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Difference between Morality and Virtue?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by godnotgod, May 1, 2010.

  1. godnotgod

    godnotgod Thou art That

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    Does anyone care to discuss the differences, and their implications, between Morality and Virtue?

    Working definitions might be in order.
     
  2. Nowhere Man

    Nowhere Man Bompu Zen Man with a little bit of Bushido.

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    Morality is what you "see" in yourself. Virtue is what others "see" in you. -NM-
     
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  3. Rainbow Mage

    Rainbow Mage Lib Democrat/Agnostic/Epicurean-ish/Buddhist-ish

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    Anyone can be moral, and be puffed up and prideful about it. A person of virtue has wisdom and treats everyone the same as himself.
     
  4. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Greased up & ready for action!
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    Revolting definitions:

    Morality is a set of values.
    Virtue is their practice.
     
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  5. Madhuri

    Madhuri RF Goddess
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    I like this! However you define morality, I think it can be said that virtue is the actual practice of what you think is good or right.
     
  6. tumbleweed41

    tumbleweed41 Resident Liberal Hippie

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    Well said.
     
  7. godnotgod

    godnotgod Thou art That

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    So Virtue is a subjective set of values that are put into practice. The Inquisition and Nazism were practices launched via set of moral values, but the outcomes were not too desirable.

    So actions based upon what one thinks is good or right do not necessarily entail positive results.

    Is this Virtue or Morality we are speaking of?
     
    #7 godnotgod, May 1, 2010
    Last edited: May 1, 2010
  8. Madhuri

    Madhuri RF Goddess
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    If morality is subjective then is not virtue also subjective?
     
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  9. dust1n

    dust1n Zindīq

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    Virtue is a singular act that is good in and of itself.

    Morality is a system of virtues.
     
  10. godnotgod

    godnotgod Thou art That

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    In other words, is it a matter of one's personal viewpoint. Because morality is derived from a personal set of values, one may interpret reality as one wishes, just has the perpetrators of the Inquisition did. It defines "us" vs. "them".

    Virtue, on the other hand, comes not from personal opinion, but from a universal source. It is not a value system that is constructed, but a pre-existing quality which one is connected to.

    The source of Virtue may be seen as Dharma, Brahman, Tao, Original Mind or the Absolute.

    In short, Virtue does not come into being via thought or belief, while Morality does.
    Morality is superimposed upon the individual externally, through social indoctrination; Virtue is an intrinsic value, coming from within, but it is impersonal.

    "The sage caries the jade close to his heart"
    Tao
     
  11. godnotgod

    godnotgod Thou art That

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    But that also defines Morality, does it not? Men constantly act out of moral rectitude, but so many times the outcomes of such actions prove themselves to be negative if not dangerous. This can hardly be called 'Virtue", can it?



    It sounds as if Morality simply equals Virtue in this case. Is that the case? Or is Virtue something entirely different than Morality?
     
    #11 godnotgod, May 1, 2010
    Last edited: May 1, 2010
  12. Copernicus

    Copernicus Godless Hierophant

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    Morality is the set of social conventions that allow people to interact efficiently and safely with each other. Virtue is moral behavior.
     
  13. godnotgod

    godnotgod Thou art That

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    The Inquisition was a morally-driven, institutionalized program, but the outcomes of its activities can hardly be seen as being beneficial as in 'efficient and safe'.

    Is Virtue behavior or is it a state of being? I still believe everyone here is equating Virtue with Morality, and not understanding the difference. Are we on the same page when I say that Morality always involves a value judgment of Good and/or Evil, where one's moral viewpoint determines that action must be undertaken for the Good and against Evil.

    I think what you are describing may have some morality in it, but essentially "efficient and safe' is about the Social Contract Theory, where you don't step on my foot and I won't step on yours for our mutual benefit. It is born out of the hard-won realization that if I willfully do harm to you, I eventually do harm to my own person. And so, the restraint becomes a mechanism to prevent harm to both parties.

    Morality goes further than that, in that it attempts to make people 'good'.

    Virtue is a condition where man is already intrinsically good, and no action need be taken to make him 'good' according to some concept of goodness.
     
    #13 godnotgod, May 1, 2010
    Last edited: May 1, 2010
  14. Copernicus

    Copernicus Godless Hierophant

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    It is simplistic to think that all Catholics shared the same moral viewpoint as those who carried out the worst excesses of the Inquisition. People have different opinions about what is moral and what is not. When societies come into conflict with each other, it is often the case that they compete over whose set of rules defines proper conduct. Moral codes define interactions between members of society, but they do not necessarily apply to outsiders.

    The problem is that there is no single, uniform definition of good and evil conduct. All societies tend to converge on some similar rules regarding the sanctity of life, property, family, mating behavior, etc., but there is still a lot of room for variation. Generally speaking, what makes people safe and comfortable is considered good. What threatens their well-being is considered bad or evil. It's just that not everyone has the same formula for achieving those goals. Virtuous behavior is defined as behavior that conforms to the socially accepted moral code.

    No, I think that there is considerable variation in the moral codes that individuals possess. It isn't just about mutual respect. Lots of human societies have rigid hierarchical structures in which the rules for one class of people differ from those of others. Such social structures might be unstable over the long run, but most human societies throughout recorded history have maintained different standards of conduct for different strata of society.

    As I said, what is considered "good" varies considerably even in the same society. Moral standards are constantly in flux.

    There is no such thing as intrinsic goodness. Those moral codes that produce the best effects for human well-being tend to prevail precisely because stronger societies compete more effectively against weaker ones. We have more egalitarian societies in the modern world because societies based on mutual respect and egalitarianism tend to be stronger and more stable than those that are not. What you consider "intrinsic goodness" is an effect of your past history and your interaction with others. If you were the only person in existence, then there would be no need for a moral code. It would have no purpose. It is always relative to a social context.
     
  15. godnotgod

    godnotgod Thou art That

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    Well, no, that is not what I was implying. The Inquisition was an outcome of the moral code in the extreme but also as a matter of degree. The fact remains that certain conditions developed within a morally driven society to produce such a condition. The seeds of extremism were already within.

    Yes, and that is because values of right and wrong; good and evil, are connected to authority, and usually the highest authority is a supernatural one. The fact that morality is variable is an indication of the fact that ideas of right and wrong are conceptual. That is the crux of the matter. Sooner or later, conditions will arise which challenge the rigidity of the moral code, and what challenges it is man's virtuous nature. Virtue is what sees that there is a discrepancy between the moral code and reality, and it is that discrepancy which eventually leads to unbearable suffering.

    I am afraid I cannot agree with this. True Virtue is never morally directed. It is not based on concepts of good and evil, right and wrong. You are still speaking of moral behavior that is driven by concepts of what is right and wrong. Essentially speaking, the moral code is born of tribal man, while Virtue is a characteristic of our true, natural self.


    The point I am trying to make is that, regardless of the form the moral code takes, it always involves ulterior motive, while Virtue is not driven by any gaining idea at all.


    Yes, it's constant fluctuation is an indication that it is determined by men's temporal desires, which change from time to time. Virtue does not change its nature and is not driven by men's fickleness.


    I am using the phrase 'intrinsic goodness' to equate with 'innate virtue', as opposed to learned behavior such as the moral code.

    But where has all this led? We are in more turmoil now than ever before. Competition is not the way. It only leads to more and more conflict, as the stronger 'morally superior' societies attempt to superimpose their will on the rest of us, and on nature itself, culminating in an untenable situation for everyone involved. Such is the fate of those who follow the moral code to its bitter end. We end up trading off our real freedom for more and more control, based upon fear, and in the guise of security and peace. It is'nt real. The moral code is only a concoction designed originally as training wheels which got carried to the extreme. We forgot to discard it because we have thwarted the inner directed person. Now it has become married to technology and the monied interests, who use it to justify more and more control in the guise of Law and Order, and we keep buying into the sham, unwittingly, until we now find ourselves caught in its web of deception. What we desperately need is to get back in touch with our innate Virtue.

    Actually, no. Intrinsic goodness, or Virtue, is never the result of past history or learned behavior. That, again, is morality.

    Virtue comes from the universe itself. It is a characteristic of our true nature, before we became indoctrinated with morality and ideas of good and evil. The Chinese refer to this state of being as Pu, meaning the Uncarved Block.

    "The essence of the Uncarved Block is that things in their original simplicity contain their own natural power (te; virtue); power that is easily spoiled and lost when that simplicity is changed. This principle applies not only to things, but to people as well. When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few, other things [like morality] that get in the way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret known to those of the Uncarved Block. Along with that comes the ability to do things spontaneously and have them work, odd as that may appear to others at times."

    http://www.just-pooh.com/tao.html

    The marks placed upon the Uncarved Block are equivalent to the marks placed upon the individual by society, such as morality. Morality assumes that if man is not controlled, chaos will result. But we have discovered such people who were untouched by modern civilized 'moral' societies, and found them to be peaceful, cooperative, and genuinely loving, all without morality.
     
    #15 godnotgod, May 2, 2010
    Last edited: May 2, 2010
  16. Copernicus

    Copernicus Godless Hierophant

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    Only in societies dominated by religion. In Communist countries, the moral authority has been the Communist Party, which often behaves like a religion.

    I see virtue as no less subjective than the morality that defines it. I just do not agree with your attempt to separate virtue from morality. Virtuous behavior is behavior that conforms to ideal behavior encapsulated in a moral code. What you are talking about here is a case of moral conflict.

    OK, then. We disagree strongly on that point. I do not think that you can begin to define virtue independently of a moral code. It has nothing to do with "tribal man". You haven't been reading Rousseau lately, have you? ;)

    Nonsense. People can disagree strenuously over what constitutes virtuous behavior. For example, it is not the same for a samurai and a Quaker. The former might feel it a matter of virtue to kill an innocent person under certain circumstances, whereas a Quaker would feel honor-bound never to kill another human under any circumstances, even in war. In some Hindu societies, it might be considered virtuous behavior for a woman to throw herself on her husband's funeral fire, whereas a devout Catholic would consider that sinful behavior.

    I know, but I do not see virtue as any less subjective than morality.

    Evolution never stops.

    You see virtue as a noble struggle to defeat moral fanaticism. Those you imagine yourself struggling against might well define virtue as defending the honor of the church (or whatever social structure they feel loyalty towards). Honor can sometimes drive the "virtuous" to commit horrible atrocities on the ground that the alternative is worse. People have committed "honor killings" in the name of virtue.
     
  17. godnotgod

    godnotgod Thou art That

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    Noble...shmoble! Nobleness has nothing to do with what I am saying. Struggle is just the outcome of a 'moral' ruling class that has corrupted its own codes, causing the unnecessary suffering of many. Virtue is simply the state of mind which sees what has occurred. When the victims of a corrupted moral society have nothing left to lose, they revolt, not out of virtue, but out of a desperate need to be relieved from the misery of an unjust system caused by the morally corrupt. A morally driven ruling class must constantly invent new enemies and heroes to maintain itself, and so becomes corrupt in the process.

    Yes indeed! They may attempt to use words like virtue and honor to continue to maintain the phony facade of their corrupt system which maintains their socio-economic status. They will do everything in their power, as dictated by their corrupt moral code, to keep down those they consider inferior to them. They may use words like virtue, but what is really at work here is morality, and it is rotten. True virtue has nothing to do with their position.

    You have made my case for me.:D

    In reading your last post in its entirety, it seems clear to me that you are using the word 'virtue' interchangeably with 'morality', for all practical purposes. I definitely am not. I suppose I should have put forth working definitions to begin with.

    If you read my post previous to your last one, I mentioned the idea of the "Uncarved Block" as a metaphor for that state of mind before social indoctrination (and the teaching of the moral code) occurs. It is this original state of mind that has an intrinsic virtue that is not learned; that does not change. It is what one sees the true nature of reality with. When the mind becomes indoctrinated with beliefs, ideas, concepts of Good and Evil, the virtuous nature becomes subjugated to the dictates of a system which pits moral Good against moral Evil, and takes action based upon such beliefs. It is this action that you are calling virtuous when it is really moralistic, moralistic being defined here as being driven by arbitrary value judgments of Good and Evil. The morally indoctrinated mind sees them in conflict with one another, where one must defeat the other, and, so, the world in turmoil as it is. The virtuous mind does not see Good and Evil in conflict, but instead sees how they inseparably interact one with the other. It is the mind which sees the Outcome of the illusion that they are in conflict to begin with:

    "When a concept of The Good is formed, a concept of Evil is also automatically formed. Having formed a concept of Evil, it must now be fought, as dictated by The Good. In fighting Evil, one only makes Evil stronger. Therefore, the wise man never tries to do [moral] Good."
    from Taoism

    "Your nature is to be good because you came from the Tao, which is goodness. But when you're trying to be good, your essential nature becomes inoperative. In your effort to be good, moral, or obedient, you lose touch with your Tao nature."
    http://www.art-spirit.net/frames/DyerEssay-TaoTeChing38.html
     
    #17 godnotgod, May 3, 2010
    Last edited: May 3, 2010
  18. Copernicus

    Copernicus Godless Hierophant

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    But the word accurately describes your romanticized notions of virtue.

    You completely blew past the point. Virtue can vary according to different moral standards. The perception of virtue is subjective. You talk as if you thought everyone agreed with your concept of virtue alone. That isn't the way the world works.

    You seem to be taking the position that everyone who does not share your concept of virtue is being disingenuous or corrupt. Others can just as well argue that your moral code is the one that is corrupted and that your use of the word 'virtue' has nothing to do with the real concept.

    It always helps to define your terms before you start a debate on them. Most people seem to perceive a relationship between virtue and morality that you do not.

    Right, but that is just an analogy. You presented no real argument to support the idea that the mind is a tabula rasa before "social indoctrination". Indeed, it is that period of social indoctrination that has defined your concept of virtue. As I pointed out earlier, a Quaker and a samurai are likely to have very different concepts of virtue. In both cases, though, what makes them the same is rigid adherence to an idealized, morally-defined behavior.
     
  19. godnotgod

    godnotgod Thou art That

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    Romantic? Where do you see 'romantic'? If anything, the moralistic concept of Virtue is highly Romantic, as it is about Good triumphing over Evil, necessitating the Hero Myth, as in Sir Galahad and other Romantic imagery.


    What concept of virtue? Virtue is not a concept, but it can and is conceptualized. The moralistic view of virtue is conceptual, but Virtue itself is not. That is why I started this topic and am taking the time to discuss the difference between the two.


    Not at all. I have never implied nor said as much. What I DID say is that the moral view of virtue inevitably leads to a corrupt state. I fully accept that most people do in fact see Virtue as a moral issue. It is because most of us are socially indoctrinated into the moral codes of different cultures, and most people are unaware of the Virtue of which I speak.

    Oh, now that is a real joke!:D Apparently you have not been reading the content of my posts very well. Once again: Virtue is amoral. It has nothing to do with moral codes, even though it is interpreted that way by the common man. Secondly, real Virtue is incorruptable. That is why it is called Virtue.:D And thirdly, what 'real concept'? If it is a concept, then it is not the real thing. Virtue is real. A moral interpretation and application of it is not. It is morality in disguise.


    Did you read my opening lines? I clearly stated that 'working definitions' are in order, but I do apologize for not having stated my own at the outset. The reason that most people connect virtue with morality is pointed out above.

    This is not a debate, nor do I wish for it to become one. I simply want to have a discussion, and to cause people to take a second look at the premises they do hold about morality and virtue. Yes, I was aware that most do speak virtue and morality in the same mouthful. Hence, this topic.

    I would like to address the rest of your post later. Time to hit the hay:sleep:and thanks for the discussion.
     
  20. dust1n

    dust1n Zindīq

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    Morality in a descriptive sense does not entail that the particular system of conduct is virtuous, so perhaps I defined Morality wrong, because it is not a system of (virtues) something that is good in and of itself (whatever the really means), but rather a system of any code of conduct.
     
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