The Ethical Context
The force of Idealism is to give hope that humanity will be able to discover not only how to govern the world but also how to establish a morality. For Plato, it is not possible to vote, even in a democracy, on what is Advantageous, Beautiful, Good, Just, and True, because these Ideas are defined in a dimension other than the one in which humans think. Scientific truth demands more than a vote among the scholars, because it depends on systems of validation produced by an experimental method that only the experts know how to apply. In such a system, the individual spontaneously grants himself the right to be beyond social directives as soon as a rule is defined in an interpersonal dimension. At the end of World War II, it became evident that following the laws instituted by the Nazis and the Communists were incompatible with moral behavior. An individual saw fit to protect Jewish refugees who were pursued by the state. In France, although the government had signed a peace treaty with the invading Germans, many people decided, in the name of an individual and interpersonal (religious, existentialist, humanistic, etc.) conviction to form pockets of resistance against the invader. For these people, it was moral to disobey the law. The difficulty in such a situation is to determine what is moral and who decides what is moral.
The seductive side of the Idealist analysis of moral responsibility is that it allows one to foresee the possibility of explaining a pertinent morality for everybody; that is, as soon as we designate an instance capable of translatingâ what is inscribed in the transpersonal dimension. Once we accept this act of faith, it becomes possible to be convinced that we are able to discern good from evil. This approach remains, in the final analysis, the only one that the conscious mind of individual humans can assume. It is difficult to solicit the responsibility of citizens without having the impression that each one can have a sense of responsibility, an intuition about what is just.