Friday, February 12, 2010

Underlying premises

•Our minds are an extension of both our biology and the universe that shaped that biology.

•Just as the universe has undergone an epochal evolution from its initial simplicity of pure energy to the current diversity of elemental matter, so has humanity followed a slow and uneven arrow of cultural development. Century by century we have embraced ever-more complex societies as well as an expansion of the circle of humans whom cultures grant basic rights and recognition to.

•Humanism is better than Rationalism. The eclectic worldview that emerged from the Enlightenment encompasses much of the hard-learned wisdom that our species has accumulated during its time on this earth. The Rationalist worldviews that emerged during the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries consists primarily of well-thought-out models based on catastrophically poor premises. These secular ideological worldviews killed more people in one century than religion did over the previous 100,000 years of human existence.

•We are communal beings. However, one paradox of our existence is that we must develop ourselves as individuals before we can reach our maximum potential within a group or community.

•Personal self-development and a good upbringing are crucial in the making of a human being.

•Self-development and the choice of friends of good character are the two things that an individual can control. Talent, upbringing, and our base-line personalities are matters of genetic and cultural chance.

•Rationality and empiricism are powerful, artificial modes of thought based on a combination of boot-strapped talents and unnatural training. Over the past four centuries these have allowed us to comprehend many of the natural world’s dynamics.

•Rationality and empiricism are amoral forces.

•Ethical systems based off rationality have had short-life spans. Moral systems based on human intuition and traditions endure for centuries or millennia.

•Morality is a survival trait: We have an innate propensity for it.

•The reciprocity-based altruism that underlies most classical morality systems is an effective risk-management survival strategy.

•When tempered by the expanded circle of rights, pre-modern virtue-based moral systems are functionally superior to modern relativist theories of ethics. In other words such systems actually get used in practice.

•Emergent behaviors appear as systems grow more complex. Each of these emergent levels can not be described in the terms of the lower order that spawned it. Physics can not fully describe the dynamics of chemistry, which in turn can not predict the laws of biology, which do not describe the rise of human cultures, and so on. However, a level of existence can echo the system dynamics of a lower order.

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