Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Conflict between and Importance of Communal and Individual Morality

Believe it or not, the following is my attempt to provide a very short post about the nature of morality:

I think morality as a general concept (determining what is "right" and "wrong") is part and parcel of group interaction - even, in a very real way, among animals of widely varying degrees of intelligence. It is, at its most basic level, part of survival instinct. It is focused on what "is" - at the most basic level. It is focused on "how" interaction needs to occur in order to perpetuate the species and, although instinctual rather than conscious, really is "morality" at heart.

I think morality among humans, specifically, has the exact same foundation - but our ability to think outside ourselves allows us to move from the most practical, biological, survival aspect of morality to a philosophical foundation that expands from a purely group-based paradigm to include a focus on the person even, sometimes, at the expense of the group. It is focused on what "should be" - and, frankly, that transition, although important to us, is what complicates morality exponentially and makes things get really messy at times.

Finally, I see the existence of agency (the ability to think about and choose one's actions consciously, even when they conflict with the morality of one's community) as the monkey wrench in the ease with which morality can be evaluated and determined, since it is the only thing that posits the need for competing moralities - one communal and one personal that can and do conflict.

Morality is an incredibly subjective thing, but most people want it to be objective - since objective morality is SO much easier to implement and "obey". Frankly, the most extreme version of objective, communal morality we have within Mormon theology is Lucifer's plan - and I think it is important to understand that simple fact. 

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