anthony

"Giving Back..."

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On “giving back”

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.

kant_50x64

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

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"he usual gentle rejoinder is to point out that the phrase assumes that the giver has taken something from others in the first place"

Taken or gotten?

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I've heard this argument for years in O-Land, but it never convinced me.

I mean, it does convince me that power-mongering people will try to use "giving back" as a propaganda tool for sanction of the victim. 

It does not convince me at all that givers mean they are thieves or borrowers (or worse, a patsies) when they say that.

The givers I have observed, unless they are pandering for some political exposure on platitude overdrive, are usually expressing gratitude to the culture (even when they say "society") that allowed them the conditions the time and place provided. What this means is that they did not have to invent language they use, the technology they use, the marketing and financial structures they use, etc. etc. etc.

If they lived in primitive times, they would not have created any of their wealth.

I can't think of one bazillionaire who believes he is giving back something that he took from a poor person. Nor one bazillionaire who, as in Kant, believes he is making restitution for unconscious injustice he perpetrated. Among the bazillionaires I know of, when they perpetrate injustice, they do it on purpose. :) So I can imagine such a bazillionaire wanting to make restitution for that when he has a soul. :) But I can't imagine him using the term "give back to society" in that case.

This either-or tug on "giving back" always creates a nice discussion, but it's just not accurate one way or the other. It's a controversy over semantics when propaganda is the core issue.

I get it that doing something charitable freely and being compelled to do it are the difference between good and evil, and that one way of framing an issue can be used as propaganda or covert mind control when not contested, but I sooooooooo hate PC language. I have no intention on becoming a social justice warrior nagging other people about how they talk, not even for wagging my finger to shame bazillionaires who couldn't care less either way. :) 

That's why I, personally, am not bothered by the phrase, although I do prefer, "paying it forward." It's a nice sentiment and I practice it at times.

Besides, it's been proven over and over and over (yes, in labs) that experiencing gratitude is good for your health, especially though oxytocin surges, so it is profoundly selfish to feel gratitude when you can. If you want to keep people from feeling gratitude for this or that, it better be over more than semantics if you want to be taken seriously.

Otherwise, you are just being a buzzkill. :) 

Michael

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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. )

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I would like to say Kant is the problem. After all, I was weaned on Rand. But I just don't see his influence among the wealthy in today's world.

From what I have read of Kant's ethics, they are horrible. But to go from there to, say, Bill Gates, Carlos Slim, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, etc., etc., etc., sorry. Kant is just not there.

I see Machiavelli, though. :) 

And Adam Smith. And Darwin. And several others. (And things go to hell when they get to government.)

And I see Rand in places. In fact, among the super rich, I would wager that Rand has had far more influence on their thinking than Kant ever did, even indirectly through others.

If we are to understand the super rich, it would be a good idea to look at the super rich first and not what someone supposes about them.

Michael

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1 hour ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

I would like to say Kant is the problem. After all, I was weaned on Rand. But I just don't see his influence among the wealthy in today's world.

From what I have read of Kant's ethics, they are horrible. But to go from there to, say, Bill Gates, Carlos Slim, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, etc., etc., etc., sorry. Kant is just not there.

I see Machiavelli, though. :) 

And Adam Smith. And Darwin. And several others. (And things go to hell when they get to government.)

And I see Rand in places. In fact, among the super rich, I would wager that Rand has had far more influence on their thinking than Kant ever did, even indirectly through others.

If we are to understand the super rich, it would be a good idea to look at the super rich first and not what someone supposes about them.

Michael

Darwin really did not have anything to say about government.  His interest was the natural  world and how it really worked. 

Herbert Spencer misstated what Darwin had to say about survival.  Survival of the fittest is not what Darwin said.  Darwin said survival of those organisms that reproduce best. 

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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.

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2 hours ago, anthony said:

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.

Tony,

This is fine. So we can gotcha Kant.

My problem is what does this have to do with today's culture?

If the best one can do for an example is nitpic semantics with bazillionaires who do not even agree, I would say the impact on the culture is pretty small.

Frankly, I don't find Kant to be the most evil man in history. In trying to trace actual influence on today's culture, I find him mostly irrelevant. That's O-Land heresy, I know, but I cannot bear false witness to my eyes in order to agree with Rand and the peer group.

Unless we find Kant in Marxism, Islamism, New World Order folks (with their climate change scam and Endless War for Profit scams), etc., I just don't see the connection. I read Rand's West Point talk, "Philosophy Who Needs It," several times. It was clever in attributing modern cliches to old philosophers. But after some time, it dawned on me. Rand merely asserted this connection in a colorful manner. She didn't actually trace the paths. Granted, she was doing what she called "middle writing" (I think that's the term she used in The Art of Nonfiction Writing for addressing a reasonably intelligent popular audience), but some more cheese and less whiskers would have caught more mice. :) 

Instead, the bashing of the evil Kant as the father of modern destruction is confined mostly to our subcommunity. I can't think of any other intellectual movement that does this.

Michael

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How's that for checking a premise? :)

I think there's something to Rand's zeroing in on Kant, but it's way over-inflated. That makes it hard as hell to find concretes without making a hell of a lot of assumptions. 

Michael

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13 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Tony,

This is fine. So we can gotcha Kant.

My problem is what does this have to do with today's culture?

If the best one can do for an example is nitpic semantics with bazillionaires who do not even agree, I would say the impact on the culture is pretty small.

Frankly, I don't find Kant to be the most evil man in history. In trying to trace actual influence on today's culture, I find him mostly irrelevant. That's O-Land heresy, I know, but I cannot bear false witness to my eyes in order to agree with Rand and the peer group.

Unless we find Kant in Marxism, Islamism, New World Order folks (with their climate change scam and Endless War for Profit scams), etc., I just don't see the connection. I read Rand's West Point talk, "Philosophy Who Needs It," several times. It was clever in attributing modern cliches to old philosophers. But after some time, it dawned on me. Rand merely asserted this connection in a colorful manner. She didn't actually trace the paths. Granted, she was doing what she called "middle writing" (I think that's the term she used in The Art of Nonfiction Writing for addressing a reasonably intelligent popular audience), but some more cheese and less whiskers would have caught more mice. :) 

Instead, the bashing of the evil Kant as the father of modern destruction is confined mostly to our subcommunity. I can't think of any other intellectual movement that does this.

Michael

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.  

 

 

    

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37 minutes ago, anthony said:

Kant is one of those stand out philosophers whose weight is still felt.

Tony,

I was probably not clear on the gotcha thing. It's the argument that plays gotcha with Kant, not you in particular. God knows that argument has been around O-Land for a long time.

On the quote above, where is Kant's weight still felt? University philosophy courses?

OK.

Where else?

That's my point.

Michael

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2 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Tony,

I was probably not clear on the gotcha thing. It's the argument that plays gotcha with Kant, not you in particular. God knows that argument has been around O-Land for a long time.

On the quote above, where is Kant's weight still felt? University philosophy courses?

OK.

Where else?

That's my point.

Michael

Kant was one of the first to come up with the Nebular Hypothesis  on the formation of the solar system.  Kant proposed it in 1755.  Pierre Simon LaPlace proposed it  in 1795  so Kant beat LaPlace to the punch  by 40 years,  but LaPlace was the mathematician and LaPlace supported it with very good analysis based on Newton's Law of Gravitation.  Kant did not have the math talent that LaPlace had so Kant had to wave his hands a lot.  Kant came up with the essentially correct hypothesis  in 1755 before he want  insane  trying to refute Hume.   The Kant we all love to stick pins into was created by David Hume.

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3 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

The Kant we all love to stick pins into was created by David Hume.

Bob,

And that's the Kant that Rand, et al., say is demolishing humanity and the human mind (as we humans live longer life spans, become freer from diseases, do unbelievable things with technology of all sorts, continue increasing our population, etc. etc. etc.).

That Kant, to me, does not explain the elitist crony government+business corporatism thing loose in the world where a ruling class mentality has emerged. It is parasitical on the concept of capitalism and it causes enormous damage all over the world under the guise of providing products.

Behavioral science has given propagandists mass manipulation tools beyond their wildest dreams. And that, not philosophy, is what sells the crap from the elitist jerks to the masses and keeps them from revolting.

One caveat. Reality is still reality and when behavioral science is abused to the point that the jerks fudge on human nature, which means reality, it becomes the fake news we see currently taking down the entire corporate media. And it sets up a backlash from the folks who actually do the producing and things happen like President Trump.

I don't see Kant in there at all--neither in the conceited ruling class mentality assholes, nor in the use of behavioral science for consolidating power, nor in the Endless War for Profit that result from all this, nor in a host of other ills perpetrated on the rest of us by these pompous idiots.

Michael

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On 6/14/2017 at 7:10 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Tony,

I was probably not clear on the gotcha thing. It's the argument that plays gotcha with Kant, not you in particular. God knows that argument has been around O-Land for a long time.

On the quote above, where is Kant's weight still felt? University philosophy courses?

OK.

Where else?

That's my point.

Michael

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. 

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22 hours ago, anthony said:

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.

Tony,

Believe it or not, I have an actual book copy of Stephen Hicks's book. You have inspired me to listen to the YouTube audiobook as I read along with it. For the reader, here is the first chapter of the audiobook: Explaining Postmodernism: Chapter 1: What Postmodernism Is.

I am going to withhold my discussion of Stephen's views until I have read his book, which I should have done ages ago. Stephen and I are even Facebook friends, so it's about friggin' time I got my act together. :) 

I do see where there is probably a strong Kant connection with post-modernism. But for modern issues, I see none whatsoever with, say, ISIS-style Islamism.

The way I have held the Kant thing in my mind for decades is based on one of Rand's observations. Paraphrasing, she came up with the con game of philosophy (my term, not hers). The way it works is that an author will write an excruciatingly long and obscure work. Nobody reads it except some academics. A few of them write critiques of it. And others write critiques of those critiques. And others do the same and so on. Along the way, some of the really obscure stuff gets translated into plain English (or whatever the language is of a respective country). And from there artists (in all the arts) start concretizing some of the abstractions and pop culture finally runs with it. Authors start making analogies and, eventually, catch phrases find their way into the everyday spoken language. This is how an obscure philosophy text contaminates a culture with bad ideas.

I used to find this pathway convincing and, up to a point, I still do. This does not explain to me, though, the human nature reason why such ideas are attractive to humans. Rand used to talk about a "death premise," but that was so oversimplified and rationalized, I don't think hardcore fundies themselves run with that one anymore.

For an example of a human nature reason, here's a fundamental question that you will find in ALL current problems in the world. Why do humans like power over other humans? Wherever there is crap in the world, you will find someone trying to get power over some other human or humans. Kant, to my knowledge, does not explain that. Rand shows it, but does not explain it. 

This is why I am checking my premises on the "Kant is the most evil man in history" claim. 

The way I currently think is that Kant might have some kind of influence in today's culture, but it is not as fundamental as I used to believe.

Undoubtedly, I will have more coming.

This is a good discussion.

Michael

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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. 

  

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5 hours ago, anthony said:

What do these people feel they have lost?

Tony,

Power.

Pure and simple.

They do not live to build things. They live to rule over others and pretend they are superior beings.

Losing power is more than just losing power. It's a slap in the face of a superior by an inferior to them.

They cannot abide and viciousness is the result. It's the same sentiment of a slave owner dealing with an "ippity" slave before the Civil War.

Postmodernism is not the root of that. It is merely a cultural wrecking ball these assholes use to get power.

The good news is that postmodernism is a Frankenstein monster. It puts disparate pieces together, but only magic or fiction makes the monster come alive. Out here in reality, the monster just lays there looking like a monster. :) 

I know enough about postmodernism to know that a lack of vision for mankind is its Achilles heel. And when the cream of postmodernism, genuinely talented and sincere people like David Foster Wallace, discover they are promoting rational identification without rational evaluation (or any kind of evaluation other than an alienated aloof irony), resulting in a message that life is meaningless, they commit suicide or go insane.

I was interested in Wallace for a bit. I saw a lot of videos. One of his girlfriend writers, Mary Karr, once said something about him that I did not understand at the time. She would show him a page or so she wrote and he would say he wished he could do that. And he meant it. I've read a bit of both so now I understand. He was talking about believing in something, in some big value, enough to feel alive. (Karr is dark at times, but she's passionate as hell in a value-oriented way. Oddly enough, she later became a Catholic.) I also saw him in an interview with Charlie Rose where he compared himself to a gigantic eyeball floating all over just looking at stuff. As I remember the interview, he said it within a frame that this was not enough.

Anyway, I digress. These people are not power mongers. The power mongers who use them are power mongers. And those are the vicious, spiteful, dangerous people.

5 hours ago, anthony said:

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.

I'm almost with you, especially the infantile part, but not "any means" is OK by them. They don't consider themselves as something that can be sacrificed. So utopia is not something these folks want to be a part of. Not at all. It makes them shudder to even consider it. Utopia is something they want to create, impose on others (never themselves) and rule over it, both before and after. People are merely interchangeable pieces in that vision. The spiritual driver is power and vanity. Always power and vanity. Think about it...

Michael

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On 6/18/2017 at 11:00 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Tony,

Power.

Pure and simple.

They do not live to build things. They live to rule over others and pretend they are superior beings.

Losing power is more than just losing power. It's a slap in the face of a superior by an inferior to them.

```

I'm almost with you, especially the infantile part, but not "any means" is OK by them. They don't consider themselves as something that can be sacrificed. So utopia is not something these folks want to be a part of. Not at all. It makes them shudder to even consider it. Utopia is something they want to create, impose on others (never themselves) and rule over it, both before and after. People are merely interchangeable pieces in that vision. The spiritual driver is power and vanity. Always power and vanity. Think about it...

Michael

1

Michael,

When the identical reactions consistently cropped up - and do still - about your president across the Atlantic, as they did at home - I can't see it's about our loss of power (of power for Europeans in Europe or ours' here in S.Africa). I mean, the ~same~ knee-jerk reactions, instantly. There was no direct power lost by we foreigners. When Amanpour was driven to frustrated tears over the Brexit vote, it can't be a mass psychosis that hits everywhere simultaneously. "Power" doesn't answer enough. Nor is keeping the supply of freebies coming. It has to be ideological more than psychological and it has to do with a 'superior vision' for the world, involving in part an erosion of individuality and truth. What happens in America, or anywhere, doesn't "stay" in America any more. Ideas spread fast, and can be dug up from old philosophers quickly. Sometimes for the good, the internet has changed how humans see themselves. Often it's for the worse, when many collectivize themselves around immoral fault lines beyond national borders. I think Post Modernism can't be taken lightly, it has too many roots and off-shoots and is undermining reason and an individual's view of reality, to an end. The eventual lumping together of the identities of all ~types~ into one great homogenous mass of mankind, I see as that designed end. It is not clearly articulated, but you can see it at work by commentators in just the one root, "post-colonialism" and the inherent "exclusivism" shown by or perceived of with White Men in the past. To be on the morally correct side of that with the New Dreamers, you'd better demonstrate "inclusivism" (--or else). That is a good definition of moral relativism, to 'include' everybody else willy-nilly without assessment - and especially moreso, if someone clearly doesn't come up to scratch. Everybody is as good as everybody. Like opening borders. Embracing Islamicists--etc. Of course the power in this imagined post-modernist world will go to some few elites as usual, but never underestimate a people's desperate "endless struggle to think well of themselves", at whomever else's cost. Useful idiots have had their uses before to start other historical movements.

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13 hours ago, anthony said:

There was no direct power lost by we foreigners.

Tony,

I dispute that. The elites lost gobs of power with President Trump and were threatened with loss of even more. TPP. Paris Climate agreement, NATO shenanigans, etc., etc., etc.

Their biggest threat to power (in their perception) is that he does not play on their side, the globalist elitist side.

But your frame is off compared to what I said. I was talking about motivation. What drives these crappy people, not what their immediate outcome is on a single transaction.

They (the power elites) see a charging bear. They all have the identical reaction (overreaction). And then you say that proves nothing about them being afraid of bears because in this charge, no one got mauled yet. Instead, their problem is postmodernism. :)

Joking aside, I do see philosophy as a propaganda tool for power mongers, and an effective one at that. I do not see it as their driving inner motor. That motive is more fundamental to their approach to life than any philosophy could be. Think Peter Keating learning about philosophy as he went along. He was not driven by philosophy at the start. And that motivation drove him right into the arms of Toohey, where he learned about philosophy. So what drove him?

When you remove the whole human from the philosophy and oversell it as the One True Motive of All Mankind, you dilute its true impact, both real and potential. That goes especially for Rand, who waxed back and forth on this precise point. Sometimes to her a thug was just a thug. And at other times, he was a puppet of philosophy.

The truth is, power mongers exist and have always existed. And they don't need any philosophy to exist. Just look at toddlers with a propensity to bullying and tattling and so on to get top place in the dominance hierarchy. Did they somehow study Kant before they could read?

:)

Michael

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On 6/22/2017 at 5:06 PM, anthony said:

The eventual lumping together of the identities of all ~types~ into one great homogenous mass of mankind, I see as that designed end. It is not clearly articulated, but you can see it at work by commentators in just the one root, "post-colonialism" and the inherent "exclusivism" shown by or perceived of with White Men in the past. To be on the morally correct side of that with the New Dreamers, you'd better demonstrate "inclusivism" (--or else). That is a good definition of moral relativism, to 'include' everybody else willy-nilly without assessment - and especially moreso, if someone clearly doesn't come up to scratch. Everybody is as good as everybody.

I agree with much of this. The rot emanates from higher ed, breeding ground for technocrats, lawyers, politicians, public voices.

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On 6/23/2017 at 4:08 AM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Tony,

I dispute that. The elites lost gobs of power with President Trump and were threatened with loss of even more. TPP. Paris Climate agreement, NATO shenanigans, etc., etc., etc.

Their biggest threat to power (in their perception) is that he does not play on their side, the globalist elitist side.

But your frame is off compared to what I said. I was talking about motivation. What drives these crappy people, not what their immediate outcome is on a single transaction.

They (the power elites) see a charging bear. They all have the identical reaction (overreaction). And then you say that proves nothing about them being afraid of bears because in this charge, no one got mauled yet. Instead, their problem is postmodernism. :)

Joking aside, I do see philosophy as a propaganda tool for power mongers, and an effective one at that. I do not see it as their driving inner motor. That motive is more fundamental to their approach to life than any philosophy could be. Think Peter Keating learning about philosophy as he went along. He was not driven by philosophy at the start. And that motivation drove him right into the arms of Toohey, where he learned about philosophy. So what drove him?

When you remove the whole human from the philosophy and oversell it as the One True Motive of All Mankind, you dilute its true impact, both real and potential. That goes especially for Rand, who waxed back and forth on this precise point. Sometimes to her a thug was just a thug. And at other times, he was a puppet of philosophy.

The truth is, power mongers exist and have always existed. And they don't need any philosophy to exist. Just look at toddlers with a propensity to bullying and tattling and so on to get top place in the dominance hierarchy. Did they somehow study Kant before they could read?

:)

Michael

Essentially I agree with Rand about the "Witch Doctor" and not with this. You are basically throwing philosophy out the window here, Michael. If there's no need for morality there's no need for philosophy. Everyone has a philosophy including the bad guys. Those who don't seem to need it use it regardless in their sociopathic righteousness and they associate naturally enough with others of their ilk. So when the witch doctor comes he's welcome especially if he's a second-hand power monger and leaves the bad actions to the bad actors. Why? He heals them of any conscienceness that rears its ugly head.

--Brant

booze and drugs can temporarily substitute for philosophy for Christian bloodletting--the Moslems don't need them; their religion's enough for cutting off heads and blowing up bodies, but us Christians--the West is culturally Christian, even the non-Moslem Russians--(Japanese excluded here), are ready to wage general thermonuclear war (Mao, BTW, was a Christian for he was using the Christian philosophy of Marxism [Marx was effectively a secular Jew for Jesus] along with all the other commies including the Nazi Left going nutzo in America today)

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35 minutes ago, Brant Gaede said:

You are basically throwing philosophy out the window here, Michael. If there's no need for morality there's no need for philosophy.

Brant,

No I'm not. I'm putting philosophy into the proper hierarchy.

Philosophy is under--and (when done right) stems from--human nature. Even in O-Land, too many people ignore human nature and try to mold people with philosophy. 

It is not moral relativism to identify human universals. They were there long before anyone identified them.

If there is a difference between observable human nature and a philosophical principle, human nature has to take precedence if the philosophy is to reflect reality. And when there is a contradiction, it's the philosophy that has to change, not human nature.

We can discipline and temper certain aspects of human nature (after all, the mind is modular in a virtual manner, and often physical, so we can prioritize one module and lessen the influence of another), but blanking out human nature in the top position to fit a philosophy results in pain, anxiety and even mass death for those who think that is the correct way to go. Why? Because human nature will not be denied. Human nature is reality as it comes. It will assert itself where it is ignored. Philosophy cannot make the same claim, although Rand makes a good case for it.

Or maybe I should say that, within the domain of lower in the hierarchy, philosophy will assert its influence if it is ignored. But in any contest between human nature and philosophy, human nature will always win. Always.

Philosophy is ordered abstraction to be used by humans. Humans are not slaves and puppets to an all-powerful philosophy creature.

Michael

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12 hours ago, Wolf DeVoon said:

I agree with much of this. The rot emanates from higher ed, breeding ground for technocrats, lawyers, politicians, public voices.

"Higher Ed"  also produces  engineers, physicists,  chemists,  physicians, and other folks in advanced technology.  You know,....  the class of people that maintain and increase the technology and science on which our prosperity  depends.  Where would the U.S. be without transistors? Or without polymer chemistry? 

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