From Exegete to Moral hero

A strange turn has happened in my life. But, perhaps I can explain it in the terms of another person’s life, whom which this turn has had significant consequences.

This person was concerned with the beautiful truth and the holy books from which it comes. The practice of exposing these truths and addressing them critically is known as exegesis. This person, was, an exegete, one familiar with the word. It can be a good, yet quiet life, to read that book; it is different to preaching it, for preaching requires the work of exegetes to pave their way.

Something happened in this person’s life, this person’s time period, that they could not avoid. A human rights violation, a horrible transgression of society and the state. This person then used their powers of wisdom and exegetical background to show that word and mediate it through a unique but consistent perspective to show the state and society of its ills. This exegete became a hero, standing up for the rights of the marginalised and diminished. This exegete became a hero, streets were named after him, and the future changed forever because of him.

I too aspire to be an exegete; but something unavoidable has come, something that needs my knowledge of the word to fight and oppose. I must not fight for the rights of many, but the few who are abused and violated by the corpulent state; I am no anarchist, I just want to give lady government a kick up the arse and want to draw blood, before she backs off those poor people,

Exegetes can also be heroes too.

QED

A few future projects?

I have gotten a few ideas about future research avenues; two of which have an obvious political agenda.

I. An answer to the question: Are human beings rational? Addressing philosophy of mind, social science and metaethics. There will also be an answer to the question: Are rational/deterministic agents moral?

II. A definition of good art; acknowledging the present features of art being a social institution and having world-changing capacity. Acknowledges the potential of human destruction.

III. A manifesto for a new Enlightenment.

Cameron’s ‘family’ agenda

Today I was watching the news and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. The conservatives refer to a piece of ‘research’ which correlates everything bad with having a bad family.

These ‘bad things’ include: poverty, substance abuse, criminality, educational failure. Divorce rate is on the up, and that is seen as a bad thing.

They made such a horrific characterisation: on ITV they said that the ‘ideal’ family is a heterosexual couple: Mr. and Mrs. Jones, with two pretty, successful and content with their lives.

BY CONTRAST: the ‘problem’ family is ‘ms. bovvered’ (alluding to Catherine Tate’s teenage character), who’s ‘partner’ is ‘mr. runaway’, who left her and the kids; her daughter is a teenage mother and her son has an ASBO. To put this sort of crap on the news is hurrendous. Worse still, people won’t mind this characterisation.

Some say it is a ‘back to basics’ revival of the Major years. I feel some of the sociological critiques made of then can be made of now:

i. Non-traditional families have different aetiologies than simply runaway fathers and promiscuous or non-married couples; homosexual partners, bereavement/illness, distance due to parent’s/parents occupation.

ii. The claims made by the conservatives is based on evidence; oh, so that must mean their stuff is watertight unless you disagree with the evidence, which is a ‘pointless’ venture – it is not pointless to question the methodology, however. These are naturalist, positivists who think only of social facts.

What if your deeply held desire was conditioned?

I was considering the various objects in my preferential set, and I considered this.

i. What if desire p was socially constructed?

ii. If p is socially constructed, what implications have these?

iii. What are the original, pre-set desires?

Part i.

People come to like something after first experiencing it and developing a liking for it.

People are made to like something because they are told to

People are made to like something because they are told that to be in the state of liking them is desirable (e.g. The desirability in the belief in God and other second order desires)

People are cultural slaves, they have little means of fighting the institutes whom groom them; eventually, those children will become the very oppressors who oppressed them; thus the incest of hegemony continues.

Part ii,

Perhaps theses like the culture industry (Adorno) show how passive-receptive we are in taking in desires

Maybe this is just a way we operate, some are taught to like pizza and hummous, whilst others are taught to like falafels and sushi (bad examples, I know); some people are groomed to become metalheads while others become classical cellists. I’m not saying its a simple causal link, there is a rich tapestry of phenomena which determines our preferential set, but my point is this: there are some desires which are invented and are not pre-existent.

The question is: which are they?

Some belief-desires which worry me in particular as possibly being conditioned:

  1. The ideal life is one of contemplation – to live to that ideal is an imperative
  2. Romanticism as the superior form of human expression – to pursue that as a form of beauty expression is an imperative
  3. Philos is not only possible, but desirable, an imperative for happiness and a good life.

These are tenets which are very important in my life. If I were to learn that they were culturally conditioned; what would that mean?

  1. To construe them as meaningful truths is meaningless and false
  2. They are artificial desires, get rid of them
  3. They are the only desires I have, stick with them, until a desire with greater yield comes along

Part iii.

Let us speculate, what possible ‘factory setting’ desires there are:

i. Self-preservation

ii. Fulfillment?

iii. erm–that’s it…

The second one I speculate, satisfaction is not a necessary way to live a life, as Kant shows us.

But self-preservation? That seems to be the most fundamental desire and in some way, everyone seeks to be self-preserving.

What about self-destructive behaviour? Cries thee

Self-destruction is self-imposed, one preserves their autonomy.

Decline of the self

Lets assume a ridiculous metaphysical concept, namely, the self. The self is a semantic concept which refers to the phenomena of a physical body of atomic parts which is also said to have an individuality, rationality and decision-making capacity. What is it about these combinations of molecules that make the person ‘Kirk Bear’? Perhaps alone a liver is a liver and a hand is a hand, but when put all together, it forms a new classification in our ontology, a new entity characterised by the sum of its parts.

The sum of its parts also consists of human, interpretive categories imposed over naturalistic ones, these said human categories include:

A sense of meaning

Set of beliefs/preferences

Process of rationality

Personality

etc.

Let us put this notion of the self aside, we shall come to it later.

In our lives, we are considered to have characteristics unique to us over other living organisms; we have sentience and a moderate means of translating and understanding each other. We construe our actions to be meaningful insofar as we are understood to be following a rule; of course, I am not talking about a rule as a ‘norm’ specifically, but a convention like grammar, or behaviour with understandable tacit assumptions.

We understand ourselves in a manner most intuitive to us, using categories which are not directly naturalistic.

Consider the phenomena of a breakup, both sides use concepts like ‘honesty’, ‘reciprocity’, ‘honour/alleigance’ and so on. Categories more alluding to the aretaic than it is to the materialist. From this, we are to understand the human self as something unique, special, beautiful and dare I say, semantically (and maybe ontically) distinct from natural phenomena; the difference between me and a plant is that I can make a joke and experience hatred, where a plant is but vegetative (although I am vegetative too).

So, it seems, the self is special, it persists as a semantic concept even when our molecules that constitute our physical bodies are replaced.

There are phenomena, which show that the physical ‘components’ of selfhood are much greater than our semantic understanding of a holistic and interpretive self.

Drug addiction. It is a physical dependance, some may act desperately to feed their desire. Some may transgress the norms that they have previously held to fulfil their desire.

When a tragic illness affects a person, they die before their body meets demise; the incapacitation means that the person is physically unable to be the person they want to be, eventually their desires change, as their desires change, a significant degree of who we thought they were dies away; as a person increasingly faces incapacitation, some feel their dignity dies away, thus some favour euthanasia.

What does this tell us? Phenomena can change that which we perceive as having an intrinsic dimension. As the body changes, decays, so it leads to changes in the thing that we call ‘self’. The self is not a fixed semantic term, it is fluid and conditional to the state of affairs that construe that term.

To say Kirk Bear at t1 is much different when we refer to the Bear of t932. Where is the persistence? Does something persist in virtue of the semantics that construe it? If we had no term for it, would it not exist? Perhaps we are inventing a category by grouping many composites.

Proposal of a vanguard of humanity

Disclaimer: I am not recommending anything literally reminicscent of the following idea; this is an expression, and exploration of where we are, who we are, who we can be, and what yours truly idealises as virtuous. Don’t read this politically/literally, but symbolically/literarily. This is more an excercise in psychoanalysis than any real idea I have.

A series of events, sequenced in an order that we construe as the linear progression of time. A sequence of events, called a timeline, that pertains to the events of humanity. We want to characterise the temporal progression of events of humanity in certain undercurrents; are we going in a particular direction?

Forget about the direction of humanity genera. What about individual units; you, me, and so on. Mentioned is a suggestion of putting an underlying theme to human history. What of our own lives?

There are many aims one can have in life, many directions and motivations. The most fundamental distinction is this; one can live with motivations given by sentiment and conditioned preference; the given way to live; or, one can live guided by the faculty of reason, deciding which is the best possible way to live.

Much can be said for a life that is driven by sentiment and conditioning. Life goes on, one day, after another, judged by how happy one is, how much pleasure one recieves and their mindset for the future; life is judged by quantifying.

What of reason? The life of reason is not judged so much by what is achieved, what is pleasured. Reason is pursued as an ends in itself. The ideal life is the contemplative one, its nice to have a full understanding of the world, let me know if you have one; let me know if you have derived axioms of human behaviour, a model of semantics and pragmatics in the performances of utterances and communicative acts. Tell me your ontology, your epistemological foundations, your appreciation of the verstehen, your account of the human condition and its trajectory, what about the laws of thought and its relation to the laws which construe our reality, apodictic principles which fit our universe and explain much about it. Do you have any of those things?

We don’t need to start off with big, complex questions, but atomic and direct ones with address a single issue. Start with definitions, elucidate your thesis and then do your proof.

There was a time when reason began to seep through tradition. The Catholic Church had St. Anselm proclaim ‘Fides Quorum Intellectum’: where faith directs rational inquiry.

Descartes’ through several points, showed us that reason was a force to be reckoned with, but in a distinct way: reason is a force independent from tradition/faith.

The great rationalists came and blew us over with their metaphysical and logical fireworks, Leibniz showed us Monads, Spinoza showed us there was no evil, Mendelsson goes back to Platonic intuition.

The age of reason came, this thing called reason began to set the program for humanity, questions such as:

i. Rule of the powerful

ii. Political economy

iii. How to live a good life

iv. True knowledge and its justification

v. Understanding reality

vi. Understanding beauty

Although we were not in enlightened times we were in the age of enlightenment. Reason was a shining beacon on our dark land of irreason and dogma. But what happened?

Somehow, the enlightenment failed. I’m not sure how, or why. My best-fit explanation comes from Weber; after the capitalist political economy was formed, a new type of thinking became predominant in the increasingly capitalist society; namely, instrumental rationality which lead to the parasitic and life-draining bureaucratic management that dominates our lives today as an end in itself.

What if…

What if heroes, greater than the Greeks, greater than contemporary characters, greater than say, the Justice League, the X-men or the Seven Dragons of Heaven (x/1999). Heroes who are tragically flawed, but it is only in virtue of their flaws that they are great.

They will be a group; a fellowship: let me introduce you to the members:

i. Sophos – her head lies in the transcendent world, often disjoined from her own body.

ii. Tracker – he is an information wizard; he knows what is going on, where it is happening, how to get there. Tracker applies most of the abstract principles of the other members but has his own end of information management, Tracker is embracing of technology but reflexive of its consequences.

iii. Fixer – in conjunction with Tracker, he is a designer of technological implementations to practical problems. Fixer also uses the techniques of the other members, but his focus is on helping others, not just in practical terms, but also the members in and of themselves.

iv. Cleric – A person who does not fully adhere to the enlightenment values as construed as non-traditional. Cleric is traditional, but rational. As a member and envoy to the dogmatics, he represents the willingness to change. Cleric is unreliable to the project of the enlightenment’s success, but without him, the project would not be open and available to all. Cleric represents that the vanguard is non-partisan