Charlotte Philosophy Discussion Group Message Board › HUMANIANITY: The Most Important Religion

HUMANIANITY: The Most Important Religion

Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,508
(Continued from previous post)


You seem to make some distinction between "you" and the "little gray cells" in your brain.
Your sense of self is created by your brain stem, your temporal parietal juncture, the language centers in the brain, and various other sections of the prefrontal cortex. That is not every single gray cell in my brain. There are plenty left over.
I am not quite understanding your point.

I had already formed an opinion earlier that Dennett has not solved the problem, but I did as you recommended and viewed a 1 1/2 hour video of a lecture of his, including the question and answer session afterwards, and noted that although he did a good job of presenting the problem, he did not really solve it, but instead used mixing of models and linguistic ambiguities, such that many people in the audience were either going to sleep or going into trances (this being a way to induce a hypnotic state). No one who spoke stated that they felt that he had actually solved the problem. Nor do I.
Well at least we both know the issue. I thank you for looking this up. I got a wondefull kick out of the audience myself. I cant say that they looked rivited.
And the reason is that he indeed did not solve the problem. It is not an easy problem. I still do not say that I have solved it, even though I continue to work on it.

Yes, of course, that happens. But just as was made quite clear in Dennett's lecture, the societal issue of the appropriateness of punishment is an extremely important issue that is dependent upon this philosophical problem.
And where determinism lies, often there lies with it the total disregard for responsibility.
The question is what the goal is. If we want to understand why things happen, we best use the deterministic model. This allows us to develop increasingly effective ways of preventing the problem from occurring. If we want to punish and get revenge, the free will model helps a lot to make us feel better.

There is an enormous amount of punishment and revenge taking place all over the globe, involving interaction within the family, between and among individuals out on the street, between groups, and between nations. So I cannot agree with your assessment. We are a very angry species.
Punishment and revenge are very simplistic ideas to tyr and expain most of peoples behavior around.
They are both purposeful infliction of PSDED. Punishment is "official." Revenge is peer interaction. They don’t constitute a complete explanation for anything, but they are, I believe, a very important part of the explanation as to why we are such an angry species. If I gave you two identical twin puppies and asked you to raise one to be affectionate, the other vicious, you would know exactly how to do it.

The picture you paint is not accurate. Yes, there have been attempts to help people that have been shown subsequently to be a bad idea, and mistakes are made at times in the appropriate use of treatments that work if done properly. What you said sounds like a very exaggerated, one-sided view of psychiatry.
Not accurate how? What precisely did I mention which psychiatry did not do? I dont feel that anything that I said was an exageration, all of those things are facts.
Your questions are appropriate, but would take us far afield. We are already having difficulty with the more central topic. Also, I don't think I could do a good job of answering those questions, because it would involve much data collection. Also, it is not likely that I would be convincing, for the same reason that people who believe in conspiracy theories cannot easily be convinced otherwise, nor can those who do not believe in them.

Self-actualization occurs in the context of relationships.
That is an overexaggeration. Yes often, but not always.
I can't think of an example of self-actualization not occurring in the context of relationships.

We regard everyone as having the right to his or her own opinion.
When judging what is appropriate I would hope that the judge does not have the right to force their opinions onto other people.
Advocacy is not "forcing" opinions on others.

-So how can you now use the word responsibility? Who or what is it that has made it our "responsibility" to behave "appropriately"? Who ascribes this responsibility and who decides what is appropriate? To me this sounds statement seems riddled with self certainy on how others should be bahving.-
We continually work on that as groups, the individuals in those groups expressing their opinions and those opinions being shared and compared with each other to see what makes the most sense.
Well that sounds horrifying. So the groups decide on what makes the most sense concerning how other people should be behaving?
groups are collections of individuals, and those individuals, because of their membership in and interaction with other members of those groups do indeed arrive at such opinions. We are still quite primitive—talking, hi-tech, very angry chimps.

That is up to the individual. But I agree that some individuals have been so programmed by their past experiences that they engage in self-defeating and self-destructive behavior that makes them less able to do their part to make the world a better place, not to mention all the suffering they endure.
We are not programmed. You remind me of Skinner when you talk about people as products and programs. Are you a behaviorist?
No. I am a Humanian.

We generally recognize that it is possible to be wrong, even though convinced that we are right. What helps is the sharing and comparing of ideas, getting feedback from others regarding what we ourselves may be overlooking.
Agreed.
Religions are slow to improve, I agree. They still are rather primitive, and do not have strong self-improving mechanisms within them. The requirement to believe as the rest of the group does tends to stifle improvement by stifling the influx of new ideas. However, if you look closely at the various religions, I believe that you can see some change for the better occurring. There are many inter-faith organizations and activities.
We'll back in the day they didnt have the ability to bomb as great a number of people, and they didnt have GPS systems making it easier to know how to go to your house and talk to you about their views.
Also more reason why our religions need to improve and get the bad out of them.

(Continued in next post)
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,509
(Continued from previous post)


This really depends upon your definition of religion, to a great extent. Religion does indeed do a lot of good, but the bad parts of it do a lot of bad. But if you look at science as being the study of the way the world works, with the payoff that it tells us how to do miraculous things, then religion helps us work on whether we should do those things are not. Science gives us nuclear power plants and nuclear bombs. Should we build them? Why? Those are appropriate questions for religion to help us with. But I agree with you that our current religions are very insufficient for doing a good job, with the exception of Humanianity.
ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!!! It is not religions job to hold any sway over what science should be doing. Religion should play no part in deciding the destiny of nuclear power plants or nuclear bombs. They didnt invent them, they played no part in their making, so the whole issue is one which they have no right to decide the appropriateness of. Concerning questions of whether mary rose bodily into heaven, if the bread and wine are really the blood and body of Jesus, what is the appropriate use of secular musical instruments during liturgical services......for those things yes. Not for the provinces of science.
We need to get the bad out of religions. You and I are using different definitions for religion. If we look at all things called “religion,” to try to find the common denominator so that we can use that as the defining characteristic, we see that all religions have in common that they are our effort to figure out how to live our lives, what is important in life, etc. Science helps to establish accurate existential beliefs (beliefs about how the world is, was, and will be, and what will happen if we do certain things), whereas religion helps us to arrive at ethical beliefs (beliefs about what I, you, we, they should do and not do). Our religions are still primitive, because we are primitive in the ethical area. Science has been and is the second exponential change. Our religions are still fairly close to what they always have been, a reflection of our basic chimpanzee-like nature, complicated by enormous anger because of our punitive child rearing. Rising above that basic animal nature in the area of our ethics will be the third exponential change. Yes, most religions also have some explanatory worldview left over from pre-scientific days. But those explanatory worldviews are not common to all the things we call “religion,” and they are not an essential part of religion. Religion does need science, however. Science without (good) religion and religion without science are both dangerous.

-Your mixing categories. I have already stated that there is a difference between improvement on the scale of the species and improvement on the scale of the individual. I am speaking of the species.-
Well then I probably do agree with you, in part in that science and technology allow us to share and compare ideas more easily and allow us to put new and better ideas into action. Science does far more than accident does. I guess I'm not clear on what you would consider to be a third alternative.
I dont have one and dont understand why one is needed.
I think I have lost the main idea here. So let’s say I agree.

-No I really dont, but I have read the page. I dont want to modify other peoples personal conduct, I only want others to admit to the concept that we should accept each other for our differences provided that we arent getting in each others way.-
But if they do not put that concept into action in the form of personal conduct, of what benefit is that admission? You are in many ways expressing your wishes as to how people should behave. And I agree with much of what you say.
I am expressing my belief that laws should be put in place to maximize personal liberty. All of my assertions have an overridding theme of increasing liberty. I am not intersted in changing the belief systems of others or of advocating certain ways of behaving. I only think that people should be left free to behave without any authorities telling them to modify themselves or change their ethics.
You certainly seem to be saying I should change mine.

-That to me is the only ethical concept that makes any sense. People can cause damage to other people, on purpose and accidentally. What if you improve JCA in a person who then goes out and shoots up a school?-
I don't understand. Are you saying that being good to a person causes them to shoot up a school?
Not at all. I'm saying that even good behavior can have unforseen circumstances. I'm saying that attempting to increase JCA does not always lead to positive results.
We live in a probabilistic world. There is no guarantee that our best efforts will be successful, with no unintended negative consequences. All we can do is do our best to predict all the outcomes of our contemplated behaviors, using as accurate beliefs as we can attain. It is a matter of playing the odds. Not trying, and being satisfied with the way things are, decreases the odds that we will make things better.

Why are you so much against people being self-righteous? What does "pushy" mean? Are you being pushy with your ideas in our discussion? You certainly are being persistent. But I welcome your efforts, because they assist in the clarification of ideas. And are you accepting of embezzlement and identity theft, neither of which are violent?
Because look at the results that self righteous people cause. That is what happened to the Objectivist movement if you read the history. Ayn Rand was so sure she was right concerning the ethics that other people should be practicing, and the whole time she espoused the erroneous idea that your rational mind programmed your emotions. This led into the whole movement engaging in emotional suppression and turning itself into a kind of cult which shut itself off from the rest of the world.
Interesting. I wonder if any of the lurking Objectivists would agree with this formulation.
Pushy means trying to get everyone else to think like you. I dont think that i am being pushy because its not my goal to get you to agree with me. I am simply checking on the validity of my own assertions. I'm not interested in you becoming or thinking like me, because I havent got one thing to gain. I think you want people to espouse your views concerning what they should be doing. I make no claim on what others should be doing, I just think that decisions should be left up to individuals.
That’s what you believe people should be doing, leaving decisions up to other people.
Of course I am agains embezzlement and identity theft, both of which are a form of indirect force.
This is a very atypical use of the word “force.” If you use atypical definitions, you can support just about any position.
Property is an extension of your personal autonomy, so when someone deprives you of property they are engaging in a form of force.
They are engaging in trickery and theft, but I would not use the term “force.”

(Continued in next post)
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,510
(Continued from previous post)


This is not clear. Are you saying that I am powerless in the realm of responsibility for my own happiness? Maybe you are saying that I am powerless in the realm of responsibility for your happiness. I don't see it as an issue of power, but rather an issue of generosity. People can be of help to each other and increase each other's happiness. They also can make other people quite unhappy. If you are captured and tortured, you will be very unhappy, and it will be because of what others are doing, rather than just something that you are accomplishing within yourself.
I'm saying ultimately people must find their own ways of being happy. Thats not the same as saying that generosity is bad, that helping others is not somehow admirable. Its saying that happiness is not a guarenteed result of such actions.
All of that I certainly would agree with, except that the first sentence is incomplete, in that if we develop optimal ways of living together, we increase the possibility of happiness for everyone. But happiness is a complex and somewhat ambiguous concept.

Our posts have gotten quite long, with much repetition, and they take much time to respond to (at least for me). I am wondering if we can begin to narrow down our discussion to the most basic principles or propositions that we differ on, and try to determine why we have those differences of opinion. I think some of our differences are illusory and based upon differences in word usage. When you portray my opinions, they do not seem to me to be my opinions. You also, I gather, feel misunderstood.

If you think this would be a good idea, you could go first, or, if you wish, I could go first.

It would be something like this:

Vincent believes that: (proposition)

Bill disbelieves Vincent’s proposition, instead believing that: (alternative proposition, contradictory to Vincent’s proposition)

What do you think? (We could do one at a time.)
vincent
user 8236565
Kannapolis, NC
Post #: 75
*Our posts have gotten quite long, with much repetition, and they take much time to respond to (at least for me). I am wondering if we can begin to narrow down our discussion to the most basic principles or propositions that we differ on, and try to determine why we have those differences of opinion. I think some of our differences are illusory and based upon differences in word usage. When you portray my opinions, they do not seem to me to be my opinions. You also, I gather, feel misunderstood.

If you think this would be a good idea, you could go first, or, if you wish, I could go first.

It would be something like this:

Vincent believes that: (proposition:
Bill's idea is quite good first of all. I wholeheartedly agree that the posts are getting pretty long and could be narrowed down to basics. First of all however (lest I be considered prideful and focused on winning an argument) you totally turned my example around on me as far as the example of the man I pointed out. You found out far more then I did, as I was quick to jump online and find an example. Well played sir!! :) I stand corrected. These are the issues as I see them.

Vincent believes that: (proposition: It is impossible for people to be explained based off of childhood influences. That every person is different and judging their actions based off of information attained from knowledge of their childhood is doomed to failure and to dangerous assumptions.

Bill believes that: I have decided to type a Bill believes reply not to put words in your mouth, but so that I can state what it seems you believe so that you can correct my misunderstandings. I would welcome the same. It seems to me you believe that a person is mainly a result of the influneces of others, and that the most important thing a person should be judged by is their lifes circumstances.

Vincent believes that: Punishment is not only a condition of existence, but plays a neccessary role in human interaction and stands behind the evidence of the scientific studies that have been conducted to far. Punishment is good for correcting negative behavior, is probably the single most influnencial thing a parent can do to correct the misled and ignorant actions of children, believing that to take punishment away will teach children to behave in a self absorbed narcissistic manner unaware of the feelings of others.

Bill believes that: Punishment is the main cause of peoples violent and irrational actions in society today. That if we correct the punishment inflicted on people during childhood, they will learn cooperative ways of acting and respecting others as adults. Our laws and systems of governmental regulation of unwanted behavior revolve around a need by the vast majority of people to punish criminals through programmed tendancies toward wanting revenge instilled in people through primitive and outdated tendancies that no longer need apply.

Vincent believes that: Psychology is a field of endeavor that holds a history of atrocious human rights violations with which psychology has never had to answer for. That it is a field of study which masks itself as a science by using medical terms that describe undesirable behavior and actions outside the bounds of normalcy, and the need to change these behaviors, without addressing biological problems as causes for behavior. That throughout history psychiatrists have been called mental health experts, but that since they have held the power of being able to lock people away from society with the permission and backing of government, that they are more like federal agents of the executive branch of government. That the term "psychiatric hospital" has been used as a euphemism for prisons.

Bill believes that: We'll you are a retired psychiatrist, so I imagine that you would not agree with that assessment. You have hinted that you think that my views are one sided and that I am probably not well read on the matter. I feel that I am somewhat well read, having read Freud, Jung, Skinner, Seligman, Szasz, Laing, quite a lot of books from a neurological perspective, and taken a course in psychology. I am not claiming to know half as much as you however, these are just my views as I currently see things. You would have to fill in the blanks here on what you believe, I dont have enough information.

Vincent believes that: The problem with society in no way shape or form is a problem of ethics in the generalized sense. That ethics are a private matter and the person who follows poor ethical systems will reap bad rewards and spiritual unhappiness for them. That the main problem of society is unjustified force. Force is not always wrong, but usually is. That self rightousness is also a great cause of suffering in human interactions, personified most often by politicians, religeous authorities, legislatures, and psychiatrists (sorry Bill). :)

Bill believes that: People should all adopted Humanianity, which is tantamount to saying basically that the problem is ethical. That a new religion will fix problems. That religion serves a useful purpose and that the problems that it has caused are due to it still being a child in its infancy of development.

Vincent believes that: People must ultimately help themselves, and a perspective espousing the view that we can make each other happy is bound to cause far more suffering then it intends.

Bill believes that: We should all try and make each other happy and that we hold that responsiblity.

Vincent believes that: Philosophical ballroom dancers rock.

Bill believes that: Philosophical ballroom dancers rock!!

Look at that!! :) We agree on something. I did not meet any ballroom dancers at the hooka bar, but I did get a number from an exceptionally attractive girl after discussing methods of mind expansion and lucid dreaming techniques. I did not happen to see anyone ballroom dancing there however, sorry to say. Perhaps next time I am at the hooka bar I can ballroom dance solo and start others along the same behavior. So did that Amanda Mitchell stop attending the meetings? I have not seen her picture up for quite some time. If I have misunderstood your positions please forgive and correct my mistakes. There are far more things I think that we disagree on, but I wasnt going to make this too long. Best to stick to a few main points. One thing that I did like that you said. Comparing humans to apes is quite a good assessment for the bulk of people walking around. I rather Aldous Huxley's dipiction of apes chaining Einsteins down to wage warfare in his surrealistic "Ape and Essence." My favorite author by the way.
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,511
Vincent,

I am taking each of your examples of where you and I have a difference of opinion, and responding to them in separate posts. So this is the first pair you presented:
(1) Vincent believes that: […]It is impossible for people to be explained based off of childhood influences. [Vincent believes ] That every person is different and judging their actions based off of information attained from knowledge of their childhood is doomed to failure and to dangerous assumptions.

(2) Bill believes that: […]a person is mainly a result of the influneces of others, and that the most important thing a person should be judged by is their lifes circumstances.

(1) Concerning your statement of your belief:

a person is mainly a result of the influneces of others, and that the most important thing a person should be judged by is their lifes circumstances.

So I agree with your proposition, and do not believe I have said otherwise. And first we need some clarification.

We are not trying to explain people, but instead to explain their behavior, and perhaps also their subjective experience (e.g., how they are feeling or how they are interpreting things that are happening).

So I do not say that their behavior and subjective experience can be explained by their childhoods. I say that there are many, many factors that belong in a complete explanation, one of those (sometimes important) factors being things about their childhood. A total explanation will include their current situation including their relationship system, their whole past life including childhood, and their biological makeup including genetic factors, temperament, learning capabilities, etc. My emphasis has been upon the importance of the past and present human relationship environment as an explanation of who we are, how we react, what we believe, etc. I emphasize the importance of recognizing that we are a group animal, and that what we do very often affects others just as what they do affect ourselves. My personal wish is to contribute in whatever way I can to the project of optimizing our interactions with each other, such that at some time in the future we will drastically have reduced the PSDED that we cause in each other.

(2) Concerning your understanding of my belief:
a person is mainly a result of the influneces of others, and that the most important thing a person should be judged by is their lifes circumstances.

A person’s behavior and subjective experience are indeed often explained most easily and most importantly (and therefore “mainly”) by their whole history of interaction with others, including the present situation. But this depends a lot on what it is that we are trying to explain. For instance, a knee-jerk reflex would not be explained in that way, except insofar as another human (e.g., doctor) were causing it to take place by hitting the tendon with a reflex hammer. And there are also always other components of the causation of a person’s behavior and subjective experience that are not human interaction, such as whether it is raining, etc.

But we do diverge regarding the issue of “judging” people. I believe that, in general, it is better to understand people than to judge them. I realize that, the way we live currently, there is no way we can simply stop judging people. It is a basic part of our whole way of thinking and of doing things. And it is not by any means all bad. For instance, judging at ballroom dance competitions is something that is probably primarily positive. (I don’t know how much suffering is produced in people who have spent so much time and money and then do not win, but it is a choice that they make. And although some of our sports, at least the way they are done, cause a fair amount of PSDED, the whole basic concept is probably positive.) But our whole approach to non-optimal behavior is, in my opinion, far, far from being optimal, and this applies to adults and children. Taking an understanding approach, along with appropriate supervision to the degree indicated, would, in my opinion, produce far better results. I realize I stand almost alone in my non-punitive approach. And I realize that we could not just suddenly change to doing things the way they should be done. It will have to be a gradual process. And it may never happen to any great extent. Overall, I think there has been a slight improvement within our species with regard to this. Child rearing has become slightly less punitive. We are increasingly understanding the importance of understanding children. And even built into our legal system is a recognized necessity to understand, at least a little bit, the person who has done something wrong. The problem is that so much more is needed, without which just stopping punishment can lead to even worse problems.

It should be noted that much of my response above is relevant also to the next set of differences that you have proposed. So I will perhaps be saying more later about this issue of punishment.
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,512
Vincent,

Here is your next set of perceived differences between our beliefs, followed by my responses to your beliefs and my corrections of your beliefs about my beliefs.

Vincent believes that: Punishment is not only a condition of existence, but plays a neccessary role in human interaction and stands behind the evidence of the scientific studies that have been conducted to far. Punishment is good for correcting negative behavior, is probably the single most influnencial thing a parent can do to correct the misled and ignorant actions of children, believing that to take punishment away will teach children to behave in a self absorbed narcissistic manner unaware of the feelings of others.

Bill believes that: Punishment is the main cause of peoples violent and irrational actions in society today. That if we correct the punishment inflicted on people during childhood, they will learn cooperative ways of acting and respecting others as adults. Our laws and systems of governmental regulation of unwanted behavior revolve around a need by the vast majority of people to punish criminals through programmed tendancies toward wanting revenge instilled in people through primitive and outdated tendancies that no longer need apply.

We do not yet have studies comparing punitive and non-punitive child rearing, because we do not yet have enough people who really believe in and engage in non-punitive child rearing. (I challenge you to find just one person other than me who believes in it.) I am not talking about just spanking. There are all sorts of ways of punishing that cannot be quantified and studied in good studies, such as non-verbal and verbal communication that deliberately causes the child to suffer (including shaming and ridiculing).

Also, I do not believe that just stopping punishing is sufficient. Highly skilled use of reward, teaching, and modeling for identification are necessary also. This will require training for those wishing to engage in child rearing. We are not ready for that yet. We believe that everyone has a right to produce and rear children, until proven otherwise through terrible scenarios.

Punishment, and the wish for revenge, is normal and natural. It was not instilled in us through primitive and outdated tendencies. It is part of our basic animal nature. There is a better way to rear children, but it must be learned and practiced as a complex skill, just like ballroom dancing (as opposed to walking and running).

Compared to other species, we have to mold our children’s behavior to be compatible with a highly unnatural (social) environment, so we, compared to other species, engage in much, much more punishment of our offspring. It is effective in the short term, but can produce enormous problems ultimately. And we just don’t recognize the connection between our extreme tendency to punish and these enormous problems, because we consider both to just be sort of normal (since they have always been with us). We can do far better than we have ever done so far. But we have to realize that fact in order to accomplish doing so.

Empathic child rearing by empathic parents is what will most lead to empathic children. Punishment makes parents and children enemies, and the anger and fear prevents empathy. And punished children try to do to others what has been done to them, multiplying the victimization, as bullied children and young adults suffer and even kill themselves.
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,513
Vincent,

You present:

Vincent believes that: Psychology is a field of endeavor that holds a history of atrocious human rights violations with which psychology has never had to answer for. That it is a field of study which masks itself as a science by using medical terms that describe undesirable behavior and actions outside the bounds of normalcy, and the need to change these behaviors, without addressing biological problems as causes for behavior. That throughout history psychiatrists have been called mental health experts, but that since they have held the power of being able to lock people away from society with the permission and backing of government, that they are more like federal agents of the executive branch of government. That the term "psychiatric hospital" has been used as a euphemism for prisons.

Bill believes that: We'll you are a retired psychiatrist, so I imagine that you would not agree with that assessment. You have hinted that you think that my views are one sided and that I am probably not well read on the matter. I feel that I am somewhat well read, having read Freud, Jung, Skinner, Seligman, Szasz, Laing, quite a lot of books from a neurological perspective, and taken a course in psychology. I am not claiming to know half as much as you however, these are just my views as I currently see things. You would have to fill in the blanks here on what you believe, I dont have enough information.

My reply:

There have been examples of bad things happening in all branches of medicine (as well as economics, industry, government, etc.). To characterize all doctors or all psychiatrists as being evil is unwarranted.

For more than four decades (and I am only semi-retired) I have tried to help people stop the enormous suffering they have come to me for help with, and I believe that almost all of my psychiatric colleagues have been similarly motivated. And the science upon which our treatment methods are based is supported by enormous amounts of very skilled, peer-reviewed research.

Our problem is not that people are being forced to have treatment, but that treatment, especially adequately intensive treatment, is unavailable to many who need it. But I don’t think I can present enough evidence to clear myself and my colleagues of these charges.

On the other hand, I know that some do have such images of us, and that there have been events and situations that have promoted those images. As time goes on, I believe people will have an increasingly accurate perception of the field. And the field is still young, so we are still learning and re-learning.
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,514
Vincent:

You present:

Vincent believes that: The problem with society in no way shape or form is a problem of ethics in the generalized sense. That ethics are a private matter and the person who follows poor ethical systems will reap bad rewards and spiritual unhappiness for them. That the main problem of society is unjustified force. Force is not always wrong, but usually is. That self rightousness is also a great cause of suffering in human interactions, personified most often by politicians, religeous authorities, legislatures, and psychiatrists (sorry Bill). :)

Bill believes that: People should all adopted Humanianity, which is tantamount to saying basically that the problem is ethical. That a new religion will fix problems. That religion serves a useful purpose and that the problems that it has caused are due to it still being a child in its infancy of development.

My reply:

I believe we can classify beliefs into two categories:

Existential beliefs are beliefs about the way the world is, was, and will be, and about what will happen if we do things. Science helps us develop these beliefs.

Ethical beliefs are beliefs about what I, you, we, and they should or should not do. Religion helps us develop these beliefs.

We do develop both existential and ethical beliefs without science or religion. Science and religion are our efforts to help ourselves to do so.

Your characterization of Humanianity is, I believe, inaccurate. To obtain an accurate idea of it, you should again read the homepage at Humanianity.com.

Humanianity is not really a new religion, but instead is an idealized endpoint of the improvement that all religions are to some extent making as our species becomes increasingly rational. It does not replace other religions, but enhances them. It is a personal religion, one that a Christian, Jew, Islamist, Unitarian-Universalist, agnostic, and atheist can have.

To be Humanian is simply to be committed to the Humanian ultimate ethical principle, namely, that we should do that which will promote not only the survival of our species, but also as much joy, contentment, and appreciation as possible and this little pain, suffering, disability, and early death as possible, for everyone, now and in the future. There are many approaches to the implementation of that ultimate ethical principle, and many different ideas as to how to do so.

We as a species are still, indeed, just a toddler, compared to how we will be in the far future, if we are fortunate and can meet the challenges ahead of us. Our current religions reflect who we are and where we are in our development.
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,515
Vincent:

You present:

Vincent believes that: People must ultimately help themselves, and a perspective espousing the view that we can make each other happy is bound to cause far more suffering then it intends.

Bill believes that: We should all try and make each other happy and that we hold that responsiblity.

Actually, I believe that we should all try to make ourselves and each other happy, and the more that we attempt to do this, the better off we will be.

We all have a sphere of influence, namely, all of those people upon whom we have some effect or influence. Using this metaphor, the closer a person is to the center of one's sphere of influence, the more influence one has on that person. One's spouse or child would be very close to the center, whereas a store clerk that one interacts with would be at some distance from the center. There are people upon whom one will have no influence or effect, but it is very hard to know how far out from oneself one's sphere of influence extends. The closer a person is to the center of one's sphere of influence, the more important the care and treatment of that person is (because of the greater impact, by definition). The exact center is oneself, and one has maximal responsibility for taking care of oneself and developing oneself, so that one is indeed capable of making the world as good a place as possible within his or her sphere of influence.
vincent
user 8236565
Kannapolis, NC
Post #: 79
*So I agree with your proposition, and do not believe I have said otherwise. And first we need some clarification.

We are not trying to explain people, but instead to explain their behavior, and perhaps also their subjective experience (e.g., how they are feeling or how they are interpreting things that are happening).

So I do not say that their behavior and subjective experience can be explained by their childhoods. I say that there are many, many factors that belong in a complete explanation, one of those (sometimes important) factors being things about their childhood. A total explanation will include their current situation including their relationship system, their whole past life including childhood, and their biological makeup including genetic factors, temperament, learning capabilities, etc. My emphasis has been upon the importance of the past and present human relationship environment as an explanation of who we are, how we react, what we believe, etc. I emphasize the importance of recognizing that we are a group animal, and that what we do very often affects others just as what they do affect ourselves. My personal wish is to contribute in whatever way I can to the project of optimizing our interactions with each other, such that at some time in the future we will drastically have reduced the PSDED that we cause in each other.

I reiterate again and with simplicity, you are shooting in the dark. You cant have a complete explanation of another persons behavior. There are no experts of human behavior.

*A person’s behavior and subjective experience are indeed often explained most easily and most importantly (and therefore “mainly”) by their whole history of interaction with others, including the present situation. But this depends a lot on what it is that we are trying to explain. For instance, a knee-jerk reflex would not be explained in that way, except insofar as another human (e.g., doctor) were causing it to take place by hitting the tendon with a reflex hammer. And there are also always other components of the causation of a person’s behavior and subjective experience that are not human interaction, such as whether it is raining, etc.

But we do diverge regarding the issue of “judging” people. I believe that, in general, it is better to understand people than to judge them. I realize that, the way we live currently, there is no way we can simply stop judging people. It is a basic part of our whole way of thinking and of doing things. And it is not by any means all bad. For instance, judging at ballroom dance competitions is something that is probably primarily positive. (I don’t know how much suffering is produced in people who have spent so much time and money and then do not win, but it is a choice that they make. And although some of our sports, at least the way they are done, cause a fair amount of PSDED, the whole basic concept is probably positive.) But our whole approach to non-optimal behavior is, in my opinion, far, far from being optimal, and this applies to adults and children. Taking an understanding approach, along with appropriate supervision to the degree indicated, would, in my opinion, produce far better results. I realize I stand almost alone in my non-punitive approach. And I realize that we could not just suddenly change to doing things the way they should be done. It will have to be a gradual process. And it may never happen to any great extent. Overall, I think there has been a slight improvement within our species with regard to this. Child rearing has become slightly less punitive. We are increasingly understanding the importance of understanding children. And even built into our legal system is a recognized necessity to understand, at least a little bit, the person who has done something wrong. The problem is that so much more is needed, without which just stopping punishment can lead to even worse problems.

It should be noted that much of my response above is relevant also to the next set of differences that you have proposed. So I will perhaps be saying more later about this issue of punishment.

- A skeptical minded person always judges everything. You do also realize I hope that all of these statements concern the means of changing the priorities that others other then yourself should hold. To want to change others behaviors in any way involving victimless crimes is to say that you know more about someone else should be doing then they themselves do. In order to hold that view you must judge the behaviors of others as being as you put it "non optimal" and such a view always must hold within it the judgement of others. In order to support what you beleive you must be judging other despite all other statements which state otherwise.
We do not yet have studies comparing punitive and non-punitive child rearing, because we do not yet have enough people who really believe in and engage in non-punitive child rearing. (I challenge you to find just one person other than me who believes in it.) I am not talking about just spanking. There are all sorts of ways of punishing that cannot be quantified and studied in good studies, such as non-verbal and verbal communication that deliberately causes the child to suffer (including shaming and ridiculing).

Also, I do not believe that just stopping punishing is sufficient. Highly skilled use of reward, teaching, and modeling for identification are necessary also. This will require training for those wishing to engage in child rearing. We are not ready for that yet. We believe that everyone has a right to produce and rear children, until proven otherwise through terrible scenarios.

Punishment, and the wish for revenge, is normal and natural. It was not instilled in us through primitive and outdated tendencies. It is part of our basic animal nature. There is a better way to rear children, but it must be learned and practiced as a complex skill, just like ballroom dancing (as opposed to walking and running).

Compared to other species, we have to mold our children’s behavior to be compatible with a highly unnatural (social) environment, so we, compared to other species, engage in much, much more punishment of our offspring. It is effective in the short term, but can produce enormous problems ultimately. And we just don’t recognize the connection between our extreme tendency to punish and these enormous problems, because we consider both to just be sort of normal (since they have always been with us). We can do far better than we have ever done so far. But we have to realize that fact in order to accomplish doing so.

Empathic child rearing by empathic parents is what will most lead to empathic children. Punishment makes parents and children enemies, and the anger and fear prevents empathy. And punished children try to do to others what has been done to them, multiplying the victimization, as bullied children and young adults suffer and even kill themselves.

-I have personally met people who did not believe in punishment in child rearing. I've been in whole conversations concerning it. There are several people of very liberal mindsets who practice none punishment. It is simply very far from the truth to say that no one else practices non punishment in child rearing. In fact enough people practice none punishment to where it should be very easy to do studies on such things. All of these statements are just contentions of belief standing in total-
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