Archive for January, 2006

Nobility Lost

by Jason Stotts

It’s times like these that show me clearly why the Existentialist decried the world as absurd, why the wise often take themselves out of the society and into small select circles. It’s times like these – that last vestige of darkness before the world comes alive again, when the craziest things happens – as if the darkness brings out the irrationality in men’s souls.

It seems as if men choose to live their lives in the shadows of ignorance, stupidity, bigotry, and the mists of confusion – instead of striving for the day and for the liberating rays of light that the Truth provides. It seems like the night draws forth the irrationality in men’s souls and feeds upon it, compounding it, and exacerbating the problem. The night, that time when the light of Truth doesn’t reach us, is dangerous – the sleep of reason lowers our defenses against the onslaught of irrationality and subjects us to it’s torturous reign.

This particular night has shown me clearly why some people choose not to fight, why some choose to stay unconcerned with others and just mind their own business. This night has shown me the very depths of human absurdity and the sorrow that irrationality brings.

There is perhaps nothing as fine and noble as true love in life – to behold it is a rare joy and to experience a defining time in one’s life and to see love die in a storm of irrationality and absurdity is such a saddening experience that my rhetorical skills fail me. I cannot describe the horror that it is to watch a scene unfold, knowing and understanding the two sides as they are laid out and watching the two sides completely misunderstand each other as they fight desperately to cling to their own irrationality and absurdity. But worse, to have the scene unfold when you have an interest in it is unbearable – to see your oldest friend be party to such a debacle is no less than nauseating.

What I witnessed tonight was enough to make me want to turn my back on an absurd world and leave them to destroy themselves – I can certainly understand the Justice in the whole situation, but I find that I, like Ragnar, cannot bear to see the such a beautiful world destroyed by the folly of some. I know that most people are fundamentally good and fundamentally rational, and although I perhaps repeated myself – the point is that people can change for the better and the world is not doomed if people will just change.

I sit in the dark, with my small flame and wonder how I can initiate the firestorm – the conflagration that will consume all the irrationality, all the mysticism, and all the evil that reigns so openly and supremely among men right now. I wonder how I can take the crown of evil and smash it into the million little lies and fictions it is, I wonder how I can restore Pride, the crown of the virtues, to man head. I wonder how I can fix this broken crown that has been thrown aside and forgotten.

It is saddening to me to see the candles around me, some lit and some not, those minute points of light in the vast darkness and to know that I carry a flame inside me sufficient to ignite the firestorm – that I carry the heritage of the mind into the future, that I carry the sword of Truth at my hip, and the lineage of such intellectual giants as Rand and Aristotle, who despite their faults are the only reasons our world is holding on as much as it is. Were it not for their twin suns in the sky and the other twinkling stars in the heavens with them, the light of man might have already been extinguished.

I just wonder at, and am saddened, by those who choose to put out their lights – who choose to let go of their humanity.

If there are better ways to end a human life than irrationality, mysticism, and ignorance – I know them not and shudder to think what could be worse.

At least though, I am reminded why I fight – I, who carry the sword and the flame, cannot lay them down and expect another to come along able to wield them in my place. No, it is not for you I fight, but for me – and for the nobility of the human spirit. I fight to restore the world to what it should be for me, because I choose to be that kind of person and live in that kind of world.

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Good News

by Jason Stotts

So today I found out that I’m going to be travelling to Jacksonville Florida to present a paper on Aristotle’s “De Anima” at the UNF philosophy conference!

Needless to say, I’m rather excited and I think this should be quite the interesting affair!

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On A Lighter Note

by Jason Stotts

Yesterday (Friday) was officially a day of celebration of the aesthetic qualities found particularly instantiated in certain individuals.

Congrats to the one person who knows what I’m talking about! 😉

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On God – A Reply

by Jason Stotts

In response to my essay “On God” I received this reply from M.:

This is a very well thought-out essay, but you must remember that the entire point of the concept of God is that it transcends human reason. I do not think that there is anything wrong with attempting to relate to that which transcends one’s limited powers of cognition, as long as they are still applied correctly in the realm in which they are effective. Furthermore, because you are not any more able than religious people to logically explain the existence of the universe, I am not entirely certain that it is right for you to criticize them for giving a name (i.e. “God”) to what neither of you can explain. -mh [emphasis added]

Her biggest criticism being that since neither myself nor religious people know how the universe came about, I should not criticize them for their belief that god created it.

Now this makes me quite sad as it’s quite the ignorant position on her part showing her to either have given very little thought on the subject or to have worked from bad premises.

The point, my dear M., is that just as you rightly point out – neither of us can explain it. Since the origins of the universe are not yet known, my position is the only intellectually honest one, namely that I don’t know. However, religous people want to go farther than that and in so doing they commit the fallacy of argumentum ad ignorantiam in which one argues for a positive position based on lack of evidence.

The fallacy is committed when one says this:

1. We don’t know what created the universe
2. It must have been god who created the universe

Although clearly no religious person is this intellectually honest. The point is that positing a god that is a creator violates the fallacy.

In case the nature of the fallacy is not clear enough, I’ve put some examples from different websites below:

The argument to ignorance is a logical fallacy of irrelevance occurring when one claims that something is true only because it hasn’t been proved false, or that something is false only because it has not been proved true. A claim’s truth or falsity depends upon supporting or refuting evidence to the claim, not the lack of support for a contrary or contradictory claim.

The fact that it cannot be proved that the universe is not designed by an Intelligent Creator does not prove that it is. Nor does the fact that it cannot be proved that the universe is designed by an Intelligent Creator prove that it isn’t.

The argument to ignorance seems to be more seductive when it can play upon wishful thinking. People who want to believe in immortality, for example, may be more prone to think that the lack of proof to the contrary of their desired belief is somehow relevant to supporting it.http://skepdic.com/ignorance.html

– or –

It is inconceivable that (fill in the blank) could have originated naturally. Therefore, it must have been created. This argument, also known as the argument from ignorance or “god of the gaps,” is implicit in a very many different creationist arguments. In particular, it is behind all arguments against abiogenesis and any and all claims of intelligent design.

The argument from incredulity creates a god of the gaps. Gods were responsible for lightning until we determined natural causes for lightning, for infectious diseases until we found bacteria and viruses, for mental illness until we found biochemical causes for them. God is confined only to those parts of the universe we do not know about, and that keeps shrinking. http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA100.html

Thus, it should be clear that my position is the only honest intellectual position on the issue of the “creation” of the universe and that to assume that it had to have been created by a god is nothing more than fancy and fallacy combined.

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On God

by Jason Stotts

Being in the “Bible-belt” of the south last summer has given me ample cause to ponder the idea of God – that purported first metaphysical principle and act of existence (St. Thomas). Yet, even after having given more careful thought to this issue, I am left in the same position which I occupied before my ruminations – it seems to me that such a metaphysical entity would be a self-contradiction and could not possibly exist.

First, let me lay down some extremely basic framework from which I will argue.

1. The Law of Identity (A=A)

a) A thing is what it is – All existents exist with a definite nature such that any act of existence which is not part of their nature is impossible.

b) A thing is itself and will continue to exist as itself unless caused to change – any existent possessing a definite nature is so constituted as to maintain that nature unless it is caused, whether intrinsically or extrinsically, to change its nature such that it becomes something else.

2. The law of Non-Contradiction (~A≠A)

a) The Law of Non-Contradiction is a corollary of the Law of Identity and says that a thing cannot be itself and not itself at the same time and in the same respects.

b) All existents being so constituted as to possess a definite nature cannot exist in a state such that it is, at the same time and in the same respects, both itself and not itself concurrently. To do so would be to exist as a contradiction, a metaphysical and epistemological impossibility.

Now, one does not even need any sort of formal education to recognize the validity and truth of these principles; merely being alive should give one more than ample example of their truth. However, if one does feel so inclined as to be an idiot and attempt a refutation of these principles, one would first have to assume these principle true in order to disprove them, thus showing their necessity and truth even in the process of denial. That’s the beauty of Axioms or “First Principles:” they need no proof and cannot be disproved (they are reaffirmed through denial).

Since we accept these laws, we must now turn to the issue of this piece and set our sights upon the nature of God and whether such a being could possibly exist.

In order for there to exist a creator of any sort, there must first be a lack or absence of that which is to be created, since one cannot very well create that which already exists. Since it is assumed that God is the creator of all things, this entails that (a) before this act of creation, there was absolute nothingness excepting of course the being doing the creating and (b) that such a being exists (somehow) which is capable of an act of creation sufficient to bring into existence all that we conceive of as all that exists.

If we assume that God created the universe it means we accept that at some pre-existence time (t0) there is nothing in existence yet. Let us pause here and define A to be all existence and ~A to be non-existence or nothingness. So at (t0) what “exists” is ~A, or nothingness. Now let us assume at some time (tc) creation takes place and now there somehow exists all of existence A. So what we have in effect is from (t0)→(tc) we have ~A→A. This is an interesting proposition that ~A could immediately become A, given that ~A is nonexistence and A is existence. What we have here is “creation ex nihlo”, or what I like to call a logical impossibility. What we are saying here is that in a single instant god created a state of existence A from a state of non-existence ~A: he took ~A which possesses and identity of being a “state” of non-existence and making it instantly into a state of existence possessing at least some existents. In ancient logic once you reduced a theory to absurdity you were done and it was refuted (reductio ad absurdum), if such was still the case then we should sit back and consider the idea of god to be completely refuted – since as the Greeks say “Ex nihlo, nihil fit”.

However, religious people rarely operate with principles of reason and instead rely on faith to support their personal fictions. To these people we must look with pity and scorn for the death of their mind and their willingness to make themselves subhuman. If you hold this position then I shall refer to a paper that will be forthcoming on the nature of faith and epistemological justification.

As a tangential thought – it is curious to consider from whence such a being as a first metaphysical principle sprang. Obviously God could not have created himself – a nothing could not create a something. This means that either (a) God was created or (b) that God has always existed and is eternal. Now of course anyone who is religious would be adamantly against (a) and such an idea doesn’t truly make any sense at all. With regard to (b), this is obviously the position that religion advocates, but it is the very reason for which one must postulate a God as an act of Creation. If it is possible that some (at least one) existents can exist eternally without a beginning, then there is no reason why one must postulate a God to bring about existence

Also, the idea of “intelligent” design necessitates the same problem since if anything which is “irreducibly complex” necessitates a designer and one assumes any being with enough intelligence to design an irreducibly complex system must itself be irreducibly complex, then one has created an infinite regress of intelligent designers or a “third god” argument.

With respect to the nature of god, his very nature would necessitate violations of the law of identity and of non-contradiction (given a typical Jewish-Islamic-Christian conception). In that tradition God is the creator of the universe and as such is omnipotent. The first problem is that if God is, in fact, omnipotent then he would violate the law of identity as his “identity” with respect to this strength would be one of infinite magnitude (an indefinite identity). The second problem is a classical objection: “if God is infinitely powerful, could he create a rock which he could not lift?” Clearly the answer would have to be yes, lest he not be all powerful, but then this would mean he’s not all powerful because he himself could not life the rock. The problem extends to any predicate of “omni-”, or having an attribute that would be perfect, because the idea of “absolute perfection” necessarily carries with it paradox.

Also, I’d like to point out that all of this constitutes a refutation of current theories. The onus of proof is always upon those who assert positive theories – which means that those who posit the existence of god have the burden of proof and if they fail in their proof we have no reason to believe them nor to even acknowledge god as a possibility. Because of this, since no one has ever given a good proof for god’s existence, I say there is no reason to even entertain the idea of god any longer.

Which is it? Is man only God’s mistake or God only man’s mistake? ~ Nietzsche

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Gotta Keep Going

by Jason Stotts

Has there ever been a time in your life when you just feel down?

Has there ever been a time in your life when, evern though you know what you’re doing is the right thing, you nonetheless wish that things were otherwise?

Have you ever just thought “if only just this, it’d make the path so much easier”?

That’s kinda how I’ve been feeling recently – I feel like even though I’m poised to go on to a good grad school, I’m about to earn two BA’s, I have a good job, I’m involved in many extracurriculars, and have good friends, that there is still something missing from my life.

There is this burgeoning sense of apathy in me, resulting from I know not what – and this truly frightens me. Never in my life, no matter how bad things got or how indifferent others were, did I ever stop caring. I, the man who said “Apathy is Death!” am now feeling the crushing black cloak of indifference. Although it’s not a full cape I wear, but rather more like passing clouds, nonetheless it has me disturbed.

I know that I should be happy and even more eager to meet the future challenges than ever before, never before have I been in such a good position for the future. Yet I still am not happy.

Perhaps it is that my future is still uncertain – if I don’t get into Cornell, I’ll have to take a year off and apply to grad schools next year (assuming I also don’t get into Duke, which would complicate things).

Perhaps it is that my love life is ridiculously nonexistent.

Perhaps the general malaise of soul, that is so prevalent around me, has finally blackened my own as well.

Truly, I don’t know what the reason is for these fits of apathy, but they cause me great concern.

I think what it really is is that I’ve been sustaining such tremendous effort on such long term goals that I don’t have that small step sense of accomplishment that helps to fuel your passion when the days grow long and the path is vague. I think that if only I had some small victories here and there it would help significantly.

Although, I have had a couple of these and they don’t have a wide-ranging effect. Like today, for the first time in my life I taught a class (Philosophy 200) as an undergrad! I should be extremely excited and I should have gone out and celebrated – but with who? I don’t have anyone to share my victories with, someone to be proud of my accomplishments with me, someone to talk to about what the future may bring.

I don’t speak lightly when I say that proper relationships are a necessary condition of Eudaimonia – although I may have many of the other conditions satisfied so that one might call me eudaimon, nonetheless I am not.

This feeling of weakness and apathy is unnatural to me and I certainly cannot say that I like it. It seems that I shall have to do the best that I can to find the root of it and fix whatever probelm therein lies so that I can once again return to my normal state of happiness and confidence. I guess that until that time I shall have to make do and endeavor to do the best I can given my current state.

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Just Desserts

by Jason Stotts

So apparently there are at least some people in this country who have a strong sense of Justice combined with a strong sense of irony. This is probably the greatest bit of news I’ve ever heard in my life!

(I’m sure I’ll write a real essay about this soon)
——————–

Hotel Lost Liberty

Press Release

New Hampshire (PRWEB) Could a hotel be built on the land owned by Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter? A new ruling by the Supreme Court which was supported by Justice Souter himself itself might allow it. A private developer is seeking to use this very law to build a hotel on Souter’s land.

Justice Souter’s vote in the “Kelo vs. City of New London” decision allows city governments to take land from one private owner and give it to another if the government will generate greater tax revenue or other economic benefits when the land is developed by the new owner.

On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter’s home.

Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.The proposed development, called “The Lost Liberty Hotel” will feature the “Just Desserts Café” and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon’s Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged.”

Clements indicated that the hotel must be built on this particular piece of land because it is a unique site being the home of someone largely responsible for destroying property rights for all Americans.

“This is not a prank” said Clements, “The Towne of Weare has five people on the Board of Selectmen. If three of them vote to use the power of eminent domain to take this land from Mr. Souter we can begin our hotel development.”

Clements’ plan is to raise investment capital from wealthy pro-liberty investors and draw up architectural plans. These plans would then be used to raise investment capital for the project. Clements hopes that regular customers of the hotel might include supporters of the Institute For Justice and participants in the Free State Project among others.

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Music and Philosophy

by Jason Stotts

I’d like to agree with Nietzsche and also move beyond what he said with my own thoughts:

“Without music life would be a mistake – but without philosophy, human life would be impossible” ~js

(the first part, before the dash, is a quote from Nietzsche)

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