Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Genesis and Sex

Readers of the first book of the Old Testament, Genesis, will certainly pick up on the fact that sexual intercourse forms an important part of it; witness the relations between Abraham and Sarah, Lot and his daughters, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and his wives Leah and Rachel and so on. 

But this is only too fitting in a story named 'genesis' which comes from the Greek for origin, source, beginning as well as nativity, production, creation: γένεσις, itself linked to γίγνομαι (to come-to-be). 

Sex is indeed the generative, originating, conceiving act that caused you and me to exist, short of course of the technological production of fresh human beings - as in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Monday, 13 November 2017

Nino Rota: The Godfather Waltz | piano cover

Piano cover of the famous opening theme and waltz from the movie The Godfather.

Audio here:

Felix Mendelssohn: Wedding March, Op.61/9 | piano cover

Arrangement by Hans-Günter Heumann.

Audio here:

All Piano Compositions, Part 2

The second batch of my original piano pieces, in the order they were written.

  1. Riverflow
  2. Wishful
  3. Bobbing
  4. Poppy 
  5. Pioneer

Pioneer | original piano composition

My 32nd piano composition and my most epic sounding. This one combines ideas from Odyssey, Wishful and Poppy.

Sheets here:

Audio here:

Poppy | original piano composition

My 31st piano composition. This one has a slightly pop-music groove to it, whence the title.

Sheets here:

Audio here:

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Bobbing | original piano composition

My 30th piano composition and the 3rd of my new batch. This is the most technically demanding of my original pieces (so far).

Sheets here:

Audio here:

Wishful | original piano composition

My 29th piano composition and my 2nd in the new series.

Sheets here:

Audio here:

Riverflow | original piano composition

An updated version of my piano composition Riverflow. Riverflow is the first in a new batch of compositions and marks a change in my compositional style, from purely rhythmic harmonies to a melodic line in the right hand with a left hand accompaniment.  

Sheets here:

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Founding Poet: The Christian from Troy

The founding poet of Arthurian literature in the West is generally regarded as being the French author Chrétien de Troyes. Later authors on the subject of the Arthurian legends, such as the English knight and convict Thomas Malory who wrote Le Morte Darthur, owed much of their mythical lore to the francophone 'Christian from Troy'. 

Whether or not 'Chrétien de Troyes' was only a pseudonym should not detract from the fact that the name creates an all-too-serendipitous link with the founding poet of the classical world, Homer, who wrote two epic poems centered around ancient Troy, The Iliad and The Odyssey

The legend of King Arthur still permeates modern culture - witness the recent film by Guy Richie (as well as the excellent 1981 flick, Excalibur, by John Boorman) and the Arthur-based novel series by the popular novelist Bernard Cornwell - as it did the music of Wagner at the end of the nineteenth century. 

In light of the continuing hold of the Arthurian story on popular imagination, the legacy of Chrétien de Troyes may indeed be interpreted as a foundational mythology for Western Europe that combines the classical-warrior morality of Homer with the Christianised-knightly romantic idealism of the Middle Ages. 

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Economics, Ancient & Modern - Economy v Ecology - Geonomics

As I pointed out in Economic-less, the Ancient Greeks didn't have a use for our modern 'science' of (mathematical) economics.

As is known, however, the word economy itself is Greek in origin: οἰκονομία, usually translated as 'household management', formed as the word is of οἶκος, the household unit, including husband, wife, children, slaves and property, and νομός which, strictly speaking, means pasture for cattle but also has the meaning of law and ordinance. 

Νομός is said to come from the verb νέμω which, aside from 'to pasture', intends the act of distributing and dispensing. 

Thus it should come as no surprise that Aristotle's Economics (which most scholars attribute to a student of his rather than the master himself) is concerned precisely with normative prescriptions on how best to manage the household unit - which includes matrimonial relations, master-slave dynamics and the cultivation of arable land - for the purpose of maximising material prosperity.

The wise dispensation of one's property is therefore the central concern of ancient economic theory and is tied up with the arts of matrimony, master-slave relations and especially husbandry for
“φύσει γὰρ ἀπο τῆς μητρὸς ἡ τροφὴ πᾶσίν ἐστιν, ὥστε καὶ τοῖς ἀνθρώποις ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς.” 
("just as nature has it that all are nourished from their mother, so too men are nourished from the land.")

[Modern political economy, by contrast, concerns, as Adam Smith put it, The Wealth of Nations, provided one understands wealth as meaning material goods (and services) themselves rather than simply monetary wealth. For, as I pointed out in Money and Goods, goods (and services) constitute (material) wealth per se (see Spiritual Wealth) whereas money represents a mere claim on wealth in the shape of the goods (and services) it potentially gives access to (literally, 'everything that money can buy').

However, money being, at the very least, a condition of subsistence if one wishes to partake in technological society (see The Power of Money) and therefore an exigency in exchange for which the vast majority (have to) sell their time and energy through employment and business (see Jobs and Money, Enforced Selfishness, Employment Bullshit - My Economic Ideal) it has rightly been stated that
"you are only as free as your purchasing power"
since it is only with enough money, such as a private income, that you may not only subsist, but also remove yourself from the need to sell your labour in an employment setting (though today plenty of employed labour goes un or under remunerated such as in the widespread practice of corporate internships that hide their exploitative nature behind the perceived need to gain 'experience') or make a business out of whatever skill or idea you may possess.]

However, in addition to the purely managerial aspect of ancient economic theory, as I've already highlighted, is its prescriptive nature, as though drawing from the term νομός in its connotation of 'law' and 'rule'. 

This brings me to the idea behind this blog post which is the difference between the terms eco-nomy and eco-logy, the one ending with the Greek -νομός and the other with the Greek -λόγος yet both sharing the root of οἶκος.

While ancient economics concerns the private household (it is unclear what 'household' modern economic theory is concerned with other than that of the nation, whether in its national or international dimension) it seems that modern ecology concerns the shared, environmental household, that is to say, planet earth itself. 

Moreover, semantically speaking, whereas eco-nomy deals with the normative law (νομός) of the private household of the Greek patriarch and, in modernity, the social household of the nation-state and the financial household of the multinational corporation, eco-logy deals with the reasoned discourse (λόγος) of the planetary household. 

A deep conflict therefore lies between economists and ecologists, in that orthodox economists see the planet as something external from humanity to be exploited for monetary gain (and provide normative justifications for this predation under the guise of mathematical equations) whereas ecologists take the view that nation-states both individually and collectively - as well as the corporations they should but don't regulate - should bow down to the wider exigencies of the welfare of the planet, the environmental household of which supports the private, social an financial households of individuals, states and corporations. 

In that sense ecologists would wish to see their discourse on the planetary household translate into a normative prescription for that household's management, thereby becoming economists in the wide sense of geo-nomists (the 'geo' of geography and geology coming from the Greek noun for earth, ἡ γῆ). 

It goes without saying that the shift from the eco-nomic to the geo-nomic will (and does) meet with much resistance from anti-socialist, anti-globalist, anti-technocratic, pro-capitalist, pro-individualist, pro-anarchist thinkers who will interpret it as a new form of illegitimate centralised control using the 'save the planet' card to assert itself.

Addendum - Another term for geonomics could be the more poetic gaianomics, Γαῖα standing for Mother Nature in Ancient Greek vernacular. The term gaianomics implies Mother Nature as an interrelated, mutually dependent, almost conscious system (see Universe as Conscious - Scientific Dogma) whereas the more prosaic term geonomics on its face still interprets the earth as a reified, quantifiable and exploitable externality (see Prosaic v Poetic for the distinction between these two modes of perceptive sensibility). 

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Credit: in Money We Trust

It is interesting to note how the word 'credit' originally comes from the Latin verb credo, meaning 'to trust, to believe'. Credit in Latin means 'he, she, it entrusts, believes'. 

Banking credit - which still determines the money supply - is indeed a system based on belief and trust. It is in fact a system of belief and trust and is as equally as faith-based as any religion (see Double Etymology of Religion), banks being akin to modern-day temples dedicated to money and (un)holy sites of divine-like 'arbitrage' understood in the sense of self-determined will, as in the French arbitre (see this interview with Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben for more on the theological aspect of modern finance, as evidenced by the Greek New Testament term for 'faith': πίστις). 

Someone's 'credit-rating' signals their financial 'trustworthiness' to prospective 'creditors' who may en-trust the debtor with financial 'credit', i.e. trust or belief, as expressed in monetary terms. The creditor believes, at least apparently, that the debtor, in whom the belief is placed, will make good on their promise to repay the accredited amount. If they fail to repay the loan, their credit-rating, their financial trustworthiness, will be quantifiably diminished.   

Last but not least, is it not sweetly ironic as well as perfectly apposite that the US twenty dollar bill has "In God We Trust" printed on it, provided one understands 'God' here as being money itself - which in any event is created as debt through fiat, fractional reserve lending and therefore as credit to the banks themselves - rather than the Christian God? 

The credit-crunch of 2008 saw a gigantic reduction in the monetary trust, i.e. credit, banks were willing to afford lenders and this lack of faith, as Darth Vader would say, was 'disturbing' to the normal functioning of financial and, consequently, economic life.

Addendum 1 - A new welfare 'benefit' called 'Universal Credit' is being rolled out in the Divided Sickdom where I have my residence. Etymologically, of course, 'universal credit' means 'universal belief', the belief in question obviously being the one in money, 'the one and only religion' as Mark Passio calls it.

Addendum 2 - I have written many blog posts on money and the money issue generally. Here are the majority of them listed in chronological order, from earliest to latest. 
  1. Truthfulness and Money
  2. Mass Mind Control Techniques
  3. Illusions perdues (poem)
  4. Money
  5. Welfare (poem)
  6. Money as Technology
  7. Money and Goods
  8. Money and Mon-eye
  9. Money as Consciousness
  10. Jobs and Money
  11. Rewards for Psychos, No Rewards for Empaths
  12. Ridiculous Nature of Speculative Markets
  13. How to Enslave
  14. Money as Satan's Currency
  15. Carrots and Ali G
  16. Spiritual Wealth
  17. Position on the Money Issue
  18. Lyrics Analysis: One Vision
  19. Black Magic as Inversion
  20. Money is not Love
  21. No Money in Philosophy
  22. Anti-conformity as Hypocrisy? 
  23. One Eyed Man and the Minions
  24. The Problem of Taxation - Importance of Morality
  25. Business is Business
  26. Does the Liberation of Money Liberate?
  27. Ethos for Saving Money: My Precious 

Monday, 30 October 2017

French (Mother) + German (Father) = English (Child)

Français + Deutsch = English
Mère + Vater = Child

In other words, the German language comes across as the stereotypically masculine, harsh, thrusting, disciplinarian quality of spirit (as exemplified by the prose of a Friedrich Nietzsche), French as the stereotypically feminine, tender, accommodating, nurturing one (as exemplified by the prose of a Marcel Proust) and English as a (felicitous) cross between the two, the child, incorporating both gendered polarities (as exemplified by the verse of a William Shakespeare), although at times leaning more towards one or the other, just as children are (very largely) born either male or female. 

Of course this is a somewhat meretricious thought really, not least given the fact that there are many other tongues to choose from for either their 'masculine' or 'feminine' properties - such as Russian or Italian - but from the viewpoint of the English language, German and French are of course linguistically and historically key. In addition, all three of these languages admit of a more or less masculine or feminine usage depending on the intent/context of the communication, the tone of the spoken voice or the style of the written word - in the wrong mouth or hand French can and does often sound very cold, distant and hostile whereas in the right mouth or hand German can and does often sound warm, welcoming and hospitable but I am of course dealing here in archetypal stereotypes or, as the case may be, stereotypical archetypes.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

The Internet as Apocalyptic Motor

I have already pointed to an esoteric aspect of the internet age in a previous post (God as Leviathan - The State as False God) but another occurred to me today: the internet can be read as an apocalyptic motor, i.e. as the prime enabler of the Apocalypse which, coming from the Greek verb ἀποκαλῦπτω, 'to reveal' - ἀπό meaning 'away from' and καλύπτω 'to conceal' - and the noun ἀποκάλυψις, means 'revelation' (and therefore what no longer escapes one's notice, what counts as 'true' in the Greek sense: τὸ ἀληθές - see Truth-telling and Factual Truth).

Indeed the internet has brought a great deal to light in all fields of human activity, including its most troubling, abhorrent forms in the shape of the 'dark web' that is admittedly more hidden, and enables the 'revelation' of both the content of the information it allows us to access - in a more or less controlled , sanitised or un-sanitised, way thanks to the algorithmic and other biases of various search engines - and of the nature of that information, that is to say, what it says about us as a species and where it fits on the tapestry of the human condition. 

[Concerning this last point, simply consider the variety of topics, opinions, areas, types of video that are put up on just one website, YouTube, that range all the way from fart videos by strangers to recorded university lectures by esteemed professors which, taken together, point to the wide spectrum of statements made and offered by our species - see, in this regard, Artistic Statement.]

Bearing in mind that duality is a principle intrinsic to creation, at least according to Mark Passio's Natural Law theory, this digitally fuelled apocalypse has a dark and a less dark side. 

[Philosopher Nietzsche sought to prepare the way for a philosophy 'beyond good and evil' back in 1886 but, as I argued in Relative Failure of the Nietzschean Project, it is doubtful whether we can or should do away with the concepts of 'good' and 'evil' and whether the dual nature of the universe, as allegedly first posited by the Persian thinker Zoroaster (Zarathustra), is something we can really change or do away with without too high a cost to our self and world understanding as well as our individual and collective well-being - see also Nietzsche's Position on Morality in Five Paragraphs.]

On the one hand (the left hand path), as I pointed out in God as Leviathan, the internet as a means of governmental surveillance and corporate machination is in itself an 'apocalypse' as it were of the thoughts, emotions, actions, preferences, personalities, sensibilities, habits, lifestyles, locations, professions, relationships of millions of human beings - at least, to those who have access to the techniques and technologies that enable the mining of the data we all provide in our (multifaceted) digital footprints. 

[The word 'mining' suggests bringing out a monetary or power-differential value from the bottomless pit of the apparently endless stream of trivial information offered by routine internet usage].

On the other hand (the right hand path), as I argued in my posts Spiritual Tyrants and the New World Order and Angels & Demons, is the fact that clarifications as to the essence of the human condition on a worldwide scale, while overwhelmingly be-shadowed by the mis-information of political agendas of all natures and natural human bias (see The Warfare of Standpoints - Truth as Necessary Error - Differently Formed Views), have been enabled by internet technology: many previously unknown facts have come to light such as, for example, the rigged nature of the banking credit system (see Mortgage as Phoney Contract, How to Enslave and Granting Rights) as well as various occult disclosures covered in previous posts (see, inter aliaEsoteric Wisdom with Mark Passio (1), (2) and (3)) and game-changing film interpretations such as those at (see also my Riddle from the Dark KnightAlien FilmsOscar Reflexivity, 12 Angry MenEdge of Tomorrow: Live, Die, RepeatEsotericism in the Film Cube, , Ethos of Revenge in Tarantino Movies, , Note on the ShiningScorcese Films as Morally Ambiguous, Butch from Pulp Fiction, Psychopathy and the Thing, Basic Instinct, One Eyed Man and the Minions, Team America: Dicks and Pussies). 

In a way, this phenomenon of witnessing and observing the (in-my-case-mainly-Anglo-American) world continuously unfold and express itself digitally fulfils a prophecy expressed by German thinker Martin Heidegger in his essay The Question Concerning Technology - the word 'prophecy' here understood as intending what is spoken forth in a revelatory way, the Greek προφητεύω being (apparently) formed from the combination of the preposition πρό - 'before', 'in front of' - with the verb φημί which means 'to declare' or 'make known' in its radical sense. 

In that text, Heidegger declared
"The saving power of technology lets man see and enter into the highest dignity of his essence. This dignity lies in keeping watch over the unconcealment [ἀλήθεια] of all coming to presence on this earth." 
[Literally, what on earth is happening.]

And, as I argued above, it is the internet of things and its world wide web that is enabling us to keep watch over this unconcealment or, better, daily apocalypse; but from both a power-driven, calculating angle in the shape of corporate-governmental data collection for purposes of control (fear) and a truth-seeking mindful disposition in the form of individual philosophical application with the aim of spreading enlightenment (love) - this last activity constituting what Mark Passio terms 'The Great Work'.

It would appear from all the above that the British rock band Muse have had their wish granted when they sang in Apocalypse Please (2003)
"it's time we saw a miracle, come on it's time for something biblical"
not to mention this lyric from the song Kashmir (1975) by the band Led Zeppelin according to which
"[...] elders of the gentle race [...] talk of days for which they sit and wait and all will be revealed." (my italics)
(For more on Zeppelin see Lyrics Analysis: New World Rising and on Rock generally The Devil's Music.)

Friday, 20 October 2017

Rabble Rousers

"The crowd likes best what sells in the market-place
And loud-mouthed force alone wins a slave's respect.
In gods and godhead only he can
Truly believe who himself is godlike."

- Hölderlin

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Esoteric Wisdom with Mark Passio (3): The Chakras and the Planets

Passio (website:, as part of his bringing occult concepts into the open, ties the planets visible to the naked eye (therefore no further than Saturn) to the chakras, i.e. energy centres based on glandular activity, of the human body. In the Hermetic tradition this is known as the principle of correspondence which can be summarised by the slogan 'as above, so below'. 

The All (or Whole) is reflected and contained in all its parts and each individual part reflects and contains the All (the Whole) (as Passio's introduction to his website states, 'Welcome, One and All'). In his very first podcast Passio understands this principle as meaning that
"our reality is self-similar across scales. It is fractal in nature. It is holographic."
This is the insight that guides the Delphic 'know thyself' injunction: all essential knowledge is self-knowledge (i.e. knowing who you are) and there is no grasping the mysteries of the universe without first grasping one's 'inner house'. The inscription at Delphi reads:
"Heed these words, you who wish to probe the depths of nature. If you do not find within yourself that which you seek, neither will you find it outside of yourself. If you ignore the wonders of your own house, how do you expect to find other wonders. In you is hidden the treasure of treasures. Know thyself and you will know the universe and the gods." (my italics)
The following considerations on the planets and chakras, by their nature reflecting the principle of correspondence, may therefore be helpful in the quest for self-understanding. 

Saturn = the root chakra. The root chakra was known by the Ancients as the Disciplinarian. Indeed, Saturn's orbit is the largest and encircles the orbits of all the other planets. Passio claims that those in the legal profession wear and don Saturnalian garb in terms of their uniforms and professional symbols - without consciously realising it of course (for blog posts related to this see Graduates & Cops as well as Esotericism in the Film Cube). 

Saturn (χρόνος in Greek which means 'time') is the father of all the other gods/planets and represents basic survival, things like motor skills and the fight or flight mechanism. While survival is the basic instinct on which all the others rest, it is not for all that the highest instinct (consider the homonymy between basic and base). 

Jupiter = the sacrum chakra which loosely corresponds to the genital area. Broadly speaking, this chakra represents desire, not only of a sexual kind but also of an intellectual, wanting-to-know type (what French philosopher Michel Foucault who, ironically, was very involved in alternative sexual practices, called 'la volonté de savoir'). At any rate, a core desire for wisdom (philosophy from the greek φιλοσοφία is traditionally translated as 'love of wisdom', see Thinking v Opining) is required to ascend in consciousness. This sort of fits in with Jupiter (desire) being the leader and king of the gods after his victory against Saturn and the Titans (survival). 

Mars = the solar plexus which loosely corresponds to the 'guts' area. This chakra represents courage and will-power (see Courage). Mars was the Roman god of war and of conquest. Courage or 'guts' is essential for the taking of action in the world but needs to be guided by the higher energy centres de-scribed below for it to be of a rightful rather than wrongful nature. 

The Earth-Moon complex (Greek Γαῖα or Roman Terra) = the heart chakra. It is not until I opened my heart chakra that I truly started to recover from my depressive illness (see Importance of the Heart). The heart chakra is at the middle point between the lower and the higher energy centres. It represents the love-care principle. Passio claims that this chakra's traditional colour is green, in correspondence with the colour of territorial nature and the midpoint on the spectrum of visible light (see Real Eyes - Real Lies). 

The heart chakra needs be activated for the higher chakras to come properly into force in their ethical aspect because without love or care, knowledge and intellectuality will be used only to control and dominate, as they largely are today (which is no doubt the meaning of the 'cremation of care' ritual at Bohemian Grove - see Skull and Bones). The way we desecrate and exploit the earth in the Modern World as well as the high incidence of heart disease not to mention the low status and (monetary) value accorded to caregiving roles in the West seem to be indicative of the fact that our cultures have yet to fully unlock their hearts and put the principle of care at the centre of their priorities.

Venus = the throat chakra which encapsulates the vocal chords. As Passio repeatedly states in his podcast series, 'the universe is spoken into existence' (although fans of Derrida will find this statement to be logocentric). At any rate what we think and feel usually comes to manifestation in the word, written or spoken. 

In the mythology of the Greeks and the Romans, Venus (feminine principle) and Mars (masculine principle) made love which can be seen as meaning that our words (Venus) need to be reflected in our actions (Mars) and vice-versa. 

Generally, what we care about and how we think is reflected in what we say (or don't say), itself reflecting our level of consciousness (cf. the quote from Eleanor Roosevelt according to which 'great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.' Of course, most people do a bit of all three). 

Mercury = the third eye chakra or pineal gland. Mercury was the messenger of the gods and is the planet closest to the sun. A mercurial temperament is said of someone who is used to engaging in higher, thought-based modalities of consciousness. The third eye represents true knowledge and true perception and was considered by philosopher René Descartes to be the seat of the soul. As a side-note, the Greek word αἴσθησις, which is the etymological root of our word 'aesthetics', signified intellectual perception, i.e. perception rooted in the third eye

The Sun = the crown chakra (Ἥλιος/Sol - Apollo). This is traditionally seen as the last chakra to open, in the long ascent to higher consciousness or enlightenment (see Ascending the Mountain of Enlightenment). 
"A sign is needed, Nothing else, plain and simple, so that sun and moon may be borne in mind, inseparable." - Hölderlin
Passio states that once your crown chakra is open, you can no longer be the object of control and manipulation or, as Heidegger phrases it in his Contributions to Philosophy (in the section entitled 'the future ones' or, in the earlier translation, 'the ones to come' - die Zukünftigen), '[cannot] be subjected to calculation and compulsion' due to standing in 'sovereign', i.e. 'genuine' knowledge.

This state of mind is called 'Christ' or 'Cosmic' consciousness by Passio, the only consciousness in a position to start healing the planet, for
"as long as we abide in partial darkness, we shall continue to be conquered."
In other words, only a true, human-wide evolution toward cosmic consciousness would be able to deliver us from the clutches of dominators and start the process of healing the planet and alleviating human plight. Short of that, we will continue to be condemned to 'the veil of tears' that has characterised the human condition as a whole for millennia. 

Monday, 16 October 2017

Thinkers' Names in Sein und Zeit

It has always struck me that in the German edition of Martin Heidegger's Being and Time, Sein und Zeit, the names of philosophers/thinkers are italicised, e.g. Hegel, Aristotle, Plato and so forth. 

In his Nietzsche lectures, Heidegger stated that in the context of these, the name 'Nietzsche' stood for the matter to be thought with regards that thinker. 

However there is another element in the name of thinkers, especially as italicised within the biblical prose of Sein und Zeit, is that they have been preserved in their renown (κλέος) like the names of Homeric Heroes, e.g. Achilles, Odysseus, Hector etc. 

Are the famous thinkers - Socrates, Kant, Heidegger himself - heroes? Is the reward of thinking greatly to have one's name stand for something out of the ordinary and preserved through time? 
"To head toward a star - this only."
Perhaps Martin Heidegger's philosophy is a philosophy aimed primarily at other thinkers or would-be thinkers, which would explain how he came to influence so many intellectuals of the twentieth century and has somewhat become a  'philosopher's philosopher'. 

What We Hate in Others

I remember seeing a Fox News presenter complaining about what he called 'snowflake' culture. It occurred to me that he was being demonstrably snowflake-ish, i.e. easily 'triggered', by his very need to rant about 'snowflake' culture. This reminded me of a quote I found on twitter
"What you hate in others, dear reader, is often your own nature reflected in them."
The question is: your higher or your lower nature?  Do you hate someone, in your heart of hearts, because they're vile or because they're noble, because they are bad or because they are good, because they're immoral or because they're moral - in short, because they trouble your good or your bad conscience?

Philosophical Deconstruction as Self-Deconstruction

"The three most powerful words in the English language are: I was wrong." - Mark Passio
 "Upside down world. - One criticises a thinker more severely when he advances a proposition we find unpleasing; and yet it would be more reasonable to do so when the proposition pleases us." - Nietzsche
In a YouTube video on French philosopher Jacques Derrida, the point was made that deconstruction in its original sense, which that philosopher popularised as a (methodological) concept among educated circles but owed to German thinker Martin Heidegger, is not so much about demolishing or showing the inadequacy of a view or phenomenon we don't like by, say, bringing its contradictions or even its immorality to light, but taking a look at the inadequacies and hypocrisies present in one's own preferred worldview, habits and drives.

That is to say genuine deconstruction is really self-deconstruction, not in the sense of talking oneself down or feeling inadequate, but evaluating one's own thinking, what psychologists call 'meta-thinking' (μετά meaning 'with'), and what I have sometimes referred to as conscience, the perception of your perception (see Lathoron, A Philosophical Dialogue, A Brief Anatomy of Perception, Definitions of Consciousness). 

In other words, whether or not this is what Derrida intended, it is a necessary philosophical step on the journey to wisdom to consider and admit to one's errors, injustices, blind spots and acknowledge the ways in which we've been led astray and the ways in which even our most hated and bitter opponents might actually have a 'point' or be responding or reacting (on the difference between response and reaction see Video Games as Reactive - Responding and Reacting - Responsibility) in a way they deem proportional (see Both Parties Right in Disagreement). Sadly this often means their resorting to and falling into verbal and physical abuse (see Consequences of Worldview) because there are no depths some will not sink to when seeing red or having their worldview and identity threatened (see Political Views & Identity). 

[As a side-note, the expression 'having a point' is interesting because it suggests something to do with the concept of point of view and that our point of view as expressed in our opinion is acknowledged by another as not being without merit (see Thinking v Opining).]

The 'Thoughts' section of ScruffyOwlet's Tree is no stranger to self-deconstruction even though it might appear as though I have strong views on things. For example, in my post The Warfare of Standpoints - Truth as Necessary Error - Differently Formed Views, I highlighted how anti-establishment discourses had somewhat skewed my judgement for a number of years and my engagement with them was not entirely to do with a disinterested desire for truth. In another post, The More You Know the Less You Think You Know, I went as far at to define knowledge as continual life learning (and therefore also unlearning).

Self-deconstruction requires a magnanimous (on magnanimity see Five Sentences from The Thinker as Poet), secure sense of self that does not overly identify with one's point of view but is open to amendment and falsification in keeping with the insight that a point of view is only a point of view, a dot on a circle as it were, and therefore can never amount to the 'whole' truth and often may be a dot that doesn't touch the circle of life at all (see One Simply Doesn't KnowMy Rubbish, You Are Entitled to Hate Me)

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Morality & Social Acceptability - The Morality of Morality

My previous writing, Ideology and Cruelty, inadvertently brought to mind a matter related to ideology which is the link between (im)morality and social acceptability, which in turn raises the question of whether morality is a purely social construct, has its roots in binding metaphysical laws (as Natural Law theorists would argue) or is a mere individual choice (or a bit of all three).

Views on and ways to evaluate and judge different kinds of action vary - from polity to polity and even from individual to individual. There are indeed different and competing bases for moral evaluation, some based in philosophical liberalism, according to which intentionally bringing harm to others is a wrong, and others in more religious and indeed superstitious mechanisms of approval and disapproval.

For example, female circumcision is (rightly) viewed as barbaric and immoral by most Westerners (largely because it causes bodily harm to the girls in question and, to most Westerners, is an abhorrent form of enforced female subjugation) but the practice is nonetheless for its part also founded on ideas of right and wrong by those involved, only in terms of a different model of morality which is based, less on the presence and absence of physically inflicted harm, but on considerations of religious 'purity' and the 'harm' that would result in displeasing 'god' by having women experience too much sexual pleasure.

Indeed, in Plato's Euthyphro, morality is defined by the eponymous character as 'what is pleasing to the gods', not in modern secular terms of harm and victim and in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche claims that every 'people' has its own language of good and evil, which language enables it to survive and cohere as a community.

It would appear, therefore, that the what and why of morality are related, at least for Nietzsche. Put differently, the content of a community's moral instructions is related and possibly even determined by extra-moral considerations, whether consciously or unconsciously, such as the need to be able to survive in a competitive world or defend oneself from enemies at the gates.

Yet, even though functionalist, teleological models for understanding moral principles have their use and explanatory power, it is also the case that moral concepts are often exploited and perverted (and even inverted) for 'immoral', i.e. selfish, reasons, such as, classically, to gain a power and wealth advantage over others (see, for instance, Economy and MoralityLimitations of the Work Ethic as Moral Paradigm and Evil as Test).

Thus we may need to consider the morality of morality in order to critically consider questions such as
  1. whether or not competing and often incompatible standards of moral evaluation (such as positive or negative models of moral duty which decide whether one has to do good or merely refrain from doing bad or simply whether or not philosophical-secular models of morality are more moral than, say, religiously determined ones) are of equal or unequal worth/validity and in whose favour.
  2. whether the position of so-called moral relativists - who believe that, given morality is determined by what is socially acceptable or unacceptable, and that this varies in both time and space, good and bad are not 'objectively' different, only 'relatively' - is itself moral, amoral or immoral.
  3. whether or not one's own moral views are politically motivated or emotionally determined, overlooking ways in which those views may in fact be hiding immoral or at least amoral drives and potentially result in harm as well as be blind to what I call 'one's own brand of injustice' (see Ideology and Cruelty).
  4. whether the stated and practiced morality of one's community - e.g. the employment ethic - is in fact moral and to what extent (see, for instance, Economy v Morality and Limitations of the Work Ethic as Moral Paradigm).
Of course the difficulty is finding an adequate basis for making pronouncements on the morality of morality, which basis may have little to do with purely moral concerns as opposed to being governed by one's personal preferences and sensibility (see Knowledge and Sensibility), wrongly believing that 'what is good for me is good as such'.

For example, many in power and at a ground level subscribe to the view that 'greed is good' - a clear departure from theological orthodoxy - (cf. Individual v Societal Maladjustment) because they believe that it leads to positive 'economic' (and therefore social?) outcomes (for my take on 'economics' see Economy v Morality, Economics as Silent Weapon, Economic-less, Economics as Domestication) but the question remains: for whom? Everyone or simply those who hold that view (and even them)?

While the realm of what is socially acceptable in a polity and therefore what is not deemed immoral is historically variable, - witness the anti-sodomy laws in the recent past of England - the mere fact that (public) morality is not fixed and unanimous does not equate to it being based on the pure caprice of an entirely solipsistic and self-serving nature nor that it is entirely manipulated by a psychopathic ruling class.

It remains that for non moral relativists, i.e. moral absolutists, just because something is socially acceptable does not mean it is moral and just because something is socially unacceptable does not mean it is immoral. Mark Passio, for example, is a moral absolutist and deems socially acceptable institutions like the police and the military to be highly immoral, calling 'order-following' the cult of ultimate evil.

However, it can be a good exercise to sometimes refrain from immediately making moral evaluations/condemnations and try to consider the amoral dynamics at work in apparently immoral (understood as harmful) phenomena such as, say, institutional and financial corruption (an approach used to a certain extent in the sociological book How Corrupt is Britain? despite the moral overtones of the word 'corrupt' and in Nietzsche's psychological genealogies of moral concepts - on which see A Fresh Look at Genealogy of Morality). 

To provisionally conclude the above considerations, we can ask ourselves the extent to which moral considerations are necessary and even desirable, whether adopting a moral lens or paradigm according to which we evaluate and condemn the actions of others is always (morally) required and whether amoral angles on apparently moral, which is to say also immoral, phenomena can help us in our self-understanding and therefore level of fair-mindedness - so that we become, paradoxically, more moral, at least when it comes to (my) chosen standards of philosophical honesty and magnanimity (concerning magnanimity and thinking see Five Sentences from the Thinker as Poet - for a take on amorality see Amorality of Nature - Knowledge of Good and Evil - for my view of Nietzsche's view of morality see Nietzsche's Position on Morality in Five Paragraphs).