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Irrational Aspects Of Love


Falloutdude
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Recently I have been experiencing some questions to which answers escape me. I merely want to understand what's confusing me, as I don't personally know how to say it.

 

I'm trying to understand morality and how it can be explained from a materialistic perspective.

 

I mean, obviously there are some things which are, for the most part, universally accepted as good. I've heard definitions of "good" as that which maximizes happiness and pleasure and minimizes pain and suffering. The thing is this definition seems to be lacking. A stoic categorization of an intense and often irrational emotion. It isn't rational to to be willing to risk your life for an animal other than a human.

 

I know many argue love is rational, and in many cases it is, but most of the time it is not. How can an irrational emotional be given rise from a rational process like evolution?

I guess i'm confused. I mean obviously love can be rationally argued for, however, in many instances what we feel isn't rational, but we do it nonetheless. Like how some of us love our animals so much that we would risk our lives for them, or how we show affection for creatures who aren't human.

 

I was posed with the proposition by a theist that such behavior is illogical (from an evolutionary standpoint mostly) and that people who have such kinds of compassion or acceptance must be branded as being stupid or having something wrong with them from a strictly logical perspective. I couldn't really argue with this point, does anyone else have a rebuttal? Or is it just a truly irrational and evolutionarily disadvantageous trait which can't be considered as logical and is therefore has no basis in a materialist perspective of morality.

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In 1964, William D. Hamilton proposed inclusive fitness theory, emphasizing a "gene's-eye" view of evolution. Hamilton noted that individuals can increase the replication of their genes into the next generation by helping close relatives with whom they share genes survive and reproduce. According to "Hamilton's rule", a self-sacrificing behavior can evolve if it helps close relatives so much that it more than compensates for the individual animal's sacrifice. Inclusive fitness theory resolved the issue of how "altruism" evolved. Other theories also help explain the evolution of altruistic behavior, including evolutionary game theory, tit-for-tat reciprocity, and generalized reciprocity. These theories not only help explain the development of altruistic behavior but also account for hostility toward cheaters (individuals that take advantage of others' altruism).[2]

Wikipedia, Evolutionary Psychology

 

And humans sacrificing themselves for animals, instead of other humans, is just an extension (or malfunction or "short-cut") of the same brain functions.

 

There's also the matter of "mirror neurons" which is a cluster of neurons in the brain that responds emphatic to other humans (or higher functioning animals) pain, suffering, joy, etc.

 

By the way, "love" is not rational in most cases. Moral "intuition" is not rational either in some cases.

 

Or put it this way, there's a rational, or natural explanation to how these things work and why they evolved, but the activity (function, behavior, feelings etc) is not necessarily rational in the particular instance. There's a reason to why love and morality evolved, but it doesn't mean that you will love the best choice or make the best moral judgment at all times.

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In 1964, William D. Hamilton proposed inclusive fitness theory, emphasizing a "gene's-eye" view of evolution. Hamilton noted that individuals can increase the replication of their genes into the next generation by helping close relatives with whom they share genes survive and reproduce. According to "Hamilton's rule", a self-sacrificing behavior can evolve if it helps close relatives so much that it more than compensates for the individual animal's sacrifice. Inclusive fitness theory resolved the issue of how "altruism" evolved. Other theories also help explain the evolution of altruistic behavior, including evolutionary game theory, tit-for-tat reciprocity, and generalized reciprocity. These theories not only help explain the development of altruistic behavior but also account for hostility toward cheaters (individuals that take advantage of others' altruism).[2]

Wikipedia, Evolutionary Psychology

 

And humans sacrificing themselves for animals, instead of other humans, is just an extension (or malfunction or "short-cut") of the same brain functions.

 

There's also the matter of "mirror neurons" which is a cluster of neurons in the brain that responds emphatic to other humans (or higher functioning animals) pain, suffering, joy, etc.

 

By the way, "love" is not rational in most cases. Moral "intuition" is not rational either in some cases.

 

Or put it this way, there's a rational, or natural explanation to how these things work and why they evolved, but the activity (function, behavior, feelings etc) is not necessarily rational in the particular instance. There's a reason to why love and morality evolved, but it doesn't mean that you will love the best choice or make the best moral judgment at all times.

 

 

Is it a malfunction just because it's not rational though? I guess that is what I am getting at. Are emotional involvements, or moral judgment which comes off as noble, "bad" or "foolish" because they are not consistent with exclusively pragmatic behavior, but instead are emotionally based? Especially in a society where such traits are no longer detrimental, but in fact can be conducive to stronger social bonds?

 

I just ask this because i know an atheist who sees limited value in emotional dispositions, simply because it's not always "efficient". Generally implying that anything which isn't strictly logical and based on technological, societal, or efficiency is faulty and isn't ideal. I think is a horridly cold, and simplistic, view of human advancement...

 

Whereas i would assert that life's "purpose" is subjective, and attempting to make us all strictly practical, stoic robots, whom only practice logical or consequential altruism, is denigrating of what humans are and what life is. Disorganized, chaotic, animals whom value emotional passion as equally important in the progression of man. For example, art and music aren't rational, have no intrinsic value. Should we discourage such "spiritual" pursuits merely because they do not advance society or critical intellect? I don't believe so, but logically such a loss isn't damaging to scientific advancement, and in some cases artistic whimsy is counter-productive to a strictly analytical mind. Or must we concede that value is inherently subjective and that people should be free to value what they wish?

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Is it a malfunction just because it's not rational though? I guess that is what I am getting at.

I think you're mixing up two different things.

 

A car's design is rational, mechanical, material, logical, etc. But it can malfunction still.

 

That aside, let's continue.

 

Are emotional involvements, or moral judgment which comes off as noble, "bad" or "foolish" because they are not consistent with exclusively pragmatic behavior, but instead are emotionally based? Especially in a society where such traits are no longer detrimental, but in fact can be conducive to stronger social bonds?

No. I don't think it's pertinent to remove all our feelings only because rational thought is so ... rational. I'm not a "vulcan." :)

 

I think emotions have a place. But it's like one person taught me once: we are driven by emotions, rational thoughts, or sense of duty. Which one that has the lead on the other ones will the one in control in your life.

 

Put it this way, if emotions (fear, hate, love, happiness, sadness, depression, anger, melancholy...) are the ones running your ship, then you will have a roller-coaster life and make bad decisions.

 

But using reason and rational thought, you can make better decisions. But it doesn't exclude that we do feel and sometimes you have to follow your "heart" instead of your mind. Sometimes it can be better to do something you love, even though it's dangerous and could hurt you. For instance, if a person is dying of cancer, why shouldn't he or she be allowed to complete their bucket-list by sky-diving or bungy-jumping? If that's what he or she feels to do, then why stop it by "it's dangerous!" Right? There are many other examples like that too.

 

So in the end, to me, reason goes first, but I always listen to how I feel too and bring it into the thought process. And I incorporate duty as well. Some things we have promised to do, even though we don't feel like it, and perhaps not even the best thing to do at the moment, but you don't want to seem like a guy you can't trust.

 

I just ask this because i know an atheist who sees limited value in emotional dispositions, simply because it's not always "efficient". Generally implying that anything which isn't strictly logical and based on technological, societal, or efficiency is faulty and isn't ideal. I think is a horridly cold, and simplistic, view of human advancement...

The way I see it is that the emotional drive for decisions came long before the logical. Reason and logic is something that has developed the last 2,500-3,500 years, before that, people mostly decided based on belief and emotions. And those beliefs and emotions had evolved out of practical experience. Things worked certain ways in 90% of the cases, so those things because the way most people would feel was right. It wasn't always right, but mostly right. With reason, you can improve those numbers to perhaps 98%. Sometimes we can't foresee everything or understand everything that's needed to make a rational decision, so we still fail with using reason.

 

I think a mix is best. But that's my personal opinion. And in that mix, reason goes first, but the emotions are not silenced, they're part of it too, just not the CEO of my brain.

 

Whereas i would assert that life's "purpose" is subjective, and attempting to make us all strictly practical, stoic robots, whom only practice logical or consequential altruism, is denigrating of what humans are and what life is. Disorganized, chaotic, animals whom value emotional passion as equally important in the progression of man. For example, art and music aren't rational, have no intrinsic value. Should we discourage such "spiritual" pursuits merely because they do not advance society or critical intellect? I don't believe so, but logically such a loss isn't damaging to scientific advancement, and in some cases artistic whimsy is counter-productive to a strictly analytical mind. Or must we concede that value is inherently subjective and that people should be free to value what they wish?

I agree. And art, music, etc are some of the other reasons why I don't think we can eliminate emotions. There's no real logical or rational reason for a person to decide to go to a concert with music they like. The only reason they go is to satisfy their emotional need to listen to that music.

 

And you can take simple examples from industry like iPhone, iPad, PC laptops, TVs, etc. People buy those things very much based on what they feel. When you have two laptops with the same technical specification and price, the one that looks coolest will sell more. There's no rational reason to it. It's just that we buy with our eyes, ears, touch, smell, and taste.

 

Or take restaurant food. Do we pick food based on nutrition content or by taste and looks? I think you know the answer to that. :)

 

I most definitely let my emotions be part of my decision process, but it's not in control and runs me. I find it "rational" to allow me to be "irrational" at times...

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The view that "good" is to maximize happiness is just an opinion. It's the utilitarian view of ethics. There are many other views, some that I prefer.

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Remember something else in addition to what others have said. Evolution is not rational, it just is. Many species have hit dead-ends and exist no more. Is it rational to develop a species that will fail? No, that would not be rational, thus proving that evolution is not rational. There is no great plan at work with evolution. Some mutations give a particular individual and eventually a new species a disadvantage and other mutations give some an advantage. It is purely by chance and those whose mutations give them an advantage survive and multiply while those who had a disadvantageous mutation die out.

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Dont' get me wrong, i desire to have universals rights and wrongs, i just don't know how such things can exist without morals being subjective. Ie things being wrong just because it's wrong to hurt others, but i don't know how to objectify such perceptions. After all, if some sociopath comes along and thinks it's good to hurt others, without objectivity, i have no real basis for saying they are wrong/evil to believe that

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Dont' get me wrong, i desire to have universals rights and wrongs, i just don't know how such things can exist without morals being subjective. Ie things being wrong just because it's wrong to hurt others, but i don't know how to objectify such perceptions. After all, if some sociopath comes along and thinks it's good to hurt others, without objectivity, i have no real basis for saying they are wrong/evil to believe that

 

If you have a moral system based on reason (which is what the universe works on, and is by definition objective), then you get over that problem. A person could reasonable object to being hurt. Therefore, it is rationally wrong to hurt someone

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