Tag Archives: Orthosphere

EMP Episode 1: The Art of Podcasting

I recently recorded a podcast with a friend (Thang is his name) from Toastmasters. The inspiration to record a podcast was partly a curiosity to explore the art form itself (having listened to more than a few over the years). One of the other inspirational parts had to do with previous conversations where Thang observed we went “meta” as he described it. These conversations could be about anything but they typically evolved in a philosophical and comical direction. I enjoy that process.

After months of talking about making a podcast, we recorded our first episode. In it we discussed what the podcast would be about going forward. That topic is yet to be finalized. We also discussed political correctness, science fiction films we have seen and books we have read, freewill, consciousness and the societal effects of COVID-19. Throughout the process, there was the sense that the format and content of the podcast (both this episode and going forward) would reveal itself to us as we engaged in the process. Whether this process would be entertaining to an audience or if there would even be an audience seems to be of secondary importance. However, the possibility of an audience certainly seems to impact the podcast’s evolution.

Podcasting (like most endeavors) is something one learns by doing. I observed during our first episode that when I (and I assume others) engage in a recorded conversation intended for publication the conversation is different than an open ended conversation one would have in their normal course of business. As I mentioned in the last sentence of the previous paragraph, this is true even if the audience is only a possible audience. The conversation is different in that it feels more formal than a private conversation. There is also the sense (however subtle) that the conversation should be entertaining to someone listening to it. interestingly, I also noticed that the conversation lasted for an hour and normally I would not have the patience to talk for an hour with someone else unless the context of the conversation gave permission for that to happen. Perhaps “patience” is the wrong word because that suggests that I am bored with (and therefor above) the interaction. That is sometimes the case, but more often than not when I am conversing with another person I get the sensation that the other person does not want to be talking to me or that I might say something inappropriate. In this situation there is a feeling of agitation that I should exit the conversation before something undesirable occurs. However, within the context of the podcast the conversation had been planned and agreed to beforehand. Moreover, there is an expectation that it will last for an hour. As such, within that context I found myself more free to converse than I otherwise would have been. That is, there is something about the agreed to nature of the podcast format that frees me from feeling like I need to get out of the conversation. I suspect there is more to this point that requires explanation but I will leave it there for now.

I suspect the naysayers in the potential audience (e.g., Admiralbill, Thordaddy, Terry Morris and the other Orthosphere contributors – they are all basically the same voice from my perspective) would react negatively and say that I am not entitled to record and publish a podcast. In a sense they have a point. I am not an authority on the topics we discussed except to the extent I am offering my own opinions. They would say it is an exercise in egotism (of course using their own particular jargon). So why would anyone want to listen to what I have to say? More to the point, why would I expect anyone to listen to what I have to say? But on the other hand, I enjoyed recording the podcast. The fact that an audience is involved is intrinsically associated with the experience. I enjoy being creative and this experience was creative and experimental. All this is really to say that this psychological dynamic certainly transpires in my mind, not so much while recording but before and afterwards. And whether those aforementioned people would actually have those reactions is beside the point. Actually, if they read this paragraph, I suspect they would deny having this reaction and claiming that my actions would never enter their thinking at all or some such. This too is part of the experience.

In summary, I found the experience to be both interesting and rewarding from a creative standpoint. The experience itself is interesting but so is the cascade of psychological affects. All this I found it to be enjoyable which is a form of beauty. And why do anything unless it is good, true or beautiful?

 

 

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What Would Moloch Do?

MolochIn a recent Orthosphere post entitled Freedoms of Speech & of Religion Open & Allow the Race to the Bottom the author Kristor argues:

The basic problem with freedom of speech and of religion is that … it opens the agora to the discussion of the pros and cons of every alternative cult. … There ensues a proliferation … of heresies and petty foreign cults. The cult of Moloch is then sooner or later bound to enter the lists.

In a previous post, Kristor defines his term, “the Cult of Moloch” as referring to modern, liberal notions of tolerance for multiple belief systems, which he equates to nihilism. He argues that a tolerant belief system cannot itself tolerate non-tolerant belief systems and so ultimately pushes them out of mainstream practice. I assume he uses this particular name because the Canaanite god named Moloch is associated with ritual child sacrifice. This of course is a reference to legalized abortion which exists within the modern liberal system. To the Orthosphereans, liberalism, tolerance, nihilism, abortion and all the other ills of modern society are related and mutually reinforcing.

Kristor goes on to say:

In an unruly competition of cults for the hearts and minds of people too dim to understand the consequences in their distant future of actions taken today, or to think with the necessary care and precision about metaphysics, political economy, and culture – i.e., of most people – the cult with the greatest short term hedonic payoff is going to prevail.

Because freedoms of speech and religion lead to the cult of Moloch, I assume Kristor is advocating the abolition of these freedoms and their replacement with the forced implementation of some other cult (presumably whatever form of Christianity Kristor adheres to) which would then regulate speech and religion in a manner more satisfactory to him.

BASIC PROBLEMS

The first basic problem I see with a belief system enforced by the government is that the belief system might not be true. I assume Kristor desires a government enforced belief system that is also true. Or perhaps in the absence of definitive proof of the truth of any one particular belief system, Kristor believes it is better to pick any belief system so long as it is not a tolerant one so as to avoid the inevitable slide into Molochism.

The second basic problem I see is that when a government enforces a belief system, the belief system typically gets watered down so that it can be acceptable to a large population. The watering down of the belief system then stops connecting with the people who take their religious beliefs seriously. This then gives rise to underground sects of true believers which work to undermine the government enforced belief system.

The third basic problem is that there will always be non-believers. This includes both people who take issue with specific tenants of the belief system and people who reject the system entirely. Similar to the second basic problem, this problem will also lead to the creation of subversive groups.

In addition to these basic problems it seems that many of the people who favor a government enforced belief system exhibit an unchristian disdain for their fellow men. This is articulated in the quote above where Kristor describes “most people” as “too dim to understand the consequences in their distant future of actions taken today, or to think with the necessary care and precision about metaphysics, political economy, and culture.”

I certainly do not want people of this ilk deciding what is best for me to believe and ordering the world in which I live. I do not want this not because I suspect they would not have my best interests at heart. I also do not want this because this disdain runs contrary to the fundamental Christian idea which is love (i.e., willing the good of the other as other). It might be argued that the desire to implement a government enforced belief system is motivated by a willing of good for other people. But the disdain articulate in Kristor’s quote (and quotes of other Orthosphereans) seems to indicate otherwise. Saint Paul’s description of the “Fruit of the Spirit” offers guidance when determining whether a person is advocating a policy that is born out of love. Specifically, “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Gal 5:22-23). Disdain is noticeably absent from this list. 

CULTURE OF DEATH

Kristor concludes his OP by stating,

As permitting the advocacy and practice of the cult of Moloch, freedom of speech and religion, then, sow the seeds of national death.

So we observe at last that, like Molochism, freedom of speech and religion, too, are in the end autophagous. The nation that keeps those freedoms is doomed.

The Orthospherean position against liberalism is not baseless. There is are inconsistencies to liberal notions of freedom, equality and tolerance. No one can be completely free and the freedom of one person impacts the freedom of another person. People are not equal in their abilities and to legally make them equal to a certain extent negates this truth and creates problems. A tolerant belief system cannot completely accommodate non-tolerant belief systems and can become intolerant by attempting to enforce tolerance.

On the other hand, no political system is perfect. In order for liberalism to work well, there has to always be a balance of forces. Just because speech is labeled as “free” and is actually regulated to an extent does not mean that there are not nations where speech is very not-free and other nations where it is relatively free. And it also does not mean that a reasonable person cannot appreciate the difference between the two. In the same respect a “tolerant” belief system might actually be “intolerant” of certain taboos. But, there are more tolerant nations than others and reasonable people can appreciate the difference here as well. And yes a system might shift in terms of its level of tolerance depending on the situation but that does not mean that it will always, inexorably degenerate into Molochism in every circumstance. The pendulum may very well swing back the other way.

Also, do these “flaws” of liberalism really spell the doom of a nation more than any other form of government? All nations (and things of men) are doomed. Even nations with government enforced belief systems are doomed. How else would tolerant systems have come to replace them? Moreover, an intolerant belief system does not rule out the possibility of Molochism being practiced. It merely forces it underground where it cannot be observed and regulated.

Do freedoms of speech and religion necessarily open and allow a race to the bottom? I think reasonable minds can differ on that question. More importantly, would the alternative of a government enforced belief system create a preferable situation? We are all well aware that there exist countries that do enforce belief systems in the world, some of which Kristor himself objects to.

 

 

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Blue Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

bwThere is a pattern of behavior common to some of the people I have encountered on the internet who identify with the Spiral Dynamics Stage Blue mentality. I will refer to the people who exhibit this behavior a Blue Wolf. This pattern of behavior is as follows. When a Blue Wolf encounters a non-Blue (say an Orange or Green), the Blue Wolf will feel this person out. If this person is not immediately hostile and willing to hear the Blue position in a respectful manner, the Blue Wolf will at first appear to be very charitable and hospitable to the non-Blue. But, if after a brief period of time the non-Blue continues to disagree with or questions too much the Blue world view, the Blue Wolf becomes angry and aggressive. This switch happens suddenly and the suddenness of this switch suggests the anger and aggression existed from the start but was merely masked by the initial show of friendliness. Perhaps the Blue Wolf thinks he can persuade the non-Blue to his philosophy through friendliness. Perhaps the Blue Wolf legitimately believes himself to be a good, moral person but is easily triggered by the “enemies” who do not share his beliefs.

The Blue Wolf’s Ego Identifies With Being Blue

It is important to note that the Blue Wolf behavior is not displayed by all of those who identify with Stage Blue. Many Blues will simply cease to engage with the non-Blue once it is clear they cannot see eye to eye. A few Blues will patiently continue to explain their beliefs kindly and politely. It seems that these Blue Wolves are perhaps less self-aware or have their egos so identified with their Blueness that any challenge to it is experienced as a mortal threat. Blue Wolves tend not to want their motivations or psychology examined. One Blue Wolf told me he rejected the entire science of psychology as a liberal invention (which is a good way to never become self-aware in my estimation). But of course, being self-aware is not a Blue priority.

To a Blue, the priority is dedication to a higher power and not to self-actualization. To a Blue there is…

[a] single guiding force [that] controls the world and determine[s] our destiny… Abiding Truth provides structure and order for all aspects of living here on Earth and rules the heavens as, well… [A Blue will] willingly sacrifice [his] desires in the present in the sure knowledge that [he] look[s] forward to something wonderful in the future. (1)

This makes the hostile stance of the Blue Wolf understandable. For anything that conflicts with their believed Truth is per se un-Truth.  With that in mind, however, it is interesting to note that some Blues will react to challenges to their Truth in less threatened manners than others. Again, I attribute this different reaction to the degree of ego identification a particular Blue has with his Blue world view.

The Blue Wolf ‘s True Motive is to Argue With and Shame His Enemies

I encountered another Blue Wolf in the comment section of my last post “The Spiral Dynamics of a Christmas Carol“. I recognized this commentor as a reader of the Blue blog, the Orthospehere. True to the Blue Wolf form, this commentor adopted the persona of one who did not know anything about Spiral Dynamics and honestly wanted to understand it. His questions, which began as friendly, quickly turned adversarial when I did not accept his counter arguments to the answers I gave him. He then accused me of not following the proper rules of logic and debate. This is a typical Blue Wolf tactic I have observed. That is, a Blue Wolf will dismiss a non-Blue person and his point of view if the non-Blue violates a rule of logical debate even if the exchange is a casual one in a comment section and not entered into as a formal debate. This has the dual intended effect of allowing the Blue Wolf to exit the exchange seemingly in possession of the moral high ground while at the same time humiliating his interlocutor. Guilt and shame are the primary means by which a Blue enforces his social order. (2).

The Blue Wolf Cloaks His Motives in Logic and Objective Truth

I have observed Blue Wolves will often try to humiliate their non-Blue interlocutors while masking this intention in morality and truth. One Blue Wolf who is (I have heard) now deceased, took the position that the non-Blues who disagreed with him “lacked the capacity” to understand his arguments. This same person and his ilk would cry ad-hominem if a similar claim were made of them. However, when he questioned a person’s intelligence he claimed to be not doing so in order to undermine his interlocutor’s position but rather to describe the truth of the situation. In this way he could (hypocritically) avoid the appearance of committing the ad-hominem fallacy to the like-minded readers of his blog who would readily agree with his position.

Conclusion

I ended up deleting most of the argument from the thread in my previous blog post. I know this is considered to be bad form for the moderator of a comment section. People (Blue Wolves especially I suspect) like to see the documentation of their comment section arguments. Perhaps they feel that a piece of them has been removed when their arguments are edited. In my defense, I did not feel like we were debating. It seemed as if he was asking questions about Spiral Dynamics and I was answering them to the best of my ability. I certainly do not claim to be an expert on the subject. I only claim to have an interest and am blogging about it as I learn more about it. For this reason, I am not interested in documenting any supposed debate a particular Blue Wolf believes we are having.

Post Script: There is a great example of a Blue Wolf interaction in the comment section to this blog post. It is interesting how this Blue Wolf accuses me of being intellectually dishonest for deleting his argumentative comments in the previous blog post when he was (in my estimation) being intellectually dishonest by pretending to want to know more about the Spiral Dynamics model when in fact he only wanted to debunk it. Of course he only bases his debunking attempt on reading my blog posts and I never claimed to be an expert on the subject.  Nor did I claim to want to debate it even though he chooses to frame the interaction in that manner. I could not have scripted the interaction better if I tried. I un-deleted his comments in the previous post in order to document the nature of his comments because it is relevant to this post.


(1) Beck, Edward and Cowan, Christopher, Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership, and Change,  Blackwell Publishing, 1996, pg 229.

(2) Ibid, pg 232.

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The Spiral Dynamics of “A Christmas Carol”

[T]he wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for.

marley's ghostIn Stave One of “A Christmas Carol,” Charles Dickens makes this observation in reference to him not knowing why the phrase “dead as a door-nail” aptly describes the extent to which Jacob Marley is actually dead. From a Spiral Dynamics viewpoint, this observation expresses a very Stage Blue sentiment. That is, it not only expresses reverence for the wisdom of ancestors but it also connects reverence for this wisdom to the Country’s well being. Of course, the term country could easily be replaced with tribe, race, religion or culture. In Stage Blue, these identities are of primary importance as is the belief that one’s identity is supreme and the beliefs and values of the identity are true. This naturally implies that other identities are inferior and the beliefs of other identities are false.

Of course, Charles Dickens lived in 19th century England during the industrial revolution. This was a time when the country in which he lived was transitioning from Spiral Dynamics Stage Blue to Stage Orange. You might say that it had one foot firmly in each stage. Religion at the time still had great influence over the culture, the white race was supreme in England and increasingly so around the world. At the same time Stage Orange capitalism, scientism and liberalism were taking on a larger role. The Stage Green doubt of white supremacy had not yet formed in the European consciousness or in the consciousness of Europe’s daughters (North America, South Africa, Australia etc.). But Stage Green does play a role in the story.

Indeed, the Stage Green sentiments of compassion for one’s fellow man are certainly strong themes in the story. In Stave One, the ghost of Jacob Marley rejects capitalism’s negative effects on the poor and disenfranchised by exclaiming:

“Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

In Stave Three, the most outwardly judgmental of the three spirits who visit Scrooge after Marley’s ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Present, chastises Scrooge for thinking that the religious authorities correctly represented divine Truth in all aspects:

“There are some upon this earth of yours … who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived.”

The “us” to which the spirit refers are spirits and the divine in general. Later, the same spirit chastises Scrooge’s political beliefs as to the government social policies of his day:

“Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man’s child. Oh God! to hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust!”

GCPHere we see a rejection of Stage Blue religion and Stage Orange capitalism. However, it is probably safe to assume that the “common welfare” to which the Marley’s ghost refers applied more strictly to his own country and not so much to mankind as a whole. In the same respect, the Ghost of Christmas Present’s criticism (in Dickens’ mind) probably assumed the supremacy of white Europeans and the truth of Christianity. Whereas, to our more modern sentiments (generally speaking) which have been more heavily influenced by Stage Green would interpret the ghosts’ references to have a more universal application. In this respect we can see the still strong influence of Stage Blue in the telling of the story.

When we speak of applying the principles of Spiral Dynamics to cultures we are necessarily speaking in general terms. The culture from which Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol” was one transitioning from Blue to Orange with some influence of Green. By contrast, our culture at present can be described largely as transitioning from from Orange to Green with a waning influence of Blue. Within this larger dynamic, each individual can be described as embodying different stages in different amounts. Moreover, there are pockets of people who are influenced by various stages to greater and lesser degrees. For example, modern day San Francisco is more heavily Stage Green than is say Houston, Texas generally speaking.

A recent blog post on the (very Stage Blue) Orthosphere entitled “The Modern Cosmopolitan Cult Tends to the Cult of Moloch” is a very clear example of a Stage Blue mindset describing the Stage Orange and Green culture in which we live. The post argues that modern Stage Green notions of toleration effectively cannot tolerate Stage Blue notions of intolerance. From the Stage Blue perspective there is no higher stage than Stage Blue. Stage Orange and Green are errors. In fact, the entire Spiral Dynamics model is an error and salvation lies in a return to Stage Blue. Obviously, a Stage Blue person would not employ this terminology to describe this idea.

According to the Spiral Dynamics model, however, it is impossible to revert back to a prior stage except in extremely traumatic circumstances and this reversion tends to be temporary in nature. No, each stage is a necessary precursor to the stage that follows. Each stage solves the problems of the previous stage and creates problems that must, in turn, be solved by the next stage. From this perspective, we can see that the story of “A Christmas Carol” describes Ebeneezer Scrooge’s transition from Stage Orange to Stage Green. From a larger perspective, “A Christmas Carol” is an interesting time capsule within the larger Spiral Dynamic.

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Spiral Dynamics

Over the past two months Leo Gura of Actualized.org has been creating videos explaining the theory of Spiral Dynamics developed by Don Edward Beck and Clare Graves. Spiral Dynamics is a developmental, psychological model designed to map the historical evolution of both people and the societies of which the people are constituent parts.

There are eight stages to the spiral, each with its own set of characteristics. The first and most primitive stage is Beige characterized primarily through individual survival with little to no cooperation with other people. Modern homeless people are an example of the stage Beige mindset. The second stage is Purple characterized by primitive cooperation among people typically at the family or clan level. Cavemen are an example. The third stage is Red where stronger individuals within the relatively egalitarian Purple start to assert their dominance over the weaker members. Viking civilization and tribal societies are examples. The forth stage is Blue where we see authoritarian, communal societal structures begin to assert themselves in order to reign in the excesses of stage Red. The Roman Empire and Medieval Europe are examples of the stage Blue mindset. The fifth stage is Orange characterized by a rejection of the stiff Blue societal structures with a greater emphasis on individual achievement, science and materialism. Modern, liberal, capitalistic societies are examples. The sixth stage is Green characterized by a rejection of the excesses of Orange and a return to spirituality and communal responsibilities. Modern hippies and left-liberals are examples. The seventh stage is Yellow characterized by a rejection of the excesses and Green’s failure to solve societal problems with an emphasis on systems thinking and individual achievement. Albert Einstein is considered to be an example of a stage Yellow thinker. The final stage is Turquoise characterized by a shift from the individual Yellow to a more holistic world view. Very few people and certainly no societies have achieved stage Turquoise at present.

One important observation the spiral articulates is that humans and the societies they create evolve alternating from an emphasis on the individual to an emphasis on the community in a cyclical manner. From individualistic Beige to communal Purple to individualistic Red to communal Blue and so on. In a sense (according to this model), the development of mankind’s psychology is based on the confrontation between these two opposing forces. When one is taken to an extreme the other rises to counterbalance it.

Of interest to this blog is how well the system of Spiral Dynamics describes stage Blue. Specifically, the Orthosphere and Zippy Catholic (two blogs that I have been reading over the past couple of years) come to mind as two good articulations of the Stage Blue mindset. As described by the Spiral Dynamics Integral website, the general characteristics of Stage Blue thought are:

  • Values and norms, discipline, duty, regularity, and feelings of honor and guilt
  • WE versus They Thinking
  • Searching for meaning, order, routine and security
  • Self-control, discipline and loyalty to the doctrine and the rules
  • Absolute, literal and definite
  • Morality
  • Hierarchy, obedience and willing to sacrifice to a greater cause
  • Control and structures of authorities
  • Obedience based on a sense of duty and a sense of guilt
  • Organize, manage, concretize and structure
  • Values effort and responsibility and shows discipline
  • Rules, rights and duties are significant

This description seems to describe almost perfectly the mode of thought expressed on these blogs both by their contributors and the people who comment there. I suspect these people would reject the notion of Spiral Dynamics entirely. This would fit perfectly within the model. Because (according to the model) they see the world in essentialist terms and by definition reject nominalism they cannot see the world as evolving purposefully or in a healthy way. I suspect they would dismiss Spiral Dynamics without much consideration as a “liberal” idea. If the world is changing it must be for the worse because stage Blue (not that they would embrace the term “Stage Blue”) was the best possible stage. Anything, departing from stage Blue is ugly and it is appropriate to judge those who question stage Blue sensibilities and enforce stage Blue sensibilities through shame and guilt. This emphasis of “obedience based on a sense of duty and a sense of guilt” explains a great deal as to how my interactions with the people who comment and contribute to the Orthosphere and Zippy Catholic have played out.

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An Essentialist Making the Case for Nominalism

In a post entitled “‘Essentialist’ means just what I say it means…,” anti-liberal blogger Zippy Catholic described the terms “Essentialist” and “Nominalist”:

[A]n antiessentialist (or nominalist) will view a word like “liberalism” the way Humpty Dumpty views it. The word refers not to an objective external essence but to whatever internal state of his mind that Humpty chooses it to refer to; nothing more, nothing less, and always subject to Humpty’s will. Nobody else can impute an implication that Humpty does not agree to, because there is no essence to the referent other than just what Humpty wills. If Humpty is a liberal, it is only because Humpty agrees in every particular with what liberal means and implies, and further agrees that he is one. “Liberal”, if it applies legitimately as a label to Humpty, does so only because he chooses for it to apply and chooses all that it entails.

An essentialist understands a word to refer to some real essence that is external to and independent of the person who utters it. A speaker[‘s] … words refer to objective things and have objective implications about which he may be completely ignorant or mistaken. Humpty is a liberal if Humpty is in fact loyal to liberalism, which is an objective thing independent of Humpty.

In another blog post entitled “Definition of liberalism,” Zippy defines liberalism as:

Liberalism is the political doctrine that securing individual freedom and equal rights is a primary legitimate purpose of government.

More recently, in the comment section of a recent blog post on the Orthosphere entitled “Deplorable Gnon“, contributor Thomas F. Bertonneau stated:

Hillary’s gnashing of teeth belongs to her gnosticism, which … schemes to realize just as soon as it can derealize all those who stand in its way just by being. Like the witch-hanging Puritanism of which it is the heir, contemporary liberalism, which, as you say, is socialism, corresponds to a sacrificial cult.

Here I take Mr. Bertonneau to mean “witch-hanging Puritanism” is a form of liberalism. He repeated this point in another post entitled “What is Puritanism.” This struck me as odd given that I have been told on numerous occasions there existed broad agreement as to the definitions of liberalism among the people who contribute and comment both on the Orthosphere and its sister blogs like Zippy Catholic. To my knowledge, no puritan sect (especially not the witch-hanging sort) thought it was important to secure the freedom and equal rights of the people under its control. In fact, I would say it is obvious on its face that the contrary is true.

There are a few things I could draw from this situation. First, I think this only confirms my suspicion that those who contribute and comment within the anti-liberal community are using different definitions for “liberalism” (and probably other terms) and yet they are discussing these terms as if a common understanding was broadly understood. This makes a coherent conversation on the subject difficult in my estimation. Second, I assume based on the posts I have read written by Mr. Bertonneau, that he holds himself to be an essentialist. As an essentialist he would have to believe that a real definition of liberalism exists independent of his own mind. However, his recent writings seem to suggest that he defines liberalism not as Zippy defines it but rather as anything Mr. Bertonneau dislikes about modern Western culture. For example, in his post “What is Puritanism” he conflates Puritanism with Liberalism and asserts:

Many Catholic congregations in North America qualify as Puritanical in that they have liberalized themselves and so assimilated themselves to the Left, which is indeed a heresy of Christianity.  All humanities professors are Puritans – as are all college administrators.  Trumpskyites in North America and adherents of the Fidesz Party in Hungary are not Puritans.  Everything today describing itself as “comedy” is archly Puritanical and extremely unfunny.  It never smiles; it only smirks and scowls and uses four-letter language. Islam is ultra-Puritanical. That California, governed by an octogenarian ex-Jesuit, is the vanguard Puritan republic of the United States, the Salem Colony of its day, is in no way belied by the other fact that it is the home-state of the pornography industry.

This strikes me as a nominalist manner of thinking. In fact, it specifically reminded me of Zippy’s post on Humpty Dumpty cited above.

If one is being honest with himself, it is very difficult to take an absolutely “essentialist” world view. Because, even if one does believe there to be real definitions out in the world and independent of the mind, the mind must first make this decision to believe this truth. As such, an essentialist is really just a nominalist who believes with certainty that real definitions exist. Or perhaps asserting real definitions exist is to simply assert a state of mind. Moreover, because the essentialist believes these real definitions exist he naturally tends to believe that his beliefs are in accord with these real definitions and accordingly anyone who believes differently or expresses uncertainty must be wrong. This is not to say that I believe real definitions do not exist for some things, but as the so called “broad agreement” or lack thereof as to the definitions employed on the  Orthosphere demonstrates, one cannot be sure that his particular definitions comport with the real definitions existing external to his mind.

 

 

 

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Consciousness as the Basis of Reality

In a recent Actualized.Org podcast entitled “What is Consciousness” Leo makes the assertion that consciousness is the basis of reality. This is opposed to the materialist paradigm which holds that matter is the basis of physical reality. It seems that materialists can be either atheist or theist. The atheist materialists would hold that there only exists matter and the physical laws that govern its interaction and that this makes up the entirety of reality. The theist materialist would hold that there exists a spiritual realm that is separate from the material but that we humans inhabit or are in contact with primarily the material realm.

I would describe the friendly folks over at the Orthosphere as theist materialists, believing they reside within a material universe created by God who declared it to be good and therefore the goodness of the material is not to be questioned. To them there is unquestionably a spiritual realm with which those of us inhabiting the material realm (if we’re good) will choose to align ourselves. Of course, I would not presume to speak for their point of view as I have been told on numerous occasions that I lack the capacity to fully understand their wisdom. I am merely presenting my interpretation of their world view based on what I have read from their contributors. I am sure Terry Morris will correct me if I have inaccurately described their beliefs.

It is unquestioned that most people are materialists of one sort or the other. One probable reason most people believe the materialist paradigm to be the correct description of reality is because it is easier to understand. Our senses seem to readily confirm the assumption that we are each individual units of consciousness living in a physical body, in a three dimensional, physical world of other physical objects. Some of these physical objects are living creatures with varying degrees of consciousness. In this model, consciousness seems to be an emergent quality of the physical universe. That is, consciousness naturally results when matter is arranged in a specific way.

By contrast, under the paradigm where consciousness is the basis of reality, consciousness is not an emergent property of physical reality but rather the fundamental property of physical reality. That is, the universe is created from consciousness. Two  counter arguments to this assertion readily come to mind. First, consciousness as I understand it is the quality of being aware and mere awareness which has no physical properties cannot logically be used to construct a physical universe. Second, (I suspect an Orthospherian would argue that) in order for there to be awareness there must first be someone or something that is aware which in turn presupposes that materiality precedes consciousness.

Leo contends that although consciousness has no physical properties, this allows it to take on all the infinite possibilities of physical reality. In other words, consciousness is a vessel for content. One could also justify consciousness as being the basis of physical reality through a thought experiment similar to Descartes “evil demon” scenario. In this thought experiment we acknowledge that physical reality is rendered through the mind therefore there is nothing necessarily physical or material about it but merely consciousness interpreting it as such. If one were to hold the point of view that consciousness is the fundamental basis of reality then one would have to discard the notion that in order for consciousness to exist there must first be a person who is conscious. In other words, consciousness would have to be able to exist independently which I suppose is not inconcievable.

Another aspect to consciousness is that it is both aware and self-aware. So not only is consciousness a building block (so to speak) of reality but it is also by definition aware of itself. Under this model consciousness is diffused throughout everything in the universe including biological objects and non biological objects. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that everything in the universe is diffused through consciousness. Of course certain things have greater degrees of consciousness. A chimp has more consciousness than a rock for example. From this perspective it seems entirely plausible that artificial intelligence will be able to have consciousness on the level of a human or perhaps greater because it was constructed in such a way so as to allow the underlying consciousness to manifest itself.

I suppose one might reasonably ask what difference does it make whether material or consciousness is the basis of reality and how might one confirm whether this is indeed the case? Leo contends that this can in fact be confirmed through spiritual practices such as meditation and use of psychedelics. If this has been so confirmed to an individual then I assume this knowledge will change the way he or she looks at the world. I am certainly open to this perspective but I cannot say that I have yet confirmed it one way or the other.

 

 

 

 

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An Anti-Liberal’s History of Liberalism

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Over the course of my last two posts, The Sexual Left’s Ambiguous Definition and Wildly Failing to Make an Assertion, I engaged in a conversation (of sorts) with an anti-liberal named Terry Morris who is a regular commentator on the anti-liberal blog, The Orthosphere. My discussion with Mr. Morris continued in the comment section of a recent Orthosphere post entitled The Rectification of Grammar written by Orthosphere contributor Kristor. The substance of this conversation centered around my observation that although anti-liberals share a dislike for liberalism they do not share a common definition for liberalism. This is a problem in my estimation because I do not believe a meaningful conversation can be had on the subject of liberalism if the parties to the conversation each employ a different definition. Unfortunately, my observation seemed to rub Mr. Morris the wrong way.

However, a more interesting and thoughtful conversation sprouted from this interaction with Orthosphere contributor JMSmith. Mr. Smith took the time to write a series of comments on what he believed to be the genesis of modern liberalism and why he feels it to be a negative development. It is his position that I would like to explore in this post.

AN ANALYSIS OF JMSMITH’S POSITION ON LIBERALISM

JMSmith recounted the history of liberalism. Specifically he stated that liberalism began as a moderate position between the orthodox Christians and atheists in the West.

[T]he nineteenth-century liberal occupied a position between parties that made strong “truth claims,” …

The “truth claims” to which JMSmith refers are (1) the orthodox Christian claims of the existence of God and an objective moral law and (2) the atheistic rejection of both these claims.

[T]he liberal … espouse[d] the epistemic doctrine of skepticism/agnosticism. His basic line was that the truth … cannot be known, so anyone who is not a public menace should be left in peace. As a practical political doctrine, this tolerance makes some sense, although the parties making strong truth claims said is was just cowardice …

Here we see Mr. Smith imply authentic orthodox Christians and authentic atheists both share the belief that they should have the power to control the thoughts and actions of people who do not share their beliefs. This is contrasted with the liberal position which would allow the individual to think and act (lawfully) as he sees fit.

In the twentieth century, liberalism became less and less of a moderate position, and more and more of a stalking horse for soft leftism or Fabian socialism.

In other words, liberalism according to JMSmith while ostensibly maintaining the neutral and agnostic position actually evolved into a false pretext for implementing socialism and presumably atheism in a gradual (i.e., non-revolutionary and more subtle) manner.

[T]oday’s Liberals are either disguised Leftists or Cucks who are soft on Leftism because they have no principles of their own.

That is, modern liberals according to JMSmith are really either atheists who do not want to admit this truth (perhaps even to themselves) or they are agnostics who lack principles and therefore the backbone to stand up to the atheists by whom liberals desire to be accepted. Pathetically, the liberals are willing to compromise whatever limited beliefs they might have in order to achieve this acceptance (hence the term “Cuck”).

In theory it is a doctrine of moderation and tolerance rooted in dogmatic agnosticism. This means that, in theory, it has very little positive content of its own, and should act mainly to control the excesses of whatever dogmatic system is most aggressive at the moment. It’s battle cry is, “don’t be so sure about that! You might be wrong!”

I have two reactions to this statement. First, it is interesting to me that Mr. Smith seems to consider only unprovable truth claims to be positive content. In my mind, a belief that one person should not force a belief concerning an unprovable truth claim on another is itself “positive content” but we can agree to disagree on that. Second, if truth is a goal then why would JMSmith seek to force a person to believe something that he does not truly believe or about which he is honestly uncertain? Put another way, why would it be more truthful to choose to believe an unprovable truth claim than to acknowledge that one cannnot truly know what cannot be proven and therefore accept the most truthful position would have to be agnosticism?

Of course, accepting a truth claim is a more satisfying position to take than the limbo of agnosticism for many people. It seems Mr. Smith and presumably all anti-liberals look with disdain upon those who go the agnostic route as perhaps weak willed, risk adverse and cowardly. In his mind (I speculate) it is better to choose a truth claim even if it is actually untrue than to sit on the fence because living a life according to a truth claim is a life more worth living than otherwise. If this is in fact his position, I can respect it and agree with it to a certain extent.

This is the theory: liberalism is the playground monitor, its job being to keep potential bullies in line.

It is interesting to me that the anti-liberals seem to think that bullying is a virtuous position so long as a person is bullying in the name of an unprovable truth claim. Perhaps (and I am not sure the anti-liberals take this position) bullying (i.e., the intimidation of another person with physical force or the threat of physical force) is not necessarily morally bad and perhaps is even a moral good.

In fact, the agnosticism of most liberals is a sham, and this is evident in the gross partiality with which they police the playground. They obviously think feminists belong on university faculties and segregationists do not, and this means that they “know” more than they say they know. 

This statement seems to be comparing apples to oranges. It is one thing to choose to believe an unprovable truth claim as to the ultimate nature of reality such as “God exists” or “God does not exist.” It is quite another thing to decide what behaviors are or are not acceptable in polite society. For the record, I happen to be one of those who believe that God exists. But I do not agree that bullying other people into sharing my beliefs serves a moral or even practical good. That is, I do not believe God values inauthentic beliefs nor do I think a civilization populated with inauthentic believers could ever be a vibrant or successful one.

JMSMITH’S QUESTION TO ME

I would like to end this post discussing a question Mr. Smith posed to me.

I may have missed it, but have you given us your description or definition of Liberalism? It seems to me that we are playing a game of Guess What is in My Pocket[?]

His question displays an understandable level of distrust as to my motives. His distrust is understandable to me because the Othosphere was created to be a blog where like minded anti-liberals could commiserate, share ideas and perhaps win over converts. From this perspective it makes sense that a person such as myself who does not fully share their beliefs offering a critique might be seen as a troll. In my own defense, I can only say that I am interested in having a discussion of these ideas and for this reason it is important that everyone is using the same definition of a term that is so central to these ideas. For this reason I do not think my definition of liberalism is terribly relevant given that it was my intent to better understand the perspective of the Orthosphere.
However to answer his question, I never considered myself to be a liberal prior to reading the Orthosphere. At that time a liberal to me was a person who became outraged when the dictates of political correctness were violated (for example). But according to the Orthosphere almost every American is a liberal whether they are Republicans, Democrats, Nazis or Communists. If I am to use Zippy’s definition of liberalism (i.e., a political philosophy holding that governments should promote freedom and equal rights) then I definitely am a liberal. But, once again I am not sure if all Orthospherians agree upon this definition which brings me back to my original point.

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Reductio Ad North Korea

For sometime now (much to the chagrin of some) I have been using North Korea as an example with which to compare the United States in order to demonstrate that some countries can indeed be “more free” than others. In my mind this comparison clearly makes the point that if one country can be more free than another, then prioritizing the freedom of citizens (i.e., liberalism) is a coherent aim for a government to pursue.

I would think most reasonable people would be in agreement as to this point but apparently a certain small population of people are not. One person (who goes by the name Zippy) sticks out in particular. Not only does he stubbornly reject the notion that North Korea is less free than the United States but he does so in an arrogant and condescending manner.

He often refers to my argument as reductio ad North Korea. Specifically he stated recently in a comment section:

Your reductio ad North Korea has been dealt with extensively and repeatedly in multiple venues. You’ve never demonstrated an adequate understanding, let alone mounted an actual argument against, the repeatedly demonstrated incoherence of liberalism. Any pretense to symmetry here is just that: mere pretense.

Notice the sneering tone he adopts. I have often wondered why he seems incapable of simply discussing the logic of the argument rather than resorting to ad hominem attacks. In my mind this calls into question his true motivation behind refusing to see what most people would consider obvious. It seems very clear that he has some other ax to grind.

He then attempted to refute my argument in greater detail:

The rhetorical method is obvious to
anyone not stuck to the tar baby:

1) Observe that two actual countries are different.

2) Observe that some of the features of one country are preferable to some of the features of the other.

3) Label those preferable features – and only the preferable ones – “freedom”.

4) Completely ignore the substantive reality of what liberalism actually is. Discount the fact that both countries profess liberalism. Etc, etc.

5) Completely ignore the substantive criticism of liberalism itself. Avoid at all costs actually addressing the argument.

6) Fog up the discussion with maximum virtue signaling and ad hominem.

If one can look past his sneering comments, his six point analysis is actually quite helpful for me in that it demonstrates the specific parts of my argument that he seems to be incapable of understanding. This allows me to provide him with the information and reasoning he seemingly lacks.

As to point 1 – We are in agreement that the United States and North Korea are different countries specifically as to the amount of freedom each country allows its citizens to enjoy.

As to point 2 – Yes, the first amendment of the United States constitution states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

To my knowledge, the citizens of North Korea (with the possible exception of the elite class) are not allowed the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press nor the right to peacefully assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Yes, I believe the situation in the United State is better and so does everyone else (I suspect including Zippy). Why else would people flock to the United States and not to North Korea?

As to point 3 – I agree that the situation in the United States is preferable, but not for some arbitrary reason as Zippy seems to imply. We are talking about the basic freedoms that all people aspire to. This is proven by the petitions made not only by the European and American revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries but also by Tienanmen Square and the Arab Spring movements. It is not as if one could equate the freedom of speech with the right to eat ice cream while walking on one’s hands. I suspect any reasonable person would agree as to this point.

As to point 4 – North Korea does not have the rule of law. It has the rule of Kim. Therefore it does not matter that it’s laws or official statements profess it to be a liberal regime. It’s laws are meaningful to the extent the Kim regime wishes to enforce them. For this reason we cannot look to its laws in order to determine whether it is liberal or otherwise. We must look to the way the state acts. For this reason it cannot be said that North Korea is a liberal regime even though it professes to be so because in action it clearly does not prioritize the freedom and equal rights of its citizens.

As to point 6 – Zippy was the first one to cross the ad hominem line. It seems that Zippy wants to present the fact that I have called him out on this to be a worse ad hominem than his original ad hominem which started all of this. To me this seems like the whining of an adolescent rather than a man taking full responsibility for his actions. I don’t doubt that his echo chamber will view it otherwise.

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The Fruit of the Spirit

I have been reading articles on the Orthosphere and Zippy Catholic‘s blog for a few months now. Both of these websites represent a brand of Christian conservatism (or perhaps more accurately Christian anti-liberalism) that would be considered a bit extreme by most people. Their contributors and commentators in large measure seem to think that freedom and equal rights are actually misguided pursuits for governments to concern themselves with and that these pursuits are in fact responsible for all the evil manifested in modernity from political correctness all the way to Nazi death camps.I must say that in certain small  instances they make compelling or at least logically consistent arguments to support their eccentric points of view. I cannot say that I am totally convinced by most of their arguments but they do make some points worth considering.

However, more than their position there is something about these blogs that disturbs me which for some time I have been having trouble putting my finger on. More and more, however, I can see that it is the underlying spirit of negativity, judgment and arrogance behind the content that is the cause of this feeling.

Recently, a contributor named JMSmith wrote a piece on the Orthosphere entitled “The Israel Fetish” which I think illustrates the point I am trying to make. Mr. Smith works in higher education and from what I have read is not all together satisfied with his professional experience. This seems to be a common thread among the contributors to these blogs by the way. Many work in academia and are unhappy with the present state of the world for which they blame liberalism. In his article JMSmith fixated upon a promotional message he recently received for a student trip to Israel. He quoted some of the language:

A trip to Israel is in essence a rite of passage for every Christian—a pilgrimage in the truest sense. The origins of both ancient Biblical faith and of a modern-day miracle intersect here. The land and the people of Israel have a story to tell. By coming to Israel this summer, you make Israel’s story part of your own story.”

Mr. Smith took issue with this advertisement on several levels. Primarily he rejected its incorrect use of the terms “pilgrimage” and “rite of passage.” He explains,

The traditional Christian understanding of pilgrimage is that it is (a) an act of penance, and (b) a symbolic expression of the belief that we are pilgrims (literally foreigners) on earth…

Certainly a strong argument can be made that the author of the advertisement did not use the term pilgrimage correctly. But one gets the sense that this improper use of the term is representative of some deeper and more general corruption of society as well as his fellow Christians. He continues:

I well understand that Christian “pilgrims” have often been very silly people, and that Christian “pilgrimages” have often been larks, junkets and sight-seeing excursions…  But this does not make a sight-seeing excursion into “a pilgrimage in the truest sense,” even when the destination is, indeed, holy.  Rather, I submit that such an excursion is a pilgrimage in the stupidest sense.

Mr. Smith then articulates his problem with the improper use of “rite of passage” in the article:

Nor, I think, should one call [the advertised trip to Israel] a “rite of passage.”  … A rite of passage is a scripted ceremony in which select members of a society pass from one social status to another… A rite of passage ceremony publicizes the change of status to the relevant community, and this change in status entails real changes in a person’s rights and responsibilities… When the phrase “rite of passage” is used to denote nothing more than a “life-altering experience” at the personal and psychological level, it is being used in the stupidest sense.

Clearly this advertisement touched a nerve with Mr. Smith. This advertisement which incorrectly employed the terms pilgrimage and rite of passage both “in the stupidest sense” touched upon his disappointment with Christians in general which he described in the following language:

My real complaint is that we Christians are such everlasting saps and suckers and simpletons.  My real complaint is that we are the Rubes of the Universe, the easiest marks ever to shamble down the street, ready to buy the Brooklyn Bridge.

Okay. Clearly Mr. Smith has a problem with the present state of Christianity which I assume he believes to be corrupted by liberalism. This corruption has turned his fellow Christians into the “Rubes of the Universe” who are taken in by the incorrect usage of the terms “pilgrimage” and “rite of passage.”Now it must be said that I do not have a problem with the general premise of Mr. Smith’s argument. The spirit of pilgrimage and rite of passage have been largely lost in our modern culture and this loss hurts us all.However, I do have a problem with the snarky, arrogant, snobbish and judgmental attitude in which the argument is made. It seems to me that this is not in line with the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Saint Paul writes in his letter to the Galations:

[T]he desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh…  Now the works of the flesh are evident: … enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, … and things like these. Gal 5:19-21

It seems to me that this sort of judgmental commentary is conveyed in a way that is contrary to the Holy Spirit. In other words the energy behind this commentary is working according to the desires of the flesh.By contrast Saint Paul describes the fruit of the spirit:

[T]he fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control… Gal 5:22-23

I must say that I do not see these qualities in any of the posts or comments on the Orthosphere or Zippy Catholic. And that really is my problem with the Orthosphere and its daughter blog sites. Although they may raise legitimate points about how the current state of modern society is contrary to Christian principles they do so in a manner that is contrary to the Holy Spirit. For this reason I hold their contempt and judgment of their fellow Christians suspect. Accordingly, if they intend to hold themselves out to be the last bastions of true Christianity perhaps they should reconsider the spirit behind their message. And if the spirit behind their message cannot be reconciled with their message perhaps they should reconsider their message.

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