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the principle of practical or ideological orientation embracing the negation of moral bases and socially accepted norms of behavior in society; a nihilistic attitude toward all moral norms and principles.

In practice, amoralism either is connected with the moral underdevelopment of an individual or arises as the result of social contradictions leading to the degradation of entire strata of society and to the spiritual disintegration of personality. In theory, amoralism usually substitutes utilitarian, pragmatic, opportunistically political, aesthetic, or individualistic considerations of freedom, self-assertiveness, pleasure-seeking, personal advantage, and so forth, for moral criteria.

As a conscious moral stance, amoralism arises with the disintegration of primitive tribal relationships, the separation of morality from automatic customs and traditional norms of behavior, and the beginning of individual reflection on the established way of life. In ancient society when the breakup of traditional kinship foundations was sharply accelerated and the collisions between different customs and group norms became more frequent, amoralism was expressed in the acknowledgment of the complete relativity, conditionality, and pragmatism of every principle and moral norm and in a negative attitude toward the values of the society’s culture—for example, among the cynics and some sophists. With the further development of class antagonistic societies, amoralism becomes a widespread phenomenon because the official morality is often accompanied in fact by amoralism, and the opposition to this morality sometimes turns into a rejection of any morality whatsoever. During the Renaissance the amoralism of some ideologists of the young bourgeoisie and the feudal church (Machiavelli, the Jesuit Loyola, Liguori, Busembaum) meant that morality had to be completely subordinated to political aims for the sake of which any methods were justifiable (“the end justifies the means”). During the mid-19th century under the spiritual crisis of bourgeois culture F. Nietzsche developed so-called aesthetic immoralism; he declared the spontaneous life force to be the highest value not liable to the judgment of the “slave morality of the crowd,” which tried to level the personality and oppose the assertion of outstanding individuality.

In its most cynical and misanthropic form, amoralism appeared in the ideology and practice of fascism—for instance, the cult of the Führer, which freed his subjects from the “chimera of conscience.” In essence, any attempt to do away with the principles of morality common to all mankind—to declare that conscience, love for mankind, and respect for the individual are superstition—leads to amoralism.

In an antagonistic society the exploiting classes are not interested in observing moral principles, even when they are proclaimed by the official ideology, if these principles do not correspond to the narrow mercenary goals of class rule.


References in periodicals archive ?
The growing homeschooling movement, for example, is evidence that many do not wish their children to be propelled into the mindless, amoral lifestyle promoted, not just by the media, but by the public school system as well.
What: Canadian black comedy about an utterly amoral TV-news director.
Take three near-atheist, amoral priests marooned on a desolate island off the West coast of Ireland and you have the recipe for one of the most original and hilarious sitcoms of recent years.
The film noir genre is a natural for Almodovar, who, judging from his body of work, clearly knows a thing or two about obsession and is completely willing to present amoral characters without the slightest whiff of judgment.
He also endorsed the campaign's misleading political rhetoric, its amoral approach to science and its disregard for fiscal responsibility.
I find much of the Church's teaching quite amoral, quite disrespectful of life, in fact, and I have filtered from the Church's teaching the best of who and what God is - respectful of a woman's right to choose, and respectful of people to marry as they please.
Bush conned the nation into an unnecessary war that has killed nearly 600 of our soldiers, and now he expects everyone to laugh along with him over his utterly amoral shamelessness.
Whether such tactics have grown to such a degree as those employed by Rankin Fitch (Gene Hackman), an amoral jury consultant employed by a gun manufacturer (it was a tobacco firm in the book) in ``Runaway Jury,'' the latest adaptation of a John Grisham courtroom potboiler, is unlikely.
As much of its popularity may be due to the vicarious pleasure of watching such immoral and amoral characters (even if they at times show they have vestiges of consciences) muck and slash their way through life as anything the series may be saying about the fabric of American life or its culture.
You may think that that makes for an utterly amoral effort.
Originally planned as a single feature tribute to the 1970s grind-house fare - early Hong Kong kung-fu movies, post-Kurosawa samurai slice-and- squirts, amoral spaghetti Westerns - this overindulged project eventually ran to a three-hour-plus cut.
Morris's book portrays Clinton as a weak-willed, amoral, and visionless wanderer, saved--in a limited way--only by his vaunted empathy and communication skills, coupled with his head for wonkish policy detail.