Someone in a philosophical forum, asked: ”Is ethics necessary?”

It goes without saying that ethics is necessary in any society to lay under law and order. But it does not stop there. Ethological studies have shown unambiguously that intelligent animals have a sense of ethics. (How does that sense of ethics arise is not clear to official science; philosophically, it is, though.)

Ethics is, to a great extent, within standard deviation, something we tend to do. It’s necessary, because we are born, and raised, most of the time, out of love.

A “moderator” of the forum I took part in, “Spiral Out” spiraled my idea out, by declaring that many non-human primates kill young not related to them, just because they are not their own. He asked whether killing the young was my idea of ethical behavior.

I had said: “tend to”. From the killing ape’s point of view, his behavior is ethical. Why? It’s clear that killing the young will make the female more amenable, by terminating what the enraged male perceives as her unhealthy obsession with the baby.

Ethics, comes from the Greek “ethos”, just like moral, which comes from the Latin “mores”. Both “ethos” and “mores” mean the same thing:  what is customary. Females, by the way, intuit all of this, and try to alleviate the problem with loving tactics to dangerous males, or by making alliances with other males: it’s very complicated, but they cope.

Yet, paradoxically, I also do believe that cruelty is a fundamental tendency in human (“natural”) ethics (see “Natural Born Killers”, a movie… That natural cruelty was also one of the main points of De Sade’s philosophy, let alone Greek or Roman philosophies). By coincidence, I just wrote an essay about that. There is no contradiction, ever since all is fair in love and war. Cruelty is one dimension, goodness another. So is empathy. I made no mystery that the Good Side dominates, although, sometimes, the Dark Side is necessary.

Spiral Out then pirouetted, approving what I said, and proclaiming that is was precisely because of that he was a “moral relativist”. Well, I am absolutely not a moral relativist, and the following is why.

Morality is not Special Relativity, with moving frames, here and there, and all uniform motions are relative.

Indeed, humans have always lived in groups. All advanced animals (no exception) cannot survive without a society. That society can be reduced to mommy (say with leopards).

The local social group, and even the species, or the environment constitute absolute reference frames for what is customary. Why? Simply because social, or species specific, or environmental survival forbids some behaviors. For example if apes killed all youngsters who feel unrelated, the species would die off. It is indeed observed that most advanced primates’ females have many sex partners, and thus an ethical modus vivendi was found.

In light of these absolutes, the social group, the species, the environment, ethics cannot be all over the place. Morality is actually, within standard deviation, and within standard circumstances, absolute.

How can morality be both absolute and relative? Before I call Quantum Theory to the rescue (it provides with a model), let me emphasize that morality is not a law. Morality is not a measurement.

Morality is, intrinsically, an average. Morality is the average of happenstance with moral significance, namely those that can enter said average.

The correct mechanical analogy is with Quantum Mechanics. In Quantum Mechanics, trajectories, and presence, are all over the place: they fill up all the accessible universe with complex waves. Those Quantum waves cannot be measured. However the probability of an occurrence is strictly determined. The latter is called a measurement.

Similarly, morality is strictly determined, as an outcome, although events of a moral character fill up the entire space that behavior can access.

SS assassinating civilians in extermination camps thought they were acting with superlative morality. However, they were wrong. Why? On a species scale, they were completely immoral, because, had other men in a situation of power behaved the same, exterminating whoever they could exterminate, humanity would have been exterminated.

As it turned out, they were even immoral relative to their chosen reference group: the Second World War, thus Nazism, exterminated more than ten million Germans.

The Quantum shows that not all that computes can be measured. The complex probability Quantum waves cannot be measured, only be computed with (after making the hypothesis of their existence). Only the end probability can be forecast, and measured. This has caused enormous confusion in Physics, so the point is not obvious. A similar confusion is at the root of the perception of moral relativism.

Is there a relationship between morality and the Quantum, beyond this analogy? Yes. Local morality, in the instant, as the expression of Free Will, is obviously a Quantum phenomenon. Thus the illusion of moral relativism is born out of the Quantum. And, like the Quantum, ends up with a classical world.

Hence Greco-Roman etymology correctly abstracted the wisdom of eons… and common sense. That morality, and a sense of justice is absolute is increasingly confirmed by ethological studies. Capuchin Monkeys, for example, have a very developed sense of equity. They get very angry when one of their fellows is treated better, for no good reason. They have been known to throw at the experimenter’s face whatever came handy when a lousy radish was offered as reward while the fellow next door got a delicious grape for the same task.

Thus, when the pitchforks come after the plutocrats, we will finally honor what we were born with.

Patrice Ayme’


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11 Responses to “ETHICS IS ABSOLUTE”

  1. Paul Handover Says:

    Where would you see integrity fitting in to this? For my own sake, I see integrity as the preferred word to ethics albeit the two words are not synonymous.

    Fascinating post and one I could be tempted to republish on Learning from Dogs if that was acceptable?

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Paul: Integrity comes from intangere, what has not (in) be touched (tangere). An equivalent is in-tact. So what has not been corrupted. Ethos and Mores, though, are deeper. Someone with untouched morality can be called “integrous”.

      However one of the problem I touched on is that some people with the worst morality view themselves as untouched. It’s precisely that untouched character that made them worse. Some Nazis refused transfusions from US medics in WWII because it could not be ascertained to them that the blood was Jew-free (so to speak). And they persisted, although they had been told they would die, so died they did.

      Other examples: the 0/11 fanatics, Saint Bernard, etc.

      I would be honored if you reproduced the essay on Learning From Dogs. Even Alexi now is learning from dogs!

  2. Alexi Helligar Says:

    A thougthful essay. I have always said that, Society is God! In the past you strongly objected. It appears that your are starting to see things my way.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Patrice Ayme Alexi: Thanks for the approval. I always agree with what you wanted to say. My objection was about form: I don’t believe in Dog! So I’m not going to say society is Dog, when I view “Dog” as an insult! But we totally agree on the fundamentals. Society’s survival provides with a fixed reference frame.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks for the approval. I always agree with what you wanted to say. My objection was about form: I don’t believe in Dog! So I’m not going to say society is Dog, when I view “Dog” as an insult! But we totally agree on the fundamentals. Society’s survival provides with a fixed reference frame.

  3. Alexi Helligar Says:

    I do not think it is right for the thoughtful to abandon the word “God” to the abusive and thoughtless. It is a perfectly good word that points to an important survival concept. So I will not let belief stand in the way of awareness and meaning. I use the saying, Society is God, to point the proper from and not the traditional incorrect one. BTW, in many ways, dogs are far more noble than men.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Well, I seem to rarely concede anything, but here I will. You got a very important point here Alexi. One could counteract many a terrorist by telling them they destroy “God” aka “society” with their activities. They may disagree, but they would have to respect our religion to some extent. Actually I have argued that point about religion long ago, by saying that, in a republic, the republic is the religion.

    • Paul Handover Says:

      ”dogs are far more noble than men.” Well said that man! 🙂

  4. The Satanic Imperative | Some of Patrice Ayme's Thoughts Says:

    […] those who rule have want the rabble believe that white is black, and black is white. Indeed, ethics is absolute, but, in an unjust society, it’s those who rule, who want to be […]

  5. Western Civilization Is Not Christian | Patrice Ayme's Thoughts Says:

    […] Let me emphasize at the outset that there is everything good in embracing the good aspects of Christianity, as those fit human ethology at its best. Ethics, indeed, is absolute. […]

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