Etiquette is not dead
why do morals (or their younger sibling, etiquette) change?
July 24th, 2007 3:10pm
Because society evolves. "The only constant IS change".
July 24th, 2007 3:45pm
The basic principles don't change. Be kind. Be courteous. Be polite.
But the outward implementations -- the etiquette, the expression -- can evolve as society's understanding of the basic principles evolves.
July 24th, 2007 3:48pm
is that a scientific 'evolves' or a colloquial 'evolves'?
July 24th, 2007 3:53pm
ok, how is our understanding of the basic principle, "Be kind," different today than 2000 years ago?
If it's not different, why is the rest of etiquette/moral different?
July 24th, 2007 3:56pm
Colloquial 'evolves'. As in, "things tend to change over time as people implement them in slightly different ways each time, people being people, and keep what they like and quit doing what they don't like."
July 24th, 2007 3:56pm
Perhaps because 2010 years ago, "Be kind" meant "Be kind to your kin". Where 2000 years ago or so, "Be kind" began to mean "Be kind to everyone, because all men are brothers".
It's taken a LONG time for that understanding to have become commonly accepted, and even today some people on the planet wouldn't agree.
July 24th, 2007 3:59pm
first, how come if morals are getting better and better (or a better approximation to the "Be kind" dictum) are people always complaining about how crass and ugly the world has become? (from trolls to road rage, etc.)
second, I have to follow your line of reasoning to its logical outcomes ...
- in 1922: unacceptable to refuse dishes offered you
- in 2007: acceptable to refuse dishes offered
so, how does 2000 years of "Be kind" interpretation become the exact opposite of 1915 years of "Be kind" interpretation? Are we making headway or just running around in circles?
July 24th, 2007 4:11pm
Because now we make allowances for vegetarians, people watching their starch intake, fat intake, sugar intake, etc.
And yes, I think you are going around in circles. It's a very simple concept -- intent can be fixed "to do good", while implementation can evolve.
July 24th, 2007 4:29pm
> Because now we make allowances for vegetarians, people watching their starch intake, fat intake, sugar intake, etc.
Maybe it's stomachs that are evolving and not any one else's ethics. :)
July 24th, 2007 4:40pm
There ya go, now you've got it!
July 24th, 2007 4:41pm
check out ...
Anatomy of Disgust, by William Ian Miller
The Hungry Soul, by Leon Kass
Mores and Morels
(to be published) by strawdog soubriquet
July 24th, 2007 4:52pm
And the implementation differ from culture to culture.
In the west, for example, you stand when someone you revere enters the room. In a lot of sub saharan Africa, you do the opposite ... prostrate.
In parts of the world, you do not address an important person until they address you. Where I come from, the lower ranked individual must greet their senior.
how are these examples of evolution rather than just differences of equivalence?
you see, 'evolution' implies a path of accumulative progress, of things getting better. and so I ask the Socratic questions that follow from that assumption .. where's the progress? is it accumulative? why don't people follow the etiquette rules of 1922 as well as of 2007 (we still believe atoms exist)? what's the driving force? if morality has progressed, why are so many people still so enraged (to wit, trolls and road rage are two examples) by ethical wrongs? If ethics ratchets up like science, with one year better than the last, where's the equivalent optimism, or at least nonchalance?
I'm afraid STH gives the standard pop psychology (*) response which doesn't answer the deeper question of why this act is better than another (I don't find an adequate answer in Socrates either, he sorta says "I know it when I see it").
and isn't a criticism of the Golden Rule far too easy? so abstract it's still not useful for implementation. it's all analysis without any code to make it real. honor killings and institutional torture are perfectly within the Golden Rule's realm ("Be kind" relies on a definition of personhood that not everyone agrees on, and there's the rub).
(*) as a side issue, the popular beliefs people have about morals are fascinating. not particularly supportable, but the set of motifs around good/bad/ugly desserts that permeate old fables and new does seem to be stable. Heritability of goodness/badness (Harry Potter, Star Wars), contamination, etc.
July 25th, 2007 9:08am
I do not think morals change much. Etiquette does a little, for better or worse - I can't say, maybe just less complicated.
Maybe morals change in detail, how we interpret them. For example:
1. You do not kill without good reason. But where this "good reason" begins is up to current culture/society to decide.
2. You don't steal (take other's property) - what is property?
This is all complicated stuff and philosophers still argue. But that's what they do, right?:)
July 25th, 2007 12:24pm