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Ken Armstrong wrote:
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  <Discussions of the antisemitism prevalent in Eliot's time and our virtue because of the lack of it in our's should take this into account.

   Which amounts to a pretty dim view of both times; our "virtue" then is not really virtue. 
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So a question arises of how can our "virtue" of compassion, cooperating and tolerance be compatible with a concept of the interaction of self-interested individuals. The answer seems to lie in the results of the theory of iterative games and the simulations of artcial societies by groups of autonomous software agents. What is found is these agents or game players  act only in their self-interest but learn that they can only succeed if they cooperate. Only if trust can be maintianed can the agents survive and so they learn how to have trust in each other. Even very simple artificial agent societies start out as autonomous individuals but soon develop networks of specialists that enhance the success of the group. In short, compassion and tolerance are the natural result of self-interested competition. The fact that resources are limited and need to be allocated in a predictable manner forces teh development of societal norms that allow this.

As technology allows the expansion of our society to the current global reach today, the need for global cooperation is having its affect on global morality by genrating the required social norms as it does in artificial agent societies.

Perhaps a more useful way of looking at this is to see that the reductionist analysis that links what is real to the properties of the elemental parts is inadequate. A society of self-interested agents could not function. Trust is needed. Therefore if a society exists then it will have trust and compassion so trust and compassion are the essential properties of this. Only lower level constituents that allow for a compassionate society can exist since if they do not then they will be out competed by ones that do. As the Buddhists teach compassion is the essence of the universe.


The same issue is occurring in physics with its desire to explain the universe by a reductionist analysis to a few elemental properties. String theory, as it now exists,  produces elemental equations for which there are an almost infinite number of equally probable solutions. So why is our universe so closely tuned to be able to support sentient life. it requires very fine tuning. So it seems that the reductionist analysis fails in the end. The answer lies at the other end. Our universe exists to create us or things like us. it has the properties we need. To predict its properties demands an analysis of what we require in order to exist. So the truly elemental property is what used to be considered is not the elemental properties of matter but the highest level properties of our universe. As the Buddhists point out this is compassion.


From: Ken Armstrong <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Monday, May 14, 2012 10:10:19 AM
Subject: Re: Eliot as a man of his time



On 5/14/2012 7:03 AM, Tom Gray wrote:

<It was the experience of the devastation of WW2 and the fact that great power war was now futile as a matter of policy that provided he impetus for <the open trading global economy that we have today. Domination and exploitation by war are no longer possible so we must learn to live together so <that we can trade and be secure and affluent. The morality follows from this.

    Which seems to be a way of saying that "The morality" that "follows from this" is not morality.

  <Discussions of the antisemitism prevalent in Eliot's time and our virtue because of the lack of it in our's should take this into account.

   Which amounts to a pretty dim view of both times; our "virtue" then is not really virtue.

   I'm not criticizing, but I do wonder if this is satisfactory as explanation, i.e. are the essential elements all represented.

   Ken A








From: Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Monday, May 14, 2012 12:46:45 AM
Subject: Re: Eliot as a man of his time


The discovery that anti-semitism, however much a barely meant social posture,
could in fact lead to the unspeakable results of the holocaust must have had a persuasive effect.
 
Peter
----- Original Message -----
From: [log in to unmask]" ymailto="mailto:[log in to unmask]" target="_blank" href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">Tom Gray
To: [log in to unmask]" ymailto="mailto:[log in to unmask]" target="_blank" href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]
Sent: Sunday, May 13, 2012 1:07 PM
Subject: Eliot as a man of his time

In reference to the anti-Semitism found in Eliot's writing, I have been doing some reading to satisfy a personal question about how Germany transformed itself from the NAZI state of WW2 to the open democracy of today. the history of the denazification period is very revealing about the genteel anti-Semitism that was prevalent at the time. There was an almost schizophrenic attitude. In the same person, there could be an idealism that demanded the eradication of the NAZIs but this could be a coupled with a sympathy for the educated NAZIs that they were dealing with and the accused NAZIs that they were dealing with and the accusation of what one British official called 'the dregs of the eastern ghettos'. Within one person there could be an idealistic need to eradicate NAZI hate coupled with an aversion to the Jewish culture. Eliot was a man of his time.
 
The remarkable thing about all of this is that the NAZI Germany of WW2 transformed itself into the open democracy of today in which, as one example, anti-Semitic attitudes are socially unacceptable. Similarly in my home country Canada, anti-Semitism was openly practiced in that period. How has society transformed itself in such a short period of time. From my reading on the history of the denazification effort, I gather that economic superiority of the open society make sit better suited to fulfilling the basic human needs of security and affluence then a closed authoritarian one. In my reading about the denazification period, I have seen a quotation for the 'The Threepenny Opera' by Berthold Brecht which reads "Erst kommt du Fressen, dann commt die Moral" or "First comes the eating and then the morality". The experience of the Weimar Republic conformed a preference in the German public for an authoritarian leader who could get things done and thereby fulfill their basic needs for security and affluence. The experience of the devastation of WW2 and the futility of great power war in an era of nuclear weapons similarly fuels the desire for the open society and its associated moral beliefs.
So the question about Eliot's anti-Semtism appears to me not to be a question about Eliot but a question about the nature of humanity. What is the real basis for the ideals that we espouse. Remember Rwanda happed in the 1990s with Bosnia just before. Sudan happened just a little while later. Cambodia happened in the 1970s.