3.8 Summary


(1) The widely accepted view that religion and moral codes (ethics) are inherently connected, though denied by rationalist movements of the last few centuries, is in essence correct. If we mean by religion having an emotional interest in the mysteries "What am I" and "What is this universe into which I am come?", then "What ought I to do?" is organically, emotionally connected to the first two questions.


(2) Historical attempts to surpass our intellectually unsatisfactory subjection to dogmatic, "revealed" ethics have in the main attempted to tie a clear "rationalistic" logic to unabashedly a priori statements of what turn out to be subjectively preferred values by a fashion or an individual. (Even in Utilitarianism the "greatest happiness of the greatest number of mankind" is presumptuously human.) Even if such an ethical system meets the ordinary internal consistencies required in the structure of a moral code (Lepley, 1944; Ladd, 1957) it yet rests on an arbitrary, inadequate or even absurd set of premises. By contrast, a scientific basis for ethics, which we here begin to set up, must adopt not only (a) derivation of laws for inter-individual behavior from a primary goal by a social scientific discovery of what behaviors serve that goal, but, also, (b) derivation of the goal itself from an examination of ongoing processes in the universe.


(3) Science increasingly perceives the over-riding theme of our universe as one of organic and inorganic evolution. Regardless of whether our present view of this process is one that will ultimately be accepted (it will probably be modified) our situation compels us to adopt evolution of man as a first goal. For, if we doubt this, only through evolution of our intellectual capacities can we hope to reach a new height from which to gain a truer conception of what this process means. This has been called the "forced choice" argument for the evolutionary goal. Indeed, at no point is an "act of faith" required in this ethical-religious system other than with regard to the usual basic questions of epistemology. For, granted only that humanity (or any other living species) has life processes which require it to live and continue, it is compelled to do so by living according to the laws of evolution.


(4) Evolution toward greater cognitive understanding is also evolution toward richer emotional life. Advance is no mere "coldly intellectual" understanding. For, within presently observable ranges of intelligence, we find that emotional life differentiates and enriches itself proportionately to the cognitive perceptions that are possible. Thus in advancing in intellectual grasp we advance potentially in emotional capacity.

Actually, it is at present beyond our emotional understanding that evolution has to occur at all. For, if a power in the universe is able to predestine the eventual outcome the reason for the latter having to be found by trial and error is not clear. This riddle we have to accept as part of our present limited understanding.


(5) Unlike many current philosophies of progress, Beyondism calls equally for the cultural and genetic progress of man. Despite differences that may become clearer as social science research proceeds, evolution in each of these has at least basic principles in common with the other. Each requires a primary rigidity, i.e., that except for special impacts the genetic or cultural system has the capacity to "breed true" and persist. Advance from the given position then occurs through (a) definite acts of variation (genetic mutation on the one hand, and accidental or deliberate social experiment on the other) and (b) selection from newly encountered demands from the external world. Beyondist morality therefore calls for the preservation and augmentation of both of these activities.


(6) The individual and society are parts of the same process not elements in opposition. Society needs individual self-realization in the form of innovative thought for its success as a society, and the individual in turn needs society without which he cannot reach full expression of his potential. Variation and natural selection operate on the habits and genes of the individual, and upon the cultural and genetic patterns of societies as wholes. However, natural selection operating among groups is the final arbiter, since whatever selection may produce competent or powerful individuals as such must still bow to the selection that defines the properties necessary for maintaining viable groups.


(7) The goal of evolutionary progress thus sets as a primary moral aim the maintenance of an ethos or atmosphere defined as "cooperative competition" among groups. This is an agreement to go competitively in diverse directions for the sake of a shared purpose. What is required among individuals will follow from what is required among groups by that condition. However, although the virtues of particular within-group ethical systems are thus weighed for their survival value, the outcome of the natural selection process among groups is also determined by genetic and environmental resources unconnected with and extra to what is contributed by the present moral state of the group. It is an illusion apparently shared by dogmatic religion, Fascism, Liberalism, Humanism and most Utopian political systems that we can directly tell from our untutored desires what directions of change are progressive. Social scientific research can greatly raise the degree of certaintly in choosing what is going to be progressive; but in the last resort the internal direction of social change remains an adventure and a gamble. Poorer methods than those of science, such as those of resting on Utopian guesses, may have to be tolerated for a while, though measurement, recording and rapid analysis will bring trial and error closer to scientific planning. But Beyondism differs in not aiming at the static equilibrium of a Utopia or in putting faith in mere rationalism. It sees evolution as a continuous quest, and it recognizes that in the last resort what is progressive can only be defined either after the event, through the fact of group survival, or by less reliable indicators and predictors of evolutionary expansion or morbidity observable before the ultimate proof by viability.


(8) The problem of evaluating without waiting to evaluate as history the progressiveness and survival potential of an existing society is extremely difficult. A first expansion of the general principles stated earlier for evaluating evolutionary advance is briefly attempted here. At a level of probability one may generalize that features found more frequent in societies that are recorded to have failed are less valuable than those of societies still living (provided all societies compared have met essentially equal stresses). Similarly, elements that have lasted long in a society are more likely to be sound than those little tried by time. Additionally some indicators both of a general moribund condition in a society and of a positive effectiveness can be tentatively set up. Important among the latter is evidence of capacity to adjust over a wider range of environmental challenges. Thus in human societies a capacity to produce and utilize individuals of higher intelligence is one important objective measure of advance.


(9) The positive moral value indicated for cooperative competition should lead to a "grand experiment" of deliberately setting up bio-culturally diversified groups, along with a scientific monitoring system for evaluation of groups and exchange of information. This should set very few limits to the action of spontaneous variation, competition and natural selection among groups. The high percentage of failures inherently occurring in all mutations requires positive scientific measures to invent more viable variations and, at the same time to foster and supply the conditions necessary for effective evaluation for inter-group natural selection, in which one must realistically anticipate and accept a substantial number of "failures."


(10) The inter-individual moral rules which need to develop within groups are primarily (a) the "community laws" necessary for sustaining the life and survival of any group, and, (b) secondarily, some unique values in individual behavior specifically necessary for each group's own experiment. Historically it seems probable that the half-million years of inter-group natural selection has led to the present moral customs of revealed religions. They are followed by mankind often under the impression that they came by "inspired" and divine religious insight, without full perception of their rationale of action. Far from the action of natural selection leading to aggression, cruelty and individual non-conformity, which the nineteenth century (vide Nietzsche) naively assumed, it is actually the source of altruism, self-sacrifice and the standard values of the Decalogue (or its equivalent in other cultures).


(11) The goal of evolutionary advance actually leads to three distinct areas of derived moral laws: (1) between groups, (2) between individual members of the same group, and (3) between individuals at large. The two first sets are relatively straightforward in derivation; the last has to encompass the complex attitudes and behavior of sharing a common purpose through a diversity of loyalties. It includes maintaining free speech, fair play and mutual respect in completely antagonistic argument and action.

In the last thousand years universalistic religions have made the false (but naturally ambitious) step of arguing that within-group moral values should be simply carried over to between-group behavior, and the interactions of all men regardless of their other affiliations. Beyondism takes issue with this, inferring from its principles that active inter-group cooperative competition and differentiation need to be maintained, and that the required balance of shared and non-shared values is more intricate than the emotionalism of revealed religion or the "obviousness" of rationalism suppose.


(12) Just as in historical religio-moral developments, the spirit and ideas of an evolutionary morality will need ultimately to become embodied in social organizations. Chief among these needed creations is an international research planning and evaluating organization, which, though essentially only advisory, will need the political power support of a federation.

In this chapter the reader has nowhere been offered the detailed injunctions of a finished moral system, but only a rough map and a compass. It requires a substantial development of national and international social science research centers to reach practical, concrete ethical guidance.















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