The Strong See Brutalizing the Weak As Their Prerogative. Only the…
July 18, 2017 at 9:41 am #3631
The OP seems to say we are all evolved from the same sources, but some of us are predators, and some prey…but, also that the weaker sometimes ate the stronger….which is not supported as a premise, when you consider the involved scenarios.
Is a pack of hyenas “weaker” than a lion?
They tend to win in a fight at least, so, it would seem the stronger is winning, not the weaker.
That would imply that the stronger, not the weaker, win…and that it is because there can be strength in numbers.
A bait ball of anchovies, acting as a group, can confuse predators, but, they do not “win”, they merely survive. They basically count on not ALL of them being eaten, as a survival strategy….and so forth.
“Nature” has no morality, in that it doesn’t exist as an entity, merely as an aggregate concept. Individual members of what we might call nature exist, such as a man or a whale, etc…and, they might individually exhibit what we might call morality.
So, in essence, its not that the meek inherit the earth, its that they can survive in spite of weakness, typically via sheer numbers…and that in turn is typically due to reproductive prowess.
Humans almost went extinct according to the genetic and fossil records…and, our ancestors that got to pass on their genes, basically were better at reproduction…so, we inherited a horny tendency so to speak.
So, is the point of the OP meant to convey there can be strength in numbers, and a rallying cry to form a pack and attack?
😀July 18, 2017 at 11:33 am #3633
@caseydorman – “archaeological studies from 1999-2007”
– see also “How Compassion Made Us Human – the evolutionary origins of tenderness, trust and morality” by Penny Spikins. She goes over all the archaeological evidence in depth, and concludes that the Killer Ape thesis is just fashionable nonsense.
This ties straight into what Michael Tomasello says, that Homo is the “domesticated ape” – our family tree put aside competition in favour of cooperation, which makes a lot of sense. If all you have got is each other, it doesn’t make sense to go fighting with them. It also doesn’t make sense to go fighting with any of the other sparsely distributed members of your own species you might encounter on the savannah or elsewhere – it makes more sense to work with them than fight with them over basically nothing. This is supported by Penny Spikins’ findings of a lot of long-range trade and travel, in prehistoric times, and hardly any violence.
“most theories of morality or ethics that support nonviolence have had a spiritual basis, but such a basis is not necessary. My arguments for a theory that relies upon both evolutionary and cultural influences, is an example of such a theory, which is not spiritually based.”
– such a basis might not seem necessary, yet it naturally arises of its own accord. The connection between morality, ethics and spirituality is that they’re all based on the same thing, in different ways: the evolutionary pressure to thrive, survive and reproduce. So it is likely that at any one time, our behaviour can be seen to relate to all three at once (morality, ethics and spirituality).
July 18, 2017 at 11:41 am #3635
- This reply was modified 3 years, 6 months ago by Simon Paynton.
“a UK Muslim leader said that Islam is not an idealistic religion but a pragmatic one”
– I think what he means is, when cultural values and practices conflict with basic human goodness, Allah looks the other way.
It seems that Islam makes heavy use of “shame”, which suggests it is often indistinguishable from strongly held, traditional cultural values. The more we are controlled by our cultural milieu, the more potential there is for feeling shame.July 18, 2017 at 2:54 pm #3636
Simon: You and I agree that cooperation is an evolved trait in humans, more so than in almost any other species (not sure about bees and ants, for instance), and that most of human interaction has favored cooperation, and often self-sacrifice over direct competition or aggression, despite the common view that evolution favors aggression. But, as I point out in my book, competition,dominance and aggressive violence are also part of our evolutionary genetic make up and are responsible for millions of human deaths in wars. Sometimes even the warlike behavior of individual soldiers is related to otherwise cooperative tendencies including sacrificing one’s life for the group. So both tendencies comprise the human personality. In terms of national policies, police behaviors, and reactions to strangers, much of our behavior historically and and present contains aggression and the question for those who espouse nonviolence is how to prevent the aggressive side from becoming the policy of our communities. That is where culture comes in, since cultlural influences will determine whether or not we pursue violence, at least on a national scale, and even if cooperation is built into our genome, it will dominate or not dominate expression in our behavior in any particular situation based on cultural influences. Spiritual ideas are part of culture and have influenced both nonviolent and violent approaches to interpersonal and international relations. Most people have some spiritual ideas or intuitions and it may be a natural tendency to develop such, since it is hard to find cultures, historically, that have not had them, although they have often been a source of violence as well as kindness. But the fact that humans have a tendency to be spriritual, does not mean that being spiritual is either something that characterizes every human, or that it is necessary in order for one to have a moral or ethical theory that favors nonviolence over violence as a way of solving problems. I have tried to show that one can favor nonviolence as both a practical and an ethical stance without resorting to a spiritual justification for it. Most arguments for nonviolence are spiritual ones (as are many arguments for war, captial punishment, and honor killing), which leaves the impression among many that being atheist (not just nonreligious, but also nonspiritual) precludes having a moral basis for being nonviolent. That just isn’t so.July 18, 2017 at 3:38 pm #3638
@caseydorman – you could technically say that if you like, but it seems perverse to deny the elephant in the room, it’s like trying to deny the colour blue, it’s an integral part of the picture, which is not complete without it.
I think you’re trying to squeeze reality into an atheist-shaped box: to start with a premise (“classical atheism is correct”) and then set out to prove that premise, no matter how many elephants have to be ignored.July 18, 2017 at 3:50 pm #3639
I think you are arguing against a position I have not taken. My argument is simply that spirituality is not a necessary condition for having a nonviolent moral philosophy. I take that position because many people have argued that one can’t have a moral philosophy that endorses nonviolence (or love or kindness), if one is an atheist, since spirituality must be the basis for such a philosophy. I disagree with that. I am not arguing that most people who endorse nonviolence are not spiritual, nor that most atheists are nonviolent, nor that atheism is superior to spirituality as a basis for a moral philosophy. The latter question depends upon one’s spritiual ideas and must acknowledge that being atheist is simply a state of nonbelief that does not imply any other belief system or philosophical position, since atheists are free to disagree with each other on everything except the existence of god.July 18, 2017 at 4:02 pm #3640
One doesn’t base his philosophy of nonviolence (or of many other things) on his atheism, since atheism is compatible with almost any nonreligious philosophy, including those that espouse violence. Instead, the atheist bases most of his personal philosophy on nonreligious ideas, which can include evolutionary ideas, humanistic ideas, politically liberal or conservative ideas, or even bigoted, racist ideas.July 18, 2017 at 7:42 pm #3642
“My argument is simply that spirituality is not a necessary condition for having a nonviolent moral philosophy.”
“many people have argued that one can’t have a moral philosophy that endorses nonviolence (or love or kindness), if one is an atheist, since spirituality must be the basis for such a philosophy.”
– I’m arguing for a third position: that spirituality is a necessary corollory, an inevitable consequence, of developing a theory of morality and ethics based on evolution and any other available ideas which fit the picture. Without spirituality, the moral philosophy is incomplete and lacks elegance.July 18, 2017 at 10:58 pm #3643
@casey – would I be correct in saying that by “spiritual ideas” you mean “supernatural ideas”, i.e. ideas that are built upon the scaffolding of religious thinking. Atheists (nonreligious) formulate their ideas with mature reason derived from enlightened thinking. I agree with almost all of what you have written. It is good work.
Personally I do not know what “spirituality” means. It is a “woo” word to me. It is too vague a term because it is never clearly defined (like a working definition of god) and is a term that everyone assumes is understood when it is used. I think it is too closely aligned with religion to be of any use as a term to describe anything that is nonreligious.
I do not see myself as having “a spiritual dimension”. I can be moved by great music or works of art, feel part of the immensity of nature when living off-grid in the forest or a myriad other experiences that can humble or amaze me. However I see all these as part of the human experience and I would not use the words “spiritual experience” to define how any of them make me feel. I think they are probably more “moving” or powerful experiences for an atheist when we can see that what is behind them is explained naturally.July 18, 2017 at 11:42 pm #3644
@reg – spirituality is hard to define, and also, has any number of different meanings. In this context, I define it as “a personal transformation for the better” and “the raw pressure to improve”.July 19, 2017 at 1:50 pm #3650
@reg ,@simon—when I refer to spirituality, I am talking about a belief in a supernatural dimension (one that does not obey the laws of matter and energy), usually which is thought to provide order to the universe, but, in the past, this may have been restricted to one’s local environment (e.g belief in the supernatural powers of local plants and animals in animistic cultures). Usually this is viewed as external to humans, but encompassing them in the sense that their lives are able to share it in some way. Nonbelief in spirituality does not deny an overriding order to the universe (nor does it assert it), but only that if such order exists it is material (energy and matter and higher order complexity) and, in principle discoverable by scientific methods and does not represent a consciousness or purpose, both of which are confined to living beings.
For most people, spiriuality is related to religion, although for some it is more vague and not identifiable with any anthropomorphic entity, which most religions posit. A personal experience may be profound and life changing and even radically different from everyday experience as in having visions, drug experiences or sudden mathematical, musical or other types of insights. I believe that all of such experiences can, in principle, be explained via biology, physics, and psychology and it is their interpretation as suggesting something outside of the normal workings of material substances, which might give them a spiritual dimension, but the spirituality, in such a case, is related to the interpretation, not to an explanation of the cause of the phenomena itself. This spiritual interpretation, as a belief, can and often does have an effect on behavior and that effect may be positive or negative, depending on one’s point of view. That said, this could well be an idiosyncratic definition of spirituality, since it appears to mean almost as many things as there are people who subscribe to it or deny it.July 19, 2017 at 2:08 pm #3653
@caseydorman – does your definition of spirituality motivate people to be nonviolent?
When people have complained to you that as an atheist, your lack of spirituality prevents you from having a nonviolent philosophy, what is their type of spirituality that they claim does make them nonviolent?July 19, 2017 at 2:28 pm #3654
@simonpaynton Good question and the answer is yes. In my book I provide some quotes by both Gandhi and MLK, Jr. with regard to their spirituality—one rooted in Hinduism and the other in Christianity—which underlay their belief in nonviolence. I believe that most of the leaders of nonviolent movements have had a religious basis to their work (e.g. Quakers). Those who challenged my own ability to subscribe to nonviolence without having a spiritual base comprised a group in which some members were Catholic and others had a more vague “transcendental force” definition of their spirituality, which they accessed partially through meditation. They expressed that, without some belief in a force higher than oneself, which provided an insight into the the true nature of humans and the world they lived in, it was not possible to justify a belief that people should not express violence toward one another, or to sustain the motivation to participate in nonviolent resistance. I’m sure their belief was more complex and deeper than I have characterized it, but we didn’t discuss it further. We ran into some difficulty when they insisted that all official pronouncements from our group contain reference to the spiritual basis of our mission and I objected that they could fail to gain the support of many nonviolent atheists in doing so. They insisted that there was no such thing as a nonviolent atheist and when I pointed at myself, they asserted that I might not be religious, but I was spiritual because I believed in nonviolence, and that my only problem was that I didn’t realize it. Their argument seemed circular to me.
July 19, 2017 at 2:52 pm #3656
- This reply was modified 3 years, 6 months ago by caseydorman.
@reg – spirituality is hard to define, and also, has any number of different meanings.
Simon – it is difficult to define precisely because it has any number of different meanings. It is not a word that describes anything in the natural world. If it had a specific meaning it would relate information but the very fact that it does not makes it a “woo” term.
“The raw pressure to improve” is not improved by assigning a “spiritual” angle to it. Just using the words “the raw pressure to improve” is enough.July 19, 2017 at 3:05 pm #3657
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