[lit-ideas] Re: Applied Philosophy

  • From: "Mike Geary" <atlas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 10 May 2008 15:29:38 -0500

1. Human reason should not be reduced to instrumental reason.

You're right. I should be reduced to belief. At least that's what I believe.

Reason can identify morally worthy ends,

No it can't, belief can though.

ends possessing their own
intrinsic value, independent of consequentialist considerations.

Yeah, right. Like it's intrinsically wrong to lie -- even to save the feelings of a fellow human being, truth is the intrinsic value. Hell, it's even wrong intrinsically to lie to save your lives of your loved ones -- a lie is a lie. Yeah, right.

2. I doubt that Aristotle intended to identify emotions with virtues.

Who cares? Aristotle had his life with all it's Platonic and other Greek baggage -- concepts of virtue are what we derive out of our personal histories -- I get tired of saying this -- there are no transcendental truths telling one what is virtuous, only the individual's struggle with his own acquired beliefs derived from his own personal history as they are opposed to or conjoined with the beliefs of the the larger culture in which she finds herself immersed. Aristotle schmaristole.

I've always appreciated the example of paying my taxes. Regardless of whether I wish, want, desire, to pay my taxes, I have an obligation, I believe, to do so.

Do you have an obligation to pay taxes that go to support an illegal, unjust, immoral war? Or do you have an obligation not to do so. Is it more important that schools be kept open, roads be built or that innocent people not be blown apart? Hard questions. What do your transcendental truths tell you? Is it more important to go to jail for refusing to pay your taxes to support an immoral war or should you pay them and stay a voice within the community opposing the war, or pay them and keep your family out of impoverishment? What do transcendental truths tell us about such decision? Nothing. But I'll tell you what my life tells me. It's a fucking jungle out there and you have nothing to go on but your gut, which is you and your history. I knew people who felt obliged to call the FBI and tell them that they were refusing to register with the Draft during Vietnam because they believed the war was so horribly wrong. They all went to jail. I admired them but took the middle road of working the system, just as Cheney did and Rumsfeld, and Bush, and Wolfowitz and Feith and how many millions of others who could afford it -- was it the honest, honorable, transcendental thing to stay and work within the system and try to change it, or to own up to the fact that to do so was as dishonest as hell and therefore to turn yourself in to the State as an authentic human being? Transcendentally, I would guess the latter, though that's only a guess, and to me that's almost a selfish choice. Is it not more noble to stay out there in the world and pay that price with the pangs of conscience? Loss of revenue but not paying taxes are nothing compared to the guilt of paying the goddam blood-drenched taxes, it could be argued. Paying the price of opposition, how doe the scales of transcendentalism weigh that? I lost two teaching jobs preaching against the war, but I didn't care. I hated teaching. I wanted to teach my kids not to come to school. This is a nefarious institution, I came so close to saying. It exists to make you subservient workers. It wants to teach you to die for rich people. Burn the schools down. These places are full of death, physically and spiritually and emotionally. What you'll replace them with will probably be worse, but these institutions exist in opposition to your best interest. At least take control of them.

I never said that, but I certainly thought it. Schools are expedient ways of committing evil culture-wide -- that's the only transcendental truth, I'll admit to. They're also our only hope.

Mike Geary
on a rant
in Memphis.

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