We need to bring honour back (Oct 12, 2023)
We need to bring honour backOver lunch recently a fellow writer uttered a word that rather took me by surprise. My companion described the trend of people making private digital communications public — such as Kanye West’s recent leaking of text messages from his personal trainer, or a Vox journalist’s decision to publish Twitter messages from the former crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried — as plain “dishonourable”.To get more news about HONOUR COUDS, you can visit higraduation.com official website.The idea that our behaviour should be guided not solely by respect for the law, nor even by a certain moral code, but by a sense of honour is an unfashionable one. Google’s Ngram viewer, which tracks the frequency with which words and phrases are used in books from 800 onwards, shows a sharp decline in the use of the words “honour”, “honourable” and “dishonourable” from the early 9th century to the present day. Usage of all three words has fallen by about 90 per cent over the period.
When members of the British parliament sling insults at the “honourable” members sitting across the chamber from them — or indeed at their own side — we are not, one assumes, expected to take this descriptor seriously.Yet while it might be an antiquated notion, if these members of parliament did have a sense that they should behave with honour, we would have much better politicians, who were more concerned with telling the truth and doing the right thing even when they thought they could get away with the opposite.’Twas not ever thus. At the time William Shakespeare was writing, some 400 years ago, having a sense of honour was considered key to living a good and respectable life. “Mine honour is my life; both grow in one: Take honour from me, and my life is done,” says Thomas Mowbray, the Duke of Norfolk, in Richard II.But honour has suffered quite a fall from grace since then. Part of the reason is its close association with class hierarchies — the practice of duelling, for instance, was deeply embedded in the aristocratic culture of honour. Another is the horrific practice of so-called “honour killings”, in which someone who is thought to have brought “dishonour” to their family — typically a woman — is killed, often by their own relatives.“Honour is associated with these old-fashioned class and aristocratic systems . . . and also with violence,” says Kwame Anthony Appiah, professor of philosophy and law at New York University and author of The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen. But blaming such things on the concept of honour itself is to “throw the baby out with the bath water”, he tells me.Instead, we should think of honour as a way of making sure we are behaving in a way that is worthy of respect, rather than as a value system in itself. “The psychology of honour attaches itself to all sorts of values, and sometimes those values are good, and sometimes they’re not,” Appiah says. But on the whole, “when you have a culture where people want to do the right thing because it’s worthy of respect, people will behave better”.Appiah argues that honour codes do not always reflect the moral codes of the society in which they are operating: honour should be thought of as another, separate system for regulating behaviour that can actually be at odds with the dominant moral code. Honour killings might occur in some Muslim communities, for instance, but they are condemned in Islam, just as duelling was condemned by the Church.
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