So, we’ve covered Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics, Mill’s Utilitarianism, and Kant’s Deontology. All of these ethical systems seemed pretty viable—Aristotle emphasized the importance of habituating a temperate character and utilizing phronesis to find the golden mean between a universal law and a particular circumstance, largely through politics and familial means; Mill endorsed consequential and empirical eudaemonism, stating that everything we do is a mean to the sole end of happiness, thus we must maximize happiness in our every interaction; and Kant introduced his absolutist, rationalistic, deontological system, which elevated the categorical imperative as the ethical, stating we must only act in such a way that we would will others to act, and that we must always treat people as ends in themselves.
There is something beautiful about Immanuel Kant’s book The Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals. Stylistically, it is dry and, by all accounts, it is over-complicated. But it has moments of clarity in which Kant’s moral edifice, his deontological ethics, loses its murk and becomes crystal clear, moments where his heavy and knotted penmanship adopts a light and untangled character that just gets to the point. We all know those “aha!” moments, those times when everything clicks into place and we feel as if we truly understand something. In Groundworks, I had four of those moments, each concerning a different foundational feature of Kant’s ethical theory. Through these four features, we can understand the essence of his argument.
The ideas within Jung’s The Undiscovered Self are discomforting, dealing with the illusory nature of knowing ourselves, others, and our society. This is the case with much of philosophy–and that is precisely what this is: philosophy. Regardless of Jung’s credentials as a merited psychologist, by no means does this essay explore theories empirically or statistically. It’s really up to the reader to decide its worth. Jung argues it ought to be that way, claiming statistics and averages only mislead (see below). Continue reading The Undiscovered Self – A Book Summary