts" and "shoulds", as to the behaviors of others, you too are acting as if some kind of absolute standard existed.


If your is answer is "No, it's just that the stronger survive", there is still the question of whether the strong are justified in the things they do.  You could always try to escape that question, by saying that the strong aren't accountable to anyone.  But they aren't and can't be the strongest ALL the time.  And usually strength in one point, is indicative of weakness in another.  They are accountable to other people.  And they are also accountable to God who is the final source and authority of moral absolutes.  


You say there's no God?  Well you should remember two things.  1) your "oughts" presuppose that absolutes exists, which is nonsense if there is no God.  2) most of humanity (historically speaking) has imagined, felt, perceived some kind of looming judgment day, day of reckoning, etc ...  And if you don't think there is one, you're probably denying your own conscience, and the larger part of humanity.


Stephen.              
jbouder
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3 posted 06-05-2005 07:48 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

If there are no absolutes, how can there be hypocrites?
Essorant
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4 posted 06-05-2005 02:20 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

I think things are absolute in being and becoming, but not absolute in staying the same.   For something is always being and becoming something there to be or become, but not always one thing. It is being and becoming something else, that it was not before.   Something is absolute in what it is and becomes and does as long as it is or becomes or does that, it is not absolute to being and becoming that everywhere and everytime though, as everything is changing at places and times.  In truth if the smallest mote in the universe is put to an absolute stop in changing in its littlest way, it stops the whole universe and turns it into stone.   Everything changes, therefore that defies some absoluteness.  Strictly speaking absolute absoluteness seems to suggest no change and no difference.  If things were allabsolute though, that may turn the whole universe and everything into a shapeless and stirless stone.  

[This message has been edited by Essorant (06-07-2005 04:32 AM).]

Stephanos
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5 posted 06-06-2005 11:58 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Jim,  you are epigrammatically gifted, having stated my languishing paragraph in one question.




Stephen.
Essorant
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6 posted 06-07-2005 03:57 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Omnia mutantur, nihil interit - Everything changes, nothing perishes.  - Ovid
jbouder
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7 posted 06-07-2005 08:49 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Actually, there can be hypocrites without there being absolutes, and as long as we don't assume the absence of moral absolutes necessary equates to radical subjectivism we can even criticize people as being hypocrites.

I think everyone has a sense of right and wrong, and one can reasonably judge someone on the basis of a commonly accepted standard without ascribing to absolutism.  It's done in government and in the courts all the time.  It's a mistake to say "no abolutes = no standard" since standards (even standards that seem on the surface to be pretty clear cut) often have statistical margins of error or exceptions.

Philmont:

I apologize if my pithy response seemed flippant.  Philosophically speaking, I would be tempted to say a world of no absolutes bars criticism for difference.  Practically, this doesn't work.  There will always be standards of behavior accepted by large numbers of people - right or wrong.  We should welcome criticism from others - sometimes they are right.  When they are, we can thank them.  When they're not, we can say, "That's the dumbest thing I ever heard."

Jim
serenity blaze
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8 posted 06-07-2005 03:42 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Jim I have such respect for you yanno.

I'm just having a hard time believing in anything constant these days.

If you could explain it to me in words I understand, I'd not only be willing to believe, I think I'd be relieved.

*peace*
Stephanos
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9 posted 06-08-2005 12:50 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
Philosophically speaking, I would be tempted to say a world of no absolutes bars criticism for difference.  Practically, this doesn't work.  There will always be standards of behavior accepted by large numbers of people - right or wrong.  We should welcome criticism from others - sometimes they are right.  When they are, we can thank them.  When they're not, we can say, "That's the dumbest thing I ever heard.

However Jim, if your worldview is true ... then the very reason why there are "standards of behavior" is because of those underlying absolutes which are built into the very fibres of human existence.  Remember how Romans tells us that even the Gentiles are "a law unto themselves", God having "written the law on their hearts"?  


It may be a mistake to think that people have to ascribe to a doctrine of absolutism, in order for them to hold moral standards.  But it is also a mistake to think that they can hold those standards apart from the fact of the absolutes we speak of.  One doesn't have to believe in the Mailman to open a letter.  But it helps.    


Stephen.  
serenity blaze
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10 posted 06-08-2005 01:57 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

I always thought that what made the difference was choice.

I always thought that constituted the difference between scales, and symphony.

And yet I still want an absolute.

(and tonic please...)

rhyme the rim with lime and salt and maybe we can talk.

Don't think I don't notice that no one ever answers my questions either.
jbouder
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11 posted 06-08-2005 09:14 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Serenity:

The one, most noticeable, constant in my life seems to be the many demands on my time.

To answer your question, I think it is often very difficult for us, being "creatures of the present," to see what we are calling "constants," especially when our own experiences are involved.  So I think there are two parts to your question: (1) are there constants in our personal lives and (2) are there constants in our social community.

Regarding (1), the extremely good feeling I had recently while dancing with my wife at a friend's wedding and the extreme heartache I felt a few years ago as my wife an I struggled with the education system might seem, in isolation, to be an example of how nothing remains constant.  But on reflection, I would argue against such a conclusion since our commitment to one another "for better or for worse" was the constant that allowed us to celebrate our marriage and take our parental responsibilities to our children seriously.  Emotions are certainly not constant but, in many if not most cases, commitment to family is far more stable.  At the time we agonized over tough decisions, our commitment to one another didn't seem to stabilize a highly uncertain time of our lives, but in hindsight it was that very commitment that got us both through it.  It simply took us some time to realize the effect of our commitment on the ultimate result of our efforts.

Am I making any sense?

Regarding (2), I think history demonstrates that moral standards seems to shift from generation to generation.  Several centuries ago, it was not unheard of for an adult male to marry a young woman as soon as she was able to bear children (sometimes 11 or 12 years old).  Today we call it statutory rape.  

Another example might be slavery in the United States.  A "strict constructionist" of the US Constitution is a misnomer unless the so-called strict constructionist also recognize that our Founding Fathers upheld the Constitutionality of slavery.  Even after emancipation, it took 100 years for the Civil Rights Act to codify the civil rights of African Americans in the United States.  But I think this is actually a defense to the notion that societal morals change relatively slowly.  Philosophy seems to first impact education and art, then work its way to policymakers and judges, then finally to the general population.  As we see in the case of slavery, it took hundreds of years to get from a thriving slave trade to an affirmation of the civil rights of racial minorities.  

I think it is fair to say that all things human are inconstant, but it is also fair to say that some human behavior remains very consistent over time.  An example that may be less a shade of gray than statutory rape or slavery could be murder.  In virtually every society, the wrongful killing of another human being was deemed punishable by whatever authority was in place in any given culture at any given time.

Another matter that I haven't touched on and, unfortunately, don't have the time at the moment to explore further, is the subject of God's role in our personal lives and in history.  Suffice it to say that I believe suffering presents us with an opportunity to worship.  Looking back on the trying time I had getting my son the education he needs, I recall questioning why God could allow such horrible, cruel events to take place, but from my perspective here and now, I see clearly that this time of suffering resulted in far more good than I could have ever imagined.

The best book I've ever read on the subject was C. S. Lewis's "A Grief Observed."  It is Lewis's memoirs following the death of his wife.  I think it illustrates my points far more skillfully than I can possibly do myself.

Jim
serenity blaze
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12 posted 06-08-2005 09:40 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Would I be wrong to assume that what you are saying is that constancy is a decision?

(No matter what you answer, I found the question itself profound.)

Know that I will read C.S. Lewis, "A Grief Observed".

I may not understand it, but I'm the sort that holds onto things until I do.

thanks jim, for taking the time

jbouder
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13 posted 06-08-2005 10:41 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

quote:
Would I be wrong to assume that what you are saying is that constancy is a decision?


It can be.  We certainly can decide whether or not to act or speak in ways that don't contradict past things we've done or said.  I'm just not sure whether a "society" can make a decision.  It seems more proper to say that changes to a community's moral compass usually results from gradual changes in the way people (in small or large numbers) interpret the world around them.  But there are exceptions.

Jim
serenity blaze
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14 posted 06-08-2005 06:18 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Thanks again Jim. You are certainly a gentleman and a scholar.
Local Rebel
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15 posted 06-08-2005 10:06 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

I don't want to make anyone's head hurt but this may be as good a time as any to introduce these forums to Howard (not Harold) Bloom

http://www.howardbloom.net/

pr  int.google.com

http://www.edu-cyberpg.com/IEC/howard.html

[This message has been edited by Ron (06-09-2005 12:31 AM).]

Essorant
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16 posted 06-09-2005 12:38 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Interesting links.  Thanks, Local.
Kristabell
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17 posted 06-21-2005 09:36 PM       View Profile for Kristabell   Email Kristabell   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Kristabell

I know. No one really likes being told how to live and what to do. I think everyone's views get mixed up with one anothers. No one really knows what is right. Sometimes people push what they believe is right on you. I think it is part of our jobs as so called victems to decide what is best for ourselves. I think it is more of a matter of choice than anything. In the end, we can choose what we want to do regardless of what others may think or say. We do not have to listen or do what they ask of us. It also may be that they do not want to emply that you have to do what they say.

Kristabell
serenity blaze
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18 posted 06-22-2005 01:13 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Jim and Stephan?

I quote myself:

"Know that I will read C.S. Lewis, "A Grief Observed".

I may not understand it, but I'm the sort that holds onto things until I do."

I am generally selfish regarding books, especially those that make an impact, but I wanted you both to know this one passed my hands tonight, not to my mother, but to my grieving brother in law.

thanks yet again
Juju
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19 posted 06-22-2005 05:21 PM       View Profile for Juju   Email Juju   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Juju's Home Page   View IP for Juju

Sigh... Yes and y6ou got hit by a truck and be come part of the weak... perhapps you will see why there is rules.

So if you became "weak," which happens in more then one way, would you still feal this way? Do you truely want to be a parasite in society?

-Just a thought

Juju - 1.) a magic charm or fetish 2.)Magic 3.)A taboo connected woth the use of magic

The dictionary never lies.... I am magical (;

JesusChristPose
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20 posted 07-04-2005 02:02 PM       View Profile for JesusChristPose   Email JesusChristPose   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for JesusChristPose

"I think that my whole question/rant boils down to this.  Can you claim that someone is behaving well or behaving badly in a world where there are no absolutes?"

~ I think it comes down to comformity rather than absolutes.
Essorant
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21 posted 07-04-2005 04:31 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

If something is very and steadfastly strong and true as a truth, that should be enough.  We shouldn't need to prove it as "absolute"!
Local Rebel
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22 posted 07-04-2005 10:52 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

we don't even have to prove it as true...

accepted is perfectly acceptable, that's what morality is, an agreed standard of behavior, there are some areas where the majority of the majority and the majority of the minority agree there is a standard -- that's accepted.
Stephanos
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23 posted 07-05-2005 02:16 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

There's a problem with that.


The idea of morality presumes that the majority can be wrong, or immoral in its approach as well as the minority.  


If morality is reduced to consensus alone, then it's nothing more than a head count, or a euphemism for blind conformity.  But we all know of moral situations where "joining the crowd" has been the wrong way to go.

And if the moral law doesn't come from above or beyond humanity, then it is arbitrary ... and hardly more binding than opinion.  In which case we would need to drop the term "morality" altogether, for it implies an obligatory adherence.  And since the question "is it always moral to adhere to the majority"?, still exists, and is valid, I think you need to look deeper.  

quote:
accepted is perfectly acceptable


Then you just lost grounds to disapprove of anything, for everything is "accepted" by someone or some group.    

Stephen.
Local Rebel
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24 posted 07-05-2005 06:47 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=morality

they may or may not come from 'on high' Stephen -- but, if the majority doesn't 'accept' the ideas -- they won't be the standard.
 
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