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Missing the mark in raising the bar 
4th-Nov-2010 03:28 pm
hi, files, actor, go, hello
It is often said that Jesus "raised the bar" when he said "every time you lay eyes on a woman to lust after her" or similar.

But really, this is totally false. Divorce and murder are rules regarding behaviour. Of course, in a society you have to set up such rules so that everyone knows what is and isn't allowed. What takes place inside you is not "more" nor "less" than that - it is just something completely different.

If your inner behaviour helps you conform to a desired outer behaviour - more power to you. But really, this is your own decision and not something that a godbeing/son of god/magic man in the sky can decide and decree for you.
4th-Nov-2010 02:45 pm (UTC)
You're right. It's OK to consider black people inferior -- as long as you are still willing to let them sit in the front of the bus. But the two are unrelated!
4th-Nov-2010 07:06 pm (UTC)
It is neither okay nor not okay to consider black people inferior. It is simply factually and demonstrably false, at least for any given definition of "inferior" that I can think of.

Do you consider your blatant cynicism OK in the context of your own worldview, by the way?
4th-Nov-2010 07:21 pm (UTC)
Well, I guess that one went right over your head.
(Deleted comment)
4th-Nov-2010 07:55 pm (UTC)
Well, a personal attack is definitely a good way to deflect criticism from your rather weak post.
5th-Nov-2010 06:35 am (UTC)
Dude, I gave you my honest opinion about your comment and called you out on your cynicism. Then you went arrogant because you didn't have anything useful to contribute. Now you're outing yourself as the worthless christian scam artist you really are.
5th-Nov-2010 01:26 pm (UTC)
So you can't actually offer a defense of your post? You actually believe that a society's goal is simply to legislate against acts of racial prejudice -- and not to foster racial harmony? And you don't see any functional relationship between these two goals?

This is a remarkable position -- and not unlike that of a creationist, since it flies inthe face of all evidence.
6th-Nov-2010 06:36 pm (UTC)
I saw no reason to defend anything, since the flaws in your question were so glaringly obvious.

Anyway, I'll spell it out for you.

You asked whether it is "OK" to think that black people are inferior, or somesuch.

In itself, this is unanswerable - it doesn't make any sense, since you didn't say what you mean by "OK".

This is perfect evidence for the problem I'm pointing out.

Is it legally punishable in my country to think that way? Sure as hell not. Laws cannot regulate thoughts. Their goal is just to regulate social interactions.

Is it conformant with reality? Not for any meaning of "inferior" that I am aware of.

Is it a very useful, beneficial or healing thought? Not in my opinion, no.

But thoughts are not deeds. It's a different category of action, for several reasons: One, humans are usually not very good at choosing their thoughts. Two, they are inward, subjective, not objectively verifiable, at least not yet. (When we get there, we actually will face the problem of thought legislation, which might turn out pretty ugly.) And three, they are not a social interaction.

In short, humans can choose their actions, but not their thoughts (and even less so their emotions). Therefore, they are not liable for their thoughts in the same way as for their actions.

So, the metaphor of "raising the bar" does not apply. It implies a quantitative change, when the change is really qualitative. Jesus is trying to regulate thoughts.

Now, of course, thoughts may accumulate and cause deeds at some point. But no-one can say how many thoughts of what kind might lead to a certain action. When I think that black people are inferior, HOW OFTEN exactly do I have to entertain that thought, in what timespan, with what intensity, etc., until I start shooting at them? No-one knows.

But of course, destructive cults such as christianity or scientology will always blur that distinction. That is because, barring sheer physical force, this is the only way they have of controlling their followers. Nothing better than a prescription that cannot be followed, right, pastor?
6th-Nov-2010 06:54 pm (UTC)
Absolutely. When I encourage people not to be homophobic, I am engaging in mind control. I am glad you clarified that for me.

From now on, I will just suggest to people that they simply refrain from murdering queers. Thanks for the tip!
(Deleted comment)
6th-Nov-2010 08:23 pm (UTC)
You're right. There is nothing evil about homophobia, racial hatred or unforgiveness. My bad.
6th-Nov-2010 09:47 pm (UTC)
Not only are you unable to get what I'm saying, you're unable to envision, even just as a thought-experiment, that there might perhaps be other models out there that do not conform to your tiny worldview and might perhaps be equally valid, if not better.

You are unable to transcend your worldview even for a moment, and try to envision a world in which things are just what they are, with no simplistic good/bad label attached.

In fact, thanks for proving my point. Your worldview disempowers you to a point where you actually think you can throw shit at people who see further than you, and be justified in spouting vitriolic nonsense. I bet you were proud when you wrote that. Tell me, what exactly makes you proud about evading the question, not actually taking part in the discussion, and still feeling justified?

I'm saying this without even accusing you. I don't think you're evil or inherently bad. You might actually have potential. It's the ideology you fell for that blinds you. I have the impression that you literally cannot think outside that box.

And that, dear pastor, saddens me to a degree that you cannot even imagine; for it is a tremendous and completely unnecessary waste of human potential.
6th-Nov-2010 09:52 pm (UTC)
I understand that you are further along in the development of your "human potential" than I am because you don't believe racial hatred is evil.

Please forgive me for being so spiritually retarded.
6th-Nov-2010 10:27 pm (UTC)
You still fail to give even the least shred of a reasonable argument for why it would be more beneficial to consider thoughts in a good/evil framework than not doing so. You never replied to any one of my points. You simply assume that your worldview is true, and then go on to misrepresent what I said so you can attack the straw man.

How deeply, deeply pitiful.
6th-Nov-2010 10:44 pm (UTC)
The reasonable argument is that it's bad to hate Jews. Do you think it's not bad to hate Jews?

Plus I guess you're missing out on how ironic it is that you're so troubled about how someone else is thinking -- because it doesn't align with how you think -- and how you're trying to bring them over to your "correct" side.


Edited at 2010-11-06 10:58 pm (UTC)
7th-Nov-2010 06:34 am (UTC)
Define "bad". What exactly do you mean by "hate"?

It's weirdly interesting to see that thin layer of rationality that you were trying so hard to keep up for so long, finally washed away by your anger. Give in to it... let it guide you, Luke, let it flow through you... Yes, take up that sword and hit, and hit hard...!
7th-Nov-2010 12:55 pm (UTC)
Yes, those were caps of rage! LOL!
7th-Nov-2010 04:24 pm (UTC)
It is perfectly fine not to participate in a discussion, if you feel you're out of your depth.
7th-Nov-2010 06:34 pm (UTC)
Indeed. So you should probably stop commenting if you're not able to tell me what it is about hating Jews that is not bad.
(Deleted comment)
7th-Nov-2010 09:43 pm (UTC)
It's interesting that you make comments like this -- and then assert that other people's minds are clouded by negative emotion.

By "bad" in this particular case I mean the full spectrum of negative value -- morally wrongn, ontologically disordered, and functionally contrary to the summum bonum.

Now can you tell me a sense in which hating Jews is not bad?
8th-Nov-2010 07:01 am (UTC)
Not one of your descriptions of what "bad" might mean is actually very descriptive or useful. It is just theological blahblah that only works within the very limited framework of one specific, outdated worldview. That is exactly the point of my posting, thanks for proving it. Thanks for trying, though.

A much more useful question might be: Looking at all the people who directed hate at all jews - how many do you think were leading more happy lives than people who were living their lives trying to practice love towards all other people? So in the light of this, if you were free to choose love or hate, what would you take?

Hating all jews can and most probably will lead to consequences that the speaker did not desire. However, people choose to hate because at that time in their lives, this seems to them like the most viable option. Once they start to see more options, they will probably start rethinking their choice.
8th-Nov-2010 02:07 pm (UTC)
So I guess you dopn't actually unerstand what the phrase "functionally contrary to the summum bonum" means.

Protip: It's not a theological term.

But I'm glad your approach to racism and homophobia is to just sort of wait it out. We should definitely stop educating people about the problematic nature of their prejudices.

Edited at 2010-11-08 02:08 pm (UTC)
8th-Nov-2010 04:11 pm (UTC)
Since I'm looking for a discussion with people who are actually able and willing to conceptualise things outside their ideological framework, this discussion has now ended.

Props, though. You're great at setting up strawmen and attacking them. You might want to make some business from that... only, wait... that's what you've been doing all along...

Ciao honey.
8th-Nov-2010 04:22 pm (UTC)
You're right. A discussion is only worthwhile if people don't invoke Aristotle or Kant.
22nd-Nov-2010 12:36 pm (UTC)
This comment breaks almost every community rule listed in the user info, which is why I am banning you from the community.
4th-Nov-2010 09:24 pm (UTC)
You offer no argument for the falsity of viewing Jesus’ increase of the scope of the Law to include interior acts (acts of mind and will) and not just exterior ones (physical behavior). You say that divorce and murder are rules pertaining to the latter. This is correct. But when you say, “What takes place inside you is not ‘more’ nor ‘less’ than that - it is just something completely different,” this gives us no reason to reject the idea that Jesus has raised the bar. The raising of the bar is clearly not understood to refer, by those who employ this metaphor, to a mere quantitative more-or-less, but raising the bar from including only exterior acts to also including interior acts. That is a clear difference. Qualitative instead of merely quantitative? Sure. But this is no reason to refuse metaphors and analogies in which there is a quantitative increase, such as “bar-raising.”

As for your last paragraph, which seems to have no logical connection to your first flawed argument, two things can be said. First, inner behavior can be just as immoral as outward behavior. Morals pertain to what ought to be done, and our will has sway—however occasionally imperfect it may be—over our interior acts just as it does over our exterior acts. Hence on the Christian view we are missing the mark not only if we are acting lustfully, but also if we are thinking lustfully. This point of view has much to recommend it, even independently of the Christian worldview. See, for example, Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and Rosalind Hursthouse’s On Virtue Ethics (esp. pp. 108-20, which deals with the relation between virtue and emotion).

Second, you offer no argument for why the propriety of our decisions could not be commanded by God. (By all means, say something about the Euthyphro dilemma. I am just waiting to take you to task on that one.)
5th-Nov-2010 06:47 am (UTC)
Okay, there's a point to that. I would argue, however, that most of "those who employ this metaphor" actually understand it as quantitative. Or rather, that they (intentionally or unintentionally) use animage that can be understood both ways, most probably because they never really think about what it means. It's just the problem with overused metaphors. Because, if you take the metaphor literally, it is definitely quantitative. And that's simply wrong.

As for your second paragraph, I won't go into that. Christianity is simply wrong here, but it's futile to argue over that - it's simply a point of ideology. We wouldn't ever be able to convince each other in that respect.

As for the third paragraph: Simple. God doesn't exist. Sorry.
8th-Nov-2010 09:26 pm (UTC)
I would argue that very few who employ that metaphor understand it as quantitative, because the principle of hermeneutical charity (without which communication crumbles and we might as well stop talking) dictates that people generally know what they are talking to communicate and, thus, people generally aren't going to use a metaphor that patently does not refer to anything. It doesn't take a genius to see that interior acts are different in kind and not in quantity (whatever the hell that would mean) from exterior actions.

If Christianity is wrong, then Aristotle is wrong. But if Aristotle is wrong, then his arguments in NE (and as elaborated by modern virtue theorists like Hursthouse) are wrong. But anyone who reads them and understands them will recognize that they are sound (unless under the grip of some erroneous presuppositions, which we can treat if they come up). Therefore, Aristotle is not wrong. Hence, Christianity is not wrong. And finally, your appeal to futility and ideology shows that you have no backbone. If you're unable to be convinced by Aristotle's arguments, then that's a defect on your part and not on mine. Your moral views presuppose a compartmentalization of the inner life and a separation of it from our concrete, lived existence. Our mind is not some homunculus that sits inside our head and watches everything through our eyes. Our mind and our body are both under the sway of our will, and thus all such acts are ones for which we are morally responsible. To say otherwise is to misunderstand the relation of morality to will.

And clearly God does exist, because no other explanation suffices for the existence of the universe.
4th-Nov-2010 10:33 pm (UTC)
But really, you're totally wrong.
5th-Nov-2010 06:37 am (UTC)
Now, THAT is what I call a well-reasoned argument!
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