AN EXISTENTIAL META-ETHICS: ARGUMENT FOR A RETURN TO ITS ROOTS IN NIHILISM AS A MORALITY

I. PROLOGUE / THE NATURE OF THE PROBLEM

A slave begins by demanding justice and ends by wanting to wear a crown. He must dominate in his turn. — Albert Camus

The correct answer to the trolley problem thought experiment omnipresent in academic, philosophy, and experimental psychology studies on ethics and morality has finally been revealed through the acts of a two-year-old toddler who despite his age is an old school existentialist and is shown in the YouTube video entitled “A two-year-old’s solution to the trolley problem” at Trolley Problem. The general form of the thought experiment is as follows. You see a runaway trolley moving toward five incapacitated people lying on the tracks. To save them, the option exists to pull a lever thus diverting the trolley onto a side track where it will kill only one person. What do morality and ethics require be the good and evil decisions? The video shows a two-year-old boy happily playing with his trolley set when the Power-that-be in his life consisting of his father interrupts him for an important life lesson on good and evil. The Power puts five pretend persons on one rail line and one pretend person on the other rail line, as the pretend trolley reaches a fork in the one line leading to the two lines with the pretend persons, the Power asks “Oh oh, what do we do now? The train is going to crash into these people”. So, the kid dude takes the single pretend person from the one line, adds them to the five pretend persons on the other line, and then happily pretends to run the trolley over all six then continuing with his play as he was before the Power interrupted him with a stupid experiment dependent on a pretend almost impossible chain of events that serves only to indoctrinate human reasoning into a cold-blooded calculation of unimaginative restricted options. The trolley experiment is more suited to training concentration camp guards as social engineers than in learning anything about good and evil in the supposedly diversity thinking modern social justice world in which clear options are usually nonexistent.

 
Here is a more old school existential experiment in normative thought. You are driving your two seat car by a bus stop and see three people there: 1) a physically injured person trying to get to a hospital; 2) an old close friend that you have not seen in years; 3) someone you recently fell in love with. You can only give one of these people a ride in your car because there is no room for more than two people. So, who gets the ride? The nihilist answer is: let your old friend drive the injured person to the hospital while you stay with your love at the bus stop.

 
The kid’s nihilist response to the Powers’ wordgame of ethics so he can concentrate on his game of trolleys puts him in the true existential hero ranks of Camus’ Sisyphus, Meursault, and the Rebel/Conqueror of Myth of Sisyphus. As with Sisyphus and his boulder, we must leave the video imagining the kid dude happy as he continues in his meaningless task. (If one has a satirical sense of humor normally not allowed in proper company, the music video version of the toddler’s solution is funnier:  “Kids Solution To The Trolley Problem THUG LIFE”. )

 
The true old school existential question in the trolley problem is not concerned with the freedom of the few Powers authentically controlling the trolley switches but with the freedom, if any, of the vast majority of humanity consisting of the individual incapacitated tied to the tracks. That is, of the waiters out there that new school existentialism ridicules for their being too good at their job and therefore inauthentic. As they “hear Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near; And yonder all before us lie Deserts of vast eternity” should they abandon all hope and as did Meursault lay their existential “heart open to the benign indifference of the universe” or engage in Kierkegaard’s religious final stage of hope in God to make the existential “qualitative transition of the leap from non-belief to belief”. Or, more practically, given the chance, how many of the Other tied to the tracks would they kill in a Nietzschean will to power act to save themselves? If history is any clue, the answer is pretty much all of them. But, how many are they allowed actually to kill and who is it that decides whether this natural law of survival is the same Natural Law derived from Divine Law that actually allows them the choice for killing of the Other? How do questions of individual life become questions about cosmic Natural Law?

 
Beginning in the modern world with early 19th Century Soren Kierkegaard and continuing to mid 20th Century Albert Camus, it was the contemplation of the meaning or lack of meaning of individual life that was the foundation of existentialism not social engineering. Kierkegaard and Camus sought individual passion for life as the foundation for meaning in life. However, a passionate life by its very nature is existentially the greatest act of discrimination.

 
As the modern world becomes a Technological Society in which by the conceptual and practical necessity of the epistemology of science and of the methodology, economics, and technique of technology, humanity is becoming C.S. Pierce’s “colony of insects” whose group knowledge far exceeds the knowledge of any expendable individual, old school existentialism is needed more than ever. As Orwell accurately predicted, “[b]y comparison with that existing today, all the tyrannies of the past were half-hearted and inefficient. … The possibility of enforcing not only complete obedience to the will of the State, but complete uniformity of opinion on all subjects, now exist[s] for the first time.” Old school existentialism saw the possibility of an individual life of passion despite despair. New school existentialism sees passion and the individual discrimination that passion by necessity creates between that for which we are passionate and that for which we are not as cause of despair not the solution. Rather, it sees social engineering and ethics reducing everything to the needs of cosmic equality as the only hope out of despair thus serving the necessary need of Technological Society to reduce the individual to isolated paper cutout worker bees — genderless; raceless; no ethnicity; no national, group, or social identity; no family or marital allegiance; nor any acceptable sense of community other than their work including academic work; and pretty much eliminating any passion that would threaten the technological collective — while at the same time whining about the technological collective. All individuals are reduced to being a social construct identity but no individual is allowed to be a social construct identity.

 
Passion is the will to power that compels the individual to cut through the meaningless of life to seek that which the individual decides is worthy of singling out, loving, and fighting for either in offense or defense despite the struggle being without hope of victory. Existentialism is supposed to be the enemy of the authoritarian and the collective. Yet, it has become the exact opposite. New school existentialism with its post-modernism and social justice theory has simply hijacked passion to imprison it within aesthetics so that no one notices the passion is gone.

 
Instead of going old school, we get the new school existential groupthink of Rawlsian utilitarianism, structuralism, post-structuralism, post-modernism, social justice theory, or whatever the Powers-that-be want to call their foundational need for cosmic so-called social justice chaining all individuals to the tracks of their wordgames of ethics and morality — living, dead, or yet to be born — except for the few Powers controlling everyone’s trolley so as to make sure they run over only the individuals they have decided should be run over. Kierkegaard and religion are now irrelevant and subservient to the law and Camus would not even be considered an existentialist any longer just as he denied he was one toward the end of his life because it appears he saw what was coming. Other than serving as an object of satire for Woody Allen movies, old school existentialism has become irrelevant to the class struggle of history.

 
What happened?

 
What happened are the success and aesthetics of Technological Society: its technological material power over the banality of the universe gives the Powers the necessary pragmatics to avoid physical nihilism; and its power of Orwellian propaganda — though it constantly whines about the threat of nihilism — gives the Powers the conceptual power to avoid nihilism as an opponent to its ideology. This propaganda derives its power from the aesthetics of morality and ethics: the ontology present in their wordgame of an objective ultimate value called “good”. Nihilism is a threat to this ontology by making the aesthetics of good and evil equal.

 
Nihilism is the one fear of all successful philosophies: Buddhism seeking the oneness of the whole or the wholeness of the one — which it is, I forget — to the pretend nihilism of Nietzschean continental philosophies worshiping Christianity without a Christ and onto the analytic rationalists and also the empirical pragmatists who all fear the existence of a social ethical and individual moral vacuum in human society as so irrational or so impractical as to make civilization unworkable. This is true even for my boyhood hero Camus and for existentialism as it morphed into social justice engineering. His quote from The Rebel that I use as an epigram is his last genial comment on nihilism and the last intelligent one to have come out of existentialism and its progeny founded on the ramblings of Sartre and his followers’ hijacking of existentialism. Camus goes on in The Rebel to conclude with a condemnation of nihilism:

Nihilistic passion, adding to falsehood and injustice, destroys in its fury its original demands and thus deprives rebellion of its most cogent reasons. It kills in the fond conviction that this world is dedicated to death. The consequence of rebellion, on the contrary, is to refuse to legitimize murder because rebellion, in principle, is a protest against death. — Camus, Albert. The Rebel. p. 285.

Camus came from a dirt-poor background and thus likely did not get to play with trains as a child, so why he eventually chose to adopt socially acceptable philosophy is understandable; though — as I will later contemplate — to his credit he subsequently began to regret his sellout to the Powers before his untimely death. However, even those who must have been able to play with trains in their youth such as the proponent of philosophical phenomenology Bruce Wilshire (who ironically ended his career in philosophy as chair of the philosophy department at Rutgers University which at the time was one of the most dominant analytic philosophy departments in the United States) have nothing good to say about nihilism:

Nihilism means to mangle the roots of our thinking-feeling-evaluating selves, to lose the full potential of our immediate ecstatic involvement in the world around us. It means to lose full contact with our willing-feeling-valuing life-projects to have a shallow sense of what is valuable in human life. It means to be arch, smug, dried out — to be a talking head among other talking heads. Speak and reason as we will, we are no longer moved in our depths. — Wilshire, Bruce. Fashionable Nonsense, a critique of analytic philosophy. State University of New York Press: Albany, NY (2002) p. 2.

If all the Powers and their intelligentsia are all opposed to nihilism, there must be something to it, especially for those that are not in the Powers — either Inner or Outer Party.

 
I will argue that existentialism started with nihilism and it should have ended with it as its meta-ethics foundation for all other existential thought — including for morality and ethics — instead of treating it as an “evil” problem to be solved as does social justice theory in all its forms whether it is the analytic rationalism of a John Rawls or the Nietzschean relativists proclaiming the death of God in order to birth themselves and multiple gods in their image.

 
Meta-ethics seeks to know whether there are properties or attributes common to all instances of the words “good” and “evil” in all their forms as normative universals of ultimate value. The term “normative” as are all words is vague and indeterminate with many uses and usefulness. Meta-ethics deals with the conceptualization of evaluative and perspective normative good and evil. It does not deal with the normative in a descriptive rule-following or descriptive predictive sense (though rule-following will be an issue in meta-ethics) such as for example: “to play chess, one must cannot move the pawn more than two spaces”; “to get to manhattan quickly, one ought to take the subway”; “to help your plant live, give it more sun”; “To get to the moon, follow classical physics”. Meta-ethics deals with good and evil in terms of ultimate value: “honesty is good”; “robbery is evil”; “killing is evil”; “all humans have equal human rights”.

 
The conceptual problems raised by various meta-ethics proposed properties and attributes for the words “good” and “evil” in all their forms as normative universals is well known — varying from the famous Hume’s Guillotine and Moore’s Open Question Argument to J.L. Mackie’s error theory and Susan Neiman’s history of philosophy as an inquiry into the nature of good and evil. Though it is important to seek theories of knowledge that can naturalize morality and ethics or at least by Rawlsian style rationalism link them to knowledge about the world, in many ways this problem in meta-ethics is simply irrelevant to modern society. In Technological Society, because its power of propaganda exists independently of any epistemic worth other than for power as an end in itself (As Orwell wrote in 1984, “God is Power”), it is morality and ethics that now often decide not only what ought to be the state of affairs but what actually is the state of affairs — not just as theory-laden language but ontologically as the language of fact and truth. For example, “gender is a social construct” is no longer a question of fact but of ethics; the Powers want it so, it is so. Thus, given this state of affairs, I will argue that nihilism not only acts as individual morality but also as a theodicy because God is the ultimate nihilist. The following I will argue in this essay are all ontologically true, not just linguistically true as a matter of language based on there being “nothing outside of text” or a similar philosophy of language, but ontologically objectively true — to the extent these words can have meaning — for the concepts of evaluative and perspective normative ultimate valuation of good and evil:

1) In the language wordgames of ethics and morality, there are no objective foundational prescriptive or evaluative values for good or evil in a normative sense though these wordgames always assume objective foundational absolute values. Saying there is no truth is a contradiction and nihilism does not require such inconsistent skepticism toward descriptive reality and truth especially toward scientific truth and this is not the nihilism that I will be contemplating. Saying there are no objective values for ultimate normative good and evil is not a contradiction. Nihilism accepts this lack of value as factual truth.

2) Good is anything that one approves as giving meaning to one’s life. Evil is anything of which one disapproves because it opposes or threatens that meaning.

3) Morality and ethics are distinct conceptual forms of life or wordgames. Morality consists of rules by which an individual analyzes compliance with their Good. Since all rules are talked about by public language, morality seems to be public but ontologically it is an individual construct that exists ontologically only as action. Ethics is a set of rules by which a social group defines what is good for the group. Because groups cannot act except through individuals, ethics is ultimately decided by the most powerful of any social group and thus ethics is always ontologically ruling class ideology.

4) A necessary and final ontological attribute of all morality and ethics is violence. If an individual is unwilling to enforce their morality upon the Other by violence then it is simply habit. An ethics unwilling to enforce its ideology by violence upon the Other is simply etiquette or custom. Ethics reaches perfection as ruling class ideology with a monopoly on violence: that is by becoming law. The more a society is dependent upon ethics and law for its social cohesion, the more a society is dependent upon violence for its social cohesion. To paraphrase the philosopher Willard Van Orman Quine’s comments on science, the language fabric of normative language impinges on experience only at the edge of the dagger hidden beneath the fabric: acting upon its attribute of violence.

5) There is no interpretative language that can logically derive normative language from descriptive language and thus neither moral nor ethical beliefs need be based upon true assertions of fact: one can rationally say without contradiction “it is snowing but I do not believe it is snowing” or “Trump is President but I do not believe him to be President”. Epistemically, the foundation of ethics and morality is having norms that are not based on descriptive reality but on what reality ought to be. This gives ethics and morality the power of being the only descriptive wordgame in which a concept of non-pragmatic truth is more than just a deflationary assertion of what is: one can rationally say “there is no objective basis for rape (murder or whatever) to be wrong but I believe it to be objectively wrong”. However, this creates the weakness that pragmatic truth — that is whether an ethics or morality actually works to solve a problem — and descriptive assertions of what is are irrelevant to ethics and morality. For example, for those of a certain ethics, “Trump is not President” becomes a true assertion of fact regardless of whether he is or is not President because according to the norms of such speakers Trump ought not to be President — and similarly the same could have been said of a Clinton if the election results had been different.

6) Modern Technological Society ruling class ideology will by necessity seek through ethics to have power and control over all individual morality including religious morality just as it needs control over everything else in reality. This necessary methodology serves humanity’s needs as a form of life to discover, explore, and conquer the universe trying to kill both the individual and humanity and requires a building of collective knowledge at the expense of individual knowledge — C.S. Pierce’s “colony of insects” with the individual and their morality expendable if not subservient to ruling class ideology.

7) The early religious existentialist Kierkegaard saw hope for individual meaning for the individual living even in necessary servitude to the arbitrary and random Fates through three ascending stages of what are now called phenomenological experiences: aesthetic, ethical, and religious. The incomplete work of Camus reversed the ascending experience: religious, ethical, and aesthetic. I want to begin anew the early thought of the work of Camus by dissolving all three stages into nihilism as a morality based on action not words for the individual trying simply to find meaning in the unavoidable incapacitating ruling class ideology — its ethics — of Technological Society. An opposition struggle to Technological Society so as to continue historical struggle cannot derive from ethics or even from socially acceptable morality but only from nihilism as a morality.

— The remainder of this essay is found at: AN EXISTENTIAL META-ETHICS: ARGUMENT FOR A RETURN TO ITS ROOTS IN NIHILISM AS A MORALITY

META-ETHICS, NIHILISM, AND NIETZSCHE

I. Prologue / the Nature of My Contemplation

It has been more than 30 years since I read Frederick Nietzsche. I appreciate this opportunity to revisit his writings, to rethink them, and to try to understand their relevance to my present philosophical contemplations on meta-ethics, in particularly to nihilism. Back then, I was a Navy veteran trying to work my way through college doing plebeian labor varying from electrician’s work to warehouseman. Nietzsche would have considered me a member of his contemptible “herd” or one of those “everyday intellects, ordinary minds or clumsy, worthy mechanists and empiricists” not worthy to contemplate his writings instead of one of his “free spirits” or his “few” destined to understand him. Though back then I appreciated some of his work to a limited extent, I returned his contempt of me — or more accurately his contempt of my class in life — with the same analysis of him as given by Bertrand Russell:

Speaking of Spinoza he [Nietzsche] says: ‘how much of personal timidity and vulnerability does this masquerade of a sickly recluse betray!’ Exactly the same may be said of him, with the less reluctance since he has not hesitated to say it of Spinoza. It is obvious that in his day-dreams he is a warrior, not a professor; all the men he admires were military. … His ‘noble’ man — who is himself in day-dreams — is a being wholly devoid of sympathy, ruthless, cunning, concerned only with his own power. … This is Nietzsche’s philosophy in a nutshell.

I saw Nietzsche back then, as many still see him, as a nihilist.

 
I have come to realize by this re-reading of him that my dismissal of him was error and that Nietzsche was not a nihilist but a moralist. Over the last 30 years, his statute, influence, and philosophical progeny in continental philosophy and in the modern will-to-power that is post-modernism has only grown — especially in the field of existential meta-ethics that has become the focus of much of my contemplations in philosophy. His pronouncement that “God is dead!” is probably the most brilliant philosophical sound-bite of modern philosophy. In the present post-modern world, it has more power than Descartes’ “I think, therefore I am” that begun the modern world of philosophy. His Thus Spoke Zarathustra is without doubt epic poetry. It took some dry ideas that have been around since the ancient Greeks that were turned into practical politics by Niccolò Machiavelli and transformed them to the level of a religion for many claiming to be irreligious. This was my problem with him before and, frankly, still is. He clearly seems to have a problem with religion and humanism, yet a large portion of Western humanism has made Nietzschean philosophy a religion for the irreligious and see him as one of its greatest prophets if not their messiah whose meta-ethics saved humanist morality and ethics from nihilism.

 
A wide spectrum of political, ethical, and moral perspectives see Nietzsche as its savior from nihilism despite the morality and ethics to which Nietzsche’s metaphysics and epistemology led him. Peter Berkowitz admitted in the first line of “Nietzsche: The Ethics of an Immoralist”:

The dazzling beauty of Nietzsche’s writings may blind the reader to the explosive character of his opinions. Nietzsche expounded a radical and aristocratic egoism; poured scorn on Platonism, Christianity, modernity, enlightenment, democracy, socialism, and the emancipation of women; denounced the belief in human equality as a calamitous conceit; and ardently championed a rank order of desires, types of human beings, and forms of life.

Professor Berkowitz is a conservative political scientist and law professor at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute. After making the above introduction and almost three hundred pages of analysis, he ends the book complimenting Nietzsche as a great moralist who “affirms that nature, reason, or revelation supplies moral and political standards; we must study such thinking in accordance with the demands of the intellectual conscience”. Another conservative law professor Brian Leiter, an advocate of the law and economics school in the philosophy of law, in his article “The Truth is Terrible” treats Nietzsche as the ultimate bearer of truth in a meaningless universe that has no truth. While at the other end of the philosophical spectrum, philosophers in the post-modernist school of continental philosophy such as Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida are just as complimentary to Nietzsche. They also see him as the savior of ethics and morality from nihilism arguing that his philosophy makes each individual their own Superman rejecting social construct ethics and morality to create their own individual identity and the identity of the Other through individual constructs of ethics and morality.

 
In fact, all present existential or post-modernist philosophy books that I have seen on Nietzschean philosophy see it as a transvaluation of nihilism into an “affirmation of life”. Furthermore, as almost always has been the case since Nietzsche became popular, many modern artists and would-be artists see his emphasis on aesthetics especially on the aesthetics of geniuses as the givers of ultimate meaning or on aesthetics as the ultimate affirmation of life as of course referring to them and their art. Nietzsche regarded art “as the great stimulus to life”. Admittedly, from the meta-ethics standpoint, “moral values or disvalues … also include non-moral values, notably aesthetic ones, beauty and various kinds of artistic art”. However, I will not be contemplating this aspect of Nietzschean meta-ethics nor of his metaphysics and epistemology unless necessary to deal with his concept of moral values: of good and evil in mortality not aesthetics. In this essay, I inquire into or ask how Nietzschean meta-ethics — seeking to go beyond good and evil as he puts it that led Nietzsche to aristocratic egotism awaiting a “man of the future” to redeem life in the same way Christianity awaits its Savior to redeem life — created and creates such a universal appeal to so many and has so much power.

 
My conclusion and argument are that the substance and so-to-speak successful will-to-power of Nietzschean meta-ethics is in the sound-bite “God is dead!” that successfully attracts all those in the West who have: 1) a Nietzschean resentment to Christianity; 2) a Nietzschean will-to-power need to replace Christianity with their own secular version of Christianity having essentially the same normative language but without the Christ; and 3) a fear of nihilism. Because it is the reader that gives meaning to text, once those with these attributes become Nietzschean readers — regardless of their perspectives on life — they make Nietzsche and Nietzschean philosophers and philosophical writings their prophets and bible substitute in the same way Christians, regardless of their perspectives on life, have the same prophets and bible.

 
Before I get into my argument and conclusion, I have to make sure my concepts of meta-ethics and nihilism are the same as Nietzsche and must summarize my philosophy of language in order to assure that my contemplation is of the same content as that of Nietzsche.

— The remainder of this essay is found at Meta-Ethics, Nihilism, and Nietzsche

PRELIMINARY ARGUMENT FOR A HOLISTIC CONCEPT OF CONSCIOUSNESS AND PERCEPTION

The following is the prologue of an essay that can be read in full at Preliminary Argument:

We are like sailors who on the open sea must reconstruct their ship but are never able to start afresh from the bottom. Where a beam is taken away a new one must at once be put there, and for this the rest of the ship is used as support. In this way, by using the old beams and driftwood the ship can be shaped entirely anew, but only by gradual reconstruction. — Quine, W.V. Word and Object. Martino Publishing: Mansfield Centre, Connecticut (2013) at Epigram. Original in Neurath, Otto. “Protocol Sentences”. Reprinted in Ayer (ed.) Logical Positivism. The Free Press: NY, NY (1959).

I. Prologue / The Nature of the Concepts in Philosophy of Mind that Make No Sense.

 

This essay is a beginning attempt to synthesize and to make sense of the inconsistencies and outright absurdities present in many writings in the philosophy of mind that have led me to conclude there is a basic conceptual misunderstanding in modern philosophy of mind as to what it is contemplating just as there are equally absurd conceptual misunderstandings in the work calling itself scientific study of the mind. The conceptual errors are so foundationally basic to the arguments being made that it makes it impossible to take seriously many of the arguments presented in the readings and their conclusions. Yet, these errors are completely ignored and the arguments and their conclusions are taken seriously both by many philosophers and by many neuroscientists who seemingly believe them on faith or argument by authority. This only makes matters worse. These conceptual errors seem to be related but I am still unclear of how or why. Much of it appears to be due to an archaic realist view of scientific theory that romanticizes it.

 
Conceptually, for example, arguing whether there exists both unconscious perception and conscious perception is equivalent to arguing whether there exists √1 and √-1 (imaginary number i). Of course they exist; here they are in the previous sentence, I just wrote them down. These concepts exist as meaningful words if you can find a use for them or if they are useful in some wordgame but such existence does not mean they are in the same wordgame. Even if their only use is in the aesthetics of using them, this aesthetics exists and is their meaning in the same way that good fiction exists and is meaningful. According to the German mathematician Leopold Kronecker, “God made the integers; all else is the work of man.” This is a statement by a mathematician of a philosophical problem not a mathematical one. Mathematicians and scientists using the imaginary number i do not, need not, and probably should not care who made it as long as it solves the problem they are trying to solve. However, the confusing of or treatment of √1 and √-1 as the same wordgame or type of number simply because they are both square roots is a conceptual error as mathematicians know and not an empirical error. The difference between these number types and the concept of a square root cannot be decided empirically — other than nominally by how they are written as numerals. Without doubt, there is some descriptive and instrumental or predictive values to the concepts of conscious perception and unconscious perception as there are both to √1 and √-1, this does not require the conclusion that these concepts are of the same type or meaning or even exist in the same wordgame so that they can be compared as if they were — in the same way that 1 and -1 are not the same when used under a √ sign or even that √1 and √-1 are the same simply because they are square roots.

 
Matters are made worse when such conceptual confusion found everywhere in philosophy of mind is then routinely and seemingly unknowingly used by so-called cognitive science in cargo-cult science experiments to confirm the conceptual bias of those running the experiments. The basic path of scientific reasoning is as follows: 1) to hypothesize — for example, that all swans are white; 2) observe — all available swans; 3) predicate the property — all available swans are white; and 4) conclusion — all swans are white. This reasoning presents well-known conceptual problems of induction and the logical nature of cause and effect explanation as part of the pragmatic value these observations may have, however this reasoning is scientific reasoning. However, the following reasoning under no empirical conditions is science or even valid reasoning: 1) hypothesizing that all swans are white; 2) deciding to observe only white swans; 3) intentionally and knowingly observing only white swans; and 4) concluding from these observations that all swans are white. Such knowing and intentional reasoning is not even cargo-cult science because at least cargo-cult science can be falsified by the cargo planes not showing up. It may still achieve pragmatic value by coincidence due to the rarity of black swans and for aesthetic and propaganda meaning and has the advantage of avoiding conceptual problems of induction and the nature of cause and effect explanation but does so at the expense of not being induction, science, nor explanation of anything except confirmation bias.

 
Examples of this pseudoscience at work in philosophy of mind are the experiments done on persons who have gone through a commissurotomy or brain surgery that resulting in blind sight. As with any surgery, the surgery leads to observed behavior by the patient that is different from before the surgery. Just as after surgically removing a patient’s arm or making a white swan black a scientist should not expect the patient to behave as a two-armed person nor for the cosmetically created black swan to be white, a scientist should not expect the patient after brain surgery to behave the same as before. Brain surgery patients that are allowed to use the entirety of their available abilities — such as moving their head and eyes as necessary to have full perception of their acts and the things around them — behave as a conscious individual perceiving their actions and the things around them in the same way a person with one arm will get by in life by using other aspects of their humanity in ways two-armed persons do not. An example of this state of affairs is the blind psychologist Donald Kish, the founder and director of the nonprofit World Access for the Blind, and other blind persons who use their other abilities such as human echolocation (orally created sonar) and their sense of hearing to make up for their blindness and thus know what it is like to be a bat without becoming a bat.

 
The patient in these experiments is one conscious person despite their disabilities until so-called cognitive scientists come along to say differently by invalid reasoning from predetermined conclusions. With the aid of neuroscience, they intentionally choose patients who have had a commissurotomy or other surgery because they know of the resulting blindsight or other effects of brain surgery and then knowingly and intentionally experiment on these unfortunate souls by: 1) intentionally not allowing the patient to move their head or eyes as necessary to perceive fully their acts and the things around them; 2) intentionally restrict what the patient can perceive to specified objects in the intentionally restricted field of vision; 3) intentionally restrict the patient’s language ability to say and understand an infinite number of words they have never heard before by restricting them to answering only specific questions asked in order to observe the answers the experimenters expect and want to hear; and 4) then observe the blindsight and other effects of brain surgery they knew would occur thus confirming what they already knew would occur. Why did the experiments restrict the patients’ eye and head movements, what objects to observe, and what questions they could answer? These restrictions occur in order to assure positive results. This is equivalent to throwing a one-armed person in a swimming pool with their legs tied together and then observing and concluding that a one-armed person is not a very good swimmer. The reason for tying their legs together is to assure the result of not being a good swimmer.

 
The most sophist and pompous aspect of these experiments is when the experimenters go beyond the confirmation of their bias not only to the invalid conclusion (actually, just the fabricated conclusion) that the commissurotomy patient is now not one consciousness but two (left and right side of the brain) and that the blindside individual has a defective link between some type of mental monitoring system in the brain and visual sense perception (an example of the homunculus fallacy) but then actually to tell the patients these conclusions. It is bad enough the patients must suffer with the disabilities they have, they now are told they are not one consciousness but two and that there is a homunculus in their brain deciding what they will or will not see. Might as well tell a blind Mr. Kish that he is a bat. What incredible pompous arrogance. Having like gods created a fictional Adam and Eve in the brain, these pseudo-scientists unlike the God of Genesis skip creation of the Garden of Eden to go directly to create suffering for the lives of their creations. (Given that such arrogance is considered ethical further proves my belief that ethics is simply ruling class ideology). Philosophers and cargo-cult leaders and followers calling themselves scientists are not even able to define what consciousness and perception are for themselves or any one person; they have no basis to separate the unknown into two unknowns other than for the aesthetics of being gods.

A. Summary of My Preliminary Argument

“PEOPLE ONLY BELIEVE WHAT THEY WANT TO BELIEVE “

The following is the first paragraph of an essay that can be read in full at “PEOPLE_ONLY_BELIEVE_WHAT_THEY_WANT_TO_BELIEVE”

I. Prologue / The Nature of the Problem and Questions Presented

 

The aphorism “people only believe what they want to believe” is a common description by proponents of an observation or argument of their opponents’ beliefs — proponents and opponents in a relative sense, this aphorism is often said simultaneously by all parties having opposing descriptions or beliefs regarding the same sense experience, theoretical dispute, or “fabric” made of both. What usually occurs, as exasperation sets in, is that proponents and opponents battling over the truth of their respective claims of knowledge often end their disputes by stating this aphorism of each other as a final means to dismiss the opponent’s beliefs as not justified in any epistemic, normative, nor even in a rational sense but as simply an irrational act of will immune to reason. In such arguments, though it is assumed that truth is the goal of belief, the method being used seems to reduce epistemology to a “search for methods that yield verdicts that one oneself would accept”. As a philosophical observation in Western Philosophy of how beliefs are sometimes justified, this aphorism goes as far back as the Ancient Greeks and is formalized in modern psychology as “confirmation bias”. Furthermore, as a matter of practical reality, in our modern Technological Society in which the average individual is flooded and bombarded by wanted and unwanted information almost every waking minute, it is a necessity to have a reflex or intuitive process of deciding between “junk beliefs” and beliefs with value in order to make it through the day. Except for those whose occupation it is to produce ideas, for most people, moments allowed for deductive or other logical contemplations of beliefs are few and far between. However, this aphorism historically is not a creation of modern technology sound-bite wordgames and polemics or relativism nor solely a trait of Clifford’s “den of thieves” but describes an epistemic voluntarism not limited to the uneducated or unenlightened. The Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy having spent his life among the ruling classes wrote:

I know that most men—not only those considered clever, but even those who are very clever, and capable of understanding most difficult scientific, mathematical, or philosophic problems—can very seldom discern even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as to oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions they have formed, perhaps with much difficulty — conclusions of which they are proud, which they have taught to others, and on which they have built their lives.

LAW AND DATA SCIENCE

Data science has been successful in achieving accuracy rates as high as 83% in predicting the outcome of court decisions: Artificial intelligence prevails at predicting Supreme Court decisions. It is only a matter of time before the algorithms used to predict court decisions progress to the point of actually being able to make better decisions than the judges who now make them, that is of replacing judges and juries to be judge and jury but not the executioner — assuming we can get around the human intuitive block to allowing an algorithm or mathematical formula make normative decisions for us. If the words “justice” and “justice system” are to have any practical or pragmatic social construct meanings other than nominal normative meaning created solely to benefit the few in power in the future of our Technological Society, we need to get around this antiquated and unwarranted intuition.

 
For anyone who has studied history and existential reality, there should be no such intuitive block. The progression of history is an anarchic chaotic progression of random and arbitrary events with any historical patterns that exist almost always ignored by those who make history especially normative history; they are ignored in order for the Powers-that-be who create and define the law and its norms to create a future in their image irrespective of the images of their predecessors who used the same will-to-power to create the present. The prior essays entitled “Why Tolerate Law?” and “An Existential Philosophy of Law” have well established that the concept that judges use the facts and something called the law to reach conclusions or that there is such a thing as the common law that serves as premises for future legal decisions are both nonsense. Judges make decisions to enforce their personal ethics and morality through a monopoly on violence with protecting such monopoly one of the goals of their ethics and morality.

 
Even if a judge wanted to synthesize the thousands of pages of common and statutory law and the convoluted almost incomprehensible intertwined facts involved in even the simplest of court decisions, they could not do so. It is simply behind the ability of human consciousness because of the complexity and the large amount of data and information involved. In order to achieve some semblance of fairness and to make court decisions other than simply a product of a particular judge’s personal ethics and morality and thus of their biases and prejudices, we need to use the great human creation of data science and its algorithms. For a detailed argument on this issue, please see the extensive essay: “Knowledge and Truth in Data Science: Theory Without Theory?” .

LAWYERS AS LEADERS / NOT!

There is a new fad among law schools: teaching lawyers to be leaders. Even Harvard Law School has such courses both as part of their curriculum and as separate continuing education courses at $10,000 tuition for each. This would be funny if it were not so sad and even scary.

 
Lawyers are the ultimate followers. Take any established, well respected, and reputable United States lawyer or judge and transfer their birth and life to a different culture such as North Korea, Stalinist Russia, or any similar non-democratic system of law and they would just as ardently preach the divinity of “the rule of law” in those countries as they do in the United States. The “rule of law” has never been on the right side of history and never will be. Law exists to enforce status quo ruling class ideology and serves to suppress any leaders that would oppose status quo ruling class ideology — including lawyers that would be such leaders. From Socrates to Clarence Darrow and onto lawyers such as Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, and even to a Richard Nixon whose working class coarseness and background were seen as beneath the culture of the Washington elite and thus justified their unforgiving hatred of him, any lawyers that try to lead instead of follow will inevitably face legal problems, suspension, disbarment, and even imprisonment from the law.

 
Lawyers get into law because they want to follow rules and believe in rule-following as a distinct and unique virtue completely ignorant of Wittgenstein’s Rule Following Paradox and any modern philosophy of language and even of science. Does not matter the rule, all rule-following is a virtue for the lawyer mentality. This would not be a problem if they would admit to such form-over-substance mentality and thus incorporate or insert methodology to control it within the practice of law and the judiciary but they do not. In fact it is the exact opposite. The judicial system is the largest oligarchy in the American Republic. Its supposed leaders are chosen for their life tenure jobs giving them complete immunity for their actions by small committees of other lawyers based not on any merits that can be tested and falsified but based solely on political etiquette and ideology standards. After its primary purpose of maintaining the status quo ruling class ideology through a monopoly on violence, the second purpose in life of the rule of law is to hide its primary purpose of maintaining ruling class ideology through a monopoly on violence.

 
Having served in both the military and in the legal system, as anyone who has served extensively in both will most likely tell you, I know there is significantly more freedom of speech and development of leadership by merit in the military than there is anywhere in law. As the military knows, leaders are developed not taught. If one needs to be taught how to be a leader, one is not a leader and never will be. The first rules of leadership are to treat all those you lead fairly and not to demand anything from them you would not demand or expect from yourself. These rules are nonexistent in the oligarchy of the law. In practice, what leadership exists in the practice of law consists of the networking leadership of using one’s connections to bring in clients and business to a law firm — that is it is the leadership of making friends with others in order to benefit financially from the friendship. This is not leadership in any sense but in the sense of nepotism — there is no merit-based meaning to such leadership.

 
The prior essays entitled “Why Tolerate Law?” and “An Existential Philosophy of Law” have established how law has become the unopposed normative power with a monopoly on violence in the Western World. What these law school leadership training courses are really about is networking and about establishing an etiquette wordgame for being called a lawyer-leader within the context of ruling class ideology. These courses teach those that can afford the teaching and who are already at least indoctrinated into class ideology what to say and how to say it so that those in power will recognize you as a follower of their power who can be trusted to follow their orders and to make others follow orders so as to maintain their power. It is not about being leaders but about being followers who are nominally entitled to call themselves leaders for the benefit of those they follow and to hide their ignorance of the nature of law.

THE SHIP OF THESEUS

But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.

— George Orwell

As much as I hate giving Marxism credence for anything, so much in contemporary society forces me to credit as sound and pragmatically true both the Marxist disenchantment of morality and ethics concluding they are simply ruling class ideology and the socialist Upton Sinclair’s disenchantment of aesthetics as “all art is propaganda. It is universally and inescapably propaganda; sometimes unconsciously, but often deliberately, propaganda.” The zero sum wordgame that is patrician parlor game philosophy by sleight-of-hand wording has managed to take the analytic concept of social construct and change it to social and language deconstruction. Patrician academia and intelligentsia, solely through a will to power despite never having to take apart and rebuild anything except for rearranging verbiage for purely aesthetic reasons, continue to view themselves as individual mechanics viewing the social construct engine that is contemporary society as something they need to take apart and then reassemble in their image in order to “produce real progress”. The reality of individuality, perception, and any resulting social construct of contemporary society of which we are conscious and of which we can speak are that they are one-engine, and we do not view either from outside but we are it. There are no “illusions of trust”, there is either genuine pragmatic trust or there is no trust. We can no more deconstruct society, contemporary or otherwise, and its language than an engine can take itself apart — that is without destroying itself with nothing and no one remaining to reassemble it. No more can there be spoken “individual perception” than there can be a private language. Or better yet, to paraphrase the poetic propaganda of Delmore Schwartz, contemporary society is not that of a fire in which we burn, but we are the fire. This pragmatic reality should enchant morality and ethics with more than just ruling class ideology, but it never will.

 
The analytic concept of a social construct was fairly simple before post-modernism got a hold of it. Its simplicity is one reason post-modernism was able to grab onto it and turn it to entertaining fiction. Philosophy has argued knowledge as a pragmatic social construct since the Ancient Greeks. Science was grudgingly forced to accept pragmatic truth with the advent of quantum mechanics though it is still putting up a fight. The unfortunate epistemological reality is that sense perception is unavoidably intertwined with theory expressed by language that is itself laden with theory. Thus language often decides what facts we experience, observe, and use. As Albert Einstein stated, “whether you can observe a thing or not depends on the theory which you use. It is the theory which decides what can be observed.” Better yet is the description of Ludwig Wittgenstein: “the limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”

 
Simple enough. However, these conclusions are in no way equivalent to concluding that language is reality; that deconstructing language is equivalent to deconstructing reality; or that the more words we throw into the world pot the larger the limits of the pot. No, as with any real pot, the words simply overflow. In the pot of language, they simply overflow into an aesthetic world in which meaningless words are the reality. For example, nominally, one can change a word such as “small pox” to “butterfly bumps”, “God’s Will”, and a multiple of other names to make its reality more aesthetically pleasing and this aesthetic truth may make it easier to die of it, but such nominal change does not in any way change the reality of small pox or stop it from killing you. At the other end of the pot, empirically, one can do all the scientific experimentation possible on one’s or anyone’s visual field in all possible worlds viewed but in none of them will one ever find the inner limit or the point from which its contents are seen because the existential observer or individual consciousness is it; without the consciousness of the observer there is no visual field. The meaning of words and wordgames are not simply their use but their usefulness to that use in the activity of life.

 
Some would argue that deconstruction is to words what algorithms are to numbers and that any deconstruction as with algorithms is only as good as the premises or assumptions that go into them. Problem is that algorithms do not care about what premises are used nor what conclusions are reached nor how. A radical feminist as well as a radical sexist can equally use an algorithm to find patterns in purchasing by women on amazon and get the same results if they use the same premises. If the results are not the same or do not add up, so to speak, they know their premises are different, can examine them to see the difference, and can do whatever is necessary to get the same or different results. There is no such thing as immoral or unethical numbers in either the premises, method, or conclusion of an algorithm; any decision as to whether algorithms, their premises, or their conclusions are immoral or unethical is based on normative decisions that are outside the algorithm. Deconstruction cares about the premises, the results, and the deconstruction; they must all be moral and ethical — whatever that means. A feminist and a sexist using deconstruction to perceive the buying choices of women on Amazon is a nonsensical concept because the usefulness of deconstruction of the buying choices of women on Amazon would be to show the effects of sexism. It would be probably considered sexist for a sexist to do deconstruction of the buying choices of women on Amazon because, supposedly, their only purpose would be to use women’s choices for a sexist purpose. Deconstruction at its best is the art of fiction and thus the propaganda of fiction. At its worse, it is simply propaganda. “All art is propaganda, but not all propaganda is art.” – George Orwell.

 
The easiest way to understand what is going on is not by spoken or written language that by logical necessity is discussed by spoken and written language thus creating the “this sentence is false” logic problem used by post-modernism to convolute reasoning and logic to magnify the problem instead of clarifying and understanding it. Rather, the clearer path I submit here is to contemplate perception by using two images used as thought experiments by the philosophers Ludwig Wittgenstein and Norwood Russell Hanson known as the Duck/Rabbit and the My Parisian Wife/Mother-in-Law:

duck-rabbit

2000px-My_Wife_and_My_Mother-In-Law_Hill.svg_-850x1172

 

The empirical reality of these two drawings is the same in all possible worlds in which they exist. The perception of them is not. If you have experience with ducks or rabbits and the English words for that experience, you will see either a duck or a rabbit in the above left-side image when the words “duck” or “rabbit” are spoken to you. If you only have experience with one or none, you will only see that one or none. If you have experience with some common published images of some early 20th Century aging Parisian women and the English words for that experience, you will see either a young Parisian woman or an older Parisian woman in the above right-side image when I speak the words “My Parisian Wife” or “Parisian Mother-in-Law” and so forth. In either case, it is the acts of the observer responding to the words spoken that give meaning to the words spoken. In the right-side image, I may have to add the words “view the chin as a nose” or something similar in order to get an observer to respond or act on the “Parisian Mother-in-Law” but it will still be you as the observer by your acts and responsive activity that gives meaning to “My Parisian Wife/Mother-in-Law”.

 
Are there any sense experience regarding these images for which social construct words do not exist or only exist in some language but not in our language thus limiting our reality? What we perceive of these images is a seamless fabric of sense experience and social construct language. As with all meaning, the meaning of these images or words created by the writer or artist is given by the observer. So, how does contemporary society seamlessly acting as both writers and observers produce “real progress” in the limits of the world of these images?

 
The patrician popular option is deconstruction of the Duck/Rabbit which here would mean deconstruction into a duck and into a rabbit — or into a duck and non-duck; rabbit and non-rabbit; or similar random and arbitrary distinction. Then, by deconstruction we would go on to convert the distinctions into words stating a dialectical opposition such as for example: from either a duckism or rabbitism perspective, we would respectively theorize about duckism or rabbitism concerns for duck rabbit equality; and then we investigate by deconstruction any rabbit-centricism or duck-centricism. We can also conduct the same type of deconstruction of the wife-ism and the mother-in-law-ism from the second image.

 
However, such deconstruction misses the entire point of this wordgame and its meaning. The duck/rabbit may seem to be a duck or may seem to be a rabbit or may seem to be whatever distinctions for which you have words but it is not; it is a Duck/Rabbit. The Parisian Wife/Mother-in-Law may also seem to be a Parisian wife or Mother-in-Law or may seem to be whatever distinctions for which you have words, but it is not; it is a Parisian Wife/Mother-in-Law. The artist drew them as a Duck/Rabbit and a Parisien Wife/Mother-in-Law. As Robert Di Niro said in The Deerhunter, “This is this. This ain’t something else. This is this”; in the real world, these images are this and not that. This is the only way we can know the intent of the artist, by what they drew. Deconstructing either of them to something they are not is not progress or a means to creating or progressing the present social constructs of these images into a new social construct reality. Such deconstruction only tells us at best what we already know but in many more words or, worse, creates ignorance of what we know using as many words as possible. If the artist wanted to construct a duck or a rabbit or just a wife and a mother-in-law, they could have done so. If your conclusion is that they could not have done so, than the path to progress is to construct what prevented the artist from doing so not from making a that into a this simply for aesthetic reasons. At best deconstruction of any language if done using the necessary formulaic verbiage serves as aesthetically pleasing fiction for submission to the Social Text and thus for self-promotion but would have no pragmatic value which is the only value that matters for social construct progress. Progress for most contemporary society observers means progress naturalized to science and thus something progresses if it not only works but works better.

 
Real progress for social construct purposes can only be made by having new experience to associate with these images thus requiring new words to describe them empirically not just aesthetically. If we travel to another planet and see for the first time something we call a “gavagai” and then notice this “gavagai” looks the same as the Duck/Rabbit, the nominal use meaning of the Duck/Rabbit would remain the same but the sense experience usefulness of it would change to Gavagai or Duck/Rabbit/Gavagai. If historical records reveal Parisian women did not dress as drawn in the above image but only women from Venice did, the sense experience usefulness meaning of the image would remain the same but its nominal use will change to Venetian Wife/Mother-in-Law. Simply changing or multiplying the words associated with these images without changing any of the sense experience or pragmatic theory associated with them does not change their perception in anyway nor the limits of my world, it just clouds it. Why the need to cloud perception? None, other than a will-to-power need to enjoy the clouds, or more likely, because the clouds enforce the power of those generating clouds.

 
Going on to the words “individual perceptions”, when dealing with the “individual” or self-identity aspect of perception, for no other reason again but that of patrician lordliness, the social construct nature of meaning, words, and language for this set of words are suddenly dogmatically assumed to represent not social constructs but a thing-in-itself that individuals experience privately then discuss by translation into social construct language. Without doubt, the existential “I am” of the existential “I am therefore I think” exists before language and exists in all possible worlds in which it exists but it does not logically follow that this “I am” once expressed in language such as by “I am” is a thing-in-itself that is not given meaning by social construction like all other words and wordgames. As with all words, it is the observer who defines the meaning of “individual”, “self-identity”, and “I am”. For any language to express meanings concerned with “producing real progress” not just generating aesthetic verbiage, it must be concerned and express the meaning of truth defined pragmatically. In such language, regardless of how it may damage our egos, the reality is that if you want to find or express yourself or give meaning to the words “individual” and “self-identity”, the only way to do it is by letting others name you and give you your identity. Though this concept is usually contemplated by the abstraction of Wittgenstein’s Private Language Argument, we can see it at work in concrete form in contemporary society with the problem of Rachel Dolezal and the refusal of post-modernism to deconstruct her problem.

 
Rachel Dolezal is the former leader of the Spokane, Washington, NAACP chapter. She is the former leader because the NAACP discovered she was white: both parents were listed as Caucasian on her Montana birth certificate and all her known ancestors had a completely Caucasian descent of Eastern European origin. However, she “identified as black” and felt constrained by the “biological identity thrust upon her”; “[s]he said she had identified as black from the age of five but had the white identity ‘thrust’ upon her until she was strong enough to embrace her true self.” She attended and graduated from Howard University, and she eventually admitted she was born “white” but considered herself “black”. Clearly, she did not consider being “black” only a sense experience issue of skin color but a social construct that dialectically contradicted or opposed her private “perception” of who she was. Applying the same post-modern social construct reasoning of deconstruction that is applied to everything else from age to sexual identity, there is no reason why she should not be able to call herself black or any social construct founded upon skin color, but it is not going to happen now nor any time in the foreseeable future. It will not happen simply because the will-to-power aspect of the social construct that is post-modernism does not want her to do it. Will-to-power will always trump reason.

 
No matter how Dolezale changes our sense experience of her and regardless of the existential purgatory in which she may in fact reside because of Despair and lack of Authenticity, she will never be perceived as Black. If she undergoes successful DNA engineering to actually make her skin the blackest of black (a technique that will no doubt be available in the near future), this will only turn any perception of her as a harmless eccentric to a racist putting on black face. She could trace her ancestry far enough back so as to find multiple slave ancestors of different race and ethnic backgrounds because we would all be able to find them in our ancestry if we wanted given the omnipresence of slavery in all history. However, such a tracing would make matters worse for her; she would then be perceived as a racist guilty of cultural misappropriation. Regardless of her individuality, her self-identity, or her life experience, she will always be perceived as White; she was born White and will die White — unless post-modernism or contemporary society allows her self-identity to be Black.

 
Abstractly, the fact that there is no private experience of which we can speak and no private language expressing it that can be translated into any social construct language is analyzed by Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Private Language Argument often exemplified by contemplation of the statement “only I know my pain”. It is existentially true that only you know the existential nature of your “I am”, but unfortunately the unpleasant self-effacing reality is that only others know your pain. “Pain” can only be given meaning by observable acts: screaming, clenched muscles or face, blood, ripped muscles, broken bones, taking aspirin, squeezing a ball or biting a bullet, a rising manometer resulting from the squeezing of an air ball; picking a number on a pain chart, and so forth. Though it is existentially true that one can give any or whatever existential meaning one wants to “pain” or any word for that matter, for this same existential reason it is also true that one cannot give any purely private meaning to “pain” or any word because there would be no way to differentiate correct or incorrect meaning — the concept of meaning would become nonsense just as in any wordgame in which contradictions are true everything is true or false however you want it; in a private language the word “meaning” becomes meaningless in anyway but aesthetically. In any imagined private language with private meanings, the concept of meaning would be nonsense because the solitary individual speaker of the private language of private experience would have no way to tell whether or not a word spoken at one time has the same meaning as that same word spoken at any other time. The same would be true of any speakers or observers of any language in which private meanings and a private language are real. Thus, it is not unfortunate but fortunate there is no such thing as a private language speaking about private sense experience, if there were, there would be no language just gibberish.

 
This leads to Wittgenstein’s famous conclusion “whereof one cannot speak thereof one must be silent”. I wish this would be an absolute truth so as to put some type of lid on post-modernism and its need to deconstruct everything by verbiage for no reason other than aesthetics and self-promotion, but fortunately for social construction purposes it is not. As even Wittgenstein described it, language is a “form of life”; it has words but by seamless necessity it also has action. We must be silent about that of which we cannot speak but we can still act with it and upon it. It is acts and the resulting struggles between different acts that give meaning to the new words we need to create to deal with the struggles. This leads me to the Ship of Theseus — also known as Theseus’s Paradox — a thought experiment exemplifying among much else the substantive difference between social constructs as they exist in reality and social deconstruction existing solely in the reality of patrician aesthetics and the associated ethics that result from each.

 
This Paradox goes back to ancient philosophers such as Heraclitus and Plato and is present in popular form in Greek legend. It goes as follows:

As a result of storms and other damage and decay, the crew made up of Theseus and the youth of Athens returning from Crete on the Ship of Theseus as it was named by its owner had to replace each plank and all other parts and pieces of the Ship of Theseus so that upon their return to Athens all of the pieces and parts of the Ship of Theseus that it had when it left Crete had been replaced. Is the Ship of Theseus that arrived in Athens still the Ship of Theseus that left Crete?

Centuries later, the philosopher Thomas Hobbes introduced further facts to this thought experiment to incite further contemplation:

The original planks and all other replaced parts and pieces were thrown overboard and floated onto a deserted island where a group of castaways reassembled everything into their original positions in the same design and built as the Ship of Theseus and sailed to Athens. Which ship, if either, is the original Ship of Theseus?

 

Sitting on the pier contemplating the Ship of Theseus gives much to contemplate and upon which to generate a library of aesthetic verbiage. No doubt such deconstruction would be valuable to the owner, the insurance company, and to the lawyers arguing over who ought to be the owners of which ship or over what ships ought to belong to whom or to anyone. The former contemplation has been going on among philosophers for a couple of millennia and no doubt will continue in the guise of post-modern deconstruction serving only to negate the philosophy of language progress made on contemplating this Paradox by repeating the same philosophical conclusions of the last two millennia but adding more and more words. The litigation will stop within a few years when the judge in the secrecy of the judicial chamber flips a coin to give the ships to one party or another and then issues a decision not mentioning the coin toss.

 
Instead of deconstruction that gives meaning to the Ship by what observers not on this Ship argue it seems to be, let us take it as it is and perceive the social construct Ship of Theseus as a “form of life” constructed by the society that is the crew — not as a construction by spectators on the pier or in the courthouse but by its crew. For the crew, regardless of which crew of which Ship, there is only one Ship of Theseus even though nominally and empirically there are two. For any given crew, it is this Ship and not that Ship that is the Ship of Theseus.

 
Foremost, the Ship is a construct of the struggles between the crew and the benign indifference and often outright antagonism of the sea and its universe to the crew’s existence. This struggle involved both mental and physical work involving everything from the complexities of mathematics and astronomy in the navigation and the art of judging wind and waves to the purely physical sweaty backbreaking work of dealing with leaks, decay, and seasickness; it involved both the panic of potential death and the mental drudgery of boredom and banal work. It involved every misery that life has to offer. In this struggle, identity of the crew was as oarsmen, boatswain mates, riggers, quartermaster, seamen, and swabs — identities all constructed by the crew or prior crews to win the struggle. We do not view our identity as a member of the crew as distinct from the identities of those who came before us in the struggle because we know our lives and identities were built on their lives; all riggers were and are riggers and so forth. If our Ship is to progress to a future Ship with a crew made up of seawomen, seapersons, oarspersons, machinists, quartermistresses, electricians, electronic technicians, or whatever new social construct identities are created to assure survival of the Ship, this future must also be constructed seamlessly upon the prior identities. At reunions, we hug and remember by ceremony those who came before us, both Honored Dead and dishonored dead; all are equal in death. We hope the best for those that follow us in life.

 
The social construct of the crew is not made up of “illusions of trust” but the actual pragmatic trust required for survival. To have deconstructed the Ship physically at sea would have meant death for all; to deconstruct the Ship by words would not mean death for the Ship but would for the crew. A crew made up of individuals speaking a private language of private identities is a crew speaking gibberish unable to create meaning for any wordgames including those required for struggle and thus is a crew that will not survive its struggle with the indifference of the universe and its sea trying to kill both. The crew’s survival depends on seamless social construction building the future on the past through the present. It is this social construction that would defeat Hume’s Power Paradox and allow the many of the plebeian crews to defeat the few patricians on the pier and in court enforcing their deconstruction upon the Ship to maintain their patrician power. As analytically described by the philosopher William James:

A social organism of any sort whatever, large or small, is what it is because each member proceeds to his own duty with a trust that the other members will simultaneously do theirs. Wherever a desired result is achieved by the cooperation of many independent persons, its existence as a fact is a pure consequence of the precursive faith in one another of those immediately concerned. A government, an army, a commercial system, a ship, a college, an athletic team, all exist on this condition, without which not only is nothing achieved, but nothing is even attempted. A whole train of passengers (individually brave enough) will be looted by a few highwaymen, simply because the latter can count on one another, while each passenger fears that if he makes a movement of resistance, he will be shot before any one else backs him up. If we believed that the whole carful would rise at once with us, we should each severally rise, and train robbing would never even be attempted. There are, then, cases where a fact cannot come at all unless a preliminary faith exists in its coming.

(Parenthetically, for the intellectually curious, though pirate ships were all eventually defeated by the monopoly on violence that is the law, it is interesting reading to note and contemplate that pirate ship crews were actually the first pragmatically successful democracies in the West. See “The Invisible Hook, The Hidden Economics of Pirates”, Peter T. Leeson (Princeton University Press, 2009) )

 
Unfortunately, the Ship is also a social construct of the struggle between our social construct crew identities and our own existential struggle to survive within these struggles as a unique “I am” of which whereof we cannot speak. This latter struggle is always forgotten in the heat of the struggle with the universe and its sea but always returns with the calm. It is this struggle existing simultaneously with the struggle against the universe that leads necessarily to social construct identities of crew members as moral, immoral, ethical, unethical, and on to master-at-arms, gunner, sniper, and weaponeer. It is also this struggle that prevents the pragmatic reality of morality and ethics from being anything more than just ruling class ideology as Hume’s Power Paradox returns to do its magic. While the crew doubts and fights among themselves to establish their own identities of which we cannot speak, there will always be the few of the Orwellian Inner and Outer Parties who by the natural order of the physical and metaphysical universe will be able to take advantage of this latter struggle to create social constructs in their image for no other reason than because they can. At which point, they are no longer James’ “highwaymen” but the ethical Dorian Gray’s of all genders that make up the Powers-that-be of the ultimate ethics with a monopoly on violence called the law. “And the party on the left, is now the party on the right … Don’t get fooled again, no, no”. (Similar to being in a fight club, a clear sign of being in either Party is denying either Party exists.)

 
For those of us not in either Party and thus denied its social construct power of deconstruction to achieve power, how do we maintain, construct, and progress further the material progress that has created our Technological Society without getting fooled again into losing what little power we do have? For “producing real progress”, this is the question with which we must be enchanted and that we need to answer by social construction not by deconstruction.

 
One thing is for certain. The poser existentialists who out of fear of nihilism and motivated by a will to power, who need to be gods, and who have converted existentialism into a patrician parlor game deconstructing words by multiplying them into gibberish as if they were deconstructing reality to create a new reality are not the answer. Plebeians have made history and whatever historical progress there is in history has happened not by verbiage but by social construct pragmatic action in struggle. In the struggle they were unified not in an individual perception of reality but in a social construct perception of reality. All history is class struggle. Take out the class and the class struggle and history is over:

In that everyone wants equally much to be recognized by everyone, the fight for life will cease only with the recognition of all by all, which will mark the termination of history. The existence that Hegelian consciousness seeks to obtain is born in the hard-won glory of collective approval.
― Albert Camus

Post-modernism as patrician distortion of existentialism has already taken or is seeking to take away and destroy all options for plebeian unity based on family, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, community, neighborhood, and everything else that historically gave plebeians unity in their struggles with patricians. If it succeeds in deconstructing the struggle, there will be no progress because there will be no history. Deconstruction seeks to make plebeians into unisex, classless, homogeneous, culturally stagnant, one color, paper-cutouts of each other living solitary lives of temporary wage slavery jobs except for the handouts they get from Big Brother and perhaps for the companionship of a dog or cat. In return it does not even grant us the passionate hate and anger of a Meursault opening his heart to the benign indifference of the universe and wishing to share his passion with the crowd viewing his execution because they will all soon join him in death. No, rather, in return deconstruction gives us only the loving surrender of a Winston to the timeliness of power as an end itself accepted with a tear in one’s eye as one bullet enters the head for a peaceful, lonely, and passionless death.

 
There must be social construction not deconstruction to maintain both the struggle against the universe and the struggle that is history and progress in history. How to maintain both in a contemporary society whose patricians have lost sight of reality to live in the illusion of aesthetics so as to use their will to power to create a ruling class morality and ethics that seeks to deconstruct and thus destroy both the struggle and history is the open question. I do not have an answer at present but I am leaning toward nihilism.

 

REMINISCING ON YANIA V. BIGAN, MORT THE TORT, AND CLASS IDENTITY AT HARVARD LAW SCHOOL

After 25 years of practicing law in the trenches, I have the fortune or misfortune of having the free time to look back and try to make sense of those years and of my random and arbitrary graduation from a school that I had no business ever attending: Harvard Law in 1988. As the first in my family to speak English, be literate, graduate from grammar school, high school, and then college after six years in the military, acceptance to Harvard Law School seemed at the time to be some type of gift from the Fates. What a fool I was, still am. In this essay, I look back to one of only approximately two events I remember of my IL year consisting of when I was first called upon in class to do an analysis of a case. The case was Yania v. Bigan, 397 Pa. 318, 155 A.2d 343 (1959) in the Torts class of Professor Morton Horwitz known to us at the time as Mort the Tort. I had the pleasure of recently visiting Professor Horwitz, who is retired, at his office in Langdell to discuss the event as I remember it and to get his take on it. I remember it because it was my first step to the realization that if Harvard, the Ivy League, and the Powers-that-be actually want progress in the law they have got to stop pretending they want diversity, and furthermore that the presently called “disenfranchised” from the law have to stop wanting to be enfranchised. Neither of these pretend desires are going to happen nor should they, the soul of the law is not the law but its outcastes including the lawless. As the working class hero Albert Camus said, “The slave begins by demanding justice and ends by wanting to wear a crown.” To stop the cycle, one must not only eliminate slavery but also the demand for justice; as any experienced trial attorney will tell you, “there is no justice, in or out of court” (Clarence Darrow). Let religion be the opium for the people if they want and if there is to be any; the law is not about justice, it is about maintaining law and order — to delude ourselves into believing otherwise is to surrender one’s freedom to the monopoly on violence that is law.

 
During my first year, first semester at HLS there was a required Torts class taught by a professor Morton Horwitz whom we called Mort “the Tort” Horwitz. He was and probably still is a part of the Critical Legal Studies philosophical movement in law schools that maintains in substance that the logic and structure attributed to the law is a social construct of the power relationships of the society; that judges act as legislators; and that the law is more often than not what a judge says the law is on any given day. Having come to law school with a philosophy degree from the University of Illinois with a concentration in the philosophy of language, this view did not strike me as very radical but at the time it was considered radical at Harvard and at law schools in general. Practicing law confirmed this existential view of the law to be a foundation assumption among trial attorneys, so much so that it is not even discussed in the same way sailors at sea have no need to discuss being surrounded by water. About the only ones who contest or hide this assumption are non-trial and inexperienced attorneys, law professors, judges, legislators, and politicians who have either deluded themselves into believing otherwise or who fraudulently maintain the appearance of believing otherwise. At the time, he and a bunch of other professors were into cross-teaching the various mandatory first year subjects of contract, torts, criminal law, and civil procedure. We were supposed to learn how everything was related not just treat them as separate subjects. Early in the semester when, unlike second semester, I was still going to class and reading casebooks, one assigned case by Professor Horwitz to read and analyze was Yania v. Bigan, a case written by the Pennsylvania Supremes with facts as follows:

On September 25, 1957, John E. Bigan was engaged in a coal strip-mining operation in Shade Township, Somerset County. On the property being stripped were large cuts or trenches created by Bigan when he removed the earthen overburden for the purpose of removing the coal underneath. One cut contained water eight to ten feet in depth with side walls or embankments 16 to 18 feet in height; at this cut Bigan had installed a pump to remove the water.

At approximately 4 PM on that date, Joseph F. Yania, the operator of another coal strip-mining operation, and one Boyd M. Ross went upon Bigan’s property for the purpose of discussing a business matter with Bigan, and, while there, were asked by Bigan to aid him in starting the pump. Ross and Bigan entered the cut and stood at the point where the pump was located. Yania stood at the top of one of the cut’s side walls and then jumped from the side wall–a height of 16 to 18 feet–into the water and was drowned.

Yania’s widow, in her own right and on behalf of her three children, instituted wrongful death and survival actions against Bigan contending Bigan was responsible for Yania’s death. Preliminary objections, in the nature of demurrers, to the complaint were filed on behalf of Bigan. The court below sustained the preliminary objections; from the entry of that order this appeal was taken.

 

The attorney for the widow argued the Defendant Bigan had a duty to rescue Yania because it was his land and it had a dangerous condition. The Defendants argued Yania made his choice and Bigan had no duty to rescue someone from their own mistakes. The court agreed with the latter. What the last paragraph means is that the case was dismissed outright without ever going to a jury trial — something that happens very often in modern times; much too often in violation of any pragmatic sense of justice based either on the Constitutional right to a jury trial or on any democratic sense of justice but I digress. (Despite popular opinion to the contrary, Americans were much more litigious and they got and there were many more trials by a multiple factor in the 19th Century and early 20th Century than they get now).

 
Next day, Mork started going around the room asking for an analysis of this case. Even back then, there were plenty of available summaries of the case in commercial and student printed handouts. On the internet now, there are hundreds. They all deal with what is supposedly the substance of the case: the extent and nature of a legal duty of care; a duty to rescue; and the slippery slope of creating too many duties that become tyranny over private lives. After 2 – 3 students that he called upon gave the usual formulaic speeches about these issues, apparently, Professor Horwitz did not get what he wanted and kept going around the class. He then called my name. I made the typical working class mistake of being honest and forthright — never a good idea in law nor in the upper class of any society. I told him essentially as follows that is the same conclusion I make now of the above facts:

It does not take three people to prime a pump. There is no need to go above a pump to prime it or work on it — especially not 16 – 18 feet above it. If there is a problem with the suction, you pump the suction hose out of the water and clear it. There was no reason for someone to jump into eight to ten feet of water from 16 to 18 feet especially someone who apparently could not swim. Or, even if they could, no way to climb out. Given that these were hard men struggling in a hard business involved in some type of business dispute, there is a good chance this was a set-up. Thanks to the law and Bigan and Ross being smart enough to use it, they probably got away with murder.

I also said this humorously with a small laugh as if it were funny. It is an unfortunate characteristic of the working and other lower classes that they will laugh at almost anything — beats crying. My years in the military did not improve on my classless sense of humor.

 
Silence in the room. Professor Horowitz however apparently finally got what he wanted, looked at me for a few moments, then in silence, went to his book and onto the next case. There are libraries of material analyzing the issues presented by the other students. You will not find my comments anywhere, then or now as far as I can discover. I did not see the other problems discussed by the other students; not because I am a working class idiot as would be the usual assumption for not thinking with upper class Doublethink, but because I know there are no solutions. Any solution would create not only a multiple of known problems but, since we cannot test any solution, there would be a butterfly effect of a possible infinite number of unknown problems. How would I have decided the Yania case, if anyone had asked which they didn’t? I would solve it in the way many Western courts since the Romans have decided it: let the community decide; let it go to the jury and let them decide. There was obviously a problem in the facts both individually and socially; a man died when he could have been saved. Let his peers and the peers of the Plaintiffs and Defendants listen to the facts and have them decide a solution for the community. Is that not what democracy and a jury system are all about? Having lived a life of chaos, anarchy, and lack of control and the risk associated with such a life, I saw no problem with risking further chaos and anarchy. I saw no reason to waste time and resources on Doublethink about an infinite number of possible solutions none of which could ever be proven to be the best or even a good solution just so that a solitary Outer Party judge can then at some point randomly pick one so as to use the monopoly on violence of the law and its Doublethink to force that solution upon others — to force them to agree by imprisonment if need be.

 
I lost nights of sleep agonizing over my answer. Could not understand how I could have been so clueless and proven myself as clueless before an entire class. What I did not understand at the time and that took me years to understand is that the last thing any upper class lawyer, judge, or lawgiver wants to give up is the power to make a world in their image or at least the power to maintain the world in their image. Despite its pretensions to the opposite, the last thing it wants is freedom. Having a natural instinctive ability to manage and enforce a monopoly on normative power is the defining characteristic of a patrician class and thus of its law.

 
With time I now have on my hands, I emailed Professor Horowitz recently and made an appointment to see him to discuss the Yania case and my memory of these events. He graciously gave me an appointment and I went. To my surprise, he agreed with my analysis and told me that is why he often did not bring up the case in Torts because it was more of a criminal law issue. Though after twenty-five years of trial work, I had long ago gained the confidence to know my analysis was right despite no one telling me so, it was good to hear that I was not totally clueless as a 1L. We both agreed that I should have seen him in his office hours to discuss the events and taken care of any doubts I had about my being at Harvard 30 years ago, but he was also well aware enough of the reality of Harvard Law to know that usually the disenfranchised are the last to use such an option, if they use it at all,  because we usually feel we “are not deserving of it”. An accurate description of my attitude half of the time at Harvard; the other half was spent thinking how much better I was than it and its spoiled patricians — thus I only made matters worse. I was never able to get the natural instinctive ability to manage and enforce a monopoly on normative power because it is a natural instinctive ability that I was long pass the age of catching from my parents, social group, or whatever it is in life that the Fates use to grant this gift. I eventually graduated Harvard Law with a C+ average despite never going to class for most of my last two years and cycling between these two attitudes so much that I probably could have been diagnosed with paranoia or some similar mental problem in addition to severe depression. If not for Hemenway Gym and its pick-up basketball games, I would have gone nuts or been suicidal long before graduation.

 
Despite the misery of lacking the gift of power over my life and that of others, ultimately I am glad I never have gotten it. I spend 25 years in trial work; I was involved in about 1000 cases involving both criminal and civil work; and handled a little more than 100 cases to a trial verdict. I have tried or handled everything from age discrimination cases to lender liability to rape criminal defenses and onto undertaker liability cases. I took millions of dollars from insurance companies and other Powers-that-be and gave it to my clients and usually 1/3 to myself. All of this means nothing. To the Powers I am still a dumb working class kid from the far west side of Chicago with no credibility and who obviously cannot be trusted. Doubt if most people I meet even believe I graduated from Harvard Law when the issue of my Harvard degree comes up in conversation.

 
These facts used to bother me, but I have finally realized they are right: they should not trust me nor have confidence in me. I am their worse enemy. Taking me or anyone from a working class background that is smarter than they are and giving them the credibility and the power to actually do something in life would be the greatest danger to class structure there could be because we would actually change the structure of society. The Fates gave me HLS just to teach me this lesson the hard way. As George Orwell wrote in 1984:

As compared with their opposite numbers in past ages, the new aristocracy is less avaricious, less tempted by luxury, hungrier for pure power, and, above all, more conscious of what they were doing and more intent on crushing opposition. This last difference was cardinal. By comparison with that existing today, all the tyrannies of the past were half-hearted and inefficient. The ruling groups were always infected to some extent by liberal ideas, and were content to leave loose ends everywhere, to regard only the overt act, and to be uninterested in what their subjects were thinking.
..
In principle, membership [in the Party] is not hereditary. The child of Inner Party parents is in theory not born into the Inner Party. … . Nor is there any racial discrimination, or any marked domination of one province by another. Jews, Negroes, South Americans of pure Indian blood are to be found in the highest ranks of the Party, and the administrators of any area are always drawn from the inhabitants of that area. … Its rulers are not held together by blood-ties but by adherence to a common doctrine. It is true that our society is stratified, and very rigidly stratified, on what at first sight appear to be hereditary lines. There is far less to-and-fro movement between the different groups than happened under capitalism or even in the pre-industrial age. Between the two branches of the Party there is a certain amount of interchange, but only so much as will ensure that weaklings are excluded from the Inner Party and that ambitious members of the Outer Party are made harmless by allowing them to rise. Proletarians, in practice, are not allowed to graduate into the Party. The most gifted among them, who might possibly become nuclei of discontent, are simply marked down by the Thought Police and eliminated. But this state of affairs is not necessarily permanent, nor is it a matter of principle. The Party is not a class in the old sense of the word. It does not aim at transmitting power to its own children, as such; and if there were no other way of keeping the ablest people at the top, it would be perfectly prepared to recruit an entire new generation from the ranks of the proletariat. In the crucial years, the fact that the Party was not a hereditary body did a great deal to neutralize opposition. The older kind of Socialist, who had been trained to fight against something called ‘class privilege’ assumed that what is not hereditary cannot be permanent. He did not see that the continuity of an oligarchy need not be physical, nor did he pause to reflect that hereditary aristocracies have always been short-lived, whereas adoptive organizations such as the Catholic Church have sometimes lasted for hundreds or thousands of years. The essence of oligarchical rule is not father-to-son inheritance, but the persistence of a certain world-view and a certain way of life, imposed by the dead upon the living. A ruling group is a ruling group so long as it can nominate its successors. The Party is not concerned with perpetuating its blood but with perpetuating itself. Who wields power is not important, provided that the hierarchical structure remains always the same.

 

It is fine to take my classmate Michelle Obama and make her a corporate attorney; to take a Barack Obama or a Hillary Clinton and make them President and Secretary of State or whatever and give them the power to actually make a difference because the Powers know that they will not really make a difference nor do anything to substantively change either the Inner or Outer Party — they will never change the Powers or their power because they are the Powers. It is fine to allow a J.D. Vance to attend Yale and write a book on hillbillies in which he makes them sound like the idiots rich people think they are so that he can become a rich man’s poor friend because in the end they know he is not a threat to them. Just as appointing anyone of them to a judgeship will not really change anything. In the end, the same people and social groups that pulled the strings before them will pull the strings after them. Sure they will talk about sex, patricians love to talk about sex. It is also fine for them to talk about race as long as the rich white people who happen to be black such as the Obamas do not make any real trouble which they never will and as long as white and black poor people keep fighting among themselves through the racism generated by the rich white folks and their black friends as a means of control. It is also great to talk about gender equality as long as it keeps the poor of any gender poor — especially their mothers.  It is great for J.D. Vance to talk about the poor as long as he serves the rich to keep them poor. In the end the party on the left will always become the party on the right once in power. The law has never been on the right side of history; it never will be. The law has never helped the oppressed; it creates them. The law is not a gunman with a gun to your head but a mob of gunmen with a gun to your head.

 

Plebeians have made history and achieved whatever justice they could in life not through the law but despite of it. The law even in its patrician distortion of existentialism it calls post -modernism, structuralism, critical legal studies, critical race studies, or whatever it aesthetically creates to hide what goes on in the trenches has already taken or is seeking to take away and destroy all options for plebeian and working class unity based on family, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, community, neighborhood, and everything else that historically gave plebeians unity in their struggles with patricians and their law — it is their law and always will be regardless of how they try to hide it. The law seeks to make all of us into unisex, homogeneous, culturally stagnant, one color, paper-cutouts of each other living solitary lives of temporary wage slavery jobs except for the handouts we get from Big Brother and perhaps for the companionship of a dog or cat. In return it does not even grant us the passionate hate and anger of a Meursault opening his heart to the benign indifference of the universe. No, rather, in return the law gives us only the loving surrender of a Winston to the timeliness of the power of law as an end itself accepted until we have a peaceful, lonely, and passionless death.

 

Hope for any happiness and justice in this life without selling one’s soul to power, even momentary, for the working class is outside of the law not in it. To any student presently at HLS from a working or lower class background: get a joint degree with the business school, transfer to an engineering school, get a science degree, or do something to make connections and to get an education other than law unless you are willing always to be a rich person’s house servant. The latter is not a bad life as the likes of a J.D. Vance, Deval Patrick, the Clintons, and the Obamas establish.  However, if you are willing to do that, do it wholeheartedly as they did: sell your heart and soul to the upper class and do not hold back. If there is a hidden desire to save your soul by infiltrating them and then revealing the workings of power, you will not make it. Bigan got away with murder without the law noticing because he wholeheartedly gave his intelligence and attention to beating the law and was lucky. Such victories for plebeians are few and far between and are getting fewer and rarer as Technological Society gives law even more power and reduces our luck. The only hope for plebeians now is the only hope we have always had before law started to cloud our judgment: ourselves organized into families, unions, clubs, crafts, even mafias, or any other association that gave us power to act in unison outside the law so that it must notice and appease us to stay in power.

 

EXISTENTIAL PHILOSOPHY OF LAW

A full copy of this essay is available at Academia and at SSRN.

A slave begins by demanding justice and ends by wanting to wear a crown. He must dominate in his turn. — Albert Camus, The Rebel

This essay is a continuation of my closing thoughts in Why Tolerate Law available on the attached Blogroll. Blind loyalty to patrician Hegelian reason and state worship in the form of law as meaning in life is different in degree but not in substance to the theocratic state worship of the East and is a surrender to cowardice not an existential leap from it.

This is a contemplation of the meaning of the universal “law” in its modern sense of nonscientific law: in the universe of language discourse that results in decisions of legality and illegality. There seems to be more to the meaning of “law” than simply a set of rules. For one, calling something a rule instead of a law requires knowing the difference between rules and laws. Second, unlike most sets of rules such as games, one can leave the game to make other games. This option does not exist with law; if one leaves the law or legality, one is either in lawlessness or illegal. I will further contemplate whether this universal can be naturalized to scientific law and seek to determine whether such meaning and naturalization are or can be an existential philosophy of law. This contemplation will require contemplating the attributes of existentialism as they exist in plebeian lives that includes nihilism and not solely from the more popular academic patrician existentialism that excludes nihilism. I do not want this contemplation and any existential philosophy of law to be just another academic -ism, it was have pragmatic value for the plebeian portion of the class struggle that is history.

Existentially, life will always be meaningless and whatever social meaning it has will be forced upon the many by a few. For those few with the power to make their meaning in life the meaning of the group’s life, existentialism gives their will to power freedom to act and makes their struggle existential and aesthetically beautiful. However, for the many upon whom the few force their meaning, existentialism not only fails to give their will to power this same freedom but instead binds it and leaves their struggle to be existential and ugly. Patricians have the luxury to pine for meaning through their aesthetics and then violently either through law or directly to force that meaning on the remainder of humanity, but the plebeian existential absurd hero must not only fight and survive the absurdity of the universe but also this patrician will to power that forces the meaning of their lives upon the universe and all outside their class. For all known history and at present, both struggles eventually involve use of violence, but at least for the moment, the violence aspect is hidden in the behavior modifying techniques of Technological Society. As the plebeian existential absurd hero Don “Wardaddy” Collierand through Brad Pitt ad-libbed: “ideals are peaceful, history is violent”. Empirically, given that class struggle is an unavoidable inherent attribute of all social constructs, plebeians must ask whether it is better to suffer an existential struggle with the universe while governed by the few while living in material poverty in pre-Technological Society or while living comfortably in Technological Society with free time for contemplation of philosophy.

If an existential leap to morality is made, eventually that morality will run into the status of law as an unopposed normative power in the West as the present reality that must be confronted and then accepted or opposed as a good or an evil.

I do not intend to promote or criticize any particular social construct of Technological Society, either political (so-called conservative or liberal versions) nor any of the countless academic myopic constructs pretending to be history varying from feminism to classism to libertarian to post-structuralism to race studies and so forth nor its economic constructs such as capitalism, socialism, and so forth. My contemplation is only to describe the social construct called law that is a universal in all social constructs as a final arbiter of their normative statements. From the plebeian perspective, criticism would be stupid. Modern plebes irrespective of their status as wage slaves or not, of all sexes, kinds, and lives in Western Technological Society, live the finest material and least violent lives in known history. Money may not buy happiness but it buys everything else. At the same time, however, it would be stupid to promote Technological Society because it still maintains the same class distinctions and unequal will to power that all social constructs throughout known history have maintained. Patricians will promote it on their own without our help — despite their pretending to despise it. However, patricians despite complaints to the contrary, will promote it as static condition to remain forever as the ultimate social construct meaning for life in the same way they promoted chattel slavery, feudalism, bullionism, mercantilism, and all the other -ism’s that came before capitalism and socialism and any other social constructs they presently promote. If there is a next progression for Technological Society, it must come through plebeian existential struggles with patricians and not from any patrician existential struggle among themselves. Regardless of whining about despair, patricians are just fine as they are, were, and will be.

COSMIC JUSTICE AND THE LAW

The economist Thomas Sowell is a true working class hero. He was born in the Jim Crow South in 1930 with his father dying shortly thereafter leaving his mother, a housemaid, with five children to raise. As a child, his encounters with white people were so limited he did not know blond was a hair color. He and his extended family eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina then to Harlem, New York City. After serving in various manual labor and other odd jobs, he was drafted into the military in 1951 during the Korean War and was assigned to the Marine Corps. After his honorable discharge, he went on to use his G.I. Bill and subsequent educational opportunities to attend Howard University, Harvard University, Columbia University, and the University of Chicago to get his Ph.D. in economics. He is now at Stanford University.

 

In many of his essays and subsequent books, he argues against the concept of cosmic justice that is required talk throughout the American upper class, its law, and its intelligentsia — its social justice warriors — to hide its will to power. He defines cosmic justice in relation to traditional concepts of justice as follows:

For those with this view, “genuine equality of opportunity” cannot be achieved by the application of the same rules and standards to all, but requires specific interventions to equalize either prospects or results. As Rawls puts it, “undeserved inequalities call for redress.” A fight in which both boxers observe the Marquis of Queensberry rules would be a fair fight, according to traditional standards of fairness, irrespective of whether the contestants were of equal skill, strength, experience or other factors likely to affect the outcome– and irrespective of whether that outcome was a hard-fought draw or a completely one-sided beating. This would not, however, be a fair fight within the framework of those seeking “social justice,” if the competing fighters came into the ring with very different prospects of success — especially if these differences were due to factors beyond their control.  “The Quest for Cosmic Justice” by Thomas Sowell

I have spent most of my life disagreeing with him, but I must now admit at least partial error in my disagreement. Gradually, as I have gotten older and fortunately or unfortunately my idealism has been diluted by pragmatic reality, I have learned to agree with him but only to the extent of rejecting cosmic justice in the rule of law but not as a normative goal through social and cultural goals that existentially may never be achieved. The existentialist absurd individual who has made a leap into morality as an individual dealing with other individuals in daily life must continue to struggle for cosmic justice as an end in itself with its own independent meaning. As I have argued before in this series of essays, social economic classes are a necessary part of human social group struggle against the universe. We need to admit their existence in order to minimize their unfairness and for society to prosper even though existentially I will always protest their existence in reality.

 

One objection to Sovell’s arguments is that even traditional concepts of fairness such as those exhibited by the rules of sports incorporate pragmatic means outside the rules to make them fair. For example, in boxing there are weight classes. It would not be considered a “fair fight” for a 135 lb. lightweight to be matched up against a 235 lb. heavyweight. These types of class distinctions are made in all rules of sports varying from baseball with its various levels of amateur and pro playing to golf with its handicaps and onto Formula and Moto racing with classes based on engine size. Mr. Sowell seems to admit to the validity of this objection in some of his other writings and implies the need for a social equivalent to sports classes. For example, in his criticism of affirmative action, he argues it disadvantages the lower classes because they cannot compete on the same level as upper class college students and thus drop-up at higher rates; he argues they would be better off attending a college with others of their class thus allowing them to graduate and work up to upper class education. “”Affirmative Action Around the World” by Thomas Sowell.

 

Furthermore, as a young man, I objected to his argument because I took on as a moral code the classic so-called Warrior Ethos: “I will never leave a fallen comrade.” Why should I leave any fellow workers behind in my battle for victory over the powers-that-be, especially if I win the battle or the war? Is that not also the Christian Ethos: “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves”? Romans 15.

 

My first step to agreeing at least partially with him was my military service and reading of military history. Turns out warriors leave their comrades behind all the time. The trials for cowardice of the Battle of Arginusae generals for leaving stranded drowning sailors behind and the Marines dragging their frozen dead with them as they retreated from the Battle of Chosin Reservoir were a rarity in military history including Marine Corps history and for all military units in world history, on land and on sea. During hasty retreats, leaving behind the wounded, the dead, and the equipment while running like hell was much more common.

 

Next, I was changed by my years spent in the American system of injustice. In it, though one might occasionally win a battle against the powers-that-be, in the end, one always lose the war. The law is full of talk of diversity, victims, and social justice but the end result is the same as in all systems of injustice throughout history: maintain the power of the status quo. The reality of cosmic justice at work in the law is twofold: 1) changing from time to time whom it advantages and disadvantages so as to keep competing social groups including the male and female sexes in constant conflict; 2) transforming being a victim of injustice, including its own, into a culture of victimization that gives meaning to victims’ lives and to those who want power over them so they do not become motivated to force real change in life. In fact, many cosmic justice warriors and their camp followers are more happy in their culture of victimization and poverty than I have ever been or will be in fighting to avoid it; so much so that they are willing to promote and procreate their myth onto messing up the lives of posterity.

 

One clear example of this process at work is American Indian culture — a fabricated culture that does not really even exist. If there is any meaning to the words “American Indian” other than to give upper class Americans and their intelligentsia something to pity, it would be only to reference a particular trial culture, i.e., Cherokee, Navajo, and so forth. However, these tribal cultures died out long ago with the best and brightest individuals of those cultures long ago having mixed into American culture as all other immigrant groups of the past have done and as occurred throughout history between conquerors and those conquered. What remains of those dead tribal cultures consist of a bunch of modern day Americans pretending to be tribes as a source of meaning in their lives and as a means to get government assistance. American Indians are the most impoverished social group in the country and statistically lead in single parent households, mental illness, child abuse, crime, drug problems, and education dropouts with a resulting lead in juvenile crime. Yet, their so-called leaders with their will-to-power need to protect their fiefdoms of power on government provided reservations continue and foster the farce of American Indian culture. At any level of power, those in power, including the big fish in the small pond of American Indian reservations, will convert any intentions — either good or bad — into a means of power as an end in itself, even intentions of cosmic justice. No good deed will go unpunished by the powers-that-be if they can use it as a means of maintaining their power or of obtaining more power.

 

A future example of this culture of victimization will be the black Americans left behind by their upper class brothers and sisters using new school racism as a means to get and stay upper class. Please see my previous essays on New School Racism. As I predicted in those essays and in greater detail in “Between the World and Us” (that is already coming to life by the demands of black Harvard University students for a separate graduation ceremony for black graduates), the solution for racism by Ta-Nehisi Coates and other black members and friends of the upper class is: establish a separate but equal education system for “black bodies”, letting black men commit self-genocide by continuing to kill each other, letting black women raise families by themselves, and creating black ghettos with the help of a new 21st Century slave master: government. Thus, thanks to cosmic justice warriors, we have come full circle: the solution to racism will be racism.

 

For any working social construct concept of fairness to be useful to humanity’s struggle with the universe to survive, as with fairness in rules of athletics and other sports, it must accept the presence of social economic class struggle as a present and future necessity. This presence is not a basis to create laws giving preference or preventing discrimination among class as occurs with all preferences present in civil rights laws serving only to hide class conflict while aggravating it. The acceptance of the necessity to have class conflict is necessary as a basis to eliminate and negate such law in order to allow classes to work and struggle within themselves for individual success and to compete with each other for overall social success. Civil rights laws result from the arrogance of the Orwellian High who view workers as hopeless idiots doomed to a life of misery, drug addiction, violence, and meaningless deaths without their aid and control. Billions of Orwellian Middle and Low throughout history have loved and been loved and have struggled and triumphed in every day struggles for life, property, and liberty. These struggles have created modern Technological Society. As basic fairness, this Society must allow us the freedom to continue our struggles among ourselves to control the present and future of the Technological Society our struggles have created.

 

A cosmic justice concept demanding illusionary equality for all enforced by the law’s monopoly on violence at the expense of equity for all through social and cultural pragmatism helps only the powers-that-be. The first stumbling block for application into Technological Society of Sovell’s “genuine equality of opportunity” with social economic class acceptance will be the law. How can we bring this pragmatic concept of fairness to life in the present delusional reality of the American system of injustice in which law negates and then demands a monopoly of violence for its power of negation of all social and cultural norms other than its cosmic vision of justice?