Over three months ago I posted Psychopath as Übermensch or Nietzsche at Columbine, in which I wrote:
Let us assume for the sake of argument that metaphysical naturalism is a true account of reality. What if a person were able to act based on a clear-eyed and unsentimental understanding of the consequences outlined above? If that person had the courage not to be overwhelmed by the utter meaningless of existence, he would be transformed. He would be bold, self-confident, assertive, uninhibited, and unrestrained. He would consider empathy to be nothing but weak-kneed sentimentality. To him others would not be ends; they would be objects to be exploited for his own gratification. He would not mind being called cruel, because he would know that “cruelty” is an empty category, the product of mere sentiment. Is the lion being cruel to the gazelle? No, he is merely doing what lions naturally do to gazelles.
Two weeks later I posted Follow Up on Psychopath as Übermensch in which I wrote:
The metaphysical naturalist must believe that empathy is nothing but a “feeling,” and like other feelings it can be suppressed in the service of other ends.
Here’s a simple example. Joe is a young college student. We can imagine him having this conversation with himself: I have new car fever; I really want that shiny red convertible. Wait a minute. If I spend my money on that car I will have to drop out of school and that will really limit my long term earning potential. But if I suppress my desire for the car now, in the long run I will be able to buy many cars from my increased income. I will suppress this feeling.
Joe understands that the decision whether to suppress his gut feeling in the service of other ends is a cost-benefit analysis. The calculating part of our brain suppresses the feeling part of our brain all the time.
Most of us do not make this calculation when it comes to ethical decisions, including the decision whether to hurt another human for our selfish gain. But for the metaphysical naturalist empathy is just another gut feeling that can be suppressed – or not – based on a “rational” cost-benefit analysis.
Can someone explain to me why that last sentence is not true – even obvious?
In the months that have followed I have been waiting for a serious response to the highlighted question, but our materialist friends seem to have been struck dumb. I suppose they are conceding that the last sentence is true, even obvious.