Ability to Reason and to experience Emotion are the two causally related attributes of a man’s consciousness. The nature of his emotion being entirely dependent on the precision of his reason: A man’s emotions are the responses of his consciousness to his evaluations on any aspect of reality, judged against his value choices.
Man evaluates the facts of reality according to his value choices. When he identifies that a particular course of action is against what he chose to value, it is impossible for him to feel happy about it. Emotional mechanism can only work though evaluation of events according to their effect over a man’s chosen purpose and its significance to his hierarchy of values. However, what set of essential values he chooses to hold: his moral code and why he chooses so, are matters that are open to his volition, hence are within the province of his reason.
Life is a continuous process of self generated and self sustaining action by any living being. A being that cannot identify and achieve its values: objective requirements of its life, cannot live: in which case there is no question of valuing anything. It is the concept life makes the concept value possible. This makes a living being’s life its objectively ultimate value. While plants and other conscious animals have no choice in the matter but to pursue actions to achieve values that further their life, it is man’s consciousness that is volitional in nature. The highest of living beings can choose to act as a suicidal animal. It is because man can choose to act for his own detriment, he needs such a science called Ethics, to help him discover the value choices that are proper for his survival qua man.
If a man chooses to uphold his life as his ultimate value, he will discover that Reason: his ability to identify and integrate the facts of reality, is his primary means to fulfil it, hence his primary value. His consistent moral code will follow. He will value truth, and the competence of his mind to arrive at it. He will value his productivity and chooses to indulge in purposeful actions and as a consequence, is bound to experience happiness: indication of his successful course of life. That a man’s moral code ought to be chosen with fulfilment of his own life as his end value, and the achievement of his own happiness as its purpose, is the principle of individualism: Every man is an end in himself. He should never voluntarily choose to be a slave: commanded to be the means to the ends of others.
When men associate on the principle of individualism, they will discover the concept of individual rights: Liberty to action and free association in a social setting. Trading of value for an equivalent value as judged by the men involved in the trade will be the only proper relation amongst men in such a society. Political consequence of the principle is Laissez Faire Capitalism.
Observe that mutual contempt is the form of association in societies that function on the principle of altruism: That the justification for a man’s survival is the selfless service to his fellow men. That the primary purpose to be chosen by a man is the collective good, the means of achieving which is the sacrifice of his own. By such standard, sacrifice of his values is the measure of judging a man’s virtue, not his ability to achieve them. Contribution to the unearned is to be respected, not compensation to the earned. Concept of individual rights is either alien to such societies, or it exists in a corrupted form: such as a man’s unquestioned right to claim the productive efforts of others. Such societies function through systematising slavery of everyone to everyone, until they eventually collapse.
– Avinash Kumar.
(Also refer to my article: The bridge between metaphysics and ethics, wherein I explained the causal dependance of the nature of emotions on a man’s ability to reason.)