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.