3.11 HAVING TO CHOOSE :
MORALS : The Choice between Right and Wrong.
Supplementary Article : The Collapse of Moral
" I go back to the significance of choosing - but what is it that I choose ? - it is
not just this or that - No! - for I choose Absolutely : I choose the Absolute.
But what is the Absolute ? It is myself in my eternal validity.'
By choosing ourselves is taking responsibility for ourselves as we find
ourselves - this isn't a choice between good and evil, rather its a choice
to view our lives in terms of good and evil - a decision to live
in a moral universe".
[ from Giants of Philosophy by Knowledge Products ]
essence of morality is a questioning about morality; and the decisive
move of human life is to use ceaselessly all light to look for the origin of
the opposition between good and evil"..........Georges Bataille
'Moral' has become a dirty word, and when it is used it has begun
to sound more like 'Immoral' or 'hypocrite'. Nothing is considered
'Moral' or 'Immoral' anymore, it is only a question of what one
gets away with, and if exposed, have a perfect justification
ready as a defense ( its all the work of God or the Laws of Science ! )
is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and
beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise"
"A long habit
of not thinking a thing wrong gives it the superficial
appearance of being right." ....Thomas Paine
"If I had to
choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes".
..Charles A Lindbergh
not condemn you for what you did yesterday, if you do it
right today."----- Sheldon S May
not to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality.
Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.”
― Malcolm X
Is there choice ?
responsible because we are free to make choices. Moral judgmentalism
presupposes two things: one, that some choices are really morally right and some
are really morally wrong - there is a real objective good and evil.
The other assumption: that we are responsible for our choices, and that in turn
presupposes that we have the freedom to choose - that we have free will. No
animal has free choice, but there is no human that doesn't ever have it. Even
when you are bound and gagged, you can choose to hate or forgive your
captors, you can choose to hope or despair. Stone walls do not a prison make,
nor iron bars a cage. Many prisoners discover their true freedom only in prison,
when every other freedom had been taken from them.".............TMS P. Kreeft
"To see what is Right and not to do it is want of courage"...Confucius
taught that it was always worse to do wrong than to be
wronged, always better to suffer injustice than to do injustice.
Eventually his own words would be put to a deadly test."
First of all: is there choice of
Right and Wrong? or is it as a mystic would say
just a byproduct of dualistic thinking?
Is there always choice ? Lets
assume that there is. So if one always has the choice,
then one would always make the Right choice. Why on earth or heaven would someone
make a wrong choice if one is able, or in other words has the power and the
knowledge, to make the right one.
impossible to recognize a wrong way without knowing
the right way."......Gurdjieff
choices are made either due to ignorance, or more fundamentally,
due to lack of moral power that can and does inhibit wrong doing.
When a person does something
wrong, he does so usually with conscious justification
for that wrong doing, or even worse, sub-consciously, like an automaton, without
even being aware of the wrong doing, i.e., in ignorance.
"The wrong way always seems the more reasonable".....George Moore
Fundamentally, a wrong is
committed by a being whenever the being infringes
upon the natural rights of another living being, or in a more sophisticated manner,
exploits the helplessness of others, or abuses and wastes natural resources
or does not care for these.
From this it would appear that
every living creature is bound to commit wrongs
by the very process of its existence in order to merely survive, and this is a
But the test of making the right choices lies in not using this truth
as a justification for one's actions, but rather, to use this truth to propel
oneself towards consciously and willfully creating and making the right
choices and to minimize to a bare necessity one's wrongful actions.
"Every bad precedent originated as a justifiable measure".......Sallust
Even more important is to be at least conscious of one's choices,
or of one's actions and doings, their likely consequences for oneself
and for others, especially those choices or acts that infringe upon
the rights of others.
"What we say
and what we do ultimately comes back to us so let us own
our responsibility, place it in our hands and carry it with dignity
and strength"........Gloria Evangelina Anzaldua
instinct is to feel obligated in conscience to do good and to
avoid evil. Ethics is about three terms : good, right and ought."
....TMS P. Kreeft
TRADITIONAL MORALITY IN CIVILIZATIONS
HISTORY OF MORAL THOUGHT
"In ancient times
the teachers were more moralistic, more idealistic than
the students, in modern times it is the students who are more moralistic
than the teachers. Another way of saying that ethics is first and not
second is by saying that morality is not merely means to an end, it is
the end. The point is not just to live, but to live well, not just to be but to
be good. And therefore it would be wise to sacrifice anything if necessary
in exchange for being good. The ancients did not feel surprised or resentful
if the need for suffering and sacrifice arose - they expected it."
....TMS P. Kreeft
as these led Plato to explore human malice and maladies
in a new way that no one had ever done before. He saw something that
people before him had not seen or had not seen in the same way and with
the same power, namely that the cultural context in which everyone lived
was powerfully shaping what was right and what was wrong.
Indeed it is mis-shaping right and wrong." ......TTC C. Mathews
" The greatest
value men had was that of glory. Achieving glory was their primary
goal and motivation. The purpose of achieving glory was to guarantee themselves
immortality - for the Greeks believed that death was the ultimate fact of man's
reality, and the only way to transcend it was in lasting fame and honor. Heroes
were in constant fear of disgrace and spent little time if any in considering
personal morals. The opinion of their community and comrades was all that
mattered. If heroes failed to recognize how much their actions were ruled by
gods, they would fail and make tragic errors.
The only way for a man to prove his social status and honor was on the battle-
field. There were few other arenas. These beliefs explain the action of Homer's
heroes and gives perspective to the war itself. War was an opportunity to gain
this all important glory. Troy is not just a city to be defeated and looted - it is
a city that may grant the victor immortality.
There are many themes and messages in the Iliad - one of those themes is
justice which operates in a very brutal way in the story. More often than not,
men find themselves confused, deceived and ultimately destroyed by powers
beyond their control, represented of course, by the gods. The basic belief of
the Greeks was that men were in the grip of forces far stronger than he and
was at the whim of those forces, more specifically subservient to the will
of Zeus. At the same time there were also issues of personal responsibility
and men must make decisions in which they weigh their passions against
their reason. The failure of reason and the lack of control over human
passion is shown to be the chief cause of discord and tragedy.
This question of
who or what was responsible for man's destiny - man
himself or the gods and fate were the most fundamental questions for
the Greeks. Fate as portrayed through the gods is indifferent to human
tragedy. One purpose of the Iliad is to show the importance of a man's
life in the struggle itself. Achilles is a hero because he emerges in his
struggles as a better man. He first goes through stages of pride, fury
and revenge that are almost inhuman - but these emotions are brought
on by a state of anguish - he has been deprived of his honor - which in
ancient Greece is all that mattered. And then he lost his best friend
because of his irrational behavior. He then knows that honor as men
see it is not as important as the real values of life. Achilles has learned
and grown through the testing grounds that is war. War in the Iliad is
a proving ground of the soul, and although it is brutal and tragic, it
gives men the opportunity to learn from their suffering. Nowhere are
men so confronted with the idea of death than they are on the
In this atmosphere of constant and inevitable death, men like Achilles
will learn to value life and to search for meaning. The men in the Iliad
have far more dignity than the gods, simply because as mortals they
suffer and die, and must face that tragic fate with courage and honor.
They must find a way to live life so that life is something more than a
thing that ends in death. In the beginning of the story that way was
fame, glory and pride. But by the end it is humility and understanding,
compassion and acceptance of his own preordained death."
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT & RESPONSIBILITY
" For us European
earth-dwellers, the adventure played out in the...New
World signifies in the first place that it was not our world and that we
bear responsibility for the crime of its destruction."
dawn, a handful of oppressors have accepted the responsibility
over our lives that we should have accepted for ourselves. By doing so, they took our
power. By doing nothing, we gave it away. We've seen where their way leads, through
camps and wars, towards the slaughterhouse.” ― Alan Moore
“Good people do
not need laws to tell them to act responsibly,
while bad people will find a way around the laws.”
THE NEED FOR ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
There are three sub categories of
morality: the Individual, the Social and the Absolute.
The first and third are directly related. Whereas the grounds for the test of individual
moral action is in the social/cultural arena (which implies that society is the means for
individual moral testing), the result of this moral action impacts the individual directly both
in the immediate future as well as in his/her connection in eternity, and the indirect effect
of such action is in the changes that occur in impacting other individuals (positively or
negatively as the case may be) as also the changes in social norms and laws that take
place if this action is powerful enough. (Example: anti-slavery laws)
Now an assumption is being made here: and that is that all affirmative actions have moral
consequences, that is, what happens subsequently depends upon whether these actions were
moral or immoral. If we do not start with this premises, then there is nothing moral and
immoral, there is no action that is right or wrong, everything just happens by the blind
physical laws, and all we can say is that society has made certain rules and laws, which
are as such not moral or immoral, but merely expedient for the purpose of keeping society
in control, and to ensure the survival and growth of that particular society, even if it destroys
other societies and forms of life. (Incidentally, the New Atheists are saying exactly that –
morality is mere convention as an evolutionary adaptive mechanism) Which more or less
is what happens in civilizations, until many people begin to realize that chasing the goal of
mere survival and growth is imploding on itself, and that they are
close to annihilating themselves in the process!
There are several doctrines in
various religions that talk about how our past actions
determine our present. This is not the space to go into their details, but only to state
here that although there is some merit in each of those doctrines, the flaw in most
of them is that they don't go deep enough, only stress upon the deterministic aspect
of the past, not on how to correctly analyze it and to learn from it. None of them call
for a probe into how past wrongs reflect in current social and cultural values and
patterns of behavior.
the fatalist, is in despair and as one in despair has lost his
self, because for him everything has become necessity...." Kierkegaard
None of them can correctly
extrapolate that into the future, or offer any solutions
for the future. The only solution all religions offer is for every human being to
become subject to their respective religion, ideology, beliefs, rituals, scriptures
and methods, and thus be "saved". None of them call for collective as well as
individual responsibility of past wrong actions. None of them acknowledge that
wrong doings reflect in current reality through social, cultural values.
Particularly those attitudes and
values that provide a justification to even the
most obvious of what is a wrong act. The justifications are cleverly cloaked
and masked in the religion and philosophy of the culture. And thus remain
unacknowledged. Even the mention of past wrong doing becomes taboo.
Obviously most persons doing evil
acts hardly ever admits he/she is doing evil, and
that does not mean that this person is ignorant of the concept of evil, but such people
while doing it don't admit to doing it themselves, they think others are doing evil to them.
There is of course a class of super intelligent beings who know that they are consciously
doing wrong, but they are benefiting from it, or enjoying it so much, and they are
convinced that there will be nothing around to account for their actions in future, that
they convince them selves that they will get away with anything without moral
consequences for their actions.
avoidance of thinking about evil suggests something
important, namely: that it is difficult and painful, and that much of
our time we would rather spend our energy avoiding thinking about
this problem rather than confronting it. Discipline and focus are
what we need to confront this problem.
Part of the power of evil is the way in which it insinuates itself intimately
into people's lives. And so often people don't in fact experience what
they are doing as evil. But when we think about acts of evil considered
as just that - as acts of evil even when their perpetrators didn't recognize
them as such, such acts of evil in their very essence, I propose, are
attempts actively to reject the moral order, even if the people doing
them don't understand themselves to be doing that."
.........TTC C. Mathews
This leads to a vicious circle of
action and reaction, cause and effect ; that only
keeps multiplying and building up, and its spread covers the entire domain of
its cultural subjects, and even those that come in contact or interaction of that
" For Plato evil
is an importantly political fact - a reality whose existence
and continuing flourishing or tolerance by us humans is due to the way
that the human world is organized - culturally we teach our children stories
and these stories slowly mislead us and mis-educate us in important ways
about how the world is determined. Plato offers what really amounts to a
first truly radical critique how humans ordinarily live and organize their lives"
........TTC C Mathews
The first step in order to break
out of this vicious circle is to fully and sincerely
acknowledge the wrong doings of the past. The first roadblock in this process
is a catch : why should anyone acknowledge the wrong doings of people in the
past, for they were people of the past, and now long gone and dead ? and the
second road block is even more severe : what use is it to acknowledge
when it is already done and in the past, and best forgotten ?
"He who allows oppression shares the crime."...E. Darwin
In the first case there seems a
very valid justification since a wrong has been
committed by someone else, and in the second case also equally valid because
it has happened in the past. So why should anyone acknowledge it ? The
normal and logical thing is to forget it. And that is just what all people do.
But there are two assumptions
inherent in the logic of that kind of thinking.
The first: that the people of the past have no relationship to people in the
present, and the second : that their actions have no lasting effect over time.
Both these assumptions are fatal
and flawed, although seem correct from
a scientific point of view.
The right assumptions are
that all people are related and connected,
even of the past, and that their actions have consequences and
effects stretching over long periods of time depending upon the
strength of those actions and whether these have been
perpetuated subsequently or not, and whether these have
been acknowledged and compensated for.
Good and right actions inspire others to do good. Inaction
perpetuates inaction as well as condones wrong actions of
other people. Wrong actions then spread like an infection,
providing an example as well as a readymade justification for
others to repeat and follow, till it becomes the habit of an entire
culture. Reality is so constructed that mistakes, errors and wrong
actions if not even acknowledged, let alone corrected have an
obscure and invisible way of compounding in time - one error
leads to many errors, to cover one lie, a thousand lies have to
be invented, one mistake leads to repeated mistakes, one false
step leads to a spiral of falsehoods till an entire edifice of false-
-hoods build up.
One wrong doing if not dealt with by an effective justice system
opens up not only a Pandora's box of a cycle of wrong doings
but also leaves a blot on the fabric of that society that has
overlooked that wrong doing. That blot and more blots bleed
into every aspect of that society : the religion, the philosophy,
the economic and political system till it becomes unnoticed by
the entire culture. It effects every member of that society and
culture in ways that in time all become passive perpetrators
of a fundamental wrong and no one even acknowledges it
because they are not even aware of it any longer.
passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as
he who helps to perpetrate it"...Martin Luther King Jr
actions give strength to ourselves and
inspire good actions in others.”
The process of correction of past wrong doings starts with the
acknowledgement of these not by one or two persons but by
all or most people, and only then can the possibilities open up
for those actions and change of attitudes and values that can
compensate for these wrongs so that the vicious circle of
cause - effect is broken.
"The tyrant is
revolting against the conditions of his own creation. That's
the picture of evil that Plato presents - one which evil is far more radically
a form of revolt against the conditions of our own creation. And one that
spreads that evil through human society by infecting other people with a
mis-orientation to the good through giving them bad cultural standards
to live up to.".......TTC C Mathews
say is the voice of complicity. But silence is impossible.
Silence screams. Silence is a message, just as doing nothing is an act.
Let who you are, ring out and resonate in every word and every deed.
Yes, become who you are, for there's no sidestepping your own being
or your own responsibility. What you do is who you are.
You become your own message. You are the message."
.......Leonard Peltier "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse"
And even more important is to assume responsibility for whatever
consequences result out of one's actions, without which there is no
way one can correct one's course or even realize the nature and
essence of one's Will. Only the genuine acceptance of responsibility
can provide the necessary feedback that strengthens one's Will
and moral integrity.
There is a very significant difference
between the concept of responsibility and blame.
Responsibility is very closely related to freedom, sobriety, awareness, morals and intent
whereas blame is not closely related to these. Responsibility must reflect in not only thought
but also action - that is, right action is mandatory for there to be responsibility.
Acceptance is more closely related to blame, whereas you have to 'take on' or 'assume'
responsibility and then proactively manifest it in your deeds or expressions.
To 'bear responsibility' means that you
acknowledge that the burden, the legacy of wrongs done by
people in the past that are in some way related or connected to you, are now for you to deal with.
You can choose to not take on the responsibility or choose to take it upon you - entirely your call.
And once you take it on, reality will give you an opportunity to test how true you are to yourself,
so that you are redeemed and are free from the bearing weight of that legacy.
Responsibility is very serious and
profound because it cannot be given; only taken on. Genuine
responsibility - the really effective kind, is when it is assumed. This means that even if you cannot
directly associate a cause that clearly originates from you, you sense ( a sense of responsibility)
that it has devolved upon you as a legacy, even in the smallest measure.
As an example - in the statement of
Levi Strauss, the connections are clear, and he is taking on
the responsibility not only for himself but also for those Europeans who wish to bear responsibility,
but could not get around to putting it in the kind of clear words that Strauss put together.
Even more important is the bond
between freedom and responsibility. Freedom and responsibility
are inseparable in both directions. One will always go with the other, one enhances or
depletes the other, either way.
But then again 'responsibility',
i.e., 'the ability to respond and act rightly to any
situation that presents itself ', is something that has to be self-learned and
self-developed. Sadly, nowhere in the world this most elementary necessity of
human existence is encouraged or urged to be developed or even initiated as
a vital part of education.
Typically it is only a crisis situation where one's life itself is threatened that one
begins to wonder why the world seems to be in a sort of conspiracy against oneself.
But by then it is usually too late to examine one's attitudes and possibly to reverse
It is an important point that only if one is trained early in life to be
conscious of one's choices and consequent responsibilities, can there
be a chance of developing a continuously ascending ability to make
Willful, creative and moral choices in consonance with one's
uniqueness and individuality.
The most important thing therefore
is to break out of the vicious circle of the
deterministic belief system that as part of a scientific education convinces its
subjects that they are merely objects evolved out of definitive "laws of science"
and thus can have no choice except that which is determined by these "laws of
science". This kind of programming kills the spark of the possibility in the belief
that one has or can have the power to make willful choices.
Once that belief dies, one is at
the mercy of this automation that has been
programmed only to think in a way that excludes everything that has not been
conclusively established as a scientific fact or a religious truism by the scientific
establishment or by the religious institutions.
Both of these institutionalized forms of thinking and believing are opposed
to individual choices, individual uniqueness and individual Will. Generally
speaking, both strengthen the automaton within, and makes one less
likely to examine critically one's values and choices made thereof.
"I can't understand why people are frightened of new
ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones." ......John Cage
“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the
tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
INDIVIDUAL AS CHOOSER
All life forms are sentient (having sense perception or feeling)
in the sense that they
are capable of ‘feeling’ at least, even if not having sense perception. (It has been
demonstrated that even plants have ‘feeling’). From a very pragmatic perspective in
relating to the concept of truth, a human being is indeed the “existing individual”
insofar as that particular human being is aware of his/her individuality as an
autonomously thinking and acting individual, that is, not wholly dependent
upon social, cultural norms of thought and behavior.
in general are open for an existing individual - either
he can do his utmost to forget that he is an existing individual - by
which he becomes a comic figure since existence has the remarkable
trait of compelling an existing individual to exist, whether he wills it
or not - or he can concentrate his entire energy on the fact that he is
an existing individual."......Soren Kierkegaard
Thus the existing individual who becomes aware of being an
inevitably faces "dread" and "anxiety" as the emotions that must drive that
individual to seek those ways or actions that fulfill that individuality. "Dread"
arises from the intense awareness of individuality that is yet to be fulfilled.
It arises from the awareness that this individuality comes with a responsibility
that must be fulfilled through action or creativity - and the way to do it must
necessarily come from within (subjective) as no other authority will suffice, and
that the action or creativity must relate to and be contributive to the objective
truth - that is, capable of relating to and contributive to "humanity".
"Much of magic as I understand it in the Western occult tradition is the
search for the Self, with a capital S. This is understood as being the Great
Work, as being the gold the alchemists sought, as being the Will, the Soul,
the thing we have inside us that is behind the intellect, the body, the dreams.
The inner dynamo of us, if you like. Now this is the single most important thing
that we can ever attain, the knowledge of our own Self. And yet there are a
frightening amount of people who seem to have the urge not just to ignore
the Self, but actually seem to have the urge to obliterate themselves.
This is horrific, but you can almost understand the desire to simply wipe out
that awareness, because it’s too much of a responsibility to actually posses
such a thing as a soul, such a precious thing. What if you break it? What if
you lose it? Mightn’t it be best to anesthetize it, to deaden it, to destroy it,
to not have to live with the pain of struggling towards it and trying to keep
it pure? I think that the way that people immerse themselves in alcohol,
in drugs, in television, in any of the addictions that our culture throws up,
can be seen as a deliberate attempt to destroy any connection between
themselves and the responsibility of accepting and owning a
higher Self and then having to maintain it.”
― Alan Moore
“A crowd in its
very concept is the untruth, by reason of the fact that it renders
the individual completely impenitent and irresponsible, or at least weakens
his sense of responsibility by reducing it to a fraction. Inauthenticity lies
precisely in the attempt to live “as a numeral within a crowd, a fraction within
the earthly conglomeration. where there is the crowd, there is externality,
and comparison, and indulgence, and evasion. In eternity, you will look in vain
for the crowd. You will listen in vain to find where the noise and the gathering
is, so that you can run to it.” In actual fact, “For the Infinite One, there is no
place, the individual is himself the place.”
......Provocations - The Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard ( Slough Publications)
are some problems about which a deflationary view is hard to
take - and one such is our view of ourselves as selves - our own
self-reflecting view of what we are as human beings - what is our
place in our society and our world - and more importantly what is
our place vis-à-vis our commitments in life - towards others. In
these questions it's extremely deflationary to go ...' oh yes, the
self....I haven't got one'......that's disappointing. Every one has
some theory of what we are as a person - the human subject.
By theory I mean a narrative that attempts to connect the
various disconnected episodes in our lives. Something that
gives us a reason to think that we are the same person
today that we were yesterday in some important sense.
In short, we want the narrative to mean something.
……..Rick Roderick ( Self Under Siege )
is clear: Kierkegaard stands against every form of thinking
that bypasses the individual or enables the individual to escape his
responsibility before God. He also made an absolute demand that “idea”
should be translated into existence (being and doing), which is exactly
what his contemporaries, in his opinion, failed to do: “Most systematizers
stand in the same relation to their systems as the man who builds a great
castle and lives in an adjoining shack; they do not live in their great
But in spiritual matters this will always be a crucial objection.
Metaphorically peaking, a person’s ideas must be the building he
lives in – otherwise there is something terribly wrong.”
..Provocations (Slough Publishing)
would do the same thing again because that is whom you
are Rosie"........ Ride To Freedom : The Rosa Parks Story
dangerous aspect of present-day life is the dissolution
of the feeling of individual responsibility"........Euginio Montale
success of any great moral enterprise does not depend on
numbers."..........William Lloyd Garrison
thinking involves choice, which entails commitment,
risk and individuation. Our entire life is an ongoing choice, and our
failure to choose is a choice for which we are equally responsible.
Sartre adds that to cease to choose is to cease to be, and to be
is to choose oneself."....Thomas Flynn
inauthentic self is what Heidegger refers to as the Das-Man self –
a sort anonymous-not-our own self (no individuality). What he has in
mind is the social construal of the self. Describing oneself in social
terms – like what it is that you do – your function, your job. The Das-
Man self is inauthentic insofar as it is strictly a social self – it is not
one’s own self at all.
Fallen-ness is falling back from our sense of authenticity to the inauthentic
self – from being our own person to simply being part of the crowd. Falling
back to the point where one is no longer asking the questions of the kind that
Heidegger urges us to ask – and facing up who we really are." R. Solomon TTC
All real choices are 'one's' choices, they belong to the individual who has
made a committed choice and to no one else. The individual being, who
has as a result of this commitment, also accepted complete and full
responsibility for the choices and actions made by the being.
"Whenever morality is based on theology, whenever right is made dependent
on divine authority, the most immoral, unjust, infamous things can be justified
and established." ..Ludwig Feuerbach
The individual, in fact, is defined by the committed actions and
choices made and consciously acknowledged by the being.
"Deliberation is the work of many men, action of one alone"
....Charles de Ca..
It should be clear to anyone who
is interested in right and wrong that there can be
no choice and therefore choice of right and wrong without there being an autonomous
individual entity that makes the choice. Therefore to assume and insist that there is
no such thing as an individual entity (self), and that its all a unity expressing itself
in diverse ways, is to negate the possibility of Willful choice.
Once such a thought process takes hold, it becomes easy to take recourse or hide behind
religion or science as the sources or the laws that govern our behavior or choices.
It then follows as a corollary that responsibility itself becomes redundant, since all of our
behavior is assumed to be attributed to entities or laws that are primary,
unchangeable, definitive and beyond the self.
who wishes to have an answer to the problem of evil, as it is
posed today, has need, first and foremost of self-knowledge, that is, the
utmost possible knowledge of his own wholeness. He must know relentlessly
how much good he can do, and what crimes he is capable of, and must
beware of regarding the one as real and the other as illusion. Both are
elements within his nature, and both are bound to come to light in him,
should he wish — as he ought — to live without self deception
“Evil is a specialty of human nature - it is of the human, by the human and
for the human - its purpose is to set the grounds for the test of the good.”
cannot be perhaps communicated, but it is real and
can be acquired. In this way Gilgamesh is a character we see
again and again - Abraham, Job, Dante, Conrad's Marlow - all
of these people have an acquaintance with evil which change
them but which they cannot exactly communicate to others so
that others share in their knowledge. Each person's quest is their
own"........TTC C. Mathews
This article emphasizes that in order to make any kind of moral consideration,
the belief in a distinct and autonomous individual entity called the self, is
have we been silent under unjust and unholy charges; we cannot
expect to have them removed until we disprove them through ourselves"
......Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin
Whether this entity is absolute and eternal or not, is not the consideration here,
but that an individual entity, a being, exists in time and space that makes
conscious choices is the operating axiom here, without which all questions
of choice, morals, right and wrong, becomes redundant and meaningless.
in a crowd easily becomes the victim of his own suggestibility.
It is only necessary for something to happen, for instance a proposal backed by
the whole crowd, and we too are all for it, even if the proposal is immoral. In the
crowd one feels not only no responsibility, but also no fear ( of wrongdoing )"
..... C. G. Jung
superiority only sees the individual. But alas, ordinarily we human
beings are sensual, and therefore, as soon as it is a gathering, the impression
changes - we see something abstract, the crowd, and we become different.
But in the eyes of God, the infinite spirit, all the millions that have lived, and
now live do not make a crowd, He only sees each individual."
"Previous ethical theories were virtue ethics, about the formation of good
folks in good societies, but under bourgeois view of ethics ( Kant, Mill etc)
it would be a narrow inquiry into whether action A, B or C is the correct one
to perform. Ethics would become more instrumental and quantitative.
The individuals now having become fragmented and separated in a society
where social bonds are not as fundamental as the legal and procedural
relations in a state, as economic relations become for the first time as
structuring principles of society.
In the enlightenment we have moved from virtue ethics to a kind of ethics
that is supposed to answer for us individual subjects who no longer have
the background meanings to draw on for right action.
In the feudal society, the family, church etc provided this - the key
word for it was authority. It is important to understand that after
the French revolution, the authority that can be recognized in a
post-revolutionary France of "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity ", the
only authority after this historical break, in principle would be the
authority of the autonomous individual.
Kant says that the motto of the enlightenment is "dare to use your
own reason". All decisions hence forth if you make them if someone
else told you - mom, dad, king, prince, even the government or even
God himself were for Kant heteronymous. All decisions hence forth
must be autonomous. An important advance and in a key moment in
modernity, autonomy becomes central to ethical decisions"
……..Rick Roderick ( TTC –
Philosophy and Human Values )
"Existentialism is a philosophy about the concrete individual. In an age of mass
communication and mass destruction, it is to its credit that existentialism
defends the intrinsic value of what its main proponent Sartre called the free
organic individual, that is, the flesh and blood agent. Because of the almost
irresistible pull towards conformity in modern society, what we call existential
individuality is an achievement, and not a permanent one at that."
"For each of us, for each
person who says “I”, the way I choose to live my life
determines who I am for ever. "---TTC : Prof Ambrosio
"Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or
anything. If you're a man, you take it."......Malcolm X
"Just as the physician might say that there lives perhaps not one single man
who is in perfect health, so one might say perhaps that there lives not one single
man who after all is not to some extent in despair, in whose inmost parts there does
not dwell a disquietude, a perturbation, a discord, an anxious dread of an unknown
something, or of a something he does not even dare to make acquaintance with,
dread of a possibility of life, or dread of himself, so that, after all, as physicians speak
of a man going about with a disease in him, this man is going about and carrying a
sickness of the spirit, which only rarely and in glimpses, by and with a dread which to
him is inexplicable, gives evidence of its presence within.
This view will doubtless seem to many a paradox, an exaggeration, and a gloomy
and depressing view at that. Yet it is nothing of the sort. It is not gloomy; on the
contrary, it seeks to throw light upon a subject which ordinarily is left in obscurity.
It is not depressing; on the contrary it is uplifting, since it views every man in the
aspect of the highest demand made upon him, that he be spirit."...Kierkegaard
Having to Choose :
Making conscious choices
individual must decide which situations are to count as moral
“It"s good to keep wide-open ears and
listen to what everybody else has
to say, but when you come to make a decision, you have to weigh all
of what you"ve heard on its own, and place it where it belongs, and
come to a decision for yourself; you"ll never regret it. But if you form
the habit of taking what someone else says about a thing without
checking it out for yourself, you"ll find that other people will have
you hating your friends and loving your enemies.”
― Malcolm X
decision joins us to the eternal. It brings what is eternal into time.
A decision raises us with a shock from the slumber of monotony.
A decision breaks the magic spell of custom. A decision
breaks the long row of weary thoughts. A decision pronounces
its blessing upon even the weakest beginning, as long as it is
a real beginning. Decision is the awakening to the eternal."
.....Provocations - The Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard ( Slough Publications)
" Were it
simply a choice of an impersonal claim about a fact or a law of
nature, we would be dealing with objective certainty and the wager of
one's personal existence would be irrelevant. One would simply be
following the complete directions ( already laid out). It is a question
of appropriation - of making it one's own rather than an approximation
to some objective state of affairs - the way one weighs the probability
of a possible outcome or reads the distance markers along the way to
a destination."...Thomas Flynn
Thus the most important event in a
being's life comes when one becomes conscious of the
automaton within and starts consciously making decisions independent of the automaton,
in harmony with one's innermost predilections, and also take responsibility
for the short as well as long term consequences of these decisions.
possible to stop being a machine? Ah! That is the question. It is possible
to stop being a machine, but for that it is necessary to know the machine.
A machine doesn't know itself, it can never know itself, because if it knows
itself, it is no longer a machine, at least it is not the same machine as it was
before - it already begins to be responsible for it's actions"...Gurdjieff
That is, not only does one HAVE to learn to make conscious responsible
choices, but also be conscious of the potential rightness or wrongness
of these choices.
"In order to
act, you must be somewhat insane. A reasonably sensible
man is satisfied with thinking. When a man asks himself what is meant
by action he proves that he isn't a man of action."
It is the easiest thing in the world to take the comfort of ignorance
and claim one's helplessness, to pretend that one has no choice.
The worst thing that one can do to oneself is to convince oneself
that one is entirely at the mercy of entities beyond oneself and
therefore have no personal choice to make and therefore not
responsible for anything that happens.
"The work of
the political activist inevitably involves a certain tension
between the requirement that position be taken on current issues as they
arise and the desire that one's contributions will somehow survive the
ravages of time.".......Angela Davis
Both science and religion deflect
from this belief of willful and individual choice :
science by claiming that anything that cannot be formulated, defined as an object
of observation, and analyzed for its properties in a consistent definitive method,
does not exist except in somebody's imagination, and religion by attributing
choice to entities beyond self.
"As soon as
questions of will or decision or reason or choice of action arise,
human science is at a loss"... Noam Chomski
"Logical positivism contradicts itself. The statement of the theory 'all meaningful
propositions are logical tautologies or empirically verifiable', immediately
contradicts itself because that proposition itself is neither a logical tautology
nor empirically verifiable. Its criterion for meaningful proposition is so narrow
that it eliminates itself - it commits suicide."....TMS P. Kreeft
In one case choice is determined by the laws of science, in the other case choice follows
the Will of God, Spirit, etc as entities beyond self. Both consider moral choices as irrelevant
by claiming that there can be no true choice, and even that choice is itself irrelevant
because there is no self at all.
question of morals and choice is usually an uncomfortable one for
well entrenched institutions, because true choice comes from individuals
and carries an inherent risk of instability and unknown consequences
for institutions and institutionalized behavior.
The important point is that
choices made are hardly ever questioned unless one is
in a crisis situation. Our minds tend to justify all our past actions as well as projected
future actions as a cushion against uncertainty, doubts, fears, risks and in general
against the unknown and the uncertain.
To expose oneself to the unknown is to court risk and danger to oneself, but to
just keep fortifying and protecting one's known and comfortable position against
any uncertainty is to kill one's own Spirit, eventually reducing oneself only to
a pleasure, comfort, peace, bliss and satisfaction seeking automaton.
dreams of terror in the slumber of prosperity has become
the moral duty of literature"............Ernst Fischer
What is being brought out in the
above listed points is that our inherent nature
is to generally evade the question of right and wrong because one of the operating
generalizations of our mind is not to question the choices we have made, since
we assume that everything that we do must be right anyway or else we wouldn't
have done it anyway. Our defensive mechanisms are anti-Willful choosing.
In this analysis
so far it has been emphasized that all default choices are made by us
automatically by the pleasure, happiness seeking and pain, fear avoiding mechanisms
of our mind that operate almost sub-consciously, i.e. without Willful choosing
independent of fear, desires and ambition.
But real choice has to be more or less independent of expectations of rewards and fear
of pain, because if choices are based only upon these automotive factors, then for all
pragmatic purposes there is no right and wrong choice, only those choices that appear
to give maximum pleasure and minimum pain or that follow the path of least effort and
resistance. Merely following the most appealing choice for our senses then only gives an
illusion of choice, whereas all that happens actually is a machine at work with its choices
almost entirely predetermined, however complex it may get or appear.
Choice that is made by the automotive component of a being, does not come from or is
caused by an internal Will, but from the cause - effect reflex mechanistic action of an
external event that gives pleasure or avoids pain, therefore is no choice at all but only
a cause - effect reflexive automatic reaction.
"For example, if
a man is presumably happy... although considered in the light of truth
he is unhappy, he is usually far from wanting to be wrenched out of his error. On the
contrary, he becomes indignant, he regards anyone who does so as his worst enemy...
Why? Because he is completely dominated by the sensate and the sensate-psychical,
because he lives in sensate categories, the pleasant and the unpleasant, waves
goodbye to spirit, truth, etc., because he is too sensate to have the courage
to venture out and to endure being spirit."....Kierkegaard
A real choice response is one that originates from
specifically the Will to make decisive conscious choices or in
other words in "having to choose".
to choose" is that condition of an individual, wherein a
decisive choice has to be made, and where the totality of the
individual being is at stake and behind that choice.
That is what can then be called as Real choice.
choice occurs when "having to choose" leads one to conditions
wherein a novel possibility of choice is created, where none existed,
or where the existing were not right, and therefore unreal choices.
put, Real and Right choice is the creation of a
way, or a solution, in a condition where all existing choices
appear wrong, or unsatisfactory, or just not good enough.
Right course of action always has a creative element
to it, and therefore cannot be sourced from outside a
being, only from within the resources of a being.
Unless a being has some minimal measure of its
totality, real choice is elusive.
"The self is
a series of possibilities; every decision made redefines
the individual. It is a great responsibility to create a person, yet
that is exactly what each human does -- creates a self. This self is
independent from all other knowledge and "truths" defined by
...Existential Primer ( Web) on Soren Kierkegaard
"For the existentialist, after getting clear on the options and the
likely outcomes, one makes it the right choice by one's follow
through. For the existentialist such truth is more a matter of
decision, rather than discovery. But of course, one is not making
these choices blindly or without criteria. Quite on the contrary
to popular mis-conception, the nature of choice is criterion
constituting, rather than criterion-less.
What Kierkegaard is talking about, expresses what one might
call a conversion experience where the decisive move is not
purely intellectual but a matter of will and feeling, and what
he calls passion as well.
Such ( also ) is the nature of the so called ' blind leap of faith'
that catapults oneself into the religious sphere of existence.
But it applies equally to other fundamental turnings in a
person's life, from basic changes in one's political
convictions to falling in love."
"Moral virtues are acquired by repeated acts of a given kind, that is,
we acquire a habit. This is how virtues and habits are linked. Virtue
is a kind of habit: a good one, as opposed to a bad one. By repeated
actions of a certain kind we are inclined so to act in the future, and
if we don't acquire good habits, we are going to have bad habits, such
that it is going to be very difficult not to keep doing the wrong thing.
Either case it is a matter of habituation of a far more existential
orientation of our self than when we learn something. In learning, we
can change our mind. Moral virtues are not simply a matter of learning
or seeing, it is living your life by them. It is easier for us to understand
moral advise than to abide by it."........Ralph McInerny
realization of enduring values – justice, freedom, peace, love –
and respect for the moral law within propel the ethical self forward into
a life of responsibility, of caring beyond one’s own immediate interests.
Herein lies true freedom: the ability to fulfill one’s duty, to move from
what is to what ought to be.
The ethical involves both choice and resolution. It also involves struggle,
because the realization of ethical values takes effort and time. Therefore
an authentic, fully realized individual is one who is unified from within,
whose actions are one, and who accepts responsibility for his commitments.
Unlike someone who lives at the aesthetic level, the ethical individual is not
swayed by his every emotion or by the opinions of others.
The key to the ethical sphere is freedom. A “bad choice,” therefore, is better
than no choice at all. The aesthetic person drifts along with the currents around
him. The person who lives ethically, however, determines these very currents.
It is not enough to just do one’s duty. One must passionately choose the path.
Life is an either/or, not just between good and evil, but between choosing and
not choosing. The person who lives in the ethical sphere lives intentionally,
intensively. Such a person possesses character and conviction, and is thus
willing to sacrifice himself for something greater than oneself.
As admirable and as necessary as he finds the ethical sphere, however,
Kierkegaard believes that life must ultimately be lived on yet another level:
the religious sphere. This sphere has nothing to do with institutional religion
per se. Rather, an individual lives religiously when he or she realizes that the
ethical life is insufficient for solving life’s riddles and choices. The ethical life
fails to adequately deal with exceptional situations. Doing one’s duty isn’t always
simple, especially when different duties conflict or when one’s various obligations
cannot all be fulfilled. Consequently, there is something higher than universal duty
and this Kierkegaard calls the “Absolute.”
......Provocations - The Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard ( Slough Publications)
3.11.5 DEFAULT WRONG CHOICES
" The final
purpose of art is to intensify, even, if necessary,
to exacerbate, the moral consciousness of people"
a moral, if only you can find it."
"Who is to say
who's right? That question is always asked by philosophy
students. It can mean one of three different things. Two of them are
copouts, only the third is going to lead us any where. First it can simply
be an excuse for laziness, or a non-serious skepticism. Who's to say
means: its a wild goose chase, save yourself the trouble and know that
we can never know. Second, it could be a desperate search for some
authority figure, some expert, whom you could just follow instead of
thinking for yourself. This authoritarianism or dogmatism is very similar to
skepticism, our very first mistake, even though they sound like opposites,
because both spare you the wear and tear on your grey matter. Both are
convenient. Both are easy.
A third mean of 'who's to say' can be an honest confession of confusion and
doubt and request for some clarification and some answer to it. Some way
to make it educative."..........TMS. T. Kreeft
to Plato any epistemological question is also necessarily a
political one, as we saw in The Republic - the famous image of the cave.
All of us are born in families and political communities of some kind, and
these communities provide us with not only food and shelter, but also
education - of what is good and evil, what is admirable, what is shameful.
Choice, unless it is Willed,
follows the default path of the mind's inbuilt operating path of
maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain. This default path is derived from the biological
and social, needs and priorities for physical survival and unless this default operation
undergoes critical self-scrutiny, it will continue to determine choices and behavior
according to the underlying default mechanisms of survival and pleasure
To bring under conscious observation the default choice
mechanism is the first step towards making Willful choices.
[WEB INT 2014: One of the classic ways in which the great fudging of or evasion or responsibility
takes place is by saying "the I is itself God/Brahma/etc" :
I think that these
expressions “Aham Bramasmi” (I am Brahma) and ” Tat tvam asi”(I am He)
are a fudge, a false reductionism because “I” am a limited being essentially existing in temporal
reality, whereas Brahma is the unlimited and absolute Eternal Being. Fine, at the end of time
these will merge into ‘one’, but meanwhile “I” have “work” or “action” to do.
Few can discern is that “I” (the existing individual) has privileges (and therefore the integral
responsibility in the exercise of these privileges) of access to both the temporal and the eternal,
of both mortality (of necessity) and immortality (of freedom), while Brahma can only wait
for our acts to be completed.]
Wrong choices therefore are by default made in several ways ........
Never considered that there is such a
thing as right or wrong, everything just happens.
Reality is unitary, and right /wrong is dualistic, and thus unreal.
Denial that there is a Self, and so the
question of choice does not arise, its all part of
dualistic thinking that has to be transcended by meditation.
To think that there is a distinct
individual is the greatest illusion, since reality is
Everything that exists is only a
manifestation of a unitary reality, any other
conception is false and wrong.
Choices, self, this or that are all
subject-object thinking of separateness that is the
root of all evil.
Everything is so totally connected that
a separate self is an illusion that can be overcome
by mystical experience of unity of all reality.
Everything occurs by the will of God,
nothing can happen without His will. Not even a
leaf can move without God willing it.
No one can decide what is Right or
Wrong, only God can make such choices,
and God is never wrong. And God does not play dice with the universe.
Everything happens according to the laws
of science, found or yet to be
found, not by choices.
What is called choice is nothing more
than the effect of an earlier cause, hence
the idea of choice is a false one.
The moment a unified theory is found,
everything can be then explained, and
then all events can be predicted and determined by the theory of everything,
then such things like right and wrong will anyway become redundant.
There is no such thing as right and
wrong, it is only a matter of social
conventions that are a result of evolutionary adaptation mechanisms.
Scientists have discovered the 'god
particle' that can explain everything, so all
mysteries will be soon solved, and then there will be no need to ask silly questions
about the meaning of life and things like right or wrong.
Technology will eventually advance to
where our brains can be uploaded into
computers and so all tiresome problems, suffering etc. can be easily solved.
Scientists have discovered that
everything has come into existence by 'quantum
fluctuations' which beautifully explains everything but people continue to
ask silly philosophical questions, whereas Hawkins has declared that
philosophy is dead, as his genius has proved beyond doubt that science
has all the answers.
All such concepts like choice, self, and
even this world are illusions that need to be
dissolved, so that one can achieve peaceful and blissful union with ultimate reality and God.
The concept of choice itself is illusory
as all behavior depends upon sub-conscious
processes over which we can never have control.
The very idea of control itself is an
illusion since every event is only an
effect of a previous cause and so it is bound to happen.
Denial that there is anything like
choice at all, its all destiny.
Only fools think there are choices, the
wise go with the flow.
One can never be sure of anything so why
take risks ?
Everything happens for the best,
whatever we do.
All that has happened so far is good,
all that is happening is good, all that will
happen will be the good.
Already surrendered oneself to the
choices others, society and unknown forces
make for you.
So Self -satisfied about your own life
that there is no need to be bothered about right
and wrong choices.
You feel that many things going on
around you are wrong, but you yourself have
done no wrong, so its not your business to interfere in what others are doing.
Now you have come to know that a lot of
wrongs were done by people in the
past, but since the past is gone and cannot be changed, its best to ignore the past.
The past is already over, and exists
only in our memories, the future is yet to come
and exists only in our plans, the present is there only to live in the moment, and so
there is nothing to choose, as nothing that is right or wrong in the present, since it is
all a continuous flow in reality.
The mystics have already proclaimed that
everything that happens is a part of
great cosmic cycle or drama, and the present is but an illusory moment in infinity.
A Great Lama has revealed that the
purpose of life is joy, and boy, you are already
brimming with it.
Everything is evolving anyway, and so
its only a matter of time before you evolve.
Even a rock will one day become a
Even every blade of grass will one day
be liberated by the bodhisattvas, and thanks
to them, all will be free from the cycle of life and death and suffering.
A master has said that you have to go
along with the natural course of life, and
you are in the process of doing just that.
All that you have done and are doing is
only what everyone else is doing, so what's
the big fuss ?
Even great sages have said that we can
never understand the world, its all a mystery.
Some other great sages have said that the world is perfect just the way it is.
As an individual person, one can never know enough to make right choices.
In ignorance or lack of knowledge about
the capabilities, potential of oneself.
Ignorance about the long term
consequences of choices that have a short term rewards.
The awareness is there about the right
choice but that choice has dangerous, painful or
even life threatening consequences.
The awareness is there about a seemingly
right action, but will make one appear
silly and ridiculous to other people.
The awareness is there about the wrong
choice one is about to make, but the
immediate rewards are so high that these override all other considerations.
Never considered these things because
you are doing only what everyone else
is doing, and you have committed no crime.
There is no motivation to look for the
Right course of action, you are quite content
with the way things are.
There is no need to examine or look for
Right or Wrong since everything is going just
perfectly with your life, the world itself is just perfect, only some people just can't get it -
and well, too bad for them.
From all available choices, you have
already made the most rightful of choices,
there's nothing more to do in this department.
You have achieved success, and
ipso-facto you must have done everything right.
There is no right and wrong as such,
only levels of evolution to which one reaches.
You have already experienced the unity
of everything, experienced God, and in this unity
there can be no Right or Wrong, no Good or Bad, all and everything is just what it is.
You have already done more than your
share of helping other people, the environment,
etc, and just about had it with all this green stuff, and no one else seems to care.
The world has to end some day anyway, so
why wreck your brains about it ?
Even if we do our best, some jerk is
bound to come along and spoil the party.
"Evil is done without effort, naturally, it is the working of fate;
good is always the product of an art."...Charles Baudelaire
"What is called human progress is purely an intellectual affair - not much
development, however, is seen on the moral side. It is doubtful whether
the methods of modern warfare are preferable to the big stones used
for cracking the skulls of fellow-Neanderthals"
..............Ludwig Von Bertalanffy
"It's not about how many prostrations you do, or what lineage you've associated
yourself with, or how much cholesterol is in your diet. And somehow we have
confused the ethical and moral dimension with the dimension of physical
practices - probably because we have been too infected by the memes of tired
Asian religions that long ago gave up moral philosophy in favor of rotational
activity - because the social problems of Asia are overwhelming - that's a
response to an overwhelming human tragedy - the quietude of Asian
religion, I think."......Terence McKenna
"The separation of thought from action – of understanding from Will – this is a
recurring dichotomy of modern literature – full of narrators who are impotent
to change the events they try to understand and narrate to us – the passive
witness rendered incapable of action by their attempt to understand.
The paradox of modernity every modernist text implicitly contains a complex
and contradictory energy: old, traditional values are invoked only to say that
they don’t work anymore. In modernity the old dispensation, the old
inherited values the old categories for making sense of the world – and of
judging people no longer hold. The modern world is more problematic
and dangerous and much more morally ambiguous place.
The paradox has to do with the fact that the poetic text in order to make
an argument about its newness and modernity, must rely on the very
strategies, the very values – even the very literary forms that it is
claiming to overgrow. "
.....TTC Masterworks of Early 20th Century Literature (Audio) David Thorburn
"The fundamental question is
about questioning itself – is there any point to it in
the human context? The question of the meaning of life extends to every aspect
of human life with regard to it all. So here a choice must be made and a commitment
undertaken. Where do we stand? At first glance the alternatives would seem to be at
first glance to dismiss absurdity as a childish fear – a pessimistic shadow hanging over
life or on the other hand have the daring to unmask the pretensions of meaningfulness
for what they really are – defense mechanisms and a security perimeter that life requires
between itself and a constantly hostile and threatening and ultimately deadly environment
but which sooner or later will be smashed by the superior force of life itself. The question is:
what kind of question is it to be: humanly fulfilling and worthwhile or pointless and absurd."
------TTC : Prof Ambrosio
" The study of the problem of evil
teaches us of the intractability of the challenge of
evil for humanity, and humanity's ceaseless effort to confront that challenge. Rousseau
was right in saying that we cannot but help ask these questions, cannot help but struggle
with them, because of the reservoir of hope in our beings is such that it can never fully be
quenched. We always ask these very abstract questions of why there is evil. Not simply
a matter of putting band-aid on the immediate problems that evil presents to us - the
wounds, the damages, the evil malices, the vindictiveness of our moment. All of these
phenomena make us step back from them and some part of us asks - how does this
world hang together if these kinds of realties are there?
"In the third kind of theory, evil is considered as an inevitable step towards the process
of maturation of us as human beings and even the cosmos as a whole. An estrangement
that is necessary for us to become mature - to become properly self conscious of
who we are and our place in the cosmos."
....TTC C. Mathews
"Everyone wants happiness, although not
everyone wants justice,
not everyone wants injustice and not everyone wants power. So the
question is what means attains the ends of happiness. Is it justice
or is it injustice with the power to do what you want and get away
with it. Every time we think that it is okay to cheat a little, lie a little
or be unfaithful a little, we really do believe it. If we didn't believe that
doing wrong was going to make us happy, we wouldn't do it. If sin
did not look like fun we would all be saints. So Plato's high aim in the
Republic is to convince us that injustice is never profitable. Even if
the book does not succeed, the aim is so high that it still makes it
the most important Philosophical work. And it's not the politics that
is contained in the book that makes it so, because the politics in
the book does have some stupid ideas, and that should not prejudice
us against it, because philosophers can be very stupid politicians.
Hegel thought that the kingdom of God had come in the form of
Bismarck's Prussia. Heidegger joined the Nazi party and called
Hitler the new God. Plato wasn't quite that stupid. The purpose of
The Republic is to prove that justice is always more profitable than
injustice.".........TMS P. Kreeft
Summation of defaults :
"It is well
worth the efforts of a life-time to have attained knowledge which
justifies an attack on the root of all evil . . . which asserts that because
forms of evil have always existed in society, therefore they must always
exist . ." ............Elizabeth Blackwell
almost all of the above points there is one thing common : an amoral
or evasive defense or justification of wrong doing or immorality.
blanket or mask that tries to hide an ugly and frightening truth about
human nature : we are inherently and mostly, immoral and destructive.
By the denial of the fact that wrong choices are made by default; almost
always, a wrong action, if at all questioned, is justified by an amoral
reasoning as a defense shield that deflects from the Self as the cause
of that wrong doing.
The awful daring
of a moment’s surrender
Which an age of prudence can never retract
By this, and this only, we have existed
Which is not to be found in our obituaries
Or in memories draped by the beneficent spider
Or under seals broken by the lean solicitor
In our empty rooms. T S Eliot
Note on Forgiveness:
Having done wrong/s by mistake or
default need not lead to a remorseful paralysis if one
becomes conscious of the wrong actions AND if one is willing to take responsibility
henceforth to do it right. Reality is structured to provide several chances to the
one who at the very least becomes conscious of wrong doing, acknowledges it
fully, and seeks forgiveness.
Forgiveness is meaningful only if
the person himself/herself is genuinely seeking
forgiveness, and in the genuinely seeking forgiveness, it is not necessary that the person/s
affected by one's wrong actions 'give' forgiveness, for forgiveness will be given if it is
deserving of forgiveness, although there is always a debt to be cleared subsequently.
The last temptation is the greatest treason
To do the right deed for the wrong reason...T S Eliot
temptation is the worst self-deception ;
To do the wrong thing but with the perfect justification....Updated
"A gap has opened up between our
awareness of evil and the intellectual resources
we have for handling it. Increasingly we neither know how to resist it nor how to suffer
evil. Most basically because we don't understand it. Evil bewilders us and our typical
response to it is a fear of admitting incomprehension of what it is that we confront -
what is it that we are called to respond to when we encounter evil?
.............TTC C. Mathews
3.11.6 DRAWING A LINE
morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere.'
" The ultimate
measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort
and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
.........Martin Luther King, Jr.
We proceed here with the following conclusions :
1. That for a
human being to claim having no choice is as good as not being in
the realm of current reality.
2. That as human
beings we invariably commit a lot of wrongs, and have an
inherently destructive nature.
3. That wrongs can
only be offset by Willful, creative and responsible actions.
That true choice and responsibility are inseparable.
responsibility lies in developing the ability to positively and creatively
respond to society and environment.
destructiveness in ourselves and others, it turns us toward easy
and unwitting complicity with evil".....Sheldon Kopp
"Throughout history, it has been
the inaction of those who could have acted,
the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the
voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for
evil to triumph"......Haile Selassie
Once we accept
these premises of controlling our behavior, we have to be keenly aware
that we must draw the line between the use and the abuse of that which is given to us :
our intelligence and our resources.
The rules upon which a society can morally sustain depends entirely
upon where this line is drawn, maintained and defined. With time this
may need to be redefined and redrawn.
But even more so, this will require to be continuously refined through
creative inputs, and even healthy conflict.
" No cause is left but the most ancient of all, the one, in fact, that from the
beginning of our history has determined the very existence of politics ......
...the cause of freedom versus tyranny "........Hannah Arendt
3.11.7 CREATIVE CHOICE :
The only Real choice.
believed that purpose of human existence is to cultivate and actualize
the self. Choosing, i.e. actively willing, is what drives the soul toward realization.
To be a self, however, requires making very specific commitments to live one’s
life in a particular way. Thus, the concept of being a self for Kierkegaard is not a
passive understanding of a concept, but an activity, the direct action of the will.
Creative choice is the creation of possibilities beyond what are currently available
choices or what appear to be currently available.
It is driven by the inspiration for seeking that which is
better than what is currently present.
Or by the
knowledge that the present is just all wrong, or unacceptable, or even :
just not good enough. From the knowing that there must be better. From the need
to improve upon whatever is already there.
courage is the righting of wrongs, creative courage, in contrast, is the
discovering of new forms, new symbols, new patterns on which a new society
can be built. (Rollo May)
From the initiation and drive to seek and attain perfection.
From the creative
or artistic balancing of beliefs and counter beliefs, both required and
necessary to test, correct and complete each other for their validity and limits for oneself.
inspiration, the motivation to initiate the search for the better must be
present as a vital essence of one's Will. For if it is not, then the only possibility is to
come across the better, is by accident or chance.
And even that is likely to be missed if one is not on the alert, or at the very least,
open to the possibility.
Real choice then
comes from the force or motivation of having to choose in accordance
of one's Will, which is a reflection of one's uniqueness. The Will itself is exercised and
developed by the act of Willfully believing, choosing and being responsible.
" We are
what and where we are because we have first imagined it"...Donald Curtis
This development then leads one not only to make the best of available choices, but
also to be able to create choices by creating opportunities by experimenting with and
testing one's given potential. It is the given potential of one's intelligence that has the
capability of creating opportunities for the Will to make its bidding to create
possibilities where only the routine or none seem to be available.
This implies a break from the routine and mundane. And a break from the routine is to
invite conflict or tension, as the creative has to arise from the unknown and so upsets
the known and the routine. And it is here that the battle between the established
known and the new known takes place.
The created new known also carries the risk of destroying and not merely modifying
the established known. This battle is a battle for morals. The battle for right or wrong,
for better or worse, within oneself, or in a social or political setup. A battle between
clashing or opposing forces.
" Search for the seed of good in every adversity "...Og Mandino
creative choice arises from the tension of clashing forces, but this
choice can be for the better or for the worse. To be aware of this is to
be forewarned, for a decisive moral battle takes place. To be ignorant
of this is to get invariably trapped in the worse.
choice is when the whole of one's being is behind that choice.
But the attempt, the direction has to be provided by our intelligence
driven by the Will.
"For a conscious
being to exist is to change – to change is to mature
and to mature is to go on creating one’s self endlessly. As life grows
richer, in its scope, heritage and memories, the field of choice widens
and at last a variety of possible responses generates consciousness,
which is the rehearsal of response. Consciousness seems proportionate
to a living being’s power of choice. It lights up the zone of potentialities
that surrounds the act. It fills the interval between what is done and
what might be done. It is no useless appendage. It is the vivid theatre
of imagination where alternative responses are pictured and tested
before the irrevocable choice. In Reality then, a living being is the
centre of action. It represents a sum of contingency entering into the
world, that is to say a certain quantity of possible action. Man is no
passive adaptive machine – he is the focus of redirected force – the
centre of creative evolution. Free Will is a corollary of consciousness –
to say that we are free is merely to mean that we know what we are
doing. Choice is burdensome and effortful. Choice is creation and
creation is labor.....Will Durant
is that creative choice that is preceded by setting up or
preparing the conditions of having to choose - a condition that
demands forceful decisive action.
This cannot happen unless one realizes the necessity of having to
choose or make willful choices that affect one's society and
environment in a positive manner.
The easiest thing
to do is to withdraw from the world in a secure, secluded shell,
where nothing affects you anymore and attaining a peace of mind is the only choice
that is sought. This is the easy way out for most meditating cults or religions.
They propagate that attaining peace of mind and experience of unity, soul etc is
the ultimate human accomplishment. The value for creativity, social responsibility,
intelligence and Will are all looked upon as illusory or less worthy pursuits.
They presume and propagate that everybody eventually will reach to and merge
into the creator sooner or later, so no need to exercise one's mind and brain over
social order, morals, etc. It is no wonder then that the societies in which such attitudes
prevail are today the most corrupt, inefficient, immoral, degenerate and uncaring
about society, environment and just about anything related to life. The whole world
is an illusion according to them. A state of blissful ignorance is their priority.
But to demean
intelligence is to demean life, and have no value for creativity,
and so this work attempts to warn a self-explorer about the pitfalls of religion or
too much meditation.
A self-explorer seeks knowledge and power to enhance one's intelligence,
efficiency and creativity, and not to diminish or demean these. Having
to make right choices depends upon developing the potential of all
aspects of being human, not just by feeling good and peaceful.
3.11.8 In conclusion :
is morally wrong can be politically right"..........William Gladstone
Creative choice is having and needing to make choices in which one's
entire being, or the totality of one's being is behind that choice, in which
even one's own life is at stake and death is the ruling parameter.
Real choices are life and death choices.
Right action comes before everything else.
"If I do not
reveal my views on justice in words, I do so by my conduct"
It involves an acute awareness of possible and probable consequences
of choices made, and thereby a preparedness to face all probable and
possible consequences, even if they are not according to expectations.
Making forceful choice in consonance with one's Will, intelligence and
the force of one's death.
It may be too late to save this world*, but it
is never too late to do the Right thing.
*'Saving the world' is a noble but
limited goal - the best way to understand
the phrase is: to make a positive difference in people's lives so that they take
responsibility for their own lives.
"The great events
of world history are at bottom, profoundly unimportant. In the
last analysis, the essential thing is the life of the individual. This alone makes
history, here alone do the great transformations first take place, and the whole
future, the whole history of the world, ultimately spring as a gigantic summation
from these hidden sources in individuals.
In our most private and most subjective lives we are not only the passive
witnesses of our age and its sufferers, but also its makers.
We make our own epoch."......Jung
"As a philosophic
movement, to the extent that it ever was one,
existentialism in its various avatars has played a major role in
continental philosophy for over fifty years and has now entered
the perennial philosophic conversation in which it voices the
abiding moral concerns of the human condition. In other words,
it continues to defend individual freedom, responsibility and
authenticity in the midst of various forms of determinism,
conformism, self-deception, technologism and the like, so
prevalent in our day, and it often does so in a imaginative
mode that employs art and example to bring home in concrete
fashion abstract principles that otherwise risk being dismissed as
scholastic irrelevancies or admired from a distance as interesting
intellectual curiosity." .....Thomas Flynn
"We can't avoid
thinking about evil. If we try to avoid it, it looms over
the horizon as what remains un-thought for us, and so all our thinking
knows of its presence, just over the edge of our vision, and eventually it
will intrude again into our lives and into our minds. Even if we know why,
we still have to think about how to think about evil, a way of thinking about
it that avoids the two pitfalls in thinking about evil - on the one hand to
demonize 'other people' - people who are different from us. and on the other
hand to internalize evil - to render it entirely a phenomena that makes us
worried about gaining and accruing guilt in our souls in some way. If we
can find a language of evil that neither affixes too quickly and easily the
title of evil to people that are unlike us in some fundamental way, nor
does it paralyze us with guilt and drag us down to despair, then we
have something that is possibly workable".
....TTC C Mathews
OBJECTIVE MORALITY: [Web Interactive2013]
is not ideology, left or right. Ethics seeks the real truth about
good and evil, that is, which does not change with time and place.
Ethics argues about and judges ideology."....TMS P. Kreeft
Notes 2013: Each living thing's life is imbued with purpose and
meaning when it expresses it's unique talents and capabilities in a creative manner.
In so far as it is creative, it is different, distinct and unique since every creative
expression is unique (every bird has its own song), and so you may say that each
living thing has a different meaning and purpose.
Yet we can generalize this by saying that the broad purpose of life is creativity - and
humans are special because we have an additional dimension to creativity - and that
is the moral dimension integrated with creativity - and both of these dimensions
converge in the unity in Eternity where all different purposes also converge.
The bad news is that we as humans are very very fallible in the moral dimension,
and once fallen, our purpose in not with synchronicity or converging with the overall
telos or purpose of the cosmos, and the even more terrifying reality of that state is that
we become means for the ends of others and not self-definable ends in ourselves.
It is a state in which we lose moral consciousness, even the consciousness that we
have fallen, rather we are deceived into thinking that we are at the top of the world,
too evolved to think about moral and immoral, good or evil, right or wrong.]
Web2013: I would
like to define evil as that wrong act which is done in 'deliberate ignorance',
that is, if you are able to corner the person (which anyway happens at death), and strip him bare
of the motives or expose him/her of the justifications for that act, will have to admit it was wrong,
but....it was done with a convincing justification, thereby implying that it was not evil.
Genocides have been committed by manufacturing justifications which appear to be completely
innocent or even noble acts on the part of the perpetrators, but will never pass
through the final reckoning of Objective Reality.}
It may seem to some readers that
this article is all about subjective morals and that it is being implied
that there are no objective morals. So in order to clarify this part has been added:-
There is only one ultimate
category to which everything has to finally relate to, and that is the MORAL
category. All other categories, concepts, beliefs, paradigms, world views, individuals, society and
cultures eventually must converge on this moral dimension as the end or Telos (Purpose, final cause,
final end, Eschaton etc are related terms) of the cosmos, or if they fail to do so, then by default, they
become the means to the Telos. This is the foundation of how I prefer and choose to construct
my metaphysics, or world view or theory of everything.
I will start with the proposition
that there is one absolute and objective moral law sourced in eternity,
which is also a reference or standard through which the moral order of the cosmos is governed.
In eternity, this is a unified state. In order to test and refine this reference standard, it cannot remain
in a unified state of stasis, and needs a space–time temporal or transitory dynamic state of existence
in which the real is pitted against the unreal or fake or illusory. And so in the space-time temporality
this unity is split into autonomous beings that become the individual loci of the testing of the absolute
Individual beings participate in or are the agents of action in this temporal realm of space-time axis in
order to enhance their own moral consciousness (subjective) as well as to test and refine the absolute
moral standard (objective). Human beings are born with no direct knowledge of the absolute moral –
only a strand of it is innate – but that is not tangible or perceivable directly. Knowledge about one’s true
nature and the absolute moral has to be reconstructed afresh every time, at all times, anywhere. At the
very least that part of it pertaining to the individual nature by learning and by the actions performed
according to that learning, for these actions will reveal that person’s nature – and if the person is
willing to go further – then the learning of the relationship or connection between the individual
and the larger whole – the absolute moral.
Most religions posit that moral
actions are objectively (independent of individual interpretations of their
consequences) lasting and also accounted for in the transcendental realm of the absolute and the eternal
(Called God by the theists, but I prefer to call it the ‘essence and totality of reality as a transcendental unity
in eternity’.) Since this cannot be ‘verified’ by anybody (read trained scientist), this cannot come in the
domain of scientific inquiry.
In any case moral actions are not testable for their observed and evaluated consequences in any tangible
manner whatsoever, because no controlled conditions can be setup for verification, as also every significant
moral action takes place in a unique circumstance faced by an individual. Therefore paradoxically, since
the locus of moral action is an individual, morals are both subjective and transcendentally objective.
This does not mean that there are no right or wrong actions we can agree upon, but that in action each
one must take the call individually. Agreement on right and wrong acts is the basis of Ethics and Justice in
the social context. The quality of ethics and justice in a society and finally in the world at large,
determines how close these come to the objectively moral.
The argument I am giving for the objective morality is that without an independent objective standard
in reality, the moral order of the cosmos cannot exist, and if no such moral order exists, then it makes no
difference whether we act rightly or wrongly since there is no lasting consequences for our actions, and
nothing to finally account for our actions. If there was no strand of the absolute, objective moral standard
within us humans we would have no conscience, no consciousness of right and wrong. Consider the thought
experiment of ‘The Ring of Gyges’. Without a conscience and only intelligence, with the power that one
could get away with anything, all our actions would be totally immoral.
Of course, death would put an end to it, but that’s another story.
The whole point of our existence is centered on our moral/immoral actions, on our ability (if we are left
with any) to distinguish (and act upon) right from wrong, good from evil, and the essence of our very
being depends upon these choices – it determines our destiny.
Religions (organized) say have ‘faith’ in the objectively moral. It fails because it tries to ‘objectify’
the objectively moral in a doctrine and through institutionalization. Socrates and Plato explored
it through language and realized that Justice was central to the objectively moral. There are of
course many attempts through the ages that tried to express the single core of the
"I do not pretend
to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye
reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the
experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure
it bends towards justice.".....Theodore Parker
"Why do we
believe that it is wrong to disobey your own conscience - to
deliberately do something that you honestly believe is evil. Even moral
relativists believe that. They may say different strokes for different folks
and what's good for you is good for you and not me, so don't impose your
morality on me. But they always have one absolute left : if you sincerely
believe that it's wrong for you to do something, you shouldn't do it. It might
be alright to sin against society, against religion, against tradition, but it's
never right to sin against your own conscience. But why, for heaven's sake?
Why treat your conscience as a prophet that defies authority? Unless it is.
Thus we have the argument from conscience for the existence of the
absolute. The argument says that the absolute is the only hypothesis that
explains the data. The data is the absolute authority of conscience."
........TMS P. Kreeft
Through the ages many people have
sought and learned in part about the absolute – the objectively
moral, and tried to express in words the abstract absolute, as well as the most pragmatic aspect of the
objectively moral. I will not dwell on the abstract because that does not serve a pragmatic purpose
and tends to become doctrinal, besides having little intellectual value – mostly only of devotional
value or for worship or for mysticism.
Many mystics even scorn any attempts to put the absolute in words by putting in words themselves, like
‘that which can be put in words is not the Dao”, thereby contradicting themselves. This indicates that
the relation between the temporal and the eternal is paradoxical, veiled or hidden, and yet these are true
counterparts of each other that must be synthesized or integrated within an individual human being
for the veil be lifted and knowledge become possible and developed into power.
“A human being is a synthesis of the finite and the infinite, of the temporal and the eternal,
of necessity and freedom”. Soren Kierkegaard
Thus any expression, even pragmatic expressions about even the single core aspect of the objectively
moral is paradoxical, ambiguous and sometimes even absurd. But that itself is the supreme challenge.
So how is the single core aspect of the objectively moral best put in words so that it makes the most
All of them have one thing in common: it has to do with how we treat other people, other creatures,
even the resources that support the ‘web of life’.
Lets start with Socrates: “It is worse to do injustice than to suffer injustice” Summary of Socratic teaching:
Justice is doing that which betters or improves the other, as also it improves you. (This gets the best
marks from me personally)
Jesus : "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" and “Love they neighbors as you love yourself.
Best rendition: “do not treat people in a way you would not wish to be treated yourself” This ‘golden rule’ is not
literally pragmatic and all kinds of absurdities can emerge. The best way to understand it is ‘Watch what you
are doing to others, for that too will happen to you.’ signifying that reality has a hidden way of ‘paying you back
in the same coin’- a mechanism of justice inherent in reality, that becomes operative when human justice fails.
This was also expressed by a Native American chief when he saw the slaughter of animals in the new world
‘Whatever happens to the beast will also happen to man’ and "Man has not woven the ‘web of life’ (a very
important conception), he is but one thread. What he does to the ‘web of life’ he does to himself."
(These words have turned out to be prophetic)
North American native culture had the best ethical standard that expresses the objective moral in temporal
reality by one of their key proverbs:
"Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children.
We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."
In the postmodern world I guess this is best expressed as ‘Ask not what the world can give to you,
ask instead what you can give to the world”
WEB INTERACTIVE NOTE : Why does the infinite, the absolute and the eternal need the finite, the limited? Why
does the autonomous Ghost haunt the (poor) limited, finite machine?
The Answer in abstract: The intangible, the infinite, the eternal NEEDS the finite, the tangible, the temporal, the
material (tissues, brain etc) as a TEMPORAL CONSTRUCT, that is, AS MEANS in order to test and realize itself and
then for creativity or art (in the eternal unitary state there can be no creativity) which then REFINES the eternal.
The ghost is a metaphor for that Spirit which has not yet been realized in the concrete form of creative manifest,
and therefore 'haunts' the machine, to find the 'fallen into the unconscious' animate being so that it wakes up and
gets it act together (into affirmative action, not mechanical action)
But which is pure machine (no potential for being animated, and therefore no-being as such, only serving as 'means'),
and which being is a 'fallen into slumber' but capable of waking up, I can't say, it is only the 'conscious of existence'
individual that can find and answer that for himself/herself.
In temporal reality, autonomy is necessarily limited, that is, the limitations are the necessary conditions in which,
and the means by which, this autonomy is tested through affirmative action and choices - especially moral choices.
Therefore the autonomous needs the limited in order to test, realize and refine itself - the result of which is
'manifest' only by creative expression and moral action of an individual being. As such the temporal is not by itself
a 'manifest' of the autonomous, but a construct of the autonomous in order to serve as a necessary challenging
counterpart. The locus of this 'test of reality' is an individual human being, by and for the sake of the existing
individual human being, not for some abstract reality in a remote realm. Which means that the action must
originate or sourced from within an individual being, although the trigger may well get activated by
some other one's work of art - even the work of some dead artist.
"No poet, no artist of any sort, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the
appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists".....T. S. Eliot
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A GAME AND REALITY?
The big difference is that the
game you are playing gives no autonomous power to the characters in the game,
they are purely mechanical, whereas in Temporal (Space-Time) Reality, there is no one controller 'guy' (this is
not to say there are no other controllers), but individual human beings have limited autonomous power (insofar
as they can behold it) of choice and participation, particularly moral choices. In a game nothing transcendental is
at stake, whereas in Reality, your very being is at stake in the moral choices you make. In a game, the characters
don't really exist and are merely data patterns following a program mechanically, but in Reality, individuals
(conscious of their potential autonomous individuality and it's responsibility) do Really exist - this is the
main point of all existentialist philosophers. The high point is that not only in the temporal realm but also
of the absolute and eternal, it's not a game, and the analogy with gaming breaks down.
"Both Frankl and
Socrates view human existence as a process of being questioned by life
and having to decide what meaning we shall attribute to it through the way in which we live.
Everything can be
taken from a man but one thing – the last of the human freedoms – to
choose one’s attitudes in any given set of circumstances. This unalienable freedom I take
to be the same reality that Socrates refers to as the Soul – the object that Socrates exhorts
his fellow citizens to take care of above all else.” The body and soul distinction made by
Socrates is same as the distinction between freedom and liberty of choice. The distinction
is that not of material and immaterial but a distinction or metaphor for two kinds of values,
or two different ways of living – specifically two different ways of making choices. Liberty
of choice refers to the way in which we deal with external, circumstantial situations – like
a restaurant menu. Every situation constitutes a set of options among which we may choose
while at the same time excluding other options.
Liberty of choice is therefore is the capacity of our ability to choose without arbitrary
constraints from among the options that are available to us in a particular situation.
Liberty of choice (
or lack thereof ) is supposed to be provided by social institutions like
governments, which is different from freedom. Freedom has to do with the capacity each one
of us has to decide what his or her identity as a person will be – an identity which is not
external, not tangible, not situational, but is a matter of meaning. Freedom allows us to
decide upon the principles with which we make our way through life, by which our way of
living will be guided, and how those principles will be applied in specific circumstances of
choice – in other words the freedom of conscience. No one, no society, no institution confers
or takes away freedom of conscience – it is our unique and sole possession.
Freedom functions as responsibility. "......TTC : Prof Ambrosio
NEXT PAGE No 22 : Time, Space and Meaningfulness
ROOT LINK http://personalvalidity.webs.com/
epistemology, philosophy, metaphysics,
religion, belief, system, social, cultural, paradigm, knowledge,
ontology, power, moral, fundamental, force, Will, S
epistemology, philosophy, metaphysics,
religion, belief, system, social, cultural, paradigm, knowledge,
ontology, power, moral, fundamental, force, Will, Spirit, Intent, knowing, Heart, Mind, reason, intuition,
autonomous, unique, being, existence, space, time, meaning, purpose
GrossRyder Gross Ryder grossryder G RYDER GROSS RYDER
pirit, Intent, knowing,
Heart, Mind, reason, intuition,
autonomous, unique, being, existence, space, time, meaning, purpose
19 Jan 2015 Comment in: https://www.facebook.com/ayearofbooks?fref=nf
REPLY TO I guess there will always be this question
of whether violence/aggression is born of nature or nurture?
If humans were born amoral into this world, can we then say our minds need to be continuously renewed to rid
of all the 'toxins', literally and figuratively speaking? I'd like to err on the notion that what has been learned,
can be unlearned if the mind is willing (vice versa).
Violence and aggression are not synonymous, and both
are intrinsic part of human nature, but elevated or
subdued by the social conditions, i.e. it is also "nurtured" so to speak. Humans are born with a finite level
of moral power or conscience (humans are not born amoral) which is enhanced or depleted by affirmative
individual actions. Those who have no affirmative actions of their own, that is, all their actions are based
not from one's own moral conscience but from social norms only, become amoral automatons - they lose
the essential human quality of making moral choices.
Our minds do need to be continuously renewed to be rid of the so called 'toxins', but this is more
importantly done by internal or personal force of will, although society also has an important role in
this - and I don't mean placing a policeman at every nook and corner.
If the mind has a "will" then anything is possible limited to the power and nature of the individual's
will, which can only be determined by experience and experiment.
What is Sujective Truth?
The only meaningful sense in which truth can be talked
about is by a ‘subject’ ( a ‘subject’ of nature/reality/cosmos)
– meaning: an ‘existing individual’. Truth is primarily subjective – which means that even an objective or
absolute truth is meaningful only if subjectively related to, realized in one’s own life and actions, and
articulated in a unique or creative expression.
The mass of men/women and society or culture are not concrete entities that can ‘realize’ or articulate
even a single truth because the locus of any realization and articulation of ANY truth is an existing individual.
A ‘truth’ has no meaning, no sense, without an existing Being‘for 'Whom and for What’ it is true. Subjective
truth is the answer to the question one asks about what one’s life is all about, and Objective truth is the answer
to the question that one asks about what human existence is all about – the Telos of the cosmos. No one is ‘born’
into the truth (although the potential is latent), nor can it be really imposed or acquired from society and culture.
It has to be necessarily sought BY the individual, is realized through knowledge and action FOR the individual
and it becomes OF the individual, and finally articulated BY the individual.
" Subjectivity - inwardness is the truth. That is my thesis. What good would it do me if the truth stood before me,
cold and naked, not caring whether I recognized her or not, and producing in me a shudder of fear rather than
a trusting devotion? Must not the truth be taken up into my life? That is what I now recognize as the most
All life forms are sentient (having sense perception or feeling) in the sense that they are capable of ‘feeling’ at least,
even if not having sense perception. (It has been demonstrated that even plants have ‘feeling’). From a very pragmatic
perspective in relating to the concept of truth, a human being is indeed the “existing individual” insofar as that
particular human being is aware of his/her individuality as an autonomously thinking and acting individual, that is,
not wholly dependent upon social, cultural norms of thought and behaviour.
"Two ways in general are open for an existing individual - either he can do his utmost to forget that he is an existing
individual - by which he becomes a comic figure since existence has the remarkable trait of compelling an existing
individual to exist, whether he wills it or not - or he can concentrate his entire energy (or awareness) on the fact
that he is an existing individual."..Soren Kierkegaard
As I understand it, "dread" arises from the intense awareness of individuality that is yet to be fulfilled. It arises from
the awareness that this individuality comes with a responsibility that must be fulfilled through action or creativity - and
the way to do it must necessarily come from within (subjective) as no other authority will suffice, and that the action
or creativity must relate to and be contributive to the objective truth - that is, capable of relating to and contributive
The "collective" from the Christian core teaching essentially implies and must be understood as "humanity at large",
that is, the collective human quintessence, rather than that of a certain society (even Christian societies) or of a certain
nation or a particular culture or race.
The Crowd is Untruth
On the Dedication to "That Single Individual"1
Translated by Charles K. Bellinger
My dear, accept this dedication; it is given over, as it were, blindfolded, but therefore undisturbed by any consideration, in sincerity. Who you are, I know not; where you are, I know not; what your name is, I know not. Yet you are my hope, my joy, my pride, and my unknown honor.
It comforts me, that the right occasion is now there for you; which I have honestly intended during my labor and in my labor. For if it were possible that reading what I write became worldly custom, or even to give oneself out as having read it, in the hope of thereby winning something in the world, that then would not be the right occasion, since, on the contrary, misunderstanding would have triumphed, and it would have also deceived me, if I had not striven to prevent such a thing from happening.
This, in part, is a possible change in me, something I even wish for, basically a mood of soul and mind, which does not produce change by being more than change and therefore produces nothing less than change; it is rather an admission, in part a thoroughly and well thought-out view of "life," of "the truth," and of "the way."
There is a view of life which holds that where the crowd is, the truth is also, that it is a need in truth itself, that it must have the crowd on its side.2 There is another view of life; which holds that wherever the crowd is, there is untruth, so that, for a moment to carry the matter out to its farthest conclusion, even if every individual possessed the truth in private, yet if they came together into a crowd (so that "the crowd" received any decisive, voting, noisy, audible importance), untruth would at once be let in.3
For "the crowd" is untruth. Eternally, godly, christianly what Paul says is valid: "only one receives the prize," [I Cor. 9:24] not by way of comparison, for in the comparison "the others" are still present. That is to say, everyone can be that one, with God's help - but only one receives the prize; again, that is to say, everyone should cautiously have dealings with "the others," and essentially only talk with God and with himself - for only one receives the prize; again, that is to say, the human being is in kinship with, or to be a human is to be in kinship with the divinity. The worldly, temporal, busy, socially-friendly person says this: "How unreasonable, that only one should receive the prize, it is far more probable that several combined receive the prize; and if we become many, then it becomes more certain and also easier for each individually." Certainly, it is far more probable; and it is also true in relation to all earthly and sensuous prizes; and it becomes the only truth, if it is allowed to rule, for this point of view abolishes both God and the eternal and "the human being's" kinship with the divinity; it abolishes it or changes it into a fable, and sets the modern (as a matter of fact, the old heathen) in its place, so that to be a human being is like being a specimen which belongs to a race gifted with reason, so that the race, the species, is higher than the individual, or so that there are only specimens, not individuals. But the eternal, which vaults high over the temporal, quiet as the night sky, and God in heaven, who from this exalted state of bliss, without becoming the least bit dizzy, looks out over these innumerable millions and knows each single individual; he, the great examiner, he says: only one receives the prize; that is to say, everyone can receive it, and everyone ought to become this by oneself, but only one receives the prize. Where the crowd is, therefore, or where a decisive importance is attached to the fact that there is a crowd, there no one is working, living, and striving for the highest end, but only for this or that earthly end; since the eternal, the decisive, can only be worked for where there is one; and to become this by oneself, which all can do, is to will to allow God to help you - "the crowd" is untruth.
A crowd - not this or that, one now living or long dead, a crowd of the lowly or of nobles, of rich or poor, etc., but in its very concept 4 - is untruth, since a crowd either renders the single individual wholly unrepentant and irresponsible, or weakens his responsibility by making it a fraction of his decision. Observe, there was not a single soldier who dared lay a hand on Caius Marius; this was the truth. But given three or four women with the consciousness or idea of being a crowd, with a certain hope in the possibility that no one could definitely say who it was or who started it: then they had the courage for it; what untruth! The untruth is first that it is "the crowd," which does either what only the single individual in the crowd does, or in every case what each single individual does. For a crowd is an abstraction, which does not have hands; each single individual, on the other hand, normally has two hands, and when he, as a single individual, lays his two hands on Caius Marius, then it is the two hands of this single individual, not after all his neighbor's, even less - the crowd's, which has no hands. In the next place, the untruth is that the crowd had "the courage" for it, since never at any time was even the most cowardly of all single individuals so cowardly, as the crowd always is. For every single individual who escapes into the crowd, and thus flees in cowardice from being a single individual (who either had the courage to lay his hand on Caius Marius, or the courage to admit that he did not have it), contributes his share of cowardice to "the cowardice," which is: the crowd. Take the highest, think of Christ - and the whole human race, all human beings, which were ever born and ever will be born; the situation is the single individual, as an individual, in solitary surroundings alone with him; as a single individual he walks up to him and spits on him: the human being has never been born and never will be, who would have the courage or the impudence for it; this is the truth. But since they remain in a crowd, they have the courage for it - what frightening untruth.
The crowd is untruth. There is therefore no one who has more contempt for what it is to be a human being than those who make it their profession to lead the crowd. Let someone, some individual human being, certainly, approach such a person, what does he care about him; that is much too small a thing; he proudly sends him away; there must be at least a hundred. And if there are thousands, then he bends before the crowd, he bows and scrapes; what untruth! No, when there is an individual human being, then one should express the truth by respecting what it is to be a human being; and if perhaps, as one cruelly says, it was a poor, needy human being, then especially should one invite him into the best room, and if one has several voices, he should use the kindest and friendliest; that is the truth. When on the other hand it was an assembly of thousands or more, and "the truth" became the object of balloting, then especially one should godfearingly - if one prefers not to repeat in silence the Our Father: deliver us from evil - one should godfearingly express, that a crowd, as the court of last resort, ethically and religiously, is the untruth, whereas it is eternally true, that everyone can be the one. This is the truth.
The crowd is untruth. Therefore was Christ crucified, because he, even though he addressed himself to all, would not have to do with the crowd, because he would not in any way let a crowd help him, because he in this respect absolutely pushed away, would not found a party, or allow balloting, but would be what he was, the truth, which relates itself to the single individual. And therefore everyone who in truth will serve the truth, is eo ipso in some way or other a martyr; if it were possible that a human being in his mother's womb could make a decision to will to serve "the truth" in truth, so he also is eo ipso a martyr, however his martyrdom comes about, even while in his mother's womb. For to win a crowd is not so great a trick; one only needs some talent, a certain dose of untruth and a little acquaintance with the human passions. But no witness for the truth - alas, and every human being, you and I, should be one - dares have dealings with a crowd. The witness for the truth - who naturally will have nothing to do with politics, and to the utmost of his ability is careful not to be confused with a politician - the godfearing work of the witness to the truth is to have dealings with all, if possible, but always individually, to talk with each privately, on the streets and lanes - to split up the crowd, or to talk to it, not to form a crowd, but so that one or another individual might go home from the assembly and become a single individual. "A crowd," on the other hand, when it is treated as the court of last resort in relation to "the truth," its judgment as the judgment, is detested by the witness to the truth, more than a virtuous young woman detests the dance hall. And they who address the "crowd" as the court of last resort, he considers to be instruments of untruth. For to repeat: that which in politics and similar domains has its validity, sometimes wholly, sometimes in part, becomes untruth, when it is transferred to the intellectual, spiritual, and religious domains. And at the risk of a possibly exaggerated caution, I add just this: by "truth" I always understand "eternal truth." But politics and the like has nothing to do with "eternal truth." A politics, which in the real sense of "eternal truth" made a serious effort to bring "eternal truth" into real life, would in the same second show itself to be in the highest degree the most "impolitic" thing imaginable.
The crowd is untruth. And I could weep, in every case I can learn to long for the eternal, whenever I think about our age's misery, even compared with the ancient world's greatest misery, in that the daily press and anonymity make our age even more insane with help from "the public," which is really an abstraction, which makes a claim to be the court of last resort in relation to "the truth"; for assemblies which make this claim surely do not take place. That an anonymous person, with help from the press, day in and day out can speak however he pleases (even with respect to the intellectual, the ethical, the religious), things which he perhaps did not in the least have the courage to say personally in a particular situation; every time he opens up his gullet - one cannot call it a mouth - he can all at once address himself to thousands upon thousands; he can get ten thousand times ten thousand to repeat after him - and no one has to answer for it; in ancient times the relatively unrepentant crowd was the almighty, but now there is the absolutely unrepentant thing: No One, an anonymous person: the Author, an anonymous person: the Public, sometimes even anonymous subscribers, therefore: No One. No One! God in heaven, such states even call themselves Christian states. One cannot say that, again with the help of the press, "the truth" can overcome the lie and the error. O, you who say this, ask yourself: Do you dare to claim that human beings, in a crowd, are just as quick to reach for truth, which is not always palatable, as for untruth, which is always deliciously prepared, when in addition this must be combined with an admission that one has let oneself be deceived! Or do you dare to claim that "the truth" is just as quick to let itself be understood as is untruth, which requires no previous knowledge, no schooling, no discipline, no abstinence, no self-denial, no honest self-concern, no patient labor! No, "the truth," which detests this untruth, the only goal of which is to desire its increase, is not so quick on its feet. Firstly, it cannot work through the fantastical, which is the untruth; its communicator is only a single individual. And its communication relates itself once again to the single individual; for in this view of life the single individual is precisely the truth. The truth can neither be communicated nor be received without being as it were before the eyes of God, nor without God's help, nor without God being involved as the middle term, since he is the truth. It can therefore only be communicated by and received by "the single individual," which, for that matter, every single human being who lives could be: this is the determination of the truth in contrast to the abstract, the fantastical, impersonal, "the crowd" - "the public," which excludes God as the middle term (for the personal God cannot be the middle term in an impersonal relation), and also thereby the truth, for God is the truth and its middle term.
And to honor every individual human being, unconditionally every human being, that is the truth and fear of God and love of "the neighbor"; but ethico-religiously viewed, to recognize "the crowd" as the court of last resort in relation to "the truth," that is to deny God and cannot possibly be to love "the neighbor." And "the neighbor" is the absolutely true expression for human equality; if everyone in truth loved the neighbor as himself, then would perfect human equality be unconditionally attained; every one who in truth loves the neighbor, expresses unconditional human equality; every one who is really aware (even if he admits, like I, that his effort is weak and imperfect) that the task is to love the neighbor, he is also aware of what human equality is. But never have I read in the Holy Scriptures this command: You shall love the crowd; even less: You shall, ethico-religiously, recognize in the crowd the court of last resort in relation to "the truth." It is clear that to love the neighbor is self-denial, that to love the crowd or to act as if one loved it, to make it the court of last resort for "the truth," that is the way to truly gain power, the way to all sorts of temporal and worldly advantage - yet it is untruth; for the crowd is untruth.
But he who acknowledges this view, which is seldom presented (for it often happens, that a man believes that the crowd is in untruth, but when it, the crowd, merely accepts his opinion en masse, then everything is all right), he admits to himself that he is the weak and powerless one; how would a single individual be able to stand against the many, who have the power! And he could not then want to get the crowd on his side to carry through the view that the crowd, ethico-religiously, as the court of last resort, is untruth; that would be to mock himself. But although this view was from the first an admission of weakness and powerlessness, and since it seems therefore so uninviting, and is therefore heard so seldom: yet it has the good feature, that it is fair, that it offends no one, not a single one, that it does not distinguish between persons, not a single one. A crowd is indeed made up of single individuals; it must therefore be in everyone's power to become what he is, a single individual; no one is prevented from being a single individual, no one, unless he prevents himself by becoming many. To become a crowd, to gather a crowd around oneself, is on the contrary to distinguish life from life; even the most well-meaning one who talks about that, can easily offend a single individual. But it is the crowd which has power, influence, reputation, and domination - this is the distinction of life from life, which tyrannically overlooks the single individual as the weak and powerless one, in a temporal-worldly way overlooks the eternal truth: the single individual.
Note: The reader will recall, that this (the beginning of which is marked by the atmosphere of its moment, when I voluntarily exposed myself to the brutality of literary vulgarity) was originally written in 1846, although later revised and considerably enlarged. Existence, almighty as it is, has since that time shed light on the proposition that the crowd, seen ethico- religiously as the court of last resort, is untruth. Truly, I am well served by this; I am even helped by it to better understand myself, since I will now be understood in a completely different way than I was at the time, when my weak, lonely voice was heard as a ridiculous exaggeration, whereas it can now scarcely be heard at all on account of existence's loud voice, which says the same thing.