Monday, March 3, 2008

Asoka and Collective Morality

The law has evolved in chunks thus far this unit. We had the "safety and security" chunk, made up of Hammurabi, Mosaic Law and Manu. In each of these law codes, a priority was placed upon laws that would insure for safety and survival for as many members of the society as possible. In each of these cases, the survivial of the society was constantly threatened by environmental and social factors. Laws needed to be clear, concise and severe, so that no one jeopardized the entire society's existence.

As we move forward in the timeline, however, survival becomes less tenuous, and the law begins to take on a new character: emphasizing a "collective morality." As we see with Asoka, who wants to institute Buddhism throughout India and thus creates laws that emphasize Buddhist beliefs, the law can be used to both create and reflect the value systems of the collective group. "Collective morality" defines the value system that results when you take both the "state morality" expressed by the government coupled with the "individual morality" of all the citizens. What results is a set of values that all people agree upon as being central to that society. This set of values can change over time, but what's important is that the law is used to reflect those values, whatever they may be.

There is a direct relationship between the level to which the government is accountable to the people and how much the laws become an expression of the collective morality. As the government is more responsible to the needs of the people, the law becomes more of an expression of collective morality. You'll see this relationship fluctuate over time, but you should see that as the people become more of a voice in government, the laws become, in many ways, just written versions of the values and morals of the society.

4 comments:

Coleslaw said...

Well, obviously this is a better way of running a society. Just like in rome, if they were to continue acting like a monarchy sooner or later there would be so many lower class people that if rights didn't affect them, then they could revolt. Now not saying that every class of every decade would revolt when something is unfair, but just for civil rights movement as an example. They continued to fight for what they believed in, which were one of the most important possessions for human beings, their rights. Finally the government gave in and amended that situation. When you think about it, we as america has acted in this manner. We have patronized people below us and then they revolt until their desires are achieved. Well then, is America this perfect country as we all see it being? Well, if the facts are presented, when ever something big wanted to be changed, there were movements and protest, for instance like the problems with illegal immigrants. However, i got off topic there, what i meant to get across is, that when you have the people's choice invoiced, you become more powerful. This is because you have everyone's ideas as resources and it might turn out that those ideas are better then congress, therefore bills are proposed and denied. But with out this system it seems places would lose their working classes values and ideas. If people heard those poeple's voices, everything in could run smoother. (Worst blog post yet)

Anonymous said...

When you think about it, not only is America not a full democracy, but more a republic as we learned in eigth grade, and so its not really "the people" who are deciding what happens in the US but instead elected representatives. Because of this, some people feel that their voices arn't being heard as much as they think it needs to be, which in turn causes riots and revolts. And looking back upon America's history, most of its moral changes have been shapped by independent movements. Most of these movements happen because one person, or a group of people, believe in a certain set of moral values and insist upon others believing in those same values and so they do something about, whether disruptive or helpful is all up to the group. As for moral values generally being applied in a society, i believe that someone cannot create a perfact or even working society if they try to use one type of morality, because as we discovered in class, there are flaws within every type of morality that exist. And thus the only way to create a working society is to combine a number of different "styles" of morality, that way there room for diversity and a society works together to set up what they believe to be "right" set of values. One last thing: If people hadn't tried to bring one type of morality or code in creating a society, we wouldn't have the concepts we have today because each type of morality builds off of older, flawed types of morality.

Nick mades a mistake i thinks said...

Oops...did that post twice?

Julian Pyamadi Randall said...

I think that this is a very good way to govern a people i think that Asoka unnlike many leaders truly felt a duty to his people. He felt that he was merely lucky to be in charge and that therefore it was not in his best interest to dissapoint he has in fact enacted some of his own policies even though they were a sacrifice for him. He is very much like a mother to his people. Yknow what i'm saying. Most moms have experienced that bitter moment in which they have to put baby food in her mouth to get the infant to eat it. But unlike other mothers Asoka didn't wash his tongue five minutes later. He also does not leave his people alone. He does not see the beginning s of a shining utopia and leave it to continue to prosper he constantly sought feedback from every corner of his domain.