[lit-ideas] Re: On being called a Lyre

  • From: wokshevs@xxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx, Mike Geary <atlas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2008 22:09:56 -0230

Quoting Mike Geary <atlas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>:

> I'm not sure I understand the difference between "an emotional moral 
> approach" and "unexamined political prejudice and stereotyping".  They both 
> seem to me to be derived from that core, unknowable self -- that tightly 
> wound wad of prejudices towards which we were bent by the first couplings of
> DNA and strengthened by the instructions of our personal history and which 
> have governed all our judgments ever since -- or, at least, heavily 
> influenced.  

WO: I'm not clear how we can validly speak of an "unknowable self" under that
particular description. Surely, anything you say about it will contradict its
description as unknowable.

But Mike makes what I believe to be a philosophically astute observation in
questioning the difference between "an emotional moral approach" and
"unexamined political prejudice and stereotyping." Without a clear account of
the distinction which shows a real difference, Mike is entitled to conclude
that both are functions of some amorphous integral complex of nucleic acids and
"personal history." 

As an independent topic, I am intrigued by the notion of an "emotional moral
approach." "Morality," I would have thought, concerns the obligations we have
to others and ourselves in virtue of being rationally autonomous agents.
Affective factors would seeem to be irrelevant to such obligations or to the
form of reasoning we require of ourselves and others when engaged in moral
deliberation and judgement. (The "or" here is an inclusive "or" since our
primary moral obligation to each other and ourselves is to engage in a
particular form of reasoning when deliberating upon how to treat others and
ourselves.)Hence, the notion strikes me as being an oxymoron. 

As I see it, emotions possess neither epistemic force in the justifiedness of
moral judgement nor appropriate motivational status in causing morally worthy
actions, judgements or maxims. Our emotional lives are clearly esential to our
"selves," to the identities we strive to attain and secure as members of some
cultural tradition with its conception of the good, the virtues, and an
authentic life. 

(What makes, say, the infliction of pain upon innocent persons morally wrong is
that such action could not attain agreement under conditions of rational
discourse. Our affective responses to such infliction of pain are, however
intense and psychologically compelling, of no epistemic relevance to the
justifiability of the claim as to moral wrongness.)

Walter O.

For that reason, I forgive Lawrence his views, knowing that 
> it's his mother's fault amplified by the error in his father's genes.  I was
> lucky, I got the right political genes and right political education from 
> day one.  My first words were "Franklin Delano Roosevelt."
> What's the chance then of my convincing Lawrence he's wrong?  Damn slim. 
> But it exists.  Just as it's possible that anyone being a bit bull-headed 
> might butt his head against a locked door until his face is covered in blood
> and his head is throbbing with pain suddenly gets the idea: "This ain't 
> going to work.  Maybe I should try something else."  That's epiphany time, 
> folks!  When what once worked, doesn't work anymore, most of us move on to 
> new things.  Lawrence thinks our heads should be pretty bloodied by now and 
> we think the same about him.  Time will tell.  Could be the Christian Right 
> is right -- or the Muslims!!   But I'll be pretty damn bloody before I'll 
> admit to either of those.
> Mike Geary
> Memphis
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Eric Yost" <mr.eric.yost@xxxxxxxxx>
> To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> Sent: Tuesday, September 16, 2008 1:53 AM
> Subject: [lit-ideas] On being called a Lyre
> > Volodya:  ...the primary sources of disagreement ...needing to be 
> > addressed are not at all political but rather epistemological.
> >
> >
> > Or two basic questions of political epistemology:
> >
> >
> > 1. The problem of human knowledge: do we know enough about the external 
> > world to make a political choice?
> >
> >      a. Do we possess adequate understanding of how the world, as 
> > presently configured, stumbles through its quotidian? If not, how much 
> > understanding is enough? If we do, how do we know that we do?
> >
> >      b. Failing an answer to (a), do we disregard attempting to attain a 
> > comprehensive understanding of the factors and decisions governed by 
> > politics, and opt for a decision-making strategy informed by emotional or 
> > moral perceptions?
> >
> >      c. Failing an answer to (b), do we choose to employ some other method
> > of making a political choice? Ouija board? Numerology? Astrology? The 
> > opinion of a respected other? Unexamined political prejudice and 
> > stereotyping?
> >
> >
> > 2. The problem of knowledge of other minds: can we know enough about the 
> > minds of political candidates to make a political choice?
> >
> >      a. Since we cannot know the minds of others, the entire project 
> > described in 1a, and 1b is undermined. We are truly wafting here. A 
> > decision-making strategy based on (a) geopolitical knowledge or (b) moral 
> > emotional perceptions assumes facts (and values) not in evidence.
> >         A knowledge-based approach is clouded by our own unconscious 
> > selection and rejection of sources, as well as the unknown minds of 
> > reporters and pundits presenting that tiny amount of untrustworthy 
> > information we choose to assemble to support our choice.
> >         An emotional moral approach is likewise obscured, since (1) 
> > candidates themselves may be lying about the values and selves they 
> > present to us, or (2) media sources may be similarly lying to us.
> >
> >
> > That seems to isolate 1c (some other method) as the most viable option. 
> > The broad variety of decision making techniques included in 1c -- 
> > especially "unexamined political prejudice and stereotyping" -- seems to 
> > be the most commonly used.
> >
> > Maybe I'll get the Ouija Board out of the attic.
> >
> >
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