Friday, October 05, 2018

Aristotle and Darwin tell you how to live

Few things have frustrated me more than the modern philosophical view that there is a gulf between facts and values. While hypotheses can be tested against the empirical world and rejected if not supported, there is no similar way to test claims about right and wrong. Morality only exists in our imaginations, we're told. I don't know about you, but that is completely unsatisfactory.

Only one man has offered a way out of this mess: Aristotle. According to him, your design dictates your morality. A knife is a good knife if it does well what it is intended to do -- cut stuff.

Aristotle used this approach to develop an ethics for man, which was further refined by Thomas Aquinas centuries later. But neither man, of course, knew the works of another genius, Charles Darwin, who figured out natural selection centuries later.

What is man's design, according to Darwin? Simple -- to propagate. To turn the world into copies of yourself.

It just so happens that this is roughly what Aristotle and Aquinas argued.

Three geniuses from three very different eras agree more or less about what you are.  So what is right for you?  To go forth and propagate.

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