Frontier Freedom

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Fragment 143, word count: 447.

The Franks, Goths, Angles, and Saxons and a number of other groups came overland into western Europe around the fourth century, colonizing and displacing indigenous peoples there who had previously been colonized and were now abandoned by the imperial Romans. Somewhat over a thousand years later, from the sixteenth century, descendants of those Goths, Franks, Angles, and Saxons, now fully Christianized European imperialists, subjected the indigenous peoples of America and many other places to the same assaults with new weapons. Deja vu all over again. There is an essential racism at the core of such violence, an idea of superiority which licenses any brutality. That idea of hierarchy derived from the macro-parasitism of herding culture on the Great Eurasian Steppe. Subjected people were perceived as livestock. In both colonizations there was a profound contempt for empathy which defined a (Kantian) lawlessness and ensured that the supreme value would be personal fighting ability and a culture of organized fighting which came to define masculinity. In that situation, it is the strongest who claim rights to anything that might count as a trophy, not just property but lives. Without empathy, rights (and everything else) belong to the strongest, and frontier freedom is the assertion of the superiority of the strongest and the unlimited rights of superior beings. Theirs is a parasitic freedom that creates and depends on slavery and murder. The American idea of freedom grounded in the freedom of the old western frontier is identical to a romantic idea of medieval feudalism in western Europe and expresses a cultural memory of that experience *. Frontier freedom (no taxes, no regulations, private guns) is the freedom of the marauder. This idea of freedom in which strength in combat and competition defines rights is still a living force in cultures of value and wealth based on consumption and trophy property, conspicuous in normal operations of corporations and generally in investor supremacist capitalism.

These cultural experiences have inspired a certain idea of human nature as a blank slate, an inherent problem (of non-existence craving existence) overcome more or less successfully by projection of a self-image using external consumables, properties, and the conflicts to possess such things. The strongest or fittest are revealed by the quantity and sparkle of the properties they conquer. This is the metaphysics of patriarchy, propaganda for the romantic idea that the strongest are legitimate sovereigns. However, human nature and freedom are really quite different. Human nature is the spontaneous creation of freedom at the level of the embodied individual, a creation that is interior to the individual as ideality. This universally inherent freedom of the individual is invisible to anyone conceiving psychology without conceiving ideality.

* Compare Chapter 8, ‘The Frontier’, pp. 103-117, in: A Vanished World : Medieval Spain’s Golden Age of Enlightenment, written by Christopher Lowney, Published by Free Press (2005), ISBN: 0743243595.

Copyright © 2019 Sandy MacDonald.

 

‘What Matters’ Idealism

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Fragment 142, word count: 291.

Metaphysics is part of the orientation within which we operate. Everybody has some metaphysical framework, learned with other culture at an early age. Religion, for example, is metaphysics, since it asserts specific ideas about existence as such. Without thinking about metaphysics you have a culturally imposed perception of everything. Thinking about metaphysics usually begins with wonder at the existence of the world-of-things. However, the world of things doesn’t matter in the least without the existence of some personality such as you, dear reader, engaged in experience of that world, having ideas about it. The existence of things is much easier to measure, map, describe, conceive, and confront than the life of ideas, but without ideality the world of things doesn’t matter. So, metaphysics that matters is an effort to clarify the problematic existence of ideas and ideality. There have been different versions of metaphysical idealism, ideas about the existence of ideas, from Platonism* to Romanticism**. Ideality takes a variety of forms: consciousness, questioning, wonder, caring (often desperate), searching, learning, knowing, judging, doubting, orientation, willful intention, agency, teleological bearing-into-futurity. ‘Teleology’ means ‘purpose’, ‘reason’ or ‘a poise within the anticipatory ideation of agency’. It is a striving toward a specific not-yet or non-actuality, the very essence of creation. What is decisive is that all forms of ideality occur together in the living experience of an embodied personality. We know this from personal caring and interactions with other beings who express caring. Personalities produce coherent utterances and acts which are expressive of ideation in the forms of caring, knowledge, and intention, for example. Personality is known by a creatively expressive voice and willful teleology. This is the existence of the teleological vectors of ideality we know as personalities.

Embedded links:

* Fragment 93, April 20, 2016, The Misconception of Spirituality in Platonism (URL: http://wp.me/p1QmhU-7R)

** Fragment 91, February 20, 2016, Romantic Idealism and the Mind of God (URL: http://wp.me/p1QmhU-7E)

Copyright © 2019 Sandy MacDonald.

Ockham’s Razor Meets Ideas

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fragment 141, word count: 432.

An advantage of recognizing the effective existence of ordinary embodied personalities as vectors of ideality and caring is that it then becomes unnecessary to violate Ockham’s Razor by positing some metaphysical fable about ideas. To deny ideas is to deny consciousness itself, since consciousness is ideality, the most evident ideality. Ideas certainly have presence in the consciousness, that is, in the orientation and deliberate actions, of particular persons. We know this from personal experience and conversations with fellow beings. With the recognition of teleological personalities creating their individual lives in the world, there is no need for Platonic Ideal Forms at the apex of a hierarchy of existence, or for Aristotelian universals, substantial forms, existing in addition to particulars. There is no need for levels of reality such as in Roy Bhaskar’s Critical Realism. There is no need for any kind of idealism which in any way separates ideas from ordinary embodied persons. Certainly ideas are elements of culture, but culture exists only in the orientation of particular persons and the ability that such orientation includes to create, read, and understand artifacts.

Ordinary consciousness is full of ideas, full of caring. Any person’s consciousness is a bearing future-ward expressing an elaborate orientation created over a personal lifetime. It is a fountain of teleological possibilities in a creative arc of developmental continuity that is a particular life. Personality is a self-thinking idea of a particular embodied life in the world, an oriented bearing into not-yet from a particular no-longer, here among a structure of theres, now among thens-no-longer and thens-not-yet, in a creative arc of ideation. Personality, the self-thinking idea, is always revising itself without breaking its creative arc of continuity. Every individual at any moment is calculating the probabilities of an array of expectations, enacting intentions, reading sensory stimulations as revelations of the surroundings, searching for reference markers and making adjustments on the basis of surprises, constructing a teleological structure within the sense of the passing of time. This being is a fountain of original curiosity, guesses, and expressive impulses, a being of ideas and ideality. Reading sensations in perceiving brute actuality is restricted to some here and now, but there is no perception of here without a sense of there, and there is no now without a sense of then, and then and there are always ideas, features of a person’s orientation in a continuously elaborating situation in a world in time, a situation demanding ongoing teleological reconstruction of intentions, aspirations, and guesses about possibilities and probabilities in an increasingly remote future.

Copyright © 2019 Sandy MacDonald.

The Most Important Event in History

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Fragment 140, word count: 1,077.

Before the scientific Enlightenment of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the world as a whole was perceived as a living Being, personified. The innermost reality of all existence was sensed as an expressive voice, creative personality, willful teleology. ‘Teleology’ means ‘purpose’, ‘reason’ or ‘a poise within the anticipatory ideation of agency’. It is a striving toward a specific not-yet or non-actuality, the essence of creation. However, that conception of teleological personality was structured weirdly, as bimodal, with a divine version and a strictly subordinate human version. There was a recognized sameness of transcendence between human and divine personality since both produce coherent utterances and acts expressive of ideation in the forms of caring, knowledge, and intention, unlike inanimate nature. This bimodal personality informs the religious view of the purpose and meaning of life and existence. (In Aristotle’s minority opinion there is yet another version of teleology, final cause, a minimalist bundle of impulses in every individual object, not so dissimilar from his stripped down conception of divine personality in celestial spheres. Aristotle’s instances of final cause are so minimal that they seem almost mechanical, lacking spontaneity. Remarkably, those object essences were incorporated into the Christian conception of nature through the work of Thomas Aquinas.) The point is: for by far most of human cultural history the foundational and clearest kind of existence conceived was the living of vectors of ideality, the teleological vectors of caring we call personalities, known primarily in everyone’s personal experience of caring and of familiar interactions with other beings who express caring. Caring is an ideality at the heart of the transcendence of personality. Things matter to personalities as caring beings. The conditions of our living within a variable world are important to us. Without caring personalities nothing has any importance, nothing matters.

So, considering the question “What should we make of the existence of personality (teleology)?”; we note that what religion makes of it is the creative source of everything, recognizing teleology as transcendently alive, creative, caring, and expressive, but most truly at home at some dimly imagined cosmic horizon, part of a weird denigration of human personality by comparison, making individual human consciousness a frail echo of a cosmic master situated as divine judge and tester of all, a model of sovereignty as absolute ownership over everything less powerful. That patriarchal conception of teleology inspired and sanctified very rigid, restricted, exploitative, and repressively hierarchical top-down societies, dedicated to the culture of violet masculinity, and determined to remain essentially static for eternity, supposedly to persuade the cosmic teleology to tilt benign. Such are the foundations of our current dystopian patriarchies. These societies are not echoes of divine nature but expressions of misconceptions and superstitions developed into enduring cultures, the most extreme fears and fantasies institutionalized and culturally enforced.

The scientific Enlightenment pitched a new idea of fundamental reality, arguably the most important event in history, ridding humankind from oppressive superstitious dread and leaping beyond previous physical limitations through a deeper engagement with nature. It did this by abandoning personification in a transition to an inertial/ entropic conception of events, nothing less than the complete elimination of teleology from the thought of reality. What science makes of teleology, then, is nothing, proposing to interpret all apparent instances of teleology as mechanical structures, pre-set responses triggered by random stimuli. Note that this amounted to an even worse denigration of individual human personality than the weird bimodal religious conception. Materialist science claims the elimination of metaphysics since any idea of transcendence is excluded. However, science presents its ultimate mystery of space/ time/ mass/ energy, Nature, as a distinctly sovereign transcendence, omnipotent and predestining events forever in an extreme version of Calvinism. The novelty is that the scientific mystery is a dead thing, inertial and entropic, with no trace of reason, a world that, in the absence of teleological persons, absolutely doesn’t matter. As such, the scientific revolution was the cultural expression of a metaphysical speculation which unfortunately served exactly the same sanctifying function for existing patriarchal political structures as the weird idea of divine personality.

Empiricism’s Evasion of Metaphysics

An attack, widely considered persuasive, on the idea of personalities as coherent and fundamental realities is David Hume’s empiricist survey of his experience. Like the self for which Hume (no stranger to Calvinism) searched his subjectivity in vain, language competence is also nowhere to be discovered in the “bundle of impressions” that Hume identified. Introspection of the kind described by Hume reveals nothing like a sophisticated linguistic competence, elaborated over a long period of social interactions, but such competence is certainly and crucially present in the whole framework of adult orientation from which any individual makes sense of immediate sensations which arrive and pass as Hume described. Hume was skeptical of the continuity (and so the existence) of a subject, a personality, but linguistic competence does not flit in and out of an individual’s subjectivity like an atomic impression of red. It endures and is built upon, learned and reinvented over a lengthy and complex experience involving the creative arc of developmental continuity of an enduring personality making and integrating insights. Linguistic competence is also very personal, expressing a reading history, for example, as well as regional peculiarities of dialect. (Individual voices exist independently of language and always apply pressure on language-culture to suit their particular ideas of expression, clearly accomplished in the case of William Shakespeare.) Linguistic competence is a complex elaboration of an individual’s orientation in a life in the world, importantly different from a bundle of sensory atoms or impressionistic imprints.

General acceptance of the scientific metaphysics did not eliminate dystopian patriarchal societies devoted to war, but merely put stronger energies, more massively destructive weapons, into the hands of their controlling minorities. Those factions gained new entitlement as instruments of omnipotent nature, above reproach since morality and empathy do not apply to people as mechanistic structures. The root problem in both metaphysical speculations considered here, religion and science, is the perverse denigration of ordinary human personality. As untidy as it might be, the only hope for release from the straight jacket of superstitious dread and the straight jacket of nihilism in the face of all-predetermining Nature is a recognition of two coexisting mysteries: brute uncaring nature and, within it, a vast multitude of localized individually caring personalities of the ordinary kind, transcendent vectors of ideality, creative fountains of novel teleological ideas for their future in the world.

Copyright © 2019 Sandy MacDonald.

Why Politics isn’t Science

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Posting 139, word count: 793.

Politics is the competition for power, for effective ownership and control of lives and property, but there is also a countervailing movement against power that is inherent in politics without being part of the competition for power. This countervailing force expresses the underdog side of the historical quarrel over transcendence. The dominant side of that quarrel is the idea of a cosmic teleological force to be feared and placated, an external sovereign transcendence who promotes local operatives to impose the universal structure of supremacy and hierarchy. That idea of transcendence is a sanctification of power, normally coupled with a depiction of ordinary embodied personalities as envious and grasping. These are in the background of every person’s upbringing. On the other side of the transcendence quarrel is the idea that the only transcendence is each embodied individual’s teleological processes, each individual’s ideas, ordinary consciousness itself, and that is the resistance to power.

There is a third option, a repudiation of any and all transcendence. Materialist science claims to assert this but presents its ultimate mystery of mass/ energy/ space/ time as a distinct sovereign transcendence, a dead one, inertial and entropic, with no trace of reason, a world that, in itself, absolutely doesn’t matter.

The reason that politics can never be science is precisely ideas and ideality. The past and present of political actuality, dominated by hierarchical power, do not determine the future because ideality is unpredictably creative and utters conceptions of change in social, economic, and political cultures. Such changes always face predictable efforts to stifle them by conservative factions dedicated to preserving systems of hierarchy by both lethal force and the grotesque ideas of sovereign transcendence cited above. The scientific attitude that everything is determined by inflexible law, and so must always remain much as it is (a metaphysical idea), is indistinguishable from the conservative effort. Science has no help to offer in our political predicament. However, realty as experienced has two foundational constituents. One is actuality and the other is ideality in the form of a multitude of embodied personalities fountaining ideas. Every individual is an idea, the self-thinking idea of a particular life in the world, a particular idea of freedom, and ideas are not intrinsically hierarchical. Ideality is the transcendent being of personality at the level of the embodied individual, and ideality can effectively override in actuality what may seem to be givens of nature. In our being as fountains of ideas, people impose original events on the brute fall-lines of nature. A fountain of ideas is an imposer of change, and not a passive receiver or victim of time. (Here is the teleological structure in the sense of the passage of time.) Materialist science is not equipped to conceive personalities as fountains of teleological ideas, but an understanding of politics must do so for the chance of improvement in our longstanding dystopia.

The Question

The foundational status of ideality in experience, that is, in the world that matters, lands us squarely in metaphysics rather than science, and the whole of metaphysics rests on a single question: What should we make of teleology? ‘Teleology’ means ‘purpose’, ‘reason’ or ‘a poise within the anticipatory ideation of agency’. What should we make of the anticipatory ideation of agency which we know as consciousness? It is standard to present teleology in a stripped-down form to make it seem consistent with a mechanistic stimulus-response model of behaviour, separating it from how it is encountered in ordinary experience, namely as embodied personality. However, teleology really is personality. There have been attempts to show that purposive action can be reduced to automatic mechanisms pre-set to be triggered by specific stimuli. Such attempts are thoroughly political because if people are mechanisms it doesn’t matter how they are treated since morality and empathy are inapplicable to machines. So, denying ordinary consciousness as transcendence, as a fountain of teleological ideas with a creative arc of developmental continuity, that is, as personality, has the intent and effect of legitimizing the deception and manipulation of groups and individuals by people in culture pods enacting a fetish for power and trophies.

Teleology isn’t as simple as programmes of specific pragmatic operation, but also includes various creative postures bearing into futurity including curiosity, wondering, seeking and discovering original ways to make sense of things, existential questioning, and expressing all this in a personal voice. As thinking beings who use ideality for freedom by anticipating and imposing the novelty of original ideas on brute actuality, we are all in an immediate position to know that the bleak conservative story of human nature as a pit of appetites and envy is false! Liberation comes simply from declining to believe the default cultural teachings because the truth is plainly different.

Copyright © 2019 Sandy MacDonald.

Underdog in the Transcendence Quarrel

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Posting 138, word count: 560.

In the year 1277 the Bishop of Paris published a condemnation of 219 propositions being taught in philosophy classes at the University of Paris faculty of arts. In that condemnation the arts masters “are specifically proscribed from asserting “that there is no more excellent state than the study of philosophy”…” *. Apparently the Bishop and his intelligence analysts recognized this proposition as an existential threat.

It may not appear so at first glance, but the proposition “that there is no more excellent state than the study of philosophy” was and is incendiary for mainstream ideology. It denies the primacy of property possession, for example, along with the validity of the rights, trophies, and glamour of the strongest. It also asserts the underdog side in an ancient quarrel that was crucial for any Christian Bishop.

From ancient times there has been an ongoing quarrel over transcendence. On one side is the idea of an external sovereign transcendence to be feared and placated, a cosmic teleological force who chooses local agents to impose the universal pattern of sovereign dominance and hierarchy. On the other side of this quarrel is the idea that the only real transcendence is in each and every individual’s teleological processes simply as such. A case can be made that the transition from religion to philosophy is the movement from the first to the second. The mental movement that is philosophical thinking reaches a eureka! of self-recognition as a thinking being, as ideality, with a very special sort of absolute self-sufficiency in thinking. Martin Luther is an example of someone with a clear sense of absolute autonomy as a thinking being (in spite of his belief that the specifics of divine predestination cannot be known). For philosophy to be possible it is necessary for an individual to evade the default enculturation of a personal value-identity assigned by an ambient hive mind, and the norms of social pragmatism based on trust of authority, a superego, sovereignty. The act of philosophical self-recognition is always an individual’s questioning, searching on a principle of relevance intrinsic to a sense of wonder. The philosophical answer is the questioning itself: self-recognition as the sort of being who questions spontaneously, a fountain of original ideality. The way of being of personality is fundamental because that way of being selects and shapes any possible experience.

Thinking, Waking, Self-Possession

Fichte asked: How can an act of thinking wake you from pragmatic getting along to the discovery of yourself as ideality, a creative subject rather than an object? ** A related question is this: Is there some specific thinking that can reliably bring a person to self-consciousness as creative teleological ideality, or is it always just luck or an accident?

Having to make an effort to think about thinking means that pre-philosophical thinking activity is often performed un-self-consciously. To think about thinking is to direct a certain unsatisfied curiosity at curiosity itself. It is to question both questioning and intuitions of what is relevant at a certain moment, and to consider the spiritual condition of readiness-to-recognize something new, how something is learned, to wonder about acts of changing the sensed framework of orientation by which effort is exerted teleologically in a chosen direction. It is to wonder at the teleological structure of the sense of the passing of time.

Notes:

* The House of Wisdom: How the Arabs Transformed Western Civilization, written by Jonathan Lyons, Published by Bloomsbury Press (2009), ISBN: 978-1596914599. (p. 195).

** Romanticism, A German Affair, written by Rudiger Safranski, translated from German by Robert E. Goodwin, published by Northwestern University Press (2014), ISBN 978-0-8101-2653-4. (p. 42).

Copyright © 2018 Sandy MacDonald.

Did Science Make Philosophy Obsolete?

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Posting 137, Word Count: 501.

Before the scientific Enlightenment of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the world as a whole was perceived universally as personified, as a living Being. As such, intelligent teleology was thought to be the innermost reality of everything, of existence. That is religion, near enough. Remarkably, the eventful objective world was thought to be never-truly-real, a fleeting, deceptive, dreamlike, and unknowable shimmer, where everything soon becomes something else, always on the point of being different. Time itself was thought to be the genius of failure-to-be-real, and reality, properly identified, was conceived as eternal sameness, the One of Parmenides, a living, conscious, willing, and ideal, sameness. Metaphysics was the effort to identify features of that living ideality which could never change, subsisting without time, and so the stuff of absolute knowledge. In that effort, the transcendence of living intelligence, of personality, was conceived, for example, as logos, a rigidly structured willing that was eternally constant. However, such a removal of ideality from the eventful intervention of personality into actuality is a gross confusion and contradiction of ordinary experience. It completely misses the transcendence of ideality in its bearing toward newness, in the creative will to freedom in that intervention. Ideality is always experience for some personality, and personality is a kind of existence which must actively develop its identity by creating an oriented bearing into the non-actual next moment of embodied life in the world, a newness and incompleteness that can occur only as ideality, never something definite, always bearing into newness in the willing of freedom, and so within time as a technique of living existence. Since time requires some sort of presence of the non-actualities which are no-longer and not-yet, and the only presence other than actuality is ideality, and since ideality is always experience for some teleological personality, then time is a thing of personality and not of actuality.

Eternity is the world that doesn’t matter. Eternity is not transcendent or ultimate reality, and has no merit as the focus of metaphysics. The focus of metaphysics is transcendence, and the transcendent wonder is willful agency, teleology, which is ideality imposing novelty on nature by conceiving and imposing time. Since nature just falls, true becoming isn’t imposed on experience by material nature, but is imposed on material nature by personality in its willful agency.

Thinking of teleology in the narrow sense of goal-oriented movement, purposive action, or future-directed force, is too simple a representation of personality, the self-thinking idea. Of course, personality strives toward a specific not-yet or non-actuality, which is the essence of creation and of teleology, but there is more. There is an effortful bearing into indefinite futurity within a broad learned and learning orientation involving both not-yet and no-longer, strict ideality making what sense we can of a largely indefinable situation, curious, caring, questioning. Personality is teleology, which must be ideality, the time-scape ideality of aspiration, expectation, intention, and desperate desire.

Copyright © 2018 Sandy MacDonald.

Human and Divine Personality

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Posting 136, Word Count: 923.

Positing the idea of divinity (even Platonic ideas) removes from the idea of humanity the transcendent power of creation, which properly belongs with the ideality of any personality because personality is teleology. Both of these ideas, divine and human, are unquestionably instances of personality since only personality strives toward a specific not-yet or non-actuality, which is the essence of creation and of teleology. Teleology anticipates conditions and objects which do not exist except in some person’s ideation, but which might possibly be made to exist if a specific anticipated agency is exercised through an increasingly remote and improbable future. Human persons do this all the time and, supposedly, so did the divine personality. This teleology of creation is the crucial identifier of personality, expressed as curiosity, caring, questioning, learning, and expressive voice or agency, all teleological postures.

Positing the Grotesque Bifurcation of Personality

The conceptual removal from humans of the power of creation results in two monstrosities. First is an impoverished conception of ordinary embodied personality. What is left here is the conservative vision of human nature as a deficiency that craves acquisition, consumption, and competition, a hollow pit to be filled with property acquisition and competitions for trophies. That is a human nature in urgent need of control and sovereign supervision because its default mood is envy. On that view, inherent deficiencies drive a compulsive egoism that is such a flaw or taint that people deserve and require sovereign supervision to dampen the inevitable war of all against all; in practice to reshape it into ‘good’ wars against other sovereigns. Supposedly, any sovereign is better than none. The second monstrosity is an imaginary disembodied super-personality with exclusive and total creativity, fountain of all existence, who naturally picks favourites to impose the required sovereignty. Once the bleak egoism of this hollowed out humanity is structured into political institutions it becomes difficult to question, even when the idea of divinity weakens and fades into the cultural background. The political results of this vision are always dystopian.

Humanity

Contrary to the conservative and consensus view, the crucial thing about ‘human nature’ or personality at the level of the embodied individual is creative teleology, the spontaneous creation of freedom through the ideation of alternative ways into the future. Ideas, and only ideas, are not restricted to what is actually the case at any particular time, and ideas are always features of the developing orientation of a personality in the temporal flight of agency. Personality isn’t a hollow pit but a fountain of ideas. Ideas fountain from personality, and fountains of ideas benefit from a different kind of interconnectedness than that ordered by sovereignty! The being of subjectivity is ideality, which is to say, the sense of orientation in time in a particularly embodied life in the world. Subjective ideality is an existence, the particular flight of such a life. Time as teleology is the self-creation of a particular life-in-the-world, the effecting idea of a particular life, a spiritual being, a person. Realty as engaged by any personality has two fundamental constituents: actuality and ideality or ideas, and ideality, entirely a feature of individual personality, often overrides what may seem to be dictates of nature. Actuality cannot be only and entirely an idea, but teleological time is entirely ideas.

Politics as the Test of Reality

The existence of teleological ideality (personality) is what is crucial politically because its existence, as the means by which freedom is created, is completely de-centralized, active independently in the consciousness of each embodied person. Human ideality will always make efforts to express its fundamental nature which is individual creative freedom. We orient ourselves with ideas about nature and other personalities, interpretations of experience, concepts created in the context of the teleological need to create an open-ended and interconnected future-life. Individual subjectivity has an important degree of creative freedom to conceptualize and re-conceptualize the structures of the world, and to intervene in forming and altering those structures by exploiting the fundamental instability of actuality experienced as the passage of time. The conceptions of subjective ideality and their cultural expressions are tentative and mutable under the force of new experience, deliberation, and creativity.

In the scientific conceptual system “subjective” is a dismissive pejorative, missing the fact that all knowledge, all conception and perception of the objective world is an accomplishment of subjectivity, spirituality. Without the caring spirituality there is just a pointless drifting of nothing that matters. Knowledge is a condition of ideality, which is to say, a condition of personality, of subjective orientation and the bearing of its agency. Qualities of ideality contribute more to what knowledge is than does strict actuality, and that means that knowledge is inherently ephemeral. Knowledge claims, claims to know things, mean that certain patterns have been stable in personal frameworks of orientation, but conceptions of knowledge don’t define actuality in any absolute way. They define an idea of actuality. Politics especially is far more shaped by ideas and human ideality than by nature. So far, the idea of the bifurcation of personality into human and divine has supported forms of political organization that obstruct the efforts of people to express fundamental humanity which is individual creative freedom. Acknowledging the existence of ideality requires acknowledging each person as a spontaneous creator of freedom, a transcendence, and the need for a social and political arrangement which respects the expression of every individual instead of supporting systems of macro-parasitism such as investor-supremacist capitalism and war-hungry sovereignty.

Copyright © 2018 Sandy MacDonald.

Getting Past the Political Right-Wing

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Posting 135, Word Count: 585.

Given the mass military and industrial mobilization against Nazism and Fascism in the multinational war of 1939-45, it is bizarre and mystifying to witness the popular reemergence of those movements within the same Euro-American societies which previously mounted all-out resistance based on cultural influences from the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century. It is a mistake to define the historical Enlightenment as mainly the development of science and mathematical rationality. It is more accurate to think of Enlightenment as a reconceptualization of the human individual as a profound autonomy, freedom, and dignity, based on a universal innate rationality of personality. The broad sense of rationality involved had more to do with a cultural trend of increasing literacy and the unlimited ability to learn which came with it than it did with mathematics. The post-war complacency of both the political donor class and the intellectual class of these societies is to blame for our ongoing vulnerability to the superior-beings clubs, violently exclusive racial, religious, and trophy-collecting supremacists, because those social classes had the opportunity and yet failed to advance political thinking beyond ideas from feudal Christendom: a bleak conception of human personality (as improved by authoritative supervision, and largely controllable by incentives and rewards, fear of violence, and emotionally triggering messages); a starkly contrasting idea of divine personality as judge and tester of men, the model of sovereignty as absolute ownership over the less powerful; nature as ordered and determined by the divine personality or by rigid regularities (iron laws of economics) with the same effect; earthly trophies interpreted as markers of standing in the divine order of merit; a resulting divine right of the strongest to impose sovereignty over the lives and property of the weaker; and the nation or sovereign state as the local representative of divine sovereignty, a personified collective in conflict with others for standing and wealth. This conservative ideology is always the gateway to varieties of Nazism and Fascism, to the violence of superior-beings clubs, patriarchal colonizers of individuals for the purpose of human-on-human macro-parasitism. Home-grown patriarchy is no better than a colonizing foreign patriarchy. This being the state of political thinking, the idea of a clash of civilizations is valueless because civilizations are all still patriarchal, imperialist. Clashing with one another is what they were made for and the ones that were altered to some extent by Enlightenment ideas soon stifled further advances. The Enlightenment conception of human nature was murdered in the crib by traditional patriarchal practices expressing the old conception of reality.

Remaining within or breaking free of that conservative metaphysics comes down to a conception of personality. If we find it absurd that personality takes two starkly different and unequal forms, human and divine, and find instead that it has ever only had the form we are familiar with in embodied persons, recognizing in the ideality of that form the effective transcendence of creative freedom which had been artificially alienated by the old mythical bifurcation, suddenly the conception of human personality is not bleak, and the whole foundation of conservatism evaporates. There is no judge or tester of men, no divine order of merit, no supernatural model of sovereignty, no divine pre-determination of anything, and no merited rights of the strongest. Realty as engaged by any personality has two fundamental constituents: the actuality of nature and ideality or ideas; and ideality, the special being of personality, often overrides what may seem to be dictates of nature.

Copyright © 2018 Sandy MacDonald.

From a Hill in the Labyrinth of Ideas

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Posting 134, Word Count: 442

A profound cultural change, which came from the rise to dominance of the scientific way of conceiving things, was a shift in the general presence of the world to people, a shift from having intelligent consciousness (personality) as the crucial presence of the world to having inanimate, inertial, objective matter or nature as the crucial presence of the world. In feudal Christendom, personality was indisputably the crucial presence, but in two starkly different versions and placements, displaying in fact a grotesque bifurcation. That conception of personality included the stark contrast between divine personality and human personalty, but the whole meaning and drama of existence centred on personality, specifically the relationship and interactions between the divine personality and human personalities as both individuals and collectives. Concrete nature was merely a trivial backdrop, a platform or staging for the drama. Both the divine and human were clearly instances of personality since only intelligence strives toward a specific not-yet or non-actuality, which is the essence of creation. Human personalities do that all the time and, supposedly, so did the divine personality. This teleology of creation is a crucial identifier of personality along with curiosity, caring, questioning, accumulating orientation, and an expressive voice or agency.

Scientific Nihilism

By contrast, the scientific conception of the world completely excludes personality (teleology, abstraction, ideality, intelligent consciousness) from fundamental reality in rejecting the possibility of transcendent freedom. Personality gets placed on a list of phenomena to be completely explained as an illusion at some future time. This creates a deformed lopsidedness to the conceptual system of reality in modernity, which is something like an inverse of the lopsidedness of the Christian conception of the world. Science dismisses the creative freedom of personality as merely illusion, just as Christianity dismissed the world of concrete matter as trivial staging for the great drama of personality. Of course the grotesque bifurcation of personality into human and divine was another layer of lopsidedness in the pre-scientific conceptual system of reality, which removed the transcendence of personality from ordinary embodied individuals and projected it into a metaphysical monstrosity: disembodied personality as divinity. Just because personality is ideality, that is, immaterial, does not make it more perfect when disembodied! With the modern lopsidedness, science actually needs the continuing culture of personality from feudal Christendom because without it, with only scientific principles of explanation, nothing matters, since it is only to personality that anything matters. With only inanimate nature, we reach a complete nihilism, but people generally know better than to accept that. So, the lopsidedness of the scientific conception of reality prolongs the lingering of outmoded metaphysics and political ideology from feudal Christendom.

Copyright © 2018 Sandy MacDonald.