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Re: Moral Camouflage or Moral Monkeys?

I'm very sorry if my less than perfect English means you will not consider the point I was driving at, even though you seem to be able to read and comprehend it. This is, of course, a very good reason for disregarding an idea.

On the topic of English, 'Retardation' is awfully strong word to be used by someone who's 'ego is se cure regardless of judgement'.

But that is just the problem Zenemy - You may remember that I apologised for the length of my first post, and these weren't empty words. The point of a forum such as this is to facilitate discussion, and when one person speaks for far longer than the other, real conversation is impossible.

But you have not only spewed a response of ungodly length, not only broken it up with long, technical quotations, but crucially, JUMPED from topic to topic, often in the same paragraph, covering morality, will, jabs at Dr. Robert and brain talk at a dizzying pace.

Thus a remotely extensive reply, responding to all your points, questioning what you mean by certain terms, etc AND putting forward my own point of view on all these topics, would take an entire day or longer.

As I visit this forum for fun, I won't do this. I don't know if this is a concious effort on your part, or that you are so unwell that you naturally come across as so aggressive and convoluted, but I no longer care to engage.

Re: Moral Camouflage or Moral Monkeys?


If you were trying to make rape virtuous, I think you'd need to flesh out your example a little bit, but you seem to get the idea.

Okay, cool. :) Thanks!

It appears that when we look at what motivation really is... we learn more about morality as motivation is a driving force of what creates the conditions of morality. What motivates can often even change our morality. You wouldn't steal would you? What if you were starving and thought you might die without that food.. then would you steal? Ofcourse you would. In the interest of your own survival the conscious sense of free will must be supressed inorder to ensure the homeostasis of the body. This is an example of geneticly programmed functions of the brain. Your free will... expires when you are struggling to survive. An example of this is soldiers in war. They will often abandon their morals to find a sense of security out of the fear of death. Which means there actions are more or less instinctive to unconscious thought. When they tell you they weren't themselves.. they literally mean it.

Survival instincts are the motivations behind morality as stated above. Therefore, I can see where in times when you feel that your life is in danger.. you do not have as much free will as times when you are relaxed.

So when your life isn't in immediate danger, you can think about the survival of your genes, but when it is you can only think about your own personal survival? That would make sense to me if it weren't for the fact that most people will die for their children. It seems to me that since morality is determined by what aids us in passing along our genes, it's only natural that sometimes certain morals have to be put aside. To use your example, stealing makes you untrustworthy (and less likely to attract a mate), so in a normal situation you wouldn't steal. If, however, you would die if you didn't steal some food (thereby ruining your chances of perpetuating your genes), of course you would steal it. Even more so if you had offspring to feed. I don't think it's so much that you lose some free will when your life is in danger as it is that you never really have it to begin with.

Re: Moral Camouflage or Moral Monkeys?

This thread is going to places. I like it. /popcorn
EDIT: Dragontongue. I don't know where you get this "most people would die for their children" crap from. Only those that never have or never will make that choice would say that. Considering the amount of human trafficking in the world, your assertion is wrong. Unless you are somehow under the impression that it's not their parents that sell their children to be prostitutes?

Re: Moral Camouflage or Moral Monkeys?

Dragontongue. I don't know where you get this "most people would die for their children" crap from. Only those that never have or never will make that choice would say that. Considering the amount of human trafficking in the world, your assertion is wrong. Unless you are somehow under the impression that it's not their parents that sell their children to be prostitutes?

Uh. Wow. Come to think of it, I don't even know. Good point. Obviously I need to examine my assumptions a lot more. :P Thanks for pointing that out.

Re: Moral Camouflage or Moral Monkeys?


Uh. Wow. Come to think of it, I don't even know. Good point. Obviously I need to examine my assumptions a lot more. :P Thanks for pointing that out.

Stop watching movies with dramatic sacrifices made by parents for their childrend, it's not real. :P

Re: Moral Camouflage or Moral Monkeys?


Uh. Wow. Come to think of it, I don't even know. Good point. Obviously I need to examine my assumptions a lot more. :P Thanks for pointing that out.

Stop watching movies with dramatic sacrifices made by parents for their childrend, it's not real. :P

You mean like that Batman movie where the Joker gives the detonator to the RICH and Judgemental yet they don't blow up the prisoner boat and vice versa? Yeah, that unrealistic crap is repulsive. In the heat of the moment a persons instincts to survive would override any rationality and.. they would hand the detonator to me.

I'd do it. Then again I'd do it as well if I didn't get in trouble for it. Who wouldn't blow up a boat of strangers you don't care about anyway? Oh yeah.. movie directors.

Re: Moral Camouflage or Moral Monkeys?

I usually just read and seldom write, but here goes.

Zemeny's posts were really off the mark in so many ways. For one thing he took Railton's article as if it was the work of Dr. Robert, but of course it wasn't. Dr. Robert didn't write it or even vouch for it. He only posted it and asked forum members to comment on it. All of a sudden Zemeny claims disillusionment and tells the doctor, "Dr. Robert, have you applied the laws of neuroscience in any way to your psychology theories? Can you give me specific locations of the brain that are in control of said emotional reactions or show me the process from which you base your information?" Where is that coming from.
Then when the doctor gives him two links to neurological observations that back up the doc's ideas Zenemy just ignores it and goes on with his jabber.

Zenemy comes off pretty dense really. He is stuck on thinking that if certain parts of the brain are "in control" of certain emotions then knowing more about those parts of the brain will somehow help the individual to understand and deal with emotions. That may be true to some extent, but certainly will be only a part of the picture, and probably a pretty small one. The idea that by knowing more about the neurological organization of the brain humans eventually will come to understand their emotions, their values, their lives, their entire being, is called reductionism. The various comments were right. Intelligent people avoid reductionism and putting all their eggs in one basket. Zenemy I am sure has read all those comments but has found a way to shoot holes in them. He is smart enough to shoot but not smart enough to know how little he really knows as was said by others.

Zay did the same thing in imagining that the doctor wrote the Railton piece: "I find comfort in your words. You just unknowingly defined the difference between the love for a spouse and the love we have for our children, etc., etc., etc. . . I may have theorized much off your statement but that research creates such possibilities. I don't think it will be as great as you think though. If nothing else you have just justified racisum, war, denounced religion as a WHOLE (which is exactly what the catholic church feared Science would do), and many other aspects of human civilization.

Question: does psychopathy somehow stimulate the part of the brain that likes to rant and rave without ever really listening to anyone else? I thought that was narcissism.

Doc, you are doing yeoman work out here. More power to you.

Re: Moral Camouflage or Moral Monkeys?

Almost spooky. After posting yesterday I see this in today's New York Times:

July 25, 2010, 5:26 pm
The Limits of the Coded World

In an influential article in the Annual Review of Neuroscience, Joshua Gold of the University of Pennsylvania and Michael Shadlen of the University of Washington sum up experiments aimed at discovering the neural basis of decision-making. In one set of experiments, researchers attached sensors to the parts of monkeys’ brains responsible for visual pattern recognition. The monkeys were then taught to respond to a cue by choosing to look at one of two patterns. Computers reading the sensors were able to register the decision a fraction of a second before the monkeys’ eyes turned to the pattern. As the monkeys were not deliberating, but rather reacting to visual stimuli, researchers were able to plausibly claim that the computer could successfully predict the monkeys’ reaction. In other words, the computer was reading the monkeys’ minds and knew before they did what their decision would be.

The implications are immediate. If researchers can in theory predict what human beings will decide before they themselves know it, what is left of the notion of human freedom? How can we say that humans are free in any meaningful way if others can know what their decisions will be before they themselves make them?

How is that for some scientific evidence, Zenemy?

Re: Moral Camouflage or Moral Monkeys?

How is that for some scientific evidence, Zenemy?

It won't mean anything to him. It seems as if he has decided his new role will be to play the forum's resident troll. He wants to be inflammatory for the sake of being inflammatory. I know people who do that IRL and I don't get them either. I don't grok the need for attention I guess.

Re: Moral Camouflage or Moral Monkeys?

I guess you are right, Daniel. I am always puzzled by people who believe they are more intelligent than the rest of us, but in fact have no insight, and no understanding of anyone else either. Do you think this is a common feature of psychopathy? I am wondering if the lack of emotional connection could cause such people who begin to lose it narcissistically to be so out of touch with others that there is no road back, whereas a "normal" could be guilted or shamed into seeing his own intellectual weaknesses. Several people have pointed out to Zenemy that he totally ignored the doc's citation of evidence and that that was intellectual dishonesty. Do you really mean that he won't get that at all? Won't even question it within himself? Or in your opinion is it more likely that he will get it, and will question himself about it, but would never admit it to anyone else?

I followed the long dialog you had with the doc, and loved it. You say you lack emotional connection, yet you seemed to be able to modify your views in response to the doc, just as he listened and responded to you. What makes that impossible for Zenemy or Zay? I am curious about this. More than curious. It seems central to the entire question of morality.

Re: Moral Camouflage or Moral Monkeys?

I am always puzzled by people who believe they are more intelligent than the rest of us, but in fact have no insight, and no understanding of anyone else either. Do you think this is a common feature of psychopathy?

I don't know. I have read in several places that psychopaths are not supposed to have any kind of insight. I find that a somewhat dubious proposition though. I think what they really mean is that psychopaths don't agree with society at large about moral reasoning, which is not the same thing as being entirely without insight.

Do you really mean that he won't get that at all?

No, I mean that he doesn't care. I am going to be generous and assume he can grok it. He just doesn't care to say that he does since that is not his agenda.

Then again you could be right about that inability to comprehend idea. Some of the comments I have read seem to indicate a lack of ability to see connections between even ideas. Sometimes it is just a language barrier. Other times though, I think it's more. Interesting...

As for your suggestion that guilt might be helpful to someone realizing their errors in reasoning, I think intellectual honesty is more efficacious. At least, it has been for me. Then again, I don't do the guilt thing so I'm not the best one to ask.

I followed the long dialog you had with the doc, and loved it. You say you lack emotional connection, yet you seemed to be able to modify your views in response to the doc, just as he listened and responded to you & It seems central to the entire question of morality.

Really? You see it as central? Hmm. I do not see the connection between intellectual honesty, comprehension ability and morality. Explain what you mean please.

As for my response to the good doctor in that particular conversation, when I comment as Daniel Birdick I make it a point to try to have decent online conversations. A decent conversation means, to me anyway, exchanging views clearly, without needless rancor or childishly disrespecting the other person. Of course, you will find examples on other forums ( where I am rude and caustic. No one is perfect. Still on average, I keep it clean. Intellectual honesty "compels" me to shift a belief if reason and evidence indicate it. I do not need to have an emotional connection to have a decent conversation or to be intellectually honest with myself.

Re: Moral Camouflage or Moral Monkeys?

Thanks for posting that article, famfav5. I read the whole piece, and was struck by the support it contains for the thinking I developed independently some time ago and have been trying to explain to my critics in this thread. They seem to feel that my explanation was an effort somehow to justify myself, but that was not my intention at all, nor is it the point. The point of my posts here was to explore the well-springs of morality with the intelligent readers here. I am saddened that some people here would rather snipe disrespectfully than to converse seriously and with good intentions. I see that as the sign of a small mind, regardless of psychological tendencies.

To quote further from the article:

"(1) You do what you do — in the circumstances in which you find yourself—because of the way you then are.

(2) So if you’re going to be ultimately responsible for what you do, you’re going to have to be ultimately responsible for the way you are — at least in certain mental respects.

(3) But you can’t be ultimately responsible for the way you are in any respect at all.

(4) So you can’t be ultimately responsible for what you do.

The key move is (3). Why can’t you be ultimately responsible for the way you are in any respect at all? In answer, consider an expanded version of the argument.

(a) It’s undeniable that the way you are initially is a result of your genetic inheritance and early experience.

(b) It’s undeniable that these are things for which you can’t be held to be in any way responsible (morally or otherwise).

(c) But you can’t at any later stage of life hope to acquire true or ultimate moral responsibility for the way you are by trying to change the way you already are as a result of genetic inheritance and previous experience.

(d) Why not? Because both the particular ways in which you try to change yourself, and the amount of success you have when trying to change yourself, will be determined by how you already are as a result of your genetic inheritance and previous experience.

(e) And any further changes that you may become able to bring about after you have brought about certain initial changes will in turn be determined, via the initial changes, by your genetic inheritance and previous experience."

That pretty much covers it, I think, and if Zay or Zenemy don't want to see it, that unthinking resistance says a lot I think.

I reply to your question about narcissism and psychopathy: As I wrote in another thread, there is a current theory that psychopathy is a particularly strong form of narcissism. I doubt this. My idea, as you know, is that what we call "psychopathy" really isn't a "pathy" at all, but a normal human personality variant. Narcissism, on the other hand, I do consider pathology, although in contemporary Western culture it is beginning to seem almost normal since so many suffer from it--and make the rest of us to suffer them.

I do like your idea, however, that a psychopath, since he cannot be moved emotionally and seems not to require much connection to others, might be more easily lost in narcissism, and have no road back from it, than a so-called "normal." That may be. Recent posts in this thread seem to back up your idea.

Daniel, I am sorry that the original idea of the thread seems to have been lost. As Hexi said, it was just getting good (although I don't think he meant it in the way that I do). Perhaps you would like to start a new one on morality in one form or another.

Be well.

Re: Moral Camouflage or Moral Monkeys?

Philosophy.. it is where psychology was risen from and you can see the influence. Just as philosophy rambles on and on about how the world is flat oh but then round and then there are witches but then there are none.

Philosophy.. the story of mankind but rest assured.. in the world of science.. we do not blindly go into the night. We do not trust some Catholic wise man to tell us how the mysteries of the world work..

because we have no faith...

We are scientists.. we are the logical minds of the world... we seek TRUE wisdom. Because we have seen where the darkness of unenlightened thinking has taken societies and we do not want to join them in oblivion.

All nations rise and fall. Only through science can we really know why.. why the world is the way it is. It was science that told us the Earth isn't flat, witches aren't real, and the color of a persons skin does not define them as an individual.

Science brings light to the darkness. I have offered you all wisdom and in it's light you all screamed and cried but you all did nothing. ou all said nothing. You whine that I do not examine your points of view yet you seek me to look for your information. No, if you have an arguement you will display it to me. You will not ask me to go look it up. As I do not ask you to look it up. i bring the facts to you.

Which is where we stand. I have brought the facts to you. What have you brought me in turn?


Words.. just like the Bible had words. You know why you only bring words and minor demeaning statements? Your egos are damaged... threatened by an undeniable truth. I have shaken the very foundation from which you stand because while Dr Robert will stimulate your egos.. I will not.

And my actions are only an amplification of the feelings Hexi has, We know you have nothing but words. As scientists I laugh at you. Look at your lack of knowledge towards the psychopath.

Their opinions of the psychopath are constantly evolving ideas and no more. In scientific terms.. there is no disorder in the mind of a psychopath. There is no dysfunction. A lose of consciousness is not considered a mental illness but is rather considered to be a mental deficiency of emotion.

All these psychopaths that psychology studies.. are in ******* PRISONS!!! I don't know about any of you but doesn't it seem rather odd that we have no other psychopaths to study? Better yet. why aren't you all asking these questions? Where are all these psychopaths that aren't being detected?! Maybe they are living more functional lives.. maybe they are more intelligent than prison idiots.

In scientific terms.. the test are all biased. The problem is.. psychologists cannot naturally locate psychopaths unless they are caught.

Anytime I can lie to your face and you have no way in your field of proving I'm a liar... you have no real science and I will not measure you to be anything more than you are until you validate reason for change.. but you can't and we both know that because any arguement you make that comes in conflict of neuroscience is not true.

You are a person of changing faith. I am a person of logic. I don't take comfort in feelings. I take comfort in knowledge. So when I see everyones egos scream and whine under the crushing power that is my reality... I am validated.

Further you really can't continue this.. joke. You forget that it is not me you are arguing against.. it's Harvard and the entire medical field. Fools.. you have not challenged anything more than the very cream of societies crop.

So.. that doctor that saved your family members life.. he practices my science. That preacher/philosopher/psychologist who makes you spiritually feel better but doesn't explain why your son is dying of aids.. he's not a real scientist. He just wants your ego to find him appealing so you will listen to his ideas that are unsupported.

This is all nothing more than a scientific experiment to me. Take a bunch of brainwashed egos and expose them to reality. Do they maintain brainwashing as designed upon their egos or do they reconsider?


They maintain brainwashing. While at the same time.. the psychopath remains vigilantly aware and does not fall into the manipulative traps that egos would submit to naturally.

It's always funnier to do psychological tricks to people who study psychology. It just shows you how inferior the ego really is. how quickly it is deceieved and fooled into submission.

Look at all of you sad little egos. All of you upset by my words.. no doubt many of you coming back time and again to see what has happened next.. what has been going on. I assume that though.. i assume it because egos crave conflict. People who wouldn't normal say anything.. will rise and say much when threatened but not when introduced to positive stimuli.

You all supported neuroscience through your actions.. do you get it now... oysters. I can explain to you why... actually I already have. It's a function of your autonomic nervous system.. which is often refereed to here as your subconscious or unconscious but really it does.. a lot more.

I'm not a psychopath you ignorant fool. I am a normal person who suffered brain trauma. Which means that while I do have a conscious.. my emotions are short lived, unlike a psychopath that has no feelings at all. however, outwardly appearing.. you might think i was a psychopath. Fortunately, THE MEDICAL FIELD OF SCIENCE has proven otherwise.

You can actually live with a depleted sense of consciousness. You don't become a mindless drone with no feelings either. But consider this...

Imagine you didn't know that. Imagine science never proved it. That would mean that if a person suffered coma and then came out and you didn't understand what was going on.. you would think they have become a cold blooded psychopath.

If you were religious you might think they were possessed by a demon and all the time you think this of that person.. they feel it when you say it. but they don't feel it very long. Nevertheless.. it hurts.. So maybe they start becoming like a psychopath.. maybe they start losing their connection.

But do you know why? Cause other people rejected them for being different. All the time.. this person has feelings just like everyone else but without science.. you wouldn't know that.

**** on what you think you know. **** on your deception. **** on your dark ways of thinking. I find comfort in science.. it does not guess but rather knows what is going on and if science does not know.. they tell you they don't know. They tell you they have theories but.. they don't know for a fact BECAUSE.. unlike Fox News, Preachers, philosophy, Psychology ect ect.. Science does not leave anything to question. Science is a collection of facts and as more facts are added.. more knowledge is obtained and the more we know about hw the brain works.. the more we can enlighten the world from darkness that is ignorant thinking.

Re: Moral Camouflage or Moral Monkeys?


Dr. Robert was right about at least one thing. You are intellectually quite dishonest which is the sign of a second rate mind at best. After asking him to offer some scientific evidence for his idea and then implying that he had none and was just making stuff up, you completely ignored the evidence he did offer you. Never commented on it, never even acknowledged it. I took a look at it, and it does seem to support his idea, and these were neurological experiments with MRI's of brains and all that.

I know your game, I have played your game, I see your game, and it's a loser called I'm Always Right. No wonder the doc cut you off. You deserved it.

Re: Moral Camouflage or Moral Monkeys?

I agree ROR and it's even worse that that because all of the guy's words adds up to nothing. Not that the experiments might not have been interesting but the idea that physical impairment of the brain can cause changes in consciousness is obvious and proves little which has not been known for decades or even centuries. Yes I guess that zeroing in on the actual cells responsibile is interesting in its way, but has nothing to do with what the Doc or James were talking about. Zenemy is one of those guys whose estimation of his own intellect is way out of line with what he really comes up with and he is blind to it because he is all ego and nothing else. I watched some of the truly bright people on this forum like Daniel debate things with the Doctor and those were good discussions because there was respect and listening on both sides and the Doctor is super bright and well informed and doesn't mind sharing ideas. This guy Zemeny doesn't know what he is talking about and is afraid to face up to being in a group of people like James and the Doctor who do know a thing or two. So he just ignores what they say and goes on raving.

Re: Moral Camouflage or Moral Monkeys?

Riddle me this, smart people. What does all of the preceeding discussing mean for morality's ontological status, in your opinion?

Re: Moral Camouflage or Moral Monkeys?


Morality ultimately resides in the ideas and behaviour of humans (assume that there are no smart, ethical aliens for the moment).

Thus, if there were no humans, morality wouldn't be.

However, we seem to have developed it for beneficial evolutionary reasons. I'd wager that for any animal broadly similar to us, something like morality and group dynamics would develop.

Of course, one can't know this, there's loads of good sci-fi built on this not being the case, but in the same way the complex eye replicates itself again and again in nature, in multifacetedd ways, in drastically different creatures. Consider how different an insect, octopod and mammalian eye are. But having an eye confers such an advantage on a planet such as this, so these diverse animals all have them.

So it's as if we can say, that for a certain type of animal, in X, Y and Z conditions, its a FACT that an eye is advantages.

It's an odd thing, a fact like this. What's its ontological status? It is supervenient on more fundamental rules of nature. If there were no planets in the universe, as there weren't in it's early history, then in a sense there was no geography. Yet as soon as planet begin to form, they do so in certain consistent and rationally comprehendible ways, and we have geography, with geographical facts. Geography exists, factually, but only when there are bodies to which it applies

In the same way, morality exists, when there are moral agents (not that I believe they have agency). Language exists only when there are those that can speak it, yet linguistics can be considered a science, with its own OBJECTIVE facts (basics structures of all human grammar and so on).

So is morality objective, actually existing? Yes, but supervening on other natural facts, and laws.

As to what the natural law, physics, reality that these things are derived from really are, ontologically speaking... It's late, I just finished a shift and that's a long pitch. My monism is getting the best of me.

What I've written is very skatty, but hopefully I gave some sort of idea. I'll update when I can if it interests you. And I need to read that article. and pick up on some of FamFive's points.