Sunday, October 30, 2016

Power and Community

One common saying is “power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.” That may not always be true.

One problem is that power is not the only thing that can corrupt. There are all sorts of things that can corrupt. Money can corrupt as well; but that does not mean that money is a bad thing.

Another problem is that power does not always corrupt. Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln rose to great power, but neither of them were corrupt.

What is the relationship between power and corruption? Probably the same as the relationship between alcohol and being a bad person. I've known any number of alcoholics, and some of them were bad people and some were not. If someone started out as a bad person, then becoming an alcoholic would make them an even worse person. And then there will be the cases of someone becoming a bad person as a result of alcoholism.

Same is the case with power. Some people start out being bad and get worse when they get into power. There are others who do not start out being bad, but become bad as a result of being in power.

One thing is for sure: Powerful people are not the only bad people. The world is full of all sorts of bad people. Some of them become powerful, and some do not. Nor are all powerful people bad people. Lincoln was a very powerful person, but he never abused his power.

Can power lend to all sorts of abuses? Of course. But it is not the only thing that can lend itself to abuses. Anything that has any kind of appeal to people will have all sorts of people using it for wrong. We see this with money; we see this with beauty; we see this with intelligence. None of these things are remotely bad in themselves. They can all however be used for wrong.

It is therefore important to distinguish power from abuses of power. And, yes, if someone in a position of any kind of power is being a jerk, there need to be checks upon that. This is of course the case with political power; it is also the case with private power, whether such be wielded by corporate entities, academia, media, church or community.

One ideology popular in recent times has been communitarianism. Communitarianism wants power given to communities. The problem with that approach is that such power is unelected, unofficial, unaccountable, unbalanced and unchecked. This means that there is nothing to prevent abuses of communitarian power. When left unchecked, such power can be used for very wrong things – and I have seen this done all around. That it does not come from the government means absolutely nothing to the people who come at the receiving end of the abuses. Whether the government shoots you or whether KKK shoots you, you still are getting shot.

If communities are to be made an organ of power, then it must be power that is official. Their ways and their attitudes must be codified exactly as they are and checked both by people within the community and the people outside the community in case members of community take actions that are contradictory to constitutional law. However mushy you may feel about community living, it is completely different if you come at the receiving end of abuses of communitarian power. Many communities are absolutely horrible. Giving them power empowers only such abuses.

It is correct that there be checks and balances upon government power. But the government is not the only entity capable of abuses; and private power needs to be scrutinized as readily as government power.

Does power corrupt? It can work out in any number of ways. An already corrupt person can come into power and become more corrupt. A previously decent person can come into power and let it go to his head. Or someone such as Abraham Lincoln can come into power and maintain his integrity.

With communities, I see no reason at all that such would be better than either government power or corporate power. Anything human is capable of being used for wrong. If communities are to be made organs of power, then they must be held to the same standard as is the government. Their ways have to be made official and subject to checks. None of these entities are either good or evil. Both are capable of both. If you are a libertarian, you should scrutinize communitarian power as readily as you would scrutinize government power, and you will earn your title as defenders of freedom.

Internet and Gangs

One statement I've heard one time too many is that the internet is an imaginary world. Oh yeah, so why do most businesses and all academic establishments use it? Internet is not an imaginary world. Internet is an extension of the real world. And it has found applications in just about everything. In many ways it is the greatest invention that has ever been achieved.

One major use for the internet is breaking the control of media and academic establishments. If the publishers decide to be jerks and publish nothing except politically correct propaganda, there is the Internet. If the academics turn poetry into trash and publish only poetry that is trash, there is the Internet as well.

Now for a long time Internet-based dating was discouraged; but we are now seeing the same done even by perfectly regular people. There was one situation in which a woman used the internet to run an affair. She came to the Internet saying that there are people to date, and that they are all “in the real world.” My response was, “Oh yeah, and being on the Internet prevents us from also being in the real world. We are nothing but disembodied robots who are nothing but words that come out from our keyboards. And to think that you are one of us.”

One problem that does happen on the Internet is that sometimes groups there start to act like gangsters. There was one situation in which a man had nearly beaten to death a woman for whom I had feelings, and the group supported him in his behavior. The community mindset takes over and thinks that it is more powerful than the law. This is exactly what happens in gangs. When something like that happens, it has to be checked through enforcement of the law that applies everywhere else.

Crimes on the Internet are actually quite common. I have seen many situations of slander and forgery. I have seen actions such as sending viruses to people's home computers and workplaces and posting slander about people on job networks. This happens in all closed communities, whether or not they are technological. In all these cases, it is the matter for the police.

The problem in this case is not with it being the Internet. The problem is something that happens in most communities, whether or not they be online. If people decide that someone is bad, they will do all sorts of nasty things, and some of them will be illegal. This is not the fault of the Internet. This is the fault of community mindset. The solution is not calling Internet the tool of Satan, but rather enforcing the law.

The Internet is in no way imaginary. The Internet is as real as Exxon Corporation and MIT. It is one of the greatest tools that have been ever invented. As such, it also lends itself to abuses. There are all sorts of crimes that get committed on the Internet; and then there are groups such as the Anonymous that fight these crimes.

All new things require experience in their use in order to avoid errors. The same is the case for the Internet. If gangs form on the Internet, they should be dealt with in the same way as gangs elsewhere. If someone uses the Internet to seduce 10-year-olds, then that should likewise be treated as any other crime. The Internet has had over two decades experience of use, and it has gained its place in society. Use it for rightful purposes; and if you do use it for wrongful purposes then be prepared to deal with consequences of such things as much as you would with anything else.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Prosperity and Science

I keep seeing on the sites of conservative candidates all sorts of horrible claims about Obama and others. They really think that they are the only hard-working people in America. They are fools if they think that. Scientists, doctors, and folks in the computer industry work harder than do they. For that matter so do the Mexican illegals and the Chinese.

The question these people fail to ask is “What is the root of money?” Most of what business sells comes from science, and science is a government-funded endeavor. Business has a role in it; but science has a greater role.

So you defund the academia, gut the educational system. Drive with signs that say “My son beat up your honor student.” What's going to happen? You will lose your best minds. You will render yourselves uncompetitive. Obama did not do this to you, and the Jews did not do this to you. You did this to yourselves.

Republicans are good at taking credit, but not quite as good at deserving credit. Once again, science – a vastly majority liberal endeavor – is at the root of most of what business sells. And the true source of 1980s and 1990s prosperity – the computer industry – is mostly Democratic or libertarian.

And we don't even need to start on manufacturing labor.

I have no idea why more people aren't saying such things. Maybe they are too nice; maybe they are too chicken. But when I see people so caught up in their groupthink that they ignore or disregard such basic things, it does take someone to break that groupthink.

Once again, science is at least as much responsible for prosperity as is business. Without science, capitalism would be nothing more than exchange of basic commodities at the level it was in Medieval Persia. There are people all over the world who work very hard. America did not get wealthy simply by working hard. It got wealthy by working smart. It got wealthy through science and technology. And if the academia gets defunded and honor students get beaten up, then America loses bigtime. Obama did not do this to them, and Jews did not do this to them. They did it to themselves.

Another reason for reduced competitiveness has been the equation of ingenuity with psychopathology. If it is narcissistic to seek great success or to have original ideas, then the world in general and America in particular owes most of what it has to its narcissists. You destroy what made your country great in the first place, you will lose.

And what sad state of affairs it is that it takes a person born in Russia to explain such things.

Now there are some conservatives who do in fact know what they are talking about. Most others are either lying or deceived. If you defund your academia and gut your educational system, you will lose competitiveness. The Chinese, the Hindus and any number of others will get ahead. And this will be the case even if the 6 million American Jews re-settle in Israel and even if Donald Trump gets in the White House. You may not personally like many folks in the academia, but you need them. As for me, the scientists I've known had excellent character, and they also did very important work.

So if you go around beating up your honor students, expect to lose. Expect to lose out to countries and cultures within America who do not take that course of action. And if you equate the whole of responsibility – or the whole of rational interest – with making money, then expect to be starved of people such as teachers and scientists. These people do not make very much money for the effort they've put into their education. But their contributions to the country are vast.

I've seen this problem all around America, in both white and black communities. The Southern whites and the folks in the ghetto don't like each other very much, but they share this ruinous attitude. They destroy their best minds, and they lose competitiveness. Then they blame whomever they want to blame – Jews, liberals, “white man,” whatever. No; the problem is their own conduct.

When I was in school, a claim I kept hearing was that academic learning is worthless and that the only thing that matters in life is common sense and social skills. You may want this attitude if you are raising lawyers; but lawyers are not what a great country makes. You also need scientists, engineers, teachers, and any number of others. For these fields academic learning is essential. And if you instead devalue such things, you will make your country lose out.

The problems here are not limited to who is in the White House. This is a much more deep-seated problem, and it was not created either by business or liberal “elites.” This is a problem with many deeply-held attitudes. It will not be solved by either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton getting elected. People's attitudes will have to change.

A weak primary education system is a bonanza for conmen. People lack the knowledge that they need to protect themselves from scammers and to be responsible citizens. The problem is not the lack of funding, but lack of interest among students as especially urged by their parents. If kids do not want to learn then no money spent will be enough. So then it's back to let's beat up on the honor student and blame everything on the Jews.

Christianity is not the same thing as ignorance, and values is not the same thing as dishonesty. You need science. You need education. Without such things, the country will lose competitiveness. This is not the doing of the Jews or the liberals; it is the doing of the people who have such beliefs.

With business, we see all sorts of directions. Some in business really are producing prosperity, and others use business for very wrong things. Much can be said for entrepreneurship and visionary approach. This, however, is being attacked by psychology under the claim that it is pathological. You pathologize what made your country great, you will sabotage your country.

Probably the most ruinous statement of Ronald Reagan was “Why should I pay for somebody's education?” Well there is a very good reason why you should. You need an informed citizenry. You need a competitive citizenry. You need engineers, teachers and scientists. And if you do not have such people, your country will lose out.

Now I have not seen many people saying such things in American public discourse, so I am saying these things for them. Prosperity owes as much if not more to science as it owes to business. It is also owed to all sorts of other people, such as teachers, who do not make very much money.

As for America, it owes its greatness to visionary spirit – the same spirit that is now being branded as “narcissism.”

If you really want America to get well, it is not about who is in the White House. It is about what attitudes people have. Stop defunding the academia and beating up your honor students. Stop pathologizing the things responsible for America's greatness. Rather regain the visionary spirit that made America the hope of the world and make America a great country again.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

No, It Is Not In The Eye

One saying I hear all the time is “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” That saying deserves to be taken out and shot. True beauty takes talent and effort to produce and deserves respect.

One of the most ridiculous statements I've heard comes from followers of Taoism, who think that creating beauty as a concept also creates ugliness. Foolishness all around. Beauty existed before I existed or recognized it; it will continue existing long after I'm gone.

How many girls get traumatized through coercion toward beauty? Some very well may be that, but they do not own traumatization. There are all sorts of things that are good in themselves that can be used for wrong. That someone gets D's does not mean that nobody can get A's, and that some people are poor does not mean that nobody can get wealthy. It is wrong to equate beauty to the abuses of beauty by stupid teenagers and unethical plastic surgeons. Doing that gives such people way too much credit. Beauty existed long before such things existed; it will continue existing long after they are gone.

If the society does not value beauty, there will be no demand for beauty. The people who create beauty will either go starving or have to do something else. I judge it wrong that America, with 300 million people and per capita GDP of $45,000 a year, does not have art comparable to that of Renaissance Italy, with 3 million people and per capita GDP of $1500 a year. America should have 300 Sistine Chapels. The only reason that it does not is that it does not value beauty or the arts.

I am in no way “thinking with my penis.” I have no attraction to Yosemite Park, but I find it beautiful. I have no attraction to the works of Monet or Anna Akhmatova, but I find them exceptionally beautiful. In case of beautiful women, I am attracted to some but not to others. Asian women are usually seen as very attractive, but I do not lust after them.

Well what about the bad behavior of the “don't hate us because we are beautiful” people? These people's problem is not that they are beautiful but that they are jerks. I once tried to approach such women in conversation, and they responded with “we don't talk to trash.” Their problem was not that they were beautiful. Their problem was that they were horrible people. Whereas I've known any number of women who were both beautiful and good people. It is wrong that such women be punished for the sins of jerks.

Beauty, itself, is innocent of misdeeds of stupid teenagers or unethical plastic surgeons. These people do not own beauty, nor do they deserve to be given credit for something that existed long before they existed and that will continue existing long after they're gone. Beauty is a good quality, and it should be respected as much as any other good quality such as intelligence or being a good person. Do not equate something with its abuses. See it for what it is in itself.

Karma and God

There are any number of people who believe that they are serving God. I do not see how such a thing is possible. Why would an omnipotent being need someone to serve him? God is God. God can do whatever God wants to do. Why would such a being want anyone to serve him at all?

Then there are others who talk about reincarnation and “karmic lessons.” I likewise do not see why that would be necessary. I can understand the experience of other people who are nothing like myself simply by interacting with them and trying to see how things look from their perspective. I do not need to be them in order to do that. As for the wrong things that I have done myself, I likewise do not see why I need to go through a bunch of lifetimes in order to clear them. I can do what the Alcoholics Anonymous says one should do: Make amends to whomever I may have hurt – in this lifetime.

When I have written about the wrongfulness of ethnic conflicts, one response that I got was “the sins of the fathers are visited upon the sons.” If this is in fact the case, then I do not see why anyone should bring life into the world at all. If this is what we are dealing with, then giving birth is an act of sadism. If the sins of the fathers really are visited upon the sons, then once again I do not see why this should be done by any human force. God will do that himself, and he will not need anyone in order to do that.

Probably the only religious argument that does make sense to me is that God would want us to act in a particular way. The only thing that God cannot control is our actions. Which means that the only thing that God could want from us is that we act in one way and not in another.

I have had many spiritual experiences, as have any number of people I know, including distinguished scientists and successful professionals and entrepreneurs. I am not vulnerable to materialist fundamentalism or other similar fallacies. I will however scrutinize anything that is presented to me; and I am doing that with the claims that are made in the name of any given religion.

When someone claims that he is serving God, this claim should be challenged. God is omnipotent, and He does not need anyone to serve Him. If someone believes in punishing the man of the next tribe because their grandfathers had a dispute, the correct response is, God will do that Himself. With karma and similar attitude, they should likewise be challenged. Once again, I do not see why I would need to experience life as the next man in order to see things from his perspective, nor why I should inflict whatever wrongs I've done in this lifetime on some innocent child down the road.

With people I have known who were advanced in spirituality, I have seen real wisdom but also things that were obviously mistaken. I do not impugn spirituality or religion; I impugn error. And this is plenty to be found all around, regardless of whether or not you want anything to do with religion or spirituality.

Love and the Baby Boomers

Probably the stupidest statement I've ever heard is that one has to love oneself before one can love another. This is completely ridiculous. Loving the other person has nothing to do with what you feel about yourself; it is about what you feel about the other person. Whether or not I love myself, it has nothing to do with the people I love. It is not about what I feel about myself; it is about what I feel about the other person.

Then there is the claim that if you love rationally you are loving, and if you do not love rationally you are obsessing. Also completely wrong. If that was the case, then animals could not love; and if that was the case then people in cultures that do not place priority on reason could not love. Of course both are capable of both. That is as much the case with animals as it is the case with Italians or Russians.

One claim I've heard in defense of distributing of love-hating attitudes on college campuses is that the fathers do not want their daughters to go with some lunatic. Oh, not at all. They want their daughters to go with the man they've picked out for them. We are living in India. So they've hired these monsters to destroy all the good influences in the Western civilization. Destroy romanticism; then destroy Enlightenment. And guess what comes back but the traditional Eminem-style misogyny.

Another claim that I hear on this matter is, 1960s are over. 1960s were for baby boomers; this is for others. The world does not revolve around baby boomers, however much they think that it does. 1960S was not the only time in history that such themes have been tried, nor will they be the last ones. If baby boomers decided that love was crap, that was their own fault. Baby boomers do not own love or anything of the sort. These themes have existed through all of history – for legitimate reasons – and if they decided against it then it does not mean that the rest of the world has to honor their choice on the matter.

If you have decided that love was crap, that does not mean that the rest of the world has to make the same decision. There will always be people who want love, and you will not get rid of them whatever they do. That you made some wrongful realization, does not mean that the rest of the world has to do the same thing.

Personally, I have a lot of things in common with baby boomers. I also believe that they have gone in the wrong direction. If what you want is to be validated, then by all means take their advice. But it is not the direction into which I seek to take things. Loving oneself comes across to me as masturbatory. Whereas loving another person has far more merits.

If you have decided that romantic love is crap, keep to your own “realizations.” Do not however inflict it upon others. People will always want to love and be loved, and it is in no way limited to a decade or to a generation. You decided that this is a wrong thing, keep to yourselves. Do not inflict the same wrongful generalizations upon others.

So we have had any number of people claiming that romantic love is a myth. There is nothing mythological about this; I have experienced it myself, and so have any number of others. You will not get rid of such things whatever they do; they are inherent to humanity and always will be.

In my generation, the inevitable experience of teenage rebellions has been steered against precisely the wrong things. It has been steered against beauty and love. It has been steered against rightful action taken by the government. The libertarians see correctly the potentials for wrongdoing in the government, but they fail to see the same in private power. And the sentiment against the Western civilization has been steered against romanticism, which is the most profound – and wisest – sentiment that has taken place within the Western civilization.

The millennials have a lot more of a clue. They are willing to analyzing all sorts of abuses of power that are not the government. Each generation learns from the mistakes of the preceding generation, and I hope that the millennials learn from the mistakes of the baby boomers and also from the mistake of my generation.

What we are seeing in all of these cases is a Big Lie. Present things as their opposites. If a man has love for a woman – or any number of women – present him as a misogynist. If someone is honest, present him as a sociopath. If someone is altruistic, present him as a narcissist. Misrepresent things as their opposites, and eventually people will believe you.

I do not believe that lies are a valid basis for a civilization. If you want your civilization to last, base it on things that are true. Love is one thing that is true; so are a number of others. Stop militating against things that are true. Create ones yourself.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Personality Disorders, Evil and Choice

I have heard many bad things said about people who are seen as narcissists, sociopaths or alcoholics. I seek to contend with these beliefs.

According to the definition of the narcissistic disorder, the world in general – and America in particular – owes most of what it has to its narcissists. If it is narcissistic to want great success, or if it is narcissistic to have lots of original ideas, then just about everyone who's had great success – as well as most people who've had original ideas – were narcissists. Which means that the world owes most of what it has to its narcissists.

With sociopathic disorder, we see a very glaring irrationality. If people are responsible for their actions then anyone – including a sociopath – can act rightfully. And if some people are evil and can only be evil whatever they do, however hard they work, and whatever work they do on themselves, then people are not responsible for their actions. Pick either one or the other. Both cannot be.

What we see with the concept of criminal personality is that people can be made criminal by virtue of how they think. This introduces the Orwellian concept of crimethink. Pursuant that concept, we see a totalitarianism being created that is so absolute that people are not allowed to be free from it even within the privacy of their minds.

I have known any number of alcoholics. Some of them were bad people, and some were not. I had a roommate who was an alcoholic, and he was a terrible person. I had a girlfriend who was an alcoholic, and she was not a bad person at all. All sorts of people kept looking for all sorts of things to pick on about her character; but she was far more benevolent – and far kinder – than most of these people.

I was never diagnosed as a sociopath; but I will take a stand against witch hunts. Even if these people are nothing at all like me, they still deserve protection from those who would commit witch hunts against them. In America especially, people are meant to be protected from people who would do such a thing; and if it takes a Russian immigrant to remind them of that, then that is quite a sad state of affairs.

Anyone can choose to act rightfully, whatever may or may not be wrong with their brain. On this matter religion is light years ahead of psychology. Religion states that any sinner can be redeemed; and this is the case also with sociopaths, narcissists and alcoholics.

In no way do I seek to do away with psychology. I do however seek to do away with witch hunts. The recent hysteria about sociopaths is the worst one that has been perpetrated in American history, and one that would make Joseph McCarthy look like a saint.

Whatever is wrong with your brain, you still have the capacity of choice. And anything with a capacity of choice is capable of rightful behavior. If your heart fails to do the job for you, use your brain. Figure out how your actions affect other people. And then make an informed choice as to how you want to conduct yourself.

Being a “sociopath” or a “narcissist” does not have to be a death sentence. Once again, anyone can choose to act rightfully, even the people who have these disorders. For Americans in particular, it is complete hypocrisy to persecute “narcissists.” Once again, they owe to such people their nation's greatness. And claiming that some people are evil and can only be evil whatever they do militates againt the most basic rationality.

Are there sociopaths who do wrong things? Of course there are. But then there are any number of perfectly normal people who do terrible things as well. Spanish colonialists were for the most part normal people, and they did worse things than even the Nazis. And there are plenty of perfectly normal people now – Muslims, Russians, what have you – that have been doing horrible things as well.

Evil is not a psychopathology. Evil is choice. Anyone can choose to be good or evil. There are plenty of sociopaths who've never committed a crime. And there are plenty of normal people who have done – and are doing – things that are absolutely terrible.

So no, the world's problems are not rooted in the actions of “narcissists” or “sociopaths.” They are rooted in wrong choices that people make. Some of these wrong choices are made by people with these supposed disorders, and some of these wrong choices are made by people who are perfectly normal. The source of evil is not personality disorders. The source of evil is wrong choice.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Stupidity of Eminem

Eminem made a major error, and one that has had all sorts of horrible repercussions for all sorts of innocent women. He had a mother who had been terrible to him, and he had the right to hate her. But he then generalized his anger at his mother upon the whole female gender. There is no room for this error. Kim is not responsible for the actions of his mother, and it is wrong that she has to suffer as a result.

Many among misogynists think that all women are the same. Are all men? Are you the same as Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy or Adolf Hitler? Is your father the same? Is your son?

When I see men having opinions such as these, I want to punch them in the face. It is my sister you're talking about; my mother; my grandmother. I have no interest whatsoever in having sexual relationships with these women; but I will protect them from idiots who would equate them with Catherine McKinnon or Eve.

I get tired of innocent people getting blamed for the actions of people who are guilty. There are all sorts of people who keep abusing the Jews because of the crucifixion of Jesus; but that was 2000 years ago, and most of the people who judge the Jews have much greater – and much more recent – atrocities in their history. Similarly there are many black people in America who hate the white man because of the early 19th century institution of slavery; but what they forget is that 500,000 white men in the North died in the Civil War to end slavery for them.

Eminem is an idiot, and his followers are greater idiots. Their girlfriends are not responsible for the sins of their mothers or Third Wave feminists. My daughter is not responsible for such things either. That someone shares a gender with another person does not make them guilty of the other person's misdeeds. There will be good men and bad men, and there will be good women and bad women. It is wrong that the better ones in either gender be punished for the sins of scum.

Types Of Learning

There are many ways toward intelligence, and each one thinks that it is the only one. I keep reading false statements by academics, such as that an artist needs to have copied all the masters before he can become an adequate artist, or that one has to absorb the whole canon before he can make any original contributions. Both statements are patently untrue. Michelangelo did not spend years copying other artists before he became an artist, and his work is far greater than that of any artist educated in the American academia. And among the world's major contributors, many did not absorb the full canon, or did not have a canon to absorb at all. 

Then we see people, especially in business and politics, claiming that academic learning is worthless and that having it gives no understanding of the real world. This is wrong as well. Common sense may get you places in business and politics, but it will get you nowhere in engineering, medicine or science. If you need to see a doctor, he better have good education. If you need to see a lawyer, he better have good education. If you are going to build a business based on selling technology, it has to be based on work of scientists who better have good education and be produced by engineers who better have good education as well.

When I was in school, and pondering an academic career, a criticism that I kept hearing about the academics was that they were studying life without having lived it. I took that criticism to heart and decided to live life before studying it. This gave me a fuller perspective, allowing me to see all sorts of errors in academic thought. If I had gone on with graduate education before having life experience, I would have been bound to wrong ideas in the academia. And many ideas in the academia – especially on social, psychological and cultural issues – are very wrong.

When one's learning has been wrong or incomplete, often one has a hunch about it. He may not be very well to articulate what he is feeling or properly understand it, but often that hunch is right. While going based on hunches is not something usually seen as being valid or rational or responsible, it can in many cases lead to rightful understanding and rightful realizations. I had a suspicion at many times that many of the things to which I have been exposed were wrongful. And now I know that they were.

By no means is it rightful to dismiss academic learning. But one develops a fuller understanding of what one studies when he has experienced it from within as well. A person who has only studied something externally has no understanding of how it is experienced by participants. A person who has only experienced something has no idea of its external effects. But when a person has both, he understands something from within as well as from without; and that allows a more insightful understanding than is done through either acting alone.

Since I now live in Australia, I have had comments by many Americans that I am not qualified to speak about American politics. In fact I am more qualified to do so than they are. I've lived in America for a long time, and I've also lived in places outside America. I have both the internal perspective and the external perspective. I can explain the experience of American people to people outside of America who do not understand it and act from position of mere judgment. And I can also explain to Americans how their actions affect the rest of the world. Having both the internal and the external perspective, I can achieve greater insight than can be done by either acting alone.

In no way is it valid to dismiss education. It is however valid to supplement the perspective of observation with the perspective of experience. This, once again, creates a fuller understanding than can be done by either acting alone.

So that while going by hunches is not usually seen as a valid way to study anything, it can in fact lead to rightful and useful realizations. In many cases, the hunches – which one cannot understand or explain using the knowledge that he has been given – are right.

One common criticism of scientists – a legitimate or illegitimate one – is that they lack common sense. That is because scientists do not use common sense; they use the scientific method. In science, common sense is known as bias and is attacked or refuted. In many cases this works for the better. In any number of other cases it works for the worse.

The manifestations of new ideas are always rebellious. In many cases they are also angry, even hateful. As the idea matures, it becomes calmer and more reasonable. What starts with a hunch or rebellion turns into mature understanding. At which point the same can be imparted to others to lead to many good things.

One of the wisest people I know is a successful entrepreneur who has spent 7 years teaching in the academia. He has both the perspective of common sense experience and the perspective of academic learning. He has rightful criticisms of both people in business and people in the academia, and he also has valid insight into political issues.

If you have a hunch that you have been misinformed, do not automatically dismiss it. In many cases it is going to be correct. Look for knowledge in all sorts of places, including ones that disagree with your upbringing or education. That way you will have a more complete understanding than what you have been given. And a more complete understanding creates more informed action and one that, as such, is ultimately more responsible. Expect to be seen as a fool, a lunatic, a traitor, a whore, irresponsible, evil, whatever. And then expect to create knowledge to benefit people, even the ones who see you in such a way.

Combining different forms of learning gives a fuller perspective than practicing merely one form of learning. Someone who has both experienced and studied something will understand it better than someone who's either only studied or experienced. It is not an intellectually easy path, but one that leads to fuller understanding. If you want to have a comfortable mind, practice just one or the other. If you want a more complete understanding, do as I have done.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Uses and Misuses of Values

There are people who think that money is universally a good thing, and there are people who think that money is universally a bad thing. Neither is right. Money is how you make it and what you are using it for. If you are making money by computerizing the world, then you are doing a good thing. If you are making money by poisoning the oceans and the air, burning the rainforest, or selling people things that are bad for them, then you are not doing a good thing at all. Money is this: A tool. And tools are morally neutral. They are what you are using them for.

Anything that has any kind of appeal would see people using it both for right things and wrong things. One major source of confusion in recent decades has been about beauty. Some people decided that, because ignorant teenage school cultures and unscrupulous plastic surgeons use beauty for wrong, beauty as such is a bad thing. It is not. Beauty existed long before such things existed; it will continue existing long after they're gone. Beauty is something that has appeal to people. And anything that has appeal to people will see some people wanting to use it for wrong.

This also includes things that have moral appeal. While the idea of money as a tool is familiar to many, very few people see the same with values. And that is a major oversight.

One idea that has moral appeal is the value of altruism. We see this being used both for right ends and for wrong ends. Stalin used the value of altruism to impose a horrible dictatorship. The Freemasons and Medicins Sans Frontieres also appeal to altruism, and they are using it for much better things. One of Ayn Rand's biggest errors has been her equating altruism with its abuses by people like Stalin and Lenin. She obviously did not study Medicins Sans Frontieres. This organization is in no way corrupt or power-tripping. It consists of conscientious individuals who foreswore bigger salaries in order to cure people around the world.

Another such value is the value of responsibility. This likewise gets used both for right things and for wrong things. There are any number of people claiming belief in responsibility who are actually responsible. There are any number of others who aren't. If you define responsibility as having a huge house and driving a Hummer, you will be poisoning the oceans and the air and leaving the world a worse place than you have found it. You may genuinely think that you're being responsible; but you're not.

Patriotism is another value that can get used – and constantly does get used – both for right and for wrong. Honor, love – you name it. Any value can be used for right things and wrong things, as much as is the case for such things as money and beauty. We see this with religions – all of them. We see this with just about anything else that is there.

The solution is not to reject values any more than it is to demonize money or beauty. The solution is seeing where all such things can be used for wrong. This will be the case with things that carry physical appeal; it will also be the case with things that carry moral appeal. Beauty can be used for wrong; but that does not make beauty bad. Money can be used for wrong; but that does not make money bad. Same is the case with values. Stalin's misuse of altruism does not damn altruism, and Texas Oil's misuse of the concept of responsibility does not damn responsibility.

My daughter, who has always been very beautiful, does not deserve to be blamed for the actions of stupid school cheerleaders. Steven Jobs does not deserve to be blamed for the actions of Texas Oil. Medicins Sans Frontieres does not deserve to be blamed for the actions of Stalin. Eisenhower does not deserve to be blamed for the actions of Hitler. And contemporary Christians do not deserve to be blamed for the Inquisition or anything of that sort.

Anything that has any kind of appeal will see people wanting to use it for wrong. This, once again, is likewise the case with things that carry moral appeal. Anything human can be used for wrong. That does not make it as such a bad thing. Money, beauty and moral values all have legitimate appeal to people; and it then becomes the responsibility of the people to use these things right.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Feminism and Respect

Probably the saddest comment that I've ever heard was a feminist graduate student describing her female body as “useless.” Useless? How can it be useless? A female body can produce new life. What can be more useful than that?

A related claim is that many women are traumatized through wrongful sexual practices by men. That may very well be the case; but that is in no way the only way in which people can be traumatized. People get traumatized in war. People get traumatized in bad upbringing. People get traumatized when their families get shot or their countries get destroyed. Sex abuse victims do not own traumatization.

I have heard a feminist graduate student telling me that in traditional cultures women had more power than they do now, because they were in control of reproduction and sex. I have heard any number of others – strong, successful women – saying that feminism has gone too far. I have also known women who had no use for feminism at all. They wanted to be with a working man and stay home with the children. Which means that feminism, despite its claims, does not begin to speak for all women. It may speak for some; but by no means everyone and not even the majority.

Many feminists go on about equality; but they do not care about anything else. The question then becomes, equality – in what? Equality in nastiness? Equality in hideousness? Many women would not want that kind of equality at all. They would rather accept some inequality in order to have a more fulfilling existence.

Men and women have the sexual and emotional nature, which is gendered, and they have the intellectual and volitional nature, in which they are the same. Denying women the right to either is denying the woman half a life. We see this both with feminists who attack man-woman relationships and family life and the patriarchial men who believe that the woman's place is in the home.

Some women will want both careers and family life. Some will want one or the other. If feminists really do believe in women's empowerment and women's rights, they will accept the choices of all three. I have no idea which path my daughter will choose, and I neither urge nor discourage her in either direction. I also know of the potential problems that she would face in either situation. Women who choose family life and relationships are at a risk of violence. Women who choose careers are at a risk of nastiness in the workplace and viciousness from feminist and otherwise nasty women. I see no reason why one would be better or worse than the other. Both carry opportunities, and both carry risks.

Eminem had a huge following, and some of his followers were female. These girls have had it with emotional bullying by older women, and they chose violence by men over it. I do not believe that one should have to put up with either one or the other. Both are wrong. And in the situation of the gender war, we see everyone involved being taught to be jerks. And that makes the world worse for everyone. Which means that I owe it to my daughter and to the children growing up now to do what I can do to correct this state of affairs.

The solution is the opposite from what is advocated by each side. The solution is not ill will; the solution is good will. Teach men to be good to women, and teach women to be good to men. Not only teach it, but also reward it. Let men who are willing to be good to women get together with women who are willing to be good to men. And as they do so, allow them to set appropriate incentives within society.

There is only one workable solution to the gender war. That solution is mutual goodwill. I do not say love, as many people do not have experience of such a thing. I say goodwill, which is a conce[p that everyone should understand. If you are a man and you hate women, or if you are a woman and you hate men, have nothing to do with the other gender. If you do have relationships, do so with someone whom you can respect. And if you respect nobody, then go on your own.

Respect, of course, is another concept on which there is a lot of confusion. When I was younger I did not respect many people, but I do now. Respect is not something that can be coerced or demanded. Respect is something that is earned. It is valid to demand tolerance; it is not valid to demand respect.

In fact there is likely to be a negative correlation between people who are likely to demand respect and people who actually deserve respect. There are many reasons to respect a hard-working mother. There are far fewer reasons to respect some capricious college girl.

If the women in traditional cultures, as one of the sources listed above claimed, did have more power than do women now, then that is power that has been rightfully earned. They were mothers. They were grandmothers. They worked hard at what they were doing. These women did things that actually were worthy of respect; and whatever respect they got was completely merited. Whereas I see very little reason to respect women who know nothing but hatred and are horrible human beings.

Of course the venal behavior of Third Wave feminists has had all sorts of negative repercussions for women everywhere in the world. If you teach women to be jerks, it will only be a matter of time before some opportunist will come along and say, “See, we told you. Women are evil. Men should beat them and keep them in their place.” The feminists will not see the results of that; but all sorts of women around the world will, and have. A girl in the ghetto, or Middle East, or an American right-wing community, is being punished wrongfully for the sins of the feminists. The opportunists mentioned have part of the responsibility for that; the other part of responsibility belongs with feminists.

Gender war teaches everyone to be jerks; and that means that it is the problem and not the solution. The solution is the opposite of gender war: Goodwill between men and women. This is what should be taught everywhere – families, churches, academia, what have you. It is the only possible workable solution. And it is this solution that should be vigorously pursued by all sectors of society.

Professions and Ways of Thinking

Engineers and artists generally don't get along; and the main reason for that is that each pursuit requires completely different ways of thinking. If you're an engineer, you serve existing realities. If you're an artist, you are creating and pursuing a vision. If you're an engineer, you have to be very practical. If you're an artist, you have to be inspired. We see two completely different forms of thinking; and people who think in completely different ways will usually not get along.

But the engineer's greatest area of incompatibility in thinking is not with artists; it is with salesmen. In order to amount to anything as a salesman, you have to be a positive person. You have to think positive. If you're an engineer, you cannot afford to think positive. You think positive, you fail to anticipate problems. An engineer who thinks positive will design equipment that will blow up on use.

A successful entrepreneur has to be able to think like all three. He will have to think like an engineer in order to realistically assay what the market would demand. He will have to think like a salesman in order to “win friends and influence people.” He will also have to think like an artist and be a visionary. This is not an easy thing to achieve, and businessmen – rightfully – get a lot of respect.

There are any number of people who have learned to think in ways that are appropriate to different professions. Probably the most admired engineer in history – Nicolai Tesla – thought both like an engineer and like an artist. He was a visionary, and he also knew his stuff enough to make his visions practical reality.

Probably the best way to get engineers, artists and salesmen to get along is for them to understand each other's thinking. Different thinking is appropriate to different pursuits. If they understand where one another is coming from, they will be more likely to know how to deal correctly with one another.

When they do not understand such things, they will likely be hateful to one another. An engineer would see a salesman as a neon balloon, and a salesman will see an engineer as a negative ninny. That is because, once again, the two fields require completely different kinds of thinking. A salesman has to think positive; an engineer has to think critically. If they do not understand such things, they will not get along.

I have maintained positive friendships with people in all four pursuits. They might not get along with one another, but they all get along with me. This makes it possible for me to understand each party's thinking in order to correctly advocate for them to people who do not understand their perspective or why they think the way that they do.

Probably the best case for education in arts is that it is useful in other things besides the arts. Creative and visionary thinking has applications in all sorts of pursuits, especially in business. Things such as realist painting and calligraphy also teach attention to detail; and this can be useful in many other things as well, especially in engineering. Artists and engineers may not get along for reasons stated above. However some of the skills that artists learn are useful in engineering, and even engineers stand to benefit from arts education.

Businessmen, in turn, stand to learn from all of the above. They need to think like engineers, like salesmen and like artists. As for myself, I have studied all of the above; and I recommend that more people do the same in order to understand whom they are dealing with in each field.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Anger, Credibility and Cultural Immunity

There are any number of people who think that I need academic credentials or superior personal qualities in order to be credible. In fact I need neither. Nietzsche and Ayn Rand had neither, and both have produced greater work than have most academics or saints.

In science, arguing to the source is considered a logical fallacy. You address the argument that is made, not the person who made it. Yet many others look only at the source; and the results are mostly self-defeating.

Just to show how badly this kind of thinking can go astray, once a Christian lady asked me, “Whom would you rather believe: sinful scientists or the word of God?” My response to that is that I do not care how sinful you think scientists to be. Sinful or not, they created knowledge that I can myself verify, and which knowledge is the reason that you live till age 80 instead of age 30 and are living in a beautiful house rather than a hut.

Indeed a case can be made that, in many situations, there will be negative correlation between the quality of the person's work and his personal credentials. The people who will make the most original contributions will be ones who think differently from those around them. And these will always be seen by many as lunatics or worse.

Manifestations of truly original ideas are always at the start rebellious, often angry, sometimes even hateful. As the ideas mature they become calmer and more reasonable. If you want to screen out anything that is angry or rebellious, you will screen out all original ideas, and you will sabotage your country. Similarly if you use the source argument, you will screen out your most original contributors, and the effect will be the same. In both cases the behavior is completely self-defeating.

This leads me to a different but related subject. There are many people who would feed on anything emotional, anger or otherwise, and use any emotional reaction that they get to portray the person in a negative light. The people who see emotions as a lower function, or anger as some kind of personal failure, will engage in predatory behavior. They will do things that are designed to bring out an emotional or an angry response. Then they will attack you for having such a reaction.

I once had a girlfriend who made a friend. This man had a very low view of emotions. He would say things that would rile her up, and if she had an emotional reaction he would use it to claim that she was hysterical or irrational. I told her what he was doing and advised her to replace the emotional reactions with rational ones. She did that, and the results were effective.

When I was writing on Google Groups, any number of people would say things that would anger me. If I got angry, they then went on to say that I was neanderthal, negative, whatever. I learned to respond not with anger but with reason. They can find all sorts of ways to use anger against you; but it is much harder to do the same thing with reason. What they were doing was engaging in predatory behavior. They would provoke someone's anger, and when that was done they would use that to claim that he was bad.

In such cases, the solution is to call the people who do this on their hypocrisy. If you have no use for feelings, you should not be around people who have feelings. And if you are against anger, you will not be saying things to provoke anger in others.

How does the first relate to the second? Because, once again, in case of new ideas many of them start out angry. They react against one or another wrong in surrounding conditions, then they go to a different place. If you screen out anger, you will screen out your most original contributions. And this will not work in your best interests.

Now anger, in itself, may not be a good thing; but there are times that it will be appropriate. Denying this is not enlightenment, it is foolishness. It is correct to be angry at things that are wrong. Transformative process is never nice. Yet it is very much necessary.

If you are looking at the personal credibility of the source, you will deny your most original contributions. Same will be the case if you screen out for anger or rebellion. This kind of “cultural immunity” immunizes the culture against its best contributions; and for the culture to actually blossom it has to go. Original thinkers will encounter all sorts of negative reactions, and many of them will for that reason be seen as lacking in personal credibility. As for anger or rebellion, it will also accompany most original contributions, which likewise means that screening against it is wrong.

What Is The Root Of Taste?

Often, when I write or talk about beauty, someone counters by talking about “inner beauty.” They appear to be of the impression that the two are somehow incompatible with each other. I do not see why there should be any kind of relationship – positive or negative – between being physically attractive and being a good person. Some people will be both; some people will be one or the other; and some people will be neither. We are dealing with two completely different things, and I see no reason why they would have any kind of relationship to one another at all.

Then there is the saying “beauty is only skin-deep, ugliness goes down to the bone.” That also is completely wrong. I was ugly in school, but I am not ugly now. The reason is not improved self-esteem or anything of the sort; the reason is that I do lots of exercise. My ugliness problem was solved through an improved lifestyle, which could not have been done if ugliness went to the bone. Whereas there are any number of people I know who are beautiful all the way through and have been for as long as I knew them.

We also see claims such as that outer beauty is relative and inner beauty is universal. This likewise is wrong. While most people would agree that Stalin was a bad person and that Mother Theresa was a good person, in most cases it is not nearly as clear-cut. Some people think that Reagan was a man of great character, and others think that Reagan was a jerk. “Inner beauty” can be just as relative as anything else.

The real question to ask is relative – to what? On matters of personal goodness, it appears to be a matter of values. If you are a conservative you will like Reagan; if you are a liberal you will not.

This leads me into uncharted territory. What is the basis of taste? It has been fashionable since the times of the Roman Empire to state that “de gustibus non disputandum est” (“there is no dispute on taste”). Where do people's tastes come from? Why are the tastes of many so different? What is the root of taste? Is there any logic to it, and if there is such a logic, what is it?

For a long time, emotions were dismissed as being illogical. However anyone familiar with psychology knows that there very much is logic to emotions, even if it is not linear logic. Ayn Rand, who rejected psychology, also said that there is a rationality to emotions. All things have one or another kind of logic. The same should be the case with taste.

Most people will agree that Sistine Chapel is beautiful, and that Piss Christ isn't. Some things are universal, and some things are relative. Judith Langlois conducted a study that showed a face with a particular set of proportions to people cross-culturally, and everyone found it beautiful. At the same time a study that showed 500 faces to 20,000 participants saw each face getting picked as the most beautiful at least once. There is absolute beauty and there is relative beauty. The same, as I have argued above, is the case for personal goodness, or “inner beauty.”

So that while absolute beauty will appeal to everyone, relative beauty will appeal to some and not others. We also see the same with “inner beauty.” Both can be relative, and both can be absolute.

Both inner beauty and outer beauty are good things, but ones that are totally unrelated. They do not correlate positively, and they do not correlate negatively. Some people will have both; some will have one or the other; and some will have neither. As for taste, it should have as much reasons for it as anything else. The real task at hand is finding out what is the root of taste.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Principled Loyalty

Some people's concept of ethics is based on the concept of loyalty, and other people's concept of ethics is based on the concept of principle. Neither however is adequate in itself. I combine the two to come up with a more workable concept: Principled Loyalty.

Loyalty, by itself, creates things such as the mafia. Mafia has strong internal loyalties, but it treats everyone else like dirt. I do not want to see the world being run by mafia values.

Principle, by itself, lacks realism and compassion. Principle wants to treat everyone equally. I do not believe that that is a fair expectation. People will have loyalties to one another. People will prefer their own over others. People will prefer their children over other people's children, and people will prefer their countries over other countries. I consider it foolishness to expect anything else.

I combine the two to create something better than either: Principled Loyalty.

Principled loyalty seeks the well-being of people to whom one is loyal, but it refuses to do wrong things for them. Specifically, it refuses to do wrong to others. If my country wanted me to throw sulfuric acid into the face of a child, I would not do it. If someone to whom I am personally loyal wanted me to commit murder, I would not do it. Instead I will look for workable ways to advance their best interest without hurting others.

Principled loyalty therefore corrects the potential for error in both loyalty and principle and then combines the two to create something better than either side.

One thing that happens when cultures mix is people's conception of ethics getting taken away from them. I used to have a strong ethical system that was based in Communism. When I came to America, that got deconstructed, and I was left without moral guidance. I have had to use my mind and my experiences to create a more informed system of ethics. Principled loyalty is what I came up with as a result.

With principled loyalty, we see both human reality and values at work. People will have loyalties to one another, but unconditional loyalty takes people into the mafia land. Principle is very much a virtue, but by itself it fails to consider human reality. There is a need for both. With principled loyalty, people will advance the lot of their own without hurting others in the process.

I will prefer my own over others, and I do not expect anyone else to act differently. I will not however do wrong things for them. I will look at how to advance their interests without hurting others. Doing that corrects the potential for error in both loyalty and principle. And the result is a more functional system of ethics – one that considers both human reality and principle and gives people a workable way to advance the interests of their own without hurting others.

Where Self-Esteem Movement Has Gone Wrong

The main claim of the self-esteem movement is that if you feel good about yourself you will be a good person, and if you feel badly about yourself you will be a bad person. This claim is completely wrong. What you are as a person has nothing to do with how you feel about yourself. What you are as a person is about what you feel about – and how you are treating - others. If I feel good about myself but think that you are a jerk, I will not be all that good to you however I feel about myself.

If good self-esteem made good people and bad self-esteem made bad people, then in all the cultures in the world where self-esteem was not encouraged nobody could be good. And of course there have been good people everywhere. A woman from World War II generation told me that self-esteem used to be called conceit. Very few people think that her generation made bad people. In fact it is one of the most respected generations in history.
In fact a case can be made that there should be an expected negative correlation between self-esteem and personal qualities. If someone has higher standards for himself, he will have more trouble meeting them than does someone who has lower standards for himself. The person with lower standards will have higher self-esteem; the person with higher standards will have better personal qualities.

I had a friend from India who told me that she had low self-esteem and that for that reason she was helping people. I told her that it may not have anything to do with self-esteem at all. I told her that it may be instead her education and her values. She found that insight useful. I do not know whether or not it did anything for or against her self-esteem, but it did things to allow her to see the rightfulness in her actions.
I take issue when good things are presented as bad things. Being willing to help the next person is one of the best traits that one can have, and it is completely wrong to mistake it as low self-esteem or any other kind of psychopathology. The same is the case with romantic love and any number of other things.

So no, self-esteem does not make good people, nor does lack of it make bad people. What matters is not what you feel about yourself, but what you actually are. Do not strive to feel good about yourself. Strive to be good for real. And then others will decide whether or not to esteem you.

America's Relationship With Power And Success

America has an unusual relationship with success and power. On the one hand, it looks up to the winner. On the other, it would support an underdog against a bully. On first sight this appears irrational or hypocritical. In fact there appears to be a good logic behind this.

Someone would get good at something or other. He would get some kind of success or some kind of power. For a while he would get respect. Then he would get used to it or let it go to his head. He would do stupid things. He would act like a jerk or a bully. At that point people's sympathy will leave him and then go to some underdog challenger. This appears to be dysfunctional, but it's not.

With power, we see another relationship. I have heard many people say that power is evil. I have also been told to let go of my judgments of powerful men. There appears to be a place for both attitudes. Power can most certainly be used for all sorts of wrong things; but that is not the only possible outcome. As for powerful men, that can mean anything from Genghis Khan to Theodore Roosevelt. It is rightful to have judgments of the first but not of the second.

My view on power is as follows. Power is a tool, and a tool is what you are using it for. As the NRA says, “Guns do not kill people; people with guns kill people.” Tools are neither good nor evil. Tools are neutral; and whether or not they are good or bad is decided by how they are used.

Of course with both attitudes toward success and attitudes toward power we see all sorts of hypocrisy. People would like either when they have it, but not when somebody else does. A conservative would look up to a successful conservative but would demonize a liberal, a Jew, a Russian, a Hindu or a Chinese who also becomes successful. On one hand we see “money talks bullshit walks”; on the other we see howling about limousine liberals, Wall Street Jews and others who likewise became financially successful. So we go from “America: love it or leave it” to “Jews control everything” or “a Satanic New World Order conspiracy.” None of the latter claims have any validity whatsoever. They are being made now because these people can no longer claim to own financial success, and they can't handle that.

With power we see hypocrisy of course on a much grander scale. If a woman has understanding of people she is “manipulative”; if a politician or a businessman does, he is “competent.” If right-wingers in power – even if they stole an election - they are winners; if liberals are in power – even if they were legitimately elected - America is being taken over by damn commies. If Reagan is in power he is a great man; if Obama is in power he is a sociopath. You will want your own to have empowering qualities, and you will reward them for that. But if anyone else has empowering qualities, they are dangerous or worse.

I want to get rid of hypocrisy on these subjects, but I do not impugn either success or power. Both are what you are using it for. Guns do not kill people; people with guns kill people. Use the gun to protect your family, but do not pull it on your wife. Same is the case with success; same is the case with power.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Beauty, Feminism and the Arts

The Greeks extolled beauty as an ideal, and any number of others today dismiss it under the claim that it is only taste-dependent, culturally relative or “in the eye of the beholder.” Both are part-right and part-wrong.

Judith Langlois, an American scientist, ran an experiment that showed that people cross-culturally will all regard a face with a certain set of proportions as being beautiful. Another experiment showed 500 faces to 20,000 participants resulting in every face being picked as the most beautiful at least once. The first shows the existence of absolute beauty; the second shows the existence of relative beauty.

Both studies validate the correct claims on each side while invalidating the wrong ones. The existence of absolute beauty shows that the artistic search for truth in beauty is a valid one and invalidates the abuse by feminists against women who are physically attractive. The existence of relative beauty shows that there is someone for everyone and invalidates the abuse by bad parents and stupid teenagers against those they regard as being unattractive.

I had a girlfriend whose neighbors never saw her as being attractive, but many others did. I had another girlfriend whom everyone saw as beautiful. In the first case we see relative beauty; in the second case we see absolute beauty.

There is nothing at all incompatible between the two.

Many artists are known as being arrogant; and while some are in no way do they begin to own arrogance. When you are in a field that is not appreciated, as opposed to a field that is appreciated, sometimes you have to blow your horn. This may be regarded as egotistical, even narcissistic; but the process demands it.

When I was writing on the Internet in favor of beauty, people accused me of thinking with my penis. That is completely not the case. I have no sexual attraction to my female relatives; but all of them are very beautiful. Appreciation is not the same thing as lust. For that matter I can also appreciate the build of a man with a good physique, but I am not a homosexual.

Stating that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” or anything along the same lines is like saying that it does not exist. In fact, true beauty takes talent and effort to produce and deserves respect. There is nothing “in the eye” about Sistine Chapel, Burmese stupas or the works of Monet. All these are amazing accomplishments. They deserve respect.

I see no reason at all why the Renaissance Italy, with 3 million people and per capita GDP of $1500 a year, would have better art than America, with 300 million people and per capita GDP of $45,000 a year. We should have 300 Sistine Chapels. American people are in no way less talented than the Italians. The problem is one of values. If you do not value beauty, you will not create a demand for beauty, and most artists will either go starving or have to do something else.

What we do see in many people who regard beauty as solely being relative is self-refuting behavior. They claim that beauty is relative; then they attack women who are beautiful and do not attack women who are not. This shows that they, like everyone else, know what beauty is and what it isn't; and their claims are therefore refuted by their own behavior.

When beauty is under attack, anything that either possesses beauty or loves beauty will be in one or another bind. This reinforces the slander that something is wrong with beauty. The real reason is that these people are under attack. When women or blacks are oppressed, they do not accomplish very much, which then reinforces the slander that women or blacks are inferior. When beauty is oppressed, it will be found in all sorts of bad ways, which then will reinforce the slander that something is wrong with beauty.

Beauty is innocent of its abuses by stupid teenagers and unscrupulous plastic surgeons. It existed long before they existed; it will continue existing after they are gone. That something can be used for wrong does not mean that it is a bad thing. Anything that has appeal to people will have someone wanting to use it for wrong. That is as much the case with intelligence, money or patriotism as it is with beauty.

Then there is the case that valuing beauty destroys women's self-esteem. This is completely an invalid claim. That some students get D's does not mean that nobody can get A's. That some people are poor does not mean that nobody can be wealthy. Different people will be endowed differently, and they will go to different lengths to develop or not develop their gifts. In no way is such a thing limited to beauty.

The women who are regarded as unattractive by bad parents or stupid school cultures can take heart. If every face in an experiment gets picked as the most beautiful at least once, then someone will find even them beautiful. They have no business however at all attacking women who are more good-looking than they are. It is valid to look outside bad cultures that treat the person like dirt. It is wrong to attack beauty.

Once again, there is absolute beauty and relative beauty. Search for truth or goodness in beauty is valid; so is search outside of the place that treats you like dirt for people who would appreciate you. Take what is right with each side and discard what is wrong with them. Value beauty for what it is. And if someone does not value you as being beautiful, look for someone who would.

Misconceptions About Love

I have heard it said that love is the most confusing concept that mortals deal with. I seek to correct some misconceptions on this issue.

A former friend of mine, who is a brilliant writer and thinker, wrote that “love is beautiful and hatred is ugly, and never the twain shall meet.” In fact there are many situations in which the twain do meet. There are many people who both love and hate their partners. There are many people who love their country and hate their neighbors. There are many people who love God and hate Satan. In all of these situations, the twain do meet.

Then there are people who see some kind of incompatibility between love and anger. This is also very wrong. If you love your child, you would be angry at someone who hurts your child. Expecting anything else is not enlightenment. It is foolishness.

I have also heard it said that love is the most powerful force in the universe. In fact love is quite fragile. I have known of many situations – and had one in my life – in which someone would deeply love someone else, only to have some Iago tell them a pack of lies and poison them against their partner. In all of those situations, love gets destroyed. This would not happen if love was the most powerful force in the universe.

I said that love is fragile. I did not say that it is worthless. Its value is its beauty, not its power. Flowers are fragile as well. That does not make them any less beautiful. The solution is to value the beauty and to use whatever power one has to protect it, and in so doing preserve its value. Do not expect things to be powerful that aren't. Value them for what they are and use whatever power you do have to defend them.

I have also heard it said that love is something that one should generalize on the whole of humanity, even on all sentient beings. The correct response to that is, What do you mean by love? I cannot be expected to love every person the way I love Michelle or Julia. Nor can I be expected to love every child the way I love my daughter. It could be valid to expect me to extend to others goodwill and compassion; it is not valid to expect me to extend to them passion or partiality.

An input upon this subject comes from W. H. Auden. He stated that “the error made in bone of every women and every man... not universal love, but to be loved alone.” I do not see how that is error at all. If you are married to someone, it is rightful to expect that they love you alone. I would not expect anyone else to act in any other way.

Another claim I have heard is that romantic love creates attachments, and that attachments are always painful. That may very well be the case; but maybe avoiding pain is not what it's all about. I would rather have beauty in my life even if it is painful than not have beauty in my life at all.

Then of course there is the claim that there is some kind of incompatibility between love and ego, or between “flesh” and spirituality. That is also totally wrong. Romantic love is both physical and spiritual. There is the meeting of spirits, and often there is also physical attraction. There is no incompatibility between such things; they work together.

Even if there is some kind of a self-interested component in love, that does not damn it either. The current political and economic system is based on self-interest and protection of people's rights. If you think it selfish to want to be loved, you will have to also see the same in your living in comfort until age 70 in a democracy instead of tilling a two-acre plot of land, living till age of 30, and having your sons drafted into the military and your daughters into domestic servitude.

With psychological explanations, most are dead wrong. Freud mistook the memories of childhood sexual abuse for erotic fantasy and, as a result of this wrong core analysis, came to a number of completely wrong conclusions, including his most grievous error – that love is transference from a parent. Nor is it anything like “narcissism”; it worked very well for the World War II generation that has never been accused of any such thing. It has nothing to do with “self-esteem” or any other such thing; it happens regardless of how you see yourself. All of these explanations are absolutely wrong.

Then there is the claim that it is about “external validation.” It is not about any kind of validation at all. It is not about what you feel about yourself; it is about what you feel about the other person. I can validate myself all day long. That does not reduce the love that I have for Michelle or Julia.

Nor is it, as some in feminism claim, a “patriarchial racket” or any kind of a racket. Playing women is a racket; love is not. I am not a player. I love whom I love genuinely. I seek their well-being even if it is not the same as my own, and I've proven that when my former wife left me to be with another man.

A useful idea on this matter comes from a very unlikely source – Ayn Rand. She said that love is passionate approval of the other person with your whole being. This is certainly a better explanation than any of the preceding; but it's not only about approval. There is a lot more to it. You also seek their well-being even if it is not in your own immediate personal interest – a concept of course which is alien to Ayn Rand.

Then there is the claim that the concept of love was invented by Greeks, who used it to have sexual relations with boys. The people who make such a claim have obviously not read the works that were formative to the Greek civilization. There are many epics and plays, preceding Plato, that feature love between men and women. Plato used the concept of love for wrongdoing. That does not damn love; it damns Plato.

Even in the Indian civilization, in which marriages are arranged, love came to be through the works of a woman poet named Murabai. Here is a society that has done its darnedest to get rid of love, and even there it came to exist. Murabai was not a man pulling a racket. Murabai was a strong and courageous woman. She has far more the right to the title than any Third Wave feminist.

These are the main misconceptions that I have encountered, though I am sure there are many others. In “A Beautiful Mind,” the mathematician John Nash stated that he had found the greatest truth in “equations of love.” This is a person who was not irrational in any manner; he was better at reasoning than just about anyone. There is no incompatibility between love and reason. Nor is there incompatibility between love and spirituality, or between soul and flesh. Love is not the most powerful force in the universe; its value is not its power but its beauty. See things for their actual value and avoid misconceptions that anyone else may create.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Altruism and Beauty

Ayn Rand made a mistaken equation between altruism and Communism. Seeing abuses of Communism, she came up to the idea that altruism as such is evil. She was wrong.

Anything that carries any kind of appeal to people – moral, intellectual, physical or anything else – will have all sorts of people wanting to exploit it. If people have altruistic ideals, it is very likely that some jerk will come all along and pander to them, then take them into a bad place. That Stalin pandered to altruistic ideals to create a barbaric order does not impugn altruism; it impugns Stalin.

A similar error has been made by feminists. They saw abuses of beauty by stupid teenagers and unscrupulous plastic surgeons, and they decided that the problem was with beauty. It is not. Once again, anything that has appeal to people will see people wanting to use it for wrong. The problem is not with what has appeal, but with those who use it for wrongdoing.

Intelligence can also be used for wrong things; but that does not make intelligence bad. Money can also be used for wrong things; but that does not make money bad. Patriotism can also be used for wrong things; and that does not make patriotism bad either.

Same with just about anything that is out there.

The problem therefore is not with altruism, as Ayn Rand claimed. The problem is with those who exploit it. That there are corrupt charitable organizations does not damn generosity either. It damns those who take good values and then use them to do wrong. Same is the case with altruism.

Stalin does not own altruism, and Communism does not own altruism. There are plenty of altruists who did actual good and were no part of any kind of tyranny or corruption. Stalin used altruism for wrong. That does not damn altruism. It damns Stalin.

Separate what's true from what's not true. Altruism can most certainly be used for wrong; but so can such things as beauty, intelligence and money. None of these things are in themselves bad. These are things that carry appeal. And anything that has any kind of appeal will see some opportunist wanting to use it for wrong ends.

Beauty is not bad; intelligence is not bad; money is not bad. Neither is altruism. The problems are with those who use these things for wrong. Do not equate altruism with Stalinism. Do not equate beauty with unscrupulous plastic surgeons or stupid teenagers either. All of these things can be used for wrong. That does not make any of them bad.