David, this is why I love your comments. They get me going…the thinking juices flowing, the motivation striding. And the best part is that I do not necessarily find myself ever completely disagreeing with you. I see where you are going with your thinking and I like and get it. I just think the way you approach your ideas is…well, it’s certainly interesting and unique (this is not a sideways insult, btw), but it makes assumptions which I think need to be rationally tweaked, if I can say that without sounding like an arrogant prick.
Maybe I can’t. I’ll let you be the judge. If I can’t…touche; I can see that.
I think you are thinking of morality in terms of positive commandments. I only think of morality in terms of negative commandments. When I say morality I mean: Thou shalt not murder. Thou shalt not commit adultery. I never mean anything like giving to the poor, etc. So often people confuse morality with benevolence. Morality is a necessity. Benevolence is just a nice to have. I don’t believe in any obligation to feed the poor, but I do believe in any obligation to not defraud them. Once people try to make morality based on positive commandments (do’s) rather than negative (don’ts) then you have tyranny.
David…and, see, that’s the rub. Your observation is precisely why people MUST think critically when evaluating any idea, but particularly any idea which claims authority as a “law” or a “commandment”. Because we so quickly resort to our default Platonism: abstractions rule men, men don’t rule themselves. Meaning is outside of man; and man is obligated to organize his life around the ethereal abstractions as if they are absolute and he and his life exist purely to conform to the “ideal” (the “form”). Instead of the other way around, which is the only rational way of living. It has become so second nature to us…hell, I would not even say “second” nature. Our default nature IS our Platonist assumptions. I mean…look, the entire fucking Standard Model of Physics is utterly rooted in irreconcilable Platonist metaphysical assumptions. Obviously all matter inexorably will trend towards infinity…this is just a natural function of the reality of everything’s inherent BEING. In order for any “law of nature” to work, there needs to be the OBJECT which IS in order to receive the influence of the “law”. That is, all objects need to possess the inherent and innate ability to be acted upon by any law; and it is this which is the root of their existence. The SELF of whatever is…must be infinite. And yet, there they go, building billion or trillion dollar super colliders looking for the infinite, dimensionless particle which is the building block of all matter. A particle which even a cursory infusion of reason into the entire fucking premise will tell you cannot possibly exist. There is no such thing as “a particle” which exists separately from all that IS and yet is the source of all that is. You cannot have the INFINITE source of what is be separated from everything which is a direct function of it. This is simple logic. An absolute cannot be parsed by “space” or “time”.
Anyway…you get my point. And Christians aren’t any more reasonable…oh, hell no. Our contradictory doctrines are a punch line to a bad fucking joke going back almost two thousand years to St. Augustine. So quickly do Christians resort to Platonism that we make statements like “God creates man out of nothing”. Nothing cannot literally exist, by definition…so, how does that work exactly? God made the world in six literal “days”, when a day didn’t exist until man decided to invent the concept. “Day” is an abstraction, and abstractions come from where? Man’s mind. If man wasn’t around, then neither is was a “day”.
And what also doesn’t work? The idea that man can be commanded to do a “not”. Every action of man is a function of man’s infinite being…thus, all man does is DOING, it cannot be NOT doing.
Let me explain.
There is no such thing as a “negative” commandment. All commandments require men to ACT…which is to do. Since BEING is the source of man’s life, and being is perpetually active, and is the singularly infinite source of all man IS and does, man cannot, by definition, do “nothing”. “Nothing” is a metaphysical/epistemological, even mathematical, placeholder. It does not actually exist. When God says “do not murder”, He is not advocating that man do “nothing”, which is a logical impossibility. The implicit imperative behind these “negative” commands compels man to ACT: they are assumptions (ideas) which should lead to the volitional doing of things.
And the assumptions behind the Ten Commandments which man then uses to compel his actions are devoted to a singularity of TRUTH/MORALITY…that is, the infinite standard by which the Ten Commandments can be known as good and true. That is, man is to use the assumptions to DO something in service to the standard. In all Ten Commandments I submit the standard is man’s SELF…his LIFE, his singular existence.
This leads to the inevitable conclusion that man’s life then is the authority behind the “law”. Thus, just as I said in my article, the Law ceases to be a law at all…for it lacks any authority of itself, no matter where it is from or who gave it (the “state”, the “church”; even God, Himself), to either condemn or justify/affirm man. Man’s existence is the singular authority behind any “law”. Period. Full stop. Which makes man the only real authority.
This is why the Law can never justify nor condemn…and why I am a Christian, not a Jew, even though I obviously understand and affirm the usefulness of the Law in laying the foundation of right assumptions in a world where insane and destructive Platonist philosophy burns up cities and nations like a napalm bomb the size of the fucking moon. But “law”, no matter which one, gets its authority from man’s life, which means that man is never ethically obligated to a law. On the contrary…the law is ethically obligated to serve the individual. And the individual is only ethically obligated to his own existence.
I do affirm your assertion that “morality is necessary”. Truly. But why? What is morality saying exactly? Morality is literally NOTHING MORE than declaring the individual human the standard of GOOD (and TRUTH). Any other definition of morality is not rationally defensible. Kantianism, Platonism, Marxism, Calvinism, Socialism, Collectivism, Communism, Theocracies, Monarchies…none of these have a rational basis for their standard of morality. Thus, morality as an ideal is only valid if we are speaking of the right of each individual person to wholly own themselves.
So I agree that morality is necessary, but not any morality…because there is no such thing as any morality. Morality is only non-relative/non-equivalent, and thus RATIONAL and reasonably EFFICACIOUS, if the standard is man’s life. This is true for any conceptual abstraction (idea), whether it is morality, or space, or time, or math, or blue, or purple, or distance, or flavor, etc.. All ideas serve and affirm man’s life and/or make it possible for man to organize his environment in service to the promotion of his life…or they are false; they are irrational, and should be rejected out of hand.
12 thoughts on “There Is No Such Thing as “Nothing”; There is No Such Thing as a Negative Command: Morality defined”
“There is no such thing as a “negative” commandment. All commandments require men to ACT…which is to do.”
Wrong. Negative commandments require a man to not act. Thou shalt not commit murder. That is, don’t do it. Don’t act. That’s precisely the point I am making in the distinction between positive and negative. And it doesn’t have anything to do with creation ex nihilo, so I don’t see how that came into this discussion. “Negative” here has no reference to nonexistence. It merely means a don’t instead of a do.
“I do affirm your assertion that “morality is necessary”. Truly. But why?”
Because you don’t want anyone killing you or robbing you. Its not that you’re looking for a handout; just looking to be left alone and allowed to live your life in peace. Its the one truly legitimate function of government, i.e. to restrain evil. To restrain uses negative commandments and only negative.
Morality is always doing. There is no such thing as doing NOT. To parse commandments by “negative” and “positive” introduces unnecessary confusion and qualification where there is no logic to support such an exercise. Since existence is literally DOING, by definition (to live) all morality, like everything else about man’s life requires action. God is commanding people to act in service to the TRUTH of mans life. There is nothing beyond that in the Ten Commandments.
All ideas must be vetted rationally. How is it possible to do what doesn’t exist? NOT doesn’t exist. So what is really happening when you are “not” murdering? You are DOING something else in service to the idea that man GETS TO LIVE. THAT is morality, and THAT is the root of the commandment.
Why don’t you want people robbing or killing you? What is the standard they are violating?
To not do something does NOT require to do something else in its place. To not do something is simply to not do it. That’s the point. Its not “Thou shalt not murder but thou shalt save lives” but just “thou shalt not murder.”
Obviously there’s a principle of reciprocal harm in play. If I can just go around murdering people, they can murder me too.
Because life is DOING by definition there is no qualitative difference between “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not”. Of course a “thou shalt not” requires a contrary action. Man cannot DO a negative. That is a fact of his existence. The implication is not to ” simply not do it”, the implication is just as it is in every commandment: to replace destructive actions with actions which affirm life. The point of the commandments is to lead to assumptions which drive ACTION, since inaction is completely impossible except in the abstract (or figurative) sense.
Man’s life as GOOD is the pervasive theme. The commandments demand moral thoughts leading to moral action.
I am not qualifying further the commandment. I am stating the axiomatic truth. Man cannot perform a NOT. It is utterly impossible to “not do” except figuratively, no matter what action you tag on the end. Therefore “do not murder” MUST imply an contrary course of ACTION. If you don’t murder, what do you DO? You must do something. If you restrain your hand from murder that is an ACTION. It is to DO restraint. David, you are implying a qualitative difference between “thou shalt” and ” thou shalt not”, where there is, in fact, no such difference.
So? Why is violating you wrong, too? What is the presumption behind “don’t rob or kill your neighbor”? Why is restraint good? The moral imperative must be in service to something? It cannot be in service to itself, for that contradicts the moral imperative. It cannot be in service to God, for “because God said so” leads to the same contradiction.
Thus, there can be only one legitimate and logical reason for ANY moral commandment given to man. What is it?
I have no problem with affirming the rightness of the commandments on the basis of a certain moral principle. But what you seem to be doing is demolishing them by asserting that they aren’t based on any principle. Your view just lead to more moral chaos, no different from Calvinism.
You couldn’t be more wrong. I have already stated the moral principle: mans own life. Everything man does is a direct extension of what he is. The reason for the commandment(s) then is nothing more than affirming the absolute of LIFE.
I have never met a Calvinist who asserts that. And neither have you. You are hilarious.
Answer my question: what is the moral principle behind the commandments? If more than one, what are they?
Its more than man’s own life. If life as in mere physical existence were all, then why “thou shalt not commit adultery”? Adultery conceives babies as much as marital sex. There is also that God wants life to be improved in being less filled with complication and pointless drama and nonsense.
First, there is no way to either prove or rationally argue an existence of man beyond the “mere physical”. None. It is the false parsing of man, who is an absolute (man’s SELF), into dueling and mutually exclusive essences of “body” and “spirit”, when in truth this is nothing more than an idea which is trying to make some kind of theological point which is, I submit, only ever argued at the level of the conceptually abstract (nuancing the vagaries of man’s existence relative to his environment). How is it possible that by a DIRECT and ABSOLUTE function of your physical body you can claim that life is more than the physical? You can only make that claim BECAUSE you are PHYSICALLY existent to make it in the first place. There is NO you beyond what you see in the mirror every day. If man has a spirit, it is a direct function of his physical body, which means there can be no distinction.
Second, adultery is theft, often compounded by lies (false witness). Adultery robs another person of the investment of themSELVES into the marital relationship. As such, it denies them the right to their life through a violation of the their mind and a larceny of their livelihood, which was, again, heavily invested in the marriage, as it always is. This is why it is immoral.
Third, you have yet to answer my question. Why does God care that man’s life is “improved” and “less filled with complication”? What is God’s standard by which he sees that as good? Why should man see it as good? What is the objective? What is the standard?