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Are 'personhood' and 'ethics' in conflict?

  1. Jan 19, 2006 #1
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 19, 2006 #2
    I have to agree with the quotation, since much of ethics falsely attempts to set artificial boundaries to the ethical country club based on the alledged possession of personhood (or sentience, or life).
  4. Jan 20, 2006 #3
    I don't feel that I agree with this. People are in fact seperate, and seperately meaningful, entities. To ignore this would be counter to ethics in my opinion.
  5. Jan 20, 2006 #4
    I didn't agree with the quote. Ethics is one of the laws of physics (in my opinion) and one cannot escape ethics whether they're empty or full of "personhood". Ethics is the study of how to conform to the laws of karma.

    "Karma" means "motion" in Hindu or, at least, in one of the old Indian languanges describing Indian studies of physics. Motion, and how it relates to ethics, is best formulated with the old saying "for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction".
  6. Jan 20, 2006 #5
    nice guys.
    as i see it, statutoryape has a hierarchy in the works; a hierarchy of value.
    quantumcarl, how does one become completely, absolutely ethical? how could someone possibly be considered "completely ethical"?
  7. Jan 20, 2006 #6
    One could only become genuinely ethical by studying nature and applying what they learn from this study to their actions.

    This doen't mean acting like the calm of the storm then becoming a tornado. This means taking what you learn from nature with regard to cause and effect and using this experience to govern whether you have a good effect, that supports the mechanisms of nature, or one that does not.

    If there is no good effect that supports the mechanism of nature, then nature takes lemons and makes lemonade and forces a good result, of some sort, out of one's inethical actions. Its like you see with recycling or composting. Turning sh#t into carrots etc...

    Nature is a bit like how the US Pres sounded when he said, "yer either with us or agin us". Only in this case there is no choice. We are all nature. It is us and we are it. There is no such thing as "artifical".

    So, it is good practise to maintain ethical behaviour. It generates prosperity with moderation and is a way to avoid the collapse of what many strive to build...(usually without excercising ethics) . Consider ethics to be as if walking in a mine field. Do so very quietly and with a very long and big stick. (regards to Pres. Truman)

    Ultimately the law of motion (action) is governed by the same mechanisms that govern the rest of the laws of nature. In other words all actions, interactions and their opposites somehow work for the evolution or progress of the universe. Otherwise there would be none.
  8. Jan 22, 2006 #7
    The non-greedy aspect of this line of thought is correct; however it comes from recognizing the personhood, not the emptiness, of others. Personhood gives rise to ethics the first place. It is by recognizing that others have personhood akin to one's own, and giving others' interests proper weight with respect to one's own interests that a high degree of ethical behavior is achieved. I doubt that anyone has completely done away with self-bias, and I'm not sure that such would be the most beneficial state of mind and behavior. I'd say that trying to eliminate the self-bias as much as is practical is generally the best course of action.

    There is a real distinction between oneself and others; but this distinction is exactly the same, objectively, as the distinction between any one of the "others" and the rest of the others. As TheStatutoryApe said, we are all separate, meaningful entities. We should recognize that it is logically invalid to start with the assumption that oneself is more important than any particular other and that it is unethical to not give others' interests proper consideration.
  9. Jan 22, 2006 #8

    If people conducted themselves with the same amount of care as they do in traffic, (stopping when asked to stop, going when asked to go, doing their best not to whack into each other etc...) then we'd see a society of great ethical behaviour and resulting benefits.

    For the most part people avoid unethical behaviour in traffic to avoid wrecking their own personal possessions and to avoid trouble with another driver... but... the end result is observable as highly ethical behaviour. And, I believe, it is a training ground for higher ethical behaviour in humans.

    I know we can site poor drivers etcc........ but for the most part, the ethics of the road are strickly adhered to. Its like observing a law of physics.
  10. Jan 22, 2006 #9
    I'm not sure what you mean exactly.

    I think that Dissident Dan's post sums up my ideas on the matter pretty well. I was unable to decide how to articulate myself when I originally commented.
  11. Jan 24, 2006 #10
    having defined "personhood" we are able to, if not forced to, conceive of a "way of being" that is in accord, which is to say "harmonious" with "other persons".
    having defined personhood, we are brought to the production of "ethics". this does not mean, though, that "ethics" is ever, or ever can be, fully actualized by said "persons". they are already divided, by the nature of a perception consisting of "seperate and meaningful entities", so how are they ever to come together to actualize this ethics that has been produced?

    the article says that they can't. so long as they are seperated, in perception, all of the conflicts and troubles that come with relationships. business, political, religious, familial, etc.
    can you see how such a prescription never yields a "fully ethical" attitude or actions? it does approximate, but does not actualize.
    why? why should one consider all as equal? where is the basis for such a claim, in a community of "different persons"? surely this is not present in society, currently. we have never conceived of individuals as anything but seperate persons, so why are we not all conceived, by all, as equals?
    there is always a preference, when there is a distinction.
    where one could choose between 1 and 2, one will choose what best suits there needs, given the choice. no?
    there is already, inherent in the present perception of reality, a prejudice. if not a prejudice of "me first, you second" or "survival first, the rest next" or whatever, there is always a prejudice; there is always a side to choose.

    in summation, it should be said that, whenever we make a distinction for comparisonm we are already choosing a side. in "siding" for or against, we are already entwined in ethics. we can never act fully ethical because we are already in prejudice.
  12. Jan 24, 2006 #11
    Prior to you thinking about that which you observed and spent attention thinking about and insisted for no particular reason on being for or against that unique particular thing, is every unique particular thing you can ever think about and have not yet thought about.

    So long as an individual intends on not making distinctions between unique particular things they shall not be subject to any particular thing, and that's ethical.
  13. Jan 24, 2006 #12
    who thinks?

    ask yourself who thinks and the thinker will reply to itself. it is one circle.

    this is what we do. we think that we are something independent and private and free, because we think. just watch someone who is in deep, dreamless sleep... you will see the embodiment of peace and harmony.
    now, wake them up!
    with the revival of thinking, there is the arousal of hostility and broken peace.

    without thinking we are in great peace and joy (we know by our feelings upon waking, when we say, "that was good night sleep"). only one who is wholly washed of extraneous, erroneous thought may provide well-being to another. after all, one cannot give what they do not have.
  14. Jan 24, 2006 #13
    My question was: who does not think, on purpose?

    It's about intending to preserve ethics by developing a universal personhood.

    I am saying it's about being prior to your next action, which is doing.

    First being, then doing, then being and doing.
  15. Jan 24, 2006 #14
    Persons and minds are seperate by nature, by their very physical manifestation.
    A better question may be how you intend to actualize a unified mind. It would seem to me that recognition of every person as a meaningful entity (or personhood) may be a good start.

    I actually find my greatest joy in thinking and being wakeful. Often I wish I needn't sleep.
    Besides... What constitutes extraneous and erroneous thoughts? No one person can decide this for everyone on their own. A person must communicate with others. Communicating ideas with others begins with recognizing that these persons are meaningful entities and that their thoughts and ideas matter.
    You seem to be taking this the opposite direction we are. You equate personhood with self while it seems we are considering personhood to be the consideration beyond the self to the selves of others. An extension or evolution of the concept of self which moves toward to your unified mind by accepting and respecting the existence of others, their thoughts, and their needs. I do not understand how this is selfish or counter productive.
  16. Jan 25, 2006 #15
    yes, if there was the complete identification with a "universal personhood", there could be no individual. what constitutes the "universal personhood"? is it truly universal, or is it human? are animals, plants, rivers, lakes, etc. included? if not, then it is ethical to pollute rivers and lakes and kill innumerable animals and desolate forests. this idea doesn't work unless it is truly universal. in which case, the identification is with the totality and can no longer be confined to the particular organism that one is most familiar with. the "self" is thereby empty of inherent existence and meaning, because it is in a context of dependency, an environment, from which it cannot be extracted, or even conceived of as being seperate, in any way.

    thought ceases upon the realization that to identify, at all, finally means to identify with all. all, then, is one, and there is nothing left to think about, and ethics is transcended.

    extraneous and erroneous thoughts are, then, all thoughts that deviate from the truth of being, and becomes entangled in the illusion that there is a seperate and independently meaningful self.

    without this particular atmosphere, environment, etc. no "seperate meaningful entity" can survive. we know this, and yet we conceive that particular organisms are more valuable than the environment that they come out of. further, a seperate entity could in no way ever come into existence. there is no seperation. even you and i are developing each other. interaction implies a unity.

    i don't know.
  17. Jan 26, 2006 #16
    Individuals who value their own existence, acknowledge and assume responsibility for the consequences of their own actions, and reap the rewards of their own creativity and hard work learn ethics by being responsible for their own life and happiness. Such people have as much respect for others like them as they have for themselves.

    Perfection apart from an achievable standard is nonexistence.
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