This article is going to start getting into the aspects of my roleplaying game design. Namely Moral Relativity. Well, as one could extrapolate from a postmodernist perspective where the judgment of cultures is supposedly impossible due to relativism. There is no absolute judgement of cultures to be made. Ex; I can’t readily criticize Arabic culture because I haven’t grown up under it’s umbrella. Just as it’s aberrant for me to throw rocks at Christianity.
Simply because I haven’t had the exposure to the doctrines. I haven’t “lived that life”, so how can it be “moral, or right” for me to judge aspects of it? I don’t think I can as an outsider, for my words are likely to mean little. “You’re an outsider, go be a sinner, deviant, exile elsewhere…etc.”
Although I am a human, and I can judge based upon a human perspective which isn’t something I want to get into too deep here, at least right now. Instead, I want to postulate and explore what is “Good” and what is “Evil”?
Good can be defined through several other terms; Virtue, Honor, the Right, Justice, …etc.
Evil can be defined in similar terms; Vice, Sin, Dishonor, Injustice…etc.
Seems simple enough, right?
Well, here comes the wrench. What if these are merely words to justify, or certify a standing? That justice came about through Eye for an Eye, and Tooth for a Tooth (Hammurabi Code) which as far as I know, it did. Thus right there, justice is based off of revenge.
Going off on a slight tangent, consider lions…those kings of the savannah. It was a common practice amongst the males of said species to commit infanticide when they took over a pride. Running along with this little tidbit, one could imagine “lion culture” being perfectly fine with this. Thus at a base lion morality, must be somewhat okay with murder.
Now it’s obvious that we aren’t lions, but are we any different? Do our nearest genetic relatives, the chimpanzee, have odd little quirks like this? Well, they’re more prone to violent resolution of disputes than say a Bonobo who would rather screw/fuck out a solution (imagine that).
Thus we could imagine, a “Chimpanzee culture” to be more tolerant of violence, and a “Bonobo culture” to be more “conceited”, or used to indirect and passive aggressive resolution of conflict.
The theme I’m running with here, is a notion that our “biology” helps shape our culture, and to extent our culture can shape our biology in the long run.
Say only the passive, and spiritual portion of the population became monks, nuns, and priests. Now if they adhered to their vows of celibacy, they’d select themselves out of the genetic pool/population. They aren’t breeding, thus their traits aren’t in the pool anymore.
Where does that lead us? Well, it might lead to a hyper aggressive society, or what have you, but the take away point is that our morality is based upon our genetics/species to an extent.
Humanity, if viewed by an alien species, I could easily imagine the notion that they wouldn’t know how to “judge us”. Reaching way back to the beginning of the post, they haven’t lived as humans, but judge us they can. We may have hostile relations with them. Thus they’d likely see us as their form of evil, but at that point it gets a little silly. Is it evil for a shark to eat a fish? What if they too are a predatory type species? Would it be evil for them to eat us? We’d say so, but to them it’d be the natural order.
Thus in some ways, our conceptions of Evil start to fall apart. Now one could say that it is only meant to be a tribal inclusive title. As in only a human could call, or consider a human evil. And yet, can we? Who are we to judge? If one of us was Hitler, or Stalin. And we met the other, and walked away thinking…man that is one evil bastard would either of us be “Right”? We can’t make those judgments.
This also seems to apply to the Good, in some way. I can in theory call “Stalin” a great man, and many of the older Russians do, as far as I know. Am I going to do so, not likely because I’m an “American”, and I can’t like that “Tribe”…because politics. Thus if Good is only “Good” because of our interactions with said individual, or property, or idea (ideas, and objects can be good too, right?). Everything that helps me or mine, is Good, but isn’t that a selfish Good? And yet being selfish is “evil”…
Anyways, just my thoughts on the matter. To me, I think these terms are somewhat obsolete because Good, Evil,…all of it is Human. It is Human to kill the way we do. It is Human to love the way we do. And is it ever right, as a Human, to condemn or judge another Human for an action they do? I don’t really know, in some ways yes, when they break common Human/Societal Norms, but then we get into the mucky issue of who’s in the Right? If it all made sense at the time we acted, and we can only act with the knowledge/assumptions that we’re capable of understanding…., and if current society approves of our actions while later society doesn’t…can we be prosecuted?
Kinda like with all the Sexual Harassment, or Rape charges flying around at the present junction in time. It was “okay” in the past, but now? Is it now? One has to remember, that we create our societies. And our societies reaffirms ourselves as entities. The odd thing, is that we don’t always have a say. We may think we’re being just, and reasonable…, and the next thing you know you’re in jail, the hospital, or whatever institution.
Therefore what sort of errors, or misdeeds may we do? The Human Kind. One of my internal jokes is, from an “alien perspective”;
An alien, upon hearing of a fight, or explosion in some sector of the Galaxy; “Well, the Humans’ are at it again….”
…is that the way you’d have us be known?