Philosophy

Is prostitution wrong?

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I’ve recently had a debate on this blog post concerning the ethics of prostitution. Several people have a different opinion than I do  on the matter. Here is my unified theorem on why I believe prostitution is wrong.

First, let’s address sex itself with regards to men. The power of sex is at once vastly understated in our society while at the same time referred to all too often. Modern society believes that sex is a toy. In reality it has the power to make people  miserable both in its abundance and in its absence. Women especially, in modern society and in the age of sexual freedom are numb to the power that sex has over men. Oh, they know that men look at them for too long when they wear a low-cut blouse, but in no way is the power that sex has over men properly and formally explained to them. Mostly they gain their dim understanding of sexuality from pop culture. The women find that they enjoy the attention they get from men when they wear revealing clothing or are flirtatious, but this belies any wisdom about the matter. Some of these women paradoxically believe that sex is not important while believing that being in control of sex proves they are strong women.   Some women use sex to punish or control their husbands or boyfriends. If they do this, they clearly do not understand the power of sex, and are asking for a good bit of trouble for themselves. It’s difficult enough for men to go without sex, but if he feels that a woman is so cruel as to use his weakness to hurt him, he may look elsewhere.

As most readers will know, I am a Christian and thus take a Christian perspective. I am admittedly bias on the matter. But I must also add that I am human and subject to the same biological forces as non-Christian men. I sympathize with them in regards to their argument that they want sex and believe that prostitutes offer a reasonable outlet for sexuality.

Let’s consider the libido, as like a hunger for food. When we grow hungry, we eat,  and find satiety. Over time we grow hungry again. Suppose a person is very hungry. He or she has not eaten all day and has worked hard. Is it better that they grab a bag of chips, a soda, and a candy bar to assuage their hunger, or that they wait for a while until a proper meal can be prepared? They’re not in a situation where they are likely to starve to death. Most people would agree that a cooked meal at home is better than succumbing to the pull of junk food. I remember having a discussion with a friend of mine when we were in college. He said his professor told him that the urge for sex is greater than the urge for food. This is laughable and clearly shows the kind of people that in many cases are teaching the soft heads of college students. It reveals a society that has become soft, and thus thinks about sex, all the time, anytime. Anyone who’s been hungry, really hungry, knows the last thing on the mind is sex. We can go a day without sex. Try going without food for even 24 hours. Not only does the mind focus entirely on food in this case, but a person’s hormonal profile changes greatly. The procurement of food is far above sex on the hierarchy of needs. Join the military and find out.

I realize that I have not yet proven or even offered an argument that prostitution is sexual junk food;  I will, though I suspect that even the proponents of prostitution will agree that sex with a prostitute is not the heights of possible relationships. Just keep the idea in mind as you read my article.

The primary argument from people that support the legitimization of prostitution is that in its pure form, no one gets hurt. The john pays for a service which the prostitute willingly provides, and as with all things in a free market both parties gain. But there’s a tricky thing about sex, I think. It can harm us even when we don’t know it’s harming us. The pleasure it provides masks the power it has over our conscience and sub-conscience mind.  I refute the idea that no one is hurt. As a matter of observation, there are few people in America more emotionally damaged, generally speaking, than willing prostitutes. Marina Adshade writes:

Research suggests that promiscuity is not associated with increased happiness and, in fact, that the number of sexual partners needed to maximize happiness is exactly one…So if sex makes us happy then surely, if variety really is the spice of life, having more sexual partners must make us happier. Well it doesn’t. People with more sexual partners are less happy than those who have just one…Men who use prostitutes are also less happy. That is, promiscuous people are less happy.

There are several studies that show a relationship between promiscuity and depression, as well as other psychological problems. Promiscuity is not causative in these cases, but it certainly seems to be one ingredient in a stew of unhappiness. Now, take the unhappiness generated in a promiscuous life and turbo-charge it by making it one’s job to be promiscuous. The result? Women with the same psychological profile as soldiers suffering from shell shock: 

In a study to be presented today at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in San Francisco, researchers interviewed almost 500 prostitutes from around the world and discovered that two-thirds suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. In contrast, the condition is found in less than 5 percent of the general population. Studies of veterans of combat in the Vietnam War have found that the disorder may be diagnosed in 20 percent to 30 percent, about half of whom have long-term psychiatric problems.

”Essentially, we need to view prostitution itself as a traumatic stressor,” said Dr. Melissa Farley, a psychologist and researcher at the Kaiser-Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco who directed the study with colleagues from Turkey and Africa.

Moreover, another study showed that prostitutes have a death rate far surpasses the norm. Indeed, female prostitutes die at a rate 5.9 times greater than the general population in the same age group. This rate is triple the rate for the most dangerous job (fisherman) listed by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The argument of course, is that the specific act of sex in exchange for money is not wrong, even of the surrounding facts show that prostitution in a dangerous trade. My retort is manifold: First, as I wrote prior, studies show, and my own anecdotal experience around women known to be promiscuous shows, that multiple sex partners damages us psychologically. Second, this argument is the result of a sickness in the thinking of the modern mind, a sickness that has infected even our sciences: It is the pathology of Cartesian reductionism. Reductionists believe that by breaking down complex systems into individual parts, they can understand the the system as a whole. This sounds good, but in practice, the more complex the system, the less rewarding is reductionism. The reductionist view assumes one knows about all the parts in the first place and fails to comprehend that individual parts are changed in nature by other individual parts.  Reductionists also tend to believe their theories, real-world experience be damned. Many reductionists refuse to acknowledge that their inputs are inadequate, thus their outputs are faulty. In truth, complex systems must often be viewed in a holistic manner, acknowledging emergence.

Peter Corning, a systems scientist explains:

Even in a chess game, you cannot use the rules to predict “history” — i.e., the course of any given game. Indeed, you cannot even reliably predict the next move in a chess game. Why? Because the “system” involves more than the rules of the game. It also includes the players and their unfolding, moment-by-moment decisions among a very large number of available options at each choice point. The game of chess is inescapably historical, even though it is also constrained and shaped by a set of rules, not to mention the laws of physics. Moreover, and this is a key point, the game of chess is also shaped by teleonomiccybernetic, feedback-driven influences. It is not simply a self-ordered process; it involves an organized, “purposeful” activity.[Corning, Peter, The Reemergence of Emergence, 2002]

To say that the compartmented act of sex for money causes no harm is not useful, because everywhere we look, we see that drug use, robbery, disease, and early death (among other things) are the lot of the prostitute. Separating the individual aspects of prostitution amounts to saying that being a soldier is easy, because marching is easy. There’s a quite a bit more to it, though. Human psychology and social systems are incredibly complex.

We can see that prostitution denies the prostitute as well as the john (unless the act is kept secret) access to the one institution that is perhaps more strongly associated with happiness than any other: Marriage. Despite our cynicism, the happiest people in the world are happily married people. Additionally, marriage has a strong impact on individuals’ economic status, and the well-being of children. In other words, the best way to be happy, keep your money, and ensure the success of your children is to get married and stay married. But who marries a prostitute, except maybe her pimp? The wife of a john is sure to be displeased and end the marriage if she finds out about his activities. Thus, prostitution prevents people from taking part in an important institution.

Charles Murray on the sexual revolution and marriage. 

The easy argument against prostitution is that it spreads STDs. But yet again, many take a reductionist view and say that, yes, prostitutes should use protection, but that doesn’t’ make the act itself wrong. And yet, in a world inundated with access to condoms and the talk of their use, STDs among prostitutes even in first world nations runs rampant. One report states that 57% of prostitutes in Newark New Jersey are HIV positive. At one point in the 19th century, 75% of men in New York City had an STD of some sort.  Is it difficult to imagine why historical societies frowned on prostitution, even if they tolerated it? Especially in the days before antibiotics. When promiscuity involves large populations being killed off, I’d say that’s a moral issue. In Thailand, a country well-known for its sex trade, the prevalence of HIV-positive people went from 100 infected persons in 1984, to 28% of all brothel-based prostitutes being HIV-positive. Even if 99% of all prostitutes used condoms every time, the disease would still spread fairly rapidly. One human vector is all that’s needed in a promiscuous population, and prostitution is promiscuity on steroids.

Prostitution is perceived as social chaos, even if only subliminally. Where there is open prostitution there will also be increased rates of theft, robbery, rape, and murder. Criminal minds sense the permissive environment in which prostitution thrives, and that disorder inevitably begets more disorder, as James Q Wilson explained in his Broken Window Theory. Most human beings know that paying for sex, and the subtle yet dangerous emanations that emit from prostitution is not the desired state of human existence. Even the paying johns view their act as a form of addiction, and a fatalistic surrender to the tides of blanched misery. this is true from Las Vegas, to Kiev to Bangkok. For no human, no matter the depths of his or her cynicism, can bury fully the knowledge that sex is important and should be treated as such.  After all, we all exist because of sex.

I have shown that promiscuity is associated with unhappiness and that marriage and stable relationships are associated with happiness. We know that children are much better off with both parents present, and it’s easy to believe that prostitution cheapens meaningful relationships such as marriage.  I have shown that prostitutes tend me be miserable and die a very high rate, that deadly STDs have been spread and are still spread through the practice. Also, that complex systems cannot always be understood by understanding their individual parts.

As such, prostitution should be discouraged by society, even if not criminalized. This is not an easy task in the post-sexual revolution period, in which sex was reduced to the mere mechanical interactions of body parts. The reductionists have had their day. But the damages wrought by the sexual revolution are beyond the scope of this article. Suffice to say we value marriage less, and the statistics and anecdote exists to support that children and thus society have suffered, and will suffer more. The acceptance of prostitution is viewed by the young as an argument from silence. It tells the next generation that the very kernal of human society–the family–is meaningless. And beyond a sufficient human society is Hobbes’ “state of nature”, the howling wildernesses that make up many of the countries of Africa and South America, where life is nasty, brutish and short.

 

 

 

 

Science vs God Episode II: Does Atheism Poison Everything?

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Here’s a debate between Christopher Hitchens and Dr. David Berlinski, an admitted secular Jew who does not practice any religion. He does however have advanced degrees in mathematics and philosophy. Hitchens’ reputation is well known.

In this debate, two debate the opposite proposition that Hitchens made in one of his books, that religion poisons everything.

When science makes people stop asking questions

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If you haven’t heard, Richard Dawkins has a problem with religion. He says his primary complaint with religion is that it makes people stop asking questions. Dawkins:

Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.

My religion never had this effect on me. In fact, every bit of science that i learn about feels like I am learning something about the character of God. That’s important to me.

It may be the case, and this is only a theory, that science in the modern day falls more in line with Dawkins’ assertion, than does religion, at least in Western countries. And by science I do not mean the scientific process, or empirical, direct evidence. I mean the mere label of science and its effect on the laymen. As long as the headline reads, “Study shows” or “scientists say”, there’s not a whole lot of consideration that goes into whether there are holes in the conclusions. Another problem is that much is lost in the translation between scientific journal and popular media headline.  Of course, many times the scientists are correct.

Humans, and thus scientists, are very good at producing tests and using empirical evidence to draw conclusions about specific, short term phenomena. They are not so good at extrapolating these observed phenomena far into the future or the past. Consider a game of chess between world class players. Chess involves no chance, and today’s best players have played so many games and studied chess to such an extent that they know the correct response to all opening moves. But they do not extrapolate dozens of moves into the future as is sometimes believed. They only consider the board as it is in front on them, and perhaps 5 moved ahead. The possibilities become so complicated as a player looks 10-20 moves ahead, that it becomes a waste of precious time, as the clock ticks in professional matches.

And so comes my major problems with the science of global warming and Darwinism: The extrapolations conducted by the most powerful chess minds on the planet are dwarfed by the extrapolations made by evolutionary scientists and global warming theorists. It’s not even close. Besides the obvious problem with looking millions of years into the past through the lens of theory, there are logical problems that are difficult to clear up, in the case of evolution for instance; ie irreducible complexity, the Cambrian Explosion, the problem of speciation etc. Really throwing a wrench into the works are recent studies that show Lamarckian Evolution is real. It seems the sins of the father really are laid upon the children.

MIT Technology Review:

 

These two new studies are unique in that the environmental change that triggers the effect–enrichment or early abuse–occurs before pregnancy. “Give mothers chemicals, and it can affect offspring and the next generation,” says Larry Feig, a neuroscientist at Tufts University School of Medicine, in Boston, who oversaw part of the research. “In this case, [the environmental change] happened way before the mice were even fertile.”

In Feig’s study, mice genetically engineered to have memory problems were raised in an enriched environment–given toys, exercise, and social interaction–for two weeks during adolescence. The animals’ memory improved–an unsurprising finding, given that enrichment has been previously shown to boost brain function. The mice were then returned to normal conditions, where they grew up and had offspring. This next generation of mice also had better memory, despite having the genetic defect and never having been exposed to the enriched environment.

I’m not proposing we cynically disregard everything coming from the world of science. That would be foolish. I am asking that people use their own brains, and look at studies and articles in popular outlets with a critical eye. Scientists do not always adhere to scientific processes or thought. The classic case is outlined in this WSJ article, talking about the collapse of the fat consumption/disease dogma that was prevalent for 6 decades in America. In fact, it seems scientists may have had it exactly wrong. Animal may be good for us. And institutional and political momentum can play a huge role in science: Once a scientist, politician or pundit makes a claim, it’s difficult to go back on the issue. By the time millions of dollars and political capital are spent spreading “the truth”, the damage is done and no one wants to admit that maybe they contributed to damaging people.

But there was no turning back: Too much institutional energy and research money had already been spent trying to prove Dr. Keys’s hypothesis. A bias in its favor had grown so strong that the idea just started to seem like common sense. As Harvard nutrition professor Mark Hegsted said in 1977, after successfully persuading the U.S. Senate to recommend Dr. Keys’s diet for the entire nation, the question wasn’t whether Americans should change their diets, but why not? Important benefits could be expected, he argued. And the risks? “None can be identified,” he said.

In fact, even back then, other scientists were warning about the diet’s potential unintended consequences. Today, we are dealing with the reality that these have come to pass.

Then there are the problems inherent in positivism. The economist EF Schumacher explained:

The architects of the modern worldview, notably Galileo and Descartes, assumed that those things that could be weighed, measured, and counted were more true than those that could not be quantified. If it couldn’t be counted, in other words, it didn’t count.

Or Werner Heisennberg, the discoverer of quantum mechanics:

The positivists have a simple solution: the world must be divided into that which we can say clearly and the rest, which we had better pass over in silence. But can any one conceive of a more pointless philosophy, seeing that what we can say clearly amounts to next to nothing? If we omitted all that is unclear we would probably be left with completely uninteresting and trivial tautologies.

In other words, science should be as much concerned, maybe more, with what is hidden, as with what is obvious.

In the case of global warming, I perceive a severe lack of consideration by scientists that there’s a lot they can’t know about what determines climate. These climate scientists boldly state their recordings (some of which they made up, as we know), plug their numbers into their computer models, see that the models don’t get the predictions correct, and then lay a guilt trip on us for questioning “science”. They fail to consider what they have not measured.

Darwin was a great scientist, and not only because of his powers of perception, but because he was an immensely honest man who wanted to see the truth. In his book, The Origin of Speiies, Darwin wrote two entire chapters (chapters 6 and 9) that addressed why he may be wrong. He calls the addressed arguments against his theory, “grave”, or in other words, powerful. Imagine that from Richard Dawkins. I’ve read these chapters, and indeed they are so powerful they actually strengthened my belief that Darwin’s theory is wrong. The foolish thing that many scientists like Dawkins do today, is make their opponents out to be unintelligent people, unthinking idiots. When Darwin synthesized his theory, he presented it to the most prominent biologist in the world at the time, Louis Agassiz of Harvard university. Agassiz is considered one of the greatest scientists of the 19th century. The Encyclopedia Britannica describes him as follows:

Louis Agassiz,  (born May 28, 1807, Motier, Switz.—diedDecember 14, 1873Cambridge, Mass., U.S.), Swiss-born U.S. naturalist, geologist, and teacher who made revolutionary contributions to the study of natural science with landmark work on glacier activity and extinct fishes. He achieved lasting fame through his innovative teaching methods, which altered the character of natural science education in the United States.

Darwin had immense respect for Agassiz and hoped he would back Darwin’s belief. To Darwin’s dismay, Agassiz rejected the theory of evolution.

Louis Agassiz

 

Aggassiz quipped:

Every great scientific truth goes through three stages. First, people say it conflicts with the Bible. Next they say it has been discovered before. Lastly they say they always believed it.

Then there is also the recent evidence, discovered by world-renowned Chinese  JY Chen. Chen found that the fossil beds from the Cambrian era show that Darwin’s tree of life is upside down. That is, the number of species has not increased; the tree narrows at the top. Many Chinese scientists believe that the fossil record shows a sudden apearrence of complex life without an evolutionary lead-up. When Chen lectured in America on his findings, he asked his sponsor why none of the scientists in the audience asked any questions about how all this impacted Darwinism. His sponsor said it was probably because scientists in America are afraid to question Darwin. Chen responded: “In my country we cannot question the government. In America, you cannot question Darwin.”

The scientism of today is leading to the closing of our minds. In the areas of computer science, math, and engineering, we’re doing very well, because testing theorems in those fields yields immediate feedback. But the name-calling coming from some against alternate theories in biology and climate is really just subterfuge. The name-callers don’t want to debate the facts in many cases. They just want opponents to go away. The accusations that dissent stems from a hatred of science is just not true. Dissent stems from the knowledge that scientists and journalists are human, and that they have biases and are prone to misinterpret data just as are the rest of us.

 

Love Potions

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Recently, my friend, Dr. Michael LaBossiere, wrote a series of articles concerning determinism. In these articles he examines the possibility that all animal behavior, including human behavior, is essentially determined by hormones–impulses generated on the physical plane that are easily identified, their effects on the body leading to behaviors, such as in the realm of sex.

In two articles he uses the Vole, a gerbil-like creature, as his subject.  Voles are monogamous animals, a rarity in the mammalian world. Their monogamous behavior correlates with the secretion of oxytocin and vasopressin. And so, Dr. LaBossiere argues that the monogamous behavior of Voles is purely mechanistic, based on the addictive qualities of oxytocin and other pleasure-inducing hormones.  And so, if this behavior is mechanistic in nature, so are the human romantic ideals, such as love, honor, and loyalty.  The same argument can and is made for homosexuality, that it is not a choice, but an urge induced by a heretofore undiscovered  biological mechanism. Dr. Labossiere states that he believes in free will, but in his articles he seems to mostly argue for a deterministic world.

Before I endeavor to deconstruct and ultimately destroy the mechanistic view of human behavior (and it must be destroyed because, besides the fact that I believe it untrue, it is a danger to human life and happiness), let me reveal a bit of my history as a teenager and a young man.

I ran away from home 4 times before I was 16. Looking back, I consider that I was surrounded by adults that were dysfunctional and in some cases border-line insane.  I felt no love from the adults that I spent the most time with at that time. I did feel anger, hatred, enmity, and even an odd sort of competition and jealousy from them.  Their insanity was evidenced by their deep unhappiness.

An adept cut-purse, I stole voraciously, from book stores especially, and constantly conspired with other kids my age to relieve adults of the cash in their wallets. I lied constantly, skipped school regularly to the point where I had no idea what was going on in my classes. I began to fail and fail badly in school.  I enjoyed throwing rocks through windows and destroying others’ property in general and was arrested for burglary. Eventually, I dropped out of high school, and became involved with a woman who was 10 years older than I eventually siring a child out of wedlock.  My life was a disaster.  Mind you, that I was brought up Catholic, was an alter boy and a Boy Scout.  But the pain from home tore me apart, and before I was 14, I thought often of suicide.  I’ll be the first to admit that luck has a great impact on each and every one of us. Heck, as Kurt Vonnegut once observed, none of us even asked to be born so far as we know.  I don’t want to say there were no good times as a kid, but there weren’t many.  Even today when I think of my teenage years, I get nauseous.  But regardless of my circumstances, I am without excuse; I was an evil person. And don’t underestimate the age at which kids know good from evil.

Now that you know why I can never run for political office, let me indulge myself for a moment. Fast forward a decade and move further along in time after that. I graduated from college, became a police officer, and eventually joined the Army. I’m currently a staff sergeant in the US Army. My last NCO Evaluation report, written by a lieutenant, captain and major, states the following about my performance: “the most competent Senior Intelligence Sergeant in the Brigade; continuously remained well-versed on the evolution of conventional and asymetric threats…intellectual prowess and continuous mentorship developed Soldiers in analytical skills….promote to Sergeant First Class now…a top 1% NCO that always accomplishes the mission to the highest standard”.  

What changed in the last 25 years of my life? Did my hormones or brain chemicals shift to such a degree that my life did a 180 degree turn? And if they did, why?

Don’t get me wrong. All animals are influenced by hormones. Wild animals’ behavioral changes during hormonal shifts  are well documented. But it is humans’ self-awareness, reason and morality that sets us apart.  Even the much vaunted humaness of dogs seems to be overrated; dogs feel no shame, despite the sheepish look after Spot defecates in the hall.  In fact, humans seem to be the only animal that will behave in ways that spite hormonal tides.  Before I make the crux of my argument, let’s look at a couple of Dr. LaBossiere’s arguments. He writes that if fidelity is mechanistic, than humans are merely reacting to the pleasure provided them via chemical actions on the brain.

He states:

While fidelity is praised, one important question is whether or not is worthy of praise as a virtue. If humans are like voles and the mechanistic theory of human bonding is correct, then fidelity of the sort that ground pair-bonding would essentially be a form of addiction, as discussed in the previous essay. On the face of it, this would seem to show that such fidelity is not worthy of praise. After all, one does not praise crack heads for their loyalty to crack. Likewise, being addicted to love would hardly make a person worthy of praise.

One obvious counter is that while crack addiction is regarded as bad because of the harms of crack, the addiction that composes pair bonding should be generally regarded as good because of its good consequences. These consequences would be the usual sort of things people praise about pair bonding, such as the benefits to health.  However, this counter misses the point: the question is not whether pair bonding is good (it generally is in terms of consequences) but whether fidelity should be praised.

I feel these two paragraphs miss the mark, primarily because fidelity between man and woman seems anything other than an addiction–it seems like work.  People struggle to remain faithful.  Why do most people at least try to resist the urge to be unfaithful in marriage? Because they know very bad things can happen if they follow their immediate instincts.  Fidelity involves a crusade against our hormones (though there’s a lot more to sex drive than hormones).

JRR Tolkien wrote a series of letters to his oldest son, Christopher, warning him of the dangers of untamed sexual desire.

Faithfulness in Christian marriage entails that: great mortification. For a Christian man there is no escape. Marriage may help to sanctify and direct to its proper object his sexual desires; its grace may help him in the struggle; but the struggle remains. It will not satisfy him–as hunger may be kept off by regular meals. It will offer as many difficulties to the purity proper to that state, as it provides easements. No man, however truly he loved his betrothed and bride as a young man, has lived faithful to her as a wife in mind and body without deliberate conscious exercise of the will, without self-denial.

Tolkien’s view is precisely the opposite of LaBossiere’s; people struggle with fidelity, they are not addicted to it.

Before going further, let me state explicitly my thesis: the things that provide pleasure to people via increases in dopamine, seratonomin, and oxytocin can change over time, and they change primarily because thinking changes.  I used to gain pleasure from stealing and breaking windows. Now I gain pleasure from working hard, learning, writing, playing with my kids and physical training. The chemical reactions that cause me to feel pleasure remain the same, but the little understood mind changed greatly.  And I know why my mind changed: I experienced true Christianity.  I struggled for years after first experiencing it, but slowly changed over the years, like a metal refined by fire.  Consider a man who is overweight and out of shape. He does not exercise but knows he must for health reasons.  At some point his thinking on the matter changed and the seed was planted for future action. When he first starts exercising, he only feels pain. His body is telling him to stop. He is not deriving much pleasure from it at all. But he pushes through, and eventually morning runs start to feel good, his mind seems to work better, fat begins to melt off him. And so it is with almost all good habits. There is an initial period of discomfort. But as beings above mere wild animals, we can push through that pain using reason to form a vision of our goal.  After a while, we have formed a habit, and there is no longer pain, but probably quite a bit of pleasure to be gained from accomplishing what was once very difficult.

The French Renaissance philosopher Michel de Montaigne, a famous skeptic, disliked passionate feelings of love because he felt they interfered with freedom.  Many people are critical of the Christian views on sex and passion, they view (improperly) Christians as prudes whom dislike others feeling any type of sexual pleasure. This is not the case of course.  As its root, the Christian values concerning sex is about keeping one’s mind. W.B. Yeats once observed that he had witnessed more men destroyed by chasing after women then he had seen destroyed by alcohol. This from an Irishman.  Yeats and Montaigne understood that for man to act like Man, (big M intended), and not destroy himself, he must not follow every fleeting hormonal impulse.

Michel de Montaigne
Michel de Montaigne

As a man thinketh, so is he~Proverbs 23:7. And so as a person’s thinking changes, so do his habits. The ancients knew the power of habit. In fact, I believe it is the most powerful tool in existence when it comes to effecting human behavior. The first thing that I myself do when I want to accomplish something, is figure out how I can make aspects of the task a habit. This usually involves setting aside a time and place in which I always practice part of the task. I always write in the morning. I even learned a way of getting things done that aren’t pleasing: Just do one thing a day that you don’t want to do, but needs doing at some point. Just one thing. You’ll be surprised at how effective it is. And this is what I think of homosexuality: it is a habit, not something hardwired from the beginning in a homosexual’s genome.

Almost anything can become a habit, good and evil. Vince Lombardi said quitting can become a habit, Dale Carnegie said the habit of feeling sorry for yourself is the worst habit of all.

Aristotle said of habit:

Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.

In this article, I am primarily writing about physiological determinism, not cosmological determinism. That is, the idea that man does not have free will at all.  That is for another time. But it must be said here that determinism, is a major theme in leftist politics.  The belief, nay, the focal point, of this political system being that the determining factor in a man’s life is summed in the advantageous or disadvantageous situation into which he was born. That rich men are rich because they were born to lucky circumstances, and the poor people are poor because they were born to poor people.   But my interpretation of conservative politics, as I practice them, is to ask each person: What can you do right now to improve your lot and the lot of others? I see leftist politics as one giant antithesis of Carnegie’s admonition,  the leftist declares: The best habit is to feel sorry for yourself. And he hopes that men who don’t feel sorry for themselves, ie the men who make the world work, will give him some free stuff.  In other words, the view is self-serving, not “sympathetic.”

Finally, we must ask: How is the deterministic view helpful? If I truly am moved about like a puppet by hormones and impulses randomly bursting in my brain, what changes if I believe otherwise? But now ask yourself, what if we are not absolutely controlled by a domino effect of physiological input, but I believe and act as if I  am, what changes then? A great deal. A very great deal.

Dilbert: Self Selection, Tabula Rasa, Homosexuality, Religiosity, First Cause

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I like Scott Adams, author and artist of the Dilbert comic strip.  his blog posts are insightful, though I often disagree with the angles he takes.  For instance, in this post, Adams writes about Phil Robertson’s comments on homosexuality that momentarily got him suspended from his show, Duck Dynasty.

Adams states that he is “pro-gay” but does not believe the response by other pro-gay people to Robertson’s comments was a consistent response. He writes:

It seems to me that Phil Robertson was born with the brain he has. He didn’t have a choice in the matter. And science is starting to understand that religious folks have different brain structure than non-believers. So how is it fair to belittle Phil for acting in the only way he could, given the brain he has?

Adams supports this argument by stating, that because gays are born gay, they should not hold Robertson responsible for acting in a way consistent with his biology, just as pro-gay people ask others to accept the actions of gays because because gays are born this way.

Adams employs his argument as A priori, that is, he makes little attempt to prove that gays are born that way, or that Robertson is born believing that homosexuality is a sin other than to point out that almost all modern people believe homosexuals are born homosexuals and that studies on the brains of religious people shows that their brains are different. Indeed, there are studies that show people who meditate or pray may have differences in their brain. 

But Adams misses the point entirely, it seems, after reading the results of those studies. What the studies seem to show, is that meditation in prayer change the brain, it is not the A priori structure of the organic tissue that caused meditation or prayer.  He puts the cart before the horse, which I have increasingly noticed to be a habit of scientifically predisposed liberals, of which Adams is one.  Adams’ argument is much like saying that someone lifts weights because they are strong. Now, at elite levels, or in highly specialized arenas, there is some truth to this notion. For instance, Olympic athletes are not only very adept at what they do because they are Olympians, they in fact showed an extraordinary talent in their early years which incentivized the activity.  The best gymnasts are not only strong because they are gymnasts, but they are likely great gymnasts because they received the positive feedback of success against others of similar experience early in their careers. This is called the self-selection bias.  People like to do things in which they can be successful. Thus it could be argued that certain organic traits in a person’s brain may involved in the person’s religiosity, especially if the person showed great insight of religious nature, such as Martin Luther, or Thomas Aquinas. They could be rightfully termed religious prodigies. And homosexuals may have attributes not directly related to sexuality that predispose them to being gay. But this does not mean genetics is destiny.

Another hole in Adams’ reasoning is that he must willfully ignore the fact that some nations and cultures show higher levels of religiosity than others. Pakistan and Afghanistan for instance are much more religious than Canada.  Are we to believe that the people in Pakistan have distinctly different brains than the people in Canada? Also, in the past, humans were generally more religious than they are now. Did our brains change so dramatically in a matter of 100 years? These are rhetorical questions to which nearly everyone knows the answer. And the same argument must be made for homosexuality. If homosexuality is innate, why did almost all ancient Greeks practice it to some degree?

And just as with the studies on the religious brain, we must consider that homosexuality may change the human brain, Ex-post facto.  Even if defining differences are discovered between homosexual and heterosexual brains, are the structural differences the cause or the result of homosexual thoughts and actions? We know the human brain is very plastic, its organic structures very susceptible to outside influence.

And this brings us to an even deeper question: What is the First Cause of thought? The purely materialistic view states that thought is nothing more than microscopic movement of matter, in ways poorly, but generally understood. However, the observed science seems to contradict this. If thinking can change the organic structure of the brain, how can the organic structure be the cause of the thought?  What, at this very moment caused you to reach for your coffee cup, change the channel, stand up? It could not be a random impulse, otherwise our daily life would have no order. So, it seems to me, the First Cause lay deeper than the material, in a sort of spiritual realm.

But are we a Tabula Rasa, a blank slate upon which the external world, though training, rhetoric and dogma can elicit from us any response it likes?  I do not believe we are. We obviously possess some innate inner qualities. I am often amazed at the things my three year old daughter knows without really having been taught these things. For instance, I have noticed that she knows what is “scary”, and thus evil or bad,  in some cartoons, even though to my knowledge she had no way of being taught that such things were supposed to be evil.  Some studies show that children have a general idea of good and bad from a very young age.

An easy solution to the question of Tabula Rasa, is that humans have many general inborn traits, but that any of them can be subdued through training, culture, or other factors, for good or bad.  Just as all humans get hungry after going for a time without food, all humans can to varying degrees, stave off the act of eating through acts of will.

The Femininization of Everything

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[T]he regime of diversions, surrogates, and tranquilizers that pass for today’s ‘distractions’ and ‘amusements’ does not yet allow the modern woman to foresee the crisis that awaits her when she recognizes how meaningless are those male occupations for which she has fought, when the illusions and the euphoria of her conquests vanish, and when she realizes that, given the climate of dissolution, family and children can no longer give her a sense of satisfaction in life. ~Julius Evola, Ride the Tiger

I miss men. I miss my grandfather.  He was a man. And he wasn’t sorry for being a man. He was never told to be sorry for being a man, or acting like one. He never pondered the “social constructs” of gender. He liked Lawrence Welk, Archie Bunker, knives, guns, boxing.  He welded for a living. He wore flannel. He killed animals and ate them, fed them to his family. He didn’t pop his collar. He used Lava soap to rip the grease off his hands after doing the work men did. For him and his generation, life was not a sterile, over-analyzed bore.

Safety killed us. Such are the heights of the giants’ shoulders we stand on, such were their labors, such were their sacrifices, we were made too safe, too comfortable. We came to hate our betters, just as the Helots hated their Spartan masters. And so we dived into every fantasy, every unrealism, believing the opposite of reality as a sort of revolt. We became lazy, ungrateful. We enjoyed the nectar of being critical, and so criticized to disintegration those who made our free nation: Men.

Women didn’t freeze to death at Valley Forge, storm Normandy, they didn’t rot in Hanoi. And they never will, because the current “integration” of our military is theater and a power grab.  It’s playing doctor, cowboys and Indians at the expense of us all.  The people who want women in military combat arms know woman can’t actually do what men can do, but they enjoy seeing men cringe and squirm over such excesses.  Of course, women won’t pour into such billets, because they are difficult, though even when they end up there, they still won’t find it as difficult as do men, because men will treat them better than they do other men. And the feminized bureaucracy will ensure they have it easier, national defense be damned.

The United States Marines require that men do 20 pullups in order score the maximum points on their physical fitness test. Women are required to do exactly zero.  How’s that for egalitarianism? The Marine Corps tested 318 female Marines, and found that on average, they could do 1.6 pullups.  Yet, when I last tested myself at 39 years old, I could do 20 pullups. Many classically male jobs, such as firefighting and police work have distinctly different physical qualifications for women than men.  Women do not have to register for the draft, but of course their  inferiors–men–do.

The way we fight war itself has become feminized. We treat our enemies like the single mom treats her kids: We try to buy them stuff until they quit throwing temper tantrums.  We don’t win wars any more. The trade schools are considered a sub-par option for those not worthy or capable of the “higher” intellectual pursuits of gender studies. No thought is given by these elite snobs as to who builds their cars, roads, laptops and latte machines.

In a strikingly Nietzschean world, Slave Morality reigns, the Spartans now serve the Helots. As Nietzsche states, Slave Morality originates in the weak and is deployed by the weak as a weapon against the strong.  It is not necessarily drawn as a weapon of righteousness; it’s usually the sword of resentment. Slave Morality–Feminism–does not seek the impossible, that is, to make men and women equal in all things. Instead, it seeks to neuter men and weigh them down with a lodestone that will ensure men cannot surpass women in any meaningful way. The Helots now rule the Spartans.  The feminists used the tactic commonly employed by children on mothers in order to get what they do not deserve: Whining.

The false notion that sexual assault is rampant in our military was predictably seized by the Left, who lose sleep nightly over racial and gender issues.  The number of sexual assault reports in the military this year is up 50% this year, after it became fashionable to be raped. Ignored are studies that show over 40% of rape allegations are false [Kanin, 1994].

Everywhere we look, from our earliest days to our last, we see the philosophy of woman. Television shows, movies, politics, almost all of it aimed at women’s tastes. This is not to say that the feminine, the womanly, or motherhood are bad things, indeed they are good things, but so are classically manly traits. Yet our entire cultural system is bent on making boys more like girls. They must be sensitive, they must sit still, they must not joust. The NFL now celebrates Breast Cancer Awareness by allowing players to wear pink football gear during allotted games. Men must be made aware of female supremacy, that we are being watched, monitored controlled, at all times. Even during our classically male moments, such as playing football. What is the male color by the way? Do we have a color? I’m not sure.  I’m trying to imagine Dick Butkus or Mike Ditka in pink. It’s not working for me. But of course, there are no women in the National Football League, but Americans actually care about their team winning football games, unlike winning wars. We’ve become an unserious country, rolling toward the glue factory.

Oprah decides the fate of nations. One study found that Oprah Winfrey’s endorsement of Obama resulted in an additional one million votes.   She tells women to go their own way, that they can do anything men can do. Can they? Should they? At the core of the modern feminist movement and others Leftist movements like it, is the the use of pity as a weapon.  Pity is used to relieve people of the duties of a Natural Law they despise. Pity is used to escape the carrying out of some people’s duties, to gain power over those susceptible to pity’s draw. It is a perverse utilization of a subtle Christian ethic, taking advantage of those who lack street wisdom.  Pity has its place, but it can also be misused. We need not agree with everything Nietzsche had to say, just as Nietzsche did not agree with everything that his mentors, Arthur Schopenhauer and Richard Wagner said. This does not mean we cannot glean truth from some of Nietzsche’s writings. The cult of pity, and the misuse of pity as a sordid sentiment has resulted in an American military that is barely functional. First, an army draws its soldiers from a population organic to its nation, thus, it can suffer from many of flaws endemic to that nation. I have a ground-level view of those flaws as an NCO in the Army.  The call for pity is the default setting for many soldiers wishing to avoid Duty.  I’m not averse to having pity on those that deserve it, but I regard those who attempt to avoid Duty by feigning weakness (or the belief that feeling any discomfort at all means that something is “wrong”) as thieves. They are trying to steal something to which they have no right. They long for victim-hood and all its benefits. This perverse inverse of traditional values for women began with perhaps its most troubling aspect: Its loathing of motherhood, of parenting, of homemaking, as if being a housewife were tantamount to slavery. from this root grew the withered tree of cultural demise.  As the German philosopher Oswald Spengler wrote,

“When the ordinary thought of a highly cultivated people begins to regard ‘having children’ as a question of pro’s and con’s, the great turning point has come.”

A proto-feminist, upon reading my concerns of birthrates and modern attitudes toward motherhood, quipped that she did not feel it necessary to reproduce merely to prop up her society. But she misunderstood. The mere fact that she and the rest of the West has asked the question: “Are children worth it?”, means that the fatal seed is already planted and even blooming. Such a question is like asking, “is eating worth it?”, “is the sun rising worth it?”.  So, if Spengler was correct, we are already dying.  When motherhood becomes tantamount to dishonor, count your nation as dead and rotting. The perverse inverse continues in its paradoxical reinvention of what is feminine. Oddly, it is now feminine to be masculine, yet masculinity when practiced by men is demonized. This can only equate to men being deemed as bad. Again paradoxically, the feminist disapproval of motherhood has led to even more doting over children, who are not allowed to take risks common to children of even 15 years ago. We now give “timeouts”, as opposed to concrete discipline. Can youn imagine a child being sent to bed without Doritos, err, dinner nowadays? The typical male response of men from my grandfather’s age was “toughen up”, and parents were not seen as human entertainment machines. It was well established that doting over children ruined them, that even picking them up too often could damage them. Whining and pouting earned a trip to their room, excommunicated for conduct unbecoming.  Now such behavior earns more soda and candy.  The hours spent outdoors by young people in past years is now replaced by hours on a couch.  So spoiled are many of today’s children, that nothing can sate their appetites, nothing can satisfy, nothing can make them content for more than 30 minutes.  Such are the wages of overindulgence and the absence of the classic male response to unjust complaints: Toughen up. We have made children into anti-stoics, the opposite of the Buddhist ideal of the Middle Path.

But perhaps the feminists have overplayed their hand. There is a surge of male unrest, a revolt against the metro-sexual ideal of the sedate, passive man willing to serve his time as house Helot. Some men have realized they don’t want participation trophies, as they have no transcendental meaning, no value. A man’s inner longings are often about value, giving life meaning, about the fact that the things that are earned through pain and blood are the things most valued in life. Some men like emerging from an athletic game, tired, bloodied.  In the feminine society, there is something wrong with this. In the man’s world of old, pain was viewed as the refiner’s fire, moving men beyond the materialism so prevalent today.  To those men, life is not about smart phone apps, the latest fashion, a perfectly comfortable life, Doritos, Starbucks, Oprah, GLAAD, strippers, drugs, Obamacare, or Miley Cyrus. For some, life is about the transcendental state that can only be achieved by doing what is difficult. The feminized society tried to make war safe, against Sherman’s warnings.

I think Camille Paglia is right.  What we’re seeing is the decline of our civilization, but no one wants to move to do anything, because as with the Methamphetamine addict whose body withers and erupts with boils as death approaches, the pleasure felt during our death is too great.  Even those who secretly see the problems at hand are embarrassed to contradict the herd. They are not sufficiently convinced by their own convictions, the modern culture has shamed them into submission. But as for me, count me as Riding the Tiger, the good Roman soldier who stood at his post fulfilling his Duty even as Vesuvius erupted and slew him.

Oswald Spengler: We Are Doomed
Oswald Spengler: We Are Doomed

“We are born into this time and must bravely follow the path to the destined end. There is no other way. Our duty is to hold on to the lost position, without hope, without rescue, like that Roman soldier whose bones were found in front of a door in Pompeii, who, during the eruption of Vesuvius, died at his post because they forgot to relieve him. That is greatness. That is what it means to be a thoroughbred. The honorable end is the one thing that can not be taken from a man.” `~Oswald Spengler, Man and Technics