tiistai 15. toukokuuta 2018

Joachim Darjes: Elements of metaphysics 2 – Desires and fears

Darjes singles out a distinct group of cognitions, namely, those where the objects cognised are something which we either incline to or recline from, in other words, appetites and aversions. The difference between appetites and aversions and other cognitions is quite evident, whenever we have the object of appetite or aversion present to us – we feel pleasure or pain. On the other hand, whenever we do not have the object with us, we desire for or fear it.

Darjes notes that appetites and aversions can be quantified, depending on how strong the respective desire or fear is. This quantification comes to the fore especially when appetites and aversions contradict one another. In other words, whenever an appetite and an aversion clash, the stronger prevails. One might wonder how appetites and aversions could clash. The simple answer lies in two sources of human cognition. If our appetites and aversions are based on the inferior cognitive faculty, they are sensible, and if they are based on the superior cognitive faculty, they are rational or volitions and nolitions belonging to a faculty called will. Thus, our sensible and rational appetites and aversions can clash, and if the sensible have the other hand, we experience some affect, while if the rational side preponderates, we have something analogous to affects.

A further distinction Darjes mentions concerns the relation of appetites and aversions to previous cognitive states – some of these rise from earlier states, others are innate to human mind. He still does not mean that we could simply explain appetites and aversions mechanically through the earlier states or the nature of human mind. Indeed, he is quick to emphasise that appetites and aversions spontaneous and hence contingent. This does not mean that appetites and aversions would be completely inexplicable, just that these explanations would use other means than mechanical causality.

In case of volitions and nolitions in particular, the explanation is based on their goals. It is somewhat unclear whether these goals are chosen by the will or not. In any case, when these goals are given, the will considers all the possible means for this goal and freely chooses the one it considers best. Of course, at least humans can have an erroneous view on what means are best and even what goals are good. Darjes is adamant that this possibility of error is the only explanation for the human ability to freely choose bad things. In fact, a spontaneous entity who couldn't make errors could not choose anything bad, Darjes concludes.

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