Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Five Objectives of Pepper’s World Hypothesis

The five objectives that Stephen C. Pepper tries to achieve in his book World Hypotheses: A Study in Evidence

1. He rejects skepticism and dogmatism by showing that both are weak arguments which lead to the same positions. 
2. He presents a view of evidence as uncriticized, and criticized or refined—with commonsense being the uncriticized evidence. He tries to establish that knowledge is gathered through the progressive refinement of commonsense knowledge.
3. He tries to explain the different types of corroboration through which refined evidence is created—he develops terms like “dubitanda” (commonsense); “data” (multiplicative jargon); “danda” (logical data). 
4. He suggests the origin of the world hypothesis through the root metaphor theory. 
5. He does an analysis of the six world hypotheses which, he holds, drive philosophical thought: “Mysticism” and “Animism” are the inadequate hypotheses; “Formism,” “Mechanism,” “Contextualism,” and “Organicism” are the adequate hypotheses.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

The Connection Between Politicians & Intellectuals

“The death of Pericles and the Peloponnesian War mark the moment when the men of thought and the men of action began to take different paths, destined to diverge more and more widely till the Stoic sage ceased to be a citizen of his own country and became a citizen of the universe. Pericles had been the last philosophic statesman. Socrates remarks in the Phaedrus that his loftiness of spirit was due to his converse with Anaxagoras, whose speculations about Nature and the intelligence that works in Nature had given Pericles an insight and breadth of view that he carried into his work as leader of the Assembly. After Pericles the men of thought, like Thucydides and Euripides, go into exile, voluntary or enforced.” ~ F. M. Cornford in his essay “Plato’s Commonwealth,” (included in his book Unwritten Philosophy).

Saturday, February 20, 2021

The Rapid Expansions and Contractions of the West

Plato speaks about Zeus Herkeios (the divinity who is the guardian of the house in Greek mythology) as the protector of the borderlines between city-states. He holds that the borderlines (which he names “haroi”) are divine [see Plato’s dialogue, the Laws].  In the Western tradition, there has been a conception of borderlines between nations since the time of Plato. But the borders of the kingdoms of the Western tradition have never been fixed—they have expanded in times of rise and contracted in times of fall. The conquering forces of Alexander the Great, the Macedonian king, marched till the borders of India, but within months of his death, his empire splintered into several parts. The Roman Empire, the first great empire of the Western tradition, at its zenith controlled much of Europe, and parts of Middle East, North Africa, and Asia, but at the time of its fall, it lost even its capital city, Rome (to the Visigoths); the Eastern Roman Empire remained in the Western fold till the fifteenth century, when it was conquered by the Ottomans, and this area is now home to a culture that is West’s great rival. The British Empire, at its zenith, was the ruler of nations in every continent, but between 1935 and 1955, it lost every colony and became restricted to its original island in the north of Europe. The fate of the American Empire might be similar to that of the empires of Alexander, the Romans, and the British. America does not have satellite kingdoms like Alexander and the Romans, or colonies like the British, but it has exercised great power on international politics since the Second World War, especially after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, when it became the world’s only superpower. But now American culture and power are diminishing at a great pace, and the Western civilization is contracting. In the next ten or twenty years another power might emerge to fill the vacuum in international politics.

Humanity Cannot Be Reset By Politics

Politicians and their crony intellectuals have been trying to reset humanity for ages. But every attempt leads to an outcome different from what they envisaged. The resetting of humanity cannot be planned by the political class—the currents of history are too powerful, the human mind is too complicated and defies logic, and the variables in social relationships are infinite. No amount of political force will change the course of history. No amount of political force can transform human beings into something that they do not want to be. In the twentieth century, a number of leaders—Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Mao, Pol Pot—tried to use political power to reset humanity, and coerce people into becoming the ideal citizens of the utopia that they envisioned. Between them, these leaders killed more than 250 million people, and caused pain and suffering to many more, yet they failed to create the kind of nation that they wanted, and eventually they lost control. From history we learn that the forces of religion, moral philosophy, artistic movements, scientific advancements, peaceful or violent interactions between civilizations, and mass education have a better success in resetting humanity.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Arendt: On the Political Judgement of Scientists

In the prologue to her book The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt notes that speech is what makes man a political being, but the sciences use a language of mathematical symbols which include statements that cannot be translated into spoken language. She posits that it may be wise to distrust the political judgment of scientists because “they move in a world where speech has lost its power.” Arendt’s critique of the political judgement of scientists is applicable to the professionals of the digital industry, who use computer code, which cannot be translated into spoken statements, to operate their systems and devices. In the digital world, code, not speech, has the power. Thus, by Arendt’s logic, the political culture of the professions of the digital industry must vary from that of the general population who use spoken language.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

The Experts Versus the Chicken and Egg Oscillation

The chicken and egg oscillation cannot be overcome. We will never be certain whether the rule comes first or the event. The rules of morality, justice, politics, and economics which lead to particular types of events cannot be developed. Those who are revered as experts in the intellectual and political establishment might be convinced that a certain rule when implemented will lead to a particular event, but instances can be found where the event comes first and rule is conceived at a later stage, or the rule leads to a different kind of event. The variables and chance factors in human affairs are too great, the chaos in the multitude of minds is indecipherable, and the future, especially the long term future, of societies cannot be predicted.

Heidegger: Man’s Understanding of Being

Heidegger begins his book Being and Time by talking about the historical interpretation of the way “we in our time” have become disoriented with regard to an understanding of our own being. He posits that our understanding of the basic question of our being is thwarted by two things: first, the classical Greek conception of man as zoon echon logon (animal rationale, Aristotle’s definition of man); second, Christianity’s conception of man in God’s image. These classical and medieval conceptions of being continue to be very influential factors in modern philosophy. This is primarily because Descartes conceived human existence in terms of presence—a presence to which he ascribed certain unique and distinctive traits. Heidegger notes that this twofold humanist anthropology is hindering us from gaining a significant understanding of our being.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Enlightenment’s Political Heritage

The political heritage of the Enlightenment is utopian since the movement was founded on three pseudo-concepts: universal morality, universal political ideology, and universal rationality. Those western nations which were able to resist the pull of the Enlightenment’s utopianism have made progress, while those which accepted that utopianism through and through faced great political and social problems. I am impressed by the analysis of the Enlightenment’s political heritage done by four philosophers: Hannah Arendt, Isaiah Berlin, Leo Strauss, and Alasdair MacIntyre.

Monday, February 15, 2021

On Modern Politics

Modern politics is a civil war. In good societies, the civil war does not get too violent; in bad societies, it is too violent. Those who fail to understand the fundamental nature of modern politics are destined to lose in the political battles.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Liberalism Inc.—Too Big to Fail

Liberalism is too big to fail. The pharma and healthcare industry, the tech industry, the banking and insurance industry, the automobile and airlines industry—every major sector of the economy is being run by the liberals. In the intellectual space, the academic industry, the mainstream media, and the movie industry are wholly liberal. 

How do people fight liberalism when the liberals operate every aspect of their life? There is no answer to this question. To overthrow liberalism, means overthrowing your way of life. If liberalism goes down, it will take with it much of the economy and the intellectual establishments. Every product and service, every convenience that makes life worth living, might stop functioning when liberalism goes down. 

Marx has predicted that as capitalism develops it spawns powerful monopolies which drive out small businesses, and when the final stage of capitalism is reached, a single monopoly owns everything. In the twenty-first century, the final stage of capitalism has been reached. The irony is that the single monopoly that owns everything is not capitalistic but leftist: it is Liberalism Inc.

Friday, February 12, 2021

The Globalists are Janus-Faced

The globalists are divided into two camps: the internal globalists and the external globalists. The internal globalists demand that the masses in their nation must give-up their culture and become like the world. The external globalists want to coerce other nations to become like their own nation. The policies of the internal globalists lead to civil wars; the policies of the external globalists lead to world wars. 

Both types of globalists are the products of the Western civilization. The West is Janus-faced—one side of the face warns the masses in Western nations of the dire consequences that would inflict their society if they do not discard their own culture and become like the world; the other side tries to bully the world into becoming a clone of the West. These globalists are the biggest source of instability and conflict.

On Kant’s Politics of Reason

Kant and Hume were more focused on defending the ideas of liberty and rational politics than any other philosopher of the eighteenth century (including Adam Smith). Here’s Martha C. Nussbaum’s view of Kant’s politics (from her essay, “Kant and Stoic Cosmopolitanism”): "Kant, more influentially than any other Enlightenment thinker, defended a politics based upon reason rather than patriotism or group sentiment, a politics that was truly universal rather than communitarian, a politics that was active, reformist and optimistic, rather than given to contemplating the horrors, or waiting for the call of Being."

Thursday, February 11, 2021

The Great Wall Country

China is a Great Wall country. It is comfortable inside its Great Wall, which has protected its borders from as early as the seventh century BC. The present generation of Chinese political and intellectual elite are convinced that the Chinese Great Wall has expanded in the twenty-first century; it now encircles not just China but several other nations (including America). For the first time in their history, the Chinese elite has developed a global vision and ambition. The twenty-first century could turn out to be the Chinese century.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

On Culture and History

A man without history and culture is a myth. He does not exist. A man can hate and deny his history and culture, but he cannot escape his history and culture. Even the tiny tribal communities which exist in remote jungles and islands are aware of a past and a way of life—if their way of life, which is miserable by the standards of people who live in modern environments, is threatened, they will fight. In the last three hundred years every attempt to transform a society by using brutal political power has resulted in violence and chaos.

The Paradise of the Impatient and the Miserable

Walter M. Miller Jr.’s A Canticle for Leibowitz, is the most depressing novel on the suicide of civilizations that I have read. Here’s a passage from the novel: “The closer men came to perfecting for themselves a paradise, the more impatient they became with it, and with themselves as well. They made a garden of pleasure, and became progressively more miserable with it as it grew in richness and power and beauty; for then, perhaps, it was easier to see something was missing in the garden, some tree or shrub that would not grow. When the world was in darkness and wretchedness, it could believe in perfection and yearn for it. But when the world became bright with reason and riches, it began to sense the narrowness of the needle's eye, and that rankled for a world no longer willing to believe or yearn.”

Monday, February 8, 2021

Man, Body, and Soul

Man does not have a soul. He is the soul. The body is the garment that the soul temporarily wears. This is how the great religions of the world (and the pre-modern philosophies) have viewed the relationship between man and his body. The conception of man as a wholly material entity is the result of a shotgun wedding between soul and body organized by modern philosophy (in the last three hundred years)—this shotgun wedding will not last. A breakup between body and soul is certain because modern philosophy (modernity itself) is crumbling and it will soon fall. By the next decade, the philosophers will either revert to the religious and pre-modern view or they will develop a new theory to explain the connection between the body and the soul.

The Political Problem of Atheism

“If you will not have God (and He is a jealous God), you should pay your respects to Hitler or Stalin.” ~ T. S. Elliot. 

I believe Elliot is right—it is generally the atheists who become the foot soldiers of ideologies like fascism, nazism, and communism. God is man’s psychological need. If you don’t believe in God, you might be driven to surrender your mind to any Hitler or Stalin, or a philosophical cult. Atheism is based on the idea that people can live on reason alone—but this is not true. 

People cannot use their reason until they have an identity, which comes from their ability to answer the two questions: Who am I? Where am I from? In most societies, it is religion which provides the answers to these questions. When religion becomes irrelevant, people lose their sense of identity and become an easy prey for the totalitarian atheistic movements.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Competitive Virtues and Cooperative Virtues

The Ancient Greeks recognized two types of virtues: competitive virtues and cooperative virtues. In the Homeric texts, we discover warriors like Hector, Achilles, and Odysseus who possess the virtue of being competitive and go on to become the top warriors of their time. There are female characters, like Helen and Penelope, who compete for beauty and fidelity. The Homeric gods are competitive—Zeus is the top God because he is more powerful than other gods. These characters possess cooperative virtues as well—they understand their place in the world and strive to fulfill their duties and obligations.

The competitive virtues and cooperative virtues are critical not only for an Ancient Greece type of society but for every age, including the modern age. We no longer compete with swords, axes, and spears like Hector, Achilles, and Odysseus, or with primitive notions of beauty and fidelity like Helen and Penelope, but there are ample opportunities for men and women to hone and test their competitive virtues. Children compete in the playground, to be the best athlete, and inside the classroom, to be the best student; grownups compete in the workplace, and in the arena of sports, business, and politics. Within nations, the towns and cities, and groups with all kinds of agenda, compete for dominance; in the international arena, the nations compete with their rivals. There is a ruthless competition happening in every sphere of our existence.

The cooperative virtues are honed and tested in the sphere of personal, social, and economic relationships—these virtues inspire men to fulfill their duties and obligations while remaining true to the legal code and tenets of culture. On the level of nations and other political groupings, the cooperative virtues are honed and tested through relationships and rivalries which are economic, political, and militaristic. Without competitive and cooperative virtues, we cannot function as good human beings and we cannot preserve a good social order. When there is decline in competitive virtues, people become weak and incompetent; when there is decline in cooperative virtues, there is corruption and immorality.

Rousseau and Natural Rights

When intellectuals talk about natural rights, they are following Rousseau’s famous line in The Social Contract: “Men are born free but everywhere are in chains.” They identify natural rights as a political empowerment that is available to every man in all parts of the world, and the chains as the political, intellectual, and cultural constraints imposed by society. All this is nor logical. Men are not born free—they are highly dependent when they are born and when they are in the stage of childhood; and everywhere men are not in chains—the world has a few semi-free societies, where some rights exists due to the political system and culture, while most societies are unfree, as their culture does not allow a rights-based political system. There is no social contract between men, and there are no natural rights. All rights are man made.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Spengler: The Ptolemaic Approach to History

Oswald Spengler was appalled by the thinking of the historians who present history from a mono-civilizational (Western) perspective—in 1918, he denounced the division of history into ancient, medieval, and modern sections as the “Ptolemaic approach to history,” which obscures the multi-civilizational reality of the world, creating the false false impression that the other civilizations are static, that they are not evolving, becoming more powerful. In his classic The Decline of the West, he writes: “I see, in place of that empty figment of one linear history which can be kept up only by shutting one’s eyes to the overwhelming multitude of facts, the drama of a number of mighty Cultures, each springing with primitive strength from the soil of a mother-region to which it remains firmly bound throughout it’s whole life-cycle; each stamping its material, its mankind, in its own image; each having its own idea, its own passions, its own life, will and feelings, its own death. Here indeed are colors, lights, movements, that no intellectual eye has yet discovered.”

Friday, February 5, 2021

Quigley: Seven Stages of Civilizations

In his book The Evolution of Civilizations, Carroll Quigley notes that, from their inception to fall, civilizations move through seven stages: mixture, gestation, expansion, age of conflict, universal empire, decay, and invasion. A civilization starts declining when it is in the universal empire stage and its instruments of expansion are institutionalized, which means that the systems that the civilization uses to gather, grow, and distribute its resources are politicized and intellectualized and turned into slow-moving bureaucratic institutions, which grab more and more power and resources as they grow in size—these institutions see themselves as the civilization’s true representative and the only line of defense. According to Quigley, most civilizations do not die in a fiery blaze; they wane out of existence because, with all the institutions having become bureaucratic, insular, and self-serving, no one has the power to stop the decay which keeps intensifying—the invaders, when they arrive, do not face much resistance.

The Importance of Political Conflicts

A civilization becomes self-aware when it faces an existential threat from another civilization. By observing their enemies, by fearing and admiring them, by learning from them, by trying to outmaneuver them in economics and geopolitics, and by trying to vanquish them, a civilization becomes aware of its unique history, culture, religion, politics, and psychology. In his novel Dead Lagoon, Michael Dibdin writes: "There can be no true friends without true enemies. Unless we hate what we are not, we cannot love what we are. These are the old truths we are painfully rediscovering after a century and more of sentimental cant. Those who deny them deny their family, their heritage, their culture, their birthright, their very selves! They will not lightly be forgiven.” The rivalry between civilizations runs parallel to the political and cultural rivalries within the civilizations, and both are a necessary condition for the evolution of mankind.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

The Chaos of Philosophy and Politics

Philosophy and politics are not the cosmos. They are the chaos. It is impossible to derive for philosophy and politics the kind of scientific and mathematical rules that apply to the cosmos. The chaos has been the final end of mankind’s every philosophical and political project. No paradigm, as Thomas Kuhn shows in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, is good forever. Every paradigm descends into chaos. The only solution is to replace the old paradigm with a new one which might offer a more satisfactory outcome.

The Mystical and Mental Drivers of History

The decisive forces of history are not materialistic but mystical and mental. Events which make history—revolutions, revolts, wars, cultural movements, purges, assassination of political figures, and coups—rarely happen due to objective and demonstrable facts. They happen due to the motivations related to religion, myths, a biased sense of history, the ruling elite’s sense of honor and lust for glory, doubtful reports compiled by intellectuals and spy agencies, ideologies which cannot be proved or disproved, and the desire to create a promised land (utopia). The mystical and mental forces possess the power to destroy old civilizations and give birth to new ones.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The Revolt of the Intellectuals

In his article, “The Revolt of the Intellectuals,” Whittaker Chambers writes: “When the train of history makes a sharp turn, said Lenin, the passengers who do not have a good grip on their seats are thrown off.” The article was published in Time magazine on Jan 6, 1941, when the intellectuals in Western countries were projecting Stalin as the messiah who would rescue their society from the crass consumerism of capitalism. Chambers believed that the communist strategy was to take over the world by taking several sharp turns and keeping the western countries off balance. On the attitude of American intellectuals during the great depression, Chambers writes, “The Depression came to them as a refreshing change. Fundamentally skeptical, maladjusted, defeatist, the intellectuals felt thoroughly at home in the chaos and misery of the ’30s. Fundamentally benevolent and humane, they loved their fellow countrymen in distress far more than they could ever love them in prosperity.” Chambers believed that the intellectuals were revolting, while the masses were either apolitical or the blind followers of the intellectuals.

The Disconnect Between Philosophy and Politics

The arguments in philosophy and politics are interminable. If you are convinced that these are easy subjects, then you are lacking in historical consciousness. Only the ignorant and the illiterate are certain about the political path that the world should take. The more philosophy and politics you know, the less sure you are about the political path for attaining peace, prosperity, and moral and material progress. There is a disconnect between the history of philosophy and the history of politics, which proves that a connection between philosophical theory and political action is not possible. The tenets of moral theory and political theory cannot be argued and demonstrated without making an appeal (an illogical leap) to religious ideals, man’s intuitions, the so-called self-evident truths, the utilitarian ends, the deontological doctrines, and virtue ethics.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Buckley’s View of Conservative Intellectualism

William F. Buckley, Jr. was convinced that the conservatives would cease to matter unless they shed their cliche-ridden approach of appealing to the grassroots. He observed in 1955 that the conservatives did not have a single journal of opinion while the liberals had eight. He said: “They [the liberals] know the power of ideas, and it is largely for this reason that socialist-liberal forces have made such a great headway in the past thirty years.” He started the National Review with the aim of revitalizing conservatism by appealing to the conservative intellectuals and not the conservative masses. He said that it was the intellectuals “who have midwifed and implemented the revolution. We have got to have allies among the intellectuals, and we propose to renovate conservatism and see if we can’t win some of them around.”

Politics Has No Lost Causes

Conservatism is not a lost cause because liberalism is not a gained cause. Capitalism is not a lost cause because socialism is not a gained cause. The political contest is never-ending, since tomorrow is another day, which heralds the beginning of a new contest, one that might overturn the outcome of yesterday’s contest. When we fight for an ideology and a way of life, we fight for an idea, an abstraction, which is something that never dies, which is resurrected after every crucifixion. Here's the point of view from T. S. Elliot: “If we take the widest and wisest view of a Cause, there is no such thing as a Lost Cause because there is no such thing as a Gained Cause. We fight for lost causes because we know that our defeat and dismay may be the preface to our successors’ victory, though that victory itself will be temporary; we fight rather to keep something alive than in the expectation that anything will triumph.”

Monday, February 1, 2021

Herodotus: On the Doctrine of Equality

The doctrine of equality has been used as a political weapon since ancient times. In his Histories, Herodotus wrote about Periander, the tyrant of Corinth, who had learned that some nobles in his kingdom were conspiring against him. Having become a tyrant recently, he was not sure who the rebellious nobles were, and what was the safest way of suppressing their rebellion. Periander sent his assistant to Thrasybulus, the wise longtime tyrant of Miletus, to seek advice on how to rule. Here’s Herodotus's description:

“Thrasybulus invited the man to walk with him from the city to a field where corn was growing. As he passed through this cornfield, continually asking questions about why the messenger had come to him from Corinth, he kept cutting off all the tallest ears of wheat which he could see, and throwing them away, until the finest and best-grown part of the crop was ruined. In this way he went right through the field, and then sent the messenger away without a word. On his return to Corinth, Periander was eager to hear what advice Thrasybulus had given, and the man replied that he had not given any at all, adding that he was surprised at being sent to visit such a person, who was evidently mad and a wanton destroyer of his own property — and then described what he had seen Thrasybulus do. Periander seized the point at once; it was perfectly plain to him that Thrasybulus recommended the murder of all the people in the city who were outstanding in influence or ability. Moreover, he took the advice, and from that time forward there was no crime against the Corinthians that he did not commit.”

The advice that Thrasybulus gave was that Periander should usher a regime of equality by chopping off the heads of the best people in his kingdom, in the same way that one might cut off the tallest ears of wheat. When the tallest men are gone and everyone in the kingdom becomes equal, there will be no one left with the capability of opposing the tyrant.