Principal difference between classical and modern ethics

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Re: Principal difference between classical and modern ethics

Postby Gaius Curtius Philo » Wed Jun 14, 2017 5:35 pm

Yes, but we must also remember that even the objects subdivide amongst themselves, between many differing and contradictory factions. It is one of the reason the Objects are the less powerful segment of the Community, even though they are the most numerous. The goal of the Constitution, in that sense, would be to create common ground among the Objects and protect each segment's freedoms. For example, if some objects of one strata wanted to break away another strata into a second class order, abusing them with harrowing levels of taxation, or burdening them beyond what it is reasonable, even if they convince the Subjects they shouldn't be able to commit this injustice. Thus a constitution must provide protection for all. If it privilages the rich it becomes an Oligarchy. If it privilages the poor it becomes an Ochlocracy, or a democracy as Aristotle would say. Both forms of government perpetuate poverty and inhance unhappiness to all so all must be done to maintain the balance of power in a way that this degeneration does not occure.

Here I'd like to bring us back to Aristotle. In his view there were three forms of good government and all of them would inevitably degenerate to their corrupted forms. The pure forms are: Monarchy, Aristocracy and Politeia/Republic. The corrupt forms are: Tyranny, Oligarchy and Democracy (or if one would prefer a term less loaded with modern ideology, Ochlocracy).

A corrupt state is one in which the governing body or the body with most influence works towards their own goals instead of the greater good of a community. While a pure or virtuous form is one in which the greater good of the community is sought.

The state usually begins with a Monarchy. One person calling the shots. It is the most natural and instinctive form of government that all nations degenerate to in times of crises. As the people are seperated they feel the need for a strong leadership to bring them away from chaos. So they choose a strong leader to rule over them. The Monarch. This constitutes the Rule of One.

But as time goes by (many times within a single generation, or not even that), Monarchy would fall to Tyranny. That would result in the Monarch ruling for his own benefit, making the citizens de facto slaves even if not de juri.this is the best of all the corrupted forms in my opinion, because it is the easiest to topple and the clearest evil.

With the toppling of the Monarchy comes the Aristocracy. The Rule of the Few. These are the Aristoi, the Best, the Virtuous. It is a rule in which few men control the country, but in which their power comes from their virtue and valor. They are in power because they are the best. This degenerates to Oligarchy, in which the rule of the country is seized by a small group for their own benefit and in which the greater population has no real access to power. In Oligarchies usually the Richest control the power. This is the form of government that most countries are in right now (including many western countries). It is one of the hardest to topple because it can create the illusion of legitimacy very easily and since there is no One fixed enemy it can successfully divide the Objects in a way that they are rendered useless.

But sometimes even they are toppled and power then either reverts to Monarchy, goes to Tyranny or goes to the virtuous or corrupt form of the Rule of Many, Politeia and Ochlocracy. Probably the worst form of government of them all. Politeia is marked by its unsustainability. In requires a virtuous population that is well educated, engaged in politics and yet free from excesses of emotion and irrationality... In other words it os a fantasy at best. It usually degenerates quickly if not immediately to Ochlocracy. Ochlocracies are probably the hardest (though it competes very firmly with Oligarchy) of the corrupt states to topples, because its FOUNDATIONS seem good and just. How could the rule of the majority ever be unfair or wrong? You could ask that to Socrates' disciples that saw the good man die... Ochlocracies permanently maintain people in poverty, because it tyrannizes the rich to such a point that no one is capable of amassing fortune. As such, no grand investments are possible without Public funds. And it is the very nature of Public funds that make them useless for the most part (since no one invests with other people's money wisely). In that sense the state devolved into chaos, incapable of maintaining a minimum standard of living and trying to control all at the same time, falls to demagoguery and anarchy. This, Ochlocracy, is in my opinion the current state of many western countries. With that usually rises again a Monarchy to take its place.

Although I do not think any western country is purely a Rule of One, Few or Many (as it tries with little effect to balance the three) I think they do tend to proeminently either be Oligarchies or Ochlocracies. Why is that so?

I believe it is so because the powers at be did not divide the power correctly among the constituent parts. In this sense I am a follower of Realism, except not only in regards to International Relations but also to National Relations. Power must be divided in a way that none can truly supremely control the other. They tried to do this in many ways in developed countries: I) The division between the Judiciary, Legislative and Executive branches of government; II) The division between the President/President+Prime-Minister/Prime-Minister+King (Monarch), Politicians (Aristoi/Oligarchs) and Electorate (Politeia/Ochlocrachy).

The States now a days generally divide themselves in this sense as either Presidentialist States, Republican Parliamentary States and Parliamentary Monarchies.

The Presidential States tends to oscilate more between Monarchy/Tyranny and Aristocracy/Oligarchy, with a stronger emphasis on Monarchy.

Republican Parliamentary States tend to oscilate more between Aristocracy/Oligarchy and Politeia/Ochlocracy, with a stronger emphasis on Aristocracy.

Parliamentary Monarchies tend to balance out the three forms better than the other forms, because of the non-partisan nature of the Chief of State (they werent chosen by anyone but came from birth). In that sense Parliamentary Monarchy is the superior form of political organization. I can fundamentalize that more later on if you wish and if this does not convince you.

With that said, I still find Parliamentary Monarchy, as it is right now, to be only "the best among bad systems", because even it does not give the correct division of power, the emphasis simply varying between Monarchy-Aristocracy and Aristocracy-Politeia depending on the political climate.

For me the best place for us to look for a perfect system (in the limits of how perfect or ideal any system CAN be) would be one that fuses Parliamentary Monarchy with the Roman System of government.

The Romans at a given time were able to balance out all three forms quite nicely, although the technological limitation made it suboptimal and more prone to break.

How would that translate to today:

Monarchy - The State would have a hereditary Monarch that would have veto powers on legislation (that could be broken by an extraordinary majority of Parliament) and the power to unilaterally call for Plebiscits and Referenda (sent directly to the Popular Assembly). The Monarch would also give permission for government to form and, with the agreeance of a Prime Minister, be able to dissolve Parliament and convoke new elections. Similar powers granted to now a days Monarchs but with the added important contact with the People through Referenda and Plebiscits (sent directly to the Popular Assembly).

Aristocracy - The State would have a dully elected Parliament that would have the power to legislate. They would be able to, with the approval of the Popular Assembly, depose the Monarch.

Politeia - The People would be divided between three Assemblies. Each would represent a certain interest and certain capacity. The first assembly would be a monetary based assembly. People with more wealth would have more votes while people with less wealth would have less votes. They'd be divided in blocks of income, not by percentage of income, so even the richess person in the State would not have more than the equivalent of, say, 100 votes of the poorest. This assembly would be important to prevent the rise of Ochlocracy. It would be primarily responsible in electing half of the government body. All Federal Law would have to pass through this Assembly for it to pass. Also, all Constitutional Amendments would have to pass through this Assembly and the Popular Assembly (third Assembly) before it happens. The second would be a regional assembly, in which a given region would have one vote per region defined by the electorate. This Assembly would vote for the other half of the governmental body, to prevent Oligarchy, given that small regions and community can organize themselves electively without the need for great campaign funds. They would also need to be consulted (where it mattered) on all regional laws before it passes. The third body would be the Popular Assembly, that would be composed equally of all the citizens in the State. They would not elect anyone, since they are the most dangerous and volatile of all powers, but would be the legitimizing source of a Monarch's power (through Plebiscits and Referenda and through the necessity of their approval to depose a Monarch). They would need to be consulted for Constitutional changes as stated before. These three assemblies, in a Federal System, could be duplicated in the local level as necessary.

This would create a state in which the powers of Monarchy, Aristocracy and Politeia are in equal standing to one another and constantly watching one another. It would thus be the most stable system and the one hardest to abuse. In it, the Subjects and the Objects confuse themselves to a point of being One and everyone is subjected to everyone else in a different level. And if the premise of Egotism is true, everyone always searching to better their own lot in life, then by everyone having a part of the political control and needing the cooperation of everyone else, they would necessarily have to compromise and find a middle ground that is mutually beneficial for all.

Please tell me your opinion.
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Re: Principal difference between classical and modern ethics

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Thu Jun 15, 2017 11:15 am

This cycle of governments was also in Plato's Politeia.

The system that you suggested had a lot in common with the Roman Republic. The comitia are a little like the assemblies, the Senate acted like a parliament, only that there was no monarch. Augustus wanted the Princeps, the first citizen to act in the way you describe the monarch, but he could not prevent the office of Emperor from descending into tyranny.

A friend of us, Florius Aetius, who for unknown reasons has been absent in the forum for quite some time, said just these days that ths Roman Republic was the best form of government, becausr it united all three aspects of the cycle of government, monarchy, aristocracy and democracy.

The exact mechanism of government is not so important in my opinion. What is important is that the proper point of reference is used in every decision and that interests groups are limited in their influence by the main body of the republic, which must have the whole of the people as its reference point.
The constitution must not allow politicians to act in their own interests. Strong mechanisms to prevent this need to be established in the constitution.
Unfortunately the people, the Objects are the intellectually wrakest part. So they get easily cheated and establish suboptimal constitutions, where they are the losers at the end. They are not clever enough to see the loopholes of the constitution and the laws to eliminatd them. This is why the system is not stable.
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Re: Principal difference between classical and modern ethics

Postby Gaius Curtius Philo » Thu Jun 15, 2017 2:12 pm

Yes, unfortunetly it is so. That is why the Popular Assembly (that mimics the Consilium Plebis) is the most dangerous of the Assembleis and the one that should be less used. It is too easy to manipulate the people into supporting things that will only harm them in the long run. It is very very easy to do so.

I got inspiration from the Roman system of Augustus. But what I believe helps stop the Monarchy from descending into Tyranny is the lack of direct legislative power of the Monarch and the complete lack of Executive power. The Monarchy must have an Overviewing Power, a Moderating power, not a Governing power. Each piece needs to have the other's consent to work properly. The politicians need the consent of the monarch and the People (dully divided in the form I stated for their own benefit), the monaech needs the consent of the politicians and the People and the People needs the consent of the Monarch and the Politicians. Each of these parts must have enough POWER to influence the other strongly. If one is weaker than the other it becomes very easy for one kf the constituents to blame another for all the sorrows of the government and try and remove its influence entirely (like some blind or ill-willed Republicans do with their Monarchy in times of crisis these days). If the system only has two constituencies it becomes easy for them to simply do a tug of war until one side prevails, and that side is usually that of the Politicians. The three sides must have different, but EQUAL power for the system to work properly.
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Re: Principal difference between classical and modern ethics

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Fri Jun 16, 2017 9:17 am

As Plato's cycle of governments predicts, a monarchy eventually becomes an aristocracy.
Indeed in all countries with a monarch he loses power over time until his position is only of ceremonial meaning and the nobility is stronger than him. We see this phenomenon in Japan with its 3000 years of history, we could see it in the Sacrum Romanum Imperium that lasted 1000 years and we see it in the British monarchy. It seems to be a law of nature.
The reason is apparently that not all monarchs are as strong as the first one. Especially when children have to succeed their father at a very young age, they become the puppets of their regents and their courts who expand their own influence. Then even a strong successor cannot fully recover the ioriginal power of the monarch.
The only true way to preserve a political order and to prevent its decline into corruption is making the constitution immutual and sacred. Even the laws should not be changed. If everything is fixed in stone, it takes the human factor out of it. If an office holder cannot change anything, his power is limited and it does not matter much who he is. The question of succession or election becomes of little importance.
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Re: Principal difference between classical and modern ethics

Postby Gaius Curtius Philo » Fri Jun 16, 2017 2:42 pm

Gaius Florius Lupus wrote:As Plato's cycle of governments predicts, a monarchy eventually becomes an aristocracy.
Indeed in all countries with a monarch he loses power over time until his position is only of ceremonial meaning and the nobility is stronger than him. We see this phenomenon in Japan with its 3000 years of history, we could see it in the Sacrum Romanum Imperium that lasted 1000 years and we see it in the British monarchy. It seems to be a law of nature.
The reason is apparently that not all monarchs are as strong as the first one. Especially when children have to succeed their father at a very young age, they become the puppets of their regents and their courts who expand their own influence. Then even a strong successor cannot fully recover the ioriginal power of the monarch.
The only true way to preserve a political order and to prevent its decline into corruption is making the constitution immutual and sacred. Even the laws should not be changed. If everything is fixed in stone, it takes the human factor out of it. If an office holder cannot change anything, his power is limited and it does not matter much who he is. The question of succession or election becomes of little importance.


That can help but that presents its own problems. We must always consider our own ignorance and lack of forsight. We cannot assume our view of a good constitution shall work when in practice and shall do so in any given time. There should be SOME form of editing it, but it should be very hard. Canada's solution seems to be the best. It is PRACTICALLY impossible to edit the constitution, but it still is possible. It just needs the agreeance of ALL provinces.

One way we could have it is that it needs the approval of Parliament, the Monarch, all the Constituincies of the country and all the Assemblies by unanimaty.
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Re: Principal difference between classical and modern ethics

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Sat Jun 17, 2017 10:49 am

True.
It would theoretically be impossible to make a constitution unchangeable, if there is an unanimous consensus for a change. The provinces of Canada in this example could just dissolve the union and create a new one with a different constitution, if there is a consensus.
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Re: Principal difference between classical and modern ethics

Postby Gaius Florius Aetius » Mon Jun 26, 2017 9:39 am

Ok let me chime into your duolog here, hehe.

Since Gaius Philo seemed to desire to speak against someone I am most happy to provide this. Contrary to my esteemed cousin Florius Lupus, I am of the opinion that modern philosophy and ethics greatly contributed, and also I would argue against the notion that Christianity is such an alien element to the classic view.

First to the last. It is a common view among many Polytheists and in general people who feel connected to classic philosophy, that Christian ethics and philosophy came as a sort of totally alien set of ideas, and IMVPO this can not be further from the truth. C.Lupus when he summed up Classic Philosophy as merely the "Good Life" of the Epicureans, when in fact during the largest part of the Roman Era, the most influential schools of thought were in truth Stoicism and Platonism. Even the Aritotelian school of "virtue as balance" had fallen out of fashion in the classic world and was more a fringe movement.

Now if you read the books of Marc Aurel, who expresses almost a disgust of bodily affairs and the writings of Seneca, you can see that the Stoa is really not so far away from the ethics of Christianity. Both Stoa and Platonism had the idea of a Prime God, as the LOGOS, the creator, although they did not consider this creator as something to be prayed to or asked for anything, there was in Late Antiquity the idea to identify Zeus with the Logos, and by the time of Emperor Julian, Zeus was often called "Creator" in the Platonic sense of the "One Creator God" or Logos. Even Cicero mentions the Logos as creative source, who was heavily influenced by both Platonism and Stoa. The entire Roman ethos of controlling yourself, of being modest (unlike the Greeks, who loved to boast), it is my view that the Christian ideas fell on very fertile ground among the Romans, and only few ideas seemed to be excentric. Both Platonism and Stoa have some very definitive ideas of the "perfect good" and thus also a "really bad", though it is less emotionally loaed as in Christianity, of course. For me, the proof, so to speak, is in the pudding. Christianity spread extremely rapidly in the Roman world, despite oppression and no support from the officials, because it attached quite well to a lot of central ideas of Platonism and Stoicism. The only difference is a sort of "world denial", which never was such a strong current in Christianity as a real manifestation, if you look how Church officials were usally very worldly people. So if you will it was only with Martin Luther that this sort of "puritan" Christianity entered the world stage, what many critics today say to Christianity, that it is a world denying religion, which it was in theory, but I never saw this as something that achieved any relevancy before the rise of Protestant Sects.


That said, I am a most vehement follower of modern Ethics. For me, the development that led to John Locke, to Rosseau's idea of the "Social Contract", society as an agreement of free people for mutal benefit, and the consequent development and declaration of the Human Rights, remain a pivotal and important view, which I wholeheatedly agree to. And this leads to the first point. If you read the sources of Platonism, but especially Stoicism, which was probably the most influential school in Rome, then you see this idea of individual human dignity already there. Both Seneca and Plutarch are very adamant about it, and these schools expand it to slaves and even animals. It was, as is so often the case, not at this time flowing into a change of law, as the shameful existence of slavery throughout the Classic Era so sadly demonstrates. But the idea was there, and I have little doubt that without Christianity the Western Society would have faced similar developments and political changes. I have said even before in debates, even if someone were to prove me that all these Humanitarian ideas came only from Christianity, which I can prove as I think, is not the case, even then I would decide to support them, for I see them as both logical and benevolent. The idea that we all come from the Divine Logos and as such all have intrinsic value and equal dignity, is a vital and important idea, behind which I would not want to fall back, and which I see was quite "in the air" in the basic concepts of Platonism and Stoa.

I can, as a sidenote, only recommend the very bright Prof. Jordan Peterson, who spoke at great length about the idea form a Christian perspective, even though he ignores, that many of these ideas were, as I said, already there. It is IMVPO a faux claim of the Christians, who after their take-over tried to display the "pagan" times in a very bad light, and that all their ideas were theirs, and that nothing like those ideas had been there before, which are simply propaganda lies, which alas too many Polytheists today also follow.

One thing Christianity did analyze right, and where, with all due respect, the Classic philosophers did not see fully right, is: the ultimate reality of life is pain. Not pleasure. While you can and should focus on the goods you want to achieve, they are very individual and subjective. Along the lines of pleasure you can indeed just come to a Libertarian view, which I find fascinating but ultimately unpractical and illogical to human nature. What we can NOT deny, no matter how "constructivist" we argue, is pain. Pain is very real and very troubling, that is how I would measure the ethics of a society: how does it minimize pain of everyone? How does it avoid harm? Of course the problem is, that it can be hijacked, like unfortunately the SJW did, so we do need the plain logic of Aristotle to balance it out. But the main problem of Libertarians is, that feelings are powerful, and you can not just ignore them without invoking calamity. In German there is the phrase "Eigentum verpflichtet" (Property oblieges) written in our constitution, that means that the Common Good can never be damaged by the individual greed or desire. (Something the Stoa already wrote about too.) Because the Society is whereupon the prosperity of the individuals depends. And this can be easily proven. An individual set out on an island like Robinson Crusoe would live in a very meager standard of living, while complex Civilization allows a considerably higher standard of living, and from that much greater freedom. Milton Friedman has rightfully pointed out that modern society of Freedom only has allowed the average people a standard of living, that in ancient Rome was only allowed to a few Senators because of Slave labour. So when the benefits of modern society are so plain before us, I find it hard to argue strongly against it in principle, even though I can see individual problems, of course.


So my suggestion, in a very Aristotelian way, if I may say so, would be: I do not want to rewind the clock. But we have see the Classics knew a lot of things, they could phrase them sometimes much clearer than modern thinkers, and we should not fall into the hubris to say, we know all better. But thinking has made progress also, namely the entire views of Enlightenment. I must admit, against the cheering for libertarian ideas I tend to be influenced too much by Thomas Hobbes "Leviathan" and Freud. I see human nature as at least in part destructive. People are not only seeking their good, they naturally desire to dominate, and even have a will to destroy, the Freudian "death desire", and I think our times and the aggression of SJW and Antifa shows this desire to "see the world burn" is a very strong tendency in human nature, one where I rather want to see a good and strong government, because THAT is what guarantees true freedom: the freedom that I can leave the house without being afraid to be slain on the streets.
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Re: Principal difference between classical and modern ethics

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Tue Jun 27, 2017 5:46 pm

Salve, Gai Aeti!

Welcome back in the forum! It is nice to see you here.

I have to admit that unfortunately the Stoics and the Neo-Platonists paved the way for Christianity. Stoic writings even inspired many medieval monks. Your description explains quite well how the thinking of antiquity gradually transformed into Christian teachings. Of course Christianity did not suddenly fall from the sky and changed the world in an instant. It was a slow process of decline of classic philosophy.
It was Neo-Platonism, not so much the original teachings of Plato who were pantheistic. It was only in one dialogue (Timaeus) that Plato mentioned a creator of the world called "the demiurge". And these words were not even spoken by Plato's main protagonist Socrates. Therefore it is not quite clear whether or not Plato shared this view. The demiurge was later integrated into Gnosticism, but rather as a negative entity, the evil creator of the material world.
Later Stoicism too had this pantheistic concept. And in late antiquity the concept of virtue had become more and more transcendental and independent from any rational argument. It had become the transcendental "Good" and could almost seamlessly pass into the medieval world of Christianity. So the Doctores Ecclesiae could even declare Socrates, Plato and the Stoics some kind of predecessor of Christianity.
There is not even a difference regarding "world denial". I think you misunderstand the nature of the early Church, Aeti. It was very much focused on asceticism and monastic life, certainly more than the Stoics. The Cynics and Diogenes were the "world deniers" (ascetics), not the Stoics. Just think about Seneca who was often criticized for his accumulation of wealth. And the early Church was quite different from the Renaissance Church whose political ambitions and desire for luxury triggered the Reformation.

But this is not as Platonism and Stoicism started. They started like the Epicureans with the question: "What is the good life?" This is quite different from the Christian question: "What is good?", the same question that is still asked by modern moral philosophy.
I cannot see where you think that classic philosophers overlooked the problem of pain. The avoidance of pain was everything Epicurean teachings were about. And this is were Epicurus made a mistake. He totally ignored positive pleasure. The existence of pleasure is undeniable. It is a quale that every consciousness can experience. The result was his withdrawal from the world and any active life. A strictly rational philosophy has to consider pleasure as much as pain and suffering.

I agree with you that the state as contrat social and the resulting human rights are important for our society, but not because they are transcendentally "good", but because they are reasonable. They are reasonable, because they are based on an agreement of all members of the state. They agree to them, because otherwise they would have to be afraid to become victims of violence themselves one day. They agreed to them for their own benefit. And as a result we can see that societies that respect the rights of their members are usually more prosperous than tyrannies.

We cannot attempt to impose our "Human Rights" on the world, because we think they are "good". What someone assumes to be "good" is arbitrary. Islam for example rejects the Western concept of human rights. They have their own Cairo Declaration instead, which is based on the Quran and the shariah.
To believe that something is "good" and another thing "evil" is no foundation for a consensus. A consensus must be rational and based on reason in order to be agreeable for everybody, because only reason is universal.

To defend the Libertarian view, there is no inherent obligation that comes with property to do "good". Obligation comes from power. If there are no laws that limit the possessions of people, then it is logical for them to use it for their benefit. Anything else would be irrational. It would be logical however for those with fewer possessions to demand their interests to be considered in the social contract, if they have the power to support their demands, i.e. if they contribute something to the state.
Exempli gratia: It is reasonable for workers in a company to demand a higher salary, if they have enough power to support their demand. This means, if a strike would harm an employer more than granting a higher payment, then it would also be reasonable for him to agree to a salary rise. There is no transcendental obligation for him to rise the payment in order to be "good". The salary increase comes logically out of the power equilibrium between workers and employers. Only this way it is agreeable.
If it becomes ideological with workers demanding a socialist system or employers exploiting their workers. If this is the case we will get violence, because neither side is reasonable. Both sides believe in their version of "good and right" and are therefore unwilling to compromise.

This is the problem that we face today. The society is polarized, because each side believes in their version of "good". The SJWs believe they are on a sacred mission to bring salvation from injustice. The right-wing conservatives believe the divine order is threatened. They will never agree.
Only rationalism can lead to an agreement. Because reason is the same for everybody. Nature is rational. And going against Nature leads to failure. This is the message that classic Stoicism has for us: Living according to Nature! Living according to reason!
Out of reason comes virtue. Virtue or a transcendental "good" can never be the first principle. Virtue must be derived from reason.

Optime valete!
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Re: Principal difference between classical and modern ethics

Postby Gaius Curtius Philo » Wed Jun 28, 2017 4:09 pm

Salve Aeti!

Love to see you back with us and I am happy you are here to disagree with us. Without that there cannot be a true discussion. I will not continue the argument yet because I think that would make you have to address two arguments at the same time (mine and Lupus') which isnt practicle. Instead, I will just give a small comment in the direction of what Lupus said and wait till you answer him.

I believe the best form of government cannot be one that needs that Good People do good, but one that makes Vile and Evil People find it in their interest to do good. Only a rational system can do so. We cannot change human nature, nor expect our governors to impose a Good Order (what makes them different from the Wicked? What makes them more Good?). We must act in a way that we can exploit the wickedness of others for the good of mankind.
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Re: Principal difference between classical and modern ethics

Postby Gaius Florius Aetius » Thu Jun 29, 2017 7:03 am

What I critizise in Christianity as a Philospher is mostly, that it decided the dialogue to be ended, that is decided to have all the answers, and from there on, no debate was there. Where in the Classic era various schools of Philosophy were there, and debated about what was right and true, Christianity eliminated the "marketplace of ideas". That was the most terrible about it.

I myself see me more as creative Philosopher than subscriber to one, made by another. So I can not say, I follow this or that philosophy. A man who knows me very well and a long time once said to me, I am like a Tolkien Elf. Of these, it is said: never ask an Elf for advice, for he will say both yes and no. I always see all sides or too many sides of any issue to really be very decisive of one side. It may be either a character flaw or strength, and it surely made me less decisive than others.

There are however a few idea I strongly reject.

First and foremost world denial. I am to a large degree influenced by Nietzsche, and I still think he was very true attacking both Christianty and certain philosophers for their world denial. He attested even Socrates with that attitude that "life is worthless". A horrible way to think. I am just re-reading Marc Aurel, and he too has this world weariness. I can very much understand why one feels like this. I mean I am chronically sick so much that I cant work, I am poor, I am isolated and alone, so I'd have all reason to reject life, but I choose not to. I chose to enjoy what life offers. Sitting here driking a coffee now in the morning, while outside the birds chirp, and I can have great conversation with intellegent people here. I value the Classic philosophies for being way more practical and oriented on real life. Many modern philosophies are way too lofty for my taste, and seem more like a decay of true philosophy. (Sidenote: I also read with great enjoyment classic Chinese Philosophers.)

Second, I reject extremes. They spook me off on a personal level, and defy my sense that real life, reality is full of nuances, has many shades of grey. To give Marc Aurel a positive credit: he said there is rarely any issue that can be traced back to just one thing. That is why I am extremely sceptical when people say, it is the collectivism or the individualism which is either the blame or the solution for everything. If anything I am a pragmatic. Like Bismarck a realpolitik follower. I look at the individual case, the individual problem and look, what works, what makes sense. I understand solutions are always "for now" and never forever. So I am sceptical towards the idea we can create the one system, the one idea, that answers everything. Every generation deserves to find answers of their own, also. So when I usually call myself Centrist who is on "no side", it is more than just a wanton quirk, it is a stance made conscious of the realization that I reject ideology of any kind.


When I defend the declaration of Human Rights as universal, I do that not because I can defend their truth, but because I say: if we do not do this, we open a can of worms, too dangerous. So some ideas I defend for what they cause and not because I can prove them true. Like religion. I can not prove the Gods exist, but I CAN as Social Scientist and Historian argue, that it is not good for society of religion vanishes. In the same way I defend the Human Rights for what they cause, creating a belief, if you want, and having a humanizing effect on civilization, and given how many people suffer terribly, in its absence, I argue that the evil of imposing it is overridden by the good it does in easing the suffering of people. Since I vehemently do NOT hold all cultures as equally worthy, I have little ethical problems with removing bad cultural elements or oppressive and bad cultures from human history. I am in that aspect a "progressive", I guess. ;)

In the same way I CAN accept the ideas spread by Libertarianism; they do good insofar they make us alert against an overwhelming of the collective idea. But I would want neither the collectivist nor the individualist society as extreme. Here I am most close to Aristotle - and Apollo: Everything in moderation.


I am very much a proponent of logic - I prefer that term to rationalism. But there is also a pitfall, that Prof Jordan Peterson has pointed that out very well. There is no reasonable grounds to be good. In fact, the idea to cheat, rob and "myself first and to hell with everyone else" can be pretty reasonable. If you are on a field with any direction to go, there is no reasonable way to discern which way to go. It is in the end set by a CHOICE you make, the choice what to value. And value is highly irrational. What you decided to value always appears reasonable to you, of course. But without the idea, the faith in a transcendent value of each individual, I fear we would be pretty doomed. And I am not speaking from a Christian view, I am a Thelemite, who believes every being has his True Will, his dignity in this True Self or True Path if you wish. It just includes, that sometimes struggle and fight is necessary. Unlike a Christian, as Thelemite I understand that at times combat is part of the game, and the cosmos is by no means destined to be an always peaceful place. We NEED to test ourselves in the fight, because only in that way we can grow. That is my critique vs the Christian idea of Human Dignity: it puts too much emphasis on peace and harmony, which seem like unnatural ideas. But as Thelemite, I might fight the idea of the person, but I do not seek to "destroy" or humiliate the person. So I may fight another, but I do so chivalrous, like I would fight a brother who went astray, or a child, which I scold, but love. I remove anyone who interferes with my True Will, without mercy if need be. But I see it just as assuring my freedom to pursue my True Will, which is everyone's birthright, and I try not to load this with "good vs evil".

If I am anything, I am a Thelemite. I believe that understanding every man and every woman has his or her True Will and should pursue that, is the fundament to a better society, where we once and for all stop messing with the affairs of another, but be like chivalrous brothers (and sisters of course). So we help a fallen, like a knight would. But we do not degrade the other by pity, but help to walk and care for those who can't anymore, not in a sense of arrogance or collective force, but through a spirit of knightly greatness of mind and greatness of heart. The world is a place of misery for many, and it is a noble thing, for anyone, to lessen the misery of others.
Advice is judged by results, not by intentions.

- Cicero
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Gaius Florius Aetius
Apollinis Sacerdos
Apollinis Sacerdos
 
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Joined: Fri May 27, 2016 12:01 am
Location: Berlin, Germany

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