Provisional How-to for Voting (without being a lemming)

Don’t assume that voting issues are binary (neatly divisible by two; R vs D), because that is simply absurd. There are at least 100 crucial moral, scientific, and historical issues that need careful consideration, in order to make informed policy decisions and voting well. The very idea that all of your political positions can be comprehensively represented by two different parties is indescribably silly…

  1. Don’t assume that voting issues are binary (neatly divisible by two; R vs D), because that is simply absurd. There are at least 100 crucial moral, scientific, and historical issues that need careful consideration, in order to make informed policy decisions and voting well. The very idea that all of your political positions can be comprehensively represented by two different parties is indescribably silly. If you think that the political complexities are suitably covered by two categories, please don’t vote. It is likely that your reasoning is ill-informed.
  2. Don’t assume that every policy that promises something as just, is really just. Only a fool would simply assume a politician is telling the truth. Quite often, a policy that is marketed as just is unjust. Or, something for the poor, may not actually help the poor.
  3. Understand the principle of ‘cui bono’, and invested interests. Politicians thrive on emotional appeals. Cui Bono?: this simply translates to ‘who benefits?’. It is a good question, regardless of what the issue is. It isn’t decisive, but it is important to keep in mind. Politicians stay in power, and expand their power, by appealing to the ‘greater good.’ (this includes Third Reich, USSR; this is not a crude ad Hitlerum, but a simple appeal to the facts of history: politicians appeal to emotions, and get power through this)
  4. Suspend judgment (if you think you understand all of the issues of politics without much thought, you are either a bona fide genius, or you’re an utter fool)
  5. Evaluate issues independently: Each issue, and the corresponding political solutions, these need to be considered independently, as well as with other policies, historical context, means, etc. However, since we have a tendency to get wrapped up in emotional and irrational passions, it is wise to isolate things to their barest components before one can seriously evaluate what the issue really is, and what the appropriate response should be (sometimes inaction is preferable to inappropriate State action)
  6. Understand different aspects of policies:
    1. Know how moral issues differ from empirical issues (not strictly speaking, empirical; a policy might be immoral, even if does something that a group of people likes)
    2. Know how empirical issues (factual issues about the actual world) differ from moral issues (issues about right and wrong). For instance, empirical issues, strictly speaking, are not about moral principles. Moreover, sometimes a given policy isn’t obviously wrong (morally), but history may show that it doesn’t provide what it promises, or is grotesquely inefficient; like this$2 million dollar bathroom)
    3. Know how political theories underpin a given policy because some political theories are bad (this isn’t easily captured in a parenthesis, and requires a longer article; see Politics Without the Labels)
    4. Know how economic theories underpin a given policy (if a given policy is based on disproven/bad theory, that is a reason to not support it)
    5. ‘Good consequences’ don’t mean that it is the right thing to (otherwise, robbing a bank would be good, provided you distributed it properly; hint, it is still wrong)
    6. If you can’t separate these issues, this means that you should probably do some research, and after critical thought and discussion (assuming you have friends that are willing and capable of doing this), you can then revisit the underpinning issues later, with a clearer head, so to speak.

7. Exercise a little skepticism about policy promises, especially when someone is appealing to darker vices (revenge, envy, division, blame). Of course, sometimes people are to blame, but if the blame is assigned by getting carried away by tribalistic us-vs-them sentiments, you have to exercise MORE caution.

8. Look at strong defenses for both sides, and don’t formulate your positions by looking at caricatures from one opponent mischaracterizing the other. For instance, free market capitalism isn’t about greed, consumerism, and the destruction of the environment. Really. There are principled, well-meaning people that think that free markets make life better culturally, financially, politically, etc, without being pro-greed, pro-consumerism, and anti-environment. Likewise, though some capitalists may actually advocate for these negative things, it would be foolish to judge an entire group of people by the least coherent, and objectionable person that MISREPRESENT the position.

9. Don’t assume that there is deep-seated racism, bigotry, etc, etc, etc, simply because somebody disagreed with your beloved party. It is just silly…and annoying…and stupid.  If you put on colored glasses….guess what, everything you see will be….wait for it…colored. It will look different if you look at things from different angles and arguments. Consider what I call the Statist Fallacy: assuming that if you somebody does not think that the State is the appropriate mechanism to address a given ill in society, that this necessarily that such a person is against the given cause (e.g. State-run education vs. private charity). Understanding this fallacy makes it clear that it is not valid to conclude that since a person advocates for a private solution for a given problem, it is not necessarily because this person that does not value education itself. For instance, one can intelligently and coherently maintain that one means is more appropriate than another means towards a given end. Research and thought are needed to determine this, not gut reactions, ad hominem’s, and hysterics.

Much more can be said, obviously, but these are essential aspects to voting responsibly. Have any suggestions to add to this? Let me know.

Reflection on Love (Biblical)

If you’ve heard of how the Bible talks about love, then you may have wondered how that connects to how we commonly talk about love. There are some big differences about how the Bible discusses love, and how popular secular culture talks about love. So, I thought a few words would be helpful.

Biblical Conception of Love

The Christian notion of love is one that is not emotional, in the sense that though love may be felt, the feeling itself is not the most important part. For instance, consider the light of the sun. You can feel it on your skin. However, the feeling of the suns rays should not be confused with the light itself. The light from the sun exists whether or not the light is felt, just as the room still exists, even if you close your eyes. Likewise, love may be felt, when we’re in our proper frame of mind, but we are commanded to love regardless of our emotions at a given time.

However, if love is an emotion (and nothing else), then love is no suitable basis for anything; not marriage, not righteousness; not parenting, not anything. If love is fundamentally an emotion then the Christian doctrine is false. Love is connected to God’s very nature, and therefore reflects humanity’s unfallen nature too.

Saying that love is an emotion is not merely an inconsequential opinion, but it reflects a belief that undermines all the fabric of ethics, marriage, politics, and all of human life. It is that serious.

If you do not grasp the objective nature of love, then you will always be confused with the responsibilities and realities of the goodness and sorrows of this life.

Relevant Interrelatedness of Love

Loving your spouse, or your neighbor, or even your human enemies, is a commandment (Matthew 5:43). This commandment does not take account for the ephemeral feelings of the individual, but simply requires obedience to God. One might wonder how can this be. However, if love is not primarily an emotion, it isn’t very mysterious. Love your wife and be faithful, whether you are temporarily discontent or not. That is what an honorable person does. Love your neighbor, whether they are nice to you or not. Love your enemies, whether you dislike them or not.

If this seems strange, then there is maybe a kind of confusion in how we conceive the concept of love. You can place your wife’s health and goodness before your own, or your child, for instance, no matter how you feel at a given time. It is definitely hard, and that is why we revere those that do it well. You can treat your neighbor in a way that encourages their health and goodness, despite ephemeral childishness, irrationality, and pettiness. You can even sincerely pray for your enemies’ salvation and goodness, no matter your practical antagonism. That is to say, the Christian conception of love is transcendent–beyond–mere feelings. Perhaps this should be a dividing line between adults and children: adults can get past the feeling, and live up to the duty of love. It isn’t easy, and that is why it is a mark of the mature.

Influence of Concepts to Virtue or Vice of Love

Since God is love, and we’re designed as the Image of God, we must be loving or cease to exist fully (i.e. we get diminished when we act contrary to love). Loving is a duty. If we do not love, then we cannot be full. However, the objective nature of love has a deep bearing on what hate is too. Just as we must love what is good, we must hate what is evil. This is not contradictory. Love indicates priority, and high priority connects to love, and low priority connects to hate. There is no contradiction in hating the sin of a person while simultaneously loving their being, their existence, and their health. And since human health is objective also, hating sin is just as simple as hating poison. Poison is objectively adverse to health, as poison countermands the structure and functioning of human physiology.

4 Aspects of Christian love:

  1. Love is not merely emotional (‘feeling love’, and ‘love itself’, are different things)
  2. Love has a rational dimension
  3. Love has a dimension of character (what you love reveals your character)
  4. Love transforms you (you become, in some sense, what you love)

Virtue is excelling in human activity and acts of love is the purpose of human activity. Vice is demonstrating human activity gone wrong; it is a kind of weakness, ignorance, and imbalance. Vice is not hating itself, but an imbalance that often leads to hating the wrongs things (and understanding hate, too, as nothing but emotion, this would be a similar mistake).

So, let us love what is “true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Philippians 4:8.

Great Related Articles:

Learn your fallacies, and save the world! (Yes, this is hyperbole, but there is something to it)

Is this an exaggeration? Yes! Learning your fallacies may not save the world, but it will make it a little less irrational, and that is a very good thing. You could, of course, go the completely free route, and look at Wikipedia, and the many lists of fallacies, or check out some great free podcasts.

Is this an exaggeration? Yes! Learning your fallacies may not save the world, but it will make it a little less irrational, and that is a very good thing. You could, of course, go the completely free route, and look at Wikipedia, and the many lists of fallacies, or check out some great free podcasts.  Also, you can check out my article Intro to Logic for Commenting on Social Media (aka, how not to be an idiot, when reading, thinking, and posting on social media).

If you only are going to spend a few minutes…then simply read on.

Bad reasoning is typically divided into two major types. The first is a problem in the logical structure relating to a problem in form, or a formal fallacy. The other type of problem relates to a problem of content (the material, or matter, of the argument). Both are important, but if you are not going to spend your time studying logic (be honest), then the most common errors will be discussed here, which can be broadly captured by two camps of errors about the matter of an argument: ‘appealing to the wrong things’ and ‘being hasty.’ Common examples of appealing to the wrong things can be appealing to popularity, authority, force, feelings, pity, envy, etc. The biggest issue that you need to realize is that fallacies screw up your reasoning because they do have something to them, and often they do get you rules that often work out (but they don’t always, and often mislead us). Consider being a poisoner. Would you succeed in poisoning someone if you leave out a contained labeled “POISON!”? No, but you might succeed if you hid the poison in things that look like non-poisonous things tea, coffee, and doughnuts.

Fallacies are like that, they are sneaky little blighters.

You probably would go right, most of the time, by taking your doctor’s advice, but just because a doctor advised something does not mean that it necessarily is the best course (doctors can be wrong). You’d probably get it right sometimes if you polled people on uncontroversial topics like the weather. But here’s the problem: with controversial things, we’re trying to sort out the BS, and to do that, we need to be less hasty, less credulous, and more critical.  To accomplish this, we have to take to heart to some hard lessons, like: facts don’t care about how you feel (it doesn’t necessarily mean anything except that you feel a certain way), doing something doesn’t mean you should (even if a bunch of people think it is ok), believing you are right doesn’t mean that you are, and even thinking carefully–even this– still doesn’t mean that you are right.

The first major camp of informal fallacies is basically about appealing to things that don’t really matter (though it seems relevant), if you think carefully (even if that method often works well normally). The second camp relates to being hasty. This is obviously related to the first, but is a little different, because it has less to do with appealing to something, than with assuming that one’s premise gets you more than it really does.

For instance, consider statistics: correlation does not equal causation. E.g.  100% of serial killers drink water. Coincidence? Put that water down you sicko! This might trick us though, because when there is a causal relation, there will also be a correlation.

Another popular fallacy, also with statistics, ignores this: disparity does not equal injustice. E.g. Two equally trained people do the same things, but one gets paid much more than the other. Injustice! But this is clearly problematic, what if one person is working while in jail for murdering pregnant women and their unborn babies (and working in the prison)? This could also make sense when one person with equal training, background, etc, simply does a better job than the other, despite otherwise equal backgrounds. But in this case, one person was working in a prison, while the other was doing the same job outside of prison (relevantly different than).

Or take an economic fallacy that is driven by the uncritical conviction that equal ‘labor’ should net equal pay (as if labor and calorie expenditure are more valuable than, say, productive value). Contrast the differences between a person that creates an entire industry and makes a billion dollars, and works 70 hours a week, but his twin works 70 hours a week too, but at McDonald’s, and makes far less. If there is an injustice, it requires an argument, rather simply saying that if there is a disparity, then there must be an injustice. In this case, one person took risks, built something that otherwise wasn’t there, and created a complex system of layered planning, cooperation, and voluntary exchanges, on the one hand, while on the other, this person took no risk, built nothing, invested nothing in terms of long-term plans/energy, etc, made naught but a sandwich, created no systems, and did not need to know how to facilitate multi-layered, voluntary exchanges.

This is nothing but a sketch, of course. I’d recommend that you do your own research, try to jump to fewer conclusions, say ‘I don’t know’ a lot (unless, of course, you do), and try to name the fallacies that you think you find in the news, what you read, and what you say. We make mistakes all the time. It is just silly to assume otherwise. So, let us all try to make fewer bad appeals, less hasty generalizations, and help each other seek the truth, encourage civilized discussion, and become self-educated in the best sense of the word. If we do these things the world will be a little better off.

Some other websites with fallacy examples:

https://carm.org/logical-fallacies-or-fallacies-argumentation
https://www.bethinking.org/apologetics/logic-and-fallacies-thinking-clearly
http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/index.html

Some Free Podcasts:

https://player.fm/series/mastering-logical-fallacies

Good Books to Buy:

Socratic Logic: A Logic Text using Socratic Method, Platonic Questions, and Aristotelian Principles, Edition 3.1
With Good Reason: An Introduction to Informal Fallacies

Some other websites with fallacy examples:

https://carm.org/logical-fallacies-or-fallacies-argumentation

https://www.bethinking.org/apologetics/logic-and-fallacies-thinking-clearly

http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/index.html

Some Free Podcasts:

https://pintswithaquinas.com/podcast/28-7-common-logical-fallacies/

https://player.fm/series/mastering-logical-fallacies

Good Books to Buy:

Socratic Logic: A Logic Text using Socratic Method, Platonic Questions, and Aristotelian Principles, Edition 3.1

With Good Reason: An Introduction to Informal Fallacies

Why is God Relevant?: A Primer

God’s identity refers to the character of God, His personhood, and His various characteristics. God is tri-personal, meaning that He is three persons in one being, or three ‘whos’ and one ‘what’. But one might ask, why should I care what type of being God is. That is a great question, and here is a preliminary answer.

First, since we are Image-Bearer’s of God, God’s identity is relevant for our own identities as we are His reflective creations. Just as a 2-dimensional mirror-image is like the 3-dimensional object that reflects in the mirror, so we are like God in some relevant ways. We are less than God, certainly…but there is something about us that is only answered by looking at God. What are these similarities precisely? This is a question for another time. But there is much to discuss before we get to this question. For now, this is a good account of the reflective relationship between man and his God:

We are mirrors whose brightness, if we are bright, is wholly derived from the sun that shines upon us” CS Lewis

So, understanding God’s relationship to you sheds light onto who you are, your purpose, and why you struggle after apparently impossible things, like justice, peace, immortality, and unconditional love. We are meant to be more than this world. The relationship we have with God determines many aspects of our life, our virtue, our wisdom, and our vocation(s). Who God is, this determines who you are because you are made in the Image of God. Just as the light of the moon gets its light from the sun, the sun is relevant to the moon’s light, since it is derived from the sun.

Next, God’s identity informs the context of God’s incarnation in Jesus Christ, our Savior. Knowing God’s identity, and understanding God’s relationship to you provides the back-story for the reason why we need a savior, and why we have a savior. That is to say, part of God’s identity, that He has revealed to us, is that He loves us and wants us to be perfect: this explains why He set-up perfect standards and why He would suffer and die on the cross to raise us to perfection. We needed a savior because God’s standards could not be met by us. We have a savior because God is love, and would incarnate Himself in Jesus Christ so that we may be perfected through Christ’s sacrifice.

So, who God is determines our understanding of our own identities and His relationship to you and me objectively, as God’s nature precedes our nature because our nature is a reflection of God’s nature.

Popular Nonsense

First falsehood: God is an anthropomorphism, such that, He is a psychological manifestation stemming from a deep-seated desire for a father figure (a la Freud, and Nietzche). However, the God of the Bible doesn’t conform to human behavior. God doesn’t solve the superficial problems that we want to be solved. The Christian God is not anthropomorphic.

Second Falsehood: God is bound by human morality and is subject to our anthropomorphic idea about Him (a false belief about His nature).

Human righteousness is a function of our nature as Image-bearers of God, which means that we have a specific nature and purpose. We are limited creatures within a larger plan. We struggle and live life within this larger plan. Our decisions are morally evaluable according to our design and our limitations of knowledge. However, God does not have a design to live up to as we do. Nor does He work in ignorance about making decisions that may or may not fall in line with the greater plan. Therefore, His commands and decisions in this world are not susceptible to our terribly oblique, imperfect, and woefully unequipped judgments. To judge God as if He were a person like a human being–just and only like us– is to commit yourself to a gratuitous anthropomorphism.

What are the basic characteristics of being a man?

Why is it important to know what a real man is? Well, it is important for everyone because we are all shaping people to some kind of ideal. This is true whether we know it or not. That is, everyone encourages and discourages each other, by our statements, omissions, praises, etcl

Why is it important to know what a real man is? Well, it is important for everyone because we are all shaping people to some kind of ideal. This is true whether we know it or not. That is, everyone encourages and discourages each other, by our statements, omissions, praises, etc. What we praise, we encourage. What we denounce, we discourage. Whatever ideal that we have in our mind, leaks out in our actions, and into society.

Consider this. Imagine that you are a father or mother, and ask yourself, what things do I need to instill in my child by the time of accountability? This is an old term, but basically, it amounts what does it mean to pass from ‘being a child and boy’ to ‘being a man’?

This is important because parents need to know the whole so that they can order the parts. They need to know where they are going, in order to plot their course. So, what are the basic, and most important, characteristics of becoming a man, and being a man?

This relates to cultural responsibility. These are deep issues, but I think a lot can be said by simply pointing to what is passed down, encouraged, discouraged, and glorified. We pass down what we think is the best, not just material things, but values, songs, favorite activities, etc.

In that ballpark, then, what are we responsible for exemplifying, encouraging, and expecting of children?

Now, it seems that a fact of human life is related to the KISS principles (Keep It Simple Stupid). KISS is not just a good idea because it works (though it generally does), it is a  principle because–we humans– we really are stupid sometimes. If you don’t keep something simple, you completely forget the point of what you’re doing in the first place.

So, about ‘being a man’, what is something that we can point to that is simple and true, that shows what a man ought to be? That is, what is something that we can point to that we aim to get our young boys towards, by the time their bodies are developed, and become men? (because you can be physically grown without maturity in other respects).

To my mind, the simplest thing that we can point to is the joint role of father and husband. Being a man is the ability, and willingness, to understand the great responsibility of being a husband and a father. This doesn’t mean that you only become a man if you’re married and have children. This isn’t the point. The point is, that the great responsibilities for being reliable, honest, committed, gentle, fierce, loving, and prepared, that is what shows that you are a man (readiness to be what is needed). The converse would also be true. If you can’t have a committed relationship, have what it takes to build a life for yourself and others, then you are not yet a man, regardless of your age.

More could be said about this, but I fear that far too little is already said about this. If we point to mere children as men (take your pick about any celebrity that isn’t the fatherly-husband type i.e. still a boy), then we should not be surprised that our children often struggle to find out where they fit, and whether or not they are successes. I am, of course, suggesting that an honest man that builds a life and family is the true success, and beyond this, we go into more complex matters about wisdom, philosophy, the best life, what God wants for us to do, etc (which we should address). For now, though, raise your glass to the men (real men) that do it right, that walk the line. And lovingly suggest to those that don’t understand these things, that perhaps, just perhaps, they missed a few important lessons of life, about what about being a man means. (oh, and by the way, being a husband and father is really difficult…that’s why we need to cultivate it in our young because preparation helps us all succeed).

So, what does being a man mean? A simplified version is this: Being a man is knowing how to, and being prepared to be, committed, reliable, honest, and constructive so that they could be a husband and father. Don’t let the simplicity of the statement deceive you though. It often isn’t (simple), that’s why only real men can do it.

This short article is only a prelimary treatment of the topic of being a man.

Here are some interesting books on the subjects of being a man, and parenting:

The Poetry of Wine (a reflection)

I have recently been trying to make wine, with some success (baby steps). I’m definitely a neophyte (newbie), but I think it is interesting about why doing things from ‘beginning to end’ is so rewarding. For instance, why is growing your own tomatoes, or making your own bread so rewarding? I think that it is more than simply that fresh bread has an amazing taste (which it certainly does). There is a kind of magic that comes with making something yourself. Consider the process of making wine, cultivating a garden, writing a book, or building something with one’s own hands. There are staggering implications to this, in that there is a kind of poetry in rational activity. Indeed, ‘poetry’ comes from the Greek word poein, poiein ‘to make, create, compose.’

Consider the beauty and wonder in the process of making wine. It was Jesus’ first miracle, and it is something we can in a very real way to participate with nature. Is it directly ‘willing the grape into a fermented product’? No. But the process itself is a collaborative wonder between beings that grasp reality with their minds (us), and things in the world that grow, live, and are nourished in an interesting tapestry of interconnected parts. And this is only possible if there is a kind of fabric to reality, and that we are the kind of being that can grasp this fabric. Moreover, we can make and enjoy wine because of it (from the beginning of the process to the end).

How does this connect to wine? It may not connect directly to the grapes and the fermentation, and its specifics steps, but it certainly connects to what we think is in the activities of life itself. For instance, what if someone told you that life itself was a kind of magic? That behind the changing, impermanent, and frail world, there is an unchanging, transcendent, and invincible aspect of reality? Sound interesting? I think so, but I think these things because this seems to fit how reality actually is. It is interesting and magical…because it is true. Further, the fact that we can grasp the world with our minds, and then change the world with our will, is astonishing.

Not only is there beauty, and goodness in the world, but we actually can modify, adapt, and grow with the world. We can participate in the goodness of the world. With work, we can mix our minds and labor with the world. We can grow gardens. We can transform grapes into wine. We can recognize the fabric of reality with symbols like words and song and art. I can not only make wine from the cultivated life of grapes, but I can use it toast with my family to God, for not only making a tapestry of reality and life but also placing us within this tapestry.

I want to say that the fact that there is truth, beauty, and goodness in the world, and that this fact can be grasped by the mind, used through intelligent work, and our very souls can be on the side of goodness, gentleness, and justice, and these are aspects of living life (a good life, that is). That is, these are aspects of acting rationally, and believing things about the world in which we live, we actually participate in the real fabric of reality. Reality itself is a wonder, and though evil can rule the hearts of men, that horror may appear, and injustice may, for a time, appear inescapable, nevertheless, meaningfulness is basic to the very fabric of human life, and we can choose to love justice and mercy, and walk humbly with our God. That is, the starting point, the default position, of human life, is meaning. Adults, properly cultivated, grasp more of the wonder of life, not less. This should tell us something about how we parent and develop ourselves (if we lose the sense of wonder, something is amiss!) 

If this is not poetry, then it is hard to see what is. This small reflection is part of a larger project of mine, which is to bring together the otherwise disparate strands of human life together, in an exciting, and enriching philosophy. As a philosopher, I think of myself as not only as an academic that studies, but also as a kind of bard, that preserves and cultivates the goodness of all that life has to offer.

So, here’s to wine, which is a great symbol of joy (as was mead and beer in times past), and to the wonders of man’s ability to partake in the growing and cultivation of great things, through our intellect, hard work, and patience. Not only can we enjoy good things, but we can cultivate and understand a portion of the good things in life.

So, go create something, and know that the very fact that you can do so is a kind of poetry and magic. If you know there is magic in the activity, and have gratitude in your heart, then what could be more poetic? Have a glass of wine, and give thanks. We live in a tapestry of poetry.

Cheers – Sláinte – Prost

Here is a book to consider:

The Booklovers’ Guide To Wine: A Celebration of the History, the Mysteries and the Literary Pleasures of Drinking Wine

Here is some poetry of wine too:

A Drinking Song by William Butler Yeats

Wine comes in at the mouth

And love comes in at the eye;

That’s all we shall know for truth

Before we grow old and die.

I lift the glass to my mouth,

I look at you, and I sigh.

Heroic Poem In Praise Of Wine – by Hilaire Belloc (first seven lines)

To exalt, enthrone, establish and defend,

To welcome home mankind’s mysterious friend

Wine, true begetter of all arts that be;

Wine, privilege of the completely free;

Wine the recorder; wine the sagely strong;

Wine, a bright avenger of sly-dealing wrong,

Awake, Ausonian Muse, and sing the vineyard song!

Philosophers and Free Markets: The Market Facing Philosopher

Have you ever thought about how a philosopher might fit inside markets, outside of academia?

I think philosophy should be a kind of service to people, and this is why I’m talking about free markets. I know this might seem like an odd position to have for an academic, as many academics like to say not-so-flattering things about the Free-market. In terms of numbers derived from polling data,  for instance, most academics don’t like the free markets (except for good economists). But this is a mistake, and strange for many reasons. Free markets are about goods and services, where a person thrives if and only if a person or group of persons helps other people thrive, providing them with something that enriches their lives (otherwise, why would they willingly part with their time and money?). Additionally, free markets are about rational persuasion and voluntary transactions (if I can’t convince you that my information, services, or products are worth your time and money, then I don’t get your support). I think that philosophy is a great benefit to humanity, to those that get acquainted by it, and that good philosophy definitely enriches their lives. For this reason, that good philosophy really does enrich everybody’s life, I want to be a Free-market philosopher.

That is, if I’m ‘market-facing,’ as economists call it, then if I provide a good product (my philosophy), then success will be reflected by my support from voluntary transactions from responsible adults that value what I’m providing. In this case, I desire to occupy a space between the Ivory Tower academics and the working person in the real world. The market space for philosophers, I think, is not typically operating in this sphere (I’m guessing that this niche is not exactly saturated). Contrast this to coerced transactions, where a body of persons, assign the worth of somebody’s goods or services, and those goods or services don’t have responsive feedback from the market.

Think about the cost of an x-ray or the way a professor is hired. The costs and processes ‘behind the scenes’ aren’t in the open, and usually, the only way things get checked by the public (market place) is if something goes terribly wrong (x-ray machine explodes, or professor gets involved in a scandal). However, free-market mechanisms directly connect to the products being provided, and their prices. Good products have positive feedback, signaling to everyone in the market that there is money to be made there. Bad products don’t last, or their prices get reduced. Artificially coerced prices (government set prices) can get away with crappy products because there is no market feedback. Only artificially-coerced products and services can remain crappy, and still be sold at a high price (hence the problems with artificially fixing prices, and the dangers of mucking with the free-market; interested in this, see recommendation below). Free-markets tend to lower costs and increase efficiency because high prices indicate that money can be made wherever the prices are high. So, free-markets tell producers where and what to produce, and the whole of the market pushes enterprising people to increase efficiency where the profits can be found (where prices are high).

I will provide some articles on the free market later, but for my present purposes, I think that good philosophy is a great benefit to all, and that it can be defended and promoted in the free market. And this is basically what my philosophy is about. I’ll provide a bunch of philosophical articles tailored to my audience (i.e. human beings), who are interested in the clarification, simplification, and unity, to their own lives. If you like what you see, you can share my links and comment (you won’t have to buy a $100 book, because the academic superpowers decided that you should add that to your mountain of debt). Interested in the types of philosophy that I’m working in? Check out this article here: Philosophy for All, Between the Ivory Tower and the Working Man 

Interested in Free Market Discussion?:

Tom Woods: Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse

Or, for free stuff: check out Tom Wood’s podcast:  https://tomwoods.com/

Philosophy for All, Between the Ivory Tower and the Working Man

What if there were philosophers that were between the Ivory Towers, and the many people in the workplace that actually make the world go around? This is what this site is about. Consider the differences between what I’ll call Lay philosophy in contrast to Professional philosophy. Professional philosophers operate at a very high level, in the sense that the works that they consume, produce, and engage in, require many years of investment before the works can be understood (many terms need to be understood, and the context of the discussions are vast). Contrast this with what I’d call Lay philosophy, which is basically what one might encounter in a good introductory survey course in philosophy. I say ‘good’ because a good intro course is built in a way to be challenging but still accessible, and a bad course doesn’t actually provide a helpful introduction to philosophy that really helps the student.

If I could rename ‘lay philosophy’ with ‘exoteric’ and ‘professional’ with ‘esoteric’, then we’ll be getting somewhere. I think that philosophy influences people a great deal, but it does so in a very roundabout way. It is like that rudder in a great ship. If you were watching somebody in the depths of a cruise ship, it might appear that they are not doing much (working on machines, servicing them, etc), but this would be a mistake. The whole ship relies on the engineers in the ship. This is an imperfect analogy, but important. Philosophers influence other people in the university, which in turn, educate others, like those in education. So, esoteric philosophy is that hard-to-understand expert philosophy, and exoteric philosophy is for public consumption. ‘Ex’ summons to mind ‘outside,’ and ‘eso’ invokes ‘inside’ or ‘into’. In the middle, is ‘meso’ which simply means ‘middle.’ As a philosopher, I wish to be a mesoteric philosopher that straddles the esoteric and the exoteric, between the high-level abstruse philosophy and the lower-level introductions to philosophy.

In many ways, I think that the exoteric and mesoteric philosophical levels are more important for society. Consider the political divisions, the crises of education, and so many other issues. Much of these things would be far different if the majority of the populace had access to what I would call good philosophy, that simplifies, unifies, and clarifies, our growing body of human knowledge. That is, in my estimation, philosophers should provide a way to understand how all of the bodies fit together (unifying), while carefully showing how each province of knowledge is different from another (clarifying differences), and simplifies hard-won wisdom into accessible statements that help a people live meaningful, resilient, rewarding lives.

So, welcome the CommonPhilosopher.com. I will be improving the site, adding meaningful content, and expanding the media. If you want to support me, you can do so by getting to Amazon through my ‘Patron support’ Amazon swoop. You don’t pay more, but I do get a small portion of your purchase for promoting them. If you like what I write about, then check out my recommendations for books. If want me to address something that you’ve wondered about, add a comment or email me. If you think I’m completely wrong, excellent, but let’s refrain from ad hominem attacks, and then please explain which premises are false, or which inference was wrong (see this article for logic primer).

Have a great day!

If you interested in philosophy, as described, here are some great intro books from Mortimer Adler:

Six Great Ideas, and

Aristotle for Everybody: Difficult Thought Made Easy

Intro to Logic for Commenting on Social Media (aka, how not to be an idiot, when reading, thinking, and posting on social media)

Admit it, you’ve wondered why some people can’t help from saying stupid things. However, have you thought about what the ‘right way’ to read, think, and respond is, to another person’s argument? I’m going to give a run-down about how to start thinking about this.

Intro to Logic for Commenting on Social Media (aka, how not to be an idiot, when reading, thinking, and posting on social media)

Admit it, you’ve wondered why some people can’t help from saying stupid things. However, have you thought about what the ‘right way’ to read, think, and respond is, to another person’s argument? I’m going to give a run-down about how to start thinking about this.

First, seriously note that your feelings might be quite irrelevant. Your feelings might be very informative, but the reality is that humans do not do their best thinking when ruled by their unreflective reactions. Things are not entirely solved, however, by simply being calm and collected.

For instance, one can spend a great deal of time and energy thinking about something, and still come to the wrong conclusion (thinking carefully is good, but calm and careful thinking merely helps, it does not guarantee well-reasoned thought). Think about every horrible book that was written with a lot of forethought.

Second, remember your fallacies. Fallacious reasoning is reasoning that appears strong and good, but in reality, instead of actually giving valid reasoning, it appeals to something else, like emotion, prejudices, etc. Bracket in your mind the difference between valid reasoning from fallacious reasoning. I will put some resources on my website, but until then, there are a ton of helpful websites out there to clarify the differences. In short, though, don’t commit fallacies yourself.

Third, seek to understand the statement of the post from a charitable perspective. For instance, in political discussion, some people fail to notice that there is often agreement on the ends (goals) of a given policy, but only a disagreement of the means towards those shared goals. For instance, someone on the right might argue for less gun control, and someone on the left might argue for more gun control. Both, presumably, want safer neighborhoods, social health, prosperity for their nation, etc. In this instance, granting charity, then, both sides want to protect children, the only disagreement is the means. Likewise, two people might agree that healthcare is very important, and want all people to have great healthcare.

A free-market person would argue that free markets produce better results, and since healthcare is very important, therefore, free-markets should drive healthcare. On the other hand, someone for State-intervention (for every problem, because without the government, we couldn’t even tie our own shoes) might say that healthcare is very important, so the government should be tasked with it.

The free-market person and the Statist are both interested in getting the best healthcare system, and it would be wrong to mischaracterize one’s opponent, by assuming that they want something different from what they actually want (since they both want great healthcare for the country).

Fourth, know what your job is, as a critical reasoner. You didn’t know you had a job? Well, studying logic tells us that we actually have two major tasks to perform when we check an argument (thanks Aristotle, you rock). The first job is to check if the premises properly connect to each other. That is, check whether the form of the argument is right: one premise properly connects to another, and the conclusion follows from the premises.

This can get a little technical, but the gist is something like this: make sure there are no formal fallacies, and that the form of the argument is right. The second job is checking that the premises in the argument are true. If we checked that the form right, and it passes, then if the premises are true, then the conclusion must follow (logic is pretty cool, I know). Given these two jobs, checking for validity and for truth, we now know that if there is something wrong with the argument it is of two kinds: either one or more of the premises is false, or the reasoning is flawed (or some combination).

Fifth, if you are going to respond against the argument you need to show which premise is wrong and why, and if the reasoning is fallacious, note the fallacy (there are lists of fallacies, but once you familiarize yourself with them, you’ll get the hang of seeing how bad argument work, or rather, don’t work).

Sixth, you might be wondering if all of these steps are necessary, and think, ‘why can’t I just say whatever I feel like?’ Well, one reason you might not want to do that is that you want to think of yourself as a reasonable adult, rather than an unreasoning animal. Another reason is that there are already a surplus of stupid arguments, bad information, and irrationality in the world, and we simply don’t need anymore.

Seventh, when you don’t do the suggested steps, and haven’t done the proper research to talk about something intelligent say this phrase, which is the sure mark of being educated person…are you ready for it? Here it goes: “I don’t know”. I’d practice it in the mirror a few times if you are unfamiliar with the phrase.  

Wise people know that they don’t know things (the wiser, the more they know of their ignorance). Honest people admit that they haven’t done all of the research, and don’t try to pretend to know more than they do. In short, don’t be a foolish and dishonest college-student stereotype, pretending to look and sound smart, with uncritical regurgitation of half-baked –but emotionally-charged- nonsense. Rather, say things like, ‘I don’t know,’ ‘I’ll have to look into that’, ‘I’m not sure’, and ‘I’ll have to think about this, thanks.’

I hope this introduction to logic is helpful, short though it is.

Why is Everyone So Irrational When it Comes to Politics?

Why is Everyone So Irrational When it Comes to Politics? Michael Huemer, from CU-Boulder has a Ted-Talk, article, and a book that deals with these topics. The question addressed in the paper, is whether persistent disagreement is explained by something like (i) ‘lack of information’, (ii) ‘miscalculation’, (iii) ‘divergent values’, or is it a kind … Continue reading “Why is Everyone So Irrational When it Comes to Politics?”

Why is Everyone So Irrational When it Comes to Politics?

Michael Huemer, from CU-Boulder has a Ted-Talk, article, and a book that deals with these topics. The question addressed in the paper, is whether persistent disagreement is explained by something like (i) ‘lack of information’, (ii) ‘miscalculation’, (iii) ‘divergent values’, or is it a kind of (iv) ‘irrationality’?

Here is the paper (not too long): http://www.owl232.net/papers/irrationality.htm

Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JYL5VUe5NQ

His article argues that it is irrationality, not lack of evidence, divergence of values, or even a lack of information, that explains our many divisive disagreements. I think his arguments are persuasive, which pushes us (people in general) to consider how we can be more rational.

His book on Political Authority is worth a read too, if you are interested in how the State is different from individuals like ourselves, if it is different from us.