Essay #4 CMP - Moral issues
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Essay #4 CMP - Moral issues

Course Number: CMP 125, Fall 2008

College/University: Rider

Word Count: 1067

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Doing well and doing good may sound similar in a literal way, but morally, they are polar opposites. Throughout history, the moral issues of personal gain as opposed to the well-being of all life, have been both pondered and experimented with. Dating from the last few centuries B.C.E. with philosophers such as Socrates, and his students Plato and Aristotle, and even before, with Hammurabi's Law's, the question of...

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well Doing and doing good may sound similar in a literal way, but morally, they are polar opposites. Throughout history, the moral issues of personal gain as opposed to the well-being of all life, have been both pondered and experimented with. Dating from the last few centuries B.C.E. with philosophers such as Socrates, and his students Plato and Aristotle, and even before, with Hammurabi's Law's, the question of what is good or just has been deeply explored. Contemporary examples of societies based on the ideas of doing well or good are capitalism in the west, and attempts at creating a utopia through communism further to the east. Doing well or doing good are highly paradoxical ideologies, hence the rivalries throughout history between supporters of each side, and the everlasting debates which still continue in every society. The question of whether to act or not to act is just as important, as supporters of a certain ideology may not practice it in their own lives, which is just as futile as valuing the opposing ideology. Whether one looks out strictly for himself or keeps the sake of others in mind, one can only be just if he practices his true values. Furthermore, if one believes that something is wrong but at the same has his own interests in mind, he is unjust to act for his own interests if it involves doing what he believes is wrong. When the the deepest questions of morality are pondered, as Ghandi said, one can only "Be the change [he] wish[es] to see in the world". George Orwell, Claire McCarthy, both writers of their own life experiences, both talk of unjust actions that they took. George Orwell, in "Shooting an Elephant", did not wish to shoot the elephant for moral reasons, but since "the people expected it of me and I had got to do it", he gave into his personal fears of "being laughed at". Claire McCarthy, in "Dog Lab", tells of her days at Harvard's medical school, where the Professor set up a lab that unfortunately involved the killing of several dogs since they were to be dissected, but "the lab was optional", due to morality issues that some students may have had. McCarthy "didn't like the idea of doing the lab; it felt wrong", but did it for personal gain. Both Orwell and McCarthy did not act accordingly to their moral values, resulting in unjust behavior. The people of Omelas in the short story "Those Who Walk Away From Omelas" by Ursula K Le Guin are also unjust. Although they aimed to create a utopia, a strong paradoxical issue was at hand since in a dark, damp, cellar, they sacrafied " a child... it has become imbecile through fear, malnutrition, and neglect". Many people of Omelas have come to see this child at one time or another, "some of them understand why, some do not", but "these young spectators are always shocked and sickened at the sight. They feel disgust which they had thought themselves superior to". The ones who witness this, and are upset by it, but continue to live in Omelas, are unjust, where as who "Those walk away from Omelas", are just, acting according to their moral values. *paragraph arguing that orwell and mccarthy were just because they did not have The phrase 'ignorance is bliss', has much validity in logic. The ignorant know only the way of life in which they were raised, and are naive to the many alternative ways of thinking and living. In one way, this is a very mundane life, although they obviously are not aware of this, so it would just be an outsiders perspective. Secondly, the Ignorant do not have to undertake the task of deciding what is morally right and wrong, which can be very burdensome on the mind, and then having the pressure of acting just according to what they value to be right. Ignorance is a huge obstacle in coming to a single consensus in the whole of humanity. One can only do what he knows. If he knows life from a single perspective, he unquestionably will live this way, where as if he has been taught several ways of living, he will use his naturally given method of reason to find his true values. The ignorant cannot necessarily be considered unjust, because regardless of how naive they are, they too have values. In Annie Dillards "The Deer at Providencia", the townspeople of Providencia have a cruel way, to the outsiders eye, of preparing their game. Although the deer has "a rope around its neck and three feet caught in the rope" and "the rope lacked slack to let it rest its head in the dust", the villagers do not trap the deer in this way for the sake of being cruel, but because "it is a fact that high levels of lactic acid, which builds up in the muscle tissues during exertion, tenderizes [the meat]". Since the villagers are used to this culinary tradition, they are naive to the North American visitors perspectives of sorrow for the "Pobrecito" (poor little thing), therefore they are acting according to their only values, so they are not acting unjust. The issues of doing well or good, acting or not acting according to your moral values, whether the ignorant can or cannot be just, or in a more general sense, what is just, is highly paradoxical. Orwell and McCarthy both acted unjust for giving into temptation, but at the same time, were confused, "stuck in a way that I'd never been before", and in Orwells case, "stuck between my hatred of the empire I served and my rage against the evil-spirited little beasts who tried to make my job impossible" so one could argue that their values were not fully developed, and if they had no true values to base their actions on, how could they have acted unjustly? The answer is that they still felt that killing the animal's was wrong, so even if they were confused of their true values, they still felt a sympathy for the animals and proceeded to kill them. Ignorant or not, if one practices his true values, he his just. If one man perceives another mans values unjust, who is right? Both, to themselves. This is the unsatisfactory nature of life, and the world, the paradox in which we live.

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