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.

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, 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” cannot be 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, 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 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

The Gap Between Libertarians And Real People

Real people battle with the real problems which they confront in the real world—the libertarians, 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 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 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.

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

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 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.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Nonsense Can Establish Sense

Nonsense is not always wasteful and destructive—the history of past three thousand years offers several instances of sense being established through nonsense. The cosmology of Homer and Hesiod was nonsense, but their legends played an important 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 important facts of chemistry. In thirteenth century, Thomas Aquinas wanted to prove the existence of god but his efforts led to the rise of Aristotelian philosophy in Europe. In the seventeenth 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 sixteenth 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 fifteenth and eighteenth centuries. Human beings make their greatest achievements when they work for some purpose—it doesn’t matter whether the purpose is sensible or nonsensical.

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

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 pious man, had used the “God is dead” phrase 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 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, he insists, must endeavor 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” cannot be seen as a denial of theism; in fact, the phrase 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

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.

On The Conflict Between Philosophy And Reason

Good philosophy is not an expression of reason. The great philosophers of the past have often flouted the rules of philosophical method and acted against reason. Many aspects of a man’s mind play a role in the development of good philosophy, these include faith, history, prejudices related to cultural, racial, religious, and political issues—and also reason. Reason is a success in science and mathematics, but in philosophy too much reliance on reason can sow seeds of dogmatism, skepticism, and discord, and lead to an inferior quality of work. By using reason, it is not possible to find the answers to the fundamental questions regarding god, soul, free will, and ethics.

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 but the atheist didn’t, and thus the man had a 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.