Genesis of Morality

Harvey Sarles


The problem for the m/other is to get her child to take care of itself much as she would do. Here, I suggest, is much of the idea of the emerging social-moral self. The child now sees itself, but always within the context of m/other. It is becoming more separate, has an increasing sense of its own boundedness and continuities. But its viewing of self is within the moral necessity of taking care of its own being.

This is to say that the very basis for our moral being is located in the necessity of the m/other to have her developing child take on the moral equivalent of her responsibility for her infant. The child must begin to see itself as its m/other would: a sense of conscience, a sense of/for itself which sees itself.

The seat of morality is located in identifying oneself as oneself—a deepening sense of self—always within the context of how others see us, and would have us be. In the early years, the power of the m/other to confirm and direct her child is pervasive… and necessary; a sine qua non of our being.