The History of Thought, a Philosophy of the Social Sciences, and the Metaphysics of Memory
The purpose of life, of philosophy. Men have pondered this forever. Since writing and civilization began. The oral traditions tell us stories. But only philosophers and prophets attempt to solve the purpose of life, rather than distribute advice in the living of it, as a prescription.
But the purpose is nefarious at heart. They are trying to find a way to steal. That’s right. They are, almost all, all but a few, are trying to find a way to steal from others in order to make their lives easier.
One of the most important ideas that men study in philosophy is to ask what men must strive for. They have come up with many reasons. In the industrial era it’s “efficiency.” In the modern political world it’s “equality.” In much of western thought, it’s been happiness, or pleasure, which are attributes of the individual WITHIN a society that already exists.
But few consider what attributes build a society in the first place, what make possible such individual ambitions as happiness and pleasure. What makes possible such merchant class ambitions as “efficiency” and political ambitions as “equality.”
But the first cause, the ambition that makes society possible, that creates order isn’t efficiency, or equality, or happiness or pleasure – It’s pride. That’s right. Pride.
Pride is a description of the excellence of man in relation to other men. Pride is not a sin. It is the ultimate objective. To ACT better than other men. To know by the result of your actions that you are better than other men. To be the best man you can be. Happiness, or pleasure, are questions about one’s self. They ask you to develop a mastery how to get others to serve you. Pride is how to demonstrate that you can serve others. It is a social happiness that measures one’s success, and produces excellence.
Socially, pride isn’t Christian submissive virtue, comfort, or acceptance: It’s excellence. Excellence that is testable by your actions in relation to others. This is what competition tells us.
The Buddha, the author of the Upanishads, Zoroaster, they were all wrong. They tried to avoid conflict. They ran from competition. They failed to solve the problem of cooperation in ACTION, by creating cooperation in INACTION. They did not try to create a complex division of labor, they tried to make all men equal, the same, as though slaves, and they created fictitious gods, to whom men were slaves, in order to create the illusion of equality. They feared inequality. They feared competition. Partly because their lack of reason, which exists to resolve conflicts, gave them little choice. Reason is a technology developed for warriors, by warriors, who must cooperate in battle, despite differences in rank, and differences in equipment, role, and ability. Each man must do his part. But he must be enfranchised if he is to risk his life. To be enfranchised means he has the noble man’s right of opinion, of “say.” Reason was developed to resolve this need to cooperate, enfranchise, and resolve differences. All reason and science descends from this idea. The monotheistic religions took from this to improve their ability to persuade, but they retained their slavery and equality, fearing otherwise. Only the Europeans maintained that inequality was a strength, rather than a weakness, and only Europeans developed technology, reason, and science to make the polis possible.
The purpose of philosophy isn’t to have one philosophy. It isn’t to have us be equal. Equality is simply ignorance and fear. It makes the lie. A lie that dooms us to ignorance and poverty. A lie that makes us slaves.
The purpose of noble philosophy is politics. It is social order. It is the building of the society.
Philosophy isn’t how to be a happy peasant, a happy father, a happy merchant, it is that each needs a philosophy within political philosophy.
A philosophy must start with the assumption of cooperation. That’s why philosophy exists, and where it came from. It asks the question: how do we get along in dense populations in the post-hunter-gatherer means of organizing: the polis. Because the premise the absence of philosophy rests upon is, “Why don’t I kill you and take your stuff?” Philosophy is a tool of cooperation, or else it would not be sought or taught. Hunter-gatherers need only strategies, tactics, tools, strength, and a small number of allies with whom they can perform simple hunting and fighting. Tyrants and slave masters only need men to obey them, not think. Philosophy is a product of the polis. It is a product of cooperating with those people one does not know. Of motivating and instructing those members of the polis in the mechanics of cooperating in large numbers with those people that you do not know, for shared gain.
And that shared gain is the assumption we must make if we say we are to have a philosophy. For without that assumption, we cannot () If we understand that the purpose of a philosophy is to transfer to the individual the skills of cooperation, ….. (then the only non-contradictory objective of that philosophy is to socialize wins. Because if not, then the individuals in practice would choose not to embrace it.
THE EPISTEMOLOGY OF PRIVATIZING WINS
(that is what submissive religions and philosophies try to do is privatize non-conflict wins, and to do as little as possible
(These strategies look at time differently: privatizing inaction is current reward at long-term expense. Privatizing action is current cost in anticipation of future reward.)
One can forgo opportunities to steal. One can forgo opportunities to pay for the cost of building civilization: calculation. This is theft as well. The cost of civilization is cooperation toward discovery of that we do not know, because in a division of knowledge and labor, we cannot know it.
We pay for civilization by direct physical action (contribution toward a goal like taxes or pyramids), indirect related action (like tie-breakers when purchasing goods), by forgone opportunities (forgoing opportunities for theft and its assistant, deception), by calculation (deliberation and argument), and by risk-taking (competition). These are all post-hunter-gatherer costs to the individual that contribute to the social order: which is the philosophy of balancing the privatization of wins or costs, and the socialization of wins or losses, for individual as well as social gain.
Different philosophies do a better or worse job of this. Western capitalism seems to do it best, simply because its institutions favor KNOWING something different from what we knew before we competed or cooperated. This system does not require a process, demon, or entity to actually know anything, or to rely on good judgment of some set of people. It simply allows us to calculate and cooperate using a set of technologies and tools.
THE WIN-WIN CALCULATION, AND PRIVATIZING OR SOCIALIZING WINS AND LOSSES
(how the win-win epistemology and the win-lose, or win-who-cares epistemology is calculative and how it privatizes or socializes wins and losses)
The purpose of philosophy is not how to be equal. It is how to be different. It’s a set of philosophies. This set of philosophies must help people reason, think, and cooperate toward a more prosperous future. The attributes include: hierarchical polytheism, anthropomorphism of human virtues, personal excellence, conflict and competition as discovery using the technologies and institutions of cooperation: reason and calculation, and the institutions of cooperation: numbers, money, accounting, insurance, trade, truth, contract, courts. And against that set of ideas, we battle the desire to socialize losses and privatize gains: equality, non-conflict, and a stabilizing resistance to change. The only equality that is needed is that we must desire that all of us have the freedom to calculate and then create a prosperous society, the knowledge, discipline and ambition to do so. And to ostracize (which is to economically punish) those who don’t. This is equality of opportunity for those who will try to publicize wins by privatizing wins. Submission, or, the idea of non-conflict stateful cooperation, is simply privatizing wins by choosing not to act, and publicizing losses because of inaction, a lack of discovery.
The purpose of political philosophy is not be a religion that ensnares peasants or justifies merchants. It is to create social order for the maximum benefit of all in the polis. In the city.
The purpose of political philosophy is pride. it is to create a noble man.
Not a man.
But a proud nobleman
A man virtuous enough to rule,
A man excellent enough to be a citizen:
A parent of the polis. Worthy of that responsibility, and able in his wisdom, experience, and actions to act as a parent of the polis.
Because we cannot have an advanced society with a division of labor without such ambitions.
The problem for the ancients in all civilization was to find a frame of thought that would help develop the ideal man who was a citizen of the city – where we surpassed the limits of our memories – where we existed together in a way that required leadership of an extremely large tribe. Where we had to learn to cooperate. Where the cooperation of the polis could be maintained.
A parent of one’s self. A parent of one’s family. A parent of one’s tribe. A parent of the polis. These are the different strategies that cultures tried. Aristotle solved it. The Greeks solved it. Nobility. Nobility in the service of others. More egalitarian than the Chinese. Less egalitarian than the magical cultures in Africa and the middle east.
Aristotle succeeded where Confucius and Lao Tzu failed,
Where Zoroaster and Buddha failed,
Where Abraham, Jesus, and Mohammed failed,
Where Augustine and Spinoza failed,
Where Hume and Kant failed,
Where Smith, Marx, and the Economists failed.
Only Nietzsche succeeded. Only Nietzsche improved on Arisototle. And we failed Nietzsche, too.
And if Aristotle, aside from being the most influential man in history, has not been more successful in creating the polis, it’s because we failed him.
He didn’t fail us. We failed him. We failed him because we thought that Athens (philosophy and trade and the middle class) could exist without SSparta (property, nobility, and violence). That reason, belief, and agreement are sufficient to form a social order. Rather than that the polis rests upon violence, because human civilization rests upon the restraint of violence. And when the strong rely upon belief, they become the weak.
A social order requires that each man pay into the cost of the civilization with forgone opportunities. No matter what class he is, he passes on opportunities by restraining himself from deception and violence. But a man who no longer holds his ability to commit violence no longer pays for his civilization. A man who no longer restrains his ability to deceive no longer pays for his civilization. A man who no longer holds to his promise, his contract, no longer pays for his civilization. A man who breeds beyond his ability to support his family, or who fails to produce more from his labors than he consumes, or steals or sells drugs, fails to pay for his civilization. Who immigrates, or who imports others, fails to pay for his civilization.
These are the means by which people steal from each other: by failing to forgo the opportunities that are precisely those that make the polis, the civilization, and social order possible: the cost of cooperation. Absent those payments, the civilizations fails.
The term nobility derives from warrior. Nobility is not born of wisdom and trade. That is a noble merchant class. Nobility is born of order: of wisdom and violence. Nobility is the order-creating class – the class that masters then restrains violence. The middle class serves the peasantry, by reducing their prices. The peasant class is serves the middle class who competes for the fruits of their manual or hard-won labors, and profits from correctly guessing how to serve them. The noble class profits from the merchant class by extracting fees for protection and the maintenance of order, usually called taxes. The problem class is the public intellectual who plays each class against each other in exchange for entertainment and justification. He is a seller of drugs and fantasies, and is no different. Each class, rather than cooperate in this manner, each according to his abilities, wishes to rule, and to rule without payment into the system if at all possible. The nobleman seeks to avoid risking his life. The merchant seeks to avoid risking his wealth. The craftsman, laborer, consumer wishes to avoid labors. These are normal human ambitions, and the purpose of parents in the polis, as well as nobles in the polis, acting as its parent, is to encourage the formation of habits that overcome each person’s desire for ease, rather than payment into the cost of the social order: the social order that makes his ease possible, and that ease is possible because of order, of habits, and because of the reduction in prices that such order and habits creates.
Monetary payments, then taxation, to a government start in order to fund the cost of order. However, they soon become self-justifying as the government usurps power, by law, by trade, by corruption, by violence. Men must be told that they can expect order from the noble classes only if they do not surpass their role’s mandates: order in the respect for property, and that is all of it. Nothing more. Social services are the responsibility of the peasant classes. Trade regulation is the responsibility of the merchant classes. Each understanding that he must have the help of the other classes in order to live the life he chooses.
In modern urban environments, some people see this obligation and others do not. Some that see it seek to minimize their contribution, which has some merit. They simply demand that all others in the polis adhere to the same constraints and manners. That bridging those manners is theft from them. And they are right. Some in the polis see this obligation as a simple common good, to be shared like a bountiful meal. But this is foolish as it simply systematizes a destruction of order and justifies tolerance, which is theft from the wishing well of the social order. Intolerance is the protection of the payments made into the wishing well.
Some of these differences are differences in the concept of parentage. The more conservative mandates immediate learning, and discipline, insured by threats of ostracization, fines, or punishment. The more feminine movement mandates acceptance and encouragement of individuals to become adapted to the environment. The difference between these two methods is a perception of who can be “known.” A person can show compassion to those that he knows, and can tell that they are not simply stealing from the well. A person who does NOT know the individual and cannot judge the situation is simply SAFER in assuming the man is a thief from the wishing well of social order.
Most people suggest that one method or another is superior depending upon the method they were subject to. Some of this is class-based. Military classes are more paternal, masculine and intolerant emphasizing discipline, and lower classes tend to be more maternal and feminine and tolerant emphasizing affection as the means of coercion. Both methods work.
However the answer for a polis, is different from a family, despite the fact that the polis is a large extended family: it is that you treat an individual with maternal tolerance if you know him, and paternal intolerance if you do not. And that to insure that every individual entering the polis as a member, has a familial owner that teaches him maternally, while society teaches him paternally. This creates both the carrot and the stick.
To make this possible, any immigrant into the community must have a sponsor who is capable of being responsible for his citizenship until he passes his citizenship requirements.
So, the purpose of noble class is violence and wisdom. The purpose of the merchant class is truthfulness, capital allocation, and information distribution to satisfy the needs of the many. The purpose of the peasant class is production and honor.
These classes need not be fixed groups without movement between them, and should not be. The purpose of a social order is cooperation, and cooperation to best serve each to the best of his ability to pay for the order from which he benefits. By providing access to education to all, we make possible class migration, so that the best men who are both wise and violent sit in the noble class, the best merchants and bankers in the middle, and the best craftsmen and laborers in the working class.
The noble classes require education in soldiery, history, economics, politics, philosophy and the arts. The merchant classes in history, economics, money and banking, science, and technology. The working classes in history, money and the trades.
History is the best mythology. And it is a mythology, open to constant reinterpretation, in an effort to provide us insight into our current problems. But it is the best unifying mythology. The problem for most cultures is that their mythology is both bad and deeply ingrained.
So the weak, the mundane, the adequate, the immoral rule too often. They rule because we let them. They rule because we do not pay the fee for our social position.
In most modern history, the nobility must form an alliance with the peasantry, and they sacrifice that peasantry in battle, and it is this alliance that creates the lie of common good. Instead, the Spartans were right: the peasantry if militarized will destroy the civilization. The peasantry if democratized will destroy the civilization. The merchant class if it becomes nobility, will destroy social order for profit. The nobility if they join the merchant class, will destroy civilization by abandoning the need for order.
A small percentage of men, if exceptional in battle, and mastery of violence, can defeat almost any other army, and they can afford to be equipped with the best technology, A large force must be equipped with cheap technology. A small, well equipped force capable of extraordinary violence is both faster and more effective. The Spartans were right. They learned, but they learned quickly and dangerously because of an uprising of their peasantry. This same uprising occurs in democracies and republics, but it happens slowly over a long period of time. But the result is the same: chaos, death, destruction, and the suicide of the civilization.
We have spent too much time confusing wealth, wisdom, and the belief in pacifism. And too little time on violence, order, wisdom and the costs of a society. These abstract goods, supposed social goods, when considered as other than costs, are religious concepts, spiritual, magical concepts rather than practical and implementable concepts. And we have committed this error in order to make our lives easier. So that we do not have to be confronted with paying these costs. The nobleman to avoid the cost of violence, the risk of life, and the obtainment of leisure, the merchant to avoid the risk of competition and risk of loss and ruin, the working peasantry to avoid his labors and necessity for saving. These are the costs we each have tried to avoid. They are the reasons we have built many complex, foolish, and mystical philosophies and religions. In order to avoid the cost to each of us in maintaining the polis: the entire reason we cooperate. We are all trying to cheat each other. Philosophers, noblemen, public intellectuals, merchants and bankers, and the craftsmen and laborers. Because cheating is easier than competing. But competing is the only way we can test ourselves and our ideas. It is the only way to produce excellence. It is the only way to evolve our societies, our civilizations, ourselves.
Too much education encourages a man to be cunning (a cheater), rather than moral (an achiever). Fear the cunning man. Ostracize him so that he may learn the price he must pay for his cheating. If a man teaches cunning, no matter how artful, he is a drug dealer, a thief, a deceiver. Kill him without mercy. Without remorse. Without contemplation. No man has a right of teaching, of speech, of publication in any form. A man does not need anyone to approve of his ideas. But we can punish him for them. We must not censor, we must punish.
So, the history of thought is mostly built around the lies needed to justify the abandonment of the opportunity costs, the forgone opportunities, so that one may reap extraordinary profit from double-reaping of profits by the mixing of duties and classes. Holding to the benefits of a class without making payments for its expenses.
THE ONLY PHILOSOPHERS THAT MATTER:
And it is that simple. The history of thought in just a few men. All the others trying fitfully to create an explanation that would tolerate their errors. The few that have avoided the error of justification are:
They solved the politics. Because they solved the nature of man.
And the man who assembles the ideas from marginalism, subjectivity, equilibrium, Mises’ calculation, Rothbard’s property, Hoppe’s monarchy will solve the interactions between men.
This will leave only one area of exploration left: induction, which is what man is capable of knowing. Assembling the thoughts of Popper and Hayek. And this will be solved by an understanding of memory, which will forever change, and happily dismiss, most of the history of thought as irrelevant. The metaphysics of memory.
And we will have a theory of the social sciences, that describes everything from one man to all men.
Memory. It’s all memory. Not “mind,” which is spiritual and Platonic, but memory which is both empirical and technical. It’s that simple.
The same is true for cooperation: it’s all calculation. It’s that simple.
Two and a half millennia because we didn’t figure these two things out, or, we figured out science early.
This has been a fascinating but frustrating and exasperating journey for me. All because the Chinese were the only ones not to make the damned Platonic error. How many lives wasted on that silly metaphysics of existence?