339. Morality Through History: Tracing the Evolution of Universalism
Based on the ideas from William Search's books “Why” and “Conversations with chatGPT: Exploring the Theory of Morality and Existence.”
The Twentieth Century: A Moral Conundrum
In the 20th century, the world experienced unprecedented levels of devastation and suffering, challenging the long-held belief in the moral progress of humanity. This era, marked by global conflicts, genocides, and environmental degradation, forced us to question whether material progress truly equates to moral progress. As Michael Ignatieff insightfully noted, "We eat well, drink well, live well, but we do not have good dreams."
Europe: The Paradox of Enlightenment and Moral Universalism
Europe, the birthplace of the Enlightenment, was simultaneously the cradle of racism, imperialism, and slavery. While the Enlightenment's core values embraced moral universalism, Europe's actions throughout history contradicted this ideal. Consequently, opposition to European rule became the driving force behind the expansion and development of moral universalism.
The Haitian Revolution: The Forgotten Champion of Moral Universalism
The Haitian Revolution, often overshadowed by the American and French Revolutions, played a crucial role in shaping history. As the only successful slave revolt in history, it established Haiti's independence and demonstrated the practical application of the Rights of Man to all people. The Haitian Revolution gave voice to the moral ideal that would later become the foundation of moral universalism.
Revolutionary Movements and the Struggle for Universalism
Throughout the 20th century, the progressive impulse of moral universalism was primarily carried by revolutionary, anti-colonial, and anti-imperialist movements. Figures like Frantz Fanon believed that Europe had failed to carry out its intellectual mission in practice, and thus it was up to the non-European world to start a new history of humanity.
Questioning European Ideas in the Face of Imperialism
The close association between European ideas and the enslavement of much of the world led some, like Fanon, to question the value of these ideas. Critics argued that the Enlightenment ideals, though seemingly progressive, could not be wielded by those challenging European rule. These ideals were born from a specific cultural and historical context and could not be universally applied.
The Rise of Separatist Movements and Cultural Distinctiveness
This skepticism towards European ideas fueled the growth of separatist movements, which aimed to create political, cultural, and moral traditions distinct from those of Europeans. From Garveyism and Negritude to Black Power and Islamism, these movements sought to develop ideologies rooted in their own unique histories, traditions, and needs.
The Moral Compass Theory: A Potential Path Forward
Amidst these complex historical and philosophical debates, the Moral Compass Theory, as explored in William Search's books "Why" and “Conversations with ChatGPT: Exploring the Theory of Morality and Existence,” offers a possible answer to humanity's existential questions. The theory posits that our purpose in life is to continually strive to become better, more virtuous individuals, and to contribute to the greater good of humanity and the world around us. As we grapple with the moral complexities of our past and present, the Moral Compass Theory may help guide us towards a more just and compassionate future.