Friday, January 31, 2020

Every Gain Entails Some Loss

Every gain entails some loss—take this as a law of nature. A perfect success in any intellectual, political, or material endeavor is unattainable. Man is incapable of creating a perfect civilization in which he might achieve his full potential. The idea of a manmade earthly heaven is a utopian dream. Whenever a civilization makes a gain in one area, it is beset by loss in another area. A civilization can succeed in some of the things, but no civilization can succeed in everything. Nature has not equipped mankind with the ability to conceive and create a civilization that is 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 have no sense of the self. Outside their group of the self-proclaimed individualists, they have no identity.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

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, and even for the habits that we pick up in the formative years of our lives. 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 make on our own.

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” cannot be resolved. The pursuit of unity is futile because 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, then we tend to focus on 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 man whose mind is not rife with contradictions, and there has never been a philosophy that does not 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 we cannot investigate the universe as a whole. It is a mark of hubris to expect the universe as a whole to be logical, mathematical, scientific, and philosophical. The universe as a whole cannot be investigated through the application of mankind’s systems of knowledge. It is possible that the universe as a whole is meant to be investigated through disciplines which lie beyond the pale of the present state of the human mind—these disciplines could be non-logical, non-mathematical, non-scientific, and non-philosophical.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

On The Armed Prophets

Nations get mired in revolutionary upheavals when they face a confluence of dialectical 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 fueled 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 civilizations is not a novel. It is an anthology of short stories, many of which are unconnected with each other. An array of man made, natural, and chance related events and factors play a role in the rise and fall of civilizations. No philosopher or historian can faithfully capture the cause and the consequence of these events and factors. To understand any civilization, you have to examine not only its books of history and philosophy but also its dominant language, its political and economic system, its religion, rituals, legends, and art.

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 claim that a philosophy is not good because it has been refuted is like claiming that the soccer game was pointless because neither team scored a goal. The major philosophies have been attacked and refuted several times. But the attacks have 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 twentieth century philosophy of Existentialism became popular in the 1960s when Jean-Paul Sartre was at the peak of his career and was being attacked by many other philosophers. 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 to a civilized conception. There is no evidence of the existence of free will. 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—is the fountainhead of barbarism.

On The Theistic Hopes Of Atheism

Anyone can give up God and religion and become an atheist. But it is 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 is bound to, since its ends are unachievable, the atheists react by discarding all values.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

The Gap Between Libertarians And Real People

Real people battle with the real problems, which they confront in the real world. The libertarians dwell in an abstract reality where they contemplate an idealistic society. The gap between the political opinions of the real people and the libertarians 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 long-term plans which are utopian: having a stateless society, a global free market, a world free of wars. These utopian plans are unachievable. Some libertarians might have good intentions, but the character of their intentions is irrelevant to the real people who want concrete and workable solutions to their problems.

Friday, January 24, 2020

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

The Intellectual Infirmity Of Philosophical Movements

People join philosophical movements for the same reason for which they might join groups like Weight Watchers and Alcoholics Anonymous. 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 not a sign of intellect and independent mind.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

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 that does not undergo transformation. From common sense experience we know that all things which undergo transformation are either material or mental—they have a beginning and an end. If everything in the universe is undergoing transformation, then eternality cannot be attributed to the universe as a whole. The universe must have a beginning. If it has a beginning, then it implies that there is a creator.

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 an unjust ruler. 

Socrates places democracy at the fourth position. But in his life, he showed a preference for democracy. Unlike Plato and Aristotle, he never left democratic Athens. His life was spent in the city-state. He fought for Athens in wars, and when an Athenian jury sentenced him to death, he did not oppose the verdict. His pupils advised him to flee and save his life. But in deference to the Athenian laws, Socrates quietly accepted his fate.

On Metaphysical Propositions

Philosophy, unlike science and mathematics, is not fully rational and cannot be developed on purely empirical evidence. All philosophies begin with the assumption of certain basic facts which cannot be proved or disproved. 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.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Good Times are Bad Teachers

Prosperity, peace, and liberty are lousy teachers. They delude the masses into believing that the good times will last forever and that the progress of their nation is inevitable because “God wills it,” or because of “dialectical materialism”. Progress is not inevitable, good times never last, and there is no direction to history.

Friday, January 17, 2020

On Human Nature And Culture

You cannot break the human spirit through political coercion. The human spirit is inspired by culture, which is a product of centuries of intellectual and materialistic endeavors. It might bend when political coercion is applied but when political coercion is removed, the human spirit will, like a spring, revert back to its original shape. However, the human spirit can be broken by attacking and transforming culture. That is why the philosophies and political movements, which aim to create a different kind of human being, focus on culture.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

On Nietzsche’s Theistic Hopes

Nietzsche said, “God is dead,” but he was not an atheist. Hegel, a pious man, had used the phrase, “God is dead,” to describe a situation in which consciousness senses that there is no hope and feels unhappy. For Nietzsche too, the death of God is unrelated to the religious notion of God, 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. 

In every age, humanity endeavors to construct its own destiny by creating a new set of values. People define who they are and what they can be. Thus, Nietzsche’s statement, “God is dead,” must not be taken as a denial of theism. The statement gives rise to new theistic hopes of creative values which drive the secular and technological world.

On Philosophical Battles

A philosophical position developed by a set of sensible men could collapse when another set of equally sensible men refute it. There are no major philosophers 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.

Monday, January 13, 2020

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 twentieth 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 of philosophy, there is a matador for every bull. The philosophical bulls were quickly cut down to size by the matadors of philosophy and every philosophy movement founded in the twentieth century was ripped apart (became irrelevant). Philosophy needs wisdom; it needs knowledge of history and human psychology; it needs a sympathetic attitude. It is not a sport for bullheaded people.

On Dreaming The Philosophical Truth

In the philosopher’s dream the philosopher was refuting his own philosophy. When he woke up he discovered that he was convinced by the refutations that he had offered while he was dreaming. He realized that the philosophy that he had thus far been preaching to his followers was full of flaws. It was in his sleep, while he was dreaming, that the philosopher awoke—that’s the irony.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

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 is not necessary that good will triumph over evil. In the political space, the desire for good is a luxury and a disability. It is not necessary that truth will make us free—truth can give rise to a new forms of scholasticism and slavery. It is not necessary that knowledge and good life go together—ignorant people often enjoy a higher quality of life than those with knowledge. It is 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 is not necessary that progress and peace move in tandem—the quest for progress can lead to wars and genocides. Man quests for stability and rationality but life without illusions and irrationality is impossible.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

A Definite Proof of God’s Existence

Once upon a time there was a man who passionately desired for a definite proof of god’s existence or nonexistence. He took an atheist and a theist up a hill and threw them both down. As the theist fell, he cried, “There is a god.” As the atheist fell, he cried, “There is no god.” The theist survived the fall, the atheist didn’t. Thus, the man had definite proof of the existence of god. This short story elucidates the fact that it is beyond the bounds of possibility to prove or disprove the existence of god.

The Inefficacy of Libertarianism

The man who becomes a libertarian because he is inspired by the idea of liberty and free markets is like an alcoholic who tries to quench his thirst for alcohol by gazing at the labels in the bottles stacked on the shelves of a liquor shop. All that libertarianism can give you is the  abstract theory of liberty and free markets. It will not give you a nation where the two values exist. A nation is not an abstraction. People are not the creatures of ideology. Politics is not an abstract theory. It is the domain of practical knowledge and skill. Since libertarianism lacks practical knowledge and skill, it cannot have a direct impact on politics.