Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Random Quote about Morality

From a recent thread on Slashdot
... My view is that there just is no substitute for a system of social morality like those in eastern cultures of old. Modern society has the attitude that "if it's not illegal, do it". Unfortunately, the law will never be able to codify in black letters the rich spectrum of behavioral regulations imposed by morality, developed over thousands of years of human behavior. Thus, individuals conforming only to the law and ignoring ethics and morals will inevitably breach their moral duty, and the damage they do is limited only by their "creativity" in using the law and the social power they wield due to their position, wealth or influence.

In short, we need to disabuse ourselves of this trend to consider ethics and morals some hokey, freedom-fettering construct that has become obsolete. It is very much necessary, and Wall Street is a great place to look if you want an example of why.

You may find him regressive, and he is. Eastern morality has failed even in the East. But, and this is the important question, now what?

Everybody knows morality is a moderation of our "instincts" which can wreak havoc. The modern world has outsourced morality to institutions. To regulatory bodies. "If they say this is acceptable, there's nothing wrong in it." Law is not a substitute for moral behavior. But what other option do we have?

Value education in the face of 24 hour Television? You must be kidding.

The existence of the "market" exacerbates this tendency of evaluating all behavior in terms of where it stands financially and legally. The prevailing Gods of the modern Have's are the rich and famous. "That's who I want to be."

The saints and scriptures are for the Have-nots.

George Soros says: "It's not whether you're right or wrong, but how much money you make when you're right and how much you lose when you're wrong."

He's in tune with the times. (Though to be fair, he may be asking you to put your money where your mouth is)

If you return the extra change that you got from a shopkeeper, you are a moral person, who believes in doing the "right thing". If you don't, you are a modern man, and you will win. An environment of distrust will develop, of course (as any ethologist will tell you), but how does that matter anyway, as "I am mortal", "I have but one life to live", "I live for none but myself", the slogans of modernity.

Poor Richard ("Honesty is the best policy") didn't have a clue about how the world works.

Or maybe he did, and we are doomed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

These days the question that is troubling me a lot is "What is the right/moral thing to do." Here are some thoughts I have formed, none of which are easing my unrest though.

1. There is nothing right or wrong in absolute sense. So, there can't be a cosmic moral law.

This necessitates some context for morality to be defined. Taking the context of humanity -

2. Doing as you would like others to do is moral. This is derived from Kant's moral theory. When we do something and wish at the same time that it becomes a universal maxim, that is moral.

This, however, in our modern world doesn't seem possible. Because even the ordinary things like eating meat if became universal then humanity faces problems which emerge outside the context of humanity. So, basically, defining morality in the limited context of humanity doesn't help for long time. And encompassing larger context is not being possible.

3. Then I thought this: Doing whatever you like (because there's no right and wrong in absolute sense) is moral as long as it does not go detrimental to your interests. For example, if I don't like filth then throwing garbage outside my house is immoral. But if I am indifferent to filth or no filth, then it's okay to litter the whole world.

The problem with this is that those people who are careless and do whatever they like (as per this theory) provided that they are genuinely careless and don't feel a pinch of wrong-doing inside. This will increase the suffering in the world.

Certainly, nothing of these is satisfactory. In fact, far from that.

Thought you might have written something on morality, but this post is all I found, which doesn't answer it.

Have you any thoughts on it? I would appreciate whatever light you can throw on it.

Thank you.