Posts Tagged ‘mo ti’

War… What is it good for?

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

Dear Friends,

It seems to me, the utilitarian philosophy of Mo Ti has one facet that is applicable today, his argument… “Why fight over developed land, when there is so much undeveloped land that can be brought under cultivation, far cheaper than conquering a city?” The difference between cultivation and being accounted for is important here. The world today is all accounted for, not one acre is unaccounted for, even the great deserts and jungles are quantified and mapped. There is no unaccounted for land left on the planet, in terms of national boundaries, within those boundaries there is an enormous amount of uncultivated land, but none of it is unaccounted for. Where then is the unaccounted for land that can be brought under cultivation? In short, the “land” in space is unending. There are unlimited resources that can be exploited in space from asteroids like 16 Psyche, the Moon and even potentially habitable Trappist 1. So to paraphrase Mo Ti, why spend trillions of dollars to pulverize the world into a radioactive Hell, when there is so much unaccounted for and uncultivated land available?

The desire for more land, ideally already cultivated land, is what has driven most empires to attack their neighbors, rather than bring wild land within their boundaries under cultivation. The land already cultivated is usually better, enlargement by conquest brings notoriety, increase of one’s lands available for cultivation and increases the aggregate productive potential of the property under one’s control. Today however, with the national boundaries set, any war of conquest is seen the planet over for just what it is, war being the violent means of political ends, and political action always having a public relations aspect, the inevitable public revulsion at conquest must be factored in. That is potentially the only thing stopping China from enlarging it’s empire to include Korea, Taiwan, The Philippines, Vietnam, Nepal, Cambodia, Myanmar, India and any other nation that boarders China. Those are all lands that are under cultivation and accounted for.

The “land” unaccounted for and uncultivated in space is very expensive to bring under cultivation. Estimates of a hundred billion dollars to bring a permanent Moon base online have been bandied about. So in the capitalist mindset, strictly pragmatic, one could even say utilitarian way of thinking, we weigh the benefits against the costs. In the benefits column of China’s attacking say, Taiwan, the gain would be a bit less than fourteen thousand square miles of property. The productive capacity would be utterly destroyed unless neutron bombs were used, which would still utterly devastate the productive capacity, since the population would have to be replaced, the replacements would have to acclimate themselves to the mean of production they have stolen. Plus the world reaction to the wholesale genocide by neutron bombs would vastly increase the likelihood of a world military reaction.

The cost in destroyed military equipment would be pretty easy to quantify, afterwards, very difficult before. A bad turn of events in a sea invasion, and that is what would have to take place, would be more difficult than the Normandy invasion due to the terrain, would drive up casualties drastically, and a good turn of events is what it would take to meet the casualty expectations. Considering just material the cost would be in the tens of billions, but the lost productivity of the men that would be lost is incalculable. Moreover, Taiwan would almost certainly retaliate in some way. The cost of that retaliation has to be considered as well. Counting in the cost of replacing the destroyed infrastructure as well as war material, loss of productive capacity due to infrastructure loss, not counting the potential world reaction could drive the cost up astronomically, that fourteen thousand square miles of ordinance tilled wasteland, would cost China well over one hundred billion dollars, if everything goes well.

The cost of setting up a manned moon base at the Moon’s south pole would cost the Chinese dramatically less than a NASA mission. Potentially an order of magnitude less for a variety of reasons too many to list. If it Cost China ten percent of that hundred billion, ten billion, the total cost in money would be the same, however, the gain would be exponentially greater. Multiply that fourteen thousand square miles by a double digit number for land on the Moon that is available, plus the first one at the South Pole gets a monopoly one the only know available water on the Moon, plus the technological gain that would translate into higher productive ability of every other industry, and the cost benefit becomes ever more stark in favor of bringing uncultivated land under cultivation.

The benefit of invading Taiwan and the slaughter of potentially millions of people is, the leaders of China would be known historically, possibly forever along with Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Napoleon, Alexander, Xerxes, Cyrus the Great, Kublai Khan, etc… They will have been conquerors who expanded the boundaries of their empires by violence. The conquest of space benefits the people not the leaders, the conquest of Taiwan benefits the leaders, not the people. Remember, it is the interest of the leaders that the leaders serve, so while we can do a cost benefit analysis all day long and reach the same conclusion every time, those who make the decisions weigh the benefits differently. The dross floats to the top, that is why our leaders always rather wage war of conquest, than bring uncultivated land under cultivation.

Sincerely,

John Pepin

Morality Depends on Scale

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Dear Friends,

 

It seems to me, understanding human morality is similar to comprehending Grand Unified Theory, they both are enigmas that defy explanation and the difference is based on scale. It is interesting how so many phenomenon appear across scientific disciplines. While it makes the universe and God’s laws easier to understand this phenomenon also shows us the interconnectedness of the universe. We have only a limited ability to understand the World around us despite our hubris. When two dissimilar systems so closely mirror one another, it is clear indication we should examine them, with an eye to comparing them, perhaps gleaning some insight into the workings of either or both. Not one among us isn’t aware that our well beings depend on the state of society, a few less understand that the state of our morality is a crucial factor in the state of our society.

 

Grand Unified Theory is a goal to combine macro physics with micro physics, or in other words, Newtonian physics with Quantum physics. The difference is scale. Things behave impossibly differently depending on the scale. In Quantum physics for example, particles can be entangled such that no matter how far they are separated if one is disturbed the other shows the disturbance, if a particle is measured that particle is fundamentally changed, and in the Quantum universe particles pop into existence and back out constantly. These are things and properties you would never see in the macro world, the world we live in. In our world, things don’t just pop into existence and back out, we can weigh anything we want without materially effecting it and just because two things bump doesn’t entangle them no matter how far apart they move. If any of those things happened in our world people would call it magic. But Grand Unified Theory is ambitious enough to try to fuse these two disparate realities into one theory.

 

Human morality is similar to micro and macro physics in that our morality largely depends on scale. Mo Ti said he couldn’t understand why a person shown a black dot could identify it as a black dot, but when shown a page filled with black dots, that same person would call them white. One would have to question the viewer’s eyesight… Mo Ti was of course referring to War. The one dot meaning the killing of a person but the page of dots representing the killing of many. The difference is scale. If I shoved a gun in your face and demanded money, that would be a bad thing, and everyone understands that, but if a government does the very same thing, people say it is good. You don’t think government demands are backed up by deadly force? Try not paying your taxes and hold up in your home, threatening no one, there will be armed police surrounding your house before you can blink. How many other examples can you think of, where if you or I did an action it would be wrong and punishable, but when government does that same action, it is called social justice.

 

To conceptualize a Grand Unified Theory of Human Morality would be every bit as difficult as Grand Unified Theory of Physics. To observe such fundamental change depending on scale boggles the mind. How can physics be so utterly different, at microscopic scales from how things behave at macro scales, the scale we live in? Human morality is no different on this matter, how is it possible that an action that is wrong for the individual, right for a group? Because if you think of it, a group with political power is all that government is. How many times in human history have people done evil things to one another, simply because they were “ordered” to? In their minds and in truth the minds of most people, they lost culpability in their actions when they received orders to… gas the Roma and Jews, take food from the people’s own larders to create a forced famine starving millions to death, drive the Roma to another country, or keep quiet when we see people being abused, along with any of the other atrocities you can think of. Physics is so fundamentally different from human morality that is is startling when we find such a close analogy between them. It would serve the physics community well if they could come up with Grand Unified Theory but it would equally serve the human race if we could come up with a Grand Unified Theory of Human Morality. Perhaps the researchers in physics and moral philosophers should examine each other’s fields to get a deeper understanding of their own.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

John Pepin

The Slippery Slope of Utilitarianism

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

 

Dear Friends,

 

It seems to me, the philosophy of utilitarianism is a slippery slope. Many well intentioned people have espoused the utilitarian philosophy with tragic results. Utilitarianism, like Bentham and John Stuart Mill’s seem to have an empirical basis, but in fact are based entirely on subjective opinion. That such a huge mistake is made in defining them is astounding. Some of the worst atrocities ever committed by men upon mankind have been justified under a utilitarian philosophy. Even today utilitarianism under girds the thinking of many philosophers. The weakness of utilitarianism needs to be pointed out else our society is susceptible to evils from all directions.

 

Utilitarianism is thought to be a form of morality based on logic, and is often summed up with the trite saying, that which brings the greatest good to the greatest number. The pleasure, or happiness, (depending on the philosopher), is quantified and compared to the suffering it will bring about. In this, it appears to be based on a cost benefit analysis, when in fact it has no such basis. Mill tried to put a counterpoint to the strict utilitarianism of Bentham with his notion of the quality of pleasure. Quality being a metric of the goodness of a pleasure, torture my be pleasurable to the sadist but is of a lower quality than say, philosophy. In my mind quality falls very short because it depends on who is doing the measuring.

 

I am a bit of a utilitarian myself. I do agree that there should be some form of cost benefit put on an action, philosophy, economic or governing system. Where I fall away from the utilitarian ethos, is that I believe in an overarching morality, that of Human Heartedness. The theory of human heartedness comes from Confucius. He meant it to be tangentially defined as the Golden Rule but it goes further. If an action is not human hearted it is not good no matter the “quality.” Furthermore quality is subjective to the measurer not an objective measure. The sadist may believe his pleasure outweighs the pain of the victim but only a demon could believe torture is human hearted.

 

My favorite philosopher, Mo Ti, had a strictly empirical utilitarian philosophy. Mo Ti was far more empirical in his philosophy then Bentham or Mill. To sum up one of Mo Ti’s arguments… if we weigh the damage to the carts, the weapons, armor, infrastructure, crops, and the loss of productive capacity of those killed or handicapped in war, against the uncertain gain of winning, it is obvious that the cost far outweighs the benefit… This is far more empirical than any of the arguments I have heard made by Mill. Unfortunately the very caring philosophy of Mo Ti was followed, logically, by the cruel philosophy of Shang Yang, who’s philosophy visited suffering on the entire Middle Kingdom, during the Chin dynasty.

 

Another reason naked utilitarianism is so profoundly dangerous is that it is based on pure logic. The Ancient Chinese philosopher, Kung-Sun Lung, who argued in dialectic that a White Horse is not a Horse, was not actually saying a white horse is not a horse, but that logic and language are deficient, ad absurdum. In Kant’s, Critique of Pure Reason, he used a different argument to come to the similar conclusion… that pure logic is inadequate to come to any real understanding, because it can go so far afield from actual reality.

 

In modern times we see the results of utilitarianism in the suffering socialism has wrought on mankind. The communist, socialist and progressive all argue in utilitarian terms. The example, from each according to his ability to each according to his need, is a nakedly utilitarian statement. It assumes that most will benefit if the goods of society are forcibly, equally distributed. Pleasant sounding rhetoric but history shows the foolishness of that notion. Over one hundred million human beings murdered to enforce it to date. Clearly not at all human hearted.

 

Utilitarianism has value but falls short of a truly human hearted philosophy. It lacks the moral foundation of the golden rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you… the foundation of human heartedness, and Christianity by the way. Utilitarianism lacks the basis of empirically measurable reality like William James philosophy of Pragmatism, and being based upon pure logic, it can go very far away from the good into evil. That history shows us utilitarianism philosophies have been the font of so much human suffering is a sure sign it is wanting. That is why I say, utilitarianism is a slippery slope… to despotism.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

John Pepin

 

 

Morality, Groups and Government

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Dear Friends,

 

It seems to me, if something is wrong for me to do, it is wrong for anyone to do, if it is wrong for anyone to do, then it is wrong for a group to do… and if it is wrong for groups to do, then it is wrong for government to do as well. The democratic process does not invalidate natural rights. Government edict cannot supersede God’s laws, no more then a chair can throw off the bonds of physics, and become sentient and mobile. This should be obvious to everyone, but the percent of the World’s population that understand this simple and basic truth, shrinks every day, soon there will only be you and I.

 

If I as a human being have no right to do a thing to another, steal from her for example, I cannot empower another to do it for me. If I do hire someone to steal from another, I am as guilty of theft as the person I hired. If everyone on my street wanted the property of the people on the next street, we cannot ban together and simply take the items, without committing a moral wrong. Even if the group is very large, the wrong is not lowered, it is instead magnified. Natural rights are God’s laws, and it is presumptuous to believe that anyone or any group, even government, has the ability to do a wrong and claim it as right.

 

I believe it was Mo Ti who said, One thing bothers me. I do not understand how a person shown a black dot can call it black. But when shown a million black dots they call them white. One would have to inquire about their vision… This analogy compared a single bad thing, a murder, with a multitude of bad things, the killing in wartime. This is not where the logic stops though. The analogy holds for anything that is morally wrong. If I steal from you it is wrong, if I assault you it is wrong, if I destroy your property it is wrong, along with the entire host of sins… and I cannot empower another to do it, even government. We cannot empower anyone else to do what is morally wrong without participating in that wrong.

 

Democracy does not invalidate this logic. No matter how large the group is, that seeks to wound another, it is morally reprehensible. Even if everyone in the World thought, I should not have the flute I whittled from a stick I found, and mutually agree to take it, the act is still a wrong. If one black dot is bad a multitude of black dots are orders of magnitude worse. If I commit a sin, I am to blame, and no one else. But if I include the people in my sin, I have magnified the infraction, by drawing others into my wickedness. This, in and of itself shows, the larger the group doing a wrong the worse the wrong is.

 

If I hold up a couple walking down the street from a movie at gun point, and use the money to pay for cancer therapy for someone else, it is still a wrong. The end does not justify the means, the means taints the ends. To argue, the government will put my money to better use than I will, is self centered sophistry. To do something bad to one so that one can do good for another is the road to Tartarus. The good intentions are the pavement.

 

The opposite view however is favored by the political elite. They gaze longingly at the accumulated wealth of others with a lustful eye. They want what others have built and will use any means to get it. Money you have earned by the sweat of your brow is not yours by this logic, it is the person or group, that has the will and the power to take it. In the end, isn’t that exactly what is happening, when government takes from producers to redistribute to non producers, the elite can, simply because they have the political power to do so… without consequence? To covet the goods of my neighbor, to steal from my neighbor, to bear false witness against him or to kill him is wrong for me, and therefore it is wrong for government to do. Government gets it’s power from us. We give up a little of our sovereignty to government for our mutual good. Good never flows from wrong, but, such spurious arguments are the font of evil. We participate in the elite’s covetousness at peril to our very souls.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

John Pepin

Good and Bad; Black and White

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Dear Friends,

It seems amazing to me that, as a great Chinese philosopher (Mo Ti) once said, “This is something that confuses us… Take the case of a man who when shown a few black objects calls them black, but when he is shown a large number of black objects calls them white. He would have to admit his eyesight was in disorder and that he did not know the difference between black and white.” The “objects” he referred to were evils in the World. A few evils committed by a few men are obviously evil. But many evils done by many appear, (or are called) good. This philosophical distinction has implications in our daily lives and in the way our respective government’s assemble into political organizations.

When we see a person rob a store we say that is a bad thing. But we don’t examine the question further. Why is it a bad thing? Because the clerk could have been hurt? Because property was taken by someone other than the rightful owner? Because the environment is harmed by the burning of gunpowder? Or maybe because all these things amount to the same thing… that the good ordering of society is upset.

But when politicians cheat on their taxes or enact laws and regulations that benefit their political faction at the cost to society as a whole, people laugh it off. When confronted with the reality that a new regulation put in place for no purpose other than to protect a bureaucrat’s job will result in the ruination of someone they will laugh. Take another example that of war. How many people have been saved by NATO attacking in Libya? None. A grinding war takes a huge toll on the people and their welfare in a country. The destruction of infrastructure will result in hunger, disease, and poverty. The toll on the population doesn’t end there however.

People are the tinder of war. Human beings are consumed in the furnace of war. It is powered thusly. Therefore war should be taken seriously. Only engaged when the material welfare of a countries people is directly threatened. Because war is a large number of black objects and it is the definition of upsetting the orderly functioning of society, it is a bad (black) object that is often called good.

What about when a small faction believes it has the moral authority to demand others relinquish their personal right of self determination? Or that others relinquish their personal property. For such dubious reasons as protecting the Earth form Mankind. There is no bridge some of these people will not cross then turn and burn behind them to get their way. I have experience with people of this kind. They cannot be reasoned with or compromised with. There is no action they will not take to meet their ends. But they are portrayed as heroes in the unbiased press.

The example of abortion is glaring. Here we have the producers of modern culture claiming that abortion in the aggregate is good. To do so requires a change of rhetoric and abortion is deemed freedom of choice. The irony of people who despise other people’s right of self determination to claim to protect a freedom of choice is lost on most people today. But won’t be in the future. No one who witnessed an abortion would call it a good and righteous act. But veiled under a new name and it is a large number of black objects that are called white.

To what end are large numbers of bad things called good? Do you suppose it is for good ends? Is it in your experience that good things come of bad actions? Pile bad upon bad and will the result be good? I personally don’t think so. But the unbiased media and others, that create modern culture disagree with me, and now (hopefully) you.

Pragmatism

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Dear Friends,

It seems to me that most people are pragmatists. We have to be. To lack pragmatism is to ensure future insanity. Because when you live in an insane world you must either be pragmatic about it or go crazy.

Since most people are pragmatic we seek to get along in the world with as little interference as possible. As Thrasymachus said. Most people do not want to impose on others. But they are afraid of being imposed upon. That is why most people like the idea of justice… So by his measure most people are good. There are others who are bad. (I.e. They want to impose their will on others).

We are pragmatic in many ways. We add up the costs and benefits to most things we engage in. This is a form of pragmatism. We sometimes don’t fight the good fight because we have determined that it would result in diminishing returns.

To be the avatar of pragmatism one would have to be immune to all the pitfalls that await all of us. Like the sunk cost effect, group think, etc… We all vary in our pragmatism. (Or maybe we vary in our assessment of the cost benefit to a certain action).

Pragmatism breeds happiness. People who are pragmatic give up their anger quickly. They are less prone to hopelessness. These are the antithesis to pragmatism. Because to be angry has a very high cost both in health and relationships. The payoff is not as distinct. So pragmatism says, stop that which give us diminishing returns. To be angry for too long has such diminishing returns that the pragmatist eschews it. Hopelessness is the same. To be hopeless has great cost with no benefit. So why do it?

But pragmatism has costs as well. For example, take a good person living among those who are bad. Machiavelli says that a good man must necessarily come to ruin among so many that are bad. To be pragmatic in such a situation is to become bad enough to fit in. Mencius talked about this very thing.

Mencius said that the “Jen” man (gentleman, lord, Brahman, enlightened man, etc…) strikes the golden mean. When the jen man lives among many that are bad he doesn’t go to the extreme of bad. He seeks the middle ground in that bad land. When the jen man finds himself living among saints, again he looks to the mean of the society that he lives in. Mencius said that Mo Ti would run himself into the ground to help anyone. While Sang Yang wouldn’t pull a loose thread from his cloak although it save humanity. They went too far, claimed Mencius. Aristotle was curiously similar in his philosophy of the mean.

Pragmatic people do the same. Seek the mean in the society they live in. Pragmatic people look at their leaders today (and historically), and see people who make law to benefit their friends, making tax law and don’t pay taxes, regulating banks to make bad loans to people they know cannot pay back the loans then blaming the banks for the failures, have illegal aliens for maids, nannies, gardeners to save money but claim to be hard on illegal immigration, To name a very few examples. A pragmatists may not like what he or she sees. We may not want to emulate the behavior. But pragmatism, Machiavelli, Mencius, and Aristotle all say in unison, “follow the mean.” when the rulers are this corrupt society must be corrupt. Like virtue, corruption flows down from the leaders to the led.

Unfortunately the culture that we find ourselves in is a wretched as it can be. Corruption is endemic in the Elite in government, industry, entertainment and in society. They have been so corrupt for so long it has moved deeply into our society. Political corruption oozes out of government and onto everything government touches. Like a child, the grubbier the hands, the more they want to touch. They even have the gall to call evil good and good evil. Simply by changing the language, abortion becomes choice, freedom of religion becomes separation of church and state, freedom of speech is now too much information, the list goes on and on. I am sure you can think of quite a few I have left out… if you try.

This all adds up to an insane society.

How does this apply to the International Capitalist Party? Pragmatism is the cornerstone of our philosophy. Pragmatic in our view of humanity, pragmatic in our opinions about how to best effect positive change in the human condition, but, not pragmatic in our goal. To be pragmatic about a political goal is, not to fall into the status quo, it is to set a new status quo. Progressives, communists and socialists are pragmatic in their goal, total government, but not in their assessments of people… Unless most people do want to live under a tyranny, in poverty, with no voice or ability to change the situation…