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Monday, February 17, 2020

The Irrational Consequences Of Rational Politics

The people, who self-identify as rational, demand the impossible, which is to say, to achieve the ends without the means. Their politics, in the last 100 years, has been motivated by seven concerns: liberty, global free markets, atheism, individualism, anti-racism, world peace, and small government. But they detest reality and their notion of these seven concerns is utopian, which ensures that their political agenda is unachievable. Their utopianism drives normal people away from them. Instead of popularizing political values, the people, who self-identify as rational, have succeeded in demonstrating that political values have little to do with the life of the common man and in some ways are anti-life.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

On The Collectivist Character Of Individualism

Every individualist is an ex-collectivist. To become an individualist a man must cease to be a collectivist. To cease to be a collectivist, he must have been a collectivist. Individualism may seem antithetical to collectivism, but both have a symbiotic relationship: Individualism can arise only in societies where collectivism exists. But once the individualists attain self-realization, they join other individualists to create close-knit communities. Hence, the future, and not just the past, of individualism is collectivism—in other words, the journey of an individualists begins with collectivism and ends with collectivism.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

The Builders of Civilization: Masters And Slaves

There has never been a major civilization that in the beginning, or through the entirety of its existence, has not been divided into two classes: the master class and the slave class.

Ancient Greece, which is regarded as the fountainhead of western philosophy and science, was essentially a great slave society. Ancient Rome, which inherited the Greek philosophical tradition and developed it into a political and cultural system, was an even greater slave society. The greatest of all slave societies was the Roman Empire which at its peak had conquered and enslaved much of Europe, and parts of Africa and Asia. The paradox is that while these civilizations were making use of slavery, their master class made significant advancements in developing ideas of liberty, rationality, and individualism.

From these historical facts, three inferences can be drawn: first, the existence of slaves and their masters is a necessary condition for mankind to create new civilizations; second, the existence of the slave class does not hinder the master class from developing ideas of liberty, rationality, and individualism; third, all of history can be understood as the dialectics of collaboration and conflict between mastery and slavery.

Perfection Implies Imperfection

The man who knows that he a perfect man is the most imperfect man. A perfect man will be aware of his imperfections.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Religion And Philosophy

Religion is never justified by history and science; in an advanced civilization, it’s justified by philosophy, and in a primitive civilization, it is justified by mythology and superstition.

The first rationalistic knowledge that was developed by mankind is primitive religion—this happened during the Stone Age. When mankind moved into the Bronze Age and Iron age, their primitive religion had accumulated sufficient knowledge to justify elementary philosophy. With further advancement of civilization, there was a reversal in the roles of philosophy and religion—philosophy gained maturity and thinkers started deploying it to justify their religion. An example of this trend is Aquinas’s use of Aristotelian philosophy for making a case for scholasticism.

But if philosophy can justify religion, it can also belittle it. The fall of scholasticism paved way for the rise of modern atheistic philosophy.

On Claims Of Universal Validity

There is nothing more illiberal than to claim universal validity for one’s own philosophy. This kind of tendency is generally found in intellectuals and politicians who, consciously or subconsciously, lust for power over others, and are ignorant of the multidimensional complexities in social relationships and human psychology. Even when their ideas are rational, such people do not lead to good outcomes—they poison society with their intolerance, dogmatism, and totalitarianism.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Mortal Terror And Wisdom

The mortal terror inspired by the arrival of barbarian destroyers is the beginning of wisdom. People become aware of the seriousness of reality, and they acknowledge the value of their way of life, at the time when everything that they hold dear is on verge of being wiped out by an implacable enemy. In times of peace and prosperity, people become unserious; their politicians and intellectuals take the world for granted, they waste their energy in squabbling over petty issues and debating utopian theories. The best works of philosophy in the last 2500 years have been created in places that were in the state of turmoil—due to a civil war, an outside attack, or great intellectual and religious schisms. Therefore, I hold that mortal terror is the wellspring of wisdom in human beings.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Alexandre Kojève’s Hegelianism And Politics

I became interested in Alexandre Kojève’s interpretation of Hegel's philosophy after reading the essays in which Leo Strauss describes the philosophical differences between them. Kojève was a Marxist (possibly a Stalinist) and Strauss was a conservative (possibly a neoconservative); the two liked to discuss philosophy and politics, though they disagreed on several issues. I am reading Kojève’s lectures on Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit—the book is called Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on the Phenomenology of Spirit (edited and translated by Allan Bloom)—it has seven of Kojève’s lectures which were originally compiled by Raymond Queneau. In his Introduction to the book, Bloom gives a fine assessment of Kojève’s contribution to Hegelian scholarship:

“But looking around us, Kojève, like every other penetrating observer, sees that the completion of the human task may very well coincide with the decay of humanity, the rebarbarization or even reanimalization of man… one wonders whether the citizen of the universal homogeneous state is not identical to Nietzsche's Last Man, and whether Hegel's historicism does not by an inevitable dialectic force us to a somber and more radical historicism which rejects reason. We are led to a confrontation between Hegel and Nietzsche and perhaps, even further, toward a reconsideration of the classical philosophy of Plato and Aristotle, who rejected historicism before the fact and whom Hegel believed he had surpassed. It is the special merit of Kojève to be one of the very few sure guides to the contemplation of the fundamental alternatives.”

Robert Scruton, however, is not as kind to Kojève as Strauss and Bloom are. In his article on Fukuyama, Scruton describes Kojève as a life-hating Russian, a self-declared Stalinist, a dangerous psychopath, and a drummer boy for end of history. Scruton notes in the article that Fukuyama borrows his thesis that history has worked towards its end from Kojève.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Unserious Lust For Originality

The unserious man searches for ways of demonstrating that he is an original thinker, but his work is trite, full of falsehoods, and uninspiring; the serious man never seeks to broadcast his originality, but his work inspires because of its imaginativeness, clarity, and passionate pursuit of truth.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Human Porcupines And Their System Of Civil Association

On a cold winter day, a colony of porcupines, so Schopenhauer tells us, wanted to huddle together so that they may bask in the communal warmth and escape from being frozen. But the pricks from the quill’s on each other’s bodies forced them to draw apart—at the same time the cold forced them to huddle together. At some point of time, the porcupines discovered that if they maintain an optimal distance, they can enjoy a moderate amount of communal warmth while avoiding the pricks form each other’s quills. The porcupines didn’t realize it, but they had discovered a system of civil association in which an individual (a human porcupine) can preserve his individuality while taking advantage of the warmth and security that can only come from existing in a community. Here’s the excerpt from Schopenhauer’s Parerga and Paralipomena:

“A number of porcupines huddled together for warmth on a cold day in winter; but, as they began to prick one another with their quills, they were obliged to disperse. However the cold drove them together again, when just the same thing happened. At last, after many turns of huddling and dispersing, they discovered that they would be best off by remaining at a little distance from one another. In the same way the need of society drives the human porcupines together, only to be mutually repelled by the many prickly and disagreeable qualities of their nature. The moderate distance which they at last discover to be the only tolerable condition of intercourse, is the code of politeness and fine manners; and those who transgress it are roughly told—in the English phrase—to keep their distance. By this arrangement the mutual need of warmth is only very moderately satisfied; but then people do not get pricked. A man who has some heat in himself prefers to remain outside, where he will neither prick other people nor get pricked himself.”

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Atheism And Irrationality

In the name of atheism any evil can be justified. The history of last 300 years (in most advanced democracies) does not give us any reason to believe that the atheists are more rational and moral than those who are motivated by religious values.

The notion that the atheists are men of reason is not an empirically established fact; it’s merely an opinion that the atheists have of themselves. The truth is that atheism is an “ism”—a political ideology—and like all ideologies, it can be corrupted and can be used for subverting culture and justifying the forces of irrationality and evil.

Rationality is not the sole prerogative of the atheists. A number of great theologians in the last 2500 years have defended their philosophical ideas on rational considerations.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Two Types Of Racism

Racism can be viewed from two different perspectives: first, the racism that results from the feelings of affinity and trust that one may have for one’s own ethnic group; second, the racism that results from the feelings of loathing and distrust that one may harbor for one’s own ethnic group. The first type of racism is natural and moral and is generally found in the people with a conservative mindset. The second type of racism is unnatural and immoral and is generally found in the people with a liberal or leftist mindset. The first type of racism can inspire nativist and nationalist tendencies; the second type of racism can inspire multiculturalist and globalist tendencies.

Secret Internet For Philosophers

Friday, February 7, 2020

The Intriguing Question: What Is Reason?

The intriguing question for which man’s reason searches for an answer is: What is reason? Indeed, the 2500 year old history of reason is a prolonged search for the definition of reason. The 18th century was called the Age of Reason, but it’s not clear even in our times, the 21st century, how reason operates in man’s mind, what its limitations are, and what its relationship is to instinct. The philosophies are incapable of investigating reason because a focus on reason has the paradoxical effect of driving a philosophy towards rationalization and dogmatism. In the last 300 years, the word “reason” has by itself become a sepulcher that holds the remains of the dead philosophies, which, during their short lifetime, dared to overreach their aspirations and call themselves “philosophy of reason”.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

On Reason And Instinct

The first knowledge that a man acquires is through instinct—reason enters at a later stage, its primary role is to analyze and confirm the knowledge which instinct has acquired. The idea of supremacy of reason which the modern philosophers preach is illusory. Reason is not superior to instinct; both play an equally important role for acquiring knowledge. The modern era is not only an age of reason but also an age of instinct. The proficiency in the use of reason is the mark of a technical man; the proficiency in the use of instinct is the mark of a wise man. Progress happens when technical knowledge and wisdom march hand in hand.

Irrationality Implies Rationality

Irrationality is essential for rationality to exist. You can’t combat irrationality unless there is irrationality—this is not because the absence of irrationality would imply that there would be nothing for the rational person to combat, but because irrationality would acquire such dimensions that its spread would become unstoppable by any rational means. The contest between rationally and irrationality is never ending; it will go on for as long as humanity lasts—this contest invigorates our mind and makes us capable of producing original and fruitful ideas. It isn’t a paradox that the civilizations which have been the fountainhead of mankind’s greatest rational ideas have also been the creators of our greatest irrational ideas.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

On The Corruption Of Freedom

Freedom, like slavery, is unyielding and merciless. Genuine freedom has good outcomes, but most notions of freedom are catastrophic because they are either fraudulent or meaningless, or else true in a very limited sense. When the notion of freedom is blended with granting exclusive rights and privileges to minority groups, then it’s no longer genuine—it entails new impositions on the nation’s general population, and leads to disharmony, corruption, and degradation of culture. The ones who are mentally deficient may regard the sacrificing of the interests of the majority community, to give unearned benefits to the minorities, as an advancement of freedom. But most people in any nation are not mentally deficient; eventually they realize that their way of life is being sacrificed in the name of fraudulent notions of freedom. After that it becomes a contest between the majority community of the nation and the political and intellectual establishment.

The Pre-philosophical Achievements Of Humankind

The philosophers believe that they are indispensable, but their work is not of critical importance—by “critical importance” I mean the feature of being absolutely necessary for survival. We can live without the theoretical understanding of the world.

An advanced civilization will not be possible without philosophy, because the organization of such civilizations requires the common knowledge of religion, morality, and politics. However, we don’t need philosophy to develop primitive settlements held together by acquired skills like: communicating with symbolic language; hunting and foraging for food in groups; creating shelters and doing agriculture and cattle rearing; holding an elementary notion of the supernatural; understanding the racial and familial bonds; waging wars against rival human groups; having a basic sense of morality and politics (evolutionary type); creating basic art (symbolic and memetic) to inspire the group.

Since their appearance on the planet, our ancestors, during the Stone Age and before that, have lived without philosophy—they swept across almost the entire planet thousands of years before any philosophy was developed.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Reason, Faith, and Instincts: A Darwinian Case

If the Darwinian theory of evolution is to be believed, then all the species have developed their biological features because the exigencies of survivability demanded it. This means that all the mental tools that humankind is using for making sense of the world are there because they are practicable or conducive for survival. The process of evolution has awarded the same importance to our instincts, faith, emotions, and mystic insights that it has to our intellect and reason. Intellect and reason are not the only tools for gaining knowledge, as many modern thinkers claim; our instincts, faith, emotions, and mystic insights also play a critical role.

On The Essence Of “I”

The ultimate metaphysical problem is the problem of being. One being with whom all of us are intimate is the entity we identify as “I”. But what does the word “I” refer to? Does it refer to the body, the soul, or the mind? Those who reject dualism will assert that there is no distinction between the body and mind and that the soul doesn’t exist. But even in a non-dualistic system there is a differentiation between the mind and the body—the mind is regarded as an attribute or function of the brain. I can’t see how one can identify the essence of “I” without accepting some form of dualism. The dualism can be property dualism which envisages a universe composed of just one substance, the physical substance, which exhibits two types of properties: physical and mental.

Monday, February 3, 2020

The Utter Individualists

An individualist mindset is, paradoxically, an obstacle to the development of real individualism. The man who is stirred by individualism is driven to join groups with likeminded people whose philosophy and agenda he accepts as the gospel for an individualistic way of life.

The term “individualism” (“individualisme” in French) was being contemptuously used in France in the 19th century, after the bloodbath of the French Revolution, to refer to the anarchists and socially unreliable folks. Subsequently, different forms of individualism became popular with the youth in different countries: in Germany, there was the rise of a romantic notion of individualism; in America “rugged Individualism” was extolled in the early decades of the 20th century.

After the 1950s, individualism morphed into a cultish movement—there was the rise of cults catering to the intellectual and psychological needs of youngsters who claim to be individualistic and require privacy from society. Nowadays, most individualists exist in cult like formations.

Related: On Blowhard Individualism

On Moral Authority

Moral authority is external to the self and is vested in conventions and the religious, social, and intellectual establishments. There is no inner source of morality because all human instruments of knowledge rest on sense perception which lacks the capacity for bridging the gap between the “is” and the “ought.” Our mind may give us a clue about the “is” but to derive an “ought” from it we need to accept theories based on rationalizations and utilitarian assumptions. We develop our notions of morality through conventions and the practical experiences of living in society.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Old Habits Versus New Ideas

Old habits are stronger than new ideas—this is the rule that decides the fate of all philosophical and political movements. The philosophical and political movements which make the case that their ideas are inextricably linked to the old habits are warmly accepted by the people. Those movements which proclaim that their ideas are new or totally original are usually distrusted and shunned. The assertion of “originality” is an unintelligent strategy for a movement.

On The Importance of Faith

Without faith knowledge is not possible. Faith does not entail just the belief in god; in my opinion, faith can also refer to the ability that we have to believe in the unproven conventions and in one’s own or someone else’s rationalizations. Faith is necessary because certain knowledge of the universe is beyond the scope of man’s mind. The metaphysical and moral theories, which form the basis of all knowledge, cannot be rationally demonstrated; they have to be founded on faith (on religious or idealistic considerations). A perfect being, or god, would not need faith because he is omniscient. Man has faith because he is not omniscient.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

The Practical Politics Of Conservatives

Practical politics is not a vehicle for achieving anyone’s vision of ideal society, but rather it’s aimed at affirming and sustaining the way of life with which majority of the people are satisfied. A nation has to make progress (political and economic) at a steady pace to meet the aspirations of its population, but for the progress to be sustainable three criteria have to be met: first, the progress should not be in conflict with the nation’s cultural norms; second, the progress should happen with the agreement and participation of the people (it should never be imposed by an outside agency); third, the progress should happen at a pace that the nation’s way of life can handle. These basic principles of practical politics motivate the conservative movements in the world.

Burke’s Case Against Natural Rights

Man’s rights are not natural; they are manmade and hard-earned. The idea of natural rights is an idealistic abstraction which is incoherent in face of the practical realities of the world. In his Refections on the Revolution in France (1790), Edmund Burke notes that conventions—and not nature—are the basis of the real rights for man. This implies that man cannot enjoy rights in every nation—the rights are specific to those nations which possess healthy philosophical and political conventions. Burke argues that since the rights are conventional, they are incapable of rational demonstration. Man’s rights can be founded on historical fictions—what matters is that they should be widely accepted and that they should work. He warns that if the conventional basis of man’s rights is discarded, then the alternative will be “rule of reason” which means a rule by abstract principle, and that, he asserts, always devolves into a rule by brute force and great violence.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Every Gain Entails Some Loss

Every gain entails some loss—this is the law of the world in which human beings exist. A total or perfect gain in any intellectual, political, or material activity is unattainable. But this implies that man is incapable of creating a perfect civilization in which man may achieve his full potentialities—the idea of a manmade earthly heaven is a utopian dream. Whenever a civilization makes a gain in one area, it’s beset with loss in another area. A civilization can succeed in some of the things, but no civilization can succeed in everything. Nature, in its infinite wisdom, has not equipped mankind with the faculties for creating a civilization free of contradictions and conflicts.

On Blowhard Individualism

The irony is that every individualist is a member of some group; everything that he says or does, either consciously or subconsciously, expresses the philosophy and aspirations of the group to which he belongs. He is united in common action with other members of the group—they think that they exist for their own sake, but they exist for the sake of promoting the group’s agenda. To an extent, modern individualism is a farce because most individualists are dissociated from reality; they live in a make-believe world created by their group.

Related: The Utter Individualists

Thursday, January 30, 2020

On The Nationalist Revolt

Nationalism is the political response of a wounded people. People are made miserable not only by poverty, lack of amenities, and endless wars but also when their culture and religion are despised; when their ancestors and the founders of their nation are branded as tyrants and bigots; when they are falsely accused of being misfits, racists, and anti-modernists; when their way of life is attacked. At the heart of the nationalist movements which are currently surging through several nations in Europe, North America, and Asia is the story of the wounds that the liberal politicians and intellectuals have inflicted on the people. Today’s nationalism is a revolt against the liberal vision of the ideal man and ideal society.

On The Myth Of Choice

The choices that others make for us and the factors related to destiny or chance play a much greater role in determining our life than the choices that we ourselves make. We don’t get to choose the time and the place of our birth or our parents. We don’t get to choose our religion, culture, and race. Our parents or guardians are responsible for our initial schooling, our first language, the habits that we pick up in the formative years of our lives. Even in the later stages of our life there are several things over which we have no control. The decisions that the politicians and big businessmen make can have a far greater impact on our life than any choice that we ourselves make.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

On The Normality Of Contradictions

The contradictions between “fact and value”, “is and ought”, “reason and emotion”, “thought and action”, and “judgement and commitment” can never be perfectly resolved. The self-intoxicated philosophers, who preach that man must achieve unity between these things, have an incorrect view of mankind—they seem to believe that people possess a superhuman capacity for adhering to abstract moral principles.

The pursuit of unity is futile because people don’t possess superhuman capacities; our mind is a welter of contradictions which make it impossible for us to achieve ideal moral goals. When life pushes us into situations where our general moral principles come into conflict with our particular problems, our focus is on first of all solving our particular problems. There is nothing wrong in having contradictions in the mind because this is mankind’s natural state.

There has never been a genius whose mind is not rife with contradictions, and there has never been a philosophy that doesn’t lead to contradictory conclusions.

On The Possibility of Knowledge

The particular things in the visible universe can be investigated by using logic, mathematics, science, and philosophy, but that does not necessarily imply that the disciplines of mankind are applicable to the universe as a whole. It’s a mark of hubris to expect the universe as a whole to be logical, mathematical, scientific, and philosophical. By imposing mankind’s disciples on the universe as a whole we may never attain the answers that we seek on the fundamental nature of the universe. It’s possible that the universe as a whole is meant to be deduced through disciplines which lie beyond the pale of the present state of the human mind—these disciplines would be non-logical, non-mathematical, non-scientific, and non-philosophical.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

On The Armed Prophets

Nations get ripped apart by revolutionary upheavals when there is a confluence of dialectical forces; forces which involve elements of both idealism and reality. The central characters in the revolutionary drama are the armed prophets: the brilliant philosophers who possess great political skill. They have the skill for arousing the masses, leading armies, and their political activity is fuelled by a utopian vision of how society should be organized and humanity should live. The philosophers with an army or angry mob at their back can upend any nation—the politics of several nations in the last 200 years has been dominated by such armed prophets. People should be wary of politicians with strong philosophical opinions.

The Story of a Civilization

The story of a civilization is not a novel—it’s an anthology of short stories, many of which are unconnected with each other. A vast array of manmade, natural, and chance related events and factors play a role in the rise and fall of a civilization. No philosopher or historian can faithfully capture the cause and the consequence of these events and factors. To have a modicum of understanding of a civilization, you have to examine not only its books of history and philosophy but also the symbols that enable its people to identify with their civilization: their politics, religion, rituals, legends, art, and even their language, economy, and science.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Philosophy and Science

Philosophy seeks certainty; science seeks empirical facts. The truths of philosophy are the rules of the mind; the truths of science are the rules of causality and materiality. The positions of philosophy are contextual; the facts of science are eternal. Philosophy is often historicist; science is free of the historical context.

On The Importance of Attacks and Refutations

To say that a philosophy is not good because it has been refuted is like saying that the soccer game was pointless because neither team scored a goal despite playing very hard. All the important philosophies in the world have been attacked and refuted several times—but that has actually strengthened these philosophies, enabling them to dominate our culture and politics. Philosophical criticism makes a philosophy relevant by placing it in the historical context. The worst thing that can happen to a philosophy is neglect by other schools. For instance, the 20th century philosophy of Existentialism became popular in the 1960s when Jean-Paul Sartre was at the peak of his career, but after the 1980s, the philosophers started ignoring Sartre and that pushed Existentialism into oblivion.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Free Will and Morality

Free will can be examined in two ways: first, we can examine the freedoms that a man requires to be free of all constraints; second, we can examine the freedoms he requires to be held morally responsible. The first criteria leads to a barbarian conception of man and the second criteria leads to a civilized conception. There is no evidence of the existence of free will, but if it exists, then it must be related to the flow of man’s moral principles. Freedom is good, but over-freedom—or freedom from all moral, social, and religious constraints—has negative consequences; it’s a form of barbarism.

On The Theistic Hopes Of Atheism

Anyone can give up god and religion and become an atheist, but it’s not possible for man to give up his theistic hopes. The nihilism, immoralism, libertinism, and utopianism that is often found in the leaders and members of the atheistic movements is an outcome of their unfulfilled desire for a theistic paradise in the material world. Atheism is not a rebellion against god and religion—it is a project to create new earthly religions and gods, and to turn the earth into a theistic paradise. When this project fails, as it bound to fail because its ends are unachievable, the atheists react by discarding all values.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Conservatives Versus Liberals

The energy of a conservative is directed inwards—his mindset is traditional, practical, isolationist, and nationalist. The energy of a liberal is directed outwards—his mindset is alienated, utopian, expansionist, and globalist. When the major nations of the world are being ruled by conservative governments, there is less likelihood of a great war breaking out because the conservatives prefer to focus on their own nation. But when the major nations are under liberal control, a great war becomes possible because the liberals focus on minding the business of other nations.

The Gap Between Libertarians And Real People

Real people battle with the real problems which they confront in the real world—the libertarian scholars, on the other hand, dwell in an abstract reality where they contemplate an idealistic worldview. The gap between the political opinions of the real people and the libertarian scholars is unbridgeable.

The politics of the real people is focused on resolving short-term political concerns, because they fear that if these concerns are not addressed their life will become much harder. The libertarians in their abstract world tend to focus on longterm plans; their plans can even be utopian—having a stateless society, a global free market, a world free of wars—all of which will never be achieved.

The libertarians have good intentions, but the character of their intentions is irrelevant to the real people who are desperate for concrete solutions to their political problems. The real people tend to gravitate towards real world movements like that of the conservatives who speak in a language that the real people can understand.

Friday, January 24, 2020

In Defense of Irrationalities And Fantasies

Reason is an uncertain attribute. When you become obsessed with following the rules of reason preached by some self-proclaimed rational philosopher, you squander a part of your intellect and creativity. A stickler for reason is incapable of optimizing his chances in the marketplace of ideas because his thinking is too dull, banal, and rigid. Intelligence and creativity walk in tandem with imagination and fantasy.

When we examine the life of the world’s great creative thinkers, we find that while being capable of rational thinking, they are equally at home in the domain of fantasies and irrationalities. Giving vent to some fantasies and irrationalities from time to time is actually good for a man—it broadens the horizons of the mind, energizes the psyche, fuels creativity, encourages innovation, and inculcates hope and courage.

On The Problem of Free Will

Free will can be described as free only if there is the possibility of it to be enslaved. If nature has created free will with the objective of it being free, then free will is not actually free because it is determined by nature to be free. Liberty means absence of external restraint; it does not mean that free will is uncaused. In a causally determined universe, free will can be caused by internal factors but this means that it is causally determined. However, if our choices are uncaused, then our actions will be unpredictable and, that will imply that the impulses of free will are impossible to morally evaluate.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

On The Myth Of Man's Rationality

The philosophers define man as a rational creature, and yet the same philosophers thunder that their intellectual opponents are irrational creatures. I think, “rational” is not an objective term; it’s a relative term. When someone says that men are rational creatures, then you have the right to demand, “Rational, compared to what?” If we are rational compared to the chimpanzees, wildebeest, lions, cats, and dogs, then that does not inspire much confidence in the quality of the human mind. Man cannot be defined as a rational creature because we have a massive drive to act in an irrational manner. Philosophers ought to know this—much of metaphysics and ethics is highly speculative and irrational. A better definition would be that man is the only creature with the capacity for faith.

The Intellectual Infirmity Of Philosophical Movements

People join philosophical movements for the same reason for which they may join groups like Weight Watchers, Alcoholics Anonymous, or a Health Club and even a cult of fanatics—they are in need of group therapy. They have lost confidence in their own mind, they find themselves helpless against whatever vice they think they are plagued with—the vice can be irrational or immoral philosophy, alcohol, overweight, bad health, or something else. They want to belong to a group where they can find people who will influence them into transforming their thinking and psychology. Joining a philosophical movement is the sign of intellectual infirmity and collectivist psychology—it is never a sign of intellectual strength and individualism.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

On The Kindness Of Conservatism

The political forces which perform great acts of kindness are seldom forgiven by the intellectuals. The conservatives are categorized by the intellectuals as a barbaric, fascist, and racist force, but the condition of the poor and the minorities is far better in the nations with healthy conservative movements than in the liberal nations. No one can judge a political system but one who has himself experienced the political system—the best defense of conservatism is that the ordinary people, who have experienced it, like it. The intellectuals are the drummer boys of falsehoods—it’s safe to ignore their opinions.

On The Non-Eternality Of The Universe

If the universe is eternal, then there is no necessity for an ultimate mover or a creator demiurge because everything in the universe has always existed and is transforming and moving in accordance with the laws of physics. But the universe cannot be eternal because it does not contain any component part that does not undergo transformation. From common sense experience we know that all things which undergo transformation are either material or mental and have a beginning and an end. If everything in the universe is undergoing transformation, then the quality of eternality cannot be attributed to the universe as a whole. The universe must have a beginning, and if it has a beginning, then it’s logical to believe that there is a creator involved.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The Democratic Life of Socrates

There is a contradiction between the political views of Socrates and his way of life. In Plato’s Republic, he talks about five types of states: first, Aristocracy, or a state ruled by the best man or best men; second, timocracy, or a state ruled by men of honor and ambition; third, oligarchy, or a state ruled by the moneyed class; fourth, democracy, or a state ruled by free people; fifth, tyranny or a state ruled by a totally unjust man. In his hierarchy of different types of states, democracy is awarded a lowly fourth position, but in his own life, he shows a preference for the democratic state. Unlike Plato and Aristotle, he never ventures out of democratic Athens—his entire life is spent in the city-state. He eagerly fights for Athens in wars, and when an Athenian jury sentences him to death, he does not oppose the verdict. His pupils advise him to flee and save his life, but in deference to the Athenian laws, Socrates quietly accepts his fate.

On Metaphysical Propositions

Philosophy, unlike science, is never fully rational and cannot be founded on purely empirical evidence. Every philosophy assumes certain basic facts which cannot be proved or disproved on the basis of existing knowledge. These basic facts are mostly the metaphysical presuppositions (also known as axioms) which can be based on theological or atheistic rationalizations. Without such presuppositions or axioms, no philosophy is possible.

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Necessity Of Conservatism

The avalanche of highbrow books on liberty and free markets can be best understood as a sign that no one has gotten to the heart the matter, or that the truth about the matter is so ungainly or politically incorrect that no one wants to acknowledge it. Here’s the ungainly truth: liberty and free markets can be found only in the nations which are rooted in solid culture, positive sense of history, and religious morality, and where the politics is dominated by a conservative political movement. In other words, liberty and free markets are an outcome of the conservative way of life. If conservatism is lost, liberty and free markets will become extinct.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Nonsense Can Establish Sense

Nonsense is not always wasteful and destructive—the history of past 3000 years is replete with instances of sense being established through nonsense.

The cosmology of Homer and Hesiod was nonsense, but their legends played a seminal role in the evolution of Ancient Greek culture and philosophy. In their search for a method of turning base metals into gold, the alchemists of the Middle Ages discovered several important facts of chemistry. In 13th century, Thomas Aquinas wanted to prove the existence of god but his efforts led to the rise of Aristotelian philosophy in Europe. In the 17th century, the scientists trying to prove the phlogiston theory of combustion managed to discover oxygen. The quest for the mythical golden city of El Dorado inspired the Spaniards in the 16th century to undertake risky expeditions to South America. The quest for the mythical island of Terra Australis inspired the exploration of the Southern Hemisphere between the 15th and 18th centuries.

Human beings make their greatest achievements when they work for some purpose—it doesn’t matter whether the purpose is sensible or nonsensical. People often get inspired by nonsensical ideas to take great risks and make great sacrifices which lead to great achievements.

On The Dogma Of Individualism

When a philosophy movement takes individualism as its driving principle, it becomes the preacher of a new form of conformism which regards individualism as a dogma. Its followers are convinced that by conforming with the thinking of their movement’s philosophy and groupthink they are furnishing the ultimate proof of their individualism. No amount of evidence or arguments is sufficient to dispel their illusion of being individualists.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

The Kantian Bridge Between the Enlightenment and Romanticism

Immanuel Kant is a transitional figure between the Enlightenment and German Romanticism. With his philosophy, he completed the Enlightenment, but he also served as an inspiration for the German Romantics, who undermined the Enlightenment by rejecting the rationalism and scientism of the Enlightenment philosophers.

In his Critique of Pure Reason, Kant is aiming to investigate why reason, which is a success in science and mathematics, has brought skepticism and disagreements on the questions of metaphysics, religion, and ethics. He notes that reason is successful in science and mathematics because these subjects deal with things as they appear to us (realm of appearances), not the way they really are (things in “themselves” which exist in the noumenal realm inaccessible by our senses).

Science and mathematics study a world on which our mind imposes certain forms and categories to make sense experience possible. Metaphysics, on the other hand, is beyond the bounds of reason because it deals with the noumenal world of things as they really are. The notion of the noumenal realm of things in themselves is critical for Kant’s thought in metaphysics, ethics, and religion and it inspired the German Romantic movement which was counter-Enlightenment.

Good Times are Bad Teachers

Prosperity, peace, and liberty are lousy teachers. They delude the citizens into believing that the good times will last forever and that the progress of their nation is guaranteed by a law of nature—they lead to moral decadence by creating artificial luxuries and inequalities. Progress is never guaranteed and there is no direction to history.

Friday, January 17, 2020

The Age of Reason is a Myth

Reason may enable us to make advances in science, but the dawning of an “age of reason” is not good for a nation. In the area of philosophy and politics, reason tends to breed skeptical, critical, nihilistic, and purely individualistic thinking which foments alienation, decadence, and disorder. When people march under the banner of reason, they lose their sense of traditional values, and their society is ripped apart by unrest and civil war. A rational pursuit of liberty, equality, fraternity often leads to the rise of slavery, inequalities, class conflicts—and a new barbarism. A stable society is founded on customs and mores—the forces of illusion and irrationality have as important role to play in it as the principles of rationality.

On Human Nature And Culture

You cannot break human nature through political coercion. Human nature is largely dependent on culture, which is a product of centuries of intellectual, religious, and materialistic endeavors. It may bend when political coercion is applied, but as soon as the political coercion is removed, human nature will, like a spring, revert back to its original shape. However, human nature can be broken by attacking and transforming culture. That is why the philosophies and political movements that want to promote a different type of human beings despise the existing culture—their politics centers on erasing the old culture to make space for a new one.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

On The Metaphysics Of God

Our language imposes certain logical limits to what we can think or say. Whether you are a theist or atheist, you cannot use language to express your belief or disbelief of god—at least meaningfully you can’t. When you talk about god, you are using natural means to describe an entity that transcends nature; you are using expression to describe an entity that is inexpressible; you are using conscious means to describe an entity that transcends consciousness or unconsciousness. You know in advance that you cannot succeed in describing or denying god, no one can. You can’t describe or deny an infinite entity with finite number of words. The demand for proof of god’s existence is beyond the bounds of logic.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

On Nietzsche’s Theistic Hopes

Nietzsche said, “God is dead,” but he was not an atheist. Hegel, a deeply pious man, had used the “God is dead” phrase to describe a situation in which consciousness senses that there is no hope and feels profoundly unhappy. For Nietzsche too, the death of god is unrelated to the god of religions, though he does not accept the Hegelian notion that unhappiness is humankind’s fate.

According to Nietzsche, the idea of “God’s eye view” is dead. There is no single view of the world, there is no single truth, and there is no divine plan for mankind. A privileged perspective from philosophy, religion, and metaphysics is no longer available. He attacks the idea of morality that is valid for everyone everywhere. He insists on a multiplicity of perspectives, noting that values are relative to a time, a place, and a set of circumstances and customs.

Humanity has to construct its own destiny by creating its own values. People will define who they are and what they can be. Thus Nietzsche’s idea that “God is dead” does not deny theism; it gives rise to new theistic hopes of creative values made by humans themselves.

On Philosophical Battles

A philosophical position developed by a set of sensible men may collapse when another set of equally sensible men refute it. There is not a single major philosopher in history whose ideas have not been refuted several times—greater the philosopher, more multifarious and intense are the refutations. To establish a philosophical position, the philosopher or his followers and sympathizers have to defend their position again and again with ever increasing vigor. The side that engages in more vigorous argumentation usually wins the philosophical debate irrespective of whether their ideas are based on rational and moral considerations.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Disagreements With Ayn Rand’s Philosophy

I disagree with every sentence that Ayn Rand has written in her philosophy of objectivism which is a utopian movement with a naive view of the world. It never entered Rand’s mind to draw a line between her literature and philosophy. Being a fiction writer of the romantic school, she didn’t look at the strict reality in face; she didn’t conduct a serious study of past philosophers; she didn’t try to master the philosophical method; for her philosophy was a work of romantic fiction that she would write by relying on her own imagination. Her philosophy is an attempt at imposing a fictional model on reality—everything should obey the rules of her fictional vision. If a philosopher’s legacy is judged by the conduct of her followers, then Rand’s devotees present a disturbing picture. Weaned on her utopian rhetoric, they revere her as a goddess—they see objectivism as a copernican revolution in philosophy, in that it admits no debt to the philosophies of the past. But their objectivism is scholasticism without the charm of dogma. An exaggerated respect for Rand as a philosopher is the mark of not only poor knowledge of the problems of philosophy but also lack of wisdom.

On Truth and Incertitude

All philosophies aim to find the truth, but what is truth is itself a philosophical question. Before a philosopher begins his search for the truth, he must commit himself to a theory of the truth. There is one thing that a philosopher must not lose sight of: incertitude. Incertitude is not the same thing as skepticism; it denotes the realization that it’s not possible to find the answer to the fundamental questions of philosophy and that the quest for certainty is futile and can have adverse consequences in ethics and politics.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Individualism and Nationhood

Man has two political aspects—first, man as an individual; second, man as the member of a political community. In a good political community, the individualism of most citizens will move in tandem with their sense of belonging to the nation. A symbiotic relationship between man’s individualism and man’s nationhood is the fundamental requirement for a stable political community. The philosophies which preach the notion of a rift between individualism and nationhood are the breeders of alienation, nihilism, and immorality. Such philosophies are not at all conducive for good life and must be rejected.

On Man’s Idealism and Materialism

If idealism is right, there is no difference between man and an omnipotent god. If materialism is right, there is no difference between man and a mindless animal. Man is man because he exists in the narrow stretch in which idealism and materialism intersect.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

On Four Types of Rules

The rules of science are discovered; the rules of philosophy are devised; the rules of religion are divined; the rules of politics are developed.

On The Philosophical Bulls In The China Shop

The 20th century was the age of philosophy movements. It saw the rise of a number of movements which were founded by intellectuals who had too much confidence in their own abilities. They were convinced that they were the raging bulls of philosophy—that they would demolish the china shop of all the dominant philosophies and make people accept a new worldview. But in the arena, there is a matador for every bull and likewise is the situation in the field of philosophy. The philosophical bulls were quickly cut down to size by the matadors of philosophy and every philosophy movement founded in the 20th century was ripped apart (became irrelevant). Philosophy needs wisdom; it needs knowledge of history and human psychology; it needs sympathetic attitude—it’s not a sport for bullheaded people.

On Dreaming The Philosophical Truth

In the philosopher’s dream the philosopher is refuting his own philosophy, and when he wakes up he finds that he is convinced by the refutations that he offered while he was dreaming. He realizes that the philosophy that he has thus far been preaching to his followers is full of flaws. The irony is that it is in his sleep, while he is dreaming, that he awakes.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Barbarism Versus Civilization

The nihilists and barbarians can in no time destroy a civilization which has been developed from several centuries of intellectual, political, and cultural efforts. An act of creation is an arduous undertaking which can go on for several centuries, but the act of destruction is something that can be accomplished in a few days of thoughtless mayhem. The pace at which nihilism and barbarianism devastate is much faster than the pace at which civilization creates.

Achievements Are Not Natural

To be born free is meaningless; to become free is an achievement. That man has natural rights is meaningless; that he has created nations in which rights are possible is an achievement.

Friday, January 10, 2020

The Truth About The Enlightenment

Thanks to the wrongful categorizing of the 18th century as the Enlightenment — an incredibly jejune and meaningless term, which has, however, entirely dominated our historical thinking —we have failed to perceive not only the truth about this century’s intellectualism and politics but also the contributions of the great minds who came before the 18th century. I agree with the view of the Enlightenment that philosopher Yoram Hazony presents in this PagerU video. I have been expressing similar opinions on the Enlightenment in my posts.

The Platitudes On Good & Evil

It’s not necessary that good will triumph over evil—in the political space, the taste for good is a luxury and a disability. It’s not necessary that truth will make us free—truth can give rise to a new forms of scholasticism and slavery. It’s not necessary that knowledge and good life go together—ignorant people often enjoy a higher quality of life than those with knowledge. It’s not necessary that technology can cure the frailty of human nature—technology may fulfill our material wants but it can have a negative impact on our spiritual nature. It’s not necessary that progress and peace move in tandem—the quest for progress can lead to mass murders and wars. Man quests for stability and rationality but life without illusions and irrationality is impossible.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

The Rootlessness Of Liberalism

Modern liberalism is the doctrine for rootless barbarians. I define a barbarian as a man who feels no curiosity about the sources of his forms of life and civilization. A positive sense of history is necessary for self-determination — being determined by rational considerations of culture. History is never dead and gone; a civilized man senses history as a tool for identifying who his progenitors were, how they lived, what they believed, what they achieved, and where they failed. All civilizations are created on the adamantine foundations of culture and history.