This class has explored both the importance of factual reasoning and logic as well as the importance of grounding ourselves in emotion and our inner feelings. We as humans can try our hardest to be as logical as possible and follow strict guidelines that we place on our morals and actions, but anyone knows that real life is about integrating the human emotion and the unpredictable things that happen to us with the use of reason and logic. Both of these ideas contribute to our human nature which is why I don’t favor either but recognize the importance of both.
It’s easy to see how these ideals are implemented into current Western society. For example, one of the things that the Enlightenment era focused on was religious ideals and being able to establish a personal relationship with God and not just follow the sayings of the Bible. The way that our morals and actions are formed come from an inner understanding of what’s right and wrong and not just rules that tell us what to do, and the condemnation of devout blind religious devotion is something that has seeped into our society today. Today, most religious relationships with God focus on a deeper set of understanding as opposed to just doing something because the Bible says so. Focusing on the intent behind one’s actions and not just the consequence relates to moral principles that were discussed by Kant, Rousseau and other Enlightenment writers. Romanticism also seeps it’s way into our current society by having us focus on the individualism and uniqueness of each person. Our art, our music and our literature are affected by romanticism ideals of focusing on the human experience and reflecting on the emotions that we face. Through our art and sharing our experiences we can empathize with others and coexist. Without the integration of those two ideals, it would be very hard to go through day to day life without rationality and self-reflection of the emotions and feelings we have.
As for the past 3 HUM classes and now this one, I think my main takeaway is being able to see how the human experience develops. We are a product of the people and ideas that come before us whether or not we choose to reject or continue traditions and ways of thinking. How we choose what is right and wrong, how we choose to treat others, how we choose to make decisions has been evaluated through so many different author’s perspectives and being able to see how they are influenced by the society and events around them helps us to better understand why different perspectives flourished the way that they did.
Throughout the last half of the quarter we have toyed with the idea of romanticism and how it affected the peoples mindset as we went through the years. Romanticism is like steeping away from the strict rules of reason. Where most of our thoughts and actions relied on emotion and our instinct. Which can clearly be seen within Goethe’s “sorrows of a young werther” and how werther beyond all reason acted purely on his desire to be with the love of his life. Much in the same way as people in modern times simply go with the flow, or live a life of YOLO. Modern romantics tend to try and experience life to the fullest, going on adventures, being out in nature and generally living their life with out much regard to reason. However, to live a life like this you must be able to distinguish between enjoying nature and living out your dreams, and following your desires into a phase where it causes harm to our own well being. In a sense romaticism is enjoying what the world as to offer but still within the bounds that it doesn’t affect your own life. Werther disregarded that second fact which had ultimately led to his demise. Live your life in balance and everything will end up just fine
I would have to say that agree with the Enlightenment perspective the most because I find it more important to ensure a law that works for everyone using reason than following one person’s individual experience. While I do believe that the things we learn from each perspective are important and should be used in conjunction, I think if we failed to use the logic that arose from the Enlightenment then there would be a lot more issues for us as a species to deal with. I think the way the Enlightenment teaches one to think and make decisions is important for the creation of a functional society, something that we all currently rely on.
It has helped me recognize the purpose of various things in society and how they function together. There are some things that we put into society in order to serve a specific, function and are designed to have one outcome. These things, to me, represent the Enlightenment era where they strived to balance reason/duty with desire in order to serve one common good. Then, there are other things in society whose roll is to evoke thinking or some type of response. These things are representative of Romanticism because they prioritize the emotional and personal aspects to the interactions we have in life. Observing the western society that we have today, I can see where both of these things and ideas have a place and how they have merged together to allow us to appreciate both of their ideology.
To me, the most important thing I took away from this class was how to consider and compare different opinions and ideas. I feel like hum 4 dealt more with differing opinions within the same society and how to handle that, rather than the differences between societies. This is something that is very applicable to us because the United States is home to many different people coming from extremely different backgrounds, so we need to know how to coexist and learn from one another.
I find it interesting how Kant focuses so strongly on reason and rational thought when it comes to morals. While this sounds reasonable and even like the best way to determine moral values, in reality it’s not very realistic.
People generally don’t make a pros and cons list for every action they make or even every controversy they face. Instead we listen to what our intuition and intincts; what we feel. It’s why we feel guilty when we eat someone’s food, why we feel good when you return a found wallet. We let out conscious make the decisions. Somethings may be morally ambiguous too based on where we are in society. If you are in a financially unstable environment you may do things that don’t make sense just from a pure reasonable standpoint. Stealing food is irrational- you could go to jail, you are taking from a person’s business, etc., however if you need the food to survive does that make it immoral? I don’t think so because I know that needed it to survive, and they aren’t actually a bad or immoral person. Every situation relies on context to determine it’s morality.
A major current controversy is people coming from Mexico to the US. Families are separated and torn apart, and people can’t escape poor financial or political conditions. How I know that it is wrong to keep people out of the US just because they are not a citizen is in how I feel. It hurts to put myself it their situation. Empathy is the key that Kant is missing in his reason argument. Reason isn’t the only source of our moral beliefs, empathy and our intuitions are important aspects that Kant ignores.
Kant makes the following remark on the purpose of reason: “For since reason is not sufficiently serviceable for guiding the will safely as regards its objects and the satisfaction of all our needs…its (reason’s) true function must be to produce a will which is good, not as a means to some further end”. According to this Kant perceives reason as a mean to produce good will, the unconditional good that ensure morals. His reasoning can be summarized as follow:1.Everything in nature work in a purposive manner. 2.It is not a purpose for reason to create a will satisfying all our needs. 3.Reason has influence on our will. With premise 1 and that reason exists, one derives that reason has a purpose. Given this and premise 2, 3, one may concludes that reason purposefully influence our will, but not for satisfying our needs. Kant claims that this purpose of reason is to produce good will. However premise 1 could be problematic, and if one is to follow Hume’s view of knowledge, that one ought to proportion trust in claims according to the strength of evidence, then 1 is clearly flawed. Despite how many things we have studied, we can only find purposes in finite number of things, never enough evidence to justify a claim infinite. If 1 is to limited to a number of things in nature, excluding reason, then the argument would not be valid. Alternatively we may simply define will guided solely by reason, free from inclination, as good will, although this will make the idea of a good will irreverent to experiences or common sense, for reason is considered a prior by Kant.
Under Kant’s definition of good will Abraham making attempt on Issac’s life is certainly not an act with good will, and hence an immoral act. Abraham’s act is unreasonable: he cannot provide a reason to others why he would try to kill his son, and in the end all he show through the event is obedience without using one’s own capacity to reason, effectively prevent any possibility for good will. Was there any reasoning for the universal which Abraham could use to justify his act, he should be able to communicate it to others, for reason is the same to all human. Would Abraham use reason to judge his action, he must see that one should not kill another person, for this cannot be an universal law: if everyone is to kill another person, there would be no human left to kill or to be killed.