Sunday, 23 February 2020

Libertarianism: The Impossible Ideal

Libertarianism is possible only for god; if not god, then for an angelic intelligence. It’s impossible for non-divine intelligence (normal human beings). For normal human beings, time moves from the past to the future by way of the present, but the libertarians believe in the primacy of the future. Disinterested in the past and dissatisfied with the present, they pole-vault directly into the future when their ideal free society is destined to be realized. The libertarian future is perpetually in the future; it has no potential for becoming the present or the past.

Saturday, 22 February 2020

John Gray On Isaiah Berlin's Thought

On The Wise Man Of Philosophy

Much of philosophy is a theology; however, its god is the wise man. The problem is that the wise man of philosophy is yet to be discovered—perhaps he is yet to arrive.

On The Laws Of Morality

It’s in man’s nature to be skeptical on moral issues with respect to his temporal existence. The man who claims that he has always been moral in life is not only a liar but also lacking in moral standards. There is no chance of men being perfectly moral because the human mind is incapable of comprehending the origin and scope of the laws of morality. The moral theories of the world prove the impossibility of people writing them down at any point of time—moral theories explain every action of man except the actions that man may undertake to write the laws of morality.

Friday, 21 February 2020

On Three Types of Progress

Progress in philosophy means theological progress (quest for ultimate truth and certainty). Progress in science means material progress (creation of material things). Progress in politics means anthropological progress (development of modes of human relationships).

The Five Pillars Of A Good Nation

Liberty and free markets are not the “cause” of a good nation; they are the “effect” of a good nation. This conception entails the very important consequence: You cannot make a convincing case for liberty and free markets by philosophizing directly about these two concepts. The ideas of liberty and free markets make sense only when a good nation is already in existence. You have to begin by making a case for the five pillars which support the edifice of a good nation. The five pillars are culture, religion (theological philosophy), history, nationalism, and patriotism. Once these five pillars have energized the political community, and a nation has been formed, not only liberty and free markets but also other good things will automatically follow.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Ordinary Intuitions Are Often Wrong

Natural rights is not a naturalistic theory. Individualism is not an individualistic theory. Atheism is not an atheistic theory. Empiricism is not an empirical theory. Liberalism is not a liberal theory. The ordinary intuitions are often wrong.

Why Beauty Matters? Roger Scruton

I just finished reading Roger Scruton’s book Beauty: A Very Short Introduction. What I find noteworthy in this book is the idea that the sense of beauty is something that we acquire through our traditions and culture and then pass on. A judgement about beauty is, in essence, a quest for consensus in a community. Scruton’s conservatism is not devoted solely to politics; it has implications for beauty, art, and truth. He has also presented a hour long video titled Why Beauty Matters. However, I found the book to be better than his video:

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

The Implications Of The Meaning Of “The”

The essay whose primary subject matter is the tiny word “the” is perhaps the most famous essay of the first half of 20th century. I am talking about Bertrand Russell’s essay, “On Denoting,” in which he talks about the philosophical implications of the meaning of the word “the.” First published in the journal Mind in 1905, this essay inspired the agenda of the Analytic Philosophy movement in the next 50 years. Much of what Russell says has been refuted, and Analytic Philosophy got mired in unresolvable disputes, but the essay is worth reading. In 1950, P. F. Strawson published the essay, “On Referring,” which is a critique of Russell’s essay. Strawson’s essay too is of great interest, though it’s not as popular as the theory that it tried to challenge.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

The Optimism Of Theism

Atheism, which implies materialism, is the philosophy of pessimism—the atheists believe that one day the sun will turn into a supernova and all the planets in the solar system will be obliterated, with that will vanish all trace of mankind. But theism, which implies spiritualism, is the philosophy of optimism—it gives us the hope that even if the sun is destroyed, by god’s blessings mankind may survive and even if mankind goes out of existence, the memories of our achievements will be somehow preserved, if only in the mind of god.

The Self-Delusion Of The Individualists

Individualism can be used to defend the worst forms of collectivism. A self-proclaimed individualist can join any totalitarian movement or cult and claim that he is exercising his “rational” and “independent” judgement. Individualists becoming the followers of a collective in the name of individualism is the irony of all ironies.

The individualistic philosophies have been developed by mediocre philosophers—there is no merit in them, but their followers accept their teachings as fundamental truths which have no need for re-examination. A typical movement of individualists exercises more control over its members than the movements accused of being collectivist.

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.

Friday, 31 January 2020

Burke’s Case Against Natural Rights

Man’s rights are not natural; they are manmade and hard-earned. The idea of natural rights is an idealistic abstraction which is incoherent in face of the practical realities of the world. In his Refections on the Revolution in France (1790), Edmund Burke notes that conventions—and not nature—are the basis of the real rights for man. This implies that man cannot enjoy rights in every nation—the rights are specific to those nations which possess healthy philosophical and political conventions. Burke argues that since the rights are conventional, they are incapable of rational demonstration. Man’s rights can be founded on historical fictions—what matters is that they should be widely accepted and that they should work. He warns that if the conventional basis of man’s rights is discarded, then the alternative will be “rule of reason” which means a rule by abstract principle, and that, he asserts, always devolves into a rule by brute force and great violence.

Every Gain Entails Some Loss

Every gain entails some loss—this is the law of the world in which human beings exist. A total or perfect gain in any intellectual, political, or material activity is unattainable. But this implies that man is incapable of creating a perfect civilization in which man may achieve his full potentialities—the idea of a manmade earthly heaven is a utopian dream. Whenever a civilization makes a gain in one area, it’s beset with loss in another area. A civilization can succeed in some of the things, but no civilization can succeed in everything. Nature, in its infinite wisdom, has not equipped mankind with the faculties for creating a civilization free of contradictions and conflicts.

Thursday, 30 January 2020

On Blowhard Individualism

The irony is that every individualist is a member of some group; everything that he says or does, either consciously or subconsciously, expresses the philosophy and aspirations of the group to which he belongs. He is united in common action with other members of the group—they think that they exist for their own sake, but they exist for the sake of promoting the group’s agenda. To an extent, modern individualism is a farce because most individualists are dissociated from reality; they live in a make-believe world created by their group.

Related: The Utter Individualists

On The Nationalist Revolt

Nationalism is the political response of a wounded people. People are made miserable not only by poverty, lack of amenities, and endless wars but also when their culture and religion are despised; when their ancestors and the founders of their nation are branded as tyrants and bigots; when they are falsely accused of being misfits, racists, and anti-modernists; when their way of life is attacked. At the heart of the nationalist movements which are currently surging through several nations in Europe, North America, and Asia is the story of the wounds that the liberal politicians and intellectuals have inflicted on the people. Today’s nationalism is a revolt against the liberal vision of the ideal man and ideal society.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

On The Myth Of Choice

The choices that others make for us and the factors related to destiny or chance play a much greater role in determining our life than the choices that we ourselves make. We don’t get to choose the time and the place of our birth or our parents. We don’t get to choose our religion, culture, and race. Our parents or guardians are responsible for our initial schooling, our first language, the habits that we pick up in the formative years of our lives. Even in the later stages of our life there are several things over which we have no control. The decisions that the politicians and big businessmen make can have a far greater impact on our life than any choice that we ourselves make.

On The Normality Of Contradictions

The contradictions between “fact and value”, “is and ought”, “reason and emotion”, “thought and action”, and “judgement and commitment” can never be perfectly resolved. The self-intoxicated philosophers, who preach that man must achieve unity between these things, have an incorrect view of mankind—they seem to believe that people possess a superhuman capacity for adhering to abstract moral principles.

The pursuit of unity is futile because people don’t possess superhuman capacities; our mind is a welter of contradictions which make it impossible for us to achieve ideal moral goals. When life pushes us into situations where our general moral principles come into conflict with our particular problems, our focus is on first of all solving our particular problems. There is nothing wrong in having contradictions in the mind because this is mankind’s natural state.

There has never been a genius whose mind is not rife with contradictions, and there has never been a philosophy that doesn’t lead to contradictory conclusions.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

On The Possibility of Knowledge

The particular things in the visible universe can be investigated by using logic, mathematics, science, and philosophy, but that does not necessarily imply that the disciplines of mankind are applicable to the universe as a whole. It’s a mark of hubris to expect the universe as a whole to be logical, mathematical, scientific, and philosophical. By imposing mankind’s disciples on the universe as a whole we may never attain the answers that we seek on the fundamental nature of the universe. It’s possible that the universe as a whole is meant to be deduced through disciplines which lie beyond the pale of the present state of the human mind—these disciplines would be non-logical, non-mathematical, non-scientific, and non-philosophical.

On The Armed Prophets

Nations get ripped apart by revolutionary upheavals when there is a confluence of dialectical forces; forces which involve elements of both idealism and reality. The central characters in the revolutionary drama are the armed prophets: the brilliant philosophers who possess great political skill. They have the skill for arousing the masses, leading armies, and their political activity is fuelled by a utopian vision of how society should be organized and humanity should live. The philosophers with an army or angry mob at their back can upend any nation—the politics of several nations in the last 200 years has been dominated by such armed prophets. People should be wary of politicians with strong philosophical opinions.

Monday, 27 January 2020

The Story of a Civilization

The story of a civilization is not a novel—it’s an anthology of short stories, many of which are unconnected with each other. A vast array of manmade, natural, and chance related events and factors play a role in the rise and fall of a civilization. No philosopher or historian can faithfully capture the cause and the consequence of these events and factors. To have a modicum of understanding of a civilization, you have to examine not only its books of history and philosophy but also the symbols that enable its people to identify with their civilization: their politics, religion, rituals, legends, art, and even their language, economy, and science.

Philosophy and Science

Philosophy seeks certainty; science seeks empirical facts. The truths of philosophy are the rules of the mind; the truths of science are the rules of causality and materiality. The positions of philosophy are contextual; the facts of science are eternal. Philosophy is often historicist; science is free of the historical context.

Sunday, 26 January 2020

On The Importance of Attacks and Refutations

To say that a philosophy is not good because it has been refuted is like saying that the soccer game was pointless because neither team scored a goal despite playing very hard. All the important philosophies in the world have been attacked and refuted several times—but that has actually strengthened these philosophies, enabling them to dominate our culture and politics. Philosophical criticism makes a philosophy relevant by placing it in the historical context. The worst thing that can happen to a philosophy is neglect by other schools. For instance, the 20th century philosophy of Existentialism became popular in the 1960s when Jean-Paul Sartre was at the peak of his career, but after the 1980s, the philosophers started ignoring Sartre and that pushed Existentialism into oblivion.

Free Will and Morality

Free will can be examined in two ways: first, we can examine the freedoms that a man requires to be free of all constraints; second, we can examine the freedoms he requires to be held morally responsible. The first criteria leads to a barbarian conception of man and the second criteria leads to a civilized conception. There is no evidence of the existence of free will, but if it exists, then it must be related to the flow of man’s moral principles. Freedom is good, but over-freedom—or freedom from all moral, social, and religious constraints—has negative consequences; it’s a form of barbarism.

Saturday, 25 January 2020

On The Theistic Hopes Of Atheism

Anyone can give up god and religion and become an atheist, but it’s not possible for man to give up his theistic hopes. The nihilism, immoralism, libertinism, and utopianism that is often found in the leaders and members of the atheistic movements is an outcome of their unfulfilled desire for a theistic paradise in the material world. Atheism is not a rebellion against god and religion—it is a project to create new earthly religions and gods, and to turn the earth into a theistic paradise. When this project fails, as it bound to fail because its ends are unachievable, the atheists react by discarding all values.

Conservatives Versus Liberals

The energy of a conservative is directed inwards—his mindset is traditional, practical, isolationist, and nationalist. The energy of a liberal is directed outwards—his mindset is alienated, utopian, expansionist, and globalist. When the major nations of the world are being ruled by conservative governments, there is less likelihood of a great war breaking out because the conservatives prefer to focus on their own nation. But when the major nations are under liberal control, a great war becomes possible because the liberals focus on minding the business of other nations.

Friday, 24 January 2020

The Gap Between Libertarians And Real People

Real people battle with the real problems which they confront in the real world—the libertarian scholars, on the other hand, dwell in an abstract reality where they contemplate an idealistic worldview. The gap between the political opinions of the real people and the libertarian scholars is unbridgeable.

The politics of the real people is focused on resolving short-term political concerns, because they fear that if these concerns are not addressed their life will become much harder. The libertarians in their abstract world tend to focus on longterm plans; their plans can even be utopian—having a stateless society, a global free market, a world free of wars—all of which will never be achieved.

The libertarians have good intentions, but the character of their intentions is irrelevant to the real people who are desperate for concrete solutions to their political problems. The real people tend to gravitate towards real world movements like that of the conservatives who speak in a language that the real people can understand.

In Defense of Irrationalities And Fantasies

Reason is an uncertain attribute. When you become obsessed with following the rules of reason preached by some self-proclaimed rational philosopher, you squander a part of your intellect and creativity. A stickler for reason is incapable of optimizing his chances in the marketplace of ideas because his thinking is too dull, banal, and rigid. Intelligence and creativity walk in tandem with imagination and fantasy.

When we examine the life of the world’s great creative thinkers, we find that while being capable of rational thinking, they are equally at home in the domain of fantasies and irrationalities. Giving vent to some fantasies and irrationalities from time to time is actually good for a man—it broadens the horizons of the mind, energizes the psyche, fuels creativity, encourages innovation, and inculcates hope and courage.

Thursday, 23 January 2020

On The Problem of Free Will

Free will can be described as free only if there is the possibility of it to be enslaved. If nature has created free will with the objective of it being free, then free will is not actually free because it is determined by nature to be free. Liberty means absence of external restraint; it does not mean that free will is uncaused. In a causally determined universe, free will can be caused by internal factors but this means that it is causally determined. However, if our choices are uncaused, then our actions will be unpredictable and, that will imply that the impulses of free will are impossible to morally evaluate.

On The Myth Of Man's Rationality

The philosophers define man as a rational creature, and yet the same philosophers thunder that their intellectual opponents are irrational creatures. I think, “rational” is not an objective term; it’s a relative term. When someone says that men are rational creatures, then you have the right to demand, “Rational, compared to what?” If we are rational compared to the chimpanzees, wildebeest, lions, cats, and dogs, then that does not inspire much confidence in the quality of the human mind. Man cannot be defined as a rational creature because we have a massive drive to act in an irrational manner. Philosophers ought to know this—much of metaphysics and ethics is highly speculative and irrational. A better definition would be that man is the only creature with the capacity for faith.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

The Intellectual Infirmity Of Philosophical Movements

People join philosophical movements for the same reason for which they may join groups like Weight Watchers, Alcoholics Anonymous, or a Health Club and even a cult of fanatics—they are in need of group therapy. They have lost confidence in their own mind, they find themselves helpless against whatever vice they think they are plagued with—the vice can be irrational or immoral philosophy, alcohol, overweight, bad health, or something else. They want to belong to a group where they can find people who will influence them into transforming their thinking and psychology. Joining a philosophical movement is the sign of intellectual infirmity and collectivist psychology—it is never a sign of intellectual strength and individualism.

On The Kindness Of Conservatism

The political forces which perform great acts of kindness are seldom forgiven by the intellectuals. The conservatives are categorized by the intellectuals as a barbaric, fascist, and racist force, but the condition of the poor and the minorities is far better in the nations with healthy conservative movements than in the liberal nations. No one can judge a political system but one who has himself experienced the political system—the best defense of conservatism is that the ordinary people, who have experienced it, like it. The intellectuals are the drummer boys of falsehoods—it’s safe to ignore their opinions.

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

On The Non-Eternality Of The Universe

If the universe is eternal, then there is no necessity for an ultimate mover or a creator demiurge because everything in the universe has always existed and is transforming and moving in accordance with the laws of physics. But the universe cannot be eternal because it does not contain any component part that does not undergo transformation. From common sense experience we know that all things which undergo transformation are either material or mental and have a beginning and an end. If everything in the universe is undergoing transformation, then the quality of eternality cannot be attributed to the universe as a whole. The universe must have a beginning, and if it has a beginning, then it’s logical to believe that there is a creator involved.

The Democratic Life of Socrates

There is a contradiction between the political views of Socrates and his way of life. In Plato’s Republic, he talks about five types of states: first, Aristocracy, or a state ruled by the best man or best men; second, timocracy, or a state ruled by men of honor and ambition; third, oligarchy, or a state ruled by the moneyed class; fourth, democracy, or a state ruled by free people; fifth, tyranny or a state ruled by a totally unjust man. In his hierarchy of different types of states, democracy is awarded a lowly fourth position, but in his own life, he shows a preference for the democratic state. Unlike Plato and Aristotle, he never ventures out of democratic Athens—his entire life is spent in the city-state. He eagerly fights for Athens in wars, and when an Athenian jury sentences him to death, he does not oppose the verdict. His pupils advise him to flee and save his life, but in deference to the Athenian laws, Socrates quietly accepts his fate.

Monday, 20 January 2020

On Metaphysical Propositions

Philosophy, unlike science, is never fully rational and cannot be founded on purely empirical evidence. Every philosophy assumes certain basic facts which cannot be proved or disproved on the basis of existing knowledge. These basic facts are mostly the metaphysical presuppositions (also known as axioms) which can be based on theological or atheistic rationalizations. Without such presuppositions or axioms, no philosophy is possible.

The Necessity Of Conservatism

The avalanche of highbrow books on liberty and free markets can be best understood as a sign that no one has gotten to the heart the matter, or that the truth about the matter is so ungainly or politically incorrect that no one wants to acknowledge it. Here’s the ungainly truth: liberty and free markets can be found only in the nations which are rooted in solid culture, positive sense of history, and religious morality, and where the politics is dominated by a conservative political movement. In other words, liberty and free markets are an outcome of the conservative way of life. If conservatism is lost, liberty and free markets will become extinct.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Nonsense Can Establish Sense

Nonsense is not always wasteful and destructive—the history of past 3000 years is replete with instances of sense being established through nonsense.

The cosmology of Homer and Hesiod was nonsense, but their legends played a seminal role in the evolution of Ancient Greek culture and philosophy. In their search for a method of turning base metals into gold, the alchemists of the Middle Ages discovered several important facts of chemistry. In 13th century, Thomas Aquinas wanted to prove the existence of god but his efforts led to the rise of Aristotelian philosophy in Europe. In the 17th century, the scientists trying to prove the phlogiston theory of combustion managed to discover oxygen. The quest for the mythical golden city of El Dorado inspired the Spaniards in the 16th century to undertake risky expeditions to South America. The quest for the mythical island of Terra Australis inspired the exploration of the Southern Hemisphere between the 15th and 18th centuries.

Human beings make their greatest achievements when they work for some purpose—it doesn’t matter whether the purpose is sensible or nonsensical. People often get inspired by nonsensical ideas to take great risks and make great sacrifices which lead to great achievements.

Saturday, 18 January 2020

On The Dogma Of Individualism

When a philosophy movement takes individualism as its driving principle, it becomes the preacher of a new form of conformism which regards individualism as a dogma. Its followers are convinced that by conforming with the thinking of their movement’s philosophy and groupthink they are furnishing the ultimate proof of their individualism. No amount of evidence or arguments is sufficient to dispel their illusion of being individualists.

The Kantian Bridge Between the Enlightenment and Romanticism

Immanuel Kant is a transitional figure between the Enlightenment and German Romanticism. With his philosophy, he completed the Enlightenment, but he also served as an inspiration for the German Romantics, who undermined the Enlightenment by rejecting the rationalism and scientism of the Enlightenment philosophers.

In his Critique of Pure Reason, Kant is aiming to investigate why reason, which is a success in science and mathematics, has brought skepticism and disagreements on the questions of metaphysics, religion, and ethics. He notes that reason is successful in science and mathematics because these subjects deal with things as they appear to us (realm of appearances), not the way they really are (things in “themselves” which exist in the noumenal realm inaccessible by our senses).

Science and mathematics study a world on which our mind imposes certain forms and categories to make sense experience possible. Metaphysics, on the other hand, is beyond the bounds of reason because it deals with the noumenal world of things as they really are. The notion of the noumenal realm of things in themselves is critical for Kant’s thought in metaphysics, ethics, and religion and it inspired the German Romantic movement which was counter-Enlightenment.

Friday, 17 January 2020

Good Times are Bad Teachers

Prosperity, peace, and liberty are lousy teachers. They delude the citizens into believing that the good times will last forever and that the progress of their nation is guaranteed by a law of nature—they lead to moral decadence by creating artificial luxuries and inequalities. Progress is never guaranteed and there is no direction to history.

The Age of Reason is a Myth

Reason may enable us to make advances in science, but the dawning of an “age of reason” is not good for a nation. In the area of philosophy and politics, reason tends to breed skeptical, critical, nihilistic, and purely individualistic thinking which foments alienation, decadence, and disorder. When people march under the banner of reason, they lose their sense of traditional values, and their society is ripped apart by unrest and civil war. A rational pursuit of liberty, equality, fraternity often leads to the rise of slavery, inequalities, class conflicts—and a new barbarism. A stable society is founded on customs and mores—the forces of illusion and irrationality have as important role to play in it as the principles of rationality.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

On Human Nature And Culture

You cannot break human nature through political coercion. Human nature is largely dependent on culture, which is a product of centuries of intellectual, religious, and materialistic endeavors. It may bend when political coercion is applied, but as soon as the political coercion is removed, human nature will, like a spring, revert back to its original shape. However, human nature can be broken by attacking and transforming culture. That is why the philosophies and political movements that want to promote a different type of human beings despise the existing culture—their politics centers on erasing the old culture to make space for a new one.

On The Metaphysics Of God

Our language imposes certain logical limits to what we can think or say. Whether you are a theist or atheist, you cannot use language to express your belief or disbelief of god—at least meaningfully you can’t. When you talk about god, you are using natural means to describe an entity that transcends nature; you are using expression to describe an entity that is inexpressible; you are using conscious means to describe an entity that transcends consciousness or unconsciousness. You know in advance that you cannot succeed in describing or denying god, no one can. You can’t describe or deny an infinite entity with finite number of words. The demand for proof of god’s existence is beyond the bounds of logic.