The Philosophy of Human Flourishing [pt. 2]: The Morality and Aesthetics of Human Flourishing
Since the form is a construct of our mind that allows us to associate our ends (value-preferences) with physical means (capital) for the intent of manifesting the ends in reality. This leads us to a definition of rationality; the man that aligns his ends with the capital that provides him the greatest materialization of his end is rational. The insane man does not discriminate between the proper capital to manifest his ends: thus the insane man is irrational. For example, an insane man at a campfire may attempt to use a fire as a ‘seat’, instead of the stump near the fire as a seat (both can be ‘seats’ if a man uses it to ‘sit’, but the stump can be declared to be a ‘better seat’). Nature rewards and selects for rationality; the man who prepared for winter would outlive and reproduce more than the hedonistic man. Nature rewards rationality because those who are rational create and gain more resources and thus have more resources to manifest ends. The end of natural selection is the flourishing of life. In order to achieve the end of a flourishing life those that exercise greater rationality are selected over those who do not.
Though rationality is the most important criteria for human selection, it is not the only means to the flourishing of life: some means to the end of flourishing life are super-rational. Those means that approached universality among mankind as rational decisions became intuitional values over time. Those humans who did not have the necessary chemical conditions to make a universally preferential (rational given the existing environmental conditions) choice were at a disadvantage to those humans that had the chemical disposition to motivate such a universally preferential choice. Thus, over time, such choices that were universally preferential toward the end of human flourishing were given chemical conditions (intuitions) that increased the likelihood that an individual would make a moral decision: from this super-rational selection process human morality was refined. This can be formulated into a simple rule: the phenotypic traits that enable a community to flourish are selected as super-rational moral intuitions. This rule could be used to state: The evolutionary end of morality is human flourishing.
If the evolutionary end of morality is human flourishing and the form can be an end allocated to an object then (applying the same standards to nature) the form of morality is human flourishing. Thus, if one is to consider an action or society just or unjust what he is considering (intuitionally) is whether the end of that action or the existence of that society leads to human flourishing. We can use this universal condition (given our moral intuitions) to deduce the validity of ethical propositions. Social utility is defined as the overall level of satisfaction or lack of uneasiness in society; it is representative of the value and abundance of choice in a given society. Since all voluntary transactions between rational people must increase satisfaction or alleviate uneasiness (increase utility) — as a rational individual would not take an action that does not increase his personal satisfaction or well-being — a society whereby people only made voluntary transactions would approach a Pareto efficient state in terms of individual utility. A Pareto efficient distribution of individual utility would be a society with maximized social utility. Utilitarianism uses the greatest good principle as the process to determine whether a human action is moral or immoral. The greatest good principle can be slightly modified to determine greatest human flourishing: any distortion of a social tendency towards pareto efficiency in terms of individual utility (maximizing social utility) ought not occur. In other words, any action that decreases the social utility should be considered immoral and illegal.
As an individual has an intuitional morality that lends itself toward human flourishing, an individual contains an intuitional aesthetic that admires flourishing as represented in beauty. When a man is attracted to a woman’s beauty what is subconsciously most appealing to him are her fertility signals; for example, when women are near ovulation (most fertile) they have slightly more pink lips because of increased blood flow, this increased blood flow also pinkens the cheeks and adds more contrast to a women’s darkened area around the eyes. The features associated with peak fertility are the same features that a women accentuates when she wears make up: this creates the illusion of fertility. Similarly, a women is attracted to a man’s strength, status and resources: all necessary conditions for the protection and nurturing of children. Beauty in humans is representative of the necessary conditions for children, a crucial aspect of human flourishing. The aspects of mankind that show the strength and ingenuity of men, along with the fertility and beauty of women, illuminate the natural order and aesthetics of human relationships. Traditional art and aesthetics ought to be promoted in society as healthy, while art sophists — whose philosophy negates the conditions necessary for flourishing — ought to be ostracized.
As beauty through flourishing ought to be found in the art focused on the individual, the art focused on nature should hold a standard of flourishing as well. Flourishing as an aesthetic is found both in the violent storm and a peaceful sea; the violent storm in all its death and destruction is necessary for a low time preference in society. It weeds out the weak who lacked the foresight and rationality to plan ahead: to fast today and feast tomorrow. The peaceful sea could represent the abundance of life and the flourishing of nature. It is the fulfillment of a stronger community after the violent storm of the past. An aesthetic of evil is necessary for the aesthetic of good. The aesthetic of violence is necessary for the aesthetic of peace. The duality of nature should be represented in art to free our human desire for beauty. There is no strength, intelligence and beauty in mankind if we make the weak, dumb and ugly live as the noble. The traits of nature that create a flourishing of society ought to be represented in art. The artists who encourage idealistic depictions of such a civilization should be uplifted and shared in society.
In conclusion, what is morally wrong is what prevents man from fulfilling his evolutionary potential of generating new and better versions of himself and society, and in the long term, fulfilling his metaphysical destiny of human flourishing. Our soul is marginal and in constant conflict with our subjective and egocentric physical existence. To be truly good and realize a lasting influence on the world we must not consider what merely benefits ourselves in the short-run, but what we must do to benefit our society in the long-run. The man who places the good of nation and society foremost to himself is the better man. Our will (ends) should align with our moral intuitions and truth, and our rationality should always align with our moral intuitions — lest we be sophists. When our will does not align with truth and moral intuitions (or we do not bother to consider truth and morality) we lose sense of our purpose and experience nihilism. Nihilism, both culturally and individually is a sign that we are morally wrong and that we ought to reconsider an existential element of our life or culture.
[Part three of this series will be on the proper form and role of government and economy in society.]