Society, Morals and Ideals
We are not alone in the world; that is the rub for the egoist; that is the comfort and solace to the collectivist; that is the problem for the moralist; and that is the enigma that inspires the idealist; Human nature is complex and it is at once egoistic, collectivistic, moralistic and idealistic. It is easy to dwell upon one of the elements of this complexity, and emphasise it against the others; but the emphasis on one or the other does not abolish the complexity and unless we find a true equation and reconciliation of the elements of the complexity, we cannot realise any true harmony and peace. And in the meantime, we shall have enough room for debate in favour of one or the other, which will be found to have some kind of inconclusiveness.
At lower levels of existence, Nature has provided some kind of disorderly order, and instincts of self-preservation, on the one hand, and herd-instinct, on the other, are found to be so balanced that the individual and the collectivity sub-serve each other, — not irreductibly and ideally, — but in some rough measure for the immediate purposes. As one begins to ascend higher and higher, the demands of self-assertion begin to collide with the demands of the collectivity, and in human life, this collision is sought to be resolved by erecting moral values and ideals, and even then resolutions are found to be superficial or temporary, giving rise to major maladjustments and maladies of oppression and injustice. It is only at very high levels by the discovery and practice of the largest ideals, self-aware wisdom, self-conquest and mastery and compassion that we find effective clues to progressive harmonisation.
We are all aware of the moral theories of hedonism, hedonistic utilitarianism, ideal utilitarianism, intuitionism, and other higher