Please be Patient while this page Loads.. . .


    February's  essays below. Go HERE for other months.

    1. "Particles, Plinko, and Past: Or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb." By the Satirical Rogue.

    2. "A Modest Proposal: How to Remove Stupidity from the Gene Pool and Make Money at the Same Time." by The Satirical Rogue.

    3. "Rebuttal to the Satirical Rogue's 'Capital Punishment: An Appeal to the Intelligent'" by the Passionate Man

    4. "Looking At Reality Through A Contaminated Worldview," by the Rhetorical Ronin

    5. "The Integrity of the Rites of Passage," By Dom Lucius

    6. "How dependent is Hayek’s political thinking on his epistemology and his psychology?" by Patrick Dottridge

    7. "In Pursuit of Meaning, Through Life," by Brian Park


Download the February Forum,
and read at your leisure


    "Particles, Plinko, and Past: Or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb." By the Satirical Rogue.

A Digression:


    Using the latest advances in particle acceleration and deceleration, quantum electrodynamics, and hypnosis, I have trapped a single, solitary particle in the "O" you see above this paragraph. It was, indeed, a daunting and tedious task, as I never knew exactly where the particle was, or, when I did, I never knew exactly how fast it was moving. (Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle makes catching a single particle difficult.)
But I’m sure some of you are asking: "Why oh why would you incarcerate a poor, pathetic particle?"
Patience friend. I’m getting to that-
But, before I reach The Point, I am going to violate the first, and most rudimentary, rule of the Essay: I am going to digress from the topic, before I’ve even stated it:
"Why oh why would you rule out of the rudimentary rules of research paper and essay writing?" you so righteously ask.
Because this is not an essay.
It is a metaphysical search into our past, a comprehensive cataloging of the effects of every action upon the following effects of every affected action, and the causes of the unutterable hopelessness we feel when faced with the vastness of the universe.
It is about Time and Life and the Choices we make and the Path we are on.
It is about those brilliant, brutal, and baleful moments in our life, the ones we regret, hate and loathe, the ones we deny, avoid, escape, and bury deep within our gut, hidden from the light which is Life.
It is about People and Past and the sad wasted life that blinks out unappreciated when we turn away from Who We Are.
It is about the importance of that little, lonely particle running around in that "O" above, and consequently, an explanation of how, exactly, I stopped worrying and learned to love the bomb.

The Point: (For all you Pedantic Point People)

    We owe our lives to that particle, in that "O." We shall call him Him, He, P.Y., or Particle Y, (because it sounds suitably scientific,) and this paper is a long-deserved paean to the neglected glory of his life, and our lives.

Now, the Serious Stuff:

   In "About Time: Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution," by Paul Davies, Davies states on page 249:

...altering the past is…likely to lead to trouble, because it can have escalating knock-on effects that uncontrollably and inextricably weave themselves into the fabric of the present. Even a single subatomic particle sent backwards in time could change the present state of the world dramatically. The particle might be part of a coded signal, for example, that would trigger a major response in the receiver. Or it might divert the course of evolution. (A single encounter between a cosmic-ray particle and a molecule of DNA can cause a crucial mutation.)

   Davies, and indeed all physicists, know that the universe as we know it is absolutely dependent upon Particle Y, (or any other particle, for that matter.) If we were to erase the time-line of Particle Y, our present would be annihilated, with us along with it.
This is an amazing fact! Seldom do we thank Particle Y when thanking God. Seldom are we amazed with Him, when we voice amazement and wonder at the universe. He is unappreciated. His is a thankless task: That of existing forever, flying this way and that without rest, always effecting the flights of other particles, and being effected in kind.
But we owe our lives to Him, and it’s time we realized his importance and his glory, and learned of His life’s work.

Plinko, the Game of Chance:

   Ever heard of Plinko?
    Plinko is a game of chance- a {seemingly} random number of random events which produce one definite end.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
|. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .|
|. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .|
|. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .|
|. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .|
|. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .|
|. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .|
|. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .|
|. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .|
|. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .|
|. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .|
|. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .|
|. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .|
|. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .|
|. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .|
|. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .|
|a |b |c |d |e |f |g |h |i |j |k |l |m |


    Fig.1 is a rough, two-dimensional representation of a Plinko board. In our four-dimensional reality, a Plinko board is a square or rectangle, with a multitude of nails or pegs placed in rows upon rows.
A disk is dropped from the top of the Plinko board, and it bounces around, up, down, left, right, until eventually landing in a slot at the bottom. (labeled with the letters in Fig.1.)
In the universe as we know it, there are trillions upon trillions upon trillions of tiny particles, (pegs); some flying around near the speed of light, some contained in the mass of gargantuan stars, some trapped within the crushing singularity that is a black hole, and some running around inside of you. If we were to accurately build a realistic Plinko board, with one peg for every particle, that Plinko board would be a big as Polish nuns hat!
Plinko is not only a silly game on "The Price is Right" and in Las Vegas, it is a fitting metaphor that illustrates the impact of a single particle. Imagine Particle Y as one of those pegs in the Plinko board. Now, imagine the letters in the slots as possible outcomes of the universe. Starting to get the picture?
The disk which is dropped from the top represents the fate of the universe.
If you drop the disk (The universe’s fate) at moment M, (the Big-Bang, let’s say,) it will bounce around in a certain order, hitting many many pegs in a fast and seemingly random order, until it reaches the bottom. In other words, the history of the universe is manipulated and effected by the particles, including our humble friend Particle Y, and each particle causes a subtle change in the direction of the disk, be it a quick acceleration, hard deceleration, etc. After the disk rebounds around the Plinko board, it eventually ends up in, let’s say, slot D, which is Our Now.
But what if we were to remove Particle Y from the Plinko board, which is the life of the universe? What would have happened to the disk then?
We will never know what slot it would have landed in, but we can safely bet that it would not have landed in the same one! (considering the fact that in reality there would be an incomprehensible number of possible endings, or letter slots, and the removal of one peg would change the pattern of all remaining pegs.)
This is why Particle Y is so important to the universe: Because He had a direct hand in causing the rate of expansion, the time of birth, the direction, the mass and pattern of the universe today. Take Him away, and we (slot D) would be missed, and be replaced with slot BN7XX14R.


    Okay. I opened up a path in the "O" above, and now our faithful and much inconvenienced Particle Y can go on his merry way, quietly playing His part in the fate of our universe.
We are finished with Him, but He is not finished with us, and I am not finished with you!

The Plinko Paradigm:

    Quantum physics is a fascinating, and confusing, fact of life, but it is easy to ignore it, because it seems distant, and its lessons seem inapplicable to our life. After all, why should I base my choices in life on what Particle Y is doing, has done, or will do?
But this line of reasoning is a mistake! Particle Y can teach us some very important things, like gratitude, humility, awe, and an Appreciation of Our Past. That is the Plinko Paradigm: Appreciating and being grateful for our past, our choices, and every single moment in our life.

"All For the Want of a Stone.. . .:"

   Madeleine L’engle, in her young-adult novel "A Wind in the Door," quoted a long, repetitive maxim which has much in common with the above paragraphs:

Because of a stone, a shoe was lost; because of a shoe, a horse was lost; because of a horse, a message was lost; because of a message, a battle was lost; and because of a battle, a nation was lost. All for the want of a stone.

    Not only does her novel hinge upon this key point, but our true understanding of the universe, (and our finite part in it,) is complete only when we unlock the mysteries of this passage.
Without an appreciation of our past mistakes, pain, terrors and disappointments, we will inevitably reach our end with a deep sense of regret and sadness, because our future happiness and peace is directly tied to our acceptance of the past. Furthermore, those who would erase a moment in their past would commit a fatal blunder, and blot out the person they are.
To illustrate, I again draw your attention to Fig.1, the Plinko diagram. Each peg is one small, finite moment, be it an action committed, or an idea thought up, or a single word spoken. And all those moments are weaved into the tapestry of Now. But the erasure or movement of one peg disrupts the whole balance, and sends us coursing along another path/present/future, thus destroying forever who we are (were). Oh sad fact!

The Domino Effect:

   Another, more linear way of explaining this is through the cause and effect tumblings of a line of dominos.

|||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||   Fig.2

    The first domino in Fig.2 is our birth, the last domino, death. Each domino between that innocent looking cradle and grave is an event in our lives.
    After birth, we have this inevitable result:

_____________________________________________________________   Fig.3.

    Birth effects childhood effects adolescence effects adulthood effects old-age effects death. And that line above represents our life, now, as we know it.
But when we remove a moment, change or alter, erase or smudge it out, (See M below, Fig.4) our life, as we know it, comes to a grinding halt:

__________________ |||||||||||||||||||||||   Fig.4.
               M (these moments never happen)

    If M were now, it wouldn’t have a recognizable effect on us, but if M is in the past, most of the thoughts, dreams, and ideas in our head would disappear, most of the friends we have met since M, most of the sights we have seen, most of the paths we have trudged, and most of the prizes we have won, would be no more. We would lose Ourselves.

And Now, the Bomb:

    It seems to me, (and I have no statistical, or otherwise reliable, proof of this, but if you look around and inside yourself, I’m sure you will see it too,) that the {average} person today has a cancer in the heart, which eats at hope, faith, love, and an honest appreciation of life.
We look around and see only a disintegration of the moral fiber of society, dreams seem unattainable, our self-image is fraught with glaring blemishes and unalterable flaws. Suicide rates sky-rocket, as does murder, crime, drug-addiction, and racism.
And I believe a major component in this cancer is our inability to look at and appreciate Who We Are.
Sure, some of us look within, but we wince at it, regret it, condemn it, bury it, and try to forget things done by us and to us. And this taints the otherwise pure canvas of our life.
But we need not regret. We need not lament our fate. We need not hate it, stomp it down into the dust. It’s possible to transcend these past failings, and therefore, achieve a peaceful, awe-inspiring present and future. We need only recognize the amazing complexity and fortuitous experiences of our lives, and life will become that much more glorious!

My Past, Present, and The End:

    God is in the details, and though some of those pegs I have bounced off have left a scar, though I was at times in severe mental and emotional anguish, I realize now that those events have molded me into the person I am today. The {sometimes} sharp pegs pointed the way to this road, this essay, this idea, and perhaps, just perhaps, my past can help someone’s future be a little bit brighter.
Because all I have is Now, and Then. All I have is you, dear reader, and I owe this humble mind, this weak frame, this thinly disguised attempt at an optimistic call to my fellow members of the Human Race, to all those pegs that bounced me around.
I would never want to disrupt that by removing or regretting a single domino, because Life is too precious, too beautiful, too fucking amazing, to risk disruption.
So I echo F. Scott Fitzgerald, and beat on, boat against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.. . .And encourage you to do the same.


Works Cited:

Davies, Paul. About Time: Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution. New York, Simon & Schuster, 1995. P.249.

L’engle, Madeleine. A Wind in the Door. New York, Dell Publishing, 1975.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1925. P.159.

    Back to Index


    "A Modest Proposal: How to Remove Stupidity from the Gene Pool and Make Money at the Same Time." by The Satirical Rogue.


    For all of you kind-hearted people, those who have a decidedly intelligent brain, those who cherish the grand Human-Race, I call attention to a simple plan, which, if implemented now, can eventually erase stupidity from the gene pool, thus insuring a prosperous future for your children, your children’s children, your children’s children’s children and aunts and uncles and dogs and cats and those cute little hamster things kids are so fond of.. . .
And to place some delicious icing on that cake, you can make money while doing it!
Sure, you’re thinking this is some damned multi-level marketing system, or, maybe it’s outlawed in 39 states, but its not! No, it is totally, 100% legal, and not an MLM! Make money from home! Watch T.V. while the bills come rolling in!
Interested yet?
But before I give you all the details, I’d first like to let you in on my methods of identifying Stupid People. Why? Because some idiots are surprisingly difficult to identify! (Your President and the head of Catholicism, for example.)
But I have outlined a few simple, easy-to-follow guidelines, which will get you up and running in the job of Fool-Identification in no time!
If you meet/see/know any people who fit the sentences below, you’ve identified a stupid person. Please, when you do, (and you are bound to,) hand them a sign which they can tote around, making it easier for your comrades-in-arms to identify, and hence avoid, them.

    The people above are all stupid, and have tainted the human gene pool long enough! (some have even tainted other gene pools.) And, with my incredible, amazingly simple plan, we can quickly remove them from the gene pool, forever!
How? Patience friend! In time the answers will come! But first, gather all your intelligent friends, tell them about this article, and get them in on it too! The more people involved, the quicker the results, and the more money we all make!

Line :

    Before you learn of my simple, sweet plan, I’d like to introduce you to a few friends of mine who have had tremendous success with my easy program. First, here’s Becky:

    "I was assaulted by morons every day, at work, driving home, while shopping. It was exhausting. I was going crazy, until I read your article, and implemented it into my life.
"In an amazing period of time, I had not only catalogued the idiots in my life, (thus I am now able to avoid them,) but the money just came pouring in! I could finally afford to buy that $10,000 stereo system for my car! And I did it all from home, with no hassle, no fuss, no worries!"

Next, here’s Joe:

    "Hey! I want to thank you for your modest proposal! It works wonders! I can now sit at home and watch "Jerry Springer," while following your simple rules, and money comes running through the Door! I’m so glad I found you!"

And, Jack:

"Thank you Satirical Rogue! I was in desperate need of money because I broke my German Shepherd’s hip when I kicked her last week. But because of your incredibly simple methods, I could easily afford to put her down!"

    Yes you too can experience what Becky, Joe and Jack experienced, and you only have to follow the simple plan that I’m going to out-line below!
Now, I bet your wondering, "When can I start?"
Well, let’s start now!

Sinker :

    The plan, as has been stated before, is simple: We are going to pool our resources, and starve the stupid people in this world out of the gene pool! Now, I know, it sounds like a big order, but you’ll change your toon when you read my startling plan!
Got any money in your pocket? Sure you do! We all have a few dollars in our pockets, don’t we? But, would you like to have more? Would you like to have a few twenties in your wallet? How about a few hundreds? Of course! Who in the hell wouldn’t?
And I’m going to show you, now, how to make that money, (with virtually no effort on your part,) and help end idiocy.
But enough already! Let’s get with the program.
Here’s all you need to do:
When you come home after a hard and trying day’s work, take a few short moments, and write this on every single $1, $5, $10, $20, $100 and $1000 bill you have:

Property of Satirical Rogue
Please return to
6953 E. Larkin Rd.
San Dimas, CA 91585
or write your address)

   That’s it! In a few generations, stupidity, ignorance, and gullibility will be but a memory! And the intelligent people, like you and I, will make money! Confused? Well, I’ll explain how, exactly, it works:  

    When I first came up with this plan, I was skeptical, until I implemented it full force. I went to the bank and withdrew all my savings. I took it home, wrote on every single bill I had, the address below, which you can write on your bills if your don’t happen to know your address:

Property of Satirical Rogue
Please return to
6953 E. Larkin Rd.
San Dimas, CA 91585

    Then, I went back to the bank, deposited it, and, after lunch, withdrew it out again. But this time, I got new bills, so I started the process all over again.
I continued this pattern for a few weeks.
And then, the miracle happened!
The mail-man delivered three bags full of letters, each of which had one of my bills inside it! I was amazed! And the mail-man comes back every day, with more money!
Still confused? Well, this is why it works. The really really stupid people in the world don’t think for themselves. They read something and believe it, without looking at it objectively. And those are the same people who we identified in the list above, and who, therefore, should be removed from the gene pool.
When those idiots receive change from the Quiki-Mart, or from their bank, of for a Christmas present, and they read that it belongs to me, they believe it! They are not intelligent enough to comprehend that those bills act as currency, and are owned by the possessor! So, they send it "back to the owner," who is me!
"Sure sure," you say, "that’s great. But how does this effect the gene pool?"
Well, if we all pool our resources, if we all wrote:

Property of Satirical Rogue
Please return to
   6953 E. Larkin Rd.
San Dimas, CA 91585

(or your address)

   on every bill we touch, eventually the morons will end up working all day, sending the vast majority of their money to us, and, what is more, they’ll spend their own money on the stamps!
Quite simply, they will starve to death!
Now do you get it?
I thought you would- So come on! Join up, and start reaping the rewards! Every piece of paper money you get a hold of, write:

Property of Satirical Rogue
Please return to
6953 E. Larkin Rd.
San Dimas, CA 91585

(above just an example)

    and eventually, ladies and gentlemen, we will all be rich and living in a paradise, where only intelligent, worthy people exist.
See you there!

   Back to Index


    "Rebuttal to the Satirical Rogue's 'Capital Punishment: An Appeal to the Intelligent'" by the Passionate Man

    I am amazed at how one can agree with the "bottom line" and yet have such an opposing view as to how to get there. The only comment the Satirical Rogue and I have in common is "I believe in capital punishment."
His/her (since Rogues are generally considered masculine, I will refer to this person as a him hereafter) first point is his first flaw. The idea that we should use a historical context for our primary consideration is ludicrous. History is much like the bible, it may be quoted in many ways to serve one’s purpose. In fact he even refers to the "growth and development" of beliefs which actually implies the possibility that over time civilization might "grow and develop" AWAY from the "barbaric" practice of putting someone to death.
His second point is no less flawed. To think someone’s death should be considered yea or nay based on the cost of incarceration is to put a dollar figure on the meaning of life. This is not logically or emotionally acceptable. Perhaps poor writers should be put to death based on the pain they incur on others and the excessive on-line costs wasted on reading their twisted logic!
His third point, while carried to the extreme, has perhaps a shred of merit. It's true the Bible has contradictions, particularly comparing the Old and New Testaments. For this reason it is difficult to quote scripture one way of the other without the possibility of a rebuttal from the very same source.
Lastly, our Rogue says there are two questions remaining. One, where is the
cutoff? And, two, what about the innocently condemned?
Regarding the "cutoff." Society, whichever one in place at the moment, has the obligation and the responsibility to make that decision. At some moments in time the line will be here and at some moments in another time the line will be over there. How can this be? As the Rogue almost grasped in his fifth paragraph, the growth and development of civilization (notice the word civil in there) is fraught with ebbs and flows and change. And the standards of civilization will be in a constant state of flux as if it were a living breathing thing, which it is indeed. This is as it should be.
About the innocently condemned, perhaps this is his most compelling error. He actually suggests, no, he states it flat out, there is an "acceptable trade" when an innocent person accidentally is put to death, if that’s what it takes. In actual fact this is the most compelling argument against the death penalty. I dare say, if the Rogue’s father or mother, son or daughter, or perhaps even the Rogue himself were one of the "trades," I suspect his tone would change in a heartbeat, if it hadn’t been put to a stop already.
Lastly, the Rogue ends his essay with these words, "...looking at it dispassionately...."
Passion is the one thing that makes us different from all the beings on earth and all the spread sheets in computers and all the solar dust that inhabits the universe. Our emotions, our desires, or fears, our love and our hate are what make us truly human. The act of putting someone to death is perhaps the ultimate in emotion and passion and can only be considered in that light. It is impossible to do otherwise.
The simple fact is, it is in sometimes in the best interest of civilization and society to put someone to death for the acts they have committed and to prevent them from occurring again. As terrible as it is, it also serves as a road sign to alert all of us of the consequences of our actions. It's really just that simple.
However, the decision to condemn someone to death should and will ALWAYS be considered with the maximum passion and compassion available. While their
will always be the opportunity for the innocent to be condemned, this should never be accepted or condoned. It should only be considered a horrendous accident that should be guarded against with utmost caution.
I only hope the Satirical Rogue will someday find the passion that is hidden within him and use it in harmony with his logic to discover a perspective that will give more meaning to his words.

    Back to Index


    "Looking At Reality Through A Contaminated Worldview," by the Rhetorical Ronin

All that we are is the result of what we have thought:
it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts.
If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows
him, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the wagon.

All that we are is the result of what we have thought:
it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts.
If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness
follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him. ( The Dhammapada 3 )

    The excerpt above is from the Buddha, and it attempts to bring to our attention the way in which our preconceived thoughts shape the world before us. This is to say that to some degree we as human beings suffer from this peculiar tendency to view the world through a screen of a collection of our past experiences. A philosopher by the name of Fredrick Nietzsche once put forth the proposition that the "rational intellect could never achieve the immense task of obtaining an objective truth". Civilized man is so incarcerated by what he has been inculcated with culturally, that it is virtually impossible for man to ever see beyond the horizon of his own knowledge. In other words, we as human beings tend to look upon certain day to day experiences extrapolating the new ones through the filter of the old. As we shall see through out the duration of this essay, this way of viewing the world can be very misleading.
There comes a time in our lives that we as ordinary people are forced to confront the question of what truth is, and have we been living in it? At this particular time in our existence the phenomenon of life appears to be extremely frightening. It seems, as if I have reached a crossroad in my life, and now I am forced to make a distinction between truth, and the knowledge that I have acquired over the span of my entire life thus far. For some time now I have realized that the worldview that I once possessed is not my own. Instead, it belonged to a history which existed long before I had ever come to be. My previous worldview was the result of years upon years of propaganda. Knowing this, it has been my mission to somehow find a way to liberate myself from my previous worldview and create an entirely new one, starting from scratch.
So exactly what is my new worldview? The worldview in which I have chosen for myself is an unorthodox one, and it is also extremely abstract. Currently, the worldview that I prefer is not a worldview, but an anti- worldview. It is a worldview which is designed to destroy my previous one, and a worldview which will liberate me from the litter of the past. Oh how I hate my previous worldview, it was contaminated with the poison of the world. Looking back at it, I realize exactly what was wrong with my previous worldview. In the beginning I had a very racist worldview. I hated white America and blamed it for all of my short comings. Growing up in the Nation of Islam ( black Muslims), I was taught at a very young and impressionable age that the white man was the Devil. This is a very twisted and morbid perspective to have, and furthermore, it is very misleading. For example, every time a person who was white happened to do something that I did not agree with in that instance, I would accuse that person of being prejudiced. Moreover, when I began to free myself from this prejudice certain situation would arise and I could feel this racist worldview trying to regain control. Sometime ago, when I was no longer apart of the Nation of Islam, I had been sharing a house with two roommates who had happened to be white. On one day imparticular, I can recall all of my former hatred returning. That day I was high off LSD and I was experiencing what I have heard others refer to as a bad trip. I won't go into detail here, but let me tell you, this is the day that I had realized that everything you do and experience has permanent consequences. This is to say, that we are what we experience and once we commit to an action there is no way one can ever take it hack. It was here that I truly began to understand pangs of the conscious. In other words, whatever you do becomes a part of you and what you do now will forever stay with you. Beware of what you do now, became it will haunt you in the future.
In ending this essay, I would like to say that the pitfalls, biases, and vulnerabilities all exist in my former worldview, which at the same time as my present worldview, I will always have to be on guard against till the day I die. All I can do now is hope that my anti-worldview will prevail and that one day I will have truly discovered how to forget.

   Back to Index


    "The Integrity of the Rites of Passage," By Dom Lucius

"…He posited ‘things’ as possessing being…No wonder he later always discovered in things only that which he had put into them!" – Nietzsche

    The Rites of passage are classically viewed as the method by which age-superior members of the society transmit new and powerful knowledge to the young as part of the initiation into a new state of being. Some initiations involve a tangible progression, from one occupation or status group to another. Other initiations are passages of an intangible nature, involving the acquisition of metaphysical knowledge and abilities.
    Since the age of antiquity the Rite of Passage was one that occurred around the time of puberty and had two predominant functions. The first was to cause a transformation of the child’s response systems from dependence to responsibility (Campbell 46). The second, and fundamental utility, was to facilitate a revelation of the world of sex, birth and life- the sacred world (Raphael 78). These were ritualized spiritual rebirths. The Rites of Passage are a ritual, which is by definition a set of repetitive behaviors intended to communicate sacred symbols, that is performed with the intent of ensuring a psychological transformation within the participant.
    The Rite of Passage in and of itself is merely a framework. This framing is necessary because Man is a creature of paradox. He is a being of Primary Symbolic Unconsciousness and Articulated Linguistic Consciousness, both inextricably bound together in the ultimate tool, the transcendent vehicle that man has created to continue his evolution- his intellect. The paradox is this: the symbolic mind is the seat of hopes, desires, fears, and intuition. This is the fabric of dreams. This is man before his suggested dis-integration. The goal of the primary unconsciousness is to transcend Inside-of-itself and experience Outside-of-Itself to put in order and actualize the inner objective reality by understanding the outer objective reality. He has formulated the linguistic agency to explore these worlds through perception, reflection, and communication. Through language man can transmit and receive designs for other worlds, symbolic and tangible, which he can then conceptualize through his own linguistic vehicle and put into use. A mind without language is locked within itself (Leakey 267). The linguistic agency is the transcendence vehicle. But without this vehicle, he can not conceptualize, and when there is an inability to conceptualize unknown territory in the symbolic world he is chained, because his linguistic agency is forced to recognize only that which is capable of being articulated. Thusly, the vehicle is unable to express the intrinsic knowledge of his Self and to draw from this well spring to quench his thirst to continue the journey towards transcendence. Because his linguistic agency is flawed, he now perceives himself as being un-whole. This is his disintegration. As a result, his drive for transcendence is redirected back upon itself in hopes of retrieving his integrity.
    Frequently, this recoiling of the transcendence drive is directed in a search for God, because the symbolic mind now searches for integration externally. The Deity or, Godhead, of the individual is a function of his own mind, set into motion by the intrinsic desire for wholeness of being, for which communion or at-one-ment with the Deity represents. Within our minds the agency of Prometheus (a god whose name literally means forethought) is that of our essential condition- that of bondage, waiting for release by the strength of true psychic integration (in Prometheus’ case, Hercules). This release from the chains of Mount Caucasus that is performed by the psychically- integrated individual is the release by integration itself, a final and inclusive defragmentation of the person reached by the actualization of his ultimate potentiality.
    This is the search for inner unity through outer unity as it first began its search for understanding of the internal via the external. This is the foundational fallacy of mankind. His predicament is the condition of misdirecting his energy to become that which is already extant. The libido intended for his transcendence is being utilized to re-integrate, when he has in fact never lost his integrity and should be focused on actualizing his potential.
    "…The essential human condition precedes the actual human condition," (Eliade 54). And these are the shackles of Prometheus. These are shackles of slavery that we are all born into. So, as man adapts by creating and implementing tools, he created another tool as an adaptation, the Rite of Passage.
    The Rite of Passage allows man to facilitate the conception of his integrated Self through his relation to the tangible world in the structure of a ritual, which is an articulated window back into the symbolic world. This ritual is a fail- safe mechanism to alert the Primary Symbolic Unconsciousness through an instigated psychological transformation that it is progressing towards its goal of transcendence into actualization, Inside-of-Itself and Outside-of-itself.
Incipit Vita Nova. It seems that man does not desire to be repaired; he desires to be remade.
    An analysis of the transformative rituals of the Jivaro Indians of the Ecuadorian Amazon and various Aboriginal groups of Australia will be the most illustrative in the demonstration of the resulting psychical re-creation that occurs in the individual. Within these groups I will focus primarily on the rituals involving the making of medicine men or, Shamans, as they have the most obvious content of transformation.
    The Jivaro (hee-va-ro) Indians live in the Ecuadorian Amazon east of the Andes, where they are recognized as the only group that has continuously resisted Spanish control. They are known to be a fiercely independent group, unwilling to accept authority, even amongst themselves (Harner1). They are very aggressive, frequently conducting killing parties to collect tsantsa (shrunken heads). Jivaro men classically die a violent death.
    They live in small groups of approximately 9 people, which compromise a polygynous nuclear family. This family will reside in a large, well-built house. Outside of the house will be a garden of approximately 50,000, if it is a single wife household. If the household has two wives, which is far more common, the garden will be roughly 65,000 square feet. This garden is the primary source of carbohydrates, which compromise about 65% of their diet. A garden will yield the following crops: sweet manioc (used to eat and to make the staple manioc beer), two types of sweet potatoes, the carrot-like maya, peanuts, white "maize", squash, tomatoes, red peppers, onions, "gold" bananas, sugar cane, tobacco, cotton, pineapple, papaya, and gourds. Medicinal plants and hallucinogenic plants (especially Banisteriopsis and Datura arborea) are both cultivated and collected in the wild. The remainder of the household diet is from protein received from hunting.
    The only close neighbors will be daughters of the household and their husbands. The Jivaro practice matrilocal residency, with the son-in-law residing with the bride’s family where he will work for the father until the birth of the first child, at which time the son and his bride will move to their own house. This new house will be built within a half of a mile’s distance of the parent’s home. One more house of this nature may be built, but it is rare. This cluster of homes is considered a neighborhood. These neighborhoods are spread at considerable distances from any others.
    These homes will be inhabited on average from 6-9 years, at which time they will be abandoned due to structural decay, or more commonly, barrenness of the garden and game.
    Among the Jivaro the most important rite of passage for boys is the acquisition of the Arutam, an acquired "ancient spectre" soul. This is set in the foundation of their beliefs.
    To the Jivaro who are a violent people who live in an external reality of everyday life and death struggles, the reality is actually in an invisible world of unseen forces that can only be made visible and utilized through the use of hallucinogenic drugs. They explicitly view the waking world as "false" or "a lie" (Harner 134). This supernatural, or internal world and the events that take place within it are the underlying truths for the mystery and coincidence of the daily external world. In this context, the hallucinogenic experience is of primary importance.
    Children are administered a mild hallucinogen a few days after birth to expose them to the "real", invisible/internal reality in hopes of receiving help in surviving infancy. This contact is essential. As children grow older, continued contact is only necessary for the men who are the leaders of Jivaro society, the Kakaram (outstanding killers) and the Shaman. Their power and achievements are directly related to harnessing and utilizing spirits and souls from the invisible world. Possession of Arutam souls prevent injury and death, so acquiring an Arutam soul (a person is not born with this kind of soul) is of utmost importance to the men, but not so essential for the women. This is because of the 2:1 ratio of women to men, and the fact that most men die because of intra-tribal killing, which does not affect women.
    Boys begin to search for their soul around the age of 6 years. This is a journey more than a ritual, as even though there are standard events, it consists largely of an experience that is primarily internal and subject only to the searcher’s own mind. The goal is to discover and internalize the Arutam soul. However, there are consistent external factors. The searcher is accompanied by someone, most commonly the father, to the sacred waterfall in the neighborhood. This will usually be within 8 miles and will always be the highest waterfall around. When they arrive they will spend the day bathing in the waterfall. At night the searcher will fast, drink tobacco water and await the spirit.
    This may last for up to five days. If no spirit has been found then they will resort to drinking the juice from the green bark of the Datura. The effects of the plant are by far the most powerful of the hallucinogenic pharmacy and are terrifying in their manifestations. No one consumes the drink without having a man who has not consumed it present to keep the searcher from injuring himself. The searcher is always the only one at a time to consume it, though, because it is believed that Arutam will not come to reside in cowards, which would be evidenced if the drinker did not drink alone and hence did not go into the invisible world alone. The effects of the drink will begin to be felt in 3-4 minutes, probably because of the fast acting nature of one of the components of the chemical composition, atropine.
    The experience will consist of several common elements. The drinker will awaken to a starless sky that is torn with great streaks and booms of lighting and thunder. The Earth will tremble to its very core. Howling winds will fell trees, forcing the searcher to grab a tree and hold on so as not to be blown away amidst the discord. Here he will wait for his Arutam to arrive. The ancestor spectre will appear from the depths of the jungle, usually in a pair of large creatures. The variety of creatures appearing is as various as those in the forest. It has been reported that some appear as huge severed heads or great balls of flames.
    This will terrify the searcher, but he must not be fearful and run, because if he does he will grow sick and die in just a few days. He must run up and touch it, when it will explode and disappear. He will then awake and return home, telling no one of his experience or even of his success. That night he will go to the riverbank and sleep. The Arutam will appear in his dreams as an old man, who will say to him, "I am your ancestor. Just as I have lived a long time, so will you. Just as I have killed many times, so will you." The unknown ancestor will then disappear and enter the dreamer’s body, where he will reside in his chest.
    "The Arutam soul belief system contains a number of significant supernatural traits organized together into one internally logical system. In this system the central idea of immunity from death is combined with such anthropologically well-known concepts as: a vision quest; a guardian spirit; eternal and multiple souls; a variety of generalized ancestor worship; reincarnation; soul-loss; soul-capture; non-shamanistic spirit possession; and a concept of personally acquired impersonal power, kakarma, which resembles, but is not precisely identical to, the Oceanian mana." (Harner 152)
    Since the standard rite of passage involves communion and manipulation of the invisible, internal world the making of a shaman is essentially written into the standard transformative ritual of the Jivaro. The shaman prefer to use the drink natema, made from banisteriopsis, to achieve their shamanic trance states, as the powerful maikua of the Datura is to potent to allow for the singing, drumming, and sucking necessary to shamanic work. Also, use of maikua with any frequency is believed to lead to insanity. So, because of the regular use of natema among the Jivaro, almost anyone can achieve the shamanic trance. As a result, 1 out of 4 Jivaro men are shamans. All that needs to be done to become a shaman is to give a shaman a gift of payment (usually a shotgun) in return for some of his supernatural power which comes in the form of invisible magical darts, or tsentsak.
    In the tsentsak we will see a most interesting circumstance evolving the literal internalization of an articulated symbolic concept. To the shaman, the tsentsak have a material and an immaterial form, a natural and a supernatural aspect. In its material/ natural form, a tsentsak can be any item small enough to be swallowed by the shaman. Insects, living or dead like worms, spiders, and butterflies can all be swallowed and turned into spirit darts. So can things like quartz crystals (a feature of mythological tsentsak to the Jivaro, although Aborigine medicine men believe in ingesting or imbedding quartz in themselves as a power source). The true and important aspect of the spirit dart is the immaterial supernatural form. Only shamans who are under the influence of natema (also called ayahusca) can perceive this form. When under the effects of the psychedelic, the tsentsak appears as spirit helpers of various forms, like jaguars, butterflies, snakes, or terrible demons. These spirit helpers serve as a type of shield, protecting him from harm and actively assist the shaman in his duties. These spirit helpers are believed to be the cause or cure of illness within the Jivaro culture. Bad or bewitching shamans use their tsentsak to cause sickness or death. Good or healing shamans use tsentsak to combat evil tsentsak and remove them from victims, curing them of their illness.
    The bewitching shaman performs his assassination in the classic way of assassins. He takes the psychedelic natema and approaches the intended victim’s house in the night. He hides outside and "blows" his killing tsenstak into the house. If the spirit dart is strong it will pass through the victim, causing him to die in a few days. More often than not though, the tsentsak will become lodged in the victim’s body. This will cause illness and death, unless a healing shaman can remove it.
    The practice of the good shaman is far more complex than that of his counterpart. The good shaman will arrive at the house of the victim in the afternoon, at which time he will consume natema to allow him to see the invisible world. He will also drink green tobacco water to feed his spirit darts. The hallucinogen will allow the shaman to see through the victim’s body as if it were glass. This enables him to locate the foreign entity and then attempt to remove it. When night has come, the shaman will take the patient into a dark corner of the house, because it is only in darkness that he can perceive the internal world of the invisible. He will then suck the harmful tsentsak from the patient’s body. To do this he will place two of his material tsentsak in his mouth- one near his lips and one in the back of his mouth near his throat. The dart near his lips will be the main power, its immaterial spirit drawing and assimilating the evil tsentsak. The dart near the throat will trap the foreign tsentsak in the case that the foremost dart did not catch the foreign tsentsak and it tries to pass into the shaman’s body, causing the shaman harm. He will then produce the dart from his mouth, showing it to be the one sucked from the patient’s body. The non-shaman will think this to actually have been removed from the victim’s body, and the shaman will not correct this. It is not to deceive the people, but instead to allow them to understand what they can not- that the immaterial aspect of the dart is the important one, and the material dart vomited from the mouth is only a tangible articulation of this intangible symbol. The tsentsak, like most images of idols and sacraments, are only literal, tangible articulations of intangible, unseen symbolic territory. The physical reality is far less important than the psychic reality.
    We find many of the same elements in the transformative rites of the various Australian Aborigines, whose belief systems, along with other Oceanic people’s spiritual concepts, are theorized to share a common root with the Tibetan tantric tradition (Elkin 66).
    The Aborigines hold that dreams are reality, and what happens within them is reality. Their spirit world is that of the "DreamTime", where their heroes and dead ancestors and demons dwell. It is independent of them and concurrent with them. So, even though they know what has happened in their mythology, it is still unfolding.
    Concerning the making of Aborigine medicine men, Anthropologist A. P. Elkin notes: "…There is nothing stranger in anthropological literature… than the descriptions given by Aboriginal medicine men of the way in which they received their power. These seem so impossible and fantastic that we could be pardoned for dismissing them as mere inventions or as the results of nightmares. But a study of the distribution of these experiences and an examination of their patterns give pause for thought. For the striking fact is not so much the weirdness of the details as their similarity over wide regions of the continent and even in apparently widely separated regions." (Elkin 18)
    The Aborigine man who is to become is usually selected in childhood, either by an initiation dream, psychic abilities, or another general approval by the other medicine men. He is then made tired so that he falls into a sleep. He is taken into the skyworld, where he can visit with and talk to spirits of the deceased and other souls of power. It is here that quartz, shell, or cord are sewn or "rubbed" into his body by the gods, or by other medicine men or assistant totems (spirit familiars). He undergoes an enactment of a mummification ritual, in which his intestines are removed through an abdominal incision, and his frontal bone and thighbone are temporarily removed. The dead man is then brought back to life as a man with power, a clever man, a medicine man.
    One more, and most fascinating, notion of the Aborigines is that of history held by the Karadjeri. They believe that they haven’t any right to "make" a history of their own. It would be an improper intervention if they were to possess an original history that specifically belonged to them.
    They simply repeat the actions performed at the Dawn of Time.
    Which brings us back to Mircea Eliade and his statement that man’s essential condition precedes his actual condition. In Myths, Dreams, and Mysteries he goes on to say:

   "One does not repair a worn out organism, it must be remade…. The function of the memory is    not to conserve the memory of the primordial myth, but to transport the patient to where that event is in the process of accomplishment- namely, to the Dawn of Time, to the commencement."

   Both of the Groups that we have covered in this analysis performed Rites of Passage, or as I have called them Transformative Rituals, that were exactly that- transformative. They did not focus on integration as a means to an end of psychological/spiritual transformation. They focused on rebirth as the transformative agency. They have formulated a very effective framework for our constant articulation to operate from within the acknowledgement of the inner reality as the foundation that the outer reality is built upon, the necessity (with non-compliance penalized by death in some instances) of the constant exploration and facilitation of that world. They return us to the very beginning in order to dispel from our intellects the idea that we are dis-integrated. We are reminded of our intrinsic wholeness, and in this knowledge we find our Hercules who frees us from imprisonment and returns us to our virtuous journey towards transcendence.
    We live in a post-industrial society where our inner, immaterial aspect has been left by the wayside in favor of outer material gain. The integrity of the Rites of Passage has suffered. For thousands of years we have been using rites of initiation as a framework to pass on to the uninitiated knowledge of and access to spiritual rebirth. Still, man forgets the meaning of this divine procreation (Jung 323); his need to return to the commencement of Time to remake himself. It is ridiculous and crude to think that disregarding and breaking structures of initiation and transformation will allow us to represent our strength. This is a misrepresentation of everything that we have learned about evolution and human history (Campbell 44).
    Man’s need to achieve individuation and validation will not be broken along with the structure of initiation. By ignoring the desire for rebirth, we ignore our symbolic wellspring, and we render our transcendence vehicle, language, invalid because we have stripped it of its virtue, of its true perfection of purpose. The Rites of Passage are the savior of language, and the hero of man’s drive towards transcendent evolution.
    I am reminded of Nietzche when he said that the sculptor of language was not so modest as to think that he was merely giving things designations by naming them. He thought that he was, in fact, expressing (exerting) supreme knowledge of things. I suspect that Nietzche may have been commenting on the arrogance of man in his faculty of language; but it is true- man is expressing supreme knowledge of things with language because these things are just articulations of inner symbolic territory. And it is for this reason that he finds in things only that which he put there!


Works Cited

Campbell, Joseph. The Inner Reaches of Outer Space. New York: HarperPerennial, 1986

Campbell, Joseph. Myths to Live By. New York: Viking, 1973

Elkin, A.P. Aboriginal Men of High Degree. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions, 1994

Harner, Micheal. Jivaro: People of the Sacred Waterfall. New York: Doubleday/Natural History, 1972

Harner, Micheal. The Way of the Shaman. New York: Bantam, 1986

Jung, C.G. Psychological Reflections. New York: Pantheon, 1953

Leakey, Richard. Origins Reconsidered. New York: Doubleday, 1992

Raphael, Ray. The Men from the Boys. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1988

    Back to Index


    "How dependent is Hayek’s political thinking on his epistemology and his psychology?" by Patrick Dottridge

    Hayek’s political theory is derived from many sources, reflecting his very broad and comprehensive writings. Although known primarily as an economic theorist and political philosopher he also was influential in areas such as jurisprudence, ethics, philosophy of science and theoretical psychology.
    In assessing his political philosophy in order to provide a satisfactory answer to the question, we need to draw distinctions between his epistemology, or theory of knowledge, his psychology and other distinct influences that have contributed to his political thinking. A systematic and logical study of his political thinking is required in order to establish the extent of dependency on Hayek’s epistemology and psychology.
    Hayek established his notoriety in the field of political philosophy in 1944 with the ‘Road to Serfdom’. The main thrust of his argument was directed against the authoritarianism and collectivism of the Right which had become a pressing issue of the time.
    Thematically speaking, Hayek was a staunch advocate of classical liberalism. Liberalism meant individualism, as opposed to collectivism. The creed stressed freedom from government intervention, emphasising the removal of any coercive restraints imposed by the state that reduced the individuals potential for ‘self-reliance, self-responsibility, self-respect and self-realisation.’ (Streissler et al,1969)
    In ‘The Road to Serfdom’ (1944) Hayek stressed that the fundamental principle of his liberal philosophy was that in the ‘ordering of our affairs we should make as much use as possible of the spontaneous forces of society, and resort as little as possible to [state] coercion.’ (Hayek, 1976)
    It is central to Hayek’s argument that society has developed through a spontaneous order that has not arisen through 'centralised directions for the achievement of particular goals'. (Plant, 1980)
    To Hayek, state intervention not only limited the natural evolutionary progression of society, but was antithetical to the idea of a 'spontaneous order' that had allowed such rapid development in the past. Hayek maintained that it was becoming more widely accepted that further advance could not be expected without a complete remodelling of society, one designed by man himself. This represented a 'complete abandonment of the individualist tradition which has created western civilisation.' (Hayek,1976)
    It is Hayek’s intention to recreate this 'spontaneous order' which had been disrupted by collectivist ideas; in essence towards 'designing an undesigned system.' (Tivey & Wright, 1992)
    A crucial element in Hayek’s liberal philosophy was economic freedom; the right to own, use and dispose of private property was a fundamental guarantee of political freedom. Hayek argued that a 'liberal democratic political system and respect for civil liberties can only develop in the context of a capitalist economic order.' (Heywood,1992)
    Hayek’s political stance; his objections to socialism and state interference and his reverence for free market liberalism rest not simply on a utilitarian calculation of the relative advantages and drawbacks of the competing political models, but on a critique of the effectiveness of rationalism in designing political and economic systems.
    'The limitations on a governments ability to predict and control events, which is the basis of Hayek's anti-interventionism, is derived in main from a theory of the limits of the human mind.' (Tivey & Wright, 1992)
    Hayek maintains this resurgence of collectivist ideology is contrary to basic understanding of human nature. The requirements of such a political undertaking are incompatible with Hayek's epistemology and psychology. While no political model is perfect, Hayek's advocacy of liberalism rests on his belief that it is most compatible with our understanding of the human mind.
    To Hayek, the rationalist revolution of the Enlightenment greatly exaggerated the ability of human reason. The ability of man to give an Aristotelian objectivity and structure to the world mislead man into belief that order only existed when it was the product of human intelligence. This psychology largely developed from the Enlightenment with philosophers such as Descartes, Rousseau and later Marx. This movement lead to the 'formation of the false synthesis of constructivist illusions and socialist ideals that dominated the intellectual climate of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries'. (Birner & Zijp, 1994)
    Of particular concern was the way man had assumed an understanding of society and treated the social sciences as it would the physical sciences. Hayek maintained that much of our knowledge of the social world is transient and subjective in nature (e.g. the nature of price changes in the market). Therefore such knowledge cannot be 'objectified' in the way knowledge of the repetitive and ordered physical sciences can be. Thus the constraints of knowledge on social affairs means that the future is unknowable. To Hayek, the 'constructivist rationalism' found in planned economies assumes erroneously that a viable degree of objectivity and continuity exists. Free economies, because of their adaptability and ability to co-ordinate decentralised information (such as the price mechanism) would be more able to cope with natural constraints such as scarcity which are outside their control. (Tivey & Wright, 1992)
    In addition, the assumed 'mastery' over the social environment had given man the idea that it could be controlled and possible to design ideal social institutions, allowing the pursuit and attainment of abstract utopian ideals which were isolated from its tradition and environment. Hayek argued that it was not possible to pursue such ideological aims for society because in a large population there could be no agreement on them. A free market society is necessary so as to allow individuals to pursue their own ends, whatever they may be.
    "It is due to the fact that we do not enforce a unitary scale of concrete ends, nor attempt to secure that some particular view about what is more and what is less important governs the whole of society, that the members of a free society have as good a chance successfully to use their individual knowledge for the achievement of their individual purposes as they in fact have." (Hayek, 1976)
    This constructivist rationalism is the fundamental backbone of collectivist ideology, most notably apparent in the scientism of Marxism and the Nazi movement. To Hayek, this approach is incongruous to our understanding of the human mind and human nature, and this ultimate foundation for any political society is not suitable for supporting such an unnatural construction.
    "The errors of constructivist rationalism are closely connected...with the conception of an independently existing mind substance..which enabled design the institutions of society and culture among which he lives. The conception of an already fully developed mind designing the institutions which made life possible is contrary to all we know about the evolution of man." (Hayek,1973)
    This quote clearly highlights Hayek’s logical approach to his political philosophy, and the premises from which he starts; that the assumption that it is only through man's rational action that he can design beneficial institutions and practices is largely false. Hayek maintains some of man’s most familiar and important institutions such as language, money, the common law, markets, morality and even the human mind itself are 'not the product of an active reason that can directly perceive of their advantages, but they spontaneously develop in a way that is unpredictable in any immediate quantitative sense.' (Tivey & Wright, 1992)
    "These rules of conduct have thus not developed as the recognised conditions for the achievement of a known purpose, but have evolved because the groups who practised them were more successful and displaced other."(Hayek, 1973)
    Hayek identifies Descartes and the ‘tenets of Cartesian rationalism’ as laying the foundations for such a contructivist approach (Hayek, 1973). The Cartesian ‘radical doubt’ made him reject anything which could not be logically derived from ‘clear and distinct’ premises. Consequently, those rules of conduct that could not be justified in this manner were deprived of validity. The social contract thinkers of the Enlightenment such as Hobbes and Rousseau applied this Cartesian maxim to their political philosophy and thus laid the foundations for the ‘contructivist rationalist’ approach.
    For Hayek, the constructivist approach leads to misguided conclusions because it demands complete knowledge of all relevant facts, a possibility only for an omniscient mind. These epistemological and psychological arguments reveal with perfect clarity Hayek’s critique of socialism and reverence for free-market liberalism. Hayek maintains that because of our imperfect knowledge the ‘perfect co-ordination of activities that a socialist rational plan required was not merely a practical difficulty but a theoretical impossibility.’ (Tivey & Wright, 1992) In the absence of price signals, the economic information required to achieve an optimal level of production could not be attained. Such is the nature of the social sciences and social phenomena that knowledge is ‘fragmented and dispersed across possibly innumerable factors.’ (Tivey & Wright, 1992)
    It is Hayek’s argument that the attempt to understand the social world in terms of the physical sciences is not only erroneous, but indeed fraught with danger that makes his case so logically appealing. The social sciences are subjective, conjectural and largely incomprehensible, and so cannot be understood, controlled and designed with the same certainty as the physical world. For Hayek, great danger lay in mans attempt to take over society itself from the natural process of socio-political evolution. Hayek’s thesis in the Road to Serfdom argued that even minor and well-intentioned interventions in a spontaneously developing social order would ‘set in train processes that would eventuate in malign outcomes (including totalitarianism) which nobody had intended.’ (Tivey & Wright, 1992) Such interventions would disrupt the impossibly complex interactions found in modern society in such institutions such as language, law and the market system that have developed over thousands of years through a process of innovation, imitation and experience.
    ‘Thus it is by a process of evolution, not conscious reason that mankind has developed what Hayek called the extended order, or civilisation.’(Birner & Zijp,1994)
    This reveals the significance of Hayek’s epistemological uncertainty and his logically politically liberal conclusions. As a direct consequence of having insufficient knowledge in order to plan effectively, man cannot accurately predict the implications of particular interventions.
    It is also for these epistemological factors that Hayek did not consider a laissez-faire government sufficient. Hayek maintained that the best government is not simply one that governs least, but must also actively keep the market free of intervention and coercion, and above all to ensure maximum freedom for the individual.. Thus the ‘preservation of a maximum of freedom may call for government measures to maintain competition, which private contracts might restrict, to provide services which private enterprise cannot supply, and to prevent misery which private charity cannot cope with.’ (Steissler et al, 1969)
    The meaning and value of freedom that Hayek so passionately promotes is fully theoretized in ‘The Constitution of Liberty’ (1976). Hayeks essentially negative conception of freedom promotes it as that ‘state in which a man in not subject to coercion by the arbitrary will of another.’ (Hayek, 1976) Freedom is to be valued because of the social benefits it makes possible; the potential for progress. Hayek maintains that the state does not proscribe freedom; it uses coercion and therefore reduces freedom and the potential for progress. In socialist states particularly, freedom can easily be quashed by the coercive powers of an interventionist government.

    "A complete monopoly of employment, such as would exist in a fully socialist state in which the government was the only employer and the owner of all the instruments of production, would possess unlimited powers of coercion."
(Hayek, 1976)

    This level of understanding would appear to reduce the level of dependency of Hayek’s political thought on his epistemology and psychology. The deliberate planning of society and the disruption of the ‘spontaneous order’ would not only hinder progress because of the ‘knowledge problem’, but also because it restricts individual freedom. Yet Hayek’s conception of freedom is essentially epistemological in nature. Hayek maintains that some rules, imposed by the state are not inconsistent with freedom. Rules that do not compel actions but simply outlaw certain kinds of behaviour, as the civil and criminal law often does are necessary guidelines for individual action.
    Hayek maintains that a system of general rules allow society a certain degree of predictability in an inherently uncertain world, a necessity if individuals are to make the most of their fragmented, insufficient and decentralised knowledge. (Hayek, 1976)
    Thus the epistemological implications of freedom are clear; not only is individual freedom necessary for man to make the most of his knowledge and to improve upon it, but Hayek suggest that the value of freedom would decline as mans knowledge of the past, the present and the future became an increasing reality. For Hayek, liberty is valued for its instrumental worth; it is essential to allow for the unforseeable and unpredictable.

    "If there were omniscient men, if we could know not only all that affects the attainment of our present wishes but also our future wants and desires, there would be little case for liberty." (Hayek, 1976)

    Thus Hayek's recognition of the epistemological implications on his political thinking directs him to support individual freedom mainly for its instrumental value, and less so for its moral or humanitarian importance. As a result of the fragmented and decentralised knowledge of the individual, freedom is essentially a means to maximise his potential. State intervention, and socialist planning in particular is incompatible with a large and diverse population because there can be no agreement as to what that aim or objective for society will be. For Hayek, liberty has moral significance because of the unique psychology of the individual. Society must be free so that individuals can pursue their own personal goals 'without any agreement on the over all ends of human life being presupposed', as entrenched in the idea of the spontaneous order. (Plant, 1980)
    Most support for classical liberalism, as advocated by philosophers such as Friedmann and Bentham have justified such typically liberal principles, such as the free market economy, private property and government non-interventionism on either utilitarian grounds or on the basis of indefeasible individual rights. (Tivey & Wright, 1992)
    Hayek’s thought draws from both approaches but cannot be wholly identified with either. Hayek’s most persuasive argument is epistemological in nature, and is derived from his fundamentally philosophical thesis about the constraints of human knowledge. Where Hayek draws on other approaches, such as utilitarianism, these are often logically supported by premises that are epistemological in nature (such as his case for individual freedom), so it is difficult to extract elements of his thought that are entirely distinct from his epistemology and psychology.
    For Hayek, resting his political theory on utilitarian grounds is not sufficient. Hayek’s epistemological implications on political theory are fundamental. In the Constitution of Liberty, Hayek draws on Rawls (Two Concepts of Rules) and recognises the insufficiency on liberal theory resting on purely utilitarian principles.

"Only a society of omniscient individuals could give each person complete liberty to weigh every particular action on general utilitarian grounds." (Hayek, 1976)

Hayek thus recognises the need for ‘restricted’ utilitarianism; it cannot support the classical liberal position alone. Indeed the application of utilitarianism is restricted again by the epistemological problem.
    Thus it is clear that the structure and basis for Hayek’s political thought is substantially supported by two branches of logical argument; his psychology of the human mind and the epistemological problem; the constraints of human knowledge. What emerges also is that while apparently separate arguments form further support for his liberal stance, such as Hayek’s utilitarianism, these too have their roots in Hayek’s substructure of psychology and epistemology.

    Back to Index


    "In Pursuit of Meaning, Through Life," by Brian Park

    Admittedly, the philosophy of the late nineteenth century German Friederich Nietzsche had a profound impact on my world view. I have incorporated his belief that humans should occupy themselves with living in the reality that is, and not to be preoccupied with fantastic illusions of working towards a great afterlife, into my philosophy on life. Granted, I am still very young, but from what I can see, humans have no universal nature nor do any set of underlying human morals dictate what is right and wrong. And as much as people would like to believe, unfortunately, we do not have free will. Every action carries the weight of a punishment or reward, so in essence, people do things either in fear or in hope of attaining one of these outcomes, therefore, humans do not have free will. So, then what is the meaning of life? To live each day as if it is heaven itself is all anyone can really do; accepting and embracing the reality of your life is the source of meaning. Whether God exists or not is irrelevant, the only thing that is within the control of humans is the power to embrace life. As 1950’s Beat poet Allen Ginsburg stressed, people should be concerned with "living in and inhabiting the human form." Living means to not let outside forces take away your pursuit of life, once this thirst for life is taken, you are simply existing, waiting to die.
    To understand this position on life, take the following hypothetical situation. A woman has a terminal disease; in one year she will be dead. But she does have two options, she can simply live out the year in a hospital bed, weak and sickly from her disease, and die in one year. Or, the alternative choice is that she can take a pill which will allow her to live her remaining time in full physical health. But the cost to this health is the pill hastens death by six months. What should she do?
    Many would believe that the woman should deny the pill because such a suicidal act tries to usurp the power of God, and who is she to play God? Obviously, such reasoning is linked with a religious belief in "God" as the great ruler and humans as the lowly subjects. Taking a Western religious stance, such believers would assume at the very core of life there are certain morals that stand true. And taking your life, assuming a Godly role, is an immoral and sinful act. Therefore, the woman should deny the pill, she should endure and prolong her suffering, so that she can be rewarded in the afterlife. Being naturally born sinful, or bad, this line of reasoning would argue that her situation is merely part of a great "master plan" set forth by the creator. Accepting this "plan" would mean that she has to suffer on earth, deny life, and continue waiting for death, because there is an elusive heaven that awaits her as a reward.
    Further, by taking this religious stance, one would be inclined to believe that the meaning of life is to be united with God in heaven. Therefore, the woman should stay away from sinning so that this prize will not be denied. As a goal, reward, or prize, heaven is where many of these religious moralists would find meaning to their existence. This metaphysical place, heaven, requires one to submit to a God and deny life in the mortal earthly form as a price for entrance into a good afterlife. Accordingly, the woman should not become distracted from this goal with such preoccupations as living. In fact, it can be said that it is her categorical imperative that she suffer her fate and await her death so that she can claim her place in heaven. By this, it is her duty to deny the pill, prolong her suffering, and refuse to engage life; because heaven awaits those who suffer most.
In arguing this religious stance, one must first examine their major premise that humans are essentially sinful, or evil. Indeed, humans are animals who are very capable of doing extraordinarily terrible things onto others. But I believe such labels as sinful, evil, or even good, are merely labels created by mortal men intent on maintaining a certain degree of control over their fellow humans. We are creatures with a comparatively, high degree of cognitive intelligence that allows us to think for ourselves. And in a communal species like our own, this lack of power is terrifying, thus there are those who would conjure such labels as good and evil to keep society in check. To impose a certain degree of guilt on the populace ensures that people will not get too out of line. Thus, we are creatures who are capable of extremely terrible deeds as well as incredible noble actions.
    Removing such labels as sinful, or evil, the woman would have a clearer choice ahead of her, as she would be free of the unnecessary guilt that other humans would put on her. From my experiences and observations, humans do not have a predisposed nature that defines us. Such notions of a human nature only try to mold entire societies into obedient and easily controlled masses of people.             However, if by nature one is referring to the reality of the mortal world, than indeed, humans must adhere to this world. Therefore, the woman should feel inclined to determine on her own if she wants to continue to suffer and live the remainder of her life in a hospital bed, or, if she would rather sacrifice time for a higher quality of life. In which case, I would argue that laying in a hospital bed awaiting death is not living. Kept in bed, away from life, away from nature, is the denial of the reality that is life. Life is the only reality humans have any sort of concrete knowledge of. And once the illusion of an afterlife is torn down, her most humane choice is to live. Humans are animals with a need to live, to embrace life, and that is not sinful nor evil, it is natural.
    From a religious stance, one may claim that she should stand by her convictions, and make the moral choice of prolonging her life. In refuting this belief, I will first establish that morality does not exist. I believe morals are socially constructed ideals on how to live in a controlled lifestyle. Therefore, they are not her convictions or morals, but rather the morals society placed on her. Morality as having any truth is an illusion; the belief in morals is what allows some to empower themselves at the cost of others. For morals to have any ground they would have to be universally true and intrinsically accepted by all of humanity.      Thus, finding moral truth in either a scripture or a society is futile, because for every scripture you follow there is another sect that would counter your set of morals with their own. Because every religious sect claims to have a monopoly over moral truths, and as so many seem to stand in contradiction to one another, it is fair to say that the lack of consistency in morals reveals them to be artificial, they are man made, not inherent. Being penned or conjured by men, men with their own agendas, the entire notion of a moral is questionable; are you following an inherent truth, or someone’s personnel prejudice?
    In choosing to take the pill, the woman should not look outward to what is morally correct, but rather, turn inward and search for what is both real and consistent, the pursuit of life. Morality would deny many natural drives of life because it would allow too many to have too much power, therefore morals are needed for control. Acknowledging the artifice of morals, the woman should turn to what is real, living. Living is the only "truth" that is universal, the pursuit to embrace life has caused humans to do both extraordinary and terrible deeds, but that drive spans every continent and every era. Living is the only "moral" that one should live by. Granted, in pursuit of life, many have been forced to suffer, and I do not adhere to inflicting pain onto others for personnel gain. Instead, one should pursue living as the fundamental rule to life, and not moral dictates, and cause the least amount of suffering as possible. And by trying to cause the least amount of suffering as possible, one should take into consideration their own life; it is not necessary to endure great hardships out of some absurd notion of duty to morals.
    With both the pro-morals and pro-living arguments made, one would believe that it is the woman’s "free will" to choose. But this notion of "free will" is just as much an illusion as are moral truths. I have found that free will does not exist because no choice can be freely made without regard for the end results. Every choice has its consequence and whether one fears or looks forward to the outcome, it is the ultimate effects from the choice that dictate the choice itself. Thus, if it is the consequence that controls the choice, the "free" aspect of free will is negated. There are stipulated punishments or rewards to each choice, either imposed by scripture, society, or nature, thereby making freedom, in a free will context, nonexistent. One must simply choose out of necessity. For example, I am sure the woman would rather freely will that the burden of this disease did not befall her, but unfortunately, nature infected her with it. Now, she is forced to examine very limited and controlled possibilities, and choose the correct outcome, which will reveal the correct choice. Free will does not exist, therefore, she must choose out of necessity. She must determine which outcome has the most benefit and meaning for her, in her few remaining days.
    In choosing how to live your last days, the quest for the meaning of life becomes a more pressing issue. First, there are no universals concerning our human nature, nor of morality, and because free will does not exist, what is the meaning of life? It is futile to search for meaning in a metaphysical world because, unfortunately, humans do not conveniently have books that state any truths or meanings to life. Therefore, if one is to find meaning in life, it will be found through an inward introspection, not through artificial influences from the rest of society. When nature or reality is reduced to its most basic form, the only "truth" to be found is to embrace life. Living is the honest embracing of both nature and humanity’s place within, not above, that nature. Humans must strive to embrace their roles in reality, in life, we must abandon the pursuit of life being a test to see who gets into heaven. We must live fully, not letting outside forces control how we pursue life. To find meaning in life, we must fully embrace life, we must seek an inner, individual, satisfaction in the world.
    With the meaning of life being centered on living, the only available choice for the woman is to take the pill. Morals and human truths have no intrinsic value, her choice should be guided by the very natural drive of living. She must pursue life to its fullest; the first step to this pursuit, is getting out of the hospital and entering life again. Indeed, it is unfortunate that she must sacrifice time for this quality of life, but it is the quality of life and not the quantity that defines the state of living. In essence, this woman can either await death in a bed or take part in life; the choice is clear, one must do the only natural thing and live. Outside judgments are irrelevant, one must choose based on the outcomes they feel will bring an individual satisfaction.
    My world view on life does have a strong Nietzschean tie. Undeniably, I was greatly influenced by his pursuit to liberate humanity of the unnecessary burdens of guilt and the denial of life that had been self imposed. His philosophy on living in the reality of nature and life, by destroying the illusions that have dominated the human outlook on life, have found their way into my personnel world view. And indeed, his concept of life being an ever raging war for power does show in my philosophy on morals, and the traditional view of human nature. But to say that I am a blind Nietzschean would not be true, my philosophy and his diverge over the concept of the "superman." Nietzsche replaced the belief in a God and heaven with his own illusion of the unattainable superman. Ultimately, there is no difference in Nietzsche’s faith in his superman, and a Christian’s faith in a heaven. Both are forces which are supposed to guide humanity, and both are illusions set forth by very mortal humans; neither have any sort of divinity of inherent truth.
    As humans, we are defined by our choices in life. Because what we choose in life determines the degree to which we live. And at the very core of every person lies the drive to live. As humans with a high degree of cognitive intelligence, we are a part of nature, not above it; our high intellect should serve as a tool to understand this fact. To Nietzsche, humans must destroy everything, so that a new and more pure humanity centered on life can rise. I do agree that we must abandon the traditional illusions that have prevented humans from embracing life, but living in pursuit of destruction is not necessarily the answer. I believe that we must not let human made and human imposed notions of right or wrong control how we live, but living for the sake of destruction is not living. We must live to find an inner and individual satisfaction. Therefore, all life choices should be made with the intent of embracing life.

    Back to Index



Calvin rocking out after publishing his classic 'Institutes of the Christian Religion' in the 16th century
Aaron Paul Bell