The bridge between Metaphysics and Ethics

The meaning of ‘value’ is that which is valued by an entity capable of valuing. ie., value is that for which an entity acts to achieve or preserve, in face of at least one other available alternative course to pursue. Where there are no alternatives possible, no choices are possible, hence no question of valuing anything arises.

The premise I identified here is, Value is the chosen. The choice is made by the entity: Either it is explicitly made by conscious choice or implicitly by evading cognitive effort.

Life is the fundamental alternative chosen by every entity possessing it, in the face of the other alternative, death. Existence of life is not unconditional, since life is a process of voluntary, self-sustaining activity to be pursued throughout the course of organism’s existence as a living being. Entity that fails to recognise and meet the requirements of its choice to live, will implicitly choose death, and becomes inanimate matter.

Since life is the fundamental choice of any living entity, which makes all other choices possible, it is its ultimate value. In this context, I present the meaning of ‘ultimate value’: Ultimate value is that which makes all other values possible, and acts as the standard for the organism to choose all other values which are required for its continued preservation. It is irrelevant in this context whether this primary choice of organism is conscious or unconscious. For any living entity, to be a living entity, the value of life is objectively ultimate. Ie., independent of its recognition and preferences.

All its choices:values, that further its life are good for it, and all the values that threaten its life are bad for it. This is the imperative bridge between “what is” and “what ought to be”. The bridge between Metaphysics and Ethics, which most philosophers couldn’t identify, or evade, thus proclaiming that Ethics cannot be defined objectively.

Man being a rational animal, Reason is his primary means of survival: his primary value. Reason is the Man’s faculty that identifies and integrates material provided by his senses, hence his guide to make choices. Man is free to act irrationally: ie., free to make choices that are not consistent with the nature of his existence, but not free to succeed in furthering his life. If such a man survives, it is only in the capacity of a parasite. And only by the grace of other men who choose to be rational: that make his life possible, and only until such men exist.

Man “ought to” place no values inconsistent with his reason, if furthering his life in his full capacity as a Man is his goal. In this context, I give a brief note on the nature emotions. All of Man’s emotions are dependent on his chosen values. His fundamental emotions: Happiness and Sadness are results of his estimates on whether he succeeded or failed in accomplishing his values. Discussing the range of human emotions is outside the scope of this article. What is relevant here is to identify the existence and nature of causal connection between man’s value-accomplishments and his emotions. Observe that emotions are effects, and they are to be treated as such. They are not a guide to his action. Emotions will indicate whether a man succeeded or failed in his endeavours, but it is the province of Man’s reason to identify the endeavours he ought to pursue in the first place. ie., what makes a man happy is not necessarily what is good for him. But if a man pursues rational values consistently, he is bound to experience happiness. Inconsistent emotions experienced by Man are a result of pursuing inconsistent values that compromise his life.

Now, to appreciate the contrast with Objectivist ethics, observe the completely antithetical ethical system devised by Immanuel Kant, who was allegedly projected as a philosopher of reason. Kant’s ethics proclaim “duty” as a value. Observe that Self-sacrifice is the virtue (as Kant will have you practice it) that makes it possible. He held that a thing cannot be of value if you have a personal interest in it: His purpose is to detach value from the one valuing it. The unstated ultimate value that Immanuel Kant conferred upon man here is Death.

To convince a man to pursue irrational values, Kant must invalidate his objectively primary value: Reason. He approached that task, not by outright proclaiming reason as invalid, but by giving sanction to the irrational. He asks you to give benefit of doubt that a thing doesn’t exist, (which includes your own existence) because you perceive it, and because you are “limited” by the nature of your perception. The unstated premise which he wants you to accept, without making it explicit is, “Contradictions can exist because you cannot perceive them.” Its metaphysical meaning is, a thing can be not itself: A can be non A.

To arrive at a contradiction is the indication of an epistemological error. ie., to confess that an A has been falsely identified as a non A. To proclaim, and worse, to accept that A can be non A is as good as invalidating everything you know, which incidentally also includes Kant’s philosophy. It is by far the most evil as evil can go.

To protect yourself from this evil, observe that a thing that cannot be perceived, and which doesn’t bear any relation whatsoever with that which exists and can be perceived: does not, and cannot exist. Do not frustrate yourself by trying to prove the non-existence of non-existence by means of existence. It cannot be done. The meaning of proof is to show that something exists and bears an intelligible relationship with that which exists. The purpose of proof is affirming the existence of that which exists. ie., Existence can only be proved in terms of existence. Because only Existence exists: This is the Axiom of Existence.

– Avinash Kumar

Psychology of a subjectivist

A subjectivist is any man who fails to understand that reality is objective absolute. He doesn’t see that facts are facts: completely independent of his feelings, desires, hopes or fears. He says “What is right for you is not right for me.” Before you conclude that there is nothing wrong with it, I challenge you to think further.

Examine this statement, “What is right for you is not right for me.” You might think that he is talking about a merely personal emotional preferences of colour of a particular pen, or a style of a certain piece of furniture, the reason for such preferences being not yet discovered by science. But he is actually basing his statement on the false premise that “Nothing is knowable.” ie., he is maintaining that there is no way of knowing anything, thereby stunting his own ability to think.

If you wonder what is the harm, observe that no emotion is causeless. (Refer my previous article— “Values, The source of Emotions”) You emotionally respond to any fact of existence only because you value something. No emotional response is independent of some value. So the statement, “What is right for you is not right for me” actually means, “What is a value for you is not a value for me.”

But even choice of values is not subjective. You choose your values to function in this world. In other words, if you choose to live, you can value something only to further your own life, any man’s ultimate value. This choice is not subjective. A man who doesn’t value his life will cease to be a living organism. Reason is the primary value for a man because it is his only way to sustain his own life, and it is only because he values his own life.

Hence, the statement “What is a value for you is not a value for me” actually means, “What is a fact for you is not a fact for me”. Now you can see what is wrong with subjectivism. By accepting the false premise that Reality is subjective, a subjectivist recklessly tries to place himself outside the reality in which he is existing, (which he never can) without bothering to know its nature.

To make the situation more blatant, see what a subjectivist will say, when he completely suspends his reason, a choice he voluntarily made. “A rape is a rape you for, but not for me.” “Wealth is wealth for you, but not for me.” “A murder is a murder for you, but not for me.” And ultimately, “Existence exists for you, but not for me.” Hence, giving himself the permission to commit any action and a subjective justification to escape the responsibility for his actions. But nothing escapes the law of identity.

A rape is a rape, and by saying that it is subjective, you are trying to invalidate the person’s right to act on the judgement of her own mind. Wealth is wealth,  and by saying it is subjective, you are trying to invalidate a man’s right to his own property. A murder is a murder and by saying it is subjective, you are trying to invalidate a man’s right to his own life. Existence exists. By saying that existence is subjective, you are trying to invalidate your own existence.

This is the evil initiated by the self-proclaimed philosophers who based their entire theories on the false premise that Existence is subjective. And the blatant disregard for commitment to Reason you see in the world today is the consequence of that false premise.

Existence is objective reality. A is A. A man who seeks to escape from the law of identity has voluntarily put himself on the path to destruction, which he will achieve, not subjectively, but actually.

Avinash Kumar

 

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.)