The Meaning of Life
Lecture 8: Why Act Morally?

1. Starvation of the Soul
2. Why Act Morally?
3. Ethics
4. Utilitarianism

March 9, 2012

And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable. And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
Mark 7:14-23


Greetings and welcome to lecture eight of the meaning of life. So why act morally? Why would one choose to act morally? And we come up to this question when we think about experience, and that is that the only existence that we "know" is of experience, of our consciousness and attachments that our consciousness has within it. And if all we have is our experience then why should we focus on anything that is outside of that experience? For we do not "know" the existence of that outside. We might know of and come to continually know more of that outside, but we are still stuck within our own experience. And if we are stuck within our own experience then why should we act morally to our fellow man when we do not even know that they perceive the world in the same way that we do. And we can see that they do not because green to me and green to another person might be two different "truths".

So we come up to this difficult problem of trying to get morality out of the equation and that is what this lecture is going to be talking about: where our morality fits in the equation. So we are just going to go through some different theories and then I am going to talk about some the things that we need to consider.

So what is moral action? What can we consider moral action and do moral actions come about? Why is there a need for moral action? Immanuel Kant says that there is an external cause. We all do things for a reason. There is some type of motivation that is causing us to do things. When we do these things it is as a reaction from our external world. So we are constantly reacting from the outside thing and then processing that into the inside thing: which is our minds.

This leads us into Kant's categorical imperative which is if you can not make a universal rule out of your proposition then the proposition does not stand true. So if we question lying and ask if lying is a moral action, then we need to find out whether it could stand universally true for everybody to be able to lie, to be given permission to lie. And if everybody started lying then we would lose all of our meaning and communication and our trust in our human fellows. And this would cause disastrous results. So because there is an outside external thing that is causing our causes the we cause, we must consider what responsibilities and duties that we have towards that.

We get Aristotle, and if you remember in one of the previous lectures we spoke of the guitar and who should get the world's best guitar. Who should get the world's best flute or lyre as Aristotle puts it. Something of this quality should be going to the person who is going to be able to utilise that in the appropriate manner to reach its full potential. I am not going to talk too much about Aristotle because we are going to be reading about him for this set of readings and I will talk about him at the end of the lecture.

We get Marx who says its immoral for our current government {capitalism/employment} to treat people the way it does because it exploits the efforts, the toils of man and giving it to another. So what man creates and makes is no longer theirs, it is handed to another. We need to see it from how we work. We work for another who then exploits us in order to obtain the most profitable return. And you end up getting a small chunk of that return and in exchange you are only getting a small portion of the results of your toils. So you are working for another. It is like slavery or prostitution.

We also get John Stuart Mill and Bentham and they persuade towards the utilitarian doctrine. And the utilitarian doctrine says that we are looking at the greatest good for the greatest number of people. It looks at what is the greatest good, and what is the greatest good? It is happiness. So happiness is what we should strive for. So we need the maximum amount of happiness with the least amount of suffering so then we can make decisions based on a type of calculation depending on the amount of suffering versus the amount of happiness it produces. So if we are to look for a cure for cancer then we might test on rats or something like that. So how many rats are we killing and what is the potential value in what it is that we are doing? So we need to make calculations whether our investments are worth it or not.

Rawls does an interesting thought experiment called the original position. The way this works is that everybody steps out of themselves. So if you can imagine a whole group of intelligent people coming together from diverse backgrounds and then making a system that is going to revolutionise the way we live. And the way this happens is that each person in the system does not know where in the system they are going to be distributed after they walk away. Let us just say the world "restarts" once they make their rules and then the result of that system are then manifest without a partial position from any of the individuals who created because the people who created it had no bias in their opinions because they were not going to reap the consequences of those opinions. So to attempt to refine our government to be equal for every individual because you do not know what you are going to become. So let's say everybody in the world's mind gets wiped and then we need to look at equal opportunity and potential for each of these individuals.

This theory was developed further to the impartial position which doesn't limit its scope to humanity but then goes on to nature and our environment and the animals that are within that environment that have a sentience or an interest about them. So we do not know if we are going to come back as a dog, so we should treat dogs right. Or we don't know if we are going to come back as a cow, so we should treat cows right. So these are things that we should be considering.

In the end, in inadequacies of our sense perceptions causes us suffering. So our sense perception receives data and when we are not satisfied with the data that it receives then we begin to suffer. And that comes from our "clinging" if we remember Buddhism. Our clinging on to wanting something that is not. And it is this desire that causes us pain and suffering in the long run. And when we learn to align ourselves with the healthy desire of just being happy with whatever comes your way will rectify that issue.

We are going to get into a little bit of a sad part of this lecture and I want to talk about a lot of different things. So I want us to be respectful and reflective when we talk about these subjects. To begin with we have Prometheus Bound. He is a god {Titan} in Greek mythology that helped humanity. What happened is that Zeus wanted to destroy humanity. So Prometheus did not want this to happen so he then went and taught the humans how to read and write and different methods that they could utilise to protect themselves against Zeus so that Zeus would not be able to destroy them.

In the end, Prometheus got in a lot of trouble and ended up getting hung out on a rock in the middle of nowhere, nailed to it to suffer for all of eternity for his actions that was a consequence that Zeus put upon him. And all he needed to do was either talk to Zeus and and apologise for what it is that he did or later on we find that could tell Zeus some insight that he had. But maybe you should go and read it, it is a very interesting story. He then refuses to do this and he hangs up and suffers for all of eternity with his pride that has done a good thing and he doesn't turn against that good that he sees as his highest good. So he is suffering for the sake of what he sees as divine and pure.

We then come to Sisyphus which is another myth and Sisyphus is condemned to pushing a huge rock up a mountain for all of eternity. Once he gets up that mountain then the rock falls down the other side and then he must push the rock up another mountain {or the same mountain again}. So the boulder of humanity is heavy just as the cross. And if we think about the cross in these things that I am talking about then you will begin to come to a better understanding of its representation and meaning behind the symbol.

Now we are going to talk about a bit more realistic stuff and let us honour these people as we talk about them. So we have Socrates who died for his greatest good. He was a martyr for what he believed to be right. And he was a really good man and our insanity was what struck him down.

We also have Jesus who went through a similar situation and he strived for his highest good. He then got struck down for that too. And these are no more than good men; good passive individuals who were trying to help humanity in the best way that they knew possible getting murdered for what it is that think as the direction humanity should take. So it is not like these individuals were aggressive in a physical manner. They were very well controlled and developed individuals.

And we also see this with Ghandi. He also did the same thing, did a lot of good with humanity in India and then he gets murdered. So our insanity of our human race is something that needs to be dealt with otherwise we are going to continue to perform these atrocities. And we must realise what it is that we are doing in the process so if we do come across and wake up and see ourselves in these situations then we can exit them in the most efficient manner possible.

We can also notice that this what happened in Nazi Germany while the Jewish people were being oppressed and taken off to concentration camps and murdered on the streets in front of the civilians eyes. They did nothing and that caused those happenings to continue and develop. And there is a lot of evil that has happened in our history that we can get beyond.

At the end of the day we have a responsibility. Why do we have this responsibility? Because there is something there and we know that with every action is a reaction. And with every giving there is also a receiving and another giving. So we are always giving what it is that have to give and in exchange we are part of the system always sharing our gifts with each other and our environment within that. So there is something there that must be accepted or rejected. And that is our responsibility. And the way that we investigate this is through self analysis. And once we learn to step back and look at our psychology then we are able to analyse how our psychology functions so that we can find the root cause of our problems and rectify those issues through progressive manipulation.

This starts of on an individual level and spreads to the whole. So we have the individual to the whole. And the follies of our society and the evil and malice that has come about from it has started from the whole to the individual. So we claim "God" without actually taking the path to God. Or we have a collective government that disregards its people. And these are the ways that our oppression begins. We have the creator and the created. And we must look at the individual entity first before we can learn how to best tackle that whole.

Through this process of becoming we then have birthing pains. And these come from the suffering that is going to be incurred from making such adjustments to one's psychology. And the desires that were in tune will have to be worked out of the system before the new spectrum can be opened. We can see this with tobacco and nicotine. Once nicotine is out of your system and you have not had it for a while then you do not desire to smoke. But if you are smoking then you desire to smoke more because the nicotine receptors desire more and more nicotine.

We are going to be alienated as a result of our choices because people now days do not take up a life of moral virtue. It is a thing that has passed our eyes but in saying that it is the individual that is going to open these shut eyes. The individuals within that system will overthrow that system or be stomped out of that system by the system. We must be extremely careful with systems because they tend to run by themselves and we overlook individual situations to rectify problems within the situations.

What this is doing in turn is claiming the inheritance to our psychology and accepting it. So remember Prometheus Bound, he accepted his fate as his highest good and all of the ramifications that came with that faith. So the inheritance is our god-like potential and it is that which should be focused on. So what we are doing is looking at the nature of ourselves through the individual traits that we portray within ourselves.

This then brings us to the Kingdom. And Jesus said, "The Kingdom of God is among you". This has also been interpreted as, "The Kingdom of God is within". And when we turn our eyes from the outside and go into the inside then we are able to live from the inside out existing amongst both fields or psychology's or even understandings because that is really all they are is understandings of a body and a mind and all of the ramifications that come with that.

So we then act as a star; a bright star, but how bright it can be is up to you. And thus we align ourselves in harmony with ourselves, our existence, and our place within that existence. In doing this we act as a lighthouse of the world in which other human beings can follow if they so choose. So our life as an exemplar human being is to guide and direct the collective human action. And the way to do this is through the individual because it is these many individuals that make up the collective. And when these individuals speak out then everything changes. But in order for the individuals to speak out they must have a process of going from their old life to their new life in order to become in sync with themselves and thus the rest of their existence.

What we are really doing is reorientating the sickness of humanity into the health of the Divine. And that is our attempts: to take our sickness and tweak it to position it for divine walking {manifestations}. Just as Buddha said, we should walk thoughtfully knowing our every single step and our moves that are in between; so knowing our body within the comportment of our steps. And the sickness is something to eradicate or destroy. And in the end we are either going to evolve or die. And I am doing everything that I can to progress towards evolving. And if you do the same then we can align our voices and become louder in a world that has been issued rose tinted glasses.

And we can do it together. And it is one person that makes a different. Most people are overburdened and cope out with the flawed social axiom that no one person can make a difference. Yes they can. It is not just your vote that matters. What matters is your voice. And how you express your voice is up to the painter.

We need to now speak about our future. We look at our beautiful environment and we have a beautiful river. How are we going to make all of this sustainable? The way that we need to do that is look at our psychology and figure out the root causes of why we do not do those things and then tweak that psychology to harmonise within nature. This is not to say to rid oneself of technology but instead to create technology in a utopian manner which will be sustainable to all of creation and not harm it.

Our government is just a big system and we need to be very careful about government because they set us on a path that we think is the only path because government said, and this is not the case. That government is composed of individuals, maybe non-thinking individuals, but individuals who are running a system that is made to help the "ideal person" that they have created. And if you do not fall within those "ideal person" guidelines then their system will not help you or will not help you how it should. So government is something important that we need to think about and we have a responsibility to make it. And we will live with what we make so we should make the best thing/model possible. And this happens from the individual speaking out and then us harmonising our voices to set a clear direction for the future.

Then we look at needs and we are talking about human existence. We are looking at our species. We have looked at other species' but in the end (definitively) we are responsible to our own species. So we need to step back out and ask how we are going to help human kind. And these answers will bring about our contributions to the world. But we need to step back at examine our needs. What are our needs?

It is obvious that everybody needs food; people need different degrees of food but everybody needs food. And when we can make bulk food cheap and sustainable that is available to every human being on this planet when they are hungry then we can eradicate a large chunk of this suffering. And when I say available, I do not mean through employment. So the one who is hard on their luck, homeless, or without monetary abilities capable of exchange then we still need to be able to provide for these people. And we do not want to make these people feel bad about themselves because these people could be helping the world more than all of the other people. So we need to learn how to respect each individual within the whole of humanity through your individual self.

We also need to look at property; property is a big problem and once we can create a system that can afford anybody property who desires it, of course locations with different prices, but anybody who desires property should be able to obtain it. As a result we can live in a more secure and peaceful world. Because the current way that it functions is most people are renting. Most people seem not to be able to afford the current housing industry and that is because they are ridiculous prices. In Australia, most places that are cheap and crap are like half a million. And it goes up from there. So we need to look at why it is that the property is so expensive and see what we can do to alter that so that everybody can afford property. And I do not think that everybody should be able to afford a house or be on the grid, but the idea of just existing somewhere in a location gives each individual security. It does not really matter the accessibility that this location has because the individual will work with what they are given. But a place for somewhere to hang their hat up is something that is really needed to be encouraged and available throughout all of human existence. And we have a lot of land and we only need to learn how to distribute that land.

The first reading for this lecture is from Aristotle whom we spoke of briefly at the beginning of the lecture. I am not going to speak too much about what he is talking about but what I want you to look at is the way that he analyses the human psyche and places them into moral relevance. So the way that he utilises what methods that he has available. We also have John Stuart Mill on Utilitarianism. That is what we were talking about before with the greatest happiness with the least suffering.

If you notice a lot of this stuff that you are getting is contradictory information and it is your job to then process that information in your head and then make a synthesis of it to arrive at your own conclusions which are inclined towards certain directions of these difficult topics. So stay safe and I will see you next lecture.