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#41302 - 08/02/10 04:31 PM "The Moral Naturalists": Satanic morality

Registered: 07/04/10
Posts: 61

Where does our sense of right and wrong come from? Most people think it is a gift from God, who revealed His laws and elevates us with His love. A smaller number think that we figure the rules out for ourselves, using our capacity to reason and choosing a philosophical system to live by.

Moral naturalists, on the other hand, believe that we have moral sentiments that have emerged from a long history of relationships. To learn about morality, you donít rely upon revelation or metaphysics; you observe people as they live.

David Brooks, "The Moral Naturalists," New York Times (July 22, 2010

I found this to be really interesting, as we have a secular American conservative of Jewish heritage who speaks highly of many aspects of Christianity, but he's talking about the type of morality that's the antithesis of Christian/liberal morality.

In Christian morality, God provides an inherent moral focus. You don't murder your neighbor because God says it's wrong, and God is from a perfect world and is always right (dualism or neo-Platonism). The secular version of Christianity, which we call liberalism, holds that all people are equal (egalitarianism, Christian roots of) and that this equality of people is the source of all morality.

Natural morality, on the other hand, is what you imagine a scientist, farmer or naturalist would come up with: watch people, observe behaviors and their consequences, and from that derive an optimized standard of behavior or "morality." Under this morality, you avoid murdering your neighbor because it will have negative consequences for the individual, society and (indirectly) the environment.

This jives with what transcendental idealists believe, which is that all of our knowledge of the world is subjective, and that we make decisions based on our abilities, our innate inclinations, and our decisions about what produces the best consequences.


Transcendental idealism is a doctrine founded by German philosopher Immanuel Kant in the eighteenth century. Kant's doctrine maintains that human experience of things is similar to the way they appear to us ó implying a fundamentally subject-based component, rather than being an activity that directly (and therefore without any obvious causal link) comprehends the things as they are in and of themselves.

I've paraphrased the parts of that quotation that are important to my argument in the paragraph above it; we can unpack the implications in the history of philosophical argument later.

Of course, this form of morality has a major disadvantage: it's unequal. When we assume morality comes from God, we feel just fine enforcing it on everyone because we assume morality is inherent. With a morality of egalitarianism, it's easy for just about anyone short of a sociopath or criminal to figure out how to apply it. But when we say morality is subjective, that throws us into difficult ground.

First, intelligence is unequally distributed (although distributed in a mathematically derived pattern). This means that some people are going to perceive more than others, and in the case of morality, it means they're going to be several moves ahead of the others -- like a good chess player -- and so see consequences of some actions that would cause them to morally intervene. For example, to many of us the guy storing toxic waste in a barrel in his basement is probably OK; to a smarter person, it might become clear that if the guy thinks that hackjob of a storage is OK, he'll both end up in a hospital with cancer and be inclined to dump the toxic waste in a river, lake or forest.

Second, as the Dunning-Kruger effect tells us, people who are less capable think they are more capable, and believe that more capable people are wrong, when in fact the roles are usually reversed. This means that the smarter people, who are best able to perceive moral decisions, will be opposed by the majority (see the Normal Distribution link above) who do not see as far "ahead" in consequences as they do.

Satanic morality comes in two types: with most Satanist organizations, it is based on the subjective whim of the individual; with the Order of Nine Angles or Ragnar Redbeard, it's based in the subjective assessment of the individual as to what will have the best long-term consequences. The assessment based on long-term consequences is what puts Satanic morality in the same category as moral naturalists, who as said above:


For people wary of abstract theorizing, itís nice to see people investigating morality in ways that are concrete and empirical. But their approach does have certain implicit tendencies.

They emphasize group cohesion over individual dissent. They emphasize the cooperative virtues, like empathy, over the competitive virtues, like the thirst for recognition and superiority. At this conference, they barely mentioned the yearning for transcendence and the sacred, which plays such a major role in every human society.

I find this quite fascinating, and hope you do as well.
SC / O9A

#41871 - 08/12/10 06:54 PM Re: "The Moral Naturalists": Satanic morality [Re: SODOMIZER]
Lamar Offline

Registered: 02/03/10
Posts: 226
Loc: Alabama
From the looks of it I am in favour of transcendental idealism. Morals, just as treasure or garbage, can be important to one and a burden to another.
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