Thursday, February 02, 2006

Yes, Again with the Libertarianism

I had planned on taking Sarcastro to dinner, sitting in the back corner of some mostly empty restaurant, some place where I could ask him probing questions about libertarianism and study his face for flickers of fear or whatever, and throw butter knives at him until he answered. But I realized last night that such a plan would be ill-advised at best, because the dude can make himself utterly unreadable. You're sitting there, some topic comes up, you look over at him to see what his take is on it, he sees you looking to see what he thinks and--fwoosh (if fwoosh is a word)--his face goes utterly blank. He doesn't even give himself away with the corners of his eyes, the ways some folks do. Nothing*. So, dear readers, I'm turning to you. Here's what I want to know: 1. What do you think is the fundamental nature of human beings? I know this can be construed as a religious question, so religious answers are welcome, but will not be privileged--unless, of course, you work old Norse gods into your answer, then you are probably right. 2. Do you think the state has a right to coerce its citizens into behaving? If so, why doesn't the state have a right to coerce its citizens into behaving well? 3. Is the government an extension of the will of the people or something different? 4. What ties you to me? Do you have a vested interest in my well-being? Why? 5. What does it mean to govern? To be governed? Do we make a fundamental philosophical mistake when we lump together "leader" and "politician"? Or are those two things, for all practical purposes, the same thing? Ha, it just occurred to me that Sarcastro, if he's made it this far, is probably thanking his lucky stars I didn't try to force him answer these questions. Anyway, I'm just curious about what y'all think, especially the libertarians. And, in case it's necessary, let's all keep in mind the wise words of A.C. Kleinheider, the smartest person I know who's consistently wrong (though, not in this case):
Here at home we can afford to be a bit Utopian because, more or less, we are all friends here. There is margin for error and room to act a bit silly.
*This has also made me vow never to play poker with him. As you can imagine.

42 Comments:

Blogger HUCK said...

I'll opt out on answering until after the Libertarian wannabes get their shot at the questions.

...but first, I want to give a big Barbaric YAWP out to all my Norse homies out there in Asgard, yo!

Waz up, kin!

2/02/2006 08:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Sarcastro said...

I have to have more to drink to answer those questions.

2/02/2006 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

Oh, Huck, with the Whitman and the Norse reference. How can I not love you? You win.

Sarcastro, fair enough.

2/02/2006 09:04:00 AM  
Blogger cafiend said...

Good Lord! (Just a figure of speech). Those questions are The Fundamental Questions of Humanity. Troll every library, burrow in the blogsphere for a lifetime and you will not find it. I put my money on the Australian aborigines for the answer.

2/02/2006 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger bridgett said...

Hmm, pretty weighty stuff for such a pretty morning. I'll take a shot, though I am by no stretch a Libertarian (as will become obvious).

1) Human essence -- I'm a historian, so I'm professionally bound to reject the idea that there's a transhistorical, transcultural species-wide "nature." However, as elephants are all shades of grey and dogs all have teeth when they are in their prime, I think our species has some behavioral attributes. I would boil it down to a list of adjectives rather than verbs -- curious, adaptable, social, possessive, imaginative (what some people have labeled "foreknowledge of death," I think is a more expansive and useful feature, when we can imagine something different than what we are experiencing at the moment, which helps us to evaluate behavioral options and relate them to possible outcomes), retentative (possessed of the ability to remember), emotional, immediate/impatient (see also "foreknowledge of death"), leisure-preferring story-tellers.

2. I'm a Paine-ite at heart. Some people will do bad things to others (see possessive and impatient, resting at tension with social and sometimes resulting in violence) and so I concede the necessity to a limited compulsory power resting outside myself.

3. In blessed theory, government extends from the will of the people and politics is merely the long argument by which that will is made known. In practice, that may not have ever been the case. In industrial and post-industrial capitalist societies, that is certainly no longer the case.

4. Who else would I tell my stories to?

5. I'll have to think more about this one and get back to you. Someone else's turn to expose their wholly unsystematic personal beliefs about time, the universe and everything.

2/02/2006 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger cafiend said...

Life boils down to this:

1)We're all terminally ill.

2)We're all in this together, like it or not.

3)It can suck badly enough without anyone making extra efforts to make it suck more. So back off.

2/02/2006 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger Photopoppy said...

Unlike Huck, I'll jump in now before the Libertarian wannabes get their shot.

1. What do you think is the fundamental nature of human beings? I know this can be construed as a religious question, so religious answers are welcome, but will not be privileged--unless, of course, you work old Norse gods into your answer, then you are probably right.

I believe that there is a fundamental "human" which falls between good and evil. Fundamentally Human is imperfect, but means well. I think "means well" is probably the sum of my opinion there - heck, even Loki probably "meant well" in some sense when he killed Baldur... most of the trickster gods don't mean to cause havok, it's just plain fun!


2. Do you think the state has a right to coerce its citizens into behaving? If so, why doesn't the state have a right to coerce its citizens into behaving well?

I think *someone* has a right to coerce people into behaving well, because we are a community and community life means that everyone has to get along and refrain from anti-community type behaviors (i.e., your rights stop at my body and property) In order to function as a community, someone has to take responsibility for the communal well-being. And, IMHO, anyone who strongly believes that they have no obligation to support the community by behaving in community supported ways should ideally remove themselves voluntarily from that community and find another where their ways are the norm. If not voluntarily, than yes, it is acceptable for the community to remove them forcibly.

Do we need a "state" or a "government".... given my opinion above, I think we needed to create something with the power to regulate community behavior, it might as well be the state.


3. Is the government an extension of the will of the people or something different?

Both. Government ideally is an extension of the will of the people, in a perfect world. However, here on Earth, we do not have a perfect world, and there are minorities who need a voice that they will not get in a true "will of the people" state. It's government's job to be that voice. Not that most government actually performs this function currently - which is a whole 'nother story.

4. What ties you to me? Do you have a vested interest in my well-being? Why?

Some. I have an interest in your well-being because I think you're a wonderful writer and every time I talk to someone who says they don't know what to blog about, I point to you as someone who can manage to make walking the dog sound interesting.

I have an interest in your well-being on a more macro scale - I believe that we are all interconnected in various ways, and if you ceased to exist, it could set off a chain that would make my life more unpleasant. Plus, I do hold that a life being lived has value, and that the overall whole has lost something if you do not live your life.

5. What does it mean to govern? To be governed? Do we make a fundamental philosophical mistake when we lump together "leader" and "politician"? Or are those two things, for all practical purposes, the same thing?

I would say that "govern" == lead. Politics do not necessarily involve leadership... in fact, there are some politicians who are the opposite of leadership in their quest for personal power. I also think, though, that there are also some good politicians who get overlooked in the media rush to report on scandals.

2/02/2006 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Lee said...

Well, let's get old school here. Hobbes said that without a controlling Leviathan-type group, life would be nasty, short and brutish.

This is because man is short of perfect, and never will be perfect.

John Locke, who wrote that government protects 'life, liberty, and ownership of property' [insert indignation over Kelo decision here] said that people gather into governments, and surrender some of their freedoms, so that others may be protected, and that revolution may be justified if the government breaks that social contract.

Am I simply recycling things that dead white males said hundreds of years ago? Yes.

Because they were right.

And Rousseau and his idea of a noble savage was an idiot.

2/02/2006 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger Mr. Mack said...

(bracing for certain ridicule) I haven't given enough thought to all of the questions, but if I may cherry pick on just one... You asked in what way we are connected. To at least slow the onset of carpal tunnel, I'm going to heavily condense it. A higher intelligence, (insert name here) at some point decided to experience itself, and the process by which it came to be. So, it sort of blew itself up into billions of little pieces, all part of the whole, and each piece carried with it a piece of the puzzle. How else could a magnificent being experience itself? Knowing that eventually all the pieces would "rejoin" or as one of my favorite writers puts it, "re-member" the purpose here is to simply experience . Appreciating the light is impossible without the counter experience of darkness, for instance. Doesn't ultimately matter what choices we make, the end result is the same. However, the speed by which the pieces rejoin may be affected by those choices. So, what I am saying is that you, and I are the same, just different enough to maintain the illusion of seperateness. (yikes, I imagine some readers banging thier heads on their desks.) Anyway, I think (I'll use God for now) God isn't the same as you and me, God IS you and me. My connection to you is the same as my connection to my own arm. Your well-being is essential to my own. I'll leave it there...

2/02/2006 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger HUCK said...

1. What do you think is the fundamental nature of human beings? I know this can be construed as a religious question, so religious answers are welcome, but will not be privileged--unless, of course, you work old Norse gods into your answer, then you are probably right.

In this world*: To take care of themselves and the people and things they care about. To survive. It’s a Randian ideology, I know, but I think when it’s all cut and dried, it probably works out to be true.
*I will say no more about that.

2. Do you think the state has a right to coerce its citizens into behaving? If so, why doesn't the state have a right to coerce its citizens into behaving well?

NO!

3. Is the government an extension of the will of the people or something different?

It should be, but it’s not. It's a perversion.

4. What ties you to me? Do you have a vested interest in my well-being? Why?

Ultimately, selfish interest. However, that interest is programmed via evolution into mental survival mechanisms and promoted as social empathy. We love and care for one another, ultimately, because we need to, to survive.

OK, here it is. Most of what we call Love is more or less a byproduct of the Mother/Child relationship. We, as a species, have used this bond to reinforce other aspects of our intersocioeconomic relationships. Our complex social systems demand that we empathize and learn and teach others to promote a more stable society. We as a species have lost our fur and our claws and our teeth, now all we have is our brains and eachother.

So, yes, I do have a vested interest in the well-being of others.

5. What does it mean to govern? To be governed? Do we make a fundamental philosophical mistake when we lump together "leader" and "politician"? Or are those two things, for all practical purposes, the same thing?

To govern is to do as you’re told. To be governed is to act responsibly. Yes, leaders lead on behalf of others and politicians are little more than slaves to their own sales ambitions.

Call me a Libertarian if you want, but I’m still voting Democrat.

2/02/2006 10:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Sarcastro said...

Libertarian wannabe.

2/02/2006 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger HUCK said...

Yes. But until there is a viable "Libertarian" party. I'm a Dem.

2/02/2006 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger Kat Coble said...

I'll offer the least popular answers on record, but I'm used to that.

1. What do you think is the fundamental nature of human beings?

To be self-driven, self-directed and self-concerned.

2. Do you think the state has a right to coerce its citizens into behaving? 3. Is the government an extension of the will of the people or something different?

I believe that governmental systems are formed as Gentlemen's agreements. In short, people elect to participate in a society to gain mutual benefits, chief among them protection from harm.

If you participate in the society and enjoy the fruits of the common, you are beholden to the will of the common and its codes of behaviour. I don't see enforcement of the codes of behaviour (at their root level) to be coercion. I see it as an extension of the very libertarian principle of free exchange. If you want to drive on the roads and be protected by the army, you better not rob a liquor store.

4. What ties you to me? Do you have a vested interest in my well-being? Why?

Nothing ties me to you. I have no vested interest in your well-being unless I have entered into a familial contract with you. If I marry you, give birth to you or engage in business dealings with you then we are obviously tied to one another.

5. What does it mean to govern?

To oversee the pooled resources of those who have voluntarily enjoined in the societal construct.

To be governed?

To willingly submit to the chosen societal construct. In our country that would be by voting and upholding the law. In many cases it also requires that we act to change the law if we feel it has violated the basic precepts of the societal agreement. (The War on Drugs, for instance.)


Do we make a fundamental philosophical mistake when we lump together "leader" and "politician"? Or are those two things, for all practical purposes, the same thing?

Leader is the end result of politician, or should be, ideally. It isn't turning out that way.

Those of us (Me, Glen, Blake, Pink Kitty) who are Christian Libertarians are so because our first allegiance is to the God and precepts of Christianity. Our calls to serve our fellow man come not from the governance of the world but from our faith. Services rendered to our fellow man are not so done because of our ties to them but because of the inherent nature of service to God. We love God because He loved us and we show that love in the same way he showed Grace to us--by doing service for others regardless of our ties to them.

2/02/2006 10:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Amanda said...

It's like another long boring semester of political theory in the course of one blog post!

In that spirit, I will add two quotes from Dr Hall on the topic of libertarianism:
"Libertarians are just people too wussy for anarchy"
"Libertarians are just gay Republicans"

Okay, maybe that class wasn't *so* boring.

2/02/2006 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger Exador said...

I have nothing to add to Kat's post except to point out that government's grew out of a tribal structure beginning, which is essentially, "You watch my back, and I'll watch yours".
Having gained strength in numbers, the stronger group agrees to laws as a perceived self protection of the members of that group. This does not make those rules noble or even correct; they are simply a consensus, hence, the war on drugs, and I can't buy beer on Sunday.

Other than that, "What she said"

2/02/2006 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

Amanda, I appreciate your criticism, as you rip out my heart and dance on it for all to see. I just have one question for you. Don't you know it's bad luck to dance the tarantella by yourself?

2/02/2006 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger bridgett said...

Um, not to be a killjoy on the whole political theory thing, but we lack ever so much concrete knowledge about the so-called "original contract" to which Katherine and Exador refer. As much as we can all theorize what happened in that Hobbesian woods (and, may I just wonder what the hell all the women were doing while the menfolk were jacking around in the forest? And why forest? Isn't it much more likely that it was the plains of Africa?...), the empirical reality is a lot LOT harder to nail down and collective rule appears to have developed differently in different parts of the world. Just so we're clear on what's social fiction/theory descending from Europeans imagining their own way-back and what's supported in the global archaeological record.

Like I said. Humans. Story-tellers.

2/02/2006 12:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Sarcastro said...

She's not dancing by herself.
Apparently, Dr. Hall is drinking a glass of water while she appears to talk.

2/02/2006 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger Church Secretary said...

1. What do you think is the fundamental nature of human beings?

We are recalcitrant, terminally bratty children of God; we are also gleefully self-destructive wards of the Devil. (Supply your own definitions of "God" and "Devil.")

2. Do you think the state has a right to coerce its citizens into behaving? If so, why doesn't the state have a right to coerce its citizens into behaving well?

3. Is the government an extension of the will of the people or something different?


These three questions are inseparable. If the government is an extension of the people's will, then the answer to the first question is "yes." However, who are "the people"? Given that they are all wildly disparate individuals, it is completely illogical to assume any definitive common "will" that can be quantified and codified. This becomes more true as the population of a nation expands.

This begs the question, then, of whose "will" is being enforced by the state, how, and why. This leads straight to question 5, Aunt B.:

What does it mean to govern? To be governed?

I think the desire to be governed by others comes from our propensity to seek cheap substitutes for the guidance of our creator. Ambition, especially as manifested in the desire to control the lives of others, is the true Original Sin. To be ambitious is to compete with God.

That's why governments always commit the greatest crimes: they are run by individuals who-- regardless of political affiliation or philosophy-- are usually attempting to play God. In the course of these attempts, they invariably demonstrate their fealty to the Devil.

4. What ties you to me? Do you have a vested interest in my well-being? Why?

If I believed we accidentally developed from nothingness into the wonderfully flawed living beings that we are, I might answer "nothing at all, except for basic physical necessity."

However, why is there any physical necessity in the first place? If evolution were so dang smart, why didn't we accidentally become self-contained beings who didn't have any desire or need to copulate in order to procreate? And why are there so many individuals who have the built-in desire to copulate without any biological ability to reproduce?

I think we were designed to want and need each other socially and physically. How that was all originally intended to play out, I have no frickin idea. I've a hunch that we've departed from The Manufacturer's s.o.p's, though. How else do you explain serial killers, racism, child abuse, and Fox News?

2/02/2006 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger HUCK said...

However, why is there any physical necessity in the first place?

Because we are physical beings.

If evolution were so dang smart, why didn't we accidentally become self-contained beings who didn't have any desire or need to copulate in order to procreate?

First off, evolution isn’t smart, it’s a process, there is no intelligent design to the process.
Second, one of the reasons we did evolve in the first place is due to sexual reproduction. So you’re placing the cart before the horse, or the egg before the funky chicken, rather.

And why are there so many individuals who have the built-in desire to copulate without any biological ability to reproduce?

Because more than one trait is related to sexual reproduction. In fact all biological traits are related to sexual reproduction, if you think about it. Reproduction and the passing of genes is the name of the game.

How else do you explain serial killers, racism, child abuse, and Fox News?

All chinks in the big chain.

2/02/2006 01:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Sarcastro said...

Leave the Chinese out of this, Huck.

2/02/2006 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger HUCK said...

Now that's just wrong.

It's funny...

But, but that's just wrong.

2/02/2006 01:55:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

All right, then, you libertarians, Coble says "If you participate in the society and enjoy the fruits of the common, you are beholden to the will of the common and its codes of behaviour." but then also says "Nothing ties me to you. I have no vested interest in your well-being unless I have entered into a familial contract with you."

But aren't those two different things? How can you both participate in society and have no ties to the other members of that society?

2/02/2006 02:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Sarcastro said...

In this country, as in most, we are bound together as a nation of individuals. We share the same concerns of national security, the maintaining of order and the swift application of justice.

But just because we have that in common, should I have to pay for your healthcare?

2/02/2006 02:43:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

But how do you know that we're individuals? What, exactly, do you mean by that?

2/02/2006 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger HUCK said...

Yes, Sar, you in particular should. Especially since you're so damn old you won't be needing yours much longer.

2/02/2006 02:53:00 PM  
Anonymous lavenderturtle said...

Obscure grrll's take. No way, no how am i a dang libertarian. More like a greenie, duck and cover! I do vote the dem ticket, though. (sadly, it is a not so difficult choice between dumb and dumber!)

1)Fundamental nature of human beings:

We all have simple needs which we seek to meet. (Maslov's hierarchy)

Most of us have dreams, ambitions, loved ones, blankets, favorite foods, people we'd rather be with,
some activites we enjoy and some we detest.

We all have light and dark aspects. Oh, and i don't belive that you could possibly experience lightness without darkness. How would you know the difference without the contrast???

NAMASTE (short version: that place of divinity within me recognizes that place of divinity within you) is the ideal.

So not, however, always possible in human interactions. Of this i am aware.

2) State coercion:

I see the state as having no right over individual actions.
Stealing of retail items is illegal. When i was homeless and hungry that never stopped me from loading my pockets with food in 7-11.

There is really no concrete coercion, other than the threat of punishment and the disapproval of society. Which is not coercion, more like dissuation.

3)gov'mt extension of will of people.

Pardon me whilst i get back on my chair, i fell off from laughing too hard.

NO!

It was, in the ideal, supposed to be. I believe that it was Thomas Jefferson who said we should overthrow the government every 100 years to keep it from becoming, well, what it is today.

(checks watch) We are a little late.

4)ties/vested interest/why?

Yes, i am a hippie freak if you haven't guessed yet. Also a cosmic monkey.

Why do i feel we are all connected? i hurt when i see someone cry, even strangers.

i give too much money to street people.

Why? Because i care. i am filled to overflowing with love for the beautiful, the mundane, sadness, happiness, everything.

Ok, here's the viewpoint.
Read any physics?
Every bit of matter in our universe: humankind, animals, stars, trash, dust, excrement;

is all made of the same atomic structure.

What forms you also forms the dancing stars and that pile of dog doo you stepped in last week.

Sounds strange, but to me is totally liberating and exciting.

So we are all inherent structures of the universe. That implies connection, in my deviant mind.

Also note universe? Starts with uni? That prefix meaning...

5) govern
be governed
leader/politician debate

To govern is to regulate, control, determine, decide.

Therefore to be governed is to subject yourself to these regulations, controls, etc.

Honestly, is any one of us truly completely governed? Aren't there rules which all of us deliberately choose not to follow?

Do you speed on the way to work?
Use your tongue on your wife/husband once in a while?
You may be just as dang subversive as i am!
In totally different ways, everyone sheds their submission to government once in a while.
How could they not, when our amerikan life is regulated to the eyeteeth!

No, a leader is not a politician.
A politician in our current society is a tool of commerce.
Not how it should be, how it is.

Thank you so much for your questions which made me think
Deep Thoughts, yeah, like the blonde female Jack Handy.
And, it was amazing to read everyone's responses.

2/02/2006 02:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Sarcastro said...

Do you have vanishing twin syndrome or an underdeveloped fetus that goes to law school at night?

If not, you are an individual.

2/02/2006 03:00:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

I'm not sure I buy that--that defining "individual" is that easy. Because y'all seem to use that word to mean a human being complete in his own self, with no ties but the ones he forges to connect him with anyone.

Or do I misunderstand?

2/02/2006 03:01:00 PM  
Blogger Exador said...

Yes B, you are beholden to obey the laws of that society or risk punishment from that society.

That's why I'm stuck paying taxes for things I don't agree with.

My only recourse is to try to change those laws, i.e., convince society to change its law.

2/02/2006 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger Kat Coble said...

Coble says "If you participate in the society and enjoy the fruits of the common, you are beholden to the will of the common and its codes of behaviour." but then also says "Nothing ties me to you. I have no vested interest in your well-being unless I have entered into a familial contract with you."

But aren't those two different things? How can you both participate in society and have no ties to the other members of that society?


No. I believe in limited free association. I pay taxes and don't beat my dogs and don't rob liquor stores. That engenders me a right to have roads to drive on and an army to protect me.

Just because we both pay taxes doesn't mean that I have automatically consented to be beholden to you in a familial (cymru) sense. It means you get to drive on the road and I get to drive on the road and the soldiers protect us both.

It doesn't mean that you "deserve" to have all of your needs from the base to the top of Mazlow's Hierarchy underwritten by me.

It's like the difference between a Neighborhood Watch Program and a Nanny State.

Don't get me started on Flat Tax.

2/02/2006 03:27:00 PM  
Blogger Church Secretary said...

However, why is there any physical necessity in the first place?

Because we are physical beings.


I'm sorry, I'm not sure if you were making a funny. I certainly hope so; otherwise, you just gave a response akin to a parent telling a child "Because." In other words, a non-answer. A chunk of slate is a physical being, but it does not go out cruising other chunks of slate on Friday night.

First off, evolution isn’t smart, it’s a process, there is no intelligent design to the process

I'll say. I've never had a string of accidents turn out so well for me. I guess the random cosmos has much better luck with its accidents.

Anyway, I don't subscribe to any specific theory of creation. I do, however, have a theory about the evolution of the theory of evolution. With apologies to Helen Ellerbe, I believe orthodox, organized religion did such a great job of turning humans away from their spirituality, and from the very concept of a benevolent higher power, that the result of their cynical excess was the spiritual alienation of much of the species.

Instead of continuing to kowtow to the bastards in vestment, many thinkers decided it was easier to declare that there is no God. When what you really want to do is grab and kill, and you don't want to have to pay off God's middlemen for the privilege, it's much simpler to declare yourself your own moral authority. Top of the heap. Smartest ape. Most sophisticated accident.

2/02/2006 03:28:00 PM  
Blogger HUCK said...

I assumed that the answer was so obvious, that I wouldn't have to spell it out for you.

This universe we live in abides by physical laws. We, being a part of this universe, also abide by those laws. Thereby, we too are physical beings. We need physical things, because we are physical.
eg. as all lifeforms on this planet need a source of carbon to survive.

If your going to take on evolution you'll have to bring the physical to the table and leave the meta stuff at the church. There's nothing spiritual about evolution.

Sorry,
My argument is completely outside of the metaphysical realm. I'm not touching the metaphysical, because I don't understand why people buy into it.

See this tug o' war we've got going here is doomed from the start. We are both aproaching it from alterate planes of understanding.

2/02/2006 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

But, Huck, at heart, I think you bring up an interesting problem, in that so much of what we assume is self-evident, even as far as what our relationship to the universe and each other is, is actually not self-evident.

And it then becomes very easy for well-meaning people to talk right past each other.

Even reading these comments, I'm struck by the wide variety of responses that are irreconcilable.

I mean, I'm not trying to be obtuse, I really think I have only a cursory notion of what some folks mean by individual and I think I use the word to mean something very different and yet, when we read that word, we all think it means what we think it means.

Rats on language; it always fails us when we need it most.

2/02/2006 04:28:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

Oh, y'all, I just realized that admitting that makes me really depressed.

2/02/2006 04:38:00 PM  
Blogger Kat Coble said...

Operational Definitions: They'll save your life in a logical debate. But I've seen debates rise and fall on the agreement for the Operational Definition.

2/02/2006 05:09:00 PM  
Blogger Church Secretary said...

This universe we live in abides by physical laws.

Laws that were written by, um, accident?

I'm cool with scientific exploration and quantification of the observable universe; but when it comes to explaining origins, evolutionary theory is as sound as the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

The physical and the metaphysical are inexorably linked. Attempting to embrace one while ignoring the other is a fool's errand. A good scientist and a good spiritualist share the same humility, I reckon: they both know they don't have all the answers. I'm with Aunt B. on this point:

so much of what we assume is self-evident, even as far as what our relationship to the universe and each other is, is actually not self-evident.

It takes a comical level of arrogance to believe that what we're staring at in each other's mugs is the height of sentient existence.

2/02/2006 07:17:00 PM  
Blogger Kat Coble said...

The physical and the metaphysical are inexorably linked.

So says you, so says me, so says Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Einstein.

But for some reason I've yet to fully grasp, Huck isn't on board with this way of thinking.

2/02/2006 08:01:00 PM  
Blogger HUCK said...

Check the asterisk I posted at 10:14 AM yesterday.

There is so very little you know in regards to what I'm on board with.


...and as for this:
but when it comes to explaining origins, evolutionary theory is as sound as the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Sir, I can no longer take you seriously.

2/03/2006 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger Church Secretary said...

I can no longer take you seriously.

Is it because I don't believe in the "Big Bang"? But I do! Wait: here comes one now.... Ahhh, now I feel better. But I have to leave the room for a while.

2/03/2006 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Church Secretary,
I did get a chuckle out of your joke, but evolutionary theory does not attempt to explain the origins of the universe, or the Big Bang. It describes what happens to life forms in response to circumstances.

2/03/2006 01:14:00 PM  
Blogger Sam Chevre said...

Well, I’m a fairly libertarian Christian, so here are my answers. These are hard questions. I would recommend Bastiat, a French philosopher from the early 1800’s (bastiat.org), as the best explainer of liberal/libertarian ideas.

What do you think is the fundamental nature of human beings?
Made in God’s image, but broken. That’s what the Fall is about. What that means in concrete terms is: we’re creative, and delight in making, and in the things we’ve made, like God—but we’re also broken, and can desire what isn’t ours to have, and harm others for pleasure or because we want what is theirs.

Do you think the state has a right to coerce its citizens into behaving? If so, why doesn't the state have a right to coerce its citizens into behaving well?
The state has a limited right to coerce its citizens into behaving, derived from our right as individuals to coerce others into behaving. I may coerce you into not hitting me, but not into avoiding alcohol. Since there are people stronger than me, we all got together this thing called the state—but it doesn’t have any right to do things that wouldn’t be right for us to do each on our own.

Is the government an extension of the will of the people or something different?
The government isn’t an extension of the will of the people (in fact—it may be a dictatorship—or in principle); in principle, it should be an enforcer of the rights of the people (as distinct from their will). I may want something I have not right to (I want you not to get drunk); even if everybody but you wants that, we haven’t any right to force you not to drink.

What ties you to me? Do you have a vested interest in my well-being? Why?
Well, Tiny Cat Pants ties me to you, because I love reading it. I should honor you, and treat you well, because you are a person (“…all humans, being made in the image of God, are to be honored and valued…”)—but I have no right to force you to do anything for me other than not actively harm me, and the converse is also true. I'm a fellow-person, not a slave; you have no right to my services.

What does it mean to govern? To be governed? Do we make a fundamental philosophical mistake when we lump together "leader" and "politician"? Or are those two things, for all practical purposes, the same thing?

To govern is to control something—to keep it working correctly; we should govern ourselves, rather than relying on others to govern us—but some people will either deliberately or carelessly not do so, and so there’s a need for government external to the person.

A leader goes in the right direction and figures out how to get (some) people to follow him; a politician figures out where the most people are going and gets out in front.

2/04/2006 10:53:00 AM  

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