“I fully subscribe to the judgment of those writers who maintain that of all the difference between man and the lower animals, the moral sense or conscience is by far the most important”
Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man.
Is it the phase of moral degradation of society?
To even attempt answering this question we have to first arrive at a definition of morality. The first question is are we clear as to what it is? In the study of ethics morality has been defined from two perspectives, personal morality which is what you feel from your conscious as right and social morality which is what the society as a whole feels to be right.
While the origin of personal morals are very simple and pure dictated by only one basic dictum that is innate nobility of the human soul. A person may be a criminal but he will always know from deep with that he is wrong unless he is a psycho. Social morals however are not so, they evolved for the singular reason that is to control man, to tame him so as to allow sustenance of society. In its essence it too is noble, for society too is a need of humanity. We wouldn’t have evolved to this juncture without this structured organisation called society. If I am sitting here and typing this, it is because someone else is cooking for me. Not everybody can be thinker and scientist, but they all in their own ways help in sustenance of the society and evolution of mankind as a whole. It is however difficult to conclude from here that social morality is right in all its perspectives. The sad part of the society is that it was not formed best logic of will full cooperation and subordination, with reverence to human soul and its spirit. For most part of the history it has been dominated by mystiques and brutes, the purpose of the society was to serve mankind as a whole but it ended up serving a few who had the power and intellect to manipulate the rest.
It is for these lacunae in social morality that I consider personal morality as a far more superior guideline to judge whether you are right or wrong. There are many such arbitration in the social code of morality that has no logical support to its stance except some vague religious dictums or traditions that a society has been following from time immemorial. This article Honour Killings….the Ultimate Price Women pay for the False Male Ego is an apt example of how unjust and harsh these codes of socio-religious morality can become.
Of the many such debatable issues of conflicting personal and social morality I would like to discuss here the issue of sexual morality. The sexual liberation of the modern times has been largely viewed as a serious moral degradation of the society at large. On the issue of sexuality and our sexual needs, first question is whether it is our need or of the society. I believe that all of us would agree that we have sex not just to produce kids, to refurbish the human resource. We have it because we need it, nature made us so. I have a deep reverence for nature, for I believe that any need that nature instilled in us has a purpose and is innately good. The society in its primitive from had put in a lot of restriction on sex. The first reason was If sexuality is liberated it would have killed the institution of marriage and therefore the society. Models of these societies were all very authoritarian/ tyrannical where men were expected to have a very high quotient of obedience. As we evolved we slowly moved on into more democratic and cooperative models of society where the quotient of personal responsibility and maturity and free volition outweighed any kind of socio-religious adherence or obedience. Many a moral codes of conduct however were just borrowed from the old model of society which obviously has no space for these individual freedom and volition
The new world order as was dreamt by philosophers and intellectuals is slowly coming to reality. It is for sure that if you refer to the old book of social morals we would find ourselves morally degraded, but if we believe that at least now we are living in a free world free society, then society must start existing for man rather than vice versa. We need to rework on our studies of ethics and come up with better a moral code which cater for needs of a man and gives him/ her freedom to seek what they desire as long as they are not harming the society at large. A society that respects man as an entity, his rationales his intellect and his judgement and the innate goodness in him.
There used to be a time when it was moral to burn wives down alive on their husband’s pyre (Sati). Is it today moral? Will all of us call our change in perspective as moral degradation? How can those women think of another man? What is wrong in free sexuality, if it is forced, it is a rape then it is wrong because you are violating the will and independence of another person. Is homosexuality wrong? I think no, not at all because it is volition of individuals, it is what they need what they desire. It is thus I feel that we need to rework on our books of ethics, make our moral codes more humane and Man friendly. And that actually is Moral Evolution.