Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Just Individual - v

As I discussed previously, morality's basic block is empathy which originates from 'self pity'[ii]. Since the mechanism of empathy requires few traits and faculties[iii], this empathy and in turn morality need not be unique to human beings. There are studies that have observed empathy and/or morality in other animals too[i].

I have also observed that, in some situations, empathy can turn to oneself  when the empathy to others results in loss to self[iv]. Then the person considers the greater morality in his/her self-preservation as the self-pity to himself/herself masks everything else. Therefore, morality has its limitations because of its underlying empathy mechanism. However, some of the religions have adopted morality of this nature as a noble way.

The famous story of Jesus rescuing a woman from an angry mob by invoking self-pity of people for their own sins and making them feel guilty for not empathizing with the woman is a wellknown case here. Even though not a rational way, it's still acceptable since it rescued a non-criminal powerless woman from a certain death.  However, even today, many, even among rationalists, unquestioningly, take this story as a guiding force of morality.

Just the other day,  I read a journalist deriding the movement against corruption as one set of corrupts fighting other set of corrupts. He makes a fundamental mistake that politicians or bureaucrats are as powerless or non-criminal as the woman in Jesus's story. More importantly, it's also lost to the journalist that it's a ploy to rescue a woman who was obviously not guilty. However, the story is lost but contextless generalization of one sinner condemning the other is left.

In another development, I read a person invoking 'cast the first stone' in a discussion related to a news that ministers in Karnataka were caught watching porn in the Legislative Assembly. The self-pity gets so strong here that the legality aspect of watching porn in restricted areas gets lost.

Thus I believe morality is a primitive trait. It anyway doesn't set us apart from other animals (Why do we have to bother about that point anyway?) and it also has its limitations. Therefore, logically, if humans want to really make themselves unique then they should be just. Justice cannot be decided by individuals because the morality of an individual for the self overrides it. Justice is a communal morality. It directs rightful empathy towards an individual even if it meant displeasing the morality of communities. So, it's a communal morality for the sake of an individual.

An individual is a just person if s/he subscribes to this communal morality and ready to condemn herself/himself in certain situations.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Dubious Term Called Westernization - VI

Gandhi over enthusiastically embraced some of the Europeans' views on national identity , vegetarian fadism and non-violence to further his own notion of Indian identity. One such view was from Chesterton.

When I see... the views of Indian nationalists, I get bored and feel dubious about them. What they want is not very Indian and not very national... Suppose an Indian said: 'I wish India had always been free from white men and all their works. Everythign has its own faults and we perfer our own.. I prefer dying in battle to dying in [a Western] hospital.. If you (the British) do not like our way of living, we never asked you to. Go, and leave us with it.'
            Supposing an Indian said that, I should call him an Indian nationalist. He would be an authentic Indian... But the Indian nationalists whose works I have read and go on saying: 'Give me a ballot box. Give me the judge's wig. I have a natural right or be Prime Minister. My soul is starved if I am excluded from the editorship of the Daily Mail.' Even the most sympathetic person may say in reply: 'What you say is very fine, my good Indian, but it is we who invented these things.'
 The problem with Gandhi and Chesterton was that both make a fundamental mistake of creating a national homogenous identities bordering on racial identity. This identity has its own unique characteristics. This is absurd. In this case ,Gandhi's intellectualism doesn't look better than Anna Hazare's.

The 'we' in Chesterton's doesn't even apply to all people that he would identify with. If the inventions are so unique then they don't even have to bother about others claiming it because the others would have natural disability to own them. Now, since that is not the case, it is obvious that the ideas can spread across human groups. And we also can see that the dominant cultural strain can suppress these ideas in certain regions. However, it would be fallacy that few people in other region would not have thought about those 'inventions' in the first place.

So, Gandhi's quest for an Indian identity was flawed from the beginning.

1. Mohandas, by Rajmohan Gandhi