greg (grysar) wrote,
greg
grysar

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Philosophy exercise: call for critiques

So, regyt once told me that philosphy was a meta area of study, that it explored and discovered caves/topics like politics, biology, economics, and moved on while those less meta subjects explored their own cave in depth. I'm not doing full justice to the eloquence of the metaphor, but I think that gets the point across.

In that case I believe this is an exercise in philosophy. I propose, against all comers, an analytic system for understanding effective human action. Specifically for describing codes, honor, moral systems, political systems, economic systems, religions, and the like. I do not seek to describe the actions of animals, unthinking objects, computers, or any other entity that doesn't meet my human-centric definition of self-consciousness.

Namely:
All these systems humans follow hold two opposing but also reinforces forces: power and principles.

Power is both creative and destructive. It gives us drive and is tested in the forge that is reality. Thus it changes as the world changes, for the power of a cave man is not the power of a modern human. It can be internal: sharpness of mind, force of will or strength of body. It can be external: weapons, money, technology, God or gods. It can even be a fundamental rejection of the world and a realization of some truer plane.

Principles are rules, conscious or unconscious. They are restrictions on the means we can employ. They are not goals in and of themselves, except that some goals deny us certain means or demand we use others. They are law, the golden rule, cultural mandates, and the like.

Both of these aspects are necessary. Moreover in an effective system they both must be balanced. Power needs the channel of principle or it will become corrupted: see absolute power or hedonism. Principles alone will lack the ability to achieve their goals or they will stagnate without the renewal of power.

As you get into complex economic or political systems the model can be applied, but complex systems will often have multiple sub-systems that need to check and mutually reinforce one another.

So here are my contentions:

  1. This model is quite helpful in understanding what makes an effective system.
  2. This model can be applied to any of the systems I've described above.
  3. This model can not be simplified to contain only a single force and it need not be expanded to contain three or more.
  4. This model is a better window for understanding these systems than other dichotomies: individual/society; order/chaos; good/evil; good/bad; rationality/emotion.
  5. Any effective system must have both of these aspects and they both must be strong forces in and of themselves.



So, I need a quick nap and I'm also smug, so I'll skip the examples for now. I invite anyone to challenge any of my contentions or any other contentions they think are implied. And if you provide me a system, I'll give my breakdown.

Addendum due to Ard's threat of violence. (Note, there's lots of variety, I'll just go with a common one I think of.)

SystemPowerPrinciples
Christianity (old school)GodStrict code of sacrifice and golden rule.
BuddhismEnlightenment/Seeing through illusion of realityRejecting atachment.
CapitalismSelf-interest; hard work; competition; entrepeneurshipBasic market rules: no violence, no monopolies, etc.
Theoretical communismHard work; power in the hand of the workers; collective effortWork all you can; don't take more than you need.
TotalitarianismCentralized power without restrictions; government can guide colleective energy of entire society; shaping of individuals to best serve countries needUnquestioning devotion to leader; leader servers interest of people
DemocracyPower is in people's handMust accept results of elections; follow election rules; majority must try to serve interests of all
UtilitarianismAll means are available when appropriateMeans/ends together must server greater good
Natural lawCore desires and needs of humanityDon't infringe on other's core needs in most cases
KantianMoral strength; positive example influences othersDon't do anything that you aren't willing to have someone else do
NihilismRejection of no-win worldDon't give a shit.
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