Morality: Nature and Scope
No education can be deemed complete, without a moral development of the person. Mere literacy does not make an individual educated. Rather, being educated is being capable to reflect and evaluate the social world around us. Absence of moral values can bring adverse impacts for the society. An immoral, but skilled person is more dangerous to the society, than a moral but unskilled one.
‘no knowledge is better than half-knowledge’.
Most of the pathological practices are the result of this half-knowledge. The growing incidence of murder, rape, arson, violence and terrorism are nothing but a product of wrongly conceptualized theories and ideas.
There is an urgent need to introduce the moral content in education. There is a need to check the uncontrolled expansion of desires and wants. The expansion of our uncontrolled materialistic desires has been taking place at the cost of our moral stature. Thus, there is a need to arose the moral consciousness of man.
Moral Education Vs Religious Education
Very often, moral education is mistaken for religious education. However, there exist a gap between the two. It needs to be understood that- while a good part of the moral education emerges from religious principles and ideas, it is not necessary that morality is necessarily based on religion. It is possible to live with high moral ideas, while being agnostic.
Another point of divergence between morality and religion is that-
while the ideas and principles of religion have a authoritarian force, the principles of morality are largely open to one’s rational evaluation. A rational mind is able to see the foundational base of the moral principles. Thus, he follows the moral principles out of his free reason, and not because of some transcendental order. Such a freedom might not be available in a religion, as religion is based on complete surrender and faith, whereas reason tries to evaluate different things. Thus, there might be some instances of divergence between morality and religion.
Religion expects the followers to blindly follow the percepts and beliefs of the community. Thus, it does not give an opportunity to revise and evaluate the moral principles. This, sometimes, acts as an obstruction to the growth of individual’s moral development.
There is a need to revise the moral principles being followed, according to the changing times and circumstances. However, religious codes provide little room for this. Only a morality, based on free reason can provide such a room to adapt to the changing times and circumstances.
This religion can provide no firm moral foundation. However, it might also not be denied that our moral codes are often converging with the religious ideas. This happens because- generally the religious ideas are nothing but a result of the experiences of the ages, that the society has undergone.
Morality: Objective Vs. Subjective
The Objective theory of morality believes that moral percepts are objectively valid, that is, they are valid for all times, all places and all conditions, irrespective of our cultural context and beliefs. However, such a conception of morality is highly contested.
An important principle of the human society is the idea of man as a free, active agent responsible for his actions. This idea is the centre of the concept of Existentialism, which believes in the individual’s autonomy and freedom to choose. However, this concept also implies that man, as a free and self-motivated agent, does not have the freedom to invade the rights and freedom of others.
This concept also implies that a person’s values are his own. A man cannot be called free, if his actions are forced. Thus, moral education cannot be imparted by instructing the children about the values to be followed. One should only be made capable of evaluating the different ideas, and deducing the moral principles for oneself.
Thus, the subjectivists believe that morality is defined by the time and circumstances. Also, it varies from person to person. It is an imperative for a free society that, every person is able to decide for himself, while not invading the sphere of other’s freedom. A rational person’s morality is a reasoned response to the situation, as an autonomous and rational being. Thus, the moral education of the schools should aim at enabling the students to think and evaluate, rather than forcing them to follow certain external rules.
Objectivists believe that goodness of something comes from the intrinsic goodness of it. It is a conception held by the idealist thinkers. Subjectivists, on the other hand, believe that goodness/badness cannot be attributed to anything objectively. Rather, good or bad depends upon the experience of the individual. Subjectivists believe that each individual is capable of experiencing only the partial truth.
Morality: Form Vs Content
There exists a great confusion between the form and content of morality. At many times, we recognize the content but ignore the form. This dilemma also pertains to the considerations of the means and ends to an action.
Rationality is one of the most important forms of morality. Any action/belief cannot be judged on the scales of morality, if it is not based on reason. To other, the Intention is what matters. If the real intention of an act is good, then the act itself becomes good/moral.
Moral Education Vs. Moral Instruction
Moral education is not a matter of instruction. Morality, as noted earlier, is not objectively defined. Instead, moral education entails a process of development of the rational faculties of the individual, to enable him to be able to evaluate different things. Moral education needs to be distinguished from terms like- instruction, teaching, conditioning or indoctrination.
Development of knowledge and understanding is the central aspect of education process. It aims at refining the critical evaluative awareness. However, the correct utilization of that capability can be made only when one is free and autonomous. Only an enlightened and rational mind can be truly free.
It must also be remembered that education is a means to a certain end. Mere knowledge is of no use unless it is capable of guiding our actions and behaviour. As autonomous beings, we should be able to develop an emphathetic attitude towards others.
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