Pyschological Angelology (Part II): Cognitive Morality

In the last article about this, I dōve into emotional morality. Here, I dive into cognitive morals. That and the absence of negative emotions as opposed to the presence of positive ones. I should highlight that in the intervening time, I did a cursory Google search for positive mental health and the results were all about one’s personal well-being. This is a bad measure of what positive mental health is since the least ethical CEO, politician, or mean girl could be healthy according to these metrics. Positive mental health is not the absence of suffering or dysfunction because sacrifice for noble causes often lead to those things. In fact, someone who has never been clinically anxious or depressed has likely never been altruistic enough to count as a good person. PTSD sucks but if earned in a just war may be a proud battle scar. Jesus, if he was fully human in addition to fully divine, which, as a Chaceldonian I subscribe to, then his wounds from the cross were as much in his amygdala as in his palms.

There are three, general, positive cognitive pathologies in addition to the emotional ones from the last article I wrote about this: ahimsa, asceticism, and cognitive empathy. Now, I could have used more plebeian vocabulary but I didn’t want to say a lack of anger for ahimsa or a lack of possession for asceticism. That because anger and possession have abstract, philosophical, value I didn’t want here. For example, righteous anger toward injustice can be completely philosophical. One does not want to feel hate or desire vengeance but righteous indignation is justified and anger is the way one can say that so less educated people can understand. Ahimsa is a lack of hatred and a lack of malice, it is not a lack of philosophical anger. The same with philosophical possession. It is not wrong to defend one’s right to a living wage but, of course, it is wrong to be viscerally plagued by avarice. One should be philosophically possessive regarding one’s dignity and the material possessions which contribute to it but to salivate for nothing.

The last of the three is cognitive empathy which is quite different from emotional empathy because cognitive empathy is not emotionally relating to another but the tendency to try and understand another. To put it one way, it is not instantly seeing oneself in another’s shoes but consciously putting oneself there by instinctively asking oneself questions about the other’s situation and appreciating the lack of knowledge one has. Emotional empathy is positive but is among the most problematic of the six psychological virtue spectra I have listed since it is associated with oxytocin which induces grudges and anti-outgroup bias. If one is to love one’s enemy and the pariahs of society, emotional empathy is sometimes bad for that given it is, in large part, caused by oxytocin. If one wishes to be super-Christian and love serial killers and child molesters, it is best to rely more on cognitive empathy and, if possible, condition one’s emotional empathy to comport with it.

Asceticism may be more practicably defined as personal conservatism. In daily life, it does not mean to be monastic but to be things like humble, meek, modest, altruistic in self-sacrificial ways, and so on. It is also more of a matter of attachment than it is superficial. If one is an aesthetic maximalist, that is not less moral than minimalism. Scandanavian minimalism is among the choice of style of the modern upper class and is a status symbol. If one has Victorian chic tastes and likes doing dress-up as a Victorian gentleman who does old-timey romance, that makes you an eccentric but reflects nothing poor on your character since it hasn’t been a status symbol in over a century. Asceticism is the psychological state of being independent of the world, not the physical state. Moreover still, ascsticism as as much in meekness, humility, and altruistic sacrifice as it is non-attchment to objects.

The three emotional virtues of psychology add to these three cognitive virtues to make what I term the Hexiad Albus. Since the bad traits are the dark triad, I call this the light, well, white sixiad: The Albus Hexiad.

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