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Doctordick
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I am currently reading (whenever I retire to take a dump; I like to read on the pot) Socrates’ “Republic”.

 

My wife just looked over my shoulder and commented that what I was typing was gross. I asked her if it was true or false. She said, ”Well it’s gross even if it’s true”. So I will continue!

 

Socrates talks about morality. This brings up the issue, “exactly what is moral behavior?” I think I know the answer but I am quite curious as to the opinion of the members of this forum.

 

Looking to hear from yo’all -- Dick

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Really interesting article in the Xmas edition of The Economist this year about Socrates...one of the main points it makes is that he constantly contradicted himself, switching often between arguing both sides of arguments! I do that all the time! :phones:

 

It also talks about how his penchant for asking questions actually seemed to his contemporaries to be simply a way of annoying them! Also sounds like me! :evil:

 

Which of his arguments on morality most intrigue you?

 

"All we are is dust in the wind," dude, :phones:

Buffy

 

P.S. Your wife is right. It's totally gross. Some things are best kept out of the narrative, but I'm sure Socrates would approve of your pursuit of truth....

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i think socrates would think that you only think that you know what morality "exactly" is. or at least that's what i think i remember plato said socrates thought in the republic. (or plato said in the republic that socrates thought? :phones: )

 

...SUCH is the good and true City or State, and the good and man is of the same pattern; and if this is right every other is wrong; and the evil is one which affects not only the ordering of the State, but also the regulation of the individual soul, and is exhibited in four forms.

 

What are they? he said.

 

I was proceeding to tell the order in which the four evil forms appeared to me to succeed one another, when Pole marchus, who was sitting a little way off, just beyond Adeimantus, began to whisper to him: stretching forth his hand, he took hold of the upper part of his coat by the shoulder, and drew him towards him, leaning forward himself so as to be quite close and saying something in his ear, of which I only caught the words, `Shall we let him off, or what shall we do?'

 

Certainly not, said Adeimantus, raising his voice.

 

Who is it, I said, whom you are refusing to let off?

 

You, he said.

 

I repeated, Why am I especially not to be let off?

 

Why, he said, we think that you are lazy, and mean to cheat us out of a whole chapter which is a very important part of the story; and you fancy that we shall not notice your airy way of proceeding; as if it were self-evident to everybody, that in the matter of women and children `friends have all things in common.' ...

The Republic by Plato: Chapter 5 - The Literature Page

 

ps what chapter are you on/in?

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  • 4 weeks later...

Humans have a loose connection to instinct. Instinct is morally neutral and is result orientated. We get hungry and the goal is to stuff the belly. Human instinct is very flexible, with respect to the means. We can stuff the belly with all types of things, as long as we fill the tank (ends). But not all means, when it comes to the ends, allows humans to remain natural and co-exist in large numbers in a natural way.

 

For example, rape can work for sex and reproduction, if the ends justified the means. From the point of view of morally neutral instinct, the goal is reached. But that can cause a problem with respect to human co-existance. Morality, places a limit on the types of means, for instinct, while still allowing the instinctive ends to be reach. Nature is not wasteful of resources, so for morality to remain connected to nature, it needs to be efficient like nature. Morality needs to find means that satisfy the ends, which allows large groups of humans to co-exist, with minimum resources, sort of like nature.

 

For example, it is hard to beat marriage in term of resource efficiency, relative to sex, procreation and child raising. There are other possible means to these ends, but all require more use of resources. We may not lose co-existance with other ways, but we lose some of the natural efficiency found in nature.

 

If we have extra resources to spare, we might be able to afford other means and still coexist. This is called ethics, since humans often generate extra resources and logistics, allowing them to depart from the ideal of natural efficiency, while not adversely effecting coexistence.

 

Let me give an example of morality and ethic in conflict. Someone who refuses medical treatment, from a practical point of view, is actually feeing up resources like in nature; one tree does not treat another tree. But from the ethical point of view, we have extra medical resources within culture that could be used to help that person. This may not violate their morality but can conflict within ethics.

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sorry about the booger on my finger; i was picking my nose. :lol:

 

is justice a matter of morality? WWSS (What Would Socrates Say)

 

... but as concerning justice, what is it?-- to speak the truth and to pay your debts--no more than this? And even to this are there not exceptions? Suppose that a friend when in his right mind has deposited arms with me and he asks for them when he is not in his right mind, ought I to give them back to him? No one would say that I ought or that I should be right in doing so, any more than they would say that I ought always to speak the truth to one who is in his condition. ...

Book I: >> The Republic by Plato: Chapter 1 (continued) - The Literature Page

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First, I apologize to all; the correct title of what I am reading is, “Republic”, but it is indeed a document written by Plato and is what is ordinarily referred to as Plato's Republic though reading it, it seems to be expressing the ideas of Socrates.

ps what chapter are you on/in?
Being an old man, I eat a lot of fiber so I do not suffer from constipation. As a result my reading program yields only three or four pages per sitting. I am currently in the middle of chapter 6. My opinion of most of it is that it is not very well thought out but I will read it nonetheless.

 

I have been very busy with assorted responsibilities related to getting the house decent for assorted family visits. The social calender is now empty and most of the work on the house is done (at least until the summer) and I once more have a little time to post.

 

I started this thread because I was curious as to what the people on the forum considered to be the definition of morality as I really don't find a definition in the text of the Republic. I note that, no one has taken the time to set down an answer to that question. My opinion is that “morality” is nothing more than a term referring to what a specific culture regards as correct behavior and has no logic behind it other than the survival of that particular culture.

 

Quite a while ago, Isac Asimov wrote a commentary on the police problems in New York. In the commentary he asserted that the police problems were due to the fact that the “legal laws” and the “moral laws” in New York were not the same. He stated that in such a circumstance, the police could easily find themselves to be “moral” criminals. He proposed the simple solution (I am sure as a joke) and that solution was to simply remove all “legal laws” inconsistent with the current “moral laws” from the law books.

 

His argument was that moral laws are enforced by the public through public pressure and support of those who attempt to attack unacceptable behavior (the police being the most important such group). From that perspective, public muggings, looting, murder, car theft and many other “legal crimes” in New York were no longer “moral crimes” and if the legal system became consistent with the moral system, the citizens of New York would then be be law abiding; at least for the most part.

 

Have fun -- Dick

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First, I apologize to all; the correct title of what I am reading is, “Republic”, but it is indeed a document written by Plato and is what is ordinarily referred to as Plato's Republic though reading it, it seems to be expressing the ideas of Socrates.

Being an old man, I eat a lot of fiber so I do not suffer from constipation. As a result my reading program yields only three or four pages per sitting. I am currently in the middle of chapter 6. My opinion of most of it is that it is not very well thought out but I will read it nonetheless.

 

:photos: :eek2: good to hear you got something regular if not posting. :singer:

 

Plato is clear about his own ideas and those of others i think. there is no known writing ascribable to Socrates. besides Plato, Xenophon, Aristotle, and Aristophanes wrote of Socrates. Aristophenes mocked him, as i intend to do here, while i at the same time as i intend to support him by Plato. :hyper: :help: :turtle:

 

I have been very busy with assorted responsibilities related to getting the house decent for assorted family visits. The social calender is now empty and most of the work on the house is done (at least until the summer) and I once more have a little time to post.
you can discuss Socrates with the guests! good times. :shrug:

 

...I started this thread because I was curious as to what the people on the forum considered to be the definition of morality as I really don't find a definition in the text of the Republic. I note that, no one has taken the time to set down an answer to that question. My opinion is that “morality” is nothing more than a term referring to what a specific culture regards as correct behavior and has no logic behind it other than the survival of that particular culture.

 

then you understand something of Socrates already. there is no definition of morality in Republic via Socrates because none sufficient was ever forthcoming to him as he went about asking those who proclaimed to know. as my earlier quote indicated, (or so i meant it to :tree: ) morality, like justice, is relative.

 

Quite a while ago, Isac Asimov wrote a commentary on the police problems in New York. In the commentary he asserted that the police problems were due to the fact that the “legal laws” and the “moral laws” in New York were not the same. He stated that in such a circumstance, the police could easily find themselves to be “moral” criminals. He proposed the simple solution (I am sure as a joke) and that solution was to simply remove all “legal laws” inconsistent with the current “moral laws” from the law books.

 

His argument was that moral laws are enforced by the public through public pressure and support of those who attempt to attack unacceptable behavior (the police being the most important such group). From that perspective, public muggings, looting, murder, car theft and many other “legal crimes” in New York were no longer “moral crimes” and if the legal system became consistent with the moral system, the citizens of New York would then be be law abiding; at least for the most part.

 

Have fun -- Dick

 

i'm not sure i follow that, but anyway i think that insofar as consensual crimes are adjudged as moral crimes, drug use, or sexual activity for example, they do not belong in codes of law.

 

nice chatting with you doc & i'll do some chapter 6 reading soon. :) :phone:

 

ps there is a fascinating bit of geometry in book X that i look forward to your finding. :ghost: )

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now to be sure dok, if anything i know & enjoy more of this topic than perhaps is good for a person. might even be immoral. :phones: as a consequence, some of my obscure references may fall flat on my presumption that everyone knows them of course. how could it be otherwise?. :kuku: that i may have seemed a little too eager to bust up in yo' john socrates business so-to-speak, i have to say i learnt a fair amount of that from Aristophenes mocking Sock-rat-tease. :hyper: so, without presumption, some stool-worthy lampoonage. :rotfl:

 

...DISCIPLE

I wonder what then would you say, if you knew another of Socrates' contrivances?

 

STREPSIADES

What is it? Pray tell me.

 

DISCIPLE

Chaerephon of the deme of Sphettia asked him whether he thought a gnat buzzed through its proboscis or through its anus.

 

STREPSIADES

And what did he say about the gnat?

 

DISCIPLE

He said that the gut of the gnat was narrow, and that, in passing through this tiny passage, the air is driven with force towards the breech; then after this slender channel, it encountered the rump, which was distended like a trumpet, and there it resounded sonorously.

 

STREPSIADES

So the arse of a gnat is a trumpet. Oh! what a splendid arsevation! Thrice happy Socrates! It would not be difficult to succeed in a law-suit, knowing so much about a gnat's guts!

 

DISCIPLE

Not long ago a lizard caused him the loss of a sublime thought.

 

STREPSIADES

In what way, please?

 

DISCIPLE

One night, when he was studying the course of the moon and its revolutions and was gazing open-mouthed at the heavens, a lizard crapped upon him from the top of the roof.

 

STREPSIADES

A lizard crapping on Socrates! That's rich! ...

The Internet Classics Archive | The Clouds by Aristophanes

 

having fun,

~ :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Turtle,

 

I am currently in chapter eight. Sorry I am so slow but I only get a few minutes a day for reading. ;)

 

As some here are aware, I have been reading Plato's Republic, an apparent compilation of Socrates thinking upon the structure of an ideal republic. As I have said earlier, I find most of it to be a rather thoughtless expression of his beliefs about the issue. I am moved to post my opinion that Socrates was a complete idiot. :bounce:

 

Looking back at my experiences, I have come to the opinion that true philosophers should not be seriously concerned with expressing their beliefs as it has to be most evident to them that their beliefs, no matter what they might be, should be held in serious doubt. :clue:This observation has led me to a rather surprising realization. Since any rational person must hold his beliefs in doubt, true thinkers will not be proselytizers. It follows that those who do proselytize are not the people who think things out but rather those who follow their beliefs without thought. :gun4:

 

That implies that the professionally published stuff cannot be the work of the best thinkers but is instead expressions of those who have not seriously thought things out. We should be quite happy that a few of them occasionally come up with workable solutions. Perhaps I have been over critical of both Socrates and our current scientific communities. :doh:

 

What really sent me over the edge was Plato's expressing Socrates belief that Kings should be selected from philosophers or at least educated as philosophers. Such a thing would be inherently disastrous. The central purpose of a leader is to make decisions as to what “will” be done given inadequate knowledge of what “should” be done. The best leader is the person who embodies the feelings and beliefs of the led: i.e., those who follow their beliefs without thought. The main reason I suggest such an apparently counterproductive idea is that at least what succeeded in the past may possibly succeed in the future. The point being that the very existence of the “led” implies their beliefs have been successful in the past. :photos:

 

The most dangerous path for any group would be to follow a proselytizer whose beliefs are different from those which stand behind the groups existence. Such a thing would most probably not be beneficial to “the group”. On the other hand, it might bring about a new “group” with different beliefs which might indeed be more successful than the old group. (Although it does occasionally happen I would take that “might” with a big grain of salt! :turtle: )

 

However, it is clear from history that societies are clearly evolving entities. Which is better and which is worse is a rather difficult question to answer (it depends upon who and where one is in that particular culture). From a historical perspective, most cultures tend to die out eventually anyway so I suggest we enjoy the life we find ourselves in while we can. The most dangerous man in the world is the guy who thinks he knows what ought to be done. :turtle:

 

What has all this to do with morality? I think moral behavior is no more than the behavior held as acceptable by the particular culture one belongs to. :D

 

At any rate, I have no interest in being King. One has to be a complete idiot to want to be responsible for the consequences of any societies decisions. :lemon:

 

Have fun -- Dick

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Hi Turtle,

 

I am currently in chapter eight. Sorry I am so slow but I only get a few minutes a day for reading. ;)

 

TMI! :read: i read a fair amount of 6 after last posting, but didn't go back to finish.

 

As some here are aware, I have been reading Plato's Republic, an apparent compilation of Socrates thinking upon the structure of an ideal republic. As I have said earlier, I find most of it to be a rather thoughtless expression of his beliefs about the issue. I am moved to post my opinion that Socrates was a complete idiot. :coffee_n_pc:

 

:ninja: to be a little fair, we have no guarantee plato used socrates words, and there is a school of thought that maintains that plato simply used socrates as a mouthpiece to put forward some of his views without claiming them as his own.

 

...So thorny is the difficulty of distinguishing the historical Socrates from the Socrateses of the authors of the texts in which he appears and, moreover, from the Socrateses of scores of later interpreters, that the whole contested issue is generally referred to as the Socratic problem. Each age, each intellectual turn, produces a Socrates of its own. It is no less true now that, “The ‘real’ Socrates we have not: what we have is a set of interpretations each of which represents a ‘theoretically possible’ Socrates,” as Cornelia de Vogel (1955, 28) put it. ...
Socrates (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

 

 

 

Looking back at my experiences, I have come to the opinion that true philosophers should not be seriously concerned with expressing their beliefs as it has to be most evident to them that their beliefs, no matter what they might be, should be held in serious doubt. :clue:This observation has led me to a rather surprising realization. Since any rational person must hold his beliefs in doubt, true thinkers will not be proselytizers. It follows that those who do proselytize are not the people who think things out but rather those who follow their beliefs without thought. :gun4:

 

well, socrates lays this out in book 6 quite clearly. pardon the long quote:

Then how can you be justified in saying that cities will not cease from evil until philosophers rule in them, when philosophers are acknowledged by us to be of no use to them?

 

You ask a question, I said, to which a reply can only be given in a parable.

 

Yes, Socrates; and that is a way of speaking to which you are not at all accustomed, I suppose.

 

I perceive, I said, that you are vastly amused at having plunged me into such a hopeless discussion; but now hear the parable, and then you will be still more amused at the meagreness of my imagination: for the manner in which the best men are treated in their own States is so grievous that no single thing on earth is comparable to it; and therefore, if I am to plead their cause, I must have recourse to fiction, and put together a figure made up of many things, like the fabulous unions of goats and stags which are found in pictures. Imagine then a fleet or a ship in which there is a captain who is taller and stronger than any of the crew, but he is a little deaf and has a similar infirmity in sight, and his knowledge of navigation is not much better. The sailors are quarrelling with one another about the steering-- every one is of opinion that he has a right to steer, though he has never learned the art of navigation and cannot tell who taught him or when he learned, and will further assert that it cannot be taught, and they are ready to cut in pieces any one who says the contrary. They throng about the captain, begging and praying him to commit the helm to them; and if at any time they do not prevail, but others are preferred to them, they kill the others or throw them overboard, and having first chained up the noble captain's senses with drink or some narcotic drug, they mutiny and take possession of the ship and make free with the stores; thus, eating and drinking, they proceed on their voyage in such a manner as might be expected of them. Him who is their partisan and cleverly aids them in their plot for getting the ship out of the captain's hands into their own whether by force or persuasion, they compliment with the name of sailor, pilot, able seaman, and abuse the other sort of man, whom they call a good-for-nothing; but that the true pilot must pay attention to the year and seasons and sky and stars and winds, and whatever else belongs to his art, if he intends to be really qualified for the command of a ship, and that he must and will be the steerer, whether other people like or not-the possibility of this union of authority with the steerer's art has never seriously entered into their thoughts or been made part of their calling. Now in vessels which are in a state of mutiny and by sailors who are mutineers, how will the true pilot be regarded? Will he not be called by them a prater, a star-gazer, a good-for-nothing? ...

 

...That implies that the professionally published stuff cannot be the work of the best thinkers but is instead expressions of those who have not seriously thought things out. We should be quite happy that a few of them occasionally come up with workable solutions. Perhaps I have been over critical of both Socrates and our current scientific communities. :turtle:

 

not so. borrowing from socrates parable, if we consider successful voyages wherin the captain is a dumbass, the true pilot is still true piloting and so a part & parcel of the success. so too, the best thinkers may contribute their ideas/skills to successfully published works while not claiming authorship.

 

...

At any rate, I have no interest in being King. One has to be a complete idiot to want to be responsible for the consequences of any societies decisions. :doh:

 

Have fun -- Dick

 

a regular catch 22, aint it. :kuku: :phone:

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  • 1 month later...
I think moral behavior is no more than the behavior held as acceptable by the particular culture one belongs to.
Hello again DD. What you claim is indeed a very widely held believe, it is the "majority rules" version of morality. Of course what definition of "acceptable" you would use is very important. If you used the definition of acceptable as being "behavior derived from a code of values based on reason and rational thinking", perhaps I would agree with you. In this way, all cultures would have potential to practice moral behavior. But, if the behavior is acceptable with no basis in reason and reality, then your definition is of no value for humans. Consider the cultural behavior of slavery in America, at one time accepted by vast numbers of Americans (thus moral by your definition in the past), today, not accepted by vast numbers of Americans (thus immoral at the present). And, no way to predict what the future will hold given that slavery both moral and immoral in the past according to your definition. But, is it true that slavery (that is, the behavior of one human owning another as a property) is ever "moral", in any culture, at any period of time ? Is slavery ever "acceptable" behavior based on reason and rational thinking about the relationship between an individual human and an individual item of property ?

 

Other versions of your definition are "moral behavior is what God tells us"; "moral behavior is what the King tells us"; "moral behavior is do what we say or we kill you". All these definitions plus yours have something in common that is based on a false premise, the primacy of consciousness over existence. It is funny, no one would hold behavior of physical reality to any of these standards--i.e., the "correct" behavior of groups of electrons is what a particular group of physicists vote it to be, yet the claim is made that such a standard should be applied to behavior of humans in society.

 

So, here is another definition of morality for this thread to consider:

 

Morality is a code of values to guide how individual humans make choices and actions in behavior that apply to all cultures at all times.

 

Some topics for future discussion related to this definition. Ethics is the science that deals with defining the code. The code, imo, must be discovered by each individual using reason and rationality. Moral behavior is rational, immoral behavior is irrational. The moral path is the median, it is intermediate between two logical decisions. There are many paths and choices that the individual takes that lead to immoral behavior, only one path of behavior is moral.

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