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For What Cause Should Man Be Moral? (Moral Philosophy)

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--So this was a short response I wrote up in regards to the Myth of Gyge's Ring (I would suggest you read that story before this if you have not, or I fear much of the meaning will be lost upon you). I wanted to sort out some of my ideas and opinions of Ethics and Morality, and I think this helped a lot as, some astute readers might notice, I reference a lot of Existential thinkers along with Epicurean themes throughout, which turn out to be very closely related to my philisophical opinions and beliefs. Give it a read if you're interested in this sort of stuff, it's a bit long so I apologize in advance for my ramblings.--

For what cause should a man be moral?
It is true, that if a man were to receive a ring with power equivalent to that of the ring in the Myth of Gyges, that such a man would be easily persuaded into forgetting society’s definition of what was Just (if it were poorly defined) in his own self-interest. It would seem that any man who feels his best interests are not being represented by society would choose to commit unjust actions in order to experience what he has been deprived of by doing so. However, it would stand to reason that in this case, the man who finds himself with the ring is not actually at fault, but rather society would be for crafting moral codes that overlook true Justice. What I mean is this: if a man is discontent with his life and it is due to the constraints placed upon him by society’s moral code, then the society has chosen to uphold the false beliefs in this code. So say, in this society where a man would be tempted to use the ring to better himself, a code stands that a man may not leave his wife after marriage, regardless of how spiteful and base their relationship has grown over the years. Would this man not jump at the opportunity to escape this fate if an avenue were to be presented to him? Would any man not jump at the chance to leave behind something which causes him harm in order to find that which might make him more whole, that which might give him happiness? And who would say that pursuing one’s happiness is in anyway immoral, so long as it does not hinder others abilities to also experience happiness?

What I feel would restrain a man from using the ring from the Myth of Gyges therefore is contingent upon poorly erected moral codes, and poorly formed social contracts. Man seeks happiness, and if a man truly knows his definition of happiness, he would similarly know it is not something that can be grasped in his hands, nor taken from another’s. It is purely intangible and unique to each man, though many other truths allow for a man to experience happiness. This belief speaks of morality in a way similar to Plato, saying – in my opinion – that man’s. If there is any struggle to find happiness, it is because the society that the man lives within is preventing him from finding what truly leads to happiness. An example of this might follow as such: in the myth, it is said that Gyges seduces the Queen into taking him on as her husband. In essence, Gyges has spoken to the Queen’s mind, for he has spoken words that have led her to believe she indeed loves him, when in truth there is no true emotion or feeling of love experienced. Love could be seen as an intangible part of what attributes to true happiness, which a wise man will know cannot be held nor stolen. If one is loved, it is because another holds the feelings in their heart, not because their mind tells them to. While words and kindness can lend to a greater and stronger love, it cannot create it alone.

It would stand to reason that most men would desire to feel loved, whether we look at it romantically and at the feelings which cannot be described, or if we look at this more scientifically. In terms of this latter option, we could look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, wherein we find that companionship and acceptance from others falls into the third most important slot on the road to self-actualization, or happiness. To have someone who thinks they love you is not to have any real companionship at all, for eventually their head will be persuaded just as easily that they no longer need you. In this matter, it would be said that Gyges has no companionship, and therefore is not able to go beyond this step towards happiness. In essence, by lacking true companionship, it is unlikely he will ever achieve happiness, and a man who knows this will see the ring as worthless.

Should we look at love in the way of the romantics, channeling our inner Goethe or Cummings, we would again find that Gyges does not experience the phenomenon these two giants speak of. The passion that might come with his seduction would fall to the grey area of lust rather than to love, because ultimately we cannot convince another of the reasons to love us, it is up to the heart of an individual to choose. And in this same way, in our romantic interpretation of love and companionship, Gyges himself feels no love for he has only used his powers in order to seize a throne that does not belong to him and will never truly be his. Again, the ring has not helped him find happiness, and a wise man would still find no use for the ring.

As such, it would seem clear and acceptable to conclude that Gyges does not act immorally because he is unjust, but rather because the society he lives in is not structured correctly. The structure of his world and the beliefs they hold do not align with the truths and therefore, Gyges acts in a way in line with these beliefs. He is unaware however that the truths are intangible, thinking power and money are the highest goods a man can hold, when in fact these bring him nothing. In a society where men give up certain powers and abilities, such as the ability to kill or steal as wanted – leaving behind the state of nature – to achieve happiness, then there will truly be moral men and Gyge’s ring will hold no power over anyone. But first, it is necessary for the society to accept that the material does not hold the truth and they must then dedicate themselves to finding the self-actualization that leads to their happiness.

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Updated April 8th, 2016 at 03:32 AM by Greyson

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  1. Plasticweld's Avatar
    Interesting topic. I do find a few holes in your logic based on experience. I will use that as a measure rather than a moral code so that it makes my points a little more subjective.

    From personal experience in dealing with other who practice abhorrent behavior. "any practice that involves 10 percent of the population" and with those who deal with either selfish or harmful behavior "drugs, alcohol, promiscuous behavior"

    As someone who has done Christian counseling I am always amazed at those that are tore up by personal guilt, whether the deeds are known by others or done in secret that anyone of sound mine does not ever feel comfortable for long when what they have done either harms themselves or others. Even people who steal for a living always seem to have a reason to justify their actions. Very few people acknowledge their flaws, they all see the fall out from it. I can honestly say that most behavior that is suspect causes someone to feel as though it is eating them up inside.


    It is common of course for anyone to have the perfect excuse for what they doing. I was born this way, I am weak, it was an opportunity, they deserved it.


    I have seen no first hand experience of society causing the grief but inner turmoil and guilt regardless as to whether their action are known or not.



    As far as experiencing love, you can only really feel love if you love another first.


    Short on time but will get back to you...Bob
  2. escorial's Avatar
    we all want to be loved and listened to...just two things that could change so many lives out there..
  3. Greyson's Avatar
    If you get a chance to compose a response of your own, I'd love to read it thanks for checking out my thoughts and letting me know your own, that's the way we can grow as people and the only way philosophy can live. I look forward to your response.
  4. Greyson's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by escorial
    we all want to be loved and listened to...just two things that could change so many lives out there..
    No doubt about that. Love is one of those things that I think is objectively powerful enough to unite people and create change. Who knows what one act of love can set in motion?
  5. escorial's Avatar
    sid james a british comedian was driving through piccadily and he saw tony hancock another famous comedian looking miserable and desperate..he lost him in the crowd and the next he heard was he was dead in australia..he commented it's often the little things that can change a life and regretted missing him just to say hello and can i help.....
    Updated April 10th, 2016 at 06:28 PM by escorial
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