Thursday, March 11, 2021

Test of “Morality”



Test of “Morality”

Ethical Musings





This story happened around 45 years ago in the 1970’s.

It was quite late in the night.

Our ship was in harbour – and – I was sitting in the Wardroom of my ship (a frontline warship – a frigate) – in a relaxed mood – enjoying my favourite after-dinner liqueur “digestif” – Bénédictine – while leisurely smoking my pipe – listening to some soothing music being played on the gramophone – yes – those days we had “record players” which played “records” – at 78 RPM, 45 RPM and 3313 RPM or 33 RPM (Long Playing Records).

Two of my shipmates entered the wardroom – discussing something quite animatedly – and this disturbed my serene “reverie”.

One of the shipmates had “broken up” with his girlfriend (in today’s parlance – he had “dumped” his girlfriend).

He had “dumped” his girlfriend because he wanted to marry the “back-home-type” girl his parents had chosen for him.

The other shipmate was reprimanding him for being a “coward”.

I looked at the shipmate who had “dumped” his girlfriend and asked him: “Tell me – how are you feeling after “dumping” your girlfriend…? Are you feeling good – or – are you feeling bad…?”

“I am feeling good…” he said, “In fact – I am feeling really relieved – yes – I am feeling good after “breaking up” with her…”

“If you are feeling good – then – what you have done is “moral”…” I said.

“What do you mean…?” the other shipmate said, “he had a “good time” with her and then he “dumped” her. How can you say that what he has done is “moral”…?”

“Well – you may do something that seems “immoral” in the eyes of the world – but – if you feel good after doing it – then for you – it is “moral”…” I said, “since he feels good after “dumping” his girlfriend – for him – it is “moral” – even if you may think otherwise…”

“Your theory on “morality” is all bullshit…” he said.

“It is not my theory…” I said, “it is a quote by Ernest Hemingway: “What is moral is what you feel good after – and what is immoral is what you feel bad after…”



“So far, about morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.”

― Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon

(This quote about morality is from Chapter 1 of the book “Death in the Afternoon” by Ernest Hemingway. Death in the Afternoon, originally published in 1932, is a non-fiction book by Ernest Hemingway about the ceremony and traditions of Spanish Bullfighting. The book delves into the grandeur of bullfighting and contemplates on the nature of fear and courage)



Sometimes you do something – and – you wonder if what you did was “moral”.

Like me – you too must have received many “sermons” and read many “pontifications” on the subject of “morality” – but – the above quote about “morals” by Nobel Laureate Ernest Hemingway is my favourite definition of “what is moral” – and – I found it in literature.

(in fact – I have learnt most of my philosophy of life via literature).

Morality is not always absolute – moral issues often differ along cultural lines – and – from person to person – and also from situation to situation.

In a nutshell – if you feel good after doing something – for you – it is “moral” – even if it may seem otherwise in the eyes of other people.

Conversely – if you feel bad after doing something – for you – it is “immoral” – even if other people think otherwise.

In my opinion – this is the “test” of “morality”.


Dear Reader – do you agree…? Please comment at tell us your views.



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1. This story is a spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. All Stories in this Blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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