Rawls’ Liberalism: Logos, Pathos, their Divorce, and their Marriage

It has been a long debate within society on whether emotions or reason should influence more greatly our choices. This is stupid. The imagined conflict is based on the idea that the rational mind has no heart. It is a stereotype that is dangerously influential. It leads to the populist idea that experts are cold and callous and should not be trusted with power. It posits that cognitive empathy doesn’t exist and only emotional empathy exists and furthermore that emotions and reason are in a zero-sum competition. The fact that Donald Trump has an apparent intellectual disability is a sign to many in our culture that he is morally superior to the jaded sophisticates of the establishment. Being retarded makes him Mister Smith Goes to Washington.

If I were to list the most moral people of the previous century, Albert Einstein and Carl Sagan would be near the top thus contradicting the inverse correlation between intelligence and morality believed in by the pop culture. Should one be led by the heart or by the brain? Well, the heart is literally by the brain and the brain couldn’t exist without the heart. Those organs work in concert, not in competition. To put it one way, one should seek to make ethically and morally upright choices to then be rewarded by serotonin and not seek the serotonin first and hope it was the right thing to do. Either, the emotional empathy follows the cognitive empathy or it’s aimless hedonism which, when altruistic, is only altruistic towards the causes which trigger the most intense neurochemical response.

Furthermore, one’s ethics often become inconsistent and even less ethical the less one includes the scientific study of ethics in one’s personal moral compass. The fact I describe myself in the bio page on my website as a virtue ethicist, a deontologist, and a utilitarian in that order, shows that I have a system through which I can make ethical choices and determine the moral nuances of any given situation. Without a knowledge of ethical philosophy, on the nuanced and subtle issues for which one is responsible as a human and as a citizen, one is clueless as to how to choose and is more likely to choose wrong. Moreover, one is more capable of rationalizing wrong as right when one’s knowledge of ethics is fuzzier and more ambiguous.

One of the primary reasons the pop culture associates higher intelligence with lesser morals is because it associates smartness with STEM and not, psych, the social science, or the humanities. Having spent my life doing PSS (Psych & Social Sciences) it is very stupid to me to that the culture implies that PSS requires less intellect than STEM. I also find it disheartening that the culture is shouting that we need STEM more than other fields, right now. We’re in the middle of a sociological and psychological crisis in the world ergo PSS is equally important to STEM. One of the great benefits to doing PSS is that I’ve studied ethics while most STEM people have not.

In all our robotic dystopias, the AI typically lack a sense of humanity. It is their rationality that makes them evil. When I watched Ex Machina in a philosophy class and then rewrote the ending because that’s what I do when I don’t like an ending. The main AI character, Ava, wasn’t creatively made since she was the standard robot, callous and calculating in a heartless way. I took her, added LSD, MDMA, the maturity of a fourteen-year-old girl, the maturity of a twenty-four-year-old girl, and made her an evangelical religious zealot. Part Billy Graham, part Blair Waldorf, and part Disney Princess. A far superior character in every way and much more perplexing philosophically. She lives within a torrential hurricane of emotions and spirituality. The archetypal robotic genius is a metaphor for a long disproven myth most famously espoused by Francis Fukuyama that with human advancement we will reach the end of history, a state of reason devoid of emotion or spirituality.

That archetype supposes that the march of progress absconds from the human rather than evolving with the human. Francis Fukuyama believed all moral progress had been completed, yet, it hadn’t. Moral philosophy and emotions didn’t die and they’re not going to. So far, this century has revealed many deep, philosophical, items such as the truths of human nature when given the anonymity of a faceless username, the ability to statistically measure the shunning of outcasts with ghosting and blocking, the uncomfortable truth and moral dilemma that dictatorships with horrid human rights records and torturous oppressions to their names should have been respected since overthrowing them from Iraq to Libya to Syria led to bloodbaths and slaughterhouses not seen since the Balkans’ Wars.

The positive inverse of that is also true. Not only did bad history not end, good history also didn’t end and that good history is needed to counter the bad history. The only thing that can stop bad history, is good history. If recent history has proven anything, it is that the archetypes and stereotypes of emotion versus reason should be abandoned. They have led to the very populism which creates nationalism and authoritarianism. It is a very germane issue to our times and one that needs to be addressed. And recent history, having disproven the theories of Fukuyama, also proves that reason cannot be divorced from the human and they must work in concert and not in competition. Their competition, as foremost theorized by John Rawls, is why there has been an emotional revolt against liberalism. For liberalism to be saved, which is the primary political need of the world, now, it needs to be emotionally rational.

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