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Can one be moral in a secular society?

PLAN
Aristotle and Thucydides, Edmund Burke and Aquinas, Cervantes
and Thomas Mann
Points:
1. OED: 'Moral:' 'Of or relating to human character or behaviour considered as
good or bad'.
2. There is no objective morality, it's relative and subjective. Even if one does
believe in a divine being, they are reflecting their impressions of the world on an
entity. And even if said being really has told them, then they are still operating in
a world where different beings believe different and subscribe to differing codes.
Morality is a relative concept as Spinoza outlined:
PROP. VIII. The knowledge of good and evil is nothing else
but the emotions of pleasure or pain, in so far as we are
conscious thereof.1
3. The binary system of 'good and bad' only exists if you want it to. If that is
'one's' morality then they are able to obey this in a secular society.
4. A secular society is better, in utilitarianism model In a religious society
presents a more pious system, human nature - Blake: Prisons are built with
stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of Religion. In a secular society. The
character, Mr Jones in Victory (1916) by Joseph Conrad, expresses his despair to
Heyst:
"Laugh as much as you please," he said. "I, who have been hounded out from
society by a lot of highly moral souls, can't see anything funny in that story []"
5. Therefore

In practical, existential terms this might well be


considerable, so that the effective boundary between black
and white, between good and evil, was drawn some distance
from the theoretical boundary. This
watershed was the penumbral zone where the majority of
the quickening pleasures of life were to be found, and where
Renthall was most at home. Mrs Osmond's villa lay well
within its territory, and Renthall would have liked to move
himself over its margins. First, though, he would have to
assess the extent of this 'blue' shift, or moral parallax, but
by
cancelling the committee meeting the Council had
effectively forestalled him.
J.G. Ballard - 'The Watch-Towers' (1962)
1 Benedict de Spinoza. On the Improvement of the Understanding. (New York:
Courier Dover Publications, 2012), p.202

Blake: 'Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of Religion'.
The character, Mr Jones in Victory (1916) by Joseph Conrad, expresses his
despair to Heyst:
"Laugh as much as you please," he said. "I, who have been hounded out from
society by a lot of highly moral souls, can't see anything funny in that story []"

Spinoza outlined:
PROP. VIII. The knowledge of good and evil is nothing else
but the emotions of pleasure or pain, in so far as we are
conscious thereof.2
In practical, existential terms this might well be
considerable, so that the effective boundary between black
and white, between good and evil, was drawn some distance
from the theoretical boundary [] First, though, he would
have to assess the extent of this 'blue' shift, or moral
parallax, but by
cancelling the committee meeting the Council had
effectively forestalled him.
J.G. Ballard - 'The Watch-Towers' (1962)
This idea is understandably attractive for those who wish to live a 'better' life and
so there is an association to pleasure. Those who 'give up' a pleasure for a
festival such as, Lent or Ramadan, trade another feeling of pleasure, usually a
more fulfilling one, because they have experienced pain and moved back to
pleasure. . Spinoza's seventh proposition states that 'good and evil' are simply
'emotions of pleasure or pain'.
Even in a Ballardian world of blurred boundaries
One can obey their own moral code in any society, of course, even if their
prospects, and even life span may be shortened.
especially if one also believes in an objective morality. These conditions allow for
this frame of perception to be tilted at an angle of a slippery slope, which if
2 Benedict de Spinoza. On the Improvement of the Understanding. (New York:
Courier Dover Publications, 2012), p.202

viewed for too long can cause false-consensus effects, self-aggrandising and
contempt for those who do not abide by those laws. The initial pious reverence
conducted at the top of the Mountain of Meaning, can quickly snowball into a
frozen pile of pious self-deception, if one loses their footing. The desire to change
the world so it is aligned with a morality is