This page will soon have a good English translation.
Morality is a very controversial issue, more than politics and sports, and even more than religion.
We can say that the controversies concerning religion derive from the morality implied in it. The point of controversy is that something or someone can regulate our behavior, tell us what we can and cannot, what we should and should not do. What will make our lives more difficult, have that kind of norm, or not have it?
I had some difficulty in deciding whether or not to include the issue of morals in this series of articles, subtitled Life has become difficult for us. The issue of morality might seem to be outside the literary genre of some journalistic articles; This article could run the risk of looking like a kind of moralizing letter to some people. Despite the above, morality is one of the basic and determining aspects of the characteristics of life and the world today; therefore it is forced to address the issue in this series of articles, which, if I am not mistaken, will be eleven in total.
I had even more difficulty in deciding how to approach the issue. The problem lies precisely in the fact that today, due to the characteristics of our world, any mention of moral issues tends to be interpreted as sermonizing, especially if one speaks of morality, and not so much of ethics. Ethics today usually means a certain set of codes of conduct - codes of honor - that are well seen in certain groups or associations of people, such as bankers, businessmen, military, and so on. By moral, on the other hand, today the same is understood as always understood, that is, the assessment of the goodness or evil of free human acts; discipline called preferably moral, in Theology, and preferably ethical, in Philosophy.
There are two notable codes of honor that aim to replace morality: 1) civil law, especially in Saxon countries; and 2) decency, everywhere. If civil law allows it, then it's fine, it's lawful, even if it's abortion. If it is done with decency - with all cleanliness, good manners, long tablecloths and in a good house - then it is fine, it is lawful, even if it is adultery.
The fact is that today it matters less to act well than to act according to our codes: we have placed ourselves above good and evil! The good has ceased to be a value, in our consideration, and we intend to replace it with codes decided by us. In such circumstances, morality has begun to be seen as a matter of children and old women who go to the church in the Rosary in the afternoon. Therefore, in order to avoid misunderstandings and to be able to address the underlying issue, the one that really matters, it is convenient that we talk here about morals, rather than ethics, and that we define and settle the issue well.
Although the articles in this series can be read independently, there is a relationship between them; due to which the reading of each one will be better used if it is related to that of the others, which can be found by activating the link offered immediately:
Life has been difficult for us
That morality is considered today as a matter of children and old women of church, is perhaps the fact that speaks most badly of the current man. Of course no one says so, with this clarity; But, keep your mouth shut, morale is neglected when it comes to business: "business is business" (business is business). In coherence, it should be said that Socrates, Christ, Gandhi, Luther King, and so many others, were like children or old ladies. And I want to make it clear that if I have used these examples, it is not because I have little children or old women, but because those who lack morals do so, as abortion and euthanasia prove.
Perhaps the best way of approaching the subject - without looking like a moralizing approach - is the consideration that all moral reduction is a reduction of manhood, not in the sense of machismo, but of human character, of human condition, of dignity human In other words, just as man is a rational animal and a social animal, he is also a moral, ethical animal; the Greeks had already noticed since before Christ.
And this is so because man is also an animal of values, and because good is a value, and because morality studies the goodness of free human acts; and, finally, because good, like all authentic values - being, truth, beauty, unity, etc. - is worth by itself, justified by itself, without relying on anything outside of itself. Therefore, to underestimate morality is to become animalized, bewitched, lose manhood, human condition, as already said.
Two fundamental orders
Another way of approaching the issue is to consider that there are two fundamental orders, the theoretical and the practical; and that the theoretical order is above the practical, as 2 + 2 = 4 is above everything that is done in practice, because it cannot be otherwise; and that, within the practical order, the moral order is above all others. Moral laws are categorical, not hypothetical or conditional imperatives. An example of a hypothetical or conditional imperative may be this: work hard, if you want to earn a lot. The condition is clear: if you want. Otherwise, you may not work as much.
Bochenski, a twentieth-century philosopher, uses the following example of a categorical imperative: You will not cut your mother's neck. And then consider many excuses to justify that you can cut your mother's neck: if you don't cut it there will be a social conflict ... a national war ... a world war ... the universe will explode! If the universe explodes, your mother will die anyway; cut your mother's neck and save at least the universe. And finally he answers: I will not cut my mother's neck, even if the universe explodes and my mother dies in the explosion; It is very different that my mother dies because the universe explodes, that she dies because I cut her neck.
Bochenski is right, undoubtedly; His example is very clear and allows us to appreciate the categorical character of the moral imperatives, of the moral laws: You will not cut your mother's neck, period! And that's enough! No conditioning! This is the moral, and if you do not follow it, you animalize, you become dumb, as if you were a rabbit, a cow, a rhinoceros ...
The shocking moral criteria of a pagan
Socrates, a pagan Greek before Christ, without even having the concept of a person and as intuiting him, gave the following moral criteria: It is preferable to suffer injustice rather than commit it. It is preferable that they lie to me, that the liar is me; it is preferable that they rob me, that the thief is me; it is preferable that they kill me, that the murderer is me, and so on. And Socrates allowed him to be killed, just like Christ, and Gandhi, and Luther King, and so many others.
Today we could translate Socrates' thinking by saying that everything is preferable before it is I who hurts a person, given his dignity and his rights. We suffer from hypostatic blindness, because we are not able to see the person in every human being. Many current moralists do not quite understand the finesse of the true moral demands posed by Socrates.
The man without morals smiles and thinks: Poor morons, so they will never earn money. I am not making it up; I have been told, and it seems very good to me ... but very well! ... that the man without morality be defined: money is his value, money is his god, or power, or fame, or pleasure.
But then do not complain when - with all your money and power - disease prevents you from eating, or when impotence makes it difficult for you to be sex, or when old age prevents you from traveling, or when you are left alone and depend on a servant to move and to clean oneself, neither when the decrepitude prevents him from sending, nor when the fear of death paralyzes him, nor when his inheritance is fought at his funeral, nor when his widow's new husband enjoys his money. What greatness, that of the man without morals!
Morality as the guide to happiness
Morality is also like the set of signs that indicate the path to happiness, to dignified and complete human fulfillment. Therefore, against morals there is no bliss! And that is why day by day, step by step, decision after decision, the man without moral life is becoming difficult; and not only that, but he also makes life difficult for others. He believes that the difficulties of modern life prevent him from thinking about morality, and valuing it, when in reality it is the lack of morals that makes life difficult.
We certainly have physical freedom to take a rifle and kill some people from the roof of our house, but we have no moral freedom to do so, even if no one discovers us. What does this mean not having moral freedom to do so? What kind of impediment is this? Why should morality limit us? If we could not limit ourselves, we should argue that anyone is free to kill us with a rifle from the roof of his house. Why not? Why should morality be able to limit it? Even before finding an answer, we can consider that if there were no moral limits, anyone could kill others, just for pleasure. Therefore, there must be such limits, and we have called them moral limits.
A first answer to the previous questions is that people are so valuable that they have dignity and rights, that they must be respected, that they should not be violated, or that there is a moral obligation to respect them and that there is no moral freedom to violate them. That is the origin of morality: the dignity and rights of people. That is why people are subject to morality.
Then there is indeed something, or someone, that can regulate our behavior, and that in fact the norm. Such reality should not bother us, as it does not bother us that our behavior is determined by the force of gravity. And just as we can consider the negative consequences of no gravity, we can also consider the negative consequences of no morality. In fact we are suffering today. Let's leave it like that, then, at least for now.
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