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On Truth & Reality
The Wave Structure of Matter (WSM) in Space
by nature man is a political animal. (Aristotle. Politics, 340 BC)
There is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, more dangerous to manage than the creation of a new system. The innovator has the enmity of all who profit by the preservation of the old system and only lukewarm defenders by those who would gain by the new system. (Machiavelli. 1513)
And though the philosopher may live remote from business, the genius of philosophy, if carefully cultivated by several, must gradually diffuse itself throughout the whole society, and bestow a similar correctness on every art and calling. (David Hume. 1737)
All of us who are concerned for peace and triumph of reason and justice must be keenly aware how small an influence reason and honest good will exert upon events in the political field.
(Albert Einstein. 1954)
If we are to improve human societies (which has become an urgent problem) we must consider the forces that determine their evolution. And four of the most significant factors are market economics, politics, education (the knowledge foundations of the people) and Nature. Here I will consider economics and politics together. Education and Nature are treated separately.
The central point is that the best human society (utopia) will necessarily be founded on truth and reality. Most profoundly, we can now deduce what reality is. thus for the first time in human history this 'utopian' ideal becomes possible.
Firstly, although people like to use the term democracy to describe our western governments the truth is that they are not really democratic. The political system is actually a complex mix of ruler (president / prime minister), oligarchy (ministers / senators, academic policy advisers, government bureaucrats and large corporations), and the masses (democracy). There is clearly an interplay of all three groups that ultimately determines policy.
So the ruler has limited powers and is influenced by an oligarchy of advisers who jointly try to manipulate the masses with political spin - but they also have to get votes so they do poll the masses and this affects their policies.
Now there are obviously good and bad things about this system. It is significantly better than most dictatorships as the masses do have some influence in limiting the power of the ruler / oligarchy.
Plato and Aristotle believed that a benevolent 'dictator / king' was probably the best form of government. But benevolent dictators are rare, and power tends to corrupt rulers so it is not without risk. Nepotism is also a problem with this system, causing the quality of the ruler to decline over time.
However, the central problem is that truth and reality are not significant factors in the current system. So I think the solution is not to try and change the system, but to change the knowledge foundations within the existing system such that truth and reality become the central factors in determining government policy. As Plato wrote;
"(Democracy is) an agreeably anarchic form of society, with plenty of variety, which treats all men as equal, whether they are equal or not." (Plato, Republic).
The society we have described can never grow into a reality or see the light of day, and there will be no end to the troubles of states, or indeed, my dear Glaucon, of humanity itself, till philosophers are kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands, while the many natures now content to follow either to the exclusion of the other are forcibly debarred from doing so. This is what I have hesitated to say so long, knowing what a paradox it would sound; for it is not easy to see that there is no other road to happiness, either for society or the individual. (Plato. Republic)
Unfortunately, because of a failure of philosophy / metaphysics to understand what is ultimately true (i.e. to understand reality as the source of truth) we live in a time of relative cultural truths that leads to many conflicts and causes humanity great harm. This allows societies to be manipulated by our more primitive emotions (rather than reason / truth) as Julius Caesar observed (and which is very relevant to our modern world).
Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar. (Julius Caesar )
Firstly, I realize how wonderfully efficient the free market is, with competition, reward for effort and creative / inventive talents, and the benefit of exchanging goods and services (with money as a common tool) all over the world.
Although I live simply in a small cottage in the bush, in many ways I live like a prince - I eat dark chocolate (73% cocoa which is very healthy), drink red wine (also very healthy) and beer (some imported), consume fruits and nuts and vegetables that originated in all parts of the world. I work my own hours, have a nice computer and car and phone / internet setup, a library full of books, solar panels and batteries and inverter for our own power supply, etc. All this came from a market economic system.
Albert Einstein (I am a big fan of his) writes well on this (he was a socialist and I share many of his views on society).
When we survey our lives and endeavours, we soon observe that almost the whole of our actions and desires is bound up with the existence of other human beings. We notice that our whole nature resembles that of the social animals. We eat food that others have produced, wear clothes that others have made, live in houses that others have built. The greater part of our knowledge and beliefs has been communicated to us by other people through the medium of a language which others have created. Without language our mental capacities would be poor indeed, comparable to those of the higher animals; we have, therefore, to admit that we owe our principal advantage over the beasts to the fact of living in human society. The individual, if left alone from birth, would remain primitive and beastlike in his thoughts and feelings to a degree that we can hardly conceive. (Albert Einstein, 1934)
However there is also a substantial downside to market economics. I mention five problems, no doubt there are many others.
i) Market economics selects for SHORT TERM PROFIT and OVERCONSUMPTION - not what is good for humans. This is a critical problem - the cause of the financial collapse, the cause of the destruction of Nature and the pollution of our environment.
ii) It does not correctly value Nature as a limited resource - nor does it take seriously the problems of pollution of air, food and water - by products of the production and distribution of goods and services.
iii) It encourages great inequality between first world and third world, rich and poor (though it is true that it also builds a large well off middle class, as 300 million Indians would testify to).
iv) It is not naturally moral as it encourages selfish competition rather than altruistic cooperation.
v) Over time an oligarchy of several global corporations buy up / out compete their competitors and then are able to control the market and artificially manipulate the price. This is clearly the case for pharmaceuticals, and in Australia two retail corporations control 80% of the market for food / retail stores.
It is only a slight exaggeration to say that mankind constitutes even now a planetary community of production and consumption. I have now reached the point where I may indicate briefly what to me constitutes the essence of the crisis in our time. It concerns the relationship of the individual to society. The individual has become more conscious than ever of his dependence upon society. But he does not experience this dependence as a positive asset, as an organic tie, as a protective force, but rather as a threat to his natural rights, or even to his economic existence. Moreover, his position in society is such that the egotistical drives of his make-up are constantly being accentuated, while his social drives, which are by nature weaker, progressively deteriorate. All human beings, whatever their position in society, are suffering from this process of deterioration. Unknowingly prisoners of their own egotism, they feel insecure, lonely, and deprived of the naive, simple and unsophisticated enjoyment of life. Man can find meaning in life, short and perilous as it is, only through devoting himself to society. The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of evil. (Albert Einstein, 1949)
My point in all this is that the market must be governed by principles that force it to do what is good for humans, while also allowing it to survive as viable businesses. Obviously the failure of Communism was to try to completely control / regulate the market which is exceedingly inefficient given their complexity, and in giving control to a ruling class, was fraught with corruption (humans are selfish).
And as a philosopher it is obvious that truth must found these principles, and this relies on a correct understanding of the world around us. i.e. The physical existence of earth, Nature, and the goods and services we create from this physical reality. And from this website it is also clear that truth and reality are critical foundations for humans to think and act wisely.
I think most philosophers (and most people) would agree with this - the disagreement comes from our (mis) conceptions of truth and reality - which I am convinced have now been solved.
It is clearly true that less government regulation of the market equates to a more efficient production and distribution of goods and services. Thus many economists have argued over the past century that we should de-regulate industries and allow market forces to determine things (the 'free market', though in reality all countries regulate their markets to some degree for self interest).
The problems with this 'free market' approach are listed above - basically the market will select for profit rather than what is good for people / society. And we now see the consequences of this with the destruction of Nature, pollution, overpopulation, etc.
Limited market regulation that is based on truth and reality - and thus has a certain wisdom in the regulation. The general principle is to regulate the market in such a way that harmful goods and services are disadvantaged, beneficial goods and services are encouraged.
A simple example.
All polluting energy sources have a small penalty tax applied to them, all non polluting energy sources have a small tax incentive (similar to carbon trading). This is just one of many examples. The point being that we can evolve the market slowly to do things that are good for us, while also respecting that the market is very complex and over-regulation will cause it and us harm!
And you will find over time that while some markets will decreases in size, with resultant job losses - other markets (that are good for us) will grow in size and create more jobs.
Mankind has tried the other two roads to peace - the road of political jealousy and the road of religious bigotry - and found them both equally misleading. Perhaps it will now try the third, the road of scientific truth, the only road on which the passenger is not deceived. Science does not, ostrich-like, bury its head amidst perils and difficulties. It tries to see everything exactly as everything is. (Professor Garrett P. Serviss)
Utopia is a term that is greeted with skepticism by most people as being a naive and impossible ideal. Clearly though it depends on how this concept is defined. So I shall define Utopia as the organization of society founded on truth and reality (which is really the meaning of the above quotes from Plato and Serviss).
Thus it is not claiming to be a perfect system, just one that is better than our current system because it accepts the physical reality that we exist here on Earth as an animal that evolved from Nature, and at a most fundamental level of reality, as matter which is interconnected to all other matter in the universe.
As a consequence of this there are clear limitations to the things we can do on Earth if we plan on surviving for any length of time (which is now problematic given the massive destruction of Nature. pollution, climate change. there are many problems!)
The conclusion. Politics and market economics must be founded on true knowledge of reality if we are to continue to survive on our beautiful planet Earth - the source of all goods and services necessary for our future existence!
'And I think that you too would call it propaganda when people are enticed into a change of opinion by promises of pleasure, or terrified into it by threats?'
'Yes, propaganda and deceit always go together.' (Plato, Republic )
Political Party / Policies - I will be working on this over several years. It is clear that the current system is deeply flawed, the aim is to regulate it with a small number of general principles that force the political and market economic forces to do what is good for humans / life on earth.
Letter to Philosophers - This essay was written in May 2008 to an academic philosophy mailing list I am on - the reply related to 4 different posts dating back several years.
1. Science vs. "Science". i.e. Science founded on real things which do physically exist, vs. "science" founded on imaginary things that only exist in our mind (realism vs. postmodern relativism / logical positivism).
2. Why philosophy (philosophers) contribute so little to modern society given that our world faces many problems and philosophy is meant to help humanity think and act more wisely.
3. The Relationship between Matter, Mind and Space.
4. Causality, Locality and Non-Locality in Physics.
It is a little long (for the internet!), but well considered, and its subject matter of truth, reality and a wiser human society is clearly central to philosophy. If we are to solve these problems then obviously you need to know what physical reality is. The essay shows that if you describe reality most simply. then you find that there is only one solution, a Wave Structure of Matter in Space.
Political Philosophy - On politics, political science and globalization. Quotes from Plato, Aristotle, Marcus Aurelius, Niccolo Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, Michel de Montaigne, David Hume, Friedrich Nietzsche, Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, Bertrand Russell, Albert Einstein.
Marx, Karl & Engels, Frederick - Motion (of Workers and Capital) as the Philosophical Foundations of Marx and Engels 'Das Capital'.
Philosophy: Economics - Controlling the Evolution of Market Economics for the Benefit of both Humanity and Nature (and thus our future survival). Truth, Reality and Nature (Wave Structure of Matter) as Market Economic Forces. Globalization. as Ecology of Economics.
Philosophy: Education - Plato, Michel de Montaigne, Albert Einstein and Jean Jacques Rousseau on Philosophy of Education, both for the Individual and their Responsibility to Society. On True Knowledge of Reality as Necessary for Education of Critical Thinking.
Aristotle - On Philosopher Aristotle's Metaphysics and Physics (Motion). (Aristotle was one of the greatest of the famous philosophers and should be read by all people interested in philosophy and wisdom.)
Aurelius, Marcus - Famous Stoic Roman Emperor & his Meditations on our Interconnected Existence in the Universe & how we are to live. We should not say - I am an Athenian or I am a Roman but I am a Citizen of the Universe.
Cicero - Famous Roman Philosopher Cicero. On the Nature of the Gods 'As a philosopher, I have a right to ask for a rational explanation of religious faith.'
Hobbes, Thomas - 'Hell is Truth Seen too Late.' On the True Foundations of Thomas Hobbes 'Leviathan' as Cosmic Leviathan. On the Interconnected Motion of all things in the Universe.
Plato - On Plato's Republic - Plato appreciated that all Truth comes from Reality and this Truth was profoundly important to the future of Humanity. 'Till Philosophers are Kings, or Kings are Philosophers there is no Hope for Humanity'