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Monday, 12 March 2018

Beliefs and (im)morality

A recent Big Think article caught my attention: How we know right from wrong without God or religion. I prefer a slightly different angle: would we know right from wrong without philosophy or religion? Hence, the title of this blog: beliefs and (im)morality.

In my view, Religion is a derivative belief from Philosophy, its origin. I assume that the people whom we now regard as prophets, were originally viewed as teachers or philosophers (positive) - or rebels (negative). Morality is ingrained in both Belief systems.

The 7 virtues and the 7 deadly sins (a.k.a. capital vices) are relevant to (im)morality.

My diagram compares my concept of the 7 Belief systems with these 7 vices and virtues.

The diagram has good matches, apart from my yellow markings.

Remarkably, honesty is not a virtue and neither is dishonesty a vice. Hence, the yellow marking on the Truth highlights my doubt regarding my alleged match. The Belief system Religion feels like a similar mismatch given the relevant virtue and vice.

It's tempting to see animals as examples of morality and humans as examples of immorality because humans kill for fun. Unfortunately, various animal species also appear killing for fun (a.k.a. surplus killing): bottlenose dolphins, housecat, fox, leopards, hyenas, gorillas, lions, chimpanzees, stoats, honey badgers, elephants, wolves, and caracal (eg, Ranker, Wiki).

Britannica: "Parasitic plant, plant that obtains all or part of its nutrition from another plant (the host) without contributing to the benefit of the host and, in some cases, causing extreme damage to the host." Wiki: "About 4,500 species of parasitic plant in approximately 20 families of flowering plants are known."

Neither immorality nor morality appear to be the default option in Life or Nature. There seems to be a correlation between the complexity of the brain - or consciousness - and (im)morality. In her 2016 book  Thinking evil, the  German philosopher Bettina Stangneth attributes evil - or extreme immorality - to human thinking (my 2017 blog).

Human (im)morality would then be the consequence of a more complex brain than other species. This may also explain the extreme opposites within the 7 Belief system, like Money (charity vs greed), Philosophy (equality vs supremacism), or Politics (utopia vs authoritarianism).

Money, not morality, is the principle commerce of civilized nations. A quote by Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), 3rd American President.

Note: all bold and/or italic markings by LO unless stated otherwise