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7/17/12 questions and discussion

From: Jon A.
Sent on: Saturday, July 21, 2012 7:49 PM
7/17/12 questions and discussion

[NOTE: this week we had a small number of socratics so discussion moved too rapidly for me to keep up on the keyboard. What I made here is less precise.]

1-how might capitalism include virtue?
2-can our conscience be corrupted?

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2-can our conscience be corrupted?


Dick: morals seem to change with the times. In the Catholic church women oncenhad to cover their heads, during Lent all catholics could eat no meat on Friday, etc. Then people started disobeying. This seems to be an increasingly happening everywhere as time goes by. It's happening faster and faster. Our collective mind seems to get corrupted without our even knowing it. My conscience is my god. I have a problem with those religious who think they can do wrong because if they sincerely repent later they'll be forgiven

David: have we become too soft? We're willing to let murderers out of jail. Feeling sorry for perpetrators of murder is corruption. No matter how remarkable, killing is killing. A murderer -- not one who commits manslaughter -- can do nothing whatsoever after they've killed to rehabilitate themselves to society. We must never forgive them, never show them mercy, never let them live in freedom.

Jon: liberalism is sometimes thought of moral corruption because it seems willing to give second chances and to help strangers whom we can't be certain aren't free riders. The first tool invented by our ancestors was intended to make us more successful as a species. It literally made us stronger. Before that tool was created our species was weaker, more vulnerable. All technologies make us more capable/stronger. An inevitable consequence of technology, then, is the Liberal thought that intends to help the helpless. This is why we still have Stephen Hawking.

Dick: we're not smart enough to really know whether or not what we're doing is really going to be helpful.

David: governments draft people to die and to kill. Does that mean governments have corrupted consciences?

Jon: I have the impression that the typical American used to be much more devoted to America. I came to a kind of political awareness in the 1970s. During that time I watched the legacy of Vietnam play out, I watched the Watergate mess. I harbor no illusions that our leadership was morally superior back in some earlier "good old days", but it seems clear that our populace has become much less trusting of its leaders; even of human nature itself. Are we recognizing a decline in morality/conscience?­

Dick: modern day warfare for the USA includes drone attacks. Does this remote kind of killing separate us from the damage we've done, leaving us less empathetic, less aware of what is actually happening? Might we be less willing to use drones if we saw firsthand what happens on the ground, to other people?

Jon: Richard Nixon, despite all his paranoid thinking, might have done good had he not been caught. He gave us the EPA, had national health insurance ready to be proposed in Congress. If we were as trusting of him as we once were of our presidents and decided to ignore Watergate, perhaps the net result would have been better than what we got without him in office. (It's ironic to note that Nixon, a Republican, would likely be rejected by the present day Republican caucus) 

Dick: violence and religion go together. This has never been an uncorrupt relationship. Religious zealots with guns (or, earlier, swords, spears, and dungeons) are sadly not surprising.

Jon: 9/11 was a political action, abetted by the manipulation of a religion.  Corruption of conscience comes in there with the abuse of Islam and the use of violence to make a political statement.

David: has government's corruption trickled down to the rest of us?

Dick: it's true of corporate psychology as well.

Jon: but please remember women's suffrage, the civil rights act, the GI bill. These governmental actions demonstrate uncorrupt national conscience; even perhaps an evolution of human conscience. David has in the past told of his youth, living in poverty and in a poor neighborhood. He is understandably proud of the fact that although poor, his mind growing up did not become corrupted by poverty and that he went on to become a good contributor to society. I'll wager his early years included the conviction that if he worked hard he could rise out of poverty: that was the message he was likely surrounded by as a kid. Poverty in America nowadays seems to include the message that there is no possibility of escaping it, leading to all kinds of destructive things.

David: or they don't believe the opportunities I was aware of to make that climb are there now.

Lynn: it's actually not there now, when you were young it actually was there.


David: Christians sometimes actively use their religion in corrupt ways.

Jon: religion served an essential function in our survival. Without that divine mojo we never would have been as cohesive or successful as we are. History is clear that religion has been with us every step of the way until recently. Now we do have nations that are not religiously organized but it's too soon to tell whether we'll be as successful without divine inspirations and justifications.

Dick: corruption of conscience abets destroying other groups: other religions, other nations, other tribes

David: Turkey is a country that has had secular leadership and government for hundreds of years since Ataturk banished the Caliphate.  They're not perfect but they are legitimately successful.   

Dick: our dropping theH-bomb on Japan was moral corruption. 

Jon: were Joe Paterno's decisions re his employee's abuse of young boys morally corrupt? Considering his life-long devotion to education and other kinds of morally superior values I'm convinced he was guilty but not of immorality.  In his case it's naivety: I don't think he thought what that coach was doing was humanly possible. I think his mind actually couldn't process what he was seeing/hearing about. This in large part for me explains the dysfunctional response of Catholic church to their pedophile priests.

David: I'm not convinced that the church's aims are noble at all, their desire to maintain power is more likely the cause of that pedophile blind spot. 


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