by Max Barry

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by Margno. . 17 reads.

Karl Ferguson

Karl Ferguson

Born: January 2, 1805 , Vienna, Austrian Empire
Died: August 15, 1861, Paris, France

Citizenship: Austrian Empire

Nationality: Austrian

Religion: Agnosticism

Era: 19th century philosophy

Region: Western Philosophy

School: Social Contract, Realism

Notable Ideas: Willful acceptance of the wrong, state of nature as moral conflict, essential depravity of man.
Karl Ferguson was a seventeenth century Austrian philosopher best known for his arguments in favor of social conformity. His theories were highly influential and held popular support through much of the west until the views of Heigl gained popularity a century later.
The concept of morality is a curious thing. I attempted, through the study of history, to learn lessons that might be useful in the present day, and all that I discovered was the universality of belief in morality and the near total absence of its practice.
Man has always overwhelmingly believed in morality, and it has overwhelmingly called for altruism over egocentrism.
Which is curious, because man has never been particularly altruistic. On the contrary, the extraordinary selfishness of humankind has been perhaps the single most defining characteristic of human interaction. Mankind has, at this point, spent a ridiculous amount of time making up rules and not following them.
...Man is by nature short sighted, selfish, lazy, irrational, violent, and amoral. And yet, though he does not meet the standard himself, he is ruthless at the sight of immorality in others. He has typically not recognized his own immorality, being a master of the twin arts of double standard and rationalization, but has, regardless of his conduct, assumed himself among the most moral in the world. is scarcely any surprise. Belief in the good underlies all willed action in the same way that belief in the true underlies all logic, and belief in the uniformity of nature underlies all scientific thought. Every man must believe all his own opinions true, and is thereby forced into a kind of narcissism: he may recognize that this is improbable, but he cannot be rid of it. Likewise, every man must believe himself good, even if his cosmology precludes the possibility, even if he knows for a fact that he is not good, still he must believe himself good.
The difficulty with this is that the moral sense has within itself such a strong call to action, as indeed it must as an aspect of the will. It really is not possible to suggest that men not act upon their personal apprehension of morality, it would be akin to asking them not to believe what seems to them to be true. And given the degree of inconsistency, and indeed randomness, in men's apprehension of morality, this implies a state of constant conflict between evils at cross purposes.
Thus the state of nature is conflict, a bloodbath, a constant war between ever changing sides, making cooperation of any kind impossible and ultimately driving us back to the caves from whence we came.
Perhaps, had the natural law been real and men the world over been instinctively altruistic, it would not be so. But in the absence of a god, the best we can manage is a state.
The state will, of course, be nearly always wrong, both morally and practically. Morally in that it will be almost never altruistic (though it will believe itself altruistic), and practically in that it will almost always fail to meet its own stated goals. The reason for both is that any action attributed to "the state" is really the action of some human being, subject to the weaknesses of all human beings. Indeed, in this sense, the state could be said barely to exist outside of the minds of men: it is really only a group of individuals.
Thus the state, like all human inventions, is a miserable, ineffective, bloodthirsty thing. But its chief purpose is not to be correct. Its purpose is to ensure that the entire nation errs in the same direction. And at that it excels, through its clearly communicated expectations, psychological legitimacy, and, most importantly, liberal use of the gallows. To the extent that the state retains its moral authority over the populace, the bloodshed of moral conflict is averted.
So the state will be nearly always wrong. We must embrace the wrong. The alternative is worse. An altruistic, or even a self interested individual, will concern himself not with justice, nor mercy, nor reason concerning the law, but with loyalty only.
Our situation is rather like that of a captain who has been ordered onto a course which will run his ship into a reef. He can do his duty and drown, or turn from the course and be hung. The noble captain says, "if I am to die either way, then let me die with honor rather than with shame."

Excerpt from Ferguson's The Necessity of Social Order.