Are Moral Principles dispensible?

“The greatest tragedy of mankind is not the existence of evil
It is the failure of mankind to recognize evil as evil.”

“The greatest tragedy in human affairs is not the perpetration of evil
It is the acceptance of that evil as a pragmatic necessity”

The main issue in this debate is what is evil.

When Pragmatic considerations precedes moral principles as conclusive in deciding right action or thought in human affairs, it will be a sign of fatal human weakness leading to an impending tragedy. The base standard in assessing human affairs of right and wrong are moral principles. The highest standard that must be a non-negotiable base because it is the yardstick for society. The diversity and complexity of human personality and thought and the severe limitations of human sentience received and extrapolated via sense perception renders dogma as a necessary starting point for intellectual development. The dogmatic nature of morality though rooted in human intentions and good faith defies technical definition and a practical method. This is the reason why human morality should not be compromised to facilitate practical expedience – even when lives are at stake. For me it is simply a cop-out – a cowardly surrender to practical or sensual gratification against what is good and right. The meaning of human existence is lost when morality is sacrificed at the altar of pragmatism.

Necessity or ideals? The best of peoples who are immortalised in human history are principled peoples of highest moral standards.

In this short transient life we have many considerations and choices to make. We have to live with the consequences of the choices we make. The fact that we have to make those choices on morality in itself is something worthy of thought because that should not be the case. There shouldn’t be any wranglings about morality.  Moral principles should never come under scrutiny as something that should be considered as dispensable when we as human beings are required to work on that very basis to establish meaningful societies.

Ethics – now that’s negotiable because it is specific and technical code derived from moral considerations. It is essentially the interpretation and codification of moral principles to be applied over practical issues like genetic engineering, medicine, communication, engineering etc. What goes on in life is acceptable so long morality is not offended. The ineffable morality could only be broadly codified as ethics to enable meaningful conduction of human affairs that establishes a standard way of doing thing to prevent abuse of a socio-cultural or economic system or the unravelling of the fabric of which.  It’s like an operating system in a PC. The base mechanism in which something functions meaningfully and that alone defines it’s practical worth. It is the moral relationship of doing something vis-a-vis propriety.

Is a pimp who supports a dozen prostitutes with food, money and lodging a good man? A thief supporting his otherwise impoverished family from ill gotten gains? It looks like a no brainer but as sad as it is, we still argue about such issues when there really is none from a humane standpoint. So it actually becomes a matter of the need to be humane or not

So now the question is what should propriety be and what base should be applied for the determination of ethics? Hard cold mundane considerations that everyone can immediately identify with or the nebulous concept of morality that everyone feels and knows but find it hard to practice let alone understand it?

Do we sacrifice principles in the face of expedience? Should adherence to principles be contingent upon circumstantial expedience or should principles be non-negotiable? Is expedience good enough a reason to abandon one’s principles? Are moral principles really dispensable in the face of a practical emergency? Is nothing, other than mundane benefits or loss, worth fighting or dying for? Do principles count for anything at all?

The true test of human worth, as differentiated from animals, is not the number of people one feeds but how did you go about getting the food. Was there a violation of human morality in the process? We have to make choices that are practical as well as moral. But the line on thought and action must be within moral ideals. The barometer of right action and thought should have it’s base in non-negotiable moral considerations. It does not matter if people follow or don’t follow, but they must know that what they do is wrong nonetheless if moral laws are violated. 

When there is one soldier who has fallen behind the battalion, the whole battalion must not leave till the one soldier is safely with the troop – even if it means sacrificing the entire battalion. That is the highest moral ideal. When a decision is made to abandon all consideration for that one soldier, because it puts a hundred other lives in danger that is a pragmatic consideration. You cannot but feel an intolerable compunction pinching the heart, the scar of which that will never go away when a decision is made to abandon the soldier. When the highest ideal is moral only then compromising it for other considerations will be seen as a weakness in human judgement and resolve. There is no meaning in human existence when being humane is secondary.

We live in a world that not just tolerates moral decadence as necessary for progress but actually condones it in the name of human rights, democracy, the right to “self-determination” (whatever that means). It is indeed a humanitarian tragedy when humanity loses it’s moral high ground in pursuit of short-sighted, practical, tangible or mundane gains.

Since life is short and transient it almost makes no sense (if at all) to have lived when such myopic considerations take precedence.


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