Barack Obama: And The Philosophy That’s Destroying America

Posted: June 30, 2012 in Epistemology, Ethics, Metaphysics, Politics
Tags: , , , , , ,

I started reading Barack Obama’s book, “The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming The American Dream,” (TAoH) and I discovered something I did not expect — a logically consistent philosophy. The foundation of this philosophy, however, is based on a false principle. The nature of false principles is that they logically sprout into false corollaries. So Barack Obama’s philosophical framework may be consistent, but it will be consistently false.

It is not one man and his philosophy that’s destroying America; that’s impossible, which is fortunate for mankind in general if you could picture what the world would be like if it wasn’t impossible. It is never one man that drives a nation toward destruction. Take Adolf Hitler for example, he wasn’t the only one in Germany to believe in what he was saying. As for America’s case, the fact that Barack Obama was voted into public office by a majority of voters indicates that the ideas Barack Obama represents resonates with the majority of Americans. A majority of the population holding false principles, in a consistently false philosophical framework, can and will destroy a nation whether it is German or America. It would destroy any nation.

The purpose of this paper is to challenge those false notions that seem to resonate with the majority of Americans in order to break their appeal and suggest an alternative philosophical framework that is based on a true principle and is also logically consistent throughout its corollaries. The method I will use to accomplish this is to quote Barack Obama’s own words in order to describe his philosophy; then I will prove that the principles are false by highlighting contradictions. Finally I will proceed to provide a non-contradictory alternative.

Let us begin with the basic outline of Barack Obama’s philosophical framework:
Metaphysics: non-objective reality, “…we live in a… contradictory world.” (pg. 56, TAoH)
Epistemology: Uncertainty, “I am robbed even of the certainty of uncertainty…” (pg. 97, TAoH)
Ethics: Relativism, “…my notions of truth and goodness… are as true and good… as yours…” (pg. 87, TAoH)
Politics: Bigger Government, “getting more things done.” (pg. 3, TAoH)

Let us continue with a more detailed breakout of the outline.

These are quotes from Obama that supports what I have identified as his metaphysical beliefs:

  • “It is precisely the pursuit of ideological purity… that keeps us from finding new ways to meet the challenges we face as a country.” (pg.40, TAoH) Ideological purity meaning logical consistency in this context; logical meaning non-contradictory.
  • “…maturity to balance idealism with realism.” (pg. 42, TAoH) In this context he attempts to divorce ideas with reality. This suggests there can be no logical consistency between ideas and reality.
  • “At times our values [of individualism and communal values] collide…” These “tensions arise not because we steered the wrong course, but SIMPLY because we live in a contradictory world. (emphasis mine)” (pg. 55-56, TAoH) This again highlights that ideas cannot be consistent with reality.
  • President Obama has this to say about President Lincoln’s hard choice in initiating the civil war: it “was a matter of maintaining within himself the balance between two contradictory ideas…” (pg. 98, TAoH) Again suggesting that contradictions are a part of life and reality.

No sane person explains that we “live in a contradictory world,” without paying lip service to a non-contradictory world.

  • “citizens are required to engage in a process of testing their ideas against an external reality.” (pg. 92, TAoH) What good would any test of reality be if the results were contradictory because of a contradictory world?
  • When receiving advice from potential Mentor within the senate, Barack Obama discovers that “Most of the advice [he] found useful; occasionally it was CONTRADICTORY (emphasis mine).” (pg. 73, TAoH) The implicit understanding is that contradictory information is false or useless. So it is clear that Barack Obama understand that the world is not always contradictory and contradictions mean that something is false.

His purpose in claiming that we live in a contradictory world seems to be only to describe that sometimes it’s contradictory and other times it’s not. This line of thinking is useful when one says contradictory statements and expects others to overlook it.

His beliefs in metaphysics lead to his beliefs in epistemology. If we always lived in a contradictory world, then we could at least be certain about being uncertain, but since the world is sometimes logically consistent, then one cannot even be certain about their uncertainty.

  • “I am robbed even of the certainty of uncertainty – for sometimes absolute truths may well be absolute.” (pg. 97, TAoH)
  • “…all of us are imperfect and can never act with the certainty that God is on our side; and yet at times we must act nonetheless, as if we are certain.” (pg. 98, TAoH)
  • He is very clear that he doesn’t know, “This isn’t to say that I know exactly how to [change our politics and civic life]. I don’t.” (pg. 9, TAoH) Let us take him at his word, and find somebody who does know.
  • “I offer no unifying theory of American government… Instead what I offer is… my own best assessment — based on my experience as a SKEPTIC … (emphasis mine)” (pg. 9, TAoH) Skeptics are historically doubtful of everything. Skepticism is the result of absolute uncertainty.
  • “… [the process of making law in America] suggests that both our individual and collective judgments are at once legitimate and highly fallible.” (pg. 93, TAoH) Is it that difficult to see that such reasoning is driven by uncertainty? Barak Obama continues:
    • “…the process of making law in America compels us to entertain the possibility that we are not always right and to sometimes change our minds;” (pg. 93, TAoH) by what standard should we change our minds? None is given or suggested — just doubt yourself.
    • “[the process of making law in America] challenges us to examine our motives and our interests constantly,” (pg. 93, TAoH) but it does not challenge us to examine the logic within our reasoning?

Because uncertainty is epidemic and reason is helpless to save us, he reaches out for other means to discover the truth. The means he chooses are feelings and instincts:

  • “I find myself returning again and again to my mother’s simple principle — ‘how would that make you FEEL?’ — as a guidepost for my politics… Like any value, EMPATHY must be acted upon. (emphasis mine)” (pg. 67-68 TAoH)
  • “…if I could reach those voters directly, frame the issues as I FELT them, explain the choices in AS TRUTHFUL a fashion as I knew how, then the people’s INSTINCTS for fair play and common sense would bring them around.” (pgs. 17, 18)
  • “the Constitution envisions a road map by which we marry PASSION to reason… (emphasis mine)” (pg. 95, TAoH) Reason is too noble to be influenced and compromise with passion — passion can follow reason, but reason can never follow passion or it ceases to be reason.
  • “[Bill Clinton] INSTINCTIVELY understood…(emphasis mine)” (pg. 34, TAoH)

If I believed such tripe, I would be uncertain about everything too, especially if I had no correct method of thought to guide me and I relied on feelings and instincts. Fortunately we do have a correct method: that method is reason as defined as the non-contradictory integration of information provided by our precepts into the whole of our knowledge and experience.

His beliefs in epistemology consistently ties into his beliefs in ethics. If I was uncertain about everything, then who am I to judge the morality of others and who are they to judge me? This is the foundational premise underlying moral relativism:

  • “…if… my notions of truth and goodness… are as true and good… as yours — then how can we ever hope to form a society that coheres?” (pg. 86-87, TAoH) This is what Thomas Hobbes describes as “the war of all against all,” for which Hobbes proposes a solution — “…men would form governments…” (pg. 87, TAoH) This state of war is the natural state of men, were it not for governments — so says Hobbes (and now Barack Obama).  This belief is the sanction for government’s involvement in all of man’s dealings.

His beliefs in ethics consistently lead to his conclusions in politics. Since men would naturally be at odds against one another, then the government must decide. It is fairly clear that Barack Obama wants government to do more and individuals to do less:

  • “…[Americans] wanted clean air, clean water… and… they wanted to be able to retire… children should be able to go to college even if their parents aren’t rich”, and “THEY FIGURED GOVERNMENT SHOULD HELP (emphasis mine).” “…I knew once again just why I’d gone into politics.” (pg. 7, TAoH)
  • “…government spending and regulation could serve as vital ingredients… to market growth, and… could help promote social justice.” (pg. 34, TAoH)
  • “…government has a role to play in promoting opportunity and prosperity for all Americans…” (pg. 40, TAoH)
  • “Sometimes only the law can fully vindicate our values…” (pg. 62, TAoH)
  • “…one of the things that makes me a democrat…” is “this idea that our communal values, our sense of mutual responsibility and social solidarity, should express themselves… through our government.” (pg. 63, TAoH)
  • “…I also believe that our government can play a role in shaping… culture for the better…” (pg. 63, TAoH)

I do not know for sure that this desire to expand government has a limit, but here’s an indicator:

  • “Economies collapse despite the best-laid plans.” (pg. 36, TAoH) That seems like a willingness to go past any limit imposed by reality or economics, because the argument suggests that fault lies with reality and not the “best-laid plans.”

No American politician talks about central planning without paying any lip service to the rights of man — knowing, if not consciously then subconsciously, that central planning requires the violation of rights.

  • Obama quotes part of the preamble of the Declaration of Independence (pg.53, TAoH), but stops short of the most essential part, with regard to the purpose men establish government in the first place: “…That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” (DoI)
  • Barack Obama claims that the idea of UNALIENABLE rights is the “substance of our common creed.” (pg.53, TAoH) Then he explains that “individual rights are almost entirely SUBJECT to the self-restraint of [government members], (emphasis mine)” (pg. 53, TAoH) thus contradicting our common creed. Rights are either unalienable or not.
  • He clearly doesn’t think much about securing rights as the legitimate purpose of government when he states, “The legitimacy of our government… depends on the degree to which [self-reliance, self-improvement, risk-taking, drive, discipline, temperance, hard work, thrift, and personal responsibility] are rewarded.” He uses this standard of legitimacy to smuggle in “equal opportunity” and social justice, which necessarily snuffs out rights. (pg. 54-55, TAoH) The security of rights and organized injustice — i.e., equal opportunity and social justice as Barak Obama defines them — cannot exist within the same government action.
  • He then goes on to explain that “…laws constraining liberty…” are legitimate so long as they, “…are uniform, predictable, and transparent…” (pg. 87, TAoH) The germ leading to this conclusion is egalitarianism. Equality of misery will be the only thing this accomplishes.

He succeeded in adhering to a philosophy that pays lip service to unalienable rights, and then proceeds to completely eliminate the idea with contradictions. This is very consistent with his metaphysical beliefs. He proceeds to justify his violation of rights with his understanding, or should I say misunderstanding, of the U.S. Constitution:

  • The statement, “…individual liberties… enshrined in our Constitution…” (pg. 86, TAoH), clearly indicates a misunderstanding of the purpose of our Constitution. Take a look at the wording within the Constitution yourself; the object under focus is the federal government. The Constitution was designed and built to form and limit the legal activities of the federal government — not its citizens. Do not confound identifying preexisting rights and limiting the government’s legal actions around them, which is clearly written within the Constitution, with establishing new rights for its citizens.
  • “I have to side with Justice Breyer’s view of the Constitution — that it is not a static but rather a living document, and must be read in context of an ever-changing world. How could it be otherwise?” (pg.90, TAoH) I’ll answer that. Like most contracts the terms of the agreement are between two or more parties — in this case the People, their States and the proposed Federal Government. These terms cannot change until the contract is changed. There is no living and breathing terms of agreement possible here. Do not confound the amendment process with what Barak Obama is advocating — the former is a process for the different involved parties to adjust the contract and the later is the evasion of identifying any terms within the contract.
  • Another error is Barack Obama’s failure to understand why “[the Constitution] provided no protection to those outside the constitutional circle.” (pg. 95, TAoH) The Constitution is a contract between the citizenry, the States and the Federal Government. How can any contract extend beyond its participants? My best guess is that Barack Obama doesn’t know that the Constitution is a contract or he doesn’t understand the use and limits of contracts.
  • He gives examples of the Constitutional text “lacking” context and uses that as an excuse to alter the terms within the Constitution: “The constitutional text provides us with general principle that we aren’t subject to unreasonable searches by the government. It can’t tell us the founder’s specific views on the reasonableness of an NSA computer data-mining operation.” (pg.90, TAoH) Yes, yes, the founders we so smart as to create the best form of government the world has ever seen, but they never gave us a standard for reasonableness. How little he must think of them and their work — i.e., the Constitution. I would alter the context of the Constitution too if I thought like he did about our founders’ ineptness. Well if you read the fourth amendment a little further, then you will see what is considered unreasonable: unreasonable is anything without “probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” (US Constitution) A few qualifiers for a reasonable search are probable cause, which means any evidence to suggest, along with at least one witness to observe the evidence, and a very narrow or specific location to search for the evidence that was seen. Nothing is lacking here.
  • Here is another Constitutional text “lacking” context provided by Barack Obama, “The constitutional text tells us that freedom of speech must be protect, but it doesn’t tell us what such freedom means in the CONTEXT of the Internet (emphasis mine)” (pg. 90, TAoH). Besides the blatant falsehood surrounding the idea that “the constitutional text tells us freedom of speech must be protected,” the context involving the medium of speech is irrelevant. The first amendment actually says, “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech.” (US Constitution) The first amendment clearly limits government action rather than calling it to action regarding speech. That being said, it is clear now that any speech being conducted on the Internet doesn’t change a thing with regard to government action — no action is granted or authorized.

I have no degree in constitutional law, and Barack Obama does — what kind of nonsense is being taught to the “experts” if I have to point out the obvious contradictions in their thinking?

I’ve highlighted the philosophy guiding Barack Obama’s thoughts and actions. I even pointed out some of its falsehood by identifying some of the philosophy’s contradictions. Now, I will briefly point out the rest of its errors and offer an alternative.

The errors in this category of Barack Obama’s philosophy go without saying. Contradictions do not exist and cannot exist. Nothing can be and not be at the same time in the same respect. The fact he thinks contradictions exist is simply his admitting to the world that there is an error in his thinking.

Contradictions may exist in wording, but not in reality or conceptually. For example I might say a leaf is all red and all green at the same time. The contradiction is obvious; the leaf is green and not green at the same time and red and not red at the same time. The respect in this case is the color. Though it may be said in written or verbal words, it cannot, however, be the case in reality or conceptually. Can you conceptually think of a leaf that is all red and all green at the same time? All honest people will answer no. You will never find one in reality either.

This law of non-contradiction holds true for any true principle. This is what binds ideas to reality.

Uncertainty arises out of an uncertain reality, but since reality is certain and non-contradictory then so can be your knowledge of reality. Additionally, an appeal to instinct and feelings are not a means to discover knowledge. Can you instinctually determine a coin flip? No? How about while using your feelings? Again, no. There is a certain means, however, of determining a coin flip: using your own eyes to determine for certain if it landed heads or tails. This is the simplest case, but no matter the complexities leading to truthful knowledge the essentials are the same: if an idea is true, then it must be consistent with reality and experience. All truthful ideas can be reduced back to simple observations because observations are our direct connection to reality.

If we live in a non-contradictory world, then we are free to discover it. Our means to discover truthful knowledge is reason, which is the non-contradictory integration of information, that we acquire through our senses, with the rest of our knowledge. Just as our senses cannot ever perceive a contradiction in reality because contradictions cannot exist, the integration of this information should not lead to a contradiction. So if we integrate that information correctly, then our knowledge is also non-contradictory.

We are volitional beings so we have the ability to choose between alternatives where a choice is possible. These choices range from beliefs to actions. This is where the possibility of errors arises. We can select what we believe is true or not. Errors can be made in what we consider true and errors can be made when we attempt to reason. Common experience demonstrates this to all honest inquirers. We have all made a mistake at one point in what we think is true, or at least the less honest among us will agree that we have observed others make that mistake.

Fortunately the process of obtaining knowledge through reason is self-correcting. Humans are fallible, and if we error, the error is in our integration for we accepted a contradiction somewhere in our thinking. The error can never be with reality or our senses because the process that makes our senses work (or don’t work) and reality itself functions independent of our volition; they cannot accept or produce a contradiction. Therefore, if you think you’re facing a contradiction, then check your previously integrated information — i.e., check your premises. One of your integrations will be wrong — i.e., it will be inconsistent with reality.

Our observation of reality and the application of reason force us to see that all living things under normal conditions act in their self-interest. Plants obtain water, nutrients, and sun light in the best proportions suitable for their life to the best of their ability. Unreasoning animals seek shelter, water and food in the best proportions suitable for their life to the best of their ability. As soon as their ability isn’t good enough they die. Once they die, then no actions are possible anymore. Man must discover, unlike plants and non-reasoning animals, what is in his self-interest, and his means of discovery is his rational mind. Just as he may make errors in thinking, so he may make errors in what is rationally good for him; however, the process is self-correcting for the same reason all false ideas and principle are self-correcting when using reason.

This idea, if true, blasts an irrecoverable hole in notion of moral relativism.  It suggests that an objective rational morality exists for man and can be discovered using reason.  This also eliminates the logical consequence of moral relativism: man’s natural state is war.  This notion suggests that there is no conflict of interest between rational men; they can live in harmony.

If, as Barak Obama suggests, men are incapable of being certain, moral relativism reigns and constraint is necessary, then I have a few questions (proposed by Frederic Bastiat) for those men who wish to apply for roles within the suggested authoritarian government:

  1. Has anyone identified a satisfactory form of constraint?
  2. Can that person convince the mass amount of people who give preference to other forms of restraint?
  3. Will all men be able to give into that form of constraint, which in theory runs against all individual interests?
  4. Assuming that men will allow this new restraint to rule them, what will happen if an inventor discovers a different and better form? Are we to remain consistent, knowing our situation to be more vicious than it has to be, or are we to change our organization every day according to the caprices of fashions and utility that inventors’ brains may dictate.
  5. Wouldn’t the rest of the inventors, whose plans were rejected, united together against the one that has been selected? Wouldn’t their success be to the degree that the selected plan ran counter to individual interests?
  6. Last of all, does any human force or capability exist that is able to overcome the antagonism between all men that we suppose is natural and the very source of human action?

Frederic Bastiat continues: “Imight multiply such questions ad infinitum, and propose, for example, this difficulty:

“If individual interest is opposed to general interest, where are we to place the active principle of Constraint? Where is the fulcrum of the lever to be placed? Beyond the limits of human society? It must be so if we are to escape the consequence of your law. If we are to entrust some men with arbitrary power, prove first of all that these men are formed of a different clay from the other mortals; that they in their turn will not be acted upon by the fatal principle of self-interest; and that, placed in a situation that excludes the idea of any curb, any effective opposition, their judgments will be exempt from error, their hands from rapacity, and their hearts from covetousness.

“The radical difference between various Socialist schools (I mean here, those which seek the solution of social problems in artificial organization) and the Economist school, does not consist in certain views of detail or of governmental combination. We encounter that difference at the starting point, in a preliminary and pressing question: Are human interests, when left to themselves, antagonistic or harmonious?” (Harmonies of Political-Economics: Book I)

If reality is non-contradictory, reason is possible to all men and a rational ethical framework exists, then, by the standard of life for rational men, men can live harmoniously amongst one another so long as they secure their right to act on their rational judgment.

Man is capable of functioning in isolation and survives quite well. It is rationally in his better interest to work with other men to achieve common values, which would not be possible otherwise; like building structures, achieving technology, or more generally put: division and economy of labor. Man can achieve more values that further his life by dividing up the work load and trading each other’s achievements.

Rights are the proper ethics for man brought into a social/political context. It is their ethical requirement of life, but while living with other men. Men act to secure rights because their life requires that their rights are secured. The means to secure rights is banding together in self-defense — i.e., instituting governments among men.

Rights are unalienable and will remain unalienable because man’s life will always require them in a social/political context. Initiation of force against other men works directly against their ability to act in their rational self-interest and prevents any ethical actions — it forces men to act or not to act against their reasoning and judgment. Securing rights prevents the initiation of force, thus allowing men to peacefully reason with one another to achieve common goals. This is the connection between ethics and politics. This is the natural harmony between rational men.

Men may make errors in thinking and act to violate another’s rights. If this were not the case, then self-defense would have never been conceived in the minds of men. The police exist to prevent violations to rights domestically and the courts bring those who succeed in violating rights to justice. The military exists to prevent the violation of rights from foreign forces.

To sum up our journey, a correct and consistent philosophy is needed to replace Obama’s so that America can avoid destruction. The one that seems most likely to succeed in saving America is as follows:

Metaphysics: Objective Reality: Contradictions do not exist.
Epistemology: Reason: our means to eliminate contradictions in our thinking.
Ethics: Rational Self-Interest: all livings things must act in their self-interest; man must rationally act in his.
Politics: Secure Rights: governments are instituted by men so that man is safe to act in his rational self-interest in harmony amongst other men.

  1. I think this is awesome. But a few things about AT. Top length is 1200 words, and maybe you can get permission for 1600. Don’t use bulletpoints very often. Work it into prose. Make sure you spell it “Barack” and not Barak (a variation). Try to find a way to take your philosophical points, each of them, and write a paragraph on each integrating your criticism of Barack’s worldview. Use a lead paragraph that signals to people what to expect. Keep your prose lose and only as technical as is absolutely necessary. Come around to a logical and gratifying conclusion (not a problem for you). I wholeheartedly think you should submit to AT. Give it a few times if you don’t make it in right away. Right to the publication editor Drew Belsky. Find his email on the AT site. (Don’t want to just give it out here.) Take care and good luck! Kyle

  2. […] Barack Obama: And The Philosophy That’s Destroying America […]

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