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Christian Sorensen on Ethics and Human Nature

2023-01-04

Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2020/08/10

Christian is a Philosopher that comes from Belgium. What identifies him the most and above all is simplicity, for everything is better with “vanilla flavour.” Perhaps, for this reason, his intellectual passion is criticism and irony, in the sense of trying to reveal what “hides behind the mask,” and give birth to the true. For him, ignorance and knowledge never “cross paths.” What he likes the most in his leisure time, is to go for a walk with his wife.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So, we have introduced some new concepts with Critical Humanism and Phenomenological-Existentialist Humanism. As you have noted, Humanism in some form will be necessary moving into the future for some of the world in regards to establishing some moral and ethical minimal standards. Most humanists highly respect human rights. Although, they may differentially apply the ethical standards. If a generous interpretation, then it may become an interpretation of the rights grounded in the misconception of some human rights trumping others. Not true, in theory, they balance one with the other rather than one taking over and nullifying another. Here’s the theme for this session, the secular human rights ethics of the present, the transcendentalist religious ethics of the past, and the existentialist-phenomenological critical humanist ethics of the future. Imagine oneself listening to “Der Ring des Nibelungen.” What defines secular human rights ethics of the present?

Christian Sorensen: It is a positivist ethics, since it focuses on the positum and therefore in behavior as a fact in itself, but not on what may subjectively underlie it, because is the former what’s ultimately empirically verifiable when it’s ethically evaluable.

Jacobsen: What defines transcendentalist religious ethics of the past?

Sorensen: It is defined by a theological normativism, in which it is intended, that the conduct that is ethically prosecutable, by basing on the notions of sin and punishment, conforms to a moral law of divine nature that orders it, therefore as such, has a relative moral value, since it is circumscribed to a particular religious context, and in consequence it is limited and not universally extensible.

Jacobsen: As a proposition or a proposal here today, what would be the existentialist-phenomenological critical humanist ethics of the future?

Sorensen: It would be an anominalist ethics, that since as such would not be nameable, neither could it be significable or definable, and therefore it cannot become norm or law of any moral conduct. The axioms that sustain this future ethics are three respectively, the fact of considering man exclusively as an end and never as a means, in consequence ethically speaking, the end could justify the means depending on the circumstances, to assess behavior as ethically good, if its praxis as a condition provided is universally sustainable, and the moral duty of always treating others with equal proportionality and in the same manner as they do.

Jacobsen: What would be the primary and secondary distinctions between the transcendentalist religious ethics of the past, secular human rights ethics of the present, and the existentialist-phenomenological critical humanist ethics of the future?

Sorensen: Its indefinable unspecificity, and the fact that the claim of the good towards others, it’s always secundum quid regarding the consequences, and therefore even though the right to good is inalienable, this is never an unconditional right.

Jacobsen: Even with the consideration of the transcendentalist religious ethics of the past, these were asserted as complete ethics forever and always into eternity. They were wrong. Secular human rights ethics of the present are asserted as partial, incomplete, though universal. Probably right in the partiality while wrong in the universality of the stipulations, the existentialist-phenomenological critical humanist ethics of the future seems more working to round out and complete some of the human rights ethics at present, while better approximating the totality aims of the transcendentalist religious ethics of the past. How would the existentialist-phenomenological critical humanist ethics of the future better approximate truly universal ethics grounded in the most accurate image of human nature?

Sorensen: For the same reason why the transcendentalist religious ethics, was asserted as complete ethics forever and always into eternity, since if its origin would have to have been divine, and this is so, it could not have been otherwise, because God cannot make mistakes or do something perishable, due to the fact that if it were so, then that would not be God. Likewise, the human being is also as God in a certain way, because its essence although evolves, it could be affirmed logically that human nature is completed and made for eternity, due to the fact that if any of their defining qualities are no longer existing, then as such would instantly cease to be what it is. Therefore it could be said, that future ethics unlike the previous two, is existentially speaking, an essentialist ethics, since due to the fact that it is born from the heart of each man, it is in consequence arises from the heart of man as such. At the same time, does so in its most pure state, because there’s no mediator, and for that reason it could be thought additionally as legitimately true. In other words, it is not a question of adequacy between being and the duty to be, as it has been so far, because the norm would not be subjectively external to man, neither in a human nor divine sense, but as something immanently unspecific to behavior, since would be the action itself the one that emanates the ethical value as such and as a categorical imperative that commands.

Jacobsen: Mr. S, thanks!

Sorensen: With my duty I fulfilled.

License

In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at www.in-sightpublishing.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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