Don’t blame the Low Man on the scapegoat

August 19, 2017 § 14 Comments

Human beings like to have explanations for why things don’t go the way they think things ought to go, and this sometimes manifests itself as scapegoating.  A scapegoat is an innocent victim who absorbs the blame for things being the way they are, even though the scapegoat is not in fact the reason for the way things are.

The Low Man, in contrast, is a person or group of people who in fact do interfere with a particular faction of liberalism’s understanding of how things ought to be, and thus must be absorbed or destroyed.  Unborn children in fact do interfere with the emancipated enfranchised feminist life plan, etc.

The concept of scapegoating is a popular explanatory trope in tradition-leaning blogs and publications, but it seems to me that it most often obscures the underlying reality rather than illuminating it.  The perception that SJW tranny freaks have of traditionalists standing in the way of their vision of the world is accurate.  They are absolutely correct that metaphysical realists and the reality in which we believe obstruct their vision of a free and equal new man, self created through reason and will, occupying a neutral and tolerant public square emancipated politically from the conflicts of tradition, nature, religion, class, etc.

SJW’s are not scapegoating metaphysical realists and the reality in which we believe. Those things in fact do stand in the way of their incoherent modernist hopes and dreams.

Dismissing leftists and SJWs and the like as scapegoaters is therefore a mistake, a mistake which obscures our ability to gain a dispassionate grasp of what they sincerely believe and how they sincerely perceive themselves.  And scapegoating theories ironically produce enough obscurity to enable right liberals to cling to their own incoherent defenses of political freedom, thus ensuring the perpetuation of liberalism.

Biting the logic bullet

August 11, 2017 § 124 Comments

In general there is a lot of resistance to morally evaluating the means we choose to accomplish our ends in their own right, independent of those ends. Modern people resist evaluating behaviors in themselves against objective moral criteria.

It is certainly true that, in order to be morally evil, a particular objective kind of behavior must actually be chosen by a moral agent in an act of the will.  It is also true that choices of behavior are preceded by the formation of interior subjective plans, intentions, mentalities, and dispositions, all of which are themselves subject to moral evaluation. Later behaviors are often preceded by earlier behaviors, carried out in preparation for the later behavior. And it is possible for a moral agent to suffer from an error of knowledge: for the person making the choice to be mistaken, to think that the kid waving a toy gun is actually a criminal waving a real gun.

A subjective error of knowledge is of course (and obviously) entirely different from the person making the choice having a malign subjective opinion that it is morally acceptable to shoot children waving toy guns. Malign subjective opinions don’t change objective moral reality. Subjective opinions don’t in themselves change objective reality at all, although disordered preferences can certainly give rise to disordered behaviors.

Once we accept the premise that good ends don’t justify evil means it follows that we must be able to morally evaluate means in themselves, independent of ends, and reject those means which are morally evil. We’ve already stipulated a good end. It further follows that we can’t start with the principle of double effect and reason our way backward from the good end to conclude that the chosen means is not evil.

The means we choose to achieve our ends must always, first, and foremost be evaluated morally in themselves, independent of those ends.

And this is a logic bullet that most people just aren’t willing to bite.

Humpty Dumpty making omelettes

July 14, 2017 § 121 Comments

Today we’ll explore another infrared pill by showing that it is impossible for authority to limit itself[1].

Post Cartesian modernity believes in matter-energy, physical laws, and an interior realm of personal experience in which each human being orchestrates the drama of his subjective life in the IMAX theater of the mind. This radical disconnect between physics and subjective experience produces a purely subjective concept of value: “is” (it is thought) cannot give rise to “ought”, so economic and moral values are merely market aggregations of subjective preferences. Arson produces value as long as the arsonists all agree that it produces value. Nietzsche informs us that God is dead, Hume insists that facts and values live in entirly distinct realms. Thus modern man finds himself in the position of believing six impossible things before breakfast, as long as he finds them subjectively pleasing.

One of modernity’s more subtle contradictory ideas, resting in the radical subjectivity of this post Cartesian picture of the world as applied to authority, is the notion that authority can limit itself.

Now there is a very banal sense in which we might say, very loosely speaking, that authority can limit itself. A good leader exercises deliberation and restraint, as some of the virtues of good leadership[2].  More accurately stated, persons who hold authority can choose different ways of governing, and of course some ways of governing are better than others given different circumstances.

But, more strictly speaking, it is impossible for authority to limit itself.  Authority does not and cannot operate on itself: authority operates on subjects, on individuals who are obligated, in context, to obey some particular assertion of authority.

As I’ve described before, authority in its essence is a capacity for someone in a position of authority to create moral obligations on the part of subjects (those subject to that authority).  When a property owner tells his guests to leave, this creates a moral obligation on their part to leave.  Whether they do or do not actually choose to leave at that point is an exercise of their free will; but what they literally cannot do, in an act of free will, is destroy the moral obligation that they have to leave once the owner has told them to leave.

Authority is distinct from material capacity to enforce authority.  An injured father in bed retains his authority over his sons irrespective of his physical ability to fetch and apply the switch to their behinds. The fact that sons might be able to avoid punishment doesn’t destroy their moral obligation to obey their father.

Now a particular father may fail to exercise his authority when he should, may act imprudently, may be lenient, may be strict, may tolerate things he shouldn’t, etc. He may even abdicate his own personal paternal authority by abandoning his family.

However, nothing that he does qua father can change the nature of the authority of fatherhood. The authority of fatherhood has a particular, given nature and scope: it is an objective reality, not something the nature of which fathers can themselves change or upon which particular fathers can place limits. That a particular father may choose to govern in a particular way doesn’t alter the nature of the authority of fatherhood, and therefore of his own authority in itself, in the slightest.

The idea that a person in a particular position of authority can choose the nature of the authority he exercises is self-negating.  If he is just making up what his authority and responsibility entail like the author of a fictional story, then his authority and responsibilities can be whatever he subjectively decides to make them. But if authority is a fiction written by the person holding it then no subject has any objectively real obligation to obey it. The existence and nature of authority must of necessity be prior to the exercise of that authority, as the nature of a man is prior to his choices and is itself unchosen by that man.  A man can pervert himself and destroy himself, but he cannot change the nature of what it is to be a man no matter how many tattoo inks and scalpels and vials of hormones he employs.

It is possible for individuals to lose (or regain, for that matter) their personal occupancy of particular positions of authority for a variety of reasons.  A property owner might sell his property, as one of an infinite number of possible examples. It is also possible for the apparatus of enforcement to be configured in a virtually infinite number of ways.

But it is not possible for individuals in positions of authority to change the nature of authority itself, any more than a scientist can change the objective nature of matter by rewriting equations.  Authority, like the good more generally, is a feature of given reality not an edifice built to conquer Heaven by the People of Babel.

A concrete real world example is the modern abortion regime.  The sovereign has the authority and concomittant responsibility to treat murder as the crime that it is in fact, and to enforce the law against murder to the extent possible. Liberals pretend that the sovereign is merely ‘limiting himself’ when in the name of freedom and equality of rights he issues legal warrant to murder the weak and defenseless and enforces that warrant. But this regime of putatively ‘self limiting authority’ doesn’t in fact limit the actual authority (and concomitant responsibility) of the sovereign.  Sociopathic exercise of authority isn’t ‘self limiting’ authority unless we are nominalists and simply define it that way by fiat.

And if we are nominalists then when we use a word it circularly means just what we say it means, nothing more, nothing less; rendering unequivocal communication, let alone understanding of reality, impossible.

A regime can pervert itself, make itself sociopathic, and even destroy itself.  But no mechanistic scheme of Man can change the nature of legitimate authority.


[1] “Impossible” here is a statement of fact, not a statement of preference.

[2] “We insist that we must have only good leaders” is a nice sentiment; but welcome to the human race.

They hate us for our unicorns

July 8, 2017 § 99 Comments

Define “unicorns” to be certain things we like about the politics of Country A, and only those things.

Define “not unicorns” to be certain things we don’t like about the politics of Country B, and only those things.

Declare that because “unicorns” as we have defined the term is perfectly coherent, a philosophy of government which pursues unicorns is perfectly coherent.

Declare that mass murder committed in Country A is not the result of pursuit of unicorns, even though the people committing the mass murder explicitly rationalize it by appealing to the pursuit-of-unicorns principle.

Have a good cry when Zippy points out that there are no unicorns.

Isn’t nominalism fun?

Gay racists in Hell

April 17, 2017 § 27 Comments

I’d be the first to admit – nay, I’d strongly assert – that there is no satisfactory comprehensive theory of the essence-accident distinction. On the other hand we can’t really even have a coherent conversation about basic matters like ‘what is a defect?’ without some metaphysical common ground.

But there is no need to make things too complicated. At the level of essence human beings are the same: we all are essentially human beings: not beasts, not rocks, not moss, not stars, not angels, but human beings.

My own belief is that sex is also essential: that is, that “Martha who is not female” isn’t really Martha. Attempts to de-sex Martha fail at the level of necessity: if “she” isn’t a she, we aren’t actually talking about the actual Martha.  We are writing Martha fan fiction.

(I’ve been accused of having Scotist tendencies for this sort of belief.)

In a nutshell, as an analog Platonic rogue in a digital Aristotelean (hate that spelling) world I’m pretty sure that essence has ‘deeper roots’ than the perhaps oversimplified picture drawn by Aristotlean realism.

So I’m willing to consider the possibility that we use the word “race” to refer to (technically essences which underly) essential properties: that abstracting away a person’s race leaves us with an idea of ‘something’ which isn’t – the ‘something’ isn’t – really that person at all [*].  Zippy the blogger imagined as a winged unicorn in one sense does successfully refer to me, of course: but successful reference probably accomplishes substantially less than meets the modernist eye.

Given all that though is also certainly the case that race — unlike deafness or gayness — is not an ontological defect. Gayness and deafness are ontological defects; blackness and whiteness are not ontological defects. The distinction between objective goods — which may in general be essential or accidental — and defects is, um, essential to discussion of the modern tendency to assert that objective defects are principles of identity.

The reason modern folks are always attempting to make their favorite defects into principles of identity rests on a deeper commitment.  This intuitively-appealing lie is that while politics must at times (out of unhappy necessity in an otherwise live-and-let-live context) discriminate based on what people do, it must never discriminate based on what people are.  So claiming something as a part of one’s identity shields that particular thing, whatever it may be, from the reach of authority.   If voluntary acts of sodomy by the incontinent are part of the makeup of what someone is, then voluntary acts of sodomy are a human right.

I’ve even considered the possibility, given my openness to speculation about man’s own powers qua Imago Dei, that Hell is a state wherein a particular man has successfully and ineradicably incorporated an ontological defect into his own essence through his own free choices.

—-

[*]

Non theories beget non sense

April 3, 2017 § 24 Comments

Man’s true nature is that he is a creation of God, but many superficial thinkers leverage the “human nature” bit as if to say “man understood apart from the fact that he is a creature made by God”.

We can talk coherently about natural law as something which arises from man’s nature. But we can’t talk coherently about man or his nature as if they were wholly independent things which just sprang into existence without God.  The “things which sprang into existence without God” part is contrary to man’s actual nature: it is contrary to the sort of thing that man actually is in fact. It is a non-human theory of man.

More succinctly, theology is the queen of the sciences.  Anti-realist modernism rests on non-theological theories of various parts of reality: on non-reality theories of reality.

Liberalism in particular rests on an anti-anthropology all the way down, starting with its attempt to develop a political doctrine (an understanding of authority) while prescinding from religious questions.

Other non-liberal political doctrines might theoretically be developed from the same starting point, but would in the end be just as wrong: would be non-authority theories of authority.

And we all know the consequences of embracing a contradiction.

Sexual integrity as a state of mind

February 11, 2017 § 50 Comments

I recently received a Disqus notification for a comment someone left on a long forgotten discussion about the martyrdom of St. Maria Goretti:

[St. Goretti] did not die for her purity. She died for [her attacker’s] purity. Stop calling rape victims sinners. Stop committing idolatry by worshipping mere hymens. Stop allowing a demonic obsession with physical virginity to pollute you and make you a destructive force in the world. When you call rape victims sinful you’re committing an act of Satanic worship.

St. Maria Goretti is not just a martyr to purity.  In my view she is also a martyr to metaphysical realism.  If rape isn’t an objective violation of sexual integrity worth resisting when possible then why is it wrong at all?

Suppose instead of a rapist St. Goretti’s family had been attacked by marauding Barbary slavers, she had died resisting the breakup of her family, had forgiven her attackers, her attackers had later converted, etc.  Suppose the hagiography was basically the same, in other words, but the objective violation in question was different.

Years later she is canonized a saint and celebrated as a martyr to family integrity.

This leads to an annual freakout by protesting orphans and runaways, who feel aggrieved that anyone could celebrate the defense – to the death, by a saint and martyr – of family integrity.

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