News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Commentary (4)

Monday, June 20, 2005

Commentary (4)

What I have been suggesting, perhaps not well at all, is in agreement with your basic contention here: all humans are born with an innate sense of self, which relates to an awareness of ourselves as ethical beings. We all have the potential to become ethical beings, which means to do the right thing simply because it is the right to do--sometimes (not always) even in defiance of custom and tradition. To be an individual means self-knowledge and awareness that one is not simply a product of a social, natural, or even cosmic system.

In this regard, what is unqiue about the modern age? I have tried to show several aspects to this uniqueness: scientific, political, and religious. Perhaps the "problem" is best summed up in the following: today, people do not accept the idea that they are born as individuals; self-knowledge simply means becoming conscious of one's place within a group or perhaps the natural processes; becoming an ethical being means learning some doctrine or some rules that exist outside one; being ethical is not assumed to be a universal given, instead one must be taught it in some way. This is contrary to the primitivity that accompanies the ethical--that is, we all know what is the right thing to do; we simply need to be reminded to search inside ourselves for an awareness of greater self that is related to an eternal principle that is the Good.

If you do not believe me, look at the many books and article on the scientific study of how we become ethical beings--the ethical is reduced to some kind of physio-biological process, and we can study this process in the same way we can study the behavior of rats.

For an artistic representation of the type of personality created by the extermination of ethical primitivity, take a look at a film called _Dahmer_, about the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. What this film does well is to depict the complete ethical blindness of this being. Every inborn sense of what is the right thing to do has died. Dahmer went to work, paid his taxes, blended in well with the rest of his society. In many ways, he was a model citizen. What comes across is his ethical and spiritual deadness. Everything is an object for him--he himself moves and acts like an object. There simply is no human feeling or individuality left in the person.

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