Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How to Approach Ones Conscience

What is the conscience? It is a moral feeling - a moral voice - it is moral inclination from within. It is a kind of guidance. But what is the nature of its guidance?

Does the conscience proceed from the will? Then the conscience simply beckons you to keep being yourself. To be more like yourself. To keep you to the path that you have chosen.

Does the conscience proceed from instinct? Then the conscience beckons you to live according to your nature. Your biological nature, anyway. It beckons you to be human. To live in a way determined by your genes.

Does the conscience proceed from upbringing? Then the conscience beckons you to live according to society. It tells you to be more like those around you. It tells you to shape yourself according to the lessons you have been taught.

For that matter: is the conscience constant or is it dynamic? If it is constant, then we have found something seemingly mystical, because what else about a human being's feelings and thoughts is so constant? If it is dynamic, then what kind of guide is that who tells you to do one thing and then another?

There are hypothetical ethical imperatives that can be cast as a science. There are moral intuitions and inclinations that make up our conscience. The former lend themselves well to a nihilistic view of values in the world, as well as a utilitarian approach to created value, or an approach that aims to be a certain kind of person, or an approach that aims to value and will in a certain kind of way. The latter lend themselves to what?

I want to say that we should disregard the conscience as anything but a helpful feature that does... something, but does not offer genuine guidance. But it intrigues me. The possibility that it is something deeper than my current understanding of ethics allows makes me want to look a little further. Is it possible that it offers a kind of real, individual guidance in the world? If so, we can approach ethics without bogging down the individual in universal "moral facts" that make it impossible for a man to be himself and instead tells him to be everyone, but also without doing away with imperatives apart from the hypothetical imperatives that exist only after someone has already chosen a goal or thrown his will behind a value.

For the moment, though, I have to call it intriguing, not desirable.

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