the 5 questions of the modern age...

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the 5 questions of the modern age...

Postby Peter Kropotkin » Wed Mar 31, 2021 5:21 pm

as is well known, you cannot get to an answer until you get
a question....the great thinkers who have defined the world, both
modern and ancient, first had to work out what the questions were,
before they could answer cannot come up with an answer
until you understand the question.....Einstein for example, his greatness
is not in his answers, but in formulating the questions..

so in this regards, we must seek the questions that define the modern age,
before we can answer them....

question one: as I have demonstrated, we do not have a universal ethical theory...
(in my ethics and morality thread) and we only have an "ad hoc" theory of ethics/morality
which means, we really have situational ethics, the situation dictates the ethics....
which is fine, but that means there is not a universal, complete theory of ethics/morality
that we can turn, how do we, or can we even create a universal ethical/moral

question two: what is the relationship between the one and the community?
we still haven't, after all these years, come to some sort of understanding
of what is our individual relationship with the state and the state
relationship with the one, the individual...

question three: what is the goal? I don't see anyone coming up with some sort
of goal or destination for us to reach for, either individually or collectively....

what are we doing and why? we seem to be drifting because we don't any type
of goal that we are trying to reach... we have many possible goals we can
try for... eliminating poverty for example can be one such goal or conquering
space is another such goal that we can reach for collectively....but the problem
is that we don't have any such overall goal in mind... we seem to be
going through life, "ad hoc" which is to say, we are focus on dealing with
specific task, such as ending the pandemic, which is good, but what happens after
that? and that is the problem... we think short term and we act short term,
but existence requires us to think beyond 6 months or a year.... what is the goal
for us one year from now? or what is the goal 5 years from now?
what is the goal, 20 years from now?

the 4th question is this: what values shall we hold ourselves to?
we simple have no sense of what our values should be... are we to hold
to values like honesty? or to hope or to love or to hate or to anger?
what values shall we engage with both individually and collectively?

the 5th question: "what are we to do?"... what is it we are going to do
collectively? I have rejected the modern ideal of seeking the baubles of
existence... money, fame, titles, power... there is no point in seeking those
things because there cannot be beyond those things.. in other words,
if you seek money, that is all you can get.. there is nothing beyond that....
if you seek fame, there is nothing beyond that.... but if
you seek a value that means something, like love or hope, seeking those
values lead you to something beyond those values....for in seeking love,
we find ourselves being rewarded by other values like esteem, belonging,
the psychological values that we human beings must have... seeking love
is one way to find the psychological needs we have....whereas seeking
money or fame, doesn't answer our psychological needs nor does it
answer our biological needs of food, water, shelter, education.. so on....

and the first part of the question of existence is to meet the basic needs
that we have, both physical and psychologically..... the second part is
to find out what we should be seeking....... so we meet our needs and
then we create our meaning, our purpose in existence....both individually
and collectively.....

so, we first meet our needs and then we move beyond them....
so what is outside of, beyond just meeting our needs?

seek that question...

Peter Kropotkin
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Re: the 5 questions of the modern age...

Postby Peter Kropotkin » Wed Mar 31, 2021 7:24 pm

we are in need of both the theory of existence, and the practice of existence....

in other words, the right has practice and the left has theories,
but the rightwing practice has no theories to back it up and the left
theories have no practice to back it up.....

we must unite the theories of existence with the practice of existence....
and that is the point, one of the points of our modern existence, is to
connect up theory with practice.....

what are we to do after we have worked out our theories of what it means to
be human? we must translate that into action....what makes the great thinkers
and leaders of mankind is not only their theories, but how to translate those
theories into action...... Gandhi for example is one who worked out the theory
and then worked out the practice...

as did MLK and Lincoln and FDR as did every great leader.... notice that I don't call
heads of state like Hitler and stalin and IQ45, leaders... that is because they have
only practice, to be a dictator and no overall theory that justifies that practice
of being a dictator.....the only thing they are thinking about is seeking of power
and then maintaining that power... there is no outside theory that guides them....
just the pursuit of power... that is why Putin is a failure... the raw pursuit of power
without any theory behind it...

and the left is full of theories but has no practice to back it up... so we need
to unite the left theories with the right practices.....and that is our engagement...
to unify theory with we can now work out the 5 questions of existence
in terms of the theory and then carrying out of those theories into practice.....

Peter Kropotkin
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Re: the 5 questions of the modern age...

Postby Peter Kropotkin » Wed Mar 31, 2021 7:50 pm

so what are some current theories that do not have any practice behind them?

as I have mentioned, communism is one such theory... but so is the right wing
theory of "Rugged individualism"... as is the right wing theory of capitalism...
it is a theory that has failed in practice, just as communism has failed....

(as a side note, I hold that communism as defined by Marx, has yet to be tried,
the communism of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and other communist leaders is really to use
communism as a front for the real goal which is those individual leaders attempting
to gain power and then keeping that power.. communism is just a means to power, instead
of the actual goal and that is why communism as failed.. it has been a means to an end,
instead of the goal itself)

take the entire oeuvre of the right wing and we find that they cannot turn their "ideals"
"theories" into practice because their "theories" are basically wrong....for example,
their Machiavellian theory of the notion that once a man is born, he cannot change his
spots, if he is born evil, he will remain evil and if he is born good, then he will be good
all his life... a theory which has been disproven daily... think about who you were as a child
and who you are now... you have changed and in many cases dramatically change....

I know people who changed in their 70's because of events in their lives
and I know some people who will never change regardless of the events in
their life.. IQ45 is an example of someone who still holds the theories of
childhood as a senior citizen...he has never change or even modified his
beliefs...and that is why he is so constantly wrong..... has has never adapted
his thought to his age......the beliefs I held as a child must changed if I am
to become an adult.. I cannot hold the same beliefs that I held 30 years ago,
as a 32 year old man.. I am no longer 32 and the beliefs that I held at 32
are not suitable for a 62 year old man.. I had to change my beliefs to fit my
current age and situation....

thus is the point of the failure of the right, it holds in the fixed rigidity of
existence when we cannot be fixed in our thoughts, beliefs or actions...
we must be able to change and adapt to our current situation...

and conservatives cannot change or adapt to the ever changing situations
because they are fixed by their belief in the rigidity of existence.....
they simple are unable to change to accommodate the every changing conditions
of existence...that is their theories are unable to change and adapt to the
new conditions...... their failure lies in their inability to change their
practices to meet changing conditions....

Peter Kropotkin
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Re: the 5 questions of the modern age...

Postby Peter Kropotkin » Thu Apr 01, 2021 1:27 am

so what is "Marxism" or "communism"... why they are attempts to
answer "theoretically questions" with practical answers...
"What am I to do?" is a theoretical question until we put some meat on it
and decide what it is we are suppose to do.....are we to engage in "capitalism"
and spend our lives in vain pursuit of, titles, fame and power.....

or are we to engage in "communism" and have less pursuit of those baubles
and more in pursuit of our "soul" and and how do we improve ourselves.....

the point is that under communism/ anarchism, we can work out, for ourselves,
what it means to be human... and granted we won't have our fancy cars and our
3 vacation homes but you know what, I hold that people will be happier if
they engage in the Socratic foundational beliefs of "knowing thyself"
and "the unexamined life isn't worth living".... those are the beliefs we
should be engaged with, not seeking the baubles of modern day
isms like capitalism.....

but I have spoken out against communism... to be a pawn in the wheels of
dialectical materialism... to be part of some large class of people instead
of being who we are, which is individuals who have to fit into society...
not as Lenin or Stalin thought it, but as Marx thought it....

the goal is not to materially improve one's life, but to improve one's
inner world of the soul... to make ourselves into better versions of ourselves...

to find out what it means to be human gives me a goal, a possibility to aim for...
an alternative to just being a cog in the wheel, but to become what is possible for
me....and then with that knowledge, to become who I am within a communal
sense.... I find myself one with society because I am one with myself and by doing that,
the disconnect, the alienation we feel from society goes away because that disconnect,
that alienation comes from us being disconnected/alienated from who we are, who we
really are.. it is not just the pursuit of wealth or power or titles or fame, but our pursuit
of what it means to be human and what does that mean for us individually and

the goal isn't wealth or power or fame, but becoming who we are and leading a life
of examination of who we are and what we might become, what might be possible for us....

the answer lies within us, not outside of us and until we understand that,
we shall remain lost and disconnected about what it means to be human......

Peter Kropotkin
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Re: the 5 questions of the modern age...

Postby Peter Kropotkin » Thu Apr 01, 2021 1:50 am

the question lies in not creating material wealth, in either money or
in the creation of material goods, but in the social transformation of
a human being who knows himself and, and is engaged with the
question of what it means to be human...what are our possibilities,
both individually and collectively..

we can start by working out what it means to be "ethical and moral",
we have no universal ethical/moral theory to work out what it means to
be moral or ethical or even to tell us what is "right" vs what is "wrong"

without an universal ethical theory, we have no sense of what is "good" and
what is "evil" and thus we can account for the last two centuries as having no
values because it has no universal ethical/moral theory....without
a universal ethical/moral theory, we can expect more events like the
holocaust and Abu Ghraib torture events and us thinking nothing is wrong
when placing children into concentration camps because they "broke" the law
entering the country, even though it was their parents that entered the country
and how is it "moral" or "ethical" to put children into concentration camps if
their parent broke the law?

we have no answer because we have no means of answering that question without
a universal ethical/moral theory... instead of what we have now, which is a "ad hoc",
situational theory of ethics which just means, the situation dictates the ethical theory....
situational ethics allows such actions as the holocaust and Abu Ghraib and children
concentration camps.. because the situation dictates the ethics/morals....
and the (our) ethical/moral concerns don't dictate what we do, as we would do
if we have a universal ethical/moral theory.........

so, we can spend our days working out some sort of universal ethical/moral
theory or we can work out what it means to be human and from that,
decide what a universal ethical/moral standard means.....

instead of seeking out the useless baubles of the modern world and ignore
what it means to be human and what a universal ethical/moral theory would
look like.....

Peter Kropotkin
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Re: the 5 questions of the modern age...

Postby Peter Kropotkin » Thu Apr 01, 2021 4:44 pm

so we have two distinct and different ways to approach the world...
the ancient world, especially Greek and partly the Romans, thought
the highest example of the human being was in seeking virtue.. the virtuous
man was the highest example of what a human being could be.. not what he built
or how much money he made or how many slaves he owned or what was the
extent of the empire he built... the question of virtue, how to get it and how
to keep it was at the front of every philosopher in the ancient world...
even Aristotle who was an outward looking philosopher, not an inward philosopher,
like Socrates or Plato.... even Aristotle wrote "The Nicomachean Ethics" which
was his understanding of what virtue meant...and that was what the ancients
sought, virtue, not wealth or titles or fame... but virtue....

and what does the modern world seek? If there is a list of the 100 most
desired modern qualities, virtue would stand around 150, as the most important
qualities people should have......with greed and anger and hatred and violence being
ranked much higher then virtue..... and that is too bad...we want our hero's
to be able to accomplish something, like score the winning goal or to build
great buildings or to make an enormous amount of money or to be famous for
no apparent reason...but the ancients wanted nothing to do with that... their goal
was to seek virtue.....

now the question becomes this, what if, we combined the two aspects,
the ancient world pursuit of virtue and the modern world pursuit of
doing things...think about a virtuous Henry Ford or a virtuous Goethe,
or a virtuous Paul MacCartney...... it isn't enough to be able to get things done,
but being virtuous while getting things done..... the best examples might be
Gandhi or Abe Lincoln or MLK.... we hold that they were virtuous and they
got things done....and that might become the new example we hold up,
virtuous people who are also able to accomplish great tasks....

restore virtue to its rightful place as being a desired quality we need to seek,
along with the modern quality of getting shit done.... but stuff like ART,
poetry, novels, as well as building cities and high rises and sports stadiums....
as well as throwing a touchdown pass or getting the ball into the net or
running the 4 minute mile.... any one of these things can be considered to
be accomplishing great task...

we need to rethink what it means to be human... we can be great humans if
we can create ART or toss the basketball into the net or build some modern
high long as we hold to being virtuous while doing so.... so we ask,
what is being virtuous?

Virtuous: having or showing high moral standards....

and we reach the part where we run into what does it mean to have
"high moral standards?"

as we don't have any sort of universal ethics/morals, we cannot
work out what it means to be every situation we face today
is a situational ethics.. which means the situation dictates the ethics we use...
and that is certainly not what Gandhi or Lincoln or MLK would have said...
they held to a universal ethical/moral standard..... but can you tell me,
what is a universal ethical/morality that we subscribe to today?

God is dead and with his death comes the loss of a universal ethical/morality....

and that was the struggle of Nietzsche, to create a secular moral/ethics that made
sense... N. failed by the way.... and the search for some sort of universal ethical/moral
standard continues to be the search for the modern era... just as the question of knowledge
drove philosophy for 250 years, from Descartes to Kant, the question of a universal ethical/
morality dominates the modern era... the problem is we don't realize it yet....

but the truth has been since Kierkegaard, the search has been for a universal
ethical/moral theory that can work for everyone....every single modern
philosopher has struggled with this....Nietzsche, Heidegger, Wittgenstein,
Sartre, and all the existentialists have struggled with it.......

how are we to live given that we don't have a universal ethical/moral theory?

and this question has lead us to such great moral failings of the modern age
as the two world wars, the Holocaust, the atomic bomb, Abu Ghraib,
concentration camps for children..... the list can go on ad nauseam....

or perhaps think about it differently.... we human love our games, we
play all sorts of game from Baseball to basketball to chess to football,
and what is the heart of these games? why the rules... we human beings
are about the rules, as the Jews understand in their obedience to the rules
of god.. thou shall just one example of how human beings respond
to the rules... we like rules that tell us how to play the game... without rules,
it really isn't a game worth playing..... well, life is like that... we need rules to
understand how to play the game of life...and as of right now, we are lacking in
the rules governing morals and ethics.

in modern society, you can't go two feet without hitting a rule about this
or that, except in the case of how are we to interact with each other...
the rules of ethics/morality....... what is ethical behavior and what isn't?
what is the moral thing to do? And therein lies the entire philosophical
search in the 20th and 21st century.. the creation of a secular, universal theory
of ethics and morality.....if we don't find a universal theory of ethics/moral,
then we have an "ad hoc" or situational ethics.. the situation dictates the ethics/morals.....

Peter Kropotkin
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Re: the 5 questions of the modern age...

Postby Peter Kropotkin » Thu Apr 01, 2021 5:17 pm

and what does this all mean to the average guy on the street?

what is the point of being virtuous or even getting shit done if
the average guy on the street is still struggling with getting the
basics of existence.. of seeking the physical and psychological needs
of existence.. the average guy on the street is still engaged in trying to meet
his or her, physical and/or psychological needs... they don't have time
to think about being virtuous or getting stuff done because they
are too busy just trying to survive...just achieving the basic goals of
survival...and who has the time or the energy to accomplish anything beyond that?

99% of all human beings are simply engaged in a struggle to survive and cannot
expand their vision beyond that meeting of needs.... seeking out the physical
and psychological needs is all the average guy on the street has time/energy for....

they aren't not and cannot be "free" if all they have time for, energy for, is
the struggle to meet one's needs...... to achieve any type of freedom requires
that the average person biological and psychological needs are met...

that is the starting point of what it means to be free... to be able to meet one's
physical and psychological needs... and then and only then can we discuss meeting
the other aspect of existence, freedom and other important aspects of existence....

why I cannot seek such needs a love, belonging, esteem if I am struggling to
meet my basic physical needs of food, water, shelter, education, health care....

for me, until we solve the meeting the basic needs of existence, there is no point
in discussing meeting our other needs.. until I am fed or clothe, housed, educated
or have universal health care, there is no point in discussing such values as
freedom, creativity, respect, integrity, order, forgiveness, goodness..etc.. etc... if I cannot
provide for my basic needs...what is the point of seeking, say honesty, for example if
I am starving and living on the streets?

the struggle to be human begins with the struggle to met our needs, our
physical and psychological needs.. and until we meet those needs, there is
no point in speaking about our other what if Kropotkin speaks
of virtue, virtue won't feed me or house me or educated me or give me
health care........

every question must come back to the beginning... that is meeting our basic human
needs that every single biological creature has.. and millions if not billions of human beings
today cannot met.....

Peter Kropotkin
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