Philosophy: Our Guiding Force
Philosophy is a subject that seems very ethereal to many of us and too much trouble to even bother with. We live our lives based on an intrinsic belief system and is important for us to know how it has been formulated. Our whole existence is based on our philosophy. How we conduct ourselves, and how we react to the world is our own personal philosophy.
Our personal philosophy will dictate what we believe as truth, reality, how we love and what is our wisdom. We have a personal method for our logical analysis, how we gain knowledge, what are ethics and how is that wisdom attained and acted upon and how we view beauty, our ability to reason, and how we fit into the universe.
We each come from a premise to understand the world, and how we go about finding meaning and satisfaction in life.
Yesterday as I put pen to paper to begin my dissertation of philosophy or what seems to pose as philosophy in our modern era, I became overwhelmed with my own living personal philosophy.
THE 12 STEPS I HAVE INCORPORATED INTO MY LIFE ARE USED TO EXECUTE MY PHILOSOPHY, AND HOW I CAN STAY TRUE TO IT, THEY ARE THE TOOLS I UTILIZE TO FACILITATE MY BASIC BELIEFS OF THE WORLD AROUND ME.
Within the 12 Steps there is no real philosophy, they are only actions, a means to end.
I began writing but I needed to redirect my attention to philosophy 101 again. This became a tangled mishmash of competing outcomes, which end, I wanted a simple organic proposition of any philosophy.
Not being a “real” writer, I find it difficult to get what I do know in a format that has a systematic outline which makes sense to me and my readers.
Knowing how I got where I am in life has been predicated on my core belief system. This inner nature has guided everything in my life, regardless of where I was in that life.
This section began with a simple desire to help others discern the difference between self esteem and self respect. That was the catalyst which led me to wonder why does that have any major importance in my world. I do believe the misuse of words and the essence of meaning very important. This inquiry lead me to research my love of meaning and naming what a thing is that which it is. This led me to the philosophy of language.
I began to ask, how do we get to know what we know? I knew that was the realm of epistemology. I again thought some more, why do we act the way we act? I went to ethics. Out of all the eight branches of philosophy, there was no possibility that any could be addressed isolated from the others. And I did not want to write a tome to have what I know and how I know it for the reader.
All philosophies are the pondering and muddling through the basics of argument. Metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, aesthetics, logic, the mind and that of language are still the basis, of how we develop a philosophy.
I stood back got a cup of coffee lit a cigar and thought some more, what are the essentials necessary to even ask a question?
I finally came to the conclusion that all schools of philosophy are rooted in only two diametrically opposed thesis. Either man is inherently good or man is inherently evil, this is, how we forge our approach and is, the formulation of philosophy. How we attain knowledge, how we view ourselves and the world and whether there is a God, and the list goes on.
All arguments and outcomes are reached with this intrinsic instinctual "etiosapience" (causation of wisdom). All schools of philosophical thought, which have branched out into the 100’s from Aristotle (Platonian/Socrates) to pragmatism and communism, the effects of our methodology in medicine and psychology, screenwriters to economic leaders, liberalism and conservatism, how we educate and raise our children, all are based on “etiosapience”.
The tension between these two opposites has pulled us apart. These ideas of how to understand mankind are core beliefs, of how we conduct everything from religion to politics.
How has this affected us in our current state of being? We have all heard the phrase “if we don’t stand for something, we will fall for anything”. I do believe that with modernity we have reached a point of collapse.
I will attempt to describe the two prevailing philosophies that best exhibit my argument for “etiosapience”. These two schools of thought truly can hold all other philosophies within themselves. They seem to be the finality of thought over the millennium and hold the basic “etiosapience” that man is either inherently good or inherently evil.
These two contra positions are Secular Humanism and Objectivism. One's philosophy will fall into one of these camps regardless of who you are or where you come from, it doesn't matter where you live, or if you believe in God or not. Which theory you align yourself with will dictate all other thinking.
Both are secular in nature, but as we explore each, one will come away from this with some belief in a Higher Power.
The Secular Humanists religion seems to be the antithesis to Objectivism. Their manifesto (not trying to hide their essence) professes that man is inherently good. They define religious beliefs as those that believe man is inherently evil.
The SH proclaims it to be the philosophy that upholds reason and ethics and justice and rejects the supernatural and the spiritual as a basis of moral reflection and decision making. Their question is “who needs God?”.
They state that they are to bring out the best in people so that all people can have the best. SH professes, we must take responsibility for our own lives and communities and world in which we live. They emphasize reason and scientific analysis, individual freedom and responsibility, human values and compassion and the need for tolerance and co operation.
Humanism in of itself is a broad category of ethical philosophies that are supposed to affirm the dignity and worth of all people, based on the ability to determine right and wrong by appealing to universal human qualities, particularly rationality, without supernatural or divine authority from religious texts. The humanist accepts universal morality based on the "commonality of human conditions", ergo solutions to human socio cultural issues cannot be insular (no man is an island) and are therefore hedonistic.
“This is the fallacy inherent in hedonism—in any variant of ethical hedonism, personal or social, individual or collective. “Happiness” can properly be the purpose of ethics, but not the standard. The task of ethics is to define man’s proper code of values and thus to give him the means of achieving happiness. To declare, as the ethical hedonists do, that “the proper value is whatever gives you pleasure” is to declare that “the proper value is whatever you happen to value”—which is an act of intellectual and philosophical abdication, an act which merely proclaims the futility of ethics and invites all men to play it deuces wild.” Ayn Rand (Objectivist Ethics)
The Humanist philosophy sounds reasonable and very idealistic and almost Eden like. Perhaps on the surface it does. What can be so bad or wrong with a philosophy such as this? The wrong headedness of it all is that they do not believe what they preach and do act contradictory to the basic tenant that “man is inherently good”.
The methodology of their principles does not promote what their manifesto asserts.
The most well known Secular Humanist would be Karl Marx (1818-1883) author of the “Communist Manifesto”. Marx argued that Capitalism as previous socioeconomic systems, will produce internal tensions, which lead to destruction. Just as capitalism replaced feudalism, communism will in its turn replace capitalism and lead to a stateless classless society emerging after a transitional period, the “dictatorship of the proletariat”.
The whole philosophy of Marxism, therefore Humanism, is based on the belief that “man is inherently evil” and needs a centralized government to dictate what is right and wrong for the collective.
There is an inherent hatred for humankind that the humanists possess. With all their rhetoric of high ideals and rationality and reason and so called logic, they practice a domination and control of the human spirit and negation of rights, although they profess justice and human rights.
Esteem of the intellectuals (but only those who meet their criteria and promote their manifesto) has been occurring on our university campuses. The breeding ground of our future proletariat ruling class, the dominance of the intellectual elitists over all the ignorant sub sets.
These are the purveyors of the lie. To be effective we others must suspend all common sense and logic and reason. Their argument is like a magician who uses sleight of hand to deceive you. If they believe man to be inherently good how could they see only victims and offenders? They have no compassion to mankind as a whole, they are agitators who seek to promote derision among people so they can move in and become a people's Higher Power, "you have been oppressed-and we your white knights are here to save you and make the offenders pay". They have no problem with their hypocrisy.
Modern Secular Humanism has taken some giant leaps in the middle of the 20th century. The Darwinian Theory of natural selection was pounced on by the atheists to be used and promoted as a tool to rid society of any belief in traditional first cause. And even in their own belief of “survival of the fittest” they are hypocrites, if they practiced what they supposedly believed, there would be a true survival of the fittest and there would be no problem in anyone having to be in a collective, we would let the weak be rejected and disposed of. In their hypocrisy, they promote the weak and despise the strong.
They have wanted everyone to believe that they have the truth behind their intellectual superiority. Their spokesmen are Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and that all time deep thinker Bill Maher. The truth be told they detest humankind.
The desire of the Humanist to have us believe that religion is the root of all evil in this world and the cause of all suffering is manifest in their current spokesmen. Marx believed that religion was the opiate of the people. If they could just get everyone to stop believing in a God they could win and rule over everyone, "all religion does is spawn nationalism, chauvinism, racism, sexism and homophobia"-the list does go on.
The true philosophy of religion is historically a part of metaphysics. Aristotle described first cause as one of his subjects of inquiry. He believed in the first cause and coined it the "Unmoved Mover", and henceforth been referred to as God. Aristotle also stated that the word best describing the meaning of God was understanding.
Metaphysicians and ontologists are provocatively interested in the understanding of what it is for something to exist, what it is for something to be an entity, event , ability, or process(what is its functionality).
The philosophy of religion has branches in epistemology, philosophies of language, logic, ethics and morals. All I have heard from atheists is that there is no God, but we are good people too.
Let us move from the philosophical to the theological. Theologians consider the existence of God as self evident. The epistematic means to justify the support of religious claims are rationalization or intuitive metaphors. The theologians of religion critique the knowledge of religion with logic, aesthetic and ethical formulations inherent in the claims of religion. I regress and apologize.
To lump all religious philosophies into one monolithic viewpoint is to do injustice to all religions of the world, but the target of the Secular Humanists is that of Christianity. If one reads any of the current spokesmen of the movement one would find no distaste for Buddhism, Islam or Confucianism or any religion except the Western Judeo Christian system. I do find that rather odd. This is another aspect to their hypocrisy.
Thomas Aquinas, the father of the Thomistic school of philosophy and theology and one of only 33 Doctors of the Church was not some ignorant peasant being led by the nose into a belief system because he just didn't know better. His influence has been the crux of Christian theology and Western philosophy in general. He was a promoter and modifier of Aristotlenianism which he brought together with the teaching of Augustine. His arguments for the existence of God are found in his Summa Theologies. Which came under serious criticism in the 18th century by David Hume and Immanuel Kant in the 20th century. Richard Dawkins has tried to pose his argument in the 21st century arguing that Aquinas' arguments are essentially the same (all 5) and rely upon the idea of a regress to which God is immune. Well yes, what is your argument Mr. Dawkins, we cannot even get to the 4th and 5th claims you make if you cannot see the truth in God's immunity?
Objectivism is the work of Ayn Rand (1905-1982), playwright and screenwriter and novelist. Ms. Rand was born in St. Petersburg, Russia and saw first hand what Marxism did to the human mind and spirit.
The argument of Objectivism sees man as a heroic being, with his own happiness at the moral purpose of his life, with production and achievement as his noblest activity and reason as his only absolute. The individual must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself.
Rand was greatly influenced by Aristotle and vehemently opposed to Immanuel Kant who claimed the inability of reason to know reality “as it is in itself”.
Rand said “that for some 200 years, under the influence of Kant, the dominant trend of the philosophy has been directed to a single goal: the destruction of man’s mind, of his confidence in the power of reason. Today’s mawkish concern with and compassion for the feeble, the flawed, the suffering, the guilty is a cover for the profoundly Kantian hatred of the innocent, the strong, the able, the successful, the virtuous, the confident, the happy.
A philosophy out to destroy man's mind is necessarily a philosophy of hatred for man, for man’s life and for every human value. Hatred of the good for being the good, is the hallmark of the 20th century”. (1974)
Rand also had an intellectual kinship with John Locke(1632-1704) in that their political philosophy was of the individuals right to have the products of their own labor and the natural right to life, liberty and property. The basic human rights as opposed to civil rights. Today there is much confusion between the two. Civil rights are instituted to make a civilization, the rights of citizens. Human rights are natural and non man given.
The loudest of these new civil rights advocates are unaware of the difference, those who choose to maintain a civil society are not denying anyone's human rights (the right to life or liberty or property or happiness) only denying the laws necassry to perpetuate uncivilized pursuits. The question when pursuing the laws of any society is “will it be good for the civilization as a whole?”.
The confusion came in the 1960's when the outcry for group human rights were described as the fight for their “civil” rights. Had the “human” rights been argued and fought for there would have been no abrogation of “civil” rights.
When the human spirit is denied the enaliable rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, there is rebellion. We are born with life with a free spirit and the joy of innocence. Threaten the very essence of these spirits and we get the flight or fight or just stand there and take it responses.
Rand’s “ethical egoism” is her most well known position. She asks in “The Value of Selfishness”, what are values? Why does man need them?” She argues that the concept of “value” depends on the concept of an alternative in the face of which one must act. “Where no alternative exists, no goals and no values are possible.”
To live “ethical egoism” and to have selfishness a value, we must return to Plato and “The Republic” and his belief in virtue. To live for virtue's sake is to live for yourself.
From Socrates to Aristotle to Aquinas to Rand the “etiosapience” inherent in these philosophies is that man is inherently good.
We look at “etiosapience”, is man inherently good or evil, which philosophy guides your life?
There are choices to be made, your own philosophy is based in these juxtaposed positions. To deny the self for the collective is enslavement. The Humanist believes the end justifies the means.
Does one live for themselves and through virtue and everyone benefits, where the means justify the ends, Obectivism?
Patrick Henry cried out “give me liberty or give me death”. Under Secular Humanism, you have no liberty and everyone becomes a part of the living dead.
Working the 12 Steps one achieves the “ethical egoism” Ayn Rand speaks of. We become virtuous as Plato describes in his allegory of the “Gyges” ring. We live as free agents, heroically living for our own happiness with no need for the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The sacrifice of the haves to the have nots would be an inconceivable possibility, for everyone would live on purpose and see their own individualism as a desirable goal. To “become” for some man made deity called government or the collective cuts across the grain of human nature. God gave us freedom of choice and man would steal that from us.
Man will do good and have compassion when necessary, man does not have to be brow beaten-taxed-or shamed into doing good. For every action there is a reaction, when man's freedom is threatened there is recoil from the good. Anger and resentment of the unjust reaping the benefits of the just (the producers of our society) are taking their toll on everyone.
Living under the rule of Secular Humanism where they choose the winners and losers, where there is no freedom of speech or thought or best of all no freedom of religion is the desire of those who believe man to be inherently evil.
Here we are, the year 2009, we have a choice, do we follow the evil found in the philosophy of man being inherently evil or do we go toward freedom in the philosophy that man is inherently good and heroic?
We can live by grace and mercy, or we can choose to be under the rule of the dictatorship of a man made Orwellian society with it granting mercy and grace as it sees fit.
This is a struggle between good and evil, right and wrong, to be free or enslaved, to think or follow the lie. Do you want to control your destiny or do you want to relinquish your rights to flawed fallible leaders who do not have your best interest at heart? It does not matter where anyone is on the societal ladder because it will be bad for everyone. When evil rules you are not immune.
To think so therefore one is, as concluded by Rene Descartes, would be a great starting point. Does anyone think anymore? To discover what your “etiosapience” is takes thought and to be a civilized society the peoples in that society need to discover what is guiding them when they or their leaders make discussions. What is the philosophy of any nation and its people.
Ayn Rand Lexicon
©March 5, 2009, Jo Anne N., 12stepgolf.com