"Morality and Naziism", by David G. McDivitt
To: Egoism and Ethics Debate
Subject: Re: is egoism a meta-moral philosophy? From: "David G. McDivitt" Date: Sun, 20 Feb 2000 11:43:36 -0600
Dennis, if you had been in Rome and questioned the morality of Caesar and his atrocities, you would have been killed. You would have effectively been shut up, and your idealistic view of morality would have died with you. The only good thing your point of view would do is offer you a sense of pride in yourself as you were executed. Need I say speaking up for Jews in Nazi Germany was no different. I am however glad some people took the risk and hid Jews. I am glad some people had a different view of morality than what Hitler provided. It shows the resiliency of individualism, that whatever imposed context there may be, it is still possible for individuals to think in terms of greater context, even to their own peril. I do not see resisting Hitler to be a triumph of morality, but rather a triumph of freedom of thought.
The prevailing context since the time of Rome has expanded to include other social values. Had this expansion not come, you could not speak of actions in Rome or Nazi Germany either one as being wrong, with any degree of objectivity. Your objectivity is contemporary only, and not reflective of prevailing views within a given society.
Two issues exist here. One issue is to view our contexts today contemporarily, whether they are valid, and to what extent they should be evolved further. The other issue is to view contexts of the past, in terms of the past, strictly staying within that scope. Unless we can sufficiently understand the mindset of past societies, keeping their contexts fully in tact and closed, we shall not be able to understand our own mindset today. Rather, we shall simply repeat the same type of bigotry, leading again to wars and genocide.
When we objectify morality, beyond whatever prevailing context of a given society, we greatly increase the probability of fostering bigotry again. However good our proscriptions may seem to be, surely the real possibility of repeating history is worth rationally questioning our proscriptions. There is very little to go on as we rationally question contemporary morality. This speaks of the future, to the extent we have no track record by which to judge what we do today, so it may be rated in past tense as we do for other past societies. The very best tool therefore, is to leave each context in tact, and study how morality was, and is, derived from prevailing context.
I do not therefore accept your premise of a priori moral standards unless you can successfully cite a priori context as well.
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