News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Moral Certainty

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Moral Certainty

What is it about public life that makes morality uncertain? I suggest that people have been reduced to relying on the private sphere and have found that their own doubts and lack of certainty require something beyond the simply subjective mode of consumer culture. The public sphere/life is non-existent, as some sociologists suggest. What is there is a demand for total conformity, but with conformity comes the insecurities of the modern workplace. When loss of your job is simply a corporate reenginerring away, and management decisions appear to have little or no relationship to goals that have anything to do with personal tasks or even group goals but are instead determined by algorithms and human decisions based on the results of algorithms, the moral effects on one's psychology are terrible.

How can one teach virtues that require some form of social stability in a world that promises neither economic or social certainty? So people attempt to find it within the family, but even there one finds only uncertainty and doubt as consumerism and mass media fantasies deteriorate the family bonds of mutual affection, including respect for authority and lasting bonds of affection based on natural love.

So, perhaps people look at an otherworldly basis for security. Yet, the uncertainty afoot within the social sphere is just as liable to give rise to authoritarian forms of govt. as they are of socio-cultural authoritarianism. The problem with a church filling this vacuum is that it provides an ersatz form of certainty based simply on the illusions of 1) tradition 2) Bible or 3) a simply charismatic personality.

In this moral incertitude, laid bare to a searching soul for certainty, church will offer a form of conformity that appears to be counter-cultural but ultimately provides only one more form of institutionalized conformism.

The point here is to learn to be educated by the scorching winds of uncertainty and to find God in the hurricane of desolating leveling. The originary chaos returns one to a primitive awareness of oneself as a being in need of a higher, transcendent reality. But if one gives in to the social forces that is simply another way of rejecting the voice of God.

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