Matter vs. Form

A table is not "really" a cloud of atoms any more than a house is "really" a heap of bricks.

Atoms and bricks are merely material causes of tables and houses.

When I point to the thing you are sitting behind and eating your lunch on and ask "What is it?," the correct answer is "A table," not "A cloud of atoms."

Identity: Technological Progress

Recall that for material things, their material and efficient causes inhere in them, while their final cause is subjective, i.e., mind-dependent.

There are thus natural kinds: snowflakes, rivers, the chemical element silver, etc. These are eternal: a snowflake has been a water crystal since forever and will remain such forever. Silver will always be in its proper place of the periodic table. The formal causes of these things, their essences, what they are, are fixed for all time.

Adding purpose to things complicates matters. The formal cause of a tire no longer depends so exclusively on what the tire is made of (the material cause) or how it works (the efficient cause) but more on what it is for (the final cause). A tire that is re-purposed from one task to another literally becomes a different thing.

The essences of artificial man-made kinds, like tire, transistor, rubbing alcohol, are more subjective and fluid.

And of course, natural kinds themselves can become artificial kinds as raw materials.

Entrepreneurs in the market constantly change the purpose and extent of use of every resource. Today it may be profitable to manufacture artificial snow for skiing. A year later the technologies and the economy change, such that doing this would, according to careful calculations, result in a loss. As a result, the snow-making machines are sold and put to a different use.

From my book:

"Every economist from Marshall to Rothbard linked price formation of factors of production with opportunity costs, and these costs are most preeminent for non-specific goods which can be used in multiple projects with multiple aims. Schumpeter considered it the essence of economic progress that entrepreneurs find novel uses for old things. Hayek argued that the fact that production has a structure is instrumental in explaining business cycles."

From this the profundity of the statement that "nature [natural kinds and the sciences describing them], in order to be commanded [used to make human art], must be obeyed" readily follows.

Repost: The Law of Identity

A = A. Trivial? Disgusting! On the contrary, I deny that A is A. My desk is not really my desk; it is actually brown. Dmitry Chernikov is not really Dmitry Chernikov; he is actually Napoleon (you knew I'd snap sooner or later, didn't you?). So, forget it. For no A, except God, is A, A.

Homework: think about what this means.

Hint: maybe I don't want A to be A (i.e., maybe A is whatever the hell I want it to be).

Hint #2: it's not like everything is a freaking pure act.

Hint #3: a process has only limited identity.

Hint #4 (you don't really need this one): everything is to the extent that it reveals itself in what it does.

As a result, it's hardly ever true that "everything is what it is and not some other thing."

Update. To avoid misunderstanding, I am criticizing the law of identity as a metaphysical not a logical law.

Why Trump Can Be Called a “Fascist”

Let us assume, falsely, that all presidential candidates love us and seek our good. In other words, let's suppose that they are all model utilitarians. Still, it's the means to the ultimate aim of the greatest good for the greatest number that are at issue.

Thus, candidate Smith proposes, in order to make America great again, socialism. Candidate Jones proposes, as means to the exact same end, capitalism. Candidate Robinson proposes masochism instead. And so on, as each candidate is matched with a particular -ism.

And people, enlightened by the hopefully correct ideology, pick the man whose policies they think will succeed, unlike the policies of everyone else.

So then: If we have no idea what Trump will do when elected president but are content to hold that "he will surround himself with smart people," as his supporters suggest, then of what use are the elections? What options are we choosing between?

If the essence of fascism as a political (not economic) notion is the Führer principle, and given that Trump says very little about what he plans on doing as president -- instead in some vague sense, Trump is America, and America is Trump, and Trump's word is above all written law -- then Trumpism is a fascistic personality cult.

Are the people "blinded by the chimerical image of a perfect chief of state" (Mises, HA, 850)?

The Weird Gary North

Here's an example of his usual thesis-less stream of consciousness spoken as if by a prophet with divine calm from some kind of authority.

There is nothing in any topic North picks up that is hidden to him.

Ethics for the Masses; Economics for the Elites

This is my motto of how the people and natural elites ought to addressed. The key point is that both groups need to come up with an ideology, except the masses take morals as the starting point of the derivation, while the elites take economic laws as such.

The people respond to basic moral instruction, for example, "you shall not steal," etc. From those principles laissez-faire capitalism follows. The people need not know any economics.

On the contrary, the elites are allowed to be personally wicked. But they should be quite versed in economics and derive laissez-faire capitalism from it. No morally twisted rich boy benefits from a crippled economy which is the source of all his (perhaps perverted) pleasures.

As Mises argues,

What makes the existence and the evolution of society possible is precisely the fact that peaceful cooperation under the social division of labor in the long run best serves the selfish concerns of all individuals. The eminence of the market society is that its whole functioning and operation is the consummation of this principle.

If both the masses and the elites do the work assigned to them by nature correctly, we have social peace and quickly increasing prosperity.

Lew Rockwell on Immigration

Regarding the charge of "xenophobia," Lew Rockwell writes that "that's the leftist smear term for anyone who disagrees with the state's welfarite importation schemes. Why, you must be mentally ill to oppose government demographic revolution."

And again, the result of mass immigration is "artificial demographic shifts that would not occur in a free market."

The puzzle here is the significance of "demographics." Why does anyone have a libertarian-Rothbardian right to a particular demographic around the area he lives in? Do I have a right to be surrounded by "my kind of people"?

Maybe I do, in my own gated community or business firm I own. If refugees flood that community as a result of some judge's contempt for the property rights of the owners, then we are straightforwardly harmed. But to say that I have a right to the state of affairs in which only hetero while males exist within the 500-mile radius of me seems a little preposterous.

Again, national governments or any government larger in scope than the government of a gated community can never force integration; they can only force exclusion. Maybe Hoppe ignored that obvious point because he felt that roads are owned by the taxpayers with the government being hired solely to manage the roads in the taxpayers' interests, and if those interests include closing the roads to non-natives, then so be it. I disagree: roads are by their essence publicly accessible and are a civilized way to respect everyone's natural right to "walk the earth." Freedom of travel is a human right.

So, Rockwell's argument must be not libertarian but pragmatic. Mass migrations are very disruptive; they put greater pressures on the taxpayers; the people thereby imported are hardly liberty-lovers, etc. Even if we are against "government policies" as such, a close-border policy is still superior to an open-border one. Works for me, more or less.

Yes, We Can?

If our end is beginnings of wisdom and knowledge in children, then with the means of socialized public schooling, no, we most definitely cannot!

What Is a Microphone?

The range of answers is {True, False}.

Here are 3 of my own ideas:

1. It's a Jeopardy-type answer. E.g., "This device transmits or records sound." Answer (in the form of a question): "What is a microphone?" The answer would then be evaluated by Trebek as true or false.

However, since no proposition to which "What is a microphone?" would correspond is given, we can't tell whether it's true or false.

2. "What" is a proper name of a particular microphone, like Jones is a proper name of a person or Hesperus is a proper name of the planet Venus.

Suppose I am a talk show host, and I have a very sophisticated microphone with which I work daily. Maybe I appreciate the microphone so much, having mastered all of its features, that I named it and called it for some reason "What." "Ok, What, let's record a great show tonight, how about that?" I say upon sitting down behind the desk.

Then someone overhears me and asks: "This What, are you referring to your microphone?" or "Is What your microphone?" or even "What is a microphone? You're crazy, man!"

Again, since no specifics are given, we cannot tell whether the question is to be answered "Yes / True" or "No / False."

3. Another possibility is to rephrase the question as "Does the word 'what' mean the same as the word 'microphone'?"

The virtue of this attempt is that the answer can be given: false.

Repost: The Difference Between Truth and Justice

Truth is correspondence of thought, that expresses a proposition, to reality.

Justice is correspondence of reality, such as how Smith morally treats Jones, to a thought, expressing a moral ideal, such as respecting Jones' nature as a human being.

The more an action resembles the ideal, the more just it is.

Update. Self-justice then is how "knowing oneself" translates into "being oneself." You "do not know truths about yourself"; rather, you "are just toward yourself" or simply "are yourself."

Or even simpler: you know yourself when and only when you are yourself.

The Unconscious

If many important (and sometimes destructive) psychic goings-on happen in the "unconscious," then we have an imperfect duty to come to know ourselves (thereby curing ourselves), just as we have a perfect duty not to steal.

Re: Why It Is Good to Be Good

I'm rather in awe how much identical stuff I and John H. Riker have discovered independently.

A dominating feature of his work is the idea that one's friends act in the capacity of "self-objects." The ideal existence cannot be the Thomistic contemplation of God or even sciences, because each person, far from being self-sufficient, is in fact "fragile, interdependent, and needing a trustworthy matrix of self-objects."

This makes it particularly aggravating that he does not define or give examples of the work performed by a self-object. My guess is that a self-object does things like: agree with, sympathize with, praise, encourage, argue with, fraternally correct, offer acceptance to, etc. a subject. E.g.:

"And he, like, takes out a handkerchief and blows his nose into it."
"Eww, gross!"
"I go: that's what disposable tissues are for!"
"You don't see that every day."
"I know, right?!"

Read that out loud, and you'll feel a certain communion going on.

His reasons for being ethical is that a bad person cannot do two things: 1) he cannot empathize with other people, therefore have true friends, therefore enjoy and himself supply self-objects relations; 2) he cannot create a self and so find true happiness.

In my terminology, that translates into 1) that a bad person cannot progress from hatred of others to indifference to love for them or himself be truly loved in the nature trinity, 2) that he cannot create his own personality and through that find narrow happiness (such as because such people "have unjust souls that are anarchically controlled by whims"), therefore true happiness when nature, virtue, and narrow happiness are combined.

I was influenced by St. Thomas' description of love as involving union, mutual indwelling, ecstasy, and zeal. I am further in full and passionate agreement with 1 Cor 13. But if we add Riker's insight of what a loving friend does for another, i.e., perform self-object services, than we see exactly what crucial goods a bad person cuts himself off from.

Ethics: Some Definitions

Character = a harmonious union of a number of well-defined and known virtues: courage, prudence, humility, magnanimity, modesty, justice, etc.

Self = a collection and solidification of permanent pleasures, interests, loves, projects, and life's works.

Personality = character + self = the virtue trinity.

Persona = social roles, such as one's job, public accomplishments, objects of pride.

Character is built, self is discovered.

It may be asked, if one (though not the overriding) purpose of life is soul-making, why would not God create us with perfect character and full self-knowledge? Because the process of character-building and self-discovery is everlasting. There is no such thing as a fully completed human soul. Might as well start at zero.

Id = desire (potency) / enjoyment (act) in the narrow happiness trinity.
Ego = intellect + power in the happiness trinity.
Superego = demands of natural law in the nature trinity and self-imposed ideals in the virtue trinity.

Personality grounds pursuit of happiness, because one seeks the happiness made proper to himself by his self. These pleasures will not be undone in the future. But both virtue and happiness trinities are in a flux, at the very least in constant development. So they may be aligned well at t1 and misaligned later at t2. Ideally, the process of harmonizing pursuit of 1st-order pleasures with development of personality (and in addition with improvement in nature such as learning to love) is always proceeding and effective.

The key advantage of getting a self is that without it, commitments to long-term projects are problematic, because of the spiritual chaos in one's heart. It makes no sense for me to embark upon complex and long endeavors, if today I like X, tomorrow I dislike X. I begin a task and abandon it only a little later. I'm a "quitter." So my pleasures are of a primitive kind capable of being immediately satisfied: food, sex, games, and the like.

Moreover, while a long-term goal is being achieved, all one does is pay the costs of it. The revenues lie far in the future. A person without a self, even if he resolved to see a project to its end, may find the present pain unjustified by the future pleasure and again, quit.

Development of self is organic, as change-amidst-permanence, so there is always a core self, even if it grows more interesting and complex with time.

Vertical Splitting and Time

Following St. Thomas, we can construct a very fast and loose hierarchy of life-forms.

At the bottom, there are plants who possess only the "nutritive" or "vegetative" soul.

Then there are animals like oysters who have senses but are immobile.

Then we have higher animals who "transcend space," i.e., who can move about, like parrots and lions.

Up at the very top, we have humans who as rational animals transcend both space and time, i.e., are 4-dimensional, operating in all 4 periods, past, present, future, and timelessness.

To quote from my book,

Notice how seeking narrow happiness by a vicious person is nugatory. For if later on in life Smith decides to "become a better person," whatever exactly that entails for him, then he may have to reject, abandon, and purge those very desires that he struggled so valiantly to satisfy, making all his previous efforts entirely vain.

In other words, suppose Smith once felt that drinking himself into a stupor and wallowing in his own filth like a pig was a fine way of living. Then he wakes up and tries to pull himself together. Here's the thing: recalling his past pleasures will not be a happy experience for Smith but rather full of shame and pain. The pleasures will be despised, and Smith will want to forget his past. It's as if his past is condemned, and his very life thereby shortened.

Such will be the fate of all people without a coherent self.

Vertical Splitting

This means in psychology that "the only way one can both retain a sense of self-worth and engage in the immoral activity is to split off the part of himself that carries his self-image from the part that is performing the action. When persons engage in vertical splitting they are conscious of what they are doing but disavow its reality or its wrongness." (Riker, 100)

In Summa Against the Keynesians, I make this conflict the centerpiece of the virtue trinity formation, i.e., when a person does not approve of what he enjoys and does not enjoy what he approves of. In the book it may be expressed in a somewhat formulaic manner, but then it is an economics not psychology treatise.

Therefore, when a personality grounds the pursuit of happiness, it must be that one strives for all and only those ends which he morally approves of.

A Major Principle

Whatever does not improve, deteriorates.

The Power of the Dark Side

It consists in channeling hatred and in mastery of destructive emotions such as rage, contempt, disgust, and merciless justice.

It's the fully legitimate yin-counterpart to the Light Side's yang.

Here's an example. Consider a concentration camp or torture chamber. Such a camp may feature many aspects of the Light Side. It may be efficiently run. It may murder thousands of prisoners daily at low cost. It inflicts pain and suffering on innocents in a sophisticated manner. It may be supported by the majority in a country.

Yet it is clearly a monstrous institution. It is utterly evil. It ought to be crushed, decimated forever, and those who run it, brutally punished. The people who authorized the creation of concentration camps must be shamed before the whole world.

A person who swears to destroy all concentration camps is a holy warrior even if he derives spiritual sustenance from hatred of evil and from savage contempt of evildoers.

The Dark Side then is not evil, it is not demonic, it worships the same God the Light Side does, and it does not feature ultimate condemnation of any human being ever.

As Murray Rothbard confessed, "Hatred is my muse." Walter Block comments: "By this he meant that he would read something -- a book, an article, an op ed, whatever -- and he would be filled with a loathing for its content. He would be almost driven to blast away at it, swearing a mighty oath that the offending verbiage would not be allowed to stand unanswered."

I am feeling like I've lost my Dark Side nature a little, because I foolishly feared it myself due to an old psychic trauma. Yet its power is vast, and its peace and happiness are wonderful. Say a prayer for me so that in this new year I may be restored.

Blacks and the State

It is precisely when we acknowledge substantive race differences, such as that blacks on average are more: lazy, stupid, corruptible, present-oriented, amoral-like-wolves, criminal, etc. than almost all non-blacks, that we see that the state bears full responsibility for setting back the evolution and progress of blacks.

Take minimum wage, for example. It is blacks who most benefit from wide availability of low-paying jobs. This is not just so that they can provide for themselves but to grant them a measure of upward mobility, wherein the skills, powers, and virtues they learn while in these entry-level positions can be used for personal and career-wise growth, i.e., to graduate toward more responsible and productive and therefore higher-paying jobs.

These low-paying jobs are never meant to suffice to "support a family." No 14-year-old, black or white, who works at Walmart or McDonald's is supposed to support a wife and 3 children. These jobs instead, while serving the consumers in their own right, teach crucial skills that render their owners, again, upwardly mobile.

With prudent saving, the income even from these jobs, aided by support from the family, can be used to buy further training in colleges or vocational schools.

The litany of the evils of the state regarding blacks is endless, seen most clearly just when race differences are fully grasped. Slavery, the original American sin, bred blacks for strength and endurance at, of all things, picking cotton rather than problem-solving in engineering or understanding subtle arguments in philosophy.

The drug war has a different effect on blacks than on whites.

"Welfare" spending has ravaged the black family, unlike the white family which has proven more resilient.

White people are not allowed to but still do in the privacies of their own hearts or families say "There goes the neighborhood" when blacks more into their communities. It is true that blacks ruin vast stretches of real estate, but the problem has its root in government public housing, aka the infamous "projects," where the stench of physical and spiritual decay is palpable. Subsidized housing is marginally better. It is the blacks who leave these projects and receive these subsidies who end up devastating normal communities.

Affirmative action has caused whites to despise rather than sympathize with blacks who now are stuffed into occupations and pursuits for which they are manifestly unqualified and into social positions which are obviously undeserved. Race relations are ruined concominantly.

Anti-discrimination laws have butchered one of the most natural liberties of mankind: freedom of association and its corollary freedom not to associate with anyone for any reason, once again bringing about strife between the races.

Such are the sad facts. But they are not written in stone. The situation is eminently correctible. Let us not fight one another but focus instead on our common enemy: the state.

Rule of Law

Rule of law does not mean that a citizen must "obey laws." A citizen does not have to obey anything he feels like not obeying, especially if he can get away with it.

It means rather that:

(1) the legislature can make no positive law that contradicts any natural law discovered by the judicial branch; and

(2) the bureaucrats and cops of the executive branch are bound by the laws issued jointly by judges and legislators.

Again, the laws are commands to the police and incentives to the citizens. A citizen can defy an incentive at will and remain a citizen, especially if not caught; a government official must obey the commands passed to him by the two superior branches of government or quit his job, cease to be employed by the state.

A 21:9 Monitor

Once you use one, you'll never want to go back to a bad old 16:9.

They're cheap now, too. (Some are bigger than my own 29-inch, some have higher resolution and refresh rate, and some are curved. Those are nice but they up the price. NB: A 29-inch Ultrawide is still slightly narrower than a 27-inch 16:9.)

You know, the operating system is called "Windows," and only on a 21:9 Ultrawide monitor will you find that you do not need to maximize most programs, even Office. So, you'll be working with actual windows and see the desktop.