REPLY #1 TO|
Boldfaced statements are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.
Italicized/emphasized comments prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.
My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text and are prefaced by my initials (MB).
(R) "To preach morality is easy, to give it a foundation is hard." A. Schopenauer
(MB) This is a superb insight and one to which I subscribe totally. We are all extremely familiar with those who would preach about certain behaviors being "right" or "wrong" or being "the way to salvation". What the preachers inevitably fail to do, however, is to explain exactly why their version of "right and wrong" should be accepted as being such, or, indeed, exactly why the "heathen's" version should not be accepted as such.
(R) We have searched for the deeper meaning of ourselves, everywhere but inside of ourselves. For ages we have past over the obvious because its deeper meaning was inaccessible to us. But our search for the eminent understanding of ourselves now demands its closer examination. There is a common context for morality and understanding life's problems. It is the human body that presents to us all of life's goals, laws and its direction. It is the human corporeal that provides us with life's
essential instructions. It is the nature of what we are, human, that determines all that is important and cherished in our lives.
(MB) Knowing this leads one to wonder about how any act or behavior perpetrated by a human being could accurately described as being "inhuman". A given act may, indeed, provoke varying degrees of negative reaction, but that is a judgmental, rather than an empirical interpretation.
(R) The goals, responsibilities that we have to the condition of life, come in the form of human instincts. Those physical drives, somatic tensions and their subsequent mental yearnings which originate from our physical structures creates our human instincts. They are most easily known on their base level such as the sex drive or the hunger for food. But herd instincts, self-preservation, the maternal instinct and many others have their cause, not within the so-called "spirit" that supposidly inhabits
each body, but the human body itself! These instincts go far beyond the basics to the higher, what some call the "spiritual" quests, such as for social acceptability, self-respect and the greater understanding of the world around us. They are physiological based drives, forces, feeling, tensions and urges that direct all of us, generally, along the same behavioral path to the same goals in life.
(MB) How much easier would it be for people to "understand" one another if we all realized that we all have the same basic set of instincts?
(R) New rearch into the biological functioning of humans and animals has found the source of these corporeal drives to be hormones acting upon the structure of the body, including the brain, that precipitates such instinctual behaviors which are designed to relieve us of those tensions and yearnings. It is these instincts which act as the laws and directives to human life. They compose the state of human existence and the governing constitution of that state is human nature.
For example, the sex drive is largely controlled by hormones such as testosterone and progesterone which create a bodily and mental tension the we must assuage. Sexual behavior relieves us that pressing physical obligation that we have to ourselves. The instinct of self-preservation is also hormonally driven. The fight or flight response is governed by adrenaline, noradrenaline, cortisol and other endocrines which produce physical sesations that we
must act on in order to discharge those feelings or tensions.
Up until recently the hunger to bear children, aggression, the need for personal comfort, safety, well-being and other physiological based drives were actually thought to originate within the "spirit." However, biological research into endocrines (hormones), DNA and brain functions have found that we are pretty much physiologically disposed to these instinctual or archetypal behaviors.
These instinctual traits are not just options or suggestions as to what to do with our lives, but laws, obligations and responsibilities that we have to ourselves and our human nature.
(MB) Before Man developed his current state of medical knowledge, there needed to be some understandable explanation for why he did the things he did. To a population that would have been largely incapable of understanding the meaning or implications of "hormones", stories of "spirits" (holy or otherwise) would be far easier to digest and accept. Unfortunately, old habits die hard.
(R) But there is another set of feelings common to the human condition known as emotions. Scientific rearch here too, has established a hormonal and neurological basis for understanding human emotion. The brain is designed to interpret sensory perception which then stimulates neurons which produce thought and nerves that produce feelings. They ingage and activate instincts where they are designed to work in conjunction with those instincts.
Our emotions are our very subjective, very immediate automatic guides that we have as to how well, and how poorly, we are fulfilling our human instinctual obligations. They differ from instincts in that they originate or have the final cause in what takes place in our environment, whereas oour insticts originate within the human body. The emotions are our nonconscious, unthinking signs and signals along the course of life. They are another method
that our human nature has for guiding us through life.
(MB) Properly interpreted and dealt with, emotions can be a source of great strength, power and motivation. On the other hand, if one allows emotions to dominate and overwhelm him, his efforts to succeed or to deal with situations will be severely hampered.
(R) The human body creates all of our most important and cherished goals in life and our emotions help to guide us to those objectives. When we feel pain - mental agony, spiritual torment, guilt, shame, depression, regret or remorse, it is those sensory signals indicating to us they we have strayed from the intended path for human life to follow. Of course the individual
must possess a high degree of self-understanding and understanding of human nature in order to properly interpret those feelings, what they mean and what has originated them. The self-ignorant individual will only feel pain without understanding it.
Pain is the punishment for not appropriately fulfilling our human goals, but the happiness, personal peace and contentment that we feel is then seen as our reward when our human responsibilities are properly discharged.
With the proper understanding of human naturee comes the realization that it is how well we follow our sensory guides and fulfill our human instinctual obligations that ultimately is the very foundation for our judgment of what is good and bad, of what is right and wrong, and in our highest determination what is moral and what is not. It is also our source for what we call self-respect.
(MB) There's an old axiom that states: Either you stand for something or you'll fall for anything. Taking a stand means that have attained some level of control of your emotions and can make "right or wrong" judgments that will stand up to scrutiny (whether from yourself or from others).
(R) Ask yourself; Why do we have instincts? Why do we have emotions? Why should the body and mind tell us when to eat, what to learn and what is dangerous? Why should we have to feel anything at all? They are part of the human condition for a reason and if mankind going to progress, we must understand what we are.
We use the words good, bad, right and wrong, but what are really describing? We are describing human behavior in a personal or social setting and such labels are the results of our judgments about those behaviors.
Our instinctual requirements are roughly the same for all persons and are fulfilled, discharged or satisfied through behaviors that are predetermined by the design and functioning of the human body to relieve us of those bodily demands. It is then, how well or how poorly we fulfill what is behaviorally demanded of us by ourselves and by others, because many instincts are satisfied through the co-operation of other people, that
ultimately creates our satisfaction with life. Thus the fulfillment of our instincts provides mankind with a common foundation for our judgments of right and wrong behavior in regard to these physiological responsibilities.
(MB) Deep down, what we all want is to be happy. If we're happy, then what we are doing must be "right" - at least to us. Now, what's "right" can change depending on the societal level at which any given situation or behavior applies. What's "right" for an individual may well be "wrong" for a large social group and vice-versa.
(R) Friedrich Nietszche understood that behind our sense of reason, our logic, our rational understanding and our value judgments, which stems from this reality, stands the physiological demands for the maintainance of a specific mode of life. - (Beyond Good and Evil) He said that "God is dead" and with that death the end of religious principles and ethics. We can not
just sweep away such standards however, without first replacing them. Human nature prsents to us the only set of common and humanly universal standards that mankind will ever truly possess or need.
(MB) I would go so far as to say that religious or other artificial sets of "standards" could well be swept away without having an immediate replacement for them. However, this could happen only in the case where the old standard was to become acknowledged as being clearly unacceptable and a state of "no defined standard" would be preferable. Admittedly, this would be a rare case.
(R) This is only a sample of the understanding of human nature that I present in my book -
Human Nature. It is a new, rational philosophical treatise which some might classify as the philosophy of science. My philosophy of life goes far beyond these basics to the understanding of morality and the rational comprehension of the meaning and purpose constructed within human existence.
(MB) Any interested reader who would like to check out and/or purchase this book can do so by selecting the highlighted book title in the preceding paragraph.
(R) I appreciate your search for a greater understanding of human existence. I am sure that now-a-days more and more people are searching not just for a direction in life or a view of life, but the reasons and understanding of why it is the correct and proper direction for mankind. We are becoming smarter about life and we all seek reasons to the answers that we receive. We are always more secure in our knowledge than in our beliefs.
(MB) Thanks for your input! I, too, agree that we would all be much better off to base our lives on knowledge than on any "feel good" system of belief. Those who choose otherwise can't help but have nagging doubts in the back of their minds.
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