The Art of Morality

“Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere.”

— G. K. Chesterton

“The art of morality is understanding where you draw your lines, how, and why. “
— Gail Taylor

In conventional morality, we draw a line because we’re trying to conform (or get others to conform) to what we’re taught is right/wrong, good/bad, acceptable/not acceptable. In relativistic morality, we draw a line only if it’s right for the person/persons involved; the relationship of the issue to the individuual or group becomes priority, and the “right choice” for “each person” could differ. In integral morality, we look at the system along with our awareness of cultural norms and relative needs, and draw a squiggle that will most open the system. But the capacity to do so requires an aptitude to consciously identify the underlying commitments at play. Is it moral to lie to your spouse? If we have come to a transparent spiritual play of it as a means to open each other and our relationship, it may be. Is it moral to participate in war-oriented projects? What are the underlying values we’re trying to fulfill? Are we making choices that are inclusive of all needs, or are we making choices at the expense of someones / some culture’s needs?

Where, how and when do you draw your lines? For any given decision, does my morality tend toward a more conventional, relativistic, or integral morality?


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