The Moral “Self”
Preface: If you are religious please do not take offense. What I offer is my own subjective reasoning gathered from years of forum debates on Ask.com and on Blurtit.com, as well as experiences and various books I have read regarding Morality. I do plan on adding to this as I can. This was written about a year ago, and it gives some insight to what I personally feel governs many people's actions in life.
There are so many discussions or debates that I get into regarding “Objective Morality” from God versus The ability for humans to reason and rationalize subjective morality for themselves. Some theists want to prove the ingrained Morality to gain some sort of “Theological Footprint” to presuppose the existence and presence of God prior to any man made written texts. The argument is presented in hopes of making God part of man’s natural world. Theists immediately lose the battle when they take the side that man is incapable of judging what should be considered moral or immoral. It is lost because they use human reasoning to determine that the morality in the Bible is “Good”. The decision of a moral standpoint being rationalized as “Good” in of itself is moral measurement using human reasoning to choose that which is “Good” versus that which is “Bad” in judgment of what the Bible says.
For Atheist it is easy. We reason through what is good for the healthy continuation of mankind. When I say continuation I paint with broad strokes in regards to the continuation of the species, or survival. To be more accurate would be to understand the subconscious need for the survival of “Self” first. The assurance that the conscious “Self” is preserved as well as our individual DNA or ancestral lineage is paramount in our underlying decision making. Sure we can site “Empathy” and “Reciprocity” as noble pursuits born of tribal survival, but no one really wants to consider the “Selfishness” of it all. We are so conditioned to think of being Selfish as pious, prideful and the adverse of group survival, but no one looks at it in the correct manner. It is the subconscious need to preserve “self” that is the glue that binds the group, in rational sound minded people.
Religion has taught as a myriad of phrases demonizing “selfish” acts. Jesus was to represent what was supposed to be a truly “Self-less” act as a standard we were all supposed to live by. “Pride goeth before the fall.”, “Lay down your life for your brethren.” . . . religion taught us to think of “Self” as dirty or loathsome. This was possibly to fill each person who heard it with guilt and the need to be more righteous and upstanding and to seek God in this pursuit. Self is really quite good, and motivates us in ways that we usually don’t want to see or understand, but need to as a blueprint for how we navigate through our reasoned morality.
What does Empathy really mean? We understand that it is the ability to view someone else’s plight as if we were them. To feel what they feel so that we might identify with their pain and gain appreciation that motivates us to be sympathetic or compassionate towards them. There are two ways in which true empathy works:
We use reasoning to determine the situation, but our reaction will be based off of how our subconscious self, reacts. In some certain circumstances “Self” can motivate to do nothing but sympathize out of survival. In others it can motivate to interact in a ways that you wished someone had done for you.
How is reciprocity motivated by “Self”? Treating someone else as you would want to be treated is a type of “Mental Insurance”. It is a way of stockpiling “Hope” for later on. “Self” has the need to not only survive, but be accepted. Group acceptance is based off a number of things.
3. It is a “Mental Bank” of goodness that we hope to draw from in our time of need.
All of these “feelings” placate the mind (subconscious Self) with regard to our standings in society. It gives us the assured feeling that we have a Safe Place amongst our peers.
What is the mark we will make in regards to “Self”? Will we leave our DNA as a signature that we were here, for generations to follow? Is there some great act or deed or creative work that will be remembered for generations? Being remembered is a way to ensure an “Idea” of immortality and the continuance of at least the idea or image of our “Self”.
Altruism is just one of the many ways to leave that mark or be immortalized. Often, a hero will be asked to be remembered before giving his life to save others . . . I would give my own life for any of my family without fail. Is that love? Absolutely, but I would be remised if I didn’t also acknowledge that it is also the preservation of “Self” in both deed and DNA continuance.
Coming up in my next blog:
Why do we need a “Sound Mind” to make reasonable choices?