Saturday, December 31, 2005

True Mistreatment

The truth can no longer do as much good for our species as the pretense of truth has mistreated it.

I Have Something to Tell You

It is often the case that the more someone opens his heart to you and exposes his inmost thoughts, the more daring he is at trying to gain your trust for the sake of his own advantage.

Fame and Fortune

The less recognition a talented person gets, the more he will come to blame fortune and uncontrollable circumstance for his obscurity. If ever he wakes up to find himself famous, however, he will immediately infer that ability, hard work, and patience win the day for the deserving.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Having Our Cake

It is inevitable that scientists will break the code of the human genome, letter by letter, and will learn how to make any and every genetic alteration. I wonder, however, whether we will be better or worse for the knowledge, for I have no doubt that we will put it to active use. In order to change the flavor of a cake, you have to change the recipe. The problem in our case is that we are the cake, not the chef. Even if the chef was a blind process called natural selection, it was creative enough to make us suit the taste of nature, that is to make us survivors, without any moral forethought at all. When we ourselves put on the hat and try our hand, we will not be able to resist flavoring ourselves to our own taste by adding a few extra dashes of goodness and a couple more teaspoons of virtue. And when nature takes one bite and spits us back out, then what? Well, that just might be the day that we finally die for our sins.

Critical Evidence

We are addicted to criticizing others, because pointing out faults gives evidence that we ourselves do not have them.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Lower Math

The more energy one gives to an insignificant vocation, the less capable he becomes of a memorable one. Seconds add into minutes, minutes add into hours, hours add into days, days add into weeks, weeks add into months, months add into years, and years add into a life. The mathematics of wasted time are merciless.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The First Premise

Based on the observation that the norms of human behavior were varied and contradictory, the Greek sophists argued that a true standard of justice did not exist above the dictates of individual will. Essential to this argument is the unstated premise that a sanctioned standard of justice must be universal, or applicable to all people. Once we grant this premise, consciously or not, we are left with a limited number of valid conclusions. In order to understand Plato’s reply to the sophists, and the subsequent development of Western ethics, it is vital to recognize that Plato granted the sophists the premise of universalism, the first premise of Western ethics, and that to this extent he himself was sophistic. The disagreement comes in his conclusion. The sensible world disturbed Plato. He certainly did not deny the lack of uniformity in human behavior. He saw fickleness, inconstancy, and change. He perceived a tendency in people to deceive themselves. He witnessed the execution of the very man that he himself admired above all others. Face to face with a logic that insisted the world was governed by conflicting self-interests and that Socrates was merely a loser in the contest, he reasoned that universal justice was not something of this world. It was an idea or form visible only to the eye of the mind. It was ideal, in the original sense of the word. Let us think this through. We establish that a standard of justice does exist and that it must be universal. We have observed the incoherent multiformity of existing human laws and conventions. What conclusions are left to us? Plato’s is obvious, at least in hindsight. We imagine another world where perfect forms reside, and we give to an enlightened few, called philosophers, the vision to see into this world. To what extent it is possible to imitate the forms in this imperfect world of ours is unclear in the writings of Plato, but the forms themselves are other-worldly. Is this the only conclusion open to us? No, we could deny the existence of a separate world and insist that perfection is discoverable in this world. We could study all existing manifestations of justice, for example, and piece together a perfect amalgamation from the best qualities we find in each. This is Aristotle’s method. Or, like Cicero, we could promote one particular manifestation in this world, in his case the constitution of Rome, that we believed was better than all the rest. We would be obliged to justify our own insights, however, and we might find ourselves flirting in the end with the other-worldly. If we consider the violent political disagreements of our own age, we can see that combinations of special divine insight and practical application are common. We can look back to the tradition of philosophical solutions as an explanation for our present state as a cultured species, but it is perhaps more instructive just to recognize the logical bottleneck that the premise of universalism presses us into. Attempts have also been made to define a universal standard of justice, or morality, using empirical justification. Self-evident, inalienable rights would fall under this category, but “self-evident” suggests an inexplicable insight again. Academic liberalism, perhaps the most powerful theoretical force in the Western world right now, is a rights-based system of universal ethics that cannot get past this appeal to self-evidency, even though it claims knowledge as its justifying scripture. All I need to say in response is that the evidence is invisible to me. Arguments ad hominem and ad populum follow, of course, but these do not make the theory itself sound. They only serve to defend it by humiliating and ostracizing anyone who dares to attack it where it’s vulnerable.

Let us look back again. Do we accept the premise that a real and legitimate standard of justice must be universal? If so, does the apparent lack of one in this world mean that such a thing doesn’t exist and that self-interest is the true universal? Nietzsche’s answer to that question was a powerful yes, but if our answer to it is no, then where do we look for it? Was Plato right to say that it is an idea, and do we take the next step and say that the idea is ideal and unrealizable? Is every conception of universal morality an unrealistic figment of our creative imagination? If not, why are so many people involved in persuading and forcing others to adopt their own vision of it, or trying to eliminate, whether subtly or not, those whom they cannot convert? We can see when universalism entered the consciousness of the West. We can see its logical consequence. We can see the struggles that have taken place and continue to take place over the problem of definition that it produces. What if we were to say no to that first question? I almost suspect that we would rather continue to say yes to it, even if our very affirmation were a pied piper leading our species into inevitable extinction. We would rather perish than give up our most cherished premise.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Reciprocal Consumption

Most teachers waste their students' time, and most students waste their teachers'.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Making It Up

Jealousy is the desire to maintain one’s own possession. Envy is the desire to acquire the possession of another. They are distinct and in fact hostile emotions, evolved one to overcome the other. And in the race to gain an advantage, they have given each other such potently positive feedback and grown to such an inflamed state that they stand out like blemishes among our subtler and sightlier motivations. The make-up with which we hide them is therefore some of our best and most expensive. The complexity, for instance, of the laws regarding property on the one hand and taxation on the other, and the number of people involved in creating, enforcing, and interpreting these laws give the impression that we are serving a far, far better cause than our jealous and envious nature.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Creatively Full of It

History is full of people made foolish by other people’s creative wisdom.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Habit of Ideal

The only body beneath ideal is desire, but even the barest of desires is habitually veiled in pretexted interpretation.

Turning the Tables

Why grant Plato the assumption that there is a single universal definition for a term that is itself only an abstraction of an infinite number of acts or sensations. “What is courage?” We are able to point to an act and call it courageous, very often without great dispute. But this type of answer does not satisfy the Socrates of Platonic dialogue. “I did not ask you to give me examples of courageous acts," he says, "but to define courage, the essential aspect by which all courageous acts are courageous.” What if one of his interlocutors had said something like this to him in response? “Socrates, you ask a deceptive question, because courage is not a single material entity. You have made a noun out of an adjective, a substance out of a quality. Courage exists only in our minds as an abstract universal, as a mental bundling of all those acts. You cannot turn the tables and say that Courage with a capital C makes the acts courageous. You are forcing the intellectually innocent to look at it from the wrong direction. Do not now exploit this contrived confusion to convince us that we view only shadows while you gaze into the light of truth. A few of us actually see through you. You may therefore give up your project to pervert and manipulate human perception through your qualitative, insubstantial, and unreal abstractions.”

Saturday, December 10, 2005

What is the Subject?

A thought that is not directed by an accepted paradigm of thinking, if committed to an accepted vocabulary and syntax, will make as much sense to its readers as a sentence written in a language that they do not know.

Blind Attraction

We are more passionate about those things we believe irrationally than those things we believe rationally.

Friday, December 09, 2005

A Question of Education

Those who are taught to question everything that others are trying to teach them will never, at least in theory, be led into false belief, but they will never learn anything either. They will turn to Uncertainty as the justification for their ignorance, and they will worship it as a god with an unshaken confidence that they will deny to anyone who claims a definable and instructive knowledge.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Making Copies

We are evolved to satisfy an elemental will, which is to make copies of our genetic information. Therefore, we should not wonder why our passions make us foolish when we are usually wise or wise when we are usually foolish.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


However educated and clever we become, we continue to be subject to the seduction of self-love. It whispers, whispers, whispers into our ear with a steady stream of flattery and never strays elsewhere in its affection. It is a master of erotic disguise and likes to dress as virtue and to point out the vices of others. It is as constant and unvarying as the very genetic material, 46 chromosomes, 23 from our father, 23 from our mother, that inhabits cell after cell after cell in our body. It achieves its most exquisite mastery over us when we believe we have thrown it over for another lover, for a god or a science, for a family, community, nation, or the whole human race. It prefers to make love in the dark, for it does not like to be seen without its clothes and is happiest when we imagine we are in the arms of someone else.

Monday, December 05, 2005


The ability to talk a lot and the ability to say nothing are gifts that typically go as a pair.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Unrelated Bravery

The courage to perform a dangerous act without a single witness and the courage to perform the exact same act in front of an audience are hardly even related as behavioral traits.

Foolish Judgment

It would be senseless to wish to be wiser than all others. If you were, there would be nobody capable of recognizing your wisdom, and you would likely be judged a fool.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Fit for Life

If we claim that without natural law standards of behavior would be arbitrary and therefore potentially evil, we presuppose goodness, which we then force upon nature for our own purposes. All human behavior is natural however. We are the only ones who make any distinctions about it. Nothing beyond our species itself, for instance, has ever insisted that human beings by nature should not simply drive themselves into extinction. It is only up to us to decide whether or not we desire such a thing, and whether or not we can stop ourselves even if we want to. The human will to be well perceived is stronger than the will to survive. Let us bear in mind how many of our number have committed suicide over the course of our history, before we convince ourselves that every day we are more fit to live.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

It's Under This One

Morality is a shell game. Now you see it, now you don't.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Inquiry -- Conclusion

In time ideas would begin to cross boundaries. Rebellious thinkers, unheeded in their own groups, would look anywhere for allies whom they could persuade to believe the latest transfigurations of the solution. They would set tradition or progress itself as a premise, hoping that minds primed by initial agreement would be willing to follow the rest of their argument. But of the two, progress would prove the more successful, because those attached to tradition would be less willing by definition to abandon their idolized explanations. The followers of progress, by obvious contrast, would be on the lookout always for the change that would represent a validating improvement. In this environment a clever notion would take seed. It would say that all perspectives on the question were equally sound, and that the strife and suffering caused by the competition among them ought to cease. The word “tolerance” would come to epitomize this, the final solution. All other solutions, though equal to one another, would be subordinated to it. Institutions of learning would raise this new idea as their standard and would grant to their researchers and teachers the license to pursue their respective disciplines enthusiastically, in the name of the progress of knowledge, provided they did not threaten the standard itself. The young would be educated to become believers, and believers would be numbered among the informed and enlightened. They would tolerate and forgive the intellectually simple who persisted in holding one of the other solutions above theirs, but they would insist upon laws that would keep these others in check. As their confidence grew, they would get more aggressive in their legislation, and the ever-widening circles of their influence and coercion would lead them to imagine that the universal agreement, which once seemed impossibly out of reach, was now on the horizon.

And then one fine morning, a pure fool would come along and say, “Has anybody noticed that the original search was for something that didn’t exist?”

Monday, November 21, 2005

Contested Order

The preferred state of entropy is its maximum. It can be decreased in one location only at the cost of an increase in another. Physical laws insist upon a contest for order.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Pure Distortion

Human opinion will never change what is true. Plato built a doctrine upon that fact, but the doctrine was falser even than human opinion. The truth does not need, because of people, to exist separately in a realm of its own, accessible only to the purest of minds. It is contained in everything that lies before our eyes. What does the distorted nature of human observation have to do with it, except insofar as it is made hazy by the desire to be the source of truth?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Inquiry -- Part Two

As the associations that had formed around the various solutions to the great question continued to contend with each other, quarrels would begin to take place as well between individual members within the leagues. Some would attempt to reinterpret and recreate their solutions to make them stand up better to the competition or even to raise their own personal standing in relation to the others of their own group. Over time the solutions would go through an evolution, mutations being selected or rejected based on their persuasiveness or ability to coerce. Some would be so successful that they would form the foundations for new associations entirely, and these would be as likely to become the enemies as to become the allies of their own parental groups. As mutations and reinterpretations asserted themselves more and more aggressively, people across groups would find themselves, depending upon the perspective and direction of their own loyalties, attached to a notion of tradition or of progress. And the belief in one or the other as an idea would become as strong as the belief in the very principle, which the idea of tradition or progress was defending. The two beliefs in fact would probably mix into a new solution. As an odd but logical result, leagues in conflict with each other would now share an article of faith.

(To be continued.)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Ultimate Indifference

Claiming indifference to worldly things and swallowing swords are both done to win applause from an audience. There are levels of status in a monastery after all. Truly seeking indifference, however, is arguably another matter, if the intent is only to relieve the distress and torment caused by the friction between oneself and one’s surroundings. Those of us who have ever endured severe psychological dislocation would be in a position to make the honest assertion that our detachment from a defective world gave us an inner calm otherwise unachievable. And a few at least would not face the charge of hypocricy that would be warranted against those who registered the adulation of others and felt an even greater spiritual thrill as a result. Is there one of us, though, who is not left with himself as a spectator? To be inwardly indifferent toward something is in fact to lower its value covertly in our own eyes. As long as we care about it, we have to deal with its significance in regard to our own worth. Remove it, and the downward pressure it puts upon us is removed along with it. As far as we are concerned, our standing in the world improves, without our having to acquire confirmation and substantiation from a single other source.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Inquiry -- Part One

If you were involved in an inquiry, together with many others, into something that did not exist, but you had all accepted as a premise that it did, universal accord over what this thing was would be next to impossible. More than likely, varied insight would take you down various paths. You would form associations and leagues of agreement and begin to contest one group against another. Politeness would give way to insult and ultimately to physical violence. Each member of each group would see himself as the champion of his group’s solution to the question, and the solution itself would take on an essence and being of its own. For those who believed in it, it would become materially real and would subordinate all other reality. Perhaps at times one association would be more powerful than the rest and would dictate to a large extent the course of events. But then it would lose its grip and another would take its place, or there would be a precarious balancing of authority among a number of them, with the inevitable threat of widespread war. Unless one group were to eliminate the others completely, malice, animosity, malignity, and spite would go on for a very long time, even indefinitely.

(To be continued.)

Monday, November 07, 2005

Uniform Chaos

A physical system as it ages becomes less changeable, less varied, more blended, and more uniform. These are symptoms of growing disorder, increasing degeneration, advancing deterioration, and blossoming chaos.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The Greater Reward

Why did Epicurus want to convince his disciples that the gods did not care about them and therefore were irrelevant to human life? Perhaps he believed it himself, and perhaps the belief gave him a tranquility that he wanted to share. But the Greek gods, right down to Hades, were abstractions of a multiform reality that Epicurus was asking others to relinquish. From there he was only a short step away from unifying their perspective and making himself their one and only god.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Truly Trapped

What makes philosophy fascinating to me is not so much in what way each philosopher was right, as it is in what way he was misleading, especially when his traps are now generally accepted as truths.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A Particular Expression

Customs and laws are an expression and definition of the people who create them and live by them. To violate them is not to transgress an abstract principle but to mock the people defined by them, in a particular location at a particular point in time. It makes no difference what the customs and laws are, and therefore it is not inconsistent or contradictory for something to be permitted in one place and forbidden in another. It is the assumed requirement of universality that lacks justification.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Cloak and Dagger

The most effective way to cloak deceit is with the truth.

Monday, October 31, 2005

What's Good for the Goose

People who adhere to custom do so out of respect for their own community and its inheritance. They hold certain things sacred because some moment in their ancestral past, a great moment perhaps, consecrated them. Reverence for your own past is reverence for yourself as a people. In what way is that arbitrary? Is it silly for a people to hold geese sacred, if it happened long ago that the honking of geese saved their city from otherwise inevitable destruction at the hands of an invader?

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Unthinkably Imperceptible

Epicurus believed that human beings should not fear death, since death is simply the deprivation of sensation. If we cease to exist and nothing more, what is there to terrify us? This is logical enough, I suppose, but unpersuasive, because it does not take into account the human need to be perceived. To be dead is to be in a state of unthinkable non-being. We know no other reality than being perceived, but the perception of ourselves exists only through our own agency. Deprived of our senses we are deprived of ourselves. Is that comforting? Is it even conceivable? Here is a telling question to ask yourself. Would you rather retain your consciousness after death and be tortured and tormented for all eternity or lose your consciousness entirely? I suspect that a suggestive number of people would choose the former.

New and True

Man is enamored of new truths, especially when they are well phrased.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Realized Alternative

The man who takes up continuous contemplation is often one who cannot reconcile himself to his community, despite his endless self-analysis and his numerous attempts to change. He turns to thought when his object ceases to be reconciliation through the recreation of himself in the image of the community and becomes reconciliation through the recreation of the community in the image of himself. Consider Plato’s Republic. A tripartite community as the mirror image of the human soul, with reason and thus philosophers in control, was ultimately the mirror image of Plato. The forms, the ideals, the universalizing principles that so altered the course of Western perception were simply the means for Plato to justify his claims for himself. It does not matter that he never saw the realization of his community. He probably never expected to. For him it was enough to have created the alternative in theory and to believe that it was real, while the one tormenting him, the democracy that had condemned and killed Socrates, was only an illusion.

Ordinarily Insightful

According to Plato, Achilles and Patroclus were lovers. According to Xenophon, they were not. A careful reading of the Iliad reveals that Xenophon was correct, unless we read between the lines with a preconceived assumption. Plato the philosopher claimed to see the truth where it was hidden from the sight of ordinary men. What if the simple eyes of Xenophon were the ones that actually were able to see?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

And Hold Their Manhoods Cheap

Courage is that which carries a man beyond his fears into otherwise unrealizable accomplishment. It is a conveyance or a means to an end at a specific moment in time and has no sense outside of that context. A contextualized definition, therefore, would be that courage is the love of glory, the abhorrence of shame, the lust for gold, the desire for a higher social station, or the eagerness to lower the station of others. Within the paradigm of evolutionary psychology, we can pursue this to another level. Since glory, freedom from shame, wealth, and relative social rank provided our hunting and gathering ancestors improved reproductive opportunities, courage is a Saint Crispin’s Day speech given to us by genes trying to win the French princess and get themselves copied.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Devil in Us

It is in our nature to feel such great fright of imagined circumstances that we govern our lives and the lives of others in the attempt to prevent their occurrence. Philosophers and theologians have made excellent use of this particular infirmity of ours.

Friday, October 21, 2005

See What I'm Saying?

We are only hampered by language when we attempt to be philosophical. That is also to say, we are only hampered when we listen to philosophers. Otherwise language is indispensable.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Magically Hollow

One of Plato’s most successful strategems was the redefinition of presupposed virtues. Courage and justice, for instance, were words that people commonly used and understood in a shared and synchronized context. Plato presumed that the words represented something real but rejected their common use on the grounds that no one could give him a universal definition free from example. That left him with hollow terms into which he could introduce his own reality. Plato should have been called a magician, not a philosopher. For the foundation of Western metaphysics was a sleight of hand.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Naturalized Uniformity

If customs and conventions were unnatural, it would have to follow that humans were able to construct something unnatural. How much arrogance and pride lie behind the assumptions first that we would be able to do such a thing, and second that we would be wise enough to naturalize ourselves by way of correction?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Same Premise, Different Conclusion

If, in our attempt to refute the false conclusion of an argument, we accept its false premises, how can our own conclusion be sound? But that is precisely what Plato did when he gave the Western world the idea or form of universal goodness. His refutation of the sophists was on their terms, because they were the ones who rejected discrete custom on the grounds that varying and unnatural were synonymous qualifiers.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Aristotle Reviewed

The inevitable telos of every human being is not his fully perfected form but his death and place of rest in the past.

Patiently Desired

Patience is important because reason is only a sense. The ancients emphasized temperance, but temperance and patience are not the same thing. We have a desire for something now, and we have a desire for something that can only be attained by suppressing the desire of the moment. Both are desires, and they are separate, except that the consequences of the first happen to interfere with the second. Patience, which is really the strength of the second desire, restrains us from satisfying the first. Temperance by contrast is the complete suppression of desire by something other than another desire. There is actually no such thing.

You Knew This Already, Right?

Consider the following logic. Human customs and laws differ everywhere you go. Therefore they are unnatural. There must be something permanent and unchanging that defines us as human beings and creates a code of behavior for us to live by. Our choices are self-interest, love, sympathy, and reason. Using nature as your justification, you can choose one of them or any combination of them, or invent one yourself if you wish. You are permitted even to redefine them all as God. Whatever your conclusion, however, it must be universally applicable. Otherwise it is unnatural.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Strange Privilege

Why was the stranger or guest so privileged in archaic Greece as to have Zeus’ special protection, when he gave it to almost no other mortals except his children, and even then not as unequivocally?

Friday, October 14, 2005

Sound Dependence

The beginning of ethical philosophy in the West was the perceived antithesis between custom and nature. It was a clever problem, and it generated, from Plato onward, a massive tradition of profound solutions. Would it cause us any discomfort to recognize that we are entirely dependent, morally speaking, on the soundness of the antithesis? Would its obvious lack of soundness help us to understand the moral confusion that confounds our world today?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

False Condition

The endeavor to overcome the human condition leads only to our falsifying it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Abstracted Morality

Ethical philosophers make a moral analysis of imagined abstractions.

Lawfully Good

Do laws make people good? A law that makes people good must originate in a lawmaker who has knowledge of the good. Who are all these philosophers, and how does one become one? I myself would like to make laws, because I trust my knowledge of the good more than I trust yours, at least as far as I myself am concerned.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Desirably Right

Plato, or Socrates really, teaches us that knowledge produces right action and that reason is therefore our guide. But reason is only perception. It sees, it does not command. It is not my sight that commands me to avoid a dangerous obstacle. It is the recognition of the danger acted upon by my desire to live. Right action, so to speak, is in the desire, not in the knowledge.

From the Battlefield to the Academy

The Greek intellectual tradition went from Achilles and Odysseus to Plato and Aristotle, from intelligent warriors to spirited thinkers. To this day we ourselves are defined by that now generally ignored development. Were Plato and Aristotle a manefestation of advancement or decline?

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Fabulously Attractive

The greatest observations usually do not seem remarkable, because the truth rarely makes a display of its exceptional nature. It is the fabulous that attracts attention.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Philosophical Mastery

The division of the soul into rational and irrational parts, the one the master, the other the ruled, is a huge and well-calculated error. Since the philosopher’s art is the perfection and application of reason, he proposes reason and thus himself as master.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Scientific Fact, Moral Fiction

Moral progress is a fiction of the mind. What arguably progresses or builds upon itself is science or knowledge, which is factual, not moral.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Internalized Perceptions

Because of the dual nature of our self-perception, because we internalize others’ perceptions of ourselves, the man who thinks exclusively of himself is difficult to imagine. Even the selfishness of our own age is one that is carefully defined and mandated by the powers that be and is therefore a social phenomenon.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Real Shrub

The invented antithesis between nomos, or custom, on the one hand and physis, or nature, on the other was flawed in its conception. Custom itself is natural. What in the world is more natural in the case of man than his customs? Customs are as natural and indigenous to a region as its plants are. “But this shrub grows only here, and that shrub grows only there. Do you see how different they are? They cannot really be shrubs. Come, my good disciples! Let us leave ignorance behind and go in search of the Real Shrub. Nothing less than the fate of vegetation is at stake.”

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Customary Superiority

Greek philosophers were the first to search for universal laws that would govern human behavior. Ancient Greece itself, however, viewed as a whole, was lawless. Local custom, with nothing superior to it, was the final word.

Ignorant Kin

Already in the 5th century B.C., Democritus of Abdera makes an uncompromising distinction between the wise and the unwise and thereby elevates human thought for its own sake. Those who are wise, he implies, ought to associate only with others who are wise, with no thought for family or people. Since Democritus himself was a very wise man, his words leave us with a sense of uncertainty and discomfort. Who after all would openly avow that he chooses to remain among his kin, when that is to say that he chooses to remain among the ignorant? Democritus, by the way, is not the only one to use this scheme. Christ himself renounces his own family and instructs his followers to do the same. The modern Christian who believes that Christianity is the foundation of family might read his manual more carefully.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Rational Reality

The presocratic philosopher Parmenides, not Descartes, was the first to say that to think and to be are the same thing. Mankind has progressed toward falsehood and self-elation ever since. It is the genesis of universal human pride to believe that the cosmos needs human thought to exist.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Becoming a Philosopher

As soon as an imaginative, original, and persuasive man stops speaking the truth and begins to plead for untruth, he becomes a philosopher. For truth itself cannot be considered his, and to speak the truth is no one’s particular domain.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Eternally Untrue

The truth does not belong to anybody or to any system. Truth, like the potential for being, has always existed. Untruth on the other hand has not always existed. It lives only in the human mind through the agency of reason. To create a divinity endowed with reason is to make untruth an eternal force. Through human will untruth strives to be believed.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A Universal Stand

A stupendous feat of philosophy has been to create the idea of a universal enemy and then to persuade mankind to unite against it.

Philosophical Objective

One who creates a gratifying object of will for others makes himself into a thing of veneration and thereby satisfies his own will in a distinguished and more exalted way.

Motivated Contemplation

Philosophers change the perspective of others, but for some reason we do not worry about their motivations.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Perceptively Scrutinized

What is more powerful, your perception of yourself or your perception of others? If you attempt to concern yourself with the former and to allow the latter to develop on its own, you will begin to make others uncomfortable and will receive a lot of unsettling scrutiny for your trouble.

Replaced Perceptions

My self-perception collapses, so to speak, insofar as I do not heed the perceived perceptions of others. When I drink alcohol, for example, my perception of myself alone becomes increasingly dominant, and my inhibitions decline proportionately. Ultimately, though, when we exclude from our perception of ourselves the immediate perceived perceptions of others, we replace them with something else, such as imagined posthumous fame or benevolent gods. We do not live without the perceived perception of something. We become the external perceptions that we internalize, regardless of how accurately we perceive them or even whether or not they actually exist.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Myth of Knowledge

If we are supposed to absorb the hearth and fairy stories about Zeus and King Arthur, take them slowly into our bodies, it would follow that we have a purpose that would be furthered by the process. But if we are doing nothing but pushing through endlessly accumulating paperwork, trying to get to our break at the end of the day when we can do little more than stare blankly at a book or TV screen, or to a two-week vacation during which we drink ourselves into a soma-like oblivion, then what good could it possibly do us to have absorbed anything but the ability to do paperwork with sufficient efficiency? If we cannot apply our knowledge to our primary activity, then it is a waste of effort to acquire it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Recommended Knowledge

“Know yourself!” We recommend it to others but rarely to ourselves.

Altered and Unchanged

Over the course of recorded human history, man’s perception of himself has altered, but his will has remained the same. Therefore he has and has not changed.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Unavoidable Contributions

I am in a constant state of self-observation. However, it is by taking into account the unavoidable contributions of others to my sense of myself that I have come to appreciate my own behavior -- why I imitate, why I rebel, why I want to live, why I might want to die.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Rational Servitude

The problem with purely rational explanations of things is that the human psyche is far from purely rational. Its will puts rational explanations into its own service.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Desired End

Reason cannot govern the will because it is not motivational. Reason looks, it does not act. Consider the will to self-preservation and the will to suicide. Each uses reason to bring about its desired end. “What is the best way to kill myself?” the latter might ask; “I really do not want to look bad or to leave a big mess when I am dead.”

Monday, September 12, 2005

Extended Sense

Reason is an extension of the senses. It is not the immediate cause of my actions any more than my vision or my hearing is.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Perceived and Approved Path

When I choose one willed direction over another, I seem to be guided by reason, especially when reason, which foresees consequences, perceived the chosen path in the first place. But I only choose the direction when my will approves it. Reason by itself does not originate movement. The will demands, “I want to be well perceived. Give me suggestions!”

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Just Dessert

Perception guides me, but will governs me. Is it possible for me to act against my will? With what force would I do so? I want to eat dessert but resist the urge. Why? Because I do not want to be overweight. I want to eat things that taste good, and I want to be healthy and attractive. My will resists itself because of external consequences recognized by my perception. I myself do not act against my will as if I were something outside of it.

What You See

To myself I do not appear complex. I sense perception and intelligible will, nothing more.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Under Your Breath?

Moral exile is practiced today with great enthusiasm. Imagine the most offensive thing that you could say in public. Are you able even to whisper it under your breath when you are sitting by yourself in the dark, let alone shout it aloud in the town square?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Perceptively Subordinate

The will relies on perception because it is perfectly capable of causing us to act in ways ultimately unsatisfactory to itself. Nevertheless, our perception, as its guide, is subordinate, leading the will to places it wants to go, either in the short run or the long run, and never to places it does not want to go.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Secret Agents

Morality is an expression of the human will directed upon others. We fail to recognize it as such, in the first place, because we are unperturbed by moral imperatives that we follow of our own accord. And if these same imperatives confine people whom we fear or dislike, we are apt to see something divine or at least extra-human about them. Today, moreover, because our societies are so large, it is hard to think that individuals are responsible for the common morality. But when the moral code shifts, and you realize that others are being favored at your expense, the agents take shape if you look closely enough. You see people where previously you were certain you saw nature or God. ‘But human will dictates morality only insofar as it ceases to be God’s will.’ Oh yes, I know that argument well. To the extent that morality accommodates me, it is an expression of God’s will. I was once convinced of that myself.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Posthumous Reward

Admiration and power are not the same reward, although the desire for them comes from the same motivation to be well perceived. How are we to understand the desire for influence and renown after death? Many great men have disregarded the fear of death, because they have been stimulated by the prospect of posthumous fame.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Rational Desire

Men feel remorse for their lust because their will wants something else too, a loyal wife or a secure reputation, that their reason, their perception, realizes is at risk if they take the object of their lust. But that is not to say that their reason is governing them. They are governed by the desire for the wife or the reputation. Their reason after all will do everything it can to assist in the satisfaction of their lust, when they do not have the other desires to restrain them.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Conflict of Consequences

To say that the human will is whole is not to say that it cannot have more than one object as specified by its perception, and that the pursuit of one object will not conflict with the pursuit of another. Many times of course I have recognized that if I get this, I do not get that. My wanting them both, however, is not an internal conflict. The conflict lies in the external consequences. There is no struggle between reason and passion, as countless people have believed. Passion and reason, will and perception, are not at odds with each other.

Reasoned Disbelief

Reason is always subject to passion. Hume’s observation is one of the most significant ever made in the ethical arena, but it has the disadvantage of being true without being persuasive. We can easily will ourselves to disbelieve it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Motivationally Whole

Many thinkers have tried to divide the will in two and set it in conflict with itself. But life per se does not conflict with itself. A whole in terms of its motivations is a whole, not a thing divided. As hard and as critically as I look at myself, I do not see an inherent contradiction.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Terminated Self-Perception

Consider not being able to perceive yourself at all. When I myself try to do that, I come to understand more clearly why I am usually so afraid to die, and why sometimes I am not.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Admirer and Admired

The need to admire and the need to be admired go hand in hand and in some people become one and the same. Hence the hero. Hence the inability to tolerate there being a god if it is not oneself.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Perceived Perception

The perceived perception of others is the source of my conscience. It is external. If it were possible for me to live from birth to death without ever meeting another human being, I would not have a conscience. In the case of the Christian, conscience can be explained as the fear, or shame, before the perception of an omniscient god, which is obviously a forceful and motivating stimulant.

For the Sake of

Human endeavor is never for its own sake. Even the pursuit of truth satisfies the individual evolved will. Philosophy at bottom is for the philosopher, and scholarship for the scholar.

Web of Perception

I perceive myself and I am perceived by others, but the perception of others is only perceived by me and then applied as part of my self-perception. “Feeling good about yourself” has been fashionable of late. The expression is vulgar but telling. My perception of myself is the only innate component of my self-appraisal, even though the perceived and imported perceptions of others form an enormous, if not the greater, part of it. I have also recognized that my perception of others becomes part of their perception of themselves, and of me. We live in an incredible web of it, and each of us is inextricably woven into it.

The Will to Want

My will does not demand a “why”. It is uncompromisingly there, like an extra-wordly command. Why do I value things? Because it is in the nature of my perception to distinguish, first and foremost between myself and other people, and it is in the nature of my will to want.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Age of Cowardice

The age in which you live is a fixed part of your nature. If it is a cowardly age, you too will be a coward to a certain irresistible degree.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Five Easy Assumptions

I have made five assumptions about you and invite you to make the same about me. First, you are a human being, whether you want to be or not. Second, you were born into a point of time which you did not choose. You live now, as you read this, not 2,000 years ago, not 2,000 years from now. Third, you did not choose the place or circumstances of your birth. You were of a certain nationality and learned to speak a certain language or languages. Your family was big or small, wealthy or poor, and it lived in this region as opposed to that. Fourth, you did not choose the particular characteristics, physical and mental, that you yourself were born with. You are short or tall, handsome or ugly, intelligent or dull, talkative or quiet. Fifth, up until this moment of your life you have committed an almost infinite number of acts of volition, dictated wholly, or at least largely, by the other four portions of your nature. These acts, along with the many chance occurrences of your life, have impelled your development and now have the certainty of fate. You will continue for the rest of your life to commit acts of volition, however much time you have left.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Will to be Well Perceived

Do we human beings have a fundamental will which is dominant and insuppressible in the face of our other wills and motivations? Many people, extremely intelligent philosophers and psychologists among them, have insisted that the fundamental will is the will to self-preservation. What are we to say, however, about dangerous occupations and hobbies, extraordinary and reckless courage in battle, suicide, and martyrdom? What has led some people to disregard their lives for the sake of something else? Looking honestly at myself I do not see an irrepressible will to self-preservation. There are things for which I would consciously risk my life or even die. And at times life itself is not especially precious to me at all. What I do see when I look at myself is the will to be well perceived.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Natural Resistance

The assertion that we in some way are able to resist our own nature is groundless. With what part of himself does a man resist his own nature? With his non-nature? With his unnatural side? The one thing that we can say is that it is characteristic of human nature to believe that we are able to resist our own nature.

Just a Game

This is a game for two. It is called “Ethics”. It is against the rules to assume that you and your opponent share a moral perspective of any sort whatsoever or to appeal to undemonstrable metaphysical authorities. You may use persuasion, but not force. The object of the game is to get your opponent to act ethically according to your own definition of ethical.

Whose Truth?

Epistemology is the philosopher’s homemade justification. It supports his claim that he is wiser than his fellows. It makes truth itself the property of the learned and recommends the academy for universal sovereignty.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Objective Ethics

Is the object of ethics “I ought” or “You ought”?

Seeing is Not Believing

Is the unseen more important than the seen? To what extent do we create the non-existent by our attempts to define the unseen? To what extent can we define the existent in the unseen by means of the seen? We take a blind step as soon as we declare as true that which cannot be proved. The length to which the non-existent has been proved is a testament to the human desire for what is not true, or at least to human disregard for what is true.

What Good?

If we discovered the first cause, would we become something other than what we are? Would knowledge of it change our perception? Do those who search for the first cause have it in mind to alter themselves through their inventions, or do they hope to influence and control others?

The Chicken or the Egg?

Perceiving what is true is to perceive the truth. Which came first, however, superior perception or epistemological method?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Money and Knowledge

The only thing more ironic than a wealthy businessman piously sitting in church every Sunday is the scholar sitting next to him even more piously. The love of money may be the root of all evil, but the appetite for knowledge is the original sin.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


The search for originality and the search for truth are not coordinate investigations.

Remarkably Simple

A remarkable truth is simple, obvious, and irresistible.


If we start with principles that are empirically plain and are not the manifestation of general opinion, which is frequently idealized, we can take confidence in our observations. If our principles prove themselves false later on, so be it. The mistake will be honest, it will be our own, and it may even make us wiser in the end. As long as our principles are sound, however, further investigation will only strengthen them.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Unit of Organization

Consider the following observation made by a classical scholar:

“The basis of political organization among the early Romans was the gens or clan. This unit of organization, which in one form or another is common to the Indo-European peoples, retained many of its characteristics and some measure of its social and political importance to a very late period.”

What does the decomposition of this unit of organization signify to those of us who represent the posterity of the Indo-Europeans? Progress? Decline? An indifferent act of nature?

Fate as a Whole

Does the species of man as a whole have a different fate than its individual members?


Some are inclined to believe that people of the past were happier than we are now; others believe that they suffered more than we do.


Physical probability predicts uniformity and disorder.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Unreasonable Claim

It is reasonable to claim through plain observation that somebody is different, strange, rare, or unique, that somebody is repulsive to us, to most of the human race, and even to himself. It is unreasonable, however, to claim that he is unnatural, if his existence is an observable fact.

Induced Deduction

It is a trick of the moral trade to insist upon deduction as an epistemological method, in defense of premises reached by a concealed or forgotten process of flimsy induction.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Which Past?

Does an old man think back with nostalgia to the days when he was a strong man of thirty or to the days when he was a toddler of two?

Truly Changing

The truth is as true in a changing world as it is in an unchanging one.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Reverence and Degradation

Believing that the past is better than the present is no more vain than believing that the present is better than the past. In this age we degrade the past. Previously peoples revered it.

Time to Change?

Do particular points of human history contain the initial moments of change, or is change always contained in the past as far back as it goes?


When one says that the truth is relative, he claims to speak the truth. We cannot define things, and certainly not truth itself, without acknowledging that something is true. A completely different question is whether morality is relative. There are persuasive arguments on either side. Most people are committed to one or the other, and it is not easy to change someone’s mind.

Less Precious

Someone living in a golden age would not know to enjoy himself especially, unless he had lived in a less precious one first.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Seen and Unseen

Reason is sometimes defined as the ability to conceptualize the particular into universal abstractions. In much simpler terms it is the perception of the unseen by means of the seen. In what way is it anything but perception though? And why has man been inclined to exalt it for its own sake and insist upon our unqualified subservience to its observations? In the manifest world we create the potential for unlimited error when we attempt to perceive the seen by means of the unseen, and yet that is precisely the great game. It is the unseen that energizes the ethical debates of the day, while the seen itself goes along largely unnoticed.

The Second Law

Time takes its direction from disorder.

Theory and Practice

An insightful man, Hume I think, once remarked, “Nothing that is practically false can be theoretically true.”

Effective Knowledge

Theory or even knowledge of cause cannot change the manifestation of the effect, if the effect itself is fully comprehensible.


Human self-perception is a much greater stimulant than the truth. The truth itself, however, is in no way diminished by human ignorance or error.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Too Abstract

Abstractions are visions of the imagination. Love and courage, for instance, exist as single substances only in the mind. Outside of it they dissolve into the psychological and emotional manifestations that occur separately in an incalculable number of individual human beings.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

True and Honest

Believing what is true is no more natural than believing what is not true, and neither honesty nor deceit makes the greater claim for one’s humanity.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Refute This

Consider that all around the globe the laws governing human behavior are different. Common practices taken for granted in one place may be illegal or disgraceful in another. Even in the same society an act that is unspeakable today may have been acceptable in the past, and those who committed it then, when it was perfectly approved, might now be subjected to retrospective condemnation. What are we to say of the laws that we are following at this moment in our own particular location? Seen from a general perspective across both space and time, human law is inconsistent and self-contradictory. The only rational conclusion we are able to reach is that individual laws are the temporary and artificial product of human invention. Other than the fear of penalty there is no reason to obey them. As natural creatures human beings are obliged to follow only nature itself, and what is natural to man is self-interest. The law of nature decrees that those who are strong will liberate themselves from conventional laws, gain control over others, and live according to the dictates of their own inclinations, their own will, and their own desires.


Knowledge cannot contradict the truth. We may be better off, like Oedipus, not knowing certain things, but knowledge can only confirm what is real. It cannot lead to a new truth, only to a better understanding of the one that has been there all along.

The Stamp of Truth

Agreement is not the stamp of truth, not even agreement among the wise. The will of human nature creates, even or especially among the wise, many untruths for its own sake.

On Guard

According to Descartes, there must be as much reality in the cause as in the effect. We should be wary here though. An accurately observed effect cannot disprove an invisible cause, but an imagined cause can discredit a recognizable effect.

Cause and Effect

Theory or even knowledge of cause cannot change the manifestation of the effect, if the effect itself is fully comprehensible.

Intellectual Perspective

Scientists investigate the truth, but only objectively. They see the observed, but not the observer.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Temporary State of Perfection

What point in the past does the traditionalist opposed to progress fix as the beginning of his tradition? Where do traditions come from at all? Do they grow spontaneously out of social chaos? Let us look at this in simple terms. A particular moment in time lies in relation to other moments. It is the past insofar as subsequent moments are the present or the future. It is the present insofar as prior moments are the past and subsequent moments are the future. It is the future insofar as prior moments are the present or the past. Conceptions of progress and decline frequently depend upon points of commencement without respect for what went before. Consider the moment in time when Christ came into history. Our numbering of the years would suggest that his advent initiated something self-contained. What about everything that happened before his birth? Was Christianity a manifestation of progress when it first arrived? If so, do we as a species generally progress? If we believe now on the other hand that the waning influence of Christianity is symptomatic of decline, are we to conclude that we as a species generally deteriorate? Or do we progress temporarily into a state of perfection, which it is up to us to stabilize thereafter?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Temporal Perspective

Believing that the past is better than the present is no more vain than believing that the present is better than the past. In this age we degrade the past. Previously peoples revered it.

Reasons for Being

In the paradigm of evolutionary psychology a human being’s essential impulse is to project his particular genes into succeeding generations. This is not simply the instinct for survival or self-preservation, despite that it will manifest itself as such under many circumstances. If a man believes that his own death is necessary for the survival of his family, who possess a greater combined store of his genes than he himself does, he will be more willing to die.

A philosopher’s perspective is universal. He is concerned for the family of man. Like a parent he invents a conception of his child’s healthiest condition and uses his most effective means of persuasion to bring his conception to reality. His own motivation therefore appears to be for the preservation of the human race, even though it is doubtful that such an instinct exists as an evolved human trait. Perhaps out of the impulse to perpetuate our individual genes grows the impulse in a special few to protect the species as a whole, without which our own particular manifestation could have no life.

Following this line of thought a philosophical definition of good and bad would call that which perpetuates the species good and that which threatens it bad. However, it is difficult to understand, in scientific terms at least, how an individual could harm the human race as a whole. Each person follows his own urges for the purpose of perpetuating his genes and acts in ways not only natural but also necessary. He is not capable of an unnecessary act. In what context could he be bad? Is any individual human being capable of doing something that is harmful to the health of man?

“The human race must survive, and one is nothing until all ones are unified.” This is an ironic idea, insofar as its gravity becomes its own levity. Every society has its taboos and sacred cows, and yet each seems to enjoy laughing at those other than its own. If as a species we unite our perspective and strive simply to perpetuate ourselves as a whole, nothing will remain outside the range of comedy. We will laugh at everything, even and especially death itself, because nothing is more vital for our unified life than death. Moral truth in its entirety says, “Spread your seed, then die and make way.”

The moment we laugh for the first time at what was previously considered moral, we grow wise. In an age dependent on ethical ideals, systems of morality are repeatedly invented, and their founders fight like epic warriors over moral valuation and become the heroes of their age. When we look back over the span of history, we see these thinkers waging war on our behalf, and the other people and other events diminish by way of comparison. Peering closely enough we see that even artists have been only officers in the ranks, handing down, in decorated terms, the sage commands of their farsighted generals.

In the end however each and every one of these heroes is defeated. Another takes his place as the victor of the day, then another after him. In the long run their struggles appear pointless, if it is true that they are trying to help the human race and not simply to gain immortal fame for themselves. What accomplishment are we able to see in all this? If we return to “perpetuation of the species” as an object, do we perceive some manifestation of success in all these systems taken together? In order to answer this question we need to disregard the differences among them and seek the similarities. Each in fact is like the other in that it takes human life itself seriously. By seeking the meaning of life, each suggests that life is important and worth preserving. We therefore have been taught to preserve human life, or at least to believe that it is worth preserving. And through habituation this belief has become part of human nature.

Each system of morality gives us reasons for believing in the importance of ourselves as a species. We give up the reasons of each, only to replace them with the next. These reasons though, not seen individually but collectively, have created in us the impression that deep down we are not blind impulse. We have assigned purpose to that which is really spontaneous, and by consequence we have made it impossible for us to laugh at ourselves. We are creatures of purpose and are therefore seriously and even tragically interesting to ourselves. Perhaps we are laughing now at a rejected system of morality, but we do not laugh at the creation of morality itself. In fact we are addicted to it. We need to know why we exist. Therefore we continue to worship the latest creators of purpose, because they reaffirm our personal significance. They give us the ability to be serious about ourselves and to contemplate ourselves with the approving and disapproving eye of a parent and in the end to call ourselves good.

Necessary for Existence

A simple human error is to believe that something is true only when people believe it. On the other hand it has never been necessary for our existence that people believe what is true.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Nature's Ways

Nature discourages our actions when the consequences are undesirable to us. That is not to say however that it consciously puts a penalty upon those actions and thereby forbids them, as if the human condition were significant to it. According to an ancient Greek sophist named Antiphon, nature’s ways are necessary and to violate them implies disaster. But how can we, natural creatures that we are, violate nature’s laws? Even if we bring about our own destruction, we do not stand in violation of nature’s laws. Nature does not care whether we live or die, any more than it cares for mosquitoes, lice, and fleas, which we as humans routinely kill for the sake of our own comfort. We base our ethical precepts on cause and effect, but we are the only ones appraising the effects.

Manifest Occurrence

If we consider the past, present, and future in terms of observed occurence, we will recognize that the last never exists, the second exists for the moment in a state of successive alteration, and the first exists in a condition that is simultaneously unchanging and expanding, as the present at every moment becomes part of it. Observed occurrence never belongs to the future. We might look upon the present in relation to a point in the past and in that respect call it the future, or perhaps one point in the past in relation to another. But in manifest terms the future is only in our thoughts and is therefore ideal. No matter how hard we try to be part of the future at the expense of the past, inevitably we end up as part of the latter.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Unnatural Event

Everything that happens is natural. An unnatural event is a contradiction of terms, for nothing occurs which is unable to occur.