On manliness and leadership

By way of a quick explanation: I wrote the following post for a friend’s son’s 16th birthday. All of the principles here in apply to both men and women equally. However, the audience was a soon-to-be 16-year-old boy and the gender pronouns are chosen with that in mind.

Reflections on Leadership and Manliness
One of the key attributes of manliness is leadership. Great men are always leaders among men. 

While there are many elements that comprise manliness, the nature of leadership is the most defining characteristic. To define leadership is to define manliness. The best way to define leadership to talk about the qualities that comprise it. I will be using one of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s essays on leadership as a general topical roadmap with a few notable additions, supplemented with my own thoughts on a variety of topics and quotations from many of the great minds and leaders in history. It is important to note that this is not an exhaustive all encompassing definition or discussion of leadership or manliness. I am merely highlighting key points and parts from which further self-discovery and enlightenment can develop.

First, as a prerequisite and almost assumed set of axioms, Leadership requires a team to lead, and a cause or goal that the leader is guiding that team towards. 

1. Leadership is selfless dedication. A leader must be single-minded toward the task at hand, and value the cause and the team above one’s self. The leader is absolutely responsible for his team and should place their safety, and general well-being above his own. A Leader’s goal is always what is best for his team in spite of his own personal preferences, wants, or even needs. A leader is focused on his cause or goal and gives everything he has to accomplish it and to lead his team toward success. Doing ones best is the bare minimum allowed. Most leaders have a fair amount of pride, self-confidence, and ego yet a great leader realizes that those are secondary to the needs of the team and the cause. A great leader does not allow personal preference to color his judgment: he puts others needs first. A good leader remembers that while he is leading, he is not A person: he is a function. Therefore he does not take attacks or losses personally. He is able to respond calmly and De-escalate most situations. This is known a servant leadership. A great leader listens to his team and to his advisers and strongly considers what they are saying.

2. Leadership Requires courage and conviction in the value of the task at hand. These are derived from a clear and focused vision for the future based on reflection. They are derived from reflection on the best course of action and strategy. This clarity of vision combined with effective strategy creates a basis of intellectual authority and reason. This helps create a strong basis for your conviction. Courage is being brave in the face of fear and opposition. It is doing what’s right when no one else is looking and especially when everyone else is looking. Leadership is most effective when it sets an example of excellence. Courage flows from conviction. Courage and conviction provide certainty. Meditation and reflection on ethics and principles are the surest way to program ones instincts and native natural responses. If you know why something is right or wrong and you have already done that homework it is much easier to make quick defective decisions that are usually correct. The “what” is secondary to the “Why.”

3. Leadership requires fortitude of spirit: force of will. A man Who is convinced that he is doing the right thing must be willing to stand strong against opposition, and stay strong through reverses of fortune. He must be willing to rise from defeat and do battle again and again. He must never give up, for he knows that truth, beauty, and goodness are always worth fighting for. A leader knows that he must never compromise on principles, but compromise as much as is needed on methodologies and styles. A wise leader knows how to strike that delicate balance has the insight to tell the difference. A leader must be willing to learn from his mistakes, publicly admit when he was wrong, and then grow, discover, and explore anew. He must be willing to get back on his feet armed with this new enlightenment, and begin to fight again. Dare greatly so that if you succeed, you know the triumph of high achievement, and at worst if you fail, you failed boldly so that your place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. Ignore critics, yet pay attention to counsel. Be anti-fragile: Refuse to be crushed; Refuse to accept failure. And never make excuses. Benjamin Franklin once said that, “he who is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”

4. A Leader must be humble. He knows his worth and is proud of his accomplishments. However he also knows that he is but a man, equal to all other men. He knows that he is not God. He is willing to listen to the wise counsel of the team he has constructed around him. He places others before himself and knows their value. He treats people as ends in and of themselves, as all people are infinitely valuable. He sees his place in the universe and in society and in the organization. He sees that his responsibility as a leader is a sacred trust, not to be donned lightly. He knows that he is responsible for everything and everyone that happens in and around his purview. And he is grateful for the trust and responsibility given to him. A good leader always says thank you. A good leader takes responsibility for the mistakes and errors that he commits as well as for those of his subordinates. And he is Quick to give away the credit to his team. A good leader knows that a team’s performance reflects directly upon the leader. He knows that the reward of a thing is to have done it. He does not seek the limelight for himself except as necessary for the good of the team and the project or cause. A leader is generally gracious and polite because he values other people as equals. A leader is respectful, honest, fair, and just. A leader knows that reputation is really all that he has. And that reputation is built upon character. Honesty is the cornerstone of character. Honesty and character holds a man together in the worst of storms. Without his integrity he collapses. A Man is absolutely trustworthy. He inspires and is loyal himself. He is helpful to his colleagues, friends, betters, and subordinates. A man must be friendly and warm and open. A man must be courteous to all. Especially when it is difficult to do so. The most important quality any man or woman could possess is kindness. Kindness must be authentic and is based on empathy and a genuine care for other people. Niceness is easily forged and is inherently superficial and manipulative. Be kind. A leader knows how to follow and how to be obedient to his masters. His own obedience establishes a hierarchy of authority and a chain of command by example. Of course a leader also knows when and how to challenge his superiors when necessary. This, of course, is dictated by his principles and ethics in which he has already done much reflection. A leader sets the tone through his attitude: therefore cheerfulness is usually recommended. A good attitude covers a host of ills. A good leader is thrifty with his resources and manages his resources (both people and physical) strategically and well. He is not wasteful. A leader is also brave and reverent (respectful and humble) all of which we have already talked about at length. A leader is also clean: both physically and in integrity. He should be above reproach and without fault. If one can lead through example, one will find that the course ahead is much easier. 

5. A leader does thorough homework. He knows that knowledge is power: knowledge give him an edge and lends authority. A leader embraces lifelong learning and is curious about everything that he does not yet know. A Leader is well-rounded and commands a basic knowledge of many topics and, ideally, in depth knowledge on a few. A leader is constantly pushing himself to be better educated and engages in much self-study. You will have observed that As a Child, everyone focuses on teaching the child: Knowledge and information is handed directly to the child. However, as a man, people rarely teach or hand information and knowledge directly to the man. He is required to teach himself and to be intentional about growing his “mind-garden.”

6. A good leader attempts to persuade and enlist help whenever possible. He attempts to convince and use reason to diplomatically achieve his goals. He orders only when necessary. People work harder, give more of themselves, and feel better when they believe in a cause or in a man. morale depends upon your team’s good will and generosity. Persuasion generates these much more effectively. Leadership by persuasion and acceptance of team decisions to the contrary are the basis of democracy. A good leader asks and requests. A bad leader bosses.

7. A Good leader has a sound heart, a sound mind, a sound body, and a sound spirit. The heart is the emotions and creative self. It cares for the delicate and for others: it fights for beauty. A sound mind is the intellect and rational self. It cares and fights for ideas and truth. A sound body is the physical self: needs. The body looks out for itself and its own well-being. It provides for the physical and physiological needs and protects the rest. The spirit is one’s will: vision and courage. The will fights for goodness. The will also drives the mind, body, and soul. It is the charioteer guiding those three horses of self along the narrow Rocky Clifftop road of life. The will keeps the body mind and soul on the right track. General Patton said, “If you are going to win any battle you must do one thing: you must make the mind (will) run the body; never let the body tell the mind (will) what to do. The body is never tired unless the mind (will) is tired.”

A great leader knows that he is what he regularly does. Actions make the man. Aristotle builds upon this idea by saying that, “excellence then therefore is not an act but a habit.” Make excellence your habit. Right action and right feeling flows from right thought. If you change the thoughts you change the man. However, as artists, we know that if we change the feelings we can change the thoughts. Therefore “you must hold yourself to a higher standard than anyone else expects of you.” (Henry Ward Beecher). “Resolve to perform what you ought, perform without fail what you resolve.” Benjamin Franklin

8. Great leaders delegate. General Patton said, “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you.” Surround yourself with brilliant and talented teams of people who have many conflicting ideas: make sure they are a well-rounded and diverse group. They will provide thoughts, ideas, perspectives, and reasons that you would never think of on your own and will provide the fodder you need to rise the highest possible level. Never be afraid to be the dumbest, least talented, least connected, least wealthy, least interesting person in a room, For what an incredible room that is! Iron sharpens iron. Seek out excellence, and you will inadvertently begin to emulate the qualities that make them excellent. Excise and discard all mediocrity. Mediocrity only serves to act as an anchor and drag you down to its own level. Never tolerate mediocrity. Only settle for your best, and the best of your team. Perfection and miracles are the bare minimum. A Leader is only as good as his team: the better one’s team, the better one leads. 

9. Inspirational quotes

The supreme quality of leadership is integrity. – Eisenhower

A genuine leader is not a searcher of consensus but a molder of it. – MLK

The price of greatness is responsibility. – Churchill 

Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them become what they are capable of being. -Goethe

You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply: With greater vision; with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world. And you impoverish yourself if you forget that. – Woodrow Wilson

We will either find a way or make one. – Hannibal

Victory belongs to the most persevering. -Napoleon

In Every battle there comes a time in both sides consider themselves beaten. Then he who continues the attack wins. – Grant

Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts. – Churchill

The Chief cause of failure in life is sacrificing what you want the most for what you want at the moment.

Discipline is the denial of self for future gain. – Peter Kerr
10. The secret to happiness

The secret to happiness is to ignore it entirely. Do not pursue happiness: the surest way to be miserable is to seek happiness. Happiness was never intended to be an objective. Happiness is a symptom: it is the byproduct of a well-lived life. It is the result of living a good life. Living a good life is not necessarily easy, it is not necessarily full of wealth, nor is it necessarily particular successful. Here is how one lives a good life: be kind to others and yourself. Seek and fight for truth, beauty, and goodness with excellence. Don’t strive for merely being good: be excellent. Seek perfection. Truth is honesty. It is fact. Truth is integrity. Truth is not feeling or opinion. Beauty is life, art, song, love, elegance. It is delicate, and fragile. Goodness is kind, humble, and loyal. Truth, Beauty, goodness require protection. They require men to lead the defense of them. As you seek truth, beauty, and goodness you will realize how intertwined and interconnected they are. You will begin to see them as three facets of the same universal reality: each distinct yet the same. Live your life in excellence: Grow! Strive for perfection. Live in Purity of mind, and deed. 
Vincit qui se Vincit: he conquers, who conquers himself. 
11. There are also a couple of other specific things you can do to grow as a man, as a leader, and to assist you in living a good life. You Must do these in some form every day.

There are 8. things that I attempt to do every day: 

1. Create something: paint, whistle, doodle, play an instrument. It doesn’t have to be good. Just create something that never existed before. 

2. Consume information, art, science, politics, tv, film, and anything else that strikes your fancy. 

3. Experience everything that you can. Adventure.

4. Schedule unstructured Play. 

5. Dream and Meditate or Pray, preferably in nature. Reflect. 

 6. Enjoy good food and drink, or other pleasurable non-destructive vices. 

 7. Have great conversations: connect to at least one person in a meaningful way. 

8. Exercise your body. 

9. Do something intentionally productive. Achieve something. Winning begets winning.

-JRWH, 3/16/16
 

The Purpose and Function of Government

What is the purpose and function of Government?

The first obvious function is to help create an environment in which people can create and live a good life.

Government’s responsibility is to provide a framework and ecosystem that supports its citizens living a good life.

This necessitates a few things.

First, we must understand Human Nature to first understand what is a good life for a human.

So, what are humans? We are a being comprised of Body, Mind, Soul, and Spirit.

{I have written extensively on my theory of the Quadripartite nature of humanity before, but as a quick refresher:
1. Body – The physical and biochemical processes of matter and energy dictated by physics and biology.
2. Mind – The rational conscious thinking part of ourselves.
3. Soul – the creative and emotional part of ourselves. (Not a religious/eternal soul). Part of the subconscious.
4. Spirit – Will, desires, inner power, character, instinct. Part of the subconscious.}

(I am Not going to argue for that breakdown here, as I have done it many times before. It is here merely as a reference to my building blocks and foundation of thought.)

We are beings in relationship to the Universe: We relate to the physical world around us, to nature. We relate to the people around us: to society and our community. We relate to ourselves. We relate to our concept of the divine, be that God, the Muses, Enlightenment, etc. Our individual Relationships constitute the essential truth of ourselves. How we behave and desire to behave toward all of those elements is at the core essence of who we are.

We are Free Will beings of matter and energy living in a physical world that we impact through our choices. We be, while we become. We have physical biochemical needs that keep us alive. We have emotional/creative/psychological/intellectual needs that give us quality of life. We feel a need to have some overarching purpose. We experience time linearly and thus create narratives of our lives. We constantly develop this narrative and accept or reject pieces and parts based on how they fit. Some pieces we have forced into our narratives, and we then must adjust our story to accommodate it. We are social beings. We thrive in a society, and while we can survive completely on our own, we are much more efficient and are better able to meet our needs in a community of our choosing.

We are beings that start with some limited processing power that grow and develop through time in response to stimuli. Our early years are quite formative. Our environment (socio-economic, actual climate, rural/city, country, intellectual, worldview, memes, etc) and relationships all impact the stories we tell ourselves.
Events happen to us, and we process them, creating narratives around them, which are informed by our past experiences, and how others teach us to react to them.

We are creatures that seek pleasure, and tend to avoid pain. We seek fulfillment. We tend to be creatures of habit. We Create and build. We also destroy and ruin. We desire. We crave and need love, and to feel and be empowered in our lives. We seek happiness. We seek to live a good life, by whatever standard we have constructed/been taught. We seek to do good actions, and be good people. We usually seek to live lives of character and integrity, for a variety of reasons. Humans have traditionally been religious beings seeking answers to large questions of meaning, purpose, and living well, outside the physical universe in the realm of the metaphysical and Theological. Due to biology, the normal basic family unit consists of a father and a mother and a child. This, of course expands, and permutates in infinite complexity. Humans tend to bond and feel most strongly about those closest to them in appearance and DNA. Next, they bond through shared experience and taste. Thirdly, they bond through affiliation with tribes, clubs, teams, etc without real prior personal contact.

Humans need Food, Shelter, Protective clothing (personal and portable shelter), oxygen, water, excretion, and general homeostasis in order to merely survive. Sex is important to create and build family units, and propagate the species. These things in proper balance provide health. Proper shelter usually turns into property. The tools by which you gain these basic needs are the most important possessions toward self determination. Shelter grants physical safety for both you and your family. Security of employment means that you can have the means to secure the aforementioned needs. Being able to protect your self and your family means that you have the ability to continue to survive. When your physiological and emotional needs and security are covered, we can have a stable family life, and develop friendships and intimacy with our family and community. This in turn creates confidence and respect for ourselves and others. It allows us the ability to succeed and achieve, if we are so inclined. At this point, our lives are functioning so well, we can create and appreciate creation. We can enjoy leisure, and be spontaneous. We can see possibilities, not just actualities. We can philosophize. In short we can attain our highest personal potential. In rare cases, some people short circuit these, and go out of order, but throughout history, the vast majority of people function this way.

Speaking of Sexuality, humans generally are either male or female, and generally sexually desire the opposite. Now, there obviously are genetic aberrations and socialized differences. Humans, though we tend to be, are not only sexually binary. There are scores of other variations upon the theme. However, the binary propagation model tends to be the normal standard. There is no right or wrong here. It merely is.

We are much more than this. We explore, we discover, we go new places and seek new things. We are curious about the unknown. We also fear it. We are brave. We are courageous. We are timid. We are loyal to our groups, and fiercely protective of them. We can yet transcend our identities and our groups, though. We can see generals, and infer specifics, and vice versa. We can learn and grow. We seek to change and grow in as much as we seek stability and comfort, and to remain the same.

We are spontaneous, impulsive, and creatures of habit and routine. We are logical, based on known quantities and we are erratic and insane. We see the world as we have been taught to see it, and we can see it as we want it to be. We have vast imaginations that create new possibilities and impossibilities.

We want everything, and nothing.

We destroy. we seek conquest, power, and glory.

We seek immortality, and devise a myriad of ways to achieve it. We fear death, and the idea that there is nothing beyond what we see and feel. We are faced with our own mortality, and insignificance.

We seek to glorify ourselves. We seek to propagate our name through works or through children. We seek to provide for our future immortality lineage.

We take what doesn’t belong to us for them. We think that we deserve rewards for goodness. We do evil things. We think that the world works in certain ways, and we delight and fear the surprises that expectation brings.

Humans are complicated. We think. We feel. We act. Or not. We destroy ourselves and enjoy the destruction. We build ourselves, and love the work. Or we hate all of those things.

What are humans? What are we? We are all of these things and much more.

So, what is the purpose of Government?

Proper and healthy Government is supposed to create an environment in which we can become fully human and reach our fullest human potential, by regulating each other to prevent the unjust exploitation of each other through a system of checks and balances, and watched watchers that answers to the people, is created by the people and is comprised of the people in order to best care for each other and protect each other from each other, in a global community. It is ideal to create a government that allows maximum personal freedom to self-determine our own individual purpose and fulfillment and allow us each the freedom of self-discovery and maximum personal development and growth. This personal realization of potential is great for everyone, for it helps foster an environment of success. Our greatest potential can only be realized in a community. Our greatest potential helps the maximum amount of people in the world. Everyone has a different potential.

Thus the true purpose of Government is to help us each discover our highest potential, and to create an environment in which everyone can potentially discover their highest potential. Our highest potential might be called living “the good life.”

Our highest potential is that which helps the most people in the greatest manner, while providing a sense of fulfillment, and purpose. How can we best positively impact all of our relationships (Divine, IntraPersonal, Societal, environmental, and cosmological)?

How can we most fully create the best possible version of ourselves?

It starts by being people of our word. All character flows from commitment to honesty, and doing what we say we will do, every time. Being trustworthy is the foundation to all other character traits. Foundational in that honesty is a respect of the human dignity and the view of absolute human equality. We respect our equals. We value those equal to us, and thus honor them with our honesty. If all men and women are equal, then we must unequivocally be honest and deal with them as equals. We treat others as we want to be treated because they are equal to us. We help our equals and are kind in the way we want to be helped and have kindnesses done to us. Loyalty, friendliness, conscientiousness, patience, gentleness, discipline, courteousness, cheerfulness, bravery, cleanliness, etc all stems from treating others as equals: the way that we want to be treated. These are the basis of integrity and character. All proper morality and ethics must stem from this basis of human nature and equality. It is more than just a trite truism, it is a foundational truth that underpins all Law, Ethics, Morality, Social Contracts, and social dealings.

So, with these foundational truths as a basis, What is the purpose of Government? How does it look?

Government originated through tribal nomads. The family unit was the original basis of government. Families and small groups were able to diversify their talents and secure the basic necessities. Because strength secured the ability to breathe, get food, build shelter, choose better choices, and maximize freedom, strength was originally most prized. Strength allowed the ability to have freedom. Strength also gave the ability to take freedom away from others, and to take their resources. Wisdom quickly developed as an alternative, and soon whomever held both wisdom and strength ruled the tribe of families, and later cites, then city-states, then kingdoms, and empires. Wisdom alone is not enough to rule. Strength must necessarily be a part of it. Wisdom also governed Strength’s targets, timing, tactics, and reasons for attacking. It also countered other Strength’s attacks. Thus Government was born to lead people to safety and security, as well as to protect against outside uses of strength. It is very difficult for one man to grow food, build shelter, and care for all of his needs with any long term stability. More people meant that more tasks could be outsourced to others who were better and more productive at certain tasks. At first, all was held in common, and the Patriarch ensured that all received what they needed or at least received a fair share. As groups grew larger, it became increasingly difficult for one person to arbitrate and to ensure universal dispersion of resources to the needy. Trading the fruits of the labors became currency. Hard work creating desired resources necessary to the survival of the tribe became important. And with the burgeoning trades came people who helped the suppliers get their goods to the demanders. And relative value currency was created to help arbitrarily evaluate the relative value of one good to another, or one service to a good. Government helped ensure that this ran smoothly, and took a tax as payment for creating a safe environment in which to trade, without fear of robbery, cheating, or other hazards to livelihood. It also became necessary to create arbitration and means of recourse for wrong doing. Thus courts were born, and legal standards that were held as equal for all men. No men were above the law, not even kings or government. It created a standard of punishments as deterrents and a system of justice. Also, in primitive societies, Kings had counselors who gave recommendations to the ruler on how they thought society was best run, or on matters of immediate policy or danger. In early societies, this was a counsel of elders elected by the people to speak for them, and represent their interests around the counsel fire as matters of grave import were discussed and decided on. The king could either reject or accept their counsel, but often found that his rule was easier if he listened to the popular votes of his counselors. He found that they became his careful allies and helped convince people of long term strategy and of what was truly in the tribe’s best interest.

Thus, the basis of a democratic republic has its foundations in the earliest forms of human government. Our three branch system has existed in one form or another, with varying degrees of balance since the earliest tribal nomadic days of human history.

The King casts a vision for his people, and makes decisions with much input from the popular representatives and counselors, while a court system arbitrates disputes, and ensures that the King and Counselor’s decisions are based on precedent, and law, and are in the best interests of the country.

In the earliest tribes, people all lived as one. They all either starved, or feasted. When there was plenty, everyone succeeded. When there was famine, everyone starved. Everyone lived and died as a unit. They cared for each other, and made sure that everyone was cared for. If someone didn’t have enough, or have what they needed, their contribution was significantly diminished, so it was in everyone’s best interests to make sure that everyone was properly taken care of. As the support net has grown, the individual impact of successes and failures has diminished. It is spread out over a much larger area. It has become easy to ignore the devastation of others’ lives. It has become easy to ignore those who are starving, who are naked, who have no water, or who have no shelter or home. They have no means of contributing to society, for they are often ostracized.

What a job really is is a means to contribute to the success of the whole. Can you hunt? Can you cook? Can you farm? Can you create art? Do you build fire? Do you craft tools? DO you watch children? etc. How do you contribute? If a stranger wanders in out of the cold, and is naked, without food, and is sick, get him warm. Feed him, heal him, then figure out how he can contribute to the whole.

All that democratic socialism proposes is to help the people who cannot feed themselves, who are sick, and can’t heal themselves, and who have no homes, and cannot build one do these things. Once you care for the body, you can care for the spirit and mind and will. When these things are cared for, we can help them become a productive and contributing member to society. This is the central and core tenant. Help people survive long enough and raise themselves up to no longer worry about the basic essentials of life. Then habilitate them toward meaningful productivity and contribution.

The purpose of Government is to help people live the good life. Other people create the environment in which you live. If you help others, or empower others to help others, all of those others will help you create a better environment in which you can grow and live a good life. When the tide rises, so do all of the little boats.

Streamlining Immigration is about helping people become good citizens that can contribute to the overall well being – combining the other tribes resources into our own. Universal Healthcare is about the developing a populace that doesn’t need to fear disease and be destroyed by it. Welfare, the same purpose. Foreign Policy should be about how best to help the whole world live the good life, for that helps us life a good life.

Government is merely the extension of ourselves to help us live a good life, and to help others live a good life, and that requires that we contribute to the betterment of the government and society. It means that the way to best maximize our personal freedom and benefit is to force each other to pull our own weight and the weight of the cart. The role of government is to help get everyone off of the cart, and get everyone running toward a better tomorrow, without leaving anyone behind.

Let us help each other reach our maximum potential. We really don’t have a choice, if we want to truly be free.

On first principles to guide all else: a beginners guide to effective decision-making

If you are ever at a loss what to do, always return to the basic and most important principles of life. Build a logical case from them, and you will soon know the answer.

The first and most important axiom must be this:

1.Love people, and be kind.

All other principles flow from this.

The next principle is thus:

2. Be a man/woman of your word.

2A. Always make sure you give your word in accordance with principle #1. Be Trustworthy.

2B. Reward Trustworthy people with loyalty. This is positive reinforcement of the love principle.

2C. Your word, and your reputation is all that you have. Everything else around you flows from that. Your reputation flows from your integrity and your character.

2C1. Words have power. What you communicate and how you communicate it to others can either create or destroy whole worlds and civilizations.

2C2. Learn to speak and communicate well. Then make sure you choose the appropriate words and concepts in your communication that are most effective for communicating with your audience.

2C3. This is the foundation for high standards of educational excellence. No one will be able to communicate well if they have nothing to communicate about. Thus we must teach as many important concepts and information The high standard to everyone. A good foundation education universally held, would create an incredible, powerful, and wonderful world Full of creators shaping the universe.

3. Be helpful. People who love, and are kind will be naturally helpful.

3A. Helpful and loving people do their works with Friendly courtesy. Manners matter. One must be polite.

3A1. Proper manners and care for others means respecting authority and the hierarchy in place. People have risen to where they are thru much hard work and discipline.

3A1a. It would follow that courtesy would dictate honoring their achievements and feelings about those achievements.

3A1b. Honor your mother and father.

3A1c. Cheerful obedience to your superiors is then the right course of action and proper attitude in which to do it.

3B. People are ends in and of themselves, not merely means to an end. Respect others, and be reverent toward their beliefs and ideas.

3B1. Bravery means putting others first, above yourself, in spite of fear. This follows from love. This places an extreme value on the other person. When everyone is brave for everyone else, miracles happen, and the insurmountable obstacle becomes an ant hill.

3B2. Being wise financially cares for your family, or future family, and honors the society that crafted you and gave you the opportunity to become what you are. Being thrifty shows respect for yourself, your office, your peers, and your community.

3B2a. Proper Resource stewardship is essential for thriving and prospering. Benjamin Franklin said “Waste not, want not”. This applies to individuals, families, society, and humanity. Do universe operates in cycles. Some periods of plenty, some of lean. Stewardship allows you to always care for your responsibilities and needs.

3B2b. Proper stewardship of your own resources also instills trust in others that if they give you resources of their own to manage that you will care for them equally well. This ensures future prosperity for you or people will always need others to help them care for their own things.

3B2c. Be grateful for everything that you have, and every resource an opportunity that you can take advantage of. Approach all things with an attitude of Grace, thanks, dignity, and appropriate humility.

3C. Be clean. Take care of yourself and those around you by practicing good hygiene. It also keeps society safe from disease, and generally creates a more pleasant experience for all.

4. Part of loving others is Wanting the best for others.

4A. Hold everyone around you to a high standard.

4A1. Integrity and character matter. They are the foundation of a good relationship with yourself, others and society.

4A2. The best way to maintain integrity is through interpersonal Accountability. Others watch us and hold us to our greatness, and we must do the same for others.

5. Relationships constitute essential truth.

5A. Our first relationship is with ourself.

5A1. Our first relationship is to our conscious mind and perception of self. Maintain a healthy conception of self: proper self-worth and esteem are essential. Let them be neither too large or too small. Know your place in the world. Know your capabilities and your authentic self. Love yourself. Be self aware. Challenge and grow your intellect. A happy mind is an active mind.

5A2. Next is our subconscious mind and creativity. Make sure to stimulate your subconcious with interesting thoughts snd ideas. Meditate, enjoy and create art and music. No that what you see and experience resonates in rebounds and resounds inside you long after the experience itself fades away. Cultivate a healthy unconscious by caring for the content you consume. What goes in to your subconscious will always find its way and express itself in the conscious.

5A3. Finally, care for your sense of right and wrong. Care for your ambitions. Take care of your dreams and your ethics. This is the source of your will which in turn is what allows you to accomplish anything. This is the home to your integrity from which every other aspect of yourself flows. Mind your garden.

5A4. Next we must care for our body. You must exercise appropriately. Eat healthily. Only use drugs tobacco and alcohol in moderation. Have Quality beautiful sex as often as you ethically can. Care for your health. For your health is a slave to time, and they are your only true resources of much value.

5B. Our second relationship is with others.

5B1. Our first relationship is with our family. They are the most important relationships and the only ones bound by blood. Your bloodline matters. Your genetic connection matters. You are the result of millions of years of chance and circumstance and love. You bear your ancestors history inside of you. You carry the hopes and dreams and ambitions and achievements of thousands of people inside of you. Care for your family. Families are the basic societal unit. No one will care for you more deeply, irrationally, or more personally than your family. Your closest friends are the family that you choose. This also goes for husbands and wives. They are adopted family members which is no less significant. Sexual partners become a part of you and you become a part of them through the exchange of genetic material. Similarly so: blood pact brothers.

5B2. The next round of relationships is your connection to your immediate community. This could be virtual and online, or could be more traditional such as Townhall, or interest groups, or hobbyists. These relationships create a well-rounded and safe society.

5B3. Next, we have society as a whole. Society can do things for you that your family cannot. However it is a two Way Street: you are expected to do things for society that might not personally benefit you or your family. This ensures a longevity of the species.

5C. Finally we have a relationship to nature and the universe. It is our home. It is the future home of our children. We must care for the environment for it’s direct impact in our own lives and the lives of our children and the lives of our family friends and community society and species. Just also care for the universe as a whole as it allows us to see our true nature and true place. When we stare into the depths of the universe from the dock of our own planet, we really look at a mirror and discover our sense of the sublime. We see who we truly are.

6. The way things are is not necessarily the way things ought to be.

6A. Vision is required to dream of and see a better world that no one else can see.

6B. Leadership is required to cast that vision in front of others and capture their imagination and ensure their willingness to assist in the realization of that vision.

6B1. Leadership requires a community.

6B1A. Power is always given or granted by the community being lead. It is never self generated.

6B1B. It can be coerced or manipulated to be gotten, but if it is seized that way, as soon as the veil is lifted, the power vanishes.

6B2. Love and Integrity must be at the core of all leadership.

6C. If you are not a person of vision or leadership, do not despair. Your contribution is absolutely essential. You assist in the realization of those visions buy those men of leadership. We all play a part, and we each have a role.

7. Balance thought and action. We must of course give great thought and analysis to all matters great and small, but we must find the balance between that analysis paralysis that could result and actually achieving and accomplishing.

7A. Your instincts flow from your subconscious. If you have cared for your subconscious mind properly, when it is time to act, if you have done your basic analysis and thought, you will know what to do.

7B. Virgil said that Fortune favors the bold. What he meant by this is that we must be people of action. No one ever did anything or achieved anything nearly by merely thinking about it. However no one ever did anything Or achieved anything worth doing without thinking about it first.

7B1. When you make a decision, let the decision be final. Do not agonize over it. Be bold and adventurous with that decision. Take responsibility for every decision that you make, and every action that you take. The world around you is the way that it is because of you.

7B2. Do not cease analyzing after you act, however. Every action will cause reactions. Those reactions must be analyzed and considered. Sometimes those reactions will necessitate a course correction. Sometimes it is better to stay the course and let things work themselves out. If you are unsure which is the correct course of action, let me advise you to consider your first principles from which you were acting and put your intuition and powers of analysis and integrity to bear on this solution.

Epilogue:
I could continue expanding and unpacking these and other principles into various other permutations and applications, but I believe this is a fairly solid initial foray into a functional foundation for decision-making. It is a rather solid basis for anyone’s immediate growth. Most of these concepts are very basic, and you could write many books on each topic. But as an overview, I believe that it is fairly comprehensive.

May you have the best of luck in all your future endeavors.

There! I fixed it: Revamping The Doctrine of the Trinity, and thus ALL of Christianity.

i035Christianity: Your Paradoxical Mysteries are ridiculous.

I am going to muck around a bit in the theological sandbox.
For the purpose of this thought experiment, I shall make the following assumptions, so as to expedite the process:

1. There is a Creator God, who did indeed create the universe. For our purposes, he can at least be Good, All-Powerful ([omnipotent] within the Universe), All-Knowing ([omniscient] Within the Universe, that which is logically possible for him to know), and Omni-Present.
2. He revealed himself on Earth to Humanity as Jesus, the Son of God, and his Holy Spirit, or unseen presence.
3. His agents wrote the Bible at His behest -inspired (composed of selected books from the Jewish Holy Books, and Letters written by Jesus’ Followers and their Followers. This Holy Book can be taken as true enough in matters of historical fact, in so far as much as any other historical book, recording events, myths,salzburg cathedral legends, etc.
4. God Can be known, through specific revelation, general revelation, tradition, corporate/individual prayer and worship and of course through his son Jesus.

Ok. With that out of the way, let us begin.

The Trinity is simply an inane and absurd bit of sophistry. Defining the Trinity, God is One, but that three distinct “persons” constitute the one God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Also, a sub-belief is that Jesus is both God and Man. This is known as the doctrine of the Hypostatic Union where in the one person of Christ, there are two natures: God and man.

Nowhere in the Bible is the word Trinity used. In fact, it was coined by a Theologian, Tertullian in the early 200’s. 100 years later, an ecumenical council (Nicea) debated the idea when they decided to define the relationship of Jesus to God, in response to the controversial teachings of Arius. Led by bishop Athanasius, the council established the doctrine of the Trinity as orthodoxy and condemned Arius’ teaching that Christ was the first creation of God. Arius also asserted that the Son of God was a subordinate entity to painingGod the Father. The creed adopted by the council described Christ as “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance (homoousios) with the Father.” This of course spawned hundreds (and really Thousands) of years of debate. St. Augustine espoused what sounds like a “partialist” position and described the Trinity as comparable to the three parts of an individual human being: mind, spirit, and will. They are three distinct aspects, yet they are inseparable and together constitute one unified human being.

However, most Orthodox and Catholics will simply shrug their shoulders and chalk the Trinity up to one of those things that is too complicated for our feeble human minds to understand. They also claim that it is indirectly taught in the Bible (though not explicitly). It also bridges the gap between Monotheism, and explains the Holy Spirit and Jesus. However, This is ridiculous.

Many of the problems inherent in the doctrine of the trinity stem from Christological controversies. So, we might as well dive deep. Hold your breath. Hell, grab some scuba gear and a diving bell.

Here are some of the “Heresies” rejected by the Universal Church at various Ecumenical Councils:

1. Adoptionism – God granted Jesus powers and then adopted him as a Son.it denied the preexistence of Christ and, therefore, His deity. Adoptionists taught that Jesus was tested by God and after passing this test and upon His ead6af6b76de3e7910dc945826b9ca55baptism, He was granted supernatural powers by God and adopted as the Son. As a reward for His great accomplishments and perfect character Jesus was raised from the dead and adopted into the Godhead. This error arose out of an attempt to understand the two purported natures of Jesus.

2. Apollinarianism – Jesus divine will overshadowed and replaced the human. The Logos of God, which became the divine nature of Christ, took the place of the rational human soul of Jesus and that the body of Christ was a glorified form of human nature. In other words, though Jesus was a man, He did not have a human mind but that the mind of Christ was solely divine. Apollinaris taught that the two natures of Christ could not coexist within one person. His solution was to lessen the human nature of Christ. The church rejected this solution for they felt that it jeopardized the value of the atonement since Jesus needs to be both God and man to atone for the sins of the world, building off of the idea that the World is a fallen evil place, and must be cleansed. The doctrine of atonement is based off of the Jewish traditions surrounding Yom Kippur: Evil is a debt against God, and debts must be collected (so that God can remain Just) but for man to pay that debt, man would need to be killed, because another central tenet of that idea is that blood is the only way to forgive sins. This is based on the animal sacrifices enacted by Abraham and Moses. All of mankind is individually responsible for their sins, and the individuals death is the only way to atone for their lifetime of sins. Jesus needed to be God to offer a pure and holy sacrifice of sufficient value for all humanity, and He needed to be a man in order to die for men.

Hang On. It only gets deeper from here.

3. Arianism – Jesus was a lesser, created being. We have mentioned this briefly already. Based out of the Plato’s Theory of Forms, which subsequent gnostic schools of thought SAM_2925-e1364771138207latched on to, Arius taught that only God the Father was eternal and too pure and infinite to appear on the earth. Therefore, God produced Christ the Son out of nothing as the first and greatest creation. The Son is then the one who created the universe. Because the Son relationship of the Son to the Father is not one of nature, it is, therefore, adoptive. Though Christ was a creation, because of his great position and authority, he was to be worshipped and even looked upon as God. Some Arians even held that the Holy Spirit was the first and greatest creation of the Son. At Jesus’ incarnation, the Arians asserted that the divine quality of the Son, the Logos, took the place of the human and spiritual aspect of Jesus, thereby denying the full and complete incarnation of God the Son, second person of the Trinity.

In asserting that Christ the Son, as a created thing, was to be worshipped, the Arians were advocating idolatry. Also, denies the whole Homostasis thing, and destroys the atonement doctrine. So this is a no go.

4. Docetism – Jesus was divine, but only seemed to be human. Generally, it taught that Jesus only appeared to have a body. This error developed out of the (Zoroastrian and Platonic) dualistic philosophy which viewed matter as inherently evil, that God could not be associated with matter, and that God, being perfect and infinite, could not suffer. Same logic as Arianism. Condemned. Refuted… blah blah blah.

5. Kenosis – Jesus gave up some divine attributes while on earth. These attributes were omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence.st__gregory_church_2_by_citizenfresh-d6u31gx It states that Christ did this voluntarily so that He could function as a man in order to fulfill the work of redemption. Instead, Orthodoxy claims that Jesus cooperated with the limitations of humanity and voluntarily did not exercise His attribute of omniscience. He still was divine but was moving and living completely as a man. The Kenosis theory would mean that Jesus was not fully divine. If Jesus was not fully divine, then His atoning work would not be sufficient to atone for the sins of the world.

6. Modalism – God is one person in three modes. Modalism is probably the most common heresy concerning the trinity. Modalism states that God is a single person who, throughout biblical history, has revealed Himself in three modes, or forms. Thus, God is a single person who first manifested himself in the mode of the Father in Old Testament times. At the incarnation, the mode was the Son and after Jesus’ ascension, the mode is the Holy Spirit. These modes are consecutive and never simultaneous. In other words, this view states that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit never all exist at the same time, only one after another.

7. Monarchianism – God is one person (The Father). It arose as an attempt to maintain Monotheism and refute tritheism. Monarchians were divided into two main groups, the dynamic monarchians and the modal monarchians. Dynamic Monarchianism teaches that God is the Father, that Jesus is only a man, and that the Holy Spirit was a force or presence of God the Father. Modal monarchianism teaches that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are just modes of the single person who is God. In other words, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not simultaneous and separate persons, but consecutive modes of one person. This destroys the nature of atonement.

8. Monophysitism – Jesus had only one nature: divine. It teaches that Jesus was wholly God, and not Man at all. This, of course, is contrary to the notion of atonement. Monophysitism arose out of a reaction against Nestorianism which taught Jesus was two distinct persons instead of one. Its roots can even be traced back to Apollinarianism which taught that the divine nature of Christ overtook and replaced the human one.

9. Nestorianism – Jesus was two persons. Nestorius was a monk who became the Patriarch of Constantinople and he repudiated the Marian title “Mother of God.” He held that Mary was the mother of Christ only in respect to His humanity. If Jesus is two persons, then which one died on the cross? If it was the “human person” then the atonement is not of divine quality and thereby insufficient.r-CHRISTCHURCH-CATHEDRAL-large570

10. Pelagianism – Man is unaffected by the fall and can keep all of God’s laws.people had the ability to fulfill the commands of God by exercising the freedom of human will apart from the grace of God. In other words, a person’s free will is totally capable of choosing God and/or to do good or bad without the aid of Divine intervention. Pelagianism teaches that man’s nature is basically good. Thus it denies original sin, the doctrine that we have inherited a sinful nature from Adam. He said that Adam only hurt himself when he fell and all of his descendents were not affected by Adam’s sin. Pelagius taught that a person is born with the same purity and moral abilities as Adam was when he was first made by God. He taught that people can choose God by the exercise of their free will and rational thought. God’s grace, then, is merely an aid to help individuals come to Him. This negates the need for atonement, and thereby negates the need for the homeostasis and ergo the trinity. It also fits in nicely with John Locke’s Tabula Rasa though it predates Locke by 1300 years, and some of Kant’s theories on the nature of man.

11. Semi-Pelagianism – Man and God cooperate to achieve man’s salvation. Semi-Pelagianism did not deny original sin and its effects upon the human soul and will. But, it taught that God and man cooperate to achieve man’s salvation. This cooperation is not by human effort as in keeping the law, but rather in the ability of a person to make a free will choice. The semi-Pelagian teaches that man can make the first move toward God by seeking God out of his own free will and that man Slave-Angel-bycan cooperate with God’s grace even to the keeping of his faith through human effort. This would mean that God responds to the initial effort of person and that God’s grace is not absolutely necessary to maintain faith. The Churches problem with this compromise is that this is no longer grace. The doctrine of Grace states that it is the completely unmerited and freely given favor of God upon the sinner. But, if man is the one who first seeks God, then God is responding to the good effort of seeking him. This would mean that God is offering a proper response to the initial effort of man. This is not grace, but what is due the person who chooses to believe in God apart from God’s initial effort. Also, this negates the atonement.

12. Socinianism – Denial of the Trinity. Jesus is a deified man. Socinianism denies the doctrine of the Trinity claiming it denies the simplicity of God’s unity. Instead, God is a single person with the Holy Spirit as the power of God. Since it emphasizes the unity of God, there could be no divine and human union in a single person as Christ. Therefore, Socinianism denies the incarnation and deity of Christ as well as Christ’s pre-existence. It teaches that Jesus was only a man. it taught that Jesus was a deified man and was to be adored as such. Nevertheless, since Jesus is not divine by nature, His sacrifice was not efficacious; that is, it did not result in the redemption of people who would trust in it. Instead it was an example of self sacrifice. Again. Denies Atonement.

13. Subordinationism – The Son is lesser than beloved-haiti-blog-post-450x450the Father in essence and or attributes. Subordinationism (Jesus is different in nature than the Father) should not be confused with subordination (the Son submitting to the Father). the Son is not eternal and divine (Arian Subordinationism), and is, therefore, not equal to the Father in being and attributes. Another form of Subordinationism states that though the Son is divine, he is not equal to the Father in being, attributes, and rank.

14. Tritheism – the Trinity is really three separate gods. In the late 11th century a Catholic monk of Compiègne in France, Roscelin considered the three Divine Persons as three independent beings and that it could be said they were three gods. He maintained that God the Father and God the Holy Ghost would have become incarnate with God the Son unless there were three gods.

Ok, the beauty of sloughing through the various so-called heresies is that they represent a rather exhaustive and exhausting summary of most possible logical deviances. Effectively, the reason that the doctrine of the Trinity doesn’t make sense is that it is trying to fill an illogical hole: it is akin to having jig saw puzzle with a couple of extra pieces thrown in. The primary problem is one of logic:

rock_of_cashel6The Earth has Fallen and requires Redemption. Due to the Jewish Code of Atonement, Sin requires Blood Sacrifice. Traditionally this was done with pure animals. Because we are all so fallen and evil, we each deserve to die and fulfill our own sacrifice. God’s Grace and Love counter his Justice, so that in order to satisfy his Just Nature, and defend his love for us, He decides that the price must be paid and that he must pay it himself. Thus Jesus must be God in order to be pure and great enough to Atone for everyone, and he must be a Man in order to take our place. This is the logic of the millennia: this is what Theologians have come up with for the necessity of Christ’s death.

The Church’s problem with the various heresies are that they negate Christ’s dual nature which negates his grace and ability to atone for sin. At first glance, If Christ doesn’t have a dual Nature, then the Trinity doctrine falls apart. However, by stripping away Christ’s Humanity, the doctrine of the trinity becomes much easier. Monophysitism simplifies the whole thing.

Sub-note, the idea of the Trinity is not found nor supported by Judaism. Obviously, Muslims also reject it.

Ok. Now, let us try to imagine a scenario in which the Trinity does make sense and fits the requirements placed upon it.

Assuming that God exists, and assuming 7st-a-cath-gravesthat God visited earth, and assuming that people have experienced him as his “Holy Spirit”, I see one very easy way out of this: If we have no need of “atonement” because we never “fell.” What if Man Kind and the Earth are as we have always been. The human condition is as we have created it. Of course, this puts God in an awkward position: Would a perfect God create something less than perfect? Can perfection be a process of increasing perfection, like the expanding Universe? What if, like the Pelagians and Semi-Pelagians believe, we each fall, and there is no universal fall? What if we each start with a blank slate, and are only victim to our own bergama-asklepion-2actions? What if the only Grace we require is God’s willingness to forgive our sins? Then the death on the cross need only be symbolic, and Christ would only need to be God, and not Man. If the Atonement is nothing more than a ritual, and not some deep-seated blood-lust-filled command, demanded by an angry war god for transgressions against his will, then God’s Triune Nature is easily explained by a combination of Modalism, Monarchianism, and Monophysitism. Of course, denying the “Sin Nature” also negates a need for a literal hell. Assuming that there is an afterlife, hell would simply be existence after death without God’s Presence: something akin to being isolated in the darkness for all eternity, effectively “outside the Universe.”

Mystra,_veduta_rovine_08The classic Trinity is more like an Aspen tree: Genetically identical aspen trees (Populus tremuloides) grow in large stands throughout cooler regions of North America. The individual trees within these stands are interconnected by a shared root system and it is that root system that ranks as the largest on the planet. New aspen trees grow as root sprouts that grow off of a parent tree. The largest known aspen grove, nicknamed Pando, is located in Utah and covers 106 acres and is estimated to weigh 6000 tones.
God The Father is the great Aspen tree. Jesus and the Holy Spirit stances. grow out of the same root system, but come up out of the ground in different places. They are three separate trees, and yet they are one, connected by a shared root system. We experience each tree separately, yet there is no difference. They are the same. They can act independently, and communicate directly with each other. They can also act as one. It is a bit Schizophrenic.

I submit that experientially, the Aspen Treephoto-710568 might make a bit more sense than some of the other models, but it still is actually heresy, according to the classic Church.

Ok, so let us address the Resurrection. In classical Theology, the Resurrection is what proves Jesus’ claims of divinity. It is what proves his power to forgive sins, and proves his right to die for those sins in the first place. It proves his power over death, and instills hope in an afterlife. The Resurrection also assures those victims of Zoroastrian style Cosmic Dualism, that God won, and Satan lost.

Without the need of atonement, and without the need of a fall, there is no need for a Satan figure to accompany the lack of need for a hell.

So, let’s just assume that Christ went ahead and died on the cross and even rose again: this is fine, and fits with the rest of my postulation.

Effectively, by creating an ontology that rovinemakes logical sense, and building a systematic theology from there, we actually create a version of Christianity that is much closer to traditional Judaism, and makes much more solid logical sense within the Christian Universe of Axioms.

To recap: We toss Original Sin, Satan, Hell, Atonement, Dual Nature of Christ, and we actually have a Christianity that reflects our basic human experience much better: Toss in a little Pelagianism and semi-pelagianism and we are set!

We can thus redefine sin as a conscious decision to violate the relationship of a person to God.

Naturally, There are other ramifications of this train of thought, but I am too tired to express them now.???????????????????

On Abortion, Women’s Rights, and Human’s Nature/Essence

First, with regard to abortion, abortion is based on philosophical precepts which makes it a human issue not simply a woman’s issue, though no one can deny women have a significant vested interest in the discussion and debate. However, their perspective is not the only one of merit, nor the only one to consider. There are many perspectives which are gender-neutral and should be asked by everyone regardless of their gender. It is a human right’s issue, even more than it is a “woman’s issue”. In fact if we relegated certain philosophical precepts to one gender or another, I can’t help but feel that that would limit many discussions negatively for women. If we want women to truly be equal, then we cannot relegate discussions to one gender or another. That flies in the face of true equality which, if I understand correctly, is the end goal of feminism. It also flies in the face of philosophic values.

I don’t feel that the decision about abortion can be made from a gender perspective. It should be made objectively from ethics, and from logic. It is a decision that affects many peoples lives at an intimate level. Like so many other fundamental ethics and issues, it has become embroiled within political laws and policies. However, the way it’s supposed to work is that these laws and policies are based on axioms and truths which are logically extrapolated in such a way that justice is administered Ethically with regard to all of humanity.

At the end of the day no one is pro-abortion. We also should not be pro-murder or really be pro-death penalty but that’s another discussion for another day.

I, too, feel that the decision to have an abortion or not to have an abortion is ultimately up to the mother. However the mother’s decision to have an abortion or not to have an abortion still must fall within ethical limitations that are not simply based on possession of the uterus. As with all ethics and systems of justice, our bodies, while our own, also belong to society as a whole. This is part of the reason why we don’t condone eugenics or euthanasia. It is part of the reason why suicide is looked down upon and is actually illegal in many cases. This responsibility to society argument is used by antiabortion advocates to their advantage: we have no idea if we are killing a potential Einstein or Hitler. We are robbing humanity of future potential contributors and consumers.

With all of that in mind I shall attempt to further outline my position on abortion.

Axiom number one: killing human beings is wrong. You must attempt to protect human life as best as possible and maintain appropriate standards of living. Now Peter Singer disagrees: “The argument that a fetus is not alive] is a resort to a convenient fiction that turns an evidently living being into one that legally is not alive. Instead of accepting such fictions, we should recognize that the fact that a being is human, and alive, does not in itself tell us whether it is wrong to take that being’s life.” I am not going to argue this much here. I am going to assume it from a relative sociological and Kantian categorical imperative perspective.

Axiom number two: being human is a definite state of qualitative being in a quantitative system. It describes the nature and characteristics of a living entity.

Axiom number three: cells, fetuses, and infants are all alive. They posses a life force. In the same way, plants and animals and human beings are also alive.

Axiom number four: there is a difference between the value of life of a cell, embryo, fetus, human being, animal, or plant.

Proposition number one: killing fetuses is not wrong because they are not yet human.

Scientifically speaking, in terms of human development, babies are almost fully developed at the end of the second trimester. They have all of their basic body parts, in proper proportion, and are properly functioning. They are small versions of fully developed babies that with emerge at the end of nine months. They have the capacity of limited thought and feelings. They act and interact with her environment, and learn to limited degree. They possess all of the necessary characteristics to be considered human even if they are at the most limited and fundamental degree. Now those last three months are essential for growth and development, Which is a matter of qualitative development. The quantitative growth of the various elements has already been done all of the categories have been implemented it’s a matter of raising those levels To the acceptable threshold for birth.

What are the basic elements of being human? What determines humanity? A car is a car due to certain physical and essence related characteristics. Cars are designed for transportation. They have certain physical characteristics, within an almost infinite scope variations, but are still directly related to each other. Their purpose is the same, and what they do is the same. how they do it is more or less the same though there is significantly more variation under the hood, so to speak. The essential human characteristics that separate us from animals are essentially a matter of degrees or a quantitative difference, rather than a qualitative difference. There are certain qualities that humans possess, that animals do not as well. This blend of qualitative and quantitative differences is what makes humans unique from animals.

I will go point by point down the list of the qualities necessary to label a being human. I will take the basic platonic tripartite principle and expound upon it with my own variations and deviances. Of course, I agree with Plato that we should all strive to live our lives by arete and a balance of the various pieces of what it means to be human is the strongest way to realize that goal of excellence.

The first most readily observable component of humanity, is our physical body. Our body is roughly the same as everyone else’s around the world. Like the automobile, there are a range in most of the characteristics. There are variations and permutations. However They are all based off of the same basic design, Within genetic variation.

The next key aspect of humanity is our will. Will determines purpose. With regard to purpose, human beings are purpose creating beings. Animals do not create purpose for themselves. Animals have purpose Bestowed to them by human beings. They have purpose bestowed to them by their function in the natural order and the circle of life. Their purpose is bestowed to them by the food chain. Human beings have no purpose innately, but give themselves purpose. In fact, that could be described as one of the central meanings of life; Discovering And creating your purpose. Purpose is not preordained. It must be created and discovered individually, and socially. And through our discovery of purpose, ideally we would do it anyway that maximizes our arete, Which then leads us to be individually more significant and have a greater positive impact on society. Our will makes us what we are, as a species, And as individuals. Self-determination is the single most important defining characteristic of humanity. No other creature or living being in the world has a force of will like ours. It is our self-determination and force of will that makes our freedom so it innately important, and makes freedom and inalienable human right.

The next crucial aspect of humanity is our mind, and intellectual potential. We are thinking/reasoning beings of great sentience, Rationality, and self-awareness. Some animals possess certain degrees of problem solving abilities and self-awareness especially certain higher orders of mammals. However none of them can compare to even the most intellectually challenged human being, Excluding, of course the most extreme cases of mental retardation and other extreme mental disabilities. Intellect gives our will its primary direction, of course with input from our spirit.

The next aspect of humanity is our soul or our spirits. This is our emotions, our feelings, Our spirituality, our creative right brained center of being. This aspect of ourselves is very physiologically based. It interprets and relates what is going on in our bodies to our minds and is that bridge. Is also the source of it’s own feelings and intuitions. It is every bit as important as the body and the mind and directly influences our force of will and provides The energy thereof. It gives our will it’s force and gravitas. Unfortunately in some less self-discipline people, the spirit/soul is quite flighty and fickle.

However, and this is merely a tangent, I found that listening to whatever comes out of the right brained spirit and saying yes to it once the right brain has been preprogramed with self-discipline, allows for the greatest creative potential. But I have written extensively on that topic 9 months or a year ago, and will not go into that further here.

Another important aspect of Our essential humanity is our ability to relate to other human beings and to the world around us any significant social fashion. Our empathy is a key part of this. As humans, we are social beings. This is an innate part of our very fabric of being. Our communication skills,the thousands of languages we’ve developed, reading and writing, nonverbal communication, and many many other forms of communication are all outpourings of this essential human nature.

One final point that may or may not be a essential characteristic of humanity is curiosity. Curiosity, I feel, accounts for our intellectual exploration, our social exploration, our Religiosity and curiosity about the mysteries of the universe including the nature of God and other philosophical pursuits. Is certainly tied into our quest for meaning and purpose, and tied into our process of achieving Arete. Curiosity certainly seems to be directly tied into the other major various parts of what it means to be human, so let me, for the sake of this argument, make curiosity a part of the nature of essential humanity.

At this point, I feel that I have fairly comprehensively touched on or discussed at length the key components to humanity. To recap: mind, soul/spirit, will, body, curiosity, Self-awareness, social interaction, empathy, purpose, and creativity. The varying degrees and preferences inherent in these categories composes our individual personality. I think that this sums up what it means to be human rather nicely.

Then what must be done, is to ascertain at what point a developing fetus has all of these qualities. According to my reading into the topic of human development, my best understanding is that a fetus at the end of the second trimester or approximately 24 or so weeks has fully developed It’s body, and it’s mind is beginning to work at a pre-intelligence level laying the basolateral pathways and beginning the writing on that Tabula Rasa, a glimmer, if you will, of what is to come. At this point, it is clearly evident that the fetus has feelings. It has moods.
It is exploring the womb around it, as its curiosity is beginning to wake up. It is beginning to learn. With learning comes Creativity. It explores its own body. It attempts self-determination and exercising its will as evidenced by kicking and other sorts of purposed intentional emotions and actions. Is attempting to maintain and create some level of control of its immediate surroundings. It interacts with its mother. It knows her voice. You can even learn it’s father’s voice. And respond to both of them. This is the most basic and base form of social interaction.

At the end of the second trimester, it is clear to me that this being has developed into a fully human being. It has all of the essential characteristics and qualities at some level. Before this point, it is lacking at least one or all of these at any real significant level.

Based on this definition and these understandings in my research, I submit to you that before the second trimester when the fetus lacks mind body Spirit will creativity curiosity self-awareness etc., that neither the embryo nor fetus is human. Instead it is merely a potential human. Forgive me for being biologically crass, But would you argue that male sperm is a human life or lives worth protecting? Each sperm has the genetic information of half of a Potential human being. If sperm is Human then the male body naturally aborts hundreds of thousands of babies every 72 hours, Or much more frequently the case of masturbation. The female body aborts an egg a month during her period. Are both of these natural processes murder? Are they rightly even called an abortion? Probably not. However some people do make the argument that every sperm is sacred or every Egg is sacred. The egg and sperm are each only half of a potential human being. Next, once the egg and sperm combine, the woman’s body has a high likelihood of rejecting this new mass of cells in the first trimester. Especially in the first nine weeks, so much can and often does go wrong. There is a high possibility of miscarriage. At this point in the first several hours and several days or weeks the cells are undergoing rapid mitosis and splitting apart and forming new cells. For the longest time, your new fetus is nothing more than a mass of cells. Eventually those cells begin to differentiate, And begin to look like potential future body parts. However most of them do not begin to function for a while. Slowly but surely the little embryo gradually becomes more humanlike or humanoid in it’s physiological development. However it is still a long way off from truly becoming a human being. Eventually, it’s heart will start beating. Eventually it will grow fingers and fingernails. Eventually knees will develop. Eventually photosensitive dark spots morph into the most advanced form of camera world has ever seen known as the human eye, complete with eyelashes and eyelids. However in the first trimester in the first half of the second trimester, the embryo is a long way off from having the rest of the human natures and capacities that we previously discussed. Toward the end of the second trimester, the fetus Begins to acquire and develop these essential characteristics in rapid succession.

For ethics sake, it would seem to me that abortion would be unthinkable in the final trimester. And for proprieties’ sake, in order to protect what may or may not be a human life, I would argue that two or three weeks before the end of the second trimester would be a good cutoff date for abortions. No need to cut it close.

In summary of proposition 1, we should not kill human beings, and I would argue that until the end of the second trimester fetuses are merely potential human beings, not actually Human.  Singer’s agruments Regarding infanticide and euthanasia and Down syndrome etc, are indicative of the utilitarian approach. I disagree vehemently with utilitarianism. I am not arguing for the destruction of a lesser human being. I am not arguing that we kill the inconvenient. I am arguing that there is an ethical time to have an abortion. I’m arguing that anything after that time period Is ethically wrong, whether or not they have Down Syndrome, or are senile adults who have outlived their usefulness. We don’t kill stupid people, or people with asthma, or less than perfect teeth or vision. Humans are ends in and of themselves, and there is no possible way to consistently apply any system of valuation to everything, which utilitarianism attempts to do.

Now, I would argue that there should be a good reason to abort the fetus. I would not encourage the wholesale abortion of all fetuses everywhere. I would not argue that abortion is consequence free. No one is pro-abortion at the end of the day.  I am in support of the option to have an abortion, though I hope no one ever needs to take advantage of it. In addition, I am perfectly happy to allow the woman to decide for herself what reason is appropriate or inappropriate to have an abortion before the second trimester. That choice should not be legislated, nor controlled by any one other than the woman, whose body is being affected. However, the Father should certainly be involved in the conversation. If men are to be required to pay child support, if the child is brought to term, or if they are to be expected to be a part of the child’s life, or have other responsibilities regarding the child, than the man should certainly “have a say”, and be an integral part of the decision process. No Taxation without Representation. However, once the development has reached the end of the second trimester, I feel that the choice is no longer the mother’s or father’s. The old arguments of a woman’s right to choose what to do with her body fall flat in the face of the consideration of a second human being in the primary equation. This is a defenseless human being who cannot fight for itself, and must be protected by others.

This is similar to all other forms of human social interaction: you may do with yourself, or to yourself almost anything that you want, within reason, provided that it does not hurt someone or something else in society. This is a fancy way to say the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I can go for a drive, but I cannot run somebody else off the road with my car. Even in cases of extreme emergency.

Now, Ethically I am willing to allow for a Third trimester abortion in the extremely rare and extreme case of danger to the mothers life. I base this on the nature of self-defense ethic and law. You have the right, though not the obligation, to defend yourself and your life from other human attackers who either intentionally or unintentionally seek to do you harm. Now, the noble thing to do is self-sacrifice. Men have been nobly sacrificing themselves for others on the battlefield as long as there have been battles and men. Fathers have sacrificed themselves for their wife and children as long as there have been patriarchal based families. However, no one has the obligation to sacrifice themselves. It is entirely voluntary, and is contingent on the personal values of the decision-maker. Or in other words, the woman’s choice. And she should not feel pressured to decide one way or the other, with her life in the balance. It is entirely up to her and solely her prerogative.

In the case of rape, she has six months to make a decision whether or not she’s going to carry the pregnancy to term. That is not much time for social, emotional, psychological, or physiological healing, but that is all the time that there is. There is a deadline. Simply because evil has been done is not a license to do more evil.

Perhaps I engage a bit in the slippery slope of Peter Singer, but as with most issues, There is rarely a simple black and white solution to a complex problem. And the slippery slope merely means that the answer is a matter of degrees rather than a hard universal or categorical constant. Unfortunately, life rarely is that black & white, or cut & dried.

There, I have rushed in where fools and angels fear to tread.

 

Faith * Hope * Love = {Dream} + [Create] + (Inspire)

Hope is the antithesis to Fate.

road_sunset-wideThere is no fate, or destiny set in stone. There is only freedom.
There are only boundless possibilities. Hope and Fate cannot coexist.

Fate is a set path, that allows no hope. Fate is a set existence that cannot be changed. It is immutable. It is as good as it is going to be, and cannot be improved, or made better. It is exactingly precise, and predetermined. Hope requires that the future is incorporeal.

particles1 jardines-con-laberintosOur Hope is that the best of all possible futures is the one we select.
Our Faith is that Humanity, in all of its greatness and in all of its tragedy, is capable of discovering the Power of the Love necessary to move us toward that best possible future.

 

Love is the engine. Faith: the vehicle. Hope: the navigation.

We dream, and we create from love and faith. Through these, We inspire hope. And Hope fuels the faith and love.

Hope. Faith. Love. Dream. Create. Inspire.

the-universe-hails-our-love-299684This is the essence of the human condition:
Our Glory is our capacity for good.
Our Tragedy is our shortcomings, that cause us to fall short of our potential.
Our Struggle is to overcome these short comings, and reach our greatest potential.

Sisyphus_by_vmulliganTo overcome our Struggles, and reign Triumphant, we need to be guided by Faith, Hope, and Love.

However, without love, our mighty automobile is merely a burnt out wreck. If We have Faith that can move mountains, but have no Love, We have nothing.

Love always Protects.
Love always Trusts.
Love always Hopes.
Love always Perseveres.

sisyphusLove always wins.

The greatest way to destroy the world is to remove the love from it. Without Love, there is no Faith. There is no Hope.

The easiest way to destroy Love, is to promote self-interest, self-indulgence, self-glorification, and cause Humanity to become inward focused. By breaking down the bonds of human society, and dissolving or at least by greatly diluting Love, so that people cease to believe in it, one can eradicate it from society.

504x_775701003_76ce8283e8Love requires being Other focused. It is Patient. Kind. It is not proud, and lacks hubris. It doesn’t envy, or boast. It puts other people first; it does not dishonor other people. It is not self-seeking. It holds no grudges: Love forgives easily and often. Love is disciplined: it is not easily angered. Discipline is the easiest path to Freedom. Love loves Truth. Love Balances Justice. Love is about other people being more important to you than yourself.

Love is the essence of the Golden Rule: Love Your Neighbor As Yourself. Who is my neighbor? Everyone. The people you meet in public, the other drivers on the freeway. The workers who made your sweater and jeans. The farmer who raised your breakfast. The scientist who created your medicine. string_dimensionsThe mechanic and engineers who designed your car. Who is my neighbor? Everyone that I am remotely connected to. We must love them as we love ourselves. We must put society first, and work together to create a society built on Love. This restores Hope. This restores Faith.

This creates a Glorious and Beautiful Humanity and a Shining World for Tomorrow.

In the end, only these three things remain: Faith, Hope, and Love. The greatest of these is Love.

Love Each Other.8472136420_38bd056520_z

A refutation of C.S. Lewis’ belief of the non-necessity of Friendship, Art, and Philosophy.

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.

-C.S. Lewis

Though I appreciate the sentiment, his underlying axiom is entirely untrue. Friendship, philosophy, and art are essential to human survival. I will briefly analyze the importance of these three points, clearly demonstrating the falsity of this statement. I will start with the more esoteric and move toward the concrete. This is not intended to be an exhaustive analysis and could easily be expanded into a several hundred page volume. Today, I will merely draft a rough 2-3 page summary or sketch of the flaws in the argument.

Philosophy, as defined by Webster, is “1c: a discipline comprising as its core logic, aesthetics, ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology”…

“2a : pursuit of wisdom.”

“2c : an analysis of the grounds of and concepts expressing fundamental beliefs”…

“4a : the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group”

From a simple definitional analysis, the role philosophy plays in our daily lives and in society is evident.

Logic is essential to raw physical survival. Logical people learn from the past, and are more functional problem solvers. What is survival, if not a series of problems and hazards that must be solved and avoided? Anything which gives a creature an edge in that problem solving is essential to survival.

Ethics are essential to sociological survival. A coherent and consistent ethical code applied to a society is what allows society to survive and not fall in on and destroy each other. It allows people to manage expectations, and to understand how their individual behavior impacts the group. For instance, stealing is unethical for it actually removes resources and currencies from the “tool kit” of the victim that they could use to support themselves and take care of their families. In some societies, shame is the result of violating the ethic, which is an automatic sociological self-regulatory enforcement mechanism. A person’s code of ethics becomes the foundation upon which his reputation is built, which determines how he functions in society and how he treats and is treated. A high ethical standard garners respect, and can be used to further one’s interests in society and gain a higher standard of living. On a more base anthropological level, the simplest ethic, “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” is what allows societies to even begin forming. It is what allows family units to stay together and not kill each other. It promotes sharing and taking care of others, in the hope that if you fall upon hard times and can’t take care of yourself, others will take care of you. Of course there are other ethical survival examples, but this will suffice for making this point! I will leave the additional extrapolation of the survival value of a complicated ethical system to the reader. Feel free to explore Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethic, Jean Jacques Rousseau’s Social Contract, J.S. Mill’s Utilitarian Ethic, or Kant’s Ethics, etc. These are some brilliant minds that explore ethics at a brilliant level. From ethics, springs the political system which attempts to systemize and unify one overarching ethic by which a society is compelled to conduct itself.

Metaphysics is a traditional branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms: “What is there?” and “What is it like?”. Before man even evolved from monkeys, his innate curiosity asked these two basic questions, albeit at a rather unsophisticated level. These questions contributed information to the human scope of understanding, and allowed man to develop and communicate information to the tribe and to the generations. This curiosity is seen at its most basic form with regard to Chimpanzees exploring their environment, and playing with each other. They taste, smell, smash, touch, hold objects to understand them. The Chimps learn from each other’s experience what hurts and what kills. They learn what is edible and delicious. Without that curiosity regarding what is beyond the visible, man would never have survived even the most basic existence. We rely upon of curiosity and musing about the nature of the world to accomplish the simplest of tasks. Epistemology allows us to question not only what we know but how we know in order to give us greater insight into our conclusions derived from logic. It allows us to look at our basic educational and epistemological axioms and see the inner workings in order to clean up the system and move it to an ordered consistent and coherent whole. This allows us to attempt to have a more accurate understanding of the universe, and how it works for our own survival. The past three hundred years has seen this accelerate at an incredible rate and Metaphysics spawned a formal branch that we call “Science”, which has given us even more tools to promote our survival and comfort, such as medicine, engineering, technology, bioengineering, etc. Metaphysics allows us to systemize and categorize the world around us and human experience by means of the universal and the particular which is a uniquely useful categorization complex. Metaphysics allows us to explore causality, determinism, free-will, necessity, possibility, and other precepts of which our understandings partially determine our worldview and manage our expectations of reality. Metaphysical exploration gave us empiricism, and rationalism as well. Philosophy is “the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group”. Awareness of these beliefs and attitudes allows us to attempt to correct evolutionarily deficient memes, and encourage positive attitudes and dogmas. It diminishes sociological blindness and encourages everyone to think. This strengthens the multi-stranded cord of society. I will not explore this point any further, as I believe that I have sufficiently demonstrated that Metaphysics as well through Philosophy is essential to our base survival and to our growth as a species.

Whereas Philosophy is the left-brained exploration of the nature of reality, Art is the right-brained exploration and communication of postulations, world-views, and questions by the artist to the audience.

Tolstoy said in his essay “What is Art” that, “Art is not, as the metaphysicians say, the manifestation of some mysterious idea of beauty or God; it is not, as the aesthetical physiologists say, a game in which man lets off his excess of stored-up energy; it is not the expression of man’s emotions by external signs; it is not the production of pleasing objects; and, above all, it is not pleasure; but it is a means of union among men, joining them together in the same feelings, and indispensable for the life and progress toward well-being of individuals and of humanity.”  Frank Lloyd Wright said , “Art is a discovery and development of elementary principles of nature into beautiful forms suitable for human use.”  Elbert Hubbard said, “Art is not a thing — it is a way.” André Gide said in Poétique, “Art begins with resistance — at the point where resistance is overcome. No human masterpiece has ever been created without great labor.” Francis Ford Coppola said, “An essential element of any art is risk. If you don’t take a risk then how are you going to make something really beautiful, that hasn’t been seen before?” and Maria Popova summarizes: “This is the power of art: The power to transcend our own self-interest, our solipsistic zoom-lens on life, and relate to the world and each other with more integrity, more curiosity, more wholeheartedness.”

The essential thing to realize is that Art is about communication: it is an expression, or an exploration by an artist communicating with himself. Sometimes this speaks to others and communicates with them. Art lets us know that we are not alone in the darkness.  Many artists feel that if no one acknowledges their art, then it has no meaning, worth, or value. Art, though a communicative medium, is not primarily a means of communication at least in the traditional sense. Art doesn’t require an audience to have value. It doesn’t even need to be particularly high quality. Art’s primary purpose is personal. It’s meaning is individual. It is an expression/exploration of an idea, thought, feeling, or concept. Art is relative to the creator and the audience. Art made merely as a creative outlet is every bit as beneficial and useful as art made to decorate the Sistine Chapel. In fact, Oscar Wilde said that “All art is quite useless”. He didn’t mean that it has no value, but that if art is being twisted to serve a purpose, is it truly art? Propaganda is not art, nor is advertising under this definition. Now, he is also not advocating an ultimate all-encompassing definition of useless. He is primarily referring to art that has been commercialized, or ab-used to serve a purpose beyond the art. These things can have artistic qualities, but not necessarily be actual art. A play has value in merely being performed, whether or not anyone watches it. It indicates that mankind can create in a vacuum. It is truly “Creatio ex nihilo”. This is an important step in the evolution of humanity, this ability to create from nothing. It has an ontological value beyond what the actors experience.

Art must have thought behind the creation. It must be spawned from the creative spark within our being. It must flow from our soul, from the universe through the conduit of our bodies and minds. Art must be free to explore. Art must be the manifestation of the Universal. It must tie into something greater. This is why so-called “commercial art” is rarely art, though commerce and art are not exclusive. Jackson Pollack deconstructed ideas in his process of chaos, form, color, and meaninglessness. He was actively participating in understanding the universe in a new light in the creation of his splatters. Van Gogh, Monet, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo: all created a perspective of the Universal and translated it to canvas, or stone, or plaster. Beethoven heard the symphonies of the universe, even when deaf, creating some of the most transcendental music in human history. Banksy comments upon human nature and society in his graphic arts. Chuck Close and John Cage take a closer look at the elements of their respective mediums, analyzing their subjects in the light of their own novel world views. Art must be intentional. Beauty need not be.

Artists must explore the Universe, in all of it’s facets as they seek ultimate TRUTH, or whatever shreds of Temporal Truth they can seize, and represent. Artists are practical experiential philosophers. They provide a similar role in society, and explore similar issues, in a completely different manner which is usually more accessible to the masses than “hard philosophy”.

Painters must paint. It is what is within them. Writers must write. Film makers must make film. Sculptures must sculpt. Poets must wax poetic. The medium is not what matters. The critical view of reality and the attempt to discover it through creation is what matters. With this in mind, we see why an audience is non-essential and even tangential to the artistic process. However, we all hope that our art reaches other people, or displays what truths we have learned and discovered before them, so they might be enriched and lead greater, more full lives. We hope that our art challenges world views, or at least causes us to view the world with greater observative acuity. We hope that our art causes people to re-evaluate their axioms, and base assumptions as to the nature of reality, other people, nature, themselves, and their belief structures. Art is subversive. It is inherently unstable. It is dangerous. Free thought and action is required. It is quirky. It is weird. It views ordinary life through a new lens. It looks at the elements, and the big picture simultaneously yet independently and exclusively. It takes paradox in stride, bending our minds, and crushing our lazy banality.

However, in the end, art is for the artist. We make art, for art’s sake because we can’t do otherwise. We must connect to the Universal and allow it to pass through us into the specific. In this, art need not be beautiful, or True in and of itself. It must realize itself and grow. It must relate to the comprehensive whole, connecting our spirits with itself. That is where the Truth and Beauty lie. If it is True, it is inherently beautiful, no matter how horrible. If it is Beautiful, it is inherently True, no matter how false. That which is True, and Beautiful must be good.

Through all of this, Art springs eternal. Art is what binds us to the universe and to each other. Without Art, creativity must die. Without Art, critical perspectives will be lost. Art must be created to enhance our lives and understandings beyond anything that Math and Science can do. Art must direct Sciences and Math. And Sciences and Math must direct art. They must be in balance: a system in tension.  Different realms of knowing collide, but each are essential to crafting a great understanding of the mosaic of the Universe, and Art will allow us to Transcend our bounds and limitations and connect to the fires behind the curtain.

This divine spark of creativity is what directs humanity: this imp of the subconscious. It is brilliant, and quirky, and is what allows us to survive and thrive. Without it, there would be no survival, no science, or philosophy, or industry. Mankind would likely not be capable of even the most basic survival, without that spark of inspiration that acts as a guiding light. We need art for our soul, and for our mind, and for our will!

Art is the exercise that allows the muscle of creativity to grow. Creativity allows us to escape the basic problems, and solve various conundrums and trials which vex our human existence. Creativity goes hand in hand with logic to our survival.

Can God Know the Future?

The-Helix-NebulaDISCLAIMER: This is a thought experiment: This is not a Theological postulation. This is a Philosophical pondering. None of this may be true, or it all might. Let’s not argue the validity of the axioms, but let’s assume them for a philosophic purpose. These axioms are impossible to prove or disprove and anyone claiming they can is making a Theological assertion, be they Theist or Atheist. Let’s argue within the system we set up, and attempt to make an internally consistent viewpoint.

Let’s assume 5 axioms: God exists. God knows everything. God is all-powerful. God is good. God directly created the Universe/Humanity.

If God Knows Everything, including the future, god1then he knows what everyone will do, and they cannot do otherwise. Predestination.
If God Knows Everything, including the future, then He knows what he will do, and he cannot do otherwise. Double Predestination. If God has no freewill then he is not Omnipotent.

Ergo, for the first two statements to be true, God cannot know the future with any degree of certainty. Now, doesn’t this contradict God “knowing everything?” Yes it does.

So, Let’s rephrase God’s 600-Egyptian-RaOmniscience to be: God knows everything that is logically possible for him to know.
Ergo, the future is unknowable (Schrödinger’s Cat).

However, God (being an infinitely smart brain) would know all of the possibilities and be able to calculate the probabilities of all future events.

Ergo, we have the current state of affairs today because God, in a specific moment in time and space created the universe inThe_Creator_God_of_Life,_the_Universe_and_Everything a specific way, knowing the probabilities of all the possible futures and all the possible worlds created the universe in such a way that would create the likelihood for the best of all possible worlds. If God strove for anything less than the best, then he would not be good. The possibility does exist that that there are multiple “bests” in the form, and this happens to be the one we have.

Now this assumes that God started everything in motion and stood back to let it develop. However it doesn’t change much to postulate that God from time to time intervenes in human/universal affairs. However, there is much evil in the world. I am defining evil in 2 categories: Natural evil such as tornados and tsunamis, as well as Tigers and Eagles hunting for prey; and Moral evil committed by humans. Moral evil includes both willful and incidental evil.

brahmagoldSo if God created this particular universe in the specific way he did, knowing the probability for so much evil, and we assume that this is one of the best possible worlds, then God willfully created and is responsible for evil. So at first glance God is not Good.

However, God could be Good if there was a sufficiently important reason for moral evil to exist. The greatest forms of evil are committed by humans willfully committing moral evil. We CHOOSE to do such evil. In order for a good God to allow such evil, he must value Man‘s freewill above his possibility for evil.

Now we get into a grey area: Hypothesizing (Guessing) God’s Motivations. This is Theology, no longer philosophy. However, I will postulate several possibilities which I cannot prove. I can only infer from my limited human experience.

1. Why did God Create the Universe?
2. Why did God Create humanity?
3. Why did God bestow humanity with Freewill?

imagesGod may have created the Universe because it is within his nature to Create. Humans have a creative constructive nature, which if we are created by a Creative God makes sense. In this postulation, assuming God exists, and created Man, it is logical to assume that our human nature is an imperfect copy of the nature of the Creator. When we paint or sculpt we create imperfect copies of parts of ourself, be it our image, our psyche, our thoughts and feelings represented through abstraction. They are less perfect copies of ourselves.

We feel the “need” to represent and express polls_500x500_1835_284435_poll_xlargeourselves through creation. Perhaps we get this desire from our Creator? Classical Theologians call this understanding “Imago Dei”: (we are created in) the Image of God. Effectively, we have freewill and creativity because God made us like him in many ways, the same way that our ART reflects us as the creator.

So assuming these new motivations, we must conclude that we have freewill because God has freewill, and he imbued us with a limited version of that same freewill. Ergo, God has the capacity for evil and chooses not to commit it, which is what truly makes him good. We have the capacity for evil, and we choose to commit it, which makes us less than good. God must value the fact that we are created in his image more than the capacity for evil that we possess.

Why?

shapeimage_2Classical Theologians postulate that God’s love is supreme. God desires to have a relationship with his creation. With each human. This sounds rather absurd, when you figure that there have been 108 Billion people since Humanity arrived at 50,000 BC. Each human lives for a fraction of the almost 14 Billion year old Universe. Logically, God is older than all of that – assuming of course, that God doesn’t age or die. Of course he could jut be aging incredibly slowly, and will die one day. There could be a whole race of gods that GODeach create their own universes, and oversee them for Billions of years. Who knows? It is a Faith statement to assert either way, and I can’t back either up, logically. Anyway, classic Theologians assert that God desires a relationship with each human, which if true, means that God must have an infinite love and attention span to actually care about each person with any real depth. Perhaps he only truly loves and get’s to know specific “important” humans and the rest he blankets in a generic love the way a farmer loves all of his livestock, but he only bonds with a few like his horse or dog. Again, who knows?

Back to the point at hand: if God desires our love, then we would need freewill in order for gnosticour love to be genuine. Theoretically God could value this capacity for love above the capacity for evil: Gambling that our love would outshine our evil. You cannot have the capacity for great virtue without the capacity for great vice. Otherwise, it is not great virtue. It is merely a computer program. Computers will never be capable of love until they can be capable of choice. If they are capable of choice, then they will have a capacity for evil, just like us. This is the balance and the risk that God must have taken. He weighed Love vs Evil, and chose to allow both, in order to create the capacity for true love.

Hypothetically speaking of course, the reverse could be equally true: God could actually enjoy dark evil, and in order to have the Marduk2darkest evil possible, he had to create true love, so that Evil may be it’s blackest. However, this is a postulation for another post. This is the danger we get into when postulating God’s Motives. We are just guessing and we can’t prove the positive or the negative. However, for the postulation at hand, I move to reject the “Maximization of Evil” Theory.

In Summary, God Doesn’t know the future, because there is no possible way for him to know the future, due to the freewill he gave his creation. God can know the future of all non-freewill systems, like the rotation of the planets, the death of the universe,galaxy the expansion of the galaxy, the shift of the Teutonic plates, volcanic eruptions, the weather, etc. God Can know his own future actions: If such and such happens, then I will do such and such: The same way we plan our actions in advance based on contingencies, but on a greater scale. God cannot know with certainty what either he or freewill beings will do, and thus the future is unknowable.

Here is a link to an excellent video explaining the 10 Dimensions and God: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqeqW3g8N2Q
Image-Bhgwan-brahma

A Rough Overview of My Fundamental Axioms of Socio-Economic & Political Opinions.

It is evident to even the most base thinker that people willfully do and say what they want because they prefer it. This preference is derived from a series of hierarchical axioms ingrained in us, either through nurture, nature, or personal growth and exploration. We do what we prefer. If we are conflicted, our axioms and “feelings” weigh in to make themselves known, which, in the end, determine our decisions. We may be majorly conflicted, but if one side gains that majority rule, we tend to go with that, barring the chance that our intuitive impulses may find themselves swooping in, and at the last second change our minds.

What are some of these base axial decisions? They all flow forth from philosophical ethics and from one’s worldview. Today, I will attempt to merely expose some of my axioms, without tying together ramifications of these ethics, except as necessary to expose other secondary axioms. This list will not be comprehensive, nor will it include all axioms for all time. It is merely an attempt to skim the surface of my axiomatic beliefs. This is all that I could come up with off the top of my brain. I will add to these as I think of them.

DISCLAIMER: Any/ALL personal pronouns refer to all people. These are not gender specific axioms. Man is best rendered “person”. Men is best rendered “people”.

DISCLAIMER 2: Certain Lockian, Madisonian, and Jeffersonian ideals crept up in the middle, so I googled a few of their writings to make sure I expressed them properly. I did not cite any sources.

The first and greatest ethical axiom is the golden rule “Do unto Others, as you would have them do unto you.”
“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
“Self Survival is paramount.”
“Taking care of others influences them to take care of you.”
“Many sticks bound together are not easily broken: there is proportionate strength in unity.”

“A team is only as strong as its weakest link.”
“Man is creative.”
“Man is capable of both great good and great evil.”
“Evil exists.”
“There are several forms of evil: Natural evil, incidental evil, and willful evil.”
“Within willful evil there are two states based on intent and motive: Intentional non-malicious evil, malicious evil.”
“For the good of society, evil must be stopped as efficiently as possible.”
“Willful Evil deserves punishment in kind and turn: it must not be excessive nor unusual.”
“Justice must be fair, and merciful. It must be a balance in tension.”
“Justice must be blind.”
“Courts must act on the victims’ and on societies behalf, in their best interest.”
“Man should not kill man, neither should courts (made of men) kill men.”
“Men abusing their Liberty should be rehabilitated and taught how to behave properly in society.”
“Men should only have their liberty restrained in proportion to the abuse their liberties.”
“The measure of a man is how he responds to adversity”
Good is better than bad”.
“More good is better than less good.“The Most Good is better than anything less than the most Good.”“Unique Individuals matter.”“Everyone is Born Equal.” 

“Not everyone is born equally capable or with equal potential.”
“Some people will achieve more in their lives than others.”
“Some people are born with certain personality traits which develop over time, allowing them to have a greater chance at success in life.”
“Some people will be better leaders than others.”
“Some people will be able to take care of themselves better than others, some less.”
“Some people will be born healthy and strong, some will be born sickly and weak.”
“Some people will be damaged mentally, either through nature, or (lack of proper) nurture.”
“Every Human Life is valuable.”
“Every life on the planet is valuable, both plant and animal.”
“Life requires life in order to live: There is a circle and a rhythm to life. There is a food chain.”
“Scientific Discovery is the process of human minds attempting to discover How and Why the universe works the way it does. It is not perfect, but is being constantly refined.”
“Murder is wrong. Killing is not necessarily wrong.”
“Man should not kill other men, unless his healthful survival or others’ healthful survival is at stake.”
“Man should be limited in his ability to intentionally and willfully kill.”
“Theft is wrong.”
“The removal and/or destruction/defacement of another’s property is wrong.”
“People can own possessions, property, ideas.”
“If one creates something, it is theirs.”
“Self-determining Liberty and freedom is a basic right of all higher life: animal and human.”
“No one and no creature has the right to injure or inhibit another, except when survival is at stake.”
“Everyone and Every creature has the right to defend its life and liberty and pursuit of happiness.”
“One ought to care for and protect one’s family.”
“Relationships matter in society, and personally.”
“Marriage is the fundamental family unit in society, and acts like a whole.”
“The essential qualities of a family are self-sufficiency (as far as it is possible), peaceful interaction with the community, contribution to the community in accordance with your ability and resources.”
“It is better to help improve people’s lives than to not improve them.”
“People with ‘great blessing’ are a product of society and owe society a ‘Noblesse oblige’: they are expected to hold themselves to a high standard and contribute back to the others in society.”
“Marriage is expected to produce and/or care for future generations of citizens for the benefit of society.”
“Marriage need not necessarily care for its own children, as adoption is a socially beneficial practice.”
“Children are a great responsibility, and must be cared for with the intention of creating the best people possible for society.”
“Casual destruction and Breaking up family units is wrong, as it destabilizes the fundamental societal building blocks and damages Children’s fragile developing psyches.”
“People have a right to determine what happens to their bodies.”
“People have a right to make decisions for themselves.”
“People have a right to determine whether they will live or die.”
“Potential does not equal kinetic.”
“Possibility and actuality are not synonymous.”
“If something is not something, then it isn’t something.”
Aristotle‘s rule of Non-contradiction applies to all.”
“Lying is not categorically wrong, but is usually not in society’s or in a person’s true best interests.”
“It is always better to know truth, than to believe lies.”
“Some things are neither true nor false.”
Personal Privacy is a virtue and must be protected.”
“People have a right to think however they would like: they have a right to their opinions, world views, and thoughts.”
“People have a right to not have these thoughts and ideas tampered with and manipulated.”
“People have a right to express these thoughts in any way they desire, provided that this expression does not damage other persons or property. Conflicting views are not damaged merely through conflict.”
“It is not wrong to have a thought or idea that disagrees with other thoughts and ideas, even if they are the majority.”
“There should be no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
“A Man’s Word is his bond.”
“Agreements and contracts must be honored.”
“All Men must be treated equally by Government.”
“We must assume that People are Innocent until Proven Guilty.”
“The burden of Proof rests upon the accuser.”
“Men must behave with dignity, and honor. This comes from a sense of personal pride and self-worth.”
“People should behave with Mercy and grace toward each other.”
“People must behave with respectability: reputation is all that a man has.”
“Health and Cleanliness are high virtues. We only have a short life, and must ensure that it is a life of quality and excellence.”
“People must think, and act according to their thought.”
“Wisdom of years and experience is to be valued.”
“Strategic thinking and forethought before action is a virtue.”
“Duty to one’s family, allegiances, and country is a virtue.”
“Men must be loyal to their friends, and allies.”
“No man is an island, and no one accomplishes anything without strong relationships.”
“We must take care of others.”
“Respect is borne for equals and those greater than oneself. Compassion and mercy is borne for those less than yourself.”
“People must discipline themselves now in order to prepare themselves for success later.”
“True success only is found and maintained through discipline, forethought, and hard work.”
“A strong WILL is necessary to have any impact upon the world around you.”
“Men must have a sense of responsibility, and a sense of gravity for accomplishments.”
“Enjoyment of the arts, sciences, and culturally refined things of life increase the enjoyability of life, as well as connect people together throughout all time and throughout all cultures.”
“Life Long Learning is important to good personal development.”
“One must not live outside one’s means.”
“People operate out of their identity and their own self-worth.”
“Patient People full of intention often win through perseverance.”
“A Utopian society is one where all people are healthy, well-fed, well-sheltered, Well-educated, and employed in professions edifying society.”
“We ought to be thankful for what we have.”
“People ought to have dreams, goals, hopes, and aspirations.
“Men must never be afraid to operate according to higher principles at great personal cost.”
“People have a right to move about freely in their private space.They also have a right to move about freely in public space, provided that they do not impede or endanger the free movement of others.”
“People have a right to collectively determine their government and the way they shall be governed.”
“People have a right to know everything about the decision making and the decisions being made upon their behalf.”

“People have a right to speak in their own defense, and to influence policy and decisions being made on their behalf.”
“People have a right to be involved in any government decisions that impact them.”
“Each individual is free, in the state of nature. The benefits of society must be in balance with the liberties given up in order for an individual to willfully be a part of it.”
“All Power is originally vested in, and ergo derived from the People.”
“People have the right to change and fix their government when it fails.”
“People have the right to assemble, to consult each other for their common good, and to address the governing body, which must be compelled to listen.
“People have the right to publish and argue their views in any medium
“No person shall be subject to more than one punishment, or one trial for the same offence; nor shall he be compelled to be a witness against himself; nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor be obliged to relinquish his property.”
“The rights of the people to be secured in their persons, their houses, their papers, and their other property from all unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated by warrants issued without probable cause,”
“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, to be informed of the cause and nature of the accusation, to be confronted with his accusers, and the witnesses against him; to have a compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.”

 

The Survival Necessity of Friendship, Art, and Philosophy

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival. –C.S. Lewis

cs-lewis-pdf

Though I appreciate the sentiment, his underlying axiom is entirely untrue. Friendship, philosophy, and art are essential to human survival. I will briefly analyze the importance of these three points, clearly demonstrating the falsity of this statement. I will start with the more esoteric and move toward the concrete. This is not intended to be an exhaustive analysis and could easily be expanded into a several hundred page volume. Today, I will merely draft a rough 2-3 page summary or sketch of the flaws in the argument.

Philosophy, as defined by Webster, is “1c: a discipline comprising as its core logic, aesthetics, ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology”…

“2a : pursuit of wisdom.”

“2c : an analysis of the grounds of and concepts expressing fundamental beliefs”…

“4a : the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group”

From a simple definitional analysis, the role philosophy plays in our daily lives and in society is evident.

Logic is essential to raw physical survival. Logical people learn from the past, and are more functional problem solvers.appotomox What is survival, if not a series of problems and hazards that must be solved and avoided? Anything which gives a creature an edge in that problem solving is essential to survival.

Ethics are essential to sociological survival. A coherent and consistent ethical code applied to a society is what allows society to survive and not fall in on and destroy each other. It allows people to manage expectations, and to understand how their individual behavior impacts the group. For instance, stealing is unethical for it actually removes resources and currencies from the “tool kit” of the victim that they could use to support themselves and take care of their families. In some societies, shame is the result of violating the ethic, which is an automatic sociological self-regulatory enforcement mechanism. A person’s code of ethics becomes the foundation upon which his reputation is built, which determines how he functions in society and how he treats and is treated. A high ethical standard garners respect, and can be used to further one’s interests in society and gain a higher standard of living. On a more base anthropological level, the simplest ethic, “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” is what allows societies to even begin forming. It is what allows family bread lineunits to stay together and not kill each other. It promotes sharing and taking care of others, in the hope that if you fall upon hard times and can’t take care of yourself, others will take care of you. Of course there are other ethical survival examples, but this will suffice for making this point! I will leave the additional extrapolation of the survival value of a complicated ethical system to the reader. Feel free to explore Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethic, Jean Jacques Rousseau’s Social Contract, J.S. Mill‘s Utilitarian Ethic, or Kant‘s Ethics, etc. These are some brilliant minds that explore ethics at a brilliant level. From ethics, springs the political system which attempts to systematize and unify one overarching ethic by which a society is compelled to conduct itself.

Metaphysics is a traditional branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, althougheinstein the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms: “What is there?” and “What is it like?”. Before man even evolved from monkeys, his innate curiosity asked these two basic questions, albeit at a rather unsophisticated level. These questions contributed information to the human scope of understanding, and allowed man to develop and communicate information to the tribe and to the generations. This curiosity is seen at its most basic form with regard to Chimpanzees exploring their environment, and playing with each other. They taste, smell, smash, touch, hold objects to understand fetus davincithem. The Chimps learn from each other’s experience what hurts and what kills. They learn what is edible and delicious. plato and aristotleWithout that curiosity regarding what is beyond the visible, man would never have survived even the most basic existence. We rely upon of curiosity and musing about the nature of the world to accomplish the simplest of tasks. Epistemology allows us to question not only what we know but how we know in order to give us greater insight into our conclusions derived from logic. It allows us to look at our basic educational and epistemological axioms and see the inner workings in order to clean up the system and move it to an ordered consistent and coherent whole. This allows us to attempt to have agordes089b more accurate understanding of the universe, and how it works for our own survival. The past three hundred years has seen this accelerate at an incredible rate and Metaphysics spawned a formal branch that we call “Science”, which has given us even more tools to promote our survival and comfort, such as medicine, engineering, technology, bioengineering, etc. Metaphysics allows us to systematize and categorize the world around lady-justice-statue-wallpapers-1024x768us and human experience by means of the universal and the particular which is a uniquely useful categorization complex. Metaphysics allows us to explore causality, determinism, free-will, necessity, possibility, and other precepts of which our understandings partially determine our worldview and manage our expectations of reality. Metaphysical exploration gave us empiricism, and rationalism as well. Philosophy is “the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group”. Awareness of these beliefs and attitudes allows us to attempt to correct evolutionarily deficient memes, and encourage positive attitudes and dogmas. It diminishes sociological blindness and encourages everyone to think. This strengthens the multi-stranded cord of society. I will not explore this point any further, as I believe that I have sufficiently demonstrated that Metaphysics as well through Philosophy is essential to our base survival and to our growth as a species.

Whereas Philosophy is the left-brained exploration of the nature of reality, Art is the right-brained exploration and communication of postulation, world-views, and questions by the artist to the audience.

Tolstoy said in his essay “What is Art” that, Michelangelo_Caravaggio_047_OBNP2009-Y06613“Art is not, as the metaphysicians say, the manifestation of some mysterious idea of beauty or God; it is not, as the aesthetical physiologists say, a game in which man lets off his excess of stored-up energy; it is not the expression of man’s emotions by external signs; it is not the production of pleasing objects; and, above all, it is not pleasure; but it is a means of union among men, joining them together in the same feelings, and indispensable for the life and progress toward well-being of individuals and of humanity.”  Frank Lloyd Wright said , “Art is a discovery and development of elementary principles of nature into beautiful forms suitable for human use.”  Elbert Hubbard said, “Art is not a Mona-Lisa-1thing — it is a way.” André Gide said in Poétique, “Art begins with resistance — at the point where resistance is overcome. No human masterpiece has ever been created without great labor.” Francis Ford Coppola said, “An essential element of any art is risk. If you don’t take a risk then how are you going to make something really beautiful, that hasn’t been seen before?” and Maria Popova summarizes: “This is the power of art: The power to transcend our own self-interest, our solipsistic zoom-lens on life, and relate to the world and each other with more integrity, more curiosity, more whole-heartedness.”

The essential thing to realize, is that Art purpose is communication: it is an expression, or an exploration by an artist. There are amost-famous-paintings-in-the-world-The-Persistence-of-Memory-by-Salvador-Dalicouple forms of communication in this: Intra-personal, Inter-personal, and Extra-personal. Intra-personal communication deals with the individuals communication with himself. It is similar to dreaming: the mind’s subconscious spits out a technical readout smushed OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAtogether in upon itself. It allows us to uncover what we are truly feeling, thinking about, and experiencing. It is a form of psyche self-diagnostic test.

Interpersonal communication originates within the artist, is transmitted by the medium, is received and interpreted by the audience, and then responded to.

Extra-personal communication is directed at the the universe: it is created to explore, to ask questions, to try new things and experiment. It is the purest form of art, in my view: “Ars Gratia Artis”.

PietaSometimes this speaks to others and communicates with them. Art lets us know that we are not alone in the darkness.  Many artists feel that if no one acknowledges their art, then it has no meaning, worth, or value. Art, though a communicative medium, is not primarily a means of communication at least in the traditional sense. Art doesn’t require an audience to have value. It doesn’t even need to be particularly high quality. Art’s primary purpose is personal. It’s meaning is individual. It is an expression/exploration of an idea, thought, feeling, or concept.Screen Shot 2012-09-08 at 4.31.26 PM Art is relative to the creator and the audience. Art made merely as a creative outlet is every bit as beneficial and useful as art made to decorate the Sistine Chapel. In fact, Oscar Wilde said that “All art is quite useless”. He didn’t mean that it has no value, but that if art is being twisted to serve a purpose, is it truly art? Propaganda is not art, nor is advertising under this definition. Now, he is also not advocating an ultimate all-encompassing definition of useless. He is primarily referring to art that has been commercialized, or ab-used to serve a purpose beyond the art. These things can have artistic qualities, but not necessarily be actual art. A play has value in merely being performed, whether or not anyone watches it. It indicates that mankind can create in a vacuum. It is truly “Creatio ex nihilo”. This is an important step in the evolution of humanity, this ability to create from nothing. It has an ontological value beyond what the actors experience.

Screen Shot 2012-09-08 at 4.32.19 PMArt must have thought behind the creation. It must be spawned from the creative spark within our being. It must flow from our soul, from the universe through the conduit of our bodies and minds. Art must be free to explore. Art must be the manifestation of the Universal. It must tie into something greater. This is why so-called “commercial art” is rarely art, though commerce and art are not exclusive. Jackson Pollack deconstructed ideas in his process of chaos, form, color, and meaninglessness. He was actively participating in understanding the universe in a new light in the creation of his splatter. Van Gogh, Monet, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo: all created a perspective of the Universal and translated it to canvas, or stone, or plaster. Beethoven heard the symphonies of the universe, even when deaf, creating some spiral galaxyof the most transcendental music in human history. Banksy comments upon human nature and society in his graphic arts. Chuck Close and John Cage take a closer look at the elements of their respective mediums, analyzing their subjects in the light of their own novel world views. Art must be intentional. Beauty need not be.

Artists must explore the Universe, in all of it’s facets as they seek ultimate truth, or Stonehengewhatever shreds of temporal truth they can seize, and represent. Artists are practical experiential existential philosophers. They provide a similar role in society, and explore similar issues, in a completely different manner which is usually more accessible to the masses than “hard philosophy”.

Painters must paint. It is what is within them. Writers must write. Film makers must make film. Sculptures must sculpt. Poets must wax poetic. The medium is not what matters. The critical view of reality and the attempt to discover it through creation is what matters. vaticanWith this in mind, we see why an audience is non-essential and even tangential to the artistic process. However, we all hope that our art reaches other people, or displays what truths we have learned and discovered before them, so they might be enriched and lead greater, more full lives. We hope that our art challenges world views, or at least causes us to view the world with greater observed acuity. We hope that our art causes people to re-evaluate their axioms, and base assumptions as to the nature of reality, other people, nature, themselves, and their belief structures. Art is subversive. It is inherently unstable. It is dangerous. Free thought and action is required. It is quirky. It is weird. It views ordinary life through a new lens. It looks at the elements, and the big picture simultaneously yet independently and exclusively. It takes paradox in stride, bending our minds, and crushing our lazy banality.

However, in the end, art is for the artist. We make0_23_melies_moon_shot art, for art’s sake because we can’t do otherwise. We must connect to the Universal and allow it to pass through us into the specific. In this, art need not be beautiful, or True in and of itself. It must realize itself and grow. It must relate to the comprehensive whole, connecting our spirits with itself. That is where the Truth and Beauty lie. If it is True, it is inherently beautiful, no matter how horrible. If it is Beautiful, it is inherently True, no matter how false. That which is True, and Beautiful must be good.

Through all of this, Art springs eternal. Art is what binds us to the universe and to each other. It is a self-healing balm within our souls. It allows us to cope with our experiences 01-thecrookedhouse-thumband our feelings. It allows us a lens to interpret our experience and respond to reality. Without Art, creativity must die. Without Art, critical perspectives will be lost. Art must be created in order to enhance our lives and understandings beyond anything that Math and Science can do. Art must direct Sciences and Math. And Sciences and Math must direct art. They must be in balance: a system in tension.  Different realms of epistemology collide, but each are essential to crafting a great understanding of the mosaic of the Universe, and Art will allow us to Transcend our bounds and limitations and connect to the fires behind the curtain.

This divine spark of creativity is what directs humanity: this imp of the subconscious. It is brilliant, and quirky, and is what allows us to survive 380px-Blind_monks_examining_an_elephantand thrive. Without it, there would be no survival, no science, or philosophy, or industry. Mankind would likely not be capable of even the most basic survival, without that spark of inspiration that acts as a guiding light. We need art for our soul, and for our mind, and for our will! Artists are those who strip away everything else in order to unleash this imp.

We see higher orders of animals exhibit artistic Dolphin-Bubble-Ringstendencies in their own attempt to cope with reality, or play with the world around them. Dolphins blow water rings for fun, and move coral and rocks on a sea floor around in artistic patterns. Elephants and primates Ramona_Paintingexpress themselves, and have been known to paint and create. It seems that experiencing and creating art is essential to psychological health and well-being.

Art is the exercise that allows the muscle of creativity to grow. Creativity allows us to escape the basic problems, and solve various conundrums and trials which vex our human existence. Creativity goes hand in hand with logic to our survival. Ergo, Art for these reasons and more, is Dance_with_Me_by_Ramonaessential to human survival. Again, I have just painted the broadest of strokes, and have left many areas incomplete, barely referenced and some aspects I just plain omitted. However, if you consider everything that I have hinted at, you will likely intuit that Art is essential to our survival as a species.

Now on to friendship. Aristotle said, “In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge. They keep the young out of mischief; they comfort and aid the old in their weakness, and they incite those in the prime of life to noble deeds.” The Gallup Organization’s director, Tom Rath, states In his book, Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford To Live Without, that if andrew-watson-timbuktu-camel-trekkers-in-the-saharan-sands-near-timbuktu-maliyou ask people why they became homeless, why their marriage failed or why they overeat, they often say it is because of the poor quality, or nonexistence, of friendships. They feel outcast or unloved. His work resulted in some surprising statistics: If your best friend eats healthily, you are five times more likely to have a healthy diet yourself. Married people say friendship is more than five times as important as physical intimacy within marriage. danceThose who say they have no real friends at work have only a one in 12 chance of feeling engaged in their job. Conversely, if you have a “best friend at work”, you are seven times more likely to feel engaged in your job. Aristotle made the point that it is better to give than to receive in friendship. Aristotle also believed that friendship can only arise indirectly, like happiness. It comes with living a good life, including strong personal values such as honesty, character and passion. These things indirectly arise out of and are strongly influenced by Art and Philosophy. Epicurus said, “The noble man is most involved with wisdom and friendship.” Author Mark Vernon writes that “a close friend is a Extreme-Old-People-Skydivermirror of your own self, someone with whom you realize that, though autonomous, you are not alone… Friendship cultivates the virtues, such as creativity and compassion, which are essential to a flourishing society”. Donald X Burt argues in his essay, “Friendship and Society: Introduction to Augustine’s Practical Philosophy, “It is a fact that humans spend most of their lives in India_Varanasi_Ritual_prayer_on_the_Gangesrelationships with others of their kind and these relationships are more than just being in the same place at the same time, like people gathered together in a subway train, moving in the same direction but unknown and uncaring about the other. The fact is that human beings gather in all sorts of societies: families, nations, and innumerable purely voluntary associations.”

Now, some view this as negative: Hobbes described the “natural” human being as an animal driven by self-interest, suspicious of and (where possible) aggressive towards others of its kind. Nietzsche maintained that anti-social attitudes are the best characteristics a human being, not the worst. CYGY.com - The Online Web MagazineOnly the weak seek others in society; the strong relish isolation, coming together only to accomplish a joint action furthering their individual will to power. Society stands in the way of the purposes of the Superman and is best done away with to clear the ground for the truly superior human being to develop. However, many other great minds have argued contrary to this. Those following in the traditions of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle have generally agreed that society for humans in a good thing. Without going so far as Marx or Hegel who suggest that the whole value of the individual comes from the collective, people like Aquinas and Locke argue that the full perfection of the individual physically, intellectually, and spiritually depends on a healthy relationship to others. St. Augustine argued, “In this world two things are essential: a healthy life and friendship. alaska-far-awayGod created humans so that they might exist and live: this is life. But if they are not to remain solitary, there must be friendship.” He cries out, “What is there to console us in this human society so full or errors and trials except the truth and mutual love of true and good friends?” The first thing a baby sees when opening its eyes are its parents, and life begins with their friendship. If we are lucky, family friendship is a reality that lasts a lifetime and we spend our days searching for others with whom we can find the depths of trust and caring and security that we experienced within our own family. When we find it, a new brilliant phase of our life opens 1945VJDayKissSmallup. Proper familial friendship is what allows humans to know what to look for in a mate, so that a new friendship can arise. This friendship is the fabric upon which families are crafted and society is woven. A society based on proper friendships, born out of ethics and expressed through art is a healthy positive and functional society. Augustine argues: The harmony that comes from friendship rests on order: “an arrangement of equal and unequal things which gives to each its proper place.”

The root cause of the degradation of modern society is the withering of the fabric of friendship. People who act with only their own best interests at heart destroy society. They damage each other and themselves at a fundamental level. Battle_of_New_OrleansThis destruction of the ideal of friendship is the chief cause of war, poverty, divorce, pain, suffering, etc in society. All of societies ills can be traced toward an all-devouring selfishness and a corruption of friendship which has poisoned society. This loss of friendship is what is leading us to our destruction.

If we are going to live in society; and let’s face it, there just isn’t enough land and resources to be complete hermits; then we must have some sort of relationship with people. The better this relationship functions on a sociological and personal level, dance2the off society is as a whole. The healthier society is, the more assured our individual survival. Art and philosophy are also essential to a healthy society. Ergo, Friendship, Art, and Philosophy are essential to our being and to our assured survival.

For more reading on Augustine’s Theories of Friendship: http://www41.homepage.villanova.edu/donald.burt/friendship/04.htm

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