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that this is actually what’s happening (not that knowing matters…the fact still remains, the longer a comment goes unpublished, to less effective the comment will be, because of the naturally waning interest of other readers).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