-A window ajar is a prelude in building to the joy of being limitless! That uneasiness of being familiar somehow, sometime, somewhere.......

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Moral Absolutes?- Just a version!

Dear L,
As I had promised, I am blogging my perspective in answer to your question on moral absolutes.
The answer is yes and no.
First,If we regard ethics as a concept, an idea, then absolute morality can quite exist. But that would be limited to just an ideal –independent of humanity.Remember your blog of utopian constructs? So ‘murder’ and many more of its colleagues qualify as worthy entities to be discussed the rights and wrongs of them? Which is why, we have Aquinas saying to use ‘just the equal force’ and bible saying to ‘treat thy neighbour as thyself’. Most of such ideals can only be an image, but indispensable one , if you quite, bother to ponder;
Life, sadly in practice, is a value system.
So, if one is committed to moral as a value, then we directly acknowledge that it can be a source of conflict, both in personal and interpersonal interest,which in other words means morals in application are victims of dynamic élan vitale?
But who, then, is the judge of the faithfulness of the morals and its departure from being absolute? – Now, to reflect on that, I would have to borrow heavily from Hegelian dialectics-in one word, Volksgeist.(the spirit of the times).
Morality both, of personal conscience and that of social system is judged by the spirit of the times.-So we have , at times, the system committing value-errors (kindly note the usage, not mistakes.)E.g. Nazism and at times, on an individual level, people swimming against the stream.
Now the value of both such efforts is proved only as the resultant consequence of the acts, so act is a thesis, the counteract the anti-thesis and the consequence the synthesis.(that is so Hegel).So, we had Nixon shown the door, while being the president of USA and Tolstoy let to die in a railway platform.(which the system corrected by paying him added fame).

An easy way to eloborate is to base an example of contemporary political world built on a moral system(value)-
I believe the world is still getting re-organised and coming to terms with the end of the cold war and its overspill. The cold war did end in an abrupt, unexpected anticlimax and it definitely put many people out of their jobs, in different parts of the world. Other spins are just a sop to the stupid Cerberus.
1. (Thesis).- USA, being the greatest power (purely in terms of uranium) was/is just not prepared to handle that status yet, the status to be accountable to the whole world –so it is prone to errors-- as we have just noticed ( both inside and outside)- in all fairness that’s acceptable. To blame someone, just not prepared for your expectation, is foolishness.
2.(Antithesis) At the other end we have the rise of great economies, China especially, and the wise French, making the-la perfecte moves (I can only attribute it to the wine!!).The new world , all hue and cry inclusive from all quarters would be 3.A Synthesis. (June has a futurology version of it!!)
So do we end up in another great war or in a multi-polar world is to be seen……based on emerging morals. .....

That is whole lot of menu, now the supper….. Is there such a thing as a moral absolute? Is there any act that is always wrong no matter what the circumstances?
My take, On an abstract level, yes , lying to oneself , to ignore one's own nature...- glad that it never goes unpunished !!

Well, kindly note, these are just impartial observations- I have used most names here to cite an instance, neither I vouch for any political ideology nor am I a Hegelian!

So long,


T.O. said...

I think you meant Zeitgeist up there (Volksgeist = spirit of the people) but very compelling post and lots to ponder. Thanks for thinking about it!

Ubermensch said...

T .O ,
thanks for making me ponder.You are right, Zeitgeist, is the literal meaning of spirit of the times.
Volksgiest-is the term which as far as i remember, hegel used.i translated it to reduce the complexties of hegelian view.(of the state)
so what i mean is -the spirit of the times - but not exactly as hegel used it.
thank you again

Sham said...

I think moral absolutes come from conscience. Hence, as conscience evolves, probably our moral absolutes change too.On a personal level there are moral absolutes. (that does not tell us much really)
I am not sure about how much our conscience changes in a given amount of time. This change is probably as slow as the process of evolution. Hence there is not much of a change in moral absoluteness w.r.t change in times I guess.

Quiet often than not, we mistake our ambitions with moral absoluteness. Wars are never right however strong the reason is. But, this (or any other problem in ethics) never comes out as eternal truth because our ego/pain and sorrow or plain practicality, (w.r.t the time within which the particular problem is bound) overthrows the opposing reason.
This reasoning applies probably to many problems. The one I face quite often in Non-vegetarian food. Now man y people do not face this issue at all. My moral absolute here is 'Killing is wrong'. We might argue on a lot of stuff here but the conclusion is, if we have to live, we need to kill (either animals or plants) But that does not change the FACT that killing is wrong.

I guess what I am trying to say is Moral absolutes are there, period. We know it. But we just can not follow them all the time and so we choose to ignore/forget them.

Ubermensch said...

Thanks for the comment sham.really appreciate a good discussion.arguements serve no end.precisely,u have chosen to exercise moralilty as an idea, so it can most definitely exist. independently.if u think moral absolutes come from conscience.then what is conscience? u my friend are ur conscience.u choose ur conscience.so if u choose killing is wrong,then based on the choice u are open within urself(personal)or with others(interpersonal)for conflicts.if desire is the manifestation of will then morality is the symptom of the society. you serve and are served by.
if u really want to belive the do's of all religions then it is the ethics of rights. not the wrongs.

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