Re: Morality in your tale... Is this a standard?

#41
I will leave MY contribution at this - while I thank the deliberate and sensible discussion points by all:

God is NOT a grey haired, bearded blowhard looking for victims to punish... (this in itself is a cliche rendering).

Christ and his teachings are NOT "religion".... thus in MY remarks and the initial inquiry about HOW this God-morality might be that initiate event that "good vs evil" was born, Lucifer, the fallen angel, God the punishing Father.

However this might feel/BE a fiction to some, be sure, Christ is NOT religion. What was born of Christ's word has BECOME religion.

So, if you think about your favored teachers, your professors, what have you, and that amazing influence to better learning, better study, better conscience.... there you find "your teacher". 

You know what MOST people called Jesus? Either Rabbi or Teacher. Not religious voice.

The importance in this is, GOD, in the ever-powering element of this (be it theory or fact - NOT about to debate it as no way to succeed in ANY forum, even in a Presbyterian church) GOD is Mana... Nature.... spirit.... discovery..... peace..... love.... if you were to read scripture. 

NOT tempting you nor challenging you - any of you. Just stating.

So, throw "religion" out with the bathwater.... It is a construct of Man designed to gather all in devotion in its essence BUT has turned into a recruitment tool by virtually ALL peddlers. It has turned into another realm of POWER stolen in the name of God to punish and steal.

Religion is NOT what I am referring to in MY thesis. The goodness that flows from God, mana, spirit, Buddha.... THAT is God to me. 

And its importance in literature is as old as the first written words. So, no surprise so many have utilized it. A story without good and evil is rare. Not completely nonexistent, but rare.

Good discussion peeps. Thanks. And as Dan noted, this is NOT a discussion about "religion" therefore the mods let it roll.

Good!

And Good night!

Re: Morality in your tale... Is this a standard?

#42
“Their morals, their code; it's a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They're only as good as the world allows them to be. You'll see- I'll show you. When the chips are down these, uh, civilized people? They'll eat each other. See I'm not a monster, I'm just ahead of the curve.” 

-The Joker

And I agree 100%. 'Morality' is bullshit.

Actually, it's even worse than bullshit. It's a lie designed to exploit people. Historically, 'morality' just meant following whatever religion was imposed on you. After religion went out of fashion religious morality became replaced with so-called 'progressive' or liberal morality but it's just the same bullshit in different clothing. The actually powerful people that own/run the world don't follow any of the moral teachings they impose on the sheep. Murder is illegal yet governments go to war and/or kill their own people. Theft is a crime yet the government can take your money without asking. Pedophilia is prohibited yet child exploitation scandals among the wealthy and powerful are commonplace. Drugs are banned yet drug abuse among people with status is quite common. The list just goes on and on. The rules are not there for them. They are there for you.

ALL morals are ultimately horseshit. All that really matters in this world is that you have the means and willingness to do what benefits you. I don't see this as a 'moral value'. I see it as a cold FACT.

EDIT: My stories don't really have a moral message, but they can have a 'point'. That point isn't really rooted in morals, though.

Re: Morality in your tale... Is this a standard?

#43
It's not the morals that are bullshit, it's the people that abuse or screw them up that are.
It's like banning knives because some idiot stabbed people with one. Banning language because lots of people lie. Banning food because people abuse it and are unhealthy.
People misuse tools all the time. It's the people that are the problem, not the concepts.

To be fair, ANY government type or rulership style or none at all would work out wonderfully if humans were perfect. Life is about figuring out what works best with the full knowledge that most people are going to screw up royally or abuse it.

Objective Morality works. When it works. it's biggest virtue is that seems tro work slightly more often than any other method, historically.

Life and civilization are a gigantic game of russian roulette. Objective Morality is simply one less bullet in that gun than almost any other method that doesn't require perfection from all of it's participants.

It's like comparing, say, monarchy to Direct Democracy. Direct Democracy seldom works to provide decent government for more than 50 years, and the END of direct democracy is always a living hell for it's victims. But in the beginning, for the first 20 years or so, it's wonderful... about the same time as a generation.

Monarchy on the other hand has decent bones. The rulers are taught to rule from a young age, in theory. In practice, monarchs lose touch or become despots about half the time. Half the time your government will be monstrous or irrelevant, the other half it will be stable and fairly tolerable. If it gets too bad, you also know who to kill.

Just playing the odds, Monarchy is a better bet for long term survival and stability. you still have a 50% chance to lose, but that's better than the 100% chance to lose you have with direct democracy, but you are also missing out on that first 20 years of guaranteed prosperity.

Morality is the same way. As an individual, mercy and the concepts of situational or subjective morality are vastly more appealing. Individuals can win the lottery and get treated well. But as an overall plan, it is literally rule by the strongest, with zero oversight. Objective morality at least HAS the oversight, even if it doesn't work as often as it should.

But in the end, it's always about evil, ignorant, and foolish PEOPLE screwing everything up.

Re: Morality in your tale... Is this a standard?

#44

Brian Wrote: It's not the morals that are bullshit, it's the people that abuse or screw them up that are.
It's like banning knives because some idiot stabbed people with one. Banning language because lots of people lie. Banning food because people abuse it and are unhealthy.
People misuse tools all the time. It's the people that are the problem, not the concepts.

To be fair, ANY government type or rulership style or none at all would work out wonderfully if humans were perfect. Life is about figuring out what works best with the full knowledge that most people are going to screw up royally or abuse it.

Objective Morality works. When it works. it's biggest virtue is that seems tro work slightly more often than any other method, historically.

Life and civilization are a gigantic game of russian roulette. Objective Morality is simply one less bullet in that gun than almost any other method that doesn't require perfection from all of it's participants.

It's like comparing, say, monarchy to Direct Democracy. Direct Democracy seldom works to provide decent government for more than 50 years, and the END of direct democracy is always a living hell for it's victims. But in the beginning, for the first 20 years or so, it's wonderful... about the same time as a generation.

Monarchy on the other hand has decent bones. The rulers are taught to rule from a young age, in theory. In practice, monarchs lose touch or become despots about half the time. Half the time your government will be monstrous or irrelevant, the other half it will be stable and fairly tolerable. If it gets too bad, you also know who to kill.

Just playing the odds, Monarchy is a better bet for long term survival and stability. you still have a 50% chance to lose, but that's better than the 100% chance to lose you have with direct democracy, but you are also missing out on that first 20 years of guaranteed prosperity.

Morality is the same way. As an individual, mercy and the concepts of situational or subjective morality are vastly more appealing. Individuals can win the lottery and get treated well. But as an overall plan, it is literally rule by the strongest, with zero oversight. Objective morality at least HAS the oversight, even if it doesn't work as often as it should.

But in the end, it's always about evil, ignorant, and foolish PEOPLE screwing everything up.
THIS! 


The repetitive argument here from a few seems to be that "morality", "God" or "religion" is the problem - and then they proceed to explain how it is made to exploit, abuse or deceive....

Okay.... but never mind it's the PEOPLE that manipulate that morality/God/religion.... yet they take aim at the concept or precept as the problem. I think this is the easy assumption, as taking responsibility for mankind's egregious behavior seems the unreasonable thing.... better to blame the precepts of good and love and moral indebtedness to a larger society "that is a con". 

And it's evident that the actual teachings of Christ are not remotely known by too many, but they default to their assumptions - why? Because bad people with bad intentions have abused or hurt or exploited others.

Morality hasn't failed mankind; mankind constantly fails morality. It is the centerpiece of sin and failing. Just because a LOT of people commit such failures doesn't mean it's the precepts that fail. 

But as I said often, I did not bring the discussion to persuade anyone - it was a question about the arch of moral "God"/morality as the original "good vs evil" concept in literature, and is this in effect in almost every piece of literature ever created? Good vs evil has been since the first written word was made.

Now, I gotta go chop wood. The potbelly stove needs fuel, and I need some scrambled rabbit and eggs. Peace! DrakanWine

Re: Morality in your tale... Is this a standard?

#45

VladThatGuy Wrote: Just playing the odds, Monarchy is a better bet for long term survival and stability. you still have a 50% chance to lose, but that's better than the 100% chance to lose you have with direct democracy, but you are also missing out on that first 20 years of guaranteed prosperity.


More good stuff.

Ming Dynasty lasted 10,000 years. Not JUST because the wide population was peasants, but because their imposition in the general populations' lives was generally peaceable and imposing only in "taxation" or tithing the emperor. Sure there was no latitude for the peasants, but that was part of how it worked.

Democracies finally burn because idealism mutates by the ambitions of PEOPLE who think they have a lot of leash to con or cheat or steal. 

Alas, we are theoretically in the last couple acts of our Play.  

Re: Morality in your tale... Is this a standard?

#47

splattenburgers Wrote: And I agree 100%. 'Morality' is bullshit.

People who think morality is bullshit haven't ever studied morality itself. Morality has been claimed and abused by various faith groups and governmental groups and cults of personality for so long that very few people understand anything about morality. It makes sense that you think it doesn't exist because you have never been taught and haven't figured it out for yourself. Most people are in the same position, and make do with some form of skewed ethics from whatever group they choose to trust. 

Morality isn't exploitative. Its a universal consequence of conscious thought. Its very limited in scope, but universal morality exists regardless of your opinions on it. It is not given by any authority and is, on its own, self evident and self supporting. Morality can NOT come from authority. Moral actors, by definition, require the ability to make their own choices; those under the auspices of authority are not making choices, they are following orders. 

"Rule of the strongest" isn't morality, but it is a tempting ethical manipulation. It is one that you have used in place of actual universal morality. It is one more exploitative system that does exactly what you fear. Its a self fulfilling prophesy. 

What is so interesting about fiction is that if offers and opportunity to explore the two moral conundrums that are not present in real life. Universal morality only has two parts; the morality of self and the morality of similar others. Fiction offer a chance to explore the two hypothetical moral positions of the morality of the superior and the morality of the inferior. Those don't exist in real life (yet) so fiction is the place to explore ideas on how that might work. But in order to do that you have to have an understanding of what universal morality actually is. 

Re: Morality in your tale... Is this a standard?

#48
wow this is an interesting talk, morality has always been a concept for me to contemplate about. i’m not sure if i can contribute anything worthwhile to the conversation other than my experiences or my thinking

to me, as a writer, morality/ethics can be presented as a conflict on multiple stages:

spiritual - whether it be the natural world or an absolute being or whatever. it can be a higher being or the natural state of things, cosmos, stars, stuff like that

authority - the relevant authoritative institution or parties from established religious structures to legal to ideological parties to its corresponding individual(s)

environmental - the closest to the individual on an external, the immediate environment from peers to local institutions (which may overlap with authority), this is where the “plot” would take place

introspective - the individual itself battling against themselves in reaction to conflicts on the other stages

i use this thinking for two reasons: to help plot out character development and conflict, and to worldbuild

it’s a pragmatic approach to morality because i, the writer, take on the moral systems of the relevant character i’m aiming to develop

morality is not necessarily the conflict of “good” and “evil” to me, but rather the exploration of “good” and “evil” in relation to multi-stage conflicts

i know i may have not answered your question about morality, about god and people and my view, so here’s my answer: morality is yes and no, where anyone worth their salt is able to say both, believe both and admonish both, all at once, one or the other, and nothing at all

if i take on that philosophy, then i can probably make a decent story

i mean, that’s how i interpreted this since this is a writing forum. anyway i apologize for my ramblings, i literally wrote this while in a car


Re: Morality in your tale... Is this a standard?

#50
Interesting discussion.

The good/evil fight is common in stories, although it's not the only worldview that can be present in the background. Some stories are fairly nihilistic or even bent to the side of darkness being the only reality (Lovecraft anyone) or cynical about good being capable of anything. There's enough examples of that in every genre and in different cultures. (Although pure nihilism is also a very modernist thing, that some cultures would never have tolerated )

On the other hand, I myself cannot really emphasise and lose interest if none of the characters is interested in Light, Goodness and Truth (let's call it that for now) except when there's something very interesting going on in other ways (hello Lovecraft again, but those were short stories). There seems to be both an innate search for goodness and for some an innate resistance to that present in humans.

Religion can be abused for the side of evil (as can atheism, and communism, and belief in 'the market')
Morality can be hollowed out and turned upside down until the rules.
Ethics can be abused and twisted.
It's important to acknowledge that too. And give that a place in fiction.

On the other hand I think we have a responsibility too to show some kind of light. To not leave people in darkness without giving a map to at least a tiny spark of light. Or to (mis)quote Chesterton and Neil Gaiman, to never create dragons without making tools to slay them. And usually the dragons we make are already there, and we show people that they are there, but a good (in the moral/ethical sense) writer will always give us weapons, or even a St. George to help them slay them. Only breaking things down, showing how powerful the dragon is, and making people despair is not really a good idea. There must be some kind of release. (Note that I'm using dragons as a metaphor for evil here. If your dragons are good, or morally ambigious or in need of salvation they're fine and not the dragons I'm speaking of. I love toothless a lot!)

We are humans, and humans are moral creatures. But even a lot of non-humans go far beyond Darwinian jungle law & pure competition ethics, and have a lot of cooperation of symbiosis going on. (Kropotkin is a good corrective for one-sided Ayn Randian neodarwinist tendencies for example that think everything is competition and selfishness.) Humanism means a belief that we can go beyond nature and go deeper into human compassion, and every religion I know also teaches to do better. Christianity is very radical in 'love your enemies' and ' love of money is evil', as is the Buddhist 'reject desire and fight your ego', but a lot of people don't really like to actually follow stuff like that, and selfishness is an easy alternative...

Which in itself is interesting to explore in a story...

(I'm not sure if this was my most coherent comment, but it was just some of the ideas I had on this topic)

Re: Morality in your tale... Is this a standard?

#51
Morality can be taught in one of several ways as long as they typically adhere to the 7 heavenly virtues . Additionally there are 11 virtues that predate the Christian adoption and were suggested by the Greeks to be important to what makes a hero. Aristotle often wrote about the virtues. 

Aristotle's list was: 

1. Courage in the face of fear
2. Temperance in the face of pleasure and pain
3. Liberality with wealth and possessions
4. Magnificence with great wealth and possessions
5. Magnanimity with great honors
6. Proper ambition with normal honors
7. Truthfulness with self-expression
8. Wittiness in conversation
9. Friendliness in social conduct
10. Modesty in the face of shame or shamelessness
11. Righteous indignation in the face of injury

Re: Morality in your tale... Is this a standard?

#52
Way, Bramcool and Dr Cat all get a thumbs up.

I think what resonates here, and even in the antithesis arguments, a "calling" for morality, light, God, whatever one calls it - for those who believe they are constructs to use for damage, even admit, by default, those higher impulses by their theoretical absence in life (per their suggestions, not mine).

Reality is, Man is prone to selfish, self-serving behavior - coming from cave dwellers, being born to the theory of Maslow's "Hierarchy of needs", Life, physiological needs, safety/protection being next UP the pyramid - then more developed "needs" in love/belonging, then self esteem... lastly "self-actualization. EACH step UP that pyramid, the need-pursuit ratchets up to the more existential "need"....

So Man will TEND to lean into those needs, and respond in DESIRE of those things, even to the detriment of others.... abandonment of social morality can be born of this NEED... making this a caveman era competition for THINGS/RESOURCES.

But the idea of morality isn't so much BORN to Man but taught to Man through social commitment to something MORE than self - naturally, this also means they have graduated to needs-based issues past food and shelter. 

The theories of corruption are usually surrounding the abandonment of social good, and serving of self. Thieves, cons, murderers... so Man fails, NOT the precept of goodness or social order. 

This is the direct point many are trying to make here - God, Light, Enlightenment, Gifting, Social Order, Buddha, Jesus, you name it, these things are that which either guides social order by way of lessons - this is why most manuscripts from prophets (Jesus, Mohammed, etc.) speak in LESSONS... 

And it is Man's interpretations of these lessons that form Man as individual (in this prism of good vs evil) or as social contributor for the betterment of others.

Missionaries are not BORN to mission - they learn it. Jesus did not minister until he was 28, and only for 5 years. He really WAS a carpenter. He also really HAD a greater purpose. He knew this, and this moved him into his ministry. 

And in a period of about 15-20 years, Romans went from murdering Christ-followers to being the CENTER of Christ-Kingdom.... and here we are, something like 1.5 to 2 billion signed on. (and yes, some to many are cons, who HIDE "like wolves among sheep" ~ Jesus said this).

So, as I see it, the logical argument is good vs evil does indeed come from a social super-order that aims to bring good.... and Man is the center of its folly. NOT the concept/precept of God/Enlightenment/Jesus/Buddha/Mana, etc.   

Good discussion. Thanks all!

Re: Morality in your tale... Is this a standard?

#54

VladThatGuy Wrote: Ming Dynasty lasted 10,000 years.


Meh, history is hard. remembering all those dates and stuff.
China was in an interesting situation. It rose and fell a dozen times during the last 5000 years, was conquered, revived, and had a succession of different emperors. Every emperor was, in effect, an entirely new government built upon the bones of the old. And every couple of hundred years, someone claimed that the dynasty lost the 'mandate of heaven' and created a bloody civil war that killed millions, starting an entirely new government. The Ming dynasty only lasted about 300 years, and that was generally the length of each dynasty, 200-300 years.

Basically, the claims that China had an 'unbroken civilization for 3,000 years' are utter propaganda hogwash. Sure, they still share a somewhat similar culture, but every time the mandate of heaven was passed, it became an entirely new culture that just happened to share a lot of similarities with the old. Not to mention that several takeovers basically stamped out the 'unbroken culture' permanently. Two mongol invasions, and the communist Takeover utterly eliminated what came before.

The only cultures that have ever existed for longer than 300 or so years have been the ones with a solid base in understood morality and divinity, and are generally very small subsections of a larger set of constantly rotating cultures. Buddhism has lasted for 600 years or so in it's present form, Catholicism has been more or less stable for about 800 years (although some would argue that it has existed since Constantine basically conquered it, giving it an age of about 1700 years, I would disagree) Taoism has been around a while, and so has zoroastrianism, (1400 years), sikhism (500 years or so.)

Another popular and unnamed religion, on the other hand, does not have a well-defined collective morality, and changes cultures even more regularly than empires. the modern day divisions are generally less than 100 years old, and even in it's empire at the height of it's power, the divisions and wars between the different sects with different standards of Morality were common. While this is also common in most new religions (Christianity suffered from the same problem prior to Constantine's edicts) It is a little unusual in a religion that's over 1400 years old. Confuscianism shares the same problems... it is certainly logical, but the lack of a common divinely-inspired morality prevents it from maintaining stability for longer than the empire to which it is attached. The 'confuscian period' was routinely revived, but it never survived losing the mandate of heaven. Polytheism has NEVER inspired common morality, and has always changed based on the waxing and waning of different subjective moralities, usually taking it's culture with it. It has never provided stability in the long run, and seems poorly suited to the task.

Anyways, sorry about the history lesson, but I just got finished writing a chapter and needed to splash stuff on page a little more without starting a new chapter yet. The rewrite of I_Kobold is halfway through.

Re: Morality in your tale... Is this a standard?

#56

Brian Wrote:
VladThatGuy Wrote: Ming Dynasty lasted 10,000 years.


Meh, history is hard. remembering all those dates and stuff.
China was in an interesting situation. It rose and fell a dozen times during the last 5000 years, was conquered, revived, and had a succession of different emperors. Every emperor was, in effect, an entirely new government built upon the bones of the old. And every couple of hundred years, someone claimed that the dynasty lost the 'mandate of heaven' and created a bloody civil war that killed millions, starting an entirely new government. The Ming dynasty only lasted about 300 years, and that was generally the length of each dynasty, 200-300 years.

Basically, the claims that China had an 'unbroken civilization for 3,000 years' are utter propaganda hogwash. Sure, they still share a somewhat similar culture, but every time the mandate of heaven was passed, it became an entirely new culture that just happened to share a lot of similarities with the old. Not to mention that several takeovers basically stamped out the 'unbroken culture' permanently. Two mongol invasions, and the communist Takeover utterly eliminated what came before.

The only cultures that have ever existed for longer than 300 or so years have been the ones with a solid base in understood morality and divinity, and are generally very small subsections of a larger set of constantly rotating cultures. Buddhism has lasted for 600 years or so in it's present form, Catholicism has been more or less stable for about 800 years (although some would argue that it has existed since Constantine basically conquered it, giving it an age of about 1700 years, I would disagree) Taoism has been around a while, and so has zoroastrianism, (1400 years), sikhism (500 years or so.)

Another popular and unnamed religion, on the other hand, does not have a well-defined collective morality, and changes cultures even more regularly than empires. the modern day divisions are generally less than 100 years old, and even in it's empire at the height of it's power, the divisions and wars between the different sects with different standards of Morality were common. While this is also common in most new religions (Christianity suffered from the same problem prior to Constantine's edicts) It is a little unusual in a religion that's over 1400 years old. Confuscianism shares the same problems... it is certainly logical, but the lack of a common divinely-inspired morality prevents it from maintaining stability for longer than the empire to which it is attached. The 'confuscian period' was routinely revived, but it never survived losing the mandate of heaven. Polytheism has NEVER inspired common morality, and has always changed based on the waxing and waning of different subjective moralities, usually taking it's culture with it. It has never provided stability in the long run, and seems poorly suited to the task.

Anyways, sorry about the history lesson, but I just got finished writing a chapter and needed to splash stuff on page a little more without starting a new chapter yet. The rewrite of I_Kobold is halfway through.
Bear in mind, the reference to Ming Dynasty wasn't a remark about a pluralist society, but TENURED society, and while we can discuss the ebb and flow, the war torn years, what remained was the dynasty as reflected in history.


No fan of it.

My basic premise is, Man will and DOES destroy that which is good, because the comforts of a plural society doesn't CURE corrupt genes. It gives them places to hide.

Imperial stewardship only lasts out of might and control of masses. Democracy lasts as long as the bad genes of corruptive abuse are smaller in number and ambition than those seeking higher order that the "self".

Re: Morality in your tale... Is this a standard?

#57

Sake Wrote: VladThatGuy Wrote:
And in a period of about 15-20 years, Romans went from murdering Christ-followers to being the CENTER of Christ-Kingdom....


That tends to happen when a new emperor uses a cult to change the official state religion to purge all his enemies out of the temples of nobility. Christianity didn't spread thru the Roman empire by divine miracle, it was used as a blunt force trauma tool of an ambitious emperor to consolidate power. History is funny like that. 

Re: Morality in your tale... Is this a standard?

#58

LegionOfReason Wrote: That tends to happen when a new emperor uses a cult to change the official state religion to purge all his enemies out of the temples of nobility. Christianity didn't spread thru the Roman empire by divine miracle, it was used as a blunt force trauma tool of an ambitious emperor to consolidate power. History is funny like that.


The internet owes most of it's existence to milnet, not scinet. I know, I was there when it shifted to telnet and from there to http.
Ignoble beginnings are not the measure of a tool, it's utility is. Christianity was a far better tool for a stable empire and cultural system than the Pantheon or even Senate morality.