Is it possible to do good things? | INFJ Forum

Is it possible to do good things?

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by Gul Dukat, Oct 5, 2013.

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  1. Gul Dukat

    Gul Dukat Community Member

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    Even though I'm sure it's going to sound melodramatic, I'm not convinced that it's possible to do good things in the world... mostly because as a species (or more accurately as a species controlled by unbridled self-interest), we've long surpassed the point where we need to worry about having a natural equilibrium with our surroundings... and natural things like death and pain are considered unforgivable whenever they happen.

    Just being a human being with an average western lifestyle already makes you a liability. Just by doing what everyone around you does, you're hurting other people, you're hurting the future generations, and you're hurting the rest of the planet. On top of that, it seems like our topmost priority and what we consider to be 'good' revolves around other people, and possibly animals that we like... and not around being natural. In fact, we actually fear the natural side of our being and from birth we're set on a course that is mostly dictated by large corporations-- we might have an ironic distance from that or even potentially a few microscopic victories that still cheat our ability to be equals with nature.

    Seriously-- how do we as human beings continue to live with ourselves?
     
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  2. sprinkles

    sprinkles Well-known member

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    Yes it's hard to go back once you've been taught, but not impossible.

    You can try to limit your damage. I for example get my technology fix mostly from computers, and I've mainly used older ones and fixed them with used parts. Basically I limit my consumption. Currently I have two computers and one of them is an old school IBM 300GL, the other I've had around for years and just keep fixing it so I'm not wasting still good parts by throwing it away, and my other bit of technology is my Nintendo DS. I don't have a cell phone, nor a camera, nor a tablet or ipod or a stack of gaming consoles, because honestly I don't have time to use all of it and it would go to waste. I barely have enough time to make good use of the computers and the DS.

    So in this way I try to limit my destructive habits.

    Edit:
    Also it's best to avoid destructive landscaping when you can. Having that perfect green lawn with no grubs or moles may look nice but it is destructive. Those moles and grubs are important. It's absurd and backwards to kill things off just to keep your grass green. Also leave mushrooms and fungus where you find them, and if you have forested property, let the leaf litter be. Or if you insist on cleaning up leaves, compost them somewhere. The bugs and decay and earthworms are very important.
     
    #2 sprinkles, Oct 5, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2013
  3. ThisIsWhoIAm

    ThisIsWhoIAm is best pony

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    In Judaism there's what is called "Yetser Hara" which roughly means "the created evil". They all derive from one, which takes all kinds of forms and shapes like thoughts, imaginations, and will to do certain things. It is said that the ultimate purpose of humans (by Judaism) is bring yetser hara into balance with yetser hatov (the created good) so that when yetser hara arises you have enough power with yetser hatov to do good instead of bad. I believe we are still in a time frame in which we could come to harmony with our surroundings, be it lakes, oceans, beasts or man.

    And by the way, one of the manifestations of yetser hara is thoughts of despair, which would attempt to prevent you from doing good.
     
  4. sassafras

    sassafras Oprah Wind Fury

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    I get what you're saying, but if you're looking at this from such a broad, interlocking perspective, wherein every act of good inevitably brings about bad consequences, wouldn't it be also true that for every bad there is also an inadvertent good that comes about too?

    In the end, life--and indeed nature-- is just the check and balance of various consequences. We assign certain values to consequences and develop creeds which dictate our actions; we may resolve to do more to bring about x and to counterpoint y, but whether the intended or inadvertent outcome is positive or negative largely depends on the perspective you're viewing it from. There's no true inherent value in anything that we do. What is good and what is bad is entirely limited to your perspective... which by the way, happens to evolve from and build upon the perspectives of others.

    If we accept that good and bad are just values, and we accept that there is a ripple effect of our actions that result in numerous outcomes that can be labelled "good" and "bad" depending on perspective, then there is no absolute good and there is no absolute bad. Therefore, depending how you want to look at it, yes, it's impossible to do all good... but it's just as impossible to do all bad.

    Free from the burden of that absolutism, we have a choice. Do we sit around and do nothing because no matter what we do we're going to fuck up somehow, or do we take deliberate action that we know and believe will directly benefit someone and trust that, even if there are inadvertent bad outcomes, there will also be inadvertent good outcomes in addition to the intentional good that we set out to do.
     
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  5. OP
    Gul Dukat

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    I suppose it would depend on whether more good or more bad ultimately comes about from a specific action.
    If anyone considers destruction to be inherently bad, then just being a living human being is probably a bad thing... unless we're somehow preventing the rise of an even more destructive species, which seems unlikely to me.

    Of course, not all destruction is bad... I mean, disproportionately destructive to the extent that the existence of a single thing is a threat to the existence of a countless number of species, each of them unique and deserving of life.

    Well, yes, it's all subjective... but imagine you are talking about someone or something which is deeply and inextricably connected to a wholly destructive phenomenon, and that no matter what that being did, it would ultimately be contributing to that phenomenon and ultimately continuing its advance.

    If a deeply destructive phenomenon refuses to be, does that constitute a good act?
     
  6. sprinkles

    sprinkles Well-known member

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    Buddhism talks about skillful and unskillful action. Some say that this is the same as good and bad, but I differ on this point.

    The the intended purpose of skillful action is to prime you to transcend the subjective boundaries that cause suffering. So while it's true that good and bad are subjective, it does not end there because you're still under these subjective effects. However, through knowing this subjectivity and being aware of delusions, one can get an informed meta perspective, where they stop reacting and begin acting with clarity.
     
  7. sassafras

    sassafras Oprah Wind Fury

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    Disproportionately destructive to what, though? To the event with which an act shares a direct causal and equally weighted relationship (destruction of several species to ensure the survival of one), or to the total amount of good/bad that an act may promote via ripple effect? How do we value good and bad? Is its source finite? Is there a quota that must be met? Can things add up or must they be of equal weight to be compared? For example, if we were to eliminate half the world's population, technically, we would also be eliminating additional future opportunities for doing good in the world that may eventually outweigh the bad of destroying many species. How can you weigh the true value of an act as an absolute without seeing the entire matrix beyond the present, beyond the future and how an act may ultimately contribute to the total quota of good?

    Anything in life is really just a matrix of consequences which can be interpreted narrowly or broadly, but never absolutely. This was my quibble with the 'impossible to do good' statement.

    Again, it depends on how you would like to measure good. How would you measure destruction? Would do so by tallying up the good outcomes that now have the potential to unfurl versus the number of good outcomes we've destroyed? Or would we measure it on absolute terms, in the sense that this destructive phenomenon brought about by that being is so inherently evil that it taints every other outcome going forward?
     
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  8. niffer

    niffer Well-known member

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    Why is it important to be natural? If it's so hard to be natural and do good things according to your conception of good, why then are you as an average human able to value this and identify this as a problem? Furthermore you just outlined the solution to the problem you brought up: cease being "average".
     
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  9. LucyJr

    LucyJr Well-known member

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    Your question dispel in pieces relativism !You know that right ?
     
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  10. LucyJr

    LucyJr Well-known member

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    Speaking of good, are you make a reference to a objective good or to a relativ-situational one ?
    I can't answer the question without this clarification !
     
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  11. OP
    Gul Dukat

    Gul Dukat Community Member

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    This is also why we are able to rationally justify any act we choose, isn't it?

    Do you think a child molester is doing a good thing if, as a direct result of his actions, one of a his victims goes on to help other victims of child molesters? We're talking about an act that has produced a lot of (relative) good for a lot of people here... so maybe child molesters should be helped to molest the 'right' children so that we can have more counselors. Your tax dollars could help see this become a reality, and we could save the world.

    Not that it qualifies in the grand cosmic scale of things (in which nothing at all qualifies because the universe is probably indifferent), but I really don't think you can just take the 'it's all subjective' argument all of the time... in the scenario I just described, the molestation was a catalyst for good, but not an inherently good act... and even the counselor isn't doing 'good' so much as repairing 'bad'-- and there's a difference between actively contributing value and bringing a deficit back to zero.

    I think my point was that I'm not sure if the human race is ever going to be capable of escaping this undeniably destructive identity it has built for itself.

    I also think it is possible to recognize good and evil... maybe not in a rational sense-- but probably in an intuitive one.
     
    #11 Gul Dukat, Oct 5, 2013
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  12. OP
    Gul Dukat

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    Well, I would have to ask you who you would rather invite to your house: a known sex offender who smokes meth all day, is known for random, unpredictable bursts of rage and who will hurt you til you cry before destroying most of your favorite possessions and then murdering you, or someone who is polite, respectful, courteous and who is actually coming to your house because he wants to give you ten million dollars with no strings attached?

    Identifying a problem isn't the same thing as being part of the solution... and maybe there are ways to live outside of human activity, but then you're still allowing it to continue-- so is simply removing yourself from the activity enough to consider yourself good?
     
  13. niffer

    niffer Well-known member

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    Are you asking me an irrelevant and over-exaggerated question about sex offenders because you are unable to answer my first simple question to you?
     
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  14. OP
    Gul Dukat

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    I don't know what you mean by natural I guess... so yes, I'm unable to answer the vague question you posed to me.
    [MENTION=9350]sentientsixpence[/MENTION]-- are you going through every thread I post in and then giving a thumbs up to anyone whenever you feel like they 'got' me?
    It really does seem that way.
     
  15. niffer

    niffer Well-known member

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    I'm just saying that it seems like a lot of the premise of what you're arguing is based on humans doing things that are not natural. I'm asking why you're asserting that natural is equatable to good. (And actually if you think about it, acting on sexual urges is kind of a sort of natural thing to do, so it's in no way relevant to any point you'd be aiming towards proving, if it seemed like you were aiming at anything at all.)

    Also, by ceasing to be average, that would have meant not only removing yourself from negative behaviour, but trying to become a positive force. I also disagree with the notion that just because one is working to bring the score back up to zero rather than positive, this is not "doing good" or contributing value. Maybe not in the grander scale of things, but they're still working for the opposite of bad.

    PS I don't know why you're thumbs downing me when you're the one aggressively asking a 19 year old girl if she'd like to be raped and killed rather than asking for clarification on my completely non-aggressive post.
     
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    #15 niffer, Oct 5, 2013
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  16. the

    the Si master race.
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    [MENTION=8720]Gul Dukat[/MENTION]:

    You've seemed to define 'good' in such a way that the only way a human can do good would be to kill ourselves. Good =/= natural, necessarily. But you are right within your own definition of good, a person will never be good. OP seems more like a rant than something that has been thought about.
     
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  17. rawr

    rawr ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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    this.

    I was thinking about making a snarky reply that just said "yes. a bit dramatic/overthought, don't you think?"

    You've misdefined (in my opinion) "good." Just because we exist doesn't mean we can't do good. Again, I agree with [MENTION=731]the[/MENTION] - if we go by your definition, then yes, we're simply burdening society/the ecosystem.
     
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  18. Swarmer

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    In order to truly give though, you have to have. You have to start selfish in order to be able to commit selfless acts that actually have a lasting impact.
     
  19. OP
    Gul Dukat

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    If you think it's a dumb question then why would you even respond? I'm sorry I wasted your valuable time with my pointless rambling, but wouldn't you have felt a lot better if you had privately rolled your eyes and moved on? And you make it sound like I was uttering threats or stalking you... congrats on being a 19 year old girl and I'm sorry I exploited your delicate vulnerable condition. I'm also sorry that you didn't like my analogy, but I still think it's a pretty fitting one when you think about the impact that humans have had on the planet. But obviously it was a pretty poor choice if your only reaction to it is mentioning your age and gender, as if being 19 and a girl in 2013 means you're some sort of precious innocent who isn't constantly bringing up all kinds of nasty shit just to shock people anyways.

    I don't know how you could ever possibly argue that having 9 billion human beings on the planet is in any way good for anyone, including other people. I don't know how anyone can argue that any one species has a right to take every single aspect of the planet and wrangle it into something that suits their tastes, without ever taking into consideration whether or not it might be seriously damaging things for everyone else... which is pretty much what people do. That was the purpose of my analogy... but yeah, keep throwing the creep card around because it's always a winner.

    I suppose I have defined 'good' in a really negative way as far as people (including myself) are concerned... I'm not sure how other people would define 'good', but it seems to me that if you define it as humans empowering each other in any way, then you're actually defining something that is contributing to the most destructive force that the world has seen, possibly in its entire history.

    There has never been so much death on this planet at one time-- even the asteroids that killed the dinosaurs took millions of years... and we're doing it in hundreds. This is seriously it, this is the worst disaster that the living world has ever faced (except maybe the oxygen catastrophe)... and everyone thinks the best way to deal with it is to do whatever we can to feel good all the time. Dismissing it as melodrama doesn't even approach a valid argument... insisting I'm wrong isn't an argument either. Not that it matters, however... people tend not to agree unless what you're saying feeds into their need to feel good about themselves, or be entertained.

    And yeah, I guess it is something of a rant, but I'm mostly interested in how people can keep going about their lives as if it's all good and we all deserve happiness and love and fulfillment while also directly contributing to something which, by all accounts, is a global extinction event.
     
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  20. niffer

    niffer Well-known member

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    I don't see how it was a fitting analogy in the slightest. Can you explain how it had anything to do with naturalness or what you were trying to prove?
     
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