Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’

Eschewing the Enlightenment

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

Dear Friends,

It seems to me, we are loosing the advancements of the enlightenment, and it is being done by the very people who claim to be it’s heirs. The Enlightenment was a philosophical advancement that allowed humanity to move into the space age. Since all scientific advancement is preceded by a philosophical advance, our modern era of scientific discovery and unheard of standard of living, required that philosophical advance. The basic tenets of the Enlightenment are, argument instead of authority should be the determinant of right, skepticism, the concept of natural law and empiricism. Today, the new class intellectuals, intelligentsia and our politicians, would rather us accept authority rather than rational argumentation, wander through life as babes, exchange natural law for the power of the state and the forget that all knowledge is based on what is sensible. In turning away from the advances of the Enlightenment the gains we take so for granted cannot long last.

The argument that there is a consensus of scientists that agree to such and such is a call to authority. That call to authority is magnified when rational debate is eschewed for fear mongering. Other than the number of people who’s lives will be negatively effected, what is the difference between a superstitious people burning a woman at the stake for being a witch, because of their irrational fear of witches, from today’s fear mongers calling for burning our economy, because of an irrational fear of global warming? They both rely on authority, they both eschew argumentation, they both cause suffering, they are both acts of self aggrandizement and they are both based on fear. If anthropogenic climate change were argued rationally, without vilification and lacking the blacklisting anyone who argues climate change might not be as bad as the alarmists claim, we couldn’t say it is a call to authority, but since it has all the qualities of a call to authority, that is obviously what it is.

Socialism is taught in our schools to our children without any skepticism about the past results at all. Moreover we are supposed to accept absurdity after absurdity from our leaders without question. In other words, we are told not to be skeptical but accept the word of our leaders and new class intellectuals, by faith. Our children are being filled with faith in socialism, we are supposed to accept that multiculturalism will not be the end of western culture and society, we are to be faithful to the media that calls itself unbiased, despite the absurdities we are force fed by them. The only thing we are skeptical about today are the miracles documented in the Bible, the words of the Founding Fathers and our own sense of right and wrong.

The American system of government is based on natural law. Natural law states that each human being has certain rights that come from God or nature rather than government. The Bill of Rights is based on natural law, the right to free speech, freedom of religion, freedom to keep arms, security in one’s own home, and so forth, these rights come from our natural state not from government. Government however, or more precisely, those in government, disagree. They believe that all rights flow from the governors to the governed, or put another way, they favor arbitrary rule. Constitutionalism was based on natural law, but today that attempt to stymie the natural tendencies of leaders to become power hungry, has been perverted to empower despots. Today the concept of natural rights is being attacked by new class intellectuals and intelligentsia in the media, business, government and universities.

Saint Thomas Aquinas invented the concept of Empiricism. He said all that is knowledge is sense knowledge. Which gave rise to the term nonsense. If a thing cannot be sensed it cannot be proven true. Empiricism was then polished and plumbed by John Locke and David Hume. The idea of a germ is based on our ability to increase our vision with scientific instruments, so we can “see” bacteria. Science is all about sense knowledge, based in large part on our ability to magnify our senses with technology. Even Christianity is based in sense knowledge since people saw Christ crucified, witnessed him rise from the dead, probed the wound on his hands, then recorded the experience. Today some things that are call sciences are nothing of the sort, they are at best pseudoscience since they are not based on what is sensible. Economics and Psychology are examples. They seek to emulate the advancements of physics and math but cannot. They are philosophies that masquerade as science that we are supposed to accept as empirically true by the new class.

Human societies advance and retreat in science, economic power and justice as their philosophies advance and retreat. Every real advancement in human history has been preceded by an advance in philosophy. The Greeks advanced the philosophy of democracy, the Romans with limited governmental power, and the west with the Enlightenment, which led to the outlawing of human slavery, all the freedoms we enjoy today, constitutionally limited government to protect those rights, the phenomenal advancements in science and our natural rights. Just as Greece fell when they abandoned their philosophy of democracy for arbitrary rule and Rome fell when they abandoned limited government for a Caesar… our civilization will fall if we abandon the advances of the Enlightenment. Sadly, we are well on our way to forsaking them, led by those who are tasked with protecting them.

Sincerely,

John Pepin

The Philosophy of Liberty

Thursday, December 24th, 2015

Dear Friends,

It seems to me, no man can have liberty while the government is at liberty, and answering the great questions, leading to the advancement of humanity and the human condition, requires liberty as a prerequisite. The great questions are, what is Man, why are we here and what is the nature of the universe, can only be answered by free human beings. The great questions are a dancing landscape, a right answer today may not be tomorrow, and there are as many answers as there are people alive. It is clear, to me at least, that the aggregate of individual intelligence far outweighs even the smartest, wisest and most virtuous central planner. The great questions require liberty to be answered, because, every human being has a say in them, we all have a part of the puzzle, if we are told what to think, then in trying to answer the great questions we are putting a puzzle together, missing almost all the pieces. Liberty is the only way we can advance as a species, exploiting the cumulative knowledge and intelligence of every man woman and child, to the benefit of humanity, and can only be achieved through liberty.

It is an old political axiom that as the power of the state grows the power of the people shrinks. It is empirically proven by the mass of human history. Individual freedom can only exist in those places and times when the power of government is restrained. Liberty of the individual requires limited government but where government has liberty the individual cannot. To argue in favor of arbitrary rule, as progressives do, is to argue that a few ubermen are smarter than the whole of humanity, are more wise and more virtuous and therefore can guide humanity to a more human hearted place. To argue against arbitrary rule, as libertarians do, is to argue that people are best equipped to make the decisions that effect their own lives, better than someone at a distance, who doesn’t necessarily have the individual’s best interest in mind.

The great questions, what is Man, what is thought, why are we here, what is the nature of the universe, etc.. cannot be answered by a few ubermen for us but need to be answered by everyone for themselves. Philosophy can help but in the end everyone has to answer those great questions for themselves. In doing so we move as a species closer to the truth. Each time someone thinks about these questions and answers them for him or herself, then acts on their answer in their own life, we as a people move away from ignorance and closer to knowledge. It is only through our individual probing, probing that can only be done in a state of liberty, that we cumulatively reach consensus. Yet that consensus is fluid. As humanity grows in knowledge and wisdom that consensus evolves with us.

No individual, regardless of his or her intellect, wisdom or virtue, can match the aggregate knowledge, intellect and wisdom of the whole human race. To believe one is so is to be truly ignorant and arrogant. As a rope is stronger than any fiber within it, the human race is smarter when all work together rather than one alone. The way to create a smart rope of humanity is not to marshal people by the threat of violence, economic coercion or demand for social unanimity, to one end, but by allowing each the liberty to make their own decisions, right or wrong, to our own ends. Yes some will make bad decisions and fail, while others will make good decisions and win, that is the nature of the human condition and is the way we achieve consensus of what works and what doesn’t.

To eliminate failure and victory is to undermine the very mechanism in which humanity evolves. Each of us is a test subject, each city is an experiment, each nation is a trial and together we test, probe and experiment ways of living. Then we pragmatically examine those individual experiments to glean answers to the great questions. If we are all forced to live as the state wants, experimentation stops and humanity stultifies. We stop evolving and our very strength, our individuality is taken away. It is only in empowering our strength that we could ever have a prayer of answering the great questions. It is only through experimentation that we can get ever closer to the truth. Each trial, each experiment and each test brings us closer. Those experiments however can only happen when we have liberty. That is why the greatest advancement of the human condition has happened in times of greatest liberty.

Sincerely,

John Pepin

Bigotry is Never Progress…

Monday, December 14th, 2015

Dear Friends,

It seems to me, bigotry is alive and well today, and the very same people are responsible. They claim we need institutionalized prejudice to fight former institutionalized prejudice. Those people are the heirs of progressives of old, like Margaret Sanger, Woodrow Wilson and their ilk, who created the institutions of prejudice that are active today. The victims of their bigotry are different but their bigotry is obvious to anyone with their eyes open. Moreover, they use the term racist to quell debate and have bandied the terms, bigot, prejudice and racist so much, the despicable nature of the words and their negative connotation has lost most of their value. The reason progressives use bigotry is several fold, they get power from it, they get wealth from it, it allows them to own the debate, and most of all, they get a feeling of superiority from it. Humanity needs to move beyond such childish tactics before our philosophy can rise to the heights it needs to, to support our scientific and technological advancements, because unless our philosophy keeps up with our technology and science, those two legs will become unstable and fall, bringing our whole society down with them.

Science and technology require as a prerequisite, a philosophical underpinning to support them, else they falls over due to ignorance and bias. Civilization has three legs, philosophy, (which includes religion), Science and technology. Unless they grow together the civilization becomes unstable. If one shrinks as the others grow a fall becomes inevitable and most human civilizations throughout history have become unstable this way. They grow in science and technology as their philosophy becomes more human hearted, but once they have reached a new pinnacle of prosperity, the people are led away from their human hearted philosophy, by the elite who have become arrogant and egoistic. The leg of the philosophy supporting the civilization and society shrinks and the collapse becomes inevitable. In hind sight all civilizational collapses are obvious but the people within that civilization are blind to it, even attacking those who point out the obvious as crazy, like the Romans did Titus Livius.

Bigotry is any time people are lumped into groups by a characteristic. It is most foul when that characteristic is considered negative. Whenever someone says, “All of these people are…” they are demonstrating bigotry. It doesn’t matter who the group consists of nor the characteristic described, whenever someone groups people by a characteristic, it is bigotry. We can also deduce that group politics is based on bigotry. To factionalize the people and pit each group against the others is to use prejudice as a political weapon. Such scheming has been the progressive playbook from the beginning. There is no difference between Jim Crow and vilifying gun owners. Both pile dispirit people into a group, assign that group certain negative characteristics, and then pits society against that group for the negative qualities they have been assigned.

Progressivism cut it’s teeth on bigotry and racism, today progressives use it their fall back position, prejudice as a bulwark against debate. There is not a debate today where progressive don’t use their ace in the hole. They play the race card at every opportunity, sometimes to claim preferential treatment for this or that group, sometimes to vilify a group or to simply stop a debate that is skirting the truth about a subject. Progressivism is all about group politics. Without lumping people into some artificial group and either claiming that group is put upon or evil, progressivism would have no place. It is all about groups, like all socialism, the very term, socialism, means politics for the benefit of a certain group. Just listen to them deny the sovereignty of the individual for the group, “People need to start thinking about what is best for the greater good instead of themselves…” Such utterances put the group ahead of the individual and thereby are bigoted in the most general sense of the term.

The most pernicious form prejudice takes is when the bigot gets a feeling of superiority from his or her prejudice. This is perhaps the greatest sin of progressivism. Progressives get a feeling of moral superiority from their prejudice and bigotry. While denying moral authority that comes from the divine they find moral superiority in the banal. That is possibly the main reason progressives and all socialists, are so attached to prejudice, is that feeling of superiority it gives them.

At their very core, bigotry, racism and prejudice are comparative. “I am better than them because…” It is foolish to compare yourself to others, because there will always be those who are greater and lesser, and that leads to arrogance and anger. Bigotry, racism and prejudice have no place in modern society, especially as a political weapon. When you see it point it out, not as a means to stop debate, but to protect open debate and nullify the power bigotry has over us. In order to continue expanding in science and technology our civilization must advance philosophically. True philosophy is not bigoted, no matter the group protected or harassed, true philosophy is human hearted, inclusive and includes the divine, never the banal.

Sincerely,

John Pepin

Nothing Discredits a Philosophy More Effectively than Violence

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Dear Friends,

It seems to me, nothing discredits a philosophy more effectively than violence. Those that resort to violence, to hold practitioners, convert people to their way of thinking or punish those that disagree, disprove their philosophy more effectively than any logician. Violence is the ultimate admission that one’s ideas are bad, and that the practitioner of violence has ceded the ground of logic and persuasion, proving the wrongness of their ideas. This is a lesson that seems to be lost on societies today. We unlearn this basic simple truth to the detriment of us, our neighbors and our children.

This is not to say we must not defend ourselves. To be a pacifist in the face of violence is to relinquish the future to the evil and pernicious. The lot of humanity would be forever lowered by this, and as rational maximisers, we are duty bound to defend ourselves and our fellows, whenever violence, and thereby fear, is the means of persuasion. Those sophists who would use violence to extend the reach of their bad philosophies, have no self imposed limits on their actions, and would twist logic to their own ends without a qualm… Ends that are clearly not in line with a human hearted civilization.

In the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu said, the utility of a vessel is in emptiness. Meaning, if you need to store something and all you have is a full jar, it is not useful. The human mind is a vessel that can have the quality of emptiness or fullness. The amount of knowledge it retains has no bearing on it’s fullness or emptiness however. The attribute of emptiness is a factor of presumption. If someone presumes to know all that is needed then their mind is full and has no further utility. When a person understands that they don’t know, their mind can be said to be empty, regardless of their knowledge.

We must be discerning what we fill our minds with however. If we put dog poop in a bag that bag becomes unsuitable for popcorn. The dog poop effecting the quality of popcorn… and it doesn’t take much poop to corrupt a lot of popcorn. The popcorn does not effect the quality of the dog poop however. From this we can say, if we put evil in our minds then we corrupt the good in them, but the good does not purify the evil. There are several measures we can use to determine the goodness or badness of an idea.

Pragmatism shows us, those concepts that result in lowering the lot of humanity, are bad, those that raise mankind are good. Pragmatism is the quintessential American Philosophy invented by William James. From this we can see that results outweigh intentions. No matter how much we may want some idea or concept to be true, if the results are counter to the good of mankind, it is not. Therefore, we must discard those ideas that are evil, because by holding them they corrupt the goodness in us.

Presumption is the very essence of fullness of mind. Those who presume to know best are, by that very notion, closing their minds to other possibilities. Their mind is not empty, because they are unwilling to accept different ideas, it is closed off. But, as I said before, we must not accept all ideas unquestioningly. We must discern, by pragmatism, what is good and what is bad. To put evil in our mind is not to be open minded it is to corrupt our minds with a vile contagion.

Violence flows naturally from presumption like effluent from a sewer pipe. Once we accept the evil of presumption, we pollute any good intentions we may have had, turning them to evil. The results will be bad regardless of the intentions. To be free of presumption one must have an empty mind. Again, as I explained before, to have an empty mind is not to be ignorant, it is to reject presumption. Violence as a means of persuasion then, is the result of a full mind, (a presumptuous mind), a mind not empty but corrupted by the bad notions we have accepted, crowding out all others. Those bad ideas, ideas that preach violence, whether it is personal violence, State violence or any other violence, discredit those ideas. Just as dog poop corrupts popcorn… violence pollutes intentions. We must be empty of presumption, knowing that results trump intentions and if we embrace the evil of violence, we pollute our very own minds.

Sincerely,

John Pepin

Bureaucracy vs Complexity

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Dear Friends,

It seems to me, the main difference between bureaucratic and complex systems, is that bureaucracies are inefficient and primarily benefit those in charge, while complex systems are extremely efficient and the benefits are more widely distributed. This is a well known truth yet is overlooked by most people. This fact can be applied to many areas of life but is most appropriate in the sphere of economics. Overlooking or disregarding this reality leads to all sorts of negative outcomes, like huge trade deficits, lowered economic outcomes, low or even negative GDP growth, and even outright tyranny.

Bureaucracies are hierarchical in structure. This type of system is characterized by a top down decision making structure. The commanders in such a system can be a single person or a group of people. All governmental structures are built this way. The decisions are made at the top, the middle men enforce them and the people dutifully carry them out. Unfortunately, the natural evolution of this type of system, is for those in charge to become more and more selfish. Feeding both their greed and egos until all the efficiency is wrung out of the system and only the people at the top get any benefits.

This is only one avenue of inefficiency in the bureaucratic system. Perhaps the primary source of inefficiency in a bureaucracy, is that so many decisions need to be made every second of every day in a modern economy, it becomes impossible for any group of people, no matter how smart or benevolent, to keep up. The task is simply too herculean. Just think about how many decisions need to be made when you build a house. The floor plan must be thought out, the type of heating system must be determined, the electrical feed must be decided, the exterior siding and trim must be considered, the color of the home is important to it’s blending into its surroundings, the interior color scheme and trim must also be considered, the roof system and treatment must be thought out, the list goes on and on. This doesn’t even take into account the millions of smaller decisions that need to be made, like figuring the rise and run of the cellar stairs, how long to cut each stud, the rafters must be measured and bird’s mouths cut… etc. Now, magnify this a hundred million times, and we have the decisions that are made in a simple economy in a single second.

Command and control economies, like socialist and communist, are forms of bureaucracies. If we look at the historical examples, of governments that have been socialistic or communistic, we see that this paradigm holds true. Those at the top get the goods while the people get the orders.

Complex systems are distributive in their structure. Decisions are made at the lowest level possible by the people who have the most information regarding them. This distributed decision making structure of the complex system, is the fundamental reason complex systems are so much more efficient… than bureaucratic ones. As the decisions themselves, are made by those most able to amass the necessary information to make them, in the most efficient way possible, the benefits are also distributed to the people… not the bureaucrat. Another reason complex systems are more efficient is that they build in competition. Competition forces efficiency, because those that are less efficient, are surpassed by those who are more efficient. This makes the limited money available more wisely spent and thus achieves the most bang for the buck.

Demand side economics is a form of bureaucratic decision making process, while supply side economics is a form of complex system. Demand side, as expressed by John Maynard Keynes, empowers the bureaucrat to take money from the earners and spend it to drive up demand. Supply side encourages those people who earn money to make their own decisions what to do with it. The one presupposes the individual will make the most of their own money while the other presupposes the government will make the most of someone else’s money.

The upshot is that demand side’s inefficiency’s create incentives to corruption, huge government deficits, general poverty and outright oppression, the other, supply side, leads to economic growth, personal freedom and general prosperity. But demand side has one thing going for it, it empowers those in charge, to misspend money earned by others, to massage their egos, enhance economic outcomes for the rulers and create a perpetual ruling class. As Thrasymachus said, most people just want to be left alone but those great men want power…

So I ask, is it more important that “great” men have power, or that there be general prosperity?

Sincerely,

John Pepin