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Reason, emotion, and morality

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posted on Jul, 26 2010 @ 05:10 PM
There is an obvious connection between "feeling" (i.e., emotion, but also other forms of inner sensation) and morality. At the same time, it seems that moral behavior is impossible without reasoning and rational thought of some kind. This thread is intended to explore the tangled relationship between reason and emotion in relation to morality and ethics, in the widest sense of these terms.

Most people (sociopaths and psychopaths aside, perhaps) seem to navigate ethical territory using a combination of emotion, reason, tradition, precedence, and in many cases perhaps other factors such as ethical codes, spiritual factors, legal knowledge, personal proclivities, etc.

To be more specific, I can often "feel it in my gut" when something is ethically wrong, but other times I cannot. Or, I've noticed different people may have very different "gut reactions" to the same situation.

Another thing -- it seems to me it is easier to feel when something is wrong, but much harder to know what the right thing to do to correct the problem is. That is, identifying moral problems seems to involve a very different mental process than solving them. But its not black and white -- both reason and emotion are used in both cases.

I'd be interested to hear any thoughts on this rather broad topic. For example, do you think much about morality and agaonize over it, or are you fairly comfortable with your ethical choices (whatever they may be)? Would you say you approach morality more analytically or emotionally? To what extent do make use of moral "codes" (such as organizational or religious codes, etc.)? And so on. Feel free to take this discussion in any direction.

posted on Jul, 26 2010 @ 06:30 PM
If I could just remark "ditto", I think I would! But I guess not.

I've always thought I've had an almost independent entity, which has an intelligence of it's own, almost like a "compass" or bell which sounds loudly when something is immoral, or particularly, unethical.

It's like it let's me know when something is off base.

But again, ditto on the knowing when something is wrong, but struggling with what is the best action to take to correct the problem, and that is a different matter.

But I'm thinking, is it something I feel on an emotional level, or something I'm zapped with as a mental process.?

Probably both. Moreso the mental process, I think. However if I saw someone kick a dog or strike a baby, no doubt I would react on an emotional level. But mostly the bells go off in my head.

posted on Jul, 26 2010 @ 08:36 PM

"i'm a reasonable man: get off, get off, get off my case."

- some song by radiohead

there is of course a melody which goes along with this lyric. i repeat it to myself almost daily as a type of a mantra.

the best form of society, IMO, is anarchy. the only way for anarchy to work is if every single person in the society is actively engaged in comparing/contrasting their own point of view with others around them. in such a case, there is no pre-determined right or wrong.....and there is no need for it.

i am a reasonable man. i dont need your stupid rules.

get off
get off
get off my case.

posted on Jul, 26 2010 @ 09:17 PM
i see morality and ethics as two totally separate ideas. i know that they both work in the realm of our actions and decisions, but to me, morality is the superficial version and ethics is the true core of "right" action.

morals are concerned with what impression one's actions will make on others, observers, colleagues, etc. even if we don't see it as that way, it is. the proof of this is that we all know that what is considered moral behavior in our present time and place is NOT what was considered moral at various other junctures of time and place. the one that comes immediately to mind is the Puritan age; the dark ages were spent in another very different moral climate.

ethics are concerned with what is always there, whether everyone's looking or no one is looking. ethics do not change with the times or with fads or in sync with "fashion."

morality is personal as well as group-oriented, but is primarily concerned with self - such as "if i do this, will i get in trouble?" or "will i lose my job, my friends, my home?"

ethics are strictly personal but are not concerned with self in the same way. ethics ask "can you live with this decision?" and "will you be able to look at yourself in the mirror, tomorrow?"

in other words, morals are ruled by the reflection your actions cast off of others around you.
ethics are ruled by the reflection of yourself, within yourself.

not all ethical people are seen by their society as "moral." and not all moral people are ethical in their actions.
someone who is ruled by ethics might very well be "amoral."

not immoral but amoral, meaning they have no morals. this doesn't mean their actions are detrimental or harmful but rather that their actions are not ruled by the opinions of others.

i have more to add, shortly, that more directly answers the OP - but i wanted to lay these ideas out, first.

posted on Jul, 26 2010 @ 11:24 PM

Originally posted by silent thunder
do you think much about morality and agaonize over it, i spend time thinking about my own morality?... sometimes... to excess?... no... other people's morality?... sure, if they give me reason... do i agonize over my own morality or lack thereof?... i did once but it took nine months before the agonizing part started, lol...

Originally posted by silent thunder
or are you fairly comfortable with your ethical choices


Originally posted by silent thunder
Would you say you approach morality more analytically or emotionally?

...naturally - meaning, sometimes i'm a pain in the butt analytical freak - and - sometimes i'm very emotional and couldnt analyze my way out of a paper sack if both ends were open - and - sometimes i'm a mixture of both - and - sometimes i dont give a hoot...

Originally posted by silent thunder
To what extent do make use of moral "codes" (such as organizational or religious codes, etc.)? you mean someone else's codes?... well, i have to abide by many of societies codes of conduct because laws have been passed to remove my freedom of choice in some areas...

...organizational code?... like T&C here on ATS?... gotta respect those codes if i wanna play here... its really no different than going to someone else's house and abiding by their standards so you can have a pleasant visit...

...religious codes are an entirely false paradigm... ethics, codes of conduct, integrity, laws, morality existed LONG BEFORE religions were dreamed up... when religions came along, they laid claim to what was already out there and said their god(s) or phrophets gave 'em that code or law or tradition or whatever...

posted on Jul, 26 2010 @ 11:47 PM
Morality is subjective and based on what one group or person feels is beneficial .

For example , we would never call an AMerican moral after he and a few friends stoned his wife for allegations of adultery. However if we grew up with an Islamic law set and morality we would find this act praiseworthy.

Trying to define a true basis for morality is just like trying to find a true basis for reality. Perception changes each every time they are perceived.

posted on Jul, 26 2010 @ 11:52 PM
The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."-Gal5.14

For why should my freedom be judged by another's conscience?-1Cor10.29

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