Thursday, May 29, 2008

A New Error Theory for Theism

Individual human flourishing might require deep gratitude. I'm not sure, but I think so. At least, for many people, their flourishing requires it. Without it they cannot function properly. The ordering of attitudes and dispositions in the soul is dysfunctional if at or near the center of these there is no deep gratitude, by which I mean gratitude that this world exists and that one lives in it. There will be more to say about this in the next post on misfortune, and I've discussed the issue before. Here let us assume that it is so that deep gratitude is prevalent amongst human beings because it is natural for them to have it.

Now, gratitude has a personal object: the one to whom one is grateful. Since that for which one is grateful is the existence of the universe and oneself, the personal object of deep gratitude can be none other than God. Since human beings find themselves given to deep gratitude, they are led to believe that there must be someone to whom they are grateful: God. However,

P: There is no entailment from the proposition that one feels gratitude to the proposition that there is someone to whom one feels gratitude.

So, the error theory is this. People find the belief in God compelling, satisfactory and natural (to put it mildly.) This is because they feel deep gratitude. Deep gratitude, given its intensional structure, explains their belief in God. The causation explaining their belief in God is non-rational causation, since P. There is no need to suppose that there is evidential foundation for the belief that we are unaware of (and we are aware of none.) So the error theory goes.

Atheists can feel deep gratitude, as well, however. When we construe the emotion as deep gladness and modesty, the personal object (God) drops out. One is simply glad that this universe exists and that one lives in it. There need be no one to whom one is grateful. So, the error theory doesn't cast any aspersions on deep gratitude. It is perfectly consistent with holding, as I do, that deep gratitude is indeed part of proper functioning for human beings.

AN ASIDE: Not only P, but also, the existence of gratitude for the existence of the world and oneself does not even merely tend to show that there is someone to whom one is grateful. This is because (A.) there is no other reason to believe that there is someone who created this universe and (B.) the construal of the emotion as gladness is also available.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

President Lincoln said it already:

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Fascist Switch

Let's take a look at two gestalts through which one sees poltics. One is the Designer. The Designer is the one who looks at political life from the design perspective and decides how to redesign it as he sees fit. To get there one moves, like the circle in Flatland, out of the plane in which people lie and takes a vantage above. An adolescent perspective, it becomes a totalitarian tendency if it persists into adulthood. If a cult of personality is involved, or a General Will, then it is also the fascistic species of totalitarianism.

The other gestalt is the Individual. This is the gestalt in the plane of human life and with no design vantage. Here one sees only a sea of individuals surrounding one, and one doesn't conjure up an elevated design platform upon which to play master of puppets. This is the libertarian perspective.

The Designer, the fascist, is of leftist economical philosophy. As human nature is given free rein to flourish, economic inequalities develop amongst individuals. The Designer necessarily opposes these inequalities and supports egalitarianism because he wants to change the way the world is and inequality is the way the world is. Therefore, given the nature of freedom and humanity, fascism is essentially leftist.

Inside us, there is a switch between the Designer and the Individual. If you turn off the switch, you come to see only an aggregate of individuals with no General Will. It becomes clear that the Designer is a narcissist and an oppressor with no regard for the right of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The importance of protecting the individual from Designers and preventing the rise of statism becomes obvious. This realization causes the switch from liberalism at 20 to conservatism at 40.

The connection between fascism and leftism (or "liberalism") now seems to be fourfold:
  1. The philosophical connection that fascism must oppose economic liberty.
  2. The inherently totalitarian intent of leftism, its sharing the vantage of Designer with fascism.
  3. Philosophical and psychological nihilism shared by leftism and fascism. This is the belief that, other than envy, nausea and self-loathing (if those can count as values) no values normally upheld by people are inherently real. Hence the Designer's intent to undertake the exciting political design project of replacing these fake values with the new ones of General Will unity and egalitarianism.
  4. The historical connections explained by Jonah Goldberg in Liberal Fascism.
Many who have the switch turned on inside themselves - who take the Designer's perspective - don't realize that this is a delusional perspective that may simply be switched off. The Designer is a hypnotic state with an off switch. These people have a duty to turn it off when they discover this state of affairs. The Designer has already killed 100 million and immiserated many more, so the duty is considerable.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Whether to Vote for McCain or Obama

Reasons to vote for McCain:
  • He will be a decent CIC and we are at war.
  • He has a chance of appointing good Supreme Court justices.
Reasons to vote for Obama:
  • McCain has no other redeeming qualities. He has poor judgment. His support of the Kyoto Protocol is an example. There are many other examples.
  • The country should move as quickly as possible towards totalitarianism if that is the direction in which it is moving. And that is indeed the direction. (Not that the U.S. will be a fully totalitarian state but that it is moving along the scale in that direction.) A slower movement will dig itself deeper roots and go unnoticed longer, therefore being more difficult to reverse. A quicker move toward totalitarianism will throw the results into starker relief, thereby causing a reactive pulling back toward liberty before totalitarian roots grow too deep.
The considerations seem approximately equal in weight. However, libertarians and conservatives should deliberate carefully and vote, rather than throwing up your hands. If you believe that prudence favors a vote for Obama for the second reason I listed, then it also favors a vote for the more liberal candidates down-ticket, as well. Thus, you should vote against your staunchly conservative congressman or senator in favor of his liberal opponent, for example. An odd voting strategy, to be sure, but not obviously less prudent than any alternative strategy.

As for the GOP, I'm through with it. It needs to expire as badly as the Democratic Party does. Both are useless.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Iraq War: Five Years On

The war is going well enough: as well as can be reasonably tolerated, expected and predicted: middling well.

Here's why. We have Iraq on a trajectory that one may reasonably hope to end in a decent society. We have Iran much closer to being surrounded by our allies. We have al Qaeda quite hurt by the course of the War on Terror without our having to fight in the U.S. Also, War on Terror casualties are low compared to other U.S. wars. The possibility of Iraq using its WMD programs to terrible ends has been eliminated. The criminal Oil for Food starvation racket is gone and Iraq won't experience thirty more years of Hussein oppression.

In Iraq the American military is having one of its finest hours.

Strategic mistakes were, as the saying goes, made. Some were excusable, some not. All were normal to war.

Bottom line: five years on the Iraq War was the right decision. As I said at the time, there is no doubt that it was morally permissible. At this juncture it also seems to have been prudent for the reasons listed above. Liberate them or they will destroy us. The War on Terror will be a long one. I think my sons, now small, will likely fight in it.

If this evaluation sounds polyannish to you, as if I've overlooked the horror of the war, then perhaps you share John Stewart's assumption that The Authorities have a duty to remind you that war is a nasty business. In that case it is you who have overlooked the horror, not I.
Douglas Feith on The John Stewart Show

I saw this show for the first time last night. It was an uplifting experience. Stewart, for all his political dysfunction - his focus on how he and other anti-Iraq War partisans felt in the run-up to the war about how prudent the option to invade Iraq was, and his unreflective and shamefully childish assumption that the government had a duty at that time to remind Americans that war is risky - was not unhinged by his anger and resentment. Right there on an anti-Iraq War TV show, the reality of the basic anti-Iraq War tenet that the Bush administration lied its way into the Iraq War was brilliantly illuminated and shown to have no basis in reality. Stewart didn't fly off the handle; he could only sit there gazing upon the facts.

Stewart could not protest because he is a reasonable man in spite of his dysfunction. He did not fly into spasms of rage when listening to Feith. It was an example of a non-dysfunctional confrontation of the anti-Iraq War side with what the Bush administration actually did in making its decision to invade Iraq. It is a shame that all anti-Bush demagogues aren't as well-equipped with a deeper core of sanity and temperament as Stewart is, succumbing instead to irrational resentment and hatred.

(I didn't see the entire 20-minute interview available on the Web, but only the edited-for-TV version.)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Good Pop

Here's your good pop for the month:

The Beach Boys. Dear God, Thanks for letting Brian compose this for us.

Journey. Dear Journey, I'm sorry I hated you because the cool kids told me to.

The Shins. (Minimize screen. Do not watch the video. It's so bad you won't be able to hear the song.)

Don't like pop? Here's Raw Power.
The White Vote

You're being hoodwinked by The Man again.

Sometimes The Man is the talking head who tells you Obama is having a tough time getting the non-college-educated white vote. Because those whites are racist, of course. Got that? For 20 years Obama attends (and now continues to attend) a church ridden with the social disease but whites who find this objectionable are the racists. Do you have that straight? Whites who won't vote for guy who prefers the racist milieu are racists. Go ahead and believe it if you don't have the guts to stare down The Man with the race-baiting eyes. You're being lied to in order to coax you into voting for an unqualified candidate. The lie is that the racist is not a racist, and those who object to racism are racists. The Man is trying to cripple your mind with guilt. If you don't have a spine, you will let him do it. It's your choice, not his.

In fact Obama has no difficulty in getting the white vote. He has difficulty in getting the vote of people who do not have the social disease of racism. College-educated people and blacks suffer from the disease at much higher rates than anyone else, so they're voting for Obama because he's black and because they do not mind his preference for a racist church. There is no evidence that non-college-educated white voters won't vote for a black. They simply prefer a candidate who has a record of achievement, who doesn't demonstrate poor judgment about abiding in a racist milieu, and who won't lie when asked whether he knew that he had embraced a racist minister for 20 years.

In your mind, juxtapose the facts with the hypnotic force. If you just keep the facts in view and calmly watch your inclination to relent to The Man's mesmeric influence on your disposition to feel guilt, then the inclination will subside. You will see The Man for the demon that he is.

The Man may also be found in Alan Abramowitz. He says you're a racist if you believe "that African American poverty and other problems are largely the result of lack of ambition and effort, rather than white racism and discrimination." He implies that you won't vote for Obama because you have this belief and because Obama prefers a milieu that is beside itself with rage in rejecting this belief. Go ahead, accept what The Man is saying. The problem isn't black communities dysfunctional culture. After all, a black kid can't study hard, graduate from high school, leave the milieu of this dysfunctional culture, find employment, and have a good life. Right? Sure. You can believe that. Anyway, believing it is easier than staring down The Man with the mesmeric eyes. It's easy to slip into his control - as easy as slipping into sleep.

The Man hates it when black kids leave their dysfunctional culture and succeed. The demon in him howls whenever these kids go on as adults to wax proud of themselves for it. He hates everyone to be treated as an individual. He lusts for control over people grouped by this or that identifier, as long as the identifier isn't content of their individual and unique characters. He will never stop trying to trick all into submitting to his power when in fact he has control over no one who doesn't choose to submit.

You have a good heart. You feel horrific shame at the thought of discovering that you are a racist. You are kind and trusting. Unfortunately, there is a wolf who would prey upon you because you have such a heart. You need to be able to stare into the wolf's face calmly, strongly and without anger. When you do this you will find that he has no power over you.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Non-Coercive Totalitarianism

Of course, I'm running my mouth about Liberal Fascism over here.
Conquering Death

The inevitability of death is not so much a philosophical problem as a neural problem. Of course, death is undesirable because existing is desirable. Philosophy can explain that life is worth living in spite of the inevitability of the end, but this does little to mitigate the undesirability of the end. When you look under the hood, the undesirability turns out to be little subject to philosophy, anyway. What's under the hood is terror. Death is a neural problem.

Conquering death requires addressing the neural problem. Life is dear and we can be mesmerized by it. Even if one has the capacity to accept and to value the finite life one is given to live, one may still have anguish at the coming of the night because life compels a clinging in the nerves, a terror. Dread of death is driven by this hypnotic state, not by reasoning.

There are meditative techniques for dissolving the shackles that affix one to mesmeric objects. A key player in all this is the gut. I venture this: The solar plexus is a neural center about which a tight musculature makes placid confidence impossible. There is a certain fortitude to be obtained that allows the local muscles to relax. It is a deep strength that lets the belly sit loosely. One's neural state has a certain flow, free of frenetic tangles that generate terror when the threat to the beloved (life) is contemplated. There is neither clenching and bracing for the end nor forlorn resignation. There is only placidity and great strength.

A samurai once threated a man, saying, "Did you know that I could cut you in half without blinking an eye?" The man replied, "Did you know that I could be cut in half by you without blinking an eye?" That's a bit campy, but it carries the drift. There are deep reservoirs of strength that enable one to stare death in the face as it happens and accept it nobly yet without anguish. The reservoirs may be tapped by meditative techniques, and perhaps other techniques, as well.