What is ethics or morals, and how does what matters in life depend on it?
At the most straightforward level ethics is values. Ethics say what is of value and how to value it.
The values we hold are what ascribe meaning to our existence; ethics provide a framework for purpose and meaning.
Valuing cannot be neutral. There is no way to appreciate the value of anything without implicit judgment.
As soon as there is value, there is a hierarchy. There are many object-gradations between: trash and treasure; friendship and loneliness; wisdom and ignorance. There are also subject-gradations, for example between: like and unlike; need and indifference. These gradations of value and valuing are dependent on evaluations and judgments.
Therefore, to care about anything is to be moral.
This is why many argue that love is the highest moral value, and it makes sense because love is our ultimate expression of valuing.
Even though love is hard to define, and it seems to mean different things to different people, what cuts through its ambiguity is that it stands for our highest form of valuing. What I love, is what I value above all else.
The problem with placing love itself at the top of the moral hierarchy of values is that love is subjective. Everyone loves differently. As the cliche goes “One person’s trash is another’s treasure.” Giving the moral throne to love as the summit of all values is the cause for the avalanche of reasoning that buries many well-intentioned lovers in the nihilistic rubble of moral relativism.
Why do I argue that valuing life is more valuable than valuing love? Actually, I would prefer to say, “valuing life is more purposeful than valuing love,” or to put it another way: to love life is more ethical than to love love. Because life is objective.
I must be alive to… anything: to think, to feel and even to be and especially to love. To be alive is the pre-prerequisite for any value. Anchoring value to anything but life is at the root of all moral confusion.
Why is it so hard to see that the love of life is the ground of all value? Even love is just a boat without a sail on a sea without land if it is the love of love itself. To love, or to value greatly, is meaningless without Being.
To value life above all else is the ultimate expression of love. To love life is the essential purpose of all beings. The love of life is a simple and universal moral code that applies equally to aliens, dogs, intelligent A.I.s, mothers and modern lovers because the “ing” of all beings is life.