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    Sociology~ human values and conditions


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    Sociology~ human values and conditions

    Post  giovonni on Tue Apr 13, 2010 6:09 pm

    Greeting's Avalionians in the Mist,
    This thread will now address the trends and issues that humankind will (and perhaps) face from now and here on in~

    "We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we acted rightly."

    Aristotle 384 B.C.-322 B.C., Greek philosopher, scientist, student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great.

    For my first serious post, i like to venture into my favorite subject matter~
    the study of humankind, centering on its morals, values and living conditions.
    My first entery is on ethics;

    Aristotle: Ethics and the Virtues

    The Goal of Ethics

    Aristotle applied the same patient, careful, descriptive approach to his examination of moral philosophy in the Eqikh Nikomacoi (Nicomachean Ethics). Here he discussed the conditions under which moral responsibility may be ascribed to individual agents, the nature of the virtues and vices involved in moral evaluation, and the methods of achieving happiness in human life. The central issue for Aristotle is the question of character or personality — what does it take for an individual human being to be a good person?
    Every activity has a final cause, the good at which it aims, and Aristotle argued that since there cannot be an infinite regress of merely
    extrinsic goods, there must be a highest good at which all human activity ultimately aims. (Nic. Ethics I 2) This end of human life could be called happiness (or living well), of course, but what is it really? Neither the ordinary notions of pleasure, wealth, and honor nor the philosophical theory of forms provide an adequate account of this ultimate goal, since even individuals who acquire the material goods or achieve intellectual knowledge may not be happy.
    According to Aristotle, things of any variety have a characteristic function that they are properly used to perform. The good for human beings, then, must essentially involve the entire proper function of human life as a whole, and this must be an activity of the soul that expresses genuine virtue or excellence. (
    Nic. Ethics I 7) Thus, human beings should aim at a life in full conformity with their rational natures; for this, the satisfaction of desires and the acquisition of material goods are less important than the achievement of virtue. A happy person will exhibit a personality appropriately balanced between reasons and desires, with moderation characterizing all. In this sense, at least, "virtue is its own reward." True happiness can therefore be attained only through the cultivation of the virtues that make a human life complete.

    The Nature of Virtue

    Ethics is not merely a theoretical study for
    Aristotle. Unlike any intellectual capacity, virtues of character are dispositions to act in certain ways in response to similar situations, the habits of behaving in a certain way. Thus, good conduct arises from habits that in turn can only be acquired by repeated action and correction, making ethics an intensely practical discipline.
    Each of the virtues is a state of being that naturally seeks its
    mean {Gk. mesoV [mesos]} relative to us. According to Aristotle, the virtuous habit of action is always an intermediate state between the opposed vices of excess and deficiency: too much and too little are always wrong; the right kind of action always lies in the mean. (Nic. Ethics II 6) Thus, for example:

    with respect to acting in the face of danger,
    courage {Gk.
    andreia [andreia]} is a mean between
    the excess of rashness and the deficiency of cowardice;

    with respect to the enjoyment of pleasures,
    temperance {Gk.
    swfrosunh [sophrosúnê]} is a mean between
    the excess of intemperance and the deficiency of insensibility;

    with respect to spending money,
    generosity is a mean between
    the excess of wastefulness and the deficiency of stinginess;

    with respect to relations with strangers,
    being friendly is a mean between
    the excess of being ingratiating and the deficiency of being surly; and

    with respect to self-esteem,
    magnanimity {Gk.
    megaloyucia [megalopsychia]} is a mean between
    the excess of vanity and the deficiency of pusillanimity.

    Notice that the application of this theory of virtue requires a great deal of flexibility: friendliness is closer to its excess than to its deficiency, while few human beings are naturally inclined to undervalue pleasure, so it is not unusual to overlook or ignore one of the extremes in each of these instances and simply to regard the virtue as the opposite of the other vice.
    Although the analysis may be complicated or awkward in some instances, the general plan of Aristotle's ethical doctrine is clear: avoid extremes of all sorts and seek moderation in all things. Not bad advice, surely. Some version of this general approach dominated Western culture for many centuries.

    Voluntary Action

    Because ethics is a practical rather than a theoretical science,
    Aristotle also gave careful consideration to the aspects of human nature involved in acting and accepting moral responsibility. Moral evaluation of an action presupposes the attribution of responsibility to a human agent. But in certain circumstances, this attribution would not be appropriate. Responsible action must be undertaken voluntarily, on Aristotle's view, and human actions are involuntary under two distinct conditions: (Nic. Ethics III 1)
    First, actions that are produced by some external force (or, perhaps, under an extreme duress from outside the agent) are taken involuntarily, and the agent is not responsible for them. Thus, if someone grabs my arm and uses it to strike a third person, I cannot reasonably be blamed (or praised) morally for what my arm has done.
    Second, actions performed out of ignorance are also involuntary. Thus, if I swing my arm for exercise and strike the third party who (unbeknownst to me) is standing nearby, then again I cannot be held responsible for having struck that person. Notice that the sort of ignorance Aristotle is willing to regard as exculpatory is always of lack of awareness of relevant particulars. Striking other people while claiming to be ignorant of the moral rule under which it is wrong to do so would not provide any excuse on his view.
    As we'll soon see, decisions to act voluntarily rely upon deliberation about the choice among alternative actions that the individual could perform. During the deliberative process, individual actions are evaluated in light of the good, and the best among them is then chosen for implementation. Under these conditions, Aristotle supposed, moral actions are within our power to perform or avoid; hence, we can reasonably be held responsible for them and their consequences. Just as with health of the body, virtue of the soul is a habit that can be acquired (at least in part) as the result of our own choices.

    Deliberate Choice

    Although the virtues are habits of acting or dispositions to act in certain ways,
    Aristotle maintained that these habits are acquired by engaging in proper conduct on specific occasions and that doing so requires thinking about what one does in a specific way. Neither demonstrative knowledge of the sort employed in science nor aesthetic judgment of the sort applied in crafts are relevant to morality. The understanding {Gk. dianoia [diánoia]} can only explore the nature of origins of things, on Aristotle's view, and wisdom {Gk. sofia [sophía]} can only trace the demonstratable connections among them.
    But there is a distinctive mode of thinking that does provide adequately for morality, according to Aristotle: practical intelligence or
    prudence {Gk. fronhsiV [phrónêsis]}. This faculty alone comprehends the true character of individual and community welfare and applies its results to the guidance of human action. Acting rightly, then, involves coordinating our desires with correct thoughts about the correct goals or ends.
    This is the function of deliberative reasoning: to consider each of the many actions that are within one's power to perform, considering the extent to which each of them would contribute to the achievement of the appropriate goal or end, making a deliberate choice to act in the way that best fits that end, and then voluntarily engaging in the action itself. (
    Nic. Ethics III 3) Although virtue is different from intelligence, then, the acquisition of virtue relies heavily upon the exercise of that intelligence.

    Weakness of the Will

    But doing the right thing is not always so simple, even though few people deliberately choose to develop vicious habits.
    Aristotle sharply disagreed with Socrates's belief that knowing what is right always results in doing it. The great enemy of moral conduct, on Aristotle's view, is precisely the failure to behave well even on those occasions when one's deliberation has resulted in clear knowledge of what is right.
    Incontinent agents suffer from a sort of weakness of the will {Gk. akrasia [akrásia]} that prevents them from carrying out actions in conformity with what they have reasoned. (Nic. Ethics VII 1) This may appear to be a simple failure of intelligence, Aristotle acknowledged, since the akratic individual seems not to draw the appropriate connection between the general moral rule and the particular case to which it applies. Somehow, the overwhelming prospect of some great pleasure seems to obscure one's perception of what is truly good. But this difficulty, Aristotle held, need not be fatal to the achievement of virtue.
    Although incontinence is not heroically moral, neither is it truly vicious. Consider the difference between an incontinent person, who knows what is right and aims for it but is sometimes overcome by pleasure, and an intemperate person, who purposefully seeks excessive pleasure. Aristotle argued that the vice of intemperance is incurable because it destroys the principle of the related virtue, while incontinence is curable because respect for virtue remains. (
    Nic. Ethics VII 8) A clumsy archer may get better with practice, while a skilled archer who chooses not to aim for the target will not.


    In a particularly influential section of the Ethics,
    Aristotle considered the role of human relationships in general and friendship {Gk. filia [philia]} in particular as a vital element in the good life.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>For without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods.</BLOCKQUOTE>
    Differentiating between the aims or goals of each, he distinguished three kinds of friendships that we commonly form. (Nic. Ethics VIII 3)
    A friendship for pleasure comes into being when two people discover that they have common interest in an activity which they can pursue together. Their reciprocal participation in that activity results in greater pleasure for each than either could achieve by acting alone. Thus, for example, two people who enjoy playing tennis might derive pleasure from playing each other. Such a relationship lasts only so long as the pleasure continues.
    A friendship grounded on utility, on the other hand, comes into being when two people can benefit in some way by engaging in coordinated activity. In this case, the focus is on what use the two can derive from each other, rather than on any enjoyment they might have. Thus, for example, one person might teach another to play tennis for a fee: the one benefits by learning and the other benefits financially; their relationship is based solely on the mutual utility. A relationship of this sort lasts only so long as its utility.
    A friendship for the good, however, comes into being when two people engage in common activities solely for the sake of developing the overall goodness of the other. Here, neither pleasure nor utility are relevant, but the good is. (
    Nic. Ethics VIII 4) Thus, for example, two people with heart disease might play tennis with each other for the sake of the exercise that contributes to the overall health of both. Since the good is never wholly realized, a friendship of this sort should, in principle, last forever.
    Rather conservatively representing his own culture, Aristotle expressed some rather peculiar notions about the likelihood of forming friendships of these distinct varieties among people of different ages and genders. But the general description has some value nevertheless, especially in its focus on reciprocity. Mixed friendships—those in which one party is seeking one payoff while the other seeks a different one—are inherently unstable and prone to dissatisfaction.

    Achieving Happiness

    Aristotle rounded off his discussion of ethical living with a more detailed description of the achievement of true happiness. Pleasure is not a good in itself, he argued, since it is by its nature incomplete. But worthwhile activities are often associated with their own distinctive pleasures. Hence, we are rightly guided in life by our natural preference for engaging in pleasant activities rather than in unpleasant ones.
    Genuine happiness lies in action that leads to virtue, since this alone provides true value and not just amusement. Thus, Aristotle held that contemplation is the highest form of moral activity because it is continuous, pleasant, self-sufficient, and complete. (
    Nic. Ethics X 8) In intellectual activity, human beings most nearly approach divine blessedness, while realizing all of the genuine human virtues as well.
    material from

    From Aristotle to Augustine
    David Furley

    Last edited by giovonni on Sun Apr 18, 2010 9:23 pm; edited 2 times in total

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    Re: Sociology~ human values and conditions

    Post  Carol on Wed Apr 14, 2010 2:53 pm

    Ethical living is the way to go.. yet have seen many folks who live from an ethical place crucified repeatedly by those who chose to live otherwise. It is really both tragic and sad to see how those who are ethical are targeted.

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    Re: Sociology~ human values and conditions

    Post  giovonni on Wed Apr 14, 2010 10:02 pm

    Carol wrote:Ethical living is the way to go.. yet have seen many folks who live from an ethical place crucified repeatedly by those who chose to live otherwise. It is really both tragic and sad to see how those who are ethical are targeted.
    Thank you Carol
    I agree, we should all remember that in order to lift ones vibrations, we should realize it is not just about finding truth through enlightenment~ it is also about achieving and balancing ones behavior and conduct~consistently while attempting to raise it.

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    Join date : 2010-04-10
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    The Development of Sociology

    Post  giovonni on Sat May 22, 2010 1:36 am

    Please note i will be posting material on this thread from many diverse sources in order to get a broad overview on this subject matter.

    At a glance~ The Development of Sociology

    "Sociology is among the newest of sciences, having arisen in Europe during the latter half of the 19th century. However, it grew out of a long tradition of social philosophy that stretches all the way back to the ancient world. Thinkers as diverse as Plato, Aristotle, Saint Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Niccolo Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Edmund Burke and John Stuart Mill all wrote extensively about social issues. However, their approach approaches differ from that of modern sociologists because they did not base their work on scientific research and because their primary concern tended to be identifying the character of the ideal society rather than describing social life as it really was and explaining why it took the forms that it did."

    Stephen Beach, Linda L. Lindsey, Sociology ( Upper Saddle River, N.J. : Prearson Prentice Hall, 2004) 12.

    The development of sociology was born out of two revolutions: the
    French Revolution of 1789, and the Industrial revolution. Both of these
    events destroyed all previous social norms and created a new social
    organization: the modern industrial society. In particular, the French
    Revolution destroyed not only the political and social foundations of
    France, but almost every country in Europe and the North Americas.
    Ideas of liberty and equality were put into practice, setting the stage
    for a completely new social and political order. These changes also
    represented the victory for the downtrodden in France, and the
    beginnings of societies in other countries based on the individual and
    individualism. A new class of people, emboldened by what happened in
    France, appeared on the political stages of Europe and North America and
    were not afraid to fight for their rights as citizens and human beings.The
    concept of modernity came about when classical theorists needed to
    understand the meaning and significance of the Twin Revolutions and the
    effects of industrialization, urbanization, and political democracy on
    rural societies. The term 'modernity' was coined to capture these
    changes in progress by contrasting the "modern" with the "traditional."
    Modernity was meant to be more than a concept. Modernity referred to a
    world constructed anew through the active and conscious intervention of
    individuals. In modern societies, the world is experienced as a human
    construction, an experience that gives rise to a new sense of freedom
    and to a basic anxiety about the openness of the future.Modernity
    consists of three elements: traditional, institutional, and cultural.
    Traditional modernity means that there is a historical consciousness, a
    sense of breaking with the past, and a post-traditional consciousness of
    what is going on in the world. Institutional modernity is concerned
    with capitalism, industrialism, urbanism, and the democratic
    nation-state. Cultural modernity entails new beliefs about science,
    economics, and education. It involves a criticism of religion and
    separation of religion from politics and education.A new social
    science was created in the wake of these events and was given the name
    'sociology' by Auguste Comte, a French philosopher and he is thought of
    as the founder of modern sociology. Sociology is not only about
    intellect, but is connected with developments in the social world and
    changes in society. One reason why sociology is different than the other
    social sciences is that it attempts to describe different sets of
    social forces that develop in a society at different times and places,
    with different actors and results. As societies change, it is the nature
    of these changes that sociologists attempt to explain, and it is the
    changes themselves that lead to different explanations of these changes.For
    example, Marx's political-economic theory is an explanation of
    nineteenth century capitalism as it developed in Britain. His theory
    could not have been developed fifty years earlier because the trends and
    forces that he described and explained were only beginning in the early
    part of the nineteenth century. Weber's analysis of bureaucracy and
    rationalization could not have emerged much sooner than it did, because
    the bureaucratic structures and the forces of rationalization had not
    developed all that much before Weber's time. And Durkheim's analysis
    of the changing division of labor could take place only once some of the
    economic and social trends of modern, industrial societies became
    apparent. The same is true today: as society changes and becomes more
    modern, new sociological theories and approaches are developed in an
    attempt to understand and explain these changes.Marx, Weber, and
    Durkheim had different views on modernity. For Marx, modernity is
    capitalism and he felt that the ideal of true democracy is one of the
    great lies of capitalism. He thought that the only ideas that came out
    of a capitalist society was alienation, class conflict, and revolution.
    He also thought that capitalism will be eventually destroyed by
    revolution. For him, history is a human construction and that history
    is made by those who have the political and material means to do so.
    Humans participate in their own oppression through false conscious, any
    belief, idea, or ideology that interferes with an exploited and
    oppressed person or group being able to perceive the objective nature
    and source of their oppression.Weber construes modernity as
    rationalization, bureaucratization, and the "Iron Cage." For him, the
    history of modernization was increased rationalization. There would be a
    search for the most efficient techniques and stresses that everything
    is reevaluated. Everything humans depend on would be controlled by
    large capitalist bureaucratic organizations.Durkheim saw
    modernity as moral order, anomie and the decline of social solidarity.
    In his analysis of modernity, there is a breakdown of social values, the
    breaking down of traditional social order. Anomie is a transitional
    problem, lacking moral regulation. Increased egotism is also a problem.
    All three of these classic theorists had a very critical view of
    modern capitalism and society.

    Article Source:
    Kathy Henry is a native of Chicago, Illinois and a graduate of Roosevelt
    University's Class of 2006. She is a thinker, mother and freelance
    writer who can write about a variety of topics.

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