Recently, I posted a comment on John Immel’s blog, http://www.spiritualtyranny.com, under the article “Welcome to the Problem of Universals”, which you can access here. John then responded to my comment, and I responded back this morning. My last comment is still in moderation limbo. Not content with this, I have decided to post my comment here, for those of you who care. I know that some of you who read here also read on John’s site, so I feel compelled, I admit, to finish this conversation, even if it means using my own blog as the platform. I have been doing this blogging/commenting thing for several years now, and I have learned that the amount of time one lets a comment languish in moderation is inversely proportional to the level of people’s commitment to the discussion. In this sense then, moderating someone can equate to a form of passive aggression, and a means of manipulating the debate. Not that we can ever really know that this is actually what’s happening (not that knowing matters…the fact still remains, the longer a comment goes unpublished, to less effective the comment will be, because of the naturally waning interest of other readers). I mean, for all I know, John may be on a honeymoon. But since I understand the benefits of being the gatekeeper of a discussion, determining not only what can be said but when, I would like to try to mitigate this as much as possible. So, here we are. If a comment of mine is not posted on the original blog for which it was intended by, say, the late evening of the day in which it was originally submitted, I will post it here. Now, in this case, it is particularly important that I do so. As you will see, John essentially accuses me of sharing philosophical identities with Marxism (he actually specifies Hume and Kant, but I suspect these are names one uses when they want to accuse someone of Marxism without actually referring to Marx). I reject this entirely for the rank nonsense it is; but the reason for the accusation has everything to do with John not particularly understanding–nor even attempting to understand (because he makes no attempt to point out any inconsistencies in my thinking)–my perspective. This I submit has to do with his full-on concession that the foundations of philosophical thinking have already been established, and there is nothing else to be said in this regard. The only thing left to do is pound one’s opponent with ordinance that hasn’t changed significantly in the past thousand years or so. In other words, you think within the boundaries of institutionally accepted metaphysical and epistemological theories, or you are disqualified automatically. It is akin to a music theorist telling a musician that he or she cannot put two specific notes together, not because they actually sound bad within the context of the song, but simply because music theory doesn’t have a formula which allows for it. This argument is ridiculous for obvious reasons, and bears no further commentary. I concede that only the individual human being is the rational Standard of Truth; that is, the yardstick by which any belief, idea, opinion, concept, or faith can be actually and efficaciously known as both true and ethical (or, conversely, by which these things can be known as false and evil). Period. How I get there is by proclaiming that man, by his powers of conceptualization, starting with the primary concept of the SELF, gives meaning and value to his environment, and that he thus is not a product of that environment as the empiricists and Objectivists would have you believe. For if man is a function of his environment, then man cannot actually be a distinct SELF. He is doomed to the determinist forces which govern all of “objective reality OUTSIDE of himself”. And further, a reality OUTSIDE of man cannot be known nor defined by man by definition, because it is OUTSIDE of him, and thus cannot include him. And so what is the point of the fucking conversation anyway? Why is John so committed to pointing out my inherent Marxism, as though he can even be in an epistemological position to observe it, according to his own ideas? If man is OUTSIDE reality, which is the explicit assumption behind appeals to a reality which is “real” whether man exists or acknowledges it or not, then the question “does reality exist?” is unanswerable on its face. But as we shall see, John doesn’t come within a million miles of even acknowledging this implicit rational flaw. Anyway…somehow, I’m communist. And somehow this idea, that the INDIVIDUAL is the only rightful owner and definer of his or her own life–and that it is the ability of one to conceptualize his or her existence which makes all humans equal and thus negates as immoral all violations of other people–will lead to inevitable bloodshed, tyranny, and heartache for everyone on earth. Amen. Well…look, I’m not a philosopher. I never said I was. I have never claimed any formal education and I have been entirely up front about the fact that I know fuck all about most of your major philosophical players. And if you think I’m sitting through Plato’s Republic, you might as well go dig a hole and fill it in with fairy dust. Because…no way. I have not spent many wee hours of the night sitting by candlelight in the Library of Congress and pouring over old manuscripts until my eyes bleed. I care nothing for dissertations and theses on these subjects. Could give a shit. I have simple questions concerning the rank contradictions which blaze forth, not from arcane writings in long forgotten textbooks on long forgotten shelves in long forgotten libraries in institutions of intellectual snobbery, but from everyday ideas, implemented to destructive effect, which is the efficacious and relevant conclusion of all of the esoteric blather when all is said and done. I don’t need a dissertation or a canon of philosophical dogma. I only need to turn on the fucking TV or open a newspaper. Within four minutes I’ll be inundated with the causal effect of time; or the cosmic, determined imperative that I submit to some abstract political, collectivist ideal; or I will be told under some stupid science article that the universe is a a trillion years old and yet in the same article I’ll be told that time was created AFTER the Big Bang, which means the universe could not be a trillion years old because the question “a trillion years from when?” cannot possibly be answered. So to hell with your shelf of books. Riddle me these things. All the bullshit need not apply. I don’t want appeals to intellectual or educational pedigree (see John’s response below). I don’t want the rhetoric of “if you only understood what I understand you would accept that you are all wrong”. I shouldn’t have to study philosophy in some stuffy formal setting for years on end before the geniuses can answer a simple question like: If man is a function of the laws of nature which govern, how can he in fact be distinct? Or: Of what efficacy and relevance is observation without a definition of WHAT is observing and WHAT is being observed? That is, without a conceptual paradigm grounded in a Standard of Truth by which “observation” and “reality” and “SELF” and “truth” and “objective”, can have any meaning in the first place. And: If there is no definition of any of these ideas without first their conceptualization, then just how can we know that observation comes first in the epistemological chain? How do you define something without conceptualizing it? How is man actually man without a definition of man? How do we “observe” that which lacks any definition? I could go on and on, but you get the idea. And for all of John’s words, I’m still waiting for the superior intellects to answer. I know they may seem complicated, but these are really not hard questions. They are only hard when we have already decided that the QUESTIONS are in fact, the answers. That is, contradiction is the root metaphysical and epistemological primary. And, don’t doubt me, John fully accepts the contradictions, because they are grounded in “objective reality” as he defines it. And so once again, the philosopher kings get to define the terms. Contradictions aren’t contradictions as long as the “right” people with the “right” philosophy (e.g. those philosophies, like Objectivism, which toot their horns as the moral antipode of Marxism) are in charge of them. Your continued objections are merely proof that you are intellectually insufficient; that you have not been “given the grace to perceive”. And this is why nothing changes. Because as soon as you dare to question the idea that man gets his truth from his ability to observe, as opposed to his ability to conceptualize or reason, you are a Marxist, ’nuff said. And that’s the point of John’s entire comment. I have denied the senses as THE singular source of truth, so I must be a moral relativist. I must concede that there is no truth. And he sees absolutely nothing beyond that. Which is a shame. As soon as one condemns man to his senses for his truth, he condemns man to WHAT those senses sense. Man becomes fully a product of what is NOT him…that which is outside of himself. Which destroys the SELF, by definition. I, however, submit that man himSELF is the source of his truth, and nothing else. Not his environment; not his senses; not his God…nothing. Man IS, period. And it is by knowing that you ARE, because you can define what you are, that you can BE YOU; and you can think, and you can do and you can choose. And knowledge is conceptual. Not because it is my opinion, but because it must be. There is no definition which is not ultimately a conceptual definition. This is not up for debate. This is not subjective. Sorry. And whatever John says Kant or Hume or Marx thinks about that, I just don’t fucking care. That’s not my problem. I will not be pigeon-holed into the either/or dichotomy John Immel’s philosophy demands. That is, you are either essentially an Objectivist or you are a rank Marxist. That’s just plain weak. Answer the questions; explain the contradictions. That’s your only moral and intellectual obligation. Not to appeal to your vast educational experience, or to draw up new textbooks for us all to ponder until the wee hours of our life’s winter years. Not to tell us how we need to agree that if we only understood what you understand, we’d put down our raised hands and go back to knitting those shawls or rebuilding those carburetors or head back to the movies. Explain why your contradictions aren’t actually contradictions…and if that takes a while, by all means, we’ll wait. In case you didn’t notice, I have over two hundred and fifty essays on this blog. I’ve got nothing but time. So, take yours. By all means. * Here is my first comment wherein I respond to a question John asks in his article. The question is, “Does reality exist?”.
So far we’ve learned that entering into structured relationships…
[Wrong…everyone knows that according to the doctrine of Total Depravity, truth must be bestowed, because it cannot be learned…human beings are intellectually incapable of learning truth by nature.]
…is critical for spiritual progress and those relationships need to be open, honest, and accepting.
[Traits, again, by nature impossible for those who are TOTALLY depraved.]
That’s the kind of environment that encourages us…
[Actually terrifies us, but we are too “re-educated” to know the difference.]
…to become all that God wants us to be.
[And apparently, God wants us to be DEAD, because the crux of this doctrine–and make no mistake–is the CATEGORICAL sacrifice of the individual SELF to the collective as ruled by His human proxies, which the unredeemed masses cannot, AGAIN, BY FUCKING NATURE, and shall not, distinguish from the real thing.]
But the journey from here to there will be far from smooth. The propensity to drift…
[Your “sin nature”…which, which the Bible never defines to my satisfaction, if I’m being honest.]
…is in all of us. That’s another reason to live in community.
[Er…let me get this straight. The reason to live in community is so that a bunch of totally depraved God-hating reprobates–who all have an equal measure (absolute measure) of the “propensity to drift” residing within them–will somehow, simply by being herded under one soaring, ostentatious roof with a giant LED screen in front with Big fucking Brother babbling on and on about our sacred duty to navel gazing and self-loathing, magically transmogrify into a fluffy, glittering pure white mist of of sweet-smelling holiness acceptable to God? My word…I cannot believe people fall for this codswallop; that I fell for it. Crimey…He must be sick with laughter. I mean, this is undeniable proof that human beings could not possibly have been created by God in the premeditated, determined sense. Who could worship a God who determines man to actively and methodically seek his own destruction? For indeed, to purposely dismantle and consign to nothingness that which one purposely creates to in fact be something which is NOT nothing, is, I submit, impossible for God. God cannot create something that is purposed to be nothing! Which is what the doctrine of Total Depravity screams! He is NOT omnipotent thus, because He simply cannot do such a mad thing and rationally impossible thing; and this for the simple fact that God is neither insane nor a fucking idiot].
When we start to get off track…
[Inevitably, it is assumed…see? “When”, not “if”. Speaks volumes. I mean, really, this is Marxism 101 shit. People are fuck-ups by nature, so we need to control them; compel-force-threaten–terrify–blackmail–them into “right” thinking and behavior. And to whom this task falls is a cosmic lottery, so to speak. So who become these lucky royals and debs? Why, those who are called by the Primary Consciousness (that which “divinely” bestows the enlightened “Word”…the gnosis), of course.]
…,when commitment and conviction…
[To the ecclesiastical “authority”, who make a living pretending to be God.]
…start to wane, we need to be surrounded by people who will be there to pull us back.
[And since all the laity is Totally Depraved, even after salvation, the only ones in a position to “pull us back” are, again, the elders (or pastors, or priests, or whatever the fuck they call themselves these days in the protestant cults…whatever makes the totalitarianism easier to swallow) who ominously warn, “You better watch out; you better not cry; you better not shout; and you better damn tithe.]
Now, here is the quote without the (much warranted) heckling from moi.
“So far we’ve learned that entering into structured relationships is critical for spiritual progress and those relationships need to be open, honest, and accepting. That’s the kind of environment that encourages us to become all that God wants us to be. But the journey from here to there will be far from smooth. The propensity to drift is in all of us. That’s another reason to live in community. When we start to get off track.”
(p. 31, Community: Your pathway to progress; North Point Ministries, 2008).
Keeping with the Total Depravity theme, and continuing with the most excellent and infinitely amusing pastime of bashing this bullshit doctrine to smithereens, let’s hone in on this manipulative doozy:
“The propensity to drift is in all of us.”
Bullshit! How the fuck do they know?! Have they met everyone in the whole world?!
Of course not. They are appealing to the mysticism which passes for “theology” in the Christian religion today (and, pretty much ALL days since, at the very least, Augustine). The idea is that they have this “special knowledge” that is measured only by the yardstick of “infallible scripture”…which is really just an appeal to a particular interpretation of said scripture which they do not wish to defend, because it utterly defies reason and rational argument and they fucking know it:
“I know, let’s tell them our opinions are not really ours, but the Bible’s, which is code for “God’s”, which is code for “infallible”, which is code for “don’t disagree…don’t you dare”, which is code for… “die, heretic!”.”
All of this is first and foremost predicated upon the lie you are fed bit by bit from the day you were born until this: that you are metaphysically and thus epistemologically insufficient for apprehending and appropriating goodness or truth. And this is the sum and substance of the doctrine of Total Depravity. And it is used, to great and terrible effect, upon all men in all places of all creeds and all kings.
Thus, alakazam! Poof! (As John Immel says.) DISCIPLINE, PUNISHMENT, FEAR, COERCION!. Which translated for the unreformed rebels among us is: COMMUNITY, ACCOUNTABILITY, AUTHORITY, COVERING! Which gets a full lathering and a fresh coat of calcimine in pretty little Marxist primers like “Community: Your pathway to progress.” Sent out to quiet suburban neighborhoods everywhere. Devils as angels, and so it goes.
Welcome to the Christian Orthodox Ideal, circa United States, 2015.
Happy fucking new year. Same as the old year.
Chance, examined rationally, is a non-existent agency; a concept, not an actuality in nature, and therefore does not describe how the material reality which is man’s universe actually manifest as “events” or “outcomes”. It is a figment–a concept of man’s mind; a way he organizes his surroundings in order to subdue them in service to his own affirmation, promotion, propagation, and comfort (for individual man is the only rational Standard of Truth,and thus himself is that which must be affirmed by his own concepts). So it is useful, perhaps on an emotional level, in abstractly organizing our lives with respect to choices made on behalf of certain desired outcomes, but it cannot be rationally credited with having any real power–that is, causal power–over any event or series of events.
Now, I realize that many of us will think this obvious and simple logic. But when we consider how often our realities are expressed in, and our choices and beliefs guided by, ratios, the “cause and effect” paradigm, actuarial tables, various mathematical renderings of probabilities, gambits and gambles, we can see just how an innocent concept such as “chance”, meant to perhaps describe, not govern, is assumed and defined almost subconsciously as having some kind of control; of BEING some kind of existent force of nature; that chance is somehow a legitimate means of knowing or having some kind of real control over the outcome of an event, process, or idea.
The ironically titled Law of Probability is often employed as a means of ensuring success in a wide range of endeavors (which is also ironical), from business, to politics, to sports, economics, and financial investments. And this is not necessarily an illegitimate use of the “chance” concept; but it does, due in large part to its complicated mathematical formulation, conflate the conceptual, purely abstract form of chance—which is its only true and rational form—and the “natural”, “actual”, “causal” form–which is a false and entirely irrational form. Still, I want to emphasize that I am not denying the emotional efficacy of the Law of Probability (though it is not literally efficacious to specific outcomes, because it doesn’t really exist…but rather MAN is efficacious to the promotion of himself, and he uses his conceptual Laws to accomplish this). And I’m not even suggesting that the law is intended to provide a specific outcome…it does not. But it is very often employed with the assumption that its use will raise the probability that the employer of the law will succeed more than he will fail. Which of course makes the Law of Probability subject to itself (for what is the probability that the Law of Probability will result in an increase in success with respect to a given objective?). And this of course is a contradiction in terms which results in an endless circular relationship, going nowhere and thus resulting in no useful or knowable thing. Which begs the question: How can we rationally expect any actual efficacy of the Law of Probability?
At any rate, in the interest of stripping “chance” of any right to be called casual, and thus a legitimate means of defending any belief or position, be it religion or atheism or science or philosophy or politics or or morality, or personal ambition, or anything, I have written this essay.
First, it is important to understand that the notion of chance can only be developed by observing what has already happened. That is, we cannot come up with ratios or probabilities or any quantifiable units of “chance” or “probability” without having engaged in some study of how objects interact prior to the notion of the “chances” of those interactions occurring or not occurring at some future time, or in what particular manner. And thus, I must admit I find it ironic that the notion of chance is developed by observing events in real time, whereby the events–ALL needing to have already happened prior to the “Law of Probability” being created and employed–have in reality absolutely nothing to do with chance at all. Chance then (and its formal development into a mathematical formula) is entirely irrespective of itself. Yes, I find this irony infinitely amusing. In other words, you can only develop the Law of Probability from what you absolutely know is true, empirically so–from that which renders chance itself utterly irrelevant. The Law of Probability itself therefore has zero to do with probability. And somehow, this seems fatally disconnected, logically speaking. Imagine a law of gravity which has nothing to do with gravity. Or a law of thermodynamics which doesn’t recognize the concept of temperature. Or Einstein’s famous equation, E=MC2, which doesn’t acknowledge energy, or mass, or the speed of light. Puzzling, to say the least. What HAS occurred is mutually exclusive of what MIGHT occur. But that doesn’t stop people from lauding and frantically employing probability as a means of ensuring the advantage. Because once you inject the magic of the great “Sovereign”, Mathematics, somehow that which is purely conceptual, ethereal, and illusory becomes real and empirically causal. By the power of that great scientific deity, the Equation, pure conceptual abstractions are popped into existence from literally nothing at all.
And they call people who believe in God mystics.
If an event occurs, then it, in a manner of speaking, has a 100% chance of occurring. Though, this is really an impossible contradiction in terms—obviously 100% “chance” equals the actual manifestation of the event in reality, at which point chance is moot. This of course renders chance as it pertains to the event entirely irrelevant. Similarly, if an event does not occur, then it, in a manner of speaking, has 0% chance of occurring. But this too is a contradiction in terms. An event which does not occur does not actually exist—that is, an event which does NOT occur–that is, is NOT–is a contradiction in terms. There is no such thing as an absence of a thing. And thus the event is not an event; it is nothing…and so yes, NOTHING, by definition, has ZERO chance of occurring. There is no chance that something which does not exist will ever exist. For existence and non-existence—a thing and the absence of a thing—are mutually exclusive; categorically and infinitely incompatible. Which make chance in this case—the 0% chance of an event occurring—not simply irrelevant, but the very concept of chance itself is again moot—is mathematically zero—is absent—is a purely placeholder–when we attempt to apply it to things that are observed to NOT be (again, a contradiction in terms I know—you cannot observe that which is absent—but you understand what I mean). Chance is BLANK.
And so, if an event occurs, then chance is beside the point. And if the event does not occur then chance is similarly rendered beside the point. The very concept then of the Law of Probability has irrelevance and impotence as its singularity, for as soon as an event is observed to be, or it becomes apparent that the event will not be–that is, is NOT–the Law ceases to have any relevancy. Which means that it cannot be said to have ever had any in the first place. The event and the Law of Probability regarding its occurrence are utterly mutually exclusive things. The Law has no actual power; and I might argue that it cannot really be rationally shown, and certainly not proven, to even have any theoretical power, because chance and probability and the conceptual constructs which represent them, do not internally acknowledge the existence of chance and probability in the first place.
My point is that chance and real events are mutually exclusive. Events either are—100%–or they are not—0%. And this, again, is utterly exclusive of chance, which can only “rationally” be expressed as a percentage of 1-99. That is, chance is only ostensibly “rational” as a percentage of event probability between 1 and 99%. But events, once they manifest as happening or as NOT happening (the absence of happening, or zero mathematical existence), either ARE or are NOT. Period. Events do not partially occur or partially NOT occur. A 50% chance of happening does not magically become a 100% chance of happening once the event is seen to occur. And a 50% chance of not happening does not magically become a 100% chance of not happening once the event is NOT seen to occur. Once an event does or does not occur, chance becomes entirely irrelevant. It becomes functionally nothing. Chance and events have nothing really to do with one another, and so all laws of probability are fundamentally flawed, I would argue. Chance has no causal, actual, nor, I submit, even theoretical power. It is an abstraction without a home. Perhaps not entirely useless, but entirely irrelevant, as it can never actually be shown to possess any efficacy, because its development has nothing whatsoever to do with with what it pretends to “effect”, so to speak.
Another example which may or may not prove helpful. Suppose a gunsmith designs a rifle which only works 90% of the time. Would we say that the rifle “works”…that is, as its general description? As its foundational essence? A working rifle? No, we would not. It is a broken rifle. (For it is a contradiction in terms to declare that a rifle is designed not to work, the gunsmith can qualify it as “working”. If you design something not to work, it’s still not working, even if you intended it to function that way. Further, if it was intentionally designed NOT to do what a rifle is legitimately supposed to do–shoot–then one could rightly call the designer, and thus the design, fundamentally flawed at the level of the very roots of reason.) The fact that it shoots properly 90% of the time does not change the fact that its essence is one of rank dysfunction. For the 10% of the time it does not work, in those instances, it 100% does not work, and thus, negates the idea that it can be labeled, ever, a working rifle…for 90% does not constitute a whole; that is 90% working is NOT working, by definition; and because the 100% dysfunction of the gun when not working must be applied to its essential description. “A working gun” is an absolute concept; it cannot be parsed. If when it does not work it does not work at ALL, then it is not a working gun, no matter that 90% of the time it does work. Because the 100% not working (in the instances it fails) MUST be considered when describing the general nature of the gun. That is, again, it’s a gun which does not actually work. It does not actually do what the person in this example wants it to do, which is work, period. The outcomes of its usage consistently fail, even if only 10%. It consistently fails–and thus failure is a part of its endemic nature–because, again, when it fails, it utterly (that is, 100%) fails. What I am getting at is the inability of one to call “working” a rifle which is designed only to work 90% of the time. “Working” and “not working” are mutually exclusive concepts, and so when describing the overall nature of the rifle we must consider this fact, plus the fact that people who shoot rifles want the ones they buy to WORK. The very idea of a rifle purposely designed to NOT work is irrational on its face. But at any rate, one cannot consider a rifle “working” when 10% of the time it does not work; and further I’m attempting to highlight the irrationality of one seeking out and consistently employing such a gun when the goal is efficacious outcomes commensurate with a working rifle.
The Law of Probability is like a rifle that is designed to only work part of the time. That is, to NOT actually work–that is, not a “working” theory–because by its appeal to chance and probability, as opposed to certainty and inevitability, it is NOT going to be effective in gauging the outcome of an event by design, perhaps as much or even more so than it WILL be effective. It is a formula that is specifically designed to NOT do what the user actually wants it to do (guide them to the outcomes and objectives they desire) perhaps up to 99% of the time. It is not a LAW, its a Law of “Chance”, which means the very nature of it as a “law” is on its face an utter contradiction. And so I ask, is there really any means by which we can argue that chance and probability are ever the most rational way to organize our lives, let alone are actual and causal? You can’t call a theory a working theory if a certain percentage of the time it consistently (100%) does not work as an endemic function of its purposed nature.
Is it any wonder why so many people are made destitute by gambling addiction and why so many people prefer to cheat in order to beat whatever “system” with which they happen to be engaged?
Now, as far as application of the ideas in this essay go, it is important for both atheists and Christians, for instance, scientists and philosophers, mystics and empiricists and rationalists, to remember and understand that material reality IS. Those things that ARE simply ARE. There are no laws which govern their interaction; for how they interact is always rooted in the infinity of their existential IS, which is without beginning or end. And in this case, actual things, which are the roots of these interactions–these events which we hold up to various determinative laws, are not a function of any actual outside theoretical construct, like probability. Therefore, any idea, philosophy, principle, doctrine, creed, model, mechanism, or statement of faith, etc. should provide NO appeal to such a notion. Chance should have no place in legitimate science, philosophy, politics, economics, religion, or even one’s own ambitions, only reason. The infusion of chance into causal explanations of the universe or anything in it, including and especially man and his actions, automatically disqualifies these explanations from any sort of rational consistency…or consistency at all, for that matter.