Is the Body Necessary?

Some near-death experiences have Jesus appearing to the separated soul as brighter than a million suns yet without hurting the "eyes."

If a soul is able to perceive external objects without the body, then the previous post is wrong: the body is not just a costume, it is a veritable straitjacket. As I write in my book:

The brain's job is not to aid thinking, let alone think on its own, but to limit the human power to think. Thinking is more difficult for an embodied human being than for a separated soul, but not too difficult. The brain is a hindrance to thought not its enabler, though a healthy brain is less a hindrance than a sick brain.

The body is the soul's prison, but it is exceeding intricately designed. The spiritual powers that need to shine through are permitted, and those that need to be curbed are shut off. The reason for the body's enormous and stupefying complexity is that both kinds of sets of faculties are extremely varied: from the ability to drive a car to appreciation of music, from playing tennis to mother-love; and the most important power denied to humans in this life is to see the spiritual light: to observe souls and God directly. (Descartes was enabled by this fact to write: "I do not fail to say that I see the men themselves, just as I say that I see the wax; and yet what do I see from the window beyond hats and cloaks that might cover artificial machines, whose motions might be determined by springs?" (Meditations on First Philosophy, II, 13) Barnbaum suggests that autistic persons lack the capacity to infer that other people have souls or minds.) This complexity reflects the truly epic number of vulnerabilities and defenses that a human being is endowed with in this fight of his life.

Mind and Thoughts

My computer is a material and real thing.

My soul is (ultimately) immaterial and real, though the body is not the spirit's superfluous costume but a fundamental part of our humanity. The mind specifically is a psychosomatic unity, though with a bias toward the spirit as master over matter, being served by it, and metaphysically one grade higher than it.

My perceptions, impressions, ideas, and thoughts are neither material nor immaterial but experiences of the soul and ideal things.

So, only real things can be divided into material and immaterial; it is meaningless to speak of such distinctions among ideal things.

I think Hume is confusing some of these (1.4.5).

Essences and Accidents

In my book I mention 3 things that can be divided into essences and accidents.

First are universals. This is a coffee cup, and that is a wine glass. Both, however, are liquid containers. So, "liquid container" as a genus can be called an essence, and the type of liquid it is meant to contain or difference can be called each item's individualizing accident. We can vary the accident without altering the essence.

Second are material particulars. I quote Thomas Reid:

All bodies, as they consist of innumerable parts that may be disjoined from them by a great variety of causes, are subject to continual changes of their substance, increasing, diminishing, changing insensibly.

When such alterations are gradual, because language could not afford a different name for every different state of such a changeable being, it retains the same name, and is considered the same thing.

Merely material particulars do not have accidents in themselves but may have them considered as for "convenience of speech." For example, over time, the flowers painted on my coffee cup may have faded; but I still consider this vessel to be essentially "my coffee cup." I don't have to do it; but it's convenient for all concerned. I could say "Could you wash my coffee cup?" to my cleaning lady and be understood both today and 2 years ago or hence.

(I might be able also to point to the painted flowers and say, "See, these are no accident! When I was shopping for a coffee cup, I specifically looked for one with purple flowers on it. It expresses my love for philosophy" (or something). In this case, as soon as the color has faded sufficiently, I will want to throw the cup away which would make it no longer "mine" and cause it to corrupt -- lose its essence -- thereby.)

Third are spiritual particulars, especially human beings. The difference is that a person's accidents are not constructed by other people but are mind-independent.

Note two things in this connection: first, a person's character and virtues and personal idiosyncrasies individualize him; yet all people have a character. One person is courageous, another is cowardly, so (1) both are humans and yet (2) both must definitely possess this cardinal virtue in some variable degree.

Second, as each coffee cup must have sides of some thickness, so each man must exhibit some courage. Yet if a cup becomes less thick from use, I am perfectly free to call it a different cup; yet a man who increases in courage maintains his personal identity whether I like it or not. What exactly personal identity consists in is a non-trivial question, but it clearly constitutes the difference between material and spiritual particulars.

Objects and Perceptions

Hume seems unhappy with the idea that there are "perceptions" that are "dependent, interrupted, and different" and also "objects" that are "continued, identical [through time], and [mind-]independent." (A Treatise of Human Nature, 1.4.2, 52)

To solve the problem of "double existence," we can have recourse to my understanding of a "thing-in-itself." From my book:

When I say, (a) "This desk is brown," is it not the case that "brownness" is not "really" "in" the desk? It is just a perception, conditioned by our sensory organs and spiritual machinery. Brownness is a subjective experience. What has it to do with the actual desk?

In epistemology, we would have a truth-bearer (that thing which has a truth value), i.e., an (ideal) proposition; and a truth-maker (that thing which makes the truth-bearer true), such as the (real) state of affairs of the desk's being brown, to which the proposition corresponds. If (a) is to be true (and since in epistemology we do not indulge in justifications, I will certainly not lower myself to prove that to my reader), then there had better be a real brown desk out there. The brown desk is the thing-in-itself, and that is the end of it.

In philosophy of empirical science, on the other hand, all we have are perceptions. All we see and hear and so on are signs -- of something, perhaps, but who knows and who cares of what? We use these signs in our lives to pursue happiness. We manipulate them in order to cause them to conform to our desires. Simply put, we entertain ourselves. Mises would seem to agree: "We may define the external world as the totality of all those things and events that determine the feasibility or unfeasibility, the success or failure, of human action."

There are no longer truth-bearer and makers, only usefulness-bearers and makers.

Notice how the situation is reversed: the usefulness-bearer (that item which is useful) is (really) "out there," as represented by signs. The usefulness-maker is our (ideal) notions on how exactly the usefulness-bearer is useful.

Whether there is anything "behind" the perceptions is now irrelevant. The material world can be cut off with Occam's razor. "Solid reality," according to science, is a useful illusion.

Let me now put this another way. Consider a syllogism:

(Major) A dresser is used to store clothing.
(Minor) There is a brown wooden dresser to the left of me.
(Conclusion) I have a place to store clothing.

There are two aspects to this modus ponens. One is validity; the other, soundness.

Regarding the former, assuming the premises are true, does the conclusion follow? In this case, yes, it does. But what does it mean to say that "there is a brown wooden dresser to the left of me" is true? Only that the dresser is a really existing object -- not a perception! -- indeed, continued, somewhat identical to itself, and independent, of a certain kind in a certain location.

Regarding the latter, is the minor premise true? Well, it at first glance seems so, but I won't vouch for it. For example, physics teaches that what appears solid to the senses, on the atomic level is in fact mostly empty space. The sign that whatever-it-is emits that is delivered to us may well fail to "resemble" (Hume's term) the "real object." What is the "real" dresser apart from how to appears? I have no idea and don't care to speculate.

So, we can see that the double existence is in fact a useful device and a reasonable supposition. If Hume denies that there are objects, straightforwardly described by their appearances, then he will lose the capacity to judge the validity of inferences. If it is a hopeless case even to assume a premise such as our minor to be true, then we can't arrive to a conclusion, and that would be pretty sad, because I'd be forced to throw my clothes on the floor.

“Continued and Distinct Existence” of the External World

It seems to me that belief in the continued existence of the external world, though enabled indeed by "constancy and coherence" of sense experience, as Hume puts it, is simply an innate, fundamental, and primordial power of human beings. A baby playing peek-a-boo is exercising his power to grasp object permanence.

As for "distinct" existence of objects, it is partially up to us to carve the world at meaningful joints. To do so successfully is yet another power. A measure of intersubjective sanity is required from all people, but still, when a member of a newly discovered tribe points at a rabbit and says "gavagai," the scientist studying the tribe's language has good reason to believe that gavagai means "rabbit" rather than "an undetached rabbit part." The 4 Aristotelian causes play a role here.

So, that there are mind-independent external objects and which objects it is useful to recognize are human powers the beginnings of which are built into us from birth.

Left-Liberals, 2

I just saw a new word: overworld. It's like the criminal underworld but consists of "legitimate" top politicians, bureaucrats, generals, merchants of death, and so on.

So, regarding sexual morality as mentioned in the previous post, the left's overworld is remarkably similar to the "lumpen-proletarian" underworld.

Trump and Pussy

Everyone rightly considers left-liberals to be lumpen-proletarians in their personal behavior including sexual ethics, if any. As a result, we all expect gross immorality from them. We ignore it, because leftists are trying to build socialism, and their personal wickedness cannot stand in the way of so glorious a goal. The ends justify the means. For example, Hillary is a murderer, both politically and possibly personally. It does not matter, because she is the vanguard of the proletariat. Or of the homosexuals. Or something of that sort; I'm not an expert on the left's current ideological debates.

The political conservatives, on the other hand, explicitly pretend to be moral and God-fearing. When they fail, they can be accused of hypocrisy. "They are just as bad as us," the leftists proclaim. Moreover, the conservatives are "reactionaries" from the point of view of an ideology that seeks to "progress" to communism. "Vote for us," the leftists continue. "At least we stand for something. The Republicans will loot you as much as we will, but only we will move further on the road to serfdom."

What is permitted and forgiven to the left -- because everyone understands that Hillary cannot make an omelet without breaking a few eggs -- is punished without mercy to the right. Perhaps it is as it should be. Let the Republicans burn.

Skepticism as Self-Defeating

One cannot prove the alleged worthlessness of reason by rational arguments, because if reason is impotent at gaining knowledge, it is equally impotent at proving itself such.

(If, however, we can rigorously prove reason to be feckless, than there is at least one thing reason is good for, namely, undermining our confidence in itself.)

Yet reason may nevertheless still be inadequate despite our inability to demonstrate it.

Thus, skeptical arguments are self-defeating but not self-refuting.

Whether Blacks Can Be Racist Toward Whites?

The answer is obviously, no, they cannot, because blacks, like all other sane human beings, realize perfectly well that they are inferior to whites in all things that matter.

How can, and why on earth would, a primitive race fully aware of its lamentable savagery feel snobbish toward a more sophisticated race?

Blacks may hate whites, and do with abandon, but that's inferiority complex and their wolf-like amorality (lack of interest in moral considerations), not racism.

Causality, Continued

As I argue in my book, "I do not know that laws of nature do not change, and that in natural sciences the past can be a guide to the future. But I can have reasons for believing these things, and understand why I believe. Causality is a praxeological a priori category. ... for the sake of (a) optimal psychological balance, (b) success and happiness, and (c) outright continuation of life, it is best to hold that natural laws are immutable." (SAtK, I, 26)

However, for these (a)-(c) it is sufficient to lack the false idea that causality does not exist, and that the world is or might become chaotic. Not only adult humans but babies and cats all are sensible in this regard. I would even say, imitating Descartes, that the easy confidence that causality is a feature of the world is a mark of the Creator upon our minds. To obtain the true idea that the world is lawful requires philosophizing.


Wild animals and even to an extent pets most of the time don't know what the heck's going on and, if capable of feeling any emotion at all, live their lives in abject fear.

Repost: The Legislature Shall Make No Law…

... restricting, nor shall any judge abridge, the freedom of association of any individual or private organization.

That's one state or federal Constitutional amendment we could use.

Update: Gloss: A private business or non-profit is a "private organization" with regard to any government.

A state government is a private organization in the eyes of the federal government.

A local cop is a public person in relation to the legislative and judicial branches of the local government that employs him, which can, as a condition of such employment, regulate his conduct; but a private person in relation to the state and federal governments.


If one generation loses its Christian faith, then the next generation will assuredly lose its Christian morals, and finally Christianity will be completely forgotten by the grandchildren.

Fortunately, we are assured that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church.

Innate Ideas

I think any kind of abstraction from immediate experience qualifies to be called an innate idea. For example:

1. Computer code in a human-readable high-level language -- a massive abstraction from the hardware goings-on.

2. Arrangement of living organisms into genera + differences.

3. Logic, e.g., with letters standing for arbitrary propositions.

4. Partitioning the world into essences, accidents, and acts.

5. User interfaces of all kinds, from a light switch to airplane instrument panel, which hide the complexity of internal operation from the end user while allowing easy control of a device, software, and so on.

6. Economic laws which are rarefied abstract conclusions from careful study of aspects of human nature.

Ultimately, the mind is bound to the "reality" of the physical world, designed to come to know it, but it comprehends this reality through many and varied layers of abstraction.

American Feudalism

It's well exemplified in the phenomenon of regulatory capture, where the dominant companies in some industry write the very regulations that govern them. They do so in such a way as to diminish the threat from new competitors and thus maintain above-market profits... for a while. (In the long tun, they grow complacent and lose to more dynamic industries.)

In this understanding, a congressman is a feudal lord who maintains his fiefs, and the companies who finance his (reelection) campaigns are his vassals receiving government privileges in return. The American economic system is not laissez-faire capitalism!

Socialism As Slavery, 2

Somewhat less obviously, and complementary to the socialist state's crushing all intermediate institutions in society, absorbing each individual, and demanding whole-hearted selfless devotion, there is a contrary effect of people retreating into, in Marx's phrase, "idiocy of rural life." Some scholars think that this is actually a mistranslation of Marx, and he meant rather the "isolation of rural life." The word "idiotes means 'a private person, withdrawn from public (communal) concerns, apolitical in the original sense of isolation from the larger community.'" This will serve us perfectly.

Socialism does not merely impoverish the people, creating economic chaos; it does not merely subject the individual to unlimited tyranny; it also capably destroys society understood as communion upon the rock of long-term harmony of interests and thus the ties of civic friendship. Socialism makes citizens enemies of each other in the economic realm and because of that indifferent to each other and apathetic to the common good in the political realm. Under socialism, I know that my very existence and attempts to provide for my own well-being hurt the interests of my fellow men. In a free society I can give myself over to work with full self-giving, knowing that my actions abide by utilitarianism. This realization is exceedingly encouraging, such that many people find in their work the meaning of life. This has a further effect. A person's success in private life sometimes overflows into his drive to help his community or nation as a whole. People decide to seek a reform of law or political office in order to improve the social order.

Under socialism, people are slothful and grasping. They know the system they live in is monstrous and inhuman. They know their honest work makes no sense and can even be a drain on society. There is no charity that propels a man into public service; at the most, one seeks political power for personal gain. Moreover, people suspect rather strongly that the system cannot be reformed, only abolished. There is no point in advocating an improvement. Finally, the government outlaws the study of numerous disciplines altogether, especially economics and philosophy. Intellectually disarmed and dumbed down, people are befuddled as to what to replace socialism with.

As a result, one no longer feels himself a useful and valued part of a vast great society that is, in part because of his own efforts, getting better every day. Instead, nothing works. Discouraged and bitter, people retreat into the isolation or "idiocy" of their immediate families and mild entertainments ("mild," because socialism is no fun any way you look at it). The "community" of communism falls apart. The slave-socialism tends to degenerate further into autarky and complete breakdown of society.

Phenomenology, 2

To summarize, there are in particular ideas

1. that are true and correctly assented to;
2. that are false and mistakenly assented to;
3. that are doubted and are being researched;
4. whose truth value is not known and that are fancifully entertained;
5. that are true yet thought false;
6. that are false and known to be such.

Hume, arrange these in the order of increasing "force and vivacity."

Phenomenology of Belief and Doubt

The more I read Hume, the more shallow and careless he appears to me.

Thus, "an idea assented to feels different from a fictitious idea, that the fancy alone presents to us: And this different feeling I endeavor to explain by calling it" drum roll... "a superior force, or vivacity, or solidity, or firmness, or steadiness." (AToHN, 1.3.7)

But surely, "greater" force, etc. that allegedly distinguishes a true idea from a false one, or an idea believed from one doubted, is a difference in degree; whereas truth is distinct from falsity, and assent from doubt in kind. How long shall the Humean submarginal changes in degree accumulate before they become a marginal change in kind? Hume does not tell us. If idea A is slightly more forceful or vivid to me than another idea B, am I permitted or required to conclude that A is true, and B is false? Implausible.

It seems to me rather that (1) people very often believe in fictions with remarkable fanaticism, such that the false ideas are extremely forceful and vivid in their minds; and (2) doubt is marked by a feeling of uneasiness, agitation, and discomfort from the professed ignorance that drives one to search for truth. Upon discovering an apparent truth or upon finalizing a decision, there is a feeling of peace and pleasure and accomplishment: now I know; now I am ready to execute the plan of action that has just crystallized.

Moreover, an idea that is assented to, i.e., understood to be true, is similar to a figment of the imagination in that the falsity of the latter is similarly assented to. Why should propositions known to be false or phantasms known not to correspond without a doubt be any less vivid, etc., given that of neither doubt is entertained?

Is Hume saying perhaps that ideas assented to are more important (for action, say) than mere fancies, and so by some instinct, more effort is put into their presentation to the intellect? By virtue of this, the former are felt more forcefully. Hmm... this is hardly self-evident. I'm going out on a limb here; this is reading into Hume far more than he deserves.

Force and vivacity seem to play little role in the phenomenology of these things.

The Post Office

Now that almost all bills are paid online, and private letters are emailed, the biggest by far customers of the government's Post Office are junk mailers.

Almost every day I get useless spam in my mailbox.

Disgusting. Abolish the federal government!

Socialism As Slavery: 2 Songs

Consider the following Soviet "folk" song:

Дан приказ: ему -- на запад,
Ей -- в другую сторону.
Уходили комсомольцы
На гражданскую войну.

An order was given: to him, to go west;
To her, in the opposite direction.
The communist youths were leaving
For the civil war.

The song makes clear that the guy and the girl were lovers, maybe even married, family. Yet both were given an "order" to forsake each other. How can that be? Who in any reasonable society has the right to command such obedience?

Well, under socialism, the only employer is the state, and our couple were bureaucrats working for it. The state controls the employees' every move, including their personal lives. There is no option to quit and seek wages elsewhere. To quit is to starve to death, because no production or commerce are permitted outside the state's venues. As a result, like a slave-master who sells the husband to one buyer, and the wife to another, it is entirely normal for the socialist state to break up families, such as by conscripting both the husband and wife, and sending them to fight wars on different fronts.

Here's another one, Катюша (diminutive "Katherine"):

Ох ты, песня, песенка девичья,
Ты лети за ясным солнцем вслед.
И бойцу на дальнем пограничье
От Катюши передай привет.

Пусть он вспомнит девушку простую,
Пусть услышит, как она поет,
Пусть он землю бережет родную,
А любовь Катюша сбережет.

Go on, o this song,
Fly behind the sun;
And say hello from Katyusha
To the soldier guarding the faraway border.

Let him remember the simple girl;
Let him hear her sing;
Let him safeguard the dear homeland;
And Katyusha will safeguard the love.

So, here we have a soldier, all alone, faithfully doing his "duty" in the cold and darkness far away from home. Will he come back home? Nobody knows. His duty may be to guard the border his whole life. Will the lovers ever reunite? Unlikely; he and Katyusha can just as well grow old and die without ever seeing each other. That's not the point, anyway; the point is to apprehend the sacrifices necessary to build socialism. You cannot complain if the socialist central planner assigns you a job (for the welfare of the "people" and greater good) of hard labor in the Arctic; or of guarding night and day an irrelevant piece of land for 25 years, until your health and spirit are irreparably ruined. Your own life and personal projects and commitments pale in comparison before your devotion to the state and to the grand cause of communism. You are expected to sacrifice everything for their sake.

It is arguable that there is little difference between socialism and the system barely removed from savage autarky: a slave society.