Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My pal Friedrich Nietzche

Reluctantly, I come to the conclusion that the exploration of ethics, politicas or philosophy is pointless since we are incapable of free moral acts, are only goaded by what we are taught and are kept in line only by coercion.

The existence of freedom is much exaggerated. From the moment of our conception, our potential to decide and act is severely constrained by inherited biochemical traits.

Once we are born, we enter society in a social and economic context that is entirely not of our own choosing and very rarely changed in any substantive way by a free act, thought or deed. By the time we go to school, the course of our life is not known, but it is more or less set. The arena left to moral choice is absurdly minute, if it is exists at all.

Conscience, in the personal and moral sense understood in Western societies, is little more than a set of biochemical reactions in the brain to the challenges of the interaction of ingrained habit, social custom and individual tendencies. Shame and pride, in normal doses, are socially ingrained. There is nothing magical or "supernatural" about this.

In this context, the only purpose of institutions such as the churches or government) is to attempt to enforce socially mandated behavior; those that have failed to do this have either disappeared (the Shakers) or gone woefully astray (Stalinist Russia).


Nikka Scalper said...

Researchers such as Lev Vygotsky (and his sort of social constructivism, sociocultural learning or socio-historical theory) give some light to the process which leads to the socialization of biological individuals. They have proved -both on a psychological AND biological level- that individuals learn by internalizing the external reality through action.
When you learn and so become the member of a particular society in a particular time, that context gives you shape or informs you... but you also adapt those messages from reality to your own abilities and internal reality. Then you learn more and more, by transforming as well as by adapting.
So, the process is so complex, that we can re name what we used to call freedom: we can then speak about random and limited opportunities (set by the context) and specific elections.
The point is: when talking about moral or ethics we can leave behind the concept of absolute freedom, and try to think more down-to-earth-ly (I know, I've made it up again, right?), by debating about specific elections taken in specific contexts, by specific individuals, with their limitations... and potential.
That reminds me of my limitation to stay awake after 26 hourse of conscious work. :P

Cecilieaux said...

Wow! Very impressive Dr. Scalper.