Traditional values, causes, problems, and solutionsIs the collapse of traditional values the cause of various problems in the world?

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timbrady's profile pic

Posted on

Maybe we should turn this discussion just a bit and answer the question:  if there is no external referent for our morals, then what can we realistically use?

timbrady's profile pic

Posted on

"...let's get our facts straight.  Nietzsche never stated that God is dead." Marilynn07

Try here... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_is_dead

The phrase 'God is Dead' is of course headline-grabbing. But the thinking behind it is solid enough; Nietzche foresaw the erosion of the Christian authority caused by Darwin's discovery.

Our Traditional Values are based on Traditional Science, Religion, Philosophy and Social Structures. Like it or not, we have collapsed those traditional models.

You can no longer tell society, "Sex is wrong", "Abstinence is good", "Blasphemy is immoral", "Respect authority" etc becuase these are less and less relevant to the modern world.

Constructing society's morals with Christian codes is an out-dated concept. It won't work. Too many people reject the authority of the Church. I refuse to adhere to religious morals. If I want to have sex with someone I like, then I will. Claiming God is upset is just too bad. I don't care if God is upset.

In fact, its God's followers who are upset, not God. Beware anyone who gets angry on God's behalf or acts as God's moral bulldog. Most of the time their own private life fails to meet the standards they demand of others. It is a telling fact that many aggressive defenders of old fashioned values get caught in massively hypocritical scandals.  Click below for a long and hysterical list of examples.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_evangelist_scandals

  There are a lot of generalizations and ad hominem arguments here.  It is also an argument toward moral relativism ... "these are less and less relevant to the modern world" ... what makes them relevant?  Their inconvenience?  Is it the average behavior that makes something moral?  The statement "If I want to have sex with someone I like, then I will" doesn't make something moral, even for yourself.  It denies the existence of moral actions because you define it by what you want ... so if you want to steal something, is that OK because you say it is or you want to?

And who cares about the small minority of religious people who have violated their principles?  Most of them have NOT and have lived what traditionalists would call good lives ... arguing from the particular to the general doesn't help your case.

Which is not to say that I am arguing for traditional values, although I think most of them have a history that predates Christianity (which seems to be the whipping boy here) and they will probably continue to exist in some form for a long time to come ....  I think we need to be open to reconsidering values, but not rejecting them out of hand because "God is dead" --- which is open to many interpretations.

marilynn07's profile pic

Posted on

There seems to be a segment here equating "traditional values" with one religion, Christianity, which apparently some of you see as the only "good" values and others see as outdated or which they simply don't like.  "Traditional" values and societies predate Christianity by thousands of years.  Both groups are proving my point- we need to think about personal values and standards, not personal opinions or prejudices for or against a particular religion.  I don't see anything about the original question that refers to Christianity, or Islam, or Vedanta, or any religious ideology.  Why does one have to have a specific "god" (or none) to have personal standards of behavior?

For instance, the "thou shall not kill, commit adultery, etc." list.  Well, if you think about it, stealing, killing, scewing around with your neighbor's significant others, etc. are all things that will almost certainly cause you and those around you serious problems.  The point is that doing things that are practically guaranteed to cause you trouble is not the smartest thing to do.  Abstaining from those particular type of things shows respect for yourself and your fellow humans, and minimizes problems in your life.  Maybe we should say "positive and negative" instead of "right and wrong", but the terminology does not change the cause and effect relationship.

As far as hypocracy goes, it doesn't seem to matter what religion (or none at all) which people espouse.  I'm sure we could find a list of rabbis or imams or gurus or atheists just as long if we looked around- it's human nature to want what we want, regardless of the consequences.  One of the most common "traditional" values throughout history in all cultures has been self-discipline, and hypocracy has been just as common throughout history as a personal failure.  Again, personal behavior and respect for oneself and those around is what "values" are about.  Because no one defined "traditional values" to start with, this discussion has been mostly about nothing but personal opinions and prejudices, and therefore meaningless.

marilynn07's profile pic

Posted on

If we're going to continually refer to Nietzsche here, let's get our facts straight.  Nietzsche never stated that God is dead.  "Thus Spake Zarathustra" is a work of fiction, written to explicate a series of philosophical constructs which the author was mulling over.  In this book, one fictional character says to another, "Your God is dead."  In other words, character A says to character B that B's concept of diety is (in A's opinion) outmoded.  There is never a statement made that there is no "god" or what "god" might or might not be like.  There is never any indication that the opinion of a character may or may not be actual reality.

Let's remember here, people who write are trying to convince the reader of something, whether the writing is an essay, a novel, or anything else.  Even works of history may contain opinions or viewpoints that are mistaken or incorrect, much less a work of philosophy (which is basically just throwing out ideas and developing them) or a work of fiction.

If there was no "god" then it never died.  If there is a "god", our philosophies are probably irrelevant to its nature.  This thread is not about "religious" values, but "traditional" ones.  These are different words and mean different things.  Let's try to be precise in our thinking.  The very first post was the most applicable; the term "traditional" needs to be defined before we can do anything more than pontificate on our own opinions.  What we most need to do is think seriously about what we read and imagine, about what we see and experience.  Blindly accepting any philosophy or idea is foolish and potentially dangerous.  That is how we end up with things like, oh, the Nazis, racism, unnecessary wars, the election of foolish leaders (which the world has seen a lot of in the past 150 years), etc.

timbrady's profile pic

Posted on

to jillyfish:  why do you see Nietzche's performance as having absolute truth here?  Nietzche was just a person with lots of his own problems.  Many people have scoured the universe and not found God; other who have scoured have.  I'm still looking.  Instead of signing on with the few people you mention (there are lots of others) who haven't found God, I suggest we all keep looking, and that we redefine the idea of God (as discussed in earlier post) so we have a better understanding of the possibilities.

I have grave doubts about "secular humanism."  I don't know what it means (but I'll be looking for your post), and don't know how we will ever come to a common understanding of morality ... we haven't done so well thus far.

Anyway, let's see where this discussion goes ...

marilynn07's profile pic

Posted on

Let's simplify this question and get away from specific ideas that we may or may not ever agree on.  What exactly do we mean by "traditional" values?  The traditional values of the Pathan tribe in Afghanistan are fine in their place, but forceably applied to others by the Taliban government caused no end of problems in their country.  Same for ultra-extreme Muslims, extremist so-called Christians, ultra-orthodox Jews agitating in Isreal, etc.  Let's just look at the basics of values that most societies in history have espoused.  We have already identified, "family" as one, which seems pretty ingrained in human beings.  If you have a child, you will understand how basic this one is.  Then there is "spiritual belief"- let's leave out the word "religion" since religions are theories about the concepts of "god" and "mankind" and "the universe."  Our society in America is in a series of struggles about this- gay marriage, abortion, etc.  The world is aflame with these issues- a misunderstanding of jihad espoused by some Muslims being one example, the ultra-Orthodox pushing their society toward more trouble with Palestinians, etc.  Even "New Agers" that think "traditional religions" should be done away with because of some of these problems.  I believe the root problem is more that people become overly sensitive about what they like and want instead of looking at what the "traditional beliefs" are really about- love of family, respect for others, respect for "god" and self.  These things have not gone away, but they have been obfuscated by economic pressures, by the personal and political ambitions of various self-appointed spokespersons and religious and political personages who will twist anything to fit their ambitions.  Traditional values are not disappearing- they are being twisted into unrecognizable shape by religious, political and economic forces.  Unthinking people refusing to look and think about what these values really are, and what they really mean in a personal and social way, are simply pawns in the hands of those forces.  The world appears to be falling apart because we respond to pressure and allow those pressures to tear us apart, instead of using our minds to think about how to get along with one another using these values in positive and productive ways.  The traditional values I find most in short supply these days is RESPONSIBILITY, and respect for the differing views of others.

engtchr5's profile pic

Posted on

And now back to the topic at hand:

Traditional, as a word, is an adjective. The problem with adjectives is that they lack precision. Think about it: how do you measure or calculate using concepts like "big, ugly, pretty, fast, smelly," etc.? Not to be repetitious, but if the tradition from which the values were extracted could be pinpointed, people would better be able to address this topic.

Values, on the other hand, is a plural noun in this case. Again, however, the word is a vague idea. If we are talking about traditional cannibalist values, that prospect is entirely different from discussing traditional Christian values of the early 20th century. Specifics would greatly improve the quality of this discussion. As it is, one might conclude we have a series of posts comprised of grandly-written speculations.

timbrady's profile pic

Posted on

Phew.  Although I fully understand the post in #9, and have spent time studying the text referred to, I think it would be helpful to treat Neitzche with the same skepticism that he treats the existence of God.  It is impossible to prove that God exists or does not exist; if it could be proven, we would all agree.

I think that this is a language problem.  If by "God" you mean the definition of God in a particular time and place, then it is probably correct.  Our understanding of God is often pegged to a time and place (eg. thinking of God as some kind of a King), and this understanding must change as our consciousness grows/evolves. What we have killed is an outdated understanding of God; either God existed once and will always (time words don't really work with God, but it's what we have), or he/she (again, the failure of words) never did because we can't kill a spirit.

Most of the individuals mentioned in the post are not traditionalists; they are radicals.  I think it's unfair to put Bush in with Bin Laden, probably because there is no agreement with his politics.  There are many traditionalist who have never caused any problems for anyone.

In some ways, I agree with the post, but that's because of my vision of God.  I believe that God has given us the world to "redeem." I don't know if there is a plan we have been given for this; I think we have been given intelligence to work it out.

The problem of having no external referent to truth is that it tends to become totally subjective.  Without an external referent, how do we establsih moral standards for all of us/most of us?

 

timbrady's profile pic

Posted on

Answer #4 is a good example of one of the difficulties with "traditional values." Throughout history, "tradition" has certainly been used to preserve positive social structures. But it has also been used to prolong discriminatory thinking rooted in self-interest, fear or ignorance.

Of course, children benefit from being raised in a secure and loving setting. However, to suggest that only a monogamous one woman/one man relationship can provide that secure and loving setting is unfounded and dangerous.

How many religious one man/one woman families do you know that are too busy to give the children the support they need , or that are downright toxic environments? How about gay couples who provide a loving home in which the children thrive? What about a grandparent or other caring person raising children with love, or even communal environments which offer enriching opportunities for children to grow?

The key, I think, is to be able to look critically at the qualities that a society needs to thrive, without getting bogged down in what we are used to.

  The problem with this position is that, in my experience, it tends to lead to just about anything --- and the development of values tends to be tied to political positions/agendas.  Although I hate to mention the most controversial of topics, let's look at abortion.  For decades it was murder; one day, a few people voted, and it was OK.  What change in values made this possible?  The argument states that it is a woman's right to control her body.  The real issue, it seems to me, is whether you are ending a human life ... and we have never bothered to answer that problem; it seems to have been conveniently ignored.  "Abortion" has lead to "late term abortion" which, in my value system, is just murder.  Many of you will disagree with my values in this regard, but that points to the real problem:  if tradition is not the source of our values (and I do not think that it is in all cases), then what will replace it?  How will we "look critically at the qualities that a society needs to thrive" when there is little possibility that we will ever agree on these?  When one person calls another person's values "dangerous," how do we get past that?

What do you think?

cburr's profile pic

Posted on

Answer #4 is a good example of one of the difficulties with "traditional values." Throughout history, "tradition" has certainly been used to preserve positive social structures. But it has also been used to prolong discriminatory thinking rooted in self-interest, fear or ignorance.

Of course, children benefit from being raised in a secure and loving setting. However, to suggest that only a monogamous one woman/one man relationship can provide that secure and loving setting is unfounded and dangerous.

How many religious one man/one woman families do you know that are too busy to give the children the support they need , or that are downright toxic environments? How about gay couples who provide a loving home in which the children thrive? What about a grandparent or other caring person raising children with love, or even communal environments which offer enriching opportunities for children to grow?

The key, I think, is to be able to look critically at the qualities that a society needs to thrive, without getting bogged down in what we are used to.

enotechris's profile pic

Posted on

The supposition that traditional values (however defined) have collapsed is erroneous.  The conclusion that such value collapse is the cause of problems in the world is unfounded.  As others have stated, be precise in your meanings to have a meaningful exploration of your question.

amy-lepore's profile pic

Posted on

I agree with #3.  There are certain values that have gone to the wayside and are the center of argument like Religion/Faith as stated above.  I also think the value of marriage defined as one man and one woman is being threatened, which throws a wrench in the works of "tradition" and what the original plan was and still is.  Otherwise, procreation (another "tradition" embedded in humanity and supported by religion/faith as a beautiful thing when in a secure, monogamous relationship between one woman and one man) is null and void as well. 

timbrady's profile pic

Posted on

I would like to see you reframe this question to something like "Which traditional values are important to the continuation of society as we now have it?"  Problems may be an important impetus to change/improvement, and these may require a realignment of values.

But there are some values that I feel are necessary to maintain.  I think family is one of these values.  Hard work is another.  Religion/Faith (not "a" Religion, but the values in them) is yet another.  After all, if there are no long term values, how do we make long term decisions?

What do others think?

gbeatty's profile pic

Posted on

To suggest that the collapse of traditional values is the cause of many problems in the world today doesn't get us very far. By that I mean, what do you mean by "traditional"? Do you mean the values of the hunter gatherer tribes who were displaced by agricultural cultures? The values of the ancient Greeks who valued glory so highly that Achilles might be considered within his rights to step away from battle in the Iliad because his pride had been shamed? The values of pre-Civil War America, which included slavery?

In other words, to discuss this question usefully, you'd need to define "tradition" and "value." You'd also have to show that a change in values is the same as a collapse in values. Does the contemporary world value physical labor less because we have machines to do it for us?

There are organizations dedicated to traditional values, and some of them show the difficulty involved in this discussion. Take The Traditional Values Coalition (http://www.traditionalvalues.org). It defines traditional values, but does so selectively.

 

frizzyperm's profile pic

Posted on

"...let's get our facts straight.  Nietzsche never stated that God is dead." Marilynn07

Try here... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_is_dead

The phrase 'God is Dead' is of course headline-grabbing. But the thinking behind it is solid enough; Nietzche foresaw the erosion of the Christian authority caused by Darwin's discovery.

Our Traditional Values are based on Traditional Science, Religion, Philosophy and Social Structures. Like it or not, we have collapsed those traditional models.

You can no longer tell society, "Sex is wrong", "Abstinence is good", "Blasphemy is immoral", "Respect authority" etc becuase these are less and less relevant to the modern world.

Constructing society's morals with Christian codes is an out-dated concept. It won't work. Too many people reject the authority of the Church. I refuse to adhere to religious morals. If I want to have sex with someone I like, then I will. Claiming God is upset is just too bad. I don't care if God is upset.

In fact, its God's followers who are upset, not God. Beware anyone who gets angry on God's behalf or acts as God's moral bulldog. Most of the time their own private life fails to meet the standards they demand of others. It is a telling fact that many aggressive defenders of old fashioned values get caught in massively hypocritical scandals.  Click below for a long and hysterical list of examples.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_evangelist_scandals

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