Objective Morality

Morality is the code of values that a man chooses to practice. I showed in my previous article: The Bridge between Metaphysics and Ethics that morality can be objectively defined. Since the value of life is objectively ultimate, it is only to living entities the concepts good or bad are applicable. It is for Man the choice is open to act against his own good: his own life. Hence it is Man, whose life requires making voluntary choices, that needs the science of Ethics: to choose his moral code for his own good. Remember that a value is never separate from the beneficiary: A value is always a value to someone.

Since men live in varying circumstances, the choices open to them are always in the context of their particular living conditions, that must never be omitted while making value choices.

A choice being objective is not equivalent to the choice being the same for everyone. Studying an introductory course on addition of numbers is an objectively good choice for a student who is a beginner, but not for an advanced mathematician: keeping in view their relative contexts. Observe here that making a choice relative to the context involved doesn’t mean that the choice is subjective.

All the contexts that men exist in, are absolute. A man’s history is not open to change. He cannot be a beginner and a scholar at the same time. He cannot be hungry and be satiated at the same time. He cannot be penniless and be a millionaire at the same time. He cannot both exist and not exist at the same time. Hence, the choices he can make in the face of his context and alternatives are always open to objective evaluation.

Do not turn into a moral dilemma the issue such as: whether you should write your response in black ink or blue, when both are permitted while writing an essay. That is not an issue worth pondering by reviewing the whole context of your life to identify the roles played by those two colours in your cognitive development so far. Most appropriate issue to spend your time on in this context is, to think about the topic of the essay you chose to write on. That is unless if the topic of essay is moral significance of colours.

Observe that the issues you can ponder on, and the choices you can make are limited by the time span of your life. You cannot and you do not need to pursue the truth of everything in existence. Suffice it to know that objective truths can always be established in any context.

I’ll end this article by quoting Ms. Rand: “The pursuit of truth is not important. The pursuit of that truth is important which helps you in reaching your goal that is provided you have one.”

– Avinash Kumar, 27 May 2020.

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

The makeup of an idealist

The choice of communist ideology over capitalist ethics, as the sphere of an individual’s activity diminishes from the world as a whole, to the family as a unit is well established. However it couldn’t suggest with any certainty, the extent of contribution of an individual in the running of the family and the subsequent power dynamic that comes along, governing who calls the decisions in the family. That of course varies with each family, and in a family of idealists, the most ideal one claims the privilege. I present here, a scenario of idealism at its extreme. Antithesis to the buzz of female-hypergamy and male-victimisation where men marry down and later on suffer life-crunching consequences, this is the case of Mary, who married Paul.

For the record, no definitive legal penalty exists against idealism, and the only person who can call the limits and say, ‘enough’ would have to be the providing person in the relation who is rarely seen as the victim.

Mary had always been sympathetic towards the communist cause, especially ever since she first attended the meeting of student-wing of the Labour Party in her university. She was working on her thesis for Masters in Literature. The speaker was Paul, a law graduate, who by that time, appeared and failed for the second time in his final examinations for Masters in Commerce. He elaborated on the ideas of guaranteed work, primary education and food for all sections of the society which appealed to Mary’s guileless persona. She met him a few times after his speeches and they got to know each other.

Paul was a down-to-the-atom level believer in the communist agenda and an active full-time worker in the Labour Party. She saw him as a person who sacrificed his entire career for reforming the society, depending solely on the meagre provisions by the party for his sustenance. She wanted to support that kind of a person, an idealist. And his father was a celebrated martyr in the communist movement.

She was surprised that her decision surprised even the agenda makers of the party, some thinking openly that her alliance with Paul was bound to fail within a year or so. But when his extended family became a constant appearance in her home, reality slowly sank into her. They were neither communist nor non-communist. That is to say, they neither believed that sharing chores is important nor that earning their own cake is important. They had nothing to do with believing in anything. They just wanted a piece of cake which they normally wouldn’t dream to get otherwise in the real world. What truly perplexed Mary was, Paul genuinely believed that it was their right to think and act so. Was this the nature of communism she married into?

It was about the time she was struggling to understand the seemingly impossible idealism of her husband when her foetus was aborted in the third month of her pregnancy. Her doctor chastised her for refusing to stay restful and for singlehandedly cooking and cleaning up for the packs of distant relatives who visited them to congratulate her for pregnancy, and stayed with them on and off  as privileged guests for three straight months and then abruptly left one day, after she returned home from the hospital and started crying. “You’ve got to make many sacrifices like this to keep up our ideals” Paul said, and shared with her, his mother’s idea about them adopting his sister’s youngest autist kid, since her family was not earning as much as Mary, and it’d only be truly communist of her to help them out in this matter, instead of trying to have and raise her own kids. That was the first time she shouted at him, “That’s not the communism I signed up for!”

Years passed and Paul’s family returned with their financial ‘needs’ aka ‘rights’, after Mary cracked the job interview at the oldest college in the region and secured a permanent and high paying job. She also completed her Phd and had two kids, a boy and a girl, who looked too healthy to uphold communist ideals, later in their lives. That upset the family. But Mary was upset that after ten years at her job, the only piece of property she had on her name that can be guaranteed to her kids was the house they were living in, and only because the bank manager convinced Paul that the person who owned the house would be the one obliged to pay back the mortgage amount, so the house can’t be registered to the list of needy relatives that Paul suggested.

This however, upset Paul. The entire system was purposefully built against his idealism. He had to think harder for a greater reform. He had to think beyond the Labour Party. It was then that Paul suddenly realised that the leaders of Labour Party can never be as idealistic as he was, and he immediately removed himself from the party.

Idealist

Things turned uglier after a short newspaper column printed of Mary’s professional achievements in the local newspaper and she failed to mention in the interview that she ‘shared’ the credit with her idealist husband and family. It was about the same time that Paul introduced his ideal method of sharing assets amongst the family according to the principle of greatest need, and started using Mary’s income for the trial run of his experiment, that he withdrew from their joint bank account, in which Mary was the sole depositor.

Mary was thoroughly convinced that she needed no more idealism in her life and closed the existing joint account and diverted her salary to a separate account that she managed. And all hell broke loose. It started with physical assaults, in his hope that her ‘corrupted mind’ would be set right, and ended when he started pressurising her to sign the papers for a hefty sum of life-insurance on her name with Paul as the primary nominee. Paul genuinely believed that she was corrupted beyond repair, and her life was of no more value to the ideal society he envisioned, anymore.

Mary left her home along with the kids that next morning and rented an old apartment. She filed for divorce and was granted one without a financial settlement after four years of legal battle, along with the custodian rights over her kids. Paul cursed the injustice, and his words only met with deaf ears. But he refused to vacate Mary’s home, in which he lived with his newly wed wife Elizabeth, a nurse who was divorced from her former husband because she was confirmed barren. She allegedly failed in an attempted suicide in the first month of her newest marriage, unable to handle Paul’s idealism.

Paul however vacated the house and handed over the keys to his daughter at the church, in under a year, before the court directed the police to see so. For one, he wanted to avoid legal penalty, in which Mary had no real interest, and also because he feared for his life. Newspapers said that he opened an institute in the name of Elizabeth and collected donations from the rural youths with the promise of ideal jobs, but defaulted and fled the town soon after. It was stated, the police caught him and he was facing criminal charges now. Paul never quite understood where his idealism went wrong. But he never questioned the foundations of his ethics.

Mary learnt her lessons the hard way, and finally decided to live peacefully now, absent any idealism that she couldn’t handle. She never cheated anyone in her life, and never expected nor accepted anything that she didn’t earn. That was enough idealism for her. But she never learnt that it was in essence, Capitalism.

– Avinash Kumar