The Chapel Tree

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O depart foul client of mine gaze!

For ye are but the shadow of a Beech;

Your hidden stalk of Ivy stands

Amongst the golden fields of Wheat.

And when the Reapers make their rounds

Your cackling elder face doth greet

Those slicing, flaying sounds.

Tree! A day once came when, scythe in hand,

I wandered through our summer lands.

But the fields were now all scorching heaths

And the hallowed skies a thorny wreath,

That could have been thine crown.

I watched, as the warbling birds

Fluttered in light bars o’er the dry hills

To shelter in thine verdant head:

A mass of emerald scrolls.

A Source of Goodness

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In light of my last post (‘On the Nature of Morality’) I thought it fitting to present an alternative argument for the origin of our morality, this one with a very different approach to goodness than the first.

We need to establish what goodness is in order to create any reasonable system of morality, if we cannot do this then the system is not based on reason as such. We can begin with the observation that some acts are seen as intuitively wrong (e.g. murder, theft, lying), not always for the sake of anything else, simply because we see these things as wrong.

But what is wrong? And for that matter what is good? A satisfactory substitution for the idea of goodness is something that stimulates positive sensations upon the moral faculties. This is how we know that some acts are inherently wrong or right. Some acts are moral, some are not. So some acts stimulate the moral faculties, some do not. There must be a distinction between these, some quality that some acts possess but others do not.

All things appear to have a cause even if this is not strictly speaking the right way to look at the world. So all things in reality can be related to a cause even if it is not a true cause. We can postulate goodness and badness as real entities in themselves that lie within some actions. This is what causes the stimulation of the moral faculties (the stimulation must have what can be identifiable as a ‘cause’). These are known as Moral Carriers.

It makes more sense for all these Moral Carriers to have the same origin since they cause similar stimulation of the moral faculties. Whatever is the source of goodness is which has infinite potential (if all morals acts contain good then we could in theory have an unlimited number of them – hence we need a large source of goodness). It is therefore reasonable to postulate the existence of infinite goodness.

Such a source of goodness cannot have a spatial existence since it lies outside of the sensual realm. We could never hope to place infinite goodness somewhere since this would be completely illogical. Therefore the nature of this goodness must also be divinely simple hence goodness cannot consist of quanta. Therefore the only way goodness can be present in the sensual reality is if infinite goodness is reflected dimly in certain acts in our realm. There are certain intensities of this reflection and this is why some acts are more moral than others and some are more striking to us.

The reason goodness must be innate therefore is that we cannot comprehend that which has achieved infinite extension. Moral goodness is a reflection of infinite goodness. This has achieved infinite extension. Just as we cannot explain the infinite, we cannot explain a reflection of it. We must just know what moral acts are.

On the Nature of Morality

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Is it not so that all acts are followed by a consequence? Even if causation is but a product of the rational mind the world nevertheless appears to follow this law and I have yet to see an exception to it, thus the notion of cause and effect is a part of the way in which we view the world, its objective truth does not matter when we are considering morality.

It must also be so that no act could ever possibly be moral unless it was followed by either a good or bad consequence, and by good in this context I refer to it in the sense of progression and the pleasures. Repeat an act often enough and it will be remembered, the same goes to the consequence that follows. If the act of shooting citizens is repeated often enough the consequence that follows (the death of citizens) will become remembered as being directly associated with the act of shooting. Now I ask, does a child who has never fired a gun before, nor has been told of the implications, know that the act of firing will be directly followed by death? He will not (for the sake of the example we shall say that the child also has no foreknowledge of the affect that sharp moving objects have on people). It must be the case then that the child learns to associate act with consequence. The approach is inductive and such a relationship cannot be known a priori.

We can apply this approach to the whole of ethics, indeed it soon becomes clear (under this idea) that the raw act in itself is nothing to do with morality, it is the association of the act with a good or bad consequence. Of course there are cases where acts are difficult to distinguish from consequences. Murder is now called an act, one commits the act of murder, but the ‘act’ of murder can, as we have seen, be separated into the act of shooting (or whatever method is used) and the resulting consequence of the victim dying. It is the same with all ethical dilemmas.

This relationship between act and consequence I have called Moral Induction and leads to the formulation of a moral act (that which is a synthesis between act and consequence).

Moral Induction leads to the formation of universal maxims that are regarded as unchanging and objective. Over the course of a finite number of examples the act of murder is created, due to the negative consequence of the act there becomes something inherently wrong with murder, it is seen as a bad thing. However, this law is formed by an inductive method and hence it can never be proved beyond a doubt that it is objective. To do this we would need to see if the act of shooting was always associated with the consequence of death (or something equally bad), but this is impractical not to mention wrong. There is a much easier method to test the objectivity of such a moral law. We need only ask: are there ever any examples where the act of shooting (or something equally violent) do not lead to a bad consequence? Indeed it is possible to think of some, and from a utilitarian perspective pleasure need only outweigh pain for it to be so. If there are examples that disprove the objective law that a moral act is good or bad then the moral act is not objective and must be inductive. This is the case with all ethical dilemmas and hence morality is based on a finite number of observations and outcomes. Even though some circumstances disprove the law we will begin to associate act and consequence (and hence the goodness of the consequence with the act) if it happens enough times and is overall seen as good or bad.

It must be so then that things are only good or bad in relation to their effect on sentient beings. There is no moral worth in doing an act if it does not relate to the pain or pleasure of sentient beings. In saying this it appears that morality is a flexible thing, dependant on personal experience and circumstances. The innate sense of morality we feel when considering or doing a moral act arises from Moral Induction and is simply related to pain and pleasure – there is nothing objective in such morality. This being the case, might it not be possible to create a perfect society through tools such as education and psychology? Ethics does not have to be about the way the world ought to be, it could equally be about the way we want the world to be.

The sands of pitch

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‘Tis ‘cursed luck that ‘pon the eye
Of newly blooded sight
The ancient ghosts should rise on up
O’er the sands so white.

The land infused with emerald skies
Their void and rapid essence,
Do tell of kingdoms gobbled up
By Time’s malicious presence.

O as I stand upon the rocks,
The granite, grit stained stones,
I look to yonder hill so high
Where lie the ancient bones
Of man and beast and godly kin
They all seem so alike,
In presence of that one so sly:
The Scottish Sea Wind Wight.

He stands upon the fertile cliffs
And gazes ‘pon the sea,
Yet only when the moon doth rise
Shall the spirit be at ease.

He glides about the murky caves
The ancient caverns sly,
With but a sword from bygone days
O where his death was nigh.

Condemned to hang for Treason’s vines
Which seeped around his lips
And plunged their vulgar poisons ‘pon
His serpentine like whip.

So lost is enraged spirit coy
He’s turned the land to dust
Where once the trees and waters sung
Even the sand doth rust.

And as I make my way up to
Where he did free the ghost,
The air around grows torpid fast
And hints at undead host.
The form I see by rotting wood
Is like that from some dream,
The rancid sort where Mortals are
Engulfed by Faerie’s stream.

A pure gaunt face, his eyes are hallowed
And sunken into bone,
And where they should have shone a blue
A tragic red doth roam.

He’s formless though he looks as man,
Yet I cannot so bring,
My eyes and mind to know of thing
That rules as Hade’s king.

Now the truth comes flooding back,
In rows of fiery gore,
The land is green, the rope is fresh
So that swift death’s ensured.

The Scottish Wight is soul of mine,
An essence yet to come,
And as I fall through open trap
I’m left to Devil’s Run.

Cinders – Promote Yourself

poetreecreations.wordpress.com


sycamore

‘Tis indeed a pitiful dwelling, left to Time’s evictions;

It rests amidst a vibrant town,

Where it must watch, through the immortal frost,

As lives are lived and lives are lost,

As days are reached and days are past

Beneath the gaze of skipping stars.

 

I stand alone in that forgotten heart

As night pirouettes and gracefully parts,

Almost as though it remembers

That hollow den.

 

Out in the orchard an owl hums,

Hooting beneath a moonless sky.

The faded curtains host the silverfish,

They flap gently as the zephyr

Rasps through the broken windows;

The vines creak.

 

The higher floors are nearly faded,

Woven back into the fertile earth.

The rafters o’er head are draped

In dark-born cobwebs which sway like hopeless fingers

In that sorrowful house.  

 

On a peeling wall, riddled with mites,

A woeful portrait sleeps in tragedy.

The wonky hinge tilts the…

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The spirit of the ash

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A calm, gentle breeze slowly wafted throughout the sunlit giants of that still and tranquil place. The early morning dew still hangs upon the leaves so green like damp soothing crystals, projecting the warm radiant light, bestowed so graciously upon them by the heart of the sky, into bizarre and wondrous shapes like no other. The smell of ash and soot hangs fondly within the fabric of that place as if it has made its presence known many a time but those remnants of its maker remain unseen; hidden within the depths of that most mysterious of all forests. And no man whom walks upon that floor of dust shall rest their eyes upon the one, whom stirs the smell of smoke and ash within that most, tranquil of places…

The weary traveller

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A crackling star above the earth,

Diamond of mine gaze,

It rests amidst fair daylight’s frost

Simmering in the haze.

 

O I am lost, myself slung into Winter.

 

As I stride across the tangled seas,

Looking down into that inferno,

I spy the tangled wisps and maddened sprites,

The lunatics and beggars.

All did share those emerald foams,

Yet not is there one place for me.

 

So I plummet into the reddened eye,

Those places that the night holds fast

When all the good and daylight’s past.

 

‘Tis as though all the life’s gone from me,

What is left is some drained spirit

That watches the fair chains and cords

Of which our world consists.

 

For what, dear reader, is in a world?

Not simply a swelling of molten stone,

Nor the rustling trees and weeping lakes.

 

It must be us that’s in a world:

Our passage through Chronis

Until the frost lands devour us.

Those everyday happenings,

As we busy about,

Fretting about the things our lords never did.

Yet what are we once they’ve departed,

Flown back to the nothingness

From whence they came?

 

A low whirring of ghostly cogs

As they turn and slide but do not live.

They stare on out through silvered eyes

To see the land, yet not its hide

That must be worn to ‘scape demise.

 

I let the world slip away, returning to my soul,

In the hope that it will cure me.

Alas, Tomorrow’s morn’,

I wake afresh

O yet do I not awake anew.

The sullen face of Time and Sorrow

Cannot so be wooed.

We are arrogant

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A continuation from yesterday’s post (Faith: A double edged sword), it has occurred to me that all the disciplines which attempt to understand the nature of the world we live in have a common factor that was not necessarily always present throughout history. It is the assumption that any chosen discipline, of a certain level of academic vigour, has the potential to uncover all that there is to be known in the certain sphere of knowledge that it pursues.

But this is simply not the case, do we really believe that human beings, creatures that have existed for a minuscule amount of time in contrast to everything else, have developed the sufficient cognitive ability to comprehend all that is knowable and put an end to speculation on metaphysical and scientific matters?

This is sheer arrogance and the extent of this arrogance becomes clear when one examines the idea of a conceptual scheme. At the foundation of our ability to reason and conceptualise rests an underlying system which results in the basic formations of logic and grammar. All humans possess the same conceptual scheme (even the speakers of other languages, they are still based on the same, logical foundation) whereas other organisms such as squirrels and rabbits do not possess the correct categories of the brain to be able to conceptualise in such a way. In fact, evidence suggests that the conceptual scheme can be lost if certain parts of the brain are damaged and hence providing strong evidence for such categories being produced by the brain and not being independent of it.

If this is the case then our conceptual scheme (that which we base all our disciplines upon) is nothing more than a product of evolution, hence we cannot even claim that tautologies are correct, they may simply be how we view the world. Our conceptual scheme could have quite easily turned out differently if our evolution had been influenced by other factors. It is even possible that extraterrestrial lifeforms that have developed a conceptual scheme possess one that is a complete deviation from our own. We could never hope to understand any form of language they might possess since their minds would not even be logical in the way ours are.

This raises this idea that there are some things that we simply cannot know, in other words, forbidden knowledge that exists beyond human comprehension. Our ancestors had such ideas of secret knowledge being possessed by the divine, perhaps we could learn a thing or two from their age old beliefs. For it is only when we accept our limitations that we can truly make progress in a discipline.

Cinders

Abanoned house

‘Tis indeed a pitiful dwelling, left to Time’s evictions;

It rests amidst a vibrant town,

Where it must watch, through the immortal frost,

As lives are lived and lives are lost,

As days are reached and days are past

Beneath the gaze of skipping stars.

 

I stand alone in that forgotten heart

As night pirouettes and gracefully parts,

Almost as though it remembers

That hollow den.

 

Out in the orchard an owl hums,

Hooting beneath a moonless sky.

The faded curtains host the silverfish,

They flap gently as the zephyr

Rasps through the broken windows;

The vines creak.

 

The higher floors are nearly faded,

Woven back into the fertile earth.

The rafters o’er head are draped

In dark-born cobwebs which sway like hopeless fingers

In that sorrowful house.  

 

On a peeling wall, riddled with mites,

A woeful portrait sleeps in tragedy.

The wonky hinge tilts the frame,

Crumbling in the half-light,

Towards the precarious floor boarding.

That sullen face sheds tears of cobalt

Which trace the loose threads of fabric.

 

Pulling back the snickering vines,

Stubborn in their stances,

I find a hefty bureau cast in pine.

It holds within its shivering clutches

Some sun-worn letter:

Yellowed parchment whose words are soft;

They are barely audible,

But just decipherable.

 

A solemn farewell those final lines convey,

And yet how ‘twas known their end was nigh,

Truth’s lips cannot be swayed.

 

As I ponder captured thoughts, I behold

A morose phantom sitting in the sycamore tree;

As the sun seeps through the heavens yond’

I see him clearly in the whim of dawn:

A forgotten soul, lost amongst the cinders.

Faith: A double edged sword

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 I have on occasions, and no doubt have done so alongside many others who are skeptical of religion, criticised the believe in metaphysical concepts, such as God, due to their heavy association with and dependence on faith. Although there exist many arguments which set out to prove the existence of such metaphysical phenomena, the truth of these matters usually comes down to a personal belief for most people; the truth no longer becomes what is important where religion is concerned, more what we would prefer to be true. Christianity claims to offer salvation through Christ, and Buddhism reincarnation. Religions are often criticised for being based on human inclinations and desires, the easy way out of the quest for knowledge and an appeal to the common man. And in many ways this criticism casts a black shadow upon belief in transcendent entities and afterlives, what we desire does not necessarily correlate with what is objective and knowable about the world. But what seems absolutely unacceptable is the arrogant assumption that the disciplines such as the sciences and philosophy are not open to this same criticism.

 Consider the sciences, they are empirical by their very nature since they use the senses to make observations about the world. But their method depends upon the assumption that our senses are in fact correct and that the information we receive from them is true and objective. Given the variety of criticisms that can be thrown at this assumption by the skeptic, we must accept that what we really do, when we carry out the scientific method and make statements about the world, is take the fact that our senses give us reliable, truthful knowledge on faith. The very thing we might criticise a follower of Christianity for doing.

 Similarly in philosophy we make the assumption that our conceptual scheme (the elementary principles including the basic building blocks logic and grammar which our mind possesses) is true and objective. If our own conceptual scheme is simply a product of evolution then we cannot say with certainty that it allows us to know anything meaningful about the world around us. Following this idea even tautologies could be doubtful since their truth might only be specific to our own conceptual scheme. When we formulate a theory in philosophy we must have faith that our conceptual scheme is more than simply a subjective byproduct of evolution.

 All disciplines require a certain degree of faith in order for anything of use to be acquired and for any matters of truth to be discerned. It would, then, be wrong (and not to mention ignorant) to criticise religion for having elements of faith to it since all our endeavours inevitably do the same. So long, of course, that the faith is not of the blind and irrational sense (that is, refusing to even listen to propositions which suggest the opposite of personal belief). So long as one is not utterly consumed by faith to the disregard of all else, we cannot, intelligently, criticise religion for such an attribute. Perhaps instead of doing so we should concentrate more on making the certainty of our own endeavours and disciplines more concrete and less dependant on that which we condemn others for wielding.