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Orlando Hawkins

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Is it possible to have a sense of justice without governments or religions telling us right from wrong

Perhaps a better way to ask this question is do we have an innate sense of justice or injustice?

Let's pretend that we are living in the state of nature or some sort of stateless society that does not rely on some sort of centralized power. Would it be possible to have a sense of justice? Can we trust people to come up with rational decisions w/o a system of government? Or would it be imperative that a system of government be established to tell us right from wrong?

Another aspect to this question would be the issue of relativism and absolutism. Let's pretend that there is a culture who's cultural norm is that "every 2nd child upon the age of 12 must have one arm chopped off". If we are a relativist how do we respond to such an issue? WE all know the dangers of absolutism (i.e. the Gulag) but if someone was to point out the injustice that such a culture is practicing a typical relativist response is "who are you to say that such cultural practices are wrong and a product of injustice"? How do we deal with this issue? Would it be imperialistic to take action?

The second paragraph may have digressed a bit from my original question but the point is, do we have an innate sense of justice (or right or wrong) and if so would we really need governments or God to tell us right from wrong or what constitutes as Justice? If it is the case that we do not have an innate sense of justice, what is the best way to establish our sense of Justice? Religion? Government? Society? What would be the middle ground?

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  • Dec 26 2013: There are no such things as justice/injustice, good/evil in nature. How can we have an innate (natural ) sense of any of these abstract notions ?
    But what i think we do have can be called 'innate intelligence', because Nature is highly intelligent and its intelligence goes through us, whether we are conscious of it or not. I think, we are not , because if we were we could live our lives without any governments religions... justice and the necessity to fight for it.
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      Dec 27 2013: Are you saying that we can't have a natural/innate sense of abstract notions ? If so , is the notion of intelligence less abstract than the notions of good and evil ? (if it's not your all reasoning falls ) .

      But we have innate sense of abstract notions ---- example : the logical relations . And I'm pretty sure we have an innate sense of good and evil .

      To ask if we have an innate sense of justice or injustice it's not the same thing with to ask if we have an innate sense of the Notions of justice or injustice . See the difference ?
      • Dec 29 2013: I do :) But i think we are boiling down to semantics here.
        Are justice/injustice, good/evil senses or notions ?

        " is the notion of intelligence less abstract than the notions of good and evil ?"

        Probably, you confuse ' intelligence ' with 'intellect'.
        May i try to explain the difference as i see it ?
        Intellect is something that I HAVE ( or i can assume that i have it :) )
        Intelligence is something that HAS ME, it goes through me.
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          Dec 30 2013: As far as I'm concerned you may try to say anything you want (when it happens we talk , of course) -- that's my belief , if you say what you have to say as harsh as it may be then it's more likely to reach to some strong conclusions .
          I'm not sure I follow you ; as I see it , good/evil aren't senses , the sense is something else than good and evil , the sense is that thing that tells us what's good and evil . The sense of the notions of good/evil is something intellectual , it's something about understanding notions . The sense of good/evil is that thing in us that tells us what's good and what's evil . This was the difference I was talking about and as much as I'm aware I didn't play semantics .

          So , nature flows an intelligence through us that makes us know how to behave , that makes us know what to call good and what to call evil ---- this intelligence looks a lot like the sense of good/evil I am arguing for .
          Why did you say we have this intelligence/sense from nature ?
      • Dec 31 2013: Sorry, i really didn't get your point . I even didn't notice that i said ' harsh' things.
        But if i offended you in any way, please, take my apologies !
        Let me try again, you say :
        "good/evil aren't senses.... , the sense is that thing that tells us what's good and evil "
        So, we don't have an innate knowledge of good/evil, but the innate ability to get to know what is good and evil.
        Is it what you are saying ?

        Happy New Year ! :)
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          Jan 1 2014: I replied you by adding a new comment !!
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      Dec 27 2013: There IS such a thing as Justice/injustice in nature!

      Watch this TED Talk http://www.ted.com/talks/frans_de_waal_do_animals_have_morals.html
      • Dec 29 2013: Thanks for the link !
        It proves that the break between us and nature is largely overstressed. We recognise the pattern of our human behaviour in the behaviour of animals, no wonder, nature is a fractal. Nature is interconnectedness of all phenomena, it's much deeper notion than 'cooperation ' as was suggested. What about viruses ? The pattern is obvious, we do behave like viruses too, where is cooperation here ? If virus kills the organism that hosts it, the party is over for both, but nothing disappears in nature, " they parish not but reabsorbed " interconnectedness goes anywhere.
        What i am trying to say is that nature builds its strategies via intelligence without judgement ( right/wrong, good/evil ).
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      Dec 28 2013: Hi Natasha,

      I think I understand what your saying but correct me if I'm incorrect:

      So in essence what your saying is the notions that we are talking about are nothing more than individually or socially constructed?
      • Dec 29 2013: Not exactly, it's much deeper, i guess.
        It's the function of who we are. It's psychologically constructed.
        A kind of :)

        edited

        I mean, their is not escape from it , until our mind is changed. Justice is a poor substitution for love and we try to redouble our efforts to control unbridled ego by morals. fear, laws justice...
        Joanne D. suggests that we overuse the 'thought' tool, yes, it leads to fragmentation, strengthens our ego ( individual/collective ), ' thought' as a process has shaped our mind, detached us from nature ,we live in linguistic constructs now, not on the planet Earth.
        But what is done can't be undone, we can't remake ourselves and abandon thinking at will. And we don't have to strive for it. Any process has its opposite within, equally powerful.
        Trough thinking we rediscovered interconnectedness, QM has brought this idea back. And connectivity, i believe, is a precondition for compassion, love.

        But it wouldn't hurt to spend more time with nature. Honestly , i think , it's absolutely necessary :)
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          Dec 30 2013: Hi Natasha, Great to talk to you again!

          thanks for clearing that up for me. I understand your point now. I would have to agree with you that we do use our minds (or reason) moreso than our heart. I actually love being in nature and wilderness. It is the only time in which I feel at peace and have value to my life.

          As for QM, I'm still iffy about that but that is a topic for another discussion
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      • Dec 29 2013: Hi, Chris ! Happy to see you too !

        Thank you for framing your argument so intelligently ! :)

        You say :
        Nature is from Latin natura "course of things; [...] the universe," literally "birth," from natus "born," past participle of nasci "to be born," from PIE *gene- "to give birth, beget", thus all of nature is an act of creation (from Latin creatus, past participle of creare "to make, bring forth, produce, beget" ).

        Have you noticed that it's all words concepts notions ?
        Marshall McLuhan said , " we read nature, we don't see nature "
        We are result of our linguistic conditioning.
        But we are not totally mental, thanks God ! When you see/experience nature, does any thought cross your mind at the moment ? You have a feeling, which is not quite yours. Any attempt to describe the feeling looks too over the top, if not pathetic.( it's actually my experience) But there is the grasping after, the message : there is no good/evil justice/injustice , there is no death only life ' as below as above ' and vice-versa.
        What is ' disease ' in nature ? It's just another organism ; nature doesn't discriminate between a human or a fine animal and virus. We do.
        I do :) God knows how i hate diseases , how i fear death !
        It what makes me human, the nature observer. I came out of nature , ready to die ( to be transformed ) peacefully, i inherited no notions of good/evil from nature, but with growing up , my sense of separate self grows and my ego grows inside. Again it's neither good nor evil. It's what it is.
        Can Karma be unjust ? I guess, it's never the option, and if it is the case ' justice ' has no meaning. It makes sense only with its opposite.
        I still think, that there are no good/evil justice/injustice in nature, but in some sense you are right, they do exist in the universe we inhabit, because we built/build/ are building it instantly. I need to make one extra point very clear.
        Would you agree that good/evil justice /injustice is the point of judgment ?
      • Dec 29 2013: cont.

        Is there good/evil ...Above ? If there isn't why should it be Below ? Maybe because we judge ? My guess is that it exists anywhere , it inhabits our mind. We do judge, because we can't do otherwise ; it's the very function of the present evolutionary state of our minds. We can't process information without evaluation and we inbuild wrong/right, good/evil duality in all our models of reality. And what we think it is , it is.
        There is no escape from 'What is real ?' question.
        " Is it the wind moving or is it the flag? The monk answers, neither, its your mind that is moving.'
        I leave you with it :)
        Please don't take me wrong, i am not arguing with you. I merely try to understand.
        Thanks for your help !
      • Dec 29 2013: . How can forgiveness be offered if judgement is not made?

        Love needs no judgement.
      • Dec 29 2013: So... what conclusion we can draw from it ?
        Could it be that good/evil justice/injustice are ego constructs ?

        It's quantum mechanical idea :
        one who acts, the action itself and the result of the action are ONE.
      • Dec 29 2013: depending on what you mean by "above".

        Above is the event horizon for mind, there is nothing (no thing ) above , so is below. I would say Below is the moving image of Above We live in the image, no thing is real, but the attitudes. We perceive good/evil as separate opposites, in fact each only exist by the virtue of its partner, together they must be nothing/zero to mirror the Above.
        It's just a model, it can't be true, but i like it :) I can tell you when this picture appeared in my mind.
        Faust asks the Devil " Who art though ? " Devil offers the paradoxical reply
        " I am part of that spirit which always wills evil and always creates good "
        Goethe reconciled good and evil in one force that moves the image, which is creation. Probably Goethe could process information by resonance only, it's what geniuses do.
        If we could perceive good/evil without separation as nature does as change, justice power judgment...guilt ...you know the litany , would make no sense
        What would be left ? Gratitude for being, joy, love. Paradise at last ! As above as below.

        Thanks for reading this :)
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          Dec 30 2013: Beautifully written!! I wish you inner peace, joy and love (which are one and same) for all time and in all ways. Happy 2014!!!
      • Dec 31 2013: Thank you for your kind words, . . !
        ... joy and love (which are one and same)
        Yes, two words, one feeling :)
        Happy New Year !

        Chris, sorry for hijacking your reply button. :)
        Happy New Year ! ! !

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