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#23423 - 09/10/07 10:41 AM Knowledge begets responsibility which begets guilt
coberst Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/04/07
Posts: 369
Knowledge begets responsibility which begets guilt

Guilt is both a curse and a salvation. I conclude that guilt is perhaps one of the few internal mechanisms that can prevent human self-destruction.

Rational analysis and recognition of self preservation can drive us to correcting problems that have immediate and visible impact on our life but it is this internal friction we call guilt upon which we must depend for avoiding long term consequences resulting from our behavior.

Guilt is difficult to analyze because it is ‘dumb’. It is a feeling of being blocked and frustrated without knowing why we feel that way. This develops when embraced by powerlessness while clutched by the unknown. Guilt is a bind of life.

A feeling of guilt emanates from our peculiar ability to apprehend life’s totality but unable to move in relation to it. “This real guilt partly explains willing subordinacy to his culture: after all, the world of men is even more dazzling and miraculous in its richness than the awesomeness of nature. Also, subordinacy comes naturally from man’s basic experience of being nourished and cared for; it is a logical response to social altruism.”—Ernest Becker.

Stewardship-- the conducting, supervising, or managing of something... the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care...

Stewardship is a word used often in the Bible and was at one time used often in England. It was used in England because the youth of the landed aristocracy was taught that they were responsible for the care of the family properties in such a way that they passed on to the next generation an inheritance equal to but more appropriately larger than that received. Each generation was not the owner but was the steward for the family estates. Any individual who squandered the inheritance was a traitor to the family.

I am inclined to think that each human generation must consider itself as the steward of the earth and therefore must make available to the succeeding generations an inheritance undiminished to that received.

In this context what does "careful and responsible management" mean? I would say that there are two things that must be begun to make the whole process feasible. The first is that the public must be convinced that it is a responsible caretaker and not an owner and secondly the public must be provided with an acceptable standard whereby it can judge how each major issue affects the accomplishment of the overall task. This is an ongoing forever responsibility for every nation but for the purpose of discussion I am going to speak about it as localized to the US.

Selfishness and greed are fundamental components of human nature. How does a nation cause its people to temper this nature when the payoff goes not to the generation presently in charge but to generations yet to come in the very distant future? Generations too far removed to be encompassed by the evolved biological impulse to care for ones kin.

How is it possible to cause a man or woman to have the same concern for a generation five times removed as that man or woman has for their own progeny?

I suspect it is not possible, but it does seem to me to be necessary to accomplish the task of stewardship.

Guilt may be our only hope for human acceptance of the responsibility of stewardship.




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#23425 - 09/10/07 11:58 AM Re: Knowledge begets responsibility which begets guilt [Re: coberst]
redewenur Offline
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Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
True, we are all vessels of the seven deadly sins; but there's even more to it.

It's estimated that between 1% and 3% of the British population are psychopathic/sociopathic - i.e. they lack empathy, conscience and impulse control to a degree that allows them to manipulate, intimidate and commit violence without psychological repercussions. Furthermore, there's a disproportionate number of such people in management positions. That's a couple of million people, for whom guidance or treatment of any kind would be unproductive, and who have a relatively strong position in the machinery of society.

As for the rest of us, I think the best hope lies in social evolution - by which I mean a positive evolution that moves toward an ever more humanitarian global society. Whilst that doesn't focus specifically on stewardship, it would no doubt enhance the phenomenon.
_________________________
"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

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#23426 - 09/10/07 12:50 PM Re: Knowledge begets responsibility which begets guilt [Re: redewenur]
TheFallibleFiend Offline
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Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 1940
Loc: http://thefalliblefiend.blogsp...
red, do you have a source for that?
Are there similar studies of the populations of other nations?

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#23427 - 09/10/07 02:23 PM Re: Knowledge begets responsibility which begets guilt [Re: TheFallibleFiend]
redewenur Offline
Megastar

Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
TFF, I'll try to find the website. I discovered it about a year ago when a friend back in the UK raised the topic of sociopathy.

Meanwhile, two others:

"Statistics say that 1 in every 25 people are high risk sociopaths." - from http://www.consumerpi.com/Sociopath.htm

and:

"...they know right from wrong, they know exactly what they're doing, and they are definitely NOT insane, at least according to the consensus of most scholars (Samenow 2004). In such cases, they usually fall into one of three types...antisocial personality disorder (APD), sociopath, or psychopath -- none of which are the same as insanity or psychosis. APD is the most common type, afflicting about 4% of the general population. Sociopaths are the second most common type, with the American Psychiatric Association estimating that 3% of all males in our society are sociopaths and Stout (2005) estimating 4% of the population. Psychopaths are rare, found in perhaps 1% of the population."

from http://faculty.ncwc.edu/TOCONNOR/428/428lect16.htm

Edit:

Here's another regarding the 'corporate psychopath'

"The latest figures suggest one in ten managers are psychopaths" from http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/s1360571.htm [2005]

You'll notice when reading around the subject that there's some dispute over the appellations. Also, there are some sociologists who believe that the disorders are treatable, although I've seen no support from doctors.


Edited by redewenur (09/10/07 03:45 PM)
_________________________
"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

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#23428 - 09/10/07 03:17 PM Re: Knowledge begets responsibility which begets guilt [Re: redewenur]
coberst Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/04/07
Posts: 369
Originally Posted By: redewenur
True, we are all vessels of the seven deadly sins; but there's even more to it.

It's estimated that between 1% and 3% of the British population are psychopathic/sociopathic - i.e. they lack empathy, conscience and impulse control to a degree that allows them to manipulate, intimidate and commit violence without psychological repercussions. Furthermore, there's a disproportionate number of such people in management positions. That's a couple of million people, for whom guidance or treatment of any kind would be unproductive, and who have a relatively strong position in the machinery of society.

As for the rest of us, I think the best hope lies in social evolution - by which I mean a positive evolution that moves toward an ever more humanitarian global society. Whilst that doesn't focus specifically on stewardship, it would no doubt enhance the phenomenon.


I am surprised at the large number of people who might be considered as mentally unhealthy.

I think that social evolution can be promoted by a more enlightened people. I think that we need to become radically self-conscious if we hope to change the direction we are headed.

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#23429 - 09/10/07 04:37 PM Re: Knowledge begets responsibility which begets guilt [Re: coberst]
redewenur Offline
Megastar

Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
Originally Posted By: coberst
I am surprised at the large number of people who might be considered as mentally unhealthy.

Yes, it is surprising. Of course, it has no connection whatever with the much greater number of people who suffer from various incapacitating neuroses and psychoses, and to which any us may succumb at any given moment. We certainly do need to help each other along - locally and globally.
_________________________
"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

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#23436 - 09/10/07 08:42 PM Re: Knowledge begets responsibility which begets guilt [Re: redewenur]
coberst Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/04/07
Posts: 369

The questions I would like to ask everyone are:

1) Do you agree that the acceptance of stewardship responsibility for this planet is vitally important?
2) Do you think that this human characteristic of guilt can be important for stewardship to happen?
3) Do you have a different idea whereby this stewardship might develop?
4) Do you give a damn?

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#23438 - 09/10/07 09:29 PM Re: Knowledge begets responsibility which begets guilt [Re: coberst]
redewenur Offline
Megastar

Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
1) We humans have a unique ability not only to destroy ourselves, but also to make or break the ecosystems of this planet. We have a responsibility to our descendants and, I would very much hope, a naturally keen interest, to ensure that our legacy is a world worth living in. I agree that stewardship, or planet management - as it was presented in a book called 'The Gaia Atlas of Planet Management' (published 22 yrs ago by Pan Books) - is indeed vitally important.

2) Guilt will have a role for those who have foreseen and understood the negative consequences of inaction, yet being able to act have failed to do so. I hope activity is not driven by guilt alone, as by that time it may be too late to act.

3) Guilt, as you say, is a condition that may induce some people act. There are also other conditions, such as empathy and compassion for other people and for the other fauna with which we share the planet. Then there is the possibility of reward and punishment, as in China's birth control policy. Whichever, there is a need for people to be presented, or confronted, with the facts in ways they respect and take seriously. The ways and means are open to debate.

4) I have always given the proverbial damn, but I must admit that having offspring focused the mind, as in the case of the threat of nuclear war.
_________________________
"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

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#23591 - 09/24/07 10:34 PM Re: Knowledge begets responsibility which begets guilt [Re: redewenur]
M.LeVert Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 6
may i suggest the following-

1. responsibility comes with conciousness and self awareness.
(and human rights)
i think if you want rights you have to have responsibilities.

that`s one reason why animals don`t have human rights, because they can`t be responsible for their actions, whereas a concious, self aware human can.

2. guilt is the result of not fulfilling responsibilities.
eg.. we have a responsibility not to destroy the planet since
it doesn`t belong to us.
(this includes collective guilt of the species for communal
wrongdoing)

3. probably, current global society has to collapse entirely for
stewardship to be accepted by one and all. but i really hope
not.

4. and yes, i give a very big damn, actually.
unlike the universe at large.

seemingly, the wider cosmos is hugely and profoundly
indifferent to the existence of human beings,so we must set
our own benchmark for life.

my favourite is ``do what you want,and harm no-one``

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#23605 - 09/25/07 10:14 AM Re: Knowledge begets responsibility which begets guilt [Re: M.LeVert]
coberst Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/04/07
Posts: 369
Amen!!!

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#23614 - 09/25/07 03:15 PM Re: Knowledge begets responsibility which begets guilt [Re: coberst]
Mr. Wizard Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/25/07
Posts: 10
Loc: IL
Red, I think we can go too far in throwing some of these terms around. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._D._Laing

On the main topic: Coberst, there is also the possibility that we humans are not the final evolutionary product, since we seem to be so poor at stewardship. Perhaps, we need at least one more (or several more) evolutionary steps, a la Teilhard de Chardin.

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#23617 - 09/25/07 08:10 PM Re: Knowledge begets responsibility which begets guilt [Re: Mr. Wizard]
M.LeVert Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 6
are we in danger of getting too victorian hierarchical and darwinistic?

modern humans, far from being the pinnacle of evolution on earth, are more like just one strain of a number of different primate lines which have attained sentience in the last few million years.

why does evolution have to go ``upwards``?

the eath did very well for many aeons before humans existed, occupied by non-sentient life forms in their trillions.

does stewardship even require conciousness? in fact,we could say non-sentient stewardship is much better than sentient, if you measure by length of time.

should we go back to being ``dumb animals``? once self awareness is gained, it`s a very hard thing to give up. maybe impossible.




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#23618 - 09/25/07 10:01 PM Re: Knowledge begets responsibility which begets guilt [Re: M.LeVert]
Mr. Wizard Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/25/07
Posts: 10
Loc: IL
M,

Reminds me of the Vonnegut novel (forgot the title) where the humans wipe themselves out and the surviving 'sentients' are dolphin-like fish who are happy as clams with simple, uncomplicated brains.

I suspect, from my experience, we are not ready for prime time operation of the sphere. smile

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#23629 - 09/26/07 10:09 AM Re: Knowledge begets responsibility which begets guilt [Re: Mr. Wizard]
coberst Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/04/07
Posts: 369
M

Stewardship is an abstract concept. Only humans have the ability to create and consider abstract ideas.

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#23748 - 10/05/07 03:20 PM Re: Knowledge begets responsibility which begets guilt [Re: coberst]
M.LeVert Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 6
Coberst is correct, of course, but since we are found in posession of conciousness we have a ``duty of care`` towards those that do not.

i`m no tree hugger, but i hate the thought of billions of people stomping around, burning up the place.

stewardship is not a trendy lifestyle choice, it`s an obligation of sentience.

remember at school when one naughty kid gets the whole class punished `cos he wont own up to mischeif? likewise, the wider world pays for the irresponsible activities of the few.

one naughty boy is our addiction to oil. once this is over,sometime in the future, maybe there will be less natural punishment in terms of adverse climate change.

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#26278 - 05/28/08 04:31 PM Re: Knowledge begets responsibility which begets g [Re: M.LeVert]
Revlgking Offline
Megastar

Registered: 01/17/07
Posts: 2311
Loc: markham (Thornhill), Ontario, ...
THE PRACTICE OF STEWARDSHIP
===========================
A young clergyman, fresh out of seminary, thought it would help him better understand the fears and temptations his future congregations faced if he first took a job as a policeman for several months.

He passed the physical examination; then came the oral exam to test his ability to act quickly and wisely in an emergency. Among other questions he was asked, “What would you do to disperse a frenzied crowd?”

He thought for a moment and then said, “I would do something religious. I would preach a sermon on stewardship; Then I would take up the offering, twice.” laugh
============================
BTW, 'steward' comes from two Old English words: stig--meaning building, including the animal and pigstys--+ ward (warden).
We are stewards, managers, for a time, of global-village earth.


Edited by Revlgking (05/28/08 04:35 PM)
_________________________
G~O~D--Now & ForeverIS:Nature, Nurture & PNEUMA-ture, Thanks to Warren Farr&ME AT www.unitheist.org

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#26284 - 05/29/08 12:28 AM Re: Knowledge begets responsibility which begets g [Re: Revlgking]
odin1 Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/13/08
Posts: 136
Loc: North Carolina, USA


1) the acceptance of stewardship is vital and infact mandated to some extent.

2) yes. But guilt usually comes after the fact. I think intelligence mandates protection of our planet and it's resources.

3) right now, I don't think there is another way. Not because it is not there, but because we won't allow it. Unfortunately the human race has to learn things the hard way. Some people think ahead, some don't. Some people want to change, other people agree, but they want an alternative, but there is no alternative or it's bad. In short who is in charge and by what authority?

4) Yes, I give a damn.

best regards,
odin1
_________________________
People will forgive you for anything -but being right !
odin1



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