Maybe the Truth
Context, like the last text, this one isn’t really finished either, though this one written in 2017, and work on it now and again when I can; don’t hesitate to ask questions or suggest corrections.
Maybe the Truth
Vol. 1 — Political Foundations - Perhapsism
Table of Contents
Vol. 1 — Political Foundations — diss track to my detractors
Council to the reader
Part I: Political foundations
Failure of Western philosophy
The hubris of the faithless
The folly of blind faith
What’s the meaning of the word truth
On the question of the senses, again
Foundation of science
On the question of the existence of ethics
Part II. Political Actions
Chapter 3: Confusions
Knowledge to action
What is capitalarchy?
Manipulative ethical systems
Pursuit of happiness
Council to the reader
If my own advice was sought on what I might say to the reader new to philosophy — or then very familiar with philosophical sounding concepts that (one now suspects) were provided to confuse and control rather than help, and so one is now disturbed by such a thought and yet, for the moment at least, both doubting such philosophical sounding things and, seeing as there can be a clear ulterior motives of the providers of such sayings all the while not fully able to see what errors were committed; as the familiar answers seem to at least to address the contentions without causing new confusions (and it is easy to point to people certainly even more fooled and imagine that their way is the only alternative) and to take any piece out is to collapse the entire edifice — honest philosophy is best thought as the discovery of a new forest: disorienting and frightening on occasion, and to know it better is both a long and, to some degree, dangerous process.
But whatever the case maybe, if one wishes to really know this forest, it is necessary to enter somewhere without, at first, knowing how any part of the forest one encounters relates to the whole.
If one sees a tree, it is not immediately clear where the seed of that tree came from, what creatures and other plants the tree directly supports and which ones the tree is in direct conflict; not to mention the indirect cooperation that one may suppose could exist of all elements in a ecosystem in balance. If one sees a bird, one is likewise not immediately sure if it is usual to the area or only passing by on migration. If one encounters a river one must walk upstream to encounter its sources and tributaries and travel downstream to discover where it leads and empties. If one asks upon what kind of material the forest rests upon, it takes some digging to discover what kind of rock and much further investigation to hypothesize where the rock came from. More importantly, this journey into this forest of philosophy one has already started many times before, knowingly and unknowingly, crossing a small part on occasion or then short sojourns in accessible prepared and guided areas, and one may have already made a definite opinion about the appearance of various things that would then disrupt one’s attempt at a better understanding. For, it is easy to suppose, at first, creatures and plants that are in symbiosis are in direct conflict, one eating the other, such as mushrooms being parasites of trees, and even easier to suppose that the wolf is in every way harmful to the deer, and the deer would be better off without any wolves around. From previous unplanned crossing of parts of this forest, one may remember a stream and not question that it is a tributary of the newly discovered river, without the doubt occurring that mere proximity does not guarantee this, but the divide between watersheds is, at any given moment, a fairly precise line that can meander anywhere, and it is needed to actually go and check whether the stream really does connect to the river. Likewise, one may have encountered previously tadpoles and frogs and assume the two to be distinct, dug a little and found sand and so assume more digging will always yield more sand, reasoned that since trees must start small that all of the many plants, given time, will grow into trees, or any number of plausible seeming assumptions that, at the time, one felt no need to scrutinize much further but was content with imagining the forest to be so. Beyond simply the general uneasiness of both trying to use prior experience of the forest — both because it is information that in many cases is clearly useful and also that once an understanding is set in the mind it simply stays there and happily attaches to any new understanding, where it emerges independently, at the first possible opportunity where it seems a plausible fit, while also serving as the basis, with other things both true and false, to attempt to extend one’s understanding to new deductions and inferences — while at the same time coming to doubt seriously these assumptions and presented with the difficult task of not only identifying them but trying to remember as best one can the original experience in order to scrutinize properly what seemed unimportant reasoning at the time — beyond this, more importantly, a single erroneous conclusion that remains may completely frustrate true understanding, requiring more and more additional false hypothesis to account for a single discrepancy; for instance, if one believes two distinct watersheds are one watershed and all the rivers and tributaries connected, the further one goes in accounting for what is happening in the forest the more and more additional and wrong theories one must postulate about the flow of water in this region, it’s sources, and about the behavior of river inhabitants, the geological processes, etc.; everything will be needing modifications of what seems true of a “single water shed” as well as what are otherwise very strong logical deductions if not for the absolute requirement to think of something else emerging from the belief there is one watershed instead of two. Such erroneous fabrications of reasons can go on being built for some time, indeed continued to be built by many different people over centuries.
It errors fixed in the mind that create the anxiety to explore further and to be content with the small parts of this forest that one finds some pleasure in. And indeed, this can be a comfortable life; I do not say otherwise.
It is said by those that want you to avoid any real thought about the world, your actions, and especially whatever they are directing you to do, that philosophy, the kind of knowledge — and source of all other kinds of knowledge — has made no discoveries in all this time and so that, in any case, there is nothing to find on those small paths that disappear in the branches, rays of light.
For, there is always someone willing to call themselves a philosopher that disagrees with anything, and perhaps everything, of anything else another supposed philosopher has said or says. So, they say: look, there is nothing settled! But, they forget, so can be said about any discipline at all, someone can always be found who disagrees, and these same people, in discussing medicine or food or career advice, will happily point to what discoveries have been made and dismiss as fools those that would dismiss their preferred experts and anyone who says otherwise a raving lunatic — and so, we are left to wonder, are there really no discoveries in philosophy, nothing of value to learn as they say, or rather are they the raving lunatics upon these topics? or then,perhaps do know there is something there, just prefer that you not find it. So maybe it is the same in philosophy, how could it be known? Perhaps there are legitimate philosophers who agree on many things and can share many truths, and perhaps there are fools masquerading as the same thing but dealing only in confusion and lies, whether from genuine ignorance or malice, it matters little.
As with all knowledge, the only way to discern truth from falsehood, is to think for yourself until it has as clear a substance as the ground that supports you and as a rhythm as inevitable as your own beating heart. What arguments can be supported and which cannot; to believe there is not more to be found, is to believe nothing at all.
So, what then is there to see is the question.
The lessons of philosophy can be distilled into a few principles:
First, that everything you think is ethical, and, second, everything you say and do is political.
Now, we can play with the meanings of these words, and even these words, until we render it false, which brings us to the third lesson that, in so doing, it does not invalidate whatever truth there is to be learned with the appropriate meanings, and more importantly, it is only you who suffer in refusing to understand the meaning of the true statements, and not I who says it.
For, there is no escaping it, to decide not to “think of ethics” is an ethical posture, and to say or do anything is to point towards the world that may come from these sayings and doings, likewise to stay silent and still is a political project; and so every thought is the result of our conspiring ethics and each action betrays our politics.
This brings us to our first difficulty, that one’s politics springs from one’s most intimate ethic, and so it would be convenient to first express one’s ethic and then express one’s politic that flows from it, but one cannot. One can only express one’s politics, with every word and action, and others can only try to deduce the ethic that is the deeper spring of what they see and hear within as deep and inexpressible a place as the depths of their own minds.
So what is politics? If we can talk of nothing else.
In the most precise meaning of the word, politics is a mapping function of all possible situations one can find oneself in, to all the corresponding situations one would try to bring about from that starting point.
We need but to define this mapping function and then determine which situation we are in, which is easy, as we are quite clearly in the situation of wondering about what situation we are in; indeed, the problem is not knowing where we are but rather, that in so realizing, we are in the situation of knowing few things and wanting many answers that we now seem eternally stuck here and our ethic brings us invariably to the next situation and the next, insofar as we can decide anything about it at all. So, in this perspective there is nowhere to go; we already have our ethic with which we act in our political understanding: whether with bravery or cowardice, we are condemned to be ourselves on the face of it, having only the means we already have, pointing already in the direction we are already pointed in, our thoughts flowing from what we are already thinking, our next movement a continuation of our last. We seem imprisoned within ourselves, stuck with our ethic and fodder for our politics.
However, our souls run deeper and farther than where we happen to be and we have a capacity to reflect on all possible situations at the same time and so improve our mapping of all situations to all corresponding situations we’d strive to create, which is then inclusive of the first situation we found ourselves in and had initially seemed trapped: it is through abstraction that we are free to decide new particulars not accessible to us before.
Nothing deeper has or ever or will be said concerning philosophy, for it is this and only this that philosophy has come to earth to say. And our sages will wonder for a hundred thousand years or more that so strange is the truth that it can hardly be believed when it is found and that a lifetime is required to appreciate a single paragraph of it; and, for each paragraph, we have surely spent a lifetime.
Everything else in philosophy is a trivial extension of these things I have shared with you, and I would leave the rest of it, preferring rather to concern myself with my own concerns, as an exercise for the reader if I was not well aware that our time praises the lazy, and so, in being praised for being so amazingly contrite I may myself be confused with such a misdirected lazy virtue. No, I am well aware a wise person would pass for a fool today without solving every single tiny problem and objection with an effortless arrogance that the pundits call madness. For indeed, the fool is confident, but the merely mediocre forget that the curve of confidence rises slowly, yes, but afterwards eventually rises to infinity when past the other side of the valley of doubts. It is no strange thing that the truth provides confidence, it is only a rarer sight, and mediocrity has no habit of spotting it, a characteristic without which such a safe guard mediocrity is sparsely incapable of perpetuating itself and would not be such a fierce opponent.
For have I not already said more than the Tao and written more words than the sermon on the mount and conveyed the wisdom of the budha, would this not have satisfied a hundred generations merely a hundred generations ago? But so far from the truth has these generations wandered that a cup is tossed aside as a quaint gesture and people want rather an ocean to satisfy their arid minds. And so they have built one, and yet they wash up on these shores thirstier than before.
Crawl then, if you can, when the tide washes out the depths and the souls of your feet can touch the sand. Cross that narrow bar that separates you from the tree line. Follow the river upstream. I am going there, for I often go back and forth and will guide you to where you want to go if you have come this far already
Before starting a treatise on politics it is worthwhile to first point out that true political theory, whether or not you find it in here or elsewhere, can only be put into practice with a proportional amount of personal enlightenment.
It is not enough to know the truth in a rational sense. Simply knowing what one should do, regardless of the difficulty expended to attain such knowledge, does not in itself cause one to act accordingly. Inner strength, acceptance of the situation and peace with the consequences of one’s intended actions are far more important than simply knowing the political truth. For with such inner quality one can find the truth, but without it one cannot apply the truth that one already has, a torture that hinders any further progress.
This balance between internal harmony and exterior actions is the essence of the word enlightened. Enlightenment does not connote some sort of omniscience nor a complete rational domination of ones spirit, but rather we mean to imply someone knows some important truths in combination with some sufficient inner discipline to conform their actions to those truths.
One may rightly ask, this being the case, why write on politics at all if it is less important than one’s spiritual disposition.
The answer is simply that once some degree of enlightenment is attained, presuming this is sufficient, the actions do not then take care of themselves, they must still be carried out. If there is some collective objective between these enlightened people, then communicating observations on the situation coordination is presumably a more effective way to make any advancements, political theory to provide some framework of thinking about it and proposals of plans and particular actions that may be worthwhile to discuss further or then actually do are all logical necessities, whenever they appear effective, to actually having such an intention.
An intention without the actions that express that intention is an incoherent state of affairs.
In addition to this, it is also unclear what exactly, if anything, can be communicated about the attainment of enlightenment itself.
An analogous situation is that if one is considering to learn a musical instrument one can go to a teacher. A music teacher could say a lot about music, their technique and process of learning and so forth, but can say very little about the prerequisite passion needed to want to learn music. Still undecided, if one then goes in search of a “passion teacher” there is nothing at all similar to the volumes of teaching material and methods that exist for music. Whereas a music teacher can legitimately say that coming to the lessons and genuinely practicing will result in a significant increase in music skill, there is no “motivational expert” that can make a similar claim; any such claim I would rests upon a prerequisite passion to “get motivated” required to engage in the motivational program, and so lacking that one would then need to in search of a “getting motivated enough to participate in motivational training” teacher, of which, by definition, we can suppose there can be, but, the critical part, no students for which their teaching is intended can find them.
We cannot cause in other people the fundamental motivation needed to do, attempt or to learn any given thing. So, though it may seem like a motivational coach is at least advertising the aforementioned “passion creation”, when we look closer it is in most cases a confusion of words.
If we look closer, and are being generous, motivational programs are advertising helping to direct that fundamental motivation that is there into more efficient and constructive efforts. So people motivated to increase in efficient application of their existing motivation may find some use of these programs. For instance a lot of knowledge can be gained by reading, and so a motivational coach that prescribed simply taking any topic at random non-fiction work from the library and reading some pages a day is providing advice of some value; but any advice of this kind is simply creating habits that can be used in many domains and not somehow increasing ones fundamental motivation (and my argument is that everything the motivational coach does is in this category of utility post-motivation). More importantly, since I have provided this advice for free, it would be unwise to go and pay for it.
The point I’m trying to make is a simple one. Sufficient enlightenment is the precondition to effective political action (actions that actually move the situation closer to the goal), but there is not much to say about it. We need not know whether people who do not have it can somehow happen upon it and we do not need to know if people who have it can lose it. One needs only know one has some measure of it and one can will oneself more of it. For, one cannot will oneself to be lazier, and we are not static beings, therefore our will can only be applied in a single direction: we can only choose the time and the place.
However, once this sufficient enlightenment is attained and there is also a fundamental motivation to find out the relevant ethic for the situation and then carry out the corresponding political actions, then a great deal can be said about both ethics and political theory. Just like music, although actually learning and becoming a better musician is fundamentally the consequence of the motivation to learn music and seek out the conditions for doing so, it nevertheless takes a significant amount of time to make progress.
The difference with music is that enlightenment is not required to increase in music, or any skill for that matter, only the basic motivation is a requirement. Music is nevertheless a political action pointing to a world with more music in it, but, even if we grant this as a good thing, it is incomplete if other things are also good and other conditions are also required for even the good music to happen also. People need to be alive to sign any songs.
A complete political project addresses all of the problems implied in attaining one’s vision of the future, and to make any complete accomplishment in this sense, not only requires knowledge and skill but proportional resistance to avoidable conflicts, egomania, corruption, addiction and any other character flaw that puts the whole at risk.
Of course, some resistance to character flaws are needed to actually have a successful music career and simply stay alive in general, but we would not refer to such a minimum “staying alive” internal fortitude as enlightenment. However, an honest politician, public servant, or political contributor of whatever form, that resists sufficiently temptations and blackmail over the years and has the knowledge and skill to carry out the public good effectively in hazardous conditions, we easily utilize the word enlightened or some equivalent to describe them; what I say here is this enlightenment is not a reserve of an elite, but also found in countless small, even nearly unnoticeable, actions; many not needing political treatise, but history has shown such uncoordinated kindness, even when abundant, is quickly eroded away in dark storms. It is only when we are lost that we treasure a map.
In other words, a good plan without the will to carry it through is a bad plan, and so one’s political engagement must be at every step proportional to what one’s inner strength can actually deliver, and it is only through gaining more knowledge, and exercising one’s inner strength, that one can actually increase one’s enlightenment by applying oneself to ever increasing amounts of complexity and responsibility. Someone with the inner fortitude to resist any counter productive temptation and all blackmail completely, but who does not have the sufficient political knowledge to be trusted to any important task, cannot know if those virtues really are there or not, and — more importantly — cannot exercise those virtues for the good of the community, humanity and life in general, and to refuse to look into such matters, for such a person, is merely cowardice and their lofty thoughts about themselves by definition delusional.
Part I: Political foundations
It is widely held in global cosmopolitan culture today that the truth, if it exists at all, is unknowable.
To the logician this “no Truth is knowable” position is clearly absurd, as to assert there is no truth is itself a truth assertion. So there is at least some truth that we know: that these sorts of statements are false.
However, it is one thing to know that these sorts of quibbles do not hold, it is quite another to know what the truth is upon which we should stake our lives.
For, we cannot avoid making decisions, even doing nothing one must decide (insofar as one is aware and conscious of so doing), and insofar as one believes some decisions are better than others, one is continuously faced with the choice: Shall I attempt, by whatever is my capacity, to make better decisions or not.
It is of course impossible to defend not trying to make better decisions, but it does seem possible to ignore the issue altogether. If we do not ignore it however, it seems very much impossible, simply from personal experience, to deny some decisions have been mistakes and there clearly is better and worse. From such a commitment in certainly at least some “this is better than that” proposals (even starting with torturing babies is bad), it seems plausible that through analysis of such commitments, no matter how small and disparate, only certain systems of dealing with all issues are compatible.
Seemingly impossible, but of course not impossible. After the concept of “no truth”, as a dishonest position to avoid argument but really there are truth commitments those that utter this expression and it’s analogues do commit to, there is honest version of this sentiment, nihilism, that would equally stifle all further discussion: the total absence of better or worse. Nihilism was originally posited as “what to avoid” in philosophic discourse, in the sense that if a theory is reducible to nihilism it must be amended to avoid so or then thrown out altogether. For, after sufficient experience of how difficult it is to make things better, it is a tempting notion that things simply can’t get better since better doesn’t exist. And indeed, in these troubling times, it has become a fairly popular theory to expound, explicitly or implicitly, especially in the form of various scientisms that are reducible to it. Again there is a fundamental absurdity in these positions in that if a theory has no “better or worse” then it is not better to believe such a theory even if it were true, and so there can be no dependable and coherent adherent to such theories; thus the people promoting such ideas are clearly believing in something else, that leads them to believe it really is better to believe what they propose, whether they are aware of it or not. The concept of “good and bad, better or worse” is so ingrained in our thinking and decision making, it is difficult to comprehend what a total absence of ethical assumptions implies: truly arbitrary decision making, so we will take this subject repeatedly as to compare with the politics we will be herein constructing.
Failure of Western philosophy
The preponderance, in Western thought, of nihilism and reducible equivalents, often going by the name of relativism, rational self-interest, emotivism, prescriptionism, individualism, evolutionary psychology, multiverse, singularity and other various techno-babble, to name a few1, represents the failure of Western philosophy.
For, given the failure of Western philosophy to complete the Greek project — of agreeing on who exactly the wise man is, what he would do and to what extent and how we should go about, given that we are not the wise man, how to be like the wise man — and then later Western philosophy ultimately failing to rationally justify the Catholic authority, and subsequently the Western philosophers turning resolutely against Catholic absolutism and then ‘winning’ the war between scientific rationalism and Catholicism, but then failing to consolidate an alternative to a Christian doctrine that “just so happens to justify and uphold Christian values” (in essence the project of philosophers between the reformation and the fascist movement in the 20th century that simply embraced this failure), and, finally, failing to create any other workable secular ethic — we may not be surprised that the ‘no-truth’ concept, or various essentially equivalent modes of it, has filled the space this cultural edifice once occupied. That is not to say many Western philosophers did not write insightful things during this period, or even that it could not be argued to have justified the Christian ethos in some recognizable form, only that such successes, if indeed they be, failed to build any such understanding among the general public.
Western nihilism is understandable in the historical context. For, whenever a social institution monopolizes the claim to absolute truth and then crumbles spectacularly, the void it leaves is quickly filled as people must continue to make decisions based upon something. In this case the void is filled by largely incoherent or irrelevant ideas, but this might too be expected since when a single ideology monopolizes debate it is by definition difficult for alternative coherent belief systems to express themselves — indeed, the more coherent a competing idea the more resources the monopolizing ideology is likely to devote to destroying it. So, in the historical context the current incoherence of Western debate is perhaps not unexpected.
Nevertheless, such historical trivia, and whatever could be added to or subtracted from such a narrative, has no bearing on what is actually true and what is not, and the question remains as to what exactly this truth is; it remains true or false whether a potential answer to this question is correct or not; and there must be a truth of the matter, if only to say that no other truth, beyond knowing “‘no-truth exists’ is a false statement” and perhaps other similar tautologies, can be known.
There are of course many candidates for truth, various religious or pseudo-religious sects, but many seem fundamentally arbitrary and few actively engage in the critical thinking process.
The situation thus results in ‘critical thinkers’, or at least those that fancy themselves as such, seeming to be allied against faith in general, claiming only scientific ‘facts’ warrant belief. And given the large number of ‘faiths’ that eschew critical thinking (at the least criticism from outside the leadership) there are a great many theories easy to ridicule and show in self-contradiction, bolstering the intellectual novice’s pride.
The hubris of the faithless
The intellectual novice then concludes that all theories based on ‘faith’ are false.
Not only does the novice erroneously generalize from limited examples, but this attitudes betrays a deeper ignorance by not expecting this situation to be likely the case: For, the truth, whatever it is, we may presume has an internal harmony setting it apart from falsehood, whereas falsehood can be anything at all, and so between the two it is far easier to generate falsehood than not, and so given the truth is not readily apparent, else we would not be searching for it, and given a multitude of mutually exclusive ideas on the subject, it is not surprising that we find much that we can be confident is false.
Indeed, an infinity of false faiths there certainly are available, if not fervently believed today then can be invented tomorrow, and every individual could believe in a different false theory, indeed a single individual may even believe in many contradicting theories simultaneously throughout their day, and yet this does not somehow establish a true theory does not exist. If no one knew any truth at all, the truth would be no less true for it. So again, this sort of social trivia is of no consequence to our inquiry.
The folly of blind faith
Likewise, those of ‘faith’ in one theory or another can easily ridicule the ‘haughty rationalists’, as they have faith but do not admit it.
Though again, the absurdity of those that profess no faith at all does not justify any particular faith: For, indeed, to function coherently enough to debate anything at all betrays a faith in one’s senses, the coherent nature of reality, a faith that there are other people (or such appearances) worthwhile to debate with. If one uses the critical method of checking for internal coherence of these notions one has chosen a faith in the principle of non-contradiction. None of these things can be ‘proven’, and to adopt them requires either a direct faith in these principles or a faith in some more fundamental principle upon which they would rest and the soundness of the whole conceptual edifice, so a faith in something either way.
For, if we accept the scientific method as a useful way to organize our collective sense experience, this presupposes we believe our experience is coherent and worth organizing. Can we establish a scientific theory based on observations that shows our ‘observations are trustworthy’? Clearly not, as such an ‘observation based theory’ would require we trust those observations supporting it, whatever they are, yet whether we can have confidence in such data is precisely what we are investigating.
We must have sufficient faith in our senses to warrant beliefs based upon those senses. In other words, if I say “I will believe nothing without proof and I refuse to believe any so called ‘sense data’ provided by my senses holds any meaning without proof” my senses certainly cannot provide the evidence to trust this ‘sense data’. Neither could such an empiricist look to a priori thought, as internal mumblings can establish nothing about some external reality of one form or another, whether it is worthy of investigation through the so called ‘senses’ or whether it exists in some coherent form at all.
Now, the novice may say ‘but that is not our experience!’ betraying both a faith in other people existing and having similar experiences worth considering — again, with no proof nor understanding the point. If the question is whether one can trust experience to inform, at least in part, our ideas about existence, the answer cannot be deduced from experience.
But, even to dabble in an attempt to ‘prove’ senses are worthwhile to consider and systematize coherently, assumes a faith in the critical method of proof, namely that contradictory notions, ideas which both implicate the other is false, are not both true at the same time.
If we apply the critical method to the principle of non-contradiction itself we must contrast it with the alternative of ‘allowing all contradictions’. For, to have reasons to believe in a premise presupposes reasons to reject any mutually exclusive alternatives.
If ‘all contradictions are allowed’ it follows then any contradiction is acceptable and so the theory is “logically sound” regardless of anything we might say to contradict it, for all such contradictions are simply welcomed by the theory. We can only claim ‘all-contradiction’ is unsound reasoning if we assume, without proof, that avoiding contradiction is preferable. In other words, if one points to experience, or any other argument whatsoever for that matter, as evidence ‘non-contradiction’ is preferable over ‘contradictions’, such ‘contradictory evidence’ is not a problem for the ‘all-contradictions’ theory, indeed such ‘counter’ evidence simply confirms the idea that contradictory notions should be believed always.
Indeed, believing contractions are preferable guarantees a perfect coherence of one’s ideas, as any potential criticism of this project fits snugly into what is desired: more contradictions, all contradictions, all the time!
The only basis for believing ‘contradictions should be avoided’ is faith: a fundamental choice to believe it is true without any proof the alternatives are untenable. Likewise, we must choose our observations are worthwhile to consider to create beliefs based upon them and organizing those beliefs — and again this is faith.
To say accepting contradiction is impractical shows a desire to be practical, again a faith in some measure of what practical is and a faith in one’s ability to apply it, and so on for any similar equivocation.
The novice of rational empiricism may dismiss these arguments as trivial, or, worse, argue against them with some observation or argument from first principles they presumably have no faith in, but it is rationalism that demands strict logical rigour, and so to abandon the principle when inconvenient to one’s disposition or because “everyone’s doing it” puts one in the “contradiction is acceptable” camp.
Western philosophers have of course been playing the above game for thousands of years, questioning to ever deeper levels of assumptions, thinking for the most part that rationalism can ‘win’, that some set of principles, akin to Euclid’s axioms, can be found upon which all knowledge can be based. But ultimately we arrive at non-contradiction itself, the rule by which the game is played, and if we question this assumption then the game clearly ends and there can be no winning fundamental assumption that one is “forced” to believe and of which all else we might want to know follows.
Philosophers have of course known about the principle of non-contradiction and related fundamental issues for some time, but they have wrongly assumed it is some sort of philosophical given that can be taken for granted if we wish to “philosophize”; but this cannot be the given, we cannot work backwards from the fact we are discussing “philosophy” to simply drop in concepts which allows us to “philosophize”. For, “we should not philosophize at all” is a valid potential candidate to the results of our deliberations.
We cannot simply say “yes, yes, if we want to philosophize we must assume logic which is based on non-contradiction. Now, let us debate something.”
‘Non-contradiction’ forms the basis of the body of knowledge we call logic. It is itself not a ‘given logical principle’ but rather a political principle stating that we should not believe contradictory notions; i.e. we have no proof contradictory things do not exist, only a political principle that we should not believe in contradictions. In other words “logic” cannot be carried out without the “ethical will” to avoid contradiction. For those puzzling of the dilemma of how to get should statements from is statements, there is no dilemma: all is statements must follow from the should statement of “we should try to find out what is”.
Non-contradiction is not the foundation of “logic”, in the sense of some sort of passive tool that “helps us reason”. Non-contradition is the foundation of an ethical theory in which contradictions are “not good”, “better to avoid”, and when one encounters contradiction in ones thinking one “should try to resolve or remove those contradictions”. “Good”, “better” and “should” are the fundamental ethical concepts and it is impossible to express what it means to “assume in non-contradiction” without recourse to such fundamental ethical concepts.
There is no ‘proof’ the principle of non-contradiction describes reality and no empirical theory can attempt to establish such.
Believing in ‘non-contradiction’ does not just mean one is now ‘philosophizing’, it already forms a non-empty ethic in itself giving rise to certain actions over others, such as trying to identify, or at least address when apparent, contradictory beliefs and trying to resolve them somehow: i.e. striving to carry out one course of actions over another. Nihilism is not a “coherent empty set of beliefs”, that even those arguing against nihilism often also assume, but rather Nihilism is incompatible with the law of non-contradiction itself and so is by definition incoherent.
The problem of the basis of science goes even deeper, but we must get back to it later, as if we have no objective we have no use of science.
Thus, the alternative to either a proof quagmire or a fuzzy foundation of one’s ideas, is to choose to have faith in non-contradiction and decide to make an effort to avoid contradictory notions, theories and actions; thus, adopt the non-contradiction politics.
Of course, it doesn’t immediately create a contradiction to have faith in non-contradiction, it is internally coherent to do so (just as all-contradiction-all-the-time is likewise internally coherent as we saw above).
One may believe it, just as one may believe the alternative.
However, in so believing in non-contradiction one also satisfies another principle, the principle of “non-arbitrariness”. For, believing ‘contradictions are acceptable’ leads to fundamentally arbitrary decisions; believing in ‘contradictions should be avoided’ leads to constraints on decisions: i.e. that our decisions don’t self-contradict in what they pursue and so this now excludes total arbitrariness.
One is free then to also have faith in non-arbitrariness as augmenting the non-contradiction principle; they are mutually coherent.
One is also free to add pragmatic equivalence, that two decisions that attain the same result are equal, to these two principles.
If one has faith in these three principles, a great many principles may follow — both old and new questions are resolved with respect to this faith. One can reject these arguments as “not proven” but, insofar as they are sound, one is in conflict with one or many of the above premises.
And indeed, one is free to reject any one of these principles; there is nothing logically ‘forcing’ one to accept them and I make no such attempt. To accept them is a leap of faith; the difference with many other leaps of faith one maybe solicited by is that, unlike many invitations to believe something, the principles of non-contradiction, non-arbitrariness and pragmatic-equivalence are ‘critically evaluable’, they form a coherent basis, by definition due to non-contradiction and by definition due to non-arbitrariness. So any mutually exclusive alternative faith would be either in conflict with non-contradiction, and so be incoherent, or in contradiction with non-arbitrariness, and so be arbitrary; therefore, there can never be a reason to chose one over another of such competing ideas. If it is not mutually exclusive, then any alternative theory would either follow from or be compatible with non-contradiction, non-arbitrariness and pragmatic equivalence.
A mutually exclusive theory can be constructed to lack internal contradiction, but there are an infinite mutually-exclusive such theories that can be so construed and by definition there can be no reason to choose one over another.
More generally, to reject “non-arbitrariness” conflicts with any theory upon which any decision at all can be based.
To reject pragmatic equivalence in the least renders decisions extremely difficult to make, and since it is consistent with the first two principles I choose to have faith in it also as cannot, by definition, impede me in getting to where I want to go.
Thus far I have stated my three fundamental principles of faith, and provided some commentary on what it implies to reject those principles; in what follows I take these principles as premises and attempt to draw conclusions: i.e. I assert things and provide arguments for them based on my premises, I do not repeat continuously that such assertions might well be false if one rejects one or all of my premises.
What’s the meaning of the word truth
Before continuing I’d like to address a common refrain in any argument investigating fundamental truths, which is that the word ‘truth’ has no meaning; related to the “no better or worse” form of nihilsm dealt with in the chapter above and with a very similar rebuttal, although a bit more complex as “truth is meaningless” is trickier to address as the very ability to make any claims at all about anything is denied.
For, indeed, if the word truth has no meaning then it becomes impossible to construct, in language anyway, the truth of the meaning of any other word and so all words would have no meaning, as any discussion concerning truth assertions about the meaning of words would in turn be meaningless, including the meaning of truth assertions; in other words, if anyone were to say anything about the meaning of any word we might ask “is that true?” and without a meaning of “true”, or some equivalent, we could not, by extension, be able to arrive at a meaningful answer. For us to have meaningful discussions at all presupposes we have already placed meaning in the word true and equivalent term such as correct, right, actually, corresponds and so forth. In this sense there is no elegant refutation, as all possible refutation is denied, except to say, like in the case of moral nihilism, if someone does not believe in any truth at all, why do they speak and what can we postulate they believe they are saying if there is no true answer to such a question.
What we can say, however, is that it is true that all words have some degree of ambiguity, in how they are used and how we interpret them, but insofar as we assume such ambiguity does not render communication impossible then such subtleties may present obstacles, from time to time, but do not stop us completely in our attempt to communicate. So, although we are aware there maybe difficulties, we cannot assume, in order to begin discussing at all, that such difficulties are insurmountable. Such a conclusion, a faith in communication, follows from the arguments presented below, but of course ‘reading’ such arguments depends on the assumption that meaning is already communicable, so presumably the reader has already made a similar choice.
The exact mechanics of communication are not known to me, and I cannot prove that anyone can or will have inspired in themselves the very same ideas I wish to provide through this writing. Rather, the arguments that follow imply merely that it is a worthwhile attempt.
Arguments about the meaning of the word ‘true’ are necessarily circular as to make any argument at all requires a series of truth assertions and so presupposes the concept. Likewise, to claim any particular argument, no matter how absurd, ‘about the meaning of the word truth’ is wrong is also a truth assertion about its wrongness; so the alternative is no less self-referential, only the former in a self-contradictory way by using the concept of truth to assert the statement “the word truth has no meaning”.
In other words the statement “the word truth has no meaning” implies “meaning has no meaning”, or any of the words in the sentence for that matter, and so one has expressed nothing about the word truth at all, whether it has meaning or not.
In general, the attempt to ‘prove’, with words, what exactly the meaning of any word is exactly, seems an inherently futile task. This essay is not devoted to whatever we could say, much less the maximum, on the subject of communication, but rather we are concerned here with more fundamental ideas that precede communication, in the sense that such ideas can be thought of without having them communicated to oneself and also that such ideas address decisions that fundamentally precede actions, including the action of attempting to discuss anything at all.
It is up to the reader to decide whether any worthwhile ideas are conjured up by these pages. If enough ideas are so conjured for the reader to ask themselves whether I have satisfactorily established a definition of the word “truth” without recourse to still more words that presuppose some notion of truth, to in turn contain any meaning, I shall be more explicit: the meaning of truth precedes language, for that there are truths worth asserting about the situation, decisions, or otherwise, is the fundamental motivation of any practical communication. And so, insofar as communication did not precede situations and decisions and what we think is true about them, nor precede a ‘meaning of the idea of truth’, it is so likewise up to the reader to reflect on whether they have such a concept of truth and falsehood for organizing their ideas, and whether they can function without such notions.
Though more time can be devoted to the subject of communication, and I think usefully to an extent, we shall return to our main subject since having such an “understanding of whatever we could usefully say about communication” conveyed to oneself is not, clearly, a precondition for communication, otherwise we could never communicate at all (never being able to receive “the understanding of communication” to begin with), it is thus by definition not a necessary subject to precede the present discourse and can be left for a later time. I have written on this subject of communication simply to entertain the novice who may otherwise believe I am somehow unaware of this issue and that omitting it is somehow a fatal blow to my contentions.
Returning to my principal aims, I remind the reader that I have accepted certain assumptions based on faith only, though noting pleasant internal coherence within and between them, I make no demands that the reader must ‘logically’, or for any other reason, do the same, but I now wish to investigate what follows from these faiths, and so follow if you so choose, but step lightly.
On the question of the senses, again
For those that did not notice the first time, perception is trustworthy. Proof: The alternative of not-trusting one’s perceptions leads to fundamentally arbitrary actions. For, all situations are equivalent as all sense is equally untrustworthy, equally non-informative of reality, and so no pragmatic difference can be made between situations as any situation is equally unknowable and equally unknowable the consequences of any decision or act; indeed even the perception of our own thoughts, and so whatever different decisions one may think one is making is equally unknowable: both separately or together, lead to the same result of more equally unknowable situations and so all actions, if such can be construed at all, are pragmatically equivalent, thus all action is pragmatically arbitrary and so in conflict with the non-arbitary axiom.
Therefore, only the alternative avoids non-arbitrariness, which is these perceptions and senses, and indeed thought in general, is trustworthy enough to warrant organization and actions based upon them. This does not imply all perceptions reflect a “true” understanding of what they seem to be about, only that it is worthwhile to consider them as meaningful, attempt to separate the trustworthy from the misleading, and attempt to formulate the most coherent theory about our perceptions as we can, and then act according to this idea and not some arbitrary alternative. Faith that our perceptions are meaningful does not guarantee we will arrive at the true account of our perceptions, only that it is worth attempting (i.e. the best path available to attempt even if the results are not guaranteed beforehand).
Foundation of science
In discussing trusting one’s own ability to reason and one’s own senses, the basic necessity of this to function in a “normal way” does, as is popularly but incompetently believed in academia, justify, in itself, science as we understand it today.
There is indeed a personal science which follows from faith in one’s own capacity to observe and think and furthermore willingness to submit one’s predictions to experimental verification.
However, nearly all knowledge people encounter today is not through such personal experience, either in original production or verification, but rather through other people reporting such first hand experiences and analysis.
That we trust ourselves is not equivalent to trusting other people.
The exact same problem repeats for any supposed community of scientists. If we use peer review as a validity standard, then we ask what “peer reviewed” studies provide evidence that “peer reviewed” studies are trustworthy, clearly this cannot be established by peer reviewed studies. And, indeed, any validity standard will encounter the same problem.
Although a similar problem to trusting one’s own senses, there is no catastrophic result in rejecting the knowledge of others. It is entirely possible to maintain a standard of personal verification of all knowledge claims and doubt the claims of the scientific community and to function in a non-arbitrary way.
This problem has largely gone unnoticed:
First, because the first scientists, from Aristotle to Descartes to Newton, could simply maintain the personal standard of proof as experiments were based on simple tools, easy to replicate and simply not very numerous; and so, the problem of trust in “scientists” accumulates over time as it becomes more and more difficult for an individual to verify scientific claims: The individual cannot launch satellites, visit every environment and encounter every species, run every type of laboratory, construct their own computers from scratch and code all the analytical tools, and all single handed trusting to no one.
Second, the positive arguments to distrust science also accumulate overtime; the first scientists simply did not consider that scientific knowledge claims could have vast economic implications with massive interests to establish one claim over another. The first scientists did not consider any stakes other than simply being proven right or wrong.
Absent a philosophical foundation for modern science, the entire issue is sidestepped by the dogma that “mistakes get corrected … eventually”. Nearly all scientists resort to this eventually dogma in defending the scientific community, whether abstractly in presupposing such a theory has been worked out or when individual mistakes are indeed uncovered and an apologetics must be put forward.
Obviously, this dogma has no scientific basis as is unverifiable by any experiment that can be performed today; the entire future history of science can be claimed to be “the experiment”, but this is even poorer critical thinking as one then must wait for the experiment to complete to believe in any community science process until then; i.e. future knowledge cannot be the basis for present knowledge. That nearly all academic scientists repeat this dogma simply betrays a complete analytic incompetence. Academia, insofar as this dogma is the foundation, is functionally a priesthood, entirely based the prestige of academic institutions as a substitute to a correct foundation of science.
Competent thinking can of course solve the problem; and perhaps our supposedly brilliant scientists have considered the correct approach from time to time but have simply been too tame and cowardly to put forward the correct solution.
For, it is not incoherent to distrust other people’s reports. It is entirely feasible to function based on personal verification of knowledge and act coherently. To believe knowledge reports from the scientific community cannot be based on an argument that the alternative is incoherent action; trusting what other people tell me to believe is not the same as distrusting myself. I must trust myself to make any decision at all (including to distrust myself), whereas I can distrust everyone else and still make decisions based on my own reasoning.
Furthermore, there are not only alternative knowledge claim communities to “science”, but it is always possible to find someone that we can plausibly call “a scientist” willing to dissent on nearly any particular issue. Clearly, the scientific community considered as a group the legitimates scientific beliefs, must offer some differentiating argument. To some extent, the scientific community does offer differentiating arguments in pointing to technological successes (that can be personally verified to work), but simply pointing at things and saying “see, look what scientists have made” is a far too nebulous and immature argument to represent a serious community. Now, am I saying every single self-reported scientist is an idiot? Yes, to the degree that they have relied on hand-wavy pointing to technological civilization to justify more knowledge claims than the nebulous fact that technological civilization exists as we encounter it, it is pure idiocy and the entire scientific community are dangerous dogmatic fanatics.
The basic intuition is correct, that encountering technological civilization is a personal verification that “some sort of knowledge” has been created to result in technological civilization. However, this is not a blank check warranting belief in everything the scientific community claims. To rely on personal experience in technological civilization to justify a knowledge claim, the argument must be in the form “this aspect of technological civilization cannot exist without some technique to create it, the technique relies on these knowledge claims with a vast quantity of engineers and technicians maintaining or extending this aspect of technological civilization based on these knowledge claims, these engineers and technicians can be randomly sampled in their knowledge beliefs and application, these people can be further personally evaluated as either trustworthy or incapable of a sophisticated lie, therefore the plausibility of the knowledge under consideration is exceedingly high.
For those readers with their egos wrapped up in institutional prestige eagerly anticipating that I “go off the rails” at this chapter, again: Total fools. All the very core theories to science can indeed be justified to a high degree of certainty through personal encounter with technological civilization and a reasonable account for such a phenomena. Indeed we can look at Newtonian mechanics, Maxwell’s equations, Thermodynamics, General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Field Theory, chemistry foundations, evolutionary biology foundations, and direct extensions of these theories in the design of technology as a personal validation of the knowledge claims.
However, even belief in these core foundational theories is not a straightforward argument.
For the power of technological civilization can be easily extended to create a technological fantasy land. In verifying technological civilization “works” we also verify that a state of total trickery is technologically possible. We can easily imagine humanity or then some alien race has already advanced to a much more sophisticated level and decided to create experimental societies the size of whole planets or then virtually.
Of course, the positive proof that we live in a simulation because simulated beings we can suppose outnumber base reality beings, is not tenable. Already we have more simulated beings in computer games, corporate avatars and scientific experiments than we have real people, but this does not matter in the slightest as we have no reason to believe such beings are conscious. Crucially, no matter how sophisticated such simulations become we have no experiment available to verify consciousness emerges in our simulations. Therefore, even if simulations out number base-reality beings, there is no reason to believe any of those simulations are conscious. We cannot verify artificial consciousness is possible. Worse, we cannot even verify other people are conscious nor even possibly conscious. The claim “only one consciousness can possibly exist and I am that consciousness” has no rational refutation, even less experimental refutation. There is no box that we can build today, nor even any schematic proposal of a box that could eventually be built, that turns on a green light if something is placed inside that is conscious and turns on a red light if only unconscious matter is placed inside — and if all energy is conscious in some sense to some degree, there is no box that can measure the consciousness intensity of an object, so such conjectures solve nothing and are but the fantastical whims of fools.
However, even if there is no positive proof that we are “probably in a virtual simulation”, nor proof that such simulations are possible, there remains clearly the possibility of being in a completely biological based simulation, whether a brain in a vat or then on a experimental planet setup by our own species (that is already far more advanced) or then another species.
We could be lazy about such foundational issues as our scientific community has chosen to be, but there is no need. We are faced with a probabilistic set of choices, the non-lazy approach is to create a probabilistic model.
As we have no data to that would settle the matter, such as a survey or random sampling of the entire universe and which sentient beings are in a experimental environment to test what degree people believe things simply because other people believe things but evidence is actually available to get to the truth of one’s imprisonment, or then simply to see what fantastical theories people will believe based on encountering a technological civilization that is in fact maintained by other correct theories, or then for other purposes (such as biological agent inputs to a fantasy world that people in the real world can join in from time to time for fun).
Lacking data, we must therefore rely on Bayesian inference or some equivalent setup. We can of course personally verify the truths of mathematical theorems.
The Bayesian statistical approach to inference in new scenarios, relies on justifying a “most likely scenario” and updating the likelihood of this scenario as we encounter new information.
The classic example is evaluating a coin toss series of outcomes considering the fact we cannot know if the coin is weighted unfairly or not. To say “this coin has 50% chance of heads and 50% chance of tails” can never be the starting assumption in any real experience. How many heads must come up before we reevaluate the probability that the coin is weighted heads weighted is what the Bayesian formula provides. Unfortunately for every mathematician that stopped this lesson there: a pathetic lack of both imagination and rigor. For, that the coin is simply unfairly weighted is only one unfair-coin possibility. Another possibility is that the coin is dynamically weighted with an internal mechanism, or then otherwise modified or replaced to the same effect, in order to overcome a simplistic Bayesian analysis of the gullible and lazy mathematician that cares not for rigorous reasoning, a completely ludicrous, unworthy example of what mathematical reasoning has to offer.
If we are considering situations of tricking and cheating there is no upper bound of what trickery is possible, and therefore Bayesian inference is never justified in these situations without a priori reasoning.
We require a fundamental Bayesian scenario in order to start our analysis, otherwise there is limitless higher order falsification scenarios and we never come to any justified conclusion. We can only conclude we have been given a coin of which we are convinced satisfies a simple scenario, but we have not been informed that we are not in some more complex scenario of which our simple analysis is entirely futile.
This fundamental scenario has only one possibility of reference, that of our selves and what we are willing to assume about other conscious beings based on ourselves. The only basis to dismiss higher order trickery is that we ourselves would not go to such an extreme length, as we ourselves cannot imagine a reasonable motivation for doing so. If we decide to resolve an issue with a series of coin tosses on some some thing of no lasting importance, I assume you would not trick me with a dynamic coin, or even a weighted coin, because I do not see why I would do so myself. Likewise, if on some more important matter we decide on a coin toss and we select some (seemingly) randomly selected coin, and furthermore test it with the weight-testing Bayesian experiment, then I myself cannot imagine myself going to the trouble of replacing all the feasibly accessible coins with dynamically weighted ones to create the illusion of a fair random coin selection process. However, just as I could imagine carrying a weighted coin myself (if I was not a Kantian, which I’ve personally verified not everyone is) for the occasion of important coin tosses, and so a random coin selection process increases confidence, I can imagine the stakes high enough where I would consider the effort of some amazingly sophisticated “replacing all the available coins” or then some unnoticeable substitution process as something to consider. The fundamental Bayesian theorem is not that there is some constant cutoff of considering more and more sophisticated scenarios in order for analysis to conclude with a decidable result (different and we believe better than when the analysis started), but, crucially, that this cutoff is proportional to the stakes involved.
I conclude I’m “probably not in some sort of simulation” because I do not myself , as a conscious being, imagine stakes that would motivate me to create a planet sized sentient being experiment or then a biological-agent-input to virtual entertainment systems at a scale large enough that “sentient beings are probably in such an entertainment system”.
Now, in the case of “perfect trickery” it can be argued that it simply doesn’t matter what one believes, as it is pragmatically equal to believing one’s whole world is some sort of trick or then is as it appears since decisions must be made either way and the “perfect trick” hypothesis does not lead to different decisions, and therefore it is a hypothesis that can be simply removed. However, the cases above are not perfect, we can imagine our tricksters are not perfect and there is some way to detect the trick and some way out of the trick, and pursuing this truth is preferable if we indeed believe in the pursuit of truth; we must deal with Bayesian statistical reasoning to discount such scenarios.
I believe other people are conscious because I am conscious and other people are like me. I believe other sentient beings, mostly, wouldn’t put me in a large sadistic simulation with some tortuously complex escape rout, because I would not put them in such a prison.
I can use this “mostly” opinion that the universe is fundamentally benevolent, with more benevolent sentient beings with sophisticated civilizations than not, to discount the “entire world is a trick” hypothesis.
However, I cannot use this reasoning to assume there are no exceptions to this general opinion of sentient beings. Tricksters there are. Assuming they are exceptions, I can conclude their resources are not nearly limitless compared to mine requiring nearly, but not quite, infeasible quantity of Bayesian scenarios to construct and update over several decades in order to detect their plot. Rather, that if the stakes are high enough and I suspected a dynamic coin plot could be afoot, I could not only select some random coins at what seems to me at random but select a few coins among them with my own capacity to approach randomness and cut those coins open for further inspection, using a microscope if I think warranted.
Of course high stakes coin flipping to the point of plausibly (based on my assumptions above) motivating the creation of thousands, or even millions, of dynamic coins and then stealthily replacing all the real coins in an entire area is a rare thing, if it has ever happened at all. However, there are plenty of games of chance with high enough stakes to motivate exceptional tricksters to go to any feasible length that renders a profit. And indeed, in casinos we find the house continuously willing to consider ever more sophisticated scenarios and inventing both direct discovery and Bayesian based analysis to detect such tricks, as do the players consider the house is fooling them and looking to Bayesian analysis of past events to justify belief the casino is proposing odds as advertised. There is less concern on the part of the players simply because the odds, even as advertised, are not favourable and the less fair odds only mean losing all of the money quicker; outside special circumstances, there is not sufficiently motivating stakes to trick players into losing quicker than advertised; although it does happen and so regulators exist to prevent it, there is no reason to expect to win any money in any case and there is little justification to engage in sophisticated reasoning simply to detect losing money even faster than one has bargained for.
However, science too is a high stakes situation where we can suppose trickery.
Yes, technological civilization works. But how well?
To the extent technological civilization is not working, we can suspect any scientific knowledge advanced to maintain that dysfunction. Likewise, to the extent any knowledge claim is not related to the maintenance of technological civilization we can suspect such a claim. Our motivation to engage in trickery identification increases as the stakes increase.
For, even if we do believe the dogma that “science will correct itself eventually” there is no upper bound to the costs of false beliefs in the meantime. Since there is no upper bound to the cost of erroneous belief, the cost can be the extinction of humanity and science itself therefore refuting the dogma that “science will correct itself eventually”.
Scientists have no been so foolish as to claim stakes are not high and there is no motivation to engage in sophisticated frauds. What scientists have failed to do as a community is recognize that stakes can be high enough to corrupt entire scientific disciplines with regard to critical claims that have no upper bound cost other than extinction of the species. They have failed to do this as a community because they themselves enjoy the fruits of corruption. The situation today is that the scientific community represents a scientific aristocracy that has entered a terminal dysfunctional corruption phase. These scientific aristocrats are either corrupt or then spineless cowards, with the few dissenters to this corruption banished or ignored. As the system becomes more corrupt, new aristocrats are indoctrinated into corruption or then tolerated for their moral trepidation and confidence they will not cause trouble.
The current “mass epidemic of scientific skepticism”, from the scientific establishment point of view, is a reasonable reaction to failures of the scientific community. Technological civilization is not working, and therefore any given claims of the scientific priests who oversee technological civilization has no basis to be believed. The scientific aristocracy failure to manage technological civilization is completely reasonable basis to reject these aristocratic institutions and their claims to knowledge authority beyond personal verification of a given technology working in isolation (such as a computer providing a laborious calculation result that can be verified by hand to be correct, as well as the personally verifiable ballpark amount of information the computer can contain based on pixel heights and widths of visual reproductions).
Now, that we can reasonably suspect any high-stakes additional scientific claim that has no relation to personal verification of fundamental experiment or then technological interaction, does not mean all high stakes scientific claims are incorrect, only that we cannot justify believing “all of them or none of them”. An alternative to the core science dogma exists, which is to carry out careful analysis to identify the probable falsified scientific claims.
Now, the total novice and fool may interject here and “All that, to say you think scientists are mostly correct”. Complete imbecile that has not been paying attention. Since there is no upper bound to the cost of a single scientific error; therefore, even a single erroneous positive belief justifies a maximum effort to find. It is not a justifiable position to be content that “most scientists are right about most high stakes issues”.
The scientific aristocracy is happy to let low stakes scientific communities manage their own affairs, since the stakes aren’t high enough to justify building completely corrupt careers.
The problem with these low-stakes scientists as well as the honest high-stakes scientists that have overcome corrupt odds, is that they cling desperately the assumption that errors elsewhere in science must simply be ignored in order to support the notion “scientists should be believed” to therefore lazily be able to include their own high stakes position. The honest but simply spineless do not want their community to be scrutinized from outside their subdivision of the scientific aristocracy.
It is hard work to go into the high stakes issues and build actionable Bayesian probability based arguments to identify erroneous beliefs introduced by corrupt bad actors as well as persistent honest mistakes introduced by incompetent delusional idiots. Most scientists do not do this work because they lack the critical thinking skills to think for themselves, but among the minority that can think for themselves most join in on the corruption or simply do not confront it because it will cost them their job one way or another.
Like all aristocracies in a terminal corrupt decline, spontaneous correction from the inside is foolish to expect nor an actionable plan in anycase, and the only solution is a new management of scientific institutions.
We will need to build up a more sophisticated view of politics to get back into these critical high stake scientific issues and what is a practical pathway forward.
To complete this chapter and link back to politics, it feels fitting to simply note that aristocracy is not an exaggeration. Although scientific positions are not hereditary, heirs are selected by the scientists themselves in close coordination with the investor aristocracy class (which is more hereditary).
Furthermore, it seems also important to note that idiocy of the scientific community is likewise not an exaggeration. Critical thinking is supposing when there is evidence to justify belief. The idea that “science will eventually correct itself” is at odds with the critical thinking method since those erroneous things should have never had high enough confidence to believe to begin with. Scientists have not applied their own standards of independent repeatability, and even when they do they discount sophisticated fraud. The peer review process is simply a joke peddled to introduce these erroneous beliefs; peer review is not a substitute to independent repeatability with high confidence verification processes to rule out conflicts of interest. Peer review is simply a defense mechanism of the scientific aristocracy and the perfect tool of corruption to get scientists and the general population to believe that it’s reasonable to “believe in peer review conclusions” because the high priests have said so; even if peer review was not corrupt, it is not a standard of belief but only a check on internal consistency of the information presented (at best a inefficient redundancy considering anyone can check for internal consistency … if publicly funded papers were always available to the public); repeatability from independent sources breaching a critical threshold of confidence is still required to justify belief. The fact most scientists talk about peer review as a standard of belief is completely trustworthy evidence that most scientists lack basic critical thinking skills, and that they mistakenly claim truth on a critical and easily verifiable fact renders them idiots. And yes, I’m referring to even the famously dumb people such as Tyson, Richard Dawkins, … et. al.
There is of course a minority of scientists fighting against the corrupt institution of non-verified scientific belief upheld by obviously corrupted presteige. Like all aristocracies, some of their rank are required for efficient destruction of their class and reorganization of society on more just and reasonable lines.
And yes, strong words are justified when a corrupt practices result in large social and environmental harms, such as lives destroyed by addicted substances offered by a trusted doctor, animals tortured for profit, and species extinction. Strong words are not enough. Arrests and hangings for genocide with the the same theoretical foundation, but less hypocritical application, of the Hague trials of the Nazi leaders would be sufficient. And we will get there. The massive scale of destruction of the knowledge and corporate management fraud leaves no other alternative. The only question is whether it will be after a reckoning and avoiding of or then during environmental collapse.
On the question of the existence of ethics
“Should statements” are meaningful and there exists some things we should do and some things we should not do. Proof: To reject all “should” statements, either the meaning itself or that no should statements are true, leads to fundamentally arbitrary decisions as no action should be taken over any another.
Some actions are preferable to other actions by definition according to non-arbitrariness, such as “we should avoid contradiction” which is the meaning of the principle, and by definition these preferable actions should be chosen over non-preferred actions.
For instance, by definition true statements, if recognized as such, should be believed and false statements, if so demonstrated, should not be believed. If someone claims my statements about should statements is false, it is of no consequence if they are not also claiming “I should therefore give up belief in these claims because they are false”.
It is simply worthwhile to note here, due to the abundant confusion, that no amount of “is” statements can provide an alternative formulation. I will dwell on this for some time as this confusion is particularly widespread and popular at the moment, despite being known about for centuries; and in the abstract it seems obvious, but when presented in some particular form the error in reasoning easily goes unnoticed: for it is comforting to believe one’s beliefs are “facts” and not “choices”, for it is difficult to choose but easy know.
We might say “it is the case that people generally strive to do this or that” or “it is the case that animals in general, or life in general, does this or that”, but simply stating some observation or belief about future observations, whether refutable or not, does not resolve the question of whether one “should” do as other people, animals, insects, or life forms in general, or indeed even objects as such, seem to be “doing”.
For instance, it maybe the case that people tend to compete in some situations and tend to cooperate in other situations, this tendency may be verifiable to 5 sigma (i.e. pass the bar of validity our scientific community puts their faith in), but no amount of sigma provides an argument that oneself should do as people are tending to do, or even that those people should do so simply because they are already doing it; it is simply an observation that people are doing this or that from the most distant past we have knowledge about to the latest data collection on the subject. In other words, descriptive theories of what is happening, socially or otherwise, do not, no matter how accurate, provide justification for doing similar things; one may do likewise and claim “it is the case that I am doing likewise” or one may do the opposite and claim “it is the case I am doing the opposite”, these further “is” statements do not contradict the previous “is” statements establishing a social trend, only a new data point in one place on the graph.
Any new data point that is verifiable is not in contradiction with other verifiable data points. Only erroneous theories about those data points can contradict the data: it maybe the case that all people previously acted in such a way; if someone then acts differently it does not contradict the previous data-points, only the theory that “all people always act in such a way now and in the future” which in this case is verifiably false now that one person has done differently.
The only new data-points one might create to contradict previous data-points are actions not-allowed by reality, but these by definition one cannot do and so no verfiable data will ever be generated showing something “impossible happening”; again, if such an “impossible thing” where to happen and be verified there is no problem with the data but only with the theory about what is possible and impossible; by definition all new verifiable data points cohere with all previous data points; only our theories about future data-points are liable to be contradicted by future data points or then the data itself was erroneous (the process of verification or then the theories used to label something as verified did not work as intended).
Making decisions, solely on data-points and their interpretation, is the naturalist fallacy; that psycho-bablists and econo-bablists make “is” based theories justifying this or that action and this or that policy attests not only to their ignorance of science but the general poor level of critical thinking taught in these disciplines. Really, they are simply obfuscating ought-based recommendations, an underlying political theory, behind many is-like-statements; they feel compelled to do this because they believe we should deffer to experts, in particular themselves, but their only claim to expertise is a narrow field of what “is”, so to mention any “what should” statements is now outside their field of expertise and they should, by their own recommendation of deferring to experts, no longer be deferred to, but rather some other expert on these “should” statements should be called for. At best they are no more a credible source of commentary on what “should be the goal” than anyone in their audience, and thus no more right to speak; at worst the audience demands a competent philosopher of this ethics business to ask an account of this is-ought issue, who is liable in the least, to demolish the “is” façades of the peddlers of naturalist fallacies.
So, seeming to draw decisions or policy recommendations from is-statement, that are in theory objective if they were possible, is a good manipulation of an uncritical mind and a good way to increase the influence of an entire specialist field, but it is not science nor honest. The reason is-statements cannot lead to ought-statements is easy to demonstrate, as done above, the reason the ruse is so successful is that many people already have ought-beliefs that they themselves do not critically review, nor wish to have critically reviewed, so it is quite convenient to the mind to believe these ought-beliefs are justified by an impressive sounding self described scientist — but in so appeasing the desires of his audience the scientist becomes little more than a charlatan and disgrace to the critical method.
There are so many concrete examples of such scientism, in particular the mentioned econobablists and psycholobablists, that entire volumes can be filled in simply pointing them out; but I must leave this for another work. However, for the purposes of satisfying the reader I will quickly deconstruct the scientific authority of the entire psychological profession. For decisions to represent a disease requires a moral evaluation, either by a patient and, more often society and the psychologist themselves. If it is the patient claiming the decisions represent a disease, this is hardly an objective scientific process; the psychologist may use such a justification of “hey, their asking me to help them modify their behaviour: I’m just supplying the service and am morally neutral, and thus I myself am doing science” but this simply betrays a lack of imagination to generate the obvious refutation that if the patient asked for behaviour modification to do something clearly immoral and/or illegal the the psychologist would feel compelled to refuse service; for instance, if a patient asked to be trained to become more cruel to their abuse victims, the psychology profession would not view it as noble to offer to “fix” the patient’s self-diagnosed disease preventing them inflicting more abuse. This may seem obvious, but if it is true then it is equally obvious psychologists are not morally neutral scientists. For, a medical doctor working on physical injuries can fix the broken arm of an abuser based on a hard science establishing what a broken arm is and how to fix it, and the medical profession views is that it is noble that they fix even the arms of the wicked. Medical doctors have helped the injured on both sides of a battle mending bodies based on science and can legitimately claim to be morally neutral in such a task; a medical doctor on the battle field can mend injuries based on objective observations organized by the medical community. A psychologist on the battlefield, however, is incapable of such a scientific basis for action; for if those same soldiers came and said “we have a mental disease or disorder preventing us from inflicting maximum harm on our enemies that is required for us to win” there is no objective basis to decide there is such a mental disease based on this self diagnosis.
Of course, even needing to deal with the case of self diagnosis as a basis for establishing what a mental disease is or the basis for psychologists to “do psychology” seems completely strange to even mention and would seem a straw man, if it wasn’t so prevalent in the functioning of psychology.
But if not self diagnosis, then the psychologist evaluating behaviour as representing a disease, and behaviour is the only thing that can be evaluated about the mind, cannot base such a diagnosis on any scientific basis. To even attempt such a thing requires first of all denying free choice. For, if free choice exists than any set of behaviors can be chosen freely by a perfectly healthy individual; the behaviour being the only empirical basis in this medical endeavor the only conclusion to draw is that, even if a mental disease existed resulting in certain sets of behaviours, there would be no way to distinguish such a disease with someone who freely chose to behave in the same way. It is only if we equate “mental health” with “morally acceptable” that we can make the argument that “bad behaviour is the result of a mental disease”, which is what psychologists are enlisted to say again and again, but bad is clearly a “should statement” of “what you shouldn’t do” and disease an “is statement”, and so if should statement cannot be derived from is statements, then all of psychology as practiced today is a complete and utter crock.
Psychologists maybe aware of the above problems in diagnosis; however, being aware of a problem does not mean that problem is solved; a fallacy of perception so obvious that we can name it the “psychologists fallacy”. Yes, psychologists will sometimes mention that people might be choosing to do things that they then diagnose as a diseases and so, by definition, there is no disease. For instance, someone who is diagnosed with “authority disorder” may not have a mental disease but view the supposed authority as illegitimate and so morally necessary to appose. Did the resisters to Nazi’s have “authority disorder”. Of course, I’m cherry picking here an obviously made up disease convenient for maintaining state power and the status quo and many psychologists may admit that it’s obviously what’s going on, but the important thing is psychologists have not objected to it sufficiently to change it, and, more importantly, the process of naming this made up mental disorder is the same as every other mental disorder, and, if we look closely, all mental disorders can be used simply as a convenience for state power and the status quo just as we can, if we exert ourselves, imagine someone really having some sort of disorder creating a negative reaction to authority for no legitimate reason.
It was a political process to label homosexuality a mental disorder and it was a political process to name it not a mental disorder. The important thing to conclude is that labeling all mental disorders is a political process.
Now, there are of course physical diseases of the brain and nervous system with related mental phenomena, but in all such cases the empirical basis for diagnosis are those physical things that exist and can be investigated and verified independent of behaviour, whether reporting mental states or otherwise. A brain tumour may affect behaviour such as reporting about mental states or walking, but the tumour really is there; it is not a mental disease it is a physical disease that affects the mind, but this, and anything that has a physical basis, is not a different category of disease as the rest of medical science. So too breaking an arm affects mental states and behaviour.
Chemicals! Chemicals imbalance! Is what the psychologists scream to try to hold on to some physical basis for diagnosing (what was previously) purely mental diseases and behavioral disorders. Chemicals are definitely part of the physical constitution for which there can be a disease. However, again, the psychological fallacy arises if believing that awareness there’s a problem means a solution not only exists but has been properly implemented for that problem. Simply because a chemical problem really could be a physically based disease does not mean hands can be waved at “chemical imbalances” as a basis of diagnosis without statistical evidence. A broken arm is clearly a medical problem because it essentially goes without question that the arrangement of bone is far outside the statistical norm of where bones should be, not only relative people in general but also how the person was previously; however, such statistical evidence exists and becomes relevant to the medical doctor when the arm maybe “slightly broken” … or “just a normal statistical variation”, and if there is pain it maybe due to something other than bone arrangement. “Chemical imbalances” require the same statistical rigor if they are to be used as a diagnosis of disease.
Not only is actual statistics and actual evidence far enough away natural variation needed to base mental disease diagnosis on some physical, and nor moral grounds, but simply comparing to a random sample of “normal” individuals is not statistically rigorous, as it is the case with bones. Bones of a particular age group are largely static in their arrangement, they are not rapidly changing dynamic variables. If we measure a 6 year old to have bones of a certain length one day we do not find a big difference the next day. However, continuously produced and consumed chemicals within the body can have very large dynamic variation. Testing “mentally normal” individuals once does not capture such dynamic variation but only what the average of this dynamic variation is.
Again, psychiatrists know that there’s large variation and “mentally normal” people also have chemical composition from time to time that would be easily diagnosed as a disease if they were a patient very much desiring, and paying in the hopes their desire will be fulfilled, a diagnosis for ends relating to choice and not mental disease or then the state very much desiring a diagnosis relating to the choice of those running the state and related appendages regardless if there is actual disease or not. Again, another example of the psychologists fallacy if none of them who are completely aware of this problem have bothered to put in place robust empirical and statistical methods to actually solve that problem.
For every mental disease there can be made strong arguments, given the same scientific basis of observation, that the behaviour represents natural variation in the human population or then the consequence of political choices.
For instance, if we choose to have a political system where exploitation of people and the planet without any regard for their well being is a negative thing, observing large amounts of exploitation may result in episodes of deep melancholy that a psychologists that has a moral system based on pretending to be a scientists while making bank diagnoses as depression. However, the facts in this case are that moral choices and empirical observation resulted in the bodies natural reaction making ethical decisions and scientific observation.
If we take “the most feared disease” of sociopaths and psychopaths, if we view statistics as important to doing science, we immediately note a too large percentage of such purported diagnosis to be completely at odds with evolution. Now, it could be environmental changes have created more cases of disease; real science would need to be done to establish that. An alterative possibility is that psychopaths and sociopaths are part of the natural variation of human experience and are useful to a healthy society. Just as there are those quicker or stronger or who can run longer or function with less food, and such variation is useful to society, it maybe that there are people with more or less sympathy and more or less empathy, and that this variation is useful to society. For instance, it is purported that there are more psychopaths at the top of organizations; one theory is that this is because people with no sympathy can more easily crush and manipulate their competitors to get to the top, but we can posit another theory that such people are also good at crushing and manipulating the competitors outside the organization and so useful to their own organization; that social groups require those willing to do things outside the social norm when required to protect the social organization as a whole. The psychopath is not manifesting a disease when asked to shoot the prisoners when there is no longer enough resources to spare to sustain them, or asked to torture to get information, or asked to infiltrate a criminal network to gather evidence, or asked to carry out an assassination, or develop a new terrible weapon, but only expressing the will of the community. It is only when the very same individuals using the very same strengths make moral choices to act against the interests of the community (a moral theory generally believed by most members of the community) that there is suddenly “a disease”.
Therefore, the argument can be made that in a healthy “normal” human community within the statistical distribution of human communities throughout the evolution of our species, that the advantage of psychopaths and sociopaths provided to society outweighs the internal risks of having them around: i.e. that in peaceful times a healthy tightly knit community is able to manage direct constructively the objectives of a few sociopaths and psychopaths by knowing them well from infancy and simple strength of numbers but, in times of conflict, the community can use those same psychopath and sociopath as a tool of war against enemies that do not know them.
Violence being a driver of many statistical distributions in evolution, the mental ease at which to do violence against other stands to reason evolution would not have simply forgot about.
The point of telling such a stories is not to say that it is true, only that there is almost no scientific way to find out if it is true and that nearly the entire discipline of psychology and sociology is such story telling of which the practitioners believe what they want to believe and also believe they are justified because the problems in doing so were mentioned at some point. To the intellectual novice someone with a degree, a bunch of information, and aware of a problem may easily seem very impressive and the conclusion that “therefore that problem has been solved” may seem a legitimate conclusion to jump to; but it is a fallacy to jump to such a conclusion without actually seeing the solution pass the critical method.
For every purported mental disease there must be an empirical basis to conclude it is not due to choice of the person exhibiting the behaviour in question nor part of the normal statistical variation of human tendendies. For if it is a choice it cannot, by definition be a disease, the solution is not science but a moral evaluation of whether those choices are acceptable to society to tolerate, and if it is part of a normal distribution of behaviour then again it is not a disease but rather society has organized in such a way that such natural human tendencies are a problem: it is a moral evaluation, not a scientific diagnosis, to keep society so organized or to change society to accommodate what is in fact normal behaviour in friction with a abnormal society. And if we conclude society is abnormal there evaporated nearly all potentiality to make any legitimate scientific claim as to what is normal behaviour. Normal behaviour is only possible in a normal society by definition.
That there is no scientific basis for most of what psychology does and purports to know is the reason for the proliferation of competing anti-scientific alternatives for the same “good feelings” service. For, if there’s no real science to the psychologists “feel better” service, then essentially completely randomly constituted alternative treatments would have the same p-value of success and so, for anyone who is tracking empirical observations of “what works” and “what doesn’t” of the people around them, totally anti-scientific based treatments will have the same results: potentially better results in the delusional state of the pscychology results in worse that placeabo affects, such as prescribing chemicals that do nothing other than a short term placeabo but long term negative side affects which are not just mental but cause physicla disease: someone seeing such a thing play out and compare it with anti-scientific purely word based placeobo therapies will be able to conclude, based on emperical observation, that the anti-sceintific therapies have better results.
Now, if you believe all this explanation is to simply state all the money thrown at charlatans in psychology as well as random new-age spiritualisms would be better directed towards philosophers: you are correct. Philosophy is a much better use of such moneys.
Not that there are no truths at all in new-age spiritualism, not that there are no truths at all in psychology text books and papers, only that when falsehoods mix with the truth are the falsehoods dangerous just as it is only when methane mixes with oxygen does it become dangerous.
Full disclosure: I was sent, after some awkward meetings with the police, to weekly meetings with a psychologist in a small crawl space of the school when I was in grade eight for writing a letter threatening political revolution as a tit for tat response to their unjust management practices as I had just finished reading The Power of Ideas by Isah Berlin and I felt there was a missing, though implied, practical exercises left to the reader, but, fortunately, I wasn’t raped and after few meetings and derailing the discussion towards black holes and other science trivia of suitable objects of interest for a fabricated child prodigee persona wandering aimlessly towards total subserviance to the arms of academia or some other other suitable neutering organization, completely harmless I can assure you, was declared a just clever boy without any mental disorders and left to go about my business. Thanks to this experience I discovered the danger psychologists posed to my person; for I could have easily been provided a total douche bag not so easily fooled who would have made my life more difficult, and so, applying this knowledge, I have had no other personal run ins with the psychologists.
And, having dissuaded a pitiful accusations that I hold some personal grudge — and to be clear, I do have a grudge, but it is for evil in the name doing good and not any actual personal harm to myself, which I have never experienced — to not also be accused of dangerous destructive criticism; psychology can be easily reformed: as a discipline and service based on a careful teasing out emperical facts from individual choices and community judgments (that community norms are not an empirical basis to justify treatment but a political process the patient is as legitimate to engage in as a political actor as the psychologist is legitimate in attempting to impose government policy on the patient; i.e. the psychologists is only as legitimate as those political processes themselves can be argued legitimate and that there is no science that come to defend the psychologists as a morally neutral physician in the case of being the tool of an illegitimate and oppressive government; and, of course, governing legitimacy is a philosophical question, that the patient has just as much moral authority to evaluate as the psychologist). To reform new-age spiritualism is even easier: recognizing that giving money to gurus is a powerful, but dangerous, placebo with long term negative side affects for both the individual empowering a given cult and society as a whole; that spiritual wisdom can only be effectively shared for free and not as a consumer service promising to make people feel better.
On the existence of God
There is a lot of debate as to whether God can be defined. We are of course unable to define something of which we have no definition.
Rather, we make definitions and we try to establish when or what in reality fits those definitions. Often definitions encompass a variety of things or precepts and any specific thing requires a combination of definitions to elaborate. Asking the one true definition of “God” in this sense is akin to asking the one true definition of “blue”. Definitions in themselves have no truth value, only assertions that something really exists fitting the definition in question have truth values.
In other-words it is a mistake to try to define God with any sort of precision, before concluding a sufficient-something exists that is reasonable to call God, given what people usually mean when they use the word God. It makes no sense to ask if the “sky is blue” if we are not yet sure there is a sky.
For our purposes, the question is whether faith in our three principles necessitates concluding such a sufficient-something exists, doesn’t, or both possibilities are consistent with our premises (i.e. we cannot conclude one way or another with only these principles).
Let us begin reflecting on the nature of existence based on these principles and see whether it leads us to God or not:
The belief in the coherence of our senses presupposes a belief in the coherence of existence in which are found our senses and things they illuminate, however partially that may be.
If existence is fundamentally coherent there must be a force maintaining this coherence, moreover a force that ensures no other force can destroy or de-cohere existence. If there was no force maintaining the coherence of existence, then by definition existence could de-cohere any time either by some force within or just spontaneously. The de-coherence of existence results in pragmatic equivalence of all possible action paths, as fundamental de-coherence by definition is not impacted by anything that was before; anything before no longer exists in the most fundamental way possible; there is no basis to say it ever existed at all. De-coherence may have a new nature, that by definition cannot in the most fundamental way be possible to predict, but since it is not affected by anything previous, all post-de-coherence states are pragmatically equivalent “results” with respect to the present coherent state. If de-coherence is possible, in an infinite time it is certain and thus all actions are pragmatically equal, as all action paths result in de-coherence, and all instances of de-coherence of existence are pragmatically equal with respect to being unaffected by anything prior.
Therefore, to respect non-arbitrariness, coherence must be assumed, to assume coherence assumes some force able to maintain coherence indefinitely, by definition a force greater than all other forces. This force we can refer to as God as it is a sufficient something that fits people’s expectations to render the word usefully employed in this context; i.e. a power greater than all other powers.
God is benevolent
Assuming God is most-powerful and malevolent results in non-arbitrariness violation, as if a most-powerful God was malevolent, whatever action one takes, no possible good could come of it and so one could not say any action is preferable over any other action. Any seemingly good situation existing or seemingly attainable is simply a mirage in setting up a maximal terror and badness later, and so one should not attempt to attain such situations, at least not more than any other situation. In a universe with a most-powerful malevolent God, all actions lead to maximum badness, which is the same result for all possible action paths.
We may entertain the assumption that God, though maintains the fundamental order of existence, is not sufficiently more-powerful and could not enforce a malevolent intent, or not maximally so. If so however, this God is subject to a greater power limiting the scope of action, and therefore there is another force limiting the scope of the fundamental ordering force. There would in this case require an even more fundamental force maintaining this order of one ordering force and another limiting force on this ordering force, and the first force is therefore not maintaining fundamental order but rather this third mentioned force. This third force would then be more-powerful than the ordering force as well as limiting force and by regulating these forces could achieve whatever result. It follows that if a force maintains the fundamental order of existence there is no limits to the scope of action of this force, and we return to the question of whether this force is benevolent or malevolent as a binary choice and not a continuous variable.
This does not assume creating contradictions in existence is a scope of action, only no limits within existence which may or may not include the power to create contradictions. If we assume contradictions can be created by God, this can be coherent with non-arbitrariness if it does not lead to the decoherence of existence. Again this is not a proof of the existence of God, only that God, referencing a fundamental ordering force, follows from the starting three principles.
We may also entertain the assumption that God is indifferent. An indifferent God with the power to act, without limits as established above follows from our three axioms, would therefore act arbitrarilly (from our point of view) and decohere existence from time to time, for indifference is as indifferent to non-action as it is to action, and as indifferent to any given action as to another. An indifferent God would by definition be an arbitrary God and the non-arbitrariness principle cannot be consistent with an arbitrary God.
If God is assumed not-malovent and not-arbitrary, it follows God is benelovent and action paths can lead to non-pragmatically equivalent situations that are better than others.
There is Good and Bad
If we assume nothing is good, as in nothing should be chosen over anything else, this is a direct violation of non-arbitrariness. This is simply repeating the existence of morals but introducing a new term.
Immortality of the soul
The assumption that one’s subjective experience ceases to exist, is pragmatically equivalent to decoherence of all existence as far as one is concerned, as decoherence of existence is the same, with respect to a subjective experience, as one’s subjective experience ceasing to exist. Non-existence by definition is always the same; or at the least nothing existing can affect non-existence without bringing something existing into it and forming it into some form of existence. For action paths to lead to different results presupposes indefinite existence. So in a similar way of pressuposing the fundamental coherence of existence, which be definition must be indefinite, one can by similar argument presuppose the indefinite coherence of one’s own existence.
It is not exactly the same issue, and it is possible to claim that this assumption is not “necessary” for action, but establishing a constructible non-arbitrary ethic becomes very problematic without this principle. Since are placing faith in the principle that action paths that lead to equal results are themselves pragmatically equal, that we can treat them as equal, and if all action paths lead to one’s own non-existence, and non-existence is always the same, then all of one’s own action-paths one may choose lead to an equivalent result and thus can be treated equal. Reformulating the theory without pragmatic equivalence maybe possible, but since it becomes necessary to treat differently and separately all decisions, situations, action paths and principles that lead to the same result, a massive amount of commentary would be required.
On the search for Truth
If it was better to know no-truth then there is no knowledge one should know and by definition no specific action would follow from this ignorance, all actions would be as good as another as nothing should be known in which to weigh one action against another. Not only does truth exist, as truth not existing is a truth assertion, but it is better to know truth than not to know it, and so better to search for truth than to not search for it.
On the avoidance of suicide
One must continue to live to search for truth as we would usually conceive, but choosing death would of course reveal the truth of what happens next after death. One could then argue that choosing death in all situations is compatible with truth searching in this trivial sense.
The argument however is compatible with any action whatsoever, as any action reveals the truth of what the consequence is. Accepting this argument then is incompatible with non-arbitrariness.
Now, this does mean there are not some situations in which death is preferable and compatible with truth seeking, only that it is not preferable in all situations.
On the sacrifice of one’s life to save humanity
One specific situation in which we may ask whether death is preferable is when the alternative is the destruction of the entire planet, excepting oneself and some amenities for a time. Even the champions of greed may find difficulty arguing for this action. But again, choosing to continue to live and letting the rest of humanity perish may seem compatible with truth seeking, as one could continue to study what happened, what nature remains, continue to contemplate, etc. This argument is not the same as the suicide argument above and so does not have the same easy resolution; instead of choosing death for no justifiable reason in this case it is the opposite of choosing death for a justifiable reason. So what is the justification for choosing to die rather than the entire planet be destroyed?
Choosing to live, in a general sense, presupposes one has value, i.e. that one’s biological life is worth maintaining. If one’s own biological life has value it seems to follow that other biological lives have value. Assuming biological lives have no value, excepting oneself, seems a fairly arbitrary judgement, is it compatible with NC-NA-PE?
To answer this question presupposes one has value, the question being if other people have value. What is of fundamental value to oneself can only be one’s intentions, as all other things are independent of what one can control, as the stoics pointed out, in a fundamental sense that we can always imagine external circumstances giving rise to not-having a given thing or not-knowing a given thing; such things, if they have value, are not of oneself but elsewhere one has encountered and associated with. Indeed, even what we know we may forget, and what we have we may lose. The only thing that depends upon oneself entirely is one’s intentions, one’s fundamental effort, which may remain the same regardless of knowledge or possessions or situation.
Any such moral value is pragmatically equivalent to the same effort in others. Insofar as there are other people with as or better effort than oneself, it is preferable that oneself dies to save the rest of humanity then to let more value perish than oneself.
There are many such moral dilemma’s we may consider, but it suffices for now to resolve this extreme situation. More principles are required to resolve ever more complicated situations. The purpose of this work is not to solve every single one but to demonstrate such solutions are worth attempting to find when required.
The ends do justify the means.
The meaningful question is: What ends are justified and what means actually attain those ends?
On the preservation of life in general
If we assume humanity has some value presupposes the life upon which this value depends also has value. Though one may choose one’s own life over the life of a given creature, and accept others do the same, the existence of a species results in imperiling more people, albeit future people, than the life of a single person today. It is therefore preferable to attempt to stop, risking one’s own death, a person engaged in the significant destruction of a species, if the case is that there is no alternative.
On the sharing of knowledge
If one has learned anything from another, it is preferable to add to the body of knowledge of others than not. To maximally add to the body of knowledge presupposes the above principles of avoiding death, the destruction of humanity and the destruction of life in general.
On the unavoidability of deciding and acting
Fundamental political decision
On the question of consequences
We have established some basic principles of what is preferable and what is not, what is good and what is bad, what one should strive for or avoid, given of course faith in NC-NA-PE. If we assume good actions will lead to good on an immortal time frame we must assume bad actions lead to bad, otherwise there would be no difference between them contradicting non-arbitrariness. The power maintaining order in the universe, directly or indirectly, maintains such concequences for actions.
One cannot however assume bad consequences are absolute, unavoidable and terrible, as one then is in a pragmatic equivolent situation as a malovent God, which contradicts NA-PE as above. There must then be bad consequences but we cannot assume we can be trapped in the bad consequences which are one’s due forever. There must be a way from bad consequences to good. At the same time we cannot assume bad consequences do no exist, which we just saw contradicts non-arbitrariness. We must therefore assume there is a solution to this situation that depends on one’s intentions, which is all that fundamentally depends on oneself. We need not know the solution at this stage in the argument only that bad consequences exist but need not be suffered indefinitely with no alternative.
Part II. Political Actions
In the previous chapter some fundamental principles were decided upon. These decisions are meant to be understood as fundamental. How and why we might agree or disagree with them is a mysterious process but such explanations of our decision making process is not necessary to make decisions, in a completely analogous sense that we do not need to understand how and why we are conscious to accept that we are conscious and think and perceive, nor do we need to understand how and why there is a world at all to be in the world and interact with it. Our condition is one of making decisions, and our thinking need go no further than what determines our next actions.
Now, a more fundamental understanding of how it is possible that we make fundamental decisions, how we can live in a physical universe that seems to obey physical laws yet we have free will (something that was not “proven” but assumed to be true in the previous chapter), how existence is eternal and yet our experience is not static (i.e. if we have existed eternally in some form, then we have journeyed an infinite amount and so should, in some sense, be at the end of our journey having already experienced and understood everything we are able to) or if existence “started” at some point how then did it start and should not those conditions have been eternally present and so we arrive back at eternity, why does good and evil appear to exist if the universe is good, are perplexing questions; we do not need to consider them irrelevant, only not necessary for decision making if and when we are compelled to make one or the another.
An analogy would be waking up lost in the forest without any recollection of how you got there: it could be very useful to know how and why you woke up lost in a forest, and certainly you would try to remember anything you could, as well as look for and consider any evidence that is around, but if the answer isn’t immediately apparent it would not stop you from making a plan to survive and get found again. The evidence maybe available and it might be extremely useful to figure out how one woke up in a forest, is it haphazard chance (one was walking in the forest and had a bad fall and woke up without any memory of it) or some sinister plot (and so further traps may await and anyone you cross could be part of the ruse) or some sort of personal challenge or training exercise, would be questions that would certainly be useful to know the answer too. It would not make sense to devote all time and resources thinking about and looking for answers, but it certainly makes sense to devote some time and seriously consider any clues or memories that might appear.
There is some risk that no answers are available and you have to make the best plan you can considering essentially all contexts to the situation are possible, but such a possibility does not somehow negate searching for answers — for just as there maybe no answers and searching is futile there maybe plenty of answers and even a small search is extremely fruitful.
Likewise, thinking about the profound mystery of our existence is not useless simply because it is not strictly necessary. If answers are available they maybe very useful. Restricting oneself to minimal principles, though feasible, is not necessarily desirable; perhaps one will search and indeed conclude conceptual minimalism is desirable or perhaps not.
The reason to restrict to minimal principles in this work is because the intention here is political.
Profoundly mysterious questions can be debated essentially indefinitely and any answers one individual finds are in general not convinceable and perhaps not even communicable. We generally use the world spiritual to express the mysterious nature of these questions. For instance, if I say I am going on a spiritual journey, it would be generally understood that I have no explanation of the need of such a journey at this time, nor could express exactly what I expect the results of the journey to be and most importantly no one would assume that whatever I find on this journey I can easily copy, transfer or share with others. Compare this to if I say I am going on a journey to the market to buy some food; all the previous questions are completely obvious: I am going to get food because I and my family and perhaps others need food to eat in order to live, I expect to find food at the market and I can easily share the results of the journey with anyone I encounter until the food is all eaten and I must go get some more, if there’s already plenty of food and no need to get more the reasons for my journey could be challenged, but only practical terms. Now, of course why I want me and my family to live in the first place and why I might want to share with others and buy food rather than grow it or even steel it would start a spiritual discussion. However, insofar as people have a minimum spiritual agreement that eating makes sense, that stealing should be avoided, then the procurement of food is essentially a practical affair whether by trading for it, growing it, catching it or asking for it.
If I need help getting the food then it would behoove me to make a plan and share it with those I seek help from; since I wish to accomplish this task sooner rather than later, then making the basic reasons behind my plan both short and likely to be agreed to by my interlocutors, and the more clearly the plan follows from these basic principles, the more likely I will either meet with agreement or at least amendments to my plan that are easy to discuss to arrive at some satisfactory agreement between all involved. If on the other hand, when wanting help to get food, I approach a companion and start with the nature of eternity and my intention is only go to the logical next step of the discussion once we agree on whether existence is eternal and if so the nature of that eternity that is able to give rise to our experience, and so on and so forth in the general direction of a food finding plan, I may all starve to death before even the very first point of debate is settled.
Politics is essentially the question of the type “how we will eat” as a society, it is fundamentally practical, time is relevant and we wish to start these discussions with some minimal principles that like minded (or likewise spiritually inclined) will agree to and some coherent plan extending relatively clearly from there.
The difference with the politics between a few individuals of going to market and getting some food and the politics of whole societies’ organization of agriculture and interaction with nature is one of degrees of complexity but the process remains essentially the same as described above.
Because of this complexity, writing an entire book and going to some length to ensure each point is clear is warranted, whereas it’s unlikely anyone has ever written an entire book to make the proposal of going to market.
For, our situation is quite complicated, and in my opinion many have made the mistake of over-simplification. Though we want minimal sufficient principles to lay the foundation of clear plans, insufficient principles are in fact less useful than too many principles. For too many principles, insofar as they are still coherent, though cumbersome can nevertheless be correct and it is a relatively simple task for others to distill the essence from them, whereas insufficient principles are very unlikely to lead to a workable answer and even if by haphazard chance the answer is workable it is not a trivial task to augment the principles to be sufficient to convince anyone. And so, for these practical considerations, I have erred on the side of proposing too many principles and explanations of them than not enough, even if my ideal is the strict minimum necessary, in order to be certain myself that my proposals are workable.
To summarize this chapter, by spiritual journeys we mean here that we expect a change in ourselves, a deeper understanding that we certainly expect to lead to different decisions but we do not know those different decisions ahead of time, whereas by practical journeys we expect some change in our exterior environment. The spiritual and the practical are clearly linked, as practical goals follow from spiritual understanding. Politics is a practical question, and in this work the question is not of how to manipulate others to affect the changes we seek but rather how to cooperate with others for changes we commonly seek. And by we I do not mean a philosophical we that must by definition be true for all, but a literal we meaning myself and those that sufficiently agree with my aims; those that sufficiently disagree with my aims may wish to cooperate with others for contrary aims or simply avoid any cooperation with anyone and that there are such different groups possible makes conflict with them exceedingly likely. Make no mistake, accomplishing our objectives implies the destruction of the capacity to effectively act of those with contrary objectives; it is war, and may come to blows.
This chapter, like the mysterious questions themselves, is not necessary to understand this work, but I feel it is important to make clear that a minimal practicalism is not what is proposed in this work. Minimal sufficient principles is a practical measure for organization of groups due to the diversity of spiritual experience and diversity of expression of perhaps similar experiences, but such a practical focus in politics should not be mistaken as a personal ideal. For spiritual answers may indeed by available and very useful, to decide that it is strength to consciously ignore all such questions maybe foolish. Most importantly, we may ask what is the point of organizing society in a reasonable way? What might we answer: beyond reduction of suffering and seeking justice for those harmed by our current political structures (or absence of them), ultimately, by organizing our practical affairs better we will have more time and energy for our spiritual uplifting. That the small caveat of “justice” seems unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, if we forget the objective there is ultimately no coherent plan possible.
Chapter 3: Confusions
In the first chapter, if successful, a completable and coherent ethic was laid out.
In the second chapter I make the simple case that a certain minimalism is desirable in making political proposals. The aim of politics is achieve one’s objectives by interacting with others, and if one seeks honest cooperation then a clear and concise plan is simply expedient.
I think few people would criticize this basic point, but I expect many to make the criticism that I have not been minimal enough. For instance, assuming the immortality of the soul and a fundamental order to existence some may find radically absolutist, outright foolish, or simply irrelevant to political discourse where we strive to solve “real problems”.
This view that fundamental philosophical issues are irrelevant to politics is firmly misguided for two reasons. It essentially assumes people’s actions are disconnected from their profound reflections, and if this is true then essentially no profound changes are possible; though since we cannot actually prove what people are thinking I will not develop this further. The strictly formal problem with this view is that it assumes “problems” are simply given and we all agree what they are and so just have to stop talking and get to solving them. The fallacy here is projecting one’s beliefs on to “everybody” and once this fails (for obvious reasons), “everybody I know” and finally “all reasonable people” (i.e. my beliefs are true because I approve of the people who agree with me).
If one abandons cheap ways of supporting one’s beliefs, then after relatively little reflection it’s clear the deep questions must be answered in order to argue for the beliefs one already has or to then find new ones.
Now, disagreement on fundamental issues does not exclude cooperation, but since political proposals result from one’s ethics it follows one’s ethic are necessary to explain the proposal. People who disagree on fundamental issues may agree on certain politics; this is happy chance (or a result of the assumption that people are generally good actually being true), but again using this to then trivialize the profound beliefs from which these political agreements arise is a mistake.
Ignoring or trivializing the profound results in a cascade of problems in political discourse. First, it becomes difficult to cooperate on the agreed political goals because we do not really understand others and so small conflicts will accumulate. Second, focusing on conditioning the behavioural outcomes desired by the political objectives, especially in educating the youth, rather than the profound reasons these political outcomes are desirable (with all the philosophical nuance and risk of criticism such discussion entail) then people are likely to not see the reasons and explore alternatives, which are often fools errands or dangerous delusions (failing to transmit intellectual inheritance is as big a disservice to the next generation as any other excepting living ecosystems). Ultimately, political words lose their meaning as they require an ethical framework in which to have meaning and even when problems are identified adequate proposals are no longer able to be understood.
The above is not a hypothetical danger but a process that has actually happened. For instance, the dangers of ecological collapse have been known now for decades but we have accelerated towards rather than move away from destruction. Few people claim to benefit from ecological collapse, and many agree preserving nature, at least a bit, is a political objective. How this is compatible with assuming people are good we will deal with in the next chapter.
In this chapter it is necessary to scrutinize the limits of scientific knowledge in order to show in a positive sense that the profound philosophic questions really aren’t trivial (which would be the case if science equaled knowable truth).
There are many successful scientific theories, and the scientific method is efficient at discovering the knowledge within it’s purview. If one doubts legitimate proven science one can go and see for oneself that it is true.
However, since proven science is such powerful evidence, as anyone can verify it, it would be very expedient to be able extend science as evidence to support one’s non-scientific beliefs and one’s goals.
Goals are by definition not scientifically supportable, but this does not stop many from trying. In particular economists often claim that economic policy, both the goals and the objectives, should be left to experts such as themselves. In so saying or implying they are simply incompetent scientists and their entire work should be ignored. Those economists that are aware of this issue but enable politicians or their profession as a whole to make such claims are simply cowards. Of course, there are plenty of empirical facts to discover about economics, but this cannot in and of itself inform policy.
We can observe that society’s tend to want to produce things efficiently and many society’s today tend to produce as much things as possible and these society’s elites (i.e. other people trained in economics they consider valid) tend to view producing as much as possible a good thing. We cannot however go from observing these tendencies to concluding these are worthwhile objectives. For instance, if mass murders are tending to go up then economists employing the same logic would conclude mass murders are a worthwhile objective.
Psychology is another confused science as practiced today. Again there are many empirical facts about the brain and people to discover, but there are two major problems.
First, most uses of psychology are manipulative. The roll of psychologists in scientific society is to make people be normal. If people are willing to use psychology to make themselves normal then it is self manipulation, which is a logical impossibility; any reasoning that is self-manipulative quickly goes in circles or goes nowhere at all. If people are unwilling then they must be coerced; given inputs to get the desired output behaviour, usually psychoactive drugs.
The second problem is that there is no scientific experiment proving anyone is conscious. Whenever a psychologist uses terms like “state of mind”, “theory of mind”, “feelings”, “emotions”, “perceptions” or any quality of a conscious state, this is not science. There is no experiment to show these things exist. These words can only be used in a scientific sense when referring to utterances of people; a psychologist can observe someone saying “I feel sad or happy” and also correlate these utterances to behavior and neural activity without postulating the existence of a consciousness with internal experience; this is valid science: as there is no scientific experiment that shows oneself or anyone else is conscious. However, insofar as people are conscious, then a purely scientific account of psychology is fairly remote and may contain the scientific evidence that actually exists on various topics but may not “connect with what people are feeling”; a psychology that talks about consciousness is a better product in our economy, but it is not science.
How to make psychology a real science is well known. However, in so doing lot’s of knowledge that people find useful must be thrown out, so psychologists that are aware of the issues often say “this isn’t really science but people find it useful”. To understand what’s going on we must address the larger issues which is simply science is a subset of empirical knowledge, and empirical knowledge a subset of all knowledge. This is a well known fact; for instance historians have been very active in making it clear that many history cannot be resolved by experiment; our knowledge of history is empirical but not scientific. Though there are uses of science in history (carbon dating, digging for things, etc.) most historical theories rest on written accounts that are often supported by the phase “there’s no reason to assume the person is lying”; there is no experiment today that shows a person is lying, and certainly none that can do so in the past. Another non-scientific pillar of many historical theories is empathy with people of the past but in and of itself as well as projecting our own culture backwards into the past, imagining how these cultural things came to be. What people really felt in the past and whether any written record is trustworthy are not scientifically resolvable. Now, we can take a purely scientific approach and simply caveat everything with “assuming this person isn’t lying, and assuming we can actually interpret what they seem to be saying, certainly not what they’re feeling which may not even exist at all, none of which can ever be resolved scientifically, then maybe these events told by these other people with the same caveat unfolded for such reasons; most importantly there’s no story or narrative here, just things presumably happened”, but again, as with psychology a purely scientific approach misses a lot of the value in our understanding of history.
This non-scienceness of history also applies to our own personal histories. Most of our memories are beyond science, as no experiment can ever independently prove much of what we’ve experienced actually happened (much less prove our experience of it), yet it is not unreasonable to assume they are true (as with written accounts of the past “insofar as we have no reason to assume they are false”).
Whereas it is generally known within the credible sciences that science is a subset of exterior facts, what scientists and philosophers as a whole have failed to do is clearly distinguish the dividing line and more importantly create a framework to understand other empirical knowledge.
The “extras” that adds value to psychology and history, we can call conceptual empiricism. We form concepts that are informed by our senses, and these concepts are very valuable to us even if we cannot prove them scientifically. For instance, many theories about psychological structure or historical narratives have little basis in science, but are useful concepts to have; even if we keep hold reservations, in particular that they are oversimplifications, they remain useful to us in understanding other situations (which we are likewise obliged to oversimplify in order to make decisions).
Another category of empirical knowledge is empathy. For instance, we think about other people’s feelings based on what they say and do and we assume their feelings are like our feelings for similar behaviour, likewise we think about what it was like in past society’s based on what it’s like to live in our society; i.e. we empathize even if there is no experiment to show what our own feelings actually are and much less that we are justified in assuming others feel similar things.
Likewise, our intuition about a situation may not be verifiable but can be accurate.
Concepts, empathy and intuition, are categories of knowledge that we have words for and the utility of them is obvious to many people. On a formal setting, it is quite easy to neatly divide these categories of knowledge and accept that science is provable and the latter we can accept are not provable though we can still discuss and come to an agreement or “agree to disagree”.
The problem arises in these latter categories if we forget conceptual understanding is simplification of reality and that our empathy and intuitions can be wrong.
Where this becomes extremely hazardous is when science is invoked to “prove” things in these other categories, by misguided scientists and non-scientists alike.
To extricate from such confusions as well as disingenuous science (i.e. straight lies), which we’ll get to in a moment, I believed an fairly unrecognized empirical category needs to first to be appreciated.
Cowardly false scientists, love to dismiss people’s criticism of their policy recommendations as non-expert opinion and dismiss people’s negative experiences with their policies put into practice as “anecdotal” and to thus trivialize. Of course, anecdotal evidence cannot by definition be trivial as aggregate evidence is simply a collection of anecdotes. However, what policy maker mean when they say “it’s only anecdotal evidence” is “we will do everything in our power to make sure these anecdotes aren’t properly collected, scrutinized and interpreted statistically”; a great flaw of most political institutions today is that the policy makers of a field generally control most of financing investigating that field and so can obstruct any real investigation into likely consequences of the policy after it is implemented (and certainly not before).
A recent example of this is genetically engineered food. The reasoning to not do any safety tests was that “genetically engineered food will be similar to existing food and so requires no safety testing”. By this reasoning everything made of matter is safe. This statement by the USA’s FDA is the most anti-scientific thing that can be said about the subject: we won’t attempt to verify our beliefs about the consequences of genetic engineered food using science. And yet, these policy makers will label the people wanting legitimate research and risk analysis as “anti-science”. We are forced to conclude that though we assume people are generally good, we must also assume some people are evil.
If we confine ourselves to “believing only scientifically verified things” then we are easy victim, often eager enablers, to the above sorts of ploys by evil policy makers. Though we may intuit something is wrong, we can in these sorts of cases of anecdotes (for instance, that genetically engineered food tastes worse and fakes you feel bad) come to a more precise description for this kind of knowledge, which we can call “systems experience”.
By interacting with systems we are able to relatively quickly identify patterns. Though when faced with truly random information we tend to identify patterns where there is none, this does not somehow discredit our ability to identify patterns in non-random systems. The systems we humans make to manage things are very not-random. Any non-laboratory system, that persists in time and has many parts, requires are a core structural support. Without a core structure a system will dissolve into the surroundings. For instance, create a shelter with some leaves and branches and this structure will, left unattended, rapidly revert back to normal forest; a concrete building will last much longer. Another way of understanding policy is by the structure put into place that increases the probability of the desired outcomes. Whereas a dwelling is a structure of material, policy is a structure of social beliefs. Police enforce the law because the law is within their beliefs and they also belief they should enforce it. If police officers do not know what the law is and / or has no desire to enforce it then the policy that is the law is not in a effect. One limit of policy outcomes are essentially the limits of belief of society. For policy to be in effected, tools are also needed. If a police officers have no transportation, no weapons, no handcuffs, no dispatch, no police station, no bureaucrats to keep things functioning, then regardless of beliefs there will be no ability to enforce the policy that is the law.
Policy implementation is therefore the creation of a structure composed of beliefs and tools. This structure then interacts with society forming a dynamic system. Dynamic systems that persist have constrained variables. A system that persists by definitions repeats patterns (without pattern repetition we have no idea the system has persisted). By experiencing some of the variables of a system directly it becomes mathematically feasible to deduce many other variables. Therefore, the patterns we experience ourselves in a system we are legitimate in inferring they repeat elsewhere. Now with a single event we cannot have any idea of the frequency, but because of constrained variables and pattern repetition if we experience the same pattern more than once we can rapidly create reasonable bounds on these events. A classic example is quality of service. If we have a bad experience with a service once, it maybe just someone having a bad day and we can’t really infer anything, but if it continues in different context or for different reasons we quickly infer the company has poor customer service, and yet there maybe millions of customer interactions and ones own experience a very small subset. Before coming to a definite conclusion we check to see if others have similar experience and are not at all surprised when the same frustrations have been lived many times and the company has a bad customer or citizen service reputation. Likewise when we have a few good experiences with a service we aren’t surprised when others report likewise and there is a good reputation.
Moreover, not only are we able to quickly infer the bad service pattern to the frequency implied by our experience, but we can also within the details of these experiences pick up on a larger pattern of bad service in society as a whole; based on previous experiences of bad service we are able to see patterns re-emerge in the new experience.
Mathematically, when variables are constrained, patterns persist, coming to such conclusions with limited data is completely well founded from a formal point of view.
Indeed, all physics is based on this system experience. Only a vanishingly small fractions of particles in the universe have been scrutinized by physicists, and yet the inference that all particles behave the same way is completely legitimate: the reason is we live in a system with persistent patterns such as stars and galaxies all over the sky; the patterns are very regular and therefore the variables very constrained. If we saw totally different things in all directions and place to place here on earth we would not conclude all particles behave the same in the observable universe.
This systems experience knowledge is not only the foundation of modern science itself but is the only protection against abuse of scientific institutions.
Another category of non-scientific empirical knowledge is risk analysis. The concept of risk does not formally exist as what our goals should be cannot be verified by any experiment (we can of course observe what other people report to be there goals and analysis that data). In order to evaluate risk we require an ethical theory and many of the above conceptual knowledge, such as a conceptual framework about the situation and context, level of confidence in memories and trustworthiness of others, as well as any relevant scientific findings. We must imagine possible outcomes, evaluate the likelihood, and evaluate the acceptability of different outcomes relative our ethics. Though risk analysis seems at first something that, once the objectives are assumed, can be formally mapped out with precise probabilities and evaluations of everything; unfortunately, there is no such rationally satisfying solutions in practice as carrying out more risk analysis is itself a risk that time is being wasted, and in turn trying to precisely determine the optimum balance between analysis and time. And so all risk analysis must be truncated by intuition that it is “the right moment to act” which can be based on no formal proof, as actions are carried out the risk model can be updated. We can of course create formalized models of how people would carry out risk analysis given the time (and in some cases this time is available) as well as create formal models to represent how people are evaluating risks intuitively in pressing situations.
Now, these empirical kinds of knowledge other than science could be criticized as “not real knowledge”, as simply unverifiable statements that there is no reason to accept or reject. If we view ourselves disembodied observers that do not interact with the world, then such an “agnostic on everything” view would be entirely acceptable. However, if we do interact with the world then an “until further evidence” position is simply unworkable. The clearest example is with personal memories. One does not have scientific proof that any of one’s memories actually happened, and so if one restricted oneself only to believing scientific proofs then every morning one would have to wake up and doubt all previous memories until proven by experiment that they are real and accurate. Not only is any such experiment for nearly all memories impossible to carry out, but even where it is feasible to do it would immediately become a memory as doubtful as all the others. This is a well known philosophical problem and some have attempted to solve it through probabilities, but again any conceptual structure that is invented to assign probabilities to these sorts of things is also not scientifically verifiable; it simply replaces a direct trust in memories with a trust in a conceptual framework about memories and so sounds more scientific, as trust means essentially faith whereas probability comes from mathematics, but to actually fill in the probability framework with content faith in some non-scientific knowledge is necessary (such as having build the probability framework correctly, and enough facts about the world to start evaluating other facts). Now, probabilities are important, many memories we don’t quite remember and others may give us wrong impressions and legitimate science can help inform us how to reason about memories with psychological facts, but this does not displace the these non-scientific categories of knowledge but only represents that different kinds of knowledge are complimentary. In other words, since we must make decisions we must decide that we know certain things about the world without proof, such as our memories, other people are conscious, the context I find myself in is the result of historical events that are understandable, patterns I see in systems I’m in etc. In a formal sense we can simply name these things assumptions, but functionally they are no different from knowledge; the doubts we can cast on memories and conceptual structures we can also cast on mathematical and scientific knowledge (as these things must also be remembered), and we can use the word knowledge not indicate that there is no possible doubts about the assumption but rather only that we have no experience in mind that would invert that assumption. Whereas when we say we assume something we indicate that it’s entirely possible some experience contradicts that assumption and we accept it’s wrong. Now, if we are challenged philosophically we can imagine experiences that would challenge our “knowledge”, but all such experiences would collapse all our knowledge. What we call knowledge is not “proven” in the sense that there is no room for doubt, but rather all our knowledge forms a network where finding we are wrong about something results in crisis of various degrees. For instance, finding out somehow all my memories were invented by nefarious actors on some alien planet would not result in “yeah sure, assumptions duly updated” whereas if we assume the store closes at 8 and we get there and it had closed at 7 there is simply an updating of assumptions and no crisis. To simplify, we act on both assumptions and knowledge, but assumptions we can discover are wrong without creating doubts in our basis of knowledge whereas anything we are very confident is something we know proliferates doubts on all associated pieces of knowledge, perhaps all our knowledge. Now the line is not clearly drawn between assumptions and knowledge, there is rather a spectrum between the two. For instance, when we learn some mathematical principle for the first time we categorize it as an assumption, as we may not have understood it correctly and discovering so would not challenge the rest of our knowledge, but once we have been applying some mathematical principle for decades to discover our understanding is completely wrong would challenge not just all our mathematical knowledge but our basic ability to reason.
What we consider certain knowledge we can philosophically doubt but we do not practically doubt (we do not carry out any actions to try to confirm this knowledge), whereas assumptions we practically doubt and we will, if we are wise, build into our plans a balance between acting on our assumptions and trying to verify those assumptions are actually correct. For instance, if we assume the guide who is confident they know how to survive in the forest is telling the truth, we will nevertheless try to confirm with what knowledge, however little, we have about the forest and survival if this claim is credible or not. Saying “I know how to survive in the forest” is very different than saying “I assume I can survive in the forest”, and all else being equal if we are planning to choose a guide through the forest we would prefer the former claim to the latter.
As an example of a crisis of knowledge, I once drowned in a dream and after a lot of panic simply did not die but could stand up and breath and walk under water. My immediate conclusion was an incredible surprise that humans had been wrong about our ability to breath under water for our entire history and that all drowning was in fact a psychosomatic illness, and so this belief that we couldn’t breath under water not only resulted in plenty of needless tragedy but was amazing practical loss of everything we could have achieved underwater. Now, if I didn’t then discover a door and the adventure continue I may have then been lead to reflect on what else humanity was wrong about, maybe everything! Then when I awoke this new knowledge basis that we can breath underwater experienced in turn a crisis, I discarded everything I had learnt in the dream and went back to “knowing we cannot breath underwater”.
Why all this is important is though our intentions result from our ethics, as discussed in chapter one, and we then make plans to carry out our intentions based on all our empirical knowledge which includes many categories only one of which is scientific.
If we confuse these categories of empirical knowledge communication and so cooperation becomes difficult. In particular today, there are many attempt to reduce other categories of knowledge to science. A typical example is trying to support a belief with a study that people who believe or act similarly “report increase happiness”.
Reports of happiness are valid scientific data (if the study is carried out honestly, it may very well be the case these people are reporting they are happier), but this does not resolve anything. First, though we can accept people who do or believe A report they are happier, but there is no way to differentiate whether this is “genuine” happiness or some sort of “fake happiness” or they are being deceptive and “reporting they are happy, because they want to believe their belief or action makes them happy, but they really know they are not happy”. That there is know way to know if people are reporting what they actually believe or not is a well known problem in polling, and there is no way to resolve this issue scientifically as all we can do is carry out more polling; if people are confused about their own beliefs then there is no way they can know and report they are confused (for instance, that they truly believe they are happy when asked but really not the rest of the time), and of course in the case of deception “are you lying” is not a question that creates useful data to resolve the issue. So, although reports people make about their beliefs can be valid scientific data, we really did observe people reporting so, it does not actually resolve what people believe. So already, without going further studies of what makes people happy or not does not resolve anything.
And of course we can go much further, as whether happiness in the sense of these goals is debatable. For instance, even if we accept that people who believe A do have some higher degree of happiness than the average, it maybe the case that believing A is an obstacle to even higher happiness. It maybe the case that believing A does indeed provide a bit more happiness than the average, and seeing this increase above the average people who believe A see this as validation of the belief and so avoid any critical thinking about the belief. Indeed, perhaps people who belief they should avoid critical thinking about their beliefs are happier than the average, as engaging in critical thinking (having never done it before) essentially immediately results in discovering contradictions and unsupported beliefs that one previously assumed were true, and since critical thinking only uncovers problems but does not produce solutions, and, assuming discovering beliefs are contradictory or unsupportable is at the least uncomfortable (of needing to rethink things as well as realization all actions based on these beliefs may have been at best wasted time and at worst harmful) and likewise assuming people form habits and changing habits is also at least discomfortabe (or else they would be trivial to change and not be habits), then the critical thinking process results in the minimum discomfort of the critical thinking process itself and then continued discomfort of continuing habitually act on these beliefs now known to be wrong. Therefore, it maybe the case that people who decide to deepen their critical thinking skills report lower happiness compared to those who eschew critical thinking about their beliefs as much as possible. However, once someone has earnestly engaged in critical thinking as well as engaged in creative thinking, reading and discussions that might solve the problems revealed by critical reviews so far, such people may be much happier than the people who avoid critical thinking in the first place. However, their self-reporting of happiness maybe the same, or the people who have thought critically realize there is a much larger spectrum of happiness than they previously assumed before critical thinking, so they report themselves to be less happy (such as “fairly happy” when they are in fact “more than fairly happy” on the true happiness spectrum) than people who avoid critical thinking (who report being “really happy” when they are in reality only “kind of happy”). There is of course no experiment to resolve where people really are on the happiness spectrum even assuming they are not deluded about the issue, and so it could be that being much happier than everyone else results in reporting less happiness than everyone else, reporting mere contentment when that is in fact as happy as one can get on earth. It maybe that “real happiness” cannot be attained as long as others are suffering, but encountering suffering is not avoidable and so fully accepting it is the only way to be as happy as is possible though resulting in such people not reporting “they are as happy as possible” because clearly they could be happier if there was less suffering in the world, whereas someone who simply ignores suffering of others as much as possible can genuinely conclude they are as happy as possible.
So we have significant problems trying to act based on scientific studies of what people report makes them happy and that is assuming it is a valid decision process to begin with. We can of course simply dismiss this sort of decision basis entirely; one may have a different ethic other than the pursuit of what people refer to as feeling happy. For instance, in the search for truth ethic outlined in the first chapter, searching for truth is the decision process and finding truth maybe arduous and whether it results in more feelings of happiness than trying to remain as foolish as possible is irrelevant, happiness is not the goal but searching for truth
Moreover, the assumption that seeking to be happy is a
This subject of kinds of knowledge is im***
We have posited an ethic, outlined our goal of a certain kind of minimalism, identified non-scientific categories of empirical knowledge that are required to make decisions.
Before actually getting into the political proposal oft mentioned so far, it is suitable to deal with notable criticism.
The problem evil
If God is benevolent and all powerful, evil cannot exist, evil does exist and therefore there is no God.
In the first chapter we posited a fundamental and benevolent order to the universe, which can called God if one so chooses. Whatever the name, the above problem of evil can be levied against our claim of benevolence.
The first problem with the proponents of the problem of evil excluding omnipotent-benevolence is that we cannot actually be certain evil actually exists. For instance, if I look at my own life, the positive outweighs the negatives and I’m happy to be alive. Now, I can certainly imagine this is not the case for some people I assume like me are conscious; however, I can only imagine this I can not know it is the case. If we take the problem of evil at face value, an omnipotent being could simply populate the world with conscious beings and unconscious representations and ensure (via omnipotence) that “truly bad things resulting in more negatives than positives” only happen to representations for the benefit of conscious people (to better contemplate morality and become better people). With omnipotence there are simple essentially mechanical solutions to the problem of evil, and so for this “evil excludes benevolent God” argument simply doesn’t work as we simply lack enough knowledge to conclude what appears to be evil is truly evil.
To give an example, imagine if a professor teaching a philosophy class on various moral problems. To make the problems more interesting he makes films about them depicting self-sacrifice and triage problems in war, the trolley problems, hostage dilemmas etc. At the end of the class everyone’s learned more with concrete examples to discuss and really pleased with the professors effort. Now the professor asks whether any of the people depicted in the scenes actually died. Some students may point out that we can see people breathing after they “died” and that a lot of the actors are other students they’ve seen since etc. However, if the professor has enough “film power”, using actors from far away and the best special effects, then there would be simply no way for the students to know if anyone died or not. If they have other reasons to believe the professor is a sadistic maniac, then serious doubts would grow and what was at first experienced as an edifying and lively class is suddenly participation in a sick and demented game of the professor and the students face a new moral dilemma, but if the students view the professors as a nice happy-go-lucky charming fellow they are likely to dismiss the idea he actually killed people however realistic the films are and it’s just another edifying moral question to ask. With enough power there is no way to know the true nature of the film, whether it is an evil product costing many lives or a good educational masterpiece; the only thing that can be evaluated is the intentions of the professor. If we believe the professor is good then we will conclude, given the power she wields, the product is good. If we believe the professor is evil then again, given the power she wields, we will conclude the product is evil.
Now, whether only “truly bad experiences that result in existence not worth-while” happen to unconscious representations, is not what is being argued here: what’s being argued here is there’s no way to conclude this either way, but for the problem of evil to work this possibility must be excluded; it’s not excluded and therefore the appearance of evil in the world does not exlcude an omnipotent and benevolent God.
There are other potential solutions to the problem of evil, but usually imply the existence of a spiritually transcendent perspective that is personal and is useful as a basis of argument for others and though I encourage people to transcend spiritually to whatever level is both true and attainable it is better for this work to stick to the above argument which utilizes only practical terms and is the simplest: using omnipotence, God arranges the world to only ever appear for evil to occur for educational reasons but never allows true evil to be actually be experienced by simply populating the world with conscious and unconscious beings or turning off or changing peoples consciousness while otherwise experiencing true evil resulting in bearable memories afterwards.
Now, for the purposes of this work, it is important to stress that the solution of the problem of evil contradicting omnipotent benevolence, does not somehow mean there’s no reason to deal with what we perceive as evil, whether it is true evil or not. With the example of the students, if they are asked to say what decisions they would make in any of the example situations of the film, they could simply get up and leave. The situations we are in are not hypothetical, whether some elements are not what they seem (there are no “things in themselves” behind certain appearances that we imagine are there), has no baring on needing to deal with these situations. For instance, when I am dreaming I deal with the situations in the dream, sometimes very weighty situations with strong emotions, the fact that I wake up and realize it was all appearances and no “things in themselves” does not retro-actively make my attempt to deal with the situations in the dream a mistake to begin with: I did not know it was a dream and therefore the decision act as if it was reality was the correct course. In some cases I am very relieved it was only a dream but I do not kick myself for having believed it was reality — we must deal with what we perceive as best we can, regardless of epistemological possibilities.
The epistemological possibilities are only useful to consider in forming the foundation of our ethical premises, for our ethics must strive to deal with all possible situations and series of situations we might perceive, and an epistemological context is needed to create such a moral foundation. For instance, if we cease existing or are eternal not is a relevant epistemological question as it may change our ethical principles and spiritual journey, likewise a benevolent or malevolent universe also changes decisions and outlooks. However, resolving whether what appears to us to really have it’s own nature or only an appearance such as in a dream, does not change our ethical principles. Perhaps what I call “normal life” is also a century long dream and when I wake up it is completely natural to realize it was just a dream and start my century day, reflecting on my dream it maybe completely normal that I have daily dreams within my overall dreams as just like dreaming is useful to my mental growth so is dreaming within my dream. Just as in my daily dreams I find it completely reasonable to have acted like it was reality, it is likewise completely natural to have acted in my century long dream as if it was reality.
Since we can not know what is truly behind appearances we can make up all sorts of speculations about what really produces what we perceive, no such theory has any evidence (as we can never know the things in themselves) nor changes the reasonableness to make decisions based on our ethical principles and the situations as we understand them to be. Such theories are fanciful to imagine but accomplish nothing, except for reminding proponents of the problem of evil that they must find a way to exclude every single epistemological theory that allows for evil only to appear to exist while not really existing (normal life being a dream and no true evil exists when I wake up would be another possibility to exclude along with people who experience bad things simply not being conscious, and we can go essentially indefinitely on theories of this kind). The problem of evil excluding God position is an argument from a lack of imagination rather than any serious philosophical contemplation; if the argument grants God omnipotent powers than there are many ways to solve problems we have little experience with. Also of note, the problem of evil is not a logical problem such as “God making and then moving an unmovable rock” (which can solve by either redefining omnipotence to be self-consistent omnipotence), but a practical problem: the problem of evil is fundamentally the experience of evil and managing the existence of these experiences can be reduced to a simple practical matter for an self-consistent omnipotent being.
If people are good why are things messed up
Now, the above argument on the problem of evil is only to establish that a considerable amount of work would be required to exclude the existence of a benevolent and omnipotent God based on the appearance of evil.
In our daily lives, if we have an ethic similar in nature to the first chapter, we must simply accept evil exists and must be dealt with, people do evil things and if the evil is understood to be evil and intentional then such people are simply evil for all intents and purposes. In otherwords, we must deal with evil people in terms of the decisions we make regardless of the ultimate spiritual meaning. We do not assume anywhere in this book that evil people simply relative our ethic don’t exist.
But we’ve also assumed that people are fundamentally good on the whole. This assumption is the direct foundation of the political proposition of this work, resulting in conclusions like participatory democracy is a good thing and a purely punitive system of incentives without no reliance on goodwill unnecessary (and impossible) to implement.
However, why then is the world so messed up? The large amount of social problems in the world contradict the premise people are fundamentally good; for, if they are, then only good political structures would have been. Ecological destruction, wars, famine, poverty, structural and individual violence, rampant addictive marketing, etc. are all major problems in the world that it seems very clear “good people” would have dealt with long ago.
As argued in the first chapter and expanded in the next chapter, the fundamental reason is that assuming people on the whole are evil results in no viable solutions to political problems.
And indeed, this may really be the case and our actions are essentially in vain, but there is no way to prove people on the whole are evil so we assume otherwise if one option leads to no solutions and the other options leads to solutions.
It is therefore useful to have an idea of history where bad situations arise despite people being fundamentally good on the whole. This idea of history is essentially involves 2 key elements: unintended consequences (people had good intentions but didn’t realize the problems that would arise), and temporary disproportional evil power accumulation. Both problems are solved by learning.
By putting in place a system with unintended consequences we inevitably learn the consequences and if they were unintentional we strive to correct the situation.
Evil people can attain disproportionate amounts of power relative to good people, again usually through the ignorance of good people. Fundamentally this is really the result of the first problem of unintended consequences of people putting in place a political system that allows evil people to seize all or most of the power. And likewise the solution is the same, we learn these political systems are flawed and we strive to build new systems that cannot so easily be hijacked. This learning process has resulted in participatory direct democracy as an unhijackable system, but is not simply a voting mechanism it depends on the beliefs of the people; for instance, if enough people in a society believe the benefits of authoritariansm outweigh the risks of corrupt incompetence, outright evil or insane people running the show, then a general could carry out a coup with the support of the military and police or a politician simply get people to vote in dictatorship; however, if the expected benefits of this dictatorship do not materialize over time people will learn there was an unintended consequence of their or their fore-bearers decisions and strive to solve the problem.
These processes of learning can be very long, even thousands of years, and we cannot predict the outcomes. The only way to verify that there is no good outcome is to try to achieve a good outcome and fail. Therefore, whatever may seem to be the case of our chances does not effect our actions. Guarantees of outcomes cannot be basis for actions as guarantees are essentially impossible and trying to attain the good result is independent of probability of outcomes.
The assumption that people are fundamentally good is not to conclude that we are thus likely to succeed in making the world a better place. Rather, if we wish to make the world a better place and we require affecting political structure to do so, we must assume people are fundamentally good in order to make political decisions. Perhaps we are nevertheless likely to fail, we cannot know, but we can in all cases make the best plan we are able to come up with.
Of course, it is very difficult to invent the best plan and also difficult to agree that it is the best plan, however, given the best plan to achieve an objective the reasons to follow it are independent of probabilities. If we decide achieving A is necessary consequence of our ethic and we are certain plan B has the best chances of succeeding then it follows we will implement plan B; it’s chance of success maybe 90% or 1% or even smaller, it doesn’t matter: there is no better plan; if there was reason to do something else that other thing would be the better plan. There are plenty of situations where it is good to abandon the objective, but if we look closer it is always because there are larger objectives and pursuit of the smaller objective in question has become counter productive; in other words, deciding we have failed in an objective and no further effort is warranted is only justifiable with respect to other more important objectives; even the best plan can have elements that fail, are reconsidered, or even the entire plan fail: failure does not change the fact that they were the best decisions at the time. Again, what are the best decisions is very difficult to figure out, but that the best decisions should be carried out once they are found is a tautological truth.
Knowledge to action
Now, the astute observer has certainly realized that I have defined knowledge in functional way as that which is assumed in making decisions. Now, we also “know” that what we know can be wrong, however, these doubted elements of our reasons for a particular decision are still closer to knowledge than pure speculation since if dig a little deeper we are actually have “good reasons to assume this or that, or good reasons to just guess”; whatever we can label as “a doubted assumption” can always be reformulated as a probabilistic decision based on what we consider certainties. Why the decision making process seems full of doubt is because we do not review what we consider certainties. For instance, if I am considering telling my parents some weighty information, I do not spend time reflecting on how to get to my parents to tell them something, whether they really are my parents or not, whether they can understand my language to begin with, whether I am human and so have parents, etc. If I have I no reason to doubt these things (or more importantly, any such doubts have no relevance to the decision I am making) I do not spend any time thinking about them but spend nearly my whole time considering the moral and practical implications of my decision. Nearly all the assumptions that go into a given decision I simply base off as certain (I could be wrong about some of these certainties, but I am equally certain that I am unable to review them all adequately for each decision so must be resigned to “being surprised” to discover a mistake when it is eventually revealed by unexpected information and events or sudden realization that I made some deductive mistake).
What we call empirical knowledge can be held in doubt and viewed simply as an agreeable speculation among many, but the necessity of action forces us from such flights of imagination to what we normally call the real world and to deal with what we really think we know about it; that we can imagine others legitimately speculating whether we are correct in any of our assumptions or not does not change any decisions we make; in otherworld, knowledge are those assumptions upon which doubt has no longer has effect on our decision making: we do not view the doubt sufficient to justify creating a plan to confirm further the validity of our assumption (more precisely, the combination of doubt and importance of other assumptions we are less certain about crowds has crowded out verifying further the assumptions we consider certain).
Of course that we have a limited amount of verficiation that can be included in the plans we make, as if all action was dedicated to verification of assumptions we would never move onto actually attaining the goal the assumptions claim to support attaining, this does not support any given assumption. I.e. the above account of knowledge does not justify any given persons assumption. For, if you have a legitimate reason for someone to doubt one of their assumptions (i.e. a combination of sufficient doubt and practical consequences of the assumptions turning out to be wrong), then they have by definition received a legitimate reason to doubt one of their assumptions. No given assumption is protected by this formulation of knowledge only that we have to go on what “we know as a whole” in order to have a basis for action (and more importantly a basis to evaluate any given assumption more closely to either validate further or question even more; that we “know things” is simply a consequence of being unable to carry out the previous operation simultaneously to all our assumptions: we must know things in order to question any particular thing we think we know). We can of course doubt whether we have sufficient true knowledge to make our doubting fruitful, but we cannot by definition have any knowledge of this kind nor act on it even if we thought we had such knowledge: it is impossible to simply discard all of our knowledge and start a fresh; we can only discard until what remains we are quite certain of, discarding everything is simply impossible to begin with (as far as I know).
The previous chapter dealt with different kinds of empirical knowledge. All the kinds of empirical knowledge can be communicated in some way, as empirical knowledge is about the exterior world of sense and so some knowledge about it must have some effect on senses at some point and so describable in some way. For instance, I may have a strong intuition about A, I may not be able to explain where the intuition came from what it is like to experience such an intuition, but if the intuition relates to the world of sense then I can describe in some way the consequences if the intuition is true or not. Even vague feelings can be described with vague examples.
I have focused a lot on knowledge because actions follow from knowledge and political actions even more so. Whereas we can act in a purely creative way, employing knowledge in the execution of the endeavor, but not deriving the content from empirical knowledge, such creations may speak to one and not the other; we may agree that politically we should strive to support and nourish creative endeavors this does make us agree that any particular artistic piece is “good”. If you want me to hang a certain painting on the wall and I don’t like it, insofar as there is not some practical purpose of the painting in the context, there is no empirical knowledge of any kind to appeal to in order to convince me the painting is good and should be on my wall. Insofar as the artist is expressing emotions there is no way to “know” whether these emotions were “really painted” as far as I am concerned (perhaps it evokes the intended emotions in others by not myself), though we can explain why paintings to in fact evoke emotions we can only know about general cultural themes and possibly some instinctual themes but we cannot know if any particular individual has actually learned or instinctively feels a given theme in a given work: they either “feel it” or the don’t. Furthermore, future events will not reveal whether the painting “really does evoke the intended emotions or not”; maybe I will grow to like the painting over time but because it evokes entirely different emotions that I happen to appreciate but completely unintended by the creator. Some decisions are purely intuitive with respect to things of an intuitive nature and so knowledge does not resolve the issue; there is no empirical “if true” statement that will make me conclude the painting is really good and I really like the painting and I want to hang it on my wall.
Political decisions are not of this type. If we are affecting the organization of society (which can include room for plenty of creative endeavors) we want to “know” our actions are effective and justifiable”. We also have an empirical idea of success; we can envision in our minds what a better social organization would appear to the senses and may even have some idea of how to collect many sense experiences to track this improvement.
Knowledge is a critical
A political proposal appeals to all these forms of knowledge, many that as we have seen can’t be proven. So the immediate contention is why accept something without proof, the reason, as above, is that it is the best assumption available for basing actions. That it “feels right” can be a legitimate appeal to knowledge in some contexts with respect to some thing; intuitive knowledge can in many situations be superior to more explicit forms of knowledge, such as when situations become to complicated to adequately describe for the purposes of deduction our minds as a whole, which by definition contain our powers of descriptions and deduction as a subset, are more powerful and so may have found a solution without being able to keep a record of the steps to produce the solution (just as we can catch a ball, requiring mathematical solutions to motion and timing to solve for interception, without any descriptions of those solutions — indeed we can catch objects before we know what numbers are). Now, though appeal to intuition is legitimate it is only superior appeal to knowledge when other forms are unavailable or there is insufficient time to produce them. For, any descriptive form of knowledge has the advantage that it’s internal components can be verified individually and modifications can be made to strengthen the knowledge. An intuition without any clear links to anything has as support only the past reliability of the person intuiting with respect to anything similar in the past. Though, on the surface it seems foolish to trust someone with important matters to make decisions where they cannot explain themselves, it is extremely common: all activities requiring quick decision making rely on intuitions and are entrusted to people who have been reliable in the past and do not require any post-hoc descriptive justifications for the decisions made and certainly not prior to the decisions carried out due to the time constraints.
What is capitalarchy?
and to what extent it’s bad
Capitalism is a ambiguous word.
If we take it at face value to mean “a belief that capital exists” and we interpret capital as whatever conditions are needed to product things then it’s more or less an obvious statement.
If we take it to mean a belief that capital should exist then it’s even then it’s unclear what sort of things we intend to produce, but surely if we had an idea what we want to produce then presumably we believe also we should make the capital structures needed to produce those things.
If we take it to refer simply to the Western global economy as it exists today — a mix of markets, governments, crime, non-market transactions (i.e. family or friends), and whatever else the Western global economy might be composed of — then it’s simply a name for something in the real world.
If we take it to mean something about “markets” then we have a large spectrum of what we might mean by markets. We might mean simply that people should trade what they produce themselves but with lot’s of rules as well as government owned or heavily regulated corporations for “public utilities”. Or we might be referring to de-regularized markets.
Whenever something has many different definitions it becomes easy to implement the baite-and-switch fallacy where a meaning of the word in the first part of the argument makes a statement obviously true, but then in the later part of the argument another meaning is used while recycling the truth of the first part. For instance, “A. we need certain conditions structures in order to produce, these structures whether technological, physical or natural, are capital, therefore capital is good and something we need B. society’s that don’t build up capital have a lower standard of living C. capitalism is therefore good.” Statement A is simply a definition about capital concluding it’s a good thing if we want to produce anything at all. Statement B is simply a tautology as wealth, capital and standard are nearly interchangeable. Statement C seems plausible as we’ve just established capital is good, that it’s better to be rich than poor all else being equal, but it’s not actually clear what we mean by capitalism, but by making this basic argument structure more involved and complicated it’s easy to slowly drift to whatever definition of capitalism we want, highly deregulated capitalism or simply the status quo capitalist system as it exists today. We can chain another bait and switch fallacy and introduce the capitalist who is someone who creates capital and therefore is good, and through a similar pattern drift towards the meaning of capitalist as simply anyone with a lot of money. Though it seems plausible someone with a lot of money creates capital, it is not necessarily so. For instance, a robber who steals a bunch of diamonds may have a lot of money but has not created any capital. We can chain bait-and-switch further in order to conclude that people with money create jobs, because money is a form of capital and people are labour is needed with capital to produce. The whole point of building up more sophisticated physical capital systems is to get rid of jobs.
Now, a whole book can be written on the various types of bait-and-switch fallacies used involving the word capital. The history of Western economics is essentially the production of bait-and-switch fallacies.
For my purposes here I simply want to establish that capitalism is an ambiguous word. A better word is Capitalarchy, that the owners of capital make the major decisions in society. Capitalarchy is opposed to democracy, where the majority of people make the major decisions in society.
Both capitalarchy and democracy can include markets, but in a democracy there are laws and regulations that make it hard to convert capital ownership into political influence. In a capitalarchy there are rules and regulations that make exclude or minimize forms of influence other than capital.
A Capitalarchy can easily masquerade as
Manipulative ethical systems
Before going further in constructing the politics and ethics concerned, it maybe useful for the reader to have an overview of manipulative moral and political systems.
Manipulative ethical systems are one’s where the person who adheres to the system does not want others to believe the same but rather wants others to act in a certain way and so promotes whatever beliefs are likely to result in those actions for the target individual or groups.
In other words, manipulative people work backwards from goals, to what actions other people must perform for those goals to be achieved, what beliefs and ideas within those people are likely to result in those actions, and finally what utterances could be said to these people to create such beliefs.
There are two kinds of beliefs that are relevant to the operation described above. The first kind is factual beliefs and the second is moral and spiritual beliefs, of which political beliefs are sometimes factual and sometimes moral or spiritual.
There is thus two perspectives we must consider in these relationships: the perspective of the manipulator and the perspective of the targets of manipulation.
From the perspective of the manipulator, we can not expect from them, by definition, an authentic account of their aims but must always guess as to their real intentions. For instance, if one’s goal is to gain the most power in the world for oneself, then by definition one does not want others to share similar beliefs for themselves as this would simply promote competition making the task more difficult; rather, one would want as a general rule for other people to adopt beliefs of inferiority, powerlessness and subservience to oneself. However, there can be exceptions to this rule; one may need a group of people to manage the larger group of slaves as well as to fight would be resisters and usurpers. In this second group it maybe important that some members feel superior to the slaves but still inferior to oneself, and of course further divisions maybe required to manage within this group creating a hierarchy of people esteeming themselves superior to those below them and subservient to those above with oneself at the top. This structure of obedience is the goal and from this goal all sorts of beliefs can be worked out which will promote adherence to this social structure (from the very small to the very large scale depending on one’s starting point).
In this case, as in all other cases of manipulation, since output behaviour of others is the object under consideration there is no need for the beliefs that promoted these behavious to be coherent, nor any need to recognize, defend or reformulate these beliefs when incoherences are pointed out. If it is more effective to simply ignore or flat out deny there is a conceptual problem, then the manipulator will simply do this, only striving for coherence when there is need to.
Because the promoted beliefs by manipulators have no need to be coherent, and so are not as a general rule, it renders them difficult to analyze. There is no attempt to organize these beliefs into clear and central tenets and analysis of what what follows from these beliefs. It is generally much more convenient to promote many beliefs and feelings of equal importance and from this incoherent pool of beliefs and taboos draw those arguments that can be constructed to infer whatever conclusions are useful for the moment (whether to do some particular thing, such as support a war, or denounce and ignore dangerous people, such as those against the war).
Because it is difficult to analyze, it is difficult for people who have escaped from this system of thinking to explain it to those being manipulated. Every trick available will be used to discredit anyone saying anything remotely close to the truth as well as promulgate convenient avenues to disregard whatever they say without any consideration of the content. Usually portraying the person as insane and linking whatever they have said or written to either taboos or then intellectual impotence, but there are of course other tricks.
For instance, if the word “socialism” is taboo then people will avoid reading anything with this word. Intellectual impotence is a simply corollary of dissident thought that it is outside the power structure and thus has little power; since it has little power it therefore has little consequence and as such not important enough to consider. If people are in a system of thought where power is the operating concept — the power superiors have over them or the power they have over inferiors — then anything that has no power hierarchy is simply irrelevant regardless of whether it is true or not : Who cares if their right or wrong, they’re never going to win with those ideas!
There is of course no way to “make people think for themselves” and therefore no “solution” to fixing a manipulated social structure. As described in chapter one, to value and search for truth is a foundational decision. Due to this there are lot’s of activities that are simply a waste of time for dissident thinkers. In particular, engaging in the lies of the day is generally useless and frustrating; though there exceptions to this rule when a particular lie-du-jour happens to represent an entire class of lies. For the most part, however, the lies of these sorts of systems are like the heads of the hydra, cut one off and two instantly grow in its place. Now, it is still useful to make a note of these lies, but only for oneself and for people who are already thinking independently; people within the manipulation will simply be provided a new lie if for whatever reason an old lie loses its potency.
The only way to kill the hydra is to get to the root neck, which is done by cutting off each head and cauterizing the wound before more heads can grow. So, in other words, it is essential to cut through all the lies at essentially the same time to get to the foundational lies. If not, then it is simply an exhausting process to engage with the beast; it is generally better to go about one’s own objectives simply ignore it. And of course, even if one does carry out slaying the hydra, people need not believe such a task has actually been done and so this hydra will continue to live as it’s a creature of belief. Likewise, new systems of lies can be created at any time.
Nevertheless, I will try to carry out this process for the dominant manipulative systems of my time and society.
The largest manipulative systems my contemporaries are affected by involve money, politics and religion.
The idea of simply counting votes to decide on a course of action in a group did not arise out of any theoretical consideration. It is an intuitive concept that certainly predates the concept of government.
It is very likely that small tribes (as well as even smaller groups within those tribes) used deliberation and voting for thousands of years before any documentation of it, not necessarily for all decision making but when the need arises. For instance, even if there is a non-democratic leader in a tribe, this leader and any successors may all die in the same event, and so in this instance even a society without any real democratic traditions may intuitively work out that voting on the new chief is the best solution to the dilemma. We also know that many contemporary tribes have democratic traditions of voting on important decisions, chiefs or boat captains, even temporary war chiefs and other leadership rolls; we can only speculate when these democratic traditions first arose but considering the geographic extent such traditions exist suggests a very deep origin as well as regular rediscovery.
This intuitive use of voting to resolve disagreement on the best course of action or the best candidate for a roll requires no theory to implement on a small scale. In a small group everyone’s opinion can be known and everyone can see for themselves when further discussion is time-wasting and a vote can be cast or then that voting can also resolve the matter of continuing discussion or not.
Even in a group where leadership is, on the surface, a dictatorship if the group overthrows the king, chief or the captain whenever there is a majority that disproves of decisions and competence, this also is essentially a democratic process but in a roundabout way, and there are very few societies that would tolerate a leader the majority strongly disapproved of. Most society’s that developed authoritarian systems and even very strong beliefs that support the authority generally also keep alive what are essentially democratic loopholes, such as a king should be obeyed … unless someone leads enough people to depose him thus showing that they are stronger and/or favoured by the spirits and gods. These belief systems become very confusing during a violent transition of power since it basically reduces to “the King should be obeyed … unless there’s a new King”.
In the first part of this work I set out to propose a candidate of a true moral theory. I did not claim to prove that it was true, only show it to be potentially so.
I made several references to moral nihilism as the “alternative” to the assumptions and arguments I made. True moral nihilism, that there is no better or worse, logically equates to arbitrary actions as there can be no “better action over another” by fairly direct consequence if we reject “better or worse” things to begin with.
Now, I did not deal with theories, however popular they maybe, that are not logically constructible; meaning, in a logical consideration of things these theories cannot be constructed. They can be naively pursued, but any reflection upon their real functioning reveals that no choices can be logically based on the principles.
I will here deal with the three most popular: accumulating wealth, following political or religious authority, and objective or scientific decision making.
It seems to many that having more wealth would be better than having less. This in itself seems like a sufficient basis for action.
However, if we look closely at the statement it is clearly a tautology, as wealth is defined as “what is better to have”; therefore, it is better to have more wealth. If we consider the matter further we quickly realize that what exactly one considers wealth can only be determined with respect to an ethical theory one already has, which in turn informs what purposes one has, again determining in turn what objects or social relations are useful to those purposes and so one can consider wealth. Without any purpose, all objects are equally useless.
An easy way to clear up this notion of wealth is to consider any object one may “like to have”, such as a 50kg gold bar, and then imagine situations in which one would abandon it. For instance, in many situations, of being lost in a forest or traversing a desert or needing a boat to go faster, a gold bar could easily be a hindrance to survival and so not part of one’s “wealth” that one can draw on to solve problems. And likewise, if we select any object that seems “good to have” we can easily invent situations in which it would be necessary to abandon or toss away. But even here we are assuming one wants to survive and that one has an ethic that includes personal survival in such situations. If we had no such ethic, not only would the gold bar be of no utility but so would matches, tents, compasses, rocks, branches and any other object at our disposal. It is thus fairly clear that insofar as wealth represents what is useful to us and “good to have or to keep”, that wealth is relative one’s ethic; and so, the “pursuit of wealth” as an ethic in and of itself makes no sense and there would be no definition of wealth in such an ethic. The ethic becomes unconstructible since the definition of “wealth” becomes a circular reference to the “pursuit of wealth” in any construction.
And yet “pursuing wealth” seems a completely normal and usual purpose to life in North-Western (relative India) civilization. How can it be if it makes no sense? Before explaining further I’d like simply to note here that though pursuing wealth is a completely banal personal ethic (even supported by US legal institutions as legitimate explanation for one’s actions and in fact the only legally acceptable ethic for many legal persons) it is equally banal stories of “realizing the pointlessness of pursuing wealth” such as the “mid-life crisis” or the businessman suddenly realizing “there are more important things in life” etc. So though it seems a “very normal ethos” in Western culture, it is equally “normal” to point out that “wealth isn’t everything” and equally banal for the wealthy to deride such “bleeding hearts” in return and so on. So there seems to be at least debate about this ethical theory of pursuing wealth, which is a sort of cultural awareness of the logical absurdity of the theory.
That absurdity is, as noted, that wealth requires an ethic to be defined and so is simply meaningless as an ethic in itself. How then do people who seem to profess a meaningless ethical theory go about in a coherent way at all? There are two mental errors that allow the theory to seem to function.
First, there is certainly a broad range of objects and relations that society usually associates with wealth, and so if someone has a more fundamental ethical theory that does hold meaning that seems to require “accumulating this usual wealth” as society generally views it, then temporarily the pursuit of “usual wealth accumulation” is required and someone may simply fail to explain their real purpose in presenting themselves as seeking to accumulate wealth as an expediency. This certainly happens and represents a coherent state of affairs as “wealth accumulation” is not the actual ethical theory but only one necessary step in achieving a more fundamental objective.
The second, and I fear far more common possibility, is the confusion surrounding the concept of money. Since money is an “abstract of utility” that is ideally convertible to the satisfaction of any purpose, then it seems logical to conclude that accumulating wealth in the form of money is equivalent to accomplishing all purposes. I.e. one does not need a fundamental ethic to justify accumulating money since money is convertible to the satisfaction of all purposes, more specifically all wants (which we’ll get to in the next chapter). For instance, when Western economists say “it’s rational to pursue self interest” it’s almost always implied in economic text-books that “self interest” equates with making more money, as nearly all the examples then proceed to analyze situations and decisions in terms of what results in more or less money, and more money being always the right answer.
The absurdity of imposing this ethic on all “economic actors” seems to make sense when we view money in it’s intended ideal form of being convertible to “any good or service”, i.e. satisfying any purpose. If one has more money at the end of a transaction then one can “better accomplish” whatever one’s purpose happens to be and so is better off. It thus becomes superfluous to actually consider that people have different fundamental purposes as they are all better accomplished by having more money. Thus, it becomes plausible to state that the purpose of the entire nation should be the “getting of more money” in the form of GDP growth.
This theory then seems backed up by the observation that nearly everyone in society seems to, in fact, be pursuing money as their primary concern.
When we look closely, however, we see that real money does not come in it’s “ideal intended form” or a completely abstract convertible unit of utility, money cannot achieve any given purpose and is only useful in some situations, just like real 50kg gold bars. It is only through the mental error of idealizing money as truly convertible to anything that it seems plausible that the accumulation of money should be preferred in all situations. (Though we should not also forget the mental error of still requiring a more fundamental ethic to justify “universal purpose satisfaction” accumulation points to begin with.)
In reality, real money is not ideal but a combination of objects and social relations, and so like any other objects or social relation it’s utility must be weighed against a more fundamental ethic and “pursuing the accumulation of wealth” is an unconstructible ethic as we’ve seen, even in the form of money.
As for the observable fact that everyone seems to be pursuing money: firstly, what people seem to be doing is not relevant in weighing the merits of an argument, and secondly, the Capitalarchy economy is structured in such a way that, though very few objects and social relations can in actuality be convertible with money, basic necessities to live are convertible with money, exclusively for most people, and so people must devote most of their energy to accumulating money to convert to life necessities in order to live, and continuing to live is indeed a thing that achieving whatever purpose, other than suicide and mutual equivalents, requires. And so, it is not the prospect of money that results in seemingly uniform behavior but just as likely the desire to live in order to some day accomplish some purpose, if one has accumulated enough wealth to dedicate any energy to it.
Pursuit of happiness
Happiness, like wealth, becomes a tautology to pursue as a goal. For, happiness is defined as that mental state in which it is good to be, and so by definition it is “good to be happy”. However, though in the case of pursuing wealth it was easy to show that this is meaningless purpose in itself, as utility requires some more fundamental ethic, for happiness it is less easy to show the absurdity as the “state of happiness” is not, as with wealth, already referencing an exterior ethic to it but does seem plausible as a desirable “end result”.
Before continuing, I’d like simply to note the symbiosis between the pursuit of wealth and the pursuit of happinness, since when doubt about “pursuing wealth exclusively” crops in, because one has already accumulated some and it has not brought “happiness”, the theory of pursuing wealth can be butrressed by the theory of pursuing “happiness” and, being a much more ambiguous notion, it is easy say “the purpose is not to accumulate wealth but to attain happiness” and thus start to “convert wealth to happiness”, in the form of acquiring objects and social relations or allowing free time (enabled by a configuration of objects and social-relation) to pursue happiness increasing things.
A implied above, the problem with happiness is that it is ambiguous. Specifically it is a word that refers to two different things. First, happiness can be used in a philosophical sense of “a situation and / or mental state one wants to achieve”. Second, happiness can used to simply refer to one’s evaluation of a situation, object or person (I’m happy with this chair or I’m happy with this person’s work). Third, happiness can refer to a state of mental euphoria and pleasant feeling.
It is only the first definition that seems to support an “ethical theory”, the two other meanings become clearly insufficient as clearly “good state to achieve”. Yet, the first philosophical definition, when we consider it without having the other two definitions mixed up in it, holds no content. “Philosophical happiness” becomes simply another word for “goal”, as in what one wants to achieve. Yet if I say my ethic is to “pursue my goal” I’m clearly not providing any information on my ethic, only the obvious consequence of the definition of goal being what one is trying to pursue achievement of. Only by using happiness enlieux of “goal” and through mental errata mixing in the other two definition that do have content is the unconstrunctibility of this ethic hidden.
Now, this brings us to the question of whether these other two definition of happiness are really insufficient.
The second definition is clearly so, as to be “happy with an object, situation or person” clearly references a more fundamental ethic in which to evaluate whether what has happened is good or not; pursuing this form of “happiness” in itself is reducible to the problems of pursuing wealth in itself.
The third type of happiness, mental euphoria, does not intrinsically reference a more fundamental ethic in order to construct. However, we are here taking for granted that “mental euphoria is good”, to make such an assumption requires an ethical theory in which to evaluate mental euphoria. If we don’t automatically assume mental euphoria as the ultimate good then in comparing with other mental states, such as sadness or anger, we may conclude that such mental states are, provided a fundamental ethic, useful in some situations and not in others. That there are, with respect to an ethic, situations where it makes sense to be happy about it and other situations where it makes sense to be sad about it or angry or depressed or any other mental states.
If we consider a “mental state” as part of the situation we find ourselves in, then in pursuing an ethic one or another mental state will be useful or not-useful in any given situation, and so in this framework “mental euphoria” is again only useful depending on one’s purpose and the situation. Thus, the pursuit of mental euphoria is not a constructible ethic in itself.
There is one possible formulation of a constructible happiness ethic, which accepting the inappropriateness of striving for “all happiness regardless of the situation”, one could nevertheless strive for a sort of calculus of happiness to maximize the states of “mental euphoria”, using other states such as sadness, disappointment, anger etc. appropriately in order to aptly deal with objects, people and goings on that interfere, unless dealt with, with one’s euphoria maximization.
This calculus of euphoria is logically constructible but extremely problematic theory to implement. The main problem is that as soon as one becomes conscious that one’s tastes and preferences, that produce euphoria, change over time, one must get into the business of predicting one’s future tastes and preferences in order for the calculus of euphoria to work towards a maximum; if one becomes progressively unsure about, i.e. one lacks the certainty about one’s future self, what is liable to produce real euphoria for extended periods of time then the theory collapses and is no longer constructible if one lacks the premises needed to conclude what does indeed maximize euphoria. Insofar as there is conviction of possessing the critical future-self knowledge for this scheme to work, I have no internal logical criticism for those that attempt it.
This work is written to be actually useful and therefore circulated around relevant communities. If this purpose is realized then it is likely for criticism to likewise circulate based on a superficial reading of it. Whether such criticism is honest or dishonest, the intended affect of superficial criticism is often for people to avoid reading the work in the first place, and so I think it is wise to address such kinds of criticism directly in the first publishing of the book; so that fans of this work can point out in debates with people who have clearly not actually read it that the author foresaw exactly such things transpiring and provide disciples a useful citation of the author intended specifically for such people: that they are foolish and manipulated by propaganda, most likely willingly.
For, when one develops argument with the intention that they are actually true, a minimum of length and ordering of ideas is required. This makes such works generally harder to read than arguments developed, not to to be true, but rather to influence your behaviour by whatever means are effective. Arguments developed to trick the mind generally enjoy a much shorter length and simpler form, often reducing to a concise expression that shields those who choose to believe it from any criticism of equal length and by simply comparing lengths, without actually considering the content of a longer argument, it may seem at first that brevity confers some sort of intrinsic superiority.
A recent historical example of this is the “support the troops” argument for support of the US’s war in the middle east. This argument can be expressed in 3 words with a genuine and fervent belief that it makes sense.
Showing this argument does not actually make sense, that support for troops (even if we accept this as a premise) does not have as a corollary support for any war those troops happen to be engaged in, takes more than 3 words. Anyone alive relatively recently and relatively familiar with US politics can express how long this “support the troops” argument was effective in influencing people to support the war, tacitly accept the war, censure themselves or confuse their own criticism of the war by accepting the “support the troops” slogan and hodgepodge of similarly contrite corollaries from the outset (soldiers involved in a immoral war are by definition engaged in immoral behavior, and morally culpable to the extent they have access to available information to evaluate the situation, as well as the society that supports them — given the weighty and serious consequences of war, accepting at the outset that troops should be supported in their current activity with encouragement and better equipment, that soldiers have no moral agency themselves, and so no moral stake in their own actions and only policy makers should be addressed in debating, is not an effective basis of argumentation as it is simply untrue and significantly undermines the effort to end an immoral war — for, soldiers refusing to fight are a significant barrier to carrying out a war as well as the best members of society to “lead by example” in refusing to participate in an immoral war, and examples of such informed disobedience disproportionately undermines well crafted propaganda programs such as “support the troops” for if the troops themselves are refusing to fight in the war then this argument would also infer that such troops should be supported also, in the political and legal sphere as well as the very practical sphere of supporting such troops when they are discharged or exit prison for their disobedience; the war movement accepting from the outset that supporting the troops means material and moral support for what the war they are currently fighting completely dissolves the impact that soldiers that engage in moral reflection might have by their actions).
Since propaganda is generally much shorter than the analysis required to understand the psychological mechanisms the propaganda exploits, not to mention the analysis required to come to the truth of the matter, to whatever extent that is knowable, (another example being climate change, where large bodies of information must be collected and a daunting network of complicated physical relationships understood in order to inform a conclusion about the climate based on science, a counter argument that “400 hundred parts per million is too small to have an effect” or “God wouldn’t allow it” can be expressed in a subordinate clause (not even to larger coherent idea), made up in a day and understood immediately with no effort and no pre-requisite knowledge and easily repeated with the complete conviction that such arguments defeat climate science), in subsequent editions of this work I plan to address whatever propaganda against this book as well as the ideas contained more generally.
Since this is the first edition I will address points that I expect to be useful to propaganda, whether intentionally crafted or not.
The first such point is that this work can easily be presented as basing everything in a faith in god.
Therefore, portions of the atheist community may simply reject the work.
Since this work also argues against institutional religion, religious organization with a hierarchical power structure, it is likely that the institutional religious community will reject the work as devilish sophistry for not really supporting “God” but some watered down intellectualized version.
So I expect this sort of criticism. I’d like to make it clear that my intention is not to, although being completely at odds with these communities, try to cater to them nevertheless with mumbly excuses for them so that they engage in ecology despite unsound theological foundations, which brings me to the third piece of propaganda I expect which is intellectuals criticizing this work as being too divisive as a basis for cooperation; these intellectuals often use the framework of “not believing in God … believing in a higher power or that something out there or the universe has meaning”, as to cater to both harsh criticism from atheists while simultaneously placating to the religious by demonstrating empathy for the fundamental psychological attractiveness of religion.
The first two groups, atheists and the institutional religious, as well as the third group that tries to please both of them, I’d like to make clear I do not mean to placate or render my thinking compatible with theirs. However, I do wish to address the propaganda they might put forth to protect the insularness and ignorance of their communities. I of course do not imply all criticism from these groups is by definition of this nature, only arguments intended to create the behavior of not reading this book or relevant passages in the first place.
My intention here is that supporters of this work can combat such criticism with “this is literally addressed in the first pages of the book for the exact reason these kinds of groups will encourage their followers to dismiss it”. That being said, why are these groups wrong and no coherent basis for the preservation of humanity built upon their ideology possible?
Atheism is simply an incoherent belief system. There’s simply no way to prove there is no being with godlike powers for all intents and purposes. Arguments showing that the idea of a supreme god is self contradictory are in the same category as arguments showing one’s own existence is inconsistent, or time is inconsistent, or space inconsistent, or change inconsistent etc. For instance, quibbles like “does god have the power to make a immovable rock and then the power to move it” are easy to resolve: god being also infinitely wise simply avoids creating contradictory situations. But to avoid these quibbles to begin with, in the work that follows I simply use the definition of “most powerful being ensuring a fundamental order to existence” rather than “all powerful”, as “all” can be read to include the power to create logical inconsistencies which is not a power important for me to believe god has or acts on whereas. Furthermore, my argument for faith in god is not based on creating a definition and then providing evidence an entity exists that satisfies this definition, but rather on what ontological principles satisfy my more fundamental ethical principles, as in my philosophical framework ontology is an extension of ethics, as choosing to believe anything at all, including ontological or theological positions, is itself an ethical act (I must first believe I should form an opinion about existence before undertaking the actual effort required to make a conclusion, not the other way around). Of course, reading the first the chapter is needed to get into this argument.
And if an inconsistency in the definition of God can be resolved, what is left is empirical evidence that there is no “most powerful being, ensuring a consistent existence”. However, our own empirical science begs this question as our physics assumes a coherence to existence, and the epistemological corollary is that whatever is the basis for such universal coherence to existence in turn also exists. Rejecting this premise, that existence is chaos and not consistent creates the problem of needing to explain why local consistency in a fundamentally inconsistent universe makes any sense, for there cannot, by definition, by any ontological foundation to it.
1This list refers to the formulations of these belief systems that are reducible to nihilism, it is possible to employ these words in a context that is not reducible to nihilism, usually the proponents of the former interpretation are not aware of the difference and often make the argument that since their word can be used in a context that is not reducible to nihilism somehow avoids their belief system being reducible to nihilism. A typical example is “evolutionary psychology”, it can be used simply to refer to the fact that brains, culture, concepts and ideas do evolve, but can also be used to refer to a belief system of extrapolating the scientific analysis of evolutionary psychology to make decisions, in which case the theory is reduced to nihilism as no scientific theory can establish any actions being better than another, science can only describe what has hitherto occurred; and so basing decision of “science and science alone” results in an empty ethic that is by definition equivalent to nihilism. The general term for using science as an ethic is usually called Scientism and it’s dealt with in Moral Dilemmas, along with some of the other items of the reducible to nihilism list; any missing I will put in companion articles.