How modern people, living without rules, still think that there are rules
In connection with Woody Allen’s famous remark that it was ok for him to have sex with his mistress’s daughter and adoptive sister of his own son, because “the heart wants what it wants,” it is fairly common for men with liberal sexual views to state that “People can’t help falling in love, and you can’t help feelings of attraction,” and, “If you have an affair with someone who is married, then their marriage couldn’t have been too strong to begin with,” and, of course, “if it feels good, do it! People are way too hung up on outdated moral standards that nobody ever followed anyway!” It’s always fun to ask these guys if they think that it would be OK for them to have sex with their brother’s wife, fiancee, or daughter, if she was extremely attractive. They are shocked by the very suggestion of it, but they can’t explain why.
The first couple of times that I saw one of those afternoon TV shows where they do DNA tests to figure out who the BabyDaddy is, I was stunned. Men and women who had lived lives of relentless promiscuity were SO ANGRY to find out that their paramour was “cheating.” But if there aren’t any rules to start with, how is it possible to cheat? If you think that the Bible is a joke, how can you consider your promiscuous “partner” a sinner?
What this shows, I think, is that human beings have an innate and inextricable sense of what is morally right and wrong, even if they freely disregard it when it suits them personally. They know that it is wrong when an injustice is done to themselves, but they haven’t generalized that sense of injustice into an impersonal system that applies to everyone equally.
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James P. writes:
Human beings have an innate and inextricable sense of what is morally right and wrong, even if they freely disregard it when it suits them personally. They know that it is wrong when an injustice is done to themselves …
I am reminded of a quote from John Cremony’s Life Among the Apaches:
The American savage is no idiot. He knows right from wrong, and is quite as cognizant of the fact when he commits a wrong as the most instructed of our race. If the reader should feel a particle of doubt on this point, all he has to do is to commit a wrong upon an Apache, and he will very soon become convinced that the savage is quite as much aware of the fact as he can be.
It is even criminal to contend that they do not distinguish the full difference between the two qualities. Their dealings with each other, and their conduct toward other races, prove that they do, and to an extent almost commensurate in this respect with our own system of morals. The capacity to discriminate between right and wrong is not the exclusive property of Christianized people. It obtains with almost equal force among barbarians and heathens, for otherwise communities could not exist. Whenever the Apache commits an act of atrocity, he does so with design and intention, and not from any ignorance as to whether it is a good or bad deed.”
In George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman and the Redskins, this is paraphrased as, “if you think an Apache can’t tell right from wrong, wrong him and see what happens.
Max P. writes:
You wrote, “What this shows, I think, is that human beings have an innate and inextricable sense of what is morally right and wrong, even if they freely disregard it when it suits them personally.”
Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 20, 2012 03:37 PM | Send
I agree with this statement. And I think it is because of this aspect of human nature that groups or institutions that profess to live by a moral code, such as the Boy Scouts or the military, are attacked by liberals, who presumably support freedom to live and let live, because their very presence is a reminder to those liberals that there is something morally wrong with many of the positions they support. Thus, they cannot allow those groups to remain in their present form lest liberals will begin to feel bad about themselves.