The chief and fundamental incentive in a human being, as in an animal, is egoism, i.e. the urge to existence and well-being.
Schopenhauer gave a definition of morality that is practical and very clear – when one creature imposes its will upon another creature so that the latter is harmed in some way, then that act of will is immoral. I’ve paraphrased what Schopenhauer said, but I believe I have captured the essence of a long treatise on the subject. So here are several axioms that define the dynamics of life on this planet, and hence show, according to Schopenhauer’s analysis, why life is necessarily immoral:
- Many individual creatures exist.
- Each creature is primarily driven by the desire to persist in its existence.
- The only way a creature can maintain its existence is by killing and eating other creatures.
- There is no evidence that creatures willingly offer themselves up to be killed and eaten, or eaten and killed if the creature is still alive while being consumed.
- To be killed for food is harmful to a creature, and against its own will, and hence is immoral.
When we consider human beings the situation becomes more elaborate, but the dynamics are pretty much the same:
- Many individual people exist.
- Each person is driven by the desire to persist in their existence.
- People persist in their existence by eating other creatures and exploiting other human beings. The mechanism through which other human beings are exploited is commerce and privilege.
- The animals and plants that are killed for human consumption do not offer themselves up to be eaten (with the possible exception of fruit). People do not willingly offer themselves up to work for others, but see it as a means of earning enough money to persist in their existence.
- Killing animals and plants for food is harmful to those forms of life, and generating profits from the labor of others is harmful to those people. Human life is immoral.
I’m aware that the economic argument here is “thin”. However, those interested in a fuller argument should read Sapiens by Harari. He shows how quality of life has degenerated in many ways with the increase in organized labor, causing harm to those who are organized.
It is fairly clear that life as a whole is immoral. We cannot expect anything else with billions of creatures all striving to exist, mainly at the expense of each other. This is the way the game has been set up – mutual harm is the only way to continue with this carnival of carnage.