The Road of Humanity: For the Greatest Good

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Re: The Road of Humanity: For the Greatest Good

Post by Valance on Fri Jan 29, 2016 12:33 am

"A fascinating exchange. I do disagree with your grace on the nature of selfishness. There is a distinction to be drawn between selflessly and selfish. One can consider their own well fair and work to their happiness without being selfish. Selfishness comes from sacrificing the needs of others to satisfy your own needs. If I had three choices before me, a choice that helped me while helping others, a choice that helped me while doing nothing to others, and a choice that helped me while hurting others only the last choice would be selfish. If I scratch my noes when it itches that is not a selfish act. I help no one else by scratching it, yet I also do not hurt them.

As was already said, many who follow Via Humanitatis to it’s heights detach themselves from worldly things. I find this fascinating as they often also detach themselves from the battle between good and evil. There is no provision in Via Humanitatis for harming an evil man to help a good. There are no calls to action, even if that action costs you nothing while helping another greatly. If a man was hanging from the face of a cliff, clutching a fraying rope even a Prodigal at the peek of his path would not risk strengthening his beast by doing nothing. Yet if he saved that man, and that man used that help to harm another, wouldn't the Prodigal's beast approve?“

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Re: The Road of Humanity: For the Greatest Good

Post by Simon Molendinarius on Fri Jan 29, 2016 8:16 am

I am not sure I see your argument Valance.  I never made the claim that there is no distinction, quite the opposite.  I agree that if I had three choices before me, a choice that helped me while helping others, a choice that helped me while doing nothing to others, and a choice that helped me while hurting others only the last choice would be selfish.  In fact that is basically just a rephrasing of the claim I am making.  When discussing a man who steals bread to feed his family, we are clearly discussing a man who has caused harm with his actions.  This cannot be disputed, and so this falls into the category of actions that help the self while harming others.  That seems fairly indisputable to me.
There is no time when theft is not causing harm by the very definition, just as there is no time when a loss of life is acceptable.  I often hear cainites new to the tenants of humanity ask, "but can I kill the man who is attacking me if it is in self defense?"  The answer, as you know, is no.  Ethically we agree that self defense is acceptable.  Within the law it is acceptable.  Yet to the Beast it makes no difference.  Theft is exactly the same to the beast.  It does not care why.  It only knows that you did the deed.

Now, Father Marius is the one claiming that an action may be selfish to one man and selfless to another, depending on that mans intentions.  It is he who is saying that there is no distinction between action, only the intention is taken into account.  He is the one claiming that a man committing theft for a good reason is not acting against humanity, despite the harm that thief is undeniably causing.

These points are black and white and beyond dispute.  I do understand how it can be difficult to truly parse selfish from selfless, especially given conflicting codes that must all be adhered to, but that does not change the fundamental nature of the road. 

If you wish to discuss the finer points of philosophy, Valance, and would like to delve deeply into selfishness and altruism as concepts I would be more than happy to do so.  I think there is some interesting conversation to be had there.  For example, I think it is debatable that a man can look out for his own well fair in a way that is not selfish.  That seems to be the definition of selfish.  However, even the most liberal interpretation of these tenants does not view theft murder and violence in such a way.

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Re: The Road of Humanity: For the Greatest Good

Post by Guest on Fri Jan 29, 2016 8:55 am

Your Grace, I do not claim that there is no distinction between action, only the intention is taken into account. Nor so I believe that a man committing theft for a good reason is not acting against humanity. My claim regarding the man committing theft, which I only brought up because it is the example you chose, is that the man has not committed a selfish act, nor does he have selfish thoughts. I even pointed out theft is its own sin on the Road of Humanitas, because of the harm it causes as you mentioned. My argument was regarding those specific sins at the pinnacle of Humanitas, Selfish Thought and Selfish Acts - stealing bread for a starving family is neither selfish in thought nor deed. Nor is it my contention that there is no distinction between action, but rather that the distinction between two seemingly similar acts is the motivation behind them.

That said, the point that we disagree on is only tangentially related. You claim that the Beast is strengthened by action alone, regardless of motivation behind it, that to trade for profit is selfish even if that profit is only used for charity and is only made in the first place in order to avoid bringing harm to the competition. I disagree. The Beast knows our motivations, and takes no succor from an act we believe is not a sin. It is a part of us each, a shade of our darker natures, and it makes the same distinctions regarding sin we do. Thus, if Thomas believes that he trades for the reasons he has given, so does his beast. It is not strengthened by his trading unless Thomas comes to consider it selfish - whereupon the beast will as well.

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Re: The Road of Humanity: For the Greatest Good

Post by Simon Molendinarius on Fri Jan 29, 2016 9:21 am

Perhaps you misspoke Marius, but you did definitely say that a man commiting theft for good reasons is not acting against humanity. I quote you...
"The man who steals for himself has performed a selfish act, were he a Cainite on humanitas, his beast would grow stronger. The man who stole for his family seeks no personal gain. He does what he does out of charity, to protect innocents. That man has not sinned against the Road of Humanitas, and were he Cainite his beast would continue to slumber. "

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Re: The Road of Humanity: For the Greatest Good

Post by Guest on Fri Jan 29, 2016 9:30 am

I also immediately added that "Well, theft [is] it's own sin on that path, so both would have sinned, but the point remains and I believe is seen." to clarify that I was speaking only of the specific issue of selfish act and thought that we were discussing at the time. I can see how my words may have been misleading, and indeed recognized it as I spoke. Hence the clarification.

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Re: The Road of Humanity: For the Greatest Good

Post by Simon Molendinarius on Fri Jan 29, 2016 10:06 am

Ah I see, Fair enough.

Simon waits for Valance to respond.

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Re: The Road of Humanity: For the Greatest Good

Post by Valance on Fri Jan 29, 2016 10:33 pm

"I do agree that stealing from Paul to feed Simon is not an act aligned with Via Humanitas. Perhaps I mispoke, when I said there was a distinction to be made between selfish and selfless. I meant that the distinction can be drawn between living a selfless life, which you describe, and living a life without selfish actions. Selfish and selfless are not the only options. There is a middle road.

I think it is possible for a man to look after his own interests without acting selfishly. The man would need the resources to look after himself, or the ability to earn them. Let us say that a baker with an established location chose to withhold from selfish action. He could still buy the flour for his bread. He could still bake his bread. I propose that he could sell the bread, for more then the cost of his supplies. When trade is entered into willingly it does not cause harm. Indeed the baker is adding value to the grain by increasing its wholesomeness and the enjoyment obtained while eating it. The baker could then use the money he earned from his labors to buy more ingredients for the next day's labor and live off of the difference.

I would suggest that a good King could not live a life without selfishness. A King must often make choices that benefit his people by harming another's. By definition is not a good King one that puts the needs of his people over the needs of others? Would subjects be loyal to a king that put the needs of outsiders over their needs? Perhaps in a season of peace and plenty a King could be good while avoiding selfish actions, but we live in a wicked world. No land is forever at peace. No region is forever bountiful. For every Spring, there is a Winter."

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Re: The Road of Humanity: For the Greatest Good

Post by Valance on Tue Feb 16, 2016 12:00 am

bump

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Re: The Road of Humanity: For the Greatest Good

Post by Valance on Tue Feb 16, 2016 12:10 am

"I suppose a King that was not limited by earthly things could be a good King while following Via Humanitas. A King that could provide food for all even when initially there was not enough to go around. A King that can heal injuries, even onto raising the dead, as if they never were might be able to dispense justice without resulting to harming the criminal. But these are not within the powers of an earthly king."

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Re: The Road of Humanity: For the Greatest Good

Post by Simon Molendinarius on Wed Feb 17, 2016 11:21 am

There is a middle road most assuredly, but that is not the path taken by one who claims to have reached the heights of Via Humanitas.  I do not disagree with anything you have said, however, that is moot in this discussion.  The lives of kings and the middle road has little to do with a merchant practicing the strictest interpretations of humanity.  Those most devoted to their humanity are forbidden selfish thoughts or deeds.  Your train of thought is fine for casual definitions, and indeed for most who practice humanity it would suffice.  It is, however, well known that a cainite practicing humanity to its fullest should be more humane than humans.  To avoid any temptations for the beast, one must eschew entirely that which could cause you to sin.  Even if it is possible to act as you describe in a truly unselfish manner, which I do not believe, you would be placing yourself in the den of iniquity, as it were.  Opium addicts trying to stay clean don't hang around in opium dens.  The temptation is too strong.
Besides, a baker who makes bread with their own hands does contribute something worthy of compensation.  What value is added by buying something from one person and selling it at a higher price to another?  Indeed, perhaps one point I disagree on is that trade entered into willingly is not harmful.  Did we not see direct harm from the sale of a certain wine?  Was that not a willing transaction on all parts?  Even if the wine was not tainted, alcohol has ruined many a man.  Just because they willingly bought the poison that destroyed them does not mean they were not harmed, even if inadvertently.

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Re: The Road of Humanity: For the Greatest Good

Post by Thomas the Bastard on Wed Feb 17, 2016 1:59 pm

"The value that is added is the value of their labor. A merchant takes raw materials, collects them from numerous sources, and sells them to the merchant. The craftsmen turns wheat into flour, or logs into chairs, or iron into swords, or what have you. A merchant, the same one or another, then takes the finished product, finds the people interested in buying it, and sells it to them. As such, the merchant saves the craftsmen time in finding people to buy their wares, time that the craftsmen can more productively spend crafting.

Since a merchant is contributing something, they should be paid their fair share for their efforts. It is not selfish for expecting the fair share of your contribution. If it were, every noble who collects taxes for the use of their land is being selfish. Every farmer who doesn't outright give away their grain is being selfish. These people have the right to be paid for their work so they can buy the things that they need.

For that matter, as a Cainite, I need a roof over my head, clothes to clothe myself, and blood to drink. If I cannot take payment for my honest labor, I will have to steal from another in order to survive, or worse, actively plan to violate another, both of which are worse sins upon Humanitas. That definition would keep every Prodigal from the highest levels of their path, and I can attest that this is not so."
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Re: The Road of Humanity: For the Greatest Good

Post by Simon Molendinarius on Wed Feb 17, 2016 3:34 pm

Strange, you assume that nobles aren't selfish.  You also seem to think that it is possible to always survive while acting with perfect ethics.  Both of these foolish notions are false.  Lords are notorious for being selfish.  Stop conflating one thing with another.  A mortal lord is not a follower of via humanitas and not bound by its rules.  Neither does a cainite ruler have to preserve their humanity.  Beyond that, it is simple fact that often the most selfless must sacrifice life and limb.  Assuming that you should always get your fair share just shows how easily the life of a merchant can degrade your humanity.  There is no such thing as fairness in this life.  In the next life God may give us paradise, but on the earthly plane we are tested constantly.  Placing more value on your life than on others is precisely the problem.  If you needed to steal in order to survive, the humane choice would be to gracefully die would it not?

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Re: The Road of Humanity: For the Greatest Good

Post by Thomas the Bastard on Wed Feb 17, 2016 4:20 pm

"...I cannot persuade you of my views, my lord, and as such I shall withdraw myself from this debate."
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Re: The Road of Humanity: For the Greatest Good

Post by Simon Molendinarius on Wed Feb 17, 2016 9:50 pm

If you wish.  This is a scholarly debate, you need not feel shame for your views.

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Re: The Road of Humanity: For the Greatest Good

Post by Valance on Thu Feb 18, 2016 12:14 pm

"Have you seen the humans? Their lives are vicious, brutish, and short. It is not hard to be more humane then the humans. A humanitarian must be considerate of others, both in thought and deed. Sin is a much broader issue. A Humanitarian is free to worship false idols. He may take the lord’s name in vain and so forth; onto your main points.

You mention the tainted wine sold in recent memory. Was it the sale that caused harm, or the taint? Trading in human slaves would also bring harm, but that does not mean that trading is harmful. It’s the slavery.

As to what the merchant adds, I ask you, what is the price of a meal on a farm? Now what is the price of a meal in the city? Is not the price in the city higher? So by moving the food from the farm, where it was plentiful, to the city, where it is scarce, has not the merchant added value? Similarly in bumper years when the fields are plentiful the price of corn is low. In famine years when food is scarce the price of corn is high. A merchant that buys during a bumper year, stores the corn in a granary, and sells during a famine has moved the food through time, from when it was not needed to when it was. This also adds value and preserves life."

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Re: The Road of Humanity: For the Greatest Good

Post by Simon Molendinarius on Mon Feb 22, 2016 10:47 am

Perhaps.... Understand, as I have mentioned earlier, when I say sin in this context I refer to the sins against your chosen road, as is the colloquial usage.  I am not referring to Sin against God.  And just because most of the kine do not match up against the ideal does not mean the ideal should be lessened.  There are still those who exemplify the best man has to offer, lest we would all be consumed like Sodom and Gomorrah.

As for the wine...The sale most definitely facilitated harm.  Your argument is interesting I admit, but it comes from a more legalistic view than a humane one.  There is no law broken, among the kine at least, for the sale of wine that was unknowingly tainted.  However, one who follows humanity should still feel the guilt of the accidental harm they have caused.  One who aspires to the highest zenith of humanity should feel the guilt for their actions, no matter how minor their involvement.  Indeed, to avoid selfish though, I expect that it would be essential to have enough empathy to truly feel bad for those who are harmed through actions entirely not of your doing.  Though I am no expert so I admit this at least is personal theory.
In short, the wine would not have harmed nearly so many, nor been so difficult to deal with had it not been sold so widely.  Cleary the sale of the wine was at least partially to blame.  It is the same for slavery.  If you believe slavery to be bad, then creating a market for and participating in the trading of humans is expressly forbidden.  You are directly contributing to the enslavement of more people, and creating the demand for more slaves.

You make good points regarding the value added.  I admit I am not a merchant by trade, so these things are not my first consideration.  In many ways it does not matter.  Perhaps some can aspire to be a perfectly just merchant, but it seems counter to the practice.  Still, your point is accepted.  A value is added, so a wage is a reasonable compensation for such work.

However, let me put this to you.  Assume you are a merchant.  Assume you follow via humanitas.  Assume even that you only take what is undeniably a fair wage for your efforts.  Assume all of this.  Now, over the course of your trading you sell someone a horse.  A wholesome commodity by anyone's guess.  However, when they bring the horse home to allow their son to learn to ride, the horse becomes skittish and the child is thrown to the ground, dying from the impact.  Surely you have done no direct harm, and you cannot be culpable for the loss.  Yet should you not feel guilt for this regardless?  Had you not sold the horse the child would still be alive.  You actions have led to harm.  Accidental harm to be sure, but still harm...

A brief pause to consider...

Perhaps that is too esoteric an occurrence.  Perhaps a more clear example would be in the case of purchasing.  I have seen more than one town drunk sell their valuables to pay creditors, only to waste that money on drink.  Instead of focusing on selling the horse, consider how you bought it.  Perhaps someone came to you and sold the horse for a fair price.  But in truth they could not afford to sell it as they now lack a way to perform their job.  Maybe they did it out of ignorance.  Maybe they did it out of addiction.  In any case, purchasing that horse will harm the man.  Should you not feel guilt for the harm you have facilitated?

When a trade can cause harm both in the selling and buying of a single item, I cannot understand how someone on the road of humanity can practice it while knowing that literally every trade they make has the potential to cause harm to both buyer and seller, even with the very best of intentions.

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