Morality: Evolution vs Devolution

I first referred to evolution and devolution in my posts on cultural evolution and self-evolution.  In this post I address evolution and devolution as they are related to morality. I assert that the path of human moral development at the cultural and self levels does not follow a straight line. I have dramatically discovered in my own journey that  I have had definitive positive morality times and negative morality times. I have had times of moral growth and times of sliding backwards. I have had my black-guard moments of behavioral misconduct where I was heartless-and-careless. And, I have had my light-guard moments of genuine heartfelt compassion and caring. The path of morality has a fluidity to it with its many ups and downs.  In our moral development we individually and culturally often take two steps forward and one step backwards.  Os Guinness said human behavior is “capable of the very best and the very worst” (2005) I maintain that there is a constant individual and cultural struggle between the dualistic moral precepts first defined and enunciated by St. Augustine: 1.) preservation of the species (social-interest), and 2.) self-preservation (self-interest). I have discovered that I have to be diligently on-guard for those times of personal devolutionary unraveling. Actually, we all must be vigilant for those wrongdoing times when we personally and culturally deviate from innate natural laws and the human rights attached to those laws. For British historian Arnold Toynbee all civilizations have life cycles —> they begin, they develop, they mature, and they die. Most past civilizations  die because of periods of internal cultural devolutionary times of being ethically and morally destitude.

Roger Wescott portrayed humans as “behaviorally the least predictable of animals,” and “by virtue of this changeability, will not maintain a constant level of humanity.” (1969) Os  Guiness said, “far from being essentially good – and improving all the time, with occasional lapses on the upward evolutionary path to perfection – our human nature is blatantly contradictory.” (2005) However, on a positive note, after having reviewed human evolutionary and devolutionary historical patterns over the last 6,000 to 10,000 years, some historians and anthropologists argue that it appears that human beings and their cultures have become more civilized and humane. It is documented that as people and their cultures become better educated, have advanced policing, have sophisticated judicial systems, are better able to attack medical diseases, and have higher standards of living they do become more humane. And, as people and their cultures have a greater appreciation for natural laws and rights, and have a greater understanding of the human condition, those people and their cultures do indeed indicate a tendency towards having less hard and soft violence (more to come). I welcome comments on moral evolution and devolution.



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