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February 12, 2010


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Being human, just something we do until we discover a better option!

Yes it seems imperfection is central to being human or the human condition.

Its also questionable whether one should moralise at all, precisely because every single human is imperfect.

Tho i would be a hypocrite for suggesting this, since i've no doubt my own strong moral code formed by conditioning. But one wonders if this morality is wise or useful. Is it correct to export your values onto others, however right they may seem?

Taoism appears to be one of the few philosophies that does not seem to moralise.

I recently read a short story by Edgar Allan Poe called "The Black Cat". It was for me shockingly brutal in how the narrator describes with total honesty how despite having a seemingly humane gentle kind disposition, he performs acts of violence against an animal that dotes on him, and he does so seemingly just to see just what cruelty he is capable of, half-knowing while performing his repulsive act that it will destroy him over time by working on his guilt.

When ppl ask if there is evil in the world and they look to infamous individuals to embody it, there really is something far more complex and unfathomable about the human psyche at work, which even more disturbingly, would seem is possibly deeply rooted in even the most docile of us. Some seem to have realized this or at least are more accepting of it than others. I don’t know how accepting I am of it.

Like most of us, it appears religions have realised that the human condition is by nature imperfect and hence its teachings are offered as morals to curb such baser instincts.

However, is it natural to curb one's instincts? Animals don’t do so. But some would perhaps explain humans as different from animals in having an ability to moralise provided by our more highly developed intellect as a means of living together in a more efficient way.

The religious seem to go further tho and create the concept of an inner soul that is what really separates us from the animal kingdom. Presumably, it is thus these souls or inner atman that are our perfect original nature’s, which seem so central to religion.

in short, religion is man's first attempt to explain the unexplainable.

The human mind appears to be almost unfathomable and limitless in its potential, and its this instrument which governs our behaviour within a seemingly unfathomable limitless universe.

Religions are the original existentialist. What is it all about? Surely there is some greater purpose that gives sense to all this random ephemeral madness?

The atheists say no. It just is what you see.

Tough one.

George, I've been reading (and enjoying) a book about non-dualism that talks about how everybody is doing what "causes and conditions" lead them to do. In the author's opinion, which I generally share, free will is an illusion.

Einstein agreed. He said (roughly) "I will to light my pipe. But what wills that will?"

Meaning, we're all enmeshed in a limitless web of causes and effects. No need to posit "karma" from past lives. Material/physical influences are plenty limitless enough.

So, from this viewpoint, what someone considers to be right or wrong depends on the particular causes and conditions that have operated upon them. And which they are adding to every moment by new actions, decisions, and what not.

Nothing changes with this understanding, which is eminently scientific. But it does, or at least could, help us to be more understanding of other people's actions, less judgmental, even if we disagree with them. We're all doing what we feel needs doing.

Your reasons may not make sense to me, just as my reasons may not make sense to you. But in the end, there's no end to the reasons. We'd have to go back to the big bang, and maybe beyond, to fathom every cause and effect in the cosmos.

yes Brian free will is another extremely interesting question, which go round and round one's head - sometimes i think i've found a position i agree with but then its made more powerfully another way.

I would be interested in that book you are reading. However, the issue of cause and effect is not totally clear either, since if the big bang theory is right and self-contained there is no cause for the banf itself. Thus, in this model or of an eternal universe there is something beyond cause and effect.

But yes, i agree with you the ramifications of what seems to even be a cause and effect world potentially become far too big for us to make sense of.

I guess, what really blows my mind, is how everything seems to change, as the buddhists have it, everything is in some state of flux. Ppl lives are over in the blink of an eye and there's nothing to remember them by after a few generations. Nothing lasts, given enough time, of which there is plenty, not even love or memory.

I guess this thinking is quite overwhelming, the nihilist believe there is no meaning to any of it, and its tempting to believe this, certainly for me it is, but i prefer the existentialists who try make meaning of what they have, to create their own values as it were in their life as you seem to be hinting at and perhaps its something that comes with age and more wisdom and control over one;s own mind.

I have recently found my way to your blog and just wanted to say thank you.

Steve Mays

I too recently hit upon this notion of the imperfection of everything, and embracing it. Linguistically I think we are tricked into thinking things are normative. But we do not generally grasp that biological things have so much genetic and developmental uniqueness. The gene pool holds a lot of alleles and recombination throughs them into unique configuarations. Throw in a bit of mutation and cross over and youve got your "typical" specimen. We form a concept around the typical and it takes a long time to figure out that just because something can be typified by naming it does not really mean those things are the same. Manufactured products are the same but biological entities are never the same, each is really individualistic. And in the individualism is a huge huge huge amount of imperfection. Tis the nature of the beast, or beasties. All biologicval creatures are imperfect. Does this hold also with abiotic nature? What about crystals for instance. Most diamonds are "flawed". most slabs of granite have irregularities that make them unsuitable as countertops. etc. Thus what do we even mean by perfection? We simply mean a deviation from the conceptual typification. Moving from typified, idealistic, even mathematical forms of thinking is essential for intellectual maturity. It is important to understand the difference between an inductive versus a deductive world view. Evolutionary existentialism embraces a non-typifying way of viewing the world. This allows sharper and more accurate perception of particularity.

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