The topic of morality, while being universally understood as pertaining to human action and its judgment, is so aberrated with religio-political premises that everyone believes that morality is something outside of them.
The religio-political tells us that morality is an “outside-in”, “top-down” process- that morality is imposed from the outside and that the individual must submit himself to it. That morality is anti-individualistic and that it should serve to curb individual desires to the need of a collectivist construct- such as God, the church, the state or “the people”. That morality is, inherently, a struggle between who we are and what we should do. That morality is some context-less, unjustified arbitrary set of rules that we have to follow for its own sake.
Virtually everyone believes this, and it is utter nonsense.
To begin with, the religio-political imposes its values by fear, and fear is not a motivator of morality. What fear produces is blind, abject obedience, not morality. When, in a dictatorship, one can be killed for speaking against the state, one does not consider it “good” or “evil” but simply does not do it. Moral considerations do not enter into abject obedience because abject obedience is based on no consideration.
Being motivated by fear is the life of the savage or the child. I have already discussed elsewhere how religio-political morality is infantile. Babies learn morality through the use of narratives that inspire fear, and pre-cognitive conditioning (giving orders, stopping from doing bad things, rewards and punishments). That is how parenting “works”, through conditioning and intimidation. The same thing applies to the religio-political, and in general any “outside-in” process.
But furthermore, we can say that, unlike babies, adults do not need narratives to live in fear. People live in fear of the taxman, of the police, of God’s disapproval, of the Church, of their parents, of their “duties”, either because they believe in them, or because they live in societies where other people believe in them.
To make this simple, we can say that an “outside-in” approach to morality requires coercion, and coercion is the antithesis of morality or truth. It is, therefore, a contradiction in terms. A ruling class agent is imposing his own value system through coercion, but he is not imposing that value system on other people. No one can be made moral by force- that is an absurd confusion. The only alternative is “inside-out”, individual-based morality.
The same process is observed in “parents” who believe they can “beat some discipline” into their children, either personally or by sending them to boot camps. It is quite impossible to beat discipline into anyone. Someone can change his life around because he realizes there is such a need, of course. But anyone who has experience with teenagers raised in strict homes knows that using force to impose discipline is about as sensical as trying to do science by following the Bible. To have discipline is to channel one’s desires in order to gain better habits. Violence does not affect this in any way whatsoever.
No, morality is not outside of you. It has nothing at all to do with religio-political dogma or propaganda. It has nothing to do with imaginary “duties” and arbitrary judgments. It is the expression of who you are. Morality, defined in the simplest way possible, answers how to evaluate who we are and how to express who we are, by searching for the truth.
A more strict definition is this: morality is the study of causality as it applies to human action and its judgment. This may seem like an unusual definition, but it is in fact the only possible one. Any field of study concerns itself with causality on a specific area. Physics is the study of the causal principles regulating matter, energy, and their interactions. Economics is the study of the causal principles regulating commodities, and their production and consumption. Even crafts and hobbies study causality. Some methods or choices make things prettier or more efficient than others.
Morality, as a field of study, can be no different. It must be concerned by causal principles, or it is useless. If, as many people posit, morality is the study of personal, emotional belief, then we don’t need that term: we already designate that under “sociology” and “cultural studies” (two horribly aberrated fields in and of themselves). But even people in these fields try to discuss facts, not fantasies. There is nothing to discuss about beliefs, as they are unjustified, apart from pointing out who holds what belief and how they came to believe it.