‘I was just following my superior’s orders’ – Nuremberg principle IV
Is obedience a virtue? It certainly is treated as such by some. Obedience may bring to mind strict parents or the rank and file of the military. Certainly some good has come from both. It seems to contradict the idea that the human right to fork or to walk away from and split with authority is valid at all. With some exploration of the word and it’s uses for good, it becomes clear that humanty’s understanding of obedience must be a misnomer.
To answer this we need to look at what virtue itself is about. A virtue is personal attribute (transitory or not) that reflects both morality and accomplishment. In other words a person with an accomplishment behind them that deems them worthy of respect (Please see an earlier post for exploration of that word.) Morality is of course some variation of conscionable behavior.
The very concept of obedience falls apart as a virtue. The conscience as defined by civgene (psychopaths as our predecessors) indicates that moral thought is comprised of reason (defined), and the metamind part of reason will always be subconscious. A virtue must include both parts of reason (the hunch and rational thought.) With enough time, your gut will contradict your orders, and unrationalized obedience becomes a vice.
I’m not saying the obedience has no place in civilization. The lions share of humans may be empaths, but we share the world with psychopaths. Psychopaths lash out at a world which rejects their master/slave model. They can be treated well with the right considerations and restrictions, but they will never participate in self contained cooperation. They simply lack the tools.
To share a particular mission with psychopaths we need to revert to their way of thinking, temporally. The oath is the solution to this conundrum. To the psychopath the oath has no subconscious impact, just more master/slave orders to follow, but to the emapth it is ceding one’s personal conscience to a self realized principle. The consequences of disobedience tie directly back to that oath. When orders conflict with oath, the commander has broken the very respect upholding the oath has earned him. He is no longer acting in a virtuous way.
So when an empath follows orders from a parent or a commander, that right to fork is only temporally, voluntarily, ignored. You can be obedient to an open principle, but no human owns your destiny, except you. Your conscience owns immoral orders as if they were your own mistakes. Abusing your conscience in any fashion slowly destroys your understanding of right and wrong. Morally dubious orders program your subconscious with false risks, crippling your abilty to think in a complete way. You become oblivious to danger at all levels. Your temporary submission to achieve the goals of your mission, has made you less capable, which in turn endangers it.
An immoral parent with a gambling addiction may corral you into friends that take money management lightly, a mentor may exploit you sexually as payment for hard to come by experience, and a commander may demand you kill people who pose no violent threat to anyone. Please consider the respect you have, and may one day be afforded by your society. That respect reflects your virtues, including operating under oath, and refusing to operate when that oath is violated.
Specifically on children, they and parents have an unwritten oath. Society demands it, for it’s own good. The parent genuinely emparts their understanding of the world, and the child genuinely incorporates it into their metamind as their starting point. A way to get by until their metamind begins adapting to their own experiences. Forming an understanding of how to invest in themselves and their world without being taken, robbed or crushed in any number of ways. Children are not slaves to be exploited. The legitimate oath is by design, temporary, conditional, and only fully functional when perpetually transitional towards functional adulthood.
Psychopaths only compete and never cooperate. They do not obey moral principles, only hierarchy. We have some distance to travel before they can be identified and are never given authority over data or other human beings. They may recite an oath aloud, but it’s up to you to make sure they follow it. You do yourself, them and humanity as a whole a service when you shun disloyalty to a moral oath. That is what an oath is for. A bridge between two groups of humans who behave as two different sets. Shunning externally simulates the metamind for those without one. Immediate direct consequence is the only way to impart moral principles to those without conscience.
An oath can externally recreate the functionality of a meta-psychopath for a group of otherwise principled humans. A conditional temporary suspension of personal reason to well thought out societal rationalizations. Just obedience is possible if a moral oath is served with integrity. Obedience need not be slavery, but in the absence of moral thought, it surely is.