Re: "Morality?" - Composite Reply(To M. More)

Delmar England (
Tue, 14 Oct 1997 17:51:13 -0400

At 01:19 PM 10/12/97 -0700, you (Max More) wrote:

>However, when I now talk of "rational values" (not "objective morality") I
>mean values that are internally self-consistent and which are carefully
>reasoned out based on certain deep desires and goals that I believe most
>people share. If someone, after careful thought, genuinely does not share
>basic values of survival and flourishing, then I cannot argue with them.
>The basis of our ethics fundamentally differs. In that sense, morality is
>not objective or universal. Since I think that almost everyone, if they
>dumped their religious beliefs, would come to broadly similar ethical
>conclusions, I do think that ethics can be rational.
You qualify by quotes "rational values" indicating to me some reservation
about the terminology. Personally, I have a problem putting rational or any
other term, except, individual in front of values. I also have some
questions about "ethics and "rational." However, these are not the points
I wish to pursue at this time. Let's look at "values" and "internally
self-consistent." I'm particularily interested in the consistent part. There
are many volumes of writing of all sorts that go and on about values. Some
even talk about consistency. Unfortunately the consistency issue is usually
discussed only in an area restricted and bordered by "sacred ideas." The
inconsistency caused by these "sacred ideas" doesn't usually count as
inconsistency. Consequently, there is little recognition of and less
discussion of the fact that nearly all embrace a dualistic value system that
precludes consistencey. If we regard objective reality and truth as a matter
of consistency, I think you can see the significance of what I'm saying.

Have you ever heard a grieving mother whose son was killed in a war say: "I
am proud that he gave his life of his country?" She certainly valued her son
being alive, but at the same time, she valued her's and his contribution to
revered "Country." This is, of course, the extreme, but it is
representative. Are not "public welfare", "values of society", "debt to
society", "national interest", etc. everpresent in the philosophy of nearly
all? Does this not mentally divide mind into real self vs "ought self" with
a dual and conflicting value system?
Quite often, the conflict is not consciously recognized, but is manifested
in distanced events with no conscious connection made between cause and
effect. Nearly all claim to be opposed to initiation of force and coercion
even as they voluntarily support a governmental system whose definition and
essence IS initiation of force and coercion.

>>Ergo, "morality" is a concept of superior being and subordination of
>>individual. If I am mistaken about this, fine, show me and will appreciate

>If you wish to continue seeing ALL possible approaches to morality as
>anti-individualistic, I think you need to explain why this approach fits
>your characterization.

You are quite correct, sir; which is why that is what I have precisely been
trying to do from the outset. You, at least, see where I'm trying to go with
this, and why. You may not agree now, nor may you ever agree, but you do see
my target and ,in effect, say, "Show me." Terrific! I'll certainly give it
my best shot.

At this juncture, I am moved to interject a caveat of sorts and stand ready
to explain at length any issue raised by my inquiry and analysis: To say
that I am sensitive to language usage is the understatement of the
millennium. Nearly half a century of looking at this subject from more
angles than you can find in 27 geometry books has created this mental
condition. As a consequence, I may make declaration about language usage
that you wish to question. I just won't bother going into a detailed
explanation unless you do.

The first question that comes to mind is about the implied conclusion that
the term, morality, can be validly used to symbolize both individual and
anti individual philosophies. If the concept, morality, is based in the
real, it is absolute by virtue of this reference; and an absolute cannot be
qualified. It can't be part this and part that without an implicit
declaration that objective reality is in contradiction of itself. The
contradiction of "dual duty" shows up as contradictions in many places and
many ways.

>However, when I now talk of "rational values" (not "objective morality")....

I take it this means you reject the idea of objective morality as false. The
term, objective, is definitively equated with immutable natural law, which
in turn, stands as determining whether a belief is true or false. When you
put the term, objective (true) with the term, morality, and say false, you
have said that morality is myth. At this point, you are probably thinking
that its only "objective morality" that you reject, but still hold to
"morality" per se as true. Won't work. When you set "morality" against
"objective" (true), you have nullified the term from EVER representing
truth. How can you divorce a term from the very essence of truth and still
call it truth? By reference to what? (Do you catch the inference here that
if "morality" is true, it is necessarily objective, and that any claim of
"morality" as true, must necessarily defer to objective reality whether one
is consciously aware of it or not?)

In rejecting the term, objective morality, while holding that "morality per
se" is true, you abandon claim of objective discovery and implicitly insert
the claim of subjective creating. If the created "morality" is true, then
you must be the creator of truth. Aside from the obvious contradiction,
creating truth, do you see a potential problem - a rather large one? What
happens when your created "true morality" conflicts with another
individual's "true morality?" Does it cancel to zero? Or do you argue that
your "true morality" is superior to any other "true morality?"

Does this sound familiar? Since the concept, morality, has no objective
reference apart from subjective mind and feelings, there is no common frame
of reference and it makes little or no difference whether one claims the
"moral" to be individualistic, or another claims "moral" to be the "will of
God." It is simply a contemporary version of the endless arguments over what
is to be labeled moral or immoral. To put it another way: When you say you
reject the idea of objective morality, I take it you mean that they who
believe otherwise did not really discover their "moral values", but simply
produced them in accordance with personal beliefs and valuations. Isn't this
exactly the same thing that all do, even those who claim that individualism
is the "moral?"

This whole scene poses an interesting question: Those that presume to do
"God's will" in anti indiviudal fashion invoke the "natural and moral ought"
as psychological justification for these anti individual actions. Here, it
is clear that individual is subordinated to the "moral" by direct reference
to an alleged superior being. In a philosophy of individualism, what
purpose has the "moral ought?" Why is there such a struggle by alleged
individualist to lay claim to the term, moral? There is nothing to preclude
any individual from choosing and practicing individual oriented values
without any label whatsoever. (I know this to be true because I and a few
others do it.) Is not the dependence upon a "moral code" actually an anti
indivividual psychological subordination to a mysterious undefind superior
being something known only by a feeling of "ought?" If not, what's the point
of using the word, morality, and indirectly supporting the concept,
subordination, however it may be manifested?

You recognized my objective as showing that the concept, morality, is
inherently anti individual. I believe that I have exposed by definition that
the concept, morality, is indivisible; that it cannot simultaneously
symbolize individual and anti individual beliefs. No term can except by word
games in which the term is not anchored in objective reality. There is, of
course, much belief to the contrary as most are emotionally swayed by
linguistic declaration without questioning whether the language does or does
not connect to the objectively real, an absolute necessity to to determine
actual meaning. The tendency to blindly accept a subjective label or
arbitrary claims as an objective differentiation is an almost universally
accepted practice that's plays havoc with thinking.

In an earlier post, I pointed out that the common of all formal religions is
subordination of individual to an alleged superior being; that no matter
what the subjective label and claims of difference, the root objective
identity of each and every one is fundamentally the same. The same
observation applies to every governmental system with the common denominator
of initiation of force and coercion. The psychology of subordination is
clear in formal religions. The physical manifestation of it is no less clear
in every governmental system. Indeed, the concept, religion, and the
concept, government, are so epistemologically, philosophically and
psychologically entwined that all alleged and claimed differences vanish
when examined by the ordeal of definition. Whether an individual is
subordinated to "Jehovah" or "State" is of no influence on the outcome.
Another everpresent common denominator of "motivation and justification" is
the mythical "moral ought."

When we speak of subordination of individual to an expressed or implied
superior being, what is meant by the premise? What actually happens in the
psychological subordination that precedes the physical manifestation? The
answer is highly visible in formal religion and only slightly less so in a
governmental system: Real individual subjective purpose is displaced by an
imaginary universal objective purpose. In formal religion, it is called
"God's will." In a governmental system it is called "national interest",
etc. The "moral ought" is ALWAYS from an alleged superior being, expressed
or implied, admitted or denied
The term, ought, has no meaning apart from obligation; an obligation not of
one's own choosing, but claimed to be inherent in the nature of things.

I direct your attention to the key and operational premise of "morality"
regardless of what beliefs or claims exist to the contrary: The
psychological displacement of individual purpose. This is the root premise
of "morality." Since each individual, by nature, chooses an end desired,
i.e. a purpose, to consciously and\or unconsciously deny the existence of
individual purpose (whether we like of not) is a de facto denial of the
individual itself. It is not dealing with reality AS IS. I trust I need not
elaborate on the consequence of this error, since centuries of war and
endless violent conflicts explains it quite well.

Alas, perhaps you will say, "Tis true what you say of gods and governments
wreaking havoc by their moral directives, but this is a false morality. The
moral good can be achieved not by denouncing individual purpose, but by
recognizing it in a philosophy of individualism." This belief, held by
several, can be exposed as fallacy by definition and logical inference.

Apparently we have "good", but also the "moral good." I know of no singular
reality that such duality of alleged meaning will fit. What do these terms
mean, and why? Since I have already addressed this issue in much detail in a
previous post, I will be brief in the definining of "good."

Good and bad are hardly scientific terms. They are synonyms for suited or
unsuited to purpose respectively. Is purpose objective (universal) or is it
subjective (individualistic)? How does the answer definitively relate to the
terms, good and bad? If means are suited to your purpose, do you not call it
good? If means are not suited to your purpose, do you not call it bad? What
if your purpose changes? Could not the very means that a second before you
called good, you now call bad? Thus in reference to the identity, individual
AS IS, we find that good and bad are not constants, but infinitely variable
in step with the evaluation of means in respect of a specific indivdidual

What now of the "moral good?" Does what is designated as the "moral good"
change in step with the variable purposes of individual? Or have we
abandoned the real identity, individual, for another realm and change the
reference for the term, good? Can two such usages, two exact opposite usages
(individual vs non individual) conform to a singular objective reality?
Formal religionist point to "God" to answer the question. Informal
religionist point to "society", or "nation" to answer the question, but what
does an individualist call in to resolve the dilemma?

If you speak of the "moral good", is that which you call the "moral good",
"good" all the time? If it is a constant, "good" does not coincide with the
infinitely variable "good" that is found in individual identity. Thus we
must logically conclude that "moral good" is detached from individual and
attached to something else. What? If "moral good" is a constant, it can be
so only if it is tied in some way to an objective reality existing
independently of individual choice. It seems we have come full circle right
back to "objective morality" that was earlier declared false.

If you say that initiation of force and coercion is immoral, that it is not
the "moral good", on what you make the evaluation as well as valuation?
Doesn't this require that you hold the end to which the means is suited as
the "good?" So, now the pronouncement of good or bad is not referenced to
means as when individual was recognized, the "moral good" is now attached to
purpose itself. Thus is end itself shifted to means to some unnamed "higher

If you hold peace and harmony as the "moral good", are you not indirectly
declaring that any other end chosen is "immoral?" Clearly, such a position,
expessed or implied, sets the choice, peace and harmony, as the "morally
superior" over another end chosen by another individual. By virtue of what
is one chosen end declared the "moral superior" of another end chosen unless
it is expressed or implied that the source of this "superior moral value" is
likewise superior to human individual. Look familiar? We're right back at
the "objective morality" long obscured by word games. In short, the other
individual's end chosen is mentally displaced because it didn't fit what was
conceived to be the "moral good." Thus is the existent, real individual,
denied no less than in formal religion.

The issue is not WHAT end is chosen and set as the "moral good." The issue
is that ANY END is chosen and set as the "moral good." As illustrated above,
the choosing and setting of a "moral good" implicitly declares the "moral
good" to be constant (objective), and to be superior (superior being) over
the end chosen by individual. Thus does the myth of morality serve only to
propagate and promote anti individualism in literally every sphere of
interpersonal relationships.

Since most know little of the principles and workings of their mind, they
feel and thus believe, that if they consciously reject the idea of "gods and
governments" that's the end of it. I'm afraid it isn't. Though one might
think that talk of the subconscious and subconscious directives is a lot of
mumbo jumbo, I assure you, it is quite real.

If someone says, "I have the moral right to defend myself", what are the
logical inferences of such a declaration and feeling? Does this not indicate
the receiving of a sanction (right) to act? From whom, or what? If one feels
the need to justify even the action of self defense, is not the
psychological subordination of self to some named or unnamed superior being
obvious? What's the source? Whether it does or does not have a name, it is
the same source that sanctioned an end chosen as the "moral good" in denial
of real individual.

Thus, once more, I am obliged to conclude that "morality" is myth, and as
myth is in opposition to real individual and a philosophy of individualism.
The manifestation of myth is always end results exactly opposite of
consciously declared intent. Ergo, all "moral arguments" are merely preludes
to battle.

Having been down this road a few thousand times, I knew from the git go that
to assert that "morality" is myth is to encounter nearly infinite resistance
and probable hostility from some quarters. So, be it. I'm not out to win a
popularity contest. I'm out to promote individualism and attack as fallacy
anything and everything that stands in the way of it. If it requires
trampling upon "sacred ideas", this is not reason to hesitate. I function
from no "moral dictate", just personal choice.

>>Ergo, "morality" is a concept of superior being and subordination of
>>individual. If I am mistaken about this, fine, show me and will appreciate
>Delmar, way back in the first issue of Extropy magazine (in1988) I wrote an
>article called "Morality or Reality" in which I took a position like yours.
>While I still agree with much of what I wrote there -- especially about the
>way in which what most people call "morality" is ungrounded and
>anti-individual -- I no longer find it an adequate view. I agree completely
>with you whenever morals are founded on a higher authority, whether a
>mythical god, an earthly leader, faith, or a false philosophical idea (such
>as found in Kant).
After examining the foregoing, do you still hold that the viewpoint you held
in 1988 is the same as mine that I express and imply in this post? If so,
and you found error in such a position and abandoned it, I would be much
obliged if you would point out these parallels and any parallel errors you
might discover.

Delmar England