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MisterSwig

Metamorphosis, Man, and Values

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One problem with Objectivism is its focus on man qua mature adult, while mostly ignoring man qua immature child. Man's life, as a standard of value, includes both forms at different stages of his development, in addition to a transitional period in between forms. Our view of man and his values therefore needs some refinement and clarification.

It seems like a general fact that animals change forms at least once throughout their lives. Sometimes the change is major or complete, as in a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. Sometimes it's minor or simple, as in a baby chick growing up and becoming a hen or rooster. Even plants have an immature (not flowering) and mature (flowering) form. And along with these changes in forms we see changes in functions. For example, it seems that some amount of metamorphosis is necessary for nature to turn a non-reproductive organism into a reproductive one. This functional quality, in addition to physical appearance, is typically how we differentiate the immature from the mature members of various species.

When an organism's form changes, its function necessarily changes too, because its function is essentially its form undergoing a process of self-sustaining action. The function of an immature organism, however, is not self-sustaining qua remaining an immature organism. It's self-sustaining qua growing into a mature organism. An immature organism's life process is thus not an end in itself. Its end is its future, mature life process, which it must achieve by growing and completing its particular type of metamorphosis.

Because of an organism's change in form-function, the essential nature of its life changes. And because this essential nature changes, the organism's values must also change accordingly. An immature, non-reproductive plant or animal simply does not have the same values as a mature, reproductive one. One requires values in order to grow and develop into its mature self. The other requires values to sustain maturity and create reproductive material.

The metamorphosis of man is not as radical as that of the caterpillar. And it probably sounds strange referring to puberty as a type of metamorphosis. But, in addition to more minor physical differences, our form does change in at least one very essential way. Indeed, we become producers of eggs and sperm for sexual reproduction. In this way, our maturation process changes our form-function just like similar maturation processes do for the lower organisms. And because of our advanced consciousness, we are capable of self-awareness and concept-formation. We therefore can identify and name our own form-function and refer to it as our life. In developing our ethics, though, we should maintain this context of our different lives as immature children and mature adults. For our standard of value must also change, in harmony with the change to our form-function.  

Edited by MisterSwig

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Our standard of value, if "our" means "us babies", is useless to us. (assuming we are all babies)

The standard of value is different for a child vs. adult or different stages of a human's life.
Clearly things that are good for a child are not necessarily good for an adult and vice versa.

We also have to keep in mind that "a standard of value", is a concoction of a mature adult for the benefit of a mature adult.
The standard of value applied to a child is from the viewpoint of a mature adult.
An immature child, a baby does not have one and won't benefit from one.

Other than that, the standard of value for humans is not a negation of specifics for a child, but perhaps omission of somethings that are not common to both adult and child.

So some values will be missed in the overall picture.

A standard of value for a species human, will have to be the common things between a child and adult (and all other stages).

To create what you want is to require that a standard of value be for different stages of life of a species.

You see something missing, what is it?

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18 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

The standard of value applied to a child is from the viewpoint of a mature adult. An immature child, a baby does not have one and won't benefit from one.

A small child's standard of value is not yet at the level of concepts. It is initially at the level of sensations and then perceptions. So its initial standard of value is pleasure, and then objects which give it pleasure. If you define standard as only an abstraction, then we have a linguistic or conceptual disagreement, which we should take to a different subforum.

My point is that an organism's standard of value develops and changes in accordance with its form and function. The standard is not a one-size-fits-all abstraction, applicable to every member of a particular species. Members at the sensory level use a sensory standard. Those at the perceptual level use a sensory-perceptual standard. And those at the conceptual level use a sensory-perceptual-conceptual standard. 

Edited by MisterSwig

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