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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 1: Sun Oct 20, 2019 5:06 pm
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Where does Morality Come From?

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A have a memory that occasionally haunts me. I suppose I was 13 or so. My brothers and I often walked a block down our alley to Seattle Pacific College to play football. Watching a great film noir movie, "This Gun for Hire," with Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake brings this memory back.

Lake has always reminded me of a young lady, prob'ly an SPC student, 10 or so years older than us. Blonde and attractive. She lived in rooms in the house at the end of our alley, by the college. She had two kids, one named Lance [?]. He had some kind of mild disability and glasses. His brother was younger and a much better genetic specimen.

Naturally the younger kids would want to play football with us. We may have tolerated them when desperate for players. I'm sure we teased Lance.

Anyway, over the years I've thought of this young mother from time to time; of the struggle she must have had as a single parent with a disabled child. I wonder about her. It would be wonderful to be able to go back in time and let her know she was appreciated, admired; that she was a heroine. We were too young then to ever say anything or do much besides tease Lance. Shame.

So my question is, where does this empathy come from? This memory is nearly 60 years old. I have no morality I trace to religion. But there is this shared sense of belonging, of fairness, of ... I have no name for it. Where does it come from?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 2: Sun Oct 20, 2019 5:46 pm
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Re: Where does Morality Come From?

Like this post (1): bluegreenearth
[Replying to post 1 by Danmark]

Empathy is not morality. Morality is a pressure upon the will to take a certain course of action in some scenario; or, the abstract, a conviction that in a scenario certain courses of action are congruent with a standard that transcends mere animal desire, and certain courses of action are not. Empathy is an emotional mirroring of another's emotional state: you feel what the other is feeling because you have experienced something similar. Sympathy is an emotional echo of another: a person is sad, and you feel sadness for the person.

I think the OP has nothing to do with morality; what exactly can you do now? What should you have done then? Rather, it has to do with the emotion of sympathy.

Quote:
But there is this shared sense of belonging, of fairness, of ... I have no name for it. Where does it come from?


Theists will say it reflects divine intention; that an original plan has gone awry, and we continue to feel the angst.

Evolutionists will say that the feeling is a biological accident; one which, if it happens to contribute to biological survival, will spread; if it is not conducive to biological survival, it will one day disappear. Thus the quesiton of why you feel this, is no more a significant question than why some beetles have horns. For the beetle the evolutionist answer is: an offspring beetle randomly got horns. It just so happened to survive long enough to copulate. And these offspring just so happened to survive to copulate even more. And so it just so happens that we now have horned beetles.

Thus for the case of human sympathy: at some point in our family tree an organism randomly felt things like sympathy. It could very well have died without passing on that phenomenon. But it didn't. It passed it on. Now we feel sympathy. Perhaps one day the human race will no longer feel it.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 3: Sun Oct 20, 2019 6:00 pm
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My response in a current thread:

Zzyzx wrote:

Morality is grounded in the culture in which one lives. Every culture and sub-culture develops its ‘mores’ – defined as: the traditional customs and ways of behaving that are typical of a particular (part of) society https://dictionary.cambridge.org

There is great variation from culture to culture and from time to time regarding what is acceptable (moral) behavior. Individuals adopt, to greater or lesser extent, the mores / morals of their culture or sub-culture to develop their personal morals (which they may follow to greater or lesser extent).

There are NO universal morals (true in all places at all times) and NO objective morals (free from influence of human minds). Even genocide, murder, rape, slavery, infanticide, etc are morally acceptable in some cultures at some times.

Lofty claims of superior morals are self-serving opinions. Claims that morals are pronounced by ‘gods’ are unfounded / unsupported / perhaps delusional.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 4: Sun Oct 20, 2019 6:08 pm
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Re: Where does Morality Come From?

Like this post (3): OnceConvinced, Divine Insight, benchwarmer
liamconnor wrote:

[Replying to post 1 by Danmark]

Empathy is not morality.

I completely disagree. Empathy is what fuels morality. Without empathy, a sense of reciprocity, where would true morality come from? What you suggest is what I'd call a false morality; a "painted on" phony morality where we learn to do what is thought to be right. This is the morality of the sociopath who does not really understand what is right, but learns to fake it, to do what is expected in public situations.

But, Thanks! You have helped me better understand the 'morality' of religion as opposed to the natural morality that arises from genuine concern for others.

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MPG Recipient Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 5: Sun Oct 20, 2019 6:18 pm
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Re: Where does Morality Come From?

Like this post (2): OnceConvinced, Danmark
Danmark wrote:

So my question is, where does this empathy come from?


I think part of it obviously comes from maturity. As you said, when you were younger you teased someone that you might now feel empathy for. All that has changed is your life's experience and the fact that you see things differently today than you did back then.

I would suggest that these same factors effect a lot more than just feelings of empathy.

When I look back over my life I see countless example where I wish I had the insight and wisdom I have today. Not only would have I been more empathetic to others, but I would have been wiser in many other ways as well. I would be wiser in many areas that have nothing at all to do with morality or feelings of empathy.

So I would say that it comes from experience, and possibly even a greater appreciation of life as we get older. Let's not forget that when we were young we often viewed ourselves as being virtually invincible and because of this we tended to take life for granted. As we approach old-age, we physically feel the aches and pains of deterioration setting in, as well as becoming far more aware that everything is fleeting and we may very well only have a single shot at doing what we truly want to do.

So I would say that it comes from life's experience, and a growing appreciation for life that we tended to take for granted at earlier times in our lives.

Also, it might be wise to note that there actually exist some young people who exhibit empathy at an early age. In those cases it could be genetic, or the physical wiring of their brains. Or possibly due to their own life's experience as they were growing up. Everyone has different experiences. Perhaps people who are more easily hurt by others are more likely to feel empathy toward others? While people who aren't easily hurt don't even think about how other people might feel so much.

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MPG Recipient Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 6: Mon Oct 21, 2019 5:30 am
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Re: Where does Morality Come From?

Like this post (1): OnceConvinced
liamconnor wrote:

Evolutionists will say that the feeling is a biological accident...

"Accident" implies something went wrong or went against the plan. We need another word that convey the idea of without intention minus the negative connotation. Perhaps "incidental."

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 7: Mon Oct 21, 2019 8:07 am
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Re: Where does Morality Come From?

Like this post (2): Neatras, Bust Nak
Bust Nak wrote:

liamconnor wrote:

Evolutionists will say that the feeling is a biological accident...

"Accident" implies something went wrong or went against the plan. We need another word that convey the idea of without intention minus the negative connotation. Perhaps "incidental."


Maybe "emergent property?"

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 8: Mon Oct 21, 2019 3:47 pm
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Re: Where does Morality Come From?

Like this post (2): brunumb, Diagoras
Divine Insight wrote:

Danmark wrote:

So my question is, where does this empathy come from?


I think part of it obviously comes from maturity. As you said, when you were younger you teased someone that you might now feel empathy for. All that has changed is your life's experience and the fact that you see things differently today than you did back then.


So true.

I, like Danmark, have a story that in some ways is similar. Something that haunts me even now as an ex-Christian.

When I was 6 or 7 years old, I bullied a very shy girl in my class at school. Me and a friend even threw stones at her when we got off the bus. So she would escape the bus first and make a run for it before we threw the stones at her. One time she was being friendly towards me and I pulled her hair and made her cry.

At the time I didn't feel much in the way of empathy or remorse.

Now when I think about it, I am furious at myself for being so mean. I wish I could see that woman now, if she is still alive and apologise. But no, I have to live with what I did and the guilt still eats away at me sometimes.

For someone to say empathy has nothing to do with morals, I have to wonder whether such a person understands empathy at all.

When it came to that girl... Shortly after that I was at a school where I was bullied terribly by many people. I was the one in her shoes. The shy kid being picked on. It taught me a valuable lesson and it taught me empathy.

Once I had learnt empathy (ie being able to put myself in the shoes of someone else) I learnt a very good moral and that was don't be a bully.

It didn't take a god to teach me that. On the contrary. I was brought up in a Christian home and already a genuine beleiver when I bullied this girl. God didn't teach me not to bully. What taught me was empathy.

Now I'm the sort of person who will stand up against bullies. I'll be the first one there to back up someone I think is being picked on. I just hope that girl back then went on to live a happy life despite people like me.


Divine Insight wrote:

When I look back over my life I see countless example where I wish I had the insight and wisdom I have today. Not only would have I been more empathetic to others, but I would have been wiser in many other ways as well. I would be wiser in many areas that have nothing at all to do with morality or feelings of empathy.


Empathy is a huge reason why I maintain most of the same morals I did as a Christian. I put myself into other people's shoes and try to image what it would be like if I were in their situation.

Empathy not only helps you develop a good moral system, it also helps you try to understand others. For instance, all those religions I once ridiculed and slammed as being Satanic, eg JW, Witchcraft, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Mormanism etc etc, I now look at and see people who are genuine believers who really want to be good people and do good things. That doesn't mean I respect their beliefs, but I can put myself in their shoes (empathy) and have some understanding of why they follow those creeds.


Quote:
So I would say that it comes from experience, and possibly even a greater appreciation of life as we get older.


That is the only conclusion I can come to as well. We learn, especially when we find ourselves in the same situation as other people (as I did with the bullying).

Generally as we become older, we learn more about ourselves and others. When we do bad things we feel bad and it's not a nice feeling, so we change what we do so we don't feel bad anymore. (empathy).

I hate the thought of hurting other people. (empathy). As a result I try not to harm other people. Thus I choose good morals.

Divine Insight wrote:

Also, it might be wise to note that there actually exist some young people who exhibit empathy at an early age. In those cases it could be genetic, or the physical wiring of their brains.


Agreed. My son, for instance, has always been a kind caring person who always thinks of others ahead of him. He seemed to be able to exhibit empathy from a very early age.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 9: Mon Oct 21, 2019 7:16 pm
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Re: Where does Morality Come From?

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[Replying to post 4 by Danmark]

Quote:
I completely disagree. Empathy is what fuels morality


If empathy is what fuels morality, it can't be morality, simply based on your grammar. Gasoline fuels fire: fire is not gasoline.

I never denied a connection; but empathy is not morality. For instance, a man can feel empathy for another who committed murder: that does not mean that the committed murder was necessarily right.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 10: Mon Oct 21, 2019 7:22 pm
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Re: Where does Morality Come From?

Like this post (1): Bust Nak
[Replying to post 6 by Bust Nak]

Good point!

I used the term "accidental" only because many who claim to embrace "evolution" in fact do not, they embrace a kind of pantheistic "strive toward better complexity".

Under the Evolutionary scheme it is all "incidental" (and I think that is a much better term).

The mutation that happens to survive and result in a functioning and adaptive horned beetle is no more or less incidental than the mutation that is cancerous and kills its host, or than the one that results in fully functioning organism that, nonetheless, is now at a disadvantage given its current environment.

Yes?

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