What if we could develop a new perspective on what is the right course of action?
These days, we hear a lot about ethics, morality, and integrity.
“Integrity is wholeness. When I am in integrity, I am whole.”
When we look at morals and ethics however, distinction remains unclear, as pointed out in this article of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Without going into the details of what which word might mean, I would like to explore morality a little deeper in this article.
What I find interesting about morality, is that it can be seen as part of an individual’s development – as happening in stages. Developmental psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg explored this question in his research, which gave birth to a model.
Basically, humans go through these different stages, as they gain awareness and maturity on what they ought to do (what is right or wrong, or, in other words, morality).
To understand the model in details, here is a simple explanation:
The stage 3 is referred as a post-conventional way of making decisions, which means that the course of action is not based on what society’s norms are, but more on what would be universally right (like Kant’s transcendental view on ethical course of action). Nietzsche, after analyzing and criticizing the morals of society came to talk about how the Uberman would develop its own way of making decisions. This being would transcend society’s norms and thus ethics, to make decisions based on his/her own Inner Voice (my terms). That might be seen as doing what feels right, instead of what is right, or what should be right. From a moral standpoint, it might even seem like it is wrong. What matters is that it is based on the individual’s subjective experience.
This notion of post-moral stage relates directly to integrity. According to the pioneering psychologist Carl Jung, the purpose of a human being is not to become perfect, it is to become whole. Thus, during one’s life, one searches (consciously or unconsciously) to feel fulfilled, and to become whole, to feel complete. When we enter an experience in our life, we are searching for a peace of our self, that we hope to find in that experience. In that sense, life can be seen as a giant treasure hunt, where we are looking for something that (spoiler alert), is actually within us. Circling back to Jim Dethmer’s definition of integrity, is to be “whole”, and “complete” . So when we want to get back in integrity, sometimes we might need to do things that might not seem morally right, given society’s standards, but that will allow us to feel more whole.
Interestingly, Kohlberg postulated the existence of a Seventh Stage of Morality, which he called Transcendental, or Cosmic. But he lacked empirical evidence to prove it and to build it compellingly in his model.
Would you like to know what that looks like?