Logical & Ethical Judgment


The decision-making apparatus is equally divided into two components according to the themes it is responsible for administering; themes which have often been differentiated as the conflict between the Heart and Mind.  While such terms are far too broad to be of use for our purposes, the general concept present in them is not unrelated to the phenomenon underlying this dichotomy.

A more precise definition would be to say the Heart, so to speak, is that which manages decisions that deal with Humanity and living things: it is the principle of Ethic. The Mind, so to speak, is that which manages decisions that pertain to non-living things: it is the principle of Logic. Both processes operate on the principle of reason but in different topics and with different criteria. This separation is also essential as the criteria for Logical decision making left to itself may generate an erroneous choice that is entirely inhumane, but which appears most reasonable to it. Likewise the criteria for Ethical decision making by itself would cause an erroneous romanticizing of reality, applying the principle of Ethic to all realms, including the non-living, anthropomorphizing all of life and being incapable of understanding or managing situations objectively when needed.

As was clarified by James Hillman, an early student at the C.G. Jung Institute, the process of Ethic, or “Feeling”, is not the same as emotions, though emotions are often present alongside it. But I feel I must make a further clarification as to what relationship the Ethical process has to the emotional register of an individual, beginning by contrasting it against the operation of the Logical process.

The Logical process is one disassociated from the emotional register. It is a process that discerns between data, but it does so without any recognition of things outside of the of principles of deduction. It is sequential reasoning; if this → then this. A process associated to the emotional center is likewise a process that discerns between data, but it does so within a different framework; different parameters. The sequence of “if → then” is processed within the context of bodily experience.

The aim is not logical consistency but a consistency of the body/emotional-register with the principles of survival/life versus death. The aim of logical consistency is without consideration of the body as anything more than a data source. Logic has no bias for its own body. Consequently, “Ethics” can be defined as the proper alignment to, and management of decisions in the context of life & death, where life is the central bias and aim. Consistency versus inconsistency is to logic as life versus death is to ethics.

The Logical process differentiates itself from the personal self and thus does not perceive one’s own importance as anything more than yet another variable within the information registered. It can only possess this lack of bias, and thus be a dispassionate process, through this lack of self-investment. If a creature existed who was purely logical and entirely lacking the ethical dimension, its absence of regard for its own life would not take long to terminate its own existence.

Fortunately the human psyche is not so one-dimensional as to make us entirely motivated by logic or strictly by the impetus for survival. Both are present in each individual and the interplay between these two dynamics can indeed become very complex. One soon finds logical reasons to support ethical pursuits (and vice versa) as dispassionate analysis is used to inform the ethical process. Through this convergence, the ethical and logical processes can better execute their respective decisions. This collaborative dynamic I will hereafter refer to as harmonizing.

We also understand that the matters which motivate humanity toward self-preservation lie within the instinctual and “reptilian brain”. The ethical discernment process is not itself those impulses, nor would I suggest it lies within the limbic system, but it draws from them pre-existing parameters from which to formulate judgment. The logical process generates its parameters naturally via exposure to the environment, using initially only the discernment between similarity and dissimilarity. It would, if it existed in isolation, attempt this process in whatever universe – with whatever laws – it woke up to, creating an organized catalog of parallels from the data presented to it by the perception processes.

This would not be true of the ethical process, as it would – if awoken in a universe with alternate laws – conceive this universe using pre-existing “human” archetypes and measure the substances and perceptive impressions available through that human judgment. It would define more and less valuable substances depending on their capacity to cause or prevent death – however it came to understand it.

This snippet has been imported from Cognitive Type, with the author’s permission. We hope you enjoy!