Rand's Morality of Life

Recommended Posts

From my drydock, without the final editing touches and axes. I publish it so that I can link to it from the Newberry Gone Fishing thread (Kahmi, cons, flouncers, failures, criminals).


I am very positively and sincerely impressed by the rich content of your reply to Brant, above. Forgive me for highlighting a single question. You'd be an excellent professor of ethics if you cared to teach the subject. The world needs it.

what are the circumstances that give rise to the concept of the morally right and wrong?

I accept Rand's definition of value, something one wishes to gain or keep. The moral enterprise is to grow ourselves from infancy, through childhood and adolescence, to independence as an adult and seasoned maturity later in life. A baby wants to survive. Adolescents want to blow up the garage. Young adults want to form new social webs of their own choosing, in pursuit of career interests, sexual proclivities, and the thrill of adventure.

Moral understanding is derived from making mistakes and paying the price of heartache, embarrassment and financial loss. If I understand correctly who Immanuel Kant was, the sort of sheltered monastic life he lived, it might be fair to say that Kant never became an adult, which explains his sterile affirmation of duty to others.

If Kant never became an adult, he was an unusual adolescent. He may have wanted to blow up the garage, but instead devoted himself to the life of the mind. A sheltered life he may have led -- living and dying in close quarters -- and a monastic life he may have led -- if one considers the rare monk genius whose output comprises shelf-feet of material. Does that make him a stalled human?

By moral understanding I think you mean a latter-taken sum, a derivation from history, experience, reason, emotion, an integration. I am with you on that. You mean a ripe, individual personal moral understanding.

My knowledge of Kant is nearly nil compared to scholars resident. I haven't read anything but excerpts in half-mad arguments about Kantian evul in art squabble threads, and some other sketchy sources. Here and there I have cracked a long encyclopedic article that explains this or that controversy. So, I have ventured opinions on Kant only where there are very narrow grounds at issue. I couldn't make any sweeping assertions simply because I am ignorant.

I am going to take advantage of the shelf-feet of modern-language Kant available in free texts. Here's what you can get from his corpus at a nice Oxford college site. I am going to read my first Kant book through, much as I did a certain constitution, starting with the apparently brief and lively polemic Prolegomena [= Preliminaries] to any Future Metaphysic that can Present itself as a Science. (I am going to compare it for language and difficulty to the original via the Liberty Fund.)

To the question -- "what are the circumstances that give rise to the concept of the morally right and wrong?" -- I can only answer as a relative naif. I would answer that the concept arose out of our primate heritage and the two poles of emotional life, positive and negative, and the ability of proto-humans to conceive of more elementary things like fairness and justice appreciable as symbolic, able to be discussed, calculated, judged. A proto-human empathy and rational weighting of harming and enabling, fair and unfair, due or undue ... somewhere in our line personal arbitration and reprisal was at least partially replaced by weighty inquiry and measured punishment.

The concept arose in the time of great cognitive evolution, when human reason invented and crafted mental tools. The concept enabled analytic operations upon behaviour. It enabled prototypes of dispute resolution. What was merely good or bad extended and ramified in human minds, Right and Wrong enabled an arbiter in each human.

Edited by william.scherk

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Rand’s Concept of Biology – 1 & 2

Vegetative Robots and Value

Rand and the Greeks

Kant's Wrestle with Happiness and Life
Part 1 – to 1781
Part 2 – towards 1785
Part 3 – into 1785
Part 4 – Moral Worth, Necessary and Free – A, B

A Rejection of Egoism

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.