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Chapter 9 The Idea Of Freedom

The Philosophy Of Freedom
Chapter 9 The Idea Of Freedom

THE INNER TRUTH OF FREEDOM

9.7 Ethical Individualism
[28] People vary in their capacity for intuition. In some, Ideas bubble up easily, while others acquire them with great difficulty. The life situations of people that provide the setting for their action is also very different. How a person acts will depend on the way his intuition functions when he is faced with a particular situation. The total of effective Ideas within us, the actual content of our intuitions, makes up what is individual in each of us despite the universality of Ideas. Insofar as this intuitive content is a reference for action, it is the ethical content of the individual. To let one’s individual ethical content express itself in life is the moral maxim of the one who regards all other ethical principles as subordinate. We call this standpoint ethical individualism.

[29] In a specific situation the decisive factor in an intuitively determined action, is to find the appropriate, completely individual intuition. At this level of morality, general moral concepts (standards, laws) can not be discussed. General norms always presuppose concrete facts from which they can be derived. But these facts have first to be created by human action.

9.8 Love For The Deed
When we look for the laws (conceptual principles) underlying the actions of individuals, peoples, and epochs, we obtain a system of Ethics that is not a science of ethical norms, but rather a science of morality as a natural fact. The laws discovered in this way relate to human behavior as the laws of nature relate to particular phenomena. These laws, however, are not at all identical with the impulses that we make the basis of our action. If we want to understand how a human action springs from an individual’s ethical willing, we must first study the relationship of this willing to the action in question. For this purpose we must single out for study those actions where ethical willing is the determining factor. When I, or someone else, later review my action, one can discover what ethical principles come into consideration for that action.

While I am acting, the ethical principle moves me to act to the extent it lives in me intuitively; this intuitive ethical principle is united with my love for the goal that I want to accomplish by my deed. I do not ask any person or rules, “Should I do this?” On the contrary, I carry it out the moment I have grasped the Idea of it. This alone makes it my action. If a person acts because he accepts a certain moral norm, his deeds will be the result of the principles that compose his moral code. He merely carries out orders. He is a higher kind of machine. Toss a stimulus to act into his awareness, and, right away, the clockwork of his moral principles are set in motion and run its course in a lawful manner to produce a deed that is Christian, or humane, or selfless, or to further the progress of civilization.

However, only when I follow my love for the objective is it I myself who acts. At this level of morality, I acknowledge no lord over me, no external authority, and no so-called inner voice of my conscience. I recognize no external principle for my action, because I have found in myself the ground of action in my love for the deed. I do not consider whether my action is good or bad; I do it because I am in love with it. My action is “good” when, with loving intuition, I fit myself in the right way within the world continuum (this can be experienced intuitively). The action will be “bad” if this is not the case. I do not ask how another person would act in my situation. I act as I, this unique individuality, wants to act. No common tradition, no common custom, no common human maxim, and no moral norm is my immediate guide. Rather, it is my love for the deed. I feel no compulsion, not the compulsion of natural instincts or the compulsion of moral commandments. I simply want to carry out what lives in me.

 

© Tom Last 2017