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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Charity - thoughts on   Thu 25 Jan 2018, 19:15

The media today is having a puritanical outburst about funds been raised at dinners that are  far from  being all male from what it is reported goes on for charity fund raising at them. In the first place the need for so many charities needs investigation and reflection..... children, the aged, the very sick and war injured ....... what are we about here? All these and others seem to have to rely in people picking those that appeal when in a balanced society we ought to be paying more directly. 

I do not know how charities function other countries - did the communist bloc have them for instance? As a child I admired the Swiss for raising funds post war for refugee children through their national stamps - I collected them.... still in a box somewhere. I used to save my pennies for Barnardo homes - we had little cardboard house in which to do so. Those family unit homes we supported have long been sold off for broader community aims and social support.

We are often asked to give sponsorship money for someone doing something they rather like doing either for itself or for the publicity they reap from it......... our local paper has weekly stories on such.

Some religions demand charitable donations as part of their obligation others just stand with the begging bowl or can in hope........ but don't give cooked rice to the Salvation army in theirs. Charity shops do a grand job with many volunteers but the organisers higher up the scale often have rather large incomes, perks and smart head offices. It's all a mess in my opinion.....or is it all better than it used to be? Res Hist thoughts on this? (Not the all male orgy parties, perhaps ......)
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Thu 25 Jan 2018, 20:40

I suspect big charities are like any other big business in terms of pay & perks for the Great Green Cheeses at the top. My current pet hate is charity clothes collection bags. Read the blurb and you will see that most of the proceeds goes to some non-charitable business. This sits alongside my utter contempt for those who proclaim loudly and with evident self-satisfaction "Charity begins at home". Invariably, they intend it to stop there too.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Thu 25 Jan 2018, 22:34

Priscilla,

I wanted to go further with my comparison of social security, but as this subject is related I will try first to answer on your question on my thoughts.

As Gilgamesh said:
" I suspect big charities are like any other big business in terms of pay & perks for the Great Green Cheeses at the top."
I saw a documentary about the rebuild of Haïti after the quake. And of all the millions spent a big part, perhaps most went to the volunteers themselves. The critique was even about the organisation level. One other charity organisation built prefab houses in wood with the help of the locals it seems for half of the price of the UN workers...if you can believe the documentary...

But in my opinion the state has to provide a social security, which is in most European countries a social security in solidarity (the poor receive relatively more than the rich), especially in the field of health care. A donor kidney , for instance, is as much needed for a poor person as for a rich one. And that is also a form of charity, while the rich ones pay for the poor ones.

In that I am a Socialist, or perhaps, have to verify, a Liberal-Democrat from England? a kind of social democrat liberal?
And don't say I am not aware of the excesses of that system. Some two years ago we had a couple, who didn't pay anymore as tenants...they have devastated our appartment...the friend of hers walking nude in the entrance hall of the building...boasting on café that he could drink and take drugs on the cost of the public welfare....when I called the social securty that they paid anymore the friendly lady said, yes we know that couple, it all started when we found out that they officially lived elsewhere and we can only subvent, when they are residing in our city...in the meantime they had taken "domicile?" on our address and received again both subvention...but hen all was gone for the worse...and the man was only half my age...
But nevertheless the social welcare does its work, as it has to be, even with all these profiteers, while most of the needing people have a real profit from the exercise.
And I know, my parents were undependents, and they received not that much from the state about social security, but that security was also distributed along the solidarity principle. But I explained them, as the "contributing cash" of the independents (zelfstandigenkas) was not suplied with a big amount of contributions, while the independents were taxed on the base of their earnings, and most rich merchants (my parents weren't not rich yet Wink ) had an official low income (as a lot was black income). but nowadays with all those controlling computers on all levels it is hard to do work in black anymore...so the contributions go higher and the "cash?" is more supplied, so the independents now seem to have now a more decent social security...

And about those computers' control...the "free!" press is everywhere and all scandals in or out the social security are rapidly discovered and made public...as the latest in Belgium...
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/13/world/europe/brussels-mayor-yvan-mayeur-scandal.html?_r=0

Have they to be now that harsh on Belgium? I thought that the NY Times was a quality paper? It is nearly UKIP talk...or talk from the nationalist populist Flemish party...
And about bureaucracy I made here or on Historum a comparison between the US bureaucracy and the European one...and it was not that bad for...the European one...but I deviate perhaps we can comment on this in the Brexit thread.


The comments in Belgium (in French)
https://www.rtbf.be/info/belgique/detail_samusocial-de-bruxelles-retour-sur-les-premices-de-l-affaire?id=9627652

And about the organisation (also in French)
http://samusocial.be/


And it is as in the "metoo", now they discover everywhere scandals, and as it is mostly with the Socialists it is a rewarding subject for the populist parties of our country (but perhaps that would be the case in any "free-press" country)
That was the way Hannah Arendts described it, if I recall it well, first the populists allude to all the scandals of the democracy, the populists come in the government, becomes the first party because of the people misled by the populists., the populists, when they have the might, cancel the press freedom and basic democratic rights and reign further, worser than the democracy from before...a folk, a country, a....but I deviate again...

Kind regards for this evening from Paul.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Fri 26 Jan 2018, 10:26

Yes, and as with the Social Welfare thread, unless discussion about charity can be grounded in an historical context there are probably more suitable forums to discuss it on.

The word "charity" of course is a peculiarly Christian slant on a very ancient concept and all the associated activities which have represented it since time immemorial. This doesn't mean however that there has ever been any substantial difference in interpretation of how it has ever manifested itself from long before this slant applied (only in what might have motivated it), and the result has always been both semantically and practically a mish-mash of actions, motives, effects and levels of organisation/disorganisation which, as Priscilla notes, still typifies the activity in general.

Within European history the Christian interpretation borrowed heavily from the two main cultures that had spawned it - Graeco/Roman and Jewish. In the former the term was understood to mean either philanthropy or benevolence, depending on which side of the slash one took as a starting point. "Love of fellow man" had come from the Greek side and by the time of Plato's Academy had evolved from a simple observation regarding human altruism into an actual activity of organised support for the less materially fortunate, something the Academy pioneered by "shaming" politicians into supporting such ventures, and even fund-raising events etc, in fact just as we do today. The Roman "good wishing" slant, by the time of Christianity, had also evolved into a a state-run activity of institutional proportions. A Roman emperor or high dignitary who couldn't demonstrate his "benevolence" wasn't going to last long, and by the late empire in fact a huge proportion of the population was dependent on such benevolence to survive from day to day. The Jewish "Tzedakah" which was also a primary ingredient in the Christian version expanded the duty of benevolence from the obviously rich to every subscriber to the faith, in fact a requisite part of the whole deal without which one couldn't get full membership. Theologically, in other words, there was absolutely no way Christianity could take off as a mainstream religion without institutionalising elements from all three disparate influences into its new social ethos.

For months now I've been virtually wandering around London in the 1880s, thanks to the excellent high definition ordnance survey maps scanned in by the Scottish National Library (with Google Maps open side-by-side for added pathos). What is striking is the proliferation throughout the capital of "alms houses", a feature of the day not confined to London by any means. This was the "affordable housing" of its day and serviced several charitable needs at once - from destitute elderly people for whom the work-house (the other great charitable institution very evident throughout London of the day) would have been a death sentence to families of limited means where a very low wage was all that kept everyone from disaster, to sick and infirm people functional enough to contribute to society but otherwise unable to do so. Where possible I have stopped at each instance of alms-house estate I find and have tried to trace its specific history, how it originated, how it was run, and how long it lasted.

It was always my assumption, mainly because of their usual proximity to church land, that these were primarily owned or even exclusively run by a Church or related religious body. In fact this is something of a misrepresentation of the reality, at least by 1880. These houses, though often on land provided by the church (both CofE and RC, usually for a purchase fee and sometimes even by CPO as in Bermondsey) were more often run by the local Borough or similar council body. The church retained a high-profile presence on their administrative boards, but their tenancy, use, sub-division if required, and forward sale, were firmly within secular council control, who also could wind up the whole arrangement in cases where its partners in the venture didn't meed their obligations, such as the CofE in a famous Holborn case where the whole shebang was transferred from them to a joint venture between a Brewery and the Haberdashers Guild. This resulted in the church suing to get its land back and trying to evict the tenants (fortunately actual charity in its strictest definition won out over the Church and its peculiar version of the concept in this instance).

Funding these ventures was, as can be seen, very much a joint effort and open to tweaking in individual cases - the usual arrangement being that the church or "benevolent body", depending on its own local finances, could contribute through bequeathment and annual donation if means permitted, whereas day-to-day upkeep and bills were shared primarily between the council and the tenants themselves, for which the latter paid peppercorn rents (collected by the church authority in many cases as nominal landlords but totally accountable to the secular council). Occasionally big business or local gentry got involved, but rarely through any long-term commitment. That was to change in the 20th century, something which actually saved them in the end though back in 1880 such a need simply wasn't envisaged.

After all, this loose arrangement could be seen to have worked remarkably well, from when their original counterparts as monastery-funded entities had first fallen into secular commercial orbit thanks to Henry VIII, and right up to the end of the 19th century, when alms-houses were probably at their greatest number in the UK. Even now a surprising number of these have managed to escape redevelopment and German bombs through the years and are amazingly still in existence, though the secular role has now generally been overtaken by trusts (normally originating from one big charitable involvement by a well-heeled patron in the past). The church has long pulled out in any meaningful financial way from their running in almost all cases, as indeed have borough councils, corporations and the like now that alms-houses are no longer covered by the legislation designed primarily to keep work-houses going, though the secular body still retains a legal commitment normally to providing the infrastructural services on which these people depend.

The charity persists, in other words, and more impressively this unique form of charity has persisted in terms of quite specific ethos and intent, throughout all these huge social changes over the centuries. And also when one looks at it from a purely funding point of view - whether the funds were raised through tithes, rates, taxes, or indeed tax write-offs - the money as well as the will to keep them going was always ultimately firmly rooted in secular society. The church once played a big role in administering them and determining their number and need (monasteries an even bigger role before that), a responsibility that later fell to lay bodies of authority, but there would have been nothing to administer by anyone if the concept and its cost had not first been accepted by the community in general, then just as now.

It harks back to the "benefit of religion" cart and horse argument, I know. Who takes credit for altruism in the end of the day - in fact who should ever need to? What is remarkable nevertheless is how this instance highlights how such altruism, regardless of what one ascribes it to, can survive in an amazingly similar manifestation for millennia, if allowed. For those who might (rightly) question how charitable organisations are administered and funded, or who (rightly) question the moral and often less than moral input into how participation in charitable ventures may manifest itself, I think one can take solace from the example above of how - despite the best efforts of humans to sabotage such ventures - these all too human exercises in altruism betray in their sheer longevity something of far deeper origin in our psyche that transcends such - in the absolutely long term - petty quibbles.


Last edited by nordmann on Fri 26 Jan 2018, 11:53; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Fri 26 Jan 2018, 11:51

Thank you for bringing us back on track - the depth in our psyche - needs some thought. Charity is a huge topic on which to reflect. There is, yes, a need to give and share individually - in material terms, anyway. What further bothers me is a more modern problem - or one within my own limited experience in that people may be generous in kind, and always have been, but far less so with their time. And a change in our use  and sharing of our time is worth a thread of its own for  historical reflection. I am having grey thoughts to match a grey day so will stop there for a bit.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Fri 26 Jan 2018, 12:24

It seems a truism that the more someone has of something the less likely they are to want to share it - we can see it in societies as it relates to material wealth and possessions, but it may be true of time also. For all our very recent modern notions that we are all fast losing our free time it doesn't take much depth of comparison with life expectancies and working conditions of just a few generations ago to see the rather obvious flaw in this identification of trend. And as with material possessions, it is often shaming to see how willing those who traditionally had least were more open to voluntarily sharing or donating it to another.

As if to emphasise your allusion to a moral and efficacious decline in charity in Britain it is worth looking at the actual context in which such complicated arrangements as the alms-houses survived, and even prospered in Britain, even as their original benefactors - the church and religious institutions - were declining in influence in this field as Britain advanced through the 18th and 19th centuries. Other examples of extraordinarily successful secular charities, pretty much unique to Britain at the time and often pioneered there too, such as the Foundling Hospital (a "home", not even for orphaned children but actually for babies abandoned at birth), Greenwich Hospital, the Lying-In Hospitals, the Royal Hospitals, etc, could all be used to indicate an extraordinarily high willingness on the part of ordinary British people to subscribe generally to the foundation and maintenance of institutions not to be found at anything like the same level at the time in the rest of Europe, and easily well in excess of any such measurable altruism from today. Proof of this commitment was to be found in the years during and immediately after the Seven Years War which had brought Britain to a point of absolute penury and tremendous social unrest, even to the brink of revolution itself. For ordinary people destitution had become the norm and poverty reached such epidemic proportions that economists of the period frequently proclaimed the entire British economy dead in its tracks. Yet throughout these years charitable contributions went up, not down, and the very same pattern occurred a generation or so later during the Napoleonic Wars and their aftermath.

Giuseppe Baretti, an Italian observer of English society in particular during the 18th century and whose accounts are generally accurate, noted this at the time concerning the English and charity:

"Their humanity has been clearly proved during the present war. A voluntary subscription was made by the whole nation to clothe the many thousands of their enemies who were kept prisoners in this island, and who, without these liberal contributions from all classes, would for the most part, have died of cold last winter, which was very severe. What nation, ancient or modern, has ever given the world such an example of heroic charity? . . .The truth is that the English do their utmost to make money; but once they have made it, they spend it freely and will give it to you if you ask them for it . . . when they are convinced that you are an honest man; whether you are a foreigner or one of themselves, they make a point of supporting you and advancing you."

Compare this with modern British society and its notions of a duty of care to outsiders, let alone its actual enemies, as most vocally expressed by ordinary citizens. Charity may appear to be diminished in comparison to what went before, but if it is then it is squarely within the context of a change of self-perception, and self-assessment of both identity and obligation, that is as fundamentally different from Britain 250 years ago as two distinct countries could ever be today who share little by way of ethos, values, or even history.

That it exists at all, in any meaningful manifestation, especially when looked at in this context, actually proves its obdurate persistence as a human trait in my view, and its difficulty to abandon as a fundamental human principle, even when society apparently facilitates its demise. Not pretty in its current form, I grant you that, but there is much optimism for the human race to be got from acknowledging that it is still there at all, and especially when - as with alms-houses, the Foundling Hospital etc which have continued seamlessly into our modern age in new guise but identical ethos to that of their founders - one sees that the very best expressions of human altruism are almost impossible to sabotage by anything as merely incidental as economics, social upheaval, war, and even endemic nationalism, racism, promoted indifference to others and obsession with self, or in fact any prevailing bigotry against those "outside" normal social scope.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Fri 26 Jan 2018, 14:04

@nordmann wrote:
The word "charity" of course is a peculiarly Christian slant on a very ancient concept ...

Does the word caritas mean "love" or "virtue"? Is there a difference? Does it matter?
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Fri 26 Jan 2018, 14:33

"Caritas" linguistically is an orphaned term and means "(something) held (or deemed) dear". It is reckoned that in its original use in Christian theology it had been added to a Latin noun that gave it more meaning, such as "humanitas" or similar (which brings it into line semantically with "philanthros" and distances it from "benevolente"). This is a theological assumption however and was a matter of debate even as early as the time of Marcion & Co when it had already been reduced to a single theological univerbal term combining love and virtue, within the strict definitions of both that theology demanded.

I don't believe it really matters that much at all, since in the case of charity it was far more relevant (and still is) how it should manifest itself in observant Christian behaviour than in whatever semantic attribution could be said to be best, even for the theologians. Personally I reckon there had been at some point an intentional decision to keep its semantic interpretation as vague as possible so as not to unnecessarily offend or perplex Greek, Roman, or Jewish intellectual Christians of the day who may have placed too much emphasis on tracing the concept back to their own historically peculiar versions of the idea. The vaguer it could be made the better chance there was to draw new theological conclusions and doctrine using it as a premise.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Fri 26 Jan 2018, 16:16

Cold charity makes sense when obligation is the spur, stocking up on heavenly Brownie points is no better,yet in  other circumstances as you mention, nordman, I have witnessed  many acts of kindness among grinding poor - as is also biblically  mentioned  action of the widow handing over her mite. Perhaps it is still going strong but through many ways - Bob Geldorf's TV marathon funding show was a triumph which spawned many more. I di dnot know about historical the generosity to prisoners following war - but yes, I know of similar in another unlikely context that I like t think of as acts of kindness rather than charity.

Charity shops are an interesting progression from just handing out stuff directly - on the face of it there are few people one can give directly too unless one seeks out the homeless. And in the east, donation obligation is not grudging - entertainment to wring it out is not ever present but often a side incentive.(Once  though we went to a dinner where everything  there was auctioned - including the table and chairs  which became somewhat obligatory if one wanted food and a night out.)  I am rambling and getting nowhere  but  thank you for the info above.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Fri 26 Jan 2018, 16:30

@nordmann wrote:

I don't believe it really matters that much at all, since in the case of charity it was far more relevant (and still is) how it should manifest itself in observant Christian behaviour than in whatever semantic attribution could be said to be best, even for the theologians.

Of course - that really goes without saying, doesn't it? Or, if we must say anything at all, best quote someone who had a way with words.

As somebody once wrote:
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

But cold as charity is an apt phrase. And without love "charity" avails us nothing.

Genuinely giving a helping hand surely is good, but "rescuing" is a dodgy game - anyone else here heard of the Karpman Drama Triangle? Any thoughts on "virtue signalling" or "parading one's compassion"?
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Fri 26 Jan 2018, 17:27

Either side of the main entrance to the school I attended were a pair of alms houses - for (from memory of writing out "Bill's Will" as a punishment)  - see here  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Adams_(haberdasher)
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Fri 26 Jan 2018, 19:29

@Temperance wrote:


Of course - that really goes without saying, doesn't it? Or, if we must say anything at all, best quote someone who had a way with words.

As somebody once wrote:
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

But cold as charity is an apt phrase. And without love "charity" avails us nothing.

Genuinely giving a helping hand surely is good, but "rescuing" is a dodgy game - anyone else here heard of the Karpman Drama Triangle? Any thoughts on "virtue signalling" or "parading one's compassion"?

I'm not sure the human impulse to be kind is really designed to "avail one" of anything, as if a reward can be defined and attributed and that this is the primary logic behind the impulse - that seems a very religious concept. At least historically it never seems to have done so - regardless of religion people have behaved altruistically. The Christian angst about the temperature of the impulse must surely be a private and unique Christian thing (maybe Moslem too from talking to them)? All I know as distributor and recipient in recent years is we never gave a flying fart about whatever temperature applied in the mind of the giver. Only that they existed.

@Priscilla wrote:
Cold charity makes sense when obligation is the spur.

All charity makes sense as long as people are people and there are some less well off than others. To suggest that it makes sense only when mental coercion or threat is involved is to misunderstand charity, I reckon. At least based on historical evidence.

Someone who apparently knew what they were talking about allegedly once wrote:
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Christians? Yes, apparently, if the fruit of their faith when it comes to charity is angst over the temperature of their altruistic urge.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Sat 27 Jan 2018, 02:29

@nordmann wrote:
@Temperance wrote:


Of course - that really goes without saying, doesn't it? Or, if we must say anything at all, best quote someone who had a way with words.

As somebody once wrote:
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

But cold as charity is an apt phrase. And without love "charity" avails us nothing.

Genuinely giving a helping hand surely is good, but "rescuing" is a dodgy game - anyone else here heard of the Karpman Drama Triangle? Any thoughts on "virtue signalling" or "parading one's compassion"?

I'm not sure the human impulse to be kind is really designed to "avail one" of anything, as if a reward can be defined and attributed and that this is the primary logic behind the impulse - that seems a very religious concept. At least historically it never seems to have done so - regardless of religion people have behaved altruistically. The Christian angst about the temperature of the impulse must surely be a private and unique Christian thing (maybe Moslem too from talking to them)? All I know as distributor and recipient in recent years is we never gave a flying fart about whatever temperature applied in the mind of the giver. Only that they existed.

@Priscilla wrote:
Cold charity makes sense when obligation is the spur.

All charity makes sense as long as people are people and there are some less well off than others. To suggest that it makes sense only when mental coercion or threat is involved is to misunderstand charity, I reckon. At least based on historical evidence.

Someone who apparently knew what they were talking about allegedly once wrote:
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Christians? Yes, apparently, if the fruit of their faith when it comes to charity is angst over the temperature of their altruistic urge.

Fair comment. I for one am suitably ashamed. Really.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Sat 27 Jan 2018, 09:54

Temp wrote:
Fair comment. I for one am suitably ashamed. Really.

A surprisingly on-topic comment. Shame and charity are inextricably linked, and often quite visibly so.

For example, when an existing machinery of obligation to distribute charity has been suddenly dismantled or removed - such as after the dissolution of the monasteries in Britain or the final collapse of the grain dole system in imperial Rome (which was older than the empire itself and had started in a quite non-altruistic fashion as an intended temporary relief measure enacted for self-serving political reasons by the Gracchi brothers during the Republic) - then history shows that its abolition is rarely followed up with the establishment of a correspondingly institutionalised system.  This leaves a vacuum of sorts in which those who depended on institutionalised largesse and charity haven't gone away and a method of meeting their needs still has to be urgently found, often with some rather innovative and "out of the box" thinking employed. Charity must be re-instituted in some form but without recourse to institutions powerful enough to coerce compliance politically, using whatever remains at one's disposal to get it going as effectively and quickly as possible. Shame - often induced through religious means or otherwise exploiting existing social mores - plays a big role normally in such solutions.

The dissolution, for example, swept away in one fell swoop the primary enablers of charitable acts with which society in general could engage in Britain, with no provision to replace them at all. The effects of this were immediately felt and Henry's administration seemed startled that their action could so quickly have led to serious social unrest from this quarter. They had anticipated a religious backlash and taken steps to nip it in the bud, but had never seriously considered the social implications of creating a huge body of embittered and alienated "armies" of impoverished people, a situation that led to several rather bloody riots, assassinations of officials and local uprisings in which ideology played no apparent role and the only thing that united the perpetrators was that they were destitute. The government took this turn of events seriously enough to address it initially with some very draconian laws, mainly directed against the "vagabond" class they had inadvertently created and correctly identified as a new potential "enemy of the state" (the term vagabond enters legal history at this point as an outright criminal classification, specifically someone who has begged in two or more distinct locations - ie. homeless and poor). A convicted "vagabond" faced severe punishment - execution or being fire-branded with a "V" -  the number of such punishments so suddenly escalating in incidence that the situation was fast developing from widespread social unrest into a nationwide powder keg of barely concealed murderous hatred against the authorities poised to bring everything down when it went off, king and all. Even by Henry's often brutal standards these acts startled contemporary observers in their severity, and in no time he was receiving petitions from various noblemen, in particular the Earl of Hertford, Edward Seymour (later Duke of Somerset), who acted as their chief spokesman at court. Edward's letters to Henry, couched in the obligatory language of extolment for Henry's great wisdom and benevolence, urged the king to recognise and remedy the situation that had developed which, in starkly political terms, threatened the stability of the entire country if not addressed. He helpfully suggested that Henry consider facilitating parishes in assuming responsibilities for the poor hitherto the province of monasteries, and even went so far as to hint that posterity might not be kind to the king if he didn't play along. He was shaming Henry into action, and it worked. Two Poor Acts were enacted with the king as their official author which at least served to recognise that the problem existed and established the parish-based network of institutionalised charity that survived right up to the 20th century (and persists in residue even today in some parts of the country).

After Henry's death, and now elevated to the new king's chief mentor and advisor, the Duke then followed through with his own Poor Act in 1547 which further regulated distribution of alms and watered down the definition of "vagabond" so that these could, as a valid appeal, plead destitution in mitigation of their "crime" (normally that of begging). Then, in 1552, this was superseded by The Poor Act which retained begging as a criminal offence but went a little further in that it created the office of "alms collector", one per parish and paid for by the crown, whose job it was to assess and levy amounts from those who could afford it in a parish and ensure that it was distributed equitably to those in need.

This didn't work, of course, and nor could it ever in practical terms - the principal impediment being the subjective assessment of "spare" funds a better-off individual could afford and then the almost impossible task of getting this money out of them.

Enter "shame" again. An individual who had been assessed as a likely source of charity but who didn't play ball, could not (or at least would not) be legally indicted for their failure to comply - mainly because the worse the offender the more likely it was that they were figures of power and authority themselves. A spate of such prosecutions would have been even more politically destabilising than the original problem the Act had been designed to address. Instead the law now stipulated that those who refused to part with their pennies must attend "an audience with the clergy of the parish" in which their Christian duties were to be iterated and, if that didn't do the trick, an "audience with the bishop", and then an "archbishop" if needs be.

How much this measure was actually ever used isn't clear. It seems that its inclusion in the Act alone served to prompt most individuals into cooperating, playing as it did on their sense of Christian shame should they refuse. Those who obstinately refused to play along risked being ostracised by their peers as "shameless", itself a method of shaming (shaming them into compliance for fear of being seen publicly as shamefully refusing to acknowledge their Christian shame, as it were).

While it might appear that this was a very innovative and spontaneous measure in legal terms, it was in fact the reintroduction of a very old coercion method that had once been employed by religious institutions now abolished. The state had recognised that it had no comparable method of inducing shame so readily, so had simply resurrected that portion of the old system, appointed new religious enablers, and then sat back. The state remained "sitting back" for quite a while, so far back that its role and responsibilities regarding charity (which it continued to exercise in the form of laws) could be discounted in a public imagination which identified these aspects of the machinery of charity almost completely with the church, the "source" of charitable initiatives and systems as far as most people were concerned, largely because it had been placed legally at the front line in this milieu.

It was another two hundred years or so before the next great wave of "shaming" began, this time prompted largely by "enlightened" private individuals who identified charitable needs not being met and who, rather than direct this shaming against ordinary individuals, targeted the state itself and its moral duty to care for its citizens. Theological coercion was employed as before (and worked still to great effect), but was now augmented with new avenues of approach involving civic responsibility and what might be termed "social morality" as the crowbar with which to prise funds and action from those with means enough to spare both. This is still more or less where we are now, and many private individuals' concept of "charity", what it entails, how it is conducted, and - crucially - who is deserving of it, whether it might be prompted by altruism or a sense of duty, is all formed through this prism which has been fashioned as much with shame as with any other more benign appeal to altruistic impulse.

A similar development of the concept is to be found in almost every developed nation, as are to be found very close parallels when one long-standing source of widespread charity is quite suddenly removed, as is often the case with the collapse of any regime. It is rarely that shame is not employed as a guaranteed fail-safe fallback option when other more refined methods which might appeal purely to the altruist in us are not readily available. It is rarely outside of religious and theological language that a "reward" of which one can "avail" is mooted, though in evolutionary terms such a concept can be argued to exist, where it applies not to individuals but to the species as a whole. And in support of that evolutionary claim one can argue that its validity is proven by the fact that "shame" in not complying with this innately rooted altruism exists to be exploited in our psyche at all. The instinct of altruism as exemplified by what we we term "charity" goes hand in glove with our instinctive "shame" in denying that instinct for egotistical and self-centred reasons as individuals, or even our "shame" in assuming that a "reward" is merited by the individual for having simply done the innately "natural" and "right" thing.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Mon 29 Jan 2018, 13:48

Mmm. What about the Protestant dismissal of "good works" as being utterly useless for one's personal salvation? Did that help let people nicely off the hook, I wonder?

I was not wandering hopelessly off-topic with my mention of the Victim-Rescuer-Persecutor (ie Controller) Triangle. In wanting to "rescue"  a "victim" we are often serving our own interests. And when we like to think we are being "virtuous" and "charitable", that can be a hard thing to examine, let alone admit.

The original religious teaching on all this was pretty sound; surely not even you would dispute that? I am not Bible-thumping here, but the relevant quotation is perhaps worth looking at.


Matthew 25:40-45King James Version (KJV)

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Mon 29 Jan 2018, 14:00

@Temperance wrote:


In wanting to "rescue"  a "victim" we are often serving our own interests. And when we like to think we are being "virtuous" and "charitable", that can be a hard thing examine or admit.


Not difficult at all in an evolutionary sense, where it has long been understood that altruism serves "the selfish gene", as Richard Dawkins described it. He has later regretted using that exact terminology as it has been so often misinterpreted, and often he suspected on purpose, by critics of evolutionary theory to the extent that for them the entire concept is invalid (despite the evidence), or at least unsavoury, uncomfortable to think about, and therefore any slight cause to deride it is welcome. For "selfish" he could as easily have substituted "survivalist" (each infer a purpose to the gene that it does not actually possess, only apparently when examining its obvious success in surviving at all). However it is still worth reading, and rather takes the wind out of anyone's sails who may mistakenly think that altruism on their part means that they are being "good". As vessels in which the gene resides as it perpetuates itself they are of course being "effective" and "facilitating", so "good" in that sense certainly - just not the way religions like to interpret the term.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Mon 29 Jan 2018, 14:51

I've read Dawkins and I think he is a brilliant scientist; and in no way would I dispute evolutionary theory. But isn't the message in Matthew possibly the next step on our evolutionary journey: the movement away from the urgings of the oldest "reptilian" parts of our brain - the sex (reproduction) and aggression (survival), or the me, me, me (my genes, my genes, my genes) promptings - towards something that is, in the long term, actually more useful: genuine "altruism"? Can (true) Christianity or humanist or spiritual imaginative thinking (chose your own label) actually be considered to be part of evolution? It will be interesting to see who gets wiped out. Who are actually the new dinosaurs who cannot or will not adapt?


EDIT: I always end up at this point thinking that I am talking a load of crap - crap that moreover betrays that I understand nothing. However, that said, I shall resist the temptation to delete the above. I do believe some humans are stuck in reptilian brain mode (there's a huge and very stupid, but extremely dangerous, lizard on the loose at the moment) - and it's God help us all if the reptilian thinking (if it can be called thinking) wins out.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Mon 29 Jan 2018, 15:23

I think you're being wholly unfair to lizards - who may in fact be the most altruistic and charitable entities in the entire animal kingdom by their own logic. Who are we to judge?

Seriously - it is best not to assume that the human brain has a "reptilian core". Or that Trump is proof of it, etc etc. Trump, like it or not, is a human - and unfortunately a not too untypical human at that. And even worse, there are even worse specimens of humanity "on the loose" not just at the moment but always. While genetically we (as well as all mammals) share a huge amount of DNA with reptiles, we both have diverged and gone our separate ways and what we do with that common genetic code isn't quite the same anymore either. And any self-respecting lizard would probably hasten to politely remind you that they're not all about "sex" and "aggression" either. There's quite a lot of sunbathing and taking it handy for starters!

Imaginative thinking as a part of evolution doesn't make sense to me either - so if I understand your question then I suspect the answer has naturally to be "no". As an aspect however to the evolved brain it makes perfect sense, so is not quite outside evolutionary processes and how these are understood, but unfortunately what constitutes "imagination" is a rather moot scientific point and impossible to assign to (or distinguish from) an evolutionary role such as genes, DNA, cells etc easily can.

It's probably a little deflating to think (imaginatively) that altruism has no actual "spiritual" function except of course that which we artificially ascribe it, but in the grander scheme of things one could also (imaginatively) see it in fact as quite liberating to embrace one's innate altruism without all that baggage anyway. Either way altruistic behaviour seems unavoidable and - rampaging lizard people aside - seems as typical an aspect of our instinctive behaviour as "making things up" so we can make sense of things. It's all part of the genetic parcel we've inherited - and are passing on (if the Lizard Man doesn't screw up our chances in the meantime).
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Mon 29 Jan 2018, 15:48

Apologies to all offended lizards.

It is sometimes difficult to work out what they are up to: this pair could be mating, fighting, or yes -  she might indeed be just topping up her tan. Or all three at once, I suppose.


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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Mon 29 Jan 2018, 20:09

@nordmann wrote:
I think you're being wholly unfair to lizards - who may in fact be the most altruistic and charitable entities in the entire animal kingdom by their own logic. Who are we to judge?

Seriously - it is best not to assume that the human brain has a "reptilian core". Or that Trump is proof of it, etc etc. Trump, like it or not, is a human - and unfortunately a not too untypical human at that. And even worse, there are even worse specimens of humanity "on the loose" not just at the moment but always. While genetically we (as well as all mammals) share a huge amount of DNA with reptiles, we both have diverged and gone our separate ways and what we do with that common genetic code isn't quite the same anymore either. And any self-respecting lizard would probably hasten to politely remind you that they're not all about "sex" and "aggression" either. There's quite a lot of sunbathing and taking it handy for starters!

Imaginative thinking as a part of evolution doesn't make sense to me either - so if I understand your question then I suspect the answer has naturally to be "no". As an aspect however to the evolved brain it makes perfect sense, so is not quite outside evolutionary processes and how these are understood, but unfortunately what constitutes "imagination" is a rather moot scientific point and impossible to assign to (or distinguish from) an evolutionary role such as genes, DNA, cells etc easily can.

It's probably a little deflating to think (imaginatively) that altruism has no actual "spiritual" function except of course that which we artificially ascribe it, but in the grander scheme of things one could also (imaginatively) see it in fact as quite liberating to embrace one's innate altruism without all that baggage anyway. Either way altruistic behaviour seems unavoidable and - rampaging lizard people aside - seems as typical an aspect of our instinctive behaviour as "making things up" so we can make sense of things. It's all part of the genetic parcel we've inherited - and are passing on (if the Lizard Man doesn't screw up our chances in the meantime).

nordmann,

isn't altruism not embedded in the human mind? Doing something for another for the wellbeing of the group? You will say it's again Dawkins' selfish gene? But in our last discussion with Temperance and Priscilla, Temperance asking a way for happiness, I was just reading about ways for happiness by some psychologes and social behaviour thinkers. And they recommended that doing something for another was a strong way to reach some happiness, among two others if I recall it well. Priscilla said that it was contentment, again if I recall it well. I don't know if Temperance followed my advice? Wink
But is that happiness or contentment not a prove that genetics, nature, God has put that in our brain for the wellbeing of the humans as a whole, altruistic to survive? Or will Dawkins it turn again into a "selfish" kind of action, the survival of the selfish gene by altruistic behaviour?

Kind regards to both from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Mon 29 Jan 2018, 20:14

Paul wrote:
You will say it's again Dawkins' selfish gene?

Go back and read again and you'll see that's the opposite to what I said.

Otherwise I agree with you.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Tue 30 Jan 2018, 07:56

Paul wrote:
 And they recommended that doing something for another was a strong way to reach some happiness, among two others if I recall it well. Priscilla said that it was contentment, again if I recall it well. I don't know if Temperance followed my advice?  Wink  

I'm not quite sure what purpose  the "wink" emoticon serves in the above. The advice given, although no doubt well meant, is simplistic. I have been aware for most of my adult life (I think) that "doing something for another"  - or for others - can be the way to genuine happiness and contentment, whether in one's work or in one's personal life. But it can also be a trap for the individual who does not, in Delphic terms, "know" him or herself. The internet is full of articles on "co-dependency", but the following book is a serious academic study and cannot be dismissed as mere psychobabble for unhappy women.



http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738571.001.0001/acprof-9780199738571-chapter-004


Pathological altruism is a construct describing the willingness of an individual to place the needs of others above him- or herself to the point of causing harm, whether physical, psychological, or both, to the purported altruist. Codependency can be viewed as a form of pathological altruism. The study of codependency has been hampered by limited agreement as to what it is, whether it even exists, and a lack of validated psychometric instruments to study it. This chapter suggests codependency is best viewed as a behavior and not a diagnosis, facilitated by the inability to tolerate negative affect. This chapter will review the concept of codependency, comment on its roots in empathy and altruism, explore its potential neurobiological, genetic, and evolutionary basis, and make suggestions for future research.

I am reading a lot at the moment about malignant narcissism. There are individuals who seem to be totally lacking in what Shakespeare called "the milk of human kindness". But the terms are confusing me - some seem to think that the narcissist, the sociopath and the psychopath learn their behaviour; other experts are convinced that these conditions are "genetic" - not the "selfish" gene, but the "twisted" gene. There are humans who are not quite human in the usual evolutionary terms. Simon Baron-Cohen, an expert in developmental psychopathology at the University of Cambridge (not a psychobabbler), is exploring new ideas about empathy, and is attempting to put empathy under the microscope - or rather the modern-day gadgetry of functional resonance imaging - fMRI (not a typo). He is looking at, among other things, the role of "mirror neurons" and of the functioning of that region of the brain called the "amygdala". The amygdalae (we have two - one in each hemisphere) appear to play a key role in emotional learning. but some people's amygdalae differ from what is the "norm". Or is the "norm" actually the pathological? Now there's a thought. Baron-Cohen explores the "empathy spectrum" in his book Zero Degrees of Empathy. He believes, as I understand it, that empathy can be taught. If only. But, as noted, other experts disagree, and suggest that when one meets a full-blown malignant narcissist or sociopath one should head for the hills. Mmm.

I've just done Baron-Cohen's empathy test. Most women score about 47 - I got 61 and am told: "You have an above average ability for understanding how other people feel and for responding appropriately. You know how to treat people with care and sensitivity.

In other words I am a complete mug, but not, I hope, a "pathological altruist".

This is a scrappy message, but I've only just got up and am still half asleep.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Tue 30 Jan 2018, 08:54

I'm not comfortable speaking ill of people doing others a good turn, but in my experience it is dangerous to assume that all those engaged in altruistic activity - especially very visible activity - are always being all that altruistic really. But then I think that's something we've all seen for ourselves over the years - and it just seems to go with the charity thing, at least as a social exercise. Among those who one might privately question if they really should be involved at all in such communal ventures are people who certainly fit the profiles you mention, Temp.

I would have one small caveat however concerning even the most objectionable or questionable motives (the latter often a question of mental health too) - and that is that I have seen also that some people over time improve their motive, outlook, engagement and the quality of their service despite having started out for the most dubious of reasons. And the opposite occurs too. A typical example of the former is someone forced to engage (eg. community service sentences, sent by their school, etc) who starts with resentment and ends up putting everyone else to shame (inescapable element in social charity) with their selflessness and energy. A typical example of the other extreme however is often someone with strong "religious" motives who is also apt to use terms like "it's my duty", "it's the Lord's bidding, etc" who - unlike the community service person - has never actually heard that judgement and instruction handed out to them, and secretly knows that underneath it all the whole thing regarding being sent to do this "duty" is really just all in their own head. They are the ones who will resent being in the company of people with more sensible or straightforward reasons for being there and who know this about them too. In my experience they are often therefore the least dependable in the long term in ventures that require a bit of time and stamina to provide, and first to provide an excuse to absent themselves (finding something else their "Lord" wants them to do is a popular one).

There are certainly narcissistic tendencies on display that I have witnessed, as well as examples of the co-dependency behaviour cited above. But the bottom line is - as you say - that those best acquainted with themselves in Delphic terms, even if they exhibit signs of such behaviour, tend to last the pace and could be said in hindsight to have had the most genuinely altruistic attitude throughout. The majority of people however (and I hope I'm amongst that number) simply "stumble into" involvement for a mixed bag of reasons, surprise themselves with their staying power and personal altruism as revealed in patches, and eventually "stumble out" again for an equally mixed bag of reasons, never having really had the opportunity or time to behave in a self-congratulatory fashion, and therefore avoiding self-admonishment etc when retiring back into self-preservation mode.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Tue 30 Jan 2018, 10:26

Two  great posts here, Temp and nord, both turning  again the ground of the garden of my mind since I was quite young - well about eighteen. I have neither the language skills nor erudition to contribute but thank you both for refreshing my own reflections. Another yump from Delphi is 'Nothing in Excess,'  so I'll stop there. Serious regards, P.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Tue 30 Jan 2018, 10:36

Empathy is of course closely bound up with charity. Whilst the term charity is now mostly used along the lines of giving help to those that need it, throughout much of the past 2000 years, at least in Christendom, it rather referred to something more like empathy, tolerance and understanding, or Shakespeare's 'milk of human kindness'.

St Paul placed great emphasis on charity: "So faith, hope, charity remain, these three; but the greatest of these is charity" (1 Corithians 13). His usage of the word charity came direct from the John's gospel (1 John 4), Θεὸς ἀγάπη ἐστίν  or Deus caritas est, which in the King James Version is translated as: "God is love". Here the love of God is a spiritual love that is extended from God to man and then reflected by man (who is made in the image of God), back to God. God gives man the power to act as God acts (God is love), man then reflects God's power in his own human actions towards others (brotherly love).

In the King James Bible St Paul's words are rendered as "faith, hope, love, ... the greatest of these is love", although KJV isn't consistent in its translation of the idea of caritas/ἀγάπη - sometimes it renders caritas as charity, othertimes as love - but most modern English translations just use love throughout, despite love's other meanings. However when Henry VIII (no slouch when it came to Bible study) addressed the last Parliament of his reign and quoted St Paul in admonishing his subjects for their lack of religious tolerance and brotherly love, he clearly used the word charity in the sense of mutual love/tolerance/understanding, rather than in the sense of giving practical aid and help:

"Saint Paul saith to the Corinthians, in the thirteenth chapter, charity is gentle, charity is not envious, charity is not proud, and so forth, in the said chapter. Behold then what love and charity is amongst you, when the one calleth the other heretic and anabaptist, and he calleth him again, papist, hypocrite, and pharisee. Be these tokens of charity amongst you? Are these the signs of fraternal love between you? No, no. I assure you, that this lack of charity amongst yourselves will be the hindrance and assuaging of the fervent love between us, as I said before, except this wound be salved, and clearly made whole. I must needs judge the fault and occasion of this discord to be partly by the negligence of you, the fathers, and preachers of the spirituality.... "

Henry VIII, speech to Parliament, 24 December 1545 (quoted in Dodd's 'Church History of England' Vol.1, 1839).
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Tue 30 Jan 2018, 14:52

Yes, the whole idea of "caritas" is very important. That's why I posted the following:

@Temperance wrote:
@nordmann wrote:
The word "charity" of course is a peculiarly Christian slant on a very ancient concept ...

Does the word caritas mean "love" or "virtue"? Is there a difference? Does it matter?

I wondered whether instead of "charity", or Tyndale's translation of "love", Saint Paul was actually thinking of something Greek. The Roman "virtus" came to mean not just "manliness" or "valour", but human excellence. I'm not sure if virtus and caritas - both Latin words - are related/synonymous. Probably not. I don't think Saint Paul meant that, but then, perhaps he did. Was the Roman ideal not love exactly, but akin to the Greek agape - love as the service of others? Is Saint Paul's charity (caritas) really agape? Did Saint Paul get his Greek wrong? (He did sometimes, I believe). Or did Saint John mess up? Paul didn't get the word from John's Gospel, by the way - Paul was writing decades before John: his letter to the Corinthians was written sometime between AD 53 - AD 57. John's Gospel came much later - around AD 90 - 120. No one knows for sure. Not one of the New Testament writers was a first-rate Greek scholar. One of the Popes - I think it was Pope Paul III - told the theology students in Rome never to read anything written by Saint Paul because his awful Greek would spoil their style. It's all a bit of a muddle. But Paul was right - doing good works simply to be seen to be a "good" person - one who is good at sticking to the letter of religious law - isn't actually doing much good to anyone.

I like the idea of "virtu" actually - human excellence. Humanism at its best? But Saint Paul and nordmann are both right (now there's an unlikely partnership) you can run around doing "good works" (especially when the cameras are present) until you are blue in the face, but real "charity", or love, or excellence is often found in the kids who will cheerfully clean the toilets and finish the washing-up and talk to the clients (I hate that word), rather than down to them. Without charity, charity just gets right up people's noses, if you see what I mean.

Henry VIII was an arch-manipulator - one of history's great malignant narcissists - everything was done for himself and his own ends. Religion was simply a useful tool. (Narcissists by the way, are ruthless, evil people - not just silly girls posting selfies of their bottoms online).
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Tue 30 Jan 2018, 15:02

I thought, though of course it depends on whose transcription/translation one refers to, that St Paul actually used the word agape (ἀγάπη).

Thomas Aquinas certainly did not simply equate charity/caritas with love did he? As I understand it he thought love was a not a virtue but a passion, and accordingly potentially dangerous. But I'm rather out of my depth with all this.

And reading Henry's plea for charity and religious tolerance, I just thought bloody hypocrite!
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Tue 30 Jan 2018, 15:09

Well, it's all Greek to me. MM!

Henry was just doing what malignant narcissists (sociopaths) do best. So was Cromwell, for all his learning of the New Testament off by heart. It was a battle between them in the end - nasty bastards, the pair of them. Cromwell lost, of course, and left Henry to rampage on alone. (Sorry, Hilary - but Thomas More had them both sussed out. He said of the brilliant, charming, young narcissist Henry in 1525:  “If my head should win him a castle in France, it should not fail to go.”)

More was a sincere seeker after truth - elitist and stuck-up maybe, but sincere. Great believer in human excellence - that's why he had to go.


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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Tue 30 Jan 2018, 15:15

It may be somewhere up there but I mention here compassion as an accelerator.  But perhaps not impetus....... I have just heard of a situation that makes my heart bleed but i can see no way out to actually help- not without stepping in the troubled waters with a big stride  and unsure what the out wash could lead to - possibly more damage. I cannot be more specific but I get to more hear of an undercurrent life in our area than most. My compassion alone will do no one any good - apart from my being a good listener without judgment.

Many people might have all the mod cons, nice little houses, full Sky packages and all the other stuff,  yet the tales coming my way of a web of drink, drugs, abuse, violence and child neglect  and worse seem little different from  what  I often heard about as a child  as happening  in our local stews and slums of awful poverty now long gone. Not having a good day.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Tue 30 Jan 2018, 15:20

Surely ' agape' was the term used for religious love - especially at communion and a very important term in the early church....  will now get back in my box.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Tue 30 Jan 2018, 15:33

Greeks had six  words for love. Trust the Greeks to make everything as complicated as possible:


How Do You Say "Love" in Greek?


4. Agape, or love for everyone:

The fourth love, and perhaps the most radical, was agape or selfless love. This was a love that you extended to all people, whether family members or distant strangers. Agape was later translated into Latin as caritas, which is the origin of our word "charity."

C.S. Lewis referred to it as "gift love," the highest form of Christian love. But it also appears in other religious traditions, such as the idea of mettā or "universal loving kindness" in Theravāda Buddhism.

There is growing evidence that agape is in a dangerous decline in many countries. Empathy levels in the U.S. have declined sharply over the past 40 years, with the steepest fall occurring in the past decade. We urgently need to revive our capacity to care about strangers.


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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Tue 30 Jan 2018, 15:50

And worth remembering a word not born out of theological thinking but natural philosophy and observation of human behaviour. That's probably why the concept was complicated and less inclined to lend itself easily to simplistic religious interpretation .
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Tue 30 Jan 2018, 17:43

@nordmann wrote:
And worth remembering a word not born out of theological thinking but natural philosophy and observation of human behaviour. That's probably why the concept was complicated and less inclined to lend itself easily to simplistic religious interpretation .

But, as you yourself have taught us, nordmann, so much of the real Christian thinking comes from the Greeks. I am genuinely confused. Things can be complicated in an apparently simple way - but not necessarily be simplistic. Surely this is the best - simple, but profound - summary of all that is needed:



Matthew 22:36-40 King James Version (KJV)

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.



And all the Greek philosophers, he might have added.


What quite He meant by "God" is for the individual to decide. I like "all that is good and positive in the universe, and which is around us and within us". Or something simplistic like that.


EDIT:
Subject: Re: Plato - as a person   Wed Jan 22, 2014 9:20 am Reply with quote Report post to moderator or admin Lock post for new reports


@nordmann wrote:


Temp wrote:
...and not just serving them, but loving them. I suspect the Greeks would have thought this Jew was completely bonkers.



Not Plato, I wouldn't think. In his "Symposium" he has the philosopher Diotima being quizzed by Socrates about love (the notion of "Platonic love" comes from this passage of the text);

'What then is Love?' I asked; 'Is he mortal?'
'No.'
'What then?'
'As in the former instance, he is neither mortal nor immortal, but in a mean between the two.'
'What is he, Diotima?'
'He is a great spirit (daimon), and like all spirits he is intermediate between the divine and the mortal.'
'And what,' I said, 'is his power?'
'He interprets,' she replied, 'between gods and men, conveying and taking across to the gods the prayers and sacrifices of men, and to men the commands and replies of the gods; he is the mediator who spans the chasm which divides them, and therefore in him all is bound together, and through him the arts of the prophet and the priest, their sacrifices and mysteries and charms, and all prophecy and incantation, find their way. For God mingles not with man; but through Love all the intercourse and converse of God with man, whether awake or asleep, is carried on. The wisdom which understands this is spiritual; all other wisdom, such as that of arts and handicrafts, is mean and vulgar. Now these spirits or intermediate powers are many and diverse, and one of them is Love.'

Jesus advocates its use to exactly this end too, so I imagine Plato would have been simply thrilled to see someone putting Diotima's theory to the test.


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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Tue 30 Jan 2018, 21:21

@nordmann wrote:
Paul wrote:
You will say it's again Dawkins' selfish gene?

Go back and read again and you'll see that's the opposite to what I said.

Otherwise I agree with you.


nordmann,

you are right. In my hurry I hadn't seen that you said already the same. Excuses for that. But in this intellectual reasoning, indeed each sentence counts and one has to read it slowly to absorb each aspect of the message.

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Tue 30 Jan 2018, 22:47

@Temperance wrote:
Paul wrote:
 And they recommended that doing something for another was a strong way to reach some happiness, among two others if I recall it well. Priscilla said that it was contentment, again if I recall it well. I don't know if Temperance followed my advice?  Wink  

I'm not quite sure what purpose  the "wink" emoticon serves in the above. The advice given, although no doubt well meant, is simplistic. I have been aware for most of my adult life (I think) that "doing something for another"  - or for others - can be the way to genuine happiness and contentment, whether in one's work or in one's personal life. But it can also be a trap for the individual who does not, in Delphic terms, "know" him or herself. The internet is full of articles on "co-dependency", but the following book is a serious academic study and cannot be dismissed as mere psychobabble for unhappy women.



http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738571.001.0001/acprof-9780199738571-chapter-004


Pathological altruism is a construct describing the willingness of an individual to place the needs of others above him- or herself to the point of causing harm, whether physical, psychological, or both, to the purported altruist. Codependency can be viewed as a form of pathological altruism. The study of codependency has been hampered by limited agreement as to what it is, whether it even exists, and a lack of validated psychometric instruments to study it. This chapter suggests codependency is best viewed as a behavior and not a diagnosis, facilitated by the inability to tolerate negative affect. This chapter will review the concept of codependency, comment on its roots in empathy and altruism, explore its potential neurobiological, genetic, and evolutionary basis, and make suggestions for future research.

I am reading a lot at the moment about malignant narcissism. There are individuals who seem to be totally lacking in what Shakespeare called "the milk of human kindness". But the terms are confusing me - some seem to think that the narcissist, the sociopath and the psychopath learn their behaviour; other experts are convinced that these conditions are "genetic" - not the "selfish" gene, but the "twisted" gene. There are humans who are not quite human in the usual evolutionary terms. Simon Baron-Cohen, an expert in developmental psychopathology at the University of Cambridge (not a psychobabbler), is exploring new ideas about empathy, and is attempting to put empathy under the microscope - or rather the modern-day gadgetry of functional resonance imaging - fMRI (not a typo). He is looking at, among other things, the role of "mirror neurons" and of the functioning of that region of the brain called the "amygdala". The amygdalae (we have two - one in each hemisphere) appear to play a key role in emotional learning. but some people's amygdalae differ from what is the "norm". Or is the "norm" actually the pathological? Now there's a thought. Baron-Cohen explores the "empathy spectrum" in his book Zero Degrees of Empathy. He believes, as I understand it, that empathy can be taught. If only. But, as noted, other experts disagree, and suggest that when one meets a full-blown malignant narcissist or sociopath one should head for the hills. Mmm.

I've just done Baron-Cohen's empathy test. Most women score about 47 - I got 61 and am told: "You have an above average ability for understanding how other people feel and for responding appropriately. You know how to treat people with care and sensitivity.

In other words I am a complete mug, but not, I hope, a "pathological altruist".

This is a scrappy message, but I've only just got up and am still half asleep.

Temperance,

"I'm not quite sure what purpose  the "wink" emoticon serves in the above. The advice given, although no doubt well meant, is simplistic. I have been aware for most of my adult life (I think) that "doing something for another"  - or for others - can be the way to genuine happiness and contentment, whether in one's work or in one's personal life. But it can also be a trap for the individual who does not, in Delphic terms, "know" him or herself. The internet is full of articles on "co-dependency", but the following book is a serious academic study and cannot be dismissed as mere psychobabble for unhappy women."

I agree that emoticon and even the sentence wasn't that appropriate, I apologize. I just wanted to say in a casual way is Temperance reading my utterings from the time before and is she thinking about it. And from the rest of your sentence I see that you thought about it in depth. And I meant with "doing something for another" the casual deed, without afterthoughts, nor deep soul seeking. Just the act on the spot without much reasoning...

Being here now and having read the whole thread again, I have some thoughts about charity too. I think that charity is to be limited too the projects that are not covered by the social organisation of the state. Indeed it is the duty of the state, which is the community of citizens, which has to look to the wellbeing of all its citizens from rich to poor. And again and again the question came on the political table of the fairness of the redistribution of the wealth within the whole community.
I had on the exBBC board a discussion with an American, who said to me that in Europe they all looked to the state for help, especially in France (I don't know why he mentioned France?), instead as the Americans of looking to the individual effort. Indeed the state, while we the citizens are the state, and the state has to do what we, citizens, have asked our deputies to do.
And, as most citizens expect from that state, there has to be redistribution for the poor, not able to work for health or mental reasons, and those able to work have as soon as possible to be provided with appropriate work with or against their will.
And I agree, it is all not that obvious, I remember during our visit, as guests of the Soviet Union, a man at each door in the hotel, just to open and close it, that were already a lot of potential unemployed, who had work. Perhaps they were at the same time controllers for the government?

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Wed 31 Jan 2018, 08:44

@Temperance wrote:

But, as you yourself have taught us, nordmann, so much of the real Christian thinking comes from the Greeks.

Tut, tut ... "proposed", not "taught".

@Temperance wrote:

I am genuinely confused. Things can be complicated in an apparently simple way - but not necessarily be simplistic. Surely this is the best - simple, but profound - summary of all that is needed ...


If a theological concept is complicated it has purely itself to blame. Since the ultimate point of theology is not to prove anything in the slightest but to make assertions that seem worthy of belief, then any level of convolution (to which it is extremely prone) is completely up to the theologian. Some think that stark assertion and extreme literalism is the way to go. Some think obfuscation is a better tactic for hiding where their arguments falter, fail and fizzle out. But really both have applied simplified reasoning in the proposition of a theory in order to get that theory aired (a big priority in theology).

In philosophy a charlatan can adopt the same approach (and there are many examples), however they still cannot avoid the point at which they have either demonstrated the veracity of their theory or not, as philosophy, unlike theology, is not only firmly rooted in deduction from experience (preferably evidential) but also required in the end to relate its precepts intelligibly to the listener/reader in a manner that does not flatly contradict their own experience or in any way by-pass or ignore it. So while philosophy is not immune from convoluted thought potentially diluting the premise (and convolution that can often put theology to shame), the philosophical theories we tend to think of as "sound" and which have stood the test of time are those which depend in the main on an ability to withstand reductive analysis while remaining intelligible and easily demonstrable to their intended audience (the main priority in philosophy).

With this in mind, the excerpt from Matthew is a very good demonstration of how theology and philosophy can appear so similar yet are so fundamentally opposite in many ways. Lines 37 and 38 are theology, 39 is philosophy, and only one of these assertions actually leads in an arguable manner to the vital assertion made in 40. Had the Pharisee doing the quizzing asked the lad to expound on the substance of these two assertions then the first would have led quite naturally to the convoluted blind alley theology can never avoid, whereas he would have been on much safer ground pushing the Platonic theory to the point that it served as a proof for his third assertion. Of course he may not have wanted to do that as it would have highlighted a problem with the theological assertion, but then neither would the Pharisee have welcomed such a turn in the dialogue, so this is probably why they both were content to keep the exchange short and sweet (they wouldn't have got away with it in the Academy!).
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Wed 31 Jan 2018, 09:10

All very impressive, and no doubt some will be convinced by the eloquence of your prose style - but are you not being a tad evasive?

The line in the "lad's" exchange which is relevant to the topic and which relates also to the modern worries about "pathological altruism" is surely the following:

The uneducated Jewish lad wrote:
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

"As thyself" - did Plato's characters in their musings ever comment on this aspect of agape? What do you think Jesus of Nazareth meant by that? It's so often missed out - "Love thy neighbour" is usually what is quoted.


PS I was not actually being sarcastic with "taught".

PPS And he did have a knack of shutting the Pharisees up - you have to concede that.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Wed 31 Jan 2018, 09:11

Paul wrote:
And, as most citizens expect from that state, there has to be redistribution for the poor, not able to work for health or mental reasons, and those able to work have as soon as possible to be provided with appropriate work with or against their will.

Charity should not be confused with constitutionally established welfare legislation though, should it? A person receiving "benefits" based on legal entitlement is not receiving charity, or at least that's a standard distinction we all adopt so we can at least identify an area where justified charitable donation of money, time, action etc is required. With depressing increase in recent years, these areas often highlight where the state has actually failed to meet the intended level of support to which the recipient might justifiably have felt entitled. But they certainly indicate areas where the body politic cannot really contribute, or at least engage efficiently.

The notion of "Charity" (with a big C) as opposed to the individual's capacity for being charitable does often tend to equate large charitable organisations with any other large organisations which play a role in commerce and politics. However in theory at least a large charity is simply a facilitator for already charitable individuals to pool resources and have a greater effect to the good of the intended beneficiary. One can argue about how these organisations are run, or why they should exist, or even if they contradict the true notion of charity in many instances to the point of fraudulency - but the bottom line is that none of them can exist at all without a primal altruistic urge to be exploited. The real question is how much the satisfaction of that urge can actually and honestly be related to an innate capacity for "agape" (or "philia"), how much is possibly simply just genes having their chemical way, how much actually does more damage than good in the long run, and how much of what we call the resulting "charity" is actually charitable at all.


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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Wed 31 Jan 2018, 09:24

@Temperance wrote:
All very impressive, and no doubt some will be convinced by the eloquence of your prose style - but are you not being a tad evasive?

The line in the "lad's" exchange which is relevant to the topic and which relates also to the modern worries about "pathological altruism" is surely the following:

The uneducated Jewish lad wrote:
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

"As thyself" - did Plato's characters in their musings ever comment on this aspect of agape? What do you think Jesus of Nazareth meant by that? It's so often missed out - "Love thy neighbour" is usually what is quoted.



Well, the real point is what is meant by the phrase in Leviticus, from which scripture the original phrase has been plucked by our main man? And also how different is the Hebrew "ahev" from the Greek "agape", the actual term which would have been used in this exchange? "Ahev" has a wider semantic application than "agape" and though it still ascribes the root of the love to a divine source it is a unilateral love, one which it is one's religious duty to recognise in its application to the self (despite appearances and all evidence to the contrary the God lad loves me, and I must never forget this, and I must always return it, especially by being nice to myself). Leviticus says that it doesn't stop there but you should extend such unquestioning unilateral "love" to everyone else too, well at least fellow believers (one has to be careful with Leviticus - what appears reasonable at first glance quickly becomes the justification to stone someone to death when one turns the page).

For what it's worth the Platonic attitude towards "agape" was that it wasn't really worth the spiritual paper on which it wasn't written. It was a perfect love in theory, but not a practical one or even an observable one, and therefore superseded by "philia" in all important day-to-day respects, and even by "eros" on occasion in matters spiritual. Interestingly, those interpreting the Leviticus/Jesus commandment these days in the belief that it is indeed a sort of divine instruction from on high tend to choose "philia" as the love they're talking about. But then this is theology, so who cares about sticking to a premise?
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Wed 31 Jan 2018, 09:57

Well, I have little Hebrew and no Greek, so you have the language advantage here. The link I gave above offers this for "philia":

The second variety of love was philia or friendship, which the Greeks valued far more than the base sexuality of eros. Philia concerned the deep comradely friendship that developed between brothers in arms who had fought side by side on the battlefield. It was about showing loyalty to your friends, sacrificing for them, as well as sharing your emotions with them. (Another kind of philia, sometimes called storge, embodied the love between parents and their children.)

Didn't the lad whose illogical ramblings irritate you so much also say something about "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends"?

Friendship is good, but surely agape is greater - even if it is an impossible ideal? We need both perhaps if we are to be "charitable" to friends and strangers alike. Good-will stemming from a robust self-esteem rather than a narcissistic self-serving?

But I sense general irritation here - and a wandering off-topic by me.

Will go and vacuum upstairs.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Wed 31 Jan 2018, 10:07

@Temperance wrote:


Didn't the lad whose illogical ramblings irritate you so much also say something about "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends"?


Yes, a very "philia" thing to say, actually. And I'm never irritated reading that lad's ramblings. Like I'm never irritated (in fact often impressed) by David Bowie's songs that he wrote by clipping sentences up with a scissors, tossing them in the air, and then singing them in the order they landed. Jesus, because we have so much ascribed to him by way of lyrics, is as if someone did the same with a philosophy text book. It's great fun teasing it all out and working out which page of the textbook it came from.

@Temperance wrote:


Friendship is good, but surely agape is greater - even if it is an impossible ideal? We need both perhaps if we are to be "charitable" to friends and strangers alike. Good-will stemming from a robust self-esteem rather than a narcissistic self-serving?

But I sense general irritation here - and a wandering off-topic by me.

Will go and vacuum upstairs.


Not better, no, and not a fundamental ingredient of charity - or at least altruism. I get by without it, for one, and I haven't slipped into sociopath mode (yet). I even give in to an odd altruistic urge now and again. Want any hoovering done?
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Wed 31 Jan 2018, 12:11

Not about charity but since it is being mentioned, a thought on an experience of  altruism  - or was it just training? When an air raid happened at Liverpool Street station I was on with mother, aunt and a tot cousin, the train driver took us quickly away from it  with many still doors open. As bombs fell,  three GI's in our compartment instantly made a protective huddle about us children until we were clear of the raid. It all happened so fast this  reaction to protect the young - was it instinctive human altruism?
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Wed 31 Jan 2018, 12:49

I don't believe you can really separate that behaviour from others ultimately based on a capacity for empathic feeling, whether reasoned and deliberate or instinctive and spontaneous in effect. I think they are all evidence of the same hard-wiring in our brains (as a neurologist might say), which in turn is the result of the same genetic processes whereby we all share any common innate behavioural traits.

It is true about children, though. A friend of mine who was a paramedic in Munich back in the day was taught during basic training to avoid that common triage trap of subconsciously prioritising children over adults in a "first response" situation where there have been multiple casualties. He reckoned that even with this training, and even when reminding oneself and colleagues constantly in such situations, it was almost impossible not to fall into that trap.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Wed 31 Jan 2018, 18:03

@nordmann wrote:
"Ahev" has a wider semantic application than "agape" and though it still ascribes the root of the love to a divine source it is a unilateral love, one which it is one's religious duty to recognise in its application to the self (despite appearances and all evidence to the contrary the God lad loves me, and I must never forget this, and I must always return it, especially by being nice to myself). Leviticus says that it doesn't stop there but you should extend such unquestioning unilateral "love" to everyone else too, well at least fellow believers (one has to be careful with Leviticus - what appears reasonable at first glance quickly becomes the justification to stone someone to death when one turns the page).

The whole point of the New Testament teaching is to leave the worst of the "Law" - Leviticus - behind. You know this as well as I do. And the  "Love thy neighbour as thyself" - which in my innocence (or foolishness) I quoted because I thought it relevant - is surely an injunction to genuine altruism, not the pathological "rescuing" of the co-dependent "victim", who is all too ready to turn persecutor. However, the old Jewish law here is good law - developed, not abandoned, by the later thinkers.

http://oxfordindex.oup.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100116439

But I'm watching A Street Cat Named Bob at the moment - oddly enough I didn't see it when it came out. I wonder if others here have seen it? It is based on the true story of a homeless addict who is struggling to keep body and soul together on the unforgiving streets of London. He is befriended by a remarkable animal. Bob is a lovely moggy, full of a robust self-esteem. All very heartwarming - or sanitised and sentimental tripe? The Telegraph, predictably, gave the film one star. 







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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Wed 31 Jan 2018, 21:10

@nordmann wrote:
Paul wrote:
And, as most citizens expect from that state, there has to be redistribution for the poor, not able to work for health or mental reasons, and those able to work have as soon as possible to be provided with appropriate work with or against their will.

Charity should not be confused with constitutionally established welfare legislation though, should it? A person receiving "benefits" based on legal entitlement is not receiving charity, or at least that's a standard distinction we all adopt so we can at least identify an area where justified charitable donation of money, time, action etc is required. With depressing increase in recent years, these areas often highlight where the state has actually failed to meet the intended level of support to which the recipient might justifiably have felt entitled. But they certainly indicate areas where the body politic cannot really contribute, or at least engage efficiently.

The notion of "Charity" (with a big C) as opposed to the individual's capacity for being charitable does often tend to equate large charitable organisations with any other large organisations which play a role in commerce and politics. However in theory at least a large charity is simply a facilitator for already charitable individuals to pool resources and have a greater effect to the good of the intended beneficiary. One can argue about how these organisations are run, or why they should exist, or even if they contradict the true notion of charity in many instances to the point of fraudulency - but the bottom line is that none of them can exist at all without a primal altruistic urge to be exploited. The real question is how much the satisfaction of that urge can actually and honestly be related to an innate capacity for "agape" (or "philia"), how much is possibly simply just genes having their chemical way, how much actually does more damage than good in the long run, and how much of what we call the resulting "charity" is actually charitable at all.


nordmann,

me too started my message with a difference between charity and state social security, that are two distinct matters.
Charity is in my opinion a free giving of aid to another or other persons, while in state social security the citizens are obliged by law to contribute to a social system, and in most countries there is  a redistribution between poor and wealthy, as it is in most countries wanted by the politics and the population.

But I agree, my formulation was a bad one:
"I have some thoughts about charity too. I think that charity is to be limited too the projects that are not covered by the social organisation of the state. Indeed it is the duty of the state, which is the community of citizens, which has to look to the wellbeing of all its citizens from rich to poor. And again and again the question came on the political table of the fairness of the redistribution of the wealth within the whole community."

In fact a better formulation would be:
I think that charity has to be separate from all matters covered by the social security of the state, while charity is a distinct matter as it is based on voluntary gifts from generous people, who see it as their altruistic contribution to an amelioration of certain groups in the society. (my comments: it can be also that they only follow the guidelines from advertisements and shows, but in my opinion, as I think it is said here somewhere, if it helps, whatever the motivation may have been, it is worth the action.

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Wed 31 Jan 2018, 22:00

Temperance,

you said:
"The whole point of the New Testament teaching is to leave the worst of the "Law" - Leviticus - behind. You know this as well as I do. And the  "Love thy neighbour as thyself" - which in my innocence (or foolishness) I quoted because I thought it relevant - is surely an injunction to genuine altruism, not the pathological "rescuing" of the co-dependent "victim", who is all too ready to turn persecutor. However, the old Jewish law here is good law - developed, not abandoned, by the later thinkers.

http://oxfordindex.oup.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100116439

Lucky that I read the link, because I read: "Love thy neighbour as thyself", rather as an obligation and not as a recommendation, and I think that true altruism cannot be an obligation.

And I had also some thoughts along nordmann's paragraph:

"I don't believe you can really separate that behaviour from others ultimately based on a capacity for empathic feeling, whether reasoned and deliberate or instinctive and spontaneous in effect. I think they are all evidence of the same hard-wiring in our brains (as a neurologist might say), which in turn is the result of the same genetic processes whereby we all share any common innate behavioural traits."

"whether reasoned and deliberate or instinctive and spontaneous in effect." and: " I think they are all evidence of the same hard-wiring in our brains (as a neurologist might say) "
Is there not a distinction between "reasoned and deliberate"  and "instinctive and spontaneous"?
The first one: the free will, which by reasoning makes decisions that lead to actions or even inactions?
The second one: the genetic inherited behaviour, nearly a predestination?
I had many times the desire to act as my genetic inheritance pushed me, but after reasoning with myself, I came to a conclusion to act otherwise, because my reasoning gave me the will to act against my genetic inheritance...

In that light, the sentence:
"whereby we all share any common innate behavioural traits" can be added with: but we have all the capacity by reasoning and by our "free will"? to act against those "common innate behavioural traits" ?

Kind regards to both from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Thu 01 Feb 2018, 07:35

@PaulRyckier wrote:

Is there not a distinction between "reasoned and deliberate"  and "instinctive and spontaneous"?
The first one: the free will, which by reasoning makes decisions that lead to actions or even inactions?
The second one: the genetic inherited behaviour, nearly a predestination?
I had many times the desire to act as my genetic inheritance pushed me, but after reasoning with myself, I came to a conclusion to act otherwise, because my reasoning gave me the will to act against my genetic inheritance...
.

Exactly - in one instance the person through reflective reasoning negotiates with the innate urge, in the other they act without such reasoning on that urge. Both are therefore simply proof that it exists as an innate feature of being human in the first place.

Temp wrote:
The whole point of the New Testament teaching is to leave the worst of the "Law" - Leviticus - behind. You know this as well as I do.

I know nothing of the sort. It is one of the points made in that very diverse document, it is not the "whole point" to the document by any means. There are also many instances where fulfilment of ancient prophesy, adherence to divine commandments and laws derived from them, and other strictures contained within Leviticus are given great emphasis. To think the New Testament expounds a single and consistent philosophy is as erroneous as thinking that it expounds a single and consistent theology. Among the mixed messages is indeed an injunction to genuine altruism, though made exactly as that - an injunction - and not reasoned to a logical or even a believable conclusion, replacing what should have been a very valid insight into human capability and purpose with "heavenly rewards" payable after the person's human existence has ended. In my view a missed opportunity, leaving the injunction open to subsequent theological interpretation that in many instances concluded the exact opposite of what you yourself maintain is a core philosophy within the document and in fact has often been the basis of "laws" as unreasonable as anything Leviticus contains. And we all know where that has left us ...
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Thu 01 Feb 2018, 09:08

Well, although I acknowledge the truth and wisdom of much of what you say, I cannot, nordmann, agree with your interpretation of everything. I think you sometimes get it wrong - or you just don't/can't understand - but then I cannot understand the whole logical, reasoned approach to life, even though I try very hard to do so. But we all muddle along as best we can, I suppose - although I'm sure you logical, rational ones do not muddle at all. A matter of temperament, not intelligence, I suppose. But I'll be muddling along until I die, and I'd best leave it at that. I wish you well - as the Buddha said: "Go in peace - work out your salvation with diligence." (Although the translation is disputed, I believe, so I've probably got it wrong.) I've said that to you before, then come back and argued again and again, but I really do think this time I've had enough.

Paul - thank you for your comments here too.

PS The old thread "As Cold as Charity" got over 4000 views - for anyone out there interested, here's the link:

https://reshistorica.forumotion.com/t708-as-cold-as-charity
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Thu 01 Feb 2018, 22:54

@Temperance wrote:
Well, although I acknowledge the truth and wisdom of much of what you say, I cannot, nordmann, agree with your interpretation of everything. I think you sometimes get it wrong - or you just don't/can't understand - but then I cannot understand the whole logical, reasoned approach to life, even though I try very hard to do so. But we all muddle along as best we can, I suppose - although I'm sure you logical, rational ones do not muddle at all. A matter of temperament, not intelligence, I suppose. But I'll be muddling along until I die, and I'd best leave it at that. I wish you well - as the Buddha said: "Go in peace - work out your salvation with diligence." (Although the translation is disputed, I believe, so I've probably got it wrong.) I've said that to you before, then come back and argued again and again, but I really do think this time I've had enough.

Paul - thank you for your comments here too.

PS The old thread "As Cold as Charity" got over 4000 views - for anyone out there interested, here's the link:

https://reshistorica.forumotion.com/t708-as-cold-as-charity


Temperance,

it is beyond me, how I could have ignored such an interesting and in depth thread in the time Embarassed ...I just read the whole thing. Perhaps my interest in this forum is growing, while I was in that time perhaps more involved on the French Passion Histoire or at the American Historum...one can't do it all. And to be honest I am a bit afraid of all these brain consuming threads that are perhaps easier for nordmann, with his excellent grasp of the English language and his logic against one has nearly never a reply and last but not least his broad knowledge on nearly all fields of history and philosophy....really a huge knowledgeable speech mate to cross words with...but thanks to you Temperance, I started the difficult way right into the difficult stuff of your "Cold as charity"...

BTW; while we are here on the subject of public welfare and charity, in my opinion to be considered as extra above or undependent from the public welfare.
And I just read the critics of Vizzer about the public obliged welfare...
And I wanted to mention it already yesterday, but forgot it.

Isn't there an element of fairness in both obliged public welfare ( but after all it is compulsory because we the citizens voted for the politicians, who had it in their program and made laws in that way as representants of our desires) and the voluntary charity, which has also its role to play in society (in my humble opinion).

Fairness in the sense that we feel together in the group and find it fair that the less competitive members are supported by the clever (clever on all fields) ones, but these less competive ones mustn't cheat, otherwise it is war.
As such I don't give nothing to beggars in the street, as, if I recall it well from your thread, Vizzer too, because they have to seek for help in our welfare system, for which we pay that much.
I saw years ago a BBC series of a reporter, who entered between the people on the street as undercover and with a hidden camera, unbelievable situations as "mixed sleeping" in a public dortoir, no one troubled with the ladies among them. But the longer he stayed in the "milieu", the more difficult it became to resist the attempts to resettle him in a better life. He had really to find all kind of tricks to stay out of the better world Wink

That sense of fairness, (and I think it was also discussed in Priscilla's thread about good and evil (I said: good and bad). And there I have a lot contributed, contrary to the thread you mentioned) is perhaps from the dawn of humanity inherent to our society.
While I found studies on apes, that other society bound mammals, where they were extremely upset and aggresive when they were cheated and higly sociable, when all was acted along the fairness rules.

Nearly midnight overhere Temperance I wish you a good night and till tomorrow.

And kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Fri 02 Feb 2018, 12:38

Paul, I had fully intended to take a break from all this, but it seems ungracious not to reply to you.

One of the reasons I mentioned the film A Street Cat Named Bob is that, heartwarming as it is, it could be seen as a lightweight, "sanitised" view of the hopeless and the helpless. We all want a "fair" society, but then we all know (I think) that some people are undoubtedly exploiters of the "mugs" who try to help, and some seem to be completely beyond any human's help. As all unwary listeners/counsellors are told in training: "People have got to want help, not just need it." I am very uncomfortable with this, and in some ways feel it is only those who have been in hopeless situations themselves and who have, therefore, a full understanding of real desperation, who should be in "front-line" positions. How can I, a comfortably-off, educated, extremely fortunate and healthy (touch wood) woman know what it is to be destitute and angry and hopeless? I can't, and if I try I no doubt - with the best will in the world - come across as patronising and controlling. Or I become a soft touch and an "enabler". It's a terrible dilemma - and a trap for the unwary.

That said, I always seem to find some sort of answer in the Gospels - and, please believe me, I am NOT Bible-thumping here. In Luke's version of the above, the "Love thy neighbour as thyself" Leviticus quotation (offered to Jesus this time by an "expert in the law") is followed by that most famous of simple and no doubt simplistic stories - The Good Samaritan. It is offered in response to the clever "expert's" question: "Who is my neighbour?"

After telling the Parable, Jesus simply asks: "Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

The expert in the law replied: "The one who had mercy on him."

Jesus told him: "Go and do likewise."

(And not just to the children of Israel, as Leviticus suggests.)

Such a simple (that word again) suggestion/ injunction. But not so simple. How best should we show mercy? That is the question. I haven't got time now, but the bit in the film where James needed a mere extra 9p for his meal, and where mercy is most definitely not shown him, has stayed with me these past few days. Why on earth didn't someone, hearing the dispute with the chippy owner, simply hand over a 10p? Would that have been "enabling"? This won't make much sense if you haven't seen the film - will check on YouTube later for a clip. Got to go now - in a rush, as ever.

Answers to my dilemma on a postcard please, preferably with a stamp.

EDIT: I can't find a clip on YouTube of the distressing café scene, but here's a trailer for the film anyway.






Probably a comment for the Moggy thread, but Bob plays himself for much of the film. However, he did have seven body doubles for his stunt work. He could be the next James Bond.
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