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John Macmurray's philosophy is not so well known but his message is crucially relevant. Though he never talked of emotional intelligence his work is redolent of it. He used the term 'chastity', meaning emotional sincerity i.e. having a genuine understanding of feelings - one's own as well as those of others. For him such an understanding is the essence of good relationship.

MacMurray suggested there was a hierarchy of the emotions. Some were truer than others, some more real and more valid than others. From this a system of right and wrong could be inferred creating a virtual morality based on this specific sense of chastity.

It is hard to think of any human context that would not be improved were a sincere respect employed for how actions impact on feelings. This imperative has for long enough been the kernel of the world religions but unfortunately few as yet have been able to live by it.

I think John MacMurray's arguments come as close as any to defining an absolute morality. Were this to be achieved the effect on human congress would be transformative.

Macmurray thought that some emotions were truer than others



philosophy • 07.04.07