Archive for September, 2012

Fortunately, and yet unfortunately, one man and the philosophy he follows cannot destroy America alone; it is a metaphysical impossibility. This is unfortunate because the body politic of a society, on the other hand, is capable of destroying (or saving) America depending on the general philosophical principles that they hold and act upon. America’s fate is how important this topic and discussion truly is. Americans have a philosophical choice to make and America rests in the balance. Her fate will depend upon the aggregate choices every American makes — making no choice is one option, but that choice will not prevent any undesired or desired consequences. It will simply defer the conscious selection of America’s outcome to those willing and able to make this imperative decision.

To start this discussion, I will outline and describe the four philosophical categories — Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics, and Politics — that Barack Obama held during his 2008 Presidential campaign, which the body politic supported at that time as they voted him into office. I will then proceed to highlight the contradiction and provide a non-contradictory alternative. I am hoping that this distinction will aid your decision as to which philosophy to follow; for, man has no choice in possessing a philosophy. Man’s only choice regarding his philosophy is whether his philosophy is consciously weighed and rationally selected, or whether it’s a hodge-podge of random assimilations that his experience happens to expose him to.

Obama begins his belief in metaphysics with a reality that is non-objective. For example, he is quoted as saying, “…[W]e live in a… contradictory world.”[1] This seems simple enough, but Obama further complicates his belief when he says, “Citizens are required to engage in a process of testing their ideas against an external reality (emphasis mine).”[2] If reality is non-objective, then a logical person might ask, “What’s the point of testing ideas against reality”? Obama’s 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 is convenient when one says contradictory statements and expects others to overlook it.

Obama’s beliefs in metaphysics direct 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. Obama says it best himself when he says, “I am robbed even of the certainty of uncertainty — for sometimes absolute truths may well be absolute.”[3] Because Obama believes certainty is not possible, reason must be impotent; therefore, he must reach out for other means to discover truth. It is clear that Obama selects feelings and instincts for discovering truth when he says, “…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 (Emphasis is mine).”[4]

Obama’s beliefs in epistemology logically ties into his beliefs in ethics. If everyone were uncertain about everything, then how could anyone judge the morality of anybody else or how could anybody judge them? This is the foundational premise for moral relativism, especially when Obama says, “…[I]f… 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?”[5] This “non-cohering society” is what Thomas Hobbes refers to as the war of all against all.

Obama’s belief in man’s natural state of war of all against all necessarily leads to his conclusions in politics — government intervention and constraint. Since men would naturally be at odds against one another given moral relativism, then the government must exist to settle this natural antagonism between men. Obama stated clearly several times that he wants government to do more and individuals to do less, to the point that it must be common knowledge by now. I am not sure to what extent his desire to grow government goes, but here’s an indicator: “Economies collapse despite the best-laid plans.”[6] That seems like a willingness to go beyond any limit imposed by reality or economics, because this argument suggests that the fault lies with reality and not the “best-laid plans.”

Obama’s contradiction arises from the very root of his beliefs, which undercuts and voids the rest of the philosophical framework that he follows. Contradictions do not and cannot exist. Nothing can be and not be at the same time in the same respect. The fact Obama thinks contradictions exist is simply his admission to the world that there are errors in his thinking. Contradictions may exist in wording, but not in reality nor conceptually. You will never find one in reality or conceptually and this law of non- contradiction holds true for all true principles. This is what binds ideas 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 new information that we acquire through our senses with the rest of our knowledge. Just as our senses can never 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.

Man is not infallible, however, for he is a volitional being. Choice is where the possibility of errors arises. Man is capable of selecting what he believes to be true or not and he can choose the method and standard he uses in determining what is true or not. Errors, therefore, can be made in what man considers true because errors can be made in the method he uses for determining truth. Common experience demonstrates this to all honest inquirers. Fortunately the process of obtaining knowledge through reason is self-correcting if an error is indeed made. The method of correcting errors is to identify and then resolve any contradictions in your thinking.

All knowledge is rooted in observation; therefore, one’s knowledge in ethics, if it is to be rationally validated must be rooted in observation. Our observation of reality and the application of reason force us to see that all living entities under normal conditions act in their self-interest. Plants obtain water, nutrients, and sun 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 sufficient they die. Once dead no action is possible to them any longer; their body remains, but their life goes out of existence. 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 man may make errors in thinking, so he may make errors in what is rationally in his best interest; however, the process is self-correcting for the same reason all false ideas and principle are self- correcting when using reason.

If reality is non-contradictory, if truth is possible to man via reason, and if a rational ethical framework exists, then by life’s standard men can live harmoniously amongst one another so long as they secure their right to act on their rational judgment.

Rights are the proper ethics for man brought into a social/political context. It is their individual requirement of life, but translated into conditions that involve other men. Men act to secure rights because their wellbeing requires that their rights be secured. The means to secure rights is banding together in self-defense — i.e., instituting a government amongst men.

Rights are unalienable and will remain unalienable because man’s interests will always require that they are un-obstructed in a social/political context. The initiation of force against other men works directly against their ability to act in their rational self-interest and it forces them to act or not to act regardless of what their judgment may conclude. Securing rights prevents the initiation of force, thus allowing men to peacefully reason with one another to achieve common goals. 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 neutralize violators of rights domestically, the courts exist bring those who succeed in violating rights to justice, and the military exists to neutralize the violators of their citizen’s rights that reign from foreign forces.

It is important to note at this point, when comparing the two alternatives, that neither set of ideas are original; some of them can be dated as far back as Plato. These philosophical frameworks, however, when assimilated by a society guides that society in a noticeable direction for better or for worse. For example, the classical Greek civilization was driven by Aristotle’s metaphysics (objective reality) and epistemology (reason), which lead to enlightenment and grand achievements in math, science, and art. During the dark ages in Europe, however, Plato’s metaphysics (man’s mind is disconnected from actual reality so who knows what reality truly is) and epistemology (uncertainty or revelation) ruled that society’s beliefs, which lead towards darkness and deterioration. In the 1400s Thomas Aquinas reintroduced Aristotle’s epistemology into European society; it resulted in the renaissance, which I like to think of as the rebirth of reason, and all the natural consequences that go with such a belief — enlightenment and achievement. Our society at present is at this critical juncture again: it’s either going to be Aristotle, the enlightenment and achievement, or Plato, darkness and deterioration.

This brings us back to the main point — America’s fate and the choice you hold. The choice before you, my fellow Americans, lies in this: will you learn from history and move towards enlightenment and achievement or are you willing to surrender the fate of America to those who think that “economies collapse despite the best-laid plans”?
More Obama quotes that supports conclusions reached in this paper regarding the pilosphy he follows can be found here.

[1] The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama, ©October 17, 2006, pg. 56
[2] The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama, ©October 17, 2006, pg. 92
[3] The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama, ©October 17, 2006, pg. 97
[4] The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama, ©October 17, 2006, pgs. 17 and 18
[5] The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama, ©October 17, 2006, pgs. 86-87
[6] The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama, ©October 17, 2006, pg. 36