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HelenaExMachina

The Good Place S3 - heaven is a place on Earth (spoilers)

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Wow this thread got deep quickly!

From a social evolutionary point of view, lying would be considered morally long simply because lying reduces the level of trust between people. And a society where there is no trust cannot function and so would fall apart. But some lying is probably acceptable and unavoidable. Children learn to lie at a very early age and it is a product of humans ability to understand that our own level of knowledge is not the same as other peoples. 

I always considered Chidi's inability to make a decision and moral dilemmas to be quite a selfish pursuit. He wants to do the right thing, almost as a form of self satisfaction and as an intellectual exercise more than out of a wish to help people. A bit like Tahani being good for the wrong reasons. 

So him not wanting to lie about his opinion on boots shows his own self centred thought process. Thats not to say he is a selfish person, he has been very selfless at times towards Eleanor. But again that raises the question as to whether being selfless is an essentially good quality if done for the wrong reasons ( wanting people to like you for instance.)

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5 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

Wait, am I in the good place thread or the Bakker thread?

It's weird isn't it? I'm now kind of hoping we get some kellhus like figure turning up and "helping" them. That or for Janet to malfunction and only shout questions.

That and fun comparisons eg chidi and Akka. 

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4 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

Wait, am I in the good place thread or the Bakker thread?

Maybe there isn't a difference?  Maybe every thread is really the Bakker thread?

1 hour ago, Heartofice said:

Wow this thread got deep quickly!

Well, it's something of my nature to think about things in a convoluted manner.  I don't know that it's deep, but I am trying to understand Kant and I'm not really smart enough to read Kant directly.

1 hour ago, Heartofice said:

Children learn to lie at a very early age and it is a product of humans ability to understand that our own level of knowledge is not the same as other peoples.

Well, our daughter, at 3, would lie about who did things, even when the person she said did it was not even present.  She "quickly" realized that it was better to blame it on someone who actually could have done it though.  So, I think the "instinct" to lie likely comes before a theory of knowledge, or even rudimentary knowledge of the fact of knowledge, even if that does later comes into play.

2 hours ago, Heartofice said:

I always considered Chidi's inability to make a decision and moral dilemmas to be quite a selfish pursuit. He wants to do the right thing, almost as a form of self satisfaction and as an intellectual exercise more than out of a wish to help people. A bit like Tahani being good for the wrong reasons.

Well, he is also flatly over-the-top risk averse.  I'm really not sure if that is self-satisfaction though, although that is probably part of it.

I think though, that being "hard-line Kantian" isn't what gets Chidi into the most trouble.  It's that he wants to be, but still doubts it, second guesses and then, crafting counter-arguments, does nothing.   It's really less that a "hard-line Kantian" line is bad, it's that Chidi can't even stick with that.  The ectreme nature of the doctrine really isn't his problem.  His problem is that he doesn't actually buy it, but still considers it the ideal.

I'd, in general, agree that Moral Absolutism can be sticky at time.  But so can Moral Relativism, or Moral Realism.  My only real aim, was to look at if there was "more to" Kant than just something to be dismissed as "too Absolute."  I think there is, because we likely need some kind of Transcendental or Absolute, societally, to function.

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More on lying: lying is an important aspect of outside-group and self-vs-other protection. It is a social shield and weapon. As pointed out above, it's a hugely important deal in child behavioral development, but it's also important in a whole lot of other things. 

Here's another less absurd real-world example: undercover operations. With Kantian morality no one would ever do this successfully, and that obviously can cause massive harm. Spying, sting ops, diplomacy, bargaining, even games of chance - all fail with this basic premise. 

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19 hours ago, .H. said:

Well, this is where the whole Kantian notion gets interesting to me.  Because I think that the notion is correct, of course, in isolation.  The case of the the murderer at your door though, or Chidi in the Bad Good Place, is that you are effectively being coerced into practical compromise of your morals.  Of course Kant can, from his armchair, decree that the correct thing to do is be honest.  And he'd be right, from his armchair.  But you can't make calls from the armchair.  We don't get to be perfect rational creatures.  So we have to make "judgement" calls all the time.  I can't really say, with clarity, that lying because you have good intentions is OK.

This reminds me a lot of libertarianism. Yes, you're right, in a vacuum it's a good principle, but it fails quite heavily as soon as you introduce any single bad actor into the mix. Any moral system that says it's better to tell the truth when that will directly result in people suffering is obviously flawed. 

19 hours ago, .H. said:

Remember that one of Kant's foundational, categorical imperatives is "Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law."  From the Kantian perspective, if your lying is permissible based on subjective discretion, than so is everyone's.  Which means, everything is subject to the arbitrary nature of everyone's discretion, vis-a-vis truth. 

Yep! I would not want to be prosecuted for lying to random people. Now, breaking a contract or lying to specific officials in their duty, that's another thing - but lying in general?

19 hours ago, .H. said:

I think maybe the "hole" in it all is that honesty isn't necessarily the "highest virtue."  But again, I'm apt to point out, that the overall Kantian notion that allowance for lying based on discretion is a route of rather bad things in the long run, because discretion won't always be so "clear" as in the case direct choice of someone's immediate life or death. 

And I disagree, or rather I disagree that lying is any worse than, say, allowing things like possession of property, relationships, children, work, industry, etc.

19 hours ago, .H. said:

Like, "less of an asshole and somewhat honest" sounds like what?  Or, "even less of an asshole and socially acceptable?"

I'm not being rhetorical, I am generally bad with social skills.  Sure, flatly blunt would be an asshole thing, like saying, "wow, those are hideous, how could you?"  Because the other person might well like them and good for them.  But something honest like, "wow, those seem too bright and a little busy, I don't think I'd really like to wear them."  Is also honest and speaks to your own subjectivity.  Sure, someone seeking affirmation would consider that an "asshole" thing to say, but is it, really?  Is the "socially acceptable" thing to do to say you think they look good?

To go back to my example, am I an asshole if I say to my wife, "I think you should wear the black dress instead of the red one, it's more flattering" if she asked my opinion on both?

Ultimately these are decisions you have to make and there's nothing universal. Some relationships can be built on someone literally saying 'yes, you look bad in that dress' and the other person appreciating it. This is a cultural value as well - different cultures appreciate brute honesty more than others. You know your wife better than I do, I hope, so it stands to you - though I'd recommend not starting with the exclamation 'wow' no matter what. 

And yes, your example is a good way to be less of an asshole. You could even say 'you look great, but I think you look even better in X' - which would be potentially a lie or an omission of truth (she looks great, but that dress is hideous), or you could say something less committal (red with sequins is not my favorite) or you could be blunt, and ultimately a lot of it depends on prior information - which is to say, it's all subjective. And all of this is different than, say, randomly telling someone on the street that their dress is hideous. 

Context ultimately is massively important. Dismissing the world's complexities because they're not absolute and might lead to bad things is a stupid way to live. 

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7 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

This reminds me a lot of libertarianism. Yes, you're right, in a vacuum it's a good principle, but it fails quite heavily as soon as you introduce any single bad actor into the mix. Any moral system that says it's better to tell the truth when that will directly result in people suffering is obviously flawed.

Well, I think that is why it is harder to just toss away (at least for me) Kant's premise.  Because there isn't anything wrong with what he says, there is something wrong with bad actors.  Which is, pretty much, that they aren't on the Kantian system.  So, Kant gives us a good system, but a totally impractical one.  I can't say why, but that distinction makes a difference to me.  I guess it is something like the distinction between "Absolutes don't exist" and "Absolutes are not practical."

29 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

Ultimately these are decisions you have to make and there's nothing universal. Some relationships can be built on someone literally saying 'yes, you look bad in that dress' and the other person appreciating it. This is a cultural value as well - different cultures appreciate brute honesty more than others. You know your wife better than I do, I hope, so it stands to you - though I'd recommend not starting with the exclamation 'wow' no matter what. 

And yes, your example is a good way to be less of an asshole. You could even say 'you look great, but I think you look even better in X' - which would be potentially a lie or an omission of truth (she looks great, but that dress is hideous), or you could say something less committal (red with sequins is not my favorite) or you could be blunt, and ultimately a lot of it depends on prior information - which is to say, it's all subjective. And all of this is different than, say, randomly telling someone on the street that their dress is hideous.

Right, ok, I'd agree with you in general, really.  But I do actually think that if anyone asks for your opinion and you give them one honestly and they dislike you for that they are the bad actor, not you.  Of course there is nuance, because I'm something of a "language is never neutral" sort of person, so how you say something will always matter, but I think it is a very bad idea, in general, to punish people for honesty.  If someone is apt to chastise honesty, they are the asshole, not the honest person.

37 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

Context ultimately is massively important. Dismissing the world's complexities because they're not absolute and might lead to bad things is a stupid way to live.

I actually think that, like this talk here, Kant's point actually illuminates complexity, rather than dismisses it.  Which is to say, maybe that wasn't Kant's aim, but I think that is why not dismissing his point outright has merit.  So, even if Kant is wrong, the way in which he is wrong gives us better understanding.

To bring this back around, I don't think Chidi's problem is Moral Absolutism.  It's that he entertains the idea, while neither committing or dismissing it, along with a ton of other "counter" ideas.  That's what gets him into so much trouble.  At some point you need to shit or get off the pot.  He does neither.  Except when it comes to Eleanor.

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Although I think I had pretty firmly driven off anyone from this thread, since we were discussing Kant (or at least I was) I found this quote (while researching Hegel) from Kant in Anthropologie:

Quote

"Passions are cancers for pure practical reason and often incurable. . . . It is folly (making a part of one's aim the whole) that strictly contradicts reason even in its formal principle. Therefore the passions are not only, like the affects, unfortunate moods that are pregnant with many evils, but also, without exception, wicked , and the most benign desire, even i f it aims at what belongs ( considering the matter) to virtue, e.g., to charity [Wolzltiitigkeit] , yet is (considering the form) , as soon as it degenerates into a passion, not only pragmatically pernicious but also morally reprehensible. An affect brings about a momentary collapse of freedom and of the dominion over oneself. Passion renounces them and finds its pleasure and satisfaction in a slavish mind . . . . Nevertheless the passions have also found their panegyrists ( for where do these fail to appear once malignancy has invaded principles?) and it is said 'that never has anything great in the world been achieved without violent passions, and Providence itself has wisely planted them in human nature as springs of action.'-Of the various inclinations, without which, as natural and animalic needs, living nature (even that of man ) cannot get along, one may concede this. But that they should be allowed to become passions, or actually were meant to, that Providence did not want, and to represent them from that point of view may be forgiven to a poet (namely, to say with Pope : 'if reason be a magnet, then the passions are winds' ) ; but a philosopher must not allow this principle to come near him, not even to praise it as a provisional institution of Providence which intentionally pl aced it in human nature until mankind would reach the proper degree of culture. "

My point was never to really say that Kant was indispensably correct, but only to say that his take has merit, even if that merit is solely to illuminate just where such an approach breaks down.  In being so against "passion" (not surprising, considering his life) it is little wonder then how and why Kant would arrive at such an "absolute" morality.  So, while it is "reasonable" that there could be things absolute, we, as humans, are decidedly not (which is likely for the "best").

Hopefully some looking at Hegel will illuminate some other things as well.

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17 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

Called it!

Yep, you pretty much did. It's basically impossible for humans to get into the Good Place now because even good actions can unintentionally cause massive amounts of harm*, and the world got drastically more connected and complicated once Trans-Oceanic travel started to knit the world together.

I'm very curious as to how the rest of this season is going to play out, now that the show has a fourth season in line. The titles for the final two episodes are "Chidi sees the Time-Knife" and "Pandemonium", which makes me wonder if our protagonists (especially Michael) are going to break reality somehow - with the fourth season being them putting it back together. 

* Looks like Chidi was right, too! Remember his bit about how he thought it was because he bought the Almond Milk despite knowing the environmental problems caused by it? Turns out that's actually kind of right in general (if maybe not specifically in his case). 

Edited by Winter Bass

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18 minutes ago, Winter Bass said:

Yep, you pretty much did. It's basically impossible for humans to get into the Good Place now because even good actions can unintentionally cause massive amounts of harm*, and the world got drastically more connected and complicated once Trans-Oceanic travel started to knit the world together.

I'm very curious as to how the rest of this season is going to play out, now that the show has a fourth season in line. The titles for the final two episodes are "Chidi sees the Time-Knife" and "Pandemonium", which makes me wonder if our protagonists (especially Michael) are going to break reality somehow - with the fourth season being them putting it back together. 

* Looks like Chidi was right, too! Remember his bit about how he thought it was because he bought the Almond Milk despite knowing the environmental problems caused by it? Turns out that's actually kind of right in general (if maybe not specifically in his case). 

Well clearly they fixed something considering the Jaguars are bad again.

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13 hours ago, Kalbear said:

Called it!

You did! So much so that as I was watching I had to second guess myself and wonder if I had watched the episode already.

So, -478 points for make no me doubt myself you Dreadful sinner!

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The best stories have gotcha moments that if you're perceptive enough, could have figured it out. And 'this being SO HARD' has been a theme of the show since the first season, as they've explained over and over how being ethical is difficult and laden with choosing between many bad choices. 

One of the reasons S1 is so good is that they do hide the gotcha, but rewatching it (or knowing what it is ahead of time, as I did) doesn't hurt at all, it makes it better. You can see Eleanor exclaim how hell is literally other people, and she could have her dad and mom together and torture each other for eternity. And then it goes from there. 

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It didn't hurt it for me, and I was spoiled on the Season 1 surprise before I ever decided to watch the show. 

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On ‎1‎/‎11‎/‎2019 at 8:45 AM, Kalbear said:

Called it!

Yeah - I was just watching the episode and thinking "is Kalbear writing this show"?

So globalisation and increased complexity is what's sealing us off from the good place - the rose analogy was a great way to demonstrate this.

I also like the depiction of the good place staff and how it's going to take a long time/never to try and change things. I'm curious as to how they go about this. I guess there's an argument for why the rules shouldn't change -if anything it would be more productive for the living to be made aware of the rules to rid us of complacency/ignoring the far flung consequences of other people's suffering.

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And Hmmmmmmmm.... 

I’m kinda conflicted. On the one hand, I’m curious to see how the writers intend to get out of this moral spider web they have build around themselves. On the other hand I’m more and more convinced with every episode that they’ll just end up tripping over this spiderweb and fall hard on the floor. For the very reason nobody can’t get into to the good place. The world is so complicated there is no good answer to how to be good. 

Eleanor annoys me, Tahani and Jason are losing their mojo and even Janet’s genius is fading under the shade of her romance with Jason. It’s just not the same as the first season was. Or even the second. 

Also, the whole Doug Forcett storyline is sort of contradicting this consequence storyline. Doug Forcett basically reduced himself to nothing trying to abide every rule and making sure he minimalized the harmful consequences of his actions, like wasting water and all. That episode taught us this was not the good way to live because it was over the top. And now it turns out that the system does hold people responsible the hundred times indirect consequences of their well intended actions, like biological footprint and third world living standards, the very same things Doug tried to avoid by eating only radishes and drinking his own urine etc. so where’s the silver lining? Which brings us back to my first thought. That I don’t think I’ll find it in all the moral cobweb. 

 

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Really liked this episode, managed to keep it funny even as we saw Heaven is run by fools who are completely okay with eternal concentration camps. I was sort of hoping the Good Place would be empty of angels/gods rather than not filled with ineffectual/worthless ones...but it was a good analogy for people who are really nice but not actually good in a larger sense.

One of the interesting things about S3 is how much of the universe we're seeing - the Void, Heaven's mailroom, and now the Pancake Hole.

A bit worried they'll find a way to make it easier for more people to go to the Good or at least Neutral Place by the end, but the people in Hell will be stuck there for Eternity.

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13 hours ago, Sci-2 said:

A bit worried they'll find a way to make it easier for more people to go to the Good or at least Neutral Place by the end, but the people in Hell will be stuck there for Eternity.

I think they're going to completely break the system altogether by the end of this season, with the reconstruction happening in the fourth season (which they've gotten, but which I suspect will be the last one unless the ratings get drastically better). The final two episode titles are "Chidi sees the Time-Knife" and "Pandemonium". 

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they end up breaking things after something like what you suggest. Imagine the Judge taking into mind what they've said, and making changes for future arrivals . . . but they only apply to future arrivals, not all the people who got screwed over under the old rules (including our heroes). Michael then tries something drastic again, and pandemonium ensues. 

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On 1/13/2019 at 4:02 AM, Winter Bass said:

I think they're going to completely break the system altogether by the end of this season, with the reconstruction happening in the fourth season (which they've gotten, but which I suspect will be the last one unless the ratings get drastically better). The final two episode titles are "Chidi sees the Time-Knife" and "Pandemonium". 

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they end up breaking things after something like what you suggest. Imagine the Judge taking into mind what they've said, and making changes for future arrivals . . . but they only apply to future arrivals, not all the people who got screwed over under the old rules (including our heroes). Michael then tries something drastic again, and pandemonium ensues. 

Don't they only need five seasons? Seems like they'd get the last one to finish the story, even if they have to cut some corners...

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