2.25.2012

Unnatural Relations V


The term Free Market, as it is usually used, is only an abstraction. In reality, there are only particular markets that exist within particular social contexts and arrangements. We should therefore see the market as the servant of the community in which it exists. This makes it necessary to analyze the market as primarily a function of communal relations that enables a type of political flourishing, political, in this context, meaning the group qua group.

For modern Americans, this may seem inimical to what their conception of the free market entails. To speak of the needs of the community might appear to be merely a socialist mimicry. I would ascribe this line of thought to two sources. The first is actual socialism. Socialism has done much to destroy the notion of the common good. Whereas the common good might have once enjoyed a prominent position in discussions of political economy, it is now seen, at least by many modern conservatives, as antithetical to private property and personal liberty. The second is liberalism, broadly speaking. This would include many strains of what we would call conservative thought. Perhaps because of the prevalence of socialism, or perhaps for independent reasons, Americans subscribe to an ideology of individualism wherein the individual must assert his rights against any and all who are perceived to make a claim on him. When this is coupled with the efforts of the modern state to eliminate any form of social organization that might provide a bulwark between it and individual people, the idea of the common good becomes either misused or too thin to have any real content.

When the state enacts policies of multiculturalism, seeks to actively alter the demographics of its own country, enforces, through popular culture, a materialism that encourages mobility for the sake of success as the pinnacle of virtue, and when it eliminates any federative principle by which its authority might be removed to more local governing bodies, the need to assert the rights of the individual might seem of paramount importance. In reality, however, it only reinforces the idea that the modern state and the individual are the only viable political actors. Since any form of local government, that is, government which is actually a part of the people it represents, has been rendered impotent in this country for some time now, the only organizations left with power are the national state and any corporate entity wealthy enough to manipulate the state. Neither body is loyal to any person or place, so we are left with a thoroughly devastated notion of the market existing for the sake of the community. This does not mean, though, that we should adjust our conception of the free market and how it relates to human justice, it means that all of the aforementioned impediments and ideologies must be removed before any sane discussion can begin.

2.16.2012

Parts and Wholes

We must remember that a natural compound is the unity of its matter and form. Inasmuch as prime matter and substantial form are united, they exist as one thing, meaning that they constitute no reality that is separate and apart. We can construct an argument for such a thesis:

1.If natural things were not essentially the unification of prime matter and substantial form, then the natural thing would itself some third thing.

2.This third thing, as an actuality, would be the act of the unity of matter and form.

3.Substantial form, though, is the first act by which prime matter is rendered actual.

4.Therefore, this third act, supposedly constituting the unity of matter and form as an actual natural compound, would be an act apart from the substantial form.

5.It must be, therefore, an accidental form.

6.An accidental form, then, would constitute a natural thing in existence, which cannot be, since substantial form is prior to accidental form.

7.Therefore, the natural thing just is the unity of prime matter and substantial form.

2.03.2012

A Rebuttal to Modernity

Our Duties are Revealed by Our Relations to One Another

You are not an isolated entity, but a unique, irreplaceable part of the cosmos. Don’t forget this. You are an essential piece of the puzzle of humanity. Each of us is part of a vast, intricate, and perfectly ordered human community. But where do you fit into this web of humanity? To whom are you beholden?

Look for and come to understand you connection to other people. We properly locate ourselves within the cosmic scheme by recognizing our natural relations to one another and thereby identifying our duties. Our duties naturally emerge from such fundamental relations as our families, neighborhoods, workplaces, our state or nation. Make it your regular habit to consider your roles – parent, child, neighbor, citizen, leader – and the natural duties that arise from them. Once you know who you are and to whom you are linked, you will know what to do.

If a man is your father, for instance, certain emotional and practical claims follow from this. That he is your father implies a fundamental, durable link between the two of you. You are naturally obligated to care for him, to listen to his advice, to exercise patience in hearing his views, and to respect his guidance…

…Most people tend to delude themselves into thinking that freedom comes from doing what feels good or what fosters comfort and ease. The truth is that people who subordinate reason to their feelings of the moment are actually slaves of their desires and aversions. They are ill-prepared to act effectively and nobly when unexpected challenges occur, as they inevitably will.

Authentic freedom places demands on us. In discovering and comprehending our fundamental relations to one another and zestfully performing our duties, true freedom, which all people long for, is indeed possible.
 
-Epictetus