Category Archives: General Philosophy

On This Memorial Day Let Us Remember…That We are not Particularly Special

On this memorial day, let us remember that despite what we may wish, our nation is not particularly special or unique in the grand scope of empires of the past several millennia. America, the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, et al, have risen and declined in essentially the exact same way…and any variations are minor and unimportant. Political principles, ideals, technology, intellect, racial pedigree…none of this, though as diverse between nations as possible, makes any difference at all. Our Constitution, Bill of Rights, Suffrage….unique perhaps in their own narrow context, but they matter not in altering the inevitable course of great nations and empires. America is, unfortunately, a re-running of the Matrix, doing what the program always does and always must do. There is nothing new under the sun.

“It is, therefore, interesting to note that the life-expectation of a great nation does not appear to be in any way affected by the nature of its [political] institutions. Past empires show almost every possible variation of political system, but all go through the same procedure from the Age of Pioneers through Conquest, Commerce, Affluence to decline and collapse.”

-Sir John Glubb, “The Fate of Empires”

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The Problem of God as Absolute Power: A brief explanation of the contradictions of omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence

If God is omnipotent then omniscience is irrelevant.  It doesn’t matter what God knows about what or whatever, IS, because what IS is utterly subject to his power.  And thus meaning—that is, whatever there is to know about anything—is utterly subordinate to what God decides things are and do at any given moment.  Because HE may arbitrarily decide all meaning at any given moment by controlling absolutely what all things are and what they do, He doesn’t actually need to know anything about anything at all.  Since He can change meaning at will and at whim, the knowledge of anything is completely subjective, and thus, at root, pointless to him.  Omniscience is irrelevant to he who has the ability to arbitrarily command meaning through plenary control of all that which exists.

But if God is omniscient then omnipotence is irrelevant.  In order for God to know everything about whatever is, then whatever is cannot be subject to a plenary power to change things on a whim.  Because in such a case, as I’ve already shown, knowledge is entirely subjective, being subordinate to his power to command meaning. Unless one knows truth which is not subject to an ability to arbitrarily change it on a whim, then one is not omniscient.  Omniscience thus renders omnipotence impossible.  If what God knows truly IS, then what it IS must be beyond his direct control.

And if God is omnipresent, then we must conclude that He exists in precisely the same place and at the same time as you and I and everyone else.  And thus, there is no place for us, or for anything about us, to be, including our own consciousness—our own awareness of and ability to conceptualize our own Self. In which case we do not actually exist…for there is nowhere for us to be since God is everywhere.  And therefore there is no one to ponder the ideas of God and his omniscience or omnipotence or omnipresence or anything else.  God’s omnipresence precludes the possibility of any actual thing, or any actual agent, outside of Him, or co-existing with Him.  He is everything and everyone, which…when you think about it really means that He is nothing and He is no one.  And in this case, there is nowhere for Him to be, either. So God’s omnipresence means that He cannot actually be present anywhere, and thus is a contradiction in terms.

 

The Critical Difference Between Science and Philosophy

What is it to which properties attach themselves? What is a thing absent its properties? What is “essence”? What is the IS of a thing? What is a thing without its roundness, or its blueness, or its coarseness or smoothness; its weight or shape, position, location, or speed for example? And where is the distinction between a thing and its properties…the abstract, you might say, and the material? Take away properties and what is left? And if there is no distinction then how do you describe a thing at all? And what and where is the distinction between the properties? Where does a thing’s texture end and its color begin, for example?

Is a thing merely a sum of its parts? Is there a distinction between its parts and itself? If so, then where does the thing end and the parts begin? And if there is no distinction then by what means can we say the thing or its parts exist at all? Parts that are not part of anything are not actually parts. And a thing without parts cannot be distinct because it has no distinctions within itself, and therefore not being distinct it isn’t really a thing. But if it’s not a thing how can we define it? And if it’s not distinct how can we give it a location so that we can compare it to something else in order to say what it is not, as corollary to what it is? In other words, comparison is essential to definition, is it not?

Comparison is essential to definition.

Hmm…

If we give a thing a location…for example, if we say that A exists HERE and B exists THERE and so can compare A to B and thus define A, do we not then admit that A must be A ALREADY and intrinsically and thus is independent of B, and therefore doesn’t need to be compared to B in order for it to be A? And how can this paradox be resolved unless we relegate the objects in question to the realm of pure abstraction, which is the realm of the observer and his concepts? That is, if the paradox can be resolved by making things and their distinctions a function of the observer and his powers of conceptualization, should we not reference all truth and efficacy and meaning to the observer? And if we do that then we cannot obligate the observer to the concepts he uses to describe reality, can we? But then how do we determine any absolute truth FOR the observer if truth is a function of reality which is a function of the observer’s ability to conceptualize? The observer is the source of truth so then can he not decide for himself arbitrarily what is true or not? How can objective truth be both FROM him and TO him?

If the observer defines all things conceptually then he must define HIMSELF conceptually. So is the observer just another concept? What is materialism and is there any such thing?  What is matter? Are these merely concepts, too, or are they outside of conceptualization somehow? But if we accept that we as humans sense, then conceptualize, and therefore are observers and conceptualize all of reality, how would we know?

Are there perhaps answers to be found at the level of quantum physics? But does this not beg the question: Where do a thing’s quantum properties end and its Newtonian properties begin? And if one is a function of the other how can there be any distinction, and thus how can each one actually exist? And if a thing has distinct quantum properties and distinct Newtonian properties then are we dealing with one thing or two?

And are the edges of a thing its beginning or end? Or both, or neither? And if neither then where is it? And if both, and the beginning and end of a thing are constantly folding back in on themselves, then isn’t the thing infinite? And if it’s infinite then it cannot have a location and thus cannot exist anywhere. And if it doesn’t exist anywhere then it doesn’t exist at all, right?

And this, my friends? Is the difference between science and philosophy.

There Can Be No Such Thing as Gravity Qua Gravity, So What is it?

The following argument is based upon these assumptions, which I aver are all rationally defensible:

1. All that exists must be able to exist, which then supplants Existence with Ability as the metaphysical primary.

2. Gravity cannot possess any distinct existence. That is, there can be no such thing as gravity distinct or separate from the objects upon which it acts. Apart from these objects it has no relevance, which means it has no meaning, which means it cannot be defined as gravity.

3. There is no such thing as space qua space, because the distinction between objects cannot itself be a thing from which objects are also distinct. Therefore, there must be a different manifestation of distinction. I submit that gravity is this distinction.

In light of these, I submit the following about gravity:

Existence is ability to exist. Existence then is action, because ability must find rational expression as action. Action is always observed as relative movement. I therefore propose that gravity is, specifically, the expression of the ability to exist. Or perhaps better said, it is the action of existing…of existence observed  necessarily as an action.

Diversity as a Sociopolitical Ideal is Impossible

If Diversity, as it suggests, includes everything then it does not and cannot discriminate. It cannot define what is not diverse.

Umm…

But if everything is diverse then how can Diversity be implemented as an Ideal? There could be no reason to implement Diversity because the current system based on the current Ideal would already be considered Diverse.

Hmm…

Let me think.

For Diversity to have any meaning at all it must inherently define and acknowledge that which is not, in fact, diverse.

But…I sense a self-defeating problem here.

If Diversity acknowledges things not diverse, then it cannot be all inclusive. And Diversity not all inclusive is Diversity which discriminates. Which means it’s not really diverse. Someone or something doesn’t belong to the Diversity crowd. There is a difference it won’t accept.

Which means that Diversity can only really be “Diverse”…that is, conditionally, or subjectively, diverse. But Diversity as a sociopolitical IDEAL does imply Absolute Diversity, because ALL Ideals are necessarily monolithic–they intend to define, describe, and organize reality. But monolithic diversity, or Absolute Diversity, is a contradiction in terms.

In other words, Diversity as an ideal, sociopolitically speaking (or otherwise), demands the contradiction and nullification of itself: it must be absolute AND it must discriminate.

All of this is the reason why Diversity is little more than a deceptive euphemism for your run-of-the-mill bigotry; a rank assertion of non-white, non-western, non-cisgendered existential superiority. Which is why it’s so inherently and obviously oppressive in its application, despite the good intentions of some of its proponents.

(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.

 

More on the Self and the Fallacy of “Existence Exists”

Let’s take a chair.

Is the chair able to exist…as a chair?

No?

But if it is unable to exist, then how does the chair manifest its existence…how can it BE a chair if it’s not able to be a chair?

Let’s say that Ability is not considered  wrt to the suggested metaphysical primary, Existence. Then “chair” is simply a manifestation of existence qua existence…it cannot be distinctly known as “chair”. You see, if the chair doesn’t have any inherent ability to BE a chair then it isn’t actively a chair…it doesn’t act–it doesn’t DO–as a chair, and so how can it be said to be a chair? What’s the difference between the existence of “chair” and existence of, say, “tree”? It doesn’t ACT as a chair, so what exactly makes it a chair? All of the things that make it chair must be relative to the things that make a tree a tree? But the tree doesn’t act as tree, and the chair doesn’t act as chair–because they possesses no inherent, underlying Ability–and so by what means can we qualify or quantify the distinctions? Chair is chair and tree is tree, and neither act and thus there is no relative distinction between the two..because relativity (relative distinction) requires action requires the ability to act, and they possess no ability. They only possess existence. But then what is the difference between the existence of tree and existence of chair?

There is none.

There is no ability and thus no action, and thus no relative distinction.  Any distinction would be absolute. But there is no such thing as absolute distinction because absolute distinction is infinite distinction; and infinite distinction precludes co-existence.

And this is why Existence as the metaphysical primary wrecks ALL distinctions between its supposed particulars. There is no tree and no chair; there is only existence. There is no ability to exist and thus no action of existence and thus no relativity of the objects which are said to exist and thus no way to make distinctions of the particulars of existence and thus no way to define the particulars of existence (e.g. chair as opposed to tree) and thus no way to claim that any of the particulars of existence exist and thus no way to claim that existence exists.

But if we say the chair has the ability to exist then we make existence AS CHAIR an action…something the chair does. It is doing as a function of its ability to do. And all doing is relative. There is no action that is not relative, because a single object cannot move in a vacuum. (In a vacuum, there is literally no difference between position A and B of a given object, whether in time or space.) And so if being is action and action is relative then those extant properties which make a tree a tree and a chair a chair are, in fact, a manifestation of their ability to act (as chair or tree) and thus are likewise relative. And relative distinctions do not make a chair a chair and a tree a tree except that they be by conceptualized. Relative distinctions are not absolute, by definition. They require an observer. They require conceptualization via a constant…a reference. And that reference is Self. Is “I”.

And so the Ability (to “exist”…e.g. as chair) which drives the action (of “existence”…e.g. being a chair) demands the relativity (of “existence”…e.g. of chair) which demands conceptualization (of “existence”…e.g. the sentient observation of the chair) which demands a constant–a reference (for the “existence”…e.g. of the chair) and that reference is “I”.

That reference is what I mean by the Self.

Metaphysics: Ability-Action-Relativity-Conceptualization-Constant

How Aristotle is Both Right and Wrong About “A is A”

One may understandably take issue with my maxim that A is only A relative to B…because that which does not exist relative to anything else cannot be compared, and without comparison there is no definition, so you can’t claim that it actually exists. In other words, you cannot say what A is unless you can say what it is NOT. Making what A is NOT (e.g. B) an existential requirement for A, making A’s existence inexorably bound to B’s. This wrecks any distinction between A and B with respect to existence as a metaphysical primary. Meaning, existence implies no actual distinction between those things which are said to exist. Which destroys A and B entirely at the level of their root existence. This truth does not make me a subjectivist or proponent of consciousness as a primary. It merely makes me perceptive.

Now, having said that, this is correct in a sense:  that my point above does not, itself, provide for the full reconciliation of the existential paradox: Achieving a plurality of existence from a single metaphysical primary.  How are there distinct objects, relating to one another in an identical and absolute metaphysical context…that is, being direct functions of the same singular metaphysical root, and yet also being entirely and rationally distinct?

However, I submit that being correct here: That A must actually be A, utterly and distinctly so, if we shall assert that it is NOT B–does not make me wrong here: That A cannot in fact be A absent the relative existence of B (because that which cannot be compared cannot be defined; and that which cannot be defined cannot be said to exist). This makes A as much a function of B as it makes A utterly distinct from B.

The failure of Aristotelian apologists to observe and address this paradox is (partly) why Aristotelian metaphysics have ultimately lead nowhere except a repeat of the historic cycle of individuals conceding to collectivist ideologies, creating tyrannical states which eventually implode, killing millions in the process, with the survivors then rising from the ashes only to start the whole nightmare over again.

That A must be A (in an appeal to Aristotle) as a prerequisite for relatively comparing it to B does not in fact disprove the that A cannot in fact be A unless it is relatively compared to B.

It’s a chicken-and–egg type deal. Aristotelian metaphysics rest essentially upon one half of the paradox, and thus at best they tell only half the story.

The sum and substance of my journey into metaphysics has been:

A. to observe the aforementioned metaphysical paradox and the necessary resultant rational and practical insufficiencies of both Primacy of Existence and Primacy of Consciousness metaphysical models, and…

B. to offer a solution to the paradox in the form of a new, more effective primary: Ability.

A greater examination of that, and various related topics, will be undertaken in subsequent articles.