I was visited in my Destre’s study by Master Sinistre; we embarked upon a conversation, or rather, a quandry, in Kantian exegesis. A certain moral was learned from what followed; that philosophy should always apply to our conduct, and it very often does. Lady Antisophie came into Destre’s office and called of our attention.
[A] Greetings Librarian; Sinistre. I seek our Destre’s counsel in a real life matter
[M] Greetings Lady Antisophie; I would prefer if you referred to me by my name, sometime! Master Destre is indefinately away; he has been quite ill this week.
[A] That is most unfortunate; I desperately need his help.
[S] We are more than happy to be of service, Antisophie; please, talk to us. We are almost as wise as Destre.
[A] I do not question your skill, but I question your occupation at present; do you have the time for me?
[S] They taught us in the seminary that while we are always busy, we must not look busy. I am always here for you, Antisophie.
[A] I am feeling a great sense of anger at someone who wronged me. I feel the strong urge for action; namely, violence against them.
[S] Is this within a political context, Sophie?
[A] Everything in this social reality is in some way political, even things as individual and personal as sexuality and disability have now becomes weapons in the political game. This is indeed political, iff we are to accept my former claim of the plasticity of the term.
[M] What kind of violence do you wish upon them? A violence of words? Of murder? state legitimated action?
[A] I seek not the actions of the state to protect me; for it was the state that harmed me. The state in the Athenian system was fragmented into parts three; but I cannot trust the word of the self-defined law. I speak from the lawbooks written universally, the lawbooks of our intuitions, and our rational contemplation. My sense of wrong from their violation is absolutely certain; there is no issue of doubt in my conviction of their wrongness. What I seek is that my oppressors are punished!
[S] Punishment is a very generic term, we can punish through encouragement, such as the carrot, and through deprivement, such as the stick. Punishment can come of many forms; there are many intentions behind reprimand; in our society, we reprimand those in the hope that they may be rehabilitated and forgiven for their actions. If we are to do permanent damage to their mortality, we give them no chance for them to change, and learn as moral beings.
[M] Murder to our enemies seems only justified if they offend persistently, it seems. Sometimes a threat can be so persistent that we must incapacitate them so they are not capable of offending again; this does not have to involve the killing of others, but in some cases, it is necessary. Do you seek murder, Antisophie?
[A] My anger drives me to the conclusion that I must rid them of life; I must eliminate them and those thy hold dearest, my most obvious and most accessible feeling right now is to commit unforgettable harm upon them, for the state cannot reprimand itself with charity and sympathy.
[S] I will not tell you what to do; but I want you to clarify your process of thought. I want you to consider 3 things; consider the first: are you driven by your immediate feelings on the matter? Do remember that our feelings change, and the basis of feeling is as transient as the firm foundation of a house on the edge of a cliff. There is a contingent fact of the matter and things are always subject to change. Emotions are in constant flux; to be driven by emotion is to be flown about by the winds of nature in our action; we should choose a direction to move in, in virtue of our will, not our inclination.
Consider the second; are these beings autonomous, are you autonomous? When we are driven by our emotions, we are not driven by a sense of direction in virtue of rules or our own volition, but we are driven by prejudice and that which has no moral relevance; the fact of our nature, or the fact of our emotional disposition. A fact cannot lead to a norm. Because you are angry, is not enough a reason legitimate to follow that anger.
Consider finally: What the grounds of genuine agency susues; genuine agency is in spite of the contingent conditions. To act in accordance with your will, you must push away from the things that do not accord your will. The emotions can temporarily sway us from our projects; the man who seeks study may be temporarily stopped by poor health, which changes his intentional content. We must fight these things in order to be genuinely autonomous, that is, independent, from inclination. To be a moral person is to be highly restricted, for you, right now Sophie; you must restrict your anger, but for you, Michael, you must restrict your sentimental feelings, such as sympathy, fondness, and excitement as reasons for action, for the same reasons as Sophie.
[A] I feel uncomfortable with these conclusions you make, for my feelings are the most obvious thing to me. Yet, they are always subject to change. I shall go and reflect upon how I shall act. Anger that consumes me is a great threat to my moral character, and my rationality. I feel much fear
[M] I feel much anxiety about limiting feelings which seem to be innocuous.
[S] Emotions are never innocuous, young man.