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This is the page that explores a moral code based on TRUTH!
John is standing on a "ball."
You see him standing there.
He says to you, "Hi, I'm here standing on a cooked chicken!"
Right away you know that one (or more) of certain things are true:
Moral codes down through time have long taught us that you should not lie, that you should tell the truth. What is truth? What is a lie? WHEN should you tell the truth? Is there such a thing a a "small" "social lie?" Does telling the truth include being a witness on crimes you observe? To whom? What is REAL? These are not simple questions -- they call for some insight into these words and the philosophy of morals. How do you "build" a moral code? Is it just a compilation of what the common man thinks is "right" or "wrong?" Do we take a vote? Who does the compiling?
The philosophical question of "what is truth" is not to be found anywhere on the web. Click here for the proof of that statement.
Is "truth," rather, some words from God, heard by Moses, then chiseled into stone, brought down from the mountain, but now lost? But, remembered by hundreds of different people who "saw" the stone, but don't have a copy, only a memory, and down further through "oral tradition" for some thousands of years to Gutenberg who invented a printing press and put those words on paper for us????
The "Big Three" moral codes are based on religious concepts -- Christian, Jewish and Muslim. They have a great deal of workable advice within them, but there are problems there too. None of these three religious groups have escaped periods of time of great inhumanitarian treatment of others in the name of their moral code. It would appear that a moral code from these sources has not prevented these same groups from visiting harm and death onto those with whom they disagreed. Even a disagreement on whether the earth was flat, or not, was sufficient disagreement to cause execution of the heretic.
Just now the Muslim religion is much in the news. How would you feel, assuming you are NOT Muslim, about having a moral code that approves of this:
The latest validation of this cause ("legal" killing of a non-believer) came with the arrest in early November of a Tehran university professor named Hashem Aghajari. The professor called for "a progressive religion rather than a traditional religion that tramples the people." For advocating that followers of Islam should be able to think for themselves, he was sentenced to death. (source)
Building a moral code is far more complex than it might appear.
The Mormon religion is well thought of, I think. I am not a Mormon, nor have I studied this religion, but I respect it, admire it, but then I recall from my studies in the philosophies of the world's great religions, in college, such as the following.
Religions rooted in the necessity to provide a divine explanation for natural chemistry, biology, or other material science -- such religions very often find that their religious dogma has been overturned by modern science. If their original moral code included any of this dogma, there will be a period of years while the Religion denies science, then finally caves in. The Mormon religion may well be fine for Mormons, but when a Mormon becomes a genetics scientist, and disagrees with the religions dogma, any moral code based on that religion ceases to be a universal moral code.
Still, a devout Mormon can choose to ignore science, and prefer his religion. I have no quarrel with that.
The suburban Seattle college professor recently published an essay using genetic science to prove American Indians didn't come from ancient Israel. Mr. Murphy says local church elders ordered him to recant the academic article, which challenges a basic tenet of the Book of Mormon. He refused, and a disciplinary hearing was set for Sunday at which he says he expected them to order him excommunicated from Mormonism. At the last moment, however, the elders postponed the hearing following massive pressure from many of Mr. Murphy's supporters, who had pledged public protests across the country.
"Apparently I don't believe the way they want me to believe," says the lifelong Mormon with a master's degree in anthropology who is chairman of the department at Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood, Wash.
The attempted purge of Mr. Murphy, which coincides with at least two other current expulsion cases, revives one of the Mormon faith's harshest rituals just as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is on the upswing. With its global membership topping 11 million, Mormonism is among the world's fastest-growing Christian sects. The church also is still basking in glowing reviews of its contribution to this year's Olympic Winter Games in Utah, where Mormon leaders turned out legions of cheerful volunteers and prevented members from proselytizing or interfering with the Olympic party. The man who headed up the Games, a prominent Mormon named Mitt Romney, got so much bounce from the event he was just elected governor of Massachusetts. (source)
So-called Catholics in America should wake up and smell the reality of their descent into moral relativism. Truth is NOT what someone votes on. Morals have too often been based on popular opinion -- thus the morality of our culture continues to descend into relativism. The new Pope continues the fight to rescue his own Church from moral bankruptcy. Here is a revitalization of every culture when one of the World's Great Religions reaffirms Church teachings. You don't have to believe in, or agree with Catholic theology or morality --- but you can unite in condemning moral relativism! (Source)
If I am right about this common sense moral code, a Catholic, Muslim or a Mormon could adapt it as their own. They could "add" to it, anything they wish, but this one basic code would be acceptable to all -- thus serving as a common source of agreement on earth, thus a simple source of bringing peace and harmony to all people. For a hint of how well this code is actually accepted, here in an earth of warring religions, click here. Here is what one student said:
"Mahreen says that although the book is written in a very simple Urdu, one has to concentrate on the reading otherwise you won't be able to able to fully understand it. The book is simple but the meanings are very deep. It is not written on any religious base but she feels it is very close to Islam." (source)
For instance, a few inches below, is the question of what SHOULD be the fundamental principal on which the code is based.
Who Is Subject To A Code?
A related question is "To whom should a moral code apply?"
Should it apply to individuals? Only? Groups? Only?
The moral code espoused on this web site is NOT a moral code to apply to any group, but to individuals only.
When you start to say, "That 'group' over there is not moral!" you are really in trouble, because a group is always made up of individuals, and the "code" of any group can only be made up by agreement of individuals to that code. It could be called 'moral code,' but perhaps it is more often called a "code of ethics."
Medical doctors have a "code of ethics." All doctors are supposed to abide by it, but more importantly than that, all individual doctors are expected to live by it. You begin to judge the group by the actions of one member.
This moral code does NOT suggest you judge any group, by this code or any other, but judge individuals.
Even though THIS moral code is intended to be universal, you would not expect every person to live by it, and would not judge all of mankind based on the behavior of any one who deviated from this common sense moral code. After all, not every one uses common sense!
This is obviously also true for a group. If you look at a group and assume that the GROUP has a moral code, you are really saying that some number of individuals you have looked at each seem to have the same moral code. To this degree it is a group thing, but there will undoubtedly be some members of that group who don't have the same moral code as others.
It is not easy to hold yourself back from judging some group, but I suggest to you that it is important to do so. Judge individuals, as you wish, against some moral code, but not groups.
So when a group pronounces the immorality of another group, there are many possibilities for mischief. I do not intend to get involved in any such. This code applies to one individual at a time.
There is a mess prominent in the news around now. Here is a quote from the Wall Street Journal:
The more important challenge consists in the fact that not all moral questions deal with individual conduct. Whether originating in religion or philosophy, the great moral questions in the West have paid far less attention to personal wrongdoing and far more to issues of war and peace, or the possibility of justice.
"Based on the facts that are known to us, we continue to find it difficult to justify the resort to war against Iraq, lacking clear and adequate evidence of an imminent attack of a grave nature," stated the U.S. Conference on Catholic Bishops on Nov. 13 2002. The bishops left open the possibility that American actions could prove to be compatible with Catholic just war principles; if President Bush continues to consult with the United Nations and build an international coalition, he need not worry that his actions will turn American Catholics against him. Still, it is significant that Catholic bishops, who seem confused and uncertain when it comes to the morality of sexual abuse and cover-up, speak with one voice on the immorality of pre-emptive war.
Catholics may not be America's only religious group made uncomfortable if the president eventually opts to wage war without just cause. During the Vietnam period, Jews tended to oppose the war and evangelical Protestants to support it. That pattern could reverse itself in Iraq. Jews, worried about Israel's survival, can be found among the war's strongest supporters. And evangelicals are no longer the Bible-thumping, pro-war zealots of the liberal imagination; throughout evangelical colleges and seminaries in the U.S., Jesus' injunction to turn the other cheek is widely cited and nervousness about American intervention pronounced.
The quest for justice is as murky as the search for peace, but it does not require an Immanuel Kant to recognize that Jack Grubman's efforts to use his connections to win admission to a preschool for his children violates just about every standard of justice to which Americans have adhered. In so doing, his actions raise another issue of moral concern that Republicans may find hard to manage. Americans have long accepted the principle that for a society to be just, it need not be egalitarian, one reason why a tax cut does not arouse shrieks of indignation. But Americans do believe that everyone should have an equal chance to succeed should they possess the energy and determination to do so. The more examples of favoritism and insider-trading that hit the news, the greater becomes the challenge of convincing Americans that, morally speaking, all is right with the world.
As with Iraq, the Bush administration can take steps to avoid positioning itself on the wrong side of a moral issue by repudiating those who abuse principles of fairness. So far, however, the president has shown little inclination to play that role. If he continues to preside over the return of gilded-age politics to America, he may find himself facing a religious revival, this one directed not at the conditions of personal salvation, but at the need for social justice.
America has become a better country because we no longer sweep moral issues under the rug. But once we start talking about whether homosexuality is a sin, we cannot stop because the discussion shifts to whether violence is justified or human potential wasted. Now that the Republicans control all branches of government, Americans of all political persuasions can look forward to some of the most serious and sustained discussions of morality we have ever had. (source)
The moral code HERE speaks of the behavior of individuals, not groups. Groups form, of course, because of some sort of agreement within the group -- and often that will be agreement on some moral concept. But, recognize that it is the INDIVIDUAL who holds that view, and should be judged, rather than the group.
We can win the war of morality by asking individuals to become more moral. They will then leave those groups, if there are any, where most members agree on this same immoral behavior. The "sex club" or "Bay Couples" or the "San Diego Swingers?" You won't change the "group," but people within the group can change. Attacking the group? For "its" morals? Not a likely path for success.
Go after the individual and convince one at a time, that HIS or HER specific moral standard needs to be changed. You do not attempt to change the group. The influence of the group will whither as it loses adherents.
Fundamental Principle For A Moral Code
Even though your moral code is going to apply to individuals, not groups, there is still the need to select some fundamental principle for building the code.
Moral codes are tricky things. Dangerous, even. Even with the most straightforward of intentions, after a few generations or so of interpretation, they have a tendency to spin wildly out of control. You start out with a set of rules that are meant to ensure that people treat each other decently, and you end up with people bludgeoning each other to death with your holy tablets. (source)
The moral codes offered in these pages are NOT based on any religions belief or system. As the author of the above quote says, ANY moral code must be based on some "fundamental principle."
Usually, they start with a fundamental principle which they feel is the most important to uphold in their lives. And it seems that however they phrase it, most folks tend to pick the same general idea: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Or: Do no harm.
Or: maximize happiness in the world. Make people happy. (source)
I rather discard these concepts on the original page of this quote where they occur. Basically "happy" is not defined and is not very definable. A moral code based on an abstract principal will not be clear enough to everyone to be universal.
Aristotle took his hand to designing a system of morals, too.
Put in a somewhat different way, is there some end that we are uniquely suited to attain by virtue of our human nature, apart from our particular roles and occupations? If so, it would have to be some more generic end than “making beautiful music” or “keeping the floor clean.”
Aristotle thinks that we do have a function, and he thinks that the function of any thing is to be determined by its distinguishing power or capacity: while a TV has the power to hold down paper, that is not its function because the TV has a power that distinguishes it from paper weights.
So Aristotle’s question becomes, “What is the distinguishing power of human beings?”
His answer is rationality. Our function, he concludes, is to be excellently rational. But what does that involve? (source)
Apparently Aristotle feels that the fundamental component of any moral code would be rationality. He goes on, in the reference clicked above, to explain how one attains rationality.
His views here are exciting intellectually, but not something to work with in the practical world of our physical universe.
Philosophers, down through the ages, have sought after this fundamental principle. Perhaps now forgotten, but in his time a towering figure, was John Stuart Mill:
THERE ARE few circumstances among those which make up the present condition of human knowledge, more unlike what might have been expected, or more significant of the backward state in which speculation on the most important subjects still lingers, than the little progress which has been made in the decision of the controversy respecting the criterion of right and wrong.
From the dawn of philosophy, the question concerning the summum bonum, or, what is the same thing, concerning the foundation of morality, has been accounted the main problem in speculative thought, has occupied the most gifted intellects, and divided them into sects and schools, carrying on a vigorous warfare against one another.
And after more than two thousand years the same discussions continue, philosophers are still ranged under the same contending banners, and neither thinkers nor mankind at large seem nearer to being unanimous on the subject, than when the youth Socrates listened to the old Protagoras, and asserted (if Plato's dialogue be grounded on a real conversation) the theory of utilitarianism against the popular morality of the so-called sophist. (source)
John Stuart's fundamental principle is flawed, and few see the flaw. He uses words that were common in a better educated day, but not so common today.
"Inductive reasoning" starts with something general, and applies these general laws to come up with more specific rules and applications. "Deductive reasoning" starts with a mass of specific rules and activities and tries to figure out what general principals would fit with all the details. "Intuitive
The intuitive, no less than what may be termed the inductive, school of ethics, insists on the necessity of general laws. They both agree that the morality of an individual action is not a question of direct perception, but of the application of a law to an individual case. (source)
Where does that "LAW" come from, if not perception? From divine inspiration?
John Stuart, thus, discards man's most potent skill -- the skill to observe. Once you throw that OUT, you have no alternative but to accept the observations of another you consider to be senior to you -- some "authority figure" -- and finally you rely on God, as explained by some man, but certainly not based on your own communication from Him.
Philosopher Emanuel Kant had his own fundamental principle, but it simply begs the question.
It is not my present purpose to criticise these thinkers; but I cannot help referring, for illustration, to a systematic treatise by one of the most illustrious of them, the Metaphysics of Ethics, by Kant.
This remarkable man, whose system of thought will long remain one of the landmarks in the history of philosophical speculation, does, in the treatise in question, lay down a universal first principle as the origin and ground of moral obligation; it is this: "So act, that the rule on which thou actest would admit of being adopted as a law by all rational beings."
But when he begins to deduce from this precept any of the actual duties of morality, he fails, almost grotesquely, to show that there would be any contradiction, any logical (not to say physical) impossibility, in the adoption by all rational beings of the most outrageously immoral rules of conduct. All he shows is that the consequences of their universal adoption would be such as no one would choose to incur. (source)
What the goal is here is to find a fundamental principle for a moral code -- where all man can agree. This would immediately rule out any principle based on any religious authority. Certainly, with the three major religious philosophies on the planet, none of them are likely to agree with a philosophy based on one of the others??
There IS one fundamental principle that underlies all the moral codes described on this web site.
The moral codes offered in these pages are all based on enhancing survival. Survival? That concept is developed HERE.
In other words, these codes do not depend on what is "right" being told to us by God, or some religion since such codes are hardly ever universally accepted. Whether a man is Christian or Muslim, Catholic or Baptist -- no matter how much they might agree or disagree on matters of religion, amongst these narrow groups, they should be able agree that ALL men are trying to survive. They use many tools to help them survive.
A very devout Christian may say that the Bible is TRUE, and brook no discussion of that truth. What he means that it is REAL to him, and TRUE to him. No discourse is possible, philosophically, unless he can see that YOUR truth may be different. Whether he is right or wrong, there are still many billions of non-Christians to whom this truth is not true!
The common truth, true to all mankind, is, I think, presented in the moral code which I offer to send you copies of from this web. MY THOUGHTS are not what the book represents. I have taken that book and built my own moral code -- do not judge what the book holds for you from my writings, necessarily.
Over the years man has found that he survives better when he eats good food, and doesn't survive well when he eats poison.
Over the years (fairly recently) man has found that he survives better when he brushes his teeth.
Over the years man has found that he survives better when he doesn't get drunk or use harmful drugs.
Over the years man has found that he survives better when he can count on others to tell the truth, and likewise when HE tells the truth.
That may be obvious now, but there have been times when the consensus was that the "right" thing to do was to lie to a customer, or the public or the government. We have even had modern day politicians feel that it was OK to lie to the people.
Ben Franklin grew up in a Puritan environment. The Puritans believed that honesty was the best policy and they believed that as a religious principal -- something that came from God.
Even though there was a "Puritan ethic" in the colonies, there was a rather wide-spread willingness to be dishonest with the government. Ben Franklin said:
"There is no kind of dishonesty into which otherwise good people more easily and frequently fall than that of defrauding the government." --Benjamin Franklin (Source)
Ben believed that honesty was the best policy, but not because of religious reasons. He just thought it made good sense. That was a rather strange concept in those days. There were many businessmen who did not share the Puritan Ethic, and so did NOT have a (religious) moral code of honesty. These were the men who had no compunction to cheating when it seemed possible to get away with it. They were NOT good Puritans, but they often made lots of money. They have certainly got their children amongst the CEOs of today.
In other words, according to Ben, it was a common sense moral code to be honest -- it enhanced one's survival:
Though Franklin may not have been a Puritan at heart, his origins in a Puritan society are obvious. He believed, as did many Puritans at that time, that it was important to be honest and diligent, to work hard and to always try to be a good person. While plenty of people still believe in these things today, the Puritans really believed in them. They lived simply, devoting most of their energy into doing the things they hoped would please God. Franklin did the same things—working hard and helping others, for instance—but he did them less to honor God than to succeed in the world. This is a subtle but important difference: whereas earlier Puritans believed that man's fate was predetermined, the Puritans of Franklin's time increasingly came to believe that—as Franklin later put it—"God helps them that help themselves." Franklin echoes this message in his autobiography, making what was originally a religious idea into a secular one. (Source)
Ben here transforms a religious code into a secular code, but he was definitely NOT an atheist or agnostic:
"I cannot conceive otherwise than that He, the Infinite Father, expects or requires no worship or praise from us, but that He is even infinitely above it."
--Benjamin Franklin [from "Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion", Nov. 20, 1728] (source)
Honesty may have been a religious moral code, now found to be a good secular code, but the biblical prohibition against pork was yet another, once quite wise, religious moral code, now no longer found to be "applicable." I've found that honesty leads to enhanced survival, but I have not found that a prohibition, today, of eating pork enhances survival.
While the Old Testament placed no restrictions on the eating of fruits and vegetables, severe limitations were given for the eating of certain meats. Among land animals, only those that had a split hoof and chewed the cud were approved as edible (Leviticus 11:3). Of those water-living animals, only those with fins and scales were acceptable (Leviticus 11:9; of interest is the fact that poisonous fish have no scales). Birds of prey were prohibited, as were almost all insects. But perhaps the best known among these biblical prohibitions was eating the meat of the pig; to the Jew, pork was considered unclean, and thus inedible.
There is good reason for such a prohibition. Pigs are scavengers, and as such eat almost anything. In so doing, on occasion they ingest the parasite Trichinella spiralis, which is the cause of trichinosis in humans. Pigs also are known carriers (as intermediate hosts) of the tapeworm, Taenia solium, and of the parasite Echinococcus granulosis, which causes tumors in the liver, lungs, and other parts of the body. Raw or undercooked pork can be very dangerous when consumed by humans. Pigs can provide safe meat, if they are fed properly and if the muscle tissue is well cooked. But such conditions often did not prevail in ancient times. [Even today, in some countries, raw pork is considered a delicacy.] (source)
Honest is rather similar to truth, but also different.
When John is standing on a ball, but says that he is standing on a cooked chicken (and you are sure it is NOT a cooked chicken) you know he NOT speaking the truth, but you DO NOT KNOW whether he is lying. You do NOT KNOW whether he is being honest!
I wrote in the "alcohol section" about how it can be that a person who has drunk much alcohol can "look" at a ball and "see" a cooked chicken. The chicken is very real for him, even if not real for you. So, morals get very confused on this subject of "truth" and honesty if you don't take into account differences in reality, and understand where reality comes from. Here is an excerpt from THAT article on this web site:
|At This||The Man Is Looking||This Is What his Mental Picture is||Comment|
Here is a sober guy
who is in good mental condition!
He "sees" the truth!
Something happens to this guy -- we don't know what!
|At This||The Man Is Looking||This Is What his Mental Picture is||Comment|
Here is a guy who
MAY have a problem!
He does not "see" the truth.
The "dog" is real to him!
The guy drinks a small amount of alcohol -- after previously seeing a cat.
|At This||The Man Is Looking||This Is What his Mental Picture is||Comment|
Here is a guy who
has just drunk some alcohol. You tell him there is
a "cat" there and he say, "no," there is only a
The "dog" is real to him!
The above is not likely to happen after ONE drink, but it does happen.
The guy drinks more alcohol. It is VERY unpredictable as to what he will SEE when he looks at the cat. He may see the cat, he may see Aunt Mary, he may see a tiger. He may turn in fear to escape4 the tiger, he may try to kiss the cat since he SEES his girlfriend.
|At This||The Man Is Looking||This Is What his Mental Picture is||Comment|
Here is a guy who
has just drunk lots of alcohol. You tell him there
is a "cat" there and he says, "no," there is a tiger
-- and shoots it! Or, he runs!
He does not "see" the truth!
The "tiger" is real to him!
There are literally millions of Americans, today, who are convinced, beyond any doubt, that a high level of cholesterol in their blood is an indicator of a risk for heart disease. There is a drug, Lipitor, which "lowers cholesterol" readings, and therefore is reputed to lower the risk of death from heart disease. That is such a reality in our society that the single drug with the highest sales in the US is Lipitor -- selling $8 billion per year to "lower cholesterol."
The doctor claims that high ratings of cholesterol in the blood is a risk factor for heart disease? That claim is NOT TRUE! However, it is the REALITY of the overwhelming bulk of people, including medical doctors. So, when a doctor looks you in the eye, and says, "Your cholesterol is too high! You are in danger of death from heart disease!" -- he is not telling you the truth, yet he may not be lying.
The important questions are these:
Let's take a different look. Not too long ago the famous Bill Clinton statement was made to millions of people: "I did not have sex with that woman." I wrote about this, originally, HERE.
"I did not have sex with that woman."
Here is what the President's Press Secretary, Mike
President did not have sex with that woman!
So, was Mr. Clinton lying?
(Is this question so "charged" for you that you cannot stand to read any more on this page? I have written a major article on the fact that the book I offer to give you for free does NOT mention Clinton, nor any of the examples which MY OPINION allows me to put on this web site Click Here.)
Was Mr. Clinton using a different definition for "have sex" than other people? In an editorial the Los Angeles Times commented that Mr. Clinton, as President, had announced that he wanted government agencies to write and speak "plain truth" rather than complicated gobblygook! They also said:
The Clinton people have effectively hidden behind the institution of the presidency, which they continue to demean each day. The courts, not the Congress, have the best chance of holding them accountable to the law and prying loose the truth which, in plain language, this bunch is unwilling to tell. (source)
Is there a possible "reality" here, within Mr. Clinton, that he could believe it was real that he did not have sex with Monica because he did not have sexual intercourse?
There were certainly millions of Americans who simply concluded that Mr. Clinton was lying. That he "believed" in his heart of hearts, that putting his penis into the mouth of Monica was "having sex" with her -- but that he lied according to his own view of the truth.
There were apparently some other large number of Americans who felt that was NOT "having sex" but only something else. There were also a fairly large number of Americans who said, "So what!"
No matter how you slice this, there is a moral issue here, and more importantly there is an opportunity for YOU to learn some of the distinctions between "truth" and "reality."
Much of society functions because most people have agreed that the dictionary is the authority for definitions of words. It would be virtually impossible to communicate with another person if you each had very different definitions of some word.
I have been raised to think of a ball is being something that looks like the image on the left.
Perhaps in your youth you were raised to think of a ball as being something that looks like the image on the right.
Who is right? It is, after all, a fairly arbitrary matter when we start defining words, but after a few thousand years, and millions of people, and thousands of dictionaries, there is certainly an agreed upon reality that the image on the left is a more accurate portrayal of this concept -- "ball" -- than the image on the right.
A circle is round; a ball is a sphere. Why? Because someone, possibly on an arbitrary basis, assigned those words (sounds) to those "objects." You could get very fancy and describe a "circle" in terms of constant radius, or some other physical characteristic. Each term, in turn, would have to have been agreed on, and usually traceable back to some observation of a physical universe "thing."
The image of a circle, on the left has, very indistinct in this size, a reference to the Greek Archimedes. He worked on the mathematical formula for a "circle" so he could describe it, define it, other than by "showing it. He figured how to figure, mathematically, what a "circle" is. The image on the right is a sphere.
Where did these words originate? There is an answer elsewhere, but even pondering that question is a good beginning for the viewing of this page.
Nevertheless, "truth" at this level is fairly easy to distinguish. In the material universe we can put our hands on the thing. Some girls put their hands on a tree.
Three people can each put their hands on the same thing. One of them utters some sound -- "treeee." The others listen, perhaps repeat the same sound, or a different sound. After some time they put their hands on the thing and all utter the same sound. We have created a common reality.
A ball is a ball because we can put our hands on a ball, utter the sound "ball" and hear that both our utterances are the "same," so that we can also say that we agree on the reality and truth when either of us says, "this is a ball."
But, when a person is happy, and utters the sound "happy" to another, the other may observe that the first is smiling, or happy, but obviously now these are words and concepts that are more difficult to convey to another.
As a general truism, moral codes do very poorly when they try to deal with abstract subjects such as "God" or "love." There is no physical universe anchor to tie to for these concepts. So, this moral code -- the one offered to you here -- does NOT include reference to such abstract words.
You could say, "Be 'good' to people." What does "good" mean?
Rather you should say, "Do not 'harm' a person of good will." The term harm has, at least, a physical universe meaning. It may mean, to you, that you should not cause "mental" or "spiritual" harm to another? But those would be too abstract for practical use.
Kids who read comic books know what "harm" means -- they see pictures of blood and gore everywhere.
So, just consider the ordinary meaning, such as "Don't hit a person of good will on the head!" or some such -- in comics and TV.
This is not an article about the building of a language. That has been done. But, you can see that it is a complex matter to arrive at a Dictionary. The dictionary is made up thousands of words -- words which we have learned, however we learned them. The little words help define the bigger words. Roots and prefixes, and other grammar terms, help us understand whole classes of words. There IS a science of language.
So, however we got here, let us say that we can agree on what the word "happy" means. (I suggest it is the "overcoming of not unknown obstacles between you and some goal.") Even though we may have agreed on the reality of what this word means we may well have gotten no where near close to the truth.
When we get to "truth" we have entered a whole new realm.
Putting it to you straight, and quick, "truth" depends, first, on what you observe. Observation is the function that allows us to perceive what is there. That it is there, is certainly real for whoever does the observing.
When many people do the observing and see the same thing they all have a common reality, and a common truth. Many people touch the tree, utter the sound "treeee," and they have agreed on what a "tree" is. It is this "thing" that they each touched.
You cannot touch God in the same way.
But people often don't even see the "tree" when looking straight at it??
You then, finally, come down to the observations of the drunk, above, who is looking at a cat and seeing a tiger. The tiger is both real and true for him, but not for you.
So, we now need to identify levels of observational ability. (This is still only the first of two parts of finding "truth.")
The guy who always sees a tiger, where there is only a cat? He will avoid walking into the room with the "cat" and not get the good stuff in there. (There will always be good stuff in every room of experience.)
The guy who sees a cat when there is an actual cat? He will not be afraid and will walk into the room, and get the good stuff.
So, we have the simple rule. If the goal of man is to survive, and to survive forever, then the guy who will survive best is the guy who sees that is actually there, not some odd picture or false image.
He will survive better.
When both John and Bill report what they observed. John says he sees a tiger. Bill says he sees a cat. John doesn't walk into the room. Bill does. We don't know, ourselves, which one is right, who is telling the truth, but we CAN see, after a batch of these observations, that Bill is surviving better. So, we conclude that he is observing more accurately. He gets more of the good stuff. John avoids the room (because of the tiger) and doesn't get so much good stuff.
If the reverse were true? Then John would NOT walk into the room, since he sees a tiger. Bill would walk into the room, be eaten by the tiger, and after a while we would conclude that John has a more truthful view of it all.
We now know to trust Bill's observations more than John's, since Bill said there was a cat, and he did not get eaten when he went into the room. In fact, he got the good stuff that John did not get.
If Bill says "eating pork is bad," while John says, "eating port is good?" We will believe Bill, avoid pork and, if Bill was right, we should survive better than those who believed John. John's friends get trichinosis, Bill's friends do not. Thus, ultimately, it is very easy to test for maximum survival of any action. We need someone who is good at observing, but we also need a method by which each of us can test the observational skill of others and their claim of what is real.
Ultimately we need a method to improve our ability to observe. Only with this "method" can we rise to the skill level of the first guy, and see that he was correct.
The moral code in the books I want to give you? It is based on the observations of one man. I think of him as a very skilled observer. He sees what is really there when many others do not.
However, he also teaches us how we can so-improve our ability to observe that we can have the same reality, the same truth as he has reported. In other words we CONFIRM the truth of his observations, and thus we can have faith that his further observations, in areas where we do not yet see, are true and workable.
As more people follow these guides, and report enhanced survival, then you grow more comfortable in following the moral code.
We can reverse test this. For instance, psychiatry teaches us that man arose from a sea of chemicals, and that his body can be treated and cured of health problems with chemicals. If these observations were correct, then we would not find the suicide rate so high among psychiatrists, and the failure rate so high from their treatments. Prozac, as is well known, does NOT cure anything and drives a body down into the insensitive state of vegetable. If you can't see that ultimate state for the Prozac victim, then your power of observation is very low.
At least that is my observation.
And so, a moral code can be based on "survival" and survival can be measured by simple observations. Most of these observations can be accomplished by most people. Perhaps some of the observations call for a "higher order" of observational skill?
For instance, I could not much tell the difference between a growing sprout of corn and one of wheat. But, I'll bet an experienced farmer could tell at a glance. The farmer may not understand what a "leaky" life boat looks like, while the sailor sees IT at a glance. So, people have specialized observational skills. People can come to trust the farmer on the subject of growing sprouts and the sailor on the subject of life boats.
In any event, when you can test the survival value of any action by an observation, and a group of people who agree on those observations is seen to have enhanced survival? Well, you have a good basis for building a moral code.
I think sane and rational people have observed that a human body does poorly on a diet high in sugar. I think sane and rational people have observed that most humans need more protein in their diets, and fewer carbohydrates.
And, so goes the building of the observations that support the enhanced survival brought about by following the common sense moral principles found in the book.
When you say a man is "good" you enter a realm of great differences of opinion -- not so much between beings who have those opinions, but as between the definitions these beings may use to describe "good." Each definition, in turn, is probably made up of other words that have variable meanings among man.
This common sense moral code does NOT get into cause and effect. Here, with these two words, you have the ultimate philosophical concept. You don't need to know the ultimate cause of something, or some event, to be able to achieve harmony with your fellow and for us all to achieve peace on earth. Knowing the cause of things would be the proper concern for religion, and God may well enter into the contemplation of the ultimate cause. Fortunately, it is NOT necessary to solve this problem to arrive at a common sense moral code.
Our common sense moral code is based on very observable facts.
So someone, right now, could say, "High Cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease!". Or he could say that "Juvenile misbehavior is more caused by the wrong genes than by childhood upbringing."
I disagree with both of these observations. Both are easy to test. My own writings, more than 20,000 on other web sites, about health matters, reveal data and studies that should demonstrate to any rational being that high rates of blood cholesterol are NOT a risk factor in heart disease. I feel certain that this is "true" even though a majority feel otherwise. The proof is available, simply, by simple tests. It bothers me not that those who do not agree with me will also not perform the simple tests.
In the long run they must die and rot -- for their view of survival is wrong.
It has been one of the most frustrating mysteries of child development: some children subjected to chronic physical or emotional abuse grow up to be troubled, violent, abusive and even criminal, but most become law-abiding and well-adjusted adults. Why?
Researchers have offered myriad explanations -- that having even one trusted, loving adult in his life can buffer a child from the worst long-term effects of abuse, for example. But there is no conclusive evidence.
That may have changed. Last month, researchers from the U.S., Britain and New Zealand presented persuasive evidence for why some children are resilient and others remain scarred by neglect and abuse: It depends on the child's unique genetic make-up. (source)
I would say, strongly, that both the the statement made about the dangers of high cholesterol and the statement about genes causing child behavior problems -- both are false statements. Yet certainly a large majority of the population believe the first one (about cholesterol) to be true, and probably many scientists believe the validity of the second.
We begin to get a handle on this moral concept, on truthfulness, when we hear that some "scientist" has been found guilty of falsifying the observations and data he used to draw some scientific conclusion.
This week, a panel of physicists concluded that Jan Hendrik Schon of Lucent's Bell Labs had fabricated and falsified data, on molecular transistors, in several papers over four years. (Dr. Schon says he stands by his results.) And this summer, scientists found that the 1999 "discovery" of a never-before-seen atom -- element 118 -- at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab was based on falsified data. In both cases, collaborators were apparently duped. Although both involved physics, they were reminiscent of the infamous 1980s biomedical frauds. (source)
Thus when you receive data from your mother, or some respected scientist, you tend to believe it to be true, without inspection. In fact, it is almost impossible to inspect and test every bit of data we receive. So, it becomes necessary to figure out WHO is a good source of data and accept his data. But, when you have already swallowed data from some authority who you trusted, and it turns out that he was wrong, or that he was deliberately falsifying his findings?? Well, then it is harder for you to now accept the truth. You have the lies there, clogging your system, making it hard to accept the truth. That is why, incidentally, so much of MY writing is devoted to exposing the lies I find around us, so that you can then more easily accept the truth of my observations.
There are more common forms of telling an untruth -- forms that we expect and understand, even if we fall prey to them.
On the morning before this week's heartbreaking anniversary, I waded into the crowds at Ground Zero to ask about their memories of Sept. 11.
Harold, a retiree from Lancaster, Calif., told me that he was awake early that day last year, watching "Today in L.A." in bed "just as it happened." He said he spent hours watching television that morning, riveted by images of the two planes striking the towers.
Bette (I'll keep last names private), of Richmond, Va., had just gotten home from her overnight shift, she told me, when she turned on "Today" with her husband. She said they watched all morning as the networks reran video of the Boeings hitting the trade center.
These recollections are typical, but not in the way you may think. I can't speak to where these visitors to Ground Zero were Sept. 11 and how they first heard, but their memory of what they saw is false.
"There was no video that day of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center," notes psychologist Kathy Pezdek of Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, Calif., one of many researchers studying Sept. 11 memories. "Yet 76% of the New Yorkers we surveyed say they saw it then, as do 73% of people nationwide."
A small point, perhaps, as MSNBC showed the first hit at 4:56 a.m., Sept. 12. But it is one of the disconcerting early findings of the memory studies. They confirm that even for an event woven into our synapses forever, memories are human constructs: They are amalgams of what we experienced, read and pieced together afterward, and what we would like to be true -- not documentary records. (Source)
So, how can we describe a moral code that tells us, for instance, to "tell the truth." It is straightforward, but it depends on your ability to observe what is actually there. It may also depend on your ability to trust the observations of someone else when you do not have the time or skill to make your own observations.
There is another large issue. Is it immoral to remain silent and not report a lie? Can you "imply" something false, but not actually say it, and be moral?
Amazon.com Inc. has long prided itself on its ability to pitch extra products to shoppers by objectively analyzing the buying patterns of other customers. Search for a book, and Amazon will recommend additional books and music favored by buyers of that book -- often with uncanny accuracy to a shopper's tastes.
But at least one new Amazon effort to recommend add-on purchases is anything but scientific.
Recently, customers perusing book, music or video listings on the Web site have been directed to specific brand-name clothing items on Amazon's new online-apparel section. Shoppers contemplating "Leadership," the best-selling book by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, for example, were informed that "Customers who shopped for this item also wear" such items as "Lady Bug Rain Boots" from Target, "Flannel-Lined jeans" from Eddie Bauer and "Cheetah Print slippers" from Old Navy.
[Karl Note: Amazon promotes Flannel-Lined Jeans sold by Landsend. Is Landsend a part of some deception? ]
An Amazon spokeswoman now says such clothing recommendations are "faux" suggestions that are "not based on the purchasing history" of Amazon customers. The spokeswoman, Patty Smith, says the recommendations are designed to direct people to its new apparel store where they can buy the items. (source)
When you are a very junior nurse assistant in a convalescing hospital, and you OBSERVE that the regular nurses are ignoring calls from a "client," and that the client therefore often soils her own bed? You are not allowed, by the rules, to help the client to the bathroom! That's you? Then, the client's daughter comes to visit, and asks you, "Are they treating her OK?" What do you say? What is your moral duty to report the truth, as you see it, when they may get someone else in trouble, or you get kicked out?
The moral code on truth does not say that you must always speak the truth, but that you should SEEK to live with the truth. It is NOT a black and white thing -- it often takes great courage to speak the truth, or admit your own errors? It is your moral duty to constantly be striving to KNOW the truth, and to live with it.
I suggest to you that I do these observations quite well, and that the author of the book on the common sense moral code does it even better than I. So, I offer you two free copies of the book. YOU then look it over and see whether the codes in it align with your own observations about enhanced survival in life. Even if you don't have personal observations about all of the various codes in this book, perhaps you will see enough to agree with that you then trust the author to agree with the others.
Does sexual faithfulness enhance your survival? Or, does promiscuity enhance survival?
Does drinking lots of alcohol enhance your survival? Or does drinking lots of alcohol make you do poorly in life?
Does smoking pot help? or hurt? you?
Is Bill Clinton a good role model? or bad? Is it worthwhile to have a role model?
Is it better to brush your teeth? Or not?
Is the climate getting warmer? Or colder?
One of the pillars of the case for man-made global warming is a graph nicknamed the hockey stick. It's a reconstruction of temperatures over the past 1,000 years based on records captured in tree rings, corals and other markers. The stick's shaft shows temperatures oscillating slightly over the ages. Then comes the blade: The mercury swings sharply upward in the 20th century. (source)
Does giving a child many, many toys, and luxuries build a better character? Or does a child develop better character when he is raised with a tradition of earning his own way?
I could go on, but there are many questions like these -- covering the various moral issues in the book. As you read these issues, and the common sense moral code? I think you will find that the enhanced survival is obvious and easy to accept.
There is another whole realm not yet covered. Do you have a moral duty to report some wrong-doing to the "authorities?" The code here says "seek" to live with the truth. That is not necessarily easy. I would, then, also say that you should seek to be willing and able to report the truth, as you see it, to whoever "should know."
Who should know?
If you see corporate misconduct in your company? Don't the shareholders, or the Officers, or someone have a right to know?
It is not easy, but you should SEEK to live with this moral duty -- to "blow the whistle."
But at Dynegy headquarters in Houston, Mr. Beatty seemed to be doing well as he rotated through departments. One evaluation rated his work "outstanding," he says. An engineer with a blunt, rigid manner, he was unimpressed by some of his colleagues, who he says chafed at his habit of pointing out flaws in their work. "The people I dealt with weren't that smart," Mr. Beatty says of his superiors. "The fact that I could do their job, and they didn't want me to, bothered me."
One year ago, after Dynegy briefly moved to take over troubled Enron Corp., Dynegy publicly portrayed itself as above the kind of questionable deals that brought down its larger crosstown competitor. It also said energy trading on DynegyDirect, its small rival to EnronOnline, had risen 20% since Enron's crisis began, in a "flight to quality."
Mr. Beatty, who had rotated through DynegyDirect, was skeptical. He still had a password for the system, so he took a look. What he saw seemed odd: The volume increase was based on four huge trades. Even stranger, these were two pairs of simultaneous trades that canceled each other out. They provided no apparent economic benefit but made volume look much bigger.
He printed out the trading records and took them to his boss, Anthony Carrino, a divisional vice president. "Keep quiet," he says Mr. Carrino responded. Mr. Carrino, who has left Dynegy, didn't return a call seeking comment.
A few weeks later, Mr. Beatty was among management trainees invited to lunch with Dynegy's president, Stephen Bergstrom. The group chatted about the turmoil from Enron's failure, and then Mr. Bergstrom casually mentioned that Dynegy was beginning to restrict access to many of the internal files on its shared computer drive. He added that the process wasn't finished yet, according to Mr. Beatty. Mr. Bergstrom, who has left Dynegy, declined to comment.
Mr. Beatty, already suspicious because of the trades he'd discovered, was curious about what the files might contain. When he looked, he found nearly impenetrable descriptions of a highly complex arrangement involving special-purpose vehicles and bank financing. It was Project Alpha, a deal that exaggerated cash flow from operations and cut taxes but was all but impossible for outsiders to fathom from Dynegy's public reports.
Mr. Beatty says he went to Mr. Carrino and was again told to keep quiet. He did so, Mr. Beatty says, but grew queasy about Dynegy, beginning to feel that company posters extolling integrity were hypocritical. (source)
If so, then your own survival would be enhanced if you change your behavior to conform better with these codes, and your own survival would be enhanced is others around you also changed their behavior to conform with these codes. But, my experience is that you can never be successful in "changing behavior" when you do it by force. So, this moral code is for your free will acceptance, if you find it useful. I ask you to NOT try to shove it down the throat of another.
When you and a friend agree on a code that says, "Be temperate in your use of alcohol," but you and your friend differ on what "temperate" means -- and he says he can drink 10 beers and drive safely, while you say that one is a proper limit? He drinks his ten, and the thousands who do this, and he bashes the car and kills someone. You don't. If rational people look at these statistics, the truth should be plain to see. One beer is OK, ten is unsafe.
Where is the dividing line? It would just take more tests and agreement to abide by the results of those honestly observed test results.
How strongly should you disagree with that guy drinking 10 beers? If he is your son you may feel that you need to use some "strong" persuasion. But, I do suggest that this Book will better achieve its purpose of creating harmony among men and peace on earth if it is NOT imposed by force.
When your friends are following a moral code, as you are, you will have peace and harmony. Like the spreading ripples on a pond, as the small group finds a common sense moral code to follow, the edges of that small group meet new people who, when they adopt that same code, make the group larger and all the more successful at survival.
We can change the moral code of mankind and achieve peace and harmony among men.
I say, observe well, and you perceive the truth. The truth will enhance survival, and thus a moral code must be based on true observations of enhanced survival.