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Morality and relations

Added: Tuesday, January 12th 2021 at 4:28pm by tjdonegan


            Human relations - at-bottom - are moral relations; each (human) individual involved in any relation whatsoever is a moral being and therefore worthy of deference from other moral agents and obligated to give deference to others. In most instances, all parties involved in relations have only an intuitive grasp (at best) of what morality is, and how moral principles ought to circumscribe all relationships between rational beings (Note: moral beings = rational beings). Such circumscriptions regard what one is obligated to render to another (whether friend or foe, beloved or hated) merely because they are sovereign entities i.e., moral beings... Today, the teaching of morality is generally avoided by educators; ethicalclasses purported to teach ethics/morality (in the University) generally teach tacit moral relativism... Public schools teach "values-clarification," which allows the student to identify by what principles - if any - they will conduct their affairs, and judge what is acceptable and unacceptable; again, the student learns a form of relativism i.e., egoism. Now, because nearly nobody understands - nor cares to understand - what it is that they are due from others, and their obligations to others, relations are essentially organic, and therefore basically sentimental. Consequentially, conflicts and disputes - which the relation/encounter in dispute/conflict - are generally not ever resolved; instead, the unresolved conflict is either accommodated, or the relation is ended, at least until a common-ground may be reached (which may never be realized).


Generally, in personal disputes - particularly amongst family and friends - a disagreement often remains unsettled for a variety of reasons although the disputants may think that some resolution has taken place. How could it be that those involved in a brouhaha think the matter resolved, when such is not the case?


Now if one were to examine a personal disagreement (understanding principles of morality) one would likely find that the conflict/division rests with some injustice - imagined, or real - perpetrated by one or more of the parties involved. Such a division should easily be overcome, viz: acknowledge the injustice, apologize and promise to avoid repeating the infraction; seems to be an easy fix, but people generally relate emotionally, rather than intellectually, to others, thus most are not conscious of the obligated deference which others are due; such behavior attends to those ignorant of what is moral conduct. This ignorance of moral conduct and moral virtue also has played a role in divisive politics and in public dialogue (we mention this in passing, but moral virtue - or the lack thereof - is only one element among others; a topic for another blogpost...). Oneignorant of the moral injunction against casting aspersions is likely more inclined to do so, unless the individual - possessed of moral understanding - rejects the demands of moral comity.


Note that those self-possessed (ordered in moral-virtue) would – following Socrates dictum: “It is a greater evil to perpetrate an injustice, than to suffer an injustice” – seek to make right what was made wrong; whether they perpetrated or suffered the injustice; the desire to resolve a conflict and to right an injustice is a corollary act for the virtuous, irrespective of being familiar with Socrates assertion, or not. One suffering an injustice is still obliged to seek redress from the perpetrator of the injustice, for moral concord and for the perpetrator’s edification; one must assume that the perpetrator of the injustice, has not knowingly (one must afford them the benefit of the doubt) performed such actions. This - in part - is why Christ says in Matthew 18:15 "If your brother sins [against you], go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listensto you, you have won over your brother." And one is obliged to correct the sinner, as Christ says. Now the individual may reject the correction, and if they do, Jesus says in Matthew 18:16: "If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses." But Jesus Christ goes further still, because he is directing followers how to bring others into moral agreement (whether as individuals or as Church, or society); in Mathew 18:17, Christ say: "If he refuses to listen to them (the 2 or 3 others), tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector i.e., shun them, avoid the! Avoidance until such time they seek to be reconciled, which would mean: "to be accepting of their moral transgression." Matthew 18: 15-17 is the basis of the Catholic Church's excommunicating a sinner, the excommunication is an act of love/charity; its aim is to bringthe sinner in accord with Will of God, as exemplified by Church teaching. Note: Church teaching should never be confused with Church members - to include clergy, Pope included - for every last person professing Jesus Christ is a sinner i.e., seek their own will rather than the Father's Will i.e., are disobedient to God. Excommunication is a loving attempt to sober the sinner, and that sobering is through being cut off from the sacraments...


Now because human interactions are moral interactions, and moral beings are rational beings, rational beings may come to agreement by establishing a moral common ground e.g., the dialectical method employed by Socrates in the Platonic dialogues. Such a discussion would establish the basis of agreement by considering those things both presupposed by morality, and rational/moral beings, but also things which attend to such beings because they are such beings. If an individual – or group – should opt to avoid resolution of disputes/injustices via such methods, one must infer it is because they do not seek to be just/moral (consciously or otherwise), but instead seek aggrandizement, or their interest as it is understood.


Such people and/or groups do not wish to entertain the possibility that they may be mistaken in their understanding and enter dialogue because they agree with the Socratic dictum states above and here: “It is a greater evil to perpetrate an injustice, than to suffer an injustice.” Such people should be admonished (rebuked) by those possessed of moral understanding; and such is their obligation because they possess such wisdom… The response which most admonishments will garner will likely be some degree of agitation and/or hostility even violence from the party perpetrating the injustice.… Only the morally virtuous seek edification! Note: Many a Catholic, and many others of other Christian denominations, will profess Jesus Christ - out one side of their mouth - but will not countenance the possibility that their feelings - about a relationship, orincident/happenstance-may be in discord with the moral law, thus they - as Christians -are as closed to the truth and moral rectitude, if not more so, than their pagan brethren. Those who seek truth avoid characterizing the motives of those with which they disagree, and consider misunderstanding may separate themselves with those with which they have strife, so again they would seek dialogue...



Now although humans generally operate on the emotional level, operating on that level does not negate the fact that humans are predominantly cognitive beings who intuit, as moral beings – on some level – an affront to their dignity. Occasionally, the intuition is wrong, and the offended party is actually the perpetrator of an injustice. Now if an injustice - real or imagined - has been perpetrated the basis for resolving the dispute, again lies in establishing a moral common-ground; justice is a moral principle, and morality is just as cut-and-dry as mathematics. Let us repeat that, the demands of moral conduct are as cut-and-dry as mathematics!


            It is funny/odd that most disputes regarding numbers, are cleared up by a demonstration! Nearly everybody acquiesces to the claim that one may demonstrate a mathematical error, or an error in reasoning regarding mathematics, but few patiently allow a demonstration of a moral transgression or of injustice to be articulated, or demonstrated without interruption or without challenge… One may think that because people have the rudimentary grasp of elementary arithmetic, and because nearly everybody has a firm grasp upon the concept of the well-ordering principle (even if such grasp is unconscious and intuitive), sets and basic mathematical operations (counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division). And thatmathematics lends itself to proofs regarding its claims, and that because its arguments are predicated upon an axiomatic underpinning, because its relations are logical; thus, people acquiesce because they view mathematics as objective i.e., rendering judgments independent of one’s desire, or of one's wish! But that is just like morality!


            Moral codes – which, actually are, moral codes - are universally binding, and like mathematics are not subject to the subjective sentimental desires, but most humans seem to find a means of exempting their conduct or desired actions from moral rubric… Oddly, humans seek their good – as they understand it – before they seek truth? This seems to be the case - as a matter of common practice - irrespective of whether theist, atheist or social-political Left or Right, most people do not want to involve themselves in dialectical discussions regarding their relations – when in conflict – instead, it seems that most people, are inclined to conflate and convolute such matters, particularly – it seems - if an individual has an intuitivesense that perhaps their position is tenuous, at best…? Such people – in our experience – opt for an apology (defense) by personally attacking those who may have been abused…… Odd!? Particularly, odd if they profess Jesus Christ!?!


Well, not really odd, but rather something that should be expected of a people in a culture which almost universally denies objective moral principles, and purveys things sentimental and moral debauchery as “goodness” (among sundry reasons, such creates new economic markets i.e., people and lifestyles to develop and exploit; we do not argue conspiracy, we argue people are possessed of an intuitive financial self-interest); moral debauchery - at bottom – attends egoism, and a culture which promotes egoism, promotes buying and selling, everything. And at the end of the day, this is just another way of viewing the culture-of-death.


Thomas J. Donegan


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