Now listening: Pavement, "Watery Domestic"
'Specially : Track 2, 'Frontwards'
(It makes me want to listen to the Built To Spill song, 'Carry the Zero', and the Tommy James & the Shondelles version of 'Crimson and Clover,' and Red Stars Theory's 'Think Piece,' The Places' 'Mouth to Mouth,' AND Interpol doing 'Hands Away.' I love it when all that happens.)
Hegel, in his early theological writings says:
" Since laws are unifications of opposites in a CONCEPT, which
thus leaves them as opposites while it exists itself in opposition
to reality, it follows that the concept expresses an OUGHT. If the
concept is treated in accordance with its form, not its content,
i.e., if it is treated as a concept made and grasped by men, the
command is moral. If we look soley at the content, as the specific
unification of specific opposites, and if therefore the "ought" [or
"Thou shalt"] does not arise from the property of the concept but
is asserted by an external power, the command is civil. Since in
the latter case the unification of opposites is not achieved by
thinking, is not subjective, civil laws delimit the opposition
between several living beings, while purely moral laws fix limits
to opposition in one living being. Thus the former restrict the
opposition of one living being to others, the latter the opposition
of one side, one power, of the living being to other sides, other
powers, of that same living being. "
Is this a real, useful division of labor, civil laws (to govern two or more people) and moral laws (to govern one person alone/in her aloneness)? First off, let's forget about the obnoxiously distracting switching of former/latter that he does towards the end, and also the whole preamble (the AWESOME! one) about unifications of opposites that leave the original oppositions intact while themselves (the unifications, as concepts) existing over and against reality. These muddle.
What I mean by useful : The distinction between regulating living beings in relation to one another, and regulating the inconstant soul of an individual _being_ alive. Civil laws have no ground, I would think, from which to attempt the regulation of someone just sitting in a chair. How she gets to the chair, what she's neglecting in order to stay sitting there, and anything she does from the chair -- these are subject to civil legislation, right? But what one does by not 'doing' isn't. Which is why we need morals, to . . . wait, that sounds wrong. Morals guide interpersonal relations; that's actually their primary meaning. Could you argue they do so only secondarily, and are primarily concerned with putting a person's inner turmoil into right relation such that she can 'behave' morally, her being morally-constituted a prerequisite? Eh, sure. I'm truncating the passage (the rest just isn't as pretty), but I think H. was presenting a special sphere of morality, not the entirety of its influence.
But it still sounds like Hegel is here articulating the argument that often serves as the basis for proponents of the 'no morality but through religion' position. Their assumption seems to be that there are moments when we are not in relation, not in communion with other human instances of being. And that we are either utterly alone in those moments, in which case our basic constitution is untethered by anything at all; or we are in Communion (sorry, sometimes the catholicism just comes) with a religious authority/companion/sensation, in which case our basic constitution is (insofar as we commune) regulated. And regulation is the only guarantee of the good (so continues this assumption).
Much of the moral philosophy I'm familiar with at the moment is critical of the idea that there is anything but an always-already relational self. There is no one just sitting in her chair; there is no need to regulate purely internal oppositions, because the internal is always impure. If by 'pure' you meant alone.
This is where I come into sympathy with the religious. I don't buy the wholly relational self of certain modern schools. I can't get over a certain sense of solitude, which is inches away, really, from admitting to the concept of soul. You can bring up your various continental philosophies as alternatives, but I've never found them all that altern from faiths; in deployment, possibly, but not in structure.
But it's pretty late, and I'm pretty tired. And I just ran across the quote in an old email, and realized I hadn't thought about it in a while. So I wrote some things down.
Actually, mostly I just like the lyrics from 'Frontwards' that I'm using as a post title. The rest is just filler.