Saturday, December 25, 2010

One Step Further: It's Passion Over Reason

So, in the last post I have reached the following conclusions:

· There are other motives for actions than values. Such motives mainly include those natural drives to ensure survival. Mere survival is not good. Therefore, if I understand values as those concepts which makes life good. Survival is essentially not a value.

· However, I find myself so much driven by survival that I can't think of any other choice but to use the instrument of rationality to guide my life in the world I exist in to just continue living.

· The use of rationality to guide my choices so that I would go on living doesn't satisfy the definition of the value of practical reasoning. Having drives such as that of survival doesn't justify me in holding the value of practical reasoning. Again I am left with the fact the values themselves can never be justified.

· On the other hand, the use of the drive of survival as the main motive fro being rational regarding your choices can not be generalized to all humans in all different circumstances. It is just so in my case and I think in the cases of many other human beings. Yet it can't be considered as a universal explanation.

So, up till now, all I can say is that I really want to survive. The world I live in forces to use the best instrument available to me which is rationality to make the right sort of choices regarding my actions to ensure survival. Simply, I have to rationally get a job that will provide me with the chance of having food, shelter, and sex. I will commit to the rules of actions set by the society only to the extent that rationally would allow me the best chances to get those conditions of survival. But is this really what life is all about?

I think not. I still want other things in addition to the mere survival. I want to have a good life. I can't be aware of the possibility of having a good life or a better life than this required only by survival unless I already hold on particular concepts that I think make life good. In other words, I can't claim that there is a possibility of a better life than the one I have just mentioned unless I hold other values. So, what are those values that underlie my preference of having a better life?

I have mentioned before that even though I can never be justified in holding a value, I can be justified in holding beliefs about what values I already hold. Reflection on the history of my actions and reflection on my primary theory of practical reasoning I can be justified in arguing that I hold particular values. I think I am justified in arguing that I hold the values of practical reasoning, understanding, accomplishment, friendship and pleasure.

Now, there is a question which I have to face. If I allowed it that invaluable motives such as those of survival can direct my actions depending on the claim that they are so basic in my nature that I can't choose any other thing but following them, then why can't I allow the same thing for my values. They are so basic in my nature just like those of survival. They might have been caused in me by a much greater amount of social intervention when compared to the natural motives of survival, but why would this make them any less significant than the natural drives of survival? Whether the causal chain involved in forming a human motive is formed only of events of biological evolution or of cultural evolution in addition doesn't make any of those motives more or less justified.

So, justification wise, there is no difference between what I can call the purely natural drives of survival and the more culturally innovated drives of what I hold valuable. However, this is a difference after all. Survival drives are more compelling than those of values. It seems very difficult to me to choose any thing else but survival. However, it seems more possible to choose not to follow the motivation based on my values. I can choose not to have a good life but it is very difficult to choose not to live. But is this true? At least, I have to admit that this claim can't be generalized to all human beings. There are lots of people who upon the loss of what makes life valuable for them choose to put an end to their life. There are others who might sacrifice their own life for the sake of what they value. This fact makes me suspicious even of my claim that I personally would be more determined to survive but less so to seek my values. I think I can't be justified in arguing that survival is more compelling than realizing my own values. I can only be justified in such a claim if I was given the choice between mere survival and value realization and yet I choose mere survival. If I was giving the choice between being transformed into a unicellular bacterium that would survive forever and the life of a philosopher making significant contribution to knowledge but would last only for forty years, I think I would certainly choose the life of a philosopher. I have to admit that values might be just as compelling as survival.

So, I can't think of anyway through which I can distinguish natural drives from values. If I allowed it that I can act directed by natural drives, I have to admit that I can act driven by my values.

Things are just like Hume stated. Reason can't be but the slave of the passions. Reason is useless when it comes to determining your ends. All you have to do is just to stop thinking when it comes to your main motives. You simply have to follow them.

But if I accepted my values just as they are and realized that I have no choice but to follow them, won't this be at least in some situations dangerous? Aren't Nazis and terrorists moved by values and motives? It seems just wrong to accept that they can be allowed to follow such values. There are values I might hold which can affect the lives of others in a negative way. On the other hand, the world I live in might show that I can't realize all of my values and that I have to choose between them, how can I choose between them if I can't reason between them? Furthermore, it seems that the very nature of some of my values might contradict the realization of other values, again how can I choose between them?

The fact that reason is useless when it comes to deciding upon which values I should hold and which I should drop and the fact that I can't do anything about my passions but to follow them might be problematic after all. However, up to this stage I am satisfied with the conclusion that the well to act itself is so strong in me that I can't neglect and that I can't reason with this well, I simply have to follow it. I am also satisfied with the fact that values are just as important as my natural drives. They stand on equal footing. It might be true that natural drives are shaped by nature and that's why they are more shared by almost all human beings, while values are shaped more by cultural evolution and that's why they involve greater amount of contradictions, but both of them are strong in each one of us. How to solve the contradictions between values is a problem that I should figure out. I will try to do this later.

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