Sunday, January 24, 2010

The nature of Man

This is my first entry here in a few months. It’s been pretty crazy. On 2 Jan., my eldest daughter – that is, my wife’s eldest daughter – Sara, was married. The 6 weeks preceding that were not exactly life in the fast lane. They were more like playing on the freeway. Sara did well, though; I think Brennan will be a good and loving husband.

Tonight, though, I’m in a foul, black mood. Just right for a little philosophy.

Philosophy is the most crucial subject to Mankind. It answers the question, “How should I live.” Not much is more elemental or crucial than that. That’s why the intellectuals have worked so hard at making philosophy sound stupid, abstract, inaccessible, and utterly irrelevant. It has been the goal of the academic class for more than 100 years to drive the rest of us under the dirt.

Philosophy is not stupid, abstract, inaccessible, or utterly irrelevant. It’s pretty simple, really. How should we live? Well, what kind of creatures are we? I’m going to answer that from two perspectives, and one or both of them will piss off just about everybody. Tough.

First perspective: Man was created by a just and loving God. He was created with a rational mind, capable of sensing his surroundings, analyzing the information from his senses, and making decisions based on that information. God allowed evil to exist in Man’s world so that Man would have something to choose. There must be opposition in all things, else how should we know one thing from another? Without sickness, how would we know health? Or happiness without sadness? Or love without hate? Or good without evil? Or liberty without Pelosi?

The existence of evil does not repudiate the existence of God; it validates His genius and His love for us, his children. He didn’t have to allow evil to exist. His own life would be cleaner and simpler without it, but without it, His children could never know the difference between good and evil, and could therefore never rise to the heights of exaltation by choosing the right. We could never become more than mindless puppets, which is precisely what Satan would have made us. His plan for us was that we would not have choice; he’d give us the answers and we’d take ‘em.

The purest essence of Man is his rational faculty. It is this that makes him different from other animals. Rationality must be free and unfettered in order to work. That is, we must have free access to our surroundings in order to know what our choices are. We must have the freedom to decide the best course of action – or what seems to us the best course of action – and learn from our mistakes. (There’s that opposition, again; we can’t learn from our mistakes unless there exist both failure and success.) The intellectual freedom to see, think, and decide is all fine and dandy, but without the freedom to actually act on our decisions, it’s not worth boiled piss. (Or as my cousin, Cactus Jack Garner, said of the vice presidency of the US: “This job isn’t worth a cup of warm spit.”)

If you interfere with Man’s rationality at any point, from sensory perception to concept formation to value judgment to decision to action, you have interfered with his essential humanity. You have forced him to live as some creature other than Man. If you made a horse live in a tree, you’d be forcing him to live as a squirrel. He wouldn’t be too happy or successful that way.

Traditionally, we have been given a choice of two forms of dehumanization – a false dichotomy. One side, commonly but erroneously identified as conservatives, wants to control us intellectually. Good ol’ Pat Robertson is an example of this kind of idiot. He once said on his television show that the spate of bad weather and geological disasters we were suffering at the time was the Earth trying to vomit the evil of Mankind off its surface, and the only way we could save ourselves was to destroy all atheists, homosexuals, and communists. And when he said “destroy,” he wasn’t talking about character assassination. This is intellectual despotism. Destroy anyone who doesn’t think like we do.

The other side of that false dichotomy is commonly but erroneously identified as liberals. These idiots want physical controls, often manifested primarily as economic controls. Pelosi and Reid don’t give a rip what we think, they just want our money. They want to control every aspect of our lives – where we live, what we eat, what we wear, who we marry, how many kids we have…. You name it, they have a program for it.

Ayn Rand called this the dichotomy of Attila and the Witch Doctor. Yes, a Mormon can quote Rand without his computer being struck by lightning. Rand said – and I’ll have to paraphrase here – that one is concerned with man’s belly, the other with his soul, but they are united in hatred of his mind. Man needs both the rational use of his mind and the physical use of his body to carry out the decisions of that mind. Rand said, “A mind without a body is a ghost, and a body without a mind is a corpse. Both are symbols of death.” Death, indeed, is what we serve when we fall for the premise that we must choose between two forms of slavery.

The Witch Doctor was her term for all religious people because, in spite of her overwhelming genius, she had fallen prey to this false dichotomy, herself. She looked at the ideas of people like Robertson and mistook them for the Gospel. However, in most respects, she was right, because there are a heck of a lot of Bible-thumping tyrants out there, just a’foamin’ at the mouth to get inside our heads and control us from within. I believe the proper phrase is, “…inwardly they are ravening wolves.”

Attila the Hun was her term for the Progressives and Liberals, who don’t give a rip about what we’re thinking or about right and wrong. They want control. They want to have a monopoly on force, which is why they are so rabid in their hatred of our being armed. There are people of this stripe in both major parties today, and on both ends of the political spectrum. There are even people called Muslims, who have come up with some preposterous mixture of Attila and the Witch Doctor. They want to control us intellectually by blowing us to hell.

There are two ways of depriving Man of the use of the engine of his mind: by running sewage through the fuel lines, or by jacking up the body so the drive wheels can’t get traction, no matter how furiously they spin.

So the first answer to the question, “How should I live,” is this: you ought to live free because that’s the way your God intended you to live.

Okay. Now that I’ve infuriated my atheist friends, let’s look at the question from the humanist, or Darwinist side. (Talk about a guy who has taken it in the shorts from history! Poor ol’ Charlie has been twisted into more knots than an Imam’s drawers in a Victoria’s Secret store!)

In the beginning, there wasn’t the word; there was just an animal that became Man. Now I don’t know if he was once a monkey, or whatever, and it doesn’t matter at this point. We are going to assume that Man was not made by God, but by himself, in response to his surroundings, and then he made God in his own image. I think that’s the way the old chestnut goes.

Man was an animal that lived in his own body, not like a sponge or bacterium. He was independent of his fellows, walking around, doing his own thing. His actions were controlled by his nervous system, which included sense organs that told him what he was seeing, smelling, feeling, hearing, and tasting. As he grew and learned, he gradually started to use sounds to stand for the things around him. As his knack for gab developed, so did his ability to deal with the world on a conceptual level. Each man organized his ideas according to what worked for him. One fellow might have put a table into the “flat things” class. His friend, from a posh, east-side cave, might have put a table into class of “things that go at the end of the sofa.”

Man learned to differentiate the differences between things and to integrate the similarities. Everything that exists must exist as something – it must have an identity that makes it distinguishable from everything else. Identity is synonymous to existence. Man’s means of doing these truly astonishing things was by the free exercise of his rational mind. (It is interesting to me that the atheists and humanists who posit that no loving God could allow evil to exist in the world never hesitate to posit with equal fervor the indispensable fact that in nature, there are differences, or opposites, and that Man learned the value of good by experiencing evil. It would seem that what is preposterous to God is perfectly reasonable for Nature.)

I’m sure that before there was a whole lot of theorizing, there was a lot of experimentation, but whatever the exact developmental flow, it happened, and it happened because there were no political parties to mess with Man’s mind or his use of it. If a neighbor tried to interfere with the process, he’d get a fractured skull, and that was the end of that crap.

Man became the animal that was capable of and lived by rationality. He wasn’t as strong or as fast as a saber-toothed cat, but he was a cagey sucker. He could make spears and deadfalls and punji pits that gave ol’ Tom fits and leveled the playing field. It was by his mind, not by his brute strength that Man survived. Note that having an idea for a spear won’t get you squat in this kind of situation. You must also have a stick, and the freedom of movement to go get it, sharpen it, and harden it in the fire. Undoubtedly, your neighbor, Oog Robertson, howled about the idea to make a spear being witchcraft, and your other neighbor, Mog Pelosi, wailed about the rights of the tiger. You said, “Screw you both,” and flaunted your new tiger skin coat that only had 42 spear holes in it.

One thing led to another, and we arrive at a character called Bill Gates. In order to live as a human being, Bill must have the intellectual freedom to think for himself, and the physical freedom to act on his thoughts. He’s no different in this respect than his ancestor with the perforated coat, except his spear would be called a “lawyer,” and his coat wouldn’t have holes in it.

So in the end, both models bring us to the same conclusion: that Man must be free to live as man. Whether he was created by God or shaped by his surroundings, the conclusion is the same: he must be free. Anything that prevents him from living as a man is essentially a form of murder. The man is slain, and his place taken by some grunting beast. By the same token, any man who chooses to pervert his rationality chooses suicide, and any man who denies his neighbors’ right to think and act rationally commits murder. Men are free. If they ain’t free, they ain’t men.

1 comment:

  1. A fellow wrote a question in the facebook of my a dear friend,in which he asked if capitalism were selfish. From the context, it was obvious he meant both terms to be pejorative.

    Capitalism is a system of individual rights, including the right of ownership of property. Any meaningful definition of "ownership" must include the concept of control. One of the great lies of fascism is that people "own" their property, but the state controls it. Ownership means you can do with your property what seems most likely to promote your own values. If your greatest value is your family, then, under a capitalist system, you would have the power to do with your property what you think is best for your family.

    Like "capitalist," "selfishness" is an emotion-laden term, but it need not be so. A straightforward use of the word is simply a concern with one's own values. That concern is not delimited by one's own skin; it most emphatically includes other people. One may value righteousness, loyalty, integrity, creativity, chastity, independence, prosperity... the list is literally endless.

    Capitalism is the economic and political system that allows individual human beings to exercise their agency (free will) in an effort to live the best lives possible, as they are given to understand "best." Capitalism is absolutely a selfish system, but not the back-stabbing, money-grubbing, narcissistic obscenity the statists love to portray it.

    Charity is possible only when people have a bit of extra. People living hand-to-mouth, who are watching their loved ones suffer from hunger or other want, may have the noblest of impulses regarding their neighbors. However, they can't do much about it unless they have something share. The best way to ensure folks have extra is to turn them loose to create and build. Let them get filthy, stinkin' rich, or let them crash and burn. Indeed, would it not be the epitome of self interest to make certain, as you hack your way t the top, that you have treated others well enough that they will be willing to help you when you crash?

    There is only one truly moral system, and that is capitalism. Every other system is based on depriving individuals of the authority to exercise their agency.