Principal difference between classical and modern ethics

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Re: Principal difference between classical and modern ethics

Postby Gaius Curtius Philo » Thu Jun 29, 2017 7:55 am

Plato, through Socrates, actually speaks of the notion of Good or Virtue as something innately better than vice when it comes to a Good Life. He uses an alegory of man that has a ring that turns him invisible, effectively shielding him from the consequences of any evil act he makes. The logic came in the end to the conclusion that living a life of vices did not make a person happy, because they become a slave to these vices. They lose their Free Will by over indulging on primal urges.

I agree with him in that. I believe eating good food is great, having sex is grand, getting paid a good sum is awesome, seeing someone you hate go down is pleasureable. All these things bring Joy. But joy is effemiral, short lived. It isnt Happiness. Happiness comes from serenity. Comes from peace. Comes from a moderate lifestyle. The excesses bring us pain in the end, shorten our lives, make us paranoid, gives us enemies, etc. Although we can all die young and horribly independently of our Virtue, it is the question of dying in a car accident or dying eating poison. One was an act of Fortuna, the other of our own volition.

Moderation, Virtue, ""Good"", is the essence of a Good Life in my opinion. Although everyone can be in a different point of this "life belt" of Virtue (of which the poles are the vices), it is still important in my view that we stay in this habitable zone where true happiness can spring.
"Ignis aurum probat" - Seneca
C. Curtius L. f. Vot. Philo Aurelianus
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Re: Principal difference between classical and modern ethics

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Fri Jun 30, 2017 9:30 am

Aeti, there is one sentence you said, which summarizes the difference between classic and modern ethics:
There is no reasonable grounds to be good

This was exactly, what I was talking about. You are holding "to be good" as a transcendental idea, something that needs no explanation or justification. This makes you a modern moral philosopher. This way of thinking started with Chdistianity, with some tendencies already visible in late Stoics an Neoplatonists as you correctly pointed out. Both philosophies developed more and more pantheistic features. For the Christians there was their god for the Neo-Platonists the "One" who defined, what was good.
Now"God is dead", to say it with Nietsche's words, but the concept of "good" remains.

Curtius Philo gave the answer of classical philosophy: "To be good" is necessary for happiness.
This is the way I think too, because I feel alien in the modern world. The classic way of thinking is far more familiar to me.

Regarding "the good" I define it through a point of reference. There is no absolute "good". It needs always to be added for whom it is good. This is the point of reference.
What you, Atius, mean with " good" is good for the community. So the community is the reference point here.
There may be a conflict between good for me and good for the community. And as you said, it is reasonable to choose the former over the latter.
But nobody can want a society built on this principle of selfishness. This is why all agree on laws and a social contract based on what is good for this community. These laws make that "good for me" and "good for the communith" becomes identical due to the fear of punishment. To live in fear is not good for me, therefore I act as a good member of society. And even without fear of punishment I will also be encouraged by the reward of having improved my reputation in the community.
This is what reason and logic demand.
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Re: Principal difference between classical and modern ethics

Postby Gaius Florius Aetius » Fri Jul 07, 2017 10:46 pm

Ok let me try a totally different approach.

As you know I am a Thelemite, and it remains through all the decades the system of ideas that makes the most sense to me. First, let me expound a bit on how this puts the various philosophies and views into perspective.

For Thelemites, there are so called "Prophets", and these are not meant in the sense of "seers", but as conduits of a divine idea, a perspective. A Prophets "reveals" or "creates" a New Truth. Now whether he reveals it as a given to him, or creates it is in this case irrelevant, as from the thelemitic view creating and getting are the same. It is a complex idea, not easy to explain without explaining the whole system. Crowley argued, every person is a true image of God, and as such we can only create what is in our image and as such in the image of the Divine. EVEN the horrors we create. There would be Prophets larger and smaller. The larger would be people like Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius asf, who shape entire cultures for centuries to come with a New View or "New Truth" created and revealed. Then there would be lesser Prophets, who often are Artists, Poets, Writers. As the Gods are many and each have a different character, so every Prophet would focus, highlight and reveal certain aspects of reality, truth from a certain point of view, and their uttering of the idea would be attuned with one divine energy and as such move people to follow this idea.

As such, all these perspectives are truths - from a certain point of view. None of them are by and in itself more true, they are merely different angles, like Hermes sees the world different than Mars or Apollon. The problem comes, that from the Divine to the Man, the "message" or "idea" becomes corrupted. First, because the Prophet, being a mortal man, is of course prone to flaws in his character, so while he gets the True Message, he may distort it due to his flaws and the flaws of his era. And then of course his followers, who are not attuned with the Energy, distort it further, as for examples St.Paul already greatly began to alter the message of Jesus. So I see the various spiritualities and philosophies as such: different Truths, created and manifested by different "Prophets", that moved people. There is, as I see it, in part a plan, and in part these different Truths are "fighting it out", in a Darwinistic sense, so that over a very long stretch of time, the better ideas win. And there is the element of the New Eons, the Great Prophets which bring a great new view.

And that is the Second Point I am quite certain about: there was an Eon of Osiris, as it is called in Thelema, the Eon of the Sacrificed God. The view was based on the spiritual idea that the Sun dies at the end of the day, and end of the year, and thus the ruling spiritual concept became that of Sacrifice and Rebirth, as the myth of Jesus exemplifies. This became the New Truth, and was 1904 replaced by the "Eon of Horus", where again a New Truth is revealed, and that is: the sun never dies. Death and suffering are "illusions". They are real only in the relative sense of where you are: on the shadow side of the Earth, but it is the Earth that casts the shadow, the sun does not need death and rebith, and as such the Divine within us is always there, we do not need Salvation. The Law now is, that Every Man and Every Woman has a True Will, and if he or she follows his True Will, the Cosmos is in balance, and conflict only arises, when one or more do not know or follow their True Will. In this, "Every Man and every Woman is a Star", as star are suns, and each being has the Right and Privilege to his True Will, undisputed. I very firmly believe in this, and the importance of this.

Good is there: find and follow your True Will. Evil is: ignore your True Will and hinder that of another. Interfere with another. Spiritual Messages, new laws of the eons, as ever you want to call it, are stepping stones on humanity developing. These never go without conflict, and that this is so is no disprove, but necessity. I can not write the entire Thelemitic view in one article here, but I have always fallen back to the view, that each being has his True Will, his pathway, and only to find and manifest this, is what we ought to do. The worth of every other system, philosophically, spiritually, political, cultural has its worth insofar as it helps people to find and manifest their True Will, come closer to it, and has no value or is hindrance insofar it leads people away from their True Will and makes people interfere in the Will of another. That is what over 30 years has made the most sense to me. I use other Philosophies, but only insofar as they are a crutch, a help between the chaos of not knowing your Will and knowing it, for one does not easily step from here to there, of course. But that is where I stand. I am a Thelemite. I profoundly and deeply believe in the truth and value of the philosophy, as I see it as apex and solution to every previous mess in philosophies and spiritual systems, where all the Gordian Knots fall apart.
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Re: Principal difference between classical and modern ethics

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Sat Jul 08, 2017 9:17 am

A very interesting view that I have not been familiar with
But Crowley's system seems to lack any ethics. You can declare anything your True Will. The True Will of a drug lord might be being a drug lord, does it make it ethically acceptable? The True Will of Pol Pot might have been ridding Cambodia of intellectuals, does it make slaugthering a third of the population ethically acceptable?

The True Will seems to be a totally arbitrary asumption, not based on reason. It would be impossible to reach an agreement, when two people claim to follow their True Will.
Following his True Will may resolve psychological conflicts within one person, but not conflicts between persons.
Crowley seems to have replaced the Stoic rule "Follow nature" with the more radical "Follow your nature". Then everybody is free to decide what " his nature" is. The idea may be driven by the goal to achieve eudaimonia, but this form of eudaimonia would only last as long as he does not run into conflict with others, which would be very short-lived.
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Re: Principal difference between classical and modern ethics

Postby Gaius Florius Aetius » Sat Jul 15, 2017 3:44 am

I had discussed this problem wide and far with fellow Thelemites, the consensus seems to be, that your True Will can never be to hinder another. I would assume politically Crowley would today be a libertarian: allow as much as possible, forbid only what absolutely must be forbidden. A bit like Lao Tse's Taosim: every attempt to form people will deform people. There is an emphasis on simplicity, non consumerism. Thelema is a very demanding discipline for the individual and NOT "do what you want". Thelema requires a strong personal disciple, the 2nd Tenet after "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law" is "Love is the Law, Love under Will", meaning the nature of the cosmos is love. Thelema is the overcoming of the Ego, is a sense similar to Buddhism, though the Inner is less of a "Nirvana". Being bound to the Ego is not "will". As to the idea of society, let me bring this parable from him:

"81 LOUIS LINGG

I am not an Anarchist in your sense of the word:
your brain is too dense for any known explosive
to affect it.
I am not an Anarchist in your sense of the word:
fancy a Policeman let loose on Society!
While there exists the burgess, the hunting man, or
any man with ideals less than Shelley's and self-
discipline less than Loyola's-in short, any man
who falls far short of MYSELF-I am against
Anarchy, and for Feudalism.
Every "emancipator" has enslaved the free."

From: The Book of Lies


The bottom line seems to me: there is no "solution" for society. Both Lao Tse and Crowley, as many other spiritual seekers, imply that society runs in circle as it always does. The Sage seeks his own enlightenment, and remains untouched by that. I made a purposeful decision, NOT to ignore society and that is where I differ from Crowley. I think it is necessary to create a set of ethics for the "low man", who is not on the path of enlightement. I wrote a Book, my own philosophy, but as I grow older now, I wonder more and more if Crowley and Lao Tse were not more right, and as the world seems to be jolly to enter a new Dark Age, the time may come where I turn my back in the world and return caring only for my enlightenment. Even today already, I am cultivating a distance to the world for the mere sake of my sanity.


19. Realize the Simple Self

Banish wisdom, discard knowledge,
And the people shall profit a hundredfold;
Banish "humanity," discard "justice,"
And the people shall recover love of their kin;
Banish cunning, discard "utility,"
And the thieves and brigands shall disappear.
As these three touch the externals and are inadequate,
The people have need of what they can depend upon:

Reveal thy simple self,
Embrace thy original nature,
Check thy selfishness,

Lao Tse

Did you read Lao Tse? The best translation is, IMVPO the version of Lin Yutang "The wisdom of Laotse" which comes with stories of Juang Tse. Alas in German out of print, only rarely as used book, which is a true shame. Lao Tse's Tao Teh Ging is the book I probably read more often than any other book. As Londo Mollari from Babylon 5 said: I am fast approaching apathy. Maybe the struggle for the "good world order" IS just an illusion, a trap. Seems we get pretty nowhere, or so it seems these days, and I weight my chance to make a change to my spiritual wellbeing right now. And as an Adeptus of the Occult: maybe changing just myself DOES more than preaching to the wind? Maybe there are synergies of energies? Who can say. Or maybe the fool's circle of the world is meant to be as it is, a golden era and a fall and the circle revolves for monkeys and fools?
Advice is judged by results, not by intentions.

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Re: Principal difference between classical and modern ethics

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Sun Jul 16, 2017 5:17 pm

Yes, I read the Tao Te Ching. It was meant as an advice for a ruler not to interfere (Wu Wei) with anything. This is the classical Laissez-faire approach of Libertarianism.
I am surprised. I thought you do not agree with Libertarians, because you argued once that the individualistic society of Libertarianism depends on a well organized and highly developed society, while as soon as the order in this society collapses, it will default to collectivism, not to individualism.

Thelema is a LHP (Left Hand Path) religion, as far as I know. It also emphasizes the individual. So it goes into the same direction. Does Crowley really refer to some kind of pantheist concept of "love"? Does he not rather refer to love between individuals? Pantheism would certainly be RHP by definition.

There is a short-sighted view that it would be reasonable for the individual to be selfish, because altruism is not beneficial for him. Although it is true that altruism per se is not reasonable, cooperation is indeed more beneficial for the individual than having to do everything alone. A strictly individualistic society cannot develop higher than the hunter and gatherer level. Already agriculture requires cooperation. An individual could not protect his farm against intruders who simply eat what is growing there.
So if we do not want to live as hunters and gatherers we need to cooperate and come to agreements so that everybody benefits. This is what ethics should be about.
Modern ethics is simply assumed to be altruism. The more altruist a deed is, the more ethical it is assumed to be.
Classical philosophers usually did not argue like this. For example in Plato's Politeia he has Socrates in a dialogue with the sophist Thrasymachos, where he explains why injustice is logically self-contradictory. He does not argue with the value of altruism, nor with a divine commandment for virtue, nor with unalienable natural rights. He listens to Thrasymachos' arguments, which are based on the moral relativism of the Sophists and refutes them by reductio ad absurdum .
And this is what makes Plato a better philosopher than the thinkers of Enlightenment, or Nietzsche or Crowley or Sartre. They all start from postulating something. Socrates postulates nothing. He points out the logical inconsistencies in the postulates of his opponents and then presents a consistent alternative.
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