- Objectivist Ethics (Ayn Rand shows up)
- Objectivist Aesthetics
Ethical Subjectivism and Objectivism:
In ethical subjectivism moral values are dependent on a will, human or divine, a willing subject. If the will is human, then one has the basis for modern moral relativism, in which humans together (e.g., a legislature) decide what is right and wrong. If the will is divine, then one has a divine command theory of ethics. In this view moral law is a freely chosen creation of God. In cases of infractions against this law, God can freely choose to mete out punishment or no punishment; or, as in the mystery religions and Christianity, God or his agent can decide to take the punishment upon himself. Those who violate the law are still sinners, but God can grant grace and forgiveness for wrong doings. It seems, then, that any doctrine of grace or forgiveness must have its basis in this form of ethical subjectivism.
In ethical objectivism moral values and virtues are intrinsic, not dependent on anything outside of them. In ethical objectivism moral law is uncreated and eternal and not subject to any will, divine or human. (One form of ethical objectivism is moral absolutism.) No will can lessen the consequence of acts against the law. There is no grace in ethical objectivism. In order to avoid punishment, one must perfect one's life and follow the law perfectly. The law of karma, continuous birth, death and rebirth until such moral perfection is reached, appears to be the ultimate expression of ethical objectivism. In Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, for most people one lifetime is not enough for such moral perfection.
Something has intrinsic value is its value is not dependent on anything outside of it.
A thing with extrinsic value does depend on something outside of it for its value. The former is an “end in itself,” while the latter is a “means to an end.” Intrinsic value is found in persons, nature, and works of art. Extrinsic value in money and consummables. Immanuel Kant's second form of the categorical imperative states that we are to treat persons always as ends in themselves never merely as means to ends.
ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERIENCE: BEYOND AESTHETIC SUBJECTIVISM AND OBJECTIVISM
Abstract - It is quite generally acknowledged now that the cognitive and aesthetic dimensions of experience cannot be sharply distinguished from each other since understanding may have aesthetic influence and aesthetic experience functions cognitively. Nelson Goodman, for instance, strongly emphasizes the latter direction, and he even says that aesthetic experience is a form of understanding since it is cognitive experience. It follows, in particular, that the aesthetic qualities of one's environment, or rather, how one feels about them, have consequences concerning how one comprehends its meaning. Conversely, interpreting the environment, that is, bringing out its
symbolic and cognitive meaning and significance, may in turn have an effect on how one continues to aesthetically experience it. According to Goodman, then, aesthetic experience results in an interaction between the subject and environment, and arguments for its interactive
character have been presented by some other philosophers, too, such as John Dewey and Arnold Berleant. In what follows, I shall briefly study this interaction and its consequences for the problem of aesthetic subjectivism and objectivism and state some additional arguments against the meaningfulness of this dichotomy.
The Context of Cognition and Emotion in Multiple Human Minds
Consider the thought experiment called Galileo's Ship. In this conceptual model Galileo assumes that other humans, let us call them Natural Observers, could duplicate and replicate his measurement methods; and he imagines that these multiple Natural Observers can witness the same event from different locations in relative motion; or that a Natural Observer can witness events in isolation inside the closed cabin of the moving ship with no ability to sense anything outside the cabin.
- Multiple Natural Observers
- Common Cognitive and Measurement Methods
- Multiple Distinct Natural Observations
- Multiple Distinct Descriptions of Motion
In my view objective agreement in empirical science depends on the assumptions and application of common cognitive and measurement methods. These are assumptions about the self and about other natural observers as what I cal "Creatures like the self".
Moral observations do not seem to replicate the common assumptions but must have some common biological, emotional, and cognitive basis for the concept of multiple "humans". I hate evoking the name Sigmund Freud, because I judge him to be a perfidious authority on human nature, but he does describe a model for the development of the superego memories within the human ego. He describes the functions of the superego as the ability to observe moral behavior; as the development of the ego ideal or the ideal type of ego in the mind of the child; and as the conscience. The ego ideal strives to imitate and become like some idealized external and internalized dramatic figure. The conscience is limited to the sense of guilt for transgressing moral principles imposed by external sources of moral authority.
My model includes the observer function and the ego ideal stored only as associative memories that form during early life. There is no possibility for a deterministic or objective model of how associative memories form due to the complexity of the individual drama and the social drama. My model is a parallel construction of Galileo's Ship where I try to empathize with the perspective of various observers in the context of moral drama:
- Moral Observers
- Experiences of Moral Drama
- Reenactment Patterns of Drama
- Descriptions of Moral Judgment
In terms of biology the human must be equipped by natural instinct, or by the natural ability to learn, to make a distinction between moral experience and natural events. If moral judgment is biologically objective then it maps to something like a universal human conscience. Don Carveth, a Freudian psychoanalyst, argues that the conscience is a separate function from the superego. These functions, for example, can be seen in the dramatic pattern of Saint Paul who first attacks and persecutes the Christians and later experiences a conversion wherein he advocates the theory of Jesus as Savior. This would be a psychological conversion, in Carveth's terms, from identification with the sadistic superego to the identification with human conscience.
The problem is we do not have empirical measurement models for moral experience. We only have the experience of moral drama, the experience of moral judgment, and the reports of moral judgment on the parts of others. One may infer that something like the conscience, as described by Carveth, is a biological drive that can be developed or distorted in the "nurture" patterns of drama.
The ego ideal has attributes which seem to be a mix of aesthetic and moral judgments that form in the dramatic context. Bruno Bettelhiem, in The Uses of Enchantment, says that a child hearing a Fairy Tale does not ask of the characters, Who is good?, but rather, the child asks, Who do I want to be like? Prudence, the ability to govern action by the use of reason, is emergent in humans around age seven, so moral observation begins in the context of aesthetic drama before the capacity to reason emerges during maturity. If the mother and father and adult institutions use the child and children as the means to an ideological end, rather than treat the child as an emerging end in the self, then the ego ideal becomes an escape hatch from the cognitive dissonance inside the child's drama. Jesus tried to remedy this problem by teaching everyone that what they really seek is knowledge of the ideal Father in heaven and this does not mean one is satisfied merely to imitate the dramatic patterns of the fathers (and mothers) on earth.
The psychologist too is enmeshed in their residual ego ideal which forms early in life and this motivates both the desire to be paid (to work and earn money like a figure in their infantile drama) and to be the healer (to be like the nurturing mother or providing father or the medical doctor like a figure in their infantile drama). The psychologist and patient in therapy are always reenacting infantile roles with role reversals whether they know it (conscious drama) or do not know it (unconscious drama). Suppose one does not feel compelled by this message on some cognitive imperative, "You have to pay for social intercourse!" Then one does not charge others for therapy or agree to seek therapy in the Kingdom of heaven!