A SYSTEM OF EMPATHY: REBUTTAL TO AN EXISTENTIALIST THEORY OF JUSTICE

An existentialist theory of justice would be a contradiction and a betrayal of existentialist philosophy. In the present and most likely future of technological society in which even Christianity is surrendering the individual to the needs of the will to power of the few, existentialism is the last philosophy founded upon the power of the individual as morally superior to the indifference of the universe. Existentialism recognizes and must continue to recognize that there is no justice in life nor in the next life, if any, and there is no justice in or out of court. Justice as with ethics and any system of normative principles is a means created by the powers of any given system of power to maintain the status quo of that system of power. Taking “justice” as a serious ontological reality or creating an existentialist “justice” would be just another system of power to maintain the status quo of power. Rather, existentialists who have decided to act as social agents for change must seek an alternate ontological reality. This alternative must involve struggle not peaceful acceptance, but struggle with empathy for all involved in the struggle of power with the indifference of the universe.

 
Existentialism in both its secular and religious form is an attempt to avoid nihilism: an attempt that always fails. In the end of its logic, existentialist reasoning must accept nihilism. Such acceptance does not deny truth. Nihilism denies meaning in life not truth. As soon as some nihilist states there is no absolute truth in life they have contradicted themselves and established that there is absolute truth. At a minimum, there is the absolute truth that I exist and therefore I think and I want more than to exist.

 
Nihilist truth is pragmatic. Once I reject suicide and decide to give meaning to the universe, I must choose an ontology and morality necessary to achieve that meaning. If what I choose works to achieve my result, they are true. If they fail, they are to be rejected or revised or I can go back to contemplating suicide. Regardless of how I proceed, by necessity existentialism involves struggle not peaceful coexistence with what is not “I”. The universe does not care about my existence, it is its own existence. Unless I am one of the few beloved by God and thus made a god alongside of Him or I become a god myself as a being content with my own existence as an end in itself and thus do not ask existentialist questions nor need its reasoning, I will always be one of the poor hated by God and thus always involved in a struggle with His meaningless universe. This struggle with a meaningless universe includes all, including others, who may be out there. There is nothing one can do to make the struggle with the universe any less painful. It is what it is, and in the end it will always win the war regardless of how many battles we fight and win.

 
The struggle with the others who may be or seem to be out is a different situation. Rationally, existentialism has the benefit of avoiding solipsism: there must be others ontologicaly existing out there because I cannot will what I want. It is in the struggle of my will to achieve power over my life and my will’s constant inability and outward failure to do so that proves I am not alone in the universe. There is something out there, it may just be God but it is out there. If it is just God, He is taking so many forms to make my life miserable that He might as well be a multitude of others and pragmatically I must accept such an ontology to survive. Assuming that I am alone would only lead to being a god. Unless that is my destiny, I cannot make that assumption and must deal with the others out there struggling with me or against me in my will to power.

 
Unless I am destined to be a god, pragmatically empathy is the only option for an existentialist to create a system of social normative principles. If I am destined to be my own god, justice is the choice to make to enable and to enforce my will to power. Justice consists of the desire to sit in judgment of others’ will to power; determine how it is interfering with my will to power; and then to force them to conform their will to my will to power. If I am powerful enough, I can do this on my own. In the modern technological society, such justice requires the joint effort of an Orwellian Inner and Outer Party working together. Justice does not care about the ultimate struggle between the individual and the universe. Its concerns are only with the present. That is why no system of justice has ever been nor will it ever be on the right side of history.

 
Empathy is the ability to understand the nature of the struggle with the universe; the others’ struggle within that ultimate struggle; and to force myself to limit my will to power to the minimum necessary so that I and the others’ struggle will not hinder either of us in our ultimate struggle with the indifference of the universe. Unlike justice that inherently wants and creates the power to enforce its will to power, empathy is a matter of luck. Just as the existentialist struggle to give meaning to the universe is a solitary struggle, empathy is a solitary struggle.

 
The substantive question for an existentialist who wants to be an intentionally and knowing actor in the stage of social change is: can systems of empathy be created to replace systems of justice? There are significant generalities and details to be worked out in any such replacement. First of all, the concept of justice as a virtue must be eliminated; it must be seen as a meaningless concept in technological society. In terms of general principles, such a result is difficult enough to achieve for Christian communities that in substance are the only modern technological communities who expect justice only in another life and accept love and mercy as the only obtainable virtues in this life. However, for all practical purposes, it is impossible to achieve for fake religions such as Islam and for Old Testament religions such as Judaism in which justice is seen as a virtue achievable on earth. In terms of details, a system of empathy would require judges who are appointed as “judges” based on pragmatic merit as existentialists and their intelligence and empathetic abilities; who are appointed only for limited terms so that they are not corrupted by power; and are greatly limited their power to act affirmatively on anything. This is impossible in all modern technological societies in which judges are secular religious appointed to be fanatically loyal to the justice called “rule of law” and the delusions associated with such secular religion.

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