- Hume’s is/ought dichotomy: are these as Gould said “non-overlapping magisteria” or are they concentric domains? Is a science of aesthetics at the core? If memory serves it seems like that was what Wittgenstein suggested at the end of Tractatus. In The Moral Landscape, Harris narrows the aesthetic focus to a distinction between the minimum and maximum suffering of all sentient beings. Maximum suffering is bad or ugly and minimum suffering is good or beautiful. The relationship of conduct to result is the subject of consequentialism, isn’t it? Isn’t that also the subject of science?
I know a lot of people see a cut and dried dichotomy here and conventional wit says you can’t derive Ought from Is. My tracings of the boundaries though tend to find them recursively entangled.
- Recursively entangled is a nice phrase, like the the chicken and the egg. But I’m still wondering about the catch-22. On what general axiom is aesthetics/ethics/logic based? Harris suggests it’s minimizing net suffering. (That doesn’t imply the elimination of suffering, because some suffering has a net positive result.)
I got no absolutes here. I have my personal aesthetic, but a personal aesthetic is the moral equivalent of a religion, and folks are pretty free about that.
I’ll have more to say about my personal aesthetic … all in good time.
- Prospects for Inquiry Driven Systems • Logic, Ethics, Aesthetics
- Wikiversity • Descriptive Science • Normative Science