In the philosophical wasteland Nietzsche left behind there is hope. I am going to shake the foundations of philosophy and argue that happiness and satisfaction are biochemical rewards for good behavior. Good behavior is behavior that is vital to survival. Behavior like teamwork, social gatherings, democracy and hard work.
The man who painted us a Godless world where the individual rises above his or her context cannot be said to have offered simple families much hope. Today scholars still read Nietzsche and cite him in the study of existentialim, postmodernism and post structuralism.
The liberal left is largely atheist or agnostic and the idea of a God is greeted with hostility over all the wars God has presumably presided over or allowed to happen. Hostility at the prospect of being proselytized to by evangelicals. But without the idea of God, liberal elites lose all the cooperation and participation of common families, who it is our duty to lead.
So what if liberals see no evidence of God. The idea of God is something that has to be in philosophy in order for philosophy to be practical. Nietzsche and his acolytes leave common families feeling useless and purposeless if they attempt to live by his philosophy.
I can change that. There has to be the idea of a God to make this philosophy palatable to common families. Once a God figure is accepted it helps explain that feeling that we have that we are always being watched. In truth we are never alone even when we think we are. Our actions spill out into the group through our memory. Everything that is done in secret has an effect on behavior in public.
How do we codify good behavior? The Jews came up with commandments. There are the obvious commandments like "thou shalt not kill." But the Jewish religion had 613 commandments. Jewish children memorized behavior that was good for social unity which is good for survival, which means in the long run it produces biochemicals that are associated with happiness and satisfaction.
- Advertisement -
Conversely when we live our lives with secrets that we regret we are punished with shame and guilt. This is why psychopaths lie. Even the psychopath has a moral conscience and when he or she transgresses and commits theft or has sexual interactions in secret he or she has to lie to present it to the whole community. This is not good for survival and it is not good for unity, which survival depends on.
Commandments are like road signs for vehicles. We don't arrive in the world with an instruction manual but we can learn from past experience what behaviors are good and what behaviors are, essentially, evil or in other words: bad for the group.
I argue that right now we are like 300 million vehicles all traveling into each other and crashing because we have no moral road map, like the Jews have. We don't have to use their commandments to draw up this moral road map. For example we don't have to command that we put tzitzit on the corners of clothing (Num 15:38) But we can command that if you're going to have a sexual interaction, make sure it is one that you are okay with the whole tribe knowing about.
We can command that you know your neighbors at the dinner table. We can command that you never drink too much alcohol. We can command that you never steal; never lie. That you do unto others as you would have done to yourself. We can command that you never cheat on your partner. And we can come up with a list of these road signs and teach them in school. Share a meal every Sunday. We can be creative and really foster cooperative behavior.
The problem with Godless philosophers is that they believe our one single life is an experiment. That we can afford to experiment with our behaviors in the name of individualism and solitary pursuit. But we are not safe in solitary pursuit even if the illusion of individualism works because of capitalism. Furthermore we cannot afford to experiment with our lives. The side effects of experimentation can be mental illness, including depression, ostracism, fights and decreased likelihood of survival.
We want what is good for ourselves. Happiness and satisfaction and survival are hand in hand. We were selected by nature to have strong moral consciences. We were selected by nature to do the small polite, tedious, simple and loving things in the name of a higher power, even if it turns out that that higher power is simply the virtue of survival.
Philosophers need to think of the simple people with high school educations and families and bills. To get through some of the challenges that modern families face it takes belief in a higher power. It is our duty on the left to ensure that we define what a higher power is. If we leave it up to some of the clowns on the right wing God will continue to divide and terrorize. God can be as simple as love. But the left wing needs to embrace it and teach it knowing that truly happiness and satisfaction are biochemical rewards that our bodies produce for behavior that is good for survival. It's long term versus short term rewards.
(Article changed on October 21, 2014 at 08:50)
Dean Powers lives in Castleton, VT. He has apprenticed at several newspapers including The Nation. He currently writes for OpEdNews. He can be found at facebook.com/deanppowers.