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Old 12-05-2010, 06:10 AM
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Ikran Makto
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Default The human condition of Morality - by Me

Preamble:

In my investigation I explored how morality has comportment on the many different characters and organisations in the various texts I studied. The texts I investigated all have potent profiles that are either favourably or adversely affected by morality. ‘Macbeth’, ‘Gattaca’, ‘Stargate Universe’, ‘Avatar’, and ‘Suicide in the Trenches’ all have complimentary contexts when dealing with the human condition of my investigation, morality. In many of the texts the characters face a number of variables that influence their moral standing. Throughout this investigation I will be exploring how the context had bearing on this morality, what connections I can make between the characters morality and how a third party could be influenced by morality in the texts.

How does morality influence the perception of humanity in the texts by a philosophical or pragmatic third party?

A more blatant example of this can be found in Macbeth where it is stated that the natural order has been upset by Macbeth’s action of advancing himself to king. The same starkness isn’t found in other texts which makes Macbeth unique. But we must still post the question. How would a philosophical third party; if present such as in Macbeth, react to demonstrations of moral or immoral behaviour by human characters and organisations in the various texts? This opens the floodgates of philosophical thought; would they be disgusted or enlightened assuming they have a similar moral compass to us? Let’s assume this third party was to interpret morality in a similar way to humanity. Morality is a ‘human condition’ not an extraterrestrial or extra dimensional condition therefore my assumption is substantial when dealing with the issue of morality.

‘Macbeth’ stands out to me because in part it answers these questions. An all-embracing theme in Macbeth is that of a natural order, it clearly states that a noble was never to take the place of a king. Macbeth violated this prime directive therefore inflicting the wrath of the Universe upon Scotland during his rule. Lady Macbeth, Macbeth’s spouse, was driven to suicide and the fields were rendered infertile disallowing the cultivation of crops. This direct intervention if you will makes ‘Macbeth’ different as it’s the only text where a philosophical third party takes a direct interest in the plane of existence perceivable to us.

This only answers part of the focusing questions though, to be more of a pragmatist the second part of the question needs to be answered. In contrast to Macbeth where a theorized third party was involved, the actions of Jake Sully in ‘Avatar’ were directly judged by a third party who was existent in the setting, Neytiri te Tskaha Mo’at’ite. This is analogous of how Dr Nicholas Rush was being judged by Eli Wallace in ‘Stargate: Universe’ albeit in a different light. Just to give a bit of milieu, Jake Sully from ‘Avatar’ was judged harshly by Neytiri during the first half of the film. To quote her: “You are like a baby. Making noise, don’t know what to do.” This is because Jake represented the immoral forces of the Resource Development Administration during the first half of the film. The RDA plunders the natural resources of Pandora, the idyllic world ‘Avatar’ is set on. This is to the dismay of Neytiri who judges Jake harshly for condoning the actions undertaken by the RDA, this all changes though as Jake witnesses the RDA’s operations and sides with Neytiri as he gains her trust and respect. Eventually Jake leads the opposition against the RDA, a clear moral action. Justly, Neytiri being the third party in question judges Jake moral based on his resolve to oppose the RDA. To quote Neytiri again: “Spirit is all that matters.” This is at a later point in the movie where Jake has gained the trust of Neytiri.

A prominent character in the text ‘Stargate: Universe’ that I observed in my inquiry was Dr Nicholas Rush. Dr Rush is a unique character in that he never reveals his true intentions. As a master of subterfuge it can be difficult to ascertain his true objectives. This was certainly covered throughout the ‘Stargate’ episodes and made it difficult for the third party, Eli Wallace, to establish Dr Rush’s intent. The first episode of the series revealed a selfish side to Nicholas Rush; he activated the 9th Chevron Stargate address instead of dialling back to Earth, this forced everyone to evacuate through the Stargate to an unknown location which was revealed to be Destiny. Even though Eli helps Rush conduct this action he grows suspicious and ponders what Rush’s true intentions are. He wonders whether Rush is a moral force fighting to better humanity or whether Rush, like Machiavelli before him, is simply out to better himself. This culminates in an altercation between Rush and Eli after a man had sacrificed himself for the lives of everyone on board. Rush doesn’t express his gratitude for the sacrifice and continues with his work to Eli’s dismay. In Eli’s own words: “Don’t you even care.” Rush then responded with an authoritative: “Of course I care.” Rush then goes on to explain how he is working to save the lives of everyone on board the ship by repairing critical systems and that he simply doesn’t have time to express his feelings about anything. At this point Eli is convinced of Rush’s morality, that in fact he is indeed trying to safeguard the lives of everyone on the ship, to get them out of the quagmire he got them into.

Clearly a third party has been to subjected to a moral or immoral point of view in these three texts, each one containing supporting evidence that a third party has modified their perception of humanity represented by a particular character or has had a pre-disposed viewpoint of the human condition reinforced through moral or immoral actions. What is important to take note of is how the third parties respond to and change their perception of the characters based on their experiences with them. For example in Macbeth, the Universe, for lack of better understanding, responds to Macbeth’s transgressions and murder of king Duncan by making his rule extremely difficult. This is a theme in the text and is evidence that a third party is acting on a moral perception of a character within the text. Both ‘Avatar’ And ‘Stargate: Universe’ have terrestrial third parties but that’s where the differences with Macbeth end. Neytiri and Eli Wallace are similar in that they judge a character harshly as a third party but realise later on that their intentions are moral rather than immoral and change their perception of the characters’ human condition. Jake Sully changes his allegiances to fight for the moral good, and Dr Nicholas Rush explains to Eli that he is merely fighting for the greater good and values the lives of everyone on board the star ship Destiny.

What connections can I make between characters/organisations in the texts that demonstrate morality and/or immorality?

One of the most apparent connections I made was that of the link between the Resource Development Administration (RDA) and Gattaca Aerospace. The RDA is an interstellar corporation from the ‘Avatar’ universe with a multi-trillion dollar annual profit. Gattaca Aerospace re-emulates the same corporate prowess within the confines of the solar system. The similarities between these two companies are that they both demonstrate extreme immoral capability, although different in nature. Gattaca Aerospace is a discriminatory organisation that profits by employing only genetically exceptional people regardless of their intelligence or other capabilities. This organisation represents the worst of what could befall human society. In a different capacity the RDA represents the worst that could befall human industry, the imperialisation of native species and untamed environments. This reveals the human condition of morality when it is at its worst. Beyond face value, the actions of these two companies affirm the theories and works of one Niccolo Machiavelli, who stated in his work, ‘The Prince’, that all men are born evil and if given the chance to exploit, that chance will be taken by man.

To present a contrary argument on the human condition of morality lets re-examine Dr Nicholas Rush, (Stargate: Universe) and Jake Sully (Avatar). Both of these men were misjudged throughout the first acts of their respective texts. Rush was seen as selfish by those around him when he was really just trying to save lives and Jake Sully was judges a monotonous and destructive ‘Sky Person’ by the native Na’vi people of Pandora. This changed throughout the text as both characters expressed their true human condition, morality. It is this that makes these two characters alike, but in character they are actually very different. Nicholas Rush is a brilliant Machiavellian scientist who concentrates almost exclusively on his work whereas Jake Sully is a young man who endeavours to experience everything around him. These radically different characteristics mask their moral standing making it hard to judge them conclusively.

It was apparent that in many of the various texts connections could be drawn between different organisations and people. These connections were interrelated with the morality associated with each. To comment on the two companies I mentioned, they are unified by an immoral ambition which is merely an affirmation of Niccolo Machiavelli’s work ‘The Prince’ that all men are born evil and thus with immoral intentions. According to Machiavelli moral practices are merely a cover until an opportunity for power comes along, an opportunity taken by both Gattaca Aerospace and the RDA affirming immoral human condition. This is contrary to the honourable plight of Jake Sully and Dr Nicholas Rush who despite appearing immoral for a time eventually come to be known as powerful forces of morality.

Carried on in the next post...........
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Last edited by Spock; 12-05-2010 at 07:59 AM.
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Old 12-05-2010, 06:10 AM
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Ikran Makto
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What influence did the context have on the characters morality?

Perhaps the most memorable example of context influence is in ‘Stargate: Universe’. Military and civilian personnel alike become trapped billions of light years from home on the star ship Destiny. This presents the scientists on board with severe problems, particularly in the case of Nicholas Rush. Rush has to balance his feelings for the crew, his morality, with that of his duty to protect the ship from harm. Sacrifices need to be made. He is quite happy to see people on board undertake these sacrifices, or so it may seem, in reality this couldn’t be further from the truth. This is simply an example of what the context has done, it has forced Rush to forgo expressing his morality. I observed parallels between this character and the character of Jake Sully (Avatar) several times throughout this investigation and I have done so again.

Jake Sully from the beginning was determined to follow his orders, focused on serving the immoral incarnation of humanity that was the RDA local leadership on Pandora. This changed though as the ‘context’ changed around him. Jake woke up to the horrors being committed against the untouched environment on Pandora and the atrocities being forced up the indigenous population, known as the Na’vi. Much of this change in Jakes morality was because of Neytiri, who I highlighted extensively early on in this investigation. Jakes morality was analogous with Rush’s morality being challenged by the context around him, although in a very different setting with different variables.

To move onto a slightly different tack this context is similarly re-emulated in Siegfried Sassoon’s ‘Suicide in the Trenches.’ The main character in the war poem is driven to the immoral act of suicide simply because of the context and the immorality associated with a world war one setting. The stress and immorality of the war environment was too much for the young boy to handle, driving him to, and I quote: “put a bullet through his brain.” Another question I want to tackle here relating to this context is whether it was in fact immoral of the boy to commit suicide, frequently frowned upon in religious scripture is suicide. Which I might add is often morality 101 when you’re learning how to improve your human condition.

In all three texts here I saw how the context influenced morality. For Nicholas Rush he was forced to respond to more pressing matters on Destiny and put morality on the back foot for a while, so to speak. Jake Sully was enlightened by the context of Pandora and its indigenous inhabitants, it gave him something to fight for, something that made him moral. ‘Suicide in the Trenches’ isn’t as conclusive as the other two texts but one thing is certain, the immorality present in the context forced the young boy soldier to forgo his morality and abandon his own humanity. From this I can clearly state that the context implicated the human condition of various characters from the texts at various different times, forcing them to be someone they’re not such as Nicholas Rush, or someone they truly should be such as Jake Sully.

Conclusion

In summary it can evidently be seen that morality has a huge effect on the human condition of the characters present in each of my texts, each on having been effected in a different way, this explores the variability present in so many scenarios. I explored how a character is perceived by a third party and how important that is for the characters perceiving and being perceived, this point fitted ‘Macbeth’, ‘Avatar’ and ‘Stargate: Universe’ like a glove. There are also numerous connections between each text, every one variable in nature. I explored this in great depth when it came to ‘Avatar’ and ‘Stargate: Universe.’ For my final investigative point I measure the effect a context had on a character in the texts. It was found to be quite substantial, perhaps more than anything else. ‘Stargate: Universe’, ‘Avatar’ and ‘Suicide in the trenches’ were appropriate for this question. In the end this investigation uncovered the deepest implications the human condition of morality can have on the human psyche, how it is perceived, how it can be connected and how it is influenced by the very context.

Bibliography:
Macbeth (1993), Cambridge University Press

Avatar (2009), James Cameron, Jon Landau, Twentieth Century fox film Corporation

Stargate Universe (2009), Robert C. Cooper, Brad Wright, Andy Mikita

Suicide in the Trenches (1918), Siegfried Sassoon, Counter-attack and other poems

Gattaca (1997), Andrew Niccol, Columbia Pictures
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Old 12-05-2010, 07:27 AM
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Quite an interesting and a good read.

Few comments/suggestions:
------------------------------

You talked about moral and immoral actions but you did not define what constitutes a moral and immoral action precisely enough. You said:

Quote:
Let’s assume this third party was to interpret morality in a similar way to humanity.
Within "humanity" what is moral and immoral often differs among large groups. In regards to suicide, some individuals think its perfectly moral, others completely immoral (like certain religious scriptures as you said), and some depending on the circumstances.

In the suicide case you said that you would

Quote:
tackle... whether it was in fact immoral of the boy to commit suicide
You never do state why it was actually a moral or immoral action. You may want to complete that thought.

In the section about Eli interpreting Rush's intentions, Macbeth also states something with a similar motif to "not having time to express his feelings about anything." Upon hearing of the death of Lady Macbeth, Macbeth in contemplation proceeds to say "There would have been a time for such a word." You may want to include mention of that parallel circumstance also within that particular section.

Another thing to possibly include is that within "Macbeth", you could also consider Lady Macbeth to be a judging third party who was existent in the setting. She, like Neytiri, despises and admonishes the main character for being weak but leads him to perform "immoral" actions instead of "moral" actions.
-------------------------

Well written. Hope to read more from you in the future.

Last edited by Banefull; 12-05-2010 at 07:46 AM.
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Old 12-05-2010, 07:44 AM
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Ikran Makto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Banefull View Post
Quite an interesting and a good read.

Few comments:
------------------------------

You talked about moral and immoral actions but you did not define what constitutes a moral and immoral action precisely enough. You said:



Within "humanity" what is moral and immoral often differs among large groups. In regards to suicide, some individuals think its perfectly moral, others completely immoral (like certain religious scriptures as you said), and some depending on the circumstances.
Christian interpretations of morality. I should have stated that but I could always elaborate upon these ideas in the future.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Banefull View Post
You never do state why it was actually a moral or immoral action. You may want to complete that thought.
I'll admit that fallacy of thought, if I was to publish this work I would expand on many of my points.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Banefull View Post
In the section about Eli interpreting Rush's intentions, Macbeth also states something with a similar motif to "not having time to express his feelings about anything." Upon hearing of the death of Lady Macbeth, Macbeth in contemplation proceeds to say "There would have been a time for such a word." You may want to include mention of that parallel circumstance also within that particular section.

Another thing to possibly include is that within "Macbeth", you could also consider Lady Macbeth to be a judging third party who was existent in the setting. She, like Neytiri, despises the main character for being weak but instead leads him to immoral actions instead of moral actions.
-------------------------

Well written. Hope to read more from you in the future.
Mmmmh. Interesting expansion of thought.

Thank you for your comments anywway.
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