Determinate Conceptions of the Good


arrowsI think it’s super instructive to notice how people today are suspicious of people who hold to some determinate conception of what’s good. It seems to be common sense that if you think there is something concretely morally good or right to be done, you’re deluded, brainwashed, in short, irrational.

This is obviously a symptom of capitalism. Like Marx shows, capital empties out the content of the human way of life, and makes it almost perfectly formal and abstract. In this way the huge financialisation of capitalism is just as symptomatic of the same process as “not wanting to offend anyone”, “snowflake models of organisation”, and “horizontalism”.

Alasdair Macintyre, in After Virtue reveals what the essential reality is behind this ideological appearance. The true content of our social existence as humans becomes emotivistic. That is, we treat ethical decisions like cheering on a football team. Casualisation of the workforce, “flexibility in the workplace”, “terrorists are destroying our way of life”, hurrah! We become objects for manipulation by brute force.

The point is to get back to what it means to be human, what Marx said our “species-being” (a term from Feuerbach, sure, but he was right) was. The purpose of a human is to develop themselves as a creative and self-determining social agent. To realise their potential free from wage-slavery, gender oppression, and racism.