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Author Topic: Musings On Morality, From A Demon No Less {Will be updated}  (Read 1484 times)

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Offline BraiochTopic starter

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{{Note: I will be updating this blog with the newest thoughts I have based on morality using this thread instead of just constantly posting a new thread each time. More efficient and less space consuming that way.

I find myself thinking again of evil, which in these times, in the way we (most anyways) have been raised, inevitably leads to thoughts of the Devil and his eternal servants, demons. Time and time again, throughout all of recorded history, man has pondered good and evil. Each has come up with their own decisions on it's traits, effects, origins, etc. In the end though, no one man's answers have completely satisfied another and I suspect never completely themselves either.

Though some things are agreed upon, such as the fact that certain things such as personality traits, actions, thoughts, etc are inherently good or evil, the difference being in that each view remain different from others of which count for which side. Though some may disagree that morality is relative, history shows us otherwise. For the most part, morality of any given place is dictated by the culture, by it's origins and prominent leaderships. In one culture one thing may be abhorred and abominable, while in another culture in a different time and a separate physical location it may not only allow it but condone and foster it as well. This thought brings into question of how we as a freethinking and logical minded people can without a doubt claim to know what is right and what is wrong. Such things as theft and murder seem quite assuredly things that are morally wrong, thus evil. Yet what about the woman who steals or robs a store to feed her children? Or perhaps the man who kills to save himself, or loved ones, and perhaps even in a renegade sense of justice over a slain loved one? Though their actions by themselves are wrong, the motive behind them is not always on the same wavelength so to speak.

Which brings me to the next thought, on does an evil act, excluding motives, reason and justifications make a person evil? For that matter, does a personality trait one views as an evil one make a man evil? Then again that moves into the realms of what personality traits and views are evil. Again this is relative, as one who holds a view of sole self-reliance, aiding only themselves and those select few that they deem having earned that respect and trust, may be viewed as selfish, egotistical and wrong, yet to others it seems to be a practical and common sense based way to live one's life. Even if one views another as bad, immoral, and evil, can they say it in the face of contradicting circumstances? Can you call a man who had done you wrong for much of your life (cheated you, lied to you, etc) evil still after you find something of a different nature out about him? For instance, say you find out that other than his activities that have wronged you, that he devotes his time to saving and rescuing neglected and abused children, sometimes at the risk of his health and even his life. Would you still be able to claim that he was an evil man?

I don't believe it would be so simple.

Morality I've found, is not as simple in this day and age as it may have seemed to have been a century and more ago when the Abrahamic God and his book dictated a majority of the rulings of morality. No we find ourselves in an age similar to the Roman period, where morality was dictated not by the the temperamental mixture of zealotry and blind pious faith, but by reason, logic and a practical mindset. In this day, superstition has given way to science, fear of the unknown has become a curiosity, our minds are becoming less bound by tradition and becoming more honed and sharp with knowledge and intellect. True that faith and religion still reigns and that it still can be found influencing the world and it's politics. In the end though, even a large portion of these pious folks do not base their morality on piety, faith and old testament laws as much anymore. Morality is no longer in the hands of the elite members of state, church and intellect. Every day that passes it becomes more and more spread into the hands of the common people, the once exclusive hold over morality and how it functions has now been spread to the people.

This movement, this shift isn't without it's hazards, as rarely does anything escape that fact. For how does a a body of so many people really find what is right compared to what is wrong? Do we focus upon the act itself, or perhaps the motive that drove them to the act? Do we punish the wrongdoer without mercy or compassion, or do we administer a treatment to fix the root of the problem if one can be found? With any of those, are there to be exceptions or even a middle ground at all?

I myself have found that I am beyond the point of blaming outside forces and worldly beings on my and others ills and prosperity. When I speak of karma, I do not mean the force in the universe meant to dole out punishments and rewards, but the inevitable conclusion to a lifestyle. A foolish cheat will end up cheating themselves, or even be cheated by someone who is far better at their game than they are. As much as a person who is too trusting will inevitably trust the wrong person. I also do not believe in evil personified in an ethereal entity, for I've come to realize that the greatest of cruelties, horrors and evils are born and bred not in another realm through the means of a devil or demon but in man's hearts. I do not believe in a force of ultimate good either, perhaps a higher being does exist, but to watch and maybe even judge, but I doubt it cares very little for our worldly affairs. No I pride myself, almost arrogantly, on being firmly placed in reality with just a dash of my mind left open to try to interpret that which I cannot rationally explain immediately. I do my best to find morality through the practical mind I was imbued with from birth and my raising. This isn't to say that I have the universal answers for the right and wrong or that I believe that I do, only that I am gradually finding the set that works for me.

In the end our only hope (in my not so humble opinion) is that everyone needs to maintain that logical and practical state of mind. That old and blinding pious superstition keeps our vision dim and our senses dull, that we will be unable to really evolve intellectually and emotionally not only as a culture and a people, but as a species. Without the conscious thought that we put behind morality and it's consequences, we are nothing more than animals. With the right time and should our present minds continue to grow and expand through the paths of logic and practical mindedness, without being once again veered into the dark, perhaps we can find a universal morality based from the mind, that can help this world grow, and become what we've always hoped it would one day become.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2010, 07:11:20 AM by Braioch »

Offline grdell

Re: Musings On Morality, From A Demon No Less
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2010, 03:20:25 PM »
Thank you! I agree 100%. I have always maintained that critical thinking is the most important and meaningful way to discover one's own moral compass. I have met with significant resistance to this idea, but I have always held firm in my belief that morality is fluid and conditional. It's nice to see that someone else thinks this way, too.

Offline Pixilicious

Re: Musings On Morality, From A Demon No Less
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2010, 11:04:04 PM »
Very thought provoking read, sweetness!  I agree that evil is subjective, depending on your circumstance, and what can be evil for someone might as well be necessary for another person.  I also agree with Grdell in that it IS conditional.  It only has the ability to be right in certain situations, but wrong and acceptable in others.  What standards do we set for morality?  Should we even set standards for what's moral to begin with?

Offline BraiochTopic starter

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Re: Musings On Morality, From A Demon No Less {Will be updated}
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2010, 07:20:52 AM »
So recently I have found myself tracing to my gaming roots and started playing a game for the original X-box game, Jade Empire. Now I've played this game several times...and yes I mean several times (cue shifting glance and slight laugh) as I do enjoy the game very much. There are several reasons I enjoy the game, some of those being that of the dialogue, (it can get quite amusing) the open way you are allowed to play the game, main and side quests, the side characters, as well as other things. The main thing I enjoy though is the 'alignment' system within the game. Like other games like the Knights of the Old Republic games, and the Fable series as well, the actions you choose for your character, as well as dialog options you deign to choose affect which part of the alignment your character slides into. You can play the middle ground if you wish, but like in the aforementioned games, not choosing one extreme or the other makes it so that you miss out on certain choices, abilities and such. So a good part of the fun of the games is playing through one way and then going back after completing it and completing it in the opposite fashion.

What sets Jade Empire apart from the others is that the alignment isn't based off of strictly a good and evil morality scale, or a pure and corrupt (Fable 2) scale. It's more like the actions and the path chosen defines the action and the individual in relation to the harmony (or lack thereof) with the world, society, and even oneself. The two paths being Open Palm and Closed Fist, and I'm sure from the names of them you can get a pretty good idea of what they mean, and which one does what, but I still feel like breaking it down a bit.

Open Palm, or sometimes referred to as 'The High Path' is often times mistakenly wrote off as being 'good.' It is more a path of Harmony, harmony with yourself, with the people around you, and your station in life, always making sure to consider the whole over oneself before acting. This often times can lead to sacrificing oneself for the good of the greater whole of things. It is a path that yields little profit or gain for the one who follows it, but those around the follower will often times find themselves benefiting greatly from the acts of the follower. A follower of OP will help anyone at the drop of a hat, even at the risk of their own safety (which is a great hazard of the zealous OP followers, the teachings of OP warn against needless self-sacrificing as a caution) making sure that others are safe and happy. These followers know believe in the power of a community, that all are made strong when the wheels of the machine all move together in harmony and aid the others. If they are stronger than those around them, then it is their duty, a moral duty in their eyes, to be the aid in whatever is necessary.

It's counterpart is the path of the Closed Fist, often called 'The Low Path,' it is mistaken as being 'evil.' It is more a discord with one's station, never content with one's place in the world, followers of CF are always reaching for more than they should have. To do this, the Way teaches that power is the end desire, and strength is needed to reach it, as such, strength is the ultimate tool and to be the most respected. The weak hold to their station and deserve their place, as only those willing to reach far deserve to have power. Followers of CF will do anything to obtain their heart's desires, even if it means harming those that they care about if they are objects in the path to power. Again they are not 'evil' as an evil man will not help someone because they do not care (which is a disconnection from the world), a follower of CF will not help someone because they would feel that person needs to help themselves, prove that they are stronger, though they might help the person if the odds were quite unfair, or perhaps even to get something from it. There is thought and meaning behind their actions. Though it can become twisted and the Way teaches to ward against pointless cruelties.

A prime example of the difference between the two paths comes from the game itself. At one point when coming into a struggling little town, you come across a mother and her almost completely grown daughter, who have a quick conversation with you and then hastily leave the town. Later when you end up at a pirate's fortress (yes, pirates) you find the mother, who begs that you find her daughter who was taken up to the slavers to be broken and then sold to the highest bidder. Eventually you do come across the young woman just as she is about to be broken (mentally, or at least it eludes to that) by a slaver, or sold to a fat and rich nobleman nearby. Now the woman notices you and yells for your help, alerting the slaver and his cohorts of your presence and they attack, you beat them to a pulp, and then the choice comes. Of course a follower of Open Palm at this point would of course refuse to allow the woman to go into slavery, even if the Noble was promised a slave, so either you refuse point blank or perhaps even compensate him a bit for the loss. With Closed Fist however, you can be a real dick and sell the young woman yourself and make a tidy profit, thus attaining your own end, or you could do what I chose to do (which I did quite frequently whenever I could) and chose the option that would teach another person. I handed the young woman a blade and told her she needed to earn her freedom, to kill the Noble, she of course refused and I told her that if she wasn't strong enough to fight for her freedom, she deserved to be a slave. This was motivating to her and she proceeded to 'stab the fat man' and thus earning her freedom, this changed her a bit and it was pretty obvious that she was going to learn how to use a blade and be unafraid to turn it on another threat again down the road, thus the lesson I imparted made her more self-sufficient and I kind of pitied the next fools who tried to kidnap her and her mother again.

I haven't given the Paths (Ways) all the justice that they deserve (as I find them endlessly fascinating) but it really takes reading from internet sources, and even playing the game, though taking a couple quizilla quizzes could help as well. (Side-note: Anyone who really does do all of that research, or has played the games and wants to discuss it with me, for the love of a deity or whatever, PM me) Though I have managed to get the basic idea out there, as well as hopefully manage to get whoever may be reading this to get a good understanding of it as well.

Now myself personally, I in the real world do (if I were to apply it that is) follow along the path of CF, though not completely, I am in the middle of the two, though I take more from that than that of OP. I find giving up your own things for the sake of the whole to be a bit wasteful of your own energy and such, and I'm not always the kindest and most giving person either, I won't bother to lie about that fact. I know others who I could place into one extreme or the other, and those that I could place somewhere along the gray area in the middle. Incidentally those that I place in the OP category, or even those in the gray that are closer to OP, are a bit off put by me, and I by them, then again I can be quite put off by those that I deem in the extreme of being CF. I personally don't like extremes all that well, as I believe in a good balance, or at least trying to maintain a balance of things, even though I will openly admit to not being completely balanced as I swing from being in the middle to being more CF. (insert snort and possibly a snicker)

Now my point being (I know, I kinda have one, weird huh?) is that really, taking this system, you could place this upon a lot of people in the world. Those that don't really follow one path or the other, or could really fit in the system can be wrote off as the apathetic and lethargic people who aren't connected with the world for the most part. (Bare in mind that this is my experience, not to be taken as me making it like it's definite.) People who actually feel connected to the world and want to make a difference in it, in their life or others, fall somewhere along the line.

Honestly it's a fun little thought, and interesting to me along the way.

So I present this little bit to you, whoever may be reading this.

-What do YOU think of this school of thought?
-Do you think it has real world applications?
-Now on a scale of 0-6, 0 being completely Open Palm and 6 being Closed Fist, (yeah, yeah, Kinsey eat your heart out XP) where would you place yourself? Whole numbers only ::)
-Now, why would you give yourself that number?

Now I've already admitted to being fascinated with the school of thought, and that it has real world applications to me, and even why I would give myself the number, but yet I didn't give the number. XP

That number being a 5 since I said use whole numbers, so I rounded up :P

Anyways, tell me what you think.

Further Information

Game Information-Gives a loose overview of the game itself and covers the philosophies as well a bit.
Open Palm Information-Pretty self-explanatory title ::)
Closed Fist Information-'Nuf said

Offline EmptyEternity

Re: Musings On Morality, From A Demon No Less {Will be updated}
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2010, 09:34:03 AM »
{{Note: I will be updating this blog with the newest thoughts I have based on morality using this thread instead of just constantly posting a new thread each time. More efficient and less space consuming that way.

I find myself thinking again of evil, which in these times, in the way we (most anyways) have been raised, inevitably leads to thoughts of the Devil and his eternal servants, demons. Time and time again, throughout all of recorded history, man has pondered good and evil. Each has come up with their own decisions on it's traits, effects, origins, etc. In the end though, no one man's answers have completely satisfied another and I suspect never completely themselves either.

Though some things are agreed upon, such as the fact that certain things such as personality traits, actions, thoughts, etc are inherently good or evil, the difference being in that each view remain different from others of which count for which side. Though some may disagree that morality is relative, history shows us otherwise. For the most part, morality of any given place is dictated by the culture, by it's origins and prominent leaderships. In one culture one thing may be abhorred and abominable, while in another culture in a different time and a separate physical location it may not only allow it but condone and foster it as well. This thought brings into question of how we as a freethinking and logical minded people can without a doubt claim to know what is right and what is wrong. Such things as theft and murder seem quite assuredly things that are morally wrong, thus evil. Yet what about the woman who steals or robs a store to feed her children? Or perhaps the man who kills to save himself, or loved ones, and perhaps even in a renegade sense of justice over a slain loved one? Though their actions by themselves are wrong, the motive behind them is not always on the same wavelength so to speak.

Which brings me to the next thought, on does an evil act, excluding motives, reason and justifications make a person evil? For that matter, does a personality trait one views as an evil one make a man evil? Then again that moves into the realms of what personality traits and views are evil. Again this is relative, as one who holds a view of sole self-reliance, aiding only themselves and those select few that they deem having earned that respect and trust, may be viewed as selfish, egotistical and wrong, yet to others it seems to be a practical and common sense based way to live one's life. Even if one views another as bad, immoral, and evil, can they say it in the face of contradicting circumstances? Can you call a man who had done you wrong for much of your life (cheated you, lied to you, etc) evil still after you find something of a different nature out about him? For instance, say you find out that other than his activities that have wronged you, that he devotes his time to saving and rescuing neglected and abused children, sometimes at the risk of his health and even his life. Would you still be able to claim that he was an evil man?

I don't believe it would be so simple.

Morality I've found, is not as simple in this day and age as it may have seemed to have been a century and more ago when the Abrahamic God and his book dictated a majority of the rulings of morality. No we find ourselves in an age similar to the Roman period, where morality was dictated not by the the temperamental mixture of zealotry and blind pious faith, but by reason, logic and a practical mindset. In this day, superstition has given way to science, fear of the unknown has become a curiosity, our minds are becoming less bound by tradition and becoming more honed and sharp with knowledge and intellect. True that faith and religion still reigns and that it still can be found influencing the world and it's politics. In the end though, even a large portion of these pious folks do not base their morality on piety, faith and old testament laws as much anymore. Morality is no longer in the hands of the elite members of state, church and intellect. Every day that passes it becomes more and more spread into the hands of the common people, the once exclusive hold over morality and how it functions has now been spread to the people.

This movement, this shift isn't without it's hazards, as rarely does anything escape that fact. For how does a a body of so many people really find what is right compared to what is wrong? Do we focus upon the act itself, or perhaps the motive that drove them to the act? Do we punish the wrongdoer without mercy or compassion, or do we administer a treatment to fix the root of the problem if one can be found? With any of those, are there to be exceptions or even a middle ground at all?

I myself have found that I am beyond the point of blaming outside forces and worldly beings on my and others ills and prosperity. When I speak of karma, I do not mean the force in the universe meant to dole out punishments and rewards, but the inevitable conclusion to a lifestyle. A foolish cheat will end up cheating themselves, or even be cheated by someone who is far better at their game than they are. As much as a person who is too trusting will inevitably trust the wrong person. I also do not believe in evil personified in an ethereal entity, for I've come to realize that the greatest of cruelties, horrors and evils are born and bred not in another realm through the means of a devil or demon but in man's hearts. I do not believe in a force of ultimate good either, perhaps a higher being does exist, but to watch and maybe even judge, but I doubt it cares very little for our worldly affairs. No I pride myself, almost arrogantly, on being firmly placed in reality with just a dash of my mind left open to try to interpret that which I cannot rationally explain immediately. I do my best to find morality through the practical mind I was imbued with from birth and my raising. This isn't to say that I have the universal answers for the right and wrong or that I believe that I do, only that I am gradually finding the set that works for me.

In the end our only hope (in my not so humble opinion) is that everyone needs to maintain that logical and practical state of mind. That old and blinding pious superstition keeps our vision dim and our senses dull, that we will be unable to really evolve intellectually and emotionally not only as a culture and a people, but as a species. Without the conscious thought that we put behind morality and it's consequences, we are nothing more than animals. With the right time and should our present minds continue to grow and expand through the paths of logic and practical mindedness, without being once again veered into the dark, perhaps we can find a universal morality based from the mind, that can help this world grow, and become what we've always hoped it would one day become.

My primary problem with your argument is that you operate under the assumption that morality is defined by culture. I do not believe this is an accurate assessment. 'Morality', in the way you use the word seems to indicate virtue, and virtue according to Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics is an extension of truth. You say that the mandates of morality now lie in the hands of those who hold power, but all the power in the world cannot change truth, and truth is not something mankind dictates but discovers.

Offline BraiochTopic starter

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Re: Musings On Morality, From A Demon No Less {Will be updated}
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2010, 09:51:59 AM »
My primary problem with your argument is that you operate under the assumption that morality is defined by culture.

You will find that that is actually very true. Morality has been defined in it's entirety by the mores, laws, and such of the people in a set location. Morality has always been dictated by tradition of those that came before, at times (though in modern times and other times in history, it was more radical) undergoing changes. The morals of this country are going to be a lot different in many areas than those that you will find in say a random African village that knows nothing of the Christian bible and technology or even of the one's in say a highly developed country like Japan.

Quote
You say that the mandates of morality now lie in the hands of those who hold power

Ahh no, I said that they once laid in the hands of those in power, it has been trickling down away from just that position.

Quote
but all the power in the world cannot change truth, and truth is not something mankind dictates but discovers.

I cannot agree more with this. That still does not change the fact that there is a difference between what is true and what is believed. Morality as a whole now is not what it could/should be, and that is because the truth has yet to be discovered.

{Any incoherency on my part I apologize for, as my brain is a bit addled at the moment :/}