Maarten van Doorn, glad you enjoyed it!

A thorough response to your insightful comment would require a Socratic-style inquiry into various definitions. Also, I must admit that this piece was, in part, exploratory. I am also fascinated in evolutionary etiologies of value and morality. Jordan Peterson’s work introduced me to the ideas of Dostoyevsky and Jung. Dostoyevsky’s arguments (generally speaking) seem quite sound. I would break with him on the subject of religion (I would claim that the various Pagan modes of worship constitute the metaphysical substructures of various cultures).

Recently, I have been reading Jung’s Psychology and Alchemy. I have yet to finish that work and do not claim a deep understanding of the work. However, I do think it is relevant to your question in that a psychological analysis of alchemy does yield valuable insights with respect to the emergence of values and morality. Just as the medieval alchemists sought the prima materia (primitive formless matter) through experimentation to isolate the substance, so too an search for the foundations of morality require a psychological analysis into the development of values.

The notion of transmutation is also important. The alchemists of old sought to transform base metals into noble metals. A literal interpretation of this process results in the conclusion that such practices as the search for the philosopher’s stone is mere proto- (or pseudo-) science. A psychological approach from a Jungian perspective yields greater value. Perhaps the noble metals, such as gold, are symbolic of the value which can be extracted from baser things. Suppose this is true for morality: moral values are the gold which can be extracted from prosocial behavior.

What I see in Plato’s Form of the Good, the Christian God, the Hermetic and Gnostic writings, in Perennial Philosophy is this notion that theoretical moral values must, in some sense or another, be abstracted from action.

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