To Question Or Not To Question?

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with Project O

This is my reply to a fellow Project O contributor on the question of… well: questioning.

To Question Or Not To QuestionDear Nellie,
Your point was a brilliant one, and that man ought to be ashamed of trying to stunt your questioning mind.
Teachers are supposed to provide a safe environment where their students can thrive, rather than use the classroom to enlarge their own (in some cases already overblown) ego.
You made a very important point and it is worth some additional thought: “Morals are ever changing, how do we ever truly know what we think is right?”
To question is an integral part of our humanity.

Being self-reflexive, as you were in this case, is how we strive for autonomy (self-government and therefore freedom!).

And yes, our norms and values are in constant flux. There is nothing that is sacred, that is: nothing is beyond being questioned.

As history advances, we ought to always ask ourselves: Are these norms, values, moral guidelines – if you will – inscribed in our laws and institutions, are they still valid? Do they offer answers to our most important questions about society, politics, economy, culture and… [make your own addition here]?
Hope you keep questioning, whether there are tyrants around that try to stop you or not.

Nellie Moriarty:

“My sophomore year of high school I had a teacher named Mr. Slater. He thought his teaching was open-minded but in reality he simply taught from a different viewpoint. A viewpoint that was just as narrow minded everyone else’s. So one day when in his class I had an idea that differed from his, a simple seminar turned into a ridiculous shaming proved by Mr. Slater. The worst part was that the other kids worshiped him simply because he was different. I’ll never forget my point now: Morals are ever changing, how do we ever truly know what we think is right?”

10 thoughts on “To Question Or Not To Question?

  1. I remember ethics in college. I still shudder at the thought of having to participate in the ‘discussions’, which turned out to be soap-boxes for mindless rants on what shaped our moral. I wasn’t brought up in a religious home, yet they hated me for having a firm moral backing without the religion involved. I believe that society has a firm hand in shaping our morals in the Roman times it was perfectly acceptable to have a young-male companion for soldiers after the battle, not that would be wrong and criminal. Times change and so do our beliefs.

  2. If one subscribes to the concept of natural justice, then there must be fundamental principles that are time-invariant.

    When viewed from an external frame of reference, how can an action be moral in one age and immoral in the next?

    I am inclined to attribute much of our advances in “enlightened” thinking to narcissistic self-delusion.

    • If one subscribes to the concept of natural justice, then one would be correct in adhering to the principles you indicate. And yet, one does not subscribe. For only Gods and Non-human beings (such as animals for example) adhere to a framework that is time-invariant. Us humans, we have an advantage over both. We can change, and we do change. And so does the world we create, with all its laws, norms and values. Our view of the world is immanent. Even the greatest of philosophers could not fully step outside. External frames are little more than attempts at full detachment from the world, but ultimately they are illusory. Morality itself is the creation of humanity, a way to make sense of chaos, an exercise in organising it. And since our world is in constant flux, the morality of one place and age will always differ from that of another. Hence…what is moral in one age will not be so in some other, although that may or may not be the next.

      • Crossed swords, it would appear. I consider rape to be morally vile, and that this immorality is time-invariant. Same with murder and human sacrifice.

      • If you look back in time however, you will find times and places when each of your examples were not considered immoral. Each would’ve been defined in somewhat distinct ways so that what we call rape and murder today was not seen so by a different people in a different age… not so long ago. And there is to consider too the issue of murder which is self-legitimised by the state. It makes the dead no less so.
        I am only glad that we live in an age where these atrocities are less of a common occurrence.

  3. morals not only seem to change with the seasons of the sun but also seem to be dependant on where we are.
    for instance even now in the 21st century, there are civilisations where morals are unknown to us, for instance the lost tribes of South America and we can only guess whether their morals would agree with ours. i like to believe that their morals are superior to ours.
    being in a first world country such as England makes us no more moralistic. ok, we think of murder etc as wrong, which is good, but we see people destroying nature through pollution with barely a pause of thought. morals here seem to revolve around humane actions, which is nothing more than a cover up.
    how is it morally correct for shops to throw food away when there are hungry and homeless people?
    how is it humane to kill creatures and dispose of the parts that are not economical but perfectly useable; or humane to bury our rubbish instead of using less and recycling more?

    • You make some very good points, TwinCentaur. How indeed? This is in part what I was trying to get at in my answer to navigator’s comment. Thank you for your comment 🙂

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