Philosophy Club on Morality


(photo and graphic by Samory Senh)

Samory Senh

On March 6th, 2017, the Philosophy Club dwelled into a subject that seemed to prod all the members in that session.

The topic was on morality; a rather broad yet legitimized subject.

After bickering back and forth about what Morality truly was, it came down to two notions. The first notion being that morality is a concept adopted and adapted by mankind and assumably various other creatures. The second notion was that morality is indigenous, a naturally developed and institutionalized concept.

Both notions would agree that morality is in fact, a set of man-made principles that allows us to distinguish right from wrong, and ultimately strive for all that is good.

Throughout history, societies have attempted to justify their actions with the belief that their intentions are for the good of everyone. This statement was emphasized when one student brought up colonization.

The club had begun to review the period of time when Europe (England in particular) decided to colonize Africa. A summary of Europe’s justification for their “imperialistic” actions is a poem written by Rudyard Kipling in 1899 titled, The White Man’s Burden.

“Take up the White Man’s burden—

Send forth the best ye breed—

Go send your sons to exile

To serve your captives’ need

To wait in heavy harness

On fluttered folk and wild—

Your new-caught, sullen peoples,

Half devil and half child

Take up the White Man’s burden

In patience to abide

To veil the threat of terror

And check the show of pride;

By open speech and simple

An hundred times made plain

To seek another’s profit

And work another’s gain

Take up the White Man’s burden—

And reap his old reward:

The blame of those ye better

The hate of those ye guard—

The cry of hosts ye humour

(Ah slowly) to the light:

“Why brought ye us from bondage,

“Our loved Egyptian night?”

Take up the White Man’s burden-

Have done with childish days-

The lightly proffered laurel,

The easy, ungrudged praise.

Comes now, to search your manhood

Through all the thankless years,

Cold-edged with dear-bought wisdom,

The judgment of your peers!”

All in all, Africans—in particular, “people of color”—were incapable of living without European authority.

This poem proved to be the matchmaker in the discussion, practically putting a halt to the uneasy dispute, leaving the entirety of the group at a stalemate with numerous questions at hand.

A perplexing moment for all who participated in the event.

If you would like to participate in such a tense dispute, join Philosophy club this coming Thursday for another two-hour discussion in Humanities, room 132, from 3:30 to 5 pm!