RE: computer pain

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Sun, 24 Dec 2006 15:24:51 +1100

Mark Peaty writes:

> Sorry to be so slow at responding here but life [domestic], the universe and everything else right now is competing savagely with this interesting discussion. [But one must always think positive; 'Bah, Humbug!' is not appropriate, even though the temptation is great some times :-]
> Stathis,
> I am not entirely convinced when you say: 'And the psychopath is right: no-one can actually fault him on a point of fact or a point of logic'
> That would only be right if we allowed that his [psychopathy is mostly a male affliction I believe] use of words is easily as reasonable as yours or mine. However, where the said psycho. is purporting to make authoritative statements about the world, it is not OK for him to purport that what he describes is unquestionably factual and his reasoning from the facts as he sees them is necessarily authoritative for anyone else. This is because, qua psychopath, he is not able to make the fullest possible free decisions about what makes people tick or even about what is reality for the rest of us. He is, in a sense, mortally wounded, and forever impaired; condemned always to make only 'logical' decisions. :-)
> The way I see it, roughly and readily, is that there are in fact certain statements/descriptions about the world and our place in it which are MUCH MORE REASONABLE than a whole lot of others. I think therefore that, even though you might be right from a 'purely logical' point of view when you say the following: 'In the *final* analysis, ethical beliefs are not a matter of fact or logic, and if it seems that they are then there is a hidden assumption somewhere'
> in fact, from the point of view of practical living and the necessities of survival, the correct approach is to assert what amounts to a set of practical axioms, including:
> * the mere fact of existence is the basis of value, that good and bad are expressed differently within - and between - different cultures and their sub-cultures but ultimately there is an objective, absolute basis for the concept of 'goodness', because in all normal circumstances it is better to exist than not to exist,
> * related to this and arising out of it is the realisation that all normal, healthy humans understand what is meant by both 'harm' and 'suffering', certainly those who have reached adulthood,
> * furthermore, insofar as it is clearly recognisable that continuing to exist as a human being requires access to and consumption of all manner of natural resources and human-made goods and services, it is in our interests to nurture and further the inclinations in ourselves and others to behave in ways supportive of cooperation for mutual and general benefit wherever this is reasonably possible, and certainly not to act destructively or disruptively unless it is clear that doing so will prevent a much greater harm from occurring.
> It ought to be clear to all reasonable persons not engaged in self deception that in this modern era each and everyone of us is dependent - always - on at least a thousand other people doing the right thing, or trying to anyway. Thus the idea of 'manly', rugged, individualism is a romantic nonsense unless it also incorporates a recognition of mutual interdependence and the need for real fairness in social dealings at every level. Unless compassion, democracy and ethics are recognised [along with scientific method] as fundamental prerequisites for OUR survival, policies and practices will pretty much inevitably become self-defeating and destructive, no matter how well-intentioned to start with.
> In the interest of brevity I add the following quasi-axioms.
> * the advent of scientific method on Earth between 400 and 500 years ago has irreversibly transformed the human species so that now we can reasonably assert that the human universe is always potentially infinite, so long as it exists and we believe it to be so
> * to be fully human requires taking responsibility for one's actions and this means consciously choosing to do things or accepting that one has made a choice even if one cannot remember consciously choosing
> * nobody knows the future, so all statements about the future are either guesswork or statements of desires. Furthermore our lack of knowledge of times to come is very deep, such that we have no truly reasonable basis for dismissing the right to survive of any persons on the planet - or other living species for that matter - unless it can be clearly shown that such killing or allowing to die, is necessary to prevent some far greater harm and the assertion of this is of course hampered precisely by our lack of knowledge of the future
> This feels incomplete but it needs to be sent.
> Regards
> Mark Peaty CDES

I agree with you as far as advice for how to live a good life goes, but I guess where
I disagree is on the technical matter of what we call reasonable. Peter Jones said that
a system of economics designed to create universal poverty is not reasonable. I would
agree *given* that the purpose of an economic system is not to create poverty. If we
are talking about a system designed to destroy the economy of a country in order to
soften it up for invasion, for example, then an economist can apply all his skill and knowledge
in a perfectly reasonable mannner in order to achieve this. The human values driving an
economic system, although we can predict what they might be in the majority of cases, are
subjective states and are beyond reason: this is what I want, this is what I like, and you can't
tell me otherwise. This stands in contrast to empirical statements such as "the Earth is flat",
which is true or false independently of what anyone thinks or wants.

Stathis Papaioannou
Be one of the first to try Windows Live Mail.
 You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
For more options, visit this group at
Received on Sat Dec 23 2006 - 23:25:09 PST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Feb 16 2018 - 13:20:12 PST