link: moralism

                        TRADITIONAL CONCEPT OF MORALITY: 'MORALISM':

 Concerning the supposed dichotomy between freedom and social responsibility: "How is a social life possible for man if each one is only striving to assert his own individuality? This objection is characteristic of a false understanding in moralism. Such a moralist believes that a social community is possible only if all men are united by a communally fixed moral order. What this kind of moralist does not understand is just the unity of the world of ideas. He does not see that the world of ideas working in me is no other than the one working in my fellow man. A moral misunderstanding, a clash, is impossible between men who are morally free. To live in love towards our actions, and to let live in the understanding of the other person's will, is the fundamental maxim of free men."( Steiner, R. Philosophy of Freedom: Philosophy of Spiritual Activity. The Basis for a Modern World Conception. Some Results of Introspective Observation Following the Methods of Natural Science. London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1970 139)

theme: In the paradigm of traditional education,moral education (value education) is considered in terms of rules for behaviour or moral codes i.e. 'moralism'.

the morals or 'ethics'.  

 distinguish between 'moralism' and 'morality'.

Belief in the absolute evil of human nature American culture is based on American 'nationalisn' and formulated in terms of the abstract ideals upon which the Americans founded their 'nation'. American nationalism combines the ideals of democracy with belief systems which are derived from reductionist science, capitalism and Protestantism as the source of the American concept of morality or 'moralism' formed on the basis of their profound mistrust of human nature...

According to the moralist belief in the absolute evil of human nature, virtue is the suppression of the inherent evil of human nature. Virtuous people suppress their inherently evil nature and social communities are possible only if all people are united by a communally fixed universal moral order. Questions concerning values and the 'good life' are formulated in the context of the view that man's basic nature is evil.

Morality based on external authority The American concept of morality is based on the understanding that morality is based on external authority. This leads to formulation of codes of ethics' i.e. 'authoritarian ethics'. the development of a conscience which is deformed because it is derived from the internalization of an external authority - parental, societal or state authority 'authoritarian conscience'. The authoritarian conscience is the voice of an internalized power... is irrational because it is based on fear for the authority rather on the intrinsic conscience from which natural value judgements arise.

As representing the authoritarian conscience, moralism is based on the assumption that human nature - the so-called 'animal nature' of human nature - is fundamentally evil and that instinctive human needs - the so-called 'animal instincts' - are dangerous and base and therefore 'immoral' and not to be trusted... a historically determined tendency in Western culture.

Dichotomous perception of human nature in the American Constitution The belief in the individual's innate evil nature is derived from the notion that human existence involves separate material and spiritual realms. The 'natural' and 'supernatural', the person and 'God', are disconnected. This conceptual dichotomy between matter and spirit was incorporated into the 'scientific' worldview which originated with the scientific revolution of the eighteenth century's so-called 'Enlightenment which had its roots in orthodox Protestantism. The scientific worldview had a more optimistic perception of human nature which had a profound influence on social and political thought.

 When the American founding fathers framed the American Constitution, they envisioned a humane and democratic society attainable through a rational scientific understanding of human nature. Their belief in God-given 'unalienable' rights produced a 'natural rights philosophy' in spite of their basic mistrust of human nature. Consequently they set up institutions for controlling and suppressing the human instincts which were not trustworthy. The result of their dichotomous perception of human nature is the perception of so-called 'moral dichotomies' and 'dilemmas'. The concern for the 'good life' as an issue of philosophy and religion leads to a so-called moral dilemma - how to reconcile the freedom of the individual with responsibility to the society.

Concept of 'values' in the paradigm of moralism In the paradigm of American moralism, the word 'values' is used to refer to the values which were 'taught' by Christian religions. The values of moralism are derived from Protestantism. The search for morals is based on the notion that goodness results from the suppression and repression of the immoral instincts of human nature. The basis of the moralistic attitude towards human problems is the mistrust of human nature which stems from the Fall/ Redemption myth of orthodox Christianity which was adopted by the Protestant Calvinist and Puritan movements. According to the myth of the 'Fall/Redemption' theology of orthodox Protestant Christianity, the 'original sin' of Adam and Eve - their disobedience of God's command not to 'eat of the tree of knowledge' - resulted in their 'fall' from God's grace and was inherited by all human beings who were born after them. Each human infant brought into the world is tainted with sin and is therefore inherently 'evil'. As a 'child of sin' each individual must suffer in this life and depends on God's 'redemption' for an afterlife without suffering. The evil impulses of human nature cannot be trusted and must necessarily be restrained. Each individual is morally responsible for restraining and controlling his own evil impulses and those of other people as well. He must depend on the authority of strict codes of civil law, social mores and ethical standards. Those individuals who abide by the codes are considered to be 'moral' and can teach and preach the moral life. Those individuals who are unable to restrain the evil part of their nature must be 'punished.' People have been taught that the inner life is a natural consequence of the evil which is inherent in human nature and they must look outside of themselves for the guiding values of a 'good life'. Theologians attribute the human values to a source outside of human nature - some sort of god, sacred book, ruling elite, or ruling individual. Attempts to make moral what is believed to be immoral have produced the dogma of moralism.

Theology is overdependent on dogma, revelation and supernaturalism. Philosophy denies the authorities of dogma, revelation and supernaturalism. Philosophers have no authorities. In their search for values, philosophers build a philosophical system which is built on a premise. In the traditional paradigm of philosophy, philosophical debate has been concerned withn the struggle to discover and to live the good and virtuous life. The best example of this quest is Socrates

The question remains: "which premise?" One of the most basic problems of philosophical thought is concerned with the formulation of a premise of a philosophical system of values i.e. whether human nature is basically evil and corrupt or basically good and perfectable? If human nature is basically evil and corrupt then the problem is 'how to make people virtuous'. For centuries the attempts to formulate philosophical systems of ethics have been based on the mutually exclusive contrast between 'what is' and 'what ought to be.' As a consequence, many cultural institutions are set up for the express purpose of controlling, inhibiting, suppressing and repressing this original human nature. The individual is expected to rely on external authorities of strict codes of civil law and 'ethics' for the guiding moral principles and the values of moralism. In the context of American society and moralism with its profound mistrust of human nature, individuals are unable to trust their own human nature and their own humanity as well as the humanity of others. The life of the intellect and the quest for self-realization are not valued. The natural development of moral and spiritual self-reliance is discouraged. The life of contemplation and meditation is misunderstood and devalued. The spontaneous and self-expressive behaviour of the natural human being is repressed. The impulsive, intuitive and emotional aspects of human nature are restrained. True spiritual freedom is considered undisciplined and punishable. Social problems are perceived in terms of the individual's personal moral failure. They are resolved by discipline and the rule of law. They are not understood in terms of inherent deficiencies of fundamental institutional practices. Social reforms are perceived in terms of the individual's moral responsibility. They are not understood in the context of necessary institutional changes. This dichotamous perception of social problems results from ego-centered mental processes of the 'incomplete cognition' of a distorted neurotic perception of reality derived from conflicts which are inherent in the culture...and which inhibit growth for complete personality integration and spiritual independence of maturity.

The immature mind  The immature mind is the product of thwarted human development. The ego-centered mental process and incomplete cognition of the immature mind results in the perception of dichotomies. Making a judgment about human nature creates problems. The perception of social problems in the framework of this false premise results in failed attempts to resolve them. Problems arising from the same dichotomies can be resolved in the wholistic paradigm in which the concern for the 'good life' becomes an issue of morality and is based in biology and psychobiology of the humnan organism. The so-called 'animal nature' of human nature is not evil. The notion is false. No single set of moral standards or uniform code can be applied to all people. The imposition of moral codes only creates complex, intractable moral dilemmas.

What if human nature is basically good and perfectable? The intelligent resolution of social problems is derived from a non-judgemental premise which is based on the scientific understanding of the biological basis of human nature. Human nature and human needs and values are biologically based. But traditionally people have ignored the validity of the instinctive needs for growth - the spiritual needs or 'metaneeds' - as well as the basic psychological needs. Throughout human history theologians, political philosophers, economic theorists and even behavioural psychologists have conceived of strategies to deny and avoid peoples' needs. They have considered peoples' happiness in terms of improving their conditions with a view to eliminating their human needs because they were thought to be annoying or threatening. But it is recognition and respect for basic human needs which leads to the resolution of human social problems. Social mores evolved in accordance with inborn biological necessity and environmental contingencies by a process of natural selection. As survival oriented values, the guiding values which have been sought and prescribed by religions and philosophies - the values of truth, goodness, beauty, justice honesty and so on - are found within a person's consciousness... they are part of the individual's natural sense of moral responsibility to lead their own lives according to the same values.

Implications for education In the wholistic paradigm of education, the individual strives not only for complete psychological, emotional, intellectual development but for complete moral development and personality integration as well. The aim of education is growth in the context of spiritual freedom based on trust of the individual to develop a personal sense of moral responsibility. The integrated individual is responsible to him/herself and to the society of which she/he is a member. In the context of growth for spiritual freedom, dichotomies disappear. It becomes possible for the individual to be 'free' and to be socially responsibile as well. Social responsibility is not possible without inner spiritual freedom.. 'freedom'

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