\\\\\\\\\LIKE ERICH VON STROHEIM IN THE MOVIES: THE MAN YOU LOVE TO HATE/////////

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Ask An Anarchist, Part 4

(image courtesy BlackboardCamilleRoy.Com)


[Editor's Note: Recently (dis)pencer, the subject of this "Ask An Anarchist" series, filled in as "guest columnist" for Smithers during a Smithers Family vacation over at SmithersMPLS. In his introductory post, (dis)pencer identified himself as an anarchist. And, just like that, you have the makings of our "Ask An Anarchist" series.

The "Ask An Anarchist" series is for entertainment only. It represents the thoughts and ideas of two amateur philosophers, so don't take it for anything more than that. If you should cite this for any academic research project, you'll get what you deserve.

Without further ado, enjoy.]


Click here for "Ask An Anarchist, Part 1"
Click here for "Ask An Anarchist, Part 2"
Click here for "Ask An Anarchist, Part 3"


After my third question, I stopped bothering (dis)pencer with regard to anarchy. The simple reason for this was that it had become fairly clear to me that we had come to a point in the dialogue where we were arguing chicken vs. egg.

(dis)pencer believes that societal ills are the product of the social institutions that we have created for ourselves.

Tuffy believes that societal ills are the product of the human condition. Therefore, any institution that humans create is going to be beset by these ills. It is unavoidable, in my mind.

The societal ills that I believe are inherent to the human condition are the following:
--Pride
--Greed
--Lust
--Envy
--Gluttony
--Wrath
--Sloth

You've heard of them before: they are commonly referred to as the "seven deadly sins" or "capital vices" or "capital sins" of Christianity.

Now, say what you want about Christian faith systems, but the reality is that the Bible and other ancient religious texts are products of the societies in which they were originally produced.

Therefore, it was apparent over two thousand years ago that there were certain ills displayed by humans that were harmful to the society as a whole.

And these very same ills are still harmful to society today, regardless of the governmental, economic, and political composition a society chooses to follow.

The problem, as I see it, lies within the human condition, not within human constructs.

13 Comments:

Blogger Wiki said...

And you thought the Matrix was just a movie...

Wed Aug 09, 08:40:00 AM 2006

 
Blogger AdamB said...

I didn't realize you were Catholic until just now.

Has every society been equally unjust? Have those ills been present to the same degree?

Even in current societies, some are more equitable and just than others. I'd rather live in, say, Canada than North Korea.

Or even South Korea would be preferable (in case some smartass racists out there still want to say the difference is genetically determined).

Wed Aug 09, 08:56:00 AM 2006

 
Blogger Tuffy said...

Who said anything about being Catholic?

Using an example of ancient thought does not necessarily mean that the individual is a follower of that system of thought.

It was an example, not a personal statement.

Wed Aug 09, 09:28:00 AM 2006

 
Blogger T3 said...

"The problem, as I see it, lies within the human condition, not within human constructs."

wurd!

Wed Aug 09, 09:36:00 AM 2006

 
Blogger Sarah said...

So wait. I'm confused. Back up. Who's the chicken and who's the egg?

Wed Aug 09, 11:11:00 AM 2006

 
Blogger Tuffy said...

Spencer's the chicken. He's always the chicken.

Wed Aug 09, 11:14:00 AM 2006

 
Blogger AdamB said...

Huh. I guess I got thrown off by the deadly sins and I thought you went to St. Mary's or something like that.

It's interesting that you list those, though, because I would guess most people would list things like poverty, violence, drugs, cars, etc. I haven't heard too many exposes of gluttony or lust lately, which leads me to think that "ills" are another socially defined category. These days people are less concerned with private morality and more concerned with public crimes.

Wed Aug 09, 02:09:00 PM 2006

 
Blogger Tuffy said...

It's interesting that you list those, though, because I would guess most people would list things like poverty, violence, drugs, etc.

"Poverty" is a function of greed.
"Violence" would equal wrath.
"Drugs" would probably fall under gluttony.

Wed Aug 09, 02:42:00 PM 2006

 
Blogger AdamB said...

Hmm, well, I guess it depends how you'd define the categories. But it seems to me that there have been times where people would say that witchcraft was a social ill (or, more recently, homosexuality). Whereas racism is a relatively new social ill.

Really, the only thing that could possibly be exogenous to culture is religion, right? Everything else is invented by people and thus a product of its social milieu, but God's word is supposed to be eternal and universal. The counter-argument would be that religion either has several inherent social biases or God hates women.

Some people even assert that mathematics is a social construct. (I think that's argued in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance or something.) I'm not sure I'd go that far, but the social relevance of mathematics seems to be rather limited, so it doesn't matter much.

If one accepts the argument that religion is just another social construct and there is no "natural law", then it would make sense that social ills or even categories of right and wrong are socially constructed. We only see things as wrong because we're programmed that way. If one grew up in Nazi Germany, one might feel differently about genocide, for example.

So then it would appear that there is no "sin" or "human condition", that's it's all a product of the time and place.

But, why make a choice at all? Why characterize the debate as chicken vs. egg, then choose the egg? I thought the whole idea of the chicken and the egg is that you can't choose either!

Wed Aug 09, 04:27:00 PM 2006

 
Blogger AdamB said...

I mean, what is "evil", universally? Across all times and places, what is something that everyone would recognize as evil?

That's why I'm pointing out the Seven Deadly Sins. Those have been interpreted very differently in different times to include a wide and shifting range of phenomena, and thus it seems like a particularly limited example, a classic instance of historically specific morality.

I mean, we don't see to many Spanish Inquisitions these days, right? Not so many heretics burned. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Wouldn't the answer depend on when you were born?


OK, I guess I can see what you're saying though. Like maybe our chimp brains have certain coding for behaviors that are ultimately destructive. Childbirth is painful--genes have no concern for the happiness of their host. Behaviors that are genetically selected to increase our evolutionary fitness might be the roots of social ills.

Fair 'nuff, but what about the possibility that we can grow to understand and control our natural predispositions? Just as Splenda fires the neurons that sugar did without the calories, maybe someday in the future we'll have "rape & pillage" video games that will satisfy our chimpanzee brains.

I guess eventually you get into the sort of "Brave New World" utopia problem, where, even if you could get rid of social ills you might not want to. Maybe it comes down to that question: Assuming that Utopia is possible, is it desirable?


Alright, I'm done. Thanks for letting me ramble. It's been fun.

Wed Aug 09, 04:48:00 PM 2006

 
Blogger StevenCX said...

'Really, the only thing that could possibly be exogenous to culture is religion, right?'
Religion is totally a cultural creation, hence the many different types of religion and the ensuing cultural consequences. 'God' only 'hates' women in certain interpretations of certain religions.
'But, why make a choice at all? Why characterize the debate as chicken vs. egg, then choose the egg? I thought the whole idea of the chicken and the egg is that you can't choose either!'
The analogy still applies, in that certain aspects of the human condition give rise to certain common aspects of all religions. For example, we all will die one day. A big purpose of religion is to comfort us with an expectation of an eternal afterlife of some sort. We all wonder where we came from, and all religions offer some sort of 'genesis'.
'Maybe it comes down to that question: Assuming that Utopia is possible, is it desirable?'
Speaking of The Matrix...

Thu Aug 10, 05:56:00 AM 2006

 
Blogger (dis)pencer said...

every nation throughout history has been destroyed.

maybe it's time to try a different theory.

when the deadly sins were thought up and written down there was government already in place.

do you think they'd have been different if they'd been written before an authoritarian system was in place?

since they weren't written before, can we then assume that things we're generally ok before greed and sloth, etc got involved?

i'm not a philosopher, or a teacher, or anything, and i am certianly not asking anyone to "believe" me, or whatever.
tuffy asked and i answered.
i am glad you are all talking though, it is important to know why you believe in the system to do, whatever system that is.

thanks everyone who has commented.

(and please blame any poor spelling and grammer on the US educational system).

Thu Aug 10, 10:44:00 AM 2006

 
Blogger Andy said...

I think that when you get married, you will have a very difficult time adjusting

Thu Aug 24, 09:47:00 AM 2006

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home