For the unacquainted, most of the so-called “elite schools” in Kolkata have a subject they fondly refer to as Moral Science. The ‘science’ of morals and values.
It is a compulsory subject. It is taught right from the day you get into school (although there is no obligation to do so on the school’s part, so far as the CISCE is concerned). You have to pass in it (you are supposedly held back from promotion to the next class on account of a failure in this subject).
Let me acquaint you with some insider information. Regardless of how ‘elite’ these schools are, and how fondly they advertise the teaching of value education in classes, you will struggle to get more than a handful of boys in every class, who actually want to study the subject.
Interesting, huh? Well, I don’t wish to go into that same old debate of morality, and ethics, and values…… In a sentence, my opinion is, they are important.
Quite obviously, the first salvo that you would (probably) then fire at me would be, why am I opposed to Value Education in schools in their present form, when I say that ethics and morality are important.
In case you haven’t realised it as yet, that’s precisely the point of penning (or rather, typing) down this blog.
1. The World is Not Sugar-Coated
The Condensed Idea: Even if he slaps you, don’t slap back (and also offer him the other face, as is often implied). Absolute rubbish.
This is what almost every “Moral Science book” that we have ‘studied’ from as early as Class 1 has advocated. I believe there is a fundamental problem with the very basic assumption that Moral Science books make, or at least appear to make.
Every author who writes a “Moral Science book” assumes that the world is sugar-coated.
Once again, this assumption is despicable. A professional philosopher is not required to tell you that the world is not sugar-coated.
Think of what would happen if some of us suddenly decided to follow this strange idea. We would find ourselves at the bottom of the world, being misused and manipulated by anyone and everyone who wants to.
It’s impractical. End of story.
2. Swayed by Idealism
It’s not that these authors live in a far-off world. They live in the same as ours. Then why is it that they are impractical?
I, due to lack of depth, my atheist principles, or probably some other reasons which I am unable to trace, fail to comprehend any cause for this except blatant idealism.
When I say idealism, I mean to say the representation of things in ideal or idealized form.
I happen to be acquainted with quite many people who exercise so much belief in idealism that they often fail to realize that they have sacrificed all contact with practical reality.
The author of certain, or most of the “Moral Science books” happen to fall in the same group (although I am not acquainted with any, I don’t wish to).
Being good is definitely appreciated. But it is only a fool who is to be so good so as to harm himself.
3. My Philosophy
You heard me so far, right? On why I despise the Moral Science books we’re taught in school. So, you may now naturally ask, what’s my take on this?
Well, my principles can be summarised using India’s Nuclear Policy. Before you run off (those who are scared of foreign policy), do hear me out.
India currently maintains a ‘no first-use’ policy. That allows the State to stockpile nuclear warheads. At the same time, the State promises in its foreign policy that it shall not use nuclear weapons unless any aggressor country uses it first. At the same time, if such an act compels the State to use nuclear weapons, their use shall be such that it shall inflict heavy damage on the aggressor.
India’s argument is that when some countries give up nuclear warheads (read as disarmament), and some States, at the same time, retain nuclear warheads; provides a license to the nuclear States to blackmail the non-Nuclear States (Russia invading Ukraine can be taken as a real-world example, and the fact that no European Nation, most of which are non-Nuclear, seriously wants to counter Russia, a nuclear State).
Replace India with me, nuclear warheads with the violation of moral principles. I will abide by ethics and moral principles, and I expect you to do the same. If you don’t, I shall get even.
When I lay down before you an amnesty, and guarantee you that I shall not get even, it gives you the potential for abuse.
Surely, that is undesirable.
This Policy ensures that no State shall dare to take the country for a ride. And it also ensures that I am not taken for a ride.
And I believe that this policy (and also India’s Nuclear Policy), is very practical. Unlike the idealists’ views of absolute moral principles and ethics, which they believe should be invariable.