The Origin of Social Order, First Chapter Excerpt

This is the first chapter from my present work-in-progress, working title The Origin of Social Order. This doesn’t represent the final product, but the first chapter as is provides a lot of coverage to the fundamental approach of the book to understanding society. The book is overall intended to ground the neoreactionary approach to society and civilization in definite and testable hypotheses, with further hypotheses about specific contemporary and historical social phenomena based on the essential thesis developed in the earlier parts of the book. I’m very excited about this work.

 

Chapter 1: Evolution and Design

“For this reason, and for no other, viz. that, when we come to inspect the watch, we perceive (what we could not discover in the stone) that its several parts are framed and put together for a purpose, e. g. that they are so formed and adjusted as to produce motion, and that motion so regulated as to point out the hour of the day; that, if the  different parts had been differently shaped from what they are, of a different size from what they are, or placed after any other manner, or in any other order, than that in which they are placed, either no motion at all would have been carried on in the machine, or none which would have answered the use that is now served by it.”

-William Paley, Natural Theology

There is nothing so mesmerizing as a starling flock. Constituted of hundreds or even thousands of individual starlings at a time, a single murmuration of starlings can give the appearance of a single, cohesive whole. Yet the appearance of this singular entity, to our eyes an apparently choreographed and planned arrangement of birds in motion, is no such thing. It arises through the activity of each individual starling acting by itself at once. Each starling reacts spontaneously to the environment and the actions of the other starlings immediately nearby, and every starling following the same set of rules and knowing all the other starlings are following this same set of rules produces this incredible image.

This image of the murmuration should be kept in mind when examining society. Note that there is no single plan according to which the starlings act. They act only according to some simple rules that dictate how they react to the changing conditions immediately around them. It is only an accumulation of individual wills, yet the product is reducible not only to these individual wills but how they relate to each other according to these regularities in behavior. To analyze the murmuration, we must speak not only of individual starlings and their individual capacities, but the rules which were themselves not planned to produce such an image. It is not for the image that would be produced that any individual starling acts, nor is it for the image that evolution dictated the selection of those starlings that would act in this way. Yet it represents an equilibrium, a composite form which maintains its integrity.

Man has come around slowly to the notion of evolutionary selection as a fundamental feature of forms. Darwin first postulated the selecting-out of unfit creatures as compared to the survival and reproduction of relatively more fit creatures to explain the various biological phenomena that present themselves to the observer, such as the diversity of species but also the distribution of this diversity. Moreover, man has been even slower in applying evolution to himself even if, in a superficial sense, atheists of this age gladly accept it in order to eliminate supernatural explanations of the existence of man. However, man is poor at truly imbibing the lessons of nature for himself, and sees in himself what he would like to see.

This mechanism of selection, in the most general terms, works itself out not only within the realm of biology, but throughout the entire world. What is relatively disordered does not persist as long as those forms which are relatively ordered, so continuously the relatively more ordered forms propagate themselves in abundance. Some among these forms will be even more relatively ordered than those which came before, and so this evolutionary selection continues to act without end.

The fundamental thesis of this book is that the form of society is best understood as an order which is the result of evolutionary selection. Those forms of society that were less able to propagate themselves through time were eliminated by or assimilated into those forms of society that were more able to propagate themselves through time. This is not according to any individual human’s design, and indeed our examination of which forms have managed to propagate themselves must entirely discount human volition and intelligence.

The inclusion of human volition in the explanation of social forms commits the fallacy of composition. It is to suppose that because each individual’s impetus of action occurs as the result of individual will, the form of society occurs as the concatenation of these wills. However, this gets the analysis backwards. Consider an arrow which falls to the ground; that it falls to the ground is not due to any man’s will, and would take place despite any attempt by man to make it not fall to the ground. How it falls to the ground, on the other hand, can be somewhat explained with reference to the will of man, but even then his control over the falling of the arrow does not involve contravening, but acting in accord with the regularity of nature we call gravity.

In this same way, that a society succeeds has nothing to do with the will of any man, not even in the aggregate. It is according to no man what forms of society shall be possible, and it is moreover according to no man what kinds of social ventures will meet with success and which will not. There is, like the archer, some element of skill, but this skill manifests itself not as the result of mere will, but will that acts in accord with nature. Each individual man can only react on the basis of his immediate surroundings according to some rules, and any influence on the actual accomplishment of the intended form depends on how accurate his assessment of the regularities of nature are. Society is a natural, organic being. Its form cannot be explained with reference to the will of man, though man is the matter; it is the regularities of relation between men, their following a limited set of rules in response to each other and the wider world around them that produces the appearance of this order.

To consider society as an evolutionary evolved system is to start asking “What adaptive advantage did this social norm confer on society?” It looks beyond the judgment which we might otherwise impose, saying that some social institution or practice is “oppressive” or “ignorant,” setting these aside only to inquire what was it about the way this social norm organized society that permitted it to pass itself on?

Analogies to the development of certain physical adaptations observed in biological species across geographic and temporal boundaries are just beneath the surface. When we examine the evolution of flight, we do not ask whether it conforms to certain values of ours. As a biologist, we only seek out how flight serves an advantage in survival and reproduction. Apart from this, no particular features would be selected for by natural selection. As an adaptation, flight evolved several times, which evidences some regularity of nature which flight takes advantage of. Likewise, if we find a social norm practiced in separate cultures for which we have no evidence of intercultural influence, this suggests some particular problem of organization endemic to human society which is, as it were, “solved” by the development and propagation of this social norm. Contrariwise, we might also compare the outcomes of cultures by distinguishing between how these social norms balance power between separate groups.

What might an example of this evolutionary explanation for a social norm look like? In the ancient world, and among more traditional societies, there was perpetuated a practice in which men would negotiate a price with the father or family of a woman he wished to marry, which is called a dowry. Overlooking whatever else we might wish to say about the ethical feasibility of such a practice, we are forced to consider that it must confer some advantage in the organization of society. In a society where dowries are a norm, fathers have more incentive to instruct and protect their daughters, instilling in them traits which potential suitors find desirable. This also gives the incentive to fathers to attempt to fetch the best price, which frequently means marrying his daughter to a successful man capable of providing for both his wife and children. Such a practice increases fertility among the upper classes of society, which should tend to increase economic equality (more children in effect implies smaller shares of an inheritance) and have a eugenic effect; lower class men are less likely to marry or reproduce under such a system. No matter that some may chafe at this description, the possibility of this norm perpetuating itself, especially the civilizing effect it has on a society compared to societies void of such a norm, is clear when described in these terms.

In order for an evolutionary explanation to be possible, it must be the case that, in theory, social norms impose different forms of organization on society which may be relatively ordered or disordered. To be “ordered” in this sense means to be more capable of surviving and reproducing itself over time; thus to be relatively disordered is to be less capable of self-propagation in comparison to another society. There is no “absolute standard” of fitness, and indeed the “fitness landscape” is rapidly changed by the event of a society adapting to it, imputing a red queen dynamic to the evolutionary ordering of societies.

It is easy to see the initial utility of this perspective when considering cults that prohibit sexual relations. These cults are not absent from history, but they always remain obscure. Why? Quite simply, apart from the initial converts, there don’t tend to be future generations. Social norms can be passed on either horizontally, between two otherwise unrelated individuals, or else vertically, from parents to children. Most norms in most humans are learned from parents, so there is a tendency for people to express and abide by social norms which increase fertility. The outright prohibition on sexual relations is obviously contrary to higher rates of fertility and the resultant vertical transmission of social norms doesn’t take place, whereas the relatively fertility-advantaging norms of the wider culture are perpetuated and displace the virginity cult.

However, advantages to fertility do not need to occur in such a direct way, but might only subtly structure gender norms in such a way that women are more likely to have children. Consider a tribal society that participates in a female virgin sacrifice ritual. On the first order, it would appear that such a ritual only subtracts an otherwise perfectly fertile female, lowering the total fertility of the population. However, the effects occur at the second order; there is an incentive to young women to copulate and reproduce as soon as possible, in order to avoid the possibility that they will be sacrificed. Thus, while the cost is concentrated—the death of one female virgin and the loss of her potential offspring—there are distributed gains in the form of increased fertility.

From a normative perspective, such a ritual might be described as barbaric, but its crude means of achieving higher fertility in the tribe is undeniable.

This is not to say, on the level of positive analysis, that all pro-fertility norms are created equal, nor that fertility is the only collective action problem that social norms organize society towards overcoming. There is, for instance, the question not only of how many children are being born, but also to whom. Likewise, changing technologies and other social trends can influence the effectiveness of a social norm.

As we are studying society from a postulate of evolution, it is impossible to overlook the role of human evolution. Ever since humans embraced culture (or better, were embraced by it), individuals have been filtered to different roles, positions, and status, which has significant influence over whether they will ultimately survive and reproduce. Culture is a human constructed environment, a set of regularities in the world that are contingent on humans and on which humans are contingent. Whatever adapts to and grows within a system, just due to the means by which that population extracts resources and distributes waste, changes the environment, and by extension changes the selection pressures exerted on that population.

One of the first salient examples of this phenomenon, in which the growth of a population had a later influence on the selection pressures facing a descendant population (progeny, removed by how ever many generations) would be when primordial, carbon dioxide breathing bacteria excreted oxygen into the atmosphere and thus poisoned their own environment. The success and adaptation of the bacteria population to a particular environment changed that environment, and in changing the environment changed the selection pressures exerted by the environment on the subsequent bacteria population. Genes and environment are perpetually influencing each other, for every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Some have discussed a phenomenon exclusive to humans, called gene-culture coevolution. This undoubtedly describes something, but it would be more appropriate to suggest a more general model of gene-environment coevolution, of which culture is a specific form and element of the environment. As a population increases in adaptedness to an environment, the more influence it will have over the environment as it begins to be a more significant part of the environment itself. The better a species can adapt to a changing environment, i.e. the more rapidly and intelligently it responds to present and future environmental selection pressures, the faster that species will evolve and, in turn, influence the environment. Genes and environment are in a feedback loop with each other, and in humans, because the bulk of selection pressures facing humans have their origin in human culture which is more immediately influenced by human genes, this feedback loop is much tighter than in virtually any other species.[1] This gene-environment interaction will play a significant role in later chapters.

We can produce some initial conclusions of the idea of gene-environment coevolution. The adaptation of a form to an environment precipitates the growing population of those forms which goes on to have more influence over the environment and eventually displaces the initial selection pressures that saw that form evolve. A stable environment that cannot be influenced by the population within it (e.g. bacteria in a petri dish maintained at a certain temperature by humans) will reach some final equilibrium[2], but this is limited to local arrangements and, sans a laboratory setting, inevitably either complete extinction of the population comes about or else it continues to grow and change the environment.

Humans are natural beings, the product of natural forces. It only makes sense to study man as another phenomena in the world. For all the ways he is like other things in the world, we should study him like those things. Our point of departure should always be to understand him as but a specific example of some more general phenomenon observed in the world. As much as possible, we will observe man from the perspective of biology and ecology, from which sociology and psychology emerge as phenomena to be studied.

[1] Cochran, Gregory and Harpending, Henry. The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution. Also see Wade, Nicholas. A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History.

[2] This might look like a second-order equilibrium, cf. the equilibrium observed in a Lotka-Volterra predator-prey equilibrium.

Semantic Communion

If you ask a dozen different people for a definition of ‘love,’ you will receive a dozen unique and incompatible definitions. Now, the definition of love is quite straightforward, provided one is standing within a solid philosophical tradition. ‘Love’ is ‘to will the good of another.’ This definition captures that essence of love which brings to mind that it is not reducible to feeling nor necessarily based in it, but involves action so as to bring about the good for someone else. We face a paradox when considering that, of a dozen people, you find a dozen distinct definitions; public discourse regularly features ‘love’ as a substantial principle for justifying certain behaviors as moral and good, and likewise to bring into question whether disapproval of those behaviors is mere bigotry. A word that people rarely use in the same way, yet somehow it decidedly drives a singular conclusion! How is this possible?

What is not taking place, clearly, is persuasion on the basis of a nuanced understanding of love. Rather, because ‘love’ cannot be strictly and orderly defined, those partaking of public discourse must reduce to referring to the broadest prejudices concerning love. The average person’s conception of love is more informed by movies and self-help books, rather than Aristotle or the Bible. They have in mind a vague theory that love is first and foremost about making someone happy; “tough love,” which is really only love, might be reserved for those cases when someone is entering into self-destructive behavior and they need a friend to tell them they are going down the wrong road. Primarily ‘love’ is about happy feelings, frequently inspired by attraction.

There is no reason for us to suppose that with other words more significant than ‘oil’ the situation is any better. The public discourse is dominated by ambiguity, a semantic orthopraxy of “You’re just supposed to agree with the conclusion already anyway.” The destination has been decided, you are to simply accept the path laid out for you by your betters. It was divined by the clerics of the Ivy League, these are only the public criers announcing the new orthodoxy for public benefit. Public discourse is not intended for discussion, but to twist the arms of the heretical.

This must be one of the reasons for the breakdown of public discourse. We are no longer able to use principled definitions of words, since the loudest do not even know the principles of an orderly definition and anyway it would offend the rest to find out their usage of words might not be of the same quality as their semiotic superiors. To introduce the definition of love I brought up above would be considered hateful and uncooperative.

The result is not a more tolerant public, but a greater suspicion by individuals against each other. The use of words, no longer allowed to be ordered according to the ends of the common good, become oriented towards defensiveness against unfair arguments. If your opponent can maneuver himself to the position of pathological superiority, whether that is because he has suffered more or just because he is not as privileged as you are, whatever you say can be discounted for no other reason than your opponent’s pathological superiority. [Ironically, this reliance on pathos so frequently develops into pathology. When you are allowed to get your way by throwing the disquisitional equivalent of a temper tantrum, you become refined at the art of the temper tantrum.]

Instead of engaging, the optimal strategy is to avoid ever being forced into a contest of oppression. As people become more generally estranged from each other semantically, the process exacerbates itself. The gains to discussion plummet, the risks increase catastrophically. This is conducive to a public which only use of the public conch is not imposing order but to decry and shame public enemies. Public discourse becomes little more than finding the witches to blame for whatever disliked event has taken place.

A high level of semantic communion is impossible at the level of a general public discourse that permits all entrants. This is, of course, the democratic standard maintained by social contract theorists such as Rawls, whose theory requires that afflicted populations can voice their grievances and expect recompense by those groups not so afflicted. It is only required that they encode their wants in the proper dialect of human rights and social justice.

What would be required for a high level of semantic communion, and this I do not mean by the public per se [which is always large and full of stupid people anyway], would be high barriers to entry. Rather than requiring that one only be able to speak the language of human rights, which is already taught in public elementary schools, it would be a requirement that someone show the capability of using words in a clearly definable and responsible way. Deviating greatly from common usage with an idiosyncratic definition for the mere purpose of deriving a controversial conclusion would be looked down upon, rather than praised and forwarded. The tendency would be towards the codification of a lexicon of words defined in a way that avoids producing contradiction and does not lend itself towards ad hominem formulas.

This will not take place in the arena of public discourse. It’s too disorderly, and will only become more disheveled over time. However, there is the possibility of developing high semantic communion by retreating. Rather than engage the public discourse, exit. Don’t accept their [no] standards, but insist on dialectical order. Pearls should not be cast to swine, but reserved for those able to appreciate such fine things of life.

Against Social Policy

Venture capital available for startups is in the total of billions of dollars. Yet the average startup fails, delivering little to no profit for investors. The reason such a strategy pays off is because of the fat tail; payoff can be extraordinary. Such a startup is the exception, but its exceptional profit more than makes up for the loss represented in the failures.

The same reasoning operates in the reverse when considering potential costs. Social policy initiatives imposed by government can have only limited returns but unlimited costs. Human nature cannot be much changed, and for the most part human organizations have already converged on local maxima. Additional gains are difficult and small, while the restructuring poses the risk of totally upsetting the local order due to some unforeseen problem which the social arrangement had converged on to solve.

We are overly focused on what can be quantified, to the point that our study of society is constrained by a methodological quantificationism: if it can’t be measured with the usual tools of statistical analysis, it must be unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Initially these tools were developed merely to help measure the world around us, but then the causality was reversed and sold as snake oil to democratic entrepreneurs. GDP is most useful as a measure when society is not being reorganized to boost GDP. The same goes for every tool in the economist’s and sociologist’s backpocket. Humans desperately want the world around them to be ordered and sensible, to the point that when an order does not immediately make itself legible to our understanding, we attempt to displace the organic order with an order more familiar to our understanding. Instead of sitting back and accepting that not all structural patterns will be immediately obvious to us, the anxiety provoked by order not easily reduced to our limited means of sense leads us to destroy the order.

Even if only one in a hundred social policies will end in utter disaster, that is sufficient to oppose social policies per se. The average social policy will not end in disaster; indeed, being charitable, the average social policy under competent management [though that certainly is not the case for our own “elite”] might bring positive social gains.

The problem is that it doesn’t make sense to expose oneself to unlimited risk for limited gains. Known and measurable costs should always be preferred to unknown and immeasurable costs. Human lives are a small price to pay for continuing to use a system that has proven it is resilient to natural forces.

Neoreaction is Always to Your Right

“No enemies to the right” is a rule among rightists for a simple reason. As soon as “too conservative” becomes a legitimate objection that must be given serious consideration, leftist values immediately manifest themselves. It is only from a leftist perspective that something could ever appear “too conservative” in the first place. Neoreaction embraces the “no enemies to the right” dictum in order to create a space for the development and analysis of conservative thought from a singularly rightist perspective. Leftist values have nothing to add to the discussion. This leads to the corollary “no friends to the left,” meaning that “too liberal” is itself always a legitimate objection that must be given serious consideration. To be less than totally and absolutely right is to be less than optimal; of course one approaches rightism per se asymptotically, thus there is the incentive to develop more conservative analysis.

Why right? Because society should be arranged so as to produce the best. Leftism, which allies the rulers with the least against the middle, leads to the endless reproduction of the least in society while penalizing the reproduction of the best and subsumes the middle into the least. If this occurs during a period of unparalleled cultural acceleration, then an intense selection event triggered by Gnon shall occur. Gene-culture co-evolution entails that genes cannot get too far past culture, and culture cannot get too far past genes, without being snapped back to equilibrium. Culture is man’s environment, and a rapidly changing environment leaves many unfit. Rightists, contrary to the caricature by leftists, are not seeking only destruction; they only see that society is more expensive than can be realized by those at the bottom, who are truly beneficiaries of the best more than the best are ever benefited by the least.

The conscious and ceaseless striving towards the right is the animating principle of neoreaction. This leads to a number of conclusions.

First, neoreaction is not a movement. It cannot be identified with any individual person or group. It is a culture, with its own bywords and norms which are intended to exclude anyone who might shrink from the task of striving rightward. Individuals, groups, and organizations may persist within neoreaction, but neoreaction is always an idea beyond capture of any person, doctrine, or magisterium.

Second, neoreaction is not new. It is involved in a task which any interested in the purpose of civilization and its operation naturally find themselves pursuing. It might at this moment espouse a novel synthesis of old beliefs with new words and methods, but there have been others in the world that concerned themselves with tending towards the right.

Third, neoreaction is always to your right. It does not exist for any right-oriented group’s purpose. Rather, those on the right exist for it. Neoreaction is not even for so-called neoreactionaries. You are allowed to enter its salons and discuss ideas with other like-minded and intellectually virtuous individuals, but this not for your own purposes but the purpose of neoreaction. Neoreaction is memetically sovereign; it picks and chooses what it likes from you, and not you from it.

Fourth, neoreaction cannot ally itself with anyone, but you can ally yourself with neoreaction. It cannot be subordinated, but as it is the manifestation of an organic, rightward telos, whatever would subordinate it misunderstands neoreaction and thus fails. You simply cannot get to the right of neoreaction, because neoreaction already occupies the extreme limit of rightward thought. Or at least that is the intent, and if it has not yet gone as far as it can, it will find its way there.

Fifth, neoreaction doesn’t care what you think, whether you agree or disagree with it. Neoreaction is not about you, you may only be about neoreaction. If you cannot tolerate this asymmetry, it’s just not for you.

Neoreaction is the incarnation of no enemies to the right. This rule does not entail there can be no valid objections against a position which is to your right, only that “it is too far to the right/not far enough to the left” is always an invalid objection. The ideal of an objection to a position that happens to be to the right should be in order to improve upon it, either to produce an argument superior to the past formulation you are objecting to, or to go even further right than the previous doctrine had achieved. Likewise, to be to the left counts against a position, but it must still be soundly refuted according to the way it fails to be a tenable idea of society.

Finally, who is and who is not neoreactionary is not a matter of public knowledge or debate. Anyone can claim it, but true NRx knows itself. The boundaries are occult, and if you can perceive them, it is only because you are already inside. If for whatever reason you want to make yourself useful to neoreaction, some advice: read, write, discuss, question everything, efface yourself. If you’re meant for neoreaction, you’ll find yourself within it whether you want to be or not.

Social Justice and Slave Morality

All morality is self-serving. This isn’t intuitive or apparent, but given psychological egoism, whatever someone does, whatever they promote, they promote because they find it to somehow serve a value or intention of their own. From the perspective which evaluates an individual to always be acting on the basis of individual survival, this will be overlooked, but per game theoretic evaluations of the transmission of genes, there is a favoring of limited altruism, especially one which gives precedence to the genes invested in family members. So it might be better to say that morality arises in order to be gene-serving.

This is not to say all moralities serve this equally well, but given the influence of incentives on the subconscious and its desire for power, there will tend to be a convergence on moralities respecting this fundamental element of genetic priority. After all, were a morality meme to not be helpful even locally in the transmission of genes of those who hold that belief, it would quickly be replaced. Memeplexes which transmit mostly horizontally, from unrelated individual to unrelated individual, should be suspected of overvaluing the present, since it requires a just valuing of the future relative to the present to assist in the development of conditions that lead to the vertical transmission of a genes.

For this reason, neoreaction disbelieves in social justice much like Voltaire disbelieves in God. To the average person who even recognizes they hold some belief about social justice [though of these, vanishingly few are actually familiar with the theory and literature, as I will show], the concept of explicitly disbelieving in social justice is an inexpressible horror, so far removed from possibility that it can only be explained by serious moral or intellectual defect, and likely both. The idea that, say, a neoreactionary might both understand the liberal tradition in which social justice was developed and reject it is preposterous, simply unbelievable. If one wishes to be convinced of the priority of social justice, well, they only need educate themselves, much like anyone who will be convinced of the Christian God and His irresistible grace, assuming they are of the elect rather than the damned, need only read the Bible.

And the Saints do persevere, for otherwise they were never really a social justice advocate. It was remarked on Twitter, in response to this recently written article [hold your nose and plow through it, we’re going to make use of this turgid choir preaching], that an understanding of neoreaction cannot be gained without giving up your prog soul. A faith in social justice and the recognition of the demands laid on humanity by Gnon are mutually exclusive; as soon as you see Gnon, you cannot go back.

Social justice advocacy, more often than not, is promoted from a place of ignorance. Much like the lampooned fundamentalist Christian with a poor knowledge of Scripture, these social justice fundamentalists are equally ignorant of the intellectual tradition which esteemed social justice as the first among all values. Consider this passage from the article above:

A focus of unwavering belief is meritocracy: if you’re successful, then you deserve it because you’re superior. If you’re superior—and Redpillers are prone to deem themselves so—then you deserve to be successful. The presence of one without the other, such as success without merit or merit without success (especially in regards to oneself), is evidence of some kind of social-justice trickery.

Ignoring the blatantly uncharitable framing of views actually espoused by the loosely grouped-together “Redpillers,” the writer reveals his ignorance of the very tradition that he speaks from. The idea that merit and success, which I am assuming is defined as “obtaining a decent standard of living,” should be separated is exactly the point of social justice. These “Redpillers” as they are referred to, who maintain there is a concerted set of conspiracies to produce a world where you can be guaranteed success regardless of merit, a kind of world where each gives according to his ability and each receives according to his needs, is one of the characteristic marks of the liberal tradition going back to the Enlightenment. The charge against social justice, that it awards status and prestige to the undeserving, is only to describe the idea of social justice itself.

Though there has been much kerfuffle over cultural Marxism, this really only obfuscates a structural tendency of the liberal tradition itself. To see this, we can consult the pre-eminent social justice warrior himself, the academic “philosopher” John Rawls. Before spending too much time mired in the exotic technicalities of Continental philosophy, anyone who concerns himself with social justice should consult the blueprints as detailed in A Theory of Justice.

A set of principles is required for choosing among the various social arrangements which determine this division of advantages and for underwriting an agreement on the proper distributive shares. These principles are the principles of social justice: they provide a way of assigning rights and duties in the basic institutions of society and they define the appropriate distribution of the benefits and burdens of social cooperation.[1]

A feature of social justice as described by Rawls is specifically the institutional separation of merit and success. From the perspective of a liberal such as Rawls, this theoretic separation is not worth greatly emphasizing, as innate, genetic influences on the success of an individual are specifically discounted as having any great role in the explanation of the observed success of individuals. The success of individuals has mostly to do with their initial starting position in life, rather than any individual merit.

The basic structure is the primary subject of justice because its effects are so profound and present from the start. The intuitive notion here is that this structure contains various social positions and that men born into different positions have different expectations of life determined, in part, by the political system as well as by economic and social circumstances. In this way the institutions of society favor certain starting places over others. These are especially deep inequalities. … It is these inequalities, presumably inevitable in the basic structure of any society, to which the principles of social justice must in the first instance apply.[2]

Notice that success is considered to occur only rarely due to merit. Rather, success is determined by the “basic structure” of society, which are its institutions and the chosen means for according the distribution of wealth, opportunity, and prestige. Only later does Rawls appear to admit of the possibility of genetic, rather than merely institutional, determinants of success, describing as an element of his theory of justice as fairness that his is “a conception of justice that nullifies the accidents of natural endowment.”[3] From each according to his ability, and each according to his needs. Natural endowment, or “good genes,” are specifically discounted as a reason deserving of success. Merit and success are explicitly singled out for separation; merit is, according to social justice, not a reason for success, and a lack of merit is not a reason for a lack of success. So when “Redpillers” point to obvious cases of success without merit being evidence of “social-justice trickery,” that is because social justice is explicitly described as intending to achieve this affect.

Social justice can be aptly described as a slave morality.[4] It is a moral system designed by slaves to benefit themselves, putting restraints on powerful elites so that they will not and cannot exploit their inferiors. Social justice is self-serving, especially for the mass of the public that could not afford their success without having their lack of merit be overlooked. This is a slave morality in distinction from a theory of justice as equality, ironically, because this conception of justice maintains that so much as some are dissimilar, they ought be treated differently, and only so much as some are similar they ought be treated equally. It is slaves who would have the interest to be treated a certain way not according to any relative merit of theirs, whereas an elite has no reason to promote such a morality except for short term gains in a democracy that rewards pandering to slaves. This is especially prescient given the most fierce advocates of social justice are, coincidentally, also the most marginal, psychologically ill, and generally unmeritorious who yet demand the respect afforded to noble virtue.

The development of this slave morality, and especially its promotion through mainstream channels of opinion formation, is the inevitable result of society’s gradual democratization. It is the terminal stage of democracy, when “those who are equal in any respect […] claim to be absolutely equal.”[5] Everyone wants to believe they are special, everyone wants to have success and more importantly believe they deserve their success. This is taken as the natural state of things, and as such any deviation from this implies usurpation and subversion, laying the groundwork for the most apparently oligarchic class to be increasingly marginalized, enslaved, and finally liquidated as standing in the way of the democratic eschaton [“You can find Redpiller arguments in any sufficiently young, sufficiently white, sufficiently male internet company”].  Those who believe in social justice do not merely propose some values for arranging society, but depend essentially upon a positive and potentially empirically falsifiable hypothesis, which is that the laws of nature observed in the animal kingdom can be entirely thrown off by man’s reason; it is the myth of Prometheus, that the gods might ultimately be set outside the determination of man’s fate.

 

[1] Rawls, John. A Theory of Justice. p. 4

[2] Ibid. p. 7

[3] Ibid. p. 15

[4] It is worth noting that this hardly entails an advocacy of Nietzsche’s ostensible master morality.

[5] Aristotle. Politics, Book V.

Religion, Coteleology, and the Gnonnic Eschaton, Part 3

It is worth remembering to oneself from time to time that foolishness really exists. Some people in the world are simply fools, and it is not worth withholding the application of this label to those whom truly deserve. Someone who buys lottery tickets is, in a nontrivial even if not a morally grave sense, foolish. Evaluating whether something is foolish is not so simple as universal rules, but exercises prudence within the reasonable bounds of one’s situation.

Within politics, this is doubly the case. In the way we recognize the value of humility in the care of our body, entrusting ourselves to medical doctors and licensed professionals who have uncommon knowledge and experience that will help to perform the job far more competently than we could, it only makes sense to entrust the duty of governance to an elite,  rather than a mass. There is really no other way to describe a fervent belief in democracy, other than to say it is foolish. Children are perpetually in need of an adult to exercise prudence on their behalf, and there is nothing about being an adult which guarantees the wisdom and foresight to exercise prudence on one’s own behalf. Probably most people require, and deserve, a benign slavery which affords them nearly unlimited discretion as to what they shall do but still a mastery which reserves to itself the right to direct their behavior. Nothing need be prohibited provided nothing need be subsidized, including and especially foolishness. Let fools their foolishness, and let the rest to theirs.

Antidem had a piece of spiritual depth on the allure of Elua, which preys on the foolishness of man, on his giving in to unrefined, undisciplined desire. What has been lost in losing religion has been not only some irrelevant metaphysical commitments, but specifically a whole self-contained structure that dictated a way of life, an attempt at a synthesis between the best way for the individual to live and the best way for society to impose relations between those individuals. The deconversion of Europe from Christianity to secularism did not necessitate that all that was good and necessary for life was preserved, regardless of one’s religious commitments. In addition to the loss of some seemingly unnecessary dogmas suggesting that God became embodied as a human being in order to draw only the barest outline of a way to live, tell people to eat your body and drink your blood, die, come back to life, appoint spiritual successors of your authority, and start a religion, also lost was significant information about what life could reasonably be expected to provide.

We have persuaded ourselves that with our technology, our political order, and most importantly our enlightened values, the world itself has substantially changed such that we can expect what no ancestor in our past could ever expect. This was never proven to be the case so much as we simply decided nothing our ancestors told us was good information strongly selected for propagation by the logic of evolution and thus quasi-superintelligent. Why tradition, or better, a rational traditionalism as opposed to a mere tradition of rationalism [for this idea of the absolute discounting of past ideas to be measured on the merits we have decided upon in the present according to what are really only the latest, rather than best-evidenced, theories of thesis selection]? We operate from a position of default naivety, such that we approach whatever we have not intensively studied for ourselves from what we consider to be obvious, though what is obvious so rarely is to anyone else. Like the atheist prima facie argument to otherwise naive Christians, why afford special treatment to your own views over that of the views of others? Better, what makes you think you aren’t affording special treatment to whatever you haven’t intensively studied?

Who passed down the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, which demonized the behavior of the erstwhile Sodomites? Communities which did not fall prey to their high preference inclinations, their nearest wants and desires that seemed immediately satiable and put off caring for the future. If you are reading the myth for the sense that God is a arbitrarily powerful tyrant only looking to ruin people’s good times, you are reading it wrong. The story has been passed down because the behavior it proscribes is essential to its propagation. As a meme, it instilled values, ways of being, that helped to ensure it would be passed down. What should be inferred from this is that it provided valuable information, information which was crucial to the community of Israelites being successful in maintaining their society over time. Whatever it encodes, it encodes something that produces a modification of behavior, something which has a fixed rate of both improvement in propagation of the genetic component, and the cultural component.

Religion should be understood for what it was in its host societies: a highly adaptive memeplex. Observing only its imperfections leaves a lot overlooked which is worth treasuring, if not for its agreement with our principles, at least for the internal logic of behavior it managed to incur. Think of the Hebrew Bible, which is composed not only of primordial myths of dense theological meaning, but also a Law defining terms of recompense and duties quite obviously of cladistic descent of the Law of Hammurabi. The religion of Israel was composed of both a metaphysics continuum in which response to ethical information is encoded [think of metaphysics as being the code of our OS, which then implements the “code” of memes which become another component informing our priors which ultimately is a component of how we respond to the world], and also distinguished an intersection with law, norms of the community consciously imposed by violence. This represented a genuine social development, a conscious internalization of the world that first permitted our intelligence to take a role in consciously shaping our own memetic architecture. If one wanted to submit a religious speculation, such a development represents the manifestation of a law of nature which had otherwise been outside of observation.

Jesus acted to develop a self-conscious culture, modifying the memetic architecture to capture the beneficial element of a religious myth as storing significant information worth maintaining. It adapted the idea of a non-lineage dependent priesthood, which acted to allow it to adapt the deposit of faith across cultures, providing it a horizontal memetic immunity. A body of judges that superseded but also acted to significantly constrain political governments, and would be equally adaptable in constraining non-political governments [think like anarcho-capitalism, cf. family as kingdom]. Revelation in a certain sense becomes an insight in response to Gnon, which commands a dutiful attention in the care of its transmission. It permits the development of doctrine, producing rules for its own continual adaptation into the future to shepherd man. There is a reason for the bishop’s crosier.

The end result of this self-conscious sense of doctrine for informing personal behavior and the structure of society is to begin providing traction for intelligence in our beginning to adapt to the potential for a social mastery over forces of greater magnitude and power than those immediate in our environment. The human individual and, particularly, his intelligence is highly adapted to the specific tasks facing the individual and his navigation within the world, but the potential for improving man’s control over his destiny through social coordination has scarcely been tapped; the gene component of gene-culture co-evolution, which are balanced directly against another. Culture is a real thing, a real force which humans can be adapted to, or not. Cultural evolution requires genetic investment, and we’ve been borrowing heavily against the future. Biological forms transmit energy into the world to preserve its equilibrium in a certain way, and so do social forms. Note that things in an environment cannot change without changing the environment in some way.

Religion is an animating component of society, a soul to a body. Christendom was once such a society, with the Catholic Church as its head, but now the Cathedral has established its intellectual headship as the formal priesthood of the liberal order. Of note is that it has thus far evaded conscious detection as a rival religion, but this is really only an accident of the worldview it promotes about itself; it positions itself as irreligion, but there is no reason that from a different religious perspective on what constitutes the basis of religion per se, it is not just a religion of irreligion. Indeed, another aspect of its evasion is that it is thus far an extremely virulent if mild memeplex, transmitting itself horizontally only with the help of intensive capital investment into the institutions and sacraments of its orthopraxis. This engenders a certain critique of the Cathedral, in that it is not wrong to impose some final, singular vision of the world, but only that it does so very poorly. It evolved opportunistically, but sacrificed resilient vertical transmission to increase its horizontal transmission in the short run; think of it as a memeplex which is only a less extreme form of the mind virus which leads to infertile societies that cease to exist for a shortage of new families to convert children from. It only scarcely exerts control over society, adapting more to society and the destruction of social gates, Chesterton walls built by the corpses of our ancestors, who should not be so readily disinterred.

This elite class, a priesthood consciously influencing man to achieve its destiny, are prophets of the Gnonnic eschaton, who represent an exposition of the world’s teleology, of which society is co-teleological in purpose. It is arranged into a clergy within an ecclesiological structure, concerning itself with the maintenance of social technology, a culture building culture. The Cathedral is, comparatively, the priesthood of a false god, Elua, who is not aligned with Gnon and thus the wrath of Gnon must fall.

It often happens that God shows more clearly his manner of working in the distribution of good and bad fortune. For if punishment were obviously inflicted on every wrongdoing in this life, it would be supposed that nothing was reserved for the last judgment, on the other hand, if God’s power never openly punished any sin in this world, there would be an end to belief in providence. Similarly in respect of good fortune; if God did not grant it to some petitioners with manifest generosity, we should not suppose that these temporal blessings were his concern, while if he bestowed prosperity on all just for asking we might think that God was to be served merely for the sake of those rewards, and any service of him would prove us not godly but rather greedy and covetous.

St. Augustine, City of God

Not All Reaction is Created Equal

Most entryism is unintentional. It is spontaneous, a response by a system to incentives external to it to adapt in order to gain credence and credibility according to that external system of incentives. In order to adapt and begin taking advantage of the external incentives, it must orient its purpose towards alignment with those external incentives. This takes place unintentionally, by some individuals who hold sway over the community making appeals to the larger culture less in order to preserve a healthy dynamic but to cash out internal status for power and prestige within the external system, subordinating the internal value system to its designs.

Why would any individual shirk the internal value system in favor of the external value system? Certainly he must realize that, in disavowing the internal value system of the community it will only subordinate that community to the value system of others. That individual subordinates himself to a larger body in order that, by rearranging the internal value system to be more aligned with the external value system, he can gain more status internally as well as externally, raising his position within the group relatively and in the wider culture absolutely.

What is significant is that an entryist doesn’t need to recognize his own actions as being entryist. He might think it represents an organic growth converging on the values of the external value system, which are taken as natural. This convergence on the values of the external system, in other words, is taken as just the natural progression in the maturation of the group. This is especially hidden from the individual the more he is able to ground his motivations in defining features of the in-group and its internal value system. If he already has high status according to how status is recognized by the internal value system, so the reasoning goes, he could not be an entryist because he did not enter at a later point in time but was there from the beginning.

“Entryism,” despite its name, implies not so much an entry of individuals so much as individuals allowing entry of values otherwise foreign to the in-group, but aligned with the external system, to enter. This is the entryism worth fearing, and which precipitates future individuals entering in order to further the group along its recalibration in service of the external value system, dissipating the original internal value system that initially coordinated the community and assigned status.

What would entryism within neoreaction look like? It would appear as outsiders making critiques in the sense that it fails to converge on their preconceived values. Someone forwarding this critique internally, whether or not it was done with the intent of changing the orientation of the community towards the implied external value system, would be guilty of entryism.

Neoreaction, let it be known, is sovereign. It has values and methods of its own which are intended to distinguish it from, rather than allow it to converge on, the value systems of failed rightist critiques. You are free to follow, but any calls for neoreaction to follow you will be straightforwardly denied. The way forward is not by trying what was tried and failed before, but by attempting a new critique, a new method, a new value system. Neoreaction draws on, but is not coterminous with, other rightist value systems. It transcends these, taking for itself whatever is useful but only according to its own understanding. If you are not neoreactionary, perish the thought that it should approximate your own values.

Not all reaction is created equal. If you’ve been around longer and demonstrably failed to have the influence you say is necessary to make society right, you will be studied as a model of failed rightism. You will be processed, not pursued. Join, support, or get out of the way.

Those in the know will understand my intent. Those not will just have to follow.

A Hylomorphic Theory of Everything

I would like to succinctly summarize my view of science. Some definitions [I note they draw on, but are not necessarily coterminous with, their usage by certain philosophical systems]:

Form: the what it is to be a thing. Form is potentially separable from, but not able to be instantiated without, matter.

Matter: that which constitutes the elemental parts of a thing; it is possible to replace the material of a thing yet retain its form. All matter exists as the matter of a form, there is no formless matter.

Substance: a thing which exists; it is the composition of form and matter.

Emergence: the formation of a thing via interaction between substances. It occurs as the descent by form into equilibrium.

Interaction: causally efficient action between substances.

Strata: class of substances which has some essential form of interaction.

A summary of my theory is that each substance emerges as the result of interaction within a given strata. When a form emerges, it emerges as a system which imputes a tendency of the materially constituent substrata towards its preservation. To put that less technically, a form exists as a system of parts which each influence the parts to act in such a way that the form exists over time, though every form remains subject to corruption.

This might seem a very no-nonsense approach, but it is not actually the metaphysical paradigm of modern science. Modern theory views emergence as a kind of causally efficient ascent; the parts cause the form. My theory views emergence as a causally formal descent; forms emerge because they are, metaphorically, downhill of their respective material constituents. The field of chemistry works as applied physics because chemical interaction is downhill of physical interaction. The “ascent” model gives the appearance that the mechanical operation of individual parts are the cause of substance, rather than it being that material parts in seeking equilibrium produce these forms. Chemicals emerge from physical interaction for the same reason that spheres emerge from the interaction of soapy water and gas. Form is a minima, rather than a maxima.

It is essential to note that my definition of matter is opposed to the modern usage by science. Under the modern paradigm, matter is strictly identical with the physical. Under my usage, while the physical is material, the material is not physical, in just the same way a square is rectangular while a rectangle is not square. Something is material if and only if it functions as the constituent part of a form. In this way, what we should instead say about the emergent relation between physics and chemistry is that “The physical is the material of the chemical.”

This is significant because, while it is true that the modern paradigm has effectively unified the study of chemistry and physics, it has found itself unable to unify other scientific theories by insisting on the equivalence of the material and the physical. By obviating this identification, we can go on to say that “For any given strata, it emerges as the interaction of material forms.” Given matter is not just the physical, we can say something like “Biological form emerges as the interaction of chemical forms,” where the chemical is the material of the biological.

In addition, because my theory proposes emergence as a formal descent, it is possible for something to emerge as a plurality of strata without requiring discretely temporal events. Whereas a conception of emergence which requires discrete efficient cause cannot have something emerge simultaneously as one form of interaction in addition to another form of interaction, there are some forms of interaction which emerge simultaneously and only become differentiated with material addition of the premergent form. For example, an atom possesses chemical properties, but these chemical properties become differentiated when you have more interaction between atoms. This is to say that the material always possesses characteristics of its potential composite strata, without necessarily manifesting those qualities in a way significant to the analysis of that strata. This will make more sense when I begin describing how different strata relate to each other.

All form is potential matter, while all matter is actual form. Interaction is always an interaction for the purpose of obtaining equilibrium. Equilibrium is never actually obtained, but approached asymptotically.

That is the briefest outline of my theory. I will apply it to presently understood forms of causal interaction to show why this approach is superior.

Because there is no matter per se, and further matter is not identical to physical interaction, we can begin to break down certain theory groupings. The field of physics includes, but is not exhausted by, the study of energy, temperature, mass, entropy, atoms, quarks, strings, black holes, universes, quanta, and so on. It should be noted that these examples are not examples of any one thing besides that they are grouped together into “physics.” Why should this be? What is the essential quality shared between these different phenomena? There is some aspect to the form of their interaction which unifies and makes them subject to their particular methodology.

From physical interaction, chemical interaction emerges. There is a trait of chemical interaction which serves to differentiate it from physical interaction such that the tools particularly suited to the description and explanation of the physical must at least by complemented by additional restriction on methodology. Some forms of interaction within the physical, because the chemical encapsulates this interaction and introduces a novel aspect to its strata not found in the physical, for this novel aspect manifests as physical interaction at equilibrium. This relationship between the physical and chemical can be taken as a model for how other strata relate. Emergent strata are possessed of, but not exhausted by, the traits particular to their matter.

In the way that chemical interaction emerges of physical interaction, biological interaction emerges of chemical interaction. Again, the chemical formally descends to the biological; the biological is in turn possessed of characteristics particular to the chemical, encapsulating but not exhausted by chemical interaction. The biological is differentiated from the chemical by a trait novel to chemical interaction, but this novel trait is always a formal potential quality of chemical interaction.

Now, usually by the modern scientific paradigm psychology is postulated as emergent from biology. Ontologically, this appear intuitive; if we are identifying biological form with chemical matter arranged in a particular way, then psychology appears to be biological form arranged in a particular way. This is where my doctrine of formal descendance plays a role. While the psychological is a strata which depends upon the biological and forms a part of its matter, the form of interaction is being made prior over ontological form. Biological interaction does permit the eventual emergence of the psychological, but the psychological does not immediately emerge from the biological.

I will note here that the relationship between the physical and chemical was a bit simplified in order to begin to draw the crucial analogy. The physical, it is worth noting, is not identical to one particular theory or phenomena, but references a set of related theories and phenomena. In this case, following my emergent classification, the physical itself should be further unpacked. The atomic is the immediate precursor of the chemical, however the atomic emerges of the subatomic, i.e. electrons, protons, and neutrons.

Electrons are, unlike protons and neutrons, not apparently divisible.* This suggests that protons and neutrons are not of the same strata as electrons. This is, under my theory, sensible, as it is not necessary that the matter of a form are all of the same strata. A human being, we note, is a substance formally constituted by multiple strata, such as iron [atomic], water [chemical], and mind [psychological]. But this gets ahead of ourselves.

Neutrons and protons, in turn, emerge as the interaction of simpler forms, such as quarks. These themselves may or may not emerge of even simpler forms, but it is not important to our analysis what those are. Crucial to note is that this theory is agnostic on whether there is any fundamental material level.

The strata to emerge of biological interaction is ecological interaction. Biological forms are the matter of an ecological form. Ecology is the form of relations that hold between biological forms for a given local space. Given biological forms can exist without significant ecological interaction, we say that ecology emerges of biology. Ecology depicts relations of predatory competition, while it is possible for biological forms to interact without this forming predatory competition [note that predatory competition in this case does not require actually eating prey, only the use of violence to compete for resources].

From the ecological form of interaction emerges the sociological form of interaction. Predatory competition gives way cooperation between individuals. This is not to say that predatory competition ever leaves society [society is not identical to sociological interaction; think socio-logic more than sociology the modern social science], but that cooperation involves a novel trait not found in competition, though there are also forms of competition augmented by elements of cooperation just as there are forms of atoms augmented by elements of chemistry. The sociological form of interaction is inherently potential to the ecological form of interaction which makes possible, but does not necessitate, the sociological form of interaction which involves cooperation.

Psychological interaction emerges from sociological interaction. By this account, psychology is developed in order to make better use of sociological interaction, by permitting the development of more complicated systems of relations. This is akin to the way ecological interaction is the precursor to the evolution of carnivores.

Beyond this further speculation may be made, but this is the basic outline of the theory. To be incorporated yet are certain key theories such as evolution or fields such as economics, but I am confident they could not be classified as forms of interaction rather than either descriptions of the process of strata over time or else seeing key insights be touched upon as limits on how interaction can develop. Something else could emerge from the psychological, perhaps the technological, which depends essentially upon and appears formally descendant of psychological interaction. In principle, there may be an infinite level of strata, all potential in the very lowest of strata and avoiding our observation for failing to significantly manifest themselves as a crucial element in present equilibria. Linguistic interaction, for example, might emerge of psychological interaction; it could be something even more general, such as signaling interaction, which is achieved in the sociological strata. At times, elements from a descendant form can influence the material strata in a way that material strata cannot effect on itself, such as how acidity, a chemical form of interaction, can corrode physical substances or domestication, a sociological form of interaction, can influence the evolution of biological species. Of note is the potential for a descendant strata to cause disorder in the substrata it depends upon, disordering itself in the process [such as how sociological interaction can corrupt the ecological substrata it depends upon].

I believe that evolution, which is presently applied as a theory particular to biology, might better be generalized further, of which the elimination of disorder and subsequent descent of remaining ordered systems over time is a property intrinsic to entropy. This process of evolution manifests itself through particular means in each strata, of which genes happens to be the causally efficient mechanism of encoding biological form. However, this process of the corruption of individuals such that relative disorder is selected out more rapidly than relative order and permitting the greater likelihood of the transmission of order also occurs on the level of the psychological [learning] and the sociological [culture].

There are, obviously, a number of kinks to be worked out, but I think this sufficiently illustrates the working principles of my theory to give us a start in making clearer and more certain descriptions of scientific knowledge.

Doctrines:

  • Forms act to obtain equilibrium.
  • Emergence is formal descendance.
  • A form may be constituted by multiple strata.
  • All form is potential matter.
  • All matter is actual form.

An Introduction to Behavioral Verificationism, Part 1

A good and useful idea, if formulated in bad faith, will preserve in its form rhetorical vulnerabilities which would not be present if it were not formulated in order to arbitrarily rule out some particular argument or form of argument. For instance, a bad faith formulation of the fact that humans stereotype implies that stereotyping is wrong, and humans are wrong to stereotype; this overlooks the positive, non-normative account of stereotyping, which points out that for an agent only able to access limited information as filtered through direct experience and indirectly by the compressed experience [wisdom] of others, it follows that stereotyping is a useful means of orienting oneself in the world. In fact, stereotyping is not only not wrong, but is the default mode of human understanding. Every idea of a group of things that we choose to classify together on the basis of some shared quality, e.g. biological species, proposes a stereotype, and in reference to this stereotype we implement a number of caveats so that all individuals we intend to fall under the classification will be included. Thus we understand the idea of a species of zebra through the postulate of an individual or pair of zebras [male and female, for though they are relevantly different per se in that their natures are fundamentally distinct, they are also relevantly complementary under the notion of ‘species‘], and from this starting point we go on to attribute a range of sizes, behaviors, life strategies, and so on.

Someone might say that “But the idea of a zebra per se must be a total account.” Maybe, but if this were the case, it would follow that no such idea of a zebra exists. No mind save that of God can present to itself a total account of zebra, but must recall to itself through a series of temporally linked material states a strategic recounting of data structured into a theory of zebra. “But I’m talking about ideas, not ‘temporally linked material states.” Then what exactly do you mean? We can’t take the idea of ‘idea’ for granted, whatever that means anyway.

The only thing I consider obvious about the world is that nothing is obvious. It is precisely those things which appear self-evident, true in the sense that they can be neither argued for nor against, which can impose blind spots in our understanding of the world. They are the ideas we consider everything in terms of, and being in all our ideas, are something we cannot remove from our thought to consider the world without their informing of our thought. The ‘self-evident’ can impose a blind spot in the case it informs our behavior so that we never put ourselves in a situation, practically or conceptually, to see how one might understand through, around, or without that idea. “Either the evidence agrees with me, or the evidence is irrelevant” is one of these very neat, binding tricks which leaves a person unable to doubt himself and the veracity of his idea, which so far as I am concerned is the same as simply not understanding what one thinks he understands. From a position of imperfect information and knowledge, doubt of one’s beliefs is always hypothetically possible. Even assuming the ability to implement a perfect Bayesian calculus, from a position of imperfect information that always leaves at least two entirely distinct conceptual possibilities that fits everything we know. [This does not mean both conceptual possibilities are equal on other merits we might consider relevant for choosing between them, but merely speaking in terms of strict metaphysical possibility…]

The entire analytic tradition of epistemology since Descartes might be described as the attempt to interject certainty into a system we know is always imperfect. The notion of apodictic certainty is held up as the Holy Grail even at the same time it gains its status as such because it has been thoroughly discredited as a possibility. This is as opposed to previous epistemological traditions which never took perfect knowledge as a reasonable or practical goal. This tradition of fallibility was accepted as a straightforward concession of the fact that we are not God. The objection against an epistemological system that it doesn’t “grant access to certainty” is null; it isn’t sensible as a practical goal of human ratiocination or understanding.

It was the latter absolutizing of the human self that made certain knowledge appear either necessary, possible, or even desirable; by this ‘absolutizing’ I mean the granting of the relevant metaphysical possibility of an idealism that treats the human individual as a potential atom, for all we know identical with the Parmenidean One [Kant] or God-via-solipsistic-monotheism [Berkeley]. Knowledge appeared accessible through the activity of the individual alone, rather than necessarily a product of society’s interaction with the world and itself over time developing language and particular internally consistent games within those languages. This conceptual absolutization of the human self was one of those conceptual sweeps that oriented us towards a self-aggrandizing and self-serving interpretation of Reason which has occluded our access to the causes of our knowledge, mistaking ends with means and form with matter.

Truth is a good goal of rational inquiry, but it cannot be its means; were truth required as a means, it should not be a possible goal because perfection cannot be derived from imperfection. We are not, at the same time, stranded, for we are able to say that ‘truth’ is a quality of propositions, and by extension truth is about the world insofar as propositions are a part of the world. To be true does not require that a proposition be a perfect, 1:1 representation of something out in the world, because no such thing is possible given the constraints of human reason. Rather, we may say that something is true because it points us towards something; thus it is teleological, rather than efficient. Reason is understood teleologically, even by those otherwise invested in an ateleological, mechanistic metaphysics. The activity of reasoning cannot be separated from the potential of this perfect mapping of what mentally derived propositions are about. Truth is, as it were, an arrow, and even an arrow aimed away from the ground will eventually fall back to it. The “tendency towards truth,” as it were, should be understood as an intrinsic feature of social ratiocination, expressed through behavior.

Does knowledge exist? Setting aside the modern, infallibilist interpretation, we are able to say yes even if there is no example of a proposition which is true in the sense of granting some absolute, perfect access to “what is out there.” Consider, if you will, the difference between knowledge which does inform behavior, and knowledge which does not: conceptually, the idea of knowledge which has no influence on behavior would mean that such knowledge exists and yet lacks any material embodiment. It must be immaterial, which means that unless we place that knowledge in God and/or the Heaven of Forms [meaning we understand by intuiting this/these Form/s], it doesn’t exist. And if it doesn’t exist, then, well… what are you talking about exactly? You can’t point me towards it, there’s no way for it to “hit me over the head” if I’m wrong, the universe or Gnon’s will cannot correct me, there is no means to prove that I’m lost or wrong except in your own head. If one is concerned with knowledge that does exist, our theory of knowledge must include a metaphysical accounting of the production of knowledge and its purpose. [Clearly, something which doesn’t exist doesn’t need to have a purpose to not exist; it is precisely that lack of purpose which “allows” it to not exist, as it were.] In contrast to the modernist, Platonified conception of knowledge [which is not to say all modernist conceptions are Platonic, or vice versa], I will propose an Aristotelian conception.

This conception I call behavioral verificationism. While it draws on both the practical philosophical traditions of behaviorism and verificationism, it is not strictly identical to either. It can be summarized very simply: the meaning of a sentence is identical to potential behavior.

Though simple to summarize, it suggests that knowledge exists insofar as it informs behavior. It is cohesive with a strictly non-Platonified conception of meaning and meaning transmission, in addition to a means of setting forth a paradigm of philosophical inquiry without deformulating metaphysics.

In the next part, I shall start the discussion by discussing how we determine what words and sentences mean.

Smash the Overton Window

The Overton window is a concept meant to describe the breadth of acceptable, or politically feasible, opinion. Since most of our knowledge is effectively outsourced to experts and their own motivations, whether about science or religion or politics, individual opinion is usually little more than sociopolitical predisposition plus a survey of espoused opinions, choosing those which seem to best “fit” one’s uncritiqued priors. Once the ego has been invested into a political identity, the individual sets out to find evidence to support their beliefs. This initial process should not, assuming it is individually initial, be looked down upon: we all need to start somewhere, and it is our beliefs that direct us to engaging reality. What differentiates the political philosopher from the mere political philistine is in the way the former seeks to prove himself wrong whereas the latter seeks to prove himself right.

In the most recent election, 129 million citizens voted, for a total turnout of 55% among eligible voters. [This is assuming negligible fraud, but the rate of fraud doesn’t impact my analysis.] Whatever else is to be said about this, it represents the fact that at least 129 million voters nominally agree with the legitimacy of the political order, and could find someone who sufficiently represented their views so as to cast their vote for them. Among these voters, the outcome resulted in 98% of representative positions open for election being captured by Republicans and Democrats. We can infer, then, that roughly half of eligible voters have political opinions that do not significantly differentiate them from either the Republican or Democratic platform. Whatever else an individual might say about his vote and protest loudly that he does not actually agree, at the end of the day he still believes in the legitimacy of the American federal government and that most of its policies are politically justified, even if he may disagree that they are economically or culturally justified. This means that, for a nation of 300+ million people, the range of political opinion is, from a historical perspective, extremely narrow. Even just 200 years ago, it should have been impossible for a population of 300 million to have such tightly coordinated political opinion. Opinion diversity, like so many other things in our increasingly globalized and interconnected world, is at a local historical low. [The only other times it might realistically have been lower was when there were just fewer people around anyway; and even then, considered the totality of beliefs that flow into the notion of the legitimacy of authority, these opinions varied widely by myth and purpose.]

How is such a narrow coordination of political opinion possible? It would have to be something which could be standardized and disseminated to each and every citizen; but, like advertising, it should appear unlikely that it is merely the persuasive effect of these opinions alone that generate such a high degree of political conformity, but the recognition, or at least the illusion, that everyone else thinks this way. The mass media and mass education complexes enjoy a historically unparalleled power to induce a conformity of opinion not only by, as it were, holding the conch, but because they can present these opinions as the opinions of anybody who is somebody that matters. Opinion that diverges to any non-trivial degree can be delegitimized and outright shouted down with nothing more than the suggestion that everyone believes otherwise.

The primary mechanism generating such an extremely narrow breadth of political opinion is nothing more than the appearance of conformity. You throw in the way in which the vertical dissemination of memeplexes have been systematically disrupted and undermined, leaving each individual atomized and unable to rely on a proven tradition, and the historically aberrant level of horizontal memeplex dissemination can be leveraged to induce vast shifts of opinion within a shockingly short period of time. All one needs to do is make it appear that all the cool kids are doing it, and eventually everyone will agree with them anyway, so what reason do you have to hold out?

It doesn’t need to be this way. The narrow coordination of political opinion is entirely contingent, even with the presence of globalized media that can distribute any opinion from anywhere to each and every individual, whether he seeks it out or not. This narrow coordination rests on the status and legitimacy the press has arrogated to itself.

Breaking something is always easier than building something. The status of the press is built on centuries of integration into every facet of public life, being our primary source about politics, social movements, and anything else happening in society or the world. Yet, this status is not even necessary to achieve such a dissemination of the news, and beyond this 99% of news is useless to each individual, being little affected by the events discussed and debated. If one wanted to, say, break the Overton window, to open up the range of political opinion which could be expressed and to eliminate the illusion of conformity, one would only need to delegitimize the press.

A delegitimized press simply has less power to influence the individual, who must in turn form his opinions from other sources. The scope of these sources must naturally be wider than will be found in selected media sources, and would begin to deteriorate the Overton window, giving political philosophies and opinions that otherwise have no place in democratic electoral politics fuel to compete against the opinions of the now-delegitimized press. Already the internet has given prominence to voices that never would have been heard in the ordinary American’s living room, its full potential to disrupt the present paradigm of opinion dissemination only just being reined in by manufactured controversies which direct attention away from problems endemic to our society.

How to delegitimze the press? The average American has no ideological investment in the New York Times, with the progressive values it uses to frame discussion only being adopted for lack of any appearance that opinions could be formed otherwise, along different axioms and premises. He only goes along with the progressive narrative for a lack of exposure to the way it is manufactured. Were the process to be extensively documented, the narratives refuted, the interests of the individual journalists and groups uncovered and made plain, the facade of unbiased-enough presentation could no longer be maintained. The mask of legitimacy, of interests aligned with that of every American citizen, would fall, and it would be a first step in smashing the Overton window, grounding the development of “alternative” political philosophies, axioms, and values.

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