Human relationships are a biological necessity for social animals like us, but where do ethics and morality fit in? Not everyone in society is moral and ethical, so why should I concern myself with these concepts?
This question often arises when discussing a collective or society.
There are numerous viewpoints on this topic, with many notable psychologists examining morality from various perspectives, including cognitive development to evolutionary psychology.
Nietzsche saw morality as a life-denying, meekness-glorifying coping mechanism for those who lacked control over their lives. His philosophy's central concept is the Ubermensch, or Overman, the potential pinnacle of human evolution achieved through living authentically and creatively. Nietzsche didn't believe in society's moral codes but instead in the individual who transcends the limitations of conventional morality to create their own values and purpose. He asserted that the fundamental human drive is not survival, but power—an inherent desire to assert and express one's power. He championed the idea of eternal recurrence for moral reckoning, urging individuals to live lives they'd be willing to repeat eternally. In essence, Nietzsche rejected standardized moral codes in favor of individual potential.
Contrarily, Jung believed in a collective unconscious shared by all people, containing archetypes or themes recurring across cultures and times. He emphasized the Shadow archetype, representing the darker, unacknowledged aspects of our personality, including socially unacceptable desires and thoughts. He argued that confronting the Shadow and integrating it is crucial for moral development. Jung also encouraged individuation—a process of integrating the conscious and unconscious, including conflicting aspects of the self. He urged individuals to recognize and reconcile their good and evil tendencies. According to Jung, there's no absolute moral code—it's relative and depends on culture and context. He advocated for personal responsibility and ethical behavior, requiring deep self-awareness and reflective ability. He viewed morality and ethics as aspects of personal growth, self-awareness, and holistic integration in human development rather than societal codes.
In addition to Nietzsche and Jung, many philosophers and psychologists have contributed significantly to this topic.
For instance, Kant emphasised duty over consequences, Aristotle saw morality as a habit formed through moral actions, and Stuart Mill viewed morality as contributing to overall happiness and the greater good. Jean-Paul Sartre argued that humans are free and must define their choices without any codes or guides, while Kohlberg developed a theory of moral development facilitating progress through moral reasoning. Freud believed moral development results from the Oedipus complex and is completed by age five.
As a designer, ethics and social responsibility play a significant role in my work, so I've taken a keen interest in each thinker's contributions. Here's my perspective on morality and ethics:
To establish order and harmony in society, adherence to a set of rules and norms is crucial. Without these, society would descend into chaos. As a collective, this makes sense for maintaining sanity. However, I believe that morality and ethics begin with each individual, shaped by their actions, environment, exposure, and experiences. Individual morality and ethics start as absolute. They learn by observing the society around. Our mirror neurons help us innately know what is good and what is not for self and humanity around. While the individual value system may differ, 95% of individuals know what NOT TO DO. An individual's value system helps them make better decisions and act accordingly.
Society's wellbeing depends on how its individuals behave. Law and order maintain societal sanity, helping humans avoid punishment and pursue rewards. Setting a code of conduct for conformity by authoritarian bodies helps society harmonise better.
🥂 to morality and ethics!