What is Tyranny? What’s the Big Deal?

What is Liberty? What is tyranny?
  1. John Locke – what is the government for, and not for? Government is for –precisely– for securing your liberty. That’s it. Everything should be pursued through other means. (rational non-coercive means)
  2. What is liberty? Liberty is the freedom to what you should be able to do, without getting permission from someone that doesn’t have authority over your ability to act within your own sphere.
  3. What is tyranny?
  4. The Historical Status Quo – Government Control of….everything
  5. If Locke was right, then tyranny is the heart of bad government. (contrast short and long-term effects)
  6. If Locke was right, then liberty is the heart of thriving humans and human society. (contrast short and long-term effects)

Important Facts to Bear in Mind

  1. Evils aren’t always obviously painful (stealing from the rich is still theft)
  2. Well-meaning people can be very wrong, on both moral issues and empirical issues
  3. According to the relationship between Liberty and Government, the government’s PRIMARY job is to preserve your liberty. That is why it is a big deal.
  4. Many of the ‘political promises’ for something good, do the opposite (big pharma, tax subsidies, monetary manipulations)
  5. Children ask permission to do everything because they aren’t full-grown rational adults.

Critical Assumptions

  1. You own yourself, your labor, and your property
  2. Governments work for individuals and families (not the reverse)
  3. Rational non-coercive means are MORALLY different than coercive means

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Reasons to Define Your Terms and to Admit That You Don’t Know What Is Going On

Want to be more intelligent and wise? Rather than appearing ‘in the know.’ Here are some things to avoid to make you a smarter person, and the world a grade better.

Defining One’s Terms Avoids (or, reasons to be wary):

  • 1. Misunderstanding (wrong conceptions of the topic/idea)
  • 2. Error (wrong conclusions based on the misconception)
  • 3. Zealotry without Knowledge (fanaticism)
  • 4. Irrational Fanaticism that Immune to Evidence and Reason

3 Tests for Checking if You’re Terms are Clearly Understood:

  • 1. You can provide a coherent definition without a dictionary or google
  • 2. You can explain important differences between related terms
  • 3. You can explain the important aspects of the idea/term without hasty generalizations, or making attacks on people’s character

A Simple prescription

  1. Don’t rush into ‘sounding smart’
  2. Really think about the topic at hand.
  3. ****Wait for it**** Say ‘I don’t Know’

Tips for parents and teachers:

Encourage honest answers, rather than sounding smart. Conversely, trying to sound smart, but being foolish…this is not smart at all!

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The Accident Fallacy: A Beginning to Solve Many Issues

How to Be More Optimistic, More Positive

Want to help the world be a little bit better? Master the Fallacy of the Accident, and Apply It

What is it? Confusing an accident (non-essential attribute) with an essential attribute?

  • Racism: Surface vs Character
  • Education: Degree vs Knowledge and Ability
  • Religion: Nominal vs Actual
  • Appearance vs Reality

For Other Resources:

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5 Steps of a Rational Analysis for Voting, Controversial Issues, and General Thinking

First, Put some major issues on the table, like racism, abortion, socialism-vs-capitalism, war, and education. Think about how passionate people are screeching at each other about these issues. Take a step back, and consider any of these issues through the following steps.

1. Diagnostic: What is the real problem?

2. Prescription: Given the diagnosis, what is the best solution?

3. Theoretical Dimensions/conflicts/foundations

4. Historical Application

5. Current Application

Watch for these: 

  • Watch for emotional appeals/divisive
  • Presumptive characterizations of the problems that need to investigate

Tips That You Can Do Now

  • Suspend judgement, admit ignorance, be impartial-before-partisan
  • Seek to know the basic beliefs of the people you are studying
  • Self-Test: if you agree with every policy from a given person or group, chances are, you’re not even thinking things through

Controversy for Progress

Do you want to make the world a more peaceful? Have more discussion, not less. Have more controversy, not less. Similar to teaching a young person to drink moderately, rather than teaching them to embrace abstinence, wrestling with controversial subject matter is a must for an intelligent and free person. It is better for the person, and better for the society.

Consider this quote from Tolstoy:

“If everyone made war only according to his own convictions, there would be no war.” Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, Page 25

Basic assumptions

  1. Some problems are properly solved intellectually, rationally, and voluntary (almost everything important)

2. Some problems solved with violence (some break into your house, attacks you, invades your country, etc)

3. Moral and intellectual virtues are like muscles, with practice they are developed, with disuse, they atrophy.

Ground Rules for Rational Discussion:

  • No fallacies (no irrelevant attacks, but focus on the argument at hand; see my articles on Fallacies here, here, )
  • Respect for Truth and Right (see my article Rational Discussion)
  • Respect for the Other Members of the Discussion

Negatives of avoiding controversy

  • Avoiding controversy atrophies your own convictions.
  • Avoiding controversy is itself a statement of relevance (something that can be compartmentalized into another part of your life, means that you are not willing to confront the ill effects of taking a public stand)
  • Avoiding controversy allows for collecting false friends and superficial associations (think of Aristotle’s analysis of Friendship, based on Utility, Pleasure, Goodness)

Positives of regularly confronting controversy

  • If you can be the person that confronts controversy, then you can be a leader, and a force for good (leaders confront controversial issues)
  • If you’re regularly investing in dealing with substantial matters, then the superficial matters are getting less attention
  • If you develop your intellect and your moral courage, then you are encouraging all those around you to be better people (wrestling with controversy does just that)
  • Positively changes your investment of time and energy (think about when people compare the salary of NBA stars to teachers, or soldiers, and some lament that the stars should get less; with a bit of economics in mind, in a free market, people who support the sport, vote with their dollar to give players raises. When you devote your time and money to being more intelligent, well-spoken, and positively-influential, then you’re investing in education)

What can you do to help develop yourself and others

  • Organize your thoughts on controversial matters
  • Understand the moral and rational implications of moral and rational thought: the implications actually matter- meaning, if you find that one of your core beliefs is wrong, than you are obligated to modify your beliefs; if you find that your lifestyle is wrong, than you are obligated to change your lifestyle (if you aren’t willing to do that, are you a person of integrity at all?)

Homework for your personal growth

  • Make a list of controversial issues that are live today
  • Articulate in writing what you think on them
  • Expose the argument that you think is compelling in front of others (be respectful, though)
  • If you don’t feel comfortable talking about these things, in front of your friends, family, coworkers, ask yourself why this is the case.
  • Explore these topics: God, Economic Theory, Abortion, Racism, Gun Rights, Euthanasia, Charity vs Taxed Welfare, Socialism vs Capitalism

Great websites along similar lines:

Reasons for Being Educated

Here are some strong reasons to be educated.

First, without education, your very world is smaller and lower-resolution.

Second, without education, you can’t explain why experts might be quite wrong.

Third, without education, you can’t tell the difference true things from counterfeit things, true authority, from a counterfeit authority, true wisdom, from folly.

Where do you get an education? It has never been easier. Never has there been easier access to knowledge and wisdom than now. I’m not talking about spending your time and money at a University. In fact, there are legitimate questions about whether college is even an effective route to education.

Viewed from a different vantage, simply, a true education will transform you, and it will allow you to see the world differently, and do things differently.

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Great courses to take control of your education: Liberty Classroom.

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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.

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