Whence Morality

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Whence Morality

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  • Whence Morality

    Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc.

    Caleb Gattegno

    Newsletter vol. XIII no. 5 June 1984

  • First published in 1984. Reprinted in 2009.

    Copyright 1984-2009 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. Author: Caleb Gattegno All rights reserved ISBN 978-0-87825-319-7 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. 2nd Floor 99 University Place, New York, N.Y. 10003-4555 www.EducationalSolutions.com

  • If we place Man within the overall evolution of life we are faced with the challenge of tracing back to earlier species what has become associated with Man. We can easily do this on a number of observable behaviors such as moving, mating, feeding, which are animal behaviors. We can even find that protecting the young, gregariousness, play, belong to Man and other mammals; that creating a shelter, making reserves for hard times are also shared by Man and other animals.

    But, Man distinguishes himself from other creatures, and speech is one of the most commonly cited distinctions though modern zoologists are able to find definite means of communication within some species. Means in no way comparable to Mans speech but widening our perception of the third realm and making our perception of it more accurate.

    Is the expression of Mans morality also an evolutionary trait which has its roots in the third realm? Or is it totally sui generis?

    To this question we devote the main body of this issue of our Newsletter, the last of Volume XIII.

    The News Items, as usual, are at the end of this issue.

  • Table of Contents

    1 The First Three Realms Are Void Of Morality .................... 1

    2 Morality And Conscience .................................................. 9

    3 One Evolution Of Ones Ethics......................................... 19

    News Items......................................................................... 27

    1......................................................................................................... 27 2 A Week In Australia .....................................................................30 3 A Week In Japan .......................................................................... 31

    A Stop In Tokyo .......................................................................... 31

    Teaching Real Beginners At The International Buddhist University Near Osaka...........................................................33

    The 3-Day Seminar In Osaka ..................................................... 35

    Microcomputer In Education.....................................................39

    4 Two Days In Seoul, Korea ............................................................39 5 Two Stops In Honolulu ................................................................40 6 Newsletter Renewals .................................................................... 41

  • 1 The First Three Realms Are Void

    Of Morality

    Once we ask the question of the origins of morality we find ourselves in front of the immense emptiness of the prehistoric times which left behind no traces or evidence of the sources of ethical behaviors. Twenty or so thousand years of records may in fact, be the furthest we can go back, to look for human origins.

    Unless we select another approach and test it for reliability on the basis of consistency with other components of human evolution, we are stopped altogether in that investigation.

    Two years ago, an issue of this Newsletter (Vol. XII #1) was devoted to the question of the origins and evolution of language. Our personal approach let us find a more plausible path towards those origins and evolution than any other proposed until now by the various human sciences mobilized by that search. At least, such was our conclusion. We can try again this time taking as our field of study the origins of morality.

    * * *

    One implied assumption is that every reader of this issue would know at once what a moral stance is and how to distinguish it from all other stances. We shall not define in the beginning, what morality is, either with words or with examples. But, we shall aim at reaching a definition

    1

  • (in the manner done in optics) of moral behavior or behaviors, by the end of our examinations.

    What we must first clarify is that we have a way of working which increases the chances in our search for the origins of morality of our finding something of value for everybody.

    * * *

    In our studies of human problems, we always refer to Man as of the four realms: the cosmic, the vital, the behavioral and that of consciousness. In fact, Man is seen by us as belonging to the cosmos because he is as much atomic and molecular as the rest of the cosmos; to belong to the realms of life because he is cellular like plants and animals; and to belong to the animal kingdom because he has behaviors. But Man is only molecular when dead and returned to the earth; only cellular, when seen as a physicochemical system as he would be if brainless or under perpetual anesthesia or in a perpetual coma; only animal, if he is identified to a finite and given constellation of behaviors.

    As soon as one hominid became aware that he was aware, Man made his appearance on earth.

    Thus, being of the first three realms makes Man belong to the total content of the cosmos, while to make him different, a new attribute is needed: awareness of his awareness is our proposal. By this definition of Man, we are satisfied that we account accurately for what all scientists taken together, demand in order to be able to speak of human facts. At the same time, we preserve the links with the obvious three realms, carefully and extensively studied for four hundred years in the Western Civilization, and we give Man his autonomy, so as to account for what the sciences have not yet learned to do when they handle the extreme variety of individual human behaviors.

    Individuality is not specifically human. In fact, it belongs to all the realms, from particles to Man. Through individuality, evolution can

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    Whence Morality

  • work, and in all the realms. But, relativity is also needed, as much as evolution, to comprehend what is happening and has happened in the various universes into which men have looked. Both evolution and relativity are needed to account for change and variety, for the supreme importance of the individual in the processes of change and variation. Already in the first three realms, we can find foreshadowed to certain degrees all the objectivations found in the study of Man. For years, this Newsletter gathered examples of that and we shall not add much here. The method has recommended itself by allowing us to make a number of valuable contributions to human education and epistemology.

    In the case of the study of morality, will it continue to serve us as well as it did in the case of memory or economics, for example? The title of this article states that we shall not get much help from looking at the first three realms which we say are void of even sketched outlines of morality.

    If this is true, then Man will be entirely responsible for the existence of morality in the universe and should accept that responsibility.

    But is it true?

    We can say that the sun has been good to life on earth. That the size of the earth and its distance from the source of its energy (the sun) was right for life to appear on earth. That, the availability of billions of years in the cosmos was precisely what was needed for viability to be tested and made to continue in harmony with all that which coexists in the world. That balances have been found between the conflicting tendencies formed by wanting to survive by absorbing others while this applies to oneself as well.

    We can see affinity among atoms which unite to generate new entities capable of doing more together than the atoms separated. We can see dynamic equilibrium between constituted molecules and constituent atoms. We can see architectural stereoscopic equilibrium of large molecules accommodating constituent molecules. This already in the cosmos or first realm.

    3

    1 The First Three Realms Are Void Of Morality

  • We can see parasitism or symbiosis between species and specialized functions within one species for a number of its members as forms of attention to the other; the first, to exploit it; the second, for one to take on what the other cannot do and leave to the other what one does not do so well; the third, foreshadows social behavior. Insects tried several ways of increasing the species survivability by creating classes for its members; specialized classes according to what they do for the species. The workers, the soldiers, the queen (and its fertilizers), seem to have found their condition and function right for each of them over hundreds of millions of years: none feels exploited, none needs to rebel and leave the group Workers and soldiers know how to cooperate so as to do together more than anyone can do alone, and are ready to sacrifice themselves for the common good, seen here as the survival of the queen which carries the genes of the species in their eggs.

    We can see pairs of animals being companions all through their lives, while others live in groups in which one male serves a number of females, others are not choosy and mate with anyone and not necessarily for reproduction.

    If we see animals using plants as their nourishment and others only subsisting on animals, occasionally we find that they eat their young, they destroy some of them, refuse to care for one or more if these walk out of a territory the parents consider their own; ignore totally an offspring after a certain age when for a long time it s