Saturday, March 5, 2016

An Addendum: On the Ethical Realm in its Personal, Short-term and Intimate Form



In my essay The True Meaning of Pessimism I go into why it seems to me that Schopenhauer has an understanding of human beings and their suffering that someone like Marx lacks.  I however forgot to bring up one of the elements I wanted to put in said paper.  That despite my preference to the politics of Marx and Bakunin over Schopenhauer, it seems that Schopenhauer has an understanding (or at-least emphasis in writing, someone could say that Marx and Bakunin understand this perfectly well, but simply do not spend their time writing on it) of the intimacy and proper role of ethics that Marx lacks.
With Marx everything is material forces and the political revolution of the proletariat triumphing ‘gainst the bourgeoisie.  There is very-little if any place for individual actions of kindness and generosity towards our fellow Man – actions that I will assume the reader will acknowledge are of value.  Now someone could very-well leverage the complaint that Marx would completely agree of the value of said actions, he simply doesn’t focus on them and instead wants to focus on the material (economic) dimension to human existence.  And since he lived in an era of Hegel, an era of Idealism and piffle, I can understand why he emphasizes what he does regardless of whether or not what he posits his valid; however, to ignore the intimate and the personal aspects of the ethical realm of existence, to make it all class struggle and politics, this is the complaint that I find there is no completely satisfying answer to.
Let me make it clear, this is not in-itself a statement saying that Marxism is incorrect, merely that Marxism is lacking.  And I am not in any regard the first to make a remark of spotting a form or type of lacking in Marxist philosophy.  Anarchism as a philosophy (I’m biased of course) is, it seems, a far more fleshed out and complex philosophy that combines the political and the ethical.  To clarify, the political is almost by definition involving ethics (normative claims) but the ethical I mean is the intimate and personal aspects of ethics that is seen in art and is felt by us in our daily lives – that is if we are truly alive as ethical human beings.
It is for this reason and my falling away from an ethics that is attached to Materialism that I have largely disassociated myself with Marx.  This has happened over time, and is not something I come to rashly.  I personally find the approach of a thinker like Bakunin to be far more useful in his approach and wise in his prose – I think many would find there to be great intelligence in the writings of Marx, but little wisdom.  Bakunin talks about specific political problems, why they are problems, and why we need to get rid of inheritance or give everyone free education for example (examples still of great import today) so that a suffering created by this injustice (whether or not he thinks it is unjust because people suffer or it is unjust divorced from it is another matter) will be rectified.  Marx however feels satisfied writing lengthy explanations of the functioning of the Capitalist system – certainly something of value for the economist, but not of primary value for how we are to live our lives, treat others, or what political problems to focus on as to in the short-term make moral gains towards a more peaceful planet.

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