May 19, 2007

Borrowing Morality

Posted in culture, politics, psychology, religion, soup at 9:40 am by Jerry

RIDDLE ME THIS: What does a Revelationist and Relativist have in common?

ANSWER: They both claim to, ultimately, give up their responsibility of making their own moral judgements of others over to someone else.

Which means, ultimately – they can never take credit for being right nor own up to being wrong. And yet, even though someone else is understood as the ultimate judge of others, neither Revelationist nor Relativist can live up to this fundamental principle of theirs…

“They are unfit to judge themselves properly. Only God is a righteous Judge!” says the Revelationist, “And by His Word, we know these people are committing sins against Him.” “But that’s a different culture than the one you’ve grown up in,” says the Relativist, “Their moral structure is just as valid as yours. Telling them they are sinners is wrong!”

Oh, the irony! All this judging of others for making judgements!

The reality is – everyone judges everyone all the time. Just by our curiousity alone we come up with a theory about who people are, the good and the bad about them (though we might not always express these opinions). And just by saying this, I can hear the objections already – “Are you saying we should embrace these judgements of others? What if they’re wrong?”

I’m aware of our fallibility. We cannot always be certain about what others ought to do. But, by just saying certain moral standards are God’s standards or another culture‘s standards doesn’t make them infallible either. I hear more objections – “So what do we do then? Everyone for themselves? If we can’t completely subject ourselves to external authorities, are we to make ourselves the ultimate Authority? What gives us the right to make our own moral judgements of others?”

When I read The War for Children’s Minds by Stephen Law, I came across “Milgram’s Experiment” (pp.43-45). I’ve never heard of the experiment before, but it confirmed for me the need for all to be capable of questioning external authorities and defending disobedience when needed.

A subject who has no ability or expertise to make a decision, especially in a crisis situation, will leave it to the group and its hierarchy.

via Wikipedia’s Milgram Experiment

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