Man For Himself—An Inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics
· denies man's capacity to know what is good/bad
· the norm giver is always an authority transcending the individual
· answers the question of good and bad in terms of authority's interests
· child/adult relationship-
"a thing is good if it is good for the person who uses it"
· ordains main virtue-obedience; main sin-disobedience
· Old Testament
· "virtue"=self-denial and obedience, suppression of individuality rather than full expression
· "the applied science of the 'art of living' based upon the theoretical 'science of man'"
· only man himself can determine criterion for virtue and sin, not authority (formally)
· "good" is what is good for man; "evil" is what is detrimental
· sole criterion is man's welfare
· "virtue" is unique individuality lived to fullest
· nothing higher and nothing more dignified than human existence
· man finds his fulfillment and happiness only in relatedness to and solidarity with his fellow man
· love is his own power by which he relates to the world and makes it truly his
· in order to know what is "good" we have to know his nature
· the excellence of one's achievements is proportional to the knowledge one has of the science of man and to one's skill and practice
· the knowledge of man is the basis of establishing norms and ethics
- Need for objective criterion
- Is it possible to establish norms of conduct and value judgments which are objectively valid for all men and yet postulated by man himself and not by an authority transcending him?
- note: in all arts a system of objectively valid norms constitutes the theory of practice based on theoretical science
- living itself is an art
- process of developing into that which one is potentially
- man is both the artist and he object of his art
- "The drive to live is inherent in every organism, and man cannot help wanting to live regardless of what he would like to think about it. The choice between life and death is more apparent than real; man's real choice is that between a good life and bad life"
- Why has our time lost the concept of life as an art?
- Modern man seems to think, "living is something so simple that no particular effort is required to learn how to do it" while the belief that becoming an architect, etc. warrants considerable study
- "Modern society, in spite of all the emphasis it puts upon happiness, individuality, and self-interest, has taught man to feel that not his happiness (or if we were to use a theological term, his salvation) is the aim of life, but the fulfillment of his duty to work, or his success. Money, prestige, and power have become his incentives and ends. He acts under the illusion that his actions benefit his self-interest, though he actually serves everything else but the interest of his real self. Everything is important to him except his life and the art of living"
- "[Man] is for everything except himself"
"If ethics constitutes the body of norms for achieving excellence in performing the art of living, its most general principles must follow from the nature of life in general and of human existence in particular"
- The nature of life is to preserve and affirm its own existence
- Respect for life
- Inherent tendency to protect own life
- First "duty," to be alive
- "a dynamic, not static, concept"
- "Existence and the unfolding of the specific powers of an organism are one and the same"
- To actualize specific potentialities
- "The aim of man's life is to be understood as the unfolding of his powers according to the laws of his nature"
- Duty of living is the duty to become oneself, singular and particular
ü "the affirmation of life, the unfolding of man's powers"
§ "responsibility toward his own existence"
ü "crippling of man's powers"
§ "irresponsibility toward himself"
The Science of Man (Human nature)
Ø Man exists and there is a human nature characteristic of the species
Ø Authoritarian thinkers
Ø Human nature fixed and unchangeable
Ø Progressive thinkers
Ø Infinite malleability of human nature
Ø Both untenable
Ø Man can adapt himself to almost any cultural pattern
Ø But he develops mental and emotional disturbances if these are contradictory to his nature
Ø Man is not a blank sheet
Ø Man is an entity charged with energy and structured in specific ways
Ø "If man had adapted himself to external conditions autoplastically, by changing his own nature, like an animal, and were fit to live under only one set of conditions to which he developed a special adaptation, he would have reached the blind alley of specialization which is the fate of every animal species, thus precluding history. If, on the other hand, man could adapt himself to all conditions without fighting those which are against his nature, he would have no history either"
Ø "Human evolution is rooted in man's adaptability and in certain indestructible qualities of his nature which compel him never to cease his search for conditions better adjusted to his intrinsic needs"