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Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Relativity Of Morals

 Rudyard Kipling, Author Of The Jungle Book

Moral Relativism has been made a big deal in our time.
I consider it another one of those conceptual prisons we find ourselves lured into, then become too lazy and befuddled to find our way out from. It is, indeed, a classic fly in the fly-bottle.

I was reading about Mary Zimmerman's production of  Disney's The Jungle Book in Chicago, and some questions posed to her as to whether Rudyard Kipling's racism were a problem for her.

Chicago Magazine:

How Mary Zimmerman Handled Kipling’s Racism and Misogyny in a New The Jungle Book Musical
The adapter extraordinaire dives into the controversial aspects of the story she’s staging at the Goodman Theatre.
By Catey Sullivan
...The Jungle Book, and King Louie in particular, has been criticized as playing into racial stereotypes. Was that a concern when adapting the film?
Yeah, it was a concern. But I’ve decided to make it not a concern. I know what the lyrics say and how squeamish you can get about that. But we’ve done some things with casting that I’m not going to give away, but that I think will remove that element. I know what the lyrics of [“I Wanna Be Like You”] say, but look at the original—it’s sung by Louis Prima. He’s the King of the Swingers. It’s something I think where the racism is in the eye of the beholder, you know? If you look at that as racist, doesn’t that say more about what you’re projecting on to the character? There’s clearly politics in the [British] accents Disney used, but I don’t think we’ll be using accents at all...

And it occurred to me that racism is not in the eye of the beholder, until the point is reached when one begins talking about racism.

Once individual speakers begin a palaver about racism or any moral virtue, it does indeed take on the appearance of some notion of relativism, or - as is often expressed - "true for me."

There are absolutes until we begin to image and speak; then we break the absolutes down into a negotiation of individual expressions. These expressions are mixed into a communally agreed upon world view, not because that world view is true, but because we actually agreed upon it.

Our communal world view is "relative" to us in the sense that we negotiated and caucused it together.

But racism is not in the eye of the beholder.
There are moral absolutes.
There is no Atomism in Ethics....

Philosophy broke down into (1) Atomism, which modern science has as its realm, and (2) Aristotle, Aquinas, Averroes, and Akiba, which is the proper realm of ethics.
Religion suffers most in the modern day by ignoring the active participation of religious people in the active negotiation of the communal vision. Our common belief is mostly a creed, a Credo, a Shahada, which acts like a person's cartel of inclusion into a religion, but avoids the strenuous "quest" of that person to seek the absolute of salvation.


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