I would like to continue with my thoughts from the last post.
First, I like to add something about the general discussion about “Ethics”. In my opinion, “Happiness” is introduced as the “Purpose of Life” is basically tactics to persuade people to “buy in” to the “virtues” in the “moral system”, namely people who possess these “virtues” will find “Happiness” (just as “after life” is introduced in religion as incentive to persuade people to submit to religion). But ultimately, no tactics can be very effective if the foundation is wrong (which I have talked about a little in my last post). In fact, this tactics is very problematic in application from the very start. For example, Emmanuel Kant said, the only thing that is good without qualification is a “good will” (which basically makes it the “virtue” of all “virtues”). But “Emma” just shows us that “good will” could cause all kinds of trouble for peoples (if it is not very clear to people, I am talking about Emma’s activities of match making, I will assume people will accept that she acted out of “good will”, and I assume that people will accept the consequence of her “good will” is not “Happiness”. Actually, it is quite disastrous for everyone). [In fact, this story also challenges another basic fundamental in “Ethics”, which is “do to others what you would want others to do to you”. The more I think about “Emma”, the more interesting it becomes.]
But I think if we think under the principles of Love and Reason, then we would conclude certain rules and values are useful for us to achieve our goals (whatever our goals are, provided the goals are tested based on Love and Reason),so the “moral system” that we can build on would be more reasonable and effective. For example, in my earlier posts (“About ‘Emma” III and IV”), I think I basically showed that “telling the truth” should be a fundamental rule, and people who are not following this rule often will find themselves in trouble (although I emphasized that ultimately, this rule should also be evaluated using the principles of Love and Reason). In my future posts, talking about the “moral system” based on the basic principles of Love and Reason will be one of my goals.
But how would we look at the problem with “good will” in “Emma”? The problems with Emma’s match making activities are actually quite complicated. I certainly will come back to this subjects many times. Here, I like to say that “good will” may not necessarily helpful to achieve one’s goals. Problems could arise if either one’s goals are problematic, or the methods of achieving the goals are problematic. How we would view the problems would depend on how we define Emma’s goals, and granted if we define her goals in certain way, then there might not be much problems at all. But if we define her goals more narrowly, in the success of matching making itself, then we can say her methods of achieving the goals could be problematic, even if her goals are not. Here, we basically denied that “good will” prominent place in “Ethics” (basically dismantled the mechanism of “Ethics”). And, we also provide another serious challenge about the theory of “Ultimate Good”. [The problem with “do to others what you would want others to do to you” is basically related as well. The basically problem with “Ethics” is, assumption is made that everyone wants the same thing, which in itself can create huge problems. But does everyone want the same thing? As I said, I cannot write all my thoughts at once, and it creates anxiety for me.]
Now, I want to continue with the subject of relationship between man and woman. In my last post, I was not able to summarize my points very clearly. But now, I think I can express myself more clearly. In fact, I have reached this conclusion before (in my earlier thoughts, not in this blog). So, I am basically just reorganizing my thoughts and make this point more clear. I think we should admit that man and woman cannot be equal, because it is quite obvious, men and women just cannot be identical (which is what being equal means). But men and women will have to be able to identify with each other in order to truly love each other. This is what “being friends” really means. This point is more important for men, than women, because the collective conscious is basically based on men’s views, so women often unknowing identify with men, while men often are incapable of identifying with women.
What does “identifying with each other” mean? This is a very complicated subject I cannot fully explain at this time. But I am starting now. First, in order to be able to “identifying with each other”, there must be something identical in everyone, something of essence. This is what being humanist means, and this is why the basic principle of Love and Reason is important. People will have different experiences in their lives, and there are many things in people that are not identical. But are there somethings fundamental in humans that can all be the same? My conclusion is, there could be, as long as people realize the importance of them.
There are many debates about whether people are fundamental “good” or “bad”. I don’t think this kind of debate is very useful (to say the least). What is the purpose of this debate? First, it is very difficult to say whether a person is “good” or “bad”. And, if we can find a definition, then knowing people are “good” or “bad” may not be very helpful in practice. For example, if we agree with Kant that the “virtue” of all “virtues” is “good will”, then we can say that “good people” are people who always act with “good will”. But as we can see in “Emma”, Harriet Smith probably bought into this theory, hence trusted Emma whole heartedly, which led her to quite a journey (there are a lot to be said about her experiences, I will talk more about it later).
I think one of biggest problems with humans is, people often tend to try to simplify things, but in the attempt of doing so, actually made things more complicated that they actually could be. The debate about whether people are fundamental “good” or “bad” is probably a good example. Can we prove all humans are “good” or “bad”? I seriously doubt it. Can we even prove without a doubt a particular person is good or bad? It would be a very difficult task at least. So, why bother? Wouldn’t it be easier if we just ask a different question? What if we just ask if it is possible for all people to be able to Love and be Reasonable? I think it is at least possible for the majority of people to be able to Love and be Reasonable, given the right conditions. I think we have to recognize that humans are made, not just born. A majority of “who we are” are built from my life experiences. The philosophies we adopted (accept it or not, everyone has their philosophies, whether one realizes it or not. We can call them the ways of thinking, principles, rules, and values, etc. Whatever we call them, we adopt them as we grow), the knowledge we accumulated, and habits we formed, etc., built into who we are.
So, if the majority of people agreed that people are capable of Love and be Reasonable, then it is possible for the majority of people to be capable of Love and be Reasonable. But how to persuade people to actually adopt the principles of Love and Reason? If everyone could have Love and Reason as their basic principles, then it would be possible to people to identify with each other, which could lead people to love each other. What was Mr. Knightley’s complain about Harriet Smith? He thought she was silly. He even declared that “Men of sense do not want silly wives!” What was Mr. Knightley’s complain about Jane Fairfax? He thought she was too reserved, lack of affections.
I am very eager to talk about whether Harriet Smith (or even Miss Bates) is silly. It is a fascinating subject, especially with Mr. Elton and Mrs. Elton, or even Emma in the mix. Because I want to spend significant time talking about it, I want to wait for later posts. But then I realized this subject is very relevant to what I am talking about now. So, I will start to talk about it now as well. I think we can conclude that Harriet Smith is not silly, or in other words, she has good sense. But her sense is relatively simple, and this has a lot to do with her lack of experience or education (or her sense could be misguided by her experience or education. There are more to it, but I will save it for later.)
I am talking about this now because it has a lot to do with the problems with the relationship between Men and Women. As I said, this is a very complicated subject, so I cannot make all the points about this subject now. But I think the most important problems with the relationship between Men and Women is that they are all misguided by their educations and experiences in many different ways in some degrees.
Emma is ahead of her time. In fact, she is so ahead of time, she is in a time that has not come yet. When we say, she is ahead of her time, the word “feminist” often will come to mind. But I don’t think “feminist” is the right word to describe her. The things she did (right or wrong) are quite “womanly”. In other words, she did not really try to do anything that normally only men can do. But, in her “womanly” way, the quests she embarked are the types of quests that are commonly done by men, and men only. Not only that, there are so many pointed question she raised, there were (and for the most part, there are) no answers to these questions yet. In fact, no one has even attempted to raise many questions, thus no attempt has been made to answer these questions. I think Mr. Knightly is able to recognize her attempts in the end, thus fully identifies with her, respect her and support her. So, I think their love is basically the “perfect love” (meaning as perfect as it could be).
October 18, 2017