"Lying in a featherbed will bring you no fame, nor staying beneath the quilt, and he who uses up his life without achieving fame leaves no more vestige of himself on Earth than smoke in the air or foam upon the water." -Dante Alighieri
A few days ago I was browsing through the HTS articles, my first time on the site for a long time. I'm more an IRC regular, and having given up on the missions I don't have much of a reason to get on the site. In two months I have an exam philosophy, focused on virtue ethics (excuse me if this is not the right term, I'm not native - anyone know what it is?), so I first looked at the Ethics section. I was quite shocked to see how empty it is, and immediately decided to write something. Well, here I am.
I'm not going to explain something about ethics in general (though I'm considering that for another article, as I've been taking philosophy class for 1.5 years now). I will try to explain my view on how ethics work, and on how and why we should not just ignore them.
To begin with: ethics are, in my experience, something completely arbitrary and artificial. This is very much unlike some great philosophers of the past such as Kant (who attempted and sort of succeeded to derive an ethical system by logical means), and Thomas of Aquino, who put something together from Aristotle's theories and the Bible. Even though I have some Christian roots, I cannot believe that there is any perfect, absolute or even definitely good ethical system.
So how do ethics come into existance? Humans have a natural tendency to live in groups. While it's nature's default "mode" to fight and show that you're the best and strongest guy, that's not a good habit when you want to profit from living together. Living together can have great advantages, especially if you're able to communicate at a relatively high level. There's social security (only using this term because I don't have anything better), there's being able to feed your children, with a couple of men on the lookout for potential danger. But there is one drawback: you have to be nice to eachother. The essential building block of a social system is that you're generally nice to others, and that others will be nice to you. Yes, it might benefit you to not be nice, but if a lot of people decide to be a selfish asshole, the system will break down and all advantages are gone. For those who are familiar with the concept, this is basically a generalised Prisoner's Dilemma.
If anything, this is the "absolute" part of ethics. Without social systems there would be no ethics, and without ethics there cannot be a social system. Of course, "being nice", as awkwardly as I phrased it, is a pretty relative concept too.
From here on it's as arbitrary as driving on the right side of the road. The rules have been based on historical accidents, religious ideas and lazy habits or traditions. The fact that the rules are arbitrary doesn't mean that you can ignore them though. Imagine if half of the people in your town started driving on the left side of the road, it'd be chaos. The difference with ethics of course is that this rule has been conciously decided on, while in reality ethical systems are conceived in a process of living.
Now you might think I'm saying that any ethical system is good, and that you shouldn't fight them. If so, you misunderstood me greatly. If you do not agree on something as big as that, you have, in my not so very humble opinion, the moral obligation to fight that system. And yes, you can fight it. It's got to start somewhere, it's got to start sometime.
Remember, as much as most ethical systems are completely arbitrary, this doesn't mean that they're lies. I'm not lying when I say that driving on the left side of the road is bad, it's perfectly true - within my system.
Now for something slightly different: my view on the shit that we call life, love and humanity.
I'm in a pretty fucked up position. I hardly believe in God, I have a hard time believing in an autonomous soul, so I'm kind of forced to stick to the mechanical view of man. This has one very serious consequence: I /have/ to believe in a deterministic reality. I have to believe that everything a human will do in his life can, given enough data and a hugeass supercomputer (we're thinking Deep Thought here), be predicted. Yes, it'll be influenced by the actions of other, but those will be just as deterministic. It's a large dynamic system with craploads of information. From this it follows that my feelings are nothing more than biochemistry. Sucks, doesn't it? I have a lovely girlfriend, but everything I feel for her, everytime we kiss, fuck and dance (which we do a lot - <3 the girl who got me on the dance floor), it's just chemistry.
But I refuse to believe that it is just chemistry. I refuse to believe that my life is as pointless as this suggests. I cannot live like that, but I want to live, it's what I do. Yeah, I'm denying reality, so what? It wouldn't be good for me to accept it, i'd get extremely depressed. I simply cannot accept that life is like this. Fuck you, I'm in love. Within my and your community, it's best to just ignore this "reality", and go on with your life. You're better at understanding and reacting to subjective stimuli anyway. God, the world would suck batshit if everyone realised and acted to how deterministic everything is. Live your life on the run, taking three steps at a time.
Oh, and to conform to the norm, shouts to #dutch :D
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