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Non-religious books and DVD's about Morality

Posted: 09 Nov 2017 17:35
by RedKryptonite
Hi Everyone,
I originally planned to just ask and PM Summerlander this question but I felt it would be a better idea to make a thread instead so I can get suggestions and varied resources from everyone.

Re: Non-religious books and DVD's about Morality

Posted: 09 Nov 2017 23:56
by Summerlander
I can name a few to start with. The first, which I read a few years ago now, is The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris. Harris also authored Lying which is quite pertinent. The other, which I read at the beginning of this year, is a deontological piece by Immanuel Kant called Critique of Practical Reason.

There's a lot of philosophy behind it. One is more likely to find a refined level of morality in the works of secular humanists like A. C. Grayling than in scripture like the Bible and the Qur'an. :twisted:

Re: Non-religious books and DVD's about Morality

Posted: 11 Nov 2017 16:30
by RedKryptonite
Summerlander wrote:I can name a few to start with. The first, which I read a few years ago now, is The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris. Harris also authored Lying which is quite pertinent. The other, which I read at the beginning of this year, is a deontological piece by Immanuel Kant called Critique of Practical Reason.

There's a lot of philosophy behind it. One is more likely to find a refined level of morality in the works of secular humanists like A. C. Grayling than in scripture like the Bible and the Qur'an. :twisted:

Thanks man. This is a topic I'd like to read about in the not-too-distant future. There are certain things about myself that I don't like. These past few days,I've come to realize how impulsive I really am and my inability to control my emotions. Often I would say/do something awful out of reflex when I get upset,then stew in guilt/regret over my words/actions after. This vicious cycle has got to stop. My father is like this as well,and I probably inherited this personality trait from him(though my violent past with bullies certainly played a part in this as well. My ability to get angry and violent quickly might have been an asset back then,but those days are long over and its certainly won't help me live a happy and peaceful life)

Perhaps these books will open my eyes and give me some insight.

Re: Non-religious books and DVD's about Morality

Posted: 11 Nov 2017 23:08
by Summerlander
I think we all share such problematic traits to different degrees. It's important to realise that your introspection has already enabled you to realise your impulsivity and that's an important step. Remember, it is not your fault that you are prone to certain behaviours. So when those instances happen, don't kick yourself about it.

When it next happens, just try to nonjudgementally note to yourself, 'Ah, there it is.' I know it's hard in the moment, because your thinking will be clouded and emotions are strong, but use the moment as a mnemonic cue to 'wake up' while it's happening. If you manage to attain such mindfulness as your impulses kick in---rather than reflecting on the event afterwards---you have already improved yourself.

It's very much the principle in mindfulness meditation: to become aware of thoughts and emotions as they arise rather than realising after the fact. Most of the time we think without knowing that we are thinking. This default mode is what leads to many of our problems. But imagine being able to catch the moment a thought and an emotion arise; become aware of their incipience.

This means you become aware before the possibilities of consequent action. You suddenly seem to have a choice about what to do with them and whether or not you should act upon them. Give yourself time to think and breathe. Logic and reason will find a peaceful expression instead of the animalistic awkwardness where our primitive regions of the brain dictate and mindlessness rules.

You might even find the confidence and courage to speak about these matters with your father. You may candidly put it to him that people---including you and him---have this inconvenient way of being which can be remedied. Let him know there is another way. If he's defensive or sceptical that's okay. You may even decide to show him this thread to save you the hassle of remembering how you described a perceived problem and its responses with all the good points.

It is true that genes and life experiences undergird certain tendencies we have. But they are still only tendencies---not set in stone! They are acquired behaviours as the result of how your genome responds to sensory information about the world. Once you realise it, which you have done already, the world can be your oyster.

One is able to tweak or change one's default mode against genetic propensities because:

a) fortunately our brains possess the property of neuroplasticity; and ...

b) consciousness, in its simplest definition, is the knowing of this and that---if you hear a bell, you know there is a bell sound (regardless of its cause or nature, be that an objective source such as a real bell or a neuronal misfiring that subjectively produced the sound as in the hallucination context).

The point with 'b' is, for anything to have a subjective existence, it has to be known by a subject. If you experience something, you come to know of the experience's existence. The point with 'a' can be illustrated by this simple analogy: Just because your genes spell scoliosis doesn't mean you can't be a great athlete ... (Proof? Hussein Bolt.) ;)

Albert Einstein's autopsy revealed that he had more glial cells in his brain than the norm. It is possible that he was born with that advantage, but since he was never the best at school, it is very likely that he 'grew' his brain throughout his life. Should he take credit for it? Yes and know. Yes because he had an insatiable motivation and thirst for knowledge. No because he was lucky to not have been throroughly discouraged or dissuaded from the scientific enterprise; also, he was lucky to have been born in Germany (instead of North Korea) and to have had to opportunity to travel the world.

Don't give yourself a hard time if your impulsivity gets the better of you again. The more you practise the game of mindfulness, the less they'll occur. It can even be fun! Undesired thoughts and emotions may still come, but they'll have less power over you once you see them as mere 'objects of consciousness'. Just interesting structures, as it were. They don't even have to be stopped (you can't). You may watch them come and go without reacting. If you dwell in anger and identify with it, it will last. Instead of the mental attitude being 'I am angry,' try 'There is anger.' Don't be led astray by angry narratives. You don't have to hold on to any thought, you don't have to do anything. Then you'll see that nothing is permanent. Both anger and its allure will pass. You'll see.

If you have an argument with someone, observe your own thoughts and feelings. Abandon the hope to win the argument at least for a moment. What's there in your mind? I'll tell you what will be immediately obvious: heart is pounding; you are hot and sweaty; there is a wish to catch your breath and yet a desire to get a word in as quickly as possible; you're angry (what does it feel like?); thoughts of thrashing your opponent emerge etc.

You don't have to react to any of this. You might even decide to tell your opponent, in passive resistance, that your are angry and feel like you need time to gather your thoughts in order to coherently express your opinion. Why not be honest, right? He can already see your unusually ruddy face and slight scowl. He might relate and cease to be an opponent.

If they are unreasonable just tell them how they are coming across to you and that perhaps you'll speak to them later when they've calmed down. If they stutter in frustration, show compassion---you've been there before. Tell them you get flustered too and a break is in order (both parties benefit).

The perfect recipe to build a psychosocial 'compass' might be the literary combination of two powerful subjects: Ethics and mindfulness. You may not agree with everything you read but you'll definitely learn a thing or two. Follow what you think is fair. No pressure and good luck.

You'll be alright, my friend. :)

Re: Non-religious books and DVD's about Morality

Posted: 11 Nov 2017 23:35
by 24/7/365
if you want to be scientific:
Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” in Psychological Review. Maslow subsequently extended the idea to include his observations of humans' innate curiosity. His theories parallel many other theories of human developmental psychology, some of which focus on describing the stages of growth in humans. Maslow used the terms "physiological", "safety", "belonging" and "love", "esteem", "self-actualization", and "self-transcendence" to describe the pattern that human motivations generally move through. The goal of Maslow's Theory is to attain the sixth level of stage: self transcendent needs.

Re: Non-religious books and DVD's about Morality

Posted: 12 Nov 2017 04:22
by RedKryptonite
@ Summerlander
I'll definitely put your advice into action immediately. Thank you for your words of wisdom :)

Re: Non-religious books and DVD's about Morality

Posted: 12 Nov 2017 04:55
by RedKryptonite
24/7/365 wrote:if you want to be scientific:
Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” in Psychological Review. Maslow subsequently extended the idea to include his observations of humans' innate curiosity. His theories parallel many other theories of human developmental psychology, some of which focus on describing the stages of growth in humans. Maslow used the terms "physiological", "safety", "belonging" and "love", "esteem", "self-actualization", and "self-transcendence" to describe the pattern that human motivations generally move through. The goal of Maslow's Theory is to attain the sixth level of stage: self transcendent needs.

You know,a long time ago,I skimmed Rory Miller's book "Concom - Conflict Communications" out of curiosity,and from that I learned something about Maslow's Hierachy of Needs. Its a good model,but its not absolute. After all,there are people out there whose lives are not exactly in perfect order and yet were able to pursue their inner dreams. Some examples include:
-The doctor who lacks a social and love life
-The poor and Starving artist (or writer)
-The police officer who is often misunderstood by the public as a "violent savage" for doing what is necessary (You wouldn't believe the amount of people who cry and whine because an officer had to shoot a knife-wielding criminal charging at them.)
etc.

Don't get me wrong,those people are definitely not as happy as people who have achieved their inner dreams AND have their life together in all other areas,but you get what I'm saying. (I plan to re-read that book soon,as ironically it was about tackling the very problem I have as of now. but at the time when I read it,I wasn't interested in changing my behavior,I was only reading it out of sheer curiosity.)

May I ask what is "Self-transcendence?"
I've always known that "Self-actualization" is the final step in the hierarchy of needs but I've never heard of that.

Re: Non-religious books and DVD's about Morality

Posted: 13 Nov 2017 00:03
by Summerlander
I believe it's more or less what I was describing. The self is also a mental fiction---the narrative of 'I'. If there is a sound, we assume an 'I' has to hear it (like the hearing is an act by the self that creates it). Not so. Not even with thoughts! Thoughts don't need a thinker. There is only the sound emerging just like there is only thinking. No who heard it or thought it. The phenomena is known as soon as it is. It's known? By who? Again, there is no knower to create the knowing. Knowing just is as the physical system somehow permits. Consciousness is the knowing of existential content. Before the self fiction there is a pristine awareness. Pure consciousness as a real tabula rasa. You get in tune with this, in all its nonjudgemental stillness and you have transcended the bundle of thoughts that makes up the self fiction.

Of course, if you prefer Google, its definition won't disappoint: :mrgreen:

self-transcendence
noun
the overcoming of the limits of the individual self and its desires in spiritual contemplation and realization.
"the logic of self-transcendence is based on humility, and respect for the mystery we did not create"

Re: Non-religious books and DVD's about Morality

Posted: 13 Nov 2017 04:56
by 24/7/365
For some reason the adage, "the grass is greener on the other side", came to mind.
I like ya'll! Are ya'll good with ketchup?

Re: Non-religious books and DVD's about Morality

Posted: 13 Nov 2017 23:12
by Summerlander
Delish. :mrgreen: