GASP! Is Argo Really a Repressed or Closet Marxist?: Response to John Immel from Spiritual Tyranny

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know that this is actually what’s happening (not that knowing matters…the fact still remains, the longer a comment goes unpublished, to less effective the comment will be, because of the naturally waning interest of other readers).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?”.

““does reality exist?” I have spent the better part of six weeks debating this question on YouTube with atheists (I started a v-blog specifically aimed at dismantling scientific empiricism), due to its rank and obvious contradictions (e.g. Man is a function of the laws of physics which govern/man is distinct from the laws of physics which govern). My conclusion? The question is irrelevant. Because any attempt to define “objective reality” outside of man is inevitably discussed in conceptual terms, which man authors, which then renders moot any notion of “objective reality OUTSIDE of man”. Since “objective reality” is only relevant insofar as it affirms man’s ability to conceptualize and thus know it and thus know TRUTH, the argument is really about conceptual consistency, and nothing else.(with conceptual consistency being “reason”). What the material world is “objectively” and “outside” is irrelevant, and thus, yes, unknowable, for all practical purposes”-for again, “knowing” it for what it is OUTSIDE OF MAN is impossible, since YOU are the absolute frame of reference by which you know reality. So again, the question “what is reality or does reality exist”, where reality is assumed to be OUTSIDE of man (putting man, implicitly outside of reality and thus making him NOT real, interestingly), is moot. The only path to TRUTH then is maintaining the consistency of the conceptual paradigm as a means to affirm the individual, because the individual is the frame of reference for ALL of reality, and there indeed is no other verifiable reference “outside” of him, full stop. The individual gives meaning and value to his environment, not the other way around, which would necessarily be determinism. For if we concede that there is an “objective reality” outside of man, we must logically subordinate man and his mind to whatever forces govern that reality, because man is either NOT real and thus is nothing, or he is OBJECTIVELY real and thus at the mercy of the OUTSIDE forces which determine/govern/control him. And this of course naturally negates man at the root existential level, because at no point does man ever get to be HIMSELF, and distinctly so. Most people adopt a hybrid approach whereby reason is mixed (well, really s a function of) empirical observation. This is rationally impossible for all the reasons I just described. And hence the massive contradictions in science as a means of interpreting “reality”. And hence the fact that scientific empiricism is really scientific determinism, which is really plain old, run of the mill Platonism, which alway finds its way to the rivers of blood.” Here is John’s response:

Argo/Zack, I’ve always admired your passion for these discussions, but I have to ask . . . if the existence of reality is irrelevant why then are you spending time on the discussion? Your investment in the argument (at minimum six weeks by your own admission) betrays your conclusion. You wouldn’t spend six weeks and start a video blog arguing for the non existence of say Santa Clause? Or the non existence of flibbertigibbets? This is a rhetorical question because the answer is obvious. But I want to further point out that to argue for the non-existence of non existence is an oxymoron. If there is no reality then there is no existence, no matter how one tries to parse out an existence created by consciousness. This is exactly the problem the Bishop Berkeley and David Hume and Immanuel Kant ran into—their nominalist/conceptualist argument invalidated the whole of humanity. The fact is—facts of the objective variety—the existence of reality is central to the entire philosophical equation which is exactly why I posted this article. This question cannot be escaped because without an answer the whole of human epistemology collapses and the only conclusion left is skepticism. You are right to hold Platonism in contempt but skepticism—of the Humian and Kantian variety of which you are currently dancing around the edges—has proved to be quantitatively more disastrous. I understand that you think you are defending man by defending reason (i.e. the supremacy of consciousness) by invalidating a determinist universe. If there is no causality then man is free in every sense of free. But your solution is akin the Vietnam military policy of destroying the village to save the village. I need to point out, Mechanistic Determinism is not a function of Platonism. Mechanistic determinism is a byproduct of Thomas Hobbs nominalism and has been passed down to the Logical Positivist who are also nominialists—who indecently philosophically dominate the field of physics. Whatever the failures of the mechanistic/determinists, and their intellectual heirs the Logical Positivists, the solution to their conclusion is not to invalidate the whole of causality which is an direct assault on the whole of reality. This is like dropping the atomic bomb on Nagasaki to save the Japanese man walking the street. Your central error is failing to understand concept formation and the roll of concepts in human cognition. This is in fact an epistemological issue, not a metaphysical issue. And it is impossible to understand the distinction between the epistemological and the metaphysical from a nominialist/conceptualist position—because by definition a primacy of consciousness formulation subsumes existence into consciousness. As such, there is no concept formation—at best ideas are arbitrary constructs: at worst . . . well take a fast look at Hegel and the Soviet Union and you will see the end result of a conceptualist ideology. (And in brief answer to one of your posts: Primacy of consciousness was originated in Thomas Hobbs but found its full formulation in Rene Descartes Prior Certainty of Consciousness. This was later shorted to the category of Primacy of Consciousness to describe philosophies that place consciousness as the primary metaphysical starting point—which by the way is most of them, including your formulation.) Here is the thing. I have the same challenge today that I had when I first objected to your formulation: time. Unraveling the central error in the Nominalist/Conceptualist understanding of existence requires a substantive knowledge of the most highly technical parts of philosophy. I was eighty pages into my response when I realized my readership would have no context for my comments. Nor would they necessarily understand why you were/are important and why this conversation is important. Eighty pages . . .and I was not even close to done. So I cut out the article on the problem of Universals and I’ve pondered how to address this issue ever since… unfortunately with no success. Make no mistake I think this is very important. As a student of history and philosophy I already know where your nominalist/conceptualist formulation goes. And I am telling you the truth—it can only lead to the absolute collapse of human cognition.” Finally, here is my as-of-yet still unpublished response: “”Man is both himself and a DIRECT function of the Laws of Nature. Man is wholly determined and yet wholly distinct.” “Not at all. Man (all life for that matter) is wholly determined. Our perceptions of it are irrelevant. We may feel like we as distinct from nature, but that feeling is an illusion, if a useful one for the deterministic end-point of our species in the situation we are in. Cats and dogs probably have the same illusion of choice. Choice is just the feeling we have when a deterministic brain reaches the only conclusion it can or will.” John, The first quote is mine, pointing out the contradictory existential assumption behind scientific empiricism (or just “empiricism”).  The second quote is the response from someone appealing to the idea of an “objective reality OUTSIDE of man”.  I assure you, this kind of response is most common, and it is the invariable conclusion of the kind of empiricist thinking that you [(as an Objectivist)] defend (because any other idea MUST be Kant or Hume…the sides have already been determined, we just need to pick one, right?). So, if my ideas inevitably lead to the collapse of human cognition, I wonder where yours lead. Free will isn’t free.  Choice is an illusion.  Man’s mind is a cog in the cause-and-effect mechanics of a determined universe. That doesn’t sound too enlightened to me.  In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s quite the opposite.  This guy spent the entire debate defending the absolute integrity of man’s senses to observe “objective reality” only to conclude that “our perceptions are irrelevant”.  I have little doubt that should our discussion continue, you will reach the same conclusion.  And that’s a problem [for you].  [Here’s why.]  You are deciding I am wrong based on questions which [you admit are central to the philosophical debate, but] which you cannot possibly answer [based upon your devotion to the idea that “objective, observable, empirical evidence” is exclusive and distinct from reason].  For example:  What is reality?  That question cannot be answered except by appealing to that [(“objective reality OUTSIDE of man”)]which [naturally] makes man irrelevant. Which [naturally] makes the question irrelevant. [This was the nature of my youtube debates; they did not concern the idea of debating an irrelevancy…or rather, a negative; that is the actual “nothingness” of reality.  By the way, there is no such thing as a negative assertion.  My argument wasn’t about why “objective reality” ISN’T, but why belief in “objective reality” IS irrational, contradictory, and destructive to the individual.  I assumed you’d understand this, but I suppose in hindsight I should have been surprised if you did, and thus been more clear in framing the context of the debate.] Answer the question “What is man?” and you will answer the question “What is reality?”.  Separate them and lose both answers because you will have invalidated both questions. “Reality” is of no use unless it validates the right [and the fundamental ability of] the individual to exist as a distinct self-aware agent; otherwise, there is no individual and so there is no one to define reality and so there is no reality for all rational and practical purposes.  Thus any definition of reality MUST include man as its root context [or frame of reference] and Standard so that it can ACTUALLY be defined, both rationally and ethically.  And t his being the case, the notion of an “objective reality OUTSIDE of man” is rendered utterly moot. I am still waiting for someone to point out the inconsistency in my thinking.  Appeals to arcane debates and [and philosophical particulars and equations] and warning of the [coming storm] of inevitable human destruction is not really an argument. (NOTE:  Portions in brackets are additions to the original comment; an advantage of reproducing it here.)
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31 thoughts on “GASP! Is Argo Really a Repressed or Closet Marxist?: Response to John Immel from Spiritual Tyranny

  1. There are a number of fundamental errors in this article . . . not least of which is that my discussion was not about Marxism but a comparative statement on the implications of the Nominalist/conceptualist answer to the Problem of Universals vis a vis Hegel’s Dialectic and its impact on the total collapse of human cognition as evidenced by its peak expression in Soviet Russia. Since that is obvious from what I wrote I won’t take any time to address the Marxist non sequitur further.

    But I do want to briefly address this point: that Zack has not been answered.

    While yes, I have not waded into the briar patch to illustrate in detail how his current formulation has central and substantive errors. (Something that I have been candid in admitting) it is not true that I am evading. I did offer a rebuttal . . . but my response focused on the root cause of the argument: Zack’s failure to understand concepts and concept formation in context to the broader philosophical discussion. It is impossible to start in the middle of philosophy and then retrofit the parts and pieces into a cohesive formulation. So arguing the deterministic implications of a causal universe and treating those arguments as if they are metaphysical primaries is akin to putting the sausage link before the pig: a lot of nasty stuff has to go into the grinder before it ever comes out tasting good.

    My point is that the crux of the argument is tied to the Problem of Universals within Zack’s nomininalist/conceptualist formulation. Without first addressing this crucial issue within the field of philosophy it is impossible to understand why a causal universe does not render man a helpless lump in a sea of cosmic “Laws.”

    And I will further point out that Zack has have been answered. Maybe not from the guys on the video blog, and not to his satisfaction from me, but he has been answered.

    Three thousand years ago he was answered. Indeed the epistemological foundation of his effort to invalidate “objective reality” is stolen from the very man who refuted him. And I do mean he steals the epistemological foundation because as a nominalist/conceptualist Zack has no philosophical right to use the very roots of cognition he seeks to invalidate. The Law of Identity that he manipulates to invalidate “objective reality” is the very law of Identity that refutes the nominalist/conceptualist foundation to his formulation. The man’s name is Aristotle. He is the one who discovered objective reality and it is his discovery that he must first invalidate. Zack must first overthrow the law if identity, the law of the excluded middle, and the law of non contradiction before he can ever hope prevail with a philosophy that starts and ends with NOTHING outside of Man.

  2. Please note that it is John Immel who has labeled me a “conceptualist” according to the institutional philosophical definition. I do not concede that this definition applies ipso facto, simply because I sumbit: that all things defined are going to be conceptually defined, and that no definition can exist which is not ultimately a conceptual definition. In which case, then, a non-conceptual “objective” reality cannot be known, and thus it cannot be proposed, because it cannot be defined.

    Further, John incorrectly asserts that I deny the existence of reality. I do not deny the existence of reality, but maintain that reality will be conceptual (defined by man on his own terms) because otherwise man cannot define it and thus he cannot know it and so the conversation becomes invalid. I have said that asking the question “does reality exist?”, where reality is considered exclusive (outside) of man, is an irrelevant question, because whatever is outside of man is undefinable by man, which makes it irrelevant.

    Aaand…there is quite a difference between something being irrelevant and something being non-existent (or, “nothing”). And if John was interested in being intellectually honest, instead of simply assigning me a philosophical category that he is comfortable debating, he would acknowledge this. But he isn’t…and such is the level of his arrogance.

    If something is “non-existent” it is given a zero value placeholder within the exiatential construct (nothing then becomes technically “something” for the purposes of integrating it into the discussion–and in this case, to impugn your opponent by defining him according to your own self interest). If something is irrelevant, then it has NO value, which means it has no definition and thus cannot ever be rationally mentioned ANYWHERE within the discussion; or, its value is dependent upon defining it in a way that it can be consistently integrated into the existential/philosophical construct. It is this second approach I am employing. “Reality” can exist as long as the definition of it does not render man moot at the level of his very existence. We can define reality, but we cannot define it as “outside” of man, because that makes man, by definition, not real. Which again renders this entire discussion obsolete.

    John is an effective communicator, and a persuasive writer, but make no mistake. His thinking is hemmed in by what he has read, not what he has, himself, concluded must be true.

  3. I don’t know what I would label your philosophy, Argo, but I can say that like most philosophers I don’t understand any more than 30% of what you say. The same goes for John’s comment up top.

    And what the hell is “the Problem of Universals”?

    Wikipedia: “In metaphysics, the problem of universals refers to the question of whether properties exist, and if so, what they are.” Come again?

    “Properties are qualities or relations that two or more entities have in common. The various kinds of properties, such as qualities and relations are referred to as universals.” Uh….what?

    “For instance, one can imagine three cup holders on a table that have in common the quality of being circular or exemplifying circularity, or two daughters that have in common being the daughter of Frank. There are many such properties, such as being human, red, male or female, liquid, big or small, taller than, father of, etc.” Ok….and the PROBLEM is what exactly?

    “While philosophers agree that human beings talk and think about properties, they disagree on whether these universals exist in reality or merely in thought and speech.” Oh brother! Give me a break! Who has time to argue about this crap? I mean honestly. What’s the argument, if abstract concepts are abstract concepts or somehow have physical substance?

    Ok, based on the Wikipedia article, Argo, you would be lumped in with Hume and Kant as saying that properties don’t exist in any objective way but are made up in the mind of each observer. Or possibly better with Ockham.

    But wait, the article pretends there are 3 options: Realism, Nominalism, and Idealism. How do Nominalism and Idealism differ, really? Both are saying its all in your head, so they’re the same thing.

    Of all the guys listed in the Wikipedia article, the only one I know had a vigorous belief in the existence of freewill was John Duns Scotus, who obviously had studied the works of Pelagius and had some respect for them. He’s lumped in with Thomas Aquinas as a realist, but with a distinction between the two:

    “Aquinas argued that both the essence of a thing and its existence were clearly distinct, in this regard he is close to the teaching of Aristotle. Scotist realism argues that in a thing there is no real distinction between the essence and the existence, instead there is only a Formal distinction.”

    Ok, I definitely agree with Scotus. Wait…Argo….maybe you do too? That does sound like some of your earlier stuff at least. Most of your newer stuff reads like gobblygook to me though. Sorry.

  4. If using Wikipedia to wade through defunct philosophers offendeth thee, just understand that you couldn’t even obtain half of these guys books if you wanted to. Most of them ain’t never even been translated into English. OR, if they have, the cost if prohibitive of you actually buying it. And then if you found a site online you could order it from, they’d probably take your order, and tell you a month later “Sorry, but we don’t actually have a copy.” Oxford Press did that to me once.

  5. And as my last comment for now, it particularly bothers me that you can actually find Aquinas’ Summa Theologica but can’t find Scotus’ works (aside from just “selection” from them). I want the full thing. I want a collection of all of Scotus’ works! But alas, like Pelagius, that is not to be. If you defend free will they leave you in Latin.

  6. “We can define reality, but we cannot define it as ‘outside’ of man, because that makes man, by definition, not real. Which again renders this entire discussion obsolete.”

    By making reality only exist inside man and nothing external to him actually exist, you eradicate his freewill, because it no longer has anything external to operate on. His freewill to move that chair is obliterated in your malosophy because the chair doesn’t exist according to you.

  7. Hi David,

    Sorry I didn’t post your comments before now. Been down with the flu the past four days. Still down.

    You, like John, find a commonality with Kant and Hume (and thus Marx). This may be due to a knee jerk reaction to assume the worst since I deny Arisotle’s definition of “objective reality”. It may be due to my own limitations in communicating the differences, which are glaring to me…but are not to you. It may be both. Idk.

    Let me start by saying that we must define “objective reality” before we can discuss its actuality, let alone its causality. When I say “we” I mean man. So the definition and thus relevancy and thus morality of it does in fact come from man, whether we want to accept this or not. No one can define what man observes FOR him. Period. Which means we must have a definition of MAN (ourselves) prior to defining objective reality. Objective reality must have relevancy and purpose TO a frame of reference…and that frame of reference must again, be man, because man is the one who defines objective reality. And “man” is the CONCEPT of self, not the consciousness of self. Because what is “consciousness” apart from its definition which man gives it?

    So, I do not deny there is a material reality “outside” which exists in an infinite number of ways relative to man, which he observes. I simply deny that this material has any values, properties, or definitions, morality or purpose apart from man’s conceptual definitions by which he organizes it TO himself…himSELF being the conceptualized version of his body.

    Finally, it is impossible I submit to observe an objective reality outside of man because man, being equally existent, and the effects of observation bring utterly within himself, must be WHOLLY integrated into his environment (that which he observes “outside” himself). Which means that without a conceptual paradigm man can never know, can never observe the difference between himself–his observed material body–and the reality “outside” of it. Since both his body and his environment are equally REAL, according to observation–according to the VERY definition of “observation” the empiricists and the objectivists concede–then the root of reality, as something we consider objective, is based upon RELATIVE distinctions, which in order to have any value beyond INFINITE existence (and infinity itself is meaningless and valueless) MUST be conceptualized. Which means the real root of meaningful existence and knowledge is not rooted in man’s ability to exist, but man’s ability to conceptualize. Thus the internal, non-paradoxical, non-contradictory consistency of the whole of man’s conceptual paradigm with the SELF as the REFERENCE–that is, reason–is the only legitimate definition of objective reality. And “objective reality outside of man”, by definition, destroys man because it makes him “unreal”…of NOT possessing not only existential equality but existential seniority over his environment, which cannot conceptualize and thus cannot even define itself.

  8. “By making reality only exist inside man and nothing external to him actually exist, you eradicate his freewill, because it no longer has anything external to operate on. ”

    This is statement is based upon a misinterpretation of my position (which could be due to my failure adequately express it..granted). By saying there is no objective reality OUTSIDE of man I am not arguing that reality is in fact INSIDE of him (which would, in fact, be inconsistent). I am saying there is no distinction between what man IS (what is “inside” man) and what man IS NOT (what is “outside” of man) which is not a conceptual distinction. Which makes objective reality merely the internal consistency of the conceptual paradigm by which man distinguishes between the primary concept of SELF and the concept-all the myriad of categories and subcategories-of ENVIRONMENT (NOT SELF) in order to promote his own life and will and comfort.

  9. And this does relegate other human beings outside of the primary Concept of Self as part of ENVIRONMENT. However, appealing to reason (which again I consider the internal consistency of the conceptual paradigm and the root of truth) demands that we define them as those who can efficaciously (TO US…promoting our own lives) participate in the conceptual paradigm via sharing language. Which means it is irrational and thus immoral to not accept that they are equal Primary SELVES. Which naturally precludes their exploitation in service to our own as a moral imperative, even if we think that service is fundamentally altruistic. Morality can ultimately only be truly and OBJECTIVELY be defined as the expression of a shared conceptual paradigm (via language) between individual SELVES to their own freely chosen ends.

    And this hardly sounds like Kant or Hume or Marx.

    Notice how tyranny always starts with the tyrant deciding that they alone posses the ability to define terms. That is, only THEY can dictate the “truth” (the “consistency”) of the conceptual paradigm. “Before you can understand the Bible, you must be saved” is a perfect example of this. “The laws of nature which govern” is another. In both cases, the standard of reference of the conceptual paradigm ceases to be the SELF, and becomes whatever they decide instead, which destroys man at the epistemological and metaphysical levels entirely.

  10. “. . not least of which is that my discussion was not about Marxism but a comparative statement on the implications of the Nominalist/conceptualist answer to the Problem of Universals vis a vis Hegel’s Dialectic and its impact on the total collapse of human cognition as evidenced by its peak expression in Soviet Russia.”

    And this had nothing to do with Marxism? As I recall Russia’s soviet peak had SPECIFICALLY to do with Marxist philosophy.

  11. David Brainerd said:
    “I don’t know what I would label your philosophy, Argo, but I can say that like most philosophers I don’t understand any more than 30% of what you say. The same goes for John’s comment up top.”

    Well, certainly if I didn’t understand that would make my comments easier to dismiss but just like I say to all the Calvinists who insist that I don’t understand their doctrine I must ask . . . how about if my understanding is crystal clear?

    Anyway . . . I think that my comment here does not have the benefit of the original context to the article I wrote.

    You asked: “And what the hell is “the Problem of Universals”?”

    Might I refer you to my article: Welcome to the Problem of Universals.

    http://spiritualtyranny.com/welcome-to-the-problem-of-universals/

    I also read what was out on Wikipedia and I found the articles wanting . . . so I wrote this article to lay a foundation to understand nominalism/conceptualism which is the root of Zack’s “nothing outside of Man” formulation.

    David Brainerd Said:
    “While philosophers agree that human beings talk and think about properties, they disagree on whether these universals exist in reality or merely in thought and speech.” Oh brother! Give me a break! Who has time to argue about this crap? I mean honestly. What’s the argument, if abstract concepts are abstract concepts or somehow have physical substance?”

    And this is exactly the problem… this is the very subject that Zack is arguing and your reaction is indicative of the real problem when trying to unravel the importance of this ball of yarn.

    As I said on Spiritual Tyranny: “Unraveling the central error in the Nominalist/Conceptualist understanding of existence requires a substantive knowledge of the most highly technical parts of philosophy. I was eighty pages into my response when I realized my readership would have no context for my comments. Nor would they necessarily understand why you were/are important and why this conversation is important.

    “Eighty pages . . .and I was not even close to done. So I cut out the article on the problem of Universals and I’ve pondered how to address this issue ever since… unfortunately with no success.”

    David, if your reaction is typical of the broader audience you have only confirmed my expectation that people do not have the time nor the inclination to wade through the foundations to understand the issues.

  12. “And this had nothing to do with Marxism? As I recall Russia’s soviet peak had SPECIFICALLY to do with Marxist philosophy.”

    Yea . . . it did but Karl Marx roots economics in Dialectic Materialism and he got the dialectic part form Hegel’s dialectical metaphysics that introduced contradiction into reality as a matter of philosophical principle. To be sure without Hegel’s assertion that man creates his own reality, unbridled and unfettered to Kant’s noumenal world, Marx does not have a foundation for his ideology. It was Hegel who made the last bold leap from Kant to the “logical” conclusion that the state creates reality, because there is no reality but what man creates. This is the metaphysical foundation on which the Soviet Union was founded. And it was the collapse of this foundation that brought the Soviet Union to its knees. Reality—of the objective kind—destroyed the Soviet Union.

    Now I will draw your attention back to what you already know: the progression starts with metaphysics and moves to epistemology and then ethics and finally politics.

    It was Hegel the laid the metaphysical conceptualist foundation so that Marx could formulate the ethical/political social organization.

    Hence my original comments . . .

  13. “David, if your reaction is typical of the broader audience you have only confirmed my expectation that people do not have the time nor the inclination to wade through the foundations to understand the issues.”

    Or, as John himself said, maybe some do understand perfectly.

  14. “so that Marx could formulate the ethical/political social organization”

    Which had its peak in Soviet Russia, per your comment. Meaning you do not divorce Marxism from the geopolitical entity you specifically cited in order to claim my reference to your equating my ideas with Marx was a non-sequitur.

  15. “To be sure without Hegel’s assertion that man creates his own reality, ”

    I claim that man defines, not creates. Do you not concede a difference? Whatever is, absent definition, simply is. So I’m not saying that nothing is. I’m saying that what is must be defined according to a conceptual framework based around a Standard before it can have any relevant value. So the question is “who or what gets to create the definitions?”. Not “does reality exist?” That which DEFINES reality in the first place is that which reality serves.

  16. If science’s governing Laws define reality (as science clearly accepts) then man serves the Laws of nature. And this is the root of objectivist and empiricist ideas of an “objective reality outside” of man.

  17. Thus “objective reality” in the hands of an atheist, objectivist, or empiricist is really just determinism. Which has so many rational flaws it is downright comical.

  18. Thus “objective reality” in the hands of an atheist, objectivist, or empiricist is really just determinism. Which has so many rational flaws it is downright comical.

    Well, I suspect that we are going to disagree in the real comedy here. While it may be true that some atheists are also determinists, by your own formulation there can be no causality between atheism and determinism and even if that wasn’t part of your formulation there is no necessary cause between atheism and determinism. The metaphysical absence of a god does not necessitate determinism any more than the existence of god necessitates free will.

    As for Objectivism . . . mmm . . . you are not within light years of correctly summarizing the Objectivist position on causality and determinism.

    And the last one is really confusing. The concept empiricist–one who seeks to measure the particulars of existence to identify the nature of their identities—rests on the concept empirical . . . which rests on (at minimum) two concepts: the objective and the measurable.

    For something to be empirical it must be measurable by the senses and the method of measurement must be duplicatable, So a person conducing the act of measurement (typically applied to scientific inquiry) could be said to be an “empiricist” but this action does not confirm or imply determinism.

    So, since I don’t think you mean to dismiss the whole of the “Objective” world by pointing to the discreet actions of people measuring the particulars of reality, I can only infer that you are discussing a philosophical position? If that is the case then I am really confused: Empiricism is the philosophical movement that started in the 17th century by John Locke, who was succeeded by Bishop Berkeley and who was then succeeded by David Hume. It was Bishop Berkeley who first launched a formal attack on the existence of the material world in the name of reason. And then David Hume used his foundation to eradicate causality. So if you are condemning Empiricism you are condemning kindred spirits. Berkeley believed in God but Hume was an atheist. But neither of them were mechanistic determinists . . . which really undercuts the comedy.

  19. “The metaphysical absence of a god does not necessitate determinism any more than the existence of god necessitates free will.”

    This depends on the definition of “god”…which incidentally is a big problem with debating atheists. They deny the rational need for the existence of “god” based upon a definition which is either irrational (in which case, well yeah…no fucking wonder you deny him/it/her), or no definition at all….in which case I demand they stop labeling themselves an atheist because the very idea of “theism” is absent the belief system entirely.

    Anyway…

    If I define God as the creative force which mitigates the infinity of the material universe into an infinite number of relative interactions which man then may conceptualize in order to promote his own existence (which I will not detail now), then yes, atheism must equal determinism, because without such a “god” there can be no relationship between man and his environment…thus he defines all “reality” as a function of causal forces–based purely upon the powers of observation–which govern all things, obviously including man and his mind.

    Wait…haven’t I actually heard that argument before?

    Why, yes I have. When debating atheists. There isn’t a one who is not a determinist. At least, insofar as they interpret their existence. Don’t you remember the quote I cited on your blog? Free will is an illusion? Yeah…I get that shit a lot, John.

    Of course this definition of God also means that God’s existence will necessitate free will.

    Its all about who has the fully consistent existential paradigm. Period. Full stop. Absolute consistency of reason will indubitably render all other, contrary ideas deterministic

    “As for Objectivism . . . mmm . . . you are not within light years of correctly summarizing the Objectivist position on causality and determinism.”

    Well, I suppose when I refuse to embrace contradiction as a legitimate function of any sort of existential perspective claiming TRUTH, I’d naturally be light years away from summarizing the positions of causality and determinism–or any other parameter for that matter–held by just about ANY idea in circulation today. So, not surprised you’d say that.

    “For something to be empirical it must be measurable by the senses and the method of measurement must be duplicatable, So a person conducing the act of measurement (typically applied to scientific inquiry) could be said to be an “empiricist” but this action does not confirm or imply determinism.”

    Hmmm….yeah. It does. By your own admission empiricism is fully rooted in sensory, not intellectual, cognitive, nor rational, faculties (as though there can be any actual distinction…the eye does not know alone that it is observing). This demands that all abstract conceptualizations, like mathematics for instance, cannot possibly be applied to whatever it is man is “sensing”–er, somehow independent (outside) of himself (perhaps you have had an out-of-body experience, but since I haven’t, I must insist that reality fully include and embrace man) This of course renders the information gathered by the senses of no value since it is not the senses which generate ideas such as “measurable” and “repeatable”, but the intellect…the brain.

    But wait…aren’t all values in science essentially mathematical; and aren’t all values in the empirical philosophies forms of logical proofs? So…if we are being told that this is true…that mathematics and measurements and logical proofs is the very realm of “objective reality”, and these are beyond our senses, but the senses are the gatekeepers of reality, then it must mean that there exist some certain “special”…certain “called” people who are granted the divine sight by some OUTSIDE force which is fully causal and all-knowing–an insight incompatible to the rest of us by our nature–who are capable of possessing UNDERSTANDING; which means that only THEY are capable of possessing any REAL morality. Which means they are the ones divinely mandated to use force to compel the rest of us.

    Aaaaaaand…I can assure you that this kind of thinking is always deterministic.

    Finally…

    You keep referring to “mechanistic determinism”. The adjective is quite superfluous. There is no significant difference between mechanistic determinism and any other kind of determinism. If any part of reality is determined, ALL of it is determined, where “determinism” is given the power to define reality ACTUALLY…that is, not purely conceptually, abstractly, metaphorically, or organizationally.

  20. David, if your reaction is typical of the broader audience you have only confirmed my expectation that people do not have the time nor the inclination to wade through the foundations to understand the issues.

    I’d say this is precisely why unlike the philosopher who wrote Romans/Gatians, the Paul of the Pastorals warns against philosophy. Philosophy is just the denial of common sense in the interest of making everything over complicated. Of course, I have a computer science background though, so my “philosophy” of this is also informed (now) by object-oriented programming concepts. But the only reason I was able to so quickly pick up object-oriented programming concepts in the first place is that I never traded in common sense to purchase philosophy.

    The problem is universals is whether properties really exist as such or only in our minds. So, if a book is red, is it really read? or is it only red because Argo thinks its red? Well, obviously, its really red. The name “red” is something we made up, but whatever red objectively is, its part of the substance of that object no matter what name we give it.

    In object-oriented programming I may have a class and in that class I may have 3 integers with names like x, y, z. If someone took my compiled code and decompiled it, the decompiler may give them a piece of code with very ugly names like var13fdf, var2r2ff, var32rfg4 to represent the same members. So what? You can change the names but the function of the properties is the same. If Argo decides to call “red” by the name “gloobtofus,” the fact is that the book still has that property as part of its substance. This is merely common sense. No philosophy is needed. So why are we arguing about this exactly?

    My position would be that anyone who calls what I just stated into question or pretends that its up for debate is automatically suspect of not only spiritual but physical tyranny. They obviously have designed on every freedom we posses. We call these people “philosophers,” “theologians,” and “politicians,” but these are just 3 modes of the same thing: “tyrants.” We don’t need theologians or philosophers any more than we need a hole in the head. We have the Bible and we have common sense with which to interpret it for ourselves. Of course, some lack common sense, precisely because they traded it in to some “guru” for a card stating that they are a member in good standing with some cult calling itself a church and pretending to posses the keys which Jesus gave to Peter alone and which Peter used once and for all in preaching the sermon that culminating in turning the keys once and for all by saying in Acts 2:38 “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” by which he opened the kingdom and no man may shut, and by which he loosed the sins of all who repent and are baptized and bound the sins of all who will not.

  21. “It is impossible to start in the middle of philosophy and then retrofit the parts and pieces into a cohesive formulation. So arguing the deterministic implications of a causal universe and treating those arguments as if they are metaphysical primaries is akin to putting the sausage link before the pig: a lot of nasty stuff has to go into the grinder before it ever comes out tasting good.”

    I wanted to discuss this, but haven’t had the opportunity until now. This statement needs to be evaluated, because I have noticed this is a common rhetorical tactic employed by those who need to control the definitions in order to maintain power. I’m not saying John is consciously doing this, but nevertheless, his statement exemplifies the method.

    Notice how in John’s own words, a causal universe –where “cause and effect” is not merely a conceptual descriptor of object interaction but a governing force with tangibly actualizing power…that is, a REAL thing–which is deterministic by definition (the cause ACTUALLY determines the effect) is, at the same time, not deterministic at the level of man’s own existence; which is of course impossible since man is obviously an inexorable part of the universe. It is a “both and neither” contradiction which he claims is not actually–if I really knew what I was talking about–a contradiction.

    How he makes this argument is by appealing to an informational, intellectual, and enlightened pedigree. And here, “pedigree” is the operative term. I cannot possibly understand how a contradiction is not actually contradictory because I have not achieved the enlightenment necessary to do so. I cannot point out what is by definition a rank contradiction because there will ALWAYS be something I’m missing. Since logic clearly is not the key to understanding why a contradiction in terms is really not, the issue then isn’t about how a contradiction is an illegitimate tenet of an existential view…and THAT’S where I’m going wrong. The issue is really about the NECESSARY inclusion of a REAL contradiction into paradigms of “truth”. And this can only be done by rejecting my demand that claims be consistent, or they be rejected. And once I do that, the only option left is for me to concede the floor to those who know better because of their pedigree. There is nothing left for me but to agree. Since rational consistency is not sufficient for vetting claims, I MUST agree that claims to truth are based upon some other criteria. And at the end of all the smoke and equivocation we find that the only criteria left is force, in its various forms. Manipulation; rhetoric; tautologies; sarcasm; the relentless commandeering of terms; the insistence that if I only understood more I would “get it” and so on.

    And John wonders why I consider the deterministic implications of a causal universe metaphysical primaries.

  22. This is one of the main problems with philosophy, the idiotic notion of God as “first cause” with a bunch of things between him and me as “secondary causes” and “contingent causes.” No. No, no, no. God is CREATOR, not “first cause.” We have to drop the moronic deterministic language. He isn’t a “first cause” that caused a “second cause” which caused a third cause, and so on. He the CREATOR who created the freaking world and populated it with creatures that have free will.

  23. There are many logical problems with the notion of “first cause”. One is that, if we stay true to the definition, it’s not actually “first cause”, but “only cause” or even better, “absolute cause”. For everything which follows from the first cause cannot itself be a cause, but only an effect. Which makes ALL actions in the universe a direct function of the first cause.

    There is no concept of “cause and effect” which then can be rationally applied to anything in the universe.

    And goodbye man and his will, and hello determinism. As usual.

  24. What need to happen in a Christian context where anyone speaks of “first cause” and so on, is they ought to be laughed to scorn. They should be pressed with all of the “beware of philosophy” verses from the ‘minor’ Pauline epistles, and then constantly poked at with the demand “Show me a verse in the Bible that uses the phrase ‘first cause’…” and every time they evade, like a broken record repeat “Show me a verse in the Bible that uses the phrase ‘first cause’…”

  25. “We call these people “philosophers,” “theologians,” and “politicians,” but these are just 3 modes of the same thing: “tyrants.” We don’t need theologians or philosophers any more than we need a hole in the head. We have the Bible and we have common sense with which to interpret it for ourselves.”

    New to these parts, but David’s comment pretty much sums up what I take from all of the ‘philosophy’ being thrown around. An admitted ignoramus of such things in their official forms, I cannot help but smile inwardly as the sophists display their skills in using words that send most scrambling for their dictionaries.

    In my humble opinion, all of this sophistry (philosophy) is designed to justify whatever sin it is the philosopher/king is seeking to perpetrate. Need an excuse for enslaving the masses? Send for the wise men! Genocide your cup of tea? No proplemo!

    Philosophy is man’s attempt to explain why he has the right to trample upon the God-given rights of others, take their stuff, and often their lives. A rose is a rose, whether this tyranny is done by a husband, pastor, priest or king.

    Much as I like to ponder the ways of God and the ways of men, I find that those who use many, and many-syllabled, words are usually not trying to clarify ‘truth’ but distort, disfigure and trample it into the dust.

    But that’s just me.

    The older I get, the more I find grace, peace and hope in the simple words of the carpenter.

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