A Short Meditation on Philosophy

So, I started doing a graduate school application and ended up writing a short philosophy paper instead.

Any proper philosophical enquiry into any theme should start with an adequate definition of the terms in question, to avoid ambiguity. In the question at hand, namely why I, indeed why anyone, would desire to continue his or her studies in philosophy, defining this term is crucial to the whole question. From the word itself, philosophy is, as the Greek φιλοσοφία suggests, the love and subsequent pursuit of wisdom. It is, in other words, the search for the Logos in human existence, that overarching and underlying reason and structure which outlines the truths that are beneficial to the person. This definition commits one to certain other concepts, specifically the idea that, first of all, that truth exists. Those who seek wisdom had better believe that wisdom actually exists. Second, it commits the person to the Principle of Intelligibility, i.e. that we can know this truth.

This interpretive key in considering philosophy in the following manner immediately makes one aware to the fact that, going by the definition of those who coined the words, much of today’s philosophy is not, in fact, philosophy. Not only is there the question of objectivity and objective knowledge to consider, but the question of perspective. The ancient philosophers saw truth as the correspondence to ultimate reality, the objective judge to our own subjective thoughts and experiences, in accordance with which a thought is either correct and, therefore, true, or otherwise doomed to be incorrect and antithetical to the pursuit of wisdom.

Due to shifts in modern philosophy, of which Descartes seems to be the ultimate culprit, this definition has shifted. Whereas Plato and Aristotle judged themselves by the objective reality of the world, Descartes judged the whole world on the basis of his own experience in his famous cogito ergo sum in his Discourse on Method. Though seemingly unproblematic and in accordance to the teachings of Socrates, who instructed all his students to judge all things by reason, this idea departs its follower from the true pursuit of wisdom. After all, Socrates did also council to first have that same hermeneutic of suspicion toward the thinker himself. In the Meno, Plato reminds us to always question, before everything else, our own knowledge. Meno tells Socrates that he has mesmerized him and Socrates shows, through teaching his slave some basic geometry, that unless that first reaction of being lost is present, anyone would go on making speeches about how doubling the sides of a square makes its area double in size.

Under this frame lies a debate which has not much been explored, the question about which of the following two statements better describes one’s attitude toward philosophy and, perhaps, all things in life; Socrates’ γνώθι σαυτόν or Descartes’ cogito ergo sum. One asks for an initial introspection into the thinker, before one’s thoughts can be trusted. The other takes the existence of his thoughts as the hinge upon which all reality is hung.

Descartes teaches that all have privileged mental access to their own minds, saying that there could never be a thought that is hidden from the thinker. Socrates, on the other hand, presents a picture of the human soul that is shrouded in mystery. He goes so far as to say that all learning is, in fact, remembering. In short, he tells us that we are, deep inside, gifted with great wisdom, but that we have forgotten it and have sold ourselves short. This fits perfectly with the imagery of the cave in the Republic, where all men are brought into the world inside the cave, looking at shadows cast by puppets in front of a fireplace, not even able to see themselves.

Luckily, there is a way out of that initial darkness. When the prisoners realize that there must be more behind them, casting the shadows on the wall of the cave, there are able to see a way out, though it is long and difficult and, through the entrance to the cave, as a singe dart, pierce the pure rays of the Sun. Philosophy, then, requires the person to first climb out of the cave and into the plain which is illumined by that Sun, so the person may know first who he is and who the Sun is and then to go back into the cave and bring the others into the Sun as well.

However, this process comes with great risks, because one does not know what is outside the cave. Suppose, for example, that there are terrifying wild beasts roaming through the plain. Even worse, imagine if, upon coming out of the cave, the person discovers that they are themselves the terrifying beast. In yet another worst-case scenario, what if, upon coming out of the cave, they become the wild beast and seek to bring all that is out there under their own dominion. The aforementioned three worst-case scenarios are three attitudes that are antithetical to philosophy. The first is timidity and comfort, the view that what one has now is enough and that there is probably nothing more to discover. The second is the outlook of Machiavelli, who invites us to throw off the idea that our standard should be the God made Man of Christianity or even the half-man who has overcome the half-beast of Classical wisdom in Chiron, but the lion and the fox. The third is the outlook of Francis Bacon, Nietzsche, Sartre, et al., who invite us to bring nature and all that is in it under our dominion.

It is easy to accept that we must throw off the third view in order to develop philosophy, but the other two seem to be less relenting. What if there really are beasts roaming all but the cave? The answer to this view is love. Socrates first loves wisdom, then he can know it and his reward for this courageous jump is death. Yet, he is willing to continue in his path no matter what the consequences are, accepting as a lesser evil to die rather than to not keep onto the true path. However, what if we really are a beast, capable of nothing more than devouring? The answer to this view is self-control. For better or for worse, humankind can, always, though some times the struggle is of Herculean proportions, stop itself. Unless one exercises self-control, then they will never make it out of the cave. If they seek to voraciously charge into the unknown, they will probably bash themselves on the rocks or fall into a precipice.

All three attitudes can be refuted by one word, ethics. This is the one area of philosophy that no one can escape and, surprisingly, the one area of philosophy that, with the combined ideology of Machiavelli’s beastly teaching and Descartes’ internalistic picture of the world is most at peril in our culture. Nietzsche and Sartre strike at this very heart of philosophy and discover that, once it has been removed, philosophy itself becomes little more than mockery. Nietzsche advises his reader to go beyond good and evil into a new existence, which renders him limitless, but every attempt to put his work into practice has ended in horrific failure, even his own. Bacon invites his reader to put nature under the rack until she spits our all her secrets, but nature, that ever-cunning mistress, retreats only to entice him to pursue her further, ultimately ending in a horrific double-envelopment on her part which, on the contrary of forcing her to tell all her secrets, brings out the monstrosity of “men-without-chests.”

Instead, the Medieval Scholastic tradition of the West and the Eastern Patristic writings, in one breath, invite the person to have a sacramental and reverential view of the whole world. Some might be shocked to find out that this is also a Platonic teaching, to be found in the Symposium, in Eryximachus’ speech, who says that love occurs everywhere in the universe. It follows from that idea that love is the correct attitude toward all things. Ethics, therefore, maps out how that love is to be exhibited toward each thing. Only through this view can anyone ever reach true wisdom.

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Third Man Argument Response: The Better Version

Hey guys, I know I posted something on this already, but this is the better, more scholarly essay that I had to write on it. As always, plagiarism is not cool.

What has come to be known as the Third Man Argument (TMA) has brought scholars of Plato and philosophers at large many headaches, due to the seeming end that it brings to the Platonic Theory of Forms. The most puzzling part is that it is included in the Platonic corpus itself, so it seems that there must be a solution to it, that it is a challenge from Plato beyond the grave to his philosophical successors. This paper will outline that one of the premises of the argument is not faithful to the Platonic corpus  and that there are at least two ways to solve the argument, thereby dissolving the infinite regress and keeping Plato’s theory of Forms intact.

The TMA (Parmenides 132a1-b2), relies on two basic principles. First, the Principle of Abstraction, i.e. that for every property F there must be a Form, F-ness, through which all objects with F get that property[1]. There are multiple places in the Platonic corpus where this is affirmed. The second principle, hereby to be referred as the Feedback Principle, asserts that the idea of F-ness and all the objects that it substantiates form a new class of things with the property F[2]. The Feedback Principle is drawn out of two hidden axioms, namely Non-Identity, which follows directly from Separation, and Self-Predication.

The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy cites four instances[3] in the Platonic corpus from which this principle can be concluded, however, in analysing them, the issue of pulling out the Principle of Separation is problematic. The first speaks about the doctrine of recollection, the central idea in the Meno, by which we have knowledge of the Forms, with the mention of “the Beautiful itself, the Good itself…[4]” The second quotation, also from the Phaedo makes the same mention, but its content does not relate to Separation. The third and fourth quotations are thematically very close, with the fourth one pointing out that there is a difference between those who love “beautiful sounds and colours” and those who love “the beautiful itself[5].” None of the four give sufficient evidence to postulate Separation. Rather, they indicate that there is a difference between an instance of a Form being substantiated in a sensible object and the Form itself. The last quotation makes the additional point that, even though, on the Metaphysical level, the Form is the first principle used to understand objects that instantiate it, on the Epistemic level, the formulation of it itself is the last step[6].

As if that were not enough to damn Separation (and with it Non-Identity[7]), there is the additional difficulty that, when taken together with the Principle of Self-Predication, they are mutually exclusive. If F-ness is an F, and yet is not one of the objects that begets F through F-ness, then it is obvious that there is an infinite regress, but to state the argument in such terms is to beg the question, because the strongest claim one can make about Separation, while still remaining faithful to the Platonic corpus is that “The F is itself by itself, at least in the sense of being separate from, and hence not identical with, the things that partake of it.[8]” It is obvious that F-ness is not identical with the (other) things it instantiates, but that does not mean that it is not an instance of instantiation itself. This points to the idea of degrees in instantiation, by which the Form is not perfectly instantiated in every object that has that property, but is instantiated perfectly in itself[9]. To deal with this concept at length would be to stray from the TMA, therefore, one must come back to it.

Be the issue with Separation as it may, there is an additional problem with the TMA, namely, the issue of the property of the ‘new Form’ formulated by the Feedback Principle. The expanded set with every object that has the property F and F-ness itself bring forth a ‘new Form’, F-ness1. However, it follows from this principle that F-ness is not an F, but rather an F1 and so on and so forth ad infinitum. In this case, if F-ness is, in fact, not an F but and F1, it cannot be included in the expanded set, because it is not one of the things which has the property F. To simply assume that F-ness gets the property of being F from F1 etc., would be to assume that one needs more than one Form for each property, but this is the conclusion of the TMA in proving that the Uniqueness Principle, i.e. that there is only one Form corresponding to each property F[10], is wrong. If so, to include it as an enthymic premise makes the argument invalid[11]. If the property which F-ness1 represents is any different than property of F-ness, then the argument makes no sense, if it is the same, then the argument is circular, because it assumes what it is trying to prove.

That being said, the reading that Self-Predication necessitates Self-Participation means that the Forms have to be understood (in terms of instilling the property F) as being a non-well-founded set. Though under Russell’s theory a set of the kind Ω={Ω}, would be an absurdity[12], Aczel introduces a variation of the Zermelo-Fraenkel plus the axiom of choice theory with the anti-foundation axiom[13] by using which one can keep the theory of the Forms consistent. Schweizer explains the contribution of this theory as follows:

This object induces an infinite descending chain of membership, but it is nonetheless hereditarily finite, since each member of the chain has only one element. ZFC, with the axiom of foundation replaced by the AFA, is provably consistent relative to the original system. Thus circularity is formally absolved … and the world of ‘hypersets’ is rendered just as axiomatically secure as the cumulative hierarchy[14].

By implementing this method, therefore, there is a consistent way to understand the Theory of Forms in terms of Self-Predication and Self-Participation, which leaves no room for the TMA.

That being said, it seems that Parmenides’ argument rests on one other shaky premise, namely the idea that being able to think about a scenario is suitable grounding for positing that such a thing exists. Even if the TMA were logically consistent, simply the fact that one can think of an infinite regression of Forms in not sufficient reasoning to postulate that this regress exists. However, to introduce this principle is to open the door to Nominalist criticism, because to implement a weak limit for the sets that correspond to Universals necessitates that it be defended from the stronger claim that no sets correspond to Universals as well as the idea that all sets do. The answer to both sides is functionality.

First, it is quite clear that Universals are necessary as a means of language. Let us take ‘red’ as an example. The Nominalist would argue that there is no such one thing as ‘red’ that one can pick out. We can talk about a chair being ‘red,’ but that definition of ‘red’ would have to be loose, because even a chair seemingly identical to it would be a slightly different kind of red. This, however, is explained within the Platonic corpus as Impurity-S, namely that, “sensible things are impure inasmuch as they can (and, in fact, often do) have contrary properties.[15]” The reason why most of the red things witnessed on Earth are different from most others is because their pigment is some mixture between red and other colours. In trying to produce colours digitally, the RGB model uses red, blue, and green in varying degrees in order to represent all colours. One has to abstract, out of the idea that there are many things that one would classify as red (that is, colours made up mostly by red), that there is a perfect or pure red that is not mixed with any other colour. Unless there is such a kind of red, it would not make sense to posit that we can mix red with other colours to produce mixtures. In fact, in recreating images in television or computers, one would have to otherwise log an infinity of colours as primitive, whereas this ‘flowing’ chart is simpler and works better.

In addition, there are cases where one can only speak in abstractions, thereby necessitating that there be Forms in order to be able to communicate about a scenario. The scenario B proposes in Max Black’s “The Identity of Indiscernibles” goes a long way in illustrating this case. In this possible world, there are two spheres, both made of chemical iron, both the same temperature and colour, both having one mile diameters, etc.[16] There would be no way to talk about them except by abstractions, which is to say, except by appealing to the Forms. As Black illustrates, one cannot pick one sphere and name it, because there is no reference to which sphere the name applies as opposed to the other. Nonetheless, one can say that they are both spheres, that they are both made out of iron, etc. However, in order for those statements to bear any meaning, there needs to be a Form of the sphere, the perfect sphere, by which one can discern that these two objects are spheres. Therefore, if the Nominalist wants to keep intact his ideology that there are no Universals, he would either have to say that the postulation of such a world is impossible, because the string of words “there are two spheres” has no meaning, or otherwise accept that words such as ‘sphere’ are necessary out of the convention of language, but that they have no intrinsic meaning, at which point we would be back to square one. Because the Forms have a function, i.e. of picking out the perfect or pure red that is mixed in order to make colours in nature, or the perfect sphere from which one can discern spheres, they have a function, whereas the expanded sets of the Universals do not derive any function and are, therefore, unnecessary. If they are unnecessary, one need not postulate them.

In conclusion, the TMA breaks down because the Principle of Non-Identity is drawn from a Principle of Separation that does not faithfully follow the Platonic corpus, which allows and indeed requires for the Forms to be Self-Participating if they have are instances of Self-Predicament. If this is so, the expanded sets, and with them the infinite regression of Forms, are dissolved. Forms, then, are instances of non-well-founded sets as defined by Aczel. Nonetheless, Parmenides’ argument against the Forms is problematic in that simply being able to think of the expanded sets does not give sufficient reason to believe they exist, since the expanded sets have no function. In saying this, it may seem to open the road for a Nominalist criticism, but the Forms are necessary as reference points to reality, therefore, one cannot extract them without damaging both language and philosophy.

Works Cited

Aczel, P., Non-Well-Founded Sets, Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford University, Lecture Notes Number 14, 1988.

Black, Max. “The Identity of Indiscernibles.” Mind 61.242 (1952): 153-64. JSTOR. Web. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/2252291&gt;.

McInerny, Ralph.  “Are There Moral Truths that Everyone Knows?” in E. McLean (Ed.),  Common Truths. (Wilmington: Intercollegiate Studies Institute Books, 1999), pp. 1-15.

Plato. Plato: Complete Works. Ed. John M. Cooper. Indianapolis, Indiana: Hacket, 1997. Print.

Rickless, Samuel, “Plato’s Parmenides“, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2012/entries/plato-parmenides/&gt;.

Schweizer, Peter. “Self-Predication and the Third Man.” Erkenntnis 40.1 (1994): 21-42. JSTOR. Web. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/20012526&gt;.


[1] P. Schweizer, “Self-Predication and the Third Man”, pg. 23

[2] ibid.

[3] Phaedo 75c11–d2, 100b6–7; Republic 476b10, 480a11

[4] Phaedo, 75c11-d2

[5] Republic, 480a11

[6] R. McInerny,, “Are there Moral Truths That Everyone Knows?” pg. 14. The article has no relation to TMA, however, it outlines why it must be that, though the principle has to come first and be used to distinguish instances of it, the formulation of the principle, abstracted from particular instances, comes last.

[7] SEP, Parmenides

[8] Ibid.

[9] P. Schweizer, “Self-Predication and the Third Man”, pg. 34

[10] SEP, Parmenides

11 P. Schweizer, “Self-Predication and the Third Man”, pp. 27-28

[12] Ibid. pg. 38

[13]P. Aczel, Non-Well-Founded Sets, Lecture Notes Nr. 14

[14]P. Schweizer, “Self-Predication and the Third Man”, pg. 38

[15] SEP, Parmenides

[16] M. Black, “The Identity of Indiscernibles” pg. 156

On Whether the Body and Soul are One or Two Things

So, I thought about writing this post because I heard an anecdote recently about an Oxford professor that was, so the story goes, a model Platonist, so much so that his students would say, “Professor So-and-so does not go for a walk, he takes his body for a walk.” I get the joke and I find it very funny, but I also see a need to underline exactly what Plato meant concerning the primacy of the spiritual and the separation between body and soul.

The pure Platonist argues that it is the job of all those seeking wisdom to separate their soul from their body, because the soul is pure and uniform, whereas the body is complex and confuses the soul. He argues this from empirical fact, because there are not that many people who have not experienced a situation where they have had a really good idea, but instead of developing it have gone to sleep and then have forgotten it (or other such scenarios), or have been in a situation where they were fully willing to do something good, but they were too tired, or too hungry, etc. and their body has limited their ability to perform that good deed. He argues that that is because all matter is an imperfect instantiation of the Forms and, as so, corruptible. On the other hand, the soul is simple, incorruptible, and a receptacle of the Forms, which means that, with a lot of hard work, it can become perfect.

The Christian Platonist, however, (if you have not noticed that I belong to this grouping of Platonism, this is a formal admit ion) can delve even deeper into the question of the matter being imperfect and fallen. The Chrisitan believes that through the fall of man, which knocked the relationship between God and the world out of synch, all nature fell and, therefore, all nature is imperfect and corruptible. Especially for humans, the reason why the body confuses the soul is because the soul is distorted through the fall of man and, because the soul is the formal cause of the body (borrowing that out of Aristotle, but I do no think Plato would disagree), the human starts of at a disadvantage, with his body and soul out of tune. Of course, through the Way, the Christian begins to repair his soul, so to speak, but the body remains caused by the initial fallen nature. For this reason, the body becomes out of tune with the soul and, henceforth, confuses the soul.

All that being said, we return to the issue of whether the body and soul are two things, as Descartes would argue, or whether they are one thing as Aristotle, Christianity, and everyone under the sun until Descartes would argue. Granted, Plato does not clearly choose either side over the other, but the way Aristotle states that the body and soul are one think in De Anima leads one to believe that this was the consensus during that time and, therefore, assume that Plato would also have agreed with such a concept. Dualism does not shoot out of the woodwork until Descartes tries to reverse the whole point of Classical and Medieval philosophy, whose guiding principle is to bring the soul (subjective, internal) in tune with ultimate reality (objective, external). Descartes, instead, opts to bring ultimate reality under the test of subjective experience (this, by the way, is the culprit to accuse for the rise of subjectivism in modern times).

That said, an explanation is needed about how to interpret the many points in the Platonic corpus, especially in the Phaedo about the separation between soul and body. When Plato tells his students that they must work always to separate the soul and body, it seems much more straightforward, and therefore much more counter-cultural to today, than many established experts would have us believe. It is, very clearly, a call to abandon carnal pleasures in an attempt to rightly order desires. If one reads Middle Platonism (Plutarch for example), this point is so hammered that it starts turning into beating a dead horse if you keep reading for prolonged amounts of time. Of course, many of the current Plato experts (not to be confused with Platonists) believe that they just need to read some Platonic dialogues and absolutely nothing from all the Platonists from Plato (including Aristotle) to today  in order to understand what Plato is saying, they believe in “Platonic inspiration” (similar to the kind that Ion experienced), so to speak. This, however, does not seem to indicate that the body and soul are distinct things.

Consider this example; many people today may rightly tell most of the Western population to separate their heads from their anal cavity. However, it does not follow that, since good and wise people are calling for a separation of the head from the colon, the head and the colon must be distinct entities. Surely, they are distinct parts, that’s why they belong separate from one another, but they are both parts of the body.

Same with body and soul in relation to the person. Though Plato hammers time and time again that it is the soul that is the most important thing about the person, that if you have to choose between saving your body and saving your soul, that saving your soul should always be the priority, it does not mean that they are separate things. If I have to choose between losing a hand and losing my liver, I’ll choose my hand any day of the week, even though a very silly person would think they need to hand (because they see themselves using it more) more than the liver (which they cannot see).

I think that the rise of materialism as the philosophical orthodoxy in philosophy of the mind and the rise of this misunderstanding about Plato’s psychology, as well as the rise of Cartesian dualism (to which people retroactively relate Plato), I think comes from one and the same source. They are, in fact, related. Augustine says (I forget the book, I can find out if someone asks) that the reason why some people believe that the soul is material or that an immaterial soul cannot exist is because they are so accustomed to thinking in terms of material things that they cannot expand their thoughts to immaterial things, they cannot quite conceptualize something that, by definition, cannot be visualized. This is at the root of questions which, in the minds of materialists, seem to disprove the existence of souls (or immaterial entities to begin with), such as, “What does a soul look like?” or “Where is the soul?” This is also at the heart of Descartes’ theory of mind, in my humble opinion. He makes a cut between matter and mind that is far too distinct for my liking. Of course, he further complicates the matter because he brings objective existence to judgment before his subjective experience, which is, in my opinion, the beginning of subjectivity and relativism, because the new standard is subjective experience. However, for the Discourse on Method to work, there needs to be a sharp distinction between body and mind, because otherwise cogito ergo sum also proves that his body exist (soul and body are one thing) and, therefore, that the whole world exists, because his sense perception (or matter in general) has no intentionality to lie. In other words, it comes down to Aristotle’s brief disproval of Descartes’ theory (I forget the book again), where Aristotle says that we can know nature exists because there is no reason to doubt sense-perception (rather, there is reason to doubt anywhere were interpretation comes into play).

 

In short, there is a link between the misunderstanding that the body and the soul are two things instead of one thing which has given rise to modern relativism and subjectivism. If you need someone to thank for that, look at Renee Descartes.

 

Why did I make you read all those words when I could just have put up the last two lines?

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33 Reasons Why 33 anledningar Is Not Really a Feminist: A Response to 33 Reasons to be a Feminist

So, a blog post titled “33 Reasons to Be a Feminist” has been going around the internet and it is about time for us to look at those reasons and see if they are not only valid, but whether they make a case for feminism, or something else.

#1: Because this type of violence-glorifying and misogynistic commercials is not unusual and get to exist in our society without many reactions.

Dolce&Gabbana

I’d argue that, though this as is a disgrace, it is not misogynistic. The only thing going on is that the man is holding the girl’s arm down, but it does not seem as if she is disliking it or is being discomforted in any way. It is dangerous to read our ideologies into everything we see. What is disgusting about this ad is the amount of sexualization going on. By the way, if I may venture a guess about why someone would assume this ad was misogynistic, it is also very dangerous to turn sex into power.

In those who believe in love (admittedly in modern philosophy those people are few, but it does not mean they are not right), sex is (or should be) participation in the other as other, willful self-giving to the other. If we start interpreting a touch, a look, etc. as establishing dominance, then we should be falling into the same absurdity of those medievals who said God wanted you to only use the missionary position, except that we would fall on the opposite extreme. Let sex be sex, let us not stick our ideologies into the deed itself and leave positions to the discretion of the partners themselves.

#2: Because women don’t get to decide over their own bodies. (Picture says, “77% of anti-abortion women are men. 100% of them will never be pregnant.”)

I think it rather intriguing that abortion has been, recently, laid out as a women’s issue exclusively. It is quite clear to anyone with half a brain that abortion, whether it is permissible or not, is a human rights issue, because it affects both the sexes. If it is not permissible, i.e. if what is aborted is living human beings, then it is quite obvious why it is a human rights issue, because babies of both sexes are aborted. However, even if it is  permissible, because the fetus (or whatever else you may want to call it) has as its cause the sexual union between a man and a woman and, therefore, a man is just as responsible as a woman for it.

I do not know a statistic of how many pro-abortion leaders are male (let’s see, Harry Reid and our Vice-President come to mind), but I cannot say that I am surprised that there are so many male anti-abortion leaders. It is worthwhile to say that, given how they believe that male and female babies are being killed in abortion, they have a perfectly legally consistent position. Imagine if a group of Christians was protesting against the Holocaust, would it make any sense to say that, since they would not run the risk to go to a concentration camp because they were not Jewish they did not have the right to protest the existence of concentration camps? Of course not and the same logic stands for this case also.

That said, feminists need to understand that abortion has done a great service to cowardly men throughout the world. There are many women who walk into the halls of Planned Parenthood that are being sent there from their abusive boyfriends or husbands because they do not want to take responsibility for the baby they had just as much responsibility as their partner for bringing into the world. In other words, abortion is doing a great service to people antithetical to the feminist movement.

Another thing that bothers me is the fact that there are many sex-selective abortions in the US. There are cases where an abortion is sought for the sex of the baby, most usually because it is female. Now, I might be wrong, but there are two possibilities here as to why it could happen. One, the mother herself does not feel happy about having a daughter, which is highly unlikely. Two, she is being pressured by whoever to kill the girl inside her womb in favor of a male child. You could see how feminists might have a problem with this. Heck, you could see how any  person would have a problem with this, seeing how an imbalance between men and women brings societal problems for the next generation. Of course, this is one of the many reasons why groups like Feminists for Life exist, whom I would argue are true feminists today (incidentally, they are usually more kind and friendly and level-headed than radical pro-abortion feminists today).  Anyway, you think I don’t have any evidence that this is happening? Well, see for yourself, here.

Lastly, it is unfair to phrase this issue as “women deciding over their own bodies” and to say that people who are against abortions (I find that keeping is simply “pro-abortion” and “against abortion” avoids all the pit-falls of using names that stir up emotion) are denying their right to decide over their bodies, because the people who are against abortions have as their basic premise the idea that the thing aborted is not, in fact, part of the woman’s body, but a distinct person with a distinct DNA. If the contrary is proven, I don’t think anyone would have a problem with abortion or with women making decisions for their own bodies.

#3: Because women are constantly sexualized and objectified, while men get credit for their skills and professions.

Let’s be honest for a second, though the sexualization of culture we see today is morally and aesthetically repugnant, the knife cuts both ways. Men and women are both sexualized, though I have no problem saying that women are, perhaps, sexualized more. Consider, for example, the movie 300 and the decision to have the Greeks fight basically naked with perfectly sculpted bodies. G. K. Chesterton says that it is quite clear that our culture is over-sexualized from the very fact that there are strippers (of both genders) that, basically, make a living out of sexual objectification. Consider if you went to a place where they rolled out a big dish that was covered and slowly pulled back the thing covering it to the crowd’s wild jubilation and the raining down of sweaty $1 bills, would you not consider that crowd to be in need of therapy?

I am sorry, but I have to hold my ground here, there is sexual objectification both ways and it is despicable.

#4 and #5: The recent Facebook scandal about women breastfeeding/charts of the female anatomy being not allowed to be posted, whereas groups advocating and romanticizing rape being protected.

Is what those young boys are doing on Facebook wrong? By God, it is. Should they be banned and prosecuted? By all means, Facebook is protecting them as a choice, they don’t have to guarantee First Amendment rights to their users (I am pretty sure, but not certain of this). That said, to say that Facebook controversies are a reason to be a feminist is downplaying feminism as such.

#6: Because 97% of rapists never have to spend a single day in jail.

I’d love to have had some kind of a source for this statistic, so that I could look into the intricacies of what it said (statistics can be hard to analyze), but if it is true, I think this is a very sad occurrence. However, rape, much like abortion, is not a women’s issue, but a human issue. Men as well as women need to have a very clear stance against sexual assault of any kind and to say that women should be the only ones being outraged by this statistic is, in fact, male chauvinism, though I understand that the author did not intend it as such. Nonetheless, ideas have consequences.

#7: Because model agencies are scouting models outside of anorexia clinics.

This one seems viable and I am all for women and men alike taking a stance against the media-sanction standard for beauty these days, but to reduce feminism to simply protecting the outer image of the woman seems, to me at least, a reduction that does not reflect correctly on the work of feminists to this day.

#8: Because women are being discriminated against in the workplace because they have children or may have children in the future.

I perfectly agree with this one. This is perfectly consistent with the job that feminists have been doing throughout the last century and it is the duty of both men and women today to keep up that work. I have no problem standing up for the rights of women, but especially for the rights of mothers, since I see that their reputation is disrespected far and wide in today’s culture. Sadly, many radical feminists are somehow uncomfortable when it comes to speaking about the esteemed place of mothers in our society.

#9: Because women still make less money for doing the same job as men.

I know that this has always been a hot-button issue. I think that we’d have to investigate on a case-by-case basis on this one. I will not deny that this happens in many places, however, many places have amended their ways.

#10: Because there are parts of the world where women get punished after being sexually assaulted.

I have to disagree here. Classifying yourself as a Feminist so as to believe that you have actually done something for these poor women does not help anyone other than your own ego. If someone feels passionate about these women, then let them help them and, I should mention here, all the great women who have done much to help women from other countries and other cultures be treated with basic human dignity. However, believing that calling yourself a Feminist so as to stand in fake solidarity with this women is nothing that alleviating one’s own discomfort and feeding one’s own ego without doing anything to help these women who need help so desperately.

#11: Because there are actually people who think it’s not rape if the person is sleeping.

That is true and that is sad. However, rape does not only affect women, so this is also not a women’s only issue.

#12: Because 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.

I believe (and hope) that this statistic is conflating rape and sexual assault together. Sexual assault can be defined as any kind of unwanted sexual contact, whereas rape is defined as  forceful penetration. As I said, I hope that it is not true that 1 out of 6 American women has had to deal with either attempted rape or rape in her lifetime. That said, I think that expecting only women to be outraged at such a statistic is to say that only women need be concerned with such statistic, which I don’t think is true. This should make men and women alike cringe.

#13: Because we live in a society that teaches women to be careful not to get raped, instead of teaching men not to rape.

I think that both approaches are very important. Of course, it is very important that men understand that no means no and that doing otherwise carries grave consequences, on top of rape being one of the few things which is intrinsically evil no matter what the circumstances or motives may be. That said, we teach that whenever a car collides with a pedestrian, it is always the car’s fault, but nonetheless, we teach pedestrians to exercise caution when crossing the street. To tell women to be vigilant against rapists is not to say that women have any fault in being raped (to say such a thing is a logical absurdity), but that they, knowing that there are crazy, deranged, and genuinely evil people out there, should be aware of what’s going on around them. I do not think that this somehow disrespecting women in any way.

#14: Because it is more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in modern conflict.

I’d submit the same logic as #10 for this one.

#15: Because we want women’s bodies to be left alone and not a constant subject for discussion, disrespect, abuse, and objectification.

Once again, I totally agree. However, it is often women that buy magazines that discuss these same problems (I do not think that many men are into gossip magazines, but I may be wrong. That said, it is important to take into consideration that sometimes those pictures are leaked by celebrities themselves, because “no publicity is bad publicity.” I hate the whole culture around celebrities today and find the scrutiny under which these people are placed repugnant, but I cannot deny that there is some people who willingly look for the spotlight as well. This problem, however, has an easy solution, namely that women should boycott gossip magazines and other smut, like Cosmo and media would soon get the message.

#16: Because we need to change the patriarchal picture of men as an aggressive being who cannot control his desires.

I think that this is more of a men’s issue than a women’s issue, to be perfectly honest. I notice that, far and wide, men today have lost the understanding of what is means to be a man is and I’d assign some part of this blame to the fact that many males growing up today to not have a good role-model to teach them how to be a good man. That said, I do not see how this is a patriarchal picture, since most men who would argue that they can’t help it are usually violently opposed to tradition and especially to authority, especially paternal authority.

#17 is a reference to the recent scandal at Steubenville

I think I have mentioned in reference to other points that rape should outrage men and women in the same way and with the same frequency.

#18: Because a woman is raped every 14 seconds in South Africa.

Once again I submit the logic of #10 for this point.

#19: Because sexism in the shape of a joke is not any less offensive or disparaging.

This is still not a women’s only issue (I think this way of thinking has been treated in previous points).

#20: Because victims of rape are too often distrusted. 54% of sexual assaults are not reported to the Police.

Once again, I think it is unfair to make rape a women’s-only issue.

#21: Because every 9 seconds a US woman is assaulted or beaten.

Same as the point above.

#22: Because “This is Why Indian Girls Are Raped” on Facebook has 1768 too many likes.

I agree, I think I’ve made my point about this on #6 and #7.

#23: Because approximately 3 million girls are victims of female genital mutilation every year.

Another point that falls under the logic of #10.

#24: Because there are approximately 2 million victims of sex trafficking each year. 85% of them are women.

Sex trafficking is a very serious issue in the modern world. That said, it is most basically a human issue (from the very fact that both men and women are abducted. In fact, yours truly had a very close brush with this issue while abroad). In addition, just saying one is a feminist does not help these women in the least, what we need is concrete action.

#25: To spread awareness and knowledge about what feminism works for. Equality. Everyone who has a mother, sister, daughter, son or a friend would want them to have respect and rights, right?

I definitely agree with much of what this says, however, I have to make a few corrections. First, there are some points made in this very article that are antithetical to womanhood. Second, it is important to understand a premise that much radical feminism shares with male chauvinism, namely that, since men and women are different one must be better than the other. Of course, this is the premise that fuels contemporary feminists to say that women can never be equal to men unless men are castrated (which is male chauvinism, because it says that females are born less-than-equal to men and that men need to be relieved of one of their biological components in order to be equal to women), or even this picture:

The Pill-Woman's source of Strength

The Pill:Woman’s source of Strength

which argues that women are weak without this magical pill, who suddenly makes them worthy of consideration. I could be nice to people who advocate such things, but in the name of Feminism, I cannot. These people are the new male chauvinists and it is quite sad that a lot of times female mouthpieces are used to spread their agenda.

The truth of the matter is that men and women are different, however, that that should not invite a comparison as to who is better. On the other hand, that means that men and women are the same and that there are some things that only men can do and some things which only women can do. Feminism, so defined, is indeed worthy of much more attention, especially in this society.

#26: Because this is a real commercial for American Apparel. (the picture shows the male version of the shirt being modeled on a fully dressed man, whereas the female version is modeled on a woman who is only wearing a bikini bottom and the buttons of the shirt are opened)

I agree, a lot of clothing stores seek to make unwarranted sexual connections in order to ween their customers into buying their products. Our society needs to be cleansed from such advertisements. That said, similar advertisements with over-exposed men can be easily found as well.

#27: Because domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women, more than car accidents, muggings, and rape combined.

This is not a women’s-only issue (much like rape).

#28: Because in 31 states if a woman has a child as a result of rape, her rapist can sue for custody and visitation rights.

I find this absurd and wonder if the rapist’s ability to sue for custody is only there as a case of legal thoroughness. I’d find it uncanny if any court, anywhere in the US, would ever consider giving any custodial benefits to someone who played a role in the life of a child through rape, but I digress. Either way, it is not enough to call one’s self a Feminist to solve this issue, rather, concrete steps so that this loophole is closed should be taken.

#29: Because we need to be aware of the sexism that surrounds us and saw no to it.

Agreed, if only we change “sexism” into “sexualism.” The sex-appeal that many vendors for a myriad of products embrace for both sexes is absolutely disgusting.

#30: Because we need to change the way women are being portrayed in computer games, etc.

I’d submit the logic of the point above for this one, too.

#31: Because female fetuses are being aborted in China, because girls are not wanted.

First, I think that this point, too, applies to #10.

That said, I think it comes into direct contradiction with #2, unless abortion is, actually, the killing of a human being, because often times, in China, women are themselves deciding to abort little girls in hopes of having a son in the future. Either abortion kills babies and little baby girls are being killed in China, or abortion is a woman deciding about her own bodies and all that’s going on in China is women exercising their right to their bodies, but not both.

#32: Because women who are seen, who stand up for their rights and express their opinions often get threatened and hated.

This one is very true. One of my best friends, upon publicly showing her pro-life convictions, has received more than a few threats and has had her posters and displays vandalized continuously. Yet, while the two of us were designing a new poster (because people who marginalize her are in the administration as well as in the student body), she had absolutely no qualms about putting her personal email contact on it, knowing that the hate-mail would flow like rivers onto her inbox (luckily we found a different solution in the end, but it makes her conviction no different). Sadly, it is often women who do not share the same beliefs that threaten and hate other women. Of course, this does not let men off the hook. There are many that I have dealt with who understand just how much they need to own up to and how much they’d need to man up without things like abortion, so they’re rightly upset because their niche is being taken away. Well, so be it.

#33: Because three men in Sweden walked free after raping a girl with a glass bottle until she started to bleed.

Don’t even get me started about the legal system of Scandinavian countries. That said, I think multiple points I’ve made before apply to this point, too.

In conclusion, Feminism is often misconstrued and misunderstood in today’s world. I find myself rather inadequate to speak on the issue, so I would encourage anyone who wants to find out more to visit sites like Feminists for Life, etc. and decide for themselves.

Caitlin Moran Proves You Don’t Need Any Education to Be a Philosopher

Well, just when you though you’d seen it all. I randomly came across a quote from one Caitlin Moran about death (more about that to follow) and it upsets me that anyone thinks they can throw the word “philosophy” around like it’s just a meaningless term. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those people that thinks you should have a PhD after your name in order to be considered to have the right to speak about philosophy, but when it is obvious that they either have no clue what they are talking about or they are dishonest.

Now, before I continue, I should say that I write things in this blog about people whom the intellectual tradition does not touch one, for good reason. Partly, I must admit, it is because it is quite easy to point out their mistakes and, as so, they’re a nice exercise in logic. That said, I find it very scary that there is a multitude of people who believe these people and follow their advice. If you want an example (other than the one below), just look in the comments on my homepage, where Mystic Tiger Ashram accused me of attacking “alternate philosophies” (as if such a thing existed and as if it is a bad thing to knock erroneous ideas down).

But, let’s not get sidetracked. Onto that passage I was talking about:

“Death is not a release, but an incentive. The more focused you are on your death, the more righteously you live your life. My traditional closing time rant is that humans still believe in an afterlife. I genuinely think it’s the biggest philosophical problem the earth faces. Even avowedly nonreligious people think they’ll be meeting up with nana and their dead dog, Crackers, when they finally keel over. Everyone thinks they’re getting a harp.          But believing in an afterlife totally negates your current existence. It’s like an insidious and destabilizing mental illness. Underneath every day-every action, every word- you think it doesn’t really  matter if you screw up this time around because you can just sort it all out in paradise.”

-Caitlin Moran, How to be a Woman

So, in my preemptive defense for those who will think that I am doing this out of “support for repressing women” and for being evil and all that other crap, I have bolded the part of quote which, according to Moran, makes this a philosophical issue, so I have the right to judge its veracity, whatever the rest of the content is. Since we are on this theme, I’d also like to remind everyone that Plato, though being about 24 centuries away from women’s rights movements supported equal rights and equal education for women (in the Kaliopolis this is explicit).

A lot of philosophical discussions end in frustration and have no overall value because even philosophers forget the extreme importance of defining their terms. So, in order to be productive in this case, let’s do that.

Moran talks about death, about death we shall talk about. There are two basic understandings of the end of life, but current philosophy says that there are three, so let us examine them. They are the naturalist physical theory, the naturalist mental theory, and the eternalist theory. The physical (also biological) theory maintains that death, i.e. the end of life, comes whenever your heart stops beating and your brain stops working. The “mental” theory, also a materialist theory, says that whenever basic mental functions are stopped (go figure what that means), the end of life has occurred. This is a very popular idea today with the debate about euthanasia, because this theory holds than a person in PVS has, basically, already died. Of course, this theory completely ignores Aristotle’s point about first and second actualization, but that’s a different matter. On the whole, it is a materialist theory as much as the first one, which is why I say that it would be correct to say that there are two basic theories at play. The physical theory fits together much better with the reductive materialist side (type identity theory, eliminativism) and the “mental” with the non-reductive materialist side (functionalism), which is currently the orthodoxy of philosophy of mind, but Kim’s problem will probably change that.

The third theory maintains that the end of life is not necessarily the end of existence. It maintains that there is “something else” that preserves the identity of the person when their physical functions cease. That “something else” is commonly seen as the soul, the life principle of the body (i.e. you got life when you have this, at the end of life it goes away). Part of this theory are both Plato and Aristotle (yeah, despite what your teacher may have taught you, go read Aristotle’s De Anima), Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and probably every other religion out there. Clearly, this is an important issue, because so many people have believed in it for so long and, if this is wrong and so wrong that someone who has no experience in philosophy can figure it out, philosophy and theology students across the globe are doing a terrible injustice to their parents, their country, and themselves by pursuing an education which includes these disciplines. Of course, my own life is at stake here, because if Plato and Aristotle and all the Christian thinkers are proved wrong, I’ve just wasted all my college career and a lot of money learning about these people and, on top of that, am no longer relevant to the intellectual community and to the world.

In order to make things as clear as possible, let us divide the eternalist group into two sub-groups, namely pantheist religions and theistic religions. Why so, you may say? Well, the issue is that Pantheism seems to entail Monism (i.e. there is really only one being and everything is that being), so what the theistic groups are arguing is the eternal part which does not get destroyed when the body ceases to work (i.e. the soul) is quite different from what these groups claim is the eternal part (a part of the being that is everything).

First,let us consider Pantheism, the groups that entail Monism. This group includes the Hindu religion(s) (many people are confused when they find in the Vedas that both “only Brahman reincarnates” and “all who do not go to Nirvana reincarnate.”), Buddhism (even though it does not believe that the eternal part is actually a being), Hegel (the Absolute), and many others. To these belief systems, the above quote does apply. They would receive it with happiness. Hegel would insert it into a triad, the Hindus and the Buddhists would at the same time assert its veracity and, at the same time, argue for its polar opposite to be equally as valid (everything is part of god, remember?). That said, enlightened Buddhists and Hindus are not expecting for a harp or anything like that, Nirvana is simply ending the cycle of reincarnation. There is, therefore, no way to “sort it all out in paradise.” Being in Nirvana basically proves that there is nothing left to sort out, both Samsara and Karma are completed.

Now, the juicy part, the second group seems much more affected by this assertion and promises for much more heated debate. Plato (read the Phaedo), Aristotle, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc. all belong to this side, the theistic side. This second side believes that there is a God or gods that have created an afterlife of some sort for righteous people as a means of providing justice (i.e. if you’re good and you suffer unjustly in this world, this is the compensation plan). Of course, it seems, just from the sentence above that Moran does not even have a clue about what the Platonic, or Christian, or Jewish, or Muslim understanding of “paradise” entails, because, by its very definition, a person who has “things to sort out” does not go to paradise. The whole point is that if you do screw up on this side, you don’t get to go to paradise. It is the people who believe that there is something after death that look out for what they are doing not the opposite. Incidentally, it just so happens that all these belief systems happen to each have a very extensive and well-defined moral code. I do not know much about Islam, but if you want to see how close Platonism and Christianity are, check out John 11-14 and compare it to Socrates’ final speech to his friends before drinking the poison, where he basically says, “If you love me, obey my teachings.” In addition, it is usually the opposite world view, the idea that (physical) death is the ultimate end that fuels an absolute carelessness about ethics. 

Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov highlights this idea extensively, “if no God, no immortality. If no immortality, everything is permissible,” says Ivan Karamazov. Of course, the strict validity of his own logic smacks him in the face toward the end of the book as the homeless man sings, “Vanka [diminutive of Ivan] went away…” (boom, and I didn’t spoil the book) Within the realm of philosophy, one need look no further than Jean-Paul Sartre to highlight this point. While, seemingly, a lot of people jump with excitement at coming to accept that there is no Divine being and, therefore, no meaning of life and, therefore, that all things are permissible, Sartre understood the true connotations of that acceptance. That is the reason why he lived with the utter assurance that the only thing meaningful was to put as many things as possible (things and people) under one’s dominion and why he was a sexual sadist. He argued that “love” was illogical and that there was a word in every single language that had absolutely no meaning, namely “we.” This is the logical conclusion of believing that there is nothing beyond death. Of course, if there is nothing beyond death and no objective morality, then if you can commit a crime with the absolute assurance that you will not get punished for doing it, there’s nothing wrong with doing it. In fact, even if you do get punished, if you really want to do it, go ahead anyway. In other words, we have stumbled into Book II of the Kaliopolis. Whereas these evil belief systems like Platonism teach that, even if someone had the ring of Gyges, it would not be permissible for them to commit evil and that people should not even be frightened by death when it comes to doing what’s right (both Platonism and Christianity hold fast to both), Moran’s proposed safety net against complacency is to introduce atheism, which says, “it’s not wrong if no one saw it.” I don’t know about you, but, if we are looking for ethical expediency and a war against complacency, it is the first, not Moran’s choice that does the job.

Elsewhere, she says that we should use the understanding that we are dying at every moment to live our lives. Of course, this begs one to ask what she means. If by that she means that the time to do the right courageous thing is now, then it is the understanding that our life begins its expiration process from the moment of birth taken together with the idea that, at the end of this life, one will have to face a Perfect Judge who will consider their actions in this world which would get one ready to do the right thing.

If, on the other hand, Moran means by living our lives a more subtle formulation of “YOLO,” then it is simply cliche, except stated with a little more whit and a British accent. It is, however, on the whole, unworthy of any consideration, since Hedonism has dropped out of the mainstream philosophical arena for a very long time now. If Moran wants to protect this, the view that, since we’re dying we should go out there and “enjoy” (the Platonist maintains that the momentary thrill does not provide enough good consequences for the destruction of the soul that results because of it) ourselves, then why does she talk about “setting things straight,” etc. in Heaven, as if she know what she was talking about?

Of course, it could be that this is simply another attack on traditional metaphysics and ethics, but a particularly dimwitted one, so it deserves not consideration on that regard.

Finally, a word about How to Be a Woman. I have not read any other words other than the ones I have quoted above from it, but if the aforementioned excerpt is a marker for the rest of the book, the prospects are not very high. Of course, one must consider the title and its proportionality to the thickness of the book. Whenever I go to bookstores, I often find it very amusing to see books with titles like, “History of the world: Babylon to the Fall of the Roman Empire” that are about 150 pages long. I may be mistaken, but if you were to write the book in micro print there would not be enough pages there to examine that extensive period of time for the whole world. No one except for the most intellectually doomed members of our society would buy a 200 page book titled, How to Be a Doctor, for the simple reason that there is simply no way that the complexities of being a doctor are examined in 200 pages. If that is true, then why would anyone think that the complexities of femininity and womanhood can be sufficiently treated in 200 pages? Of course, I could be wrong, How to Be a Woman could be a multi-volume work of high psychological and philosophical worth, but somehow I don’t think that is the most likely scenario. I wonder why it is that there are people who buy such a book and there are two choices, either people are extremely slow to understand that womanhood as a whole cannot be treated in 200 pages, or they believe that anything said by a woman about womanhood is valid, no matter what it said. If you are one of these people, you are probably very annoyed at this point, but wait, there’s more. If it is true that what any woman and only what a woman says about womanhood is true, then it is also true that all things that men and only the things that men say are true about manhood are also true. However, there are and have been in the past many women who have had many correct critiques of manhood and masculinity and many who have had incorrect ones. Their views were, thank God, considered and we are a better planet for it. If, however, the second option is true for Moran’s supporters, then it means that if a man were to write that men are vastly superior to women and throw around phrases like, “Are you meeting a woman? Don’t forget your whip…” he would be right. “What an outrage!” cry out radical feminists and I agree with them. Who, then, is this SOB?  None other than Friedrich Nietzsche, who incidentally happens to be the idol and teacher of many radical feminists, Mary Daly for once, who is able to reconcile her feminism with Nietzsche because she utterly rejects the idea of femininity as such. In so doing, she should lose the title of “feminist” in a blink, because she has betrayed the very idea that she says she is promoting and much of the jeering that pro-life women and especially young women get when they stand up for their beliefs (if you don’t believe me, go on YouTube or go down to Washington D.C. for March for Life and see for yourself) deserves to go to her instead of them.

In short, I am up to my nose with people who believe that I and many people much brighter than me just so happened to waste much of their lives (4+ years so far in my case, much more for many others) and an insane amount of money (college and graduate school tuition together is enough to buy a spacious house) in order to study this philosophy thing, when seeming Divine inspiration of Ion’s kind would have done the job just as nicely. Good thing we got them looking after society, otherwise the actual experts would have to speak on the issues and the world would be in a better place.

A Completely Platonic and Atheistic Response to Christopher Hitchens

As it is quite obvious at this point, I am a Christian in addition to being a Platonist. As a Christian, I believe God exists (my powers of observation are unprecedented, I know). However, I most radically do not need to use my Christian knowledge in order to conclusively refute Christopher Hitchens’ argument against God.

I am usually a little candid to people I am writing against, but I cannot be candid to a person like Christopher Hitchens, because he fails not only at arguing against the existence of God, but he fails at being an atheist. On these grounds, he seems to be only a caricature of wiser men that are and have been atheists who, though freezing my blood with what they say, demand more respect for their courage to follow their argument to its logical end and for saying what they believe, though it would turn a lot of people against them.

Let me explain, first of all, why C. H. fails to argue against the existence of God. I have recently watched a debate of his on Youtube and all I saw is arguments, machine gun apologetics at that, about how different religions are unreasonable and, even more of a wonder, immoral.  I do not see how this proves that God does not exist. The classic definition of the Being that philosophers argue about (and C. H. is no philosopher) is an All-Good, All-Poweful, All-Knowing Being. Obviously, a religion which professes that it is divinely revealed may seem illogical at times, especially if you pick and choose what parts to speak about and what to leave off. All that proves is that this or that religion is wrong, if his arguments are true, but I will not choose to address that. The problem is that God can exist without any religion being true. His argument, therefore, makes two jumps. The first is that, if no religion gets God right, God does not exist, which is not only silly, but presupposes that God can only exist if there are people who worship Him. The second is that believers always act in accordance to their religion, which is also preposterous and false. It stands, therefore, that he has made no argument that disproves the existence of God, he has simply jeered and sneered about different religions and their believes. However, beyond all rules of logic, this man claims that religion is immoral.

Now, here’s a problem that I have as someone who likes people like Nietzsche and Sartre. Obviously, I disagree with their undoubted premise, if you will, that God does not exist(Nietzsche argues: “If God does exist, how could I ever bear to not be God!”). However, I think that their logical process after said premise is sound. Because of this, I am dumbfounded at C. H.’s argument that any number of religions which he mentions are immoral. Objectively immoral? How did you figure that out, if I may ask? As far as I know from Nietzsche and Sartre (et al), there is no such thing as objective truth, because humans cannot create objective truth (obviously this does not include physical laws). How one proceeds to create an objective code of morals without a Divine being is beyond me and, as far as I can tell, beyond logic.

Due to this, I argue that his argument can be disproved conclusively by Platonism. Either morality is objective or not. If it is not objective, then there is no foothold for C. H. to stand on, because what is good for me is good, so if I choose to paint my cell into a sunny green field and then proceed to behave as if I was in a field, then well and good, if I choose to pain everything with blood, which I got by killing everyone around me, well and good; there is no objective basis to tell me I am wrong in killing people or in wearing rosy-colored glasses. If, however, morality is objective, then, pray tell, where did it come from? It could not have come from man, otherwise it would not be objective. Humans can discover objective truth, but they cannot create it. There is no way in which I can make it objectively true that chocolate ice cream is better than vanilla ice cream, no matter what I do. There is no way it could come from any being less than human, for obvious reasons. There is no way that it could have grown out of nothing, whatever one’s beliefs about the origin of the world are, because non-physical things don’t work that way. You can’t “grow” an ethical system. Therefore, the question stands, where do we get objective morality other than a Divine Being. That is, incidentally, why in the Timaeus Plato found it necessary to posit the Demiurge, an All-Good, All-Powerfull, All-Knowing Being that created the Universe according to the Forms. I challenge anyone to make an argument for how an objective system of morality can be made to work without positing a Divine Being. I, for one, am all ears.

Lastly, C. H. said there are two questions which no one has been able to answer to his satisfaction concerning religion. They are: 1) name one action of a believer that cannot have been done by a non-believer and 2) name one evil action that a non-believer could not have done which a believer has done. In one debate that I saw he argued that the best response he ever got from the first was “exorcisms,” which he found funny. His brother (Peter Hitchens, a theist) gave him a very good specific example when he mentioned that when a newspaper he wrote for was bought by a man whose primary occupation was pornography, he quit, whereas C. H. later accepted a job from the very same man. However, that won’t do, I want to answer the questions objectively and generally and in a way which turns these two questions into a philosophical enquiry, not into what C. H. wants them to be, which is a vague question (he has asked for a “believer” while knowing that there are differences between different religions and will probably use that into the response to ridicule it) for non-philosophical childish banter. I won’t even talk about the fact that arguing for theism does not have to include arguing for a specific religion or for religion in general, but I digress. Anyway, back to the answers:

1) Have and potentially fulfill his meaning of life. An atheist cannot have a final cause and, therefore, cannot fulfill it.

2) In the mind of the non-believer, he cannot sin. The believer, on the other hand, can sin. Whenever a believer knowingly sins, that is an act (on top of whether the action is evil) which the non-believer cannot commit. (That said, within that evil action is also the root of a good action, i.e. that the believer (knowing that he has sinned) can work to fix his sin, whereas a non-believer cannot fix his sin, because he does not believe that he has ever sinned.

In short, concerning C. H. and others like him, who have no philosophical training and who do not even keep to the topics they say they will debate, but rather use any opportunity to badmouth religion in general and Christianity in particular, I say just ignore them. I can’t do much about the other religions he ridicules, but I could defend Christianity against him. I, however, choose not to. I sincerely do hope, however, that he and others like him will eventually fly away and allow the real philosophical debate to continue.

Response to Macklemore II: Arguments Against Gay Marriage Which Do Not Presuppose God

When I wrote the response to Macklemore, I was supposed to, after pointing out the religious arguments against gay marriage, the secular arguments against it, but I forgot. It was going to stay forgotten too, except that I randomly stumbled on a video of one Dan Savage on Youtube, who I can tell is not a philosopher or an honest person, or a respectful person. I have no problem with people who draw a hard line, but when you are speaking to high school students and you use words like, “bullshit” for the Bible and you see students walking out and then you proceed to make jokes about them in their absence, that shows nothing but childish disrespect, so I had to respond. Dan Savage argues that he has a right to defend himself, but his arguments can be contested. In fact, in this post, I will do one better. He says that it is hypocritical that Christians only believe one part of Leviticus, which is preposterous (look at my original response to Macklemore and tell me if Leviticus even comes up), but I will not argue that, I will do Mr. Savage one better and proceed to give only secular arguments against his position. In fact, the arguments will be organized in such a way that each argument has more commitments than the first. It starts from absolutely no philosophical commitments other than logical consistency. So, without further ado:

First, we have the legal argument. As I said, this argument assumes nothing philosophical other than logical consistency. Most gay couples that I have talked to (and surprise surprise I do have gay friends) say that it is about more than just “a piece of paper.” Of course, the ability to be able to marry is important, but a lot of them argue that they deserve the right to get the tax benefits that normal married couples do. Well, the following is a proof that gay couples do not deserve the same benefits.

Let us investigate into the reason why married couples have, historically, gotten special benefits and privileges. In order to have this completely free from Christian influence, let us look at the pagan Roman opinion on the matter. It is funny that a lot of people cite the Romans as an example of a culture that was very much pro gay marriage, when this is the opinion of the Roman jurist Modestinus regarding marriage, “the union of a male and a female in a complete life partnership, the sharing of divine and human law.” (D. 23.2.1) There is no record of any gay marriage ever occurring in Rome and, more importantly, there was never a law against it. Now, some people may see this as a point for gay marriage, but the truth is that that proves a stronger point for the people against. Consider the fact that the US has no rules to regulate teleportation, this shows that there is no need to regulate it, because no one is doing it. The same is true for gay marriage in Rome.

That, however, does not prove enough. Our quest was to figure out why married couples get special benefits. In Rome, if you were the father of three male children, you would get special tax breaks and benefits (sort of like the Feast of the Family in Bacon’s New Atlantis). It is obvious that the birthing of children was seen as a benefit to the state, so it is quite obvious that the state would give married couples special benefits for it. Ah, proponents say, that’s true enough, but weren’t people who were naturally infertile allowed to marry in Rome, even though they could not bear children? True enough, but even to this day those things are not clear cut. For example, a good friend of mine in Scotland was born to a mother who was labelled “infertile.” In fact, it is not a very unusual case, because even today, when we speak about infertility, we speak about a probability, not a clear-cut case. In Rome, these issues were even more muddled and people knew it (because they could see children born to infertile parents), so they allowed people who were labelled infertile to be married, because it could be that they were labelled so inaccurately (it is better to let ten guilty people walk than one innocent person go to prison). On this basis, because gay couples cannot procreate, they should not be able to get the special benefits which are given as part of the marriage package (i.e. the agreement with the state to bring for children) for male-female couples.

Second, we’ll assume the least possible about anything. Being a Protagoras-style relativist just is not logically consistent to the point where one cannot use human language to communicate if we believe it (and even believing it may be contradictory, but that’s beyond the point). One position that you can make work, however, is the cultural relativist. Of course, I think there is an easy way to disprove this brand of relativism, too, but I would think that most proponents of gay marriage would be very sympathetic to such a philosophical position, so I am going to prove, from it, that gay marriage is still non-permissible. Now, because we are talking about America, I think most people would be willing to accept a democratic form of cultural subjectivism (I think it is also the most sympathetic to the gay cause). The basic point of this democratic cultural subjectivism is that, basically, whatever most people say is right is right. California has voted Preposition 8, but for the purposes of this argument, we will still consider them a pro gay marriage state. Now, for ease of calculation, we will also consider that in every state where gay marriage is law 51% of the people are for it and 49% against and that for every state where gay marriage is not allowed, 51% of the people are against it and 49% for it. Now, Texas and California, I think we can all agree, at least cancel each other out. That said, there are twelve states that allow same-sex marriage, which are some of the smaller states in the Union. Against this, there are still 36 states against it. That is to say, even if in each of these 36 states there were 49% of the people for gay marriage, there would still be more people against than for and, therefore, gay marriage is non-permissible if you’re a democratic cultural subjectivist. That is not even considering the fact that it would be heresy within an understanding of cultural subjectivism to try and change the status quo, because in the very act of accepting it is the status quo the cultural subjectivist accepts that it is the right thing to do.

Third, we will accept what the modern metaphysical and philosophy of mind orthodoxy tells us, which is that (through Kim’s dilemma) Eliminativism is probably the correct theory of mind and, therefore, the correct ontological basis for humans. Now, Eliminativism claims that traditional (what they refer to as “folk”) psychology is literally false, as false as the phlogiston theory of combustion. That means that beliefs, desires, etc. literally do not exist. The Churchlands, the champions of this theory, call for a complete drop of the aforementioned elements from language and some of their proponents believe that, eventually, Eliminativists will develop a new kind of language to fit the theory (as it stands, in this language, Eliminativism violates the Principle of Non-Contradiction). Now, if that’s true and the belief of gay people that they are gay literally does not exist, then we have a problem. If all we have to go on are atoms and molecules, then the principle of morality is biology, we should behave in the best way that ensures human survival and, as I understand it, that includes procreation. In that case, same-sex marriage and even same-sex intercourse is non-permissible.

Last, we come to Platonism, having moved through legalism, subjectivism, and the contemporary understanding of philosophy of mind. Because this is my backyard, there are several arguments I can present within the Platonic frame of reference.

1) The argument from anatomy: If the Timaeus is true and the Demiurge created everything (us included) according to the Forms, then our own bodies contain clues for wisdom and, if we are to seek wisdom truly, we should come to an understanding of the principles behind those clues. Because there is male and female, and because both male and female partake in the Form of the Good and because the male and female body are designed to unite in order to procreate, only male and female should be allowed to marry, for the purpose of procreation.

2) The argument from sources: The question at hand here is what gay sexual relations, and with it gay marriage, are supposed to fulfill. If they are simply there to fulfill desires, if they are simply there to satisfy eros, then they have insufficient standing and fall pray to the metaphor of the bottomless jug and the sieve in the Gorgias. Despite what the “brightest minds of the day” tell us, in the very Gorgias, Socrates (and through him Plato) and even Callicles, whom Socrates is debating, explicitly condemn the act of homosexual sex (right after the two metaphors, if you want to look it up). The axiom stands that, if sex is being approached with the eye of simply pleasure, i.e. having a desire and fulfilling it, it is like forever trying to fill a bottomless jug.

3) The argument from consequences: In the Republic, Book I, Socrates argues that one cannot be good by doing evil things and that all things that are not good are evil. It follows from that logic that we only should do things that are good. Well, in terms of everything we do, good things are those that bring us either a spiritual or a physical benefit. Gay sex, and by extension gay marriage, do not bring a spiritual benefit (because it is only the fulfillment of a desire) and, unlike eating, they do not bring physical benefit (gay sex and gay marriage do not strengthen the body, etc). Therefore, because it fails both categories of acceptable consequences, gay marriage is non-permissible.

4) The legal argument and objective knowledge: The first argument I presented, by itself, does not work, because you can make a similar argument in favor of slavery (that’s why I said it comes with the least baggage). However, if you take the three arguments above, which objectively profess that gay marriage is non-permissible and you add the legal argument on top of them, the case becomes stronger.

Well, I have stated my case, anyone who disagrees may feel free to respond, but I, too, have a right to defend myself.