The Third Morality

The Third Morality is a work by Gerald Heard, first published in 1937, now in the Public Domain.  Heard was a modern philosopher and author of more than 20 books. He was a close friend of Aldous Huxley and a co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Heard, among other spectacular activities, formed an informal research group to look into developing group-mindedness or group communications. The members of this group later became some early developers of the computer industry in California. One of Gerald Heard main interests was morality and The Third Morality is his take on modern morality. From the book:

This book is called the third Morality because in man’s history he has had three main moralities, three general ideas of conduct based on the three world-pictures he has so far made. The first world-picture, and its resultant morality, was Anthropomorphism, the belief that the universe was the expression of individual persons, and then of one such supreme person. The second world-picture was Mechanomorphism, the belief that the universe could be explained as a huge machine. Men have tried to act on that-for as you believe things to be, so you must try to behave but it has never worked. You cannot make a true morality from the belief that the universe is nothing but a machine.

Nevertheless, until this generation, Mechanomorphism has been the accepted world-picture, even among the religious, and the majority of men today are trying still to act in accordance with that picture, because they are sure that it is true. This attempt so to act-however inconsistent and however unethical must then be classified as the Second Morality. It is a Morality which has never really succeeded in functioning, but it must be recognized as a phase. The Third Morality is the gradually defining impress which is to-day beginning to be made by the third world-picture, that world-picture which is now taking the place of Mechanomorphism. The following essay attempts to trace in outline the conduct indicated to us by this third world-picture, that conduct which must finally take form as the Third Morality.

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 The Third Morality

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