Home > Decent Democracy > Vol 3: On Decisions > Effort


Though one may have an idea of what is good or even a sophisticated ethical theory, to come to such thoughts in the first place requires effort and an act of will, and thus is already an expression of one’s ethic. So, though we may discuss our ethical point of view, our true ethic precedes all discussion and argumentation. For, without the choice of what to think, there could be no choice of what to do, and thus our fundamental choices precede even our thoughts. Thus what we think about our thoughts, and what those thoughts may say about what we find is good, is in fact a result of our choices of what to think about to begin with, what the philosophers call will, and whether we actually muster the courage to do what we will we may call our effort.

And since our will is with us and expresses our ethic even before we think about one subject or another, and certainly before we engage in argument, we can never be convinced to change our ethic in any fundamental way. For, it takes a fundamental will to even hear someone out, and much more to consider what they say and put one’s own opinions into doubt and compare the two. This process that must take place even before I understand what you say cannot happen without my own active effort, my willing to understand, my ethic that is expressed through my consideration of your words.

And so, it is useless for me for instance to try to convince someone that life has value who is fundamentally set at disregarding or even destroying life. All I can do is address myself to those who already value life and attempt through our common search for how best to value it.

Hence, it is completely irrelevant to speak of fundamental ethics, and only relevant to speak of what we should do who already share the same or compatible fundamental ethic, except insofar as we speak of fundamental ethics to establish that we should not engage in an unending quest to convince those with a fundamentally opposed will to change their effort (for this is impossible, through our discourse at least), but rather we should pass directly to action. Our action may include our discussing further actions as well as what best way to take into account those with a fundamentally opposed actions.

For this reason, this book is an attempt to discuss and advance the understanding of what we should do to preserve life, and not a justification of why we should try to think about it in the first place.


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