The idea of morality is idea of wise human and wise humanity – idea of a person in peace with oneself and with others, which has overcome his own silliness, and the silliness of the society. Which has overcome his own hate, fear, urges and the hate, fear and urges of the society.
By taking such view of objectivity of what is moral one can throw away any relativism as opinion of those who are not wise enough to accept wisdom, without bothering much with rational claims and logical proofs which limit themselves on level of simple concepts which can’t “grasp” the level on which concept of morality makes sense – the holistic level of the life in society with all its delicacies which is far away from a simple formalism based on simple concepts.
For sure morality has to do with such “simpler” concepts like needs, pain, pleasure, believes, thoughts, and so on… but moral behavior isn’t just simple sum of those, it isn’t some aggregate in which those are glued one to each other by rationality. Morality is connected to the being whole of the person, being aware of all those things and in which those appear merely as more or less important parts. Morality is taking the human in its whole as he dwells in the society. As such morality can be handled only by ethics, or by such philosophy which has came to give picture of the human and humanity in its totality.
As a holistic comprehension within oneself morality is more intuited and felt, then constructed and logically believed, and is accessible for the most learned ones as much to those who are not learned at all.
This doesn’t mean that behavior is not to be discussed and criticized, but such talk has value only among people who want to do what is right, who have already got to the level where they got to be moral person, and which now trust each other in wanting to do the good thing, not because doing so is rational thing to do, but because it is connected to that holistic and wise comprehension of what is to be human in a society.
5 thoughts on “The inaccessibility of morality to philosophical theories”
However the opinion you have expressed above is a philosophical stance on the nature of morality. This defeats your assertion that morality is inaccessable to philosophical theories, since the statement is itself a philosophical theory about morality. (much like the relativist who claims that “there are no true statements”)
I guess the post is philosophical, but it isn’t supposed to be a theory, just an observation and thoughts based on intuitive understanding of what is it to be moral, and comparing that state to a possible explanation/theory which would reduce it to few basic principles glued together through speculation and formal logic.
I don’t think morality is unapproachable by philosophy in general, you don’t even have to be philosopher to talk about morality, what is wrong or what is right, and so on.
To put it in simple principle… if you want to show that you understand what is moral, don’t talk – just act morally.
It would be easier even to other people to understand what moral is, or why to become moral – on intuitive level.
Ah, but how do you know your intuitive sense of what is moral is correct? Many criminals / evil men have thought that they were doing the right thing. Maybe they could have benifited from a little philosophical reflection. I think that saying “do whatever you think is right” is a very dangerous position to take, especially since some people, such as clinical sociopaths, literally have no sense of what is moral.
Thanks for the response Peter,
I’m not saying that the principle “Do whatever you think is right” is valuable moral principle, on contrary I don’t believe in that or any other of relativistic ethics. As for the criminals and clinical sociopaths, I wonder if they do in fact wonder of the morality of what they do. Their actions is on level where the anger, hatred, fear, and any of those emotions that “cloud” the mind are brought forward.
I accept the value of ethics in discussing what is better thing to do, and what is worse, but the morality of people can not be reduced to this, it is in the end intuitive ‘feel’ of the people who want and who care about doing the right thing, and not some theoretical principle (e.g. utilitarianism) which should and will be taken as basis of moral action.
So to say… you can have a ethical theoretician which would be perfect in the rational explanation of some principles, but which might be much less moral then a person who don’t know philosophy.
Maybe I should be more precise then, that I don’t want to say that philosophy can’t access and discuss the questions of what is right or wrong (in absolute way), but that it can’t provide theoretical ground to morality, which would stay to be based on the personal intuitive “wisdom”.
Well philosophy can’t provide a reason to believe in logic either. One can always argue that we believe in logic simply because of our psychological intuitions. (psychologism) However that doesn’t invalidate the study of logic, nor does it mean we can’t provide reasons why people should be logical if they want to achieve some end. Likewise philosophy can study what ethics is and provide reasons why people should be ethical if they want to reach some end, such as happiness or a harmonious society. One could also then study why people have an inclination to be ethical by studing why sociological / evolutionary pressures would push for such intuitions, given that they lead to certain ends.