Category Archives: Epistemology

Contradiction Cannot Correct the Excesses of Government

Lately I have been watching what are known as “first amendment audit” videos. These are videos where a person or a couple of people go out with cameras and video recorders and take photos and video of public buildings…anything from water treatment facilities to post offices, FBI buildings, police stations, and oil refineries. They interact copiously with law enforcement officers and their intention is to educate them on the right of citizens to monitor government officials and their businesses in the course of these officials performing their public duties.

Now, it is obvious to anyone with even a remedial understanding of the meaning a government “of, by, and for the People” that this is not only perfectly legal but also utterly necessary. History has shown us that a government which operates away from the watchful eyes of the public it is supposed to serve tends to grow fat with corruption, vampire-like with blood lust, and irredeemably addicted to power.

Of course we hear a million times that “in this day and age” [of terrorism] the government cannot be too careful nor too diligent in the protection of itself for the sake of its citizens, and so the legal right to monitor the government in public must be heavily qualified, if not occasionally curtailed. Yes photography and videography is legal, but it’s not wise, they say…and I actually heard a cop say essentially this to a cameraman in one of the videos—“Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.” And what I find so shocking is the fact that not only is this statement so patently false with respect to citizen oversight of government, but this whole line of argument is nothing more than a pretense to the suspension of the first amendment whilst claiming that the suspension shall be IN SERVICE to the first amendment. In other words, the argument is that the government must strictly control the exercise of the first amendment in order that it can protect the people in order that they may continue to live freely, and by “freely” we can presume that this means (in part) to exercise the first amendment.

Do you see the twisted logic here?

This doublespeak is a recipe for tyranny…and though it is shocking it’s not surprising. As I have argued dozens and maybe even hundreds of times on this blog, the premise which underwrites government necessitates that government MUST INEVITABLY become tyrannical. There can be no other outcome; for you will get nothing less than tyranny from a premise which says that the only way to ensure a moral society is to compel men by violence and threats of violence into right thinking and behavior (ethical existence) via a centralized Authority tasked with bringing about some collectivist Utopian Ideal (e.g. The People, Equality, Freedom, Social Justice, Economic Justice, God’s Truth, the Nation, the Workers, the Tribe, the Culture, Diversity, the Coroporation, etc. etc.).

In a “day and age” wherein the world becomes more dangerous for a free nation like the United States (arguably used to be), the solution to whatever problems are faced is not less freedom, but MORE freedom. It is PRECISELY at a time like this when citizens should become INCREASINGLY engaged in overseeing their government, because they understand that it is the habit and the nature of governement to exploit crisis in order to expand its power. Government, like a roaring lion, actively and relentlessly seeks ANY excuse to devour the freedom of the citizen in order that it may indulge its root nature: despotism. This is a FACT, and history is my witness.

I also watched a disturbing video where an off-duty police officer, after a truck driver briefly lost control of his rig and had to perform an emergency evasive maneuver in front of the him, engaged in a fit of road rage whereby this cop chased and terrorized the truck driver for more than 25 miles. Of course the truck driver had no idea that the maniac chasing wildly after him was a cop, as the officer was in his private vehicle and not wearing a uniform, and never showed his badge.

The officer subsequently lied about the situation and brought a completely fabricated charge against the driver of reckless driving and wanton disregard for the public. But because there was absolutely no evidence for this accusation, the charge was dropped and an alternate one for “equipment failure” was submitted instead, which amounted to small fine and no points on the truck driver’s license…but even the “equipment failure” charge was a lie, as the truck had simply struck a bad patch of road and the back end momentarily lost traction and slipped sideways. The fine was literally nothing more than a face-saving exercise for the obviously embarrassed police department. It was also  a “fuck you” to the public in general, I submit. It was a way of saying to us all that if you happen to piss off a cop, on or off duty, for a reason that is entirely false then they will hurt you. Period. You have no redress; you will get no justice. They are the authority, you are the masses. In effect, you are a slave, and they own you. You will NEVER be found innocent if they do not want to find you innocent. If you hurt their pride, you’ll suffer the consequences.

Though the truck driver was found innocent of all charges except for the token “faulty equipment” accusation, which again was nothing more than the police simply refusing to admit their fuck up, the damage had already been done. The mere accusation of reckless driving was enough for this driver to lose his job (which is understandable from the company’s point of view as he specialized in transporting hazardous material); and though the official fine was only $50, the whole affair including lawyers fees and lost work cost him around $2000. The accusing officer retired in good standing with the department and maintains a perfectly clean service record.

Land of the free IF you don’t piss of certain cops, it seems.

Speaking of pissed off cops, let’s get back to the first amendment audit videos. Unfortunately, yet predictably, the vast majority of the time security and the police are woefully unaware of the law that they are supposedly upholding. Even though we do not live in a police state like Nazi German or Stalinist Russia, public photographers are routinely asked to show identification well before any reasonable suspicion of criminal activity has been determined. Photographers are verbally abused, bullied, assaulted, arrested, handcuffed, and thrown in jail on objectively false charges of trespassing, or disturbing the peace, or resisting arrest, or failing to indentify…all manner of false and entirely contrived offenses. And of the dozens and dozens of videos I have watched I have yet to see any ACTUAL violation of the law. None. Not one. Certainly some of the videographers are aggressive and confrontational…clearly they are looking for an altercation. This makes for interesting videos which brings in more views. That makes sense—but I should add that I do not condone this approach. Nevertheless, the fact remains that we live in a society where the freedom of expression means that people are allowed to act like assholes in public. In turn, those of us who reject such personalities are free to act like assholes back, or to ostracize them, or to publicly shame them, or to fight back and/or enlist the police if they get violent. But the State is NEVER justified in making it against he law to be an asshole. A free nation WILL have its assholes…it MUST have its assholes. To regulate assholes out of the public sphere is to criminalize personality, which is to criminalize ideas, which is to criminalize thought, which is the death of the individual, which is the death of freedom, which is the death of the nation.

So here’s a question for you: What happens when the government falls under the control of “pissed off cops”, so to speak. Meaning, what happens when “public service”, which is a natural magnet for narcissists and psychopaths by its very nature, becomes thoroughly saturated with those who wield State Authority in order to satisfy their lust for power, exploit the citizenry for their own gain, and/or merely to feed whatever psychotic craving grabs them at the moment? Indeed, I should add here that, quite frankly, I’m not sure we don’t actually have this already.

What’s the solution? How do you address a government that exceeds the checks and balances of the Constitution because it (inevitably) realizes that the Constitution is utterly dependent upon its own practical authority to wield the force necessary to compel the masses into the right behavior that the Constitution declares and implies? Meaning that absent those in power, the Constitution is less relevant than an dishrag. The Constitution isn’t magic. Absent the practical coercive Authority of the State it’s just a piece of old paper.

Now, I understand already the myriad of responses to this question—what do we do with an irredeemably corrupt government?—which can be  predicted, and all of them can be boiled down to two essential ideas. The first is that the citizens can stage some sort of revolt, perhaps American Revolution style; the second is that they can somehow replace the political class with new members…those who will respect the Constitution and the American people whose rights it exists to validate and ensure.

I’m not really interested in the specific, finer points of each of these solutions to the problem of tyranny. What I want to examine is the underling philosophical premise of them relative to that of the State. That is: what is the root assumption being made about man’s nature and his capacity for and sufficiency to his existence? And the reason why this is so important and so interesting is that within this question resides the most astounding and overt contradiction, a contradiction which has been the bane and the fundamental undoing of the United States since before the ink on the Constitution was dry. For 250 years the United States has been playing a losing game with metaphysical primaries, and now, finally, the wheels are coming off in a most spectacular and terrifying fashion. On the one hand the United States is founded on the enlightenment principle of individual liberty. What this means in summary is that the Constitution acknowledges the sufficiency of man to his own existence; the ability of human will and thus choice to effect moral outcomes and to establish productive social cohesion. In short, man is ABLE, through the exercise of his will, to EXIST. Man is by nature a thinking and thus a necessarily WILLFUL agent, and therefore his natural and most productive state of being is freedom—of life, liberty, and property. FREEDOM, the Constitution implies, is the most efficacious means of ensuring man’s of survival. Man, as an individual, in his natural state, is utterly sufficient to existence. This is why government shall be elected, not appointed by the ruling class; why property and the means of production are privately owned, not loaned to the masses by the State; why terms of governance are voted upon by representatives, not spontaneoulsy dictated to the people and laced with implicit violence; and why men are free to speak their minds up to and including overt and vigorous criticism of the government and its officials. It is because what man thinks actually matters; man’s mind is capable of discerning truth from false hood, and thus good from evil, and therefore is capable of and entitled to a say in how his government behaves and who shall be granted the privilege of running it.

On the other hand, the Constitution ALSO AFFIRMS government. And the metaphycial premise which underwrites government as an entity and renders it an existential ABSOLUTE and a object NECESSITY, and gives notions of its non-existence and lack of necessity the same amount of intellectual credence as most of us would give unicorns and fairies, is the premise which says that man, in and of himself, according ot his nature and residing at the very fundamental core of his being, is utterly INSUFFICIENT to existence; unfit for survival. The pointed necessity of government is the idea that man CANNOT be left alone to exist only unto himself, to and from his own mind, and through his own power to think and to choose and discern and decide between truth and lie, and good and evil. The whole point of government is the metaphysical argument that man simply cannot be trusted to act ethically outside of the auspices  of a supreme coercive Authority which shall DICTATE truth and morality TO him and thereby manifest ethics by FORCE. Authority shall be the purveyor of the LAW (the ethical Standard)…government shall be the Law’s  practical manifestation in the world, and this is the ONLY way to guarantee that man can have any sort of effective, efficacious, and productive existence. Religion calls the great Folly of man’s being which necessitates Authority his “sin nature”; secular philosophy calls it “the will to power”; science calls it “the survival of the fittest”. But they all amount to the same thing: Man cannot  be left alone to decide the terms of his own individual existence. He cannot possibly be expected to live productively and morally and perpetually according to nothing but his own natural capacity. Man must be forced by an external and supremely violent Authority to think and act properly. Government exists PRECISELY because man cannot exist ALONE. in other words, the essential point of the State is to be MAN FOR man.

Think back to the solutions I submitted as the two primary means of rectifying a tyrannical State. Are you seeing the problem? I hope so. Do you see how the contradiction of attempting to synthesize an Individualist Metaphyic (man is sufficient to his own existence) with a Collectivist one (man is INSUFFICIENT to his own existence) creates an insurmountable barrier to any successful resolution of the problem of tyrannny? If man’s nature makes him insufficient to existence absent a coercive authority to compel him into right thinking and behavior, how can he ALSO be sufficient to hold that Authority accountable to a particular ethical standard? If man’s mind and will alone is insufficient to lead a moral and efficacious existence without a government to enable him to do so through its enumeration and codification of “rights” through law and the implementation of that law through force, then how can man claim that his mind and will IS sufficient to ascertain when the government has strayed from its proper duties and needs to be corrected? If man is capable of understanding the difference between right and wrong, and truth and falsehood, to the point where he can tell when his own existence is being violated by the State, AND he is capable of articulating efficacious methods of seeking and acheiveing redress for that violation, then he clearly DOESN’T NEED GOVERNMENT IN THE FIRST PLACE. That is, the fundamental philosophical premise by which the legitimacy of government is established is contradicted by the claim that man has a right and the inherent ability to either terminate his relationship with government or to replace the ruling class with new members IF he deems that government is no longer acting in his own best interests.

Conclusion:

Here is an enumerated summary of the intellectual error of the notion that government shall be held accountable to the people; and this is with respect to all of my aforementioned arguments on the subject:

1.Because of man’s natural existential insufficiency, he requires a government to hold him ethically accountable; yet simultaneously man is required  to hold government ethically accountable when he deems it no longer capable or willing to properly discharge its duty of holding HIM accountable. Clearly this is a contradiction; if man is by nature insufficient to ethical living, then he cannot possibly be in a position to hold the government accountable to the ethics which necessarily elude the very existence of himself qua himself. If man IS capable of holding the government ethically accountable, then man does not need to be coerced by government force into ethical living. He is quite capable of recognizing ethics and acting upon them all on his own.

2. Since there is no Authority above the Authority of the State to compel it by force into ethical behavior, then we are left to hope and trust that those in power will CHOOSE to act ethically in order to prevent the State from exceeding its constitutional mandate and becoming tyrannical. (And, no, Christians cannot claim God is the Authority above the State because Christian doctrine makes the State merely an extension of him. It provides NO fundamental metaphysical distinction between God and Government whatsoever). However, the root philosophical argument which legitimizes government is the metaphysical claim that man is by nature entirely insufficient, in and of himself, absent a practical coercive Authority (the government), to truly apprehend ethics and to act upon them. Man’s mind and will are inadequate to effectively manifest the ethics necessary for him to survive; that is, his ability to choose ethical action is corrupted by his nature. Thus, the idea that we must trust men in government to CHOOSE to act ethically—as a hedge against tyranny—is a contradiction of the very root premise of government.

3. Government is to use authoritative force to compel the people into right thinking and behavior because they are incapable of this on their own, by nature. Yet it is claimed that the people have a right to reject the government if they do not like the way it decides to wield its authority. In other words, man has a right to choose how he shall be FORCED to act. This, too, is a contraction.

4. It is claimed that the people possess an Authority which trumps government Authority should government exceed its mandate and become tyrannical. Yet it is clearly a contradiction to claim that those under the authority  of government have authority OVER government. If we claim that government rules by the “will of the people” then we claim that people are willingly choosing to submit themselves to governmental Authority, which is a contradiction, AND we imply that man’s will IS an effective means of manifesting just and ethical living . But if man’s will is sufficient and efficacious to just and ethical living, then there is no point in submititing it to an Authority which exists BECAUSE of the premise which states that man’s will is NOT in fact sufficient nor efficacious to just and ethical living.

END

 

The Cognitive Dissonance of “Easy Contradiction”: Why I am accused of being too rigid and abstruse (PART TWO)

I am a “black and white” absolutist philosopher simply because I deny that black can also be white at the same time…that A is also B, that the square is also the circle, that what IS simultaneously IS NOT.  The fact that I reject rank contradiction, which is the bane and the intellectual, moral, and rational failure of pretty much ALL world philosophies, makes me much too petulant and pedantic and confusing to pass for a serious thinker.  I boil down to a thin, simmering layer of arcane (at best) ideology, selfishly demanding that 2+2 not equal both 4 AND 5, and throwing a temper tantrum when this childish demand is not met.

Hmm…

I must say I find it both ironic and hypocritical that so often this criticism comes from some of the most rigid ideologues the world has ever spawned:  Christians.  Usually of the orthodox pedigree.

Hmm…

If you are a church member today in good standing, I dare you to try espousing the virtue, or even the mere possibility of virtue, of any other doctrine or theology, be it from another religion altogether or merely a deviation from orthodox Biblical interpretation.  Suggest even a mild stray from traditional thinking, like, say, questioning the moral necessity and efficacy of abstaining from profanity, and watch what happens nine times out of ten.  You’ll be met with polite but utterly categorical disregard, and tacitly denounced as nurturing abject wickedness.  You’ll soon be tagged as a likely insurrectionist…one to watch out for, and there will be a hyper-vigilant monitoring of your presence and influence.  Now, dare stray from a truly cornerstone doctrinal issue, like the Trinity or Pedestination or Penal Substitution, and all but the very slimmest pretense of civility goes right out the stained-glass window.  You will be explicitly denounced as an emissary of Satan…an apostate of the worst kind.  Overnight those “Christians” who were once so emphatically and eternally devoted to you and your family become, effectively, total strangers.  You may retain a smattering of “rebels” who are willing to risk eternal damnation to send you an email now and again, or to get together for coffee, but make no mistake, the vast majority of your “church family” will have held court without you, denounced you as a traitor and a wolf, and will divorce you from their reality entirely.  You are dead to them.  No, worse than that.  You are never-born to them.

Don’t believe me?  Go ahead and try.  See what happens.  I dare you.  Walk up to your nearest member of the church leadership next Sunday and tell them that you have rejected the doctrine of Original Sin, Total Depravity, the Fall of Man, and/or the Trinity, as irrational and unbiblical.  When the leadership and its sycophants eventually engage you for the purposes of “gentle correction”, explain to them that none of those terms appear in Scripture, ever, anywhere.  When they mellifluously tell you that the spirt of scripture clearly implies that such doctrines be absolutely true, ask them when “clearly implies” stopped being an oxymoron, and where scripture implies that one also means three, God controls all things yet doesn’t control them because man is still responsible for his sin and sin nature, or that punishing the innocent for the sake of the guilty is a moral duty (with respect to Penal Substitution).

Watch what happens. After a merely ceremonious appeal to divine enlightenment followed by some rational equivocation, they’ll pull the “God’s chosen Authority” card and you’ll be banished as an imposter and interloper.  And then you will feel the stress of yet another completely irrational and unbiblical doctrine oft employed by Christians:  Excommunication.

So, yes, I find it just a little bit precious when I AM the one called “absolutist” and “unforgiving” for merely refusing to accept that “tree” also means “mailbox”.  In psychology, I believe they call that kind of thing “projection”.

*

I find it insulting and intellectually lazy when my ideas are labeled too abstruse or confusing…too full of enigmatic, circumspect rationalizations; too unwieldy for any practical use.  Just too damn hard to understand.

Okay.  Here’s a list of ideas that apparently are not too hard to understand, if you’ll indulge me.  And in this list you will see arguments and ideas I have encountered from not just Christian circles, but political and scientific as well.  And this is just a mere fraction of the conflicted ideas I have stumbled across in my attempts to get at a rationally consistent interpretation of reality.  And make no mistake, these ideas are taken very seriously by the most accomplished and prodigious intellectuals in the world, and are often also accepted wholesale as axiomatic by the vast majority of laypersons.

-Government exists to protect private property, and it obtains the resources to do so through the tax code, which takes one’s private property by force.  This is thought to be not only completely rational but many times a moral necessity!

-Libertarians want to reduce the size of government by running for office.  In other words, they intend to use the power of the government to reduce the power of government.

-God is infinite and man is finite.  This means hat the finite and the infinite co-exist.  In other words, what is infinite stops where finite begins.  In other words, “limited infinity” is a thing.

-Time and space were created at the Big Bang. In other words, the Big Bang never actually happened, since it has neither a location nor an instant.

-Space is a vacuum.  Wormholes are holes in space.  In other words, there are physicists seriously considering the reality of holes inside another hole.

-We often hear the phrase “beginning of time”.  Of course, time is the beginning.  In other words, there is such a thing as the beginning of the beginning.

-Atheists don’t believe in God, and assert that the concept of God is completely irrational whilst simultaneously appealing to omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, infinite, untouchable, transcendent powers called the “Laws of Physics” which are invisible as distinct from the objects they supposedly control and create.  In other words, atheism is polytheism, soon to be monotheism once the geniuses at MIT and Cambridge get around to discovering the “answer to everything.”

-Scientists claim that the observer is a function of what he observers.  In other words, the observer observes himself from outside himself.

-Consciousness is a direct function of unconsciousness (categorically unconscious natural law).  In other words, consciousness is an “illusion”…which in this case is a euphemism for “doesn’t actually exist”.  So what exactly is it an illusion of?

-It is true to claim that absolute truth cannot be known, and that the inability of man to truly know anything absolutely is intellectually and morally meaningful to him.  In other words, its very important to know that you can’t know.

-Einstein’s theory of time travel implies that such travel is both to the future and the past,  depending ENTIRELY on the observer, making time travel so completely relative that it becomes functionally meaningless.  In other words, time travel is both possible and ABSOLUTELY irrelevant…which is to say, possible and impossible.

Now, this is what I have gleaned from that short list.  Apparently, for my philosophy to be sufficiently digested by the masses and made fit for practical employment, I must somehow find a compromise—in gentler terms…what is meant is actually a synthesis—between mutually exclusive concepts.  This will make me warm and fuzzy and comfortable and relatable and rational.

And here it seems I’ve stumbled upon yet another contradiction to add to the list.  It never seems to end.

*

All right, let us finally put away the rabbit and hat and reveal just how the logical magic trick of contradiction (often mislabeled, either deliberately or unknowingly, as “paradox”) is performed.  Humanity has for too long accepted that contradiction is a legitimately rational means of reconciling extremely complex or seemingly unresolvable concepts, or explaining observations (e.g. the wave-particle duality of light) that are not easily integrated into linguistic paradigms.  In other words, humanity has consistently revealed itself to be, in unfortunately typical fashion, intellectually lazy on the whole.  Or at least, too willing to accept intellectual insufficiency as the apogee of man’s mind.  The reason why it’s easier to “understand” contradiction as “truth” is simple:  because there’s NOTHING to understand.  And I mean literally.  To declare that A is also B makes both A and B…well, nothing.  A is also Not A; and B is also Not B.  By this methodology we get a complete vacuum of meaning…a hole in one’s consciousness instead of a truth.  The assertion that the square is also the circle is to admit that you cannot actually say which is which, and this, ultimately, only means that you have thrown up your hands and surrendered reality to…well, who knows?  You cannot say, because you’ve rejected the means by which anything is said at all.  And if you have surrendered your grip on reality by accepting even a tincture of contradiction as somehow commensurate with truth, then you have spoiled the entirety of understanding.  A pinch of leaven leavens the whole batch, so it is said, and this is true likewise of contradiction.  To claim even one contradiction as truth is to render the entirety of reality ITSELF a contradiction.

If you find my ideas too arcane and rigid, and too aggrandizing of human reason, then I humbly submit that this has nothing to do with the actual substance of my ideas and everything to do with the fact that you have become shamefully complacent in your thinking, and have compounded this error with ignorance.  That one who asserts that mutually exclusive concepts can be synthesized to form truth, or that truth is a measure of degrees, or that the key to understanding is realizing that humanity lacks sufficiency for fundamental understanding…yes, that the one who peddles this mystical, ethereal, esoteric, senseless, pseudo-spiritual bromide should suggest that I am the one whose ideas are much too far beyond the boundaries of human sensibility is exceedingly facile.  I might even say amatuerish.  If you struggle to comprehend the axiom that there can be no such thing as a square circle, then might I suggest you glance in a mirror to discover just which one of us is the real rational grifter.

And look, I get your oblique point.  Unraveling contradictions that have been accepted as axiomatic of reality and truth for often hundreds of years or more can seem exceedingly tedious, complex, full of ostensible random minutia, and just plain nonsensical.  But that this is MY fault is an accusation I refuse to accept.  I am not the one who built whole civilizations out of bullshit.  Civilization and all of its bullshit—from the Church to the State and all of the the little religious and scientific determinism bullshit in between—was already here when I got here.  And this is precisely my point.  It’s not okay to fault me, intellectually or morally, for a problem I did not create; nor is it okay to condemn me for the mess a fully ensconced contradiction makes when it is finally extracted.  Don’t blame the paramedic because the bandages get hella bloody.

END

The Cognitive Dissonance of “Easy Contradiction”: Why I am accused of being too rigid and abstruse (PART ONE)

I have heard it a million times…it’s become simply a toll I must pay daily to make my commute to philosophy and back. I am too much of an absolutist (I love that one…makes me sound almost tyrannical); too “black and white”.  I am unwilling to compromise…things are either this or that, yes or no, there’s no room for negotiation, no allowance for mystery, the unknowable, divine intervention, truth beyond man’s mind; that there are notions and ideas which matter but which we cannot fully explain.  Which of course begs the question: If we can’t really explain them, then how do we know they matter?

But we won’t worry about the rational failures coming from my critics.  Rationality clearly isn’t a priority.  Pity.

By being labeled an absolutist, too committed to stark demarcation between truth and lie; right and wrong; black and white, it is insinuated that I reject the bell curve.  That I believe and assert that there is no such thing as degrees of anything, but all either is or is not.  This is ludicrous.  Now, I can understand how one might initially perceive this to be the case with me, as my focus is on rooting out contradiction from meaning and understanding…which is to say, to indicate what MUST be false, and from that determine what MUST thus be true, and then explain why truth then cannot be integrated with its own nullification (though I’m not sure why this needs explaining at all, exactly…once we know what must be false it seems to me a pretty direct and obvious line to the determination that it cannot also be true).  So, in the sense that contradiction is in fact NOT a bell curve, yes, I am an absolutist. For example, the contradiction that says that it is somehow relevant for us to know that God controls all things but yet we are still responsible for our own moral choices is COMPLETELY false.  Why?  It’s obvious!  Why does this even need explaining to anyone not five years-old or younger?!  You cannot integrate the concept of personal responsibility with an utterly determinist God.  To attempt to merge these mutually exclusive concepts is not “thinking in degrees” or some form of virtuous compromise, it’s complete bullshit and should be rejected out of hand by anyone with an ounce of intellectual integrity.

You don’t have ANY frame of reference for the assertion that A is simultaneously B!  You can’t assert that such a contradiction is true without implying that you have NO MEANS by which you can EVER ascertain truth.  Because your fundamental epistemology is rooted in the fact that something can both be true (God controls ALL things) AND false (man makes his own choices and thus bears responsibility for them, which means that God doesn’t actually control all things) at the same time.  In which case truth is impossible, because it intersects with falsehood.  Truth is and isn’t true, in other words.  And THAT is nothing.  Just irritating noise coming out of your mouth hole.

But by making it a constant theme in my philosophy that contradiction cannot somehow pass for rationally consistent truth I am called too rigid…an absolutist.  Just too doggone black and white.  No compromise; no bell curve.  The only two flavors are chocolate and vanilla.  The only dinner options are Italian and Mexican.  The only breed of political ideology is American Republican or American Democrat.  By rejecting contradiction as in any way meaningful, I somehow reject the existence of strawberry; believe that Chinese food is a myth, and declare that Libertarianism is only practiced in Fantasy Land.  There are only dog people and cat people, no one ever owns a turtle; there are only squares or circles…the liar claims to prefer rectangles.  There is no gray…no spectrum of color.  My philosophy is fundamentalist in the most LITERAL and OVERT of ways.  EVERYTHING is an illusion that isn’t A or B.

C, D, E etc. are mere interlopers.

I show myself nothing more than an immovable ideologue…nothing but “black and white” philosophy, you see, because I DARE commit the OUTRAGEOUS intellectual sin of declaring that black cannot simultaneously be white.  This makes me a moral pariah to “learned” and “less judgemental” Christian acquaintances, who are much more versed in the holy and compassionate virtues of wisdom, compromise, temperance, and forgiveness than a recalcitrant asshole like myself could ever be.  I’m a prick because I won’t let people have their cake and eat it, too.  The bromide of soft contradiction is something I refuse to ingest, and that makes me a criminal.

Do you remember who it was that was so intent on convincing Adam and Eve that knowledge (truth) came from OUTSIDE of themselves, from a tree, and not from their own rational minds…not from living life as a thinking agent?  Do you remember who it was that was so enthusiastic about the idea that man’s own reason had nothing fundamental to do with reality?  That truth is a function not of man’s own innate ability to reason fact from fiction, and thus integrity  from perniciousness, morality from mendacity, but from some special,  magical, ethereal enlightenment granted from beyond?  And thus implied that man’s mind itself could not be trusted to SAY what is TRUE at any given moment because what man says “IS” might simultaneously be “IS NOT”, and so man should simply accept a DICTATED truth, rather than think for himself….do you remember who this was?

You who are so quick to judge me as stubborn and cruel and arcane and abstruse and exacting and pedantic and judgemental…why don’t you root out the serpent in your own tree?

END PART ONE

Debating Substantive Issues is Fruitless

I think debate is a waste of time.

I know that this proclamation may be quite puzzling coming from someone so committed to reason and cooperation.  And I know how valued debate is in our culture…though less so in our current political climate, which is trending solidly toward violence.  But given the number of debates I have had and seen during my lifetime, and especially since my break from Christian orthodoxy, which put me at odds with the majority of my friends and family, it is impossible not to notice how people simply NEVER change their fundamental positions—their premises and conclusions.  If anything, the more rationally consistent one participant is, the more stringently the other commits to his intellectual error.  So after years of witnessing this both directly and indirectly, in thousands of instances, I am forced to come to the disturbing conclusion that regardless of my commitment to voluntarism and idea exchange, debate is simply an irresponsible way to spend one’s time and emotional and intellectual resources.  It just doesn’t work.  You can’t drive a railroad spike into the ground with a rubber mallet, and you cannot reason someone into or out of a position by argument.  You just can’t.

This admission, finally made, while disturbing and disappointing given the amount of energy I have spent trying to change others’ minds, and they trying to change mine, is also somewhat freeing.  I can now evolve as an intellectual and an academic, and put my resources into more productive and fulfilling activities.  For instance, I have committed to no longer debating in the comments section of this blog, or others, or on facebook or any other social media platform.  Instead, I will spend more time and energy writing articles, pursing questions and finding answers, and less time caring too much whether or not anyone agrees with me.  I understand that the integrity of the ideas is the most important thing, and that my focus should be all about getting to the truth of each and every question, not maximizing agreement, and not even about presenting ideas in the most appealing or un-abstruse manner possible (not that I can really be accused of doing that anyway on this blog).  Because—and please understand that I am not saying that I have ALL the answers or am the paragon of intellectual consistency—rational and intelligent people will grasp my meaning, or at least apprehend the question I am trying to answer and see why doing so is important—and the more obtuse and complacent amongst us, let’s be honest, won’t get it and won’t care no matter how directly or simplistically the argument is made.  And bye the bye, I think that putting complex arguments into simplistic conveyances isn’t a very good idea, anyway.  Bumper sticker philosophy can be a fine way to affirm the opinions of those who ALREADY agree with a certain ideal, for whatever that’s worth (the laughably facile and ubiquitous “COEXIST” sticker comes to mind immediately), but this seems like a general waste of time.  Better to formulate the argument as comprehensively as possible, despite it being perhaps more arcane and involved, than to leave out a bunch of details which are inexorably necessary to the argument’s root veracity.

In other words, real understanding doesn’t proceed from the ass-end of a car.

Additionally, foresaking any concern with HOW to convince someone of an idea makes studying the idea more fun and relaxing.  Realizing that people who hold contrary premises and conclusions simply cannot be convinced by debate to agree or disagree with a certain idea puts YOUR understanding front and center, where it should be, not the understanding of others.  Now, I’m certainly not arguing that we shouldn’t have an utterly rational foundation for whatever we accept as truth, just that arriving at this foundation doesn’t need to appeal to anyone  else, not because other people don’t matter, but because it CANNOT be MADE to appeal to them, no matter how you develop it—they either accept it or they don’t, you need not spend much time on the aesthetics of your argument.  It only needs to be rationally consistent.  Further, the HOW you arrive at your conclusions and premises, though complex perhaps, WILL I believe necessarily be appealing and ultimately understandable to those who are are already rational.  The rational and intelligent among us are first and foremost committed to truth, as oppposed to the mysticism, sophistry and contradiction which underwrites most peoples’ root thinking, and at the end of the day rational and intelligent people don’t really care how complicated the path is.  Getting to the truth is what matters, not how comfortable or direct it Is for them.  The rational and the intelligent, who understand the deep moral relevance of the truth, WILL pursue it through fire and fury and hell and high water to get to it.  The lazy and/or the stupid and/or the cowardly will not be compelled to apprehend it even if given a map that points them in a straight line to an X which is marked merely across the room.

Now, having said all of that, let us get to question begged here:  Why is debating (issues of substance, in particular) such a waste of time?  Well, let’s talk briefly about philosophy.

Philosophy is cumulative as well as corollary. What I mean by this is that each philosophical category (metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, and aesthetics) except for the first (metaphysics) proceeds from the one before it (cumulative). Epistemology of course proceeds from Metaphysics, metaphysics being the first category, dealing with the nature of reality, itself.  The metaphysical premise is the fundamental Primary of the entire philosophical paradigm which all other premises infinitely imply and from which they are infinitely implied (corollary).  Epistemology considers how man knows what he knows…or more specifically, how man can say what is true and what is not.  In this article we are mostly concerned with the epistemological premise (occasionally I may refer to this as the epistemological primary) but for the sake of clarity it’s important to know all of the philosophical categories, and how they line up and their basic symbiosis.

Whether we realize it or not ALL of us hold basic philosophical premises. If we did not, we simply could not function.  For example, that you know that you don’t brush your teeth with a banana at least obliquely implies a basic interpretation of reality, which implies a philosophy, which implies premises and a metaphysical primary.  In our example you must make a distinction between you, the toothbrush, and the banana.  A is not B is not C, in other words.  Thus, you accept a practical plurality of reality…these objects exist separately.  Yet because they are relevant to you (that is, they have equal practical meaning) you accept that they also exist in a single existential context. Thus, I already somewhat know your basic metaphysical assumption: reality is both plural and relative. This is very important. Your metaphysical premise is the basis for WHY you do what you do and think what you think.

Next, because you know that a banana is NOT a toothbrush (A is not B), the plurality of (relative) existence implies that specific objects in reality have distinct definitions.  The metaphysical idea that A is not B implies a difference in meaning, and the specific meanings elucidated are epistemological. Metaphysics says that A is not B. Epistemology says that A is a banana and B is toothbrush.

Next, you know that it is irrational to brush your teeth with a banana.  Another way of saying this is that it is not good (where “good” in this case is defined as “productive”) to use A to do a job reserved for B based upon its practical definition. This is a form of ethics—how you value things in a given context depending on their meaning and the nature of their relativity and relevance to you and each other at the existential level.

And here I could go on to politics and aesthetics, but you get the idea. However, I wish to make it clear that no one should ever assert it is a simple thing to determine the sum and substance of a given individual’s philosophy, for such a thing can be extremely complex, full of nuance, ostensible and/or subtle contradictions, and even rank delusion.  Not to say that it is impossible to determine with relative certainty the nature of someone’s philosophy at a detailed level, but it takes quite a bit of experience with and observation of their behavior, not to mention listening to what they actually say about what they believe, which is, unsurprisingly, probably the best way to figure it out.  So, while I can get an oblique picture of one’s ideas, philosophically speaking, by simply observing them brushing their teeth, there is a great depth to one’s understanding about the nature of their existence which reveals itself much more fully the better one knows them.  I cannot tell the difference between a collectivist and an individualist by their teeth brushing beyond the fact that they on some level accept an existential distinction between and contextual relativity amongst themselves and the toothbrush (and everything else involved in the process).  But I cannot see where those philosophical assumptions may give way to the contradiction and delusion of, say, a theocratic socialist state, in the case of the collectivist, or provide a simple but sturdy framework for the argument of property rights and self-ownership, in the case of the the individualist.

At any rate, the point is that we all have a philosophy and we all hold philosophical premises in all five categories.  We simply must, because such a thing is endemic to our identity as thinking creatures, period.

So back to the issue at hand.

Let us focus on the epistemological premise, because this deals with how reality is specifically defined and interpreted, and so it deals most directly and most substantially with the topic of debate.

I submit that one’s epistemological premise isn’t chosen, but is simply known—and this is very important because it provides the fulcrum for my entire argument here.  The epistemological premise is either inculcated by one’s environment, such as in childhood, and reinforced by experience and perhaps instruction; or it is realized, again through experience, but perhaps later on in life—such as in my case where the hypocrisy of decades of Christian orthodoxy left me with the realization that my spiritual “belief” was, at the irreducible root, a distinction between a “truth” that is madness  (truth within the church) or a truth that is reason (truth outside the church). I left the church because experience forced me to realize that real truth could not be found there, and thus morality dictated that I abandon it.  Which I did…to great emotional harm to my family, and emotional and physical harm to myself.  This realization amounted to a categorical shift in my most fundamental philosophical assumptions, and I mean consciously.  In order to make a move like that, trust me, you have to understand the ENTIRETY of why, and ALL of the implications for the nature of your existence for the rest of your life, both this one and the hereafter.  I and my family lost 99% of our friends and aquaintances by realizing that the church is built on a lie, and that the devil, as always hiding in plain sight, was meeting us every Sunday morning at the podium on the stage in front of the big, comfortable auditorium.  You don’t make a sacrifice like that unless you know the profundity of it exactly.  And you simply cannot leave that much behind unless your philosophy utterly changes.

And it isn’t a choice.  Because one cannot choose to be insane any more than one can chose to be rational.  Once you are punched in the face with rank evil and you recognize it and realize it, you instantly become apart from it.  In that sense, I didn’t choose to leave the church.  I REALIZED a new premise, reason instead of madness, and was obliged to follow it.

*

So the epistemological premise is not a choice.  And neither is it learned, in the strictest definition of the word.  Choice is a function OF the premise, it does not precede it.  Choice is impossible unless one knows the nature of it at any given moment, and the nature of the choice depends on what what you believe about truth.  Choice is NOT how you decide what you believe about truth.  The epistemological premise is lived and subconsciously accepted, or perhaps later in life circumstances change and a new premise is realized.  But it is not something which can be merely communicated to one another by language; it is not something one can reason another into, because the epistemological premise is that FROM which reason springs, and that which reason itself thus necessarily implies.

Reason, you see, is only REASONABLE if one ALREADY has a premise which serves as the plumb line for what makes reason meaningful and efficacious.  And this is why one never changes the mind of another during argument or debate of issues of any real substance…because both parties must have the SAME epistemological frame of reference in order to actually have an argument or debate on any sort of equal platform of reason; for otherwise their frames of reference for MEANING in general are incompatible, and debate is necessarily impossible.  But the paradox thus becomes that IF they do hold to the same epistemological premise—implying, remember, a metaphyscial premise—then debate is likewise not really possible.  Because “debate” amongst two people who share the same frame of reference of meaning (reason—epistemology) and reality (existence—metaphysics) don’t debate so much as merely exchange information. That is, one or both parties simply lack certain knowledge that if they knew, WOULD have them accept the SAME perspective with respect to the argument…and debate over.  Once the information discrepancy is corrected, then reconciliation—or agreement—is inevitable (again, assuming the argument is regarding something of substance, and by that I mean, objective, as opposed to, something like, say, whether Gene Simmons is cooler than Ace Frehley).  The “debate” in this case isn’t at root a difference in how reality is interpreted, which is the foundation of any true and worthwhile debate, but again merely a deficiency of information.  In other words, the parties debating already agree with each other, they just don’t know it yet.  But if the epistemological premises are different—if there is a descrepancy between the parties’ interpretive lenses with respect to meaning, then agreement on ANY issue of substance is impossible, because each party intellectually (and thus emotionally) occupies utterly distinct realities at root, which obviously makes these realities incompatible, and agreement ultimately impossible.

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One’s epistemological premise is either reasonable (adhering to categorical conceptual consistency (e.g. a square cannot also be a cicle; black cannnot also be white; man cannot possess a depraved nature and yet be on the hook for making moral choices)) or it is not.  And again the premise is not chosen.  It is lived and unconsciously accepted or (later in life perhaps) consciously realized.  Choice I submit springs from and leads back to the premise, and thus choice is always relative to it, and therefore is in a sense superficial, all choices fundamentally and equally affirming the premise, which guarantees a particular MEANINGFUL conclusion, which may LOOK different depending on the given practical context (the context of routine daily life), but will be, when viewed in terms of the epistemological (and metaphysical) foundation, equal to ALL the conclusions of ALL of one’s choices.

*

Reasoning as an argumentative strategy is only effective on reasonable people (and the converse is also true…that is, irrationality as an argument only works on irrational people).  And a reasonable person is one who has already accepted a reasonable epistemological premise, which in turn means that he has accepted a reasonable metaphyscial premise, which is his very assumption about the root of reality itself.

Now, as I said earlier, the epistemological premise to which one holds is not a function of choice, but indeed it is the other way around.  The circumstantial context of choice in daily life may make specific choices seem fundamentally meaningful in and of themselves, but all choices are simply equal expressions of one’s premise, which isn’t chosen.  And this is why I find choice so fascinating and a little enigmatic.  I belive in conscious agency and thus choice, but I also understand that choice doesn’t play a very significant role in determining one’s actions…choice is basically superficial when it comes to fundamentally understanding WHY people do what they do.

In order for me to choose, I must already have a premise by which I devise a  working definition of what “me” is, as “me” relates to the environmental, emotional, and psychological context in which “me” finds itself, and this definition of “me” is a function of the subconsciously assumed or consciously realized epistemological premise.  To say I choose this premise is thus putting the cart before the horse.  The premise is the substrate of the meaning (to me) of reality, itself.  Thus, this primary, not my choice, is the ROOT of my ideas, and thus is WHY I make the choices I do (why I do what I do).  Therefore, if people holding mutually exclusive epistemological premises attempt to debate an issue of substance, then the absolute best that can be achieved is a stalemate.  Because I cannot CHOOSE to accept an argument which is rooted in an epistemological premise that I do not choose.

END

 

 

 

 

You Don’t Have Free Speech and Never Did

ALL governments, no matter the form, and without exception, depend upon the metaphysical presumption that the Individual is a function of the Group, not the other way around.  The Collective, being at root an IDEAL (the People, the Nation, the Race, the Class (e.g. the Workers), the Kingdom, the Church, the Tribe) demands that the Individuals within that group be defined fundamentally according to Group Identity.  And THAT definition naturally and necessarily cannot be determined by the Individual, who, in his SINGULAR metaphysical frame of reference (one’s Individual sense of Self…the reason we all use the pronoun “I”) has no root existential context for the Group.  Thus, a Ruling Class of political elites are put in charge of the Individual, and are tasked with being the incarnate representation of the Ideal and then using a codified system of ethics, known as Law, to compel Individuals into their group identity by force.  Absent this Authoritative Force, there is no Law, and without the Law there is no Collective Ideal which can be practically realized.  And unless the Collective Ideal be realized, it is no longer an Ideal at all.  In other words, Law, if non-compulsory—if optional—is not Law at all.  If the Indiviudal can CHOOSE to act in accordance with the collective Ideal, then clearly the Individual precedes the Collective in the metaphysical context.  The Individual who is free to choose whether or not he acts in accordance with group ethics is not defined by the group, and thus has no foundational collective identity, which means he cannot be beholden to a Collective Ideal…he has no Authority over him to compel him.  And an Individual who cannot be compelled by force into obeying an ethic meant to promote the Collective Ideal is an Individual who is not governed.

To be governed is, at root, to be controlled, you see.  The Individual who is in control of himself then is not governed.  Which means government is fundamentally unnecessary, and cannnot exist, because there can be no way to quantify or even qualify its efficacy in a context where it has no Authority to compel by force.

Based the above, I submit three things are certain:

  1. Government is necessarily Collectivist, making the Group the head of the Individual, metaphysically, which means that the Group forms the basis for the interpretation of reality when government is established.
  2. Government shall and must use force to compel Individuals into collective behavior, and this by its Authority to represent the Collective Ideal as its practical incarnation.
  3. Indiviudal freedom is impossible within the Collectivist Metaphysical paradigm of Goverenment/Authority/Law.  The ethics of LEGALITY demanded by the Collectivist metaphysics of Governemnt preclude CHOICE as the means by which ethics are realized. Obedience is the only means by which the Law can be satisfied.  To claim that the individual is free to choose to accept and adhere to that (the Law) which he is obligated under threat of punishment, all the way unto death, at the hands of the ruling classes, is a contradiction of reason and logic.  Choice qua choice…the ability of the Indivudal alone to determine his own outcomes at a fundamental level, from the place of a singular “I”, contradicts the very philosophical foundations of Government, and this categorically so.

Often, in response to the assertion that all Governments are fundamentally tyrannical because all Governments exist for the sole purpose of compelling the Individual into a Collective Ideal, people will bring up “free elections”. Unfortunately, the idea of citizens deciding who will represent them in Government is a thin veneer of liberty, but contains no real substance beyond the surface. I would think this obvious based on the clear contradiction imbedded in the idea:

We freely select those who shall rule us.

First, who is “We”, pale face? “We”, when we are speaking of how reality shall be organized (sociopolitical context) is a Collectivist term, and specifically rejects the idea of the Individual at the metaphysical root. Second, to vote upon which manifestation of Governing Authority one will obey is merely the illusion of choice.  True choice is not the ability to decide whether one will accept A or B, but whether he will accept A or NOT A, and B or NOT B.  In other words, true choice is that in which the indivudal is not obligated to make a choice at all, so to speak.  Even under “free” democracies, those who refuse to choose (to vote) are nevertheless obligated, by the force of Government, to obey the outcome of the vote.  This is not freedom of choice, but slavery to the State.  The faces of the State may change, but its Authority to compel individuals by violence is constant.

The illusion of choice is the illusion of freedom.  There is no freedom which can exist under the auspices of the Absolute Authority of Government, which exists ENIRELY as a function of Collectivist Metaphysics and which therefore defines Ethics in terms of Legality, not Morality (the Individaul Ethic); and Legality is entirely about FORCE, not Choice…about obedience to the Collectivist Ideal, which is practically manifest as obedience to the Ruling Political Elite.  And that which is entirely about Force cannot, by definition, have anything to do with Freedom.  All the Individual does within the context of a society ruled by the State is a function of not his freedom to choose, but of what the Government ALLOWS him to do.  The Government owns the Individual because it has the power and the purpose to define him according to the Collective Ideal, which means, necessarily and effectively, to eradicate Individuality qua Individuality entirely in favor of the metaphysics of Collectivism.

*

It has been shown that all Empires rise and fall in the same way and in approximately the same amount of time, regardless of their political structure (autocracy, democracy, monarchy, etc.).  This, I submit, is because of the inherent impossibility of combining the false reality of a Collectivist Ideal, practically represented by the State, with the rational reality of the Individual and Individualist metaphysics.  Even here in the United States, which is currently undergoing its own tragic and frankly embarrassing undulations of late-state empire behavior, is not immune from the rational cause and effect of root metaphyscial assumptions leading to inevitable social conclusions.  Which is egg on the faces of all who have lauded the uniqueness of America’s Enlightenment-influenced ideals, and the unshakable moral integrity of its founding documents.  For all of its appeals to the enlightened principles of the Rights of Man, the United States is yet again proving that when we define man collectively, society inevitably collapses.  And I must admit that of all the Empires I have studied, the fall of America is perhaps the most sickly-sentimental, the most self-loathing, and the most cliche…it’s a shameful wad of the worst and most embarrassing aspects of empire decline: gushing feminine sentimentality (every country song on the radio for example and every commercial on TV), pining for “old main street” traditions and in-your-face-flag-waving, insatiable consumerism and life-by-debt, the rampant acceptance of rank idiocy into the public discourse (e.g. daytime talk shows), immigration as a crutch for the rich and the ruling classes, and the plain old boring corruption of the selective application of Law for personal gain…and so on and so forth. And for those of you not convinced that we in the U.S. are not in the least bit unique and are merely yet another Collectivist Ideal on the verge of inevitable collapse, ask yourselves why the U.S. Constitution begins with “We the People…”, as opposed to “We the Persons…”.

It’s because Persons don’t need government.  PERSONS choose; People are ruled.

*

The following is the philosophical process of collectivism—based upon its metaphysical premise—from Epistemology to Politics; and it illustrates why, under government, you do not have freedom of speech (or any other freedom for that matter) and never did.

(an) Idea = (a) Truth (or a proposed Truth); (a) Truth = (an) Ethic; (an) Ethic = (an) Action; (an) Action = Violence (fundametally); Violence = Coercion; Coercion = Legality; Legality = (the) State

I know that this is a bit abstruse. Please bear with me.

From this we can see that ALL ideas are the purview of the ruling class. ANY idea from and by an individual thus is subject to the Authority of the State…because ideas equal actions, and these actions MUST at root serve the Collectivist Ideal; and since the realization of that Ideal is dependent upon Law, and Law is FORCE, all ideas—under the auspices of the Collectivist Ideal which in that reality DRIVE IDEAS—imply force.  And force belongs to the State.

Okay…still abstruse.

Keep bearing.

To allow the Individual to own his ideas, beyond the Law and thus beyond the coercive power of the State, is to invite a challenge to Authority, at the metaphysical level—Individualism—which the government by its nature cannot accept…ever.  To claim one’s speech is free is to claim that the Individual has a right to his ideas INDEPENDENT OF THE COLLECTIVE…that he has ownership, utterly, over his own mind, which is entirely an affirmation of INDIVIDUALIST metaphysics.

A Collectivist Authority cannot recognize an Individual’s ideas, and therefore it cannot accept them, and therefore it cannot accept the Individual speech which expresses those ideas.  It can only recognize ideas which affirm the reality of the COLLECTIVE IDEAL…which doesn’t fundamentally recognize the EXISTENCE of the Individual qua the Individual. It does not recognize the legitimacy of ANYTHING about the Individual—his thoughts or anything else.  Your “free speech” as far as the Collective reality of the Collectivist Ideal is concerned, is, like everything else, something the Government ALLOWS. And what is allowed is not, in itself, free.  It is enslaved.

*

The Collectivist Ideal is metaphysically the ROOT of reality itself, and requires a concentrated, centralized, Authoritative Force (the State) to compel Individuals into that reality.  ALL epistemology (proposed truth; ideas and speech) necessarily implies force as the means by which the Ideal will be served and become efficacious and practical in reality.  All ideas then, from the point of view of Government, can occupy one of only two possible categories:

  1. Ideas which affirm the State (Government)
  2. Ideas which threaten the power of the State (Government) and seek to replace it with a different version of Centralized Force (new Laws).

And when I say all ideas I mean ALL…from your views on heady subjects like term limits and abortion to what you want from breakfast.  All ideas, when viewed from the position of the Authority which exists soley and utterly to make the Collectvist Ideal THE standard of reality, can fundamentally ONLY mean affirmation or denial.  Period.  Full stop.  The State cannot recognize ANY OTHER MEANING.  Because all other meanings imply individual thought.  What YOU want for breakfast, from the point of view of the COLLECTIVIST AUTHORITY, has nothing whatsoever to do with YOU.  It has ONLY to do with whether or not your idea—in this case, your breakfast selection—represents a challenge to (its) power and to Collectivist reality or not.  It may sound absurd, and on some level absurd it may be, but when the categorical suppression of the Individual metaphysic is the sum and substance of Authoritative Power, it is impossible for ANY idea to mean, fundamentally, anything else.  Impossible.  All that matters is control.  Everything about the State is about control.  THAT’S what the State is.  Governement IS Force.  The two are unavoidably corollary.  There isn’t one without the other.  And thus, there isn’t any meaning to ANY idea that isn’t fundamentally about control.

And this is why speech is not, cannot, and never will be free within the context of Government, its Authority, and its Law.  All speech, like all actions and all thoughts and all ideas, is purely a function of what the State will allow.  And to do only what you are allowed to do means that fundamentally what you want to do or think or SAY is as far from free as east is from west.

END

 

 

The Difference Between the “How” and the “Why”, and Why This is Key

Oft times you will hear someone say this:

We don’t know HOW something works, we just know that it works.”

The examples given can be almost anything…whenever someone doesn’t fully understand the operation of something they will frame it as knowing it works but not knowing how.  It could be something profound, like consciousness or gravity, or, as I heard this weekend, sin.  But the “what” is a broad category…doesn’t really matter.  One might say “I know my car works, but I don’t know how it works.”  The “how” you don’t understand could be related to something as mundane as a fountain pen.

Normally, there isn’t any problem with this kind of assertion.  It makes sense on some superficial and ostensible level in everyday parlance…people know what you mean.  You’re not mechanically inclined, so you don’t know about cars.  You’ve never watched a YouTube video on how pens are made.  Last night I watched a video on how Red Wing boots are made….up until then I couldn’t have told you a thing about the process other than that leather is cut and sewn to a sole. Which isn’t half of it.

But, when we really examine the assertion, is it actually true?  Do we really not know HOW the car, or the pen, or gravity, or sin, or consciousness works?  Is that really a correct way of putting it, when we get down to the logical roots of the assumption behind the claim.

I submit no, and here’s why:

I don’t believe it’s rationally possible to claim that you know a thing works but that you don’t know how.  What does it mean…”how”?  It simply means that whatever the thing is in question is able to accomplish a particular objective as it has been defined by the user…that is, you and me, and also the maker, because the maker is also in essence a user.  That is, the maker has a specific obejective for the thing being made.

To observe the car achieving the objective of getting you from point A to point B is not only to know it works but HOW it works.  Simple empirical observation is all you need to explain how a car works.  You get in, use the wheel to steer it, the pedals to start and stop it, and it takes you to your destination.  If you can observe the car achieving the objective for which you have intended it, you can explain how it works.  Because the “how” is nothing more than the job for which the tool is designed.  Period.  How does the hammer work?

It drives the nail into the board when you hit the nail repeatedly.

How does gravity work?

I makes things hit the ground when thrown or dropped.

How does sin work?

It reminds the individual that there is no morality under law, because the Law is a legal ethic, not a moral one, and it stirs in man the desire to reject the Law, because he knows innately that the Law condemns him anyway.

Well…that last one is a biggie, and is a topic for another time.  Suffice to say, that’s my take on “sin”.

At any rate, that’s HOW those things work.  They do a thing.  That’s how.  They are a cause that produces an effect, which man then can use to either increase his understanding of his environment, or to achieve a specific practical objective, or both.

What people really mean when they say they don’t know HOW a thing works, is that they don’t know WHY.  I don’t know WHY when I push the car’s gas pedal the wheels rotate and move me from here to there.  I don’t know WHY gravity made the football hit me in the eye when it was thrown.  I don’t know WHY sin moves man to reject the law, necessarily, and innately.

Now, how and why are not entirely separate…in fact I would submit that they are not at root separate at all.  They are, in an intellectual sense, corollary.  If something accomplishes an objective (HOW), then there must be process…and this process is the why. When we are speaking philosophically or theologically or even scientifically to an extent, the process is the root metaphysics behind the issue. WHY DOES IT MATTER?  WHY is man inherently involved?

Now, practically, “why” and “how” may indeed be distinct.  I don’t need to know why the car works to know that it works.  I don’t need to know the process of the internal combustion engine to know how a car gets me to the store.  And like I said at the beginnning, conflating “how” and “why” is not often irrational…people get what we mean when we say we don’t know how a car works.  But if we are talking about things much more existentially profound, like “sin”, or “consciousness”, well, I think we really do need to be clear on the distinction.  We know that there is “sin’, and we know that there is “consciousness”, and we know how they work…otherwise, we could not see the effects and define these things at all.  But we cannot stop there.  We cannot reject or ignore the “why”; we cannot pretend the process doesn’t matter when it comes to forming our root understanding of the nature of reality and determining our understanding of Truth and Goodness.  Even worse, we cannot assume or assert that the process is unknowable; that the “why” doesn’t have an answer.  If we say that consciousness works, but that the “why” is non-existent or unknowable (which, practically speaking, there isn’t any difference between the two) then we cannot actually claim that it works at all.  And if we cannot claim that it works then we cannot claim that it exists.

To say that something works but that there isn’t a process, or that that process is unknowable, is to make that thing effectively a function of…well, magic, I suppose.  Supernatural intervention.  The grand Divine Will, or however else you want to label the pablum.  It becomes a fantasy, and moves man out of reality and into the realm of wishful thinking and hope-over-reason.  And we all know where that leads us. Intellectual disaster, eventually becoming real, physical, and visceral disaster.

In summary, when we are considering the profound scientific, philosophical, and theological issues of our day, or of any days past, let’s not conflate the “how” and the “why”; and for humanity’s sake let’s not assert one without also asserting the other.  To fundametally understand how IS to understand why.  Without both—an intellectual distinction of a practical corollary that gives real meaning and purpose to the issue—there is no understanding at all.

END

Illusion and Existence as Ersatz, Postmodern Philosophical Primaries

If anything is said to be an illusion, the following two questions are begged:

An illusion of what?

An illusion for whom?

Both “what” and “whom” must be actual things, and must be distinct. They are, in fact, a prerequisite to illusion. Unless some actual one is experiencing an illusion of some actual thing (that is, unless a real person is experiencing an illusion of a thing or things derived from, and apprehended via the reference of, reality) then there can be no illusion. Therefore, illusion itself cannot be a (philosophical) primary; and I know that this statement may seem obvious, but when you hear the scientific determinists–the post modern priest class as I like to call them–implicitly or explicitly refer to the illusion of human choice and by extension the illusion of consciousness, it seems that obvious statements are no longer so obvious. When leading neurological scientists like Sam Harris and Nobel Prize winning astrophysicists like Stephen Hawking can’t seem to follow basic rational consistency or utter a single coherent philosophical statement, one is forced to explicate the obvious, unfortunately. (As good as these guys are at science is as bad as they are at philosophy, is what I mean to say.)

Interestingly–and this will annoy the Objectivists and others who nod to Aristotle–“Existence”, as a metaphysical primary, is like “Illusion” as postmodern philosophy’s (e.g. scientific determinism) epistemological primary. It begs the same two questions:

Existence of what?

Existence for whom?

As with illusion, both what and whom must be actual things and they must be distinct. Which means they must have a root that precedes existence. If what and whom are both metaphysically identical (both absolute) products of Existence–which Existence as a metaphysical primary implies–then there is no root distinction between what exists and who observes it to exist (“who” being the rational frame of reference for that which is). And therefore there is no one to define what exists. And if what exists cannot be defined then who exists cannot either. Which renders Existence as a metaphycial primary entirely absent meaning. Which it is.

(Side note: You see, all definitions of what exists are products of man’s consciousness, which by the boundaries placed upon truth by Existence can have no fundamental, objective bearing upon reality, which is entirely ALL of Existence, including consciousness itself. Existence doesn’t just subordinate consciousness, it makes it entirely irrelevant and redundant…that is, impossible, and…that’s a problem.)

My point here is that postmodern determinism such as averred by atheistic and scientifically rooted philosophers proffers the idea of Existence and Illusion as metaphycial and epistemological primaries, respectively. And in both cases these primaries beg two questions which must be answered and then when answered undermine those primaries entirely. “Whom” and “What” cannot at root be products of Existence or Illusion. It’s actually the other way around.

Or you might say that if “Of what?” and “For whom?” have no answer then Existence and Illusion as anything but subjective assumptions are nullified. And if they have an answer then Illusion and Existence as anything but subjective assumptions are nullified.

(Part 3: Quick and Easy Criticism of UPB) The Multitudinous Problems with Secular Ethics: A critique of Universally Preferable Behavior

 

UPB begs the question: Why should preferable behavior be preferable? Or, said another way: Why is preferable behavior good? If we say: UPB is good because it’s UPB, then we have a circular reasoning (tautology), which is a logical fallacy. If we say that UPB is good because it’s good for individuals, then the individual, not UPB, is the ethical standard. In this case “universality” is an irrelevant ethical concept. Since individuals are individual, collectivizing their actions (demanding or even suggesting universal compliance) contradicts their existence. Which implies that the individual is not actually the ethical standard. Pursuing UPB then demands the collectivization of humanity, and once this happens, “preference” goes out the window. Since preference is a parameter of consciousness, and consciousness is and can only be singular (a function of the Individual qua the Individual), it has nothing whatsoever to do with Universally Preferable Behavior.

Trust NO philosophy from anyone which implies the collectivization of humanity. No matter how warm and fuzzy and peaceful it may sound, it’s all utterly evil. There is no rational apologetic for ethics which demand or imply universal compliance. They are all the spawn of hell. Period.

(Part Two: Why UPB Self-Nullifies) The Multitudinous Problems with Secular Ethics: A critique of Universally Preferable Behavior

[I apologize in advance for the tedious and highly technical nature of the following article. Bear with me. There really isn’t an easy way to do this. Thanks.]

1. If UPB is simply a set of possible choices, but does NOT reference an absolute moral Standard which makes compliance with UPB not simply preferable, but necessary in order to avoid some kind of irreparable existential contradiction, which thus implies and necessitates some irreparable existential injury (however that is defined…if it even needs to be defined at all), then UPB cannot claim to be either universal nor preferable, since there is no fundamental existential difference between compliance and non-compliance. In which case, UPB self-nullifies.

2. If UPB IS considered an inexorable natural law–referencing itself as its own absolute moral Standard–to which the individual is obligated or face some form of irreparable existential injury (however that is defined…if it even needs to be defined at all) then UPB is not preferable, but necessary, and perfunctory, and it self-nullifies.

3. If UPB is a legal (as opposed to ethical or moral) Standard–that is, Law as defined by a legal Authority, like the State–then by definition the individual is legally obligated to comply, and non-compliance results in punishment which, though legal, is, for all practical purposes, existential in its effect, since the manifestation of the ownership of oneself–i.e. free will/choice–while under State sanction is impossible. And therefore, UPB is not preferable and therefore self-nullifies.

Now, to expand upon point number two; and the reason is because this argument is, as I observe, the primary argument utilized by apologists for secular ethics:

If UPB is considered merely a de facto parameter of (one’s) Existence–that is, the perfunctory behavior of (one’s) Existence which affirms that (one’s) Existence actually exists, then UPB is nullified. Meaning, if we use the argument that because we observe that species or the individuals of that species behave in ways which are consistent with survival and reproduction and then claim that this behavior is actually preferable…we’ve contradicted ourselves and shown that such behavior cannot possibly be preferable, let alone ethical, and is only universal in that it is simply a de facto function of Existence qua Existence. In other words, if we remove choice–moral agency–from ethics entirely, or make it purely a function of the laws of nature, then a choice is never actually chosen. However, removing choice contradict ethics as meaningful in any rational or practical way, because amoral ethics imply behavior which doesn’t make a distinction between good behavior or bad behavior. So…why would any given behavior be preferable? It wouldn’t.

Also, notice how in scientific terms, which are the secularist’s terms of epistemology, ALL action is merely “behavior”…”choice” as a vehicle is sophistically smuggled in later–a bromide meant for and used by the small minority of non-communist atheists as a nod to the non-aggression principle; but UPB pairs with the NAP like salad pairs with Guinness.

If we accept Existence as the Metaphysical Primary, and therefore objective (empirical) reality and natural law as its practical Ethical and Epistemological derivatives , then we must admit that one cannot act via his Existencee in a way which contradicts his Existence…so regardless of what one does, and therefore what one chooses, one must necessarily always be acting ethically. To claim that one can somehow violate the terms of his or someone else’s (absolute) Existence by Existence, itself, is a contradiction in terms. Therefore, if UPB is said to be an Ethic derived from Existence, it is impossible for one to violate it, since one cannot violate the very thing that makes all behavior–like the “violation” itself– ultimately possible.

On the other hand, if we were to place UPB outside of (one’s) Existence and then argue that, as an Ethic outside of Existence (which is its own giant fallacy, given that Existence is the Metaphysical Primary for all apologists for UPB, I think), failure to follow UPB somehow amounts to an Ethical, and therefore moral, violation, and therefore is evil, and therefore obliges men to “prefer” UPB,  then the individual–as a rank existant–could neither be the source nor the reference for UPB, which makes whatever the individual prefers, and thus ultimately chooses, entirely besides the point…since his choice and preference are a function of himself. This again, as I asserted above in point 3., relegates UPB to the status of a Legal Code–the Legal Law–which means that coercion by a legal Authority, not preference, is the only legitimate and rational means of fulfilling the Law.

Now, if we claim that (one’s) existence is not in fact absolute, but somehow transient–an effect and not a cause, as it were, or a function of some Absolute Cause outside of (one’s) existence, then we would have no logical reason to conclude that behavior which promotes one’s existence is preferable to behavior which does not. For (one’s) existence, being non-absolute, is no more valid a state of nature than is his non-existence. Non-existence, because existence is not absolute, does not violate the Absolute Cause (that of which (one’s) existence AND non-existence is a direct effect), and therefore it can be no more rationally nor morally preferable to behave in ways that promote existence–of either oneself or others–than to behave in ways that do not. And therefore by what basis can we argue that UPB is actually preferable at all? No basis.

Interestingly, I have noticed that those who promote Existence as the Metaphysical Primarily DO, irrationally, make the distinction between Existence, the Primary, and one’s individual existence–because they understand that individual existence necessarily incorporates consciousness, and therefore they reject it as having anything to do with Existence qua Existence, because consciousness they assert is not objective, because it’s not empirical. But you see as soon as one makes the distinction between conscious existence (consciousness) and Existence the Primary, then whatever the individual consciously prefers--and all preference is conscious by definition–is beside the point. When you reject consciousness as fundamental to Existence you necessarily reject choice. Which means that you reject choice as fundamentally meaningful, which not only wrecks UPB but wrecks morality entirely, and makes any discussion of Ethics pointless.  I submit, however, that if we oblige consciousness to rational consistency, which is entirely logical (and a separate article), then reason alone serves as a perfect and categorical guide to Ethical behavior, because it makes Truth actually and objectively possible.

Part three very soon.

(Part One: Introduction and Ironic Metaphysical Roots) The Multitudinous Problems with Secular Ethics: A critique of Universally Preferable Behavior

There’s no short way of doing this. At least not one that I prefer (see what I did there?), so I will just get to it. A while ago I was introduced to something called Universally Preferable Behavior (UPB). This, I understand, is more or less a formal apologetic of what is termed “secular ethics”. Which really is simply an Ethic derived from the metaphysics of Atheism (which are the metaphysics more or less of Aristotle…more on that later). There is no God to declare what is good behavior and what is evil behavior. Without such an arbiter of morality, it is assumed, there is no anchor for moral behavior.   Enter UPB stage left. UPB purports to fill the role of Arbiter, and hence the term “universal”. Which is an odd term when coupled with “preferable”. I understand that in the handbook of UPB some attempt is made to address this oxymoron, but the explanation left me pretty unsatisfied. It qualifies itself by claiming that behavior is only universal once a given objective has been defined. Like, IF I want to get to work on time, it is preferable that I drive, not walk. And within that context, it is universally preferable to drive and not walk. Of course the inconsistency is clear. Since the preferable behavior is contextual, it isn’t universal. It is only contextually universal…which is a contradiction in terms.

Here are some links that you can examine to give you some reference for this article. The first is the handbook for UPB (you may have to copy and paste this link into your search bar), by Stefan Molyneux, who purports to be the progenitor of UPB…I have some doubt about this, however. I think most of his apologetic for secular ethics has been around for some time. I could be wrong, and ultimately I don’t really care. Perhaps he coined the phrase and then added his own spin. Whatever. He can have the credit. It’s okay by me. The second source is a very condensed version of the basic assertions and conclusions of UPB. It gives you a good summary of what secular ethics is all about.

http://cdn.media.freedomainradio.com/feed/books/UPB/Universally_Preferable_Behaviour_UPB_by_Stefan_Molyneux_PDF.pdf

https://rudd-o.com/archives/the-twelve-principles-of-universally-preferable-behavior

I was tempted to ask my readers if they could spot the big problem right off the bat, but the more I examined UPB the more I realized that it was so terribly fraught with inconsistencies that this amounted to a trick question. It also makes it difficult, at least for my scatter-brain, to know where or how to begin, so I apologize in advance if this article seems somewhate disconnected. The more I wrote, the more I had to go back and add things to the margins of my notebook. So…I’m going to start and hope that some semblance of order reveals itself. In any case, all my points will here, somewhere. 🙂

*

One of the first problems I noticed with UPB was that it doesn’t explain why preferential behavior is good behavior. That is, it doesn’t provide a convenient moral reference. This is a troubling and stark omission for a behavioral code which claims to be a universal Ethic. But I think I understand why the omission is there. A. Because it presumes “Objective Reality” as an ipso facto epistemological primary (that empiricism is proof of itself…which is a contradiction); and B. Because to include it highlights some serious inconsistencies with “Objective Reality”, which atheists and others, like those with Objectivist sympathies, don’t want to discuss (though they love to rant) and never resolve. Ever. And C. Because Atheism simply has no place for Good. It has an Ethic, but this is not the same thing. Behaving ethically does not necessarily equal behaving morally. And that’s the whole disaster of secular ethics in a nutshell. Not that religious ethics are any better. It’s just that they aren’t worse.

We understand that an Ethic gets its moral value from its foundational Metaphysic–metaphysics being the nature of what exists, and ethics being behavior that is ultimately consistent with the metaphysical primary, what I simply call the Metaphysic…and in between them is epistemology, which answers the question “What is Truth?” where Truth must be a necessary and ipso facto derivative of the the given Metaphysic. For example, Aristotelian philosophy essentially assumes that the Metaphysic is Existence, and its Epistemology thus is Objective Reality; it’s Ethic then is behavior which affirms the existence of Objective Reality–and of course one very common behavior is known as “being atheist”…and “being smug” is usually a corollary to this.  Unfortunately Aristotelian philosophy implies that Objective Reality is utterly empirical, which it’s not, and cannot be–which is why I respectfully reject Aristotle’s philosophy–and this presents a big problem for UPB because it implicitly relies upon the Aristotelian Metaphysic for its apologetics.

UPB seems pretty clearly to imply that the individual is the moral reference. That is, that UPB is “good”, or really, ethical, because it serves and affirms the individual. Unfortunately, while this sounds “so far so good”, this is as far as any semblance of rational consistency goes…at least for anyone who then has the intellectual foresight to ask the question thus begged: What is the individual? Or asked another way, what is the root nature of an individual’s “individual–ness”? (What is the nature of “I”?) This question naturally brings us to metaphysics, where atheism–remember, UPB’s roots are fundamentally atheistic–relies upon “Objective Reality”, which itself relies upon Scientific Determinism…which ends up being what is really meant by “Existence”. Scientific Determinism is the causal Platonic offspring of Science…the “why” to science’s “how”. Which is pretty ironic given how atheists love to name drop Aristotle as the philosophical father of their ideology. Ever since science decided to masquerade as philosophy and people decided to worship at the feet of lab-coated priests, we’ve gotten Scientific Deteminism as the Great Transcedant Cause in the Sky. Which is exactly like Divine Determinism. Oh, how the rivers of irony flow deep and thick and wide ’round here.

Part two real soon.