Kohlberg

Posted: 06/06/2016 in Freedom, ONE planet
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Continuing in this vein of trying to learn from feminism to unlearn I listened to this youtube clip about Carol Gilligan’s approach:-

Carol Gilligan

I stopped it part way through. It seemed that she was basing her ethics of care as a rebuttal or contrast to that of Kohlberg. If she is rebuking Kohlberg it seems I should also consider him, and then make a tri-fold comparison.

From wiki

From pre-conventional to post-conventional:-

Level 1 (Pre-Conventional)
1. Obedience and punishment orientation
(How can I avoid punishment?)
2. Self-interest orientation
(What’s in it for me?)
(Paying for a benefit)

Level 2 (Conventional)
3. Interpersonal accord and conformity
(Social norms)
(The good boy/girl attitude)
4. Authority and social-order maintaining orientation
(Law and order morality)

Level 3 (Post-Conventional)
5. Social contract orientation
6. Universal ethical principles
(Principled conscience)

Wiki claimed that Kohlberg was based loosely on Piaget, and Carol suggests that it is a male moral.

Now sila is so important to me as a Buddhist – to me. Early in my life 23 I hit bottom, and broke the mould of conditioning. But in some ways my adulthood was wasted because the hitting bottom did not bring with it a moral integrity – and I use the Buddhist word sila to denote this. In fact I can remember significant arguments with someone who put forward reason and morality, and I rejected this because so many actions in society were not moral yet based on supposed moral justification – moral excuse-making. I countered with there being a genuine heart of morality – sila – that just existed. I used the term soul to describe this – the soul of the creative not in any way associated with the transmigrating soul that Hindus (and some Buddhist interpretations) describe – reincarnation. Unfortunately that heart initially was not so strong in me. I developed alcoholism that cannot possibly be moral, and when that stopped I still did not focus on creating a moral core. Once I retired it became the first priority, and apart from zen is top priority now.

What has to be understood about this sila is that it is not derived from reason. It is a moral core that drives action. A course of action is not decided upon based on an internal rational debate, it is simply a course of action that is as a response to the stimuli. I remember when I first started teaching. The school had poor discipline, and often I was in situations where reactions were immediate. I determined at the time that at my core I was a teacher, and that if I was ever called upon to justify actions I was able to do that – as a corollary, as an afterthought and not as an action’s prerequisite. Only later was I forced to rationalise beforehand because the administration were trying to use my actions against me for unprofessional reasons.

When Jane Fonda and others talk of being – “filling-up with being” – they don’t then say that this being developed rationally they just filled up. Rational explanations might follow on the lecture circuit or some other such academic arena, but being itself is not subject to reasoned criteria. It just “be”.

When present sila just “be”. When there is no self, there is sila; it is part of the nature of zen.

In retrospect I feel I did not have a moral background in childhood, and when I consider my behaviour before hitting bottom I regret that lack of sila. Once hitting bottom that awakening brought with it a certain amount of sila, primarily because awakening brought with it a deep respect for life. As trust in anatta develops then sila grows as sila is an integral part of life – of zen.

So how does this fit in with Kohlberg? Not well!! It seems to me that Kohlberg is fitting in with a Piagetian model. The learning stages of Piaget develop, and they fit in with the learning model that is at the root of our education process. As reason is so integral to that education process vis-à-vis “Church of Reason”, it is difficult to question whether Piaget’s model describes natural development or simply is a learning model that describes development stages within our society and education system. At the mature stages in my model reason drops away, and is relegated back to its appropriate position amongst the human tools of thought. Whether zen can arise during childhood is difficult to know, I suspect it could but it would not be wise for it to do so considering the adversity that comes with zen. Our education system is intractable, such zen would be repressed.

Kohlberg’s model fits in with Piaget in that it is a model based on the development of reason. Kohlberg takes that development of reason and purports morality as a consequence. It is not my purpose here to analyse Kohlberg, and I have not studied what he has written. If we observe people in society we can see no connection between reason and morality. Those in academia, with the highest development of reasoning capacities, do not have the highest moral framework. Institutionally I would have to argue such morality would lie in our religious institutions although that general rule has many many exceptions. Kohlberg’s model is based on the premise that morality comes from rational justification, and whilst it might well do for those who are restricted to the reasoned stages of development it is not true of the mature stages of development. It would however be acceptable to say that within our education process that is how morality would develop – with reason and justification. But there has to be other factors in the development of morality. It is not a consequence of being rational to develop morality, but under Kohlberg’s model reason can be used to develop morality. But what if there were no desire for morality, then why would morality develop, why would reason be applied to develop the morality. With zen that desire for morality is natural it just happens, sila just happens.

My purpose in analysing Kohlberg is to examine gender bias. There is no doubt in my mind that there is some bias in Kohlberg and that bias comes from the education system. It is a corollary of our education system that morality would be seen as a consequence of reason because of the emphasis on reason in that system. How sexist – male-oriented – is this aspect of the education system?

In my own case I do not relate to the Kohlberg model at all. My reason was well developed by the education system but I feel I only had limited correlated morality. Using Jane’s term “manhood” I see no connected morality. Manhood is an egocentric thing, and is about one man being better than another. But that comparison is very rarely about morality. Male ego is so much more about prowess, I can do this better than you, I am a better sexual artist than you, I can “pull” more women, I am better at sports, and intellectually I can get more exams – not be more moral.

Is this morality higher males aspire to? I would argue that higher males would be at the mature stages of my development model. When you consider higher-placed males of our society such as CEO’s or political leaders they are still competing, still trying to do better, more money, greater power etc. Neither CEO’s nor politicians can be appropriately described as moral, they are rational people who use their intellects for profit only – an immoral practise.

Ascribing this moral development model as male is an incorrect assumption. It is a model that was proposed within a patriarchal system but to then ascribe it as male is not appropriate. Mature males would develop sila but they would also develop compassion – compassion also being part of zen.

However when you look at my description of manhood it is quite clear that the 1% are still stuck in that stage – they have not matured. 1%-system and patriarchy are intertwineable, the attributes of manhood are the attributes of the 1%. THAT is definite. However women who are successful within the 1%-system, within this patriarchy, do not demonstrate different behaviour. This of course is a catch-22 situation. These women could never be “successful” whilst being compassionate but then that is also true of men. But equally moral women or men could not be “successful” as profit-making requires an immoral mindset.

It appears that Carol Gilligan is establishing her model of women as a counter to Kohlberg’s model of men. In my view the Kohlberg model is not an appropriate description of manhood – nor of mature men or women, but Carol’s model can be considered as a view of women by women – just not as a counter to a flawed model, Kohlberg’s moral development.

Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

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Comments
  1. zandtao says:

    The spiritual world is dominated by men. In the West many such men have leanings to the East, and in the East spirituality is deeply intertwined with patriarchy. It would be easy to suggest that awakening does not remove chauvinist conditioning because of the patriarchy in spirituality. It would be up to mature women to decide whether they considered awakening (to the mature stage) did in fact bring with it a desire to remove patriarchal conditioning in men..

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