Morality in a Material Universe (part one)

(This is the first installment of an essay that will be posted in three parts.  It’s been divided  for readability.  Those interested in looking at the whole piece will find it as a “page” with the same title in the sidebar to the right below the books.)

 Morality, like language, is a living thing.  And like all living things it evolves. The changes that occur in that evolution will be deep or superficial, rapid or slow, depending on variables that influence the process.  One of those variables, similar to a grammar scheme for a language, is codification and its rational justification.

In both language and morality, the influence of codification is artificial, unnatural, imposed from without on a living process by a relatively arbitrary rationalization.  It is a theoretical construct designed, after the fact, to make it all “make sense;” the overall intent is to insure that things do not change. 

But change breaks through those barriers as it must because morality evolves, and it results in an irreconcilable antinomy between practice and theory.  New behavior no longer “makes sense” by the accepted standards and tends to be considered immoral.  The following essay is an attempt to elucidate the traditional rational ground that once justified our western “Judaeo-Christian” moral inheritance and guaranteed its immutability.  I want to understand why it no longer makes sense and ask how we should respond. 

Hopefully, understanding the living process of moral evolution will make it possible for us to integrate with it as creative and responsible participants.

 1

In a universe constructed by “Spirit,” reality is the product of “Mind” and rationality is the key to understanding it.  What things do is determined by what they are, and what things are was conceived in advance by the “Mind” that designed and gave them their “purpose.”  So by knowing what something was — how it was structured — one could discern its purpose and how it should act.  The procedure for arriving at conclusions about human morality — how we should act — was, broadly speaking, deductive; it is what the philosophers call a priori: you reason from a known prior premise (human nature) to a posterior conclusion (right human behavior).

In a universe constructed by matter, on the other hand, reality is the result of the trial and error meanderings of an irrepressible energy to exist.  What things are is determined by what has been able to survive by interacting successfully with its material environment.  In a material universe the survival activity of entities determines their structure, not the other way around.  Matter has only one goal and therefore there is only one “purpose” common to all things: to exist.  Unlike a universe of spirit, what things are (their nature) is determined by what they do that works.  By examining the way something survives, therefore, one is able to determine why it developed the structure that it has.  And that structure has no other purpose than to serve as a platform for the continuation of the behavior that works.  The method of discerning the relationship between nature and action in this case is inductive … and the procedures are called a posteriori: human behavior shaped and therefore explains the human body and mind and the communities that sustain them.

The “purpose” of existence is to exist — to survive.  The natural selection that produced living things of all kinds was driven exclusively by their ability to exist.  Once human beings came along, however, the game changed.  The emergence of language in community required larger brain power.  Humankind’s imagination, exponentially expanded over that of other animals and colletively employed, became its principal tool of survival.  Humans understand the sequential nature of time; they can anticipate future events and make plans together accordingly.  Hence “purpose” became the key to human behavior and explains the phenomenal success of the species which now dominates the planet.  With humans purpose was introduced into the universe for the first time.

Purpose is natural to human behavior, so it is natural that humans would project purpose onto the the very process of evolutionary emergence itself.  In the West we have traditionally believed a “Mind” like ours made everything, and like our minds it did what it did for a purpose.

We have learned, however, that what made everything was not “Mind” but rather an irrepressible energy to exist, esse.  What evolved from esse was a function of esse; by surviving, it would slowly develop those structures that would allow it to do what was necessary to continue to be-here, to survive.

This means that it was human behavior in society that slowly sculpted the hominid body and its psychic characteristics out of the granite potential of our simian ancestors; it was not the other way around.  Human social behavior is morality; hence we say that it was our moral choices beginning in the distant past that shaped what we are.  Humans are moral beings because they decided long ago that for human society to survive, sustain its individual members and thrive, “moral” behavior was demanded.  Our life in society made us “human.”

This was not an instantaneous process.  These constructions have taken place over eons of geologic time and they are obviously still a work in progress.  The first species of homo, homo erectus, a direct ancestor of homo sapiens, emerged from the australopithecines 2.4 million years ago and human behavior in society has been evolving ever since, refining itself by prioritizing the choices that work to protect and enhance human-life-in-society.  Our body and mind was given its current size, shape, physical features and psychic predispositions by that process.  Many of our special characteristics, like the physical forms of our genders and our sense of the sacred come from there.  Everything we are is a combination of our organic inheritance and human choice in society.

The “selections” made in this regard were not exclusively empathic.  The absence of any subspecies of homo other than ours suggests that our brains were originally xenophobic — pro­grammed for the visceral rejection of others, hominid or not, that did not share our identity.  It was the way we survived; it worked for us and so xenophobia was “selected.”  It’s no surprise, then, that beginning in the 16th century these same brains slaughtered, brutalized, enslaved, and exploited dark-skinned “heathen”peoples all over the globe creating inequities that are with us still; it confirms the survival etiology of our organic structures.  If our morality now condemns such practices, it is because they are no longer seen as conducive to collective survival; but in the 1500’s no amount of “deduction from Natural Law” or Catholic belief and practice had any deterrent effect on the baptized “conquerors” of New Spain and the colonizers that came after them.  Even after the issue was publicly debated by Catholic theologians before Phillip II in the 1540’s, the practice of encomienda, “christianizing slavery,” was upheld as “moral.”  So much for the rational deduction of morality from the principles of natural law.

Morality is what works for us

I am talking about the fundamental direction that development takes in a material universe; development does not come rationally reasoned from the top down, it goes non-rationally from the bottom up.  What works, survives, whether it makes sense or not; that’s how things evolve.  And the structural variations that work better will endure and eventually displace the others leaving a trail of what may appear to be rationally designed modifications.

I am trying to enunciate the general principles of organic construction and therefore a way of understanding the character of the entities that have evolved in our universe of matter, and that includes us.  Evolution explains reality at all times and at all levels of development.  It is as true for us today as it was 2.4 million years ago.  Behavior that guarantees survival determines genetics; and genetics establishes the parameters of potential future behavior — in the case of humans, it determines the possible moral choices in the struggles of societal survival still to come.  While there is always a mutual causality between choice and genetics, successful survival behavior remains the heuristic priority.  That means that purpose and choice, albeit highly conditioned and certainly not in the short run, guide the process.

A moral code is the pragmatic result of human beings “muddling through” life-in-society and, over time, deciding together what works and what doesn’t work.  The biblical code that we inherited — do not kill, do not steal, do not covet your neighbors wife or goods, do not lie, respect your parents — was the result of that same process of trial and error coming to conclusions of increasing consensus among the individuals of our social /cultural continuum.  The “ten” commandments were a compendium of what was working when Exodus was redacted in the 6th century bce.  “God” did not promulgate them.  “God” was called on to justify and sacralize the existing social order and its self-understanding.  And it is important to emphasize, “religion,” the fear and exclusive worship of the tribe’s “gods,” was an integral part of it.  It should not surprise us that it still is.  In the ancient past we survived by clan and tribe; we are predisposed to protect and advance them.  Universalism is the growing effect of gloablization, not its cause.

Morality is not a matter of rational principles inferred by analyzing “human nature” and determining its “purpose.”  There is no “natural law,” and the only purpose of human life, as for all life, is to exist.  How existence can be achieved and enhanced for all in the huge complex societies that we have developed to protect ourselves from the elements and from the natural selfishness common to all organisms, is our morality.  It is a human project.  Morality is what we have decided is the “right” way to live, and as time goes by our organisms are shaped by our decisions.  If human survival has moved from tribe to global civilization, our bodies and instincts as yet have not.  In time they will.

Parenthetically: just as there is no “natural law” embedded in human nature by a rational “God” that must be obeyed, so too there is no “natural law” of the jungle implanted by evolution to which we must surrender.  I am not calling for a Nietzschean return to primal forces — the substitution of one “natural law” for another.  I am saying there is no natural “law” of any kind; we create the law we want to live by and, in the long run, we create ourselves.

We are organically conditioned by the past choices our species has made, but only relatively.  Selected predispositions like xenophobia that served survival in the past will become meaningless in time because as our collectivities expand and overlap the “tribe” will become all-inclu­sive.  We already see that process under way.  If the growing global vision of ethnic inclusiveness survives, in time the organic substrate will catch up and xenophobia will be “de-selected.”  It will take a very long time, but it will happen.

Morality is only secondarily what we should do, primarily it is who we want to be, and tribal religion has, up to now, always been the principal tool for articulating and implementing it.  It seems likely that that will also change and I believe we are seeing it beginning right before our eyes: tribal religion is being replaced by a universal vision of right behavior.  This evolving process holds true in all areas.  We can also anticipate a change in the secondary sex characteristics of the human genders; if present trends are any indication of what the future holds, la différence will eventually disappear.  As they did in the past, over time our choices will shape our bodies and our minds.   That’s the way things work in a material universe.

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8 comments on “Morality in a Material Universe (part one)

  1. rharding0728 says:

    Reblogged this on rharding0728 and commented:
    Tony, Thanks for this step forward in your marvelous presentation of a new and usefull “Summa” of where we are and where we can go in our pursuit of that which gives us being.
    It does me wonders to be able to reframe so much of my skewed belief system in meaningful, rational arguments for how to live my life in peace and confidence. I am what I have become because that was all I was “supposed” to do. I think you are doing a great work of redirecting others for whom the old ways no longer have meaning or validity. We are products of a material, relentless process and our focus should be on how well we meet the challenges of the process since the outome of the process is beyond our capacity to grasp. Certainly there are gaps in my functioning but the overall theme is that I am and have always been, whole, loved, and united to that which has given me existence. What a great feeling that is.
    By way of raising an issue, I did hesitate a little at your statement – The “purpose” of existence is to exist — to survive.” It would seem to me that the purpose could better be described as one of improvement, or adding value, rather than just surviving. I don’t mean that we must consciously struggle to be better or wiser that any previous generation, but as humans evolve into a more, shall I say enlightened race of responsible stewards of our marvelous universe,since we already have the capacity to reflect upon a conscious role in the dynamic material process, we can serve the function of refining the evolutionary process by living responsibly with that same stewardship in mind.
    Consciousness ipso facto raises that responsibility for those who participate.
    Thanks again for making your thoughts available to all who seek.

  2. Brian Coyne says:

    “I am saying there is no natural ‘law’ of any kind; we create the law we want to live by and, in the long run, we create ourselves.”

    I betcha they didn’t teach you that in seminary, Tony. And I’d bet even more it is still not taught in Catholic seminaries!

    Again can I thank you for an enlightening essay. For what it is worth it makes a lot of sense to me and supplements, or backs up, a number of conclusions I’ve been coming to. In an earlier post on Catholica today — see “Another heretical thought for Lent” http://www.catholica.com.au/forum/index.php?id=150703 — I was suggesting if the Catholic institution wants to regain some place of respect in the eyes of the great majority of people in the educated world, we need to go right back and review this belief, that this Mystery that exists at the Source and Destination of Life (which we label as “God”), appoints some “elite” and the “official spokespeople” for what the Divine mind thinks. The population at large simply no longer believe the “traditional” explanations. (In our country just short of 10% of the baptised bother to participate and listen anymore and there is nothing to indicate the downward trend has been arrested.) Your essay might even cause us to question if there is even a “Divine mind”.

    In my own personal exploration in recent years I’ve been coming to the conclusion that too much emphasis has been placed on the Alpha-, Source- or Creator-God, shifting to the belief that the God-, or Divine-that-matters is the Destination-, or Omega-God. The God-that-matters, I increasingly wonder, is some kind of expression of our collective hopes and aspirations of the ‘perfect beings’ we human would like to be, and also some expression of our collective hopes and aspiration of the ‘ideal society we’d like to inhabit’? There is no “God in the sky” who acts as some air-traffic controller telling us what the laws are and pushing us around like some pawns on a chessboard. What you write fits very comfortably with that shift that has been going on in my own thinking.

    One of the great tragedies at present, I feel, is that we cannot discuss ideas such as these “in church”. Perhaps that is one of the major causes why the institution seems to be in this state of crisis and almost exponential decline in relevance in educated society today? As I wrote on Catholica the elements who control the institutional culture today have seemingly elevated this belief that God speaks through the magisterium and the pope, and “infallibly” as well. This belief has now been elevated to the point where it has even supplanted to the First Commandment of the Decalogue in priority. That’s what you’ve got to believe before all else and that is why the entire upper management structure of the institution has been reduced to what is effectively silence on the questions the vast majority in thinking society want answered. Homilies and pastoral statements have become an art form in using a lot of words that say absolutely nothing to the vast majority of the population and are primarily geared to keeping the remnant and insecure elements in their trees so that they don’t cause mayhem down on the forest or sanctuary floor. To have the sort of conversations that you encourage you literally have to do it on blogs and in places that are outside the institution today.

    Much to mull on in everything you write and I’ll look forward to the further essays in this series.

  3. rjjwillis says:

    Tony,
    A broken arm makes me a one-fingered typist. Brevity rules!
    The Conatus is a natural drive to survive AND to grow. Growth is a necessary condition of survival. We are relational beings. Being is becoming; becoming is growth; growth occurs in, by, and through relating.

    Essentialistic systems—like the Catholic Church—seek an absolute basis for morality, such as, God, God’s will, the Ten Commandments, Sacred Scripture. From them it may then logically deduce the rightness or wrongness of actions with security and certainty
    .
    Existential thinkers base their moral judgments on the perceptions of experience
    .
    I do not accept that morality is the evolving consensus as to successful tactics for survival for a given group, family, gang, clan, tribe, community, or nation. Think, for example, of the perceived expectation for, and honor from, hari kari in given circumstances among Japanese during WWII. Does this evolving consciousness and consensus establish hari kari as morally good? Or, again, does the tribal consensus of the Nazis about the value of ethnic cleansing of all Jewish contamination of the Germanic race raise it to a moral good? Or, to use your example, does the Christian world’s consensual acceptance of slavery up until the late 18th Century make its practitioners absolved from moral evil?

    For me, to live and to grow, and to share life and growth is to act morally. This means that to refuse willingly to live and to grow, and willingly to refuse to share life and growth, is to act immorally. To act amorally is unknowingly to miss opportunities to live and to grow, or opportunities to share life and growth with another.

    My best, if halting, regards, Bob

    • tonyequale says:

      Bob,

      Thanks for your comments. I heard about your arm. I’m glad to see you are able to type at least. I hope you heal up fast. Falling is one of the hazards of living past the biblical tally in the psalm (“70 is the sum of our years …”)
      .
      The conatus as I see it has an instinctive side and it has an instructive side. “Growth” as a “spiritual” enlargement achieved in the crucible of relationship is a learned response, discovered over time, refined and cherished by the community and passed on from one generation to the next among those that have come to appreciate it. It is not instinctive and it is not universal. The dependency relationship of the infant on the mother is instinctive and universal … but its transmutation into myriads of potentially enriching relationships to family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, the stranger and the totally unknown source and matrix of our existence is a cultural development, shaped and given value by the community.

      Morality is relative to lights … and the lights that the individuals use to light their way are generally completely controlled by the community. No, I do not believe that slavery was “immoral” until the community “saw” it. Eighteen hundred years of slavery and the only thing immoral was treating your slave badly. The Spanish encomenderos were acting in good faith. De las Casas was outraged that the conquistadores had the gall to sing “Te Deums” in Church (led by the priests and bishops, of course) after one of their genocidal “victories” over Indians with primitive weapons, but the point is that they sang the “Te Deum” in good faith. They really intended and believed they were praising “God” for what they sincerely believed was an act that furthered “God’s kingdom” and promoted his glory. It’s only over time and experience that the inhumanity of it was “seen” by the community.

      Hari kari was a moral “good” for the Japanese at that time and in those circumstances of traditional beliefs. Those that performed it were not immoral. But that it was once a “good” does not establish some absolute worth for the practice. There are no absolute values and consensus does not change that. The consensus of the community establishes what is considered moral at any given time and place, but it is always tentative, hypothetical, open to clarification and change.
      Many forget that the Nazis weren’t the only anti-Semites in those years. The famous American Catholic firebrand Father Coughlin was a rabid anti-Semite, and even Dorothy Day’s “partner,” Peter Maurin, the co-founder of the Catholoic Worker, was an anti-semite. Anti-semitism allowed the majority of Christian authorities in Germany, Protestant and Catholic, to support Hitler’s program in the aggregate and so the vast majority of the Christian people could turn a blind eye “in good conscience” to what was happening. Were all these people “immoral”? That there was genocide going on was not acknowledged until after the fact. But no one would say they were immoral. Most did not bother to find out what the nazis were doing and those that did felt impotent to do anything about it. That passive complicity affected the majority populations in all of Europe and even reached right up to the pope. A recent article in the NYRB about Vichy France spells out the devastating effect of “passive complicity.” It was only afterwards that all of “Christendom” finally “saw” what anti-semitism and “passive complicity” really meant. Before that they didn’t. Christians created anti-semitism beginning with the gospels. And slavery was accepted as a part of life. We see it now for what it is … and analogously what racial and ethnic hatred means wherever it rages … but we didn’t “see” it until we “saw” it. Now we see it. Morality has evolved.

      But don’t be fooled. Everyone thinks their “vision” is the ultimate one and that without it we are all damned. Some of those who believe that will try — in good faith — to reinstate the “old ways,” ways we now consider “immoral.” We can always go back, unfortunately; the only thing preventing it is the consensus of the community.

      To grow through relationship is a cultural discovery and development. It is not instinctive and it is not “natural law.” The imbalanced relationships of the old “paternal domination” patterns of family life were also “relationships” and were considered healthy precisely because they were hierarchialized witht Daddy always at the top. We don’t believe that any more and we think the new “egalitarian” relationships between the sexes is the “right way to live.” It has become a value diffused throughout our cultural continuum and it is more and more accepted as an authentic path for humanness. It is an example of change and the process of “trial and error” and consensus over time that I claim is the way we “muddle through” and little by little discover how to live as human beings.

      But it all depends on consensus. There is nothing to prevent us from “going back.”

  4. rjjwillis says:

    Tony,

    Conatus + Evolution = Growth
    Or
    Conatus = Evolution = Growth

    I, from experience, hold the latter. What say you?

    My reason: matter does not exist alone. From the micro to macro worlds it hurries to aggregate, combine, concentrate, congregate, procreate and proliferate. Indeed, I would say that Conatus = Matter = Evolution = Growth. Is this any different from the convertibleness of energy and matter?

    My best, Bob

    • tonyequale says:

      Bob,

      I think your last four-part equation comes the closest. I believe the energy to exist, conatus, is the bedrock foundation of reality. There is nothing beyond it or below it that sustains and explains it. That existential energy, ab initio, is material. There is no other kind. It’s not like there is matter and then it is subsequently energized, or that there is energy and some outside factor “converts” it or some of it into matter. No, the only energy there is, is material existence, esse. So in this scheme, conatus = material energy.

      The next “step” is evolution because aggregation and integration causes material particles to become structurally coherent in an existential energy field. It’s not that they wanted to aggregate and complexify, it’s that those were the conditions of structured coherence as “that.” And “that,” by bumping into other serendipitous combinations, becomes other structured “things,” and that is growth. So part of the “evolution = growth” step is to acknowledge that it is totally a posteriori. It was not planned in advance in any way, not even by the “desire” of particles to continue in their structure. What remained is what had to remain given the physical capacities and conditions of material particles in an existential material energy field. What stayed structurally coherent is what had to stay structurally coherent.

      This is the scientific view of things at the pre-life levels. There is only one undeniable a priori and it is the unexplained presence of this existential energy which we, given our dualist illusions, have become accustomed to call “material” in opposition to “spiritual.” We can hardly get our heads around the notion that it is the only existential energy there is. Our very terminology undermines our comprehension of the exclusively material nature of reality and the esse which is its ground.

      At the level of life, suddenly structure becomes self-conscious: the energy of the pre-composite substrate “gathers” in the new complexity and begins to “intend” itself, actively finding ways to nourish, protect and reproduce itself. Why it should “want” to do that is the mystery of life because pre-life physical and chemical combinations do not seem to display that characteristic. There are early hints, however, like viruses, which seem to have a foot in both camps. At any rate, “life’s” “intentions” have become more and more self-appropriated in the line of development that led to us until in homo our ability to imagine what does not (yet) exist allows us not only to intend to feed, defend and reproduce ourselves and survive but to also intend, well in advance, the food we need and how we will hunt and gather, preserve and store it, and what infrastructure, social and physical, will sustain self-defense and the procreation and rearing of progeny and maintain those activities on into the future.

      The fact that structured coherence has passed from being a serendipitous phenomenon to an intended and planned phenomenon does not in any way disturb the fundamental priority of existential energy. From start to finish it is all a function of esse and esse is only material. But what is most relevant to our discussion here is that we have no other a priori to fall back on to determine why we are here and what we should do with our lives. All we have is material esse. The rest — all of it — is a derivative of esse and represents a developing interpretation made by the species homo, concretized in social structure and the individual behavior required to sustain it, that has shaped our bodies and its instincts. That formation, organic as it is, is still radically open to re-formation, even though on a time scale that is beyond our ken. The point is that not even the current shape of our body with its predispositions can determine in any absolute sense how we must live. Nietzsche was short sighted in that regard. Morality is human self-projection constructed by a virtually unlimited imagination made possible by our massive brains, and our bodies will take shape, eventually, around those decisions. Thus neither “God” nor “evolution” determines what we are and how we should live in any absolute sense.

      Enter our interpretations: many of us subscribe to traditional interpretations of the fundamental thrust of esse as benevolent and self-donating (I would add, albeit non-rational). The proliferation of the near-infinite number of life forms and the near-infinite size of the universe certainly makes such an interpretation as plausible as any other. Choices for society and individual behavior based on that interpretation are reasonable and if taken self-consciously in the context of probability, cannot be damaging to life-in-society with others. But the same holds true for those who do not “see” benevolence but rather an extraordinary confluence of random factors producing the same results. Each interpretation must deal with a conatus that is as absolute as it gets for us: the drive to survive and the appreciation of things that are ancillary to that drive (i.e., the sense of the sacred). Esse rules. Everyone must appreciate human life and work for its enhancement. What metaphor one chooses to symbolize and evoke that appreciation will nuance, but not radically alter, those obligations.

      Thus my conclusion: if we love it’s because we choose to love; we are not determined to love. And we have chosen to love because we have heard the counsel of our tradition going back 2.4 million years that loves works. Our bodies have been shaped around it. If you love, you will live. If you choose otherwise you will damage yourself and others …

      Tony

  5. mj7blackwell says:

    Hi Tony. Thanks for writing.

    Do you think evolution is teleological? Does it proceed towards any particular end point? Complexity? Order? Or?

    Also, regardless, is there any systematic understanding of morality, beyond “Live” that can guide behavior for sentient, time-aware, world-shaping http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropocene creatures? Say you are in the role of shaping behavior, a leader or cultural designer. What are your principles?

    • tonyequale says:

      Do you think evolution is teleological? Does it proceed towards any particular end point? Complexity? Order? Or?

      Evolution is serendipitous. The fact that it has produced a pyramidal structure of species is purely coincidental. The pyramid is in our minds; it reflects our way or organizing things. There does not seem to be any mechanism determining the order in which things evolve. That being said, I hasten to add that there is also no evidence to date that evolution has ever moved from a more complex to a more simple structure. That’s not hard to understand. Given a certain degree of complexity that “works,” i.e., that has been selected, why “de-select” … unless environmental conditions change radically.

      Another remarkable thing about the evolution of material energy is that no matter what the level of “interiority,” it has always found a way to transcend it … i.e., go deeper, wider, more intense. So if we think of “life” as the self-appropriation of existence flowering in behavior self-directed to the protection, nourishment, enhancement and reproduction of the current existent, the emergence of consciousness intensifying those features by allowing them to be sublevated into our symbol making capacity so that feeding becomes meals and banquets of conviviality and reproduction becomes the interpersonal compenetration of mutual love, represents a transcendence that could never have been predicted, but in hindsight flowed seamlessly from the former. Can we expect the same kind of thing, unpredictably coherent, in the future? I don’t see why not. It has occurred often enough in the past to justify the hypothesis. Matter’s energy is intricsically self-transcendent. Where will such a continuous transcendence end? There is no evidence that it must stop anywhere.

      So the answer is “no one knows,” but there is every reason to suspect that it’s “going places.”

      Also, regardless, is there any systematic understanding of morality, beyond “Live” that can guide behavior for sentient, time-aware, world-shaping http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropocene creatures? Say you are in the role of shaping be-havior, a leader or cultural designer. What are your principles?

      Any attempt at codification must be acknowledged to be conjectural, temporary, the “state of the art” guess as to what works best for all concerned. I think every effort should be made to avoid codification and to rather provide formulas for muddling through, i.e., what principles and priorities should the moral agent(s) activate in their processing of behavior. And part of that process is the massive feedback that comes from cnsensus. At any given moment there is a community consensus as to what behavior is appropriate. Disragarding that consensus and “doing what I want” needs a justification provided by the benefit it offers to all concerned.

      Tony

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