Sunday, June 26, 2011

Good & Bad, Emotion & Reason

1. Good And Bad

It is commonly understood that when people are good only because they fear other people, they become bad when they don't have to be afraid. A lifetime of good can end in bad. A long bad life can suddenly turn good.

It is also understood, less commonly, that the only way to be good for one's own reasons is to know the cost to oneself of being bad.

That cost of not staying good is losing yourself. Choosing what is good for you is all that keeps you together in a changing world. If you don't know what is really best for you, just haphazard take your choice of the spoils left over after giving yourself over to monitoring others in the pursuit of money and power, you are not really there. Knowing this, you fear your own action and not the reaction of other people.

When you are in a fight with people who do good only out of fear of others you cannot appeal to their understanding of right and wrong. They have none, only a sense of what they can get away with.

2. Emotion And Reason

Women are famously unreasonable. What this means is that they put no value on consistency in public life. Everything for them is focused on maintaining order in private life.

When people who do good out of fear of others listen to your complaints they are silently telling themselves they are more truly rational than you. Whereas a woman will not give your accusations a thought.

Men are more rational in their public life, but rely on private life to supply a reason to be rational. Reason is neither good nor bad in itself. If these words here are reasonable, it is for the sake of being able, as much as possible, not to lose myself. To keep a strict accounting of what is done for my own reasons and what out of fear of others. But it is not reasons that make private life good. It is feeling peace, love, beauty. There is a time to be reasonable, and a time to enjoy the fruits of reason. Not losing yourself means finding a purpose that travels, is not stopped at the border between reason and emotion.

This division also appears in our social lives. Men for women, teachers for students, parents for children take on one side of a division of labor. Husbands, teachers, parents use reasoning to carefully create and restore the conditions that are maintained by wives, learned by students, adhered to by children.

The division of labor is somewhat arbitrary in the case of men and women, where each easily and often does play the other role. That is not important. In any case whoever is responsible for the home usually will experience the role of teacher and parent to a greater extent than the partner who goes out to reason with the world.

You could say that those who do good only out of fear of others are limited to practice of only one side of the social division of labor: the side of husbands, teachers, parents. They may reason about right and wrong but never get anywhere really good. An easy way to be reminded of the value of such a life is to imagine how satisfactory a world would be of husbands without wives, teachers without students, parents without children.