The Moral Landscape: Part 1 – The Three Primary Virtues

[Photo source:]

By Edgar Lores


The moral landscape is a wasteland. Whether in the cities or in the country, there are no green trees of rectitude, no flowering plants of virtues, no unbroken fences of decency.

Once there was a pale fence that demarcated the line between what is right and what is wrong. But that fence is in disrepair, broken in many places, completely gone in others. Once every spot and corner within the fence were places of comfort and refuge where one could feel safe and secure. Now, we have not the faintest idea which is the inside and which the outside. Literally and figuratively, everything is now beyond the pale.

This dire state of affairs is generally true of many countries, although there are clear exceptions. It is especially true of the Philippines. On the Internet, one can find several country indices of corruption, morality, and impunity. In each, the Philippines generally ranks below the median or in the case of impunity tops the list.

In the Philippine wasteland, we are challenged to transform the landscape to make it habitable once more. Plant trees that provide kind shade. Grow flowers that bring goodness and beauty into our lives. And rebuild the frail, if once standing, fence that separated the civilized world from the wild jungle.

In this essay, I would like to propose and present two paradigms in two parts.

  • In Part 1, I shall discuss a model of a complex of virtues that offers a viable explanation of human relationships and interactions.
  • In Part 2, I shall discuss a model of ethics that will serve as a guide in making ethical decisions.

In this first part, I will begin with a brief discussion of the main ethical systems to establish a common ground.

Then I will introduce my first thesis, which is a conceptualization of what I call “The Three Primary Virtues.” On this topic, I will touch on the virtue of Honor which has been much discussed on this blog site. Indeed, the nobility of the virtue is a cornerstone.

In Part 2, I will present my second thesis, which is a synthesis of the main ethical systems. I have given this model the name of “The Three Sieves of Ethics.”

The field of ethics is very complex. It is a minefield. We have built skyscrapers. Plumbed the depths of the ocean. Visited the moon. And sent space probes beyond the solar system. Yet we are not fully agreed on what constitutes right from wrong.

I am neither elitist nor a professional ethicist. What I am presenting, therefore, are simplified concepts. Partly a product of my simple understanding as an ordinary man, but mostly a product of my wish to strike a clear path through the ethical minefield.

In a world gone mad, I believe there is an urgency to this latter task. I believe the task begins with each of us. I believe understanding is the first step.

And the first understanding required of us is to recognize that the wasteland is not only out there. It is also inside us. If we interact and interbe with this awareness, then we begin to clear the rubble and begin to create a better community on the instant. Yes, even now. And no, not a utopia but hopefully one that is a society of honor.

A Brief Overview of Ethics and the Main Ethical Systems

Ethics is a main branch of philosophy. It is concerned with how men should act.

Within Ethics, there are three main areas of study.

  • Meta-ethics. This is the study of what morality is. It is descriptive. It answers the question, “How do we know what is right and wrong?”
  • Normative Ethics. These are the rules and values of right conduct. They are prescriptive. They answer the question, “What are the rules and values that should guide our behavior?
  • Applied Ethics. These are examinations of particular instances of right conduct. They are prescriptive. They answer the question, “What should one do when faced with a specific case of an ethical dilemma?”

Our focus will be on the second area of study, Normative Ethics.

Within normative ethics, it is generally conceded that there are three main systems.

  • Deontology Ethics. This system judges the rightness or wrongness of an action based on duties and rules.
  • Consequentialist Ethics. This system judges the rightness or wrongness of an action based on its consequences.
  • Virtue Ethics. This system does not judge the rightness or wrongness of an action but emphasizes the moral character of the individual as the basis of ethical thought and action.

To be sure, there are several other systems, such as Natural Law and Discourse Ethics.

Deontology Ethics is associated with the philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) and his concept of the categorical imperative. But approximately three millennia before him there was Moses and the tablets of the Ten Commandments.

Within Consequentialist Ethics, there are many schools. I mainly have in mind the school of Utilitarianism and the Greatest Happiness Principle of Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806-1873). This is the principle, familiar to us, which states that the foundation of moral utility is “the greatest good for the greatest number.”

If Deontology is about action and Consequentialism is about effects, then Virtue Ethics is about character.

Within Virtue Ethics, I will explain the theory of, and the practice behind, the Three Primary Virtues.

The Hierarchy of Loyalties

Before discussing the first paradigm, I must observe that ethics operates within two world domains. It encompasses our thought processes and actions within Nature and within Society.

In Nature, our ethical concerns revolve around our uses of the bounty of Nature. For example, the preparation of the food we eat, the sources — and styles! — of the clothes we wear, and the sustainability of the planet’s finite resources.

In the domain of Society, our ethical concerns revolve around our interactions within what I call “The Hierarchy of Loyalties.” As can be seen in Figure 1, the Hierarchy consists of the constructs that dominate our lives. It is depicted as a series of concentric circles, starting from the self and moving outward to family, community, church, country, the world, and our concept of the Divine.

The list is not exhaustive. These constructs are the main ones that we deal with in our daily life, but there are other intermediate constructs as well. Such as our employer, our social club, and our Facebook groups.

We, meaning our individual selves, navigate life through the nexus of these mediating constructs.

Figure 1. The Hierarchy of Loyalties

Note that the constructs assume several forms. They are beings, groups, institutions, and ideologies. As can be seen in the diagram, starting from the center of self, the forms range from the corporeal and the material and onward to the abstract… and the spiritual.

Speaking of the abstract, there are areas of human endeavor, not represented in the diagram, to which we become attached. In part, I am referring to our personal philosophies and political outlooks. Whether you are a theist, an agnostic or an atheist; whether a socialist, a liberal or a conservative. But I am also referring to the arts, the sciences, and the humanities. To the extent that we dedicate a great portion of our lives to these — to dance, to books, to music, and to uncovering the mysteries of life — I would include these passions as constructs in the Hierarchy.

The Three Primary Virtues (TPV)

My first main thesis is the concept of the Three Primary Virtues. I shall alternatively refer to it as the Loyalty Triangle.

In previous discussions of Honor in this blog, our host, Joe America, has done so in the context of military honor. He has upheld the honor of soldiers willing to defend and die for the country as the ideal of sacrificial patriotism. He has confronted us with the challenging question: “I’m American. Do I want a Filipino in my foxhole?”

In the history of ethics, virtue ethics preceded deontology and consequentialism. Its roots can be found in classical antiquity. Consequently, there are several conceptions of cardinal virtues, starting with Plato and Aristotle, through to St. Thomas Aquinas, and forward to the modern proponents (such as Martha Nussbaum, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Deirdre McCloskey).

An example of virtue ethics — perhaps the most prominent — is the Seven Cardinal Virtues contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The seven virtues are divided into two classes: The Four Cardinal Virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance; and the Three Theological Virtues of faith, hope, and charity.

As I envision it, the Three Primary Virtues differs from the Four Cardinal Virtues in that they are attributes of the heart rather than of the mind. In my experience, the reasons of the heart are stronger than the reasons of the mind. In reality, the promptings of the heart incite the promptings of the mind.

The pillars of the Three Primary Virtues are:

  •  Loyalty. This is the quality of faithful adherence to one or several of the constructs in the Hierarchy of Loyalties.
  • Honor. This is the quality of knowing and doing what is morally right.
  • Duty. This is the quality of performing a moral obligation.

I call these the Three Primary Virtues because, like the three primary colors, they can stand alone, or engender corollary virtues either singly or in combination.

  • Loyalty begets consideration and caring.
  • Honor begets honesty and integrity.
  • Duty begets perseverance and purposefulness.
  • All three, taken together, will lead us to hold respect, if not reverence, for our object constructs and for ourselves.
  • All three will, in turn, make us recipients of gratitude and kindness.

Ideally, as our observance of these virtues spreads outward to the outer circles of the Hierarchy, like the ripples on a pond, we attain reverence for all Being. At least this is how I imagine it works in theory.

In Figure 2, I represent the TPV as the center triangle composed of three fields.

Figure 2. The Three Primary Virtues (Loyalty Triangle)

Loyalty. The field of Loyalty occupies the base. We bear loyalty for our selected constructs as a result of Fate or Choice. It would take a book or two to explore how we select our constructs or attachments. Although it could be the other way around — our attachments select us.

Not of our choice, we are born to certain parents; of a certain gender; into a certain religion; in a certain country; and in a certain period of time. We attend schools as determined by proximity and our financial means. We find a job according to our certain set of skills and talents. Eventually, we may marry someone we have met by arrangement or by chance. Further, we align ourselves with certain ontologies and certain personal, social, and political philosophies. And we propagate children, whom we do not pick out of an assembly line or a dealership.

As children, we are fostered in certain Loyalty Triangles. As we mature, we perhaps remain in the same ones or adopt new ones. But as adults, we come into possession of our own Triangles, whether inherited or adopted.

Honor. We next move clockwise to the field of Honor. Having selected our constructs, we show our loyalty by honoring them in various forms. There are many rituals of honor. The tedious ones involve – at least to me, as an introvert — the wearing of fine clothes, lengthy ceremonies, boring speeches, and toasts of champagne. I like the simple ones of sincere greetings, best wishes, inclusion in prayers, hugs, kisses, and small gifts of flowers and chocolates.

Note that I use honor in two senses: first as an act of internal integrity with ourselves, the internal component, and second as an act of external regard for another, the external component. To me, there is not much of a difference between the internal and the external. When we act with integrity, we regard ourselves with great respect. This means listening to and obeying the voice of conscience.

We also show our loyalty by writing a blog, dropping comments in socmed, or rallying in the streets.

Duty. These last rituals border on, or are already in, the field of Duty, the last segment of the triangle. Indeed, the best way we demonstrate our devotion is by our recognition and performance of duty.

Duty is different from an act of honor, which is voluntary, in that it is a moral (or legal) obligation. Duties are the big things; honor the little things. As the song goes, little things mean a lot.

Our duties are usually and initially defined and established by our object constructs and by custom. If we realize certain duties as self-evident without anyone telling us, then we are endowed with moral sensitivity and perhaps a greater-than-average level of consciousness.

Perhaps the sweetest moments in our lives occur when a homage or duty that is due us is performed unasked and when least expected. And, conversely, when the performance is acknowledged and appreciated in various subtle and unsubtle ways. We are delighted when Mom organizes a surprise birthday party. And which parent can forget the first spontaneous kiss from a child?

As we go about the day, we perform our tributes and duties in various moods — with gladness of heart, with grouchiness, with ennui, or as a matter of habit. I invite you to review your marital duties. What is your mood in each?

In general, the mood in which we perform our duties is a barometer of our loyalty. But not always and not in all cases. At times, we may be distracted by some other matter. Or may have woken up on the wrong side of the bed.

The Dynamics of the Three Primary Virtues

The dynamics of the Three Primary Virtues establish the character of our relationships with our chosen constructs. The character can be simple, medium, or complex. Or complicated, as Facebook will have it.

As stated, we belong to several Loyalty Triangles. Each is predominantly aligned to one circle of the Hierarchy. But the structures of both the Hierarchy and the Triangles are not neatly layered. They overlap and interpenetrate each other.

Roles and Culture. The complexion of our relationships is a function of the role we play. Within a Hierarchy-Triangle combination, we take up a specific role. In the family construct, we may be father or mother, daughter or son. In the country construct, we may be president, legislator, judge, or Mr. Juan dela Cruz, ordinary citizen. Thus, each role will vary in form and substance. Tradition and culture will have great influence in shaping variations of form and even of substance.

Culture is indeed key in establishing the relative ranks of roles in society. In nature, there is a pecking order. Accordingly, our relationships can be one of equals or non-equals. In modern times, husband and wife are generally seen as co-equal helpmates. However, in some cultures, the wife is seen as very much subordinate to the husband.

Then again in some countries, elected officials and civil servants are more seen – and act — as servants of the people and not their petty masters.

Power. In a relationship of non-equals, power is a constant factor, major or minor. Between or among equals, power may or may not infringe upon the relationship. If it does, there will exist an unequal balance of power even in the most equal of relationships.

Love and Trust. I would like to say the Three Primary Virtues constitute love, but I am not prepared to make such a grand claim. If pressed, I will go as far as to admit these virtues are among the essential elements of love. Are we not loyal to those we love? Do we not hold them in honor? And do we not perform our duties to them and for them? However, there are many kinds of love and many definitions of the term.

Perhaps what I can say is that if… if the three virtues are elements of love, then love must be the mortar that binds them together. And if love is the actuality, then trust is the faith that they will persist in the course of time.

We may extend trust, ab initio, as a token of faith. But trust is also earned and, all things being equal, grows stronger in time.

Process and Reciprocity. I have depicted the Loyalty Triangle within a Circle of Love and Trust in two dimensions. As a process, we can image the Circle as a force field enveloping a network of related constructs. Within the Circle, the virtues are colored beams or strands of light that bounce and interweave between and among the participants. This image, almost consistent with dancers gyrating on a disco floor, gives new meaning to the idiom of the ties that bind. Life is a dance.

The interwoven strands indicate that the virtues are shared and experienced on a reciprocal basis. And, as we may imagine, their colors may suggest the strength of the fibers. Or signify a common association. Yes, the yellows, the reds, and the blues.

As we know, reciprocity is not extended and returned in equal measure. And instead of reinforcing each other, the strands may fray.

Motivation. Why do we do the things we do? A cursory examination will tell us we mostly act within the perimeters of Loyalty Triangles. From standing by your principles, which is a deed of integrity and loyalty; to making a phone call to ask a sick friend how she is, which is a gesture of affection and honor; and to casting a vote, which is an expression of self-interest and duty — to patron or country. The two constructs are not coincident.

More to the point, it would not be an understatement to say that the three elemental virtues are central to our lives. They underpin the structure of our everyday existence, the aspiration of our hearts, the intentions of our minds, and the missions of our limbs.

Reflect on it. Our lives center around our constellations of object constructs and the stars that burn in them. Our loyalty, our devotion, to these stars — as well as our indifference and hatred for lesser lights — is the raison d’etre of our existence. And most of our impulses and actions, whether big or small, whether positive or negative, are manifestations of honor and duty.

Antitheses. In the arc of time, the narratives of our lives unfold not only through our object constructs, but also to others that we do not care for. To be more accurate, the entities that we do not care for may be the antitheses or the enemies of the constructs that we care for. Nevertheless, they do affect our lives in a big way. In the current political climate, I know you know what I mean.

There is a curious relationship, consonant or antithetical, between the constructs we care for and the attributes they exhibit (if single) or the entities within them (if composite). We may love our spouse, but hate his snoring. We may be loyal to our church, but disloyal to some of her doctrines. We may respect the institutions of government, but disrespect some public servants.

In the first two examples, the measure of our antithetical responses may be mitigated by our loyalty. In the last example, the measure may be in direct proportion to our care for good government.

Persistence. The persistence of the Triangles in our lives are, again, a matter of Fate and Choice. Nothing lasts forever. This may be a good thing or a bad thing. We all wish for the love that endures. And we are fortunate if we find it. But we know, alas, that love can perish.

However, in matters of beliefs and philosophies, it is to be hoped that we outgrow those that are prejudicial and grow into ones that are more inclusive and enlightened.

Our Triangles may collapse through internal or external pressures. Loyalty can be betrayed from the inside or can be bought — seduced — from the outside. Honor tokens may not be bestowed with a regularity or an intensity to our liking. And duties may be performed perfunctorily or not at all. When these happen, the Circle breaks and the Triangle implodes.

Thus, the stars in our constellations may dim and blink out, and the heavens reconfigured.

History. Finally, if we look at the passage of history, the breadth and depth of historical events are recorded through the constructs of men and institutions, and the ideas and other artifacts they leave behind. In the roles they play in the drama. In men’s motivations of loyalty and their shifting allegiances. And in the interplay of their acts of honor and dishonor, and of duty and negligence.

The Other Side of Virtue

When I began reflecting on the Three Primary Virtues, I meant to present them as standards of what is true and what is good. But the further I reflected, I came to realize that the primary virtues can be vices.

Let us take a look at our country.

There is this idea that we do not practice the essential virtues, much less possess them. As evidence, we cite the perversions of vote selling, the prevalence of political dynasties, the tribalism of, say, Ilocano voters, and the phenomenon of political turncoatism.

From the viewpoint of the country construct, this idea appears to be true. No, is true. Upon examination, however, if we take the view from lower constructs in the Hierarchy, the idea is proved to be untenable. It is a misconception.

  • From the view of the family construct, vote selling is consistent with the three virtues.
  • From the viewpoint of the clan construct, the perpetuation of political dynasties is also consistent.
  • From the viewpoint of the region construct, the tribalism of our voting patterns is again consistent.
  • And from the viewpoint of self, turncoatism is, one last time, consistent.

As we have pointed out, time and again on this blog site, our loyalties do not rise to the level of Country. Hence, we are caught in the maelstroms of amoral familism, amoral clannism, and amoral tribalism. (There is also amoral religionism.)

(Amoral familism is the over prioritization of the family construct above the country construct. Clannism of the clan above country. Tribalism of the tribe above country. And religionism of religion above country.)

As I looked further afield, I realized that the Three Primary Virtues is also the glue behind criminal organizations. Organizations like the Mafia and the Yakuza. Gangsters practice the Codes of Omerta and Jingi to a degree that death may be the ultimate penalty for treachery, dishonor, and dereliction.

In truth, our politicos have less “virtue” than gangsters. Their loyalties are cheaply traded, bought, and sold. And instead of being penalized by the cutting off of the left pinky, expulsion, or worse, they are amply rewarded. They lie, cheat, and steal with almost absolute abandon and impunity.

Here, we encounter the paradox of morality that so confounds us. Why is it that the wickedness we see in people is considered goodness by others? I offer two partial answers to this question.

My first partial answer is that our perspectives depend on our subjective construct orientation as I have just observed.

My second partial answer is that our perspective is usually from a single ethical system. But that is Part 2 of this essay.

223 Responses to “The Moral Landscape: Part 1 – The Three Primary Virtues”
  1. karlgarcia says:

    Why is it when I read of white fences, I am reminded of whitewash.
    Maybe Gordon reads Tom Sawyer.

    • Edgar Lores says:

      The “pale fence” refers to wooden pickets or pales. But “pale” also means light in color or white.

      The idiom “beyond the pale” means “outside the bounds of acceptable behavior.”

      So, yes, pale fences refers to white fences. And, yes, we have gone beyond the pale. And worse the pale fence is broken.

  2. chemrock says:

    Great piece Edgar. Superb. A modern western minded Confucius. Whilst Confucius give us in drabs and bits, you give us the whole works, albeit in abridged form.

    I’m reading this in the CR away from the eyes of the wifey who is chasing to get out of the house. Going out prospecting for customers.

    Need to do a second reading later.

    • Edgar Lores says:

      The piece does need time to read and to absorb. I, too, make good use of time in the CR. A chapter or two of light, entertaining fiction goes down well when taking a crap. My serious reading usually happens at the desk in front of the computer. But whether in the CR or elsewhere, time reading is time well spent.

    • lindrell says:

      To ChemR : U can’t keep her waiting ; She who must be obeyed ☺

  3. NHerrera says:

    The wait is over. Part 1 is remarkable, among others, in its scope. A putting together of concepts hard to come by in one relatively short article, Google and Microsoft Word-Excel notwithstanding. With a very appropriate and urgent preamble to why the article was written and its relevance. Now the wait is for Part 2. But as in a participant to a feast, I am quite satisfied for now — another one occurring right after this is just too much to properly savor and digest.

    The last few paragraphs is somewhat unsettling, that the same set of TPV that elevates man is also a set that makes him slide to an undesirable primitive state, erasing much of the elevating thoughts mankind has struggled so much to define through the ages. Man’s evolving DNA must keep up with the speed of our times before — not only our society — our dear planet Earth is no more.

    Thanks, edgar.

    • Nice summary paragraph, that.

      Edgar is stretching our DNA, now that I think about it. The article is precious, in those terms.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Bring out that pale pilsen NH!

      • NHerrera says:

        Yes, but don’t forget to bring the popcorn!

      • Happy 175th Birthday Pilsener beer, just one day belated. The first beer according to the Pilsener brewing technique was brewed in Pilsen on October 5, 1842.

        If you drink pale pilsen, do not drink it out of pails, so you stay within the pale fence.

        • Edgar Lores says:


        • NHerrera says:

          To the imbiber of Pale Philsen, SanMig the local version — I am a moderate drinker, mind; ssh, the wife is listening — here is a toast to you all!

          (I will try not to take it from the pail next time, Irineo. 🙂 )

          • karlgarcia says:

            Yeah, but we can still put the bottles in a pail of ice, right?
            I too seldomly drink and try to make excuses during reunions even if I have valid health reasons.
            Mahirap tumanggi sa tagay.

            • NHerrera says:

              Taking intoxicating drink: everything in moderation, but for some moderation is when they are not stone drunk; but for some others, moderation means a little more than a sip, that is less than a pail, hahaha. I agree with you, karl, best to take tea or some such. When they ask, say it is against your principle. 🙂

    • Edgar Lores says:

      NHerrera, I am as unsettled as you are.

      I have told you that I have been binging on Japanese movies. The themes of loyalty, honor, and duty are the stuff of samurai movies. I would highly recommend the films of Yoji Yamada who directed the acclaimed Samurai Trilogy. I chanced upon the second installment, “The Hidden Blade (2004),” on a government station here. The first installment, “The Twilight Samurai (2002), was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The last installment was “Love and Honor (2006).”

      At the same time, I came across the Yakuza films of director Takeshi “Beat” Kitano that are nonpareil in gangland violence. I would recommend “Hanabi (1997)” if you can stomach the bloody mayhem.

      And as I digested these antithetical films and watched the Philippine political milieu, I was struck by the parallels and the dynamics beneath the human interaction. The ridiculous and the sublime. If my observations ring true, then… such is life. We may arrive at different teleologies, different explanations for what is going on. Whatever we adopt, may we find happiness in our loyalty triangles.

      • NHerrera says:

        At the very least we have this in common: the love of the study and reading of the unique Japanese character, especially of the Samurai. Thanks for the suggestions. I will look into it.

  4. grammy2342 says:

    Your discourse has to be read on my computer for better digestion and reaction. It’s nit compatible to read it on my iPhone.

    But l do know it is meaningful and have to be learned in order to decide how to apply it outside of self.

    • Edgar Lores says:

      I guess it needs a wide screen to display the breadth of the concepts as well as the breadth required to understand them.

      But take it slowly. I say “breadth” only and do not include “depth” because the observations, if they ring true, should align with the depths of your personal experience. They should resonate. If not, they are incomplete or untrue.

      • sonny says:

        Graphics that are worth more than a thousand words, Edgar! Alas the limitations of two-dimensional graphics. Here’s wishing for the wonders of the third dimension and the completeness it adds for the representation of your reflections. Nonetheless there is enough to utilize the “grids” your thoughts have produced.

        For me especially, I am looking at the picture of hierarchy of loyalties. I have added rays coming from the center (self) to the other concentric shells as channels of connection from the self to the specific domains of loyalty that are significant to a particular individual.

        Thanks, Edgar

        • Edgar Lores says:

          De nada, kabsat.

          3-D would be nice. Or a GIF with your rays spreading out in real time. Heh heh.

  5. karlgarcia says:

    Example of virtue turned into a vice.
    When patience becomes stalking.

    • Edgar Lores says:

      That would be virtue turning on its own head, as when love becomes hate.

      The case of loyalty becoming disloyalty can be a turning on its own head, as when a previously loyal spouse strays and engages in infidelity.

      But another case of loyalty becoming disloyalty may be a matter of perspective. There is no inherent change in the act or in the actor.

      When a man sells his vote he is being loyal to his family. But he is also being disloyal to his country because he is not voting for the best candidate but for the candidate who is willing to buy his vote.

      The perspective changes depending on which construct the view is taken. From the construct of family, vote selling is an act of loyalty. From the construct of the country, vote selling is an act of disloyalty.

      A better example might be Senator Trillanes. Seen from the administration, he is disloyal to the country. Seen from the people, he is loyal to the country.

  6. Mary Grace P. Gonzales says:

    Wow, just wow…I need a longer time to read and absorb the countless golden nuggets in this article. Alas, BIR deadlines don’t wait. I hope the internet connection in Batangas will not conk out tomorrow as it usually does. A family gathering tonight awaits so we will proceed there, will have to leave the office @ 4: pm. in the middle of the mooncake game.

    The TSH guru is at it again…Congrats for another wonderful piece.

    • Edgar Lores says:

      Take your time, Mary Grace, take your time. Attend to your primary loyalty triangles — the job and your family.

  7. josephivo says:

    Very interesting, very concise. But behavior is driven by the heart as you said in picking virtues, and this article only addresses the brain? A flash of spontaneous thoughts:

    1- Improving your basketball skills on the couch reading a book, or improving your skills outside with a basketball in your hands, what works better? Basketball is just entertainment, so much more practice is needed for better moral behavior.

    2- What can be learned, what is predisposition? What requires intelligence, what requires skills ?
    Moral behavior requires the correct perception of a situation, social dexterity, feedback recognition…

    3- We learn first by challenging our siblings and parents, then our classmates and friends. By adulthood our moral system is mostly fully acquired.
    e.g. My mom was a very good cook, we were always fighting to get the most. So she used the rule that the one could chose to divide the portions and thus choose last and one could choose first. This taught us to think circular and be fair.

    4- Morality is the result, never the cause. Morality is the rulebook of the referee, not the “how to” manual of a coach.
    Recent research indicate that our brain takes decisions long (second) before we consciously know it and formal rationalizations come only afterwards.

    5- Who are/should be referees for our behavior? What rulebook should they be using? Behavior is situational, it depends on the sphere of live, the local culture, status, strength and weaknesses…
    The importance of different spheres keeps changing, e.g. for most social networks on internet did not exist only 10 years ago.

    6- The more we are interconnected as individuals or as group the more referees we have the easier it is to develop adjusted morals.

    7- Referees are essential. Morality for an hermit makes little sense. Behavior if nobody cares is irrelevant.

    8- Transparency, referee with a hidden rulebook does not work. Acceptance, a referee with no status and neutrality does not work. Alignment, a referee with a different rulebook or objective does not work.

    • NHerrera says:

      Your mother said it well:

      The one who cuts the cake chooses last.

      The essence of Game Theory is in that statement.

      In PH — and in fairness some other countries as well — the Leader and his minions wants

      to cut the cake and be the first ones to choose.

    • Edgar Lores says:


      It’s hard for me to respond point by point without context. So I will define my baseline first.

      1. For me, morality comes in several parts.

      1.1. Base morality. We have an innate sense of morality. Jonathan Haidt’s moral foundations’ theory identifies the base moral matrix with which we are born. The matrix is described as dichotomies.
      1.2. Conditioned morality. The greater portion of our morality comes from culture via our parents, peers, and other constructs.
      1.3. Unconditioned morality. This is our consciously developed individual morality that may arise above our conditioned morality.

      2. With respect to your point 1, morality does come easier with practice. It’s as if we have moral muscles, and the more we use them, the greater our moral strength becomes. Example: the good senators.

      2.1. Note that the same can be said of immorality. Example: the bad DOJ secretary and Solicitor General that Mary Grace is ranting against.

      3. With respect to your point 2, base morality (my 1.1) is the predisposition. Conditioned morality (my 1.2) is learned morality. And unconditioned morality (my 1.3) is intelligent and skillful morality.

      4. With respect to your point 3, how and where we learn morality. This accords with my point 1.2. However, we may develop new moral codes above what we learned as children and young adults.

      5. With respect to your point 4, it is true that a moral act is usually the effect of an initial cause. However, cause and effect are a chain. So morality can also be a cause — albeit an intermediate one.

      5.1. Having said that, a moral act may be “uncaused.” Random acts of kindness fall into this category.

      6. With respect to your point 5, the referees for moral acts, in the abstract, are the various ethical systems I have mentioned. While these systems are normative, I will agree that norms change. Example: slavery.

      6.1. In the concrete, the referees are parents, teachers, religious leaders, and political leaders.

      7. With respect to your point 6, social interconnection can develop adjusted morality — or immorality. The latter is what is happening in the country because the dominant referees are the bad guys. And there are more Indians than Cowboys.

      8. With respect to your point 7, totally agree that referees are essential. Unfortunately, there are many bad referees and few referees. My essay is an attempt to be a guide for the few good referees.

      9. With respect to your point 8, agree about transparency and consistency. I do not say “totally agree” because, at times, the reasons for moral acts may be hidden for a good reason. But as far as consistency goes, I am with you. The walk and the talk must go together.

    • Edgar Lores says:

      On your point 4, I would like to add that actions can come about as a result of fast thinking or slow thinking. Kahneman’s System 1 is fast thinking, which is instinctive and emotional. His System 2 is slow thinking, which is deliberate and logical.

      Depending on the situation and ethical issue we face, we employ System 1 or System 2. For System 1, I would agree that explanations and rationalizations come afterward.

  8. Mary Grace P. Gonzales says:

    Calida is actually destabilizing Duterte by slandering decent people and inspiring them to step up and speak out. “Let’s call it straight. Those who put the President above the Constitution are destabilizing the nation.” It definitely resonates with people. – Joe

    Calida is one of Brother Eddie Villanueva’s recommendee to this government if my memory serves me right. Loyalty to God must be paramount, and I cannot equate this loyalty to God and your fellowmen with the actuations of our religious leader and his son Joel and how he voted in various Senate motions. Now here comes Calida and his impeachment plans for the SC CJ and the Ombudsman.

    I’m still with JIL; in fact, just two months ago, I helped build a church extension right beside our home in Batangas. I made clear my opinions regarding our leader to our Pastor and my stand that I’m doing what I can to win souls for God, and love of neighbor but I am registering my disappointment and opposition to the political decisions of the elder leaders of the church.

    Hebrews 12:1-2
    . . .Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith . .

    If I look down, I will be depressed, if I look unto God, I will be blessed.

  9. Mary Grace P. Gonzales says:

    Calida said that even though she has inhibited from the investigation, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales is equally liable for her deputy’s actions and said it’s now a ground for impeachment.

    Morales can be removed from office only by impeachment.

    “That’s not a threat, that’s a fact,” Calida said.

  10. manangbok says:

    So what do we do about it? It is very frustrating to engage people who have closed their minds to reason (heck, to reality, even!). For example, I have a friend who is a die-hard Duterte supporter and nothing I say sways her. I love her, anyway — we have a history together. Sometimes, we just grit our teeth, I mean me, that’s what I do, literally.

    It has never been more true today what Alexander Solzhenitsyn said — “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

    The people we love are flawed. And so are we. And that is the problem, isn’t it? 😦 😦

    • Edgar Lores says:

      Your last paragraph says it all.

      Reasons of the mind will only work for people who are open to them. Reasons of the heart will overcome reasons of the mind. But even so, the heart can be as closed as the mind.

      We do not know what will transform an impaired heart to a good one. There could be a triggering event. Or the unconditional love of a good heart might do it.

    • NHerrera says:

      I believe, the great writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn is stating a general human trait. All of us have to struggle with our own version of balance, either consciously or unconsciously, but some of us let the animal instinct take over most of the time, and some of us only less of the time. I prefer to be with the latter — but it is a constant struggle, part of being human I suppose.

  11. Sup says:

    How to change in 1 day…

    MANILA – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday said he and the military officials are not aware of any destabilization plot against the government, as previously revealed by President Rodrigo Duterte.


    The military on Friday confirmed that the communist rebels and other lawless armed groups in Mindanao are planning to mount destabilization moves against President Rodrigo Duterte.

    “Most of them are Reds and the armed elements in Mindanao,” Major Gen. Restituto Padilla said in a Palace briefing.

    • NHerrera says:

      At least I see some effort at discrimination in the change, unlike statements made by the Solgen-cum-mouthpiece/ propagandist who virtually label all oppositionists and critics, even the clearly principled and reasoned ones, as destabilizers. Atat na atat ang bata natin maging Ombudsman methinks.

  12. Sup says:

    Did they reset the counter after 10.000?

    ”PNP: Only 1 case of EJK under Duterte administration”

  13. andrewlim8 says:

    Philstar article 3 Oct 2017:

    “While local media continue to criticize him for killings in connection with the government’s war on illegal drugs, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said yesterday he is considered a hero by Chinese media.

    He said a female staff of a Beijing hotel, where he stayed when he attended the 86th International Police (Interpol) General Assembly last week, told him she looked him up using Google.”

    The problem? Google is blocked in China because like Facebook, they do not submit to censorship.
    There are ways to get around it, but then a govt handler is unlikely to use that.


    1) President vs. Constitution.

    1a) if your values are shaped by the classic idea of Flag, Constitution, Republic, the President is of course subordinate to the Constitution. It won’t even matter if you are Marcos loyalist or “yellow”.

    1b) if your values are those of datu politics (most of Filipino local politics, and the idea of politics that the masa and the new middle class coming from the masa have) the paternalistic leader comes first. Like mayors (I think Paranaque?) can order “no helmets on motorcycles for now” against higher laws.

    2) secrecy in cases being processed

    2a) Calida and Tiglao are (technicall speaking correctly) saying the Deputy Ombudsman should not disclose any information about stuff under investigation (Duterte’s accounts) – but they did

    2b) on the other hand, disclosure of all kinds of stuff, even drug matrixes without proof, is the standard in Philippine politics, even shaming sessions called Senate hearings – the national barrio is VERY thirsty to know the latest gossip and resolve what is right or wrong on a weder-weder basis!

    3) shaiming the President

    3a) is of course loss of face, an Asian thing, in its very own Filipino variation. There is, for many Filipinos, no difference between critical thinking and thinking critically, asking why or disparaging;

    3b) but if the reputation of an individual, his or her honor is so dependent upon being right always, why is the right to SHAIM exclusively given to the paternalistic leader, even without proof, even the media quotes what he says without “alleged”. And so many Filipinos think: “sabi ni Duterte, kaya totoo”.

    Guess a lot of the discussions on social media (the national barrio, the square on which all converge for tsismis) is about resolving what is considered right or wrong. Instinctively everyone I think is aware of the disjoints. But the Philippines lacks real philosophers and has more pilosopos (sophists).

    • P.S. Arroyo also played the matriarch role often, including accusing people without proof and parading them to be SHAIMED by her as criminals, with her pointing a finger at them. For someone used to the Western standard of proof like me, a shocking thing to see..

    • Edgar Lores says:

      Hmm. Old culture trumps modern political morality. Leaders trump laws. And followers follow blindly.

      The Hierarchy of Loyalties is wrong. The President can say the Constitution is a piece of paper. And mayors can ignore national laws.

      Marcos was always careful to maintain a facade of adherence to the law. Of course, he rewrote the law to suit himself.

      But after Marcos and before Duterte, presidents generally adhered to the Constitution. Although Arroyo stole democracy. In a way, Erap and Arroyo were worse than Marcos. Because after such knowledge of Marcos’ corruption, how could they dare to follow his path? After such knowledge, what forgiveness?

      And now comes Duterte, typical tough man as a mayor, but a sui generis as almost a no-holds-barred president. Except for the AFP, some courageous senators and representatives, and some clergy, he would run roughshod over the entire country.

      Yes, there is a lack of philosophers and the lack of a moral guiding philosophy.

      Even if there were, how do you change the culture?

    • NHerrera says:

      The sad part of it is that even when Philosophy and or Logic 101 are taught as part of the Humanities Component of a college or university course, it is treated only as a subject to go through with no relevance, that is, not part of something to apply. Sadder still is if the teacher taught the course un-inspiredly, that is, just something to teach to earn his salary. Of course, politicians are an entirely different breed.

      Politicians + Philosophy + Logic

      can co-exit such as the following can co-exist

      Politicians + Zhit + Excrement

      CAVEAT: I do not mean by the latter, of course, that there are no exceptions — we know who they are. Also, some politicians know only pilosopos or lawjerks — again we know who they are.

      • Edgar Lores says:

        Schools should highlight the virtues of loyalty, honor, and duty by:

        o Showing samurai films
        o Parsing “Florante at Laura” by Francisco Balagtas
        o Teaching relevant Philippine myths and legends, if any, or adopt the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table
        o Exploring the life and writings of Mabini, Quezon, and Recto
        o Teaching the Code of Citizenship and Ethics by Manuel Quezon (Executive Order 217)
        o Conducting ethics classes

        • @both: there are several factors at play, I think:

          1) the gap between half-explained values which come from the West, which are lived by the elites (sometimes only partly, I fear) and the native values which have always survived:

          Example: an unmarried woman may have lovers (old Pacific value system) – so Pacquiao is right when he argues that he did not “covet anybody else’s wife” – least of all his neighbor’s. Tagalog: “kapag dalaga at gusto puwede, kapag may asawa na bawal”. Not that “asawa” can also mean “kinakasama”, not necessarily “kasal” which comes from Spanish “casado”. Honeylet refers to Duterte as her “asawa” – correct in Filipino. Fil. English: common law wife.

          2) the gap between implementation and practice, not only of split-level Christianity but also law. EJKs happened in Davao for 20 years, but only De Lima went to have a look. From 2010-2016 when Duterte supported Aquino, I do not recall that the investigation was resumed by CHR. There are also rumors of similar practices by Mayor Lim in Manila (1990s) which were known by everyone but nobody formally went to a prosecutor. This is more than just a mayor saying don’t wear helmets (it was Dasmarinas) because of so many riding-in-tandems, just like that.

          Might be I have been in the West to long, or in Germany, but the law and its application is seen in a very mathematical way over here. Either you apply it or you don’t. It is a bit Protestant. Catholics are in general I think more likely to have mistresses than to have a clear divorce which Protestantism allows. The more you make deviations to the declared standard normal, the more you have a creeping disobedience. Least corrupt countries are all Protestant BTW.

          3) Lawmaking NORMALLY should be part of the “normative discourse” in a society – the process by which a society determines what its NORMS are. Such discussions usually are very lively in Germany, including the usual suspects from the Churches and the media. Recent example: young men of Northern African origin sexually harrassed German women outside the Cologne cathedral and train station on New Year’s Eve 2015/6. It turned out that many of could not be charged as laws were insufficient.

          When it comes to major new laws, the ministries drafting them consult experts from various circles – Churches, universities, courts. Each of these experts will have their own grounding in aspects of philosophy. A Jesuit will have a different view from a legalist for example. But through these discussions within society – elite and public (mediated via the media of course) the “normative discourse” is ideally a feedback cycle. It is NOT just theory, which I suspect was what happened with Fr. Bernas, SJ and the Philippine 1986 Constitution.

          … just a few cents or more… one can, when one looks at the discussion on drugs in the Philippines, see how the normative discourse is not working at all between masa and elite. Quick fixes on one side, not enough awareness of ground-level reality (maybe) on the other.

          • … another example: a jail system that locks up people who cannot post bail for a decade (there are real examples of this) or even 5 years while letting those who can post bail or bribe free is de facto already a mockery of all human rights – it was always like that though.

            … or this: trials that take years and years (horrible for the poorest who might just die in jail waiting for trial) are not effective justice. Plus a weird, convoluted system that can make due process “due palusot”, instead of a clear system of determining truth and then punishment.

            if that is not seriously worked on after Duterte is out, there might be another of his kind, or even worse. But do Filipinos learn any real lessons – except to memorize for the next exam?

          • Edgar Lores says:

            On 1, Pacquiao is being a sophist.

            I do not know about the old Pacific value system, but within Christian ethics, there are 2 commandments against sexual paraphilia:

            o Sixth – Thou shalt not commit adultery.
            o Tenth – Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.

            Pacquiao is presumably using Christian ethics. If so, he may not be guilty of the Tenth, but he is guilty of the Sixth. In the sense that even just to look lustfully is adultery.

            If he is using the old Pacific value system, then he should not be a Bible thumper.

            Is he using the Pacific system? Or is it just those judging him?

            If the Pacific system runs parallel with Christian ethics, then we have two sets of conflicting deontological rules. So one is the theory (Christian) and the other is the practice (Pacific)?

            This unreconcilable parallelism seems to run through the entire country: datuship vs. democracy. Democracy is the form but the essence is datuship.

            On 3, I am not familiar with the process here in Oz. It is mathematical to an extent but the calculators are either Labor or Conservative. My impression is that the ministries provide input but the drafting is done by the parties.

          • NHerrera says:

            I have a feeling we had bits and pieces of this already here in TSH, but would like to frame it again.

            How does a country like PH instill a German or Japanese mind, from which discussions such as we have above can have meaning. One way is to raze the whole thing to the ground and start anew. Marcos, although contrived from the very beginning with the Enrile car assault and subsequent Martial Law declaration, would have been one if only — after the contrivance — he had the essential long-term goal and love of country of a LKY. He had a good beginning, let us grant him that, but he lost his way very quickly. He certainly possessed the mental faculties. But we, or rather he, blew it, especially being married to Imelda.

            Now Part II, a worse imitation, is being foisted on us again as da solution via the drug war contrivance.

            • Edgar Lores says:

              1. The temptation to raze is great. But the price is high and there is no assurance of success.

              2. I have come to believe that Marcos was a fraud from the very beginning. Nalundasan. Fake war medals. Hidden corruption. But he was good at creating his “legend” (in spy parlance).

              • Raze does not work. You have to adapt in a culture-specific and dedicated manner.

                Edgar, your example of Meiji restoration comes to mind – which included the adoption of aspects of the French and German systems of justice, adapted to Japanese circumstances.

                Another example of an Asian reformist would be Mongkut (The King and I) of Thailand – the biggest difference between him and Duterte would be that he saw the importance of algebra.

                FVR was also seen as having similar potential. But he also fell short, for whatever reason.

                Finally, the job may have to be done by the leaders rising up NOW, in the opposition. Probably it is not enough to rely on just one “hero”. I think the Filipino penchant of sending one to go forward (“o ikaw na muna diyan”) and then sitting back and waiting for a miracle is THE issue.

              • Quezon was probably the builder – most institutions in the Philippines today come from his time, notable exceptions being the Sandiganbayan (Marcos) and the Ombudsman (Cory). That his stuff still works somehow attests to the sheer power of his vision, and one must not forget how he worked for it from his Senate Presidency (1916-1935) thru his Presidency. But the war interrupted it, something was lost, maybe even gradually, and now it seems many Philippine institutions look like Borobodur or Angkor Wat, overgrown by tropical jungle and fortunately the Seven Deadly Sens cannot summon me, considering what this picture shows:

              • chemrock says:

                So much gems in this threat. Thank u guys.

              • karlgarcia says:

                @ Chemrock,
                You enjoy the threat with arms akimbo.

                Joke only I knew you mean thread.

  15. karlgarcia says:

    Acemoglu and Robinson said that it is not the the grography culture, it is not ignorance that make nations fail, it is the institutions thst make or break a nation.

    How do you reconcile that? Let us say we abolish a corrupt to the core institution and replace it with another or even privatize it, with out changing culture,human behavior,worst practices, worst leadership it is bound to fail.

    Nasa tao yan, it includes resistance or acceptance to change scamming este change.

    The lesson given by this incumbent government is how not to implement change.

    • NHerrera says:

      Tumpak, karl, nasa tao talaga. Lalo na kung ang mga Liders ay yung nanguguna sa kasamaan!

    • Edgar Lores says:

      Beware of federalismo!

      • karlgarcia says:

        Federalism in the Philippines would be a disaster.

        • I think so too. We have to do away with a lot of bad cultural factors before it can be pushed through. There are a number of people allied to the administration who think that the time to make it happen is now. Pimentel comes to mind but I have not heard him tell the public why. I would like for him to write an op-ed or a white paper on his stance. I would like to know where is coming from and read about his vision of a Federal PH.

          • karlgarcia says:

            First he is anticipating someone to block his reelection bid, because it would be his third term and that is not allowed.
            He does not consider his first term as counted.
            That I think is the reason for his quietness and being timid and always times his pronouncements.

            • Edgar Lores says:

              An interesting case that. I think I would find in favor of another reelection bid.

              Pimentel did not serve 6 full years in his first term. He only served 30% of it. That’s 23 months out of 72 months.

            • Thanks, karl. That makes a lot of sense.

              I read about the Pimentel-Zubiri debacle. Election protest, midterm 2007.

              In fairness to Koko, he only served 2 years of his first term, right?

              • karlgarcia says:

                Yes,as confirmed by Edgar 23 months, so he will run if everyone thinks it is just fair and no one protests.

              • @karl

                He can run, IMHO, but will he win? That is the question. He had his moments of lapsed judgements as the Senate President. Will Filipinos forgive and forget in 2019? That is another question only Bert could divine with his magic eight ball, er, crystal ball.

        • sonny says:

          During our young years, it was a mantra we always kept in mind: watak-watak sa paningin ngunit may isang bayan, isang diwa! I pray this will not be just be blown away.

  16. edgar,

    Loyalty, Honor & Duty … IMHO,

    are too abstract (though it’s good to throw around, ie. in speeches and what-not) , for us in the Marines it’s God, Country, and Corps (same-same , i think) also too abstract;

    but in the end we in the military all know it’s me (one Marine), my fire-team (3 Marines); my squad (9 Marines) ; then my platoon (30 Marines) and so on and so forth, so same as your blue overlapping circles above.

    I’ve always liked that Dalai Lama quote above because it gives you the lines you can and cannot cross, at the end of the day you gotta focus on yourself, only then can you help others (blue concentric circles), project this process as far as possible (beyond platoon, company level, battalion, regiment, etc. you get to country then if you venture farther , the world—- Thomas Paine’s “The world is my country”… and even farther you get to Star Trek ideals and motto, ie. Prime Directive)

    Now for the Dalai Lama’s “prime purpose” ,

    the least you can do in life is to not hurt anyone (i’ve been jamming down everyone’s throat as the ideal here, ie. all violence is bad, to which Joe has called naive), and if you were tracking our revived discussion on Trump’s drone program last nite , it’s related to proportionality and oversight, so if the ideal cannot be met then mitigate the best way possible.

    the most you can do in life, the most, is to help just one person (if that person is yourself, that’s good enough! that’s the basis of Buddhism in fact); the least , the very least , you can do in life is to not hurt anyone (or anything, that’s Jainism).

    I think Loyalty; Honor; and Duty , as Human Constructs will always fall short, ie. open to interpretation, casuistry (that word I learned from sonny 😉 ) as you’ve demonstrated , edgar … help yourself, help others if you can; and don’t hurt anyone (or anything) to me is as good a triangle as can be devised

    in attempting to be better people.

    re Loyalty; Honor; and Duty, Spinoza’s view applies fits to a tee; though helping oneself; helping others; and not hurting anyone/anything i cannot parse, ie. make into vice , which makes me think that Dalai Lama quote above is the source or as close to the source as one can get.

    • Edgar Lores says:

      1. It’s too easy to say some things are abstractions and dismiss them that way.

      1.1. We live by abstractions, so abstractions are real.

      1.2. The Marine Corp is an abstraction. It is a conception of fighting men, organized under certain conceptions (fire-team, squad, platoon, and so on), and performing certain conceptualized functions. Nevertheless, the Marine Corp is real.

      1.3. The Marine Corp is a construct. It is a sub-construct of the sub-construct that is the military, which is a sub-construct of the abstraction that is called a nation. That nation is the USA, which did not exist before July 4, 1776. America is an abstraction.

      1.4. The Marine Corp is one of your object constructs. It forms one your Loyalty Triangles. And how would you describe the way you interact with this construct? Do not the abstractions of loyalty, honor, and duty describe your actions? Take any action you perform with them: is that action not one of loyalty, honor, or duty?

      2. The Dalai Lama has said many things. Here he is quoted as saying the purpose of life is the Other (or the Others). He has also been quoted as saying the purpose of life is happiness.

      2.1. In the first quote, the Other is the object construct. In the second quote, one interpretation is that the Self is the object construct. Another interpretation is that happiness consists in helping others. So, in this alternative interpretation, the Other is the object construct — just like the first quote.

      2.2. Helping others are acts of assistance. In assisting others, we show loyalty. The acts of helping are acts of honoring them. In that the prime purpose is helping them, then the acts of helping are also acts of duty.

      2.3. In similar fashion, the Self can be an object construct. And the acts we take to pamper ourselves — like grooming — or develop ourselves — like learning — are acts of loyalty, honor, or duty.

      3. So the question is: Does not the Loyalty Triangle describe the basic patterns of our acts in relation to our object constructs?

      • “3. So the question is: Does not the Loyalty Triangle describe the basic patterns of our acts in relation to our object constructs?”

        It does (on one hand), but you’ve also pointed out how easy this all can become Vice from Virtue. So how to whittle down to the source is the point I believe to your series here, and I may be jumping the gun here and already talking about Part 2.

        But when I say too abstract, I also mean it can be interpreted so many different ways, hence too abstract.

        Which brings us to this,

        “2.1. In the first quote, the Other is the object construct. In the second quote, one interpretation is that the Self is the object construct. Another interpretation is that happiness consists in helping others. So, in this alternative interpretation, the Other is the object construct — just like the first quote.”

        You’re interpreting Buddhism wrongly then, edgar.

        Though Buddhism is far from solipsistic , it is a philosophy/religion that focuses on the Self first and foremost, then Others. So both quotes you mention, from Buddhist lens (whether Tibetan , Indian, Zen, Chinese, SE Asian, hell even now American Buddhism) begins first with the Self (to say otherwise would be un-Buddhist).

        chemp, feel free to jump in here re Chinese Buddhism.

        “1.4. The Marine Corps is one of your object constructs. It forms one your Loyalty Triangles. And how would you describe the way you interact with this construct? Do not the abstractions of loyalty, honor, and duty describe your actions? Take any action you perform with them: is that action not one of loyalty, honor, or duty?”

        The way we use these words, IMHO is virtuous (generally, but it can also be used ala Col. Jessup, plenty of real life examples of that use) ; but like you’ve mentioned i’ve seen these words used viciously also , familial; tribal; clan; illicit organizations; etc.

        For example (this quote below in the context of the play/film),

        Was his Loyalty Triangle Vice or Virtue?

        • Edgar Lores says:

          1. Thank you for acknowledging the basic truthfulness of the concept of the Loyalty Triangle. There is almost nothing in these concepts that can be said as “too abstract.”

          1.1. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. I invite you to examine your actions with respect to the Marine Corp. I think you will find that each action can be categorized as one of loyalty, honor, or duty. Analyze it.

          2. There are many interpretations of Buddhism. To say that Buddhism starts with Self is in contradiction to the central concept of No Self.

          2.1. For me, the discussion on Buddhism is a distraction in the context of the essay. I would love to discuss it on another day. But not today.

          3. I think I have made it pretty clear that a Loyalty Triangle is either a vice or a virtue depending on the construct from which it is seen.

          3.1. Can it be in-between? Yes, I would say so if two or more interrelated Triangles harmonize. The Family Triangle can harmonize with the Nation Triangle if the acts of loyalty, honor, and duty are properly paid to each respectively. Not that the acts are necessarily contained separately within each Triangle. The act of duty of providing for the family in a regular job is also the act of duty of paying taxes to the nation. Well, in fact, it is not in-between but virtuous in both cases.

          3.2. I am sure there are neutral acts, acts that are neither vice nor virtue. At the moment, I cannot think of one. Blinking moistens the eyes. Scratching eases an itch. Laughing relaxes one. Twiddling a thumb exercises certain muscles and can be relaxing. All these are healthy acts.

          3.3. I guess an in-between act would be one that happens in one Triangle but does not impact another Triangle. Twiddling my toe, for instance. How does that affect the nation? But then there is Chaos theory and the butterfly effect.

          • “2. There are many interpretations of Buddhism. To say that Buddhism starts with Self is in contradiction to the central concept of No Self.”

            EXACTLY, edgar! and the only path to NO SELF is thru Self… ie. it is a very internal philosophy/religion (salvation by belief; salvation by works; salvation by austerity… austerity is the closest to NO SELF via self , St. Francis of Assisi for example).

            But you’re right that’s all Buddhism now, though pertinent still.

            As for the Marine Corps , it’s akin to dying a thousand cuts with these slide shows/Power Point for us, hence my bias against too much abstractions,

            but in the end, all these words are in fact abstractions, until they are mimicked and lived and copied and replicated and made theirs/yours, etc. etc.

            so in the Marines, you actually meet people who exhibit moral courage and such; and speak truth to power; and mentor , who take these words/abstractions from the realm of forms to actual stuff lived and seen by individuals.

            That, I think is more to Ireneo’s point, about Western values only half-assed pursued and understood over there. Where as in the Marines, we have this institutional knowledge that spans 2 centuries, even harkening back to the ancient Greeks (again Ireneo’s Western values).

            So you are right, for us it is very much an exercise (something real and tangible) and not just theory, abstractions. These words aren’t just a punchline for us.

            The question is how to connect clouds to the ground? For us there’s bootcamp and mentors and institutionalized knowledge/traditions, there is an actual process.

            • There you go again with your clouds and ground metaphor. Do you really believe that TSH is an ivory tower? Are we just spouting theories here? Are we not disseminating knowledge, an act called teaching? Are we not tolerant of diversity, respectful of others and speak truth to power, practices called behavior modelling? There is an actual process going on here, in case you did not notice.

              • JP, so what’s the process to instill these virtues and dissuade these vices (so prevalent in the Philippines)?

              • Did you read my comment before you jump the gun? Why not answer my questions first before asking me a question?

              • JP, I’m not bringing up something new here. At issue is this…

                Ireneo: “the normative discourse is not working at all between masa and elite. Quick fixes on one side, not enough awareness of ground-level reality (maybe) on the other.”

                Hence the importance in bridging this gap. The actual process, not just high falutin’ stuff.

                You can answer your own questions, JP, they are in fact obvious (i read them as hypotheticals in fact). I don’t doubt that edgar’s articles are great and fun to read (i’m a big fan, myself, hence I never fail to poke and prod, though not lately, squeeze the juice sorta speak, because it’s IMHO worth the squeeze, worth my time and effort), but the C-D-E crowd over there (Ireneo’s masa) will think it high falutin’.

                That’s why it’s important to describe the process. Bring the clouds to the ground. Why this line of questioning is offensive I don’t know why, JP. These are fair questions I’m asking.

              • Edgar Lores says:

                Bring the clouds to the ground? Are you understanding or not?

              • edgar, in this particular installment (as opposed to moral/immoral/amoral talk) the process is what I’m getting at here. 😉

    • NHerrera says:

      Enjoying the discussion so far between you, Lance, and edgar.

      • Glad you’re enjoying, NH. Just don’t call it a Come Back. 😉

        • karlgarcia says:

          Hey Mister, we missed you but you are overdoing it again.

          • Chief Tanod is due for a raise at the end of the year. Exemplary performance in the line of duty.

            • Edgar Lores says:

              Ahaha! We need a sergeant-at-arms, do we?

              • Having one is a tangible, absolute, undeniable virtue.

              • Edgar Lores says:

                True. But I would rather have a true spirit of inquiry, sharing, and learning. Such a spirit would engender an attitude of respect for others and for self. With none of the egoic calisthenics.

              • Me, too, and I’d also like a blog where people strive to agree rather than disagree. But people have needs and interests and they often don’t align with what you or I prefer. Karl has a keen sense of propriety, and we also need to respect that I have placed the responsibility of keeping the site true and fair on his shoulders. I agree with him. When the conversation becomes three-line sniping back and forth, y’all need to be reminded that there are other readers and a universe to caretake.

              • Edgar Lores says:

                I do not mind other needs and interests. I do not expect that these should align with mine.

                Having said that, I do mind disrespect. If the need of a person requires the show of disrespect to prove whatever, then he should grow up.

              • karlgarcia says:


                Point of clarification.
                Before apologizing, do I have to apologize for anything?
                Was I being an egoist doing calisthenics?
                Just tell me I am listening.

              • Edgar Lores says:

                Karl, I like you. There is nothing to apologize for. No, you were not being an egoist doing calisthenics.

                You are very strong and, when necessary, you speak your mind. Directly and honestly. And you have an uncommon moral sensitivity. I wish that people had your sensitivity.

              • karlgarcia says:

                OK,thanks. I could have outranked lance corporal by being a sergeant of sorts hehe

      • chemrock says:

        Me too. Arms akimbo.

        • A Sergeant-At-Arms would definitely out-rank a lowly LCpl, karl!

          Though i’m less familiar with this rank, though I know the Army has ’em. In the Marines, we have MPs (Military Police) and when we’re under the Navy side, it’s the Shore Patrol we have to deal with, on ship it’s the Master-At-Arms (who’s also head of the Shore Patrol on port), but mostly as I understand his main duties on ship is Damage Control— in a manner of speaking you are doing damage control, which is fine.

          But i do agree, also with edgar, that there has to be true inquiry ( and questions not automatically interpreted as offense). Or maybe he and Wil can do a partnered article where edgar writes his Ivory Tower stuff and then Wil can translate to the masa.

          Essentially the question I am asking is a difficult one, and edgar knows it.

          If you read that Col. Jessup quote above (or watch that scene on youtube) , it reads like edgar’s sentiment, on paper everything looks good, even virtuous. But if you remember the film (it was a play first) , Jessup justified the killing of another thru said code. Now realistically the Marines, flag officers don’t get involved in petty stuff, but there are Col. Jessups among the NCOs and Staff NCOs and junior to field officers— though these days JAG and new rules to protect the lesser guys are now prominently displayed, but people still get hurt or seriously injured, that’s the military for ya.

          So on the ground is different from the clouds. I’m sure Philippine politics is the same. But back to the Marines.

          From their perspective , they have to keep things in line, in order and with discipline. It’s a fine line. Thus that Col. Jessup quote you’ll see framed in many Marine offices and hallways in living quarters. But most Marines read it, see Jack Nicholson (cool, it’s Jack) and think nothing of what edgar essentially has written here , the Ethics of said sentiments and the fine and even slippery slopes they engender.

          We use the words Vice and Virtue, not so much for Wrong and Right, but because we as humans (whether or not whales, dolphins and primates can do it too, i dunno) can pick and choose which behaviour we prefer and label as such, either Vice and Virtue, or vice-versa (and edgar wrote on this above). But edgar himself knows he’s got his own biases as to which behaviour he labels Vice or Virtue. So do the individuals he’s described in the last paragraphs, hence all other Filipinos in the Philippines.

          edgar eschews , what essentially I’m describing about the plenty of Marines who espouse Col. Jessup’s sentiments. I know it’s discipline and a sense of order that’s the goal in said justification, and I myself have supported such actions (though nothing leading to anything serious, if anything most outcomes of “Code Red” type actions tend to be positive). So in my line of inquiry (ie. describe the process), I’m also asking edgar to understand (or at least outline his own understanding of it, which i’m sure is clouds based not ground based) the other side (the Vice) that plays out in the Philippines.

          Then the process of teasing out Virtue from Vice, how it’s done … based on what’s going on on the ground. Not what he understands it to be from such high perch.

          Like I said, it’s a very fair line of inquiry. whether edgar wants to address it of course it’s all up to him. But my point here, karl, is there’s no need for Damage Control really , these are hard questions, pointed even, but they’ll not sink the ship. 😉

          HMS Surprise

          • karlgarcia says:

            I first heard of sgt at arms in the classroom during primary or elementay school, it was a class officer position.
            But sgt at arms are the ones who keep order in the legislative body.
            Have you read he part were I said overdoing it?
            We need your comments in small doses or even in moderation.
            And STOP labeling Edgar or anyone here as Ivory tower.OK!?

            • LOL! You’re right, karl, Sgt at Arms is some sort of official legislative position. I thought it was some Army position, like Master at Arms.

              As for Ivory Tower, I meant it as descriptive and not offensive. Just like clouds isn’t meant to be offensive.

              • karlgarcia says:

                The problem is,my friend, those were meant as insults by who ever started them.
                How would we know that you have your own way of using words?
                That is where sensitivity comes in, anyways I don’t want to be lecturing( any further)
                I am usually long fused with you, because I am way past being short fused with you.
                Carry on soldier.

          • Edgar Lores says:

            1. I do not mind intelligent questions. I do mind the tone — pointed? — in which a question is asked.

            1.1. You will note that Juana and Karl are sensitive to tone. You should be aware yourself of your tone, your manner, and frame of mind, as you ask your pointed questions and present your thoughts. “Do I really want to learn here?” Or “Do I want to put down Edgar?” Or “This will impress everybody! Gee! I’m so learned!”

            2. I did not eschew the Jessup question. My answer was “3. I think I have made it pretty clear that a Loyalty Triangle is either a vice or a virtue depending on the construct from which it is seen.”

            2.1. This statement is incorrect: “Essentially the question I am asking is a difficult one, and edgar knows it.” I do not “know it” because I am not familiar with the moral dilemma. I have not seen the film.

            2.1.1. I have tried to read up about the film. Nothing seems to be straightforward. There are moral ambiguities in the situations and in the characters.

            2.2. Looking at the Jessup quote, he seems to be using the Utilitarian doctrine to justify whatever action he took. Generally, the military also primarily uses this doctrine. But there are always nuances in usage.

            2.2.1. Is the moral dilemma presented in the film a real-life dilemma? Or is it something made up, something in the clouds? The film itself is a work of fiction.

            2.3. I think my answer stands. I know you want an answer in absolute terms — virtue or vice. I guess being a military man, you will say virtue.

            2.3.2. Note: I am not saying that answers to moral questions are all relative.

            2.3.1. But you yourself are conflicted by the use of the Utilitarian doctrine with respect to drones.

            2.3.2. The answers are not easy. In some situations, they are; in others, not so.

            2.4. Perhaps you can write about the dilemma in the film? Or better still a real-life situation that encapsulates the dilemma in the film? Then we can discuss it… in a respectful and rational manner without the histrionics.

            • Ireneo: “the normative discourse is not working at all between masa and elite. Quick fixes on one side, not enough awareness of ground-level reality (maybe) on the other.”


              No need really to re-visit “A Few Good Men” then, I just assumed everyone’s seen it because Tom Cruise and Demi Moore’s in it and Jack Nickolson too.

              But the point to the inquiry is the same.

              here it is again, but re-stated by josephivo: “7- Referees are essential. Morality for an hermit makes little sense. Behavior if nobody cares is irrelevant.”

              edgar: “My essay is an attempt to be a guide for the few good referees.” So it is Ivory Tower stuff (to karl) , I’m not saying Ivory Tower is bad here, many good ideas came from up in the clouds , as well as down on the ground.

              And it’s fine if your audience are these “good referees” , folks atuned to you no doubt (which I’m defining here as A-B folks over there), but I’m more interested in how Ireneo’s masa C-D-E can also be “guided”.

              I’m using the Marines here since we too are hierarchical, but forget “A Few Good Man” (if you’ve not seen it, though i highly recommended it 😉 ) , just focus on the C-D-E crowd and how all this can guide them, what’s the process?

              as for the tone of the questions, i’m simply prodding more where Ireneo and josephivo have left off, maybe it’s the passion frothing forth or the directness or the persistence (or just excited to be back here 😉 ), but I assure you edgar I don’t mean any offence ,

              tone’s really hard to clarify online, but rest assured I’ve not turned a new leaf since my 1+ month hiatus on here, my questions have and will always be pointy, that I can’t change. So forget about tone.

              • When you use a common term like ‘ivory tower’, you might consider that readers are not inside your mind, and there are popular takeaways that most people use that do consider the label a put-down. That you, after the fact, re-define it as neutral does not take away the original impact, which was not neutral. Best not to use the term if you have to redefine it, which then layers another layer of sand and obfuscation and distraction over the discussion.

              • I would add that four people have spoken to you about the manner of your writing, me, Juana, Edgar, and Karl. Yet you persist to defend and deflect. Corporal, I fear you are not listening.

              • Joe,

                you christened me Chief Troll for a reason; sure me and the Chief Tanod might cross streams (ie. Ghost Busters),

                BUT 99% of the time, me and karl get along really well (right , karl?)

                As for edgar, he’s an academic, and i’m sure appreciates direct questions (unfluffed). Though he’s correct, his last comment, that my line of inquiry is beyond the scope here. So I think either way, the thread has concluded, Joe.

              • For two Chiefdoms that should be at odds all the time, that’s quite an accomplishment, Joe! Though all credit should go to karl.

              • Edgar Lores says:

                Why the insistence on Ivory tower? Are you aware that when one uses the term within the context of the essay that it is a form of denial?

                When I say “guide,” I do not necessarily mean it as a step-by-step procedure. I mean it as a help in understanding (a) an overview of ethics; (b) the various systems of ethics; and (c) the process of our moral nature under a proposed Virtual Ethics model. That is exactly what I have written.

                This knowledge is not confined to an elite.

                What you are asking is another essay (or book) on educating “Irineo’s masa C-D-E.” If you have read the essay in its entirety — and understood it — you would know that is not within its purview.

                Quite simply: Why do you insist on directing the traffic? And going off on a side road?

                Off topics are allowed — and educational and entertaining — but not something like the scope of what you are suggesting. Your suggested topic would fall under adjusting what I call “conditioned morality” — refer to item 1.2 in my reply to Joseph.

                I agree it is an interesting and crucial topic. But it would be a huge task to address such a humongous topic and one that I am not prepared to undertake. The general answer seems to be education — unless we take up NHerrera’s suggestion of razing everything to the ground — and I have made some small suggestions pertaining to education within the discussion thread:


          • Edgar Lores says:

            I would add, the Jessup dilemma does not fall squarely under Virtue Ethics. I think it primarily falls under Utilitarianism, although there are overlaps. But as a specific example of a moral dilemma, it is a case of Applied Ethics.

            • So it’s beyond the scope of this article, hence out of line?

              • Edgar Lores says:

                No, it is not out of line. I did give an answer, but I did not know the essence of the dilemma. So I gave a general answer.

                You may summarize the ethical dilemma and pose the question. Or wait for Part 2 where, because of its perceived difficulty, the dilemma might be better understood. Even so, I am not sure that there will be a perfect moral answer. Many moral dilemmas are like that.

              • Fair enough, edgar. I’ll await for Part 2 and continue on there, maybe pose more examples to simplify points further.

                As a matter of house-keeping. I didn’t pose Ivory Tower first, JP did (above). But I concede it’s right up there with high falutin’ and cloud based theories i’ve mentioned before.

                “Off topics are allowed — and educational and entertaining — but not something like the scope of what you are suggesting. Your suggested topic would fall under adjusting what I call “conditioned morality” — refer to item 1.2 in my reply to Joseph.”

                Thank you. I guess I’m focused on your “base morality” vis-a-vis Ireneo’s masa (C-D-E crowd), and how to achieve a modicum of conditioning, ie. my inquiry on process.

                See you in Part 2 then, edgar. 🙂

              • Edgar Lores says:


                Base morality is innate. We are equipped with it before we are conditioned by culture. So the base morality of all social classes would be the same.

              • edgar,

                If i failed to thank you for this article, that was implied— I hope this long thread proves how much I liked it! 😉 I love this Ethics stuff!!! Looking forward to Part 2.

            • Micha says:

              @Lance Corporal

              The masa, such as they are, are also capable of and have the potential to adopt moral codes, but because they must first, of necessity, met the lower rungs of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, their morality is basically atuned or is adapted to the meeting of those needs.

              So while you are right to point out that edgar is (sort of) idealizing the prescription of moral behavior as if it can be applied uniformly across every level of economic caste or class, I do not think that there can actually be a formed process in which the masa can be egged or molded to acquire these idealized (cloud based?) moral patterns.

              As long as there is social atomization or economic polarization, our morality will always be guided by one overriding rule : every man for himself.

              The pathway to social decadence.

              • There has to be, Micha… otherwise what’s the point of the struggle?

                edgar and I may disagree (a lot) but at least we can agree that the juice is definitely worth the squeeze , that amid all this… some one, somewhere out there can, will, digest and make something of all this, these words, thus make improvements big or small.

                so whether formed or unformed process, there has to be. That’s our over-arching assumption here. Otherwise we are all wasting our time here.

                “every man for himself”, was what I was getting at with chimps, baboons and geladas , but like edgar’s “virtiums” below , i don’t think “every man for himself” necessarily leads to social decadence. Buddhism’s Self first, towards NO SELF is one notion, I myself am a big proponent of individualism and self-dependence , DIY/autodidacy (especially in this age of Google), “every man for himself” can be a virtue.

                Ayn Rand, I know you’ll hate, but I’ll add her on the pile too. 😉

                So i’m sure “every man for himself” can be used as central to this process , which I hope we can talk more about on Part 2 , Micha (and everyone else here). 😉 So see you then.

              • Micha says:

                You can impose the process, ala Duterte, but as in every impositions in times past, it is bound to fail. The problem is systemic not individualized. So while it is possible that some stray souls might be able to digest what hereabouts are being prescribed, you cannot expect a masa-wide collective transformation.

                Which brings me to your “every man for himself does not necessarily lead to social decadence”. Society is one aggregate whole. You atomize its members and you don’t have a society anymore.

                May Ayn Rand rest her soul in the deepest rung of Dante’s inferno.

              • Micha says:

                Selfishness can never be a virtue in the context of society – or at least a society that’s worth living into.

                Here’s a Simon Sinek lecture to emphasize the point.

              • No one’s gonna impose anything, formed or unformed process, Micha.

                And you’re equating selfishness and self-reliance , theyre not the same. Someone who’s self-reliant can/will still help others; someone who is selfish will not (such is the nature of selfishness).

              • Micha says:

                I agree, there should be no imposition from the top but the social structure must be built in such a way that mitigates economic divisions so that those masa will have the ability and the opportunity to imbibe what we are here desiring.

                To be self-reliant is to be selfish. Ayn Rand preached that the latter is a virtue. Present day corporate and political establishment (both parties, for sure) in the US have, in varying degrees, drank this socially toxic brew which explains, in part, the growing hatred and decadence.

              • sonny says:

                @ LC

                There has to be, Micha… otherwise what’s the point of the struggle?

                brings to mind Browning’s line:

                “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
                Or what’s a heaven for?” — from ‘Andrea Sarto’

              • “To be self-reliant is to be selfish.”

                It depends how you’re defining selfishness, Micha , a person who doesn’t share, doesn’t help, or isn’t involved in his neighborhood/community is selfish.

                Self-reliant folks can still do all the above, yet still be self-reliant; selfish people again by definition do not, or cannot.

                But take the opposite of self-reliance, over co-dependence, or simply dependence, you have welfare state as example, police state (much like your Davao scene, but pretty much the Middle East), then you get familial over-dependence (Philippines), then tribal, and clans (Africa; Middle East, South Asia)

                Sure, for example East Asia, co-dependence/dependence can engender a common goal easily, but you’ll not find much original thinking going on, hence more philosophers from the West, than East Asia, while almost zero to none in SE Asia (remember we asked who the new Filipino philosophers were, and crickets).

                Sony was what brought Japan to power , post WWII and it was simply miniaturization , much of their technology was from Bell labs ; then Japan went down and S. Korea essentially just made cheaper widgets to sell thus under cutting Japan ; We’ll see what China comes up with , but if you notice nothing really new so far.

                We are still hovering around the iPod and iPad and iPhone, technology-wise. And that was American.

                Self-reliance , independent thinking, the ability to venture out on your own (without being seen as crazy or ostracized for doing so) is important for fostering new ideas and new ways of doing things. I’m not a fan of Ayn Rand, I agree with you what she’s espousing is selfishness (she was merely reacting to socialism in vogue during her time, me thinks),

                but there is a balance, whether one’s for dependency or independence , going too much to one side or the other is no good. I’m sure that you can agree with , Micha. But self-reliance like edgar’s virtiums can go both ways, you can be a self-reliant selfish hermit, separate and apart from the world;

                just as you can be a self-reliant urban dweller involved in the world and the people and animals in it.

                sonny ,

                Quotes like that deserve to be presented as a meme 😉 . Thanks!

  17. Edgar Lores says:

    Let me clarify and emphasize: the Three Primary Virtues are not in the clouds.

    I am not saying that the virtues are ideals to which we aspire. I am saying they are how we conduct our lives in reality.

    This is the reason why I have an alternative name for the concept of the Three Primary Virtues. And that is the Loyalty Triangle. When people see the word “virtue,” they immediately think it is something that is idealistic and not real. Not so.

    As I suggest and invite, examine what you do in relation to your object constructs.

    • Virtue (Latin: virtus) is moral excellence. A virtue is a trait or quality that is deemed to be morally good and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being. Personal virtues are characteristics valued as promoting collective and individual greatness. The opposite of virtue is vice.

      The ancient Romans used the Latin word “virtus” (derived from “vir”, their word for “man”) to refer to all of the “excellent qualities of men”, including “physical strength, valorous conduct, and moral rectitude.”

      edgar, so Virtue is essentially manliness, whatever that means. it’ll be different for different cultures, times, climes and place.

      Let’s test your Loyalty Triangle on primates to see if indeed it surpasses “manliness”, thus proving that Loyalty, Honor & Duty are in fact not human constructs, but natural state of being— “in reality”.

      Loyalty— chimps will fight for their troop, chimps have favorites within the troop; lesser males will also cajole top females from alpha males to have a fling or two; “teen-age” males separate from the troop, thus forming their all-male group, loyalties shift.

      Honor— baboons are the most honest of the primates, IMHO; they’re social but at the same time also resemble something like a pack of wolves. but even the most primal of primates, you’ll still see a lesser male be able to cajole a top female for a fling.

      Duty— the most dutiful would be geladas (similar/related to baboons), they act like meerkats almost since they forage like a herd, for grass. so they watch out for one another, dutifully making warning calls and looking up, basically keeping watch for the herd. but they too take time-out are known to have flings, wherein a lesser male will cajole a top female to bump uglies. 🙂

      My point, these are human constructs (thus abstractions), in the end we’re all primates, not so different from other primates, edgar.

      Hence the need to transfer all these abstractions to actual tangible behaviour (learned, taught), if you can teach chimps, baboons & geladas to be Loyal, Honorable & Dutiful , then you’ll have something, but until then this is all clouds,

      talk more on the process of actually making people, Loyal, Honorable & Dutiful. not just in theory but in practice. What is the process, edgar? 😉

      • Edgar Lores says:

        Thank you. You have confirmed my thesis that the Loyalty Triangle is a natural phenomenon, occurring not only in humans but also in other species.

        Abstractions, in this case, are how we describe a natural phenomenon.

        • “Thank you. You have confirmed my thesis that the Loyalty Triangle is a natural phenomenon, occurring not only in humans but also in other species.”

          If cheating occurs in all species, how was your Loyalty Triangle confirmed, edgar? Pls. ‘splain. 😉

          • Edgar Lores says:

            Remember, the virtue is also a vice.

            • NHerrera says:

              Hah. Have we gone full circle? Meantime an off topic break.

              We in the PH is ahead of the Game of Trend Setting.

              About two months ago the Chief of Staff of the Bureau of Customs called House Speaker Alvarez an ‘imbecile.’

              Now the US Secretary of State Tillerson reportedly called President Trump a ‘moron.’

              I am not questioning the validity of those statements. I am just noticing a Sympathetic Vibration across the Pacific Ocean.

              • Trump and Tillerson are types that call others moron, so maybe even calling each other morons; so what’s offensive to our ears, is something virtuous to theirs (ie. I respect a man that can call me a moron). New Yorkers, or generally folks from the Northeast, liked disparaging each other as habit (Californians are much nicer 😉 ).

                I think though for Filipinos , the concept of thin skinned would apply hence ‘imbecile’ would be more a vice than virtue (honest criticism).

            • “I am not saying that the virtues are ideals to which we aspire. I am saying they are how we conduct our lives in reality.”

              So why call it virtue, if essentially you’re talking about the laws of nature (vice and virtue, the good and the bad, all mixed together), thus cheating is perfectly acceptable as part and parcel of this thing we call survival.

              Maybe i’m just stuck on definitions here, edgar. BUT essentially, you’re just touting Machiavelli then?

              • But rather only preferring the Love portion of the equation above?

              • Edgar Lores says:

                Sorry, you have had your chance at the bat.

                Have you examined your acts as I have suggested?

              • “Have you examined your acts as I have suggested?”

                I did you one better, edgar, I offered you chimps, baboons and geladas!!! 😉 Which led to Machiavelli.

              • Edgar Lores says:

                Yes, you did and you confirmed my thesis.

                Now it is time for you to convince yourself… or not. I have exceeded my prime purpose of helping you.

              • “Yes, you did and you confirmed my thesis.”

                Again, how so? How did my chimps and baboons and geladas confirm your thesis? Unless this whole exercise/essay was simply about the Laws of Nature (of the Animal Kingdom variety), wherein virtue/vice become synonymous , ambiguous and fluid.

                Isn’t that the opposite of confirming, edgar? Pls. ‘splain.

  18. Sup says:

    Are you sure Mocha that your Facebook is private??


    In view of the letter of request of Undersecretary Alain Del Pascua, DepEd Central Office dated March 1, 2017 re: Request for All E-mail addresses & Facebook Accounts of Principals and Supervisors in Region IV A, please accomplished the Google Form using the link on or before March 3, 2017.

    Attached is the copy of the said letter request. For your immediate compliance.
    Immediate and wide dissemination of this memorandum is earnestly desired.

    0930 – Memorandum-MAR-02-17-071.pdf

  19. madlanglupa says:

    What’s this, the Presidential punching bag?

  20. Sup says:

    Negative Economic Data Available

  21. Sup says:

    What do they feed those people?

    21 hrs ·

    ”Nice one Sec. Alan Peter Cayetano!

    Like and share this video kung sa tingin nyo na butata yung kausap ni Cayetano sa video!

    Huwag kalimutang i Like ang page na ito. Salamat!

    Courtesy by UpFront/Al Jazeera

    All the rights of the video is not belong to WitBloc. It belongs to UpFront/Al Jazeera.”

    106 thousand comments (Almost all pro Cayetano)
    94 thousand shares

  22. Sup says:

    My scroll finger hurts again since 2 days.

  23. cha says:

    I so love that first paragraph:

    “The moral landscape is a wasteland. Whether in the cities or in the country, there are no green trees of rectitude, no flowering plants of virtues, no unbroken fences of decency.”

    And then again, I love this even more :

    “And the first understanding required of us is to recognize that the wasteland is not only out there. It is also inside us.”

    I was fluffing up the pillow, propped the back with it, and prepared to be transported into and transformed by a world conjured by the creative imaginings and authentic soul-searching of a favourite writer.

    And then he lists down “three main areas of study” within Ethics, and I knew I had to bring out the dictionary, thesaurus, and cue Google instead. 😊

    Thank you Edgar Lores, you beautiful mind you, for this weekend’s cerebral work-out.

    (Will post some personal reflections separately.)

    • Sup says:

      Are we witnessing soon the first virtual wedding between Cha and Edgar here in the TSOH?


    • Edgar Lores says:

      I don’t know why I strive not to say thank you. Perhaps because it would mean that “I” made this. I have this notion that this does not come purely from personal effort but from I do not know where. From the Akasha, maybe. Heh heh.

      I do take responsibility for every word. I just worry that I have not transcribed the words and the concepts faithfully.

      I await the further reflections with anticipation… if not with trepidation.

  24. cha says:

    On the Primary Virtues

    Loyalty, Honor, and Duty we consider virtuous for relationships founded on love and trust and those dedicated to a worthy cause or service. But what about when the relationships are formed out of common vested interests, or any other sinister, criminal or evil intent; what shall we call the other side of virtue?

    It’s interesting how the Mafia and most other criminal organisations actually prize those same 3 values as say the military and, in olden times, among the noble Knights . I do wonder if because of man’s increased understanding of our own nature, behaviours and motivations as well as our recognition and realisation of our ability to use this knowledge for not so honourable intentions, have we actually brought those 3 virtues into actual disrepute? Blind loyalty, honor among thieves, warfare as a Call of Duty – haven’t we become increasingly cynical and disillusioned in how we approach those 3 virtues? (Maybe the answer is in your Part 2 of this essay?)

    In a “circle of common interests” (as against the Circle of Love and Trust) , doesn’t respect and reverence for one another return influence and personal benefits instead of mere gratitude and kindness? Or at least, isn’t that the desired end? How does one break up such a circle? How does one turn off the tap from which flows this relationship’s rewards? I have a feeling the answer to this will be in Part 2.

    • “Blind loyalty, honor among thieves, warfare as a Call of Duty – haven’t we become increasingly cynical and disillusioned in how we approach those 3 virtues?”

      I like this particularly, cha. The cynicism and disillusionment comes IMHO from not being on the ground much, josephivo‘s “Morality for an hermit makes little sense”, he’s not dirtied on the ground, thus will tend to have a skewed view from those on the ground— either too optimistic or cynical/disillusioned, both sides of the spectrum.

      As antidote to the cynical and disillusioned, I’ve always found this quote helpful,

      To the too optimistic, well… the ground.

      • lindrell says:

        What can I say Edgar ? You are a man of FEW words, but you make a LOT of people THINK ☀☀☀

        • Edgar Lores says:

          Lindrell, thanks. Many would dispute “few words.” The essay is close to 4,000 words long. But as you imply I am a quiet man, so I try to make up for it when JoeAm gives me the chance. 🙂

  25. andrewlim8 says:

    That Al-Jazeera interview with Cayetano was like science (Al Jazeera journalist) vs superstition (Cayetano).

    “If the myth of a flat earth could help Duterte stay in power, Cayetano would believe in it and propagate it.” – wise philosopher

  26. Edgar Lores says:

    1. The qualities we speak of fall under Virtue Ethics. The qualities can be either virtues or vices.

    1.1. A quality can be like a coin with an obverse (heads) and reverse (tails) side. A single object, two aspects.

    1.2. Virtue comes from the Latin “virtus,” vice from “vitium.” If we had to coin a word for a quality that can be a vice or a virtue, I would suggest “virtium.”

    1.3. So loyalty, honor, and duty are virtiums.

    2. Virtiums are as old as men. Even the noble knights betrayed, dishonored, and disobeyed.

    3. You are correct. There are “circles of common interests.” These would be “circles of trust” but not “circles of love and trust.”

    3.1. The virtiums would be the same in both circles.

    4. Let us forget the diagram for a moment. I have not gone deeply into the Circle(s) before as I was focused on the dynamics of the Triangle, but I would now say that respect, reverence, gratitude, and kindness are tokens within the Loyalty Triangle, not outside it. They are coins of exchanges.

    The following would apply to both types of circles.

    o Respect is a token of honor and duty. We respect our parents as a show of honor and duty. Usually, if we pay respect we get respect back. But this is not always the case. So respect can be uni-, bi- or multilateral.

    o Reverence is a higher quality of respect and, as such, is a token of honor. It is usually unilateral, from a subordinate to a superior. But between two lovers or among a mutual admiration society, reverence can be bi- or multilateral. With narcissists, it can be uni-.

    o Gratitude is also a token of honor and duty. We say “Thank you” as a social duty. More intimate forms of gratitude would be tokens of honor – just like reverence. And like reverence, gratitude is usually unilateral.

    o I think kindness is a token of honor. If it is seen as a duty, then it is not true kindness. Like respect, kindness is reciprocal, but is not always the case. Kindness can uni-, bi- or multilateral.

    4. Going to your influences and benefits, I see these similarly as tokens of honor and duty.

    o Influence is usually a trade. As such, I would classify it as a duty. You do this for me and I’ll do that for you. Hmm. A parent usually influences a child to be good. Does the child influence the parent in return? Yes, to buy that special toy. But we are cautioned not to bribe our children. So it can be uni-, bi- or multilateral.

    o Benefits are also usually a trade. Like influence, I would classify it as a duty. Unlike influence, it is usually bi- or multilateral. If it is uni-, then the Loyalty Triangle is likely to break down.

    5. The desired end is to have everybody within the Circle of Love and Trust. Ahaha! Yes, think big, you… you dreamer!

    5.1. The circles of common interests and of love and trusts have co-existed since the beginning. In Oz, we have the Underbelly of society.

    5.2. I tend to believe, absent proof, that there are several planes of existence. I think at our level, a universal Circle of Love and Trust is improbable (?). The aim of Part 2, very tangentially, is just to widen the Circle by enabling more rational moral decisions.

    5.3. The next level is Heaven and Hell or so we are led to believe. Obviously, these two deny the possibility of a universal Circle.

    5.4. But Heaven and Hell may be waystations. There may be, there is a higher plane where there are no dualities. Or so I hope.

  27. LCPL_X restated these:

    me: “the normative discourse is not working at all between masa and elite. Quick fixes on one side, not enough awareness of ground-level reality (maybe) on the other.”

    josephivo: “7- Referees are essential. Morality for an hermit makes little sense. Behavior if nobody cares is irrelevant.”

    …the referees are seen as biased to indifferent in the Philippines I think. Biased towards the respective other elite faction (impeachment of CJs Corona, Sereno and Ombudsmen Gutierrez, Carpio) and indifferent towards the masa (leave someone in jail for years without trial, an innocent man speaks of indifference, extreme indifference especially if you know how typical Filipino jails look like) or even corrupt/paid at so many levels. OR the rules are constantly being redefined/disputed, like with kids playing basketball – the Senate is an example, often the loudest in the discussion “wins”… hoy, hoy!

    +Micha and the masa not having Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs met. Of course. Berthold Brecht’s character McHeath (Mc the Knife) says in the Threepenny Opera “Erst kommt das Fressen und dann die Moral” – Eating (or Survival) comes before morals. Of course it is a cold-blooded killer who says it, but there is some truth to it. People in desperate circumstances may start to steal to get by, then they may sell their bodies, and it when you have already gotten dirty a bit the next step MAY be “easier”..

    …in German law there is the old idea of “Mundraub” (mouth theft) which is about stealing out of hunger. Probably motivated by Christian ideas of charity and humanity. Even in the 16th century the sentence was light for someone who just stole something on the market. In those times the poor were also easily put in jail and forgotten, or “disposed of” on places like the old Executioner’s Hill or Hangman’s Hill in old old Munich (I happened to be nearby yesterday and thought of their old purposes) which were on hills to keep the rotting smell of corpses on display from coming into the city.

    …but stealing out of hunger was lightly punished. I wonder if that is the case in the Philippines. In Turkey EVERY restaurant owner is obliged to provide a (simple) meal to anyone who says he is “para yok” (no money) out of Islamic ideas of charity – translated into law, I don’t know if this law is as old as the Ottomans or only was promulgated in Atatürks time. SO – getting the disadvantaged back into the fold means also NOT throwing the book at them in terms of law for minor infractions. NOW it is like they are even more the outcasts, put in jail for just drinking outside at night, ike in QC yesterday.

    a normative discourse would be like 1) what do we want to set as rules 2) how do we want to ensure that they are followed 3) who will ensure they are followed 4) how do we make sure they are fair (the referees) 5) how effective has our approach been … do we have to go back to 1,2,3 or 4 this time?

    • As for Jessup, he sounds very much like Duterte’s: “human rights can also destroy a nation”.

      When is breaking rules justified to make sure other rules are adhered to? HARD question.

      Bavaria for example was the first German state, postwar, to allow killing in police operations. BUT with the special limitation of a hostage taker endangering lives. Only sharpshooters were allowed to kill him with a headshot and the order to do so had to come from higher levels.

      This is akin to the drone discussion in falling under the category of a moral dilemma.

      Similar to free speech: where are its limits. LCPL_X has correctly seen that Germany has limits similar to those in Singapore – to prevent abuse of freedom to destroy freedom itself.

      • Some more examples of recent and older normative discourses in Germany:

        1) do you force Internet providers to keep records up the X in the past, by law? This was recently taken apart by the Federal Constitutional Court. Police are not so happy about this.

        2) do you allow facial recognition cameras using biometrics in public? There is a Berlin train station where they are testing this – with big signs warning people to stay within legality. Biometrics are a standard feature of new German (and EU?) passports/national IDs.

        3) do you allow spot checks on Autobahns, major roads and train stations after allowing open borders – so that police can still catch criminals and customs police can catch smugglers? Federal Police may do this as part of the laws passed in the time of the Schengen agreement.

        4) who is allowed to declare a state of emergency? In the 1960s, Allied powers told West Germany that a certain higher degree of sovereignty required that they pass own laws for a state of emergency. This was put on the heads of several institutions, not one institution.

        5) what if the state of emergency is misused? This is similar to the joke once told by Lenin that Germans will buy train tickets even if they capture a train for a revolution. There is a clause in the German constitution that allows resistance against those who go against democracy. Not useful in the moment it is used, I guess, but just in case someone goes to court afterwards. Those with mathematical background will like this, as the logical system becomes complete – human rights, democracy and social justice as axioms and the rest a theorems and lemmas.

        • Edgar Lores says:

          Love the last sentence. There are self-evident truths.

        • NHerrera says:


          Any two state-sanctioned or inspired human rights violations or points defines a dictatorship.

          Impunity is the shortest distance from a state-sanctioned killing or social injustice point to a democracy line.


          If there are no state-sanctioned human rights violation or social injustice, there is no dictatorship.


    • Edgar Lores says:

      1. Before 1950, I would say the normative discourse was conducted by religion. For Roman Catholics, it was not a discourse but an imposition of the Church’s deontological rules.

      2. Postmodernism shattered the religious discourse.

      3. Nowadays, the State conducts the normative discourse but the State is not doing a good job, especially in countries that are predominantly Catholic. Islam is still holding the line against apostasy, mostly because of its madrassas.

      4. Many people are leaving religion and becoming nones (no religion). What is worrying to me is the reason for apostasy. Are people leaving the church because they have thought the matter over and arrived at a “higher” level of morality — one that is independent of a God? Or are they leaving the church without any substitute code of morality.

      5. I remember the word you reminded me of — anomie defined as the “lack of the usual social or ethical standards in an individual or group.” We are in a state of anomie. It is the moral wasteland.

      6. In a democracy such as ours, using your outlined steps, the normative discourse falls like this:

      6.1. what do we want to set as rules – is a function of the Legislature
      6.2. how do we want to ensure that they are followed – the Legislature
      6.3. who will ensure they are followed – the Executive
      6.4. how do we make sure they are fair (the referees) – the Judiciary
      6.5. how effective has our approach been – nobody is checking
      6.6. do we have to go back to 1,2,3 or 4 this time? – nobody is monitoring

      7. In item 6.2, education, which is a part of the Executive, should take the lead in civic moral training. In the absence of such, the fallback is a corrupt-ridden culture. Hence, the gap between datuship and democracy. Hence, the amoral groupings of family, clan, and tribe.

      8. As I said, re-conditioning the culture, is a humongous task. What are the options?

      o A religious revival?
      o A Lee Kuan Yew?
      o A Meiji Restoration?
      o Or a German mathematical order?

      • Point 4: There seems to be a rise of mass amorality or singular personal morality that underpins everyone justifying his right to judge anyone else freely. Social media have removed restraints of guilt or its more positive brother, humility.

      • @Edgar: part 6 applied to EJK or whatever we call it:

        6.1. what do we want to set as rules – 16 million vote Duterte, who promises to “fatten fish”

        6.2. how do we want to ensure that they are followed – Duterte appoints Bato as PNP chief (!)

        6.3. who will ensure that they are followed – PNP together with barangays giving lists (?)

        6.4. how do we make sure they are fair – for Dutertians it seems “In Digong we Trust” (!)

        6.5. how effective has our approach been – Kian, Carl, Kulot and still many addicts, 1+ years

        6.6. do we have to go back to 1, 2, 3 or 4 this time. Now even Dutertians have mostly not thought at all beyond the trust in Duterte (6.4) many have taken back. Did they really believe that he could be omniscient over 7500 islands and 42K barangays? Have even a few thought of challenging the barangay drug lists? Barangay meetings with citizen participation were today – did people go, or are they afraid of getting on lists now? Does anyone think this all to the end – that EJKs don’t work because they lead to barbarism in the long run? I wonder.

        The PNP has now placed anonymous boxes so people can squeal. For people who refuse to realize they are on the wrong course, the solution is often “more of the same” until the end. When that end comes – after the “Endsieg” (final victory) for most Germans (Goebbels was, like Comical Ali, telling Germans about Wunderwaffen, wonder weapons that would secure the Endsieg, crazy stories about a special regiment, a shadow army to rescue the Reich etc.) – it is like a fantasy world breaking down. Narcissists (Hitler, Goebbels) choose to die.

        MAYBE before 6.1, there should be 6.0 (what do we want to prevent?)! The premise of 6.1.-6.6. in Duterte’s EJK or whatever case was that ordinary citizens were totally threatened by crime caused by drugs. First of all, how true was that if ever, second are the means proportional to what is being combatted. Proportionality of means is a basic concept in law and enforcement. Do you shoot or do you retreat if the suspect fights back? Often German police nowadays choose strategic retreat and call SWAT plus copters, not “tokhang + nanlaban”.

        • Back to “normative discourse”. 1950s makes me think of my father’s high school yearbook. Not any fancy private high school. Albay High School. But the words in the graduation yearbook sounded much like the vocabulary of the seniors here: sonny, NHerrera, Edgar.

          I would call those values “Philippine Republican” – a mix of Mabini, Quezon and US era memes which were the common value consensus. Thus, people APPLAUDED Magsaysay when he came to the help of Moises Padilla who was being tortured by goons of Governor Lacson, even if he came to late. They cheered even more his taking the bloodied body of Padilla to the police precinct and filing a case. How many NOW would cheer for Lacson and his goons?

          The goons and the warlords of the postwar period – from what I gather now a development due to the many guerillas of WW2. There were good and bad guerillas – and ugly ones also. But Magsaysay quelled the Huk uprising – and incentivized people going to Mindanao as well.

          The economy chugged in the 1950s and 1960s. People were impatient though, I think by now. Wanted quick wealth – like many today – but were annoyed by the drunks at the corner store. Of course Manila attracted winners and losers, the losers contributed to crime and disorder. Instead of looking for more even development, people wanted “action agad” – Marcos slogan. What happened is now history. Many of the pro-Marcos middle class turned yellow later on.

          Of course you have Filipinos from the middle class leaving, leaving, leaving – about a million during the Marcos period, many as well in the troubled years of Cory and Ramos who tried hard to fix stuff on an almost sunken ship. THESE PEOPLE were the bearers of the values I call “Philippine Republican”. Manong sonny and Manong Edgar are from two different batches of leavers. Then you have the commoners, the OFWs who went abroad starting in 1975.

          They did not really understand the “Philippine Republican” values – they usually saw ONLY their hypocritical distortion. Their Senator who had goons shoot their own relatives maybe while making great speeches in the Senate before 1972 or after 1986, who knows? The LP turncoat Representative now with the supermajority who did things in their province that permanently tarnished yellow for them? Some who left were also former goons and other riff-raff associated with the Marcos regime – people who saw patronage and violence as normal.

          So you have people who never knew about “Philippine Republican” values voting for someone who seemed to speak their language – Duterte – not fully getting that they had voted into power something Magsaysay exiled into the South back in the 1950s. Sometimes things come back, and I think the violent warlord culture that killed Moises Padilla remained virulent in Mindanao, while “Philippine Republican” values were barely revived after 1986. Where to go from there?

          • Edgar Lores says:

            Thanks for the Moises Padilla story. He was killed in 1951. Lacson and his henchmen received the death penalty in 1954. This was the year Dad brought us back to the Philippines from Hawaii.

          • sonny says:

            I can still remember the pictures on Manila Times front page, graphic pictures of the violence on Mr Padilla. I was in the elementary grades then. Pres Magsaysay was to meet his death on the plane named Mt Pinatubo sometime after.

        • Edgar Lores says:

          You have an interesting scenario there.

          The other way around is, after 6.1, to ask if the rules are fair BEFORE implementation. Twenty-six million did not vote for Duterte.

          I like the idea of proportionality. It is just.

      • sonny says:

        A most pithy dissection of morality: personal, public, political, and religious. So much to reflect on.

    • Oh, man! It’s like waking up Christmas morning! so much to read before coffee. Thanks all, especially Ireneo for pushing this normative discourse. Let me make coffee first. 😉

  28. karlgarcia says:

    “So as to the question whether I should be nicer to people on my personal blog, I do not think so. So instead of blaming me for what I say, maybe people should start to listen, because after all, [there’s] democracy,” he said.


    • Edgar Lores says:

      Absolute disgrace. So, too, is the provider of sinecures.

    • Signs of lack of accountability and maturity. Lack of accountability for failing to take responsibility in controlling his personal behavior and shifting the blame on others. Immaturity for thinking that democracy is boundless and limitless.

      Listen to the people first before asking them to listen to you. “Understand to be understood” is a timeless maxim.

  29. Duterte’s survey results are starting to plunge. The honeymoon is over?

    • Popularity remains high, but the trend is ominous for a government that must have a national mandate to do the extreme things they do. The dots:

      Dot 1: killings, economic trouble, gifting resources to China, martial law, coddling of drug lords, attacks on decent people . . . in short, chaos
      Dot 2: objections, louder and broader
      Dot 3: continued collapse of popularity
      Dot 4: incumbents rethink their position

      I think those who are engaged in the on line dialogue would be wise to focus on dot 4 to stop the impeachment complaints against Sereno and Morales. The huge outcry against the P1,000 budget for CHR ought to be even louder for the impeachments, as an insult to democracy and decency. I think even House loyalists are getting wobbly on their dedication to the President. If he loses the legislature, he loses everything.

  30. Edgar Lores says:

    In consideration of Cha’s input, I have updated the diagram of “The Three Primary Virtues.”

    The changes are:

    1. Retitled the “Circle of Love and Trust” to simply “Circle of Trust” to accommodate both love circles and common interest circles. These groups are now a subtitle.

    2. Inserted the title of “The Love Triangle” into the triangle.

    3. Removed the “As We Give” and “So We Receive” side panels. Replaced it with the “Tokens” panel.

    Thank you, Cha.

  31. @Edgar: excerpts from an interesting article:

    ..Modern political thought begins with Thomas Hobbes’ observation that citizens afford “justice and charity” to fellow citizens, but act with “deceit and violence” against others. The reason for the difference, he says, is that citizens have agreed among themselves to respect some higher authority to govern their relations to each other. In a republic, as Hannah Arendt says, that higher authority is not some person or group, but rather “the rule of law, resting on the power of the people.”

    This means that citizens of the Republic of the Philippines will afford justice and charity to each other only if we respect the higher authority of the Constitution that We as a People have enacted to govern our affairs. We, unfortunately, seldom think that way. When it comes to domestic politics, our attachment is not to the People, but to our smaller groups. That is usually fine in a pluralist democracy, unless the ultimate authority we respect is no longer the Constitution, but our own padrinos, clan heads, party leaders, etc. If so, then we would have justice and charity only within our factions, and deceit and violence against most others.

    We must thus all strive to enlarge each other’s political We. Our loyalty must be to We the People, and not to, e.g., We the Dutertards or We the Dilawan. But this suggested solution begs the question that all populists like Rodrigo Duterte raise: Does the present system truly reflect the will of the People? Or is it merely the product of a smaller We? As a Dutertard might say, is not our Constitution simply a Dilawan document? And if so, is not Mr. Duterte’s sustained popularity — despite his open disrespect of our constitutional ethos — a more authentic expression of the voice of We the People?

    Answering this requires more than invoking first principles (e.g., separation of powers, due process). The politics of authenticity is never resolved by a purely rational debate. Authenticity is rather more felt than understood. If constitutionalism is to withstand the siege of any populist, citizens must believe that they all partake in a single, collective We who respects the Constitution. They must also be able to place their hopes and dreams in the Constitution’s principles and institutions. Only when enough Filipinos make that leap of faith in our Constitution will its ethos become an integral part of our national identity: of who the Filipino People are, whence we came, whither we must go, and why respecting the law is the best way to get there.

    * * *

    Bryan Dennis Gabito Tiojanco is a JSD candidate at Yale Law School. He graduated cum laude from the University of the Philippines College of Law.

    • – ref my article on Hon. Imbecile Speaker Alvarez (assuming that the dripping sarcasm is clear to all)

      ..Kailan ba sumunod sa batas-batas lang ang taga-Mindanao? Sa tao sila sumusunod. Sa mga Misuari, Maute, Duterte. Ang batas dilaw. Ang batas bakla. Para lang iyon sa mga nagpasakop sa Kastila at Merkano. Ang tunay na batas ng Pilipino, sumunod sa nakakataas. Mataas si Alvarez..

      ..Tsaka ano ang silbi ng Konstitusyon na pagbabasehan ng Korte Suprema. Gawa-gawang dilawan iyan. Anong taon? 1987. Panahon pa ni Koring dilaw iyan. Kasisimula pa lang ng Alsa Masa. Bago pa lang si Mayor noon. Tagal na niyan. Bakit pa susundan kung ayaw na ng mga tunay na Pilipino. Sino ang mga ito? Siyempre tribo ni Duterte..

    • It is even educated people who can’t grasp the higher power and patriotic glue of the Constitution. I attribute a lot of it to the educational system that does not inspire self development, but fosters obedience and following instructions. So throughout school, kids are looking for someone to tell them what to do next. American’s dedication to the Constitution is taught in school, and the words mean something. Self determination and prosperity by applying oneself. Very different.

      • Having written that, I recall Bill’s remark that Americans can’t be granted credence because they are brainwashed by their educational system to be biased toward America. Yes, and that bias is a very profound energy.

        • I remember Bill of OZ once telling me Thomas Jefferson was just another bloke (or some Australian phrase), and I’m thinking WHAT?!!! which then precipitated a long tit-for-tat, albeit polite 😉

          Whether you stand, or place your hand over your heart, or i guess kneel (as is the fad now), whether you’re American or anti-American, Thomas Jefferson is not just some guy the rest of the world cares little for,

          I know America is perceived differently by non-Americans, but the founding Fathers, even Che Guevarra and Ho Chi Minh (having lived somewhere in the East Coast), credits having read and studied folks like Jefferson, Paine, Franklin, etc. etc.

          Joe Rizal read up on them, I’m sure, though I can’t find evidence via Google right now. So my point is the American Revolution and the blokes that caused it were kind of a big deal.

          With that said, Bill’s also right that our history books kinda suck big time , and tend to white wash, therein lies the danger too, but of a different variety separate from how AWESOME the Founding Fathers were 😉

    • Edgar Lores says:

      Irineo, thanks.

      It’s what we have been saying all along, isn’t it? That Filipinos do not know the Constitution.

      But it’s not a constitutional ethos that is lacking. Because some countries do not have a Consitution.

      I also question that Duterte’s sustained popularity is “a more authentic expression of the voice of We the People.” Because that popularity did not consist of an absolute majority at the polls and that popularity is waning as we speak.

      I am also not sure in the author’s saying that what we need is a “We the People” ethos. Although this is true as we have observed as well: “When it comes to domestic politics, our attachment is not to the People, but to our smaller groups.”

      Ethos is defined as “the characteristic spirit of a culture, era, or community as manifested in its attitudes and aspirations.”

      I believe we have a “We the People” ethos — in terms of identity. Over our tribal associations, we identify as Filipinos. Our attitudes and aspirations are similar. We love Filipino food. We love fun. We love our camaraderie. We want to be successful economically. And if that means working outside the country or migrating to another country, that’s fine.

      But despite all that similarity of attitudes and aspirations, there is something lacking. Call it a patriotic and nationalistic ethos. We have the mind of a Filipino but not the heart of a Filipino in the patriotic sense.

      In terms of the Loyalty Triangle, the country construct is just not there for us. Or it is there — but it does not command our loyalty, honor, or duty.

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  1. […] my essay “The Moral Landscape: Part 1 – The Three Primary Virtues,” I described a model of basic human interactions. [5] It was my thesis that the geometry of […]

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