The essence of morality: concept, structure, functions and origin

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The essence of morality: concept, structure, functions and origin
The essence of morality: concept, structure, functions and origin

The best person is a highly moral person. Act morally, and everything else will follow. Act like a normal person.

Inspirational words, but not specific. How to comprehend this high morality? And if "the rest" is not applied? And who is "normal"? We do not receive direct answers, which means that we will have to look deeper into the "cranial box" of today's patient. Let's put on gloves, warm up and proceed to the "autopsy".

The concept of morality

confrontation between good and evil

Moral refers to our actions as good or bad. Moreover, this assessment proceeds from the ideas accepted by society. In essence, morality is a kind of guide to how to do and what not to do. It can be both universal and accepted in a particular society or by an individual.


Ethics is a branch of philosophy that studies the essence and basic morality. The difference from morality is very ephemeral.It lies in the fact that the first considers something practical, prescribes a certain model of behavior in society. The second explains the principles, the philosophical aspects of morality and works with the theoretical part, as if more reasoning than prescribing.

Moral in society

moral balance

Of course, at different times and in different communities there has existed and exists its own essence of rights and morality. If now a person enters the house of his ill-wishers with an ax at the ready and takes out all the valuable things from there, breaking a couple of skulls along the way, he will go to jail, and society will at least hate him. But if he had done the same during the Viking times, he would have become famous as a brave man. The example is very rough, but very descriptive.

Such norms often depend on the position of the state, and some moral principles are reinforced artificially. The same Viking state existed due to robberies and raids, which means that such behavior was encouraged. Or a more pressing example: the modern state. As soon as unrest or even hostilities begin, the state apparatus artificially enhances the feeling of patriotism, appealing to a sense of duty, brought up from childhood. But the peculiarity of this debt is that the more you give, the more you owe. It's called moral duty.

Moral is not about how we should make ourselves happy, but about how we should become worthy of happiness.

/Immanuel Kant/

Or let's take the institution of the family for a complete understanding. Notthe secret is that men are polygamous by nature, and their main goal is the maximum possible continuation of offspring. In other words, the instinct to impregnate as many females as possible. The moral standards of most countries condemn this. Thus, the functioning of the institution of the family is ensured. Why it is needed and why it is done is a very voluminous question that deserves separate consideration. We'll talk about it another time. Now let's just mentally link together the concept and essence of morality.


moral choice

The moral side of morality is very heterogeneous and is often interpreted ambiguously. We single out those that best explain the essence of morality and morality. You can choose three main elements, the interpretation of which differs slightly:

  1. Moral consciousness.
  2. Moral activities.
  3. Moral relations.

Moral consciousness considers the subjective side of certain actions. Reflects the life and beliefs of people. Includes values, norms and ideals. This is a value judgment that refers specifically to the end result, and not to the causes. In other words, only the morality of an act or phenomenon is evaluated from the point of view of moral convictions, and not its causal relationship. Evaluation comes from the height of the concepts of "good and evil" within the framework of morality.

Let's learn to think well - this is the basic principle of morality.

/Blaise Pascal/

Moral activity - any human activity that is evaluated within the framework ofexisting morality. The correctness of the act is considered in conjunction with intentions, process and influence on third-party things. That is, if moral consciousness determined the morality of beliefs and ideals, then moral activity determines the moral level of the process of their "implementation".

Moral relations are any relationships between people that are evaluated in terms of moral "correctness". In other words, it denotes the "proper" and "undesirable" behavior of one person during communication with another. It is the fact of the influence of interaction that is considered, and not just ideals or the process as a whole.

A person's morality is visible in his attitude to the word.

/Leo Tolstoy/

Conflict of morality and philosophy

Within the framework of morality, a conflict arises with certain types of philosophy, because, since such an essence and structure of morality evaluates the phenomenon independently, it means that freedom of moral choice is assumed. At the same time, some philosophical schools deny the freedom of choice in part, recognizing the fatalism of fate (Buddhism), or completely - natural fatalism (Taoism). Hence the difficulty in interpreting morality when it concerns the whole world and history.

Classification of morals

For a deeper understanding, you need to look at morality in the context. It carries some concepts that are close in meaning, which, however, can sometimes be misunderstood. Consider the closest to today's topic:

  1. Individual morality.
  2. Public morality.
  3. Official morality.
  4. Individual morality.

Individual morality is the concepts inherent in the person himself (what I think is right, how I was brought up, whom I condemn and whom I admire). These are more or less stable beliefs of an individual.

Public morality is the right actions and beliefs regarding the opinion of the majority. How "decent" people do it, how it is customary to do it, and how others should live.

Official morality is similar to public morality in that it is accepted by the majority. This is what the school brings up in a person, and what it is customary to say to officials. In other words, this is what any official institutions are trying to instill in a person, with the aim of educating the "correct" behavior. This is the essence of professional morality.

Individual morality is a person's assessment of himself. You can do this by trying on public, individual or any morality and concepts. However, the conclusions will always remain purely personal, made by a specific person, and therefore unique in their own way.


control of society

Moral, as we already understood from the description above, is one of the most important cogs in the system of society. Its functions are comprehensive and cover every area of ​​life, so describing them separately is a long task. However, we can draw an approximate picture if we classify these very functions. We will speak mainly on the example of public morality. We single out the followingfeatures:

  • Estimated.
  • Regulatory.
  • Controlling.
  • Educational.

Evaluative morality considers certain actions from the point of view of concepts of morality. Evaluation can come from public morality or from personal. For example, you see someone stealing a TV from a store. You immediately think: "Oh, what a scoundrel! And he is not ashamed to steal. A crook!" And then the thought comes to you: "Although, maybe his family is starving, but these small-time businessmen will still not decrease." Here, evaluative morality worked for you, and first public, and then personal.

The more random our morality, the more necessary it is to take care of legality.

/Friedrich Schiller/

Regulatory morality establishes the rules and norms of behavior, to which the evaluative one is applied. The reins of such morality can be led both by a separate group of persons, and by the natural development or degradation of society. This happens alternately, and often the potential direction of morality is traced in advance. For example, when a country creates artificial "enemies" around itself, this primarily indicates an internal social split, and such actions serve to unite people. Certain individuals create "enemies", and then society naturally rallies in the face of a "common disaster".

Controlling morality is engaged in the fact that it "monitors" the fulfillment of norms by its regulatory counterpart. Control, as a rule, proceeds from the concepts of morality adoptedpublic majority. For example, you see how a man follows his polygamous nature with might and main, breaking the hearts of lovely ladies. You will think: "Oh, good guy, he takes everything from life!" Public opinion will immediately slap you on the shoulder: "Hey, you must have mixed something up. This is terrible behavior. He is a womanizer and a scoundrel. His actions are highly condemnable." And you're like, "Oh, yeah…". This is where the controlling function of morality comes into play.

Moralization is the creativity of mediocre people.

/Mikhail Prishvin/

So that such an isolated opinion does not appear in you, and the majority do not have to spit on you once again, there is educational morality. She is responsible for shaping your worldview. If eighth-grader Petya chases girls instead of studying, then an educational conversation will be held with his parents. "Well, this is nature, you can't run away from it," the parent will say. This is where parenting begins. They will be explained that if they do not want other people who are completely unfamiliar with you to think badly of them, then they must rein in their tomboy.

The origin and evolution of morality

The evolution of morality

The roots of morality go back to the most distant times of the existence of mankind. We cannot reliably track them, just as we are not able to state whether morality was created artificially or laid down in the mind from the very beginning. However, we have the opportunity to consider the origin and essence of morality by looking at the evolution of morality. Traditionally, to the question of the development of moralitythree approaches apply:

  1. Religious.
  2. Naturalistic.
  3. Social.

Religious Approach

moral opposition

The religious approach bases morality on the laws given by some God or gods. This representation is the oldest present. Indeed, people who lived long before us were inclined to explain incomprehensible things by divine intervention. And since people kneel before the deities, then the appearance of dogmas is only a matter of time. These rules were not transmitted directly, but through a prophet who had some contact with the "upper world".

Since these dogmas were first introduced in a primitive society, the decrees could not abound in complexity. They often called for humility and peacefulness in order to reduce the fear, and hence the aggression, of the oppressed peoples. After all, if we look at history, then most religions arose precisely from those who suffer. They had a "fire of revolution" burning in their souls, which needed to be controlled, while at the same time rallying people.

For example, the ten commandments in Christianity. Many of them are well known. If we look at them, we will not see any difficulties in understanding. Everything ingenious is simple. The same is true for many religions. There are no rules in the style: "Just do it so that people don't spit on you." This would be incomprehensible, and everyone would interpret it in their own way. No, these are direct instructions in an imperative tone. "Dont kill". "Don't steal." "Don't believe in other gods."Everything is concise, and there can be no double meaning.

Naturalistic approach

Question illustration

He bases morality on the laws of nature and evolution. This means that morality is inherent in us from the very beginning (as an instinct) and in the course of time it simply changes (evolves). One of the arguments in favor of this approach is the morality of animals. They, as we know, do not have their own civilization, which means that they hardly believe in gods either.

Everywhere cases of manifestation of such qualities as: care for the weak, cooperation, mutual assistance. Most often found in pack or gregarious animals. Of course, we are not talking about the fact that the wolf did not eat the deer out of pity. This is from the category of fantasy. But, if we take the same wolves, then they have an unusually developed sense of their team, their pack. Why do they help each other? Of course, we will answer that those who did not help each other died out. The principle of survival. But isn't this the main law of evolution? Everything that is weak perishes, everything that is strong develops.

Transferring this to people, we see the theory that morality is a tool for survival, given by nature from the very beginning. She only "wakes up" when needed. For the most part, representatives of the natural sciences or related to them are on the side of this theory. Philosophers put reason at the core, and therefore cannot accept such an approach to morality.

Social Approach

weighing good and bad

The social approach shows the morality of society. It develops and changes, adjusting to his needs. I.emorality did not come from the gods and was not originally laid down, but only artificially created by public institutions. Obviously, morality was invented as a tool for regulating relationships.

This approach opens up space for controversy. After all, no one will argue with old Moses, who could communicate with God face to face, just as no one will go against the centuries-old wisdom of nature. This means that morality is perceived as something given and immutable. But when we take a social approach, we become open to disagreement.


good and bad

We have considered the essence, structure and functions of morality as much as possible within the framework of a small article. This topic is actually very interesting and concerns each of us. But, as a consequence of its fascination, it is very extensive, and reasoning about it has been put forward by a huge number of great minds. Therefore, for a more complete study, you will have to wade through the many interweaving of other people's thoughts and arguments. But it's worth it.

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