Thursday, October 24, 2013

"objective morality"

In contrast to some of my own observations about "objectivity," I found myself posting this on a Buddhist bulletin board this morning ... a sort-of response to a question about "objective morality:"

Sometimes I think objectivity is just the intellect's means of positing god without getting all squishy about it... a resting place, a nesting place, a place of credible and creditable certainty... an imaginative place in which to reap the benefits without doing the work. Another control mechanism.
The struggles involved in something like "objective morality" are endless and probably represent misspent energy. Why waste the time when you could waste the time more productively?

The practice -- that's practice, not theorizing -- of Buddhism walks its students through the matter of morality. It's not a matter of "shazzam!" or "just turn to page 367 for the answer." Practice puts meat on the bone of encouragements like "don't kill, steal, lie, etc." No longer are such encouragements simply ethical, make-nice baubles. With practice, they are simply what makes best sense in terms of a happy or peaceful life ... NOT because anyone else says so and NOT because Buddhism says so but ... just because.

As Shunryu Suzuki once observed more or less, there are things to-do and there are things not-to-do. That's all. Practice makes sense of what others might call "holy" or "wise" or "moral." There's nothing especially elevated about all this ... it's just a matter of getting your own ducks in a row.


  1. Is it possible to be objective or dispassionate? Can such objectivity and dispassion be applied to moral decisions and actions.

    The short answesr are "off course." The long answers are "off course not."

    It's like "Perfection." Can one strive for "perfection"? "Of course!" Can one be "perfect"? "Of course not!"

    Therefore, given the particulars, one can choose to do the best one can.