Essentials Of Unification Thought - The Head-Wing Thought

IV. Appraisal of Traditional Theories of Ethics from the Viewpoint of the Unification Theory of Ethics

In this section, representative theories of ethics will be appraised from the perspective of Unification Thought. From the modern period, some major aspects of the theories proposed by Kant and Bentham will be discussed; from the contemporary period, highlights of the theories of analytical philosophy and pragmatism will be examined.

A. Kant

1. Kant's Theory of Ethics

In Critique of Practical Reason, Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) asserted that true moral law should not be a "hypothetical imperative," which tells us to "do something as a means to achieve Some purpose," but rather a "categorical imperative," which simply tells us to "do something," unconditionally. For example, we should not "be honest as a means to be regarded as a nice person," but rather simply "be honest," unconditionally. The categorical imperative is established by practical reason, and it gives our will an imperative, or an order. (Practical reason is called the "legislator.") The will that has received the imperative of practical reason is a good will. And a good will urges us to action.

Kant described the fundamental law of morality as follows: "Act so that the maxim of thy will can always at the same time hold good as a principle of universal legislation." "Maxim" here refers to a purpose aimed at by a person's will, or that which an individual thinks ought to be done. According to Kant, an action undertaken should be such that the subjective principle, or maxim, directing it can be applied universally. Kant regarded as good that which holds true universally, with no contradiction, just like natural law; that which does not hold true universally, he regarded as evil.

The morality asserted by Kant was a morality of duty, and the inner moral law that presses us to action, was a voice of duty. In his words, "Duty! Thou sublime and mighty name that dost embrace nothing charming or insinuating, but requirest submission .... but merely holdest forth a law which of itself finds entrance into the mind, and yet gains reluctant reverence. 4

Kant also stated that in order for good will not to be regulated by anything, freedom must be postulated, and that, as long as imperfect persons seek to realize goodness perfectly, the immortality of the soul must be postulated, and that, when one seeks perfect goodness, or the supreme good, virtue should be connected with happiness; further, if virtue is to match with happiness, then the existence of God must be postulated. Thus, Kant recognized the existence of the soul and of God as postulates of practical reason.

2. A Unification Thought Appraisal of Kant's Theory of Ethics

Kant distinguished pure reason (i.e., theoretical reason) from practical reason. Pure reason is for the purpose of knowledge, and practical reason regulates the will and guides it to action. Since pure reason is separate from practical reason, there cannot but arise the problem of why action required by the categorical imperative is good. In deciding whether or not a certain act is good, one must ascertain the result of that act. Yet, according to Kant, an act that is directly impelled by the categorical imperative to do a certain thing, irrespective of the results of that act, is good.

Suppose someone happens to encounter a wounded man, and the categorical imperative "you must help this man" is issued. Suppose, further, that the person receiving the categorical imperative takes the wounded man to a hospital. After that, however, there is a chance that the man who was taken to the hospital may not feel good about that. Yet, since the person who did the "good deed" was following a categorical imperative issued by practical reason, lie is quite happy with the situation. In this way, without taking into account the result, Kant is only concerned with the motivation. This happened because I(ant separated pure reason from practical reason, or knowledge from practice. In fact, however, pure reason and practical reason are not separate things. Reason is one entity, and we are such that we act while taking into account the results of our action, according to one and the same reason.

In Kant's moral law, there are problems: what is the standard with which subjective maxims are to be universalized, and in what way does such universalization become possible? Kant said that, if people became perfectly moral, happiness will be realized; on the other hand, since the act aiming at happiness is a hypothetical one, it cannot be regarded as good, he argued. Though he knew that we seek happiness, he said that we should not aim at happiness. In this context, lie postulated God, and affirmed that, if we practice good perfectly, we will necessarily be happy.

The problem in Kant's view was that he did not know about God's purpose of creation. For him, all purposes were self-loving and selfish. From the perspective of Unification Thought, however, human beings have a dual purpose, namely, the purpose for the whole and the purpose for the individual, and originally they were to pursue the purpose for the individual while placing priority on the purpose for the whole. In contrast, what Kant referred to as .purpose" was nothing but the purpose for the individual. As a result, he denigrated every kind of purpose, and his moral law came to be a law without a standard.

Furthermore, Kant asserted that, in order for moral law to be established, the immortality of the soul and the existence of God must be postulated. In Critique of Pure Reason, Kant excluded God and the soul saying that it is impossible to cognize them since they lack any kind of sensory content. Here, also, there is a difficulty in Kant's philosophy. He postulated God, but his postulated God is only a hypothetical god, which amounts to saying that one cannot ever encounter the true God. In the end, the state of supreme good to which lie refers became hypothetical as well.

Kant attempted to establish the standard of goodness of his moral law based only on duty, which is given by practical reason. It was merely a cold world of duty, or a world of regulations. Seen from the Unification Thought point of view, duty and norms are not the end for which human life exists; they are the means for actualizing true love.

B. Bentham

1. Bentham's View of Ethics

Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) started from the following premise: "Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do." 5 Thus lie advocated the "principle of utility," according to which, pleasure and pain are the standards of good and evil.

Bentham calculated pleasure and pain quantitatively, regarding as good any act that brought the greatest pleasure, thus advocating "the greatest happiness of the greatest number" as the principle of his moral philosophy. As to what brings pleasure or pain to people, he said that "there are four distinguishable sources: ... the physical, the political, the moral, and the religious." 6 Among them, he regarded the physical source as the most fundamental one, for only physical pleasure and pain can be calculated objectively. He considered it desirable for as many people as possible to obtain portions of material wealth in an equitable manner.

Contrary to Kant, who argued that pure goodness is not determined by purpose or material interests, Bentham asserted that human conduct can be considered good only when it realizes the greatest happiness for people. Thus, he argued that material happiness must be pursued directly. The background for Bentham's thought was the Industrial Revolution of England.

Bentham's philosophy influenced many thinkers; one of them was Robert Owen (1771-1858), a socialist reformer. Owen incorporated into his own thought Bentham's of "the greatest happiness of the greatest number." Based on that, and with the influence of the French Enlightenment and materialist philosophy, Owen promoted a movement for social reform. He considered that, since people are products of the environment, if the environment is improved, people will be improved as well, and a happy society will be realized. In order to actualize that ideal, Owen moved to the United States and constructed the New Harmony society of cooperatives in Indiana. That effort, however, ended in failure due to internal divisions among co-workers.

Utilitarians, influenced by this socialist movement, engaged in activities for social reform. They promoted movements for the reform of electoral laws, the reform of laws concerning the poor, the simplification of legal proceedings, the abolition of crop regulations, the liberation of slaves in colonies, the expansion of suffrage, the reform of living conditions of working people, and so on, and contributed a great deal toward their solution of the contradictions of capitalist society.

2. A Unification Thought Appraisal of Bentham's View of Ethics

Differently from Kant, who advocated goodness as duty, Bentham asserted that a good act leads to happiness. In that respect, Bentham's view is in agreement with Unification Thought. The problem, however, is that Bentham understood happiness as centered on material pleasure; according to Unification Thought, true happiness for humans cannot be obtained through material pleasure alone. In advanced countries today, many people have come to enjoy material prosperity; yet, social disorder and the loss of human nature are quite evident in those countries. This shows that utilitarianism is not an effective way to achieve true happiness.

From the Unification Thought viewpoint, Bentham's thought was proposed for the sake of restoring the social environment. In order to realize the ideal society, human beings have to be restored; at the same time, a suitable environment must be prepared. So, from the providential viewpoint, it can be said that philosophies such as Bentham's utilitarianism, together with the social movements spawned from them, were necessary at a certain period of providential history.

Kant, in contrast to Bentham, can be said to have advocated a philosophy for the sake of restoring human beings. Yet, as pointed out before, Kant's thought was insufficient and fell short of realizing the happiness of humankind. Communism, which appeared later, was, like utilitarianism, a thought for the sake of the restoring the environment. But, Communism went in the wrong direction, namely, violent revolution. As a result, far from realizing a happy society, Communism has created a more miserable society. True human happiness is possible only when a standard of goodness is established that can present unified, harmonious solutions for both the spiritual aspects and the material aspects of human nature.

C. Analytic Philosophy

1. Analytic Philosophy's Perspective on Ethics

According to analytic philosophy, the task of philosophy is not to establish any specific world view, but rather to make philosophy a scientific discipline by engaging in the logical analysis of language. The Cambridge Analytic School, with such scholars as George E. Moore (1873-1958), Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), and Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951); the Vienna School or Logical Positivism, with such scholars as M. Schlick (1882-1936), Rudolph Carnap (1891-1971) and Alfred J. Ayer (1910-1971); and the Ordinary Language School of Britain-all of these together are referred to as schools of analytic philosophy. Among the representative ethical theories of analytic philosophy, we can include "intuitionalism" of Moore and "emotive theory" of Schlick and Ayer.

According to Moore, goodness cannot be defined. he said, 'Good' is a simple notion, just as 'yellow' is a simple notion; just as you cannot, by any manner or means, explain to any one who does not already know it, what yellow is, so you cannot explain what good is." 7 Moore said further, "If I am asked 'What is good?' my answer is that good is good, and that is the end of the matter." He stated that good cannot be grasped but by intuition. Value judgments are entirely independent from factual judgments, he argued.

According to Sclilick and Ayer, goodness is no more than a word expressing a subjective feeling and a quasi-idea that cannot be verified objectively. Accordingly, an ethical proposition such as, "It is bad to steal money," is nothing but the speaker's expression of a feeling of moral disapproval and cannot be regarded as either true or false.

2. A Unification Thought Appraisal of Analytic Philosophy's View of Ethics

First, the characteristic feature of analytic philosophy's view of ethics is its separation of factual judgment and value judgment. From the viewpoint of Unification Thought, however, factual judgment and value judgment are both objective, and they can be seen as two sides of a coin. Yet, since a factual judgment is a judgment concerning phenomena that can be recognized by anyone, it is characterized by an objectivity that can be easily grasped. In contrast, a value judgment is advocated by a limited number of religious people or philosophers, and is not necessarily understood by everyone-which gives the impression that a value judgment is purely subjective. If the spiritual level of humankind were enhanced and the law of value working in the entire universe came to be understood clearly by all people, then value propositions, also, would come to be recognized as universally true.

Natural science has been dealing only with factual judgment, and has been pursuing cause-and-effect relations in things. Today, however, science has reached the point where it is no longer possible to thoroughly understand natural phenomena solely through the pursuit of cause-and-effect relations. Scientists are now seeking the meaning of, or reason for, natural phenomena. This means that scientists have come to need value judgment in addition to factual judgment. It is the view of Unification Thought that fact and value, or science and ethics, must be approached as one united theme.

Second, another characteristic feature of proponents of analytic philosophy is that they have regarded goodness as something undefinable, or a quasi-idea. From the Unification Thought perspective, however, goodness can be clearly defined. In a nutshell, humans have the clear purpose of realizing God's love through the family four-position base; thus a behavior in agreement with this purpose is good. Since a good behavior is realized in actual life, value and fact cannot be separated.

D. Pragmatism

1. The Pragmatistic Perspective on Ethics

Pragmatism and analytical philosophy stand on the same basis, in that both exclude metaphysics and attach importance to empirical scientific knowledge. Pragmatism, which was advocated by Charles S. Pierce (1839-1914), was popularized by William James (1842-1910).

According to James, "what works" is true. Suppose, for example, that someone comes to your home and knocks on the door, and you assume it must be your friend John. When you open the door and find that indeed it is John, only then can your thought be called true. In other words, knowledge verified through action is true knowledge. This means that the truth of an idea is determined by whether or not it has "working value." James said, "The truth of an idea is not a stagnant property inherent in it ... It becomes true, is made true by events. Its verity is in fact an event, a process: die process, namely, of its verifying itself, its verification. Its validity is the process of its validation." 9

This criterion of truth, also served as the criterion of value and the criterion of goodness. Thus, an ethical proposition is not something to be theoretically proven, but is regarded as true, and the proposed action as good, only as the action provides some satisfaction or peace to the mind. Therefore, goodness is considered not something absolute or unchangeable, but rather something that is altered and improved upon, day by day, through the experience of humankind as a whole.

The philosopher who perfected pragmatism was John Dewey (1859-1952). Dewey advocated the theory of instrumentalism, saying that the intellect is something that works instrumentally toward future experiences, or a means for processing problems effectively. Contrary to James, who admitted religious truth, Dewey dealt only with everyday life, excluding any metaphysical thought.

Dewey's way of thinking derives from a view of humans as living beings, or organic beings. A living being is in constant mutual relationship with its environment; when a living being falls into an unstable condition, it seeks to free itself from that condition and to return to a stable state. It is intelligence, according to Dewey, that is the instrument effective for this. Good conduct is that which, based on intelligence, is effective toward creating an affluent society and a happy society.

For Dewey, scientific judgment and value judgment were regarded to be of the same quality. He considered that a good society would surely come if people were to act rationally by using their intelligence. There was no schism between fact and value there. For him, goodness is something to be realized step by step through increase of knowledge, responding to the requirements of life and bringing about the satisfaction of desires. Thus, Dewey denied the existence of any such ultimate goodness as could be recognized all at once. The concept of goodness, too, was nothing but an instrument, or a means, to cope with problems effectively. He said, "A moral principle, then, is not a command to act or forbear acting in a given way: it is a tool for analyzing a special situation, the right or wrong being determined by the situation in its entirely, and not by the rule as such." 10

2. A Unification Thought Appraisal of the Pragmatistic Perspective on Ethics

James considered "what works," or what is useful, as true and valuable. This means that lie subordinated knowledge and values to everyday life. From the perspective of Unification Thought, however, it would be a reversal of the original way of thinking if we were to subordinate knowledge and values to the everyday life of food, clothing, and shelter. The everyday life of food, clothing, and shelter should be based on the values of trueness, goodness, and beauty; and the values of trueness, goodness, and beauty should be based on the purpose of creation. The purpose of creation is to actualize true love (God's love). Therefore, an act in accord with the purpose of creation is good. An act that is useful to life is not necessarily good. Of course, if an act that is useful to life is also in accordance with the purpose of creation, it becomes good. James based truth and goodness on usefulness for life; instead, however, lie should have looked for the purpose for which life exists and the purpose for which people live.

According to Dewey, intelligence, including the notion of goodness, is an instrument. Yet, is the theory that the intelligence is an instrument correct? From the perspective of Unification Thought, Logos (or a thought) is formed through the inner Sungsang and inner Hyungsang engaging in give-and-receive action centering on the purpose set by Heart (love). The inner Sungsang includes the faculties of intellect, emotion, and will, and the inner Hyungsang refers to ideas, concepts, laws, and mathematical principles. Since the inner Sungsang and the inner Hyungsang are in the relationship of subject and object, die inner Hyungsang may be regarded as an instrument of the inner Sungsang. On the other hand, the faculties of intellect, emotion, and will, which constitute the inner Sungsang, can be regarded as instruments of heart for the realization of love.

Dewey, however, said that intellect and concepts are instruments for social reform. Dewey's instrumental theory is not wrong if intellect and concepts are held to be centered on God's purpose of creation. But, as long as their aim is held to be the attainment of affluence in everyday life, it is not the right view. For among concepts, there are some that may be the purpose of life but cannot become the means for life. The concept of goodness is not a means for life; rather it is the purpose of life.

Dewey also considered that, if science develops in the direction of improving society, it will be in perfect accord with values. The progress of science, however, does not necessarily correspond with values. Only when science aligns itself with the realization of the purpose of creation-that is, the realization of God's love will fact and value come to be unified.

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