NY Times Op-Ed on Moral Relativism - Page 5 - U2 Feedback

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Old 09-21-2011, 06:48 PM   #61
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I'd say an outright majority of liberals of 'baby boomer' age I know are quite strongly of the opinion that the generations born after theirs ('X' just as much as 'Y') are on the whole much more politically apathetic than they were and are. It would definitely take a hefty tome to lay out empirical evidence for that view (and to justify why such-and-such measure should even qualify as evidence, how the historical contexts are and aren't comparable, etc.), but that in itself doesn't convince me it's wrong. You have not had this experience?


i remember sitting on a panel in college with several students and a Dean, and we were answering questions from an alumni group. they were concerned that we students at the dawn of the 21st century weren't protesting like they were (this was pre-Bush, pre-Iraq, post-Lewinsky) back in the 1960s. they found this a bad thing.

i was surprised when the Dean said, much to his credit, that he always found himself having to defend "students today" to people his own age. the golden age of protests, or at least obvious engagement, was the 1960s, it's true. but "students today" were noted for vastly higher rates of volunteerism in any number of areas. so rather than yelling about something as a public sign of your engagement, kids today were actually out building houses, tutoring students, visiting nursing homes, etc. they were actually being the change they wished to see in the world, as opposed to their SDS parents who had a big, obvious enemy to yell about.

what were we going to yell about? Kosovo?

you're right in that it's hard to prove these things one way or the next, but simply because you're not convinced that there's more apathy today, to me, speaks more to the historical context that people grow up in and what is seen as worthy engagement for that particular time.
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Old 09-21-2011, 08:33 PM   #62
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always let your conscience be your guide.
Are you making fun of what I said?
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Old 09-21-2011, 09:03 PM   #63
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i remember sitting on a panel in college with several students and a Dean, and we were answering questions from an alumni group. they were concerned that we students at the dawn of the 21st century weren't protesting like they were (this was pre-Bush, pre-Iraq, post-Lewinsky) back in the 1960s. they found this a bad thing.

i was surprised when the Dean said, much to his credit, that he always found himself having to defend "students today" to people his own age. the golden age of protests, or at least obvious engagement, was the 1960s, it's true. but "students today" were noted for vastly higher rates of volunteerism in any number of areas. so rather than yelling about something as a public sign of your engagement, kids today were actually out building houses, tutoring students, visiting nursing homes, etc. they were actually being the change they wished to see in the world, as opposed to their SDS parents who had a big, obvious enemy to yell about.

what were we going to yell about? Kosovo?
Did we yell as much as they would have about Iraq, though? Guantanamo? Patriot Act? Wall Street? I don't have an answer, though I'd like to.

I have lots of college memories like yours, but with reference to the thread one that stands out in my mind is reading Rorty's Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity in a 200-level philosophy class. The professor was very much a "60s radical" to make INDY's lips curl and his skin crawl (grizzled, slouchy-nerdy JuBu full of wryly self-deprecating stories about his youthful misadventures...my favorite involved the time a girl he was in love with wheedled him into accompanying her to Maharishi Mahish Yogi's ashram for some sadly ill-fated 'yogic flying' courses...but I digress). Anyway, he was completely enamored of Rorty's case that metaphysics is dead and with it the categories we've historically employed to dehumanize and persecute others, that the future lies in acknowledging and embracing the radical contingency of the belief systems we inherit and finding in that a renewed solidarity through opposition to cruelty. But there was a total generational disconnect in that classroom, because while he saw in it this exhilarating liberatory pedagogy, we all more or less just shrugged, because to us Rorty was simply describing, you know, reality. I mean that's an oversimplification of how it actually played out, but that was the gist of it. And it seemed to me the reason for that was that he'd been raised wholly without the deep-seated skepticism towards and 'ironic' detachment from basic social institutions that we, growing up after the "golden age of obvious engagement" as you put it, had passively absorbed from day one. What I can't quite get around about that--and I'm sure this is influenced by purely personal factors, like the particular parents I had and the sense of what I have to live up to that established--is, Was the reason he, and they, and all those others became so involved in some part precisely because they unhesitatingly embraced those ideals, and therefore reacted with righteous outrage rather than cynical apathy to see them betrayed so badly? Would we be able to do the same if circumstances called for it?

I do also identify with the defensive moments like you're describing... "Well in OUR day we stopped a war, ended racial segregation, opened the workplace to women, we changed the world, you kids don't care about anything blah blah blah" "Translation, you spent most of the time stoned off your ass screwing anonymous people with no fear of AIDS, then you got fat and consumerist and voted for Reagan blah blah blah" ...been there, done that. But I've never felt sure of my place in either situation.
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Old 09-21-2011, 09:49 PM   #64
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Oh, the baby boomers, whose in-house journal is the NYT, were politically committed right enough, the problem is, most of their ideas were utterly wrong and misconceived. I'll take apathy any day over bad ideas. Commitment to political ideology is inherently dangerous and best avoided, it trends to fanaticism.
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Old 09-21-2011, 09:53 PM   #65
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Are you making fun of what I said?
No.
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Old 09-21-2011, 09:56 PM   #66
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it was a little funny, though
(most of the stuff in here is)

carry on
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Old 09-21-2011, 10:01 PM   #67
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I wasn't sure whether he was quoting Marvin Gaye or Jiminy Cricket.
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Old 09-21-2011, 10:10 PM   #68
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Jiminy Cricket.

Isn't there also something in Catholicism that says essentially the same thing? That your own conscience trumps even Scripture?
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Old 09-21-2011, 11:20 PM   #69
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Hmmm, well obviously I'm not really the right person to ask, but to me that sounds suspiciously like someone's misreading of Thomistic thinking about the role of reason in determining right action (an act is good based not on consequences per se, nor on which rules it follows per se, but whether it accords with divine purpose; a man of properly formed conscience can discern right action through reasoning about it, however a 'properly formed' conscience will in turn always be in accord with church teaching which will in turn always be in accord with scripture). This is broadly similar to what Aquinas' Jewish contemporaries taught about moral reasoning also, and FWIW they're often misunderstood by Jews with a less-than-solid grasp of Jewish philosophy to have claimed that individual reasoning "trumps" scripture/Talmud; they did not.

But I don't actually know.
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Old 09-21-2011, 11:38 PM   #70
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Jiminy Cricket.

Isn't there also something in Catholicism that says essentially the same thing? That your own conscience trumps even Scripture?
No. Your conscience can be your guide up until it conflicts with Church teaching, in which case you must have been ignorant of the correct way and that's why your conscience led you down the wrong path.
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Old 09-21-2011, 11:40 PM   #71
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I can see why Disney didn't go with that phrasing.
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Old 09-21-2011, 11:55 PM   #72
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And why I'm not a children's writer.
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