Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dehumanism: The Mystical World of the New Atheists

Starting to show my work. Again.
The focus of awareness
The Guiding Dark
Free Will
To new atheists, and old alchemists, from the ground up
The intelligence of Reason and the Stupidity of Force
Happy Happiness
Metabolizing Matter into Spirit

One thing that's bugged me for a while now, and I'm more than a little bit fed up with, are the holier than thou New Atheists who declare "We are the defenders of science!", and who then go on to declare that what IS can tell us nothing about what we Ought to do, that in fact (!) reality is ultimately unknowable, consciousness is an illusion, and Free Will nothing but the deterministic result of a blending of Genes, Environment and statistical algorithms.

I can picture them as tree sitters, waving a bullhorn and yelling "If you care for this tree, stand behind us on this limb and help us to saw this trunk off!".

Now, I should first note that there are a couple of varieties of the new atheists, one that is fairly easily and safely dismissed, and the others which bear the latest flavors of philosophical poison, and it is they who are so dangerous because they are so easily dismissed with a not too confident “yeah, that sorta makes sense, even though… I feel otherwise….” , it serves to turn you against your own judgment – and it is because these anti-humans are so easily excused and able to camouflage their ideas among the clever, that we dismiss them at our peril.

The anti-talking snake story atheists, such as Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens, are at turns annoying and amusing yet manage not too infrequently to have something useful to say, though far more often they take their shallow literalist interpretations of religion and go prattling on about how its irrational to believe these stories of talking snakes and the sun standing still, and how you can’t be rational if you believe this, and blah, blah, blah. As I’ve mentioned before, I just categorize them right along with the literalist fundamentalists they rail against, as two sides of the same coin. However misguided and ignorant their rants, they believe they are agitating for rationality, for what they claim to be a truer conception of reality…and as such they leave people able to make up their own minds, and so truth will out; good luck to ‘em.

The deHumanizing atheists however, such as the figureheads Dennett and Dawkins, spread corruption with their every seemingly sensible statement, and are even more odious by virtue of their apparent calm rationality – like philosophical Hanibal Lechters. If unaware, your every attempt to understand them, works their poison deeper into your mind. Whatever their conscious intent, their nature is to attack the very concept of being Human, attack the very existence of an individual Soul (whether mortal or immortal is immaterial in this context), they claim consciousness to be a trick, they attack our ability to perceive reality – and as such these people are fundamentally opposed to the science they claim to promote. Quite literally, they damage, disintegrate and even destroy the minds of those who believe their words, and they plague the rest of us who have to put up with the idiocies they foist upon the public in the name of their ignorance.

To do this in the name of Science is unconscionable.

Poke the words of these people and you'll find lurking in their shadowy theories, the shades of Cartesian doubt and a mania for quantification. This weird outgrowth of the derailment of the Enlightenment, takes Doubt as a valid method and seeks to validate all by the linear rules of Physics - of measurement, of quantification, that doubts the appearances of Wholes and Qualities, assured that they are but parts jumped up into illusions; no matter how well or ill suited, they apply all thought and wisdom to their Procrustean bed of measurements, they lop off what doesn't fit, and demand that we lie in it with them. Their ancestors such as Rousseauists, Godwin and those that followed them, Bentham, Mill and others, made much of seeking after the 'ultimate source' of Free Will, and quickly concluded that since they couldn't find anything resembling granules of 'Free Will' ore in the brain, they denied its existence. The route they take to do this Scientifically, is to declare that that which we can all confirm to exist with even the barest of introspection, doesn't really exist, and is in actuality the result of various environmental forces, conglomerations of Genes, and neural algorithms which, though they can't identify it, or even hypothesize a verifiable formula for such a mechanism, let alone how it would operate... still, we should all accept their doubtful assertions – and the Doubt of anything else - as more real than the reality we all come into direct contact with internally, from the moment we awaken each day.

They are, IMHO, far more mystical than the most literalist, wild eyed, fire and brimstone spewing bible thumping preacher, who, after all, is at least declaring in favor of a version of reality, 'God', whereas the mystical atheist says that reality is in fact unknowable (pause for laughter… they do write good material), that, as Ayn Rand chided them, “man is blind, because he has eyes—deaf, because he has ears—deluded, because he has a mind—and the things he perceives do not exist, because he perceives them”.


I hasten to say that this doesn’t include those that I call (and used to be a member of) ‘incidental atheists’, those who don’t make the claim of atheism as a way to shy away from reality and moral responsibility, but as an attempt to move towards it; who do fully accept consciousness as existing(!), acknowledge the existence of Free Will, and who at the very least have an implicit understanding of the hierarchical nature of concepts, truth and of a morality consonant with that. To these people, atheism is merely a result of their not having seen any proof for theism which they found to be convincing and un-arbitrary. Or they find in the "Talking snake stories" grasp of religion they are familiar with, a conception of reality that is a-real, anti-rational, and so they oppose it as a defense of what is True (this is a result of their looking at scriptures as an outside source describing some reality outside of themselves, rather than as guides pointing them inwards, but that's another post). They feel ‘atheism’ is an uninteresting incidental conclusion derived through their intent to adhere to reality, and is a title that is no more worth identifying themselves as, or energizing their lives around, than it would be for them to declare themselves to be, let alone demonstrate and organize around, their being aMartians or aLeprechans. Ayn Rand & Theodore Dalrymple are two examples of this type of atheist which come readily to mind.

I also have no problem with the person who believes that some process of Evolution, best described at this point by Darwin, is the mechanism of our evolving from the first stirrings of life to the emergence of Man. That’s not a problem for me (this does not include the fanatical sub group of darwinists, mentioned below, who use it to further their deterministic a-human agenda).

So the first group of Atheists I’ve little problem with, the second group of Darwin evolutionists, I’ve no problem with, but the last two groups, scientismists and mechanists, I’ve a huge problem with, because they are fundamentally anti-human. What I have a problem with, is the person who refuses to realize that humans are in significant ways different and conceptually higher than other creatures upon the planet, and that the life of a human being is far more valuable than that of a gerbil, an owl or a chimp, who, BTW, could have no value, except through the existence of humanity. I have a problem with anyone who says or insinuates that an IS cannot be linked to an Ought, because this is to fundamentally undermine what it means to be human, to live as a Man, and to use reason in concert with reality to develop literature, science and philosophy.

They are dehumanists.

Fundamentally, the dehumanized new atheists declare themselves to be atheists, because they are a-human. They are less about their being a-theists, than about elevating their deification of doubt and skepticism, they are intent on smuggling their flattened view of concepts, amorality and little ‘t’ truths into our minds through a rigid process of logic chopping which exalts quantification over quality, and usually has a fondness for some variant of Marxism. There’s a reason why that is true, BTW.

A good example of their smuggled message, can be found in this one by Ray, One Cosmos's scientistic jester who I often wind up contending with, and in this case I'm not even looking at the fact that what he has to say about morality jettisons morality altogether and substitutes a normative bargain shopping spree instead, no, there's a deeper problem. Take a look,

"I contend that I am ethical and moral, that people in general are ethical and moral, because the alternative is running naked in the woods fighting over scraps of food"

, yet when you’ve denied our ability to know reality (‘reliably’ he would temporize, ‘at all’ I would correct him), to judge it, or to choose one course of action over another; this is an utter repudiation of all that Science rests upon and which the very concept of Morality requires.

This mirrors one of Dawkins comments made to state that an IS cannot imply an Ought, that

"There is no difference between killing a chimp and killing a person – none whatsoever, if it’s wrong to kill one, it is wrong to kill the other.”,

(quoted from memory, will site source later)
reveals itself to be every bit as anti-human as anything a post-modern relativist could dream up. The route to this statement, meant in all seriousness and quite unwitting of its self blindness, is the skeptical doubt, it's faith in quantities and doubt of Qualities. Instead of seeing both of them as aspects of our reality-based, conceptual method of perceiving that which exists – the tradition of skepticism that comes down from David Hume sees Qualities as invalid because they aren’t graspable by their chosen, consciously stunted, perceptual schema – and so are willfully discounted. The irony of course is that it is their thinking that is misperceiving reality, not the Human method which does perceive reality just fine, but which they whittle down and condemn as flawed, flawed because it isn’t limited to their limited view. Qualities, Principles, Imagination, ethics, morality, Education – all are undercut and devalued through their misosophy (hatred of wisdom).The sick joke is that they do this consciously while denying consciousness and choice.

While they will balk at such analysis as this as ‘blanket generalizations’, what they really mean is, is that it is derived from a fundamental principle which governs that arena, and since they reject principles as such, to them, it is nothing but a blanket generalization.

The more moderate will say ‘But…but we don’t reject principles! We just think that they don’t always apply’ – which, of course, is a rejection of principles.

There’s a reason why that is true too. The new atheists are using the most rational of pursuits, Science, in order to sell... smuggle might be the better word (usually as mere useful idiots, unaware of the actual contents of their packages)... the most irrational of philosophies, politically correct post-modernism. Dawkins devotes a large section of his chapter "Why are we Good", from 'The God Delusion' to the ethics of emergencies, with studies by the likes of Marc Hauser (which Dawkins discusses here) to

A train is coming to a switch, on the track 5 people are trapped, if you flip the switch they'll be saved but 1 person will be killed. What do you do?"

He goes through several of these and concludes that since religions & non-religious people statistically chose the same, then ethical principles and altruism are somehow encoded in our genes or memes or... something.

Summed up well, and why, with,

"...principles, it is proposed, are an innate and universal part of the human moral faculty, guiding us in ways we are unaware of. In a (less elegant) reformulation of Pascal's famous claim that "The heart has reasons that reason does not know," we might say "The moral faculty has principles that reason does not know.""

In other words, what you know, what you believe, your knowledge and character are elaborate frauds designed to amuse you, as with a child plopped down with a T.V. as a babysitter, because all you will ever believe and do is hard coded into your genes before your birth, and what a fool you are for wondering about right and wrong. Even worse, your entire notion of "You", is but an unfortunate side effect of numerous algorithms whirring up a storm and creating an interfering static with delusions of awareness, free will and morality.

Talk about Fundamentalism.

And the real message, which their philosophical pushers stuffed in their packages, is that all which the West discovered and relies upon, its strength, as Samson's hair, is to be cut off and thrown away... and these idiots somehow think they will be able to go merrily along scientificating the live long day. Useful idiots indeed.

What Hauser's subjects should have asked of him, is 'what the hell notions of reality, morality and ethics are you trying to push here?' The answer would have come from the Frankfurt school of politically correct Marxist post-modernism. Perhaps it shouldn't be surprising, being determinists and all, but the situations they choose to test ethics in, are those situations that are unchosen, unexpected, that have little or no time for philosophical considerations and where no good choice is possible. Few things could illustrate their utter lack of philosophical understanding and their dehumanized view of humanity in general.

If you follow the train of their thoughts back to its source, by one route or another, you'll find that hidden in its genesis, is ultimately the wish to rewrite reality, the wish to deny some or all of (hint: some = all) “Existence exists, that what exists, exists as a particular item having Identity, and that in perceiving this we are conscious of it and ourselves”. Whether it is by putting their consciousness prior to and above reality ("I think, therefore I am"), or by putting consciousness under reality ("I don’t know how I think, therefore I’m not” - Determinism) or "Reality isn't knowable to you, see what others think" (Hume, Kant, Hegel), either way their purpose is to deny that things are what they are, and to deny that we can know anything for certain, and that you are either not required to, or able to, grasp any of it. Except of course for the odd scientist who is determined to figure out why they have no choice but to be as they are determined to.

This is what they wish to put forth as a 'scientific' position, which amounts to nothing more than an argument from ignorance, and which we are expected to take on faith, as being more valid than our direct perceptions of reality - because they aren't comfortable with their flawed ability to understand it... an expression of their dissatisfaction that reality isn't how they'd prefer it to be. Ask them to justify this, and in the end they will in effect say that because history, psychology, poetry and beauty aren't measurable through their pet Physics, that we should deny its worth and reality; that or that we should do as Jeremy Bentham did, and assert that you follow a dispassionate moral calculus, a completely whimsical method of assigning numeric weighted values to one action or another, where the one you’ve assigned the highest number wins (“what I prefer goes all the way up to 11, whereas all the others only go up to 10”), but claim it only because it 'serves the greatest number of others', rather than just yourself... eh... greatest number of what? Yeah other selves... who derive their value through their not being your self - as I said, a-human. Such thoughts ultimately lead you to the pragmatic conclusion that the only ‘truth’ there is, is that as William James put it the ‘truth lives on a credit system’… when you hear someone speaking of ‘truth value’, run. Fast.

Science is the systematic organization of knowledge through the use of Reason, based upon observation of reality – of things as they are.

If Reason is invalid, so is Science.

If Reality isn't knowable, observing it is pointless.

If Free Will doesn't exist, the pretence of a systematic pursuit of anything is pointless, ludicrous and fraudulent.

Physics is a subset of science, where measurement is an invaluable tool for acquiring and verifying the knowledge within its purview. Economics is a science, where measurement is indeed useful, even vital, but not as a primary tool. Philosophy is the queen of the sciences, and in no way appropriate for such methods. Science fits within Philosophy, not the other way around. Physics fits within Science, not the other way around. The attempt to elevate the physicist's methods and tools to being the defining profile of science, let alone of philosophy, has led to many of the idiocies of modernity, such as the likes of Jeremy Bentham’s moral calculus and the resulting destruction of modern philosophy and the humanities.

These people, the Dennets & Dawkins of the world, are the scientismists, and they degrade and defame Science, in the same manner that various “Womens Studies” and the like, have defamed and degraded the humanities. Evolutionary theorist Stephen Jay Gould, once disparaged Dennett as a "Darwinian fundamentalist."("That view was shared by the late left-wing evolutionary theorist Stephen Jay Gould, who disparaged Dennett as a "Darwinian fundamentalist." Gould's scientific collaborator Niles Eldredge concurs, dismissing him as an "ultra-Darwinian." The liberal American Prospect accuses him of "cybernetic totalism.""); here are a couple reasons why, for starters:
Dennett’s explanation of the Self:

"Dennett: For many years I joined in the general battle against a homunculus or one big bunch of them. Then it hit me: Homunculi are fine as long as they're stupid.

The straight Cartesian theory is that you've got a powerful homunculus at the center of the self doing all the work. But if you could break that homunculus down into lesser homunculi that only do part of the job, and break them into even lesser homunculi, and so on, you replace the central smart homunculus with a team of stupid homunculi. Then eventually you can replace it with a machine in place of a self. This view is called homuncular functionalism.

It's not an infinite regress. It bottoms out with the neurons. Yes, you can think of an individual neuron as a little homunculus. It doesn't help much, but you can do it. The point is that you take larger assemblages, cells, tissues, and the like. Then they begin to have individual tasks, larger projects. When you get to a high enough level, you've got homunculi that are really quite agent-like.

The self is the systems control of the whole body over time. If you're doing things over an extended period of time, the self is your way to keep track of them. You have to be able to remember where you were so you can pick up the threads and continue after an interruption. So you have projects. And you have goals and fears and hopes.”

Dennett says in his book that the key to those homunculi are algorithm’s,

“No matter how impressive the products of an algorithm, the underlying process always consists of nothing but a set of mindless steps succeeding each other without the help of any intelligent supervision: they are "automatic" by definition, the workings of an automaton. They feed on each other, or on blind chance-coin-flips, if you like — and on nothing else.”

A quote from Chapter 25 of Brain Children that is fundamental to understanding Dennett's work:

"The first stable conclusion I reached … was that the only thing brains could do was to approximate the responsivity to meanings that we presuppose in our everyday mentalistic discourse. When mechanical push comes to shove, a brain was always going to do what it was caused to do by current, local, mechanical circumstances, whatever it ought to do, whatever a God's-eye view might reveal about the actual meaning of its current states. But over the long haul, brains could be designed - by evolutionary processes - to do the right thing (from the point of view of meaning) with high reliability. … [B]rains are syntactic engines that can mimic the competence of semantic engines. … The appreciation of meanings - their discrimination and delectation - is central to our vision of consciousness, but this conviction that I, on the inside, deal directly with meanings turns out to be something rather like a benign "user-illusion".

And as Stephen Jay Gould sums up and vigorously seeks to distance Darwin proper from these fools,

“To these beliefs Darwinian natural selection presents the most contrary position imaginable. Only one causal force produces evolutionary change in Darwin's world: the unconscious struggle among individual organisms to promote their own personal reproductive success—nothing else, and nothing higher (no force, for example, works explicitly for the good of species or the harmony of ecosystems). Richard Dawkins would narrow the focus of explanation even one step further—to genes struggling for reproductive success within passive bodies (organisms) under the control of genes—a hyper-Darwinian idea that I regard as a logically flawed and basically foolish caricature of Darwin's genuinely radical intent.”

Note however, that Gould condemns Denett and Dawkins most because their lifeless, yet supposedly efficient mechanisms, still conceive a sort of effective purpose… and that is what most offends Gould as to offending his conception of Darwin – that someone felt that there could be any purpose to natural selection, even one of wheels and gears, was too much – it is and must be utterly random and valuless – or no thing at all, nothing as all. Ultimately, which means politically, these views all lead to power struggles and violence, and a humanity lower than the animals – mainly because that is where they begin from, with either a denial of, or a dismembering of the faculty of reason.

What, you might ask, is the solid scientific ground that they base these assertions upon? What can it be based upon, given the idea that we can’t know reality as it truly is? A typical example, and source of inspiration and guidance for most scientismists such as Gould, though Dennett and Dawkins reject it ironically for being too mystical, is either Karl Popper(Popper was a self described ‘reformed’ Marxist, and his ideas on social theory, rebounding from Marxism in the “Open Society and its enemies” have also had widespread illeffect and influence) and his Falsifiability theory of knowledge(derived from Pragmatism's Fallibilism ) , or Thomas Kuhn and his ruling paradigms.

Popper was a fan of Hume, which if you’ve read my previous posts, you’ll be able to guess what I think of that – which shows itself as a traceable chain from the philosophic ‘past’ into the ‘modern’ present. Dennett fancy himself a second coming of Hume, and Dawkins favors him as well, though both reject Popper and Kuhn's theories, who drew Hume out into some of his obvious implications – only because they appear to prefer their stupidity less adorned. Either way, with Hume as inspiration, and Kant and Hegel to boot, not much of worth could follow.

In short his problem is that he assumes that reality is not graspable, that we can never truly know anything, and therefore logical induction, among other things, can lead to no valid information or understanding of reality; he doesn't believe that any understanding is ever deepened, only overturned. Hume said we couldn't really know anything and what we did know, was only experience of the past and couldn’t be extended into the future; to get around this, Popper came up with the cutesy idea of saying that we can pretend we know something as long as it hasn't been proven false…yet. You can imagine the solid sense of understanding 'truth' and confidence you can enjoy, when your entire sense of it being true requires a quick 'psst! Hey! Anyone refute this yet?' The only real argument such a person could make against someone saying that a billiard ball being struck by a cue ball will, instead of rolling across the table, burst into flames instead, is: "It hasn't happened before, and unless you can show me an instance of it happening now, then the expected result that the cue ball will roll across the table is the expectation to go with... until it's falsified... that is." Such an approach may lead to many things, but useful knowledge, scientific or otherwise, is not going to follow in abundance; in spite of it, perhaps, but not because of it.

Here's a good lunchtime length review of Popper, Debunking Popper: A Critique of Karl Popper's Critical Rationalism from someone else with a similar regard for Hume, which hits many of the highlights I do.

“The Critical Rationalism of Karl Popper [henceforth CR] begins by rejecting induction as a scientific method. The actual method of science, Popper maintained, is a continuous process of conjecture and refutation: "The way in which knowledge progresses, and especially our scientific knowledge, is by unjustified (and unjustifiable) anticipations, by guesses, by tentative solutions to our problems, by conjectures. These conjectures are controlled by criticism; that is, by attempted refutations, which include severely critical tests. They may survive these tests; but they can never be positively justified: they can be established neither as certainly true nor even as 'probable'..." [C&R vii].

Elsewhere, Popper put the matter more succinctly: "all knowledge is hypothetical" [OKN 30] or "All knowledge remains... conjectural" [RASC xxxv]; and it is in the form 'all knowledge is conjectural' that the essence of his philosophy has been captured - and has influenced others.7..."The quest for certainty... is mistaken.... though we may seek for truth... we can never be quite certain that we have found it" [OSE2 375]. "No particular theory may ever be regarded as absolutely certain.... No scientific theory is sacrosanct..." [OKN 360]. "Precision and certainty are false ideals. They are impossible to attain and therefore dangerously misleading..." [UNQ 24]. He summed up with an oft-repeated aphorism: "We never know what we are talking about" [UNQ 27].

Accordingly, Popper refused to grant any philosophical value to definitions: "Definitions do not play any very important part in science.... Our 'scientific knowledge'... remains entirely unaffected if we eliminate all definitions" [OSE2 14]. "Definitions never give any factual knowledge about 'nature' or about the 'nature of things'" [C&R 20-21]. "Definitions.... are never really needed, and rarely of any use" [RASC xxxvi].

Although he held these positions all his working life, Popper did acknowledge that they were open to criticism: "nothing is exempt from criticism ... not even this principle of the critical method itself" [OSE2 379].”

The leading alternative for a time was Thomas Kuhn’s theory of Scientific Paradigm’s – that scientists observations are limited to what the current socially accepted paradigms of what is what and why, rule what they are able and willing to think – translation: Determinism. Kuhn is essentially a reworking of Hegel's thesis, anti-thesis, synthesis (Hegel was never that pithy, I think it was Fichte that gave us that distillation), which essentially means that there is no actual thing that is true, just the fall out of opposing forces, and that which wins probably 'works better' - or scientifismic pragmatism. Inevitably this led into the swamps of post-modernism and other shades of Marxism – and there is a reason for that too.

This is perhaps best expressed by someone who buys into it: Hegel after Derida by Stuart Barnett, pg. 10

"The unsettling and yet thoroughly logical culmination of the analytic tradition - as well as that other significant line of post-Wittgensteinian thought, logical positivism - is represented in the work of Paul Feyerabend and Richard Rorty. They are the unsettling culmination of their traditions because they bring to the surface its Hegelian background. It was the work of Thomas Kuhn that paved the way for both philosophers. Kuhn did a thoroughly Hegelian examination of that supposedly most empirical branch of knowledge, science. It was the merit of Kuhn, then, to drive the point home for many philosophers of science and analytic philosophers that no field of knowledge is immune from the vicissitudes and transformations of history. In fact, Kuhn argued, all knowledge is riddled through with historicity. Knowledge - and, more importantly, the development of knowledge - was necessarily dependent upon the self contradictory nature of reason, which could manifest itself only through utter epistemological failure. Far from being a simple positivistic growth of knowledge that gradually eliminated error, reason was and is always fragmented, partial. The truth of reason, such as it is, reveals itself in the course of history as a series of crises and self-negations. This thoroughly Hegelian reading of that field of knowledge felt to be most securely anchored in the empirical began to open up analytic philosophy to questions of history and culture."

Most of the post-Popper’s who disliked Popper, disliked him because his “if it hasn’t been disproved yet, it’s good” was too concerned with facts. As with the Feyerabend (a post modernist) mentioned in the quote above, “Feyerabend was critical of any guideline that aimed to judge the quality of scientific theories by comparing them to known facts”. … after all, if there isn’t really a You, and the fake you wouldn’t be able to grasp reality even if there was a ‘You’, and we (some conglomerations of non-existent ‘you’s) can’t really know anything… then… there’s no such thing as ‘facts’, remember? This is the heart and soul of the scientifismist view – and no matter how clearly it is or isn’t grasped by those developing from it – it is in the soul of all they say and do.

Dennett and Dawkins, both explicitly repudiate Post-Modernism, but it is implicit in everything they say and do! There are many fine sounding things which both of them have said. There are many fine sounding things which Hume and Kant said. But every particular fine sounding thing they say, is undercut and invalidated by the whole of their fundamental philosophy. Post-modernism and nihilism were the obvious results of Hume’s skepticism; Dennett & Dawkins, just wish to ignore the obvious implications of their intellectual source – they wish to retain a semblance of ‘Truth’, but shorn of Value, they wish to keep it a sterile summation of facts, where chimps and people can be equal - but wishing, doesn’t make it so, it only turns people into clever chimps.

Such a shallow and corrupt grasp of Truth, a Truth religiously shorn of Value, of IS’s divorced from OUGHT’s, that takes Truth as being at best, disconnected factual instances, this is a fry cry from grasping any truth at all, and indeed precludes it.

Starting to show my work. Again.
So where do we start. Oh, of course, at the beginning, with that which precedes all else. Seems like I’ve been here before:

1. Reality IS, Existence exists.
2. Identity, What exists, exists as something.
3. Consciousness, In perceiving that which exists, we become conscious of it and ourselves.

There is no thought you can think, no idea you can have or pretend to have, which does not rely upon and involve all three of these, even in trying to deny any one or more of them, which is why they are called Axioms. Any attempt at proving them would be circular tail chasing exercises, and no more. They are that which simply ARE, they cannot be proven, since no proof could be proposed without utilizing them to begin with. They are prior to all we can know, and the integrity of our knowledge, depends upon our respecting them.


As a point of note, you’ll find that every lie, which of course also means every leftist position, will involve a direct assault upon, denial of, or blurring of one or more of these axioms, or accomplishing the same by inverting their order. The ultimate B.S. detector available is to be had through holding an idea up to see whether it attempts to attack, evade, or deny one or more of these, or trying to reorder them. If you say Consciousness comes first (as with Descartes), you deny what we are conscious of, and your own identity, let alone that of reality.

Existence exists (Reality), what exists, exists as what it is and no other thing at the same time, than what it is,(Identity) and in perceiving that which exists we are conscious of it and ourselves through our awareness of it and our awareness of our own awareness(Consciousness).

A Corollary to these, is that we are able to become conscious of the identity of reality, through the perception of it through our senses. Vision, Hearing, Touch, Smell and Taste.

Our sensory perceptions are the conduits through which we gather information of Reality. At the lowest level, our direct contact with reality is through sensations, which arise and fade with the feature of reality they conveyed. The touch of an ice cube, a kiss, a slap to the face, a flashbulb, a clap of thunder. Our perceptions are formed through the integration of perceived relations among sensations and persisted into a form of integrated memory, where sensations are then able to be identified, not changed or substituted for, but recognized and to one extent or another, recalled as needed and to the degree of vividness appropriate to waking activity. When you recall a kiss or a slap, it is through the remembered perceptions of the original sensation, that you recall the event, rarely will you push past the perceptions to a full recall of the actual sensation experienced – there’d be a whole new layer of fear of learning from our mistakes, if every recalled memory reproduced the exact experience in full vividness.

There are experiments in which particular parts of the brain are electrically stimulated reproducing vivid memories of past experiences, and the patients conscious on the table report actually seeing the butterfly floating before them. This reinforces, rather than weakens, my argument about sensory perceptions – the original sensations are stored into memory and accessible in our brains, with all of the vividness and detail of the actual incident, but it is through the integrated perceptions and associated conceptions of those events, with which we normally recall them. When we consciously recall a butterfly, it is the information we have of a butterfly which we mostly recall, together with a, usually, dim image of one in our mind, we don't seem to actually see a butterfly floating before us, but rather our perceptions associated with past experiences of having seen butterflies. We are conceptual creatures, perceptions are where we start from, build from, but our conscious thinking operates far above them.

The process of managing direct sensations and their integration into perceptions operates beneath the level of what we typically identify as normal waking consciousness. As we begin to move above this level and into recalling and reflecting upon sensations, perceptions and memories of them, we move into the realm of volition, where you choose what you will reflect upon, and how much care you attach to doing so. The line, amid and awash in the sensory data was seen from the start, but not recognized as a Line. It takes repeated exposure to differentiate like and unlike and remember and recognize and identify, and then that identification is used in other combinations, and so on, and so on, and so on.

What our minds are designed to do, is to sense the instant, remember instances, differentiate between them and to integrate the data of our perceptions based upon some common denominator(s). A perception is an integration of related sensations – a slap carries sensations of force, impact, pain, stinging, blood rushing back into the area struck – these several sensations are related by time and context and integrated under the perception of having been slapped. But there’s more to it than just this, think of a simple line, there have been studies that have shown, that it is only through repeated exposure, that an infant learns to “see”, to perceive from the ALL of visual sensation, individual lines as sense information related by its proximity as separation of what is on one side of it, from what is on the other.

Perceptions are the headings under which reality is managed, this was a slap, that was an ice cube, they don’t come between us and the sensations they represent, they identify the known status of a group of sensations. If you’ve ever seen the ‘Terminator’ movies, sometimes they show the world through the Terminators ‘eyes’ and in his internal viewer, you’ll see the image of a person outlined in attention, a series of whirring text which finally snaps into place with the name of the person placed by it – that is what our perceptions do for us, but more efficiently. They don’t alter or augment the information of our senses, but only identify the data we know to relate to those recognized types of sensations .

They don’t mask or filter our sensations either – though the conscious mind, occupied with other matters is fully capable of ignoring sensory anomalies in that which is perceived, nothing is masked or hidden from us, but can be either ignored, or assumed to be present by our conscious choice of awareness. You can test this for yourself from your own experiences, have you ever noticed something out of the corner of your eye perhaps, maybe in shadow, that you didn’t quite recognize, seemed out of place, maybe it seemed like a werewolf creeping towards you… what the heck is that?! You can almost actually feel your mind churning through files trying to identify it… and then ‘click’ you recognize it as the jacket you forgot that you’d tossed over the back of the chair when you came in… and though the visual sensory image you’re looking at hasn’t changed, you now see that it is identifiable as your jacket. The conditions of light and disordered placement made it hard for your mental software to get a lock on it, but it was finally successful – that process usually happens in a millisecond.

That much is automatic, where volition begins to come in, is where the person slapped, begins to consider the fleeting sensation perceived as the slap, is abstracted up into the concept of A Slap.
There is a difference between the perception of being slapped, and the concept of A Slap. The Perception is on an actual instance, the concept of A Slap, is something generalized, abstracted from an incident ("Mary slapped me") that resembles other incidents ("Susan slapped me", "Gina slapped me...") that are similar, and realize that they can be conceived as being identical in fact, if you do something remarkable first – drop out all the particular properties and measurements that identify the particular slap, and having done so, we are then capable of carrying forwards into time, and backwards through memory, a concept of A Slap… which enables you to Identify every unique instance – minus all of its particulars which identify that particular instance of it, and can eventually be used to help you figure out why you are being slapped so often! It is remarkable.

Where did this come from?

I’m not going to go into the mechanics of developing words and language, or of assigning them to concepts when or after, they are created, I’ve done my blogable best on that elsewhere, such as in the six posts of “What are Words For?” begun here, but what I want to look at, is the process of abstracting from a particular instance, identified with a particular instance in time – up into a Concept, which is ‘Universal’ and applicable across time and place. The concept of 'A Slap' contains the essential perceptions, but devoid of measurements and particulars… how hard you were slapped, was it you or a horse that was slapped, who slapped you, was it with a hand or a glove, etc. This is a first level Concept (I’ve gone into more detail about this process in What Are Words For).

We can see the process begin with the concept which I think is indispensible to every other concept, quantity and number. Again, Ray has recently prompted a better lead in to this than I originally had, so lets have a look. I’d responded to one of his floating flights of fancy, with a comment that his ideas often had no connection to reality, that “ actually think you can learn 'logical truths' without reliable experience or knowledge of reality...”, to my amazement, Ray replied:

“Nobody's ever directly experienced hyperbolic space, but Lobachevsky came up with the math for it anyway. Nobody had any notion that complex numbers would be so useful for electrical engineering (or anything else) until close to a century after they'd been explored. Mathematics has a long history of completely 'impractical' research that later turns up a use. The fact that such topics were considered useless means, ipso facto, that they were divorced from any known connection to reality.”
This is the unintegrated world, the compartmentalized view of life and of reality, which results from confusing fact with Truth, divorcing Many from One, Particulars from Concepts, Quantities from Qualities, there is no synthesizing One in their Cosmos (also, in this fragmented view, Imagination is relegated to ‘cute’ and ‘fun’ and ‘notions’, and unlike Lobachevsky, they completely miss its vital role in Reason – see my Reasons of Reason series of posts). I replied that that was far from the reality of the situation. If there's anything that is not divorced from reality, it is Mathematics. It is one of our most basic and direct conceptual connections to reality, through the vital concepts of Identity and Quantity. Not a single one of the ideas Ray mentioned, would be possible, if they weren't derived from a direct chain of accurate perceptions elevated into concepts, and elevated further into such theories as he mentioned.

What mathematicians do, or attempt to do with their theories, is a clear example of our ability to directly and accurately perceive and know Reality as it is, and to abstract from that direct experience upwards into the conceptual realm, and to remain valid, that distant tie to reality can never be severed.

To which Ray scoffed “Where, exactly, did people perceive the square root of minus one? I'd like one for my desk...”

Although I am, I shouldn’t be surprised. The Cartesian method, which starts with Consciousness as a primary (and as a result ultimately leads to its being devalued and discarded), has no way to tie either consciousness or its contents back to reality – after all, it holds that in the philosophical chain of knowledge, Consciousness precedes IT – and it's grasp of fundamental ideas such as the favorite show stopper “2+2=4 that’s an idea that precedes all else and is true everywhere!” as if the mathematical legislation for it exists ‘out there’ along with something like Plato’s forms, or which the determinists cast as pre-existing code hardwired into the genes, or in some other way preloaded into our hardware & software, is not only not the case at all, but sadly laughable.

This ‘show stopper’ is utterly unimpressive and un-mysterious, when you start with Existence, with Reality as The Primary, which comes before Consciousness, and without which consciousness would have nothing to be consciousness of! So called mysterious Ideas such as those of mathematics, all began directly through our conscious interaction with reality. It began with some Geico caveman’s fuzzy awareness that these (holding up three fingers) rocks, somehow have something in common with these (holding up three fingers) spears... and with focused consideration, and not a little bit of imagination, came a grasping of the abstraction of 'Quantity', that these were the same in some way other than in their own features, they had a commonality grasped through a highly abstract view of two sets of things stripped of all their particulars of size, shape, length, color, texture, all set aside in order to reduce them to only ‘things’, and in so doing, exposing what they had in common – quantity.

Sometime afterwards, I suspect soon after, but there’s no way of knowing for sure, but nevertheless after following on the heels of grasping quantity, came the abstraction of 'Number', that a word could stand for a particular quantity of things, and that these words could apply to the same quantity of any ‘things’ you might have in mind, and following on that would be the idea that particular numbers, could be conveyed across time and place, and could be used to combine or separate ‘amounts’ of things… and these numbers could extend even beyond just matching quantities to the digits of all of your fingers and toes.

At some point came the idea of a visual transliteration of 'square' numbers. Picture a square with sides the length of two pebbles… count the pebbles in that square…four. Change the length of the sides to three, and you get nine, sides the length of 4 you find that 4 squared, is 16 … and then the converse is true also, the square root of 16, well, 16 pebbles arranged into a square will show sides with lengths of 4… the square root of 16 is 4, and so on, gives you a grasp of the mathematical ‘perfect squares’. Following from there, basic tangible actions progress up the conceptual chain into higher and higher abstractions; progressing through addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Following that progression, led into negative 'numbers' hypotenuses of triangles, incommensurateness, From that, with familiarity, and pushing the abstractions, you get to the point of applying the concept of squares to non-perfect squares, such as the square root of 10, and eventually on to Ray’s square root of -1, ... etc, etc, etc.

Existence and Identity are consciously grasped and extended through focused awareness, we can imagine how what IS can be made to result in what is desired to be, this itself is a choice, one that must be actively made and sustained, into new concepts and new applications of them, only by an act of freely willed imagination. Imagination has its roots in the Vertical, Identification in the Horizontal, and together they grasp and create our lives. Cut off one of those roots, or allow it to wither, and you will find yourself with an unbalanced reason, inconsistent with the world, but self satisfied with its own skewed views.

What mathematicians do, or attempt to do with their theories, is a clear example of our ability to directly and accurately perceive and know Reality as it is, lifting us to a position high up in the conceptual ether. By taking a perceptual instance of this thing (holding up a pebble) and then abstracting upwards from that direct experience into the conceptual realm, we quickly advance several layers away from the original perceptual level, with quantities, numbers, theorems and formulas; ideas so far removed from that initial perceptual instance as to make one dizzy, but nevertheless, they all are, unless flawed or invalid, ultimately firmly rooted in reality, and through that power it gives us, has given us, the ability to harness the immense power of the immensely minute atom, and extend the reach of our senses even beyond our solar system.

Rationalism, often associated with mathematics and mathematicians, is an example of letting go of those perceptual roots, and attempting to use baseless theories, as if they had roots, or could develop them if watered well (Keynesianism is an example of this in the economic realm, Descartes, Kant & Hegel in the philosophic, but once severed from reality, they will not lead back to reality, and the persistent attempt to force such theories to take root will usually result in attempting to water such theories with blood, ala the 20th century).

No matter how abstract or impressive the formula, proof, theorem or whathaveyou, it is all traceable back, and utterly dependent upon, the very concrete, perceptual ideas abstracted into ‘things’, abstracted to quantities, and abstracted further up to the concept of 'number' standing for a particular quantity of some entity being quantified, and from there it’s off to the races.

This method of abstracting away details from related instances into a universally applicable concept, applies in similar fashion across our conceptual methods. In the case of the instance of a slap mentioned earlier, a first level concept is reached in semi-automatic fashion, but to get to higher level concepts, the requirement for being able to understand why they were slapped, they need to choose to reflect upon recent events, to discover what, if any, actions he’d taken, that led up to is hbeing slapped… something he said? Maybe the kiss given unasked for and unwanted? Here we move into the realm of Concepts. As the first level Concepts such as A Slap, are the integration of two or more perceptions with their measurements abstracted away, a second or higher level concept is an integration of two or more concepts.

Two or more remarkable instances, are noted and joined into points of caution, if reinforced, then perhaps into a practice, if applicable for others as well, our Geico caveman may eventually abstract them further upwards into polite manners. From the first integration more are possible, and not just more, but in an upwards direction, fewer, as a higher level concept is developed which is applicable to... an infinite number of particular applications. As Concepts, that makes sense; as particulars... not so much.

There are many choices open to the person slapped, to further and deepen their knowledge of human relations, proper conduct, right and wrong, wise and unwise… but unlike the sensations integrated into the perception of having been slapped, and of those perceptions being abstracted away from a particular instance of being slapped, into the first level concept of A Slap, to progress into higher level concepts, the integration of two or more concepts, the thinker has to choose to think their way into the higher levels. It cannot be forced, it cannot progress without their attention and choice to engage in reflective thinking, there must be some volitional choice made ‘To Think’ in order to extend and deepen the gathering, integration and organization of their knowledge. That 'To Think' is a first level cause and action all itself, at some point, you've got to abandom "Why, and just say "There was no cause but his volitional choice".

Important to remember though, because it is very easy to lose sight of the ground, that beneath all concepts, and that is ranging all the way up from A Slap to the concepts of a proper national foreign policy, that beneath all these concepts, there is a reality which they began with, and which they organize and clarify your proper relation to. If you have concepts you cannot trace back down to its root in reality, very likely what you have is an invalid, fictional, concept, having no basis in Reality and so untrue - or not being able to do so, you've cast a once valid concept into a floating abstraction, with no anchor in reality.

Our concepts stem from our ability to perceive reality as it is. It is important to realize that prior to the formation of concepts, your sense perceptions do deliver you information about reality, they come first and your higher concepts would not be developed without them.

Absent that, what use would sense perceptions be? If that were untrue, you would be blind because you have eyes to see, deaf because you had ears to hear, and unconscious because you have a consciousness conscious of nothing at all. Any attack from either a skeptic or a wild eyed mystic, telling you that reality is unreal, or that you are unable to perceive it, is an attack upon every concept, principle, ideal and value you hold dear in life, and it is important that you be aware of this because they have been under its assault for well over a century.

Our senses, assuming their healthy state, are governed by the same rules of chemistry and physics which govern the combining of hydrogen and oxygen into water. Our eyes transmit through a series of causal physical instances via lens, rods and cones, and optic nerves to our brain, the information those physical impressions of reality generated.

Note for the mentally impaired (meaning college professors, their enablers, college students and other wackademic types): this is not yet describing the level of our judgment and psychology, either at the level of brain function, where the brain delivers up its best guess of an object being viewed, or at conscious level where we can make incorrect guesses, perhaps under urgent stress, based upon incomplete or mistaken data, or through the application of fear or desire; here we’re still looking at the effectiveness of the senses in connecting us with the world we are within.

The old saw of "we don't see the world as it is, just look at someone who is color blind!", is self refuting on the face of it as well; the color blind man, is receiving accurate information about the world around him, as conveyed through the visual apparatus he possess - his sight is no less accurate than someone with unimpaired color vision; his sight is no less accurate than a black and white T.V. is less accurate than a color T.V., it is only absent some levels of the red and green light spectrum which most people have the ability to discriminate within, his sight is not inaccurate, only not as full as a normally sighted person. Just as we aren’t considered blind or visually defective because we don’t see the full range of infra-red and ultra-violet light which our instruments tell us exist, we are not considered color impoverished, or visually impaired, or conclude that our eyes lie to us about the world.

Absolute comprehensiveness is not a requirement of accuracy, comprehensiveness can even detract from the ability to convey accuracy – imagine a map that’s so cluttered with massive amounts of detail, rather than just significant landmarks and roads. Now, if someone looked at a Christmas tree and perceived a gorilla, not as a psychological delusion (waaay beyond our scope here) but as visual information, then we’d indeed have a problem – but our senses don’t capriciously convey valid and invalid data to us about the world, they operate in accordance with the laws of physics and chemistry, and are reliable within their range of operations, to tell us about the world.

We acquire information of the world, through our senses which operate through the very same laws of Physics as the world obeys. To say that you distrust your own senses is the same as saying that you distrust telephones or closed cirtuit T.V. or chemical reactions or electricity. Tell me, are other creatures decieved by their senses as well? Do dogs and cats see bones and catnip where there is only rocks and astro turf? Or is it just the Human brand of nerve fibre that creates deceptive images?

Anyone who attempts to tell you differently, is attempting – explicitly or implicitly, deliberately or inadvertently/negligently - to destroy your mind and your ability to live a proper Human life.

At the other end to this sensory chain, there are the objects of reality we are perceiving. Sadly, in this modern day and age of philosophic corruption, it is probably necessary to point out that it is important to remember that there are objects in reality, which you perceive, and their status is not diminished by what or how much of them which we are able to perceive. A favorite con of professors is to say that at the atomic level, a table is actually composed mostly of space, and therefore what we perceive as solid is in reality not so, reality is but illusion and deception, games our senses play upon us through the agreed upon customs of common convention.

B.S. . And particularly stinky B.S. at that.

The next person to foist that upon you, offer to slam their face, at the full extent of your muscular abilities, into the nearest table, in order that they could better experience the spacious illusions of the cultural conventions we deceive ourselves to be a ‘hard table’. I submit that they will quickly yield to the reality they know full well is absolute and factual and true, entirely based upon what they know their senses will reliably transmit about their damaged cellular structure of their nervous system and finally into their brain, where their mind will writhe in the pain, letting them clearly know that their nose is in fact broken, blood is in fact leaking in bulk from their face, and that from the cause of their words, an action was produced, which resulted in their just deserts.

One of the properties of hard tables, and pretty much all material objects, is that an out of context examination of them at the sub-atomic level would appear to show more space between those sub-atomic particles than ‘solid’ particles, however this structure, which is spanned by sub-atomic forces (all of which we’ve learned through rigorous application of Reason to sense data, and which indicates that there is still much more to learn) which are an indispensible feature of the properties we perceive as hardness, softness, etc. Were we somehow shrunken to the size of sub-atomic quarks, we would experience a table as mostly space, because in the context of that size, it would ‘visibly’ be so, but that doesn’t in anyway diminish the fact that by the laws of atomic physics, chemistry and broken noses, up here at the macro atomic level within which we operate, and by those same laws which govern the behavior of quarks, the table is quite solid to the touch because of those spaces and forces, and barring any chemical reactions, will remain so. Just as a color blind man accurately perceives the visual range of the world available to him, as does the normal sighted person, so too we experience reality as it is in our context of it. And no, the fact that there seem to be different laws of physics operating at the macro world than in the micro world, doesn’t alter this fact one bit, because the context is different, doesn’t point to inconsistency, only differing contexts.

Existence exists, and it exists as it is, by virtue of what it is, and it does so with or without our understanding or belief in that. The objects in reality have identity by virtue of their existence as that which they are. H2O IS water, by virtue of the sub-atomic and atomic nature of the molecules atoms, and the chemical bonding which combines them into molecules of water, which is what our current context of knowledge tells us. If in the future, other more detailed and in-depth laws are discovered, they won't invalidate what we now know, only show it to be incomplete and less precise. Because of that same atomic structure and the laws of physics which we’ve been able to divine through study of them, those molecules of H2O, if uncontaminated by other chemicals, will freeze at 32* F, and will float upon the unfrozen water, with one third of their surface rising above the waters level, and will have a bluish-white hue. None of these fact are optional or contingent facts about the nature, qualities and behavior of H2O, and claiming that they some portion of them are optional, is another favorite ploy of professors, that some features of reality are necessary and some only contingent.

They make the claim that ‘we can imagine ice that sinks, or that on mars perhaps ice burns and floats in the air’, so those are contingent, but ice being hard is necessary - this is gibberish; to claim that any of the properties of H2O are merely contingent facts, and not ‘necessary facts’ such as ‘you can’t imagine a square circle or a married bachelor’ is an assault upon all of reality at once – the audacity of which no mere jungle shaman would dream of attempting. It betrays not only a complete lack of knowledge about reality, about physics, about what concepts are and how we form them, and about the proper role and nature of Philosophy, but a shunning of any such knowledge. This actually tells you more about the stunted conceptual midget that he is, rather than anything about reality or philosophy. Any professor who attempts to present this as an act of reasoning, you should consider as an intellectual attack upon all you know, love, value and believe, and upon your ability to pursue and achieve happiness at all.

The Guiding Dark
Doubt, the guiding dark of Descartes and Hume, by its very nature, disintegrates Reality. This is where Hume went wrong, he dropped the wider context of questioning how entities existed within reality, for doubts fragmentalizing illusion of separate entities, and their ever smaller fragments, that somehow interacted separately – causelessly - and with such a perspective, even the entities themselves are but fragmented particulars whose ‘completeness’ is seen as illusion. Hume looked for ‘causality’ as if it were “a thing in itself”, separate from and somehow sheparding the conduct of one billiard ball as if by some sort of a disembodied angel of billiardness, as it crashed into another, rather than seeing the inevitable results of the properties which make up its Identity; the sub-atomic, atomic, molecular, chemical properties together and under the influence of gravitation, force and energy… in short: the nature of billiard balls and the billiard tables they roll upon.

It’s tempting to cut Hume some slack as he was writing before the full understanding of Newton and Boyle, let alone Einstein… but nahhh… there was enough metaphysical understanding of reality even in Aristotle’s day, to identify and call such scribbling’s the deluded or malicious thoughts (Descartes and Hume I don’t regard as malicious, though there ideas do prove to be, Rousseau I think was malicious… Kant I waffle upon, leaning more towards maliciousness than not) which such skepticism is and always has been, and unavoidably will always lead to. And while Hume was more intent upon doubting, than discovering, Kant was more intent on propping up his anemic view of faith and preventing any doubting of it, than in discovering reality, and he very nearly destroyed both – WWII and USSR can both be laid directly at the feet of his philosophical pretexts.

Keep in mind, to Doubt, as a practice, is not the same as to question, for to question is to seek proper integrations, seek integrations that are not fully known but which you have some indication to suspect, or to correct, integrations – doubt, on the other hand, doubts for doubts sake, it only disintegrates, requiring no more reason to doubt than "...but maybe it's not..." and it is a fatal error to mistake one for the other.

Hume fell for the Zenoistic trap of seeking more, or inappropriate, information than is proper to the nature of the subject at hand. The doubters mania is for further discrediting known causes for unknown causes located further beyond and outside the current scope… an inability to accept that there is a point beyond which there is no further cause. They pretend to seek answers, but that is the one thing that they will go to any lengths, to avoid. An Answer. A supposition that fronts for doubts, that's ok, but an Answer? Fughedaboudit. Questioning is mature, adult; Doubt is adolescent. By making doubts his primary, rather than by not reflecting upon whether or not he was respecting Reality, Identity and Consciousness, Hume didn’t Question how Causality took place, he Doubted that it did, or if it did, that we could know it, and as a result he plunged headlong into his blind pool, and became one of the significant misosophers (hater of wisdom) who helped to derail all of modernity, and delivered us into the clutches of everything from Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, to modern art, body piercing and plotless ‘literature’.

Free Will
Everything in Reality -and that’s pretty much the whole shootin’ match - has Identity. H2O, billiard balls, and your consciousness. You are conscious of the twisted lines upon this page, you perceive the visual sensations as fitting with the classes of lines which are recognized as letters, which your conceptual knowledge and training has enabled you to use them to read the words they stand for, and identify their meaning, and you can choose to try and understand them, or you can reject them out of hand “This fool probably voted for Bush! What rubbish!”, that is the nature of the identity of the consciousness you possess, and through which you perceive and interact with the world around you. You are conscious, you have consciousness, and the nature of that consciousness is that you are conscious of the objects in reality before you, you perceive them, you examine and think about them, and you do so either with an effort to understand, evade or dismiss what I’m saying here, as you choose to, exercising your free will, the volitional control of your mind.

That is just as much a part of your identity as a human being, as hardness is to that of H20 once it is frozen. You cannot not be conscious, you cannot not be aware of the world around you, and you cannot avoid making choices about your actions in the world around you, even if that choice is to make no choices other than the default buffeting of the low level animalistic reactions to the world around you. You are a Human Being, possessing self awareness, conscious of your thoughts and actions, and are able to choose what thoughts you will think, and what actions you will take.

You can deny, or attempt to evade that reality, but only through dishonestly miscasting or evading some aspect of Reality, Identity and Consciousness, but doing so puts you in opposition to, even into a state of war with, all the other aspects of reality as well.

Whether consciousness and free will are derived from an immortal soul, or is generated through the ultimate physical structures of our brains or some field generated by our physical body, or some interaction of both, which give rise to consciousness… whatever the case may be, the fact is that You do Exist, you know it, and you have to choose what to do about it. Choosing to believe that something other than you, the quality of your reflections and your choices to act based upon them, are responsible for your actions, is somewhere along the continuum between mistaken, inaccurate or dishonest, and doing so leads to inaccuracies and dishonesty. A case in point:

Free Will Study
In a clever new study, psychologists Kathleen Vohs at the University of Minnesota and Jonathan Schooler at the University of California at Santa Barbara tested this question by giving participants passages from The Astonishing Hypothesis, a popular science book by Francis Crick, a biochemist and Nobel laureate (as co-discoverer, with James Watson, of the DNA double helix). Half of the participants got a passage saying that there is no such thing as free will. The passage begins as follows: "'You,' your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. Who you are is nothing but a pack of neurons."

The passage then goes on to talk about the neural basis of decisions and claims that "…although we appear to have free will, in fact, our choices have already been predetermined for us and we cannot change that."

The other participants got a passage that was similarly scientific-sounding, but it was about the importance of studying consciousness, with no mention of free will. After reading the passages, all participants completed a survey on their belief in free will. Then comes the inspired part of the experiment. Participants were told to complete 20 arithmetic problems that would appear on the computer screen. But they were also told that when the question appeared, they needed to press the space bar, otherwise a computer glitch would make the answer appear on the screen, too. The participants were told that no one would know whether they pushed the space bar, but they were asked not to cheat. The results were clear: those who read the anti-free will text cheated more often! (That is, they pressed the space bar less often than the other participants.) Moreover, the researchers found that the amount a participant cheated correlated with the extent to which they rejected free will in their survey responses.

Now the funny part, is that the Determinist will take this as a proof that Free Will is illusory, and their actions were caused, rather than rationalized by, reading the study. Not surprising. This belief in the Stimulus/Response view of consciousness has been the basis of our educational system, beginning in the theories of Wundt and progressing through to the pedagogical theories of Dewey, James Cattell(the father of American illiteracy, with his abandoning of phonics for 'see and say') and so on. Take a walk into a school library, look at the pictures on the walls. Some big time actor will be holding a book, and captioned with “Reading is FUNdamental!” Take a look at the grades of that school, and see how well the reading responses to those stimuli have performed, as against the Educational methods of the 18th & 19th century. Reason requires attention, content and studied reflection. Absent that, Reason becomes nothing but response.

Because people are free to rationalize their actions, is not a criticism of free will, but of undisciplined methods of Reasoning. I'll bet that the people in the study were not what I would call, Eduated people. People with undisciplined, even uneducated reasoning methods, are more likely to lack an understanding of the importance of honesty and integrity in their lives and how they extend into the soundness of your very soul. Such people are also unlikely to think much beyond any perceived momentary comforts and gains, such people are open to any excuse that seems to justify to rationalizing away seemingly unnecessary efforts and needs for accountability, as did the test takers in the study with their multiplication spacebar; it does not offer any criticism of Free Will, if anything, it demonstrates it.

But I said ‘more likely’… there are many, many people with little or no formal education, having learned what they’ve learned through pointed stories – quite possibly biblical – and trained only in hard work, who nevertheless fully understand the importance of honesty and integrity, and would no more think of cheating, than of robbing banks. The key is not in stimulus or response, but in the structural integrity of what understanding and grasp of the hierarchy of Truth they do have, that there is no such thing as ‘an isolated’ or compartmentalized action., that small behaviors make up, and may damage, their character and their lives in far reaching ways. That is something which a deterministic outlook will never fully grasp.

The other problem for those indulging in any form of self-deception or rationalization is, that the 1st person who is unwilling to indulge such diversions, the one who engages their mind and refuses to let his conclusions outrun the available evidence, will be able to discover and expose the Truth of the matter, because our senses do connect us with Reality – for a mind willing to engage it. The situation of the so called ‘N’ Ray (just a coincidence) is a prime example of both those willing to indulge in sloppy thinking to promote themselves and their pet theories, and someone who was not willing to ignore reality. The former is ‘natural’ and typical of non western cultures, the later, exemplifying the ideals of Western culture (that’s exemplify, not indemnify), the systematic use of Reason, is very much atypical among world cultures, and the reason why the Western way has dominated Science and the modern world… it doesn’t however exempt us from a tendency towards sloppy thinking… but again, that is a sloppy use of the evidence of our senses, not a failure of the senses to report to us the state of reality we find ourselves in.

Can I deny that causes exist for our decisions and actions? No, of course not. Obviously environmental factors prompt perspectives and frames of mind. History & experience, education will guide choices into awareness. But they cannot determine your Volitional choice to do or not do, that action. Ask any dieters who follow a list of steps, or a salesmen’s “Ten Steps to Super Success and Wealth!” book – or any other form of listicism – steps are only steps, they can’t make you choose to follow through.

Let me sidetrack myself here for a moment, with another comment by “Ray”, who made a comment on my Liberal Fascism Pt. 1 post, as I was finishing this post, defending the idea that our senses are not reliable transmitters of reality to our consciousness. As an example he ref’d Percival Lowell, the astronomer who first turned a powerful telescope on Mars, and seeing the lines criss-crossing its surface, concluded that they were the canals and evidence of intelligent life upon Mars.

“Then a whole lot of postprocessing goes into our perception - look at Lowell's "martian canals". I don't think he was delusional. Rather, his desires, working near the limit of resolution of his instruments, led to him actually seeing canals."

Ray doesn’t get the separation between judgment and perception, and assumes that because people can make inaccurate conclusions based upon insufficient data, that that calls the reliability of our senses into question. He then continued,

“But just because we don't "see things as they in fact Are" doesn't mean we have to leap directly to the opposite conclusion that we can't know anything about reality. We do get sensory inputs, they're coming from somewhere, so we analyze them carefully and construct theories to account for that data ..."

Do you follow this? Ray really enjoys it when I translate what he didn’t say, into what what he said actually meant, so let me give it another go “This shouldn’t cause you to doubt what you can’t depend upon, just have confidence (based upon… what? shh!) that some of this stuff isn’t complete b.s…. but since you can’t really be sure which is which, just gather a bunch of it together, throw it against the wall, see what sticks and go with a consensus average” Ray admits to not having read Hume “In the original” (Ray… he spoke pretty good English, even for a Scotsman, you won’t need a whole lot of translation to read it ‘in the original’), I’m betting he probably didn’t read Kant either, but this isn’t a bad summation of him. Ray elaborates,

"Occam's Razor is important here. There are literally an infinite number of possible theories to account for what we perceive (including the 'brain in a vat' theories). There are an infinite number of theories consistent with any set of data you can come up with, such that you can't disprove any of them. So how do you pick? Since they are all equivalent, you pick the simplest. Occam's Razor, all by itself, shaves off the 'brain in a vat' theories.”

There may be an infinite number of possible theories (you have to know Ray’s comment style at OC to appreciate this imitation of his ‘missing the point’ style, but here goes “Ray, you may not realize it, but ‘infinite’ doesn’t refer to an actual number, only an unending continuum, there can’t be “literally an infinite number of possible theories”(that was fun)). However, I’m sure that is the case when you’ve discarded reality, Truth, Principles and our ability to grasp both conceptually, but when you don’t chuck your most valuable human assets, you’ll find that there are only a very limited number of plausible theories, limited by applicable principles which integrate the findings of our senses into a manageable knowledge of reality, and make it possible for us to know ourselves and the world we live in. What Ray proposes is what amounts to 'since we can’t know reality, we should slash away at it with Occam’s Razor, and what happens to remain standing, is worth keeping'.


What I want to ask Ray, is, why is it so surprising to you that Lowell said that he saw canals on Mars? I don’t think he was deluded either, he had pet dreams and aspirations, some evidence and no unavoidable contradictory evidence in the way, and so he felt free, and even justified, to jump to his pet theory. I also suspect that people a hundred years hence will have similar questions about our beliefs in man made glowbull warming. Lowell, was a pretty exuberant, showmany kind of guy – that together with the less than stellar quality of telescopes used at the time, he took some existing reports and theories, and came to the conclusion he wanted to be so and ran with them which was hardly out of character for him. As a human being, you are also free to believe what you want to believe, you have free will, and such determinations as Lowell’s are prime examples of it – if we were ‘creatures’ of determined consciousness, no such things would be possible (… ohhh is that it? A little bit of fear of the responsibilities of Awareness maybe? I suppose that in order to believe in determinism, you HAVE to believe that the senses are ‘faulty’ in order to cling to a rejection of free will? Ahh… well you are free to, but sorry, no, it still doesn’t work), you can make errors; you can choose to ‘err’ to avoid reality, to pretend, to benefit from the doubt of it. Self deception (self-evasion I think is more accurate, but....) is a choice available to us, it would not, however, be an option to a deterministic ‘consciousness’ – just one more perk of having Free Will.

The focus of awareness
The fear of awareness and volition go hand in hand, as do chronic doubt and ungrounded desires – there’s a reason why our modernity is as prone to the progeny of doubt – skepticism and cynicism – as it is, and also prone towards such high flown flights of fanciful utopianism. The modernist mind is always sure there’s another 'answer' … just beyond the horizon, outside of themselves are the answers to all of their problems, it seems very much as if it has to be outside instead of inside of themselves, anything but that, and with that outside answer attained, their problems will be solved (or absolved?), that missing piece of the puzzle will make all else fall into place of its own weight, requiring no further thoughts or actions of them. For them, it is a matter of faith, that there is no One Answer, actually there are unlimited multiple quantities of answers, and you just need to find one that works (or as Ray just noted “literally an infinite number of possible theories”) – if the current one doesn’t work, no need to discover any underlying reason Why, just get a new answer! There’s tons of em! He who doubts the existence of his own senses, let alone his own self, is sure to yearn for sugar candy mountain.

J. S. Mill and others like him say, in effect, that we are never able to know ALL the possible options, and since we can't be conscious of something we don't know of, we aren't free to choose form them and we aren't even free to choose from all the possible options... in other words, we can only be aware of those options we have in mind, and what we will to do, but since that is already only the list of options which prior causes and events have put into our mind, we are only seemingly freely selecting from options that have already been determined, and the later ninnies would then say that statistical probabilities and algorithms' 'click' into one of the determined pockets, which we then psychologically experience the illusion of having 'freely chosen' to do it.

Not having omnipotent awareness of options, not having every possible option at hand to choose from, is hardly a criticism of choosing one of the options you have considered of your own volition. Of course the options I do consider are derived from knowledge, experience, desires and emotions and quite possibly highlighted by events in your environment, but having a known origination of, or a motive for, a choice, doesn't determine my choice, there is nothing in having options and preferences, and more or less information and understanding about them, that makes it necessary to choose one option or another. Neither is realizing the correct answer, in any way, a predetermination of your actions in choosing what is right.

The process of generating options is certainly enhanced by history and events, as well as possessing a greater understanding of the relative merits of the available options over a period of time, but those options are only presented to you via your conscious and unconscious processes as if a number of switches, or perhaps open circuits would be a better illustration, given YOUR role in the decision, the open circuit will not be completed, until you actively choose to complete it, and for most decisions in life, they aren't over and done with in the moment, you've got to maintain that choice you've chosen, over a period of time. As anyone who has ever decided to go on a diet, or make a major life change, knows very well, you have to actively and continually CHOOSE to sustain that choice, and volitionally keep to that course of action. If you release your conscious grip, the circuit opens and the decision is lost - also of your own free will.

It might be helpful to imagine these switches as being conceptually spring loaded, with the choices that are the least familiar and compatible with your past interests and choices, requiring more force to be applied to keep those spring loaded circuits connected, and depending on the compatible precedent of past decisions, you may be able to almost absent mindedly make and maintain a decision; but if your past desires and past habits have been in opposition to this one, you will have to maintain something like a tri-athletes will, determination and effort in maintaining the new choice you have chosen.

Then there are those like our buddy Ray, who maintain that we don't know what processes, genes and environmental factors, result in our experiencing the illusion of 'free will'. They argue, really, that due to unknown causes of our volitional acts, causes that make our choices necessary due to mechanistic and environmental causes - of which they don't understand the nature or extent of - due to our ignorance of what causes us to choose - in ways we are ignorant of - and in opposition to the direct evidence of our own experience which we all can directly be aware of - we should discard the evidence of ... not just our own senses, but of our direct experience... in favor of what they are not only ignorant of, but could never be knowledgeable of! He, and they, then have the nerve to speak of Occam’s Razor and of the Scientific Method.

Our own direct experience demonstrates beyond a reasonable doubt, that free will is not based upon some illusory epicycles of ignorance, but upon our volitional action of choosing to do one thing, over an other. A rational person informs their choices by a systematic reasoning, and our choosing is aided by the certainty of our Knowledge, but we still have to choose! Determinists are really seeking after a world where they can just line up the dominos in the external world, tip the first one over, and have everything else happen through material cause and effect - but Physics isn't worthy to measure the moral understanding, or to control it - sorry guys, but there is no determined road to nirvana. You will never escape the burden of having to choose, or of being responsible for the choices you have chosen to make.

But that doesn't stop them from continuing to evade who and what they are, and the lengths to which they'll go are 'literally infinite' (or perhaps ... legion), in order to evade self responsibility.

Here's another theory for evasion, the notion that we only choose that choice which is most determined by statistical algorithms of neural synaptic averages, and though for some reason we are entertained with the experience, it is the neurological final 4 elimination rounds of options, where it is the heaviest, most weighted motive which wins the decision derby, and we just cheer the process from the mental grandstands. One problem is that we all have direct experience of all of the 'strongest option', and though they'll argue over whether it's most weighted in favor of pleasure, gain, fear, sex, etc, but we all have direct experience (assuming you have some semblance of maturity) in choosing against what you most wanted to do, based upon that factor. And let’s not ignore what their position implies here – that choosing what we do want to choose because we want it and because it makes sense… because something IS the logical thing to do, then that would somehow discredit Free Will… by choosing what you see as being the right choice? Because it is logical and right?! Idiots!

However, they will usually argue then that what we most thought we wanted, wasn't what we REALLY wanted, else we wouldn't have chosen it, to which I say - exactly. Against all the differing options available, we are able to evaluate them, and our personal interests, and freely choose to do that which seems in our judgment, to be the best choice possible... or ignore the wise choice, and go with what is immature, frivolous and unwise.

We have the Freedom of Will, to volitionally choose our thoughts and actions, and the attempt to repudiate that, is, if maintained against full thoughtful consideration, a craven choice to hide from your responsibility to develop your own soul in a worthwhile manner. And extended into the political realm, results in ever escalating forms of totalitarianism - if people don't have free will, they have no rights, and no rights to complain of being violated, then the only plausible purpose of Gov't is to make choices for you, and arrange incentives, like cheese and electrical shocks for mice, to create the ideal society the elites say is best for you - leftist utopianism.

To new atheists, and old alchemists, from the ground up
Ok, lets apply this from the ground up. Knowing what we can and should know now, as civilized human beings, seeking to live a worthwhile life, what should and must be known. We are alive in this world and to remain living in it, we must think. To advance beyond the level of chasing down any varmint that strays into view in order to remain alive, we must think beyond our momentary reaction to the world we perceive immediately around us, to think ahead, to organize and plan, in order to fully use our tool of survival.

Each creature has some attributes or abilities which enable them to act and survive. Ours is not just our grey matter, but the way in which we are able to use it. Lions have teeth, claws, powerful limbs, and a very clever brain that allows them to hunt and kill prey, and maintain their determined and limited social unit, a pride of lions, for safety and propagation, but their brains, and their way of using them, limits what they will be able to do and what they have the potential to become.

Human Beings are agile creatures, and while not particularly strong or imposing in the flesh, our brain possesses an awareness of mind that frees us of the limitations of the lions brain, we are not bound to the perceptual level of consciousness, and so at the point where the lion has reached its limits, our mind is just getting started, the unlimited depth of our conceptual mind is capable of turning the entire environment into either a weapon, or a source of shelter and comfort.

Our minds are limited however, limited by reality and its requirements upon us. As Bacon put it, "Nature to be commanded, must be obeyed". To live at all, requires food and shelter. To gain those values we must think and act, in concert with reality, in order to gain those values necessary for life. And yet for those values to make living possible, we must be able to use and retain them. All the forethought in the world would be useless, if every fish we caught, every bushel of wheat we harvested, every shelter we built, were immediately taken from us. To survive, we must retain the values we obtain by virtue of our thought and actions, retaining the use of what we create is part of the use and purpose of having the tool of survival which we have.

Imagine if a animal wasn't allowed to retain and eat what its nature had enabled it to kill. But then, if you've ever watched wild kingdom where the lion waits, watches and takes the prey that the cheetah has brought down, you know that that IS the reality of their world. To make a claim to being Human, you've first got to rise above the nature of the lion.

When we turn our conceptualizing faculty of Reason from the world we live in, towards the way we live in it, we begin to abstract upwards to discover what is good and proper for us to think and do, in order to live successfully, to extend the depth and power of our thought, we remove the particulars, in this case ourselves, from the concept, not out of selflessness, but in order to better secure and extend our understanding of ourselves.

In doing that, one of the first things that have to go up on the philosophical scoreboard, is, I am alive and wish to remain so. Dropping the particulars to rise to a wider truth, should lead you to realize that Your life is the purpose of living, if you forget this it is your life that will be reduced.

The second is, we must not only think, but pay attention to what is true, and think rationally in order to obtain what we need to survive. Abstracting upwards, Truth and Reasoning Rationally are vital to our lives, Truth must be revered.

Third, since our life is the reason why we think and act, we think and act in order to create and use the goods and values we've determined our life requires. Man, in order to live, must use reason and must be free to retain the values he creates.

Every philosophical primary has been said or implied in these three points, the rest is just plumbing the depths.

1. Existence exists.
2. What exists, exists as something.
3. We are conscious of that, and of ourselves, in our awareness of our awareness of that.
4. To live, is why we have the minds we do, and our minds are to serve our lives, its ultimate value.
5. Man’s life is the ultimate value, as he wishes his own to be respected; he must not harm or destroy another’s life, or the goods created for living it.

For our minds to be effective in providing the values needed for our survival, we must respect reality, using our experience of it to plan ahead and act to obtain what we need. Man must have right to what his mind provides him, and so must respect that same right of others to think, act and be secure in the values they produce to further their lives.

Men gain greatly by association with our fellow humans, and we are able to join in an ever expanding social unit. That social unit can contribute to our life, or it can hinder, damage, even destroy it, if it doesn't respect these basic Truths just covered, they are the governors of societal progress.

Surveying not only history, but our current world, we can see that these truths act as a governor upon the advancement, lack, or retarding, of society and its inhabitants. Stone age level tribes of New Guinea, having little or no understanding of the nature of the world around them, other than what is available to the perceptual grasp, live little better than animals, having no food or shelter other than what they can see. They have customs, but no laws or rights, they have tribal families, but no society other than that of continuous tribal warfare and blood vengeance, they have implements, but no industry, they live, but have no private lives, they live in nature, but are almost unable to live beyond it or in spite of it.

As societies begin to recognize the nature of nature, they rise to agricultural societies, tribal life gives way to village, city and state as law protects and arbitrates disagreements, metes out punishment where due, and keeps the peace for trust to build and flourish in trade and division of labor, if these requirements are met, then industrial and technological advancements soon follow..

The longer range a people are able to plan, relatively secure in the expectation of being able to gain from their plans and actions, the greater their mastery of environment, industry and wealth in food, shelter and society.

But societies will not rise above the level of their vices. Aggressive warfare, slavery, fragile or inconsistent law, will not permit the conceptual depth necessary to progress from the primitive, to the third world, second world and first world civilizations we still manage to enjoy today. Two of the reasons for this, are that force destroys reason, and also as the people lose their virtues and permit vice to flourish, that society will slide back down the scale from civilization, towards barbarism.

The Details
The details that need to be filled in for these broad brushstrokes, are, what is Reason, what are Values, what are Laws, what are Virtues and what do they all require in order to be.

I gave a list of going definitions on the first post of my Reasons of Reason series, but this is fairly typical, from Websters online:
Main Entry: 1rea•son Pronunciation: \'re-z?n\ Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English resoun, from Anglo-French raisun, from Latin ration-,
ratio reason, computation, from reri to calculate, think; probably akin to
Gothic rathjo account, explanation Date: 13th century
1 a: a statement offered in explanation or justification gave reasons that were quite
satisfactory b: a rational ground or motive a good reason to act
soon c: a sufficient ground of explanation or of logical defense ;
especially : something (as a principle or law) that supports a conclusion or
explains a fact the d: the thing that makes some fact intelligible : cause the the
real reason why he wanted me to stay — Graham Greene
2 a (1): the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking especially in orderly rational ways :
intelligence (2): proper exercise of the mind (3): sanity b: the sum of the
intellectual powers3archaic : treatment that affords satisfaction— in reason :
rightly , justifiably— within reason : within reasonable limits— with reason :
with good cause

Which I find to be completely inadequate.

So let me again state more clearly what I mean by Reason. To start, I think that any definition of Reason, must be applicable to any functioning human being, whether it be an infant (which I suspect applies pre and post birth), a savage, a college professor, a parent, a businessman, or any other. Reason is not just 'thinking'. Animals think. To reason, you must choose to do so, or rather it is your choice to understand, not just react, but your desire to understand, in purposeful action, that initiates reasoning. It is the desire to understand, that self propels the conceptualizing process of abstracting upwards, with which reason gains in strength. Reason makes use not only of perceptual experience, but by associating and differentiating, generalizing in order to abstract upwards and converts perceptual experience into conceptual knowledge; it enables us to apply timelessness to our goals within time, in order to advance your goals. The deeper and more integrated the conceptual structure you build through this process, the more solid your knowledge becomes, and the more powerful your reasoning becomes.

Reason is the process of purposefully focusing your attention and imagination towards the achievement of a goal, using the current input of your senses, and the past experiences derived from them, in order to achieve that goal. The goal itself is irrelevant, it could be, as is the case of an infant’s wordless 'wtf?' in response to the sounds, pressures and temperatures around them in the womb or whizzing by them in their crib, or Socrates 'Tell me Menon, what do you say the nature of Virtue is?' .

What you use to get to the goal, is the part that is what is relevant.

Your reasoning, to be of value, must be in accordance with what you know of reality, imagination is a core component of the process, but if you don't deliberately tie it to reality, it will float away into never-never land. Reason can only be a tool of survival in a world that can be known and evaluated, and where the creature in the presence of a ‘Value’, is able and willing to recognize it as such.

If the senses are unreliable and incapable of transmitting our surroundings to us, or past our wishes for what we'd rather see, then we would be able to know nothing whatsoever, or able to rely in anyway upon what we imagined we knew. A world where your mind is leftist enough to tell you that what you want to be real is more real than what is real, is a world where we would be eating baked rocks in a potato famine. Such a creature wouldn't even have made it to the caveman stage.

Existence exists, we are conscious of ourselves as a result of being aware of existence, and in that awareness we perceive the identity (to varying degrees of granularity) of what it is that, that which exists, exists as. The degree to which we focus our awareness upon both what exists, and what our lives require for its full existence, while keeping our desires and conclusions in check with the facts as they are and in a systematic fashion – that is the degree to which this tool of Reason can be honed and used to lift us above the merely human animal existence, into the realm of Human civilization.

If this were not so, then WE would not exist, for we exist with a very severe mandate – identify what is needed for survival, and obtain it, and without destroying what enables you to survive - Reason - or die.

Again, it is not enough to grasp reality at the perceptual level, or to create individual items to deal with it, like a fishing pole, we must integrate our perceptions AND our conceptions with a wider grasp of reality as it actually is. A fishing rod is great for fishing, not so much for bear hunting, and it must adhere to reality and what you know of it. In order to survive, you must use reason in an integrated fashion with all that you know to be true - and what you know must be, to some degree, True.

To break it down to the ridiculous, if you were faced with a need for food, but seeing no food laying about in the open for you to eat, if you did nothing else, you would starve. You laugh, but a cow does just that when snow covers the grass, it will stand there and starve (or so I'm told), not knowing, or able to know, to brush away the snow to get to the food.

As a human being, you are able to satisfy your hunger, through the use of reason, to find and eat food, that isn't there waiting for you - but every step of the way, you have to choose to do what is necessary, to achieve that food.

Imagine you are an inexperienced person out in the woods, hungry, sitting by a pond. You have a desire - to eat, but no idea of how to do so. Somewhat absently, you watch the ripples spreading out on the pond as fish surface to feed. It occurs to you, those fish would solve your hunger problem... if you could get to them. You begin to think upon how to get them - now you have a goal. Your attention begins racing over your surroundings, or more precisely, you race your focus of attention about your surroundings, looking for perceptual answers, you see a stick but you don't see how you could successfully wallop a fish with a stick, they'd be gone with your first step in the water.

Sitting back you begin to think upon your goal, your situation, what you see, what you know... and how to rearrange them into a way to achieve your goal. The fish leap up and eat the flies... those same flies that are bugging the heck out of you as you swat one, and look at it... if you could use that fly to bring the fish to you... looking around there are sticks... pond grass... brambles... you begin creatively imagining how to use what you have, how you could change and rearrange your surroundings in order to create what you don't have at the moment, a way to bring the fish to you.

Fingering the long grass, noting the frayed ends, you yank some out... the ridges and frayed ends... you strip the grass into lengths and tie them together, break off a long stick and tie the lengths to the stick... stripping a bramble thorn, you tie one end to the improvised string, and poke the thorn through the horse fly, and whip it out over the water... and wait.

Time and again, you try, adjusting here and there, trying to get your fly to appeal to the fish, and how to prevent the fish from just taking it without getting hooked on the thorn, and then once hooked, how to bring it in without the 'string' separating and losing fish, thorn, fly and all. You also have to resist the building frustration over your lack of success, you have to resist charging out into the water and flailing away with the stick in vain attempts to wallop what can't be seen, and scaring the fish away from your area of the pond. You have to remain in cool reasoned control, purposefully focused upon your goal, continually adjusting and moving towards it, until you finally are able to catch a fish, bring it ashore, and accomplish your goal of satisfying your hunger by catching and eating the fish.

Each of those steps involves your making a choice. Each choice must obey nature in order to benefit from it, and sustain those choices over time, adjusting what you wished to happen, with what was actually happening, in order to achieve your goal. Nature to be commanded, must be observed, and obeyed, and it requires from you that you observe, reflect and above all choose and act in a sustained manner over time, putting your imaginative choices into action - in short, reasoning.

To purposefully do anything, you must actively take the mental steps necessary to initiate the process of reasoning, and unless you meet a minimal adherence to reality, you will fail in carrying out your goal of eating the food. If you decided that you really really want the food and really really don't want to move, you'd prefer that the food come to you at your wish, wishing really really hard won't feed you, and you'll starve.

In this context, reasoning 'purposefully' requires imagining, choosing and acting. We may become accustomed to making such choices as reaching out and removing a glass lid from a serving dish and serving up a meal almost absentmindedly, but they are not automatic, and even there you are always free to choose to choose, or evade that need, and just stare at the lidded food, hoping it will come to you - or hoping that destroying the mechanisms of a free market won't destroy your ability to benefit from one. You must of your own self, your own free will, choose, and act both internally and externally.

With that in mind, in order to survive, you must reason out what you need to do to survive. Your success and increasing prosperity depend upon the degree to which your reasoning respects reality, of the facts as you know them AND of how they actually are. You may be taught that it is a fact that chanting particular magic words will cause woodland fairies to bring cooked moose burgers to you, but believing it will not make it so.

The more your grasp of the 'facts as you know them' agree with the facts as they in reality are, the more successful and prosperous you have the possibility of becoming. Your success and prosperity are limited by the degree of disagreement between the facts as you know them, and the facts as they in reality are. Both in terms of woodland faeries, and of yourself and your society, and in devising a system for doing this, the Western style of reasoning has proved so successful, and lifted us above the other cultures of the world (that doesn't necessarily mean it invalidates them, though some it certainly has, but that in important areas, science, law, literature, education, it has lifted us head and shoulders above the rest).

You also have to disengage your emotional reactions, or at least demote them from points that initiate and/or drive your actions, to an advisor status, whose urges must pass the muster of sensible actions within a wider context of life, meaning a conceptual grasp of your position and society. You must reason using the greatest vertical depth of conceptual knowledge available to you, and if possible, extend it still further upwards.

For society to progress beyond the level of the cavemen, an essentially human version of a lions den (or so we presume), there are several discoveries about their environment, themselves and their society that must have been discovered, and respected. For communities to have bridged the gulf from hunter gatherers to agricultural societies, they must have paid sufficient attention to the fact that seeds can be sown, tended and reaped, if certain agriculturally correct steps for doing so were followed and applied to the land at hand. Those practices required and built upon a much deeper and conceptually longer range of knowledge and understanding of nature and society, than the flatter conceptual/perceptual knowledge that is required to follow a herd from one place to the next. Agricultural societies, farming practices, by their very nature, tend to foster divisions of labor in a society and trade among individuals.

The intelligence of Reason and the Stupidity of Force
In such a society, it becomes even more vital that people must respect the fact that it is wrong to take from someone what does not belong to them, not only because stealing all of a farmers wheat leaves no farmer to steal from next year, but because it diminishes the far more valuable trust you have that your efforts stand a reasonable chance of succeeding and improving your life, and that sense extends and ripples far beyond that of just that farmer; to his neighbors, the people he buys and trades with, the people who expect to get grain from him, people who aren't in any obvious way connected or dependent upon him, still see that there is more reason to worry about tomorrow, that putting efforts into it risky ventures over a longer period of time than they can easily foresee, is just not worth the risk of your valuable goods and time. In such a society, the planning of individuals becomes far more long range and integrated with the actions and efforts of others over time, with the need for plows, livestock, tools, supplies, etc, and their expectations of what they can expect others to do, and to behave, and interact with each other, have major long term effects upon the lives of all in that society.

This is what is reflected in the so called "Invisible Hand" that Adam Smith first noted way back in 1776 in his ground breaking "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations", there's nothing mystical or random about it, it is the cumulative effect of people making sensible decisions based upon their own needs and their evaluations of the state and stability of their wider society. In such a society where people are worthy of trusting to exchange value for value, they will be able to progress beyond the barter system into an economic currency based system simplifying their exchanges and interactions - enabling a pig farmer to deal directly with a shoe maker, without first having to arrange a trade through the butcher, and the butcher with the cook and the cook with the leather supplier, in order to finally find a common value to trade. The time and value wasted on such scrounging is eliminated through the use of some vehicle of currency, whether it be attractive seashells or gold coins, to foster the ease of trading goods - this can only be done when enough conceptual understanding of rules and behavior, of trusting that agreements will be met and not broken through forcibly absconding with your value - that enough trust is established that the currency you accepted in lieu of your bushels of wheat, can later be successfully and easily exchanged for other foods, goods and/or services you might need at a later date.

What every society above the cave stage infers from this, to varying degrees, is that 'thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not covet'; the reason why, is because to become more human than predatory animal - civilized - requires that the individuals in a society respect that what another individual in society produces, what they earn, what they create, is at least in some measure, securely theirs. There is a rather sizable chain of reasoning involved there, of people choosing to ponder, choose and act. The chain is wholly dependent upon the trust that others involved will follow through and not forcibly seize your goods in the end, playing you for a sucker.

In whatever society has risen above the level of linguistically enhanced lions dens, you will find an increase of the understanding that men are free to use their reason to obtain for themselves and their families the goods they require and desire. In some, the difference may be barely detectable, in others they may be well understood and specifically codified, but the degree to which the benefits of reason can be forcibly taken away, whether by rampant thievery, communal demand or feudal king, that places a governor upon how far that society can and will rise. Short of preying upon the fruits of neighboring societies, they will not 'succeed' as a society, and the moment that a predatory societies prey, discovers how to defend itself against the predator, that society will fail.

That entire unseen chain of reasoning, is implicit in the operations of "The Invisible Hand", and although rarely acknowledge in our world (due to a century+ of criminal mis-education of our children), it is a significant premise in the rational reasoning of citizens in Western society in general, and America, in particular, that their own life, actions and goods require the recognition and defense, of everyone else's secure right to their life, actions and goods.

For a person to assert that 'my life is my value and I value what you've got - hand it over or die!', is irrational in the extreme, anti-reason and anti-life. They have dropped the entire context of a rational civilized society, that people to live in proximity, must respect each others lives, actions and property, which makes values, goods and life as they know it, possible in the first place.

A person may use the superficial operations of reason to plan a crime, but it is irrational from its very start and on through its goals. Rational reasoning cannot operate insulated from the rest of your life and experience of reality - not and still have any claim to rationality. Logic, to be valid, must agree not only internally, but must integrate externally with reality as well, or else it loses its claim to rationality.

You can declare that you are planning to steal someone’s goods, but a good can only be called such, because it serves some purpose in your life and is in rational accordance with reality. Your reasoning, to be valid, must stand up to that chain of detection from the hierarchical tip, to the perceptual reality, in order to be valid. Merely declaring that "It will serve my happiness to take your money", does not make that a valid, rational chain of reasoning.

As society becomes more diffuse, where those connections between the pig farmer, butcher, cook, leather trader and cobbler become less detectable, the reasoning which all of their lives depends upon, needs a method of quality checking, in order to weed out the false premises and disastrous decisions which mistaken ideas can lead to - absent that, it is a crap shoot whether people and their leaders are making wise decisions as opposed to ones that are emotionally appealing but based upon wishes alone, and that means that the odds are that there will be many disastrous decisions made, and their society will reach a particular level of development and reach no further, for any appreciable length of time.

People need to have a way of determining that saying that "I want what you've got, and so I'm going to take it" is wrong, it isn't sensible, it is wrong and bad for all concerned. Western Civilization owes its all to the method for examing thoughts such as this, and determining whether or not they are rational, which Aristotle first clarified and defined, Logic. Through it, he gave us the first formal method for checking our reasoning, an intellectual technology for reaching past desires and passions, reaching past the perceptual and deep into the conceptual realm in order to root decision making in reality and truth, and making it visible for all to see.

Logic is, in the best summation I've heard, the Art of non-contradictory Identification, the classic example being the syllogism:

All men are mortal,
Socrates is a man,
Therefore Socrates is a mortal man.

Aristotle explored the twists and turns of possible arrangements of premises and strategies for presenting them and exposed the thinking patterns which might appear appealing, but in fact were in error from the start. He showed that can be made, where it appears to follow the form, but drops something vital, such as the fallacy of the undistributed middle,

Some men are thieves
Socrates is a man,
Therefore Socrates is a thief.

But what most modernists have ignored, is that the premises themselves, must be valid and agree with reality, if not, it doesn't matter how sound your logic is - it is wrong.

All property is theft,
Socrates owns property,
Therefore Socrates is a thief.

The first premise is false on its face (you couldn't even arrive at the idea of Theft without having first arrived at the idea of Property, and Theft establishes Property as being valid, by its very violation to it!), but it is the very basis for socialist and modern leftist economic policy. Men who force others to provide for them, not only relegate themselves to feeding off of the produce of their preys diminished intelligence, but they abdicate their own reasoning for the damaged conclusions of another. They also declare that no one, including themselves, have a right to their property, and so must then live in constant suspicion or fear of someone else taking that which they have themselves taken. Thracymacus is the classic example from the Republic, that Justice, or Right, is what those with Might, say it is, but such things can only be asserted, and cannot be rationally defended, except by force - which excludes Reason from the picture. The integrity of their intellect and character is shattered, they are mentally impaired, and spiritually diminished - they are less than whole men, and while they may achieve some physical pleasures and comforts, they will do so only with such internal conflicts and opposition to their own nature, that they will not achieve any measure of anything worthy of the name of Happiness.

What chiefly has distinguished the West from other cultures, and enabled us to rise above them, has been the development of the systematic process to be followed when reasoning, enhanced through the use of logic; verifying that both the process and the results of reasoning, are in agreement with reality, and that THAT is of more importance, than who has been doing the reasoning.

It doesn't matter if you're the big man on campus, if you say you can conjure moose burgers by the light of the full moon, rational people aren't going to listen any further to you. It also is what gives rise to verifiable terms such as Rational and Irrational, meaning that it is more important that the results of reasoning be demonstratably true, than who it was that did the reasoning. That involves not only the choices necessary for raw reasoning, as mentioned with the covered food, but the further choices necessary to apply logic while reasoning, and afterwards in the process of verifying that your results agree with reality.

When force enters this process, it prevents you from making the choices you would have otherwise have made, force causes you to do what you would not choose to do of your own free will. To force someone to take an action against their will, is to impose your choices, your decisions, your thought, for theirs... and at the cost, I might add, of no longer being able to benefit from the first hand knowledge and experience of the full range of facts of reality available to the person being enforced upon, meaning that the choice you are imposing, will be more equal to the thoughts that a dullard would make, than an alert and aware human being paying attention to not only his present needs but his future goals as well; you are no longer able to make full use of his knowledge and abilities as he would have done so on his own, and the results will only amount to what such inferior minds would be able to produce. You literally destroy the values that would have been created through their expertise, where you might have thought to reap Rolls Royce's at half cost, you would find yourself taking possession of Yugo's instead. If that.

In my work, I create programs that organize and maintain vast amounts of carefully gathered and compiled numbers, measurements and reports from around the world, all for the purpose of helping one dept of the company in better arriving at the most sensible pricing and planning projections for the coming year. The imposition of a price control, would be, in effect, to force us to discard all that data and planning, in favor of imposing a conclusion plucked out of the thin air of some disconnected bureaucrat, a conclusion which can only properly be arrived at from below as a result of careful reasoning with the knowledge made possible through the accuracy of information gathered by knowledgeable people from around the world who know their business - all of that would be wiped out, all the incredible advances in information gathering and productivity made possible by the computer age, we would be thrown out and we would in effect be forced to revert to a pre-computer era, and less.

Force is stupefying.

Reason involves self directed free will acting across a span of time for a given purpose, utilizing the input of the senses as well as remembered experiences, in as consistent and elegant a manner as possible, in order to achieve new results. Force divorces choice, free will, from your experience, imagination and purposeful goals, and a rational application of them - it destroys reason.

The imposition of Force is ugly. It is barbaric. It destroys Reason.

All of ethics follows from this, it being a code of higher values as stars to steer your choices and actions by. Ethics are not merely a fine sounding list of platitudes to drag out at parties and to over awe the youth with, they are, or should be, a coherent guide to living your life so as to uphold and preserve your ultimate value, your life, and help you to properly relate your other choices, actions and values in respect to that.

A code of ethics puts your values into coherent order, and clarifies the actions necessary for you to practice in principle, known as Virtues, in order to achieve and maintain them. The more you habitually think in, and practice these virtues (in the process shaping the very form of your thoughts and your self), the more likely you will be to not only achieve your values, but even more importantly, the more you will deserve to achieve and maintain them - primarily because they are Right for you to achieve and maintain. The more consistent you are in understanding this in thought and deed, the more likely your mind and soul will be in a non-contradictory state, solid in it's foundations, worthy and able to enjoy a state of Happiness.

Supreme among those virtues must be rational reasoning, all other virtues being essentially rational reasoning as applied to a particular pursuit. I see Virtue in more of its Latin sense of the active actions a person takes, and many of what are commonly seen as virtues, I see less as virtues, than the results of virtues having been properly practiced.

To just quickly list them (anything further, and I might as well turn this into a book),

Reasoning Rationally - all other values and virtues flow from this, classically I think this would be called Prudence, but the word is too out of use today.

Honesty - contextually conforming your words and actions to reality
Courage - taking the actions necessary to identify and defend your values.
Justice - evaluating issues and actions in their proper context, and conscientiously making a judgment as to the proper action to be taken.
Industriousness, Productivity - is purposefully applying your thoughts and efforts towards creating the wealth that your life requires to be lived in accordance with your needs and standards.
Thrift - having the proper respect for the products of your time and industry - wealth - and neither being stingy with them or wasteful in their usage.

The other things commonly known as virtues, are all, IMHO, less virtues themselves than the virtuous results of virtues being actively practiced:

Trustworthiness, Loyalty, are but honesty, courage and justice in action sustained over time.
Magnanimity, Generosity and Charity, these result from honestly identifying the value of your fellow man, and if Just, paying them the recognition, aid, and understanding worthy of them, and of you.
Patience, is a result of rationally recognizing the reality of a situation, and the futility of trying to move faster than it would be wise to.
Friendship, is what you feel for someone whom you recognize as sharing your values, virtues, interests and experiences with and who is worthy of, and enhances the value of, your life, by sharing it with them.
Love, is a deep, deep recognition of, and massively wide scale integration of, your highest values in the person, actions and shared history you have with another person. This deepens with Romantic Love, where the person also embodies, literally, your ideals in their character, form and mannerisms and is intensified through sexual attraction and union, which enables you to share the ultimate physical pleasure and intimacy possible to a person, while uniting with them in body and soul.
Chastity and romantic fidelity, are also the results of recognizing the enormous value and reverence due not only to the person you value so much, but to yourself as well. Someone who raunchily sleeps around, not only fails to recognize and value another person, but fails to value themselves either, chasing after effects, physical pleasures, devoid of their higher source and cause.

Attempting to reverse the cause and effect nature of the actual virtues and the virtuous results of having practiced them, will result in only shallow and temporary results - anyone who has attempted to "just be patient!" should have a grasp of the truth of this. Ok, enough.

Law is the threat of force, organized under and harnessed to a set of rules and applicable to all within a society. Our Western societies have taken the system of logic and recognition of rights, and applied them to the organization and regulation of our societal interactions, through the development of codes of objective Law, and the idea that no one, no matter who they are, is above the law.

The law, to be worthy of its name, must defend individuals rights, through publicly known and agreed upon rules, and apply itself in clear logical ways to resolving conflicts arising between people's interactions in society and use clear rules for admitting evidence and testimony into its deliberations, for the purpose of upholding individuals rights to their lives and property, and ensuring that deliberate or inadvertent infringements of one persons rights, are dealt with objectively, logically, and justly.

This is the cheif purpose of Government, providing a framework of laws in order to preserve it's peoples individual rights to engage in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, free the from forcible infringement of those rights. It is through the use of law, that governments enabled society to leave behind the old blood and clan feuds of vengeance (Mythologicaly illustrated in The Oresteia by Aeschylus (a trilogy containing Agamemnon , The Libation Bearers and The Furies)) which left its people in a constant anarchy of force. By designating the Gov't as the sole wielder of the use of force in society (save for in situations of immediate self defense), through it's laws, so as to defend and uphold the rights of its citizens, people become able to live secure in their rights and property and free from the fear of force - whether from criminals or legislative sources (also criminal), in short, laws enable people to resolve their conflicts through the use of Reason, rather than force and retaliation for force.

When a Gov't seeks to initiate the use of force upon an individual, an industry or the entire nation (which is what is done with price controls, economic regulations, tariffs, taxes and other forms of social engineering...) it is nothing less than the unjust and fundamentally unlawful wielding of force against the citizenry, and John Locke identified it as such 300 years ago (from my earlier post on Liberal Fascism),

Locke also argued that if a ruler violates any of his subjects’ property rights he is “at war” with them, and therefore the ruler may be disobeyed. From CHAPTER XIX of The Two Treatises on Gov’t:
“…for since it can never be supposed to be the will of the society that the legislative should have a power to destroy that which every one designs to secure by entering into society, and for which the people submitted themselves to legislators of their own making; whenever the legislators endeavour to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any farther obedience, and are left to the common refuge, which God hath provided for all men, against force and violence…”

If you look back through the revolutionary rhetoric of 1776, what will strike you about the language they use (and what teachers, to the extent that they mention it at all, will point out and snicker at) is they identify King George and Parliament as Tyrants who are seeking to Enslave the colonists, not with chains, but through the initiation of force upon them, through unjust taxation and infringing upon their property rights. Leftists, whether sporting the Democrat or Republican label, should take note.

However, The Law (Intro Walter E. Williams) remains within the bounds of the letter of the law, only in so far as it is understood by the people to exist in a clear set of rules which define what a crime is to begin with, requiring clear evidence to establish that a crime has been committed, and clear and objective procedures and rules for defining what the punishments are for breaking the law. When the people lose sight of that, when law becomes something that can be seen by all to be improper (this was the greatest evil perpetrated by the Income Tax, and Prohibition, drug laws; it put the law into peoples lives, where they knew it didn't belong, and they began to lose respect for it), that they can't tell whether or not an action will break a law (read the FTC regulations against insider trading and monopolies - not to mention tax law), then it can be applied or ignored on the basis of the whims of those in power. When that happens, it doesn't matter what is written in the laws, they will only be ignored or evaded. People know that what is not clear, is not fully real, and will command little or no trust from them, other than fear of its force being directed at them by one official or another, or at the importuning of someone who has influence with them, which is a state of lawlessness - Tyranny - a dehumanized state.

Rising Above the Flat Earth Dehumanists
It is also important to note, that it is not enough for a value to merely exist, it must be understood and fit into the context of the life of the person evaluating it, for it to have Value at all; and they will derive value from it, only to the extent that they are able to evaluate it. A microwave oven in the presence of a Lion, will have no value whatsoever. A microwave oven in the presence of a primitive jungle hut, will have no value to the inhabitants of that hut, other than perhaps that of a curious box you can see into. The collected works of Aristotle, would have had no value whatsoever to Agamemnon, because he had no context within which to evaluate it (maybe if he had 20 years to ponder upon it, but he spent half that time occupied elsewhere, and Clytemnestra had other plans for the rest of his time). In just the same way as the microwave oven would be worthless to the lion or tribesmen, it would be literally above Agamemnon's ability to grasp, but in the presence of a society which has developed the context for such knowledge, where its prerequisites have literally been realized by rising to the level of grasping it, and doing so consistently, that society will eventually be able to develop, as we did, into a society that can not only use, but invent, manufacture, and derive value from microwave ovens.

Homo Sapiens are a creature distinguished from other creatures by our capacity to Reason, and to value above and beyond the perceptual world which meets the eye, and into the conceptual world which makes deeper values possible. To speak of values however, requires that you keep always before you the question 'of value to whom and for what?' Such a question can only have meaning to a creature who can lose their life, and so they act to gain and keep that. All of our values, implicitly or explicitly, are measured against that, and it can only have actual value to the degree which it can be evaluated.

Our Life is the ultimate value, and not limited to merely your own eating and breathing within the narrow confines of your skin, but able to include that which makes life valuable; there is the very real possibility that maintaining that value, and what makes it possible to be of value, might require risking, and even doing what will likely result in your own death. We are very much able to see Value outside of our pulse, as most any parent or soldier could vouch for.

But Reason can only be a tool of survival, in a world that can be known and evaluated, and for a creature who, when in the presence of a ‘Value’, is capable of recognizing it as such. A world where your senses are leftist enough to tell you that what you want to be real is more real than what is real, because you want it to be, is a world where we would be eating baked rocks in a potato famine. Such a creature wouldn't even have survived the caveman stage, and a society that attempts to operate by such 'reasoning', is heading right back past that stage.

Our extended set of values can expand only to within the limits and degree to which our reasoning respects and extends the identity of reality as it is – both the identity of our surroundings, and the identity of ourselves internally, of nature and human nature.

We are malleable to a degree, but not infinitely so. The life of jungle tribes or desert nomads, with their superstitions and rigid castes can lift them above that of a lone human, but little further. By focusing the use of Reason to deepen our understanding of the identity of our environment, we can widen and improve the external implements and comforts of our environment, but without deepening our understanding of our own nature and requirements, our society will rise little further, and with our own self understanding limited, that will act as a limit upon the development of our understanding of the identity of our surroundings as well.

It isn’t happenstance that European culture, and England in particular, were the first to develop an industrial civilization, and scientific knowledge, and individual freedoms and Rights. Remove one, and the rest would – and will – collapse. They are tri-footed supports, which must exist, and the strength of all rests upon the strength of each.

Being a rational creature, capable of Reason (of course that also implies having the choice NOT to be rational and engaging in Reason – which if society as a whole does respect reason, we have soldiers and policemen to deal with such 'persons'), requires that you must recognize the necessity of others to Reason and act to further and sustain their lives as well.

This is the origin of Rights, not as a social conventions, but as a proper identification of our nature, rooted in reality and our perception of it, our Rights come from the very nature and deisign of who and what we are. Our right to life depends upon our grasp of the requirements of Human life, and entails and is dependent upon the right to property, and to think, speak and act as you see is best going to further your life - and allowing others to do the same. Governments and Laws should be, and were here, established to defend these Individual Rights, our wealth, prosperity and strength has flowed from them, and we imperil our lives through their erosion.

If you are faced with a person who doesn't hold these most basic of Principles, and who acts to violate them - the Isalmbies for instance - they are, in any conflict, to be accorded no right to the life they fail to extend to others. They are the sub-human debris, which if encountered and threatened by, are to be wiped out.

Without regret or guilt. Period, end of statement. Failure to do so, would have the same effect upon your own society, as unchecked theft and murder would have within your society.

Happy Happiness
There is a difference between value and purpose; your life is your ultimate value against which all others are measured, and Happiness properly is the purpose of your actions, and is served only by rationally setting and achieving rational goals. Happiness is a desirable result, the purpose, a goal we aim towards via other actions. As Aristotle pointed out, we do other things, have families, earn money, acquire possessions, revere Virtue and Truth, because we believe that the result of doing so will be a happy life, or at the very least, a life worthy of happiness; it is that for which all other things are done.

In my view, the fundamental requirement for Happiness is a person having non-contradictory values, principles and actions. We experience Happiness to the extent that our principles and actions agree; when they produce the results we seek, then pleasure is added to the experience of Happiness - which is desirable, but is not synonymous with or a requirement of, Happiness.

Desiring Happiness, however, is not enough to achieve it, even though your actions may have been made in pursuit of happiness, those actions taken, if not rational, cannot, and will not, lead you even towards, let alone to happiness. There are prisons full of thieving, murdering thugs and drug addicts, who will tell you they were just doing what they thought would make them happy, but whom we would not describe as having either lived a happy life, or one in any way likely to lead towards Happiness, or one worthy of it.

Happiness is aimed towards because it is the natural direction for, and a result of, and only attainable by, a rationally reasoning life – and the depth or intensity of happiness experienced in a life, is going to be varied by the depth of, and rational agreement of and integration of your knowledge, actions and character - and the real world you are acting within.

I disagree with Aristotle on one point (always a perilous thing to do), where he seemed to hold that a life still being lived, couldn’t be judged as having achieved Happiness, since it could always be beset with disaster at the end, but I don't agree. Pleasure and pleasurable and satisfactory circumstances, while desirable, are fleeting and dependent upon physical circumstances, low level circumstances which are unworthy of discrediting the highest of conceptual attainments and achievements. Although it takes a rare person indeed, meaning someone who does maintain such internal integrity, a person could experience Happiness even in the most dire of circumstances. As sages and saints have shown down through the centuries, a person can be calm, content, happy, even in the midst of turmoil, because they have achieved inner calm, understanding, peace, which I would attribute to a deep and thorough non-contradictory conceptual integrity - they have deep integrated and inter-supporting values, and have lived up to them. For such a person, pleasurable circumstances and relations would certainly enhance their happiness, but a state of true Happiness wouldn't be worthy of the name, if it was dependent upon such circumstances.

As mentioned earlier, the person who manages to acquire vast amounts of wealth, while behaving and believing that it is proper to steal what you need, using whatever force is necessary as needed, is fundamentally irrational, and unable to achieve any state of happiness. He cannot avoid a constant and gnawing suspicion of all those who surround him, seeing him as means to their ends, he also could not successfully bury the realization that he is only capable of taking what others produce - that he isn't capable of creating what he needs to live - without someone to be a parasite upon, he's finished. But such social circumstances aren't the fundamental point barring such a person from attaining to happiness, their own thoughts and 'values' are in opposition to what a rational, peaceful soul requires, their mind and soul will be a disintegrated, mutually opposing, turbulent pit of anxiety - they would be incapable of experiencing Happiness, let alone real confidence or any sense of peace and satisfaction whatsoever.

Such a creature may be capable of experiencing pleasure, but it will require a steady stream of stimulating pleasures, ever varying, and at ever increasing doses of perceptual zing, and I don’t think it would even register upon the Happiness scale.

Personally, I'd call such a tortuous state of soul an utter failure, and hell on earth.

I also think that there is little difference, other than of degree, between such a tyrant, and the man who puts his effort into posing as a faithful, loving husband, who in actuality is a scheming philanderer. That schism between values, actions and self knowledge, is a state of self contradictory values, self opposing desires and actions, and absolutely will not allow Happiness to be experienced in any appreciable degree.

People seem to have this bizarre idea that having Principles and Values, means that they can be had as perceptual things which you can actually have, rather than be, like trophies in a display case 'and over here are my principles, I got that one year in Athens, and over here are my values, aren't they sparkly?!' - it is insane. Principles and Values aren't something you have, as a possession, they are what you are, they are what you construct your mind and soul with. If they are solid, the structure of YOU will be solid, no matter the conditions outside. If they are thin, rickety, inconsistently applied, poorly understood, then the structure of YOU will reflect that, swaying with every wind, leaking in every storm, threatening collapse in every emergency.

If your principles and values suck, if your understanding of them suck, if your application of them suck - then YOU suck, your life sucks and the prospect of having to deal with you sucks and any self reflection or peering into a mirror shows 'You'd know what a drag it is To see you '.

A reasoning life (as previously defined), must be, from its highest abstractions, traceable down through every level, to a correspondence with reality - if you can't trace even the highest abstraction, from its tip, back down to its roots at the level of your perceptions and allegiance to reality, then for that which you claim to know, you either don't know it, or it isn't true. To the extent that you cannot do so, that will leave and show the gaps of uncertainty and unease which make up your world view, those gaps will unavoidably bubble up into your state of mind, in one way or another, throughout your life, which is why psychologists have a job (not that they’re able to do their job, but it’s why they have one).

"Gnothi Seauton", Know thy self, and "The unexamined life is not worth living" go together in so many important ways, and we forget what the Greeks knew at our peril; and the religio-poetic equivalent that the Judeo/Christian tradition knew as well, with "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul and with all your strength.”, it is a feeble imagination which can't see through those words towards the absolute requirement of a rational mind to hold truth above all else, that the violation of what is true for irrational and false desires at the expense of what is good and true. Damned you will be, in opposition to it, damned by your own choices.

Metabolizing Matter into Spirit
An ethical life is built up, perceptual brick by perceptual brick, into conceptual columns, propositional walls and principled ceilings and flying buttresses, only through an allegiance to reality through the life you actively understand and live.

Happiness is the purpose of your actions, and it is served by using your ability to reason towards achieving rational goals. The degree to which your convictions and actions do not contradict themselves or reality, is the degree to which you may be able to achieve Happiness. The person who achieves that level of integrity, and also manages to attain some degree of material success, would add pleasurable circumstances to their inner state, and have what we commonly refer to as a truly Happy life.

Now keep in mind, when I say 'reasoning', I mean the rational process I’ve been describing, respecting reality and compatible with your other guiding values and principles, all of which are traceable back to reality and your experience of it. I won't try to go over how our knowledge and concepts are created through experience, I've devoted several posts to that (see under ‘Greatest Hits’ in the sidebar), and couldn’t possibly condense it satisfactorily here, and for my purposes here, I think I've said enough.

While I do believe, with Aristotle and John Locke, that we are born 'Tabula Rasa' I am not an empiricist, which does, or did mean, that all knowledge is derived from experience (so far, so good), but I find it is lacking in so far as how concepts are created, and ends in the 'problem of universals'. You may disagree with Ayn Rand's political and religious views, but her ideas on concept formation, the unit perspective and the conceptual common denominator, I think answer the problem and do away with it as an issue, which is why I am still epistemologically an Objectivist, not because of the political conclusions they reach from that, but from the foundation they begin with.

Empiricism, has become so tinged with a nominalist bent, that I reject it. Empiricism tends to have a quantifying mania about it, with a reactionary view towards Qualities, that concepts are mere convenient namespaces for apparently similar quanta, having no actual identity which we grasp conceptually. There's a reason that empiricists such as Hume, etc, slid so quickly into skepticism (which IMHO, Kantianism is just an elaborate fig leaf over), and was followed quickly by the ultimate dissolution of philosophy into the chaotic pragmatism and nihilism we find ourselves surrounded with today, and which ultimately fuels the dehumanistic new atheists.

Another problem, empiricism holds:

"'Nihil est in intellectu quod non prius fuerit in sensu" Latin phrase meaning "Nothing is in the understanding that was not earlier in the senses.' Hence, the central doctrine of the empiricism of Gassendi, Locke, and Mill."
, is that it leaves out who and what the understanding is understood by. The processor. Us. I.

Reason is not a product of sense perception, the sense perceptions only provide the materials it reasons with. Attention, is not a product of the senses, it is the awareness directed over a sustained period. Awareness is not a product of the senses - it requires sensory input to have something to be aware of, but that is not the same thing. Through conscious awareness, we select what is to be the object of our attention, but consciousness is not us, it is what WE use to engage awareness. WE are, and we are not reducible to the substance of sensory input or synaptic algorithms. I don't believe that we, the "I" is merely the echoing process of perceptions perceiving themselves. It is a root, beneath which we cannot successfully look under.

But it is not possible to say that "I", the "Soul", or "Consciousness" is a proper starting point for philosophy, nor its tool, rationality, nor reason. Because without something to be conscious of, there would be nothing to be conscious of - there would be no reasoning, no rationality, know nothing.

That brings us around again to Existence being the proper root of Philosophy, rather than rationality, or consciousness.

1. Existence comes first, nothing else follows without it.
2. And what exists, exists as something, it has Identity.
3. Consciousness would be unable to be conscious of anything, or any thing, without both existence and identity.
4. Existence comes first, but nothing can be thought, said or done, without all three being referenced, either explicitly or implicitly; they are Axioms of a triune nature, with Existence being the primary.

Further, "I think therefore I am" is also not a proper or valid primary, because in reversing the order of conception to say that that man gains knowledge primarily by looking inwards into consciousness, instead of saying that man gains knowledge primarily by looking outwards at reality; that philosophically ends up being stated as ‘existence is a product of consciousness’ ("reality is negotiable" isn't descended from Aristotelianism!), and that knowledge is to be found by looking inwards, towards the self. Preposterous.

Look how quickly the arts and sciences, under the influence of what followed from Descartes, Hume and Rousseau, led to self absorbed neurotics as depicted by Goethe in "The sorrows of young Werther", the Romantic movement, let alone totalitarian megalomaniacs like Hitler, Stalin and Mao. They are the direct result of an inverted philosophy, that puts consciousness above existence, and they didn't descend the philosophical ladder from Aristotle and Locke, but from Descartes, Hume, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Peirce & Dewey.

Descartes & Hume opened the wound in the side of Reason, Rousseau, like an emo cutter, made it look cool to bleed, and Kant pushed deeper into the artery itself, severing all contact between reason and reality and mans values (among modern ‘intellectuals’). After Kant, nothing could staunch the flow, and nothing short of the total and complete repudiation of all variations of the three, ever will.

I don't despise the 'new atheists' because they are atheists, I don't think that their theistic positions are even relevant, but their views of reality, truth and our ability to grasp them, Are. How shall I say this...

To the extent that a dehumanistic new atheist person fully understands their ideas, I despise, loath, and approach a cool hatred of them, because they are at root anti-human. The application of the beliefs they hold have so distorted our constitution and our ability to understand and live by it, as to now have nearly destroyed the system of our government. It has nearly destroyed my country, it has destroyed Art, Literature. Their thoughts have have destabilized our entire system. They have harmed my life, my kids lives and the prospects of the lives of their children are even darker, due to their dehumanistic thoughts. They are anti-Happiness, they are anti-reason, they are anti-life. If they are not evil in themselves, they are at best peddlers and purveyors of the most horrendous and barbarous evil ever to befall planet earth. They disgust me. In all their philosophical Halloween masks of horror, collectivism, socialism, marxism, fascism - I curse them to the hell they wish to impose upon us all. I not only spit in their face, but fart in their general direction.

There, I think that about sums it up.

This post, is somewhat (!) longish, and it is also somewhat too shortish, to properly accomplish the goal it sought, of unmasking and denouncing the 'new atheists', and only those who possess an interest in the subject matter could or would wade through it, which leaves most who most dearly need it, out in the cold.

Philosophy requires intellectual application study and interest.

Art, Poetry, Religion, require only that you be a human being. Behold them, and as a human being, you are able to implicitly grasp all of their content, all in an instant.

Art, Poetry, Religion have none of the limitations of the discursive arts. When you look at Michelangelo's David, Jean Antoine Houdon Washington, or even from the opposite end of the scale, Munch's 'The Scream', you 'Get!', in a fraction of a second, a grasp of the artists underlying metaphysics and value judgments, almost subconsciously. Through the posture, style, 'atmosphere', you grasp instantaneously that Man is Able, Reasoning, Effective, Virtuous Unassailable - if he maintains his virtue. Viewing it makes you want to emulate it... and yet that 'it' is almost completely wordlessly grasped by you.

Poetry, literature, even music, do the same, not as instantaneously perhaps, but more deeply. Religion is an artistic expression of a unity of philosophy and emotional intensity, and it goes art several steps better, in that it reaches not only your aspirations and judgments, but encompasses your grasp of not only the world, but the state and health of your immortal soul and a fear for it - meaning that you, your value of your life, and living it, have needs and requirements for living and being good and worthy of that which is the ultimate pinnacle of Good, and which you must try and measure up towards, to be seen as good and worthy in your own self, and if you do so, you will be recognized as Good too. This is, IMHO, the standout redeeming difference of western Religion, Judeo/Christian religion, that it sees and recognizes the Individual, recognizes the individual as being a value above all other values of the perceptual moment, that nothing is more valuable than your own soul, and you must not breach it with falsehood, but unite it with and in Truth.

The poetic, through evocations of imagery, phraseology or reverence and fear, is able to directly touch our most significant conceptual summits, and dive down through their depths, all the way to the perceptual level while tagging every principle along the way, and if done well, align our thoughts, dreams and aspirations with their message. In well crafted Art, every single word and syllable is chosen for its ability to ensnare a wide and deep range of concepts and their integrated meaning, but not just through the word as concept, but as part of the poetic mood and image, it is a conceptual word as a brushstroke in the overall poem being painted.

Religion takes a hold of the imagination, and because of the context of its assumed relevance and importance to your very soul, and in elevating it above mere fiction, especially for one raised in a religion, it ties your very life and soul, to its message, both form and function, and reaches into your implicit grasp of all that is whole-y and good, and gives it the power of poetics to touch upon every meaningful thought and value you possess, and urges that you align your soul with the highest and best in Truth.

I won't argue for a further reality beyond the poetics, I don't believe that it can or should be argued for, any such convictions are for your private proving grounds, your soul. You can of course, and should, discuss your religion with others of the same belief, but attempting to go any further than passing on the message, attempting to rationally argue it as perceptual level concept, is pointless. You get the picture, or you don't, and attempting to rationally argue for its validity, is little different than trying to explain a joke. You either get it, or you don't. Any protestations of belief or disbelief, are ultimately meaningless outside of there, and carry no reasonable power between you and your fellow human being who doesn't already believe as you do.

Yet, there is a certain way point that can be communicated between rational people, who don't share the same beliefs, and that is the recognition that there is more than meets the eye, there is more to the image of talking snakes than talking snakes, and there is more to speaking of goodness and righteousness, and posturing and irrational fantasies. As someone who still comes down with a rather severe case of the 'Jesus willies' whenever plunged into a religious setting, I do finally see that there is a point to the phantasmic imagery used in religious settings.

What is it, after all, that a preacher does when he opens a sermon with an invocation, giving thanks to god:"To Thee, almighty and true God, eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, maker of heaven and earth, and of all creatures, together with Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost--to Thee, the wise, good, true, righteous, compassionate, pure, gracious God, we render thanks that Thou hast hitherto upheld the Church in these lands, and graciously afforded it protection and care, and we earnestly beseech Thee evermore to gather among us an inheritance for Thy Son, which may praise Thee to all eternity."

Not so long ago, the 'Jesus Willies' would seize me on hearing such phrasing, and it really used to gall me when, used as an invocation to a speech, or event, or sermon (!doh!), the speaker - often a cleric, would say something like "...and dear God to Thee, the wise, good, true, righteous, compassionate, pure, gracious God, we render thanks and ask that you graciously afford us protection and care, and we earnestly beseech Thee evermore..." and so on.

I'd sigh and shift and fidget, thinking "ok, well at least he isn't rattling thigh bones and sprinkling pixie dust". But it eventually dawned on me that what he is doing, is erecting a scaffold of illusion, laying out in the listeners minds, a foundation in God - the shared ultimate value which encompasses each of their ultimate values into One - for a soaring structure (triangular or pyramidal pops into my mind, but I'm not seeing an obvious reason for that other than it well represents hierarchy) of Wisdom, Goodness, Truth and our interactive uses of them with Righteousness, Compassion, etc.

It seems to me that with that scaffold of illusion solidly in place, the speaker and the audience have a footing, a frame of reference for placing what is coming into proper place and perspective and import. Throughout the coming speech or activity, all involved - if they have been properly illusioned, they will be inwardly 'erecting' the sermons words in line with that scaffolding, and at some point the new structure will stand on its own, within them. At that point the scaffold can be cast off, but having guided the building of the structure, it will remain in spirit and be inherent within it and within them.

The preacher isn't only trying to sound lofty and impressive, his words ARE lofty and impressive, and they evoke that setting within the minds of his listeners, he invokes an association of these virtues into their awareness ready to be consciously and sub-consciously linked to, pre-related, to the message he wishes to convey. With his invocation, he constructs an interior conceptual sculpture every bit as inspiring as Michelangelo’s David, which serves as an hierarchy of and for thought, which raises it from the horizontal physical occurrences' which it may note, and ties them into lessons of the Infinite. Through this method, the actionable essence of a philosophy is transmitted directly into the listener, in less time than it would have taken the shallowest of listeners to stifle their first yawn in a lecture on philosophy.

In short, he performs spiritual and intellectual alchemy. Consider this:

From The Safety Of The Virtuous a sermon by Philip Melanchthon "But we in the Church know that the first and principal cause of human woe is this, that on account of sin man is made subject to death and other calamity, which is so much more vehement in the Church, because the devil, from the hatred toward God, makes fearful assaults on the Church and strives to destroy it utterly."

The traditional anti-talking snake story atheist (dehumanist's, begone), will sniff at such messages, the use of 'sin', 'devil', 'God' 'church', etc, but its message is delivered, and registered by the intent listener, in ways that the flat land bound professor will never be able to match in 30 years of lecturing.

Such religious statements produce immediate reactions from the irreligious, especially from the dehumanists. Our irrational urges, compulsions, 'mental parasites', want what they want because they want it - they want the 'pleasure' at any cost... no that's not quite correct, they want their pleasures without cost, and without any pesky identification of their cost, they wish above all else, to behave as if there is no cost. When the whole rational mind, integrated with Truth points out that there is a cost, and it isn't worth it... it becomes an enemy to that viral desire. The virus targets the whole for wounding or destruction, whichever it takes to prevent it from preventing it from getting what it desires.

Any of you out there with hidden desires you are not proud of (all of you), when you feel the urge whispering in your heart, attempting to seduce your attention to it, and someone comes to take you to a place opposed to that urge - what is the feeling that erupts at the back of your mind & the basement of your heart? Is it primarily thankfulness at being led to safety? Hell no, it is a seething rage at being sidetracked from your desire. Isn't it. Hmm?

How is that substantively different than Melanchthon's description? Actually the two are not at all in opposition to each other, it is only that our time and place has declared poetry and prose to be in fundamental opposition, rather than approaching the same target, Truth, from different paths; the false opposition is furthered by insisting on examining them in the same manner, with the same tools, not only of logic, and quantification; as if they referred to similar classifications of understanding.

They do not.

With such methods, the anti-talking snake atheist would destroy the intellectual content and significance of the sermon, by attempting to remove its carefully woven web of poetic illusion; and in that act of disillusioning, it would be harmful, even destructive, and with that the following activity, ceremony or undertaking being blessed or solemnized, would be deprived of its direction, blueprint, and touch points for integrating its deeper truths into the audiences minds. The success of the spiritual venture also requires an interactive participation in the illusioning on the part of not only the speaker, but the audience as well, to consent to acknowledging the building of the illusory scaffolding, that it is there, and that they must participate in the integrity of matching what follows, with it - as members of that community are infused with doubt, or ridiculing humor towards the ceremony, the magic is reduced and eventually broken, and the loss of reverence and seriousness for shared community ideals, is a palpable blow towards that civilization.

Witness the century between Darwin and the 1960's, and tell me I'm wrong.

The lack of not only the invocations in our public activities, but the people's expectations of, and willingness to participate in such practical illusions, has produced effects which I think we can all see - 'Disillusionment' is exactly what has been happening to us in everything from football games to debates and education.

This again, can be chalked up to the age of skepticism, begun with Descartes, Rousseau and Kant.

In the dehumanistic world, there is no thing that is Special, there is only Stuff. To the skeptical point of view, We aren't special in any way, 'I'm' not special in any way, nothing 'I do' is special, and so 'nothing I don't do' is of any importance either. You'll notice that the invocation of any values whatsoever produces an internal turmoil on the part of the skeptical listener that is nearly unbearable, as is the case with the oh so offended father, separated from his wife and daughter, who against both of their wishes and feelings, files a lawsuit to ban 'Under God' from the Pledge of Allegiance. Poor, pathetic dehumanist.

What they are doing is saying that "Hey! I'm Sophisticated and Disillusioned! I've worked hard to do this to myself, and I'm NOT going to be sucked back into Believing that or any other Stuff ! and I'm going to force you to throw away all you believe in too!

Keep in mind, I'm not referring to the literalist bible thumper here, to my mind their determination to read the poetic as if it were statement of physical fact, is nearly as destructive and disillusioning as the dehumanist, pitting as it does, the 'believer' against the reality he must in some way believe his God created - to trick him with light years and geologic timescales. There is nothing in religion, that prevents men from seeing the world, from rationally applying their reason to understand the world, it is only it's misapplication which causes irrational pronouncements and harm. But I believe that the discarding of the religious from respectable intellectual life, not to mention the general culture, has caused us severe and perhaps irreparable harm. The religio-poetic is important to our lives, and impossible to excise, as the fanatical and hugely irrational eco-greens and global warmers prove so well, we will have a poetic, religious belief, the only choice is whether it is holy or unholy, whole-y and integrative, or un-whole-y and disintegrative.

Careful how you choose.

Here's a portion of a poem that I think illustrates the importance, place and purpose of childhood illusions to the adult:


1.Weary of myself, and sick of asking
What I am, and what I ought to be,
At this vessel's prow I stand, which bears me
Forwards, forwards o'er the starlit sea.

2.And a look of passionate desire
O'er the sea and to the stars I send:
``Ye who from my childhood up have calmed me,
Calm me, ah, compose me to the end!

3.``Ah, once more,'' I cried, ``ye stars, ye waters,
On my heart your mighty charm renew;
Still, still let me, as I gaze upon you,
Feel my soul becoming vast like you!''

4.From the intense, clear, star-sown vault of heaven,
Over the lit sea's unquiet way,
In the rustling night-air came the answer:
``Wouldst thou BE as these are? LIVE as they.

5.``Unaffrighted by the silence round them,
Undistracted by the sights they see,
These demand not that the things without them
Yield them love, amusement, sympathy.

6.``And with joy the stars perform their shining,
And the sea its long moon-silvered roll;
For self-poised they live, nor pine with noting
All the fever of some differing soul.

7.``Bounded by themselves, and unregardful
In what state God's other works may be,
In their own tasks all their powers pouring,
These attain the mighty life you see.''

8.O air-born voice! long since, severly clear,
A cry like thine in mine own heart I hear:
``Resolve to be thyself; and know that he
Who finds himself loses his misery!''

The disillusioned would and will, never face their crisis, or draw upon childhood guides or seek a star to steer by. They would get as far as the first two lines and go no further, except to wallow in or proclaim them as 'truths'. The (better) sort of disillusioned Sophisticate would face such a crisis of soul with a sneering sarcasm while downing several shots in pursuit of the worm at the bottom of the bottle. The worse sort would proudly state the first two lines as one of their multi-culti truths & ethos, well suited to either teach to their students as ends to be sought, or to campaign for office upon them. The disillusioned are marked men and prey for the dehumanists.

Give me the unsophisticated & illusioned sort, any night of the week.

What the literalists and atheists miss, is that form and meaning are complementary, just as musical theory, keys, go with the music, are lost without it, and the music is but slop without them. To fixate on one to the exclusion of the other is to produce nothing but pedantry or noise - music is made from their marriage.

Poetry in general, and scripture in particular relies on a similar such marriage between, on the one hand, that of form, dogma, style, meter, allusion, etc, and content on the other.

The uninspired atheist, as with Ray, mark themselves out through the depthlessness of their disillusionment (whether it be literalist or atheist), they read the text alone and go no further, and so lose far more of worth than they ever realize exists.

The early Church Fathers and later the Scholastics such as St. Thomas Aquinas studied the Bible and particularly the epistles of Paul by typically seeking to read it to a depth of four levels. Dante used this formula in his epic (Divine Comedy), and in a letter to a patron (down at #7 if you follow the link) attempted to explain and express the necessity of going deeper, far deeper than the surface, to get the spiritual value from scripture, through separate levels of the literal (or historical), the allegorical, the tropological (or moral), and the anagogical (Vertical, higher meaning, mystical):

"7. For me be able to present what I am going to say, you must know that the sense of this work is not simple, rather it may be called polysemantic, that is, of many senses; the first sense is that which comes from the letter, the second is that of that which is signified by the letter. And the first is called the literal, the second allegorical or moral or anagogical. Which method of treatment, that it may be clearer, can be considered through these words: `When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a barbarous people, Judea was made his sanctuary, Israel his dominion' (Douay-Rheims, Ps. 113.1-2). If we look at it from the letter alone it means to us the exit of the Children of Israel from Egypt at the time of Moses; if from allegory, it means for us our redemption done by Christ; if from the moral sense, it means to us the conversion of the soul from the struggle and misery of sin to the status of grace; if from the anagogical, it means the leave taking of the blessed soul from the slavery of this corruption to the freedom of eternal glory. And though these mystical senses are called by various names, in general all can be called allegorical, because they are different from the literal or the historical. Now, allegory comes from Greek alleon, which is Latin means `other' or `different'....

To stop at the literal level of the text as a Rev. Jerry Falwell or Sam Harris would, is to leave most of the meaning out, and deify the bible itself for their separate (but ultimately related) purposes, either pro or con, and miss out completely on the doing of its meaning being actively threaded through the readers soul.

The principles are interrelated and integrated, the higher the conceptual hierarchy like a pyramid, rises, the wider an expanse of lower more horizontal activities are dependent and supportive of it's principles, and the deeper and more destructive the collapse will be, if those support structures are breached. If the support being attacked, is a central structural support, such as reverence for truth on one hand, property rights on the other, then the people shouldn't be too surprised if they find themselves relegated to the pre-civilized, and nearly pre-human world of force and fang - of direct force ruling your interactions with nature, and of force being the ruling method of interacting with your fellow human beings. Without recourse to a universal principle of value, let alone an objective idea of Truth to judge it by, you will be cemented into just that barbaric scenario which Hobbes foretold, where in any confrontation there will be no recourse to right and wrong, but only a striving of muscles and desires, and there life will be found to be nasty, brutish and short.

Until you recognize that universal understanding, the existence of Truth and our unique ability to partake of it, then any discussion of what is discussed here, will be literally, infinitely above your capacity to engage in it.