Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lord of the Rings essay: the History and Historicism of Middle Earth

Dear friends,

Prof. Robert Koons
After auditing the class offered by Prof. Koons last Spring on Fantasy Literature, I have completed a long-essay(70 pages) on the history and historicism of Middle-Earth. Prof. Koons has graciously accepted to read and comment on the essay. Linked below is a read-only digital copy of the essay for everyone who may find it of interest. If you have the opportunity, please read and write comments(under the review tab of MsWord) as freely as you like. I would like you to principally comment upon the style, structure, and the argument which is developed throughout the essay. The essay may be too long in its present form, so please suggest any sections which ought to be removed. There are eight chapters which may be selected(control+click) from the Table of Contents, as well as many subheadings. Please e-mail me the commented document when you are finished, so that I may take your comments into consideration when I work to revise the essay for submission to one of the many Tolkien and literary journals. I have included below the introduction to the essay. Thank you all for your assistance and patience.


Ryan Haecker

Link to the Download of the Read-Only Word Document:

Link to the Download of the PDF Document with fancy fonts:

Email to:


Abstract: The History of Middle-Earth is the central literary device in J.r.r. Tolkien's mythopoeia. The History of Middle Earth is presented as a repeated historicist cycle of decline and restoration. The historicism of Middle-Earth is determined by the elaborate cosmology and mythical theodicy of the cosmos of Eä. The History of Middle-Earth is an allegory of Western History. The decline of Men in Middle-Earth is principally caused by the same forces of industry and science which have effected Western Civilization. The historicism of Middle-Earth presents a modernist allegory of history which is intended to illustrate the perils and potentials of Western Civilization in our time.

1. Introduction

Literature may be considered epic when it enchants not merely its own but every generation with allusions to universal themes which surpass the particularity of its setting. Though the Bronze Age is long since passed, the poems of Homer continue to enchant readers both with scenes of harrowing carnage upon the Scamander plain before the walls of Troy, and with excited expectation upon Odysseus’s long-expected homecoming to rocky Ithaca. Unlike the strict didacticism of Aristotle, Plato’s myths aim not merely to instruct but to inspire the reader's imagination to take flight. Tolkien’s mythopoeia shares in this Platonic purpose, and presents itself as both fiction and philosophy. As “the Lord of the Rings” develops from the initial intrigues of Hobbiton to a global strategic conflict for the future of Middle Earth, the reader finds the limited ordeals of the Fellowship to be merely a microcosm of the grander historical drama of Middle Earth. The obliquely referenced historicization of the setting incomprehensibly elevates the dramatic tension by situating the limited story of “the Lord of the Rings” within an infinitely broader historical narrative. Although the drama of the Fellowship is limited in time and space, Tolkien’s continual allusions to the immense history of Middle Earth leads the reader to likewise reflect upon the sublimity of Middle-Earth’s incomprehensibly extensive past. Tolkien’s use of myth recalls C.s. Lewis description of faerie stories as “lies breathed through silver”. And as with Plato’s “Republic”, Tolkien’s mythopoeia possesses the cathartic potential to initiate the reader into an esoteric awareness of the Good.

The historical context of Middle Earth is the central literary device which establishes the setting and the thematic importance of the Fellowship within it. Although the historicization of a mythical cosmos, or mythopoesis, has since become a commonplace characteristic of the fantasy genre, the great subtlety and erudition with which Tolkien created his literary history and cosmology distinguishes Middle earth from his often less coherent imitators. In contrast to vulgar fantasy, which often presents a familiar retinue of magic and creatures, J.r.r. Tolkien’s “the Lord of the Rings” presents readers with a setting which, while retaining many staples of the fantasy genre (elves, dwarves, trolls, wizards etc.), nonetheless wholly re-conceptualizes their qualities and relations so as to integrate them within the broader fictional history and cosmology of Middle-Earth. Consequently Tolkien’s history is inseparable from the essential themes of his myth-making, or mythopoeia. The theme of history, like a deep baritone, is often disguised by oblique recollections in songs and references in languages, places, and character names. Yet through this historicization the otherwise disjointed locations, characters and cultures are integrated into the broader historical-drama of Middle Earth.

The historical drama of Middle-Earth is, in the Third Age, the apparent final resolution of a cosmic battle among the gods - a theogany which began before the creation of Middle-Earth and the world of Arda. This cosmic contest between the rebellious servants of Dark Lord and the faithful Children of Ilúvatar continues intermittently and repeats itself cyclically throughout the history of Middle Earth. As new disorders are introduced the faithful Elves and Men continue to work to perpetuate the divine harmony of Arda which had once existed, yet has since been corrupted. The historical perspective of “the Lord of the Rings” in the Third Age of Middle-Earth situates the Fellowship and the reader in a late historical era with an expansive prior history of literature, songs, and myths. The conflicts which occur in the Third Age of Middle-Earth parallel many previous world-historical conflicts, such as the Last Alliance of the Second Age (which is introduced in the second chapter of "the Fellowship of the Ring"). The late historical perspective of Middle-Earth in the Third Age invites the reader to reflect upon the repeated yet ever-diminishing scale of Middle Earth’s prior historical conflicts, as well as the apparent conclusiveness of the War of the Ring. For the first time in the Third Age, there noticeably appear many distinctly modern themes of industrialism, urbanism, eugenics and scientific rationalism, which allude to the distinctive characteristics of the modern world and our own unique historical perspective. These allusions to a late historical perspective within the limited drama of the novel prompts the reader to similarly reflect upon the magnitude of own history, as a parallel inter-generational contest to preserve justice, harmony, and a memory of the past.

Beginning with the writings of Herder, Blake, Goethe, Wordsworth and Novalis, Romanticism has been characterized as a literary and philosophic response to the reductionist pretentions of scientific rationalism. Inspired by romanticism, C.s. Lewis argued that a fictional setting must be morally meaningful and conceptually coherent to suitably interest an audience in the plight of the characters. For Lewis, this required fantasy literature to be intellectually and spiritually compelling. The Thomistic theologian Jacques Maritain described inspired creativity with a similar emphasis upon introspective spiritualism:

"Reason does not only consist of its logical tools and manifestations, nor does the will consist only of its deliberate conscious determinations. Far beneath the sunlit surface thronged with explicit concepts and judgments, words and expressed resolutions or movements of the will, are the sources of knowledge and creativity, of love and suprasensuous desires, hidden in the primordial translucid night of the intimate vitality of the soul." (Maritain, La Philosophie Bergsonienne 1914/48, p.103)

Tolkien’s fantasy exhibits an intimate romantic consideration for the importance of fantasy, which reflects the concerns of these Christian writers. The coherency and complexity of Tolkien’s mythopoeia illustrates his methodological view that believable and compelling fantasy requires an internally consistent and historical setting. In contrast to the mediocrity of vulgar fantasy, Tolkien aspired to create a believable and immersive mythology whose sublimity might re-enchant the present with a richer awareness of integral and humane living.

If the First Age recalls an antediluvian or Homeric era of springtime Elves and heroic first Men, and the Second Age bespeaks of a classical age of expansive empires, then the Third Age more resembles one of pygmies than heroes and social decline rather than imperial grandeur. Yet in spite of the mediocrity of the Third Age, relics and recollections of a more impressive antique world continually intrude into the story as the Quest of the Ring nears its resolution. The completion of the Quest of the Ring, the defeat of Sauron, and the Return of the King too nearly resemble the global victory of the Anglo-American alliance in the modern era and the resulting hegemony of capitalism and liberal-democracy. With the finality of its resolution, the History of Middle-Earth in the Third Age recalls the apparent finality of human history in our own time. In consideration of this historical perspective, “the Lord of the Rings” can be read as a distinctly modern fantasy-epic, whose splendid achievement was to have replied to the mundane modern anxieties of social fragmentation, anonymity and disenchantment with a sublime vision of an alternative modernity.

"Tolkien, it is true, did not embrace the twentieth century. But neither did he run from it. Rather, he forced his readers to confront their world from a different perspective, a perspective informed by the power of myth, symbol, and examples of true heroism. The modern and industrialized world seem to have little use, he knew, for the older way of seeing and knowing represented by his mythology. Nor did it have much use for the decentralized mode of social and political organization in which he believed. Rather, tyranny characterized Tolkien's century, and Tolkien passionately hated tyranny, whether it came from Left or Right of the political spectrum. And as to the "escapist" charge? As Tolkien once told C.S. Lewis, 'those who most hate escapism are the jailers.'" (Sanctifying Myth, p.109-110)

Link to the Download of the Read-Only Word Document:

Link to the Download of the PDF Document with fancy fonts:

Email to:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Contra Lockean Toleration

Lockean Argument:
p1: There is no way for a man to know the truth of the doctrines of religion.
p2: There exist among men competing claims to know the truth of the doctrines of religion.
p3: If (p1) & (p2) are true, then these doctrines of religion cannot be universally and completely true but must be merely particularly and partially true to those men who believe in them.
p4: If (p1) & (p3) are true, then there is likewise no way for the State to know the truth of a particular and partial religious doctrine.
p5: The imposition of a religion is justified if and only if a religion is universally and completely true.
p6: If (p3) & (p5) are true, then the imposition of a particular religion cannot be justified.
p7: The State may only act in a manner which is justified.
p8: If (p6) and (p7) are true, then the state may not impose religion.

Therefore: The State may not impose any religion and must remain impartial to them.

c1: God is All-knowing and completely knows what is right and true.
c2: If (c1) is true, then God would only reveal that religion which is universally and completely true.

c3: Men may know the truth or falsity of the doctrines of religion through reason and revelation.
c4: If (c3) is true, then (p1) is false

[The conflict between the propositions (c3) and (p1) is whether reason may discern the truth or falsity of religious doctrines. Locke’s adherence to (p1) is a consequence of his empiricist epistemology, or his belief that all knowledge is gained through sensory perception. As the doctrines of religion (such as the incarnation of Christ and the Trinity) are not beheld through sensory perception, Locke would dismiss them as unknowable.]

c5: If (c1) & (c3) are true and men believe in God and his revealed religion, then these men believe in the universal and complete truth of this revealed religion.
c6: if (c5) is true, then (p3) is false
c7: if (p1) & (p3) are false, then (p6), (p7), and (p8) are false

Therefore: Men do not believe in religion because it is partially and particularly true, but because revealed religion is universally and completely true. To judge a religion to be particularly and partially true is to deny the completeness and universality of its truth. To deny the completeness and universality of the truth of a revealed religion is therefore to deny that a religion is the true religion, as revealed by God.

Locke argues the inability to know the true and correct doctrine from among competing religions means that we cannot choose a particular religion which should then be imposed upon everyone. This conclusion is founded upon two premises: (p1) that the mind is incapable of judging the correctness and truth of religious doctrines, and (p3) that judgments of the correct and true doctrinal content of religion are partial, particular and incompletely true. (p1) is the result of Locke's reductionist empiricist epistemology. (p3) is based on Locke's failure to distinguish the social demography of religion, or the relative share of adherents of a religion, from the propositional content of religion, or what the religion itself claims. In Locke's time, there was in England a plurality of particular religions confessing a variety of Christian doctrines. However, these doctrines all claimed to be confessing universally and completely true doctrines rather than particularly and partially true doctrines. Locke mistakenly interpreted the appearance of religious pluralism to mean that the propositional content of religion was only particularly and partially true. Yet for a religion to be particularly and partially true would contradict the completeness and universality which religion claims to be the inspired result of God's knowledge and revelation: (c1) & (c2). A believer in God's revealed religion believes that the religion of God is universally and completely true for everyone. If a religion is universally and completely true for everyone, and it is best to know what is true and reject what is false, then everyone ought to accept and believe in the true religion of God. It would be a contradiction for a Christian to maintain that God’s revealed religion is both completely and partially true or that two religions are both completely true if their doctrines contradict. Therefore a Christian must affirm the universal and complete truth of God’s revealed religion.

Furthermore Locke is not exempted from these qualities of belief. If Locke believes that Christianity is only particularly and partially true, then he cannot also believe that Christianity is universally and completely true. Neither might Locke assert that he holds a belief which is only partially and particularly true, which must be held to be is true for everyone. No one can both believe that something, whether christology, physics, soteriology or mathematics, is true for particular people and yet might be universally worthy of belief for everyone. Locke may escape this conundrum only by sneakily introducing a novel religious belief which resembles Christianity, and which is implied to be universally and not particularly true: this novel religious confession is Locke’s advocacy of public toleration and secularism. Locke believes that public secularism is universally right, good and true, while enjoying the advantage of remaining impartial in its judgment of particular religious doctrines. Unbeknownst to Locke’s reader, his novel confession of public secularism is, in fact, merely another particular religious doctrine which claims to be universally true. Locke believes that public secularism is not a religion, yet contains within its doctrines every doctrine which is essential to public Christianity, while subtracting those accidental, superfluous and extraneous doctrines of Christianity which are so violently disputed in Locke's England. Locke believes that the circumscription of Christianity to a private practice and the elevation of public secularism to the policy of the state will preserve the essential doctrines and morals of Christianity while allowing individuals to freely devote themselves to the various accidental, superfluous, and unnecessary doctrines of older forms of Christianity. Because Locke believes that public secularism is universally rather than particularly true, he believes that he can escape from his own conundrum of imposing a particular religion upon a people who believe in a variety of religious doctrines.

However, Locke's concept of public secularism is just as partial and particular as he believes Christianity to be. Locke did not know this because his naïve and mistaken empiricist epistemology led him to believe there could be a simpler Christianity, without the traditional supernatural and supersensory beliefs. An attempt to simplify Christianity to its essential doctrines has been an ongoing project of Protestant theology since Martin Luther. This view supposes that the so-called accidental doctrines of Christianity have been corrupted through an incorrect organic development in history, while reason can rediscover the now-submerged essential and core components of Christianity. Locke’s secularism is therefore a particular form of empiricist Protestant Christianity. If Locke's secularism is particular and not universal then he indicts himself for the very same religious partisanship, intolerance and bigotry which he criticizes the variety of Christian sects of England in his time. Moreover, the falseness of Locke's epistemology means that he is exposed as an unwitting and contradictory hypocrite. In fairness to John Locke, it was not by any lack of imagination, ambition, or good will that he further distorted public and political Christianity. Rather it was by a naïve enthusiasm for empiricism and a regrettable lack of foresight that he promulgated so many injurious political doctrines.

"Locke's contemporary, Jonas Proast, responded by saying that Locke's three arguments really amount to just two, that true faith cannot be forced and that we have no more reason to think that we are right than anyone else has. Proast argued that force can be helpful in bringing people to the truth “indirectly, and at a distance.” His idea was that although force cannot directly bring about a change of mind or heart, it can cause people to consider arguments that they would otherwise ignore or prevent them from hearing or reading things that would lead them astray. If force is indirectly useful in bringing people to the true faith, then Locke has not provided a persuasive argument. As for Locke's argument about the harm of a magistrate whose religion is false using force to promote it, Proast claimed that this was irrelevant since there is a morally relevant difference between affirming that the magistrate may promote the religion he thinks true and affirming that he may promote the religion that actually is true. Proast thought that unless one was a complete skeptic, one must believe that the reasons for one's own position are objectively better than those for other positions.

Jeremy Waldron (1993), in an influential article, restated the substance of Proast's objection for a contemporary audience. He argued that, leaving aside Locke's Christian arguments, his main position was that it was instrumentally irrational, from the perspective of the persecutor, to use force in matters of religion because force acts only on the will and belief is not something that we change at will. Waldron pointed out that this argument blocks only one particular reason for persecution, not all reasons. Thus it would not stop someone who used religious persecution for some end other than religious conversion, such as preserving the peace. Even in cases where persecution does have a religious goal, Waldron agrees with Proast that force may be indirectly effective in changing people's beliefs."

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Ode to Immanuel Kant

Ode to Immanuel Kant

composed and presented aloud on the 286th anniversary of Kant's birth
Along foggy Baltic shores, in centuries gone was found,
amongst pear-plumed steeples and knotted girdles,
Resolute Kant, made humble by late notice,
in sleepy Tuetonic town of Königsberg

Lengthily he speculated into nebulas above- searching, formulating,
and deducing by Leibniz logical laws
Yet lately were his thoughts troubled more by contrast
of philosophie and Newton's universal laws

Upon oft-expected morning sojourns,
which both maintained routine and Kant's virginitee
His careful inquiries would soon chance to find
by trials and turns to considerrings of too reasonable impiety.

Soon his copious deliberations were coarsely intruded
by the fattened skepticism of David Hume
Stunned was he to find yet overlooked that causality protruded
from the cosmos which Leibniz had presumed.

Those cloistered thoughts, long constructed, were swiftly tumbled,
the orderly heavens were loosened and unfixed
Sun and Moon ceased assisting, a new star stirred and rumbled,
the Copernican Revolution began and mixed.

Hibernating went Kant so swiftly,
Ten restless years he descended into critical slumber
Dancing and wrestling. Dialectics and antinomies.
Kant mined cognition for a glittering intuition and a pure number.

Unceasing phenomena, unknowable noumena,
Kant marooned, a perceiver adrift in Space and Time.
Thence was conceived of- Luminous Ego!
The transcendental self , the source of good will mine.

Three Critiques thereafter followed: Pure, Practical, and Judgmental,
to worldwide bafflement and unexpected fame.
Immanuel now exalted, his memory now hallowed,
of comprehension, a poet laureate he is acclaimed.

All concepts' hidden passageways, the self's innermost chambers,
once guarded wisdom now made known.
A self-conscious synthesis of man's intuitions; both space extensive and time eternal,
all within the mind as Kant has shown.

Napoleon's ambition spirited away, Holy Roman Empire surrendered; astounding!
Ideas of Reason disperse through all lands.
Philosophic youths gaily awaken, set now firmly on sure grounding,
an unforeseen synthesis now in hands.

Forevermore Hume's skepticism has retreated,
amoralism and solipsism conclusively expire in very fitting and loathsome ignominy.
Kant has buttressed starry vaults with new permanence,
demonstrated reason's prowess and transparency,
Gloria Immanuel!
His triumph is the minds evermore undimmed sublimity.

a Short Defense of Monarchism

This is a short defense of Monarchy in theory and history written in response to the criticisms of Justin. Please enjoy.


Ugh Ryan. I wasn't going to respond to these strange monarchist outbursts of yours. But come on. I'm all for healthy intellectual dissent, but i highly doubt you're genuine to the core--you delight in too many freedoms that otherwise you would not be deemed entitled to you in a tyrannical regime. I’ve seen your rather Nietzschean arguments that somehow suppose aristocratic excellence (which somehow is more desirable, or more ‘excellent-ish’ than other types of imaginable excellences/[virtues?]) is A.) only achievable in a non-egalitarian social framework (in your case it seems only monarchism could achieve this) and B.) somehow innately desirable. [which of course is ludicrous]

You know that monarchy is not somehow a more natural form of governance, and you *know* that Obama-idolatry or celebrity idolatry isn’t evidence of a society’s natural inclination toward monarchy. There’s no indefeasible warrant connecting the two—at all, just sophistic contrivance. Now, if you wanted to advance some argument that there’s some perpetual, ever-present social forces pushing toward plutocratic oligarchy, then fine, I might even be inclined to agree with you—but that doesn’t get a singular sovereign into the picture…at all.

Furthermore, a monarchy is almost always theoretically predicated upon a social fiction—some supposed ‘divine right’ or what have you. And these fictions are demonstrably (just that)….fictions. There is no social warrant, no bite to an absolute, hereditary monarchy.

In any monarchical system there are extra-monarchical magnates and extra-monarchical feudal or feudal-like structures. IN THIS FACT ALONE we can see the beginnings of the theoretical necessity for popular sovereignty, from that, the seeds of liberalism. Magnates must be pleased in order to maintain power, and their potential (and actual) “usurpation” of power is not only a salient feature of monarchical regimes—but historically a part of every monarchical system this planet has ever seen. Because it is, in fact, a NECESSARY feature of every monarchy—we see that there is NO ORGANIC RIGHT/ENTITLEMENT to absolute sovereignty. There is only practical, this-worldly forces that the person who claims the sovereignty can manage to wield to maintain power—all completely contingent upon his abilities and any other random, relevant state of affairs. **there might be some very tiny nations, or tribes out there where this might not apply, but consider them irrelevant—I refer only to nation states of any sufficient size.

Theoretically, the only way there might be some organic entitlement is to derive some Hobbesian normative claim—which is all predicated upon arcane state of nature arguments—and which still rely on theories of social contract—and, as I won’t go into depth here, I think as soon as we wrestle w/ social contract, popular sovereignty and the seeds of liberalism begin to sprout [I’ll just take that as granted…I’m sure you’re smart enough to fill in the in between steps].

Where else might we find an organic entitlement? Perhaps…God? Ryan, as a good catholic you should be well aware of various encyclical literature praising things like democracy and egalitarianism. This should be enough for you to drop your monarchist claims…or at least any claim that monarchy is somehow innately good…or at VERY least, that monarchy is some how natural or necessary.

Finally, the contemporary monarchy [that is actual] is DE FACTO a fascist and/or otherwise extreme totalitarian regime. I shouldn’t need to go into this too much. Maybe you don’t think that’s too bad—but tell me, examine yourself and ask whether you would really like to live in such a state. The sovereign is always in a harrying fight to maintain his power—which leads to oppressions and violence of every kind—the modes of productions are taken over (this includes far-right regimes…it’s just done through the military industrial complex)—otherwise threatening magnates will arise AKA potential usurpers. There just has been no contemporary monarchy that has been idyllic or pleasant—it has just produced violence and war, oppression and misery…and what may for you be even worse…the antithesis of excellence and virtue.

I hope I haven’t created too many straw men here, I only briefly read a lot of your recent comments floating around Facebook. Regardless, I think these considerations are enough to defeat any monarchist claims. I’m calling you on your bull.


I am pleased that you have expressed such diligent interest in the viability and coherency of Monarchy. I have excerpted what I considered to be the nine principle arguments(in quotes) from the previous reprinting of your criticism.

1. "you delight in too many freedoms that otherwise you would not be deemed entitled to you in a tyrannical regime."

Classical political philosophy, from Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle, Polybius, to Porphyry, Iamblichus and Augustine, employed the conceptual distinction between monarchy and tyranny. Tyranny, in contradistinction to monarchy, was considered to be an illegitimate usurpation of the State; generally by a personal turn to wickedness, the force of partisan loyalists, or the cajolery of populist demagoguery, for the aim of private interest and aggrandizement unrestrained by moderation, law or governmental bodies. By contrast, Monarchy was considered as a healthy and virtuous form of government, in equal proportion to the viciousness and pathology of Tyranny. Where the former was thought to be a harmonious and integral social body, ordered by the unreflective expression of prudence, wisdom, civility and compassion, the latter was required, in the absence of these virtues, to employ the legal and administrative powers of the State to forcibly coerce and compel compliance with the self-indulgent whims of the Sovereign. In short, Monarchy was envisioned as an idyllic community in which virtue was natural and spontaneous, rather than mere hypocrisy or affectation, and obedience resulted, not from legal or social compulsion, but rather from a fraternal cooperation and a genuine admiration and fidelity to the excellence and superiority of the rulers.

However both Plato and Aristotle recognized the fragility of the ideal Monarchy due to the weakness of social immoderation and human caprice, and for this reason forewarned that a monarchist regime was all too prone to descend into Tyranny if the sovereign were not of exceeding superiority of character and the severest self-restraint. For this reason both classical philosophers, while recognizing the lofty aspiration of Monarchy, advised a variety of remedies(a topic of investigation for political theorizing, yet the concern of philosopher-poets of old!) with which to restrain the sovereign, so that his expected incontinence and inadequacies might be prevented from thereby imperiling the State. In reference to the classical tradition of political philosophy, it should be apparent that the integral fraternity and humane felicity of Monarchy need not imply an unfavorable diminution of freedom, but instead rather serves to enable a more immediate freedom of personal actualization and princely decisiveness; both of which remain unrestrained by either constitutional proceduralism or legalism, and yet simultaneously adhere without reflection to the requirements of the universal Moral Law! Furthermore, this sublime vision of government is intended, not merely for the private avarice of the Sovereign, but for the vigor and spiritedness of broader society; who are through this means united in action and intention by a continually renewed bond of fraternity and courtesy, extending from the humblest servant to the most resplendent and magnanimous prince.

2. "I’ve seen your rather Nietzschean arguments that somehow suppose aristocratic excellence (which somehow is more desirable, or more ‘excellent-ish’ than other types of imaginable excellences/virtues?) is a.) only achievable in a non-egalitarian social framework (in your case it seems only monarchism could achieve this) and b.) somehow innately desirable. [which of course is ludicrous]"

The second contention which you raise(2.b) concerns whether virtue and excellence are innately desirable by all men, or merely the parochial aspiration of Aristotelians or Nietzscheans. While it appears that you seem find this proposition to be prima facie "ludicrous", instead I contend that the desirability of these qualities is both apodeictically and categorically true- or truly the case everywhere and always for all persons! We should ask how could virtue could be unwelcome when broadly conceived as the pragmatic capacity to act freely, a potentiality and will to power, as well as the moral conscience and discipline to resolutely adhere in thought and action to what reason informs us to be practically required and theoretically true. When virtue is thusly conceived, it is viewed not as an arbitrary social circumscription or an unfavorable restrictedness, but as the very means and measure of will and action with which to actualize the intrinsic potential of our selves in accordance with the pragmatic and theoretical necessities of the world! As no alternative to this moral and pragmatic freedom can possibly be conceived without also imagining a diminution of the angelic freedom which virtue implies, this effectatious unity of movement and comprehension cannot be simply disregarded or denied without also involving oneself in a theoretical contradiction.

The first contention which you raised(2.a), concerning whether an inegalitarian society is more conducive to the furtherance of excellence and virtue, or whether these traits might be equally evident in a more egalitarian society, is a central theoretical concern for monarchists and one of the principal reasons for any advocacy of a more explicitly inegalitarian society and constitution. Like the dialogue of Socrates in which in which personal virtue is related to political virtue in "the Republic", I find that this concern can be best understood in relation to the previous question(2.b) of the intrinsic value of virtue and the conditions which inspire human excellence. If the former description of the practical necessity and highest good of virtue is categorically true, then it follows that we should analogously judge that constitution and social arrangement which is most conducive and effective in inspiring the development of virtue among the people to likewise be the highest social or political good.

From this judgment, it needn't follow that socio-political inequality is more advantageous than equality, nor does this recommend a specific arrangement of the constitution, the laws, or of broader society. The necessity of unequal relations (such as the five Confucian relations of ruler and minister, parent and child, older and younger neighbors, husband and wife, and older and younger sibling) follows instead from another three convictions: 1) that among the varying multitude of mankind there is to be found an unequal allotment of talent, form, and ability which corresponds to their intrinsic potentiality and relative actualization of human virtue, 2) that human society and politics achieves the aforementioned aims most efficiently when organized so as to maximize the beneficial effects of (1), and 3) that (2) is best achieved when society and politics are organized into a visible and understood hierarchy from the most temperamental infant to the most serene and magnificent exemplar of mankind. The result of accepting the soundness and truth of these three propositions, which I see no need to herein argue for, is the inferential conclusion that Monarchy is the most just, able and noble form of government.

3. "if you wanted to advance some argument that there’s some perpetual, ever-present social forces pushing toward plutocratic oligarchy, then fine, I might even be inclined to agree with you—but that doesn’t get a singular sovereign into the picture…at all."

I do not argue that a description of social or economic forces which lead incrementally from one government form to another (such as the anacyclosis described by Polybius, the corruption of a regime described by Aristotle, or the development of productive and political monopolies under capitalism as described by Marx ) is a compelling argument for the benefits of Monarchy. Indeed such a description does not suffice to advise us of the benefits of any particular regime, and serves merely to describe the dangers of inherent in the development of polities in history. Additionally, you correctly mention that these unintended historical processes are very likely to tend towards unfavorable governments such as Tyranny, Oligarchy, or Ochlocracy(or the rule of the mob), and offer very little reassurance of a benign result.

4. "Furthermore, a monarchy is almost always theoretically predicated upon a social fiction—some supposed ‘divine right’ or what have you. And these fictions are demonstrably (just that)….fictions."

Has there been, or could there ever foreseeably be, a form of government which does not make use of social fictions, myths, and rhetorical sophistry to offer a legitimization of their laws, policies and institutions? Even the city-states of classical Greece found it expedient to deify their founders, to trace their ruling lineages to the heroes of Homer and Hesiod, and to attribute their laws and constitutions to sage-kings such as Solon of Athens or Lycurgus of Sparta. The fictions which our present polity entertains- of inspired founding fathers, hallowed documents, and unexamined egalitarian convictions-seem equally fantastic, yet for this we are faulted with the greater hypocrisy due both to our stated disbelief in the sacredness of the State as well as our cynicism concerning the fallibility of men and their writings. The reason for the necessity of these social fictions should be quite clear; for why would any man consent to be governed and punished by a State which is not of his choosing, if it and its laws were acknowledged to be the whimsical invention of fallible men of his own wretched condition? Why should he prize the constitution and the products of his legislature so highly, when he might equally scribble his own thoughts for the regulation of his neighbors? These inquiries swiftly reveal that the State is at present, and has been for all time, the result of a systematic exercise of force, violence, and cruelty without comparison in any other human institution.

Our present adulation of the State, inspired with the same benign intention as Virgil's mythic retelling of the founding of imperial Rome, aims in part to persuade us against considering these unsettling conclusions - yet is a sophistry which I find to be indispensable in governing the sentiments and restraining the ambition of nations. This observation of the continuing necessity of social fictions should not be misconstrued as simply a injunction to maliciously deceive the people. Rather it is an pragmatic assessment, in the tradition of blessed Plato's "noble lie", of the invaluable yet strategic function which the myths and public cult of the State serve.

5. " In any monarchical system there are extra-monarchical magnates and extra-monarchical feudal or feudal-like structures. (a)In this fact alone we can see the beginnings of the theoretical necessity for popular sovereignty, from that, the seeds of liberalism. (b)Magnates must be pleased in order to maintain power, and (i)their potential (and actual) “usurpation” of power is not only a salient feature of monarchical regimes—but historically (ii)a part of every monarchical system this planet has ever seen."

In the excerpted quote(5.a) you describe the necessary plurality of social and political power (whether it be invested in ministers, proconsuls, governors, dukes, or viceroys etc.) which you infer to create the "theoretical necessity [of] popular sovereignty". First, it will help to clarify that "popular sovereignty" is a modern theory of statal legitimacy rather than a description of either the arrangement or the functioning of political power. It is fairly incoherent to infer the theory of popular sovereignty(which it should be noted is a conceptual contradiction, for how can the people be both sovereign and subject) from the existence of political plurality. Additionally the existence of political plurality has not historically resulted in a theory of "popular sovereignty" until the writings of European liberals in the early modern period(Locke, Rousseau, and Montesquieu). When Pontius Pilate touted his power to crucify Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace replied "Thou shouldst not have any power over me, unless it were given to thee from above."(John 19:11), yet no theory of popular sovereignty followed from this exchange.

Second, although it might be imagined that the necessary existence of political plurality (this is a necessity as humans live in communities which require cooperation and interdependence) leads historically to liberal democracy, this assertion of a grand historical narrative merely tautologically presumes the conclusion(in this case liberal democracy) of a historical socio-political teleology, and thereafter claims that the present political arrangement is a conclusive validation of the "end of history" presumption! Although this assertion is logically invalid, the thought remains compelling- or at least as compelling as the historical inevitability of the Kaiser's German Empire or the Soviet Union must have seemed to partisan contemporaries. However without any further arguments in support of this historical teleology, this assertion will only seem as presumptuousness as those of our ancestors; ancestors whose tendency towards cultural chauvinism has yet to be exorcised by the inspiration of modern rationalism.

The second criticism which you offer(5.b) is twofold: (i)you briefly argue that the means by which the recipients of political power in a monarchy are compensated and recognized inclines them to usurp power from the sovereign. Apart from this observation being horribly anachronistic(for instance the last civil-war among the nobility of England was the War of the Roses(1455-85), the Wars of Religion(1562-98) in France, and the uprising of Zhu Di(1398-1402) in Ming China!), the argument fails to offer either an explanation of why this phenomenon might be more pronounced in Monarchy, or why we should not expect to find similar events in liberal democracy (as in the innumerable instances of military coup d'états in recent memory). An argument in your favor might be presented as follows:

(p1) Feudal lords are granted absolute power over their subjects and soldiers.

(p2) Fuedal lords are afforded compensation and recognition in proportion to the extent of land and the number of subject which they have dominion over.

(p3) if (p1) and (p2) are true, then we should expect fuedal lords to attempt to forcibly increase the extent of their land and the number of their subjects by (i) usurping power from the sovereign, (ii) and accumulating absolute socio-political power to themselves.

(p4) if (p3) is true and political plurality is necessary for any monarchy, then we should expect this violent cycle of hegemonic domination and usurpation described in (p3) to repeat itself without end.

TF: if (p4) is true, then Monarchy is inherently violent and politically unstable.

However this argument is specious because, although Monarchy might comically be conceived as a violent monopoly of marauding Franks, Huns, and Vandals, history and political theory displays much more administrative and social sophistication in actual monarchies; a fact which demonstrates (p1) and (p2) to be mere storybook simplicities. Additionally it is not clear that, if these premises were sound then this argument would not also apply to contemporary military officers; who are similarly invested with inestimable armed force, and are recognized in accordance with their political power and compensated, not with land(as in physiocratic agrarian states), but with money. Yet the application of this argument to present government of either a country like Communist China or the United States is viewed as prima facie absurd precisely because we know of the social and political mechanisms with which military officers are restrained from overthrowing the state- mechanisms such as legal institutions, social reprobation, and the fiction of sacredness(quote 4) which the State promotes and for which officers swear to defend (a custom similar to an oath of fealty still practiced widely in the world's militaries).

After asserting the truth of (5.b.i) you inductively conclude(5.b.ii) that because usurpation is evident in all historical monarchies, Monarchy is therefore intrinsically prone to feudal strife and instability. If the falsehood of (5.b.i) and thereby this inference is not apparent, then we might instead equally investigate the sordid history of political instability among Republics; beginning with the Athenian Democracy, the Roman Republic, the five French Republics, and so many other instances of civil strife and political instability in recent history. From this it may be understood that evidence alone is insufficient to establish to preponderance of political instability in Monarchy in comparison to liberal democracy. Finally, it should be considered that the political instability of a government, while certainly the cause of great harms and historical grievances, cannot and should not be universally prepared against, as it may in some instances be the requisite means by which a despotic form of government is overthrown.

6. Because it is, in fact, a necessary feature of every monarchy—we see that there is no organic right/entitlement to absolute sovereignty. There is only practical, this-worldly forces that the person who claims the sovereignty can manage to wield to maintain power—all completely contingent upon his abilities and any other random, relevant state of affairs."

For the reasons elaborated in (5.a), the criticisms expressed in quote (6) are meaningless. Neither the existence of political hegemony nor the necessity of political plurality suffices to warrant either the theory of monarchical "absolutism" or the theory of "popular sovereignty". This is so because a description of affairs does not necessarily entail a normative theory of how affairs ought to be, without reference to additional theoretical resources which are not contained within the description.

7. "Theoretically, the only way there might be some organic entitlement is to derive some Hobbesian normative claim—which is all predicated upon arcane state of nature arguments—and which still rely on theories of social contract... Where else might we find an organic entitlement? Perhaps…God?... that monarchy is somehow natural or necessary."

The three convictions which were listed in response to quote (2) provide a limited theoretical justification for the legitimacy of monarchy, without appealing to either Hobbesian political hegemony or the "divine right" of kings. However, this inferential judgment doesn't show that Monarchy is "natural or necessary", only that it is preferable to other forms of government which fail to satisfy the second requirement.

8. "Finally, the contemporary monarchy [that is actual] is de facto a fascist and/or otherwise extreme totalitarian regime... There just has been no contemporary monarchy that has been idyllic or pleasant—it has just produced violence and war, oppression and misery…and what may for you be even worse…the antithesis of excellence and virtue. "

The presentation of the argument (5.b), which is implied in this quote (8), adequately demonstrates that Monarchy needn't invariably lead to either Tyranny or Fascism. The confusion between Monarchy and Tyranny was addressed in response to quote (1). Additionally, there is some dispute among scholars concerning the historical causes and intellectual ancestry of Fascism, yet Monarchy is not generally considered among the factors involved (for a scholarly summary of this dispute, you might read pages 141-72 of Roger Griffin's anthology "Fascism" for which I wrote this Wikipedia article While Italian fascism developed within the government of the Italian monarchy(the Monarchy also was among the principle agents in deposing the Fascist government of Benito Mussolini), this has not been universally the case with fascist states as Adolf Hitler's National Socialists famously emerged from the republican government of Weimar Germany. Furthermore, many historians consider modernity(Talcott Parsons), capitalism(Harold Laski), and liberalism(Ernst Nolte) to be among the principle factors in the historical development and continued appeal of Fascism; while the historical influence of traditionalism is a subject of dispute(Stephen Holmes), but is not an argument which I find especially convincing.

9. "Ryan. I wasn't going to respond to these strange monarchist outbursts of yours. But come on. I'm all for healthy intellectual dissent, but I highly doubt you're genuine to the core.[...]I think these considerations are enough to defeat any monarchist claims. I’m calling you on your bull."

I am indeed genuine in my advocacy of Monarchy, which I find to be both a viable and healthy alternative to the contemporary morass of democratic liberalism. These considerations of yours are unfortunately insufficient to "defeat any monarchist claims". I encourage you to re-examine your democratic beliefs in reference to this alternative as well as the potential of Monarchy to offer America and the world a more advantageous socio-political arrangement to that which we currently enjoy. I thank you for your contributions, and encourage you to inquire into any further concerns which you have with the idea of Monarchy.

Immanuel Kant's theory of the transcendental Freedom of the Will

Interview with Pablo on Immanuel Kant's theory of the transcendental Freedom of the Will

Prussian Philosopher Immanuel Kant
The problem of whether man's free will is compatible with the apparently deterministic laws of natural science was especially troubling to thoughtful men of the 18th century, due principally to the newfound popularity of Newtonian physics and its corresponding "universal laws of motion". Philosophers were greatly distraught by the apparent determinism which these universal natural laws of motion implied, and whether this new science meant that all notions of Man's free will would now be obsolete. The Scottish Enlightenment philosopher David Hume responded to this problem by criticizing the possibility of gaining definitive knowledge of the truth of those causal connections which we perceived as cause and effect. However, this skepticism concerning universal causation merely served to bring the new science of Newtonian physics into doubt, and did not also demonstrate the possibility of free will of agent-determining moral action. The Prussian(German) philosopher Immanuel Kant(1724-1804) was deeply troubled by this apparently irresolvable skepticism of causal determinism, which raised fundamental doubts about the possibility of natural science and human freedom. At the age of 46, Kant began his "silent period" of uninterrupted isolation and dedicated contemplation of this very problem which would last eleven years. When Kant finally emerged, he was ready to publish the Critique of Pure Reason(1781), which would be followed within the decade by the Critique of Practical Reason(1788) and the Critique of Judgment(1790). These three great critiques explored, through the faculties of reason, the very potential and limitations of reason, judgment, and human understanding. Kant believed that he had discovered the solution to the problem which David Hume had raised concerning the incompatibility of universal causal determinism and human freedom(which philosophers call 'incompatibilism'). The following is a recorded discussion(edited for clarity) in which I discussed with Pablo the solution which Kant offers to this apparent problem.

Definition of Terms:

Causal Connectivity: This is the connection which is inferred to exist between the cause and effect of
any perception.

Determinism: This is the consistent universal relation of all perceived events in an inalterable chain of cause and effect.

Free Will: This is the freedom of a person to act apart from the causal influence of those causes which precede and determine effects in a sequence of cause and effect.

Causa Sui: This is the possibility of a self-caused effect, which has no preceding and determining cause for which it exists. Agent-Directed causa sui is thought to be necessary for the possibility of Free Will.

A Priori knowledge: That knowledge which is known independently of, and prior to, experience of the world.

A Posteriori Knowledge: That knowledge which is known of, and proven through experience of the world.

Postulate or Axiom: This is a premise in a logical argument whose truth is supposed, yet remains inconclusive as to whether it is either true or false.

Deduction:: This the logical and mathematical appraisal of whether the premises of an argument necessarily entail(or may be inferred as) the conclusion of the argument.

Induction: This is the sensory perception of phenomena and claims which may be made on the basis based on these experiences of phenomena.

Kant's theory of Free Will Interview with Pablo Vasquez.

[Tuesday December 1st 2009, 6:04-7:22pm]

[18:04] Ryan: I would like to tell you how it is possible to resolve the apparent conflict between Free Will and Determinism. I have determined how the difficulty might be successfully overcome.

[18:06] Pablo: I have a full hour, if you'd like to start.

[18:07] Ryan: alright. First, are you familiar with David Hume's criticism of commonly held view of causal connectivity?

[18:07] Pablo: Somewhat. Please overview it for me.

[18:09] Ryan: Alright. It is commonly held that just as "if A then B" entails "B" if "A" is true, then so too does "object A colliding with object B" compel "B" to move in equal and opposite reaction to object "A", as per Newton's 3rd law of motion.

[David Hume described the problem in "An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding". Here "reason" refers the deductive reasoning of mathematical logic and "induction" refers to what is perceived by the senses. First, Hume ponders the discovery of causal relations, which form the basis for what he refers to as "matters of fact." He argues that causal relations are known not by reason, but by induction. This is because for any cause, multiple effects are conceivable, and the actual effect cannot be determined by reasoning about the cause; instead, one must observe occurrences of the causal relation to discover that it holds. For example, when one thinks of "a billiard ball moving in a straight line toward another," one can conceive that the first ball bounces back with the second ball remaining at rest, the first ball stops and the second ball moves, or the first ball jumps over the second, etc. There is no reason to conclude any of these possibilities over the others. Only through previous observation can it be predicted, inductively, what will actually happen with the balls. In general, it is not necessary that causal relation in the future resemble causal relations in the past, as it is always conceivable otherwise. (More information:]

[18:09] Pablo: Indeed.

[18:09] Ryan: David Hume criticized this view in "an Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding". Here he successfully showed that we can only know the effects of causal connectivity(that A compels B ) through experience, which provides no universally valid, or a priori logical laws of causation.

[18:11] Pablo: Indeed

[18:13] Ryan: However, if causal connectivity were merely perceived rather than actual in the universe, then both the laws of natural science would be inoperative, and human action would be impotent (because our willful actions couldn't be expected to produce predictable results). This is the problem which Kant set out to solve in the three critiques. [The Critique of Pure Reason(1781), The Critique of Practical Reason(1788),The Critique of Judgment(1790)]

[18:13] Ryan: Do you follow?

[18:14] Pablo: Yes, indeed. Do continue.

[18:15] Ryan: Alright. Kant concedes, as per Hume's critique, that it is true that we only continuously perceive, rather than know a priori that causal connectivity is operable in the natural world. Further, Kant argues that we can only, and must necessarily postulate some form of determinism as a precondition for the functioning of both natural science and human action. Now, a postulate is a logical axiom which is adopted, not necessarily because it is true(as its truth cannot be validated without a supporting argument), but rather merely on account of its utility in allowing for the present argument to function.

[18:17] Ryan: Do you follow this?

[18:17] Pablo: Yes, do continue.

[18:20] Ryan: Alright. Now Kant also says that we must necessarily also postulate the truth of free will for moral action to be possible. This is the case because without the freedom of the will, we cannot be held morally responsible for our actions. This position, in which determinism(or not free will) is incompatible with moral responsibility, is called "incompatibilism".[more information:]

[18:21] Ryan: So, because we want to act morally (or even effectively), we must necessarily postulate free will and moral responsibility as a precondition for human (and moral) action.

[18:22] Pablo: I see, yes, excellent point.

[18:24] Ryan: Alright, now a paradox arises here because if determinism is true, then free will is necessarily false. So if we postulate determinism (which is necessary for science and prediction) then we must deny the truth of free will. Further, if we postulate free will(which is necessary for moral action) then we cannot simultaneously hold determinism to be true. Hence there arises a logical paradox in which a proposition(either determinism or free will) is held to be true and false simultaneously, in violation of the laws of logic! [ ¬(P ∨ ¬P), for more information:]

[18:25] Pablo: Quite so.

[18:26] Ryan: And now we come to where "ever-victorious" Immanual Kant, to whom immortal praise glorie and honor are forever due, triumphs over David Hume's skepticism.

[18:27] Ryan: Kant first distinguishes two abstract domains of human thought: pure theoretical reason and pure practical reason.

[18:28] Ryan: As an abbreviation of these terms, I will hereafter use "Pr" and "pr" to describe "pure reason"(Pr) and "practical reason"(pr) respectively.

[18:28] Pablo: Of course.
I made this picture to illustrate Kant's theory of cognition.

[18:30] Ryan: The former (Pr) is employed to cognize relations of a priori deductions; those of logic, mathematics, spacio-temporal arrangements, as well as the categories of understanding (unity, plurality, extension) etc. The latter (pr) is used to understand the relation to empirical phenomena and a posteriori things of experience, such as tying shoe laces, navigating while walking, chewing etc. In the first "Critique of Pure Reason", Kant grants to (Pr) the powers of theory and imagination, and to (pr) the power of understanding and judgment.

[18:32] Ryan: Now, one might question how the interaction between the faculties of pure reason(Pr) and practical reason(pr) can occur. For example, one would need to know spacial relations and deduction to know how to navigate while walking. Kant agrees that this is a difficult problem, and in the first and third Critiques he argues* that we use our faculty of "determinate judgment", with which to apply the theoretical ideas of (Pr) to the practical circumstances and experiences of (pr).

[*The comprehensibility of the most frustrating section of the first Critique, the "Transcendental Deduction of Categories", has been a consistently disputed topic among Kantians and later Idealists such as Fichte, Schelling, Schopenhauer and Hegel. Kant attempted to offer a more compelling account of this in the third "Critique of Judgement", and it remains a central question in Kantian scholarship and German Idealism as to how this 'Pure Reason-Practical Reason problem'(which mirrors the 'Mind-Body problem') might be resolved.]

[18:33] Ryan: For instance. If I see a ball, I can make the determinate judgment that it is a sphere by applying the idea of a sphere from pure reason(Pr) to the empirical phenomena of the sight of the ball.

[18:34] Ryan: Judgments of this sort are done reflexively and fairly instantaneously as you might imagine.

[18:34] Pablo: I see, yes.

[18:37] Ryan: Alright, here is where this question becomes a bit more complicated. As I mentioned before, both determinism and free will are postulates which are necessarily made for the functioning of practical reasoning(pr), and not those of theoretical reasoning(Pr).

[18:38] Ryan: Further, Kant states(and we will return to this later) that neither the truth of determinism nor that of the freedom of the will can be theoretically(Pr) demonstrated to be either true or false. That determinism cannot be shown to be theoretically true follows from the conclusiveness of David Hume's aforementioned critique of causal connectivity.

[This is David Hume's conclusion, which Kant and I accept as valid, that the truth of causal connectivity cannot be demonstrated either deductively or a priori, and must generally be assumed due to our continual perception of apparent causal connections.]

[18:39] Ryan: Now, Free Will cannot be shown to be true because of the requirement that for the Will to be free would mean to have the quality of "causa sui", or self-causation, and so also to be without an antecedent and determining cause.

["Causa sui" is a technical term of medieval scholasticism meaning "the cause of itself". The 17th-century physics of Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibnitz contained as self-evident axioms within them, the idea of universal causal laws of motion and the principle of sufficient reason. The acceptance of these two principles led inevitably to a conception of the universe in which all effects must necessarily be preceded by a sufficient cause. As A causes B, and B causes C, and on and on ad infinitum, we arrive at a conception of universal causation which requires a previous antecedent cause for every subsequent effect. As a the circumstances of a person's birth and life are preceded by and thought to be caused by effects which precede their birth, so too would everything about them, as well as all those decisions which they might make in life, be thereby causally determined by events prior to their conception. The term "causa sui" refers to those acausal instances in which an effect has no previous cause, and is thereby simultaneously both the effect and its own cause. Prior to Newtonian mechanics, God, the will of human beings, and miracles where all thought to occur in this way. (More information:,]

[18:40] Ryan: Kant acknowledges that the "causa sui" quality of the will, cannot be theoretically demonstrated, and doesn't generally conform to our experiences of the natural world, where we perceive causal connectivity to be the norm.

[The impossibility of demonstrating "causa sui" or the self-causation of the will also follows from David Hume's criticism of the indemonstrability of causal connectivity.]

[18:41] Pablo: Indeed.

[18:51] Ryan: Now recall that Kant argued that the practical belief, or postulate, in and for the truth of causal connectivity is a necessary "practical postulate", or hypothesis of human action. Yet, we know from David Hume's criticism that the mere postulate of causal connectivity is not sufficient to theoretically demonstrate determinism, however necessary it may be for the practical belief in deterministic causal laws.

[18:55] Ryan: Here, Kant and I argue that the practical(pr) postulate of a deterministic universe is of no relevance to our ability to otherwise postulate, in our daily actions, the existence of the causa sui quality of and freedom of the Will. This follows because we have already accepted (due to David Hume) that determinism cannot be theoretically(Pr) demonstrated as an a priori law of reason, but must instead be merely presumed as a necessary postulate with which to speculate about the universal laws of natural science(for example Newton's Three Laws of Motion).

[18:58] Ryan: To clarify, we can willfully alternatively adopt the hypothetical postulate of free will and causa sui in our practical moral decisions, so long as there is no a priori and theoretical (Pr) argument which opposes and invalidates these postulates. It is admitted that we cannot practically(pr) postulate a theoretically(Pr) impossible axiom because, we cannot genuinely(with contrite judgment) adopt a practical(pr) postulate which contradicts what we know theoretically(Pr). If we attempted to do so, we would be deceiving ourselves and by acting contrary to our theoretical beliefs without a defensible theoretical justification.

[19:01] Ryan: Now, the English philosopher Galen Strawson argues that there is an a priori reason for not holding the postulate of Free Will to be true. He argues that 1.) causa sui (and Free Will as well) is impossible under deterministic natural causal laws, and 2.) that even if causa sui (and Free Will) were possible postulates of practical reason, then regardless there would be no means of judging according to a "causa sui" free choice, rather than our previously inherited circumstances(mental states, dispositions, biases etc.).

[19:02] Pablo: I see.

[19:01] Ryan: Now there is one further counter-argument which I would like to address. The English philosopher Galen Strawson(the son of the celebrated philosopher P.F. Strawson) argues that there is an a priori reason for not holding the postulate of Free Will to be true. He argues that 1.) causa sui (and Free Will as well) is impossible under deterministic natural causal laws, and 2.) that even if causa sui (and Free Will) were possible postulates of practical reason, then regardless there would be no means of judging according to a "causa sui" free choice, rather than our previously inherited circumstances(mental states, dispositions, biases etc.).

[19:02] Pablo: I see.

[19:03] Ryan: His first argument (1) is shown to be false because he unjustifiably supposes that causa sui is impossible. For causa sui to be impossible, and Strawson's presupposition to be true, determinism would have to be conclusively true and thereby universally binding. However, we have already accepted that it is impossible to demonstrate the truth of determinism. Therefore, neither determinism, nor argument (1) can be justifiably be accepted as true.

[19:04] Ryan: Now, if we postulate determinism as a precondition for natural causal laws, then causa sui and free will cannot be possible. However this postulate is only made necessary as a precondition for the study and understanding of the laws and mechanisms of natural science, and need not be consistently adopted for judgments of practical reason(pr), or moral actions in general. Indeed, it cannot be adopted as a postulate of practical reason(pr) and moral actions, without raising the practical contradiction of believing in determinism while simultaneously acting, as though one were free, to effect some future and conceivably indeterminate cause.

[19:06] Ryan: the second argument (2) is more difficult to refute as it appears to require a conceptual account of cognition which allows for causa sui as well as freely-willed judgments, independent of those previous involuntary facts of inherited biases, dispositions, and mental states. This is the case, because although we might practically(pr) postulate the freedom of the Will, if the freedom of the Will is nonetheless logically and theoretically(Pr) impossible, then we might assuredly come to know theoretically(Pr) that we are merely postulating falsehoods rather than the actual qualities of the cosmos. Further, regardless of our knowledge of our determinism, if the existence of causa sui and the freedom of Will is logically impossible, then no amount of willful protest can overcome our previously inherited determination.

[In the first Critique, Kant offers a helpful distinction between 'transcendental freedom' and 'practical freedom'. Transcendental freedom is that quality of the universe and our minds in which universal causal determinism is false, and human agents are wholly free from the determinism of antecedent causes(what philosophers call 'libertarianism'). Practical freedom is rather the moral freedom to act without a determinate influence from involuntary inclinations(such as concupiscence, lethargy, hunger, or wrathfulness). Kant believes that, whether we could come to or not know of universal determinism and the truth of 'transcendental freedom', is a question of pure theoretical reason(Pr), while acting with moral and 'practical freedom' in our daily affairs is a concern for practical reason(pr).]

[19:10] Ryan: Now, for this argument, in which causa sui and the freedom of the will are impossible, to be universally binding it would be necessary to conclusively show that causa sui is not only impossible in this universe(which was attempted with argument 1 and yet has been shown to be inconclusive), but also that the freedom of the will is metaphysically impossible; or impossible in any possible universe regardless of that particular universes physical laws due to the metaphysically binding laws of logic! [More information:]

[19:10] Pablo: Haha, indeed.

[19:11] Ryan: This raises two questions; 1.) what is the criteria for metaphysical impossibility, and 2.) does the postulate of the causa sui freedom of the will violate these criteria. I should stop to notify you here, that these criteria of metaphysical impossibility are enormously difficult to satisfy because they must be valid and irrefutable a priori - or merely on account of the very laws of logic.

[19:13] Ryan: The most commonly mentioned criteria of metaphysical impossibility is inconceivability. Because we can only conceive of logically possible things, it is generally held that a logical or metaphysically possible thing must similarly be conceivable. If a thing is inconceivable then it is generally thought to violates the laws of logic, and thereby also to be metaphysically possible.

[19:13] Ryan: Now, is causa sui and the freedom of the will conceivable? The answer is Yes! As no antecedent and deterministic cause to our wills can be conceived, human minds must always and everywhere phenomenologically perceive ourselves as willing our actions causa sui. This mere fact alone satisfies the criteria of conceivability for the able functioning of our practical reason(pr).

[This is Kant's, as well as my own, belief which I find to correspond with my inner sensation(or phenomenological perception) of my volition. This is an apodictic or self-evident assertion for which no argument(to my knowledge) can be given. Rather it must be perceived immediately and always by ourselves. It can easily be perceived by envisioning some prior cause which thereby determines your actions. Kant and I believe that this would be impossible to imagine because 1.) no preceding mental event can be perceived as the determining cause of our will to act, and 2.) because even if (1) were true, this would merely be a mental perception of causal connectivity which cannot be held to be true a priori (due to David Hume's critique).]

[19:15] Ryan: Here Galen Strawson aims to raise one final objection; that even if causa sui is phenomenalogically conceivable and functional for practical reason(pr), then it still does not follow that a conceivable account of causa sui, and transcendental freedom, can be given and conceived of theoretically(Pr). Strawson believes that it is necessary to offer a positive theoretical explanation of the transcendental freedom of the Will, for the practical freedom of the Will to be conceivable. If this were true and no positive account could be offered, then it would follow that the practical freedom of the Will is merely illusory and factually unreal. Furthermore, we have already established that neither universal determinism nor the transcendental freedom of the Will can be theoretically demonstrated. However, the indemonstrability of the transcendental freedom of the Will or of universal determinism, is not logically sufficient to conclusively discredit the metaphysical possibility of transcendental freedom or of universal determinism. Instead, we are left, as Socrates so often found himself, in a state of aporia, or a logical and conceptual impasse from which no conclusions can be forthcoming. The indemonstrability of either of these theoretical postulates(Pr) does not invalidate, but instead allows for the free postulation of either hypothesis(determinism or free will) by practical reasoning(pr). It is inconclusive whether Kant believed he had shown that the transcendental freedom of the will was true*, yet and later German idealists believed that he had conclusively saved the practical freedom of the will from the specter of determinism!

[*Although it is apparent from the Critique of Practical Reason that Kant believed he had overcome the problem of free will and determinism, there remains some contention among Kantian scholars, concerning whether Kant believed in the transcendental freedom of the will, or only the practical freedom of the will. Henry Allison in "Kant's Theory of Freedom"(1990), and Derek Pereboom's paper "Kant on Transcendental Freedom" in the journal "Philosophy and Phenomenological Research" argue in favor of Kant's theoretical account of the transcendental freedom of the Will. However, Allen Wood presents Kant as arguing merely for the practical freedom of the Will in "Kant's Compatibilism"(1994).]

[19:19] Ryan: Because our daily actions of practical reasoning (pr) are informed by and generally correspond to the dictates of pure reason(Pr), our practical actions must generally, if not universally, obey the theoretical determinations of pure reason(Pr). To postulate that we have the freedom of the will, is not mere wishful thinking. Rather, the inherent unknowability of the truth or falsity of either determinism or causa sui, requires that we make this practical postulate. Further, we need only to postulate this as an axiom of practical reason(pr), to act with the belief in free will and moral responsibility in our daily affairs.

[Kant will argue further that, although we might theoretically believe in determinism, we nonetheless cannot act with practical consistency while holding this practical understanding. To do so would result in a practical(pr) (rather than logical or theoretical(Pr)) contradiction in which we should simultaneously act with the understanding that we were both free and not free.]

[19:21] Ryan: To conclude, if it is conceivable, and thereby possible, to postulate without a logical fallacy the causa sui freedom of the will, and for this reason it may thereby be freely postulated without practical(pr) or theoretical contradiction(Pr).

[19:22] Ryan: With this line of argument, the apparent conflict between determinism and free will is resolved.

[19:23] Pablo Vasquez: Absolutely fascinating.

[With this argument concluded, I implore all you who read this to daily act with the genuine confidence in your transcendental freedom to dutifully obey your very own self-legislating moral duties. Proclaim far and wide the philosophic gospel of Immanuel Kant.]

Dedication to Immanuel Kant:
Kant described overwhelming and terrifying aesthetic delight as a feeling of the sublime. If an undiluted insight into the very nature of cognition and reality can ring with the same finality as a new and harmonious melody, then I should loudly proclaim that the three great critiques of Immanuel Kant are surely the most sublime work of recorded human ingenuity. Now I feel assured that the mind actively synthesizes the perceptions of space and time into a coherent apperceptive unity. I have theoretically confirmed what I had heretofore known only in practice; that I am, at every moment, bound by the apodictic rational duty to my own self-legislating moral law, yet simultaneously practically free from the determination of outside causal forces.

I still find it astonishing to have had the philosophic dilemmas of my youth dismantled and thereafter reconstituted so as to grant my mind a brilliant new awareness of space, time, cognition, freedom, beauty, and the moral law. Johann Gottlieb Fichte confided a similar feeling to his friend in 1790 upon reading the three critiques: "I have been living in a new world ever since reading the Critique of Practical Reason... Propositions which I thought could never be overturned have been overturned for me. Things have been proven to me which I thought could not be proven - concepts of absolute freedom, and the concept of duty. I feel all the happier for it." The arrival of this insight was entirely unmerited, as it might have heretofore been imagined that our discursive and unruly intellects should have struggled unendingly with these intransigent paradoxes. That their answer should have been so fittingly and perspicaciously revealed gives me a renewed and ever-greater hope for our future, as well as a far deeper respect for the inestimable potential of Man's angelic reason.

All glorie and honor we give to thee o' Kant whose miraculous theophanie hast sav'd Mankind from the devastating skepticism of David Hume. Praise Kant! Zuruck zu Kant! Praise Kant! Hallow'd is his name forever and ever.

Paul Harvey's "Immanuel Kant with Flowers and Painting"
Acrylic on canvas, 92 x 71cm