[In a discussion between Sinistre’ and myself about Spinoza’s conception of Mind; Antisophie comes to the fore; in her lovely garb, to which Sinistre and I both look at her with hungry and perverse eyes, then look at each other and smile, as if to say “I wasn’t thinking anything!”; we welcomed her; she had an interesting question to confound us. Well, I was confounded at just how much Sinistre’ is just a rehash of Kant….
Anyhoo; here begins our story:]
Antisophie: If doing the right thing, from a different motivation, that is, nonetheless the right thing? Why should we care?
Michael: What a brilliant question, my dear; would you like to take this one, Sinistre-Prime?
Sinistre’: Yes; I shall, Magister; please allow me to tell you a story, Antisophie
When I returned to the Numinous realm; I discovered a difference between myself and Sinistre. Sinistre is an animal; and I am a man. What makes us different? Our relationship with the inclinations that form the basis for action.
Sinistre acts from the passions; of anger, or arousal, of sympathy, or of compassion. Sure; sympathy and compassion are good things to have that make us do good things; but to use the medium or source as a grounding for ethical motivation? No!
If we say “Sympathy makes us moral, so act sympathetically”; what are we saying? We are saying “…so act sympathetically” as a claim towards trusting the resource from which sympathy, a sentiment; lies. What if that very resource is contained within it our more animistic and violent of desires? Do we use a tool that works well some of the time? Or a tool that works well all of the time? With the application of reason to our actions; following the imperative calculus; we shall never fail iff we apply ourselves correctly (whether we actually do, is another difficulty of action, but not of principle) [I interrupt, and say “I principally disagree”, but let Sinistre’ continue].
As Michael will tell you; there is a difference between principium diiudictionis and principium executionis. When we behave as moral agents; we have two tasks that we need to perform; establish a source of moral motivation, and establish a resource for moral platitudes. SENTIMENT CANNOT SERVE EITHER ROLE.
For executionis; the emotions are spurious. We do not help someone in virtue of the fancy of our emotions, in virtue of the fancy of our inclinations. A person needs help in dire situations irrespective of their relation to us, irrespective of their sexual attractiveness, irrespecitive of their folly, minority, or our prejudice. THAT is what it means to be moral; to help someone in virtue of an ephemeral sentiment is not moral; it is animal. If I were to help a person in distress in virtue of being a damsel; I have damned myself by not obeying the moral law. It does not work as a good motivation.
For diiudtionis, this is an obvious truism for me. Why can’t we trust our emotions? Because they make us do things we knowingly (at some later point, granted) accept are wrong. Do you shame your friends and humiliate them in virtue of a feeling? No. We can do the right thing because of sentiment; but we can never do the moral thing because of it. Remember, Antisophie; that the highest aim of reason, and the human being is to reach perfect moral virtue and the highest end of reason is morality. For the phenomenal realm is cognised by the catgeories; and we willingly accept that they are misapplied when they go beyond the realms of experience.
REASON DOES BELONG TO THE NOUMENAL REALM (Second Critique); but the things that we achieve through pure (practical) reason is this: moral laws, which govern ourselves.
To be moral is to be self-governing; to emerge from our natural tendencies, to escape animal desire and become rational agents. We are higher than the mud from which we came. We are not the semen driven by brownian motion; we are the rational agents of the enlightened earth! WE RULE, NOT OUR BODIES.
Michael: Calm down, Magister. I see you have been reading The Master’s Philosophy again. I think you have given an answer to Antisophie; but now allow me to challenge you….
[The details of my further discussion with Magister Sinistre’ are not entirely relevant for now; but know this reader. Sinistre’ is a man who has ascended from his Sinistrean heritage. Sinistre lives only when the passions take over the rational man; that is the goal of the summum bonum; the ultimate aim of humanity is to reach a perfection of virtue. Sinistre’ has a long way to go; but I’m here to help him on every step…so here, ends our dialogue; for you, that is…]