Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

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Re: Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

Postby Openhome » Wed May 19, 2010 9:07 am

To respond to both of you in a less snarky way...
Knives, you have said repeatedly that SM screwed with the "myth." I replied that any and all myths are based on a "mythos" or truth from which they spring. Without the underlying mythos, the myth's have no reason to exist other than for sheer enjoyment. However, the fact that myth has remained, changing, yes, but still there, indicates that it touches on something deeper than cultural ethics.
What do you believe is behind the myths? Do you see any basic truths on which they touch?

Andy, thank you. I was going to post on exactly that topic. Much has been postulated about the Nazi (or any extremist) phenomenon. We all want to know how such travesties can occur so that we can perhaps stop them from happening again. Indeed, my friend of Jewish heritage and I discuss it often. The most frightening thing about Hitler wasn't that he was a monster, but that he was such a normal man. He and I share many of the same hobbies.

So, what makes us different? Are we different? Am I any different than a murderer? I hope so.

Without a set moral code, the only way we are different is that Hitler's view was deemed by society to be wrong. I am not saying this, but the end result of ethics based on culture is that very conclusion. Hitler was wrong, not because he did evil, but because his side lost.

God help us all when we get to that point.

One thing is clear from the horrors of WWII: there were men and women who went with the flow of their society and committed atrocities against their fellow man, and yet there were others who found within themselves the the impossible courage to hide their fellow men, to stand against those who would destroy, and to stand for what they knew was right.

Have you ever read the statements as to their moral choice? If not, I suggest you do - for both sides. On the Nazi side, man after man repeatedly says that there was a point that they made a choice to ignore what they knew was wrong and go along with the regime. This is not unique to Nazism, this is often a universal statement. There was a point where the choice was made. Conversely, those who hid Jews (I am mostly referring to works written about the courageous citizens of Holland here) can almost all point to the moment where they made the choice to stand against Germany. Their words will send shivers down your spine as you read of their courage.

So my question to you both is, if in that time these people made a choice, as they clearly reference, what did they base that choice on? Why did two incredibly similar societies take two very different ethical and moral roads? If there is no truth, no basis behind ethics, why was there a difference at all?
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Re: Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

Postby andypalmer » Wed May 19, 2010 9:54 am

Openhome. I lived in Germany for 15 years, including 2 years in Munich (of which Dachau is a suburb)[I"m a military brat]. I would bullet my observations thus:
- I met many Germans who pretended the atrocities weren't happening, they couldn't reconcile them so used denial as their method of "handling" it
- I met other Germans who were consciously aware but admittedly afraid to do or say anything. While we applaud those who did act, how many of us can say with certainty that we would have the courage to do the same, knowing certain death awaited not only us but our families if we were caught?
- A guard rotation policy was initiated in the camps, primarily because of the emotional toll of what they were doing on even the hardest of men
- The most common emotion I heard from those who lived during that time, with regards to the holocaust, was shame

So while I acknowledge that men exist who could perform such atrocities without losing any sleep, I consider them to be anomalies, to be flawed men lacking an important component.
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Re: Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

Postby Openhome » Wed May 19, 2010 10:24 am

I did not intend to condemn the German people in any way. If it came across that way, I am sorry. I have also spent a great deal of time in Germany, and I find the people there to be loving and wonderful.

What I did intend to show, using both your and Knives own examples, was that for most of the people in such difficult situations, there was a point at which they knew or understood that there was a choice to be made. I am not saying that I would have ever found the courage to stand up against a fascist regime. I am, however, saying that there seems to be an underlying moral dilemma that each person faced. How they reacted to that dilemma was based on their personal beliefs. Knives point was that the men and women whose actions we find atrocious did not do evil according to their society and cannot be judged as such because evil doesn't exist. Your point was that there is a moral code behind our ethical standards. My point is that without that moral code, there would be nothing wrong with genocide.

You stated that the German people often feel shame for what happened. I agree. I often felt like they wanted to apologize for what many of them hadn't done. If there was no underlying moral truth (which was ignored by many of the participants for various reasons - some of which were justifiable) why would they feel shame? As you said, our ethics are based on a moral truth that we believe. The German people feel shame and sorrow because they feel that their predecessors went against that truth.

It is an interesting commentary to humanity that Hitler painstakingly replaced the moral ideology of the German people. He knew that they would not kill and destroy innocent people without years of twisting their social morays. Love of humans was replaced by love of race. Duty to Germany was replaced by duty to the IDEAL German state. Even Hitler understood that to undermine a moral truth, you must replace it with a moral half-truth. All other fascist leaders have done essentially the same thing. From Lenin to Kim Jon Il, fascist leaders understand the need to replace morality with ethics.

This was my argument.

To state it again, the frightening thing about Hitler wasn't that he was a monster, but that he was a man, a human, just like me.
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Re: Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

Postby andypalmer » Wed May 19, 2010 10:33 am

Openhome. My apologies - my intent was not to imply you had condemned the German people, nor to do it myself. My intent was to show that, even though the history books may show the Germans as "evil" that the vast vast majority felt that moral question and dealt with it as best they could.
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Re: Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

Postby Total Twilight Fan » Wed May 19, 2010 10:39 am

I have a question- why did Aro and such become royalty?I mean, what caused people to listen to them in the first place?
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Re: Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

Postby December » Wed May 19, 2010 12:50 pm

If I could make a suggestion...we can all think of many vivid examples from history in which terrible atrocities have been committed. Invoking specifics helps make the conversation concrete, but it also takes this thread into territory we'd do much better to avoid. Let's stick to the underlying ideas, please, and leave actual historical people and events out of it. I understand why it's natural to refer to them them, but we really need to not go there. (And yes, I'm writing this in Mod Font).

I think that still leaves plenty of room for us to grapple with the puzzle -- as many famous thinkers before us have done! -- of exactly where our moral convictions come from, if they have no "real" basis. Most of us, even if we tend to take a nuanced view of the particular choices people make (making allowances for particular circumstances etc), still have a background standard of "right" and "wrong" by which we judge them. But does that HAVE to reflect some absolute truth? Opinions will differ!...
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Re: Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

Postby Knives » Wed May 19, 2010 12:58 pm

Curse you December! I had a wonderful post written up, and you locked the thread just as I clicked reply!

*weeps tears of great sorrow*
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Re: Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

Postby December » Wed May 19, 2010 1:03 pm

Oh God, I'm so sorry! Can you navigate back in your browser (it should still be cached there!!!)

ETA
have to run out the door. I'll try and check in again as soon as I can.
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Re: Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

Postby Knives » Wed May 19, 2010 1:04 pm

It is totally not cached there T_T I'll have to re-make it later *sadness*
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Re: Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

Postby Knives » Mon May 24, 2010 2:48 pm

Sorry for the double post, but here goes:

Ethics don't need some "moral" source from which to stem. They have a source already, which I believe accounts for the "universal" moral beliefs one finds in most cultures and religions - empathy. Empathy is more than someone just saying, "God, that could have been me." It's the mind providing itself with a striking conception of what being that person is like. When you look at a homeless person and feel pity, you're imagining yourself - with vivid feeling - in their position. Empathy is what takes a bunch of inherently selfish and self-interested beings (namely, anything alive - it's a survival instinct) and turns them into a social animal. A human stands up for their friend, an ape cares for its injured child, a wolf defends its packmate - bonds of loyalty, love, and friendship are all refined forms of empathy.

What is the first thing drilled out of soldiers and assassins? Empathy for their enemy. People are turned into targets. That part of the mind which imagines oneself in another's place is purposefully crippled. Such a practice is the genius of terrorist groups, racist organizations, and fanatical religions everywhere - they are the enemy, and the enemy is not human. When people start going down that route, they change. They become different. And it's noticable. Watch the film Jesus Camp sometime. Look at the childrens' eyes. You won't see any empathy there. Those are kids who have been trained to view human beings as an abstract concept - to be saved, or to be destroyed.

As far as how this applies to the vampires in Twilight, there's two extremes Ms. Meyers goes to, and the dichotomy is fallacious. The one is the Cullens - full-up on empathy for human beings and struggling to maintain it. The other end are the orphan-devouring monsters. She ignores a whole gamut of places in between that might cover a former human's reaction to becoming a predator. Why, for example, are there no vampires who prey upon rapists, muggers, and murderers? Serial killers stalking Mafia enforcers? For that matter, what about a racist who gets turned and starts eating "all those damn illegal immigrants,"? Vampires have the potential to do a lot of "good", however (and to whomever) they view that to be, but we see none of that in the series. Instead she loudly and proudly waves black-and-white banners that herald a mode of morality that was outdated at the time of its conception.

Those are my two cents so far - hoping to hear replies!

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