Krystaline's Blog...We are all a Starlight Project!

Belief, and the Leap to Faith: NOT one and the same 

I have had recent events in my life happen, that did not shake my Faith, but merely strengthened it; while I saw the same exact events unfold in the eyes of others, and leave their Beliefs shaken... Leading me to the contemplation that BELIEF and FAITH are two different things, and then it reminded me of reading the Philosopher Soren Kierkegaard whom contemplated this very subject; so why re-invent the wheel?

What is the "leap of faith" according to the Philosopher Kierkegaard?

Soren Kierkegaard's (who coined the phrase) philosophy on Leap of Faith is rooted in the distinction between Belief and Faith. This philosopher argued the merit of faith in God. In fact, he asserted that life is only worth living if you have total FAITH in God. According to Kierkegaard, BELIEF is reserved for things that can be proven by evidence. On the other hand FAITH is reserved for things that lack evidence. Since he also agreed that God is beyond logic, proof, or reason, he had no trouble admitting it took a Leap of Faith to believe in God; after all lack of logic, proof or reason are the very things necessary for Faith to be FAITH.

In order to reach this kind of faith, which Kierkegaard did not deem impossible, he argued that one must be constantly busy with self-analysis and evaluation. What this statement means and implies is that rather than just going around saying I “Have Faith”, one must take a long good look at themselves. Faith is also circular, in that it takes Faith to have Faith, hence again described as a "Leap."
Interesting Factoid
Kierkegaard never used the term "Leap OF Faith", rather he describes how one can make a "Leap TO Faith."

I found the Video below a good representation of the point I've tried to make, though I am not Christian, and you might not be either... GOD or CREATOR may mean different things or come by different names, to different people. It is all relative to the one having the experience.

Duty vs. Rights 

“We become Just, by doing Just acts; Temperate, by doing Temperate acts,” –Aristotle.

In Human Rights, according to H.J. McCloskey, a right may be an entitlement to do, to enjoy, to demand, to have done for us. Rights may be to act, to exist,or to demand. He went on to describe duties, as something negative, imposed on another, and that cannot be denied, if in fact, the another individual has a valid right under his claim. In this way, Rights and Duty are forever entwined always to impose on one another. An example in real life would be my right, given by the state, to Marry. Another cannot deny me my inalienable right, and therefore has a duty to perform said task, or request. Or just stand out of the way and not impede the process. Whichever the case might be. 

A Contract is an agreement between two parties. We enter into contracts every day, when we buy a house, car, get married, etc. Societies are controlled by governments. The general idea is that people benefit from living together in a group, or society governed by a body with rules and laws. When you live in society, you give up certain Rights (or freedoms), like the right to kill someone without punishment, in exchange for protection against another’s trespass of the law against you. People enter into an unspoken Social Contract every time they move into a new place. There are new people, new rules, and new processes.  

The ’General Will’ is a new type of Social Contract. The idea of the ‘General Will’ was constructed by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. This new idea was intended to ensure that citizens did not feel like they had to make decisions, based off of what the majority wants. The majority does not rule. All decisions that are made should not be made based on individual desires. Instead, Rousseau offers that decisions should be made based on what the citizens feel is best for the community. Further, the theory follows with the assertion that everyone is born inherently ‘good,' and that selfish behavior and vanity are learned. Therefore, ‘General Will’ works because there is no coercion.

                        For example, if one citizen believes that there should be a raise in the minimum wage in their community so that there can be an economic stimulus growth. On the other hand, and another citizen is in conflict with this idea because they own a company and have many employees; therefore this would cost them a lot of money. The second citizen is acting out of self-interest, by worrying about their personal consequences, while the first is practicing the ‘General Will’ by placing aside their personal beliefs. 

It reminds me of the television series Star Trek, where there is a character named “Spock,” and he is of a race called Vulcans. This race is ruled by logic and not emotions, and so he is always in some way or another quoting empirical philosophy and logic in his decisions. There are many episodes where he quotes the line “The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few,” which in itself is a Consequentialist Perspective.

IS it true that we OUGHT to seek reason? 

David Hume stated that there are fundamental differences between Moral arguments and other kinds or arguments. The IS/OUGHT conundrum. This theory can be best broken down like this... 
Rational Argument: All women are mortal. Krys is a woman. Therefore Krys IS Mortal.

Moral Argument: Seeing a woman get robbed is frustrating. Robbery is against the Law. It is wrong to Rob People, therefore we OUGHT not to Rob each other.

A  statement using IS, can be considered a description of the world. A fact that someone may be able to confirm or deny through research or analysis. OUGHT on the other hand, is a value judgement, something which calls on preferences, perceptions, and intuitions.Neither which are necessarily universal. Although there is nothing wrong or irrational about OUGHT statements, we use them to describe if-then scenarios that depend on what a particular person wants or feels, which are called "Hypothetical Imperatives."

So for example if I want to make myself a sandwich (in the middle of the night as I write this. lol), then I OUGHT to get some bread to make it. You can confirm or deny this statement, and prove its validity with scientific method/ However, this scenario is dependent on person, time, and place; in-then scenarios, and might not hold to be universally true. This would be a rational statement.

In contrast, the truth or a Moral Statement is not supposed to depend on the opinions and values of the person saying it. It is usually more of a Categorical Imperative, like supported by philosopher Emmanuel Kant, that says: 

"One’s actions can only be justified if it could be turned into a Maxims or universal law to be applied throughout the world."
Does your head hurt yet??? - Don't give up! There's a video at the end. lol.
Our first reactions to something might not be the most authentic expression of our values. This is how this article relates to REAL every day life.

HUME realized there was a gap, between the statements of fact of IS, and the Moral output of the OUGHT to question. A poignant observation that has been passed down in modern history as "to Assume, you make an ASS out of U and Me." Hume although a bit empirical in this methods of distinction in the IS/OUGHT problem "GAP" or Hume's Guillotine as it has come to be called, does not mean that he did not acknowledge that sometimes we CAN make OUGHT assertions from IS statements, and therefore fill the gap, although there is no empirical evidence pointing to those facts. He postured that this occurred through reason, and that by exercising one's rational mind, we could come to conclusions that perhaps we did not appreciate before. He used the example of ART, in saying that although we were all not inclined to like the same colors or patterns, that when we look at certain pieces of art, that normally we would "not like" sometimes we are taken by them, and it required a second look to fully engage and understand its meaning.
Similarly, when you watch a movie or read a book, that you think is dumb, but later discuss it with your friends and suddenly you have an epiphany and understand more than you initially did. Looking at things from a new angle (See my post on Perception). 

Well... Here is something even MORE interesting! New advances in Neuroscience have now lead Philosophers to reject the old notions of the Aristotlean 5 senses. That... is another post all together!

The Golden Truth: Nature's Harmony 

As human beings, we appropriate the EGO to the driver's seat, while we relegate our built-in sense of collaborative or biological altruistic imperative to a standby witness, at best. As proof, there are immaculate examples of the ability to override this function, by what we perceive as humans to be extraordinary beings like Socrates, Copernicus, Leonardo DaVincci, Mozart, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Einstein, Tesla, etc. All of these individuals felt like they were part of a ‘collective consciousness' which all interpreted differently (some as faith, others as art, or science), as they felt a call to a higher purpose, an altruistic one—for of the betterment and survival of the species via the anima of both physical and spiritual needs.

This exercise of the mind has left me excited and renewed with hope, that indeed the Human Condition may yet reach its full built-in potential (See posts on Human Collective). It seems that we have experienced in our recent present a modern ‘dark age' period, such as ones from ages in history, during which human consciousness appears to stunt its advancement, and retracts into selfish realms of being and existentialist pleasures.  Similar to the controlled experiment, where slime mold exposed to periods of stress in anticipation of the stress, began to stunt its growth--I find the human collective has done the same (See Post on Slime Mold). Perhaps from these experiments, we can further gain insight into the implication that we are but individual pieces, like the mold nuclei, in the grand collective of the organism, that like the original example we have observed, make a whole.

The beauty of creation is that the design and intentions are seen in the world all around us, in the forms of both micro and macrocosms, we observe, as forms of objective truth.  The golden ratio, also known as the divine proportion, or the golden mean is a complicated mathematical formula that is derived from the measurement of the distance between ratios, and appears in all forms of nature. Flower petals, sunflower seed heads, tree branches and root systems, all follow the Fibonacci sequence present in the golden ratio. Seashells, spiral galaxies, and hurricanes all follow the golden spiral in the same ratio. The length of our fingers, from the tip of the base to the wrist, follows the ratio of Phi. The measurement from the human navel to the floor and to the top of your head follows the golden ratio; so do the bodies of dolphins, starfish, ants, and honeybees. And to rest my case, I add that a DNA molecule's measurements of the double helix spiral exhibits and follows the Fibonacci sequence

 (link to Live Science and read more).

Can you accept the golden ratio as part of a deliberate, intelligent design; an objective truth that cannot be denied? 

Subjectively we all decide what to believe after all that is what I think our free will allows. However the main point in all this cannot be ignored, and that is to acknowledge that in this study we see ourselves, and that scares us. The thought that no one will speak out loud in any of the research I have read so far is this one: “If such a primitive form of being in creation can function on such a high cognitive level, by simply giving up its sense of ego and collaborating altruistically for the effective propagation of its self-sustainment; and in its single-cellular structure we consider to be inferior to us, how then can we be jealous and feel inferior in our cognitive abilities to the slimy mold?” I am hoping in all of this we can take the hidden potential as a subjective truth that can be explored objectively. I just can’t wait to see what the future of the human race’s evolution holds for us.

Morality, Ethics, & Dr.Death 

“We become Just, by doing Just acts; Temperate, by doing Temperate acts.”

These are potent words that echo in my mind while pondering the meditation at hand. I have read Aristotle and Plato (among others) extensively since I was a child, as my family has always had an inclination for philosophical studies, both in the Western and Indigenous realms. The question here is how we address the possibility of fitting virtue ethics into a consequentialist frame of mind, and what factors would be chosen for decision making. Let us take, for example, the case of Dr. Kevorkian (a.k.a. Dr. Death) and his ethical arguments for physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia. Most people would label him a murderer; consequentialists would praise him as a moralist, and virtue ethics would put him through the ringer. So how can we break down this argument? The most interesting part about this philosophical meditation is that we must analyze each theory to see where the similarities and differences lay.

Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics can be broken into two parts. Eudaimonia (Highest Good) and the actual Virtues (Aretȇ) with which we attain it. Morality is about developing a person’s character, in such a way that would grant the person the ‘Greatest Happiness’ and grant then the ability to both want to do the right thing and know what the right thing is. Further, while there is no obligation per say, the wise person still pursues the right path. According to Aristotle, the “Greatest Good/Happiness” (whatever that turns out to be), must contain 3 characters:

1)    It must be desirable for itself

2)    It must not be desirable on account of other goods

3)    All other goods are desirable for its sake

Also, while Aretȇ must be practiced, each virtue in-it-of-itself ‘Happiness.’ Within this theory, there are two types of Virtues: Moral and Intellectual. He believed that without one, there could not be the other, to achieve true Virtue, and thereby reach Eudaimonia. The main point of this argument is that intrinsically we must follow our reason and that we do not pursue things like wealth and health because we believe them to be ‘Well-Being,' but because they promote ‘Well-Being/Happiness;’ This is called the Function Argument. (See Illustration below)

For example, if someone thinks they are ‘Happy’ because they are rich or famous, then they are wrong. Aristotle says when you pursue wealth, what you desire is not the riches themselves, but what they can buy for you; confusing the endwe strive for, with the means towards that end (Aristotle). Therefore, ‘Happiness’ could never be the means to anything; it is the most final and absolute thing that we strive for, with reason. The virtuous mean will lay between two extremes, in the middle. With Dr. Kevorkian’s case, in which the ethics under which he performed such assisted suicides and euthanasia, he considered compassionate, therefore Moral and Intellectually Ethical; he believed he was practicing Aretȇ functions with the ultimate goal being Eudaimonia=Death to a terminal patient living an insufferable physical existence. Can we argue with that using Virtue Ethics?

Similarly, the philosopher Emmanuel Kant’s morality is also based on making a decision on Duty, and that action should be performed based on the ‘Right Intention.' This Deontologistperspective, Kant says carries a Categorical Imperative: One’s actions can only be justified if it could be turned into a Maxims or universal law to be applied throughout the world.

Using Kant’s imperative, Dr. Kevorkian would be placed under the microscope, and the categorical question asked would be: If we allow the behavior of assisted suicide and euthanasia, would it then be Morally justified as the Right Intention so that it would then be universal justification for worldwide adaptation of the process? In other words, if we allow Dr. Death to continue his mission without arrest or consequence, then the imperative will be that it is ok for anyone in the world who chooses to do this, to do so. Those would be the implications; under this theory.

On the other hand, we still have the Consequentialist theories of moral evaluation, which have two parts. One part is an account of ‘What is Good.’Another is an account on ‘How to Approach the Good,' such as the property of being right. John Stuart Mill, subscribed to the thought that the only way to judge if an action is morally correct is if the action maximizes the best possible consequences, for the greatest number of people (Velasquez). So in effect, with the example above from the illustrations, we prove the consequentialist theorem with the following facts:

     1)    Steve is terminally ill, and needs five doses of medicine to get better, and live. He is One.  
      2)   Tom, Alice, Rachel, Clark, and Dave all are sick too but need only one dose each to get better and live. They are five individuals. They are the Many. 

    According to Consequentialist Theory, The needs of the Many outweighs the needs of the Few. To give the medicine to the many is in effect the right thing.