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Interesting Easter Conversation, pt. 4 - Kurt's Life (or lack thereof) [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Kurt Onstad

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Interesting Easter Conversation, pt. 4 [Mar. 31st, 2002|07:01 pm]
Kurt Onstad

Kurt: Do you believe that we're the only creatures on the face of the planet who have a moral code?
IQ Pierce: Yes, I've seen apes that reject the selfish one. Perhaps it was seeing that which really got me started along that line of questioning. But in the end I could not swallow that they were the same thing. If Good is not eternal and everlasting and quite independent of us, what would be the point of it? I would have to tell myself "you should follow that instinct because it will lead to a better society." But isn't that itself a moral judgement made by my conscience?
IQ Pierce: and an example of my conscience being quite distinct from any such instinct
Kurt: Okay. A man's swimming in the ocean, and sharks come nearby. Dolphins show up, buffet the shark into swimming away and finding a better meal. Help the man back towards the shore. Where does that come from?
IQ Pierce: Um... so you're saying dolphins are sentient and have a moral code? But doesn't that example perfectly prove my point? If the dolphins are sentient and have a moral code, and it guides them to save a human - a member of another species - doesn't that show that their morality is quite independent of their evolution? Why would evolution train them to save other sentient species?
IQ Pierce: If it really was something that evolved with us, or them, it wouldn't bother about other species. Its only purpose in arising would be keeping that species in line. And if you say it's an instinct AMONG species, then why are they only protecting humans? (The shark WILL find another meal.) Again, they would recognize sentient life as more valuable, based on some objective standard.
Kurt: I'm saying that humans aren't necessarily the only ones out there that have developed a moral code. Many people believe that dolphins are just as intelligent as human beings. If they are self aware, doesn't that put some argument into the "Man is God's chosen, the only ones given free will."
IQ Pierce: I don't want to get into that, but I won't exclude it. (Ever read Lewis' Space Trilogy?) For me it only provides more proof of my point that Good and Bad must be objective, ultimate, eternal, and quite independent of anything in ourselves. If that's not the case, the universe is senseless.
Kurt: It doesn't necessarily make Good and Bad "objective, ultimate, eternal, and quite independent of anything in ourselves." It could just mean we developed along similar lines. In fact, how many humans would risk their lives to rescue another creature that they have no emotional attachment to (i.e., not a pet)
IQ Pierce: The fact that we wouldn't rescue another species could just prove that our morality is inferior. Which again implies a higher standard independent of the moralities we actually have... something ultimate.
Kurt: So, would that make dolphins closer to God?
IQ Pierce: Now you're just being silly.
IQ Pierce: Only Nine Inch Nails is closer to God, you know that.
Kurt: Only when he's f**king her like an animal... :-)
IQ Pierce: This conversation is dissolving so fast. You had to bring dolphins into it! >:-)
Kurt: I actually wasn't trying to be silly. You said this showed an inferior morality to another species. What does that say about that other species?
IQ Pierce: Well the way you put it sounded ridiculous. I think the whole thing about dolphins gets us off topic; even if they have their own morality, and even by your own philoshophy, it doesn't matter to us. And I don't think what you cited is a clear example they do.
Kurt: Well, you separate our conscience from animal instinct. I say they're not necessarily that far off from each other.
IQ Pierce: But our animal instinct will pass away, and is dependent on ourselves. It is not ultimate, it might just as easily have been otherwise. I can't believe that Good is that way.
Kurt: I have a hard time believing in Ultimate anything...In a world with as many shades of grey as ours, how can you find anything that everyone agrees is the Ultimate Good?
IQ Pierce: "Think of a country where people were admired for running away in battle, or where a man felt proud of double-crossing all the people who had been kindest to him. You might just as well try to imagine a country where two and two made five."
Kurt: Interesting quote. But, being a mathematician, I can show you some interesting worlds where two and two don't necessarily equal four, but are still mathematically valid.
IQ Pierce: Vector spaces, whee. The quote is from C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, which says many of these things far better than I can or have.
IQ Pierce: Again, one of my early points... you exaggerate the supposed differences between moralities. All humans agree on the basic good. Even when it's absolutely inconverient to them, even when it might result in their own death, their conscience can recognize it as good. And what if the only way for us to survive was to travel to another planet and kill all the sentient lifeforms on it and take the planet on our own?
IQ Pierce: We would recognize that such a thing was Bad, even though not doing it would result in the death of our entire species. Clearly Good and Bad are independent of what is good or bad for us as individuals OR as species.
Kurt: But, just because what we see as Good and Evil is separate from what is good and bad for ourselves as individuals or as a species in every case doesn't mean it comes from someplace separate from us. Not every evolutionary change that continues is going to be improve the survival of the species for every case. Just the majority.
IQ Pierce: Well, on that note I'm afraid I have to sign off, I lost track of how much I'm tying up the phone here at home.
Kurt: Okay. Good talking with you, though.
IQ Pierce: Great discussion though; see ya.

All in all, an interesting conversation. Neither side's viewpoint was changed much, if at all, but hopefully, it will get other people thinking...