The Political Moral Battles of Now

Heading into this 2020 election - it has been an amazing year to be alive.  Not amazingly great per se.. Just - amazing!

It's the strong juxtaposition of the choices within the moral battles which continue in our culture that make it such an amazing thing to behold..  and few things could have exposed more cultural problems than the pandemic that we're experiencing now.  But it was inevitable some giant shock to the system would throw old and bad adages against the starkness of reality.  

Because what has held back our intellectual culture and prevented everything that is good and right from prevailing has been our current amoral metaphysics that allows those with nefarious means to promote immoral ideas.  Of course, this is especially true when discussing the structure of our political economy and the lust for power that goes with it.  Zephyr Teachout wrote about it best where she writes:

“For most of world history, we have understood that humans are political animals. The urge to socialize, to love, and to fight runs deep in us. What’s more, we are not laissez-faire in our socializing. We are creatures who concentrate and wield power to get what we want. It is a basic, universal human trait, like sexuality, or hunger, or compassion. It is the stuff of heroism, and, if it goes unchecked, of tyranny. We know this from Aristotle, Shakespeare, James Madison, Frederick Douglass, Hannah Arendt, and every James Bond and Marvel movie ever made. Tyrants have arisen in every age because the taste for power informs every human institution and resides in every human being; how we harness it is the question over which nations live or die.”    

Excerpt From: Zephyr Teachout. “Break 'Em Up: Recovering Our Freedom From Big Ag, Big Tech, and Big Money.”

So as the story goes, the founders of America keenly understood this power lust and feared the undemocratic power of the King too.  In response they created laws, regulations and a political system to prevent concentrations of power from ever abusing it.  

Of course, this battle didn't end there. Matthew Stoller in his book Goliath; beautifully outlines the last hundred years of the front lines of this ongoing political-economic battle between the social forces who prefer greed and power and the intellectual forces which prefer the fairness of openness, competition and Dynamic Quality.  Indeed we can use the language of the MOQ to give color and power to this battle in a way like nothing else can..

Because without any update or checks on the laws created by the founders,  these laws came to become less and less relevant with a culmination in concentrations of social level power around the time of WW1.   But here a few key politicians and intellectuals managed to fight back and instead used the power of government to reassert the dominance of intellectual values and Dynamic Quality over those strong social forces.

However just after WW2 the dominance of those competition promoting intellectual values began to wane once again and powerful social forces, using the scientific language of an amoral metaphysics, were able to begin to completely change the way we understood and talked about political economy.  Almost unwittingly, without a Metaphysics to protect the intellectual from corruption by the social,  around the 1970's our intellectual understanding of political economy had transformed entirely.  Our understanding of what it meant to be a citizen had gone from, one who is able to advocate for changes to the entire structure of democracy, into something far more narrow: a consumer.  If you didn't like something about some large monopolistic corporation -  'shop somewhere else!' With this change, and without a common sense Metaphysics to prevent it, behind the scenes, large unaccountable concentrations of social power were able to take control once again.

Indeed, these changes in language and understanding have survived mostly unchallenged.  As a result we now have two corrupted political parties and one in particular, the Democrats, who claim to represent fairness and equality, but will nevertheless frequently undercut it in the name of unaccountable concentrated social level power.  This has lead many, on both sides of the political spectrum to become increasingly cynical and skeptical about any worthwhile political changes from ever occurring.  It has also created the perfect environment for a fascistic leaning strongman to come along, and tell the screwed over working class folk that everything's going to be okay and that the intellectuals don't know what they hell they're talking about.

But he does even more than just comfort them -  he both satisfyingly pokes holes in the corrupted intellectual class yet also immorally undercuts intellectual values too.

Case in point: his attack on news as 'fake news' is the same as the Nazis used for Lügenpresse or Press of Lies.  Or perhaps most glaringly is his approach to something so coldly intellectual as a virus. Which was first to ignore it and then to downplay it and then do everything he possibly could to pretend it didn't exist.   Rather than stopping and valuing the intellectual understand of that biological thing which has taken and will continue to take hundreds of thousands of American lives.

For this reason, according to the MOQ, voting for the corrupt neoliberalism of Joe Biden is the moral choice for President rather than the strong-man Trump. Because faux intellectual is far better and more moral than faux dictator, and that's not just an opinion - that's Metaphysics.

Building a Rationally Moral Society

Can we use intellect to structure society and determine moral codes of behavior?

That goal's certainly been the dream of intellectuals since the 1920's.  They advocated using our intelligence rather than blind adherence to tradition to determine the best way to behave in society. As Pirsig notes in Lila:

The new intellectualism of the twenties argued that if there are principles for right social conduct they are to be discovered by social experiment to see what produces the greatest satisfaction... The scientific test of a 'vice' should not be, 'Does society approve or disapprove?' The test should be, 'Is it rational or irrational?'

For example, drinking that causes car accidents or loss of work or family problems is irrational. That kind of drinking is a vice. It does not contribute to the greatest satisfaction of the greatest number. On the other hand, drinking is not irrational when it produces mere social or intellectual relaxation. That kind of drinking is not a vice. The same test can be applied to gambling, swearing, lying, slandering or any other 'vice.' It is the intellectual aspect not the social aspect that dictates the answer...

It was expected that with the new application of reason, sex could be handled much like other commodities without the terrible tensions and frustrations of social repression exposed by Sigmund Freud.

But the unleashing of biology from its social level shackles has not proven to be as straight forward as the intellectuals had hoped.  Because our current intellectual culture and the metaphysics that supports it still has no way to intellectually determine what is both good and bad behavior - and so it has therefore been the product of both..

From the perspective of a subject-object science, the world is a completely purposeless, valueless place. There is no point in anything. Nothing is right and nothing is wrong. Everything just functions, like machinery. There is nothing morally wrong with being lazy, nothing morally wrong with lying, with theft, with suicide, with murder, with genocide. There is nothing morally wrong because there are no morals, just functions.

Now that intellect was in command of society for the first time in history, was this the intellectual pattern it was going to run society with?
As far as Phaedrus knew, that question has never been successfully answered.

Pirsig thought a solution to this would be to look back, beyond the Victorians, to the Puritans who saw the value in the vices for what they were aiming to achieve.

Drinking, dancing, sex, playing the fiddle, gambling, idleness: these are biological pleasures. Early Puritan morals were largely a suppression of biological quality..

What the Metaphysics of Quality concludes is that the old Puritan and Victorian social codes should not be followed blindly, but should not be attacked blindly either. They should be dusted off and re-examined, fairly and impartially, to see what they were trying to accomplish and what they actually did accomplish toward building a stronger society. We must understand that when a society undermines intellectual freedom for its own purposes it is absolutely morally bad, but when it represses biological freedom for its own purposes it is absolutely morally good.

So the difference in approach between the MOQ, the Victorians, and the reactionary 1920's intellectuals is teleological.  The latter two are simply about the extremes of maximization of satisfaction or the blind suppression of biological freedom. The MOQ is instead about focusing on which values build the strongest society.

Indeed, it is this nuanced appreciation for the evolutionary role of social values that makes the MOQ far superior to our current Subject-Object Metaphysics. Because it's with this distinction that we can appreciate the underlying value that did exist in the two misguided approaches that came before it.  That is, both the puritan value of creating a harmonious society through the suppression of destructive biological values as well as the intellectuals value of using the power of rationality to structure a moral society.  

The MOQ therefore, is not prudish. That is, it isn't blindly against biological values.  But it is strongly against uncontrolled biological values that create social decay.   The test for whether society should tolerate any biological behavior is how much social destruction it creates. With the MOQ we can uniquely shine a sharp light on this social values destruction in a vastly more powerful way than our current metaphysics.

I suppose the question then is, when will our intellectual culture see this beauty of the new metaphysics, and use it to make the world a better place?

Does the Metaphysics of Quality(MOQ) support those not wearing masks and instead support protesting against them? No, it doesn't. The great thing about the MOQ is that it's really simple and was created so just about anyone can understand it. The MOQ says that Human Rights are intellectual values which are separate to and distinct from biological and social values.  Society absolutely has control over what you do with your body when it comes to looking after society at large.

When the MOQ makes a clear distinction between intellectual and social values - it is pointing out the fundamental role that society has played in our evolution. This role has been to control, for its own benefit, our biological selves.  Often it involves giving our bodies things they need in order to protect them from other bad things such as starvation, disease and death.

With a pandemic knocking on our doors, society is well within its own rights to force people to physically wear a mask over their biological bodies and indeed, when it's available, to get vaccinated too.  This is not about intellectual Human Rights - it's about society protecting itself from a deadly threat.

So why is there such a strong but small vocal minority around the world pushing against wearing masks and also pushing to refuse vaccines?

As with the great majority of issues in the world we see around us today - first and foremost it's the result of a failed metaphysics.  Nefarious characters are justifying all sorts of bad and immoral things by exploiting the metaphysical failures generated by our current metaphysics. In this case a couple of failures come to mind..

For decades our current metaphysics has failed to morally protect social level values such as the social value of the working class and so there has been blow-back with a growing trend of anti-intellectualism.

For decades our current metaphysics has failed to support intellectual values against a media that has instead been driven by the social value of profit and the biological values of fear and titillation of the senses. Driven by access and power, the media has often seemed synonymous with power.

With such little intellectual accountability, the public is understandably growing distrustful and so here we are...  having debates about whether wearing a mask is a human right or those refusing to do so are selfish.  

The Metaphysics of Quality answers that they are being selfish, but with our current metaphysics and the failures of it over the past few decades  - their attitudes are entirely understandable.  It's time we adopted a new Metaphysics that beautifully and simply shows these error in thinking, and points us toward a better world.

It would be nice if there was a philosophy that reflected back some of the beauty of expression we experienced in the world.

These days - philosophy is seen of as mostly a crutch.  Especially modern day academic philosophers. Where's the new philosophies of the world that get folks excited? That impress them? That they can immediately appreciate?

After someone recently asked me if the philosophy I'm interested in is like that of Jordan Peterson and knowing there are a few others out there that have wondered the same thing.  I figured I might as well give something close to an official Metaphysics of Quality perspective here. Now having completed the below review - I am surprised at how beautifully the MOQ puts perspective on this debate and how quickly I was able to get a clear handle of the arguments on both sides.

Anyway - as is often the case with most post modern philosophy or whatever you'd like to call it - I often struggle to understand the ideas presented.  'Modern' philosophy or whatever you'd like to call it seems to me to be a bunch of intellectuals who are stuck in word games struggling within a bad metaphysics trying to describe something with words that don't easily match what they're trying to describe.  It seems as if they've been asked to define a pen but not be allowed to talk, in any way, about writing.  

Because of this, and Jordan Peterson's strange and apparently contradictory logic on the first video I watched - the easiest way for me to understand his ideas was by the above Youtube critique where he clearly lays out Peterson's definition of truth and that of some of his opponents.

Peterson defines truth as either:

Newtonian - Logical positivism (Materialistic)

Darwinian or Metaphorical - That which permits survival and reproduce. 'If it's true enough so that if you enact it out or hold it then it's true.'  And 'The ethical pursuit supersedes the scientific pursuit with regards to truth claim.' As well as 'The fundamentals of truth are those that guide action.'

The host (Stephen Woodford) objects to this for two reasons:

  1. It appears to allow for multiple truths to simultaneously exist
  2. It de-prioritizes the importance of 'objective' truth beyond our opinions of it.

And hello here we are with two problems the Metaphysics of Quality solves.  It's surprising but Peterson is actually correct in his definition but he is being limited by the metaphysics of his argument so is going to lose the argument.  

To be clear - the Metaphysics of Quality (MOQ) resolves the first objection by claiming that multiple truths can exist because it's not truth but Quality which is fundamental. There is one Quality that's the source of all things and there can be many truths.  Truth - defined as a high quality idea - can change depending on the situation and what's  pragmatically best at any time.  

The second objection is painfully stuck in a Subject-Object metaphysical (SOM) view of the world.

'If it's only Subjective then it can't be Objective'.
- Every modern day philosopher.

But what the MOQ makes clear is that man is the measure of all things. And that while he is indeed the subjective measure of all things - as Peterson alludes to - there is a moral thing called Quality that's beyond anyone's opinion of it - and is more real than anything else. Quality is experience itself.  But being stuck in SOM Peterson can't say that and so he's going to get stuck in word soup and accusations of being plainly a subjective idealist as he apparently did in a long interview with fellow interlocutor Sam Harris.

As an aside - what's interesting to me at this point however is that if he stuck with plain old idealism he might actually win that argument against the realists. Because the idea that a world exists 'out there' is indeed just that - an idea. We can say it's a very good idea from a MOQ perspective, and that's why it can indeed be true as well, but it's really an idea. But he doesn't want to stick to just idealism because he, as most people, appreciates the power of materialism and knows his argument will be weaker if that's the point he wants to make.  

So in conclusion, I'm surprised that, at least in regards to his conception of truth, the Metaphysics of Quality leans on the side of Jordan Peterson in this debate where he argues that truth is ethically tinged.   But the MOQ by no means wholly supports his ideas as they end up in contradictions and word soup due to a lack of metaphysical clarity. Therefore I agree with some reddit posters, as linked above, that suggest he checks out Lila by Robert Pirsig which contains the first description of the Metaphysics of Quality which would greatly improve the intellectual clarity of his ideas.