Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 4, No 1-2 (2008)

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Life, Thought, and Morality: Or, Does Matter Really Matter?

Murray Code


Modern, science-centered naturalisms can be charged with a certain moral laxity, according to S. T. Coleridge. This fault reflects a devitalizing, materialistic metaphysics informed by a narrow and self-serving conception of reason. Thus seeking a remedy that can bring justice to the spiritual as well as the physical aspects of experience, Coleridge envisages a 'true naturalism' that will not only address the question 'What is Life?' but also frame a 'true realism' that includes what might be called a 'true moralism'. This calls, however, for a Heraclitean metaphysics capable of linking 'goodness' in both thinking and acting to a *Logos* - that is, an essentially nonmodern theory of actuality that can do justice at once to the quicknesses and the uniformities of both Life and Thought. Coleridge thus presents an outline of how one might respond to a challenge that can be best met, I argue, with the help of certain insights of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, A. N. Whitehead, Gilles Deleuze, and C. S. Peirce. By enlisting Hannah Arendt's  individual-centered conception of morality, which ties ethics to public concerns, it is also possible to sketch a metaphysically grounded response to Friedrich Nietzsche's call for a healthy morality capable of overturning the nihilistic values entrenched in modern thought.

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