Morality – By Juan-Ramón Capella

This post is also available in: Spanish


In your collective view, it seems you place some weight on the idea that happiness is not compatible with loneliness.

It’s difficult to even conceive a human without speech. And speech is dual. Speaking to oneself is impossible. We wouldn’t have language. We’ve been taught to speak, the same way we’ve been taught to stand upright and that’s a basic element: we live in a system which is much more social than we see. Language shows this sociability very clearly, this natural sociability of human beings. Now I said “natural.” Being in common, being able to talk depend on the others. We can see in another area, the area of morality. For example: one can be an honest engineer, a biochemist, who does research on the properties of certain bodies. She works, goes home, has an absolutely normal life. But the product of her job is integrated in a weapon system and that system, designed by other scientists, is finally used by the military, following the decision of some politicians who have decided to use this weapon systems against some poor peasants in, let’s say, Vietnam or Afghanistan. What happens is that, between the end -the weapon that kills the peasant- and the beginning, an absolutely honest research by someone, there’s a complicated labyrinth of entangled actions which, on top of everything, are artifactual. Because this scientist wouldn’t have been able to do her research without instruments designed by others. This means that, in our time and due to this really complex character of social life, moral responsibilities of actions are very difficult to follow. And one never knows if one may be instrumentalized in the future for some indecent action. This is one of the most noteworthy characteristics of the history of sociability in this society of ours. I developed this idea in my book Ciudadanos siervos, because it seems to me an important matter concerning morality. There are many actions that interact with others, with artifacts and, finally, where is responsibility? That which I did, which ended up that way, is my responsibility or not? Many things get diluted there.

This takes us to a question you pose in your memoirs: How to give a foundation to morality?

How to give a foundation to morality? With the aid of one’s own project. There is no more foundation than the way of conceiving living with others.

See more answers by this author.

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