organon

The legitimacy of parental obligation

236 posts in this topic

Does a rational man feel a legitimate obligation to his parents because they gave him existence? Does he believe he owes them thanks, or moral regard, or financial support, by virtue of nothing other than the fact that they were the agents of his existence?

--

For a rational individual, from where does legitimate obligation derive?

From contract.

Specifically, from a contract one has entered into deliberately, where consideration was or will be exchanged, and where fraud was not committed by the other party or parties.

This applies to both spiritual and material contracts.

In the context of material contracts, the exchange of goods is governed by the agreed upon terms.

In the context of spiritual contracts, e.g., regard, admiration, friendship, love, the exchange of these values is in the underlying, implied terms of: honesty between the involved parties regarding their respective identities, as grasped through evidence including appearance, behavior, work, and speech. One's obligation in regard to other men, in regard to spiritual matters, is: honesty, or the lack of deceit. Should a man, for example, lie about any aspect of identity, such lie causing a woman to sleep with him, he has committed fraud. If she sleeps with him because she thinks he was responsible for some productive achievement, that was in fact accomplished by his sister, and he knows this as he is performing the sexual act with her, he has committed fraud.

So: Do you have a legitimate obligation to your parents in any regard whatever?

Answer: No. Why? Because you entered into no contract, and could not have, not having existed at the time.

Whatever the nature of your parents’ motivations, rational or irrational, was their own concern, and you were not involved.

Now, consider parents who are wholly good, who were motivated by the desire to bring a human being into the world and see him or her grow into an actualized, radiantly healthy (in terms of both body and consciousness) adult (let us assume the offspring is female).

Would they expect gratitude from that woman for: conception; carrying the fetus to term; raising the child to autonomy?

No, the choice to make that investment was wholly theirs, and followed from a cost/benefit calculation: the money, time, and education needed to bring the child up – in exchange for the pleasure of watching that being of pure light grow to adulthood, and the hope of the eventual contemplation of the thoroughly healthy, authentically happy, productive, autonomous woman who would one day walk upon the earth.

Do they derive pleasure from their role in the actualization of that adult, and in the grasp of an actualized human being and her work?

Without question.

But were she to offer them her moral regard, or financial support, or thanks, out of duty, regardless of what they are, simply because they are her parents, they would reject the offer.

She values them immensely, and loves them dearly -- but because of who they are, because of the identified nature of their motivation for conceiving, bearing, and raising her, and what this implies about who they are.

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So: Do you have a legitimate obligation to your parents in any regard whatever?

This should read:

So: Do you have a legitimate obligation to your parents in any regard whatever for conception, pregnancy, and raising you to autonomy?

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Would they expect gratitude from that woman for: conception; carrying the fetus to term; raising the child to autonomy?

This should read:

Would they expect, as a matter of obligation on her part, gratitude from that woman for: conception; carrying the fetus to term; raising the child to autonomy? [addition italicized]

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So: Do you have a legitimate obligation to your parents in any regard whatever?

Answer: No. Why? Because you entered into no contract, and could not have, not having existed at the time.

If they were rotten people, no. If they took care of you and loved you, I think that it would be a massive injustice to feel no obligation of any sort towards them. And, contract or not, the metaphysical fact of reality is that a child owes their existence - a precondition to any other state of living that he will ever experience - to his parents. Unless somebody hates their life, I think that is highly significant.

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So: Do you have a legitimate obligation to your parents in any regard whatever?

Answer: No. Why? Because you entered into no contract, and could not have, not having existed at the time.

If they were rotten people, no. If they took care of you and loved you, I think that it would be a massive injustice to feel no obligation of any sort towards them.

If their love for you (a rational individual) is based on their own, rational values, and if their perception of you, and yours of them, involves no intentional deceit, then you would feel affection, or more, for them.

And, contract or not, the metaphysical fact of reality is that a child owes their existence - a precondition to any other state of living that he will ever experience - to his parents.

It is true that they were the agents of his existence. But this, taken in and of itself, does not matter.

Assume, for example, that the progression was:

(1) Conception: accidental.

(2) Pregnancy: belief that abortion is immoral.

(3) Raising to autonomy: a duty they resentfully accepted.

Unless somebody hates their life, I think that is highly significant.

Does a rational man value his life? Yes. Does that imply an obligation to his parents, regardless of their nature or motivation (see above)? No.

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If they took care of you ....

I would inquire into the nature of their motivation. See above.

... and loved you, I think that it would be a massive injustice to feel no obligation of any sort towards them.

If that love is based upon rational values, without question, given that you are rational, then you will of course offer them a spiritual payment for their own goodness, to whatever degree, as evidenced by their response to what is good in you.

If they loved you because they believed you to be a potential future agent against the Great Satan, then -- no.

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Does a rational man feel a legitimate obligation to his parents because they gave him existence?
I think it would be helpful if you defined the term 'obligation' in this context.
...consider parents who are wholly good, who were motivated by the desire to bring a human being into the world and see him or her grow into an actualized, radiantly healthy (in terms of both body and consciousness) adult (let us assume the offspring is female).

Would they expect gratitude from that woman for: conception; carrying the fetus to term; raising the child to autonomy?

No...

I must disagree quite strongly with this claim. As Phil indicates (though, absent definition, I hesitate over his use of the term 'obligation'), it would be a massive injustice not to acknowledge with at least thankfulness all the good you admit these 'wholly good' parents have done for you all your life.

In other words, gratitude, thankfulness, respect, admiration, love - any form of expression of one's value for someone - is NOT limited merely to 'contractual agreements'.

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...consider parents who are wholly good, who were motivated by the desire to bring a human being into the world and see him or her grow into an actualized, radiantly healthy (in terms of both body and consciousness) adult (let us assume the offspring is female).

Would they expect gratitude from that woman for: conception; carrying the fetus to term; raising the child to autonomy?

No...

I must disagree quite strongly with this claim. As Phil indicates (though, absent definition, I hesitate over his use of the term 'obligation'), it would be a 2massive injustice not to acknowledge with at least thankfulness all the good you admit these 'wholly good' parents have done for you all your life.

Please note the alteration of this sentence in a post following the initial post, above:

Would they expect, as a matter of obligation on her part, gratitude from that woman for: conception; carrying the fetus to term; raising the child to autonomy? [addition italicized]

Please let me know if your objection still holds.

Re obligation:

Obligation (dictionary.com): something by which a person is bound or obliged to do certain things, and which arises out of a sense of duty or results from custom, law, etc.

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Would they expect, as a matter of obligation on her part, gratitude from that woman for: conception; carrying the fetus to term; raising the child to autonomy?

I would amend this still further:

Would they expect, as a matter of obligation on her part, irrespective of her identification of their nature, gratitude from that woman for: conception; carrying the fetus to term; raising the child to autonomy? [addition italicized]

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In other words, gratitude, thankfulness, respect, admiration, love - any form of expression of one's value for someone - is NOT limited merely to 'contractual agreements'.

She without question feels love toward her parents -- but this proceeds from an identification of their nature and motivation, and is not something she feels she owes to them irrespective of these. (And, were it offered to them in that context, they would reject it.)

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Does a rational man feel a legitimate obligation to his parents because they gave him existence?
I think it would be helpful if you defined the term 'obligation' in this context.
...consider parents who are wholly good, who were motivated by the desire to bring a human being into the world and see him or her grow into an actualized, radiantly healthy (in terms of both body and consciousness) adult (let us assume the offspring is female).

Would they expect gratitude from that woman for: conception; carrying the fetus to term; raising the child to autonomy?

No...

I must disagree quite strongly with this claim. As Phil indicates (though, absent definition, I hesitate over his use of the term 'obligation'), it would be a massive injustice not to acknowledge with at least thankfulness all the good you admit these 'wholly good' parents have done for you all your life.

In other words, gratitude, thankfulness, respect, admiration, love - any form of expression of one's value for someone - is NOT limited merely to 'contractual agreements'.

I would add to the disagreement of organon's statements that one also experiences gratitude for the fortuity of being related to and have the opportunity to converse (if said wholly good parent(s) are still living) with wholly good persons, though I would need to clarify if organon's definition of "wholly good" is akin to mine - not mere gratitude for one's own existence and upbringing.

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I should clarify, I guess, that by "obligation" I do not mean some Kantian duty, but a legitimate sense that one literally does owe one's life to one's parents. If they were sufficiently vicious, that negates it, because they failed to act as real parents and inflicted harm.

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I would add to the disagreement of organon's statements that one also experiences gratitude for the fortuity of being related to and have the opportunity to converse (if said wholly good parent(s) are still living) with wholly good persons, though I would need to clarify if organon's definition of "wholly good" is akin to mine - not mere gratitude for one's own existence and upbringing.

By 'wholly good', I mean thoroughly rational, with all derivative primary values.

grateful (dictionary.com): warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received

Does she feel gratitude to them for the benevolent, rational way in which she was raised? Without question.

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I would amend this still further...
With all the changes you keep making to your question, it is difficult to understand exactly what it is you are actually trying to ask here. Are you asking: "Is it valid to be grateful or thankful for the mere fact of being born?" I would certainly answer "Yes" to that question.

If you are asking some other question, you need to be clearer than you have been to this point.

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Does a rational man feel a legitimate obligation to his parents because they gave him existence?
I think it would be helpful if you defined the term 'obligation' in this context.
...consider parents who are wholly good, who were motivated by the desire to bring a human being into the world and see him or her grow into an actualized, radiantly healthy (in terms of both body and consciousness) adult (let us assume the offspring is female).

Would they expect gratitude from that woman for: conception; carrying the fetus to term; raising the child to autonomy?

No...

I must disagree quite strongly with this claim. As Phil indicates (though, absent definition, I hesitate over his use of the term 'obligation'), it would be a massive injustice not to acknowledge with at least thankfulness all the good you admit these 'wholly good' parents have done for you all your life.

In other words, gratitude, thankfulness, respect, admiration, love - any form of expression of one's value for someone - is NOT limited merely to 'contractual agreements'.

I would add to the disagreement of organon's statements that one also experiences gratitude for the fortuity of being related to and have the opportunity to converse (if said wholly good parent(s) are still living) with wholly good persons, though I would need to clarify if organon's definition of "wholly good" is akin to mine - not mere gratitude for one's own existence and upbringing.

Cometmaker, did you review posts #8 and #9 before posting?

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Are you asking: "Is it valid to be grateful or thankful for the mere fact of being born?" I would certainly answer "Yes" to that question.

To offer gratitude, or thanks, to one's parents, completely divorced from an identification of their nature and motivation, as a matter of obligation: no.

Am I happy that I am here? Passionately. But that is a different question.

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With all the changes you keep making to your question, it is difficult to understand exactly what it is you are actually trying to ask here.

Brian, the change has been primarily to a single sentence, which further specified the initial formulation, to wit:

"Would they expect, as a matter of obligation on her part, irrespective of her identification of their nature, gratitude from that woman for: conception; carrying the fetus to term; raising the child to autonomy?"

And this question is not the central one of the initial post; this question is a secondary matter, of rational parents' expectations.

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Are you asking: "Is it valid to be grateful or thankful for the mere fact of being born?" I would certainly answer "Yes" to that question.
To offer gratitude, or thanks, to one's parents, completely divorced from an identification of their nature and motivation, as a matter of obligation: no.
You are still not being clear. Are you saying I have accurately identified the question you are asking and that you have a different answer to it (ie 'no' rather than 'yes')? Or are you saying you are asking a different question than the one I identified? If the latter is the case, then you REALLY need to identify that question very clearly now.

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Does a rational man feel a legitimate obligation to his parents because they gave him existence? Does he believe he owes them thanks...by virtue of nothing other than the fact that they were the agents of his existence?
Are you asking: "Is it valid to be grateful or thankful for the mere fact of being born?" I would certainly answer "Yes" to that question.
To offer gratitude, or thanks, to one's parents, completely divorced from an identification of their nature and motivation, as a matter of obligation: no.
So - organon asked whether a rational man should feel a legitimate obligation to his parents because they gave him existence. What sort of obligation did he identify? Thanks, for one. In answer to his own question, organon seems to indicate that a rational man should feel no thanks to his parents for this 'mere' fact. He seems to indicate that the fact a rational man's parents indeed gave him existence itself - gave him life - that fact alone, by itself, deserves no form of acknowledgment whatsoever.

That is wrong.

Am I happy that I am here? Passionately. But that is a different question.
organon claims the fact a rational man is happy to exist is a "different question" from the one he is asking. That is an error.

A man's existence is not causeless. A man's existence is the result of the choices and actions made by his parents - specifically the choice and action to give birth to him - to give him existence. Now, the fact that a rational man is "happy" he was brought into existence indicates that he is happy his parents made that choice and took that action. He recognizes they could have made other choices and taken other actions which would have resulted in him never having existed (abortion for example). In other words, the rational man considers his parent's choice and action in this regard to be 'good'.

A rational man (because he is just) gives to others that which they deserve - that which they have earned either through their good or bad choices and actions. And since the rational man considers his parents choice and action to give him life to be good, that judgment means his parents have earned from him, at the very least, his thanks for that choice and action. They have earned and deserve thanks "because they gave him existence."

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Are you asking: "Is it valid to be grateful or thankful for the mere fact of being born?" I would certainly answer "Yes" to that question.
To offer gratitude, or thanks, to one's parents, completely divorced from an identification of their nature and motivation, as a matter of obligation: no.
You are still not being clear. Are you saying I have accurately identified the question you are asking and that you have a different answer to it (ie 'no' rather than 'yes')? Or are you saying you are asking a different question than the one I identified? If the latter is the case, then you REALLY need to identify that question very clearly now.

Am I happy to be here? Quite so. But this is a different issue entirely than, "Do I owe my parents gratitude for the fact that they were the metaphysical agents of my birth?"

Gratitude is a spiritual payment. It implies and requires the involvement of values of the spirit. It is a payment for such values.

Does a man properly feel gratitude that his parents put him through college, if their motivation was rational and good, and was an answer to their recognition of his value or potential value, to whatever degree, that he eventually realized? Yes.

Does a child properly feel gratitude to a worthless prostitute, who conceived accidentally, carried the child to term out of fear of going to hell should she have had an abortion, and raised him out of duty to her God, offering virtually no positive spiritual education or support, because she feared she would go to hell if she didn't? No.

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Am I happy to be here? Quite so. But this is a different issue entirely than, "Do I owe my parents gratitude for the fact that they were the metaphysical agents of my birth?"

Gratitude is a spiritual payment. It implies and requires the involvement of values of the spirit. It is a payment for such values.

organon, did you review post #19 before posting?

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So - organon asked whether a rational man should feel a legitimate obligation to his parents because they gave him existence. What sort of obligation did he identify? Thanks, for one. In answer to his own question, organon seems to indicate that a rational man should feel no thanks to his parents for this 'mere' fact. He seems to indicate that the fact a rational man's parents indeed gave him existence itself - gave him life - that fact alone, by itself, deserves no form of acknowledgment whatsoever.

That is wrong.

I disagree. It doesn't.

If, by acknowledgement, you mean gratitude, see the above post. It is a spiritual payment.

Am I happy that I am here? Passionately. But that is a different question.
organon claims the fact a rational man is happy to exist is a "different question" from the one he is asking. That is an error.

Again, I disagree. See the above post.

A man's existence is not causeless.

Agreed.

A man's existence is the result of the choices and actions made by his parents - specifically the choice and action to give birth to him - to give him existence. Now, the fact that a rational man is "happy" he was brought into existence indicates that he is happy his parents made that choice and took that action.

Agreed. But this is irrelevant to the question of whether one is then obligated to offer them gratitude, which is a payment for values of the spirit.

Assume that they conceived with the intent of creating a warrior for Allah, who would die as a suicide bomber. They went through with the pregnancy, and raised him, with this intent. Am I glad that I exist? Quite so. Would I offer these individuals, who now know only hatred for me, gratitude? By all that is, no.

He recognizes they could have made other choices and taken other actions which would have resulted in him never having existed (abortion for example). In other words, the rational man considers his parent's choice and action in this regard to be 'good'.

No. Goodness is a moral evaluation, which requires an examination of motivation.

A rational man (because he is just) gives to others that which they deserve - that which they have earned either through their good or bad choices and actions. And since the rational man considers his parents choice and action to give him life to be good, that judgment means his parents have earned from him, at the very least, his thanks for that choice and action. They have earned and deserve thanks "because they gave him existence."

You are reasoning in this way:

1. My parents gave me my life.

2. I value my life, and am happy that I am here.

--

Therefore, I owe my parents gratitude in some respect.

This does not follow. Gratitude is a spiritual payment, which requires an examination of the nature of those with whom one is dealing, in this case, through an examination of motivation. Again, consider the example of the parents, wholly depraved, who sought to conceive, bring to term, and raise a suicide bomber.

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Am I happy to be here? Quite so. But this is a different issue entirely than, "Do I owe my parents gratitude for the fact that they were the metaphysical agents of my birth?"

Gratitude is a spiritual payment. It implies and requires the involvement of values of the spirit. It is a payment for such values.

organon, did you review post #19 before posting?

Post #20 was a response to post #18; post #22 was a response to post #19.

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I would like to point out that organon is (again) asking different questions than the "central one of the initial post": "Do I owe my parents gratitude for the fact that they were the metaphysical agents of my birth?"

Now he is asking not only asking that whether a man should feel grateful for the fact his parents gave birth to him, but is ALSO asking:

Should a man feel gratitude that his parents put him through college?

Should a man be thankful that his parents' motivation in raising him is rational and good?

Should a child feel gratitude that his mother was a worthless prostitute?

Should a child feel thankful that his mother conceived accidentally rather than purposefully?

Should a child feel grateful that his mother carried to term because of fear rather than love?

Should a child feel grateful that his mother raised him out of faith rather than reason?

Should a child feel thankful that he was offered poor rather than good spiritual education?

etc

etc

etc

Unlike the issue of a rational man's happiness at being given life, all these questions are indeed other, unrelated questions. As such, they do not pertain to the answer of the first question - should a man be grateful to his parents for giving birth to him.

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He recognizes they could have made other choices and taken other actions which would have resulted in him never having existed (abortion for example). In other words, the rational man considers his parent's choice and action in this regard to be 'good'.
No. Goodness is a moral evaluation, which requires an examination of motivation.
Unless your judgment is that your birth was an immoral act - ie bringing you into existence was an evil thing for your parents to have done - you owe your parents thanks for that act. Of course, if you do consider your having been brought into existence an immoral act - an act of evil - then this entire conversation is pointless.

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