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Is morality relative or universal?

Meet Prof. Aner Govrin from the interpretation and culture program at Bar Ilan University who heads the interpretation and psychoanalysis program

Every day we are exposed in the media to news about theft, murder, medical malpractice or corruption. Very quickly and without being aware of it, we make moral judgments about the act - we immediately know who the offender is, who the victim is and how serious the offense is. What allows us to decide moral situations so quickly and immediately? How do we identify moral situations and distinguish them from other situations? Are there elements common to all moral situations, beyond the different contents?

For more than a decade, Prof. Anar Govrin has been developing from the interpretation and culture program at Bar-Ilan University, A New Theory of Moral Judgment. The theory relies on the use of research from neuroscience, cognition, moral psychology, social psychology, infant studies and the analysis of moral situations.

Gubrin found that moral situations are identified by breaking them down into more basic units and quickly calculating the situation according to fixed components. The whole process is fast and unconscious. The viewer locates in every moral situation a dyad (couple), and is required to decide about the relationship between the two. He identifies who is the "strong" and who is the "weak". Gubrin believes that each of us has a set of expectations for how the strong should treat the weak. This set of expectations develops in the first year of life. These basic depth structures are shared by all humans in all cultures.

The important contribution of this theory is that it explains for the first time the dual nature of moral judgment. Theories of morality are usually divided into theories that believe that morality is relative and culture-dependent, and theories that believe that morality is universal and objective. The attachment theory of morality claims that both approaches are correct. All human beings in all cultures break down the moral situation into the same basic units, and arrive at the moral decision according to the same calculation parameters. However, each observer's calculation is heavily biased by judgment influenced by his personal values ​​and the group to which he belongs.

In addition to his research in the field of moral judgment, Prof. Gubrin is a psychoanalyst who studies psychoanalysis in its philosophical and cultural contexts. He is a member of the Tel Aviv Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis and heads the doctoral specialization "Interpretation and Psychoanalysis" which is intended for mental health therapists. He also edits the Routlegde series Introductions to

Contemporary Psychoanalysis and the Narcissus series for psychoanalysis, philosophy and the study of culture published by Resling.

Gubrin heads the doctoral program "Interpretation and Psychoanalysis" intended for therapists from the mental health professions, which has produced dozens of doctoral degree graduates to date. A special conference that will mark 15 years since the opening of the course under the title "Interpretation in art, society and therapy: 15 years of the doctoral specialization in interpretation and psychoanalysis", will be held on Friday, July 21. The conference, intended mainly for therapists and psychoanalysts, will convey the spirit of the program through conversations conducted by the program's teachers with author David Grossman and Prof. Penia Oz-Salzberger.

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