Ethics as the Foundation of Social Sciences.
“If in the matters to be examined we come to a step in the series of which our understanding is not sufficiently well able to have an intuitive cognition, we must stop short there. We must make no attempt to examine what follows; thus we shall spare ourselves superfluous labour.”
– Rene Descartes, Rules for the Direction of the Mind.
Man is a social animal, when he is predisposed to think in terms of not only himself but of the society of which he is a part of. Man is also a political animal, where he seeks the agency that is responsible to manifest his ideas about how the state of the society should be, he compares the ideal in his mind to the reality, judging the good and bad and demanding accountability. Indeed, anyone who does not have these predispositions is a beast or a saint. This set of predisposition is the founding sentiment of every unit in the society – the family, the tribe, the community, the clan all the way to the Nation State.
In all social phenomena there is a underlying theme that is undeniably a symptom of human nature, when an individual’s innate ideas of right and wrong (often understood as ethics) coincide with a society’s similar ideas, there is social cohesion. This is the foundation of both sociology and political theory, the fact that to understand the relationship between man and another man, man and his in – group, one group and another group, man and the Sovereign and a group and the Sovereign, we need a firm understanding of the value system which is functional within each of the abovementioned units.
So in order to have a clear understanding of everything complicated as politics and social determination, we need to understand the nature of human being. The following questions must be clearly answered before we can delve into more complex social and political theory:
What is the inherent nature of a human being? Is there any such nature in the first place?
What is it about a human being that makes him seek answers to what is good and bad and right and wrong and what is of the ultimate value? And once he secures these answers what makes him presume the universality of their application? Are there really any such universal values?
Is there any political theory without an ethical theory?
What we do want to make a case for is that no social sciences can even be hoped to be comprehended unless we have answers to these fundamental questions and to find the answers to these questions we study the Art and Science of Ethics, which precedes every speculation on social and political matters, according to the great French thinker who laid the foundation for modern science mentioned at the beginning of this write up. This is where we kick-start our series on Ethics. Ponder on these questions and soon we’ll provide a follow up.