Reclaiming the ‘science’ in Moral Science
In addition to the immediate forces that impact us in our lives as social beings, making us ‘do as the others do’ or ‘to not do as others do’, as the case may be, cognitive scientists would tell us of a myriad other ways in which our mind operates, juggling a multitude alternatives at a pace that can only be described as ‘mind boggling’!
As a layperson, it appears to me that a lot of what happens in the mind is directly or indirectly influenced by that which is imagined. What we see as realities take off from past or present impressions, imbibed or imposed. They include understandings from experience and beliefs based on reflection. These ‘knowns’, tend to decide what needs to be done now, with an intent to impact the future – which stretches from the next immediate moment to infinity. The whole process of being and becoming, therefore, is circumscribed a great deal by the imagined realities of what was and what could be.
This dependence on the imagination is no doubt both necessary and inevitable, as life and living may otherwise come to a halt. However, in studying individual nature, which is the object or our science of morals, it is important to remember that ‘Knowing’ may often be rooted in belief born of imagined realities based on true life experience, albeit individual, – of what is seen, heard, read, reflected upon et al. When it comes to the question of what ought to be done at a particular point in time, these imagined realities are likely to play a very crucial part in determining the decision. Further, when we are not the actor ourselves, but observers or commentators of the acts of others, the imagination tries to concoct the provocations that may underlie the acts of those who are the objects of our inquiry, and the consequences that may entail because of their acts. However, that which is imagined may not be the case. It is therefore important to keep in mind that determinants of individual nature are impacted by apparent certainties that may not be really real. Grasping the nuances and complexities of morality, therefore, is an involved process that makes the study of what ought to be done a complex and fascinating science.
[To be continued]