coromandal


the problem of the docks
May 24, 2020, 10:51 am
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , , , ,

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We know morality comes from God and is passed through priests who write codes to which we become devotees. It’s essence is pure as it stems from a pure God and is passed through pure priests who make pure codes.

But there is another morality origin story. Merchants hire police and make self serving laws to protect their property on docks around the world. The laws are presented as moral even though their ultimate motive is self serving and maybe even impure. To know morality it may be better see where power lies than where God is.

Unfortunately, when we teach morality, when we study the history of morals, we always analyze the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and do not read [Colquhoun], this character who is fundamental for our morality. The inventor of the English police, this Glasgow merchant … settles in London where, in 1792, shipping companies ask him to solve the problem of the superintendence of the docks and the protection of bourgeois wealth. [This is a] basic problem …; to understand a society’s system of morality we have to ask the question: Where is the wealth? The history of morality should be organized entirely by this question of the location and movement of wealth.

Michel Foucault



reduction
May 1, 2020, 4:49 pm
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In cooking reduction is a good thing: onion, celery, carrot, wine simmered to make a very complex and rich sauce. It can also be good to shed all the trappings and bling that have been piling up and encrusting our houses and apartments. Our arteries will thank us when we eat well and exercise. Reduction even to base material needs can be a good and even enriching thing.

In the same way, in the world of business, efficiency is necessary for good profits. However, unlike cooking, home economics and biology in which in which we achieve tasty, orderly, and healthy results, economic reduction through efficiency is often decidedly bad for the body politic. It removes qualities essential to life like spirituality, politics, and morality.

Havel warns that our straw man homo economicus has cut too deeply and that we must reclaim a meaningful relation to the divine and society, and to a shared sense of right and wrong.

In the interest of the smooth management of society, then, society’s attention is deliberately diverted from itself, that is, from social concerns. By nailing a man’s whole attention to the floor of his mere consumer interests, it is hoped to render him incapable of appreciating the ever increasing degree of his spiritual, political and moral degradation.

Vaclav Havel



no such thing as a moral fact
July 26, 2015, 2:21 pm
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If children are taught from a very early age, as apparently many are, that facts are tested and proven and opinions are feelings or beliefs, then they don’t learn that morals – not tested, nor proven – are not just feelings, that morals can be facts. That it’s not ok to kill someone or discriminate is not proved, is not an opinion, is a moral fact. I can imagine living with one or two people who believe this – they can be contradicted and quelled – but a generation? Please no.

Justin McBrayer on morals:

When I went to visit my son’s second grade open house, I found a troubling pair of signs hanging over the bulletin board. They read:

Fact: Something that is true about a subject and can be tested or proven.

Opinion: What someone thinks, feels, or believes.

[…]

In summary, our public schools teach students that all claims are either facts or opinions and that all value and moral claims fall into the latter camp. The punchline: there are no moral facts. And if there are no moral facts, then there are no moral truths.

The inconsistency in this curriculum is obvious. For example, at the outset of the school year, my son brought home a list of student rights and responsibilities. Had he already read the lesson on fact vs. opinion, he might have noted that the supposed rights of other students were based on no more than opinions. According to the school’s curriculum, it certainly wasn’t true that his classmates deserved to be treated a particular way — that would make it a fact. Similarly, it wasn’t really true that he had any responsibilities — that would be to make a value claim a truth. It should not be a surprise that there is rampant cheating on college campuses: If we’ve taught our students for 12 years that there is no fact of the matter as to whether cheating is wrong, we can’t very well blame them for doing so later on.

[…]

We can do better. Our children deserve a consistent intellectual foundation. Facts are things that are true. Opinions are things we believe. Some of our beliefs are true. Others are not. Some of our beliefs are backed by evidence. Others are not. Value claims are like any other claims: either true or false, evidenced or not. The hard work lies not in recognizing that at least some moral claims are true but in carefully thinking through our evidence for which of the many competing moral claims is correct. That’s a hard thing to do. But we can’t sidestep the responsibilities that come with being human just because it’s hard.

That would be wrong.

The Stone Why Our Children Don’t Think There Are Moral Facts, Justin P. McBrayer



having roots in the order of being
December 12, 2013, 2:09 pm
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There is a difference – a big one – between people living alienated in a cold modern world and people living alienated in a cold modern world whose radical systems are actively working to deepen the alienation.

The profound crisis of human identity brought on by living within a lie, a crisis which in turn makes such a life possible, certainly possesses a moral dimension as well; it appears, among other things, as a deep moral crisis in society. A person who has been seduced by the consumer value system …. and who has no roots in the order of being, no sense of responsibility for anything higher than his own personal survival, is a demoralized person. The system depends on this demoralization, deepens it, is in fact a projection of it into society.

-Václav Havel ”The Power of the Powerless

from Notes from Dystopia blog