exalt v (transitive) 1 to raise or elevate in rank, position, dignity, etc 2 to praise highly; glorify; extol 3 to stimulate the mind or imagination of; excite 4 to increase the intensity of (a colour, etc) 5 to fill with joy or delight; elate 6 (obsolete) to lift up physically
Etymology: C15: from Latin exaltāre to raise, from altus high
I came to this word while researching sublimation. For my purpose, exalt is a much better fit. In sublimation I was looking for a word that express an idea like elevation: the feeling, aspiration or drive to reach high above the crowds. For example, some philosophers hold that for Plato, the objective of the soul, and its role in our lives, is to sublimate itself above the earthly needs and impulses of the bodies. I will not discuss the existence of the soul, of its possible roles, or anything related to it in this short text. Instead, I am openly wondering if a certain sense of exaltation is not something we all ought to aim for: an ethical idea.
First of all the definition itself. In condensing the above 6 definitions we can arrive at a lingo of exaltation: a willingful increase of psychological, social, physical, artistic status. The notion expressed thus potentially affect our identities in broad terms.
Second, consider the following conditional: if by seeking for exaltation in a wide range of domains – and what is more interconnected than layers upon layers of human psychology concepts? – we can place ourselves above the commons, then aren’t we obliged to aim for such exaltation? By aiming to transform ourselves into better persons, we actively participate in the betterment (sic) of humanity. This is assuming that being elated (happy), extolled (recognized), stimulated (engaged) is good for us and makes us better beings, but I imagine this is not as controversial as to require expansion.
Therefore – third and last – we can draw a natural link between our own exaltation and the ethical framework we want to elaborate for ourselves. A personal model of ethics can be based on a constant and unending drive to be better.
In my view of ethics, we are responsible for developing our own system of oughts and oughts not. By using an attempt to exalt ourselves, we are indeed aiming for a higher level of personal ethics. As I strongly link ethics with happiness, perhaps we have a way to reach a higher level of happiness by continually reach higher levels in society.
There is an association with the physicality of the human being. If exaltation has a physical dimension, then the view I develop is also tending towards hedonism. Although it is often seen with a critical eye, physical intensity that hedonism imply is arguably a good thing: a healthy mind in a healthy body. As therefore along with a responsibility to be striving for social and psychological, an ethical outlook should include a physical element. So much for Socrates.
This is of course a very raw and approximate view, it needs refining. This is also something I am more and more inclined to believe: our responsibility to improve in every area possible, and hence our responsibility to derive rightness and happiness from it.