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A case for an objective humanity

<uld argue that it can be demonstrated objectively that there are such things as a) universal constituents of human nature, and b) universal rule concerning the ways in which these interact with one another; this is essentially to say that there is a singular internal world or reality which we all experience or a singular consciousness of which we are all instantiations. We are capable of discovering these things through observation and reflection upon this internal world in the same way that we are capable of discovering the laws of the external, physical world through observation of, and reflection upon, it. To say that perhaps the constituents and the laws of this internal world vary from person to person is akin to saying that perhaps the constituents and the laws of the external physical world vary in such a way (e.g. perhaps this is a person in our world for whom gravity, magnetism, and atoms don’t exist); we know that this could never be the case.

Important here to note is that there is a difference between the reality we experience and our perception of that reality; though our perceptions of these worlds may vary, the worlds themselves, the objects of our perception, do not. It follows from this that there are more and less accurate ways of perceiving or understanding these worlds, and that the accuracy of such conception can be objectively demonstrated.
An example of two constituents of human nature could be opinion and feeling. Opinion is belief as to what should be done in a given situation. Feeling is what you feel like doing. For example, it may be my opinion that I should go to my younger sister’s piano recital, but I may feel like going out with my friends instead. One could argue, (and again this is an example), that these two separate phenomena are constituents of every human’s existence. Following from this, an example of a universal law could be that, when opinion and feeling are in accordance with one another, human beings will never act contrary to them.

Note that such understanding of the self is not value laden in the same way that an understanding of virtue, or the good would be. This outlining or diagramming of the self serves only the purpose of helping us to understand how we work. For me, this is a valuable thing for us to work towards collectively insofar as a clearer and more dynamic understanding of self would allow us to see more lucidly in our consideration of human questions.

The reality of the internal world has constantly been regarded as a subjective phenomenon because people, in their discussion of it, reduce human phenomena to something simpler than it really is by conflating all the constituents of the self into one thing. The following is an example of such conflation (though with respect to a circumstance rather than the self): a utilitarian says that, because killing a mercenary who is about to launch a nuke on some city is the right thing to do, it cannot be said that killing is always wrong. This utilitarian has conflated the saving of millions of lives, and the taking of one, into a single thing, when in reality they are two things, and we can conceptualize the two as separate from one another even though they are both results of a single act. This no more disproves that killing is wrong than a dropping a piece of paper disproves that the force of gravity on earth in 9.8 m/s2.

The above is by way of saying that even if this internal world appears to have no such universal constituents and laws in the same way the external world does, this is not, in fact, the case; we just have to look at it more closely. The significance of this is that I think that we can, as a race, collectively work towards a universal understanding of the internal world (i.e. the self) that is both verifiable and objective. The idea is that, with such an understanding, we could match our mastery and control over the internal world (i.e. our inclinations, habits, and feelings) with our mastery over the external world (e.g. our ability to build rocket ships and nuclear weapons). This would then serve to improve the quality of our lives in a more meaningful way than other sorts of knowledge could; the sector of society that would work towards such knowledge would be institutions of higher education (specifically the humanities departments within them).
This is all, of course, just an idea of mine; I offer no proof of it nor claim to have any. Its validity is left for the reader to decide.

-Peter Berg is a third-year student

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