home/entries/2024-06-11 "John Locke 01"

2024-06-11 "John Locke 01": "Moral Intuition" 04:56 UTC

Hey guys. Today I wanted to talk about this essay competition I signed up for: the John Locke Institute's 2024 Essay Competition. My college counselor put me onto it, and I'm pretty excited. I meant to get started earlier, what can I say? Oops. There are tons of questions to choose from, but the one I want write about right now is the first of the philosophy prompts: "Q1. Do we have any good reasons to trust our moral intuition?". This one interests me in particular because I want to break down and analyze my conception of morality and also because I have so much to say on the notion of intuition. I think my personal approach & perspective on the human psyche just ties morality and intuition together in a particularly poignant way, and I'm excited to share that. Hopefully I can do that somewhat effectively?? I've never been a good essay writer, but nothing says I have to stick to the script. So I guess this'll be pretty experimental. I think I'll definitely start by just doing some brain-dumps, trying to see how well my ideas translate to word. Here's a little dump I did earlier:

Do we have any reason to trust our moral intuition? This question to me asks how closely aligned with the reality of human life, culture, and biology, the concept of morality is. I think this because intuition is instinct, is emotion, is culture, is society; And how effective *is* morality if simply a cultural constuction of emotional-social guidelines by which to live by in the pursuit of fulfillment and happiness, at providing and maintaing social prosperity. Of course morality is not inherently constructed to aid the indivvidual, but instead sometimes the perpetuation of an institution. So "reason to trust" really depends on the constructed aims of a certain moral sect. This is where i think the deconstruction of the human-biological foundation of morality is helpful. Intuition... what is moral intuition? When i think of moral intuition i start to think of specific examples, but mostly think of disgust, and its existence as moral intuition. I think intuition is just instinct, an emotional reaction. Disgust is so weaponized as moral intuition, as a biological, in-built, natural reaction to an unnatural, bad, evil, dangerous thing. And we have to agknowledge that these emotional reactions are learned, and that they are largely culturally curated, off the foundation of basic human "nature". Basic human "nature", what exactly are those base human structures that morality is built upon? What does morality claim to do for us? And how well does it successfully acheive those things for us? I of course think of it in terms of the pursuit of joy and the avoidance of pain. We search for equilibrium, balance, stability, and that is joy. We are motivated chiefly by fear and perpetuation. Perpetuation is stability, and we only have two motivators, positive feedback (do this more, joy, good) and negative (do this less, pain/fear, bad). And those are the foundations upon which morality is built.

Of course this is still just conjecture, I know it's really middling. Either way!! I've honestly spent the whole day on bandcamp. Which was an accident. I meant to do research on morality, read up on the published theory. My friend put me onto John Locke, Thomas Nagel, and John Stewart Mills. I think maybe I'll keep a record of my research here? Everybody knows how I feel about record-keeping. Actually, I think I'll start with a basic search for "morality" in the stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. Well, a quick search reveals—unsuprisingly—many entries. "The Definition of Morality", "Morality and Evolutionary Biology", and "Religion and Morality" as the first three, respectively. I'll start with the first one, but I do definitely want to visit the second, and maybe the third.

Well the entry starts of by defining the scope of the article: It is not about moral theory, rather the definition of the word morality itself. I really should read up on the major moral theories out there, but I am very interested in this article, and I think it's rather important. I can't begin to answer a question about morality without first defining morality itself, can I? I like how this entry describes itself: "The question of the definition of morality is the question of identifying the target of moral theorizing". Wonderful... absolutely thrilling. I'm so serious too. I think this article will be of /much/ use, particularly because a large part of my essay, I think, will be trying to define morality so to be able to apply my analysis of intuition. Oh I forgot to mention that I'll also definitely be doing research into ethical theory. Anyways. If I don't read this straight-through I'll spend forever doting on each and every word, so I might as well push through the first time and come back around for highlights I'm ending up having to listen to the article, which isn't uncommon for SEP entries—they're heavy and long-winded, very thorough. I think I'll just come back tomorrow to give updates, and focus on getting through this first. Long article, but they all are.

"Roll The Bones" by Shakey Graves on Bandcamp