Wednesday, June 18, 2014

What should be done (on very basic life choices)

As of late I've been pondering more heavily than usual the right way to live in our late capitalist, desiderative reason guided society. There are a number of guidelines which have always been (and still are) very clear for me:

  • Do not lie (damn Kantian that I am!) to others or to self
  • Do not harm others, except when the benefit to those same harmed vastly outweights the pain (so yes, you can vaccinate your children)
  • Seek your own perfection and other people happiness
  • Do not settle for normal, or mediocre. Strive for greatness
  • Apply critical judgment, don't be fooled by your desires
  • Learn more
  • Critizice less (which may be the opposite of "critique less")
  • Be kind to strangers, kinder to neighbors and companions, kindest to loved ones
The question buzzing in my head is to what extent the adherence to those principles is compatible with a normal (even more a "successful", as per the prevalent social standards) life within our society. If we accept (as more and more I tend to do) that money corrupts (to be more precise, if not exactly money, which is just a convenient technology to keep track of mutual committments, at least market mediated exchanges as a way of coordinating every social interaction) participating in a society which is mediated by money to the extent the current one does may require a level of compromising that makes a mockery of the upholding of those guidelines.

Specially if one rises (assuming no cheating, no lying and no debasing oneself) in the corporate hierarchy and ends up in a position of certain responsibility (which almost unavoidably implies using people as means, and certainly not as ends in themselves, as the 2nd formulation of the categorical imperative commands us to do), where the expectation that goes with it is precisely to mould one's team to be an efficient tool for maximizing the benefit to be apprehended in those market mediated interactions...

Put in another words, if there are some inherent evils in the way society is organized, and we accept that those evils are not an optional feature, but a core component of the system, without which society would not function, ¿isn't it immoral not to devote all our energies to the overcoming of such system? ¿is it not even more immoral to strive to benefit from it, playing within its rules, leaving others to fend for themselves (even if one donates a certain amount to "charity", isn't that giving counterproductive, as it helps buttress an essentially unjust way of organizing things)?

Of course I would desire "it" not to be so, and to justify to myself that it's OK to "flourish and prosper" as society dictated. I could even justify it in the beenfit that my loved ones, the wife adn kids that depend on my salary for their subsistence (and that have a lot of flourishing in front of them, of which I'm in a substantial part responsible, having brought them in this world), derive from my work (so, being for the prosperity of others, can be presented as an act of altruism). But that would contradict the fifth principle, so I can't lay content with it.

S I have to keep thinking about what to do not on an individual scale, but on a whole societal one. What kind of society must we strive to build, and what kind of action is it reasonable to expect from us towards it. Which will definitely require another post...

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