Water As A Person, Huh?

I recently inadvertently came across an article in the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law arguing for treatment of water as a person under the law in order to give it many if not all of the protections granted persons under the law. I skimmed it and had a good laugh but it then occurred to me how this article is a good exemplification or microcosm of the nature of modern language and of various topics in the philosophy of language such as the absence of any “meaning” for words other than their use and usefulness in any given context.

 
For the moment, water most definitely does not fall into any meaning of “person” except in an aesthetic sense created by poets or rhetoric. However, the same could have been said at one time for entities, concepts, attributes, or things such as corporations, unincorporated companies and associations, trusts, municipalities, states, and even the European Union which is now considered a “person” under much of European law. Hell, even rivers are recognized as persons in some African national legal systems and in tribal legal systems in other countries — even New Zealand does it for one of their rivers in respect of Maori tribal law worshiping a specific river as an ancestor. So, why not add water to the list of human and non-human entities recognized as persons by the law? Why stop at water? Why not treat fire, mountains, the sky, or anything else needing legal protection as a person? The Maori culture historically also worships ritual warfare, slavery, cannibalism, sexual abuse of women, killing of female children, and revenge killings, why does not New Zealand recognize any of these as persons needing respect under the law? Obviously, the cultural process by which words change meaning is convoluted yet it is amazing and impressive how smoothly and quickly such changes can occur when those in power want to change the meaning of words — even when the changes encompass or assume radical changes both in the background and in the foundation metaphysics and physics of reality. An obvious example of such radical changes in both metaphysics and physical conceptualizations of reality is the recent popular and very powerful adoption of radical changes in both metaphysical and physical meanings of the words “gender” and “sex” over a period of only the last few years. Despite this convoluted process, there can be described two universal aspects to this process of meaning change brought out by this simple example of water beginning its path to becoming a person: 1) it results from an teleological act of a will to power not from logical reasoning nor is it derived from sense experience; 2) the resulting change in meaning though it relies upon physical and metaphysical assumptions does not embody either physical or metaphysical foreknowledge — that is regardless of how ethically and thus aesthetically pleasing the change in meaning may be, the change in meaning will not necessarily change reality to meet the teleological motivations for the change so as to be pragmatically or even naturally true.

 
Reasoning does not care what specific premises, axioms, or whatever assumptions are used to begin one’s reasoning. Reasoning is at best a process or methodology for preserving truth however one defines truth not for gaining knowledge of truth. If one starts with true premises, axioms, or assumption, sound reasoning will preserve that truth and valid reasoning will assure it is impossible for the premises to be true and the conclusion false. However, reasoning cannot guarantee one is starting the reasoning process with truth.

 
Nothing in reality or sense experience requires an axiom, premise, or assumption treating water as a person. If one believes water needs to be treated as a person, for whatever reasons one believes this, this set or context of beliefs gives one the teleological or normative goal of having the use and usefulness of the word “water” be the same as the use or usefulness of the word “person” within that context or set of beliefs. The ultimate goal is to give water the same power as a person in our reasoning. If this act of will has the power of violence upon others, especially a monopoly on violence such as the law, this act of will can be compelled upon others to force them to have the same belief in water as a person in order to achieve the teleological or normative goals for the change in meaning. For example, the argument for treating water as a person usually begins with the premises that water is necessary for all persons to live and to enjoy life and that the abundance and purity of water is being threatened by technological pollution of water thus threatening human life. These premises can be derived directly from sense experience. There are then an uncountable number of conceptual options for dealing with these empirical problems. One option is the teleological or normative goal of treating water as a person legally, ethically, or even pragmatically. This is a creative option that is both aesthetically and normative pleasing but is not derived from sense experience but derived existentially and conceptually in the same holistic way we derive “I am therefore I think” and “I think therefore I want more than just thinking” as I have contemplated in other essays. Acceptance of this creative option creates the law and ethics and even the facts to justify itself and not the other way around: the conclusion and supporting facts are created by the act of will wanting water to be a person in the same way any act of will is created. It is not the case that facts lead to the teleological normative goal but the facts are created to justify that goal. An explanation of the creation of this act of will is not something of which we can speak within any language wordgame other than that of intention and will because this existential act of will precedes language as I have contemplated in other essays

 

Even the simple act of will of raising my left arm at this precise moment cannot be explained empirically or conceptually in any way but as an act of will or intentional act. Science can talk all it wants about neurons in the brain being activated that then activate electrical and chemical signals in nerves that extend into my arm but none of these explanations describe why or how “I” activated the neurons to begin this process of raising my left arm nor the nature of this “I” that started this process of raising my hand.

 
Once our act of will successfully leads to a change in meaning, the change will not necessarily change reality so as to achieve the teleological or normative goal for making the change — though it might. Reality is still what it is and we cannot lose sight of this fact. Conceptually, at present “person” has more power than “water”. By making water a person, though this raises the power of water to equality with a person in our conceptualization of reality, because all power is relative this equality means reducing the power of person to the same as that of water in our conceptualization of reality. What effect this will to power for water at the expense of person will have on the pragmatics of our conceptualization of reality is an unknown. Just as when the Supremes in their wisdom made corporations “persons” for many constitutional purposes, this change in meaning strengthened the power of corporations but weakened that of persons in the sense that persons were no longer more powerful than corporations. Perhaps the best example of such distinction is abortion. Making a “fetus” mean the same as “choice” is a result of the teleological normative goal of giving a pregnant woman the power of life or death over a certain form of life. The reality of that form of life and its death have not changed by this change in meaning and the final effect of such a change in meaning upon a society that allows and enforces it by violence is unknown. As the philosopher Thomas Nagel said about evolutionary explanations for morality:

Even if we took the most optimistic view possible, and assumed that in general men’s consciences have been approximately molded by evolutionary forces, the best we could hope for is that they should lay down principles which have been useful. Unlike the God it has replaced, natural selection cannot be supposed to possess or to embody foreknowledge.

If the human race perishes in a nuclear war, it may well be (although there will be no one alive to say it) that scientific beliefs did not, in a sufficiently long time scale, promote “survival”. Yet that will not have been because the scientific theories were not rationally acceptable, but because our use of them was irrational. In fact, if rationality were measured by survival-value, then the proto-beliefs of the cockroach, who has been around for tens of millions of years longer than we, would have a far higher claim to rationality than the sum total of human knowledge.

 

We can see these two aspects present and being ignored in the recent and ongoing arguments for the meaning of “sex” and “gender”. Empirically, the word gender was taken from linguistics and incorporated into problems dealing with differences among the male and female sexes by psychiatrists dealing with individuals who were hermaphrodites, androgynous, or had other unusual sexual characteristics such as bodies that appear female but have XY chromosomes. As with all words, even the word “sex” commonly used to mean a distinct biological male/female distinction has some vagueness and ambiguity as is true of all words because language is a social construct whose meaning is dependent on the context of its use and usefulness. Empirically and scientifically, defining sex involves many factors of physical attributes, chemicals in the body, and even conceptual genetic combinations that are not as clear and distinct as is commonly assumed. We could have more than two biological sexes: 1) male; 2) female; 3) hermaphrodites; 4) intersex (androgynous); 5) gonadal dysgenesis (women with xy chromosomes); 6) infertile persons; and probably some more if we really wanted them.

 
No one wanted more than two and there was no reason to do so until the 1970’s when feminists picked up on this sex/gender distinction to try to break the association of what they considered to be socially constructed male behaviourial characteristics with the male sex and of what they considered to be socially constructed female behaviourial characteristics with the female sex. As with the water/person meaning change, this feminist theory had a teleological normative goal of empowering the female sex by eliminating what they considered to be an unequal power balance in favor of the male sex so as to supposedly equalize power between the sexes. Regardless of whether one disputes the soundness or validity of their arguments, in the last few years these arguments and their teleological normative goals have been accepted by the law, academia, and ethics along with the assumed metaphysics and physics that justifies the change in meaning of gender for now but eventually also for sex. As I wrote in my previous essay Not Utopian But Heavenly, the ultimate goal of this assumed dogmatic metaphysics and physics appears to be not a utopia but a heaven on earth socially constructed consisting of angelic humans equal sexually because there will be no sex. Thanks to this teleological process taking over the monopoly on violence called the law, such a genderless and sexless society in which everyone is their own gender creating their own sex seems to be our future for the foreseeable future absence some catastrophe or revolution.

 
What effect will these changes in meaning for sex and gender have upon reality? Despite everyone involved pretending to know, just as no one knows what the result of making water a person will be, no one really knows what the result will be of  changing the meanings of sex and gender will be. Despite our inability unambiguously to define “sex” empirically as is true for all definitions because all words are vague social constructs, in all known sense experience there are two and only two sexes for purposes of reproduction which is a fairly important aspect of reality. These two — male and female sexes — are necessary for persons to reproduce and thus for societies to continue living. Heaven may be sexless but heaven does not need physically to reproduce. Even for test tube babies we need a male and a female contribution to the tube. Of course, life was not always divided into male and female. For hundreds of millions of years and perhaps billions of years, life consisting of single cell and even multiple cell individual lives reproduced and prospered without two sexes or any sex, there was only individuals. This seems to be the future desired by those who presently control our social will to power to change meaning in the wordgame language of sex and gender: a world of individuals defining their own sex and gender. The Powers have the will to power to achieve this just as they soon will be doing with the wordgame language of water and person, but will this change in language succeed in changing reality? If reality does not go along with our language telling it what to do, what then? Maybe the proto-beliefs of the cockroach will give them the last laugh on all of us.

Charity Not Love

The word love is everywhere these days. From the actual and seriously taken presidential campaign of Marianne Williamson to all popular secular and religious philosophies. (Personally, I loved Williamson’s campaign — for great comic relief if for nothing else. She seem to be the only real person in the whole bunch.) Love is seen as the answer to all problems involving human relations in almost any form. So, why is not “love” listed in any of the classical virtues going back to Plato’s Republic nor in the list of Western theological virtues? These two sets of virtues total seven and consist of prudence, justice, temperance, courage (or fortitude), faith, hope, and charity. It is with good reason love is excluded and I am getting tried of hearing about love as if it is a cure-all. When everyone seems to agree on a concept, one should immediately be suspicious of it as either a delusion or a con.

 
As I contemplated in my essay asking Why Does God Hate the Poor: Can God Love? Part III , love is a self-centered act and one side of a two sided coin in which hate is the other side. One cannot know love if one does not know hate and the reverse. Love is the relationship we have to that which gives meaning to our life; hate is the relationship we have to that which denies meaning to our life. Love is the answer? To what? What is the question? So, love of money, power, sex, rape, child molestation, your tribe, or the almost uncountable number of acts most people would call evil and which the evil love are answers to evil? If you love your neighbor must you not hate if not the evil person who hurts them but the evil acts that hurt them? Must you not hate evil acts? According to those who preach love is the answer, you must hate and punish racism, sexism, fascism, and much more in order to be a truly loving person. Love is not the answer but only an answer to certain specific problems. Even assuming it is somehow possible to love your enemies, loving their evil acts only helps your enemies do evil to you and to others and to spread their evil acts — however you define evil. By definition, to love truly, you must hate the evil acts of those you love to help them see the Good.

 
As is often true, the Ancients and the Medieval Scholastics were wiser than much of modern philosophy in their contemplations and so they intelligently left “love” out of their list of virtues to instead include Charity. Charity is considered a theological virtue because supposedly it cannot occur naturally, it is a gift from God in which a person sees God and other persons not as a means to an end — such as achieving meaning in one’s life — but simply as an end-in-itself. It is not a two-sided coin as is love and hate. Its absence is not uncharity or the state of being uncharitable but is simply its negation or absence — just as nothingness does not replace being as an state of existence but is simply nothing regardless of what Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, or their worshipers otherwise preach in their aesthetics.

 
Is Charity a meaningful concept existentially or in any pragmatic form or is it itself simply aesthetics? Is it used and useful only in the same way as the words “Pegasus”, “the Self”, “the Other”, or any of the other uncountable amount of words available for preachers of certain ethics and moralities to use to promote their self-centered images of how the world ought to be? Does it have pragmatic value for nihilism? Maybe. At a minimum, it gives us a word to use and is useful for pointing out the absurdity and the shallowness of the omnipresence of “love” in present society as another false god. Nihilists can do better than love.

Abraham And Isaac

The Old Testament Abraham and Isaac story is a favorite among both Judeo and Christian believers accepting it as a story describing and venerating the virtue of Faith as a theological virtue with a capital “F”. It is a simple but an effective authoritative story: God commands Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac in worship to God; Abraham takes Isaac to a sacrificial altar ready for the killing; but, just as the fatal blow is about to be struck, a messenger from God stops Abraham saying “now I know you fear God”; in his son’s place, Abraham sacrifices a ram instead of Isaac — lucky ram. Abraham and his children go on to be the founding family of the Jewish religion and nation directly and eventually Christianity indirectly. Even the Christian existentialist Kierkegaard considered Abraham a “Knight of Faith”. It is a very aesthetically pleasing story but morality has the moral backwards. Blindly following authority, especially the authority of a god or even the voice of God that by definition can kill you if you disobey is not Faith but rational self-interest. The true test of Faith and even of faith in the integrity of a godless authority is the ability and option to reject its commands and yet trust that in the end the authority will still be fair and mercifully good.

 
I do not want to deconstruct the story of Abraham and Isaac. As sophisticated as deconstruction sounds, the result is always predictable: deconstructive interpretation is used to argue all authority uses storytelling to justify and demand blind allegiance to those who control the story telling warranting social justice struggle to overcome this authority with the new authority and the new storytelling called ethics of those doing the deconstruction — however this new storytelling is somehow exempt from this same critique. No, rather the nihilist option is to take the story at face value as the words of this story would be used and are useful in present culture — or really in any post-Enlightenment culture: a dude hears the voice of God telling him to kill his son and does it. Or, almost does it but is stopped by the voice of an angel. Would anyone see this dude as a Knight of Faith venerating God? Doubt it. Regardless of whether or not the dude actually heard these voices, except among religious fanatics, we would see him as a murderer or attempted murderer warranting either criminal punishment or civil commitment to a psychiatric institution. Gradually, our enlightened society has created a more benevolent version of God who does not need sacrificial rams to stroke Their ego — or at least no more than One. So, why is the Abraham/Isaac story still a significant storytelling tradition in present culture?

It is so not only for Christian existentialist writers such as Kierkegaard but even for the post-modern atheist likes of a Jacques Derrida and Emmanuel Levinas who wrote considerable contemplations on its meaning — though as usual, I cannot make any sense of what they wrote but also as usual it always ends up with the usual pontificating on the need to see the Self in the Other and a conclusion requiring ethics to overcome ontology; that is, they repeat the simple poetic aesthetics of the Beatitudes in multiple pages of convoluted verbiage apparently advocating having Christian virtues without the Christ all of which avoid at all cost mentioning the Beatitudes. Of course, Kierkegaard was not a connoisseur of clarity either. Both Derrida and Levinas and the like ignore the fact that the ontology of ethics is simply the morality of the powerful which they must ignore in order to achieve the desired poetic aesthetics — something which Kierkegaard at least has the consistency not to do. In their storytelling, Abraham is replaced by the Self, Issac by the Other, and God becomes the Good as they define it in any particular situation. In short they love the grossly out-of-date story of Abraham and Isaac because Abraham does what is expected of him by authority: say yes to its demands. Regardless of how much verbiage they write to hide it, unlike Kierkegaard who honestly admitted his goal, ultimately their goal is to preach and achieve the same blind allegiance to their voices as Abraham gave to his voices.

 
Let us take the story of Abraham and Isaac at face value as a nihilist would and not as it can be deconstructed and not through some hero/knight or other leadership or ethical worshiping story because as nihilists we need no leaders nor do we need ethics. From the perspective of nihilism as a morality, what does this story mean in the present and in any foreseeable future for post-modern humanity? Nihilism as a morality opposes and struggles against any delusions of meaning for life. It means that if you hear God demanding you kill your son or daughter or even a fricken ram purely as a sign of faith in God as life’s meaning, tell God to go screw Themselves. Do not do it. Do not try to rationalize doing it or not doing it. Rationality can provide a reason to do anything or not do anything depending on whether you want to do it or not do it and on whether you are looking hard enough for a rationalization. Except for gods, everyone really wants God to exist. If you hear the voice of God, you really want it to be the voice of God. If the voice of God tells you to kill your child, you will want to kill your child and rationally the thing to do is to kill your child. After all, it is the voice of God! It would be irrational perhaps insane to rebel against the voice of an infinite omnipotent Power. So, you must be irrational and say no. By obeying God’s command you would be justifying this arbitrary and random demand as a Leap to Faith (as Kierkegaard argued) and give it meaning. Life has no meaning. Nothing you do will change that. As Dostoevsky asked, does the salvation of millions give meaning to the suffering of an innocent child? No. Say no to a voice that wants to create such meaning: this no is the Leap to Faith of a true nihilist and their God.

Faith as a virtue with a capital “F” for a nihilist is based not on the ethics of authority nor on any ethics but on Acceptance of authority as it is: an arbitrary and random power with no meaning other than power as an end-in-itself. As a nihilist, you have a moral obligation to oppose any delusion of meaning in life because such opposition is what gives your life the only meaning it has and thus morally you must oppose the voice of authority even if it is authority with a capital “A”.

 
Is it imaginable for God arbitrarily and randomly to ask a believer to kill their own child for no reason other than a show of power? Sure, why not? God is God, can do whatever He, She, It wants to do — if you do not kill the child, God might do it on Their own. Whatever. There are infinite possibilities as to what may be in the mind of God or of the gods and Fates. However, is it also imaginable for you to say “no”? Sure, it is. A Leap to Faith is to say no, not yes. Killing for a reason is not Faith, it is reason. Not killing for a reason is also not Faith, it is reason. There is virtue in being reasonable and there is virtue in being faithful to an authority we believe has pragmatically sound intentions or good intentions, however this is not Faith. If there is a God, Their intentions are Their existential acts. With God, logic by necessity goes from the universal to the existential without being an Existential Fallacy. Virtue based beliefs of good intentions by God ignore the reality that God’s intentions are by necessity also acts; such beliefs are a denial of the nature of God not a Leap to Faith in the nature of God. If there is a God, there will be knowledge and acceptance of your nature as you are and were destined to be and not judgment of your life based on how the likes of Kierkegaard, Derrida, Levinas, or anyone else say you ought to be. You must give God the same respect as you expect from God — thus, just as you expect God to say “no” to any arbitrary and random demands for the death of an innocent, you must expect of yourself to say “no” to the death of an innocent when arbitrarily and randomly demanded by God. What happens next, is a matter of Faith.

 
How does this story apply to the faith demanded by the earthly gods of authority — varying from the power of law to the power of ethics superseding ontology as demanded by Derrida, Levinas, and the Other worshipers of Rule Following either liberal or conservative, Marxist or libertarian, and so forth? It does not. The Abraham/Isaac story deals with theological Faith in God not with faith toward earthly gods regardless of how much contemplation is wasted on pretending it has something to do with either ontology or ethics. F–k them. Faith in an earthly god is purely a small “f” and pragmatic. If these gods demand you kill your child thus by definition making this killing ethical and you believe there is good reason warranting such killing, do it as your moral choice and suffer the consequences; if not, do not do it as your moral choice and suffer the consequences. There is no moral obligation to comply with the authority of ethics or with any authority. Acceptance of authority with a small “a” is a matter of pragmatics. Obviously, if the authority has the power to imprison or kill you unless you comply with their authority, the moral balance is in their favor; but this does not mean you have to like it and give such balance moral acceptance — wait for the opportunity to struggle and defeat their authority. If you have the moral power to say “no” to any ethics or morality and by doing so create your own morality — what happens next is in the hands of the Fates and is a matter of Faith.

On Suicide: A Nihilist’s Memoir

Excerpt from my book with the above title:

What do I believe in when I believe that man has a soul? What do I believe in when I believe this substance contains two carbon rings? In both cases, there is a picture in the foreground, but the sense lies far in the background, that is, the application of the picture is not easy to survey. — Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Philosophical Investigations. Trans. G.E.M. Anscombe, P.M.S. Hacker, Joachim Schulter. Blackwell Publishing: West Sussex, England (2009) at ¶422.

Technological Society is making enormous progress in the goal of eliminating physical violence and its pain from the world. Soon, the use and usefulness of physical violence as a means of social struggle will be limited to the ethics with a monopoly on violence called law. Part of this progress will include the acceptance of suicide or euthanasia as it is sometimes called as a pain killer option for physical violence inflicted upon the individual by the universe such as aging and physical sickness. I have never had a problem with this acceptance nor is it an aspect of Despair. The natural course of events will eventually allow for suicide in euthanasia form to become an acceptable social practice, this acceptance has no effect upon acceptance of suicide as an act of the soul rejecting life. However, with this acceptance, the distinction between suicide of the body and suicide of the soul will become important. If suicide is socially accepted and allowed as a permanent pain killer for physical pain that makes life not worth living why not allow it for Despair in life as not worth living?

 
I do not want to get into metaphysical arguments as to whether there is a mind/body distinction; as Camus said in the beginning epigram of this book, these are games that keep me busy in life after I have decided life is worth living but do answer the question of whether it is worth living. Philosophers and the Other so disposed may ridicule the soul as a category error, but for one who is truly contemplating suicide not just pretending to do so, questioning the meaning of life and finding no answer is a distinct reality from asking whether one should take antidepressants for breakfast to get through the day. Whether or not the brain may or may not need the latter does not answer the former question. These are distinct wordgames. The holistic whole of the Self and Other suffer Despair not the brain or any other part of the whole individual; The brain may need drugs to make it through the day but I want an answer to my question on the meaning of life to make it through life without contemplation of suicide and suicide.

 
Ignoring such a conceptional distinction is a symptom one is not actually contemplating suicide but only engaging in aesthetics in order to avoid its contemplation; it is a sign of delusion and incompleteness in one’s philosophy making it hypocritical at best as popular reasoning and fundamentally unsound as intellectual reasoning. Physicists when resolving their physics problems now ignore the nonsensical nature of i and the infinity (∞) within π and e, however ignoring them does not change the fact that the concept of √-1 is conceptually different from √1 nor does it solve Zeno’s Paradoxes or Thomson’s Lamp Paradox that occur when treating ∞ as a sense experience or even as a number. Such ignoring of conceptual problems is allowed physicists so they may achieve the predictive meanings of their wordgames. Philosophy is not seeking predictive meaning for life to resolve Despair but meaning in an existential sense. Analogously, scientists, so-called cognitive scientists, and other pragmatists trying to eliminate sense experience symptoms of Despair may ignore the homunculus fallacy when trying to eliminate empirical symptoms of Despair, but such ignoring does not solve my Despair nor anyone’s Despair; even if eliminative materialists are correct in arguing that the pronoun “I” simply represents a collection of chemicals in the brain, this does not change the fact that I feel Despair at such a description of reality regardless of how powerful the “I” of those who fabricate such descriptions feel from their materialist wordgame and the tenure and popularity it gives them among those who share their Blue Pill.

 

Philosophers who ignore a conceptual difference between the body and the soul in the “one truly serious philosophical problem” expressed by Despair are either in Despair themselves and have taken a Blue Pill to ignore it or God has given them the gift of being a god for whom existence is an end-in-itself — in which case, they most likely have no soul thus the question at issue does not matter. I am therefore I think and I want more than just thinking from life is the reality leading me to Despair; if one is satisfied solely with the aesthetics of thinking as an end-in-itself, then luckily one is saved from Despair. I know Despair even in moments cold-bloodedly free of any pain. In fact, it is in these moments free of pain in which Despair is most likely to lead one to suicide in the sense of it being a rejection of life: not just as a shock reaction to physical pain in which my act of suicide may be an affirmation of life. Suicide of the soul involves a denial of life done with a clear mind seeing life for the random and arbitrary farce it is and rejecting it.

 
I therefore submit the following definition for the “soul”: it is that aspect of the holistic individual that seeks meaning in life beyond mere existence. It is the attribute of the holistic individual that makes my present contemplation possible.

The “Other”

The “problem of the mind” is a major divide between analytic and continental philosophy. Right off, as an example of the divide, I have committed an insult to post-modern social justice theory based on continental philosophy by referring to this contemplation as a “problem”.  It is not a problem for them, supposedly, instead it is a mystery to be enjoyed — or else be punished for not enjoying it.

For analytic philosophy, the mind is something one rationally and even logically contemplates. “I think, therefore I am” allows me to conclude I absolutely in all possible worlds in which I think, I also am. In such analysis, my mind or “I” or my subjective me Subject, whatever words one wants to use to give this concept meaning, is a rational conclusion to be rationally contemplated. It deductively follows the same is true of other minds; there are others out there who I experience as acting, talking, and behaving as I do so it is rational to conclude they and others have a mind also — the Other. From these basics, the nature of this concept mind for analytic philosophy generates libraries of analytical verbiage of the mind as a subject and object of reasoning, logic, and epistemology speaking of that for which they should be silent.

For continental philosophy, first perhaps with Kant but most definitely by Hegel, the mind is an a priori category; “I am, therefore I think”. For continental phislosophy including existentialism, I must exist and be conscious of my existence as a prerequisite for thought and not the other way around. It is my self-consciousness as a Subject that makes me an Object of my contemplation. It is my self-consciousness that makes me contemplate whether there are others — the Other — out there who are conscious of me in the same way I am or differently. This generates the question of whether these Other are self-conscious? Am I the Object of their Subject? So on and so forth into the convoluted aesthetics of phenomenological verbiage distinguishing between the “Self” and the “Other” of which I am already confused. In the hands of a Husserl, Sartre, Derrida, and many more speaking of that for which they should be silent, the potential of such verbiage reaches aesthetic perfection.

 
There should be no objection to the basic concept of the Other. All reasoning and logic begin with the recursive base case of “I am therefore I think” and then the recursive step “I want more than just thinking”. Analytic philosophy starts with the wrong base and misunderstands the significance of this a priori knowledge even to the point of denying it is a priori. However, continental philosophy is just as bad by getting the recursive step wrong and by misunderstanding the rational implications of these premises to the point of denying the very will to power of which they constantly pontificate. Both use the Other — just as they use the Self — as words with benign, neutral, or similar harmless meanings for their aesthetic use. For all academic philosophies including for ethics and morality, these are lifeless concepts not reflections of our Heart of Darkness.

 
The Self does not exist in a timeless, spaceless, or any type of vacuum awaiting the power of aesthetics to give it life. I exist in a meaningless universe trying to kill me — be it by disease, catastrophe, hunger, thirst, cold, heat, age, or whatever. If I want to exist and to continue existing, I must be ready to fight to exist and to kill or be killed when the situation warrants such acts. I must be ready to fight and to kill anything trying to kill me, including killing the Other, unless I am willing to die myself. Most of my life, I am willing to live and let live assuming I am lucky enough to live in a world prosperous and materially successful enough to allow for such an attitude. However, if luck runs out, the Self’s Heart of Darkness will destroy the Other or they will destroy me — I have no way of knowing which.

 
The Other is also not timeless, spaceless, or simply aesthetic verbiage allowing me to pretend I care and love others as I do myself. The Other if they want to exist and to continue existing must also be willing to fight and to kill or be killed when the situation warrants such acts. The Other must be ready to fight and to kill anything trying to kill the Other, including my Self, unless the Other is willing to die themselves. Most of the Other — not all but most — may be willing to live and let live assuming they are lucky enough to live in a world prosperous and materially successful enough to allow for such an attitude. However, if luck runs out, the Other’s Heart of Darkness will destroy me or it will destroy the Other — the Other also has no way of knowing which it will be.

 
We all share this Heart of Darkness known only by struggle not by reasoning, logic, or aesthetics. We can ignore it. Many do ignore it and live long and happy lives ignoring it. Some of the Other acknowledge it and use it as a means to assure their existence by using it as justification for their ethics and morality achieving or trying to achieve a monopoly on violence to protect their Self’s Heart of Darkness from the Darkness of the Other Heart — perfect exemplification of the truth of this Heart of Darkness. The true existential struggle is to acknowledge it and to live with it honestly as a nihilist demanding no ethics or morality nor their necessary need for a monopoly on violence but at best with only a leap to faith to the will to power of nihilism denying all ethics and morality.

The Fading Out of Objective Truth / Part IV

The major problem of our time is the decay of the belief in personal immortality, and it cannot be dealt with while the average human being is either drudging like an ox or shivering in fear of the secret police. How right the working classes are in their “materialism”!
— George Orwell, “Looking Back on the Spanish War”, p. 164 of Facing Unpleasant Facts, a collection of Orwell’s essays compiled by George Packer. Mariner Books: N.Y., N.Y. (2008).

The theme of all my writings is that nihilism is not a problem. Maybe it was in other times but no longer, it is now the only sound solution to the individual struggle for meaningful spiritual survival in Technological Society that is itself at least for the foreseeable future the only sound solution to the absurdity of the human struggle against the universe to survive. Humanity survived the Stone Age that lasted millions of years, the Bronze Age that lasted thousands of years, and the Iron Age that lasted hundreds of years to reach our present Technological Society. Through lack of historical perspective, we describe our present as various Ages measured in hundreds of years at best and often just in decades such as the Industrial Age and the Age of Science — the first lasted approximately a couple of hundred years and the latter can be probably measured in decades. Our present Age is the Language Age and it will go back to the pattern of lasting millennia. Language and its control is the ultimate material for making power for all Powers in all forms of life in Technological Society.

 

In the West, the Age of Language has given us material power allowing the average person no longer physically to “drudge like an ox” nor shiver “in fear of the secret police”. Thanks to the power of the language of science and now of technology, the average person in the West is free from material drudgery in the sense of living a life of physical travail but the spiritual drudgery of seeking meaning in life has gotten worse. Further, there is no need for secret police to limit thought and freedom of thought any longer, the nature of language and the masters of the use and usefulness of language through the power of technology create normative rules that limit them opening, clearly, and as a natural acceptable attribute of Technological Society — physical threats and fear control the speaking of individual words but technology allows the Powers to control the words of individual thought directly. All my writings advocate a return to old school existentialism concerned with the survival of the individual soul in such an Age and Society. I am not concerned with promoting new school existentialism and its social engineering of the individual soul to create and maintain a world, gods, and a God in their image. I argue nihilism as the only sound morality that allows the individual soul to survive as more than a solipsist without being negated as nothing more than a social construct.

 
Indirectly, the individual nihilist who has made a leap to morality must accept and deal with materialism in their life. As bad as spiritual drudgery is, it is much worse if you are at the same time drudging like an ox uncertain of your next meal, of having a home, or of physical survival beyond the moment unless you are fully aware of what you are missing. Admittedly, many times, physical drudgery is a successful means of avoiding spiritual drudgery. When working like an ox, just as with an actual ox, one’s meaning in life is physical survival so there is no opportunity to engage in spiritual drudgery. As a human ox, one could find peace by an instinctive faith in a god but it may be only the nearest available social construct god and not God freely derived from one’s individual existential choice. I have no problem with someone who has known wealth or at least material prosperity to then reject materialism and its present successful economic subsidiaries consisting of capitalism and technology to take a vow of poverty or to see asceticism as meaning in life. I do have a problem with social justice theorists varying from Catholic priests to Earth worshipers lecturing to the poor and the working class that they most abandon their materialist consumerism to find peace in life by living as ascetics in harmony with the universe. The poor and much of the working class may find peace in life in such a way but it will be in the same way prisoners find peace in life through poverty: simply because they have no other choice. F–k the universe; it will eventually kill me but that does not require that I have to like it and accept its indifference to my existence. Nihilism is about the individual knowing reality as it is, not as it ought to be, and doing something with this knowledge. A nihilist who based on life experience rejects wealth, economic materialism, consumerism, or even the hedonism of Brave New World and then preaches rejection of them to workers who have not experienced them is a secular religious fanatic not a nihilist.

 

For nihilism, the truth and morality of the struggle with physical drudgery is pragmatic: if it works to physically make my life healthier, wealthier, and free of physically working like an ox, then it is true including morally true. If an individual who accepts such pragmatic moral truth wants to use that truth existentially to reject it, fine, but this does not negate the pragmatic nature of truth.

 
It is struggle with spiritual drudgery in the Age of Language that is the most difficult challenge for nihilism. All others who conceptually struggle with this spiritual drudgery — varying from agnostics onto true believers of both secular and theist religions and onto the most mathematical and rationalist scientists — knowingly agree only on their joint opposition to nihilism with all considering it a problem and an evil to be opposed and beaten. They are also all knowingly or unknowingly in denial as to the consequences of their opposition to nihilism:

Love of truth is one of the strongest motives for replacing what really happens by a streamlined account, or, to express it in a less polite matter, love of truth is one of the strongest motives for lying to oneself and to others. Besides, the quantum theory seems to show, in the precise manner so much beloved by the admirers of science, that reality is either one, which means there are no observers and no things observed, or it is many, in which case what is found does not exist in itself but depends on the approach chosen.
— Feyerabend, Paul. Against Method. Verso: N.Y., N.Y. (4th New Edition, 2010) p. 259.

Because language is a social construct, the existential individual described in language ultimately becomes either a social construct with no individuality in reality outside of language or a solipsist whose individuality is the only reality in language — both of which are nonsense but either work to allow Technological Society to survive and continue: the individual becomes either a worker bee lost in the many or a solitary lonely individual outcaste from the many, either way they are no threat to the Powers. This is true regardless of whether it is the aesthetic and instrumentalist language of science or the aesthetic and normative language of new school existentialism and its post-modern social justice social engineering. Only nihilism avoids both of these two resulting attributes of any language by accepting reality as it is: other than pragmatic truth, the only truth is the knowledge that there is no truth. The individual nihilist knows the universe as it is in the same way science knows reality by accepting not truth but falsification.

 
Once the individual is free of physical drudgery, it is nihilism that creates freedom from spiritual drudgery in the Age of Language. What will the individual do with the freedom provided by nihilism? For some who do not make the leap to morality, it may be a will to death instead of a will to life; for some it will be a will to power to become one of the Powers or a god using the aesthetics of scientific or mathematical language to bind even God; for others who make a leap to morality, it will be finding the companionship and love of other souls; for others it will be the hate of other souls; for some it will be one of the three absurd heros described by Camus: an actor who lives in the delusion of the moment, a conqueror who lives in history not outside of it, a Don Juan who achieves eternity through the timelessness of living in the moment; for some it will be a pragmatic acceptance of life as a wage slave as a means for happiness in this life with hope for a next; for others it will be a will to power as a Knight of Faith among the Powers; the options are uncountable.

 
What will be true of all these nihilist leaps to morality is that the Powers will not be able to count on any of these individual souls as a means for maintaining power based on prescriptive or evaluative normative obligation — that is as ethical obligations. The power of the Powers will derive from these nihilist choices only if they satisfy the pragmatic truth of these choices — they will not be able to justify power solely as an end in itself. If they fail in such satisfaction, the individual nihilist soul’s acceptance of the Powers — be it as wage slave, another Power, or whatever — may be taken away and the Powers fought and struggle begins. There is no moral obligation to believe in anything nor to trust anyone other than oneself or the authority one accepts as meaning in life — be it God, a god, or rebellion against all gods. That choice may be pre-destined or determined but only in language, existentially one’s soul is what it is and can never be anything else. Ultimately, existentially outside the delusion of language, freedom may consist only of knowing that one is not free but in nihilism this truth is enough and can be accepted or be rejected as a basis for meaning in life.

The Fading Out of Objective Truth / Part III

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.                                                         — Winston Churchill

Hopefully even in the present United States education system, by middle school, students learn the old school lesson that the United States though called a democracy is not and was never intended to be a democracy — unless perhaps if by “democracy” one means its old school classical definition that includes a republic such as the Spartan and Roman Republics. What it was intended to be are open questions. The best description of the present reality of United States political culture and of its foreseeable future in Technological Society is to call it a “capitalist anarchy”. In United States Technological Society, the political culture consists of two systems: 1) the economic and technological system operated by CEOs, CFOs, other corporate officers, corporate boards, investment bankers, and their politicians, lawyers, propagandists, bankers, and academics using plantations of wage slaves through quantitative methods to generate monetary material power and then 2) there are a bunch of politicians and their technocrats, lawyers, propagandists, and academics that are jealous of the capitalist powers but too mathematically incompetent to join them so they achieve power by acting as overseers keeping peace between the capitalists and their wage slaves. This is analogous to Orwell’s distinction between the Inner and Outer Party and on a more practical level exemplifies Putt’s Law and Putt’s Corollary in action in Technological Society creating a distinction between technicians and the Powers and technocrats that rule them. The holistic whole of this capitalist anarchy is supposed to result in achieving the actual technical work of human physical survival while allowing for the qualitative human freedom to seek meaning in life. At present the politicians are in denial as to their purpose in Technological Society and are in anarchy with almost none of them having a clue as to what they are doing or supposed to be doing; they know only that they need to stay in power regardless of what they do with that power and thus are full-time running around trying to win elections from voters who have even less of a clue as to what they or the politicians are supposed to be doing or of the substantive results of their votes.  However, eventually, this anarchy among the politicians will smooth itself out and the two branches of the Party will learn to work together openly and explicitly — which is not good. An anarchic struggle that causes some difficulty for the Powers is better than no difficulty at all. How would my veils of ignorance work on trying to deal with this present political culture of capitalist anarchy in the United States “democracy”?

The nihilist has no reason to fear capitalism or anarchy. Their only fear or more accurately the only political hate of a nihilist toward capitalist anarchy would be a situation of no struggle between the capitalist and the political anarchy of present capitalist anarchy because the lack of struggle would negate the only check stopping absolute power for the Powers. Nihilism knows that struggle is life.  As I have written many times, there are plenty of concepts and techniques by which knowledgeable politicians can deal with capitalism so as to achieve a viable society that maximizes both material prosperity and individual freedom with capitalism or with any such technocratic system struggling to achieve quantitative power over reality. Examples of such concepts and techniques with some hidden in humor are: The Peter Principle, Parkinson’s Law; Negative Selection in Politics; The Dunning-Kruger Effect; and even the humorous concepts of systems engineering written in books such as The Systems Bible by John Gall. The problem of viability occurs when systems of social power are not in struggle with other equally powerful systems of power thus allowing for the Party’s ultimate secular religion of the law to become our god having a monopoly on violence to achieve power as an end in itself. Anarchy by its anarchic nature acts as a check upon the Powers of capitalism in a capitalist anarchy and thus acts as a means to maintain struggle among the Powers and this in turn allows us to struggle with them.  However, this anarchy will disappear as every normative system in Western Civilization either religious (including Christianity) or secular has surrendered itself to the secular religion that is the law and its Powers. We the workers need either anarchy on both sides of our capitalist anarchy — both capitalist and political — or both sides need to have a rational acknowledgment of their purpose to oppose and struggle with the other so as to allow our class struggle to continue with the Powers.

Because of the nature of capitalism, achieving anarchy on both aspects of our capitalist anarchy is not possible conceptually or practically. The Powers of capitalism do not seek normative evaluation or perspective goals as their primary means for power — these come later as a means to keep power. Their primary goals are quantitative: material wealth and power. They work together using orderly and quantitative techniques to achieve this wealth and power. Any flaws in their techniques do not lead to anarchy but the exact opposite: hierarchical rigidity. At this point, thanks supposedly to competition in a free market, competitors that are less rigid and hierarchical and more creative will take over the market and the cycle continues. Regardless of how practically true this conceptualization of capitalism may be, my point is that even if it is entirely wrong, the end result is not anarchy but a technocracy wasting capital on recycling stagnant projects for the benefit of a few corporations, trusts, or whatever legal entities come to legally dominant the worshiped “market”; if the so-called market does not give power to new competitors, the old remain permanent and we get not anarchy but tyranny.

Our only nihilist option for protecting individual freedom and class struggle in our present capitalist anarchy form of democracy is to try to get the political aspect of our capitalist anarchy out of anarchy and into becoming a formidable equal force and check upon the capitalist aspect in order to avoid their coming together eventually to create a world in their image eliminating class struggle. How would my two veils of ignorance original position technique work on this problem?
My proposed veils of ignorance as an original position for making normative decisions in a capitalist anarchy become an issue on various levels but none of them lead to anarchy in the capitalist aspect of capitalist anarchy. One can argue that present United States capitalism is a dishonest form of capitalism because it is controlled by too many large corporations distorting and controlling market forces. That may be true but, again, regardless, capitalist theory at least acknowledges the soundness and validity of my proposed veils of ignorance as a technique; that is, capitalist theory wants struggle in the form of competition and opposes restricting and distorting struggle for the benefit of a few to create a world in their image as an end in itself. The goal of capitalist theory is descriptive and quantitative: to make money by controlling reality. Thus, from my original position of ignorance, I can choose the options that make the most money and act upon them as a means to control reality for my individual life. It does not matter to the capitalist portion of my our capitalist anarchy nor to the capitalist me whether it or I are making money off of democracy, tyranny, anarchy, or whatever — unless there is evidence one has more economic opportunity for making money from one than the other, they are all equal options.

Such is not true of the political anarchy side of our capitalist anarchy. The goals and political choices marketed in our capitalist anarchy are normative not descriptive nor even quantitative: to foster and spread democracy and equality of opportunity for all — whatever that means. However, the reality of these human constructs and of the Heart of Darkness within all of us that controls these choices is that the real goal is to seek power for ourselves and for the Powers to seek power for themselves. Increasing power for those who seek power to foster and spread democracy in a capitalist anarchy will eventually always reduce and negate the fostering and spreading of democracy. Here, my proposed veil of ignorance would require we act counter to democratic beliefs. It is only by believing in what will achieve democratic power and then by taking the opposite action can we control the Powers that seek and have power even in a democracy solely as an end-in-itself endangering my individual meaning and power for life.

Thus, because at present the Powers advocate and we believe in our capitalist anarchy that in a democracy all voters ought to be equal; all ought to have universal suffrage; and all politicians ought to be elected by majority vote; then we ought to act to achieve the opposite. The opposite acts would be to have required qualifications for both voters and politicians (i.e., education or military service requirements); limit voting to certain classes of voters voting for certain classes of politicians ( i.e., Congress should have a certain number of physicists but only physicists can vote for them); and to have politicians elected based upon diverse voting methods varying from random picks to specifically required qualified politicians ( i.e., science degrees or other specific degrees as needed for the problems of the times at issue.)

The details need to be worked out. The bottomline is that the capitalist anarchy form of democracy we now have in which the only struggle in political culture is between an anarchy of clueless politicians whose only skill is getting elected and a disciplined culture of capitalists is destined to failure and will lead to no struggle and thus tyranny that will then eliminate class struggle. Based on an original position of two veils of ignorance, in order to save democracy, we must be non-democratic at some times. Eventually, the situation will reverse requiring us to go the opposite way. (A possible option is to consider adopting the old school concept of a jubilee year; every 50 years, all laws are abrogated and must be renewed or adopted again.) Nihilists must and can never be static if nihilism is to give meaning to life, it will always be a dynamic struggle.