Monday, 17 February 2020

The Irrational Consequences Of Rational Politics

The people, who self-identify as rational, demand the impossible, which is to say, to achieve the ends without the means. Their politics, in the last 100 years, has been motivated by seven concerns: liberty, global free markets, atheism, individualism, anti-racism, world peace, and small government. But they detest reality and their notion of these seven concerns is utopian, which ensures that their political agenda is unachievable. Their utopianism drives normal people away from them. Instead of popularizing political values, the people, who self-identify as rational, have succeeded in demonstrating that political values have little to do with the life of the common man and in some ways are anti-life.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

On The Collectivist Character Of Individualism

Every individualist is an ex-collectivist. To become an individualist a man must cease to be a collectivist. To cease to be a collectivist, he must have been a collectivist. Individualism may seem antithetical to collectivism, but both have a symbiotic relationship: Individualism can arise only in societies where collectivism exists. But once the individualists attain self-realization, they join other individualists to create close-knit communities. Hence, the future, and not just the past, of individualism is collectivism—in other words, the journey of an individualists begins with collectivism and ends with collectivism.

Saturday, 15 February 2020

The Builders of Civilization: Masters And Slaves

There has never been a major civilization that in the beginning, or through the entirety of its existence, has not been divided into two classes: the master class and the slave class.

Ancient Greece, which is regarded as the fountainhead of western philosophy and science, was essentially a great slave society. Ancient Rome, which inherited the Greek philosophical tradition and developed it into a political and cultural system, was an even greater slave society. The greatest of all slave societies was the Roman Empire which at its peak had conquered and enslaved much of Europe, and parts of Africa and Asia. The paradox is that while these civilizations were making use of slavery, their master class made significant advancements in developing ideas of liberty, rationality, and individualism.

From these historical facts, three inferences can be drawn: first, the existence of slaves and their masters is a necessary condition for mankind to create new civilizations; second, the existence of the slave class does not hinder the master class from developing ideas of liberty, rationality, and individualism; third, all of history can be understood as the dialectics of collaboration and conflict between mastery and slavery.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Perfection Implies Imperfection

The man who knows that he a perfect man is the most imperfect man. A perfect man will be aware of his imperfections.

Religion And Philosophy

Religion is never justified by history and science; in an advanced civilization, it’s justified by philosophy, and in a primitive civilization, it is justified by mythology and superstition.

The first rationalistic knowledge that was developed by mankind is primitive religion—this happened during the Stone Age. When mankind moved into the Bronze Age and Iron age, their primitive religion had accumulated sufficient knowledge to justify elementary philosophy. With further advancement of civilization, there was a reversal in the roles of philosophy and religion—philosophy gained maturity and thinkers started deploying it to justify their religion. An example of this trend is Aquinas’s use of Aristotelian philosophy for making a case for scholasticism.

But if philosophy can justify religion, it can also belittle it. The fall of scholasticism paved way for the rise of modern atheistic philosophy.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

On Claims Of Universal Validity

There is nothing more illiberal than to claim universal validity for one’s own philosophy. This kind of tendency is generally found in intellectuals and politicians who, consciously or subconsciously, lust for power over others, and are ignorant of the multidimensional complexities in social relationships and human psychology. Even when their ideas are rational, such people do not lead to good outcomes—they poison society with their intolerance, dogmatism, and totalitarianism.

Mortal Terror And Wisdom

The mortal terror inspired by the arrival of barbarian destroyers is the beginning of wisdom. People become aware of the seriousness of reality, and they acknowledge the value of their way of life, at the time when everything that they hold dear is on verge of being wiped out by an implacable enemy. In times of peace and prosperity, people become unserious; their politicians and intellectuals take the world for granted, they waste their energy in squabbling over petty issues and debating utopian theories. The best works of philosophy in the last 2500 years have been created in places that were in the state of turmoil—due to a civil war, an outside attack, or great intellectual and religious schisms. Therefore, I hold that mortal terror is the wellspring of wisdom in human beings.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Alexandre Kojève’s Hegelianism And Politics

I became interested in Alexandre Kojève’s interpretation of Hegel's philosophy after reading the essays in which Leo Strauss describes the philosophical differences between them. Kojève was a Marxist (possibly a Stalinist) and Strauss was a conservative (possibly a neoconservative); the two liked to discuss philosophy and politics, though they disagreed on several issues. I am reading Kojève’s lectures on Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit—the book is called Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on the Phenomenology of Spirit (edited and translated by Allan Bloom)—it has seven of Kojève’s lectures which were originally compiled by Raymond Queneau. In his Introduction to the book, Bloom gives a fine assessment of Kojève’s contribution to Hegelian scholarship:

“But looking around us, Kojève, like every other penetrating observer, sees that the completion of the human task may very well coincide with the decay of humanity, the rebarbarization or even reanimalization of man… one wonders whether the citizen of the universal homogeneous state is not identical to Nietzsche's Last Man, and whether Hegel's historicism does not by an inevitable dialectic force us to a somber and more radical historicism which rejects reason. We are led to a confrontation between Hegel and Nietzsche and perhaps, even further, toward a reconsideration of the classical philosophy of Plato and Aristotle, who rejected historicism before the fact and whom Hegel believed he had surpassed. It is the special merit of Kojève to be one of the very few sure guides to the contemplation of the fundamental alternatives.”

Robert Scruton, however, is not as kind to Kojève as Strauss and Bloom are. In his article on Fukuyama, Scruton describes Kojève as a life-hating Russian, a self-declared Stalinist, a dangerous psychopath, and a drummer boy for end of history. Scruton notes in the article that Fukuyama borrows his thesis that history has worked towards its end from Kojève.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

The Unserious Lust For Originality

The unserious man searches for ways of demonstrating that he is an original thinker, but his work is trite, full of falsehoods, and uninspiring; the serious man never seeks to broadcast his originality, but his work inspires because of its imaginativeness, clarity, and passionate pursuit of truth.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Human Porcupines And Their System Of Civil Association

On a cold winter day, a colony of porcupines, so Schopenhauer tells us, wanted to huddle together so that they may bask in the communal warmth and escape from being frozen. But the pricks from the quill’s on each other’s bodies forced them to draw apart—at the same time the cold forced them to huddle together. At some point of time, the porcupines discovered that if they maintain an optimal distance, they can enjoy a moderate amount of communal warmth while avoiding the pricks form each other’s quills. The porcupines didn’t realize it, but they had discovered a system of civil association in which an individual (a human porcupine) can preserve his individuality while taking advantage of the warmth and security that can only come from existing in a community. Here’s the excerpt from Schopenhauer’s Parerga and Paralipomena:

“A number of porcupines huddled together for warmth on a cold day in winter; but, as they began to prick one another with their quills, they were obliged to disperse. However the cold drove them together again, when just the same thing happened. At last, after many turns of huddling and dispersing, they discovered that they would be best off by remaining at a little distance from one another. In the same way the need of society drives the human porcupines together, only to be mutually repelled by the many prickly and disagreeable qualities of their nature. The moderate distance which they at last discover to be the only tolerable condition of intercourse, is the code of politeness and fine manners; and those who transgress it are roughly told—in the English phrase—to keep their distance. By this arrangement the mutual need of warmth is only very moderately satisfied; but then people do not get pricked. A man who has some heat in himself prefers to remain outside, where he will neither prick other people nor get pricked himself.”

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Atheism And Irrationality

In the name of atheism any evil can be justified. The history of last 300 years (in most advanced democracies) does not give us any reason to believe that the atheists are more rational and moral than those who are motivated by religious values.

The notion that the atheists are men of reason is not an empirically established fact; it’s merely an opinion that the atheists have of themselves. The truth is that atheism is an “ism”—a political ideology—and like all ideologies, it can be corrupted and can be used for subverting culture and justifying the forces of irrationality and evil.

Rationality is not the sole prerogative of the atheists. A number of great theologians in the last 2500 years have defended their philosophical ideas on rational considerations.

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Two Types Of Racism

Racism can be viewed from two different perspectives: first, the racism that results from the feelings of affinity and trust that one may have for one’s own ethnic group; second, the racism that results from the feelings of loathing and distrust that one may harbor for one’s own ethnic group. The first type of racism is natural and moral and is generally found in the people with a conservative mindset. The second type of racism is unnatural and immoral and is generally found in the people with a liberal or leftist mindset. The first type of racism can inspire nativist and nationalist tendencies; the second type of racism can inspire multiculturalist and globalist tendencies.

Friday, 7 February 2020

Secret Internet For Philosophers

The Intriguing Question: What Is Reason?

The intriguing question for which man’s reason searches for an answer is: What is reason? Indeed, the 2500 year old history of reason is a prolonged search for the definition of reason. The 18th century was called the Age of Reason, but it’s not clear even in our times, the 21st century, how reason operates in man’s mind, what its limitations are, and what its relationship is to instinct. The philosophies are incapable of investigating reason because a focus on reason has the paradoxical effect of driving a philosophy towards rationalization and dogmatism. In the last 300 years, the word “reason” has by itself become a sepulcher that holds the remains of the dead philosophies, which, during their short lifetime, dared to overreach their aspirations and call themselves “philosophy of reason”.

Thursday, 6 February 2020

On Reason And Instinct

The first knowledge that a man acquires is through instinct—reason enters at a later stage, its primary role is to analyze and confirm the knowledge which instinct has acquired. The idea of supremacy of reason which the modern philosophers preach is illusory. Reason is not superior to instinct; both play an equally important role for acquiring knowledge. The modern era is not only an age of reason but also an age of instinct. The proficiency in the use of reason is the mark of a technical man; the proficiency in the use of instinct is the mark of a wise man. Progress happens when technical knowledge and wisdom march hand in hand.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Irrationality Implies Rationality

Irrationality is essential for rationality to exist. You can’t combat irrationality unless there is irrationality—this is not because the absence of irrationality would imply that there would be nothing for the rational person to combat, but because irrationality would acquire such dimensions that its spread would become unstoppable by any rational means. The contest between rationally and irrationality is never ending; it will go on for as long as humanity lasts—this contest invigorates our mind and makes us capable of producing original and fruitful ideas. It isn’t a paradox that the civilizations which have been the fountainhead of mankind’s greatest rational ideas have also been the creators of our greatest irrational ideas.

On The Corruption Of Freedom

Freedom, like slavery, is unyielding and merciless. Genuine freedom has good outcomes, but most notions of freedom are catastrophic because they are either fraudulent or meaningless, or else true in a very limited sense. When the notion of freedom is blended with granting exclusive rights and privileges to minority groups, then it’s no longer genuine—it entails new impositions on the nation’s general population, and leads to disharmony, corruption, and degradation of culture. The ones who are mentally deficient may regard the sacrificing of the interests of the majority community, to give unearned benefits to the minorities, as an advancement of freedom. But most people in any nation are not mentally deficient; eventually they realize that their way of life is being sacrificed in the name of fraudulent notions of freedom. After that it becomes a contest between the majority community of the nation and the political and intellectual establishment.

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

The Pre-philosophical Achievements Of Humankind

The philosophers believe that they are indispensable, but their work is not of critical importance—by “critical importance” I mean the feature of being absolutely necessary for survival. We can live without the theoretical understanding of the world.

An advanced civilization will not be possible without philosophy, because the organization of such civilizations requires the common knowledge of religion, morality, and politics. However, we don’t need philosophy to develop primitive settlements held together by acquired skills like: communicating with symbolic language; hunting and foraging for food in groups; creating shelters and doing agriculture and cattle rearing; holding an elementary notion of the supernatural; understanding the racial and familial bonds; waging wars against rival human groups; having a basic sense of morality and politics (evolutionary type); creating basic art (symbolic and memetic) to inspire the group.

Since their appearance on the planet, our ancestors, during the Stone Age and before that, have lived without philosophy—they swept across almost the entire planet thousands of years before any philosophy was developed.

Reason, Faith, and Instincts: A Darwinian Case

If the Darwinian theory of evolution is to be believed, then all the species have developed their biological features because the exigencies of survivability demanded it. This means that all the mental tools that humankind is using for making sense of the world are there because they are practicable or conducive for survival. The process of evolution has awarded the same importance to our instincts, faith, emotions, and mystic insights that it has to our intellect and reason. Intellect and reason are not the only tools for gaining knowledge, as many modern thinkers claim; our instincts, faith, emotions, and mystic insights also play a critical role.

Monday, 3 February 2020

On The Essence Of “I”

The ultimate metaphysical problem is the problem of being. One being with whom all of us are intimate is the entity we identify as “I”. But what does the word “I” refer to? Does it refer to the body, the soul, or the mind? Those who reject dualism will assert that there is no distinction between the body and mind and that the soul doesn’t exist. But even in a non-dualistic system there is a differentiation between the mind and the body—the mind is regarded as an attribute or function of the brain. I can’t see how one can identify the essence of “I” without accepting some form of dualism. The dualism can be property dualism which envisages a universe composed of just one substance, the physical substance, which exhibits two types of properties: physical and mental.

The Utter Individualists

An individualist mindset is, paradoxically, an obstacle to the development of real individualism. The man who is stirred by individualism is driven to join groups with likeminded people whose philosophy and agenda he accepts as the gospel for an individualistic way of life.

The term “individualism” (“individualisme” in French) was being contemptuously used in France in the 19th century, after the bloodbath of the French Revolution, to refer to the anarchists and socially unreliable folks. Subsequently, different forms of individualism became popular with the youth in different countries: in Germany, there was the rise of a romantic notion of individualism; in America “rugged Individualism” was extolled in the early decades of the 20th century.

After the 1950s, individualism morphed into a cultish movement—there was the rise of cults catering to the intellectual and psychological needs of youngsters who claim to be individualistic and require privacy from society. Nowadays, most individualists exist in cult like formations.

Related: On Blowhard Individualism

Sunday, 2 February 2020

On Moral Authority

Moral authority is external to the self and is vested in conventions and the religious, social, and intellectual establishments. There is no inner source of morality because all human instruments of knowledge rest on sense perception which lacks the capacity for bridging the gap between the “is” and the “ought.” Our mind may give us a clue about the “is” but to derive an “ought” from it we need to accept theories based on rationalizations and utilitarian assumptions. We develop our notions of morality through conventions and the practical experiences of living in society.

Old Habits Versus New Ideas

Old habits are stronger than new ideas—this is the rule that decides the fate of all philosophical and political movements. The philosophical and political movements which make the case that their ideas are inextricably linked to the old habits are warmly accepted by the people. Those movements which proclaim that their ideas are new or totally original are usually distrusted and shunned. The assertion of “originality” is an unintelligent strategy for a movement.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

On The Importance of Faith

Without faith knowledge is not possible. Faith does not entail just the belief in god; in my opinion, faith can also refer to the ability that we have to believe in the unproven conventions and in one’s own or someone else’s rationalizations. Faith is necessary because certain knowledge of the universe is beyond the scope of man’s mind. The metaphysical and moral theories, which form the basis of all knowledge, cannot be rationally demonstrated; they have to be founded on faith (on religious or idealistic considerations). A perfect being, or god, would not need faith because he is omniscient. Man has faith because he is not omniscient.

The Practical Politics Of Conservatives

Practical politics is not a vehicle for achieving anyone’s vision of ideal society, but rather it’s aimed at affirming and sustaining the way of life with which majority of the people are satisfied. A nation has to make progress (political and economic) at a steady pace to meet the aspirations of its population, but for the progress to be sustainable three criteria have to be met: first, the progress should not be in conflict with the nation’s cultural norms; second, the progress should happen with the agreement and participation of the people (it should never be imposed by an outside agency); third, the progress should happen at a pace that the nation’s way of life can handle. These basic principles of practical politics motivate the conservative movements in the world.