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About anthony

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    tony garland

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    My all-time quote: "Man is a being of self-made soul."
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  1. The power mongers need our co-operation to wield their power, nothing deflates altruist power like having independent minds. Which is the theme of Jeffrey Tucker's essay at
  2. "Conflict, antagonism are good"-- and no "shrinking" from war. Although they destroy many lives, they are nature's strategy of bringing men to a higher cultural stage. Wow. Hasn't anyone picked up and correlated this with Europe's history, for the last 100 years? Two World Wars, and then the EC and later the European Union. "Out of this self-sacrifice of individuals and the war of nations, Kant hoped, the species would become fully developed, and AN INTERNATIONAL AND COSMOPOLITAN FEDERATION OF STATES WOULD LIVE PEACEFULLY AND HARMONIOUSLY, making possible within themselves the complete moral development of their members". How likely is it that Kant's strictures had absolutely zero influence? How many lost lives to reach peace and harmony?
  3. Michael, The way I see it, what makes Post Modernism such a dangerous beast and difficult opposition, is that any number of strands (political, ethical, cognitive, aesthetic etc.) - incohesive and incoherent, alone - come together to coagulate the whole entity. So we can get 'Globalism', Marxism, Progressivism, Environmentalism ... skepticism, relativism, altruism-collectivism ...and more, all represented, and all against reality and men's minds. You have been trying to figure the unprecedented vituperation coming from many quarters; what or whom is it against? This, in the US of late so visibly, gives a clue. When vicious arguments still take place about the president, outside the USA, It's not simply about American politics. What do these people feel they have lost? Why are the 'hold-outs', like Trump voters and Brexiteers, (to Israelis) being attacked with such unbelievable malice, and why are a portion of the haters so clearly willing to bring down everything - if it means sacrificing others' lives - to get their way? The "hold-outs" must have rocked the boat and blocked something important. Of course this is partly answered by the wielding of power over others' money, bodies and minds, and for what? "Power" implies power over people, but also: power, to what final consequence? I have an increasing certainty that deep in the bog which is the mind of such a person, is an infantile, subjective desire for Utopian perfection on Earth, and any means justifies that end. Superficially, where has and does human strife come from? Differences, and "tribal" differences. By nation, race, religion, wealth, culture, "social status", education, etc.(and gender...) - enmity and strife which can be permanently fixed by removing all "differences". For the superficial, determinist mind, eradicate any form of individuality and distinction - which he has already mentally achieved by collectivizing individual men and women - and then the last stage is the elimination of 'group individuality' (what a contradiction in terms) into a final Collective. At that point, the prerequisite is for Statism becoming monolithic with all people in the world "content", cared for and controlled by one State. Except then the Kantian paradox sets in: as with his dream of harmony, when everybody is "equal", everything has been "given back", this mystical status quo can't be sustained. It must fall apart. The individualism, thought and freedom insisted upon by a good part of the global village will cause new strife and its own demise. Naturally then, the initial, forced Utopia can't possibly be reached but a lot of damage can be done in the trying.
  4. Michael, Ideas have legs, which goes for bad ones and good ones. You know how it goes. They both find their adherents who'll enact them. How much of anti-mind, anti-reality philosophy is taught at colleges (especially, state-subsidized ones) isn't significant -as much- any more. One can find it all online. When I was looking into Hume and Kant to get better acquainted first hand, I found enough approving academics who were accepting of them, epistemologically and ethically. Reading these philosophers in the original is a labour (Kant!) so as i did, many would rely heavily on the interpretations and judgment of such academics. No matter that each philosopher, in his own way, concludes with skepticism of man's senses/ knowledge/reason, rejection of value, a deontological morality - etc. - and in Hume's case, instils primacy of emotions- there are some scholars who clearly admire the philosophies. Of course too, others keep impartiality or are critical. There's an intellectual osmosis that takes place, as I see it. Consider a young member of the 'counter-Culture', as I'll refer to it, who needs and seeks authoritative justification for his/her activities - lets' say, against the Constitution, for 'the global village', anti-capitalist, for aggressive environmentalism, or any movement the New Left holds dear. He, very likely a second-hander without excessive conceptualism of his own, would have to have -somebody's- intellectual support to give credibility to himself and to others. In turn he passes that on to others of his type, and so it seeps down through various groups. To explain but keep this short, I have been 'on a mission' criticizing skepticism for some time. But at first, from my experiences with people. Little to do with any obsession with unearthing/confirming Kant's faults. I believed people in large numbers observable world-wide and individuals I knew (who've changed radically) were literally losing their minds and their direct apprehension of reality. Trying to figure out this, then led me to Hume and Kant. I was heartened to come across Stephen Hicks' website a few months ago. He seems to be an unaffiliated academic, an Objectivist who traced the lineage of "Post Modernism", a phenomenon I think is already set to be devastating the West. He's done the hard yards of studying many philosophers in the original and detecting links from one to another. (Thank you, Dr. H!). As he shows, P-M is a most complex, philosophical mixed bag, eventually reaching into the arts, compromising language and the mind's relationship to words('deconstructionalism') . Hume and Kant are in there, with Kant ("a counter-Enlightenment philosopher") in a powerful background role, influencing the likes of Heidegger and Rousseau and so on. And he paints skepticism as a particularly pernicious causal factor, dominant but part of the bigger whole. His series is: "Explaining Post Modernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault" - there is a link on that other thread I posted of his. You asked for connections between Marxism, "New World Order", Islamicism, (here, I've said often that a morally-relativist, value-cynical and cognitively-skeptical, and emotionalist ~ weakened ~ Europe was a boon to Islamicists, who've timed their moves accordingly - therefore: a causal relationship to Western skepticism). If all that concerns you, I recommend a listen to his series. You will I think, discover in Post Modernism the common - philosophical - denominator behind a bunch of global movements and political shifts in recent decades. Technology advancing rapidly without the humanities and objective philosophy keeping pace, is a recipe for disaster.
  5. Michael: "What does this have to do with today's culture?" But how can culture be separated from the broadly accepted and predominant philosophy/morality of the times? And how can billionaires not be as susceptible to the general morality as is anyone else? E.g. To my way of seeing the culture of America, it was and is, largely a culture of individualism. Notwithstanding trends in another direction, driven by collectivism and progressivism Playing gotcha with Kant. I don't believe I am. He is not that simple and he is far from the only thinker whose ideas should be looked over carefully. Evidently, through centuries there have been long strings of scholars, schools of philosophies and the occasional seminal philosopher whose ideas fanned out to influence (or meet opposition from) other philosophers. A historical continuum of thought, in short, partially following and sometimes breaking away from earlier thinkers. Kant is one of those stand out philosophers whose weight is still felt. "Evil", by Rand, not the way it is presumed by non-O'ists (i.e. a metaphysical "Evil") but through the consequences of his epistemology and ethics carried out into action. We know how quickly and usually accurately Rand could foresee causes and effects. Kant, in his intuitionism or rationalism, did not highly esteem the directness of our senses to apprehend real things, and developed his ideas internally and not from reality. I am simplifying terribly, of course. Maybe he ought to have gone out more... However, I don't believe Kant (or any thinker, writer and artist, for that matter) set out deliberately to cause "evil". Most, I'm sure often believe they have found "the truth" or at least something new and important for the world. (Even that is secondary - I also don't believe that most of them were motivated *primarily* for others' elucidation; that first creative instinct is selfish, to "get it down" on paper or canvas, etc. for himself.) But we the inheritors of those many ideas have the luxury of sorting the bad from the good at our leisure, picking them apart and observing which have been wrong or disastrous when put into action. If some have undermined man's direct access to reality, the mind--I should think they deserve all the criticism they get. Back to giving. I knew of Kant's dutiful ideas of morality but was still surprised to read of his injunction to settle old "injustices" by "giving back" - as written in "Duties to Others" which Stephen Hicks quoted from. Interesting that this runs counter to Kant's quite classical-liberal expositions, on the State - perhaps I should have anticipated that Kant's ethics could be held responsible, in part, for the Welfare State, therefore also opposing individual rights. But there you are. I've learned Political theory is indivisible from ethics.
  6. Michael, fair argument. You mention gratitude. Expressing gratitude to the culture and country by giving back or paying forwards, is fine. (I'm with the Objectivist take that it's not a virtue, I think it's a personal value of the giver). But the double whammy Kant laid down is a double injustice, as Hicks says. You didn't deserve what you earned and you don't deserve credit for giving it away. What about the ingratitude from recipients of welfare, aid and charity? Common anywhere in the world is their expectation on others' taxes - and benevolence - because they've rationalized that the donors didn't deserve what they had in the first place and they have to give, "in justice". It's not then so much Kant connecting to the rich donors, Buffett (etc.) it is his link with the demands of the takers. Hicks adds "Kant's twist on the ethics of charity has consequences for modern political philosophy and the welfare state". Yes. Kant's argument, disseminated by way of many previous and contemporary intellectuals I'm sure, justifies ethically one's entitlement to others' wealth. Without his weight, I reckon welfarism would not be this ingrained, the acceptance of it not anything one would openly flaunt, and most would only resort to it as a temporary fix when in a bind.
  7. The duty to "give back" MUST be devoid of any selfish recognition, evaluation and emotion, to be fully moral, in Kant's reckoning (in his own words). To give back implies it was "taken", so even when wealth was honestly made by someone, it stands to reason it was 'taken'. So Kant didn't see past the zero-sum game. Your loss, my gain. That's not his worst error, as Hicks shows up very nicely. I won't speak for anyone else, but this well-entrenched give and take scenario, appears to me visibly to have been cracking up societies more, recently. The giver has to get resentful of his life-long obligations to all, while the taker never has enough - and is also resentful of being a charity case, (and further, demands that the State is responsible for returning to him his lost "dignity" also!). Men's benevolence to one another is soon crushed when a man is forced (even psychologically) to give out of duty to anyone and everyone, constantly, (rather than out of Kant's frowned-upon "inclination"), deadening one's pity for others' misery, and diluting most selfish pleasure one feels in helping them onto their feet again. Rand saw that first. When good is forced, no one can do good by choice - essentially - and the "good" disappears. Whatever Kant's vision and final Good Intentions were for a harmonious society, he must achieve the opposite. The (somehow) exactly-measured redistribution of wealth, in the name of "justice", so that all past mystical ("unconscious") 'injustice' may be rectified, also shows incredible denial/ignorance of the mind, human nature, initiative, merit and individuality. He effectively preaches egalitarianism, collectivism and determinism. Since if, by some wave of a magic wand (or much Statist force) the impossible is made possible, when precise parity is reached and every citizen owns the same money, an identical house, one horse, two cows, hens, and a plot of land--what happens next? Does the status quo remain, locked in place? How can he keep these values, without selfish virtues?The foolish and lazy individuals who haven't understand the creation of value - where and whom values come from - will squander what they have; while smarter and motivated people with energy and aspirations will end up with far more than their 'share'. And so the process of 'just redistribution' from moral dutifulness, must start over until everyone is equal again. (The tacit guilt and the grandstanding by billionaires who publicize "giving back" in recent times is possibly indicative to my mind of a modicum of true guilt: who knows how many strings they pulled, and favors given and called in from Govt., faking reality, to make the amounts they did? They'll know. Even apart from that, their cynical message to young would-be capitalists is, Capitalism and business isn't really moral, but dog eat dog, and if you make plenty of dough not all is really yours to keep. Why do they have to show off their donations 'back' to the world? Lack of pride and an unspoken plea for forgiveness, perhaps. Whoever is motivated to give away big money to causes he cares about, could as well do so quietly, privately and anonymously. )
  8. Kant on collectivism and war [EP] January 26, 2010 [This excerpt is from Chapter 4 of Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault] Kant on collectivism and war Of the major figures in German philosophy in the modern era, Kant is perhaps the one most influenced by Enlightenment social thought. There is a clear intellectual connection between Rousseau and Kant. Biographers often repeat Heinrich Heine’s anecdote about how Kant always took his afternoon walk at a set time, a time so regular that neighbors could set their clocks by his appearance—except on one occasion he was late for his walk because he had been so caught up in reading Rousseau’s Emile that he lost track of time. Kant had been raised as a Pietist, a version of Lutheranism that emphasized simplicity and eschewed external decoration. Kant therefore had no pictures or paintings hanging anywhere on the walls of his house—with one exception: over his desk in his study hung a picture of Rousseau.[37] Wrote Kant, “I learned to honor mankind from reading Rousseau.”[38] Neo-Enlightenment thinkers attack Kant for two things: his skeptical and subjectivist epistemology and his ethic of selfless duty. Kant’s account of reason divorces it from cognitive contact with reality, thus destroying knowledge; and his account of ethics divorces morality from happiness, thus destroying the purpose of life. As discussed in Chapter Two, Kant’s powerful arguments were a mighty blow to the Enlightenment. Politically, however, Kant is sometimes considered to be a liberal, and in the context of eighteenth-century Prussia there is some truth to that. In the context of Enlightenment liberalism, however, Kant diverged from liberalism in two major respects: his collectivism and his advocacy of war as a means to collectivist ends. In a 1784 essay, “Idea for a Universal History With Cosmopolitan Intent,” Kant asserted that there is a necessary destiny for the human species. Nature has a plan. It is, however, “a hidden plan of nature,”[39] and as such it is one that requires special discernment by philosophers. That destiny is the full development of all of man’s natural capacities, especially man’s reason.[40] By “man” here, Kant did not mean the individual. Nature’s goal is a collectivist one: the development of the species. Man’s capacities, Kant explained, are “to be completely developed only in the species, not in the individual.”[41] The individual is merely fodder for nature’s goal, as Kant put it in his “Review of Herder”: “nature allows us to see nothing else than that it abandons individuals to complete destruction and only maintains the type.”[4] And again, in his 1786 “Speculative Beginning of Human History,” Kant argued that the “path that for the species leads toprogress from the worse to the better does not do so for the individual.”[43] The development of the individual is in conflict with the development of the species, and only the development of the species counts. But it is also not the case that the species’ development is about happiness or fulfillment. “Nature is utterly unconcerned that man live well.”[44] The individual and even all existing individuals collectively now living are merely a stage in a process, and their suffering is of no account in the light of nature’s ultimate end. In fact, Kant argued, man should suffer, and deservedly so. Man is a sinful creature, a creature that is inclined to follow its own desires and not the demands of duty. Echoing Rousseau, Kant blamed mankind for having chosen to use reason when our instincts could have served us perfectly well.[45] And now that reason has awakened it has combined with self-interest to pursue all sorts of unnecessary and depraved desires. Thus the source of our vaunted freedom, Kant wrote, is also our original sin: “the history of freedom begins with badness, for it is man’s work.”[46] Accordingly, Kant admonished us, “we are a long way from being able to regard ourselves as moral.”[47] Man is a creature made of “warped wood.”[48] Powerful forces are therefore needed in order to attempt to straighten our warped natures. One of those forces is morality, a morality of strict and uncompromising duty that opposes man’s animal inclinations. A moral life is one that no rational person would “wish that it should be longer than it actually is,”[49] but one has a duty to live and develop oneself[50] and thereby the species. Inculcating this morality in man is one of nature’s forces. Another force to straighten the warped wood is political. Man is “an animal that, if he lives among other members of his species, has need of a master.” And that is because “his selfish animal propensities induce him to except himself from [moral rules] wherever he can.” Kant then introduced his version of Rousseau’s general will. Politically, man “thus requires a master who will break his self-will and force him to obey a universally valid will.”[51] However, strict duty and political masters are not enough. Nature has devised an additional strategy for bringing the species man to higher development. That strategy is war. As Kant wrote in his “Idea for a Universal History”: “The means that nature uses to bring about the development of all of man’s capacities is the antagonism among them in society.”[52] Thus, conflict, antagonism, and war are good. They destroy many lives, but they are nature’s way of bringing forth the higher development of man’s capacities. “At the stage of culture at which the human race still stands,” Kant stated bluntly in “Speculative Beginning,” “war is an indispensable means for bringing it to a still higher stage.”[53] Peace would be a moral disaster, so we are duty-bound not to shrink from war.[54] Out of this self-sacrifice of individuals and the war of nations, Kant hoped, the species would become fully developed, and an international and cosmopolitan federation of states would live peacefully and harmoniously, making possible within themselves the complete moral development of their members.[55] Then, as Kant concluded in a 1794 essay entitled “The End of All Things,” men would finally be in a position to prepare themselves for the day of “judgment of forgiveness or damnation by the judge of the world.”[56] This is the hidden plan of nature; it is destined to happen; so we know what we have to look forward to. --------- By Dr. Stephen Hicks, Ph.D, from his website.
  9. On “giving back” May 21, 2009 Stephen Hicks charity, Immanuel Kant, justice, Lectures on Ethics, philanthropy Like many other people, I am troubled by this phrase when I hear it. The usual scenario: A successful person makes a donation to a worthy cause but downplays any praise by saying “I’m only giving back.” The usual gentle rejoinder is to point out that the phrase assumes that the giver has taken something from others in the first place — he’s borrowed or stolen something and in “giving back” is merely restoring it to its rightful owners. That zero-sum assumption is usually untrue: most donors have earned what they have. So the phrase “giving back” contains within it an injustice: a false accusation. Yet there is more to it: the phrase also denies the benevolence of the giver. If you are only giving back what is rightfully someone else’s, then you do not deserve any special praise for your action. Your benevolence need not be acknowledged or honored. So the phrase really is a double injustice: it implies that you do not deserve what you have and it denies you any credit you deserve for your benevolent act. (Or to put it abstractly: It is the imputation of an undeserved negative and the denial of a deserved positive.) So far so bad. But it gets worse. Let me now pin the blame for this on He Who Is Almost Always At Fault When Something Fishy Is Going On Philosophically. I turn to Immanuel Kant. Looking through Kant’s Lectures on Ethics again, I came to one of the later sections entitled “Duties to Others.” (Let’s set aside for now the perplexing question of why, immediately following the end of exams and the beginning of summer vacation, I find myself reading Professor Kant’s 1775-1780 lectures on ethics.) In this section Kant employs his standard distinction between inclinations and duties, arguing that actions done from inclination have no moral worth while actions done from duty do. So if we apply this to acts of charity, charity done out of benevolence has no moral significance for Kant, while charity done out of duty does. But, Kant asks, on what is the duty to be charitable based? Why ought we be charitable, whether we want to or not? Kant’s answer is that to give charity to the poor is to make good on past injustices. Here is the key quotation: in giving to a person in need of charity, the giver “makes restitution for an injustice of which he is quite unconscious; though unconscious of it only because he does not properly examine his position. Although we may be entirely within our rights, according to the laws of the land and the rules of our social structure, we may nevertheless be participating in general injustice, and in giving to an unfortunate man we do not give him a gratuity but only help to return to his that of which the general injustice of our system has deprived him. For if none of us drew to himself a greater share of the world’s wealth than his neighbor, there would be no rich or poor. Even charity therefore is an act of duty imposed upon us by the rights of others and the debt we owe to them” (p. 194). Here we have the first part of the “giving back” claim made explicit: the zero-sum assumption and the consequent implication that one is merely returning something one has borrowed or stolen. On the very next page, Kant makes explicit the second assumption of “giving back”: “A man ought not to be flattered for his acts of charity lest his heart swell with generosity and desire to make benevolence the sole rule of his conduct” (p. 195). To my knowledge, Kant is the first to argue that charity is a matter of justice — compensatory justice, to be precise. He denies that charity is properly a matter of benevolence or of a duty to help the poor meet their needs, as previous thinkers had argued. (And if charity is a matter of justice, then there are implications for the role of the state, given that the state is an arbiter and enforcer of justice. In other words, Kant’s twist on the ethics of charity has consequences for modern political philosophy and the welfare state.) I am in favor of rationally benevolent giving but against “giving back.” And an intellectual history question: Is Kant original in arguing charity to be a matter of justice? ----- By Dr. Stephen Hicks Ph.D, from his website
  10. Hi Michael - only now do I see these 'Dollars'

    under members' names. What's that about? I have none.

    1. Michael Stuart Kelly

      Michael Stuart Kelly


      To be honest, I no longer know. Kat tried to make a grading system before, but the forum software kept changing things with new updates and destroying functions. So we just abandoned the idea. But residual things like these dollar signs got left over.

      I'm hoping to get away from this company before too long, but it's going to be expensive to do it right. (It's kind of expensive to keep it running the way it is.) The only thing these people have going for them is their security is top-notch so far.

      I'm waiting for my other project to bear fruit so I can finance a change. Then I might revisit all these social media gamification badges and other bells and whistles. At least, at that time, I'll know if I set something up, a software update will not take it apart.


  11. Greg, Methinks success is a quality over a quantity--and only measured by the individual himself, who knows what his standard of success is. Success can't be isolated from happiness, and happiness isn't a necessary consequence of wealth. Believe it or not, wealth isn't the primary motivator for some people, and not many have the marketing skills; the two don't always go hand in hand. Saying which, I'm sure in a laissez-faire economy the better intellectual ideas will be more esteemed, so creating a demand. Not every Capitalist has to be a Capitalist-businessman.
  12. My query was if money is the only criterion of success for everybody. What about one who values higher his mental productivity, and can't find a market for his output? "Success" is not easily defined.
  13. Judaism is not "altruistic" (meaning, self-sacrificial). But most Left wing Jews are heavy duty altruists, cozying up to causes of the Left and to groups which will continue hating Jews despite their apologetic efforts to distance themselves from a Jewish State.
  14. How much money? Where is the monetary dividing line between success and "a failed life"? A "necessary ingredient", right, it is so true it's almost a truism.
  15. Good, there's the context. When a person states a "benevolent" view, he/she presupposes the "beneficial" - actual and potential - nature of and contents within the universe. He corresponds his consciousness with existence. Effectively - the stuff of good life is here, I recognize it and treasure it. (Value - valuer). Bob: The emphasis is clearly on "OF" - i.e., the individual's benevolent view towards the universe - not an "intent" and benevolence FROM it. Obviously the universe is not goal-directed.