“Right” is a nebulous concept. People will always try to do what’s right, whether it’s “morally right” (putting money in the collection plate at church) or “right for them” (taking money out of the collection plate at church). Often, people will purposefully try to confuse the two, justifying what is actually “right for them” by saying that it is morally justifiable.
This is the pattern seen through history.
I posit that “right”, “wrong”, “good”, and “bad” are subjective terms. You know what is “right”, you know what is “good”. Sometimes what is “good” (buttsecks) is not “right” (with your hot sister - unless your culture supports buttsecks with your hot sister, in which case that’s good for you).
But if that is true, all this talk about good, bad, right, and wrong is less important than what is, what will be, and how to convince people of one’s personal worldview.
It’s been mentioned that societies of necessity enforce a certain system of ethics, but I disagree with the idea that there is a TRUE ethical system. In fact, enforcement of these so-called “ethics” is limited, as violation requires not only detection, but verification (testimony in court possibly), successful prosecution, and real consequences. How does it matter if it is “against the law” if the crime cannot be detected, or if there is no deterrent? When a poor man commits a crime for bread, the punishments are inevitably harsher than when those in power commit far worse crimes to retain, maintain, and increase their power. Is this ETHICALLY correct? No, not as we are led to understand ethics, but it is clearly and inevitably the case.
Should some abstract “ethic” or “morality” be the foundation of law? I say the question of SHOULD is irrelevant; ethics and morality ARE NOT the foundation of law, HAVE NOT been the foundation of law, and WILL NOT be the foundation of law. Those in power will do what they can do to make laws to benefit themselves. Naturally, those laws will tend to concentrate more power and influence in those few persons’ hands. The feudal system was not simply the progenitor of the republic, it is the republic’s and democracy’s heir.
Certainly, there is SOME nod to “ethics” in the law; the masses of society have enough control over the process that some true justice is maintained. But corruption and concentration of power are also natural consequences of the law, and the longer any system is in place, the more the power will concentrate in the hands of the few.
But the concentration of power in the hands of the few is not what I really consider to be ethically or morally wrong, although I think many would call it so. It is the natural consequence of individuals creating a society. Can the rabbit be called evil for eating the carrot, or the wolf called evil for eating the rabbit? In the same way, it is natural for humans to try to profit at the expense of other humans
Arguments over what is right, wrong, good, or bad, are in my mind both unnecessary and ultimately futile. The real question is - understanding what is natural to the human state, how can the perception of what is natural be altered in a human, or more appropriately, a group of humans?
What I have written has been shocking enough, but i will go a step further and say that I piss on Locke, on Kant, on Thoreau, Confucious, Mencius, Buddha, and even Jesus. Were each of those worthy of respect, study, and emulation? Certainly. But most societies and moral/ethical systems, as I have said, attempt to destroy the individual. An individual must understand and respect his or own
ability, and understand that it is possible that everyone else could be wrong. Is it not possible that the very ethical and moral systems that we currently uphold are simply a reflection of the heliocentric astronomical model?
It would be wrong for me to stop there, though, and imply that I think it is wise to simply dismiss those that societies consider important. In truth, their very status and success is something that is properly studied and emulated. But as I said before, and state again, societies attack the validity of the individual. That is the nature of the societal beast. The lesson to be learned here is not one of respect for society; that lesson has already been learned by any member of any society.
Any individual will have a basic understanding of his or her own self-nature, by virtue of being an individual. But I think few individuals understand their self-nature in such a way that allows them to apply their knowledge to convincing others of what IS or IS NOT “good”, “bad”, “right”, or “wrong”.
Is what I have written besides the point? I think it is the point.
If you have a society of peaceful people that respects and loves their fellow man, and a society of warlike people that has tanks and guns and warplanes, in a short time, it will be as if the flower-eaters had never been. Indeed, I think it entirely possible that has been the fate of morally beautiful civilizations through time.
We are the heirs of those whose arms were drenched in blood. Those that tell you that there is a some moral imperative, divorced from reality, that must be adhered to are fools, dreamers, or schemers that either have not heeded the lessons of history, or that hope others will not.
To be of any real value, a morality must survive. To survive, it must be practical. To be practical, it must take into account individual nature. To take into individual nature is to take into account the selfish desires of each individual. So morality requires understanding of the self, the self in relation to society, society, and an understanding of how certain individuals and societies prosper while others perish.
But isn’t this besides the point, again? For me to say that morality must have a basis in practicality, isn’t that completely against the point of morality to begin with?
I would say again - that is exactly the point. Morality MUST be practical. Who treasures what is broken, what is useless, what is defective? So must it be with morality. To adopt an impractical morality is to practice destruction of the self, destruction of society, or both.