When I’m thinking about the phenomenon of moral language – lines from a poem of the famous Russian poet – Vladimir Mayakovski – come immediately to my mind: “what is good and what is bad”. Remember? This phrase has become a common like Shakespeare’s one: “to be or not to be”.
Of course, people cannot stop using these criteria; after all, we are moral creatures. These words, basically, express the main tenets of life, and if a human being follows them, somewhat bases acts on those principles, he will feel the meaning of his life. Each of our actions makes us think (of course, subconsciously) – good or bad is it. In a sense, these words are God and Devil that leading us by touch through the pitch darkness, while we’re listening to one and afraid of another.
However, what is good? We feel it instinctively, as if absorbed with mother’s milk. Good is good, and, although, it is a tautology, but in the meantime this simple paradigm does not fall under any of the existent explications. Therefore, I’m inclined to believe that the root of the problem of analyzing moral language is, definitely, our desire to describe the concept of good and considerable attempts in this direction.
Due to the fact that ethics is the science of good, researching in this area is reasonable, when it is made thoroughly and carefully, because the minimal mistake in that delicate issue poses a threat by distorting the very content of ethics, whose task is the execution of moral goodness “in the universe”.
The specific character of morality creates significant challenges for its definition and comprehension in language categories. The problem is not only to find an appropriate linguistic form for expressing moral judgments, along with that, we have to understand which of languages (namely metalanguage) is the most suitable for the interpretation of those judgments. This difficulty arose thanks to the fact that we try to compile innumerable rational judgments concerning the evaluation of our behavior and, particularly, of others. At the same time, we should take into account also our emotional reactions to events that happening.
Unfortunately, scientists consider that emotions aren’t important for researching, implying them like an irrational manifestation of human nature. But this is contrary to psychological reality – we will never be able to get rid of emotions. In addition, a lot of actions are committed under their influence and, concurrently, aren’t immoral (for example emotional-altruistic); that’s why we can’t ignore the value of emotions in the moral life.
Debate, in turn, tries to bring out into the open, or, better to say, to give a clear answer regarding to the theme of morality through the analytical implied sense, keeping in mind basic principles of linguistics.
You know: one of the most unique phenomena of humanity is language, whereas it remains ordinary and natural attribute of human life. Therefore, philosophy is interested in language as an object of study, and this “scientific passion” is constant. The exceptional role of language in intellectual development and understanding of the world, and primarily in the world of moral relations, makes it particularly important to analyze the language of ethics.
The main tool of philosophy – the word, and through it, the science is acting, asking, living… Analytical philosophers try to hone the word to make this tool perfect. Meantime, they strive to show us that words, actually, are clear and transparent for using not only in everyday life but also in the world of science. Representatives of analytical philosophy set themselves the goal to identify what words mean, not in the abstract, but in the context of discourse (ethical, political, ontological) in which they are used.
I want to draw your attention that the language does not hide anything. It is never just the expression of thoughts, feelings and desires (it remains behind the scenes). An individual opens his moral nature by using words (mostly words, because “heroic deeds” happen very rarely). The innermost metaphysical sense of any moral concepts (including the good) is embodied in a word. Staying on this side of the mystery, language constructs moral concepts of the ethics as a system of principles, the motto of which could be: “the word is a revelation by its very nature, and, therefore, it is essence. Amen”. However, this is only my fantasy… or not? As you may see I deviated from the topic, that’s why let’s continue.
It’s not a secret for anybody that the founder of metaethics was John.E.Moore. He tried to identify the logical meaning of ethical terms by choosing orientation to the analysis of moral language. Moore understood ethics as a special language with its usual logic, and if you can analyze it objectively – this will provide access to the clear understanding of moral sentiments, motives and actions (of course from the point of view of science). Metaethics acts as the language that is needed for impartial interpreting of moral language’s content.
According to Ludwig Wittgenstein, the problem of language is that “the subject” of ethical and religious statements is “transcendental”, that is, ethics has to talk about what relates to the absolute, primordial, good, valuable, eternal… and not to be explained. And I, certainly, agree with him, that our trying to write or speak about ethics, as also about religion (because they are identical in matters of sensitivity) means striving to escape beyond the language.
Along with that, if science describes reality, then ethics offers relation to reality. And not only in general terms, but I want to emphasize, that in verbal. In a certain sense, ethics has its own speech and it can’t be explain.
Ethics is showed like the truly existing form of life. If we made ethical approval – then we produce language restrictions; that is the very thing that each of us should remember. The mysterious depth of the human spirit reveals thanks to ethics and to the language of morality. To solve the secret of life (that is a constant of space and time) – we must break out space and time. So here, to analyze in full the problem of moral language in metaethics – it is necessary to go beyond deeply rooted paradigm and to move on, to look for answers on other worlds, talking to aliens from mysterious galaxies… Of course, I’m not seriously broached the subject of space, but metaphorically. It is necessary to “split” the template in the name of goodness, at least in verbal terms, because as we all know – “in the beginning was the word.”
Nevertheless, metaethics is not closed in the world of words. We can’t blame it for losing of interest to man, to reality… It contains all the experience of mankind, including the moral experience, and the experience of understanding moral things through philosophy, literature, art, history… Metaethics seeks to make the moral language more expressive, scientific and clear, that is to say – comprehensible. As a result, exploring the language of moral philosophy, metaethics refers to the reality, to the human.
So, to sum up, we have to be a real conscious person, having sound moral principles, and always remember and recognize: “what is good and what is bad.”