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Living Philosophy

Philosophy can be very dangerous when it imagines it is only engaging in hypothetical scenarios and detached thought experiments. Yes, philosophers need to have some distance from certain practical affairs and social and cultural values in order to mount a critique of them from a more encompassing perspective. And it is natural as a result of this often philosophers will make the error of misunderstanding concrete events and experiences, as they are thinking on a more abstract level. But the danger is much greater when philosophers promote specific socially contextual agendas, while trying to hide behind the status of being neutral.

We have seen the dangers of this in many eras throughout history. In our current era we have it in areas such as the philosophy of mind and morality and free will. Quite nonchalantly many a philosopher will deny free will, and deny the efficacy of, or even sometimes the existence of, consciousness. Without realising the social ramifications were these truths to be enforced in society. If we have no free will, no effective consciousness, then we have no control over our own bodies. If we do not have this, then individuals are not sovereign authors of their actions, if we are not authors of our actions then there can be no such thing as democracy and we are in no position to make moral decisions at all about the life of ourselves, our children and our community. They don’t seem to realise the implications of their seemingly innocent ontological speculations. And that is because they are too naive, or too disingenuous, to even acknowledge they are engaging in ontological speculations. They falsely imagine they are just describing things, while all the while value judgments leak in. The more they deny their own personal biases, the more their personal biases influence the views they promote and espouse.

Philosophers need to become much more aware of what is at stake here. They need to stop being pawns for insidious social agendas. In society, belief and reality are not so simply separated, as the rabid atheists would have us think. Belief can influence the reality we come to accept. If we believe we have no free will, we may well make it the case. But it won’t be because it was a natural fact about us, shown by rational argument. It will be because we are manipulated into a new kind of oligarchal servitude. The elite few will remain with free will and we will be left resigned to our fate as mental slaves. The human story is an ever developing narrative, it is a dynamic unfolding plot. A philosophical approach dedicated to describing neutrally what “is”, will always be restricted to talking about the dead past and scratching its head as to the absence of life there.

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State Expansion

The more divided we are, the more state interference is justified to keep the peace. So the state is quite happy to polarise people right now, as is its lap dog, the mainstream media. The less we are able to get along among ourselves, the more justified they are in coming and interfering with our lives. Terror attacks, wars, crime, hatred and distrust. It all feeds in to the narrative that says we must depend on the state from the cradle to the grave. From how babies must be born, to vaccines we must take, to identity documents we must possess, to centralised education we must rely on, to media we rely on to make up for loneliness, to police and army we must rely on to protect us from violence, to a state subsidised economy that we must work as a part of. They now even are destroying the family unit, promoting single parents, demoting family values, turning young against old, undermining cultural traditions and practices, and turning women against men. Each aspect of our social relationships that we can no longer manage ourselves, the state comes in to grasp more power and manage our relationships for us.

Alongside this, on the international level, global powerful and rich individuals have formed a cabal so that they no longer need to rely on national boundaries, and can pick the cheapest labour from where ever they desire. The end result is puppet leaders of our countries, and no real national sovereignty. This joint movement of a pretence of the spread of worldwide socialism comes alongside the rise of an elite oligarchy whom we are supposed to depend on to act benevolently. On each and every level personal sovereignty is being taken away from us under a guise of morally superior motives. Where, when it all reaches its conclusion, we will be completely at the mercy of the elite oligarchs who will control our births, our education, our pleasures, our pains, our relationships, our wealth, our resources, our minds, our bodies, our families and our communities.

Do we really think this path can be followed through without disastrous consequences for us all except the elite few? I don’t know where people’s trust in this system comes from, and to be honest, actually I don’t think people do trust it, they only fear it. People fear speaking out, voicing their own feelings about things. We are censored in more and more aspects of our speech, and we are controlled if not by our own fear and conscience, then by social ostracism. I would like to say I can see what the alternative direction is, but it is very difficult to see where to go right now with our society. All I know is that something is wrong and deeply corrupt and dangerous about our current path. The state is not a benevolent influence, it is not even just a benign influence, it is a malevolent force that in each aspect of our lives it controls it is chopping off a piece of our human dignity. We will end up as an unmoving, unthinking lump, hooked up to the internet and other technological devices. This is the passive and pacified endgame they have in mind for us.

It won’t last, of course, this is just another misguided ideology, another short-lived dystopia. For we are at the mercy right now of the perverted vision of an elite group of people and the best thing we can do is to prove them wrong with little victories in our own lives. Prove that we can relate to other people peacefully without relying on law and order to keep us in line. Prove that we can form community movements without state subsidies required, and then in the future maybe we can get bigger victories. Make education a community provision like it once was, get our government officials to serve the people again not their elite donors and lobbiers, allow the media to have an independent voice once more, motivated by conscience, not by an agenda to control people through a fixed mono-narrative and through divisive political coverage. These things will come much later, for now we can only focus on the first few steps of getting some reasonable control and integrity in our personal lives, in our families and in our local communities.

Natural Law – Mark Passio

NaturalLawSamAdamsSmall

I watched a seminar on natural law by Mark Passio on you tube earlier today. Mark Passio is an anarchist whose ideas on this front I would definitely have some divergences from. But when it comes to one of the central themes of this seminar, I agree in the importance of finding an objective/independent basis for our moral values, and not falling for the seductive simplicity of moral relativism. Mark Passio makes the case for natural law, and from the above quote you can get an idea of the power of this notion. For it has its expression in the founding of the American constitution and this itself was influenced by prior English Libertarians such as John Locke and Thomas Paine.

An aspect of the libertarian angle is certainly a view I once held highly, but later became suspicious of. My problems with it stemmed from many factors, firstly the fact that it seems to be so rarely instantiated in societies in history. Even in the societies that espouse these ideals, they rarely live up to them. And so this makes me think it is more an ideal type than a natural law. It is very easy to confuse our own strongest held values with being natural and universal, this anthropomorphic error I think is something that put me off Libertarianism. There are other factors than these also, though this does not impact on much of what Mark Passio has to say about natural law itself, so lets get on to that.

He distinguishes natural law from man made law as being true in a way that reaches beyond human perspectives to something independent. Natural law, he argues, comes from a creator, and so he posits a basic kind of deism. Similar to a quite popular view of God back in the 1700 and 1800’s. The idea is that we act in recognition of this natural law, just as we would not, for instance, walk off a cliff, as we respect the law of gravity and its consequences. At the same time, we have free will, it is not a case of a deterministic natural law, determining all our actions. The natural law kind of lays out a template for how one must act in order to stay in harmony with your own self and your environment. Such as balancing out the two sides of your brain, the feminine and the masculine, the analytical and the creative.

He illustrates well certain polarities in natural law, and shows some of the dangers of those who are imbalanced to one extreme or the other in their worldview. As the below diagrams from the seminar indicate:

MindSchismSmall

The left brain, the masculine, is susceptible to one set of errors and the right brain, the feminine. is susceptible to another set of errors. One side has a tendency at the extreme to be the controlling tyrant based on his outlook, the other side has the tendency at the extreme of being the fatalist slave.

I think this is a useful model, with some caveats. Of course there are always things that don’t quite fit in to place. For instance I think many scientists combine the left brain thesis that the universe is a grand accident, with the right brain thesis of determinism, that all occurrences are preordained, and the thesis that free will is an illusion, in order to create a grand prison for thought. It is quite interesting to see it like this and realise the inconsistency of the scientists who claim on the one hand for a completely random big bang, a completely random start to life, at the same time as arguing for it being completely determined from that moment on.

In the middle between the two polarised extremes of the brain we have in the middle natural law combined with free will to create a balance to our outlook.

But how does this natural law operate? Well I would suggest viewing the seminar yourself or searching online for more information here, as there are many things that are covered. Overall he offers a set of guidelines, at times I feel not quite specific enough, but then part of his point is that it is our job to fill in the detail with our free will in how we act in our own lives and in spreading this knowledge. A few points he emphasises are that we should not follow orders from others, only from our own conscience, we should be a sovereign individual. That we should learn to distinguish use of force from violence. That we should learn the power of saying no in at times uncomfortable social situations where peer pressure or authority pressure may try to sway us and seduce us. And much of the time is spent talking about the principles of Natural law in detail, as indicated in the following image.

principlesofnaturallaw

These give you an idea that what we are talking about here is not prescriptions for actions, like most in moral philosophy seem to be searching for. It is not telling you that this action A is specifically right, and this action B is specifically wrong. It is showing you that this general course of Action ABC is right, and this general course of action DCE is wrong. The former allows health, alignment, happiness and balance in your life. The latter leads to illness, depression, imbalance and frustration. The frustration is the unwillingness to accept natural law based either on lack of knowledge or willing ignorance. This can be changed, but it takes a lot of difficult self reflection, and many, Mark argues, are simply not willing to put this work in, and so they remain on the wrong course and either directly or indirectly legitimising evil and bad actions in themselves and those around them.

Mark Passio lays out the path to rightness in line with natural law as follows, alongside the path to wrongness:

NaturalLawExpressions

We must start from a generative foundation of Love that is contrasted with Fear, not hate. Love allows for calm conscious appreciation, while fear means we act from the more instinctive unconscious parts of our brain. Love allows creativity, where fear only allows us to follow bad habits and patterns from our instinctive past. From there you can move down the levels and see how things can progress on the path, if you stick to the positive side of natural law.

One area I feel here might be a case more of a hopeful view of things, rather than a natural view of things is in relation to the idea that external control, always leads to chaos. Of course, he wants to argue for anarchism so he is committed to denying that external control can ever work. But I think there is still something to the hierarchical nature of human societies that goes back to primordial times in tribes and chimps and even further back. We like to form hierarchies, and at times I think this can be a perfectly natural order, it does not always lead to chaos. The ideas of Jordan Peterson have recently opened my mind up on this point a bit. For he shows precisely one of the dangers when we see no power as legitimate is the tendency for moral relativism and solipsism, the dangers Mark Passio himself warns of.

Can natural law be enough to avoid this tendency, with all sovereign individuals relating as equals? Or do we need some hierarchy in our societies as a way to help maintain the peace, like we see in most human societies in history and in most of our close social mammalian relatives? I still lean towards this latter view, but there are dangers of course in this view also.

In summary, I still don’t feel I have a definite grasp on an independent and objective morality after watching and thinking about this seminar by Mark Passio. But I do feel it has given me many conceptual parameters within which to frame some of my own thoughts and ideas on how to act morally good. I concur on the critique of moral relativism and its dangers. I concur on some of the errors he exposes both of scientism on one side and new age spirituality on the other. It is not enough to follow laws and rules, neither is it enough to simply think positively. Thoughts and actions guided by laws, but not determined by them is what we need to keep ourselves in better alignment with our surrounding social and natural environment.

Blast from the Past: 2008, Socialism and the Future of Social Order

Socialism and the Future of Social Order

I think the grandest error of socialism is to think that the purpose of a moral vision is to help in the formation of a social order. A moral vision is there to guide us; it is not a formula for social success or a universal benevolent principle for how to act in all circumstances.

On the other side, a social order isn’t there for moral reasons, it is there to give a structure to human relations and actions and behavior in those areas where peoples own brains and bodies are not up to the task of so ordering things. It is there because amongst a large group of people our natural ways of ordering and organizing our experience and understanding of the world as individuals is insufficient. We are physiologically incapable of being on friendly terms with large groups of people, and so how are our relations with such large groups of people to be regulated? It is simple; a social order emerges above our heads discovering innovative ways of ordering relationships amongst larger and larger groups of people. After tribal societies, which lie within our physiological boundaries, and so aren’t really social orders at all (they are more like extended families), in order to break beyond this boundary bigger societies develop in an ordered fashion by adopting a division of labour.

So the point where all social orders have emerged coincides with the point where moral visions were shown to be inadequate for the social order to be maintained amongst larger groups of people. Socialism then, as a moral vision, can only be thought of as a social movement, it cannot be thought of as an actual way to order society here and now. When it is attempted to order society on purely moral grounds it is like George Orwell’s Animal Farm. At each step the seemingly sound moral principles have unintended consequences for the social order, which need then to be altered so as to bring society back in to line, and it carries on like this until the only moral principle left is that of expediency at maintaining the current social order, and so we see the consequence we have seen a few times in history that when socialism, the movement, becomes socialism, the order, it tends to be specifically intolerant of any other social movements that may undermine its order. So that ultra radical as a movement, it becomes ultra conservative as a way of actually ordering society here and now.

This applies not just to the extreme examples of socialism, like the communists in Russia or China, but to the more moderate examples of the social democrats. For even in the case of the latter, their principles are things such as equal rights, equal opportunity, a social minimum and fair distribution. When they put these ideas in to practice when they are in power there is the same old problem that these principles tend to have unintended consequences in the social order that lead ultimately to their own demise. And the reason for this is that they are trying to push social order towards a static homogeneous state, when we have already seen that social orders amongst large groups of people entail a division of labour, i.e. they entail a dynamic heterogeneous state.

On all of these points socialism has a false view of social order as being merely a matter of certain conventions, which we are free to change with alternate conventions in line with our own moral principles, such as moral belief in equality being conventionalized in equal rights and opportunities, or such as our moral stance against poverty being conventionalized in a social minimum. Alongside this the enlightenment background to socialism has meant that it ignores the physiological limits of our brains at comprehending a social order amongst millions of people, and so naively imagines that society can be in the conscious control of human minds.

When we add of all this together we see that socialism fails as a social order, in thinking individual humans, with their limited minds, can formulate moral principles adequate for the social organization of millions of people. And socialism fails as a social movement, because it fails to account for the concrete reality of humans as physiologically limited embodied minds, appealing instead to disembodied abstract principles such as “equality”, which tend to be used in purely conventional or ideological statements, with no concrete content for making a genuine change to society and the basis of the social order.

The lesson we need to learn is that what humans need most in a social order, is not equality or security or wealth, but some basic ability to express themselves through their bodies, and to not feel everywhere that they have to repress their feelings and desires. Society tends to alienate people’s minds from their bodies precisely because our individual minds were inadequate to comprehend the basis of the social order. But this alienation is only relative, it is never a complete or absolute alienation (Contrary to the hopes of the secularites), and now that the expansion of the human population is reaching its limits, it is time to start getting to grips with this new and settled social reality. To do this society has to start developing ways to give people some autonomous control over their own bodies within society. It cannot completely control people from above, with abstract principles of fairness, politically correct pluralist conventions and ideologies of equality. To do this is to take the life and dynamism out of people, and to make society stagnate.

The social movements of the future have to be about empowering people in their lives. About recognizing the ways in which current society manipulates people’s bodies in to line with its ends, and how education doesn’t develop in people the basic ability to use their own heads to direct the actions of their own bodies. This is the root of all our social maladies in the brave new world, not moral worries about inequalities. For how are we supposed to care about others, when our current society is so artificial, and manipulates our bodies so much, and shows so little respect for our minds, that we don’t even care about ourselves?

I wrote this piece back in 2008, I find it strange how oftentimes my own past writings are what I can learn most from. Many today, including myself could learn much from this, for we have gone further down this line that I was warning of back in 2008. We have gone further towards homogeneity. We have gone further through education and the media in making people unable to have basic mental control over their own bodily responses, with rising depression, anxiety and various other mental illnesses. All symptoms of this lack of control, and this lack of control has been happily enforced through a frivolous postmodern relativist education, and a decapacitating polarised politics presented by the media, pathologically playing with and manipulating our fears and our sense of guilt.

The conclusion of this post remains exactly what we need to work on. We need to care more about ourselves before we can think about caring for others. We need to get off the self stultifying virtue signalling train. We need to start facing our anxieties and depressions, and begin to once again gain some basic control over our bodily reactions from a well centred mind that has a reasonable grasp of surrounding reality, and is not clouded by useless ideologies. Do not let yourself be infantilized by stupid gimmicks like screaming at the sky, get a grip of your own mind, take your own body back under your minds control, then you can start to think about taking control of your country back.

Ontology in the 20th Century – The Downfall of Legitimate Power

The century that shouted most loudly of an end to ontology and metaphysics, in the first part by positivists, then by linguistic philosophy and terminating in postmodern philosophy, is a century that ironically indulged in some of the most dogmatic ontological pronouncements. From the monolithic materialism and atomism of random matter in motion, in which all phenomena were to be related only contingently, and that anything not contingent, such as logic, maths, must be reduced to tautological empty claims. To the nihilistic contextual fuzziness of postmodernists, where all is relative, all viewpoints are equally unprivileged and the only thing that exists is power relations that illegitimately force certain viewpoints upon us.

You could not get more ontologically committed in your claims than these two things, but somehow they hoodwinked many that they were also non-ontological claims, neutral, undeniable claims, almost like simple facts of nature that we must passively and fatalistically fall into line with. A great way to get people to take on the viewpoint subconsciously and not be critical of it I guess. A nice little tactic for brainwashing. But that is there problem, not mine, as I want to reconsider ontology, and suggest alternatives to allow us to transcend these monolithic and dogmatic perspectives on reality and on life and the universe.

What we need to do is develop a contextual social understanding that does not terminate in a nihilistic postmodern relativism. Alongside knowing that we cannot go back to an enlightenment style of imperialistic reasoning, nor can we settle with a materialist/atheist approach. The failings of the latter are obvious, for the only victory for materialist/atheist views is really when we are dead, so its not much use to us while we are still alive and aware. Added on to this is that these views aspire to be “views from nowhere”, which is clearly not going to give you contextual social understanding. The imperialistic approach clearly holds no value anymore now the earth is fully occupied until we can find a way to make fictional things such as star trek a reality, which seems a very distant possibility if any possibility at all. And the failings of the postmodern relativist approach we are currently living through are also clear in the way it makes us disempowered, rendering all power illegitimate till we get to a point of anarchy where everyone has an opinion and no one has a legitimate say. At this point we feel obliged to abandon reason and discussion in favor of tribal attachments and resorting to meaningless acts of violence, or threats at least of violence to silence our opposition.

There has to be a way to rediscover reasonableness in our relationships. To find content in our arguments that is not just dependent on use of force. We are in the very early stages of this new approach, but I think it is definitely the way ahead for us to be going. My first thought on this point is that we have to find a way to realise that sometimes power and use of power can be legitimate. We need to circumscribe a domain within which power can be legitimate. For the alternative is just taking us towards an anarchy that will only provoke more authoritarian uses of power.

Philosophy – A Recap

I have not spent much time looking over my philosophical development lately. So I did a bit of reading of some of my ideas from a few years ago, and it helped me to make sense of how I got to where I am today. So I am going to make an attempt at explaining that to other people on here.

I had tended to think there is this schism in my views where I suddenly realised the error of my liberal ways, and became more conservative. But looking back on my ideas I can see that this development is far from a random schism and is actually a reasonable, rational and coherent continuation of my past views.

I have always, for instance, been suspicious of post modern trends in thought. From very early on in my time at university onwards. So basically as soon as I became aware that such a trend of thought existed. I know today a lot of post modern liberal style thinkers at universities live in such an echo chamber they can hardly imagine an alternate point of view. And so they presume any other view must be non-intellectual, and I had even come to think maybe my view must be non-intellectual, and so I almost abandoned the whole intellectual approach to looking at the world. But looking through my notes from years ago I feel I have found a way to reincorporate an intellectual outlook in to my current perspective.

It begins with the realisation, and this is something I have long been aware of, that the secular state has downsides. To many it is an article of faith that the secular state is a good thing. And the liberals of today, are so opposite to what being liberal meant in the past, as they basically take the view that the state is a good thing, and it can be trusted to be a force for the good. Be it through welfare measures, global organisations like the EU and the UN, or through technology, or through science, or medicine. Long taken for granted as forces for good, many are awakening to the dangers some of these things possess. But often without I think seeing it in a general framework of criticism of the secular state. For this it seems is something we still inevitably require to continue its growing influence in all aspects of our lives. From day one with birth control and birth in hospitals, to education in early years, to mainstream media in formative years alongside education, to political ideologies as we get older, to care when we get even older still.

But clearly this is not something that can just carry on and on. Centralised state control gets to a point where nation states are even overridden by higher central powers, and these are not democratically elected even in a formal way, but are just purely beholden to powerful economic interests of the wealthy elite. The secular state as a bad thing is a theme throughout my ideas all my adult life. Yes it has certain benefits when it is controlled and democratically elected and representative, but it has already got way past that point. The alternative is simply what it always has been, we must learn to relate better among each other in more natural ways, so that we have to rely less on top down state bureaucratic ways and means, that are not healthy for individuals or communities or the general culture in the middle to long term.

I intend to fill out the details of this more in future posts, this has just been a preamble to give a flavor of where my thinking currently is.

Mainstream Media

Where did things go so wrong with the media? I have seen for a long time how things have steadily got worse over the years with the mainstream media. More contrived and uniform in their narrative, more blatant in their manipulation of people into line with that narrative. They have clearly worked hard to master the science of mass manipulation of people. From what ideology to get people to promote, to what emotional reaction for people to have to certain terms or to certain people in the public eye.

And I am seeing the ability of people to be self aware and critical of this process lessen and weaken with each passing year. It alternately frustrates, worries and depresses me to see what is happening. This I think is where it is mainly going wrong. The media have got much better at the science of mass manipulation of people in line with ideologies and narratives, and people have got much worse at critical thinking. The depressing thing I struggle with is I am not even sure it is better that everybody be aware of these deceptions. Maybe they are better off in the ignorant bliss of their ideologies and narratives served up for them by the media.

The recent introduction of much alternative media on the internet has, or had, temporarily opened up peoples minds a bit more. But I think that period is already waining now. Via censorship, via intimidation, via various smear campaigns of “fake” news, people have lately settled more than ever into polarised narratives equally blind to truths that the other side can present to them.

The end result is that there is no shared notion of truth in our society anymore. Just one tribe of beliefs against another, and its a case of choosing your tribe. Or if you refuse to choose one, face being marginalised from the whole debate and from the whole society. I don’t know what the solution to this difficulty is. I could promote critical thinking, of course, naturally with my background this would be my angle, but I don’t really know that would be a solution for everyone to think critically. When have we ever had a society of critical thinkers? Maybe I can open a small number of peoples minds up, maybe. I don’t know, but it seems slim pickings among a massive worldwide problem.

I don’t much like to think in terms of good, evil and such things. But I really do feel there is an evil force, or an evil group of people currently running our society, and it is bound to end in collapse for us all sooner or later if we do not stand up against them. The difficulty is finding “them”. Where are they in society? They hide of course, the true power in society always hides behind the scenes. But I feel their presence in the manipulative ways of the mainstream media. There is something sociopathic about the way in which they manipulate people. I feel their presence in aspects of our society, such as extreme unequal wealth, and reliance on resources such as oil. I feel their presence in the pharmaceutical approach to medicine. I feel their presence in over extended welfare states that are controlling more and more aspects of peoples lives. From what they should believe in, what ideology they should adopt, to what type of education they should get, to what things they should be allowed to say even in public. The evil is infecting us in many areas and from many sides, and it feels at times almost impossible to stand up to it.

But I think this, I guess, is still what must be done, even if the odds are not looking good. Even if most people currently are still happy with this current state of affairs. Because things are on a bad trajectory, and big changes are going to be needed in our whole outlook and our thinking about the world to alter that. Complacent people who think we can just continue riding a wave of technological progress are in for a rude awakening. This naive optimism is now well outdated.

In one direction we can have a move to more nationalistic movements to secure national representation of people. I.e democracy, with all the dangers of course that brings in terms of wars between nations etc.. In the other direction we have a continued path of “globalisation” and global governance where we will be sacrificing many of our democratic rights because our votes will be increasingly worthless in this system. And we will be reliant on the benevolence of the technocrats to have our best interests in minds. I think both have a lot of dangers, but my sense of the evil of our current powerful figures in society tends to make me extra sceptical of the globalist latter route. Maybe there is some other direction but it is difficult to make advances and find openings there, given how polarised the debate currently is, and given how the two sides refuse to engage in reasonable debate with each other. So here is some where we need to start making changes: dialogue, reasonable dialogue and debate between adult human beings. I hope we can achieve this sooner rather than later and brush aside the mainstream medias polarising narratives and hate-baiting narratives, and brush aside the infantile political correctness safe space, rushing to take offence or play victim approach. For instance, maybe there is a way for global governance to be accountable to people with changes to the system. But for that to get started we will need to not have the wealth of the world concentrated in such a small number of people. For with such a concentration of wealth, accountable governance will never happen.