The ONLY Working Society

Self-government is a foundational idea to many republican and democratic forms of political philosophy, but the reason that there are so many conflicts between people who ascribe to different ideologies in regards to self-government stems from our approaches to this foundational idea. How freely, meaning uninhibited by interference from a central political power, should people be allowed to act? How much power can a central government hold without holding the majority of political power and societal influence? And what should be the role of the individual as both a living, spiritual thing and as a citizen of a global, economic society?

The Hobbesian perspective of the human state of nature, which is to say our innate state characterized by the lack of interference or regulation from civilization, is one of inherent and constant danger of war. It describes the human person as something so inherently immoral and dangerous that without the strong arm of the law to hold us all in check, we would almost all commit unspeakable horrors in the name of individual freedom. This, in my opinion, has been one of, if not itself, the most damaging ideas to affect Western society in its entire history of philosophy, and it’s all based on a single misconception, that a government and civilization run by out-of-control individuals can itself actually control everyone.

The philosophic idea of the State of Nature of humans is a term often used to describe the moral conditions of humanity unregulated by civilization. It refers to the state of spiritual relationships between humans who interact and exchange with one another without being obligated to do so or regulated by a governing authority. According to Hobbes, it is constant war. According to moral romantics, it is unadulterated freedom and peace. In my opinion, it’s what we’ve already got. There is no action taken by the government or society’s social structures that is not also taken by an individual, or a group of individuals. Therefore, everything within and outside of society’s conventional boundaries are aspects of the spiritually social domain of human interaction. That being said, whatever morality we hold individuals accountable to we must also hold all social institutions and social structures accountable to as well, unless circumstances complicate the moral parameters.

Morality and our social obligations are some of the hardest aspects of social reality to discuss (for a good reason I might add), and they are therefore some of the hardest to learn about as well. With different institutions within the constructed society, from families to schools to public offices, all socializing people according to their own ethical values, having some sort of solidly stable sense of right and wrong throughout society can be tricky to balance, especially as differences in values between individuals increase. How then do so many of us end up learning reliably respectable and respectful personal ethical codes while others seem so wrong that they may be getting away with ignoring “common” morality?

For clarification regarding these upcoming paragraphs, I use the term morality to refer to a standardized ethical code of conduct that obligates those to whom it is applied to promote the good over the bad, and for their behaviors to reflect the same values, prioritizing actions in alignment with the highest good over actions in alignment with anything less. Of course morality is valuable, not just for maintaining social order, but for understanding the possibilities that are only available to us when we collectively follow our “morality” effectively. But there’s still one problem. Is it even possible to find or make a standardized ethical code that could be applied to everyone within a single society?

Moral codes are usually outlined with the intention of structuring social interactions towards certain values, but many people argue that any ethical code that is not supported by some objective rationale or a priori basis is illegitimate as far as supporting “the good” is concerned because the highest good is objectively the optimal aim for any ethical behavior. This is necessarily problematic though, because our experience is essentially subjective. Not essentially as in the flippant use of a word like “basically”, but essentially as meaning fundamentally. Our understanding of morality is complicated by the fact that we do not have an immediately evident and sufficient explanation of the effectiveness, or even objective presence, of a moral system. Also, would an objective, and thus innate-to-existence moral system result in naturally produced phenomena of moral punishment and reward as time elapses within the system?

Considering these questions, we have two potential views of reality in existence as time elapses:

  • Reality in which existence as a system operates by objective measures of balancing polarities insofar as it is possible for each dual-polarity to be balanced to a state of equilibrium. (Reality runs until it comes to a rest and “dies”)
  • Reality in which existence as a system operates not seeking a specific outcome, but seeking a constant state of change, and the phenomenological events and interactions within the system are flowing shifts in balance between polarities that averagely balance the polarities themselves, rather than each polarity balancing itself and to become static. (Reality perpetually changes with no standard other than change itself)

In this first view of existence as a system that is seeking to come to rest, we could describe objective morality as the system or code of ethical behavior that is optimally suited for sustaining moral balance throughout the system of reality, as it is something which objectively determines moral values for the actions of “morally free” creatures like ourselves (some animals seem to have systems of social behavior, but it is unclear whether they are motivated ethically, and we have not observed the capacity for selfish malevolence in animals to any certainty). However, this assumes that the consequence of the system’s activity over time is consciously sought after or chosen, rather than occurring by chance. And an objective system of existence that is conscious seems counter-intuitive or even contrary to our typical view of reality in existence as something that progressively reacts through time in the manner of cause and effect, but it could also be seen (though not without criticism) that reality itself is at least conscious.

The second view does not seem to be of a uni-dimensionally oriented system affecting processes or phenomena that happen within its scope towards a single end of equilibrium, but rather of a system for which its function reflects the functions of the phenomena within it, essentially making the system itself a phenomenon of phenomena. In this way, the system can be interpreted as something more than an incredibly complex Rube Goldberg machine aimed at accomplishing the task of ending. Instead, we can view reality as a system of occurrence, in which various phenomena reflect the myriad possibilities of phenomena possible to manifest within the system. Instead, reality is less like a noun and more like a vowel as the various physical forms and objects we find become themselves, rather than being brought forth by some technology or manipulation. And as the phenomenological system is reflected by the phenomena within it, any objective, manifested system within it should also be thought of as a happening rather than a thing which exists. Moral systems are not applied to behaviors like stickers or magnets, they are demonstrated and experienced through the behaviors and their consequences. In this way, any action can be viewed from multiple perspectives within the system, with multiple possible perceptions of the moral balance of that phenomenon as an instance of phenomenal change in a continuously shifting system of balance, but this cannot change the fact of what became real, rather than remaining just a possibility. Because reality can be seen as a happening rather than a thing, necessarily anything within it, also being a happening of its own existence, can be seen as emblematic of the potential of existence modified by the unraveling of circumstances, conditions, and consequences. With this understanding, you may not be able to perfectly define it, but you could describe how reality might have, by nature of our own ability to make morally evaluations and our moral judgments being inherent to our subjective reality as a system, its own moral limits and definitions.

Because of this, the idea of there being objective moral laws deeming punishment or reward for certain categorical behaviors is uncertain, but not impossible. Moral culpability is always questionable, and the notion of responsibility does not escape cynical doubts. But regardless of the apparent ambiguity of objective morality and the highest good, we have made its adherence one of our highest ideals, and so manufactured systems to follow that demand we ascribe to and believe in a socially accepted ethical codes which ought never be broken, and under which are crimes rarely forgiven in cases where there is not a counter-balancing law to forgive certain actions under certain conditions. In order to socially codify morality, we have attempted to mirror our understandings of the relation between good/evil and responsibility in our laws. In an occasionally counter-productive manner, we have used the notion of governing with the intent of securing freedom to place increasing restrictions on behavior, where most of the things that are allowed are only allowed conditionally. This is not done without any good reasoning, but we also have seen many examples of seemingly immoral law enforcement, and blatantly immoral manipulation of loopholes in legality.

Under the first view of reality mentioned above, whatever results from our actions must be the moral balancing that occurs to inevitably reach objective moral good or balance, seeing as though if the system necessarily ends in morally balanced, there will be no more good or evil than is necessary, including the rewards and punishments given in consequence. Under the second view of reality as a happening which perpetually fluxes somewhere between both extremes of value spectrums, we must accept that the arbitrary ethical codes we design for our societies will not bend reality to our preferred moral perspective, and people will necessarily fall short of moral expectations and push back against the tyrannical tendencies of law and established order. And those social structures with particularly restrictive moral systems ought to acknowledge that arbitrary laws do not carry the weight of metaphysically chaotic systems of potential consequences, assuming there are such things. I doubt it will ever be the case that a person oppressed and forced to submit beyond their will will not fight back, either for justice (whatever that may be) or revenge. It is thusly imperative that we manufacture our laws with an accurate understanding of the occasionally ambiguous moral implications of human nature, in its best and worst expressions.

In reality, things happen and our conceptions of what can and will happen in the future are not perfectly accurate, but there is a general kind of happening to follow. All things within the system of reality are performing one function together. They are existing. Whatever it is, it exists because of its own possible existence, and our subjective frameworks of evaluation based on cause and effect, though stemming from rational observations, are not objectively true. It is not necessarily wrong for evil to exist, though it seems obviously wrong to commit evil deeds.

Codes and laws are systems of understanding phenomena, but when viewed as objectified things they seem to restrict existence and suggest that certain things that do exist ought not to. However, this assumes that the larger system of existence has an aim or end, which is not necessarily true since we have not observed necessity unrelated to causation, and even our understanding of causation, as Hume explains, is purely conceptual as we have never observed causation as an objective phenomenon itself. I’m not suggesting we should consider causation unrealistic, but just remember that it, like morality, is a way of perceiving and describing the phenomena of existence.

Speaking strictly literal, whatever happens is what happens, but this is not of much use to us beyond coming to terms with our “fate”. If there is some advice I can give so that others may better understand what it means to live ethically well, it is this: Aim for the highest good you can imagine, be it a singular principle and/or the collection of secondary goods, because that is by definition the best thing to aim for. Live honestly and act sincerely, and with a little luck, you could potentially realize this highest good, or assist in its ultimate realization. For ideas as to how we might organize an ethical society, I suggest we consider that the only society worth having is one worth believing in, that does not inhibit or bar our individual attempts at living meaningful lives because of ideological moralizing in the guise of concern for objective well-being. A governmental system continually producing socially regulatory legislation on the basis of “freedom for all” is a deeply confused thing. We cannot sacrifice the individual to society. Order itself is not the highest good, but merely a means to achieving it.

Featured Photo by Mike Chai from Pexels

One thought on “The ONLY Working Society

  1. Wow! This is some awesome stuff! You sound just like I sounded when I started My first blog! Lucky me, a Hacker got into my bios and I had to rebuild my computer all over again. The result was weeks of work that gave me time to start over with my project. I have notebooks of a solution to a problem I had to re-read because I had lost all of my identity. It was Grand Theft Social Identity! If you can find the time I would be ever so grateful to get your feedback oh how I’m doing. I only have 5 posts published.
    I was right though, you have a bright future if you stay on the path you are on now. I will be following because so much of it gives me a wonderful sense of Deja-Vu. Keep at it! I go to read your other posts now so have a Great Day!

    Like

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