What is intended by the title : "Radical Self-responsibility as an existential ethical-end "
1/ "Radical " both as differing extremely from conventional ethical ends and conventional notions of both self and responsibility.
2/"Self-Responsibility" as the responsibility of the social-self to the social-self . Social-self as distinct from the 'intentional-self', phenomenological self, personality, conditioned -self; so 'this body' as opposed to any other body,
3/ "Responsibility not just in the sense of causal blame ; (who is to blame ?, who caused this? eg Sartre
-an causal blame (bad-faith); and ethical blame whether as:
-Hindu ethical-responsibility (karmic consequence in other lives etc.; or
-The ancient Egyptian concept of 'mat' ethical consequence in this one;
but in an underlying sense of essential unique situational problem; ie regardless of causation the consequence still is still mine !
4/ 'existential' as absolute aka non-contingent choice; that is a choice which can have no further justification.
That is the answer to 'why have I made this choice ?' ,'what has caused me to make this choice ?' etc;
must be because that is what I chose !.
5/ "ethical-end" the final justification for one or more social or intrinsic ethical prescriptions; which we have chosen or to which we find ourselves committed.
6/ Finally that, that unique and essential life situational problem of the social-self is : "an intentional-self (ie a conditioned self) , cast into and briefly adrift in a social and material universe, simultaneously unpredictable, dangerous, transient, purposeless and unutterably indifferent."
-If one is an incurable optimist and/or romantic and regards this view of the human condition as too dire, bleak and hopeless; perhaps the whole question can be treated as a hypothetical; reciprocally if one is an incurable pessimist and determinist convinced this really is the situation; it needs be emphasised that seeing responsibilty by the social-self to the social-self; really is just one alturnative. Responsibility to the group of other social-selves, which is one's society.; being one other !
- Nether is it intended that great time and debate be spent on whether this really is the situation.! Nor intend to spend time with 'councils of despair' and recommendations of suicide, let us assume existence of many stories of what happens prior to birth and after death; but none falsifiable. So suicide just an end to possibility and fatalism just a reluctance to act.
-Finally the approach to the question of free-will vs determinism adopted; will be entirely phenomenological.
That is if choice 'seems' to exist then it does; even if one's actions are quite predictable. So the whole question will resolve to 'shades of grey'; some choices being extremely difficult and some trivially easy . So let us leave this idea to process in the subconscious mind, whilst contextualising the problem within the speaker's somewhat perculiar view of philosophy generally; before returning to some odd prescriptions seemingly consistent with this ethical-end .
A Linguistic Approach to Philosophy
I would contend " progress with the problem of language is not just a subject of philosophy, but a precursor to philosophy" That 'problem of language ' is the everyday fact, that our words fail to communicate our intended meaning, ether by:
1/ ambiguity....communicating many meanings
2/ misleading....communicating one meaning, but not the intended
3/ obscurity.... conveying no meaning
A further contention is that this is relevant to philosophy, because the problem is least with simple concrete, objective subject matter; becoming more severe as the subject matter becomes complex, abstract and or subjective. Again an every day observation. So in mysticism (for example) where the subject matter is simultaneously complex, abstract and subjective we might expect the problem to be most extreme. In fact mystics claim the existence of ineffable experience, in the sense of experience not describable in words.That is the occurrence of experience only communicable in metaphor and/ or evocation.
........Whatever, I am agnostic on this point.
Digressing slightly; the contention would be that recognition of the existence of this problem, however dimly; lies at the heart of the split between Anglo-Saxon philosophy and Continental Philosophy. That is; the arid and austere universe of discourse of Positivism and finally Analytical Philosophy has it's roots in the recommendations of Hume :
" If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion. "
- An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
But this is not to recommend Continental Philosophy , traditional theology and metaphysics. The contention here is that the clarity of scientific discourse, in the area of objectively falsifiable material phenomena; is achievable in a much wider universe of discourse. But this clarity in a much wider universe of discourse, consists in an enhanced linguistic sophistication; rather than objective scientific 'truth'. The
linguistic clarity of the latter having it's roots in the linguistic constraints of 'objective falsifiability'. In general the contention here would be that, that 'enhanced linguistic sophistication'; lies in the recognition, that a word's ability to convey meaning in 'extreme circumstance'; is contingent on a series of increasingly constraining mutual agreements (protocol's ?); between speaker and listener; writer and reader.This is no magic 'bullet'; usually when no such agreement can be reached, it will just indicate that communication on that subject with that person; will be difficult or impossible. Eg The speaker suspects great difficulty in his reading say Hegel or Derrida; because of apparent differing notions of to what extent the writer is responsible, for making clear his words. If one wanted a word for this linguistc standpoint / area of knowledge the speaker had coined the word 'ontolexics' from the Greek "essence of the words of the language."
Just to reitereate these "increasingly constraining.mutual agreements", are no more questions of fact than whether to speak in French or English; they just represent recognition of linguistically incompatible points of view and approach. A probably incomplete listing and ordering of such can be found at Philosophy _and Language.pdf at https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0aOfcVEMVoKNUFjNkx4eHZQRWs/edit?usp=sh...
What do we intend by the word 'philosophy' ? Surely one of the first questions in philosophy and philosophical discourse must be ;
what do we intend by the word 'philosophy' ? What is intended here, by the word philosophy is:. philosophy:[tentative]'
(a) a synonym for fatalism: the acceptance of what occurs, without avoidance or pursuit
eg. he was 'philosophical' about love; meaning he neither avoided or pursued love.
- fatalism is a particular standpoint and set of values; with standpoint [tentative] 'a situation in which two or more points of view or approaches are possible, but only one is chosen.' so distinct from a theory which may be false, but it may still be untenable.!
(b) any standpoint and / or set of values, be they spiritual, religious, psychological or political; so all matters involving values: eg aesthetcs,ethics/moralities, and ideologies. eg.. the philosophy of a political movement, the philosophy of a design; thence ;
(c) a synonym for epistemology: study of the possibility and kind of, knowledge we can have about phenomena.
eg. Can we know if:.reality exists? life is but a dream ?... consciousness exists in brains other than our own?;
philosophy of physics.
(d) a synonym for ontology: study of the nature and order of reality of phenomena and experience. eg Is the subject merely a linguistic artifact ? If not; is it subjective , objective or metaphysical (as a correlation of the former and latter)? Is it an an experience or an objective phenomena? Is it a quality, structure, process of ether ? eg What kind of thing is science?, reality ?, consciousness ?, language ..etc ?
-closely related to the linguistic questions of: How should we define the word science?, reality?, consciousness?, language etc.?
-perhaps a particular sense of the word 'understanding
A way of categorising philosophical problems consistent with the above definitions of 'philosophy' Philosophy as Fatalism (a)is really just a member of the category (b) which is philosophy as standpoints and values.) and Philosophy as epistemology (c)and philosophy as ontology (d) are not entirely independent catagories: there are problems of:
1/ the kind of knowledge which is ontology and
2/ the ontological nature of knowledge ; where they overlap.
Philosophy (b) as standpoints and values. would seem to be orthogonal to both (c) and (d) ie. cutting across both ontology and epistemology There being ontological and epistemological values and ideologies and ontological and epistemological questions regarding values. The place of ethics within this categorisation of philosophy. So ethical questions would seem to be just a small part of the philosophical category (b), standpoints and values The particular problems of discussing good and evil and ethics generally It seems to me we need to proceed very tentatively; without expectation of reconciling the diverse world-views, standpoints, ethical ends and ethical prescriptions, which will become apparent. It may be we will only discover just how different we are; one from another. Extremely passionate but unproductive debate is possible in this area. If we can take from such a debate, some understanding why it is so passionate and why the beliefs are so irreconcilable; it seems to me the debate can serve a productive purpose. To speak in 'terms of good and evil ' is a very easy and natural human ability; to speak 'about good and evil' [ontologically] seems to be extraordinarily difficult. eg.I find myself proselytising despite my firm intentions!
1/ I am not discriminating between 'ethical and 'moral'.
2/ By an 'ethical prescription' I am intending:
- a statement prescribing(pro or con) some action (intended or unintended)
3/ By a social ethic I am intending an ethical prescription for actions which may have some social consequence eg. 'Do not steal', Do not kill",...
4/ By an 'intrinsic ethic' I am intending an ethical prescription for actions, which don't necessarily have a social consequence;
(obviously they become social ethics, when they do) eg ' Be mindful', 'Never give-up', 'Be brave', 'avoid gluttony, lust,..(seven sins)
5/ I think the notion of an 'ethical end' is useful, because we can then distinguish, between a 'stochastic' (aka random) collection of ethical beliefs, often inconsistent; with a collection, which by good luck or good management is directed to a common 'ethical end'.
Perhaps the following could be regarded as 'ethical ends (A probably already contentious suggestion). ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Mark 12:31 New International Version (NIV) 'Do to others as you would have them do to you. *...'* Luke 6:31. New International Version (NIV) ' “The greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation. ” [Jeremy Bentham, The Commonplace Book] 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his need' [Karl Marx in his 1875 Critique of the Gotha Program.]
'Therefore, every rational being must so act as if he were through his maxim always a legislating member in the universal kingdom of ends"
[Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals] ' Do not act in bad faith' [ Sartre implied ] 'The Four Noble Truths are but skilful means" [The raft and the river; Buddhist Satra ]
A contentious question: Is a particular ethical prescription or ethical end; to be regarded as a truth of existence; or a choice of existence ?
From the point of view of the former, adherents of the latter are willfully ignoring a reality life; from the point of view of the latter the former are willfully refusing to accept responsibility for their choices I will describe the former view as 'ethical realist' and the latter as 'ethical relativist' Some problems for simple Golden Rule 'ethical realists' Monday morning; a gentleman in a suit; with briefcase has knocked at the front door. " Good morning I'm from the Australia Tax Office (or Centre-Link for the less affluent ) and I'm here to help you !"
so help is not always appreciated -cruelty ( the prescription of which a seems candidate for ethical realism) is not as clear, as we might hope.
[definition]:intentional action causing physical or psychological pain. ! (problem) a doctor or therapist causing pain with the hope of alleviating problem ? [definition]:intentional action whose sole motivation is causing physical or psychological pain. !
(problem) Spanish Inquisition tortured and burned the body to save the immortal soul, not cruel ?
[definition]:intentional action with intended or unintended consequence of causing physical or psychological
pain. ! (problem) To inform a person that a deeply precious theory is false; is cruel ? And so on
Finally to the problem of what ethical prescriptions if any seem consistent with Radical Self- responsibility as described. Rather surprisingly there do seem to be both intrinsic and social ethical prescriptions; absolutely consistent with Radical Self-Responsibility as described; some quite perculiar. Some intrinsic ethical prescriptions
-need for sanity ie the ability to see the material world , other people and one self as they are.
There seems to be no natural limits to sanity in this sense ; as distinct from normality say which is merely the short journey from an eccentric outlyer behavior to the centre or average of a group of behaviors. That is the need for close attention to a material and social situation which is dangerous, changing and difficult to predict .
-Consequently with a further need for close attention to any tendency to the blinkered and hobbled action of instinctive and habitual responses; so to the inherent danger of the intentional-self.
-Further implications for need for self-honesty and minimising self-conflict
-need to avoid unnecessary attachments material and beliefs; problems with intentional self
-but need to avoid risking loosing the unbearably precious; intrinsic problems of a romantic standpoint ?
Some social ethical-prescriptions
-need to preserve and increase credibility (implications for truth telling, honest dealing); but whilst preserving credibility and trust ; no further necessity to achieve the high regard of society.
-problems of time and energy investment required for duplicity;
eg "What a tangled web we weave , when first we practise to disceive "
-in a society with established laws and a legal system to enforce them; there will be some laws with which one agrees and some which one doesn't; "don't do the crime; if you can't do the time" and more generally "don't risk that which ; which can't be lived without" ....health, sanity, the particular attachmnents of the moment.
-but absence of self-sacrafice, helping others optional and done in fear and trembling
-acknowledgement of the intense attachment which is human love both the emotional and physical attachment of adults and the necessary emotional attachment of parent and child and the dangers therein.
-for human adults, to recognise the catastrophe which is the unrecprocated attachment of 'unrequited love'.
Seemingly recognised humorously in romantic comedies if not acknowledged as such ! The damage to friendships and possible relationships of the power imbalance of unrequited love; the desirability of commitments in marriage; which involve the consequence of a trying to maintain such relationship by commitment; after the attachment of one or both parties has gone ? Would a peaceful society of individuals who subscribe to "Radical Self-Responsibility " be possible ?
As a relativist, or existential choice this ethical-end would seem more likely to encourage a peaceful agreement to disagree; than as an ethical-realist conclusion.
Likely appeal to Narcistisistic, Sociopathic and high functioning Asperger personalities Whilst for many of us this whole 'ethical-end' and it's attendent world view; will be just a hypothetical. The speaker would speculate that for egoist personalities like narcissists, benign sociopaths and 'ultra-independent' high functioning Asperger personalities;( a group which arguably includes most of the significant original contributors to sprituality, philosophy, art , music, mathematics,science,and technology ) this may well offer the only kind of ethical-end with which they might have much sympathy.
Perhaps some similarities to Max Stirner's "Egoism" might be noticed ; but as a Continental Philosophy the usual profound linguistic problems with obscurity and ambiguity seem to arise for this speaker eg. "owness'