Is Christ a Kantian? Essay Sample
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A Kantian must believe that happiness needs to be deserved, yet Christ says, “Ask and you will be given,” not “Do and you shall deserve.” Is the moral man really one who merely does moral acts? Remember Christ also says, wash the inside of the dishes and the outside will also be clean. Thus, Christ does distinguish between a moral man and one who merely acts morally. A moral man
moral man must do what Kantian Ethics says, for Kantian Ethics is indeed the correct description of ethics, though a man who obeys Kantian Ethics every time need not be a moral man at all. What I want to say is that, Kantian Ethics is only a description of ethics, rather than an explanation, for ethics is also about the man, not only about the act. Kantian Ethics can only be half-completed in answering the question, What is a moral act? The other half i.e. the question on, Who is a moral man? (or Why be moral?) is still unanswered. For as a human being, one needs not only to know, but also to be inspired. If the task of describing ethics is more important than the inspiring of man to be moral, Christ would have chosen to be a philosopher.
And that is why Kant’s contribution to ethical philosophy is as great as the contribution of Newton in Natural philosophy. For Kant has rightly seen an important truth in morality i.e. that man is capable of performing disinterested and dutiful acts, instead of merely prudent ones. Yet in making a distinction between a moral man and a happy man, Kant has also created a problem of dualism on happiness and virtuousness to arise, just as Descartes has caused the dualism of the mind and body. And as philosophers, we are naturally interested in asking the question, in a religious tone, why did God ever create two goals, instead of just one, which a man needs to attain? Why is that we need to be both happy men and yet also moral men, instead of merely just being one? Why didn’t God create three instead of two, if two is better than one?
Has God been drinking, since only a drunken will see one as two? (Philosophically, this question becomes, how can I ever know which is more important i.e. happiness or virtuousness? How can two entirely different qualities be compared? In what scale can you measure the importance of virtuousness and happiness? In Kant’s view since one must always choose virtuousness before happiness, therefore virtuousness must be something more important than happiness. Yet although we would surely choose to eat first before we enjoy, that does not mean that we live merely to eat.) And therefore, if there are two goals that I need to attain, how should I then organize my time in order to attain these two?
How would I ever know how am I to live today i.e. to listen to music or to spend the day helping in an old folk’s home? Who can give me the exact number of times I should practice virtue for this week? If I have just one dollar, should I buy my favorite book or donate the money away? Which is right, and how could I know for sure? Should I throw a coin to decide? (The usual answer to this question is, you need only to do the right some of the time. Or that you need to do charity till you have to sacrifice some of your personal happiness. Unfortunately, though such answers may be good enough for the layman, to give such an answer to a philosopher is tantamount to saying nothing at all. Of course, Kant is clever enough to use the term ‘imperfect duty’ in place of the word ‘some’, but if duty can be imperfect, then the circle can look like a square.)
I believe the resolving of this dualism in ethical philosophy is as monumental as the resolving of the body-mind dualism in metaphysics. I also believe that Christ has a perfect solution to this problem, and this whole article can thus be also seen as an attempt in applying the philosophy of Christ to this most important and interesting problem in both philosophical ethics and our lives.
This article is divided into 5 sections. The first section deals with the philosophical limitations of Kantian Ethics. The second section shows how the philosophy of Christ can help us resolve such problems. The third section deals with the complete explanation of ethics. The correct explanation of ethics must succeed not only in explaining the reason for a Kantian moral act, but also in resolving the problem of dualism in Kantian Ethics. The fourth section will concentrate on the task of demystifying ethics i.e. to show that there is no metaphysical realm of morality populated by divine laws. The fifth section will concentrate on the problem of free-will and determinism. The successful refutation of the doctrine of free-will will lead to the end of ethical philosophy.
First, I shall attempt to refute the famous proof by Kant in trying to show that giving lying promises is a morally wrong thing to do. Kant deduces that one should not give lying promises because one cannot will that all men should be liars intending to give lying promises too at the same time. Since if all men are liars such that no one will be keeping his promises, no one would also trust anyone anymore. Thus it becomes logically impossible for me to give any promise to anyone at all (for to give a promise implies logically that you expect another to trust you, yet no one would trust you in such a world where none will trust any other), let alone lying ones. Thus the act of giving lying promises cannot satisfy the principle of Universalizability, which says that any act that cannot be universalized i.e. willing that all should do it at the same time, is immoral or wrong.
Is this really so? Imagine now that you are going to make a lying promise, yet knowing fully that all men are great liars. Why should it then be impossible for you to give the lying promise, since it is only you yourself who know that it will be a lying promise, not your friend (although he is as lying as you are)? How on earth is it possible for him to know that you are also giving a lying promise? Yes, you know that he is a liar, but that doesn’t mean in the least that he knows you as a liar too. He may be a liar, but that does not mean at all that he is smart enough to know you as a liar too. He could still believe you if he is gullible enough, and therefore you can still give promises to him, including lying ones. With God’s omnipotence, you could now turn all men into liars instantly, and thus know fully that you cannot trust anyone of them. But that doesn’t mean at all that they would not trust you. It is you yourself who wills all to be liars, not them.
You can give lying promises so long as they continue to trust you, though of course they will be dead wrong! There is absolutely nothing logically inconsistent about giving promises in a land where no one gives true promises. It is only logically inconsistent if you are giving promises in a land where people do not know how to give promises i.e. do not know the concept of promise, not that they do not practice keeping promises. (Frankly, I must say that Kant is really being naï¿½ve here, for couldn’t an evil man delight in being more crafty (and thus superior) than his evil contemporaries? Isn’t it true that an evil man always believes that all are as evil, or even more evil than him? No maxim cannot be universalized, and therefore no man would need to choose believing himself as evil (in the Kantian way). The importance of the above proof lies in showing that there is no longer any reason for a categorical imperative i.e. an act that ought to be done solely for its own sake. Actually the principle of Universalizability is indeed related to ethics, but not in the way Kant believes, as I shall show later in my explanation of ethics.)
Kant also tries to provide an immanent objective for a categorical imperative. He believes that a moral act could be done with joy. Yet the question arises, if joy can be placed into a moral act that is joyless initially, why couldn’t joy be placed into an act of suffering too? Joy is not an object, but rather a quality exhibited by a certain way of life or action. If the quality of joy can be anyhow placed into whatever we feel fit, then surely the quality of beauty can also be taken away from the painting of Mona Lisa and be placed into the splashing of the paint. (Joy is, as beauty, a quality rather than a quantity.
It is a way of life that is lived, just as beauty is a way the painting is painted i.e. life can be lived joyously, just as the painting can be painted beautifully. Thus you cannot own joy just as you cannot own beauty, but only to live in it. If it is possible to own joy as something, why can’t we then own beauty as something private too, such that in owning beauty privately you will now see everything as equally beautiful?) Can virtuousness be good in itself? In what way can this mean? When we say that an act of happiness is good in itself, we can always imagine ourselves requesting for God to create for us a land of happiness for eternity. Yet the Kantian who believes that an act of morality is good in itself must thus request God to create a land of poverty so that he may practice the virtue of charity for eternity. Surely this is insane, and the act of morality cannot be good in itself as an act of happiness.
Kantians pride themselves in discovering the flaw in the argument of the Utilitarian that the sacrifice of personal happiness for the greater happiness of all is inconsistent, that how can it be a sacrifice at all if one nevertheless feels happy in the end for the happiness of all? Yet they have never noticed that they themselves are arguing exactly in the same way. Of course, they are clever enough to change the word happiness to goodness (or the mere performance of duty), but if it is better to choose goodness (or the performance of duty) than happiness, why wouldn’t someone do so? The Kantian would hardly be sacrificing his own interest too if he has chosen something, though not happiness, yet better than happiness. (The Kantian may say that interest is not happiness, but the Utilitarian can equally reply that neither is general happiness personal happiness. For general happiness, although it may include personal happiness, is something qualitatively different from personal happiness, as the class is different from the student.)
The persistent Kantian may then say, it is not about gaining interest when it comes to acting morally, but rather about doing that which ought to be done i.e. it is absolutely not about any form of interest but only in the mere performance of duty. Well, I will simply ask then, is it nevertheless better to be doing that which ought to be done (i.e. performing one’s duty) than enjoying happiness? Surely if it is better to be performing one’s duty doing that which ought to be done than merely enjoying happiness, why wouldn’t then someone choose doing that which is better? If it is better to obey the moral laws than the enjoyment of happiness, why wouldn’t someone choose it?
The Kantian may reply, “You are always free to choose.” But if I have the free will to choose that which is better, why on earth won’t I choose it? “Because you are evil.” But if it is better to be morally good than to be evil, why wouldn’t I choose the better? “Because you are weak.” If I am weak through chance, then I cannot be blamed. And if I have the freedom to be strong, which is of course better, then again, why won’t I choose that which is better? If you have chosen morality, then you must have loved morality more than happiness, and how could you be sacrificing anything if you have chosen that which you love more? And if the love of morality is better than the love of men, why then would I not choose it? Why would anyone purposely give up something that is better to love? The Socratic truth that one will love the good naturally if he sees it, is logically irrefutable.
In Kantian Ethics, a moral man is one who respects the moral laws, and acts not because of any future empirical purpose, or out of the liking for the content of the law (for there are those by nature kind and generous), but solely because it is a law. Can the respect for the concept of a law motivates one to act? Is respect a motivation or is it merely just a description? Fear is a motivation for a cowardly act because you need to commit the act, say hiding, in order to secure your physical safety and thus calm your fear. Desire can be a motivation too because you need to commit the act, say smoking, in order to satisfy your psychological craving.
But need one commits the moral act itself in order to better respect the concept of a law? Surely not, just as one needs not sacrifice himself in order to better understand and respect the notion of self-sacrifice. (Even if you believe that one can somehow mysteriously increase his understanding and respect for morality through acting morally, it is still only an abstract faith and thus you cannot expect everyone to believe in it.) And if one can equally respect the moral act with or without ever been through the act itself, why should he then go through the act since nothing would have been changed any way? Isn’t it logically possible to imagine a person who although possesses this inner sense of respect, yet nevertheless carries out evil acts on every occasion? The inner sense of respect in a man is logically independent of external moral acts, and thus it cannot be related to morality at all.
What motivates a man to act morally? You may say that he wants to become moral through behaving so. Yet the question now arises, why then does he want to become moral in the first place? Yes, if I want to be a moral man, I would try to live morally, but why would I ever want to be a moral man? Nothing can ever motivate a man except the purpose of happiness. The task in ethical philosophy is to see how the motivation of happiness can lead to disinterested Kantian moral acts.
What is the unconditional worth in man? What is that which makes life meaningful even when there is no external contingent happiness? If there is no such an unconditional quality that a man can possess, then life would lose its meaning upon the first occurrence of suffering. It is in the possession of this quality that differentiates a happy man from a moral man. Kant is by far right in this, until he postulates this unconditional quality as the moral will (to external moral acts). And since it is entirely logically impossible to see how such a moral will is dependent on happiness or suffering, Kant deduces that it must not be related to them in anyway, except only that a man who possesses this quality is more deserved of happiness or less deserved of suffering.
Now, I want to refute this view of Kant i.e. that a moral man is merely one who does moral deeds. I would need you to recall the words of Christ i.e. first clean the inside of the dishes (or yourself), and then your outside will be clean too. Clearly, Christ feels that it is entirely possible for an evil man (with an evil inside) to be dutiful nevertheless towards external moral acts (i.e. with a Kantian moral outside). To Christ, there is a distinction between a good man and merely a man who does the good. The inside and the outside may not have any direct relation at all, in the way Kantians believe i.e. that the inside is none other than the will to do moral acts (on the outside). In other words, if Christ is right, the inside should not be defined in terms of the outside. For if the inside is defined in terms of the outside (e.g. as the moral will towards outside moral acts), then the evil man who does good dutifully at every opportunity cannot be said to be evil at all in any sense.
Yet this is exactly what Christ denies. Therefore, it is not enough to define a moral man with any outside criterion, for this is just a empty analytical truism i.e. of course a moral man is one who does moral acts, if you define him in this analytical way. The moral will is only a term used to describe the acts of a moral man, rather than the moral man himself. So what describes the moral man himself? (And again, do not say that the inside is the metaphysical sense of duty one feels inside him, for as I have said, why should the sense of duty, or the sense of respect and appreciation, be able to prompt someone into action?
If I equally feel it as a duty, or respect and appreciate it equally before and after the act, why should I then commit the act? Please do not say that the respect for morality will increase after committing the act, for this is surely just a superstitious belief, similar to the belief that one can become more compassionate through pretending to be so. Such inner sense of respect or appreciation, which cannot motivate the act itself in any sense, does not have anything to do with morality at all, since a moral man must act morally, though the converse is not true.)
What lies inside of a man must first be something intuitive, yet has absolutely no analytical relation with the outside (or else it will merely be an empty analytical definition), and finally, it must also be capable of prompting a man to act Kantian morally on the outside through a rational proof. What could this quality be? I need you to recall the words of Christ, “With faith, you can move mountains.” Clearly to Christ, faith is the most important quality a man could possess.
Thus, I believe that this intuitive inner quality of a truly moral person is not some metaphysical moral will, but rather the down to earth will-to-hope and believe in happiness. (Ask yourself, does Kantian Ethics discuss the value of faith? Why does the Kantian need faith if he is already capable of acting morally since he has free-will? Similarly, Kantian Ethics does not study the problem of pride i.e. the greatest evil, as faith is the greatest virtue. For in what sense can you say in Kantian Ethics that a man is evil and thus prideful by failing to act morally? How can a fearful coward who surrender miserably and shamefully to pain and suffering be prideful in any sense? If it is better and more difficult to obey the conscience than not to obey it, then he can at most be only pitiful in lacking moral power, rather than prideful. Isn’t the Kantian who scorns others for wanting happiness, who believes that he is greater (or capable of being greater) than the common happy man more prideful than any other?)
Another point I want to bring up is that many people believe that faith is needed only by cowards. This is a wrong view. If it is easy to hope and believe, then it must also be easy to move mountains. A person who believes that hope and faith is for the coward reasons probably like this: If we compare a man who can run even without a pair of shoes with one who can run only if he has a pair of good shoes, we would want to say that the first man is more courageous, for he is able to do the more difficult i.e. he can run under all circumstances. The man who is without hope (as the man without his shoes) is thus a greater man than the man with hope (as the man with his shoes).
Although we all have an inclination to be weak i.e. to depend on hope as we depend on our shoes, it is nevertheless our duty to be strong i.e. to live without depending on hope and shoes. Thus we only have a duty to live in spite of hopelessness, rather than a duty to live hopefully. Now, such a way of thinking is right only if hope is really something i.e. an object like the psychological feeling of pleasure. But is this really so? Is hope really some object? Although we use the phase “to have hope”, that doesn’t mean in any way that there is something really called hope that one can depend on, anymore than saying, “There is nothing here” means that there is an object called ‘nothing’ somewhere here.
Hope is not an object at all, but is rather only a word used for the description of a certain way of life, and although there may be usual psychological objects accompanying such a way of life, it doesn’t mean at all that any of these objects must be hope itself. The feeling of hopefulness is not hope itself. Any psychological feeling can be induced by drugs, but hope cannot be induced. In other words, the correct way of using the word hope is only in an adjective way i.e. hopeful, hopefully. What misleads us is that we often use the word ‘hope’ in various ways i.e. “to hope” (thinking that hoping is an action like swimming), or “has hope” (thinking that hope is ‘something’ probably mental that can be owned at some point in time), but actually one should use only “hopefully” (describing, or better indicating your way of life). It is Wittgenstein who reminds me of this.
And if we can say that a man is courageous and dutiful by living on his life willingly and cheerfully (rather than sulkingly) despite of difficulties, why shouldn’t he live on hopefully (rather than despairingly) despite of disappointment? The noblest man should reasonably exhibit the most active positive traits i.e. in the most desperate moments, he would still carry on living cheerfully, willingly and also hopefully. (If someone wants to say that “being hopeful” is a negative trait, then he shouldn’t step out of his house, for no one can ever guarantee that he could reach his destination safely 100%. I mean, why do you need to hope if the chance of attaining it is already 100%? )
It is not that hope gives courage, but that a courageous man is one who dares to hope, just as he dares to act. In short, “to have hope” is not to walk with a pair of shoes, but rather to walk meaningfully i.e. with a destination in mind. Only an insane man walks with no destination in his mind. If it is wrong to try living meaningfully (and thus hopefully), then it will also be wrong to try walking meaningfully (with a destination in mind). When you live hopefully, you are not depending on anything, but rather you are choosing a certain way of life, just as the atheist chooses the courageous way of life of independency (from hope as an object, though wrongly). If you still insist that a hopeful way of life, although not an object, is still something one can depend on, then consider this reasoning: If a certain way of life is something one can depend on, then one can also lose it. Ask yourself, is the coward losing something when he refuses to live a courageous way of life?
No, he is not losing anything by being a coward. In fact it is because he fears losing his life that he chooses to be a coward. He is not losing anything but rather he is failing to attain a certain way of life. Therefore, if it is in our duty to carry on living willingly and cheerfully despite of all problems, then it is also our duty to carry on living hopefully despite of how slim is the chance (as shown by science) for the ultimate happiness. (There is a certain modern wisdom believing that it is enough just to try one’s best, that the wise man doesn’t hope for any result. Yet if I am to aim yet without hoping to reach it, why should I then aim for just this particular goal? If I aim to jump 2m far in long jump without the intention to reach it, why shouldn’t I aim to jump 2 km far instead, for I surely do not hope to reach 2km either? If you should try, then you must aim, and if you must aim, then you must hope.)
Kant is right in believing that one has a duty towards preserving life, for if one has only an inclination to enjoy life rather than a duty to preserve it, then he would choose suicide whenever he faces difficulties. Yet if one has the duty to try living no matter what, doesn’t he also have the duty to try living happily no matter what? Why should he be contented with mere living, rather than living happily? Surely it is more difficult to live happily than merely to live. One answer to this is that he cannot choose to be happy but he can always choose to refrain from committing suicide. This is of course based on the belief that there is free will in man, which is not really obvious. But let’s grant the Kantian this.
Yes, this may be true, but surely he can still try to live happily (through hoping and believing that he will be happy one day), even if he cannot succeed in living happily now. For surely, the effort to try (or the will-to-hope and believe) is also as unconditional as the effort to refrain from committing suicide. Let’s take another example on marriage. When one promises to God that he will love his wife forever, it means that he will at least try to love her (through hoping and believing) even at times when he has stopped loving her.
Merely staying physically together in suffering doesn’t fulfill your promise to God at all. You stay together in order to become loving again, not just for the sake of keeping your promise. If you should try staying together, why shouldn’t you try loving (through hoping and believing) her again? The point is therefore, not only do we have a duty to live, we also have a duty to try living happily, through hoping and believing. Not only do we have a duty to keep our marriage, we also have a duty to try keeping a loving and happy marriage, through hoping and believing. Yes, we may not be able to succeed in doing so, but that does not in any sense mean that we should not try to do so, through hoping and believing.
Kant believes that happiness must be deserved. Of course he would be tongue-tied if I were to question him why? For how much of virtuousness must one attain in order to qualify himself for a certain amount of happiness? And when we see a beggar on the street, do we ask ourselves does he deserve to be helped? Only a judgmental person would feel so. If happiness must be deserved, then God cannot be fully compassionate. Yet Christ says, “Ask and it will be given” not “Do and you shall deserve”. (There is absolutely no logical relationship between the concept of a dutiful and morally good man with the concept of happiness.
Just because you were brought up in a land where only those with jobs get paid doesn’t mean in the least that Heaven is also such a place.) Kantians will of course say that only the combination of virtuousness and happiness is the Highest Good. Yet if the Highest Good is the combination of two distinct qualities, why couldn’t there exist a third quality previously undiscovered which can be further combined with the present Highest Good to attain an even higher good? In fact, we can never reach the Highest Good, for isn’t it possible that there may be an infinite amount of qualities waiting to be combined? Clearly such questions are absurd, for the Highest Good must be something pure in itself, rather than an awkward combination.
Kant is right when he sees that the mere attainment of external happiness cannot be the Highest Good. But what is lacking in the mere attainment of external happiness is not some metaphysical quality called virtuousness (as the Kantain believes) but rather the hope-for-happiness and the faith-in-the eternity of happiness. For only when a person, who has wished truly (and thus hoped for happiness so much) that he believes in attaining it permanently i.e. thus believing in God, will be able to attain the Highest Good upon the attainment of external happiness. There is nothing mysterious about the hope-for-happiness combining with the attainment of external happiness in constituting the Highest Good. Ask yourself, if the swine is to be surrounded by beautiful music, would it be able to enjoy it? No, for it is incapable of understanding and thus wishing truly and hoping for such artistic happiness.
Therefore, the Highest Good is not merely the attainment of external happiness, but rather the attainment of what one has wished truly and (thus hoped so much for) that he believes in it. (For, together with the hope-for-happiness, the faith that there will be eternal happiness is also a logical constitute of the Highest Good. Just as you cannot be happy even if you are in Heaven without the wishing and hoping for it, you also cannot be happy without believing that you will be eternally so. Can it be possible for you to live happily today, if I tell you that you will die tomorrow? Compare the tragic poet with an animal. Look at the animal which can only enjoy conditional happiness, doesn’t it find it all right to die? Yet take a look at the tragic poet who knows what true love is, doesn’t he find it difficult to enjoy life even if he is now in happiness without the prospect of an eternal life. Only an irresponsible person can live without thinking of tomorrow. The enjoyment of unconditional happiness must be accompanied by the faith that there will be eternal happiness, unlike the case for conditional happiness.)
Only by seeing that the Highest Good means nothing but the attainment of happiness accompanied by the true wish (and thus hope-for-it) leading to the faith in the permanence of it can we explain why the mere attainment of external happiness is not yet the Highest Good. For what is the point of God giving someone happiness if he doesn’t wish truly for it with his life, and thus will falter in his hope for it with the slightest disappointment? Only a person who has wished truly and thus hoped with his life, and consequently choosing to believe in God, should be granted the greatest happiness, rather than one who possesses some abstract mysterious quality. (Do not say that it is possible to wish truly yet not hope and believe in it. Do you ever encourage a friend by saying, “Keep on trying, don’t give up hope, but please try not to expect too much from your effort”?) Only in this way can the philosophical puzzle be solved satisfactorily, for the Highest Good is not happiness alone, nor happiness deserved, but rather happiness hoped for.
Now I shall begin my full explanation of ethics. There are actually three different types of morality, for there are, as the Danish existentialist philosopher Kierkegaard has said, actually three types of men namely the aesthetic, the ethical and the religious. You need only to see the difference in the ethics of Spinoza and Kant to see how ethics is differently conceived by different men. The Kantian way of perceiving ethics belongs to the secondary ethical man, whereas the ethics of Spinoza belongs to the higher religious man. Each type, due to their different ways in conceiving what happiness is, will see morality differently. I will therefore need to explain the essential difference between the three types of men.
The essential difference lies in the way happiness is conceived by them. The aesthetic man knows only the meaning of happiness in a negative way i.e. the absence of suffering (of pain and boredom). His religion is often nihilist in nature, preferring to think of Heaven as a place to sleep (than to love and thus live) for eternity. Thus, the aesthetic man is a fearful man, and he knows only the sense of guilt. Whereas the aesthetic man is a fearful man, the ethical man is braver than him. The ethical man, unlike the aesthetic man, knows that it is shameful and wrong to be fearful of suffering. And that is why he despises the aesthetic man, instead of pitying him. (Only when you have become a religious man like Christ would you be capable of pitying others, instead of judging and blaming them.) The only thing the ethical man fears is, in a way, fear itself i.e. he hates being fearful. He is the proud atheist who says, “Well, God may be able to send me to Hell, but He cannot make me afraid of Hell.”
In short, the ethical man is a prideful man, and he knows the sense of remorse. The final evolution of the spirituality of man is the religious man. He has come to realize the true nature of happiness i.e. there is only the happiness of love. Unlike the ethical man who professes that it is good to be free, that it is great to be noble, they could no longer live their lives in this way, for they have seen with their own eyes something words cannot describe i.e. the happiness of love.
They have come to understand the one and only meaning in life is to live happily in love, neither to be free, nor to be noble. Thus they can no longer live in search of other naï¿½ve satisfactions, like the possession of free will, or moral greatness. Such a religious man is capable to hope in the deepest way that he now believes in that which he has hoped. In other words, he is a person who is capable of the perfect commitment such that there is now only one road available to him i.e. he becomes a believer. And to such a man, there is no sense of guilt, neither a sense of remorse. He has gone, in a sense, beyond guilt and remorse, as he has gone beyond good and evil. He knows only the sense of tragic, if there is to be no God. In short, whereas the aesthetic man is fearful, and the ethical man prideful, the religious man is faithful (and thus powerful) enough to move mountains.
An ethical man, being only at the second stage of spiritual development, may deny the existence of a third stage of development. But if you do not believe that there is a third stage of development, just take a look at the classification of men in terms of their talents. There are the fool, the normal, and also the genius. There are also the coward, the normal, and the heroic. And doesn’t the genius appear to be like the fool to the normal because of his eccentricity, as the most heroic often appears to be like the coward because of his gentleness? Let’s take the example on believing in the existence free-will. The ethical man would mostly believe in the existence of free-will, though they know that it is a concept logically impossible to understand. The aesthetic man, on the other hand, is one who blames others for whatever that happens to them.
They do not believe in free-will, but rather that they are driven by their inclinations and desires. And since the religious man is often a Stoic who denies the existence of free-will too, thus sharing the same appearance as the aesthetic man, he will appear to be inferior to the ethical man. But like what I have said, the similarity between an aesthetic and a religious man is only in the appearance. Yes, the religious man believes himself to be determined, but unlike the aesthetic man who is determined by desires and inclinations, he is determined only by the will of God. That is why Christ says, only God is great, not me. The important thing I need you to take note of is that, in terms of appearance, the religious man is very much like the aesthetic man. It is this apparent similarity that causes the Kantian to believe that the determinist must be a lesser man than him. In one sense the Kantian is right, for it is indeed true that the deterministic aesthetic man is a lesser man than him, but not all determinists are aesthetic men.
I have explained the main difference between the three types of man. I will now need to discuss the true nature of ethical reasoning, so that you may be able to see the difference in the way they reason ethically. So what is ethical reasoning? To the empiricist, there is no such a thing as ethical reasoning, but only prudent or pragmatic reasoning i.e. reason is used inductively. To the rationalist, ethical reasoning is dependent on the intelligence of the person i.e. he will do the good if he knows that it is the good i.e. reason is used deductively as in mathematics to deduce what the good is from basic principles. Yet, in the words of the Bible, to know God is the simplest of tasks i.e. you need not be experienced or clever in order to be moral. So how is reason used in ethics? It cannot be used inductively (for that will place ethics dependent on experience), yet also not deductively (for that will place ethics dependent on intelligence).
Therefore, the only possible way to use reason, not inductively or deductively, is to use it in such a way as to arrive at a rational contradiction. Until here, Kant is absolutely right. What is wrong with Kant is that he believes that his principle of universalizability is the way reason should be used in ethics. But as I have said, firstly, the principle cannot even be used for the simple case of lying promises. Furthermore, is it really intuitive to use the principle of universalizability to decide whether an action is good or not? Isn’t it just as difficult intellectually to derive a contradiction as to deduce what the good is as the rationalist?
The principle itself has a very fascinating name, yet it is merely chimerical. This is surely not the common moral experience. We know that we have sinned as intuitive as we have erred in disobeying a hypothetical imperative. In other words, the intuition we have in ethical reasoning must be on the same level as in a hypothetical reasoning. And since ethical reasoning must be as intuitive as hypothetical reasoning, it must be concerned with the way we live, rather with only the way we think. No contradiction in abstract thinking (done in classrooms) can ever be powerful enough to motivate or prohibit practical actions. The contradiction one experiences in committing wrong must be related to reasoning used, not abstractly, but practically i.e. concerned with only happiness, just as in contradicting a hypothetical reasoning.
If you do not believe that there are such reasoning concerned with happiness, yet not prudent (or hypothetical) in nature, ask yourself philosophers, why does a man have the need to philosophize? Why does a man philosophize on the problem of suffering, or on the existence of a meaning in life? In fact, it is in suffering that a man becomes a true philosopher. One philosophizes for the simple reason because one is unable to live happily without understanding that the suffering of this life has a meaning. We need to believe that there is a meaning in life, in order to carry on our life happily. We reason philosophically like: life is like a painting which needs both the colors of white and black in order to constitute a beautiful painting.
Or that evil is prevailing not because that God is evil, but rather it is man himself in possessing free-will, who is responsible for the evil. Such philosophical reasoning are non-prudent in nature i.e. transcendental, yet they are needed for a person to carry on his life happily. Although they are not prudent in nature concerned with experience in search for particular happiness (like hypothetical reasoning), yet they are nevertheless fully concerned with the search of a happy life as a whole i.e. general Happiness which provides a possibility for particular happiness. (General Happiness is that which a man needs before attaining any particular happiness.
The general Happiness of the aesthetic man is the absence from suffering. Only in securing this could he carry on with his life with a peace of mind towards attaining other particular happiness.) Such reasoning I shall call it transcendental philosophical reasoning i.e. transcendental reasoning used in pure speculation. And when transcendental reasoning is used in practicality, it becomes transcendental ethical reasoning. We do not feel an obligation to particular happiness because there are always other particular happiness to choose from. But we do want general Happiness itself, even if we do not like this particular happiness. An aesthetic man may hate the particular happiness of eating apples, but he would never hate the general Happiness to be safe and sound. That’s why we feel specially obliged to Rationality used in ethical reasoning, for even if we are not obliged to particular happiness, we are nevertheless always obliged to general Happiness itself. Yes, conscience is not a guardian of happiness, yet it is a requirement for happiness.
Thus how does the aesthetic man reason ethically and thus transcendentally? The only moral law that an aesthetic man recognizes is this: Do (or don’t do) to others if you want (or don’t want) others to do to you. (He is incapable of appreciating nobler moral imperatives like: Love your enemies.) I shall now explain how the existence of such a moral law is needed for the general Happiness of an aesthetic man. Now, you will probably think that what I’m saying here is merely what the Utilitarian believes in i.e. that such a moral law is nothing but a more personalized form of social law, obeyed for a prudent use. I’m doing nothing of this sort. To the Utilitarian, this particular moral law i.e. Do (or don’t do) to others … is merely a personalized form of social law, with the aim of helping the person to secure prudent happiness.
A person should be honest, not because honesty is good in itself, but rather because honesty is conducive in pleasing others, as one learnt from experience, which increases one’s chance of social success. Such a naï¿½ve conception of the status of the moral law cannot withstand the following two attacks from the Kantian. Firstly, if such a moral law is merely a tool, like social laws that aim to bring the society into prosperity, then it is quite conceivable that the status of such a moral law will be as relative as social laws. But this is not how we view this moral law at all. We believe that it is something absolute, independent of races and societies.
Secondly, from a personal view, the experience of obligation to such a moral law is totally unlike that to social laws. In obeying social laws, we always have a goal in our mind, knowing that by obeying the social laws, we would be safe from the police. Yet, in paying our obligation to such a moral law, not only do we not usually have any goal in our minds, we feel the constrain to act morally even if we know that there may be harm awaiting for us in the future if we do it. We could only pray that God may take pity on us and guide us miraculously into safety. Thus, such a moral law cannot be of the same status as social laws. Therefore, the Utilitarian is totally wrong in the way he sees the nature of such a moral law. Of course the Kantian, who believes that it is because that such a moral law is aesthetically beautiful that one will pay respect to it, is neither right, for as I have said, this says nothing more than the truism that one ought to respect the moral law because he ought to.
The transcendental ethical reasoning of a fearful moral aesthetic man is something like this: If I want to live in general Happiness i.e. security from suffering with a peace of mind, I would need to live in an ordered and lawful world. For it is a logical impossibility for me to know and control the wills of others, and if there is no law to prohibit others from harming me, or prompting them to help me, then I cannot hope to live in a world as free from suffering as possible. And since the prohibition from harming others and the helping of others in need is to be a law for all, then I myself must also obey it (out of the fear of punishment, for the existence of a law implies punishment). (This explains why the law takes the form: Do (or don’t do) to others if you want (or don’t want) others to do to you.) And I would choose to believe that this moral law itself is not only social, but divine as well, for only in believing this can I gain the greatest peace of mind.
Yes, it may be true that living in an unlawful world may bring me greater prudent positive happiness, but because as an aesthetic man, what I desire most is merely the absence of suffering, I would choose to give up future positive happiness to opt for a world of law and order which provides the greatest possibility of freedom from suffering, allowing me to secure the greatest peace of mind. I need to believe that such a moral law is divine, just as I need to believe that life is meaningful or that there is God, in order for me to live happily. It is impossible for me to believe that the moral law is only a clever invention by man, for in this way, there would be few who would want to obey it sincerely and unconditionally, and such a world would be chaotic as I fear. To believe that the moral law is divine is the closest way I could solve this problem. Although men may break the moral law at times, it is to my peace of mind to believe that at least men ought to obey such a moral law.
Now, the aesthetic man believes in the divinity of the moral law: Do (or don’t do) …, because he needs it, rather than that he wants to use it as a social tool. It is because he needs it as divine psychologically that he chooses to believe it as divine, rather than that he is hearing some mysterious inner voice of God. Unlike the Utilitarian who, in thinking of the moral law as a social tool to be used, would be prepared to bend the moral law in favor of other worldly gains, the moral aesthetic man would not change his belief in the existence of such a divine moral law (and thus divine punishment), for he believes in its divinity not to use it, but rather that it is in his fearful nature that he needs it. He has to believe its existence (as divine) first in order for him to live his daily life happily through securing his own psychological fear. Thus morality, to the aesthetic man, serves as a mean for him to secure his fear in order to attain the general Happiness of security. Yet in believing it as divine, he has no choice but to accept that there is also divine punishment i.e. he needs it, yet he fears it.
So what motivates an aesthetic man to obey the moral law? (Yes, he needs to believe in the existence of the divine moral law, as he needs to believe that life is meaningful, but why should he obey the moral law, even if he believes that it exists divinely?) The motivation is of course the fear of divine punishment. Yet, there is a difference between being motivated by the fear of worldly punishment and a divine one. For the fear of worldly punishment is based on experience and induction, but the fear of divine punishment is somewhat a choice i.e. one could always choose to be a moral skeptic or an atheist, and he would have immediately free himself from such a fear of divine punishment, unlike the fear of worldly punishment.
That is why the existence of divine punishment can only motivate him indirectly, for the fear of divine punishment is conditioned only on his conception of happiness (i.e. that happiness is the absence of suffering and thus a peaceful mind). If he would choose happiness as the gaining of prudent profits, then he would become an atheist thus freeing himself from such a fear of divine punishment. And that is why, because the fear of divine punishment motivates an aesthetic man differently from the fear of worldly ones, he feels a different obligation to the divine moral law, unlike that he feels to the social laws.
And he would feel that he is committing a moral act in the Kantian way i.e. disinterestedly and dutifully. Such a man knows no sense of remorse, but rather only a sense of guilt arising from an indirect fear of divine punishment. In addition to doing a moral act of out the fear of divine punishment, the aesthetic man may also do it disinterestedly in ascertaining to himself that the moral law truly exists as divine, for every empirical failure will remind him of the fact that the existence of a divine moral law may be only in his mind.
Because a transcendental reasoning is purely logical i.e. the necessary obedience towards a mysterious metaphysical moral law is nothing but the necessary obedience to the logical impossibility of knowing and controlling the wills of others, we would expect such a reasoning to be universally binding, and thus it must be true that all morally conscious aesthetic men will agree on the divinity of the moral law. It is because of the logical impossibility of knowing and controlling the will of others that you find all aesthetic men across all races and cultures believing the moral law as divine, for no man can hope to overcome the logical impossibility of knowing and controlling the wills of others. And when a person argues with another making use of the moral law itself, isn’t he trying to mould the other into a believer as himself, in order to reach a higher sense of security?
We have covered the ethical reasoning of a fearful aesthetic man. Now we must further discuss the ethical reasoning of an ethical man. As what I have said, the ethical man is a prideful man. He is the ambitious businessman or conqueror who seeks hard to win riches and wars, yet eventually to discover that somehow this is not really what he wants either. He is, of course, a prideful man in wanting to become the richest (i.e. through owning riches), or the most powerful (i.e. through owning status). For pride is nothing but the will-to-be something, through owning. He wants to be rich through owning riches, to be powerful through owning status.
And that is why pride is always competitive in nature, for the joy of owning something is dependent on the possibility of losing or the devoid of it, and what can please a prideful man more than to see others devoid of it, so that the perverted joy of personal ownership can be felt deeper. Yet, he somewhat also needs others to agree with him, in order to ascertain to himself that what he owns is valuable. Such is the contradictory nature of the perverted joy of ownership i.e. pride. He needs others to be like him through agreeing with him, yet he fears others to be like him too. And the way out of this is to believe that one can never own (or be) fully what he wants to own (or be) i.e. that there is no limit to owning (and thus being), so that he will always be capable of surpassing others in owning (or being) more of that which he wants to own (or be).
This is not something new. Everyone knows that the will-to-be rich and powerful is an ambitious and prideful will. What is new is that not only is the will-to-be rich prideful in nature, but in fact any form of will-to-be, including the will-to-be moral (of the Kantians, through owning virtuousness), or the will-to-be wise (of the philosophers, through owning wisdom) and even the will-to-be happy (of the Utilitarians, through owning happiness) are all as prideful as the will-to-be rich and famous. (Happiness is not something that can be owned, but is rather a way of life to be lived in. You cannot be happy, but only to live happily. Are you really “living happily” or merely “thinking about happiness”? Do you know the difference? It is possible to think of one as a happy man, even though one may not be living happily, just as it is possible to think of yourself as courageous when you are actually a coward.) The goals may be different for a businessman, a tyrant, a moralist, or even a Utilitarian, but their psychology is the same.
In morality, the ethical man, in despising fear yet unable to transcend it, develops a certain form of psychology of the self in hoping to become or acquire a better self, or a stronger self. He needs to be stronger, to be nobler, to be more compassionate, to be more courageous i.e. he seeks metaphysical ownership. And he may give it a respectable name i.e. the evolution towards a better moral self, which is only a more subtle form of pride seeking. Because he cannot own the unknown world, he chooses to believe that he can own himself (through having a free will), that there is another meaning to life besides enjoying empirical happiness, which is something he can control or own. He therefore seeks to own metaphysical virtuousness, compassion, courage etc. For in owning such metaphysical entities that he believes to be unconditional and thus indestructible, he succeeds in attaining fearlessness (for unconditional virtues cannot be destroyed as conditional empirical happiness) yet at the same time satisfies his need in owning things.
He is more interested in the owning of an ability rather than in the use of the ability, even if he knows that an ability is always meant to be used, and thus it is meaningless to own an usable ability like virtuousness. For if virtuousness is a worthwhile ability to own, then it must be used in eternity, yet that would mean asking God to create a land of poor and suffering people so that you could practice your virtue of generosity forever. Virtuousness is at most only temporarily valuable. As much as you may not want to see it, it is the same whether you need to be rich, or to be capable, or to be wise, or to be moral, or even to be happy (happiness cannot be owned but only lived in). The ethical man feels the same sense of constrain towards moral laws urging him to be moral as the workaholic feels towards the social laws urging him to be capable. (Do not mistake pride for arrogance, for in wanting to be humble, a humble man is already prideful.)
Why does an athlete train himself to break the world record? If he runs to gain a prudent profit, wouldn’t it be better to learn doing business instead, for the chance of success in business is definitely greater than to break the world record? Yes, it is possible that he is doing it for the mere sake of gaining fame, but nevertheless it is also possible to imagine him trying to break the world record simply for the sake of breaking it, in order to prove to himself that he is strong and able. For in ascertaining that he is able, he feels that he is in possession of something valuable, probably called athletic talent. He did it as disinterested as any Kantian moral act, simply for the sake of wanting to be strong, as the moralist wants to be moral. Why does the son of a rich man insist to set up his own business, instead of inheriting his career directly from his father? Of course he may want to gain praise for doing so, but it is still possible to imagine that he wants to do it simply for the sake of doing it, in order to prove to himself that he is a capable man. He is not after prudent riches, for he can gain them easier from his father.
Neither is he doing it for the sake of happiness, for he would not have wanted to go bankrupt to start all over again in his business. He did it for the mere sake of ascertaining the fact that he is a capable man, for it gives him a certain joy in knowing that he is a capable man i.e. that he possesses the talent of capability. The joy of possession (be it talent or virtuousness), or the joy of being (whether is it to be capable or moral) is none other than the perverted joy of pride i.e. the perverted joy of mere ownership. Although the goals are different, the motivation is the same i.e. the need to own something valuable. The Kantian moralist is thus prompted by pride, not in the sense of trying to gain fame through acting morally, but in the sense of wanting to enjoy the ownership of virtuousness itself. While he sees only that one ought to be compassionate, rather than to act compassionately, he would nevertheless choose to believe that there is a need to act compassionately. For only in this way can he develop an empirical way that would allow him to ascertain to himself that he owns virtuousness.
He needs a way to ascertain to himself that he is moral, just as the rich man needs a to spend his money in order to ascertain to himself that he is rich. He refuses to choose faith (for hope is not something to be owned but rather a way of life to be led), and believes instead in free-will, which can help him satisfy his pride, for only if he is free to own can he say proudly that what he owns is truly his. (Now, do not confuse the motivation of pride with the motivation to gain fame. A prideful man can be as humble as anyone, desiring nothing even fame itself. Yet as long as he wants to be moral, then he is prideful, committing moral acts to ascertain to himself that he is such a person. For to be is to be prideful.) (Note that the general Happiness of an ethical man is the perverted joy of pride i.e. in owning, unlike the general Happiness of the aesthetic man which is security from suffering. Only when he has secured his pride can he continue on his life.)
Yes, a moralist may be reluctant in carrying out moral acts, but doesn’t the athlete also hope that the world record may be of a lower standard so that it will be easier for him to break it at times when he is suffering during the training? (Only happy acts are ever done willingly. Please do not mistake the fame-seeker for a prideful man, for fame-seeking is a form of love-seeking like the child who needs the attention of his mother, and is thus done willingly. But pride is not fame-seeking, and a loner can be more prideful than anyone in wanting to be a loner.) Similarly, the Kantian moralist may not look eagerly forward to the performance of moral acts, yet he can still nevertheless be prompted by his perverted need to own, in this case virtuousness, to carry out moral acts reluctantly.
For man is by nature dependent on empirical occurrences i.e. every successful act of virtuousness reminds him that he is virtuous, and every failure reminds him that he does not possess what he needs. (Ask yourself, why does the teenager get into fights so often, even though he has absolutely no intention of becoming a boxer? Isn’t it an attempt to prove to himself that he is courageous, even though he knows that there is absolutely no need to fight in order to ascertain that he is courageous, for surely it is because one is courageous that he dares to fight, not the other way round?) The moralist is thus prompted by the fear of not owning what he believes to be valuable i.e. virtuousness, just as the teenager is prompted by the fear of not owning courage. Hence, he does the moral act disinterestedly and dutifully, with the sole intention of increasing his faith and ascertaining to himself that he owns virtuousness, just as the rich man needs to spend money in order to ascertain to himself that he is rich.
Kantians have always attempted to prove that there is something special and metaphysical about ethics through the feeling of remorse that is unlike the feeling of regret. Because the feeling of regret is already concerned with worldly prudent gain, the feeling of remorse must therefore be concerned with the metaphysical, and thus the metaphysical must exist, since conscience exists undoubtedly. Yet they have never thought that it is only because of their perverted need to own indestructible metaphysical things that they are forced to believe in the existence of the metaphysical in the first place, which eventually leads to the feeling of remorse as a result indirectly. Yes, the feeling of remorse is about the metaphysical, but it is only because you have chosen to believe in the existence of the metaphysical in the first place that the feeling of remorse arises.
Ask yourself, will Christ be angry if you throw stones at Him? Surely not, for He doesn’t need others to respect Him, unlike the prideful Kantian who demands others to respect the virtuousness he owns. The notion of respect is the driving force for a prideful ethical man. He enjoys the perverted joy of pride through respecting concepts and ideas, and in turn he will also needs others to respect the values he owns. Respect and honor, these are all prideful concepts. There is nothing good in respecting anything, or being honorable at all. Christ asks you to love your neighbors, not merely to respect or honor them. And if you can’t, then you must hope and believe that you can. Yes, the power of pride is stronger than any fear, for it is 99% good, yet only the happiness of love is 100% good.
The ethical man reasons ethically and thus transcendentally: If I want to own the virtue of honesty permanently, not only must I be prepared to speak the truth, I must also believe that there is a duty for me to speak the truth, for how can the virtue of honesty be absolutely valuable if there are cases where I need not speak the truth? (This is how the concept of duty arises for an ethical man, for he needs to believe in it in order to make what he owns absolutely valuable, for surely something that is absolutely valuable to own permanently must be applicable at all times, under all circumstances.
Similarly, the metaphysical concept of moral truth and respect arises in this way i.e. out of the psychological need of pride in man. And in wanting to own things, he must thus at the same time believe that he himself is fully capable and free to own that which he wants, since a thing cannot be said to be truly yours if you can only obtain it through chance as the grace of God (or are being determined and thus forced to own by external factors), rather than by your own power and freedom. He must thus choose to believe in the logically unintelligible concept of free-will.)
Lastly, I need to discuss the morality of the religious man. Now, a religious man does not see ethics in the same way as an ethical man sees it. An ethical man seeks for a description and he is contented with it, which would tell him how to act, so that he may now have a way in ascertaining to himself that he is moral, which he needs in order to enjoy the prideful ownership of virtuousness. (Just as the rich man needs to know what is the most expensive hobby he could play in order to ascertain to himself that he is rich, the moralist needs to know what he should do in order to ascertain to himself that he is moral. An explanation does not appeal to an ethical man as much as a description, for an explanation is like the untying of the knot of a string, which results finally in merely an untied string i.e. nothingness, and the prideful man cannot see how nothingness can ever bring him anything, for he wants to own rather than to live.)
The religious man however, does not believe in free-will, and thus there is no need for him to know what actions are right or wrong. Because he believes that life is determined to the very last atom, thus in a sense, everything that happens is right, though not in itself but for a future transcendental purpose. (I must apologize to the ethical man for scaring the wit out of him in saying that everything, yes, everything including every evil ever committed is right, for it is determined by God.) He sees life as a whole, in Leibniz’s term, life is like a painting, consisting of both joy and suffering, and (morally) right and wrong actions, in order to create the perfect painting.
The religious man is thus not interested in a mere description but rather an explanation that brings meaning to his life. He knows that he is determined to eat during lunch time, but he would still need to know why should he be eating during lunch time? (The reason or explanation is of course that he needs to eat in order to be healthy so that he may carry on his life.) This is because he needs to see rationality in everything in order for him to believe that life has a meaning as a whole, or that there is God, so that his sense of tragic may be curbed. Now, if one is acting compassionately merely towards his loved ones, there is no mystery in that, for the affair of seeing his loved ones happy is a meaningful affair, and thus provides a reason for acting compassionately towards his loved ones.
The mystery comes only when one discovers that he also performs compassionate acts towards his enemies because of his, in Kantian terms, sense of duty. And the mystery arises, why do I need to act compassionately to my enemies as well? Why am I determined to act in such a disinterested and dutiful way, obeying only the sense of duty? Is it right for me to be determined in such a disinterested way? Can I prove that disinterested Kantian actions also have a reason behind it, just as every action I have ever committed? I need to see a reason in even disinterested Kantian actions in order to account for the meaningfulness of life as a whole.
The moral religious man thus reasons ethically and transcendentally: If life is to be perfectly happy and meaningful, there must be God and I must also be living in an unconditional realm free from the laws of Physics. Yet this is not so. This present life in a conditional realm must thus be only a preparation for an eternal life of happiness in an unconditional realm. And if there is God, which I need to believe in, then there must be a meaning in this present life too, for how can an omnipotent God create a conditional realm without meaning and purpose? I mean, this life must be meaningful in order for there to be at least a possibility for it to be a preparation for a transcendental purpose.
This life must thus be led, not with the goal of attaining worldly conditional happiness, but rather with the intention of preparing oneself for eternal unconditional happiness. And thus I need not be determined solely by my prudent experience and desire, for life cannot have a transcendental meaning if I’m determined solely by prudent experience. I must also be determined to act disinterestedly because life is not about worldly gain, but rather about a future transcendental happiness. I must thus be determined by the unconditional will of God, which is a compassionate and courageous will, and thus this explains why I sometimes try to act courageously and compassionately in order to create an aesthetically meaningful life even if I’m not courageous or compassionate. (Note that the general Happiness of the religious man is the meaningfulness of the whole of Existence i.e. the existence of God. Only in faith can he carry on his life.)
Such a man is thus motivated by a transcendental purpose of happiness, rather than by a prudent purpose of happiness of the Utilitarian or a metaphysical purpose of the Kantian. Now, you may ask how such a mysterious transcendental purpose may be able to motivate, for isn’t it mere superstitious to believe in a transcendental purpose? Yes, it is indeed not clear how moral acts could be responsible for eventual happiness, since it is not within man’s ability to understand the intention of God, but the point is that the religious man is prompted by his own transcendental reasoning to believe in some transcendental purpose in order for the whole Existence itself to be meaningful.
He is not superstitious (for only the fearful aesthetic man is superstitious) but faithful and thus strong enough (not only to move mountains but also) to believe that life has a transcendental meaning. He is truly an unworldly man, not in the sense that he loves the mysterious happiness of Nirvana, but that he is prepared to see this worldly life as a preparation for future transcendental happiness, unlike the Kantian who can be satisfied by success in mere worldly physical acts or moral willing in the present. (Yes, although faith needs no empirical justification, including even the empirical experience of moral obligation, it nevertheless needs transcendental philosophical reasoning.)
To an aesthetic man, moral acts are done for the reward (of absence from suffering) in Heaven. To him, there can be nothing but only a business deal with God. That is why Kant despises such an attitude in living morally i.e. to do good for the sake of a prudent reward. And he is right in despising such an attitude, for it belongs to men of a spiritual development inferior to him. The ethical man despises the aesthetic man, for he despises the notion of a business-like acting for a future prudent sake. He is right in that life is not about doing business with God, but he is wrong in thinking that all prudent acts are business-like. Does the athlete who trains hard to win the championship doing a business deal? If he is merely doing a business deal, he should be glad if he can attain his goal free-of-charge i.e. without the need of working hard for it.
Does the true athlete want to win without training hard for it? Would he be satisfied if his opponents are of a standard much lower than him, or that they are paid in advance to lose out to him? Surely not! An athlete is indeed doing a prudent act by training hard to win the championship, yet the act of training hard to win the tournament, although a prudent act, is not a business deal. Not every prudent act is a business act. And it is the same in the way we live i.e. we are to live as friends of God, helping (in whatever way you believe) and thus aiding Him in constructing a future perfect Heaven for all. There is no business deal at all, but only a friendship with God. You are here to work with God, not here to work for God. For example, in the case of making a decision, the fearful aesthetic man will say, “Please God, decide for me” whereas the prideful ethical man will say, “I will try my best.” Only the religious man will say, “Please God, be with me through it all.”
Now, I need you to consider the words of Christ, Always be the last (to reach, not never to reach). In other words, the Christian view on the concept of sacrifice is very much different from the common view. For the common man finds greatness, which is actually a form of pride, in being able to sacrifice himself for the greater good. He chooses not to believe in that all will be saved, for in believing so, he finds himself as common as the coward. Yet, the urgency we feel inside us to be morally great does not call for our sacrifice in the commonly believed way, but rather is the call for us to believe that we are capable of walking the more difficult road to reach our destination. Moral greatness lies in possessing the Christian faith that life has a meaning towards eventual happiness (since happiness will never be sacrificed and therefore you must always believe it to be there), rather than forsaking happiness.
For as committing suicide (i.e. the murdering of oneself) is as wrong as the murdering of others, to sacrifice oneself is also as wrong as to sacrifice others. Now, compare the mistaken Kantian understanding of moral greatness to the understanding of the concept of sacrifice. Just as sacrifice does not mean giving up or forsaking (like a hypocrite), but rather choosing the more difficult road to attain (as opposed to the easy road), moral greatness does not mean doing an act with no purpose (like a robot), but rather doing it with a transcendental goal in mind (as opposed to having only a prudent goal). (Notice again, the religious man is quite similar to the aesthetic man who defines moral greatness as acting out of the fear of divine (or transcendental) punishment. But they are still different in their attitude i.e. one fears, the other dares to hope.)
Kant believes that it is the sense of duty that is involved in moral acts. Yet have you ever asked how this mysterious sense of duty arises? In our daily affairs, the sense of duty arises out of the fear of contempt by the law. But in the case of the metaphysical sense of duty in Kantian ethics, where does it come from? From the principle of universalizability? Yet this is surely chimerical, as I have shown. To the aesthetic man, the sense of duty arises out of the fear of divine punishment, as opposed to the fear of worldly social laws. To the ethical man, it arises out of the need of pride to own something permanently (here virtuousness i.e. the ability to carry out moral acts unconditionally), and thus the idea of duty arises i.e. that one who possesses this ability permanently must consequently be obliged to act under all circumstances, or else there cannot be a sense in saying that one can own such an ability permanently.
To the religious man, a person who is free from all fears including even the fear of fear itself, he is not bounded by a mere sense of duty for he knows that all obedience are cowardice. Instead he acts, not in accord to a sense of duty, but rather in accord to a sense of destiny i.e. he believes that he is destined to act (through carrying out the will of God) for a transcendental purpose. If there is only a sense of duty towards moral acts, why then does the doctor feel that it is more wrong for him not to help when he encounters a car accident than the common man? Remember in Kantian ethics, the helping of others can only be an imperfect duty. Thus if man is prompted only by a sense of imperfect duty, it will not be a surprise if the doctor feels the same sense of imperfect duty as the common man, yet any man knows that a doctor is more obliged to help than the common man.
It is because he feels that if life is to be rational and meaningful (for a transcendental purpose), he should help (or be determined or destined to help by God) since there must be a reason for God to make him a doctor first and then guiding him here. For this life must be led in an artistically meaningful way in order for there to be at least a possibility of a transcendental purpose in this life. I mean, life would truly be meaningless if a doctor refuses to help if he can, although there is nothing meaningless about a common man refusing to help since there is nothing he can do anyway. Failing to do so will threaten the very meaningfulness of this life. It is such an artistic sense of destiny that the doctor feels that prompts him to carry out moral acts, not just an abstract sense of duty.
Thus ethics is not about the passive refrain from acts which needs only the prideful sense of duty. Rather it is about active acts towards carrying out the compassionate and courageous will of God, prompted by a man’s sense of destiny. It is not about the mere refrain from physical stealing, but rather about being determined by the courageous will of God to endure the pain of hunger for a transcendental purpose through faith and his sense of destiny. Similarly, the perverted killer must fight his killing instinct through believing that God is determining him in a courageous way. And if he succeeds, then he will naturally opt not to kill, for he has no more reason to do so. (Yes, life is determined, but it is determined in a reasonable way.)
The prideful ethical man, upon sacrificing the innocent Jews to the Nazi in order to refrain from lying will say, “This I do, only God can judge me, not men.” Whereas the religious, fighting courageously with all his might against the cowardice in him will cry out, “Please God, be with me through my darkest hour.” (Notice that the cry of a religious man is more similar to that of the fearful aesthetic man which is, “Please God, save me from darkness.”) There is something very special and also personal about ethics, something about courage rather than mere obedience (to mysterious moral laws), something about one’s destiny rather than mere duty.
Whereas the aesthetic man is prompted by fear and bounded by guilt, as the ethical man is prompted by pride and bounded by remorse, the religious man is prompted by his faith (in his destiny) and bounded by his sense of tragic sadness. Thus I want to discuss how such a sense of tragic sadness arises. I want to ask the Kantian, a duty to what? How do you know that you have the duty to give money to the beggar instead of the duty to be a compassionate person i.e. how do know that you have a duty to do rather than a duty to be? What sign from your conscience tells you to do (through pretending), rather than to be? If you feel that all you need is to do, rather than to be, is it then all right to laugh at the suffering children on television, since you can’t do anything about it? You feel that you should be kind, not only that your face should not be twisted to giggle.
You feel that you ought to be kind, not merely to pretend so. In fact, what is the use of knowing what you ought to do, if you really reach out to your pocket to discover that there is actually no money in there i.e. what is the use of knowing what you ought to do, if you can never anticipate the future and thus could only do what you ought to do probably, instead of certainly. It is meaningless to feel that you ought to give money to the beggar since it is never a certainty that you have money, for you are trying to give money to the beggar, not merely to put your hand into your pockets. The first answer by a Kantian is this, so long as one has the intention to give charity, then he has fulfilled his responsibility. Yet surely you can logically imagine someone possessing such an intention, yet failing to do charity on every occasion, if you believe that intention is some private mental state that one can own.
The second answer is more ingenious i.e. although one cannot give money if he does not have any, he can nevertheless still try his best to do so. I want to ask, is this really so? Can you really try to give money when you do not have any to give? Is it possible to try lifting the chair that is non-existing? Of course it is possible to imagine yourself trying to lift an imagined chair, but not only can you not lift the non-existing chair, you cannot even try to, for you simply do not know where the chair is. And similarly, if you also can never know what the next moment or the immediate future holds, why should you be able to try doing anything at all? Not only is it impossible to give money if you do not have money, it is also impossible to try giving if you do not have anything to give. (You are merely bewitched by the way you use the word ‘try’ in philosophy and your daily life. Remember, the word ‘try’ has a very different meaning when it is used in philosophy as compared to its daily use.
Whenever we try to do an act in our daily lives, say trying to run a marathon race, we do not mean really lifting your legs physically and thrusting them forward. Rather we mean that we should be persistent in our hope to attain the final goal we have in mind i.e. in the case of trying to run a marathon, the final goal is the completion of the race or the gaining of a prize etc. Of course, from usual experience, we will need to run with our legs in order for there to be at least a chance for the attainment of our goal, but it is always the goal we have in our mind, not any act of running. When we try doing something in our daily lives, we always have a temporal future goal in mind, which is not the immediate act itself, for it is logically pointless to have any immediate act in mind since it is logically impossible to know the immediate future.
What I want to say is that the word ‘try’ is used differently in real life and in philosophy, and to say something like “You should try your best in acting Kantianly moral i.e. doing something solely for itself, even if you cannot succeed,” is nonsensical in Kantian ethical philosophy. You feel that such a phase means something noble simply because you are using a wrong analogy taken from your daily life. Yes, to try doing something is a noble affair in our daily lives, for we mean by trying in our daily lives really the persistence of hope, but in ethical philosophy, we mean by something entirely different and thus senseless.) What I want to say is simply this, the concept of free-will is logically unintelligible, and thus there is no such a thing as an ought to do, but only a state-of-affair that ought to be or exist, which can only be looked forward and hoped for.
The Kantian may say that it is not any specific action that we feel obliged to do, but rather we simply feel that we ought to help i.e. to act compassionately. Yet doesn’t the argument apply similarly, since you can never anticipate whether will you be able to help in anyway in the future? So long as a physical action is involved, there is no point in feeling that you ought to help (or to act compassionately) since you can never anticipate the future. Yes, you do feel the urgency to do something, yet this is merely a cultural reflex reaction.
Remember, a cultural reflex action cannot be a moral action (for a moral action must be done intentionally i.e. being aware of the sacrifice of personal happiness while doing it), anymore than stretching out your hand to stop a vase from falling off the table. The feeling that there is something you ought to do (which is reflexive in nature) is only culturally instilled. What is truly culturally unconditional is the feeling that we ought to be a compassionate man, not that we ought to pretend to be one through acting.
We feel that we ought to be a compassionate person who will try his best to help the poor, not merely that we ought to help the poor. Why do we feel that it is wrong to kick the beggar, yet has never felt that it is wrong to kick the sandbag? This is because we are causing suffering to someone that we feel that it wrong to kick the beggar, not simply because of the action of kicking itself. Kicking the beggar portraits the cruelty in us, though kicking the sandbag won’t. It is not the mere act of kicking that we feel to be wrong, but rather that it is wrong to be a cruel man. Yes, we may not really feel sad if the beggar is suffering, but we feel that we ought to feel sad for the beggar i.e. we ought to be a compassionate person, one who delights in the happiness and feels sad for the suffering of others, and thus will try our best in helping others, rather than a cruel man who wishes for and delights in the suffering of others.
What we feel in our conscience is an urgency to be a certain type of person, rather than an urgency to perform any action. In fact, it doesn’t even tell you that you can be a compassionate person through your own will, though you ought to be so. The thought that we need to perform physically in a certain way to ease our conscience is the result of our upbringing, rather than a logical inference from our conscience. It is only because we were taught from youth that the physical performance itself could ease our conscience that we now feel that the mere external performance on the outside has the miraculous effect of easing something inside us. If the moral quality is something unconditional, how can it then be eased through mere pretence on the conditional outside? It is not that we ought to do compassionate acts, but rather that we ought to be a compassionate person. It is only because our culture is more interested in efficiency than truth, such that it believes in the freedom of physical limbs rather than the freedom of being, that we were taught the doctrine that although one cannot be kind, one can still pretend to be kind with his limbs.
In fact, not only do we feel that we ought to be a compassionate person, we also feel that there ought to be no beggars, or that everyone ought to be rich, or that there ought to be God to help these beggars. In other words, the ought we feel has always been an existential ought i.e. to be, rather than a moral ought i.e. to do. It is because of our culture in believing free-will that the concept of ought to do arises, and consequently the illusion that there seems to be two different kinds of ought, instead of only the existential kind. (Ask yourself, why is prostitution wrong? How can sex be wrong, or the giving of money to a woman, since you even give money to a beggar? The ‘ought not’ we feel inside us concerning prostitution is the feeling that such a situation i.e. the situation where a man cannot have sex with the woman he truly loves, ought not to be.)
The truth is, we can neither be kind nor pretend to act kindly, for the philosophical concept of free-will is nonsensical. And once we see that it is impossible to become a compassionate man through our own will, we will then begin to hope and believe that we can be so through God, since this is now the only possible route. We can never will existentially, and thus the will-to-hope and believe becomes the only possible and important will. And why do we feel tragic sadness, instead of remorseful as the Kantian, in being cruel and cowardly?
The reason why we feel an obligation to be a compassionate man, instead of a cruel man, is simply that we cannot imagine a happy man in love yet cruel in nature. A cruel man is one who has lost the knowledge of love, and the lost of such a knowledge of happiness is a tragedy. Similarly we feel an obligation to be a courageous man, instead of a coward, for we cannot imagine a happy man, who is inspired by the greatest power i.e. love, remaining still a coward. For it indicates your lack of the ability to be inspired by love, and thus your lack of the ability to appreciate and enjoy love, and this is a saddening affair.
Thus we feel that we ought to be a compassionate and courageous man, just as we feel that life ought to have a meaning, or there ought to be God, solely for the sake of happiness i.e. we feel that we ought to be living as men capable of appreciating the happiness of love. Isn’t this why the truly compassionate and courageous never feel himself to be so, for he is only interested in the happiness of love, rather than merely to be successful in being compassionate and courageous, as the Kantian who delights in his own virtuousness? There is ever only one ought i.e. the existential ought that life should be happy in love, which in turn requires one to be compassionate and courageous. And it is this existential sense of ought which gives rise to the sense of tragic, rather than the sense of remorse. The truly free man feels only tragic sadness, never guilt or remorse. He is sad about his own lack of compassion and courage, just as he is sad about the suffering of life.
In this section, my aim is to demystify ethics. Ethics has this mystifying belief that there is a mysterious faculty in human called the conscience, which is capable of even receiving divine laws from God. I want to ask, is there really such a special faculty in man that is unaccountable by normal reasoning? Is there really a metaphysical realm consisting of metaphysical laws which our conscience commands us to obey without any valid reason? I want to refute such a mystical view completely. The success of this refutation is important to proving that not only is happiness more important than virtuousness, but also that there is only happiness. (The view here can only be understood completely after you have read my explanation of ethics.)
I want to ask, is there a difference between moral obligation and prudent obligation? We seem to feel that there is a certain more immediate obligation paid to ethics than prudence. Yet doesn’t one feel the same obligation towards studying hard as any moral obligation, if he wants to pass his exam? Yes, if the student falters in his wish to score good grades in his exam, then he would of course no longer feel the obligation to work hard, but if he maintains his wish to score well, the obligation he feels is exactly the same as any moral obligation. What I want to say is, there is only a single form of obligation i.e. the obligation to Rationality itself, just that Rationality itself could be used in different ways i.e. categorically or hypothetically.
When one uses the phase “moral obligation” (as compared to prudence obligation), it has the danger of bewitching him into thinking that there is really a special realm of metaphysical existence called morality (as there is the realm of daily prudence) that we are somehow mysteriously commanded to obey, perhaps by God (as Christians would like to believe), or by the mysterious faculty of conscience in man etc. (Now, I’m not trying to say that there is no such a thing as conscience, but rather that it is not as Kantians believe i.e. that it has nothing to do with happiness. Yes, conscience is indeed not the guardian of happiness, but this does not mean that it is not a requirement for happiness, as I shall show in my explanation of ethics.) We should rather say, instead of “moral obligation”, “obligation to Rationality (which is a logical necessity) used in ethics”. There is nothing mystifying about ethics.
Kant says that there are two different senses in which the word ‘ought’ is used? We ought to be honest as compared to: we ought to study hard, if we want to pass. Is this really so? Now consider a third form of imperative analytical in nature i.e. if you want to draw a square, then you ought to draw a line first, then followed by another at right angle to it …etc. Now are you going to say that there is a third sense of ‘ought’ previously undiscovered? Surely not! It is only that the same word ‘ought’ has not been previously used in the third way. What I want to say is, that there is only one same word ‘ought’ used in three different ways, rather than that there are metaphysically three different senses of the same word ‘ought’. Likewise, let’s consider the logical forms of the three different types of imperative. In a hypothetical imperative, the logical form is: to act prudently, you ought to obey the social laws. In an analytical imperative, the logical form is: to act correctly, you ought to obey the trigonometry laws. And in a categorical imperative: to act rightly, you ought to obey the moral laws.
Thus there is no essential difference between the logical forms of different imperatives. It is only that the same concept of Imperative itself used in three different ways. What I want to say is simply, that there are not actually different forms of imperative, but only the same Rationality, or Ought, or Imperative used in different ways. And when we feel an obligation to a categorical imperative, it is really still the same old obligation to Rationality itself, though Rationality is used differently this time.
Yes, Rationality can be used for different tasks, but the respect (in Kant’s term) we pay to Rationality itself is the same. In other words, there is no special metaphysical realm populated with divine moral laws, as Christians would like to believe. To repeat the words of Wittgenstein, nothing empirical in this world, absolutely nothing including even the experience of moral obligation can prove that there is God (as Christians would like to believe), or a world beyond. There can never be any empirical proof or justification for the faith in God. Yet the point is, faith needs no empirical justification. To use the words of Wittgenstein, life has its own wonderful and marvelous way to make you faithful without the need of any empirical justification.
I want to demystify the concept of metaphysical justice here. Is the concept of punishment a meaningful one? Kantian moralists seem to think so, that there is something metaphysical called justice, that a man should therefore be punished (not merely deterred) for being evil. Now I want to ask, if you say that a criminal needs to be punished, then you would need also to tell me how are you going to punish him? If he has stolen a piece of bread, should he then be jailed, or caned or his hands chopped off? Even if you know that he has only (morally) willed precisely 50% of what a perfect moral person could have willed, it is still impossible to give me a precise amount of punishment that needs to be inflicted. (An eye for an eye? Why show favoritism to the number one i.e. why not two eyes for an eye?
Remember, your sight would still not be restored even if the criminal is to blind both his eyes, let alone one.) And even if God Himself is to tell me an answer, I would still find it impossible to understand, from a logical point of view. For in what way can such a proof be like? How is it even logically possible to give me a proof at all? And do not say that the amount of punishment that should be inflicted is dependent on the society, for we are now talking about philosophy, not sociology. If you cannot give me a precise punishment (since it is logically impossible to give a proof), then I must say that the concept of punishment for the sake of justice is merely chimerical. Isn’t this why Christ says, if the thief wants your shirt, give him your money as well i.e. we should try our best to help the criminal, not punish him.
There is the philosophical question on, if there is no such a thing as justice, that punishment is only a deterrent tool, why then shouldn’t we punish someone as harsh as possible, so that others would be more deterred than ever? For if the concept of punishment is based not on justice, but on happiness, then it seems quite all right to punish someone harshly so that the maximum happiness of all be attained. Such a worldly view arises from failing to believe that this life has a transcendental purpose. In other words, in Socratic terms, the good can never be harmed more than the evil, for the good is actually closer to the transcendental happiness than the evil, although the good is presently further from prudent happiness than the evil.
And if the good can never really be harmed more than the criminal, shouldn’t the greater emphasis be placed on the criminal instead? We should therefore jail him solely to help and educate him, rather than to punish or make use of him as a deterrent tool. Through isolating the criminal from the others just as we isolate the man with an infectious disease, we can achieve the win-win situation where the criminal could be helped and educated with the world safe from his attacks. (Do not say that we are harming the criminal if we take away his present freedom, for we can imagine that he could still become good and well eventually even if he is jailed now, unlike the case of chopping off his hands, for even if he is to become good later, he cannot be really well without his hands.)
Should the first in a competition be rewarded or should the person who could derive the greatest joy from the award be rewarded instead? It seems that the first should or ought to be rewarded, yet what if I ask now, how much should he then be rewarded? Do the second and the third need to be rewarded too, and if so how much percentage of the total reward should the first takes? If you cannot give me a precise amount or percentage, then the concept of fairness is again chimerical. (Luckily, Christ shares my sentiments when He talks of the parable of the gardener who goes about seeking workers to tend his garden, yet giving the same amount of money to all, even to those who come late.) Our present concept of fairness in rewarding the first is but a business deal in the hope of making the competition more exciting.
It is only because you have initially chosen to call the money a reward, with the intention of making the competition more exciting, which confuses you eventually. For the definition of reward means analytically and emptily that it is something awarded to the first. If you have not done this, but have merely said that the reward of being first is none other than being first itself, then there will be no confusion. There is nothing logically inconsistent with having a competition where there will be a lucky draw in the end so long as you do not call the prize of the lucky draw a reward, which is by an analytical definition given to the first, except of course the competition will be less exciting. And instead of giving the prize randomly through a lucky draw, why not give the money to the one who will be the happiest, for he will also be the one who has worked the hardest for it, since it is irrational for a man to wish for something yet not put in a correspond effort to it.
Is grave-robbery something inherently wrong in itself? A moral fanatic would probably feel so. Ask yourself, if you are stranded in the desert, dying of starvation, and you happen to see a corpse with a piece of bread in his hand, is it wrong to take the food from the dead? Grave-robbing is wrong only because we believe that it will disturb the dead thus causing agony to them, or that the grave-robbers have the danger of becoming a greedy and thus unhappy person (with no love in him), not that it is inherently wrong in itself.
In this section I want to discuss how the belief in free-will arises. I want to ask, how is it ever possible to believe in free-will, when you can never give me a definition on what it is in the first place? How is it ever possible to believe in something that is even unthinkable, for the concept of free-will and responsibility are logically unintelligible concepts, just as the concept of a “circle with four sides”. As you cannot understand what is a “circle with four sides”, you also cannot understand what free-will means except in a negative way i.e. free-will means nothing more than that you are unable to find a meaning in determinism. (The concept of nothingness is also negative, for it does not refer to anything but means only that one is unable find anything here.) Kant actually believes that one can nevertheless believe in the existence of free-will even if one could not understand the concept fully. Yes, I would agree that this may be possible, that you may have the right to believe in free-will even if it is unintelligible.
But the point is, if it is already unintelligible, though you may have the right to believe in it, how on earth do you know that it is a correct and meaningful affair to believe in it? Couldn’t it be possible that the existence of free-will is something wrong and meaningless? How can you be sure that being free is something good? Do not say that free-will is good because it is good to be free, for the daily concept of freedom does not even have the slightest resemblance to the philosophical concept of freedom. Whether are we really free in the philosophical sense has absolutely nothing to do with the way we are going to live, for determinism is not fatalism. I know that whenever you hear the word ‘freedom’, you will conjure mental images of the ‘blue sky’ and ‘fresh air’, and when a philosopher says that freedom is not good, you will feel like crying out, how could the ‘blue sky’ be worthless? Yet you do not understand that the concept of freedom in philosophy has absolutely nothing to do with the ‘blue sky’ and ‘fresh air’.
If our ancestors had used the word chaos instead of freedom, would you now think that free-will (or chaos-will) is good? And please do not say that you are not thinking of the ‘blue sky’ whenever you are thinking of free-will, for how is it possible to think of a logically unintelligible concept like free-will at all, for surely you cannot be thinking of a “circle with four sides”? I mean, if you cannot think of the “circle with four sides” as beautiful, why should you be able to think of a logically unintelligible concept like free-will as meaningful in bringing a meaning to your life? If you are not thinking of the ‘blue sky’, then you must be thinking of pride, since it is impossible to think of an unintelligible concept, just as a prideful child insisting to draw a “circle with four sides” in order to impress his teacher.
Remember, just as you do not mean that there is really something called ‘nothing’ when you say, “There’s nothing here,” you do not really believe either that there is something called ‘free-will’ but only in the perverted joy of pride. You believe that it is meaningful to possess a free-will simply because you are unable to find a meaning in determinism. Yet the failure to find a meaning doesn’t mean in the least that there is no meaning to be found. Isn’t the belief in free-will an excuse for your failure and laziness in trying to find a meaning in determinism, which is at least a more intelligible concept than the mysterious unintelligible concept of free-will? But as what I have said, it is only because you are unable to, and postulating a negative concept is going to do worse by justifying your laziness in finding a meaning in determinism.
In the words of the great philosopher Wittgenstein, there can absolutely be no problem whether be it in life or in philosophy. (The problems in science are better called scientific questions, for no man will commit suicide because he cannot understand Relativity.) All philosophical problems have no solution, or better, their solutions lie in understanding how the philosophical problems themselves arise in the first case, and thus the problem is dissolved when one sees clearly that the problem lies in the asking of the question itself i.e. the problem lies not with the question but rather the questioner who is bewitched by his language. Similarly, there is never a philosophical problem of free-will or determinism, for how can there ever be a problem if you can’t even imagine or define the concept of free-will? I mean, you do worry about being unable to come first in a drawing competition, but do you worry about being unable to draw a “circle with four sides”?
You are not really worrying about free-will and responsibility, for it is impossible to worry about that which you cannot imagine and understand. You cannot have an intellectual problem of free-will when you cannot define intellectually what free-will means. What you have is a philosophical problem (instead of an intellectual one) arising from both the bewitchment of language and the seduction of pride. Just as all philosophical problems are raised because the questioner himself is bewitched by his own language, the problem of free-will lies with the free-willist himself who is seduced by his pride. (For a prideful man needs to believe himself as free and capable in order to own what he wants truly and personally. He does not believe that anything good can come through grace or chance.
Though there is absolutely no rational reason to believe in that, he will probably believe with his life that hard work (and thus free-will) is more valuable than faith. And the greater he insists, the more pride he shows. Remember, Christ did not want us to try hard in moving the mountain, but rather to believe that the mountain can be moved.) Only when the free-willist sees clearly why he asks the question i.e. out of pride and bewitchment, can he find a solution, or better a dissolution, to the ethical cum philosophical problem of free-will itself, just as all other philosophical problems. Ethical philosophers have never understood this plain truth that the concept of ethics can never be intelligible, since the concept of free-will has always been unintelligible. They have never realized that it has always been the seduction of pride that makes them believe in ethics. They are merely speaking of pride when they speak of ethics. There is no ethics and religion, but only religion. Ethics is created by man, and only religion is the true creation.
Please do not mistake me for trying to take away a precious part of your life. I believe that every one has the right to believe in that which makes his life meaningful. You are even free to choose believing in elves if that makes you happy. But the case of believing in the logically unintelligible free-will is different, for the unintelligible cannot exist as something that can be taken away and thus I’m cannot really be trying to take away anything from you.
Instead, I’m merely trying to show you that you have never really believed in the meaningfulness of free-will either, just as it is impossible for you to believe in the beauty of a circle with four sides, but rather only in the owning of pride. Just as we have always been fools with some of us knowing himself to be so and others do not, we have always been determinists with some of us knowing it and others don’t. If you still find it difficult to accept that it is, contrary to common belief, precisely the possession of free-will that is really degrading, ask yourself this question: Does God have free-will? If God does not have the freedom to do evil, then He must also be degrading, if the free-willist is right. And if God does have the freedom to do evil and yet will never choose it i.e. that God lives deterministically even if He is free, why couldn’t then man live deterministically too (and thus committing evil deterministically) and yet still be as free (and thus great) as God?
Ask yourself free-willist, do you wish that you would choose the right every moment of your life or just some of the time? Surely you wish that you can always choose the good and refrain from evil every moment of your life. Surely you won’t be contented with being good 90% of the time, and let yourself be evil for the rest. And therefore if you wish to be good every moment of your life, doesn’t this already mean that you wish to be deterministic for every moment in your life, for surely I can now predict your future, which is that you will choose good for every moment in the future. “But wishing to be good every moment does not mean that you would be determined to do so.
You would still need to put in a renewed effort at every moment.” Yes of course, a renewed effort, but nevertheless you would still wish that you will put in a renewed effort successfully every moment, and doesn’t this lead back to the same conclusion, that you will still nevertheless wish for a deterministic situation that you will put in a renewed effort successfully every moment of your life deterministically. In order words, no man could wish for an indeterministic situation but only for a fully deterministic situation. And if you wish for a deterministic situation and yet fail to achieve it, why should you then believe that you can will successfully for the present? Thus, it no longer matters whether you are determined by your own perfect will or the will of God, which are the same since they lead equally to the same deterministic situation.
Of course you can still have your own free-will, but what is the point of owning something that is of no use? The need to own useless things simply for the sake of ownership is pride. You are not to believe that you are determined by your inclinations for a prudent purpose, neither are you to believe that you are free to act without purpose, but only that you are determined by God for a transcendental purpose. Ask yourself, if a criminal suspect has only a 50% probability of having committed the crime, is it right to persecute him or is it better to seek for more evidence.
Surely it is better to let a criminal go free than to persecute an innocent wrongly. And if that is so, why shouldn’t it be the same for the case of blaming someone for his failure in his morality, for isn’t the probability for man to really possess free-will 50% at the very most? The only reason why you need others to believe in free-will as you do is because of the fact that if no one believes in free-will, you may then begin to doubt the value of that which you own, and this is very disheartening for a prideful man who needs to own permanent valuable things. In other words, your belief in that all must possess free-will as you is merely prompted by a selfish motive, out of pride.
I want to ask, who is really the evil man? Isn’t it the man who believes himself to be wise the most foolish of all, and the man (i.e. Socrates) who believes that he himself is foolish the wisest of all? And if this is true, then why couldn’t the man who think that he is moral be the most evil of all? As the wisest knows that he is as foolish as the fool, the truly moral man feels himself to be as evil as any sinner. Not only does he feel that he is as evil as any sinner, he feels that he can never be even slightly better than any sinner i.e. he must be a deterministic Stoic, believing that he can only be saved through the grace of God, not through his own will. For it is not possible to choose believing that he can be good through his own will, and yet at the same time believing that he is as evil as any sinner.
If a man believes that he can become moral through his own will, then he must also believe that he can be better than the sinner, or is already better than the sinner after he did what he thinks is right to do, or else he is merely a hypocrite in his words. Yet how can a man who believes himself to be better than the sinner a truly moral man for, in Christianity, the moral man is one who repents through accepting that he is as evil as any sinner, not one who has become better than the sinner, or else Christ would have encouraged us to work hard, rather than to repent. In short, just as the wisest feels that he can never be wiser than the fool i.e. that there is no such a thing as wisdom, the truly moral man feels that he can never be morally better than the sinner i.e. that there is no such a thing as morality. And pride arises from the unwillingness to accept oneself as a complete sinner with absolutely no prospect of becoming morally better in anyway, except through grace and faith. Thus my conclusion is, the Kantian who believes that he can be better than the sinner is in fact the most evil of men.
The ethical philosopher may try to refute my point that there is no such a thing as a moral truth. His argument is probably something like this: If there is no moral truth, then why are you bothering to tell us the truth that there is no moral truth? Isn’t the truth that there is no moral truth itself also a truth? My answer is simple: The non-existence of moral truths doesn’t imply in the least that there are no non-moral truths such as the truths of Physics. And the truth on the non-existence of moral truths is exactly non-moral in nature, just as the truths of Physics.
Thus there is absolutely no logical inconsistency in believing the non-existence of moral truths. It seems difficult for ethical philosophers to give up the idea of a moral truth i.e. that which you ought to do solely for its own sake, rather than a prudent sake which involves only pragmatic truths. Yet the moralist needs only to ask himself, is the very concept of free-will really meaningful, for the concept of moral truth makes sense only if the concept of free-will is intelligible? Can the moralist ever give me a precise explanation or definition on what the concept of free-will and responsibility mean? If not, what justifies your belief in the existence of moral truths? Contrary to common belief, it is precisely those believing in the existence of moral truths who should worry about their own belief and dishonesty?
This whole article attempts to say only this: You are a happy being, not a moral being. You are a faithful being (and thus powerful enough to move mountains), not a responsible being. It is of course not that you are an irresponsible being, but only that God has never created something called responsibility. Neither is there the wisdom of atheism and acceptance (except for the wisdom of happiness) too, since all is determined. There are only Power and Happiness, nothing more. Just as it is the pride in owning true knowledge that causes one to doubt that nature is fully deterministic though forever unknowable, it is also pride that causes one to believe in morality and free-will. For just as God does not play dice, He does not drink wine either i.e. He is not drunk and thus will create (and see) only one, never two. God is Power, and He created Happiness, and that is all.
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