This blog space, throughout its brief posting history, has emphasized the profound phenomenon of our life-long (intimately, private) conversation with ourselves, which, ultimately, results in an all-important, private internal portrait, of who we truly are.
The existence of such matters as, love, dislike, pride, shame, feelings of capability, or incapability, for example, are essentially, (if not fully) internal. Legitimate feelings of success are truly the product of an internal determination of self-fulfillment and self-realization; as opposed to an audit of accumulated assets, or the adulation of the crowd.
We have often written of an ongoing and life-long intimate conversation within ourselves, [often articulated through emotional feelings, or reactions], responsive to events, which provides, among other things, the background for the determination of our judgments and our opinions.
At some point in the course of one’s developing maturity and life experience, he is able to attain a relatively confident and fixed understanding, or personal perception, of his self- identity; a subjective decision, which, productively or not, accounts for his independent exercise of judgment and, generally, his associations. One’s characteristic identity and persona is affected, as well, by his interactions with members of his own community; the extent of such influence, of course, is dependent upon the individual’s relative degree of independence, or inclination to conformity. Fundamentally, we are of necessity, ethically and contractually, ( The “Social Compact”) bound to the accepted standards of morality of the society in which we live, and interact.
It is inarguable, that the sum total of one’s perception of past experiences, provides the accumulated building materials of his developing “do it yourself” self-image, and personal sense of identity. Such vital, experiential, development is the determinant, of our choices of social relationships, political opinions, field of endeavor and, of the most crucial significance, our avowed behavioral principles and moral choices.
We have consistently and strenuously maintained, that a positive self- image and a developed sense of moral responsibility are the only truly reliable source of sound and predictable morality. The consistently effective. actuating dynamic, governing our moral choices, is reliably the moral prerogative dictated by our personal self image. The purported motivation of a system of rewards and punishments, whether religious, or secular, is a distraction from, and possibly, a discouragement of, intrinsic morality; it is behaving well for a lollipop or for an orchestra seat in heaven; additionally, shall we consider acts (good good or bad), that are done privately, or, alone in the dark?
We conclude with a illustrative, fictional, anecdote:
Let us suppose, that, in a moment of confusion, I steal your new, shiny and expensive fountain pen. To continue the fiction, let us further, believe that a couple of hours after the theft, I have such intense feelings of guilt and remorse, that I, tearfully, return the pen to you, in a state of misery and in an abject and sincere manner, express my heartfelt apologies and feelings of tearful remorse to you.
You, being a sensitive, empathetic and generous person, state, ” I forgive you completely; and,” Let’s pretend it never happened.” But I, myself, cannot forget the wrongful act although I have secured your complete forgiveness; I have still to deal with the agonizing, personal thought, “What kind of person can I, in truth be, to have stolen the pen in the first place?”
True and lasting morality, like most important human phenomena, are internally generated, experienced and evaluated, and not practiced in anticipation of future rewards or consequences.