Five basic desires that pertain mostly to social behavior are honor, idealism, social contact, family, and status. In this article let us discuss the first one – honor.
Honor is the desire to be loyal to one's parents and, by extension, to one's heritage, ethnic group, culture, moral code, religion, city, or nation. For example, we honor our parents when we are loyal to the moral principles and religion they taught us when we were children. We honor our forefathers when we practice the traditions and customs of our ethnic groups, and we honor our nation when we show patriotism. People with a strong desire for honor tend to place a high value on character, religion, ethnic traditions, and patriotism.
People who have a strong desire for honor tend to experience shame and guilt when they behave dishonorably. Shame is the emotion people experience when they fail to do their duty, whereas guilt is the feeling people have when they violate their principles. Because people with high honor do not want to live with shame or guilt, they are motivated to do their duty and to treat others morally. In contrast, people with low honor lack the potential to experience much shame or guilt. These people have little sense of duty or moral principle.
The system of basic desires distinguishes among loyalty to parents, spouse, friends, and children. Of these, only loyalty to parents satisfies the desire for honor. Loyalty to spouse satisfies the desire for romance, loyalty to friends is motivated by the desire for social contact, and loyalty to children is part of the basic desire for family. The actions of Linda Tripp are a good example of the difference between loyalty to moral principles and loyalty to friends. Although Tripp is known among her associates as a person of principle, she was a poor friend to Monica Lewinsky, whom she tape-recorded for prosecutors in the Clinton affair. The reason she could be loyal to a moral code and yet betray her friend is that the two behaviors are related to different basic desires and values. Although Tripp exhibited a strong desire for honor and duty, she showed only a weak desire for social contact.
The desire for honor can motivate people toward self-discipline, which can be important for adherence to strict moral and honor codes. The Indian nationalist Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi held that self discipline is essential to moral duty. Many other moral philosophers have agreed with this general idea. Differences in the desire for honor can be a source of conflict in a marriage. It is not uncommon, for example, for couples to fight over loyalty to their respective families or heritage. This is especially common in interfaith marriages, where the couple must resolve issues of how to raise children and observe various religious holidays. Couples with different faiths must come to grips with the sense of separateness that is created between them when each partner worships in his or her religion.
By: Francis David