lex naturalis

with novelty lies freedom

Until this point, whenever I made a mistake in one of my posts I'd go back and silently redact it through the edit function. I figured I could get away with doing this because my readership so far has been little more than 'me, myself, and I' in shameful self-indulgence, and the occasional poor soul stumbling over my content on the Write.as public feed. Even so, to the ends of accountability and following through on the odd personal ideal of mine, and in a more remote sense to contribute to this project, that's not something I should be doing. In short, it's unnecessarily lazy, and somewhat dishonest. Going forward, I'll either do what I intend to do here and address myself, adding comments and redacting in a separate post, or append to the end of a post a list of relevant edits alongside links to archived earlier instances of it. So, what fuck-up did I make here? It's not a mistake per se, likely nothing I'd have to apologize to anyone for in a personal context. This post 'properly' speaking intends to be a theoretical refinement, as one of my earlier posts (yes, the one referred to in the title, surprisingly) draws on a notion I find obsolete, and which is founded on certain false or dubious presumptions. I'm sure with some mental gymnastics on my part and forgiveness on the reader's said presumptions are contextually justifiable, but that's not really a recipe for a long-term relationship, is it? If I want this project to live a long life I'll have to address myself properly. I can't do anything but treat the erroneous content in question as a mistake to be openly rectified. The object of refutation is here what is meant by, as I wrote,

Things accorded the title of common sense and basic human decency may right now not be what we say they are. Being basic and common, they're the first to fall away when we really want to denigrate somebody as a person.

It's not so much that we're prone to refuse a person the basic when we want to denigrate them. Few consciously do this, knowing what they're doing. I know, and I know precisely when I've done it. I suspect that with a healthy conscience and the awareness of what detracting the basic means you'd be regretting doing so immensely. I'd say most people have at least the capacity for a healthy conscience. It then stands to reason that most of the time it's not that we decide to deprive a person of the basic with malicious intent. It's simply that we're unaware of the severity of such a move. Basic decency and common sense in this view retain their character. Presuming that it's conscious evil that motivates depriving somebody of their personhood is committing to an unhealthy fatalism and a subtle moralization on my part, as it shuts out from the outset the possibility that it's simply ignorance of the character of one's actions that underlies somebody's doing so. More importantly, however, it shuts out the possibility that I could do anything reasonable about this. If you're intent on evil, then, well, what could I do to stop you that wasn't equally heinous, if not worse? If I posit that you're simply ignorant, however, lending a helping hand through informing you of the potential dangers of your behavior becomes possible.

I'll lastly note that this post has itself been edited a few times, but for the most part to clarify ambiguous statements, and rectify bad grammar and structuring, to the end of improving readability. The only exception is that I changed “If you're intent on evil, then, well, what could I do to stop you that wasn't equally heinous, if not worse?” from “[...] then, well, what could I ever do?” This, because positing that a person is intent on evil is depriving them the right to be intent on good, and evil, to what sees itself as irreducibly good, always necessitates radical action, as has been stressed several times already.

What is this?

The ideas here concern themselves not first of all with morality, but can be applied across a large span of contexts. I'm dealing with morality because it's related to the project. I just want to note this so it's not assumed that I'm making the case that moral universality is somehow different from conceptual universality in general, as this might be used to infer that I'm out to abuse moral relativism. On the contrary, I write this more in service of the pursuit of a moral living. The point of this post is to show that the search for or attempt to 'prove' an objective morality is in a sense putting the cart before the horse. To that end I'm levvying a more abstract philosophical thesis concerning itself with the logical limits of objectiva, generalities, and universals. The predicate of objectivity supposes that we can know the thing as it is. The search for the objective is the search for the thing as such. The search for an objective morality is then the search for morality as such. I will show that this search is irreducibly contradictory, and thereby prove that the pursuit or even notion of an objective morality is logically impossible. If the objective is what is true about a thing always, then the thing's character must be self-evident. It seems to me that if we suppose that the objective in a thing has to be sought, then we either admit to an irreducible fallibility of sense-perception in its immediacy, in which case there's no guarantee that our sense for the objective, as reliant on separating confusion from reality in sense-data, is eternally true, or the thing can't be said to be wholly objective, which similarly ruins the idea that we can know the thing as such. The thing's self-attestation has to be taken as its 'as such', if we want our idea of its objectivity to remain logically consistent. How this relates to the search for an objective morality is as follows: The person seeking an objective morality must either conclude his findings to be not objective, or the objectivity of the law derived must be tentative. In either case, morality, like the thing, can't be finally said to be what it is. What ethic informs one's living must, if it is to be reasonably considered reasonable, admit, either post-hoc through force of circumstance or pre-emptive acceptance, to the possibility that neither finality nor certainty can be ultimately accorded any prized value. An interesting question to ask at this point is: Should an ethic be reasonable? I'll deal with this at a later date.

What is this?

Things accorded the title of common sense and basic human decency may right now not be what we say they are. Being basic and common, they're the first to fall away when we really want to denigrate somebody as a person. Depriving a person of their personhood is the most effective course of conceptual action if you want to eradicate them. Foregoing common courtesy may be the first step of a self-radicalizing departure from healthy autoimmunity. The question of basic human decency and when to accord it is not a question of justification. It is a precondition of a 'just' decision that there is an agreed-upon baseline of just, polite, etc. The question of basic human decency is the question of the standard. Even worse for health than depriving a single person ('unpersoning' them) of the basic is questioning the basic itself. Doing so is generative of discord and delirium. In a time of high social discord, the necessity for a discourse that transcends the former standard and establishes a new one becomes self-evident, if relative civility and peace is to be reattained at some point. Here an appeal to justification and the 'reasonable'-ness of one's beliefs becomes futile, as the call won't be answered unequivocally by common sense — as it's no longer common — or in the extreme case even by law. To clamor about right, just, and fair in a space characterized by its increasing decoherence makes, strictly speaking, no sense. As in, any hypothetical opposing sides don't understand the others' logic. The only thing that could potentially resolve a situation of the sort is: (1.) The opening of a discussion which tries to establish a standard, and (2.) Reminding oneself that appealing to the basic is for the time being senseless. If this doesn't happen, I see the ever-increasing discord as resulting in a senseless and suicidal war. Avoiding this is hard, but not impossible. I wouldn't be talking about it if I didn't think there were a possibility that it might happen. This because being the one to open a discussion isn't without benefit. The first to lend a helping hand or open their ears less conditionally is the one likely have the largest share in setting the new standard.

What is this?

A contradiction seems to have arisen in this project. In the last post, and the one before that, I invoke two notions of freedom. The first deals with freedom, as the freedom of radical removal, of radical violence, enabled by the purely emancipatory idea. The second occurs in the context of my discourse on fatalism, where fatalism in completeness appears as opposed to the project of life, which is made by freedom. If freedom is an irreducible characteristic of the act of living, then the freedom to radical removal can't be anything but life. For example, actual emancipatory ideas (still not necessarily of the progressive sort, though) are often underpinned by a conditional fatalism, one that hasn't entirely closed the space of discourse, but allows the possibility for life, as the possibility of freedom, through one's freedom to engage in radical removal — “More life is to be had after the removal of what restricts it,” As I in a very personal sense see said freedom as something heinous, I'm inclined to try do away with it moralistically. Put another way, I'm inclined to lie about the freedom of radical removal as something inherent to and fully enabled by the freedom of life at large, to try hide it from you (as the only way I could do away with a possibility is to make you unaware of its existence). The logical impossibility of an essentialism in the form of an appeal to nature here does not stop us from making a reasoned conclusion regarding the health of the individuated system and its relation to autoimmunity, though. Reiterating the argument made in The Excesses of Gatekeeping, the vitality of the individuated system can be as much threatened by radical autoimmunity as it is by intrusion of the exiled object. The case can be made, without recourse to moralistic lies, that radical autoimmunity is detrimental to the individuated system. No contradiction is found if this project doesn't stake its legitimacy how well it clings to a moral fixity, which I at the time of spotting the 'contradiction', were intent on having it do. Lastly, the content of this post might not seem all that related to the project, and in the direct sense it isn't. More indirectly, however, it's incredibly relevant, as it illustrates that the author struggles with moralizing attitudes and pathological desperation. I post this with the intent to show that the project of health is not just some abstract praxis, but in addition a struggle exceedingly personal. This is done to clear the way for a discourse that, although evidently anonymous and one-sided, is also close, human, and built on trust, civility, and honesty — all values I think I have reason to think serve individual health best.

What is this?

The solely emancipatory idea has as its object the removal of a self-insistent object whose nature is contrary to and prevents some freedom. The emancipatory idea as such exists only to enable the possibility of freedom from the object. That is to say that its only purpose is to oppose. The freedom of the emancipatory idea is the freedom to postulate the free and radical removal of the undesired object. That is to say, the freedom of pure emancipation is the freedom of radical removal, and the enactment of the emancipatory idea is no more than radical removal, no more than a pronouncing of radical autoimmunity as a project of personal or interpersonal freedom. The general character of the emancipatory idea despite the wording can't be equated with possessing progressive ideals. A person can be progressive without recoursing to the radical autoimmunity of pure liberation. I hold the emancipatory idea to be relatively detached from political ideals and personality traits. The potential for radical autoimmunity exists in every individuated system, because of the latter's being constituted in part by autoimmunity. Any individuated system constituting itself through a language of autoimmunity has the potential for an emancipatory outbreak, as “fighting a confused war with the environment”. At this point the virtues and vices of autoimmunity have been thoroughly illustrated. For this project, this constellation of knowledge begs the following questions: What conditions give rise to unhealthy autoimmunity? Can we do anything about it? If so, what? And last, but certainly not least: Should anything be done about it?

What is this?

In this post I wanna indulge a more ethereal discussion. I don't intend to make these the norm, as I feel writing abstractly works against the point of rhetorical writing. Delving into discussion of abstract matters only seems justified insofar as this project is goal-oriented and the discussion moves us closer to the goal. Clarity's valued not just because it makes 'swallowing the pill' easier, but because an actionable policy, which I hope this project will eventually inform, has to be expressed in terms that're swallow-able. So, what justifies an abstract discussion here? In the project introduction I write that 'health' is a guiding idea. Naturally, then, the object of a discourse of fatalism pertaining to this project has to be unhealthy fatalism. But first, why deal with the topic of fatalism at all? What is it about the idea that affects our health to such an extent that I can justify 'dealing' with it? First of all, the fatalism I talk about here means that an event'll come to pass, and no more. I detach the term from its association with negative valuation to free it from the clutches of moralizing optimism. Fatalism 'proper', which will be dealt with here, names the certainty a person might have about their preconceptions, as to their their finality, and in the event the preconception is about an event, its inevitability. It's at this point one can start to see what fatalism has to do with a project of health. Life as such 'happens', meaning that insofar as vitality is concerned, the attitude I hold toward the event is decisive. To the extent that fatalism concerns the event, it concerns life. What about fatalism is concerning? If our certainty regarding the arrival of an event is itself deemed final, or as Derrida says, the letter reaches only its proper address, the thought of freedom is lost. Paradoxically, fatalism becomes pathological (as a fatal '-ism', maybe?) when it finalizes itself and becomes 'true', when our attitude toward the event as such is no longer made by the awareness that our experiences can't exhaustively describe reality, and finds itself made whole by the irrevocable faith of the ideologue and the zealot. One can see here a connection to the philosophical project of which Derrida and many of his contemporaries were exponents, that similarly stressed the potential dangers of endogenous systems of thought. This connection is one I'll deal with at length at a later date, seeing as it's not only interesting to me in a philosophical sense, but also highly relevant to this project since a lot of the current political climate has as its ancestry the post-structuralist 'school'. For now, though, a nod to their work will suffice. Going back to the topic at hand, “Experience dictates,” but it shouldn't have the final say. Once an organization is considered as the only way a set of bodies, ethereal or corporeal, could possibly be organized, the idea is opposed to freedom, and thus to the foundation of everything which actively lives. Life, as the act of living, propagates only where there can be an excess, an outlier, a novelty, something divergent, or an energetic difference, and so is threatened by anything that would do away with the potential for these. In keeping with the line of thought I try to trace through this post, before we concoct a social antidote to pathology, we should consider doing so an involved and complex process, deserving of deliberation and direct attention. Pathologies, while of one simple nature in the abstract (as 'complex'), need in actuality to be dealt with on a context-to-context basis using methodologies provisionally, lest we both contribute to create a subpar solution and contribute to the problem. Here neither empathy, which is always far too naïve, nor exile, which is always radically ignorant, will do. The complexity of how to go about improving life while disrespecting neither the person nor communities necessitates we continually broaden the space of discourse. This is something I intended to effect through the introduction of this project, and will hopefully continue to actively attempt. The latter is vital, because opposing this project to the potential pathologies of the world in a moralizing final turn would contribute to the problem, doing little more than generating a pathology of its own in regarding the potential evil of fatalism (and more worryingly, by extension the fatalist) irredeemable and deserving only of a whole-sale condemnation. In a sense, this project ends neither with nor at this blog.

What is this?

Please, log off. Digital hygiene, practiced as a sort of one-off spring cleaning, or a ritual effected by the magic of a browser extension just isn't enough. The apps you use don't make or break your mental health. Neither do the particularities of whatever tech. What in the first place determines what effect a technological phenomenon has on your psyche is, unsurprisingly, the mentality and intent with which you approach the thing. This conception isn't as concrete as “Only use your phone for thirty minutes a day for good digital hygiene,” but it's correct. If we're to have a functional ethic of social media usage we need to start here. Technology doesn't necessarily dominate us; That's a fatalist conception which prevents from the outset any sort of reckoning with tech on equal terms, and the creation of a resolution to the problems it poses for the west. Technology may or may not dominate us, depending on how we approach it. It should be considered our responsibility to leave what doesn't contribute to our individualities alone, and this especially so online. Keep your interactions with the 'public at large', as timeline or public persona, to the vital and near-vital. We think of the internet as the most casual thing because it's instantaneous and easy. This a dangerously naïve attitude, because it almost never lasts. Convenient solutions are for the most part quickly absorbed into our daily routines as nothingnesses only worth our concern when they break. God bless us should the shadow of the innocent face of the internet ever rear its ugly mug. That the internet 'simplifies' what was an overtly complex and insanely drawn-out process in the not-so-distant past should give you an idea of the sheer efficiency and scale of what we're dealing with. Until people feel no longer feel social media as a superfluous luxury and technology in general is treated with the seriousness it deserves, the 'problem' of how to correctly do digital hygiene will persist. There's no quick-fix here, but it's also not more complicated than respecting your tools and handling them with care.

What is this?

Online sub-cultures have an innate (read: necessary) tendency to generate self-policing language. What's fascinating about this language of autoimmunity is that while policing internal affairs, it almost always does so by making reference to an externalized phenomenon. While vital to the coherence of the in-group and its culture, this sort of delineation can pose a problem just as threatening to the culture's vitality as the intrusion of those elements which one in the first instance deems unwanted. The tendency is with culture-policing language, as with the simulacrum, for its initially external reference to become increasingly abstract, 'hyperreal', something that exceeds and removes itself from the origin. What differentiates autoimmunizing language from the simulacrum, is that alongside the abstraction of its outward (overt) reference, the former has an inward (covert) reference, which by the same process becomes increasingly referential to a 'personal sin', as it were. This double movement of autoimmunizing language shares features with the psychological process which give rise to projection. That's to say, the character of a sub-culture is constituted in part by a social mechanism analogous to the projection-making factor. In Jung, what one finds socially undesirable in oneself is thrown into the realm of the unconscious, where it assumes the form of the shadow archetype. The individuated crowd doesn't have an unconscious of this sort, though, so it's wrong to equate the two on the whole. The shadow of the sub-culture isn't the actual other that the constituent consciously separates themselves from, but the virtual other that manifests and propagates internally to the group by and through the autoimmunizing language. Herein lies the problem of the problem, so to speak. My personhood, because it's enveloped at least partially in a linguistic order and so by necessity somewhat dependent on making sense of itself by delineating an actual other, is constituted by the virtual other. The virtual other threatens the vitality of the organized and individuated system because it's what escapes its organization while also structuring it, as a sort of living boundary-condition. This leaves the virtual other able to pose a wall in front of me that I can't even see. This leads me to the moral of the... post? In large part I think the issue with fandoms, if there is one, is that the fervor with which they engage a subject matter tends to lead to indiscriminate autoimmunity. Both sub-cultures and their environment stand to gain from the sub-culture's being aware of the dangers of internal language policing and policing by way of language. The first because an unmediated virtual other will with time lead to the collapse of the group (most likely precipitated by an inward violence reminiscent of purity-spiralling), without any constituent being any the wiser as to what happened. Moreover, if after the collapse there're survivors intent on reviving the group, they're virtually guaranteed to repeat the mistake of the first. The second because autoimmunizing language is in the first instance outwardly referential. There's always a chance that before the sub-culture implodes their radicalization will lead to their fighting a confused war with the environment.

What is this?

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