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Chapter 4.  Philosophical Assumptions or Articles of Faith

Table of Contents


Existence in General and the Universe in Particular

1.  We assume the existence of the real world.

2.  As a compromise, we agree not to decide upon the existence of events that cannot be replicated under any circumstances whatever by impartial observers.  People might believe that these events occurred and they might be referred to as supernatural.  It is not necessary to argue about that.  Instead, we will disallow the introduction of such events as evidence for or against social policies.

The Human Condition

3.  We assume that we ourselves exist as do the events in our own minds.

4.  We suppose that events occur in other people’s minds just as they do in our own minds.

5.  We assume that the ability to reason can be developed in the normal undiminished human being.

The Child’s Age of Reason

On Education

My Personal Viewpoint

Character Education, Anti-Drug Propaganda, and Religion

Character Education





The Scapegoating of Drugs and Mass Hysteria


John Gatto’s Seven-Lesson School Teacher


6.  Man is naturally capable of independent thought and action, unless something has been done to him, some sort of conditioning, that weakens his (or her) natural self-confidence.

Independent Thought

Independent Action

7.  The doctrine of Original Sin is assumed to be a hoax.

8.  Human beings are good but corruptible.

9.  People are assumed to be good enough to satisfy the conditions of this theory without further evolution.

How Good Are We?


Desire for Approval

The World W′ According to Deci and Ryan


Innocence and Corruptibility

Evidence of Man’s Goodness

Human Perfectibility and Creative Evolution

Needs and Desires

How Good Do We Need To Be?

Some Fundamental Economic Premises

The Importance of Goodness

Satisfying Premise B without Being Good Enough

What Is and What Is Not Required To Satisfy Premise C?

10.  Living in harmony with Nature has an ameliorating effect upon one’s integrity and personal honesty and tends to make falsity painful and sickening.

11.  Everywhere I look the intrinsic harmony of Nature is apparent.

12.  We assume Socrates, or his modern surrogates, can spread truth from person to person on a one-to-one basis.

On Knowledge

13.  The laws of physics are reasonably invariant for all practical purposes.

14.    Faith in reasoning:  The fundamental laws of reasoning (logic) as expressed by set theory, sentential calculus, symbolic logic, etc. are reliable.

15.     Macrofacts are reliable; microfacts are unreliable.

16.  We assume that we may enlarge our knowledge of the world by the evidence of the senses (perhaps enhanced by scientific instruments) and logic.

How We Obtain Knowledge

The Role of Knowledge in Education

A Minimal Proper Religion

17.  To avoid infinite regression, we assume that aesthetics, reasonableness (or reason), and utility are a valid guide for making philosophical judgments.  We recognize that judgments that satisfy these tests may not be infallible.

18.  Never to be conceived creatures have no philosophical status or rights.  All other creatures are non-comparable.

19.  Newcomers to this world have a right to expect to find a rational society governed by rational morals.

20.  Human beings belong to themselves.  No one can assign an extrinsic purpose to another individual.

21.  We agree that our laws, if we have any, should be congruent with rational morals.  If we do not have laws, our behavior should be governed by rational morals with which we have been indoctrinated as small (pre-reason) children.

22.  We accept the three moral axioms including the definition of “imposing upon the freedom of another human social link”.

23.  We assume our three moral axioms can be used in a reasonable fashion to define rights and, in turn, justice.

24.  We assume that all rational morals can be derived from our three moral axioms without grey areas arising.  Such morals will be consistent and withstand the tests of aesthetics, reasonableness, and utility.

25.  We reject arbitrary, personal, or taboo morality as a basis for public policy.

26.  Unverified events whether taking place exclusively in the Universe, our Minds, in the realm of the Ideals, or in the Relations or not are excluded from the discussion of public policy – just as they would be discarded as evidence in a legal hearing.

Social Change

27.  “We shall assume that a social system that retains residual institutionalized injustice is unacceptable as a basis for permanence.”

28.  I assume that at least one hypothetical feasible path of constant improvement connects this society with a cooperative (ideal) society.

Human Society in Historical Times

Problems and Solutions

One Step at a Time

When the End Does Not Justify the Means

A Generic Evolutionary World-Bettering Plan

The World W*

The World W″

1.  The Characteristics of W

2.  A Stable (Human) Population

3.  Adequate High-Grade Renewable (Sustainable) Energy

4.  Sufficiency of One Kilowatt Per Capita Emergy Budget




The arguments presented in this book are based on fundamental assumptions and facts.  In this chapter, I will attempt to state as many of the assumptions as I can think of; but, it is in the nature of the human condition that we are unaware of many things that we believe in implicitly.  It behooves us to search constantly for these “hidden” assumptions and examine them critically.  This collection of essays itself is an attack on unexamined assumptions.  It is entirely possible that, upon close reading of my own manuscripts, I might discover additional assumptions that should have been listed.  Over the last several years, since I wrote the initial draft of this chapter, I have added several assumptions that had been overlooked initially.

As stated previously, I shall try to rely only on facts agreed upon by nearly everyone and concerning which there can be little doubt.  We agreed to call these macrofacts.  In addition, we make use of a small amount of statistical data, such as U.S. high-grade energy consumption, which are known only approximately.  We will attempt to use generous upper and lower bounds in our calculations so that, even if the data are off considerably, the conclusions will be acceptable.

Ideally, I would like to produce a work that stands or falls on the truth or falsehood, consistency or inconsistency, completeness or incompleteness of the basic assumptions.  If I make a mistake in reasoning or rely upon an erroneous fact, that will not be the case.  But, in the ideal case where I use only macrofacts, if no flaw in the reasoning can be found, the skeptic will be left with only the fundamental assumptions to criticize.  It will not be possible to accept the fundamental assumptions, the data, and the reasoning and reject the conclusions without violating the general principles of logic, which are assumed to be correct.  One, then, could evaluate the fundamental assumptions on the basis of reasonableness, aesthetics, and utility and decide upon the validity of the case presented.

Unfortunately, not all of the assumptions upon which this case rests will be listed.  Many of them are hidden deep inside the author’s psyche.  At least he is not aware of them.  The reader is responsible to watch closely for hidden assumptions that may or may not destroy the validity of some or all of the arguments.  Also, in issues involving human beings, it is impossible to achieve the logical rigor that one can achieve, for example, in the theory of finite groups, a branch of abstract mathematics.  Not only are we not able to state with definiteness what we are talking about because we, as human beings, are not completely defined philosophically, but we are in the difficult position of being a part of the subject under observation.  Clearly, the very act of observing ourselves changes what it is that we are observing.  Nevertheless, these difficulties should not discourage us from applying rigorous logic to the subject at hand as far as we are able.

One often appeals to the intuition to guide the intellect.  This is proper and from time to time saves us from making serious mistakes due to erroneous reasoning.  Suppose, for example, that we wish to compute the speed of sound in helium.  Due to an error in the conversion of units, say, we compute a velocity in excess of the speed of light.  Intuitively, and from general principles, if we are acquainted with them, we know that something is wrong and we begin to look for our mistake.  We have done what we ought to do.  If, on the other hand, at the beginning of the twentieth century, we were looking for an explanation of the Michelson-Morley experiment and we determined that we could account for the observations only by rejecting the absolute nature of time, we would have been making a big mistake if we rejected our reasoning because it was in conflict with our intuition, which, before Einstein and Poincaré, told us that time is the same for everyone, everywhere, regardless of one’s motion.

The development of mathematics and science in the nineteenth and twentieth century has led to a large number of counter-intuitive results.  If people had been unwilling to adjust their intuitions to fit the discovered facts and were unwilling to travel down the trails blazed by unfettered reason, we would have remained in ignorance and error in a number of categories.

A similar drama is waiting to unfold in our views of mankind and society.  We must scrutinize society with as few preconceived notions as possible and we must be aware constantly of the assumptions we have retained and look for hidden ones.  Finally, we must follow wherever our reasoning leads us no matter how disappointed we might be to discover that everything we once held sacred is wrong.

Above all we must not be bound by the sacred and cherished beliefs of other people, particularly the belief that human nature is well-understood – independently of set and setting, i.e., the mental state of the subject (set) and the social circumstances that surround him (setting).  It simply will not do to discover a new “theory of relativity” and then reject it simply because we don’t think anyone else will accept it.  Instead, let us worry about what we ourselves can derive and understand beginning with a firm foundation.  With understanding comes the courage to communicate what we have learned to our children, our friends, anyone who will listen and, finally, the world.  We may imagine that the world will never change, that society will never reject its dearly held beliefs, but we must not ourselves persist in error when our hearts and minds have uncovered it.  Here is the list of philosophical assumptions or articles of faith:

Existence in General and the Universe in Particular

1.   We assume the existence of the real world.

The World (all that exists) was described in Chapter 1.  The Ideals, Relations, Mind, Everything Else, and even the Universe might be described differently by different members of a community all of whom accept a social contract based upon these assumptions.  The object known as the Universe must exist at least in the present, which depends upon the relative motion of the observer.  One usually associates knowledge with science and faith with religion.  Probably, though, science has less claim to knowledge than we suspect.  The eventual fall of one scientific theory after another is a fact of life.  Only in mathematics can we say that essentially everything we believe is true.  That is because we always begin by stating what it is that we are talking about.  In a very real sense, we have created the subject matter (except for the counting numbers – and maybe a few other mathematical objects).  In the physical sciences we are not at liberty to say, i.e., choose the properties of, what it is that we are talking about because we are talking about physical reality, which is a given.  If in science we can do without absolute knowledge, we cannot do without faith.  One does not embark upon a career in science without faith in an objective Universe.

Note.  I wish to distinguish three levels of objectivism.  Absolute objectivism would hold, contrary to the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, that the spin of two electrons (whose combined spin is zero, as in the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen experiment [1]) is an objective fact of the universe in every orientation of the experimental spatial coordinates with respect to the laboratory coordinates regardless of which spin, if any, is measured.  Hard objectivism would hold that only the spin that is measured has objective reality, but it is the same for every observer.  Soft objectivism would relax our grip on reality further and admit, strangely, that the result of the measurement depends on who makes it.  Soft objectivism will accommodate Schrödinger’s cat “collapsing the wave function” from his point of view, particularly if he is alive, and the cat remaining in a combination state of both dead and alive from the viewpoint of the human experimenter since the cat’s observation might not count as far as the human is concerned.  I think the cat’s consciousness collapses the wave function to any extent it does indeed collapse and no nonsense of a cat that is both dead and alive is necessary.  I would like to suggest a variation of the Aspect experiment, but I fear this is not the place to do it.  Anyone who is not familiar with this fascinating and confusing philosophy of science issue can simply put this paragraph out of mind, since, in this essay, we deal with macroscopic reality and the fine points of quantum theory are not really relevant.

To continue, scientists traditionally believe that the laws of nature are invariant in space and time.  We do not expect to find a region at the far reaches of the universe where the Second Law of Thermodynamics is reversed, although that is not absolutely out of the question.  Even stronger is our faith that the laws of physics do not vary between London and Paris.  Also, scientists take it as an article of faith that the laws of physics do not vary from year to year.  One would not undertake to unravel an obscure principle if, before one had published one’s results, the principle were likely to change.  However, there is no reason why the laws of physics might not have been different before the big bang if it turns out that, indeed, the big bang was not the absolute beginning of time.

Scientists are aware that their measurements alter the thing being measured.  This is the substance of the famed Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which asserts that one may not know both the position and the momentum of a particle.  However, I have not heard it suggested that scientists, particularly particle physicists, are actually changing the nature of matter by their investigations of particles.  I do not mean that they are changing the nature of matter in the trivial sense in that they are creating new particles from old, but that they may be changing the very laws that govern matter.  Perhaps, the fundamental laws of physics themselves are being deformed by the pressure of the physicist’s inquiry.  As far as I know, physicists conduct their affairs with complete and unquestioning faith, faith worthy of the most fanatical religious zealot, that this, the alteration of the fundamental laws of physics under the pressure of inquiry, is not occurring.

But, the faith in reality that is required to study the subject of this essay is not very demanding.  We need only have faith that a macroscopic, physical, objective universe exists independently of what people believe or hope for.  We are not concerned with the laws that govern affairs far from our Mother Earth, nor are we concerned with what happens at high energies and other extreme conditions.  We are concerned with the ordinary affairs of man.  We know that we cannot rely on an account of an event on the other side of the world observed by a person who has a personal agenda unknown to ourselves, but we can be reasonably assured that the nation where the event occurred actually exists and the head of state of that country is who everyone says he (or she) is.  We don’t know how that far-distant ruler thinks or very much at all about him, but we know his name, although we cannot pronounce it properly, we know when he took office with acceptable accuracy, and we can know the color of his eyes if we want to know.

I would like to make clear what we mean by saying that the universe exists and that we can know reasonably well certain things about what happens on this earth and that we can be confident that we are not being deceived so long as we don’t try to know too much.  I refer to this type of knowledge as broad macroscopic knowledge (macrofacts), but it isn’t worthwhile to try to give a philosophically rigorous definition of it.  (Macrofacts were defined loosely in Chapter 3 in the section on truth.)  We shall try to limit our assumptions about what goes on in the world to as few as possible and restrict ourselves to “facts” about which people are in very general agreement.  Therefore, we shall shun the results of statistical surveys as much as possible, because we do not trust them and because it is our policy to assume as little as possible.  But, we must assume the existence of an objective reality and the existence of objects and events, an existence that can be verified independently by as many observers as wish to verify it.  Since we have established a reasonably sound basis for the definition of external empirical truth, we will be able to withstand the criticisms of those skeptics who do not think we can define an objective truth because we will have defined it in terms of principles that no one on this planet can afford to live without.  This should silence the skeptics.

Of course, the knowledge to which we refer is knowledge of phenomena.  Phenomena are our impressions of objects whose intrinsic nature is hidden from us.  The genuine reality underlying phenomena was referred to as noumena by Immanuel Kant.  [Note in proof (7-2-97).  Kant may not have meant what I mean by noumena.  I mean Definitions 1 and 2 in the Random House Dictionary [2].]  Since we believe that phenomena are the manifestations of noumena that make an impression upon our senses aided, perhaps, by the most sensitive instruments with which we investigate the phenomena underlying the phenomena that constitute our everyday experiences.  We pour a glass of water, which seems like a continuous fluid.  If we look more closely, we perceive the atomic nature of water under which an even finer structure consisting of fundamental particles exists.  This is not water as it really is however.  Underneath the quarks, etc., is something stranger still and, eventually, unknowable.

[Note in proof (7-9-97).  If Mind – all of Mind – were a subset of the Universe, then, perhaps, we could attain knowledge of the noumena associated with our own consciousnesses merely by deep introspection!  This is just an idle thought.]

Nevertheless, we attempt to penetrate deeper and deeper into this apparent world of perceived phenomena, even though we are unlikely to discover the essential reality underlying water, namely, the noumena themselves.  We believe that the noumena exist because, under the same circumstances, water inevitably engenders the same phenomena in the experience of every observer.  Rarely, do we consider this viewpoint when we experience thirst.  If the thirst be sufficiently great, our thirst for philosophical understanding is all but slaked.  In any case, there is some kind of objective universe out there underneath all the phenomena because the Aspect experiment itself always comes out the same no matter who performs it – provided they perform it correctly.

2.   As a compromise, we agree not to decide upon the existence of events that cannot be replicated under any circumstances whatever by impartial observers.  People might believe that these events occurred and they might be referred to as supernatural.  It is not necessary to argue about that.  Instead, we will disallow the introduction of such events as evidence for or against social policies.

It seems to me that the conventional division of all phenomena into natural and supernatural is pointless.  What does it mean?  Does it mean that some events occur and some do not?  Recall that most imagined instances of the supernatural are related to poltergeists, ghosts, and goblins – purely fictitious creatures.  If that’s what we mean by t·h·e  s·u·p·e·r·n·a·t·u·r·a·l, we may dispose of the category immediately because it is empty.  Does it mean that some events obey discernible, discoverable laws and others don’t?  If that’s what it means, how do we draw the line between discoverable and nondiscoverable?  Most laws that govern natural phenomena are undiscovered, nor do we know that they can ever be discovered.  (In some cases, we know that they cannot be.)  Does that make these events supernatural?  On the other hand, we might discover laws that govern telekinesis, mental telepathy, communication with the dead, or spontaneous material manifestations, if such events actually occur, in which case they would have to be classified as natural.  So, in this case too, we see that the division between natural and supernatural is artificial.

We speak of all that exists in terms of five distinct, but not necessarily disjoint, “worlds”, namely, the Universe, U, Mind, M, the Ideals, I, the Relation, R, and Everything Else, E.  We didn’t claim to know anything about Everything Else.  On the contrary, we claimed that nothing can be known, except, perhaps, in a negative sense.  Let us suppose that the universe in space and time, whether finite or not, bounded or not, is embedded in a larger space of unknown dimensionality or beyond dimensionality.  Then, so-called supernatural events could be interpreted as the projection of extra-universal phenomena, the laws governing which may not be discoverable, upon our universe, just as the footsteps of a giant human may be interpreted by an ant as evidence of the existence of a larger world that he cannot see, provided only that he has the wit to so interpret.  Just because we could not explore the space in which the universe would be embedded would not justify considering it supernatural – or unnatural, which amounts to the same thing.  The designation supernatural tends to place the part of existence that we cannot explore in an inferior position with respect to the rest of existence, but this is open to debate and I do not insist upon it.  All of existence might be considered Nature.  In any case, the use of the term “supernatural” seems to increase confusion rather than dispel it.  As elucidated further below, some events originating in the part of existence distinct from the Universe, the Ideals, the Relations, and Mind may be called supernatural by some people if they wish, but we shall not permit those putative events to be introduced into discourse on public policy – unless, of course, some means can be found to subject them to ordinary scientific scrutiny.

Natural events occurring in the Universe are divided readily into those that can be reproduced over and over again, such as the dropping of a weight from the Leaning Tower of Pisa (which may not have been the experiment performed by Galileo), and events which occur only once, such as George Washington crossing the Delaware.  Whereas reasonable procedures exist by means of which we can ascertain with a high probability that George Washington did indeed cross the Delaware under the circumstances related in history books, no scientific proof can be put forth.  One can distinguish, too, between events that occurred only once but that can be replicated readily in their essential details under different circumstances, such as Washington tossing a coin across the Potomac, and events that cannot be replicated by anyone in any of their essential details under any circumstances, such as Jesus ascending into heaven.  To bolster our faith in the famous legend let a few men of approximately George Washington’s size and build toss a coin across the Potomac.

Suppose, as a compromise, we agree not to decide upon the existence of events that cannot be replicated under any circumstances by impartial observers.  People might believe that these events occurred and they might be referred to as supernatural.  It is not necessary to argue about that.  Instead, we will disallow the introduction of such events as evidence for or against social policies.  This, then, is an assumption upon which this work is based:  Any knowledge based on events that cannot be replicated or observed by impartial observers are to be excluded from discussion of public policy.  Now, if we have excluded natural events from debate on public policy when they cannot be replicated in any of their pertinent aspects and they cannot be verified otherwise, our inclination to consider events that are supposed to be supernatural vanishes.

As far as events are concerned that occur in the part of existence, E, outside of the universe, U, mind, M, the realm of Ideals, I, and the relations, R, we believe that nothing can be known about them unless they interact with U, M, I, or R.  Such interactions are considered natural if they can be investigated by scientific methods or introspection.  We agree that some people may believe in occurrences resulting from interactions of E with I, R, M, and U that can be perceived only by select minds, e.g., “the elect of God”, or may not be investigated by the methods of science for some other reason, and these people may call these occurrences supernatural if they wish, but we shall not allow them to be introduced as evidence in the determination of public policy.

This prohibits the introduction into public policy of the miracles ascribed to certain religious figures and the religions or religious beliefs based upon them.  This is the compromise that I once believed was guaranteed by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.  Although we now understand the difficulties inherent in the Bill of Rights, we recognize that people who wish to introduce irrational and personal religious agendas into public policy, even by legal means, are enemies of freedom and enemies of the human race.  [Note in proof (9-28-96):  We might continue to insist upon separation of Church and State despite our reservations about the Constitution.]

The Human Condition

3.   We assume that we ourselves exist as do the events in our own minds.

I have nothing to say to justify my assumption that I, or any of us, exist and belong to the Universe.  If we don’t, then my thesis is merely academic – whatever that would mean.  I do not like Descartes’ reasoning.  I am at least as unsure about whether I think as I am about whether I exist.  Nevertheless, I have something to say about what we, all of us, think.

The rejection of the supernatural does not mean that we reject the spiritual nature of man.  The events that occur in the mind of man can be verified by introspection and, insofar as a significant number of people attest to their occurrence within themselves, we do not deny their existence.  They are best interpreted spiritually because, although each of us is certain of the occurrence of thoughts, feelings, ideas, perceptions, and insights, we do not know how to draw a one-to-one correspondence between psychical events and the physical events that occur in the brain, such as the flow of electrical currents and the migration of ions, nor do we know that we will ever be able to do so.  Nevertheless, we ourselves are witnesses to psychic events in our own minds even though we cannot prove their existence to anyone else.  One may be reasonably certain, though, that, when someone is speaking, processes are at work in that person’s mind with which we are familiar because of our own experience with speaking.  We may assume that people do not differ so markedly as to invalidate that presupposition.

The assumption needed for this work is that each person is capable of observing psychical events that occur in his own mind and these events have an objective reality despite the impossibility of independent verification.  They may not, however, be introduced into public policy except insofar as they are capable of being actualized.  Thus, one may say to himself with certainty, “I did not know the gun was loaded,” but this knowledge may not be introduced into the testimony at a public hearing.  On the other hand, if a reliable witness heard the subject say, “This gun isn’t loaded” before the hypothesis was tested and his assertion had the ring of sincerity to it, we might be more disposed to believe that the state of the subject’s mind was as reported.  Personally, though, if I want to be certain that I thought a particular thought, I say it out loud.  Is this a superstition?  (See the discussion of inner truth in Chapter 3.)

4.   We suppose that events occur in other people’s minds just as they do in our own minds.

Each person is capable of observing the events in his or her own mind; however, normally, they may not be introduced as evidence in debate on public policy.  This was discussed above.

5.   We assume that the ability to reason can be developed in the normal undiminished human being.

The Child’s Age of Reason

The ancient Greeks, if I am not mistaken, took the age of reason to be seven-years-old.  Most modern human beings can reason well enough when it comes to determining what is wrong with their automobiles.  (I hope I don’t give them too much credit.)  But, something has gone awry in their ability to reason about political, philosophical, religious, and moral questions.  I believe this can be traced to Madison Avenue, television, the schools, the churches (including televangelists), and advanced principles of modern psychology, which have been applied for commercial profit and learned well by political power brokers.  Recall the amazing success of the Republican presidential campaign with the extremely brief Willy Horton ad used against Dukakis in 1988.  It pushed the so-called “hot buttons” in many people's minds.  This is something that politicians didn’t know how to do in 1888.  But, what we want to know now is how human beings become so diminished.

On Education

My Personal Viewpoint

Fortunately, my higher education was in engineering and mathematics where the only matter of opinion is whether the subject is worth learning.  When we study the design of an ethylene oxide plant, we ought to discuss whether or not it is wise to build such a plant.  Of course, most professors do not raise such questions.  Normally, the professor leaves the student with the impression that it is OK to build such a monstrosity; and my experience with practicing chemical engineers is that almost all of them are unwilling to consider the opposing earth-as-a-garden viewpoint.  This leads them into some interesting conflicting logic, which they tolerate quite well with their well-developed ability to doublethink.  I could tell some stories here, but let me say only that when I suggested that we ought to phase out big industry in a talk at the Houston Chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, most of the audience went ballistic – although without loss of decorum.  Surprisingly, a nontrivial number expressed agreement and even the president of the Chapter, a vice-president of a major industrial and chemical construction company, defended me; but, then again, he and I are friends.

Before college and in the divisions of universities that shouldn’t exist, e.g., business and marketing (since they teach lies and how to lie), I perceive two major difficulties in the curriculum:  (1) students are taught horrendous lies, e.g., America is the greatest nation on earth with the ideal political and economic system, and (2) students are inculcated with the delusion that the sole purpose of an education is to get good grades so they can make more money, which sounds like something written on the back of a book of matches.  This latter promulgates the notion that it is the student’s duty to prepare himself to be a cog in the giant industrial-business-governmental machine.

In addition, the schools are troubled by an extremely inefficient top-down hierarchical administration that provides endless impediments to the sincere teacher.  As for the universities, they seem to be run for the benefit of a handful of top dogs who benefit the most from the university’s existence.  The increases in tuition outstrip inflation every year.  Where does the money go?

I have much more to say about education, including my prescription for a good education, in various essays in Vol. II and Vol. III of my collected papers [3].  What really burns me though is the shoddy education I received in music, my first true love (my love of chemistry was a childish infatuation with explosions).  Every grade school graduate should be able to recognize intervals, chords, and scales, and be able to sight sing reasonably difficult compositions.  Perhaps, then, we wouldn’t have to put up with the horrendous unmusical popular pabulum that permeates our airwaves and, outrage of outrages, our telephones when we are put on hold, which happens nearly every time we call business or government.

Character Education, Anti-Drug Propaganda, and Religion

Character Education

The Houston Independent School District  (HISD) is considering putting into place a professionally designed Character Education Program.  Look at some of the things they will teach and decide for yourself if this enhances the student’s ability to reason.  Before you can teach character, you really have to know what it is, and I don’t know anyone at HISD who does know anything about good character – almost certainly not anyone who would be teaching it.  Certainly, not anyone who works for a public or private school or university.  Most “successful” teachers are good politicians, which might not be compatible with a good grasp of ethics and the attributes of good character.  What follows is a discussion of some of the major topics covered in a course in “character education” that the HISD is considering for adoption (if they haven’t already adopted it):


“Write the pledge [of allegiance] on a chart and verify that the students understand the meaning of all the words in the pledge.”  How about the word indivisible and the word God?  Does anyone know the meaning of the word God?  Does this mean that people with good character are anti-secessionist?  Further they ask the students to discuss loyalty pledges.  Shades of McCarthyism.


“Have the students brainstorm all the phrases they have heard that contain the word ‘justice’.  You can help them by providing some examples such as ‘justice of the peace’, ‘Supreme Court Justice’, ‘...with liberty and justice for all’, etc.  The students can infer the definition of justice from these phrases.”  I very much doubt.

Justice in the real world is discussed.  What can they possibly say?  “...but we will focus our attention on solving injustice in a positive manner.”  Undoubtedly, this means within the establishment.  Fat chance.

Teacher (from character-education manual):  Everyone has a right to seek justice in the courts.

Teacher (from manual):  Observe the city government in action.

Wise-ass student:  Do they mean in public or in the smoke-filled rooms?

Teacher (from manual):  Invite a judge or an attorney to visit the classroom and discuss the justice system.

[The scene changes]

Attorney:  Well, kids, there’s this favor bank.  Joe does something for me and I get his client off light.

Judge:  We get a little on the side in bribes.  For example, I’m owned by the Gambini family.  They don’t get no rumble from me.  Like the man said, “Be fair, but, if you can’t be fair, be arbitrary.”

Teacher (from manual):  Invite a police officer to come and speak to the students on this subject.

Cop:  Well, kids, I’m only the bag man, so I can’t speak with authority.


“You can use this opportunity to discuss commitments that politicians make to their constituents and why and how the politicians are held accountable to these commitments.  You can invite a politician to speak to the class or collect newspaper articles illustrating how politicians are meeting specific commitments.”  Yep, nothin’ beats a politician for good character, I don’t think.  I think I read somewhere in my copy of the character-education manual that both (notice, not all) political parties want what’s best for the American people; they just have different ideas about how to achieve it.


This is mostly an attack on drugs and I discuss that below and in Vol. I of my collected papers [3].  But, at least this gives the students a chance to notice that the teachers are liars themselves; so, naturally they are quite competent to inculcate good character.  Ha.  Another bad habit, though, that is disparaged is staying up late at night, regardless of the well-known fact that nearly all good intellectual work gets done in the middle of the night.  They preach day-people chauvinism and bigotry against night people.

The Scapegoating of Drugs and Mass Hysteria

As if the lies concerning ethics, private enterprise, and government, including its history, weren’t bad enough, the children have their minds made up for them concerning the desirability or undesirability of taking drugs.  As in every other case, there is a time and place for drugs and “Just say no” encourages decisions without contemplation and reinforces stupidity.  The efficacy of drugs is an open question and educators may not determine which side of an open question is correct.


Finally, we have the intrusion of improper religion, especially prayer, into the schools.  This encourages unreasonableness to a marked degree whatever positive effects can be achieved by the childish imagination and the self-hypnotic effects of prayer.  It is unconstitutional and it is immoral.  Moreover, it is blasphemy!  The people who encourage this idiocy are irreligious themselves regardless of how they spend their Sundays.  If they actually believed in a god who watched their every deed, they could not behave as they do; therefore, I must conclude that they are atheists whatever they call themselves.  Again, the rest of this is covered in my essays on religion in my collected papers [3].

John Gatto’s Seven-Lesson School Teacher

I wish to list the seven lessons in Gatto’s excellent paper [4].  It is worth taking the trouble to look up this reference.  Now, Gatto’s case is certainly not one of sour grapes because he won the award for the outstanding school teacher in New York State, regardless of the meaninglessness of the award.  I, for one, never noticed his seven points while I was in school; so, I was a victim, which accounts for some of the brainwashing performed upon myself, which, by the way, has taken decades to overcome, if, indeed, I have overcome it yet.

Lesson 1 (Confusion).  Everything is taught out of context – disconnected facts rather than meaning.

Lesson 2 (Class position).  Students are numbered in more ways than ever before.

Lesson 3 (Indifference).  When the bell rings, we drop whatever it is we were learning as if it had no more importance than a discussion on the “Larry King Show” when a commercial break is due.

Lesson 4 (Emotional dependency).  “By stars and red checks, smiles and frowns, honors and disgraces, I teach you to surrender your will to the chain of command.”  Students are hostages to good behavior.

Lesson 5 (Intellectual dependency).  “Successful children do the thinking I appoint them with a minimum of resistance and a decent show of enthusiasm. ... Curiosity has no important place in my work, only conformity. ... Good people wait for an expert to tell them what to do. ... [O]ur entire economy depends on this lesson being learned.”

Lesson 6 (Provisional self-esteem).  “I teach that your self-respect should depend upon expert opinion. ... People must be told what they are worth.”

Lesson 7 (You can’t hide).  There is no private time.  Schedules are designed to prevent fraternization.  Homework extends constant surveillance into the home even.  “The meaning of constant surveillance and denial of privacy is that no one can be trusted, that privacy is not legitimate.”


Television is poison.  (That’s a metaphor.)  Every detail of every mainstream program is designed to paralyze our natural reasonableness – especially the news.  The casual characterization of our guys as the good guys and as heroes and our opponents as the bad guys and thugs is only one example of many.  The clothes worn by and the cars driven by the characters in television shows are blatant consumerism.  In a very real sense, nearly everything on television, including public television, is advertising and propaganda.  No one has to tell TV executives what to do; they understand what they have to do whether they approve of it or not.  I will write an essay on television for Vol. III of my collected papers [3].

6.   Man is naturally capable of independent thought and action, unless something has been done to him, some sort of conditioning, that weakens his (or her) natural self-confidence.

Independent Thought

Piaget [5] has shown evidence of reasoning ability in very young children.  Most of the other points to support this position, which, if you remember is an assumption and need not be proved, were made in the previous section.  Of course, I hope that my explanation for my faith in the assumption will influence the reader’s viewpoint even in the case where he formerly believed otherwise.

Independent Action

Although we are interested in independent action, it is necessary to say a word about the antithesis of independent action, namely, extrinsic motivation.  The motivation to write this book, learn to play the drums, and build my model railroad has been intrinsic.  But, all these things are being accomplished in spite of the enormous difficulty I experience to this day doing something that no one requires me to do.

In school and at work, I have done whatever I did do to please a teacher or a boss.  Yes, I wished to please.  Now, that I am “free”, no one is telling me to do these things, and, for that matter, no one gives a damn if I do them or not, unless they wish I would not do them.  Once I get started on one of these tasks inertia takes over, but I have gone for weeks without being able to lift a hand.  This makes me mad, because I know I wasn’t like this as a small child.  My experiences in school and at work have damaged my natural intrinsic motivational nature strictly in accord with the theories of Deci and Ryan [6,7] and Condry [8].

One should not suppose that I have only limited evidence for the assumptions associated with the hypothetical world W´, described in Premise 9, below, wherein the theories of Deci and Ryan are correct – or, rather, good enough for our purposes.  At the end of Appendix III, where I make my final case for the principal scientific hypotheses adopted by the intrinsic motivational school of behavioral psychology, I provide a non-exhaustive bibliography dedicated to the rather extensive (peer-reviewed) scientific literature that supports these hypotheses.  Until then, I shall cite only the papers [6,7,8] referenced above.  These are the papers I had read when I began this essay.

7.   The doctrine of Original Sin is assumed to be a hoax.

The doctrine of Original Sin, which is based on the book of Genesis in the Bible, presupposes a perfect man who, through some sort of happenstance or other (the Bible is very specific about just what this was, but we needn’t assume so much), has committed a first sinful or foolish act, which afterward was passed on to his progeny (presumably) genetically.  This is asking quite a bit of genetics for we all know that losing one leg before one has children does not result in one-legged offspring.  Holders of this doctrine believe that man would retain residual evil impulses even in an environment free of corrupting influences.  This reminds us of the theories that postulate some mechanism whereby heredity triumphs over environment, although these theories do not necessarily rule out environmental influence absolutely.

It cannot be denied that parents can transmit their sins to children through their influence and proximity without the agency of heredity, but the effect is likely to die out after three of four generations (as the Old Testament scholars may have believed).  In any case, sin could not be transmitted in this manner to children who were isolated from society, including their parents, or, rather, the corrupting influences of society.  Admittedly, this manner of preventing the transmission of sin would be difficult to implement.  That is why I suggest transforming all of society gradually, but simultaneously instead.  This can be accomplished by altering our institutions.

The biblical basis of original sin is discussed in my essay “On The Work Ethic” in Vol. II of my collected papers [3].  The question of whether Original Sin exists or not boils down to whether man is born evil or whether man becomes evil due to the society in which he finds himself, of which religion itself is a component.  The concept of Original Sin supposes that people are born in sin, whereas sin, which, after all, is nothing but foolishness, probably arises because of the social system into which people are born.  The social system might have arisen accidentally.  When the first cave man considered taking more than his fair share or trying to dominate his tribe, he might have decided that it wouldn’t be a good idea, since an even stronger man was bound to come along later whose victim he would become.  On the other hand, maybe the lust for wealth and the will to power come directly from our animal nature, although not every animal species exhibits greed and pecking orders.  Perhaps, sin originated from man’s first demand for compensation for a good deed; i.e., sin originated in what is commonly called Trade rather than from man’s first attempt to distinguish good from evil.  [According to this hypothesis, sin originated precisely from materialism in the technical sense of the term employed in this essay as our model of society.  One could not expect more from a model.  It explains every social evil beginning with the original social evil.  This is more than we have a right to hope for.]

Certainly man is corruptible and we should remove the corrupting influences from society, one of which might be the work ethic itself.  I believe that man, like the animals, is born innocent, but perhaps with an atavistic animal nature.  (Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.)  Hopefully, a child born into a decent environment will become self-socialized (fit for the companionship of other human beings without special training or coercion) when he reaches the age of reason (develops the ability to reason, about seven years of age or earlier).  I can’t prove this.  It would be difficult to do experiments to verify or falsify this conjecture because human beings may not be treated like lab animals (even lab animals should not be treated like lab animals), but the large number of wonderful children who appear to be without sin seems to indicate that the environment, and not original sin, is what shapes our characters. 

Despite the difficulties, I have not completely abandoned the possibility of furnishing scientific proof for this thesis, which is at the core of my entire philosophy and, currently, must be taken on faith, just as the doctrine of original sin is taken on faith.  (I never said that I would eliminate faith.)  In any case, it is not at all clear that it is possible for the origin of sin, whatever it might have been, to be transmitted genetically.  Rather than the doubtful hypothesis of Original Sin, this theory depends upon the elementary premise that human beings are good but corruptible.

Note in proof (1-1-06).  Many contemporary readers who have been under the influence of Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker (The Blank Slate) will recognize, in this section and the next two, the influence of the ‘liberal’ idea that, when a child is born, his mind is a blank slate.  This is a valid criticism.  However, in searching the peer-reviewed literature in evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology, I have been unable to find evidence of an adaptation (an innate mechanism) that prevents normal undiminished people from living a satisfactory life in accordance with the three moral axioms discussed in Chapter 3.   There is nothing inherent in their natures that would prevent them from being happy and free under such conditions – more happy and more free than they would have been in a materialistic society.  Certainly, human beings, especially males, are born with an innate propensity to dominate other people to enhance their reproductive advantages; however, they are not born with a necessity to manifest that propensity in any of the ways prohibited by the three axiomatic moral principles.  Nothing in the Social Contract suggested by Dematerialism prevents the realization of every reproductive advantage inherent in manifest excellence, including the acquisition of Tokens donated by persons unwilling or unable to spend their Tokens by reproducing themselves according to the Token Principle of Chapter 3.

8.  Human beings are good but corruptible.

Note in proof (1-2-06).  Apparently, it is necessary to say what I mean by the word ‘good’.  In a general way, of course, I mean ‘that with which I approve’.  In the context of this essay, I mean ‘that which satisfies the criteria of reasonableness, utility, and beauty’.  We do not claim that a lion is bad because he exhibits dominance traits.  We expect wild animals to behave like wild animals.  A young puppy is not bad if he growls at a boy.  Dogs will be dogs and boys will be boys.  However, we do consider it a bad thing if, after a normal course of dog training, a dog still growls at all boys.  Even the dog knows what we mean by “Bad dog”.  If we approve of the dog’s behavior, we say “Good dog”.  I didn’t expect to have to justify the terms ‘good’ and ‘bad’; but, I do not intend to leave these useful words to hypocrites any more than I intend to leave the terms ‘morals’ and ‘ethics’ to prudes and liars.

9.   People are assumed to be good enough to satisfy the conditions of this theory without further evolution.

How Good Are We?


Adam Smith, in Wealth of Nations [9], said, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”  Whether Original Sin exists or not, many people, practically whole nations in fact, believe that man is driven primarily by self-interest.  If this be true, then man will have to change or suffer the consequences of this intolerable defect, i.e., extinction (or, possibly, life as a slave to a totalitarian state, as discussed in a later chapter).  I do not believe that it is true, however.  It seems much more likely that selfishness comes from fear and fear comes from ignorance.

Although I do not believe that we are motivated primarily by self-interest, nothing in this theory asks or expects man to behave contrary to his best interests, which are assumed to include living in a beautiful community as well as living in a beautiful house.  It’s a question of mental orientation, isn’t it, whether one dwells upon the self or upon external and more interesting things, which generally leads to a much more satisfactory life.  Truly, virtue, in it’s true sense, as espoused in this essay, is its own reward.  Why, for example, would anyone want to live among neighbors who, if they thought about him at all, ought to despise him and for whom his particular death would be a blessing!  Why would anyone want to live in a nation despised by most of the rest of the world such that airplane flights require extensive precautions and the threat of terrorism grows daily?

Desire for Approval

As pointed out by Jon Wisman [10], Adam Smith wrote another book that is not so well-known as Wealth of Nations, namely, The Theory of Moral Sentiments [11], in which he argues that, “Nature, when she formed man for society, endowed him with an original desire to please, and an original aversion to offend his brethren.”  Smith says, “Humanity does not desire to be great, but to be beloved,” and “it is chiefly from (the) regard to the sentiments of mankind that we pursue riches and avoid poverty.”  What’s the point of becoming a multi-billionaire if there’s no one to admire you for it?  What man really wants is approval according to this theory.  I believe this is true; but, again, I believe it arises from a negative emotion, namely, insecurity or fear.  Everyone knows how much more potent a person becomes when he or she doesn’t give a damn what anybody thinks.  Thus, we must look further to discover a valid reason for doing what we do.

The World W′ According to Deci and Ryan

We will need to prove that our world, W, is actually W′, the world in which the theory of Deci and Ryan [6] is correct (or sufficiently correct for our purposes).  This will be needed later when we prove our Fundamental Theorem, but it constitutes one of our philosophical assumptions, so it belongs here.  The assumption about intrinsic motivation can be developed into a genuine scientific theory, but we allow (for now) that it is simply an article of faith – faith in the goodness of man that, presumably, we share with many intelligent people – despite the cynics, whose intelligence we respect and who are not necessarily under suspicion of ill will.  The following are conditions that obtain in W′:

0.  Many Unstated Assumptions.  Undoubtedly, we have omitted to write down many of our deep-seated unstated assumptions, therefore the reader should be on his guard for such additional logical requirements.  We said that we were fallible.  Of course, many unstated assumptions are entirely self-evident and “go without saying”.

1.  Intrinsic Motivation.  The thrust of the Deci and Ryan theory is the choice of intrinsic motivation as the most satisfactory mechanism to keep us ticking, as discussed above.  It is recognized, though, that many of us have been raised under such severe forms of extrinsic motivation (“Daddy won’t love you if you don’t get good grades”) that we have difficulty doing anything that we are not forced to do by our atavistic, but irrational, fears.  They are irrational because they no longer apply or, rather, they need not apply to us – except that we live in an irrational society and in a wicked world.  We live in the Dark Ages if we are not still cave men.

2.  Preconditions for Happiness.  People who enjoy the preconditions for happiness, stated in Chapter 1, which in this theory were for technical reasons identified with happiness itself, will allow by and large that they are happy in the colloquial sense.  Thus, we retain a phenomenological view.

I have always taken it as an article of faith, amply borne out by observation, that what man really wants is satisfaction, which he obtains from doing things for the sake of the things themselves.  Everyone has experienced at least once the magical quality of time passing when one is truly engrossed in one’s task.  Researchers in behavioral and human psychology call this intrinsic motivation; i.e., the task is performed in the absence of any outside influence that the experimenter can detect.  In recent experiments performed by [the late] John Condry [8], Deci and Ryan [6,7], and others, significant improvements in performance coupled with more creativity and a greater desire to return to the task on a subsequent occasion have been observed in children and adults in the absence of extrinsic motivation in the form of money and other rewards.  Moreover, given a choice as to whether to perform certain tasks with or without a reward, subjects preferred to work without a reward, presumably to avoid competition.  These results and the results of future experiments may allow me to remove this assumption from my list of articles of faith because it will have been proved scientifically at least as well as such things are ever proved.

The implications are indeed profound.  Reactionaries will no longer be able to point to self-interest as the “most efficient” way to motivate society economically, and the rest of this theory should find ready acceptance among reasonable people.  The work of Deci and Ryan [6] essentially proves W = W'.  We will return to this proposition in Chapter 10.  Also, in Appendix III, at the end of the book, where likely objections are attacked in a concentrated way in keeping with their worthiness of consideration, immediately following the general references I have dedicated a special reference section exclusively to the literature of the intrinsic motivation school of motivational psychology.

It is probably worth noting that I haven’t said anything about altruism.  I have not said that people must act counter to self-interest.  It is just that earlier psychologists and economists have not understood just what is in the best interests of by far the majority of people.  Obviously, if becoming rich does not lead to satisfaction and fulfillment, it is not in anyone’s self-interest to become rich.  Nearly everyone has experienced some materialistic desire accompanied by the firm belief that, “if I could only have a boat, say, of such and such description, then I would be happy,” only to grow accustomed soon to having the longed for object and not being happy.  That sort of thing is a fact of life known to most of us.  Getting a PhD, making Full Professor, getting that hard-won promotion, etc. all turn out to be empty, don’t they?  This author believes that Deci and Ryan, for example, are getting very close – close enough – to the main idea about happiness.


The opposite of intrinsic motivation is extrinsic motivation, with which we are all painfully familiar.  “Daddy won’t love you if you don’t get good grades.”  “If you’re late one more time, you’re through.”  “If you don’t learn this, you’ll be killed, soldier.”  Or whatever it was in your family or place of work.  Another form of extrinsic motivation studied in the research described above is control or the appearance of control.  If the results of this research are correct, we should expect that the presence of management or even leadership is deleterious.  In this work it is assumed that, although man enjoys the companionship of his fellow creatures, he is naturally capable of independent thought and action, unless something has been done to him, some sort of conditioning, that weakens his (or her) natural self-confidence.  While it is true that many people are looking for something or someone they can depend on or look up to, generally this can be traced to a negative emotion resulting from an undesirable environmental circumstance.  I have often wondered why criminals are afforded such an honored place in the folk literature of humanity.  I believe it is because they are the only truly independent people in a society where nearly everyone is under the control of someone else.  Even the absolute monarch is a slave to his cabinet ministers, if not to his wife or his valet.

As William Morris said, “No one is good enough to be someone else’s master.”  The notion of the professional manager is probably a myth.  When we visit our doctor, we are the client, and we expect the doctor’s interests to coincide with our own, or at least we used to until physicians began to succumb to the lure of untold riches.  Presumably, the worker should be the client of the manager.  But, the manager reports to another manager higher than himself whose interests may not coincide with those of the worker.  The function of the manager, then, may be to get more work out of the worker, regardless of the effect on his happiness or health.  Either the manager does profess a system of thought that enables him (or her) to manipulate the worker in the interest of himself or other managers or the discipline of management is empty and exists only as a symbol of membership in an elite class.  In any case, the primary talent required of a manager, or of any leader for that matter, is the ability to become a manager, that is, to climb the ladder.  The primary preoccupation of managers and leaders is to retain their privileged positions or to climb even higher, none of which is in the interests of the worker or of society in general.  It makes sense, then, for workers to replace managers by representatives of themselves, whenever such a representative is useful.  What is the meaning of a democracy in which 90%, say, of all of our meaningful activities are subject to authority over which we have no influence!

Innocence and Corruptibility

In contradistinction to Original Sin is another premise upon which this essay is based, namely, that man is essentially good – but corruptible.  Rather than wealth and power, what people really want is satisfaction, which comes only from spiritual growth and creative endeavor.  Human nature is inherently good and generous.  The evil deeds done by humans come from the defects in society.  Natural people have no desire to be exalted, because of accidents of birth for example.  When people are educated properly they will become socialized naturally.  Even if man be not perfectible, he can contrive to establish institutions that prevent corruption and abolish institutions that promote it.  He has the power to construct a society that takes advantage of his goodness, but is proof against whatever undesirable traits he may retain.  We shall discuss some possibilities for desirable alternative institutions in subsequent chapters, especially in Chapter 11.

Evidence of Man’s Goodness

The most interesting evidence that I can provide for man’s (and woman’s) natural goodness is his (and her) badness – strangely enough.  It is an observable fact of life that, almost without exception (and the exceptions may be only failures to observe well enough), the worse a human being is treated – the more savage the environment from which he comes – the worse is his behavior.  The application of this idea to child abuse is familiar to all of us.  The first question we ask when we hear about child abuse is: Was the abuser abused?  Indeed, evil begets evil, a principle that will be taken as an article of faith below.

Now, if it were possible to quantify man’s goodness or badness, and, if we could place a numerical value on his environment as well, we could make a plot of behavior as a function of environment.  Certainly, we shall have no observations near the origin of coordinates, which, in our impossible thought experiment, is presumed to represent perfect behavior in an ideal environment.  But, if a smooth curve could be drawn through the observations we have made and that curve passed through the origin of coordinates, we would have shown that, in an ideal environment, man’s behavior is acceptable, i.e., perfect.  Unfortunately, we cannot carry out this task for every reason, however, we may imagine that, if it were carried out, in some suitable metric space, the results would be as I have described them.  Perhaps there would be strange and inexplicable instances of conduct; but, I take it as an article of faith that human conduct would be at least sufficiently good that all of the problems of society known to most of us, discussed in the essay “Social Problems and Solutions” in Vol. II of my collected papers [3], and catalogued in Appendix II, would virtually disappear, i.e., they would no longer be global social problems that need concern all of society.  A few residual problems that might exist in a cooperative society will be discussed at the end of Chapter 9, “The Occurrence Equivalence of the Violations of the Moral Axioms with Materialism and with Each Other”.

A second reason why I believe in the principle of man’s intrinsic goodness is that I can describe in detail the mechanism by which undesirable behavior arises as a result of the social condition I wish to remove.  This is an important consideration and it is sufficient to raise my article of faith to the stature of scientific hypothesis.  Unfortunately, from one view, but most fortunately from another, human beings may not be treated like lab animals (even lab animals should not be treated like lab animals), thus it is difficult to perform experiments upon human beings that withstand scientific scrutiny.  I do not believe that it should be necessary to do such experiments to justify changing society to correspond to the ideas presented in this essay inasmuch as the aesthetic and theoretical desirability of these ideas is so compelling that any reasonable person should want to carry out these changes with or without rigorous scientific proof that the results will be as intended.  Nevertheless, we expect to present many reasons why we need to make these changes and why the effects will be felicitous.  Skeptics will present myriad reasons for not making changes, but most of these will be the standard fallacies that normally are presented under these circumstances, as discussed in detail by Bentham [12], who made a useful study of the excuses politicians make when they wish to avoid implementing a needed reform.

Human Perfectibility and Creative Evolution

Suppose that we have agreed to make changes in society that depend, for their success, upon a certain amount of goodness in man, which we shall make explicit in the next few assumptions, and upon removing temptations from man by carefully designing the social institutions we shall retain and abandoning the rest – gradually, as I hope I have made abundantly clear.  We might wonder if it is possible for man to evolve into something even better than he is now and whether man, himself, might influence that evolution to hasten it, for example.  This is an important question, but I shall not address it here because I believe that man can improve his circumstances a great deal, even guarantee himself a sort of permanence, depending only upon astronomical events rather than upon his own affairs, without becoming any better than he already is.  However, it seems reasonable to suppose that the possibility of evolving into something more than human is greatly improved by the survival of humanity for a very long time, to say the very least, and by optimizing the circumstances under which it survives, to say a great deal more.

Needs and Desires

Happiness was defined in Chapter 1.  We recall that happiness requires (1) reasonable satisfaction of tissue deficits, (2a) autonomy, (2b) effectiveness, (2c) relatedness (which, hopefully but tenuously, underlies the Fundamental Premise that it is unreasonable to be happy while others are miserable or inevitably will be miserable), and (3) safety, i.e., the assurance that (1) and (2) will continue in perpetuity.  We might as well state that mankind wants to be happy, needs to be happy, and has a right to be happy in this technical sense.  As we said before, man may enjoy the sublime emotions, such as joyfulness, nostalgia, etc., without being happy.  It may be reasonable to experience joy from time to time even though most of the world is miserable, especially whenever a permanent improvement in the condition of the rest of mankind has been achieved, but that is not the same as the joy and satisfaction we should feel if misery were abolished.

We assume that man should live in a stable society free of war, famine, and epidemic disease.  We assume the desirability of happiness, abundant leisure, and prosperity, consistent with a permanent, strong quasi-steady-state world.  When we say “permanent”, we neglect possible astronomical catastrophes.  We modify “steady-state” by “quasi” to indicate that we are neglecting minor variations in periodic cycles and a few unopposed trends in climate, continental movement, etc.  (Hopefully, we will find a way to balance our high-grade available energy budget so that we can have a strong quasi-steady-state world, as defined in Chapter 3.)  The principles of freedom, justice, equality, and other human rights follow from the three moral axioms, which are based, in turn, on aesthetics, reasonableness, and utility.

We assume, then, that we have a reasonably accurate notion of the desires and needs of humanity (A).  This outlook toward needs and desires was discussed informally in the short essay “What We Want and What We Get” in Vol. II of my collected papers [3]; but, my somewhat heterodox viewpoint toward what many may view, quite legitimately, as important central religious tenets is everywhere apparent in this essay, e.g., my attitude toward sex, must be defended, approved, and adopted (α to ω).  In Chapter 11, I shall describe some new institutions that might make an ideal society possible.  {Establishing new institutions (Γ) is concrete action.}  To achieve all of these needs and desires, we shall require such concrete action to eliminate all of the problems listed in Appendix II (Δ), which follows automatically from (Γ) and which leads automatically to the realization of the needs and desires of humanity recognized in (A).  Of course, we need to solve the problem of behaving as well as we need to behave to solve these problems.  {That is, we shall need to form a consensus and resolve upon concerted community action (B) that rejects individual ambition, reward, fame, and glory.}

I hope the reader is not getting dizzy from going around in circles.  (Why should he?  The path A →  B →  ΓΔ  can be regarded as straight enough in the peculiar geometry of the space in which social change occurs, can it not?  However, whatever happens that permits people to experience the spiritual awakening required for α to ω is of very great concern.  I understand that I am supposing that people should think as I do rather than the way they have thought in the past, which might seem like the height of arrogance on my part, especially if stated that bluntly; however, underneath that view is a deep humility that the careful reader will not completely disregard.

How Good Do We Need To Be?

Some Fundamental Economic Premises

Let us denote abstractly as Premise A the premise of capitalism and its predecessors that man should compete for material wealth and that material wealth can be used as a reward for achievement, or as a reward for good behavior, or as a way of measuring success in life.  Premise A presupposes that man will not do good works without a material incentive.  Premise A is a feature of what I have chosen to call materialism, but, to illustrate that we need not prejudice our thinking by employing terms that have common and multiple meanings, let me carry forward the discussion a little further using this abstract terminology even though it may present a slight impediment to our memories.  Let us denote as Premise B the premise of Marxism that people will voluntarily produce material wealth for the common good to the best of their abilities, provided only that they are supplied with a sufficient portion from the common pool of wealth to supply their needs and to satisfy their desires.  Finally, let us denote as Premise C the premise that man will produce adequate material wealth for himself and others, and that he will behave in a socially acceptable manner that renders him fit for human companionship, without any reward whatever, but, rather, because of his natural love of accomplishment and the satisfaction he derives from the pursuit of worthwhile goals.  Let us append to Premise C the Fundamental Premise of Chapter 1.  Further, let us assume that every undiminished person, i.e., not feeble-minded, is capable of becoming reasonable.  Premise A is in conflict with Premise B and Premise C.  Premise C places even more demands upon the goodness of man than does Premise B.  In this essay, we shall determine if the conflict between Premise A and Premise C can be resolved by defining a new set of values that transcends our old way of looking at society.  The question we want to address here is: How good does man have to be to satisfy Premise C, which is the natural successor to Premise B, the premise of Marx?  We shall try to determine that Premise C is “good enough” whereas Premise B is not.  [The introduction of these abstract terms might be most useful in scientific surveys of young people (or any group of people) who have picked up from their parents (or from society in general) prejudicial viewpoints toward economic systems with descriptive names.]

The Importance of Goodness

Whether the ultimate destiny of man, here or in a hypothetical hereafter, is influenced by a deity or not, goodness, i.e., good behavior, behavior consistent with the moral system described in Chapter 3, is desirable from the viewpoints of reasonableness, aesthetics, and utility.  I have already stated that I believe reasonableness enjoys an intimate relationship with aesthetics, which might even be the ultimate intimacy, namely, being the same thing.  But, goodness appeals most directly to aesthetics and utility.  We love to contemplate goodness whenever and wherever we perceive it, and we find it useful besides.  Evil is ugly and inconvenient.  Thus, we don’t need a god in order to want to be good and to want to surround ourselves with other people who want to be good.  Our survival as a species depends, not only on our being good, but being much better than we have been in the past.  Of course, I am referring to our behavior; I have already said that I don’t think there is anything intrinsically wrong with us.  We just seem to have gotten onto the wrong path somewhere.

Satisfying Premise B without Being Good Enough

Premise A is predicated upon self-interest, which is clearly deficient from the point of view of goodness, as all of us know intuitively, whatever we profess.  But, Premise B leaves something to be desired too, namely, that we expect to get something back in return for what we do.  We expect everyone to pull his (or her) weight to the best of his ability and we are disappointed, to say the least, if they do not.  “From each according to his ability; to each according to his need.”  However, people are very different one from the other.  It is not our business to judge what is correct for our fellow man (although the reader may feel that I am indulging in that business to a marked degree).  Some people can contribute; others cannot.  Premise B is still deficient from the point of view of goodness.  Jesus advised us not to be concerned about what we get.  “Your Father in Heaven knows what things ye have need of.”  Why is it that people believe in God, but they don’t believe in Goodness? – I keep asking.

What Is and What Is Not Required To Satisfy Premise C?

In one way, Premise C is more demanding.  It requires that we give without worrying about whether or not we will receive.  On the other hand, it confers more freedom.  “From each according to his inclinations; to each according to his need.”  But does it require perfection?  I think not.  Suppose, for a moment, that I am given to rash impulse buying on my credit card.  Soon I have developed a bad credit picture.  Must I be good enough to curb this destructive appetite by force of will alone?  Certainly not.  In a moment of lucidity I may destroy the credit card and call the issuer to cancel my account.  I have removed the danger by contriving to alter my personal social institutions.  (Never mind, for now, that I can’t rent a car.  I’ll get around that another way.)  This shows that one can do in cold blood what one may not be able to do under the pressure of an emotional situation.  (The reason that we are horrified by a “cold-blooded killer” is that we all know that we expect to do the right thing when we are not emotionally exercised.)  This is all that is required to alter our institutions to remove corrupting influences from society.

Suppose two companies, by coincidence, are manufacturing physically identical, but chemically different, unmarked bars of soap in an economy that has already recognized that packaging soap contributes unacceptably to the volume of waste.  Manufacturer Y, whose bar uses less expensive ingredients, can easily introduce his soap into the consumer pipeline as an impostor for that of manufacturer X.  Must he have enough integrity to change the shape of his bars or otherwise mark them to avoid letting Y-soap be sold as X-soap, presumably, at a higher price?  Of course not.  Under Premise C everything is free, so manufacturer Y has nothing to lose by changing the shape of his bars.  It’s the right thing to do and the changes he must make to his manufacturing process are free too.  For that matter, he may decide to improve the quality of his soap and the formula used by X is a matter of public record.  He may, in fact, decide that he can provide greater variety to the public by making a slightly different product.  The necessity to sacrifice an advantage to himself isn’t even in the picture.

Suppose a man’s neighbor’s wife throws herself at him.  Must he renounce personal pleasure to avoid causing his neighbor distress in the event that the neighbor should find out what has happened?  He does not have to be good enough to renounce pleasure under these circumstances to satisfy Premise C.  How then can a society be built on an economic premise that is no better than this?  In the first place, the situation is not likely to arise in a society where nothing can be gained by deliberately creating an image of sexual attractiveness in order to sell vanity products.  In a society where sexual repression is not part of the moral code, the need for special events to satisfy sexual appetites is less likely to arise.  Sexuality is normalized.  Sexual taboos exacerbate sexual frustration, which, in turn, leads to undesirable behavior, just as the prohibition of drug taking leads to excesses in the use of drugs.  There is less reason why the man should want his neighbor’s wife, nor do the circumstances exist to make the husband of her neighbor more attractive to the woman.  Sex is no longer an arena for competition.  [Note (5-27-06).  This is somewhat inconsistent with my later thinking, which see.]  The economic conditions have been abolished that could lead to marital disorder due to the business activities of any of the principals.  And, finally, it is possible that marriage as we know it may no longer be considered rational once the superstitions that are used to reinforce the work ethic have been removed.

A representative of a small community is asked to make arrangements with the operators of a water conservation project that provides water for the community.  He is forced to make some concessions that may not be favorable to all of the members of the community.  Does he have to be good enough not to disguise the true circumstances under which the concessions were made in order to enhance his likelihood of being re-elected to the post of representative?  No, because he will not serve again as representative in any case.  The new representative will be chosen randomly.  He has only to be honest under circumstances that will have no effect on his well-being, except that he will most certainly gain more respect by being honest than by prevaricating.

It is easy to give examples like these, but to complete the case I would have to provide an exhaustive list.  These few examples should illustrate how one might carry this out.  The important point is that man does not have to ask God to deliver him from temptation; he can deliver himself from temptation.  He is good enough to satisfy the requirements of this system of morals without further evolution.

10. Living in harmony with Nature brings out the best in Human Nature.

Many scientists believe that our love of natural beauty has evolved because of the ecological importance of leaving Nature undisturbed; however, the two major monotheistic religions come from a part of the world that is hard to live in.  Perhaps it’s hard to appreciate its natural beauty too.  This could account for their choices of religions that do not encourage respect for the environment nearly so much as the religions they replaced, namely, pantheism and paganism.  After all, if there is a god living in every stream and every tree, it might be harder to despoil it for one’s own purpose than if there were one abstract god who, regardless of what is taught, is always thought of as being somewhere else.  One could surmise, then, that environmental destruction is more an artifact of one’s tribal religion than an innate characteristic of human nature.  If, in fact, monotheism is the only religion that permits man to ignore the local gods of Nature, then it is no wonder that Capitalism became an artifact of monotheism, as no other political economy could leave Nature less undisturbed.

July 28, 2007

11. Everywhere I look the intrinsic harmony of Nature is apparent.

It is apparent that the author believes in the intrinsic harmony of Nature. This appears to be a religious tenet.

12. We assume Socrates, or his modern surrogates, can spread truth from person to person on a one-to-one basis.

Every person in the world is separated from truth by at most “six degrees”.  This is the six-degrees-of-separation idea that claims every person in the world is separated from every other person by only five people, numbered two through six, the original subject knows Person 2, who knows Person 3, etc.  I can relate myself to the most outlandish people imaginable by fewer degrees than that.  Take the bat boy for the Boston Red Socks, a baseball team.  I know a girl who dated Ted William, who must have met at least one of the current active Red Socks, who knows the bat boy.  I could work the same trick for someone famous – Yasser Arafat, say.

Unfortunately, spreading wisdom like Socrates, walking about engaging in discourse, suffers from the same difficulty as do “pyramid clubs”.  Eventually, no new people can be found as we keep running into the same people.  Our case has the merit, though, that ideas can spread like wildfire as they do not run into cash-flow problems – as do televangelists and Ponzi schemers.  I will have more to say about spreading these ideas in Chapter 12, the last chapter in the book.

On Knowledge

13. The laws of physics are reasonably invariant for all practical purposes.

As discussed above, the fundamental laws of physics are not changing under the pressure of inquiry.  Nor, do they vary between Detroit and Cleveland – nor between Christmas and New Years Eve.

14. Faith in reasoning:  The fundamental laws of reasoning (logic) as expressed by set theory, sentential calculus, symbolic logic, etc. are reliable.

15. Macrofacts are reliable; microfacts are unreliable.

Iraq is a country in the Middle East.  The ruler is a man called Saddam Hussein.  If I wish, I can find out if he is left-handed or right-handed.  These I term macrofacts.  They can be discovered by anyone and they may be believed without reservation.  If I am told what was said to Saddam by our ambassador, how Saddam came to power, what his intentions have been toward Saudi Arabia, I am inclined to discount what is said one-hundred percent.  These are microfacts.  They involve details that are difficult if not impossible to verify.

I am reminded of a rather longish passage in One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Márquez:

Tormented by the certainty that he was his wife’s brother, Aureliano ran out of the parish house to search through the moldy and moth-eaten archives for some clue to his parentage.  The oldest baptismal certificate that he found was that of Amaranta Buendia, baptized in adolescence by Father Nicanor Reyna during the time he was trying to prove the existence of God by means of tricks with chocolate.  He began to have the feeling that he was one of the seventeen Aurelianos, whose birth certificates he tracked down as he went through four volumes, but the baptism dates were too far back for his age.  Seeing him lost in the labyrinths of kinship, trembling with uncertainty, the arthritic priest, who was watching him from his hammock, asked him compassionately what his name was.

“Aureliano Buendia,” he said.

“Then don’t wear yourself out searching,” the priest exclaimed with final conviction.  “Many years ago there used to be a street with that name and in those days people had the custom of naming their children after streets.”

Aureliano trembled with rage.

“So, he said, “You don’t believe it either.”

“Believe what?”

“That Colonel Aureliano Buendia fought thirty-two civil wars and lost them all,” Aureliano answered.  “That the army hemmed in and machine-gunned three thousand workers and that their bodies were carried off to be thrown into the sea on a train with two hundred cars.”

The priest measured him with a pitying look.

“Oh, my son,” he signed.  “It’s enough for me to be sure that you and I exist at this moment.”

The priest has no faith whatever in microfacts and in only the most essential macrofacts.  He is an agnostic of the strictest sort.  He might accept the existence of a country called Iraq but without commitment and only in a case of absolute necessity.  He holds himself to higher standards than I – even.  I am gullible compared to the priest; nevertheless, my conservatism with respect to our knowledge of the past ought to satisfy the most skeptical among us.  I have retained as articles of faith statements about events that are believed by nearly everyone without reservation.  Certainly, I am entitled to state as proven a great deal more than I have staked a claim to – in particular, the theories on human motivation are entitled to a more dignified position than I have claimed for them.  The world W′ is more than hypothetical.

16. We assume that we may enlarge our knowledge of the world by the evidence of the senses (perhaps enhanced by scientific instruments) and logic.

How We Obtain Knowledge

We have agreed upon the existence of some sort of objective reality.  Also, we agree that we ourselves exist, as do the events that take place in our minds.  Thus, we may rely upon the experiences we have of the world through the evidence of the senses.  Also, we may extend and amplify our senses by employing various scientific instruments.  We understand that radio waves received by giant receptors are part of our experience.  Most of us learn through reasoning and judgment applied to observations, which should be generalized to include sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell, and cognizance of psychical events in our own minds.  From time to time, scientists and others perform what are known as experiments.  Experiments involve observations, but they also involve various contrivances that determine what is observed.  Some experiments are useful, others are not.

Clearly, faculties other than reason are employed to help us determine what to observe.  For that matter, it is not absolutely clear what it is that makes us decide to take the next step in a line of reasoning.  Thus, we do not wish to deny the existence of faculties other than our powers of reasoning, our judgment, and our physical senses.  (Most scientists employ methodologies that are far from the neat little “scientific methods” taught to school children.  Many people would be amazed at how chaotic the process of “doing” science really is.)  It is not my intention to discuss the nature of intuition here.  Many people believe intuition comes only from experience.  The point that I wish to make here is that, in the determination of public policy, only reason and the evidence of the senses may be applied directly even if divine inspiration played a role in constructing the line of reasoning we employ.  We may not enter as evidence, in a debate over public policy, divine revelation, conversations with a deity, or any irrational process.  These things may or may not exist (irrational processes certainly exist) and may or may not aid observation and reasoning, but they may not replace them.

Nor do we require the introduction of “supernatural” faculties to enhance our ability to make judgments about the nature of the world, modulo uncertainty, or to make decisions as to the conduct of our own lives.  Applying only the evidence of our senses and our reasoning, we can defend a comprehension of objective truth that is substantial enough that people can embrace it without fear of diminishing themselves as human beings, that is, without fear of becoming less human.  We can reap the benefits of knowledge and understanding and we do not have to believe anything that would trouble a reasonable mind – except for a few points in quantum theory that won’t affect this thesis.  I have attempted to define what I mean by external truth in the last chapter.

When I say “modulo uncertainty”, I am saying something that has a definite technical meaning in terms of the thinking of Heisenberg and Gödel.  I am recognizing that some things are naturally unknowable.  In modulo arithmetic, we neglect certain differences between numbers.  We say two equals four modulo two and that eight o’clock is eight o’clock every day whether it be AM or PM when we use an old-fashioned clock that tells time modulo twelve.  (If it is 10am and we wish to know what time it will be in six hours, we add 6 to 10 to get 16.  Then we neglect multiples of 12, in this case 12 itself, to get 4PM; i.e., 10 + 6 -12 = 4.)  What I mean by modulo uncertainty is that two interpretations of an event that differ only with respect to the unknowable or the undecidable are logically equivalent; i.e., we neglect the unknowable or undecidable.  We believe, for example, that we cannot ascertain both the position and momentum of an electron nor will it ever be possible to deduce that the laws of arithmetic are consistent; nevertheless, we must assume that the things we need to know for the purposes of this discussion can be known.

This work is based on faith in our ability to understand reality, as well as it can be understood, employing observation, including observation of the events that occur in our own minds, and reasoning alone, without the aid of the supernatural or special mystical revelation, rejecting completely the direct applicability of personal divine revelation to public affairs, whether or not intuition or divine inspiration plays a role in what we choose to observe or how we reason.  It should not be construed, however, that the exact procedure according to which reasoning, intuition, experiment, and observation interact during the scientific creative process is well understood.  We are reminded by Lakatos [13] and Popper [14] that we learn from our mistakes; we employ the method of proofs and refutations (or – more simply stated – trial and error).

As a corollary of the position that experimentation and observation, i.e., the evidence of the senses, and reason are adequate to understand the facts of reality, we must assume that modern man is in a better position to assess reality than were the ancients.  While it is possible, even certain, that facts formally known have been irretrievably lost, we should not make use of unsupported statements and predictions found in books written by authors who belong to the pre-scientific eras.  Unless someone can demonstrate the mechanism by which a biblical prophet was able to understand the nature of conflict in the Middle East in 1990, we would be foolish indeed to base our national policy upon it, as some members of the clergy imply we should do.  We simply have to assume that we are in a better position now to assess events in the world than was ancient man, claims to divine guidance notwithstanding.

The Role of Knowledge in Education

In education we should be concerned primarily with (i) learning how to think, (ii) the languages, including music and mathematics, and, lastly and least importantly, (iii) some knowledge of true facts – excluding biased propaganda inserted into curricula to ensure a supply of well-behaved, docile workers – true facts such as the location of Singapore, how sulfuric acid is made, the latest theories in physics and their logical predecessors and their history, as well as similar points of interest.  All of this must constitute a body of true statements, which were defined in Chapter 3.  There is no place for falsity in education.  It is one thing to explain all sides of an open question and quite another to present one of them as though it were true.  Of course, acquaintance with a reasonable portion of the world’s great works of art and literature might be subsumed under (ii), but this is something that we will arrange to do on our own, seeking the guidance of true artists when we get to know them.

A Minimal Proper Religion

17. To avoid infinite regression, we assume that aesthetics, reasonableness (or reason), and utility are a valid guide for making philosophical judgments.  We recognize that judgments that satisfy these tests may not be infallible.

This was established in Chapter 1 in the section “Building a Philosophy and Establishing a Social Contract”.

18. Never to be conceived creatures have no philosophical status or rights.  All other creatures are non-comparable.

Let us consider for a moment the philosophical meaning or status of a never to be conceived living creature as opposed to a being yet to be conceived, e.g., posterity.  Upon reflection, we agree that, even taking into account the quantum theory, a never to be conceived human being is a meaningless concept in the context of the pro-choice/pro-life debate.  He lives in a so-called parallel universe.  The understanding of the universe in which we actually live is proving to be an insurmountable task.  We have no basis for making the first judgment in a parallel universe as everything there might be different.  To say that, “If Einstein’s parents had not met, the theory of relativity would have been discovered by someone else” may have meaning to me; but, “If Einstein’s parents had not met, the universe would have no planetary systems that could support life” is just as meaningful philosophically.  The point is: Einstein’s parents did meet.  The statement, “If Einstein’s father had conceived a child of Marie Curie, we would have a Grand Unified Field Theory” is meaningless too.  The never conceived child of Einstein’s father and Pierre Curie’s wife has no status philosophically.

Fig. 4-1.  Closeness in potentiality of five identifiable objects.

I would like to show that, if one is concerned about the potentiality of a human zygote, one must be nearly as concerned about the combination event of a sperm about to collide with an egg, shown in the small box in Fig. 4-1.  This event may evolve into a zygote or, with a much greater probability, it may evolve into a reflected sperm and an unpenetrated egg (a “miss”), which is philosophically equivalent to a never to be conceived human being.  Thus, the formation of a zygote is an event that is close to an imminent collision between a sperm and an egg in space-time, but the two events may not be close in terms of potentiality.  Nevertheless, what is taken to be close in terms of potentiality is arbitrary and the two events in question may be close enough in the judgment of a reasonable person that he makes no moral judgment.  (As in the well-known joke, the million-dollar prostitute and the five-dollar prostitute differ only in degree not in principle.)  Once we have established that the potentiality of an imminent collision is close to the potentiality of a zygote, we may dismiss our concern over the potentiality of the zygote because the potentiality of the imminent collision is even closer to the potentiality of a “miss”, which has no human potential at all.  (If A is close to C and B is close to C, then A is close to B.  (Careful analysts will notice that this applies only in a realm under consideration where distance is defined, which may not be the case in the realm of human potentiality; therefore, the remark retains metaphorical content only.))  An imminent collision is also close in potentiality to all of the unejaculated sperm and unovulated eggs until the end of time.  The situation is represented in Fig. 4-1.  It would be madness to be concerned about their potential humanity because the number of potential humans lost would be an astronomical number that would dwarf in magnitude the sum total of all other events in the history of humanity.

Let us estimate the number of lost potential human beings to date.  Suppose we assume that half the people who have ever lived are alive now.  Further assume, conservatively, that each human has only twenty years of potential procreativity.  Finally suppose that each female has 1 egg per month ´ 12 months per year ´ 20 years = 240 eggs and each male is capable of ejaculating 367.5 million sperm, which is about average, five days a week for twenty years, i.e., 5 ´ 52 ´ 20 ´ 3.675E108 = 1.911E1012 sperm.  Since every sperm may have combined with any one of the eggs depending upon accidents of birth etc., we have 5.0E109 males ´ 1.911E1012 sperm per male ´ 5E109 females ´ 240 eggs per female = 1.15E1034 potential humans per generation.  Suppose my result is too high by a factor of a ten thousand.  We must still contemplate ten to the thirtieth power potential humans who could have been born but were not born.  That’s a million million million million million.  We don’t mean that they all could have been born, but that any one of them could have been born.  (We haven’t even taken into account all the possible ways in which the genetic material of the gametes may combine, each combination representing a different potential human being.)  The only concern we need to have concerning these potential human beings is that some people may try to arrange for more of them to be born to satisfy the yearnings of childless couples, for love or money; and, of course, to satisfy the insatiable curiosity and greed of biological researchers.  The proverb states:  “Anything that can be done will be done.”  Clearly, the human race can prevent some things from being done in unacceptable ways.  Dissatisfied individuals are beginning to flex their muscles.  Mock trials, to provide circuses for the people, are not a factor in this equation, which is about little people fighting powerful interests any way they can.  I do not threaten; I predict, only, that we shall see much more of this and on a much greater scale.

I regret that I must leave up to human judgment the closeness in potential to becoming a human being of (1) an imminent collision (between a sperm and an egg) and of (2) being a zygote.  I suppose that this is at the cutting edge of the debate.  Some will say that the potentiality of the zygote is, in fact, certainty, i.e., that a zygote is a human being.  I find it far-fetched to imagine that a human being is a one-celled creature or that a one-celled creature is a human being.  If we could agree that it is not, it would be easy to argue that an extremely undeveloped fetus is not a human being either.  I believe that in order to have a soul one must have memories, hopes, dreams, and reflections; and in order to be considered a human being one must have a soul.  Thus, in my philosophy, zygotes and very young fetuses are not human beings even though they are human zygotes and fetuses.  (To avoid the difficulty with the word being I could refer to a human person instead, as I recognize animals as people, but, of course, not human – fortunately.)

The religionists, on the other hand, believe that the soul has supernatural origins and can be implanted in the fetus without the fetus having had experiences.  But, the imposition of religious beliefs upon the general public is precisely what is prohibited in the first clause of the First Amendment.  The second clause protects the free exercise of religion, which guarantees that no one may be required to have an abortion, but it also guarantees us the right to take the drugs of our choice.  In my opinion, the reason that the nation is so screwed up is that people making important decisions have not taken enough drugs.  Imagine that!  (“Turn on; tune in; and drop out!”)

August 13, 1992

19. Newcomers to this world have a right to expect to find a rational society governed by rational morals.

This was stated in Chapter 1 in the section on the social contract.

20. Human beings belong to themselves.  No one can assign an extrinsic purpose to another individual.

This was established in Chapter 3.

21. We agree that our laws, if we have any, should be congruent with rational morals.  If we do not have laws, our behavior should be governed by rational morals with which we have been indoctrinated as small (pre-reason) children.

This is proved in some of my older essays.  Also, it was argued in Chapter 1.

22. We accept the three moral axioms including the definition of “imposing upon the freedom of another human social link”.

The prohibition of business and commerce (and the concomitant introduction of wealth-sharing) is the only aspect of my moral axioms upon which I expect widespread disagreement.  Even the reasoning about one child per person (the Token Theorem) will be widely accepted soon enough that the population will stabilize at ten billion by 2050 – I hope.

Definition (“imposing upon the freedom of another human social link”).  If an action interferes with the freedom of another social link, but it would not if the members of that link adjusted their mental outlooks appropriately without any other adjustment being made, no violation of Axiom 1 has occurred; i.e., this is not a case of “imposing upon the freedom of another human social link”.  Only if the victim’s outlook is irrelevant, is the perpetrator guilty of “imposing upon the freedom of another social link”.  The point is that we disallow imaginary offenses.

Comment.  The previous definition explains why this code of morals forbids trade and so-called reproductive rights, but does not forbid taking drugs and having whatever forms of sex one pleases (so long as an axiom be not violated).  An extremely compelling reason for accepting my interpretation of the Freedom Axiom as opposed to the interpretation of the Libertarian Party, say, is that my interpretation eliminates all, or at worst nearly all, of the problems that plague society, whereas the interpretation that tolerates commerce, for example, exacerbates them.  It is no use claiming that the prohibition of business is tyranny, because, if anyone engages in business, no one is free.  This will be proved by explicit examples in the sequel, even though the a priori reasoning given in Chapter 3 is conclusive.  (“It is impossible to provide an excessive number of proofs of a proposition that no one believes.”)

23. We assume our three moral axioms can be used in a reasonable fashion to define rights and, in turn, justice.

This is obvious and, for that matter, we have done it.  It could be dropped as an assumption.

Definition (Rights)Rights are (i) freedoms that don’t violate accepted morals and (ii) entitlements that are guaranteed by accepted morals.

Definition (Justice).  Justice is the state of human society wherein one of two conditions prevails: (i) all relevant moral requirements have been met or (ii) in case there has been a breach of morals the following events have occurred: (a) the damage due to the breach of morals has been repaired and restitution has been made to the victim(s) and (b) the violator has been dealt with in an appropriate manner, which might not involve punishment or revenge.

24. We assume that all rational morals can be derived from our three moral axioms without grey areas arising.  Such morals will be consistent and withstand the tests of aesthetics, reasonableness, and utility.

In this essay we assume that a rational code of morals can be derived from the three basic moral axioms presented in Chapter 3 and that that code of morals can be the basis of, if not identical with, the laws that govern society, which laws, as discussed above might be derived automatically by an inference engine, perhaps as the need arises, i.e., to determine if a proposed action is legal or not.  This would eliminate the need for lawyers, legislators, and, for all practical purposes, judges.  (It is difficult to see, though, how we could dispense with individual good judgment any time soon, nor do I see any reason why we should want to.  It is more likely that we could dispense with the inference engine.  One of the functions of an education is to facilitate the congruence of individual judgments with the dictates of reason.)  In a modern world with humanized, low-energy technology, people can make their wishes known on any question of public procedure directly, by means of a computer and a modem (or even a touch-tone phone, which might as well be a computer); they do not need representatives to vote for them.  [Lately (1991), Rob Lewis [15] has posed an objection to this idea, but I don’t think his objection would be insurmountable in a cooperative society.]

25. We reject arbitrary, personal, or taboo morality as a basis for public policy.

We have said enough about this already.  What is more to the point, many other authors have said even more.  Bertrand Russell solved the problem of sexual prudery decades ago.  My essays on drugs in Vol. 1 of Ref. 2 and occasional comments on sex should help.  At this writing I do not know if there will be an essay on sex in Vol. II or III of my collected papers [3].  Obviously, my moral system does not consider sex immoral unless the Freedom Axiom or the Truth Axiom be violated.  I hesitate to give an example of how far I will go in my sexual permissiveness, as I can offend nearly every twentieth-century person with my wildly inventive liberal imagination.

26. Unverified events whether taking place exclusively in the Universe, our Minds, in the realm of the Ideals, or in the Relations or not are excluded from the discussion of public policy – just as they would be discarded as evidence in a legal hearing.

Any knowledge based on events that cannot be replicated or observed by impartial observers under any circumstances whatever are to be excluded from discussion of public policy.  This prohibits the introduction into public policy of the miracles ascribed to certain religious figures and the religions or religious beliefs based upon them.

Social Change

27. We shall assume that a social system that retains residual institutionalized injustice is unacceptable as a basis for permanence.

A social system that retains residual institutionalized injustice must be rejected as an ideal.  If we can show that injustice, at least institutionalized injustice, can be eliminated, then we must not rest until the goal of eliminating institutionalized injustice is achieved.  It is unacceptable to say, “The world is unfair,” as though it always will be.  One of the primary goals of mankind should be to ensure justice for everyone, everywhere, including plants and animals, therefore it was necessary to define justice as the state of human society wherein one of two conditions prevails: (1) all relevant moral requirements have been met or (2) in case there has been a breach of morals, the following events have occurred: (a) the damage due to the breach of morals has been repaired and restitution has been made to the victim(s) and (b) the violator has been dealt with suitably.  Injustice is deviation from justice.

Condition 2b of the definition of justice raises the question of punishment and revenge.  Undoubtedly, revenge is the least attractive feature of the concept of justice.  We would prefer not to see the issue arise.  Usually, it represents a foolish attempt to make a “right” out of two “wrongs”.  In Chapter 3, we discussed at length the meaning of “dealt with suitably” under each of the following circumstances: (i) the transgressor accepts our moral code and (ii) he (or she) does not.

28. I assume that at least one hypothetical feasible path of constant improvement connects this society with a cooperative (ideal) society.

This is an extremely important assumption and I make it in the first person.  Further, I assume that our present world, W, is already the same as the world  in which the theories of Deci and Ryan hold or theories close enough for our purposes obtain.  Further, as soon as the overwhelming majority of people accept these assumptions or equivalent ones, this world will have evolved into W, which is the name we give to such a world.  Later on we shall attempt to prove that this world can evolve into W if and only if we abandon materialism, therefore the reader should scrutinize these assumptions carefully and, in addition, look for hidden assumptions.

Human Society in Historical Times

At this point in the essay I wish to make an important observation, which, if it is in doubt, will have to be considered an assumption.  If it is not self-evident, it is a crucial assumption as I shall base about half of my political philosophy upon it.  To wit: the history of human society can be characterized by two major tendencies.  (The first tendency is the seemingly endless cycles of corruption and revolution, i.e., government becoming sufficiently corrupt that revolution, usually under the guidance and perhaps genius of a charismatic leader, is the only reasonable course.  “Every revolution is hopeless until the night before it occurs.”  The tyranny, however entrenched, is overthrown and a new and more just regime takes power.  Regrettably, power corrupts and yesterday’s charismatic and heroic leader becomes the new tyrant who quite generally needs to be overthrown himself (or occasionally herself) after a not very long period of relative grace.  This is an unsatisfactory way of carrying on for all the obvious reasons.

Fig. 4-2.  The Spiral of History.

The second major tendency is the overthrow of one conservative doctrine after another.  This may, in fact, represent overall long-term improvement or it may not.  The overthrow of the conservative doctrine that heavier than air devices will not fly has not been particularly felicitous from my view although I am certain that the majority will disagree with me even after reading Chapter 2.

The combination of these two tendencies ensures that history does not repeat itself as indicated in Figure 4-2.

Problems and Solutions

Every problem that is stated in such a way that it makes sense can be resolved satisfactorily in one of several ways: (i) by proving that no solution exists, (ii) by finding a unique solution, (iii) by showing that multiple solutions exist, determining how many, whether it be a finite or infinite number, and exhibiting some or all of the solutions.  A less satisfactory resolution is to show that we will never know whether a solution exists or not.  A solution might exist, but the probability of finding it might be zero.  All the levels of uncertainty above and beyond that level of uncertainty represent increasingly less desirable resolutions of the problem.

Schumacher [16] engages in a lengthy discussion concerning what he calls convergent and divergent problems.  Divergent problems are presumed to have no clear-cut solution; they are in what we call the “grey area”.  Divergent problems arise because of trade-offs one is forced to make between irreconcilable opposing principles, such as the principle of law and order and the principle of freedom.  I believe in divergent solutions, but I do not believe in divergent problems.  I believe these conflicts arise because one is employing the wrong principles or one is employing the right principles but the principles have not been stated sufficiently sharply.  I believe that, outside of mathematical constructions, one can always find a higher principle with which one can adjudicate unambiguously between opposing lower principles.  Principles conflict because we are not employing the right principles.  True divergent problems, in the sense of Schumacher, turn out to arise from trying to do things that should not be done.  This requires a tremendous leap of faith, equivalent to belief in God even.  No proof of this is forthcoming.  The best we can do is give as many examples as possible to show how the principle works in practice.  In Chapter 3, I stated that my system of three moral axioms eliminates grey areas.  However, the reader is invited to construct a thought experiment (hypothetical circumstance) that is not covered by my moral system.  Then, as an exercise, he may show that he is mistaken.  Although it is no substitute for a proof, I will send a box of fruit to anyone who can stump me.  Remember, I am permitted to reject the circumstance if it could not arise in a society with no artificial economic contingency.  I offer a similar challenge with respect to “divergent problems” mutatis mutandis.

We know that one cannot trisect an arbitrary angle, in plane geometry, with the aid of a ruler and compass only.  We cannot nor will we ever.  Of course, we can trisect a 270° angle, but that is not arbitrary.  In one sense, the impossibility derives from the fact that there is no integer that when multiplied by three equals two raised to an integer power; i.e., there is no integer N (....-3,-2,-1,0,1,2,3,....) such that 3N equals two squared, or two cubed, etc.  In another sense, the impossibility is of the same nature as the impossibility of being dealt five aces from a standard 52-card deck.  We cannot solve nor will we ever be able to solve arbitrary quintic polynomial equations and polynomial equations of higher degree by simple rational processes such as we use to find the roots of quadratic equations, that is, by adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, and taking roots.  (Of course we can solve x5 - 1 = 0, which is not an arbitrary quintic polynomial.)  We have proofs of the two impossibilities mentioned.

However, no proof has ever been supplied for the impossibility of performing a given physical feat, let alone solving a social problem.  Even travel faster than the speed of light in a vacuum, which is supposed to be a fundamental constant of the universe, depends on the correctness of this extremely crucial (assumed, not proven) premise of the special theory of relativity.  Although the special theory of relativity is almost certain to be overthrown eventually, this particular premise may, in fact, be true in spite of everything.  In this work, we have faith that the problems of humanity have solutions, not necessarily unique.  If someone believes that no solutions exist, he (or she) should try to supply a proof.

One Step at a Time

I believe that at least one feasible path of constant improvement exists connecting this society with a cooperative society.  The nonexistence of that path requires a proof.  Such nonexistence proofs are very difficult to find, however.  If we construct such a feasible path, even in a valid thought experiment, we will have proved its existence within the space of all possible worlds in space-time.

This path of constant improvement can be traversed by a long series of small steps.  The end, normally, does not justify the means, therefore each step should be an improvement.  Thus, we should not permit leaders to guide us on this path.  Strong leadership would be a step backward and any leader may become dangerously strong if we rely upon him or her.  We must rely upon ourselves – sharing responsibility equally and isocratically according to the methods outlined in this thesis.  A generic world-bettering plan described in the text is assumed to be possible under this restriction.  There are no “divergent” problems (in the sense of Schumacher).  (This is a huge assumption and I make it in the first-person singular.)  More than any other assumption, this assumption requires a leap of faith – in humanity.  Thus, this philosophy, like every humanistic philosophy, is essentially – a religion – a minimal proper religion.  We shall require a Grand Social Experiment to see if it might be true; but, if the first such experiment fails, we shall have to try again.  Any other course is unacceptable to me and to some of my fellow humanists.

When the End Does Not Justify the Means

[A] corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. – Matthew 7:17

It is an article of faith in this system that the end does not justify the means if the means be evil.  Jeremy Bentham [12] takes the idea that the end justifies the means to be a fallacy of confusion that appeals to judgment (ad judicium), i.e., to bad judgment, except under the following conditions, all of which must be satisfied: (i) the end be good, (ii) the means be either purely good, or, if evil, having less evil in them on a balance than there is of real good in the end, and (iii) the means have more of good in them, or less of evil, as the case may be, than any others which might have been used to attain the end – to quote Bentham loosely.  I have some difficulty in accepting (ii) and (iii).  I do not see how the evil in the means can be compared to the good in the ends nor how the evil in one set of measure can be compared to the evil in another in the general case.  The deeds of men are not a partially ordered set in the mathematical sense and, therefore, the relations “less than”, “greater than”, and “equal to” do not make sense when applied to them.  Under very special circumstances, for example, when the end is to save the lives of n men and the means is to sacrifice the lives of m men, where m is less than n, the conditions apply for the very reason that they do not apply in the general case, namely, that human beings do not belong to partially ordered sets either, so it is not possible to assert that the lesser number of men can be superior or worth more than the greater number.  In the absence of any way to evaluate the worth of the men, one must assume that it is better for fewer to die than for more to die, all other things being equal.

I take it as an article of faith, and, I suppose it must be considered an article of religious faith, that good does not proceed from evil, that the spiritual nature of man is such that the results of evil acts are generally even more evil.  I cannot prove this.  It is merely an empirical law to which I cannot recall seeing an exception.  Let’s look at an example.  While it is true that prohibition permitted the ruling class to become more integrated racially, I do not perceive this as a good upon close inspection, as the existence of the ruling class is itself an evil, despite the fact that no race has a better right to belong to it than another.  Thus, each apparently worthwhile end that justifies evil means turns out, on close inspection, to be corrupt.  That is what I believe.

A Generic Evolutionary World-Bettering Plan

Given that it has been decided that our social-political-economic system is to evolve into a system that will provide a permanent basis upon which we can build, it is necessary only to characterize the nature of our world-bettering plan.  The four tasks that must be accomplished to initiate any evolutionary world-bettering plan are: (i) characterizing the tentative “ideal” or target world, which is provisional and subject to updates, (ii) proving by thought experiments, computer simulations, sociological experiments, and by construction that there exists a feasible path of gradual and continuous improvement (actually, upon close inspection, a large number of jumps, most of which would be characterized as quantum leaps in the vernacular) connecting this world with the ideal world, (iii) convincing people that the results of (i) and (ii) are correct, and (iv) embarking upon the path.  Without an ideal to which we can refer we would never know what the next social change should be since we would never know if we were getting closer to the ideal or not, the views of Popper refuted in Chapter 1 notwithstanding.  I favor social evolution through thousands of small, but significant, changes, of which all are in the right direction.  [Actually, some of the changes I recommend, e.g., canceling all foreign debt, would not be characterized as small by most people; but, in terms of the complete history of humanity, they would have to be considered small.]  As discussed above, I do not believe that the end justifies the means.  Also, the process must be adaptive, i.e., sensitive to new information.  The evolution of this badly flawed world into an “ideal” world, then, is the means by which the problems of mankind are to be solved.  In this work, it is assumed that this is possible.

The World W*

The (hypothetical) world where all of the preceding assumptions are accepted or believed to be true, whichever is appropriate, by nearly all of the people or, if possible, have been proved to be true is known as W*.  In W*, assumptions touching upon the actual state of affairs in the universe have been tested and found to have a high probability of being true.  In Chapter 5, we shall attempt to prove that this world W, assumed to be the same as W′, can evolve into W* if and only if we abandon materialism.  I hope that the reader of this book will conclude that this statement is true and act accordingly.  I hope to change first your minds then your lives.  W is a world that involves assumptions about human nature, assumptions that are capable of being proved or falsified.  W* is a world that depends somewhat upon what is true, but it depends to a much greater extent upon what people believe – about what people believe is permitted as well as what people believe is so, in short, what people are willing to agree upon.

The World W″

The world W″ is a hypothetical world that resembles W′ , except that in W″ three additional conditions are met.  We have no idea if these conditions will be satisfied ever, let alone by 2030 or 2050 when we shall desperately need them to be satisfied.  Otherwise we are looking at unspeakable misery in the near future.  To determine if these conditions can be met and, then, to meet them should be the primary preoccupation of the present generation.  The vast differences in the nature of the assumptions or evidence that lead to the worlds W, W*, and W″ should be obvious to the reader.  The characteristics of W″, then, are:

1.   The Characteristics of W

2.   A Stable (Human) Population

The population will be stable at about ten billion human beings or, preferably, closer to the optimum population size, i.e., a sufficient number of people that succor from one’s fellows is available when needed, not so many people that the quality of individual lives is appreciably reduced, the opportunity for as many people as possible, consistent with the previous two conditions, to be able to enjoy the blessings of having been alive.

3.   Adequate High-Grade Renewable (Sustainable) Energy

In W″, renewable energy technology adequate to provide the energy per capita equivalent to one kilowatt-hour per hour of 110-volt 60 Hz AC will be available.  This is the standard for emergy calculations, therefore we have one emergy unit per hour per capita.

4.   Sufficiency of One Kilowatt Per Capita Emergy Budget

We assume that every human being can live on 1 kWhr/hr – or simply an average rate of consumption of emergy units equivalent to 1 kW of 110 AC, 60-Hz electricity.  (Since this is based on power plant electricity, it represents more energy than 1 kWhr/hr.  For example, if half were coal and the rest electricity, the rate of energy consumption would be about 2 kW.)  This per capita rate of emergy consumption is assumed to be adequate for a satisfactory life wherein happiness for everyone is possible if not guaranteed.  The matching problem, providing lower grade energy to those uses for which it is adequate (optimal) so as not to lose availability converting lower-grade energy to higher-grade energy that is not needed, has been solved.  This was discussed in slightly more detail in Chapter 2.

We have no idea if these conditions can be met in time.  I must insist that to determine if these conditions can be met should be the highest priority for technological research.  Every other topic is of much less importance – unless I am badly mistaken.  It is my intention to belabor this point wherever I can and to continue to ask that this research be done even if I have to do it myself for which I would need about ten million dollars – a mere pittance.  (I estimate the manpower requirement at about 200 man-years.  I believe I could manage 100 undergraduates, graduate students, and post-docs, who must be completely committed and incapable of making the slightest uncorrected error.)  The adequacy of one kilowatt per capita of emergy has been assumed.  I can’t believe that primitive people are that much more intelligent than are we – such that they can be happy on much less than one kilowatt and we cannot be happy on one kilowatt.  I agree that I am leaving our desire to live forever out of the equation!

September 28, 1990

Revised August 13, 1992

Revised July 21, 1993

Revised completely September 24, 1995

Revised completely December 11, 1996

Revised July 3, 1997

Revised January 1, 2006


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