Love, Compassion, and Morals

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Love, Compassion, and Morals

At the time I searched (thoroughly) this was the only AN group I could find with the word 'Love' in the title, aside from "Lovers of Shakespeare"? What is love? Do we care? Does it matter? What is a moral - is it a real thing? Why have compassion?

Location: International
Members: 20
Latest Activity: Feb 17

Discussion Forum

What moral and ethical code do you follow?

Started by Steph S. Mar 13, 2012. 0 Replies

I was just wondering what moral and ethical code you follow as an Atheist Humanist.A good article addressing this topic is below.…Continue

The Value of Fretting

Started by Phil May 15, 2011. 0 Replies

".. the motivational structures within the human brain were forged by natural selection over millions of years. In his framework, the brain has evolved not to make us happy, but to motivate actions…Continue

Psychologists Say Babies Know Right From Wrong Even at Six Months

Started by John Jubinsky. Last reply by John Jubinsky Jan 27, 2011. 2 Replies

A team of scientists headed by Paul Bloom, professor of psychology at the Infant Cognition Center of Yale University, has conducted multiple experiments on babies as young as six months old that…Continue

Tags: Fairness, Altruism, Wrong, Right, Children

Plato's "Symposium"

Started by Jedi Wanderer. Last reply by Jedi Wanderer Jan 27, 2011. 1 Reply

No discussion of love would be complete without a discussion of Plato's "Symposium". If you haven't read it, do! It's really quite excellent. To give you a brief description, Socrates and a handful…Continue

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Comment by Steph S. on March 14, 2012 at 11:42am

"We believe in the common moral decencies: altruism, integrity, honesty, truthfulness, responsibility. Humanist ethics is amenable to critical, rational guidance. There are normative standards that we discover together. Moral principles are tested by their consequences."

From the American Humanist Association (AHA)

Comment by Jedi Wanderer on January 25, 2011 at 12:23pm
Love is necessarily a social thing. I am agreeing with you here, Rob, just adding to it. We risk our senses of self when we angage in the social arena, but not engaging is withdrawal from life and cowardly. This is what led me to this conclusion: there is a middle ground between selfishness or self-love (narcissism) and altruism. This middle ground is what I call "organismis love". This means loving the group one is a part of, whether it be a pair of people such as in romantic relationships or sibling relationships, etc., or larger groups, such as family or community or society (or humanity, or life itself) as if the larger whole were just as much a part of one's identity as one's singular self is. I think this aspect of love is sorely underappreciated in our society. Perhaps this is because most people in our society are religious, and they already have this aspect of love fulfilled by seeing themselves as just this sort of a part within their religion as a whole, like being god's warriors or some such similar thing. We as atheists, on the other hand, need to recognize the need for such a conception of love, since I think that this is what we need to form stronger social ties and organize together in larger, more powerful, more tightly-knit organisms. In turn, the battle between ideologies would turn into a battle between social organisms, and we as atheists would be on equal ground with the religious people, in our country for starters.
Comment by Rob van Senten on January 25, 2011 at 11:52am

Our experiences form our perception, love is a key motivator in why we humans bond together to form families and societies and is instrumental to achieving a "better" world to live in. Love can open our eyes, minds and doors as it can distort our perception of what is truly valuable in life. To love is to risk and live.

Comment by Jedi Wanderer on January 23, 2011 at 7:39am

Another myth that I think needs dispelling about love is that we love others "for who they are". Ah, if only this were true. For one thing, we love our children even before they are born. There isn't even a person that we know to love! There is however the idea of the person. This is mostly what we love.

 

We usually don't even know who another person is, at least, certainly not how they know of themselves. Here again we have the idea of the other person, but how much can we really know about another person to love them?

 

The idea that we love a person for who they are is not entirely wrong, however. What we really mean by this is that we love another's character, that we think they are a source of wonder and happiness for ourselves and for others, that they spread joy and happiness and are therefore a force for good in the world. We may even be right about another person on this account. But this is only half the story.

 

The other half is that it is we who experience love. So if we love another, it is not purely "for who they are", but the experience necessarily includes our own ability to love. We love others for who they AND WE are, it seems. If we are capable of loving powerfully and for the right qualities in another, we may experience love in all the ways which make it a worthwhile emotion. We can also love poorly, for the wrong reasons or with inadequate force. In these cases we do not love a person for who they are, but we are much more clearly experiencing the emotion in relation to the idea of the person, which can be very clear or it can be a very poor conceptualization of either the qualities of another which are lovable or the possession of another of those qualities. So certainly it is incorrect to say that we love people JUST "because of who they are", but it is more accurate to say we love a person because we think we have a good idea of what is lovable about another and we also think we have a good impression that another has those qualities.

Comment by Jedi Wanderer on January 23, 2011 at 4:57am

Certainly unconditional love of a parent by their child isn't as compelling an example as the reverse, for this reason: We can all think of many things parents can do to truly screw over and lose the love of their child. We would, as I think you correctly point out, love our parents with all our might if they didn't violate the necessary conditions for parenting. The point I had made is that there are some very clear conditions which could, if violated, quite easily cause the child to lose this natural tendency and therefore UNCONDITIONAL love does not exist.

 

I think we should strive to love others in our relationships, especially those most intimate ones, as powerfully as possible, and this is what people have come to think of as unconditional love, but my argument has been that this has been a case of mistaken identity.

Comment by Kerry Logan on January 22, 2011 at 10:30pm
I think a better example for unconditional love is a child, especially a young child's, love for their parent. We naturally love unconditionally and have to be taught to be wary and apply rules to our affections.

Just read Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Cohn. Was an eye opener. I certainly do not love my children unconditionally. If I truly loved them unconditionally, they could never get my goat. ;-) That said, I do love them an awful lot.

I think unconditional love is something we should strive for because it brings peace. Not that we could ever actually achieve it.
Comment by Jedi Wanderer on January 22, 2011 at 8:18pm
I would say that the reason parents would be willing to reject their own child in favor of their religion is that it provides them with too much of their own identity. They see themselves entirely in the "lights" of their own religion, they belong to it as much as it belongs to them, it is everything that is good about themselves and for someone to reject that part of themselves is to reject everything positive that they see about themselves. They see a rejection of their religion as a rejection of themselves. So I guess they aren't striking first, from their perspective they are striking back, petulantly saying "if you can't accept me than I won't accept you! So there!"
Comment by Linda on January 22, 2011 at 8:12pm

A lot of atheists that read and participate at these types of on-line forums (such as Atheist Nexus) are people who have sufferred rejection by family members. It's a terrible thing because it's not like the person did anything wrong other than not agreeing with a religious ideology.

 

I watch that show "Prevention" sometimes and I think wow, it's strange how some families will put up with almost anything when their child is drug addicted including stealing, lying, disrespecting, being violent, but let someone say "I don't believe in God" and it's like the worse thing a person can do.

 

What makes people like that? I love my niece very much and when she was a young teenager she announced to me she was an athesit (at the time I still believed in at least a supreme being of some sort). I was a little disturbed at her announcement but I had nothing negative to say to her because I knew it is something one has to decide for themselves. I had nothing to say at all - it just bothered me a little bit, but then of course I did not consider myself a Christian at that point in my life. It did not diminish my love for her in the least.

 

I think thins thing where parents reject children due to the child proclaiming their an athesit has something to do with religion has a way of poisoning the mind. I don't understand all the i

ns and outs of how that happens, but it's the only explanation I can think of.

Comment by Jedi Wanderer on January 22, 2011 at 8:00pm
Well I also have broken just about all the bonds between me and my parents, though being an atheist really had nothing to do with it. Still, this is a case of some very crappy parenting. There are many other families out there who have been luckier and for whom it might very well seem as if nothing or no one could ever break them apart, and for the most part they are probably right. At least I hope it will be this way with my own children. But I agree with you, in the end it is of course still possible, to say that nothing could ever destroy this bond is fantastical thinking.
Comment by Jedi Wanderer on January 22, 2011 at 6:44pm
No, I think you raised an excellent point. I think you shouldn't regret commenting for sure. I have 3 small boys of my own and though not loving any of them ever is the last thing on my mind, I also don't think I would be honest or happy with myself if I gave them the old line my parents gave me that nothing they could do could make me stop loving them. Why set the bar so low? I think as a parent it is important to keep your children motivated and vigilant, so keeping them a little off balance is in their interests. Of course I am not advocating ever telling a child you won't love them if they did something, that probably wouldn't be true anyway. Well now I'm the one rambling. Thanks Linda for your thoughtful responses.
 

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