We all at some point in our life when discussing religion or some aspect of belief, will be asked the trivial yet important question, “Do you believe in a God?”. To some the answer is “yes”, to others the answer is “no” and then there are those (especially igtheists), that question the meaning of the word, “God”, which they argue needs first to be defined before any enlisted answer can be provided. Generally to those who answer this question with a “yes”, they are presumed to have an active belief in that God and they are generally referred to as a “Theist” (an individual who holds a belief in a Deity); to those who answer with “No”, they are generally referred to as “Atheist” (an individual who are without a belief in a Deity or ‘lack a belief’ in one.). These are the only two positions when it comes to belief in a God, you either are actively believing in one (or many) making you a theist (or any branch attached to it) or you do not actively believe in a God, making you an atheist. Simple is it not? Yet some people, even academics, seem to be fine with theism but not atheism…why is that? Let’s find out shall we.
We are all born not believing in any notion particularly associated with a God/Gods; implicit atheism, is what we all are born with. We all are born with an absence of belief in a God/gods, this is the default state of belief for every child born into this world. Generally the notion of a God is introduced via cultural means; either one will learn it from parents, learn it in a religious studies class and so on. No matter where we learn the term it is still introduced from the culture we are born into, if not, another culture, but culture none-the-less. It is only when faced with the notion, that one can either accept it (with good merit and reason; as no one chooses to believe or not believe in anything, they are brought good reason as to either reject or accept the notion, this goes for the god notion as well) or reject it (with good merit or reason etc); however it should be noted that before the introduction of the notion, the default stance is non-belief i.e. atheism. When one rejects the notion of a God, with whatever reason or argument; they are enacting explicit atheism, which is the active rejection of belief in a God/gods (disbelief). Agnosticism (the epistemological position concerned with whether we can know a notion to exist or not) can be associated with atheism; as agnosticism concerns knowledge (a subset of belief) well atheism concerns belief itself. One may ask the question how this is possible, in which the reply can be that atheism rejects the belief in the notion of a God/gods, well agnosticism concerns itself on whether that notion of God/gods can be known at all to exist. Agnostics may wish to distance themselves away from atheists but the fact is this; if one actively believes in a God they are a theist (or any branch of theism) if one does not believe in a God, they are an atheist. There is no middle position when it comes to belief, either belief or non-belief, they cover all positions. Agnosticism is thus not mutually exclusive to atheism, rather it is compatible with atheism; as it concerns (and here it will be repeated) itself with whether we can know a God to exist at all, whereas atheism concerns itself with lack of belief in that notion, not on whether it exists or not.
“This is where the difference between ‘Agnostic’ and ‘Atheist’matters: Theism and Atheism deals with belief. Gnosticism and Agnosticism deals with knowledge. Gnostic think they KNOW the existence/nonexistence of a god, agnostics claim to not know. Theists and Atheists can be on either sides of that, were they believe or not believe in a god while also either claim to know or not know for certain if that belief is true. There are agnostic atheists, agnostic theists, gnostic atheists and gnostic theists.”-Fooly’s Mind
Positive atheism is where the problem resides, it is the explicit or strong conviction that a God/gods do not exist. This is what most anti-theists (or those actively who hold a disdain for religious beliefs.) hold when they refer to their atheism. Negative atheism includes all forms of irreligion or non-belief, from the absence of a belief in a God/gods and so on. Both positive and negative atheism are but two side to the same coin, they are both ways of defining non-belief or “atheism” (as already mentioned); they are both varying degrees of the same thing such as the case with hot water and warm water. The problem really resides around those who look from the outside into atheist thought, they may have the tendency to view it as a religion (which, if so makes them under a grievant misapprehension) by the way it may conduct itself in the world; it may be called “dogmatic” or by more ‘sower opponents’ as “dogmatic as religion”. Yet, let one dispense with the critics; to all those who do not believe in a God for whatever reason, you are an atheist. One can take this as a breach of one’s ‘personal beliefs or lack of’ but that is the fact. It is more common to see fellow atheists criticize atheism itself by the way many who hold to the title may act. Yet, many may hold to their non-belief as ‘a means to an end’ or may promote it, however the case it must be noted that atheism should only be considered a block of non-belief. It should not press issues, it should not be given so much attention as it has been given (this goes for theism to); it should not be even mentioned. Now this may seem strange given the previous words and advocation in the last couple sentences of this piece, but let me explain what I mean. Atheism, as already mentioned almost countless of times before, is simply “the lack of belief in a God/gods” that would be the end of it, yet so many individuals have labelled those who do not believe in their god as being ‘atheist’, this is why the word exists at all! And for this reason it is important that those who do hold onto the word must understand why it exists, and what it means now. What atheism means today is the stance against oppression; the stance of those willing to not be contempt in their thinking, it is the stance against those willing to die for their belief; for the word ‘atheist’ may be a ‘means to an end’ for some, to others it is simply another way of promoting defiance when needed and the stance against oppression (this is not an over-exaggeration of the word either, given its history, atheism has been on the receiving end of tremendous intolerance). Yet, It does not affect political beliefs (not by itself), what one does when he gets up in the morning, It is the starting block. Those who live their life as if there is no notion of a God existing are known as practical atheists or apatheists, and one can say that there are a great deal of practical atheists in both the non-religious and religious circles.
Nietzsche gives an important note on belief in God as “not being necessary any longer”; does one see those who believe in a God, when crossing the street, look both ways? Yes. It seems that everyone now in the modern age lives as if there is no God. Believers put on their seat belts, look both ways well crossing the road; they live their lives as if the belief in God is not necessary. Putting the cross on, on Sundays, and flipping it upside down on Mondays. the notion that is often promoted by believers is the façade “You need god to have meaning in your life” but what is the gross double standard they are setting? Atheism, is the underpin of all religions, no one actively believes in a God twenty fours a day, seven days a week, do they? Of course not! If one really had to do a study on the amount of “prefaced believers” in this world one could almost certainly say that the numbers of “real believers” would be “0”; as no one actively can believe in a notion every hour of every day.
New atheism, (a movement started from the post years of 9/11, popularly called a movement by the media) Is a movement set on the notion that; religious belief should be held to the same criticism as any other belief, and it should not be given respect just because of its own sake this means it must be laid to the same standard amount of scrutiny as any other subject. “The End of faith” and “Letters to a Christian nation” (2004) can be credited as the books that started the movement. This breed of atheism is a prolific atheism the kind at which wishes to dispense with religion. Yet, despite such vitriol by the religious to this “new” form of atheism, it must be noted, that if the religious think their views are untouchable and thus cannot be scrutinized; then let it be said that such “privileged delusion” needs to be quelled effective immediately. New atheism does not attack the belief in God per-seas, then it attacks what the belief in God does to individuals; atheists who are a part of this movement do not care what the individual believes in, they care about what the individual does with that belief. This is why the aim in recent times has been for social justice and equality, to replace organized belief that demands it cannot be criticized, with practical humanism. To dispense with the notion, that you need a God to find meaning and happiness, that the universe can only have come from a deity and morality could only be dispensed by a deity; is to dispense with the final hook that holds man in his infancy. The modern atheist movement seeks to show that individuals can indeed be good without God, find meaning in their lives, and gain a greater understanding of the world through enquiry. New atheism brings with it, not just atheism, but secularism, humanism, liberalism, gender equality and the slogan “Good without God”. They argue that “Religion and the belief in the supernatural have crippled society, crippled the need for enquiry and scepticism, resulting in the overall denigration of progress among humanity and thus must be made rid of as soon as necessarily possible.” Religion as it stands has morphed into a form of practical humanism, and any good that the religious hold, is in fact a goodness of humanism and the two are not to be confused with one another. Science and healthy scepticism is overall better than an impermeable faith in a God, this in a sense, can be summed up as the movement’s main aim; which is to push the need for religion out of society.
What is the point of a belief in God, when individuals who preface such a belief as being the “be-all-to-end-all”, are not even acting as if there is a God in their daily life? This incipient need to believe in that which, at the end of the day, does nothing overall to affect one’s character; is useless. If one harbours any form of belief or disbelief for not any good particular reason or any particular justification, it can be said that such individuals have no reason to be who they proclaim they are. Those who wish to keep their belief for the sake of security and moral fulfilment, need to realise that they are holding onto to the notion of a God for the sake of psychological need, and not because of whether it is true or not. Belief in anything is acquired through substantial evidence to prove and good reason to accept that evidence’s notion, non-belief comes as a default from not finding that evidence substantial and zero reason to believe in the notion. This is with all claims, we believe because we have substantial evidence to provide good reason, which is the standard ‘evidence’. Without evidence in the form of justification to believe in any notion that departs from justification, no matter sincere, is done so for stupid reasons. No amount of belief in the prospect of any notion makes that notion so. Every adult and child has to come to this realisation that you only believe in something because of justification and good reason, and you stop believing in something when the notion or belief departs from that. This is why non-belief will always be the default when it comes to notions like God(s), anyone who says otherwise has no idea what he or her are talking about. No one chose to not believe in anything, as they did to believe in something, they were given good reason to believe, and zero reason not to believe, it was not an active “oh I’ll decide not to believe” or ‘I’ll start to believe” are brains do not work like that, and it is naïve to think they do.
Every individual expressing their belief in any form of matter will need to know this when talking to an atheist of any sort unless to foolishly lump an atheist into a camp or an ideology he/she is not a part of. Though criticism (valid ones) have been made by people like Sam Harris, who say non-belief should not be given a label, just like not believing in Zeus should not be given the label “A-zuesist”. Valid criticisms like these do highlight the point that labels do carry baggage, sometimes unwanted baggage. For example, when theists use the argument that atheists are immoral because Stalin was an atheist, and he killed in the name of no God. Though this argument (if it can be called that and not a grievance whine) is not true, Stalin was indeed an atheist, but he had other motivations for doing the things he did that are too multiple to mention here. This goes for both atheist and theist a like who make claims that certain “bad guys” in history killed because of their faith or lack of it, must remember that there are a lot of facts that go into each event and each context, that it has become naïve to try use the Crusades to lump the evils of Christianity, or communism to lump the evils of atheism and so on. Ladies and gentlemen from across the aisle, hear me when I say that the only way we are going to unite, is if we dispense with belief being a dividing block on issues (this may be hypocritical given the amount of things that I write against “organized religion”, but that can be justified as I am against social injustice perpetrated by theocratic fascists) we should try to help one another and care for the merit of arguments alone, and not on whether they are uttered by a believer or a non-believer. We should love all despite what they believe, and only hold them accountable for their actions. This is why one has to say that humanism is the greatest uniter of both non-believer and believer, and that is what we should all aim for, a state by which we can obtain some form of unity based on humanism.
Knowledge is Power
Written By: Anthony Avice Du Buisson
When the word “fascist” is uttered in any setting involving more than one conflicting body; it most likely will be used out of its proper discourse, by those who lack an understanding of its definition. The word is tossed around in naive-socialist circles like a hot-potato, almost to the extent at which if a differing of opinion were to be made against the norm, if expressed by an individual, may immediately condemn them to being called it by all those (who by chance) do not like what they have to express. This failure to understand words and their proper usage is to blame for this nativity, so what can be more fitting then explaining the word and the thought that surrounds it?
To start off lets define terms. Fascism is a system of government characterized by dictatorship; the word originates in ancient Rome from the word “fasces” which is a pile of sticks used by legionaries and subsequent soldiers of the Roman Empire during long tracks and marches across Europe and the Mediterranean. It was later to be used as a symbol for the 20th century, used by Benito Mussolini’s fascist party who used the fasces symbol to represent their political ideological movement in Italy during the late 1910’s. Fascism as mentioned already has a major characteristic and that is dictatorship, to understand this term we need to look back to the Ancient Romans who coined the term. During the early parts of the 5th century B.C.E Rome became a republic after having three hundred years of monarchy rule; the Roman kingdom was overthrown and started expanding to the rest of the Italian and Mediterranean peninsulas. The senate on behalf of the people ruled Rome expanding its land grab from the small city states to the large Mediterranean. During the republic’s expanse into the Mediterranean and Europe, governors mostly generals and senate approved leaders, would hold territories on behalf of the senate by which the senate would legislate orders to the governors on how to run the territory and so on. However territories captured by warring nations or barbaric states, would often play victim to unrest and tragedy, this unrest and tragedy would interrupt progression and endanger the republic autonomy; causing great economic and military problems for the republic. The solution to these problems had to do with retaining control of the populace of the territory; the only way this could be done was through authoritarian state rule which was given to by the senate on behalf of the republic temporarily to the most competent leader in the republic, to retain order by any means necessary. The ordinary magistrate of the senate had legal means to and guides to attain the republic’s states, but during the first Punic war in the 3rd century B.C.E, by which saw the establishment of the extraordinary magistrate (officially called “magister populi”-master of the people). The status passed by the senate to the general allowed him to rule by decree or “dictatorate” (shortened later to “dictator”). This leader was assigned a committee who were solely under the generals command (committee of “magister equiem”-master of the horse) this oligarchy helped the dictator retain control of the state after the warring parties had been quelled. This dictatorate lasted for a couple months just until order was restored before it would be relinquished. Gaius Julius Ceaser was the first “Dictator for life” in the 1st century B.C.E after the collapse and scattering of the republic, ceaser retained the status and enhanced it to a year. He used military might to maintain his rule collapsing the republic into an empire, ruled under History’s first totalitarian state. The classical dictatorship came before the neo dictatorship, to differentiate between the two; classical refers to the original purpose of the roman dictatorship which was to retain order on behalf of the general well-being of the state, by which the subsequent rule would be relinquished after a temporary time, the main characteristics of this type of dictatorship is authoritarianism. Neo (new age) dictatorship refers to Ceaser’s model of dictatorship and the subsequent models of dictatorship based on it; by which the purpose is to benefit the dictator’s interests for however long the dictator remains in power, the major characteristics of this type of dictatorship is totalitarianism.
Authoritarianism is in essence dictatorship with a leash; the power is limited in their actions to totally control the state and the people within the state, thus limiting them to the marginalisation of power. Totalitarianism is different as it is dictatorship of the leash, total tyrannical rule can be applied by the state power on the people of the state, the methods are endless and they last as long as the power lasts. A huge understanding in the evolution of neo dictatorship is the change in how these states who vestige a totalitarian state, control their populations. Let us take one case as an example of totalitarianism, say Nazi Germany. National Socialism is the combination of German patriotism and fascist leadership, an ideology created by Adolf Hitler that saw the blend in ideology and government being first truly utilised. To understand this dynamic evolution of neo-dictatorship from the solely relying on militarism and imperialism, to neo-dictatorship running on tyranny and ideology; it must be highlighted the important differences of neo-dictatorship of Cesar’s day and Neo-dictatorship of Hitler’s day. Ceser’s day militarism was the major security of power for rule, Cesars vast armies kept him secure (external protection) from his neighbours however this did not prevent internal conspiracies being expressed against him, this particularly is major flaw as with a totalitarian state to truly maintain total control it must maintain it both internally and externally. Hitler’s Germany was internally secured via two aspects, Ideology and intimidation; by keeping the blast of propaganda and ideological fear, Hitler’s Germany could be maintained internally. When ideology is injected into neo-dictatorships, that is, when they take a new form, instead of becoming entirely hollow states, they start acquiring life. It truly is a bone tingling sensation to witness the birth of life in these states, as their tyrants increase in power frenzy can be seen growing amongst the maintenance of the state, when the form of rule starts becoming more and more an entity of it rather than the robotic systematic government it had been to start off with. In 1944 upon the inevitable defeat of National Socialism, Joseph Goebbels the propaganda minister for the Reich made one of the most chilling speeches ever produced. Called “Total War”, the power of twenty years of propaganda administered by the state was put into overdrive in a speech that expressed the ultimate need for the civilian to serve his country in order to feel that he has contributed to the state. This frenzy created solely from ideological indoctrination, fear and intimidation, all of which would become cultivated in creating an internal state by which the neo-dic tatorship could survive, was the nature of National socialist dictatorships. The very essence of Nazism cries out totalitarianism as it combines total power and tyranny to maintain the selected interest of the dictator or ruler of the state for any given amount of time, whereas in authoritarian states the powers that be are prohibited in their liberty to dispense with law and order the way they want, keeping vestige interests in not only their own needs but in the power’s means as well.
This is why fascism in the sense of Benito Mussolini’s Italian fascist party was authoritarian in nature, that is to say an oligarchy gave Mussolini limited power, that during the Second World War when breached meant his immediate removal by the oligarchy at which he had been maintained by. Quasi dictatorships who look back to the classical dictatorships, this being of course the running of the old roman empire by senate elected dictators, will be states such as aforementioned already Italy during fascist rule, and Spain during the rule of Francisco Franco that can be seen to have incorporated elements of authoritarianism and totalitarianism to the extent at which both parties could have domain and power but they were always limited by either internal conflicting bodies or external ones that would prohibit the expansion and consolidation of power that would prohibit neo-dictatorships well at the same time allowing time to freely be maintained (neo dictatorship and classical dictatorship); the synthesis of authoritarianism and totalitarianism. Another example of totalitarian neo dictatorship is the communist regime, like the Nazi regime the communist regime ran on a system of systematic maintenance pushed by fear and ideology. Through indoctrination of the populace to be more subservient and willing to die for the state, communism under Stalin could be utilised to have had total control as the dictator maintained power to the extent that the power itself could not be removed easily, and the willingness of the people to love what they fear (sadomasochism) became more apparent. It is the nature of totalitarian states such as Nazism, communism and to a lesser extent orwellianism (George Orwell’s ,1984; big brother state, by which the full utilisation of propaganda, fear and intimidation sought in advancing the nature of a neo-dictatorship to the extent by which it becomes nature to be under a totalitarian power) that there forms see vestige interest in utilising power for as long as possible, and when so ever should the power be removed its ultimate goal is to kill the state itself well undergoing its own annihilation.
Victims, who live under states like these, can be subjected to years of propaganda, skewing their view of the world. If you ever wish to see the power of indoctrination just look at the surviving Hitler Youth today, most of them went through an undoctrination after they were captured by western forces. However they still hold great sympathy for the years of service under the regime of Nazism, this is the power of totalitarianism with ideology; it can make its population entirely subservient and entirely willing to die for the regime!
As the decades went on and the ever increasing destruction of totalitarian states increased, fascism especially the blurring of totalitarianism in pop culture and culture in general became more apparent. Dystopian classics such as George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “a brave new world”, captured society’s imagination and paranoia by showing the possible potential of totalitarianism if left unchecked. In most of these types of novels the importance of liberty and freedom of the individual was always highlighted as a means to inject strength into the paranoid individuals. The only means by which such power and total control is stopped, is by the constant awareness of the people of the state about the nature of their government. If the people do not regulate the duties of their government the process of neo-dictatorship become ever more apparent. When authoritarianism is allowed to take hold, if left by the people for far too long it will grow in totalitarianism, this is why the duty of the people is always to be aware of the growing concern its government wishes to have in the individual’s life and the limiting of liberties of that individual to a fake sense of security. That is the only way totalitarianism can be avoided by the people, is the unanimous will to step in the line of fire and protect the fundamental liberties of the state’s populace. The seeds of totalitarianism are found in places at which hierarchy and a top to bottom system is utilised, this is why religions are innately totalitarian as they vestige interest in the God’s needs and the representative of the Gods to maintain a false sense of security. Theocracies are dictatorships run by religions (if one were to play the technical semantic game the correct term to use for a group of religious bodies controlling a government is a “ecclesiocracy” but for all intended uses “theocracy” is made also mentioned), showing the true nature of such groups to maintain totalitarian elements of control. When theocracies such as Iran and Saudi Arabia are mentioned, one cannot help but think of the public hanging and execution of all those willing to disobey the regime’s holy text (the hanging of homosexuals is a grizzly example). It is because of this that states have a duty to limit all religions from gaining any mention in government, because the very nature of all religions especially mono-theistic, are totalitarian by nature.
Fascism has been morphed however by socialist groups over the years to the status of an insult, this blending and redefining of terms is a potential danger, as in order to attain what the word means. It must be utilised as such to the extent it accurately represents what it is needed to represent, this is why insults with the word “fascist” always seek (in the eyes of those enlightened) to add disappointment. Remembering what has been discussed always seek to hold a better understanding of words as to not lose the intention of those words.
Knowledge is power
Written By: Anthony Avice Du Buisson
Most likely you are reading this sentence in the 21st century with some form of technological device, be it a mobile phone, computer, mac, tablet etc. The device you use has been acquired through the years, through means of trial and error, as well as innovation on the part of the designated inventor; coming up through experimentation, new technology and new ways of using that technology. It can be said with no shadow of a doubt that the person who has been responsible for the invention of the gadget you use, had to have been progressive in thought. Now what does one mean when he says “progressive in thought”? What is meant by that is, for anything new or innovating to come about you need to have an open mind and a will to be able to change and adapt your ideas into new ones. That is how progress works; Individuals pursuing their separate interests and changing their ideas when they find new ways of adapting them. Every single inventor does this; he takes concepts of the old and adapts it to the new. What would happen if inventors and innovators didn’t adapt to the change and progression of time? Then what? Well, dear reader, let us just say you wouldn’t be reading this now…would you?
It is imperative for change to take place; it just needs to happen in order for us to reach new and better ways at accomplishing things. Fundamentalism, the immovable notion that you are to remain true and undying to original ideas and not be susceptible to change or adaptation is a genuine threat to humanity. The threat of fundamentalist minds ever opposed to change, taking away the means for others to progress in view of retelling old ideas without sway to new ones. It’s insane! Fundamental ideas are retold to newer generations; no progression, no interest in adaptation to the world around. Such ideas become delusions to outsiders but perfectly normal to insiders. The notion that the earth is the center of the universe, and all those who believe in that notion, are deluding themselves by denying the reality of what modern science has shown to be accurate. Those who still hold onto notions that somehow their existence is the “be all to end all”; are deluding themselves in a false ideology that has serious implications on their livelihood and on the possible future of the children they will teach this idea to. Fundamentalist theology is the biggest proponent for ignorance in the modern world, a naive view of the world that puts the subject viewing it as the centre of all things. Whether it be Christian, Islamic, Judea or any form of rigid orthodoxy that is opposed to scientific advances, and thus opposed to change; we can call such opposition fundamentalist in nature, and it is a direct threat to humanity’s progression in the modern era. Fundamentalism in religious sense holds to orthodoxy, it is very opposed to change or revision, or any other sort of notion on those lines; as a result most fundamentalist religious individuals will oppose scientific findings, refuse to teach their children these findings, and will hide behind the clause of “freedom of religion”. Now what does one mean when he says “Fundamentalist ideas”, what that means, is all ideas opposed to reality (notions, of creationism, virgin births, etc.) all notions that seek to enlist views that are outside that which can be justified rationally. One may say, “Is that not a “fundamentalist idea in itself?” The retort would be, “Science is ever changing and revising itself to reach objective standards that are in accordance to what reality shows to be so, and for this notion to be considered fundamentalist it would not be susceptible to change, which it is; and thus it is not fundamentalist in nature”
However there is an even greater danger in our modern day society, with the death of religious traditionalism and the rise of secularism, there is but one thing left for fundamentalists to do. Become fanatical. When fundamentalists become fanatical, this is where the real danger starts to happen. The Islamic terrorists who flew Boing 747’s into the twin towers on September 11th 2001, were fanatics hell bent on starting war on the “Infidels”, by following the Quran; their leader Osama Bin Laden, sought to establish an Islamic empire and defeat the “Judea and Samaritan Zionists”, this ideology we call today is known as “Bin ladenism”. And it is fundamental fanaticism like this that leads to devastating consequences. In Islamic nations under sharia law, women are denied the right to learn and be educated, property of their husbands; this kind of religious zealously and fanaticism is but on example of the dangerous of religious fundamentalism and fanaticism. Yet, this is not the fundamentalism I’m sure most of you reading this may be exposed to in your daily life, how about that of Christian fundamentalism.
Creationism VS Evolution, pseudo-science vs science; since the time of Darwin most of Europe and most of literate scientific nations have taken on board the scientific theory of natural selection. Yet in the USA, (the largest economic nation besides china) a campaign pronged by the far fundamentalist Christian right has been opposing evolution, in favour of creationism. Answers in Genesis, and other such pseudo-science websites and advocacy groups have (since 2001) running campaigns to get evolution out of the science classroom in favour of religious ideology. This has sparked prominent figures such as Richard Dawkins and the rest of the scientific community have leaded a counter-attack against this wave of fundamentalism. Yet it does not end there, in most western nations and in most secular nations across the globe religious fundamentalism is protected by the constitution with the “Freedom of religious worship and practise” and such acts being embedded in the fabric of secular constitutions. Now this is no problem at all, however most religious fundamentalists will teach their children their fanatical ideas; and that is the real problem. The scientific departments across the globe have to deal with these fundamentalists in later years, who will repeat the ideological furrier. Now it would be fine if these individuals weren’t the ones effecting public policy; for instance human rights such as abortion and homosexual relations, are opposed to by mostly if not entirely right wing and religious bodies. Christian fundamentalists will sight their bible when it comes to such issues of human rights. Calling it “unnatural, wrong”, such hateful (and I do stress hateful) language that does effect the youth and those struggling with love.
Let it be said and repeated, that those who so chose to love their partner (whether it be of the same sex or a different sex), are entitled to the liberty to love and marry freely; entitled to express their love openly without the vitriol of religious zealots or the bigotry of right wing fundamentalists. This liberty is not exclusive to those in homosexual relations, but to all relations; let it be protested that he who should ever make their decree on the basis of a religious text, on the basis of a bigoted text. Should be scoffed, mocked and protested against, if not for the liberty of love but for the future of the next generation and the future of humanity. Let it be said that those who are religious and progressive, this charge is not directed at you, but to those along the same cloth who fundamentally willingly opposed to human rights, education and the future of humanity; this charge is lead against you, on behalf of progressive humanity. Fundamentalism and fanaticism are the poisons that corrupt progressive societies, and if should one protest to say that “this here sentiment is fundamentalist in nature”, let it be said yet again that “this sentiment is lead in progressive manner and is forever changing; adapting and evolving to the benefit of humanity and its understandings of the cosmos.” Terrorists, who seek to establish their fanatical doctrines on free people of the world, should remember that where there is just one ounce of human spirit, there will always be those willing to stand up and fight against such wickedness and indecency; not just for themselves but for their fellow man. Those who beat and those who shout others down on the basis of what their ideology or their text dictate to them, are the real danger to humanity; the real threat to humanity is not weapons of mass destruction but those willing to use them, the fundamentalists and fanatics willing to do anything to see their ideology the only one and all others destroyed are the real danger. Parents willing to deny their children liberty, will see themselves the contributors of the destruction of free-society, those who deny others liberty will see themselves criminals to free-society. Let it be said one last time, that for change to occur there must be freedom of thought, freedom of expression, the right to education, the right to free worship (lest of course it does not impact the moderation of others or their liberties), the right to love…these are to be protected, promoted, with the ever progressiveness of society for the better.
Knowledge is Power
Written By: Anthony Avice Du Buisson
To understand socialism you must grasp two concepts, organization and community. Socialism relies on the principles that society runs on the basis of corporation amongst individuals for their beneficial survival and flourishing. Societies that are successful rely on the principles of organization and community, to the extent that benefits the collective of society. It is thus in this light that we can define socialism as a universal set of ideas that focuses on societal structuring and how humans work together to maintain order amongst themselves; from liberal democracies to totalitarian states. Socialism or the “social ideals” they run upon such as community and organization; are either used fully (liberal democracies, with emphasis on socialist liberties eg Scandinavian countries emphasise universal education and healthcare), or marginally (totalitarian societies run on the principles of the oligarchy running the collective, but when we take the principles mentioned such as organization and community, we can see these societies that dictators are a part of. Utilise organization, and reduce community sharing to a select few i.e. the dictators or oligarchy. Who use means by which to benefit themselves but not the rest of the community). None the less, any societal philosophy or political philosophy that utilises principles of organization and community, are utilising socialist ideals.
Marxism is a form of economic and political philosophy, that utilises socialist ideals of organization and community with economic principles of the control means of production and wealth. Marxism is a theory first proposed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1848 with the book “Communist manifesto”, both these German philosophers wrote this book in response to the industrial revolution that was sweeping across Europe in the early 19th century; the theory goes on the lines as follows…
“Throughout history the state has been the device for deception and manipulation among the masses from a dominant class; class struggle has been the central agent for change in history. The capitalist system has planted the first seeds of its own decay, as the bourgeoisie (middle class capitalists) struggle for dominance over the proletariats (working class); that will inevitably end with the proletariat’s dominance of the state, until it will be superseded by a socialist order and classless society i.e. a socialist utopia or a ‘communist state’”
This theory takes a ‘socialist commentary’ of the then current industrial revolution of the 19th century with the rise of capitalist free economy and the means of production being shifted from the worker (proletariat) to the industrial entrepreneur (bourgeoisie). Marx and Engels predicted that if this change went on that the current industrial state would go through a revolution by which the workers would get to the stage of utter anger and take back control of the means of production and wealth and give it to the hands of the people. In theory it would then follow that class would then dissolve leaving a free and more equal society, as socialist theorists viewed society in terms of being a machine that could be tuned in a certain way to produce a certain outcome. Marx had intentionally planned for this change to be undergone in industrial countries such as Germany, France and so on. Another more popular view of Marxist theory is its view on history; Marx describes the progression of change as follows…
“Hunter gatherers-Feudalism-Capitalism- Imperialism- Socialism-Communism”.
The use of the term socialism in this case refers to the economic ideal of socialism where the collective have the power of the means of production and wealth that are then shared equally.
Leninism is a theory that puts Marxism in practise in an agricultural environment. Vladimir Lenin utilised Marxist theory and applied it to a Russian setting, which setting was very different from industrialised capitalist Europe as Russia was still a feudalist society that was run by an absolute monarchy. The tsarian Government had an inclusive economic policy that was very paranoid of western development and change thus the government as a result, never had modern equipment for agricultural farming and still relied on serfdom for economic sustainability; the proletariats (workers and lower classes) made up the majority of Russian society and provided most of the wealth and production to the aristocracy who made up 3% of the country. This feudalistic society was not fit for the kind of Marxism Marx had intended, he and Engels wished to see Marxism put into practise in western nations like Germany, England and so on. Vladimir Lenin upon the start of the 20th century formed after being imprisoned due to social activism, the Social democrats who had a policy that sought to apply Marxism to Russia.
Leninism focuses on changing the setting of natural revolution in industrial capitalist societies, to a form of organised educated revolution that was managed and forced by a party that utilised the proletariats for the means of establishing a dictatorship for them. Lenin called this vanguard party the “communist party” and he sought to utilise the working class, through education and political consciousness to create revolution. How this came into practise was with the overthrow of the tsarian government by the army and the proletariat who in April of 1917 over through the government after protests over the war and food shortages which forced the Tsar Nicholas 2nd and his family into exile and established a provisional government which would be run by the people through democratic means. In April of that year, Lenin produced his April thesis which sought to capture the “April revolution” and use it as a means to rid the capitalist era of Russia and create a communist state by which the means of production and distribution would be in charge by the state. In October of that year the Bolsheviks through the help of the established red army led by “Leon Trotsky”, took advantage of the provisional government’s debacle with the army and took over the government. Leninism is Marxism put in practise.
Out of Leninism we have two lines of thought, they both come from the arms race between Trotsky and Stalin, they are Trotskyism and Stalinism, two different approaches to Leninism. Trotskyism can be defined as “permanent revolution”, where by which aims to use the proletariat classes in capitalist countries to have socialist revolutions that continuously spread in the hopes of proletariat internationalism which means “Global worker revolution”, it seeks to have a global world that is run by the socialists. The second is Stalinism; its aims were to create controlled revolution with aggressive industrialization, censorship of the mass opposing views, one man government dictatorship and aggressive international policy that focused on spreading communism under the control of the individual. Modern day communism is associated with Stalinism, for its aggressive tact on censorship, dictatorship and industrialization. Stalin sought to make a more ideological view of Leninism which would evolve Marxism to its pinnacle; however instead of socialist utopia he established totalitarianism.
Other nations such as china utilised collectivization, which is a form of communism to utilise the workers belonging to the state. Stalinism is the modern day usage in reference to communism as it is the most popular concept when people think about communism or socialism. There are still Marxist thinkers, except they do not associate themselves with communism or the communist movement. These are but the general understandings of communism, stalinism, leninism, trotskyism, marxism and socialism; what has been explained is brief summations in the hope of giving individuals a broad understanding and ability to differentiate between them in case of wider discussion.
Written By: Anthony Avice Du Buisson
Society that devotes itself to the benefit of itself without the benefit to superficial sources, such as man made Gods and other such delusions of grandeur. Are generally considered to be secular. as secularism deplores religiosity and instigates, that one should hold indifference towards religion, and not promote any mandate of theocracy and religiosity on the people within society. Secularism is the separation of religious organizations from state or governmental institutions, it is the principal by which no government should run on the basis of religious dogmas or texts, and instead should run on an indifferent scale towards religion; not dealing with the sole bias of a single religion. Secularism works on the basis of ideas such as socialism, libertarianism and egalitarianism. Secular societies generally run on constitutions that have democratic leanings; such leanings give the individual the right of choice, and the liberty of ideals. such ideals include; freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of choice, freedom of press etc. These ideals are called “liberties” as they are rights the people are privileged to have that do their best to work among society.
Humanism is closely related to secular thinking, as it denotes the value and emphasis of human interactions within the natural world. The idea of humanism ethically goes that reason and scientific inquiry within the natural plain of existence are more prevalent and more important then a belief of God or superficial sources. Purpose or value comes from the interaction between our species and the consideration of the world around us. Humanistic thinking takes the position that theology and anything to do with God or any form of grandeur is not necessary. To put into perspective here are a couple words on humanism that have been prepared.
“Every single interaction you have, say its with your mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, nephew, niece, granddad, grandma, son, daughter etc. Whether it be a shake of the hand, a kiss of the cheek, a conversation with loved ones, a last goodbye to an old friend. Those are the interactions that matter. Humans are a social species, that may appear at times to promote devastation and hatred towards one another; who hurt and may kill one another. who may lie, cheat, steal, ridicule or despise one another. These interactions regardless of whether they are good or bad, are actions we commit, and that we are responsible. We are responsible for the hate we show to one another, but we are also responsible for the love that we show to one another. Humanity, our species and the world we inhabit. This is us, and we are here, and whatever meaning we derive comes from this world we inhabit.
There is no one to shift the blame to, no one to point the finger for destruction and chaos; if it starts with us, it can end with us. we are responsible for everything we do! So many wish to throw burdens of guilt and responsibility to superficial sources in the hopes to forget their guilt, but realize this we are all responsible for things we do. We are responsible for the lives we lead, the smiles we make, the tears we cry. It is us…it is we, who make the discoveries known, it is us who end wars, it is us who cure diseases of our own making. We are the ones who build bridges of determination and ample them with the supports of visions and good wishes, it is us who clime the mountains. we are the ones who make meaning in our own lives, we are the ones who express love and hatred, laughter and tears. It is all us!
Altruism and doing good for goodness sake coupled with empathy are the means by which we show feeling towards one another, the emotions we emulate are understandings between ourselves and each other. Reason, which implore intuition and deduction allow us to reason the world we see and distinguish from what we see as a “good” act to what we deem a “bad” one. Just few of the principals by which we live. The call to a superficial God, is a call to childishness, a call to insecurity. We created the Gods in our image, and we painted them to resemble us and our selfish virtues. As people living in the now, with the world of billions, we have to start acting sensible towards one another for this is the life we lead. Scientific inquiry and seeking answers to questions about this world, implore us to go up and beyond our ability. To awe at the majesty of the universe we inhabit and evermore move forward over the cosmic event horizon and step into the unknown. For the sheer fact we can.
we are just one in millions of species on this planet, and though we should take priority to ourselves, we should also care about the world around us and the creatures that inhabit it. To be a humanist is to take on responsibility for your own mistakes, to be a humanist means to be a helper of your fellow man, as well as fellow beast; if they require help. These things are things of beauty that we can lay claim to, we don’t need a superficial delusion to create meaning in the life we bring meaning to. ”
Secular-humanism, puts society and the planet into perspective. To be a secular humanist, you just got to realize your potential and the potential around you. Not seeking the above magistrate that we at times wish to throw the blame and devote the love to. what you got to realize is the people around you need help, and that help comes from what you do, what you say. There’s a lot of people out there who don’t feel nice or fine, who have it tough and are wasting their lives on cons. As a Secular humanist, a naturalist, an individual living now, the greatest value I get is from interaction with people and the things I do. Taking full responsibility for my wrongs, and taking full ownership of my rights, for living life depends on what you do in the now. this life, this existence is the only thing we have, this is the point all secular humanists stress. You have one life, live it right, don’t live it ignorant of others, live it acknowledging your responsibility and your triumphs.
Seize the day
Not just for yourself, but those around you.
Written By: Anthony Avice Du Buisson
It should not be any surprise that people can inspire people, in the pursuit of a better understanding of the world. That is why everyone should be able to teach the person next to him or her, something that they do not know. For ideas are meant to be spread, such as a wild fire, across the forest of potential. This the reason that one should devote themselves to that process, devote themselves to the spread of enlightenment, and to give people the realization that you are never to young or old to dream big. You are never to young or old, to give something to the world.
As people, we should all be teachers and educators, not in profession, but in society. Teaching those around us about ideas, concepts, philosophies, they yet have to realize. To combat ignorance, and grow knowledge. It is the desires of the Greeks before us, and should be our desire not just to grow in brain power, but in human interaction. And better ourselves to a more “progressive reality”; never being apathetic to poor living standards, and never witnesses to injustice and intolerance.
Knowledge thus in that sense, is truly powerful.
Written By: Anthony Avice Du Buisson
Generally what we deem “natural” is what we have understood in the world around us; from laws, to objects, organisms etc. Anything we find out to be a product of this world, whether it be by human hands, or by nature; is deemed in the “natural plain” (or realm) of existence. Hence Naturalism is the idea that this plain of existence has rules and laws by which it run, and that there is nothing outside this plain of existence by the sheer fact that if something does exist outside of our understanding of this realm, and we find out what it is, it becomes something “natural” as we have observed it in nature. Thus Naturalism, is an ever growing understanding of the world around us, and how it works.
Naturalism encompasses two aspects, Natural philosophy (science) and methodological naturalism (scientific method). These terms are not mutually exclusive as one operates with the other. Generally Science is man’s way of understanding the world around him; by positing ideas and forming hypothesis based on those ideas, then following out that hypothesis with experimentation. Allowing for evidence to be analysed and falsified before finally being concluded upon, based on where the evidence leads and what simple conclusions can be met (Occam’s Razor) from the experimentations. The element of demonstration and discussion is also a key part of the scientific method, for if it is a theory that weighs in the natural plain of existence it must be established in a way that can be related to that plain it is discussing (i.e give proof for your knowledge base idea).This method is also self-correcting, hence the falsification bit that was mentioned. Claims that aren’t falsifiable are not good explanations.
Now there has been much discussion on what then is to be deemed “Un-natural” or “super-natural”. Now there are a couple of problems firstly with these terms. What we consider to be natural is within our understanding of the plain of existence we in-habit. If we find laws by which we have not yet come across, we shall establish those laws as laws, and thus (as you can see) those”un-natural” laws, become “Natural” laws. Anything outside our understanding is often coined as being “un-natural” or in some aspects “super-natural”, however one has to point out that these terms are flawed by means that, if we find out about something; most likely we will establish it as being in the realm of existence i.e the “natural realm”.
The multi-verse and other such theories, posit multiple universes, that may operate on different physical and epistemic rules and laws. One could ask “Wouldn’t any universe, who’s laws are different to our own; be considered ‘not-natural’?” well you see the dilemma in that question. Here is an analogy that explains this sort of thinking. You have a Jewellery box, in it you have various sized boxes; each with its own content. The various smaller boxes represent different universes, with different laws. They all exist in the Larger Jewelry box, and that is what we consider to be natural. You see that discussion happens about what is deemed “un-natural” and “natural”, yet one must realize that what we don’t know is not “un-natural” for when we discover it, it is added in the list of what is natural or what can come about by means of natural laws.
This is why meta-physical claims, such as God and fairies, that posit super-natural explanations can not be falsified and thus are wrong. As they posit different realms that, if existed, would be encompassed in a larger realm that we would call natural. As anything we don’t know, that we find out, we add as something nature posits and creates; if intelligent beings existed outside the realm of space and time, they don’t exist to us. You see, meta-physical claims are flawed by the outset, and are un-scientific, and rely on a premise that is un-falsifiable.
This is why when one calls himself a “naturalist” at times they do not even realize what nature, or what the definition of a “naturalist” is. If you believe this realm of existence is the only existence, and you keep in mind what we discover will increase that plain of existence, then you are a naturalist. One would go a step further and state that all people are naturalists, by the sheer fact that if they believe in the “super-natural” they must realize that the term they are using is in sight of a lack of understanding of a possible realm within our existence, that if discovered, would become something “natural”, even though it was already natural to begin with. By this logic, it can be safely said, that the only realm of existence is the “natural realm”, and anything we do not understand is still “natural” as it occurs within our plain of existence; and when we find out about that thing which we do not understand, it becomes Natural.
Written By: Anthony Avice Du Buisson
Mortality – whether or not we wish to admit it – is the condition that we are born into; one is born with a limited amount of time to indulge in existence before they are finally, and violently, thrown out of it. This may scare some of us, existence being a temporary thing, but it should not deter us from at least enjoying the experience of it. One cannot do anything about their mortal state – and as a result one should instead live out it to its natural end. Yet, with this fact of our own mortality there are still those who persist that there will be a next life; and who thus live out there life in the hopes of reaching it. Journalist and polemicist, Christopher Hitchens, put it plainly:
You are expelled from your mother’s uterus, as if shot from a cannon towards a barn door studded with old nail files and rusty hooks. It’s a matter of how you use up the intervening time in an intelligent and ironic way… [sic]
Death is the end, it is the figurative “barn door”, and how one chooses to live it is entirely up to them. This brings me to the nature of this letter, and the question I wish to address. It is the question of mortality vs immortality, and whether or not one is willing to consider if immortality is worthy a desire: would you want to live forever? You see, it is easy to give a simple answer with little thought and little dedicated time, but it is another matter to give a full answer with detail. Immortality is most desirable to humanity; the ability to forsake the chains of nature’s justice and escape death, is one which tempts us. It is for this reason that one wishes to dispense with the idea, and argue why immortality is not, as it is portrayed, a good desire to have.
Taken at a second glance and with a more scrupulous analysis, one can see why such an offer would be more harmful than good. Consider this: You have all the time in the world to do anything, how much effort do you exert on the things you do, given that you have all the time to do those activities you so desire? I could imagine the effort would not be as strenuous, given the fact that the time pressure that births the best of works is virtually absent; one of the largest incentives for completing a task becomes non-existent with immortality. Here we see is the first problem, the first “Red flag’” in this offer of immortality, there is no time limit or effort put upon the individual. Care and effort arises from the constraints of time; when there is a limit (in regards to ‘time’ being that limit), we will act accordingly – exerting as much care and effort as possible in completing the most trivial of tasks. The one who chooses immortality has no need to complete a task, for they can come back to it whenever they so choose to do so; why bother doing the task? However, one sees a bigger issue, one at which may be more relevant than the last. The ultimate consequence of immortality is that one’s life becomes Meaningless; nihilistic in nature. One will get to this a little later.
As mortals we know instinctively that what we do has an end to it; and thus, as if a slap to the face, it gives us a reality check at which to gather our intentions and move hastily towards a resolve of the occurrence we are faced. More time needs to go into each activity, and each activity has a unique individual attribute as morals derive meaning from these activities. Immortality takes away the unique individualism in those activities, and draws them to a simple one liner: “what’s next?” To emphasise this let me pose you an example:
Imagine if you will two distinctively different children. One is named Socrates Ballister, and the other is named Alice Locke. Both are given the exact same task, namely that of building a structure out of matchsticks. Socrates is given a limited time of 1 hour to complete the task, well Alison is not given a time; she is given the freedom to do other things. Imagine the state of Alice, how much time and effort she will exert as opposed to Socrates. Daily activities will become more predominant then the activity first given to her. Who knows, she could not even complete the task, or she could hold up the completion of the task for years to come. And suppose she eventually got to it, would she really exert as much effort? Socrates is different. He is limited in his task; meaning that he must use his intuition, the viable resources, dexterity and speed to hand in the structure before the hour is up. Socrates must place purpose into what he does, and dedicate his time and effort to his work. The reward given to Socrates is the acknowledgement of his own creation, which is what is sufficient. However, as for Alice she had no incentives – no burden placed on her shoulders to complete the task before her, and thus no reward.
The above example only highlights the value of time, and we all must not forget that time may be a great factor in the running of our activities in life; however, it is not the most predominant reason for life itself, or a purpose for the individual. Time allows for causality: if there is no beginning then there is no end; if there is no end then there is no beginning. If there is a beginning but no end, then there is an endless causal chain (logic would suggest) going on into oblivion. If there is a beginning and end, then there will be a natural cycle at which there will be a clear direction (outward perspective: one that is not contingent on inward relation). A mortal’s life consists of events that have natural ends. A person makes a cup of tea, the intended function of that cup is to provide sustenance to the drinker, and once this need is met it serves no purpose besides its initial one. Immortality is an infinite Cup of tea by which the initial purpose of sustenance is there but its value diminishes over-time; drying out its purpose, or initial value. The great importance of time and natural progression is its ability to initiate value in the subject that is a part of it; everything has a purpose, every means by which a person wakes, does an activity etc. As they provide a natural means by which to start another causal chain of events, by which all bear on that initial starter.
The immortal offer may sound good, but over-time the tasks that seemed worthwhile at the beginning, begins to lose value to the person initially doing it. As humans we have the tendency to imagine things in relative time (this is to say we view it as ‘close-time’, not thinking long-term about our decision processes.), but when we are speaking of ‘infinity’, which is the nature of time to an immortal, the amount of activities one does in that time will lose warranty faster than that of a mortal – but there is an added hook to the offer! The interaction one has with their fellow human being loses value, for the individual has to go through a succession of loves and heart breaches. For the price of immortality means that one can never love someone with their deepest passions, without the fear of losing them. Granted that this can also happen to mortals, but the good thing about mortality is that you can die and experience love in its truest sense, rather than experience loneliness in its truest sense. The only logical conclusion that one can draw is to simply not have any relationships; for if one does not have relationships then one cannot experience that pain of loss. However if humans are naturally a social species, who need unity and love to derive purpose, then would not that in itself diminish a purpose for the immortal, who is bound by time to stay, and who cannot by in unison with others? Say you did not care for your fellow constituency, and instead embellished in narcissistic luxuries. Say that you only cared for the material luxuries in your life. One must realise that those things also are temporary, and once those material possessions lose their appeal they will also fade away into obscurity; evermore losing value and steering you towards the point of boredom. Or will you embrace nihilism? In fact if you were an immortal in this case you would slowly become a nihilist, would you not? Then what would happen?
Religions seek to offer immortality; an eternal life in the form of heaven, or some sort of paradise, as an incentive for subscribing to their religious dogmas. It is in this case that one should refer to the aforementioned discussion, however, with the added incentive for reproach. In the most widely subscribed monotheistic, Abrahamic and messianic religions, the mandate of worship means an eternity of worship. One is offered heaven and a relationship with the almighty, “what could be so bad about that?” Now at first it sounds good, but keep in mind what eternity means. If one spends an entire lifetime climbing a steep mountain they will find that they have not even scratched the surface of the timescale of infinity, for there is no end in sight when talking about eternity.
By trading in one’s life for an afterlife, one is relinquishing the life they have for a fantasy; a fantasy of the darkest kind. For the fantasy they are given is a promise of an eternal worship of a narcissistic God, one at which there can be no expression of renouncement. A deity who can never relinquish its control over you, something that is no better than embracing nihilism, or embracing an ultimate surrender of the facilities as the offer from religion is bent on doing. Many people wish to leave the discussion on immortality when religion is interjected, as they fear it may affect them or may offend them. However, one must not forget that conversations to do with death, mortality and immortality are bound to collide with religious discussion eventually, why not start it here? As free-thinkers we must be ready to take on the opinions and statements of those of the religious lobby.
It would appear that a large proportion of humanity has not come to grips with their own mortality, many it would seem live for the next life rather than this one. They waist their life on the idea of an afterlife, and adjust their whole frame of focus to living out that ideal. The most devoutly religious individuals raise whole families under the guise that there will be an eternal bliss, an eternal paradise for them when they die. How sad it is to understand where religion originates, and the history of religion’s evolution through the epochs, and still see individuals cling to an ideal that clearly has no foundation. The only reason for why religion still holds prominence is because of the amount of individuals who raise their children with these beliefs, and who thus do psychological damage upon them by shifting their gaze off of reality. However I digress, and come to now to a speech that is to be mentioned. It comes from Christopher Hitchens, and it befitting of the aforementioned discussion on immortality. He was debating intelligent design advocate, William Dembski, it is in response to a question the moderator asked about eternal life, here it is:
Why don’t you accept this wonderful offer? [Eternal life in heaven] Why wouldn’t you like to meet Shakespeare, for example? I don’t know if you really think that when you die you can be corporeally reassembled and have conversations with authors from previous epochs. It’s not necessary that you believe that in Christian theology and I have to say that it sounds like a complete fairy-tale to me. The only reason I want to meet Shakespeare, or might even want to, is because I can meet him anytime because he is immortal in the works he’s left behind. If you’ve read those then meeting the author would almost certainly be a disappointment. But when Socrates was sentenced to death, for his philosophical investigations and for blasphemy for challenging the gods of the city, and he accepted his death he did say, “Well, if we are lucky perhaps I will be able to hold conversation with other great thinkers and philosophers and doubters, too.” In other words, that the discussion about what is good, what is beautiful, what is noble, what is pure, and what is true could always go on. Why is that important? Why would I like to do that? Because that’s the only conversation worth having. And whether it goes on or not after I die, I don’t know. But, I do know that it is the conversation I want to have while I am still alive. Which means that to me the offer of certainty, the offer of complete security, the offer of an impermeable faith that can’t give way is an offer of something not worth having. I want to live my life taking the risk all the time that I don’t know anything like enough yet… that I haven’t understood enough… that I can’t know enough… that I am always hungrily operating on the margins of a potentially great harvest of future knowledge and wisdom. I wouldn’t have it any other way. And I’d urge you to look at those who tell you, those people who tell you at your age, that you are dead until you believe as they do. What a terrible thing to be telling to children. …and that you can only live by accepting an absolute authority. Don’t think of that as a gift. Think of it as a poisoned chalice. Push it aside however tempting it is. Take the risk of thinking for yourself. Much more happiness, truth, beauty and wisdom will come to you that way. [sic] (Christopher Hitchens, William Dembski Versus Christopher Hitchens, 2010)
Hitchens, as do many great intellectuals and free-thinkers, pushes the harm of immortality no better in the aforementioned extract. One mentions him here since he has long since departed from this planet and contributed a good deal to the modern free-thought movement.
Immortality, in a way, is more harmful than good, because it steals the time away from us when it is most needed to motivate us. Mortality gives us perspective. It allows us to set aside much needed effort, focusing us to apply consideration to what we do now. Immortality gives us comfort when it is not needed, security when it is not warranted. Mortality gives us the stress when we need it. Time is the only difference between mortality and immortality, as to the mortal time is god, to the immortal time is merely an illusion. Yet, humanity thinks of itself as a god; humans longs to be immortals. With this said, and the last word made on the matter, one can only end with an extract from Alan Lightman’s beautiful book, Einstein’s Dreams, which was written in 1992. It emphasises the cost of immortality:
With Infinite Life comes an infinite list of relatives. Grandparents never die, nor do great-grandparents, great-aunts…and so on, back through the generations, all alive and offering advice. Sons never escape the shadows of their fathers. Nor do daughters of their mothers. No-one-ever comes into his own…such is the price of immortality. No person is whole. No Person is Free. (Alan Lightman, Einstein’s Dreams, p. 93, 1992)
Knowledge is Power.
Written By: Anthony Avice Du Buisson
In times of silence, the greatest weapon that can be utilised is the power of speech; with it, the cloak of silence can be uplifted and communication restored. We all have ways at which we express ourselves and communicate to others our intentions; it can be both pronounced and subtle, it is all a matter of looking for the right indicators. Language, whether it is non-verbal, verbal or written, is language none-the-less and we express it in every single thing we do in our daily activities in life. Thought is communicated through language, the simple gesture communicates an array of thoughts that our brains’ subconsciously harvest and utilise; we build thought based from external pressures, daily conversations and daily interactions with one another. That is how societies come about; when humans communicate with humans, for the intentions and means of one another’s survival. This interaction evolves into something more than just hedonism and survival; it develops into admiration for the surreal. It develops into the love of the majestic in the natural world; aesthetic qualities, altruistic means, are each adopted by us when our intelligence evolves.
A young woman taught me a lot about myself, her words still echo in my mind even after her long departure. Alison Locke, a woman I shall forever remember, gave me one of the most powerful statements about the human condition; she told me,
“No one should give up so soon on the human condition, everyone who gives up on the human condition is giving up on themselves; for it takes but a moment to realise what it means. It has been said that many individuals do not feel adequate with their place amongst the daunting world, no one notices them, no one understands them; they tell themselves it is there fault for this abandonment. Oh, but it takes a moment to realise the power of one’s actions on another, if they had known that they are but one part of the human experience, if they had known that what they do has impact on others; then they most certainly may understand the state of the human condition. If only they had known their place amongst it, if they had only had the proper will to learn which is at the heart of all of a decent education, for it has been said many a time before…”
“Education is the match stick that lights the world a blaze with the will to learn; to be educated is to be in ability to pursue understanding of the world they inhabit. Education, emancipates the mind from the shackles of ignorance, and empowers the individual towards enlightenment. The human condition is the centre of all of us, what one may do now affects the whole part. My will to understand the world around me, is the will my fellow sister and brother has to understand themselves, ‘true enlightenment’, if it can be called that; is not solely latent in the dormant abyss, but is much more. Enlightenment is to find oneself amongst the abyss, to find understanding of the world around them well acknowledging the dark that surrounds them. That is why the human condition, is tied to us all, we all want to understand the world in which we inhabit, and we all want to be human! No better way of feeling human is to understand, or want to understand, the world around us; to be a part of the human experience, that is what we all do. We all live now with one another, and that is why no one can ever be separate from the human experience, they need only live now in the sun. That is the state of the human condition.”
Empowerment comes from education through the learning and understanding of not just the outer natural paradigm, but of experience of life and the individuals within it. We all are inspired by words that communicate empowerment, we all get goose bumps when listening to something that truly speaks to our metaphoric soul; such as a grand sympathy is being played that truly brings us to deep felt emotions. Our minds relay information from our senses, through sensory experience, our thoughts and expressions respond to this experience, and emotion comes from it. When we lose loved ones we feel the need to express our sensory experience we had with them, in the form of emotion; often that of tears, which brings us closer to those experiences we truly valued from them, its empathy at its finest! Empathy, the emotional attachments we have with one another, are subject to sensory experiences, and the moments we value are ones we remember; glimpses of those sensory experiences of reality are housed in our minds, like machines that store information, our brains hold those experiences in the form of memories. Emotions are built from them; expressions of deep felt belief in the form of passionate language, is just what it means to be human.
Concerned Free-thinker, both young and old, ideas that you express on paper and share with others do have an effect on them; this is guaranteed, but it should not be your intention to change others, it should only be your intention to express ideas. Do not write for fame, for it is an ever-more increasing cancer that consumes and destroys the body. Do not do it to be rich, for it too is a cancer that spreads. Do not try to be someone else, never mimic another man’s voice lest ye want to hold the baggage he carries; difference is uniqueness. An individual has but one life to lead, best they lead it doing something original rather than a copy of another’s. Seek uniqueness for its own sake, seek independence for its own sake, seek freedom of thought for its own sake; language is meant to express deep felt beliefs and this is just one aspect of language that truly makes it powerful.
There is something that should be addressed in this letter, it has to do with all of us, it has to do with the feeling of being alone; loneliness. There is something unique that connection brings, and that is love; it cannot be stressed enough, that the only cure to a lonely soul is love. There is someone out there who needs help, and the only way they are going to get it, is through the aid of another; this is tantamount to eradicating the sense of loneliness. We all want to feel secure, feel like our words are not falling on deaf ears; we wish to keep connected. This can sometimes be hard in a world that values the individual more than the collective. This is not entirely bad, because after all, we do need people finding their own voice, but we need to keep in mind while when we do this, that we do live among others and in communities. Some of us have families, our “tribes”, at which we use to interact with other “tribes” in an even bigger “Tribe”, we call society. We are social creatures and need to feel as if we are contributing, for if we do not we feel we are contributing we will instead feel that we are doing a detriment to society; this is why so many who have the feeling of loneliness think that no one loves them, if unchecked this feeling leads to an even greater sense, that one is simply not needed and therefore should rid himself from society all together. That is why suicide is such a prevalent matter in the western world, as in the west we privilege success and innovation, but forget community. As a thinker living in the west, you should remember that the way you can change this is through the words you write and the language you express; it can be said that the individual who can inspire just one person out of a crowd of millions, has the potential to change the world for the better. After all ideas are theoretical applications that are created in response to the world around us and the reality we live in, for the sole purpose that they have is to one day become practical applications that we can utilise in reality, to create a “progressive reality”. That is why thought, especially free-thought (not in the arrogance of selfish values) in a free-society, should be utilised for the better.
This brings us to the centre of this letter, and that has to do with the power of language, and its contribution to the empowerment of the individual through the enlightenment of the mind. Knowledge (as mentioned in the pursuit of epistemology letter to you), has to do with our understanding of the wider natural paradigm we exist in. We establish understanding through ideas that we have that are justified by the natural realm, to constitute it as being potentially valuable in understanding ourselves and the outer world of our brain. Language is one way we come about knowledge; through interaction, we can stir up the pot of ideas…two minds are indeed better than one. Enlightenment was built on the principle, that cooperation for the benefit of one’s understanding and one’s potential is crucial in achieving knowledge and understanding. The enlightenment movement of the 18th and 19th century that spawned science, individualism and the rejection of tradition, was built on this principle; better benefiting one another with education and empowerment of the self, rather than the acceptance of dogma from sources of “antiquity”. No longer was it the norm to simply nod about when given a potential source of information, the norm became cultivating and questioning the ideas within that information, for the better enlightenment of social activity and individual understanding.
With the introduction of free-thought, which then was a privileged gift from wealth (which is sad, because today wealth does play a major part in education; robbing “free” from “Free-thought.”), could be entitled to all. Poverty was created with this growing distinction between self-righteousness and self-enlightenment, very different things; the one seeks to view learning as a means to an end, the other sought to better fulfil one’s knowledge in accordance to others. The mistake when it comes to knowledge, is the illusion that knowledge somehow will guarantee you privilege; that is not the case, in fact, it can be said privilege only comes about through circumstance. People of enlightenment, may be knowledgeably better off, but often they miss circumstance to promote themselves and their constituency; living under the infatuation of another. This is why not everyone is remembered in the cannon of history, and a lot of individuals do get left out and marginalised. This is why circumstance and enlightenment harbour (unfortunately), appreciation in our materialist paradigm in the west. Now materialism is not necessarily a bad thing, after all, our bodies are made of organic material and one cannot help but note that to survive you must adopt the material.
Where does language fit exactly in the marketplace of ideas? Well dear thinker, where it fits is in the transportation of ideas to others; the value of the enlightenment introduced the mass production of ideas and the creation of the free enterprise. This enterprise was for all who were willing to take a rational approach to every day viewing. This is why nothing taken on faith is considered worth anything unless justified with sufficient evidence; for fools only accept things based on nothing. Knowledge is power, if you know how to use it; the reason why it is power, is because it can do one thing and that is empower. When people are empowered by ideas and understandings of those ideas, they will in all circumstances improve themselves; this is the nature of an enlightened mind, which always seeks to improve that which needs improvement. Books, poems, interactions etc., are all forms of inspiration and enlightenment for the individual, to not only find his voice, but acknowledge his place among the social species. Yet the enlightenment is not for the “privileged few, in some elitist mind out there, it is for everyone, and in-fact can only work effectively with the entire collective; as opposed to the minority of a culture. The measure of success really does come when the majority truly start to improve themselves, having the will to progress and change and spread the enlightenment to others in the way to help them. This is an ideology, not just an idea, but a belief put into practise; this may deter people, but it is the only ideology that seeks universal acceptance and fulfilment, why should it be deterred?
The essence of free-thought is housed in the enlightenment movement, never before could one read the works of great literature without being hassled by the government and tradition of the day. The burning of books by societies, that are ruled by those who reject the freedom to learn and the freedom that the enlightenment brings; are societies where suffering and misery increase, as silence is adopted and fear pressed, we should all be weary of the value of language being deplored in such societies. Language is at the centre of the trade and teaching of ideas to others, this communication that is at the heart of the pursuit of empowerment through the affirmation of knowledge, is central to the utilisation and enhancement of our species. When we step into the world and embrace it for what it is rather then what we want it to be (deplore nihilism), finding understanding from the things we are curious to find out about, then do we gain potential. We still do not know a lot about the world, we still are finding out new and interesting things about our existence and there is never enough for one to learn and understand, nor enough for one to teach (the essence of philosophy is its application to spread ideas to others, in the hopes of better fulfilment and enrichment.). There is never a lack of unknown things to be known, the world and the cosmos are filled with countless of undiscovered worlds and undiscovered things, which it would be foolish to ignore or learn from it. There was never a dull movement for words to play into the alteration of human development; (forgetting the old stories and lessons of history, in favour of the new, “Out with the old, in with the new”, as the old saying goes. The value of language in every day conversation is the main reason for progression among our species.) from the primitive grunts used for the most simplistic needs and survival between each other. This has evolved into huge applications and sophistications of letters and speech to be harvested by ourselves to better enhance the world. Who does not want to see the riddance of poverty, intolerance and injustice? Who does not want to see all these things which deplore man; rid of? It takes just one voice, one word to just one individual, to change the world; there is never an idea too small to be used, or too big to be understood. It just takes the will power to learn and embrace what is, beauty and enlightenment come from it.
This brings us to the end of the letter, my dear thinker, I have written many letters to you and I will continue to do so. But there is one thing I need you to remember, corny as it may sound, ‘never forget yourself’; in a world where conformity is pushed, and confusion rife, remember your voice. Remember why you learn in the first place, why you embrace the pursuit of epistemology, why you are willing to go the extra mile in the journey only limited to a short distance. “The journey of a thousand miles starts with the single step” (Leo Tzu) and you are taking that step and running. Socrates, Hitchens, Nietzsche, Sagan and all the other thinkers, philosophers, doubters and scientists had tough times finding their own voice; but at the end, men like these found themselves (though it was never easy) doing something truly revolutionary. Spreading the ideas they created to others, in the hopes of further improving the world. That is my goal as I write to you, that you take something from these letters as I continue to send them, some form of will to understand the world. The will to understand ideas and life, and all these things, take what you can from them and run for the mountain tops. Remember that we all stand on the shoulders of greatness, it only takes acknowledgement of this fact to truly wish to continue the pursuit of understanding; this is the heart of all that one has to offer now…just listen read closely.
Knowledge is power
Written By: Anthony Avice Du Buisson
It is now time to discuss matters to do with morality, Alison has told me much of her past history to with religion and her path to enlightenment, I thought it might help you understand the importance of forming one’s morality based upon empathy and reason; and not on the basis of some divine warrant or relative cultural clash.
Left on the porch to an old abandoned chapel, which lay not too far a distance away from the local town church, whose size was double that of the chapel’s; Alison, deep in thought, begins her postulating. She is concerned with the state of the old building, though this may seem strange given that she spent most of her life running from an establishment of this sort, so why would now she wish to lay concern on it? She reasons to herself that the old building, though it may represent that which she detests, she still wishes that it would be ordained with some vestige of life. The church seemed to garter much more life then the chapel, and the precarious thing about it was the church was much younger then the chapel. Yet, how is it that the church is much livelier than that of the chapel? The reason for it (she thought) must come from the fact that the church is much more modern then the chapel. The church’s architecture is post-modern (ironically enough), with the roof bending in the shape of a dome, with the walls being made from a combination of glass, marble and steel. The doors are made entirely of glass; the roof has a huge sphere with a steel cross imbedded on it. The rest of the building is made up of abstract shapes, such as squares forming into ovals and so on; it does not represent anything on the lines of traditional church architecture and instead resembles the embrace of the modern era. Compared to the chapel, which architecture is pre-modern, classic architecture, rigid and so on; the chapel is made from wood, and resembles closely to that of missionary chapels that you would expect to fine in the Bible belt of the USA. The chapel is pathetic in comparison to the church, yet has the odd sent of death around it. The graveyard at the back of the chapel tells a story that dates back to the late 18th century. How could a building like this be abandoned? Then another thought crosses her mind, one that had not yet crossed it before. What if the reason for this abandonment is the realization, that the traditional simply was not needed anymore? Yes, there are a good deal of people coming into the church, but look at its structure, look at its tenants, do they resemble exactly that of old traditional teaching, or has cultural relativism shown itself?
Her story will be revisited later, as it is quite an interesting thing to discuss, but for now we need to embark on a different path; one of morality and nihilism.
Here we are, from the moment of our conception to the moment of our last goodbyes; we are here. Well we are here; we make the most of it with others, which is the reality. We create systems by which we can co-exist and thrive, that take the rights of the many, as well as the rights of the few. These systems allow us to function together, that allow people the ability to take charge of their own lives and not harper on the whims of others who have equal responsibility. We develop systems that have principles that discern right and wrong actions, good and bad deeds; we call these systems, systems of “Morality.” Within these systems there are principles that discern between harmful and helpful behaviour amongst others, these principles are what we call “ethics”, and they are the philosophy of morality. These systems of morality may derive from ethical codes, laws, books and so on. Others may seek to derive their morality from the world around them; others may seek a universal morality that applies objectively to the world. What is deemed moral has been a major debate amongst philosophers, ever since its amalgamation in the infancy of our species. That is why we discuss it here, in this letter, as one needs to grow in understanding of such concepts and understanding of the roles these concepts play on society and on the individual. So when discussing morality and ethics we must ask the following three questions.
1. “What ethical principles do we use to discern between right and wrong behaviour?”
2. “What system of morality is ideal in discerning moral from immoral?”
3. “By what authority or reasoning is that system of Morality ideal?”
Another method of framing these three questions is done so like this…
“What ethical principles do we use to discern between right and wrong behaviour, and what system of morality is right in terms of discerning between what is moral from what is immoral and finally how do we know that, that system of morality is correct?”
Since we have given a framework by which to begin our topic of morality, we shall discuss each question and the relative views and discernments between them. Though it must be noted, that to consider anything to be “moral” (at least in my view), it must go to the benefit of the well-being of conscious creatures; physically, mentally or socially. What we consider to be “immoral” goes towards the denigration of the well-being of conscious creatures, either physically, mentally or socially (overall social standard of the group, which is).
The first question has to do with normative ethics, which is the branch of ethics concerned with ethical action, and how one should act and behave. The major branches associated with normative ethics are; deontology, consequentialism, pragmatic ethics and virtue ethics.
-Deontology; is the branch of normative ethics concerned with the motives behind actions, rather than the outcomes of those actions. Deontologists’ reason, that you need laws and rules in society in order for it to function effectively, and thus it is one’s obligation to follow those rules as it is their duty. Deontologists say there is a “Moral law” that is absolutely right and it is this law that must be upheld and respected regardless of personal prohibitions otherwise. Immanuel Kant (German philosopher from the 18th century), came up with the “categorical imperative” where by which one acts on the will of maxims (actions, laws or memorable guidelines for living eg. “Do not eat spaghetti with bird droppings for it will cause dysentery in the bowels.”) that can be willed to become universal laws. And the individual should live by their maxims in a“universal kingdom of ends” (Kantianism).
–Moral absolutism; is another form of deontology, which seeks to discern absolute rights from wrongs. Moral absolutists take ideal ethical behaviour from often holy texts that have laws that are believed to be from an ultimate authority. Divine command theory goes hand in hand with moral absolutism, as the “supernatural” agent, behind the formation of these texts is believed to have ultimate authority, and thus all actions and anything that is deemed ethical must be accordance with a God of some sort. Thus, if the moral law says “do not kill” then it must be upheld despite the circumstance. This plays as well, that morality and ethics are entirely up to the deity and that humans have no say in what is ethical an action and what is not, as the supreme entity is the ultimate scalar for deciding actions that are right or wrong.
-Consequentialism is the opposite of deontology, and judges’ ethical behaviour by the consequences of one’s conduct, and identifies that the consequences permitted by an action are what matters most. Consequentialism in normative ethics, can be divided into many sub-theories; State consequentialism, utilitarianism, ethical egoism, altruism and so on. We shall discuss one of these and that is utilitarianism.
–Utilitarianism simply put, is; for any action to be deemed proper it must go towards the maximization of utility (benefit) and the reduction of suffering (negativity). What is interesting about utilitarianism is its practicality with the social structures, if we take a look at two-level utilitarianism, which synthesis act utilitarianism (a moral action is decided upon, based on its relative delivery of happiness it delivers to a subject at a given time; happiness being defined as pleasure and absence of pain. The consequences of an action are judged alone.) With rule utilitarianism (an action is deemed right by the most effective rule that it follows that delivers optimum goodness; goodness being defined as optimum positivity towards human life. Rules are judged rather than individual actions.) to create a theory by which instead of purely going on the basis of pleasure to measure ethical actions (hedonist utilitarianism); ethical actions are instead based upon on ‘intuitive’ moral rules (which employ, empathy and so on), except in the instance where critical reasoning is involved by which the individual then must use his deduction and reasoning to engage in a ‘critical level’ of moral reasoning. Now the reason why this is an effective way of distinguishing ethical behaviour, is it takes in the wider realm of society and co-opts the most effective way of living, which is in accordance to reality. A small note, on the difference between hedonism and two-sided utilitarianism, hedonism seeks for pleasure’s sake; well the other seeks for aesthetic and progressive features, as well as pleasure.
-Pragmatic ethics; embodies the already mentioned ways of discerning ethical behaviour, and applies it on a practical level; taking various elements of deontology and consequentialism and applying it in a pragmatist sense (practising various other forms of normative ethics with full knowledge that social order needs to progress and innovate). What must be noted is that ethical pragmatists are not moral relativists (who believe morality is relative and thus subjective); they will revise their position, just like scientists may revise their theories, to achieve an objective understanding; pragmatists revise their ethical standards to achieve an objective higher goal.
-Virtue ethics; is the classical sense of discerning ethical behaviour, it combines deontology and consequentialism in order to live a “virtuous life” or the “Ideal character” (“dikaiosune”, in greek).
The second question has to do with the discernment of moral from immoral; in doing so we need to consider the various views on this discernment, by various different cultures, individuals and we should discern what should be the ideal morality based on its weighing on reality. Comparing and contrasting various systems of morality should help us to do so; in regards to this, we shall have to thus discuss; moral relativism, realism, universalism and absolutism.
-Moral relativism is the moral system that expresses that every culture has a different standard of morality; and thus it would be wrong to assume that an objective moral standard existed as every historical and contextual setting is different from another. And thus good or bad are entirely subjective to the case and culture in question, and thus it is our job to treat each cultures morality equal without giving bias to one another. The problem with moral relativism is it seeks no objective standard of morality, and thus if for example one society favoured child molestation and another culture detested child molestation; then according to moral relativism each side is equal in opinion and waiting. Thus contradiction appears in this moral framework, as there is no weighting on reality or objective standards of morals and thus every action is relative. This is different to situational ethics, as situational ethics seeks to provide an objective standard, whereas moral relativism does not seek to do so and only settle on subjective standards.
-Moral realism takes a different tact from moral relativism, as it is interested in objectivity of morality, rather than subjectivity. Moral realism proposes that ethical statements/sentences have propositions that can be analysed to be right or wrong from the basis of objective features in the real world, and thus are indifferent to subjective opinion. Moral realism, takes elements of utilitarianism, cognitivism (Meta-ethical standard which states statements express propositions and those can be expressed as being true or false) and realism (what is in the world and what nature is made up of material and physical substance); and creates a system of morality, moral actions are those that employ utilitarianism and realism, and immoral actions are those that deplore utilitarianism and realism. Moral universalism is similar to moral realism, as it seeks to provide an objective morality that can be attributed universally to all cultures and civilizations. It uses the same formula (Utilitarianism, cognitivism and realism) but adds universal perspectivism which takes the tact that ethical statements have imperatives that are universal, so if one commits moral judgement he is subject to that same moral judgement despite the action (however this is not to be confused, dear thinker, with absolutism; this applies in certain areas more so then others).
-Moral absolutism is different to moral objectivism; moral absolutism states that its principals are not to be violated despite any sense by which it would otherwise detest to do so, the principals are absolute and unalterable and cannot be revised. Objectivism seeks to have an ideal sense of moral actions being permissible or impermissible, and will adjust to optimise the given standards. Moral absolutism is often associated with a religious framework that employs (Kantianism, and divine command theory) a celestial being who has revealed himself in a form of some sort, whether it be through others; who then dictate God’s will. Anything that is against God’s will is considered to be immoral, and everything that contributes to God’s will is moral; and thus this sense only puts God as the ultimate source of morality. This moral system can be quite extreme, for if we are to take the bible or Quran; who both do not deplore slavery or child rape, then what are we to make of those actions? If they are not immoral, then they are moral, and thus if God commanded the subjects to do something that may go against their emotions then they have no choice but to do so, if they are to be “moral” in God’s eyes. This system of morality is simply in-consistent with what the world actually is and how societies function and thus this system is wrong by those standards.
The third and final question now comes to the discernment of these systems and identifying the morality that is most ideal, and by what reasoning it becomes ideal. Now for a system of morality to be correct it must way into the real world, which is the fact. It must be objective to our understanding of the world, we have created morality and it applies to us and our functioning within this existence. So that immediately gets rid of moral absolutism and moral relativism, as through science which asses the natural world we can quantify actions and their effects. The science of morality is an interesting look into how science can discern between moral and immoral actions based upon elements of utilitarianism, realism, neuro-science and psychology and correlation of cases. Dear thinker you must understand that views and actions come from neurological sequences in the brain. Thus for anything to be deemed “moral” it must go towards the “Flourishing of conscientious creatures” (Sam Harris, Moral landscape). We can plot various ethical systems across an average gradient and we can identify “moral peaks” (this comes from Moral landscape) on a “moral landscape” and we can identify societies throughout histories that had optimum levels of morality, and they would thus be on a higher peak then those who had poorer ones. In discussing morality my dear thinker, remember to ask the three questions listed above, this will give you a good method by which to build knowledge on the subject. As morality for any sensible person, should be instinct, empathy, altruism and reason alone are enough to distinguish right from wrong; yet there will always be those who will deny the reality, and that is what you need to watch out for.
On the voyage through life, one has to settle on a moral system; that is why it has been mentioned in this letter. If one understands what morality and what ethics are, there use in society and in one’s life; then they can effectively create a moral system that is consistent, objective and true with reality. Yet, people have a growing disproportion between what they want to value (need), and how the world operates. A German philosopher witnessed this growing process in western culture and called it “nihilism” (nothingness), this philosopher’s name was Friedrich Nietzsche; for most of his life he opposed the thought of nihilism. Yet, to understand how this opposition came about we must look at the life of this philosopher, as we have done with that of Socrates; so I give you the second great philosopher to appear in our discussions, “Friedrich Nietzsche”.
Friedrich Nietzsche was born in the year 1844 in the small town of Rocken in Germany, to a religious family; his father was a famous Lutheran pastor and would preach daily to congregations in the church that Nietzsche grew up in. He had a younger brother and an older sister, who he is known to have loved and cherished. His father suffered from a mental ailment and as a result would abuse Nietzsche, at the age of four his Father died and with it Nietzsche’s belief in God; “God is dead” (“The gay science”; “The Parable of a madman.”). A year later his brother (which he was very fond of and loved dearly) died; Nietzsche’s life can be seen as a series of hardships and broken moments from then on. He attended school in Naumberg and is still one of the youngest people to become a professor (age 24), his chosen field was that of philology (science of language), but he longed to be a proper philosopher; taking inspiration from Arthur Schopenhauer’s philosophy. Yet, his hardships would only truly begin during his time at school. Nietzsche, throughout his writings, describes each hardship he was given as an obstacle to be overcome; expressing this in the line from ‘Human, all too human” (1878), “triumph of the will”; being his motto towards suffering. At the age of 26, well fighting in the Franco-Prussian war, Friedrich attended a brothel in Genoa (Italy), where he developed syphilis, which would impede him through his entire life. At the age of 35, sick from all the abuse and his growing decline in health, he left Basel, and took up a journey of self-discovery. Nietzsche ventured to Switzerland, in Sils-maria where he would remain for the rest of his life (except of course the occasional venturing out to traverse the Italian country). A philosopher to Nietzsche did not only mean tackling that of the mind, but that of the essence of human being. Nietzsche embraced a philosophy during his time in Sils-maria, any worthwhile achievement comes out of struggle and suffering; Nietzsche revolutionised a philosophy of hardship. Rising ever morning to write till noon, then traversing the nearby mountain. This ideal environment for Nietzsche gave him the means at which to write some of his best works (“Ecce homo”, “Beyond Good and Evil” and so on); “That which does not kill me, surely make me stronger”; was a line he embellished. Nietzsche developed his philosophy from observation; observing western Christianity, which offered (according to Nietzsche) ‘a weak man’s philosophy’, that played down suffering and embellished “Good according to God”.
Nietzsche observed that in western culture the ill proportion of values over-shining what is true, was remarkably high. “Nihilism”, was the word he used to describe this phenomena; he described people who embraced this phenomena as “drowning in self-pity” (“Human, all too Human”). Nietzsche held to the ideal of resisting nihilism and to do such a thing first one needs to embrace suffering and cultivate it, finding meaning in the suffering in order to survive; this is to say, that for one to find ideal meaning he needs to cultivate the pain he is suffering and find, that within the reality of the world there are things that will enhance pain and suffering, for one to survive this reality they need to embrace it and not be drunk with happiness, as in a nihilistic framework; brushing off suffering in the hopes it will go away. For if one continues to brush away a mound of rocks; it is inevitable for him to one day not be able to brush away those rocks, instead having created a heap that is now impossible to sweep away. For us to understand that we will have pain, we will have hardships, but it is not in the hopes of drinking away our problems, we need to face them and conquer them seeing meaning in the suffering; instead of deluding ourselves in too much of value and little of reality for that is when we embrace nihilism, to conquer this phenomena we need to embrace it and face it full on, living a life in reality for that is the only way we are to survive. As opposed to the dulling of pain, which was what Nietzsche believed Christianity was doing “Dulling the pain, like a drunken man dulls his sorrows by drinking.” Nietzsche believed with the death of Christianity, nihilism would be widely embraced (The parable of a madman, is a brilliant poem by the philosopher describing the death of Christianity and loose timid naivety of morality).
Nietzsche sought to say that pain and suffering are what make life worth living, they are with which we find meaning; by adopting a philosophy that seeks to reduce pain and suffering in embrace of a lifestyle of total need or value, rather than reality. We seek to embrace nihilism, he who embraces the simple life of valuing above his self, is embracing nihilism the most dangerous poison to develop out of the death of Christianity. And the only cure for this poison is to embrace every hardship one is given, cultivate it and seek to utilise it to its maximum potential and “Triumph over it, and become the superman”. There is a famous tale, in 1889 Well Nietzsche was visiting Turin in Italy; he came across his usual walking path, a horse who was being flogged by its owner. The tale goes that Nietzsche pushed the flogger away and embraced the horse and collapsed well doing so. His mental breakdown would halt him in his writings for the rest of his life, up until his death in 1900; Friedrich Nietzsche lived his life with his sister and aunt. The tale of Friedrich Nietzsche is one of hardship and triumph, Nietzsche always wished his friends the worst suffering; for what he meant by that, is the best potential to harvest success and happiness. And this is what you must remember, hardship is no way should be seen as something to be deplored and drowned away, but something to be cultivated, like the roots of a plant being cultivated by the gardener.
Alison Locke, now totally dumb-founded at the reason for the chapel’s abandonment; looks toward the church; Jolly and happy people, and even more coming out. As if drunken from happiness, they exit, those in the local town who aren’t at church whisk a bottle, and drown themselves in the taste of it. As if an orchestra of madness, they stroll candidly from one side of the street to another, well on looker-look by. Those coming into the church and those going out seem to be very different individuals, She noticed as people went in their faces would lighten up; but not in the way you would expect. As if turning their crosses from upside down to right side up, it seemed that those entering were going for their weekly drinking session. The church seemed only to have new drinks as opposed to the chapel, whose stock ran out long time ago. This is the reason; not because of architecture but because of stock, people are getting drunk with happiness to drown out their own problems. Those who have had hard times, deaths and such, may eventually find themselves drinking happiness from their local church. The church, the synagogue, the mosque are just different buildings for men to get drunk with happiness and drown away their problems. As for the free-thinker, after realising this, he begins his track back home; for unlike the rest of them, she is sober. She is free. This I write to you
Knowledge is Power, Use it.
Written By: Anthony Avice Du Buisson