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The Fourth Amendment – Privacilla

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Apr 222016

Home > Privacy and Government > Privacy Law Governing the Public Sector > The Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment is the primary, essential limit on the power of governments in the U.S. to inquire into people’s lives, arrest them, and take their property. It is also what prevents governments and their agents from invading citizens’ privacy.

The Fourth Amendment says:

The Fourth Amendment requires a search to be based on probable cause. That is, government investigators must have a rational belief that a crime has been committed and that evidence or fruits of the crime can be found. The question courts will ask when a citizen claims to have been unconstitutionally searched is whether that person had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the place, papers, or information that government agents have examined or taken.

In a society that both deplores crime and values liberty, there will always be a tension between law enforcement interests and the privacy of individuals. The modern age has increased the ability of criminals to hide crime and its proceeds, and law enforcement sometimes struggles to keep up. This sometimes inspires investigative methods that trample on the privacy expectations and Fourth Amendment rights of innocent citizens. The U.S. Supreme Court has not been a powerful guardian of the Fourth Amendment in recent years, further eroding some Fourth Amendment protections.

In addition, the growth of both the U.S. and state governments during the 20th century vastly increased the amount of information that governments collect. When information is collected for “administrative” purposes, like issuing licenses and benefits or collecting taxes, the government does not have to satisfy the Fourth Amendment. Unfortunately, sometimes this information is used by investigators, released or sold by government agencies, or just misused by rogue government employees. This invades citizens’ expectations of privacy and violates their Fourth Amendment rights.


Rescuing Search and Seizure by Stephen Budiansky, The Atlantic Monthly (October 2000)

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[updated 10/30/00]

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Products for Factory Automation, Process Control …

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Mar 272016


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Singularitarianism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Mar 232016

Singularitarianism is a movement[1] defined by the belief that a technological singularitythe creation of superintelligencewill likely happen in the medium future, and that deliberate action ought to be taken to ensure that the Singularity benefits humans.

Singularitarians are distinguished from other futurists who speculate on a technological singularity by their belief that the Singularity is not only possible, but desirable if guided prudently. Accordingly, they might sometimes dedicate their lives to acting in ways they believe will contribute to its rapid yet safe realization.[2]

Time magazine describes the worldview of Singularitarians by saying that “they think in terms of deep time, they believe in the power of technology to shape history, they have little interest in the conventional wisdom about anything, and they cannot believe you’re walking around living your life and watching TV as if the artificial-intelligence revolution were not about to erupt and change absolutely everything.”[1]

Inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil, author of the 2005 book The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, defines a Singularitarian as someone “who understands the Singularity and who has reflected on its implications for his or her own life”; he estimates the Singularity will occur around 2045.[2]

Singularitarianism coalesced into a coherent ideology in 2000 when artificial intelligence (AI) researcher Eliezer Yudkowsky wrote The Singularitarian Principles,[2][3] in which he stated that a Singularitarian believes that the singularity is a secular, non-mystical event which is possible and beneficial to the world and is worked towards by its adherents.[3]

In June 2000 Yudkowsky, with the support of Internet entrepreneurs Brian Atkins and Sabine Atkins, founded the Machine Intelligence Research Institute to work towards the creation of self-improving Friendly AI. MIRI’s writings argue for the idea that an AI with the ability to improve upon its own design (Seed AI) would rapidly lead to superintelligence. These Singularitarians believe that reaching the Singularity swiftly and safely is the best possible way to minimize net existential risk.

Many people believe a technological singularity is possible without adopting Singularitarianism as a moral philosophy. Although the exact numbers are hard to quantify, Singularitarianism is a small movement, which includes transhumanist philosopher Nick Bostrom. Inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil, who predicts that the Singularity will occur circa 2045, greatly contributed to popularizing Singularitarianism with his 2005 book The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology .[2]

What, then, is the Singularity? It’s a future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed. Although neither utopian or dystopian, this epoch will transform the concepts we rely on to give meaning to our lives, from our business models to the cycle of human life, including death itself. Understanding the Singularity will alter our perspective on the significance of our past and the ramifications for our future. To truly understand it inherently changes one’s view of life in general and one’s particular life. I regard someone who understands the Singularity and who has reflected on its implications for his or her own life as a singularitarian.[2]

With the support of NASA, Google and a broad range of technology forecasters and technocapitalists, the Singularity University opened in June 2009 at the NASA Research Park in Silicon Valley with the goal of preparing the next generation of leaders to address the challenges of accelerating change.

In July 2009, many prominent Singularitarians participated in a conference organized by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) to discuss the potential impact of robots and computers and the impact of the hypothetical possibility that they could become self-sufficient and able to make their own decisions. They discussed the possibility and the extent to which computers and robots might be able to acquire any level of autonomy, and to what degree they could use such abilities to possibly pose any threat or hazard (i.e., cybernetic revolt). They noted that some machines have acquired various forms of semi-autonomy, including being able to find power sources on their own and being able to independently choose targets to attack with weapons. They warned that some computer viruses can evade elimination and have achieved “cockroach intelligence.” They asserted that self-awareness as depicted in science fiction is probably unlikely, but that there were other potential hazards and pitfalls.[4] Some experts and academics have questioned the use of robots for military combat, especially when such robots are given some degree of autonomous functions.[5] The President of the AAAI has commissioned a study to look at this issue.[6]

Science journalist John Horgan has likened singularitarianism to a religion:

Let’s face it. The singularity is a religious rather than a scientific vision. The science-fiction writer Ken MacLeod has dubbed it the rapture for nerds, an allusion to the end-time, when Jesus whisks the faithful to heaven and leaves us sinners behind. Such yearning for transcendence, whether spiritual or technological, is all too understandable. Both as individuals and as a species, we face deadly serious problems, including terrorism, nuclear proliferation, overpopulation, poverty, famine, environmental degradation, climate change, resource depletion, and AIDS. Engineers and scientists should be helping us face the world’s problems and find solutions to them, rather than indulging in escapist, pseudoscientific fantasies like the singularity.[7]

Kurzweil rejects this categorization, stating that his predictions about the singularity are driven by the data that increases in computational technology have been exponential in the past.[8]

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Human Genetic Engineering – The Future of Human Evolution

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Mar 222016

Human genetic engineering is but one aspect of the overall field of Human Biotechnology. It is the most fascinating aspect of Human Biotechnology with the power to improve everyones quality of life, healing all of our genetic diseases permanently. We will soon be able to improve our mental, physical, and emotional capabilities. Well be able to introduce regenerative functions natural in other animals, increase longevity, and ensure a healthy diversity in the human genome. It carries the promise of enabling humanity to survive a wider range of environments on alien worlds ensuring our long term survival.

In this section of the website we have several articles on exactly what genetic engineering is, up to the state of the art, how it is accomplished, how we humans have been engaged in the activity for our own betterment for thousands of years, and how we can and are applying it to humans.

In addition to just the facts we also have a number of speculative articles that extrapolate the plausible, the probable, and the very unlikely in our exploration of the many paths to the future of human evolution.

The menu to the right has links to our genetic engineering articles.

Human Genetic Engineering: Improving the Quality of Life Now. Ensuring the Diverse, Robust Future of Human Evolution.

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Human Genetic Engineering – The Future of Human Evolution

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Ready-Made (Shelf) Offshore Companies Price List, off the …

 Offshore Companies  Comments Off on Ready-Made (Shelf) Offshore Companies Price List, off the …
Mar 202016

Our offshore shelf companies (ready made off-shore companies) were incorporated specifically for our customers who want a vintage offshore shelf company or just a shelf offshore company for immediate use.

These shelf companies all come with a nominee shareholder and nominee director. The documents included are: Certificate of Incorporation; Memorandum and articles of Association; Letter of Appointment of first Director; Declaration of Trust from the nominee shareholder; Power of Attorney from the nominee director; Minutes of the first meeting of the founders; Share Certificates; Register of Shareholders; Register of Directors; Apostille set of the incorporation documents.

The services provided also include: First year government filing fees; Registered agent services, (first year); Registered office, (first year); International express delivery (with the tracking number) by FedEx or DHL.

The table provides a list of ready-made offshore companies and their prices from which you can make your selection.



Renewal date:

US $



Anguilla IBC:

Bluconnex Ltd.


2965 US



Anguilla LLC:



2275 US



Dominica IBC:

Aurora Services Ltd


1530 US



21st Century Technologies Inc


2450 US



ADI Manufacturing Limited


2450 US



AITECH Services S.A


2450 US



Annex Corporation


2450 US



Boden Select Investments Corporation


2450 US



Bolte Property Developers Limited


2450 US



Catwalk Enterprises Inc


2450 US



Century Development and Investment Inc


2450 US



Das Geld GmbH


2450 US



Datacast Limited


2450 US



DexTrex Limited


2450 US



Earth Inc Traders S.A


2450 US



Etalics Investment Ltd


2450 US



Finetex Consulting Limited


2450 US



Flexrate Marketing Inc


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China’s Answer To The Hubble Telescope | Popular Science

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Mar 172016

While China’s manned space program has been getting a lot of attention, the country is also becoming a superpower in space exploration and science. In 2016, during its parliamentary sessions, China announced its space telescope program, which will advance China into capabilities only previously held by programs like the U.S. Hubble space telescope.

Zhang Yulin, a Deputy to the National People’s Congress and former Chairman of aerospace contractor CASC, noted that the Chinese space telescope would have a 2+meter diameter lens with a field of view 300 times that of the Hubble Space telescope, while maintaining the same level of image resolution. With such a wide field of view, the space telescope could survey 40 percent of the cosmos in ten years. Zhou Jianping, the head of China’s manned space program, noted that such a wide field-of-view would create a higher fidelity image to search for dark matter, dark energy, and exoplanets. Even more notable than the capabilities, however, may be the plan for where to locate the telescope.

Zhang said that the Chinese space telescope would orbit close to a Chinese space station, likely the Tiangong 3, so that Chinese taikonauts would quickly service any problems, compared to the 3.5 year wait for NASA to correct the Hubble Telescope’s mirror problems. The Tiangong 3’s two 15-meter-long robotic arms would be very helpful in servicing the space telescope. Using a space station as a permanent support base for a satellite has not yet been tried before; neither Skylab, Mir, nor the ISS had any large satellites close by. To outfit the Tiangong 3 for such a mission, China would need to stockpile supplies of tools and spares to provide for prompt servicing of a space telescope, though new technology such as monitoring nanosatellites could make telescope repairs easier. As China masters this space operational concept, the experience gained could provide a boost to future space projects, such as asteroid mining and the in orbit assembly of manned missions to Mars.

You may also be interested in:

China to Launch Powerful Civilian Hyperspectral Satellite

Gaofen 4, the World’s Most Powerful Geo Spy Satellite, Continues China’s Great Leap Forward in Space

China’s Largest Ever Space Rocket Takes Another Big Step Forward

China Show Cases Plan to Become the Leading Space Power

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China’s Answer To The Hubble Telescope | Popular Science

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Second Amendment to the United States Constitution – Simple …

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Feb 182016

Created on December 15, 1791, the Second Amendment in the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights that establishes the right of citizens to possess firearms for lawful purposes.[a] It says, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”[2]

When America was being colonized by European countries, firearms were very important to colonists.[3] When Europeans came here they brought with them the idea of land ownership by an individual.[4] They received this right from their king through land grants.[4] This was completely foreign to Native Americans who considered a particular territory belonged to the tribe.[4] Colonists defended their claims against Native Americans and other Europeans whose king may have granted them the same lands.[3] They also needed firearms for hunting. In many towns and villages, men were required to own firearms for the defense of the community. Most colonists coming to America in the 17th century had no experience as soldiers.[5] The British kept few soldiers in the colonies and colonists soon found they needed to establish militias.[5]

Colonies had militia laws that required every able-bodied man to be available for militia duty and to provide his own arms.[5] In 1774 and 1775, the British government, which now had a larger presence, attempted to disarm American colonists. This caused the formation of private militias independent of any control by the governors appointed by the British government.[5] The Minutemen who opposed the British Army at the Battles of Lexington and Concord were an independent militia.[5] After the American Revolutionary War, the framers of the Constitution, like most Americans of the time, distrusted standing armies and trusted militias.[5] After the Revolutionary war, state militias were trusted to defend the country. The Articles of Confederation, the new nation’s first constitution, called for each state to maintain a well-armed militia. Congress could only form a standing army by approval of nine of the thirteen states. This was one of the weaknesses that led to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and a new constitution. This gave Congress the power to call up the militias to defend the country against any foreign power. In the 18th century, the word “army” meant mercenaries.[5] Americans distrusted standing armies and were afraid they could be used to take over the country.[6]Oliver Cromwell and his military dictatorship of England was still well-remembered.[6]

Virginia was one of the first colonies to adopt a state constitution. They included the words: “a well regulated Militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defence of a free State.”[3] Other states followed with similar wording in their own constitutions. Pennsylvania declared: the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state; and as standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; And that the military should be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.”[3] In 1781 the Continental Congress approved the Articles of Confederation. This recognized the thirteen original states had the power to govern themselves. They acted collectively to have a congress, but did not provide any money to run it. There was no president and no court system. This confederation of states proved to be a very poor form of central government.

The Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from May 25 to September 17, 1787.[7] The purpose of the Convention was to revise the Articles of Confederation. But it became clear that the intention many of its members, including James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, was to create a new government rather than fix the existing one. The delegates elected George Washington to preside over the Convention. They eventually agreed on agreed on Madison’s Virginia Plan and began to make changes. The result was the Constitution of the United States and the present form of government.[7]

The constitution debate at Philadelphia caused two groups to form, the Federalists and the Anti-federalists. The federalists wanted a strong central government. The anti-federalists wanted the state governments to have the authority. The vote on the new Constitution was passed on a promise by federalists to support a Bill of Rights to be added to the Constitution.[8] Originally 12 amendments were considered. But in their final form, 10 amendments to the Constitution were agreed on. The Bill of Rights, as the first 10 amendments came to be called, originally applied to the national government rather than to states.[8] Many states already had their own Bill of Rights.[8] The Bill of Rights were ratified and went into effect in 1791.

The second amendment was a result of several proposals being combined together and simplified into just 27 words.[9] This simplification has caused many debates over gun ownership and individual rights. Historians, judges and others have repeatedly looked for the intended meaning by the 18th century writers of this amendment. [9] Different interpretations of the Second Amendment still cause public debates concerning firearm regulations and gun control.[9]

The case of District of Columbia v. Heller brought before the Supreme Court was based on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decision written by Judge Laurence H. Silberman.[10] The decision made the ban on guns by the District of Columbia invalid.[10] The decision was based on the second comma (after the word “state”) as proof that the Second Amendment allows individuals the right to carry a gun.[10] This is in addition to the right of states to maintain militias.[10]

The Second Amendment ratified by the States and approved by the Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, said:

The version passed by Congress and signed by President George Washington (but never ratified by the States) said:

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Second Amendment to the United States Constitution – Simple …

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What is Nihilism? |

 Nihilism  Comments Off on What is Nihilism? |
Feb 122016

Nihilism Defined

A common, but misleading, description of nihilism is the ‘belief in nothing’. Instead, a far more useful one would substitute ‘faith’ for ‘belief’ where faith is defined as the “firm belief in something for which there is no proof.” A universal definition of nihilism could then well be the rejection of that which requires faith for salvation or actualization and would span to include anything from theology to secular ideology. Within nihilism faith and similar values are discarded because they’ve no verifiable objective substance, they are invalid serving only as yet another exploitable lie never producing any strategically beneficial outcome. Faith is an imperative hazard to group and individual because it compels suspension of reason, critical analysis and common sense. Nietzsche once said that faith means not wanting to know. Faith is ‘don’t let those pesky facts get in the way of our political plan or our mystically ordained path to heaven’; faith is ‘do what I tell you because I said so’. All things that can’t be disproved need faith, utopia needs faith, idealism needs faith, and spiritual salvation needs faith. Abolish faith!


The second element nihilism rejects is the belief in final purpose, that the universe is built upon non-random events and that everything is structured towards an eventual conclusive revelation. This is called teleology and it’s the fatal flaw plaguing the whole rainbow of false solutions from Marxism to Buddhism and everything in between. Teleology compels obedience towards the fulfillment of “destiny” or “progress” or similar such grandiose goals. Teleology is used by despots and utopian dreamers alike as a coercive motivation leading only to yet another apocryphal apocalypse; the real way to lead humanity by the nose tell them it’s all part of the big plan so play along, or else! It may even seem reasonable but there is not now and never has been any evidence the universe operates teleologically there is no final purpose. This is the simple beauty nihilism has that no other idea-set does. By breaking free from the tethers of teleology one is empowered in outlook and outcome because for the first time it’s possible to find answers without proceeding from pre-existing perceptions. We’re finally free to find out what’s really out there and not just the partial evidence to support original pretext and faulty notions only making a hell on earth in the process. So abolish teleology too!

Nihilism is primarily skepticism coupled with reduction, but in practical reality it takes on more than one facet which often leads to a confusion of definitions. In the most general sense nihilism has two major classifications, the first is passive and usually goes by the term existential or ‘social’ nihilism and the second is active and is termed ‘political’ nihilism.

Existential nihilism is a passive world view which revolves around such topics as suffering and futility, and even has connections to Eastern mysticism like Buddhism. In a more direct sense existential ‘social’ nihilism is manifest within the sense of isolation, futility, angst, and the hopelessness of existence increasingly prevalent within the modern digital world, an effect referred to as the ‘downward spiral’. A direct way to describe it might be ‘detachment from everything’.

Words used to describe political nihilism include active, revolutionary, destructive, and even creative. Political nihilism is dictionary defined as the realization “that conditions in the social organization are so bad as to make destruction desirable for its own sake independent of any constructive program or possibility.” It deals with authority and social structures rather than simply the introspective, personal emotions of existential nihilism.

Political nihilism is especially a world-view that’s rational, logical, empirical, scientific and devoid of pointless, extraneous emotion. It’s the logical psyche that distills everything down into what is known, what can be known and what can’t be known. It’s the realization that all values are ultimately relativistic and in some ways the simplicity of nihilism is its own complexity.

An estimable and succinct definition of a (political) nihilist comes from Ivan Turgenev’s 1861 novel Fathers And Sons, “A nihilist is a person who does not bow down to any authority, who does not accept any principle on faith, however much that principle may be revered.”

So the two classes of nihilism overlap but the CounterOrder is mostly about this second stage of ‘political’ nihilism for reasons of brevity, because the existential angle when not stillborn generally leads to political nihilism anyway, because nihilism isn’t something to just talk about it’s something you live, and finally because political nihilism has real world history and experience as you will read in a moment concerning the Russian revolutionaries in Historical Nihilism below. Ultimately however, the nihilistic direction one travels depends on what the individual wishes to make out of life.

To negate and circumvent the paradoxes and internal contradictions inherent within existential nihilism is the course of the ‘political’ nihilism you’re reading.

Nihilism is the destruction of idle philosophy, the negation of idealism, the negation of mythology, and the destruction of perplexity along with the disingenuous despots that profit from it as the monopolist interpreters of artificial confusion. Therefore, Nihilism’s definitions are:

1) When conditions in the social organization are so unhealthy as to make destruction desirable for its own sake independent of any constructive program or possibility.

2) A doctrine of skepticism coupled with reduction that refutes faith, teleology, arbitrary morality, sacred values and principles, heresy, blasphemy, and similar beliefs while maintaining that existing political, social, and economic institutions based on these beliefs must be destroyed.

3) A methodology for a biologically-based existence that rejects arbitrary morality in favor of cause and effect and inviolate forces, predicated upon that which is objectively self-evident and without need of belief, within a sustainable mental and physical environment that promotes independent thinking and critical expression.

Historical Nihilism

The first nihilists were likely the Greek Sophists who lived about 2,500 years ago. They used oratorical skills and argumentative discourse to challenge the values upon which everyday beliefs rested. The Greek sophists, such as Gorgias, represented the beginning of philosophy and the first conflict between the traditional mystical belief system and a rational, skeptical view of the natural world. It was as basic as the difference between a worldview based on emotion and one on thought. Because the sophists challenged established beliefs they were often condemned by public authorities and critics as moral corrupters or worse.

One of the earliest nihilistic writers of the modern era was the Dane Soren Aabye Kierkegaard who lived from 1813 to 1855. Kierkegaard was a truly unique but also enigmatic philosopher who established the foundation of the philosophy later termed existentialism. Kierkegaard’s existentialism was in many ways a negation of the ruling Hegelian philosophy, views deeply rooted in Kierkegaard’s Lutheran Protestantism that reflected the ideals of the subjectivity of truth and the nature of life as a uniquely individual pursuit. To be brutally succinct existentialism posits that existence is based on experience and this experience is a uniquely individualized sensation, in other words my reality is not your reality. Modern quantum physical ‘philosophy’ returned to this theme of solipsism during the late 20th century using empirical mathematics.

The Russian Nihilists Political nihilism goes back at least to Russia during the last half of the 1800s as a revolutionary movement with the stated goal of overthrowing the despotic authority of the Czar.

In Russia, nihilism became identified with a loosely organized revolutionary movement (C.1860-1917) that rejected the authority of the state, church, and family. … The movement advocated a social arrangement based on rationalism and materialism as the sole source of knowledge and individual freedom as the highest goal. By rejecting man’s spiritual essence in favor of a solely materialistic one, nihilists denounced God and religious authority as antithetical to freedom. From: The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

By modern standards the Nihilists attempts at revolution were inconsistent and mostly ineffective lobbing low quality munitions at the Czar and his family and even getting themselves blown up in the process. But what they lacked in equipment and tactics they made up for with vision, ideas, and an unparalleled intensity.

The nihilists enjoyed shocking their parents by calling for an end to the old moral system, advocating, for instance, the extermination of everybody in Russia over the age of 25. In the 1860’s many of these young intellectuals went to Switzerland, where the proper Swiss bourgeoisie were scandalized at the men with their hair cut long and the girls with their hair cut short, at their loud voices and insolent behaviour. [1]

The mark left by the Russian Nihilists was not in ephemeral political change but rather a revolution of ideas and attitudes, one that still resonates today. “The earnest young men and women [Nihilists] of the 1860’s wanted to cut through every polite veneer, to get rid of all conventional sham, to get to the bottom of things.” [4]

Anarchism Both modern Nihilists and anarchists can trace roots to the intensepersonality of Mikhael Bakunin in the 19th century who succinctly reflected the nihilist sentiment with his famous statement: “Let us put our trust in the eternal spirit which destroys and annihilates only because it is the unsearchable and eternally creative source of all.” Anarchism and nihilism are often confused, but looking deeper we can see that they view events from a different perspective. For example the anarchist says that ‘no one has the authority to tell another what to do’. But the nihilist replies that if the one giving orders has a gun and the other not, then what do rights or authority matter? Indeed, what benefit is constitution at the moment of any criminal event?

The abuse and exploitation of power by illegitimate authority is as old as history because human behavior is primarily selfish and will usually take advantage of the situation as much as allowed. Right or wrong, authority and power remain. Nevertheless it’s also true that the demand for fair treatment and equal opportunity are just as timeless. Human social development is a story of the constant struggle between the two forces. In this struggle the only healthy and functional structure remains one of robust checks and balances.

Anarchists are typically idealists that believe in subjective concepts such as peace, legal justice, and especially the universal noble nature of all individuals (at least under the proper social conditions). These myths can serve a constructive function, but all too often dogmatic attachment only serves to lead us astray. It’s critical that we criticize and reconsider even what we value most.

The Nihilist realizes that history is abused and misconstrued through the formation of artificial lines and erroneous connections between disparate events, only to substantiate preconceived interpretations of reality, the classic teleological myth.

We draw an imaginary thread through the ages to chart the course we judge to be the ‘correct’ one. All wrong views are ignored. This approach was dubbed the ‘Whig’ theory of history by Herbert Butterfield. The name derived from those past historians who treated history as a record of events that culminated in the political system dear to their own hearts: the liberal democracy. [2]

It’s an understandable product of human evolution to not only detect patterns but also get carried away and concoct them as well.

Human nature sees things that aren’t really there, just think of optical illusions or Rorschach ink-blot tests. Much of life is nothing interpreted as something. This is because dealing with the yawning absence necessitates the concoction of a something to grasp the nothing, thereby ignoring the perilous obvious by manufacturing a more malleable artificial myth. Yet the attitude of a Nihilist is contradictory to this because they aim to view human character as it actually is and understand purpose within context.

Objective Reality & Freewill

It’s remarkable how even a modicum of logic and scientific philosophy demonstrates the difficulty of defining what is real and the rules to describe it. Like a sandpit the more one struggles the tougher it gets. So an important value to question is objective reality. The closest match might be scientific laws which are merely consistent principles and the most powerful ones are just statistical constructs.

This struggle to define objective reality implies a lack of objective truth, but really this philosophical assumption leads to neither clarity nor accurate interpretations. Even a state of total chaos has statistical uniformities. Consensus can be found and in fact it’s remarkably prevalent. Commonality can be found and built upon at many levels but absolutes are less meaningful here than consistency; ultimate reality is fuzzy because it’s a product of probabilities. The key is to utilize the solid and avoid the ambiguous, bet on the likely and not the unlikely.

Existence is largely defined by perception because reality is contextual. If you perceive yourself to be weak and without willpower then you will find life is such. Conversely, if you perceive that you have the power to change things in your life, so it will be. In the same way we tend to find what we expect just as physicists contemplate how a photon can be both a wave and a particle. This essence doesnt mean that practical reality is an illusion, rather it is multi-dimensional.

The random and statistical qualities of nature are critical forces because they negate the credibility of teleology, that purposeful predestination that undermines freewill. So one actually has the option to passively accept the socio-historically established concoction of absolutes, truth and moral laws, the objective reality which can be nothing but myth. Or you can accept real for what it is and assume the healthier role of active participant constantly defining existence through perception and intelligence. In this way defining existence is predicated upon life, conscious awareness of sensory input combined with critical interpretation of what that input means. And the more highly developed the consciousness or the greater the intelligence the more effective and meaningful is existence.

Passivity is a myth. We are all intricately enmeshed within a dynamic system that doesn’t just demand but compels active decision-making.

Hence the difference between passive ‘social’ and active ‘political’ nihilism is that one accepts whatever happens within futility and pointlessness while the other destroys/creates meaning and value. Which path a person takes is a personal decision within the limits of ability, and that means one does have choice; existence is not predetermined or fatally ordained. However, default answers and the compulsion of conformity shouldn’t be overlooked. Reality is contextual.

Beyond Good and Evil

Religious believers and philosophers alike frequently ask the question, does evil exist?, as if they need to be continually reassured that it does and we agree with them. Many are completely convinced that evil is everywhere, yet the same people are equally sure of luck, fate, and mysterious malevolent powers out to defeat all their noble efforts. But all these imaginary influences are simply projections of a selfish ego. In fact, there is no natural evil, and no malicious intent exists within any forces of the universe.

An old Russian proverb states, “There is no evil, but that it brings some good, revealing that even in standard Manichean theology every god has a devil and every good requires an evil to shadow it. Even to define evil as wholly immoral acts we still have to specify which set of moral of standards were using as rule book. Is it the Bible? The Talmud? The I Ching?! Obviously, evil is a variable, yet nonetheless consistent elements of healthy and unhealthy can still be discerned within the boundaries of a species due to the shared genetic material. Actions and events that benefit the growth and well-being of the species, and the individuals within it, are colloquially, but consistently, termed good and the opposite as evil. For instance the chicken, as well as the human owner, considers the fox evil because he sneaks in to commit murder, yet the fox doesnt consider his species’ carnivorous actions to be evil but rather entirely good because they mean food and survival. This analogy also reminds us that we can go much farther with symbiosis and cooperation than with warfare.

For intelligent creatures good and evil are unnecessary categories, theyre loaded terms that intentionally obscure actual forces and events while impeding our ability to accurately comprehend both. We shouldnt view life and existence as a conflict between good and evil; to do so is both foolish and self-defeating because it requires us to declare war on ourselves, our instincts, and even unavoidable natural laws!

Nihilism is a consequence of the personal realization that values previously assumed inviolate are wholly false and unworkable, and the ultimate esteem with which these morals have been uplifted leads to a catastrophic withdrawal to the opposite extreme when the deception is recognized. And while an acceptance of nihilism immediately returns a perspective of utter futility for life and universal existence, this perspective is not the final resolution. As Nietzsche once wrote in The Will to Power, “Nihilism represents a pathological transition phase…” Existence is not futile simply because the edifice of modern morality is inherently dysfunctional. Actually existence has even more purpose now because a proper perspective has been attained and a reason is finally clear the complete destruction of the debasing, theologically derived moral order. Thus the nihilist is at base a creator of the highest magnitude and a survivor of the most intense metaphysical struggle of all time. The nihilist undergoes a personal evolution and has proven themselves the mental superiors to the herd and mob, they have proven their will and ‘license’ for continued existence and have successfully escaped from the circus of values. Once the transvaluation of values is complete an entirely new and sane perspective can be achieved.

A Little Perspective

Everybody has an answer, but not just any answer, the answer. If you think about it it’s truly amazing the sheer number of people that have the officially authorized monopoly on truth. This fact alone highlights the dissonance of absolute values and the misguided nature of idealism. What quantitative value would you place on your life? A life insurance corporation could concoct an exact dollar amount. But even that figure may be inflated, the chemical compounds that make up your body are only worth a few cents. But isn’t life more valuable than gold, oil or other commodities? Think again.

Human arrogance conveniently assumes itself the apex of evolution yet in reality the corporeal being is merely a disposable vehicle for the reproduction of genetic material, not the other way around! Perhaps the most profound realization of the 20th century remains mostly unknown for it is the genes that are the master and not the individual human created by them. This helps explain why many human cravings are harmful to the self but profitable to the genes, and the prevalence of certain self-destructive behaviors. And remarkably this is the true solution to the classic existential dilemma, why life is just death or as John Lennon once put it, “Why in the world are we here? Surely not to live in pain and fear,” yet apparently we are! The human body isn’t programmed for pain-free longevity, just long enough to reproduce physically and to perpetuate learned skills, which is why doctors will never run out of business. The biological boss may be too small to see but it’s far too powerful to ignore.

If human value could be measured outside the skewed perspective of the collective ego it might look something like this; if only one individual existed on planet Earth they would be the most important human. If two people existed their individual significance would be divided in half (1/2). If six thousand million people existed on Earth what would the individual significance of each one be? A simple equation shows the value as the fractional percentage of the whole population plus any incidental, conjectural additives from education, training, intelligence etc. Presupposing this Marxian values system of universal equality the formula for individual human value is:

It’s clear that overpopulation dramatically diminishes the value of human life. So, is it any wonder religion is so popular and why human nature so desperately seeks meaning and purpose even in the most ridiculous places? Why do so many people hide behind money fooling only themselves into thinking that wealth gives them significance? Isn’t it painfully obvious why society invents artificial concepts of justice, morality, and ethics? The brutality and utter irrationality of the animal world is just outside the rusty gates of our crumbling civilization. But isn’t it comforting to know that as long as we’re inside we have the warming sensation of fairness, equality and justice for all (that can afford it anyway)?

Self-delusion seems to be a defining quality of human behavior. Lies maintain our flimsy order, we find consolation in myths like ‘what we do has significance’ and ‘God punishes the wicked’. The constant avalanche of empirical evidence to the contrary simply gets relegated to the third class bureau of irrational philosophers.

Hypocrisy can flourish when goodness is defined not only as kind and altruistic behavior, but as sticking to the rules and obligations of the faith. [3]

Our ‘leaders’ wage war in the name of peace and establish democracy with an iron fist. Our traditional values are warped; they reflect fantasy not reality. Our values are so removed from actual substance that fantasy becomes reality and truth becomes error. This is the primary difficulty in conveying the meaning of nihilism because all morally loaded concepts are biased against a lucid description of the nihilistic viewpoint. Nietzsche was addressing this issue when he wrote the title and the book Beyond Good and Evil. But it’s not just a series of lies it’s a debasing and wholly aberrant structure. The problem is so deep that even the words to define it must be replaced with a new lexicon.

Nuclear power remains a beautiful analogy for the era we live in, a struggling existence bounded between torment and ecstasy, every day living all shades in between. We can ultimately accomplish whatever we can imagine while moving forward with curiosity and courage, yet we still battle the drag of fear and cowardice.

We walk the edge of a sword in this process of human development, aware that we can cure the illnesses of millions, or vaporize them with a bomb, and nothing outside of our planet (until we leave it) is going to care whether we do one or the other.

Nihilism challenges the assumptions supporting common values such as ‘equality’; ‘pity’, ‘justice’, but also terms of conclusion about human existence. Existential values, terms such as ‘meaningless’, ‘pointless’ and ‘futile’, are flawed because their definitions stem from the moral values that have hitherto been rejected. We have to criticize justice when events demonstrate that in court it’s not whether one is guilty or not, but how persuasive their lawyer is, or how thoroughly the judge and jury have been rhetorically manipulated! ‘Justice’ is the confusing legalese that your high-priced barrister can spew in the courtroom like an oil slick in front of a pursuing vehicle. The rich go free while the poor go to prison. Justice has been perverted beyond recognition, ironically through a dogmatic belief in its sanctity and immutability. It’s clearly time to question the root assumptions.

The Pitfalls of Artificial Law

It may seem peculiar how terms like ‘moral’, ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ are used in conversation. People will tell you they’re moral individuals but they don’t say moral according to who or what even though every culture and religious order has different standards. They’ll tell you they’re liberal and one is supposed to assume they mean it politically instead of liberal users of peyote or stamps on heavy envelopes. ‘Progress’ is another favorite; progress is good but as in the spread of cancer? Or maybe they mean the spread of Wal-Mart’s to every town in the world with at least 5,000 people?

But the consistent message people are trying to convey in conversation is their own subtle deviation from the political and social norm and from the ambient morality which is to say from the definitions and standards processed, packaged and pumped into them by media, government and church authorities. Since all these concepts are unable to be empirically codified they assume elastic values that are easily warped to serve despots and unhealthy outcome, which is why Nietzsche wisely stated:

“Morality is the best of all devices for leading mankind by the nose.”

But moral laws aren’t the only kind that can be warped to serve disingenuous ends. The greater the personal wealth and property one controls or possesses the more laws are needed to protect that wealth. Conversely, the less one owns the fewer laws are needed for protecting it. At a point of total poverty, where one has nothing but the self, they would only feel the need for laws against killing i.e. ‘thou shalt not murder’. In other words the degree of law desired is directly proportional to the wealth in possession. Laws protect that vested power and the people owning it by providing consistent codified support for the control and distribution of that wealth. But even though the stated desire for legality is universal the interpretation of that legality is not, clearly varying between haves and have-nots, a schism fervently exploited by Marxists. Enter the lawyers who are mercenaries paid to reinterpret the law to favor the client. Since the rich have the money to buy the most powerful lawyers and since the establishment of precedent is defined through epic court battles, common law is gradually skewed in favor of those rich patrons. Hence the emergence of a class-bifurcated, sanctimonious justice system and the erosion of legal fairness. Scientific research shows that in a police lineup witnesses’ who choose an incorrect person are just as confident as ones that choose the correct one because human memory fills in the blanks with assumptions. Furthermore juries are just as credulous of false or inaccurate testimony as legitimate because all that really matters is strength of conviction. The criminal justice system warps science and the witness to its own ends because the only thing that matters in this setting is which side you are on prosecution or defense.

Laws are employed to shield the incompetent and mitigate the influence of the capable. For example, a cop with a gun can be a greater danger than a ‘criminal’ because they have an official sanction to kill; their murder is backed by the concept of law. The government and legal institutions have no higher morality than the ‘criminal’ does; they are prone to heinous conduct just as, if not worse than the criminal is, without impartial oversight. One party can act with impunity; the other will be executed. So what of “rights”? Nihilism views rights as irrelevant because it’s the underlying structures of morality and the roots of truth, myth and collective delusions that dictate significance. Morality and ethics are artificial byproducts of culture and through hypocrisy and abuse are warped into becoming illusory forces.

Some argue that money is a proxy for achievement, but this is false. Money is aggregated amongst the already wealthy. Nor does our capitalist society promote achievement through the educational establishment, the mythical system of western mandarinism perpetuated by certain members of the intelligentsia . The true nature of the system is based more on connections and wealth than merit. The true nature of the system is based more on connections and wealth than merit. The number of slots to get on this escalator to social achievement is limited, and those already powerful get to choose who gets those slots. It has never been truer than today, the rich get richer while the poor get poorer.

Systemic Self-Destruction

Nihilism is an awareness that destruction is at least as important as construction, even more so when institutions have outlived their usefulness to become corrupt and unhealthy. Idealist crusades fail because they never remove the vestiges of the past order. Think of it biologically, would Homo sapiens have evolved out of the Mesozoic era, or would they have just been dino-snacks? We’re here because of a previous mass extinction! The old order didn’t mutate, it was catastrophically destroyed because that’s the only way radical, meaningful change can occur. Revolutions fail because the willpower to enact the necessary severity of change is lacking. Actually it’s not just willpower it’s the total vision that’s usually lacking. Some call Karl Marx a revolutionary but Marxism isn’t genuine revolution it’s just rearranging the artificial order. Every ideology on the books is merely a convenient way to re-order the present situation; they just shuffle the same old cards and the people end up worse off than before! Nihilism plays a completely new game, but the old game of lies and myths always self-destructs eventually. These are the cycles of history, the recycling of flawed ideologies and our era is a prime example.

Nihilism is the organic logical response to artificial chaos, the intentional chaos manufactured by government, religion, and mass-media.

Every political ideology has been discredited as an affront to freedom and well-being. From capitalism to communism the blindly faithful never test and verify theory before implementation, so the fatal flaw is always the same actualization; its the predictable literalization of faith and myth. Besides producing voluminous hypocrisy and tyranny the byproduct of sham ideologies and fractional logic includes extensive pollution of both the human mind and the Earth’s ecosystem. Think of the billions of dollars spent to produce nuclear, biological and chemical weapons all to have them rust and leak in storage bunkers from Tooele to Tomsk-7. Millions toiling to produce ultra-deadly nerve gas and radioactive waste with a four and a half billion year half-life. Nihilists know who to ‘thank’- and who to stop from doing it again.


Independent theologies and decentralized organizations have replaced the Church/State monopoly. With the loss of government support (money) the Church has revealed its true nature as the giant predatory profit-motivated scam that it is. The theological monopoly has been broken and now any faith is just as valid as any other is. History will rate the separation of Church and State as one of the most critical pivots of the modern era. The secondary effect of this is that the national population doesn’t know which faith to choose, and although religion can’t be eliminated it can be easily replaced. Now all the addicts to God will have to make do with a pluralistic methadone.


Every election season has its battle over education in some form or another. These conflicts only become more heated as relative values polarize amidst social disintegration and the concomitant increase of media attention on school violence. But this incessant emphasis on ‘education’ has little to do with training skills in socialization or adaptability and everything to do with myth indoctrination! This is why religious groups fight like hell for separate private or home schooling. Instead of learning critical reasoning skills useful for all applications education has been turned into a process for molding and warping young when they’re most impressionable in order to serve corporate demands, and not the needs of society and the intellectual development of the individual. Given the stunning uselessness of most school material within practical life, it seems difficult to explain the education scam otherwise, except perhaps as hollow tradition or keeping the kids off the streets for a few hours each day. Employers and authority powers all look for those stamped and notarized pieces of paper to effortlessly determine the gullibility and exploitability of a person, how quickly they’ll latch on to authorized opinions and follow orders without questions, or at least that’s how a cynic would posit degrees and diplomas are really being used.


Those inveterate despots and prostitutes for the Church, one of mankind’s long lasting afflictions, the monarchy has finally been eliminated and relegated to a proper place in the dusty archives of history. Unfortunately the new master, the mass media, has simply replaced much of monarchic authority.


The nation no longer has any real meaning except as a vestigial tool to drag the public into fratricidal conflicts or generate enthusiastic rivalry for sporting events. The citizenry get the pain without the benefits of nationalism anymore because leaders fail to protect their citizens from external threats. Money, immigrants, religion, drugs and disease all cross political boundaries with impunity, ironically usually unmolested by nationalist politicians. The facile irony only masks the hypocrisy of the domestic leadership that parrots nationalist rhetoric yet acts in favor of international moneyed interests; they talk local but act global. The super-rich arent restricted by nationalism, they and their money can move anywhere they want and play one country against another for greater profits. Nationalism is just like religion, it’s a means of exploiting the poor and ignorant with faith and blind obedience.

Never let government shrink-wrap your mind with their flag.

Patriotism follows the same pattern of obsolescence because anymore it has been hijacked to mean obedience to the suicidal dictates of corrupt authority. As long as the domestic death-toll can be kept to a minimum war is good and noble because it generates employment and corporate profits.

Traditional faith in the military establishment has become equally foolish. The creation of the professional military composed of volunteers drastically alters the equation, elevating imperialism and executive authority over the needs of the greater public. The worlds of the military and the civilian used to be intricately related. Now the two are rapidly spinning in opposite directions. Mistrust, ignorance, and incompetence have created a re-evaluation of the mission of the military and even its very necessity.

Mass Media

The character of the mass media is finally being viewed as the imperative threat to collective health that it really is. Democracy is a sham when the primary media filters and manipulates the vast majority of information voters need to accurately judge candidates and issues, while making a fortune broadcasting specious and vitriolic campaign advertisements. Not only do the same companies own the networks, but they’re owned by the same people, and the trend towards consolidation and mergers continues unabated.

This highlights a few elements of the decaying superstructure but to stop at that would be a fatal flaw Marx’s mistake. It’s an unfortunate fault of simplistic human nature to first target the visible elements. But to merely attack the visible superstructure of capitalism, church and politicians is doomed without reaching the “demons” in the public consciousness. Don’t make the mistake of anarchism, reach and dissolve the myths and the lies, the foolish ideas and the self-destructive notions, as well as the people that preach it. The relativistic moral codes of “good” is this and “bad” is that, they’re cynically reinvented by self-righteous leaderships to achieve misguided, mystical goals. And the intangible, non-verifiable goals make the sweetest bait because no one can claim otherwise! If you want to change a belief you must first change an environment because what the masses believe is formed by what they hear and see around them.

“The great revolutions are those of manners and thought. Changing the name of a government does not transform the mentality of a people.” Gustave Le Bon

The strategic success of revolution is predicated upon reaching these roots. How? Use the acidic dissolution of delusion. Ridicule the ridiculous; highlight absurdity, contradiction and irony. Make fun of the foolish and faithful alike but more importantly the notions they use and discredit delusion by every means available. Propagate the replacement and fill the vacuum left by the discredited myths. Fill it with facts built from the boundaries of the known and the unknown in order to deal with the present and not some fictional afterlife. Counteract religious modes convince the public that natural behavior and instinct are normal again. Work to build havens from mass-media and pop-cultural influences allowing anyone the freedom of independent thought and introspection unfettered by the corporate sponsored, brand positioned homogenized opinions doled out like drug-laced candy.

We tend to think of revolution to mean violent armed conflict such as in a civil war but a revolution can be entirely peaceful and non-violent, for a revolution is really just a radical, fundamental shift in individual and collective viewpoint.

So when does the revolution start? It already has! Act accordingly in what you do and what you say. There’s no half measure and no fence to sit on, everyone is a participant in this omnipresent psychological war because it has no front-line or boundaries. Every mind is a battlefield and every person with above room temperature body warmth and IQ is a combatant. Now’s the time to decide which side to be on.

A Brief History of Power

Within crude authority structures power is transmitted via violence, or at least the threat of violence. In less primitive authority systems power is primarily transmitted through mechanisms of money: bribes, kickbacks, and the various forms of financial corruption. Within more advanced authority structures power is mostly wielded through mechanisms of belief: faith, popular assumptions, and myths. This is why within the modern system of coercion through belief media control is so critical to authority because that’s the means of manipulating the range of acceptable thoughts within the public mind.

So, just as power through violence and fear has become obsolete and strategically ineffective, coercion through belief is now becoming an obsolescent method of control. This development is largely due to advanced communications technology spreading practical ideas and information, along with the universal application of standardized and scientifically-based education. Eventually, with struggle, we will supplant the use of force and coercion with structures of social organization that are not based on whim or belief but built from impartial testing and verification, in other words, methods and ideas that actually function as intended in practice. When statement, intent and effect are matched then political and social hypocrisy are eliminated.

Despite the remarkable progression of human development we can still find examples of the various structures of power in different locations throughout our contemporary world. And when establishment authority loses legitimacy, through ineptitude and corruption or other reasons, they frequently resort to more crude forms of coercion in order to cement their hold on power. In this regard it’s wise to remember that even within a political system based purely on power and force, the subjugated have every natural and inalienable right to resist and overthrow those in power over them. Of course whether theyre able to or not is another matter, but the point is that an authority system based on power, whether stated as such or covered behind layers of hypocrisy and rhetoric, is one thats inherently unstable and where violence begets greater violence in cyclical fashion. At best this can be described as asymmetrical development.

Power, Sex, Revolution

Every monolithic establishment seems impossible to change when were trapped within it, yet the revolution always seems inevitable in retrospect. Contrary to the view of the irrational pessimists human society does grow and develop, and even human nature evolves too. We’re not doomed to repeat the past unless we fail to learn from it.

Vertical authority structures have been frequent features of the past 6,000 years of male-dominated human history. However, to believe that power and force are the only ways to structure a society is both profoundly foolish and historically myopic, even as such beliefs serve as convenient justification for contemporary abuses. The Paleolithic to the Neolithic era, around 6,000 to 60,000 years-ago and beyond, was the reverse featuring successful civilizations structured around women. And now in the 21st century, with the development of increasingly advanced reproductive technology like bio-engineered sperm, the human species has moved into a completely unprecedented and astonishing realm: a third sexual age that has effectively rendered the male sex biologically redundant.

The symbols and images of early human civilizations were almost exclusively of women, sometimes abstract and highly stylized. More recently these symbols were replaced by men while at the same time slavery and violence suddenly became commonplace.

It is thought that the Cucuteni would sacrifice whole cities every 60-80 years by intentionally burning thousands of their houses. They would then move and create another new settlement. [5]

Structured authority predicated upon force leaves much to be desired, most notably the stifling of human potential amid the upheaval of violence and brutality, both physical and psychological. Over millennia of accumulated experience, through wars and revolutions, and stepping-stone criticism by enlightened thinkers, the human species has devised means of structuring social authority, resources and power that strives towards more equitable formations that are therefore more stable and flexible, empowering greater numbers. This system in modern form revolves around concepts of equally distributed freedoms, rights of varying definition, and widespread expectations of fair treatment and open opportunity; symmetrical development. The concept of rules being equally applied to everyone, the ruler and ruled, and the realization that neither is inherently superior to the other, is a development as remarkable as it is revolutionary in human history.

The Russian Nihilists were a part of this process of human development, fighting to overthrow abusive and despotic authority and to build a society based on scientifically rational treatment for everyone. This kind of struggle doesnt come easy, it requires persistence and stamina, and especially a sober awareness of potential and pitfall, separating myth from facts. We dont have to exist under fear, torture and abuse. Freedom, peace, and cooperation are just as valid physical dimension within the virtually limitless realm of our universe, even superior because they confer unambiguous benefits to the vast majority involved within society; but well never arrive there using faith and hope, guided by belief and fictional saviors. Together we have the potential to achieve anything with a vision and persistence. The question is: will we try?

280 Million Years of Nihilism

It’s a characteristic of the human mind to turn simplicity into subjective complexity and to construe difficulty from life where none exists. Today the archetypal question for philosophers is “why are we here?” Ask a human and a serious response will probably involve complex reasoning involving mystical deities or introspective analysis. But before we leave the final answer with humanity I think we need a second opinion.

Some 280 million years ago the first amphibians began life outside water. These Labryinthodonts named for their infolded tooth enamel typically had large triangular heads and wide, flat bodies that looked like giant road-kill without the tread marks. Tetrapods like these crawled around on land eating worms, maybe a few bugs but basically whatever they could catch and digest. Not much to look at or admire yet they gave rise to all other land vertebrates, reptiles, birds, and yes eventually even literate humans.

If we could ask the same of a Permian tetrapod what mysterious, and enlightening answers would they provide? Perhaps something like “I don’t understand the question, I just want to avoid death.”

Odd isn’t it that they never had any goal or god, no soul or hope of an afterlife indeed they lacked any purpose beyond the brief struggle for life and yet millions of years later here we are reading this because of it, because they existed and evolved? We as humans exist in the same physical universe, subject to the same rules of physics and biology, the same need for sea-water salinity body fluid, the same protein and amino acids … Decades of scientific inquiry and careful research all to reach the inescapable conclusion that the point is there is no point. The joke is on us because we turned the absurdly simple into the dangerously complex.

The answer to “why are we here?” is no different for human, Labryinthodont or jellyfish, because we live in the same world subject to the same physical limitations and end up in the same place after death. Well, some leave better fossils than others. Now we see why fear of death is such a natural instinct and why religion exerts so much concerted effort to contradict that instinct.

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Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment

 Fifth Amendment  Comments Off on Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment
Feb 052016

Fifth Amendment

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The Bill of Rights, which consists of the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, enumerates certain basic personal liberties. Laws passed by elected officials that infringe on these liberties are invalidated by the judiciary as unconstitutional. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1791, represents five distinct liberties the that Framers attempted to safeguard from majoritarian impulses: (1) the right to be indicted by an impartial Grand Jury before being tried for a federal criminal offense,(2) the right to be free from multiple prosecutions or punishments for a single criminal offense, (3) the right to remain silent when prosecuted for a criminal offense, (4) the right to have personal liberties protected by Due Process of Law, and (5) the right to receive just compensation when the government takes private property for public use.

The Framers of the Fifth Amendment intended that its provisions would apply only to the actions of the federal government. However, after the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified, most of the Fifth Amendment’s protections were made applicable to the states. Under the Incorporation Doctrine, most of the liberties set forth in the Bill of Rights were made applicable to state governments through the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. As a result, all states must provide protection against Double Jeopardy, Self-Incrimination, deprivation of due process, and government taking of private property without just compensation. The Grand Jury Clause of the Fifth Amendment has not been made applicable to state governments.

The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment prohibits state and federal governments from reprosecuting for the same offense a defendant who has already been acquitted or convicted. It also prevents state and federal governments from imposing more than one punishment for the same offense.

For more than a century, courts have wrestled with the question of what constitutes an acquittal such that a person has already been placed in jeopardy for a particular offense. However, all courts agree that the Double Jeopardy Clause applies only to legal proceedings brought by state and federal governments in criminal court. It does not apply to legal proceedings instituted by purely private individuals in civil court.

The U.S. legal system has two primary divisions, criminal and civil. Criminal actions are designed to punish individuals for wrongdoing against the public order. Civil actions are designed to compensate victims with money damages for injuries suffered at the hands of another. An individual who has been acquitted in criminal court of murder can, without violating the Double Jeopardy Clause, be required in civil court to pay money damages to the family of a victim. Thus, the successive criminal and civil trials of O. J. Simpson, regarding the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, did not constitute double jeopardy.

The Fifth Amendment’s prohibition against double jeopardy is rooted in Anglo-Saxon Jurisprudence. Yet, in England, the Crown sometimes ignored the right against double jeopardy. In certain important cases where an acquittal undermined royal interests, the defendant was tried again in a different manner or by a different court. The protection against double jeopardy was also extremely narrow under English Law. It applied only to capital crimes, in which the defendant would be subject to the death penalty if convicted. It did not apply to lesser offenses such as noncapital felonies and misdemeanors.

Massachusetts was the first colony that recognized a right against double jeopardy. Its colonial charter provided, “No man shall be twise [sic] sentenced by Civil Justice for one and the same Crime, offence, or Trespasse” (as quoted in United States v. Halper, 490 U.S. 435, 109 S. Ct. 1892, 104 L. Ed. 2d 487 [1989]). This charter, which served as a model for several other colonies, expanded the protection against double jeopardy to all crimes and offenses, not just capital felonies. Nonetheless, when the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791, the constitutions of only two states expressly afforded double jeopardy protection. Thus, when James Madison submitted his proposal for the Fifth Amendment to Congress, he wanted to be sure that the right against double jeopardy would not be abused by the government, as it had been in England, or altogether forgotten, as it had been in the constitutions of eleven states.

Although Congress and the state ratifying conventions said very little about the Fifth Amendment’s Double Jeopardy Clause, the U.S. Supreme Court has identified several concerns that the Framers were trying to address when they drafted it: (1) preventing the government from employing its superior resources to wear down and erroneously convict innocent persons; (2) protecting individuals from the financial, emotional, and social consequences of successive prosecutions; (3) preserving the finality and integrity of criminal proceedings, which would be compromised were the state allowed to arbitrarily ignore unsatisfactory outcomes; (4) restricting prosecutorial discretion over the charging process; and (5) eliminating judicial discretion to impose cumulative punishments not authorized by the legislature.

The Fifth Amendment’s right against self-incrimination permits an individual to refuse to disclose information that could be used against him or her in a criminal prosecution. The purpose of this right is to inhibit the government from compelling a confession through force, coercion, or deception. The Self-Incrimination Clause applies to any state or federal legal proceeding, whether it is civil, criminal, administrative, or judicial in nature. This privilege is frequently invoked during the trial phase of legal proceedings, where individuals are placed under oath and asked questions on the witness stand.

The privilege is also asserted with some frequency during the pretrial phase of legal proceedings. In the pretrial phase of criminal cases, it is usually asserted in response to pointed questions asked by law enforcement agents, prosecutors, and other government officials who are seeking to determine the persons responsible for a particular crime. During the pretrial phase of civil cases, parties may assert the right against self-incrimination when potentially damaging questions are posed in depositions and interrogatories.

The right against self-incrimination largely took hold in English law with the seventeenth-century trial of John Lilburne. Lilburne was a Puritan agitator who opposed British attempts to impose Anglican religious uniformity across England. In 1637, Lilburne was prosecuted for attempting to smuggle several thousand Puritan pamphlets into England. Before the Star Chamber (an English court with jurisdiction to extinguish nonconformity in the realm), Lilburne refused to take an oath requiring him to answer truthfully any question asked of him. He said that he could see that the court was trying to ensnare him, and he claimed that the law of God and the law of the land supported his right against self-accusation. Lilburne was whipped and pilloried for refusing to take the oath. Parliament later declared his punishment illegal, abolished the Star Chamber, and ultimately recognized the right against self-incrimination.

The American colonists, particularly the Puritans in Massachusetts, were familiar with the plight of Lilburne. Nonetheless, the Massachusetts Body of Liberties, a collection of rules of conduct for the Puritan colonists taken nearly verbatim from the Bible, permitted the use of torture to extract confessions from defendants who were accused of capital crimes. Many other colonies subjected political and religious dissenters to inquisitorial judicial proceedings not unlike those employed in England. In many of these proceedings, the accused persons were not entitled to remain silent but were often asked to provide evidence of their innocence. Even after the Revolution, the constitutions of four states offered no protections against self-incrimination. As Madison drafted the original version of the Fifth Amendment, the lessons of English and colonial history were firmly in his mind.

The U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted the Self-Incrimination Clause more broadly than many of the Framers probably would have. miranda v. arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S. Ct. 1602, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694 (1966), illustrates this point. In Miranda the Court held that any statements made by defendants while in police custody before trial will be inadmissible during prosecution unless the police first warn the defendants that they have (1) the right to remain silent, (2) the right to consult an attorney before being questioned by the police, (3) the right to have an attorney present during police questioning, (4) the right to a court-appointed attorney if they cannot afford one, and (5) the right to be informed that any statements they do make can and will be used in their prosecution. Although the Miranda warnings are not provided in the Fifth Amendment’s Self-Incrimination Clause, the Court has ruled that they constitute an essential part of a judicially created buffer zone that is necessary to protect rights that are specifically set forth in the Constitution.

In Dickerson v. United States 530 U.S. 428, 120 S. Ct. 2326, 147 L. Ed.2d 405 (2000), the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that the Miranda decision was based on Fifth Amendment principles and therefore that it could not be over-turned legislatively. Congressional anger at the Miranda decision had led to the passage in 1968 of a law, 18 U.S.C.A. 3501, that had restored voluntariness as the test for admitting confessions in federal court. However, the United States department of justice, under attorneys general of both major political parties, has refused to enforce the provision, believing the law to be unconstitutional. The law lay dormant until the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 1999 that Congress had the constitutional authority to pass the law. Chief Justice william rehnquist, a frequent critic of the Miranda decision, joined the majority in rejecting the Fourth Circuit interpretation. Although members of the Court might not agree with the reasoning and the rule of Miranda, Rehnquist acknowledged the essential place that Miranda has in U.S. law and society. He pointed out the importance that the judicial system places on Stare Decisis, a concept that counsels courts to honor judicial precedents to ensure stability and predictability in decision-making. A court should only overrule its case precedents if there is, in Rehnquist’s words, “special justification.” The Court in Dickerson concluded there were no special justifications.

Despite this decision the controversy over Miranda has not abated. In 2002 the Supreme Court took up the matter again when it reviewed Martinez v. Chavez, 270 F.3d 852 (9th Cir. 2001). The Court must decide whether the Fifth Amendment conveys a constitutional right to be free of coercive interrogation, or merely a right not to have forced confessions used against them at trial.

The Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause has two aspects: procedural and substantive. Procedural due process is concerned with the process by which legal proceedings are conducted. It requires that all persons who will be materially affected by a legal proceeding receive notice of its time, place, and subject matter so that they will have an adequate opportunity to prepare. It also requires that legal proceedings be conducted in a fair manner by an impartial judge who will allow the interested parties to present fully their complaints, grievances, and defenses. The Due Process Clause governs civil, criminal, and administrative proceedings from the pretrial stage through final appeal, and proceedings that produce Arbitrary or capricious results will be overturned as unconstitutional.

Substantive Due Process is concerned with the content of particular laws that are applied during legal proceedings. Before World War II, the U.S. Supreme Court relied on substantive due process to overturn legislation that infringed on a variety of property interests, including the right of employers to determine the wages their employees would be paid and the number of hours they could work. Since World War II, the Court has relied on substantive due process to protect privacy and autonomy interests of adults, including the right to use contraception and the right to have an Abortion.

The line separating procedure from substance is not always clear. For example, procedural due process guarantees criminal defendants the right to a fair trial, and substantive due process specifies that 12 jurors must return a unanimous guilty verdict before the death penalty can be imposed. The concepts of substantive and procedural due process trace back to English law. The Magna Charta provided, “No free man shall be seized, or imprisoned, or disseised, or outlawed, or exiled, or injured in any way except by the lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land” (art. 39). According to eminent English jurist Sir Edward Coke, law of the land and due process of law were interchangeable terms that possessed both procedural and substantive meaning.

The American colonists followed the English tradition of attributing substantive and procedural qualities to the concepts of due process and the law of the land. Maryland and Massachusetts, for example, equated the two concepts with colonial Common Law and legislation regardless of their procedural content. On the other hand, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Vermont all passed constitutional provisions identifying the law of the land with specific procedural safeguards, including the right against self-incrimination. Thus, when the Due Process Clause was submitted to the state conventions for ratification, it was popularly understood to place procedural requirements on legal proceedings as well as substantive limitations on the law applied in those proceedings.

When the government takes Personal Property for public use, the law calls it a taking and protects it under the eminent domain clause of the Fifth Amendment. The Eminent Domain Clause permits the government to appropriate private property, both real estate and personal belongings, for a public purpose so long as the owner receives just compensation, which is normally equated with the fair market value of the property. The Fifth Amendment attempts to strike a balance between the needs of the public and the property rights of the owner.

The power of eminent domain was first recognized in England in 1215. Article 39 of the Magna Charta read,”no free man shall be disseised [deprived] of his freehold except by the lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land.” No compensation was awarded to owners whose property was taken by the government for public use. Instead, English law merely required that the government obtain ownership of private property through existing legal channels, such as parliamentary legislation. This principle was followed in England for several centuries, and was later adopted by the American colonies.

Uncompensated takings of private property by colonial governments generally involved unimproved land (i.e., land that had not been built on). Colonial governments often appropriated private land to build roads and bridges in order to develop America’s frontiers. During the American Revolution, the power of eminent domain was used to seize the land of colonists who were loyal to Great Britain, and to obtain various goods for military consumption. Compensation was rarely given to individual owners who were deprived of their property by colonial governments because making personal sacrifices for the common good, including forfeiting personal property, was considered an essential duty of every colonist.

Not everyone in the colonies believed that personal property interests should always be sacrificed for the greater good of society. Many colonists expressed distress over legislatures that were abusing their power of eminent domain. New York, for example, regularly failed to recognize title to real estate in its colony that was held by residents of Vermont. Other colonies also discriminated in favor of their own residents, and against persons whose patriotism was questionable during the Revolution. It was in this context that the Eminent Domain Clause of the Fifth Amendment was drafted.

During the twentieth century, the U.S. Supreme Court has enlarged the protection against uncompensated takings of private property by state and federal governments. The Eminent Domain Clause has been interpreted to protect not only owners whose property is physically taken by the government, but also owners whose property value is diminished as a result of government activity. Thus, compensable takings under the Fifth Amendment result from Zoning ordinances that deny property owners an economically viable use of their land (Agins v. City of Tiburon, 447 U.S. 255, 100 S. Ct. 2138, 65 L. Ed. 2d 106 [1980]), environmental regulations that require the government to occupy an owner’s land in order to monitor groundwater wells (Hendler v. United States, 952 F.2d 1364 [Fed. Cir. 1991], land-use regulations that curtail mining operations (Pennsylvania Coal Co. v. Mahon, 260 U.S. 393, 43 S. Ct. 158, 67 L. Ed. 322[1992]), and government-owned airports that lower property values in adjacent neighborhoods (United States v. Causby, 328 U.S. 256, 66S. Ct. 1062, 90 L. Ed. 1206 [1946]).

The U.S. Supreme Court, in Palazzolo v. Rhode Island, 533 U.S. 606, 121 S. Ct. 2448, 150L. Ed.2d 592 (2001), declared that property owners may file lawsuits without filing additional permit applications. Most importantly, the Court overturned a ruling that barred property owners from filing suit if they took possession of the property after the environmental regulations had been enacted. It made no sense to allow a state to avoid suit simply because of a transfer of legal title to the property. Thus, the state “would be allowed, in effect, to put an expiration date on the Takings Clause. This ought not to be the rule. Future generations, too, have a right to challenge unreasonable limitations on the use and value of land.”

A grand jury is a group of citizens who are summoned to criminal court by the sheriff to consider accusations and complaints leveled against persons who are suspected of engaging in criminal conduct. Grand juries do not determine guilt or innocence. Instead, they determine whether Probable Cause exists to believe that the accused has committed a crime, and they return an indictment (i.e., a formal charge against the accused) if they do find probable cause. In common law, a grand jury consisted of not fewer than 12, and not more than 23, men. Today, grand juries impaneled before a federal district court must consist of not fewer than 16, and not more than 23, men and women.

Potential jurors are usually drawn from lists of qualified residents. Persons who are below the age of majority, who have been convicted of certain crimes, who or are biased toward the accused are ineligible to serve as grand jurors.

The grand jury originated in England during the reign of henry ii (115489). In 1166, a statute called the Assize of Clarendon was enacted. The assize provided that no person could be prosecuted unless four men from each township and 12 men from each hundred appeared before the county court to accuse the individual of a specific crime. This compulsory process, called a presenting jury, foreshadowed the grand jury as an accusatory body that identified individuals for prosecution but made no finding as to guilt or innocence.

As the grand jury system developed in England and colonial America, it protected innocent persons who faced unfounded charges initiated by political, religious, and personal adversaries. The impartiality of grand juries is essential. This is a significant reason why the proceedings are convened in secrecy; otherwise, public scrutiny and similar prejudicial influences could affect their decision-making process. Although grand juries must be impartial, accused persons have no constitutional right to present evidence on their behalf or to cross-examine witnesses, and Hearsay evidence may be introduced against them.

Helmholz, R.H. 1983. “The Early History of the Grand Jury and the Canon Law.” University of Chicago Law Review 50 (spring).

Hickok, Eugene W., Jr., ed. 1991. The Bill of Rights: Original Meaning and Current Understanding. Charlottesville: Univ. Press of Virginia.

Mermelstein, Mark, and Joel M. Athey. 2002. “In the Fifth Dimension: Problems Faced by Trial Lawyers When a Witness Invokes the Fifth Amendment.” Los Angeles Lawyer 25 (October).

Roxas, Angela. 2002. “Questions Unanswered: the Fifth Amendment and Innocent Witnesses.” Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 93 (fall).

Treanor, William M. 1995. “The Original Understanding of the Takings Clause and the Political Process.” Columbia Law Review 95 (May).

Criminal Law; Criminal Procedure; Custodial Interrogation.

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Rationalism | Article about rationalism by The Free Dictionary

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Feb 022016

[Lat.,=belonging to reason], in philosophy, a theory that holds that reason alone, unaided by experience, can arrive at basic truth regarding the world. Associated with rationalism is the doctrine of innate ideas and the method of logically deducing truths about the world from “self-evident” premises. Rationalism is opposed to empiricism on the question of the source of knowledge and the techniques for verification of knowledge. Ren Descartes, G. W. von Leibniz, and Baruch Spinoza all represent the rationalist position, and John Locke the empirical. Immanuel Kant in his critical philosophy attempted a synthesis of these two positions. More loosely, rationalism may signify confidence in the intelligible, orderly character of the world and in the mind’s ability to discern such order. It is opposed by irrationalism, a view that either denies meaning and coherence in reality or discredits the ability of reason to discern such coherence. Irrational philosophies accordingly stress the will at the expense of reason, as exemplified in the existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre or Karl Jaspers. In religion, rationalism is the view that recognizes as true only that content of faith that can be made to appeal to reason. In the Middle Ages the relationship of faith to reason was a fundamental concern of


See E. Heimann, Reason and Faith in Modern Society (1961); T. F. Torrance, God and Rationality (1971); R. L. Arrington, Rationalism, Realism, and Relativism (1989).

e.g. in

, endangered by world events as well as by sceptical movements in philosophy. However, rationalism in the sense of a belief in progress survives in a modified form in many areas of sociology and philosophy (e.g. see

). A further view is that it is a mistake to polarize rationalism and empiricism, since both of these play a role in human knowledge, which always involves both conception (rationalism) and perception (empiricism), e.g. See

. See also


a collective designation for the architectural schools of the first half of the 20th century that made use of the achievements of modern science and technology. In the broad sense, rationalism in architecture is sometimes equated with the concept of modern architecture, as represented by the work of L. H. Sullivan in the United States, H. P. Berlage in the Netherlands, A. Loos in Austria, the masters of the Deutscher Werkbund in Germany, and A. Perret in France.

The establishment of rationalism in the early 1920s was largely promoted by the theories propagated by the circle of architects associated with the journal LEsprit nouveau. The movements leaders were Le Corbusier in France and W. Gro-pius of the Bauhaus school of architecture in Germany.

Rationalism flourished essentially from the 1920s through the 1950s. In 1928 its supporters organized the International Congress for Modern Architecture, which met until 1959. Rationalist ideas concerning urban planning were set forth in 1933 in the Athens Charter. In the 1950s the general architectural principles of rationalism led to the creation of the international style, represented by the work of L. Mies van der Rohe and many others. The dogmatic architectural ideas and the social-reformist utopianism of the proponents of rationalism led to a crisis in the movement by the late 1950s.

The Russian architects of Asnova (Association of New Architects), including N. A. Ladovskii and K. S. Melnikov, proclaimed themselves to be rationalists. They emphasized psychological and physiological factors in the appreciation of architectural form and sought rational principles in the visual aspect of architecture.

a philosophical school that considers reason to be the foundation of human understanding and behavior. Rationalism is the opposite of fideism, irrationalism, and sensationalism (empiricism). The term rationalism has been used to designate and characterize philosophical concepts since the 19th century, but historically the rationalist tradition originated in ancient Greek philosophy. For example, Parmenides, who distinguished between the knowledge of truth (obtained through reason) and the knowledge of opinion (obtained through sensory perception), considered reason to be the criterion of truth.

Rationalism took shape in modern times as an integral system of epistemological views, as a result of the development of mathematics and the natural sciences. In contrast to medieval Scholasticism and religious dogmatism, the classical rationalism of the 17th and 18th centuries (Descartes, Spinoza, Male-branche, and Leibniz) was based on the idea of natural orderan infinite chain of causality pervading the world. Thus, the principles of rationalism were accepted by both materialists (Spinoza) and idealists (Leibniz), although the character of rationalism differed in the two philosophical trends, depending on how the question of the origin of knowledge was resolved.

The rationalism of the 17th and 18th centuries, which asserted the decisive role of reason in both human cognition and human activity, was one of the philosophical sources of the ideology of the Enlightenment. The cult of reason was also characteristic of the 18th-century French materialists, who adopted a philosophical position of materialistic sensationalism and criticized the speculative constructs of rationalism.

Seeking to substantiate the absolute reliability of the principles of science and the tenets of mathematics and the natural sciences, rationalism attempted to explain how knowledge obtained through human cognitive activity could be objective, universal, and necessary. Unlike sensationalism, rationalism maintained that scientific knowledge, which possesses these logical properties, could be attained through reason, which served as the source of knowledge and as the criterion of truth. For example, the rationalist Leibniz modified the basic thesis of sensationalism, as stated by Locke (there is nothing in reason that was not previously present in sensations) by appending to it the phrase other than reason itself. In other words, reason is capable of grasping not only the particular and the accidental, to which sensory perception is limited, but also the universal and the essential.

The concept of reason as the single source of scientific knowledge led rationalists to an idealist conclusion regarding the existence of innate ideas (Descartes) or of predispositions and inclinations in thought that are independent of sensory impressions (Leibniz). The underestimation by rationalists of the role of sensory perception, mans link with the external world, led to the separation of thought from the object of cognition.

Kant, who attempted to reconcile the ideas of rationalism and sensationalism, proposed that all our knowledge begins with the senses, passes to the faculty of understanding, and ends with reason (I. Kant, Sock, vol. 3, Moscow, 1964, p. 340). According to Kant, reason cannot serve as the universal criterion of truth. In order to explain the properties of knowledge, Kant introduced the concept of the apriority (a priori knowledge) of both conceptual forms (as in classical rationalism) and forms of contemplationspace and time. However, Kantian rationalism retains its force only at the price of adopting an agnostic positionthat is, it deals only with the world of phenomena and excludes consideration of things-in-themselves, or objective reality.

In Hegels philosophy the absolute idea, or absolute reason, is the original principle and essence of the world, and the process of cognition is viewed as the self-cognition of reason, which comprehends its own content in the world. In Hegel, therefore, the development of the objective world is represented as a purely logical, rational process, and rationalism assumes the character of panlogism.

Bourgeois philosophy of the 19th and 20th centuries (positivism and neopositivism, for example) lost faith in the unlimited power of reason. The prevailing trend in 19th- and 20th- century bourgeois philosophy is a critique of classical rationalism, with its ideals of the power of reason and mans unlimited rational activity. This critique is based either on irrationalism or on a moderate, limited rationalism. For example, Freudianism, which asserts the dominant role of irrational, subconscious elements, criticizes rationalism from the standpoint of irrationalism, as do intuitionism and existentialism. The concepts of M. Weber and K. Mannheim are representative of the critique of rationalism from the standpoint of moderate, limited rationalism, which is associated less with the logical problems of cognition and more with a search for the sociocultural bases and limits of rationalism.

The narrrow, one-sided character of rationalism was overcome in Marxism. It was possible to resolve the contradiction between empiricism and rationalism on the basis of fundamentally new principles developed in the theory of cognition of dialectical materialism. The basic condition for resolving the contradiction between empiricism and rationalism was an analysis of the process of cognition, in integral association with practical activity for transforming reality. V. I. Lenin wrote: From living perception to abstract thought, and from this to practice such is the dialectical path of the cognition of truth and the cognition of objective reality (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 29, pp. 15253).

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Nihilism | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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Jan 202016

Nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated. It is often associated with extreme pessimism and a radical skepticism that condemns existence. A true nihilist would believe in nothing, have no loyalties, and no purpose other than, perhaps, an impulse to destroy. While few philosophers would claim to be nihilists, nihilism is most often associated with Friedrich Nietzsche who argued that its corrosive effects would eventually destroy all moral, religious, and metaphysical convictions and precipitate the greatest crisis in human history. In the 20th century, nihilistic themes–epistemological failure, value destruction, and cosmic purposelessness–have preoccupied artists, social critics, and philosophers. Mid-century, for example, the existentialists helped popularize tenets of nihilism in their attempts to blunt its destructive potential. By the end of the century, existential despair as a response to nihilism gave way to an attitude of indifference, often associated with antifoundationalism.

“Nihilism” comes from the Latin nihil, or nothing, which means not anything, that which does not exist. It appears in the verb “annihilate,” meaning to bring to nothing, to destroy completely. Early in the nineteenth century, Friedrich Jacobi used the word to negatively characterize transcendental idealism. It only became popularized, however, after its appearance in Ivan Turgenev’s novel Fathers and Sons (1862) where he used “nihilism” to describe the crude scientism espoused by his character Bazarov who preaches a creed of total negation.

In Russia, nihilism became identified with a loosely organized revolutionary movement (C.1860-1917) that rejected the authority of the state, church, and family. In his early writing, anarchist leader Mikhael Bakunin (1814-1876) composed the notorious entreaty still identified with nihilism: “Let us put our trust in the eternal spirit which destroys and annihilates only because it is the unsearchable and eternally creative source of all life–the passion for destruction is also a creative passion!” (Reaction in Germany, 1842). The movement advocated a social arrangement based on rationalism and materialism as the sole source of knowledge and individual freedom as the highest goal. By rejecting man’s spiritual essence in favor of a solely materialistic one, nihilists denounced God and religious authority as antithetical to freedom. The movement eventually deteriorated into an ethos of subversion, destruction, and anarchy, and by the late 1870s, a nihilist was anyone associated with clandestine political groups advocating terrorism and assassination.

The earliest philosophical positions associated with what could be characterized as a nihilistic outlook are those of the Skeptics. Because they denied the possibility of certainty, Skeptics could denounce traditional truths as unjustifiable opinions. When Demosthenes (c.371-322 BC), for example, observes that “What he wished to believe, that is what each man believes” (Olynthiac), he posits the relational nature of knowledge. Extreme skepticism, then, is linked to epistemological nihilism which denies the possibility of knowledge and truth; this form of nihilism is currently identified with postmodern antifoundationalism. Nihilism, in fact, can be understood in several different ways. Political Nihilism, as noted, is associated with the belief that the destruction of all existing political, social, and religious order is a prerequisite for any future improvement. Ethical nihilism or moral nihilism rejects the possibility of absolute moral or ethical values. Instead, good and evil are nebulous, and values addressing such are the product of nothing more than social and emotive pressures. Existential nihilism is the notion that life has no intrinsic meaning or value, and it is, no doubt, the most commonly used and understood sense of the word today.

Max Stirner’s (1806-1856) attacks on systematic philosophy, his denial of absolutes, and his rejection of abstract concepts of any kind often places him among the first philosophical nihilists. For Stirner, achieving individual freedom is the only law; and the state, which necessarily imperils freedom, must be destroyed. Even beyond the oppression of the state, though, are the constraints imposed by others because their very existence is an obstacle compromising individual freedom. Thus Stirner argues that existence is an endless “war of each against all” (The Ego and its Own, trans. 1907).

Among philosophers, Friedrich Nietzsche is most often associated with nihilism. For Nietzsche, there is no objective order or structure in the world except what we give it. Penetrating the faades buttressing convictions, the nihilist discovers that all values are baseless and that reason is impotent. “Every belief, every considering something-true,” Nietzsche writes, “is necessarily false because there is simply no true world” (Will to Power [notes from 1883-1888]). For him, nihilism requires a radical repudiation of all imposed values and meaning: “Nihilism is . . . not only the belief that everything deserves to perish; but one actually puts one’s shoulder to the plough; one destroys” (Will to Power).

The caustic strength of nihilism is absolute, Nietzsche argues, and under its withering scrutiny “the highest values devalue themselves. The aim is lacking, and ‘Why’ finds no answer” (Will to Power). Inevitably, nihilism will expose all cherished beliefs and sacrosanct truths as symptoms of a defective Western mythos. This collapse of meaning, relevance, and purpose will be the most destructive force in history, constituting a total assault on reality and nothing less than the greatest crisis of humanity:

What I relate is the history of the next two centuries. I describe what is coming, what can no longer come differently: the advent of nihilism. . . . For some time now our whole European culture has been moving as toward a catastrophe, with a tortured tension that is growing from decade to decade: restlessly, violently, headlong, like a river that wants to reach the end. . . . (Will to Power)

Since Nietzsche’s compelling critique, nihilistic themes–epistemological failure, value destruction, and cosmic purposelessness–have preoccupied artists, social critics, and philosophers. Convinced that Nietzsche’s analysis was accurate, for example, Oswald Spengler in The Decline of the West (1926) studied several cultures to confirm that patterns of nihilism were indeed a conspicuous feature of collapsing civilizations. In each of the failed cultures he examines, Spengler noticed that centuries-old religious, artistic, and political traditions were weakened and finally toppled by the insidious workings of several distinct nihilistic postures: the Faustian nihilist “shatters the ideals”; the Apollinian nihilist “watches them crumble before his eyes”; and the Indian nihilist “withdraws from their presence into himself.” Withdrawal, for instance, often identified with the negation of reality and resignation advocated by Eastern religions, is in the West associated with various versions of epicureanism and stoicism. In his study, Spengler concludes that Western civilization is already in the advanced stages of decay with all three forms of nihilism working to undermine epistemological authority and ontological grounding.

In 1927, Martin Heidegger, to cite another example, observed that nihilism in various and hidden forms was already “the normal state of man” (The Question of Being). Other philosophers’ predictions about nihilism’s impact have been dire. Outlining the symptoms of nihilism in the 20th century, Helmut Thielicke wrote that “Nihilism literally has only one truth to declare, namely, that ultimately Nothingness prevails and the world is meaningless” (Nihilism: Its Origin and Nature, with a Christian Answer, 1969). From the nihilist’s perspective, one can conclude that life is completely amoral, a conclusion, Thielicke believes, that motivates such monstrosities as the Nazi reign of terror. Gloomy predictions of nihilism’s impact are also charted in Eugene Rose’s Nihilism: The Root of the Revolution of the Modern Age (1994). If nihilism proves victorious–and it’s well on its way, he argues–our world will become “a cold, inhuman world” where “nothingness, incoherence, and absurdity” will triumph.

While nihilism is often discussed in terms of extreme skepticism and relativism, for most of the 20th century it has been associated with the belief that life is meaningless. Existential nihilism begins with the notion that the world is without meaning or purpose. Given this circumstance, existence itself–all action, suffering, and feeling–is ultimately senseless and empty.

In The Dark Side: Thoughts on the Futility of Life (1994), Alan Pratt demonstrates that existential nihilism, in one form or another, has been a part of the Western intellectual tradition from the beginning. The Skeptic Empedocles’ observation that “the life of mortals is so mean a thing as to be virtually un-life,” for instance, embodies the same kind of extreme pessimism associated with existential nihilism. In antiquity, such profound pessimism may have reached its apex with Hegesis. Because miseries vastly outnumber pleasures, happiness is impossible, the philosopher argues, and subsequently advocates suicide. Centuries later during the Renaissance, William Shakespeare eloquently summarized the existential nihilist’s perspective when, in this famous passage near the end of Macbeth, he has Macbeth pour out his disgust for life:

Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more; it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.

In the twentieth century, it’s the atheistic existentialist movement, popularized in France in the 1940s and 50s, that is responsible for the currency of existential nihilism in the popular consciousness. Jean-Paul Sartre’s (1905-1980) defining preposition for the movement, “existence precedes essence,” rules out any ground or foundation for establishing an essential self or a human nature. When we abandon illusions, life is revealed as nothing; and for the existentialists, nothingness is the source of not only absolute freedom but also existential horror and emotional anguish. Nothingness reveals each individual as an isolated being “thrown” into an alien and unresponsive universe, barred forever from knowing why yet required to invent meaning. It’s a situation that’s nothing short of absurd. Writing from the enlightened perspective of the absurd, Albert Camus (1913-1960) observed that Sisyphus’ plight, condemned to eternal, useless struggle, was a superb metaphor for human existence (The Myth of Sisyphus, 1942).

The common thread in the literature of the existentialists is coping with the emotional anguish arising from our confrontation with nothingness, and they expended great energy responding to the question of whether surviving it was possible. Their answer was a qualified “Yes,” advocating a formula of passionate commitment and impassive stoicism. In retrospect, it was an anecdote tinged with desperation because in an absurd world there are absolutely no guidelines, and any course of action is problematic. Passionate commitment, be it to conquest, creation, or whatever, is itself meaningless. Enter nihilism.

Camus, like the other existentialists, was convinced that nihilism was the most vexing problem of the twentieth century. Although he argues passionately that individuals could endure its corrosive effects, his most famous works betray the extraordinary difficulty he faced building a convincing case. In The Stranger (1942), for example, Meursault has rejected the existential suppositions on which the uninitiated and weak rely. Just moments before his execution for a gratuitous murder, he discovers that life alone is reason enough for living, a raison d’tre, however, that in context seems scarcely convincing. In Caligula (1944), the mad emperor tries to escape the human predicament by dehumanizing himself with acts of senseless violence, fails, and surreptitiously arranges his own assassination. The Plague (1947) shows the futility of doing one’s best in an absurd world. And in his last novel, the short and sardonic, The Fall (1956), Camus posits that everyone has bloody hands because we are all responsible for making a sorry state worse by our inane action and inaction alike. In these works and other works by the existentialists, one is often left with the impression that living authentically with the meaninglessness of life is impossible.

Camus was fully aware of the pitfalls of defining existence without meaning, and in his philosophical essay The Rebel (1951) he faces the problem of nihilism head-on. In it, he describes at length how metaphysical collapse often ends in total negation and the victory of nihilism, characterized by profound hatred, pathological destruction, and incalculable violence and death.

By the late 20th century, “nihilism” had assumed two different castes. In one form, “nihilist” is used to characterize the postmodern person, a dehumanized conformist, alienated, indifferent, and baffled, directing psychological energy into hedonistic narcissism or into a deep ressentiment that often explodes in violence. This perspective is derived from the existentialists’ reflections on nihilism stripped of any hopeful expectations, leaving only the experience of sickness, decay, and disintegration.

In his study of meaninglessness, Donald Crosby writes that the source of modern nihilism paradoxically stems from a commitment to honest intellectual openness. “Once set in motion, the process of questioning could come to but one end, the erosion of conviction and certitude and collapse into despair” (The Specter of the Absurd, 1988). When sincere inquiry is extended to moral convictions and social consensus, it can prove deadly, Crosby continues, promoting forces that ultimately destroy civilizations. Michael Novak’s recently revised The Experience of Nothingness (1968, 1998) tells a similar story. Both studies are responses to the existentialists’ gloomy findings from earlier in the century. And both optimistically discuss ways out of the abyss by focusing of the positive implications nothingness reveals, such as liberty, freedom, and creative possibilities. Novak, for example, describes how since WWII we have been working to “climb out of nihilism” on the way to building a new civilization.

In contrast to the efforts to overcome nihilism noted above is the uniquely postmodern response associated with the current antifoundationalists. The philosophical, ethical, and intellectual crisis of nihilism that has tormented modern philosophers for over a century has given way to mild annoyance or, more interestingly, an upbeat acceptance of meaninglessness.

French philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard characterizes postmodernism as an “incredulity toward metanarratives,” those all-embracing foundations that we have relied on to make sense of the world. This extreme skepticism has undermined intellectual and moral hierarchies and made “truth” claims, transcendental or transcultural, problematic. Postmodern antifoundationalists, paradoxically grounded in relativism, dismiss knowledge as relational and “truth” as transitory, genuine only until something more palatable replaces it (reminiscent of William James’ notion of “cash value”). The critic Jacques Derrida, for example, asserts that one can never be sure that what one knows corresponds with what is. Since human beings participate in only an infinitesimal part of the whole, they are unable to grasp anything with certainty, and absolutes are merely “fictional forms.”

American antifoundationalist Richard Rorty makes a similar point: “Nothing grounds our practices, nothing legitimizes them, nothing shows them to be in touch with the way things are” (“From Logic to Language to Play,” 1986). This epistemological cul-de-sac, Rorty concludes, leads inevitably to nihilism. “Faced with the nonhuman, the nonlinguistic, we no longer have the ability to overcome contingency and pain by appropriation and transformation, but only the ability to recognize contingency and pain” (Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, 1989). In contrast to Nietzsche’s fears and the angst of the existentialists, nihilism becomes for the antifoundationalists just another aspect of our contemporary milieu, one best endured with sang-froid.

In The Banalization of Nihilism (1992) Karen Carr discusses the antifoundationalist response to nihilism. Although it still inflames a paralyzing relativism and subverts critical tools, “cheerful nihilism” carries the day, she notes, distinguished by an easy-going acceptance of meaninglessness. Such a development, Carr concludes, is alarming. If we accept that all perspectives are equally non-binding, then intellectual or moral arrogance will determine which perspective has precedence. Worse still, the banalization of nihilism creates an environment where ideas can be imposed forcibly with little resistance, raw power alone determining intellectual and moral hierarchies. It’s a conclusion that dovetails nicely with Nietzsche’s, who pointed out that all interpretations of the world are simply manifestations of will-to-power.

It has been over a century now since Nietzsche explored nihilism and its implications for civilization. As he predicted, nihilism’s impact on the culture and values of the 20th century has been pervasive, its apocalyptic tenor spawning a mood of gloom and a good deal of anxiety, anger, and terror. Interestingly, Nietzsche himself, a radical skeptic preoccupied with language, knowledge, and truth, anticipated many of the themes of postmodernity. It’s helpful to note, then, that he believed we could–at a terrible price–eventually work through nihilism. If we survived the process of destroying all interpretations of the world, we could then perhaps discover the correct course for humankind:

I praise, I do not reproach, [nihilism’s] arrival. I believe it is one of the greatest crises, a moment of the deepest self-reflection of humanity. Whether man recovers from it, whether he becomes master of this crisis, is a question of his strength. It is possible. . . . (Complete Works Vol. 13)

Alan Pratt Email: Embry-Riddle University U. S. A.

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Hedonism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Jan 202016

Hedonism is a school of thought that argues that pleasure is the primary or most important intrinsic good.[1]

A hedonist strives to maximize net pleasure (pleasure minus pain).

Ethical hedonism is the idea that all people have the right to do everything in their power to achieve the greatest amount of pleasure possible to them, assuming that their actions do not infringe on the equal rights of others. It is also the idea that every person’s pleasure should far surpass their amount of pain. Ethical hedonism is said to have been started by Aristippus of Cyrene, a student of Socrates. He held the idea that pleasure is the highest good.[2]

The name derives from the Greek word for “delight” ( hdonismos from hdon “pleasure”, cognate with English sweet + suffix – -ismos “ism”). The Greek word coming from ancient Assyrian word “adtu” meaning: delight.

In the original Old Babylonian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh, which was written soon after the invention of writing, Siduri gave the following advice “Fill your belly. Day and night make merry. Let days be full of joy. Dance and make music day and night […] These things alone are the concern of men”, which may represent the first recorded advocacy of a hedonistic philosophy.[3]

Scenes of a harper entertaining guests at a feast was common in ancient Egyptian tombs (see Harper’s Songs), and sometimes contained hedonistic elements, calling guests to submit to pleasure because they cannot be sure that they will be rewarded for good with a blissful afterlife. The following is a song attributed to the reign of one of the Intef[disambiguation needed] kings before or after the 12th dynasty, and the text was used in the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties.[4][5]

Let thy desire flourish, In order to let thy heart forget the beatifications for thee. Follow thy desire, as long as thou shalt live. Put myrrh upon thy head and clothing of fine linen upon thee, Being anointed with genuine marvels of the gods’ property. Set an increase to thy good things; Let not thy heart flag. Follow thy desire and thy good. Fulfill thy needs upon earth, after the command of thy heart, Until there come for thee that day of mourning.

Crvka was an Indian hedonist school of thought that arose approximately 600 BC, and died out in the 14th century CE. The Crvkas maintained that the Hindu scriptures are false, that the priests are liars, and that there is no afterlife, and that pleasure should be the aim of living. Unlike other Indian schools of philosophy, the Crvkas argued that there is nothing wrong with sensual indulgence. They held a naturalistic worldview. They believed that perception is the only source of knowledge.

Carvaka famously said “Yevat jivet sukham jivet, rinam kritva gritam pivet, bhasm bhutasya deham, punara’janmam kutah?”. This means ” Live with full pleasure till you are alive. Borrow heavily for your wordly pleasures (e.g. drinking clarified and tasty butter), once your body dies, will it ever come back again?”

Democritus seems to be the earliest philosopher on record to have categorically embraced a hedonistic philosophy; he called the supreme goal of life “contentment” or “cheerfulness”, claiming that “joy and sorrow are the distinguishing mark of things beneficial and harmful” (DK 68 B 188).[6]

The Cyrenaics were an ultra-hedonist Greek school of philosophy founded in the 4th century BC, supposedly by Aristippus of Cyrene, although many of the principles of the school are believed to have been formalized by his grandson of the same name, Aristippus the Younger. The school was so called after Cyrene, the birthplace of Aristippus. It was one of the earliest Socratic schools. The Cyrenaics taught that the only intrinsic good is pleasure, which meant not just the absence of pain, but positively enjoyable sensations. Of these, momentary pleasures, especially physical ones, are stronger than those of anticipation or memory. They did, however, recognize the value of social obligation, and that pleasure could be gained from altruism[citation needed]. Theodorus the Atheist was a latter exponent of hedonism who was a disciple of younger Aristippus,[7] while becoming well known for expounding atheism. The school died out within a century, and was replaced by Epicureanism.

The Cyrenaics were known for their skeptical theory of knowledge. They reduced logic to a basic doctrine concerning the criterion of truth.[8] They thought that we can know with certainty our immediate sense-experiences (for instance, that I am having a sweet sensation now) but can know nothing about the nature of the objects that cause these sensations (for instance, that the honey is sweet).[9] They also denied that we can have knowledge of what the experiences of other people are like.[10] All knowledge is immediate sensation. These sensations are motions which are purely subjective, and are painful, indifferent or pleasant, according as they are violent, tranquil or gentle.[9][11] Further they are entirely individual, and can in no way be described as constituting absolute objective knowledge. Feeling, therefore, is the only possible criterion of knowledge and of conduct.[9] Our ways of being affected are alone knowable. Thus the sole aim for everyone should be pleasure.

Cyrenaicism deduces a single, universal aim for all people which is pleasure. Furthermore, all feeling is momentary and homogeneous. It follows that past and future pleasure have no real existence for us, and that among present pleasures there is no distinction of kind.[11] Socrates had spoken of the higher pleasures of the intellect; the Cyrenaics denied the validity of this distinction and said that bodily pleasures, being more simple and more intense, were preferable.[12] Momentary pleasure, preferably of a physical kind, is the only good for humans. However some actions which give immediate pleasure can create more than their equivalent of pain. The wise person should be in control of pleasures rather than be enslaved to them, otherwise pain will result, and this requires judgement to evaluate the different pleasures of life.[13] Regard should be paid to law and custom, because even though these things have no intrinsic value on their own, violating them will lead to unpleasant penalties being imposed by others.[12] Likewise, friendship and justice are useful because of the pleasure they provide.[12] Thus the Cyrenaics believed in the hedonistic value of social obligation and altruistic behaviour.

Epicureanism is a system of philosophy based upon the teachings of Epicurus (c. 341c. 270 BC), founded around 307 BC. Epicurus was an atomic materialist, following in the steps of Democritus and Leucippus. His materialism led him to a general stance against superstition or the idea of divine intervention. Following Aristippusabout whom very little is knownEpicurus believed that the greatest good was to seek modest, sustainable “pleasure” in the form of a state of tranquility and freedom from fear (ataraxia) and absence of bodily pain (aponia) through knowledge of the workings of the world and the limits of our desires. The combination of these two states is supposed to constitute happiness in its highest form. Although Epicureanism is a form of hedonism, insofar as it declares pleasure as the sole intrinsic good, its conception of absence of pain as the greatest pleasure and its advocacy of a simple life make it different from “hedonism” as it is commonly understood.

In the Epicurean view, the highest pleasure (tranquility and freedom from fear) was obtained by knowledge, friendship and living a virtuous and temperate life. He lauded the enjoyment of simple pleasures, by which he meant abstaining from bodily desires, such as sex and appetites, verging on asceticism. He argued that when eating, one should not eat too richly, for it could lead to dissatisfaction later, such as the grim realization that one could not afford such delicacies in the future. Likewise, sex could lead to increased lust and dissatisfaction with the sexual partner. Epicurus did not articulate a broad system of social ethics that has survived but had a unique version of the Golden Rule.

It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly (agreeing “neither to harm nor be harmed”),[14] and it is impossible to live wisely and well and justly without living a pleasant life.[15]

Epicureanism was originally a challenge to Platonism, though later it became the main opponent of Stoicism. Epicurus and his followers shunned politics. After the death of Epicurus, his school was headed by Hermarchus; later many Epicurean societies flourished in the Late Hellenistic era and during the Roman era (such as those in Antiochia, Alexandria, Rhodes and Ercolano). The poet Lucretius is its most known Roman proponent. By the end of the Roman Empire, having undergone Christian attack and repression, Epicureanism had all but died out, and would be resurrected in the 17th century by the atomist Pierre Gassendi, who adapted it to the Christian doctrine.

Some writings by Epicurus have survived. Some scholars consider the epic poem On the Nature of Things by Lucretius to present in one unified work the core arguments and theories of Epicureanism. Many of the papyrus scrolls unearthed at the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum are Epicurean texts. At least some are thought to have belonged to the Epicurean Philodemus.

Mohism was a philosophical school of thought founded by Mozi in the 5th century BC. It paralleled the utilitarianism later developed by English thinkers. As Confucianism became the preferred philosophy of later Chinese dynasties, starting from the Emperor Wu of Han, Mohism and other non-Confucian philosophical schools of thought were suppressed.[citation needed]

Christian hedonism is a controversial Christian doctrine current in some evangelical circles, particularly those of the Reformed tradition.[16] The term was first coined by Reformed Baptist theologian John Piper in his 1986 book Desiring God: My shortest summary of it is: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. Or: The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying him forever. Does Christian Hedonism make a god out of pleasure? No. It says that we all make a god out of what we take most pleasure in. [16] Piper states his term may describe the theology of Jonathan Edwards, who referred to a future enjoyment of him [God] in heaven.[17] In the 17th century, the atomist Pierre Gassendi adapted Epicureanism to the Christian doctrine.

Utilitarianism addresses problems with moral motivation neglected by Kantianism by giving a central role to happiness. It is an ethical theory holding that the proper course of action is the one that maximizes the overall “good” of the society.[18] It is thus one form of consequentialism, meaning that the moral worth of an action is determined by its resulting outcome. The most influential contributors to this theory are considered to be the 18th and 19th-century British philosophers Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. Conjoining hedonismas a view as to what is good for peopleto utilitarianism has the result that all action should be directed toward achieving the greatest total amount of happiness (see Hedonic calculus). Though consistent in their pursuit of happiness, Bentham and Mill’s versions of hedonism differ. There are two somewhat basic schools of thought on hedonism:[1]

Contemporary proponents of hedonism include Swedish philosopher Torbjrn Tnnsj,[19]Fred Feldman.[20] and Spanish ethic philosopher Esperanza Guisn (published a “Hedonist manifesto” in 1990).[21]

A dedicated contemporary hedonist philosopher and writer on the history of hedonistic thought is the French Michel Onfray. He has written two books directly on the subject (L’invention du plaisir: fragments cyraniques[22] and La puissance d’exister: Manifeste hdoniste).[23] He defines hedonism “as an introspective attitude to life based on taking pleasure yourself and pleasuring others, without harming yourself or anyone else.”[24] “Onfray’s philosophical project is to define an ethical hedonism, a joyous utilitarianism, and a generalized aesthetic of sensual materialism that explores how to use the brain’s and the body’s capacities to their fullest extent — while restoring philosophy to a useful role in art, politics, and everyday life and decisions.”[25]

Onfray’s works “have explored the philosophical resonances and components of (and challenges to) science, painting, gastronomy, sex and sensuality, bioethics, wine, and writing. His most ambitious project is his projected six-volume Counter-history of Philosophy,”[25] of which three have been published. For him “In opposition to the ascetic ideal advocated by the dominant school of thought, hedonism suggests identifying the highest good with your own pleasure and that of others; the one must never be indulged at the expense of sacrificing the other. Obtaining this balance my pleasure at the same time as the pleasure of others presumes that we approach the subject from different angles political, ethical, aesthetic, erotic, bioethical, pedagogical, historiographical.”

For this he has “written books on each of these facets of the same world view.”[26] His philosophy aims “for “micro-revolutions, ” or revolutions of the individual and small groups of like-minded people who live by his hedonistic, libertarian values.”[27]

The Abolitionist Society is a transhumanist group calling for the abolition of suffering in all sentient life through the use of advanced biotechnology. Their core philosophy is negative utilitarianism. David Pearce is a theorist of this perspective and he believes and promotes the idea that there exists a strong ethical imperative for humans to work towards the abolition of suffering in all sentient life. His book-length internet manifesto The Hedonistic Imperative[28] outlines how technologies such as genetic engineering, nanotechnology, pharmacology, and neurosurgery could potentially converge to eliminate all forms of unpleasant experience among human and non-human animals, replacing suffering with gradients of well-being, a project he refers to as “paradise engineering”.[29] A transhumanist and a vegan,[30] Pearce believes that we (or our future posthuman descendants) have a responsibility not only to avoid cruelty to animals within human society but also to alleviate the suffering of animals in the wild.

Critics of hedonism have objected to its exclusive concentration on pleasure as valuable.

In particular, G. E. Moore offered a thought experiment in criticism of pleasure as the sole bearer of value: he imagined two worlds – one of exceeding beauty and the other a heap of filth. Neither of these worlds will be experienced by anyone. The question, then, is if it is better for the beautiful world to exist than the heap of filth. In this Moore implied that states of affairs have value beyond conscious pleasure, which he said spoke against the validity of hedonism.[31]

Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). “Hedonism”. Encyclopdia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.

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Rationalism – New World Encyclopedia

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Jan 202016

Rationalism is a broad family of positions in epistemology. Perhaps the best general description of rationalism is the view that there are some distinctive aspects or faculties of the mind that (1) are distinct from passive aspects of the mind such as sense-perceptions and (2) someway or other constitute a special source (perhaps only a partial source) of knowledge. These distinctive aspects are typically associated or identified with human abilities to engage in mathematics and abstract reasoning, and the knowledge they provide is often seen as of a type that could not have come from other sources. Philosophers who resist rationalism are usually grouped under the heading of empiricists, who are often allied under the claim that all human knowledge comes from experience.

The debate around which the rationalism/empiricism distinction revolves is one of the oldest and most continuous in philosophy. Some of Plato’s most explicit arguments address the topic and it was arguably the central concern of many of the Modern thinkers. Indeed, Kant’s principal works were concerned with “pure” faculties of reason. Contemporary philosophers have advanced and refined the issue, though there are current thinkers who align themselves with either side of the tradition.

It is difficult to identify a major figure in the history to whom some rationalist doctrine has not been attributed at some point. One reason for this is that there is no question that humans possess some sort of reasoning ability that allows them to come to know some facts they otherwise wouldn’t (for instance, mathematical facts), and every philosopher has had to acknowledge this fact. Another reason is that the very business of philosophy is to achieve knowledge by using the rational faculties, in contrast to, for instance, mystical approaches to knowledge. Nevertheless, some philosophical figures stand out as attributing even greater significance to reasoning abilities. Three are discussed here: Plato, Descartes, and Kant.

The most famous metaphysical doctrine of the great Greek philosopher Plato is his doctrine of “Forms,” as espoused in The Republic and other dialogues. The Forms are described as being outside of the world as experience by the senses, but as somehow constituting the metaphysical basis of the world. Exactly how they fulfill this function is generally only gestured at through analogies, though the Timaeus describes the Forms as operating as blueprints for the craftsman of the universe.

The distinctiveness of Plato’s rationalism lies in another aspect of his theory of Forms. Though the common sense position is that the senses are one’s best means of getting in touch with reality, Plato held that human reasoning ability was the one thing that allowed people to approach the Forms, the most fundamental aspects of reality. It is worth pausing to reflect on how radical this idea is: On such a view, philosophical attempts to understand the nature of “good” or “just” are not mere analyses of concepts formed, but rather explorations of eternal things that are responsible for shaping the reality of the sensory world.

The French philosopher Ren Descartes, whose Meditations on First Philosophy defined the course of much philosophy from then up till the present day, stood near the beginning of the Western European Enlightenment. Impressed by the power of mathematics and the development of the new science, Descartes was confronted with two questions: How was it that people were coming to attain such deep knowledge of the workings of the universe, and how was it that they had spent so long not doing so?

Regarding the latter question, Descartes concluded that people had been mislead by putting too much faith in the testimony of their senses. In particular, he thought such a mistake was behind the then-dominant physics of Aristotle. Aristotle and the later Scholastics, in Descartes’ mind, had used their reasoning abilities well enough on the basis of what their senses told them. The problem was that they had chosen the wrong starting point for their inquiries.

By contrast, the advancements in the new science (some of which Descartes could claim for himself) were based in a very different starting point: The “pure light of reason.” In Descartes’ view, God had equipped humans with a faculty that was able to understand the fundamental essence of the two types of substance that made up the world: Intellectual substance (of which minds are instances) and physical substance (matter). Not only did God give people such a faculty, Descartes claimed, but he made them such that, when using the faculty, they are unable to question its deliverances. Not only that, but God left humanity the means to conclude that the faculty was a gift from a non-deceptive omnipotent creator.

In some respects, the German philosophy Immanuel Kant is the paradigm of an anti-rationalist philosopher. A major portion of his central work, the 1781 Critique of Pure Reason, is specifically devoted to attacking rationalist claims to have insight through reason alone into the nature of the soul, the spatiotemporal/causal structure of the universe, and the existence of God. Plato and Descartes are among his most obvious targets.

For instance, in his evaluation of rationalist claims concerning the nature of the soul (the chapter of the Critique entitled “The Paralogisms of Pure Reason”), Kant attempts to diagnose how a philosopher like Descartes could have been tempted into thinking that he could accomplish deep insight into his own nature by thought alone. One of Descartes’ conclusions was that his mind, unlike his body, was utterly simple and so lacked parts. Kant claimed that Descartes mistook a simple experience (the thought, “I think”) for an experience of simplicity. In other words, he saw Descartes as introspecting, being unable to find any divisions within himself, and thereby concluding that he lacked any such divisions and so was simple. But the reason he was unable to find divisions, in Kant’s view, was that by mere thought alone we are unable to find anything.

At the same time, however, Kant was an uncompromising advocate of some key rationalist intuitions. Confronted with the Scottish philosopher David Hume’s claim that the concept of “cause” was merely one of the constant conjunction of resembling entities, Kant insisted that all Hume really accomplished was in proving that the concept of causation could not possibly have its origin in human senses. What the senses cannot provide, Kant claimed, is any notion of necessity, yet a crucial part of our concept of causation is that it is the necessary connection of two entities or events. Kant’s conclusion was that this concept, and others like it, must be a precondition of sensory experience itself.

In his moral philosophy (most famously expounded in his Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals), Kant made an even more original claim on behalf of reason. The sensory world, in his view, was merely ideal, in that the spatiotemporal/sensory features of the objects people experience have their being only in humanity’s representations, and so are not features of the objects in themselves. But this means that most everyday concepts are simply inadequate for forming any notion whatsoever of what the world is like apart from our subjective features. By contrast, Kant claimed that there was no parallel reason for thinking that objects in themselves (which include our soul) do not conform to the most basic concepts of our higher faculties. So while those faculties are unable to provide any sort of direct, reliable access to the basic features of reality as envisioned by Plato and Descartes, they and they alone give one the means to at least contemplate what true reality might be like.

In the early part of the twentieth century, a philosophical movement known as Logical Positivism set the ground for a new debate over rationalism. The positivists (whose ranks included Otto Neurath and Rudolf Carnap) claimed that the only meaningful claims were those that could potentially be verified by some set of experiential observations. Their aim was to do away with intellectual traditions that they saw as simply vacuous, including theology and the majority of philosophy, in contrast with science.

As it turned out, the Positivists were unable to explain how all scientific claims were verifiable by experience, thus losing their key motivation (for instance, no set of experiences could verify that all stars are hot, since no set of experiential observations could itself confirm that one had observed all the stars). Nevertheless, their vision retained enough force that later philosophers felt hard-pressed to explain what, if anything, was epistemically distinctive about the non-sensory faculties. One recent defense of rationalism can be found in the work of contemporary philosophers such as Laurence Bonjour (the recent developments of the position are, in general, too subtle to be adequately addressed here). Yet the charge was also met by a number of thinkers working in areas as closely related to psychology as to philosophy.

A number of thinkers have argued for something like Kant’s view that people have concepts independently of experience. Indeed, the groundbreaking work of the linguist Noam Chomsky (which he occasionally tied to Descartes) is largely based on the assumption that there is a “universal grammar”that is, some basic set of linguistic categories and abilities that necessarily underlie all human languages. One task of linguistics, in Chomsky’s view, is to look at a diversity of languages in order to determine what the innate linguistic categories and capacities are.

A similar proposal concerning human beliefs about mentality itself has been advanced by Peter Carruthers. One intuitive view is that each of us comes to attribute mental states to other people only after a long developmental process where people learn to associate observable phenomena with their own mental states, and thereby with others. Yet, Carruthers argues, this view simply cannot account for the speed and complexity of humans’ understanding of others’ psychology at very early ages. The only explanation is that some understanding of mentality is “hard-wired” in the human brain.

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Cryonics | Evidence-Based Cryonics

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Dec 202015

CryonicsMagazine, July 2013

[The following is a text adaptation of a PowerPoint presentation given on Sunday, May 12, 2013at the Resuscitation and Reintegration of Cryonics Patients Symposium in Portland, Oregon]

An understanding of probable futurerepair requirements for cryonicspatients could affect current cryostoragetemperature practices. I believe thatmolecular nanotechnology at cryogenictemperatures will probably be required forrepair and revival of all cryonics patientsin cryo-storage now and in the foreseeablefuture. Current nanotechnology is far frombeing adequate for that task. I believe thatwarming cryonics patients to temperatureswhere diffusion-based devices couldoperate would result in dissolutionof structure by hydrolysis and similarmolecular motion before repair could beachieved. I believe that the technologiefor scanning the brain/mind of a cryonicspatient, and reconstructing a patient fromthe scan are much more remote in thefuture than cryogenic nanotechnology.

Cryonicists face a credibility problem.It is important to show that resuscitationtechnology is possible (or not impossible)if cryonicists are to convince ourselvesor convince others that current cryonicspractice is not a waste of money and effort.For some people it is adequate to know thatthe anatomical basis of the mind is beingpreserved well enough even if in a veryfragmented form that some unspecifiedfuture technology could repair and restorememory and personal identity. Otherpeople want more detailed elaboration.

Books have detailed whatnanotechnology robots (nanorobots) willlook-like and be capable-of, including(notably) Nanosystems by K. Eric Drexler(1992) and Nanomedicine by Robert A.Freitas, Jr. (Volume I, 1999; Volume IIA,2003). The online Alcor library containsarticles detailing repair of cryonics patientsby nanorobots at cryogenic temperature,in particular, A CryopreservationRevival Scenario using MolecularNanotechnology by Ralph Merkle andRobert Freitas as well as RealisticScenario for Nanotechnological Repairof the Frozen Human Brain. Despitethe detailed descriptions, calculations, andquantitative analyses that have been given,any technology as remote from presentcapabilities as cryogenic nanotechnology iscertain to be very different from whateveranyone may currently imagine. It is difficultto argue against claims that all suchdescriptions are nothing more than handwaving,blue-sky speculations.

Current medical applications ofnanotechnology are mainly limited to theuse of nanoparticles for drug delivery.1Nanomachines are being built, but they arelittle more than toys including a rotor thatcan propel a molecule2 or microcantileverdeflection of DNA by electrostatic force.3In classical mechanics and kinetictheory of gases, on a molecular level,temperature is defined in terms of theaverage translational kinetic energy ofmolecules, which means that the lowerthe temperature the slower the motion ofthe molecules. According to the ArrheniusEquation, the rate of a chemical reactiondeclines exponentially with temperaturedecline. It would be wrong to concludethat nanomachines would barely be able tomove at cryogenic temperatures, however.Nanomachines operate by mechanicalmovement of constituent atoms, a processthat is temperature-independent. In fact,nanomachines would probably operatemore effectively at cryogenic temperaturebecause there would be far less jostlingof atoms in the molecular structuresupon which nanomachines would operate.Nanomachines would also be less vulnerableto reactions with oxygen at cryogenictemperature, although it would nonethelessbe preferable for cryogenic nanorepair tooccur in an oxygen-free environment.

Although under ideal circumstances iceformation can be prevented in cryonicspatients, circumstances too often result inat least some freezingsuch as inability toperfuse with vitrification solution, or poorperfusion with vitrification solution becauseof ischemia due to delayed treatment.Past cryonics patients were perfusedwith the (anti-freeze) cryoprotectantglycerol, whereas cryonics patients arecurrently perfused with cryoprotectantsolutions that include ethylene glycoland dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO). Unlikewater, which forms crystalline ice whensolidifying upon cooling, cryoprotectantsform an amorphous (non-crystalline,vitreous) solid (a hardened liquid) whensolidifying upon cooling. The hardenedliquid is a glass rather than an ice. Thetemperature at which the solidification(vitrification) occurs is called the glasstransition temperature (Tg).

For M22, the cryoprotectant used byAlcor to vitrify cryonics patients, Tg istypically between 123C and 124C(depending on the cooling rate). Tg isabout the same for the cryoprotectant(VM-1) used for cryonics patients at theCryonics Institute.Although freezing can be reduced oreliminated by perfusing cryonics patientswith vitrification solution before coolingto Tg, eliminating cracking is a moredifficult problem. Cryonics patients arecooled to cryogenic temperatures byexternal cooling. Thermal conductivity isslow in a cryonics patient, which meansthat the outside gets much colder thanthe inside. When the outside of a samplecools more quickly than the inside of thesample, thermal stress results. A vitrifiedpatient subjected to such thermal stresscan crack or fracture. No efforts have beenmade to find additives to M22 that wouldhave a similar effect as boron oxide hason allowing Pyrex glass to reduce thermalstress.

If a vitrified sample is small enough,and if cooling is slow enough, the samplecan be cooled far below Tg down toliquid nitrogen temperature withoutcracking. A rabbit kidney (10 millilitervolume) can be cooled down to liquidnitrogen temperature in two days withoutcracking/fracturing.6 Cryonics patientsare much too large to be cooled to liquidnitrogen temperature over a period ofdays without cracking. The amount oftime required for cooling vitrified cryonicspatients to liquid nitrogen temperaturewithout cracking is unknown, and wouldprobably be much too long.

In 1990 cryobiologist Dr. Gregory Fahypublished results of cracking experimentsthat he performed on samples of thecryoprotectant propylene glycol.4 Tg forpropylene glycol is 108C, but in RPS-2carrier solution the Tg is 107C. In oneexperiment he demonstrated that crackingbegan at lower temperatures for smallersamples, specifically: 143C for 46 mL,116C for 482 mL, and 111C for 1412mL. (The last volume is comparable to thevolume of an adult human brain.) Dr. Fahyalso demonstrated that cracking could bedelayed by cooling at slower cooling rates.But when cracking did occur, the cracksformed at the lower temperatures werefiner and more numerous.

Based on evidence that large cracksformed at higher temperatures by morerapid cooling results in a relief of thermalstress that prevents the fine and morenumerous cracks formed when crackingbegins at lower temperature, the CryonicsInstitute (CI) altered its cooling protocolfor cryonics patients. CI patients arecooled quickly from 118C to 145C,and then cooled slowly to 196C.5In order to minimize or eliminatecracking in cryonics patients, proposalshave been made to store the patients attemperatures lower than Tg (124C), buthigher than liquid nitrogen temperature(196C).6 Such a cryo-storage protocolis described as Intermediate TemperatureStorage (ITS). Alcor currently cares for anumber of ITS patients at 140C, but aconsensus has not yet been reached aboutwhat ITS temperature will be chosen whenthis service is made available to all Alcormembers.

Although Alcors vitrification solutionM22 can prevent ice formation with somesamples and protocols, M22 cannot preventice nuclei from forming at cryogenictemperatures. Ice nuclei are local clustersof water molecules that rotate into anorientation that favors later growth of icecrystals when a solution is warmed. Icenuclei are not damaging, but the fact that icenuclei can form indicates molecular mobilitywhich could be damaging. Specifically,between the temperatures of 100C and135C, ice nuclei can form in M22, withthe maximum ice nucleation rate occurringnear Tg. At 140C the ice nucleation ratefor M22 is undetectable. But nuclei will beprobably formed in cooling to 140C.

Although cryostorage at 140C is anattempt to minimize cracking and minimizenucleation, this ITS neither eliminatescracking nor ice nuclei formation.Cryonics patients slowly cooled from Tgto 140C will surely experience someice nucleation. Alcor places a listeningdevice (crackphone) under the skullof its cryonics patients for the purposeof monitoring cracking events. Myunderstanding is that for most Alcorpatients the crackphone detects crackingat Tg or only slightly below Tg, althoughthere was reportedly one M22-perfusedpatient for which the first fracturing eventoccurred at 134C. The propylene glycolexperiments would support the view ofcracking occurring slightly below Tg, butvitrified biological samples resist crackingbetter than pure cryoprotectant solutions.

With ice formation, cracking could occurat temperatures higher than Tg. AlthoughITS may prevent the formation of crackingthat could occur in cooling below 140C,it does not prevent the cracks that occur incooling from Tg to 140C.I have wondered whether there areforms of damage which would occurin a cryonics patient stored at 140Cthat would not occur during storage at196C. A solid cryogenic state of matterdoes not prevent molecular motion.Molecular motion in a biological sampleheld at cryogenic temperature could resultin damage to that sample.

Ions generated by radiation aremuch more mobile than molecules.An ionic species (probably protons) intrimethylammonium dihydrogen phosphateglass is nine orders of magnitude moremobile than the glass moleculesandsodium ions in sodium disilicate glass aretwelve orders of magnitude more mobilethan the glass molecules.9

Cryobiologist Peter Mazur has statedthat below 130C viscosity is so high(>1013 Poise) that diffusion is insignificantover less than geological time spans. Headds that there is no confirmed case ofcell death ascribed to storage at 196Cfor some 2-15 years and none even whencells are exposed to levels of ionizingradiation some 100 times background forup to 5 yr.10 Frozen 8-cell mouse embryossubjected to the equivalent of 2,000 yearsof background gamma rays during 5 to8 months in liquid nitrogen showed noevident detrimental effect on survival ordevelopment.11

In attempting to evaluate damagingeffects of temperature and radiation, itcould be valuable to analyze chemicalalterations, rather than complete cell deathor viability. Acetylcholinesterase enzymesubjected to X-ray irradiation showsconformational changes at 118C, but noconformational changes when irradiatedat 173C.12 X-ray irradiation of insulinand elastase crystals resulted in four timesas much damage to disulfide bridges at173C compared to 223C.13 Anotherstudy showed a 25% crystal diffractionlifetime extension for D-xylose isomerasecrystals X-ray irradiated at less than 253Ccompared to those irradiated at 173C.14

One study showed that lettuce seedsshow measurable deterioration when storedat liquid nitrogen temperature for periodsof 10 to 20 years. Rotational molecularmobility was quantified. A graphical plotwas generated showing increasing timesfor when 50% of lettuce seeds would failto germinate as a function of decreasingtemperature. Those times were estimated tobe about 500 years for 135C and about3,400 years for 196C.15 Translationalvibrational motion has been given as anexplanation for seed quality deterioration atcryogenic temperatures.16 The mean squarevibrational amplitude of a water moleculeis not even zero at 0 Kelvins (273C), andhas been determined to be 0.0082 squareAngstroms. The mean square vibrationalamplitude is 0.0171 square Angstroms at173C and 0.0339 square Angstroms at73C.17

Realistically, however, 3,400 years ismuch longer than cryonics patients arelikely to be stored. Storage in liquid heliumat 269C or in a shadowed moon craterat 235C18 would certainly be moretrouble than it is worth. Northern woodfrogs spend months in a semi-frozen stateat 3C to 6C, and are able to revivewith full recovery of heartbeat uponre-warming.19 An empirical study of acryoprotectant very similar to M22 (VS55) showed viscosity continuing to increaseexponentially below Tg, just as viscosityincreases exponentially with temperaturedecrease above Tg.20 The exponentialdecrease in viscosity (molecular mobility)that makes ice nucleation cease at 135Cindicates that there is probably littlemolecular mobility at 140C, despite thepossibility of damage from ionic species orvibrational motion. All things considered,however, my personal preference is forstorage in liquid nitrogen, rather than someintermediate temperature above 196C. Iwould also prefer for cryogenic nanorobotrepair to be at liquid nitrogen temperature.

I am by no means a nanotechnologyexpert, but I can give a brief descriptionof my own views of how cryogenicnanotechnology repair of a cryonicspatient would proceed. I must thank RalphMerkle for his assistance in allowing me toconsult with him to formulate and clarifymany of my views.I believe that repair of cryonics patientsat cryogenic temperature would be acombination of nano-mining and nanoarcheology.Nanorobots (nanometer-sizedrobots) would first clear blood vessels ofwater, cryoprotectant, plasma, blood cells,etc. The blood vessels would becomemining shafts that would provide access toall body tissues. Nanometer-sized conveyorbelts or trucks on rails could removeblood vessel contents. Where freezingor ischemia had destroyed blood vessels,artificial shafts would be created. Unlikethe nano-mining that simply removes allblood vessel contents, the creation ofartificial shafts would have the characterof an archeological dig. Care would betaken in removing material to avoiddamaging precious artifacts that mightindicate original structure which could be discovered at any unexpected moment.

Section 13.4 of K. Eric Drexlers bookNanosystems provides diagrams and detailsof a nanorobot manipulator arm. Such adiamondoid component would containabout four million atoms, and could befitted with a variety of tools at the endof the arm. A variety of tips with varyingdegrees of chemical reactivity couldallow for reversible, temporary chemicalbonds that could be used for grabbingand moving molecules. These could rangefrom radicals or carbenes that would formstrong covalent bonds, to boron thatcan form relatively weak and reversiblebonds to nitrogen and oxygen, to simpleO-H groups that can form even weakerhydrogen bonds. Tools for digging neednot be so refined. The manipulator arm isdepicted as being 100 nanometers long and50 nanometers wide, although nanorobotswould need to be larger to includecapability for locomotion, computation,and power. A complete nanorobot couldbe as large as a few thousand nanometersin size. A capillary is between 5,000 to10,000 nanometers in diameter, so thereshould be plenty of room for many suchnanorobots to operate. Ralph Merkleestimates that 3,200 trillion nanorobotsweighing a total of 53 grams could repaira cryonics patient in about 3 years.21,22 Likemany of the calculations associated withnanotechnology, I take these figures with apound of salt. It is certainly true, however,that it could take years to repair a patient,and that there should not be a rush tofinish the job.

Merkle & Freitas have suggested thatnanorobots be powered by electrostaticmotors. Stators and rotors would be electricrather than magnetic. Tiny moving chargedplates are easier to fabricate than tiny coilsand tiny iron cores, but more fundamentally,magnetic properties do not scale well withreduced size (i.e., molecular-scale magneticmotors dont work), whereas electrostaticproperties do scale well with reduced size.Electrostatic actuators are already beingused in microelectromechanical systems(MEMS).23 High density batteries couldprovide power for days, and rechargingstations could be located throughout thepatient. Alternatively, nanotube cablescould bring power to the patient fromthe outside. Such cables could also bea means of transmitting and receivingcomputational data. Nanotube cablescould also be used to reunite fracture faces created by cracking. Scanning and imageprocessing capabilities would need toevaluate what needs to be fixed.

As much as possible I would favorreplacement rather than repair, whichwould greatly simplify the process. Itwould be much easier to replace a kidneythan to repair the diseased kidney ofan elderly patient who died of kidneydisease. Curing disease and rejuvenationwould thus become part of the repair of acryonics patient. Of course, neuro patientswould require an entirely new body. Thebrain would be the major exception toreplacement strategy because the braincould not be replaced without loss ofmemory and personal identity.

Even within the brain, however, it couldbe feasible to replace many componentswithout loss of memory and personalidentity. It could be feasible to replacemany organelles such as mitochondria,lysosomes, etc., and many macromoleculessuch as proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids.DNA could be repaired, and possiblyeven modified to cure genetic disease,but epigenetic expression in neurons maybe critical for reconstruction of synapticstructure. Synaptic connections wouldnot only be restored, but the quantityand quality of neurotransmitter contentsshould be restored. It is not simply a matterthat some neurotransmitters are inhibitoryand others are stimulatory. There are morethan 40 different neurotransmitters used inthe brain, and there must be a good reasonwhy such variety is necessitated.

Part of the repair process could involveremoval of ice nuclei, nearly all of whichwould be extracellular. Re-created bloodvessel contents would include freshcryoprotectant, water, plasma, and bloodcells without the original ice nuclei. Althoughsome repair scenarios favor different typesof repair above cryogenic temperature, Idoubt that this is necessary or desirable.Alternative repair scenarios involvesplitting the brain in half, and halvingthe halves repeatedly at cryogenictemperaturewith digitization at eachstepuntil the brain has been totallydigitized.21,22 Or digitization could bedone by repetitive nano-microtomes atcryogenic temperature. The digital datacould be used for full reconstruction. Somepeople might object that if one individualcould be created from digital data, manysuch individuals could be createdraisingquestions of which are duplicates and which is the original. There is detaileddiscussion of the duplicates problem/paradox in the philosophy section of mywebsiteBENBEST.COM.

Although other repair scenarioscould prove to be feasible, I believethat cryogenic nanotechnology will berequired for all cryonics patients in theforeseeable future until the problem ofcryoprotectant toxicity can be solved.With effective nontoxic cryoprotectants,sufficient cryoprotectant could be usedto prevent ice nuclei formation at alltemperatures, prevent devitrification(freezing) upon rewarming, and eliminateall toxic damage. In such a case, therecould be true reversible cryopreservation(suspended animation).

What is needed to create thenanotechnology required for repair ofcryonics patients? Small machines willneed to build parts for smaller machines,which would in turn build even smallermachines. Many details of machine operation must be perfected at each stage.Current modern technological civilizationbegan with cave people pounding on rocks.Ralph Merkle has said that compared tofuture technology, current technology ispounding on rocks.


1. Chi AH, Clayton K, Burrow TJ, Lewis R,Luciano D, Alexis F, Dhers S, Elman NM.Intelligent drug-delivery devices based onmicro- and nano-technologies. Ther Deliv.2013 Jan;4(1):77-94.

2. Kudernac T, Ruangsupapichat N,Parschau M, Maci B, Katsonis N,Harutyunyan SR, Ernst KH, Feringa BL.Electrically driven directional motion of afour-wheeled molecule on a metal surface.Nature. 2011 Nov 9;479(7372):208-11.

3. Zhang J, Lang HP, Yoshikawa G,Gerber C. Optimization of DNAhybridization efficiency by pH-drivennanomechanical bending. Langmuir. 2012Apr 17;28(15):6494-501.

4. Fahy GM, Saur J, Williams RJ. Physicalproblems with the vitrification of largebiological systems. Cryobiology. 1990Oct;27(5):492-510.

5. Best B. The Cryonics Institutes 95thPatient. Long Life. 2009 Sept-Oct; 41(9-10):17-21.

6. Wowk B. Systems for IntermediateTemperature Storage for FractureReduction and Avoidance. 2011 ThirdQuarter;32(3):7-12.

7. Okamoto M, Nakagata N, Toyoda Y.Cryopreservation and transport of mousespermatozoa at -79 degrees C. Exp Anim.2001 Jan;50(1):83-6.

8. Angell CA. Entropy and Fragility inSupercooling Liquids. Journal of Researchof the National Institute of Standardsand Technology. 1997 March-April;102(2):171-185.

9. Mizunoa F, Belieresa J.-P, KuwatabN, Pradelb A, Ribesb M, Angell CA.Highly decoupled ionic and protonicsolid electrolyte systems, in relation toother relaxing systems and their energylandscapes. 2006 Nov;352(42/49):5147-5155.

10. Mazur P. Freezing of living cells:mechanisms and implications. Am JPhysiol. 1984 Sep;247(3 Pt 1):C125-42.

11. Glenister PH, Whittingham DG,Lyon MF. Further studies on the effectof radiation during the storage of frozen8-cell mouse embryos at -196 degrees C. JReprod Fertil. 1984 Jan;70(1):229-34.

12. Weik M, Ravelli RB, Silman I,Sussman JL, Gros P, Kroon J. Specificprotein dynamics near the solvent glasstransition assayed by radiation-inducedstructural changes. Protein Sci. 2001Oct;10(10):1953-61.

13. Meents A, Gutmann S, Wagner A,Schulze-Briese C. Origin and temperaturedependence of radiation damagein biological samples at cryogenictemperatures. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.2010 Jan 19;107(3):1094-9.

14. Chinte U, Shah B, Chen YS, PinkertonAA, Schall CA, Hanson BL. Cryogenic(

15. Walters C, Wheeler L, Stanwood PC.Longevity of cryogenically stored seeds.Cryobiology. 2004 Jun;48(3):229-44.

16. Wowk B. Thermodynamic aspectsof vitrification. Cryobiology. 2010Feb;60(1):11-22.

17. Leadbetter AJ; The Thermodynamicand Vibrational Properties of H$_2$O Iceand D$_2$O Ice. 1965 Sep;A287:403-425.

18. Paige DA, Siegler MA, Zhang JA,Hayne PO, Foote EJ, Bennett KA,Vasavada AR, Greenhagen BT, SchofieldJT, McCleese DJ, Foote MC, DeJong E,Bills BG, Hartford W, Murray BC, AllenCC, Snook K, Soderblom LA, Calcutt S,Taylor FW, Bowles NE, Bandfield JL,Elphic R, Ghent R, Glotch TD, WyattMB, Lucey PG. Diviner Lunar Radiometerobservations of cold traps in the Moonssouth polar region. Science. 2010 Oct22;330(6003):479-82.

19. Costanzo JP, Lee RE Jr, DeVries AL,Wang T, Layne JR Jr. Survival mechanismsof vertebrate ectotherms at subfreezingtemperatures: applications in cryomedicine.FASEB J. 1995 Mar;9(5):351-8.

20. Noday DA, Steif PS, Rabin Y.Viscosity of cryoprotective agents nearglass transition: a new device, technique,and data on DMSO, DP6, and VS55. ExpMech. 2009 Oct;49(5):663-672.

21. Merkle, RC. The Molecular Repair ofthe Brain. Cryonics. 1994 Jan;15(1):16-31.

22. Merkle, RC. The Molecular Repair ofthe Brain. Cryonics. 1994 Apr;15(2):18-30.

23. Fennimore AM, Yuzvinsky TD,Han WQ, Fuhrer MS, Cumings J,Zettl A. Rotational actuators based oncarbon nanotubes. Nature. 2003 Jul 24;424(6947):408-10.

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The Libertarianism FAQ –

 Misc  Comments Off on The Libertarianism FAQ –
Dec 142015

There are a number of standard questions about libertarianism that have been periodically resurfacing in the politics groups for years. This posting attempts to answer some of them. I make no claim that the answers are complete, nor that they reflect a (nonexistent) unanimity among libertarians; the issues touched on here are tremendously complex. This posting will be useful, however, if it successfully conveys the flavor of libertarian thought and gives some indication of what most libertarians believe.

The word means approximately “believer in liberty”. Libertarians believe in individual conscience and individual choice, and reject the use of force or fraud to compel others except in response to force or fraud. (This latter is called the “Non-Coercion Principle” and is the one thing all libertarians agree on.)

Help individuals take more control over their own lives. Take the state (and other self-appointed representatives of “society”) out of private decisions. Abolish both halves of the welfare/warfare bureaucracy (privatizing real services) and liberate the 7/8ths of our wealth that’s now soaked up by the costs of a bloated and ineffective government, to make us all richer and freer. Oppose tyranny everywhere, whether it’s the obvious variety driven by greed and power-lust or the subtler, well-intentioned kinds that coerce people “for their own good” but against their wills.

Modern libertarianism has multiple roots. Perhaps the oldest is the minimal-government republicanism of the U.S.’s founding revolutionaries, especially Thomas Jefferson and the Anti-Federalists. Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill and the “classical liberals” of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were another key influence. More recently, Ayn Rand’s philosophy of “ethical egoism” and the Austrian School of free-market capitalist economics have both contributed important ideas. Libertarianism is alone among 20th-century secular radicalisms in owing virtually nothing to Marxism.

Once upon a time (in the 1800s), “liberal” and “libertarian” meant the same thing; “liberals” were individualist, distrustful of state power, pro-free- market, and opposed to the entrenched privilege of the feudal and mercantilist system. After 1870, the “liberals” were gradually seduced (primarily by the Fabian socialists) into believing that the state could and should be used to guarantee “social justice”. They largely forgot about individual freedom, especially economic freedom, and nowadays spend most of their time justifying higher taxes, bigger government, and more regulation. Libertarians call this socialism without the brand label and want no part of it.

For starters, by not being conservative. Most libertarians have no interest in returning to an idealized past. More generally, libertarians hold no brief for the right wing’s rather overt militarist, racist, sexist, and authoritarian tendencies and reject conservative attempts to “legislate morality” with censorship, drug laws, and obnoxious Bible-thumping. Though libertarians believe in free-enterprise capitalism, we also refuse to stooge for the military-industrial complex as conservatives are wont to do.

Libertarians want to abolish as much government as they practically can. About 3/4 are “minarchists” who favor stripping government of most of its accumulated power to meddle, leaving only the police and courts for law enforcement and a sharply reduced military for national defense (nowadays some might also leave special powers for environmental enforcement). The other 1/4 (including the author of this FAQ) are out-and-out anarchists who believe that “limited government” is a delusion and the free market can provide better law, order, and security than any goverment monopoly.

Also, current libertarian political candidates recognize that you can’t demolish a government as large as ours overnight, and that great care must be taken in dismantling it carefully. For example, libertarians believe in open borders, but unrestricted immigration now would attract in a huge mass of welfare clients, so most libertarians would start by abolishing welfare programs before opening the borders. Libertarians don’t believe in tax-funded education, but most favor the current “parental choice” laws and voucher systems as a step in the right direction.

Progress in freedom and prosperity is made in steps. The Magna Carta, which for the first time put limits on a monarchy, was a great step forward in human rights. The parliamentary system was another great step. The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, which affirmed that even a democratically-elected government couldn’t take away certain inalienable rights of individuals, was probably the single most important advance so far. But the journey isn’t over.

All Libertarians are libertarians, but not the reverse. A libertarian is a person who believes in the Non-Coercion Principle and the libertarian program. A Libertarian is a person who believes the existing political system is a proper and effective means of implementing those principles; specifically, “Libertarian” usually means a member of the Libertarian Party, the U.S.’s largest and most successful third party. Small-ell libertarians are those who consider the Libertarian Party tactically ineffective, or who reject the political system generally and view democracy as “the tyranny of the majority”.

By privatizing them. Taxation is theft — if we must have a government, it should live on user fees, lotteries, and endowments. A government that’s too big to function without resorting to extortion is a government that’s too big, period. Insurance companies (stripped of the state-conferred immunities that make them arrogant) could use the free market to spread most of the risks we now “socialize” through government, and make a profit doing so.

Enforce contracts. Anarcho-libertarians believe the “government” in this sense can be a loose network of rent-a-cops, insurance companies, and for-profit arbitration boards operating under a shared legal code; minarchists believe more centralization would be necessary and envision something much like a Jeffersonian constitional government. All libertarians want to live in a society based (far more than ours now is) on free trade and mutual voluntary contract; the government’s job would be strictly to referee, and use the absolute minimum of force necessary to keep the peace.

Most libertarians are strongly in favor of abortion rights (the Libertarian Party often shows up at pro-rights rallies with banners that say “We’re Pro-Choice on Everything!”). Many libertarians are personally opposed to abortion, but reject governmental meddling in a decision that should be private between a woman and her physician. Most libertarians also oppose government funding of abortions, on the grounds that “pro-lifers” should not have to subsidize with their money behavior they consider to be murder.

Libertarians believe that every human being is entitled to equality before the law and fair treatment as an individual responsible for his or her own actions. We oppose racism, sexism, and sexual-preference bigotry, whether perpetrated by private individuals or (especially) by government. We reject racial discrimination, whether in its ugly traditional forms or in its newer guises as Affirmative Action quotas and “diversity” rules.

We recognize that there will always be bigotry and hatred in the world, just as there will always be fear and stupidity; but one cannot use laws to force understanding any more than one can use laws to force courage or intelligence. The only fair laws are those that never mention the words “black” or “white”; “man” or “woman”; “gay” or “straight”. When people use bigotry as an excuse to commit force or fraud, it is the act itself which is the crime, and deserves punishment, not the motive behind it.

Consistently opposed. The revolutionaries who kicked out King George based their call for insurrection on the idea that Americans have not only the right but the duty to oppose a tyrannical government with force — and that duty implies readiness to use force. This is why Thomas Jefferson said that “Firearms are the American yeoman’s liberty teeth” and, in common with many of the Founding Fathers, asserted that an armed citizenry is the securest guarantee of freedom. Libertarians assert that “gun control” is a propagandist’s lie for “people control”, and even if it worked for reducing crime and violence (which it does not; when it’s a crime to own guns, only criminals own them) it would be a fatally bad bargain.

Libertarians are opposed to any government-enforced limits on free expression whatsoever; we take an absolutist line on the First Amendment. On the other hand, we reject the “liberal” idea that refusing to subsidize a controversial artist is censorship. Thus, we would strike down all anti-pornography laws as unwarranted interference with private and voluntary acts (leaving in place laws punishing, for example, coercion of minors for the production of pornography). We would also end all government funding of art; the label of “artist” confers no special right to a living at public expense.

We believe the draft is slavery, pure and simple, and ought to be prohibited as “involuntary servitude” by the 13th Amendment. Any nation that cannot find enough volunteers to defend it among its citizenry does not deserve to survive.

That all drugs should be legalized. Drug-related crime (which is over 85% of all crime) is caused not by drugs but by drug laws that make the stuff expensive and a monopoly of criminals. This stance isn’t “approving” of drugs any more than defending free speech is “approving” of Nazi propaganda; it’s just realism — prohibition doesn’t work. And the very worst hazard of the drug war may be the expansion of police powers through confiscation laws, “no-knock” warrants and other “anti-drug” measures. These tactics can’t stop the drug trade, but they are making a mockery of our supposed Constitutional freedoms.

Libertarians would leave in place laws against actions which directly endanger the physical safety of others, like driving under the influence of drugs, or carrying a firearm under the influence.

First of all, stop creating them as our government does with military contractors and government-subsidized industries. Second, create a more fluid economic environment in which they’d break up. This happens naturally in a free market; even in ours, with taxes and regulatory policies that encourage gigantism, it’s quite rare for a company to stay in the biggest 500 for longer than twenty years. We’d abolish the limited-liability shield laws to make corporate officers and stockholders fully responsible for a corporation’s actions. We’d make it impossible for corporations to grow fat on “sweetheart deals” paid for with taxpayers’ money; we’d lower the cost of capital (by cutting taxes) and regulatory compliance (by repealing regulations that presume guilt until you prove your innocence), encouraging entrepreneurship and letting economic conditions (rather than government favoritism) determine the optimum size of the business unit.

Who owns the trees? The disastrous state of the environment in what was formerly the Soviet Union illustrates the truism that a resource theoretically “owned” by everyone is valued by no one. Ecological awareness is a fine thing, but without strong private-property rights no one can afford to care enough to conserve. Libertarians believe that the only effective way to save the Earth is to give everyone economic incentives to save their little bit of it.

No. What favors the rich is the system we have now — a fiction of strong property rights covering a reality of property by government fiat; the government can take away your “rights” by eminent domain, condemnation, taxation, regulation and a thousand other means. Because the rich have more money and time to spend on influencing and subverting government, such a system inevitably means they gain at others’ expense. A strong government always becomes the tool of privilege. Stronger property rights and a smaller government would weaken the power elite that inevitably seeks to seduce government and bend it to their own self-serving purposes — an elite far more dangerous than any ordinary criminal class.

No, though abandoning the poor might be merciful compared to what government has done to them. As the level of “anti-poverty” spending in this country has risen, so has poverty. Government bureaucracies have no incentive to lift people out of dependency and every incentive to keep them in it; after all, more poverty means a bigger budget and more power for the bureaucrats. Libertarians want to break this cycle by abolishing all income-transfer programs and allowing people to keep what they earn instead of taxing it away from them. The wealth freed up would go directly to the private sector, creating jobs for the poor, decreasing the demand on private charity, and increasing charitable giving. The results might diminish poverty or they might leave it at today’s levels — but it’s hard to see how they could be any less effective than the present wretched system.

This issue makes minarchists out of a lot of would-be anarchists. One view is that in a libertarian society everyone would be heavily armed, making invasion or usurpation by a domestic tyrant excessively risky. This is what the Founding Fathers clearly intended for the U.S. (the Constitution made no provision for a standing army, entrusting defense primarily to a militia consisting of the entirety of the armed citizenry). It works today in Switzerland (also furnishing one of the strongest anti-gun-control arguments). The key elements in libertarian-anarchist defense against an invader would be: a widespread ideology (libertarianism) that encourages resistance; ready availability of deadly weapons; and no structures of government that an invader can take over and use to rule indirectly. Think about the Afghans, the Viet Cong, the Minutemen — would you want to invade a country full of dedicated, heavily armed libertarians? :-)

Minarchist libertarians are less radical, observe that U.S. territory could certainly be protected effectively with a military costing less than half of the bloated U.S. military budget.

Voluntary cooperation is a wonderful thing, and we encourage it whenever we can. Despite the tired old tag line about “dog-eat-dog competition” and the presence of government intervention, the relatively free market of today’s capitalism is the most spectacular argument for voluntary cooperation in history; millions, even billions of people coordinating with each other every day to satisfy each others’ needs and create untold wealth.

What we oppose is the mockeries politicians and other criminals call cooperation but impose by force; there is no “cooperation” in taxation or the draft or censorship any more than you and I are “cooperating” when I put a gun to your head and steal your wallet.

Think about freedom, and act on your thoughts. Spend your dollars wisely. Oppose the expansion of state power. Promote “bottom-up” solutions to public problems, solutions that empower individuals rather than demanding intervention by force of government. Give to private charity. Join a libertarian organization; the Libertarian Party, or the Advocates for Self-Government, or the Reason Foundation. Start your own business; create wealth and celebrate others who create wealth. Support voluntary cooperation.

No one knows. Your author thinks libertarianism is about where constitutional republicanism was in 1750 — a solution waiting for its moment, a toy of political theorists and a few visionaries waiting for the people and leaders who can actualize it. The collapse of Communism and the triumph of capitalist economics will certainly help, by throwing central planning and the “nanny state” into a disrepute that may be permanent. Some libertarians believe we are headed for technological and economic changes so shattering that no statist ideology can possibly survive them (in particular, most of the nanotechnology “underground” is hard-core libertarian). Only time will tell.

There’s an excellent FAQ on anarchist theory and history at with links to many other Web documents.

Peter McWilliams’s wise and funny book Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do is worth a read.

Friedman, Milton and Friedman, Rose, Free to Choose: A Personal Statement (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980).

Hayek, Friedrich A. The Constitution of Liberty (Henry Regnery Company, 1960).

Hayek, Friedrich A. The Road to Serfdom (University of Chicago Press, 1944).

Lomasky, Loren, Persons, Rights, and the Moral Community (Oxford University Press, 1987).

Machan, Tibor, Individuals and Their Rights (Open Court, 1989).

Murray, Charles A. In Pursuit of Happiness and Good Government (Simon and Schuster, 1988).

Rasmussen, Douglas B. and Den Uyl, Douglas J., Liberty and Nature (Open Court, 1991).

Rothbard, Murray N. For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto, 2nd ed (Macmillan, 1978).

Reason. Editorial contact: 3415 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 400, Los Angeles, CA 90034. Subscriptions: PO Box 526, Mt. Morris, IL 61054

Liberty. PO Box 1167, Port Townsend, WA 98368.

1202 N. Tenn. St., Suite 202 Cartersville, GA 30120

3415 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 400, Los Angeles, CA 90034

1000 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20001-5403

938 Howard St. San Francisco, Suite 202, CA 94103

818 S. Grand Ave., Suite 202, Los Angeles, CA 90017

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The Libertarianism FAQ –

 Posted by at 3:42 am  Tagged with:

Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know

 Misc  Comments Off on Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know
Nov 022015

Historically, Americans have seen libertarians as far outside the mainstream, but with the rise of the Tea Party movement, libertarian principles have risen to the forefront of Republican politics. But libertarianism is more than the philosophy of individual freedom and unfettered markets that Republicans have embraced. Indeed, as Jason Brennan points out, libertarianism is a quite different–and far richer–system of thought than most of us suspect.

In this timely new entry in Oxford’s acclaimed series What Everyone Needs to Know, Brennan offers a nuanced portrait of libertarianism, proceeding through a series of questions to illuminate the essential elements of libertarianism and the problems the philosophy addresses, including such topics as the Value of Liberty, Human Nature and Ethics, Economic Liberty, Civil Rights, Social Justice and the Poor, Government and Democracy, and Contemporary Politics. Brennan asks the most fundamental and challenging questions: What do Libertarians think liberty is? Do libertarians think everyone should be selfish? Are libertarians just out to protect the interests of big business? What do libertarians think we should do about racial injustice? What would libertarians do about pollution? Are Tea Party activists true libertarians? As he sheds light on libertarian beliefs, Brennan overturns numerous misconceptions. Libertarianism is not about simple-minded paranoia about government, he writes. Rather, it celebrates the ideal of peaceful cooperation among free and equal people. Libertarians believe that the rich always capture political power; they want to minimize the power available to them in order to protect the weak. Brennan argues that libertarians are, in fact, animated by benevolence and a deep concern for the poor.

Clear, concise, and incisively written, this volume explains a vitally important philosophy in American history–and a potent force in contemporary politics.

What Everyone Needs to Know is a registered trademark of Oxford University Press.

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Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know

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Annenberg Classroom – Fifth Amendment

 Fifth Amendment  Comments Off on Annenberg Classroom – Fifth Amendment
Oct 192015

Fifth Amendment – The Text No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Fifth Amendment – The Meaning Grand Jury Protection: The Fifth Amendment requirement that serious federal criminal charges be started by a grand jury (a group of citizens who hear evidence from a prosecutor about potential crimes) is rooted in English common law. Its basic purpose is to provide a fair method for beginning criminal proceedings against those accused of committing crimes. Grand jury charges can be issued against anyone except members of the military, who are instead subject to courts-martial in the military justice system.

To avoid giving government unchecked powers, grand jurors are selected from the general population and their work, conducted in secret, is not hampered by rigid rules about the type of evidence that can be heard. In fact, grand jurors can act on their own knowledge and are free to start criminal proceedings on any information that they think relevant.

It is these broad powers that have led some critics to charge that grand juries are little more than puppets of prosecutors. Grand juries also serve an investigative role-because grand juries can compel witnesses to testify in the absence of their lawyers.

A significant number of states do not use grand juries, instead they begin criminal proceedings using informations or indictments. The right to a grand jury is one of only a few protections in the Bill of Rights that has not been applied to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment.

Protection against Double Jeopardy: This portion of the Fifth Amendment protects individuals from being twice put in jeopardy of life or limbthat is, in danger of being punished more than once for the same criminal act. The U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted the double jeopardy clause to protect against a second prosecution for the same offense after acquittal or conviction and against multiple punishments for the same crime. Like other provisions in the Bill of Rights that affect criminal prosecutions, the double jeopardy clause is rooted in the idea that the government should not have unlimited power to prosecute and punish criminal suspects. Rather, the government gets only one chance to make its case.

Right against Self-Incrimination: This provision of the Fifth Amendment is probably the best-known of all constitutional rights, as it appears frequently on television and in movieswhether in dramatic courtroom scenes (I take the Fifth!) or before the police question someone in their custody (You have the right to remain silent. Anything you do say can be used against you in a court of law.). The right protects a person from being forced to reveal to the police, prosecutor, judge, or jury any information that might subject him or her to criminal prosecution. Even if a person is guilty of a crime, the Fifth Amendment demands that the prosecutors come up with other evidence to prove their case. If police violate the Fifth Amendment by forcing a suspect to confess, a court may suppress the confession, that is, prohibit it from being used as evidence at trial.

The right to remain silent also means that a defendant has the right not to take the witness stand at all during his or her trial, and that the prosecutor cannot point to the defendants silence as evidence of guilt. There are, however, limitations on the right against self-incrimination. For example, it applies only to testimonial acts, such as speaking, nodding, or writing. Other personal information that might be incriminating, like blood or hair samples, DNA or fingerprints, may be used as evidence. Similarly, incriminating statements that an individual makes voluntarilysuch as when a suspect confesses to a friend or writes in a personal diaryare not protected.

Right to Due Process: The right to due process of law has been recognized since 1215, when the Magna Carta (the British charter) was adopted. Historically, the right protected people accused of crimes from being imprisoned without fair procedures (like indictments and trials, where they would have an opportunity to confront their accusers). The right of due process has grown in two directions: It affords individuals a right to a fair process (known as procedural due process) and a right to enjoy certain fundamental liberties without governmental interference (known as substantive due process). The Fifth Amendments due process clause applies to the federal governments conduct. In 1868 the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment expanded the right of due process to include limits on the actions of state governments.

Today, court decisions interpreting the Fourteenth Amendments due process right generally apply to the Fifth Amendment and vice versa.

Takings Clause: The takings clause of the Fifth Amendment strikes a balance between the rights of private property owners and the right of the government to take that property for a purpose that benefits the public at large. When the government takes private property, it is required to pay just compensation to the property owner for his or her loss. The takings power of the government, sometimes referred to as the power of eminent domain, may be used for a wide range of valid public uses (for a highway or a park, for example). For the most part, when defining just compensation, courts try to reach some approximation of market value.

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Annenberg Classroom – Fifth Amendment

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Online Debate: Human genetic engineering is a good thing …

 Human Genetic Engineering  Comments Off on Online Debate: Human genetic engineering is a good thing …
Oct 162015

My argument is that genetic engineering, and specifically human genetic engineering is a good thing.

I believe that human genetic engineering (HGE) can benefit human kind in an endless number of ways including but not limited to :

*Increased lifespan *Decreasing disease *Making humans happier *Making humans stronger *Making humans smarter *Making humans better looking (Yes, even this can be done and is good)

I will let my opponent make the first actual argument and I will then, after my opponent has made their argument, go into much further detail on my own argument as well as addressing theirs. So, I leave it to any challenger to argue against my initial statements and my general argument.

Con, I await your response. :)

Increased lifespan-If HGE did increase human lifespan why would us as a society want that? Thousands of people are brain dead and have you ever heard of this?…

Making humans happier-I know many kids who are made fun of for being gay,black, Mormon etc.So if I was a clone (or altered) I am certain I would be made fun of way more than anyone else.Also kids have trouble when they are adopted, and can not find their family.If I was a clone, and I didn’t even have a family?I would have no real family and thus no reason to be happy.

Better looking- h…… One is real……

At first, since as everything is economic, the rich people would be the first to try and use HGH (as they use HRT today more commonly). How would we know it works? We would know that it would work through scientific testing, lab testing, finally human testing. Etc. It would be a long process. Eventually everyone would be able to afford it as technology improves.

The upper class having exclusive rights to these technologies would last a few decades at most. Perhaps less.

I do not support cruelty to animals, but animal testing happens and it can prove very beneficial to humanity. Would I sacrifice some animals for humanity getting smarter and better off in the long run? Sure. Why? Because, the smarter we get the more we will understand animals and, in the long run, treat them better…

Overpopulation is a problem today purely because we, as humans, aren’t smart enough to control ourselves and our reproductive abilities. We can’t manage ourselves. With increased intelligence, this would no longer be a problem. Science has proven that higher I.Q. and education leads to less children, and having children later.

Would a child be picked on for being altered? I can’t imagine how they would, since no one would even have to know. Moreover, in time, nearly everyone will have genetic alterations so it won’t matter. I, for one, do not believe that we should refrain from using genetic therapy to cure depression, make people happy, make them live longer, healthier, etc. all because there is some chance some one might be made fun of somewhere. It seems nonsensical to me.

I don’t know why you are bringing cloning into the issue. I never mentioned cloning.

So from what you said I really can not see how you do not support animal cruelty? Its better off in the “long run” for animals? Do you Eccedustin not understand an animal?That they are an organism just like US.Non human animals experience sensations just like we do. They too are strong,intelligent, and evolutionary. They to are capable of adaptation, and can not adapt in a cage just so they can be experimented on because we are to ignorant to solve our problems that WE created. Not them. How will pain and suffering benefit animals? The more HGE develops the more tests need to be done. Proving that more animals will be needed thus proving that “in the long run” is not true and you support animal cruelty. It seems you are a typical speciest willing to hurt anything just so you can “look better” I will be waiting for your stuck up response

Any technology that comes up will come up through the basic process of capitalism. If you look at technologies in the past, all of them were exclusively for the rich. This, however, does not last long. Cars, Computers, Refrigerators, etc. We’ve all got them now, even the lower class for the most part. The same would be true of Genetic engineering. The technology would, over time, become available to EVERYONE. So I do not believe that the argument is relevant or valid.

I understand and agree with you that animals, beside us humans, have feelings and emotions. That is not the issue here. The issue is that most animal cruelty is not the result of experiments from scientists but rather from ignorant people who abuse animals because they are to stupid to know any better. With increased intelligence, people will know about animals more and be empathetic towards them more. So, in the long run, it would greatly benefit animal kind.

If you look at it another way, Humans could easily become vegetarians with genetic engineering. Removing any possible side effects from purely Vegetarian diets (if there are any) would result in even less animal cruelty.

The thing about cars, computers, refrigerators, you can mass produce them. Can you train as many HGE surgeons as X-ray technicians in the next fifty years when we barely understand it right now? Logically lower class, non high school graduates can make cars, but not perform gene transplants. Which means that a whole new branch of schooling is going to be created just to support that. Chemo therapy can cost up to 30,000 dollars for just one session? Not many even lower upper class can afford that. Insurance wouldn’t even cover it like it does for most things.

Those ignorant people are the scientists. Please watch that video.

Do you want that happening just so you can look better? Just so that we can solve the problems WE created? I really have no idea what you are talking about when you say “increased intelligence about animals.” Native Americans or the first hieroglyphics were of animals. In ancient Mesopotamia they treated animals way better than we do now? Or the Native Americans doing ceremony’s for all the animals they killed? Did they not understand animals? Have we just become more ignorant? In your last statement you said “that animals, beside us humans, have feelings and emotions.” So that means animals are almost like us? Really I see no logic in “increasing our intelligence” will help us treat animals better. We will want more,build more, need more, kill more because we want to know how to make money!

Vegetarians live approximately seven years longer than people on a vegetarian diet. So no we would find ways to make meat better for us and thus eat more animals.

I think that HGH won’t require surgeons as much as a single injection in the future. We would be able to mass produce that as well, or better, as we can mass produce anti viruses, etc.

Historically ALL technology has become more available and cheaper as time goes by. Chemo therapy will beocme cheaper and more available in the future as well.

Your arguments are nonsensical. You say that because Genetic engineering might be excluded from the lower classes at first, it is a bad idea to produce it? That is equal to saying that because Cancer therapy will be excluded from the lower classes at first, we shouldn’t pursue it. It is a bad argument pure and simple.

Most of the genetic problems that exist today are not problems that “we created”. Aging, disease, death, all have always existed. Moreover, even if “we” are the problem then genetic engineering could be the solution to that as well since it could change who “we” are inherently.

Did the native Americans or Mesopotamians treat animals better than we do today? Of course not. Native Americans ate Dogs, horses, etc. commonly. And in no culture in the past did they ever have all of the laws protecting animals that we have today. How many animal rights laws did Mesopotamians have?

I argue that higher intelligence would equal better treatment of animals. I argue this because most of the animal abuse that we see today is done by uneducated ignorant people.

Certainly, there are examples of scientists mistreating animals. However, on average, Scientists are very careful to reduce suffering when they do experiments on animals.

I personally do not believe that animal testing should be done unless totally necessary.

Also, with a higher I.Q. we could easily find ways to “produce” meat without even killing animals. It is all possible, we just can’t do it yet.

I have searched the whole HGE databases and none of these places say that HGE would be single injection? Does altering your genotype into a new phenotype sound like an easy thing? That you could get at your local Walgreen’s, and walk out with a batman sticker?

No I think that things always start in the upper class, and work there way down like you have said numerous times. But, with HGE like I said it would create a bigger poverty gap. You said it would take a few decades to get to the middle class, well a generation is twenty five years. So three generations could pass before they had access to it while there richer peers look socially better, were smarter, so they could have a huggeeee advantage over the other classes. The rich would create bigger Corporatocracy’s thus creating more $20 an hour jobs for all the non-hge now grown up humans to have.

Do you think HGE would stop wars? Do you think that changing my phenotype will stop me and everyone from being greedy? Are you serious? That if some fat guy gets a new phenotype he will say “screw McDonalds, lets eat SALAD!”

I have taken an Native American culture class in college and we spent four weeks, yes… Four weeks talking about animals and spiritual dances, ceremony’s the would do for ONE bison? When was the last time you danced around and blessed, and ate every single piece of a whole animal? Nothing was wasting with them. Saying native Americans didn’t treat animals well? They treated them better because they cherished, and loved them like brothers.

1. My opponent continues to attack me, claiming I am an “elitist” and that I support cruelty to animals. Neither are true. I am not an elitist because I do not support elitism. Rather, it is true elitists will benefit short term from (ALL) technological advances, this is no argument against them. In the long term they will be available to us all. Also, animal experiments go on and will go on regardless. Should people supporting drug research be labeled as supporting animal cruelty?


2. I do not know how or when or in what form HGE will take. I am not a futurist. All I am arguing is that it will invariably be a good thing, in the long run.

3. It is absurd to claim that only rich people will receive genetic therapy. There will no doubt be funds for people with diseases to get it, etc. Also, I’m sure people would be more than willing to improve their entire genome if it involves taking out a loan or something. It would be an investment.

4. Yes, Our genes determine so many things including how we interact with other people. Aggression, intelligence, empathy, rational thinking, etc. Even non genetic factors would quickly be changed once genes are altered.

5. So the Native Americans danced around and worshiped the Bison. This doesn’t mean they didn’t kill it. And the Bison holds a special distinction in Native American culture, especially certain areas. They didn’t treat all animals like that either.

In summary, Genetic therapy would be a great thing for human kind. All of the bad things we humans have in us, aggression, stupidity, disease, illness, lack of empathy, etc. all have strong genetic components. Sure, Nurture has a lot to do with it but if we take care of the nature part then we are half way there. Moreover, If you closely examine them, all of Con’s arguments fall apart. Con is arguing AGAINST scientific progress for empty and pointless reasons.

2. Then how can you even debate on this topic or make a reference to that in a debate. You are just bull shitting apparently.

3. Yes like all those funds that help all the people with cancer. If those “funds” were exist there wouldn’t be people at home with stage four cancer when they could at least receive treatment.

4. So you are willing to go against nature (or god if you believe in a higher power) to be able to become more empathetic? Is that hard to love? Are you that big of a savage that you can’t control yourself or can’t learn things for yourself?

5. Yes, all animals that were killed were used fully. Of course if they killed a rat they didn’t dance around it but, they would use it all.

In summary pro has the more civil debate here. I understand that we all want to be perfect, but why not take the cards we were dealt, and succeed. Cheaters never prosper.

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Online Debate: Human genetic engineering is a good thing …

Pierre Teilhard De Chardin | Designer Children | Prometheism | Euvolution | Transhumanism