MORALITY AS AN ILLUSION
As we can not seem to open you on the subject of ethics, as Harvey lately tried, though calling it metaphysics.
Jud: Man is supposed to realise that the reifications “morals” and “ethics” are basically an illusion. The reification “morals” is simply an abstract umbrella-word denoting the societal downward imposition of opinions regarding behaviour favourable to the dominant classes upon the general masses at a particular period of history.
However, it is true that I did promise you a piece on ethics and here it is.
Morality as an Illusion.
“Is morality no more than a collective illusion fobbed off on us by our genes for reproductive ends?”  (Ruse1986)
The meta-ethical question Ruse raises imparts a new vitality and energy to the ethical discourse and introduces exciting possibilities of a socio-biological nature that may underlie Mary Midgley’s version of the origin of ethics. Midgley identifies morality as a group response to the conflict-ridden primal clashes and natural disasters associated by the traditional religious myths describing the origin of the universe and the early days of humankind. The chaos can only be overcome if human beings live by moral rules which curb and frustrate some of their desires.  (Midgely. 1993. p. 3.) So what is the nature of these rules?
People look at the rules, compare them, and eventually question the point of morality itself.
Doris Schroeder (my old professor) has characterised evolutionary ethics as arguing that natural selection has instilled human beings with a moral sense and a disposition to be good. On this basis morality could be understood as a phenomenon that arises automatically during the evolution of sociable, intelligent beings and not, as theologians or philosophers might argue, as the result of divine revelation or the application of our rational faculties.  (Schroeder)
Combining Ruse’s question and Schroeder’s outline I have structured my piece in the following way:
I. GENES AS A TELEOLOGICAL AGENCY?
II. GENETICAL TELEOLOGY OR TELEONOMY?
III. THE DYNAMIC OF APPOSITIVE TENDENCIES .
IV. WHY DOES NATURE FAVOUR GOODNESS?
I. GENES AS A TELEOLOGICAL AGENCY?
Is humanity’s moral nature manifested as a mere practical result or consequence of some species specific inherent disposition towards morality, as posited by Midgley’s traditionalist approach, or does mankind’s ethical nature operate as a feature of a hidden telic agenda with our genes acting as covert agential enforcers which further the cosmic program of some deity or unknown force?
Is the personification of DNA fragments known as *The Selfish Gene* a viable theory? The abstraction “selfish”, certainly sounds scientifically louche when applied to uncomprehending cellular material wherein no psychic activity takes place. But as Andrew Brown writes in “The Science of Selfishness” for Dawkins the word means: ‘The quality of being copied by a Darwinian selection process.’ ‘Evolutionary preferentiality’ perhaps No, ‘The Selfish Gene’ is a brilliant title for a best seller. The title is a marketing device which instantiates the core idea. Dawkins is aware of the implicature. It is very doubtful if a book with the title: *The Genetic Quality Of Being Copied By A Darwinian Selection Process.” would have sold half so many copies. ‘You don’t see something until you have the right metaphor to let you perceive it.’
(Shaw, ‘echoing Thomas S. Kuhn’ in Gleick, 1988.)  (Brown. 1998 )
 Ruse Michael. Taking Darwin Seriously. Oxford: Blackwell; 1986.
 Midgley. Mary. ‘The origin of ethics’ 1993. p. 3. A Companion to Ethics. Blackwell Companions to Philosophy.
Can it be that what we refer to as *morality* is really a feature of an evolutionary stabilising stratagem based upon opinion-forming genes? Do the articulations of our selfish replicators contain the DNA scripts of more just the obvious physical characteristics of our forebears, and encode the scripts for our behavioural relations with our fellow men too?
I believe they do, but not in the crude format of animal instinct-bearing genes with hard-wired scripts for nest-building, web-spinning, dam construction. Human genetic scripts respond to the unique catenulate history of the individual and provide subtle experientially tweaked behavioural preferences, rather than strict directions which can be thought of as set-in-stone pre-dispositional inclinations to interpret situations in a particular way as in many animals
GENETICAL TELEOLOGY OR TELEONOMY?
Descriptions of the phenomena of teleology use of ultimate purpose or design as a means of explaining phenomena. Belief in the perception of purposeful development toward an end. Theologically it is the doctrine that all things are designed by God.
Biologically it is the theory or study of organic development as caused by the ‘purposes’ which things serve. And what are these ‘purposes’ we may ask? Surely, to rely on some unspecified concept like ‘purposes’ is not to answer the question at all, but to leave it open-ended?
If God is excluded teleologically it applies to ends that are planned by some natural agent which can preview with intention, purpose and foresight possible evolutionary improvable models of various human biological and ethical futures? Surely this abstract representation of a quality or idea as a person is not what genetical bioethics had in mind?
As a theory the teleonomical explanation is an improvement which goes halfway to answering the question of a supposed developmental anticipated outcome. Teleonomy is the quality of apparent purposefulness and of goal-directedness of structures and functions in living organisms that derive from their evolutionary history and adaptation for reproductive success. Well, at least this cuts out the personification of teleology but it too seems to be ducking the question by offering evolutionary functionalism to explain the evolutionary function?
Theoretical descriptions of the possible processes that initiated the teleonomical process have recently been advanced. An interesting one is: ‘On the Chemical Nature and Origin of Teleonomy’ by Addy Pross of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, in Israel.  Pross. 2005)
The paper addresses the nature the physico-chemical of teleonomic events and the processes by which teleonomic systems could emerge from non- teleonomic systems. He speculates that teleonomic (purposeful) chemical events are those whose primary directive is discerned to be non-thermodynamic, while regular (non- teleonomic – non-purposeful events) are those whose primary directive is the traditional thermodynamic one, involving the conversion of different forms of energy.
For the archetypal teleonomic event which is cell multiplication, the non- thermodynamic directive can be identified as being a kinetic directive. It is
He proposes that the step where that transformation took place was the one in which some pre-metabolic replicating system acquired an energy-gathering capability, thereby becoming metabolic. The analysis builds on previous work that considers living systems to be a kinetic state of matter as opposed to the traditional thermodynamic states that dominate the inanimate world.
Ontologically my own theory of non- teleological change can be explicated thus.
The cosmos is an unbounded infinite complexity of interacting matter. The total cosmos is indestructible matter. The idea of a vacuum is a myth. All matter is in constant change – No change equals – no existence. Material is self-regulatory. (many self-regulatory material processes involve huge time spans by human standards. The spontaneous interaction of matter is a existential factor of its presence.
A teleonomic process, such as evolution, produces complex products without guiding foresight. Evolution gradually accumulates hindsight, as variations unwittingly make “predictions” about structures and functions which could successfully cope with the future, and participate in an audition which culls the also- rans, leaving winners for the next generation. Information accumulates about functions and structures that are successful, exploiting feedback from the environment via the selection of fitter coalitions of structures and functions. Teleonomy is related to past effects instead of present purpose.
For (Lorenz, 1996) Life is characterised by “a special structure which is moulded by evolution to make probable the gain of energy and to exploit highly specific sources of energy”. Information in common parlance means relevant, teleonomically organised information that has a meaning for the organism receiving or possessing it”.
WHY DOES NATURE FAVOUR GOODNESS?
I share the view that ‘morality’ incorporates a group’s evolutionarily engendered strategic attitudes or pragmatic opinions selected or sanctioned by nature as being beneficial for stable species-specific biological development. On this basis ‘ethics’ belongs to the domain of science not philosophy.
A feature of the diachronic nature of philosophy is the gradual reduction of its corpus, as various subjects of study, like mathematics, geography, chemistry, history, medicine, politics and sociology etc., have established and constituted themselves into independent domains of science and the humanities and hived off as independent disciplines.
As my old Prof Schroeder points out, this is certainly the view of Edward O. Wilson, the ‘father’ of the new science of sociobiology, who believes that “scientists and humanists should consider together the possibility that the time has come for ethics to be removed temporarily from the hands of the philosophers and bio-logicised” (Wilson, 1975: 27).
The challenge for evolutionary biologists such as is to define “goodness” with reference to evolutionary theory and then explain why human beings ought to be good.
THE DYNAMIC OF APPOSITIVE TENDENCIES
Inherent within such a ‘one to many – many to one ‘relationship are two dynamical appositive tendencies. Mankind’s primitive instincts often militate against the good of the group. The ethical memory-tissue is pulled in two diametrical directions – the individual good – as opposed to the *other* or ‘group good.’ If an equilibria of appositive precepts is experienced for any prolonged period angst and frustration may occur.
The material universe exists and must exist in a fashion which complies with the physical realities of how of matter exists- that is kinetically. To be kinetic involves change – change presupposes modes of change – modes of change presuppose ordered rather than chaotic change. If chaotic change was materially possible we would not exist and the cosmos would be a chaotic mess. The cosmos is not a chaotic mess and we exist – therefore only ordered change is possible. Ordered change is what humans mean when the refer to *nature* or ‘the laws of physics.’ Therefore ‘ordered change’ or ‘nature’ is simply the way the universe exists
ANIMAL INSTINCT AND HUMAN PREDISPOSITIONAL WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
There is a conflictual tension produced between the individual’s egoistical desires, and his/her perceived obligation to comply with the evolutionary stabilising strategies of his fellows which are designed to promote group equilibria. This tendency to impel the individual towards adopting strategies considered more beneficial to the person rather than the group operates via adaptive dynamics. Such responses often take the form of pretence or covert immoral behaviour. Lying (including self-deception and ‘white lies’.) are quite common. In the extreme there is sometimes a complete and overt rejection of the particular moral constraints involved.
In order for a moral strategy to be considered sequentially sensible a belief is required, but the belief in a moral systematic plan of action is most often conditional. It is expected to maximize a reciprocatory engendered pay off in terms of personal, sexual, group or societal stability. In the absence of a constancy of benefits individuals and the state institute a tit-for-tat policy or an equivalent given in return agenda is often instituted, which in personal relationships can lead to displacement activity or the dissolution of the moral contract and an end of the relationship. In societal terms such a lack of a reciprocatory generated pay-off often ends in society withdrawing from the moral contract and excluding the individual by imprisonment or taking other punitive action.
Perhaps the close connection between morality and religion, the equilibrious effect of an authoritative control mechanism is thus revealed? Perhaps this explains inter- religious rivalries and hatreds to a large extent? If ethical hegemony is a function of natural selection, any other moral system perceived as an alternative or threat to that to group cohesion would be identified as an adversary.
The absence of one or more of these criteria indicates that the behaviour is not fully instinctual. 7 months ago • Like
If these criteria are used in a rigorous scientific manner, then strictly speaking the application of the term “instinct” cannot be used in reference to human behaviour. When terms, such as mothering, territoriality, eating, mating, and so on, are used to denote human behaviour they are seen to not meet the severe criteria listed above. In comparison to animal behaviour such as hibernation, migration, nest building, mating and so on that are clearly instinctual, no human behaviour meets the necessary criteria. In other words, under this definition, there are no human instincts but rather pre-dispositional preferences.
That there exists an inborn hard-wired pattern of behaviour often responsive to specific stimuli resulting in predictable behaviour in animals is an accepted fact. Key stimuli initiate innate releasing mechanisms. Neurological imprinting causes geese to follow around the first moving object that they encounter, as it tends to be their mother. A firefly travels miles to home in on the female pheromones carried by the wind – you see a juicy veggie-burgher – your mouth waters etc.
It is arguable that we are born with predispositional traits which equip us to recognise, learn and inaugurate so-called ‘moral’ strategies considered to be biologically advantageous during the course of our lives. It is also true that instinctual behaviours which are in fact biologically self-serving behaviours calculated to realise biologically advantageous opportunities could be mistaken for ‘moral behaviours.’
Human emotional responses form a basis for arousal to outside stimuli but they can be countervailed by cognitive processes based upon moral strategies based upon considerations of delayed satisfaction, fear or a desire to preserve a group or societal stability.
Where I disagree strongly with Ruse regards his suggestion that our genes fob us off with our concept of ‘morality’ in order to conceal an underlying carnal agenda or sexual dimension of good behaviour. I do not believe that our genes have developed stratagems designed to falsely present human reproduction as morals.
Evolution is an unconscious, incognisant, uncaring, unplanned process. If it were true, that genes used morals as a cloak for sex then ironically it would position the very advocates and organisations which urge decent moral behaviour upon us as the very ones promoting strategies leading to sexual behaviour – that such sexual intercourse should remain within the parameters of couplings sanctioned by the church makes little difference to the incongruity of such a situation for the Rusean message:
A phenotype describes any observed quality of an organism, such as its morphology, development, or behaviour. In my view ethical particularism is a form of punctuated equilibria or human phenotypic plasticity.
‘Moral self-education’ is a myth. The ego learns what behaviour is likely to deliver acceptance and the desired benefits, as opposed to behaviour which is likely to invite chastisement or rejection. It is purposeful behavioural opinion-response compliance – not ‘moral concurrence.’
Jud Evans. 7 months ago
Gary Writes: My fault – I meant “eliminate” in the sense of stripping unnecessary concepts from any concept (or words from a word). “Unnecessary” in the sense of anything that can literally be divorced from anything even if it leads to a dividing down to void and atoms as in Democritus.
The confusions of trannie abstractionists does not lie in the morpho-semantic construction of such signs, but in their imagined LOCATION as being ex-carapacial (outside the skull) “things” out in the world like hermeneutic hover-flies, waiting to dart down and fill-out some pseudo-scientific sentence with usefully fictive stuffing. Such logical or illogical objects are then graced by the religious and elevated by other metaphysically challenged with a similar ontological status to real (concrete) objects, rather than existing embedded deep in the brain-meat of humans as forms networked electrochemical intagliated intelligence or glyphic glia.
Gary: This is dependent on the brain’s power to divide “something,” let’s say “being” into “being” and “non-being” in order to have verbal distinctions in the first place, i. e., this is not that or “this is” and “not that” or positive being versus negative being if you like.
Ask a question like “What is Jud Evans?,” taking away his meat from his bones, putting his parts in several different places, and then verbalizing “Where, then, is Jud?”
Jud: The subject you introduce is mereological of which I have written volumes (all out on the internet.) Lots of my stuff is variations of the original “Ship of Theseus” theme.
One of my pieces is a deconstruction of a pigeon – the other of a car sold by a notorious old greasy-bearded second-hand car-salesman called Plato – a knavish rogue, and an untrustworthy fantasist, an ousia- freak and thoroughly unreliable transcendentalist wretch.
Gary: But then you say, “Wait. We can divide even further!” and you bring out your atom smasher and cyclotron and electron microscope. No, at that point you have made matter meaningless because you are dealing with electrons, neutrons, protons which are already very shaky to call them “things” at all,
Jud: They are all objects and have mass – consult any physics book.
Gary: and then you break down those already questionable things into quarks and
Jud: Mathematical extent? Identity? No object “has” “identity” Objects are identified by human or animal identifiers. Do you honestly believe Gary that if you keep mereologically dividing objects one could do that for infinity?
Everybody knows that the metaphysics baloney is on the slippery slide to the reificative rubbish dumps – clutching at a theory of never-ending Russian Dolls is not going to save it. I am (like you) not a physicists, but soon the white-coated ones hit quantum bases-level and you will have run out of metaphysical goal-posts to move backward as science moves forward. 7 months ago • Like
Gary: The point being a] this is material reality. Democritus knew it as such simply by the possibility to divide anything infinitely and modern science has simply demonstrated that with experiments. So Democritus fundamentals of ‘atom’ and void, or being and non-being, where division provides intellectual distinction as such, and therefore grounds logic itself in its procedural technique dividing man into generic man (what any man is) as thesis, material man (Socrates) as antithesis, and the consequence of this in synthesis as a conclusion gives a ‘mortal idea’ already imbued with self-division and therefore terminal disintegration. You could say the same thing of “mankind,” then “Great Britons” then people of Sussex, the town of Middlesex, then Tom Jones, then Tom Jone’s finger, then Tom Jones atoms, then Tom Jone’s quarks – which seems silly until you realize the quarks are what are basic, and Gary Moore a mere cloud of atoms and collection of verbal attributes all in turn divisible from him till he is what he is fundamentally – nothing at all.
Jud: I am afraid you are just falling back on the stale cheese of the so-called Platonic “heteron” (opposite) We had all this out with Dr. Michael Eldred 9 or 10 years ago.
A human organism can be regarded as a whole (a holism) or multi-levelled two-way [up-down] deterministic pecking order of semi-autonomous sub-wholes, forking into sub-wholes of a lower [usually smaller] order.
Arthur Koestler’s “The Ghost in the Machine” (1967) was presented again at the Alpbach Symposium (1968) in a paper titled: “Beyond Atomism and Holism – the concept of the holon”. The “holon” represents a way to overcome the dichotomy between parts and wholes and to account for both the self-assertive and the integrative tendencies of an organism. 
I have written elsewhere of our perceptive ‘toggling’ or ‘sensorial switching’ between two modes of seeing the starry sky above. We see but a fraction of our ‘home’ galaxy – a giant revolving gaseous disc which consists of about 200 billion stars, and in one observational sweep of our eyes take in the heavens as comprising of an uncountable glittering myriad of individual stars.
Then, suddenly, spontaneously, even as our eyes wander from one bright glint to another, a stochastic event occurs which is difficult to control (although some
The complexity of ‘multiples of singular individuation’ blurs. Suddenly we see the apparent immensity as the huge, crowded silver integration we call the Milky Way, the four spiral arms of predominantly blue, reasonably young stars between a million and ten billion years old.
Not to allow this perceptual modality as Plato did is to demand that each individual be given a name and a roll-call of individuals enumerated to describe a crowd. Human bodies are composed of trillions of single cells which (relativistically) are separated at similar yawning distances from each other as the stars in the sky.
So what was Plato up to after rejecting Parmenides assertion of *the One?*
Eleatic Stranger: Strange! I should think so. See how, by his reciprocation of opposites, the many-headed Sophist has compelled us, quite against our will, to admit the existence of not-being.’
Theaetetus: Yes, indeed, I see.
‘If there is not ‘something’ in the fridge – there must be ‘nothing’ in the fridge,’ so that means there is something else in there called ‘nothing.’
This is ‘one of Plato’s most important discoveries — how otherness enables a non- being to ‘be’ in a certain way, namely, as the opposite (‘antithesis’) of something else (e. g. ’the ugly’ as the non-being of the beautiful).’(Eldred. 2007)
But NO, we do NOT see! This is an ontological red herring. If as Heidegger rightly claims; ‘Being’ does not exist’ it disposes of the Platonic notion of the reciprocation and instantiation of opposites, for if ‘being’ does not exist – its opposite ‘heteron’ or ‘other’ of *to mae on* or non-being cannot either.
Plato shows via the idea of ‘heteron’, i. e. of the ‘other’ and ‘otherness,’ that ’otherness’ is a FACET OF BEING which allows the one being to be different from the other non-being and automatically enables the ‘to mae on’ to exist. ‘Plato therefore sets out to analyse the ‘logos’ to show how otherness and therefore falsehood is possible within it. Thus it seems the logos can be both truth and lies – every ‘logos’ is a ‘logos ‘ ti peri tinos’
— every speaking is saying something about something even if it is a lie, blasphemy or a foolish error.  (Eldred. 2007)
(1) Can the three dimensional cellular objects that make up our human bodies be thought of as true objects? Yes, of course they can.
(2) Can our human bodies, composed as they are of countless smaller objects, be
(3) Are our visual experiences of *holons* different to our perception of ‘raindrops on a car windscreen,’ or paint spilled on a pavement – that is as patterns of light and dark or the re-bounded light-waves of colour as they impact the retina and are decoded by the brain? No – they are different.
One HAS to draw the ontological line in the sand somewhere which is exactly what Parmenides did
If the Milky Way (like the human body, or a heap of sand) is classed as a macro- holeronic object made up of 200 billion smaller stellar objects and their countless planets and satellites, to say nothing of the multitudinous other similarly dispersed smaller denizens of the cosmic plenum, then the Milky Way can be usefully defined as a ‘integrative entity,’ the ontic opposite of the reificational instantiation – the ‘fictionally useful linguistic entity’ – the notorious ‘universals’ like *love* and *freedom* posing as objects, but in reality being nothing more than the result of the self-referential perceptual conventions of human ideation?
Gary: Democritus even went a step further. He needed “void” as the “nothing” in which matter as atoms could move about in and have place. 7 months ago • Like
Jud: The eliminativist does not simply wish to destroy the mythic domain of metaphysics, but to help folk understand that the metaphysical Post Code or Zone Number and its actual mapping address is NOT some great Platonist emporium of heavenly forms and useful lie-signs signs which hovers like some air-borne Noah’s Arc in the sky.
Metaphysical signs and other fictive coding maps to the thinking brain-meat of every man woman and child on the planet who deals in such useful fiction depending upon the local metaphysical menu and religious frenzies in favour at the time.
The conceptualizations of metaphysics form part of the archival electrochemical printery of all human brains.
In the metaphorical meaty-movable-type system each of us acts as his own printer’s devil. How emotively hard we thump the data into its fleshy entablature controls whether the memory-data will be a short-term flyer or a long-term archived datergic document.
But enough of metaphor, as such imprintation exists in physical electrochemical format – a semiotic format that as yet (in spite having the ability to view the brain- tissue in great detail) science has not yet managed to crack the code. But the neurophysiological Rosetta Stone will be discovered.
So transfer the whole mess of Metaphysics lock, stock and falderal to the domain where it truly belongs and has resided before mankind lived caves, or even before our homo forebears sheltered in the African savannah sheltered by the blessed branches of baobab trees.