Author Topic: "Alignments"  (Read 2358 times)

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December 30, 2011, 04:25:47 PM
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Saedrenel

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Purity vs. Corruption
Good vs. Evil
Lawful vs. Chaotic
Light vs. Dark

I start with this. I would like to hear everyone's opinion of how to define these four oppositions, and how each is defined differently than the next. The final is presented as defined opposites, but may be applied to the other three with interesting results. I'm hoping for a broad number of different views on this subject

Have fun with it ^_^

(If I'm on the wrong board please let me know, I just recently joined the site)
« Last Edit: December 30, 2011, 04:31:05 PM by Saedrenel »

December 31, 2011, 09:20:11 AM
Reply #1

Iatros

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In my opinion, the listed terms work great for Fable and Black & White "alignment" sliders but are very difficult to actually apply to the real world. Everything depends on present circumstance and even, in some traditions, past karma or future destiny. If I still wanted to work with all those dichotomies, that would really throw a wrench into figuring out whether what I was doing was X or Y, because I'd have to take into account not only what led me to do Z, what I was personally planning to accomplish with Z, to what extent Z was the result of my choices or rather a "lesson" hardwired into my life experience, and to what extent Z might serve a purpose in a future which either was predestined for me or which I set as a destination for myself prior to my current memory's beginning.

I don't mean to assert the existence of either karma or predestination, but the concepts are good at illustrating exactly how complicated all this can become from a "spiritual" perspective.

But personally I think that's all too complicated. We are 1) looking at a vastly complex system of countless interactions and 2) trying to approach that system from a macroscopic system. Therefore instead of analyzing the water molecules of morality, it seems more logical to realize that we're looking at an ocean, and simply try to figure out which way the tide is flowing. The primeval "Good" is the natural order of things, and so if that natural order can be ascertained, it can be aligned with.

But now I've reached the point where I have absolutely no workable analogy for what I'm talking about, so I'm just going to go meditate and try to be a good person now. Peace, and welcome to Veritas.
"And in this lies my honour and my reward, - / That whenever I come to the fountain to drink I find the living water itself thirsty; / And it drinks me while I drink it." - Almustafa

December 31, 2011, 09:46:49 AM
Reply #2

Faijer

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As a writer, I loathe these kinds of simple-minded dichotomies that infest western culture and media.

The first is incorrectly phrased, because purity does not refer to a humble or kind spirit but a single-minded one. Even assuming a colloquial meaning, the dichotomy is relatively meaningless because so few people can be said to exclusively belong to one or the other. There is also a problem of whose criteria you are using to judge whether a person is pure or corrupt, what actions or even thoughts qualify as pure or corrupt, and whether a person who is isolated from circumstances that would lead to corruption can even be called pure (I assume that resisting temptation doesn't make one pure, because surely to be pure one should not have the temptation to begin with).

I hold that the second is fictional. A hyperbole used by writers of all genres, from fiction to journalism, to conjure up and evoke a schema we all have (varied in its specifics though it may be) for the furthering of the writers' agenda. The world we experience day-to-day is not so easy to colour-code when the actions of the individuals are not at the extreme end of the scale or consistent, and it is easier to apply the terms good and evil when you have limited information about the person (the less you know of their motivations, desires, circumstances, etc, the less you can sympathise).

The third is as meaningless as the first, but more because there are few people who ever epitomise either the truly lawful or the truly chaotic when you consider the sheer volume of actual and possible laws. Being codified expressions of ethical desires, prohibitions, and duties of their given society, they are subject to a wide variety of possible interpretations both internally and externally. What of a person who is lawful in their own country but ignorant in another and concordantly labelled chaotic? Which is he?

The fourth is similar to the second, but phrased using the flowery fantasy terminology that Lucas commandeered and pitted against one another. Because it is vague as to which is good and evil though, what each of them consists of is left up to the author. This often leads to a projection of the author's considerations of life, becoming little more than a dichotomy between their ideal self and its antithesis; a fear of the dark normally resulting in the latter being the dark side, that which we fear being consumed by. This can have some universal translation if the qualities chosen for each are vague enough to work like the Forer effect, and translate to things that, upon consideration, probably are desirable or undesirable.

Which leads to the final conclusion that most people I know come to, in that these so-called dichotomies don't really exist as a dichotomy but merely expressions of the extremes of a greyscale. Being one or the other is our choice, and neither is intrinsically more desirable than the other.
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January 01, 2012, 04:07:06 AM
Reply #3

kobok

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Welcome.  :)

Most of the great evils that are committed have some "good intention" at their heart.

When Bush gave orders that led to torture of suspects from Iraq who were handed over by neighbors seeking a payday, the end result was pretty clearly evil.  But the "alignment" of the initial decision?  It was not done with evil intention, but out of a terrible ignorance about how to make things better, combined with a strong preference for trying to help similar people at the expense of people who are more different.  These don't fit into your scale, and neither do most actions.  Most people do what they think they should do based on what they think is important, even most of the people who are responsible for great evil.

If you want to judge the morality of actions, judge the effects and then judge the fullness of the intention.  What makes an action like Bush's orders "evil" is not the part he WAS focused on, his desire to do anything to try to help people similar to him, but the part he was aware of but chose to ignore, the suffering of the people he was impacting.  Thus, you can't really determine an "alignment" for such actions, because these approaches to alignment assume that things like an "evil alignment" are out of a deep desire or pleasure for doing harm.  Such psychoses are extremely rare, and far more rare than evil actions.  Instead, most evil in the world is due to a lack of concern for a consequence while focusing on another perceived outcome.

Most of the others fall into a situation.  Purity vs corruption is simply concern for the greater good vs concern for the self, which is a sliding scale and changes for different subjects.

Thus, instead of these arbitrary divisions, try to evaluate what people value or consider most important, and how those particular values affect their motivations and choices.
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January 01, 2012, 05:33:10 PM
Reply #4

Saedrenel

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I can tell I'm going to like it here.

Thank you for your thoughts and welcomes  :)

January 01, 2012, 11:14:52 PM
Reply #5

Steve

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I wasn't going to reply until I read Faijer's reply, and I thought "some of what he says sounds so wrong" :P So I decided I will post my views on them.

1) Purity, as Faijer said, is a single-ness of something, without mixture. It is H without the O, it is Warmth without Light or Consumption. It is a single thing existing purely by itself. Corruption occurs when other things seep in and mix with the single-ness. When warmth gives off light via consumption, when H mixes with O to become H2O, etc. These mixtures of themselves are not necessarily a bad thing (unless viewed purely from the view of Purity=Good), as there are many great things that are obtained, created, achieved by mixing things together. The term corruption, however,  carries a negative connotation towards it, to the point where it makes a person consider the idea of a mixture to the point of losing the essence of the original parts (ie, losing innocence to experience), or having a *useless* aspect mixed in to the pure thing (ie, adding rust to metal).

2) As I've stated many other times in many other places, my concept of Good is generally along the lines of helping others especially at the cost of self, and Evil is generally along the lines of hurting others especially at the benefit of self. In this manner, these events of helping and hurting do occur in the real world, so saying that "good and evil don't exist" would be either wrong or reclassification of the definitions of good and evil to simply define them as being non-existent.

3) Lawful vs Chaotic is, from my point of view, a dichotamy typically seen in Dungeons and Dragons, whereby Lawful is defined as obeying human Laws as established by governing authorities, and Chaotic is defined as the opposite where a person simply sticks to their own personal values/beliefs especially when they come into conflict with established societal rules. These concepts are sometimes taken to a broader sense where they are applied against the Universe at large, but the concepts don't readily follow the examples set by Reality as reality is governed by Laws first and foremost, with "chaos" being merely specific instances of very small-scale Laws coming into effect and then going out of effect very fast and humans taking one instance out whenever they feel like it and trying to establish further "rules" or obligations based on this single specific instance of a chosen multi-variable event (or, if someone wants to word that better, I'm a bit inebriated :P)

4) "Light" is the phenomenon of photons bouncing off of an object and into a creature's eyeball. Dark is the lack of this phenomenon. Dark is the default, and Light is something that occurs to overcome the default within specific parameters of existence.

~Steve
Mastery does not occur when you've performed a feat once or twice. Instead, it comes after years of training, when you realize that you no longer notice when you're performing a feat which used to require so much effort. Even walking takes years of training for a human: why not everything else?

January 02, 2012, 02:20:42 AM
Reply #6

Faijer

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1) An interesting, albeit slightly oblique chemistry analogy. Get's the simply point across, but I wonder how far the rabbit hole goes.

2) Interesting that you say "you[r] concept" and then assume it to be the truth, and further to that you say that any alternative would either be wrong or a reclassification. At any rate we've had this debate before, so I won't get into it again; suffice it to say that you will have to agree to disagree as I have done.

3) The point on reality is kind of moot, because it has little bearing on the rather obvious conception of lawful and chaotic intended (based on the context it is presented in). In fact, this is a borderline straw man (borderline because you are drunk, and you might not want to drink with a straw).

4) This isn't really a refutation of the dichotomy of light and dark as presented in the OP, simply pointing out that there is another phenomena that uses the terms (the one to whit the OP is based upon, I might add).
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January 02, 2012, 05:43:01 AM
Reply #7

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Purity vs. Corruption
Good vs. Evil
Lawful vs. Chaotic
Light vs. Dark

I start with this. I would like to hear everyone's opinion of how to define these four oppositions, and how each is defined differently than the next. The final is presented as defined opposites, but may be applied to the other three with interesting results. I'm hoping for a broad number of different views on this subject

Have fun with it ^_^

(If I'm on the wrong board please let me know, I just recently joined the site)

Oppositions are always funny. Look at ice and fire. Ice can extinguish the fire and fire can melt the ice. If we have -1 and 1 as opposites and we combine them, we get 0, these opposites negated each other.

This sounds like opposites negate each other and the same could be applied to good/evil, dark/light, black/white, but in fact these opposites don't negate each other, they co-exist, so either opposites are not always same or these are simply opposites just by definition and in fact are just other sides of same coin.

Look at chaos: chaos is something chaotic, something we don't understand, but there still has to be some static order, we just don't see it.
Karma can appear to be evil to us, but in fact it is supposed to be for our good (good/evil) in a long run.

white and black makes grey, but dark and light doesn't make semi-light, darkness disappears when light appears and it also works the other way around.

Purity and Corruption are just words where more definition is needed. How do you see purity and how do you see corruption?

January 02, 2012, 08:37:55 AM
Reply #8

Chaon

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I think that they are all interconnected. For a person to define any of them they would have to use their beliefs and experiences. In that sense, the meanings would shift for each person. This doesn't mean that I completely support the theory of "everyone's truth is real truth", but it does mean that like the many cultures of our planet are varied, there is just as much variations for these.

I don't think that the variation should make them moot and therefore be disregarded however. But I do believe that everyone should do what they can to create a peaceful society, and so, should do their best to support the more positive terms.
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I am fairly certain that I haven't found truth... But what I did find is maybe far more interesting.

January 02, 2012, 11:53:46 AM
Reply #9

Steve

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Faijer: Not so much a rabbit hole as an attempted commentary on the concepts and definitions of purity, corruption, and mixtures. Perhaps I need to explain it a bit more. One example used the purity of Hydrogen and Oxygen as distinct elements, then mixed them together to get H2O, which I think most people would be hard pressed to see as a "corruption" of either hydrogen or oxygen. The second example was of a hermetic quality, where it is the admixture of pure concepts in order to create a more complex, but none-the-less accurate, concept of fire by adding warmth and light and consumption all to the mix, as fire is not merely made up of one of those elements. And then the third example of rust on metal was the only example of corruption that I gave, as even though it is a chemical process quite similar to adding oxygen to hydrogen in order to get water, the process of adding oxygen and moisture to metal in order to get rust, most people generally consider rust to be a corruption solely on the grounds that it turns something useful into something un-useful at a time when people still want the first thing. If you go ahead and give some other examples of corruption, on any level whether the physical or mental or spiritual, I think anyone would be hard pressed to try and show a pure "substance" corrupting itself, in the absence of another "substance" being applied to it. Thus, even if you want to take this to the mental level of purity = innocence, it is usually something along the lines of knowledge/experience which is added to the innocence in order to "corrupt" it away from innocence.

Quote
Interesting that you say "you[r] concept" and then assume it to be the truth, and further to that you say that any alternative would either be wrong or a reclassification.
Yes, it is the start of brainwashing ;) On the other hand, events where people hurt one another or help one another DO factually occur, so trying to define good and evil in terms where they somehow don't exist, especially when the terms good and evil are used to point to real-world instances of such events, is rather fallacious. There may be no clear-cut definition to idealistically categorize each and every single event into one side or the other, or classify how much good and how much evil is present within each event, but there are some events of such grand magnitude towards good or evil that nearly everyone in the world can point to them and say "hitler killed six million jews: that's Evil" and "tons of volunteers helped sort through the collapsed WTC towers in the hopes of finding humans who could be rescued, even though some volunteers own health were damaged as a result: that's Good".

And 3 isn't moot. I may have been a bit out of it, but I still stand by my statements. The second portion of it, pertaining to the universe, is rather poorly worded but I just don't know yet how to properly word the concept, but the second portion was just an addition anyway. My real views of law and chaos pertain almost entirely within the context of human society, as I wrote in the first portion.

And for light vs dark, I don't accept the conceptualization of it because the conceptualization of it simply points people back to other overgeneralized "this vs that" concepts such as good vs evil or law vs chaos. So, I instead just went with realistic definitions for light and dark; if anyone wants to draw metaphorical analogies from that, then I would suggest not to ^_^ (I'd do the same thing for the "white vs black" scenario, as white and black are just colours and any "deeper" meanings that get attached to them are attached based on whoever's using the concept to try and mean whatever they want it to)

~Steve
« Last Edit: January 02, 2012, 11:57:23 AM by Steve »
Mastery does not occur when you've performed a feat once or twice. Instead, it comes after years of training, when you realize that you no longer notice when you're performing a feat which used to require so much effort. Even walking takes years of training for a human: why not everything else?

January 02, 2012, 01:31:50 PM
Reply #10

Faijer

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Quote from: Steve
On the other hand, events where people hurt one another or help one another DO factually occur, so trying to define good and evil in terms where they somehow don't exist, especially when the terms good and evil are used to point to real-world instances of such events, is rather fallacious.
There's a difference between fiction and non-existent. I never said they didn't exist. I have merely said exactly what I said in the previous debate about the issue because it was relevant. The points of the previous debate, which I'll point out went unresolved as it fizzled and died (most likely because both sides could no longer be bothered), still stand as you have not refuted only disagreed with them. However, I said that I don't really care to get into it again because, you know, it's all over in the other thread already.

Quote from: Steve
And for light vs dark...
You're not disagreeing with me. My original post said exactly that. By analogy, my point was that if I said "there's a new sky above Australia that is orange", then you cannot refute it by saying "orange is the colour of a fruit".
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January 02, 2012, 10:34:45 PM
Reply #11

Saedrenel

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My own personal beliefs on the four things I listed in the OP, are as follows. (To be noted, using versus was probably not the best phrasing, but no matter)

I believe all four balances exist fully. No human can totally be on either extreme, but will generally be closer to one or the other. The paradox of the "true neutral" is unachievable realistically, as the scales are used as tendencies.
Purity and corruption are both totally mortal and human, and not of concern further than that. Both, nonetheless, exist, and define the means to an action. How one does something. Evil may lead to corruption and good may lead to purity, but this is not predictable. Goodness will tend to reside lengthy amounts of time in a soul, and evil may as well, which may be changed through cycles of rebirth and various experiences that shape the soul.
Good and evil branch a little more into the realm of the soul and the spiritual. These define the intentions to an action. Why one does something.
Law and Chaos, in my honest opinion, is the eternal balance. It is a balance that was created when something known rose from the unknown. Law is truth. Chaos, however, is not lie. Chaos is chaos, and is always to be defined as enigmatic and undefined, whereas law is defined in and of itself.
Light and Darkness. This is one gets rather lengthy, as it is first to be noted that light is commonly aligned with law, while darkness is generally aligned with chaos. My reasons for this are simple, as it is possible to be one who prefers the light while being and evil soul, and one who prefers the darkness while being a good soul. This lies in the flexible mechanic of good and evil, but an inflexible nature of chaos and law. I am in no way suggesting everyone chooses either light or darkness, as some rather enjoy both, and see their natural balance as refreshing. The ones who do prefer one or the other, however, may be affected to a certain degree by the nature of each, I will use the terminology, "Element".

I'll save more of the light and dark for a thread later  :wink:

January 02, 2012, 10:35:42 PM
Reply #12

Steve

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I'm not getting into an argument with you, Faijer. I'm explaining my points.

~Steve
Mastery does not occur when you've performed a feat once or twice. Instead, it comes after years of training, when you realize that you no longer notice when you're performing a feat which used to require so much effort. Even walking takes years of training for a human: why not everything else?