Morality, Emotion and Politics

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Jan 4 2016 11:39
Morality, Emotion and Politics

While this is clearly connected with the animal lib stuff on another thread, I don't want to get into another vegan debate. That said, if anyone wants to use it in examples then fair enough.

So, many times, on various topics, the subject of morals and emotions in relation to political views has come up and I've never really understood the reasoning that communism has nothing to do with morals or ethics. Sure, I know that it is centred around the power relations created and sustained by capital but surely there is more to it than that? I consider all oppression to be immoral/unethical. There is right and wrong in the world and these are surely subject to moral examination?
I found a comment by Chilli particularly interesting;

Quote:
But I do sort of feel like UV and Webby have put forward arguments that don't rise above an emotional level above an emotional level.

Note that it says above an emotional level, indicating that there is some sort of hierarchy of responses and that ones effected by emotion come pretty low in the pecking order. Where does this idea come from? Is not a response inspired by anger at injustice of some sort not just as valuable as one based on a political ideology? I would have said a combination of the two would be likely to create the best ideas. I really think that if we don't change personally along with the political landscape any revolution would be doomed to failure. Politics, the organisation of society surely has to incorporate human desire and physical, mental and spiritual requirements. These include a moral outlook so shouldn't our politics accommodate this?

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Jan 4 2016 11:55

I've just noticed that Steven has locked the vegan thread largely due to my initial post advocating kicking the shit out of people. This was a stupid post and I don't really think that - it was pure flaming and I was being a dick. I'm sorry about this, it's not really how I want to be and actually I'm currently getting some professional help around this shit coz IRL I've been picking fights with cops which is going to end badly for sure. I came close to arrest a little while ago and got ejected from a football match which was not a nice experience.
I could respond to Steven's ethical shopping argument as I think there is a big difference in the two scenarios being compared but you know, enough already.

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Jan 4 2016 11:56

Good topic for discussion. I don't think anyone would say that emotional arguments don't have any basis. However what chilli sauce was saying was that the argument didn't rise above an emotional level.

So avoiding the emotive subject of animal rights, let's use sweatshops as an example instead. An emotional argument would be sweatshops are bad, therefore people who buy sweatshop products are bad.

This does not rise above an emotional level. I wouldn't say there are a hierarchy of responses, but I would say that you can also make logical arguments, or radical arguments (or many other types, I'm just thinking of a couple).

Even on purely logical grounds, you could argue that as sweatshops are bad, anyone who buys sweatshop products are also bad. But if you want to make a radical argument, then you need to go bit deeper than that. So what is "bad"? Sure, sweatshops are bad, but we want to end them. And does dismissing, or hating, or wishing physical violence upon those who use sweatshop products help bring them to an end?

I don't think so. So then what would? Workers organising, and ultimately fighting against sweatshop conditions. So instead of hating people who use sweatshop products, it makes more sense to support workers' organising efforts in sweatshop industries.

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Jan 4 2016 12:24

Steven, I absolutely don't want to get into an animal rights debate but I have to say my argument is not based on the idea of ethical shopping which is in my view a load of liberal tosh. FTR, I'm constantly making this point in online vegan discussions elsewhere. Needless to say, the vast majority of these people are so amazed by the idea that the way they spend their money is not going to make any difference at all that they practically go into meltdown. It's another thing altogether which I did describe in the other thread.

So moving on from that, this word 'above' definitely indicates that other forms of response are in some way better. Am I getting confused through differences in understanding of terms or getting caught up in semantics? This is what interests me and whilst animal lib is probably a perfect topic for this I'd rather steer well clear!
Factvalue has been kind of putting forward ideas around this so I'd be pleased to get his input along with everyone else's.

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Jan 4 2016 14:59
Webby wrote:
So, many times, on various topics, the subject of morals and emotions in relation to political views has come up and I've never really understood the reasoning that communism has nothing to do with morals or ethics. Sure, I know that it is centred around the power relations created and sustained by capital but surely there is more to it than that? I consider all oppression to be immoral/unethical. There is right and wrong in the world and these are surely subject to moral examination?

I first came to denounce capitalism and support communism on ethical grounds. I was young and upset with my material situation and what I saw going on in the world. I only later came to understand materialist arguments against capitalism, and these quickly gained my support in that they offer 'stronger' (not couched in individual conceptions of right/wrong) arguments. I guess this is the root of my 'hierarchy' of argument. I know that emotional / moral experiences are important, humanistic aspects of life; they are just unneeded in order to effectively and consistently denounce capitalism or support communism.

The thing I took away from my experience is that capitalism essentially forbids moral / ethical consistency if one wishes to exist. Simply living in this shit show implicates oneself in a litany of abysmal practices of which the poor morals/ethics of are beyond question (wage labor!). We may all soon have our fossil fuel chickens come home to roost as it seems that we'll soon be experiencing yet another post-Pleistocene mega-fauna extinction. But how, (and is it even possible), to disentangle oneself from such slaughter?

The point here is that within capitalism; one can only shape their lives into a morally consistent whole to a very limited degree. To use the vegan example (sorry!!!), folks are making this judgement call where they are willing to support mass marine life die offs to a greater degree (thanks to agriculture) in order to disentangle themselves from the dire consequences of factory farming. It really is a shit show out there. So, full communism and all that.

I think that some of the heckle raising you get out of meat-eaters in the vegan argument has its roots in this understanding. While maybe it goes unsaid, the bad attitude is rooted in this thought:
If indeed we are all morally inconsistent within capitalism - why do you get to hang my implication in factory farming over my head while you're killing the oceans with fertilizer?

Finally, I think this is the root of why so many libcommers reject moral / emotional arguments. It is based in an understanding of the fuckyness of capitalism in this respect - and any such argument is considered instantly suspicious in that it is all but assured the person is deeply inconsistent (just as you are yourself) in their choices / actions..

p.s.

Wanted to add that I am not sold on the idea that humanity will be morally consistent within communism. I happen to think it has a better chance of offering that opportunity (oh to live without contradiction, a true joy!) to a great many people than the current circus.

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Jan 4 2016 15:23

Good posts from Steven and Booze. Webby, sorry to hear you're dealing with that shit, feel free to PM if you wanna chat.

I don't actually have any objection to having a moral stance on capitalism or animal welfare or sweatshops or whatever. I think it's quite normal that a lot of our ideas start from a moral standpoint and then we build and develop and refine them from there.

I mean, when I made the point that farm animal suffering should, in an ideal world, be kept to a bare minimum, that's a moral judgement. But then, just like Steven and sweatshops, I'd build up from there looking at the social and economic context in which animal are kept for food or as pets or whatever.

But the point I was trying to make was that other posters on the thread were bringing in cultural arguments or biological arguments - arguments that I think should be considered alongside moral ones - and the response given to those was, more often than not, an emotional one. So it's not that there's a hierarchy of arguments as such, but that I feel in a debate one side should be address that type of arguments put forward by the other.

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Jan 4 2016 16:02

Another example might be to think about the emotional response to crime or terrorism. We all know people of the lock 'em up or ban 'em all persuasions. And while some of those people are just racist douchebags, I think a lot of those responses are emotionally motivated: fear, insecurity, anger. All of which are totally reasonable.

However, when those same people won't engage beyond that initial emotional response, it becomes very difficult to discuss how poverty or US foreign policy or whatever fuels terrorism or crime. When presented with arguments outside of emotional ones and people only respond with emotion - regardless of the legitimacy of those emotions or how deeply they experience those emotions - I think it's fair to be critical of those who are unwilling to step outside their own personal emotional experience.

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Jan 4 2016 16:20

No Chilli, that's all fucking bullshit now FUCK OFF!!! Lol, sorry, couldn't resist that one. Yeah, ok, I see what you mean and I'll give it some thought. I actually don't think I got my point over particularly well and then there was a wilful obstinacy from certain quarters with just plain daft arguments about B12 deficiency and suchlike. I mean, as if when you commit to something you don't find out what you need to do!

Anyhow, this;

Quote:
I think it's quite normal that a lot of our ideas start from a moral standpoint and then we build and develop and refine them from there.

I'm with you on this. What I don't understand though is that our ideas are often created from a seed of moralism and emotions such as anger, empathy or whatever but by the time an idea is fully developed the moral and emotional aspect has been dismissed. I've gleaned this from many previous discussions but it makes no sense to me. A very large part of what we are and how we react to life are our morals and emotions. Remove this from our position and we become mere dogmatists with all the spirit and zealousness removed from our action. Now, with anarchists I suspect that this is only rarely the case but I do believe it's somewhat of a taboo. Admit to being fuelled, in part by ethics or whatever and the accusations of liberalism soon appear. Like with animal lib, the association with lifestylism almost makes it an unsuitable topic to even consider.
If the argument is that practicality is required I wouldn't disagree. The question would be though, is it practical to reject emotion when it is the very essence of what we are?

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Jan 4 2016 16:27

Some reasonable responses to Webby's questioning so long as we don't lose sight of the way in which moral and emotional responses are rooted in and reflect the different material conditions of different societies both historically and geographically as well as different class and other social and economic divisions in society. We 'pro-revolutionaries' are a product of these as with everyone else.

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Jan 4 2016 16:50
Quote:
What I don't understand though is that our ideas are often created from a seed of moralism and emotions such as anger, empathy or whatever but by the time an idea is fully developed the moral and emotional aspect has been dismissed. I've gleaned this from many previous discussions but it makes no sense to me.

So I don't think I've done this, but I would say that I see just as much a danger in allowing (or at least not guarding against allowing) emotions to trump reason.

That said, I remember reading about or hearing some of the old-timey Wobblies talking about how the people who only came to the class struggle from an intellectual standpoint just didn't have the stomach for the fight in the way those who came to the fight from an emotional standpoint did - although I suppose we could debate whether that emotional conviction came from a material interest in the success of a particular struggle.

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Jan 4 2016 17:06
Webby wrote:
I'm with you on this. What I don't understand though is that our ideas are often created from a seed of moralism and emotions such as anger, empathy or whatever but by the time an idea is fully developed the moral and emotional aspect has been dismissed. I've gleaned this from many previous discussions but it makes no sense to me. A very large part of what we are and how we react to life are our morals and emotions. Remove this from our position and we become mere dogmatists with all the spirit and zealousness removed from our action. Now, with anarchists I suspect that this is only rarely the case but I do believe it's somewhat of a taboo. Admit to being fuelled, in part by ethics or whatever and the accusations of liberalism soon appear. Like with animal lib, the association with lifestylism almost makes it an unsuitable topic to even consider.
If the argument is that practicality is required I wouldn't disagree. The question would be though, is it practical to reject emotion when it is the very essence of what we are?

It's not about rejecting emotion, it's about rejecting reliance on it when we know for a fact that an emotional response is often a bad one. How many times have you let anger drag you into a stupid / dangerous situation? A taxi driver drove his car directly at me and my girlfriend because he was being an arsehole and I told him so. If you'd asked him if he was going to try to kill someone becuase they were stopped at a light they didn't realise was broken he'd have said no. If you' asked me if I would risk our lives because someone was beeping his horn and shouting me I'd have said no.
So while my emotions are an important part of who we are we can't rely on them to make decisions because they often short circuit rational thought.
I don't think that there's anything wrong with a moral standpoint, but that's not the same as emotional, although it too can be irrational.
I think that in the case of animals it's odd to put their welfare on the same level as that of humans and it is an emotional or moral argument that isn't always practical nor desirable. For example if we want to keep wolf populations then we need prey for them, if wolves can have prey then why can't we...

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Jan 4 2016 18:42

Here's the thing though, now I've couched my position in these terms I'm pretty much being told it's all about balance which is the point I'm trying to make myself. Previously on Libcom the opposition to these things has been very hardline and dismissive. I still don't think that, agree or not, many people have a clue what my real argument against animal usage is. Maybe I haven't made it very clear although some people have understood it perfectly and I don't just mean other vegans. Maybe there's a bit of trouble with tuning in. Anyhow, I'm veering dangerously close to the dreaded topic and I'm all done with that. For now!!!
So yeah, base your decisions on morals, emotions etc and you are almost certain to fuck up. In fact, IRL those around me are amazed at how pragmatically I deal with life(mostly!). That said, and here's the thrust of my argument, to take everything at a purely practical level will thwart your willingness to act, your view of possibilities and make your life a mechanical wasteland of dullness. And that is very far from practical!!!

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Jan 4 2016 21:15

Let's approach this from the communist default position of total rationality

Sherlock Holmes said

Quote:
I despise all emotion, it is the sand in the machine

Some time ago I saw Benedict Cumberbatch wearing a 'This is what a feminist looks like' T shirt. Therefore BC is clearly a liberal. He also advocates an entirely rational approach.
Conclusion? Commumism is a liberal construct!

Oh dear, now how do you feel? A bit emotional?

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Jan 4 2016 23:37
Webby wrote:
Previously on Libcom the opposition to these things has been very hardline and dismissive.

we are pretty much getting back onto the subject people can't seem to discuss in a civil manner. But if you are seriously talking about other people being hardline, do you not remember you said that everyone who disagrees with you (i.e. almost everyone in the world, including most posters here, most of our friends and families etc) deserve to get the shit beaten out of them? You don't think that is a hardline view?

factvalue
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Jan 5 2016 01:15

Webby I think you’re reacting to a whole synthetic orientation that denies the natural world, which from my own point of view is where your urge to re-integrate emotions into politics comes from, and is expressed in your concern for animals other than ourselves. The mild schizophrenia of the commonly adopted cerebral bias in the assumption of the false dichotomy ‘emotion’/’reason’ is for me just another aspect of the deformation of people by capitalism. There are both rational and irrational thoughts just as there are both rational and irrational feelings and actions. If any thought, feeling or act is rational it will encourage the whole organism it is part of to develop and function, whereas the irrational is that which tends to inhibit, undermine or destroy it. We can all think of examples where the irrational side of our characters got the better of us in all of these ways. They are all really part of each other, in the absence of some form of clinical pathology.

It doesn’t need Sherlock Holmes to detect that other animals are much more rational than we are, since most animal behavior is determined almost entirely by instincts which, from an evolutionary perspective are exactly what is needed to sustain and promote function and growth. Only humans (and defective animals), who lack sufficient instinctual equipment more than any other creature, are capable of irrationality.

Of course we are materially limited by ecology, climate, socioeconomics, technology, culture, etc.. and in order to function in an insane society such as this one it’s much more rational to be insane yourself, since sanity only drives a person psychotic in this shithole. And so we compromise by adapting to the sick environment that has conditioned us. And if the environment is one in which the intellect is all and the affective life has withered to the dismal and stunted proportions of this era, then rational, life enhancing passions will not really have had the chance to develop or will have become blunted or have shrunk to such crude levels that irrational, life throttling idiocies will now dominate, such as the drive to collect lifeless objects (which are all that really exists in this mentality), to win, to be a consummate sexual technician, to destroy, to go fast and be at one with the machine (which not only betrays how infantile it all is but demonstrates the symbiotic aspect of so much of this cerebral, mechanical, petty narcissism), to be superior, to use yourself as an instrument, a commodity operated by calculating, instrumental logic. Now why would capitalist society - taking its cue from science, of course - encourage such a thingified approach, in which the whole world is only a set of objects to be used effectively, if in the process it engenders in the population a chronic form of mild autism, a condition in which a recognition of the difference between living and nonliving is lacking and accompanied by a pronounced interest in the mechanical rather than the living, in which there is a strong attachment to inanimate objects and an inability to relate to others, an obsessive drive to preserve an unchanging environment, to be left alone, to only use language to manipulate not communicate, etc? Who can tell?

Material conditions aside, some rather stubborn people just aren’t into this sort of thing, and recognize that it isn’t that history makes us but that we create ourselves within the historical process and that we can do this rationally or irrationally with our actions, intellects and emotions all at the same time. It’s only emotionally unintelligent lazy dogma to churn out either/or schemes for how things are that cripple any real understanding. You should take a look at that Hilary Putnam book I sent you a pdf of on this subject, The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy.

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Jan 5 2016 01:29

So I guess we all agree that rationality should be combined with emotions (particularly emotions rooted in empathy and caring and compassion)? Good.

I totally disagree with the claim that the vegan arguments have been only emotional. I also disagree that they have been emotional in a way that is out of balance with reason.

On this more recent thread, I didn’t bust out my large and long litany of rationally based reasons for this issue. But I have in past threads – including addressing the bullshit of consumer politics or shopping based activism – only to see each one of my points ignored or twisted with a seemingly willful misinterpretation. I have seen Webby and others who advocate respect for animals do the same, and get the same response. I’m so sick of that shit, you know what I’m saying?

In this recent go around, was I a little more emotionally oriented? Maybe, but I was not unbalanced with rationality either. Maybe people were too emotional to notice that? wink

There is plenty of rational discussion to be had here, but if people can’t even grasp enough empathy for farm animals to see that their lives matter more than our taste-buds or our aversion to temporary inconvenience of making a few changes, then all the reason in the world will be lost on them.

Psychopaths don’t have empathy for their victims, and you can reason to them about their abusive behavior until the cows come home (home to the farm sanctuary, let’s hope!), but none of it will matter until empathy is achieved.

This is why a lot of my focus this time was on trying to make people have some sort of empathetic epiphany. But I had logical reasons for doing so.

There are also logical reasons why the lives of animals deserve to be valued (at least more than our taste buds and our desire to avoid temporary inconvenience), and I was trying to lay out some of those reasons, or at least ask questions to get people to think about it for themselves.

The video about the intense friendship between the man and the goose, or about the pig who saved the life of her beloved human friend – yes, these stories have emotional appeal. But they also expose some of the rational reasons why the lives of animals deserve respect – because animals feel and love, they experience joy and pain, much like us. Human lives matter for these reasons, too – because of our capacity to find life enjoyable and interesting, because of our capacity to matter to and become dear to each other.

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Jan 5 2016 01:35

Steven - you misunderstand me. I had discussions on here that discussed this in an abstract way, nothing to do with animal lib. As for people getting the shot kicked out of them, I've explained that at the beginning of the thread

Quote:
I've just noticed that Steven has locked the vegan thread largely due to my initial post advocating kicking the shit out of people. This was a stupid post and I don't really think that - it was pure flaming and I was being a dick. I'm sorry about this, it's not really how I want to be and actually I'm currently getting some professional help around this shit coz IRL I've been picking fights with cops which is going to end badly for sure. I came close to arrest a little while ago and got ejected from a football match which was not a nice experience.

As for Sherlock Holmes I can see by the downvotes nobody got that it was a joke. I'm actually quite amazed(and a little insulted) that anyone would take that post seriously and think this was what I really thought considering my previous posts on this thread

Quote:
If the argument is that practicality is required I wouldn't disagree

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Jan 5 2016 01:41

Haha, how did I miss the Sherlock post the first time? I wouldn't make a very good detective!
Neither would those who didn't get it was a joke! wink

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Jan 5 2016 02:24

Thank you ultraviolet. Psychopaths don't have empathy for their victims, as you say, and the bourgeoisie as a class is the ultimate psychopath having empathy for nothing except money, competition and profit.

The bourgeois as a class don't respect the lives of animals. This is true. Neither do they respect the lives of humans, the life of the planet, it's forests, oceans, eco systems and even its future. They have the most childish of moral outlooks, only being concerned generally about their own piddling and quaint property rights.

They have no understanding at all of what an ethical approach to life on this planet might consist in, and how everything about the planet and the life on it is vitally connected, because they are an outmoded class of human life themselves, for whom the emotional and cognitive responses to life and being alive have got devastatingly separated. They exist in a kind of rationalised schizophrenia, where war, murder, cruelty and oppression are as acceptable as dining out.

The bourgeoisie is restricted and alienated in their thinking and being, and this trauma results from their own capitalistic relations of production, whereby all life and even the planet itself is commoditised and up for sale!

Capitalism is a pathology rendered rational through its denial of human emotion and its overemphasis of the cognitive delights emanating from the logic of the market, academicism and science-for-profit; with art, literature, music, sport and entertainment available for those that can afford such pleasures in their commoditised form.

As Webby pioints out in his first post above, communism has everything to do with morality and ethics. When we finally achieve communism, if as a race we are capable of getting there, and it isn't too late already, we will be able to restore the unity implicit in being human, and thinking and feeling will no longer be at odds with each other.

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Jan 5 2016 03:26

I'm glad this thread is going in a much more comradely direction, UV, good to see you're still around.

Quote:
I'm pretty much being told it's all about balance which is the point I'm trying to make myself

The thing is though here, Webby, I'm just not sure this is true. I don't feel like there was much attempt from the vegan folks on that thread to really engage with a lot of the arguments put forward by the non-vegans. Or to understand that while the non-vegans might share a lot of beliefs in common with them in regards to humane treatment of animals, but not extend it rejecting the use or consumption of animals altogether.

It seemed fairly all or nothing: either the non-vegans needed to accept that that eating meat was bad (often presented as a fait accompli) or they were assholes who needed to be shouted at. That doesn't really feel like trying to find a balance to me.

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Jan 5 2016 06:41

Chilli, I'm trying to conduct myself with some decorum here. I am not going to talk about animal rights etc for fear of descending into slanging match territory. Both sides of the fence on that thread had overboiled emotional responses displayed by the indignation of one side and the making shit up of the other. Resentment from previous confrontations was there in abundance too. Can we not talk in abstract terms or use different examples? I started this thread in extremely good faith and genuine curiosity at people's views. I think I've expressed myself reasonably well without having to use the example of AR. I know I said that if people want to use it as an example then fair enough but surely it's not the only example. If it is then I'll have to bow out.

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Jan 5 2016 06:45
jojo wrote:
Thank you ultraviolet. Psychopaths don't have empathy for their victims, as you say, and the bourgeoisie as a class is the ultimate psychopath having empathy for nothing except money, competition and profit.

The bourgeois as a class don't respect the lives of animals. This is true. Neither do they respect the lives of humans, the life of the planet, it's forests, oceans, eco systems and even its future. They have the most childish of moral outlooks, only being concerned generally about their own piddling and quaint property rights.

They have no understanding at all of what an ethical approach to life on this planet might consist in, and how everything about the planet and the life on it is vitally connected, because they are an outmoded class of human life themselves, for whom the emotional and cognitive responses to life and being alive have got devastatingly separated. They exist in a kind of rationalised schizophrenia, where war, murder, cruelty and oppression are as acceptable as dining out.

The bourgeoisie is restricted and alienated in their thinking and being, and this trauma results from their own capitalistic relations of production, whereby all life and even the planet itself is commoditised and up for sale!

Capitalism is a pathology rendered rational through its denial of human emotion and its overemphasis of the cognitive delights emanating from the logic of the market, academicism and science-for-profit; with art, literature, music, sport and entertainment available for those that can afford such pleasures in their commoditised form.

As Webby pioints out in his first post above, communism has everything to do with morality and ethics. When we finally achieve communism, if as a race we are capable of getting there, and it isn't too late already, we will be able to restore the unity implicit in being human, and thinking and feeling will no longer be at odds with each other.

What a beautifully written description. Thank you.

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Jan 5 2016 07:12
factvalue wrote:
Webby I think you’re reacting to a whole synthetic orientation that denies the natural world, which from my own point of view is where your urge to re-integrate emotions into politics comes from, and is expressed in your concern for animals other than ourselves. The mild schizophrenia of the commonly adopted cerebral bias in the assumption of the false dichotomy ‘emotion’/’reason’ is for me just another aspect of the deformation of people by capitalism. There are both rational and irrational thoughts just as there are both rational and irrational feelings and actions. If any thought, feeling or act is rational it will encourage the whole organism it is part of to develop and function, whereas the irrational is that which tends to inhibit, undermine or destroy it. We can all think of examples where the irrational side of our characters got the better of us in all of these ways. They are all really part of each other, in the absence of some form of clinical pathology.

It doesn’t need Sherlock Holmes to detect that other animals are much more rational than we are, since most animal behavior is determined almost entirely by instincts which, from an evolutionary perspective are exactly what is needed to sustain and promote function and growth. Only humans (and defective animals), who lack sufficient instinctual equipment more than any other creature, are capable of irrationality.

Of course we are materially limited by ecology, climate, socioeconomics, technology, culture, etc.. and in order to function in an insane society such as this one it’s much more rational to be insane yourself, since sanity only drives a person psychotic in this shithole. And so we compromise by adapting to the sick environment that has conditioned us. And if the environment is one in which the intellect is all and the affective life has withered to the dismal and stunted proportions of this era, then rational, life enhancing passions will not really have had the chance to develop or will have become blunted or have shrunk to such crude levels that irrational, life throttling idiocies will now dominate, such as the drive to collect lifeless objects (which are all that really exists in this mentality), to win, to be a consummate sexual technician, to destroy, to go fast and be at one with the machine (which not only betrays how infantile it all is but demonstrates the symbiotic aspect of so much of this cerebral, mechanical, petty narcissism), to be superior, to use yourself as an instrument, a commodity operated by calculating, instrumental logic. Now why would capitalist society - taking its cue from science, of course - encourage such a thingified approach, in which the whole world is only a set of objects to be used effectively, if in the process it engenders in the population a chronic form of mild autism, a condition in which a recognition of the difference between living and nonliving is lacking and accompanied by a pronounced interest in the mechanical rather than the living, in which there is a strong attachment to inanimate objects and an inability to relate to others, an obsessive drive to preserve an unchanging environment, to be left alone, to only use language to manipulate not communicate, etc? Who can tell?

Material conditions aside, some rather stubborn people just aren’t into this sort of thing, and recognize that it isn’t that history makes us but that we create ourselves within the historical process and that we can do this rationally or irrationally with our actions, intellects and emotions all at the same time. It’s only emotionally unintelligent lazy dogma to churn out either/or schemes for how things are that cripple any real understanding. You should take a look at that Hilary Putnam book I sent you a pdf of on this subject, The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy.

Fantastic!

I couldn't read the pdf coz it's just too small to read on my phone and I don't have a computer. I'll see if I can get in on Kindle.

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Jan 5 2016 15:46

On the subject of this thread, wonderful post jojo. It isn't science but a widespread symbiotic scientistic necrophilia that's at the heart of much of this: oneness with the machine, oneness with that which is lifeless. My only hesitation as I read your post was that even though the problem emanates from the system of the rulers it definitely also encompasses the ruled, without whom none of it would be possible, which is a major factor in why it has proven so difficult get rid of, and why the usual appeal to cold, economic self-interest not only completely misses the point but has never worked.

radicalgraffiti
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Jan 5 2016 19:07
ultraviolet wrote:
There is plenty of rational discussion to be had here, but if people can’t even grasp enough empathy for farm animals to see that their lives matter more than our taste-buds or our aversion to temporary inconvenience of making a few changes, then all the reason in the world will be lost on them.

Psychopaths don’t have empathy for their victims, and you can reason to them about their abusive behavior until the cows come home (home to the farm sanctuary, let’s hope!), but none of it will matter until empathy is achieved.

this kind of crap, calling everyone who doesn't have exactly the same emotional response as you a psychopath is exactly the kind of stuff the lead to the other thread going to shit, well and webby being admin: no flaming. This is a warning. , and ironically it show a lack of empath for other humans

radicalgraffiti
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Jan 5 2016 19:09
factvalue wrote:

It doesn’t need Sherlock Holmes to detect that other animals are much more rational than we are, since most animal behavior is determined almost entirely by instincts which, from an evolutionary perspective are exactly what is needed to sustain and promote function and growth. Only humans (and defective animals), who lack sufficient instinctual equipment more than any other creature, are capable of irrationality.

you remove all meaning form words, this is nonsense

factvalue
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Jan 5 2016 19:26
Quote:
you remove all meaning form words

Indeed it is. Yet again you aren't familiar with any of my sources and happy to just let the ping pong commence. I've been better entertained.

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jef costello
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Jan 5 2016 22:18

Instincts are not rational. Animals will do all sorts of stupid things and these can very easily lead to their deaths etc. Just because something is natural doesn't mean that it's good, any more than articificial is bad. Unless you are romanticising a state of nature...

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ultraviolet
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Jan 5 2016 22:57

This is relevant. The text below is a book excerpt, but won't use the quote box to avoid the grey and harder to read font.

Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence, pp. 27-29:

Consider, too, the role of emotions in even the most "rational" decision-making. In work with far- reaching implications for understanding mental life, Dr. Antonio Damasio, a neurologist at the University of Iowa College of Medicine, has made careful studies of just what is impaired in patients with damage to the prefrontal-amygdala circuit. Their decision-making is terribly flawed — and yet they show no deterioration at all in IQ or any cognitive ability. Despite their intact intelligence, they make disastrous choices in business and their personal lives, and can even obsess endlessly over a decision so simple as when to make an appointment.

Dr. Damasio argues that their decisions are so bad because they have lost access to their emotional learning. As the meeting point between thought and emotion, the prefrontal-amygdala circuit is a crucial doorway to the repository for the likes and dislikes we acquire over the course of a lifetime. Cut off from emotional memory in the amygdala, whatever the neocortex mulls over no longer triggers the emotional reactions that have been associated with it in the past — everything takes on a gray neutrality. A stimulus, be it a favorite pet or a detested acquaintance, no longer triggers either attraction or aversion; these patients have "forgotten" all such emotional lessons because they no longer have access to where they are stored in the amygdala.

Evidence like this leads Dr. Damasio to the counter-intuitive position that feelings are typically indispensable for rational decisions; they point us in the proper direction, where dry logic can then be of best use. While the world often confronts us with an unwieldy array of choices (How should you invest your retirement savings? Whom should you marry?), the emotional learning that life has given us (such as the memory of a disastrous investment or a painful breakup) sends signals that streamline the decision by eliminating some options and highlighting others at the outset. In this way, Dr. Damasio argues, the emotional brain is as involved in reasoning as is the thinking brain.

The emotions, then, matter for rationality. In the dance of feeling and thought the emotional faculty guides our moment-to-moment decisions, working hand-in-hand with the rational mind, enabling — or disabling — thought itself. Likewise, the thinking brain plays an executive role in our emotions — except in those moments when emotions surge out of control and the emotional brain runs rampant.

[...]

This turns the old understanding of the tension between reason and feeling on its head: it is not that we want to do away with emotion and put reason in its place, as Erasmus had it, but instead find the intelligent balance of the two. The old paradigm held an ideal of reason freed of the pull of emotion. The new paradigm urges us to harmonize head and heart. To do that well in our lives means we must first understand more exactly what it means to use emotion intelligently

factvalue
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Jan 5 2016 23:03

Which animals Jef? What things? Instincts can only be rational from my point of view, which was:

Quote:
If any thought, feeling or act is rational it will encourage the whole organism it is part of to develop and function, whereas the irrational is that which tends to inhibit, undermine or destroy it.

Rational in my view means that which promotes life, not death. An instinctual creature may do 'stupid' things but only in its attempt to continue to function, grow and thrive. Among instinctual animals there doesn't seem to me to be quite the same level of, oh I don't know maybe mass murder or the destruction of the planetary bases for complex life despite possession of all the relevant knowledge due to all manner of unconscious psychopathological deformations resulting from millennia of authoritarian abuse. Unless you live on a different planet to me..

People have often rejected this definition of the rational because it doesn't correspond to the commonly accepted framework promoted by the dominant system, which it deliberately sets itself in opposition to. But all their arguments show is that there is nothing like this definition in the scheme of the dominant system, not that it does not apply to the world.

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Auld-bod
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Jan 5 2016 23:13

factvalue #15

I agree with this post except for this paragraph:

‘It doesn’t need Sherlock Holmes to detect that other animals are much more rational than we are, since most animal behavior is determined almost entirely by instincts which, from an evolutionary perspective are exactly what is needed to sustain and promote function and growth. Only humans (and defective animals), who lack sufficient instinctual equipment more than any other creature, are capable of irrationality.’

Homo sapiens are the most successful branch of apes on earth. Though many of our ‘cousins’ became extinct we not only sustained ourselves, we multiplied and covered the planet. This I understand was due to several factors not least was our brain, which enabled us to successfully communicate and cooperate. Instead of acting on our fight or flight instincts as other creatures do, we were able to develop strategies to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles. Our brains are creative and imaginative.
On the down side we have also created an economic system which is now devouring the planet. This is I believe the inheritance of a history driven by the need to overcome scarcity. As such it is now obsolete. We are not mad or irrational rather it is the economic system - always in crisis, which horrifies and distorts our judgement.