21st century morality in historical figures...

notgivenaway

Ad Honorem
Jun 2015
5,775
UK
It really annoys me how people use our moral standards to judge past leaders or people.

Like Lincoln was a racist by OUR standards. But then he was pretty progressive by HIS society's standards. He wanted to abolish slavery, give blacks the right to vote, and that blacks should have some rights under the Constitution, even if whites held the most rights. Most white people, everywhere, thought that whites were superior to all non-whites at that time.

Or King Shaka of Zulu, how he brutally killed his subjects after his mother died. Well by our standards, that's wrong. But then the Zulu king (even kings in Europe at that time) had absolute power. The French about 40 years before Shaka died had mass purges, why was it right for them and savage for Shaka (because he was black/African)?

Or hanging, drawing and quartering. Even King Edward Longshanks, who first used it in an extended way, thought it was grotesque, but then as high treason against the King was arguably worse than murder, examples had to be made. Note they didn't have our knowledge of psychology in fighting crime, so couldn't focus on rehabilitation like we do.

I'm not a professional historian, but then it annoys me when people do this, since it's about distorting the truth. i'm a social sciences student, and in any science or academic pursuit there has to be truth and clarity. people may see that as naive, i don't give an f, it's about integrity really.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,634
Mortality was NOT suddenly invented in the 21st century.

A lot of this stuff was objected to at the time. yeah sure a very small minority, but look around now, generally speaking it's a very small minority that complains about stuff morally.

looking around the world I do not see much evidence of any great leap of Moral Progress.

I think the problem with the OP is thinking there has been a huge moral change.
 
Mar 2016
1,222
Australia
It's definitely a little bit pointless. Like, no matter what your opinion is of the historical figure, the facts are the facts, and they still did what they did, regardless of whether you condemn it or not. I also dislike - and this is more of a recent trend - condemning historical figures entirely and dismissing any of their good points solely because they also did some unrelated bad things.
 

notgivenaway

Ad Honorem
Jun 2015
5,775
UK
Mortality was NOT suddenly invented in the 21st century.

A lot of this stuff was objected to at the time. yeah sure a very small minority, but look around now, generally speaking it's a very small minority that complains about stuff morally.

looking around the world I do not see much evidence of any great leap of Moral Progress.

I think the problem with the OP is thinking there has been a huge moral change.
Are you from the USA? Did you see a public slave whipping today?
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,634
Are you from the USA? Did you see a public slave whipping today?
how is that relevant? look at the streets of america. the working poor. they are simply cheaper than slaves.


cultural norms and practices shift around.


the more things change the more things stay the same.


popped are still people. good. bad indifferent.
 

notgivenaway

Ad Honorem
Jun 2015
5,775
UK
how is that relevant? look at the streets of america. the working poor. they are simply cheaper than slaves.


cultural norms and practices shift around.


the more things change the more things stay the same.


popped are still people. good. bad indifferent.
human nature may never change, but it's wrong to say that morals never change. to say it has is pretty preposterous.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,634
human nature may never change, but it's wrong to say that morals never change. to say it has is pretty preposterous.

not saying that saying moral changes are generally massively overstated. morals don't change very much, cultural norms however vary a lot.
 
Mar 2016
1,222
Australia
not saying that saying moral changes are generally massively overstated. morals don't change very much, cultural norms however vary a lot.
So you believe that if slavery, public executions and widespread religious persecutions suddenly reappeared now that people wouldn't be too bothered?
 

paranoid marvin

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,359
uk
Morals DO change; sometimes for the better, sometimes not.
Who knows how our descendants will judge us; maybe as savages who ate the flesh of their fellow animals on this planet? Maybe as deluded fools for believing in an afterlife? Maybe as sinners who stopped believing in god? Who knows?

People tend to judge others by their own standards, so it logically follows that they would also judge others - past and present -moral standards by their own.