The Ethics of Liberty, by Murray N Rothbard. Adnotated. Part II (Natural Law as "Science")
2. Natural Law as "Science". It is indeed puzzling that so many modern philosophers should sniff at the very term "nature" as an injection of mysticism and the supernatural. An apple, let fall, will drop to the ground; this we all observe and acknowledge to be in the naturei of the apple (as well as the world in general). Two atoms of hydrogen combined with one of oxygen will yield one molecule of water -- behavior that is uniquely in the nature of hydrogen, oxygen, and waterii. There is nothing arcane or mystical about such observationsiii. Why then cavil at the concept of "nature"? The world, in fact, consists of a myriad number of observable things, or entitiesiv. This is surely an observable fact.v Since the world does not consist of one homogenous thing or entity alone, it follows that each one of these different things possesses differing attributes, otherwise they would all be the same thingvi. But if A, B, C, etc., have different attributes, it follows immediatelyvii that they have different natures.viii It also follows that when these various things meet and interact, a specifically delimitable and definable result will occur.ix In short, specific, delimitable causes will have specific, delimitable effectsx
The observable behavior of each of these entities is the law of their naturesxi, and this law includes what happens as a result of the interactions. The complex that we may build up of these laws may be termed the structure of natural law. What is "mystical" about that?xii In the field of purely physical laws, this concept will usually differ from modern positivistic terminology only on high philosophical levelsxiii; applied to man, however, the concept is far more controversial. And yet, if apples and stones and roses each have their specific naturesxiv, is man the only entity, the only being, that cannot have one? And if man does have a nature, why cannot it too be open to rational observation and reflection? If all things have natures, then surely man’s nature is open to inspection; the current brusque rejection of the concept of the nature of man is therefore arbitrary and a priorixv.
One common, flip criticism by opponents of natural law is: who is to establish the alleged truths about man? The answer is not who but what: man’s reason. Man’s reason is objective, i.e., it can be employed by all men to yield truths about the world.xvi To ask what is man’s nature is to invite the answer. Go thou and study and find out! It is as if one man were to assert that the nature of copper were open to rational investigation and a critic were to challenge him to "prove" this immediately by setting forth on the spot all the laws that have been discovered about copper.xvii
Another common charge is that natural-law theorists differ among themselves, and that therefore all natural-law theories must be discarded. This charge comes with peculiar ill grace when it comes, as it often does, from utilitarian economists. For economics has been a notoriously contentious science -- and yet few people advocate tossing all economics therefore into the discard. Furthermore, difference of opinion is no excuse for discarding all sides to a dispute; the responsible person is the one who uses his reason to examine the various contentions and make up his own mind.xviii He does not simply say a priori, "a plague on all your houses!"xix The fact of man’s reason does not mean that error is impossible. Even such "hard" sciences as physics and chemistry have had their errorsxx and their fervent disputes.xxi No man is omniscient or infalliblexxii -- a law, by the way, of man’s nature.xxiii
The natural law ethic decrees that for all living things, "goodness" is the fulfillment of what is best for that type of creature;xxiv "goodness" is therefore relative to the nature of the creature concerned.xxv Thus, Professor Cropsey writes:
The classical [natural law] doctrine is that each thing is excellent in the degree to which it can do the things for which its species is naturally equipped. . . . Why is the natural good? . . . [Because] there is neither a way nor a reason to prevent ourselves from distinguishing between useless and serviceable beasts, for example; and . . . the most empirical and . . . rational standard of the serviceable, or the limit of the thing’s activity, is set by its nature. We do not judge elephants to be good because they are natural; or because nature is morally good -- whatever that would mean. We judge a particular elephant to be good by the light of what elephant nature makes it possible for elephants to do and to be.xxvi
In the case of man, the natural-law ethic states that goodness or badness can be determined by what fulfills or thwarts what is best for man’s nature.xxvii
The natural law, then, elucidates what is best for manxxviii -- what ends man should pursue that are most harmonious with, and best tend to fulfill, his nature.xxix In a significant sense, then, natural law provides man with a "science of happiness," with the paths which will lead to his real happiness. In contrast, praxeology or economics, as well as the utilitarian philosophy with which this science has been closely allied, treat "happiness" in the purely formal sense as the fulfillment of those ends which people happen -- for whatever reason -- to place high on their scales of value. Satisfaction of those ends yields to man his "utility" or "satisfaction" or "happiness."xxx Value in the sense of valuation or utility is purely subjective, and decided by each individual. This procedure is perfectly proper for the formal science of praxeology, or economic theory, but not necessarily elsewhere. For in natural~law ethics, ends are demonstrated to be good or bad for man in varying degrees; value here is objective -- determined by the natural law of man's being, and here "happiness" for man is considered in the commonsensical, committal sense. As Father Kenealy put it:
This philosophy maintains that there is in fact an objective moral order within the range of human intelligence, to which human societies are bound in conscience to conform and upon which the peace and happiness of personal, national and international life depend.xxxi
And the eminent English jurist, Sir William Blackstone, summed up the natural law and its relation to human happiness as follows:
This is the foundation of what we call ethics, or natural law . . . demonstrating that this or that action tends to man's real happiness, and therefore very justly concluding that the performance of it is a part of the law of nature; or, on the other hand, that this or that action is destruction of man’s real happiness, and therefore that the law of nature forbids it.xxxii
Without using the terminology of natural law, psychologist Leonard Carmichael has indicated how an objective, absolute ethic can be estalished for man on scientific methods, based upon biological and psychological inquiry: because man has an unchanging and an age-old, genetically determined anatomical, physiological, and psychological make-up, there is reason to believe that at least some of the "values" that he recognized as good or bad have been discovered or have emerged as human individuals have lived together for thousands of years in many societies. Is there any reason to suggest that these values, once identified and tested, may not be thought of as essentially fixed and unchanging?xxxiii For example, the wanton murder of one adult by another for the purely personal amusement of the person committing the murder, once it is recognized as a general wrong, is likely always to be so recognized.xxxiv Such a murder has disadvantageous individual and social effects.xxxv Or to take a milder example from esthetics, man is always likely to recognize in a special way the balance of two complementary colors because he is born with specially constitutedxxxvi human eyes.xxxvii
One common philosophic objection to natural law ethics is that it confuses, or identifies, the realism of fact and value. For purposes of our brief discussion, John Wild’s reply will suffice:
In answer we may point out that their [natural law] view identifies value not with existence but rather with the fulfillment of tendencies determined by the structure of the existent entity. Furthermore, it identifies evil not with nonexistence but rather with a mode of existence in which natural tendencies are thwarted and deprived of realization. . . . The young plant whose leavesxxxviii are withering for lack of light is not nonexistent. It exists, but in an unhealthy or privative mode. The lame man is not nonexistent. He exists, but with a natural power partially unrealized. . . . This metaphysical objection is based upon the common assumption that existence is fully finished or complete. . . . [But] what is good is the fulfillment of being.xxxix
After stating that ethics, for man as for any other entity, are determined by investigating verifiable existing tendencies of that entity, Wild asks a question crucial to all non-theological ethics: "why are such principles felt to be binding on me?" How do such universal tendencies of human nature become incorporated into a person’s subjective value scale? Because
the factual needs which underlie the whole procedure are common to man. The values founded on them are universal. Hence, if I made no mistake in my tendential analysis of human nature, and if I understand myself, I must exemplify the tendency and must feel it subjectivelyxl as an imperative urge to actionxli
David Hume is the philosopher supposed by modern philosophers to have effectively demolished the theory of natural law. Hume's "demolition" was two-pronged: the raising of the alleged "fact-value" dichotomy, thus debarring the inference of value from fact,xlii and his view that reason is and can only be a slave to the passions. In short, in contrast to the natural-law view that man's reason can discover the proper ends for man to follow, Hume held that only the emotions can ultimately set man's ends, and that reason’s place is as the technician and handmaiden to the emotions. (Here Hume has been followed by modern social scientists since Max Weber.) According to this view, people's emotions are assumed to be primary and unanalyzable givens.xliii
Professor Hesselberg has shown, however, that Hume, in the course of his own discussions, was compelled to reintroduce a natural-law conception into his social philosophy and particularly into his theory of justice, thus illustrating the gibe of Etienne Gilson: "The natural law always buries its undertakers." For Hume, in Hesselberg's words, "recognized and accepted that the social . . . order is an indispensable prerequisite to man’s well-being and happinessxliv: and that this is a statement of fact." The social order, therefore, must be maintained by man. Hesselberg continues:
But a social order is not possible unless man is able to conceive what it is, and what its advantages are, and also conceive those norms of conduct which are necessary to its establishment and preservationxlv, namely, respect for another's personxlvi and for his rightful possessions, which is the substance of justicexlvii. . . . But justice is the product of reason, not the passions.xlviii And justice is the necessary support of the social order; and the social order is necessary to man’s well-being and happiness. If this is so, the norms of justice must control and regulate the passions, and not vice-versa.xlixl
Hesselberg concludes that "thus Hume’s original 'primacy of the passions’ thesis is seen to be utterly untenable for his social and political theory, and . . . he is compelled to reintroduce reason as a cognitive-normative factor in human social relations."li
Indeed, in discussing justice and the importance of the rights of private propertylii, Hume was compelled to write that reason can establish such a social ethic: "nature provides a remedy in the judgment and understanding for what is irregular and uncommodious in the affections" -- in short, reason can be superior to the passions.liii
We have seen from our discussion that the doctrine of natural law -- the view that an objective ethics can be established through reason -- has had to face two powerful groups of enemies in the modern world: both anxious to denigrate the power of man’s reason to decide upon his destiny. These are the fideists who believe that ethics can only be given to man by supernatural revelation, and the skeptics who believe that man must take his ethics from arbitrary whim or emotion. We may sum up with Professor Grant’s harsh but penetrating view of
the strange contemporary alliance between those who doubt the capacity of human reason in the name of scepticism (probably scientific in origin) and those who denigrate its capacity in the name of revealed religion. It is only necessary to study the thought of Ockham to see how ancient this strange alliance is. For in Ockham can be seen how philosophic nominalism, unable to face the question of practical certainty, solves it by the arbitrary hypothesis of revelation. The will detached from the intellect (as it must be in a nominalism) can seek certainty only through such arbitrary hypotheses. . . .
The interesting fact historically is that these two anti-rationalist traditions -- that of the liberal skeptic and the Protestant revelationist -- should originally have come from two . . . opposite views of man. The Protestant dependence upon revelation arose from a great pessimism about human nature. . . . The immediately apprehended values of the liberal originate in a great optimism. Yet . . . after all, is not the dominating tradition in North America a Protestantism which has been transformed by pragmatic technology and liberal aspirations?liv
- Not all. How could the apple's falling be in the nature of the apple if the apple won't fall by itself ?! Sweetness and the color red may be "in the nature" of the apple, but apples falling is in the nature of falls not in the nature of apples. [↩]
- I should take this opportunity to advise they untrained in the specific art against employing "everyone knows" examples from the early grade textbooks of that art.
In this case : no. Two atoms of hydrogen combined with one of oxygen will result in a certain mix of hydrogen peroxide and water, in a proportion that varies according to the... ahem. According to the "nature of the environment" shall we say, which is to say nature for short.
I understand it's tempting to imagine 2H + O = H2O, but this imagination of yours has nothing to do with reality. For one thing, there's approximately sixty thousand trillion trillion "atoms" of "oxygen" in every 16 grams of the stuff. Except they're O2 rather than Osimple in the common (ie... natural ?) presentation. You should readily realise that if you can't get a dozen kids to behave in exactly the same manner, you've no chance to get sixty thousand trillion trillions anythings to not come up with some exceptions, somewhere.
The most intelligent thing that could be said about atoms of oxygen is that it is "natural law" that has them to behave in certain ways as opposed to the "infinity" of "different" ways Joe Q Rothbard may imagine they "could" otherwise have behaved. In other words, when it comes to oxygen as it comes to everything else, "choice" is your, wholly owned, home-baked contribution. Not in their nature, but in the nature of the fall.[↩]
- There is, there always is : such observations are always wrong, as it turned out above, and it will in due time turn out about each and every one. This is the only known truth about all propositions in all sciences made at any point throughout history to the present day : they have an expiration date. They are only an approximation, correct until no longer. This, by the way, is a mystical attribute not shared by nature itself. Nature itself is always right, which for our purposes here means unchanging.
Consider that being wrong is a fundamental application of entropy, that is fundamentally different from the physical function thereof. This is what "mysticism" is : the ability to apply entropy towards non-physical results. As such, it's an unexplainable phenomenon.[↩]
- Or items, why not. Things, or entites, or items. How does this sound, how does it roll off the tongue ?
Because that is exactly all it does, words name things, they do not anything.[↩]
- It always amuses me, this tendency of the classifier to pretend classifications are observable -- and "facts", at that! They aren't, either observable or factual. That "the world consists of objects, ie нечтореальносуществующее-s, ie en-titties" is not something that can be observed, nor something that can be true. Just like "once upon a time" is the prelude to a story, just so "we classify X as X1,X2,X3 according to rule Q" is a prelude to a story. The rule better be good and the subdivisions interesting, or else. Or else what ? Or else we don't care. This is the difference between fact and fiction : for fiction it is paramount that someone, somewhere gives a shit. [↩]
- So by this amusement alone, a simplified world consisting of nothing but the same tetrahedron cloned to infinity would nevertheless be made "of different things" had Mr. Rothbard experienced acute sharpness of a point, slashy sharpness of an edge and flat pressure of a surface. Because, obviously, if the tetrahedrons were all the same thing then Mr. Rothbard wouldn't be feeling the points of some, the edges of others, and the faces of others still.
The poisonous nonsense about "man -- measure of all things" has apparently ruined all minds for reason or something.[↩]
- Man has an attribute known as mentula by Martial. Woman has a slit between her legs, starting at the youngest age (I've checked). These are attributes, of man and woman respectively, and thereby it follows, by the overpowering logic of "don't we all recognize that a rose is different from an eggplant", that man and woman have different natures.
It is sad ass-clownery of this sort, escaped as it finds itself from the ghetto of marginal, adolescentine ineptitude, that ends up giving respectable notions a bad name (in the eyes of ass-clowns from geographically distinct but mentally superimposed ghettos).[↩]
- Henry B. Veatch, in his For an Ontology of Morals: A Critique of Contemporary Ethical Theory (Evanston, III.: Northwestern University Press, 1971), p. 7, states:
Recourse must be had to an older notion than that which has now come to be in fashion among contemporary scientists and philosophers of science. . . . Surely, in that everyday world of centurion-sense existece in which, as human beings, and for all of our scientific sophistication, we can hardly cease to live and move and have our being, we do indeed find ourselves constantly invoking an older and even a decidedly common sense notion of "nature" and "natural law." For don't we all recognize that a rose is different from an eggplant, and a man from a mouse, and hydrogen from manganese? To recognize such differences in things is surely to recognize that they behave differently: one doesn’t expect of a man quite the same things that one does of a mouse, and vice versa. Moreover, the reason our expectations thus differ as to what various types of things or entities will do, or how they will act and react, is simply that they just are different kinds of things. They have different "natures," as one might say, using the old-fashioned terminology.
Leo Strauss (Natural Right and History [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953]) adds:
Socrates deviated from his predecessors by identifying the science of. .. everything that is, with the understanding of what each of the beings is. For "to be" means "to be something" and hence to be different from things which are "something else": "to be" means therefore "to be apart" (p. 122).
For a defense of the concept of nature, see Alvin Plantinga, The Name of Necessity (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974), pp. 71-81. [↩]
- If I drink another shot (out of the desperate agony of having decided to read unequipped dorks blather about things outside their purview), will I thereby obtain a child ?
The "various things" involved are as "delimitable" and "definable" as I trust you'll ever find : I am me, right, that's a wholesome and complete definition ; and the drink comes in 5 cl glasses, nicely shaped out of crystal with a thick, centimeter tall solid base gradually narrowing in, until the point where the glass proper begins and then parabolic sides dare sharply into the unknown. The very bottom of the glass is a half sphere cut into the base. They're very elegant, and very convenient for their purpose, and I am satisfied to have found the definitive design for such a glass, or at any rate the only kind I intend to hence use. They are filled with Ron Centenario Anejo Especial, seven years old.
So will I get a child, or won't I ? This is also "delimitable" isn't it, and "definable", and while you ponder that ponder this : has the effect of me becoming drunk been on the list of shit Rothbard predicted his infantile pseudophilosophical attempts in the vein of a new McGonagall will produce ? Various things met and results occured, right ?
No such thing as a known result has yet proceeded from known cause. There's a specific law of physics saying so, and if you think otherwise good for you and good luck in the future. You probably think all your sons are yours, also, don't you.[↩]
- See H.W.B. Joseph, An Introduction to logic, 2nd rev. ed (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1916), pp. 407-9. For a hard-hitting defense of the view that causation states a necessary relation among entities, see R. Harre and E. H. Madden, Causal Powers: A Theory of Natural Necessity (Totowa, NJ; Rowan and. Littlefield, 1975). [↩]
- Speaking of which naivite : look up фуфло. [↩]
- See Murray N. Rothbard, Individualism and the Philosophy of the Social Sciences (San Francisco: Cato Institute, 1979), p. 5. [↩]
- God help us with that "modern positivism", also. Best I can tell that whole field consists of people trying to take not reading any physics written after WW1 as far as it can possibly go and scant much else. [↩]
- Let's set aside this roses and man bullshit, satisfied as we find ourselves with the antique plucked chicken model of manhood, and instead focus on wasps. What is "the nature" of wasps ? The middlingly intelligent entomologist will imagine to have, after however many decades' practice, intuited a subtle and unexpressible "nature of waspdom", which will then inform his classification, opus magna of his career. Then actual science catches up with the quaint poets of an early age, and reclassifies all sorts of previous moths and flying ants as wasps and vice-versa, because you know, DNA proximity is a much better criterion than "intuited ineffable nature of waspdom". That this sort of thing occurs with some regularity and in all the sciences does not seem to discourage the "nature"alists. Perhaps because... blather is in their nature ? [↩]
- These are not insults. Something being arbitrary is not thereby disqualified from being ; something being "a priori" is not thereby illegitimate. [↩]
- And here we've veered straight into socialism.
No, there's no such thing as "objective" here contemplated, and no, the gate of humanity is not open to all comers. Man is not born, but become.[↩]
- It is rather like someone claiming the vermillionism of copper be open to rational investigation, but passons. [↩]
- And there is a further point: the very existence of a difference of opinion seems to imply that there is something objective about which disagreement can take place; for otherwise, there would be no contradictions in the different "opinions" and no worry about these conflicts. For a similar argument in refutation of moral subjectivisrn see G.E. Moore, Ethics (Oxford. 1963 ), pp. 63ff. [↩]
- He does, yes. When confronted with faux contradiction constructed entirely out of the hope that someone may be ensnared by all the noise into believing that "there must be something there they're disagreeing about", man precisely says "a plague on all your houses" and then walks away. [↩]
- This sort of nonsense often comes out of the uneducated. No, "such hard sciences as physics and chemistry" have not "had their errors and their fervent disputes".
For one thing, there's no such thing as "hardness", other than when a charlatan is trying to argue that the whore he's turning out is "to some degree a wife -- say when she sleeps".
For the other, and more important point : the "disputes" of physics are resolved inclusively, not exclusively. Keynes proposes that "all economics to date was wrong", much like Napoleon proposes that "all government to date was wrong". Exactly contrary to this, Einstein does not propose Newton was wrong, but that he was incomplete. The proposition isn't that the 1700s edition of the law of gravity was at any point incorrect ; but merely that in some extreme cases never before encountered or seriously considered, a more complex version of the same law yields better results. There's no such situation in physics whereby if you're going by Newtonian dynamics you should steer left, whereas if you're going by Planckian dynamics you should steer right. Meanwhile the case always is in economics (as it was in astrology before, at a time when astrologers were the "font of wisdom" and assorted insights into "the nature" of things and matters used by politicians), and always is in "social sciences" generally, that followers of X want one thing and followers of Y the other thing.[↩]
- The psychologist Leonard Carmichael, in "Absolutes, Relativism and the Scientific Psychology of Human Nature." in H. Schoeck and I. Wiggins, eds, Relatioism and the Study of Man (Princeton, N.I.: D. Van Nostrand, 196]}, p. 16, writes:
We do not turn aside from what we know about astronomy at any time because there is a great deal we do not know, or because so much that we once thought we knew is no longer recognized as true. May not the same argument be accepted in our thinking about ethical and esthetic judgments?
- This platitude is so oft repeated, and especially so oft peaks from the thick sauce of "all men are equal" nonsense, that I'm well tempted to disagree.
In any case -- how precisely do you know "no man" is one way or the other ? In the negative like that ? Really ?[↩]
- A sad collection, if that's how it will go -- the first time a positive law of this supposed whole canon waiting "just over the horizon" with its shiny armor all arrayed for battle is introduced, it turns out to be a negative, and for that matter so much metaphysical fluff of dubious origin.
You realise this is unthinking restatement of ancient religious canticle, do you ?[↩]
- Oh, right, the type of creature, I forgot, they come in types.
Like, you know, some people like to eat bread and so therefore bread is good for them, and some other people like to eat polenta, and so therefore polenta...
It's never been the case that all they fucking want is food and a harem anyway, oh no! But rather -- they want different things! Which just happens to be very narratively convenient, because it cheaply explains variance and diversity. But it's certainly not the case that the whole "difference" between things as introduced is simply there for this reason, much in the manner an inept would-be author re-reads his first draft, and realises that had he made Suzy a slut on page 35, her behaviour would be so much easier to explain when he needs her to take those pills on page 83, and so in the second draft we are regaled to a totally ironcland narrative structure where we've been aforetold why she's doing what she's doing and thus totally not deus ex machina and inept would-be author!
Rothbard finds himself in the position where he'd like to have a little bit of difference, to explain why my slavegirl fucks me, and his wife fucks also me (which community he misrepresents as -- slavegirl, obeys her vows, but wife breaks vows, therefore difference) but not so much difference as to end up with "some are born to sweet delight ; some are born to endless night", god forbid!
He's therefore stuck doing these inept pirouettes among tiresome, pointless citations of nobody in particular. I confess I'd have had a lot more respect for the man had he come out with it plainly and admitted all he wants is a cheap way to explain perceptibles without giving up any of the delusions he enjoys. He jus' wanted to, after all, neh ?[↩]
- Let's try a case together.
So, there's a girl, about 24. She thinks she has a college degree, because that's what they told her. She thinks she has a job, because they tell her to do things, and pay her in the sense of writing numbers on a webpage with regularity. She thinks she has opinions, because she can regurgitate random strings she read on glossy paper as well as any Shannon machine.
What is the nature of this girl ? Is it to get married and raise idiot children like the man who'd marry such pitch ? Or is it to "have a career" and "be indepedent", perhaps even raise to that most august summit of having been in the situation room ? If I tie her naked to concrete and whip her, and starve her, and let her wallow in her desperation and her own bloody tears until she breaks, will I encounter her "true" nature ? Or will I encounter a false nature, constructed by me out of her natureless substance ? If I then reconstruct the broken remains of a broken culture into the natural form that girl would have achieved, had she not spent all her youth among idiots, would I thus have... discovered her true nature ? What, in the way Praxiteles cut "the real marble" out of the slab ? Or will I have constructed... her true nature ? Which is not hers in any proper sense except by some contorted sort of inheritance I at least mediated, if not outright created ?
But that aside : what would be good for the girl ? Abduction or subduction ? Should she be rescued from her meaningless life, or should she be protected from the terrorism of any such "rescue" ? What, pray tell, is "the nature" saying here ?
And what does the fact that a priest is needed, to translate "nature", suggest to you ?[↩]
- Joseph Cropsey, "A Reply to Rothman," American Political Science Review (June 1962): 355. As Henry Veatch writes, in For an Ontology of Morals, pp. 7-8:
Moreover, it is in virtue of a thing’s nature -- i.e., of its being the kind of thing that it is -- that it acts and behaves the way it does. Is it not also in virtue of a thing’s nature that we often consider ourselves able to judge what that thing might or could be, but perhaps isn’t? A plant, for example, may be seen to be underdeveloped or stunted in its growth. A bird with an injured wing is quite obviously not able to fly as well as others of the same species. . . And so it is that a thing’s nature may be thought of as being not merely that in virtue of which the thing acts or behaves in the way it does, but also as a sort of standard in terms of which we judge whether the thing’s action or behavior is all that it might have been or could have been.
- For a similar approach to the meaning of goodness, see Peter Geach, "Good and Evil," in Philippa R. Foot, ed., Theories of Ethics (London: Oxford University Press, 1967), pp. 74-82. [↩]
- Utterly. It elucidates it so good as if it were to say "the largest element in an unindexed set is that element whose index exceeds all others". With such elucidation, who needs darkness anymore! [↩]
- Concretely, then. Couch and potato chips ? That's it, right, "netflix and chill", the most harmonious hm... I don't have the good learning of idle idiocy, and I sure as fuck aren't about to expose my arrogance to the very humiliating reality of having spent thousands of dollars to fatten various publishers of inept tracts like this guy. But wasn't it the case that most moral blathering by weight to date was precisely about NOT harmonizing man's nature, but going against it ?
Isn't the most common decoration of the early modern age a clock with a certain verse from some Virgin guy, something with circumvectamur in it ? Wasn't the whole fucking point of even having "morals" as a concept in this trivial, orcish language in the first place the desire of some people to have other people go against their "nature", which is to say indolence ? Well... either that or gin, I suppose, but still... wasn't all of South America raised by the whip, weren't the multitudes of the East, both North and South ground into the dust to build things, specifically because laziness and convenience were immoral ?
To think what a chance has been had since not very long ago.[↩]
- Contrast John Wild, in "Natural Law and Modern Ethical Theory," Ethics (October 1952): 2, who says:
Realistic ethics is founded on the basic distinction between human need and uncriticized individual desire or pleasure, a distinction not found in modern utilitarianism. The basic concepts of so-called "naturalistic" theories are psychological, whereas those of realism are existential and ontological.
- William J. Kenealy, S.J., "The Majesty of the Law," Loyola Law Review (1949-50): 112-13; reprinted in Brendan F. Brown, ed., The Natural Law Reader (New York: Oceana, 1960), p. 123. [↩]
- Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws Of England, Book 1: quoted in Brown, Natural Law Reader, p. 106. [↩]
For one thing, take the value of music. Music was initially drumming, and drumming was discovered for the following reason : being it a point of fact, and derived from unchanging and an age-old, genetically determined anatomical, physiological, and psychological make-up of man, that not everything that crawls out of cunt should live to see the next day, the ancient societies correctly murdered a proportion of all children -- the shittier ones.
Mothers, being rendered stupid by the nature of motherhood (which is very pointedly not human nature, just like the nature of rotting isn't the nature of the fruit), could not stand the yelps and cries of small babies being burned alive. As killing them before burning them was too much trouble, and as female tears, much like vomit, or yawning, are catching in the herd, people started banging on drums to drown the stimuli.
This worked, after a fashion ; and even after the jews came along and originally corrupted human society by trying to pry away women from their men through an appeal to their basest nature (in the form of -- come marry us for we do not kill children), drumming still maintained, and evolved, and eventually produced what you today call music. It still to this date readily allies itself with suffering, because such is its nature, as you can observe for instance in the phenomenon of "work songs" such as displayed by all mariners in the age of sail, or else to quote Grigore Lese,
Am noroc ca stiu cinta, ca-mi astimpar inima. Horile-s de stimparare la omu' cu suparare.
Yet you didn't know any of these things, and you didn't know them for the obvious fucking reason : the retelling of values as discovered by people throughout their time on Earth is a political act. You've absolutely no chance to encounter a fair recount of "historical human values", certainly no better chance than you have to encounter any other "just the facts". Consequently, all you will ever hear will be narrated -- and therefore false -- systems of values. Which will necessarily have to change, for the obvious reason -- even the best work of fiction becomes tedious through repetition. The one thing that's immune to tedium through repetition is also immune to narration, and for the same reasons.[↩]
- This is the old "socialism is an irreversible poison" nonsense. It's still nonsense, however packaged, whatever "persuasive context" be "helpfully" offered. [↩]
- Not always. For instance -- the murder of a certain criminal organisation's agents, florid and theatrically sadistic would have, besides the gratification of the inclinations of those who aesthetically appreciate such things (no, not by any means a minority) also the positive societal effect of discouraging lemmings from joining up the ranks of the criminal organisation in question. [↩]
- You would think this to be true, but then you might also be lucky enough to have it pointed out to you that
Every repeating two-dimensional geometric pattern, no matter how complex, can be classified into one of the 17 groups above. It doesn't matter whether the pattern is atoms in a crystal, cord marks on pottery, woven into a blanket, made with chalk on a sidewalk for a festival, or drawn in the sand. (No, patterns with five-fold symmetry are not possible, nor anything larger than 6. The familiar tiling of octagons and squares has eight-sided figures but only P4m symmetry. The stars on an American flag have five-fold symmetry, but the whole array of stars has symmetry Cm. The pattern has vertical mirror and glide planes, rather than the horizontal arrangement shown above. You might want to verify these points to see that you're really following this discussion.)
Now, how many cultures have discovered and used all 17 plane space groups? I know of three: Western Europe, the Islamic world, and China - and only Western Europe succeeded in showing rigorously that those 17 are the only ones possible. If only a few cultures out of thousands have systematically explored an art form that is all but universal, how can we say that humans in general are naturally creative or curious?
When I presented this point at a meeting, one challenger pointed out that other cultures may define creativity in different ways. First of all, we see a widespread failure by many cultures to explore fully an art medium that their own actions and tastes show is of interest to them. Second, and more critically, other cultures may choose to spend their intellectual energies in other ways, but creativity is defined as generating fundamentally new ideas. Elaborating endless variations on existing themes is creativity in a sense, but not of the same order as coming up with wholly new classes of ideas. This is not a value judgment, it is simply being true to the accurate usage of words. If a behavior does not fit the definition of creativity, it is not creative, whatever other merits it may have.
Apud Steve Dutch. But meanwhile, in more practical considerations, there are two kinds of children : those who have to learn to swim, and those who know how to swim. Children are born perfectly able to swim. If they are allowed contact with water regularly, they never forget. If they are kept away from it, their brain overwrites that part, and they can't swim anymore. This works in the positive also -- children are born perfectly able to learn any human language. If they hear a certain language around, they learn that, in preference of another. If they are raised by wolves, as it happened and still happens in Shitndia, they do not learn a language nor do they preserve the capacity to speak. So no, there isn't some sort of "human nature" with which all are born, other than in the most evanescent of senses.[↩]
- Carmichael, "Absolute-s," p. 9. [↩]
- Nevermind young plants whose leaves and bees and whatnot. Propositioning adults for sex is a natural tendency of minors. What now ? [↩]
- Wild, "Natural Law," pp. 4-5. Wild continues on p. 11:
Existence is. . . not a property but a structuralized activity. Such activities are a kind of fact. They can be observed and described by judgments that are true or false: human life needs material artifacts; technological endeavors need rational guidance; the child has cognitive faculties that need education. Value statements are founded on the directly verifiable fact of tendency or need. The value or realization is required not merely by us but by the existent tendency for its completion. From a sound description and analysis of the given tendency we can infer the value founded upon it. This is why we do not say that moral principles are mere statements of fact, but rather that they are "founded" on facts.
On pp. 2 -- 4, Wild says:
The ethics of natural law . . . recognizes prescriptive moral laws but asserts that these are founded on tendential facts which maybe described. . . .Goodness . . . must. . . be conceived dynamically as an existential mode, the realization of natural tendency. In this view, the world is not made up of determinate structures alone, but of determinate structures in an act of existing which they determine toward further appropriate acts of existing. . . . No determinate structure can be given existence without determining active tendencies. When such a tendency is fulfilled in accordance with natural law, the entity is said to be in a stable, healthy, or sound condition -- adjectives of value. When it is obstructed or distorted, the entity is said to be in an unstable, diseased or unsound condition -- adjectives of disvalue. Goodness and badness in their ontological sense are not phases of abstract structure, but rather modes of existence, ways in which the existential tendencies determined by such structures are either fulfilled or barely sustained in a deprived, distorted state.
- Either that or "close your eyes and think of the Empire", whichever.
What the shit idiocy is all this ?! I should feel because I think others do ?! Ede stercus meum & mori. (M. T. Cicero, E ad Fam, ed. Shithead & Analgape LLC, somewhere in New Jersey I'm sure.)[↩]
- Ibid, p. 12. For more on a defense of natural law ethics, see John Wild, Plato’s Modern Enemies and the Theory of Natural Law (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953); Henry Veatch, Rational Man: A Modern Interpretation of Aristotelian Ethics (Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1962): and Veatch, For An Ontology of Morals. [↩]
- Hume in fact failed to prove that values cannot be derived from facts. It is frequently alleged that nothing can be in the conclusion of an argument which was not in one of the premises; and that therefore, an "ought" conclusion cannot follow from descriptive premises. But a conclusion follows from both premises taken together; the "ought" need not be present in either one of the premises so long as it has been validly deduced. To say that it cannot be so deduced simply begs the question. See Philippa R. Foot, Virtues and Vices (Berkeley: University of California Press, "1978), pp. 99 -- 105.
~ * ~
This is some of the dumbest shit I ever read ; but it does go a very long way towards explaining why a certain sort of idiot gravitates towards this particular author, and why it is precisely the sort of nut that also goldbugs, or attempts ridiculous feats of engineering.
- It's altogether unclear how much of Hume actually is in there ; but perhaps the notion that narcissistic pantsuitism / ourdemocracy is all about "unanalyzable emotions -- lest they get told off" is not so far off point. [↩]
- Only if by "man" we really mean the pregnant human female, as everyone else has very different order needs from hers. [↩]
- This is rank nonsense, of course : children manage to live in social order without conceiving what such order is, or what its advantages would be, or what of the norms of conduct imposed upon them is necessary. Native africans dwelling today in Africa, intellectually inept on the level of children, similarily live in an order they neither conceive nor, for that matter, much care to understand. [↩]
- Right-o. As usual with the socialist writer, "goals justify the means" and we're expected to admit his earlier inanity because we intend to cash in by his "conclusions" such as they are.
I personally don't happen to love my person enough to insist it be respected through the inept contrivance of "a necessarily comprehensible order". I will use the whip without hesitation to impose respect for my person to those who don't, by their own power and on their own dime, "conceive" and whatever the fuck else.[↩]
- The only substance of justice in the public sense is oppression. The original model of public justice, Rome, constructed such justice through the systematic oppression of a majority of the population -- at home and abroad. Their verbose, miserable yet infinitely pretentious imitators -- "Imperial" England -- similarily maintained public justice only through, and only as an instrument of, systematic oppression. That this is the role and the point of public justice is readily apparent when we consider that the present day US "law enforcement officer"'s failure to identify the superior group, and his tendency to apply the same methods to the poor black peon as to the rich white citizen is what, specifically, makes present day government of that country a criminal organisation, outside of any possible conception of justice. If the state is not organized towards the systematic oppression of a definite and recognizable group, it can't be said that it is organized at all, and moreover it can't even properly be deemed to exist in any meaningful sense. [↩]
- Tell that to the witches of Salem ; and to the faggots of Stonewall Inn, and to the jews of the 1939 White Paper, and to all other beneficiaries of the sharp end of justice throughout the centuries.
Nay, no such nonsense. Justice is the following proposition : that powerful men need not bother themselves to personally whip every no good subhuman pointlessly shading the Earth, much like they don't need to personally bake the bread they eat or twist the rope they use. Instead, let's build a bakery, and buy the bread from the baker, and a rope factory, and buy the rope, and a "seat of justice" and buy the requisite oppression by the cubit. It's cheaper, and faster, and easier that way. This, and nothing else, is the entire proposition of even having a state in the first place, and why The Most Serene Republic even exists at all. Without this, we'd just all go back to whipping our own slaves ourselves and that'd be that for human culture for the foreseeable future.[↩]
- O look, he arrives at the exact same conclusion -- that the fucking point of the state is oppression -- except he thinks he did it ever so elloquentlier than I. Pish. [↩]
- A. Kenneth Hesselberg, "Hume, Natural Law and Justice," Duquesne Review (Spring 1961): 46-47. [↩]
- Ibid. [↩]
- It is rather improper to discuss justice and property in the same line, and it is especially improper to lead with justice, as if property somehow flows from it. In point of fact, justice is just another form of manifestation of property, much like submission (have you ever wondered why cunt juices flow whether cunt... bearer, let's say, "wants" or "doesn't want" to get fucked ?), or art flow naturally from the fact of property. [↩]
- David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, quoted in Hesselberg, "Hume, Natural Law, and Justice," p. 61. Hesselberg adds perceptively that Hume's sharp ought-is dichotomy in the earlier chapters of Hume‘s Treatise stemmed from his restricting the meaning of "reason" to finding pleasure-pain objects, and determining the means to achieve them. But, in the later chapters on justice, the very nature of the concept compelled Hume "to assign a third role to reason, namely its power to judge actions in terms of their suitability; or conformity or disconformity, to man's social nature, and thus paved the way for the return to a natural law concept of justice." Ibid., pp. 61-62.
For some doubt whether or not Hume himself intended to assert the fact -- value dichotomy, see AC. Macintyre, "Hume on ‘Is’ and ’Ought," in W. D. Hudson, ed., The Is-Ought Question (London: Macmillan, 1969), pp. 35-50. [↩]
- George P. Grant, "Plato and Popper," The Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science (May 1954): 191-92. [↩]