Creative Potential Ethics

Emotions and Creative Potential

This is the third part in a five part series on Creative Potential Ethics, a development of utilitarianism where the sum of individuals’ capacities to create is used as the utility function. We previously looked at the history of utilitarianism and some of the objections against utilitarianism. This is a work in progress. If you have comments or suggestions, please e-mail me.

One of the problems with utilitarianism is how to determine the value of the utility function in a practical way. It turns out that in Creative Potential Ethics, our emotions perform this function.

The emotional sense

Emotion is a sense that perceives creative potential. The more possibilities you see for your future, the better you feel. We hold in our mind at least two kinds of thoughts of the future. A desired future is an aggregate of events and circumstances we desire to occur. An imagined future is an aggregate of events and circumstances we believe to be possible or likely to occur. An emotions is the result of the interaction of these two thoughts. The complex of our emotions is brought about by the variety of emotions we have about different aspects of our lives.

When you feel “on top of the world,’ you feel like anything is possible. There is nothing you cannot do. Your creative potential can be fully realized. All avenues for self-expression are open. Your desired future is fully contained in your imagined future.

At the other end of the scale is despair. Despair is the worst possible emotion. Nothing is possible. You perceive your creative potential is completely curtailed. Every avenue for expression has been cut off. Your imagined future contains nothing of your desired future.

Between these two extremes there is an entire spectrum of emotions that represent a certain relationship between desired and imagined future. For example:

What are usually considered ‘positive’ emotions are related to expansion of our capacity or realization of our potential for creative expression. ‘Negative’ emotions are related to reduction in our capacity or the inability to realize our potential for creative expression.

Emotions are not necessarily egoistic. Everyone likes to see their loved ones happy, too. Parents want to see their children achieve their greatest potential. Whether we feel good or bad depends on the condition of everyone and everything we care about.

Emotions and freedom

There are three kinds of boundaries that delimit the space of possibilities that our emotions measure.

The distinction between these three types of boundaries is rather vague and more one of degree of the scale of their application.

The quest for creative expression

The starting point of utilitarianism is that pleasure is the one fundamental desire. The ambiguity in the term ‘pleasure’ has given rise to much confusion. Given that happiness is derived from creative potential, we can rephrase this in terms that are not as easily misinterpreted.

Every person's behavior is motivated by and only by a desire for creative expression.

The aim is not necessarily to achieve the highest productivity. What is important is that an individual’s intention or desire for expression can be fulfilled.

Creative Potential as Utility

Possible objections

Like any other sense, emotional perception can be distorted. Most instances where Creative Potential Ethics appears to violate our common sense moral judgement are a result of such distortions.

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