Values, the source of Emotions

Ability to Reason and to experience Emotion are the two causally related attributes of a man’s consciousness. The nature of his emotion being entirely dependent on the precision of his reason: A man’s emotions are the responses of his consciousness to his evaluations on any aspect of reality, judged against his value choices. 

Man evaluates the facts of reality according to his value choices. When he identifies that a particular course of action is against what he chose to value, it is impossible for him to feel happy about it. Emotional mechanism can only work though evaluation of events according to their effect over a man’s chosen purpose and its significance to his hierarchy of values. However, what set of essential values he chooses to hold: his moral code and why he chooses so, are matters that are open to his volition, hence are within the province of his reason.

Life is a continuous process of self generated and self sustaining action by any living being. A being that cannot identify and achieve its values: objective requirements of its life, cannot live: in which case there is no question of valuing anything. It is the concept life makes the concept value possible. This makes a living being’s life its objectively ultimate value. While plants and other conscious animals have no choice in the matter but to pursue actions to achieve values that further their life, it is man’s consciousness that is volitional in nature. The highest of living beings can choose to act as a suicidal animal. It is because man can choose to act for his own detriment, he needs such a science called Ethics, to help him discover the value choices that are proper for his survival qua man.

If a man chooses to uphold his life as his ultimate value, he will discover that Reason: his ability to identify and integrate the facts of reality, is his primary means to fulfil it, hence his primary value. His consistent moral code will follow. He will value truth, and the competence of his mind to arrive at it. He will value his productivity and chooses to indulge in purposeful actions and as a consequence, is bound to experience happiness: indication of his successful course of life. That a man’s moral code ought to be chosen with fulfilment of his own life as his end value, and the achievement of his own happiness as its purpose, is the principle of individualism: Every man is an end in himself. He should never voluntarily choose to be a slave: commanded to be the means to the ends of others.

When men associate on the principle of individualism, they will discover the concept of individual rights: Liberty to action and free association in a social setting. Trading of value for an equivalent value as judged by the men involved in the trade will be the only proper relation amongst men in such a society. Political consequence of the principle is Laissez Faire Capitalism.

Observe that mutual contempt is the form of association in societies that function on the principle of altruism: That the justification for a man’s survival is the selfless service to his fellow men. That the primary purpose to be chosen by a man is the collective good, the means of achieving which is the sacrifice of his own. By such standard, sacrifice of his values is the measure of judging a man’s virtue, not his ability to achieve them. Contribution to the unearned is to be respected, not compensation to the earned. Concept of individual rights is either alien to such societies, or it exists in a corrupted form: such as a man’s unquestioned right to claim the productive efforts of others. Such societies function through systematising slavery of everyone to everyone, until they eventually collapse.

– Avinash Kumar.

(Also refer to my article: The bridge between metaphysics and ethics, wherein I explained the causal dependance of the nature of emotions on a man’s ability to reason.)

6 thoughts on “Values, the source of Emotions

  1. I have no problem with Reason as a primary weapon in Man’s arsenal to make good choices. But Reason, requires conscious investigation of everything and judging everything based on What you can see, or to put it objectively, You can’t see your decrease in Attention Span with Brain Imaging and other Scans. Just because you can’t see or measure it, you shouldn’t abandon the fact that, most humans who are addicted to Facebook, Twitter or constant interruptions from anything, find it difficult to concentrate on something for long periods. These are subjective. Also, I have immense respect for Rand and her arguments about Reason, Achievement as a bar to judge a man. But still I find it very disturbing to find that she professed Altruism is destructive. Self Interest is good, I agree, and It’s tough to be an Objectivist in a collective community, which demands cooperation between it’s members. I believe, humans of all species, regard Communication/Cooperation/Bonding with others, next only to survival and sex.
    I am not a philosopher Avinash, I don’t intend to be one. But If I make my own system of statements, may be that day, we can have an open discussion. 🙂

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    1. When you make a statement based on concepts that you consciously integrated by your own reason, and can vouch for, and can bet your life on, we can have a discussion. I don’t deal with believers. I teach people who are willing to learn. I learn from people who can teach what they know. Even the discussion I hold with a man who suspends his reason is to showcase it to a rational man who is silently observing the conversation, to let him know that I exist in this world.

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    2. Browsed through your comment, and I see that you are equating “Reason” with “Perceptual level of consciousness”. “Reason” is not interchangeable with “basing your judgements on what you directly perceive through your senses.” Task performed by Reason is integration of perceptual data into concepts by non contradictory definitions, and further integrating these concepts into still higher abstractions by the same process of concept formation. This progress of conceptual chain is the progress of knowledge, and the field of science the man is learning in that context. Reason does require conscious investigation of everything. Only, it requires thinking conceptually. This characteristic of thinking long range, conceptually:beyond the perceptual reality, is the man’s distinction from rest of all the species.

      Considering the context you were discussing,
      “Just because you can’t see or measure it, you shouldn’t abandon the fact that, most humans who are addicted to Facebook, Twitter or constant interruptions from anything, find it difficult to concentrate on something for long periods. These are subjective.”

      Here you are interchanging man’s volition(his ability to make choices) with metaphysical nature of existence. ie., “You DONOT YET SEE it and you DONOT YET MEASURE the evidence” is not equivalent to “You CANNOT see it and CANNOT measure it”. ie., Your choice of not performing the actions required(gathering evidence, performing experimental trials on two or more separate groups:to establish specific reasons for the observed facts pertaining to the collected evidence, finally adding a new concept to the human knowledge by forming a non contradictory definition) is not equivalent to “unknowability” of certain facts of the universe.(Like Kant and some others claim) Existence is completely knowable(objective). It is upto each man to make(or not make) the effort of gaining knowledge. This effectively eliminates Subjectivism from metaphysical view of the Universe. Irrespective of “who” gathered the evidence and in “which” time frame, the principles of science and conceptual conclusions do not alter, given that the investigator was systematic in his approach. A man choosing not to observe a fact or apply reason, doesn’t make the Universe subjective. It only makes the man ignorant.

      Fact that man is a being of volitional consciousness(voluntary use of consciousness. ie., he can make a choice to use his faculty of reason or to suspend it: It doesn’t change the status of the facts of existence) is the reason why he must understand and choose rational values(values that further his life). Either he does that, or he is being manipulated by his philosopher that framed irrational values for him(that work to his detriment).

      Now, Altruism is the principle that “Justification of a Man’s life is his selfless service to other members of the society.” The reason why this principle is evil is, it places a value(collective) above himself, and demands that he subordinate himself to the collective. Once a man has accepted Altruism as a moral principle, voluntarily or forcefully(which is true in most cases), he has turned himself into a slave. A slave is someone who produces a value/property, while others use and dispose of it, consumption by the collective being the justification for his life’s effort). It cuts off the man’s ability to exercise his volition(to choose his own values, form his own goals, and work for them by his own will) and rests that decision with the collective, ie., Altruism preaches that good is what is primarily good for the society at the individual’s expense. A proper goal is what benefits the collective, at the individual’s expense. Politically the logical conclusion of this principle is a completely communist society. Since in practice, the men who run the establishment in a collectivist society decide what is good for the collective, it effectively establishes a Master-Slave dichotomy between men(Establishment telling you what to live for, what goals to form, what to produce, and give them away to who, and when) obliterating any conception of Individual Rights.

      The extreme opposite of the principle of Altruism is the Principle of Individualism: and its logical conclusion is Laissez Faire Capitalism. ie., It is for each man to decide what is good for him, decide his own goals, put his efforts in the channels he sees fit for his goals, and earn his values, and “trade” those values at his “will”. (ie., to perform his own actions and bear their complete consequences) The principle of Individualism made the Concept of “Rights” possible, which is the foundation of civilised society.

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  2. When I was in my teens, Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged invaded my brain. It’s only after Kant, Bargh, Kahneman and few other writers, Rand appeared to be so small. I hope you have a fine transition.

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    1. It is possible that you have done either superficial or highly selective reading of Atlas Shrugged, skipping portions that you thought were unessential to understand the plot of the story, but were crucial for understanding the Philosophical system that Ayn Rand developed: Like Galt’s speech. Many people do it, and develop an undefined “feeling” that Ayn Rand invaded their otherwise noble minds.

      Independently defining your own values and living by them consistently, is nobility. Blind acceptance of handed over values only requires that you suspend your consciousness. Many people betray their own consciousness wilfully, and the likes of Immanuel Kant(or the fictional Ellsworth Toohey) will make it easy for them to do it, by professing that consciousness is impotent, while subjectivists profess that Existence is subjective: for the purpose of escaping the responsibility of rational judgement.

      When you have accepted that everything is open to indefinite interpretation, anything can be “believed” to be possible, and there can be no objective basis for judging the truth of any matter, thus you can convince yourself that you can transition into any conclusion, perpetually re-evaluating your own self, with ever increasing degree of uncertainty: because any subjectivist can come up with a new interpretation of existence, that may swing the popular opinion against your favour. When the truth is turned into a matter of majority opinion, your chronic “need to belong” with the collective will convince you that anything that suits the majority view must be good. Good luck with that.

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