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Author Topic: Revised Post: Personal Moral Code  (Read 597 times)

EclecticWheel

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Revised Post: Personal Moral Code
« on: April 11, 2019, 12:52:55 am »
I would like to revive a topic I started on our old forum somewhat re-framed in the hopes perhaps of getting a few more replies.

My personal approach to morality is self-centered in that I seek out what is beneficial to myself: love wisely, and do what thou wilt.  Join yourself to those things and persons that are beneficial for you, and it should be safe to do as you please.  I seek to act in my own self-interests, and that seems to take care of everything else.

For example when considering that I am a member of a cooperative and social species it wouldn't make sense to go around spending my time being a jerk to everyone.  It's not in my best interests.  Even if I could get away with it as a sensitive and empathetic person I enjoy being kind: it gives me a warm glow within.  That I enjoy this and that it benefits me is a good enough reason to generally practice kindness.

There might be people and causes for which I'd give my life which is not immediately self-benefiting, but in that case I would have to consider how much pain I'd live with if I didn't.  We all have to die some day, and sometimes it may be preferable to die than to go on living.  If it's a cause or person I really care about that I'm dying for I still have my interests in mind in some sense because I'm defending what I passionately care about and can't live with the alternative.

I may also choose to die of my own hand if I cannot bear living with an agonizing terminal physical illness and the end of life is fast approaching anyway: it is more desired in this case to avoid pain rather than living a few more months of no quality.  Even in these hypothetical situations the desires of the self and what is preferable to it given the alternatives are still key.  Is life under any and all circumstances really beneficial?  Not in my book.

I don't know if this moral code would work out for others the same way as it does for me, but then again I'm not concerned with establishing a universal code of morals since I am highly skeptical that there are moral facts.

Morals are based on values that are a given and that I doubt are amenable to rational justification, and even if we assumed that valuing well being was objectively prescriptive and could agree on the precise definition of well being we would still have to ask whose well being matters the most when there are conflicts: that of the individual? of a group? which species?

How would objective morals take into account the behavior of other species?  Has a shark done something morally wrong when it consumes a human being?  It may have been good for the shark to do so, though not the human person.

It may be that different moral codes or emphases work out better for different individuals.  I grew up in an abusive household in which I was subdued and not allowed to speak up for myself without harsh consequences.  Standing up for myself even in recent years has caused a chain reaction of pure hysteria in my family whereas it doesn't cause that kind of reaction when other members do the same.  Emphasizing self-benefit as the primary factor in my morality has been healing for me.

But let's take a hypothetical person as another example.  That hypothetical person openly boasts about manipulating other people for short term gain.  Let's say that (s)he actually tells me that (s)he is actively and intentionally manipulative.

(S)he is very focused upon hir self to the point that (s)he can't accept even constructive criticism.  (S)he has often been abusive to others and has shown a lack of empathy to the people you would think (s)he would care the most for.  And (s)he is very self preoccupied with little or no ability to take on the perspective of other people.

That particular person may very much benefit from a moral emphasis on other people.  It's not that the benefits to that person's self wouldn't apply here.  It would probably be in hir long term interests to be more concerned with the important people in hir life and family.  But playing up the emphasis on the self may not be healthy for hir given hir self-preoccupation.

For someone like me who finds great benefit in being kind to others but who has also been walked all over in the past it may be more healthy to focus on self-benefit in regard to morality so that while I am a forgiving person I'll remember to think of my self-benefit before I decide to forgive and accept an abuser back into my life with open arms, and that's something I had to learn the hard way.

My personal spirituality is self-centered as well.  The seasons and holy days revolve around personal associations and personal life history.  My spirituality informs my moral code, and my moral code informs my spirituality.  Though I did not directly expound on it in this post I do have a conceptualization of the Self with a capital S in which there is very much a blurred edge between self and other.

My questions for others are:

What is the emphasis in your own moral code?  Self?  Others?  Both-and? some other emphasis?

Does your spirituality inform your moral code?

How does your moral code influence your spirituality?

And whatever aspects of your personal morality or morality in general that you would like to share are fine by me for this topic.
My personal moral code:

Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

PerditaPickle

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Re: Revised Post: Personal Moral Code
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2019, 07:10:32 am »
I would like to revive a topic

Glad you revived it, but I'll have to return when I've a bit more time to post my thoughts.
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Donal2018

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Re: Revised Post: Personal Moral Code
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2019, 07:42:14 pm »
I would like to revive a topic I started on our old forum somewhat re-framed in the hopes perhaps of getting a few more replies.

My personal approach to morality is self-centered in that I seek out what is beneficial to myself: love wisely, and do what thou wilt.  Join yourself to those things and persons that are beneficial for you, and it should be safe to do as you please.  I seek to act in my own self-interests, and that seems to take care of everything else...

My questions for others are:

What is the emphasis in your own moral code?  Self?  Others?  Both-and? some other emphasis?

Does your spirituality inform your moral code?

How does your moral code influence your spirituality?

And whatever aspects of your personal morality or morality in general that you would like to share are fine by me for this topic.

I try not to presume to project my own ideas onto others, so any moral code that I have starts with me. I am open to discussing with others how I think others should act, but I am opposed to authoritarian moralities that get imposed on people.

I do try to keep things simple in this regard. I think sometimes some folks get overcomplicated. Just my two cents. For me, compassion for self and others is at the core of any morality for me. I believe in the Golden Rule.

I am also big on Enlightenment philosophy and on the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. I strongly assert that I believe that Democracy is the only legitimate form of Government. Sovereignty springs from the People, and Individual Freedom is paramount and a necessary bulwark against Authoritarianism and Tyranny. Everyone is equal under the law, despite how different people must be in  other ways. Some mistake equality under the law to mean that everyone is equal in character and ability, which is not true. What is true is that everyone has the same Rights, whether a pauper or a king.

So, I guess that Democracy and Constitutionalism is my own choice for social and political reality, whereas my own personal morality is about compassion and the Golden Rule. Treat others how you would be treated, etc. Also, I learned from a Buddhist friend that you must first care for yourself and love yourself before you can move out into the world and care for others.

As far as a connection of my moral codes to spirituality: I was raised Catholic and educated primarily by Vatican 2 influenced Nuns and Lay Teachers. They emphasized compassion as a core value, and it stuck with me. I also learned a lot of negative stuff outside of class in the schoolyard, but that is perhaps another topic.

My focus on Democracy and Constitutionalism comes from a secular time in my life. I studied Political Science at the University Level (in addition to Biology, Chemistry, Business, History, Philosophy, and Sociology). I was a Professional Student for a long time, and studied a bit of everything. So, I have a strong secular streak because of this.

I think this helped lead me to Unitarian Universalism. The idea of political equality naturally led me to Universalism and the idea of spiritual equality. My Universalism does not deny that people who have done wrong need to be punished and corrected, I just do not believe that there is a need for eternal punishment (a remnant idea from my Catholic days).

My feeling is that God can even heal a murder. If a murder victim can be resurrected or restored to their family, than even a murder can be healed. If a sin like murder can be healed, it opens the door to the repentance of the sinner/murderer. Once a crime is healed, then the criminal has the opportunity to earn forgiveness. So, Universal salvation is possible, I think.

So, yes, there is judgement and punishment, but no, it does not need to be eternal. I realize that these are very Christian ideas, but as I say, I am still processing my Catholic upbringing and associated ideas.

There is more that I could say on these topics but I will leave off here to not get too complicated.

[edits for spelling and readability]
« Last Edit: April 14, 2019, 07:45:51 pm by Donal2018 »

PerditaPickle

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Re: Revised Post: Personal Moral Code
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2019, 04:27:04 pm »
What is the emphasis in your own moral code?  Self?  Others?  Both-and? some other emphasis?

Does your spirituality inform your moral code?

How does your moral code influence your spirituality?

It's a bit of a chicken and egg question for me.

My current spirituality (which I'd describe as a seeker, but with a significant interest in Druidry) does advocate giving back to the community and helping others (especially, I believe, those who are vulnerable or in some way less able to help themselves).  This is something I've always had an interest in; my Druidry-leanings spur me on even more to do these things.

My moral code has a bit of backstory to it.  My family raised my brother and I to live by the following:  "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  However, I was well into my mid-late teens before I learned that this was actually a Christian teaching!  (We weren't a very religious family - looking back, the archaic phrasing should probably have given me a clue, but there ya go.)  Christianity was my birth religion, but I never really resonated with it.  But I do strongly believe in treating others as one would wish to be treated, it just simply makes sense (at least it would if embraced by all).

I don't imagine I'm being terribly articulate about this, but I feel like my bottom line is that both the things influence and/or inform the other.  Hence my chicken and egg comment...

Hope that makes some sort of sense...  I'm open to questions, if not!
"If I get on, Susan thought, it'll all start again.  I'll be out of the light and into the world beyond this one.  I'll fall off the tightrope.
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Sefiru

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Re: Revised Post: Personal Moral Code
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2019, 07:03:02 pm »
What is the emphasis in your own moral code?  Self?  Others?  Both-and? some other emphasis?

Does your spirituality inform your moral code?

How does your moral code influence your spirituality?

And whatever aspects of your personal morality or morality in general that you would like to share are fine by me for this topic.

I'd say my moral code is focused pretty closely on the self and immediate personal relationships, not so much on larger society. It's also based on virtues, rather than rules or results. (Ie, in different circumstances, the same action may or may not be virtuous.)

My moral code has less to do with my spirituality and more about the culture I was raised in -- my parents are both immigrants, and while they say they raised me as entirely Canadian ... yeah, not *quite* true. It only really crystalised for me when I saw a movie produced by and about that culture, and for the first time I really *got* what the characters' motivations were.

The four primary virtues in my system are solidarity, integrity, productivity, and respectability. All of them are equal in importance and have to be balanced against each other.

Zlote Jablko

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Re: Revised Post: Personal Moral Code
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2019, 10:04:52 pm »
It's a bit of a chicken and egg question for me.

Yeah, ditto. It kind of goes back to Euthyphro’s dilemma from the dialogues of Socrates. Is something pious because it is loved by Gods, or is it loved by Gods because it is pious?

Speaking for myself, I tend to skew towards utilitarianism, and tend to view divine morality along the same lines. One of my main issues with Christianity is not so much the judgment and inner struggle- that I get. But a lot of the morality doesn’t really seem very outcome based. A lot of other eschatologies have judgment, but it’s less based on following a particular orthodoxy with a very specific rule book. A lot of eschatologies just say bad people will be punished, but they leave it vague so that *you* have to figure out what that means. I like that.

EclecticWheel

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Re: Revised Post: Personal Moral Code
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2019, 02:07:18 am »
Yeah, ditto. It kind of goes back to Euthyphro’s dilemma from the dialogues of Socrates. Is something pious because it is loved by Gods, or is it loved by Gods because it is pious?

Speaking for myself, I tend to skew towards utilitarianism, and tend to view divine morality along the same lines. One of my main issues with Christianity is not so much the judgment and inner struggle- that I get. But a lot of the morality doesn’t really seem very outcome based. A lot of other eschatologies have judgment, but it’s less based on following a particular orthodoxy with a very specific rule book. A lot of eschatologies just say bad people will be punished, but they leave it vague so that *you* have to figure out what that means. I like that.

Much of the morality I've been taught and studied in Christianity is outcome based, and some individuals emphasize it more than others, but if you're talking about the idea that the unorthodox will be condemned I agree that some forms of Christianity do have that problem.

Usually though there is an escape hatch.  From Catholicism one that comes to mind is invincible ignorance -- not a flattering turn of phrase, but still a get out of hell card.

Or the idea that some are invisibly joined to the Church.  For my own purposes I prefer forms of Christianity that are very lax in regard to orthodoxy and interpretation because while I have a foot in Christianity I find strict orthodoxies too rigid and repressive.
My personal moral code:

Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

EclecticWheel

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Re: Revised Post: Personal Moral Code
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2019, 02:13:59 am »
Much of the morality I've been taught and studied in Christianity is outcome based, and some individuals emphasize it more than others, but if you're talking about the idea that the unorthodox will be condemned I agree that some forms of Christianity do have that problem.

Usually though there is an escape hatch.  From Catholicism one that comes to mind is invincible ignorance -- not a flattering turn of phrase, but still a get out of hell card.

Or the idea that some are invisibly joined to the Church.  For my own purposes I prefer forms of Christianity that are very lax in regard to orthodoxy and interpretation because while I have a foot in Christianity I find strict orthodoxies too rigid and repressive.

A clarification on my morality: it was implied but not explicitly stated that the primary benefit of kindness in my moral approach is that among my social circle this creates beneficial connections for when I need them.

The warm pleasant feelings are secondary but not at all insignificant.  Like I said even if I could get away with nastiness I wouldn't enjoy it.  That's not who I am, and I strive to express my individuality spiritually and in every day life.
My personal moral code:

Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

Zlote Jablko

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Re: Revised Post: Personal Moral Code
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2019, 03:53:46 am »
Much of the morality I've been taught and studied in Christianity is outcome based, and some individuals emphasize it more than others, but if you're talking about the idea that the unorthodox will be condemned I agree that some forms of Christianity do have that problem.

Usually though there is an escape hatch.  From Catholicism one that comes to mind is invincible ignorance -- not a flattering turn of phrase, but still a get out of hell card.

Or the idea that some are invisibly joined to the Church.  For my own purposes I prefer forms of Christianity that are very lax in regard to orthodoxy and interpretation because while I have a foot in Christianity I find strict orthodoxies too rigid and repressive.

I suppose it depends on how loosely you want to interpret Christian doctrine and Abrahamic religion. It’s amazing how nebulous the term “Christianity” becomes when individuals with their own preferences come into play.

I actually like the folk-Christianity or dual-faith of Eastern Europe. The church had complex doctrine, but for the average person it was a simple matter to “sanctify” the thunderer Perun by making him Thundering Elijah, or his sister Marena by turning her into “Fiery Mary.” They already had their evil or unclean force in the form of Chernobog, so he became indistinguishable from the devil in folklore.

It raises the question, whose Christianity is “real” the priest’s or the peasant’s? Both are based on a complex and old tradition in their own way. So I get what you’re saying. But for historical reasons, it’s pretty hard to entirely separate Abrahamic faiths from orthodoxy.

EclecticWheel

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Re: Revised Post: Personal Moral Code
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2019, 07:59:07 am »
It raises the question, whose Christianity is “real” the priest’s or the peasant’s? Both are based on a complex and old tradition in their own way. So I get what you’re saying. But for historical reasons, it’s pretty hard to entirely separate Abrahamic faiths from orthodoxy.

Modern day mainline Protestantism including the Episcopal Church is very nebulous indeed.  But I don't think there is necessarily an answer to whose Christianity is "real."  There are Christianities not Christianity in my view, and all kinds of modern and alternative theologies are floating around these days.  Process theology for example is quite different from traditional orthodoxy as is much of liberal theology being embraced by a number of bishops, clergy, and laity of the Episcopal Church including the former presiding bishop Schori.

Maybe for the purposes of clarity it is better to say that these churches are headed in a post-Christian direction if they're not there already due to the wide range of beliefs and interpretations they embrace.  They include orthodox Christians, but in practice they're including lots of other people too, and not just laity but bishops -- official teachers of the faith.  Large sections of Christianity are evolving into something new.  Nevertheless they still identify as Christian.  If Christianity can evolve perhaps the definition of the term can evolve too.  I don't know for sure how to define the term.  These are just some thoughts I've had.

I consider myself Christian in one sense and not in another.  On the one hand I am too far "out there" to be a Christian theologically.  On the other hand I was baptized Episcopalian, so I am considered a part of the community and the covenant.  I could dissociate myself from it or even be excommunicated, but from a sacramental perspective I will always be tied to the covenant and community in some way.

It is unlikely in the extreme that I would ever be denied the sacraments no matter what my beliefs.  This has never happened to anyone even in my conservative parish -- not even those who openly espouse non-literal interpretations of such doctrines as the resurrection and virgin birth, and there are some.  Nor am I the only person syncretic with the neo-pagan movement that is a part of my parish.  And besides liberal bishops I've referred to in passing the (former?) dean of the Washington National Cathedral, the Reverend Gary Hall, identifies as a non-theist from reports I've read.

It wouldn't be the first time in history that "unorthodox" beliefs have played a significant role even among the bishops and clergy.  Arianism was at one time a prominent belief in the church.  The trinitarians won the day and defined orthodoxy according to their own standards, but how can we ever measure who was "right" in these instances?  If humanity is around in a thousand years who knows what the Christians then will think of Christian theology as it stands today?

Not that these matters haven't led to schisms and division within the Episcopal Church and other denominations.  They certainly have.  But that only leads to further evolution in the denomination as the conservatives go on to form their own more "pure" churches such as the Continuing Anglicans who officially believe the Episcopal Church departed from the catholic faith.  And I suppose it did based on yesterday's orthodoxy.

Though I continue to ponder these issues I don't let them bother me too much anymore in terms of my own self-identity.  The whole topic is convoluted and nebulous as you say.
My personal moral code:

Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

EclecticWheel

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Re: Revised Post: Personal Moral Code
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2019, 08:11:40 am »
Yeah, ditto. It kind of goes back to Euthyphro’s dilemma from the dialogues of Socrates. Is something pious because it is loved by Gods, or is it loved by Gods because it is pious?

Speaking for myself, I tend to skew towards utilitarianism, and tend to view divine morality along the same lines. One of my main issues with Christianity is not so much the judgment and inner struggle- that I get. But a lot of the morality doesn’t really seem very outcome based.

I don't like the idea that something is only pious because the gods love it, especially since in a polytheistic viewpoint different gods may love different things anyway, and some of them might even love things that are abhorrent to me.  And why would something be pious because the gods love it anyway?  Although they may be more powerful and mysterious why would their opinions on what is good outweigh what the bulk of humanity thinks should there be a conflict?

I'm also curious though I don't entirely dispute it what morals you found in Christianity that don't seem outcome based and what forms of Christianity those morals come from.
My personal moral code:

Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

Zlote Jablko

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Re: Revised Post: Personal Moral Code
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2019, 10:58:31 pm »
I don't like the idea that something is only pious because the gods love it, especially since in a polytheistic viewpoint different gods may love different things anyway, and some of them might even love things that are abhorrent to me.  And why would something be pious because the gods love it anyway?  Although they may be more powerful and mysterious why would their opinions on what is good outweigh what the bulk of humanity thinks should there be a conflict?

I'm also curious though I don't entirely dispute it what morals you found in Christianity that don't seem outcome based and what forms of Christianity those morals come from.

I agree, I think it’s normal to want a morality beyond the whims of a deity.

The whole concept of salvation in orthodox Christianity seems very belief based rather than outcome based. As for the Old Testament, that hammers home monotheism and ritual purity as often as ethics, if not more so. Of course there is the “by their fruits you shall know them approach” but even the drive for good works often seems intermingled with the desire to acquire souls.


EclecticWheel

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Re: Revised Post: Personal Moral Code
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2019, 03:52:25 am »
I agree, I think it’s normal to want a morality beyond the whims of a deity.

The whole concept of salvation in orthodox Christianity seems very belief based rather than outcome based. As for the Old Testament, that hammers home monotheism and ritual purity as often as ethics, if not more so. Of course there is the “by their fruits you shall know them approach” but even the drive for good works often seems intermingled with the desire to acquire souls.

I generally agree with the distinction being made that monotheism is a belief and ritual purity is not the same thing as morals or ethics, although Yahweh seems in the Hebrew Bible to be really concerned about these matters.

I do think our beliefs matter insofar as holding some beliefs may lead to harmful outcomes.  For example the belief that people of a different culture or skin color are inferior has led to lots of toxic behavior.  In religious matters that are often mysterious some beliefs may be better than others in terms of outcome, but I think this largely depends on the individual and what that individual needs from their religion(s).

Some people may really benefit from a more rigid approach and demanding god whereas others have a temperament requiring more freedom.  That's just one example that comes to mind.  I am sure there are better ones.

Thus I affirm a healthy religious pluralism especially since questions about the nature and number of the gods for example along with various other matters are not really knowable truths.
My personal moral code:

Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

arete

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Re: Revised Post: Personal Moral Code
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2019, 09:09:58 am »
I would like to revive a topic I started on our old forum somewhat re-framed in the hopes perhaps of getting a few more replies.

My personal approach to morality is self-centered in that I seek out what is beneficial to myself: love wisely, and do what thou wilt.  Join yourself to those things and persons that are beneficial for you, and it should be safe to do as you please.  I seek to act in my own self-interests, and that seems to take care of everything else.

For example when considering that I am a member of a cooperative and social species it wouldn't make sense to go around spending my time being a jerk to everyone.  It's not in my best interests.  Even if I could get away with it as a sensitive and empathetic person I enjoy being kind: it gives me a warm glow within.  That I enjoy this and that it benefits me is a good enough reason to generally practice kindness.

There might be people and causes for which I'd give my life which is not immediately self-benefiting, but in that case I would have to consider how much pain I'd live with if I didn't.  We all have to die some day, and sometimes it may be preferable to die than to go on living.  If it's a cause or person I really care about that I'm dying for I still have my interests in mind in some sense because I'm defending what I passionately care about and can't live with the alternative.

I may also choose to die of my own hand if I cannot bear living with an agonizing terminal physical illness and the end of life is fast approaching anyway: it is more desired in this case to avoid pain rather than living a few more months of no quality.  Even in these hypothetical situations the desires of the self and what is preferable to it given the alternatives are still key.  Is life under any and all circumstances really beneficial?  Not in my book.

I don't know if this moral code would work out for others the same way as it does for me, but then again I'm not concerned with establishing a universal code of morals since I am highly skeptical that there are moral facts.

Morals are based on values that are a given and that I doubt are amenable to rational justification, and even if we assumed that valuing well being was objectively prescriptive and could agree on the precise definition of well being we would still have to ask whose well being matters the most when there are conflicts: that of the individual? of a group? which species?

How would objective morals take into account the behavior of other species?  Has a shark done something morally wrong when it consumes a human being?  It may have been good for the shark to do so, though not the human person.

It may be that different moral codes or emphases work out better for different individuals.  I grew up in an abusive household in which I was subdued and not allowed to speak up for myself without harsh consequences.  Standing up for myself even in recent years has caused a chain reaction of pure hysteria in my family whereas it doesn't cause that kind of reaction when other members do the same.  Emphasizing self-benefit as the primary factor in my morality has been healing for me.

But let's take a hypothetical person as another example.  That hypothetical person openly boasts about manipulating other people for short term gain.  Let's say that (s)he actually tells me that (s)he is actively and intentionally manipulative.

(S)he is very focused upon hir self to the point that (s)he can't accept even constructive criticism.  (S)he has often been abusive to others and has shown a lack of empathy to the people you would think (s)he would care the most for.  And (s)he is very self preoccupied with little or no ability to take on the perspective of other people.

That particular person may very much benefit from a moral emphasis on other people.  It's not that the benefits to that person's self wouldn't apply here.  It would probably be in hir long term interests to be more concerned with the important people in hir life and family.  But playing up the emphasis on the self may not be healthy for hir given hir self-preoccupation.

For someone like me who finds great benefit in being kind to others but who has also been walked all over in the past it may be more healthy to focus on self-benefit in regard to morality so that while I am a forgiving person I'll remember to think of my self-benefit before I decide to forgive and accept an abuser back into my life with open arms, and that's something I had to learn the hard way.

My personal spirituality is self-centered as well.  The seasons and holy days revolve around personal associations and personal life history.  My spirituality informs my moral code, and my moral code informs my spirituality.  Though I did not directly expound on it in this post I do have a conceptualization of the Self with a capital S in which there is very much a blurred edge between self and other.

My questions for others are:

What is the emphasis in your own moral code?  Self?  Others?  Both-and? some other emphasis?

Does your spirituality inform your moral code?

How does your moral code influence your spirituality?

And whatever aspects of your personal morality or morality in general that you would like to share are fine by me for this topic.
my moral code is following the path of arete.  :) arete is dharma and karma.

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