1. Maurois Books are our guides to life.

1.     Introduction

«The book gives a person the opportunity to rise
above himself»

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 Andre Maurois


Books are our guides to life. They guide us, when we are at the
crossroads, support when we are ill, give advice, give us the experience
accumulated by different generations. However, not all books can be attributed
to the cornucopia of wisdom and morality. Many works either do not carry any
purposeful idea or are echoes of topicality, vulgarity and bad taste. This
quotation belongs to the English writer Oscar Wilde, who used it in the work
“Portrait of Dorian Gray,” describing certain aspects of human life
in terms of morality and ethics. The author asserts that the book cannot but carry a moral
message, but it can be written in such a way that the reader will not receive
the value guidelines contained therein. That is, the book carries a certain
symbolic conclusion, which is a reflection of the author’s vision of being. In
my opinion, this position is too categorical, although it also has the right to
exist. In this essay I will try to consider the quoted from various
philosophical points of view on the concept of morality, I will analyze some of
them by examples. The work will focus on the search for truth and, subsequently,
the formation of an opinion, so now, at the beginning of the work, I’m not
ready to take a particular position with respect to the topic being studied.


2.     Discussion

To begin with, I will reflect on the topic – can we consider the novel
“Portrait of Dorian Gray” as an “immoral” book? I believe
that the book cannot be attributed to either moral or immoral: truth, as
always, somewhere in the middle. Saying, Wilde, is also not the ultimate truth,
for Dorian Gray read the “poisonous” book that Sir Henry gave him,
and it was the book which began the fall. A badly written book can not exert
such influence. And the book that is immoral does not push crime. We can assume
that the novel of Wilde, as claimed by his contemporaries, was a book like
“poisonous”. It seems that the book is not to blame. Determines the
fate of man as he understands himself. This is an argument in defence of the
book. We can assume that the book is immoral if it causes envy of those who
work hard, but can not afford much of what Dorian has. In addition, the
bohemian life, which leads Dorian, looks attractive, and vice in the face of a
handsome young man does not cause disgust. Indeed, what kind of person you will
become, depends only on you. Another argument for the immorality of the book
may be that in it the author fired beauty, art from morality. But the author
himself showed how this affects a person: in the final of the work Dorian Gray
and his portrait die together because he was the personification of the hero’s
soul. So, can we consider the book immoral? As it turned out, there are
arguments both “for” and “against”. Acquaintance with the
work requires hard spiritual work on oneself. And this is its undoubted benefit
to anyone.


And what is the meaning of morals? Unwritten in official laws, the rules
are designed to streamline relations between people, forming moral
consciousness and moral beliefs of each individual and society as a whole. They
are rather even one of the most accessible ways of comprehending people by the
complex processes of social being. Moral norms and rules are formed and
developed during the historical formation of society, they are based on
historical, cultural, social, economic traditions. Consequently, moral norms
and moral consciousness depend on the type of society and the inherent
standards of naturalness. Morality unites people according to certain features of
the people. Therefore, each people has its own morals, it is honed in the
course of history individually, reflecting the history and destiny of its
people, which in practice tests the fruitfulness and efficiency of moral norms.
And let morality change with each new generation, the main thing is that they
are guided in their actions, aware of the accepted moral rules of each people.
Remembered about the past norms of morality, which is simple, for general
development is useful. Otherwise, it will be chaos.


In this paragraph, I want to speculate a bit about what motivates a
person to act morally, and what is immoral. Without a doubt, any question about
moral and immoral acts cannot be unambiguous, because everything in our world
is relative. For example, at one time the Inquisition was not considered evil,
but for Aboriginal people, cannibalism was the norm. But the question what
motivates a person to one or another of the actions in fuller can give a
specific answer. In my opinion, can be both external and internal factors. To
inner motivators include such concepts as conscience, some moral principles
formed by an individual or unspoken laws, sometimes character traits (that is,
in principle, I admit that some actions of a person can justify his temperament
or, conversely, a judicious nature), as well as a person’s feelings – fear,
hatred, envy, which, incidentally, can be caused by external factors. As
external factors can act as created by the state (enterprise, firm, etc.) laws,
rules, norms or actions and the reaction of others. Now for a specific example.
Mr N owns an enterprise and has the opportunity to make a big profit, but at
the same time violating the law and deceiving his clients and employees. On the
one hand, they will be guided by agreed for profit, easy earnings, in the end,
a desire to improve the business of the store, that is, internal factors that
induce it to commit an immoral act. On the other hand, he will be tormented by
conscience, fear of the law, fear of condemnation of his actions close – these
are also internal drivers, but urging not to commit this act. The internal
motivator is just this law, which he will have to transgress, condemnation of
his actions close, as well as a result of this act, the loss of the client base
and the increase in staff turnover. So, a person constantly faces a choice to
act immorally or so as not to be condemned, inside of him there is a struggle
for inner feelings and beliefs. Unfortunately, or fortunately, it is not
possible to answer this question, but this is our life: it all depends on what
choice you make. The person himself chooses what is beyond him for morality.



All philosophers treated the concept differently. The overwhelming
majority argued that morality is a certain spiritual and value norms of human
behaviour in a society established from the standpoint of good and evil.
(Aristotle, Plato, Kant, Locke, Hegel, etc.) (Rackham, 1926, 1098a), (Egunov, 2009, 332d), (Wood & Schneewind, 2002, pp.
9-21), (Locke, 1996, p.10), (Miller, 1989, p.111). Proceeding from the proposed
definition and the works of the above authors, it can be concluded that such
moral guidelines exist in society as a mass phenomenon and are present in the
consciousness of each individual. They say that a person is reflected in his
actions. They define it in society, they instil status and position, in this
connection, people try to conform to the moral framework and act in relation to
them. World religions provide us with their own particular interpretations of
morality, which millions adhere to, and all their teachings boil down to the
same thing: good and evil, of which choice must fall to the first. Based on such
arguments, books really cannot be called moral or immoral, because any writer
puts into the work of himself, his reasoning, attitudes to various aspects of life,
his values. However, for a number of reasons, the author may incorrectly state
his thoughts on paper, and in this connection, the reader will have an
incorrect idea about the basic message of the read.


At the same time, there are other views on moral values. Nietzsche spoke
of morality as the “greatness” of man in front of nature (Nietzsche,
1973, p.122). That is, this concept, in his opinion, is relative, and any
action of the person on the result turns out to be insincere. Schopenhauer was
also very interested in this. Society, in his opinion, not only does not
ennoble morals, but on the contrary: it is in society that selfishness becomes
anger, although human nature is inherently selfish, and natural drives acquire
a perverse form and are included in the number of immoral manifestations of the
human essence (Mann, 1948, § 66). Both philosophers come to the conclusion that morality often
contradicts man’s real desires, restricts him, deprives him of freedom and
openness. Thus, the author, investing part of his soul in any work, fills him
with sincere motives, which, in turn, can go far beyond the moral fetters
imposed by our social environment. In this case, the statement of Oscar Wilde
cannot be called correct, since any work depends on the author and his value
representations, and the role of morality in the written depends on him.


Let’s try to speculate on this topic a little more. Personally, I view
morality as a simulacrum. J. Baudrillard defined “simulacrum is a
pseudo-thing replacing” agonizing reality “with post-reality through
simulation.” (Banks & Carson & Nelson & Nicol, 2001, p.3). In a more simple
language, this is a representation of something that does not really exist. I
believe that there is simply no morality. This is a concept that determines the
norms of behaviour of people that are not themselves defined, such as norms
concerning human rights and law. This is a very abstract concept, the content
of which each person determines for himself. The norms of morality are very
different in different societies. For example, in the Christian religion there
is an established concept of cruelty, in it murder is unacceptable. Let’s look
at Islam, where the girl was baptized to the ground for treason to her husband,
bound her hands and stoned to death. For many people, such a ritual will seem
outrageous, but based on the laws of the Shariah, in which certain moral
principles are also prescribed, this action, on the contrary, clears people
from evil. People are vastly different in their views on life, something that
is common for someone, the other will be hostile. In this regard, I believe
that morality only creates an image of humanity, righteousness and
spirituality, in fact, each person designs for himself only known to him the
framework of moral behaviour. The conclusion from this can be that the morality
or immorality of a literary work is determined both by the reader and by the
author of the work, by its purpose, which he guided in the presentation of his
thoughts on paper. Therefore, in my opinion, the statement we are discussing
again is not entirely correct.


Many people believe that any erotic, and in particular erotic works, are
obscene and immoral. Recall the work of Nabokov “Lolita”, which is
considered one of the outstanding creations of the 20th century. To a large
number of readers and critics, this work was seen as immoral, as it contained
an erotic context and adultery. However, despite this “immorality”
and indignation caused by the society, this did not prevent the novel from entering
the list of 100 books of the century. And now let’s compare Lolita with the
recently published novel EL James “50 shades of Grey”, which does not
carry with it a single drop of content, except for a stupid unreasonable
primitive plot. The work made a huge sensation among readers, it became a
bestseller, many consider it a modern literary phenomenon. But why? Could the
erotic fantasies of graphomaniacs from  the USA stand on the same level as the
spiritual struggle and the inexorable desire to love and be loved, represented
in Nabokov’s work? The answer is simple: surely not. Simply at the moment, the
popularity of books falls, people live in other interests, the world is
progressing, changing. This leads to less selectivity in what we read, there is
no filtering, separation of good and bad, good and evil. People take the
majority of information as a fact, in connection with what, as the author
writes and what he writes, loses its value. And in this context, morality is
determined by public opinion, the development of social thought, which, in the
end, leads to a simulacrum, called “morality”. In this example, the
quality of writing the book by the author is not a determining position, and in
this connection, the statement of Oscar Wilde again appears incorrect.



3.     Conclusion

So, after studying a large layer of literature, based on personal
experience and the writings of various writers, we managed to look at the
phrase Oscar Wilde from completely different angles. Considering morality as a
good intention, the subconscious desire of a person to do good deeds and avoid
immoral behavior, one can argue that each person, by its very nature, strives
for a “correct”, conforming to established principles and principles
of behavior, and therefore, as a writer, he tries to convey moral message to
their audience. To prevent him in this can only lack of talent or simply
unsuccessfully chosen a way of communication with the reader. If you look at
morality, as on norms imposed by a person who goes against his nature or is an
insincere manifestation of spiritual integrity, then the author can put into
his work his real, often immoral, promises that will lead to immorality of the
book itself, after which his ability to convey information to the reader fades
into the background and the main criterion in assessing the product by the
audience will be the conformity of public values ??to the foundations proposed
in the creation itself. Also, morality can be considered as a simulacrum, which
manifests itself in a fake reality, the creation of a non-existent in reality
mode of action. Here, for the basis of writing the book, the author’s goal and
the reader’s values ??are taken, which together determine the quality of the
work itself, which implies the existence in the evaluation of the book of such
criteria as morality or immorality. Most of the arguments did not confirm his
words about the impossibility of ranking books on moral and immoral, which in
essence convinced me of this. However, one can not ignore the fact that human
thoughts do not lend themselves to scientific research, and the author can not
analyze the vision of the world by the author of the quotation to the smallest
detail, which, in essence, leaves us still plenty of room for reflection on the
proposed topic.











List of references


Banks, J. & Carson, J. & Nelson, B. & Nicol, D. (2001). Discrete-Event System Simulation.
Prentice Hall. p. 3


Egunov, A. (2009). Plato, Republic:
Justice as a tribute to every person 332d. Retrieved


Locke, J. (1996). Some Thoughts
Concerning Education and of the Conduct of the Understanding. Eds. Ruth, W.,
Tarcov, G., Tarcov, N. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co., p.10

Mann, T. (1948). Schopenhauer, A. The World as Will and
Representation. Vol. 1, § 66.

Miller, V. (1989). Science of Logic by Hegel G. Atlantic
Highlands, NJ: Humanities, p.111

Nietzsche, F. (1973). Beyond Good and Evil. London: Penguin Books, p.122


Rackham, H. (1926). Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Book I. Chapters 3,4,5,6,7. 1098a

Wood, A.W. & Schneewind, J. B. & Baron, M. & Kagan,
S. (2002). Groundwork for the Metaphysics
of Morals. Immanuel Kant. Yale University Press New
Haven and London, pp. 9-21