There is a crisis in philosophy!
This has been the cry since Socrates was buried by Plato’s Republic. It is echoed by Ayn Rand’s acolyte Leonard Peikoff in “The Ominous Parallels” wherein the rise of National Socialism (Nazism) is undertaken and then given as a warning to America, in 1982, portending a new socialism and dictatorship in the overthrowing of the republic.
Despite some limited binary options given, there is something to heed. Objectivism or subjectivism, as though they are separate and mutually exclusive is a philosophy filled will paucity of cogitation. (See my previous publication of Binary Minds:Insect Politics)
The problem, he says, is Aristotelianism against or in contrast to Kantianism. Reason verses Feelings. Both are operative in every human and is the great discovery of self in a world outside but part of self. We both engulf and are engulfed by both.
So, since Socrates was defamed, I will ask in his stead : What do you mean by Reason (Objectivism)? What do you mean by Feelings (Subjectivism)? What is “good” and what is “bad”?
It is reported in history that the Academy had an inscription “Know Thyself” but rarely reported that it followed up with “Master Thyself”.
How does one know themselves without self-examination or master themselves without judging, through ratiocinations over what is found in ones self, and exercising self-discipline? I advert they don’t and that is why freedom also has duty.
Dignum et justum. Dignity and Justice. Conscience and Actions. We are responsible for what we think and do whether we think or do anything.
Daniel Berrigan would likely call the lack of action as the “Crimes of Silence”. In our modern corporate politics this becomes the need of addressing the politicians who feel that the ethics of amorality are basic and allow for negotiating with lies, stealing and cheating to gain their objectives. They wear down opponents through lobbyists. The passage of time and generations with the only goal to be re-elected or elected to higher offices.
The most successful lobbyists are the cacophony of violent street mobs backed by multiversity military contracts for the redistribution of labor and wealth. The greed of the elite comes full circle with the abandonment of any philosophy counter to greed so that insider trading, public research dedicated to private profit and the autocratic force of government for the unethical becomes acceptable as the young sell ideals for sinecures and comforts.
What is unethical? Is this merely a holdover from catholicism’s reign of centuries of Pope’s declaring ex cathedra the will of God? Or is it merely the product of the servile fear of losing ones property, position or life? Is it inevitable?
I postulate it is the conundrum of being stuck in either/or, yes or no barriers to seeing that, more than a middle ground, only a limited understanding of oneself (and the fear to go deeper or suppression of self examination) that rejects reason and flails about in irrationalism and oceans of contrary emotions.
This leads to a shutdown of freedom and reason that results in bowing to tyranny as the only answer for a social compact that is not so messy as a true democratic republic actually requires to remain dynamic and of, by and for the people.
Mere cognitive dissonance without the courage to keep going to find solutions that are compassionate as well workable without despotism is abandonment of both humanity and reason.
The founders of America knew this, the current age seems to have forgotten and with this passage over the Lethe of forgetfulness we sink into oligarchy.
“A Republic, if you can keep it”, admonished Benjamin Franklin in full awareness of the compromises that were already the seed of civil unrest with regard to at least slavery.
Have you read John F. Kennedy’s “Profiles in Courage”? You might be surprised at who he mentions. Sam Houston who was very popular until he stood for conscious equality under the Constitution and lost his seat and political life. Taft was another. Each story was not about the loss incurred but the courage to stand for what was right against popular sentiment to the contrary. Just like today.
A political philosopher, philosopher pundit, must stand courageously pointing to a future that includes self- sacrifice and some selfishness.
Selfishness? Yes, for we cannot go without air for more than 10 minutes or so, without water for 3 days or so and without food for 40 days or so. Selfishness or survival, you decide. This, I think, is the only way to interpret “enlightened self-interest touted by Ayn and her follows in “objectivism”.
Remember also the elder who gives their sustenance to a young mother and her babe. The starving inmate of a concentration camp who gives that another may live. Survival is only adequate rationale to a point. It is not a slogan.
We must confront metaphysics personally, we must confront epistemology rationally in order to understand ethics. Politics may for some, the philosopher politician to be sure, be their definition of ethics, but these ethics must be judged against the affect and effects on justice.
Perhaps, this is only the ethics of a lawyer who wishes to serve the social healing of unbridled freedom without regard for consequences, to bind the wounds given by greed and forsee the future of what we do and how it will determine the fate of seven generations after us.
I call this attempting to do and be good. That is why I am running for public office (US Senate) not for prestige, emoluments or power of money or military. Simply to craft a philosophy for future generations through reasoned acts to bring about the true union we have and the hopes of all the founders of this remarkable United States of America.
Don’t blow it, dear contemporaries in simply being right or wrong for all time and demanding perfection now. Come, let us reason together.