A layman's question pertaining to ethics

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Cleric K
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Re: A layman's question pertaining to ethics

Post by Cleric K »

Morgentraum,

have you meditated on the cross symbol?
Here's a diagram I made some time ago: viewtopic.php?p=2738#p2738

It's important that we make the distinction between horizontal and vertical dualities.
Ben Iscatus
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Re: A layman's question pertaining to ethics

Post by Ben Iscatus »

Can you elaborate on how our moral conduct could impinge and influence MAL? To what end? And why would this be the reason for our existence?
The idea is (in analytic idealism) that we separate from Mind at Large and evolve as dissociated beings. We learn to realise as we interact with others and our environment that some happenings are desirable (good) and others not. MAL does not self-reflect (i.e. is not metaconscious) because there is no resistance to its instinctive ideas (creating the universe with nothing to hinder its will, means it never needs to self-reflect). On our death, our dissociated minds return to source (MAL), releasing our memories into its transpersonal mind, which now become available for it. Considering the huge scope of the universe, these memories would have little influence until there are trillions of them self-reinforcing each other and thus subtly influencing MAL as it continues to "dream its ideas" in the unfolding universe. Without the memories and reflections of metaconscious beings, there could only be an instinctive universe with no moral direction. We see this on Earth of course, because predatory and parasitical behaviour, as well as natural catastrophes (all of which we reflect on and consider morally undesirable and all of which are products of MAL's instinctive mentation) are very common here.
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AshvinP
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Re: A layman's question pertaining to ethics

Post by AshvinP »

Morgentraum wrote: Mon Sep 27, 2021 6:28 pm
AshvinP wrote: Mon Sep 27, 2021 3:42 pm
Morgentraum wrote: Mon Sep 27, 2021 1:35 pm In traditional theism one does not have this problem, because God is defined as morally perfect and good. Evil does not have its own ontological category, and is instead simply considered to be the absence of goodness. In Christian theology the fallen angels were not created evil, but by their own volition they decided to turn away from that which is morally perfect.

The ethics derived from such a metaphysical outlook entails striving for moral perfection, or in other words striving to become godlike. In Orthodox Christianity this process is called theōsis. Metaphorically this could be viewed as turning towards the light or the good or attempting to move up the hierarchy towards its highest point etc.

For me moral objectivity seems to coincides perfectly with my own experience of the world. It is easy for me to intuitively discern between that which is good and that which is evil, and I would propose that this is the case for most people. But furthermore to me attempting to do good and overcoming evil intuitively seems to be the virtuous or the right thing to do.

The ethical framework provided by Christian metaphysics makes more sense to me on an intuitive, experiential and logical level (in terms of evil only existing as the negation of the good), however it is difficult to dismiss the fact that almost all wisdom traditions (e.g. Egyptian, Sumerian, Hindu, Daoism etc.), which existed prior to Christianity, have a different view on metaphysics and the nature of good and evil.

I am wondering how the traditional, seemingly universal, pagan view of a world of opposites, which have to be transcended in order to spiritually ascend, can be reconciled with some sort of objective ethics? Why is it more reasonable to assume that evil has its own ontological category, than to think that it is simply the negation of the good (or God)?

I hope my thoughts are somewhat coherent and that the conflict that I am struggling with became apparent enough in this post. If you have any pointers or recommendations for literature, which might help me make more sense of this, I would appreciate it!

Best regards,
Morgentraum

Morgentraum,

There is no reason why the ancient Wisdom traditions you mention, which indeed ask us to take a higher perspective on all dualities of experience, such as good-evil, cannot also encompass the intuitively known ethics you reference. The issue with traditonal theism, as it is held abstractly in the modern age, is precisely that it "does not have this problem" because it circumvents confronting the problem entirely. It simply says, "we don't need to know why our intuitions are correct, as long as we can vaguely sense that they are correct". As destiny would have it, I am in the process of finishing up the first part of an essay which directly addresses this modern attitude towards "knowing" and how it will (or has already in many ways), in a twist of tragic irony, undermine all confidence in objective ethics. It is through Knowing about knowing, Thinking about thinking, that the necessary depth is added to provide a stable foundation for our intuitive moral values. That is what all the Wisdom traditions were pointing us towards - this stabilizing depth of Thinking which would become necessary in our current epoch. And you are correct to intuit that "evil" is a privation of "good", which we could usefully think of as "fragmentation" and "integration" respectively (fragmentation, i.e. apparent hard divisions of experience, should not be confused with "differentiation" or "distinction"), but again the key is that we must know why those intuitions are valid and can be relied upon. I will let you know when the essay is posted.
Hi AshvinP,

Thanks for your reply! I am not sure that traditional theism circumvents that problem. In the case of Orthodox Christianity for example it is not recommended to rely upon one's moral intuitions, because they may be distorted, but instead to follow the moral law given by a perfectly moral God through revelation in order to be reunited with him in his kingdom (i.e. the world of essence).

I am interesting to learn more about what you refer to as the "stabilizing depth of Thinking", which is supposed to lead to a more solid foundation for objective ethics. As of yet I am still not entirely sure what you mean by this, but I am looking forward to reading your essay!

Best regards,
Morgentraum

Right, I still say that is "circumvention" of the problem. Whether we rely on revelation inwardly via moral intuition, or outwardly via moral teachings in scripture, or both, we are still avoiding the process of knowing why those intuitions-teachings are to be relied upon. We are still remaining stuck in the same place on the vertical axis of the cross symbol that Cleric linked to. As he said, none of this is static - there was a time when simple faith and relatively blind adherence to revelation would move one along the vertical axis of integrating evolution, but now we have reached an evolutionary stage where the impulse to move further up the axis must come entirely from within via Self-knowledge (i.e. Thinking about our own thinking activity, which then allows a broadening out to feeling and willing activities, allowing us to trace precisely their true spiritual sources in our immanent experience). That is how we develop to spiritual freedom which is the foundation of any genuinely ethical actions (we are only acting ethically if we are acting freely, which means the motive for our action is only our own innermost desires, feelings, and thoughts, rather than any seemingly external authorities).
“I began to understand that the goal of psychic development is the Self. There is no linear evolution; there is only a circumambulation of the Self."
- Jung
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Eugene I
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Re: A layman's question pertaining to ethics

Post by Eugene I »

Morgentraum, welcome, and just so that you do not get confused, there are many versions of metaphysical idealism being discussed on this forum, and different people here represent these different versions, which may look like a mess for a newcomer until you sort out who is representing which version.

Now, you question is specifically about other ancient spiritual traditions, and there are many of them that differ in their approach to explain the nature of good and evil, so I don't think we can have a single answer relevant to all of those traditions. But for example if we consider the Hindu tradition, its metaphysical prime is Brahman, undifferentiated Consciousness-Beingness, that on the absolute level has no representations and no distinction between good and evil, and therefore good and evil have no ontological ground in Brahman. But on the relative level in the world of appearances good and evil exist like other forms and ideas. Specifically, it is related to the fact that we conscious beings experience pleasure or suffering when we act and interact in the world of appearances, and we also can cause pleasure or suffering when we interact with other beings. So, evil is considered as anything that inflicts suffering to conscious beings, and good is anything that alleviates suffering and leads to happiness and harmony for all beings. In a society of human beings who are on the egoic stage of their development, a moral code is required to restrict the suffering that people inflict on each other, because otherwise without such moral code they can do a lot of harm to each other driven by their egoic motivations. But when the beings transcend the boundaries of their egoic minds and experience the unity of Consciousness, they also naturally develop empathy and compassion with other beings with whom they share the same Consciousness, they feel what other beings feel, so they can not consciously and intentionally inflict suffering on other beings anymore. Once such empathy develops, there is no need for moral codes anymore, goodness becomes a shared inner experience of happiness and harmony rather than a code of conduct or a concept. Similar approach is taken in the Buddhist Mahayana tradition.
but of course I may be wrong
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AshvinP
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Re: A layman's question pertaining to ethics

Post by AshvinP »

AshvinP wrote: Mon Sep 27, 2021 7:23 pm
Morgentraum wrote: Mon Sep 27, 2021 6:28 pm
AshvinP wrote: Mon Sep 27, 2021 3:42 pm


Morgentraum,

There is no reason why the ancient Wisdom traditions you mention, which indeed ask us to take a higher perspective on all dualities of experience, such as good-evil, cannot also encompass the intuitively known ethics you reference. The issue with traditonal theism, as it is held abstractly in the modern age, is precisely that it "does not have this problem" because it circumvents confronting the problem entirely. It simply says, "we don't need to know why our intuitions are correct, as long as we can vaguely sense that they are correct". As destiny would have it, I am in the process of finishing up the first part of an essay which directly addresses this modern attitude towards "knowing" and how it will (or has already in many ways), in a twist of tragic irony, undermine all confidence in objective ethics. It is through Knowing about knowing, Thinking about thinking, that the necessary depth is added to provide a stable foundation for our intuitive moral values. That is what all the Wisdom traditions were pointing us towards - this stabilizing depth of Thinking which would become necessary in our current epoch. And you are correct to intuit that "evil" is a privation of "good", which we could usefully think of as "fragmentation" and "integration" respectively (fragmentation, i.e. apparent hard divisions of experience, should not be confused with "differentiation" or "distinction"), but again the key is that we must know why those intuitions are valid and can be relied upon. I will let you know when the essay is posted.
Hi AshvinP,

Thanks for your reply! I am not sure that traditional theism circumvents that problem. In the case of Orthodox Christianity for example it is not recommended to rely upon one's moral intuitions, because they may be distorted, but instead to follow the moral law given by a perfectly moral God through revelation in order to be reunited with him in his kingdom (i.e. the world of essence).

I am interesting to learn more about what you refer to as the "stabilizing depth of Thinking", which is supposed to lead to a more solid foundation for objective ethics. As of yet I am still not entirely sure what you mean by this, but I am looking forward to reading your essay!

Best regards,
Morgentraum

Right, I still say that is "circumvention" of the problem. Whether we rely on revelation inwardly via moral intuition, or outwardly via moral teachings in scripture, or both, we are still avoiding the process of knowing why those intuitions-teachings are to be relied upon. We are still remaining stuck in the same place on the vertical axis of the cross symbol that Cleric linked to. As he said, none of this is static - there was a time when simple faith and relatively blind adherence to revelation would move one along the vertical axis of integrating evolution, but now we have reached an evolutionary stage where the impulse to move further up the axis must come entirely from within via Self-knowledge (i.e. Thinking about our own thinking activity, which then allows a broadening out to feeling and willing activities, allowing us to trace precisely their true spiritual sources in our immanent experience). That is how we develop to spiritual freedom which is the foundation of any genuinely ethical actions (we are only acting ethically if we are acting freely, which means the motive for our action is only our own innermost desires, feelings, and thoughts, rather than any seemingly external authorities).

Just to be clear, none of the above should be taken as a plea to acquire knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Of course, if there is a concrete spiritual reality underlying the sense-world, which I think you agree there is, detailed knowledge of that reality could only be of the utmost practical value. The last century or so has made clear why the depth Thinking is absolutely necessary at this stage of spiritual evolution (btw, I have written some recent essays which show how ancient Hindu mythic-spiritual tradition, as reflected in the Bhagavad Gita, on towards ancient Greek, Hebrew and Christian mythic-spiritual tradition, paint an undeniably clear portrait of this spiritual evolution towards the essential "I" incarnate from varying spatiotemporal angles). This depth Thinking is deeply related to the emergence of depth psychology in the 20th century, which of course emphasizes this same Self-knowledge. We can easily see how the ethical structures of modern societies are resting on the flimsiest of foundations right now. Secular, religious, democratic, theocratic, capitalist, socialist... it doesn't matter, for all of them have almost no resilience left to misfortunes and malevolence. Religious dogmas, creeds, and even the more "enlightened" or "porgressive" theologies do not provide the impulse for individuals to endure in the face of inevitable hardships. These are as the houses built on foundations of sand which will blow over when the floods and winds come. We plant our seeds in the fertile soil and build on the firm foundation through this depth of Thinking which naturally reveals to us that, when our desires, feelings, and thoughts are freely aligned with what is Good, Beautiful, and True, there is no hardship we cannot endure. This only makes sense - if we are enacting ethical values freely, in full clarity of consciousness, regardless of our circumstances, those circumstances cannot later dictate whether we adhere to or abandon them.
“I began to understand that the goal of psychic development is the Self. There is no linear evolution; there is only a circumambulation of the Self."
- Jung
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