Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

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Comment by Jedi Wanderer on January 20, 2011 at 5:25am
Excellent, I'll be looking fwd to hearing your questions on my paper as well as continuing to discuss morality or anything else with you.
Comment by Rob van Senten on January 20, 2011 at 2:47am

@ Wanderer,


it must be acknowledged that the root of it begins with how we feel about who we are.

I would definitely agree with that statement.

many circumstances do prevent people from enjoying even basic rights.

Very unfortunate, this is a necessity though very subjective by nature. The realization that we feel forced to deny to some the pleasures of a free(er) life is a cruel one. In war humans pillage and kill for the sake of peace and prosperity and innocent people are slaughtered for a higher justice (or that's how we perceive it to be.) We see heroes, terrorists, freedom fighters but can't decide upon which is which. 

The natural world is neither good, nor bad as is human nature. Perspective is the key, humans are flawed and gifted by our individuality which colors our perception of the world. Reality and objectivity are locked away beyond years of conditioning, we live and learn and create our own version of reality, which is why we need reason and discourse to at least attempt to come to some kind of agreement.

I would like to think of myself as practical by nature and therefor look in the natural world for answers. I hold strongly to the golden rule because it is practical and it has proven itself a useful tool, I would never presume however that I would do so because I am intrinsicely good. I need to keep focused on my own subjectivity and my own limits as a human to be able to be open towards other people and ideas. 

I did glance at your paper, but it needs more attention then I can currently spare (I'm at work). It seems to me that I will definitely have some questions after I've finished it, which I'll ask in the discussion over there.

@ John Jubinsky,

We might not agree whether or not objective morality exist, but we do seem to agree that some sort of understanding can be reached among mentally sane people in regards to what morality can be. Subjective as it might seem to some of us, it is simply the best we can do.

Comment by Jedi Wanderer on January 19, 2011 at 6:29pm

This is more or less what I have in mind as well. It would take far too much wrangling to detail exactly what I disagree with here, so I am content to just leave it at that.


I don't see anyone reading my paper btw. Nobody is interested?

Comment by John Jubinsky on January 19, 2011 at 4:49pm
@ Rob and Wanderer: I think we are a lot closer than we thought. Wanderer I understand and agree with your position that there is nothing about the nature of the universe which establishes that somebody as a human being is entitled to a particular privilege in life nor ought to be and in this sense there is not an objective morality. I am not speaking for Rob and by all means Rob correct me if I am wrong but I strongly suspect that you are in agreement with this too. Also Rob I agree with your position that in the administration of entitlements (for lack of a better word) there must be an element of subjectivity which would to some extent dilute any attempt at an objective morality. However, I believe that despite what appear to be obstacles in these regards, for all intents and purposes there can be an objective morality anyway (although not absolutely objective) which out of selfishness rather than any noble principle requires administration and adjudication processes to be founded in the golden rule. Consider life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Although there is no law of physics so to speak that provides for people under ordinary circumstances to have these things normal ones under ordinary circumstances demand them to the exclusion of all others as uncompromisable wants. My position is that because of this these things can be used to determine an appropriate objective morality (of course diluted somewhat by an element of subjectivity that must be part of the associated administrative and adjudication processes) that happens to be golden rule oriented. The way it would work is simple. Morality would be founded in the manner that afforded these things most effectively to the population as a whole. The manner that best does so is golden rule oriented. Therefore, morality would consist of affording life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness on a golden rule basis. For all intents and purposes (save but the subjectivity element in the administrative and adjudicative processes) it would be objective in nature.
Comment by Jedi Wanderer on January 19, 2011 at 9:39am

I am not sure I claim entitlement to basic human rights. This is not to mean that I don't DEMAND them - I do. Saying I am entitled to them is saying that by virtue of being a human I automatically must be treated according to some basic standard. It is as though no set of circumstances could ever take these things from me. But of course many circumstances do prevent people from enjoying even basic rights. Plus you also have to account for the degree which each right is to be universally granted. Liberty and the pursuit of happiness are subject to a great amount of variation. How would you go about defining lower limits to how much liberty a person can have, or how much he can pursue happiness? I am just not a person who thinks that the notion of basic human rights is a great starting point for talking about how we should treat other people and why.


As for how someone like myself (or Rob, but I don't want to speak for him) might answer the question how we determine how others should be treated and why (my objection to the use of the word entitlement is still in effect), it must be acknowledged that the root of it begins with how we feel about who we are, what kind of creatures we are, and what ends we each have as both individuals and as larger groups. And here I can offer a very good criteria for how we should treat others and why.


We should all take notice that the ends we all have in mind are of a very specific subjective type. Although happiness is generally understood to stand for what we "subjectivists" have in mind, I think this is far too broad and insufficiently specific. What we really have in mind is something more like having high self-esteem. Really, it is having a positive self-concept, feeling good about who we are and our place in the world and being motivated by that experience to continue to feel this way. This easily leads into treating others the same way (the golden rule), since we feel best about ourselves when we do good by others, when we belong to a group which as a whole feels good about itself and is composed of individuals who feel good about themselves in similar fashion. This is what I am calling organismic ethics (actually, its psycho-organismic ethics, to be accurate).

Comment by Rob van Senten on January 19, 2011 at 7:45am

The question is that of whether it is ethical to claim entitlement to these things for oneself while indiscriminantly denying entitlement to them for others.


Not in my opinion, no. Although I do entitle myself to some entitlements that I think should be denied to others, I would not be motivated to do so indiscriminately. 


I would argue that the discriminate process whereby I argue which rights should be taken or granted, and to whom is subjective.

Comment by John Jubinsky on January 19, 2011 at 6:02am
@Hi Rob: I would like to get right to the point regarding a particular (non-personal) question. It involves a postulate that I hope I have demonstrated as acceptable. The postulate is that people (without legitimate mental illnesses) of all philosophical persuasions (narcissistic, selfish and altruistic) universally claim entitlement to what some call the basic human rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The question is that of whether it is ethical to claim entitlement to these things for oneself while indiscriminantly denying entitlement to them for others.
Comment by Jedi Wanderer on January 19, 2011 at 5:51am

I think this is a very decent attempt by John J to clear the air. I suggest we all take this as the point where the personal elements of the discussion can wash away and we can begin anew focused entirely now on the substantive discussion regarding humanism.


John J asks: "Wanderer, could you go deeper into the question of whether an objective morality might stem from what some call the basic human rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?"


Well it is like I siad earlier, the issue of human rights is a messy one. I wouldn't frame the question this way. I would rather ask, given what I have said about the foundation of ethics lying ultimately in our need to subjectively experience reality (including the parts of reality relevant to morality), can we arrive at a moral framework which resembles what we commonly refer to as human rights? If we answer in the affirmative, then we might be in the position of asking whether this moral framework might be treated as if it were objectively true.


My conclusion is that it probably does indeed turn out that way. It would take a lot of philosophical gymnastics to lay out this whole case from beginning to end, but let's say that I was able to do so. At this point I would hope that such a moral framework would be acceptable (to us atheists anyway) as a working platform from which we could defend our common position as secular humanists.

Comment by John Jubinsky on January 18, 2011 at 7:02pm
I feel that some clarification is in order. Firstly, my statement that the positions of people with legitimate mental illnesses should not be considered in determining moral values had nothing to do with you. You read into it that it was in reference to you. It was meant to be interpreted on its face to help establish that narcissistic, selfish and altruistic people alike claim entitlement to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and, as such, these values are norms. The mental illness comment was meant to preclude the comeback that suicidal people and others with legitimate mental illnesses do not value these things. Secondly, my position that you were sociopathic was founded in your statement that altruism was not good. Altruism is goodwill toward others. To seriously hold that goodwill toward others is not good is asocial at best (i.e., it is unprovoked indifference toward others at best ). Since by definition an asocial perspective is a sociopathic one my position that you were sociopathic was a logical deduction not an attack.

I hope this enables you to realize that my objective was never to attack you.

Its getting past my bedtime here so I will have to continue later. Notwithstanding, the question of whether morality is objective or subjective could be very interesting to discuss and I am looking forward to it.
Comment by Rob van Senten on January 18, 2011 at 5:39pm

@ John Jubinsky,

I certainly won't be disrespectful.

That's really great to hear John, so nice of you to teach us all that it's not disrespectful at all to call people mentally ill and a sociopath based on an incorrect assumption.

And no John, I do not approve of the sexual molestation of minors, thank you so much for asking.

Honestly and respectfully John, maybe it's time for you to read again what you wrote so far, you're getting old and it's easy for you to forget. Or does it only work when I use very respectfully? I'm yet to discover the exact recipe to the mix.

In all seriousness mr. Jubinsky and without the sarcasm of the above attempt at humor, respectful is not how I would I would describe your behavior so far.


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