Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Morality of the Mind

One of the most unsettling ideas in The Mustard Seed is that morality is a function of the mind.

Why is this unsettling? Because we’ve been taught throughout out lives that – at least when it comes to moral matters – “emotion” and “instinct” are superior to “logic.”

We are always told to “go with our heart,” and that “the heart has reasons that reason can not know.”

But in The Mustard Seed, I’ve argued for a different philosophy. I believe that by keeping an open mind, using reason, and harnessing the courage to follow reason wherever it takes you - we follow the true moral path.

Of course, as I’ve said before, I’m not “anti-emotion,” per se. But I do think that emotion should be the servant of reason – and not the other way around.

Think of it this way… if morality was your instinct, it wouldn't be morality…you would be nothing more than a robot…why? Because your course of action has already been programmed into you…and therefore, you could not be held accountable for your actions…after all, we don’t applaud a robot for his MORAL behavior, or condemn him for his IMMORAL behavior.

What makes something “moral” or “immoral” is the possibility of choice…the ability to CHOOSE between the “moral” and the “immoral”…and what fives us that ability? Reason. Judgment. The power of the mind.

Now don’t get me wrong…I certainly don’t want to insinuate that morality is a function of INTELLIGENCE…I have no desire to imply that people who scored 1600 on their SATs are “more moral” than people who never went to college…what is at stake here is not INTELLIGENCE, per se; but REASON…they are not the same thing…trust me: I know enough “smart but irrational people” to admit that the connection is not airtight. So thankfully, the ability to lead a rational life is open to all of us - regardless of our IQ scores.


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