La pointe de la sauce's Reviews > The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
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Dec 04, 10

Read in July, 2010

** spoiler alert ** This novel is regarded as Dostoevsky's masterpiece, a dramatic story of family dissension and murder followed by arrest, trial and sentence, into which Dostoevsky fuses his final thoughts on humanity and the state of the modern world. In every sense, this book is not only a novel but a Critique of Civilization and Individualism. Don't get me wrong, Dostoevsky isn't proclaiming any new philosophical ideas, on the contrary he asks the reader to dig deeper into the philosophy behind the grand ideas of socialism and individualism that is rampantly prevalent in young minds; ideas which ultimately seek to overthrow ones moral conviction and conscience in favour of other flawed philosophy. Ultimately The Karamazov Brothers is a novel about the loss of morality that, in my opinion, exceeds Rousseau and Kant in their discussion on morality by striking at the heart of the problem, the existence of God. 

It must be noted that unlike Tolstoy who fully developed real characters, Dostoevskys characters are almost always symbolic- the humble and self-effacing Christians (Sonya Marmeladova in Crime and Punishment, Alyosha Karamazov, the elder Zomissov) self-destructive nihilists (Smerdyakov and to some extent Raskolnikov) cynical debauchees (Fyodor Karamazov, Dmitri Karamazov), and rebellious intellectuals (Raskolnikov, Ivan Karamazov, Ippolit, Kolya etc.). These characters are driven by these symbols which ultimately lead either to their salvation or destruction.  

In the novel, Dostoevsky begins to immediately deal with the philosophical beliefs of the intellectuals, who do not believe in the existence of God but attribute religion to the same creative mysticism and disdain as it is today. With the loss of belief in God or religion, these intellectuals are left free to create some very disturbing concepts. 

Ivan Karamazov, conviction as to the consequence of the disappearance of the faith in immortality and God is that nothing would be immoral, everything would be lawful, not only lawful but even recognized as the inevitable, the most rational, even honourable outcome of this position. This concept of moral individualism or subjectivism is the same concept that is adopted by Raskolnikov in C&P and Smerdyakov when they coldly and rationally decide to commit murder with the backing of corruptive philosophy.  Smerdyakov's notion of the loss of faith is much simpler but slightly different from Ivan's.  He makes the more practical analysis that in the scripture it states that if you 'have faith,even a mustard seed, and bid a mountain move into the sea, it will move without the least delay' however as this is not possible man will doubt immortality or God and yet 'shall be forgiven'. He uses a twisted form of reasoning to reach the same conclusion that 'all things are lawful.' This form of reasoning is exactly what has led to the rampant individualism we see today, of course, it doesn't give one the right to murder ones parents but it leads to the erosion of any moral conviction with the constant drive to satisfy ones desires in a never ending cycle. 

The question of God's existence and of immortality is central to the development of Ivan Karamazov. Of this question he admits that he actually does believe in the existence of God:
'I have a Euclidian earthly mind, and how could I solve problems that are not of this world...All such questions are utterly inappropriate for a mind created with an idea of only three dimensions. And so I accept God and am glad to....Yet would you believe it, in the final result I do not accept this world of God's.'

Why does he not accept God's world, well because of suffering. He cites many examples as to the nature of suffering and why God allows it especially in cases where children are abused:
 'Without it, I am told, man could not have existed on earth, for he could not have known good and evil. Why should he know that diabolical good and evil when it costs so much? Why, the whole world of knowledge is not worth that child's prayer. '

Far from trying to advance individualism or free will, Ivan actually makes the conclusion that it wouldve been better if humanity was not free and had never been giving free will, never stolen 'fire from heaven' and never tasted freedom. This is what he rejects. In the end he is stuck in this conflict of believing in God and yet rejecting suffering of the innocent.  

Dostoevsky in his final novel makes the claim that as soon as philosophical reasoning is disassociated from religion/God, it leads to the creation of seriously flawed concepts. 

'For even those who have renounced Christianity and attack it, in their inmost being still follow the Christian ideal, for hitherto neither their subtlety nor the ardour of their hearts has been able to create a higher ideal of man and of virtue than given by Christ of old. '

The elder Zossimo goes on to make a speech that accurately sums up civilization as we know it today:
'The world has proclaimed the reign of freedom of late, but what do we see in this freedom of theirs? Nothing but slavery and self-destruction. For the world says: 'You have desires and so satisfy them, for you have the same rights as the rich and powerful....' And what follows from this multiplication of desires? In the rich, isolation and spiritual suicide; in the poor, envy and murder; for they have been given rights, but have not been shown the means of satisfying their wants. They mantain that the world is getting more and more united, more and more bound together in brotherly community, as it overcomes distance and sets thoughts flying through the air. Alas, put no faith in such a bond of union. Interpreting freedom as the multiplication and rapid satisfaction of desires, men distort their own nature, for many senseless and foolish desires and habits and ridiculous fancies are fostered in them. They live only for mutual envy, for luxury and ostentation....I ask you, is such a man free?'...And it's no wonder that instead of gaining freedom they've sunk into slavery'...They have succeded in accumulating a great mass of objects, but the joy of the world has grown less. ' p 346


Rousseau et al couldn't have put it better. This book is very relevant in this consumerist world in which we find ourselves where any discussion on brotherly love and God is treated with dissension, diresion and contempt whereas any new philosophy in favour of satisfying the innumerable desires we have created for ourselves is praised as freedom. Call it capitalism or individualism or modernity it leads to the same self serving subjective moralism which leads to spiritual suicide and self debasement. I ask you is such a man free? Are all things lawful as we are meant to believe? I believe in something different. This is by far Dostoevskys greatest work.
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message 1: by David (new)

David I truly have had this translation for 20 years and started reading it but got waylaid and would love to read it in tandem with someone properly and compare notes as it goes.


La pointe de la sauce Just got a copy, I'll probably start sometime next week. You?


Michael First off, I love this book. I still think of it as my favorite book, although some others are in the same part of the stratosphere.

It seems to me that you're equating political systems with morality when you say socialism and capitalism will lead to spiritual suicide. What is the governmental framework you think WOULDN'T require this death of the soul?


La pointe de la sauce Michael Wrote: It seems to me that you're equating political systems with morality when you say socialism and capitalism will lead to spiritual suicide. What is the governmental framework you think WOULDN'T require this death of the soul?

Michael, I see this your favourite book so i'll try not to propose anything radical about my perception of the novel. 
I wasn't really trying to equate any political system to morality however the fact is that some political systems or market structure have a greater propensity to corrupt ones moral bearing. I think anyone can identify with the problems with capitalism and it's consequential rampant consumerism of never ending wants and desires. In the same way socialism as we know it today has it's own problems with it's 'entitlement' programs in which the lower classes benefit at the expense of hardworking middle to high income tax-payers. Also note that Socialism in the 19th to mid 20th century was a totally different concept; the Nazi's were National Socialists for example.  

To answer your question, I don't think any 'governmental framework' wouldn't require some form of corruption reason being it's top-down subjective one size fits all approach. But enough talk about the soul, as Dmitri says, 'We are all responsible for all' and I think until each individual genuinely believes this, genuinely, not just as a duty, but as a binding moral obligation, then even the Kingdom of Heaven will fail here on earth. Wouldn't you agree?    


Michael Well, I do believe all life is interconnected, and the individual has responsibility to the whole of humanity, and also the world itself. I phrase the idea differently since I'm an Atheist, but I agree with your point.

Then again, I see spiritual journeys as inherently being introspective and unrelated to society (at least until a point of great, great revelation has been reached, and one is ready to pass on knowledge to others). So, while I may believe that capitalism does nothing to discourage greed, I also don't think it can stop anyone from reaching Nirvana, being truly pious, or coming to a full actualization in any spiritual tradition. (Unless religious freedom is taken away.)

That's a long way of saying I don't see the connection between a political system and spiritual fulfillment. Long answer to, uh, a question you didn't ask, I suppose. . .

The straightforward answer to your last question being: I don't believe in a 'perfect' world, a Kingdom of Heaven. So, I agree that we will have a better world if everyone comes to recognize their moral obligations to others. However, I don't believe in the notion of a perfect external world...asteroids will still hit earth, ice ages will still occur, etc. I believe that on a personal level, any one of us can find the tools necessary to 'transcend' in our chosen method, and this can neither be stopped or initiated by the society around us.

Did I make any sense at all?


message 6: by La pointe de la sauce (last edited Jul 30, 2010 03:33AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

La pointe de la sauce Michael wrote: I believe that on a personal level, any one of us can find the tools necessary to 'transcend' in our chosen method, and this can neither be stopped or initiated by the society around us.


I couldn't agree more. I had a discussion with David on Existentialism-Transcendency and he made the point that the concept is too fluid and can just as easily be used to justify mass-murder as it could improve ones morality....well the truth is if Jesus could be used as a reason for crusades, inquisitions and mass murder then what chance does a vague philosophy of existentialism; and I say that with the greatest respect. 
The truth is that morality/religion is always -as you said- subjective and on a personal level, we all find our inspiration through which ever window we're granted.      
 
Now I'm not a Christian, or at least I think I'm not, but are you sure you're atheist?


message 7: by David (new)

David The truth is that morality/religion is always -as you said- subjective and on a personal level, we all find our inspiration through which ever window we're granted.

I think we are in the midst of one of those periodic phases when objective moral values have become so weak, fluid and questioned that real social cohesion has evaporated and society is held together only by the flimsy strings of materialism, selfish interest and biological drives. Like Europe when the Roman Empire crumbled and the great monuments of civilisation were abandoned and left to rot, and people started leaving the great cities fostered by the Pax Romana to scatter into isolated groups, only thinking of their own survival in a fragmented world. Where people like Pointe could wallow in introversion and arrive at this conclusion.


La pointe de la sauce :) aha I knew I would draw you in. Well I've at least stated my position very clearly, and as far as wallowing goes, I'm filled with a passionate conviction against those who hold onto a truth and proclaim it as the ONLY truth. It is those, who realize that the opposite of a truth might well be another truth, who are truly enlightened. But you seem to disagree without stating your position - and this time without the light bulb jokes. :)


message 9: by David (new)

David You seem to know me like the back of your hand, Pointe... I don't wish to take up any more of your valuable time, except to add that truth by its very definition can't be multiple. Can the sky be clear and cloudy at the same time, or can a rabbit be black and also white? If there are a multitude of competing religions, they're either all wrong or one of them is either true or nearer the truth than the others. You seem to suggest that truth is subjective, and though this might be true in terms of pop-psychology and the way in which we perceive ourselves it can hardly be the case in science and religion. That's the mentality of the madhouse. You'll probably start on now about an electron being in two places at the same time.


Michael are you sure you're atheist?

Completely. I've studied many religions, but the idea of a deity has always seemed a self-contradicting one, ever since I was a child. I could run you through my reasons for believing this, but I'm sure they're familiar to you.

if Jesus could be used as a reason for crusades, inquisitions and mass murder then what chance does a vague philosophy of existentialism

Well, if your point is that an unchecked personal philosophy could just as easily lead one to become a Raskolnikov, I take your meaning. But you seem to be saying that religious philosophies are inherently better than secular ones, which is something I couldn't disagree with more.

Any time a person is told by someone else they must take and do things "on faith," without doing any mental reasoning of their own, that is a hugely dangerous thing. And most organized religions, Christianity included, thrive on just this way of passing down "knowledge." So, if I follow your argument correctly, you seem to see organized religion as a GOOD, yet people believing they have the only truth BAD. Where do these two groups differ?


La pointe de la sauce See Michael, David here insists on dragging me into metaphysical arguments and then adeptly accusses me of being mad as soon as I comment. He denies the existence of a 'superposition' and again accuses me of using an atom to argue it's existence, even before I've made the argument. Hmmm I just don't know anymore. I darenot mention the wave-particle duality of light. :)

Can the sky be clear and cloudy at the same time

That depends on whether you will define the sky as your subjective perception of the troposphere from your position - in which case you agree with my notion of subjective truths
OR
Define the Sky as the continuous area in the troposphere around the earth, in which case the answer is, 'Yes the sky is both clear and cloudy at the same time.' And it is both day and night at the same time, and I can assure you that eventhough it's not raining here we can say with absolute accuracy that it is raining somewhere.


message 12: by David (new)

David La pointe de la sauce wrote: "See Michael, David here insists on dragging me into metaphysical arguments and then adeptly accusses me of being mad as soon as I comment. He denies the existence of a 'superposition' and again acc..."

But it can't be day and night in the same place at the same time, and it can't be raining and not raining in the same place at the same time. Pointe, I never know whether you're deliberately playing with me or whether you really believe these things you come out with.


Michael It seems that we're talking about semantics here. The sky is cloudy where it's cloudy; it's clear where it's clear. In no place can it be both cloudy and clear. . . although we could get highly anal and say there's a number of water particles in any given inch of air, so it's a matter of degrees, and the two terms aren't exclusive.

But all of these are just word games. They don't make a fact not a fact; "2 + 2 = 4" is just a concept, but it is absolutely true, is it not?

If you believe an objective truth does NOT exist, I'm still curious about why you value religious belief over existential philosophy . . .


La pointe de la sauce Michael wrote: If you believe an objective truth does NOT exist, I'm still curious about why you value religious belief over existential philosophy . . .

Michael an objective truth may well exist, but how do you plan to define an absolute truth metaphysically without corrupting the definition. Philosophers, such as my good friend David, hold this incongruous notion of an absolute truth existing and yet not one has been able to define it without it falling short in real life application. It's almost like defining beauty sans the subjective comparison of two different objects. Einstein's theory of special 'Relativity' deals with the subjective nature of time. If Einstein was able to accept that time is 'relative' why can't we except that the same 'truth' may be false when applied in different scenarios, it's not very hard to imaginge philosophical quagmires in which any concept of an absolute truth completely fails. For that reason, I believe in an absolute truth exists and yet any attempt to define it as an absolute will fail.

Apropos established religions vs. existentialism, established religions almost always occupy a clearly defined box, so Muslims believe in one set of beliefs, and Buddhists another, and Catholics etc. which are all clearly set out. So in order for a Buddhist to consciously commit a murder will take an enormous amount of self deception in trying to justify such an action, the same applies to Christians (and it's different sects) and Muslims and Jews. Note that if an individual is ignorant of the teachings in their religion and accept wrong teachings on 'blind faith' without verifying with the text then they can only be accused of practicing a completely different religion, so let's put them aside.
Existentialist philosophy however has no such clear cut teachings, this is not necessarily significant when compared to the actions of Christians/Muslims/Jews but the main point is whereas these religions have to reconcile murder or theft through some form of self-deception, an existentialist could very easily justify murder or theft as part of their moral beliefs and not as a conflict at all. You quite really used Raskolnikov as an example. I know it seems trivial, but I'd rather be shot by a Christian who knows that their action is somehow in contrast with Christs teachings, than to be shot by an existentialist who believes that it is their moral duty to advance his self-interest.
Again I say this with the greatest respect to existentialists who sometimes have much more valuable ethical and moral beliefs, and yet for my sake, i would rather have a good Christian or Muslim than a good existentialist, for all I know he might believe in the racial purity of Germany backed by his moral conviction.

David wrote: Pointe, I never know whether you're deliberately playing with me or whether you really believe these things you come out with.

:) David, i think it's the other way round, why anyone would argue for absolute truth using an absolutely subjective sky I just don't know. I'm still nowhere close to understanding what you have against subjective truths.


message 15: by David (new)

David :) David, i think it's the other way round, why anyone would argue for absolute truth using an absolutely subjective sky I just don't know. I'm still nowhere close to understanding what you have against subjective truths.


If you take the line that everything is subjective – in the final analysis that one experiences only oneself – then you end up like Nietzche, dribbling in a wheelchair and looked after by his mother following his decision that he was god or something. But even Berkeley, the idealist par excellence, viewed that it was God acting as the matrix as it were and holding together our subjective experiences in a greater and all-encompassing objectivity.

The sky isn’t subjective at all. Here and now it is blue, and just because someone else may have rain shitting on them doesn’t make any difference – that’s a different sky, a different thing, not the thing I’m looking at. It’s semantics as he said, we call it the sky but that’s a collective term. You Pointe may as well say that a sheep can be black and white at the same time because you’re looking at a black sheep and I’m looking at a white one, and that argument I’m sure you’ll allow is bollocks. So that’s why I increasingly think that you’re playing with me for your own twisted purposes :) like prodding a rat so it runs into an electric fence, then feeding it as a reward so it doesn’t know what the shit is going on. I remember Skinner Boxes from uni, but that’s another story. Goodreads is like one made for humans lol. I digress...

So what if the religions can’t define what truth is? They search for it, because it must be there I think. I strongly believe in objective truth and reality, as I wouldn’t want to live in a pointless place where everything is what you want it to be. That would be like being one of these vacuous rich young things who party all the time, have no sense of values and end up overdosing or blowing their brains out. Children at school appreciate discipline, as we’ve discovered in London recently in various studies, though I could have told them myself ages ago, and for free. Kids like a firm hand, they like ideals and goals and incentives and objective checks and safeguards. They don’t like to be allowed to do what they want, contrary to popular opinion. When I was at junior school we all had to stand up when our beloved but dreaded god entered the room. He was kind and considerate, but he had a cane that we all knew about (me especially :))

What was I saying? I’m upset about your subjective stance, Pointe, and you mean well I know but you talk... Of course some things are subjective, some experiences, some schemas that take you over, compounded of fantasies, wishful thinking and some ingredients from the ‘real world’ and can be deeply distressing, but I don’t believe that you are what you think you are or any of that nonsense. If you’re colour-blind that’s a subjective experience, but you’re still living by objective modes that are common to all of us. You’ve probably read a load of self-help books, positive thinking stuff and all the rest , but they just seek to reinforce how good you feel about yourself, not change reality.

I believe with Kant that there is an objective reality but that we can never get any idea of what it is like, nor even discuss it meaningfully, as all we have is the signals from our senses. On that view, we are all alone. Glad I’m not the only one lol! :))))


Michael established religions almost always occupy a clearly defined box

This is probably where the root of our disagreement lies: I think religions, as they are practiced, DON'T occupy clearly defined boxes. And religions, as they are written (and intended), are often immoral. These are general statements, and I'm specifically talking about monotheistic religions; my examples will focus on Christianity for the sake of simplicity.

For example (about the clearly defined boxes comment), large numbers of Christians disregard factual scientific discoveries because, through the way they read the Bible, it contradicts the word of God. And, going the other direction, plenty of Christians simply overlook everything in the Bible that they find irrelevant: the fact that none should wear clothing of mixed fabrics, the fact that it's sinful to eat shrimp or work on the sabbath, etc. So, which of these two groups are staying "within the box?"

As for the immoral comment I made, the Bible has numerous examples of "pious" people doing horrific things because they believe God wanted them to: choosing to sacrifice children or other animals, allowing women to be raped and/or raping them, and on and on. So, doing something which is otherwise a sin is always justified, as long as you believe you've recieved a "sign" that you are supposed to do it. . . does that not seem like a scary foundation for morals?

You believe that religious people require a greater degree of self-deception to commit an immoral act. However, religious people have "holy" books which justify any number of positions that haven't been thought through. I believe that, through refusing to accept indoctrination from any one belief system and, instead, actively seeking out knowledge, one would require a MUCH greater level of self-deception to decide it was time to go out and start sniping people from the top of a water tower.

That isn't to say some Atheists won't go mad and do horrible things. The chief difference is that, for monotheists, an understanding of "we" and "them" is built into their entire morality, and not simply a byproduct of being imperfect.


message 17: by La pointe de la sauce (last edited Dec 04, 2010 01:44PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

La pointe de la sauce David wrote: The sky isn’t subjective at all. Here and now it is blue, and just because someone else may have rain shitting on them doesn’t make any difference – that’s a different sky, a different thing, not the thing I’m looking at'....'I believe with Kant that there is an objective reality but that we can never get any idea of what it is like, nor even discuss it meaningfully'    

:) David, I don't want to upset you, but we actually agree and it doesn't mean agreeing with Nietzcshe at all or disbelieving in God's existence or deluding ones self with self-help books. (we'll get you onto that later - kidding. All because you agree that 'perception is reality' doesn't mean that other perceptions of reality aren't as legitimate. (all this talk is giving me a headache read this review, I summed up my thoughts on perception here:
http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...
And I'm not a moral subjectivist or any other fancy philosophical ism, reasoning has to be applied.

Michael wrote: I believe that, through refusing to accept indoctrination from any one belief system and, instead, actively seeking out knowledge, one would require a MUCH greater level of self-deception to decide it was time to go out and start sniping people from the top of a water tower.  

I wish I could dissuade you on this but it turns out that a majority of monotheists are close minded, my point is this, one doesn't have to be religious to want ones life to mean something, it's not important how one envisages the creator but what should unite us is a sense of humility and gratitude that wherever this world came from, or wherever we came from, it is not us that created it and it exists in both it's beauty and suffering. The very nature of our world is such that life comes out of death and death from life, our existence is dependent on this cycle. For that reason I accept God and this world despite the evil and suffering for the sake of truth and beauty.

       


Michael I hope my comments didn't come off sounding like I don't believe religion can be a valid way of developing a morality. I've known Muslims, Christians and Buddhists who I've thought had high morals, and I'm sure there are adherents to every faith that do. But I often hear the seemingly unfounded claim that Atheists have no reason to be moral. Since Atheists don't know whether to expect an afterlife at all, the world we see before us is quite possibly the only one we'll ever know, so the pressure is on for us to not mess it up.

I entirely agree with you about a sense of humility and gratitude, and I think these two characteristics can go a long way to making people happy (and ethical). And, I believe one can pick and choose good things from any of the holy books. But it is the nature of monotheism to reject those who don't believe as they do.

"He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." Holy Bible, John 3:18

"Believe ye in part of the Scripture and disbelieve ye in part thereof? And what is the reward of those who do so, save ignominy in the life of the world, and on the Day of Resurrection they will be consigned to the most grievous doom. For Allah is not unaware of what ye do." The Qu'ran, 2:85

It is primarily this characteristic, which especially in the U.S.A. is growing stronger and stronger, that shifted my beliefs from being an agnostic to being an atheist. I can condone the beliefs and actions of many religious people I know, but I cannot condone organized religion as an idea, or the actions of any of its 'prophets.'


message 19: by La pointe de la sauce (last edited Aug 02, 2010 01:05AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

La pointe de la sauce Michael wrote: But I often hear the seemingly unfounded claim that Atheists have no reason to be moral.

Unfortunately this is exactly what Dostoevsky is saying in The Karamazov Brothers and he is not far from the truth if you follow his reasoning; the loss of faith in immortality or God means that 'everything would be lawful, not only lawful but even recognized as the inevitable, the most rational, even honourable outcome of this position.' I'm sure you'll disagree with this because you seem to believe that all atheists are well educated, discerning and therefore intrinsically moral/ethical beings, just like you are. But you are not the average atheist, most atheists won't even give a thought to ethics or morals, the same applies to monotheists. The dividing line between many atheists and monotheists, I think, is merely imaginary and very fluid. :)


message 20: by David (new)

David This thread is like a tentacle from Hell, with damned souls interminably scoring points of logic over the nature of reality and whether or not God exists, whilst demons shit themselves laughing in the background :)


La pointe de la sauce How many Pentecostals does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: 10, one to change it and 9 others to pray against the spirit of darkness.


message 22: by David (new)

David How many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb?

Three. One to change the bulb, and two to secretly wish they were the socket.


message 23: by La pointe de la sauce (last edited Aug 03, 2010 10:08AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

La pointe de la sauce Ha. David, what did I say about keeping our suits of respectability on and not descending to crass misogynistic jokes?
Jeez, you can't take this guy anywhere without it ending in shame. :) now you watch Michael, he's itching to post something rude to completely destroy any semblance of an educated discussion.


Michael Ack, somehow I missed a bunch of comments on 'ere. If the waitresses with ample racks work at Hooters, where do the one-legged waitresses work? (The answer to come after my uber-serious section...)

the loss of faith in immortality or God means that 'everything would be lawful, not only lawful but even recognized as the inevitable, the most rational, even honourable outcome of this position.

I'm not saying you're wrong about the point that this was probably Dostoevsky's position; although I love his writing and his portrayals of characters, he and I wouldn't agree about religion at all. Morality CAN be determined without an astral father figure handing it down to us from on high. For instance, we now disregard the most nasty parts of the Bible that totally go against our current moral awareness. We KNOW slavery is wrong objectively, even though holy texts tell us the direct opposite. We KNOW murder is wrong, even though the Bible indicates that it can be the ONLY good action when god demands it of you. We KNOW that women are truly equal to men, and we're willing to fight for the rights of women, even though The Bible makes it pretty clear women are property. So, are we really using our Bibles as the foundation of our morals, or are we using our reasoning?

But you are not the average atheist, most atheists won't even give a thought to ethics or morals

It's quite possible that things are different in your country than mine, but I have only met a handful of people who call themselves atheists. They have, without exception, been people with at least one college degree and seemingly strong morals. (Not that a college degree means you're brilliant or anything, but they weren't total heathens is what I'm getting at.)

But, you definitely have a point that many people don't think nearly enough about morals, or have allowed society to severely skew their morals in one way or another. . . people who are obsessed with their own careers at the expense of everything else is something I see much more often than I'd like to. I don't believe any religious (or irreligious) group is exempt from immoral motives, but I believe it's an often repeated fallacy that atheists are nihilists.

Oh, yeah, and the answer: IHOP.

(Ah, drat, I just looked them up and discovered they don't even HAVE the International House of Pancakes in the UK. So much for international. And my joke dies on the floor. . . must think of another misogynistic joke. . . )


notgettingenough David wrote: "How many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb?

Three. One to change the bulb, and two to secretly wish they were the socket."


This is so sexy. La...I completely disagree that this is a crass, misogynistic jokes. As David says, there are objective truths and now that I've had this one pointed out to me, yes, clearly this is true. Adds to list of things I want to be when I grow up: light bulb socket. Where do I apply?


David Cerruti notgettingenough wrote: "... I want to be when I grow up: light bulb socket."

Most sockets can be turned on and turned off at will.


message 27: by David (last edited Dec 04, 2010 10:00AM) (new)

David "This book is very relevant in this consumerist world in which we find ourselves where any discussion on brotherly love and God is treated with dissension, diresion and contempt whereas any new philosophy in favour of satisfying the innumerable desires we have created for ourselves is praised as freedom. Call it capitalism or individualism or modernity it leads to the same self serving subjective moralism which leads to spiritual suicide and self debasement. I ask you is such a man free? Are all things lawful as we are meant to believe? I believe in something different."


Exactly. Less is usually much, much more.


La pointe de la sauce Right on. Sorry I had to dig this review up again, I had to edit it, very poorly written, I disappoint myself, in my defense I write all reviews on my iPhone so there you go.


message 29: by David (new)

David Well it's a very good review. We all try but you succeed.


message 30: by La pointe de la sauce (last edited Dec 04, 2010 01:53PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

La pointe de la sauce Labor omnia vincit improbus. So when are we paying nge a visit?


La pointe de la sauce Don't kno what you're on about, she's just over at Kensington.


message 32: by David (new)

David I'll talk to her. I know that area intimately.


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