The worst question that one can ask or try to answer in philosophy is the meaning of life. It is not that it is just a rhetorical, unanswerable question. In fact, the question always has an answer depending on who is giving the answer. The problem with the question is the premise of the question of meaning.
What has meaning and why? Is this an objective question or a subjective one? When we talk of meaning, we are always talking about a sreaubjective subject.
What is the meaning of love? Even if we are looking up the answer in a dictionary, the dictionary is simply giving a populist answer to a subjective question. In fact, a dictionary is just that, a collection of subjective answers to meaning.
The reason for this is that language is defined by the users of the language. Almost all languages are subjective in nature. One language that is objective is mathematics. Clear, concise rules are defined based on the fundamentals of logic, and the language of mathematics is based around it.
Mathematicians don’t sit around asking the meaning of addition. The addition sign in mathematics has very clear, precise meanings when it is used. Latin, germanic, roman, cyrillic, and every other form of human communication is based on subjective meaning. They are not clear, and are rarely precise.
Some languages have multiple words for love. Some languages have multiple words for snow and ice. The reason for this is to add more precision to a subjective language.
So, when we ask, “What is the meaning of life,” we have to ask what is meant by life. Are we asking for a definition of the word life in English? If so, are we asking about the existence of life, life in general, life on this planet or in the universe, life for all humanity for all time, life for our current time for the entire planet, life for our own culture and time, or life for ourselves personally?
The mistake that we are often making is that of trying to answer a subjective question in objective terms. If a man walks up to you and asks you, “What is the meaning of life,” we have to wonder what is really being asked.
Is the man asking what the meaning of his life is? Is he asking what the meaning of your life is? Is he asking for an answer that he can tell other people, as though there were an objective answer that can be considered the one true answer for all people we encounter?
Rather than beating around the bush, and giving examples of the obvious nature of this point, such as the meaning of life for a rural Chinese farmer being different in practical terms from the meaning of life of an American investment banker, let us first define what is usually being asked.
As we already discussed, this question remains highly subjective. But I don’t know you, so I’m not answering this question for you or even for me. What I must address in this general argument is the most general situation as it applies to humanity, which is the meaning of life for all humanity for all time.
The answer then simply goes to a oversimplified, ridiculous end. We simply look at Maslow’s pyramid of hierarchical human needs to look for some idea of the idea of meaning. For the man naked in the woods isolated from humanity, his immediate meaning is simply to find clothing, shelter, warmth, safety, and food. After that, he will look for other humans to belong to, to feel loved, and to find enlightenment.
I hate this answer though, because it tells us nothing of any value. It adds nothing to the obvious leanings of the majority of humanity. In fact, it tells us nothing different than the meaning of life for a dog left alone in the woods sniffing out food and then a pack to join.
The real answer to this question is to destroy the concept of meaning itself. We can never come to a conclusion of the meaning of the words, for we don’t even speak the same language. If you lived in my town, at my time, in similar circumstances, there is a chance that you and I can negotiate an exact, precise definition of each word, so that we had a precise understanding of the question and how to answer each other.
To do so, we must negate all other meanings of these words. And with all languages of pure logic, there will be an exact answer. And we will, like mathematics, find an equation. The equation will simply solve itself. Just as we might have a number either positive, negative, irrational, or infinite, or we might another unsolvable equation as the answer, we find that in the end, there is no debate over the meaning of life.
Instead, we have a debate or discussion of the meaning of the words forming the question. And once we arrive at those meanings, we have defined the answer itself. The debate, like this article, then revolves around other questions. What is meaning? What is what? Why are we asking what? Maybe we want to say who is the meaning of life, if we have a child we live for. Maybe we want to say when is the meaning of life, if we are thinking of a specific time such as childbirth or death when life pivots on an unalterable event.
And we think we are debating the meaning of life, but we are not. We are debating the meaning of meaning.
Why is this topic important? It is important because the meaning of life is not the only question of meaning that we ask ourselves and others.
What is the meaning of politics?
What is the meaning of society?
What is the meaning of culture?
What is the meaning of work?
What is the meaning of religion?
We are mortal creatures living in an objective universe with subjective minds trying to make objective choices about subjective perceptions.
When presented with objective perceptions and objective definitions, our subjective minds living our subjective experiences come away unsatisfied with a hollow feeling inside.
And sometimes, we look at these cold, clear, unsatisfying answers and concluding that, “Nothing really matters.”
And in a way, this is one of the few objective conclusions that our subjective minds reach. There are very few objective conclusions that we even can reach. The philosophy of negation, the wilderness of affirmation, and the protocols of the universe are another collection of objective conclusions that we can reach. None of these impose any real meaning on life.
They define bounds, limits, and logic by which we can make definite decisions. They can tell us what we shouldn’t do, but they don’t really tell us what we should do.
They, thus far, are rules of omission, not rules of inclusion. For instance, the philosophy of negation tells us that it is immoral to impose our will on someone else, to subjugate their will of negation to our will of negation.
For instance, in a basic sense, a man may walk downtown to converse with his friends. It is unjust for another man to tell him that he cannot do this.
But can we say that there is a thing that a man must do? That it is wrong to tell another man what he cannot do, so long as what the man is doing is in line with objective ethics, is objective. But can an objective ethic compel a man to do anything?
There are two answers to this question, both of which tell us that no objective ethic can compel a man to any action. The first is that objective ethics cannot contradict itself.
If a man tells his wife that she is not allowed to go out and see her friends, we can call this unethical. To oppose something unethical is not, inherently because of the opposition, unethical. How that opposition is carried out may be unethical, but the opposition itself is not. Should the woman ask a friend to come pick her up anyways, she is not imposing her will upon the husband unethically. Rather, she is supporting the ethical decision of the wife to carry out her own will.
The second answer to the question of whether or not an objective ethic can compel a man to do anything is that an objective ethic must have a universal and concise meaning.
In philosophy of negation, we established the right to say no as a universal and fundamental law because to do otherwise violates logic and the will of a sentient being. We cannot be sentient and not have the ability of refusing, even if that refusal means our own death. For we cease to exist as a sentient being whether we allow our will to be subjegated or if we end our life to escape subjugation. But in refusing, we remain sentient for the greater part of our lives.
This defines this objective ethic as having objective meaning, rather than subjective meaning. The problem with an objective ethic of compulsion is that we must define it with objective meaning.
But where shall we start? The collectivists, and today’s modern liberals, define the meaning of compulsions as the “greater good”. They form the following argument.
Let us say that you are walking by a shallow pond and you see a small child drowning. You can go in with no risk to yourself and save the child. As there is no other person around to help, you are compelled to go save the child at no cost to yourself. Except, there is a cost. You are wearing an expensive pair of shoes. There is no time to take the shoes off, and if you go in with your shoes on, they will surely be ruined. Do you still go in and save the child?
Let’s look at the situation in terms of subjective and objective. The meaning of this question is to compare the value of the life of a child to the value of the shoes. This is, of course, a loaded question based on taking a subjective judgement to a radical extreme that few humans would oppose. The conclusion is that you should be spending your money to save children rather than buying expensive shoes.
It’s a parlor trick playing on social norms. Little children’s lives are individually worth more than a single pair of shoes. It assumes that nobody would ever have reason to refuse. Here’s another:
Let’s say you are standing outside two stores with a $100 bill. The store on the left is a shoe store. The store on the right is a fast food restaurant. A grown man is standing next to you. He tells you that he hasn’t eaten in a week and has no money. He asks you for $10 to eat. But you’ve been looking at a pair of shoes for a week. The shoes will cost you exactly $100. If you give the man a meal, you will not have enough for the shoes.
Now what do you do? I’m sure you have an answer, and your answer will depend on your world view. But it really doesn’t matter what your world view is, or what your answer is, or what you would actually do. What one person would do or what a person in your culture would do doesn’t really matter.
We’re trying to determine what all of humanity should do. We’re looking for objective truth. This question has no objective answer. Possible answers would be to get the man a meal, and then buy cheaper shoes. Another answer would be to give the man all of the money so that he didn’t just eat once. Another answer would be to take the man to go down the street to ask a food pantry for help, because only someone with mental issues couldn’t figure out how to use free social services like a soup kitchen. Another answer would be to ignore the man, because he will use the money to buy alcohol and drugs, not food.
Suddenly, unlike the first parlor trick, we’ve created a situation whereby your motives aren’t black and white, where the man’s motives and honesty aren’t black and white, where there is no clear choice, and where the payoff for either person are relatively low stakes.
This situation reflects real life, unlike the former. The former situation was pulled from a whiny, bleeding heart collectivist “philosophy documentary” called Examined Life. Watching it literally made me ill to my stomach.
These mealy-mouthed suffragists offering up godless prayers of reason, from New York City mostly, were basic collectivists with no original thoughts in their empty heads, looking for justifications, any justification, for taking from one class to give to another, while still calling themselves philosophers. Some could form coherent thoughts, while others babbled out big words in attempts to sound impressive. Unfortunately for them, if you actually understand such vocabulary, you see a long line of meaningless bullshit. And worse still is that many constantly quoted other philosophers as though signifying that all that can be said has been said.
I picked out a few scraps of tin, not even gems, and of the tin were very few indeed. Even the patsy of my parlor trick pulled out a few basic philosophical questions of any value, but ones which any person over the age of 45 should be able to formulate and be called intelligent.
I found them hollow, and worse, predictable.
In total, perhaps I should blame the interviewer who seemed all too agreeable and awestruck, two completely worthless attributes for someone seeking truth or insight into the human condition via philosophy.
Why I bring this up is that they make the most fundamental flaw of any form of thinking, and then double down on it like a moron at a blackjack table in Las Vegas with a king and a queen and asking for another card.
Their flaw is that their subjective assessments, themselves, hold any value. The question of whether or not a child is worth more than a pair of shoes doesn’t answer a more fundamental question. Is there any value, what-so-ever, from even asking such a question, let alone considering it for any form of truth.
As I point out in my example, when we disengage the age aspect because humans instinctively fall all over themselves for children, and when we start engaging some doubt into the situation as life is actually to do, the decision is no longer even a subjective ethical imperative of compulsion. The “do all you can to save the thing of greater value” is meaningless when properly examined with any real evidence, and only lives in the fantasy world that all help is jumping into ponds to save small children at the mere cost of a single pair of shoes.
One does not ask how many children must we save, and should we never wear shoes, two obvious questions that would be ridiculous if not for the fact that the question that prompts this follow up is even more ridiculous.
I suggest philosophers asking stupid questions to examine social norms, relying on them rather than questioning them, to rather just call themselves by their appropriate title, be it a hack or a con man, and not a philosopher.
To hear many of them quoting Plato, Aristotle, or Socrates for support makes me question their very sanity, for clearly though they are fathers of those who started thinking, they are recognized today as idiots making shit up; as much a Freud may be the father of modern psychology, but was in truth an idiot who made shit up. The only things any of those men said that hasn’t been disproven was simply a moral platitude that was meaningless, and therefore wasn’t disprovable.
Why the hell would a modern philosopher even refer to them? Do modern psychologists who want any ounce of respect refer to Freud in any serious way, except to refute him?
It is from the well of this subjective stupidity that we are still presented the question of the meaning of life, who would expound as reverently if asked how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
There are only two types of meaning in the world, as we will cover once again. These are objective meanings and subjective meanings.
Philosophy, specifically in the area of morals and ethics can give absolutely no objective answer to subjective questions. And when it attempts to give subjective answers, it is merely creating a cottage industry for pseudo spiritualist writers and authors who contribute nothing to the world except the entertainment of their prose.
Speaking plainly, they just do it to sell books, sell their idealism, or amuse themselves at the expense of the world. They are the great bullshitters standing up with the likes of religious cult leaders. Nothing they say can be proved or disproved, but are the lowest form of debate, bringing down the great majesty of the universe down below ordinary language to a gutter language lacking any meaning whatsoever. I find them worse than a murderer, because more deaths can be accounted to bad ideas than malicious actions.
So what shall I say? I shall say that the universe provides us with a framework of objective thought and logic if we simply open our eyes to it, even through imperfect perception. If we wish to remain sentient beings, we must not violate that which creates it.
But there isn’t a single force in the universe which will force a sentient being into existence, nor force a sentient being to action, for that is a contradictory idea.
There exists not one single objective ethical imperative that one can compel a sentient being to take by inclusion, not even saving a drowning child from a pond.
It is the sentient being that must weigh the means and ends for themselves at the moment and choose. The moment a sentient being is compelled to action, they are a puppet, a tool, no more than a rock in the hands of the one directing the movements. If the one directing the movements is a subjective philosopher, then they are the sentient being pulling the strings. They, not the puppet, are the ones ascribing meaning, for meaning only comes from the act of sentient thought, which doesn’t originate from a puppet.
What of the man who ignores the drowning child? Can we call him unethical? I think that it is possible. A sentient being is welcome to make the subjective judgement.
The first thing we must say before proceeding is that ethics has no place in judging the value of two different compelled actions, because that’s what these questions come down to.
We have a range of options, and one is chosen because it is deemed better. Many would save the child, but if given two children the decision is harder. Your child and a stranger, a stranger child and a neighbor child, an older child and a younger child. These are no longer black and white choices or silly questions about shoes.
So, we can’t compel a sentient being towards action. What is left? What is left is to convince a sentient being to a method of thinking.
What I am arguing is not that we shouldn’t save drowning children. If I personally saw a child drowning, I would attempt to save the child even at great risk to myself. What I am arguing against with a fervour are the two viewpoints of compulsion, collectivism and Kant’s alternate idea of duty.
Collectivists will argue, as in the case of the shoes, that the right thing for me to do in society is to spend a portion or all of my excess money to help out the less fortunate. And within myself, there is a small voice whispering in my ear saying, “Tell the collectivists to go fuck themselves.”
I think this is the voice of the greatest philosopher in history. It has boiled down the collectivist refutation argument into a solid objective action. The collectivists shall go fucketh themselves.
Why? Because I’m a selfish, sentient, bastard. I don’t give one damn about a greater good. In fact, you don’t either. The main reason humans ever give to charity is the selfish feeling of pride and warmth we get in giving. Anyone who has the tiniest clue about charitable fundraising knows this. You don’t tell a potential donor how much they’ll help a child. You tell them how awesome they’ll feel when they help a child.
And I suspect that this goes even further and pollutes the so called “purity” of collectivist thinking. Rather than thinking that we can do more good, they simply want less of the burden on their own shoulders. Ironically, when I see collectivists talking about sacrificing fancy leather shoes for children’s lives, I rarely see them walking around in rags living out their philosophy.
There’s nothing so worthless as a hypocritical philosopher. They can’t even convince themselves of their own bullshit.
On the other side of this, we have Kant’s Categorical Imperative. Kant gives us the ultimate argument for why there are absolutist values in the world. He argues that he has a method for determining duties which all men must be compelled by duty to follow.
As an example, he argues we must be honest. He further argues that it is only ethical if done for duty, and not for personal gain or other reasons.
Kant had a couple interesting ideas. He is the one that brings up the concept of using logic to determine objective ethics. I would call Kant the father of objective ethics, even if he was completely wrong. The mistake he made was in looking at ethics of inclusion, not ethics of omission.
It’s hard to blame him, though, because we often think of ethics as things we must do, not things we must not do. Just as Descartes started with the right premise, and then went astray into a land of bullshit, Kant makes the same mistake.
He starts with a wonderful premise. There are universal morals, or what we would call ethics today. Coming to a defensible conclusion about universal ethics is a bit of a holy grail. Kant, unfortunately suffered from imperfect perception.
It’s hard not to read Kant and see that what he was doing was trying to justify or recreate ethics in the absence of a God or a church dictating them. It’s obvious that he wanted to use logic to prove that these things were right, and to do so without relying on consequentialist thinking which he rightly points out is very lazy thinking and can be used to justify horrific means of exploiting people.
I often think that what Kant is trying to prove is that it is no good to build a hospital if you hold a gun to the heads of slaves to do it. And I think he was tired of hearing this reasoning, that justifies force and all kinds of inhumane acts in order to carry out supposed justified ends.
And I think his main opponent was government not society.
So, while Kant idiotically defended his points even when shown that his examples were full of holes, he had started by thinking correctly.
The same is true of Descartes. He reasoned correctly about the existence of Universal Protocols. He thought, therefore he knew he existed, even if he couldn’t prove his existence to others, nor prove the existence of others. Where he made his mistake is getting pulled into a debate about whether or not an all powerful force of evil was skewing his perception, thus making everything unknowable in the absolute objective sense.
The error Descartes makes is in short cutting reality by having to introduce a perfect being. The error plays out in the fact that Descartes tries to assume that there are any objective viewers of the universe. He dismisses logic at that point, exits the exploration of his own reasoning, and like Kant, goes off to defend a land of candy canes and bullshit.
While I claim to absolute perception nor perfect logic, I stand my ground on those things which are knowably known, which admitting what is knowably unknown, the unknowably unknown, and the unknowably known.
In other words, we work with imperfect knowledge, and we must acknowledge this first, and work with only what can be known in the most objective and absolute sense.
And the only conclusion that I have drawn, so far lacking further knowledge, is that there are a set of Kant-like Categorical Imperatives that exist in logic, but that they are of a nature that Kant never fully considered and missed.
Thus, we acknowledge first acknowledge the Universal Protocols that Descartes first unearthed from pure reason. Second, we acknowledge the Axioms and Obligations that Kant first theorized about, but never found. We ignore Descartes’ conclusions at the point where he abandons pure logic. And we ignore Kant’s conclusions at the point where he fails to recognize the shortcomings of his examples.
Had Kant started with negation as a Categorical Imperative, he would have come to the conclusion that I have, and had safe ground from which to debate. But, he would have also had to reject all affirmation Categorical Imperatives as being contradictory to those of negation.
And I think so many will fail to understand this point.
I think many will fail to understand why we can’t have both.
I think that many will think that there must be some affirmations, and try to modify what I’ve written to include them. They must realize that I reject all of them as imperatives! We must! Any imperative which compels a man to action must absolutely contradict the right of all men to refuse anything they wish to refuse!
Will people reading this understand that the moment that I am compelled by you to take any action against my will, I am no longer a sentient being, but your puppet, your hostage, your slave. I am no more than the rock in your hand being thrown.
How can I be certain that there can be no affirmation imperative, not a single one? Because all of them, by logic of them being an imperative are a compulsion. The only compulsion which negation has can be stated like a commandment, “Thou shalt not negate the will of another.”
You retain full autonomy, until you wish to compel another to action, to remove their autonomy. This is the single, solitary limit on humanity from an objective ethical point of view.
If I tell you that you must tell the truth, I’m subjugating your will to decide. If I tell you that you must save the drowning child, I’m subjugating your will to decide. If I tell you that you must give your money to the poor, I’m subjugating your will to decide.
So, am I subjugating your will by telling you that you may not subjugate the will of others? No. I’m defending your right not to be subjugated. The will has free reign in the world, but only over itself and the free world and the objects therein. What no will has free reign over are the other wills in the world.
Each will of each person is as a sovereign nation. And that sovereign nation may do anything it wishes either within its own borders, or within a wilderness where no other will exists. Perhaps Benjamin Franklin was not a great philosopher, yet he came to this conclusion as easily as a bird lands to a pile of birdseed. He told us that the right to swing your fist ends at the tip of another man’s nose.
Thus, the philosophy of negation does not give your will free reign over the entire universe, but preserves it as a sovereign will. It imposes the clear boundaries of reality, and crosses over all philosophies by not falling prey to ethnocentrism, for it rises above ethnocentrism and justifies itself in pure logic.
No sentient being can exist except when free of subjugation to another will. The moment a will is subjugated, sentience ceases to be. A mind not free to think, does not think. Thinking ceases. The mind ceases. One is no more than a head of cattle at that point, and one’s humanity ceases.
Let those that want imperatives against letting children drown train packs of dogs to run around pulling people from water. I am a human, and I shall decide for myself!
Where I have a pair of shoes to buy, I will buy them. And where a man is starving, I shall not be compelled to be his slave and surrender my resources to him.
And yet, I have taken on the role of a surrogate by my own decision and my own affirmation. I have a son, and I have voluntarily taken it upon myself to raise and protect this child. So that if this child falls into the water, I will dive in without hesitation even at the risk of my own life to save him. For I am a man of free will and entered into this contract, not with him, but with myself. I said of myself, to myself, in agreement with myself, that I shall do this for the benefit of myself, for my own motivations, that I will give my own affirmations, to take this obligation upon myself.
My son does not impose on me anymore than a stranger will impose on me.
For I draw the conclusion that contracts are only properly made with one’s self, and not with another. I agree to do work for my own benefit. I care not the benefit of the other, so long as I do not subjugate their will to mine except in incapacity whereby my existence is tied with them through my voluntary consent. I accept my son as subjugated to me, and in that I accept the role as surrogate, for it benefitted me to bring him into this world and raise him, and was meaningful and good for me to do so by my own reason to my own motivations.
I did not bring my son into this world for the benefit of the world, nor even the benefit of my son so far as it did not benefit me as well.
Am I compelled to raise him? Absolutely not! No man can force me to work and to feed my son by force, for I can sit on a bench and refuse movement even unto death. And yet, I still raise him? To have the right of refusal means that I as a sentient being chose what to refuse and what not to refuse. It doesn’t impose upon me a duty to refuse all things.
A thing which refuses all things is not a sentient being. I do not prove my sentience by refusing to feed my son. Such is a monster that thinks that way. But so is it a monster that proves its ethical worth by not refusing to feed their children. What proves its ethical worth is that which is able to be sentient.
To think critically, to understand correlation and causation, to understand cause and effect, to understand rights and compulsions, to understand the difference between action and inaction, to honor the contract with one’s self, to be a sovereign mind in this universe, that is what is of ethical worth!
Shall I then be compelled to feed all of the children of the world because this act is inherently good? This is nonsense. Let someone construct an army of farmer robots to grow, harvest, and shove food into the mouths of children and let them not violate my sentience. For at least in this way, they will not be violating the children with similar compulsion when they grow up.
For what good is it for me to feed a child who is destined to be a slave in chains standing beside me compelled against its own will, too? Shall I help the moral dictators of this world raise up more slaves? Is this the moral good and ethical worth some speak of?
And yet, do I condone that which others call the evil of the day, the ignoring of the plight of my fellow man when they suffer?
Here, I shall make a bold argument which the fools of philosophy have never realized in ten thousand years. Those who feel the need to make compulsory ethics of doing good, and negate the right of negation, do the world’s greatest evil.
They negate the ethical worth of a rational mind. They assume that unless they tell me what I must do, that I will do nothing. This is in essence saying that they are the true men of reason, and I am but a dog that needs their instruction or mankind will return to picking grubs out of the mud!
What incredulity shown towards my own rational mind!
That there exists no valid ethical justification for forcing me to feed a starving child, they assume the child will not get fed. That there exists no valid ethical justification for forcing me to save a drowning child, they assume the child will drown.
They point to the fact that I have, and so many have not. Yet in their limit logic and emotional appeal, do they not ignore that the only reason that I or any other has anything is that we have not given it all up to feed a few for a short time?
Do they not realize that if we all live in rags, and feed the hungry everywhere, that the resources are finite and will run out? And then they who were starving will return to starving, and we will have nothing left but rags to give them until we are also starving!
Such arrogance and stupidity!
For there will always be the starving. And such as humanity has ever wished to help, it has helped. But one only needs look the history of China, Russia, and North Korea to see the stupidity of a the moral law of need.
We stop buying shoes, and then the shoe makers are starving as well. And we must give them alms of money and get nothing in return, rather than getting a nice pair of shoes in return. We stop buying homes, and the construction workers starve, and must get alms as well.
These blind prophets of anti-greed imposing upon us the morality of the greater good exists today, in my time, in the middle of a slowly recovering financial meltdown and has the audacity to tell us that if we purchase even less, and give to the poor, we will all be better off.
If you follow their logic, we will all be starving, and back to picking grubs out of mud for survival.
Anyone who has the slightest bit of logic can understand this argument. Would you rather give a starving man a meal or a paying job? And if you would rather give him a paying job, how shall you do so unless someone is willing to pay for his service?
So let me give you another scenario, to expose the parlor trick of these fools who argue against logic:
Let us say that you are handed a letter and a picture of a starving village in a third world country. In the letter, a child writes of his plight and asks you for money. If you give $40 per month, you can feed the child and his entire family of 5 for the month on $20, while another $20 goes to the charity for supporting fundraising.
Now, before you decide, let’s look at the shoes you are wearing. You spend $40 a month on a new pair of designer shoes. It turns out that these shoes are made in a village right next to the starving village. Of the $40 you spend, $20 makes it back to the worker.
Moral decision time, should you stop buying the shoes and give the alms to the child in the letter?
If you choose to stop spending the money, the shoe producer fires one worker, and that family is now starving. However, if you buy more shoes, the factory may have to hire workers from the village next store.
I find some things in life purely indefensible bullshit.
We want to shut down third world sweatshops, but I never hear what the workers will do with no job.
I find this debate similar with those who are anti-abortion yet pro-death penalty. And who are their opponents? Those who are pro-abortion yet anti-death penalty! And such beings walk around with these logical inconsistencies all the time.
Sweatshops are bad for workers, but jobs are good for families. Children are starving, yet their families work for pennies because we purchase luxury items like t-shirts from large box stores. Shall we stop buying the clothing? How does this help the child? We give to charity, but for what? Does this create a sustainable job for the child when it grows up so that poverty can end?
I do not propose answers, but I do propose we as sentient beings actually ask these questions.
We send in the Red Cross when maybe we should also be sending in Starbucks. We hear so many arguments to save life, but few on sustaining it. And of those organizations truly dedicated to sustaining it, they get very little time in our public media.
We rush in to earthquake victims, forgetting that the reason they really need help is that they lived in shanty towns which crumbled immediately when disaster struck.
I find such short sighted sentient beings as ourselves to be complete buffoons in the face of real need and real change. We can’t plan our own week, let alone how to change an entire society.
We are short sighted, mindless, reactionary dogs ready to bark at every loud noise.
What then is my purpose? What is the life in the meaning? Forget the meaning of life. I need no meaning for my life except to satisfy my own motives which come from within and from without, but are filtered by my tuned sentient mind geared towards ethics.
The philosophy of negation is much like the hippocratic oath. First, do no harm!
After that, let us use reason and democracy insofar as we chose to participate in it. And let those who do not, do not. We gain nothing but our own self destruction when we violate the choice not to participate. We shall not win freedom by enlisting the help of slaves!
So, first, do no harm. And then, we are not left with compulsion, but with sales. Can you convince me to act in a way that is beneficial to your motives?
That depends. In explaining the concept of democracy, I realize how imperfect it is and that I must enter a system with idiots. Yet, the only alternative is to violate the will of idiots. I therefore choose to enter into democracy with idiots and give my time and resources to education. For I was born an idiot, with no knowledge of the world. Only through education did that situation change.
But if I choose to support a dictator, then my own will is subjugated along with that of a common fool, and I suffer the loss of my own will. I choose, selfishly, to support democracy with its imperfection rather than live as a slave. Putting up with fools is unavoidable in either case, yet I retain my own freedom to its maximum extent with democracy.
I encourage all fools to stay out of the election process. So, do not cast me as a loyal and patriotic American. I will sell my own ideas to my own benefit of my motives. While all may have a right, I will smile and encourage the fool to stay home and drink into a stupor on election day.
All we are left with, in this small example, is a marketplace of affirmation. It is surrounded by booths of vendors trying to sell us on ideas and ideals. Support the fight against global warming, support the fight to save the whales, support gun rights, support gun control, support abortion rights, support outlawing abortion, support the death penalty, support abolishing the death penalty, support legalizing marijuana, support criminalizing marijuana.
Each of these causes is free to market and sell their ideas, just like a fine pair of leather shoes in a shop window. And I am free to buy into them, or tell them to piss off and leave me alone. And for me personally, the only way they will convince me is by appealing to fulfilling my own motivations.
Ayn Rand was a real bitch, but she wasn’t completely wrong. She was a horrible racist and bigot, but she had one thing right and that is the only ethical way to move anyone to action is to appeal to their motivations, not through compulsion or force.
In this, objectivism and libertarianism is correct in that they honor the right of negation. However, they do so while making three fatal flaws. The first flaw is in assuming the right of negation extends to all property. The second flaw is in assuming that contracts exist between people. And the third flaw is in assuming that the only fair means of trade is in the use of a coin of tender.
Let me attack and refute all of these from the logic of the philosophy of negation. Let’s start with contracts.
A contract doesn’t exist between two people, ever. There is no voluntary giving up of the right of negation to another person. A contract between two people would be the same as saying that we sell our right of negation to another person in exchange for a benefit.
How exceedingly stupid and contradictory pure libertarianism is in making this argument. You cannot sell your negation, but you can choose not to negate. You do not hand this right over, but exercise it. As such, a contract is, properly, with yourself, not the other party.
Let us take the case of a prostitute. A prostitute makes the following apparent contract with a John, otherwise known as a customer. The prostitute will allow the John to fuck her in exchange for $50 cash.
The ethical question is whether or not the prostitute is selling her will to the John? Let’s assume that without the money, the prostitute doesn’t want to have sex with the John. Let’s assume the John wants sex with the prostitute regardless of whether he pays or not, and is simply willing to pay if that is what she requires.
One could think that if they are a purest of negation, that the only true affirmation of two people having sex is if the sex itself is of mutual benefit and that they both freely decide without coercion. They might conclude that the money is a form of coercion, especially if the prostitute has no other way of supporting herself.
Kant may even come across as misogynistic and say that the only moral way to have sex is as a duty! How creepy is that philosophy!
I disagree with these views. I find this reasoning lazy and short sighted. As a sentient, rational being, I may choose to have sex for any number of motivations. The truth is that I choose to have sex by making a contract with myself. I have a level of wants, desires, and motivations which I wish to fulfill in this world. If I want money, and have no reservations about having sex for it, then I am not compelled if I’ve made this choice of my own free will. I may have sex for the sake of pleasure, for the sake of money, or for the sake of simple bodily release of stress that isn’t the same as pleasure. I may do so to show love, to express hate, or any other emotion, all of which are internally generated.
I may use sex as marketing, “Date me, and you get this more often!” But it is an internal motivation based on my wants. I can then consent. I first consent to myself, before I consent to whom I have sex with.
To say that money is compulsion is to say that any form of employment is compulsion. It is only compulsion if I am harmed for saying no. And harm must remove me from my original state. I am not harmed by telling a sexual partner no, who then doesn’t give me what I want, be it affection or the $50.
They will leave, and I am left as I was before. Now, if I say no and they yell at me and emotionally attack me, I am harmed. If I say no and they hit me, I am harmed. If I say no and they go ahead and rape me, I am harmed.
But I am not harmed if I say no, and there is no consequence of harm. I simply do not receive a benefit that I did or did not desire. Perhaps I’m not willing to have sex for $50. Perhaps I’m not willing to work at great heights on the side of a building for $100 an hour. I am not harmed if I say no and do not receive the money.
One cannot be compelled by benefit. For the small fee of one million dollars, I’m likely to sleep with anyone, male or female, on the planet. I do not sit here feeling compelled to sex by all of the millionaires who refuse to pay me, nor do they sit feeling compelled to pay me. Negation exists already, and no harm is exchanged in either direction.
So let’s now talk about the coin of tender that Rand and her lackies put so much faith in, the “almighty dollar”. It is their belief that all things can be reduced to a system of external value, which we normally call money. Another way they state it is in exchanging “Value for value”.
Ayn Rand comes across as a downright puritan in her books. She has many sex scenes in which adults have something she terms as a low class, meaningless sex of self disgust. She has other sex scenes in which adults have a high brown, life exalting form of sex. She explains that one is a form of theft, of trying to steal pleasure from the partner, whereas the latter is a form of mutual benefit.
What Rand is trying to do is to form a existential value equivalent to money, and likely because making Dagny Taggart a prostitute was both too close to her thesis (and completely valid at the logical conclusion of her argument) and too distasteful to the public she was writing for. I find this bit of irrationality on her part in opposition to her thesis to be extremely hilarious!
What is funny about this most of all is that Rand stumbles across truth, and could have salvaged her philosophy, but then made a critical error of logic. Her objectivism failed in light of her subjectivism.
In fact, she proves the point that no third party value system is necessary for consent or agreement. She also proves that the contract is made internally to one’s self, and not externally. But she then goes on to make the fatal flaw of judging motivation and becomes a Kantian philosopher when it comes to sex. That one must have a duty to pleasure when engaged in sex, and this infects her entire philosophy when it comes to working only for the duty of pleasure, but then screws that up even worse, when she declares that pleasure outside of work is not only not a duty, but an evil of sorts.
I think Rand suffers from a complete lack of clarity once she is derailed by sex and leaves the safe confines of economic theory.
Rand was right that we associate the gain of value through our actions, but that the value starts as internally. One cannot be convinced to have sex for money if there is no desire for money. Rand also comes in judgement of any other motivation outside that of value.
I’ve fucked people out of sheer boredom before, simply because I was motivated to find an activity to engage in. Rand would crucify me at the stake for such thinking. Yet it was my desire, and I gave consent of my own free will with that of another individual. I may not have even gotten equal value for my trade. I have worked hard at sex that was minimally pleasurable, but I consented for my own motivations. In fact, I’ve found my own motivations for sex and the work it desires to be an end in itself as a great workout.
I fulfilled the contract of consent with myself, and as a sentient being chose to carry it out. In Rand’s view, I was a slave to craven desire, giving of myself with nothing in return, and thus compelled through immoral motivations.
I say, fuck Rand. I will not have my will compelled by her arguments to conform to her system of values. For, if she seeks value for value, I’d offer her $50 in exchange for a blowjob from her in an alley. She gains the $50 for minimal work, and I gain the knowledge that I dethroned her idea with her own idea, making sex both immoral and moral in a contradictory fashion that her philosophy couldn’t handle, turning the dignity of value into the indignity of the craven.
And though she might refuse, I would then ask her to differentiate between the secretary who enjoys her work to a prostitute that enjoys her work. Rand would be refuted in her attempt, as I assume she would, by the mere existence of a single prostitute who enjoys sex and is as skilled at it as much as Hank Rearden enjoyed pouring steel and was skilled at it. I’ve personally experienced the difference in sexual skill, and truly some would deserve to be paid if they asked. I even say this of a wife that I loved.
The flaw of Rand here, is of assigning value a meaning independent of itself, independent of reason, and independent of motive. Value can only be determined by the individual, as she should damn well know according to her own philosophy. She simply lacked the ethical courage to take that step.
She pisses me off for failing to properly use logic when the fictional philosopher of her greatest work made the best philosophical statement ever. A is A. She simply couldn’t think beyond that initial motivation.
Let us then speak lastly of property. Rand and libertarians alike speak of the sanctity of property. Their logic is as follows:
I possess myself.
Therefore, I possess the work of myself.
Therefore, I possess the results of my work.
Therefore, if I trade my results, I own the results of the trade.
So, I own myself. I may chose to work for a paycheck. I may chose to trade the money from that paycheck for a small house on a plot of land. If anyone takes, taxes, or restricts my house in any way, they violate my self possession, by theft or by slavery.
This is, to put it mildly, cute. It’s like philosophy developed by the mind of a four year old who hasn’t learned to share their toys, and trying to justify their decision.
The fatal flaw here, and there are many, exists in the first statement. I possess myself is an incomplete statement. It assumes that we possess anything without proper justification.
Does the philosophy of negation require self possession? No, not properly. It doesn’t say that we don’t possess ourselves, but that is not the basis. The basis of the philosophy of negation exists in the logic of existence. And that one cannot be simultaneously sentient and not have the right of negation. Lacking the right of negation, sentience cannot exist. They require each other to exist.
I do not require possession of myself to be sentient. For, I remain sentient even if robbed. I remain sentient if I am enslaved. I remain sentient even if I am reduced to a person strapped to a table devoid of my senses. What is true in these cases is that someone is trying to deny my sentience, and that is where the immorality lies. If I am broken, and my will, which is internal, is subjugated to their will through these forms of compulsion, then I am no longer sentient.
Libertarians state that my self possession is violated by compulsion. The philosophy of negation states that my sentience is violated by compulsion. How do these differ? Is this just an argument over semantics? No.
I make no claim of property, nor of work. That’s irrational. I own my own decisions, with two limits. I may not impose my will on another, nor may I break the logic of the universe. One of these is an absolute ethic, and the other is absolutely impossible, respectively.
Do I possess myself in a practical sense? Only so far as I require the public commons to survive. Without air, I will die almost immediately. Yet air is wasted by all life on this planet. If we could fence in air, we would all die. If we could pollute all air, we would all die. We thus don’t have work without the resource of a commons which requires mutual respect.
This, not because of ethics, but by immutable laws of life and the universe, are a truth. The libertarian, by contrast, has an argument that if they were able to buy all the rainforests, fence them off, and put work into cultivating them to maximize oxygen output, could charge the rest of us a fee for breathing.
Oh, the ridiculousness doesn’t end there. If I own land with a house on it, and a bird flying by takes a shit that lands on a window, that bird has violated my self possession.
I shall sue the tornado that tears my house down!
I will declare war on the rabbits that sneak in and eat my flowers!
And while modern libertarians will laugh at this ridiculous end, it is the only end reached by the logic of its incomplete philosophy. Shall we make an exception for nature, we still run into the problems of pollution. Libertarians have spent years writing up exceptions and logical roundabouts to solve these issues.
But they fail to see that the problem is in the initial lack of logic in the first assumption of self possession.
One does not own property the same way one owns one’s self. For, if I can buy property from another, why may I not buy them as a person? Well, you can’t sell yourself, ever, says libertarian philosophy. How then can I sell property? Because they are not the same. As mathematicians say, I’ve proven the point, QED.
I have many other arguments against some libertarian ideas of taxation. For instance, a libertarian has some points against property taxes, but has no argument against income and sales taxes. One deals with property an individual owns, and the last two deal with the exchange of a device of an independent financial system which they do not own. Money is the property of the government. And like any financial institution, such as a bank with a credit card or ATM card, may charge transaction fees because you are using their property.
Owning property and charging property taxes is a separate argument and whether a government has any ownership claim on your house is debatable on separate issues. But that money in your wallet, just as the credit cards next to it, is the property of another entity, not you. And by accepting “money” instead of bartering, you have elected to participate in a “pay to play” system of taxation.
As of this point, the IRS doesn’t tax property exchange, such as Bitcoins. They consider it property, and will only tax it when changed into US currency. Again, they are applying a “pay to play” policy on its own property. They’re not currently interested in taxing a portion of your trade of 2 cows for 10 sheep, for instance. And when they do, you may have something to truly debate.
This, or course, is my way of telling the more whiny, radical libertarians to shut the fuck up until they have a real logical argument of philosophy.
As we can see here, all of these philosophies have great flaws, and where they break down is in trying to define meaning. Defining values and arguing subjective questions and answers will always, and I mean ALWAYS, lead to an illogical contradiction.
From Aristotle's shadows on the cave wall to Kant’s murderer at the door, the big names in philosophy then and today play around with semantics in the land of subjective truth.
This is not to say that there are no discussions to have in the subjective. There are. But there exists no truth there, not even a little bit of truth. At best, we find personal truth, for a time, until we find another truth. And these aren’t truths, but guiding philosophies that we’ve bought into that we believe will accomplish our motivations. As our motivations change, so do our subjective truths.
Philosophers of today sound like fashion designers. They are chasing trends and trying to lead their own trends. From the environment to diet to energy usage to foreign policy, they are the Calvin Kleins, Tommy Hilfigers, and Ralph Laurens of subjective thought fashion.
Who am I? I’m the mathematician, the economist, the policy wonk. I care not about the times we live in with regards to objective thought. 2+2=4 regardless of democracy, communism, dictator, monarch, anarchy, or republic. It holds true ten thousand years ago, and will hold true ten thousand years from now.
It will hold true for humans, and if we go extinct and dogs rise up as the new sentient being on this planet, will hold true for them as well. It will hold true for mankind on Earth or on Mars. It holds true for aliens we’ve never met across the galaxy or in a completely different galaxy.
Objective truth interests me. Subjective truth merely entertains me.
But we must have a root for thought. We must have unchanging truth. And we already attempted to make subjective truth an unchanging absolute and we see what happens when we make that mistake. We now have a world full of violent religions based on fairy tales and contradictory logic spouting on about absolute truth, yet deny real absolute truth even when it slaps them in their bomb making faces.
At least Descartes tried to reduce to basic logic reasoning. At least Kant stated that something out there is true in an absolute sense. At least Rand stated that the root of evil is somehow related to compulsion.
All lapsed into subjective judgements, in the end, and failed in fiery crashes of illogical contradictions, which must always happen when moving into subjective thought.
What is the meaning of life? I care not, make up an answer, and you’re as close to the truth as anyone else.
But what is the life of meaning? Meaning lives in your mind, subjugated to your will and your will alone. And so long as that is true, you are a sentient being capable of reasoning for yourself. The moment you subjugate your will to another, meaning no longer lives in your mind, but in the mind of your oppressor.
Now answer, what is the meaning of a life that has no meaning of its own.