Tuesday, September 27, 2011

East and West

In most times and in most places, the group was seen to be the essential moral unit. A shared religion defined rules and practices. Cultures structured people’s imaginations and imposed moral disciplines. But now more people are led to assume that the free-floating individual is the essential moral unit. Morality was once revealed, inherited and shared, but now it’s thought of as something that emerges in the privacy of your own heart.

If It Feels Right - NYTimes.com

While the author laments the disappearance of the group as a moral unit in favor of individualism in the West, there still too much of it in the East. While the individual freedom prevails in the West, this same freedom is curtailed in the East. Neither condition is ideal. A happy middle of personal freedom and morality will hopefully emerge one day East or West.

1 comment:

Jacques said...

I agree that religion used to be the source of "rules and practices". We must be gratefull to religions for setting sets of rules and practices at a time when mankind had little alternative sources. Philosophers of the XVIII century suggested that mankind could elaborate rules and practices based on the fact that human beings can only live in society and thus need rules and practices that allow to live with each other. It precludes harming anyone by the exercise of my own freedom. Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote his book "the social contract" on that base. The beauty of this approach is to open the door to a set of rules ans practices that is recognized to be produced by human beings, thus non-perfect, "criticizeable", rather by "God", i.e. those who claim to speak on His behalf, insisting that their word cannot be challenged because it is God's. Please not this is valid for any religion: we have christian integrists (about 100) demonstrating every evening in front of the "Théâtre de la Ville" place du châtelet, a theater where a stage play of an italian writer is shown, which they estimate lacking respect to the christian faith.