We always seem to find ourselves in collective predicaments, due to innovation or creativity, and we always seem to get a call for moral restraint as an answer to these problems. Problems we find with our new found freedoms and capabilities. Moral pleas for retraction, censorship, forgetfulness, an intentional return to a past: before porn, the internet, sexual freedom, technology, TV, cars … crop cultivation, the wheel.
This is essentially a religious response to our capacity to create, experiment, and innovate, and it can never work, because it is just not up to the task of addressing these things, which are so much more alive than it is. In the modern world, politics has largely taken on the mantle of religion.
Art and science are essentially without morality, for intelligence and creativity are basically amoral. That is why political art is generally pretty crap, and scientific problems and dilemmas (such as plastics pollution) cannot be solved by lifestyle choices or moral sentiment. The preachers will exhort us, but we know that it will be creativity and insight that solves the problems, not getting X number of people to refrain from doing something problematic. The answer needs to be on the same level as the problem, and numbers of people agreeing on something doesn’t change that. Creativity, insight and effectiveness are not democratic.
The impulses behind art and science are powers, and they defy control, while morality is predicated upon control and prohibition. It’s like asking people to have sex without risk, overwhelming lust, or loss of control. It just isn’t going to happen. You can get a peripheral compromise by ignoring the centre of the issue, but the situation itself is fundamental.
We have ethical higher needs, but these will not come into play on demand, or through a merely conscious choice. We are deeper and more troublesome animals than that.
The deepest human will and desire drives us to freedom and fulfilment, and recognises these powers. It does not let us retreat from our own nature without exacting a great price. The daemon must out.