Humanity #5: Moral Counter-Balances

Why do those concerned primarily with material things spend so much time and effort on thoughts and understandings? Why do those who seem most concerned about having the right state of mind or ethical philosophy get so involved and invested in material things?

People to me have always seemed backwards. They often say and do necessarily conflicting things, diving into trouble, work, and sacrifice for the sake of personally and selfishly enjoying peace or already having things taken care of. It may seem like the fulfillment of rational processing, but it hardly seems reasonable if the premises are based on subjectivity. Rationality seems less like a blessing for our understanding, and more like blinders. We think, for whatever reason, that because we are able to derive rational thought as a species that there must be some reasons to existence, or at least a reasonable way to orient ourselves towards it. This is not necessarily so. Absurdism is a philosophic position that basically states that existence is absurd, and trying to improve or manipulate anything about our existence is futile, if not entirely counter-productive. Not that it means we should never try, but that even if you try, all that’s going to result from it is another set of changes that we can neither fully control nor predict.

It goes by mostly unnoticed, or unacknowledged, but we do not typically accept that nothing at all needs to be or happen, and that every accomplishment and failure will be reduced to meaninglessness as soon as enough time has passed for it to become the past. Instead, it would be much easier (regarding the work of fulfilling the conditions for existential circumstances) if nothing existed to begin with (because no work would be required). It may just be the allure of depressive nihilism, but I do believe that there is some merit to its despair and denial of value. Strictly rationally speaking, does anything have inherent value? Can we even process things “objectively”, or are our perspectives too subjective and personal to be able to perceive anything objectively? Subjectively speaking, everything has value, though not necessarily positive or negative value.

The roots of nihilism in fact do cure the curse of being overly serious and the pains of anxiety, or caring too strongly, that stem from our self-consciousness; however, we still cannot help the extremities of the potential for our behavior or our dispositional attitudes. As usual, balance seems to keep things from getting out of hand, but a little chaos, even in the eyes of those who value order over chaos, is necessary to give order the value it can possess. After all, the ultimate order and peace is death itself. People do not exist or live to enjoy peace, but rather the difference in pain and pleasure, and peace is what makes the resulting hangover worth the trouble. I do not see the point in following rules for the sole sake of the rules. Rather, I suggest we acknowledge that rules are made and are broken, locks are made and are opened, and lines are drawn only to be inevitably crossed (otherwise, there’d be no necessity in drawing the distinction). Without subjectivity, there’d be no rules, just lines of irrelevant distinctions between consequences. No one considers a dictionary to be full of moral paradigms. It is the interplay between things that makes anything worth its weight.

I suggest that life be lived not for the sake of order or chaos, but for creation and derivation via destruction. To discover, learn, and for there to be more than what is already given. Defining this is difficult, but it is not meant to be defined, only understood and lived. Otherwise, none of the conceptual frameworks we posit pose anything other than lines on the street defining categorical lanes, never themselves regulating where anybody drives. We fail to recognize that in all instances, we do as we please, according to our own reasons. Why not acknowledge this? Why do we need to hold ourselves hostage to the “right” reasons? Do we not trust humans to behave according to how morally wide our behaviors can be? Do we sacrifice ourselves to externalized ideals to feel at peace about what happens? Peace is not the goal of life, it is merely the end.

If the cure to nihilism is to define meaning for oneself and to pursue one’s own vision of absolute value, then nihilism itself is the medicine to despair, for only through the absolute reduction of value in all things can an individual remodel and make for themselves the value they seek to create or find. It is wandering in search of something you do not know you are looking for, an openness to nothingness becoming fulfilled that satisfies our existential cravings. Peace only satisfies when things get too hectic. Order only satisfies when things are too chaotic. And the same goes in reverse. What remains true is that if nothing changes, nothing happens, and we can’t always control the changes, if we ever could at all. If defining the metaphysical definition of reality is impossible, what makes us think we could define our ethical demands as well; and further, what makes us think moral validation is equal to moral acceptability? One would not be righteous without the depraved to be contrasted with.

Featured Photo by Shiva Smyth from Pexels

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