Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Lawfully Good

Do laws make people good? A law that makes people good must originate in a lawmaker who has knowledge of the good. Who are all these philosophers, and how does one become one? I myself would like to make laws, because I trust my knowledge of the good more than I trust yours, at least as far as I myself am concerned.


Nimiwey said...

Laws do not make people innately good, but prevent them from being too impulsive. Philosophers didn't write the laws, but the powers that to be to maintain order.

brainmarket said...

If laws are needed to make bad people good and "the people" make the laws, does that that mean bad people are making the laws?

Nimiwey said...

Because there are no laws before the people make them, so they do have laws and are therefore bad?

Nature's Rebel said...

The idea that laws make people good is one of the foundational premises of the Western ethical tradition. Without it Plato's 'Republic' with its philosopher-kings cannot stand as an argument. I am attempting to question the idea as it still exists, even covertly, in the Western psyche, by connecting it to its origins. Brainmarket, your remark here goes right to my point. If we accept the premise that laws make people good, then 'laws by the people and for the people' creates a logical problem. We are left to reject the premise that laws make people good in favor of one that says, perhaps, laws help individuals satisfy their personal desires. Thus my conclusion that I would rather make the laws that pertain to myself, because laws made by the powers that be, Nimiwey, do not do a very good job of promoting my will. If we say that laws exist to prevent people from being too impulsive, who is to decide what 'too impulsive' means? I think this takes us back to philosopher-kings who know better than we do what is good for us.

Nimiwey said...

One's personal will is self-serving, and not for the "greater good" that our forefathers were attempting to preserve. They were our philosopher-kings, knowing essentially that people en masse are made of metaphorical brass, hedonistic by nature, which does not serve a community well.
Essentially, if your will consists even in part of living safely in a community, protecting your personal wealth, having a safe place to raise family and educate your children, then the "powers that be" do promote, even represent, your will.

brainmarket said...

The notion of philosopher-kings, in my opinion, is far superior to having the lunatics running the asylum (or "democracy" as it is better known).

Democracy appears to be far more of a failure in America than in Europe. In America, we tend to elect "leaders" who simply follow the command of the selfish idiot masses.

In Europe, however, democratically elected representatives tend more to LEAD. European democracy is a tad closer toward my preferred form of government/lawmaking; a benevolent dictatorship, something which would seem to be the closest modern equivalent to the philosopher kings of yore.

Sadly, though, Americans are unusually willing to put faith in various versions of a god, but reluctant to do the same with a real-life leader.

Gopher said...

Democracy does not exist in the true sense of the term, even if Europe is closer to it than the US (which I tend to agree with but I'm biased).

As for laws, religions dictated laws, not philosophers; I seriously believe in a difference. The best philosophers accept there is no difference between good and evil apart from perspective. And the greatest religions are not religions at all but more philosophies based on observation with the acceptance that scientific proof must be sought.

It's nice to see some intelligent conversation in a blog for once, even if it's still not me writing it.

Nature's Rebel said...


Don't apologize for being for being partial to Europe. Even if I disagreed with you (which I don't, because I'm a Europhile), I wouldn't want a qualification. I am only lost when people don't speak their mind. It's the confusion of ideal-speak that I am attempting to cut through.

Now, you say that religion, not philosophy, dicated law. I'm not going to mince words. You are wrong about this. Religion as you understand it is mutated philosophy. Nietzsche called Christianity Plato for the masses. That observation is as signficant as any that has been made in the history of our moral tradition.

My guess is that you feel that philsophy is a release from religion. I simply don't undestand this sentence: "And the greatest religions are not religions at all but more philosophies based on observation with the acceptance that scientific proof must be sought." What great religion is based on scientific proof? Is 'religion' here a word that you are applying to your own accepted philosophies? Can I guess that you are partial to Hume? I am, too, if you say yes. You will find his ideas throughout my blog, explicitly and otherwise.

What do you think democracy is in the true sense of the term?

And why are you so tired at age 24? I was tired at about 28 myself but have started waking up.

Nature's Rebel said...

P.S. Gopher:

Thanks for the compliment on the blog. You almost remind me of Benjamin Disraeli. Do you know that he said, "When I want to read a good book, I write one." You could write a book on the signficance of that one comment alone.

Gopher said...


I understand your perspective and yes I am aware of Nietzsche's statement (and I agree), however, I find although philosophy had a large impact on religion the two are inherently seperate due to the fact that philosophy evolves and can be challenged through many mediums. It also does not state their is a God at any point, but questions whether there is.

I myself enjoy studying both religions and philosophies and through this, and through my depression, I sought to find something to believe in, and basically found nothing that I could accept. I became Buddhist, which stems from a Taoistic philosophy. Neither of which I would say are religions as neither believe in an all-powerful force, although both are largely miss-understood as religions.

I will state that religions are a result of fundamental precepts that stem from the belief in a greater force, and are not easily challenged because they are designed to be "God's Law".

Where-as philosophy is much like a science (take the belief in un-proven black-holes), where it takes a belief and challenges it. Philosophies teach us to question life in the most lowest of levels, where religions teach us to accept life the way it has been written.

I will not disagree that religion is mutated philosophy, as both are belief-systems but the approach to either is completely different. To blindly believe or to not believe even in the presence of absolute proof.

And yes, I am a fan of Hume, but rarely do I find a philosopher I do not find enchanting in some way.