Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by alexb123, Jun 16, 2011.
You hear a lot about the 'moral compass' however, where did this term come from?
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Thread moved to linguistics.
I don't know , but I hope it is pointing North . Your Polaris Star . Yeah I was born under the Polaris star. It is my personal Jesus star . Jesus had the star of Bethlehem and I got the Polaris star. Get it " Moral Compass pointing to the north . Oh I am to funny for words . Any Kurds out there on this Forum . Why is depictions of Melek Taus sitting on the north pole?
O.K. I wonder if moral compass is related to the statement " Find your Polaris star. It seem similar in nature . Maybe from the same era in time
A compass is a tool for finding direction and I would suggest that perhaps the term 'moral compass' is a descriptor for the direction which one which one seeks in defining their own personal morals and ethics.
What also would be the strength of the magnet in your moral compass?
Are you easily 'pulled off course' by the 'attractions' and distractions that abound, or the actions and inaction of others?
Just some thoughts that come to mind.....
Were is that lazy butt Fraggle when you need him ? I know he is off given his expert opinions on other threads . Fraggle we need you !! get over here buddy and clear up some of the mystery
Something most people have within them to help them decide what they should do in situations that they find themselves involved with during their lifetimes. An example would be if they were involved in a situation where they had to make a decision of what they should do if they found a bag of money on the ground one day while walking along. Would they keep it or turn it in to the police?
A moral compass is an unconscious subroutine, which through years of training and experience, develops the ability to almost instinctively react to moral situations.
A parallel situation is found within sports. Someone who trains for a particular sport, doing all the drills and having practice games, eventually develops a knack, for instinctively making the right play, at the right time. One reaches a point where you don't have to think everything through, by the book, like in practice, but rather the unconscious subroutine uses the practice and experience to make speedy, almost instinctive decision, which the ego or conscious mind will trust.
In the case of the moral compass, the training and practice is geared toward moral judgments instead of a sport It too is by the book, practice with hypothetical situations and experience. Eventually a subroutine is programmed, with one learning to trust their gut feeling.
Someone without consciousness of morality my not train the moral compass. They may be more like the weekend warrior who will still needs to consult the book of rules or may need to consult others. That can also work, but the difference is like the difference between the carpenter and his apprentice. The apprentice might use the level but the carpenter might use his eyeball and instinct.
Thank you all.
Does anyone know who originally coined the phrase?
It was some government that was making laws for its people and within those laws were included "moral laws" . Things like adultry were part of the man made laws which were giving a "moral" way to deal with marriages that were not being adhered to.
Like a compass, the needle of the moral compass aligns with magnetic north. Like the earth, if the direction of magnetic north fluctuates, or even reverses polarity, the compass needle will change direction with the new field direction. The moral compass has to do with conditioning the subroutine, which is being aligned with a defined north, based on what culture defines as north. Culture provides a scaffolding for north until the subrountine is programmed.
Although morality is often defined as relative, and is historically subject to flux and polarity reversal, there is a simple criteria for comparing relative morality in an objective way. The best objective morality will always have the lowest social cost. This points due north.
For example, although committing adultery can be fun for some people, and can part of some relative morality north pole, there is a social cost to this, that can exceed the value of the fun. It can lead to divorce, violence and rage, it needs to pay lawyers, it can double the living requirements and logisitics if there is separation. It can impact children, who now need the added cost of therapy and more parental time to heal. The children may even get into expensive regressive behavior, which can add other social costs. As such, adultery, although moral in the relative sense, is not socially efficiency in terms of hard cost. It deviates from due north.
Stealing might be defined with relative morality arguments, based on unique circustances, such as Robin Hood. But if objective morality was important, we would need to do a cost analysis to get past the theatre.
In modern times, even taxing is considered stealing, based on objective morality, since it is not charity or given based on choice. The inefficiency of government, with this stolen money, make this immoral based on the objective scale; inefficiency has a cost. But in terms of relative morality, it may appear warm and fuzzy and be called a moral relative. Regardless, once the north pole is shifted with relative inefficiency, that becomes the new north pole which scaffolds the young moral compass, until the subroutine is programmed.
Ethics is a little different than objective morality. Ethics often has a connection to relative morality. A prosperous culture will often have money to spare. The added social costs of relative morality can be supported, to some extend, with its excess resources, with a richer culture able to support more relative morality inefficiency.
Ethics can depart from morality, but as long as the sum of ethics does not to exceed the money surplus, it is ethical. Ethics allows individuals within culture, more freedom for personal choice, apart from the purely objective needs of cultural efficiency. It may be ethical for a lawyer to work hard to get a criminal back on the streets. But there is a social cost to this making it depart from objective morality. But if culture has the extra cash to spare, this becomes part of the ethics for culture. If we only wanted to maximize efficiency, this ethical dilemma would not be allowed at all.
There is an objective moral north pole based on social cost and efficiency. This would be a good excercise where we compare relative moralities to see which is most objective. We also have a circle of ethical inefficiency, like the arctic circle, that is based on the amount cuture has to spend for individual ethics via relative morality. At this time in hisotry, the cost is too high so cultures needs to skinny back toward objective morality until we build another surplus. Then we that can pay for relative moral inefficiencies and social ethics.
For example, open sexuality leads to STD's. There is a social cost based on the health related costs. I suppose we can pay for this through the ethical surplus needed for relative morality. But there are many such relative morality special interests, which when added together, have gotten too expensive (beyond the artic circle).
Oddly enough, I have not been able to find the origin of this metaphor--generalizing the word "compass," a tool for orienting onself in physical space, to mean an intellectual framework for getting one's bearings in abstract space.
Neither dictionary.com nor Wikipedia has an entry for it.
I've looked through a few quotation sites and all of the "famous" quotes containing the combination "moral compass" are rather recent, generally accusing certain political leaders of not having one. This supports my feeling that I never heard the term as a child, which would put its origin no earlier than the 1960s. It does certainly sound like the kind of phrase that would have been coined in that era.
But this is speculation, not scholarship.
Frag I couldn't find any author to this either, thank so much for looking.
Wellwisher, are you a philosopher? Thats a very detailed and complex interpretation of the question.
it comes from the beginning Fraggle . Or from when the Polaris star became dominate in sailing culture. I would not be surprised if you found remnants in sailor folk lore of Irish Peoples and other Mariner cultures . The Sea Poeples are real people too. Anyway it is a reference to Melek Taus . Who I believe was the guy that started the age of Agriculture by taking credit or implementing plow technology . I think that is why the legends run so deep in just about all cultures . Maybe when the last bottle neck occurred the legends started . I don't know , but it sure looks like to Me there is a unifying concept in the cultures of the world
my new coined phrase " Peripheral dominate white noise influence on majorities
That is so freaky . Is it Me ? Am I the only one ? Can you see it? Like a may pole if you ask Me . The Poles
Agriculture, the twin technologies of farming and animal husbandry, was developed independently in several different places. It happened first in Egypt, Mesopotamia and India, and later in two different regions of China, sub-Saharan Africa, New Guinea, Peru, Mexico, the eastern part of what is now the USA, and perhaps elsewhere.
Farming was first invented in the 10th millennium BCE; the first cultivated crop was figs. Animal husbandry was invented at approximately the same time; the first domesticated animal was the sheep (for meat and milk; dogs may have come to live with us a bit earlier).
The plow (or "plough" in British spelling) was not invented until oxen (cattle) were domesticated: the first animal large enough to pull it. This happened no earlier than the 6th millennium BCE. The cultivation of crops was done with much more primitive and less productive hand tools for about four thousand years.
I heard on the discovery channel that onions were the first crop . Yeah I was paying attention as it was just a blip in the documentary. My father is always going on about how onions are not meant for human consumption and are the root of head aches for most humans . So it was fodder for my argument against his hypothesis. So my contention was if humans bin eating onions from the beginning of cultivation don't you think by now someone would have figured out onions are not fit for human consumption . Sounds more like a personal allergy to me. One I don't have , pass the onion please .
I would think the plough would have created an explosion in agriculture unprecedented in anytime in history . Fill the warehouses more than had ever been there by feeding the populace in a new profound way. Creating a new level of expansionism of humans . Staving off death of common folk like never before . Hence the legends of Micheal the Arch Angel beating the devil or casting the devil out of heaven mythology. Cheating death ideologies . I think there was a real guy fraggle and legends come from this one guy. I am sure there was flood events world wide some 12,000 years ago and maybe a bottle neck occurred at that time . I think the flodd events went on for quite a while and maybe started before that time span . When was the start of the last ice age ? The end was about 12,000 years ago ? Maybe 10,000 ? Was there a warm period between Ice ages . I think I will google that and see if there is any data that looks reliable
If I was to guess an origin for the term "moral compass, logically, it had to come after the invention of the compass. A compass always points in the same direction (north), therefore it would refer to consistent morality that does not change. It would have little to do with relative morality, which is always changing. If relative morality had been the basis for a coined moral term, that terms would be something like the moral shoe store. Shoes are the interface between the person and earth (instinct), but are always changing, based on the latest styles. The moral shoe store would be as much about show as go. The moral compass is more about go.
The compass was very important for navigation, especially over the open seas where there are no land marks to gauge position. Relative to morality, this sailor would be analogous to life, where there may not always a moral land mark one can use for a reference point; unique circumstance. Rather like the sailor, one has to depend on the magnetic north which stays the same.
In the height of the storm, when the rain is too thick to see even the known social landmarks (ethics and relative morality), the moral compass continues to function. The moral compass would be more important for those who are not afraid to sail away from the security of land, where they can continue to see the social landmarks. If one was a pioneer or a stranger in a strange land, the moral compass allows them a consistent way to navigate life.
We're getting way off topic here. Better to start this discussion on the History or Biology subforum where more people with knowledge can log in. I'm not a professional biologist so my expertise shouldn't be taken as definitive on questions like this.
We know when the plow was invented, and there are lots of good estimates of the earth's population going all the way back to the Paleolithic Era. You can look this up and find out if there was a population explosion that could be at least partially attributed to the invention of the plow. You don't need to speculate.
Once again, you're not doing some very easy research. Wikipedia has a very good article on sea level and it tells you how high the oceans will be when all the icecaps and glaciers have melted. Why don't you look it up? You'll find that there is simply not enough water on this entire planet to cause a "world-wide flood."
Once again, you can use the historical population figures to decide for yourself. You keep speculating about things for which there are actual answers. Why???
Why do you have to speculate??? Are you too lazy to look this stuff up? The Wikipedia article has a very nice graph showing what sea level was at (IIRC) 500-year intervals going back before our species existed. Why don't you just look it up and answer your own questions???
I won't complain about this question since I can answer it from a linguistic standpoint. An "ice age" is defined as a time when there are major deposits of ice on the planet that do not melt in summertime. I.e., the polar icecaps, and the glaciers on top of the Himalayas, Alps, Rockies, Andes, and other mountain ranges. In other words, we are still living in an ice age. It hasn't ended yet.
...and you get at an idea of how long the phrase "moral compass" has been used in print. 'Print' in the sense of a book that Google has scanned.
At least as early as 1822:
I would post the link, but apparently I'm a complete noob and do not have such privileges. But if you got "Roche-blanche: or, The hunters of the Pyrenees. A romance, Volume 1" By Anna Maria Porter, 1822, as your answer, then you and I both are not complete noobs and can use books.google.com effectively.
Here's the quote, and after reading it I get the sense that it doesn't have quite the connotation that people have been discussing here and that I'm actually familiar with:
"To such remonstrances, La Marot gave smiling attention while they lasted, answered with seeming candour, launching at once into such an ocean of talk, that Mr. Willoughby drew back in affright; while blowing opposite arguments from every point of the moral compass, the adventurous Baron quietly saw himself left to navigate his own vessel his own way, through this storm of his own raising."
Ah, nautical imagery. I can't wait 'til the Baron relieves his seamen through the scuttle. Ahem, anyone?
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