This is strong stuff. It borders not only on heresy, but also on the brink of irrespon-sibility, and has within it more than a twinge of the crackpot. How, one may ask, can one take evidence such as has been cited, twist if full around, and come out with the bad as good, the immoral as a sign of health, and the unethical as a sign of growth? And, one may ask, isnít this a rather extraordinary manipulation of data, or perhaps even a highly irresponsible and dangerous distortion of fact? How can one do this? The answer is simple. One can work from a different set of premises, because it may not be necessary to subscribe to only one set of premises when attempting to understand the behavior in question. Within the premises of young people what is being said is indeed a distortion, and within their premises what is being said may be a reprehensible and reproachable analysis.

But since there are other premises upon which understanding might be based, we can question whether it is wise to stay only within the customary frame if reference when interpreting the behavior under consideration.

The conclusion that todayís behavior is immoral and unethical is, as I see it, based on a premise consisting of three parts:

    1. That a sound system of ethics has existed.
    2. That this system of ethics was composed of good values.
    3. That the values making up this system are the prime tenets by which man should live.

Within this three part premise it follows logically, that the behavior does not demonstrate these values, and that man is acting in a most improper, immoral and unethical fashion. But, it is possible we should hold this premise suspect and it is possible that there may be more than what most people see in the kind of behavior now called immoral.

If by now our opinions differ, probably it is because of our premises. There is no denying that basic ethical systems have existed, nor that values have stemmed from them. But from another angle of observation, we can question that a sound system of ethics composed of a fine set of values has operated in manís time on earth, and from another angle of observation one would have to doubt the permanent worth of some of the values which have been a part of ethical systems by which man has lived.

For purposes of discussion, let this position be posed: (a) That the data of history do not support the premise that a sound system of ethics has existed. (b) That a different frame of reference allows one to interpret the behavior, distressing so many - as good behavior, as healthy behavior, as a part of the laws of nature, and as a heartening sign of manís growth toward being a truly human organism.

To support this position, one must demon-strate that a sound system of ethics has not existed, and must present a framework for understanding manís behavior which buttresses the assertions made. But first, one must explain what is meant by a sound system of ethics.

Let us assume that a sound system of ethics must be based on the character of the human organism and must, when practiced to its fullest extent, assure that human life will continue to exist. And, let us assume that a sound system of ethics must not require man to behave in a manner contrary to his nature. It must be built on what man is. It must not be based on principles contrary to the accumulated knowledge of man the organism; and let us assume that a sound system of ethics allows one, without equivocation, or exception, to denote what is ethical and moral and what is unethical and immoral.

Some will say the position offered falls with this definition of a sound system of ethics; because, they will say, we have a system of ethics within which we can unequivocally know what is right or wrong behavior. And, some will say the behavior under discussion is evidence that manís basic nature is breaking through, and that we have failed to inculcate into todayís people those moral values that unquestionably keep manís baser impulses controlled. To this it can be said, they may be right - - - right, that is, if this sinful conception of manís nature is correct. But beyond this, one can say - - there are other conceptions of man.

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