Where does morality come from? What is justice? And how is it derived? These are the subjects we will pursue in this essay.
In the essay "On Perception, Existence and Symbolization" we mentioned how in the individual Ego’s reality there were certain behaviors which we defined as: patterns of change that are tied to specific existents. In the case of perceiving existents, these behaviors always exhibit an end or purpose because they are initiated by the will. We also said that the Id-Ego through the agency of the GOOD creates an intuitive tendency in the perceiving will to guide it according to the Id-Ego’s rational purpose for mankind. The concept of morality is a relation with respect to the free will of man. Man implements his will through purposeful behaviors that in turn affect the wills of other perceivers. Absolute morality (morality as taken relative to the Divine Will) is the concept of adjusting the purpose of the will so that its behavior is in line with the Golden rule set out in the intuitive promptings of the GOOD. But morality can also be defined (because man has free will) relative to the individual’s own standards from the conscience, bypassing the GOOD, or relative to his society’s standards as a societal morality (these we will call relative moralities). So a general definition of morality might be: the adjustment of the individual will’s purpose so that its behavior is in accord with certain arbitrary standards of behavior that the GOOD, the individual or society takes as the norm. It is up to the individual human will to decide which morality he would follow in his own behavior. Because man has free will there is also the possibility that man could reject all morality and follow a purpose solely guided by the dictates of the laws of nature in the mortal world, in other words, the instincts of the cumulative survival instinct, with a purpose that follows only material benefit or survival (we will call this amorality). What we have mapped out here would lead to a moral spectrum in which absolute morality would exist at one extreme pole, while amorality would exist at the other extreme pole, with the bulk of mankind probably following one of the relative moralities somewhere in the middle.
Human beings in the course of a life embedded within a reality shaped by causality, individual purpose and the arbitrariness of fate, sooner or later come to question the purpose of life itself. But in questioning this purpose, he must also see that this purpose is not unconnected to the purposes of the other perceivers around him – his society. No man is an island, he lives and works not only in competition with but also in cooperation with his fellows. Thus the concept of justice is seen as a modifier of the general rule of morality by which man can live a moral life that is at the same time compatible with the lives of his fellows. Thus justice is a type of equitable (or fair) 1 morality that allows man to live in harmony with others. Here we see that it is identical to the absolute morality we have mentioned.
Having seen that man’s concept of justice is this absolute morality that his own intuition drives him toward, and that it is also nothing more than the very same principle that allows him to build a society, the question immediately arises: Why has society not achieved this very same societal morality?
But in a way we have already answered this question by showing that man’s free will allows him to choose a relative morality or amorality, which is a result of the influence of the survival instinct. Plato long ago tried to find a solution to this same question in his Utopia called the “Republic”.
But what every philosopher until Marx seemed to have forgotten was the very crucial impact of the economy not only on the individual but on his society as well. The methods of the production and the distribution of the necessities of life create causal chains that impact both the survival and all other aspects of the lives of all in society.
We may look on society, and by that term I mean a nation of citizens who share government, culture, life style and outlook, as a closed system that has for its survival resources the labor of all of its citizens. We must assume that there is a purpose for the creation of a society, and that that purpose, is evident to all as being the survival benefit it provides for all. The only way this benefit can be utilized is through an equitable production and distribution of the resources to the society. If we utilize a system that is inequitable in both production and distribution, such as the system that has always been present, then we see that we will experience hardship at one end and glut at the other haphazardly. Government was created to somewhat offset this by balancing this imbalance through taxes and social services. But, remember, we can only cope with this through keeping this system a closed one. This is a crucial condition because the introduction of outside influences in production and distribution leads to the unpredictable, and the possibility of unrecoverable fluctuations in the system.
Keeping in mind that the purpose of society was the benefit that it provides to all, and that only through the diversity and cooperation of all citizens in providing their labor, both menial and skilled in the proper proportions, can this benefit be realized, we see that the valuation placed on labor, making certain labor more valuable than other labor in varying degrees, is an artificial division which runs contrary to the very purpose of society, and is a way of allowing certain special interests to prosper over the general interests of society. If we look at the past we see where the real advantages that allowed these special interests to prosper came from: slavery, poverty, crime, the military complex and police forces and child labor. All of these have been utilized to create abundance for a few at the expense of many. Today to this has been added the credit industry, the sale and display of private information, the scandal and gossip industry (the media), the security industry and the pornography industry.
The gist of all of this shows that there are no taboos where the creation of profit can be realized; and the evident total lack of any moral considerations whatsoever. Can a society, which allows such an economic system that shows no moral restraint continue to prosper, when the moral foundation of that society itself is being destroyed by such a system?
Yet this system is not only continuing but growing ever larger, and being supported by the very societal institutions that should be discouraging it, colleges, religious institutions, newspapers, television and publishing institutions.
Yet the economists claim that morality has no say in the economy. That this statement is even made, indicates that there is a deep corruption in society itself 2 . When educated people can claim that the very foundation upon which society rests, the economy, need not be moral in its actions; that, in effect, the consequences of economic transactions are not to be held accountable to the very society that allowed them to exist, then this shows that the societal morality is either non-existent or so compromised that it may as well not exist.
What are the indications of the disintegration of society due to the loss of societal morality?
In the essay “The End of the Roman Republic – The Decline and Fall of Trust”, I showed how the loss of morality in the Roman Republic at the time of Julius Caesar, led to the eventual fall of that Republic and the rise of Tyranny. When the justice I mentioned above begins to be lost in a society because of the splintering of the society into inequitable classes; because of economic considerations; and finally, just plain greed; there will be a loss of trust throughout all the segments of that society. A society based on favoritism, financial connections, haphazard prosperity and profit motivation without scruple, will eventually become a society where no one trusts anyone else, which is the breakdown of the very glue that holds society together. Without cooperation, society cannot survive, and trust is the basis of all cooperation.
As Plato showed, the search for justice on the individual level is also the search for justice at the societal level, for man is by nature a social animal. The Divine Will leads man in the proper direction, but cannot make him accept its resolve; he must do this freely, through free choice. Our society has allowed a false prosperity to lead it astray; greed and false hopes keep us moving against the very principle that we know to be right. Our schools themselves beguiled by donation and their own donation based existence, continue to teach the very things that will eventually lead not to prosperity but ruin. Democracy itself, and the responsible freedom it was built on has been perverted by the false freedom or license of greed to replace one for the other, thereby negating its own principles. Justice is a concept that this world of business seems to have entirely forgotten, but that is the very thing that greed thrives on; for greed is the absence of equity, and the continual perpetuator of false hopes.
All things will eventually right themselves; all imbalances will eventually find balance. So all men will finally seek out justice, when they realize that there is a purpose to life which they cannot escape. Reconciliation will be hard, and the reward of greed is emptiness and regret. But man will eventually progress, as he always has; the sorrow in life is that he always seems to do this through misery and regret. There is no easy answer to life, but then again maybe that is why we were given free will; it’s never easy to play God.
1 Remember that in the essay “On Perception, Existence and Symbolization” we defined justice “roughly” as the relation of fairness in human behaviors.
2 Private enterprise doesn’t have to be gambling on the stock market, leveraging what you don’t have into a fortune through speculation, raising the prices of necessities sky high by market manipulation and making private property unattainable because of greedy lending advantage, and planned obsolescence. It should be selling at fair prices with a fair profit, rewarding true innovation and creation with profit. Entrepreneurs were once creators and innovators who forged ahead with new ideas, not tricksters, money manipulators and market creators. Monopolies that destroyed competition were once illegal, not encouraged. Markets were real markets not shams to leverage the misery of others into the profit for the few. Pornography is not art, but vice; privacy is not a commodity but a right; Law enforcement and security are not markets but safeguards of society; journalism was an information service to a free public not a racket to enrich through slander, gossip and defamation, or a way for the rich to manipulate the opinions of the many. Even in economic matters, license is no longer freedom, but tyranny.
Originally Published:April 10, 2008
Revised:July 3, 2014