Sociology in the BPS Model Of Consciousness
"The explosive transition from the Scylla of oppressive forms of Eastern-style fascism to the Charybdis of Western style global multinational interest-group power politics, was more than the invading 'liberators' had bargained for!"
In the bio-psycho-social (BPS) Model of Consciousness both genetics and environmental endowments enter into the equation for human social survival as determinants and predictors of the success or failure of self-rule that leads to political independence. The micro social-economic background at home, school and neighborhood must provide a climate encouraging the guided but independent deliberation that is conducive to the authentic selection of choices so useful in detecting manipulation by others (including by well intentioned cues from parents and teachers). The capacity to rule one self precedes the capacity to rule others. But the rationality of individual moral behavior that precedes a successful social conviviality is NOT to be understood as a planned search for a reason to act morally or that moral behavior hinges on a rational proof sustaining past acts. Instead, that moral principle is a principle of rationality because, as creatures with rational wills, we possess autonomy to be practical in finding the right reason preceding the act.
Beyond individual principles moral philosophy should also characterize and explain the demands morality makes on human psychology and forms of human social interaction. Even political and religious acts require, indirectly at least, conforming to logically derived ethical parameters generating social obligations. The individual is at center stage because autonomy refers to one's own personal ability to live one's life according to reasons and motives that are taken as one's own and not the product of manipulative or distorting external forces. When the concept gets extended to include the broad exercise of that freedom in the political and legal arena new issues spring up that need explanations as will be shown briefly below.
Kant argued that moral requirements are based on a standard of rationality he dubbed the ‘Categorical Imperative’ (CI). Immorality thus involves a violation of the CI and, for an otherwise normal person, is thereby considered an irrational act. Other philosophers, such as Locke and Hobbes, had also argued that moral requirements are based on standards of rationality. However, these standards were either desire-based instrumental principles of rationality or based on ‘sui generis’ rational intuitions. Kant agreed with many of his predecessors that an analysis of rationality will reveal only a requirement to conform to instrumental principles. Yet he argued that conformity to the CI (a non-instrumental principle), and hence to moral requirements in themselves, can nevertheless be shown to be essential to rational agency. This argument was based on his complex doctrine that a rational will must be regarded as autonomous, or free in the sense of being the author of the law that binds it. The fundamental principle of morality — the CI — is none other than this law of an autonomous will. Thus, at the heart of Kant's moral philosophy is a conception of reason whose reach in practical affairs goes well beyond the incidental use of moral principles. Moreover, it is the presence of this self-governing reason in each person that Kant thought offered decisive grounds for viewing each as possessed of equal worth and deserving of equal respect.
The complexity of the analysis resides in the transition from the pure rational to the empirical. The first point is that Kant conceives of ethics as initially requiring a logical analysis of our moral concepts to understand them within the concept of ‘good will’. ‘obligation’, ‘duty’ and so on, as well as their logical relationships of these elements to one another, before we can determine whether our use of these concepts is justified. Given that the analysis of concepts is an ‘a priori’ matter (i.e., derivable by inducto-deductive analysis, not based on empirical observations), to the degree that ethics consists of such an analysis, ethics is ‘a priori’ as well. Since an empirical observation cannot establish the necessary conformity of rational wills to the categorical imperative, Kant regards the claim that they do conform as an example of an ‘a priori synthetic’ claim, i.e., an ‘a priori’ claim that is NOT analytic or conceptual, yet whose justification cannot rely on empirical observation because an ‘a posteriori’ method seems ill-suited to discovering (after the facts) and establishing what we should do (before the facts); ‘a posteriori’ will only declare us what we actually do (ex-post facto). So an ‘a posteriori) method of seeking out and establishing the principle that generates such requirements will not support the derivation of moral ‘musts’ as necessities. Kant argued that empirical observations could only deliver conclusions about, for instance, the relative advantages of moral behavior in various circumstances.
Two key concepts immediately come to mind when rationalizing human social behavior, autonomy (free will) and intentionality. The idea of ‘good will’ is supposed to be the idea of one who only makes decisions that she holds to be morally worthy, pondering on the moral considerations in themselves to be exclusive reasons for guiding her behavior. This sort of disposition or character is something we all highly value. We value it without limitation or qualification because ‘good will’ exemplifies being good ‘in itself’ and not in virtue of relationship to other things such as the agent's own happiness or overall welfare. This should be distinguished from a virtuous effort to put a constraint on ones own desires, and hence a will in which the Moral Law is motivated by the thought of duty. It should be noticed that the emphasis on a rational structure unrestrained by duties to secular or religious authorities but rather because of their intrinsic value in generating a pre-disposition to act correctly regardless of circumstantial events., i.e., a morality ‘in se’. A holy or divine will, if it exists, though good, would not be good enough because it is motivated by thoughts of duty as opposed to a rational will entirely free from duties or desires that might conceivably operate independently of true morality. The existence of desires that may operate independently of moral demands makes goodness in human beings a constraint, an essential element of the idea of ‘duty’. Such unqualified goodness as it may occur in imperfectly rational creatures such as ourselves, ultimately derive from, or are motivated by the thought that we are constrained to act in certain ways that we might not really wish to, or the thought that we have moral duties. When comparing motivation by duty with other sorts of motives, in particular, with motives of self-interest, self-preservation, sympathy and happiness, it is arguable that a dutiful action from any of these motives, however praiseworthy it may be, does not express a good will intention necessarily. The purity of the idea of duty may run counter to existential reality, (man is him and his circumstances) but get reconciled by stressing that the motivational structure of the moral agent is so arranged so as to give considerations of duty priority over all other interests while not requiring or recommending a rule-structured system devoid of the warmth of human emotion. This is especially relevant to the rather counterintuitive conclusion we arrived at in other chapters that a great majority of our actions are unconscious or subconsciously driven arguably by ‘rationality’ considerations aimed at the higher imperative of ‘bps’ balance preservation as mentioned earlier. The ruled-structured, thought-generating Turing ‘talking brain’ system indirectly assigns duties and is created by rules or laws of some sort so long as they conform hierarchical principles of ‘bps’ natural preservation and laws of rationality, fundamental laws of practical reason. Only a ‘bps’ driven universal law could be the content of a requirement that has the reason-giving force of morality. As long as one is aware of these ‘bps’ natural contingencies one should always act in such a way that one could also ‘will’ that it can become a universal law. This is the modified principle which motivates a good will, the fundamental principle of all of morality. It remains ‘categorical’ in virtue of applying to all rational human beings unconditionally without reference to any relevant ulterior motive that we might or might not have and an ‘imperative’ because it compells us to exercise our will in a particular way, not to perform some action or other. A hypothetical imperative is a command that may apply to us because we have rationality, not in virtue of us having to antecedently willed an end. A hypothetical imperative is thus a command tied up to our desiring or wanting an end. It requires the exercise of practical reason in the pursuit of that end, subject to the demands of ‘bps’ equilibrium unconsciously ‘willing’ by ‘natural necessity’ our species survival and hopefully our own happiness. Human willing embodying the form of means-end reasoning that calls for pondered evaluation in terms of logical alternatives in accordance with the possibility maxim that you can will that act free from content provided by sense or desire, or any other contingent aspect of our situation and become a universal law is a goal. The self-imposition of the moral law is ideal autonomy where this law must be universal. Hence, by virtue of our being autonomous rational beings we are expected to act only on those premises. When such actions take into consideration the invariant fact of ‘bps’ survival moral behavior gets closer to becoming a universal law of nature proper. Thus, if we choose to act protecting human life as the reason for acting and consider that maxim as a universal law of nature governing all rational agents, and expect that all must, by natural law, act the same way as would any species in any conceivable world where individualized lives are not viable or can perpetuate their kind. It would be irrational to will either the extinction of one’s species or deny its perpetuation in nature. Thus conceived, abortion advocacy is morally impermissible. Rationality requires conformity to natural and to hypothetical imperatives.
Compliance with the notion of moral thought, moral duties toward ourselves as toward others -both perfect and imperfect beings- brings in additional complexities questioning the concept of hypothetical imperative as a viable guide to social responsibility in its ‘un-adulterated’ version. The moral duty to educate myself as a hypothetical goal is likewise incomplete. The being of ideal autonomy implies a measure of self-worth in that we must be in a position to trust our decision-making capacities to put ourselves in a position of responsibility to ourselves first and to others in virtue of their capacity . Perhaps, it might be worthwhile to depend more on the existential laboratory of proper family experiences than wait for the rational ability to sort out relevant contingencies to develop during formative years.
One of the first things one should learn in the ‘laboratory of life’ is ‘The Humanity Formula’ which states that we should never act in such a way that we treat ‘humanity’, whether in ourselves or in others, as a means only but always as an end in itself. It is defined as the capacity to engage in self and other-directed rational behavior and to adopt and pursue our own ends, and any other capacities necessarily connected with these without neglecting any compromises that made it possible. Once I have adopted an end in this sense, it dictates that I do something about it: I will act in ways that will bring about into fruition that willed collective end.
We are required according to this formulation to conform our personal behavior to sound principles expressing this autonomy of the rational will, both the source and driving force behind the very universal laws compelling their compliance. As an additional categorical imperative within the Humanity formula it is supposed to formulate the very same moral law, and at the same time incorporate the other formulations within it. That integration brings the moral law into existence, closer to feeling. The autonomy formula presumably does this by putting on display the source of our dignity and worth, our status as free rational agents who are the source of the authority behind the very moral laws that bind us. This formulation introduces an existential, social dimension to Kantian abstractions on morality. Kant states that the above concept of every rational will as a will that must regard itself as the source of laws, the binding influence bringing together all rational wills with relevant concepts into a systematic union of different rational beings under common laws. This way our fundamental moral obligation as social entities is to act only on principles which could earn acceptance by a community of fully rational agents each of whom have an equal share in legislating and enforcing these principles for their community.
We may still question how are these moral obligations to originate and compell us to act according to a-priori abstractions, what existential justification is there as a driving force to make humans act morally? How are autonomous human beings to act willfully to reasonably restrict their own options to act in their environmental niche? What authority do moral requirements have over us? The concept of autonomy finds its meaning within the context of consciously willed acts. The apriori abstraction of an individual freedom in isolation may have to be reconfigured and cropped when tested in the existential melting pot of the social foundry because in social life a self is hardly a pure cognizer, i.e., a purely reflective agent engaged in practical reason. The decision-making process in society are invariably tied-up to our passions, emotions, desires, felt commitments, senses of attraction and aversion, alienation and comfort. These are both the objects of our judgement and partly constitutive of them. To passionately embrace an option is different from logically determining it to be best. Judgment is involved with all such passions when decisions are made.The apriori autonomy of will implication of actions being bound by no external constraints law yields to the possibility of feeling bound to comply with restrictions of ones own making. The reality of a collective effort becomes abundantly clear. The justification for a collective effort among equally informed individual rational minds comes from the realization that the structural and functional unit of social life is the family not the individual member. The BPS model questions whether a moral obligation should rest exclusively upon a model devoid of affective elements and whether they can be reasonably excluded from the types of reflective judgments that form its core. The classical idea of political freedom in society as a logical extension of that to be found and nurtured inside the family nucleus viewed as an autonomous micropolis where the ability to reflectively consider options and choose sensibly from among them should start. The BPS survival kit and parental good will channel the components of the micropolis into an eventual succesful participation in the political life of the macropolis. Informed good-willed parents will guide their siblings into patterns of behavior largely of their own making with the guiding orientation of the experienced and good-willed exemplary parents. Dictatorial or laissez-faire extreme approaches will prepare the siblings to expect equivalent strategies they are more likely to adapt to and survive according to the silent, unconscious demands from their BPS survival kit.
The legitimate political authority in the macropolis should naturally evolve, as it hopefully did in the micropolis, when the individual components participate democratically in the creation, formulation and execution of pondered laws of their own making withing the guiding concept of good will where individual BPS imperatives are balanced against what collectively is considered the common good solution for political survival, totally consistent with the unavoidable requirements of individual BPS survival. For a will to be free from personal or collective appetites, obsessions or thought disorders is thus for it to resist their physical, economic and psychological pressures in its operation. Since we have much less conscious control over the operations of the unconsciously unleashed natural law demands from individual BPS driving forces we have to take them into serious consideration instead of acting in denial of their ever present existence or their assumed incompatibility with being free in a rational sense. When reckoning with the accomodation of BPS imperatives in the mold, it is worth considering that, as we have argued before, that there is not a rational basis for believing our wills to be absolutely free, except at the proximate causation level, as argued in a previous chapter. There is enough clinically verifiable data to sustain the claim that an unconscious rational will (the talking brain) can indeed operate without being able to avoid -or feeling free from external illogical manipulations originating from our unconscious self in brain disease. (see Feinberg’s "Altered Egos", 2001)
Unfortunately, according to the BPS model, the enforcement powers of political authority in the macropolis is legitimized and can no longer be viewed as externally imposed but internal to all of participants individually. These ideas may run counter to those of global economic interests who ostensibly wield legitimate authority over the ‘economically ocupied’ but ‘liberated’ territories.
Although intuitions may qualify as non-inferred logical propositions, strictly speaking, there is no rational basis for believing there is absolute free will, or a purpose in nature or Intelligent Designers. Their imputed existence is the driving force behind the human search to identify them, whether using scientific or methaphysical methodology. The putative existence is assumed to justify the search, likewise the a priori search for first causes is predicated on the existence of causation and free will. Furthermore, it is conceptually difficult to conceive ‘a priori’ elements linked functionally to practical considerations such as identifying those principles one would adopt and hold oneself and others responsible for. The forced rationalization is because a rational agency can only operate by being autonomous, free from empirical influences to seek first causes ‘in abstracto’ before generating causally efficient prescriptions for action, this we dub being free in a ‘negative’ sense when any practical matter is at issue. The conceptual link between a non-physical autonomous ‘me’, the willing causal agent, and the resulting physical moral law is mediated by an universal natural law, such as those controlling the transduction of sensory data from the social environment to generate my adaptive body movements or phrasing legislative codes enactments. But the same laws cannot be at the same time the same universal laws governing the operation of my will or the mind that causally precedes both. Thus, a rational will in abstract is expected to conform itself to universal natural laws derived a priori. When addressing imperfectly structured quasi-rational wills, such as those expressed by propositional attitudes of beliefs, hopes, desires, etc., and under the guiding orientation of the former natural laws, we conform our actions to a universal non-natural law.
Within the BPS Model context the moral strength of human beings ‘will’ in fulfilling their social duties is a goal to be achieved by the necessary mediation of family, church, and community teachings in the development of virtuosity and moral character. The failure of these institutions to provide basic notions of right and wrong behavior grounded on prior accounts of moral behavior based on a priori standards like "The Tables of the Law", "The Ten Commandments", etc. or ineffective guidance results in the generation of vice. It is their responsibility to define and enforce the principles of moral conduct in harmony with the chosen reference standards. A successful layering of these principles in training takes into consideration the relevant profile aspects of such community where emotions, beliefs, desires and other features and can be individualized and habituated in behalf of the common good but always in harmony with ‘a priori’ moral principles giving prominence to principled virtues (courage, justice, etc.) above trivial moral virtues like friendliness, wit, etc...
It is important to accommodate different belief persuasions as variations of a common basic moral theme in a secular government. The virtuosity to be stressed must be that of a community disregarding how it may have been inspired in the claimed traits of secular or divine beings, if there are such. Virtuous living would then be a reflection of the natural and systematic ongoing existence of a free will duty to avoid or sublimate the effect of evil temptations within the agents ability to control.
While ‘good will’ breeds the higher moral state of virtuosity, BPS Model can conceive of forces outside the good willed control of an agent that interferes with the achievement of such high states because of disease, incapacities or other imponderables. Such un-willed impediments, as when acting out of enforced duty alone or as may be manifested as good-willed failed attempts to overcome contrary interest and appetites, can thereby comply with expected norms of social behavior. To live in a continuous state of high level morality there must be a willed commitment to a lifelong strengthening of one's will to achieve those a priori goals.
A more precise examination of the conditions surrounding the 'on line' exercise of the autonomy makes one wonder if it can be considered as an unqualified value for all individuals in the various social and political theory contexts. To examine these conditions it is better to distinguish between individualized and collective autonomy and freedom. Freedom is the species of the genus autonomy and, while both involve the ability to act, without external or internal constraints, only freedom, being more specifically addressed to individualized particulars, includes in its concept the ability to muster adequate resources and power to make one's desires effective. The genus autonomy is mostly understood as the ideal maximization of an authenticity goal to be attained by the few and not the basic state to be presupposed or expected to be found in all persons free from incapacitating disease or manipulation by oppressive and distorting influences. The distinction is justified in that it prescribes a social program for the development of formative ideal of the autonomous mental states to serve as inducers to the acceptance of the basic state we call freedom. Paradoxically, living under basic freedom guarantees in a democracy catalyzes the formation of the ideal autonomous state which requires more biological and social maturation. However, pedagogically, the formative preparation of children to assume moral and legal responsabilities, is a necessary pre-condition to earn equal political standing in the future, free from the lures of political invasive paternalism and ready to filter and assimilate more complex, unadulterated status designators in the society. The paradox may be solved by including in the formative curriculum not a moral theory of autonomy but simply those basic notions aimed at capturing the general sense of how ethical considerations and self-discipline leads naturally to "self-rule" or "self-government" and other socio-economic principles and norms typically linked to these basic notions.
Authenticity conditions are developed, in children and adults alike, away from the television, in temporary self-imposed seclusion to be able to develop and mature the capacity for self reflection and thereby make the choices that best harmonize with one's desires, values, obligations, etc. The results should develop a substantive independence from the species survival contents present in 'bps' survival kits, inevitably expressing themselves as first order appetites or desires which must be balanced with higher order goals at the personal level. Intuitively, when one reflects on whether the first stage development of an ideal autonomy can guarantee a value neutral status in reality, one wonders whether the subject is unconsciously being set up to accept a particular political, religious or theoretical point of view embedded into the socio-economic millieu during the posterior basic autonomy stage of social development. The capacity to think critically and reflectively so necessary for autonomy to develop at any stage is under continuous challenge by an ubiquitous existential reality, especially if the 'bps' equilibrium has not been attained, for we have to understand that an autonomous person can not be conceived as a reflexive, intellectual entity devoid of emotional/affective craves. This brings the interesting question as to whether an autonomous state can be naturally attained and maintained in the face of a varying life long scenario. Or is it only present when called for in circumstances other than unconscious servo-controlled, quotidian lifestyle repetitions?
We have questioned the possibility of attaining an ideal individual autonomy, in the Kantian sense, during the early formative years of social development at home, church and community. Assuming it can be successfully achieved, a bigger question clouds the transition from school to the job market, the transition from the ideal individual to the basic collective autonomy. A sound collective democracy is different from the sum total of their ideal individual autonomous constituents. Can the ideal moral and political principles of high school students individually be translated into the same moral and political principles of the collective county or state without individuals losing autonomy of the will? What elements in the first stage should be present to smoothen the transition? As any first child can tell you, big family benefits, if any, come at a price. The individual unit becomes a functional part of a larger collective unit without losing the most important aspects of their original ideal autonomy as evidenced in the collective agreement to give it permanence in an agreed-upon constitutional Bill of Rights. Just like when a personal crib had to be surrendered to a second baby and had to be accepted for the good of the collective family during the formative years of the ideal autonomy development, an individual self interests become essentially tied up, for good or for bad, to his relations with others in the bigger collective unit, whether family or community. Upon entering this new stage, the constituents will maintain their basic autonomy, while fleeting temporal variations in life situations fashion and mold our self- conceptions hopefully not imposing serious essential deviations from a person's ideal autonomous self-definition cultivated during the early phase. When the point of reference is the ideal autonomy the more things change, the more they remain the same. Relations with other individuals may change over time, whether from unintended circumstances, like changes in the political or economic environment or due to voluntary choice. They remain the same due to the underlying constancy of the bio-psycho-social equilibrium sustaining life proper.
The concept of basic autonomy 'in concreto' will aim beyond the individual and provide the proper perspective to adopt those political principles best fitted to delineate the profiles of a society free from oppression and guaranteeing the eventual flourishing of a type of social justice rooted in solid rational criteria. The legitimation of political power and social justice will be found in reference to a concept of value and moral principles. The precise way in which this requirement may harmonize with constitutional requirement of government neutrality is very complex and controversial. The all important substantive content of these principles can be preserved if the procedure by which a government adopts them remains neutral toward the various judeochrislamic conceptions of human values and good willed acts. It must be remembered that we are not dealing with ideal autonomy guiding the formation of the future citizen during the alluded first stage but considering basic autonomy in the real existential context where individual and social autonomy is balanced out so that both are optimized. A case in point is the feminist claim that mothers lack autonomy. A reversal of household & workplace responsibilities between couples will give you an idea of the price it will cost society to implement such strategies in an absolute way. The most important consideration is that such work styles be freely embraced and their qualification as secondary social status be considered as un-informed, with no substantial criteria to even label it prejudice. This is an education problem. To consider that a lactating mother, even when un-educated, necessarily will lack the basic capacities for a responsible social agency, as defined by political status and participation, or an effective voice in discussions of value questions themselves, all of which basic autonomy presupposes, are plain prejudiced and lack objective credibility. We are not blind of the fact that this state of affairs is only a goal that runs counter to the current social reality landscape of communities with high rates of geographic and economic mobility and cultural diversity. With such levels of heterogeneity, product of unbridled illegal immigration, it is a big challenge to achieve a consensus of political legitimacy in which political power and authority is justified only if such authority is acceptable to all citizens bound by it according to the precepts of basic autonomy.
In general one may ask if a voter can be considered as restrained to endorse a norm or value discovered after critical reflection on their cost and consequences under the circumstances herein described? Interestingly, most citizens have abandoned this dream and have opted instead for expecting their leaders to live by those standards they themselves were not able to achieve. The failed Congressional attempt to residence President Clinton is a clear example. This need not be construed as an endorsement of the Presidential personal behavior, it simply emphasizes how a free and rational pursuit of people's own conception of morality and the good at the individual level translates into an extended collective autonomy and a true popular sovereignty. Can a person learn in the formative phase to make free choices of principles to impose upon themselves individually, according to moral principles and independent of such self-serving narcissistic contingencies of social position, race, sex, or conception of the good, or is it merely a goal? It is difficult to develop a metaphysically grounded conception of substantive principles of justice at the individual level and be expected to extend them under the pretense that it will apply universally in a pluralistic social existence. The only approximation to this ideal is not reached by preachings as much as by exemplary living where the laboratory is more important than the classroom, adopting a 'modus vivendi' where the kingdom of God –any God- is first and foremost right here on earth, on every turf. When the principles of justice sprout from within, an overlapping consensus among such plurality (moved by deeply divergent approaches to moral issues), reasonable comprehensive moral views can be agreed on and a consensus reached; ideally, one consensus in which each individual citizen can extract individually relevant principles of justice from within those comprehensive views. The practice of debating communal issues through instituted public deliberation, then will serve as the vehicle by which such a consensus might be reached. The role of civic leaders being to discourage the discourse clothed in the contentious adversary strategy borrowed from court litigation -and highly endorsed by HiQ communities- to guarantee the plurality of the citizens see themselves as fully able to reflectively endorse or reject such shared principles, and to do so competently and with adequate information and range of options, a free and authentic affirmation of shared principles. We have, as informed citizens, witnessed with sadness how the best of intentions of one leader and his expert counsel neglected to give weighted consideration to normative conceptions of social order in a pluralistic society created the un-intended consensus among the rival tripartite contenders that an unfamiliar, sophisticated and contested form of government principles was being forcibly imposed on a resistant citizenry on the pretense of sharing western standards of democratic principles. The explosive transition from the Scylla of oppressive forms of Eastern-style fascism to the Charybdis of Western style global multinational interest-group power politics, was more than the 'liberators' bargained for! The effective transition from an individual private autonomyà collective public legitimacy as a goal is part of the 'bps' strategy for social survival.
Far from being a rationally derived logic principle it has been argued that the Kantian autonomy of the will and the existence of absolute values (ends in themselves) can be modified to blend in with teleological interpretations. Otherwise there will always exist an unbridgeable explanatory gap between the meansà ends, i.e., analytical formulation of ‘a priori’ moral principles (means) endowed with causally efficient authority to extract ‘a posteriori’ enforceable moral laws to guide human behavior in society. Unfortunately, teleological arguments, as discussed, are not accepted universal currency when bridging the gap between an analysis of rational agency and the arguable synthesis embodying ‘practical reason’ and requiring compliance by society.
End Chapter 22