Reason is Not Tautological (PART TWO): How to separate true tautologies from fake ones

I have heard it said, or at least implied, that reason is tautological. And this most often, in my experience, by those espousing the “efficacy” and “truth” of eastern philosophy (mysticism), which they present as a counter-means of interpreting reality to that of western “logic”. What they mean by this–that is, reason’s tautology–is that reason is reason simply because it is reasonable. That is, it is defined by merely naming itself. Like, when you ask why God is good, and someone answers by saying “because He is God”.  This is, at first glance, fundamentally a non-answer. Because the “answer” simply circles back to the assertion. The assertion then has no proof because it is unsupported by an exposition wherein it conforms to a set of criteria, defined according to a specific context, so that its efficacy can be demonstrated, even if it be done so conceptually. In which case the assertion is not an assertion at all because it cannot be applied to anything, practically speaking, outside of itself. So it’s just…nonsense. It’s nothing. It’s void. Irrelevance.

Of course we must be careful when making accusations of tautology. Because what may seem tautological on the surface (like reason, or God’s goodness) may not actually be so. A good way to vet this claim of a thing being labeled a tautology can be to ask a different question…one that had you answered it first, would have nullified any point of the first question.

For example, if we ask “Why is God good?”, and the answer is “Because He is God”…well, instead of immediately calling tautology you may want to ask “Who or what is God?”. And the answer to this question may answer the other.  That is, if we can properly define God then we will also know precisely why He is good.

The same, I submit, is true for reason. If we have a definition of reason–a definition that makes sense, not according to reason but according to the concept “definition”–what qualifies as “being defined”–then we will know precisely why reason is itself reasonable. The apparent tautology is resolved. I have found that this tactic is a great way to separate the true tautologies from the merely presumptive ones.

Here is a true tautology.

Man is totally depraved–total depravity being the common Christian (most popularly Protestant) metaphysic. And see, this is key. Total depravity is not merely one characteristic among many of human beings. It is humanity. It is man’s irreducible ontological state. So the answer to the question “Why is man totally depraved?”, is “Because he is man”. And thus you shall then ask, “Okay. So what is man?”. And the answer, because depravity is indeed a metaphysical assertion according to the doctrine, is  “Man IS depravity“.

And this, my friends, is what a true tautology looks like. Man is depraved because he is depravity. What is man? Depravity. What is depravity? Depravity is man. Both concepts are thus destroyed because they infinitely circle back upon themselves. They have no relevance to reality whatsoever because they cannot be defined; they cannot be contextualize. They are made “distinct” and yet no distinction is able to be provided. This wrecks them both. And thus the assertion that man is depraved becomes a logical fallacy.

Reason, on the other hand, is a false tautology.

Why is reason reasonable?

Because it’s reason.

What is reason?

Ah…good question. Reason is conceptual consistency. It is the combination of any given number of abstract (like “left” or “happiness”) and/or material (like “tree” or “Joey Ramone”) concepts in a way in which the concepts do not contradict themselves (e.g. “Joey Ramone took a right at the corner, which was in a leftward direction.”) in order to convey an idea to one who shares your existential frame of reference (that is, another conscious/moral agent).

And this is the real answer to the question “Why is reason reasonable?”. The real answer is: because it doesn’t contradict its own definition. Nor, I would add, is anyone who affirms the validity of reason suggesting, as far as I can tell, that it is its own definition. Reason, defined, is not “reason”, and I know of no one who has suggested such a thing aside from the mystics who (falsely) claim that it’s tautological. Reason is conceptual consistency. It is the integration of ideas which do not self-nullify.

“Reason”, then, is simply the term given to why communication between moral and conscious agents is actually possible.

Reason is Not Tautological: Reason as its own proof is not fallacy, but logic (PART ONE)

If reason is a fallacy, then the question becomes:

What standard is it supposed to have violated?

Well, there is only one standard it could logically violate in order to be proven untrue. And that standard is, of course…itself. Reason must violate reason–rational and logical consistency–in order to be shown untrustworthy.

But how does that work, exactly?

This argument I submit inevitably appeals to the very thing claimed false (reason) in order to prove that it’s false.

?!?!

Okay, let me put it this way. As I figure it, those who want to argue that reason merely affirms itself by being itself, and is therefore tautological, must make their argument by either–

A. Appealing to reason–that is, to logic and rational consistency–as proof that reason is in fact unreasonable.

Or–

B. Appealing to non-reason. That is, asserting that in order to be reasonable–to be rationally consistent and logical–reason must not actually conform to reason. In other words, they must assert that reason, if we wish it to be reasonable (true), must actually be UNreasonable. And so they have essentially surrendered the argument altogether by claiming that what is true is not actually referenced to reason, because they have declared that truth is not a function of reason–of rational consistency and logic.  And therefore, if this is the case, then any assertion at all must be accepted as true. Which…makes the assertion that “reason is in fact reasonable and that this is the only way we can really know truth” entirely consistent with their definition of truth and their interpretation of reality. So why are they bothering to argue that it’s not?

Neither A nor B holds any measure of veracity or efficacy for the assertion that reason is false and flawed because it’s a tautological. All it does is reveal that those who look outside of reason for answers to their questions really haven’t yet apprehended the fact that truth needs a reference. In which case, their questions don’t actually make any sense. For example, if you deny that mathematics is of any practical use, and must be untrustworthy because it’s tautological, then there’s no point in asking how far it is to Albuquerque.

Reason, you see, like mathematics, is not a tautology…not a logical flaw. It is, rather, a standard. And this means that its ability to conform to itself is not a failure of itself, but is instead merely proof that it is in fact a good standard.

Stay tuned for part 2!

The Paradox of Existential Plurality

The following is a true paradox, not a contradiction in terms presented as a paradox because some people are too lazy to fully and properly think it through. (And by “some people” I mean many scientists, as well as most (other) religious people, especially and including Christians.) 

A thing which has no parts cannot exist; and therefore all things must contain an infinite number of parts.

Free Societies vs Tyrannies are Measured on a Bell Curve: Why all States are tyrannies at root

Force is both the ideological and practical root of government, which is why all governments are fundamentally tyrannical, with “free” vs “oppressive” states measured merely in terms of degrees of force. That is, the amount of violence applied to compel individual compliance to the necessarily subjective, and therefore capricious, dictates of the State is the rubric for whether or not a State is considered a tyranny, not the absence of violent coercion, which is the only actual measure, I submit.

Now, the lower the degree of force would seem to indicate the reciprocal: a greater amount of freedom. However, this is not really the case. “Freedom” in a state which uses less overt violence to compel obedience suggests not more freedom, but merely less overt forms of control. This can be anything from subliminal or implied violence which never manifests because of fear, or more effective thought control–that is, a greater prevailing assumption amongst the populace that they are somehow free, in spite of the object and obvious fact that government, by nature and by design, depends upon the exact opposite. (On a side note, having a “Constitution” which “guarantees” specific individual freedoms, which the ruling class and its witting and unwitting advocates can reference when the state is accused of mendacious largess, and which ostensibly integrates individual freedom with the force of government even though these are clearly mutually exclusive concepts, is very helpful in spreading the specious notion of a free society under the absolute auspices of violent coercion.) In addition, I suppose it’s possible that less overt force might simply be due to the fact that the state hasn’t yet fully evolved into the inevitable (and therefore ipso facto) tyranny of which the philosophy undergirding it demands.

But here is why tyranny, regardless of how it may be perceived by the great unwashed masses, is always categorical at an given moment:

Force, as a metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, and political basis–that is, the rank philosophical foundation of government–is absolute, and thus the underlying real degree of tyranny is always complete. For without absolute tyranny, which I define as the fundamental “right” to compel behavior by force (violence), there can be no such thing as government. Remove force, and people are not organized by command, but by cooperation. And cooperating is NOT the same thing as being governed.

Under government, all human actions can occur  only when the government allows it. This is total tyranny. Period. And because the auspices of violence are absolute by virtue of the underwriting philosophy, all actions of people existing within a society organized according to governing principles, which are rooted in the power of the state to force, are necessarily absolutely violently compelled.

Unfortunately, as long as people confuse comfort, or even “relative freedom”, with freedom, there will be no freedom.

As long as freedom is plotted on a bell curve, there can be no such thing.

“A is A”…as opposed to what?: Why “A is A” is a woefully insufficient metaphysical assertion

A is A only because it is not B.

This would be the rational way of rendering the famous metaphysical claim.

Remove B, and A cannot be defined as A. Because A, in a vacuum of itself, has no comparative attributes…it is not relative to anything else, which means that A has no distinct location…for it is infinite. Its left is its right, its inside is its outside, its top is its bottom.  And thus if A cannot be said to exist somewhere, it cannot be said to exist at all. Further, if A is A, and infinitely so, then it cannot be valued. It is…to an infinitely exclusive degree. It has exceeded the possibility of its own “existence”, again, to an infinite degree.

All of this is simply to say that is impossible to say what something (like A) is unless you know what it is not.

Therefore, A always and necessarily and absolutely implies B. A cannot exist, because it cannot be known or relevant, without a comparative and relative distinction from B.

This means that the claim that A is A is incomplete at best. At worst, it is a lie which ruins Truth.

Voluntarism: A brief series of arguments for why government for man’s good is a contradiction in terms

The presumption behind all government is that men, absent the “fail safe” of forced compliance to moral behavior (which is a contradiction in terms, because force nullifies choice; and without choice there is no moral act) must necessarily act to exploit others because man’s–that is, the individual’s–root nature is base and mendacious. This assumption has many problems, not the least of which is that it does not explain how those in government get a moral pass on their own inherent depravity.

Further, it also implies and then forces a collective identity because all governments must exist for a “collective” or “common good”, which, being outside the natural context of the individual, must fundamentally be defined as an esoteric standard, available fully only to those in authority (governing officers, who are really a sort of a political priesthood) who claim to represent this Common Good as its messengers and ministers.  However, the very fact that the collective good as a moral standard must elude the individual because of his inexorably and self-evidentiary singular existential and metaphysical context, means that the “common good”cannot possibly be manifest. Because of the singular nature of human existence, each person must decide for himself what is good or not, based upon a rational Standard of Good, which is the Individual, which means each person’s inexorable and absolute right to their ownership of Self. “Common good” must be forced upon the individual in object violation of their individuality, destroying them in favor of the new statist metaphysic: collectivism, as a function of the power (violence) of the State. This in turn undermines and eventually crumbles these governments which exist in service to “common good” because whether collectivists want to acknowledge it or not, without the individual, there is no public; there is no “common” society. Which means that there is no “common good”. Thus, all States founded upon such a moral standard are rooted in a contradiction which, beyond its label, can have absolutely no substance.

And there is no government which is not a function of collective identity, and thus “collective” or “common good”. Because such a government could only act and exist to serve the specific individual at any given moment. And there is nothing which can do that except the individual himself. In which case, it’s not a government, it’s free will; its cooperation; it’s voluntarism.

*

The root problem of government is that it necessarily implies that men, absent force, cannot be expected to make moral choices; and therefore there is no moral standard that doesn’t ultimately rest upon violent coercion. This destroys man at his root metaphysic. It means that man must be compelled to morality, which is the corollary of Truth, in spite of himself. That is, in spite of his nature. That is, in spite of his existence. Meaning man cannot successfully exist unless the very  substance of that existence, his nature, is destroyed. Man must cease to exist in order that he may exist.

And it is upon this terrible contradiction that all governments are built.

*

The use of force to compel moral actions is an object contradiction in terms. Absent choice, morality is a nullified concept. And an outcome not based upon a free act of the will of the moral and self-aware agent is not a moral outcome. That which denies the individual his individuality–that is, his free agency–cannot be said to ultimately benefit any individual.

*

On the one hand, those who argue the necessity and efficacy of government will assert that men are by nature lacking virtue–“ineptitude and vices of men”, as von Mises once said–and therefore cannot be trusted to engage voluntarily into a moral sociopolitical system. And yet government, which is a collection of those very same men men, is somehow not naturally lacking virtue.

How does one square this circle?  How do we resolve the contradiction that says that men need government because they lack fundamental virtue; and yet government is comprised of men? How is it mere paradox instead of rank fallacy that individuals won’t naturally choose good, but collections (the governors and the governed) of individuals will?

*

If it’s true that men, left to themselves, will necessarily dissolve into all manner of vice (murder, theft, deceit, and your basic general exploitation) then the last thing I would think makes sense is to give a minority of men the majority of violent, coercive power. You’d have to assume that those men could wield it righteously in order for good to be the rational outcome.

But of course as soon as you assume this you’ve undermined the fundamental moral (and metaphysical) argument for government in the first place:

That man left to himself, by nature (man qua man), will not act righteously.

*

Absent the foundational and absolute right to violence to compel behavior, there is no government in any capacity. This being the case, force against man is not really minimized, as some minarchists argue is the benefit of government, it is absolute.

*

I think we confuse the right of collective self-defense with the right to compel behavior by violence or threats of violence before any actual offense occurs.

*

The idea that there is no free market absent the ever-present threat of violence, which I submit is itself a form of violence, seems a contradiction in terms. How is man either free or moral if he acts out of fear of violating the State and not because he understands it is wrong to violate another man? The State is not the moral standard, the individual is.

And I’m not saying the state is evil. I’m saying that forced morality is a contradiction in terms. Which means the state is neither evil nor good. It’s impossible because it is a contradiction.

*

The moral do not need to be governed, for they are moral. The immoral will not, or cannot, recognize the State’s moral authority. This means that the only way for the State to “work” is if it threatens the first and neutralizes the second. And neither action equals freedom by any legitimate definition. So you merely get a State which exists for the sake of its own power; its own legal “right” to violence for the sake of violence.