Monday, October 04, 2010

Kekes, On the Human Condition II

Your well-being depends upon fulfilling the values you hold dear, and this fulfillment depends upon your being in control of yourself. You must correct the beliefs, motives, and emotions which do not map appropriately to this set of values. This is the control of yourself which you must have.

Of course, mistakes will be made. You might change attitudes in a direction from bad to worse, such as when you move from over-eagerness about an endeavor that was good for you to depressive dejection about it and a mistaken belief that it is not worthwhile or possible for you.

Kekes raises the point that the ways of self-control are too varied to be distilled into one summary gist. In this regard, kinds of compatibilism other than his are mistaken for ignoring the variation in beliefs, emotions and motives which are the objects of self-control. Also, libertarianism is mistaken for denying that there is a satisfactory sense of self-control that does not appeal to a transcendence of the natural world and its laws. Hard determinists are incorrect in denying the reality of self-control. Kekes tries in this way to carve out a unique approach to the issue of the age-old question of free will.

there are peculiarities of your character to which you must pay attention in resolving the way to increased self-control. You have either mistaken beliefs, inappropriate emotions or conflicting motives which must be ferreted out and changed. There are no simple recipes for this.

The critical reflection upon your attitudes which enables you to increase control of yourself occurs within you. It has special significance for contributing to your well-being and not for existing outside the natural causal order. It has causes prior to it in your genetic makeup and your upbringing but these do not eliminate its importance. Therefore, Kekes's compatibilism is not committed to the standard objections which incompatibilists may raise. Also, his view is different from simpler forms of compatibilism in that it does not either equate freedom and responsibility to this critical reflection or reduce critical reflection to and specific formula.