Liberal Arts Blog — Means, Moderation, and Morality: What Should We Teach Our Kids K-12?
Liberal Arts Blog — Monday is the Joy of Math, Statistics, Shapes, and Numbers Day
Today’s topic — Means, Moderation, and Morality: What Should We Teach Our Kids K-12?
What is the math of morality? What is the math of the right thing to do? Is it about finding the “golden mean” between extremes? About finding unanimity? Is it all about proportionality? Is it about majority rule? Or is math irrelevant to the whole morality thing? Experts — please chime in Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
MUHAMMED, THE UMMAH, AND IJMAH
1. One of the most famous of the “hadith” (the sayings of Muhammad) is that my community “Ummah” will never agree upon an error.” This is referred to as the “Ijmah.”
2. But does “ummah” refer to a particular set of scholars or the global Muslim community? Is there an analogy here with the Western secular concept of the “people”? Who’s in? Who’s out? What’s the math? What’s the math of “whiteness”? blackness? Non-white ness?
3. Does “agreement” mean unanimity or something less than that?
NB: “Various schools of thought within Islamic jurisprudence may define this consensus to be that of the first generation of Muslims only; or the consensus of the first three generations of Muslims; or the consensus of the jurists and scholars of the Muslim world, or scholarly consensus; or the consensus of all the Muslim world, both scholars and laymen. Sunni Muslims regard ijmā’ as the third fundamental source of Sharia law, after the Quran, and the Sunnah. The opposite of ijma (i.e., lack of consensus on a point of Islamic law) is called iktilaf.”
THE WISDOM OF THE ANCIENT GREEKS: “Moderation in all things.” (“Meden Agan”)
1. That is, nothing in excess. It’s about finding balance.
2. Think about finding the golden mean.
3. Think, by analogy, homeostasis as a condition for life.
NB: Think the metaphor of the scales of justice. Just stone inscriptions at the Temple of Delphi: Know thyself. Moderation in all things.
BECAUSE YOU ARE NEITHER HOT NOR COLD I WILL VOMIT YOU FROM MY MOUTH — Revelation 3:16
1. Moderation does not always get top billing in the world’s great scriptures.
2. For every hymn of peace, love, and understanding there is a companion text, a flip side, a dark side.
3. The yang is the light side, the yin is the dark side.
NB: Is compromise inherently good? or inherently bad? are you a purist? Why? Why not? Is it time to cleanse the temple?
CONCLUSION: so are you for the filibuster or not? super-majorities? pluralities? when and where? is the Supreme Court “rule of five” a great tradition or a big mistake? Is proportional representation the “sine qua non” of justice ((ie. essential to it) ? Is facing the math essential to both personal and political ethics? What ethical math should be taught in elementary school? middle school? high school? Are “checks and balances” good things to be revered, cherished and celebrated? or swept away in the spring cleaning of history?
Last three years of posts organized thematically:
Please share the coolest thing you learned this week related to math, statistics, or numbers in general. Or, even better, the coolest or most important thing you learned in your life related to math.
This is your chance to make someone else’s day. And to consolidate in your memory something you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought