Sunday, June 28, 2009

Famed Formula 6/28/09

Opinions alter, manners change, creeds rise and fall, but the moral law is written in the tablets of history.

James Forude
Welcome to my world.
So what is the moral law? It has been stated by many writers, speakers and philosophers over the years in many different ways. Very simply put it comes down to this: Humility in the presence of deity. Respect for others. Honesty with oneself.

If it's so simple why is it so damn difficult to understand and practice? When I first started to read philosophy, a subject which covers every aspect and experience of human life, it was the study of Ethics that attracted me. I wanted to reduce ethical thinking to a very simple statement, something I could mentally digest and use as a rule of life, such as "My freedom to punch you in the nose ends at the point where your nose begins." But the more I read the more I realized how complicated the subject is. Different circumstances require different actions. But every action or reaction should be directly related to a basic rule of behavior.

Humility in the presence of deity. One does not have to be a theist to understand that rule. The mistake we often make is to imagine that somehow we are greater then the sum of the parts. If we really understood and could utilize the vast intelligence that operates the universe there would be no need for science. Almost any scientist and thinker will admit to being amazed at the discoveries still to be made in every area of investigation into the workings of the natural world. With an infinite, unmeasured universe in front of us, how can we not be humble, even given our abilities to discover. If you are pleased with the idea of relating those discoveries to the process of understanding more about God, then good for you.

Respect for others. This poses an interesting question. Does everyone deserve our respect? I have a former friend in California for whom I no longer have any respect. I initially respected him very much, in fact I looked up to him for many years. My loss of respect for him is solely related to his treatment of me, but there are many things about him that project a sterling character. The lesson I learned is that I put my respect where it didn't belong. I trusted incorrectly, I needed to learn to respect him for who he is and not tie it to a betrayed trust.

The respect for others should also include animals and plants, even down to the lowly weed pushing its way up through the cracks in the sidewalk. Loving the weed or the skunk is not necessary, but giving it its right to be what it is is essential.

Honesty with oneself. Ah, here's the tricky one. I am reminded of two famous quotes. "This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man," wrote the amazingly intelligent Shakespeare. While Abraham Lincoln said: "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time." How often do we fool ourselves? Some of the time? Or all of the time? Why is it so important to stop fooling ourselves and how do we go about it?

I think understanding ourselves, which is no small enterprise, is a combination of all three moral codes: humility in the presence of deity, respect for others and honesty with oneself. Immanuel Kant taught that one of the most important reasons for philosophy is an investigation of what the human being is capable of becoming. Thomas Hobbes wrote at length about our ethical responsibilities and relationships to other people and the society in which we live. And Friedrich Nietzsche dismissed doxological thinking for an investigation and realization of the indwelling intuitive and instinctual abilities of humans.

Yesterday I wrote about the supposedly 85% of the brain we don't use, and yesterday's Vagabond Jotting asks if the soul is something living inside the flesh. If you look at yourself squarely in the face when you approach a mirror and ask "Who am I?" be still, and let the intuitive portion of your mind, the 85%, answer. When the honest answer comes and is the real revelation of a creature that is part of the infinite universe, with an invisible nature, a soul, outside the flesh, indissolubly linked to light, space and all other creatures, and capable of becoming at one with great goodness, then you are alive. in every way.

If you reach that goal, or even approach it, "thou canst not them be false to any man" including yourself.

DB - Vagabond Journeys
Have a nice sunny Summer Sunday
Weekend Puzzle

_ H _ / _ T E /N _ _ _ _ E _ N S / _ _ T H / _ _ S E _ H _ N E /

( _ H E N /_ _ N _ _ _ _ T E/ _ _ S / _ _ _ _ ) ?

Ask me for a letter, fill it in and voila, you have a song title.

We have two winners.

C'est l'amour. Bon chance.


Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

We are all inextricably linked.

salemslot9 said...

please, refresh my memory
is there a time period between guesses, can I buy a vowel & what time is game over?

salemslot9 said...

send guesses to email
or comments?
(am I being meddlesome, yet?)

Beth said...

Very interesting. My overriding philosophy has slowly developed into one of respect. That's what it all comes down to for me. Respect for myself, others, the environment, others' property, etc. If you respect those entities, you treat them well, and then everybody's happy. That's the theory, anyway. :) Hugs, Beth

Rose said...

I agree with Beth.......Respect yourself first and always respect others!

Hugs, Rose

a corgi said...

I like the humility in the presence of a deity, DB (but I bet you knew I would probably say something about this). I think we need to remember it is not all about us and once we grasp that, I think we will have no trouble defining moral law. we need to make sure we look to a standard to define moral - your moral may not be my moral, etc. If we can define moral and define truth we will be able to live morally that lists all those things you included humility in the presence of a deity, respect for others and honesty with oneself. And I think it all boils down too to that which I began with; it is not all about us. We need to take ourselves off the pedestal we have put ourselves on and put Another One there first and then others second; I bet if we all did that, moral law and righteous living would prevail


Janice said...

Shucks I missed the game. Grandchildren were here and not much time for anything else. How about one for the weekend. Will be home alone seeking virtual entertainment.