The Spinozist

writing by Paul Mendrik

Living with yourself

May 15, 2020

I am, morally, confronted with my very being: not my character, or my story, but what is deepest in me, which is the most singular. Morality puts me face to face with myself, in the fundamental solitude of the irreplaceable being that I am, and which I personally summon.

Morality concerns the individual in his singularity. The criterion of what is right and wrong, the answer to the question: what should I do, in the final analysis, do not depend on the ways and customs that I share with those around me, nor on a commandment of divine or human origin, but on what I decide by considering myself. In other words, if I can not accomplish certain things, it's because if I did or I could not live with myself anymore.

Such, then, is this metaphysical, essential morality which we seek to define, that morality which is not reduced to a question of norms and conventions, but which solicits me without delay, which draws in my existence unique moments, in which it does not exist. It's not just about doing or not doing this or that, but about making the choice of myself. Nobody can be moral in my place. It is an act which I can not delegate, which addresses itself to me, or rather which constitutes me as a subject, as a singular and incomparable being.

The moral act offers the rare opportunity to manifest a freedom that is not limited to the choice of this or that option (I refuse that an innocent be accused or I do not interfere) but that is the ability to exist really, with a weight and a gravity that nothing else confers: it is to affirm oneself as a unique being, who makes the difference (I am the one who denounced, helped, etc.). Moral freedom is not free will (choice to do this or that thing); it is independence (power to rise beyond what is possible to make another story happen: it has always been allowed, until I oppose it), to make some exception to the rule .