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Semantic knowledge is to use a Kantian label, synthetic apriori knowledge. Mature users of a language know the meaning of terms in their own language and thereby what the terms mean in any language into which their language is translated. Humans have insight into universal semantics. This knowledge is synthetic because in fact terms need not have the meaning they actually have. The terms could in fact have no meaning whatsoever. The knowledge is apriori because people know, at least implicitly, what their terms mean prior to using them in any particular situation. Perhaps, it would be more accurate to claim that people’s knowledge of the meaning of their terms is mostly expressed as negative knowledge. People know how to reject proposed definition of terms when those definitions fail to express what they mean. Socrates’ accusation that people do not know what they mean with crucial terms when they discover, with Socrates’ aid, that proposed definitions are either too broad or too narrow is inaccurate. People’s knowledge of the meaning of terms is a presupposition for recognizing definitions as too broad or too narrow for expressing what they mean.
In Love is More than Willing the Good of The Other , I point out that we cannot say all we intend to say with “love” by talking only of willing and thinking of the good of the one loved. There is a need for a complex of affections, thoughts and actions forming a relationship of bonding. There is a variety of bonding relations which could be called “love-forming.” The varieties of bonding leads to a variety of ways of loving. There are personal bonds which relate two people to one another which are not love-forming., viz., hatred. I focus mainly on on what might be recognized as love-forming bonding.
Typically bonding is a relation of one person to another. What are some basic semantic features of almost all types of bonding relations?
The relationship is not always symmetric. For instance, consider a case of a man and a woman who mutually respect one another and will the good for each other. However, the man, as the saying goes, falls in love with her. For, good or ill, he had bound himself in love with her. However, she does not have, and cannot by any act of will create that love forming bond with him. He loves her while she does not love him. Obviously, bonding relations are not transitive. A friend of your friend may not be your friend. Some might think that love-forming bonding is obviously, and maybe necessarily, reflexive. I challenge an assumption that a love-forming bonding is reflexive.Suicide suggests that some people hate themselves. Anecdotal evidence indicates that many people find their happiest times of life when they have forgotten themselves.
I write that bonding is typically a personal relationship for I want to set aside discussion of bonding with non-human animals, such as our pets. Also I do not want to get distracted on whether or not there can be bonding with non personal entities such as organizations or locations. I could easily become distracted by tryng to distinguish bonding from loyality and a sense of who one is. I do not intend to define “bonding.” I discuss bonding only by making semantical observations about how we talk of bonding. I present these semantical observations as bringing out what we mean by “bonding.” Story tellers perhaps give us a better understanding than could be given by any definition. Stories can reveal bonding from the perspective of the characters and from the omniscient author perspective. Unfortunately, I am not a creative writer.
Is bonding a thought or a feeling?
Frequently, bonding is talked about as a some type of feeling or complex of feelings. As a saying goes one might admit to starting to love by admitting “having feelings for so-and-so.” However, it is not a thoughtless raw feeling. It is a feeling for someone with certain,perhaps indefinable, features. I doubt that there is a way of identifying the feeling, as opposed to the thoughts in loving. Suppose Tom fell in love with Sue 2016 and after a break-up in 2018 falls in love with Jane in 2022. Would there be a way of deciding the truth of “The feeling of Tom for Sue is the same as the feeling of Tom for Jane” apart from any thoughts of Tom? Even the binding of an infant with his or her mother is a mixture of inexpressible thoughts and feelings. Facial recognition is cognitive. Facial recognition devices – a type of robot- provide evidence that facial recognition is cognitive. The program for a facial recognition robot mimic the thoughts of facial recognition.
More generally, bonding is to something or someone under a description.
All things considered, bonding is best classifed as the affective dimension of love. I suspect that if there were a way of investigating a brain of a bonding person, brain regions associated with feelings would be more active than regions associated with cognitive processing.
Proper control of bonding is essential in sexual morality. In my book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilihism Tulsa 2012, I specify courting, bonding, mating as the main areas of sexual morality. In the book I focus on mating, eg. coitus. A free copy of this book is available by emailing Kielkopf.email@example.com .
At the beginning of Pope Benedict XVI’s encylical Deus caritas est we are taught what it is to be a Christian. Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.
This post is corrected in Christianity Requires People Bonding With Jesus Now! wherein I admit that a Christian religion becomes only an ideology unless a significant number of its members personally bond with Jesus as a real being.
My post on the incompatibility of aceptance of the Sexual Revolution with being a Christian suggests that holding some doctrine about Christ’s making atonement for our sins is a necessary condition for being a Christian. No one may claim that any condition, let alone holding a particular doctrine, is a necessary condition for encountering Christ. Christ can meet whoever He wills and as He wills. We can say that holding some doctrine about atonement or redemption is a necessary condition for an honest claim to be a Christian by a person who also maintains that Jesus was crucified, buried and rose from the dead thereby radically transforming the condition of humanity. Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI, was such a Christian.
It is interesting to note that Ratzinger rather reluctantly acknowledged the need for a doctrine of atonement. In his Introduction to Christianity 2nd ed. On pp. 148ff. he contrasts incarnation Christology with Christology of the cross. Incarnation Christology focuses on the work of Christ as forward looking. Christ came to transform humanity so that we could progress to sharing divine nature. Cross Christology focuses on the work of Christ as reaching back to atone for past sins of humanity. He clearly prefers Incarnation Christology but admits Christian doctrine contains both.
Here, though, the question is whether Pope Benedict XVI taught that a personal encounter with Christ is a necessary and perhaps, sufficient condition for being a Christian. In light of his well known rejection of relativism, the answer should be “no.”* Christianity cannot be turned over to people’s personal experiences. But some, relatively few, direct personal encounters with Christ were necessary and have been sufficient for the authentic Christianity of billions of people through two millenia. These relatively few were Jesus’ apostles, disciples and many others who encountered Him before and after His resurrection. The truth of Christian doctrine and action guides for Christian living is based on the witness of those privileged few in apostolic times who saw, heard, touched and trusted Jesus as enabling them to find the way and for what to live. Without the experienced reality of Jesus’ public ministry, crucifixion and post resurrection appearances Christianity is, at best, reflection of ethical choices and lofty ideals.
Our current Christian faith is based on trust in the testimony of those who actually encountered Jesus.
Christianity has empirical falsification conditions as St. Paul clearly realized in Ch. 15 of 1st Corinithians. If Christ has not risen from the dead, then your faith is in vain.
I write of the direct witnesses of Christ as being a privileged few. And, so they were, to some extent. They experienced the reality which provides the truth conditions for Christian teaching. However, the experiences themselves did not provide the conceptual resources to articulate the doctrines. Articulation of the truths about this reality to which they were witnesess required a few centuries of testing lofty ideals about what was witnessed.
I stop here because writing about development of Christianity under the Church Fathers would be theology. I want to stay with philosophy. This post is philosophical because it makes no claim about the truth of Christian doctrine. Indeed, it concedes how they could be false. I make the philosophical point, maybe only a banal critical thinking, point that even if direct experiences of some are needed to support a doctrine not only those who have direct experiences are entitled to believe the doctrines.
*In paragraph 17 of Deus caritas est, he writes of encountering Christ by seeing Him in the others we serve through acts of charity. I do not think that Benedict XVI is writing only of the expression of a lofty ideal which some, including me, express when asked why we serve the poor and needy. For instance, when asked why I dealt politely with someone obnoxiously seeking assistance, I might reply “Oh, I still saw the face of Christ in him.” I frequently make such remarks although I am not sure exactly what I mean. On reflection, I realize that I am only saying that I do these charitable works because I have the “lofty ideals” of Christian teaching and I have made the “ethical choice” to put them into practice.” Benedict XVI teaches that more than the lofty ideals of Christian doctrine and the ethical choice to put them into practice is necessary for being a full-fleged Christian. But this something more than holding the doctrines and morals of Christianity is not the truth conditions for the doctrines. It is some condition, properly called an encounter, which converts the holder of Christian doctrine into a full Christian. See my post on bonding with Christ.
Christianity is Incompatible with Acceptance of the Sexual Revolution
Acceptance of Christianity is acceptance of at least the Apostles’ Creed.
Acceptance of the sexual revolution is acceptance of the Moral Neutrality of Sexuality.
Characterizing acceptance of the sexual revolution as acceptance of a thesis in moral theory characterizes the outlook in a neutral, if not favorable, way. People who accept. in principle, extra marital sex, homosexual acts, etc., may strongly condemn various “outrageous acts” because they deem the consequences of those acts are harmful.
Acceptance of the moral neutrality of sexuality is not logically inconsistent with acceptance of the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed. Because I cannot argue for a logical inconsistency, I shall argue that acceptance of the sexual revolution, viz., the moral neutrality of sexuality, undercuts attempts to understand the Christian creed.
The line of argument goes as follows.
If we accept the sexual revolution, then we accept the moral neutrality of sexuality.
If we accept the moral neutrality of sexuality, i.e.,no intrinsically wrong sexual act, then we use consequentialist reasoning to decide what is morally wrong in sexual matters.
If we use consequential reasoning for sexual morality, there is no rationale preventing use of consequentialist reasoning for all moral decisions.
The objection to universal use of consequentialist reasoning is that some natural features ought never be used a certain way because the nature of those features show us that certain way is not how they ought to be used. The nature of sexual features are paradigms of natural features showing how they ought to be used. If we discard sexual features as showing how they ought to be used, we at least began making a paradigm shift away from regarding internal features of acts as having normative significance towards regarding only the consequences of acts as having normative significance.
If there is no rationale preventing consequentialist reasoning for all moral decisions, rational people use consequentialist reasoning for all moral decisions.
If rational people use consequentialist reasoning for all moral decisions, then rational people recognize no intrinsically wrong acts.
If rational people recognize no intrinsically wrong acts, rational people find no rationale for Retributive Punishment.
If rational people find no rationale for retributive punishment, then rational people hold that a doctrine that Jesus suffered and died to redeem humanity presupposes an incorrect moral theory.
If rational people hold that a doctrine that Jesus suffered and died to redeem humanity presupposes an incorrect moral theory, then rational people hold that the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds presuppose an incorrect moral theory.
Putting all of these claims together we can conclude:
If rational people accept the sexual revolution, they hold that the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds presuppose an incorrect moral theory.
In my book on sexual morality*, I confronted Pinker’s example of coitus between a brother and sister which had, as the imaginary cases for moral philosophy may stipulate, absolutely no harmful consequences in nature. I propose that there is a type of harm over and above natural harm which is specifically a moral harm. Without much development of the notion, I simply proposed that moral harm is the harm done merely by disobedience to a moral law. In my book, I left this notion of moral harm lie in the background of my argument for traditional sexual morality. My case was mainly that the harm of setting aside the rules of traditional sexual morality was a sense of lawlessness and ultimately a sense that life is pointless, viz., nihilism.
After publication, I realized that the argument of my book needed to be strengthened by clarification and justification of moral harm as the harm of simply disobeying a moral law. I also have religious or theological concerns about understanding the fundamental Christian thesis that Christ suffered and died for our sins. In my religious musings I reached a stage at which I realized that I could not hope to understand doctrines about our redemption by Christ unless, I understood retributive punishment. A breakthrough in my thinking about the need for redemption was that retributive punishment is repair of moral harm.
The proposal that retributive punishment is repair of moral harm demands specification of moral harm as something which can be repaired. What goes on in the violation of a moral law which is something which can be repaired? I conjectured that in violation of a moral norm, moral rule, the violator adds a new moral norm to morality. This new moral norm is ad hoc for this violation. The ad hoc moral norm specifies that some harm ought to be done. Let us call this harm which ought to be done “punitive harm.”A violation of a moral rule does reflect a choice that the good aimed at by the rule ought to be inhibited. Inhibition of good is harm. So, moral harm is a bad moral norm, i.e., a norm with the force of morality but contrary to the goal of morality. This ad hoc norm with the force of a genuine moral norm is damage or dirt in morality. This damage to morality can be repaired by fulfilling the ad hoc moral norm and thereby removing it from morality. Doing the punitive harm cleanses morality from the ad hoc moral rule. Doing the punitive harm required by the ad hoc rule is retributive punishment. So, retributive punishment cleanses morality from the ad hoc moral rules established by choices to set aside some basic human goods.
Since I am introducing “punitive harm” in this post, it is helpful to emphasize its difference from moral harm. Moral harm is damage done to morality by a choice to disobey a moral law. Nothing in the physical or mental life of individual human beings is damaged. No broken bones, torn flesh or mental anguish are components of moral harm. Moral harm is the introduction of improper moral imperatives into morality. It is, I hate to say it, theoretical damage. Moral harm is not painful. Punitive harm is not theoretical. Puntive harm is breaking bones, tearing flesh and production of mental anguish to cleanse morality from the improper moral imperatives. Punitive harm is the actual physical and mental harm produced by retributive punishment. Punitive harm is painful.
Besides trying to understand moral harm and retributive punishment, I want to understand a thought that abortion is always a grievous wrong despite the fact that it frequently can be justified by utilitarian considerations. What is it like to have sorrow simply over the breaking of a moral law that innocent human life should not be directly terminated? This question led me to the proposal there might be an analogue to the Catholic notion of perfect contrition. Perfection contrition is sorrow over simply disobeying God. So, perhaps, the genuine moral conviction that abortion is wrong is sorrow over simply disobeying a moral law against it. This would be sorrow over moral harm. This sorrow over moral harm of abortion might be sorrow over having the ad hoc moral laws requiring punitive harm in morality. But when I pay attention to my own sentiments, my sorrow over abortion is sorrow for the punitive harm of the mental anguish which I believe the woman who has her child aborted ought to suffer.
These notions of moral harm, punitive harm, retributive punishment and contrition are crucial in my case that acceptance of the sexual revolution is incompatible with a genuine Christian religion.